26 February 2012

I'm singin' the blues (and not as well as Etta)...

I’m hitting my One Year of Service blues.  It’s a normal part of the Peace Corps experience for PCVs once we reach our 11-15 month mark; one of many on our natural roller coaster of emotions during service. It’s normal but it definitely sucks. A lot. Been struggling with lots of things in regards to these silly Blues (I wonder if they would be more manageable if Hugh Laurie or Michael Buble sang them…?), but with the help and kind words from family and friends – seriously, you guys are LIFESAVERS for listening to me bitch as much as I do – I’ve been slowly getting through them. Just bear with me for a little while longer and hopefully when the winter fades away, so will the Blues.

It’s not as if I don’t like being the Peace Corps and am completely ready to give it all up just to go back to being a crazy, over-indulgent American, ‘cause that’s not the case at all. I do love being in Peace Corps, I’m just going through that phase of feeling unfulfilled and useless at site. It probably doesn’t help that I just spent like 6 weeks out of country (in Morocco and Thailand, yes please!) and speaking mainly English all the time. In order to deal with this, I’m trying to interact more with my host-family and do more things with people in the village and just being more pro-active about projects and life in K-stan in general. And one thing that a friend of mine helped me to realize is that no matter what I actually do in country, one of the things that Peace Corps has helped me discover is who I am as a person. Yes, cue cheesy inspirational music… It’s helping me figure out what I love about myself, what I like in my life, what I don’t like, etc. And that’s something that I will hopefully take with me for the rest of my life. Kuday burusaa (‘god willing’ in Kyrgyz).

Which then brings me to the point of my Americanness. While I don’t love-with-every-fibre-of-my-being my Americanness, Peace Corps has helped me appreciate it so much more than I had in the past. And I cannot wait to take those feelings of appreciation back to the States/UK with me after I’m finished with this experience. For the longest time, I was always the girl who wanted to get out and travel and experience any- and everything she could. [I still am, but that’s beside the point.] And in doing so, I ventured to the UK where I was always dubbed the ‘Most Un-American American’ any of my friends had ever met. And that was something on which I really prided myself. I don’t think I have really changed that much in terms of attitude or general personality, but I most definitely am an American and would not have it any other way. However, don’t expect me to go get a biker tattoo complete with bald eagle and giant American flag; I’m not quite there yet. But I really am so thankful that I have the access to silly TV shows whenever I need them or can go out for a meal that doesn’t take 3 hours from start to finish, unless I make it last that long by talking or giggling with friends. I would not give up the fact that I am the biggest fucking theatre geek on the planet and had the ability – either in Chicago or on trips with Mom/Ri to NYC – to go see 5 plays in the course of a weekend. I love that in America, being a 24 year old woman who is NOT married isn’t a bad thing. I love that in America, I could go to the grocery store and buy a whole bunch of things that aren’t oil, potatoes, or sheep fat to make a delicious, homemade meal (oh my God, a spinach and strawberry salad with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing would be so fucking primetime right now!).

Maybe what’s frustrating me so much about this whole thing is the fact that I feel like I’ve lost so much of ‘ME’ over the course of the past year. As silly and crazy as I can be with certain people in country, I cannot be the Sarah Hopkins most of you knew back in the States. I have to curb my stupid pop-culture referencing (and yeah, I’ll admit it, sometimes that’s a little weird), I have to push down the fact that I would be much more willing to jam out (and sing at the top of my lungs) to a Broadway musical soundtrack then some club album. I’m just not quite me anymore. And I need to get that back, but don’t know how.

With all of that bitching and complaining being said, here are some of the awesome things to which I’m looking forward in the next few months, PC and Kyrgyzstan-related:

-       Spring.
-       My mom (and possibly Tif) coming to visit.
-       A possible visit from the padre (or some crazy adventure in Russia?).
-       The K-20s finally showing up.
-       Summer.
-       The possibility of being a PCVT and helping the newbies through PST.
-       Two different summer camps I’m helping put together.
-       Jess coming to visit.
-       Fresh fruits and vegetables (that don’t cost me half my month’s salary).
-       Hopefully starting up a few projects I love and can get behind.
-       My kindle coming back into my possession.
-       New Game of Thrones season.

I just really need to keep focusing on all of the good things about this experience and taking one day at a day. One ‘accomplishment’ for each day and then going on from there. I can do this. I really can. :) The Blues are a natural part of this experience and so is getting over it. Be patient with me and I’ll get there.

You all are so amazing. I miss and love you so much. Think about you guys so often. Let me know what’s going on in your lives (JOE – this means you!). Don’t hear from nearly enough of you on a regular basis. Haha.