30 March 2013

Beware: Emotions ahead.

So, I’m having a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that some of my best friends and family will no longer be within the same time zone as I am. In a matter of two months, some of the most incredible people that I’ve come to know and love will be scattered across the country (maybe even globe!) and I’m not gonna be able to talk to or see them as often as I’d like.

It’s a funny thing, Peace Corps. You come in thinking that you’re gonna change the world, one small step at a time, and really you come in and YOU change, not the people around you. Yes, you teach some people English or you transfer some skills that will be worthwhile in the future, but really, you’re the one that changes. I had hoped that’d be the case once I got here, but didn’t realize the depth of which I’d change once arriving in country. Yes, things have been rough and I’d like to have gotten the hell out, but looking back over the two years, I literally wouldn’t change it for the world. Seriously. Whether or not they feel the same way, the people with whom I’ve spent the last two years are my family and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I will think about them every day for the rest of my life. There are experiences I’ve had here that only they will ever understand or comprehend.

And at the same time, that’s incredibly frustrating. I’m going to want to be able to just look at someone and know that they’re thinking ooyat at the same time I am or we’ll be able to shoot Kyrgyz back and forth to one another without having to translate. It’s going to be hard not to take these past two years for granted and just assume that everyone around me hasn’t moved on with their lives and will be on the same pages as I am with everything. I hope that anyone out there that reads this slash knows me will be tolerant of all these things and forgiving of all my silliness when I get home in two months. Two years is a lot to forget/repress within a few months. Sigh.

‘Cause I’m in a list kind of mood, here are a list of things in Kyrgyzstan I’ll miss and a list of things I’m the most excited about upon returning the ‘Murica! And yes, this will be on-going…

Things About K-stan I’ll Miss:
-       $1 beers
-       getting matches/gum/bullion cubes as change
-       Jaky’s (my little host sister) laugh
-       My CP and her family
-       Mountains and the landscapes of Kyrgyzstan
-       Traffic stopping for cows/horses/sheep
-       How cheap the cost of living is
-       Being dirty for multiple days and no one (really) caring
-       The Wall and Lenin’s big ol’ head
-       Sneaky friendship shots
-       Simplicity and happiness with the way of life
-       Haggling for 6+ hour road trips for under $10
-       Random tois slash baikeh circles by the side of the road
-       Call to prayer in my village/anywhere in country

Things I’m stoked about once I hit Stateside:
-       Road rules being followed
-       Englishcha
-       Toilets
-       Taco Bell/food
-       Full shower with pressure and/or baths
-       JT and Lolla slash all other live music
-       Effective and timely public transportation
-       Not getting shamed when people find out I’m single at 25
-       Taxis that don’t have to be full to go anywhere
-       Consistent electricity
-       Real bed and pillows (not a couch and airline blankets)
-       Non-streamer toilet paper

As I said before, these things are going to be constantly in flux and could change slash be added to in the next eight weeks until I leave. But until then, please know that I am the most grateful for everything and everyone over the past two years and don’t know how I can ever thank you. I love you all and cannot wait to see you in a few months.

30 November 2012

Books a million.

I’m really bored. And being very retrospective at the moment. Therefore, I’m gonna list all the books (there are loads) that I’ve read over the past year and a half. It’s amazing what you can do with this much time to read… :p

