Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ignite Your Light- Baby, You're a Firework

So I got back from Armenia. I went there for a weekend vacation! My friend, BPRSII, invited me to go. My mission was to get candy for our lovely Safety and Security Officer, but I couldn't find it anywhere! My opinion of Yerevan was that it was awesome! Of course, there were the Soviet-style buildings, but our hostel was awesome. It was filled with Americans, one Canadian, one Slovenian (who liked to take pictures), and one other guy (Hungarian?). The Americans were pretty much all different walks of the Georgian Ministry of Education's Teach and Learn in Georgia (TLG) Program.

note: the Geo. Ministry of Education's goal is to put a native speaker in every school in Georgia, starting off with 1000 volunteers and then going from there. It's sustainability for funding is questionable, but the aim of the program is decent, and the Americans I've met have been pretty cool folks!

One TLG'er in particular, I'll call Crime, has been such a blast to hang out with. We are working on a facebook friend's page together, but facebook doesn't seem to update these pages too regularly... Her and BPRSII have really broken me out of my shell. It's not that I'm a different person, but just that it's really good to find people that are amazing to hang out with. I haven't forgotten about Punishment, who had a scheisty Thanksgiving, for which I am sorry and will make it up to her. Also, I appreciate everyone else who has been sending packages and letters, providing support, visiting my site and/or just reading the ol' blog.

Through some facebook stalking, I discovered, a hilarious satire site on radical Christianity (at first I didn't know it was satire: thank you, Johnny-in-5-Years; AND I must say that Katy Perry's new(ish) video "Firework" is pretty awesome. Well done!

I taught my students the lyrics to Wham!'s "Last Christmas" along with the meanings to try and show Georgians that it is NOT a happy song! I went through this discussion many times last year and failed. I wasn't going to be had again this year. Well.... despite knowing the lyrics, the history, and even seeing the music video, my students are CONVINCED it is, in fact, a happy song....

I made Broccoli Casserole for Thanksgiving. Not gonna lie, before I made my first casserole I thought they were a kind of trashy, but after crumbling the last potato chip on top of that glorious glob of thanksgiving goodness, I'm a believer. It was delicious!

In other news, my kitchen runs on natural gas. It had been out for 3 days until this afternoon! I just made a huge bowl of pasta to celebrate.

Last night, to celebrate my day (kind of) off today, I watched "How to Train Your Dragon." It was a lovely Dreamworks film I'd recommend. Tonight I think I'll tackle "Ninja Assassin." In just a few minutes I'll be heading to some festivities for "World AIDS Day." Get out there! Get tested! Use a condom!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Photo 8- Pigs Wrapped in Blankets

Before (he was cold):

After (nice and warm!): 

Cold Harsh Reality and Water for One

It's a little nippy here at night. I'm writing to you prime time from Georgia. The days have been flying by. I can't say I'm not tired, but things are going well over all. I have been using the few pieces of gym equipment at my SM's youth center I'm also teaching at, which is helping to relieve stress and feel good. I can say without a doubt that compared to this time last year, I'm doing a thousand times better.

In my free time, I've been watching some really good anime's I got from another volunteer. (arigato gozaimas!) The bad thing about getting addicted to a tv show that you like a lot and have every episode of, is that you tend to want to watch every episode and burn through the series. This has led to some sleep-deprived nights for sure.

This past weekend, I was working with some other volunteers on a teacher training sponsored and organized by IREX. It was for teachers of the TEA program (Teaching Excellence and Achievement) aka Georgian teachers who went to America for a short period of time. It's always a great opportunity to work with motivated teachers. I also was able to submit my essays for the state department.

My goal before January is to finish the book I'm reading, so I can start reading some materials to prepare me for a possible interview.

Earlier today, my land lady came over, but I was sleeping. I wasn't going to answer the door, but then she called out. I open the door and see her and another group of people. They were from the water company to verify that I live alone. My town doesn't have running water and people don't pay for water or sewage. The flow of water is also something that isn't controlled. Sometimes I'll walk by and people leave the water running and it will overflow onto/down the street, just being wasted. The neighbors that live above me will leave their pump on, it flows into my apartment and because I don't have a place to collect it, just goes down the drain. It's such a waste. So the city is trying a new program to make people pay. There was a suspicious man who came a couple of months ago, threatening me if I didn't pay him an exorbitant amount of money. Note: he wasn't wearing or carrying anything official that showed he was from the water company. He had jeweled rings on his fingers and had long pinky nails. He said, "I'll turn off your water!" and "You'll be sorry in the end!" So I kicked him out of my apartment. Well, it turns out that he changed the reported number of people living in my apartment from 2 (but really only me) to 5 people. This meant I would be charged even more. The procedure in my town for changing the recorded number in the household has to be done with the water company. They have to come out, then 3 witnesses have to present their passports and sign for it. The only catch is that they don't announce when they are going to come. They came unannounced and expected me to find 3 other people to sign. No one was home, as there wasn't a plan.

Also, it should be noted these women from the water company were quite hostile. They were Georgian and didn't like having to deal with the likes of the minority population here. I said that I would go get one of my friends, and one lady said "She's Georgian, Right?" hoping not to speak with another Azeri. Unfortunately the Georgians I knew weren't home. The 2 women also asked me about where I work, etc. They talked to me in Russian, not Georgian. So then they asked how long I've lived in Georgia. I said for a year and a half. Then, they asked surprised, "And you don't know any Georgian!!?" with looks of disgust on their faces. Of course I know Georgian! I talked to them the rest of the time in Georgian. They thought I was working with another program here, had never heard of Peace Corps, but had made all these assumptions about me. I wish that racial conflict and nationalism in this country wasn't as bad as it is. I have learned the Georgian language and culture to impress other Georgians and because I want to learn it. I am living in Georgia, and I have many Georgian friends. It would be so much easier if I didn't continually get flack for incorrect assumptions. I don't say this as a hasty generalization, and I will say these occurrences are quite minimal compared to my positive experiences here, but they stand out so much more.

I have seen Georgian marshrutka drivers ask Azeri men and women to move to uncomfortable seats on marshrutkas to make room for other Georgians. I have seen the drivers of public transportation ignore Azeris requests to stop the bus or marshrutka even if they ask in Georgian language. I have heard so many people say cruel things about Azeris: they smell, they're lazy, they're stupid, they're only good for cheap labor, etc. They call them Tatars and say that there is nothing wrong with it. Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group that inhabit Eastern Europe and across Asia. Most people aren't educated to know what the actual ethnicity is. There are only 30,000 Tatars living in Azerbaijan (population of 9 million) and only 3,500 in Georgia (Azeri population estimated around 286,000). You can't say they are all Tatars. It's a misunderstanding of cultures, and it's offensive. Would I say that anyone who is East Asian is Chinese? No. This is another common misunderstanding. I realize that I'm being sensitive about this issue, but no group of people likes to be marginalized. Ignorance and racism are huge global problems, but I feel like such a small voice in saying that it's wrong to say something bad about another group or misname them, whereas in the United States, being so culturally diverse, other people would share your opinion. It's really difficult for me to see this. Georgia's motto is "Strength in Unity." What is the implication there?

Of course, there are other Georgians who mostly live in Tbilisi or have left the country before that will agree with me that this is a problem. I don't discount that, but unfortunately this group does not represent the majority of the people I encounter. I realize that this small group of amazing people represent seeds of hope all around the country. Nela nela, Georgia! I still believe change is possible.

So now, after terribly inconveniencing the representatives from the water company, I am registered as one person in this apartment.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is 20/20

I know I have so many other things I should be doing, but I decided to give you a bit of substance.

Weird/Bad habits I've picked up in Georgia:
1. Unbuttoning a button on my shirt and just leaving it there.
2. Sleeping in full outfits/coats (it's cold ya'll)
3. Locking myself in at night (I have metal bars on my door)
4. Swearing. I'm not really as angry as I sound sometimes.
5. Rarely showering (there's not running water in my town).
6. Enjoying being alone. It's all about me.
7. Along with 6, avoiding people walking across town. Never before have a ipod and sunglasses come in more handy.
8. Not answering the door when someone comes knocking. It's probably a bill collector or someone wanting to cause drama. (I pay my bills) Call me!
9. Obsessively checking websites. I mean, maybe I got an email 2 seconds ago? Can't hurt to refresh right?
10. I ignore people when they shout at me on the street. "Hey you! Hey! Foreigner!"
11. I cross 4-lane streets with traffic running full speed on the daily. Frogger FTW.
12. Scowling. It keeps you in control of your social interactions.
13. Wearing slippers inside the house. This is gonna be a hard one to break, but I don't want to catch cold!
14. Wearing a scarf when my throat hurts. I've never done this before Georgia.
15. Analyzing the insect population in my house and the spider-fly-cockroach ratio before I kill them. It's a delicate balance.
16. Putting together hideous color and style combinations for outfits. You have to wear what's clean and you only have 5 outfits, so you gotta keep it interesting.
17. Using a chair seat regularly as a table. When in short supply, make it work!
18. Hoarding plastic bags and usually carrying 1-2 on you at all times. You never know when you might need them/run out!
19. Getting legitimately upset when I see a student text messaging in class. What's the big deal anyways?14-year olds have lives too...
20. Skype. It's great in small doses... but don't overdo it.

If you have done a majority to all of these things you too are assimilated! Congratulations! I realize that if you've never met me, you're picturing this bristling hermit. PS- we got the results back to our language test.

