Halfway

It’s some small irony that when you hit Mid-Service Training it means you’re more than halfway through. The timing varies by post and by class and by year, but at the end of MST, we of PCM-15 were only eleven months out, ten if you want to take the standing offer to leave thirty days early.

It’s a cliché to say that the time has flown, and it wouldn’t be right, either, not all the way. The days haven’t gone inasmuch as my perception of time has grown confused—I can barely account for the last thirteen months and definitely not for their order.

The ten weeks of training back in September and October 2013 seemed to stretch on forever, longer than all the months that have passed since June lumped together. I keep thinking that we celebrated Mexican independence in late July instead of September, and I can’t make anything that’s happened since stick in my mind apart from the All-Volunteer Conference, Día de Muertos, and Thanksgiving. All one-hundred-twenty odd days apart from those? Can’t account for them.

Maybe I just blocked it all out after this

Maybe I just blocked it all out after this

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T Plus Negative Five

Getting down to it now. I know I keep saying that, but we’re at staging minus five. Not a big number. It’s gloomy out on the deck, and DC’s early autumn has crushed all hope of toasting up in preparation for the Mexican sun. Querétaro isn’t particularly hot, but I was into the spirit of the thing. The ever-running rivers of sweat are gone, along with the DC summer’s egalitarian and intimate damp. But I can drink hot coffee outside now, so there’s a plus.

It's a less moist experience this way

It’s a less moist experience this way

There are a few decisions this week, two of which are worth writing. First, this blog. The Peace Corps has no problem with volunteers publishing on assignment, but the extraneous material I’ve got here might be a bit much, and I’ll have to decide how and if to quarantine it after I’ve talked with my country director. So we’ll see about that. Second, I’ve got to sort my life into take and not-take, and of the not-take, into queath and not-queath. Everything I’m leaving that isn’t personal documentation can be queathed on someone—it’s a matter of finding the right friend to queath on. If you’ve ever seen something of mine you’d like to borrow for two years or forever if I forget, drop me a line and it’s yours to keep maybe.

I’m breaking the off-topic into its own post today, so uh…nothing after the break.

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Letting Go

I’m worried about missing things. Or at least I’m sad about it. Melancholy. Prematurely nostalgic. Something like that. I’m going to be gone a hell of a long time, and I’ll be far farther out of touch than I was when I was in Spain. Not to mention busier. It’s all sorts of things. The first I had to overcome was the idea that all the shit I’d be doing here for 22 and 23 and 24 would be worth staying for. A summer spent in DC doing what I always do in DC (mostly nothing) has helped to disabuse me of that idea. Still, stuff remains. I won’t be here for the next two Hobbit movies, for instance. Neil Gaiman just came out with a new book, and since I haven’t got it or time to read it this summer, chances are I won’t know what it’s about for a couple years. Ditto every book I might have picked up. I can’t imagine English book will be as hard to get in Mexico as they were in Spain, but it won’t be as easy as, say, here. I might not see the end of this season of the Newsroom for a very long time. I have to call all these things up one by one so I can see how petty they are and let them go.

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Pack, pack

Porch time. NPR tells me that the heat wave has broken, but I suspect their offices just have better A/C than mine.

It’s going to become obvious, I think, that this is (will be) as much a personal blog as a Peace Corps travelogue. One because no matter what they have me doing, there’s no way it’ll be worth two years of regular updates, and two because I have other stuff to write about that nobody’s going to pay me for, and this is as good a repository as any. Especially since nobody (excepting the faithful-to-a-fault Alex Guyton) will be reading it regularly, and I won’t have to worry much about who sees what, an ixnay from my country director aside. So in the coming forever, be aware that there will be (may be) off-topic posts, although I’ll try to keep the categories straight for the benefit of literally no-one.

Anyway, packing. I am not excellent at it. In Scouts, Dad and I spent the first thirty minutes of every camping trip on the road, figuring out if what we had forgotten was nonessential or if I’d be spending my week giving new life to a pair of increasingly fungal socks. I don’t know if I’ve packed sober for anything in recent memory—the stakes have never been high, and I usually haven’t started before the night-before sendoff. This time around, I’m looking to put my life into one large hiking pack, one medium rolling duffel, and one typewriter case that weighs more than my mom.

It's more fun than it looks

It’s more fun than it looks

I managed it for Spain for five months, but I can’t say I did much planning or paid heed to the ‘you won’t be able to get this or that abroad’ advisories. Whether or not I could get this or that over there, I lucked out and forgot only what was readily available. This time, I’ll be packing glasses and backups, ten pounds of flouridated teeth products that my dentist assures me I’ll need to keep the meth mouth away, one suit and more businesswear than I’ve ever packed before, a space-taking camera, a bunch of electrical converters, every English-language books I want to be sure I can access for the next year, and a fucking typewriter.

I'm a smart one

I’m a smart one

I figure that I’ll be able to take about half my clothes and virtually none of my shit. As far as the peripherals I am bringing alone, it’s typewriter, laptop, camera, and fly rod. My dad’s big on it, I might be able to show some folks the benefits of clean rivers or supplement my diet or whatever (not likely). By and large, I’m pumped. To divest, to reduce my life to irreducibles. I don’t imagine the initial purge catharsis will get my through my term, but right now I’d lose the laptop too if I wasn’t packing a digital camera and a worthless blog. If I end up with a computer or at least periodic access through work, I might try to ditch even that, since with the fans shot and a keyboard shorted into uselessness by a Georgetown slumlord’s faulty A/C waterfall, the setup’s a bit of a goddamned mess.

Wave of the future, right here

Wave of the future, right here

Plus since I’m a video game nerd, it weighs what the British call a stone, and if I can avoid throwing my downtime into Total War, I’ll be one step ahead of where I was in Spain. By the by, I just slapped what I though was a mosquito but was apparently a tiny wasp. Puta fucking madre, man.

My preoccupation with English language books might seem misplaced since I’m not moving to Uganda or the southern United States, but if Mexico is anything like Spain, I can forget about finding the King’s in a bookstore. And while after a semester at University got me ready for straight history texts, Spanish literature is as hard as it ever was, and I can’t imagine that as good as my speaking and technical grasp gets that work will put me any closer to Marques or Borges. Double that if I cant call up SpanishDict at a moment’s notice. Although if anyone’s got a handy dictionary of idioms and aphorisms that spans a middle, Caribbean, and South America’s worth of Spanish, let me know. Anyway, I think I’ll cut it short for today. I’m not working off stored material anymore, so my posts might find themselves looking like they actually belong on a blog from now on. Saludos, friends.