Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wow. It has been a while.

Patricia brought it to my attention that I’ve updated pictures on Facebook, but I haven’t updated my blog. Oops. I still have no idea who reads this beside my family and really close friends. So for anyone who I haven’t talked to in person lately… How about an update?

I’m going to make this like the spark notes version; super short and sweet.

I came home for vacation for almost all of July, and per the doctor’s suggestion, I didn’t think about Kyrgyzstan. I had a great time at home relaxing and visiting with my nephew and the rest of my family.
Highlights from the “visit” stage:
-meeting my new beagle puppy: (at PetSmart buying him a new toy Dad: we need to get copper a new indestructible toy. Me: What happened to the last indestructible toy? Dad: He destroyed it.)
-traveling to VA to visit friends
-broccoli, mama’s enchiladas, and other delicious food things

Moving on…
The night before I was supposed to go back, as I was packing (I know, right! ME, packing the night before as opposed to weeks in advance? Weird) I had a major breakdown- anxiety attack, etc. After a lot and I mean A LOT of soul searching, praying, crying, thinking, and discussing; I decided not to go back to Kyrgyzstan for the time being. I called PC staff and was able to take an Interruption of Service, which means I have the option of going back later (within a year).

I haven’t decided 100% about going back, Right now; it is looking like I won’t be going back. I am currently studying for the LSAT and working on Law School application, and hopefully, I’ll get into law school next fall.

I really do understand why they call Peace Corps, “The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love.” I survived some of the most difficult months of my life, yet; (maybe perversely) I wouldn’t trade or change them for anything.

I don’t know if I’ll keep updating this blog, or not, Maybe I will, maybe I’ll start a new one for the next part of my life adventure (even though I have no idea where that will take me) Who knows?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Peace Corps Experience: Chapter Two

You might have been remarking that things have been quiet on the
blogging front for a while now, and you'd be right. I just haven't
really been up to it recently. Unless you've been hiding in a cave, or
haven't seen any news program in the past few weeks, you'll know that
the situation in Kyrgyzstan has been pretty tense. I'm not really
allowed to talk about it and I don't really know any more than you
would if you read the news. Basically the only additional thing I can
add to what you've read or heard is that I'm safe. Most of the
violence was restricted to the south, and the north remains peaceful.
The past few weeks have been really, really tough for all the
volunteers- almost as bad, if not worse than the two months of my
personal "dark ages." I'm handling everything better this go around,
but it is more difficult because, due to the recent violence, most of
the volunteers in the south are leaving the country and a few
volunteers from other oblasts, too. Among the volunteers that are
leaving are almost ALL of my best friends over here. Plus, K16s, who
were supposed to leave in August, are leaving now, too. I've been
blessed for so long with so many wonderful friends, and all of you
back home are so important to me, but serving in the Peace Corps with
my friends over here has been such a wonderful experience and has
allowed us to become as close within a year as I am with some of you
back home who I've known for years. There are just things that they
will understand that I couldn't ask you all to. So, saying goodbye to
them has forced me to star in an encore performance of my role as
human watering hose. Haha. I also realized, that I've never been left
before. I've moved so often, and took off for this great PC Adventure,
and left my friends and family behind. I have never known what it
feels like to be the one that gets left behind. And truthfully, it
sucks. After many discussions and intense internal battles, I've
decided not to take the PC's offer of Interruption of Service. They
offered it to all the volunteers here. Basically it is a chance to go
home early due to "circumstances beyond your control." You get to
leave without having to Early Terminate, and still get the benefits of
being a RPCV. (Returned PC Volunteer) If things change, and get more
violent, or unsafe, then of course, I'll come home. So, don't worry.
But right now, I feel safe and with the exception of saying goodbye to
people a year earlier than I had planned, I am okay. I'm not being
flippant, or not caring about my safety, I just feel like this is
still where I am meant to be. I made it this far, and as Daddy
reminded me a few months ago, God doesn't give you more than you can
handle. At the time, I thought God was overestimating my abilities,
but… I don't know, maybe it is not rational, and at times I feel that
it is against my better judgment, but I am staying. I can't explain
why really, but trust me, I'll be okay.

