26 April 2011

The reappearance of regurgitated socks.

Yet another cow update: I found the regurgitated sock in our lawn this morning. It was manky. Now I know it happened as opposed to just inferring. I brought this fact up at dinner a few minutes ago and my jenge (host sister-in-law) lost her shit when it fully registered. Oh well, I guess I’m officially initiated into the Kyrgyz way of life. Didn’t take long, did it? Only a month. In hindsight, it’s pretty hysterical. Another act of initiation: while I was peeling potatoes, carrots, and onions earlier, I sliced my finger with a gi-hugic knife. My jenge saw it, did a little gasp, and then just laughed at me. I was laughing at me too, so it wasn’t that bad. Then she told my apa who laughed at me as well. I really am just a bundle of laughs in this country.

It’s starting to heat up here in good ol’ Kengesh. Now I wish that I had prepared more for summer clothing as opposed to the winter stuff. Let’s hope that wherever I’m put for my permanent site will be a bit cooler than this (sometimes I don’t know where I get off saying this – I lived in Africa for six months during their summer, this should be a piece of cake!) or at least can get myself adjusted to things rather quickly. I seriously dominated at packing for this adventure. NOT. In desperate need of more of my t-shirts and cooler dress/business clothes. Basically, I should’ve packed an entirely different wardrobe than I did. Isn’t that always the case? And remember me in Africa? Same thing now – totally already tired of these clothes; wish I had ways of flaring up the same outfits over and over again. Thoughts? I have to mix things up, but also maintain a level of professionalism.

This coming Wednesday, the trainees are having a giant disco (it’s really like a ‘dance,’ but we love calling it a ‘disco’ so much that it’s just stuck). Not to toot my own horn, but the only reason we’re having it is ‘cause I brought it up in a trainee advisory committee meeting – yeah, I somehow managed to get myself on a board like that, thousands of miles away from home; some things never change… ;) I had said that despite the fact that while most of the time everyone loves their language groups within the villages, most of the trainees absolutely LIVE for the days when we’re all allowed to be together on our Hub Days. Also, since this coming week is supposedly the ‘toughest week out of PST,’ I thought that it would be good if we had a complete brain-dead event where we could all be together and blow off some steam. I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time am not. Dances have never really been my thing. Don’t get me wrong – I am PUMPED to be able to bust a move [OMG, can I please be back at Kendwa Rocks or Paje By Night shaking my ass to ‘The Waka Waka Song’?!], I just worry that it’ll be another one of those times where I think it’ll be awesome, but then somehow end up on the sidelines the whole time. *shrugs* Better not overanalyze it before it happens, otherwise I’ll ruin it!

Was TOTALLY in a zombie mood yesterday. Was a complete waste of life and watched Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later (for the first time – LOVED it; Cillian Murphy’s Irish accent?! YES PLEASE!) and then finally started Max Brooks’ World War Z. The book itself is really, really good. Ben was right: if you were to replace zombies with another ‘real’ epidemic such as Ebola or something equally as scary and fast-spreading, the story itself is an incredibly telling tale about how international politics and organizations work with one another. I guess we all need those moments/days when we bust out the completely unordinary and weird to get away from everything in real life. And for me, yesterday, that was the zombie apocalypse. That’s just the way it goes, right?

Totally random thought of the day: I’ve been thinkin’ a lot about tattoos recently. Don’t worry, Mom, I won’t come back with another one! :p But just thinking about what I’d like to get when I return home. Either, an add on to one I already have, or a completely new one to kind of symbolize what the next two years of my life are going to bring. One of the chicks in my village (she’s from Chi-town, so amazing to have around!) is this amazing artist and we’ve all kind of commissioned her to make a K-19 tat for us once we’re all finished. I’m really excited to see what she has to come up with, ‘cause if it’s awesome (which I’m sure it will be), I’ll be getting it. Although, I’ve also been thinking about tweaking one or two of the ones I have now. First – my peace symbol. I really do think that I want to either add the word ‘Peace’ (in my handwriting) in Cyrillic, Arabic, English, and maybe Swahili? Or somehow incorporate the PC into it. Or, my other thought is to have the lyric from JM’s ‘Wheel’ (‘I believe that my life’s gonna see the love I give returned to me…’) circling my right wrist ala the cuz’s tat. Again, these are just things I’m batting around at the moment. Who knows? I could have a bomb-ass epiphany within the next 26 months and completely change my mind.

