Peace Corps Part Deux!

Dear Guinea,

Is it too soon to say, “I love you?”  Because I kind of think I …might.  How’s that for commitment? 

But can you really blame me?  Don’t play the fool, Guinea, you know you’ve been doing your letter best this whole time to persuade me of your affection.  Strutting your bright colors and vivid smiles; greeting me on the streets with genuine affection shining in your eyes.  Don’t tell me you do that for all the new guests, it just might break my heart, but that’s just your kind nature.  All the more to admire.  Tell me you really mean it -that your languages will soon be gliding off my tongue and your people will accept me as Sister.  I sort of liked you from the moment I awoke.  The night I arrived I was pummeled by your humid, dripping, heat; the two days of intermittent sleep made me wobbily and dizzy, but perhaps I really was swooning.  Yours is a rough and rugged beauty of someone who knows how to work and who’s nature shines through.  No, but that morning, that morning when I was greeted with a bean sandwich–a delicacy I knew, but somehow you made it your own.  Well, I kind of felt at home.

So here’s to us!  Here’s to you and me and nine beautiful months of projects, accomplishments, and friendship.

Yours,

Elizabeth

Liz Does Relationships (and the world-traveling modern female)

Alright you all, I’m about to go down on the dirty.  No, I’m not going to give explicit details from my own personal life (uh, yeah right), but I am going to try to collect and present my observations on love (and lust) for the world traveler in some sort of coherent and meaningful way (if I fail, which is probable, let’s call it well-intentioned ramblings from the Road).

Doesn't it kind of look like she wants to get away?

As far as personal stories go, I will admit to this, that I ended up sacrificing a five year relationship with a great guy to satisfy my own wanderlust.  And I also can say that I believe I made the right decision.  Follow your dreams, or you’ll live to regret it, right?  That’s the adage, and if current pop culture has anything to say (and they’re always saying something), then eventually you’ll end up with both the dream career with the dream partner.   Boy as hopeful as I would like to be, the cynic in me says “not always the case.”

Let’s take the world traveling female, for example (sorry, boys, I’m not going to attempt to write your experiences, and sorry, ladies, because I will attempt to write–perhaps generalize–yours).  At this juncture in my life (I love the word ‘juncture’), I do not foresee “settling down” anywhere in the near future.  And YET! I hold on to the assumption that I will find a partner and be able to have a family–One Day.  But, biologically speaking, I should probably be at least considering that “one day” might come too late and I may find myself ready for the whole family-caboodle, but sterile and ALONE.  After all, as this article from ABC News states,

By the time a woman hits 30, nearly all of her ovarian eggs are gone for good, according to a new study that says women who put off childbearing for too long could have difficulty ever conceiving.

The study published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland found that women have lost 90 percent of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old, and only have about 3 percent remaining by the time they are 40.

And as I am about to turn 26, and wasn’t even planning on beginning to think about having a baby until I was well into my 30s, it looks like I just may be fucked (or maybe I should be getting fucked that is).  I recently had a conversation with a friend, a fellow world traveler but male, who expressed many of my own beliefs about this whole “settling down and having a family” thing.  He said that, basically, he doesn’t feel that marriage is necessary if two people love and are committed to each other, and he’s all for traveling and living the “ex-pat” life.  Men, however, can have children so long as they’re cranking the stuff out (which can be well into their seventies and beyond), do not have to physically carry the baby to term (or breast feed, or feel bloated and fat), and for some reason women tend to go for the older man (even I have been known to have a few hopeless crushes on the balding, bespectacled 40+-somethings), meaning they have it easier if they want to “have it all.”

Even if we are to put the whole fertility issue aside (because seriously what better way to get into a guy’s pants than to harp on and on about your biological clock?) there’s the whole logistics of it all.  My current short-term plans (let’s say five years) involve me moving around A LOT, and we’re talking a series of trans-continental moves.  What are the odds of finding someone who would be willing to drop everything and come along for the ride?  Even a fellow wanderer, who lives for travel, may have a different location in mind.  And, from personal experience, long-distance relationships are straining, and sometimes unsatisfying (if the distance and time apart are significant).  One of the reasons why my long-distance relationship ended was simply that neither of us were getting enough of the benefits of being in a relationship to stay in it (and both of us too poor for visits to be an option).  There is only so much intimacy one can transmit through the satellite projections of two cellular phones (that is how they work, right?) and the unfeeling Times New Roman, black letters on a white screen, achievable through email.   We physically need touch.  So, that leaves us with only one answer…

