Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caring continued...

I live here. Just saying.

I am done with the caring too much post. It was originally going to end on happy notes but I was so damn tired I couldn't write anymore.

On to happier times: There are so many things to be happy about! The blog I wrote about last night was my attempt at externalizing something unsettling that I was making a conscious decision about. But there really is nothing I can do but keep NOT doing anything while feeling bad about it because I don't think I should do anything. Mouthful...

I get home today. My home. In Jamaica, because I live on the beach in Jamaica (I still can't believe it sometimes and it has been almost a year). And I look out of my screen door into my yard and I see Busha...this old man that fixes things around here when they get broken. He is such a nice and pleasant old man and today we picked mangoes together. We have not one...not two...but three different mango trees in my back yard. We only picked from one, but did I mention I have three mango trees growing in my back yard? So it wasn't like we were just picking. We were on the roof, with a big long stick of bamboo with wire at the end and we were hooking it and trying to catch them and it was such an adventure! And then I got two of the six that were ripe. I will take pics and post them eventually.

Second thing I am happy about: Pizza. It is just about the best thing ever. Especially when made with beer. I made the best pizza I may have ever eaten last night. I am pretty happy about that. I ruined the last one but this was incredible!

Third thing: Podcasts! Can you say NPR-Fresh Air & Talk of the Nation. Not to mention Anderson Cooper and Bill Maher (who is fucking hilarious!). I am so having fun with talk radio at the moment and can't wait to listen to my next Bill Maher episode...these are all free.

Fourth thing: My social life is good. It is not the best because I live in Jamaica, but compared to many, I could be out every night of the week. This always comes and goes but right now I have been pretty social and it feels good. I am meeting a lot of really awesome people. Well, not a lot, but some awesome and some REALLY awesome people. I am thankful for that.

Fifth thing: Obama. I am reading Dreams from my Father right now and it is incredible. He is an amazing writer. I knew that of course. I have heard his speeches and excerpts, but this is just incredible. I stay awake to read it at night, which is hard to do because I already stay up to late. I heart Obama.

Sixth: Bounty bars with peanut butter. Cold and chunky peanut butter if I'm going to be frank. Damn good and does wonderful things to my soul. It isn't good for me but dude, I don't care.

Seventh thing to be happy for: BOWL OF NOUNS. 'NUFF SAID.

Finally, the last thing I am going to mention because I am a total dork is that I have been chuckling all day because I have been writing a song in my head. Kind of... I have been learning guitar and playing a lot and I am going to wirte a song. It is about Jamaican Anacondas. It is a satire about Jamaican steel and how awesome it is. I will have to record it and post when I am threw. Give me some time on this folks.

I think that is it. It has been bugging me that my last post was such a downer. I have plenty to whine about, but I am choosing not to.

Did you hear about my mangoes? ;)

"All your problems will go away if you just don't care as much"

Says my brother. Apparently, I am sensitive. Ya think! I care too much. I am too sensitive. I know these things. But, at the same time, I don't think that I want to not care. Maybe I couldn't accomplish as much if I were more apathetic. At the same time, my regulator seems a little out of whack.

Case in point: There is a dog next door. Bubbles/Sophie/Spot. She is this sweet little dog not 2 years old and is neglected, tied to a tree, and has about a foot and a half on her chain. I have done nothing about it. I have brought her food on occasion, but she isn't skinny. She is kinda fat. She is fed, her life is just empty and miserable. What am I supposed to do about that? She got pregnant. Her nine babies turned into one. I am not expecting it to survive. I have walked past this dog everyday several times a day wondering if I shouldn't feed her better food, make sure she has lots of water, etc. I feel like I watched these puppies dwindle and die and I did nothing. My logic was to help them survive so that they can have miserable lives, or let nature run its course. It was hard, and I'm not sure I made the right decision, but something is keeping me from intervening. It isn't keeping my stomach from turning everyday (literally unfortunately). What do I do? I am trying to observe, and learn. To understand why things are the way they are.

I am frustrated with all the unnecessary pain and suffering I see everyday everywhere. I can't fix it all. All I can do is be the very best person I can be and try to learn about how the world works so that I can make a positive impact in it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

God damn I'm an asshole, and I made a new friend.