* = recommended
** = highly recommended
X = don’t bother

-       Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
-       (*) Passages by Connie Willis
-       (**) World War Z by Max Brooks
-       (X) Elixir by Hilary Duff (yeah, I was curious as to how it would be; it wasn’t that good…)
-       (*) To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
-       (*) Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
-       (*) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
-       (*) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
-       Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max (nowhere near as good as the first)
-       (**) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (uhmayzing; loved the unique formatting)
-       The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (completely unsatisfying ending)
-       (X) Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern (lame)
-       They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, and Alephonsian Deng (was expecting more from this)
-       (*) One Day by David Nicholls (beautiful)
-       On the Road to Kandahar by Jason Burke
-       (**) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (LOVED it! So fantastic; got me hooked on Gaiman’s works)
-       Bellwether by Connie Willis
-       Bossypants by Tina Fey (was expecting more, especially since I like her so much; apparently the audiobook is better?)
-       Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (glad that my money for this went to a good cause, but not that great)
-       The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
-       (**) A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin (YES!)
-       A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
-       (**) The Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell (sofriggingood)
-       Dear Me by Joseph Galliado (entertaining, one-time read)
-       The Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
-       (**) Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel (so inspiring and makes me want to do so much with my life)
-       (*)Passage by Justin Cronin (interesting take on the drac stories)
-       (*) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Mr Rochester… <3)
-       (**) The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (so much amazingness about Trotsky)
-       The Magicians by Lev Grossman (far too similar to HP, although it got pretty dark)
-       (**) A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin (think this might be my favorite of the series; Jon Snow, HELLO!)
-       Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot (guilty pleasure)
-       The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot (bubblegum for the brain)
-       Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot (pure fantastic fluff)
-       A Feast of Crows by George RR Martin
-       A Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin (THE END!?!?)
-       Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (this guy was a little bit of an asshole; loved the ending sentiment though)
-       (**) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (one of my favorite books; could reread it dozens of times)
-       The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (intriguing as the main character from the above book is in it, but with a different outcome...?)
-       (*) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (always a fun, light read)
-       (**) The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (history geek in me LOVES; makes me miss Bucholz and academia)
-       The Hobbit: There and Back Again by JRR Tolkien (needed to reread it for the film!)
-       (*) The Mirage by Matt Ruff (SUPER interesting premise; first half of the book is better than the second half)
-       (X) DW: The Angel’s Kiss by Justin Richards (was expecting the book from the ep; it’s not the same)
-       (*) The Twelve by Justin Cronin (SO good; for some reason his characters really get under your skin and stay with you)

Next up: A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Powers. Yeah, I know how to keep it light… :p

30 August 2012

Summer in the K - 2012

Oh shit, school starts tomorrow! That means only one thing: summer is at an end. And what a second summer in country it has been. A few months (read: ages) ago, I posted that I had hoped because of how busy my summer was that it would go by quickly. That was a severe understatement. I don’t even remember ¾ of it! And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

And since you read this blog ‘cause you like knowing what’s going on in my life, here’s a play by play (it’ll probably be a long one, so buckle in with that popcorn and Diet Coke and get ready!) of My Kyrgyz Summer 2012!

