new direction

Not necessarily “new” but necessarily newly discovered and desired.

I WANT TO PUBLISH IN MY FIELD.

But I know that my attention span and chaotic approach (to some endeavors) might be problematic to that goal. I have been asking astute teachers (ie. friends) if they would like to join me in coauthoring a piece of research. Can’t say I’m getting much of a bite.

There’s been hemming and hawing over the length of the, as of now, completely imaginary piece. To me, that is something you decide after you’ve got a topic, done the research and planned the draft.

I have been asked about topics. Since I want to coauthor, I do not see how I can be the sole decision maker. I am interested in ESL composition/writing, technology and ideas of autonomy in the classroom, but I cannot get married before I have met the groom.

Someone brought up publishers. I don’t have a paper yet! And there are plenty. It is useful to know submission guidelines, but not now, before I even know what I’m talking about. I am not obsessing over editors — I’m writing to colleagues.

Maybe I am being too nonchalant about those three issues, but I don’t see how I can be a hardliner either. What I do know is that I can’t wait for these colleagues forever. If they aren’t interested, I would much prefer that response.

To get the creative juices flowing, I will make this into my academic review blog. I will simply read one (two if I’m lucky) ESL articles a week and write a review.

Well. Hop to it.

withdrawal

I am no longer pursuing the PC.

The position was listed as “Primary Education Teacher Trainer”, but the description was  typical of all ESL positions offered by the PC, and did not list any particular “training” activities. I chalked this up to the tendency for their descriptions to be vague.

When I interviewed, I most certainly interviewed as someone fervently seeking a teacher TRAINER position. I mentioned this numerous times, explaining how excited I was to grow my experiences into the training/back channel side of education, to give teachers the training I always thought was needed, etc.

I was never corrected.

So imagine my surprise when, after asking for a more specific description of “Teacher Trainer”, my placement officer told me to not be “thrown off” by the title.

THROWN OFF by a very specific job title of a very specific role?

No, I would simply be co-teaching primary kids English . There is no overt leadership/trainer aspect of the job (other than what I would bring to it in extracurricular activities).

I told the placement officer, “Unfortunately, while I am still so very much interested in the mission of the PC, I am not interested in returning to teaching primary school EFL classes”.

At some point in my life, I have to stop making lateral moves. Going back to that type of work, even with a chance at a government job afterwards, is not wise, and more importantly, would be terribly unfulfilling.

Thankfully, through my research, I came across a RPCV who did admit that their job descriptions are often vague and, on occasion, misleading.

I am certain that the placement officer is disgruntled by my withdrawal. Once these behemoth bureaucratic cranks start turning to onboard someone, grinding them to a stop and attempting to fill the spot with someone else has got to be an ordeal. However, I, too, spent precious time and money gathering documents and getting medical examinations and preparing myself socially, financially and emotionally for a 27 month sacrifice.

Oh well. At least I stopped the process before medical clearance. They’ve still got 5 months.

Now…

I have an odd sense of release and relief. I am making plans to improve myself professionally, take courses, training, reading more, less Facebooking, more exercising and creating, writing, helping….

I am ultimately at peace.

appointments

I’ve begun compiling my copious pages medical information.

Thanks to mom for keeping EVERYTHING, I have old vaccination records from school.  I also stopped by the county health department to see what they had on me. I’ll compare those lists with MAP’s list (MAP being the online medical information portal PC uses) to make sure I’m covered.

I need to make sure I’ve printed out all the MAP forms necessary for my appointment tomorrow. I think I have. I already went to the dentist and got that filled out.I was shocked by how cheap the visit was. I remember back when getting a mouthful of X-rays cost an arm and a leg, and $800. With this random discount plan I bought online (Obamacare doesn’t do dental), I paid $40 and was in and out in less than 40 mins. Amazeballs.

The singular good thing about it taking a bit of time to get these appointments scheduled is that my Obamacare has now kicked in with this new year. Not sure how much I’ll “save”, but it’s good to know I have insurance at all.

What else….

I also downloaded Pimsleur’s Albanian. I’m a fan of Pimsleur. If you’re a strong auditory or auditory/kinesthetic learner, it’s golden. I only listened to the first 30 min lesson and I was getting things down. And of course I listen while doing something else. I don’t know how to simply listen anymore. I figure if your brain can learn while coordinating your limbs, you’ve learned, but good.

Oh, if I remember correctly, I also need to update my PCV resume to reflect things that I intend to do to prepare for my job and explain more specifically how my past positions and experiences equip me to perform this job. I have a feeling that’ll be one of the last things to get done.

