Thursday, September 30, 2010

it's in my blood

My parents took a safari in November 1982, to Kenya, among other places. My dad wanted to name me Kenyatta, or so the story goes, because I came along nine months after they returned. My mom won that battle, thankfully. I don't think I look like a Kenyatta at all, but who knows. I found 468 slides from their trip in a bottom desk drawer today. First of all I love looking at pictures from my family pre-me. As I've said before, my dad was a photography junkie, and inheriting all his camera equipment was the spark that got me into it as well. About a year ago my older brother had nearly 3,000 slides converted to digital format that showcased my dad's life from about 1950 up though 1990. Forty years of his life. It was an exciting life, too. He hiked through national parks, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and went skiing so often that he ended up buying land in Vermont and building a ski house. He was apparently the favorite bachelor uncle for quite some time before my mom came along and changed all that. My dad's life looked like so much fun. On those hikes it shows them taking breaks to pop open a bottle of wine and a can of pate. Jeez, dad, live it up why don't you?

Anyway, Africa. I've gone through six boxes so far and have seven left to peruse. I'm listening to Paul Simon's Kodachrome right now because they were all shot in Kodachrome and are therefore in amazing condition. They were also shot with a Niiikon camera, for what it's worth. Actually, the same Nikon camera that's sitting in the camera bag to the right of my bed. I got a little teary eyed looking at some of the more beautiful landscapes that my dad captured, for several reasons. The first being that I can't believe that I'll be over there too, the second being that I feel such a strong connection to my dad looking at these knowing that he and I share a passion for photography and travel, and the third being that I'm looking at landscapes and sunsets and trees and mountains that he looked at too. Twenty-eight years ago my dad looked through the viewfinder of his camera, composed a picture, focused a lens (the same lenses that I'm using now) and clicked the shutter. He took nearly 500 pictures that I'm staring at now, preparing to travel to perhaps some of the same places he went. I don't know if any of this makes sense but it's shooting through me like electricity right now, so strongly, in fact, that I had to take a break half way through looking at the slides. I miss him.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I can see the end

I volunteered this morning again, I had an impossible time getting out of bed though. So sleepy. After volunteering I went back to my doctor's office and asked the receptionist to have the missing information filled in, which she did within about five minutes. After that it was on to the other women's center to get verification that I've had the three Gardasil vaccinations. I'm glad I checked it all over before leaving because there was a page missing that I had to ask for again. She gave me records from my past visits as well, and it was a little shocking to see some of that info (as in, I've gained weight since a few years ago, crap.)

I sorted through it all and made sure everything was there, checking off those blue and white boxes. I went through and put my name and SSN on every page. Then I copied everything, clipped all the pages together and sticky noted what each thing was ("Sections 2 & 3: allergies, counseling statements, dental braces, podiatrist," "Immunizations," "Lab Results," etc). So far it's like 27 pages and will be at least 10 more by the time it's over with. I'm pretty stoked that everything is ready for the last lab results to come in and then can be shipped off!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sitting at the lab/the busiest day

** The first part of this was written on my phone while waiting at the lab, the second half was finished this evening. This might be the longest and most boring entry ever, you are warned.**

I just left the doctor's office where the nurse was in the biggest hurry ever :-/ I went over all the forms with her so she could highlight what needed to be signed by the doctor, but filling out the form for the blood tests made me want to just tell her to stop and chill. I tried to show her the eight tests that I needed done and she just went "yep, yep, yep, we'll just do the Hep Panel and it'll get all three." All three as in Hep A, B, C. Not as in the three Hep B core/surface antibody/antigen nonsense that is required. She offered to have all the lab results mailed to me instead of having to come in again, which I do appreciate, so I self addressed some envelopes so they can send them. Anyway, meeting with the doctor was fine. I got to sit in the office and talk a little bit about me and my life and give my family medical history and then go over all the forms that needed to be filled out. He did me the honor of writing that I'm a non-smoker and was just trying to be honest on the initial application, which I appreciate. He also asked about birth control pills, which I used to be on, but stopped once my prescription ran out and I was uninsured. I don't feel a super strong need be on them since I'm not with anyone right now, but it was nice to have extra light, short periods. I would just really rather be on or off consistently and not changing it up every time I get a new job, insurance, or geographic location. I'll have to call my medical point of contact to see what's available overseas. (I guess I also don't want to start a new medication and have to get a medical hold put on my account...)

After leaving the doctor's I drove over to the lab to get all the blood tests done. Let me just interrupt myself to rant about how incredibly dumb it is that you have to have written doctors orders to get blood tests done. Who the HELL cares if I want to find out about my Hep B antigen status, or if I have HIV, or if my G6PD titer is where it should be. I have a freaking list from the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT that says I need these tests done, why isn't that good enough? Ok, down from my soapbox. I checked in and handed the woman the form that the nurse had filled out and then showed her the list from PC and asked her to double check that the tests requested were the ones checked. She just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I'd have to take it up with my doctor. I tried to explain that I had, that the nurse had been in a hurry, that I wanted to get it right the first time instead of coming back in a week, and that I had looked over the form and didn't understand half of the abbreviations on there. She again looked at me like I was nuts. She said that she would put everything into the computer, see if anything was duplicated and then if anything was missing I'd have to call to get verbal consent to add the tests on. At this point I took a deep breath and counted to ten and then went back and sat down. (I really don't understand why I can't have say over what tests are done from my OWN BLOOD) After a few minutes she called me back to the window and was already on the phone with nurse at my doctor's making sure that all eight tests would be done. I'm so glad I asked too, because it turns out that two were missing. I told her how much I appreciated her calling and double checking for me and actually almost got teary eyed, because I really was that thankful. The guy who actually drew my blood laughed because I asked to see the final form one last time. I had four vials drawn (not bad!) and peed in a cup.