Man, sometime it gets away from me and I don't even realize it until I say something so stupid and insensitive. I am not a poor Jamaican. By Jamaican standards I am not a poor American in Jamaica. However, by my American standards, I am a poor American in Jamaica. Since I am American, although I try to be as open to learning and culturally aware as possible, I can make the stupid and insensitive remarks that make me an asshole...to my new friend. My new friend who was asking me about how I live here, where, who pays me. All the normal who the heck are you and what are you doing in my country questions. And I ran my mouth off (money issues this month due to PC not reimbursing me in a timely manner, although I was venting about being poor in general). Then I found out my new friend works as hard as I do and gets paid almost half as much. I forget sometimes that the socioeconomic set up is so different that overall perspectives on everyday life changes from culture to culture. Being poor is a way of life for most people in Jamaica. There is a huge very lower class, a marginal middle class and high class. It might be a shock to us to live the way we do, but to Jamaicans, we have nothing to complain about... and they are right. Stories here that would make us Americans hold our breath and shed a tear, are just stories people tell in conversation because they are so commonplace and accepted.

I messed up today. It was humbling. Reflecting on it feels good, minus the being an asshole part. Thank you Jamaica for giving me this opportunity to learn. And grow.

My new friend is going to teach me how to cook. Ackee and saltfish, dumplings, boiled and fried, callalloo, yams, breadfruit, stewed peas, curry goat, curry chicken, rice and peas...I am excited.

My new friend is going to teach me how to braid. I want to take that skill home with me. I would like to be able to french braid my own hair.

I hope this works out. If this works out the way I hope, I may have just been adopted into a family here. Kind, smart, sweet people.

I wish I could type more. I want to tell you all about it, but it is so late and I can't sleep because I am afriad I am going to get raided by a bunch of angry roaches (Houston we have a problem). But that doesn't mean I am not tired.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is the cup half full or half empty?

Market in Lucea, Hanover (pronounced Lucy)

There are two ways to look at yesterday.

1.) Little sleep happened. Stupid roosters at 2am. I could murder them, I really could, although I guess all I really fantasize about is finding them and kicking them, so maybe I wouldn't be able to kill them. A good kick. Stupid fucking roosters. On my way to work a car sped around Church Corner and narrowly missed plowing me down. I'm fine I say. Go about your day. Then, at the end of my day, a tour van (15 passenger) was coming in my direction at a very fast speed and swerved directly towards me for a head on collision with my face. There isn't even enough time for me to move. I am just frozen. Bracing for impact. At the last second the van swerves back onto the road. The last fucking second. I really thought I was going to die. Burger King was a bad idea for lunch. Immediate bloat. Very immediate heartburn. Dumb move Tami. Tired Day. Although I did not fall to the ground and start rocking in sheer panic from that last close call (which is what I felt like doing), instead I kept walking. That is all you can do. Just breath and keep walking...but the anxiety was built up in me. Which resulted in very little sleep last night again.

2.) Things are going really great at work. The meeting last week was a success and there is a lot of work to be done because of it. I got most of the UNDP interim report done for our grant. Very productive day. My co-workers were asking me for advice. I bumped into a Jamaican from up the street that I haven't talked to in a while and she remembered me and my name (cultural integration wohoo!). Got a key for the office so that I can work late if I need to. Privacy. I was praised for my work. I had dinner last night with some poeple and made some new aquaintences in town.

I like the second one. Sometimes, it is easy to pick all the shitty things that happen throughout every day because you can't escape it, but one of the most important things for my survival here, is being happy at work. Yesterday I was walking and thinking that I love it here. I meant that not like THIS PLACE IS AMAZING I AM SO HAPPY. More like, this place is so full of beauty and opportunity and I am learning. It is more like an appreciation love. I so appreciate this opportunity to come and learn. I am learning.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cows, you ain't got nothing on me!