Someone needs to help a sister out (mainly Tif and everyone I’ve ever known that has gone or worked at a summer camp). WHY CAN I NOT REMEMBER ANY GAMES OR ACTIVITIES WE DID TO ENTERTAIN THOSE GIRLS?! I have seriously racked my brain for weeks trying to remember any sort of ice-breaker or energizer, but cannot think of any! For example, all the trainees went to an orphanage yesterday (on Saturday) to clean and play with the kids. Someone asked if anyone had any other games that we could start up, and I knew that somewhere in the back of my head was a plethora of games, but I could NOT recall any of them. It’s seriously starting to piss me off. My memory of anything in the past is just shocking these days! I mean, those were such huge parts of my summers for so many years and I can’t recall any of them? Are you havin’ a giraffe?! Anyone want to email or FB message one or two? I’d very much be in your debt.

I must take this time to extend an apology to my Chicago Blackhawks. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you have made it to game 6 in this round against the ‘Nucks. That’s DEFINITELY a relief; I honestly thought it was going to be a four-game-and-we’re-out kind of playoffs. BUT, you’re proving me wrong and I am sending you ALL MY BEST VIBES for your game tonight/tomorrow early morning for me. Force them into a game 7. We’ll be on home turf for this game, you KNOW the UC will definitely be a fucking Madhouse on Madison this time around. Don’t let ‘em down. Wishing you seriously the biggest amount of luck. [OH. I thought everyone who knows hockey would appreciate this: I was watching Russian MTV today and this music video came on where the dude looked like a cross between Matthew Morrison and PATRICK KANE. I nearly lost my shit and instantly thought of his silly mullet and all his craziness. Life, right? Also, for those of you who were worried, I am pleased to report that even in Russia there is the Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant program on MTV. Yes, you can be immensely relieved at this news.] Ri, Theresa, and Kristen: I hope your boys are doing better than mine. Have they already made it through to round 2? Update: WE FORCED THEM INTO GAME 7! OMG. YESSSSSSSSSSS! Words cannot describe. BRB – DYING. And in OT, too?! If I had been watching, I legit would’ve been having a heart attack. Maybe it’s better for my health that I’m not in the States to watch them go through all of this…

Turns out that I find out where my permanent site will be on 4 May. That’s INCREDIBLY soon. Like ‘a week from Wednesday’ soon. And then like the week (or is it two weeks?), after I get to spend a week at my new host-family’s house getting the lay of the village and working with my counterpart and all. Let’s all hope that placement goes well (I’m so gunning for Talas at the moment, to work with my language teacher, but am not hedging my bets yet) and that the current PCVs have summer camps that I’ll want to help with to ease my transition into things. I’m sure it will. :) It’s all happening incredibly fast, ‘cause then after that, we’ve got two weeks until swearing in. Then we’re on our own. Two years starts 1 June. Crazy as, right? None of this really seems real. I feel like in a few weeks I’ll be done with this adventure and be coming home. But then I realize that I’ve only been gone for like a month and that the two years is just beginning.

I was talking to the Kengesh Mafia – yes, we are that lame; it seriously makes sense with our personalities and the way we’ve interacted with the other groups – about this earlier and we are all SO PUMPED for the stuff that we’re planning on doing together after our service. Penthouse in Vegas. Hangin’ at The Rat on the University of Miami campus. The Reservoir in NYC. Hangin’ with Brycey B and MC in Chi-town. Road tripping to see everyone. But then we all have to stop and remind ourselves that we’ve still got a shit ton of time left before we’re able to do any of those things. I guess it’s good to have goals and exciting things in mind to keep us all going, right?