Finally, I decided to un-loc my locs. I am doing it because I am tired of trying, and failing, to keep them manicured and I doubt I’ll have access to a loctician in Kosovo. Ironically, the country’s Peace Corp director is a black woman with locs, and not just any locs, but sistalocs. How she does it, I can only imagine. My brother, who served in Bosnia in the 90s, claimed that there were many Jamaicans in the area working. Perhaps they are also doing black/African hair. Either way, I think this is best for me. I miss styling my hair. It was a fun learning experiment, but I think I’m over it. My hair just isn’t kinky enough. I was blessed with fine, curly, easy to manage hair. Why fight it?

pushing paper

Apparently, 10% of Peace Corps candidates are ultimately declined on medical grounds.

I made the rookie mistake to be generously forthcoming about any and all medical background, which, to be honest, was a stupid idea. Save for a serious allergic reaction to Brazilian nuts, I have never had an issue traveling or living in any of the 20-some-odd countries I’ve stepped foot in. I understand PC’s care in selecting and placing volunteers, and I am thankful for it.

Future applicants: consider the cost — and I do mean monetary value — of telling them EVERYthing. Because they will insist that a physician accounts for EVERYthing.
That’s where I am now. PC gives you 60 days to complete these medical examinations, whether you are the paragon of perfection or have had multiple surgeries! I’m arranging visits to specialists I haven’t seen in 8 years for an illness I haven’t experienced in…well…8 years. My specialist is booked three months ahead. It would be nice if PC could move applicants’ due dates according to one’s specific number of tasks, but that wound disrupt the well-oiled machine that is bureaucracy.

There are also some smaller non-medical, administrative tasks that they ask candidates to do: press release, insurance, background checks…

I have a regular passport, and I’ve heard of a diplomatic passport, but I hadn’t heard of an “official” passport. But as a PCV, I am on official US government business, so I cannot use my regular passport and must apply for an “official” passport. The DOS website says….

An official passport is issued to an employee or official of the U.S. Government traveling abroad to carry out official duties….The official passport is issued for a validity of 5 years, cannot be used for leisure travel and must be returned when official duty ends as part of the checkout process.

So there you have it. Actually, it’s good that I get another passport. My regular one was filling up fast. That said, I would only use it for “official” travel, so I’ll likely only get four stamps in the thing, anyway.

Thankfully, CPCC has ended for the semester and we don’t go back to work until the 12th of January or something like that, so I can focus on all these visits!

 

PEACE CORPS

Well, I went and done it.

I applied to Peace Corps.

And PC has invited me to go to Kosovo.

And I accepted.

This means little, however. If you’ve ever applied, completed an assignment, or know someone who has, or even have a cursory knowledge of working within the United States’ bureaucratic context,  there is a slew of meticulous work that must be completed before getting on that plane June second.

Will I actually start updating this blog regularly?

If I couldn’t blog consistently in freaking Saudi Arabia ABOUT Saudi Arabia, how could I possibly think I could now do it for Peace Corps Kosovo???

Good question.

Stay tuned.

maybe maybe

Well, yet another month or so has gone by without an update, hasn’t it? Perhaps I should come to terms with the fact that my blogging days have passed. I even thought that paying for the site would compel me to use it, but no luck there! I’m failing at being frugal. :p

So what to talk about?

I won’t lie. Heartache has been taking up most of my emotional energy.

The unexpectedly close and intimate friend with whom I had an abrupt falling out is still on my mind. He said we would discuss things like grown-ups — instead of throw fits like we seemed to have been doing — when I got back from Egypt, but apparently, he wasn’t serious about it.

“Maybe, maybe, maybe…no.”

I’ve never understand the goal of such games.

Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.

And I wonder if women play it as often as men do. I almost hope that we do, that I do, because I don’t want to accuse these men of being cowards.

No one wants to be a coward.

I can imagine that if a woman does this “maybe, maybe” game, it’s to get the guy, to give him a bit of a challenge to see if he’s willing to struggle for what is, hopefully, worth struggling for. But then it only matters if there is a chance she’ll say yes. If not, then she’s the coward.

But when men go on and on for however long we let them, it’s to lose the girl, because he’s afraid to simply say no. Occasionally, rarely, I’d say, it’s for some graver, more complicated reason. But that’s…super rare. He’s not into her, and for some funny reason, he can’t voice that.

You have to wonder why. And you’re stuck wondering, because as fearful as these blokes are of saying no, they seem even more afraid to tell you why they’re afraid to say no.

Phobophobia — the fear of being in fear?

And they — phobophobes — never seem to see the irony, do they?

We women are not particularly dangerous overall. People that can’t be crossed shouldn’t be crossed, for sure, but generally speaking people — women — don’t go around stabbing each other  — men — because that spark just isn’t there, because they got rejected. Honestly, it’s usually not the topic of the conversation that sets people off, but the insensitive and jerky behavior of the person doing the rejecting.