After the lab I drove to the walk-in that I usually go to for colds and such to get my vision and hearing tested. As soon as I parked I realized that I had walked out without paying the nice woman at the lab. Oops. The hearing test was completely embarrassing, I missed so many. I could hear ambient sounds like cars driving by, the air conditioning kicking on, people coughing in the room next door, but I could not hear those damn tones. My vision was better, 20/15 in both eyes without any glasses or contacts :) It must be because I wear sunglasses while I'm listening to my all too loud music? Anywho, I drove BACK to the lab to pay where they just said "oh no, we just send you a bill if your insurance doesn't cover it all." Nice. Good thing the lab and the walk-in are only about a mile from one another.

I drove home after that just time to log on to the info session regarding nominees and invitees and the beginning of service and all that. It was helpful, but I feel like I've perused so many blogs by this time that all the information is just mushing together in my head. I asked about just flat out not receiving an invitation after clearing medical (because that seems to be my biggest fear right now) but I think he interpreted it as "what if I don't pass medical" because he suggested that placement would just be more hesitant about where to put me and that I needed to contact my medical person about holds and whatnot. By the time it was over I was so overloaded with Peace Corps that I needed a break. I drove over to my friends house for a movie date. She has a 4 week old baby so she's home all day and we have a shared love of all things movie, so we figured we'd put our mutual unemployment status to good use and have a weekly cinema experience. I got home a little bit ago and started sorting through my million pieces of paperwork.

I have everything sorted into three piles/giant envelopes. The first is "Stuff that is mine that isn't being sent anywhere." This stuff is the letter I got about my password, my copy of the NAC form, privacy statement, my copy of all my dental stuff, etc. The second pile is "Stuff that is still being worked on". Self explanatory. The third is "Stuff ready to be sent" That pile is getting bigger and bigger thankfully. I was going through the stuff that was done today, checking everything off of that nice blue and white checklist when I got to section X. Can I please say that I freaking hate section X? It's so non-descript but huge and blank and suggests that a LOT needs to be written there. The title is Summary of the Medical Examination and Additional Comments, but the part that the Dr. can write in is a list of "All Active and Chronic Conditions," "Recommendations & Comments," and "Do you have any medical concerns...?" I hate this. Anyway, I was checking everything and realized that my doctor had signed it, but didn't print his name, put his license number, or contact info. Grr. I am really pissed at myself for missing this, and I guess I'll be making a trip back over there tomorrow.

I am so tired right now I can't even think anymore. In non-medical news, I have been emailing back and forth with a woman at the English Language Institute at my alma mater about volunteering there for the semester. I was told there would be two possibilities for volunteering through them, one being a classroom assistant and the other being a conversational partner. I contacted two different women about both opportunities and the one who's in charge of the classroom assistants emailed me back. She asked for my background and resume, which I gave, and then she asked if I'd had ESL Methodologies in grad school. My heart sank. I will first say that I loved my grad school advisor. She has known me my entire life and is amazing and without her I could not have done grad school as successfully as I did. The only regret I have is that she suggested that I not worry about ESOL courses. I really wish I hadn't listened to that. I emailed the woman back asking that would derail volunteering for them, but she got right back to me saying not at all, that she was trying to figure out if I could have TAUGHT October - December for them. I was so relieved and at the same time annoyed. I could still volunteer, but teaching would have been AWESOME.

The nurse said that the lab results should come back pretty quickly, I'm wondering if my October 2nd goal is still doable...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

getting older

You know how I know I'm getting old? My knees don't let me get low low low anymore. My body takes all day to recover from four drinks. I am you-tubing videos to see how the kids get those cool bangs they've got going on nowadays. That's how I know I'm old. Went out last night and watched some SEC football, danced a little (ok a lot) and took 175 pictures. I didn't realize how much commotion it would cause to bring my big, fun, awesome camera versus my little, pink, girly point and shoot, but everyone was concerned about who I was and why I was documenting the evening so meticulously. At least 5 people stopped to ask why my camera was so big, and I just shouted "because it's awesome!" That seemed to be a reasonable answer and then we all went back to dancing.

I got up this afternoon (yes, afternoon) and found that the remote I ordered for my camera had come in the mail yesterday. It took me a few minutes to remember what it was, I'm going to blame the tequila for that fact. The remote reminded me that my lenses hadn't come yet, so I checked the front porch. Maybe I have ESP or something because there was a box sitting there with my name on it. I love that they were sitting there all day yesterday, overnight, and most of the morning. Oops. I had to get some coffee before even thinking about opening everything and testing it all out. After being properly caffeinated I was able to pull apart the layers of bubble wrap and try the "new" lenses. It's amazing that they are 40 years old and work almost seamlessly with my brand new camera. I wish I felt more like going out today to play around with them, but it is honest to God taking me all day to recover from last night. Maybe tomorrow. (After my doctors appointments!)

