Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I made Christmas Dinner!

I am officially an adult now: I made Christmas dinner for people who are not related to me.

Yup. That is my barometer of what separates the girls from the women: buying an already roasted chicken and making a bunch of side dishes.

!

Seriously folks. I did make a Christmas dinner for my 3 site mates (Jane (newbie), Jessica (you know her - link), and Mike [link] AND, I invited my Az bestie, Könül and her ma, Büba.

It was pretty exciting to make a "traditional" Christmas dinner, especially because Azerbaijanis are always asking me what are American national dishes and I always come up with a blank. American national dishes? Does such a thing exist?

Well, after making a big feast, I realize we do have some traditional culinary delights going for us: Mac & Cheese, Parker House rolls, yams, cornbread & apple stuffing, roasted carrots, pumpkin pie, and of course, cookies!

Ah, it was so baraket.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dushbere

Oh goodness, do I love me some meat.

That's right. I said it: meat.


I rarely get to eat meat. I mean, I rarely buy meat. It is expensive (when compared with all the other things I could buy with meat money) and to be honest, a little gross. You haven't really lived until you've been to an Azerbaijani meat bazar. Those are pretty strong words, but I'm standing by them - an Azerbaijani meat bazar is something to see.

Anyway, the point is that I rarely get to eat meat and I love meat. I'm a red meat fanatic. I tried once to be a vegetarian (I made it for a couple years), but gave up my socio-political stance for a medium-rare steak.

And of course, living in Alaska, I get a fair amount of free-ranging tundra meat, so...it could be worse.

I had a point...oh yeah, so, I rarely get to eat meat in Azerbaijan. Usually, I only eat red meat when I've been invited to someone's house, or when I invite myself over. In Azerbaijan, I often make the deal: if I bring the meat, will you teach me to make [insert Azerbaijani meal here]?

This time, I convinced Könül to teach me to make dushbere [link]. A delicious, garlicy, dumpling soup, I love this stuff. It was soooo goood.

It takes a bit of work (reserve at least 3 hours), but it is worth it. When I visit AK, I will totally make this at anybody's house...I mean, if you provide the ground sheep meat :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flu Symptoms?

For some reason, I have been craving mayonnaise [link]. I am not sure why. I think it may be a belated flu symptom, as for the last three days, I have been ridiculously nauseous.

Anyway, the point being, I've been craving mayonnaise, so this morning, I decided to do something about it. Along with my cup of applesauce (the only thing I've been able to eat this last week), I had a cupful of stolichni salad. So far, craving fed and I feel okay.

Stolichni Salad
2 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
2 eggs
2 medium cucumbers (or pickles)
1 cup canned peas, drained
1 cup shredded chicken (obviously cooked)
2/3 to 1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, bring the potatoes, carrots and eggs to a boil. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and peel everything. Dice potatoes, carrots, eggs and peeled cucumbers into really tiny cubes. Combine with peas, chicken, mayo, dill, and season to taste. Chill and serve with bread (or sans bread, it is up to you.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things that make it feel like Christmas when you live in a secular-Muslim Country:

1. Elf [link]: Seriously, the best holiday movie ever!
2. Food Network's 12 Days of Cookies e-newsletter [link]
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas [link]
4. Nutcracker the Motion Picture as performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet (you can find this amazing version on iTunes for $9.99!)
5. Homemade holiday iTunes playlists including Bing Crosby & David Bowie, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mariah Carey, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Straight No Chaser, and Frank Sinatra
6. Christmas episodes of your favorite American t.v. shows (I'm talking about Community [link], Modern Family [link],and Glee [link])
7. Peace Corps Christmas parties; and, of course,
8. Holiday packages from friends and family back home.

This is my third Christmas away from home, with one more to go...but, it ain't so bad. My friend Lori (who's got about 6 inches on me) hung snowflakes in my apartment and a group of us have already made snicker-doodles (those were for you Tom, I remember they are your favorites :) ).

Monday, December 13, 2010

27 Months

So, for those of you who are counting, December 10 was my official COS (Close Of Service) date.

What does that mean?

Well, if I had not extended [link], December 10 would have been my last day in Peace Corps, my 27-months mark.

Instead, I am here for another 13 months.

Huh? That makes no sense (if you count a year as 12 months).

A one month vacation back in the US adds a total of 13 months that I must continue as a PCV before I'm cut loose...which means, my new COS date is sometime in January 2012.

Anyhoo...27 months...geez. A big part of me has no idea where the time went. I feel like I just got here (albeit, I can carry on a conversation in Azerbaijani now). A small part of me feels sort of ambivalent. All the Az7s (and now the Az8s) are jiving with their newest milestone (December 10 marked the one year anniversary of [link] Az7s and Az8s swore-in [link] as Volunteers on December 9th) and I feel well, I feel a bit left out. 27 months is a big milestone, but I don't get a good-bye party [link] or a "congratulations on your 2 years and 3 months of service" sticker.

Nope. I get a flu shot, a dental cleaning, and three days of flu-like symptoms. Definitely not awesome.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can't Find that Perfect Gift?

Visit Talysh Socks to purchase a pair of deliciously warm and comfy handmade knitted socks from the Lankaran region of Azerbaijan.
The socks take about 2 weeks to ship and 100% of the profits go to local community projects.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fun Things You Can Do, Too

Twice a year, a very special tradition happens in a very beautiful town of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Ingloids, Americans, you-name-it, travel to a beautiful church outside the city of Qax to make a pilgrimage to commemorate St. George's Day

Of course, earlier this year I was being dorky and decided not to be a joiner. Big mistake. I missed out on awesomeness. This time around, I wasn't gonna be a party-pooper and woke up especially early to make the 8 a.m. bus to Qax (about an hour and ten minute trek from Zaq).


Not only did I get to hang with some extra special Americans (all my PCV peps, holla!), but I also got to see several Az friends. I love "hey, what's up?" head nods. It makes me feel like I'm a local.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

National Peace Corps Association

Shameless plug...

