Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Central Asia Proves Itself To, yet again, Be In The Middle of Nowhere

Let’s revisit First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria. My dad brought the book home for me after one of the acquisitions consultants at Audible recommended it upon hearing that I was planning on going into the Peace Corps. He told me that it was the kind of book that would make me not want to do the Peace Corps. Or at least…he was probably hoping that it was the kind of book that would make me not want to do the Peace Corps. In actuality, it makes me want to do the Peace Corps even more. Because you see…Eve, the author, quit. And I’m competitive. So I want to prove that I’m better than that. It makes me really want to do the Peace Corps, and not quit.

But here’s the thing…I can’t seem to get away from the constant reminders of how isolated Central Asia is. In the book, Eve ends up following her husband to Uganda. Without any background, she goes straight into talking about the affects of Idi Amin’s rule and dropping names of other African countries like the reader’s supposed to know exactly where they are relative to Uganda. Now maybe it’s a generational thing…but I had to Wikipedia Idi Amin the first time he was mentioned, because I had no idea exactly who he was or what the history of Uganda is. Yet, Eve treats it like it’s common knowledge. She even points out that the only things she knew about Uganda before going was about Idi Amin. Okay…just make me feel even more inept for having to Wikipedia him.

I would completely accept this as an oversight by an author too involved in a country to recognize what the average American is likely to know about it, if it weren’t for the fact that she ends up in Uzbekistan by the end of the book:

“When we returned to Kampala, John had several frantic messages from the Peace Corps. They desperately wanted to interview him for the job of Assistant Country Director in (now hold on to your hat and grab your atlas) Uzbekistan. In case you’re looking for it, Uzbekistan is in the souther part of what used to be the Soviet Union, near Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Tajikstan.”

Gee…that’s great…even the world traveler and international volunteer extraordinaire Eve Brown-Waite has never heard of Central Asia. That’s awesome. On a slightly awesomer note however…the Peace Corps has Country Director jobs? Do you think they have them for every country? Would it be possible for me to go straight from my service into Country Director?? And just like…never leave??

And on another happy note, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria ends with a letter that Eve wrote home from Uzbekistan:

“We recently received three interesting pieces of news in the mail. One was from the State Department warning about the unsafe conditions for Americans in the West Bank; one was a news article about rioting in Yerevan, Armenia, along with a State Department warning to all Americans living in Armenia; and the third was a news article from The New Vision, whose headline read: ‘Rebels Invade CARE office in Arua.’ Bet you’re glad that we’re in Uzbekistan!”

Great! Central Asia sounds safe!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Roughing It

The whole neighborhood had plans to spend Labor Day Weekend on the Eldred’s island in Canada. I’d heard a lot about this island…the place where Rope Ferrians go to “rough it” with no cell service, no electricity, and only enough ice to keep two cases cold at a time. For various reasons, I’d never been, but I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to test out my roughingness ability in preparation for the Peace Corps: would I be able to light a kerosene lamp in the middle of the night in order to go to the bathroom? Would I be able to bear the lukewarm-fire-heated “hot tub”?

Short answer: maybe not, if I had appendicitis.

A few days before leaving, I woke up (or…stayed in bed) with a massive hang over that literally took me out for the entire day. This was strange and something that’s never happened to me before. But my mom took no sympathy so I just wallowed in pain. I finally got a little curious when the pain continued into the next day. No way. No hangover is two days long. Right? As an athlete, I’ve always been a little hyper-sensitive about aches and pains. (I’ve also always been curious if I have an incredibly low pain tolerance or if I’m just in touch with my body…but that’s one of those things that’s just really hard to figure out. Like…you can’t trade pain with someone to see how you’d react to what they’re feeling.) Anyways, I had a little bit of a fear that this pain was in just the right place for it to develop into appendicitis. Which would not be a-okay while roughing it in Canada.

Finally, 24 hours later, my mom felt enough pity on me to take me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with the UTI from hell. Given antibiotics, and sent up on my way to Canada.

Coincidentally, at this time I was also reading my newest Peace Corps memoir, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria, which is about a Peace Corps volunteer who quit, only to return to Africa a year later, following her husband on a job. The chapter I was suffering through reading while driving the miserable eight (five – ha!) hour drive to this island was about her getting pregnant in Uganda. The humor in the chapter was that not one of the doctors could confirm or deny the pregnancy for her. They all said that she was “a little bit pregnant.” (It’s on the back of the book jacket, so you don’t even have to read the whole thing to confirm this if you don’t believe me.) Of course, the fear here is that she could have had an ectopic pregnancy.

A symptom of which would be pain in the lower abdomen. Similar to pain that could be mistaken for appendicitis. Or maybe mistaken on a urine sample as a UTI????????

The author goes into some detail about the fear of having an ectopic pregnancy in a place like Uganda…or like on an island without electricity in a country with socialized medicine….

Now…I’m on birth control, I use condoms, and apparently am very unattractive because I haven’t had sex in like three months. So realistically, an ectopic pregnancy would have been impossible…but I was obviously asking myself a lot of “what ifs” as I laid convulsing in chills on the beautiful and warm sun porch on the island without electricity. And even though I kept on eating and drinking and taking those antibiotics they gave me, my fever kept on rising and rising and my vomit bursts got closer and closer getting to the point where I just couldn’t take the antibiotics anymore. (Is that an over share? Or was the pregnancy part an over share?)

