The Purge

I’ve started packing!

I have three piles – what I’m bringing, what I want to keep beyond my service, and the ???? pile to give away or trash. It is truly amazing how much stuff I have accumulated in only 3ish years since I’ve moved back in with my parents.

Since November I’ve been buying things here and there that I knew I’d need for Ethiopia (a fantastic backpack – Osprey Nova 33 from REI – (10/10 would recommend), packable solar lanterns, a super lightweight suitcase (I caught a great deal on that one, thank you Marshalls!)…and so many ebooks. I’ve been tossing everything into a bag in the corner of my room, and forgetting about it, so the time has now come to pull it all out and deal with it.

I guess I enjoy packing? If you ask my sister or friends, they’d probably say I obsess over packing. That is probably true, but what it really is, is that I have to spend more time packing to make sure I don’t over pack. (I have a latent tendency to stop thinking critically and just throw anything into my suitcase that I might need in a panic…it’s terrible. It’s an unfortunate habit I picked up from my mom.

In 2005 we went to visit our family in Hawaii for three weeks. Judging from the luggage she packed, you would have thought we were moving there in an incredibly inefficient manner. It was embarassingly awful. We had a full medical kit – cough syrup, Advil, medical tape, several different kinds of bandaids and gauze…..No one in our family was sick at the time. I think we had enough clothes for a month, all of us. There was a washer and dryer in the house where we stayed.

-_-

Another time we went camping for two-ish nights? Maybe three? I think we had the entire contents of our kitchen. She certainly brought a full pot and pan set, and many types of lunchmeat. (I’m definitely not complaining about the food – thats a habit I’m ok with. I always have a granola bar on me and it’s saved me more times than I can count. Sometimes I find myself lost in my to-do list for the 5th time in 20mins, and realize it’s 2:30pm and I forgot to eat breakfast.) The full “camping” pot and pan set hasn’t been used since that trip.

Anyway, I spread everything that is definitely going with me to Ethiopia on the living room floor and became immediately overwhelmed. Luciano made himself right at home in the middle of everything. I stared at the mess and tried not to panic.


And then I went on a week long camping trip and ignored it all for a week.

(Just kidding. Actually, I went on the camping trip and thought about it all week.)

So now I’m home again. Facing the pile with a clearer head thanks to being in nature all week. I have always felt at home in the woods, and this past week was no exception. I’m so grateful to the KWS class of 2017 for welcoming me along on their trip. If any of you are reading this – you are amazing, and I wish you the knowledge that following your heart is always worth it, you are always stronger than you think, and for major decisions, your voice should always be the loudest voice in your head.

T minus 21 days….here it comes!

A Few Random Thoughts

I GOT MY MEDICAL CLEARANCE!

While I never actually doubted that I’d be cleared, it was still an enormous relief to receive that email.

Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative has lost it’s branding, however, from all I’ve been able to gather it is just an empty, petty PR move by the current administration to erase the Obama legacy. Sorry dude, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The content, training and emphasis on gender equity in the education sector of the Peace Corps will stay.

I spent the last week with the 6th grade of the Kimberton Waldorf School helping to chaperone their trip to Kroka – an amazing community where “wilderness meets consciousness” in Marlowe, NH. It was a gift of an experience for many reasons. The simplest being that I was able to spend a week with little to no running water and no electricity. I was able to step into a completely new environment and take that emotional roller coaster of feeling out a new life for a week – and then come home and hug my dog.

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Something Important to note…

world-map-painted-with-watercolors_G1Vve6c__LAn important disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Ethiopian Government.

i.e. Everything posted here has been filtered through my world view, and is based on my opinions.

All photos are mine, are public domain, or have the source cited.

 

Winter Storm Stella

Snowman-_Ice_cream_snowmen

It snowed!

Finally.

Stella was a good snowstorm that didn’t melt in a few hours. A bit icy, not super fluffy and easy to dig out of, but wonderful nonetheless.

I’ve been wanting one good snowstorm this winter since November. Just when I decided that Spring was sounding nice, it snowed. A lot.