Hey all you newly-minted RPCVs and friends & family of PCVs -

Have you ever heard of the National Peace Corps Association? Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the NPCA supports Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community through networking and mentoring. It is the longest-standing advocate for an independent and robust Peace Corps and its values.*

Seriously folks...they are pretty awesome and they have a Facebook-like online community for R & current PCVs. Check it out

National Peace Corps Association website [link]
NPCA Facebook like website-thing [link]
Löki is a member of the Serving Volunteer Advisory Group [link]

*Information gleaned from http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/about/

Monday, November 22, 2010

Qurban Bayramı or Eid al-Adha

I just decided I am going to start a new label entitled, Islam Ed. This is the old "Ramazan 2010" label and now, like any good resolution, will focus on us continuing our journey of Islam education.

This week, we be talking about Qurban Bayramı.

In Arabic, Qurban Bayramı is called Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice. It signifies when God commanded Abraham (İbrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (İsmail) and at the last moment, when Abraham proved he really was gonna do it, God gave a ram to be sacrificed instead.

Yeah, it's a pretty intense holiday. Two days ago, I saw a Lada [link] filled to the brim with sheep skins. That set me back a step.

Anyway, like last year, I again visited my friends in the village and enjoyed a delicious meal, wonderful conversation, and went home arms full of bounty. Personally, Qurban Bayramı is one of my favorite holidays in Az, but then again, I am partial to sheep meat :).

*For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Adha

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank You

I've recently gotten into creating custom iTunes playlists and decided that a Thanksgiving playlist would make me feel happier about the upcoming season and the eventual departure of all my Az6 peps.

It didn't, but that's because, does anybody know of a Thanksgiving-centric song? Seriously. Do they even exist?

Actually, the actual playlist had nothing to with it. A few hours ago, I was listening to Thank You by Dido (Thanksgiving-y) and I just kept replaying my final hug from Emma [link] and thinking how hard the next few months will be.

And then I realized, this ain't a time to be sad! This is a time to be thankful. It is a Thanksgiving playlist after all.

So, to set my mood in the right direction, let me tell you what I am thankful for:
Besties. RPCVs, Alaskans, one specific Dominicana, and of course, one eccentric DaddyLew;
Memories. Bacon-pushing, Dive-bombing seagulls,Interventions;
Family. Older sisters and brothers, cousins' twitter accounts, and former Girl Scout leaders;
Sisters who work at Apple (and iTunes accounts);
Friends. Dictionaries & pasta machines, emails written without return key hits, YouTube suggestions;
UAF professors & staff.
The color orange and antimatter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I talk about race, a lot.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that I talk about race a lot.

I am assuming I talk about it more now than I ever did back home or he probably wouldn't have pointed it out.

Anyway, I thought about it a bit and I have to agree. I do talk about race, a lot. It is highly probable that if you talk with me for more than a half hour, I am going to bring it up.

But why?

  • Is it that race is just on my mind more now than it was back in the US (Azerbaijan is pretty homogenous and, let's face it folks, I stick out)?
  • Is it the constant race-related issues that I face everyday (my hair is really unusual for locals and is often the topic of passing conversations)?
  • Is it that there are times when I am in that weirdly uncomfortable spot, having to speak for the entirety of my minority-peps back home (anyone else ever been asked, "How is the US Black community dealing with the current GLBT bullying)?

Naw, it really is none of these things. Honestly, race is always on my mind.

It seems weird, but there isn't that much of a difference (between Azerbaijan and the US) when it comes to the questions and inquisitiveness. I think people just can't place me, so they ask. It is just, now, I can talk about my race and how my race has affected me much more openly. This experience has made me think about my racial identity and made me fight for every pixel. If you think about it, that is pretty cool. This experience is as much about self-growth as anything else, so...stick a stamp on me because I'm Developed[ing].

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes, It's Weird.

Right now, I am sitting in my bedroom-slash-living room, next to my mid-sized space heater, typing on my computer and I am experiencing that "I'm a PCV" feeling.

It's weird.

Ugh. I wish I could explain it to you. You'd know it if you've ever been a PCV. You pause, look to your right, then to your left, listen for a moment, and it hits you, you're a PCV living thousands of miles from home, in some polar opposite [from America] country, and you've [enter text here - just celebrated your second birthday in country, ate some smuggled-in bacon, read an email that made you tear up...].

That does not do the feeling justice. It really isn't a whole lot and it goes away in about twenty seconds. It's just...during those 20 seconds everything feels awfully surreal. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween 2010

...after careful thought and deliberations, I have decided not to post pictures of this year's Halloween costume. I will, however, post pictures of our awesome Halloween weather. Goodness, seasons are interesting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To Learn A Language

Somewhere along the list of reasons a person joins Peace Corps is "to learn a foreign language". It's definitely a bonus, a perk, a catalyst to the PC process. I mean, I was totally interested in learning a foreign language when I put pen to page and joined up.

And then I freaked out (if you haven't figured this out yet, I freak out, a lot).

A LANGUAGE?! Was I kidding myself? Learning a foreign language is hard. It's scary. It's past frustrating.

Then, you get to Welcome Week and everybody tells you not to freak out (so, you freak out more). You get to PST [link] and everybody tells you it will be fine (it's not). You get to site [link] and you think you are starting to understand (you aren't).

Really, learning a foreign language ain't an easy thing. I mean, duh. You aren't just learning a language, you are learning a culture, a way of expressing one's self within a totally different context. In Azerbaijan, you don't say, "Have a great time!" you say, "May your time pass well." It just ain't the same.

Of course, you get it. You have to work at it, but you do. Now, when I speak in English, I find myself re-structuring my sentences to make sense to an Azerbaijani English speaker. I don't say words in English that I know sound like bad words in Azerbaijani (that's why if you ask me, I say I am ill, not sick") and I stay away from 5-dollar words.

So, I guess it isn't the language that is hard, it's learning the culture behind it. Geez. Those, "ah-ha" moments get you sometimes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cadılar Bayramı

A little mask making!
and just in time for our happy Halloween festivities, a box from some very good friends arrived and we were all able to enjoy a little Hocus Pocus!
Happy Orange Holiday Everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's About to EXPLODE!

As many of you know, I do clubs [link]. Most of my clubs focusing on improving English-speaking skills and preparing for FLEX exams [link]; however, J and I have recently branched out.