When I came to Georgia 1.5 years ago:
Georgian- Nothin
Russian- Intermediate-Mid

Georgian- Advanced-Low (I do talk!)
Russian- Intermediate-High

I bought a wool-cashmere coat at the Bazaar I'm loving. I am finishing up my essays for State Department (I passed the Foreign Service Exam!!) My project at my SM's youth center is going well. One of my students asked, "They say love is a game. What do you think?" I responded that in the beginning love is a game, but later it isn't any more. From what I've heard, the game goes away when you get older. My students at the center are awesome. It's great to teach kids that actually want to learn.

I have some good students at school of course, but there are students that you put yourself out there for them, and they shut you down or make you feel small. Generally my reaction is like, "...uhh, ummm, yeah!!! Just kidding! I was totally just kidding! ha...ha.??"

Another volunteer I have yet to mention, but I will call him the Brown Recluse, told his personal philosophy on hanging out with other Americans out of your site: It's just a false sense of happiness. "Once you go back to your site, the happiness goes away. In order to stop yourself from feeling that emptiness, you should just stay put." There were definitely some eyebrow raises, shrugs and ho-humms, but it's food for thought.

Another generalized realization I've come to is that many Georgians (who have not travelled outside of their city or country) have a really difficult time making friends. Everyone who is their friend, they have known since they were in the womb. When someone new comes along (such as my handsome self), they don't know how to function. It is my opinion that some Georgians will imagine that you are a member of their family, so that the complexities of processing the stages of friendship are simplified and you are elevated to top status, however, I believe that without that strong foundation, the friendship is a false one, and I'm often left in superficiality. It's something I've been pondering about for a while. Living all over the US, I have been able to make friends in almost any setting. Here, however, few Georgians under the conditions previously stated have such a skill. I can say I have really great friendships with Georgians who have travelled around, but they mostly live in Tbilisi, and I can't see them on a daily basis, as much as I'd like to. Food for thought....

Back to you, Tom.

Photo 6- French Silk

With new pie pan comes pie... to the MAX! This definitely does not look as delicious as it tasted. Recipe to come in the soon expected revision of the Peace Corps Georgia Cookbook: Simple Satchmeli.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photo 5- Cinnamon Buns

Photo 4- Cotton Candy Sky

The Winter Blues

The winter slowly grabs hold of the little town in Georgia, chilling its denizens on the streets. The need for a refrigerator becomes practically and temporarily obsolete. The days grow shorter as weariness takes its toll. Men who themselves can’t put food on the table arm themselves to take out the starving dogs in the night. The leaves on the trees begin to change colors and fall below to the women sweeping the streets, leaving patterns swept in the dust. Some trees far away are butchered to form the pile of now decaying wood in the school yard, wet with sap and mildewing from the last rain. The grey sky obscures the mountains in the distance, peeking through the old Soviet buildings. A loaf of bread goes stale as it lies on the paint-chipped window sill with mold growing underneath from moisture and poor construction. Spiders claim space around the apartment, permanently fixing themselves in positions like spindly decorations as they too die from lack of sustenance. The fumes from cheap cigarettes waft in through the cracks in the window, delicately clinging to the walls, adding an extra layer of grunge. Near the door rest one pair of mud-spackled shoes, caked with exhaustion from a long, yet unfruitful trek through the open-air market.  The woman in the next room shuts the aging curtains, blocking out the street views and light distorted through the layer of dusty glass, to lie down in her bed, close her eyes, and long for an end.

The floor of the room is surrounded by iridescent faint blue walls. The clay brown planks of slightly marred wood breathe by means of open cracks every few inches. On the floor in the middle of the room stand two aging four-legged chairs, each covered in identical faded sepia floral prints, ripping slightly away from the bottom of the seat. One chair stands sturdily behind the other. All of its facets and grooves remain practical and intact. Its partner is positioned parallel in the foreground at the same unbalanced angle against the floorboards. They are both nestled together by a blanket wrapped around them, damp from a rinse in the murky water inside the wash basin. On the curtain rod hangs a man’s dress shirt, peeking jealousy in the chairs’ direction. On the balcony, a wind chime sings with delight, unaware. Lonely house slippers line the darkened hallway, next to the tired boots, with no hope of company in sight. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Photo 3- My Happy Baby

This orange delight is a part of the Casa de Jeferson's clothes-that-fell-onto-my-balcony fall collection. The model sporting it shows the baby tee's true versatility. The possibilities are endless. Don't let your child go around dressed in rags. Here at Casa de Jeferson we take fashion seriously!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Flavour...with a Dash of Cinnamon Magic

You’ve been waiting for it! That’s right folks: this would be what I’d like to call a real post (not some of that jibber jabber creative writing shtuff). Since it’s been about a month since I gave you insight into the real life of Jefferson, I’ll begin with the first day of school.

The first day of school was exactly how it went down last year, but more low-key. The music teacher, who I like to think of as a Diva, sang her songs; there were some mini-speeches I didn’t have to take part in; and I definitely felt like the outsider in the whole fandangle. I had one teacher tell me it was about time I started to learn Georgian. It was good to be back to school!

I had my dental check-up and annual medical review. I’m definitely not in the pristine conditions I was when I got to Georgia, but I’ve been able to adapt. I love the doctors and the dentist we had. She was seriously better than any dentist I’ve been to in the US = slam dunk for Georgia.

Our second full week of school we had FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) Program testing in our school. There wasn’t as great of a show as the previous year, but the FLEX office and peeps did everything in their control to get the word out! We also got a chance to experience the new Turkish restaurant in my town. It’s pretty good, and they deliver!

I had a visit from Punishment, Sidney and Friend this past weekend! We ate hamburgesas for lunch and chili with dinner, riddled with skittles, Lorna doones, Georgian shop pastries, and homemade chocolate chip cookies between it all.

In my lessons I’ve been heavily using the equipment we got with the grant. I’ve been using it to teach American culture and reinforce the skills from my computer training, such as Power Point vocabulary presentations and listening activities with fill-in-the-blank lyrics. I recently used Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” I just got an idea to contrast it with Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” and maybe have them write a contrast essay…. Hmmmm. We’ll see! They are my advanced 12th graders. My other 12th graders don’t really know English, so I’m excited to see them make progress!

I’ve had several parents approach me wondering why I don’t prepare their students. They use prepare in the context of me privately tutoring their children, which is highly advised against in PC Georgia. There is a dependence mentality (and partial reality) that children cannot learn unless they have a slew of tutors to teach them after school. I think it’s really sad that this mentality persists, and I wish to change it. Therefore, I tell these parents I have several free opportunities their children can prepare and no one seems to take advantage of them. I offer 1 hour of homework help and 2 hours of English club weekly after school, in addition to their class work they receive. Students don’t do much in or outside class, of course with their being some exceptional students. Overall, my teaching situation this year is looking to be a promising one.

One of the books had the word for AIDS in Georgian, so I took that opportunity to expound upon the theme and do a lesson on HIV/AIDS awareness. It turns out there was recently a public service announcement aired on Georgian TV to raise this issue. Many of my students were open the discussion, which was surprising. I embarrassed myself by accidentally using the slang word for condom, which is often used as an insult in place of the equivalent for moron. Good laughs were had by all!

It’s officially getting colder, and as the heat goes down outside, I’m trying to stay warm with activities. I’m going to be designing a test for a class I’ll be teaching at SM’s Youth Center that will follow with 3-6 extra hours of English teaching per week. I’ve got my usual activities and a few other project ideas in mind. ANNNND I managed to take the Foreign Service Exam!

I have read and heard from many folks you should always follow your gut instinct. I didn’t listen… again. Gahh! I changed a lot of my answers on the test to incorrect ones after some extensive Wikipedia searching recently… I find out in the following weeks whether I’ll move on to the next stage. I don’t think I did terrible, but I had hoped to have done better! I’ll keep you updated.

Spiders, bats, and toilet toiling! Halloween is on its way, and I haven’t even given thought to my costume! Auf Weidersehen mein giblets! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Call for Requests of the Photo Kind

Dear Readers,

A real, non-creative update is soon to come, however, I would like to ask for your requests for photos that I can upload. You can be simple,real and/or outrageous in your requests, and I will try my best to fulfill them all. You can send as many ideas as you can think of. I will/may be interpretive in the fulfillment, but will try to get them all. Requests can be commented here, sent through facebook, or emailed to As time carries on, I hope for this to develop. Ideas are always welcome!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Tea

According to Balti culture, as expressed in Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin’s famous book “Three Cups of Tea,” tea is a catalyst to transform a stranger into a member of your family. From a different cultural perspective, this transformation occurs by means of an alternate medium.

 In Georgia, family is united and born from times of unique circumstances, usually over an abundant meal and wine. Tradition and Religion create part of the foundation this culture was built upon. Celebrations of life and mourning of those lost intertwine with these values through the creation and consumption of wine. To an outsider or passerby, wine may seem excessive or unnecessary, however, approximately 9 glasses of wine provide the opportunity to connect friends to other friends, old and new; to family; to peace and the wealth of nations; to the recognition of women, of men, of harvest, of hospitality; to common beliefs and religion; to memories and the past; to children; to our future and to hope. These symbols and spoken words go much deeper than drinking tea to become family in this culture, and the ties you develop can last a lifetime. In my experience thus far, tea in Georgia, and arguably in life, serves a different purpose.