10% of arguments are about a difference in opinion. 90% of them are about a tone of voice.

“But, Prin”, you say, “It’s these WOMEN who need to do this talking thing.”

Well, darling, since you can read my mind…

I posit that it’s actually a matter of respect….respect for the limitations of our understanding of another extremely complicated human being.

He and I had become super close, closer than we thought was likely to happen, and I believe that out of respect for the process and time and effort and energy and love that exists, we could have treated each other with more selflessness than we did. In the dusk (?) of our relationship, I thought that respect had been regained, but then he snatched it away, and the sun set.

I don’t feel respected and I don’t think I am respecting a person if intentions and the reality of the situation are not communicated. I don’t want to be a coward. I want to face all of this head-on. And I want to give others the chance to do the same thing. They deserve it. They — men and women — deserve to know the truth about me, who I am and how I feel and what I want and need. This man whom I love — so much more.

Yet here we are.

He thinks he’s doing me some kind of favor by being secretive and selfish about what — from what I know and understand about him — isn’t that much of a secret.

Here’s the difference between that guy you went out with on one or two dates, and the guy who put off being with his girlfriend to spend more time with you: the latter should be able to tell you, fearlessly, what his fears are, because he should be able to trust you.

And I guess that’s really where the betrayal lies. Actually, the most painful part of this drama.

He doesn’t trust me.

I thought he did. And I think he did. Or perhaps it was a partial trust. A trust that somehow didn’t extend to this issue he’s struggling with. Maybe if he didn’t know me from Eve, I could understand his distrust. Maybe if I’d betrayed him in the past, I could understand this distrust. But I don’t know where it comes from. I wish I did. I can only assume it has nothing to do with me personally. And to top it all off, he’s the type who doesn’t seem to trust himself, and that self-flagellatory attitude is probably the real culprit. These two theories are my only consolation. And as I sit here, alone, lonely, they still seem like weak consolation at that…

Maybe…maybe…maybe…

One day he’ll stop this nonsense. Maybe one day he’ll realize that the answer isn’t within his own self-admittedly-confused-and-inadequately-equipped mind! Maybe one day the prodigal friend will return, shouting “Damn the consequences!!!” Maybe one day he won’t be afraid to to the dangerous and uncomfortable things that could very possibly end in his happiness.

God, that would be nice.

In the meantime, here I will be.

make here home

I stumbled upon an opening for an essayist for a newspaper. I wrote two personal essays. Despite having had blogs before, I found the challenge — the word count limit, the audience, the purpose — well, challenging. But I thought it was a good exercise, an eye-opener to what it might be like to write semi-professionally.

Here is one of the essays I wrote for submission:

My current country of residence is infamously austere. There are few festivals and practically no holidays. For expats, this drab environment makes celebrating our holidays even more important than it would be if we were in, for example, Japan.

The reality of my situation really dawned on me this past Christmas season. When I lived in Matsuyama, Japan, I bought a mini Christmas tree one year, but one year I didn’t. When I lived in Korea, again, I bought a palm and decorated it like a fir one year, but another year, didn’t. When I lived in the States, my native country, I could choose whether or not to have a tree, and it wasn’t a big deal.

And then I moved here, where it is a big deal. A very, very big deal. And yet…

The first year, I didn’t consider getting a tree, for whatever reason. But last December, you would have thought my world hinged on having My Very Own Christmas Tree. I became dedicated to the cause. I daydreamed about the color palette, schemed how I’d import the trimmings, told all my friends to come over for a “Tree Trimming Party.” And I hadn’t even found a tree yet! But then I did, and in the most unlikely of places. But there it was, waiting for me to take it home.

This fiasco over a tree got me thinking about the lengths to which we go just to find familiarity and comfort. To be sure, I crave the expat lifestyle. Living abroad feels natural to me. But once in a while, I crave something particular to my state or country, something unique to my race or culture, something odd and rare that takes me back… I’ve yearned desperately for any number of random things — from bacon to high-thread-count sheets to a karaoke machine.

Sometimes, when I come home, I want (and need) that natsukashii feeling. To remember who I am and where I’m from and the beautiful experiences I’ve had. This isn’t just about personal style or home decor. It’s that thing that took up too much space in your suitcase on the way here. It’s that item you had shipped because none of the local ones would do. But you’re glad you went through the effort because, when no one is looking, you smile.

I’m not a proponent of materialism or comfort shopping, but I think it’s possible to strike a balance. Whether we’ve lived where we are for one month or one decade, we’re always looking for ways to make here home.