Thursday, December 30, 2010


Here it is. My baby. Or at least five single spaced pages of what I hope to accomplish over the next 27 months. I had a hard time writing this, I think because it's all so unknown still. (At least I hope that's the reason.) I'm the type of person who observes and listens and seeks out, and only after hearing everything there is to hear makes a judgement of her own. I am pretty sure PC is for extroverts, which I am not. But I'm also pretty sure that it's what I'm supposed to do in my life, so it will have to work somehow. I'm almost positive that Africa is not going to bend for me, so I will have to learn to bend for Africa. And that's ok with me.

A: The professional attributes that I plan to use, and what aspirations I hope to fulfill, during my Peace Corps Service

I like that this statement is in regards to aspirations and not expectations, because during the last five months of learning everything I can about Peace Corps, listening to RPCVs describe their experiences, and dreaming about what my service might be like, I have come to understand that no two volunteers are alike in their experiences, and that there is hardly a “typical” tour with Peace Corps. Having any sort of expectations would, then, be fruitless, while in contrast, having aspirations seems more flexible and hopeful, just as I feel about beginning my service.

The professional attributes that I hope to make use of are my sense of patience when working in an unstructured environment, my excellent listening skills, my flexibility, and my uncanny sense of humor in frustrating situations. I like to occasionally take a step back from whatever I’m working on to gain a perspective of the bigger picture. From there I think about the things I want to accomplish, and I set goals for myself, knowing that accomplishing small milestones will help me keep going towards whatever it is I’m working on. Knowing that I will be working in an unstructured situation, I think this will keep me from feeling overwhelmed or hopeless if progress doesn’t come as quickly as I want it to. I know that the professional environment I’ll be working in will be vastly different than what I’m used to, but I know I will succeed if I can keep in mind the overall reason for me serving and not get lost in the details.

Another attribute that will help me is the fact that I am an excellent listener. Having taught elementary school for several years, I know the importance of giving someone my full attention and making sure I understand him or her before acting on whatever it is that we are discussing. I have mediated arguments between five year-olds, I have listened to parents worried about social and academic situations, and I have given my full attention to colleagues who need to vent about their day. In my community and with my counterpart, it will be much more important for me to first understand what is being asked of me before I worry if I am being understood.

I am extremely laid back and flexible when it comes to working with other people. I understand that all of my ideas may not be the best ones for the task at hand, so I’m more than willing to listen to what others have to contribute and find the best way to solve a problem. I am also flexible when it comes to plans – it does not disturb or upset me when things are changed around to accommodate someone’s needs. I have heard the term on more than one occasion that someone is on “Africa time” and I can appreciate that my community and counterparts might have a different way of conducting their days. Something that goes hand-in-hand with being flexible is my sense of humor in situations that are more frustrating and less amusing. I have learned in life that it is a waste of energy to hold onto anger or ruminate over something that I have no control over. It is much more effective for me to find something funny to laugh at and then move on with solving whatever it is that has presented itself as a roadblock. I believe that every single day I am presented with a choice of whether I want to become frustrated and mad, or whether I want to be happy. Nine times out of ten I’m going to make the choice to take a breath, and then smile (although occasionally it may take me a minute to get there.) At this point I am just so happy and honored to become a part of this organization, that very little could fluster me or deter me from going through this experience with anything less than an open mind and open eyes.

I know that my aspirations may change throughout my service, but now they stand as:
• Share my knowledge and experience as an elementary school teacher with my counterparts to introduce new ideas into Ugandan classrooms. I hope to serve as an outside resource and sounding board for new teachers who are seeking a different way to accomplish their goals.
• Think creatively about how to use the resources available to enhance students’ school experiences.
• Learn about the Ugandan culture and people, including becoming proficient (fluent even?) in the language.
• Represent my home country well, sharing holidays, my family traditions, and my passion for the University of Florida athletics.
• See as much as Uganda as possible and take enough pictures to make everyone I know wish they were there to see it as well.
• Gain a better worldview and understanding of developing nations’ struggles.
• Share Ugandan culture with my family and friends at home through letters and pictures, so they may better understand how I’m a part of a bigger picture.
• Be completely open to falling flat on my face and having to start over in order to help my community reach their goals.
• Building lasting friendships with my host family, community members, and other PCVs.

B: My strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs

From what I’ve learned throughout the application process, and speaking with other RPCVs, patience and positivity are much more important than a want for progress. As an elementary school teacher, and someone who has worked with children for almost the past decade, I have become extremely patient when it comes to working with others for the benefit of a school or other organization. I understand that in order to initiate any sort of change or to be taken seriously when introducing new ideas into an already established education system, I will first have to build trust and rapport with my counterpart and community members. This will take time, and I am willing to be patient and grow the relationships into ones that will help both my counterparts and me. I am fully prepared to be both surprised and humbled by my experience working as a Peace Corps volunteer, so I will need to take the time to truly understand what the needs are of the community and where I fit in before I try to introduce any new ideas.
I also understand the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, as much of what I experience will be vastly different from what I’m used to. I am a very positive person already, and while I know that might be tested during my service, I am not worried about becoming so bogged down that I forget why I’m there in the first place.

C: My strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to my own cultural background

I have had the opportunity to travel a small amount and experience a new culture through the eyes of an American. While there is a stereotype of an American traveler berating anything not up to his standard of living at home, I consider myself lucky to be someone who is curious and open to new ideas and ways of doing things, rather that someone who is more stubborn and closed off from anything different. Listening to people speak about their homes and families always makes me want to experience where they come from. Paying attention to what is around me, and truly listening to my host family describe how things are done will spark enough of an interest in me to want to dive in and experience it for myself. I love learning the nuances of a new culture, and beginning to appreciate them and perhaps even participate in them. When I traveled to France I was tickled when I got to kiss people on the cheek upon greeting them. The act is so simple, yet so different from home. I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where differences were appreciated, not picked apart or belittled. I didn’t even realize that this was special until I met other people who had no desire ever to travel outside of their home county, and certainly no desire to experience anything “different”. Knowing that I do possess that curiosity to experience cultures different from my own makes me that much more appreciative of the way I was raised, and that much more excited to begin learning how to live respectfully and productively within a Ugandan community.

D: The skills and knowledge I hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve my future community and project

During pre-service training I am truly looking forward to learning all that I can about Ugandans, their culture, history, families, and communities. I know that the better I am able to integrate into the community I am placed in, the better chance I will have to reach someone and make a difference. I am especially interested in learning how to cook and make a home, these are things I loved about growing up and living in the United States; feeling like an adult who could take care of herself and contribute to her family and neighbors. I am looking forward to being able to do the same thing (eventually) in Uganda.
I am also excited about studying the Lugandan language and becoming proficient enough to carry on a professional conversation and communicate with my neighbors enough to share about ourselves. In speaking with RPCVs from all over the world, I understand that learning the language is the single most important thing I can do as a PCT to improve my chances of having a successful and enjoyable Peace Corps service.
Lastly, I am very interested in learning more about the education system that is in place in Uganda. I only know what I have read so far, but that may be vastly different from the experiences that teachers are having in their classrooms, just as is the case sometimes here in the US. While I have teaching experience and skills that are valuable, knowing where they fit into to the bigger picture in Uganda will help me better apply them once I am in my community.

E: How I think Peace Corps service will influence my personal and professional aspirations after my service ends

I am very open at this point as to what I wish for my life after I return to the US. I am confident that my time living and working in another county will raise my awareness level of the needs of developing nations, specifically the educational needs of Uganda, and I hope that that awareness does not fade away once I am back in the states. I hope that I will have developed relationships worth holding onto, so that I want both to return to Uganda at another point in my life, and to travel to other countries to learn about more cultures and people. Depending on the success of my service, I can see myself wanting to continue the work I do there; helping school systems in developing nations become institutions worth fighting for, with good teachers who are effective and caring educators. I hope to share my experiences with both friends and colleagues here in the United States to show them that the rest of the world isn’t a homogenous group of people living in poverty, but a rich mixture of individuals who deserve thought and respect. I hope that I honor the third goal of the Peace Corps well and change some stereotypes that Americans may have about Africa in general, and Uganda in specific.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shopping is more fun when you find things you love.