After recently acquiring a French press, I can safely say that it holds 4-5 cups of tea. Sipping tea throughout an evening home alone is quite an experience. When freshly brewed (at optimum temperature), the tea is scorching hot. The experience is indiscernible as your sense of touch is overwhelmed by the white, hot ceramic tea cup teeming with fresh flavors. The golden brim beginning to separate from age perfectly accompanies the dainty dark red design wrapping around the side. A swift brush underneath the cup reveals a hastily scratched Chinese symbol into the wet clay indicating where or by whom the cup was made.

As the tea in your cup slowly cools and readies for consumption, the tea in the carafe continues to steep, darkening as time draws on. You might fall to distractions of obligation and taking brief leaves of absence returning to find a bitter brew. The strength may leave you dissatisfied with your decision to take part in this experience, but if you believe in not being wasteful, you keep drinking. Stronger and stronger the tea becomes, you have already begun to know it well. Tapping out the last couple of dynamic drops, you are left wanting more.

Some may go back for more, may trade in their carafe for a larger one, and/or may decide to purchase a larger cup. A number of people will make their tea with the wrong leaves or will not give it a fair chance, tossing out a batch of unknown outcomes, yet still learning something about their selves.  No matter what blend or brand you choose, a nice hot beverage warms the soul. In the moments of silence between the ebb and flow of warmth against your lips can come reflection and balance, as wisps of steam gently rise from the depths of your cup to lazily linger along the surface.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fast Walkin in the Rain

Walking in the city during a rain shower can be one of the most liberating experiences. As you take in a breath of nature in the concrete jungle, you look around to notice the people bustling down the sidewalks. There’s one woman up ahead trying to balance the exposed papers in her hand as they become translucent from water droplets and the cheap umbrella that’s too small to cover her tiny frame. The droplets also cling to the tips of her abundant espresso frizz as tiny jewels bestowed to her by the skies. Her olive complexion compliments her temporary gems, and her frantically elegant brown eyes catch yours with a momentary deep focus as she walks by. Your gaze snaps back to the chaos in front of you.

Silver and navy cars speed by tiny pools of water collecting on the road’s surface. Swirls of oil and eroded soil combine to create cloudy creations in the puddles that the wind enjoys to gently ebb upon, occasionally being reset by a passing car. The view around presents a brilliant contrast between the luscious green leaves and the cream-colored concrete structures lining the street. A sense of calm washes over you as you soak in the ambience that cleanses you of worry and woe.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Leaf – Turned Over

The great trip home has been accomplished. I am now sitting in my bedroom in the morning’s twilight hours waiting to greet the sun with my new roomie. He’s a really great guy. I’ll call him Wings to protect his identity. He’s really tiny, with dark leathery skin. He’s a little hairy, but quiet for most of the day. He’s been keeping me up that past couple nights with his little sounds he makes. He’s a homebody like myself, so we should get along well together.

The flight home was pretty rough. I can’t say I’ve ever been that irritable. I had a wonderful brunch at Cracker Barrel with some close friends. My friend bestowed a “silly band” upon me. Apparently, it’s a craze I missed while being in Georgia. Anyways, we were talking over brunch about screaming children on flights. I was surprised I couldn’t say I had really experienced the woes of screaming children during a flying experience… until now. It all started in London – Heathrow. I didn’t have the opportunity to get out of Terminal 1 for my six and a half hour layover there, so I had to occupy myself. I was fascinated by all the authentic English accents around me. Then, I transitioned to people watching with everyone who walked by. There were a couple of people who sat near me that were also clearly alone. I wanted to go up to them and ask them if they wanted to exchange some currency and go to a café. Sadly, I never quite built up the courage to do so.

Eventually, all the people watching and lack of sleep from Tampa kicked in. I close my eyes, leaning on my carry-on with my backpack tucked between my ankles and fall asleep. Screaming twins 1 and 2 start the ambience. I open my eyes and a pair of parents across the way are attempting to gain control over the two. Fortunately, they didn’t stay there too long. With my eyes alternating alert, they close again. A mom with two kids, one older, one younger, sit right behind me. The younger child begins to scream as though he’s being tortured. He keeps  screaming and screaming. Not wanting him to get the best of me, I try to keep sleeping. Then before I know it, he comes to the other side and stands right in front of me and screams harder than he had screamed thus far. I’m really irritated, so I get up to relocate and notice the mom is trying to sleep and is ignoring her children. The lack of attention is what prompted this whole fiasco. As a single parent, I think I just wouldn’t fly internationally unless I had a full supply of 5-hour energy, redbull, and caffeine pills.

Once my flight’s gate information pops up on the display, I trundle across the terminal to greet a full room of Georgians and a few Azeris and Internationals. It turns out to get to Tbilisi from London, we were connecting in Baku. Baku is totally on the way, so I don’t mind at all… It’s not like it would put us an additional 2 hours out of the way. So they start to board and I feel like I’m already back in Georgia. There was no line. Then, on flights you are supposed to put your carry-on in the overhead bin and your personal item under the seat. Everyone proceeds to squeeze and cram their over-sized carry-on’s of various shapes into the bins. As the flight is in progress – seat belts come off and we are birja-ing in the aisles. Screaming baby behind me starts. The mom was trying to force the toddler to stop by holding her hand over the kid’s mouth, which only encouraged him. In the moments of calm with the child, he would scream a poorly constructed ABC song… AAA-BBEEEEEE- CEEEEE- DEEEEE- UHH-LAAA – LAAA- LAAA- EXXX- Y- ZEEE- ABC’s!!!! again, and again, annnd you get the point. There were several Georgians who pretended not to understand English with the flight attendants, and then made fun of her in Georgian. Bad parenting, poor sleep quality, and just plain rudeness. Welcome back to Georgia!!

In all honesty, I was happy to get back. I’d also like to add a disclaimer that this experience doesn’t represent all of Georgia, just a few bad experiences that have turned into some pet peeves of mine and not limited to just Georgia.

So I get in a taxi to go to my friends’ house for the night. I negotiated 20 lari for the fare. During the drive, the driver asks me if I’m a spy. No, I’m a teacher… then he begins to talk about how hard the economy is in Georgia, as though I didn’t know having been there a year. Then he talks about how expensive gas is, and how high it must’ve gone since I left Georgia… Ok, buddy I see where this is going. I have him drop me off a little early so as not to get charged more. At the point he dropped me off, he got angry at the 20 lari, I gave him 5 more, and lugged my 90 pounds of luggage the rest of the way, up the hill to my friends’ house. Georgians are talking about how funny I look as I walk by but don’t offer to help.

I spent a really good time at my friends’ house. I got to meet to pretty cool PCVs from Azerbaijan to boot. It’s always good to exchange experiences. We went to a Georgian polyphonic singing practice, where I learned 2 Georgian polyphonic songs. I’m a Bani singer (or bass). It’s the easiest part as well. I love singing and loved these two songs. One was in Megrelian (a much smaller regional language in Georgia) and the other was in Georgian. Then, I get across town very easily thanks to the help of several Georgians to the marshrutka station. On the marsh back to site, I start to lose feeling in the roof of my mouth. Then my face starts to go numb, followed by my arms. This continues until I get off near my apartment. I thank the driver in Georgian, and realized I was slurring and my hearing had been affected. It turns out I had a heat stroke. SO, then I go up and rest the remainder of the day, drinking lots of water per Dr. Marina. I’m fine now, so don’t worry, it must’ve been all the strenuousness of the trip.

It turns out my landlord bought and installed a new couch/bed in my room, washed my linens, and organized everything. She is such a sweet lady! I got to hang out with my site mate that night. And since coming back, I’ve watched (in this order) Prince of Egypt, Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I love watching feel good Disney and fantasy movies! I’m feeling ready to knock out these last 10 months and school starts soon. I have a lot of good projects planned. You are all welcome to come stay with me here at my site. It’s not the best conditions, but good company is guaranteed. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Little Rolling Stone Hopes to Roll Back to Jo-Ja

Since last we spoke, a lot has happened!

In the beginning, I spent some very much needed quality time with two of the most important people in my life: Matt and Christine. We got to hang out, go out to eat, and a few highlights were going to the Bok Tower Botanical Gardens in Lake Wales and eating a Dunkin Donuts Double Down. Note: originally it was supposed to be a Krispy Kreme Double Down, but due to lack of availability of KK, we used an extra DD. This is where you take a glazed donut, cut it in half and use it as a bun with the KFC Double Down.. It's a doozy, but very delicioso.

The botanical gardens were so cool, because the biggest feature is a tower that would be comparable to Sauron's summer tower. Check it out:

Also, I picked up a new bad habit: Second Life. If you are unfamiliar, it is a virtual world where you literally can create a second life for yourself. You apply for jobs (if you want to work), develop skills, make friends (possibly even a boyfriend/girlfriend), build a house, etc. I think most people just use it as a 3D chat option. Let me know if any of you all get this, I'll add you to my friends. It's free to use, and as long as you don't have a dial-up connection, you can probably play too. 

I've gone out to dinner with friends, traveled around town, visited my grandma, picked up presents for all my sugar babies back in Georgia! (Hopefully I didn't forget any!) 

My grandma has become quite the character since moving into her assisted living facility. She thrives on the social interaction and activities they put together. She was a cheerleader in high school (popular), and now she is able to experience that again. All the denizens of the facility love her clothes the best and are jealous of her, which she also loves. She has her heart set on a man there, and resources to get the DL on his activities. I got her set up on skype yesterday, but I'm not sure if she's quite computer savvy enough at this point to communicate with me just yet.

