Shout out to over-sexed teenagers. Shout out to sex abbreviations that sound like the word “puberty.” Shout out to animal euthanasia as sexual innuendo. Shout out to the new genre: nymphomaniac pop. Shout out to my Biebs. Go get some, bro. I’ll be reading the psalms, eating Scotch oatmeal cookies, etc. The world is abundant.
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”—Bill Bryson (via whereintheworldisflick)
Hi! I am so excited to have found your blog! I am looking into applying to the Peace Corps, I don't know enough about it yet but I've been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and I want to travel and make a difference and peace corps just really sounds right. I saw that Ukraine is a destination and thought that was really amazing, how do you like being a volunteer? It sounds really scary but amazing. I'm contacting a recruiter! :)
Hi there! Thanks much:) To answer your question, I can’t say enough good about Peace Corps. I love Ukraine. I love my site. I love everything about it. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made. But with that, I’ll add that it’s not for everyone. It’s a tough job—emotionally, physically, and mentally—for a number of reasons, but primarily because you are ALWAYS out of your comfort zone. For 27 months you will be uncomfortable, and it will give you the kind of terrifying, saddening, and enlightening insight that can only be achieved through uncomfortable experiences. But if it were easy, everyone would do it—right? I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled in my life.
You have to be ready for it, and you have to know what you’re getting into. You have to be satisfied in yourself, knowing fully that you’re not running away from anything, but that you genuinely want to invest in something good and real. A lot of volunteers don’t make this distinction, and they end up unhappy, disillusioned, and they leave.
So if you feel ready, do it. Apply. And embrace all of the weirdness and frustrations. It will change everything about you in the best possible ways.
Some days, I feel like my life here will never end. I feel the seconds slowly, cautiously stretching into days, months.
Other days, I feel like Ukraine is already slipping away from me. Like I’ll never have enough time to integrate, to learn, to engage, to love everyone and everything. These moments of a strange and wonderful life I’ll never get back.
Trigger Warning: I will be talking about sexual harassment, frankly but not graphically. I will also be talking about rape culture and situations that might be distressing for some people. Here is a puppy. Please, if you need a break, come back to the puppy photo and take a deep breath.
I think that the randomly sampled American, no matter how conservative, would agree with the following statement: A woman has the right to walk down the street without intimidation, harassment, or threats of violence. Its only when we start adding qualifiers that disagreement blooms—a drunk woman, a woman of color, a trans woman, a woman wearing fishnets and a miniskirt, a butch woman; a dark street, a dangerous street, a street where a lot of men are loitering. Then we start getting hedgy—well she shouldn’t have worn that or she should’ve known better, to the downright condemning—she was asking for it. To some people, just the way a woman
I’ve experienced this in-country as well. It’s discouraging and disheartening. Thanks for writing this.
I’ve been debating whether or not to write this, but I feel compelled. If only for the sake of giving voice to the anger and concern and disillusionment I have felt the past 24 hours.
Last night a friend and I were sexually harassed by some drunk men at a restaurant. I won’t go into what was said, because frankly, I don’t want to relive it. But I’m still fuming and somewhat in shock. I have never been talked to like that in this country or even in the U.S., and I hope never to again. It’s shameful.
But one thing is intensely clear: women’s bodies are still not their own. Something I’ve known for a long time—however, last night it became even more real to me. So here are some important realities that I want to drive home:
My value AS A HUMAN BEING is not determined by my ability or inability to give you an erection. Fuck you if you believe that. I repeat: fuck you if you believe that.
No ONE, man or woman, has a right OR obligation to TELL ANYONE how to feel or think about their bodies.
If this is what women in the public eye feel like every goddamn day, then I’ve developed a new level of sadness for them.
I’m still stunned, but as I told my friend—I cried, I dealt, tomorrow it will be nothing more than a turd sandwich. I’m angry and sad because the world can be so unwelcoming and cruel. I’m angry and disillusioned that in many parts of the world, this is normal for most women. I brought these feelings into my lecture on gender this morning and told the young women and one young man in my class that NO ONE is allowed to tell you what to do or think of feel about YOUR BODY. I’ll call that a minor triumph in light of some serious bullshit.
Predators are some of the most pathetic and unhappy people on this earth, and perhaps that’s the saddest part of it all.
And that’s all I will speak about said turd sandwich.
It has been six months since I have completed my service in the Peace Corps and returned to America, and in full disclosure, this is the fourth attempt I have made at writing a final blog post to sum up my experiences, convey what I have learned, and generally distill 26 months of service into one final post.
I will tell you right now that it is impossible. There is no way for me to accurately convey all of the life changing experiences, from the mundane to the earth-shifting, that I have had happened to me. Nor is there a way to ever tell how much of an impact I have might have had on the people of my communities in Namibia.
“Do stories, apart from happening, have something to say? For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me, the strange conviction, for example, that everything in life that happens to me also has a sense, that it means something, that life speaks to us about itself through its story, that it gradually reveals a secret, that it takes the form of a rebus whose message must be deciphered, that the stories we live comprise the mythology of our lives and in that mythology lies the key to truth and mystery. Is it an illusion? Possibly, even probably, but I can’t rid myself of the need continually to decipher my own life.”—Milan Kundera, The Joke
“Thirty-six years after his death and twenty-two years after the fall of the Soviet Union with all its khudsovets, Vladimir Nabokov is, once again, controversial.”—Michael Idov on the recent turn against Vladimir Nabokov in Russia: http://nyr.kr/13oYfQv (via newyorker)