Fiiinally. I'm thinking the gyno probably won't be able to test my vision (and it might actually be weird if they were able to...) so I will most likely be making a trip to the walk in to get that portion of my form filled out. I've gotten sports physicals there before, so I know they can do some of what's required for PC, but my insurance treats it as a specialist so the visit is only 20% covered, and I knew they couldn't do the lady parts stuff. I'm also planning on getting the orders for the blood tests and making a trip over to Quest to get those rolling. I'm fully intending to pre-apologize upon walking in for being overbearing about the way the forms are filled out. After tomorrow all I want to do is wait for the lab results to come in. I don't want to have to go back and get anything retested or resigned. My original goal was to get the entire medical packet sent back in a month, by October 2nd. That date is almost definitely out the window now, but I want to get as close as I can.

I apologize for how disjointed and awkward the writing is in today's entry... my brain isn't fully functioning and it has a whole lot going on inside, which is never a good combination. Lastly, the picture. It's from last night, I left the shutter open for a few seconds and just swirled it around. I like it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

stole this

but so did the person whose blog I found it on... It's pretty fantastic & makes me want to drink in every moment I find myself in. The old woman eating soup makes me cry a little.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to make delicious enchiladas

I'm starting to pay attention to the "little things" in my life that I take for granted. My car being able to take me anywhere in town within 20 minutes, a post office that's pretty much reliable, a grocery store a mile away with anything I can imagine, my bathroom, water out of the fridge, even the fridge itself. I used 4 out 6 of these things to make dinner tonight. Because I love cooking & taking pictures, & am coming to love this blog, I'm going to share a recipe. You can skip this entry if you want, incase you have no interest in enchiladas. (But, who doesn't love an enchilada?)


Chicken breasts
1 can each of black beans, corn, and tomatoes with green chiles
2 cans of enchilada sauce (I used one green and one red)
Tortillas (6?)
Package of shredded Mexican cheese
Mojo and Tabasco (I used the green chile one)

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and sautee them with a little olive oil, mojo, and some green tabasco.

Then combine black beans, corn niblets, and chopped tomatoes with green chiles. Stir in the chicken and about 3/4 of the cheese

Lay a tortilla in a greased baking dish, fill the center with the chicken & veggie mix, wrap it up, and turn seam side down. Repeat until you run out of mix, tortillas, or room in the baking dish (I ran out of tortillas first)

Spread the enchilada sauce over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, cover with tin foil, and bake at 350 F for 20 minutues. Then uncover the enchiladas and bake for an additional 20 minutes to brown and bubble the cheese.

Top with sour cream & enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Online Info sessions & astronomy

Not that those two things normally go together, but today they do. Because I'm putting them both in my blog. Does anyone else still get those general emails from PC saying things like "get your application in soon and you could be leaving by July!" or "Life is calling, how far will you go? Attend a webinar to discover what the Peace Corps is all about"... I do. I want to send a return email saying "Thank you so much, but I got the application in some time ago and will be gone long before July, if I can help it, but thank you." I'm actually "attending" an online info session as I type this, I'm waiting for it to start. I'm hoping to maybe get some information on things I never would have thought to ask. There's another one on Monday geared towards nominees and invitees to explain things going on in this process and the beginning of service that I will definitely be listening to. Edit: the info session was pretty much what I expected it to be, but I got the chance to ask what kind of volunteer work to do now to make myself more competitive for the PO and she said anything teaching and in a classroom, but that if I have an ed degree and classroom experience (which I do) then I could do some work in ANOTHER area like health or HIV/AIDS, teaching English, something with agriculture, or even just teaching basic sanitation. Any of these would work to strengthen me as an "all around" good fit. I'm thankful for that information.

On the astronomy end of things, I went out last night to see what was supposed to be some kind of rare alignment that only happens once every 95 years or something. I had no idea what I was looking at other than a full moon, which was still pretty neat. I guess I looked pretty professional with my tripod and long zoom lens because a couple of people were asking me where to look and what to look for. One girl asked if I knew much about astrology, which I thought was funny. The moon was amazingly bright and my long exposures looked like day-time. The only hitch in the entire evening was when I returned to my car and realized that my bottle of mosquito repellant had leaked all over the inside of my purse and all over everything I had in there. My phone, a camera lens, bottle koozie, pictures of my nephews, USB drive, school board ID badge, three stacks of sticky pads, my point & shoot camera, my favorite pen, wallet... everything you can imagine. Too bad bug spray also acts as a paint thinner because it melted the blue dye off my phone case all over a new tee shirt. I was standing in my laundry room at 12:30 am when I got home with a bleach pen. (I'm smiling thinking how frivolous this will all be this time next year..)