That's right, we have branched out to other types of clubs. Mostly because service is as much about the Volunteer as it is about the community. If all you do is try to meet your community needs, you may lose yourself - not to mention, you won't introduce your community to who you are and your interests (which may inspire them to try something new).

Anyway, J and I have started a science club. In Az, most science classes shy away from hands-on experimentation - which probably makes for a very long science lecture. Some of my fondest memories revolve around Andre's Honors Chem class and the titration tests we used to do.

Of course, here in Az, hydrochloric acid is not readily available - so J and I are trying out the small fun things. Our first club, we played with eggs and different liquids (such as coke, tea, and water). This last club, we used vinegar and baking soda to make mini-volcanoes. This week, it's oobleck [link]!

Any suggestions for next week?

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm A Little Nuts

Last week, Jessica and I peeled, quartered, and seeded 40 + lbs of apples. 10 lbs went to apple sauce and apple pie filling [link]. 30 lbs went to my cider making experimentation [link].

Next weekend, I am doing it all again. I really like apples.





Löki's Pot Licking Apple Sauce Recipe
3 lbs of apples (I use mostly green, but you can mix it up)
1 cup apple juice or cider
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
2 - 4 Tablespoons honey

Peel, quarter, and seed apples. In a large pot, combine apples and juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for an hour. Remove lid and stir. The apples should be slightly mushy. Continue to simmer, without the lid, stirring every 15 minutes (breaking up apple pieces). When the sauce has almost reached your desired consistency, add spices and honey. Allow to cook for another half hour or so and serve. Personally, I like some apple chunks in mine, but if you want a smooth sauce, run it through a food mill.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Ode To Jessica

So, by now, you all should know my Az7 site mate, Jessica.

She is pretty fantastic. My mom is always yelling at me for treating her like my [baby] sister, but hey, she is like my sister. She puts up with my constant advice giving, my intense mood swings, and is always willing to lend a hand when I decide to do something ridiculously crazy (like peel and core 40 lbs of apples).

Jessica has seen me at my worst and still talks me (at least once a day). She definitely is a key figure in keeping me sane, especially over the last month where everyday I question whether extending is really the best decision (it is, it is just hard).

She never gets mad at me and whenever I get too self righteous, she just ignores whatever I said and still does what she knows is best for her.

She is pretty fantastical. Definitely the best Az7 site mate for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Have Rules

I just got done reading some other PCV blogs and it made me think of all the blogging rules I follow but never really talk about.

I don't talk about them because they seem so...obvious. Now, I know I am not the Blog Queen, nor are my rules applicable to everyone. Viewpoints are different, goals are different, reasons for blogging are different, but I still feel that there are times when we all forget who our audience quite possibly could be. 

I mean, I honestly often forget Azerbaijanis read my blog. Every now and again, a local friend will make a comment in passing and I'm reminded that I cannot just post willy-nilly stuff. I never post pictures of local's faces, mainly because I always forget to ask for their permission and secondly, fathers don't like their girls' pictures up on the interwebs. It has a bad connotation here.

I rarely (if ever) blog about my political views and I shy away from my religious affiliation because locals read my blog. I also try not to describe much about my family or my life back in the states because it just gets me into trouble. I always tell the truth, but there are things that would take too long to explain to friends here about my life there.

And finally, I try really hard to stay away from cultural generalizations. Azerbaijan is as diverse as the US and making all encompassing statements really does not help anything.

Again, these are only my rules and I apply them only to myself. I just wanted you all to know them and know why I follow them.

P.S. If you did not get a good look at my hair before...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

UFC in the Hiz-ouse!

So most people know I love Star Trek TNG. I mean, the first man who does not balk at the idea of getting hitched at the Star Trek Experience Hall [link] in Las Vegas better watch out, because
It.
Is.
On.

Anyway...I digress. The point is, most people know I love TNG. Most people don't know that I also love UFC [link] (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I got into this amazing show of masculine...physicality...a few years ago while living with some pretty neat dudes. Yup. I am a fan of the octagon (and Joe Rogan [link], go figure).


Again, I digress. I like UFC. I also like traditions. Doesn't sound like those two should go together but, they do. We started it a few months ago. My male site mates and I would throw together some pizza (actually, that's me. I make the pizza. Last week, (homemade) Jim Beam BBQ Chicken Pizza [link] ) and watch a fight.

I love it. I get my UFC fix and I get to spend some quality time doing what I would have done in the US if I wasn't a PCV. It makes me feel a little more, normal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Come On Peoples (Congrats to Tracy!)

This is more of a celebratory post for Tracy, and a small chastising one to you all (um, my faithful readers). Tracy J. won the Ramadan 2010 Löki's Effort to Increase Friends' and Familys' Knowledge of Islam (and Ramadan) [link] Contest!

Of course, she was the only one who submitted contest questionnaire answers (and she got every answer correct).

Seriously, folks. A beautiful, Azeri handmade silk scarf was not enough incentive?

Anyway, here are her answers. Congratulations Tracy (who also happens to be a PC Nominee [link]!) Your scarf is on its way, today.

1. The holy book of Islam is called the Qur'an.

2. The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations every Muslim must do in order to live a good and faithful life.

3. These obligations are (1) sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith (Shahadah); (2) performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day (Salat); (3) paying an alms tax to benefit the poor and the needy (Zakat); (4) fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm); and (5) taking a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).

4. The 9th month of the Islamic calendar is called Ramadan.

5. During this month, Muslims fast, offer up more prayers and focus more on worship and contemplation.

6. Breaking one's fast at the end of the day during the holy month is called Iftar.

7. The greater Jihad is the believer's struggle to live life centered around Islam. I think it's the greater Jihad (struggle) because it seems fairly easy to build your community according to your shared faith and to defend your faith against all others. However, given human nature, it is most difficult to live your life according to all of the "requirements" set forth by any particular faith. The world pulls us in many different directions which may not be in line with what our faith calls for/requires. Therefore, the greatest struggle (Jihad) of all is the personal struggle to live, proverbially, by the book.

8. One of the main differences between Sunni and Shi'a is the determination of who was the successor of the Prophet Mohammad [peace be upon him]. Sunnis believe it was Abu Bakr. Shi'as believe it was Mohammad's cousin Ali.