So I switched it up a little on here. Moved some things around, changed the background and whatnot. I also added some tabs across the top that I plan on expanding on as time goes by. I wrote a pretty sweet packing list last night, nothing like the one that gives me so much amusement, but it was ok. I have a rough draft in a yellow spiral bound notebook, but I had given it some actual thought, organized it, and made hilarious comments. Alas, blogspot decided to be a douche and did not save it. Ugh.

I also went to find a hiking backpack today and am even more confused than when I started. For one, I'm so glad I didn't buy one online because they're serious about trying them out and fitting them to your body. There is an awesome outdoors store here in town that was so incredibly helpful today, and we picked out a pack, except that pack is $279. And it's not even that cute. I ended up letting them know that I'd have to finish my list and make sure that was exactly what I need before I spend that much money. When I got home I chatted with a friend who has literally travelled the world and I asked about her backpack. She gave me some good suggestions and I felt much better about not rushing to buy one right away. I'm going to take a little road trip on Monday and see what I can find a giant outdoors store about an hour and a half south of here. Maybe if I find something I like, I'll ask my little local store if they can order it for me. I would much rather spend that kind of money locally.

I also went shopping for a dress to wear on new years eve and was sooorely disappointed to find nothing cute that fit me. Yes, I am 27 years old and have hips and an ass, but I would still love to find a cute fun dress to wear. I hate that all the cheap fun sparkly dresses are cut for prepubescent bodies. (And even more disgusted knowing that's who wears them, put on some pants, high schoolers!) I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with myself after being so let down about what I look like. This is madness!

Edit: Packing list is up! If you're going to make fun of me, at least do it to my face so I can rethink things that might be over the top! I'm serious, input is more than welcome, just be polite please :D

Sunday, December 26, 2010


First, a huge THANK YOU to everyone for your congratulations and well wishes :D I feel so lucky to finally have gotten through this process and to be moving onto the next phase!!!! It means a lot to me to have so many kind words directed my way.

The last two and half days have been a whirlwind. Getting my invitation on Christmas Eve was certainly whimsical and felt like something out of a movie, but actually it was kind of awful timing. I feel like I have not had more than 4 seconds at a time to look at ANYTHING in that packet other than the absolutely required reading simply to be able to accept my invitation (which I finally did last night at about midnight, next to the fire, half ignoring my family because I just wanted to get it all read so I could officially say "YES!" and also - a SINGLE gear bike? this is gonna be fun...) My goal tomorrow is to actually pick apart things paper by paper and get things filled out and sent in and whatnot.

I feel like for the past five months I've been so caught up in thinking about my life as a PCV that all this paperwork is kind of throwing a kink into my online shopping for leathermen and sleeping bags! Silly? Yes. I really want to start making my packing list, but I know that passport application, visa application, resume and aspiration statement must come first. This week I also need to start cleaning out my storage unit and making piles of things to donate. I really don't want to try to organize a garage sale, and I don't really feel like justifying that decision to anyone at the moment (just like I don't know what I'm doing with my car!)

Ever since I finally found out where I'm going, people have had so many questions (finally! more than just, "do you know where you're going yet?") and it's so interesting to hear predictions about what my life will be like. It kind of makes the whole third goal thing seem that much more important. One of my friends tonight was like "OMG you're not going to be able to wear make up!" to which I said "of course I will.." as in, I'm going to be bringing some, I most likely won't wear heavy base or powder on a daily basis, but I'll be ABLE to if and when I want to. Another friend was surprised that I'm planning on bringing nail polish. Like, guys, I'm not going camping. I'm going to be living somewhere for two years. Wouldn't you want to have cute pink toes and maybe some eyeliner if you go out with your friends? Women in Africa dress up and look nice, that's not something we Americans have a monopoly on.

Ugh, I went to a bar tonight, and it was so smokey in there. I smell like I smoked a pack of cigarettes while sitting in my car with all the windows up. My jacket, scarf, and cashmere sweater all smell too, things I hate to wash more than is absolutely necessary. Also, I just got a little creeped out that the mom from Modern Family who is adorable and I love her, is a creepy 40 year old sleeping with an 18 year old on Weeds. And also also, I got a sweet new iPod for Christmas that will hold 10,000 songs, and I currently only have 1,300, so I need everyone to make me mixed cds of their favorite music to load up on :D THANKS.

Friday, December 24, 2010


I feel an intense need to Uganda-out my blog now. With maps and flags and facts and links and a packing list... (By the way the flag is awesome. It adds like 10% to my excitement factor.)


SO much inside my head right now!!!! (also I'm sorry the movie is so wide, the html code isn't letting me make fit inside the column, and sorry my voice is annoying, lol wow...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

knockoff burberry

PCJ said I have 5 comments on the last post, my blog is telling me I only have 3. Blogspot is broken, how sad :( In some fun, unrelated news, I just got home from a night out where I literally chased a thief all over UF campus after he stole my friend's phone. I was actually the backup chaser because I had to stop and take my heels off and had a heavy purse, while the primary chaser was purse-less and wearing flats. The guy ended up trying to ditch the phone in a dumpster, eating it on the pavement, having a police report written up about him, and now has a warrant out for his arrest. Bam.

Cab/Shiraz blend

Fun little update this morning letting me know that I've officially been invited and that my packet was sent on the 22nd. I started to look through the toolkit (since it's all I have right now) and immediately felt overwhelmed by all of the information and the links to seventy-two different pages. I took a deep breath and told myself that thousands of other invitees are dealing with the same things, that people leave the country all the time, and that there's no reason why I can't get my shit together and do it too.

I got an email from an Evite account the other night, it was my four best friends setting up a goodbye weekend for me. I just sat there with tears in my eyes, for maybe the first time since applying, thinking about how I'm actually going to miss so much going on in people's lives. Things don't stop just because I'm not there to see them, unfortunately. I'm most likely going to miss a few weddings, babies being born, first days of kindergarten... I've gone several years without seeing people before, but it's never been realized on this end of it where it's like, "Ok, this is the LAST time I'm going to see you for however long." It's always been, "Oh crap, you know who I haven't seen in FOREVER is so and so."

I keep catching myself looking at my life from the outside. Not as a whole, but just at the fact that I'm going to do Peace Corps. I think about other people I know who do amazing things, and travel, and be adventurous. Until now I've kind of always sat back, comfortable where I am, and marveled at how much fun their lives must be, wishing I could just dip my toe in a little bit of what they're experiencing. Now that's my life. Now I'm the one who is doing something nuts, who is moving to Africa, who is diving in headfirst. The funny thing is, this all feels perfectly natural. I can't imagine not doing it at this point, and I'm almost a little embarrassed at how hard I thought it would be three or five or seven years ago.

I'm actually really proud of myself.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I had a 45 minute long conversation with my placement officer this afternoon while I sat in my car, parked at the basketball stadium on campus. It was the first place I came to where I could sit undisturbed with amazing reception. I'd originally driven to a park not far from my house, but I only had two bars there and that was not going to fly with me. The conversation closed with her saying she'd be extending me an invitation :D From what I understand it's to my original nomination region (SSA) in the original month (February 2011). I can't wait to see what it is!

Anyway, she asked about how, if at all, my view and commitment to PC had changed since applying, to clarify something I'd written in my essay, what challenges I'd come across that I hadn't considered before, how I would deal with certain situations, etc. I was incredibly nervous partly because sometimes it's hard to put into words how I feel about this and also because so many situations I have no idea about. I am completely expecting to be flipped upside down and backwards stepping off that plane and to have everything I could have imagined blown out of the water. It's so hard to imagine actually living in Africa that I am planning on learning as much as I can, being as respectful as I can, and then just rolling with it. She did mention that I'd have to cover my tattoo (I have a cm high star on my right heel) so I'm wondering about that given the fact that I'm hoping not to wear socks and shoes everyday...

I am so flabbergasted right now. My mom, sister-in-law, and her friend were all here when I got home and heard my news and they were all (mildly?) excited for me, no jumping up and down or hugs or anything, but maybe that's just how my family is in general.

To quote another blog, "shit just got REAL."

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I want for Christmas...

Is it because I called or would it have happened anyway if I'd waited? Who knows, either way I got an email asking me to schedule a time between 1:30 and 5 tomorrow, or 11:30 and 4 on Wednesday to have a follow-up convo with my placement officer. Of course I picked 1:30 tomorrow. About. to. jump. out. of. my. skin.