So ultimately mommy and I gave up roughing it and packed up the multiple suit cases we had brought to rough it for the weekend and headed back to the marina and back to the US and non-Obama-care medicine where I was ultimately treated for a kidney infection.

Moral of the story: damn am I happy that the US was only five hours away from roughing it. And what am I going to do if I get a kidney infection in freaking Kazakhstan??

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The First Book

Ironically, perfectly, dauntingly titled this is not civilization (no caps perhaps because capitalization hasn’t yet reached Central Asia?), I sat down to read Robert Rosenberg’s novel in about two days. I was captivated. He wrote autobiographically (I think) about his experiences before, during, and after a term of Peace Corps service in Kyrgyzstan. Sound familiar? There’s a reason I picked it up off the virtual shelf that is This book provided me with my first insight on what exactly Central Asia is and where it is developmentally…and served as my first exposure to a Peace Corps memoir outside of the official ones provided by the organization when everybody has a purpose and everything ends happy.

My biggest take-away from this book is that in Kyrgyzstan it’s still completely legal and acceptable to “kidnap” one’s bride. Meaning that if a man kidnaps a single woman, she must marry him. Meaning that if I’m assigned to work in Kyrgyzstan and I’m walking down the street one day and some guy pulls me into his car, he better be attractive – or at least wealthy – because he’s going to be my husband. The book actually didn’t go into the details about if this is the case with white females. I guess the male author didn’t see this as a concern (no interest in finding a bride for himself) but I can only assume that after 2 years in Kyrgyzstan it wouldn’t matter if I was white anyways.

The real reason this tradition popped out at me is not because I’m fearful of being kidnapped – I still have that thing of mace that my grandmother gave me for like my 16th birthday – but because it fits in so perfectly well with my mom’s biggest fear of me going into the Peace Corps: that I’m just going to find love somewhere, settle down, get married, and never come back to the US. I laughed when she first expressed this fear to me because I said it would have been a possibility had I been assigned somewhere pretty like SE Asia…but that I thought it was very unlikely that I would find love in Central Asia (is it just me, or when you picture Central Asia/Russia, is it impossible to conceive of a 20-30 year old male? The area just seems devoid of them to me…probably my sub-conscious mixing together everything I know about the region: being that it’s had various purges and wars throughout its history, wiping out that entire demographic of the population). Anyways…didn’t think I would find love in Central Asia. But then I learned that in Central Asia, LOVE MIGHT FIND ME. That sounds a little super sweet and like a slight possibility, so Mommy now again has reason to be worried.

The second thing I learned from this book is: once in the Peace Corps, always in the Peace Corps. After his term of service, the main character leaves Kyrgyzstan for a US Foreign Service job in Istanbul (this is all starting to sound like my own future autobiography) where he is eventually tracked down by two of the people from his previous village begging for exorbitant sums of money…assuming that since he is white and nice…he must be able to provide. He of course doesn’t, because he can’t, but that doesn’t mean that his new house guests leave. It actually means they stick around for months, just hoping that one day he’ll give in.

I’m not sure I’m too excited about the possibility of villagers I serve coming to find me years later asking for favors. Although the way he describes it, Istanbul sounds beautiful. So I guess that’s a worthy trade-off?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 27 – Looking Ahead

The real world: it’s still a scary and far off place. Even though I just entered my graduation date in to my GCal and I just had what could actually be considered my first job, my decision to join the Peace Corps to earn in two years what my peers will be earning a month…or a week…really pushes off entering “the real world” for at least a little bit more.

Even though I had always wanted to join the Peace Corps, I don’t think I ever gave it significant thought. If I had, I may have, say, learned a few trade skills along the way. I don’t think the failures of the liberal-arts-but-it’s-okay-because-i-bankers-will-hire-you education has ever been more obvious as when I filled out my “Skills Addendum” for the Peace Corps. Actually, I didn’t fill it out. I left the entire thing blank. They called me and told me that I hadn’t returned that part. I told them I could probably teach English. Thank you college education…for teaching me how to speak English.

So obviously I had not put much time into actually thinking about the Peace Corps and what they might ask me to do. The only thing I even knew for certain about the Peace Corps is that it is hot. You either go to Africa, or Latin America, or Southeast Asia…wherever you go…it’s hot.

So I was a bit surprised when during my interview I was not only offered a nomination (I still think my application was majorly subpar), but I was told where I’d likely be going: Central Asia.

Umm, where?

Central Asia: Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, Krghyzstan, Kazakstan.

Oh, but of course. At least I did restrain myself from saying “Oh! Like in Borat!” But without Borat I don’t think I would’ve known any of those to be countries. Seriously…wtf? Peace Corps is supposed to be HOT, not in soviet Russia. I actually don’t think I could name a part of the world in which I have less interest. My best friend is an Econ major at Cornell. She’s also studying Russian because she wants to be able to apply to econ knowledge to studying the economic effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union. When she first told me this, I did not restrain myself from telling her how miserably boring that sounded. But oh well…to each his own…until you start assigning me to live in Kazakstan for two plus years of my life.

But I quickly reminded myself that the purpose of the Peace Corps is to serve others – not oneself – so I was thankful for the offer and decided to start reading up on this ominous Central Asia.