Lastly, I got a phone call from the people at the Susan G. Komen foundation because I've registered to do a 3-day walk at the end of October. I have only raised $200 of the $2300 I need. Crap. I need to get better at this, huh?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I totally have a crush on dr. house

I started volunteering today in a second grade class at a low income school. My friend is the teacher, so it's kind of a win-win situation because we can chat a little :) My name is on the sub list at four schools as well, and I'll be tutoring kids through the Title I initiative starting next month. My goal is to have a lot on my plate and a lot of resume updating to do when the nice placement officer calls asking what I've been up to. My PC program is primary teacher training - any other ideas on volunteer work for that? Also does anyone have any experience with sending in your dental stuff separate from medical in regards to being dentally cleared? I know my dental package was delivered on Monday morning because I got the delivery confirmation, but I haven't been told yet that it got there, that they're looking at it, or anything. I keep hoping for that little email in the morning saying they're at least reviewing it, but I guess in the grand scheme of things it's only been a day. Silliness, see latest entry :) I was gone most of the day today at the school and then running errands and shopping this afternoon. It was a lot better than sitting around reading blogs and timelines, shocking!

Does anyone watch House? See the premier last night? Hot. Also, I bought some Tom's of Maine toothpaste to get in better touch with my hippy side. I got the kids' Outrageous Orange-Mango flavor, but I'm not too happy with it's foam-ability. Their website does say the kids' version is less foamy than the adult version, but it's still going to take some getting used to. Hmm. Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I know there has been a serious lack of any PC updates, but I'll be desperately checking the USPS website tomorrow to see if my dental packet has arrived in DC, and I'm also going to call the gyno to see if they'll bump my appt up if there are any cancellations. Last but not least: Scarlet is a terrier through and through. She found a mole hole and spent about a half hour going to town. Love her.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

i heart being southern

Today was spent laying in the sun, grocery shopping, cooking, eating, and watching football. I put up a picture of sunshine the other day and didn't take my camera to Publix, so my pictures today are of cooking & food. Chicken & waffles. Yes. Please eat some the next time you get a chance, the combination is delicious. You're welcome. (I know this shows a lot of brown food, please don't worry - there was a huuge fruit plate that we also partook in, you know, for balance.)

Friday, September 17, 2010


I should not be allowed to think about PC while I have my period. All I've managed to accomplish over the last two days is reading and bookmarking twenty-one other PC blogs, and scaring myself into thinking I'm going to make it through medical just fine and then still get rejected when the PO looks over everything and just cracks up laughing at me. I'm pretty sure it's hormones that have me all agitated, but I found a blog where a woman was asked to rewrite one of her essays (twice. ouch.) and then wasn't invited after all. This was after she was put on medical hold for like eight months. I would shrivel up and die. Maybe not really, but I would be so disappointed. I panicked when I read her entry about rewriting the essays, because she included the prompt given to her initially and it did NOT match the ones I wrote about. I went back and reread my essays and calmed down a little bit because they fit what I was asked, and were pretty well written. Maybe we're all given different essays? I wish I knew someone else applying and going through all this because I'm so sick of bugging my NPC (non-peace corps, new acronym) friends with all my musings and worries. (For example, no one I know has even heard of a Diva Cup, let alone considered getting one.)

My dental packet hasn't arrived in DC yet, I know because I've been psychotically stalking the USPS tracking site (cough...)

There are no pictures because, like I said, all I did was read PC crap and panic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

quick update

Two things, pretty inconsequential, but any PC related progress makes me happy :) 1) I got my lab results back from the health department that say I'm positive for varicella titer (I think that's how it's phrased?) which means no varicella vaccinations for Lizzie! B) I mailed off my dental cost-share claim along with bill & proof of payment. My dental packet should get to DC tomorrow and hopefully I'll get some sort of update on My Toolkit :)

Picture today: view of palm trees while laying out. I need a job.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is my dental packet ready to be sent in!!!!

I just got back from the post office where I had it sent priority mail with delivery confirmation. I figured there was no need to overnight it since my medical stuff isn't anywhere near being done - that monster of an envelope will for SURE be overnighted when I get it all complete :) I also mailed four of my dad's camera lenses to a guy in Michigan who will "convert" them to be usable on my DSLR. Nikons and Nikkor lenses are all pretty much compatible from 1977 onward, with a few asterisks here and there for functionality. My dad's are from 1970 and therefore have to receive a bit of tweaking to work. There are some nice ones in the bunch and I can't wait to get them back and shoot with them!

Another appointment down

I just returned from an appointment with a podiatrist, and it's a shame that I'm leaving and don't have any real foot issues because he was a totally nice guy. I felt sort of bad just going to have him fill out the PC form because I could tell that he really wanted to help me. The reason PC wanted me to go in the first place was because I reported having fasciitis on the initial medical questionnaire. For those of you not in the foot-know, it basically means that in the mornings, my right heel hurts like a bitch and I have to gingerly stretch it out in order to walk like a normal human being. This is caused by something or other in my foot when I run around and play soccer or wear shoes with awful arch support. It's not a huge deal because I've had it for a few years now and have managed just fine. I take OTC anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, aleve, etc) and just stretch if it's bothering me. I felt bad because the nice podiatrist man was offering to show me inserts for my shoes, write me a script for pain meds to take with me, and I kept saying, "No I'm fine, thanks." I really just wanted the form filled out. Under the "specific requirements for follow up over the next three years" he wrote "f/u PRN" which I'm smart enough to know means "follow up as the situation arises." If any of you are ever playing Trivial Pursuit or some other similar game, you want me on your team. I'm so full of random knowledge like that it's not even funny.

