Thursday, November 25, 2010

just another manic thursday

November 25, 2010
I thought I’d feel kind of alone on Thanksgiving, but I didn’t think I was going to be alone. However, things being what they are I had dinner with me, myself, and that annoying cat I just can’t seem to keep out of the house.
First, the lay of the land (better be on your toes here, it gets confusing). In this house it is me, an Auntie in her 70s as well as a part time Atay in her 50s who is my Auntie’s niece. She splits duty between her aunt here and an aunt in Tacloban (my Auntie’s sister). Next door is my Auntie’s sister and her husband (or maybe it was the husband that was the brother, not sure) and her son and wife, and then their daughter who is in her late 20s with her two young sons (the husband is in Canada). The daughter is a teacher at my school.
Second, arriving. When I got here it was just my Auntie and her poor cooking skills. My Atay was with her Auntie (sister of my Auntie) in the hospital. She had been there also but had come back to Alang Alang because I was moving in (a de facto guilt trip ensued, but nothing on purpose). So I spent the first part of that week eating reheated burnt rice and cold leftovers. Then last Thursday my Auntie left for Manila for some sort of something or other (I never was sure what was going on, but did know about it on my visit). So for the weekend I had the house to myself and the helper (a cousin somehow) bringing me food and the sister (oldest generation next door) coming over to check on me. And did she really check on me, but that is a blog in and off it self. Then for a bit on Saturday my Atay came, and it was nice. She can cook, and I was able to explain what is going to be going on with me while here. You know get down to business finally. My Auntie said she was coming back Sunday (but I think she meant Monday, or had the dates confused or something). The family asked me to go visit the Auntie in the hospital (which is awkward because I don’t’ really have the communication to say, “No thanks, I don’t do hospitals all that well” yet), and it was looking pretty eminent that I would have too, but thanks to communication gaps I was able to stay home. About dinnertime the helper came over and explained in her broken English that I’d be home alone again. So that was the first week.
Now, on to week two. My auntie came home while I was attempting to shower (I’m still being a pansy about that) and was saying a bunch of stuff to me while I was in the shower. Then when I got all dressed for breakfast I was made to understand she was going to Tacloban, and that was the last I saw of her. Tuesday morning at school the one my age told me that the Auntie had passed. That is awkward anywhere (even more awkward than going to the hospital to meet a dying person).
I’ve been home alone since, every one has been gone somewhere, but I don’t know where and for how long they will be gone. The helper girl keeps bringing the meals and every day or so they buy a new loaf of bread (I think they’ve purchased 10 loaves in the 2 weeks I’ve been here) and more jars of peanut butter (today they brought the 4th one in, and no I’ve not been eating peanut butter sandwiches 24/7 they just do that, my Palo family did it also).
So, here I sit, my first Thanksgiving in the Philippines and it is just like any other awkward Thursday. I think it is actually good that it is not like I’m here alone on thanksgiving while everyone else is celebrating with their families. To them it is quite literally just another Thursday.  I’ve tried explaining Thanksgiving to people at school, but they just want to talk about Christmas as soon as I say holiday. It is exactly a month away you know? That’s kids for ya!
Happy Thanksgiving All

thankful for it all

November 19, 2010
This week I got rocked emotionally! It was without a doubt the hardest one yet. I blame the lack of distractions. I was just sitting watching most of the week. I moved in with my new family and had to adjust to new people. Also had to adjust to the new house. The facilities have been a bit of a shock (it is really hard to will yourself to throw cold water on your self every morning). Of course, it does calm the nerves some after the hours and hours of constant crowing. I really miss my 10-rooster house in Palo. Plus being so close to the highway, and the rice store room (after seeing the process of rice I’m even less of a fan of it), and the metal shop my ears are shot. Then there is the new school, where I’m not really set to jump in too much until after Christmas (there are just too many fiestas and such to really get anything rolling).
Which means I’ve had a lot a lot of time to sit and think. Think about how dirty I am. How much I hate roosters. How lonely I am. How long two years is. But I also thought, how fast is this time going to go. As of today I’ve been part of this whole Peace Corps Philippines thing for 3 months. How did that happen already? As of today I’ve also been a real deal volunteer for a whole week! Today is huge! I also got to thinking, I chose to do this. I wanted to do something good, and step outside my comfort zone and experience something new and different. Another thing. I know how to read. I can read all day long if I wanted (or was tired of thinking about the giant spider on my toilet seat). All my favorite foods are just going to taste so much better after this. I miss the cold, but I’m not going to have to shovel or scrape windows for the next two years. People are jealous of me. They wish they had done this.
So darn it, I am going to do this! I’ve only got 2 years, and that is so so not long at all. I’ve got to make them proud!

