I feel like something is missing. I'm out to find it, documenting life along the way.
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

21 July 2014

Traces and Footprints










So Much Love (divine), 
B

Moroccan Food

It just so happened that my time at home coincided with the Advanced Studies Program's Arabic Class lunch, so we offered them our home and help! Here are some photos of the delicious food Nada made, including Moroccan Meatballs and Vegetable "fingers", one of the students mother's made Kibbeh.
An added bonus was hearing the students talk about class, and getting to be nostalgic. I was lucky enough to be an intern the first year ASP offered Arabic, and it was, I daresay, life-changing.





Much Love, 
B




18 July 2014

Big Adventures

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Alright guys, we're nearing go time. So I'm picking up my blog where I left it, here's a meditation on patience and difficult spots I wrote this morning. 
   

            I decided to apply to the Peace Corps within the first minutes of a recruiting event. The recruiter started talking about her own experience and a feeling of fear crept over me. I couldn’t explain it, but that feeling made me certain of my decision. In my head, I was already stepping off the plane into a new place. Of course I spent the next month turning the decision over and over in my head, weighing all the factors, considering each outcome. You have to. The Peace Corps Application process is intensive. An applicant has to prove that they are equipped with skills that prepare them for all sorts of challenges. Suffice it to say that by the time I left my recruiting interview in April 2013, my decision to become a PCV was solid.
            A year and a couple months later, the long waiting game has only solidified that decision.  So here I sit now, only a couple months from the approximate departure date to Jordan, almost completely done with medical, and already my mind is in the Middle East. I am meeting new people, I am working on new projects, I am planning outfits. I am far far away in dreamland.
            And life goes on around me. The Peace Corps isn’t the only decision I’ve made in the past year. For the last year I have been trying to pick a new camera. I am extremely picky, and keeping PC in mind, I wanted to make sure that anything I buy also fit certain travel criteria. I asked everyone, I researched online for weeks, I had my parents ask anyone they knew, and finally, last week, my new camera arrived in the mail.
            I charged the battery, put in an SD card, and set out into the woods. Within half an hour I wanted to smash the camera into a rock. I had done my research on this camera. I knew that it was the right camera for me. I had seen images my friends had taken with it. I had read the manual about four times before taking it outside. Yet I couldn’t take one good picture. It was a completely new user interface, buttons made no sense to me, and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get it to do a single thing I wanted.
            I stormed home, crashed upstairs, and lay down in bed completely frustrated. Half an hour later I picked up the camera again, and exhaling, set about exploring every tiny feature I could find. I held the camera up to the manual, played dumb, and trusted that patience would work. Three days later, I can get some interesting photos. I still have to work on it, but at least I can take a picture of a leaf and focus on the leaf. And people were right, it is the right camera for me, it offers everything I was looking for, just in a way I wasn’t familiar with.
            I know it seems silly, that such a tiny thing really struck home. But for some reason, it stuck with me. I’ve been using the same camera for years now, why was I expecting to pick up a new camera and intuitively get it?
Probably because it was a camera intended for the Peace Corps, the situation got me thinking about the future, and the moment I actually leave. I’ve been living in the same city for years now, and I’m about to go to a completely new place. I’ve been so far ahead in my mind that I almost forgot the most important thing: this is going to be really hard. The funny thing is, this is a lesson I’ve learned over and over again. It just won’t stick. When I moved to a boarding school dorm (yes, down the road from my parents house) I cried for a couple days, in France at age 16, I cried for a week, in Beirut I spent a day in bed. Hell, I just got a new camera and was almost ready to smash it in 30 minutes.
            But the lesson isn’t that I’m easily frustrated. It’s the next part that I have to remember. That something inside of me always takes a breath, sucks it up, and makes an effort. Boarding school was fantastic, France is a second home to me, and Beirut was the city where I discovered who I was and what I wanted. Adjusting takes time, and in order to get something out of an experience, you need to put something in. In many ways I’m grateful for the small reminder. The tug out of dreamland put things into perspective. In two months, I don’t leave for vacation; I leave for “the hardest job I’ll ever love.” This is going to be terrifying, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not exactly what I’ve been looking for, and that I won’t ever enjoy it. It just means that I need to keep reminding myself that there will be difficulty, and that I have the capacity to overcome this. And putting this all onto paper, I realize that it’s something I’ve known all along. That fear I felt at the very beginning was the acknowledgement of difficulty yet to come. And the certainty that accompanied my decision way back then came from knowing that I’ve done this before, and I want to do it again. Like Peter Pan said "To live will be an awfully big adventure".
       