Now that the podiatrist is done, I have no Peace Corps medical stuff for the next two weeks, ugh. I feel like it's such a waste of time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Didn't take any pictures on Sunday, but took a bunch today :) Days 12 & 13 are from Cedar Key, my favorite little north central florida fishing town

Saturday, September 11, 2010


This is my best friend Jenny facilitating a meeting between Emmie (her daughter) and Gidget (my mom's dog). I think my dog might be somewhere out of the frame given Emmie's line of sight. She LOVES dogs, but she's a teensy bit scared of them when they're too overwhelming. Adorable.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I went out to a prairie last night and took some pictures of stars. I need a tripod and a remote, because last night I was limited to placing the camera on a (crooked) railing and holding my finger on the shutter button, all the while hunched over because I had the strap around my neck still (there was no way I was putting my camera on a railing over a pitch black alligator infested prairie and stepping away from it.) I was really surprised by the amount of light pollution there was and how light the skies turned out. It was 11 o'clock at night and I promise it was waaay darker than the picture lets on. I'm going to have to drive further out to the middle of nowhere next time :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

eight and nine of three sixty five

I missed yesterday, but I made up for it today by going on a little impromptu photo adventure. Here are some fun ones.


I had to call and reschedule my gyno appt for the freaking TWENTY SEVENTH because I'm supposed to get my period tomorrow and there's no way it'll be over by Monday. Good-bye, goal of getting the medical review sent back within a month, you were fun to shoot for. I'm just hoping it doesn't cause too much of a rush to get me cleared, or even worse, delayed! Does anyone know if I can go ahead and send in my dental stuff since it's done? Maybe I'll call them...

*Called them, they said to go ahead and send it in :) Will make copies of everything and send it this afternoon!*

*Also I'm TB free! woo hoo!*

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ball still rolling

I picked up my occlusal guard and got my x-rays reprinted on photo paper. I'm hoping the guard isn't going to delay my dental clearance at all, I read here that "applicants with bruxism and a recommendation from their dentist for an occlusal guard must have the device fabricated prior to service." That seems pretty straight forward, I'm hoping my "I have a history of bruxism and had a guard fitted ten years ago and one again recently" is straight forward enough for them. My x-rays look fabulous on the photo paper, I'm pretty excited about them. I have to go tomorrow to get my TB injection checked and that's all the medical stuff for this week. Monday I have an appointment at a new gyno that I'm nervous about just because I haven't been there before and it's a guy (I've only ever been seen by a woman). Hopefully he'll cooperate with me when I am looking over his shoulder and order all the right tests so I can get this thing finished!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day seven, appropriate..

..because I was seven when this picture was taken. Why was I in a bathing suit at the dentist's office? Oh that would be my dad. I was pretty sure my mom would never let me do this and she confirmed that for me when I asked her about it. I'd like to draw your attention to the background of this picture. If you click on it and see it huge-sized, you can juuuust make out my little brother in a *giant* pair of cowboy boots. Yesssss.

medical review day one

I had my dentist appointment this morning to get my x-rays and exam as well as a cleaning because it had been a while. I generally have a good experience when I visit the dentist; I've had one cavity in my entire life, never needed braces, and only had two wisdom teeth that were taken out with no problem when I was 21. Anyway, I got my full-mouth series of x-rays and the chart filled out that all my teeth are healthy and that I don't need any work done. I had my teeth cleaned and an impression taken for a new occlusal splint because I clench my jaw at night. I got one when I was 17 but there are holes where my teeth are sharp :) The dentist recommended that I get a new one made since it's ten years old and worn through, and also so I'll have a spare to take with me. I double checked everything before I left, which i'm super glad I did because they had forgotten to check the box that said I had no oral diseases, the dentist hadn't signed it, and my x-rays were on plain paper rather than photo paper. I got everything taken care of except the x-rays because they didn't have photo paper. Since I'm going back tomorrow to pick up the occlusal splint, I'll bring them some photo paper to print the x-rays on. As I was leaving, the receptionist handed me a stack of polaroids from when I was little. My dentist's office used to take a picture of any kid who didn't have cavities and put them on a bulletin board. I particularly love the one of me at age seven in a bathing suit top. Like, WHY was I allowed to go to the dentist without a shirt on?

After the dentist I made my way over to the health department where I spent two hours waiting around for 10 minutes of actual medical work (so glad my phone battery died too). The immunization department initially tried to send me over to the foreign travel desk, but once it was determined that I didn't know what country I'm going to yet, that I only needed boosters that are recommended to the general population, and that the Peace Corps will give me the serious shots at staging, I was shipped back down the hall to the immunization ladies. I had blood drawn to test for varicella immunity since I had chicken pox but never had that vaccine, I had booster shots for Tdap and Polio, and I had a TB test injection which I get to have checked on Thursday. I asked the woman who drew my blood if she was good at drawing blood and she just laughed. She got the needle in my vein on the first try and drew the vial with no issues, so I guess that answered my question. I used to have a vicious fear of needles and tried to get myself over it by donating blood (this backfired on me because I'm O negative and CMV negative, so my blood goes to babies and immunosuppressed patients, so they call me every two months begging me to come in). The second woman I saw about fell off her chair when I told her all about the Peace Corps - how far away I'm going, not knowing anyone, possibly using a pit latrine, not having air-conditioning, etc. It made me really happy to be excited about all of this rather than anxious. It reminded me of my classroom aide last year who wanted to stay home from the most awesome field trip ever because she doesn't like the outdoors. I don't understand that mentality at all - I love being outside and getting dirty and sweaty, which is a good thing since I'm sure the peace corps offers lots of opportunities for that!