I find it entirely fitting to report that Dartmouth’s library contains only one shelf of books on Central Asia…located in the corner of Stack Annex B. “Where is Stack Annex B?” you ask. (And I understand the asking, after 3 years of being here, I had to pull out the map for this one.) Well, to get there, you first have to go into the old part of the library…y’know that part that has cells to lock oneself in while studying for exams and generally remind me of a prison with its metal rows of books and short ceilings. And then you go DOWN the stairs. (Up until today I did not even know this was a viable option.) TWO levels. (The only redeeming factor of the stacks is that it generally has pretty views, if you overlook the studying in a prison part. But there aren’t pretty views when you’re two levels below ground level…I guess at least with how short the ceilings are you’re really only one though?) And then you wander around Stack Level B for a few minutes not finding the DS’s anywhere until you see a sign that says “More D’s this way,” And you follow it through an airtight door into STACK ANNNEX B, a nice, carpeted room whose isolation makes “sex in the stacks” sound like a joke of a challenge. (It was way riskier when/where I did it.) And then you find the DS row, and then you learn that you actually have to turn on the light at the end of the row (on a 15 min timer) in order for you to see your selection of Central Asiatic Journals and Prehistories of the Silk Road.

And only then do you realize that you need not bother reading any of these books, because you already learned quite a bit about Central Asia by the size and location of Dartmouth’s Central Asia collection.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Here We Go

Better video, on youtube, accessible to everyone.


Tonight we started to brainstorm our act for the next talent show. Looks like Fight Club will be continuing for the remaining two weeks.

We're All In this Together

Here's a "better" video of our performance last night. "Better" because you can see me better. I'm number 20, like fifth out in the beginning. There's a very nice hole so you can see me in the third row, stage right for the entire second chorus. It's a really good sign that I have to give such explicit directions for seeing me, because that means that I didn't mess up! (Well actually I did, but that one part is hidden. And I blame it more on Jay.)

Better Video

(You might need facebook to see it. The youtube one isn't as good...)

Youtube Video

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How I’ve Been Spending My Time

1. Not updating this blog. Meaning that I’ve been failing to compete with Donks Do America (, the newest B-side Tucker Max blog that can be found on the internet.
2. Not efficiently. At all. Turns out my inability to prioritize or sit down and do work followed me back to St. Paul’s.
3. Dislocating my shoulders. Both of them. One of them I did in public and therefore had to go through this whole process of having the trainer pop it back in (he says that you can pinch nerves if you do it yourself?!), icing it, wearing a sling, and filling out an accident report form. The other one I also did in public, but I learned my lesson from the first time so I was able to run away while holding my dangling right arm in my left hand (which was still in a sling) and pop it back in without anybody seeing.

The first shoulder episode meant that I had to sit out of intern fight club for a day. I was very upset about this, but Mr. O (who was around the very first time I dislocated a shoulder), confused as to what exactly intern fight club was, wouldn’t let me leave the Fitness Center until I finished icing.

This was really unfortunate for me, and all other parties involved (namely my fight club partner, Jay) because “fight club” is actually a code word for “sick nasty youtube worthy talent show stopper high school musical finale DANCE ROUTINE”. That’s right. All 39 interns (well actually only 36 of us – three are pretty lame/more injured than I am) have been spending over an hour a day for the past two weeks learning the High School Musical 1 final dance, We’re All In This Together. Obviously, dancing is not my forte, or in anyway even a skill of mine – I quit ballet after an embarrassing two years only to return as Lady Ginger in the Nutcracker my sixth form year here.

Just to give you an idea of how terrible I am at controlling my body and listening to music, during our first rehearsal Hillary introduced the first four beats: “bounce, bounce, bounce, clap. Okay, all together now.” To which I screamed out “WAIT!!! Can we just go over the first bounce?” After a two hour rehearsal, I mastered the bounce-bounce-bounce-clap-bounce-bounce-bounce-crossarms routine, but had a little trouble coordinating the next step: arms uncrossing and stepping at the same time. Good thing we started two weeks early.

And then came the disastrous shoulder dislocation. If I thought I was struggling when I was actually able to rehearse – it was nothing compared to how I felt when I got back into it after sitting through two practices. (It’s hard to learn a routine from the sidelines.) I don’t really understand how or why…but I seem to always be two beats behind or one beat ahead (this happens when I get too excited about knowing what the next move will be) and then I just physically cannot do the “throw your hands up in the air” part. But at least I’ve managed to find an equally incompetent partner. So when the partner part comes around we basically just stare at each other with fear in our eyes before catching up with what the rest of the group is doing.

So…some of you (myself included) might wonder if it’s been the best use of my time to spend 1-2 hours a day practicing a routine of which I have no hope of mastering, especially considering that my solid 6 hours of sleep has been wittled down to 4 or 5 a night. It’s a pretty obvious question of why don’t I just skip Fight Club every day (especially when “injured” and “icing”), get work done during that 2 hours instead, and then get just a little more sleep.

The justification for this will hopefully be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Picture!

Since I lost my camera trying to make friends with the hyenas in Namibia...and then again when moving out of my apartment/room in Boston this's actually quite exciting for me to have a picture to share!

This is a group of the interns during last Wednesday's Square Dance. We had like the most famous caller ever come. He even won some national award. (Which was announced during the square dance by somebody walking up to the mic and saying that they had an announcement "of national importance" to make. We actually all flipped for a second, thinking the worst ... and then it turned out that he won the award!)

I'm wearing little boy overalls that I had to cut off to make fit. Note the location of the back pockets. Also note the lovely background of the cage because it rained during all of last/this week so every single event has been moved inside.