Friday, November 12, 2010

what a long strange trip it has been... and yet it is just beginning

November 11, 2010
I feel like, what with this being the week I become a volunteer and all, you deserve a blog. I also feel like you probably really don’t want to read about my going to conferences all day starting Sunday at 1:00 to Thursday night at 5:00. Here is the gist of things, and then we will move on to more blog worthy things. Sunday and Monday were some business type PC things. Monday night I met my counterpart, and the rest of the sessions were basically training for when we get to site next week.
Now, for something you’ll really like. The stuff to blog about:
  • This week has left me with some very mixed feelings. Not that I hated training these past 12 weeks (but it was in fact training) but boy am I glad to be over with that part of my life. It was sad to leave Palo, and really too bad that it was too early for me to be showing the proper emotion, let alone any emotion. I really liked being there and loved the way our Barangay just took us in and showed us the ropes.
  • I also loved the people I got to go through this experience with, not just my cluster but the other clusters as well. I loved that we had the type of relationships that spending nearly every waking hour with each other was just not enough. And after this week we are being scattered about. Some of us here, some of us there, and others just staying right put. Because of that, we’ve been spending nearly every iota of free time that we have here together. At dinner we do whatever we can to get all 14 of us around the table. I’m so terribly sad to part ways with them, even though in 2 weeks we’ll see each other again, and then probably not too long after that.
  • Then there is worry of next week. I. Am. Going. To. Be. A. Volunteer. (let us just process that for a moment) I’ll be at site doing my Peace Corps thing. The first few months will be observing, and talking, and eating meryenda, and figuring out what I can do outside of teaching. I’ll be doing what I came to do, and that is wonderful, and scary, and wonderful because it is scary. I’m shaking in my heavy, heavy boots!
So that is where I am in life. I  soon to be sworn in official volunteer fixing to hop on a plane and fly alone to my site!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

ceiling wax, cabbages and things

November 5, 2010
So apparently some things did stick.
I took my LPI yesterday, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. It is set up as an interview, and mine was administered by the LCF for the CYF cluster. We’d heard stories about how… well we’d heard stories about his particular interview style. So of course that had my nerves. And the fact I was severely congested and had a lot of other things on my mind going on my head was swimming.
Luckily during the interview I was able to calm down, and somewhat successfully could talk about myself. I can say who I am, where I’m from, where I went to school, what I studied, what my parents do, if I have siblings, about the cold climate at home, mashed potatoes, teaching in Palo, my plans for Alang Alang, and kind of sort of ask questions about Leyte landing. I never got myself into the position to discuss movies and literature and the like. It was choppy, but I did enough to get myself passed.
There are 3 levels novice, intermediate and advanced, and then 3 levels within those. I placed myself right smack dab in the middle, and you know what? That is ok with me.

handog sa host family

November 6, 2010
So, last Saturday we got a text from our LCF asking us to meet at my place for a meeting (did she not know we had a pig to lechon?). She came over and was like hey guys you need to be in charge of planning this party, here are the details, get it done, then got in a pedicab and went away.
We had to plan the farewell and thank you party for our host families in one week and studied for previous blogged language test, oh and lechon a pig and party for that and have those plans by Monday. So my cluster mate and I quickly threw together a plan and said we are going to have to be those people that make business addresses at costume parties. We did it super fast, and it was totally delegating jobs and yelling over a karaoke machine and sounding so very bossy (not my favorite way to sound). Then had to email the business meetings to everyone the next day. Take the information gathered and make invitations and programs for the party. Oh and did I mention we had our interview this week also?
Part of the tribute was musical numbers. We worked on some ditties and some how managed to find time to practice more than once, and oh ya prepare for that interview.
Then we had our interview and life got better from there. Now all we had to do was buy things for the party, make some final musical adjustments, figure out what our group activity is going to be, and make sure every thing else is all set. And that is what we did.
Today it all fell together. The emcees were amazing! The speakers were sincere! The games were so fun! The food was tasty! The music was loud enough!
We laughed, we took pictures, we sweated, and now we are leaving. That is sad, but also it is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

where is my tan, and other quandaries

October 31, 2010
How is that tomorrow is November. I mean really, this is so baffling to me. Things I found noteworthy for October:
I really want to know why I am not more tan. I brought 2 long sleeve shirts that never get worn when the sun is shining. I walk everywhere. So why aren’t I darker?
Are my feet tan or is that dirt? Will my feet ever be clean in the next 2 years?
Is this finally the end of the three a.m. wake up calls? October is the month for Our Lady Fatima, the patron saint of the Philippines. Which means every morning at the chapel right across from my window they bang some sort of bell drum annoying thing to call people to the dawn rosary. I’m going to bed tonight with bated breath in hopes it ends now. I think it may not though because of tomorrow being All Souls Day and Tuesday being All Saints Day. And what does that even mean? Is it just a fancier way of saying Memorial Day? And do those days have dawn rosaries also?
I went to the beach on Friday and it was amazing. We went on a hike and then rolled in some waves. Quite a nice day. Today we are going to the beach, on Halloween. The weather is amazing and it is the end of October. Where is the snow and blow? And it isn’t even the hot season here.
It is however the rainy season. Why is it that we never have water when it has been raining a lot? And will my shoes ever really dry out?
If you were to have a regional fish why would you choose one with so many bones?
Why are the puppies here so darn cute?
And most noteworthy. I’m almost done with being a PCT. How did that even happen?