Monday, May 30, 2011

To Nome and now going back.

The first major leg of my one month home leave is now over and I am feeling something.

I wish I could explain it better, but after almost 3 years overseas there is just too much to analyze.

Firstly, it amazes me how much I..."forgot" while living in Azerbaijan. The feeling of a quick morning shower. The ease of ordering a handed-pulled Americano. The weird weird television shows Americans watch (I spent a good 6 hours watching 16 and Pregnant).

Seriously.

I mean, it makes sense. If I had spent every moment in Azerbaijan pining away for my American life I wouldn't have gotten anything done. I would have been miserable and probably left service early, if only because I need NPR in the mornings.

Yet, instead I just conveniently forgot all the things I missed and kept trucking forward. Of course, this allowed me to start dreaming of a grandiose overseas life. If you had asked me last week, once January rolls around, returning to Alaska was the last thing on my mind; however, right now, it is the only thing on my mind. I miss being home. I miss my friends and coffee shops. I miss Nome springs and local guitar players. I miss it all.


So, where does that leave me? I don't know. I really have no idea. There is no conclusion here. I am still overwhelmed...

Unrelated, special thanks (for the last 2 weeks) goes to:
Lew T.
Meghan M. & Theronn K.
Gina & Will M.
Matt C.
Aggie B. & Tom F.
Sarah C.
Johanna & Rhu B.
Jarod C.
Returned PCVs in Fairbanks
Tony G.
Kay T.
Annie, Hunter, & Olivia R.
Krista F.
Marsha & Mike S.
Carol G.
Julie
Nome Rotary
KNOM

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top 15 for Under 15

Okay guys, I am at it again. Remember that list I made last time I was in Nome for National Literacy Day? The Top 50 Books A High School Student Should Read Prior to College [link]? Well, since I have been hanging out in Nome, I decided to read all 7 Harry Potter books in 7 days (not the smartest idea I have ever had, but...). I love reading - I think it is the best thing on the planet and I fear that the last few months I have put my pleasure reading on hold. Now that I gots some time, I hit up our local library and who did I run into but the librarian?! Twenty minutes later I had agreed to write up a list of young adult books (YA) that were appropriate for young young adults. If I can inspire some young kid to pick up a book this summer just by helping our library meet their reading needs...then...awesome.

So...what better place to figure out the best list for young people than my blog? So???

What are the top 15 books for youth under the age of 15? Leave me a comment with your list! Let's get us some summer readin' going on!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mini-[re]Adjusting

So, they tell me that I will not start the true readjustment until I am at home (and staying in one place) for more than a few weeks, but let me tell you - the mini-adjusting I have had to do to just travel through the US is ridiculous. Case in point:

  • My bowels are constantly screaming in protest. Why are our portions so big and our food so deliciously rich?
  • Why does it feel so weird to sit in the front seat?
  • Seriously. No town in Alaska is walk-able.
  • Maybe my stomach hurts all the time because Alaska came out with a White. It is delicious by the way (code used for a reason folks...).
  • Do people need to be so loud and group in such large numbers everywhere? It makes me nervous.
  • WHY DOES FRED MEYERS HAVE 18 DIFFERENT TYPES OF APPLE JUICE. I just want normal, plain apple juice. Why is that so difficult?
  • $15 dollars for a hamburger and fries? Even Baku is not that expensive.
  • Coffee is still delicious.

Just being home for a short while has put everything into a weird circular spin downward. I am anticipating going home (to Azerbaijan) and having a mini-crisis/break-down as I now have no life direction (over dramatic, I know). Do I return to Alaska? Should I stay overseas? Can I find a job that pays cash money? Is soy really that bad for me?

So many questions...and I am answerless. So, I am taking suggestions now (only feasible, awesome suggestions please).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Home Home on the Range

I wish I had the opportunity to post some pictures from my last few days in Azerbaijan (went to a birthday party, spent a few days down in the south (near Iran)...sat on a marsh for hours watching a car wreck situation), but I cannot find my camera chord.

At any rate, I am back in the US. A whirlwind trip that has landed me in my friend's spare bedroom at 5 a.m. writing a blog post.

I can only say that being in-transit for 20 some hours was a little much, but well worth it. On the plane here, I made two new friends, drank my weight in water (all while washing down some Pepto), and enjoyed several movies. Now, I am home and ready for some action...or a nap. I probably should take a nap right now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Found the Cord!

In Bilasuvar

Bilasuvar again!

Packing for Americastan.

Making plov!

On our way to Lekit (again)!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Then & Nome

Tonight I leave for Alaska.

Well, really I leave for Baku and in a few days I will be in Alaska, but practicalities, practicalities.

Anyhoo. The pictures are from me then and me now.

Weird huh? As part of an extension (a year or more), a PCV is entitled to a one-month trip back home. This is why my extension is 13 months and not just 12.

Normally, or usually, or I really have not stats for this so...anecdotally, extending PCVs take their year home at the 27-month mark. I chose to wait it out a bit because (1) I needed to finish up my MA degree so I could go home to walk at my graduation ceremony and (2) I needed to make sure a full year was exactly what I wanted to do.

Who was I kidding? I was always going to extend for a full year, but I think I liked pretending that there was an option...

Okay, back to my point - so, I am going home. I have not been there since September 2008. I am returning as...a...who knows. Who knows what it is going to be like. Last week, I was so excited I could not concentrate on lighting my stove. Today, I am so apprehensive that I kind of want to call up Peace Corps and tell them I have changed my mind.

Geez...this post is kind of ramble-ie.

Anyway, get ready for posts about being home, aptly entitled, "To Nome and Back".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What is Peace Corps (to me)?

As I get ready to go home, I have been thinking a lot about Peace Corps. I mean, I know the background [link], the statistics [link], the three main goals [link], but is that Peace Corps? Is it an agency based in Washington, D.C.? Is it a legacy of a President? Is it a website [link]?

Na. I don't think Peace Corps is any of these things. Or maybe it is all of those things. Or maybe it is a frog...

Probably not (on the frog part)...

Anyway...to me, Peace Corps is the relationship a Volunteer has with their community.

Sounds cheesy, I know, but, hey, it's my opinion.

In Zaqatala, nobody knows that Peace Corps has a website or was started by a pretty famous president or is based in Washington, D.C. Some people may know what there are three goals and a little bit of our history, but honestly, Peace Corps is the Volunteer in front of them. It is the Volunteer they met for thirty minutes or the Volunteer they watch interact with their children.

It is easy to get caught up in the bureaucracy of Peace Corps and the changes that have happened in the last 50 years. It happens to me all the time. I get frustrated with a new rule or I don't understand how a Volunteer possibly could be thriving in their community...but then I remember: Every Volunteer's experience is uniquely different and if I try to compare or judge their service, I am missing the point.

So here is to not missing the point. Good on you, PCVs.