300+ people square dancing inside with limited ventilation = sweatyness + great first impressions

Crossing Boundaries – June 29

At “THE BIG ONE” meeting during intern training week, we learned all about boundaries and how not to cross them. So I’ve been doing a very good job of not developing crushes on students (which, at times, has required me to scream that I’m an intern while running away from situations) and instead focusing my energies towards that group that used to be my teacher(s) at SPS that is no longer off-limits… That is. Up until tonight. When I developed a crush on one of the students.

You see…ASP has this tradition called “serenades” when boys travel to girls dorms after check-in (or vice versa) and sing them a song. Adorable isn’t it? Tonight Middle (a boys dorm during the summer!) was scheduled to serenade us. We keep this quiet from the students but our way of getting them all to gather in the common room for it was to plan a birthday party for one of the girls in the dorm. Since it actually was her birthday this was pretty believable.

The girls in my class had asked me point-blank if we were getting a serenade tonight and I lied right back to them, insisting that we were not. In perfect timing, a group of boys walked past our window on their way to serenade a different dorm. All the Con20 girls FREAKED OUT. Like I have never seen a group of girls scream louder…only to be disappointed by the fact that the serenade was not actually for them. Allowing us interns to sit back in a “told ya so” manner as we waited for Round 2 of the screams.

It worked out perfectly, we were convincing our girls to start working on their serenade (we’re going to a boys’ dorm on Wednesday). As one girl was about to hit play on her iPod we heard a few strums of a guitar. Most of the girls just assumed that the song had already started, except for those who were closest to the iPod who started to look around. And then slowly more girls started to realize that the iPod was not actually playing the music they were hearing. And then we saw them: a whole group of boys who had snuck in the back way, walking down the hall towards the common room, singing the Beatles and being led by two guitarists up front. Amazing.

I cried. And I didn’t cry during My Sister’s Keeper. That’s how good it was. When they finished their rendition (I couldn’t quite figure out what song it was because they changed pretty key words into “Con20” and other words related to our dorm) they asked for the special birthday girl to step forward. The two guitarists then butchered Happy Birthday on their guitars for a few awkward moments (really awk considering they had just flawlessly played The Beatles) before the rest of them broke out into an overwhelming Happy Birthday and parted down the middle for another boy to walk forward carrying

wait for it


Oh my god so freaking adorable.

So I obviously immediately fell in love. I’m not quite sure which one I fell in love with. But I know it was one of them.

Something in Hollywood’s Water? – June 28, 2009

The age difference – or lack thereof – between the interns and the students has created an interesting dynamic. We’d all like to think that we’re significantly older than our students in order to justify the fact that we’re teaching them, so we tend to exaggerate the difference. We’re shocked to see them wearing Backstreet Boys t-shirts (but seriously, I thought they peaked when I was in seventh grade?) and then out of nowhere, one student mentions that she’s 21. WHAT?

Anyways, the recent spike of deaths in Hollywood presented an opportunity for us all to play the age game. While a lot of our “shock” of growing up with the same bands and TV shows might be an exaggerative way for us interns to reaffirm that we are, in fact, older than our students … meaning that we are, in fact, qualified to be teaching them in class, in sports, and in the dorms, we were legitimately worried that they would not all be as distraught by Michael Jackson’s death as we were.*

I wasn’t as concerned about them not knowing about Farrah Fawcett seeing as I probably would not have known who she was had the first article I saw not been accompanied by a picture of her…

We learned about MJ during dinner. All the interns were sitting outside (we consider reserved tables part of our compensation) when one pulled out his phone (there’s service on campus!) to read aloud a text from his girlfriend: Michael Jackson was just declared dead! WHAT!?! We freaked out thinking that his girlfriend was pulling a prank. We wouldn’t believe it. We talked about what it would mean if we did believe it. And then we looked towards the cafeteria where all the students were and asked if they would know? Or care? Were they weened with Michael Jackson music? Did they get back into their cars at the end of ski practice and listen to Thriller on the way home? By the end of dinner we had indeed confirmed through other significant others that Michael Jackson was dead.

My fears were calmed as I was walking back to my dorm and saw a boy with a trumpet walk into a circle of boys playing Frisbee. All the boys took a knee as the one with the trumpet walked to the center playing taps. He then said a short eulogy for The King and requested that all take a moment of silence. Watching from across the road with a few other interns, I broke out laughing. Inappropriate moment but at least our fears of a “generational disconnect” were squelched.

And finally the results of the: Would you buy anything simply because Billy May endorsed it? Poll: Absolutely not.

*WHEW that was a run-on sentence. Did you get the whole thing? One of our ice-breaker games on the first night was to say what punctuation mark we would be if we were to be on. My house supervisor said semi-colon because “she is a run-on sentence.” I said an ellipses … because there’s always something more … and because *DOT*DOT*DOT* (“That’s what they did back then!”)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tonight’s Excitement - 6/26

I realize that I still need to explain a lot about classes and sports and the dorm and everything…but something exciting actually happened tonight! So I’m just going to jump forward a week and talk about the most exciting five minutes that’s happened since I’ve been here. It was a SCANDAL.

Scene: Being as all (or at least assumed to be all) the interns are 21+ we have a …location… on campus at which we are allowed to enjoy the privileges that come with such an age after all the students have gone to bed. (One person has to remain in the dorm all night long. When I first learned this rule, I thought we’d be drawing straws each night. Turns out Hillary is above/allergic to such indulgences so she’s very happy to stick around the dorm munching away on sunflower seeds and preparing olive oil and summer squash for her breakfast…). Even though this location is approved by the school and the things that go on in it are technically legal, it’s still something that we have to be very hush hush about. A typical conversation might be:

“Hey Eli are you going to eat some bagels tonight?”