As mentioned, I packed like a crazy person before my transatlantic flight, and I am still kicking myself for forgetting my camera! Luckily my friend Christine let me borrow hers while she was in town, and she uploaded all the pics on facebook = w00t!

As far as a health update, it has been one huge roller coaster. I've been trying to keep updates simple and to a minimum, so as not to cause you, dear reader, any undue stress. I had a couple of relapses from some lung problems they couldn't diagnose. My health coordinator with Peace Corps has mentioned me possibly being medically separated, my doctor has suspected I had some rare lung disorder I picked up in Georgia, I've been feeling great, and not so great (even lost a full week of consciousness thanks to codeine cough syrup), but overall, my health is improving. I got released from the doctor this past Friday, and I'm waiting to hear from my health coordinator. I'm sad and glad that my vacation days were not spent as much vacationing as they were healing from all this, but I am glad that as of yet, I'm not being medically separated (and would have, had I not used the vacation days).

In my resting time, I was able to reconnect with the internet and max, unlimited bandwidth to download a good amount of movies. I was able to watch seasons 2 and 3 of True Blood!! Awesome series. There was also an article and raucous about the new cover of Rolling Stone being a little too controversial. Parents were calling for it to be deemed a mature magazine cover. Take a look:

Personally, I think it's a hottt cover. Ok, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking it's vulgar and inappropriate. Maybe it shouldn't be next Country Living, but it's not blood to my knowledge. I'm pretty sure it's chocolate syrup. If you haven't watched True Blood, you should check it out. It's a vampire show on HBO.

I've collected a lot of things to bring back, but I think I am pretty sure I am pushing the weight limit! We'll see how that goes. I just want to go back and finish my service. Things I still need to do: go to Harry Potter World at Universal- Orlando!!! 

I think that's about all you need to know to get by until the next post. Love you all! Thank you to everyone who has expressed/provided support through all of this. It really means a lot. <-- Cheesy to the max, but it's true. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Sunny Side of the Street

So, I'm now on a much-needed vacation. About a week has gone by since I left Georgia, and while I miss parts and people, it feels good to be able to relax. I had a bout of illness which landed me in the hospital, but I am out, feeling a ton better. I go in for my check-up tomorrow morning!

I hope to return to Georgia rejuvenated and ready to complete year 2! OMS-Peace Corps (Office of Medical Services) in Washington expressed some concerns about me going back to the same living conditions with the burning trash, exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke of the "big" city... I feel like that could be foreshadowing of some future drama, but it was necessary to tell them about my downturn in health so I could turn it around. My coordinator with OMS is so amazing. I was reminded of a cultural element of Japanese culture where you send gifts to those that help you. It's a great way to show appreciation to those who don't necessarily play a central role in your life but make it easier.

I've been able to spend some time with some of my favorite people so far, which has been good. Hopefully, this week goes better! I can say there are good people, good foods, and good times ahead.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Bug's Life

So the cough from all the environmental things feels like it may be getting itself under control. Since I've been told I'm pretty good in the field of talking about nothing, I have a story for you.

The past couple of nights, there have been bugs crawling around on the floor of my bathroom (as if the overpopulation of spiders wasn't enough). I guess you have to figure that something needs to support these spiders if they are going to stay alive. I made the discovery about the unknown bugs when I turned on the light, and there were like 15-20 of them wriggling around on the floor. I freak out, they freak out, and they scatter while I'm attempting to kill them. I never said I was merciful to unknown house guests. This house is one in Georgia that doesn't exude hospitality. So, I think I'm done killing them. They behave like cockroaches, but kill as easily as silverfish. Maybe it's like a hybrid mutation?

So, I notice 2 huge spiders on either end of the bathroom, perched near the floor. I figure I'd let them stay there, because two spiders are better than 20 little unknown bugs. I start brushing my teeth but am careful not to disturb the spiders, as I already had enough spider bites on my legs after my last crusade to take back my apartment (While I had been away in the last month, spiders claimed my apartment. Needless to say, I sustained some injuries.). So I'm watching these two predators, and suddenly along trundles in my periphery of vision a huge daddy/momma big-ass (perdone mon Français) jumbo-nasty unknown bug (at least 50 times bigger than the little ones). I quickly squash this BAMF and leave its corpse there to rot (or until I could collect enough courage to scoop it up with a paper towel).

Yesterday morning, the bug carcass remained alone on my bathroom floor and the 2 spiders had taken up shop for the night. Then, this morning I wake up thinking, it's about time I cleaned up this murder scene, but only the smoosh-lines of the bug remained. Some creature that lives in my bathroom claimed it for a meal. The question is, was it a spider? or was it a scavenger? Maybe it was the little unknown (possibly cannibalistic) bugs. I'll keep you updated on the hour.

**This has been a Georgian reality check brought to you by

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cigarettes and Burning Trash

OOOOK. This is going to be a mini-rant, and then I'll be done. So I have a terrible cough. A cough that has kept me from sleeping well the last 2 nights. I've been having trouble breathing because they have not stopped burning trash or smoking cigarettes! It doesn't matter what's in the trash, they burn it anyway. Almost all Georgian men (and a lot of women) smoke, so that's unavoidable. What's the result? A horrible cough and poor quality of sleep.

I can't have my windows and doors closed because I don't have air conditioning, and we don't get enough living allowance to keep a fan running all summer. So, I leave my doors open, and in comes the smoke. I'm sick of it already. I'm really glad I'm going to America to get a break from the heat and smoke you can't escape from.

Bimonthly :-\ Update

All-time highs in temperatures across the globe result in all-time lows in blog posts here on!

So, after the summer camp from hell, I went to help out for round two of Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) with American Councils. There was a PDO intermission when we were able to see Hillary Clinton in the flesh! She was running on Georgian village time (even slower than Georgian time), approximately 2.5 hours late. It was a good time though! I got to meet a former PC volunteer and an embassy intern! At the end, I got to bump uglies shake hands with Madame Secretary, who I affectionately refer to as Hillary (we are like bff's). She asked me how I was and before I could answer, a woman of asian decent jumped between us for a picture, scared Hillary and secret service, and Hillary bustled on! I can only hope that next year will bear more satisfying experiences with the Secretary of State. I still need to tell her that we have the same birthday!

Then, post-PDO I finally was able to purchase a refrigerator! It's beautiful and in my kitchen right now, full of food I need to eat before I LEAVE TO AMEREEKA! That's right, I will be on a luxurious summer holiday in the sunshine state, kickin it back with my mom and friends for three weeks. My hope is that I will come back to Georgian in August renewed for the final stretch of the PC Experience.

Since the refrigerator purchase, I have made sweet tea, ice water, hummus, pita, brownies with caramel on top, grilled cheese, okroshka (Russian summer soup), among other various sundries.

Unfortunately, my blog has not been the only part of my life that has suffered. I also have had no energy for my Russian lessons. The truth is, I'm burnt out and need a vacation. Luckily, my hard drive is loaded up with movies to watch in the down time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Hello folks! Have I got a vacation idea for you! It’s called: Summer Camp with a private school! You will spend 10 days and 9 fabulous nights in a run-down camp site in the middle of nowhere! Your accommodations include sleeping on a thin mattress pad atop of not one, not two, but twelve glorious wooden bed slats! The best sleep you’ve ever imagined wouldn’t be complete without the decomposing, rock-like pillow. Your meals are fully included! You couldn’t be a full-fledged camper without malnutrition. Meals include: bread, margarine, and honey at every meal! You can expect a few side orders of vegetable borsch, room-temperature fried fish, and cucumber-tomato salad! No matter how much you eat, it will be difficult to break 2000 calories a day! Sounds enticing I know, but wait! There’s more!
This camp of a life-time wouldn’t be complete without a monster helping of disorganization! You will be teaching English classes to 106 5th-7th grade students for 2 hours a day! Students will not want to attend classes and will complain, but you can be guaranteed the camp supervisor will be dissatisfied with whatever lesson you planned!
Around day 6 you can be guaranteed to catch a bout of a burning throat, fever, common cold, virus, cough, or all of the above! Then on day 7, I hope you’ll be able to get some rest because you’ll be going on an excursion in 90 degree weather for several hours! All of our excursion options include a semi-grueling hike if you can fight to get a spot on one of our non-air-conditioned vans. Camp staff like to make it as difficult as possible to make anything work out, as you’ll probably appreciate the struggle you had to go through to get to the end. When you need to leave on day 10, you’ll be lucky if you can get anyone to drive you the 45-50 minute walk to the road to get back home! Sure you’ll be exhausted, but who could turn down this experience!?
A few final notes about this hypothetical experience: the kids are really smart, talented, slightly misbehaved but they’ll love you, the 7th graders will be your favorites, a few of the teachers are nice, the people you go with are great company, but the power may go off every day and the management staff of this school are the most disrespectful, inconsiderate, greedy, irresponsible people you have worked with in your PC experience and continue to amaze you in all negative regards.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Shadows of Peace Corps Past and Present

Hey there boo boo! I think I had a picnic basket!

Yes folks, I had several picnics, but before I get to that story, allow me to recant tales of a volunteer lost at sea.

Let's start off with today and I will blend the present into the past.

