Me, too

I’ve spent the last several days reading about Harvey Weinstein’s deplorable behavior and feeling sick to my stomach. As part of a larger social media movement, I shared a few examples of sexual harassment I’ve experienced to my Facebook page. I debated whether or not to share those stories here, but have decided against it because my blog is public. I don’t feel comfortable going into detail here. However, I do want to say I think the #metoo movement is an important one. I would encourage men who might be reading this to talk to the women in your lives, and ask if they will share their stories with you. Sexual harassment is something that happens to women all the time. In spite of some of the difficult stories I have read this week, I am happy they have opened a much-needed discussion.

Happy Birthday to my Parents

Today is my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Last week was my mom’s birthday. And I forgot. 😦 This is the first time in my life I have ever forgotten her birthday. My only excuse is that I was busy at a conference.

During the conference, we participated in a reflection exercise where we had to consider who has been most influential in different aspects of life. My exercise partner and I both said our parents have been major influences on us, and that furthermore, we couldn’t think of anyone else who has had as much of an impact on our lives.

Do you think the reflection exercise jolted my memory? Like, oh hey, this person who has had a major influence on my life HAD A BIRTHDAY TWO DAYS AGO THAT I FORGOT? Nope.

It wasn’t until I was talking to my mom and she casually mentioned her birthday dinner that I was like, “Oh, NO! Your birthday!”

So, Mom, I am sorry. (This is even worse because I kept reminding myself this week is Dad’s birthday. How did I forget your birthday is the week before his?)

I hope you both had/have very happy days! And this time next year, I hope I am with you to celebrate in person! xo

Friday Gratitude: Sweater Weather!

Now that September has come, the temperature in Kosovo has dropped and it feels like autumn. I am happy that my favorite two-month stretch of the year has begun. 🙂

For the start of the school year, I decided to deep clean my room and re-arrange the furniture. I spent a lot of time in my room this summer. I needed the space to feel different. Living in someone else’s house is hard, so being in control of my own space feels good psychologically.

I was a little nervous about moving stuff around for fear of scratching the floor, but I was careful and that didn’t happen. After years of living alone, I am a champion furniture mover. The only thing I didn’t move was my bed, which is way too heavy, and I don’t know where else I’d put it.

Peace Corps Kosovo bedroom 2
Look! The rug I WILL NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT, because I love it so much.
Peace Corps Kosovo bedroom
My little couch is perfect for reading and watching movies on my laptop. 🙂
displaying crochet projects
My bedside tables always break because they’re old/crappy. I fixed these drawers yet again, and used the top to display some of my crochet projects.
bedside book storage
The bottom drawer of my other beside table was beyond hope, so I removed it and use it as a place to store books and electrical chargers.
Serbian Cross
I bought this cross for myself at the Serbian Monastery in Peja, Kosovo. It hangs on my bedside lamp.
organized desk
My desk. I bought the wood carving on my first trip to Tirana, Albania. I think of it as my “future island,” something that will one day hang in my home to remind me of my travels. 🙂

When we first moved to our permanent sites, Peace Corps gave us a “settling in allowance.” I wish we got another one our second year. I’ve bought several new things for my room this summer, including a fan, a better pillow, and an electric kettle.

Media Consumption …

  • My mom suggested that I read Dolores Claiborne, a timely choice of fiction about a woman who kills her husband during an eclipse. The narrative was strange, but I enjoyed the story.

Monday was our first day back to school. As I looked at the familiar faces of my students, I thought about how I won’t be here next year. It made me sadder than I imagined feeling.

I went to Skopje, Macedonia on Wednesday, and will be posting more pictures next week.

Today, I am going to Rahovec, a Kosovo city I haven’t yet visited. I’ll be attending their annual wine festival with some friends. 🙂

Happy weekend! Talk to you on Monday.

Friday Gratitude: Gearing Up

Last year, the K2 cohort took us newbies on a hike in Peja. This year, Rachel and I did the same thing for some of our new people.

p hike.jpg

Since this has been my last week off school, I’ve spent some time crocheting. Remember my Betty Boop mermaid? I decided to give her some plastic surgery:

crocheted mermaid
Before
crochet mermaid
After

Media Consumption … this is an accumulation of the past few weeks:

  • A friend told me his favorite book is Where the Red Fern Grows. I had never read it, so I downloaded it from the library. It was a good story, but as my friend said, very much geared toward boys. I later pointed out that none of the sisters in the book have names … they’re just referred to as “the younger one” and “the oldest one,” etc.
  • I found The Perks of Being a Wallflower on my Kindle (I have lots of mysterious books on there, thanks to other people). The story was well-written but again, as someone who did not have a typical high school experience, I have a hard time relating to teen stories. I mostly just read this because I didn’t have anything else to read at the time.
  • A blogger I follow gave a great review to We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. It is a collection of essays written by Samantha Irby, a Chicagoan. While I got a few laughs out of this book, I had a much stronger reaction to her descriptions of life in Chicago. (She used to live in my old neighborhood.) When she mentioned restaurants and streets and el stops, I could feel the knife twisting in my heart. Chicago was my home for 12.5 years, and there are times when I miss it terribly.
  • A friend recommended The Kill Artist, which was a fun read about international spies.
  • The Silver Linings Playbook was another mysterious Kindle find. I had seen and liked the movie. The book was good, too, though a bit different from the movie.
  • I finished my binge re-watch of Breaking Bad. I had different perceptions of it this time around.
  • I finished watching Game of Thrones! That zombie dragon, though!