“Yeah I was planning on it…but I’m worried that I won’t like any of the flavors. Do you think you could pick up some blackberry wheat bagels for me?”

“You are SUCH a girl. But sure because I’m already picking up some cream cheese for somebody else. See you there!”

So tonight we were all sitting around eating our bagels and playing some cards (that’s for real) when I looked up to see two very much high schoolers walking in. I was obviously the first to see them. But I was a little unsure of myself because I’m still not sure who all the interns are and I didn’t want to go around making a fool… so I kinda just stared hoping somebody else would notice. Eventually they did – and confirmed my initial thought that these kids did not belong.

So some brave soul asked them what they were looking for. They mumbled something. We asked again. They mumbled again. We cut the music (Michael Jackson tribute mix). And then they said that they were looking for [insert name of boy in my class] and [insert name of girl in my sport]. Everybody looked around at each other, wondering if anybody knew who they were. I avoided eye contact for fear of being absolutely called out for having bad kids. (These things worry me.)

And then finally one of the biggest guys in the group stood up and told them no and that it didn’t matter because they weren’t allowed to be here right now. So they left and we called security on them. Problem solved. Situation A-Okay. Eli back in her room to do a lil bit o reading.


Suzanne graduated from AMHERST, not Williams. I've been getting my super small New England schools confused...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is Time Flying

I was just walking to my room and I heard a door slam. Out of curiosity I turned around to see a girl very quickly apologize, whisper that she just had to go to the bathroom, and run back into your room. And that’s when it hit me…I’m a teacher. And apparently a pretty intimidating one at that. Because 10:45 means IN YOUR ROOM. A strange rule that did not/does not exist at “Winter School” at St. Paul’s but is apparently rigorously enforced during the ASP.

This is also when I realized that I haven’t written any updates for a week; it’s coincidentally been a week since the students arrived. Mr. Bazos was absolutely not lying during my interview when he warned me that this would be an 18 hour a day job. Love that six hours of sleep. Love it.

Soo…the day they got here. Me and the three other interns in Con 20 and our house supervisor* spent an incredibly long time brainstorming the “theme” for our door signs. My proposal was gangsta (some of you will be happy to know that I’m over my hipster stage and have move on/back to gangsta). This was also relevant because I was hoping we’d have a Con 20 “gang sign” that I could teach all the girls to flash at me instead of waving. Purpose: so I didn’t have to remember if they were in my dorm or not. This idea did not please the other interns who wanted us to be “classy.”

So after fooling around with: CONvent, CONstance, CON artists, and CONcentration, we settled with making our theme: the Con 20 CONstellations. Adorable isn’t it? I actually kinda wanted to puke in my mouth when I saw that we had a sign welcoming the girls telling them they were “Gonna be stars!” It reminded me of the cabins at Camp Coniston. When I was twelve.

The other interns were also apprehensive (told me I was not allowed to) about me showing the girls our gang sign. Which I thought was really creative: right hand fist, left hand peace sign, cross arms. Result: two – zero (=20) for the person looking at you. If you ask me…they’re babying these girls a little much. Like seriously…Hillary Shih came here from Hong Kong in third form for three months before returning home, these girls are coming here from New Hampshire after fifth form for five weeks.

Anyways, I was able to hold myself back and help them feel comfortable for about…six hours, before I broke out the gang sign. In my introduction though, I was sure to point out that the other interns did not feel comfortable with it because they wanted us to be a “classy” dorm and apparently the gang sign did not make us “classy”.

To which one girl pointed out that if you stick out your pinky finger it becomes classy. To which another girl pointed out that it was necessary for it to be your right pinky finger and not your left one … because that was decidedly not-classy/trashy.

And that was when I first fell in love with my dorm.

*Con 20 interns =
Hillary, a Smith ’08 grad and the World Religions intern. She’s also allergic to everything except for seeds and as such pretty much carries seeds with here wherever she goes because she just can’t get enough food. She’ll also be teaching third form humanities at SPS this coming fall.
Suzanne, a Williams ’09 grad and one of the Writing Workshop interns. My fun fact about her is that she puts up with the fact that I lost my card on the first day but was too embarrassed to admit it so I still haven’t gotten a new one so I borrow hers all the time.
Amira, a grad student at Columbia and one of the Shakespeare for Performance interns. She’s really artsy. Actually, most of my dorm is really artsy because it’s all the theatre kids.
House supervisor = Kolby, a Bates ’09 grad who was the Shakespeare intern last summer. She knows Amadi.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Let Me Be Honest for a Second – June 18, 2009

I know I haven’t told you too much yet…but orientation was really fun. A blast actually. The goal of orientation was to get us 40 interns to know each other well enough that we’d feel comfortable working together for the rest of the summer. This involved tons of name games and activities and a little bit of alcohol. It was basically like summer camp for 21 year olds (plus me).

Now…I realize that throughout orientation we talked about these “students” that we were going to teach and these “teachers” that we were going to work with and these “dorm supervisors” that were going to be around…but they all really seemed like far off, distant creatures that had no concrete role in our trust falls or “cricket” games. And then yesterday two of the three showed up. The campus immediately switched tones. It was no longer just about US anymore. And suddenly there were kids that weren’t willing to go on adventures because they had “work to do.” And suddenly I was being told to put together an hour long lecture on the Hippocratic Oath. And like…that’s a lot of work.