On the way home from the health department the check engine light came on in my car and the speedometer and odometer both quit. I was irrationally scared of crashing until I realized that all I had to do was keep my eyes on the road (duh?) I drove to my mechanics and let them check it out. Verdict? A broken speed sensor. I'm bringing it back in the morning to have it changed and get to spend another couple hundred dollars that I don't really need to spend right now. I guess this is just God's way of keeping my sense of humor in check, since the rest of my life is going pretty great for the time being :)

Lastly with the murder of the PCV in Lesotho, my mom has decided that I'm not to bring my SLR with me. I totally understand her concern, and am not taking my safety lightly, but I think I'm going to wait to find out which country I am sent to before making a decision one way or the other.

Monday, September 6, 2010

my poor mother

A PCV who shared my alma mater was killed on Friday in Lesotho. My friend read about it online and texted me, asking if that was one of the countries I might go to. The story was featured on the online version of our town's newspaper, and I knew it would be front page in the morning. I thought about stealing the paper or cutting the story out before my mom could see it, but I knew that idea wouldn't *really* keep her from hearing about it, or for that matter, feeling good about it once she did find out. She's the only person who has expressed true reservations about me going, mainly because she's worried what will happen if I'm miserable and want to come home, but also because she doesn't want what happened on Friday to happen to me. It doesn't deter me from going at all, but it has made me rethink the notion of truly integrating into a community and taking for granted that fact that most people would look out for me. I feel like I could handle being called names, proposed to by different men ten times a day, but a bullet to the head because I can't understand a mugger? That scares me.

Day six's picture is a fountain in the plaza where I had lunch. I wanted to blur the water a little more than I did, but it was so bright out and I could only close the aperture so far. I was at f/22, shutter speed 1/60, ISO 160.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day Five

Impromptu trip 45 min north of here because my little brother blew a tire on the highway and couldn't pay for a new one (he's got the money, but his card is expired and he hasn't activated his new one yet) I drove and met him, paid for the tire and then let him take me out for tacos. The picture is the sunset on the way up to meet him.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Da Da Da Da, Da Da Da Da!!!

So I've been awful about keeping the 365 Project up, I hope it's not indicative of how the entire year is going to go! Day Two can be my cat since I don't want her to feel left out :) Nadia has a fun history. My best friend and I adopted her and her sister-cat when we were sophomores in college. We had grown up across the street from one another and then gotten an adorable little 50's era apartment after living in the dorms. We originally wanted sister-kittens but decided to adopt full grown cats instead since they would have less of a chance of being adopted. When we finally graduated and moved out separately (she to grad school, me to another house in town) we split the kitties up. This one got to come with me.

Day three is a delicious glass of ice water with limes. This is at 101 Pants where we watched our team kick around another team (albeit lightly). We just came from donating blood, it was hot, and I was dizzy. This water kept me from fainting, but only after I took a picture of it. Limes are so pretty.

Day four is me playing around with depth of field because I think it's kind of cool. That is all. Technically days three and four were taken on the same day, but it's my project and I can do that.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Narrowing it down...

Somehow when I typed in "narro..." in my title it automatically filled in the rest of the phrase. Creepy. I'm thinking maybe I used that phrase as the title of another blog entry at some point? I think it was something to do with cities I wanted to move to (Boston & Denver).

Anyway, I've been looking around the interwebs at Peace Corps everythingIcanfind, and I found a page on PC wiki that will take the program you're nominated for and cross reference it with the region and list all the countries that have that program going on. Based on that very scientific and reliable list, it could be: Botswana, The Gambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, or Zambia

After I got it to those nine, I went back to a list that told the departing dates for previous programs and figured out that four have had departing dates in February for the last two years. Those four are Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. Out of those, South Africa and Uganda have the highest percentage of education volunteers. If it really is one of those two, I'm hoping for South Africa. It has a coast (I'm a water person) and is one of the countries I've always wanted to travel to. It looks so incredibly beautiful. Now, while that is what I'm HOPING will happen I'm fully prepared to be delayed and then sent to Guatemala in April, laughing the whole way at the audacity of thinking I'd figured it all out. Mind you on my application and in my interview I said I had no preferences on location, and I truly don't. I have pretty limited international travel experience and like to form my own opinions on people and places and experiences, so I'd rather learn my own way than take someone's advice of "ooooh, don't go there!"

In more PC news (because apparently this is all I do/think about anymore) I have all my appointments made! Dentist is on Tuesday for a cleaning, exam, and xrays, which will be followed by a trip to the health department for my polio and tetanus vaccines, my varicella titers (odd word), my TB test, and copies of my vaccination record. Thursday I'll go back to the health department to get my TB test read, and a few days after that I'll have to go to get my varicella titer report. The following Monday I have my physical to get pap, blood tests, urinalysis, and vaccinations all accounted for. The next day I go to the podiatrist, though I'm really not sure what he's going to do. I have heel pain when I run around and play soccer, it's really bad in the mornings following a game usually. I haven't had it in months though and I never saw a doctor for it in the first place. I'll have to talk to him about it and see what he can fill out as far as the PC requires. After that it's just a matter of getting the results back and triple, nay, quadruple checking that I haven't missed anything and sending it up to DC.