So right now I'm eating the pretzels I bought earlier today. I just ate a pretzel that had one of the pieces still in it. I never realized that they punch out the holes in the pretzels. Where do all of these pieces go? It's one of the things, like donuts that we can enjoy even if there is something missing from it. I know I could probably google it, and probably will, to find out where they go, but I kind of like living in mystery. One of my recent personal philosophies is finding joy in imperfection. I may have mentioned this before, but I have observed children, tweens, and adults in this country destroying things. But why? Do they find joy in it? But of course, that doesn't give everyone the right destroy anything, just because it's there. I think you should value things that are whole, but the A-type American mentality already values perfection and completeness. But what about incompleteness, imperfection, and making mistakes (like my lack of agreeing parallelism just there)? There should be value found in everything. So what if your counterpart is late? doesn't want to come to class? So what if you make mistakes while speaking? All of these imperfections can of course strive for perfection, but you should appreciate the relative progress and imperfection of things all the way down to spilling coffee on yourself or a cockroach in your kitchen. Because of this, it's difficult for me to accept all of the time and doesn't negate the stress situations can create. For example: the pretzels I bought. One could say a majority of things in stores here for packaged goods are already expired. That beer you're drinking? Yep, it went bad in 2008. Did you pay full price? Will you check the label next time? Yep.

I haven't had electricity for the past couple of days. Right now, my landlord is replacing the electric switch box. There is a live, exposed wire behind the little plastic case in my foyer, I was told not to open. Do I have electricity? Yes. I am happy.

I found a store that carries the extra large version of candy bars for 20 tetri (cents) cheaper than the cheapest store. I'm glad about this. Dr. Marina called this very day to tell me that my town is not a malaria region! Ergo, I don't have to take malaria medicine!

So at the beginning of the school year, I had rocks thrown at me for not answering to a herd of catcalling hoodlums... and now in one week I've had 2 instances of being yelled to by complete strangers. They yell, "HEY! AMERICAN! AMERICAN! HEY! PSSST! AMERICAN!" I'll turn and wave to not get enemies, they'll all bust out laughing and I wait for another day.

Earlier, when I had bought the pretzels and candy bar with ice cold water to sit on a bench before my Russian lesson, the bench I usually sit on to snack was near a car of men hanging out. They all stare at me and laugh, point, talk loudly about me in Russian or Georgian, because I don't understand, and continue to stare. The small town folk in Georgia are not at all subtle about staring. Today, I just wasn't in the mood for it. But, I'm glad I could have that experience.

This weekend was really nice, because I got to spend it with 5-hairs. We hung out, had some 1on1 friend time (my fav!) and I got to meet 5-hairs' host family. They are nice. I like speaking Georgian with Georgians that are sympathetic to foreigners speaking their language. Today I was complimented by a lot of the teachers at my school for my ability to say a couple words. I know when I speak, I sound like a child and make a lot of mistakes, but what do you expect only studying it for 1 year? For some Georgians when you speak, you're a god. Some Georgians don't care one way or the other, and the rest will be more than happy to tell you it's not enough for them. This host family loved speaking with me. :)

Then, last week was the last week of school. I finished my computer lessons today, wrote their final exam, and verified all of their quizzes they had done from the previous module. Last week was so scattered. No children came. Teachers were scrambling to put their grade books into order. And it was HOTTT. I bought a fan. It's a glorious thing when there's not air conditioning. It got up to around 93-94 degrees F, a little taste of what the rest of the summer might be like. It is cool now, with a light breeze. I talked with my neighbor last night, and she agreed to help me redo the balcony with tile.

A couple weekends ago, my shadows came to watch how I live for 3-4 days. I got to know them better, as they were practically strangers. Annnd I have been trying to think of blog nicknames for them ever since. I thought of one, but forgot it, and the other I couldn't think of one. I need time. They are still new, you know! We had a good time. The first night the site mate, his shadow, and me and my shadows all dined together. It was fun! The next night, my friend, Giorgi, and me and my shadows dined together. It was also very fun! Then we went on an excursion with my school for an overnight trip that Saturday.

At first, it was amazing. We were on an air conditioned bus, we had a picnic in the outdoors, and then the real fun began. We went to a church to site see. I sat on a rock which must have had some bugs on it, because I got bit up! After this we went to a park and road the ferris wheel (which I really truly enjoyed). It was a momentary escape. Then the 3 of us, some teachers from our school and the 35 or so other teenagers found a 3 bedroom house to stay the night. There we ate some leftovers from lunch and the teeny boppers popped bottles and wine was flowing! It flowed all night and not many slept. The teachers all slept in one room with my shadows. One of my shadows got sick and was up all night. I was the only person of age who slept with the teenagers. They told me not to fall asleep or they would do something bad to me. They were nice and let me have one of the beds, but they took the bedding off. So I directly slept laid awake waiting for something bad to happen on a metal frame. The students crept in giggling all night armed with toothpaste and shaving cream. It would've been a real hoot if they could cover the American English teacher from head-to-toe in something without him knowing. Knowing this, I was ready. They managed to get a dollop of toothpaste on my ankle before I woke up to tell them to please stop and get out. They would retreat. It was like controlling a tide of disorder, they ebbed and flowed all night, with my words and lack thereof pushing and pulling them away.

The next day, discovering my shadow's illness, we determined they should go back to site early to be more comfortable. I alone remained with the crowd. We toured along from church to church. One of the students bought me a souvenir model of a church that we took a picture at for me to remember. I have it now in my room, and I can't say I'll ever forget their kindness. Another student bought a stick with cherries tied around it with string. It was very beautiful and delicious. We sat on a bench, talked, listened to our surroundings, and enjoyed the cherries. The teachers commented to the English teacher (and my secondary counterpart) who organized the trip that I was not eating a lot and they were worried. My counterpart bought me popcorn to tide me over and satisfy the teachers. Even though I had eaten plenty, I was grateful and touched by the gesture. The students and I played games on the bus, and the students rotated around me, each wanting a turn to hang out with me. This was the first time I had been invited to do anything with my students. I was tickled!

The day finally wound down with another picnic with the leftovers from the day before. We got back that night, and I crashed to a wonderful night of sleep. The next day at school, I eagerly greeted the students. They were with friends who weren't there and wanted to play it cool. I understand that social dynamic and was happy that I could be their friend for a day. I look forward to the next day and the possibility of every day.

With the old and new volunteers, family and friends, my experience is starting to stabilize. I still have rough moments, but I'm feeling good! I hope that anyone having a rough moment out there can take a breath to reflect on the past, exhale to reflect on the present, and pause to think about what and where their next breath will bring them. Thinking of you all. xoxo

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gimme a Big Ole Bear Hug!

I am forecasting that this will be an unfortunately short post, but I wanted to get something down in writing.

I have 2 trainees coming to casa del Jefferson for job shadowing. They will be my shadows, and it will be a Georgian ol' time. I need to make cake and mop my floors before they get here. We are doing dinner tonight with my SM and his trainee: spaghetti, sauce, salad, garlic bread and cake of sorts.

This will be my second attempt to produce a cake in my giant cake pan. It's double the area of a 9 x 13 but 1/2 the depth, if that makes ANY sense?

There has been an interesting situation with the water: it has not been widely available on the water days due to power outages. If there isn't electricity, I can use my motor to pull water into my apartment, but luckily I was able to get enough today. The bad thing is that my water used to be brown/rust colored. The worse thing is that now it's tinted black. I think it may have something to do with the asphalt they just laid.

I FINALLY dropped off my dress shoes to be repaired at the shoe place, that way I won't have to wear my boots around town as much! WHEW! Then, in celebration of the guests coming, I bought some house slippers for guests when they come over. It's only taken me since February.

I've been having a lot of strange dreams lately (as usual). For example, one of the new trainees who shall remain anonymous was trying to drown people while they were swimming including myself and another trainee saved me (thank you!)! :) Then in another dream, a huge grizzly bear or something invited to give me a hug which I was precautious about, but then realized I wasn't a bear (you know how bears have poor vision) and then I was in danger of being mauled to death. She knew that I wasn't hairy enough to be a bear, and that's what gave me away. SO STRANGE. So any interpretations on those would be appreciated.

Off to make a cake! Until next time!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mood of May

Let's see. You may be wondering to yourself: I wonder what shenanigans Jefferson has gotten himself into lately. I want to share my story, brace yourselves.

Last we spoke, I was mourning the loss of one of the crew. Of the new group, they are still held together like glue. I went on that Friday to Bolo Zari (Last Bell/Call). Little did I know how joyful it would be. They made a shout out to everyone but me. But alas! I am still carefree. I had always known the twelfth grade was not "keen" on me.

Then Flap came to my town for a visit. We made creations of hamburgers right in my only skillet. I made the buns from scratch with some bar-b-q sauce. If only you knew how much this sauce was the boss. There frosted brownies covered in chocolate. Flap was a dear and financed most of this out of her pocket. <3 you girl!

The next Tuesday I had many a meeting. First in the Ministry to give the new GHSEP (Georgian High School Exchange Program) folks a warm welcome greeting. In less than a month, I will be teaching. They will learn of American culture from our knowledge and preaching.

I unfortunately had not time for my Russian lessons due to all the tizzy. But I was able to cram some in after this point upon settling back in my hizzy. My time has felt consumed from all of this GHSEP planning. Had I not been in amazing company, I probably would've spent my time tanning. However, I have not had time to purchase some new tile. I still want to remodel my deck to go the extra mile.