So now the students – the reason for the program – are arriving tomorrow. A week ago, I was scared sh*tless about Orientation. I thought I wasn’t going to like my peer interns and that it was going to be this lame week of no-fun that I just had to get through before the real fun (in the form of high schoolers like Hank Schless) showed up. But now that we’ve assigned their rooms and have the name-tags on the doors and like…it’s obvious that they’re showing up tomorrow…I’m really upset. This all makes me want to be a freshman again or want to be in high school again or just want to be a camper again. Because this counselor/teacher/coach position is not as much fun as I thought it would be. And I might just be cranky because I haven’t gotten more than 6 hours of sleep a night on my sagging mattress. And it’s weird that I’m speaking in the present tense because I haven’t yet even taken on any of those roles, but I can just feel it…all summer I’m just going to be wanting my orientation week back.

AND just to top it all off, to perfectly match my mood at the moment, it has started to pour. As it will for the next three days. Boo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My First Adventure? – June 17, 2009

The beds here suck. Like they are way worse than I remember them. Now this *might* be because I’m in Con20…which has even fewer redeeming factors than Kitt II. (Or is it less? My master teacher corrected me on a fewer/less comment yesterday and it was a little embarrassing/insulting so now I’m very unsure of myself.) Anyways, I’ve always thought Kitt II was the worst dorm on campus (hence the nickname “Shitt II”) but Con might actually beat it out. When I went to shower, for example, I was literally attacked by the flow of water even though I was standing well outside the distance it should reach. I played with the pressure and realized that there were two settings: dripping or full-force-sprays-halfway-into-the-rest-of-the-bathroom pressure. Seeing as I obviously prefer the second, I tested all four shower heads just to make sure that there was no other option. There isn’t. Every time I shower I flood the entire bathroom. I asked somebody who used to live in Con if this was, in fact, the case and it is. And Kitt is at least near the Upper so it’s not such a hike to go to breakfast. So…Con[redeeming qualities} << Kitt 2[redeeming qualities].

But this post was about the beds and how terrible they are. I’m not really that picky a person. I’ve just been waking up incredibly sore every morning (and won’t allow my old teacher self to acknowledge that this *could* be from wiffle ball – for the record James, word automatically changes that to “waffle”). I’ve also been waking up incredibly early because my body just won’t get comfortable in the bed. This could be considered a blessing in disguise given that I don’t have an alarm clock and the alarm clock on my Verizon phone doesn’t work. (Being the only provider with service in NH does NOT mean that you can make crappy phones and have crappy customer service!) So this morning I woke up at 6am, which I was unhappy with. Because forced socialization last night didn’t end until midnight and we have our “The BIG ONE” meeting today which I want to be well rested for.

So I went searching for boards, which a girl in another dorm had recommended. But instead I found A MATTRESS PAD hidden away in the dorm’s storage room. One of those nice foamy bubbly ones. (Background: SPS students aren’t allowed to use dorm storage over the summer so I’ve been considering everything in there up for grabs. Like the new chair and lamp in my room.) Thank you SPS student that wasn’t in the mood to pack up your mattress pad…because it allowed me to get one half hour more of sleep this morning! You’re great.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Have I ever told you…I was a nerd in high school? – June 16, 2009

Today we got to go on a tour of the library. It’s only three floors and pretty easy to figure out compared to any college library that we interns are used to, but we still had a 45 minute block for a tour of it. This was good though because it allowed for me to come to two conclusions about life:
1. Ohrstrom Library is the reason I cannot get work done at Dartmouth.
2. I honestly, really was a nerd in high school.
Explanation for the first is because the SPS library is honestly SO NICE that I was just absolutely spoiled during my time here. I blame its niceness for my inability to work in any subpar location. (Subpar meaning: not a sound-proof individual study carol with a PC and typewriter that overlooks Lower School Pond and has just the right amount of “school history” to look through during study breaks.) Yeah…this is pretty much why Baker/Berry just hasn’t been cutting it for me. My brain is picky.

As to the second point… so there we were, 19 interns sitting on the overly comfy leather couches (does Dartmouth even own these!?) in the main room of the library being told what our “Library duties” would consist of (I’ll probably have more to say about this once I have them…but NO FACEBOOK ALWAYS WORKING seems to be the main idea.) when I saw the reference librarian kinda scanning the room to see if she recognized anybody. She passed over me – and then came back (I had long blonde hair then, I excuse her) and immediately cut off the other librarian that was talking to exclaim “ELI!! How are you!?!” revealing to the whole group that I spent so much time in the library when I was here that the reference librarian recognizes me and remembers my name four years later.* As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough – because the first few days with the interns you see is all about coming off as cool and fitting in – she asked me to show the group the way to the public computers. After this fairly easy task was done, she tried to include others in the tour by asking me to introduce her to “my friend in the Iowa sweatshirt.”

This is where it gets really bad…because “my friend in the Iowa sweatshirt” happened to be Matt de la Pena who happened to also go to St. Paul’s. Further driving home the point to the rest of the interns that, no, she’s not just really good with names…that really just was how much time I spent in the library during my time here.

Today we also had a rather epic waffle ball game. But I sincerely hope that there will be so many more of those to come that I’m not doing the sport a disservice by not giving it a full mention in this update.