So, I heard through the grapevine that DW was sodding amazing. [Poor Elisabeth Sladen, btw! Seriously, who would’ve thunk that that would’ve happened to Sarah Jane?! Who’s going to watch after K-9?!] Speaking of the whole sci-fi, Russell T Davies brainchild family, what’s the latest update/air date for the new TW mini-series? Any more news on what it’s going to be, who’s going to be in it (Freema and/or Mickey, maybe?), and why the hell Gwen’s going to be bringing her CHILD to help her fight aliens? These are the silly things that plague my mind while I’m supposed to be paying attention to tech session on the art of teaching vocab to non-English speakers. Great way to spend my time, eh? Haha.

Dad and/or G’pa: why are you not here to play Milles Bornes with me? I’ve been itching to play it for MONTHS, but don’t have the patience to teach it to anyone. I want somebody whose ass I can kick – with them actually trying – but know of no one. Sigh. Why doesn’t everyone on the planet know how to play French, car-racing card games from the 60s?

Well, team, I think that’s all my brain can handle at the moment. It’s about half 9 in the evening and I’m slowly fading, but have yet to eat dinner. Gotta love when your brain has completely shut off and yet you have to struggle through another language before you can hole yourself up in your room and either a) do your homework or b) read a zombie book and fall asleep. Btw, I’m sure you all know which one I’ll be doing this evening, right? Haha. UGH, my hair SO needs to be washed, but highly doubt it will be tonight. Maybe tomorrow after class? Fingers crossed for me, folks. Sending you all my love from this mingin’ girl in K-stan.

PS – Before I go, this lyric from ‘Awake My Soul’ by Mumford & Sons (I SODDING LOVE THEM!) has been on a constant loop in my head: ‘As bodies we will live, as bodies we will die, where you invest your love, you invest your life…

21 April 2011

Cannot wait to meet Jillian Lee Gann. LIKE MY JOB.

I’m not entirely sure that this entry will have much coherence, but just roll with it. Fairly certain, as well, that it may or may not make a lot of sense. Important things since the last update:

-       I’m having MASSIVE amounts of American food withdrawal. It’s never hit me this hard before, seriously. But I would seriously push down small children for the ability to have a nice bacon cheeseburger. Not even lying. Or little things like Doritos/Baked Cheetos and popcorn as snack-like things? Bring. That. Shit. On. The worst part: I’m very quickly using up my stash of goodies (only ONE bag of ChexMix left!). ‘Cause I haven’t quite worked myself up to the point where I can ask my host-family for hot water to bust out my cinnamon oatmeal or my EasyMac. Yeah, judge me. Dare you.
-       Found out today at lunch that I have to CONGRATULATE SKIPPY! Holy balls, I am so proud of you and excited to meet her. Tell her AuntieHop says hi from Kyrgyzstan! :) Once life calms down a bit, I want to see about a bazillion pictures ASAP. Also, give my best to the NewPapaSkip.
-       Someone tell me: is Stones into Schools worth reading? It’s the second Greg Mortenson book (the guy who wrote Three Cups of Tea) and I’ve heard that it’s pretty much identical to TCoT and not quite sure if I want to spend my time reading the same thing all over. Help me out?
-       I’m pretty sure that Mom already posted this on your wall, but Diana, seriously thank you so flipping much for taking me out to dinner my last night in the States. I very much needed that last dose of family; I wasn’t quite ready to give it all up for two years yet. It was SO NICE to shoot the shit with someone who has the same sense of humour and downs margaritas like I do and who makes me eat silly fried pickle chips. I’m not sure you quite understand how much those letters and whole ‘goodbye-package’ really meant to me and that it’s SO NICE to have those reassuring words when I’m having a shitty day. Thank you sososososososo much. Honestly. I am so excited for you and what’s goin’ to happen in September. Wish I could be there, but know I’m thinkin’ of you and wishing you THE best of luck. <3
-       Hey, remember that cow I talked about last time? The one who had a baby? Well, I’m fairly positive, that said bovine ATE ONE OF MY SOCKS OFF THE CLOTHES LINE. I mean, I’m sure it’s a little bit my fault’ cause it was a green sock and it was within its reach, but come on, cow! Note to self: don’t let it happen again. Or if it does, make sure it’s the other half to that pair. *facepalm* KWA, I guess.
-       I also heard today that my boys are like 0-3 with the ‘Nucks for Round One. WHAT THE ABSOLUTE EFF?! What the hell went wrong? Anyone who’s watched the games, tell me what the fuck’s up? Is it just lack of a strong line or cohesion with the group? Or did the ‘Nucks just infinitely step up their game and we just couldn’t handle it? Hope the next two playoffs I miss won’t be like this. Jesus Christ.