-       Mom & Tif: First visit of my service! :) Did not disappoint. Well, how can you when two of my favourite ladies on the planet trek their way to the other side of the world (literally) just to hang out with me for ten days?! Stayed in Bishkek for a few days, did my vil for a few days (unfortunately my host family was pretty much all in Taraz for medical reasons so they couldn’t meet), and then headed out to the lake for the rest of their trip. Not bad – three oblasts in ten days, missing only Naryn? Bam! Both of them were huge champs when it came to outhouses, Kyrgyz food and apartments, and Kyrgyz guest houses (before we relocated). Was surprised at how unphased they were; guess I was expecting them to think it was the hardest, craziest experience ever. Guess that’s what I get for having two outdoorsy and wilderness girls come to the K. Also didn’t realize how exhausting and sometimes frustrating it would be to be a constant tour guide and translator! By the end I was like ‘You know enough Kyrgyz, give this taxi driver your basics and I’ll answer the hard questions!’ Sad they couldn’t stay longer – there was still so much more to see and do! – but am now pumped for that next adventure we all have together.
-       PST: Ah yes, PST. Can’t forget you 20s, now, can I? Haha. Like summer, this whole experience went far more quickly than I expected it to. Maybe it’s ‘cause I really only did a week and a half of training as opposed to the 3-4 the other two sessions got…? The 20s were actually really good and receptive to what I had to say. Thank God, ‘cause I know I was a raging bitch when I had two weeks left of all those PC-mandated sessions before heading to freedom, I mean, ‘site.’ Glad that my fears of them not wanting to be friends with me went unfounded; we just needed to be able to spend time with one another to semi-break through each others’ shells. Couldn’t be happier with the group we’ve got. They’re gonna do great work here in country, I just know it. And thank Mighty Manas that I’ve got a great sitemate out in my neck of the woods to keep me sane for the next nine (!) months.
-       Jess: This reunion could not have been more needed or perfectly timed. Everything slipped right back into the way they were almost two years ago when we were walking around barefoot in Zanzibarian sand and getting our shit stolen. :) Talk about being boss. As students do when traveling, Jess really got into the feeling of all things Kyrgyz and roughed it with me (thanks again so much for putting up with that asshole on our way to Talas… <3). And, to top it all off, she spent almost the entirety of her vacation WORKING a camp with me. Luckily she loved every second of it and had a giant cry fest (don’t worry, I did as well!) and group hug with everyone before she headed to the airport. Seriously don’t know what I would’ve done without her during that. I think she’s part of the reason why El Campo was my favourite thing I did this summer. So good to have her back in my life for serious discussions, massive giggle fests, silliness, and dancing. Can’t wait to see her shining face again after service. Let’s just hope she doesn’t dash off to some far off world that quickly after she finishes uni. ;) You listenin’, Jess?
-       Ramadhan: As my last post was all about doing it, this paragraph will be the shortest for sure. Latest update on this one is that I finished it for the second year and this year’s was a bit anticlimactic. Well, aside from a few days of serious sickness and dehydration (damn Bishkek heat!). Didn’t immediately feel as fulfilling as last time, but maybe that’s the point? We’ll see if I decide to do it again next year.
-       El Campo: My favourite thing from this summer. Hands down. So, it’s gonna be the longest paragraph. So, just as a reminder of what El Campo actually is/was – it’s an 11-day creative leadership and community involvement (?) camp for 80 kids ranging from 14-25. Big age range, I know, but it was so important for that very reason. Younglings teaching the older kids how to return to their inner child and have fun, while the older kids were helping the little ‘uns with their English and critical thinking skills. Such an amazing trade off and it worked most of the time. There were about 11 PCVs (both K19s and K20s), with an equal number of local students (mainly FLEX alumni and other Bishkek university students). Guys, I don’t know how much I can express to you the dedication and enthusiasm these locals had for this project. It was beyond a doubt one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had with locals in the year and a half I’ve been here. Seriously. You’d think that 17-18 year olds would shun work and take the easy way out… Nope, most of them were the first ones there at the beginning of the day – which started around 9 – and the last ones to leave around 8 pm. Amazing. We were headed by these two wonderfully beautiful and creative (Tif, Liz, Christian, you would’ve LOVED them!) Ukranian girls who came to Kyrgyzstan JUST to get this project off the ground. Without them, I’m sure everything would’ve fallen apart, especially after day 6 without a break. <3 Miss them already. Anyway, the students were all split up into teams by colors – I was one of the team leaders for Team Red, baby! – and the entirety of the camp was a competition between them. You’d get points by going to and participating in classes (Creative Leadership, Theatre, Music, Art, etc.), working together as a group to complete challenges (egg drops, water balloon challenges, etc.), and for rocking at dress-up days (I KNOW you all saw some of my crazy outfits – Adele, Batman, nerd – on Insta or FB; if not, check out my silliness there!). I was absolutely astounded as to how active and into it the students were. Most of the time, here in Kyrgyzstan, students are incredibly reserved and quiet; it takes forever and everything you’ve got to get them them outta their shells. It took these students a day until they were acting goofy and dressing up like Palms (love ya, girl!) and I did every day. By the end, I couldn’t have been more proud of the transformations that occurred in some of the students. Actually made me feel like I had DONE something and MADE A DIFFERENCE while being here. So wish I could have that feeling all the time. Going to work on helping Aigerim and Aizhan (the new directors for next year) to make next summer’s just as amazing and influential as this years’. Let’s get it, team! Dare to dream, dare to change, dare to…
-       BP Reunion: Are there really words to describe what it’s like being around our beloved B*^$h Pudding again (sorry if you read this, MK!)?! No, there aren’t. And I’m so glad that he made time for me while he was back on his month-long consultation job here in the K. Everything slipped right back into the way they were – as it always seems to do with good friends, I’m noticing – and we were just BP and Shortcake again. Incredibly good chats about life, vacations, future plans, and just about everything. Not sure he knows how much I value his advice and friendship… Wish I could’ve hung out with him more than just a few hours over dinner and a bottle of vino or two. Oh well, rendezvous in about a year in Chi-town? I’ll call you! xx
-       Welcome Weekend: Note to self – never have a welcome weekend with good food (and booze) when you can’t take part until after sundown. It just makes things unfair and only semi-hilarious watching all the drunkenness of others. Was so great to hang out and get to know the new Talas 20s. Gonna be a great bunch, I can tell. Not as crazy as the 18s or 19s, but that might not be such a bad thing. Haha. Will love to see ‘em grow up into Talasciraptors over the next 9 months.
-       Talas Camp: Oh, jiminy Christmas, was this a near-disaster. Was in the middle of working El Campo and my co-director Athena calls me to tell me that our venue has backed out last minute and we cannot find a place to hold this week-long camp for Talasers that we’ve been excited for since… April? Panic ensued. We tried to find other places that were open, but because the camp was going to be held so late, all the directors wanted to get their places ready for their own students or were undergoing renovations. Because of this, Athena and I were resigned to the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be; we had drafted emails to vols saying that it was canceled and had talked to our translators breaking the bad news to them. Luckily, with the phone call to one of our translators, she said ‘No, this camp is happening. I will fix it.’ And she did. She had HER director call a director of a nearby village’s school and basically ooyat (shame) them into holding our camp. STOKED. So, camp actually happened and turned out relatively well. Aside from the fact that my body basically shut down and became a cesspool of infection after Ramadhan and I had to miss 2.5 days of a 5 day camp. Yeah, I’m classy like that. *facepalm* But Athena was a STUD, as were the bazillion of volunteers who were there who stepped up when things needed to be done. Couldn’t be more appreciative for the group we had. And the kids, aside from a few shitball jigits were great. Really got the point of what we were talking about (tolerance and diversity, both in the K and out) and just knocked it outta the park. Now let’s hope the projects the students were supposed to do turn out as well as the rest of camp. Oh yeah, and that I can complete and submit this grant correctly. Fingers crossed and good vibes sent in my direction, please and thanks.