There is a poem that always floats through my head when I’m walking through the snow. I usually only remember a few lines – “Let us walk through the white snow / In a soundless space / with footsteps quiet and slow / under veils of white lace”. I looked it up (see below) and found I mis-remembered it a bit.

shrug

The stillness of winter, the way the snow muffles all sound…it feels inherently magical. Perhaps it’s the association with Chrismas, or my birthday, or the childhood excitement of a snow day off from school.

Whatever it is, I’m glad I got to see one more snowstorm before possibly moving to the desert.

GsSVRTe

Snowman_Chicken

…………

Velvet Shoes

winter countryside view

 

Let us walk in the white snow

In a soundless space;

With footsteps quiet and slow,

At a tranquil pace,

Under veils of white lace.

 

I shall go shod in silk,

And you in wool,

White as white cow’s milk,

More beautiful

Than the breast of a gull.

 

We shall walk through the still town

winter forest viewIn a windless peace;

We shall step upon white down,

Upon silver fleece,

Upon softer than these.

 

We shall walk in velvet shoes:

Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews

On white silence below.

We shall walk in the snow.

– Elinor Wylie

Of Med Clearance and Vaccines

Two posts in a month? What is this madness?

Six doctor’s visits, eight vials of blood, a new pair of glasses, full dental ex-rays and over 130 pages of paper later…and my medical paperwork is finally in.

A month late.

cringe

Having a nurse for a mother is helpful for understanding medical things, but knowledge dissuades fear. Since I wasn’t scared of it, I thought it would be easier and quicker than it was. Oops.

I headed into my PCP appointment thinking that I would be walking out of that appointment with my paperwork completed. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Even though I told my doctor the appointment was for Peace Corps medical clearance and a physical….she was still completely blindsided. (She clearly had never completed a Peace Corps medical clearance packet before.) I was blindsided because I thought I had an appointment with a doctor I knew…so it was uncomfortable all around.

As a nice contrast, getting my Yellow Fever vaccine was WONDERFUL. The woman who gave it had helped many people going into the Peace Corps before. Even better, the general fee ($135) was waived. If you’re in the Philadelphia/Main Line – ish Area looking for travel vaccines – I highly recommend the U Penn travel clinic. Parking was tough, but everything else was great.

🙂

If you’re working on your medical clearance for Peace Corps and somehow found my blog – things I wish I knew:

  1. You need your passport to get your Yellow Fever Vaccine. A photo copy of it works.
  2. Book your doctor’s appointment in advance. Wayyyy in advance. At least a month before everything is due.          -_-
  3. If your health insurance covers lab tests, you’re set. Don’t even worry about trying to find your childhood vaccine records. Just get the blood tests.
  4. It is worth it to call around asking dentist’s offices whether they give people discounts if they’re headed into the Peace Corps. But again, book appointments early.
  5. The amount of paperwork is OVERWHELMING, and fairly redundant. Take a breath, a few hours, and pour a glass of wine. Then try and figure everything out.
  6. PDFsam Basic – a free .pdf editing software. Super helpful for pulling together all the scans into one document to submit everything.

013fd79b0c95903cef1f002aef6a551b5833a73ebf

 

#neverthelessshepersisted

Happy International Women’s Day!

Only one day feels so inadequate; just like only a month for Black History??

Today has been a good day to sit and think. (And write.) And as always, drink copious amounts of coffee.

This past year I had an epiphany/realization/re commitment to being unapologetically intersectional feminist. I’ve always been a self-labeled feminist, but my idea of what that means has become clearer, and more inclusive. (When I was seven, I simply wanted all the women to win at jeopardy, and all the princesses to slay dragons a la The Hero and the Crown – Robin McKinley; or even save the princes like in Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine. Ella Enchanted is why I love learning different languages.)

Sometimes even I am questioning why I’ve just signed up for 2.5ish years in a country that will ask me to give up some of my freedoms as an unmarried woman. The only answer I have is that “it’s worth it”. Whatever “it” is – this experience I’m on the edge of.

It feels like I’m about to jump out of an airplane for the first time, hoping that the parachute in my bag is packed correctly. I know I’ll be able to pull the handle to open the chute,  but I’m hoping I have the guts to jump out of the plane with my eyes open, enjoying the ride. I’ve read stories of other people’s experiences, I’ve heard about the common challenges, I’ve visited places without running water or electricity for a few weeks; but there’s really nothing that can prepare me for what this transition is going to be like. I’m coming to terms with that. I’ve mostly made peace with that.