So, right now I'm packing to come home FOR A VISIT. I think a month at
home will give me an opportunity to clear my head and to prepare for
my last year in country. Coming over here for the first time was hard
because I: 1) didn't know anyone 2)didn't know the language 3)didn't
know the culture 4)didn't know my job 5)had never been away from home
for so long. After almost month of vacation I can come back with a lot
less trepidation than the first time. I am just going to have to make
a concentrated effort on making friends with the new group of
volunteers and strengthening friendship with people in my group that I
don't know as well. The next year, without my in-country support
network that got me through the first year, will be hard but I have
faith that I can deal with it. It'll be my Chapter Two.

For now, I'm hoping and praying that Kyrgyzstan will be peaceful and
stable and can recover from the tumultuous past few months. I know it
will take a lot of work and time, but I think it is doable.

Here's to hoping.

Miss you
Love from Kyrgyzstan (for the next 8 days)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes on GRE preparation:

In my ample free time the past week, I've been trying to prep for
GREs. I was so super excited to realize that I'm coming home in less
than a month, but for some reason, I didn't grasp the fact that while
I'm home I will be taking the test. Now that that fact has settled in-
I'm cracking down (as opposed to cracking up haha) and really trying
to study hard. I haven't "studied" in what? A year and a half? My
study habits are a little rusty. These are a few of the thoughts that
have crossed my mind while studying this week:

- If the GRE people have to use Henry VIII in the example sentence,
the word probably hasn't been used since he was king and therefore, I
don't need to know it.
- One should take care when listening to music while studying
otherwise; the lyrics to James Taylor's Sweet Baby James might
suddenly show up in your notebook under the definition of
"mountebank." Sigh.
- If I could spell, I could get through the vocabulary section much
quicker: having to double check the spelling of the word AND half the
words in the definition really slows down the process.
- It is really helpful to learn the vocabulary words, but when you
have to find the antonym of the vocabulary word and don't know the
meaning of the multiple choice options… all the prep in the world and
I would still revert to the old standby- always guess "C" haha
- Who knew that fourth grade math would come back to haunt me while
I'm applying for graduate school. Seriously, when will ever I need to
divide fractions? And if I'm never going to need to divide fractions,
why to I need to prove that I can do it? Same goes with finding the
area of a circle or half of an equilateral triangle. Sigh.
- If you're writing definitions and forget all about the cup of coffee
next to you, it will eventually turn into a passable substitution for
iced coffee. Minus the ice.

miss you
love from Kyrgyzstan,

p.s. I think I have bedbugs.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Today was awesome.

