Thursday, January 9, 2014


It's funny how things change.  And how they stay the same.  Here's a fun reminder.

About this time last year I met my family for a pretty awesome trip to France.  My hand-me-down, never-need-them-because-I-live-in-the-tropics shoes fell apart in the streets, which led to some distraught time in a huge department store.  I also shivered a good bit.

This week, there's been quite the cold snap here and I am once again shivering like crazy, although I can say I'm slightly better outfitted for the weather.

Last year at Christmas time, I was eating rice on the floor and harvesting rice with my Malagasy friends and family.  I was eating litchis by the basketful and sweating profusely.

This year, I'm stretching out Christmas to make it as long and cold as possible.  I spent the actual Christmas day with family in Massachusetts, where we ate turkey and stuffing and cranberries.  No rice could be found on the table (or the floor).  We carefully stepped along the driveway to avoid slipping on the ice.  Next week will be second Christmas with the North Carolina part of the family, and I am willing to bet money there won't be any rice there either.


Living in America, I feel like January is all about fresh starts.  It's a new year, and society says you should resolve to change somehow.  New Years and the craziness of Christmas had barely passed when I stepped into the stores to find dirt-cheap Santa chocolates and tons of hearts and pink glitter.  We don't have time to linger on that holiday that just ended because it's time to gear up for the next.

Seeing how I haven't posted anything here in almost 6 months I guess I got sucked in a little bit.  So what's the update, you ask?  Here goes...

I started a new service position in September.  I've learned a whole lot, ranging from how to give instructions suitable for a kindergartener to how to cook about 15 different things made of pumpkin.  Here's a short photographic account:

Exploring the garden after school.


Kindergarteners getting elbow-deep in the pumpkin fun.

So far my domestic service has mirrored my Peace Corps service in many ways, with lots of ups and downs, new friendships, mistakes, and victories.

So what's in stake for 2014?  As always, I'll try to do my best in my service, but keep in mind that my best effort isn't always perfection.  I'm looking forward to moving out of service in the second half of the year.  In everything, I hope I can find a balance between a desire to move slowly and disconnect, and the reality of a life that is busy and fast, between enjoying the moment, valuing where I've come from, and looking forward to what's ahead.

Happy New Year!

Monday, July 22, 2013

On things, old and new, and transitioning.

Life in America, even while unemployed, quickly gets away from you.  I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but that is how it is.

One of the biggest and most time-consuming parts of my American life has been the technology.  There's free internet everywhere and it's pretty fast, limited only by my outdated and well-used netbook.  I can actually internet shop and buy things if I want.  Or I can read today's news, every day.  I've learned what the heck pinterest is, and that # is a hashtag.  Nobody calls # a "pound" any more without the risk of getting laughed at, speaking from experience.  When I shut off my computer there's the TV.  Free movies and TV of all types, current types, on a big screen.  And I don't know if you realized, but high definition has come a long way in the last 2 years.  Am I standing in this lawyer's office or just watching it on TV?  Also, call me whenever you want.  Just because you can.  I'm just happy that my phone is dumb, so I don't have to figure out how to use that, too.  No wonder so few people read books.  And oh, the books.  The authors have just kept writing and it's awesome.

I've been awed by how much stuff I feel that I really need to get along in the U.S.  It makes me a little bit uncomfortable.  I no longer have to make special trips into town to hit the ATM (and hope that it's working) and carry around an uncomfortably large stack of cash.  I do have to convince someone to give me a credit card.  Public transportation here is nonexistent to highly inconvenient to laughably expensive, and since I don't think I can mentally or emotionally handle city life that means I had to go car shopping.  Quite possibly the most stressful shopping ever invented.  My closet is full of what I think to be a ridiculous amount of new clothing, but it turns out that there are seasons here, and that I need clean, neat clothing to go out into town, and even nicer items for interviews or weddings, and clothes I can wear for outside work or exercise.

Parts of life in America still haven't ceased being awesome.  Unlimited ice water, hot showers with functional shower heads, and laundry machines are up high on that list.  Grocery shopping is still difficult to do, because I still can't quite conceive of being able to buy more that a few days worth of food or food for more than one person without it going bad before you get around to eating it.   Also, knowing what you want only means you narrowed it down to a minimum of 5 different options.  The options are a killer for me.  One trip to CVS included 15 minutes of standing in front of the hair ties.  If I'm going to spend a whole $3 on hair accessories I now feel like I need to make sure they are exactly the right ones, and why the heck do I have to buy a minimum of 30?

Yes, there are a lot of changes in my life and adjustments to be made.  But above all that, it has been incredible to see and catch up with all the family and friends I missed while I was gone.  It's easy to get tired of talking about where I've been and what I've done, but it will take a long time for me to tire of hearing about what everyone else has done.  Someone asked me: do you miss Madagascar?  Well, there are things I don't miss, but I really do miss the people.  But I count myself lucky because now I am back among all the awesome people that I missed when I was there.

Next year!

I've been lucky enough to find a job for the next year.  Starting in September, I'll be a FoodCorps service member in North Carolina.  I'm very excited to start working in school gardens and to live near some of my family as well.  As always, I will do my best to keep everyone up to date.