Things I found out

1) My program is still open
2) My file has been screened by the placement assistant
3) Since it has been screened by placement, and I haven't received any requests, then my file wasn't missing anything
4) I need to be patient
5) The person who screened my file was out to lunch
6) I have time
7) I'm very well informed about the process (I didn't attribute this to the fact that I read 20 blogs a day)
8) Not everyone has a request for additional information
9) The woman I spoke to is making a note in my file that I called, and letting my placement screener know (good or bad?)
10) They haven't lost me, I'm still in the process
11) I'm now supposed to have a great day

I take it back

Because I sort of love this, and also some Shel Silverstein.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is it weird...

That I don't really like poetry? At all?

I swear I'm so so close

I have a dilemma, not a huge one, but an annoying one. The dilemma is that I'm not rich. I want to go ❄❅skiing❆❄ with my family after Christmas, but the plane ticket, possible rental car, lift tickets, ski rentals, and additional clothing that I do not currently own are going to add up, fast. It will almost certainly be the last time I see these people before leaving, so I really want to go, but it's also très last minute and très cher. "These people" would be my aunt and uncle who I'm closest to, their 4 kids (my cousins), kids-in-law, and grandkids... totaling 18 people.

In related I'm-leaving-soonish news, I still have not gotten a request for any info from placement, but my letter from medical came, letting me know that I'm cleared and that my file is being sent on. I had lunch with some PC friends yesterday (and by lunch I mean a 5 hour chit chat about anything and everything), one of whom told me that she never received any sort of follow-up interview or request for another resume before she was invited. Now, she and I have almost the same credentials - both have Masters of Education, both are certified teachers, and both have teaching experience in our own classrooms, and we were both nominated for the same program (we even have the same alma mater, mutual friends, and she did her internship in the classroom next to mine my first year teaching - spooky!). Apparently my degree and experience make me desirable in PC's eyes since not many elementary teachers apply. This makes me hopeful that I might not have to play phone tag with a PO, a PO's assistant, or whoever else might want to ask me questions, and that I might, just miiiight, wake up one morning with a notice that I've been invited. Oh, if ever I had a Christmas wish!

I went through the wiki (I know, I know) and calculated COI dates for the programs going in February. Does anyone know what program is being sent to Namibia? I think it's health but I know they have the PTT program in that country (or, at least the wiki says they do) I also found the Uganda facebook group page and it made me really want to go there. December 29th is the COI for that country, 10 days. I think I'll call placement tomorrow and just, um, check.

I need to get out of the house, this will drive a girl nuts!

edit: just to dispel any concerns about reaching out to placement not getting me anywhere, don't-get-your-hopes-up-missy, why can't you just wait and be disappointed like the rest of us? or HA, good luck comments... I'm fully aware that citing PC wiki as a reference is a bad idea, and that pointing to other applicants getting their invitations to "but that's MY region" is equally stupid. I'm also fully aware (and at ease with the fact) that my date, region, and program can change- I honestly do not care where I go. I'm just enjoying the process at this point and excited beyond measure about actually getting to be a part of PC... asking questions helps me get through it all.

Friday, December 17, 2010


This totally just got delivered to my house. Pretty sure it's a Christmas gift pour moi, so ooops :D


Dear Placement, PLEASE ask me for my resume, what I've been up to, what I've been doing to prepare for service, aaaaanything! I will send cookies, or Harry & David Pears, or a Ferraro Rocher pyramid of chocolate, or a grab bag of delightful holiday films. I'm waaaaaaiting, heart heart heart, Liz

(Ok, that's out of my system now. I can go back to my life)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

15% baby!

I'm sitting in the Charlotte airport, happy as a clam. I just spoke with my nurse who said she could go ahead and clear me today! It really was a case of simply overlooking the page with the right lab results on it, which I find interesting considering how thorough we're expected to be. Either way I'm happy and hoping to hear from placement soon so I can get this show on the road. Honestly it just hit me how fast this is all going to go now, I'd been in la la land the past week having too much fun with my friends in Boston...

Sent from my iPhone

/edit 12-15-10/ And, bam. Come on placement!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Remember when I almost fought the nurse to get my bloodwork done right?

I called my mom this morning to ask if anything had come from PC, I was up earlier than the kids and curiousity got the best of me. I figured if it was something easy I could just call PC and try to sweet talk my way into clearance. Anyway, she goes, "yesssssss" in a knowing little voice that was all excited for me, but as soon as I asked her to open it she lost a little of that sparkle. Apparently during the review of my file, they noted that I was missing information (I call bullshit). What's missing? Oh just my Hep B Surface Antibody test. Yep, that's bullshit. Those three tests are the things I am 107% sure are in there because I had to advocate so hard to get them done. Remember this post? I have a binder of everything PC related and asked my mom to go through my lab results and just confirm for me that those test results were in there. Sure enough they were so I decided to call and ask the nurse to check again. The woman I talked to was like, "Do you know if you got the right one done, because there are three and some people miss one." I said I'd gotten the surface antigen, surface antibody, and core antibody, but that since I had to fight to get it done the results were listed separately, because it was a second test in addition to the "Hep Panel" that I was told would cover me. She said that those are all the right ones so I should be good. She transferred me to my nurse, but guess who is out of town until tomorrow? I smiled to myself and left her a voicemail letting her know what was going on, but really if I'd just waited till I got home tomorrow I would have been fine :) So for now I'm going to enjoy my last day here, walking around in my puffy painted shirt, wishing it would snow so I could stay another day.

PS, If them overlooking my lab results is all this is, I'm absolutely counting myself in the 15% of people who did it right the first time.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So I'm moving to Boston when I get back

Quick update while I wait for the shower to be unoccupied, so I can jump in and then go out in Boston for the third night in a row. My medical is still on hold, but I don't even care. This vacation is way too amazing for me to give a second thought about my medical status. Even if I'd figured something out, I can't very well be running around ruining four other girls' weekends while I get blood tests or pee in cups. Again. I'm perfectly content waiting until I get back, just enjoying my time in the best city ever, and drinking my butterbeer. Yes, we made butterbeer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I'm sitting in a car, just got off the plane in Boston, and just wanted to update that I got an email this morning that my status has been updated!!!!! It wasn't in my inbox when I got up (at 4) and wasn't there when I was sitting in the airport (at 6) so I figured it wasn't coming today.. But during my layover in Charlotte I whipped out my laptop and saw I had items in my spam mail. Why PC stuff goes to spam is beyond me, because all their mass emails go to my regular inbox. Anyway, my medical is on hold while it's being reviewed, any input on how long medical holds last?

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I hope this list keeps growing

I've been thinking about this post for some time now, but I felt like it was some kind of culmination type post that I should write at some super meaningful point in my life when I've had time to flesh it all out and make sure it's done correctly. However, like life, the idea behind this post is one that is ongoing and living. I will hopefully add to it at various points, because I don't want to leave anything out. This is a list of lessons I've gleaned from all the women in my life, I try to remember them every day and be a person who they would all be proud to know.
-A sense of humor and grace will get you through literally anything. KSD
-Love your alma mater, shamelessly. AAF
-Question everything. MKS
-Don't not do something because you have a pet. JKS
-Walk like it's for sale the rent is due tonight. NCSCK
-Boil the gibblets in chicken stock & white wine, then chop up the liver for some i-take-crap-from-no-one gravy. CJS
-Don't get caught up in the fray, be a true person. AAF
-You don't really need a man around the house, except to lift things occasionally, and if you don't want to fix a toilet. CJS
-Take care of your hair, because it's what you look like. JMEF
-Speak another language. KJMM & PL
-Be unwaveringly loyal. AAF
-Always wear heels, they give you good posture. KSD
-Have a line that you're not willing to budge on, and then don't. SCZ
-Look people in the eye when you're talking to them, it makes you intimidating. KDH
-Be a good daughter. NCSCK
-Be passionate. AAF
-Believe. JKS
-Sometimes it's ok to eff the afternoon away. ACC
-The best artichoke dip is a can of artichoke hearts, a cup of mayo, and a cup of the good parmesan. Bake till it's brown and bubbly. JKS
-Always send a card. GSK
I think what sets these women apart from others that I know is that they are all truly kind.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Relationships. Or, Can I come see you when you're in basic training?