9. Sufism is not a sect of Islam. It is an aspect (Islamic mysticism).

10. Hijab is a barrier/cover.

Bonus: (1) Indonesia; (2) Pakistan; (3) Bangladesh; (4) Nigeria; (5) Egypt; (6) Turkey; (7) Iran; (8) Sudan; (9) Algeria; (10) Afghanistan

Just as a sidenote: I LOVE your blog!! I am a Peace Corps nominee and I look forward to becoming a volunteer! I wish you all the best along your journey to self-discovery! :)

Tracy

Monday, October 11, 2010

Seriously In Preparation - Year 3

Ever plan to spend 27 months in one place with the idea that on month 28 you would throw everything away, but then decide to try and eek out a third year without re-stocking?

I have and let me tell you, bad d e c i s i o n decision.

Bad, bad decision on thinking I could eek out another year with my disintegrated clothing. Seriously folks. They must not make clothes like they used to because my jeans bit the dust 6 months ago (that's right. I brought a single pair) and anything black I brought now looks heather gray.

Maybe it has to do with the hot water hand washing, but in my defense, have you ever hand wash all your clothes? Getting them clean without hot water is darn near impossible.

Anyway, my point is that I am not prepared for year 3. Ripped clothing, holes, tears, all that is a no go here - besides the fact that I am representin', I've got to look professional if I mean to get along socially. So, my sister is shopping for some supplemental pieces. I am a bit scared. She keeps talking about..jeggings? I am pretty sure those won't fly either.

My awesome fashion sense is shining through here- can't you tell?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Festivus in Danachi!

A weekend or two ago, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a community festival in my site mate Amy's village.

Now, first things first: I consider Amy my site mate even though see lives in a village outside of Zaqatala proper. She lives in the region, the region is my site (sort of), ergo, she is my site mate.

Secondly, Amy leaves COSes [link] in a little over a month. AAHHHGGGHHHH. It makes me sad.

Anyway, the village, Danachi, is 99% Avar*, and proudly so. A trip to Danachi is like visiting a foreign country inside a foreign country. The language is vastly different from Azerbaijani, the customs are different - let us talk about Lord of the Dance when it comes to their speedy feet -, and there are more horse-drawn carts than cars.

Unfortunately, I really cannot tell you much more than that. I am still confused as to the exact origins of the Avar. My friend Könül told me yesterday that they (she is part Avar) are Byzantine [link] in origin and migrated to the Dagestani area and then into this area centuries ago. I have no idea what language tree Avar comes from and I am utterly confused as to many of their traditions.

Still, like most of the Zaqatala region, the scenery is breathtaking and the people absolutely wonderful. It definitely is worth a peek, for those who venture this far.

*1% is Amy and she is American.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maintenance

Yo, ya'all, it is time for a maintenance check-in.

So, before I go having to write everyone emails, I thought I would post this on my bloggy blog and refer everyone here. I like readership and I like watching my readership numbers go up :)

  • Löki Gale Tobin has extended [link]. This means I will be in the Azerbaijan until January 2012.
  • LGT has plans to take her one month special leave (provided by Peace Corps) in late April/May. She is hoping to spend a week in New York, a few days in Anchorage, a week in Fairbanks, and a little over a week in Nome.
  • LGT still enjoys coffee, peanut butter, magazines, powdered sugar, books, brown sugar, dried fruit, salmon, baby corn, yada yada yada -[link to Mailing Instructions].
  • Her current projects include an art club, a kid science experiment club, photography clubs, and (inshallah) a Peace Corps World Map project.
  • LGT would love to travel - especially at any of the upcoming holidays and/ or for any of the overseas UFC fights. Contact her. She needs to see some family. Oh, Bali anyone?
  • Löki would also appreciate her mother and sister calling her. Hello??!!! Oh, and Ma, everyone would like you to send another Young Adult series. You have them all addicted. The DreamHunter series went over like ring worm - highly contagious it was...
Okay, any questions?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bullet Points on an RPCV's Resume

Probably one of the hardest things to do as a Peace Corps Volunteer is summarize your service into nifty resume nuggets.

How do you put two years of acclimation, assimilation and adaptation into a handy little paragraph? I mean, come on! That's like asking Löki to say Kirk was a better captain than Picard. It's impossible (literally, I almost had a conniption writing that sentence )!

So, to help all my Az6 friends prepare to re-entering the work force, I came up with some helpful buzz words that are sure-fire resume gold:

  1. Capable of long-range goal setting: Planning how best to use that one restroom break while on an 8 hour bus ride taught you this.
  2. Comfortable in a diverse range of settings: You're used to being the only one not getting what's going on - language barriers do that.
  3. Adaptable: When there's water, you drop everything to get home and turn on your pump, otherwise, your SOL until next Tuesday.
  4. Self-starter: You figured out how to re-attach your telephone cables and now your phone works, again!
  5. Independent and self-suffienct: You did spend every evening for 2 years entertaining yourself.
  6. Efficient user of time: Nothing teaches you how best to use your time when you've wasted hours waiting on the side of the road. 
  7. Excellent at managing funds: You know what it is like to have 4 days to pay day and nothing but a box of lentils.
  8. Personable and great to work with...uh...you were a PCV.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hair Update #7

Celebrate my two year anniversary with me 
(two years in the Corps heck ya!). 


Tell me what you think of my hair (two years after I sheared it all off in preparation for my Peace Corps service)!

Monday, September 27, 2010

blah. blah. blah.

So, if you've talked with me in the last few weeks, you know I am going through a, "blah." phase.

Uh. Why am I blogging about this? [I've the strong opinion that my blog is not the place to complain.]

Because, it all has to do with my year extension.

That is right. My extension is making me depressed. Follow me on this:

Extending is awesome.

  • You feel empowered because you know exactly what the stitch is for the next year. There are few surprises and your path is pretty well laid out in from of you.

On the other hand, extending hurts.

