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 ├ęcole.

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.