28 October 2010


Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the equation that is my life. Guess who was pretty much offered a job with GAA (my internship since January) to help set up a community library in a rural village outside Moshi in Tanzania. That’s right, this kid. And if I hadn’t already accepted Peace Corps, I completely would’ve jumped at the chance to do it. Is life/fate trying to tell me something by my boss asking me when he did? Or is it just really shite timing? After I was finally coming to terms with my decision and getting completely comfortable with the idea of picking up life and resettling it in Kafrakifrangipanistan for two years, this big ‘un hits me upside the head. In the end, I’m still going with the PC, since I already told them yes – although, to be fair, I haven’t actually started filling out any of the paperwork – but it doesn’t help that my brain goes into overdrive and starts overanalyzing whether or not I made the right decision.
And something else has been weighing heavily on my mind recently – the fact that I get too attached to people too quickly. I’m not sure that I 100% thought about the implications of doing a ‘job’ like this one (in Zanzi): I meet, interact, and live with pretty much a different group of people every few weeks. Me being the type of person that I am, I definitely latch on to people with whom I get along for the need of some semblance of distraction from missing home and/or friends. For example, I was with this awesome Kiwi for three weeks and we just got on incredibly well, adding a swanky Brit into the mix for two of those weeks. When both of those girls left, I felt as if little bits of me were leaving with them. Good Christ, that sounds so cheesy. But when you’re me, it’s just inevitable – I haven’t gotten to the place in my life where I can detach myself so easily from everyone and just side with those that’re going to be constant for me – in this case: Toni, Dulla, and the random kids/students. I’m finding it really difficult.

The other day while sitting in nursery school with the kids, I realized how utterly absurd primary/nursery school is in the States. Is it really that necessary for every single student to bring their own box of 24 crayons to put in their own Hannah Montana/Transformers (if that’s what the cool kids are even bringing to school nowadays) school box?! I’m currently teaching a class of over 30 students and they ALL share a tub of broken crayons and they do just fine. And they each only have one pencil and writing book as well. It baffles me how materialistic and individualistic the US is/has become. It’s no longer about the act of learning and community and being together, but who has the most pimped-out pencil or desk accessories. As underprivileged as schools like the ones where I’m teaching are, the students are still learning. And they’re learning a foreign language from a bunch of crazy mzungus at the ages of 6 and 7 (which is definitely not an easy task, that’s for damn sure)!

The past couple of days have definitely been hard for me. Just haven’t been in the right headspace for much, lately. Don’t know if it’s the issue of not having a constant group of friends that changes or if I’m going through massive America-withdrawal or scared about the future. Who knows? I sure don’t.

Miss and love you all.

15 October 2010


Well, I think I’ve made my decision. I’m absolutely flipping terrified. But I’ve been reminded that that’s completely normal for as big of a decision as this is, yet I can’t seem to shake how different my life is going to be from March onward. I have made countless pros and cons list, cried buckets loads of tears, spent far too much of Mom’s money making her ring me to discuss my options, lost sleep over this, have gotten myself sick stressing, and have had an hour long conversation with one of the besties (please know how much I appreciated that! <3) going back and forth. And I think I’ve come to a conclusion. *deeeeeep sigh*
As much as it’s going to affect those around me, I think I’m finally accepting and getting comfortable with my decision – I’m sure you can figure it out based on this entry alone – but I’m really hoping that everyone will understand that I need to do this for me. I think I really need this as a way to figure out 100% who I am, the kinds of things I will or will not stand up for (ew, preposition at the end of a phrase...), meet and experience fabulous people and cultures,  and how I cope with everything. Using my year abroad in Scotland and my two adventures in Africa as jumping points and comparisons, I’m not nervous so much about going somewhere SO different (although, let’s be honest, I’m scared shitless), but the length of time I’ll be gone is twice as long as any I’ve done thus far. Big steps. It’ll be a change. Only an idiot wouldn’t comprehend that.
I think one of the things that has scared me the most about making this choice has been how ‘grown-up’ this makes me feel. Only grown-ups start making these kinds of decisions, basically setting the ball rolling for how the rest of their lives are going to start shaping. [And I know that those of you who are super close to me are going to roll your eyes at this next sentence, but bear with me.] My life at this precise moment in time can pretty much be explained through the lyrics of one John Mayer – yep, here come the eye rolls – from ‘Stop This Train’: So scared of getting older; I’m only good at being young. I really think that’s part of the reasons I haven’t been able to so readily say ‘HECK YES, LET’S DO THIS!’ I feel like once I’ve said yes, that’s it, my childhood/youth is over, despite being only 22 (23 when I officially head out) and having so much life left to live. It’s going to be hard to come back after this and totally revert to the girl who willingly lets Grandma scratch my back, Grandpa make ‘faffles’ with lots of syrup every morning, who can work at the Disney Store (as hellish as it was) just because she loves watching Disney movies so much.
At the same time, though, another JM lyric comes to mind that I think will really help me find peace with this decision: I believe that life’s gonna see all the love I give returned to me. That pretty much sums up something I’ve always said; it’s part of the reason behind my infinity symbol. Not that I’m expecting someone to praise me or shower me with money and gifts once I return from service, but just knowing that I’m doing something to ‘help’ (hopefully) so many people – whether it’s by doing a silly dance and making a person smile or if it’s developing a clean water system for a village – I’m hoping to be build up a store of good karma. And we all know how karma works... But having said that, if you just so happen to marry rich (*cough*Tazer*cough*) and have extra money that you need to do something with, I’ll gladly let you hire me to run your NGO or charity. ;)
Please be patient with me as I use this place to vent my frustrations, tweak about my fears, and be excited about what’s to come for me in the next three years. Also, if you don’t agree with my decision, please keep it to yourself. I honestly don’t think there will be many, if any, of you, but just in case... I’ve been hard enough on myself as it is and this is my turning point: I’m doing this for me. As much as I value your opinions, I don’t need you to tell me how to live my life. Encouragement and well wishes would be MUCH more widely appreciated. Anything to help my transition would be great. And just know, when I get back from Africa, I’m going to need to spend as much time with most of you as humanly possible. ‘Cause let’s face it: how many of you, other than Mom and maybe Mike or Dad, will actually truck your ass out to Kyrgyzstan to come visit me?
Miss and love you all.