*Please note how throughout this I referred to her as the reference librarian…because I still don’t remember/know her name. She is super nice though. Huge fan.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 1, Phew – June 15, 2009

Today, I thank DOC Trips for making sure I’m First Aid certified and my mommy for making sure I’m young. Because being First Aid certified means that I didn’t have to sit through an hour and a half long “video” today about first aid. And it also means that I won’t have to sit through a two hour long training session tomorrow. Does this mean that I’ll feel prepared if one of my little high schoolers falls and hurts herself? No. Am I okay with that? Yes. Am I going to be scared that one of my little highschoolers might fall and hurt myself, revealing my utter ineptness with band-aids? No. Was I incredibly happy to have free time today to nap because orientation is exhausting? YES.

And the reason I’m happy that I’m young…it means that despite the fact that I have driven a mini-bus at Dartmouth for three years I am apparently unqualified to drive the SPS mini-busses because I’m not 21. Even more hilarious, at the same time I decided to mention to the man in charge that I have tons of experience with these things, three other girls decided to come up and mention that they:
a. Got their drivers’ licenses a month ago
b. Have never driven anything bigger than a two-passenger car
c. Feel incredibly uncomfortable about the idea of being responsible for 14 kids in a bus
But because they’re at least four months older than I am, they’re qualified to drive the mini-busses! Does this make sense? No. Am I okay with it because it means that I get three more hours off from orientation? YES.

Things of note:
I’m now supposed to call my teachers by their first name.
The ASP people call normal St. Paul’s the “winter school.”
There are now stone paths where dirt paths used to be (think between Moore and ballet studio, Nash and library).
And swipey key cards to get into the dorms! (Apparently this is just so we can tell if the ASP kids are locked out after-hours but stillll).
Mommy is awesome because she’s bringing down a car-load worth of shtuff that I forgot at home. Thanks mommy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eli’s New Adventures – June 14, 2009

Some of you readers have been very kind and generous in your feedback to my blog posts. Apparently you really like my writing (so why can’t you just have graded my high school papers!?!). My standard response though has always been “well I’ve had great life experiences.” Which is would take more skill to make the story of going on a fishing boat in Brazil to have the crew show me how to best sneak alcohol onto the MV Explorer sound boring than to make it exciting. (Oh wait, I never posted that story…)
All the same, this term’s blog is going to present a bit more of a challenge on the adventures front. For one, all the exotic locations that were guaranteed to make any story exciting will be replaced with…New Hampshire. And all the villagers, students, and backpackers that played the central characters in my Semester at Sea stories will be replaced with high school students from New Hampshire, and more high school students from New Hampshire. This is because this summer I will be going back to my high school (St. Paul’s) to teach students in their ASP, summer enrichment program.
So my disclaimer now is that I am going to be seeking adventure, it will not come and attack me as I felt it did so often during Semester at Sea (like that time that I made friends with the hyenas…adventure came and attacked me) which mostly means that my blog is sure to be full of hyperboles and exaggerations. But I’ll leave that interpretation up to you for the deciding.

Revival – June 13, 2009

I think it’s quite fitting that the day I decide to revive my adventures blog is also the day that I woke up a teensy bit hung over… credited to Semester at Sea. Last night, the Institute for Shipboard Education held an alumni fundraiser in Boston giving all of us an opportunity to re-board the MV Explorer (never seemed so big), greet old friends (who primarily remembered me as “the She-li in Eli and Eli”), and indulge in ways that the ship did not allow when we were…um…at school.
Quick back story – I worked as a bartender during Dartmouth’s reunions last year so I know all about what reunions are about: first showing the success of the program and then explaining how fortunately alumni donations (from people just like YOU) keep the costs reasonable and, if that method fails, offering enough free booze that people forget their inhibitions…against “making a gift” that is. But of course even before this there’s the cover charge to get into the event, which in itself could be interpreted as a donation.
Knowing that this was the real reason for the fun, I was determined to eat enough, drink enough, and request songs enough to fully get my money’s worth. Which, for the most part, I did. Except that they quickly ran low on the best parts of the “Around the World” buffet (Chinese chicken fingers anyone?) and I became so distracted with the meeting and greeting that I forgot to keep my wine glass (they gave us REAL GLASSES now that we’re responsible alums!) filled to the brim throughout the night.
What this did give me the opportunity to do though was have a long over-due catch up with Doris and Hal, my ship parents and a few others from my voyage just to remind me that facebook-stalking somebody during exams week does not actually qualify as keeping in touch and keeping an email response on my to-do list doesn’t actually let the recipient know that I’ve been thinking of them. (I’ll do better now…I swear.)
It also gave me the opportunity to observe the rather hilarious clash between students from the UPitt/Road Rules era and those from the reformed UVA era. Exhibit A:
Me: Oh my god I never even REALIZED that this could actually be used as a bar.
Old Alum: Seriously? This is where they had nightly mixed drink specials.
Exhibit B:
They all jumped into the pool.
Exhibit C:
I did not because Cindy Zomcheck (some sort of Fall 08 disciplinary dean) had been *spotted* earlier in the night. …But still got soaked because I sat between two girls in the taxi (for which Brian Horsburgh bartered the price!) who had.

