It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post. The days have started to blur into weeks and the weeks have blurred into months. Many of the things that once astounded me have become part of quotidian routine. The semester seems to be dragging and the 8th graders are restless for graduation.
The Garden: Has expanded significantly we are currently growing (and preparing to harvest) bok choy, cabbage, bell pepper, luscious tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant and kang kong. The mere sight of the tomatoes makes me salivate. And tomatoes on the island are rare, usually they are shipped in and arrive all bruised and disfigured; either overly ripe or still green.
I’ve taken the initiative to model the garden after several CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) that existed in San Francisco that would sell a mélange of their weekly harvest. The kids are preparing produce boxes that they will sell for $5 with a blend of goodies from the garden. Then they will sell them in town to Peace Corps staff and several of my ex-pat friends that have expressed interest in supporting the project (and are enthused about fresh veggies on the island).
The Library: I have been cleaning out, organizing and creating library programs for the kids at the school. In the past month the library has monopolized my time; even during the weekends. I went in last Sunday with my host sisters to clean; it took us 3-4 hours to clean the library. And I got sick. The excess dust and dirt gave me a stuffy nose, a scratchy throat and conjunctivitis. But now that I’ve recovered I’m gearing up for the first group of kids to start using the library.
When I was organizing the books and thinking up activities I was really transported to my childhood. Coming across books like Brown Bear, Chika Chika Boom Boom and the Dr. Seuss books really reminded me of my original fascination with books and the fantastic library programs that existed at my schools. The notion that a book can transport you to a different place will be a common theme across many of the library programs; as well as fun trivia. Remember those jars that would be full of marbles or paper clips and you had to guess how many were inside? The first trivia question I’m pulling out of my National Geographic magazine. There was a pull out poster of the second tallest Redwood tree with several people climbing it. The kids will have to guess how tall the tree is using the size of the people for a reference.
Lately, I have been tackling two personal projects: the GRE and the mechanics of running in my village. Surprisingly the running is far more arduous than the GRE.
I’m anticipating taking the GRE in December. Being a very detail oriented person I’ve come up with a procedure or blueprint of sorts to assail the GRE. Theoretically by December I will have learned about 1500 higher level words (and their antonyms), 300 word roots, 100 suffixes, completed 150 practice exercises, become a wizard mathematician; a mathemagician, written two practice essays a week (about 80 total) and taken at least 10 practice tests. No big deal. So far I’ve been sticking with the ‘plan’ and have put my last minute tendencies behind me, for the time being at least.
My biggest annoyance is my re-occuring (since 3rd grade) mathematical mistakes. I understand the concept, I know the formulas and proofs but for some reason I always make careless mistakes. I can see my math teacher’s writing on my papers when I correct my answers “DOUBLE CHECK!” or “careless”. Where did that decimal run off to?! Or I lost track of the exponent. 2+2=5; where did that come from? Didn’t follow the order of operations even; even though it’s burned into my memory. And then there are the math problems that I know what I need to recall to solve it. So I strain my memory and remember that week in class. I can “see” in my mind’s eye the diagrams of the special right triangles on the board, but wait, what am I doing in class? Flirting with some boy. No recollection what so ever of the 30, 60, 90 triangle formulas or the 45, 45, 90 ones. Perfect. I can recall exactly what was in the notes he was passing me, but not what I “learned” in class.
At least I remember what I learned in my biological psychology class – It’s as natural to forget things as it is to remember them.
And yes, running seems to be more tedious and intrinsically complicated than studying. Strap on some sneakers and take off. Simple. During the current winter season the temperature fluctuates between 80 and 92 with 98% humidity, perpetually. So there are two options 5:55 AM or 5:55 PM.
5:55AM. I’ve never been an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl and to me it’s analogous to a medieval torture device. I wish I could face it with more alacrity and just buck up. So I set my alarm, cross my fingers it isn’t raining so I don’t wake up for nothing and swing my legs out of bed rather forcefully when the sky isn’t even light. It’s like I’m coaxing the sun into the sky. As I labor 2 miles up the hill I imagine myself as Icarus pulling the sun over the hills and into the sky. When I get to the top though, it’s always worth it. I can see beyond the jungle’s gentle tumble into the ocean. The vast Pacific lies before me like marmalade as the colors of the sunrise bounce off of its placid surface.
5:55PM is problematic as well, everyone and their mother tries to stop me to ask me what I’m doing, if I need a ride, if I’m okay. To the point that I’m not even running, I’m just apologizing for my wildly aberrant behavior. And I get made fun of and turn into the village’s crazy men-wai (white person) and to top it off the dogs are awake and I’m extremely out of shape huffing and puffing along hoping the speeding taxis don’t flatten me.
Then there’s the questions: Do I run in a skirt? Do I run in pants!!!? Do I carry a stick? How does one run with a stick, what if I poke my eye out? Don’t run with sticks/scissors? Or should I just carry rocks? And how many rocks? How many dogs are there if I go South? How many if I go North? Are there dirt roads off of the main road? And if so, is it disrespectful to run in that area? Is Nohno (host mom) going to cry if I lose weight? Yes, she will; most definitely.