***

I am so thankful to have the time to write. I took a break while I was helping with the film festival the week before last, and when I got home, I just had words pouring out of me. I couldn’t sleep because I had so much on my mind, and so much I wanted to share.

I got a very sweet email recently, from someone who told me he was inspired to apply to Peace Corps Kosovo after reading my blog. That’s all I could ever really ask for from this blog — I try to provide information that is thoughtful, and useful, and hopefully inspiring to others.

Through this blog, I’ve also “met” several Peace Corps volunteers from other parts of the world. I recently got this postcard 🙂 :

Happy weekend! I am looking forward to getting back to school next week. I am someone who appreciates structure and a purpose for daily life. This summer has been feeling really long, and not in a good way …

Surprise Saturday Post

I don’t normally post on Saturdays, but I wanted to share a few photos and stories I’ve seen on the web recently and liked. Happy weekend!

These photos, a collaboration between Polish photographer Marcin Nagraba and costume designer Angieszka Osipa, are stunning.

pagan-slav-culture-photography-marcin-nagraba-angieszka-osipa
By Marcin Nagraba, Agnieszka Osipa

I have long been an admirer of Jim Carey and a blogger I follow posted this inspiring video. “I needed color.”

I don’t think I would be brave enough to decorate my home this way, but this place is one-of-a-kind.

And last, this made me smile. 🙂

bride
From the Game of Slavs FB page

Friday Gratitude: Madness

Here are some things that are making me happy this week:

  • I bought plane tickets this week. Buying plane tickets makes my bank account sad. But it makes me very happy!
  • I finally decided to stop being lazy and upload my crochet projects to ravelry. You can see them here (not sure if you need an account): http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hellofromkosovo
  • I am heading to a language training for Peace Corps early next week. Good things: I’ll get to be in a city I like with friends I like. Bad things: I’ll be evaluated on my Shqip progress. *gulp*
  • I had a lovely dinner with another volunteer. You will get to “meet” him next week, when he guest blogs for me.

Media consumption:

  • I re-watched the movie Notes on a Scandal. It is one of the only movies I think is better than the book upon which it is based (the other is Revolutionary Road). In it, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett play teachers at the same school. The movie is told from the perspective of Judi Dench’s character, as she learns of Cate Blanchett’s character’s affair with a 15-year-old student. Though CB is the one having the affair, JD plays such a creepy, evil character you end up hating her more.
  • I decided to treat myself to a movie and went to see Beauty and the Beast. It was the second time I’ve visited a movie theater since I’ve lived in Kosovo. I didn’t care for the movie much. But these days, I appreciate stimulation of any kind.

On a sad note … They say things happen in threes and I know three families in the U.S. who have lost loved ones within the last week. A lot of people are on my mind, and a lot of people are in my thoughts and prayers. I am sending love to you all.

Feeling the Loss of Autonomy

I try to find the balance between keeping it real on this blog, while not complaining too much. But I’ve been feeling the blues on and off for the last two months. Things will start to look up and then something will happen to bring them back down again.

Friends and family often ask me, “What do you miss most?” And I think they expect the answer to be something like a person, or my cat, or some type of food. But the thing I miss most is getting to feel like an adult.

I don’t control what I eat or when I eat. I don’t control the temperature in my bedroom (currently, there’s no heat). I can’t decorate my bedroom in any real way. My means of transportation is limited. My monthly budget is tiny. I live in someone else’s house, meaning I have to do things based on someone else’s preferences.

I’m running out of ideas for this blog. I’ve got several half-finished crochet projects lying around. I’m losing focus in some ways. My bedtime has been getting earlier and earlier because after I accomplish what I want to for the day, I don’t see the point in finding more to do.

My poor mom has had to bear the brunt of my complaining. My end of our telephone conversations sound like, “UUUUGGGHHH.” (Thanks, Mom.)

I had coffee with another volunteer friend the other week. We were talking about time, and whether it has been passing quickly or slowly while we’re here. We couldn’t figure it out. He said, “The days are misery but then a month goes by.” I agree with that statement.

I suspected my first winter in Kosovo would be one of the hardest stretches of my Peace Corps service. And so far, it has been. I am trying to remind myself of the positive things that are coming.

I am going on vacation for spring break in 32 days. (Don’t you just hate me? All this complaining, and then I tell you I’m going on vacation soon.) I’m hoping this is what I need to pull me through this slump, to officially put an end to this winter chapter of my service.