I started lessons of Georgian folk dance. I've thus far gone for two weeks and am giving it a fair chance. More planning came followed the next day by a picnic. It was chill, good to see everyone, and most of all scenic! I stayed the night with my host with the most. I'll call him "Soul Server" because that's what's in him to do. For three days and two nights I crashed at his place. His host mom, most of all, loves his little face. I watched the cluster's classes, and things are coming along well. I didn't want to go back, as I was caught off guard by the PST spell. Georgians commemorate their independence on the 26th of May. With a grand concert and friends, I was was able to celebrate this day.

With Russian and dance, I continue my education. I add teaching computers and English build this conflagration. Walking down the halls of school, I see a running child hit the wall. I tell the nurse she says, "Again?!" and rushes down the hall. So as this month comes to a end, I think only 14 more! And I'll return to you my friends.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dedicated to the Fallen Blackberry

Hey dudes and dudettes!

Writing to you live from the Old Testament. You may wonder why? Well, it seems as though the plague of flies has ended, and the plague of moths (?why??) has begun! I was the lord of the flies by no stretch of the imagination, and here I am now: the mothman... What more is to come? I have killed a couple spiders in my bathroom, but I don't feel so bad, because I know there still at least one in there.

I was able to go into Tbilisi yesterday and do a little fix-o change-o on the school's computer purchased with the grant money I applied for. I wasn't exactly provided private transportation, so I am pretty sure I have a bruise on my shoulder from having the CPU strapped to my back, but there's peace of mind in knowing that it is fixed. I also got some important papers signed for the school, and I'm making my director happy = good.

I was wondering why I was starving this afternoon, because I kept forgetting that the gas has been out, but low and behold, around 5 or 6 the gas came back on! Gas + electricity = hot water to do the dishes and hot food. I didn't have anything else I could've made without gas.

While in Tbilisi yesterday, the hours dwindled into twilight and I missed the last marshrutka (mini-bus) back to my site. I go to the PC "guest house" and come across 1 current volunteer and 3 new trainees! I learn that one of the trainees was going home in the morning. 1 was staying in the guest house to get some rest. And 1 was illin, but she's a trooper, so the three of us (2 noobies and myself) set out on the town. I wanted to show the noobies a good time. We went to one of my favorite restaurants (a little pricey), went to get some gelato afterwords, and we went for a little site-seeing tour through some of the more beautiful parts of the capital. It was really glad to get to know the trainee who was illin, she's very cool, and I predict good times will be had yet to come (if that makes sense). However, I was really sad to see the other trainee leave. It's kind of weird how I haven't known her for that long, but yet she left such an impression. One might even say, she integrated.. :) Nevertheless, I think that's a dark cloud hanging over me today.

I am really grateful that one of the trainees, BPRSI, is here. It's a good group of trainees! They all can put a smile on my face.

In other news, my apartment looks like an explosion has taken place and is in need of a cleaning/tidying. My water filter still needs to get replaced, but Rome wasn't built in a day ya know...

Did I mention that today is St. Andrew's Day? I hope you celebrated it well.

One of the good things about "Fallen Blackberry" is that before she left, she transferred a ton of her digital material to my external hard drive. There are seemingly endless hours of media watching ahead of me.

This Friday is my schools "Last Call" or "Bolo Zari." It's where the 12th graders will celebrate their graduation. It's a huge deal that starts around 11 or 12 in the day and goes on for a little while. This Friday is also an important event for FLEX and additionally an afternoon planning opportunity for PDO... I kind of feel torn as to what I should do. Maybe I'll flip a coin? I really do want to stay in my site for more than one week. Possibly on Saturday I'll be giving Flap a haircut. Flap, if you read this... let me know if you're coming.

I want to start baking. I need to begin some emotional eating and baked goods always make me feel better. Emotional eating is better than alcoholism, so I'm supportive of it. Mostly just eating. I love eating. I feel like one of those dogs that stuffs itself when you put any food down. It will eat until it will die and our stipends control when we can eat. Back to earlier, i don't really have anything to be emotional about, but I know I have a lot of feelings in general. Emotions are good, so why not add chocolate chips and eat them?

Tomorrow will be an interesting day: 1)A morning Russian lesson- I haven't done the homework because of preoccupation with thinking, but also I've never had a morning Russian lesson so far in Georgia 2) English club- hopefully students come!!! (I had one on Monday) 3) New private student. It's a dangerous situation to have private students. I've turned down so many parents, and there are so many English teachers that would be pissed about losing the income. Luckily, this girl currently doesn't have a private tutor, but it's something that can upset the community balance. There's a part of me that feels like it's a good thing. This girl is Azeri, one of the minority community. I still have another year here, and in that year, I could really advance her language. She's young and seems really motivated, so it's possible that by the time I leave, she could be prepared to make some great changes in the world. I think of course, this latter vibe is something a little to idealistic, but it's good to have your head in the clouds every now and again. I'll keep ya'll updated.

These are all the things running through my head. I'm off to dream a little dream, so hopefully I'll see you there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green peace, sleeves, trees, and... goblins?

To quickly follow up with where we were last: not spending a lot of money is going well, a few snags in the teacher trainings I have been doing, planning has been going very well for FLEX PDO, and general excitement.

So I have been maintaining an excel file and have put a stop to the drain on my bank account = good. I would never have considered myself a liberal spender, as in America, none of us had such low pay, but that's one of the major components of Peace Corps: to live modestly on host country standards, at least that's my take on things. So the concept of going out to eat really has an impact on your bank account. I'll keep you updated on any additional changes. So far, so good. The best thing that I enjoy, while it may be a time of hardship, is that I have been able to stay financially secure. I don't have to worry about paying for bills, because they are covered from my allowance.

The thought has crossed my mind that perhaps living on my own was a mistake and I should've stayed in a host family, but I would have to be in a house, not an apartment, and, in my community, I have already become associated with 1 host family. It would hurt their and my community image for me to live with a different family, especially given the tensions in the minority town I live in.

Something that I have been reflecting on is that things which bother you, generally will not carry to bother you in the future. There were positions I have been in in jobs, living situations, school, etc that I was very uncomfortable, however, now, they have no impact on me. This helps me cope with some of the difficult situations I go through occasionally here. I know that in the future I will look back and see these things as good memories or something I can laugh about.

Also, we've had some snags with my computer training. I know that they will get unkinked soon, but it's definitely frustrating. Last Wednesday, the CPU stopped functioning. Then Friday, the projector was being finicky. Luckily, on Friday I figured out the real problem was communicating between my laptop and the projector. CPU aside, the equipment we purchased is really quality. Today during a lesson, I used the speakers to hook up my iPod and we did a listening activity.

I have really been enjoying the Economist podcast. It has been keeping me up to date on world events, and their articles go pretty in depth on international issues. I definitely don't want to disconnect from the real world while here.

I am happily looking forward to the day that I can play computer games again. I know this is nerdy, but I miss World of Warcraft. :)

I planned this weekend for the FLEX PDO (Predeparture Orientation) for the kids going to study in US high schools for 1 year! I am very excited for this experience, but I want it to go through without a hitch, which takes a lot of planning. In all, we have 8 sessions to do. We have created the visual aids for 3 sessions, and planned in depth for 2. We will be ready!

I finished my last book in my reading-for-fun initiative and am eager to see what will be my next.

I miss being in my community, and have also been working on creating a balance between my work in my school and my projects. I need to plan for my Russian lessons, computer lessons, regular lessons, and possibly a private student I have been battling to take on from being busy.

I think that's about all! I'm going to Tbilisi this week to meet with a teacher training organization, hopefully to fix the CPU, and I forgot to mention my water filter has been not functioning properly for quite some time, and as it is so big, it's difficult for me to take it to Tbilisi to get it fixed.

Another point I may have failed to mention: I had left my sleeping bag on a marshrutka coming back from the nature hike in Telavi at the beginning of May. I thought it was gone forever. I was shocked when the driver called me to tell me he had my sleeping bag, however it was in Telavi. I had written my name and phone number on the side of the sleeping bag in the identification card space. One volunteer, Fray, à la compagnie de his beautiful wife, Bruyère, picked up the sleeping bag from the marshrutka station and additionally brought it to Tbilisi! I am so greatful, and now have the sleeping bag back in my possession. To be accomplished now are the CPU and the water filter.

Then apparently the school needs some paperwork to be filled out for the purchasing of the projector or something, which also needs to be done, but frankly, it's not as of utmost importance to meet at this point in time.

Ok well, I've bubbled over some so I might as well continue... I helped my friends Claus and Wilhelmina set the trail for the Hash House Harriers, an international running group that drinks beer after they run. I had never set a trail before ever. They use flour to mark the trails, for runners and walkers. This trail was to be staged in Tbilisi proper. We ran into several cleaning people who believed we were polluting the environment, dirtying their city, and hurting their jobs for being paid. I explained that this was only flour for an international group, and that it was important for the tourism in Georgia. Still, there were some people who told us we were not allowed to do so as it was filth. I mentioned to one lady in particular, among the others, that it would rain and wash away the flour. She posed the question,"But what if it doesn't rain!?" Really? Never rain ever again? Come on lady. Georgia needs tourism, among other things. There really are awesome sights to see, and I personally love Tbilisi. It just baffles me that so many people that day were resistant to the idea of bringing money into their country. Coming down from my mini-soapbox, I can say it was a good weekend.