  • You miss your COS (Close of Service Conference). 
  • You suddenly realize there is no way your going to be able to say good-bye to everybody. 
  • The good-bye process isn't one day, but dragged out over months as all your fellow PCVs travel to say good-bye. 
  • Everybody is talking about their next step or "when they return to America" and you're still talking about finding aluminum foil in your bazaar. 
  • You realize your support network is peace-ing out. Nobody but nobody is in the same place as you are.

So. I am in a bit of a blah. phase. I am still going forward. I just feel like I am plowing through molasses to do it. I think it is pretty normal though. Any major life decision doesn't always go down smooth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My 27th Birthday Adventure

(Disclaimer: I loved, loved the people I spent my birthday with...I just could have cared less for the circumstances of getting to where those people where...)

5:30 a.m.: Woke up to participate in my first RD 625 audio-correspondence course.
9:00 a.m.: Site mates arrived at my house bearing instant coffee and flowers.
12:15 p.m.: Departed from my house.
12:35 p.m.: Hit up a small market in front of the bus station. A local store owner bought me Pringles and a can of Pepsi. He also kissed me three times on the cheek. Uncomfortable.
12:44 p.m.: Learned that the buses going through Shamaxi were sold out.
12:52 p.m.: Talked into taking a bus to another location.
1:00 p.m.: Left Zaqatala.
3:15 p.m.: Was dropped off by a mini-bus at a fork-in-the-road. Made a futile search for a toilet.
3:17 p.m: Picked up by three guys going to Agdash.
3:17:10 - 4:00 p.m.: Propositioned by said men and experienced a death defying high-speed Lata chase to Agdash.
4:01 p.m.: Was dropped off in Agdash.
4:08 p.m.: Called Mathais and updated him on our progress.
4:12 p.m.: Caught a bus going through Shamaxi.
5:45 p.m.: Stopped right outside of Shamaxi for a tea break. Annoying.
6:12 p.m.: Arrived in Shamaxi and proceed to walk up a very steep hill. Was called some rather unpleasant (and uncreative) names.
6:34 p.m.: Met up with Emma and walked to her house (awesome accommodations).
8:30 p.m.: Ate some DELICIOUS pot pie.
10 p.m.: Ate some even more DELICIOUS apple crisp. Listened to the most beautiful birthday speech ever.
11:10 p.m.: Began to lose in a round of Trivial Pursuit.
12:30 p.m.: Lost in Trivial Pursuit.
1 ish: Went to bed.

(Since then, had an awesome birthday party as a result of a box the Team sent me! Thank you so much guys.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

CONTEST

Hey! Remember that contest [link]? Well, here are the questions! Please email me your answers, along with your address and get ready to win! <lokitobin@gmail.com>
  1. The holy book of Islam is called:
  2. The [blank] of Islam are the five obligations every Muslim must do in order to live a good and faithful life.
  3. These obligations are (paraphrasing is okay):
  4. The 9th month of the Islamic calendar is called:
  5. What does a Muslim do during this month?
  6. Breaking one’s fast at the end of the day during the holy month is called:
  7. What is greater Jihad and why do you think it is called the greater Jihad?
  8. What is one of the main differences between Sunni and Shi’a?
  9. Is Sufism a sect of Islam?
  10. What is hijab?
BONUS: Name 10 countries with majority Muslim populations.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eid ul-Fitr

Pictures from our Eid ul-Fitr (the celebration at the end of Ramadan). Getting to the house was a bit of an...obstacle course (several over and unders of fences, walking through nut tree groves, and hoping over creeks).



Monday, September 13, 2010

And now, the rest of the story...

This is a hard blog post to write. A month ago, I thought it would be easy to write a witty and insightful post about Islam, especially after spending 29 days fasting. Yet, here I am struggling to put a couple sentences together.

Honestly, I am afraid I am going to lose some readers. I am afraid I am going to offend someone close to me. With the situation in the US, I feel like there isn’t a whole lot I can say without making someone upset.

So, what do I do? Do I say what I think? Do I forgo the entire post and just let the subject die? Do I pretend like I dislike Islam or make non-committal statements?

I’m really scared to say what I think or what happened to me or how much I feel like I have grown in the last month.

I did this fast to learn about myself and to learn about something I knew I held very little knowledge of.

What I found was something very beautiful. Something that helped me put many of my religious feelings into words and that helped me develop a stronger relationship with God.

Any faith that can help a person grow like that cannot be evil.

Now, I don’t agree with every Islamic tenant. To be honest, I don’t agree 100% with any faith. There are parts of Islam that I disagree with and even dislike, but I think that is normal. I don’t need to think Islam is the bees’ knees to know that it seeks to truly inspire good and beauty in the world.

Anything that has that goal is worth following to me.

I am not on a path of conversion, nor do I advocate we all go out an hug a Muslim. What I do think is that we can all practice a little more tolerance and focus on learning the true tenants of Islam before we make any judgement. Better yet, we can remember there are planks in our own eyes and leave the judging to someone else.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The End is Near

The end of Ramadan is quickly approaching and I realize there is so much I haven’t been able to tell you. I want to write all the things I have learned, but I feel like I may lose some of your interest if I drone on and on about Islam. I know I have lost some Volunteers interest with my constant, “Hey! Guess what I learned today?!” comments.

So, here are the cliff notes, but I whole heartedly recommend you go out and learn more about Islam.

Mohammad (peace be upon him) is considered the final prophet of Islam. In 610, while mediating, Jibreel (Gabriel) visited him and told him to begin to recite. This is when Muhammad began to recite the Qur'an and knew they were the words of Allah.

The Qur’an is the holy book of Islam and was given to Mohammad during the holy month of Ramadan. It outlines Allah’s word to his people and was first only verbally transmitted to Arabic people. Later, it was written (first without and then with short vowels) for non-Arabic speaking people to understand how the words should be pronounced.

Sunni vs. Shi’a: The fundamentals of their faith are mostly the same with most major differences stemming from the question: who was the successor of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Sunnis believe Abu Bakr was initially chosen while Shi’as believe it was Mohammad’s cousin Ali. Eventually, Ali pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Sunni Muslims is the larger Islamic sect.

Jihad describes 3 types of struggle within Islam:

  1. A believer’s inner struggle to live a life centered around Islam;
  2. The struggle to build a good Muslim community; and, 
  3. The struggle to defend Islam.