What else has gone on in my life? So much has happened and yet so little out of the ordinary… We had our site placement interviews last week and I am absolutely clueless as to where I’m going to end up. I told them I was relatively open to go wherever. Only stipulations were things like: internet about once a week, I don’t need it daily, by any means; relatively close to volunteers (hopefully they’ll be good ones!); and I found out that my language teacher that I have right now is going to be a counterpart for a PCV, so I called and said that if I were to be put in Talas – where she’s from – that I’d want to be partnered with her. Talas, for everyone that’d unaware (which I’m assuming is most of you), is on the western edge of the county and apparently is one of the most isolated places to go, especially during winter. I guess there’s like a giant mountain pass between the main city and Bishkek that is basically impassable during the winter. Or you’ll just end up seeing parts of Kazakhstan if you really need to get to the capital in the winter months. Haha. Also, there’s like an unspoken rule that only certain types of personalities, ones that can handle the isolation and whatnot, get put in Talas. I don’t know why exactly, but I keep having this feeling that that’s where I’m going to end up. Don’t think I’m too fussed, so long as there will be bomb volunteers around that I can lean on if needed.

OMG – I JUST REALIZED! Doesn’t Water for Elephants come out this weekend?! Shut the front door. If this is accurate, I’m going to need a review (that doesn’t give away too much) ASAP. And let me know if RPattz continues to be as gorgeous as ever. Seriously, that boy… Yum. Jess, I know one is coming for this and for the beginning of DW (also this weekend, right?), but if someone wants to give a brief email/FB review, I’m totes down with that as well. Also, if someone has the soundtrack to the new version of Jane Eyre – composer Dario Marianelli, the same guy who did Atonement – pleasepleaseplease find a way to get it to me. I have one track and it’s stunning.

I’m trying to rack my absolutely-fried brain if there’s anything else I should be taking this time to tell you. Host fam’s fine. We’re heading into the ‘hardest week of PST’ next week – not excited about that one at all. Keep me in your thoughts and fingers crossed for me. Language is still kickin’ my ass. Just finished a bomb-ass candy cane that Ms Elliott gave me before I left; it was delicious, for those of you that were wondering. Write to me; let me know what’s going on in YOUR lives. Keep me updated. I am really trying to rack my brain, ‘cause I am going through procrastination mode. Do NOT want to bust out the homework (even thought it’s NOT a lot!) and finish it for tomorrow’s language class. Yuck. Anyway, you know I love you all and am thinkin’ of you.

PS – Also, if anyone feels so inclined to send me swanky stickers that they think I would put on my water bottle, I’m TOTALLY willing to receive thoughs. Haha. It can be a silly as a sticker of the Sears/Willis Tower. Or one from the UK or New Zealand (*cough*Ffi/Jess and Kathryn*cough*), that works too. At the moment, it’s quite bare with only the Oz flag, the Tanzanian flag, and the SCUBA flag. Lame. ;)

10 April 2011

I'm running out of creative titles...

