Thursday, August 30, 2007


I had my interview with the Peace Corps on Tuesday and recieved a nomination to go to Eastern Europe in February to work in Non-profit (NGO) Advising. This of course means very little until I actually get my invitation that will tell me the exact date and country that I will be going to. Anyone with experiance with the Peace Corps knows that everything is tentative, basically up to the moment that I leave and that there are still several steps to go through. So. . . provided that everything goes well, I will be leaving in 6 months. In the meantime, I am enjoying being almost unemployed and looking forward to the flexibilty and fun (yes, I have a strange idea of fun) of being a substitute teacher. Eastern Europe, here I come!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

super fun in south dakota

I love road trips. Technically this is the first time that I have gone on a road trip that didn't involve at least one member of my family. I even drove to Vegas with my parents. Fun. But this trip to South Dakota was different. Me, three crazy Israelis and my Mazda.

We embarked late. . . 7PM Denver time and it was raining. It rained most of the way across Nebraska. Ilil asked what we were missing by driving across Nebraska at night. I informed her that all we were missing was a lot of corn and that we could see that on the way back. Luckily of the three Israelis, one had an international driver's license and could almost drive a stick. For some reason many people seemed to doubt her driving ability. I admit that I was one of them. She did a great job though. I slept though most of her driving, but as far as I know, we didn't hit anything of consequence. We arrived in Wall, South Dakota at around 2:30 AM. What is there to do in Wall at 2:30 in the morning? Not much. But we didn't really know where we were going. Luckily our friendly neighborhood National Park Ranger volunteered to give us a police escort to the place that we were staying. Good thing too, because I don't think I would have been able to find it during the middle of the day much less the middle of the night. We narrowly missed hitting a deer on our way. Stan was not so lucky and damaged his car quite a bit.

Advice- don't go driving in the middle of the night in the middle of South Dakota. There's a lot of deer and they like to run out in front of cars. Suicidal, I think.

After a few hours of sleep, we got up to see the Badlands. When you drive into the Badlands National Park, it is kind of like driving onto the moon. Seriously, I think this is what the moon would look like. There are slightly more plants than I imagine the moon would have, but not much. It was also hotter than the moon. But beautiful in that other worldly moon sort of way. This part of the park is known for it's many fossils of all sorts of strange animals. We stopped at the Big Pig Dig, where there found, you guessed it, a big pig. That's just fun to say Big Pig Dig, Big Pig Dig. . . hee hee. . .

Advice- If you go to a National Park, make friends with the park people. Not only did we have a place to stay, we also got a private (free) tour of the park. In a government vehicle. Did I mention it was free? And that we got to go behind the scenes?

The second day in the Badlands we went into the South Unit of the park. This part of the National Park lies entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There are much less people in this part of the park- less roads, less amenities. Just as much beauty. We also went out of the park to see the site of the Wounded Knee Masacre. The ranger that we were with was a little bit nervous to take us there. . . even though he is Native American, any one that works for the government is looked upon with suspicion by the people there.

The highlight of the trip (and possibly the coolest thing that I've ever gotten to do in America) was the next day when we went to Mt. Rushmore. We had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to make it (in the dark) to Mt. Rushmore by 7:00. We had to be at Mt. Rushmore at 7:00 because we were getting a private tour of the heads. Yes, I got to walk on George Washington's head. Only a few people get to go to the top. Being with three Israelis really tested my knowledge of American History. . . "why are these president's here? why is this important?" I think that I did a good job of answering. . . I could be a park ranger :)
I'll tell you this- it's not like the movies. There is (as far as I saw) no secret room behind the eyes. But there was an amazing view. And it was damned cool to get to go up there.

After Rushmore, we headed on home. . . Nebraska was much hotter and just as boring during the day. It was a short trip, but good. Yeah road trips. Yeah South Dakota. Yeah.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Home. . .

"You know that point in your life when you realize that the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden, even though you have a place you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. It just sort of happens one day and you can never really get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. . ."
-Zach Braff, Garden State

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of "home" lately. At the beginning of staff training Ian had us do a writing exercise about home. It got me to thinking how much my own home doesn't feel like home. . .

I know that I am ready to leave home because when I do go away I don't miss it. I miss the stuff sometimes. . . a warm shower, a soft bed, clean clothes. I could say that I miss my parents but I would be lying, I think. I miss my sister and my nieces, but I miss them when I am home anyway. . .

During the closing circle of the program I said basically the following: I have had a really hard summer and a really crazy year. It's not just that this program feels like home to me (although that is true) it is about who I am when I am here. I am the best version of myself. Everyone in the circle makes me a better person and I hope that I helped make them better people too. I am myself only when I am at home. . .

I don't think that my parent's house will ever really feel like home to me again. This year has been hard because I feel so uncomfortable here. This isn't home. . . but I'm not sure if I know at all what home is anymore. I don't know what home looks like or smells like or tastes like. But it isn't this. This is not my home.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills
I love the flowers, I love the daffodils
I love the fireside, when all the lights are low
Boomdiada, Boomdiada, Boomdiada, Boomdiada

We are up in the mountains, which is great. The situation in Denver was not ideal. . . we were in a basement of a church, and while we appriciate that free space, it was hot and cramped. For three days. Hot and cramped. But now we are up at our camp and there is lots of space (and also lots of cute little animals and dirt, yeah!) Camp itself is going OK, but you never really know until the end how things will turn out. There have been some administrative things. . . the worst part is that since it is such a short program, by the time we figure out what we are doing and get into a groove, camp is over. Either way, I'm looking forward to the next week and all the work that can get done.