New things to which I am looking forward:
-       Being an official photog at a fancy Kyrgyz fashion show: Malana’s host-sister from PST is apparently an up and coming designer in Bishkek. So, next weekend – the 9th – there’s gonna be a high falutin’ fashion show with a bunch of dignitaries and important people. And guess who got asked to go take pics of the event? THIS KID. So stoked. Hopefully I don’t fuck it up and I’ll be able to take good pictures (that I can then put in my portfolio) and will do his sis proud. Oh, and I have to wear stilettos. I’m gonna die.
-       Figuring shit out for second year of teaching: Basically what it says on the tin. Need to really evaluate what I’m doing with my CP and school. Hoping to do a few teacher trainings for other teachers in my school, so they can learn new methodologies as well, and possibly work with the new, young English teacher that’s starting at our school this year. Just need something to do during this school year that makes me feel like I’m not wasting my experience here and I’m helping as many people as I can.
-       Australia and New Zealand with Em! Oh yeah, it’s happening. For a month. Cannot WAIT to get back to the sun and sand of both of these places. Or to see some of my amazing friends I haven’t seen in a while. Ffi, Ben, Greer, Steph, Kathryn, Fi, Pen… And then all the new experiences I’m going to have. We’re hoping to do a week or so in Melbourne, then do about a week or so on the North Island, then hoppin’ down to the South Island for some wine tasting and trekking and general awesomeness. Is it December yet?

Well, folks, you’ve just read through far too much of my babbling for one day. Hope you enjoyed it and I’ll try and post again soon – maybe with some pics from the fashion show? – but I can’t promise anything. Please know that I really do miss you all and think about you guys nonstop. And seriously, all these engagements and weddings that are happening without me HAVE to stop. I’m missing out on FAR too much. ;) But really, congratulations to you all; you know who you are.

Sending all my love to you all, wishing you the best of luck in school (whether you’re teaching or getting taught), enjoy your fall, and cannot wait to see you all in a few months!

24 July 2012

It's that time of year again.

