Thursday, August 28, 2008

GRITS2BF No More...

Hello all. Okay, so it has been a while, and I am guessing that if I even had any fans/loyal readers of this you have all abandoned ship and moved on to the next hot blog. I had a few requests to post at least one "getting re-acclimated" now more than two months of being at home, and watching at least 5 major banks fold, I am bored enough to do that.

I got back on Friday, July 18th thanks to some fancy flight intinerary from Peace Corps. The most ideal thing would have been just to sleep at the airport, because later that afternoon I returned again to fly out to the Morris Family Reunion in Pittsburgh, PA. Once a year my mom's side of the family has a reunion, and it allowed me to see my Mom, brother, sister-in-law, cutest-in-the-world nephew (seriously, no joke), and my extended family. So, culture shock had to be thrown aside as I jet-setted on Jet Blue (SATELLITE TV, yummy snacks, cutely dressed flight attendants....if this is America I LOVE it!). It was a day of family, food, food, more food, a rockin' DJ, and a very fun Chinese Auction. At every family reunion it is a Morris tradition to hold a Chinese Auction, and this year there were a lot of cool things to bid for. As I was browsing the merchandise I spotted a basket full of "smart" books, as they came to be known my me. It has "Collapse," a Mark Twain Biography, and more. All of them were in hard back. I immediately thought to myself..."WOW, we have to win those. We would look so smart having those on our shelf. So, after buying about 150 tickets and scaring anyone away from putting tickets into the bowl for the books, we won the books. Triumphantly I walked up and claimed my prize...oh yes...we are smart...just look at our bookshelves!!! (P.S. at least 2 people have commented on what "smart" books we there!).

After our triumphant return from Pittsburgh it was time for me to settle into our apartment, decorate, enjoy being "home," and look for gainful employment. I put "gainful employment" last on my list because it is the most boring and painful part. Everyone knows the economy is basically in the I wasn't overly optimistic about my chances. 

I spent my first few weeks at home giving our apartment that female touch. We bought some book shelves, a television stand, made an Ikea run for various accessories. BTW, seriously...LOVE Ikea!!! We took the Ikea Water Taxi, that's right...a boat to Ikea! It was beautiful...especially at 1:30 in the afternoon while I thought about all the schlubs chained to their desks in cubicles (oh...little did I know). Mike even took a week off and we had a "staycation." We lounged around, went on long walks, went to the Natural History Museum, took a car up to Randall's Island and played mini-golf and I learned how to hit golf balls at the range. After about 20 minutes of spinning in circle and continually missing the ball, cursing it out, and then throwing the club in frustration I finally made my first hit...oh how exhilarating!!

After almost a month and a half of pounding the pavement, begging, pleading, name dropping, resume sending, internet searching, crying (alright...just a little), penny pinching, sleeping, Guitar Hero playing, and the like....I finally got the call. It was like being in the minor leagues and then all of a sudden getting a call from the Majors to step up. I hadn't planned on getting back into advertising (I swear!!), but I did take a few meetings in the off chance that I decided I wanted to give it another try.  I had a few other opportunities kickin' around, but let's be honest here gotta make those Benjamin's and non-profit work just wasn't in the cards for (not yet anyway). So, after a successful informational interview (I know how to charm them...), I got a job offer at BBDO, a very large but very creative advertising agency. So, here I sit, writing to you from my cubicle in a huge corporate office. Just over two months ago I was sitting in a mud brick hut sleeping 3 hours a day, planting corn in a field, and crapping in a hole...well, sadly, that is no more. No more staph infections (well, actually not true...I am fighting a staph infection for the 2nd time since being home), no more Toh, no more attieke, no more chickens running around in my yard, no more children hugging me while I is all gone, only to be recalled from the recesses of my mind. 

I have managed in the two months that I've been home to have 3 Peace Corps reunions with various volunteers that I served with in Burkina. Helen and Nanette came to visit, and I went to Boston and hung out with Minh, Helen, Nanette, and Rose. It has been a pretty amazing time. To say that I feel a bit "out of place" here is understating. People ask me all the time how my experience was, and how do I even sum it up in words...or at least in a sentence or two before they lose interest. I feel like an alien that landed on another planet...or like I know a secret that know one else in the room knows. I don't mean it in a superior way, not at all, just in a "I feel separate" kind of way...I don't even know how to describe it, but I would imagine that anyone reading this that has ever lived abroad would understand immediately.

I am also fighting lingering feelings of loneliness. Although being in NYC puts me in one of the most crowded cities in the world, I have never felt more "alone." In Burkina I was never alone, whether that was with my villagers, or with my fellow volunteers partying in the capital. You were never short of a friend to confide in or get a drink with. Back here in the States I have to book my friends 2 weeks in advance just to make sure that they have the time. It seems so sad to me how isolated people are here. At least I have Mike with me, and that has been my saving grace.

I will tell you one thing that hasn't happened that I thought would...and that is that I haven't gone crazy on Starbucks! I know, right?!?! I thought I would basically be hooking it up intravenously, but (and I swear this is true) I have only gone to Starbucks 4 times in the 2 months that I have been back. Before leaving for the Peace Corps I managed to turn Mike into a coffee addict, so I have been enjoying fresh home-brewed coffee. I guess the difference is that I know I am not going back to Burkina (any time soon anyway), so there is no "rush" to get it all in....honestly, I would trade all of the Starbuck's and flush toilets just to go back to Burkina and see my friends...and I mean that. 

Anyhoo, this is rambling and a bit boring, so I say to all of you who have followed this blog, thank you! I hope for anyone new you get a chance to read through my mishaps and triumphs, and that I provide entertainment and insight for you. Thanks for all of the support from anyone who has helped me while I was there, and as always...Stay safe!!!