I’m really trying.

Anyway, in honor of International Women’s Day, to celebrate small victories, here are some women breaking ceilings that I didn’t hear enough about.

CatherineCortez

 

Catherine Cortez Masto is in the Senate representing Nevada. She’s the first Latina senator, and she’s the granddughter of a Mexican immigrant.

(photo credit: NBC)

800px-Tammy_Duckworth,_official_portrait,_113th_Congress

 

 

Tammi Duckworth, in the Senate for Illinois – she’s the first female senator who has seen combat, and the first Thai-American woman ever elected to Congress.

Kamala_Harris_Official_Attorney_General_Photo

 

 

Kamala Harris – She is only the second African-American woman ever elected to the Senate. Representing California, she’s the first Indian-American senator. Before being elected to the Senate, she served as Attorney-General for CA.

01222016-Pramila Jayapal

 

 

Pramila Jayapal is representing Washington State, and she’s the first Indian American in the House. She immigrated to the US at 16.

 

(photo credit – Seattle Times)

stephanie-1024x683

 

 

Stephanie Murphy is the first Vietnamese-American woman in the House of Representatives, representing Florida.

 

Other notable women I enjoy following:

Samantha Bee, because everything.

Ana Navarro, Republican Strategist, because she’s a fearless leader in calling Trump on his bullsh*t. Almost everyone else I follow, I follow because I agree with them on policy. She is very clear about what are policy disagreements between political parties, and what are human rights, civil rights, basic common decency and constitutional rights being trampled.

Valarie Kaur – powerful, powerful speaker. If you are ever feeling hopeless, watch her on YouTube.

There are so many more – from Audre Lourde to Roxane Gay; Linda Sarsour to Caitlin Moran. And Jenny Lawson. (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened made me sob from laughter. Sobbing. Tears running down my cheeks, clutching my stomach from laughter. Reading that book is some serious self-care.)

The list is endless. So I’ll leave you with a playlist of TED Talks, if you’re interested.

🙂

http://www.ted.com/playlists/192/10_talks_by_women_that_everyon

 

In appreciation for my friends.

—–This post has been my drafts folder for….a week?…two?

ok, it’s been there since December 27th-ish.

🙂 ?


For the idealized American family, Christmas\Channukah\Kwanzaa and New Year’s time is the time of rest. Most people take off work, the kids are off school… It’s lovely.
For anyone working in customer service, it’s a complete sh*t show, and it sucks. I get to New Year’s every year, and I’m torn between wanting to party it all out, or curl up in my bed and go to sleep forever. Lucky for me, I got violently ill the week before Christmas, so I was well rested and able to thoroughly enjoy my New Year’s.
AND I remembered to ask off New Year’s Day.
🙂
The best part of working the holidays in a customer service job, (and really, the only part I like) is my co-workers. A friendship born in the trenches of demanding, complaining, irrational, entitled people, crying, destructive and even vomiting kids springs up; we lean on each other emotionally and literally. We’ve been ALL over the emotional map, and I love that we make sure to meet each other’s crazy with jokes, hugs, and free food. I have made some dear, dear friends in this environment; and I am so grateful.The pressure of holidays in retail either makes you stronger, or you die. Or go crazy…but I think you have to start out a little crazy to begin with to even go into this industry in the first place.
This holiday season I was particularly aware of how lucky I am with my friends. I know some truly amazing people. They are all encouraging, comforting, inspiring, and absolutely HILARIOUS people. If you are reading this and you know me “in real life”, thank you. You’re amazing. This holiday season it was at the forefront of my mind that when I come back we will all be in completely different places – possibly geographically, possibly with kids….???
For just having come to terms with the fact that I’m well on my way to 30 years old, that thought was life-shattering.
a bit.
A couple of weeks months ago I received possibly the best complement of my life. One of my coworker/friends told me that I have the perfect body type for wonder woman. I have not stopped thinking about it, and I still smile stupidly to myself every time I think about it. It was this compliment that was the first spark that started this friend-appreciation post.
…in early December. Oops.
So thank you, thank you, thank you to all of my amazing friends.
I am so grateful you exist, and so happy I know you.
 ☺