Monday, August 13, 2007

Raging Narcissism. Or: I Look SOOOO Good

Just to point it out, I have changed the image at the top of this blog not because I have a raging need to see a Photoshopped image of myself (although I do), but because Peace Corps told me to; it is against Peace Corps policy to have the PC logo on any non-official document or used in any non-official way, and my previous blog banner had the logo on it. So I had to change it and this was the first thing I came up with. The end.

In current-news-related news, things are pretty much same old same old: we're overworked and stressed, and the forthcoming final language test is striking fear into us. Also striking fear into me in particular is the move to our permanent sites next Friday; mine could end up being awesome, as I've said, or it could end up being terrible, and I don't yet know which it will be. It will definitely be more lonely a lot of the time, especially depending on how much I am allowed to travel in my first few months at post (we're not allowed to take vacation time for our first three months at site, but none of us is yet quite sure whether this applies to, for instance, spending a weekend at a friend's post, since we're technically "on the job" all the time here. We think.). We'll see how it goes, and I'll be sure to keep everyone updated. Also, since I just thought of this and it's easier than switching browser windows to type it separately: Edan, when are you leaving, again? I am going to be very interested to see how different the experience is depending on what country you're in; I have no idea whether PST is relatively normalized across posts or whether what we're doing is totally different than what Morocco volunteers do. Let me know.

Oh, and since it was asked, the girlfriend is American and her name is Ellen.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Yes, I Still Exist. Or: Sort Of.

I realize that it's been an absurdly long time since I've posted. I am sorry about that. Also, I continue to realize that I say that at the beginning of every post. Hopefully once I get to site, where I'll have (knock on wood) daily internet access, I'll be able to post more at the rate that I intended to before I got here. But the flip side to having a lot more time to post is that the posts probably won't be as interesting. There are so many things going on here right now that I literally have no time to journal and post; I wish I could tell you all about them, but I just never have the time.

A couple weeks ago we found out our permanent sites, our permanent host families, and the organizations we'll be working with for the next two years (starting on August 25th, which I think is a Saturday, so I suppose starting August 27th). We learned our assignments on a Friday in Gori, spent two days at a filthily nice hotel in the mountains of northeastern Georgia where we met our supervisors, had training sessions during the day, and had mountains of fun at night (surprisingly, this fun included not only beer but also several aggressive games of table tennis), then left for two days at our permanent sites. My permanent site is a town in western Georgia called Chokhadauri; my NGO is only a year old, but the people seem very ambitious and ready to do even more things than they've done so far. It's going to be a very difficult situation -- not in a big city, not at an established NGO, and with no sitemates and little to distract me in the town -- and it's not what I would have said I wanted before I found out where I was going. But I'm really excited about the people I'll be working with, and there's definitely the potential to do a lot of really good things over the next couple of years. So we'll see how it goes.

At site, I didn't do a lot of work, since I was only there for two days, but my co-workers took me around the town and up into the mountains for a birthday supra (this was two days before my birthday) -- that's where my current Facebook photo was taken. There are more excellent photos from that day that I'll hopefully be able to post soon. When I got back to Gori that Wednesday (my actual birthday), I had drinks with a bunch of Trainees and we talked about our visits and what we were excited or concerned about. Then, this past Sunday, my girlfriend threw me ANOTHER supra in her village with a bunch of friends. So I definitely got more than I expected out of the first completely irrelevant birthday of my life.

Other than those bits of fun, though, it's been pretty difficult the last few weeks. We've had so much thrown at us by our training staff -- speeding through language modules without having any time to retain or understand all of the material, having to juggle multiple NGO training projects at once, even getting told that we were supposed to hold a one-hour training session on grant writing for university staff who didn't speak English, and that we were going to hold it in three days. This week we're going to the capital twice, to visit donor organizations and meet with some of their representatives in order to establish some working contacts, and to find the Peace Corps office there, which we haven't yet been to. That should be a lot of fun (it's obscene how much we're looking forward to eating at the McDonalds there...we have nowhere else to turn in a country that does not eat hamburgers) but leaves two fewer days to study or work on our projects.

All of this goes to say that I'll probably be just as difficult to track down for the rest of this month as I have been for the last couple of weeks, although if you'd like to track me down please don't let that stop you from trying. I'll be on Facebook as much as I can, but I probably won't be blogging much. Perhaps if I have free minutes here or there I can tell stories like That Time The Door of My Supervisor's Car Flew Open While We Were Driving In It, or That Time Everyone Started Freaking Out That Peace Corps Was Going To Kick Them Out For Drinking Too Much Because We Got A Warning Via Text Message, or That Time I Got So Sick That The Next Morning I Passed Out and Hit My Head on the Toilet (a very recent story that is really terrific, so I'll try to post it). Aside from that, I will talk to you guys from site, where life will again be completely new and hard to deal with. That will, I think, be the hardest transition of those we go through here, but it will also be (hopefully) the last one, since I will (hopefully) be there for the next two years. We'll see how everything goes. As always, let me know how everyone is doing and where you're all moving to and such. And if any more of you get pregnant. Or get married. Or get herpes. Communication is what life is all about, friends.