In addition to being fabulously stubborn and obnoxiously optimistic, I tend to let myself get carried away with day dreaming. About boys I have crushes on. These day dreams almost never come to fruition (as in, once they did, seven years ago, and then almost once more a few years later). I've gotten over this obsession in recent times, being older and wiser and generally sick of most guys in my town. I have shared some of this with one of my close friends, but I'm a little ashamed to admit it in general, that I am the most single person you will ever meet. When I was asked about relationships in my interview, I had to chuckle even because I've never really had one and don't expect that to change any time soon. The closest I've had to a serious boyfriend was a guy in college who liked that I liked him and wanted to see him. He took advantage of that fact and I got to snuggle with him occasionally. Other than eventually getting my heart broken, it was a great little system that worked out perfectly. (As long as you don't get too technical about the definition of "perfectly".)

I guess the whole reason behind even beginning this post was to talk about a ridiculous conundrum I've found myself in at one of my volunteer gigs. I go hang out in a friend's classroom once a week or so, and one of the custodians there has fallen in love with me. Apparently he goes to her room every single day to ask if she's talked to me, seen me, heard anything new about my trip, knows when I'm coming again, etc. At first I was flattered that he thought I was cute (never a bad thing to hear) but it's turned into an annoyance because whenever I volunteer or sub, I am literally stalked around the school. He has now asked me out five times, each time with me trying to politely turn him down, saying that I have no interest in starting anything since I'm planning on leaving. I know some of my friends who would say to just go out to dinner, that it couldn't hurt anything, but on top of honestly thinking that beginning something would be a bad idea and hating "dates" in general, this guy is not my type at all. AT ALL. I might feel worse about hurting his feelings if he wasn't so damn sure of himself. Me saying "I'm leaving" has prompted him to ask if he could possibly come visit, when I'll be back, and assure me that he has no issue waiting for me to return, and would like to buy me some land and some chickens and pay my bills. This situation would be hilarious if it was happening to someone else (in fact, my friend the teacher is entirely too amused.)

This all prompted me to think about what would happen if I were to meet someone between now and my departure (this was, of course, followed by a good laugh at myself for imagining such an absurdity). If I were to actually meet the man of my dreams, would I walk away from it? I know my sister-in-law was planning on moving away before she met my brother, and realized that if she were to do so, it would screw things up. She stayed and they got engaged six months later. Would I make the same choice? I think regardless of leaving, I would hang out with someone I thought was cute and fun to be around, keeping in mind how badly I want to do PC. I did feel a little like a schmuck though, on Friday at school, when I asked my friend about this cute teacher, and if he was single. (We'd obviously have to keep that on the DL, my stalker might get mad if he knew I was dating someone, lol.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

i cut some awesome new bangs tonight

Medical clearance was not mine to be had this week. I swear every other blog I read, someone was getting clearance or an invitation, so I must be due for it soon. I attended the GlobeTalk at UF this week with Kortni & Kim, and we chatted about everything we could think of with the recruiter there (who is a godsend I might add. I'm so happy I've met her.) I think I've decided on a duffle bag to get, the LLBean rolling duffle, in guide gold. Aka, the most obnoxious color that will never get misplaced. Holla.

The weather finally changed cold on the first of the month, which I found remarkable since it was in the 80s the day before! I love wearing sweaters and scarves and having my hair stay straight and shiny :D I'm a dork. (I've also used the term "lol" more in the last two weeks than in the entire rest of my life, yeesh.)

Lastly, three things that, at the same time, equally, embarrass me and make me smile. The first is that I added "US Peace Corps" to the sharpie inscription on the bottom of my computer (in addition to my name, email, and phone number that have been there since I got it) I guess what makes it embarrassing is that I wrote that on there back in, oh, September? Yes.

Number two would be that I had a more-direct-than-I've-ever-been-in-my-life texting conversation with a long ago crush, who I told, in not so lady-like terms, that I'm moving to Africa and want to see him again before I leave. It's amazing what the line "I'm moving to Africa" will do for one's sense of, um, shamelessness. I think we may have made a date for new years, but I'm not sure. It was marvelous.

The last is that I've adopted a new favorite mantra or whatever, but also that it comes from a Dos Equis commercial. The Most Interesting Man in the World is possibly my favorite series of commercials (how sad is is that I have fallen for that schtick?) and I love the line, "He lives vicariously - through himself." As dumb as it is that that line stems from some ad agency, I really like the idea of not having to live vicariously through anyone because I'm doing amazing things on my own. Life is too short.

I leave you with this, the best packing list on the face of the planet. I'm going to try my best to keep it in mind and recreate it to the best of my ability :D

"Crappy shoes…will get crappier.
Two nice shirts…preferably reversible so that I can get 4 days out of them during training.
One pair of dress pants…does anyone ever really notice your pants?
Four old T-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of Dickies for “real life.”
Four bags of pretzels…time locked to stay fresh and open at 6 month intervals.
A pair of pliers…don’t ask.

Yep, that pretty much covers it. I guess I’d have to check the bag though…can’t carry on the pliers..."

Monday, November 29, 2010

A very good week

Sometimes I can be a real Pollyanna about things. For those of you who aren't familiar with my 1960's Haley Mills reference, Pollyanna is a girl who stubbornly refuses to let things get her down (that is until she falls out of a two story-ish window and breaks her back and is paralyzed - geez oh man.) Anyway. It's Monday and I'm determined that this will be a good week. Today wasn't awful, but I'm pretty much calling that it's going to be better from here on out. I have eleven reasons for this:

One: Joey said so. That's good enough, right?

Two: I re-emailed the preservice desk and asked about my medical file as well as where to fax over the letter from my doctor saying I started on the pill again. A woman emailed me back and told me that she'd check with my nurse, that I still had plenty of time, and to fax the letter on over. I faxed it, emailed back to please let me know it got there and was put into my file, and yet another email came shooting back through the interwebs telling me that they'd received the fax. Bam. All I'm saying is at least they know I'm alive.

Three: I saw Harry Potter Seven-Point-One last night. Legit cried for three whole minutes, tears down my face, in the opening chase scene when you know whooooo dies. (not Voldemort, sorry.. think animal noises. Either way the book is on my bed begging to be picked back up and reread for the gazillionth time.)

Four: Finally quit being the ball in a week long game of pingpong between my doctor and the pharmacy.

Five: PC talk this week at mon école.

Six: I got these shoes: Yes, I'm aware of how disgustingly impractical they are considering I'm planning on moving to Africa in two months... but I will wear the snot out of them until I go. Don't judge me. (Also, I'm in love with my 50mm lens's DoF in this picture and the bokeh on the back shoe. Sorry to be a nerd about that.)

Seven: So so close to this: We puffy-painted shirts. No YES noooo.

Eight: Um. I had a stye on my eyelid and it's going away! That's got to count for something.

Nine: Pandora & WB2K10 Playlists. That is all.

Ten: The Gators can't lose any more regular season football games this year :D

Eleven: There is a FLIP video camera in the mail, addressed to yours truly which I will use to make amazingly awesome videos that will win me lots of awards. Or just be fun. (Whichever comes first I guess.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't seem to get it out of my head how this time next year I'll be sharing Thanksgiving with my community and other volunteers who are looking for a small piece of America to celebrate. I don't feel sad or worried about missing my family's holiday at all, I just hope that my older brother and his wife and kids make the trip east so my mom and little brother aren't totally alone.

Given that my mom is still on a walker and can't stand for a long time or move around quickly, I'm in charge of dinner this year. I absolutely love to cook, but one of the things that comes with being a younger family member (out of thirteen cousins, only my little brother is younger than me) is that growing up I was never responsible for holiday meals. I would always find a dish that I liked to make and offer to be in charge of it, but I kind of always felt like it was kind of an afterthought, to eat what I made. It wasn't the centerpiece by any means, and it was always kind of easier to let those who had the experience take charge.