Tomorrow is the beginning of an amazing thing here in the south: football season. I love football, sometimes I forget how much until I watch it again. My friend and I have a "thing" I guess for anything with an F on it. We were at our favorite bar last year, somewhat imbibed, and saw a guy with pants covered in embroidered Fs. We of course asked him where he got them, and he told us "the internet!" We asked him if he got them at www dot thepantswiththeFsonthem dot com. He laughed and said that's exactly where he got them. From then on everything was the______withtheFsonthem. The bar was renamed 101 Pants, we bought dresses and sewed Fs on them, etc. (Typing this out makes me realize how silly/wonderful it is) ANYWAY... I'm bringing the new camera along to document my last football season for a while :) I'm super excited. I even made a headband for the occasion.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Medical Review

My medical packet just arrived - holy crap. I guess at some point I indicated that I wear braces, which is untrue. I'm wondering if I made a mistake or if it was an error caused by the online application. Either way I'm going to have to tell them my teeth are perfectly straight naturally, albeit gapped. There are a few other things I reported having, including fascitis (heel pain), counseling, allergies to things like pollen and a certain antibiotic, and tobacco use. I'm kind of regretting putting all that down because they're really not huge issues. Pollen allergies? My eyes get itchy and I sneeze. I take benedryll and I'm better. When I was 7 I broke out in hives from an antibiotic and now I don't take it anymore. My heel hurts after I play soccer and run around a lot, I ice it, take advil or something, and stretch it out in the mornings. I've smoked maybe a pack of cigarettes in my life. I was just tying to be honest but all this is making the process seem so daunting.

Update: I now have a dentist appointment, one with a podiatrist, and am waiting to hear back from the county health department an appointment with a brand new lady doctor. I called a random women's health center and spoke with an incredibly nice lady who was sympathetic to my insurance running out and trying to get me in. Their first available appointment was for the same morning as my podiatrist, and it would be cutting it close, but I took it anyway. (I ended up calling the podiatrist's office back and moving my appointment back one day.) She said that since I hadn't been there before the doctor wouldn't pre-order any of the eight tests. Grr. I would have loved to get started on all that, since I know it's going to take a while to get the results back. I also spoke with the health department finally and they said I can walk in on Tuesday to get the TB test, polio, tetanus, and varicella titers done, and that they could put me in touch with somewhere to get the HIV test.

first picture, a day late

and it wasn't even taken yesterday, it was taken the night before. Note: I bought a really wide lens with my camera and am having my old lenses converted to be compatible with the newer body. Therefore all of my close-up pictures are either really weird angles or blurry. I need to go ahead and send off my lenses today. Anyway, picture 1: Scarlet.

My Peace Corps Timeline

I've stopped updating this entry. For a complete, up-to-date timeline, please see the separate page titled Timeline :) Thanks guys.

I've seen other PCV blogs that detail their timelines, and it always interests me because they're all so different. For the sake of comparison, my own memory, and anyone who comes across this in the middle of their own application, I am going to put mine up. I'm obviously going to have to update this as time goes on...

Three conversations in June and July of 2010 brought up the Peace Corps to me. After the third time, I decided to at least look in to it, not really committed to anything more than that because I have a cat and a dog that would need to be looked after. (And frankly I don't WANT to leave my dog, but as my sister in law said "don't NOT do something because you have pets..") My dog would have no problem finding a home, I have offers to take her off my hands at least once a week. I brought up the idea to my friend Nora who immediately declared "I'll take Nadia!" She has always loved the puddle of fur that meows at me to be fed :) And with that I decided to apply.