Alright, guys, I know it’s been a while, so here we go. Round (insert sequential number here). Just as a forewarning, this post might be a bit sentimental or ‘preachy,’ (maybe?) but just go with it. I’ve got a lot to say about this one.

So, some of you may know that I’m five days into doing Ramadan for the second time in a row. I have gotten NUMEROUS questions from vols and locals alike asking me why the hell I’m doing this, for a second time, no less. Despite whatever answer I give them at the time, I always feel like it’s not enough for a reason for whomever is asking to comprehend why I’m willingly starving myself of food and water for thirty days (during daylight hours). Here are the reasons I come up with. They make sense to me, and I think that’s really all that matters, right?

-       I’ve always wanted to try it. Having learned about Islam and its culture for the past however many years, having lived in multiple places where Islam is the dominant religion, I had wanted to try to experience on of the pillars of the religion.
-       With that being said, in my head, taking part in Ramadan helps me integrate further into the Kyrgyz culture. In theory, Islam is the main religion of Kyrgyzstan. It might not be in practice (see: copious amounts of alcohol intake and smoking cigarettes), but for some people it is. By doing орозо, I am doing something that unites people. Also, I would like to think that by my doing this now, I have started conditioning myself for the ‘real deal’ when I get to the Middle East (inshaAllah).
-       It’s a respect thing. I might not get the respect from everyone I met that finds out I’m doing it, but those that do, it’s really gratifying to have that acknowledged. To have some people I hold in very high regard say to me ‘I’m incredibly impressed, and a bit confused as to why you’re doing this, but think it’s really admirable.’ I don’t know if that means I just need my own ego inflated every once in a while, but hey – I’m doing something physically and mentally tough, I deserve it sometimes, right?
-       The sense of accomplishment and pride after having done it is indescribable. To look back and think ‘Damn, I just went 30 days without eating and drinking during the day. And it’s been hot as balls. And I’ve done it while working a bunch of summer camps. Pat on the back for Hopkins.’ It is something I started, struggled through (oh, and did/am I strugglin’) and stuck with until the very end. Doesn’t happen often; not with something this big and important and low and behold, BAM!
-       Over the course of the month, I’m also given the chance to do a lot of reflection and so-called meditation. I can think about how this is the daily lives of people all over the world: they don’t get access to clean drinking water whenever they want (not even for sale); they don’t always have the ability to have three healthy meals a day; they don’t GET to willingly give up these things on a whim just to see if you can. How incredibly lucky and grateful am I to have all those things, even in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps and how even luckier I am to have it all indefinitely back home?!

Right now, that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure there are more reasons somewhere in this addled brain of mine. But now I’m brain dead after workin’ on camp stuff all day without food or water. So, it’s off to rinse off in a cold shower (so reminiscent of Africa, which is fitting since Zarins is being a gem and visiting!) before crashing and burning. Gotta be up in a few hours.

Please know I’m thinking about you all every day. Hope you’re not dying of the heat and surviving your summers. For those of you about to get married or starting big adventures recently, I’m sending you all the best wishes and leg-breaking. Let me know what you all are up to these days? Who’s going to Lolla? With a sick line up like that, you’d be an idiot NOT to venture into Millennium Park for that! Still not speaking to Steph and Akash about their three-day tickets. I want to hear EVERYTHING about it.

Missing you all loads.

26 May 2012

I'm a Misfit - can I join you?

Have you ever had one of those overwhelming feelings of contentment? Where you stand still exactly where you are and just appreciate every single thing around you? The wind blowing around you. The sun, hiding behind a few clouds as it sets for the day. The colour green that is literally everywhere around you. The mountains with their last bit of snow off in the distance. The fact that it is finally summer again after so many months of it not being summer. Feeling overwhelmingly busy and thinking you don’t have enough time to do anything, but it’s so different from how you’ve been all winter with NOTHING to do (other than watch TV and read books).

Yeah, well, if you couldn’t tell, I just had another one of those moments. And it was blissful. Sometimes I wonder why what I’m going to take away from this experience and if this experience is going to be all that I wanted it to be in the long run. Moments like the one I just had MAKE it exactly that. I might not the biggest difference in my community – there’s no way I’m going to develop a clean water system in the next 14 months (or maybe I will?) or get one of my students a full-ride to some amazing university in the States. I’m being realistic here. But I WILL have a huge appreciation for Kyrgyzstan. And its people. And eating outside under a canopy during the summer. And my host-family.