PROMISCUITY!  (Just kidding, take a breath, Mom.)  But seriously, let’s consider this for a moment.  Now, I consider myself a modern feminist.  I would like to fancy myself capable of throwing out the old, tired, traditional image of “Boy meets Girl; Boy dates Girl; Boy marries Girl; and Boy and Girl live happily ever after with 2.1 kids, white picket fence, and a mortgage,” for a newer, hipper image!  An image that screams, “I don’t need anybody!”  Picture it, a young woman moving around, independent but not alone, lovers all over the world, not ONE BIG LOVE, but many, passionate love affairs.  This lady is cool, in every sense of the word.  If she decides she wants to be a parent, she makes it happen (hello sperm bank/willing participant)–no strings attached!  She can do it all, and all on her own.  The elusive, ‘uncatchable’ female.  Do I want to be this woman?  HELL, yes!  I would LOVE to be that independent and strong, but if I’m to be brutally honest with myself (and you poor readers who made the mistake of clicking on this link), it’s not what I really want.

I’d like to “One Day” find a guy willing to be my partner, one who wants the same things in life, and willing to shoulder some of the burden.  I believe a healthy relationship is when two people join together and commit to be honest with each other, have fun together, support each other, whose mere presence inspires each to be their best possible self, and who are moving in the same direction.  I also believe, that if the time comes that they must go separate ways, they should be able to say “I love the person that you are, and I will cherish our memories together forever; however, it’s not working out anymore, and I wish you the best.”  There doesn’t have to be drama or jealousy because love isn’t about ownership; two people can be together while maintaining their identity and freedom.

Okay, so I’ve talked myself into a mess.  I have no more answers than when I started this post, and in fact, feel a bit more confused.  I do know because of a recent experience, that as much as I love being independent and on my own (and the pride of knowing that I can thrive by myself), I actually miss having someone to hold me, talk to me, and that fun that comes from slowly opening yourself up to someone and they to you.  As my girl Tracy Chapman says, “I don’t want no one to squeeze me; they might take away my life; I just want someone to hold me and rock me through the night.”  For now, anyway, and maybe One Day just might come…

If I had the chance I’d ask the world to Dance

I would bet that many of you, myself included, like to believe that you are good, moral people in our hearts.  The kind of person who would stand up against wrong in any form; would catch a bullet for a stranger if in that particular circumstance; would fess up for a catastrophe no matter how humiliating.  Yes, well, today I found myself in a situation and I reacted well below my own expectations.  And I am ashamed.  My perpetually pregnant cat, Pagoda, came in through the window with a lively, wriggly lizard and was playing with it.  Me (no longer a tom boy since the onset of puberty) was completely grossed out and squeamish so asked a neighbor girl playing on the front porch to assist (clue number one that I am not as noble as I’d like to think).  And here’s the whopper: not only did she come in to get that sucker, she came in and proceeded to beat the shit out of it with her legless, armless doll.  That’s right, a skinny young girl beating a lizard on my dining room floor with a Sally Talks A Lot who’s seen better days.  And what did I do during all this?  Stood on a chair and looked away.  Alas.  There it is, I am a despicable human being.  Not only an “animal lover” but stood by and did nothing as a lizard (a namesake!) was bludgeoned to death with a child’s toy–by a child.  This is going to do wonders for my karma.

In another somewhat related note: Perpetually Pregnant Pagoda has become a serial killer and I condone the behavior by cleaning up after her.  Most kills (small mice) are food and I think that’s awesome and nutritious for her, but lately she will bring in a dead rat (and I mean huge stinking rats), decapitate them, disembowel them, and leave the whole mess for me to find in always the secret and surprising location (i.e. bookshelves, under dining room table, etc).  It’s become a rather disturbing pattern, and I have been contemplating turning her in (for her own good of course).  Gosh I hope she doesn’t read this…

A bit o’ good news!  We got the deed for the adjacent parcel of land (finally!) and it’s off to get the plans and budget to post my PCPP and start begging for money.  I’m going to get the price down as low and reasonable as possible, but it’s going to be quite the challenge coming up with the money.  I’m anticipating (and hopefully overestimating) around 20,000 USD for the two buildings.  Can we build an orphanage in less than a year?  I say we can!  Stay attentive for new information.

😀

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And finally I leave you with some pictures of a funerailles party in Dschang.  This was a funeral held on November 20th for a man who died in 1988.  Yes, you read correctly.  Always a good party! Cheers.