Friday, May 21, 2010

New Blog


So, I've decided to create a brand new blog for my time as Peace Corps Volunteer. You can follow along at The ol' blogspot will probably be pretty quiet with this new blog in my life. I may come here occasionally to write about something unrelated to Niger, but if you want to follow my life, head to the WordPress. Thanks your eyes and support!


Monday, May 17, 2010

The package

Last Monday, a two-year journey ended.

I knew that day was going to change my life forever, so I planned ahead and took the afternoon off. I was to pick up a package, one I had hope to get sooner but didn't thanks to UPS' inconvenient hours, that contained this life-changing information. Of course, I spent most of the day in Brookings, so I had 50-minute drive from the end of my work day to picking up that package. I played loud music and podcasts to quiet my wild thoughts, but I couldn't concentrate on anything but that package.

Once I arrived to the UPS store, I made a promise to myself not to open it there. I wanted that moment to be somewhere special, or anywhere that isn't a UPS parking lot. I thought about Falls Park, but since it was pouring, I decided on maybe a coffee shop or bar.

My hands and voice trembled a bit with I told the woman behind the counter my name and gave her my ID. I signed for the packaged and gripped it tightly, not believing it was real.

Making the drive cross town, I realized that I didn't want to be in a public place, I'd rather be in my apartment, so I compromised with a trip to the liquor store for a beer to stop the trembling, which was still flowing through my legs and hands. I bought a six-pack of my favorite summer beer and went home.

Once I got home, I cleaned a few dishes and changed my clothes. These are things I don't normally do when returning home from work, but I did them because I wasn't ready to open that package.

Two years ago, I began the process to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I applied in June 2008 and was told that I needed to wait because funding was on hold. That August, they told me I need more specific skills if I wanted to be a volunteer, despite all the experience I did have. So disappointed and discouraged, I withdrew my application and looked for a new path.

The aspiration lingered in the back of my mind as regret, yet I still had the power to change. After a mini life crisis last April, I reopened my application. The interview came in July, nomination in August and medical clearance in February.

Then, silence. Months of silence and not knowing what would happen to me. I went on with life and almost removed this from my future. I kept working on The Post and start to examine routes to put my life in a better state. Yes, I still wanted to be volunteer, but I couldn't continue to put my life on hold.

One day, notice came that a package was on its way. I didn't know what was in it, but that it was coming from the Peace Corps Headquarters. It seemed like it would never come, but there it was, on my coffee table. It just seemed too monumental to rush through opening.

After stalling for 20 minutes, I grabbed a beer and opened the package. On a white folded piece of paper was answers. For the first time, I had answers.

The piece of paper wanted to send me to Niger, Africa, leaving July 7. It asked me to become a community and youth educator/English language educator. The rest of the package was filled with forms and information booklets, but I couldn't take my eyes of that piece of paper.

Soon after, the decision making began. I called my parents and friends and gorged the Internet for information on Niger. I ran through possible scenarios and imagined how hard it was going to be to leave my two amazing jobs and all of these wonderful people.

The Peace Corps gave me 10 days to make a decision. I needed 10 seconds. I knew I was going before I opened that package. This is what I wanted for so long and I could finally have it.

Before accepting, I talked to my boss at the Foundation, my cohorts at The Post, my parents and a few of my friends. I spoke to them as if I hadn't made a decision, but they all knew I had.

I accepted on Wednesday and have been in a whirlwind of resignation letters, visa applications and visits with friends (oh, and the 2,000-word story I wrote for The Post and the two-day conference that came with it). Now that a few major things are behind me, I am starting to really tell people about the Peace Corps as the decision sinks in. I still have paperwork to do before I can start to pack, but the weeks leading up to my departure will be filled mostly with friends, family and preparation.

That package did change my life, and I wanted it to. Remember, I asked for it. It took some time to get here, but I am glad it did. I needed all that time to be ready to open it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today, what I deserved finally came true. It took me a long time to figure that out, but finally I got it. And, it may not work out, but I got it. And that's all I ever wanted — what I deserved.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

As little kids, we need our moms. If we are lucky, they take care of our bruises, nightmares and hurt feelings. They give us food, shelter and lot more love than we deserve.

As we grow, so does our independence. We don't want our mothers calling to check up on us or invading time we'd rather spend with friends and significant others. They become a nuisance rather than a guiding light.

When we leave home, we still believe we don't need our mothers. They can't teach us anything we don't already know. We start to realize how human our parents are and tend to disregard their love and affection because of it.

But there comes a point in our adult lives where our parents all of sudden become significant again. When going home for a visit is a treat rather than a burden. When saying goodbye seems to hurt much more than it ever did. It takes some of us longer to reach that point than others, but most adults tend to make the realization that we still do need our mothers to take care of our bruises, nightmares and hurt feelings.

I need mine my mom. When I am scared, hurt or sick, she is the one I turn to. And, at 25 living just a mere 3 and half hours away, I miss her more than ever. I tear up every time I have to say goodbye. She is the best woman I've ever met and I'm so fortunate to have a mother who loves and spoils me and wants to be in my life. Even more though, I am blessed to be allowed to call her my mother.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"It really hit me the most one night when she said to me 'You need a change. You are stressed, angry and pissed off all the time. This isn't like you. I want the old you back. You need to change something.'"

"Well, I am glad someone else said it first."

"You feel the same way?"

"Yeah, it's time to change."

Friday, May 07, 2010

Home run

“Home run,” he said as walked by and touched my shoulder. I said thanks, but felt guilty for accepting that kind of credit. I didn’t edit the film, nor shoot it, but those things are really minor details to the heart of the production: the stories. And what I did do is not even worth mentioning.

Still, people complimented me on the work I did and said I was key to the project. I think they are just being nice. I was just the person off in the corner, there to put out a fire if one should ignite.

When I received these gestures, I’d give credit to where it was due or just say a simple “Thank You” without a pull in my heart. My job was to take from the artist to the crowd. It’s not my work and I wouldn’t let myself become artistically, like a piece of you is encrusted in the project, attached to it.

I found her darting through the crowds, wearing a pink and purple blouse. It always makes me nervous seeing an interview subject after a piece has been unveiled. It’s my constant fear that the people who’ve shared their stories with me feel that I’ve wronged them. It happens quite frequently, but is never less painful.

She saw me, eyes lit up and gave me a hug.

At that moment, I felt that I did something good. I brought an artist to the incredible story of this woman’s son and the amazing legacy he left when he died at 24. The creative then shared it with the world.

I didn’t do anything, but, with this woman’s arms around me, I pretended that I did.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Today, I saw a dear friend of mine who lives far away and had a baby a few months ago. We were joined by another friend who is ready to pop with her second child.

One of my other dear friends had her second child today.

So many babies. I am not having them, but everyone around me seems to be giving birth.

I already have a child that demands all of my attention, keeps me up at night and wants to be fed on a constant basis. At least it doesn't spit up.

The others are more cute and easier to cuddle with, but I think I am best at parenting the one I have. For now.