I guess you can tell that I’ve had a really good day/few days. God, I hope the rest of my summer will be like this – and I’m sure it will be – ‘cause this feeling is just sublime! And if it doesn’t, I hope that I can bottle up this sensation and can recall it when I’m huddled under 4 different blankets this upcoming winter. :) I really am so pumped for everything that’s coming up. Mom and Tif coming in like 20 days! Finally getting to know all the little (they’re so not little, excuse me) K-20s and how it’s been for them since being in country. Hearing how beautifully the Talas GLOW/TOBE camp (girls and boys empowerment camp) went without me. El Campo. Talas Welcome Weekend and then the Talawesome camp. AH, so excited.

On Monday, I finally got my shit together and started a P90x regime. I’m only a week into things, but I’m definitely feeling it. It’s definitely kickin’ my ass. But at the same time, I’m kind of excited about it. It’s something I can ‘look forward’ to doing every day. And it will make me feel better (I hope?) mentally and physically. Not so sure I’m going to get the results that I would like here in country – this whole eating healthy might not work in a world where potatoes and macaroni fried in oil and served up is normal – but I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope for the best. This really is something I need. I apologize if you do NOT want to be reading about my new exercise regime, but whatever, I’m going to put it in anyway. If you have any tips on how to do different exercise [Like, how do I do pull ups if I don’t have a bar or have a place to hang an exercise band?] or how to eat healthier (recipes for easy-access fruits and veg), would be GREATLY appreciated.

Onto the frivolous stuff: gone through another show that kills my soul (in a good way) – Misfits. It’s the British version of Heroes, but done correctly. Dear GOD, is it good. Simon. All the feelings. He’s got me feelin’ ‘em. Why are there only three seasons done and why is the fourth one going to be a giant shit show (no Kelly, Simon, or Alisha?!)?! What is the point? Either way, I loved almost every second of the show. Proved to be an interesting 3-4 day obsession with long-standing effects (damn you, Simon!). If anyone needed any more convincing that nerds/quiet guys were attractive – LOOK NO FURTHER. Done and done, thank you very much. And the guy that plays him, he was in London’s Spring Awakening. Dying. <3

In the process of re-watching (and falling in love with) Lost with JSR. It’s oh-so nice to have a geek out buddy once again. At least for this show. And it’s so nice to go back and re-watch all the craziness that happened so long again. Still have SOMUCHLOVE for Charlie, Hurley, Claire, Locke… Good times. Still hate Jack and Kate. Ridiculous.

Alright, now the brain is fried. Going to watch Love Never Dies – I’m going to give the video a chance even though I do NOT like the majority of the music – until I get called to dinner; if I do. Haha. Let me know what you kids are doing back in the good ol’ US of A for the summer. Ri – I fully expect reports on Dan and Philly’s trips to the States. Treat ‘em well and send them my love. Thinking of you all and wishing you the best of summers.

18 May 2012

They're heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!

They’re here. After such a long time waiting the K-20s are finally here! And let me tell you – they seem like a really wonderful bunch. I’m pleased as punch that these are the kids that accepted their invitations to serve here in the K. Very much an eclectic group of people; young and old, black and white, crazy and crazier. Can’t wait to really get to know them. I keep having this ridiculous feeling that I want to be friends with them but 1) I’m not really quite allowed to be their friend yet; have to maintain my professional distance and be a good trainer and 2) they are NOT havin’ it. Haha. I wonder if we were the same with the 18s (although I think it’s a bit of the reverse in this case), where they tried to befriend us but we were just too involved in our own group to really branch out. Not sure I can handle two months of waiting to be friends – especially since a few of them are headed out in my direction and I want to like them and be ready to spend the next year havin’ a BLAST with them.