July 13, 2010 - I go to the PC website and look around, it's a lot different from what I thought it was (I was under the impression that it was for college students to do a semester abroad or something) It looks awesome and I begin filling out the application, I tell my cousins when they get home from work & they're ecstatic.
July 14, 2010 - I finish my essays and the health status review, I submit it all
July 28, 2010 - packet comes in the mail, my mom says she'll mail it to me
July 30, 2010 - I receive an email from my recruiter telling me that I need to send her back the forms in the packet as well as my college transcripts and financial obligation form, I also "attend" an online infosession where I ask some questions and get more and more excited about the prospect of doing this
July 31, 2010 - The packet arrives from Florida and I sort through it
August 2, 2010 - Fingerprints done at the police station in SC
August 4, 2010 - All of my references have completed the forms for me :)
August 10, 2010 - I call several people in PC to see if I need the financial obligation form notarized since I am planning on paying off my debt before leaving. I can't get in touch with anyone, leave a message for my recruiter and then have the form notarized anyway, to be safe. Recruiter calls me back after I drop everything in the mail and says what I did was fine.
August 13, 2010 - Email saying my status has changed - I check and they've received all my forms, but not all of my references. hmm. I email my recruiter to check on them.
August 14, 2010 - Email saying my status has been updated - All references are in and my recruiter will contact me soon to schedule an interview! Woo hoo!
August 23, 2010 - I haven't heard about an interview yet so I email asking if she knows what timeline to expect, she calls me right away saying that she was expecting ME to call and schedule it... miscommunication? Anyway, we schedule the interview for that Thursday, I offer to drive to Atlanta for an in-person interview.
August 26, 2010 - I show up at 10:55 for my 11:00 interview (nervous!), wait a few minutes, ask the receptionist for tips (be professional, she's not your friend, it's a job interview... got it.) We talk for almost 2 hours and I relax as I go, afterwards she tells me that she thinks I'd be a great fit for the primary teacher training program and looks over some paperwork that tells her where that program is available. She asks if I would be willing and able to ride a bike 3-5 miles a day (yes!) and then that there aren't any programs in francophone countries (sad!). I can either choose Asia leaving in January or Africa leaving in February. Now, all along I'd been thinking I'd end up in francophone Africa, since French seems in high demand, and most of the french speaking/education programs are in Africa. I've also wanted to travel there for as long as I can remember, or at least since I read Poisonwood Bible. Given that that was my first instinct, and it gave me a month more to get everything together, I picked Africa. I marvel at the fact that it's becoming more real now, that I have a region and a vague timeline to shoot for, haha.. I drive home to Florida.
August 27, 2010 - I receive an email that my status has changed - I'm a nominee now!!! I have legal clearance already, and will need to get blood tests, shots, x-rays, etc.
August 31, 2010 - I get another email that my status has been updated - My medical packet was mailed out on the 30th and I'll need to complete it and send it back.
September 2, 2010 - Medical/dental packet arrives in the mail, it's a behemoth. Separate entry for this, it's too big.
September 7, 2010 - Dentist appointment this morning, my teeth are perfect and need no work :) I had an impression taken for a new occlusal splint (to keep me from clenching my jaw at night) since mine is 10 years old and has holes in some places. I also went to the Health Department and got blood drawn for varicella immunity since I had chicken pox but no shots. I also had a TB test, Polio and Tdap boosters, and got my immunization history.

This is where I am now, waiting :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

exercising patience

My *unofficial* volunteer handbook arrived the other day, as did my lens, my sub card for this year, and my camera :) What has not gotten here is my nomination/medical clearance packet and my memory card. Thank goodness for wal-mart, because that's the first place I went to after getting my camera battery charging. Just so everyone knows, the camera is a beast. That's the best way I can describe it, it's huge and wonderful and takes amazing pictures. I'm making my way through the 444 page user's manual, taking a break every few pages to orient myself with what's being talked about and to try it out in real life.

I finished the handbook the same afternoon it came. It was that wonderful. I keep googling others' peace corps blogs to find out answers to silly, random questions that keep popping up in my head (do I shave my legs? what kind of underwear is best? when do I get my shots? do I use my own passport or one they give me? am I an idiot for wanting to bring my camera?... these kinds of things) I keep getting more and more excited every time my own "applicant status" changes. I feel like I'm a little bit closer to being a part of this amazing group of people whom I admire so much. For those of you not in the know ;) peace corps has a login for those who've applied and are tracking their way through the system. It shows where you are and what's required to move onto the next step along with tips and thought provoking surveys. Something I've seen on other blogs is a timeline of the application status - I think I'll do one of these in a separate entry that I can edit as I move along. I'm interested to see just how quickly this process goes. Sometimes it seems like forever between when I hear updates, but looking back it's only been a month and a half.

Lastly, I paid off a good chunk of my credit card debt yesterday, and only have one payment left on one card (which will go through on Sept 9th) to be credit card debt free :D. I still have a massive student loan, but the credit cards were my sore spot. Last year this time I had over $8,000 on a super high interest rate card and two lower rate cards, and really thought I'd just carry it around forever. Eventually I'd have to break it to someone if they wanted to marry me, that I'd ruin their chances of buying a house and if they wanted to cut and run, I'd understand. Sad. I found a calculator on the Kiplinger website that figured out what it would take to pay off the balance, and for the first time I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I doubled the amount I had been paying, and started making two payments a month (splitting it lowered the average daily balance which lowered the amount of interest that I was charged). In the spring I received an offer from my bank for a great rate if I transferred a balance, so I did and my double payments went even further. When I'd looked into teaching abroad in the past, something that kept me from thinking it could be a reality was that debt; who can just pick up and leave with that kind of albatross? (Not to mention the programs COST thousands to do!) This time I knew I had enough in savings to pay it off completely before I leave, and I promised my mom I'd do that since she signed a thing saying she'd take over whatever payments I leave behind. I went ahead and transferred the money from savings to my credit card yesterday after reading a quote from Hemingway in the unofficial handbook: "the shortest answer is doing the thing." In essence, don't toil back and forth with a question, just do it and find out what happens. What happened is that now whatever money I earn this fall can go into savings :)

I keep thinking about this opportunity I'm getting to be a part of and I'm filled with excitement. I feel like there are the types of people who travel and there are those who don't. For one reason or another, life gets in the way and things are put off until there's more money and more time. Sometimes I feel old (I think that comes from living in a college town where I'm surrounded by people 18-23 whenever I go anywhere) but I know I'm really not. Realizing this helps when I lament how much time I've wasted NOT doing this, it lets me be happy when I grasp how much of my life I'll have after this experience has happened.