I know, I know… Another blog? Only, I just had a fantastic day and had
to share it! I can type faster than I can write, so I figured I'd just
blog about it instead of writing it in my journal and then you all can
know about it, too. Today was ""TYLYY." It is sort of a farming
holiday, the best way I understand it. The community gathers and
socializes and prays for rain and good crops. And then have basically
what amounts to a water fight. I got ready with my host family this
morning; it was a beautiful morning, sunny, with a few clouds. We
gathered up dishes, salad making stuff, of course, tea and cookies and
candy, blochkie that we spent hours making yesterday, tushuks, and Apa
made us all pack a change of clothes. She also made me wear a cap. We
all know that my head is too big to pull off a cap, but she knows I
have one, so she made me wear it. My three younger sisters and I
carried stuff to a close neighbors' house where we added all of our
stuff with a few other families in the trailer that is pulled by our
tractor. The kids (and I) rode in the back of the tractor out to the
field behind our village by the pond. A bunch of other families came
and we all set up in a huge line of tushuks, picnic style. The young
women, and kalens started preparing the tables while the old women and
the men sat around and talked. My sisters made it about ten minutes
before a group of boys doused them in water. Lacking water guns or
balloons, bottles make really good splashers. My "eje" status kept the
boys at bay, that plus I was cutting up vegetables for salad near a
group of women who'd have flipped if they got wet. The tables were set
up in groups by streets in our village. I've been picnicking a bunch
with my teaching staff and my family and extended family, but this was
new to me because there were some of my neighbors I don't know that
well, and it helped me figure out which of my students live near each
other. At the far end of the row, they were manning the "kazans,"
three HUGE cauldron type pans that were cooking meat for the besh
barmak. They killed a cow and a sheep and had the meat boiling for
hours. I was super really pleased they decided to do rice besh barmak
instead of noodles because the rice is cooked separate so it doesn't
taste like animal, whereas the noodles are cooked in the broth. We
finished making the salads, and the men erected a sun shelter from the
side of our tractor and we drank tea and ate salads. I took my camera
and decided to take pictures, and my Ata asked me to take pictures of
all the groups… the meat. Haha I took one picture of the three kazans,
and then he came up and made me stand near them and hold the stirrer
thing and take a picture. I was not excited. Boiling meat isn't
exactly my favorite thing. Then, I proceeded to take pictures of the
different groups. Let me explain this process. I usually knew a few
people in every group, either from school, or extended family, so I
would talk to them, make sure it was okay to take a picture, and then
snap it. If that were all, my day would have been so much easier.
Haha. At every single group, I had to "chai eech," salat je," and "nan
oosti." Drink tea, eat salad, and taste bread. I lost count of the
different types of salad I tried, and the different types of jam, and
after about the forty-seventh cup of tea, I quit counting. I made the
rounds of most of the groups before I felt seriously ill. I was SO
uncomfortably full, so I went back to our table with my family and
neighbors and sat while other people came to visit us. Between the
conversations I had with the other groups and the people at our table,
I can basically sum up the majority of the conversations with the
people I'm not close to with five sentences (loosely translated) "You
speak Kyrgyz really well," "Are you married?" "why not?," "when are
you getting married?," "Don't you want to marry my (son, nephew,
grandson, brother) and come be our kalen?" haha I was able to have
real conversations with my family and neighbors. They are all really
excited about my going to America, and my summer plans. After a while,
they announced the meat was ready, so all the groups took buckets up
and got the broth "shorpo" and passed it around. They all know me so
well now that they don't even give me a cup. Haha Then, they brought
the meat and rice. One of my favorite moments was when Apa said to
another eje, "she's my daughter and I know how much she eats and how
much to give her." This was because the eje was telling my Apa to give
me a ton of rice, and Apa knew I wouldn't eat it. I had thus far
avoided being splashed by water by my eje status and the fact that I
told the groups of boys that followed me with mischievous grins and
bottles of water not to splash me because I was holding my camera. I
made the mistake of walking away from the ejes, and not carrying my
camera after we finished eating to stretch my legs. I got splashed by
one facetious little boy and it was all downhill from there haha. The
line had been crossed and within about five minutes I was wet. They
all got yelled at, "that's enough," "don't spash your eje," "don't be
ooyat (shameful)," to no avail. The splashing stopped long enough to
be respectful while everyone did the final "omen" (kinda like an
"amen" after the prayer) and the power of half our village praying to
god for rain was astounding because no less than two minutes after the
omen, the skies opened up and rain started pouring. Most everything
had already been packed up, and between the rain, and the kids
splashing water, and adults splashing water, we got pretty wet before
everything was packed up to go. My sisters and two cousins and I
climbed back into the back of the tractor for the ride home and got
completely waterlogged and hailed on for a few minutes. We got home
and all stood dripping for a few minutes. Apa asked my why I wasn't
changing out of my wet clothes faster, I'd get sick, and then she
laughed when I told her I couldn't because the key to my room just
happened to be at the bottom of my bag under my soaked change of
clothes that I never changed into, a bag of meat, a bag of borsok,
azeez's clothes and a ton of other stuff. After getting my key, drying
off, and changing clothes, you'll never guess what we did. That's
right. We drank MORE tea. I'm sitting in bed typing this and I'm going
to climb under the covers and get good and warm before doing anything

I'll try to post pictures soon.