**WARNING: This somehow turned out to be quite a long entry. I apologize in advance. I guess I had more on my mind than I previously thought!**

I have officially discovered one of THE MOST AMAZING feelings on the face of the planet. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I assure you, I’m not. Over the course of the past few days, I’ve been going through some massive homesickness – it happens to everyone, I’m not too worried about it – and this evening, it’s only mild. The reason: I washed my hair. It wasn’t even a fully body wash, it was literally head flipped over a bucket and pouring water over it. BLISS-FUCKING-FUL. I can deal with the not bathing for like a week at a time, seriously, I can; it’s just the greasy-ass hair gets to me. And here’s another thing: I think someone should do a study as to the effects/correlation between cleanliness and happiness, but my mood instantly brightened after I finished washing my hair. And the same when I banya-ed last weekend. Maybe it’s just the realization of and sudden appreciation for all the wonderful little things, but it’s one of my favourite things I’ve experienced. :) Just thinking about this now cracks me up – I cannot WAIT to see Christina’s reaction when I come in to have my hair cut in two years. Hahahahaha. Dying.

Another thing I’ve come to realize is that I sincerely love the fact that I have a relatively big family back in the States. Like, I am so not kidding about this one, guys. Granted I might not see them as much as I would like – silly me, for always jaunting around trying to ‘save the world’ – I love them with my entire being. But despite the fact that I don’t live with them, they’re still mine. They’re still my brothers and sister and I would not change that for the world. I was looking through pictures on iPhoto (I should seriously stop doing that, it is making me miss home likeitismyjob!) and those three blue-eyed beauties (along with Mike, I guess… ;)) consistently make me smile. For example, looking at a picture of Em, I just giggle to myself about all of the wonderfully blonde things she’s done. I think that’s one of the things I’m having the most difficulties coming to terms with: that I’m living with a relatively small host-family (whom I very much adore – my apa asked me yesterday if I was drunk because I was in my so-tired-I’m-giggly-and-giddy phase) while everyone else has lots of little tykes to play with all the time. Also the fact that I’m more than likely not going to see my own siblings for two years, making them 23 (ew, Mike, I do NOT like that!), 13-ish, 11, and 9. Trippy shit. What kinds of personalities are they going to have? Are they still going to think I’m awesome? What are they going to be doing with their lives? What kind of shenanigans will I have missed? I was already nervous enough about them growing up as it is, and how they’d turn out, before I left for the Peace Corps, let alone now… And yet I wouldn’t give any of ‘em up for the world nor can I imagine my life without them or the big family I pretend to see myself with in the future.

[Oh, before I forget, I’ve definitely been in a snail mail writing mood, so I need whomever wants snail mail from K-stan to somehow message (either by email or FB) their address and I’ll get on it. Also, if you’re in the process of sending me stuff, know that letters are the best option of actually getting to me before my swearing-in date on 1 June, whereas packages and the like are better sent when I get my permanent site address in a few weeks. The length of time it takes something to get here is relatively similar to how it was in Africa (letters – a few weeks, packages – a bit longer), so be advised. I really do love getting mail, especially as internet probably won’t be all that easy to get if I’m in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard. Everyone gotten the hint yet? ;)]

Another random tangent: had a massive epiphany today while talking to K-18s about permanent site placement. I think, if I were to ever become a teacher, I honestly think it would be with younger kids. I don’t know why. And this thinking might COMPLETELY change after I get ‘settled’ into my secondary school in June. I just feel that I’m too goofy and out-there to really be a steady and consistent teenage-ish age teacher. If that makes sense at all. I mean, I’ll teach whomever I have to, but I think I like the constant inter- and reaction that littler kids give you when you’re teaching. This might be biased because of the amazing experiences I had in Africa, but it could also be that I’m finally figuring out things about myself and what I want to do with my life. What do you guys think? Am I better suited to teach kids my own mental age (sometimes that of about a four year old) or the older thought where you can possibly get them in their brain-molding stage (totes channeling John Elliott on that one!)?

Also, did my boys COMPLETELY fuck up their chance in the playoffs?  Last time I checked, they had just lost a game and were 8th seed… Any hope for them to reclaim themselves before it’s playoff time or are the REIGNING STANLEY CUP CHAMPS going to get fall short this time around?  Just so everyone that knows hockey and reads this knows: I am currently rocking my Steeger Leafs shirt today. And even had my picture taken with one of the other PCTs ‘cause his girlfriend lives in Toronto. Yeah, life is entertaining.

