Thursday, January 27, 2011

So, it's been just under two weeks since I found out about my acceptance. Since then, I have received my invitation kit, read through it, mailed off my no-fee passport and visa application, and have (re)written my aspiration statement. I anticipate submitting the aspiration statement later tonight. I've certainly taken my time about things.

Thanks to everyone for your support and congratulations :) Now that most of the bureaucratic work is out of the way, I can actually prepare myself for service.

People keep asking me if I'm afraid. The answer is not really. I am a bit nervous, but that nervousness is not about living in a radically different culture under radically different material circumstances. The only thing I'm nervous about is learning the job itself--I'm anxious to be a good and competent teacher, and I suppose the nerves stem from not ever having taught English as a Second Language in a classroom setting. I have faith in my ability to become a good teacher, but I have yet to build up the confidence in the practice itself. Still, I trust in the training I'll receive and the support of fellow PCVs. It's going to work.

To be honest, it feels like the change about to take place is so dramatic that it is almost fruitless to envision what life will be like in three months. I've really read a lot from the blogs of those PCVs already in Indo, and that has been/will be helpful, but I won't know what the air smells like until I'm there. So my focus now is really on the time between now and April 4th. I've got a pretty long list of people I would like to see before that date.

That's all for the moment.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm in / My heart in Dmajor

I opened my e-mail this evening and saw an unread message entitled "Peace Corps Placement". The contents:

Hello Timothy-

My name is ******** and I am the Placement and Assessment Specialist working with your application. I have recently complete the final assessment of your application and I am pleased to inform you that you have been qualified for service. Your invitation for service will go out tomorrow via UPS. It should arrive within 10 business days. Upon receipt if the invitation you will learn more about your assignments and what country you have been invited to. Once you receive the invitation you have seven calendar days to email Peace Corps to accept the assignment.

I can confirm the following program information:

· English Teaching

· Asia

· Departing: early April 2011



It's happening. I'm going to Indonesia in April. I read the e-mail and went to my room. I took out my classical guitar and lay down on the bed, and I started playing out my feelings. And, as happens extremely rarely, they were in D major. My heart was in D major! Other people jump up and down and cry and scream and hug their pets and write furiously. I listened to myself let out feelings in the happiest key.

As new thoughts entered my mind, the music shifted. It became more like the things that usually come from me, but distinct and infused with some new element. Maybe a glow.

I was alone for half an hour, and then I told my brother and dad, and we drank a toast.

So, to all the people who were wondering, consider this the official word. I am joining the Peace Corps. I am going to Indonesia. I am leaving in April, and I will be back in 2013.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Real life

Okay, time to stop labeling posts specifically as pertaining to Peace Corps. I'm far along enough in the process that it's soon going to become part of my everyday reality, so there's no need to distinguish between 'real life stuff' and 'Peace Corps stuff'.

About a week ago I got an e-mail from a placement assistant asking for my updated resume and that I fill out an education addendum. I submitted them, and I got an e-mail back saying that my file will now be passed along to a Placement Specialist for final review. I may or may not hear from the Specialist before receiving an invitation.

To be honest I've been a bit nervous about the invitation, which is probably normal at this stage of the process. They asked for the updated resume, and my mind suddenly went to: Yeah, what have you been doing to make yourself competitive the last six months. The answer is not a whole lot, but not nothing. Since I got back to Florida, I've been tutoring a couple of students, which is something. But that's not more than 10 hours per week. In reality, I've been mostly on vacation. That, after taking a nine-month hiatus in Europe. There's a one-year gap of careerish activity in my resume. And I suppose that's what makes me a bit nervous.

Still, the time in Europe was not really a hiatus, since I wasn't hiatus-ing from anything in particular. It's not like I interrupted school or left a job or took a sabbatical. And I reject the idea that it was in any way 'taking a break' from real life, or whatever twisted concept of real life so many people have (usually involving some sort of 9-5). It wasn't wasted time. That was life.

I scratch my head when people talk as if doing the things you want to do is the dream, and some day you must wake up and get back to dull routine and reality. It's the other way, don't you see? You're awake and alive when doing the things you want to do, and you're dreaming the rest of the time. It's like when people regard my desire to join Peace Corps as a simple career move -- something I'll do and put up with simply because it will make me a more desirable hire to some employer in the future. But that's not it at all. I'm not sacrificing 27 months. I'm going to be living in them. That's going to be my life, not mere preparation for life.

I think of people who work all year long, or for many years, without taking any breaks. People who save up money for a short vacation or a cruise or a visit to family on Christmas. So much time spent working for a week of living in the moment, indulging curiosities, spending time with loved ones, or being in a place they once called home. Those are the times you remember, but why should they always be the exception? Why should they be the dream, while all the days you'll never remember are waking life? There's something wrong there.

I've been playing a lot of music lately...recording on Garageband. It's a lot of fun. Finally the feeling of having plateaued has left me. After nine months of playing only on classical, I'm quite comfortable playing without a pick. And now having jammed out on electric a bit, as well as steel-string acoustic and classical, I feel better at guitar now than I've ever been before. And, when I'm the only person home, I like to sing, as well. If I ever produce recordings I deem worthy of an audience, I'll let other people listen. For now, I'm just pleased with myself, and that's enough.

Also, did you ever listen to a band that you absolutely loved at first listen, and then begin to fear that other people would start listening to them too and everything would be tainted?