Back at site after almost 3 weeks in the Kek. First week was spent saying goodbye to one of my new best friends – BP, as we like to call him. John has been a staple in my Bishkek life over the past six months. Don’t know what I would’ve done without him and our Team Indulgence nights. However, I think that we sent him off (on his glorious 6 week vacation to Uzbekistan, Australia, NZ, Fiji, etc.) in true TI style. As sad as it was, I know that I’ll be able to do it all over again come July when he’s back for a month of consulting work. Good thing that’s when my session of PST will be. :)

Second week was doing our ToT for the K-20 PST. Lots of repetition of things we learned in our own PST, but it feels kind of nice being on the know-it-all end of things this time around and not the holy-shit-what-did-I-get-myself-into end. All of the trainers are going to be great; we have a very enthusiastic and positive energy going on and the LCFs (the language teachers) are ready and rarin’ to go with this new batch of trainees.

Third week kicked off with our jaunt out to the airport at 2 am to great the new trainees. I think that all of the vols who decided to show up – there were about 20 of us – were all so past the point of tired that we were all just giddy silly fools and so excited for them all to arrive safe and sound. A few vols waited inside the airport with PC signs (like they wouldn’t know who we were without them?! *facepalm*) while the rest of us waited outside, jumping up and down and very fidgety. We created a tunnel of sorts for people to walk down – we even got some locals to go through and cheered them on; they thought we were nuts! – just to add to their embarrassment of being up for howevermanyhours and traveled halfway around the world. Lots of them were good sports about it.

After the airport, we all headed to the hotel where the trainees would stay for the first few nights and the vols were let off into the world of 5 am Bishkek. Surprisingly beautiful and serene, I might add. Then we all tried to pull our shit together to manage a few hours of sleep before PST officially began. Lots of information was thrown in the trainees faces, all the trainers seemed way more excited then the rest of them, and the staff seemed incredibly well-put-together and ready to go. Our team this year really is going to be prime time. On Tuesday, they all got matched up with their host families for PST. Everyone was terrified and it was really cathartic knowing that I wasn’t the only one flipping out over this; that it very much is a big deal not speaking the language and getting placed with a family you don’t know anything about. They all took it like champs. I hope they’re doing well. Haven’t heard much to the contrary, so I’m guessing no news is good news.

I am excited to see them all in six weeks time for my session, but am still really nervous about handling them all on my own. The other two sessions for TEFL have two volunteers to work things out. I’m on my lonesome. Sometimes I think that’s a great idea and sometimes I’m scared shitless. I know I’ll be fine and my energy and enthusiasm will be enough to get me through the really awkward times, but at the same time, I want to share all my knowledge about teaching and living in the K with them. Does that make me weird? I hope not. Otherwise this’ll be awkward as hell. Fingers crossed that I’ll figure out what I’m doing before then and that things will go over smoothly.

Still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that a lot of my best friends from country are either traveling the world right now or are back in America. Can’t fathom it. It seems like only yesterday we were all sitting in a field in Kengesh and I was getting shit for wanting to come to Talas. Wonder if the 20s will feel that way about us in a year. Gosh, I hope they will. It really is interesting how people can get so close after only one year when put in places and experiences like this. Some of the 18s I will remember and love for the rest of my life. Like I said before, don’t know what I’m going to do without them until I really get to know the 20s. I’ll make due, I guess.

Haven’t been reading much lately. Been too wrapped up in TV shows finishing (Glee and Smash, although I haven’t seen the finales to either).  Still trying to work my way through Game of Thrones – I’m on book four – but this one is just not as interesting. Why did he make it so that this book is ‘written’ by the crappy characters and the fifth one is with all the good ones?! Damn him, knowing we HAVE to read one to get to the other. Have Steve Jobs’ biography up next on the queue and am getting ready to rewatch all of Lost with Steve. Found The Avengers, but haven’t watched it yet. Quality is pretty shite and I just can’t bring myself to watch it like that – want to be able to really appreciate RDJ’s dialogue and to stare at Thor’s arms ‘cause… goddamn. Anyone got anything new for me? I’m really starting to need some of the following:
-       A Bit of Fy and Laurie
-       Jeeves and Wooster
-       Less Than Perfect (old skool Zachary Levi, YESFRICKINPLEASE!)
If you have access to any or all of those things, send in my direction, please and thank you.

