Written feedback from my site visit is in my Inbox and the Greek chorus is my “challenge with language.” You know what I have to say to that?
One-sentence summary: Gave my first public speaking engagement to a group of local product vender/producers; new Guinness record of eight hours to mail a primary absentee ballot to Wyoming; six weeks of stubborn persistency and I now have a highway robbery form of personal Wi-Fi called “Mi-Fi”; took a night “off” (alone) for the first time in 127 days; semi-lengthy conversations of semi-substance with native speakers talking about more than what is Peace Corps and how many children I don’t have; and the amount of messages received about last week’s frustrations was truly startling — I feel like no one should ever pick the wrong fight with me — and I feel deeply loved.
Thank you for reminding me how to be here.
Right Now: I regularly have stark moments of clarity where I think ‘Holy F. why is everything in Spanish?’ while my brain-in-English continues to fight relinquishing control.
Expression of the week: “Claro. Ya pe. Nos vemos. Ya-chau.” [The exact sequence of words you need in order to exit any conversation as fast as possible.]
I am not going to lie. Week Six was kinda tough too.
And the only reason I am bothering to scrape my phone, keyboard, and eyeballs together into a blog post is because I stubbornly don’t want to miss out on a streak of eighteen weeks of bloggedy updates in a row.
Week Six: More highs, more lows, more victories, more absolute deadpan confusion. It took a few days to pull out of the tailspin from last week’s performance review. All told, it took leagues of energy. But I did, and a couple of you reading helped me, and after some good old-fashioned processing I filed it away in a laminated folder labeled “Remember This Next Time.”
So “Next Time” just happened to come again this week. A few “next times.”
But guess what? I am okay. It is not worth reliving by sharing a play-by-play. It is worth noting I am getting angry enough to stand up for myself and wasting less time wading through other people’s problems.
How am I handling it differently?
- I know who to call to quickly vent, check myself, and investigate my perceptions. I listen.
- I have a frame of reference to understand how quickly my emotions and the silo of translation can escalate.
- I remember I am not a baby heart brain rocket surgeon. I am a volunteering volunteery volunteer.
- And maybe one of the biggest lessons I am here to get: I treated myself like I would anyone else but me. (Thanks for the reminder, friends.)
That brings me to a new game!
And a sneaky way to get to bed in order to hike in the parque nacional with a new socia and a guia tomorrow. Rain or shine.
Would you (I) rather…?
Have hot pineapple carcass water (delicious) or limon dulce?
Hide with my tears of frustration in the woods at night so my family doesn’t hear through balsam-wood-thin walls or let it all out in my spaghetti chicken soup at the dinner table?
Eat cuy picante or cuy frito?
Deliciously sleep-in at 5:45 am when the alarm goes off or zombie march up 500 stairs for a daily dose of endorphins?
Pretend laugh at myself along with my co-workers when I say all the wrong things or not risk speaking incorrectly by talking at all?
Call a slippery new socia I have been mandated to present with on the phone (gasp) or WhatsApp a meeting confirmation in perfect Spanish with digital proof?
Say hello to a familiar stranger and be ignored or respectfully keep my head down until spoken to?
Internally compare myself to fellow volunteers posting beautiful images and stories on social media or call and ask how they are doing?
Walk to work and say hello to strangers who stare at me or bike as fast as I can to get to my desk where no one barely talks to me?
Spend a day traveling two hours (31 miles) and 40 soles ($13) (a week’s worth of volunteer discretionary savings) to vote in the Democratic primary in a predominately red state or save my soles for some nice self-care?
Go to seven different stores trying to print my absentee ballot on A3 Oficial (legal-sized) paper or message people (Ariel) in Wyoming to call the County Clerk and check for me?
Follow my Peace Corps “feedback” to focus more on my municipality or go visit another volunteer’s muni and realize how nice, friendly, and helpful co-workers can be?
Wear dirty stinky clothes or wet laundried clothes since it has been raining for three days straight?
Spend four hours writing an email in both Spanish and English to a staff member elaborately explaining, arguing, and proving how I am right or go hike in the National Park and see tropical wiggly things?
Take an interesting community leader out for coffee to hear more about their life’s work or sit at a desk in the storage closet at the municipality?
Spend a little savings for a bottle of not-Peruvian wine and a hotel room with hot water in a new place or hide in my host-family house/bedroom re-watching Bridesmaids for 1 hour and 47 minutes “off”?
Spend half a day correcting my site review report to better reflect accuracies of the first month’s account or just say bless your heart and go be imperfect wild-haired me?
…Because who has time for – or wants to remember – anything else?
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot
On Saturdays I make lunch for my family (anywhere from 3-8) after we cook and serve patasca y cachanga all morning at our restaurant. This week I made BLTs since we had piles of homemade bread. The bacon, freshly smoked at the farmer’s market, sliced by the metric unit, was everything unregulated home grown animal meat should be. Sorry, vegetarians.