PPPPPS- It's gonna be a HOT summer!
PPPPPPS- Sorry for there not being goblins. But if it's any resolution to this problem, I had a crazy dream last night? I don't know where the characters were from, but I don't think I made them up. There was this boulder I was leaning on to write some information, and I was writing over this hole that had stuff in it. I apologized (for some reason) to the boulder and stood up. A voice responded,"Don't worry about it!" I look down and see a huge cream-colored snake worming around inside of the hole. I was terrified! Then I jump away and think I see a giant cockroach doing a sideways handstand near one of the holes. The angle of the sun was bad, so I couldn't really tell. I get closer to the rock and it disappears into the holes. There were three to five other holes in this boulder. I go back to doing what I was doing, turn around and see it again pop up. I step closer. It disappears into the hole. This process happens a couple more times, before it pops up again. I get closer and closer, but still can't make out what it is. It's deep black with long and thin whispy hairs on the top of it's black, crisp, shiny, almond-shaped form. I get closer, and it flicks open to reveal an eye, staring with a dead look. It totters to and fro, slowly rising up from the hole. The eye is connected to a wedge-shape, reminiscent of a large slice of deep-dish pizza, with two scrawny, black, bird feet. The wedge opens as a mouth and begins talking. We chat about various things, and this strange creature mentions his friend who used to live in the hole. His friend was very small, doll-like in stature, disfigured by a wrinkled shrunken head, featuring a frozen smile, unnaturally wide, below two beady, cruel, black eyes. The wedge notes that I was lucky, his friend was not living there, or I would have been killed, as the doll-man was crazy and had a machine gun he used to extinguish any one or thing who would approach the rock. Then, as I heard echoes of cruel laughter, a chill washing over me broke me from slumber.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

O Happy Day!

Ok so the blog title may be a little over the top. I would first like to shout out to the new volunteers that arrived last wednesday! Twill be a good 2 years! I am coming up on the 1 year mark since I arrived in Georgia! The summer is coming and all kinds of interesting things are afoot: my computer class I started teaching 5 hours a week, new volunteers and helping out with their training, studying for whatever test I'm going to take (GMAT 1st then GRE again?), reading for fun (it hasn't gotten old yet!), working on teacher trainings, preparing to teach FLEX Pre-departure Orientation (PDO), and maintaining a social life! It's rough.

We are back into feeling like spring time, there was a pretty bitter cold snap that almost warranted getting out some winter clothes, but I resisted.

I would like to point out one thing that makes me a further step Georgian: wearing a scarf when your throat hurts... I think it's a good idea! Ahh! O well, you give a little and take a little I guess.

I'm getting ready also for a fall course: Special topics in strategic and international studies, discussions in English. I will be teaching this course in the international studies center in Marneuli. I will probably spend a good time preparing for this in the summer time.

The months plan themselves, and the weeks are flying by. It's a good feeling. The periods of culture shock and homesickness are becoming less and less, but still exist, of course. I just know that when I get back, I will destroy some American made cuisine.

Also, I talked with my landlord and she said that she will come by next weekend and we will see what we can do to fix the bug migration into my apartment.

I am wanting to go on a hunt for a few pieces of art to slap on these walls to make it feel more comfortable and also some hanging lamp shades to put over these bare bulbs. BUT I must be careful. Recently, my spending has increased exponentially...which is not good on the Peace Corps stipend... :(

That is all my dears.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Call me Ismail," he says...

The title of this blog will become apparent later on, but first a couple of letters of address need to be made, one might call them rants.

Dear Flies in my room,
I think it's so kind of you that you realize I live by myself and you want to keep me company, however, I must refuse your offer of friendship. It's endearing that you at one point in time were perched on my curtain and have now felt comfortable enough to rest on my blanket with me, but I must refuse your offer of love and curiosity. I do not and will not keep food out for you to eat, and if by chance you find a morsel or two, please don't take this the wrong way, but it is not an invitation. I don't know how you are able to grow so large, but I encourage it, as the slower you will fly, and the faster you will die. As I sweep your dead carcasses into the dust pan to later discard into a cheap black plastic sack, I have no sadness for your loss, as it most certainly is no loss to me, unless of course you count me being out one plastic bag at your expense. So, in short, leave. Fly away. Go bother some other poor souls, as here lies a pall stained with the blood of your brethren. Until we meet again.
Your disgruntled landlord,

Dear Spider in my bathroom,
I wish you would come out, as I have a feast for you in my bedroom. I just so happen to enjoy you checking in our unwelcome guests into your soft sticky nest. There is but one exoskeleton I have to pick with you: your shyness scares me. I came into the bathroom for you to scurry off into the corner one day, and I don't want you to be sad or disgruntled because of me. I hope I have done nothing to offend you. On another note, please let me sit on my toilet in peace. Americans like their privacy, and I would rather not get bitten on any account whether it be affection, anxiety, or anger. If I am to be bothered, I will warn you that your free rent will come at a price. So, I look forward to seeing you soon.

Hopefully those letters arrive to their proper destinations timely and appropriately.

So in the past couple of weeks, things have been going really well. I'm writing to you live from my new netbook! My English club is going swimmingly. Russian language is going well, and I have been feeling like I am in the vibe and enjoying life, ALLLLmost to the same level as I was in the States, but of course greatly missing all of my friends back home, American food, and my hobbies.

Also, in regards to my English club, I was on vacation during St. Patrick's Day, however told my group that they should all wear green on that day. I had completely forgotten about it, but then on Monday they showed me a photo of them all wearing green! At first, I couldn't remember why they were all wearing green, but they are just the sweetest group, and I love them very much. More to come regarding all of this.

I had a technology mishap with my camera. It doesn't focus anymore. I will try and fix it, but it looks as though this may be the end.

Last night, I was laying in bed, hungry, but too lazy to get food. So I get up and am walking down the street and I get a vibe that I should go to the store across the street. The store itself is close, but their products are not as good as the store that I was going to. So I go in, and the counter clerk recognizes me, greets me by name and says that he would never forget me. He asks me about school and we chat. Unfortunately, I didn't remember where I had met him much less his name. I found out it's Ismail. I gave him my phone number, and maybe, in the future, we will hang out. Until we meet again my sweets!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Scrapple from the Apple

Ok, so yellow cake + chocolate fudge glaze = glorious. There were only a few SNAFUs along the way, but it's the result that counts the most right? I brought some cake for my English club. No one came, so I redistributed the sweets to the Director's cabinet. They really enjoyed it.

Pizza sauce that went with the pizza, also amazing. The pizza crust itself was not one of my best. It could be because I didn't have my dough hooks and mixer for it.

So now I'm eating shishi-bishi. It's a Georgian food that mostly kids like. It's tomato sauce, onions, and eggs all fried up in a skillet. I used the leftover sauce I had for this.

I saw Sherlock Holmes. It was a bootleg copy but excellent quality, and I really enjoyed it! Of course a movie like that isn't going to be academy award winning, but for what it's worth, I think it was done really well. There's a scene about half-way through the movie about some book of witchcraft, and to my surprise there were many language characters: Sanskrit, Hebrew, Russian, and GEORGIAN! Georgian letters in a Warner Bros production! They were nonsensically strewn together, and I'm probably only 1 of 4-5 million people on the planet that would appreciate seeing it!

All other things aside, I have been enjoying my day off from work. I woke up late (8:30). I'm getting old. I'm losing my hair. So, why can't sleeping in mean 8:30? I have yet to read my book, but that's what I plan to do after I'm done listening to Miles Davis.

I would like to shout out to my Megobari! (literally friend in Georgian, but also the name of a project for advice between veteran volunteers and trainees)

PS- I just got bit by my first mosquito of the year! Ahhh... how good it will be to get back on my malaria pill regimen! I also need to put up my nets. Note: only most minority regions and a few other exception communities have to take the malaria medicine, which is very mild and doesn't give you nightmares or any other bizarre things.

Alright, this peach is out of here! I hope you all are enjoying the sunshine and the greatness of life. It's fragile, so appreciate it. Your body is a temple, so worship it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Privet iz Batuma

So the past couple of days, there have been some events that remind me I'm in Georgia. There's a satellite on my balcony. It's not mine. Point 1. Point 2: A man from somewhere in my apartment complex knocks on my door saying that he needs to fix said satellite and continues to work on it for 2 hours. Next, I had a pole on my balcony for bringing in the clothesline that I think the man working on the satellite stole when I wasn't looking. Why?

The water guy came by my apartment this morning at 9:30. He said I owed 13 lari (roughly 8 bucks) for 2 months of water usage. I had no money to pay him and so I called my landlord on my way to the bank because I think he was trying to charge me for 2 people. I woke her up, so she said she'd come over. She arrives to tell me that I don't need to worry about paying for water, to not open the door if he comes back, and if I run into him on the street to tell him I'm a guest and don't know anything. My neighbor tells me for one person is only 1.5 lari (.88 cents) per month. There are 3 ways you can look at this scenario, possibly more, but all seem pretty sketch.

Three non-working days this week: Easter Monday, Hareba (the day where Angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she had a bun in the oven) and Friday a memorial day for people killed for protesting: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, respectively. What are the chances of children coming to school? Yep. Pret-ty slim.

I went to Batumi this past weekend. It was beautiful! I had a really great time. Everyone said we went off-season, but it was awesome! There were no tourists, and it was overall a great time. I envy the volunteer that gets placed there! (Sidenote: Batumi was not opened up for volunteers to travel to until not too long ago, but after sites had been determined, so this next group has a chance to get placed there). Batumi has many great restaurants, an awesome boardwalk, running paths, right on the Black Sea, close to other historical sites, location in a temperate rainforest, (as a result) diverse plant-life, and the only down-side is that it's hella far from Tbilisi (an overnight train or 8 hours by Marshrutka, which for some other PCV's is not far at all).

