Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Year in Review

As this will be my last post of 2010, I am going to get lazy and post a recap of sorts.

I remember a radio station a few years back did a year-end recap of notable events in the guise of reading predictions that might have been made by someone, and which no one would have believed. Here is my list of predictions that someone might have made about me this time last year.

In 2010:

  • You will decide to move to a country that you won’t be able to accurately locate on a map the first time you try.
  • You will make good on your threat to quit your job but will work about 80 hours a week in the last two months you are there (OK – everyone who knows me could have predicted that one).
  • You will spend the better part of a month packing up your apartment and fitting almost everything you own in two small storage spaces, your sister’s basement and friends’ apartments.
  • After packing up your life and arranging a subtenant for your apartment, you will almost have everything derailed by needing gum surgery that causes your medical clearance to get revoked (but it will be reinstated two weeks before your departure date).
  • You will oversleep on the day you actually depart and frantically pack the last of what you are bringing by flinging everything left into your suitcases. You will be happy that you decided to take the train to Washington so that you wouldn’t be subject to plane carry-on rules. You will then spend the better part of the next day re-packing.
  • You will wonder about the fellow volunteer who believes it is wise to make origami boats from noisy candy wrappers while the director of the Peace Corps is addressing the group. Your conclusions about that person will prove accurate.
  • You will endure a 1 ½ hour bus ride from Georgetown to Dulles Airport in a bus without air-conditioning while it is about 100 degrees outside, wondering how a professional DC based bus driver can get lost on such a journey.
  • You will act as an amateur tour guide in Vienna for a bunch of people you just met and without having slept for 24 hours.
  • You will move into a village with a population lower than the block you lived on.
  • You will live with a family you never met before and they will not hit you when you stare blankly every time they speak to you.
  • You will @#$% in an outhouse, chase goats into a pen, hunt for escaped chickens, bathe every three days standing in a washtub, wash your laundry by hand and go to school six days a week.
  • You will live in a village with no indoor plumbing, no running water but with 3G internet service.
  • People you don’t know will entrust their five year old children to you, no questions asked.
  • You will see a chicken sacrificed at an ancient church and then be invited to join in when the chicken is roasted for lunch.
  • You will spend a day in the sun making haystacks the day after cracking your forehead open on a low doorway.
  • You will be able to buy gum by the stick by pushing a button next to a window, waiting for an old woman to open the window and paying the equivalent of about 2 ½ cents. And you will do so.
  • You will be subject to speculation around your village when you receive a package from the US.
  • You will become passably good at speaking a new language you have never heard before in less than two months.
  • You will get to be good friends with a group of people, many young enough to be your children.
  • You will have three separate addresses this year beside the one you had at the beginning of the year (again, people who know me would believe this one).
  • You will learn to sleep in twin sized beds with a mattresses filled with wool that are never the same shape any two nights.
  • You will take a vacation in what is essentially a trailer park.
  • You will be served cow hoof soup and quail hearts as special culinary treats.
  • You will be offered shots of vodka by perfect strangers. And you will accept.
  • You will shop in grocery stores where most of the floor space is taken by cookies, candy and vodka.
  • You will begin to think that vodka and wine costing more than the equivalent of $3 per bottle is expensive.
  • Your diet will incorporate fried foods, butter, sugar, salt, candy and cookies in proportions much greater than you have had in years yet you will lose weight.
  • You will experience power outages for no discernible reason and adapt by going to bed since there is nothing to do or read by flashlight. You will begin to find this normal.
  • You will buy sunflower seeds by the shot glass.
  • You and your host mother will take it in stride when your heater nearly causes an electrical fire because of shoddy wiring in a house rebuilt by hand after an earthquake more than 20 years ago.
  • You will develop a fan club of 17 year olds because you will be willing to make a fool of yourself dancing in a crowd when you have little idea about what you are supposed to be doing. And that will be televised.
  • You will go into a store and the man behind the counter will give you what you bought last time, saving you the trouble of remembering what it is called or which one you bought.
  • You won’t cook in your very nice New York kitchen, but you will in an unheated one with Soviet-era appliances.
  • You will live fairly comfortably on about $10 per day (excluding rent) and ponder that you used to spend more than that for a salad at lunchtime.
  • Without studying, you will develop an ability to read Russian letters.
  • You will happily be absent from a nasty election cycle in the US.
  • You will read the year-end best movie lists and realize that, for the first time in ages, you haven’t seen the vast majority of them.
  • You will watch an American TV program set in 1965 and marvel at how some things you see are remarkably similar to things you are now witnessing every day.
  • You will walk around an earthquake devastated city with 70% unemployment, witnessing people still living in “temporary” housing, still having to go outside to get water and use outhouses. You will realize that anything you complained about in New York is petty bullshit.
  • You will marvel at how long a list like this can be.
  • You will be amazed at how comforting a little artificial tree can be when presents from home are underneath.
Merry Christmas everyone, and wishing you all a happy healthy 2011.