All of that is out the window this year. Knowing that I can have free reign in the kitchen, I scoured the internet for turkey recipes, interesting ways to cook mashed potatoes (and have found yet another use for that buttermilk!), and from-scratch desserts. This is what I've come up with: Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Roast Turkey (it smells DELICIOUS), Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Pepperidge Farm stuffing (the only thing that isn't from scratch, we had a bag in the pantry), Sweet Potatoes (my sister in law's recipe, don't have it online), turnip & apples, cornbread (recipe not online, just from my head), and cranberry-orange sauce. I also made a cranberry-apple crisp, a pumpkin pie, and a pumpkin roll. (We didn't even touch the desserts.) I love the variety of foods during the holidays, but not having a ton of family makes it an overwhelming amount, since we obviously can't skip anyone's favorites! The turkey came out wonderfully, and I felt a little more grown up than I did yesterday, now that I've cooked a Thanksgiving dinner (isn't that a rite of passage or something? I've done Christmas before, and now I've done the other big one). I'm glad that I did it before leaving, where ever I end up for the next two years, I'll be able to contribute to a holiday meal like an adult rather than a kid who wants to make the jello salad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset

I was checking out at the grocery store tonight when a couple ahead of me struck up a conversation with the cashier. They were buying greeting cards and told her about how their son is in the Philippines and how they're going to send a card a week and hope they all get there by March. Then I heard them say he is in Peace Corps. Something inside of me jumped, that little something that tells me I'm connected to everyone and everything in this world, and that it's just about finding the connection, and that talking to them would be the obvious thing to do. So I did. I interrupted, apologized for interrupting, and then asked how long he'd been there. They told me he got there in August, I told them I'm going to Africa in February. The woman shook my hand and told me how proud of me is, and that after getting through the application and everything, I will obviously be successful, since that's half the battle. She asked if I knew her son, but I didn't. After they walked away I realized that I'm 99% sure they're the parents of a girl I grew up with and lost touch with when we went to different high schools. I would say something about it being a small world, but since I'm still living in the town I grew up in, it doesn't really surprise me at all.

I keep getting asked about where and when I'm going.. I haven't shared this blog with anyone in my real life yet, so I guess according to them I got really excited back in August when I was nominated and since then have sat on my hands waiting. While that's partly true, I feel like it's been almost constant forward motion. The last month (yes, month) has been a lot of waiting, but nothing I can't deal with. I can't imagine how flaky it must look from the outside to someone who received my "I'm moving to Africa!" text and knew nothing about it before, nor has heard anything since. Sorry guys, if anyone goes back and reads all my entries after I let this proverbial cat out of the bag, I truly am sorry for being so tight-lipped. I hope you understand.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I forgot that I don't hate winter all that much

So my "farewell tour" will be starting (and possibly ending) with a trip to Boston in December. I'm going with two awesome girls to visit two more awesome girls and cause some trouble in Bean-town for six days. The trip is somewhat last minute, as Nora was going to see family and then said "hey, you guys should come too :D" Of course, Emmy and I jumped at the offer and bought our tickets tout de suite. I'm currently looking at boots online and debating on if I should buy a pair. The closer it gets to possibly leaving the country, the more reluctant I get to spend money on things that probably won't make the trip. It seems pointless, but I would like to have some cute warm boots in which to tromp around Boston. Other things that will make this trip amazing are: some of the most amazing and entertaining girls I know, wasting my carry-on liquid allotment on nips of rum, The Greatest Bar, a soundtrack that is already being put together, WB2K10(BOS) shirts, skinny jeans and leggings, a dress that rivals those of Joan Holloway from Madmen, Enrique, pre-trip planning dinners, and I can't even fathom what else. In case you hadn't figured it out, I'm excited.

Also, I've decided that I really want to move to London and dress preppy (aka "Sloane Ranger") and wear riding boots and fun hats for the rest of my young adulthood.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I love sleeping.

My mom is home safely, thank you for all the messages on my last post :) She is currently laying in bed with an icepack on her knee as I just insisted that she do her PT to the best of her ability and not be a wimp about it (I'm kind of harsh like that.) I spent the last three days cleaning and organizing the house, seeing as how it's the beginning of the holiday season and house guests are aplenty. My mom is probably the least organized/most knick-knacky person I know, so it was quite an undertaking. I must say that I'm proud of myself though, because my neighbor came over to bring dinner and told me the house looked like it belongs in a decorating magazine :D My mom's dogs are a bit batty over her being back, they're outside the baby gate leading back to her room (put there for the exact purpose of keeping them out) whining and carrying on like someone has pulled their toenails out.

I got not one but TWO Peace Corps emails this morning... both of which were offering online info sessions in case I hadn't made up my mind about applying yet and wanted to get a better idea of what it was all about. Thanks, PC, I appreciate it, but maybe you should update your email list? You're just toying with my heart at this point.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who are you here for?

I hate hospitals. I really do. I feel badly about this fact since they do so much good for people and babies are generally born in them. The smell of them brings me back to when I was twelve and losing my dad. I hated visiting him because doing so just meant seeing him get thinner and thinner, paler and paler, and sicker and sicker. I also feel badly about this, because ultimately I stayed away more than I came. I'm typing this in a hospital. My mom is in surgery right now getting a knee replacement, and while I have no big or serious concerns about the goings-on inside the OR, there is always the thing in the back of my mind that reminds me she is mortal and I'm already one parent down. I can't really talk about my mom because everything inside of me will come out my eyes, and I'm not ready for her to see all that in the room later on. Let it just be said that I love her. (The nurse just came out to tell me she was almost done..)

So now I should talk about Peace Corps. Or at least some of the crap that is loosely related to it. I paid a bill online earlier, one that came from the lab in the amount of $90.00 to cover my second pap test that took place since someone, somewhere, screwed something up. It's not fair, it really isn't, but I doubt that QuestDiagnostics gives a crap. I also got a $55.15 bill from my doctor for the visit, but I called and asked them to take care of that, since I was told I wouldn't have to pay it. Funny story: I called last Wednesday to ask about starting bcp again, and there wasn't an answer, not even a voicemail. Same thing this morning, so I checked the website and realized that I'd been calling the wrong number, 0930 instead of 0390. Oops. The girl who answered took my information, because of course my doctor is out of town this week, and said that I could get a prescription next week when he gets back. I need to call back and ask that he also write a statement about it all for the nice PC medical staff. Jeez Louise.

Last, I'm 3 seasons deep into The Dick van Dyke Show, and will truly be sad when it's over. I have a slight (read:major) crush on Rob & Laura Petrie, and am a bit ashamed to say I wouldn't really mind being a 60's housewife if I could be like her. Except the whole twin beds thing, that's just silly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Fulfillment is the death of desire"

I have this weird thing where, when I'm waiting for something, I get REALLY good at waiting. I excel at it and actually start to enjoy it. Before Christmas, I'll be wound up like a seven year old, I'll want to sneak a peek at my presents, I'll just walk through the family room and stare at the empty stockings that are waiting to be filled. But the closer it gets, the calmer I feel, and when Christmas morning actually arrives, I don't even want to open my presents right away. I watch a few showings of A Christmas Story, drink my coffee, eat some eggs benedict, and wait around for someone to say, "Ok, you guys wanna do this?" I think it's partly because my family is a lot smaller than it used to be, so the celebration isn't as grand and doesn't seem as special, and also because I know that once the day is over, so is the anticipation. I love the feeling of wanting and pining for something or someone. I love looking forward to seeing friends or planning some fun getaway. I hate Sunday evenings after really fun weekends. I'm starting to feel a little like that about PC. I'm waiting and waiting for that email that says I'm cleared, but in making a conscious effort to not go crazy, I've pushed it out of my head. I feel like it's the week before Christmas and I'm getting eerily calm about this (in reality) enormous event to occur. Hopefully the anticipation pales in comparison to the actual experience :D

I was thinking about my belongings and my bank account last night. Most of my things are in a storage unit a little ways north of my home. My sofa is in there, my dining set, books, pots, pans, everything classroom, pictures, everything that made my apartments feel like my real life, adult home for the last eight years. (Maybe that's why I feel like a teenager again living at my mom's.) What is going to happen to them? When should I start to clean that out and consolidate my things? What if I don't get invited and I have to find a job again. UGH. My mom's house is honestly no place to be bringing everything home to, which is why it's in storage in the first place. On the other hand, it would be impractical and expensive to pay for 27 months more at this place. I'm going to have to give a lot away. I don't want to make the huge changes until I know something more concrete, but at the same time I know how much it's going to suck to do all this last minute. The whole push-everything-out-of-my-mind mantra only works so far, because it also allows things (read: February) to sneak up on me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Real life PC camaraderie?