Most scholars agree that the first definition is the main meaning of Jihad and is often called the greater Jihad.

Sufism is Islamic mysticism (like Kabbalah to Judaism). It is not a sect, but an aspect of Islam.

Abraham or Ibrahim is considered the father of Muslims as well as Jewish people. He had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael (or Ismille).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sharia Law - Part 2

A part of me feels weird writing about Islam in light of what is happening in the US, but (and from my perspective) more [accurate] information is needed, so here I go.

Qur'an, 5:48

For Muslims, life did not begin at birth, but a long time before that. Before even the creation of the first man. It began when God created the souls of everyone who would ever exist and asked them, "Am I not your Lord?" They all replied, "Yea."
God decreed for each soul a time on earth so that He might try them. Then, after the completion of their appointed terms, He would judge them and send them to their eternal destinations: either one of endless bliss, or one of everlasting grief.
This life, then, is a journey that presents to its wayfarers many paths. Only one of these paths is clear and straight. This path is the Sharia.*

When I read this quote, something inside of me says, “Yes.” Now, I am not saying I’m on a path to conversion, but I am beginning to see what millions of Muslims see - the tranquility of knowing exactly what God wants.

When I was fasting, it was really simple. I woke up. I ate. I drank water. I observed my own religious rituals. I read about Islam. I went back to sleep. I woke up again, washed my hands and went to work.

When I returned home, my actions were similar. It was all so easy. Everything was laid out in front of me.

I think that’s what Sharia is: if you want to be in the presence of Allah, follow the carefully laid path. Don’t steal or cheat or lie or treat others poorly. Invite your neighbors to your house. Pray with your children. If you deviate from the path, you know exactly what to expect because it’s all stated in Sharia. There are no surprises.

Of course, in the west, we aren’t all about our religious lives intermingling with our secular. I’m not entirely sure why that is, I just know it is. Maybe that’s why when we hear the word, “Sharia,” we all freak out. It’s inconceivable to us.

I am not sure if this is one of those cultural relativistic moments, but something inside of me says, “olsun.” (lit. let it be). So maybe it is.

*BBC - Religions: Islam [link]

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Have I Arrived?

To Whom It May Concern;

This is Löki Gale Tobin (student ID 301*****). My Alternate Proctor application is attached to this email as a jpeg file.

After speaking with Emil K., the Director of our local IREX Center, he as agreed to proctor the exams with Könül A. assisting in English translation (she is his assistant and will be acting as Alternate Director during his upcoming vacation).

Könül speaks and writes in English; however, I would suggest using basic English as complicated words do not translate well into Azerbaijani.

Additionally, as the IREX Center does not have a fax machine and it is expensive to fax internationally, Emil plans to submit tests and any required documentation through scan/ email.

Please contact me if you have any questions. I plan to apply to take my first exam by September 15 (September 14 in Alaska).

lgt

Hörmətcili,

Bu Lüki Qal Tobındır (tələbənin nömrəsi 301*****). Mənin başqa test götürən tərəfdaşımın ərizəsi jpeg qovluq kimi bu email ilədir.

Emillə danışdıqdan sonra, yerli İREX Mərkəzi Direktor onunkıdır, mənə o Könüllə test vermək razı olubdur. Könül İngilis dilinə təccrümə edəcək və o Emillə kömək edəcək (Könül Emilin köməkcisidir. Emil istrahətə gedəcək).

Könül İngilis dilində təmiz yazır və danışır amma cətin sözləri istifadə etməyin cünki İngilis dilinə təmiz teccrümə olmur.

Bundan əlavə, İREX Mərkəzinin fax maşını yoxdur və fax etmək benalxalq bahadır, Emildən test və dokumetları skan və email ilə göndərəcək.

Xahış edirəm ki, problemlər və suallarınız varsa, mənə sörüşün, Sentyabr 15-də (Alyeskada Sentyabr 14-də) birinici testimi verməyə planlaşıdırırram.

lgt

Mən rok ulduzam (mənin email teccrüməsim əladir!). I am a rock star. (My email translation is awesome)!

Monday, August 30, 2010

What is Sharia Law?

Ooo...this is going to be a difficult blog post to write. There is just so much information and I’m against super long rambling blog posts, so...here it goes:

Sharia Law comes from the Qur’an (Muslim’s holy book), Hadith (sayings from the prophet Mohammad - peace be upon him), and fatwas (rulings by Islamic scholars).

Sharia Law governs all aspects of Muslim’s life. The Qur’an says there is only one path and that path is Sharia.

Explanation done! Well that was easy...

Actually, not quite so. Speaking for myself, I gave Sharia Law a pretty bad rap. My only real exposure to Sharia was hearing about stonings and amputations. I really had no idea what Sharia meant other than it seemed pretty darn harsh.

Of course, as with most things I have heard about Islam, that ain’t true. Sharia can be (and is) a beautiful thing. Similar to the 10 Commandments, Sharia provides the blueprint to how a Muslim should live their life. Unlike the 10 Commandments, Sharia also includes what could possibly happen to you if you stray from the path.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not all about stoning people who commit adultery, but Sharia does not exactly say “start throwing the rocks” at first accusation. It provides a detailed account of how to prove someone has done something wrong, has built in leniency, and strives to be just in punishment.

And, with all things, it’s not just the West that has the wrong idea of Sharia. Similar to how US Senators (and a former US Governor) tout the US was built on Judea-Christian principles (an eye for an eye anyone?), it’s all open to interpretation and enactment.

Anyway, this blog post is going to be a two parter because, well, there is just more to say.

(I wrote this while under siege from a very large green bug that I thought I had sent to the next life).

Along with my previous sited resources, check out ICNYU's Khutbah Podcast [link]

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Lame

It's not everyday you will hear me say those words, but it is true. I am lame.

Two days ago, I stopped fasting.

I know, I know. I made this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed plan to fast for the full 29 days of Ramadan and now I am a quitter, but let me explain why:

Fasting is freaking hard.

I thought it would get easier after the first couple days, but in fact, it got harder. Your mind slows down, your body gets tired more quickly, and your energy reserves fall to all time lows. For me, an already thin person, I was starting to drop weight like Sarah Palin "drops" endorsements (as in, she is endorsing a lot of people).