Very shortly, I'm going to embark on the making of a yellow cake with chocolate fudge glaze. I'll let you know how it goes! That's about all that's new! Take care and I love you guys!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Can Daft Punk play in my apartment?

Onions burning in a pan, roll, CRACK, roll, CRACK. 2 eggs make the pan, 2 don't. That was my breakfast this morning. Unfortunately delicious.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well. This Jack has been very busy the past couple of weeks, hence the lack of postage. Good news: bathin in hot water that is totally functional without problems, seeing friends from home, going on trips to Ukraine + abundance of awesome people. What's next? Going to Batumi today, seeing another part of Georgia! I have some awesome pictures, some people might be eager to see, but I need to first settle down. I miss my site. I miss my apartment. I miss the street noise. I'm looking forward to seeing the group going to Batumi and catch up with them, but also looking forward to the work and projects I have going on in my community.

I got the scedule together for my computer training. I got ANOTHER new schedule. Our school has a new English teacher. Her name is Esma, and she's one of the other English teacher's former students. The old English teacher who quit gave a couple days advance notice before quitting in the middle of the school year. She got a job at one of the local banks.

Tomato jars are difficult to open. I gave one a shot earlier today, and it needs another day for sure. My landlord gave me a little packet for the Azeri/Muslim holiday: Bairam. She's a sweetheart. The package had some hazelnuts and walnuts in it, but alas I have not a nut cracker.

A new "feature" of my computer in addition to it's catching/freezing every 30 seconds, includes sporadic 1 second freezes in between. When will be the day that I press the power button and the operating system won't load? The good news is, thanks to the awesomeness of PJ, I will have a new netbook. If you are an incoming trainee or dear friend of a volunteer coming soon that could bring it from the US in the next 2 months or so, please let me know. It would save me tons of aggravation with customs and such. I can always repay you with love, tender affection, and definitely a tour of Georgia within the limits Peace Corps lets us travel.

The weather here and now is beautiful. I may have mentioned but I hung up some windchimes (I love them) and the feng shui on my balcony is complete minus the Margaritaville tile I have yet to purchase and lay.

That's about all that's new with me. If I think of something new, I will just have to write another blog entry. After 2 weeks, I hope to start some regular regimen for studying for the GMAT. My goal, as mentioned, is too take it by August 6th, and hopefully I can pull off taking it sometime in June, so I can prepare and retake the GRE. Ya'll rock. Ya'll. That's right.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The lights, satisfaction, HOLLYWOOD!

Another round of Gamarjoba's (hellos) for everyone! (my treat)

How quickly the months plan themselves! So it seems like March as is good as over! New things going on with me: HOT WATER! That's right folks, it's coming and I can (in theory) shower with an overflowing abundance of hot water whenever I want!

Today was International Women's Day, so to all of your international women out there, gilocavt (Congratulations)! Now that I have hot water, I can only pray for a refrigerator. God, if you're listening knock one down and pass it around! (just make sure it ends up with me) Somewhere between the fridge and existence lies a new summer patio, tiled and ready for some intense sun tanning.

So this weekend I made tons of American/non-Georgian food with good company. Friday started off with glazed carrots and rice. The weekend's gluttony kicked off with dessert: peanut butter cookies. The binge intensified with a breakfast of sausages, fried smoked ham, pancakes with maple syrup, fruit, juice, modified latkes and applesauce. A short period of time, then a dinner of velveeta-spicy beef and baked tortilla chips with a spinach salad, carrots and ranch. For dessert, we had chocolate fondue with bananas and cookies. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast ensued today, and beanless chili and chips for dinner. If anything, I am not hungry.

As some of my close ones are arriving from America on Saturday, I need to do laundry and spruce up the ol' apartment. The mirror my Russian tutor gave me is hung in accordance with the tenets of feng shui, and all is well. I still need a table for the purposes of a chopping surface, but other than that, all is well. My wind chimes are mighty beautiful sounding, and I have not yet positioned my bed to be in a north-south position. I'm contemplating it, and will most likely do so for summer.

The only downer in this whole situation has been the time, energy and water availability factor. I was supposed to have hot water on Saturday night, but, as they are still working out all the kinks, I still have not taken a shower, making this the longest I have ever gone in my entire life without a shower. Tomorrow marks 7 days. As long as I have water tomorrow morning, I won't hit 8 days...

In addition to good food this weekend, there was good company, and while I still need to buy a few more pieces of equipment, I am more prepared to host up to 5 people. A Batumi trip seems in order for April, and before you know it, the new volunteers will be here. There's another opportunity for Americans/Brits/Aussies/Canadians and other native Eng Speakers to volunteer in Georgia for one year and teach English: Check it out if interested.

So I saw Star Trek and all I can say is wowowowowowowowow! I really enjoyed it! Then I saw Daybreakers. Daybreakers is not exactly an award winner, but as one volunteer, Punishment, mentioned it would be much better with an appearance from Clive Owen. I missed the awards show, but hope all you Americanos who watched it, enjoyed it.

Annnd, just as I thought spring was upon us, I'm back in my ski jacket around the house. Yep. A cold front swung in. My volunteer, Fiance, mentioned it was snowing in her village! Well, by the end of March this cold business will be done.

Also, I found out I will have free time in Kiev to explore during the four days of training soon, so let me know for sure if you'll be there/are there now!

PS- I found my Russian-English Dictionary. It was underneath my bed. Was I studying one night? It's old and falling apart, but is way more useful than not having one at all. My tutoring sessions last week were all without it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You'll miss your train, and come stay with me...

I need to get better about not taking hiatuses (plural also just hiatus, but sounds strange) from my writing. So many great things have happened since we last spoke. Where shall I begin? So due to extreme winds, the wind chimes had to come down. It was bad enough I thought the scrap metal that's holding my balcony together was going to detach and fly through my window, but the wind chimes banging against my window gave an extra layer of creepiness while trying to sleep. It reminded me of being on the urban scene of something reminiscent of the chainsaw massacre. They'll go up again soon. The wind apparently is really strong during that period of time every year! A couple people in Tbilisi actually (I heard through the grapevine) were killed from fallen trees or debris flying around during the intense wind. Brother Wind is good for drying clothes, but bad for pedestrian activity.

In other news, I saw Avatar! Despite some of the bad/critical reviews, I really enjoyed it. No, I did not have the luxury of seeing it in 3D or on the big screen, but it was really good: so good, in fact, I've already watched it twice this week. Other movies on my soon-to-watch list include: Interview with a Vampire, Daybreakers, Star Trek (the new one), and Sherlock Holmes.

The ground here is starting to solidify, and running at the stadium seems as though somewhat realistic in the near future. I need to talk to my landlord about her installing hot water. It's rough living without it and only a small pot. Yes, I know I could buy another one. As my Russian tutor says, "You are the one who punishes yourself." It's all about priorities, and right now there are a ton of initiatives under way. First, our school got the grant for the computer, projector, projector screen, and internet access project I submitted in the beginning of February! It will be amazing, so I need to start the IT teacher training for that. Then, two days ago, I met with the "School-Family-Society" Association for a partnership for projects regarding professional development with teachers in Georgia! It was an extremely productive first meeting where I may (time depending) go to an International Education Conference at Batumi University in May. Also, I was selected as a Pre-Departure Orientation Teacher by FLEX/American Councils to teach students in Georgia going to the US about American culture!! I'm very excited for this as well. It will mostly be a long weekend involvement in June and July, with planning on weekends in-between and a training of trainers in late March in Ukraine. SO, if any of ya'll folks will be in Ukraine during those 4 days, let me know. They said there will be no time to conduct business or site-see, but you never know what could be!

Other projects? Well, I will be missing the Volunteer Advisory Council (VAC) meeting and the Project Design Management (PDM) conference due to the FLEX/Am. Councils training. I will make up the PDM for one day sometime in April. English club will continue as planned; I'm still writing with my 5th graders and teacher in Tallahassee; I need to work on the resource database for the WID/GAD (Women in Development/Gender and Development) committee. I definitely would say there is not ample free time, as I still have 4 language lessons/wk and 16 hours of teaching plus planning time. When am I going to study for the GMAT? I would like to set aside at least 1-2 hours/wk for that (minimum). I almost forgot! I'm also leading the team building initiative for volunteers as well, and unless I'm forgetting something, that's everything I'm doing.

As the new invitees may have heard, our first Volunteer Reporting Form (VRF) is due. It's basically a concrete summary of everything we've been doing the past 6 months. It's usually due every 3 months or so, but you aren't really supposed to do anything but adjust to your community during the first three months.

In all of this craziness, I've been able to maintain my sanity, stay positive, motivated, and I've been continuing to read for fun! Unfortunately, I started 3 books, so I need to power through some of them. Flap, one of the volunteers, started up a book club initiative. The first book they'll be reading is "3 Cups of Tea." I don't own it, but supposedly there are several copies. I don't know when we'll meet for that or how I'll be able to read it in a quick period of time, but if the desire is there, anything is possible.

One of the most positive things, is that I've never in my life been at this level of business with such a calm peace of mind. Alright cool cats, I'm off to start a productive day!