Speaking of photos, I really wish that I had consistent enough internet access so I could upload a few pics from the last few weeks (there aren’t THAT many, just one or two of which I’m really proud) and let two episodes of Fringe finished loading off iTunes. Anyone with mad computer skills want to start sending me hard drives or something filled with movies and current TV so I can keep myself updated? More so new release movies than old ones – quite a few PCVs have HDs from which we can jack things. LOVE it.

This afternoon, when a huge chunk of the PCTs (and a few K-18s) came to our ‘stadium’ for an American Play Date, I got to talking with one of the other PCTs – ironically, he graduated from LUC four years before I did – about academia. I know, I’m totally that dork, but the guy is mad fucking brilliant. He got his Masters from the University of Kent (but did it in Brussels?) in like international conflict res analysis or something. Totally right up my alley as his general focus was Is/Pal (HILARY!). Anyway, we were talking about geeky/vital literature I should read on the subject and his thoughts on European v. American teaching methods, etc. when we got to the point of my story. All of this and talking to this kid makes me SO excited to get back to school. Of course, the whole thought of having to write a 5k word essay like twice a month – if not more – terrifies me, but the act of learning and being in such awesome places completely captivates me. Especially if it’s a subject I can’t stop learning about/love/feel is so important. I also asked him his thoughts on getting a Masters v. jumping straight into a PhD, like had been recommended to me before, really got my brain excited for what could happen after the Peace Corps. Anyone have any thoughts or feelings on the subject?

As of right now, I think that’s all that’s going through my head. I have a few days before I actually get internet on the 13th-ish, so I’ll probs add a few things here or there before then. Know I love you all.

PS – Seriously, WHEN IS THE SOUNDTRACK FOR CATCH ME IF YOU CAN GOING TO COME OUT?! I’m going CRAZY with only a few promo/stolen tracks from the show. I need some more Norbert singin’ jazz/blues and Aaron Tveit completely KILLING it in every song he sang (aka ‘Goodbye’ – it’s pretty much on repeat my entire life). Mom, seriously, as soon.as.you.get.it, can you please send it to me?! Along with H2SiB and DrZ? And whatever else?
PPS –  (Updated at 10.05 p on 12 April 2011) My family’s cow had a baby last night. I’m kind of in love with it. Can someone figure it out so that I’ll be able to have one when I get home? That’d be great, please and thanks. :)

06 April 2011

Update number icky.

Talk about effing surreal. I’ve been with my family in the village of Kengesh for a little under a week and let me tell you – what a flipping almost-week it’s been.

My family is a little out of the norm in terms of how many people are in it and their ages, but at the moment, I think they’re pretty swanky and they’re all mine. I’ve got my apa and ata (mom and dad), apa’s youngest son and his wife (31 and 22 respectively), and then me. There’s a little part of me that wants to be able to run around the house and outside with a bunch of little brothers and sisters and have them shout (lovingly) at me when I get my Kyrgyz wrong. But at the same time, I’m kind of embracing the alone time that my family is letting me have. Whether that’s because I’m not being outgoing enough and making an ass of myself or they’re realizing that I need space/adjustment and I’ll break out of my shell soon enough. Who knows? They’re also AMAZING at helping me with my homework and shouting the alphabet at me so I can learn it phonetically. Like I said at the beginning of the entry, it’s only been a little under a week, and I’ve got two months with these people, we’ll be besties/family by the end of this, don’t even sweat it. :)

The weather here is bordering on the edge of bipolar. Yesterday it was GORGEOUS. Like, mid- to high-60s, allowing the PCTs and I to run around with a bunch of kids in t-shirts and shorts (so much fun, btw). But today, I woke up to it SNOWING. And as it’s about 5 pm now, we’ve accumulated about an inch, inch and a half. Not only is Kyrgyzstan the size of Nebraska, but it even has the janky weather that can’t make up its mind! Haha. Seriously kicking myself over the lack of woolen socks/wardrobe choices I decided to pack for this adventure. Note to self: need more warm tights, better socks to put over said tights, and scarfs/kikoys.

