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 :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I just have to smile

Via text: Labs are in & normal :) omw to pick them up!! Juuuuust kidding. Nurse called my cell phone while I was in the car racing over, hoping to make it before five (never mind that she took an hour and a half to call me back this afternoon... grr) only to say "Oh shoot, Dr. K. hasn't signed it yet, and I can't release them without his signature... Well, he'll be back on Tuesday!" Tuesday? As in five days from now? Who doesn't work Fridays or Mondays? How'd he swing that one? Maybe I'm in the wrong field. At least I know my pap is normal and there's no occult blood anywhere, but honestly I was reeeeeeally excited to overnight that f*cker tonight. Le sigh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hamstrings are gonna huuuuurt tomorrow

So many invitations being sent this week (seven just in the blogs I read)! I'm a little jealous, not gonna lie :) If you have gotten the toolkit update that says your invite is in the mail, I'm so happy for you! (I've commented on a couple blogs about it already, but again, YAY!) My goal for the week is to get my medical kit mailed back to PC, though it completely depends on getting my last two labs back. Since I had them done on Friday and today is Columbus Day, I doubt any sort of headway has been made.

Also, I just paid $50 to reactivate my gym membership. Effffffff. I froze it whilst in South Carolina for the summer, and was apparently charged $8 a month to do so (which I wasn't told). I get the policy no problem, but in August my card expired, so when they tried to charge it, it declined. I was lazy when I got back and didn't go in September either, so that month was declined too. Except when they tried to charge September, they went back and tried to charge August again, too. Three declined charges = $30 in declination fees. I hate that place. I'm determined to get the most out of it before I leave though. I won't go into detail about the status of my thighs, but this will be a much needed endeavor.

Lastly, I would like to share this 2005 NYT article on Girl Crushes. I find it hilarious that this is a real thing that was covered by the NYT because my friend and I joke about this ALL THE TIME. I currently have two active girl crushes, one on Cuddy from House and one on a real person who I will not name because I don't want it to get awkward. Basically I just want to be these women, or be their best friends, or be just like them when I "grow up". Cuddy is gorgeous and she gets to sleep with House. The other woman is just plain awesome.

Friday, October 8, 2010

only the good die young

PCV Stephanie Chance passed away this week during her service. She was serving in Niger, though I'm not sure how she died. The official statement from PC is here. Reading her blog is surreal, knowing that things she was looking forward to are not to be, that the home she was setting up will not be lived in, and that her family had unknowingly said goodbye to her for the last time. It reminds me that nothing is a given, nothing is to be taken for granted, and anything can happen.

RIP Stephanie.

Fun and exciting things! (via email)

Sorry, that was a lie. I'm sitting at the lab (again) about to pee in my pants. I'm here because when I went to get my second pap test in as many weeks they told me my urinalysis had come back with a trace amount of occult blood. This doesn't mean I'm satanic or in a cult by the way, it means "hidden blood". I know because I googled it as soon as I got home. Whew. I was just a couple days out from my period so that's most likely the source. I'll have to pay for this myself since I'm sans insurance but I figured the OMS would make me get it redone anyway, so there you go.

Fun fact: when I got to the doctors office this morning, the parking lot smelled like rotten eggs and natural gas. Gross. When I got inside all the nurses were freaking out because the office also smelled like natural gas, they were on alert to be evacuated if it turned out to be something serious. All I could think was "if they can't do this freaking test over again because of a gas leak, someone is going to get a piece of my mind." Thankfully nothing happened and I got everything done and taken care of. My doctor said what probably happened was that someone at the lab spilled my sample and was like "Oh oops, um, not enough cells to test! Sorry..." Other than the UA and the pap, all my lab results are normal, and more importantly accounted for!

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 7, 2010

upper body strength? HA!

I took a dance class with two of my friends tonight, it was taught by another one of my friends, and required some pretty funky footwear. I'll let you guess what kind of dance class it was :) Super fun though, I'm going to be sore tomorrow. For some reason when I got home I had an inkling to put earrings in my second holes again. It's been years since I've worn more than one pair at a time, and the second hole in my right ear had mostly closed. I figured the most logical course of action would be to re pierce it, so I iced up my ear lobe, cleaned a needle with some tequila, and poked it right through. Voila! I now have a little pair of diamond studs in my second hole. Think nothing of the fact that my earlobes are now hot and throbbing, and that one of them smells like Cinqo de Mayo.