Oh hell yes! I have been officially unofficially "adopted" into the group of applicants, nominees, and invitees here in town, and I have a recruiter who is looking out for me! It's kind of amazing, having all the same questions and discussions with people in real life, sitting around a table on the back patio of an eclectic bar, drinking a Hoegaarden in my BYO-Koozie. I shared about the diva-cup, visiting a male gyno, professors I loved and hated while in college, and learned that a mango is not unlike a fetus (I guess you had to be there).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh, so that leftover buttermilk in the fridge

I figured out what I am going to make with it: Brown sugar bacon waffles, Care of my favorite food blogger and potential girl crush, Joy the Baker. This girl is freaking fabulous, and I have a (maybe not so) secret desire to be her best friend. Please enjoy.

Also, did you know that the entire series of Dick van Dyke is on Hulu? It is. My schedule has been so black and white lately (is that the right term? Oh, I don't know) that I find myself with entire afternoons of nothing to do except watch this amazing example of classic American television. I have a new found respect for Mary Tyler Moore's comedic genius. I remember when I was little I would sneak out of bed to watch whatever shows my dad watched after I went to sleep. He watched Frasier and Seinfeld among others, but I never got that those were funny shows until after he died. I kind of wish that I'd appreciated his sense of humor when he was still around instead of just thinking he was a boring grown-up. I think this picture kind of explains why he might come off as sort of stiff. I mean, really, those shorts? Anyway, I'm pretty sure he thought Dick van Dyke was funny, at least I like to think he did.


Week three of hearing nothing about my medical review has arrived, and I've just done my weekly prodding. I called my person to ask about starting a new medication after everything has been sent in, she seemed less than interested in my individual case and just told me to have the doctor fax something over saying what it is, how much I'm taking, and when I started. I was half (ok three quarters) hoping she would pull up my file and be like "oh yes, Elizabeth, I have you right here. Let me just go ahead and clear you since your nomination is coming up so soon! And while I'm at it I'll just go ahead and request your updated resume since your PO will need that too. Your invitation should be sent out tomorrow."

Ok, that was a huge exaggeration, but it would have been nice to get more than "fax it over". I called a little tiny bit to prod, but mostly to figure out if I want to start back on BCP before I go. The more and more I think about it, the more I feel like having 100% predictable periods that are light and last 3 days would be nice while living in a place that is possibly pretty unpredictable. I decided to just go ahead and call my doctor and let them know I'd like to start on the pill again, but of course they didn't answer. Tomorrow is Veterans' Day so I'm wondering if they're just closed till Monday. Probably.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

28 years ago in Africa...

I posted a while back about finding slides from my parents' trip to Kenya & South Africa in 1982. I had the slides converted to jpeg and picked them up today. There are 450 total, most are amazing, some are blurry :) We have a family website that I'll upload them onto, but I wanted to share some here, too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tiring Tuesdays

I can't even wrap my mind around yesterday, and it's even more perplexing when I realize that's going to be my Tuesday for many more Tuesdays to come. It started at 6:30 when my alarm went off. Tuesday is one of my two days off from subbing because I volunteer in my friend's classroom that day. She has a second grade class in an eastside school (read: urban, for those of you not in G-ville) and is a first year teacher. I miss being in the classroom, she loves help, so we put those two things together to come up with a little volunteer opportunity for me. I sit with her kids during their reading block and either keep them on task, have them read to me, play a spelling game, or just sharpen a pencil if they need it. It's nothing spectacular, but it's a fun time.

After leaving Kristan's classroom, I drove over to UF where I found a primo parking space. In the whole COE neighborhood, there are only 3 parking spaces that you can park in sans permit, and they are my favorite thing to find. If I don't get one I have to park in the bank and run the risk of getting towed (or at least a nasty note) or a ticket if I park in the city spots that require a neighborhood decal. I digress. I tutored a woman in the differences among "should" "ought to" "have to" "have got to" and must". Then we talked a little bit about vowel pronunciation, long and short vowels, and the silent E at the end that tells you which to use. She was a little bit stymied that a single silent letter could not only change the way another letter sounded, but the meaning of the whole word. Crazy English. I know it's a grammar class, but she was asking for help with her pronunciation. There were two guys waiting behind her who kept making comments like, I want to speak English, I don't care about sounds, I want to know grammar! So I finished up with the lady and moved on to the men, only to find out that they only wanted help memorizing a list of odd verb phrases. I helped them understand a couple of them ("break up" laughing and "break up" a relationship, as well as "come from" as in originate from, and that originate is NOT the same word as origami. I made an origami flower thing just to show them what it was) Memorizing isn't my job, sorry guys.

I then sat as a classroom assistant in the beginning beginning level grammar class and helped a guy go over his test that he'd gotten a D on. It's hard because he doesn't even understand the word "understand"... explaining grammar is ridiculous when the person can't even communicate verbally. I have SO much respect for language teachers. Not. Even. Funny.

At 12:40 I got to swing home to make some lunch and gather anything I'd need for the rest of the day. I made a hot dog with crumbled bacon and banana peppers. Um, wow. Sorry to offend any vegetarian friends, but it was mouth watering. I keep saying I'm going to open a restaurant some day, and I kind of keep a running list of delicious things I make to put on the menu, that hotdog would most certainly be on there. At about 2:00 I headed out to vote in the mid-term elections. I figured it wouldn't take long, but I hadn't researched all of the amendments before-hand, so I had to sit and read them several times to just figure out what they were saying. Then I tried to quickly decide how I felt about them. Not the most scientific way to participate in the American experiment, but I put my two cents in, where ever it may have ended up.

I made it to my first tutoring gig at 2:30 and sat down with two kids (huh? I was told there would be one) They're both pretty cool, I sent an email from my phone real quick asking about it, a little bit excited because it means $42 an hour instead of $35 an hour, since there's 2! Drat, email comes back saying the sister has a different tutor and can I give the mom the contact info. Wait! The mom says she only wants one tutor for both of them because why schedule two sessions a week when they can just be together. I give her the contact info for the office and tell her I'd be happy to do it, but that I need to get the materials and curriculum from the office if they're ok with it.

At 4:30 I made it to tutoring gig #2 and sat with a boy to work on fun things such as synonyms and analogies and features of print. The parents were in the same room the whole time watching Oprah incredibly loudly, talking on the phone about the election, and coughing. I think they were both quite ill. I left at 6:00 and went to Starbucks to get a non-fat caramel macchiato because I still had a meeting, a dance class, and a photography session ahead of me.

At 6:30 I walked into the International Center to attend a Peace Corps Globe Talk put on by UF. There were about 15-20 people there, including some that I SWEAR looked familiar, but I had no idea where from, so I just stared at them instead of making an introduction. Fail. Five panelists talked. Four being RPCVs and the last being a guy from Benin who came to the US to study civil engineering after being taught math and physics by a PCV in his village. I seriously got tears in my eyes listening to him, hoping to someday have that kind of impact on one of my students. That's why I got into teaching in the first place, to have an impact on individuals, to show them their potential in the world, and to help them find the tools to realize their dreams. After it was over I stood around and grabbed some booklets, specifically one on health education for a friend who I think would be amazing at it, two for friends and family on keeping in touch and questions they might have, and one on education, just because it's my nomination and I like reading more about it. I chatted with the recruiter at UF and asked about the countries I might go to as well as what to expect from medical. She was surprised to meet me since I'm from UF but hadn't gone through her with my application and interview and everything. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have my hand held throughout the process, seeing as how I did it 100% on my own. It was really fantastic hearing someone else be excited for me in a way that's more than just "oh my god, that's so awesome that you're doing that! Where are you going?" I could tell that she pours her heart into sharing PC with people and getting others to join this organization that she had such a great experience with. She offered to put me on an email list to keep track of in-town events, invited me to a happy hour next week to meet people, and told me to let her know if I haven't heard anything from medical by December 1st. She asked what my theory-countries were, and told me that 3 of the 4 were good guesses, and that she has Gators everywhere I mentioned.

By 8:00 I was at my friend's house, jittery from the coffee, just in time to start pole class. I got a spin finally that has been frustrating me for at least the last two weeks, and generally farted around and snapped pictures of the girls when it was their turn to try something new. By 9:30 my hands and legs hurt and it was time to start taking pictures for real. I nailed up a truly sorry background and tried to adjust everything in my camera just so. I think I'm a much better street-candid photographer; there's just no pressure involved when you're shooting for yourself. I was incredibly nervous. We spent about an hour, Courtney posing in every imaginable contortionist pose, me scrambling around to keep the background from being too crappy. I made it home at about 11, just as I had predicted and then proceeded to go through the pictures and start to PP them. The macchiato was still coursing through my veins and I wasn't tired at all. Until 2 am. When it hit me. All of the sudden I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and I passed out. My dog woke me up at 3:30 to go out (because all of the sudden she can't hold it through the night.. ugh) but other than that I slept like a rock until ELEVEN.