SO fucking ready for my shower/bath/washcloth+bucket cleaning in a few hours. You have NO IDEA. My hair is so mingin’. The twisty bangs bein’ bobby-pinned back has become a staple for me (along with a few other PCTs) in terms of hairdos. Also include the braids and giant hair poof/bun/pony tail. And of course, who’s the dumbass that forgot to pack real-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner and is therefore rationing off her tiny travel bottle of Herbal Essence? That would be this kid. Well done, Hopkins. You’re off to a great start. Aaaaaaand, just realize that despite the fact that Mom and I bought a swanky quick-dry towel, that it was not packed. Yeah, I really am rockin’ this whole Peace Corps thing. *face to the palm* I don’t so much mind the act of not bathing, but I think that coming from our Western ideology where cleanliness is a top priority to one where it’s a priority, but doesn’t need to happen daily (that probably didn’t come out right) is really making this more difficult. I mean I’m sure I smell a little bit – hello, deodorant! – but having to interact with other Americans and needing (at least for right now until our mentalities switch to more Kyrgyz-dominated) to at least come off as ‘clean’ is wearing thin.

The Kyrgyz language itself is fucking hard. I have no idea what I thought was going to happen when I got here, but this wasn’t it. The whole having to figure out grammar rules along with new alphabets and vocab is daunting. There’s a part of me that appreciates the methodology behind what they’re trying to do, but the other part of me is screaming: ‘Just let me run around like an idiot and make mistakes. I don’t necessarily need to know how to conjugate words to create 3rd person negation depending on whether the word ends in a vowel or consonant to survive in the country!’ I did fine while I was in Jambiani just picking up the language verbally as and when I needed it then getting corrected when I got something wrong. I couldn’t tell you what the ‘right’ way of learning a language is, but the frustration of not picking it up quickly enough makes me think. I wish that I could take a picture of my notes to show you the madness. Haha.

The food here is so different. I can totally see why the PC10 (Peace Corps 10) is going to be such a bitch for girls. The diet consists of a lot of bread and starch, think potatoes, with lots and lots and lots and lots of tea. Also, things here have insane amounts of onion in them. I think this experience is either going to make me fucking love onions or I am going to be THE BEST onion picker-outer ever. No jokes. Combine all of that with the smaller amounts of physical activity the winter/weather allows people and one can understand why volunteers fluctuate with weight. Haha. If anyone knows or has thoughts and ideas about indoor exercise routines or has exercise DVDs they want to ship my direction – DO IT. No, seriously. I don’t even care what kind – ab work, gluts, cardio… I don’t care. SEND IT. Slash hook a sister up via email. Maybe this’ll be the perfect excuse for me to really get my ass in gear in terms of getting fit. *fingers crossed*

Ah, the snow has finally stopped. Thank goodness. Now when I run out to take my banya (shower) I won’t completely freeze my arse off. This will definitely be an interesting one to add to the list. Thanks to my extensive amount of camping adventures (Tif and Mom, you seriously do not know how much I thank you for making me do all that stuff!), the outhouse wasn’t that big of a surprise. My thighs are going to be BOSS by the time 27 months has gone by, just sayin’.

Know I’m thinkin’ of you all. Some days more than others, but I’m getting by. Keep thinking of me. Sending you all my love – and trying to send all of this cold weather your direction so that I can get on with life and stop wearing a zillion layers everywhere – and well wishes.

PS – Skippy: HOW MANY MORE DAYS?! I am SO excited for you it isn’t even funny. I demand a picture ASAP. Got it?
PPS – If anyone has been trying to get a hold of me via phone or text message, the reason I haven’t been responding is because I no longer have a phone. It was nicked while I was using the internet in Bishkek. Literally snatched right out of my bag as my back was turned. T.I.K. ;) So, that’s two BlackBerries down, both of which were stolen in developing (is that the PC term nowadays?) countries. I really should learn, don’tcha think? Next time, next time; it’ll stick next time. Just hold tight until I get my phone here in K-stan and then I’ll do the pass-around-the-number thing. Be patient! Haha.