Plus, it's hard fasting by yourself. Of course, locals were impressed and interested in my fast, but none of them opted to do it with me. Take that and the fact that I wasn't sleeping well, the weather was unbearably hot, and my normal work day went from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday, this fast just was not in the cards.

Of course, this morning I was listening to Inside Islam [link] and found out that many people in Muslim countries augment their daily schedules during Ramadan to make fasting more manageable. After Iftar, they often eat two more small meals at 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and then wake up around 1 p.m. to start the process all over again. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that.

So, my fast is broken. I am so lame.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's Up With the Head Scarf?

So, I’ve just spent the last two days reading about hijab.

And I am confused.

I mean, it probably would have been a better idea to start with a history lesson of Mohammad (peace be upon him) because much of the commentary surrounding hijab is from Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) youngest wife Aisha.

Anyway, what I gathered, thus far, is this:

Hijab doesn’t mean head covering (or burqa or Persian veil or the no shorts “rule”). It is the modesty in clothing and behavior expressed by Muslims.

That surprised me.

In Arabic, hijab means barrier or cover and in the Qur’an, well, to be honest, there is a lot of discussion about what is hijab and how should it be portrayed. According to Wikipedia, exactly what hijab requires is open to interpretation. In most Islamic areas, it is believed that hijab requires women to cover everything but their hands and face and for men to show nada from their naval to their knees.

It is important to note that some countries require women to fully veil themselves in public (e.g. Iran and Saudi Arabia) and in other countries, veiling oneself in schools is banned (e.g. Frances and Turkey).

Personally, I find hijab especially interesting as societies continue their struggle with the meaning of religious freedom. I get that in some areas, the idea that everyone is equal and there should be no outward display that allows another person to discriminate; however, I am not a big fan of conformist societies. Not to mention, we aren’t all the same, so why should we try to pretend we are?

Okay, enough soap boxing here. Moving on...

Oh! Before I forget, the head scarf is called the khimaar.

(an additional reference - please see previous posts for other information sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab)

Note: Pictures is from my first Iftar.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Count 'Em! 1 2 3 4 5

So, do you know the Five Pillars of Islam? Have any idea what they are? I mean, they ain’t the support of some sort of religions building.

Nope. “The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam...Carrying out the Five Pillars demonstrates that the Muslim is putting their faith first, and not just trying to fit it inaround their secular lives.”*

They are (and I quote because I do not know Arabic):

  1. Shahadah or the act of “sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith;”*
  2. Salat or “performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day;”*
  3. Zakat or “paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy;”*
  4. Sawm or “fasting during the month of Ramadan;”* 
  5. and, Hajj or a “pilgrimage to Mecca.”*

So, now you know - the Five Pillars of Islam.

*BBC - Religion:Islam [link]
*The Religion of Islam (MSNU) [link]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Week One: A Few Mistakes

All right guys. Week 1 of Ramazan 2010: The Epic Experimentation of Löki's Self Control is D O N E.

How did I fair?

Well, Days One through Four were the hardest. Now, I compare every day to Day 2 and usually end up repeating to myself, "This ain't half as bad as Day 2."

And, unfortunately, on Day 5, I just couldn't do it anymore. I spent the day sipping water and holding my tummy.

For all intent and purposes, Day 6 and Day 7 went okay. I have been entertaining house guests all week and fasting while making breakfast and preparing for group dinners was definitely a trial of my self control. It's weird not being able to test seasonings and make sure things are turning out okay.

Anyway, this is not an easy thing, but, I guess that is the point, right? If it was easy, it would not be a testament of faith. If it was easy, the saying would not go, "May God Accept Your Sacrifice."

Ramazan is a struggle. It is also beautiful. I have never felt more...in tune before. I feel like I can really focus. I feel pretty at peace.

I also feel like I am learning two years' worth of information about Islam. Along with the two Islamic-focused podcasts I have been listening to, I also have been gobbling up "All Things Muslim" off the internets. I am flabbergasted at some of the things I thought I "knew" about Islam and how wrong I was. Geez. I consider myself pretty darn knowledgeable and progressive, but I was edging scary line of misinformation there.

I do have a lot to learn and hopefully, I can spend Ramazan doing just that.

Pictures are from the Oguz Summer Camp where I lead a dance workshop - hardest thing I have had to do yet while fasting.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CONTEST!

Okay kids, we are go for Ramazan! I’ve been wanting to do a contest for awhile (to increase reader comments and make sure everyone is still perusing my blog, Buddy), so...it’s gonna go something like this:

Over the next 4 weeks, new blog posts about Islam (and my Ramazan fast) will pop up on this here blog. On week 5 (around September 15), a fun and insightful Islam-themed test will offer you the opportunity to win a locally made silk scarf (straight from Sheki, Azerbaijan). All questions will come directly from my blog posts, so don’t be afraid to comment me when you have a question.

All 92% correct quizzes will then join the pool and a winner will be selected at random! After an undetermined (undetermined because who knows when my post office actually sends my America packages to America) amount of time, you will receive a locally-made silk scarf (Azerbaijan was on silk road after all).

Good luck and may the Force be with you.

Note: This contest is in no way sponsored by Peace Corps. All blog posts and test questions are written by Löki Gale Tobin and any mistakes made are hers alone.

What is Ramazan?

Yup. That is right. Azerbaijanis call it Ramazan and not Ramadan. Why exactly, I am not sure.

Anyway, Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islam calendar which the Qur'an was claimed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is also the time when the gates of Heaven are open and the gates of hell are closed. During this month, the Prophet fasted and told his followers to do the same. Each day he broke his fast with a date. I recently was told I can replace the date with clean water as dates are expensive in Az.

Okay, back to the point. During the fasting period (sunrise to sunset), observers do not drink, eat, smoke, or engage in sexual relations. You are also not supposed to swear, lie, or treat others unkindly. It is believed that it is easier to resist temptations during Ramadan because the devils are chained in hell. I am not sure about this, but so far, I have found myself a lot less negative while fasting.

There is also the viewpoint that fasting is an opportunity to practice patience, modest, and spirituality. Many believe this is a time to offer more prayers to God and focus on worship and contemplation.

