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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tears in my throat

I haven’t written a real blog in a long time.

I want to be upbeat and insightful and contribute something to my little corner of the internet. The truth is that I’m having a hard time keeping the tears out of my throat. Life inside my skin is difficult right now.

And I can’t really point to the reason why.

It may be a part of the Peace Corps process.

Sadness is a part of it. I miss my family. I had no idea that not being present for my son’s wedding and now fully expecting that I will miss the birth of my grandchild would have such an impact.

And a level of worry has crept into my life. I thought by now that I would understand more about what is going on around me. I don’t. There are 5 additional people living in my house. The food is more erratic – my ibu-mama has been sick for the past week and has stopped cooking.

The week prior to that, I was sick and spent the time in bed and in the bathroom letting the food poisoning pass through me. I think food contamination is a better word, it doesn’t sound so ominous. The unofficial count was that 14 of the 18 volunteers experienced some form of it.

I got a letter from Peace Corps saying that no volunteer lives within 40km of the active volcano outside my window. Google earth and my maps tell me something different. I have no idea of the ramifications of that.

I no longer have my daily morning coffee support group. I don’t go to yoga. And my usual hour long meditation session on the Ipod broke the first week I was here.

This is the point where I reach into my soul and say, “You gave your word, you said you’d stay for 27 months, the path is just rocky right now, just keep walking.” I stubbed my toe the other day and the blood keeps soaking through the band aids. It’s a metaphor and a reality.

On the plus side:
I’ve become incredibly competent at my job. I love being a teacher. This past week I taught:
“Narrative text” based on a picture story from a Highlights magazine and pantomime to 5 different classes.
“Relief, pain, pleasure and request” using a set of cardboard sentences that I built into a game that the kids loved to 5 classes.
“Analytical exposition” to 2 classes where I simplified it into a lesson where the students wrote why TV is good and why TV is bad.
“Advertisement” lesson to 1 class – assisting the student teacher and making it fun for the kids
“Announcements and blurbs” to l class – assisting the student teacher with this one too.
And 1 other class where the student teacher passed out an incredibly complex story about “a buffalo, a tiger and a farmer” and I drew pictures on the board so that the students could follow along even though the vocabulary was beyond their comprehension.

And I taught a class on “English in the classroom” to the teachers and got them laughing and making up creative sentences.

I can take an incredibly complex piece of the curriculum and figure out what is essential and turn it into an adventure that the students and teachers and I all enjoy.

And I’m pleased that the Peace Corps Indonesia volunteers get to meet with President and Mrs. Obama this week.

I have lots of wonderful, surface level relationships with people who care about me.

Yet, I feel like I’m bobbing on the ocean. I have given up “home” – that place where people know who you are, where you go to rest and nourish yourself.

My optimistic spirit says that in all this painful birth giving process there’s got to baby somewhere. I think it exists on some level of my soul that I haven’t reached yet. I’m willing to keep going. But it doesn’t look pretty sometimes with tears in my throat and goo dripping out of my nose.


  1. Hi Colleen -- You don't know me but I am a fellow New Mexican who is following your blog. As a teenager I lived as an American abroad in the Middle East when my father worked for the State Department. In Turkey, I became a vegetarian, and have been ever since, though I have respect for those who eat meat with consciousness. I read your post about the holiday with fascination, especially about how you tried to understand exactly when death occurred.

    You write with such soul. And so much honesty. I have a lot of admiration for your courage and what you're doing with your life.

    Best wishes... Catherine

  2. Oh my gosh, Catherine. I rarely check to see if there are any comments and I am amazed that you follow my blog! Please feel free to contact me at Are you living in New Mexico now?