Other than the PC meeting and the late night photo shoot, this is going to be my Tuesday until at least December. I hope I make it!

Monday, November 1, 2010


So a week ago I emailed and asked about my medical kit. I posted that I had gotten a response from the general medical place, since my lady was out of town. Last Wednesday I got another response from my medical review assistant saying that my packet had been received, that it might take EIGHT TO TWELVE weeks, and she gave me the name of my review nurse. HMMMMM. No contact information, but a name is something to start with. I just emailed her again, just to say thanks for getting back to me last week, do you know if my things have been sent on, oh and can I have an email or something for this woman who supposedly has my stuff? Thanks :) Because even at the optimistic end of that time frame she gave me, eight weeks from now is the end of December. (Whoa that is soon.) I'm not feeling particularly RAS-y or urgent, I would really just rather gently prod things along from the get go than get eight weeks out and panic and start to call people psychotically. **Edit** I got an email back, word for word the same email I got last week. Guess that's my sign to chill the eff out.

I have a container of buttermilk in my fridge because I made fried green tomatoes last night, a la Paula Deen, who called for buttermilk. I'd never made them dredged in buttermilk and flour - before I coated them in regular milk and breadcrumbs, but these were fantastic. I need to come up with a recipe to use up the rest of the buttermilk. Any suggestions?

Yes I know some of these are red, but apparently a green tomato is a specific breed (?) of tomato that is still a green tomato even when it's ripe. They are much much firmer than your typical tomato. After slicing them, I laid them in a colander, salted them, and then left them for thirty minutes to draw all the water out. After that, they were dipped in buttermilk, dredged in a flour/black pepper mixture, and then fried in vegetable oil until browned. I laid them on paper towels to blot the oil a bit, salted and peppered them again. They were scrumptious.

I also made hot apple cider, spiked with spiced rum. Delicious. I'm fighting the urge to finish off the rest of it right now, seeing as how it's only two thirty in the afternoon and drinking this early probably isn't the most responsible thing I can do. My phone is ringing right now, but I have stopped answering it because the only people who have been calling during the last week or so have been recordings of politicians and their family members, asking me to vote in the upcoming election. I can't wait until Tuesday and this is all done with.

Something interesting I've noticed in PC blogs is the amount of people who are more-than-a-little-bit interested in photography. It seems like every other one I read, someone is wondering about taking their DSLR, posting pictures, talking about taking pictures, etc. It's like one more facet of my life makes sense and fits into this puzzle that I'm so happy to be a part of. It makes me want to go and shoot everything and get way better at this.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Joke's on you.

I had dinner a couple of nights ago with a girl I taught with last year. (Girl, she's 27, married, and pregnant :)... woman just sounds too old for her) Anyway, she told me that two of the new kindergarten teachers have this joke that goes, "Wow, I hope I get hired back, I can't afford to join the Peace Corps!" I think this is hilarious, not because I find self deprecating humor hilarious (though I do), but because they really just have no idea. Another woman at school was asking me about it and implied that she was pretty sure I'm making a huge mistake based on a poorly thought out decision. I told her that I had wanted to teach abroad for a long time and never found another program that I felt comfortable with. She scoffed "Honey, I would have kept looking a little longer." In general I feel incredibly blessed that I've gotten so much positive feedback about doing this, and these two things don't derail me at all from staying on this course. They really just make me smile to myself and feel a little sorry for them. It feels like I'm on the outside of glass room, I can feel the sunshine and the breeze, and they are just watching me, thinking I'm nuts because of the huge goofy grin I have on my face.

I put a much smaller version of this post on facebook last night, and one of my friends commented "YOU are so evolved!!! I'm proud to call you friend!!" <3 I'm thankful for people like her in my life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dear Weather, you're too hot. Love, Liz

I watched last night's Rocky Horror Glee Show on Hulu this afternoon (one of my all time favorite websites) and had a fleeting memory of being obsessed with the "Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me" song way back in the day. I cannot for the life of me remember if I had it on a mix tape, how old I was, who I listened to it with, or if I've actually ever seen the movie more than once. I'm positive I saw it at Notre Dame freshman year, but other than that I'm not sure. Somehow I knew every line of that song, and knew exactly what had been changed to make it more tv appropriate. It's so odd to me that my memory is that bad for something as specific as a song. There are others that I'll listen to and can immediately stop what I'm doing and tell a viciously detailed story about my life around the time I last heard it. This is really going to bug me.

Next I just wanted to note how much I love driving in the mountains. I hadn't had the pleasure of doing so until this last summer (I'd been the passenger plenty of times, just never the driver) and it is quite possibly top five in my favorite places to drive. Bridges and through tunnels are up there, too (specifically the bridge connecting Charleston to Mt Pleasant, and the IOP connector during a lightning storm, as scary as that was). I really just love driving in general. With the windows down. Fast.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Just typed out this long ramble about my tutoring company, but then I realized that I don't care that much, that it's just an annoyance, and I'll probably have to deal with a lot worse, so I'm over it :)

In PC news, I innocently emailed my medical review assistant this morning to ask if she could tell if I'd need anything redone, seeing as how my nomination is now only about three months away. I got a bounce back email saying she was out of the office on the 22nd but would be back on the 25th (today). Also, if i had an urgent question, to call this one number, and if it was a general question I could email another address. I resent my same letter to the general address and got this response:

"Your medical materials just arrived last Thursday. Your file has been assigned to a screening nurse and will be reviewed in a timely manner. However, that may be several weeks. It’s very heavy here with so many applications coming in. The screening nurses have been down four nurses for a few months and those new hires are due to come in this week and next for initial training. That is all to say it is taking a little longer than we would like. All applicantions will be reviewed within 6 to 8 weeks of receipt. Hopefully, a lot sooner. You are always free to contact us, but for awhile, you are likely to get an answer that your file is with your screening nurse and will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thanks for your patience."

I want to write back and say thank you for your time, I appreciate the response, and ask if I send brownies, could he/she get me through by the end of the week :) I love how "timely manner" is juxtaposed next to "several weeks," "6 to 8 weeks," and "a little longer than we would like". Patience.

Also, I just realized I'm going to miss the last installment of the Harry Potter movie when it comes out. Boo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another stolen video

Thanks Melissa :)

and one I found on my own.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No football today? I'm lost.

A small flare up of RAS has started creeping up my back, but I'm trying not to scratch it, because that will just make things worse. At what point should I call to innocently "check" on my medical packet? I've read so many entries about people's OMS person leaving PC and not forwarding any kind of info. I'm still absolutely on track to make my nominated timeline, I just want to keep it that way. In a moment of complete weakness last night I went through several others' timelines and noted when PC received their medical packets, and when they were cleared... I have everything ranging from 3 days (I know, right?) to 4 months.

To distract myself, here are the things I hope to accomplish today:
  • Dye hair (I dye it black, it's fading to brown again)
  • Laundry
  • Finish cleaning my car, which I started last weekend. I still need to do the windows, interior, and wheels.
  • Go to the gym (I skipped yesterday)
  • Paint my toenails
  • Bank Too late :-/
  • Email tutoring company to give my schedule that I set up with parents last week
  • Health food store to pick up Diva Cup and fish oil for my dog (she's having skin issues)
  • Find some cute/cheap pearl earrings (obv imitation, I lost one last year and miss them)
  • Abreva? I have a zit/cold sore on my lip and it's freaking killing me
  • Toilet paper. Self explanatory.
I have wasted so much time watching old monster movies and trying to figure out what order this list needs to be done in.


Pearl earrings at JC Penny's for $5.99! Hells yes. Bought the hair dye, haven't done it yet. Um Diva Cup what??? I'm glad I bought it prior to leaving. Dog LOVES the fish oil on her food. It's stinky, go figure. Got some natural health food store cold sore drops, taste like crap. That is all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toolkit update :)

Got an email this morning telling me my toolkit was updated, and while I knew it would be to inform me that PC received my physical, I was secretly hoping that it would also tell me I had a hold - meaning they were reviewing it. And also that I had been cleared. That would be an impossibility, but I can dream :) Either way I'm happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

just to keep me in check...

