A Peace Corps Day

Today was a pretty typical Sunday for me. It’s not what someone would think of if they thought “typical day in the Peace Corps”, so I thought I’d share with you.

6 am: Woke up to the damn loud sparrows outside my window. Put in ear-plugs because it’s a weekend and I can sleep in if I want to, damn it.

6:30 am: Got up anyway because I realized it was my brother’s birthday and I needed to call him.
Made coffee in french press, with dark brown sugar and powdered milk.
Skype didn’t work. E-mailed brother instead. Drank more coffee.
We got a new internet service yesterday! It’s so fast! In the morning, I can watch Youtube videos without waiting for them to buffer! So I did that for a while.
Started soaking black eyed peas for dinner.

8 am: Heated water in the electric kettle, took a bucket bath. (It’s hot enough now that I don’t usually bother, but I also don’t usually shower in the morning before the sun is hot.)
Walked to the market! A man on a bicycle shouted, “Hello American!”
Bought luffah squash (for eating, not washing), sweet potatoes (Filipino style, with white flesh and red skin), bananas, and freshly grated coconut (on which more later).
Also bought one tortang talong, which is a crazy delicious kind of roasted eggplant omelet. That was breakfast.

9 am: I needed coconut milk for dinner, and I had plans for my morning, so I started on that. You pour boiling water over the shredded coconut and let it sit, then wring it out in a cloth.
Watched even more Youtube while that was going on.
Soaked and squeezed two presses from the coconut. (Second press is weak and used during cooking, first press is rich and used for finishing.)

10 am: Dungeons & Dragons on the internet!
Bet you weren’t expecting that one! But seriously, it’s the highlight of my week. So that went on (with a break to make a shallot omelet for lunch, and a million technical difficulties, mostly related to power outages) until…

2 pm: Finished D&D. Peeled and chopped a big hunk of squash (it’s something like butternut) and start roasting it in the toaster oven for dinner.
Also chopped sweet potato and put it in water for later.
Set out a tub of laundry to soak.
Started cooking black eyed peas with shallot and garlic.

3 pm: Washed laundry. This involves squatting beside the tub with a plastic wash board. It was a small load, though. Didn’t take long.
Peeled and chopped the luffah squash. (And man, that stuff has a peel like you wouldn’t believe. Rough

4 pm: Read about a hundred Wikipedia articles while the black eyed peas were cooking. Wikipedia didn’t work on our old internet service. I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

5 pm: Finished dinner. Black eyed peas with roasted squash, coconut milk, and preserved kalamansi (Filipino lime, which I preserved North African style, like Moroccan salted lemons). On the side, mashed sweet potato with coconut milk.

6:30 pm: Sat down to eat with the Roommate. Talked about cooking and how it’s different here than in the States, and about her dog, and whether she should take him back with her, and about our students and their brazenness, and so forth.

And beyond that, it’s all surfing and chatting on the internet until bedtime around ten.

Freedom from Prime Numbers

I’ve always been a fan of even numbers, especially numbers that are easily divided (my favorite numbers are 4, 12, and 24). Conversely, ever since I was a kid, odd numbers have made me uncomfortable, and prime numbers even more so. I guess I have a deep suspicion of numbers that you can’t divide.

I’ve been 23 for the past year, and while I’m not blaming the prime number for the terrible year I had, all I’m saying is, maybe it didn’t help. (Looking back, I’ve never had luck with prime numbered years. When I was 11, I got sent back to one last hellish year of church school, a nightmare after the freedom of homeschooling; when I was 17, I had to endure my parents’ long, painful, and messy divorce. 19 was okay, but challenging: I started college that year.)

Today is my 24th birthday, and I couldn’t be happier. My birthday tends to be a pretty convenient point for demarcating new “years”–it’s right before the beginning of the school year, and until recently, the rhythms of academia ruled my life.

And to be frank, 23 sucked. It involved dealing with an alcoholic stepfather, terrible jobs, and a forced move across the state to sleep on someone’s couch for four months (which, tellingly, was an improvement over my prior situation). It was characterized by uncertainty, instability, doubt, boredom, and frustration. Oh, also poverty. (I lost weight because I couldn’t afford anything but beans and rice.)

At the same time, though, all of that is finally paying off. It was a low year, but I successfully pushed through the Peace Corps application process. And best of all, I can finally call it over. I’m ending the year spending time with the people I love, and in less than a week (!) I blast off on my next adventure.

I have high hopes for 24–I’m allowing myself to be optimistic, for once. Finally, after all this waiting, I get to go out and do something that matters to me, something I expect to be fulfilling and rewarding.

Tonight, I’m heading up to spend the weekend with my dad and his wife at their little mountain home. That should be lovely and relaxing. After that, my last two days in Colorado will be spent with my mom (and hopefully my brother), sightseeing around Colorado Springs and running through my last minute errands, paperwork, and shopping.