MOM AND TIF COME IN LESS THAN A MONTH. Sorry, just a wee bit excited. Cannot wait to be able to show off this beautiful country to them and to show off my (not so) amazing Kyrgyz skills. And just to hang out with them again. Miss them so much. And then less than a month after that, Jess comes to visit and help with camp. Going to be one of the best summers ever. Here’s hoping that Diana and Mrs EA find a way to make it in my direction and that my trip with Dad actually pans out. :)

This post has gotten completely incoherent, which means that I need to finish up and do something my brain can handle (Lost, it is then.). Please know that I’m missing you all and wishing the best summers. Hope tornadoes haven’t swept you all away. All my love to you guys.

24 April 2012

Can you tell I'm bored?

‘Cause I’ve been in a very list-y mood recently, I’m going to have a completely pointless post about top five things I’ve done/watched/read in country or just in general. None of these are going to be in any order, unless indicated, so take ‘em as they come. Again, I repeat, this a completely pointless entry, but it’ll at least give you an idea of the things my brain thinks of while I’m sitting through lessons at school. Awesome. Ready for this? Here we go!

Top 5 Books I’ve Read While In Country
-       Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
-       Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel
-       Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
-       A Song of Ice & Fire by George RR Martin
-       The Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell

Top 5 Books I Want To Read Next
-       Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
-       Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre
-       The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro
-       Zone One by Colson Whitehead
-       The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography by Stephen Fry

Top 5 TV Shows I Started Watching While In Country
-       The Hour
-       Luther
-       The Wire
-       Homeland
-       Downton Abbey

Top 5 Methods of Procrastination
-       Hoyle Puzzle and Board Games 2012 (Rummy Squares)
-       Going through numerous TV shows, episode by episode
-       Making stupid journal entries about Top 5 things
-       Cleaning my room (!)
-       Collaging

Top 5 Places in Kyrgyzstan
-       Talas (Laugh it up all you want, 19s, I love Talas!)
-       Lake Issyk-Kul
-       Tav’s village WAY down south in Naryn
-       Besh Tash Nat’l Park (or so I’ve heard)
-       Bishkek (for that little urban fix when you need it)

Top 5 Kyrgyz Foods
-       Oromo
-       Kartoskha Manti
-       Shasechka
-       Lagman
-       Kasha

Top 5 Games I Want To Play On My Fake-N64
-       Banjo Kazooie
-       Wave Racer
-       Super Mario Brothers
-       Banjo Tooie
-       Goldeneye (for the first time)

Top 5 Places I Most Want To Be Right Now
-       Jambiani, Zanzibar
-       Tutukaka, New Zealand
-       Chicago, Illinois
-       Rome, Italy
-       Edinburgh, Scotland

Top 5 Celebrity Crushes At The Moment
-       Zachary Levi
-       Idris Elba
-       Benedict Cumberbatch
-       Kit Harrington
-       Michael Fassbender

Top 5 Movies I’ve Watched In Country
-       Melancholia
-       Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt 2)
-       The Beginners
-       50/50
-       Robin and the 7 Hoods

Top 5 Things I Want In My Next Apartment
-       Badass kitchen
-       Giant fluffy bed
-       Windows; lots of ‘em
-       Storage space galore
-       Kitten/puppy

Top 5 Things I Always Have In My Purse/Possession
-       Water bottle
-       Sotka
-       Kindle
-       Blistex (Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not addicted yet… ;) )
-       Planner

Top 5 Foods I Cannot Wait To Eat Again In The States
-       Fettuccini Alfredo (and breadsticks) from OG
-       Strawberry and baby spinach salad with a Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing
-       Gorp
-       Cheesy-ass slice of pepperoni pizza
-       Mom’s Chex Mix with a giant glass of Skim Milk

Top 5 Grad Schools Into Which I’m Looking
-       Columbia
-       NYU
-       Johns Hopkins
-       Edinburgh
-       St Andrews

Hope that was at least entertaining reading for a rainy day. Thinking about you all and wishing you the best of luck with everything – especially if you’re finishing up semesters, dissertations, years at uni, etc. God knows I’m not ready for that again. Haha. Let me know how you’re all doing. Miss you kids like crazy!