Miss you
Love from Kyrgyzstan,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

a few more pics

Силер кап кара кетсенер

Literally, (if it was spelled right – I can't find the "ng" key) the
title of this blog means "you all very black went." In translation it
sort of means, "you got really dark." In Issyk-kul, they use the
informal plural for the formal singular. It took me a while to get
used to being called by the plural. My sisters said this to me today
after our outing in the city. My arms and face got tanner, but my
shoulders are "кып кызыл," or "very red." I feel like my summer so far
has been"sunburn by number." I wore a T-shirt and got a farmer's tan
sun burn. Capris gave me a below the knee sunburn. A tank top and
cardigan = my chest got sunburned. A spaghetti strap tank top doing
laundry = only my back got burned. Today I wore a tank top and vest
and my shoulders are really really burned. Eventually, I'll be tan all
over. Hopefully, I'll learn my sun block lesson before I get skin
cancer. Sheesh. I had a fantastic day in the city with my sisters.
Aiculu, Kaciet, Aidana, Nurzada, and Nurzada's friend Zumrad all went.
I had to help the American Corner for a bit at a program by the
university, so we went and played Frisbee for about an hour or so.
Then we went to the park. On holidays the park turns into a carnival,
with rides, and vendors, etc. The girls ate ice cream, kettle corn,
cotton candy, and roasted nuts, and, of course, I had to "oosti"
(taste) everything. The girls wanted to ride a few rides that you
couldn't have paid me to get on. I love roller coasters and rides, but
none of the ones here have any kind of safety restraint, so I must
admit I was quite relived when the girls decided they didn't want to
wait in the long lines. We got Azeez a toy. A water gun. Bright idea,
right? Giving a water gun to an already semi-obnoxious four year old…
he enjoyed it for the four hours he had it before he broke it, haha.
We took a picture with the snake and peacock picture people. I was
surprised. None of the girls were afraid of the snake, not even Aiculu
and she's only eight. Nurzada was the only one who wouldn't touch it.
Not because she was scared, but because it was "gross." Haha. The
younger girls wanted to go to the zoo, but the two older girls thought
they were too cool to go, so I put democracy to the test and we had a
vote, so we went to the zoo. I agreed to let Nurzada and Zumrad wait
outside as long as they promised not to go anywhere and to be safe and
all that jazz and I gave them my second cell phone so they could call
me in case of emergencies. I'm responsible. Haha Aiculu hadn't been to
the zoo since she was a toddler, so she had a blast. Kaciet really
enjoyed it, too because there were new animals. Aidana's feet were too
tired to really enjoy it, I think. She didn't wear comfortable walking
shoes. We finished with the zoo and went to lunch. I took them to the
"Pizza House" restaurant in Karakol. It is super expensive (for my
salary) and we could've eaten lagman or ashlianfu or something
cheaper, but we can eat that at home, and I wanted it to be fun. So we
had pizza. My shoulders were super sunburned by this time, but hadn't
started to hurt yet, so as we chatted waiting for pizza, they marveled
over how red my skin got and how hot. They think it is so weird that I
want to get color. I think they like it when I'm super white. We
walked to the center, and had a good chat. The girls don't really talk
at home when Ata is here because he is irritating and wants to turn
everything into a lesson. The feeling of a child holding your hand to
cross the road or to walk with you is such a great feeling. It's like
they grab your hand and your heart at the same time. Everyone should
be around little kids. It is really good for the soul. We eventually
got a taxi back to the village, but the driver wasn't a regular
driver. It turns out that he was the driver that took Apa and I home
the very first time I came to site. I should have known. He was a
scumbag then, too. He charged us more than he should have then, too.
But anyways, we got home okay. The girls all had a great day, and so
did I.

Miss you
Love from Kyrgyzstan (for the next four weeks)