Moral of last night’s story: There’s another Reunion party to kick off the 100th voyage on Monday, December 14 in San Diego. See you all there.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Everything I ever needed to know I learned in my sorority…kinda (1/7)

As it’s the first Wednesday of the term and Sigma Delts (and all others) are settling down for their first meetings of the term, I feel that I should reflect on how meetings go at Common Impact.
First a story: when we first implemented our social calendar this summer our genius of a social chair (genius of an event planner at least) forgot to enter the “PM” in for everything. So suddenly we were supposed to be having meetings at 10am on Wednesday mornings. I mean…I knew sophomore summer was ragey.
Little did we know then – at the innocent beginning of the summer – that before long we’d be three games deep and still not done with the series at 10am.
The purpose of that story is to impose upon you how foreign the idea of an 8:30 AM meeting is to me. (Answer: very foreign. More foreign than Japanese toilets. Which are VERY foreign.)
But it was a little okay. Because the CEO and the COO of Common Impact are both Dartmouth alums, so when they handed out the agenda (a little like the poster we have a SD except a little smaller, a little less colorful and a little more detailed), I was unsurprised to see that the meeting started off with toasts. Because all productive meetings do.
More so, I was unfazed by the fact that nobody was there at 8:30 on the dot (well except for me because I’m an intern). They were all waiting for coffee. Much like how our meetings at school can’t start until JFish pulls up out back and unloads her trunk. Beverages are necessary in both atmospheres.
It was a little strange for me that people were toasted for productive things like cleaning the supply closet and not embarrassing things like hooking up with a guy who has nipple piercings (reference…1…2…3…GO!). Nor were they followed by somebody drinking out of a shoe. But then again…I did not email my new bosses asking them to please “haze me harder.” (Why did I ever delete that blitz?)
When the financial advisor (read: treasurer) spoke, people listened to her. She did not simply scream “PAY YOUR DUES!” and then sit back down. That was interesting. She did, however, admit that the way she came up with the budget was just by adding up the numbers that everybody gave her…which is pretty much how we do it too.
We got a Marketing Tip of the Week = Hayley Kennedy’s Top Ten?
But my favorite part by far came at the end. Which was kind of the giveaway that I wasn’t supposed to be there. The CEO kind of looked up and introduced me, and then asked who was going to be responsible for me for the next eight weeks. It was as if we chose bigs and littles while the pledges were sitting right there. Except for me, it was like being picked last for the dodgeball team, except when each team insists that you go to the other one because they just don’t want you. I smiled, I gave sad eyes, I rambled off my qualifications…but it just seemed like nobody quite wanted to deal with an energetic little puppy dog running around the office (miss you Ellie). And then I was left to think about this quandary: if there had been no Jenny Fisher…would I have had a big sis?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In Ten Years, I See Myself Orbiting the Solar System

I mean I’ve already biked across the country and sailed around the world. What other dreams am I supposed to have?


Today, I was given my WORK PLAN. In it my supervisor listed out, in detail, the hours that I am expected to spend on each of my projects during the next eight weeks. All the way down to: “Week 5 – Compile List of Peer Organizations, 2 hours; Pick Your Nose, 10 minutes.”

As we sat down and discussed the document (which I was sure to keep far away from me for fear of a little hand reaching out of the paper and grabbing my soul/giving me the Dementor’s kiss that turns all fun people into i-bankers), she commented “I know that this isn’t such a big deal to you because you’re super organized and all, but I actually have one of these that’s planned all the way out for three years. It’s terrifying for me to know exactly what I’ll be doing three years from now! But of course you don’t understand that fear.”

Right…so can somebody please tell me just how badly I lied to you during my interview?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting to Work

Okay…not going to lie…after travelling around the world I got a little cocky and didn’t think that America would be too tough. But actually, I think that America is harder than the rest of the world. For example, Harvard St. and Cambridge St. are not synonymous to foreigners…but to me – oh my – I got all mixed up. And worse, I live on one of them. I just couldn’t remember which.

So adventure number one was me wandering around the city by myself trying to find my way to work. I decided to do it the night before my job actually started so I could time it out and plan the route for the morning. Smart choice. It took 17 minutes. I was expecting more like 7. But then again…I’m not sure that I can full out sprint a mile in 7 minutes anymore.

And then off to bed I went, complete with a warm glass of milk, the outfit for the next day laid out (jacket included) and teeth brushed. Gosh did I think I was becoming a responsible adult.

Thankfully, Mommy still called me in the morning, waking me up a good ten minutes after my alarm had started going off. Apparently the extra loud buzzing from my phone, indicating phone ringing and alarm ringing was what I needed to actually get out of bed…and see the rain outside.

In all my planned packing I had forgotten one important detail: it doesn’t actually snow in Boston in November. My new wool coat, bought for city life, would be useless in the rain. Even worse, as my first step on the sidewalk proved, it would take me a little more than seventeen minutes if I wanted to get to work all in one, non-fallen piece. And then my mind started wandering because, you see, I’m a writer at heart so with each person that walked by, I would try to come up with their life story, I wondered where they were hurrying to or from, if they were late, if the noticed me etc etc. But it’s the city you see…so there are A LOT of people hurrying past and if I think about all of them well…I get lost.

And suddenly I was on Galileo Galilei Way. Which was funny because you’d think that’d be a name I’d remember. But I didn’t. At all. So I was officially lost. I reached for my phone, hoping that I could call my Mommy (because being officially lost meant that I was officially no longer a grown up) and have her help me. When I realized that I had left my phone in my apartment.

It was right about then that I was about to just give up and quit the real world – after being there for a total of 12 hours – when I saw a bunch of chefs smoking on the street. This is a good sign because there’s a culinary arts school in my building. So I rushed towards them and sure enough they were standing right in front of the building entrance. And so I arrived…miraculously on time, soaking wet, and smelling of smoke.

I love first impressions.