Love, 
B

22 June 2014

Sunburn

I was just playing around with my camera really, but I got a huge sunburn taking these so I figured I'd take the time to edit them. Turns out I'm happier with them than most flower photos.
They're still just pictures of flowers, but I enjoyed them.
I thought you might too.




Love,
B

15 June 2014

Street Art

Picture of A Wall

A desk!


So I just moved into a new apartment (read:sublet) on the LES for the summer and what I'm discovering is that with a desk comes my creativity! (A 103 degree fever with lack of food will do a good job getting creative juices flowing as well... But the desk helps.)
So here are some things I've been creating in the past two weeks.
I Can't Imagine Sleeping With Wings Is Very Comfortable. Sharpie, pencil

After Pollock. Crayon, clay, acrylic, matchsticks.

Fever Dream. Pastel.

Curiosity, 'Feeling of an Almost Human Nature'. Sharpie.

That's all for now! 
But there will be more. 
Oh there will be more.

Love,
B




15 April 2014

Waiting


It's important to me that I establish the following as an undisputed fact before I begin: Children's Books are not just silly stories, they are life lessons wrapped in magic layers of adventure and escapism. They are one of my greatest passions, hobbies, and the objects to which I have devoted more time, and money than travel, clothing, or anything else I profess to love. The closest people to me buy me Children's Books as gifts, and I have three bookshelves dedicated to young adult literature, not to mention picture books. It is extremely important for me to establish this because it might explain why I was so troubled by a recent moment in my life. 
A couple months ago, sitting on a couch with three children, I burst into tears while reading "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" out loud.  It's okay. You can laugh. I did. 
Why was I crying? Well, that Waiting Place that he warns about? That "most useless place"? I saw myself there. Right in between the skier waiting for the snow to snow, and the child waiting for the pot to boil, there I sat with my day planner. There are many things I can tolerate in life, the discovery that I had fallen victim to an evil that Dr. Seuss had warned me of? I can't tolerate that. 
Last year, January 2013, a few days before I received my diploma, I submitted my application to the Peace Corps. Now, 14 months later, here I sit, flipping through unfilled pages, wondering if I'll hear from someone soon. Most of the time, it feels like waiting for the snow to snow. And so, for the last year, I've seen myself as mentally occupying that waiting place, and feeling sorry for myself. I've avoided questions, avoided telling people, avoided giving more than the basic, sarcastic, vague answers to all who ask me what I've been doing with my life. Keeping my mind filled with excuses. Then, a few days ago, when I once again shook my head sadly towards someone asking me if I had  heard back from the Peace Corps, they smiled and replied: "Well, at least now they can see how dedicated you are!" 
I don't know why, but that's how it clicked. I'm not stuck in that Waiting Place. I'm not just sitting there slowly turning into another funny doodle of a scary and slightly depressing Dr. Seuss allegory; I'm moving forward slowly, and I'm learning how much I really want to travel, to help, to meet new people, to teach. I need to stop being scared to tell people I've applied to the Peace Corps, fearing that they'll  tell me about their friend who did the whole thing in a couple months. I need to realize that I should be proud, I'm working two jobs I enjoy, I'm living my life. I'm not JUST waiting for the phone to ring or the snow to snow. I'm working, playing, running, and still reading children's books whenever I get a chance. Sure I'm waiting, but I'm just passing through. I wont be there forever.