10 October 2010

Life-altering decisions (not to sound melodramatic)!

So, the other morning, after being 'stood up' for my training session with one of the local guys (I'm biking with one of the lads every morning to a - stay in shape and b - train for Kili if that's what Mom and I decide to finally do), I started writing in my journal and this is what came out:

Pretty much had a mental breakdown last night (6 Oct). I was checking my email when I saw one from the Peace Corps. I opened it, of course, and not to sound melodramatic, but my heart literally stopped and my life has since changed. They've already decided where they want to place me: Kyrgyzstan, teaching secondary level English. Oh, and I would leave on or around 25 March, 2011. Do you realize how flipping soon that is?! It might be October now, but that basically means that once Mom and I are finished with whatever we're doing at the end of Jan - whether it's climbing Kili or going to visit Kathryn and friends in Sydney and NZ - I have less than a month and a half to legit say goodbye to everyone (friends, family, etc.) and to pack up my life for three years. I mean, I figured this day would come, but actually having it become a reality and to see so much of my life in such a short span of two lines of text... It's fucking mental, man. I feel like Melina: I'm not 100% sure that I'm ready for this (even though I'll more than likely accept the invitation and say yes), plus who says 'Oh, no thanks!' to the Peace Corps?! You just don't do it.

I called Mom just sobbing and I've gotta say that she took it like a champ. It canNOT be easy to hear your child freak out that much and learn that she's going to be so far, in the middle of nowhere, for so long. But then again, she's always been like that; she's always put Mike and me above herself and always been supportive and stuck with us through thick and thin.

I am so fucking confused and frustrated about the whole thing. Peace Corps has given me SEVEN DAYS to make this life-altering decision. Are you having a laugh?! I can barely decide what I want to cover in my lesson plans for my students today! It's not as if I'm  unhappy that they've let me in or that they've placed me so quickly, it's how impersonal and nonchalant the invitation seemed to be; how easily they just cast away 2.5 years of my life and how they didn't think much of it. I don't know. I have a LOT of soul-searching to do in the next four or five days. I really, really wish that I could talk to certain people about this face-to-face and just panic/sob and talk it out with them before deciding. Being in paradise/Africa is really not conducive to the discussion and making of life-changing choices.

With something like this looming over me, it really makes me want to say forget the hardships of climbing Kili (although if I don't do it in Jan, I do want to do it eventually!) and go have the chance to see Kathryn one more time before I have to settle down in a rural, Soviet-esque village for almost 27 months.

Thoughts, anyone? I could really do with some discussion. I know at the end of the day it's pretty much wholly my decision, but I'd like to get your thoughts...

Oh, on a more positive note: Zanzi is lovely. Today's definitely a lay in the sun with a book and do nothing day. And it couldn't be nicer or more well-needed. All of that will change with the coming of a new week and all of the kids and lesson work we have to do. Fun, eh? :)

Miss you all.