... the universe handed me today. Got a 6:37 am call to sub as an ESE aide, "so, uh, dress comfortably," she warned me. Lovely. Checked my email on my phone while still laying in bed only to recieve this little gem from my tutoring company supervisor (sent at 6:51):

Good morning,

I kid you not it's in all caps with a red background. (It was sent to everyone, not just me.) Not that this should surprise me, since a lot of correspondence from that place comes in bright colors and capital letters, making it seem like the world is about to end. I got dressed in some yoga pants, a cute top, my jean jacket, and sneakers, made some coffee and oatmeal, and headed out the door. I called the guy on the drive and was told that like 12 things need to be done today, zero of which I was aware. I asked when this information was sent out and he let me know that a couple other people had been asking the same thing. Since I was getting emails and responding to things, both sides assumed I was getting ALL the emails. Apparently there were some I wasn't getting, hence the seemingly unnecessary "shouting" in red letters at the deadlines that were TODAY, IMMEDIATELY, NOW, AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. I still think it's a ridiculous way to communicate with people though. Ugh. I pulled into a parking spot at school, hung up my phone, and realized that I hadn't eaten a single bite of breakfast. I can't not have breakfast, I get starving and my blood sugar drops (not anything critical, PC med staff, I just get super hungry and cranky and a headache occasionally.) Anyway, I scarfed down the oatmeal, grabbed my coffee and headed in.

I spent the day marveling at a kid with ASD who has his voice communication thing on his iPad (a kindergartener), and another one who has it on his iPod Touch. I was blown away by this use of technology, and a little curious about what the future might hold for it. The kid with the iPad had it tucked into the front of a two inch, three ring binder with a clear plastic cover. A binder with an iPad cover. Craziness.

Lastly, my medical packet hasn't gotten to PC yet. I know because I have been checking the USPS tracking thing. It was supposed to get there by noon on the 20th, according to my receipt, but the website says noon on the 21st. Sounds like someone dropped the ball.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

fabulous day :)

Title says it all. My alarm started going off at about 6:30, but I snoozed it like 10 times. I remember dreaming that I was really confused about what it said (my alarm is my iphone, so I have to read the screen, and if I'm still asleep I get really disoriented. It's pretty hilarious considering that this has been my alarm for the last 3 years and it still gets me tripped up). I got a sub call at 7:00 that I had to turn down because I was volunteering this morning, it was somewhat ironic because the school that called was the same school I was going to volunteer at. I ended up getting to the classroom a little late but I got to sit with some kids and worked on spelling and writing, really fun stuff. After leaving at 9:30 I stopped by my doctor's office and picked up my 2nd pap and UA results. This time around my urine showed "trace" amounts of ketones, but it was negative last time. I guess if you put both test results together, I'm either perfectly healthy or slightly flawed. I'm hoping PC sees the former. If they want me to retest I will, but I've already done it twice at this point and it was such a small amount that I'm not doing it again without being told to.

After I left the doctor's I started to drive over to the university where I had an appointment to meet two teachers in the ELI (English Language Institute) who need classroom assistants. I had about 20 minutes to spare once I got there so I drove across the street to a Target Copy, copied the lab results, and went through the medical packet twice more before sealing it up. I should have just stayed at the school because I was late to the meeting with the teachers. I'd forgotten what a nightmare parking near the College of Ed can be. I ended up leaving my car at my bank, which is across the street, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't be towed.

I met one teacher, Olga, while the other, Tina, was already teaching by the time I got there. Olga described her class and asked what I thought. I was shocked that she wanted my opinion on how to go about things, but I guess I better get used to it :) She has 10 students, 4 of whom are young women from Venezuela and are almost at too high of a level for the class they're in. The other 6 are men from the middle east who are much lower in their English skills. Olga said that the girls are bored in class when they finish before the guys and aren't afraid to show it. They put their heads down, sigh, text, and have even told her how bad of a job she was doing when she had them work with partners and coach each other ("We're not supposed to be the teachers, YOU ARE," one of them said... jeez.) We pulled some materials that are extensions of what they're learning and being tested on so that I could work with the girls while Olga went more slowly with the men. At the start of class I introduced myself and Olga let everyone know that I'm her assistant and from now on there will be two teachers in the room some days (I am only going Tuesdays and Thursdays for sure, and then I'll go MWFs if I'm not subbing.) The students were working on a front/back review of the chapter, and I decided to have them do a Kagan structure :) For those of you who may not know Kagan, it's a cooperative-learning method of teaching and classroom building where students are required to get up and move around and interact with each other. After doing a fill-in-the-blank section, I showed them how to take their books, get up and walk around, comparing answers with one another (one at a time) and then high fiving before going on to another student. They were all pretty into it and laughing, and I think it was really different from how they normally do class. Even the girls were smiling and interacting with the guys and helping them out a little. The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else, I'll have to sneak it in so they don't realize they're doing it :) I'm hoping to be able to do something like that every class. After the activity the girls and I went to a corner of the (tiny!) room so they could work on the rest of the review at a faster pace. We went over things carefully and talked about the way the words are structured. It blows me away how complicated English can be. I never really understood grammar until I took French and had to learn it in another language, but after that it made a lot more sense (and exposed how nutty it can be). I taught third grade too, which is all about the grammar, but at least those kids know what sounds right. One of the objectives of the ELI class is to use simple present verb tense correctly, but there was progressive present on the review, so we had to stop and go over the difference. It's so weird even giving thought to the difference between the phrases "the phone rings" and "the phone is ringing" let alone trying to explain it. I think this is going to be amazing practice for me.

The other class I'll be working with is a higher level (the lowest is 10, then 20, then 30.. and so on, the one today was level 10, the other is level 30), I'm interested to see what grammar they're learning. Hopefully I understand it! I think the other woman wants me to just sit outside and be there as a resource for those who need help clarifying something or a conversation partner.

After leaving the university I went to the post office where I mailed a package to my family in California and my medical packet to Peace Corps :) I'm SO relieved it's finally on its way, I can't even describe it (though I'm sure all of you understand perfectly!) I overnighted it and should see that it arrived by tomorrow at noon. I wrote a big Thank You and drew a smiley on the inside envelope that will hopefully make the person who opens it want to help me out a little. I should have sent a cupcake or something, too. My nomination is less than four months away, so maybe they'll get to it a little more quickly than they would otherwise? That thing is a damn work of art. Each section is paper clipped together and sticky-noted with what's included. I'm expecting a thank you card for having the most complete and neatly organized packet ever in the history of PC. Ha. A girl can dream... Either way I did the absolute best possible job I could getting it done correctly, and it's now out of my hands. Que sera, sera.

Now I'm off for a nap maybe, then the gym, and finally another episode of my dirty girl dance class :) Happy day.

Medical packet mailed !!!!

Guaranteed by noon tomorrow. Though I doubt I'll have confirmation from PC by then :) fingers are crossed!!!

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 16, 2010

new modus operandi

I have come to a decision regarding my constant panic over timelines and peace corps wiki and reading other people's blogs. My decision is that I'm not going to care anymore. Now, this may be easier said than done, we'll see, but I realized that the feeling of "ughhhhh," whenever I see that a new one of "my" countries has started inviting people to "my" region, that it's kind of counter what-the-peace-corps-is-about. I understand that my nomination has a 50% chance of changing, and I'm actually kind of intrigued by this notion, so why not embrace it?

One of the reasons I want to even join PC is because I'm at a unique point in my life, not tied down, sans offspring, and pretty much free to do what I want. I am tired of looking around at my friends and wishing my life was more "on track" like their's are. Watching PC timeline and lamenting over others' invitations to countries I feel like I should be going to is the EXACT SAME THING. In wishing my timeline was more "on track" and "normal" I'm forgetting that my experience will be perfect, as long as I let it be. I mean really, PC isn't going to close any time soon, we're not going to run out of months, there will be room for me, too. I forget what book it was in, maybe Seinlanguage, but the author was talking about his mom giving him crap for "ruining his appetite" before dinner, but he knew another appetite was right behind it somewhere, that's how I'm choosing to approach this from now on. With that said, I will still read your blogs and comment on them (please write more! I LOVE reading them!) I will be happy for you when you get your invitations, I will commiserate over bumps in the road and frustrations, but I will not compare my timeline to yours and panic. Or, at least I will try not to :)