Here are the fun dancing shoes. The class may or may not involve a pole. I can't really say.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

tea, please

I'm self diagnosing myself with a sinus infection and post nasal drip, and trying to wrap my mind around how much it's going to suck if (when) one of these shows up when (if) I'm far far away from hot showers and microwaves and a comfy sofa to crash on all day long. The congestion and sore throat are unreal. I wonder if I could swing some sympathy antibiotics at the gyno this week while I'm there for my "oops sorry" pap smear...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So I mentioned in an edit that I'd called my doctor to double check on my labs, that they were in, waiting to be signed, that I was hoping my pap would come in sometime soon, yada yada yada. Well, I was subbing today and checked my phone at lunch time only to find a voicemail from my doctor's office. The message said to call them as soon as I could. This freaked me out a little seeing as how I'd already talked to them about my blood test results and they hadn't said anything about them being bad, and the only thing they hadn't gotten in was my pap. I was NOT about to be deferred for an abnormal one of those, no way no how. When I call back she lets me know that nothing is bad per se, just that they hadn't gotten enough cervical cells to actually complete the test. She apologized, saying they've had it happen before, but not in several years, that he's usually very thorough and gets a good sized sample, and that she felt really bad since she knows I'm waiting for the results to send to PC (at least she remembered, right?). Eff. Of course they can't get me in before Friday to redo the test, but the nurse promised it would be a ten minute appointment. I scheduled it for 8:30 am, but I also let her know that my insurance has since run out and I am worried about the cost of redoing it all. She assured me that I wouldn't be charged for the office visit, but that she wasn't sure about the lab part. Of all the times I've ever had this procedure done, the one time I'm waiting for the results... I really just have to laugh at this.

On another fun note, look what I just got: "This e-mail is a gentle reminder sent to you by the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services. As of October 5th, our office has not received your medical information," along with a handful of reminders of forms available online, required immunizations, and the fact that only 15% of applicants do it right the first time. Dammit, I will be in that 15%.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's still the fourth

So I have about 9 minutes left to wish Happy Birthday to my friend Danielle :) I lived with this girl for three years after college and she was one of the best roommates I've had. We just went out with a group of friends to drink some beer and watch football, and I got to tell everyone about Peace Corps. They were all over it, asking questions, telling me other people who were in it, how awesome it sounds. It made me so sure of my decision to do this, not that I'd doubted it before, but I guess it just reinforced how I'd already felt. I'm excited because Danielle is on a short list of people who have expressed an interest in coming to see me where ever I may end up (we'll see if it actually happens, she's notorious for playing around on Expedia, creating vacations for herself and then never buying the ticket...) and her boyfriend, Blake, with whom I'm also good friends, said that he'd be all about coming to visit, too. Maybe if they BOTH want to, it'll really happen :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

a few things before you go...

I've started and deleted three entries in the last three days. I'm not feeling particularly prose-y, it turns out, so a bulleted list may just have to suffice.
  • My health insurance ran out, and the next day I got sick. Figures.
  • I got a letter saying I'm eligible for COBRA but it's $363.28 a month. Yea, right.
  • I'm incredibly thankful for my monthly dinner dates with my friend Jess.
  • I love this weather, but I am sad that summer is over.
  • Go Gators
  • This blog has readers on all continents except Antarctica. Come on, research station boredom!
  • I feel a sense of camaraderie with other PC blog writers and I feel a little bit silly about this.
  • Labs, please hurry. Edit: called my doctors office today, my blood work is in but the doctor has to sign off on it. He's out of the office until Thursday at which point he'll sign and they should be mailed. Pap isn't in yet, but I'm hoping for a Wednesday arrival.
  • ... that may be it, I don't remember, I feel like crap :-/

Friday, October 1, 2010

Four months

Technically I have no idea how long I have left in the States, but that's part of the thrill, n'est pas? There is October, November, December, and January left to zip through until we stumble upon February, which is when I'm nominated to leave. Four is a crazy small number.

Another recipe: Rice pudding

3/4 uncooked white rice
2 cups milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
pat of butter
splash of vanilla

3/4 cup uncooked white rice, into a pan of 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups milk & sugar. Cook over medium for 15-20 minutes until thick and creamy. Stir lots.
Add last 1/2 cup milk, temper the egg and then stir it in ("temper" means to add a little of the hot mixture to the egg to bring the temperature up before adding it to the whole pot. This prevents the egg from scrambling once it hits the hot mixture)
Stir constantly for two minutes then remove from heat
Stir in butter and splash of vanilla
Serve warm or cold with a dash of cinnamon :)

Next picture is my cat. Damn amazing camera makes it hard to get that grainy look in high ISO... this is at 4000. (For reference, film speed of 800 is usually pretty grainy) I have always loved really grainy B&W pictures, of cats and other things. Does the cat part make me nuts?