The exact days of Ramazan vary from place to place as it depends on when the new moon is seen. The month then continues for the following 29 to 30 days. Observers are allowed to eat and drink when the sun is not in the sky, with the first meal of the day beginning with a prayer. After this, the fast is broken at sunset with a feast called the Iftar, which usually involves hosting family and friends.

The fasting requirement does make exceptions for young children, the sick, pregnant or traveling; however, it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and observed as such.

For more info, check out the link below.

Resources: Peace Corps Az August Staff Stuff & BBC Religions - Islam: Ramandan [link]

Friday, August 13, 2010

Az8 - An Interesting Emotion

Last night, I started writing a post about Az8 and any questions they may have. I mean, when I was preparing for Peace Corps, I researched the heck out of what to expect. Of course, I kind of expect a few Az8s (the next group of PCVs) to do the same, so, what better way than to ask an extending Az6.Then I realized that by now they should have found my blog and if they had any questions, they probably would have already asked me.

So, instead, I wrote this:

I am scared of the Az8 group.

Well, that’s not true. I am more scared of what Az8 represents. As they prepare to begin their service, my group will be leaving. I am scared of losing friends - I mean, I am not supposed to say that right? Az6 will be my besties forever and yada, yada, yada. We all know how this is going to work. From the get-go, I will lose contact with at least half the group and after awhile, I will lose contact with even more. It is inevitable. Life happens.

I do not like change. Everyone I know can attest to this. I remember when a university volunteer group I was deeply invested in hired a new program manager. I was so scared he was going to change everything up. As much as I wanted things to stay the same, they changed. Everything changes.

So, why am I so scared of this change? Because I feel like I am not [changing]. I feel like I am standing still while everyone goes off to become famous actresses or pursue awesome graduate degrees. Instead, I am still here in the ‘Baijan, doing what I’ve been doing.

And even more, I am supposed to make new besties. [New besties? Is that even possible?] I am scared I can’t do that. I am scared that people already think they know me and I will be left all alone in the wilds of the north.

I wish I could say I have some sort of epiphany right now, but I don’t got one. I just know that I am scared.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rack It

My first attempt at racking my homemade cherry wine [link] ended up with me covered in wine pulp. Yuck.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Camps

My first summer day-camp experience in greater 'Baijan was spending a week at Jane's Lankeran marathon-like two month long day camp series [link]. I remember the 14 hour bus ride, battle the mosquitos, and learning that several PCVs had changed their names to things like Mario and Luigi.

A year later (and after my own day-camp attempt), I had the wonderful opportunity to head down to Bilasuavar to help a friend during his two week long day-camp. Only my second time "down south", I quickly learned two very important things: 1. Down south is ridiculously hot; and, 2. Zaqatalalilar (the people of Zaqatala) have a very different accent than the rest of the country.

Even with all the frustrating miscommunications (and flat out non-communication), I had a great time, both with Jon H. and the kids. Day-camps are awesome in so many ways...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why would anyone extend?

Okay. I have been meaning to write this blog post for awhile now. I mean, I did promise to tell you all my extension reasons. Of course, I could just copy and paste the entirety of my extension request letter, but that seems lame. So, what to do, what to do?

Well, I guess I can only really talk about myself. From personal experience, extension reasons are not clearly cut or easily defined. Anyone can give you the standard set (i.e. "I feel like I just hit my stride," "My work just took off," and/ or, "I'm just not done, yet.").  For most cases, those standard responses are a serious part of the extension decision. I do feel like my work just took off and I know I still have a lot left to give.

Yet, if it was just that, I would be heading home in December.

No. There is so much to an extension it cannot be blogged about or written in an email. Extension involves talking with family, considering friends' opinions, thinking about the overall life "game plan".

Extension means preparing to watch all your [PC] friends leave and start the next phase of the Volunteer life cycle and knowing that for you, a couple really dark days lay ahead.

Extension means considering the meaningful impact you could be making at home versus the hopeful impact you may make where you currently are living.

Extension means commitment and continued bouts of hand washing clothing, missing major theater blockbusters, and learning about celebrity jail times months after the fact.

Yeah. Extension decisions are definitely not as clear cut as anyone would want you to believe.

But, in the end, it all works out. Or at least I have to believe it will because...I am in for one more year. Extension approved.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Zaqatala Summer Art Program - the Conclusion

And then we all went to the park and flash mobbed some Thriller - MJ style!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Update

I just wanted to throw up a quick update as I am off to help a friend in another region for a week.

Still have yet to hear about my extension request...two weeks from now is our Close of Service Conference (COS), so...

That is that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zaqatala Summer Art Program - the Program

Today the Zaqatala Rapper came to talk about rap, and art, and wearing clothing that represents him.

It was pretty awesome.




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zaqatala Summer Art Program - the Prelude

Get your engines ready because Zaqatala's Summer Art Program is about to go down!

Check out our screen printing techniques (jimmy rigged of course...which sort of worked) and pre-program training for local counterparts.




Friday, July 16, 2010

So What Exactly Do I Do All Day

I bet you all thought I would never answer this question.

Well, I get up. Usually around 7:30 a.m. as it gets too hot to sleep.

I make coffee and straighten up my apartment. I've become a bit...obsessive about the cleanlessness. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I live in less than 600 square feet of space.

I drink my coffee and begin wishing for a second pot (I am working on delayed satisfaction. Two cups of coffee today means coffee for tomorrow).

Most mornings, I draft emails, plan club activities, work on graphic stuff, and outline my day activities. I find it best to be organized. If I leave my house without the necessary items, there is no way in God's green Earth I am returning to my apartment. Two daily treks to and from my house cause me to sweat too much.

Around 10:30 a.m., I leave my house and hit up the local IREX center, check out other clubs (Jessica has several things going on), meet with students, print materials, talk with the local post office lady, etc.

At 4, I have my major clubs. Some days, I meet with a group of young women at 6:30 p.m.

Around 7:30 p.m. (after clubs and guesting and Könül's or my host fam's houses), I head home. If I have guests, I make dinner. If it is just me, I fry potatoes or eat popcorn.

Around 10:30 p.m., I hit the hay.