So here are questions I've been avoiding. And my best attempts to answer them.

So, how long does it take to apply to the Peace Corps? 
On average? Nine months. I'm sure you know someone who did the whole process in about that amount of time, maybe less. But sadly, my application is taking a little longer. 

Why? 
At first I was on a regular track. I applied in January 2013, Interviewed with a recruiter in March 2013, she nominated me for candidacy in April 2013, and I got a Medical Kit and Legal Kit to fill out by May 2013. And thats where I hit a snag. Most people send in their medical history and three to four months later a nurse tells them they have been Medically Pre-Cleared. (Which means barring a weird fluke on the final physical, you're good to go). But as soon as my medical history was received they requested aout 10 more pages and a questionaire to filled by my doctor. You see, I don't think this is a great place to elaborate, but I will say, most people hit difficulties in their lives, mine happen to be clearly marked out in my medical history. The Peace Corps felt that they needed more information before sending me to any countries where access to medicine and medical aid might be limited. My doctor sent in her analysis of the situation, I waited, and then the Government shut down. 
When the shutdown ended I was contacted by a nurse who wanted my own personal account of my medical history. This is common for people with less perfect medical history, they want to give you a chance to explain your past and why issues you may have faced will not trouble your time in the Peace Corps, where you may be under greater stress. I wrote her a painfully detailed account of my medical past in November 2013, and in February 2014 I was medically pre-cleared. Then they moved on to legal. That went through in March 2014, and now my file has been sent to a placement officer. This officer will look at my file, ask me more questions, and then determine if they want to extend a specific invitation with a specific departure date. 

So where will you go? 
I had the option of narrowing down the countries I would be willing to go to. I didn't. I have two main reasons I applied to the Peace Corps: to learn about a new culture, and to help people. I can do that in any country they may send me to. 
But you speak French and Arabic. Wont you go to Africa or the Middle East? 
Maybe. I'd love to be able to use my existing language knowledge. But I don't mind learning a new language. Who knows, maybe the countries that are available in the places with these languages do not fit a medical requirement that the nurse who read my file gave me. It's very possible that upon reading my file she placed a hold on countries where specific aspects of medical treatment were too limited. I won't know unless I get an invitation. What I do know is that any choice about countries I can make right now would be based on knowledge much more limited than that of the officers who are placing me. 

What will you do? 
I'd love to teach. I have experience teaching. I also have experience in nature. Working with children. Program planning. Business management. They will put me where I am most qualified. I can meet people doing anything. And if I'm unsure as to the exact path I wish to take in life, I might as well see what they decide I'm best at. I have experience doing things I love. They'll decide based on experience. I can't lose. 

Arent most people nominated to specific programs? 
Yes, but not always. They needed more information before placing me. 

So you're in basically? 


No. Sadly. The placement officer can tell me that I'm not qualified for any programs. But thats why this whole journey is and has been important. Because I didn't just wait around, I volunteered, I kept working, I took up a new job working with kids. I'm still waiting, but I'm learning from the wait. And I'm no longer afraid to admit I'm nervous. Because I want this. Enough to keep a toe in Dr. Seuss scary waiting place, and enough to know that if I don't get it i have a clearer sense of what I want in life. 

27 July 2013

Introducing... Me again.

Hello all!
I apologize for the lack of content in... well about a year now isn't it. As you can tell from the above photo I am deeply ashamed and depressed about this fact. I've begun a 365 project (AGAIN) over on my flickr and I'm going to start posting them here, along with any other things I happen to find interesting. I probably in all honesty won't have much written content so apologies in advance.
Much Love,
B

13 November 2012

Reflection

If there's one thing I love it's a good walk down from the upper east side to the Village.

Here's why it's so much fun:





Much Love, 
B

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