Ashley and I
Liza, Me, Ashley, Megan
My weekend was awesome. Lots of play with lots of friends! My highlight was definitely the 15 mile bike ride along the ocean on back trails through the West End. It was me, Ashley, Keith, and Lindsay out for a day of adventure and adventure we had! We had to plow through giant scary cows that we felt threatened by, we got to lift our bikes over giant rock mounds and gates, and we got to explore rocky beaches with blow holes! It was exhausting but so satisfying. I can't wait to do it again with someone. Lot's of scratches and a little sunburn, but we all made it out alright.

Keith is tough!

This week is intense at work. So we are trying to get our recycling going....which is hard. Wednesday is a meeting I have arranged with many of the hotels that bring their bottles to us. Peter and I basically have to charm the crap out of them, and show them what an amazing community project this could be with a little more support. Arranging this has occupied much of my time at work the last two weeks. Emails, follow up calls, a proposal, agenda, arranging refreshments, getting Peter prepared....I am so nervous. What to wear? Obviously my black flats, long black pants, and a button down shirt. Or a skirt? Tough call.

I am also going to start co-teaching a life skills class twice a month at the Theodora Foundation and designing and running a service learning program. This I am really excited about. I will explain more when I have worked out all my ideas for this. Very exciting!

Hopefully I will be diving more to help out with our coral reef monitoring section of our project. I might potentially dive as early as Sunday and I couldn't be more excited about that.

I think that is it for now. Just doing more of the same. Cooking a lot. Eating a lot.

Be kind. Rewind.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rescue Blues, New York New York, Firecracker

Here I am, Thursday morning. Taking my time (should be getting to work in 7 minutes) getting ready. Half the time no one is even there until almost 9:30. The culture of late. Now I make it a point not to get in until 9:30 or so. A girl can only wait outside her work for 20 minutes so many times.

The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky. I am sitting here listening to Ryan Adams, made some hot breakfast tea, and reheated my red bean soup for breakfast. Lots of hot things for such a hot place. I have learned that hearty stuff keeps me full longer. My red bean soup is just, well, red beans, water, callalloo, carrot, pumpkin, onion, and potato. Super easy, super good, and super good for me!

I have a friend coming into Negril today and I was going to try and get off early but just found out I have a 4pm meeting. YUCK.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO! It is my brother's 21st today. I have no way of getting in touch with him and I want to see what he is doing so bad! I hope he has a good time doing what 21 year olds do.

My 21st was awesome. It started simple at a pizza place, Kris bought me my first drink. An apple martini. It was soooo sweeet. Oh, and I had a pig shaped cake. It was awesome! So many people were buying me drinks. I don't even remember what all I drank. Me and my posse went from bar to bar to bar. I eventually was not allowed to go into the Shanghai Tunnel because the bouncer felt I was too intoxicated. I have never been denied entrance into anything! Naturally I started to cry and ran around the corner to call Jordan, my then long distance boyfriend. I eventually recovered and all was well. Until the next morning. Man, I am glad you only turn 21 once. Be careful and safe Rob.

Yesterday I turned in a grant for $100,000 USD. My supervisor procrastinated until the last minute again and I refused to help him scramble. I was not going to stress myself out again because he doesn't have his sh*t together. However, he came into the office yesterday and we were able to get it done and finish it up. The budget was intense and I rocked that mofo! Today I have to work on a proposal we are going to present to all the hoteliers at the Recycling Center to try and get them to give us some money. We need repairs. And a planning meeting for Earth Day.

Yes, it is another day in Jamaica.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I do lists.

Things I am grateful for:
  1. water pressure
  2. the ocean across my street
  3. access to grocery stores in my town
  4. my fan
  5. my hot water heater
  6. blender
  7. toaster
  8. roof space to hang my laundry
  9. dumb ass yard dog Lucky (keeps my bike from getting stolen)
  10. People here that look out for me
  11. friends back home that listen to me and my ranting and raving
  12. my increased ability to stand up for myself
  13. i can cook
  14. the ten books on my shelf I have at my disposal to read
  15. The 100+ ob tampons I have brought from the states

Projects I have been working on or aspire to work on:
  1. Practicing guitar
  2. painting
  3. learn how to make pizza crust
  4. perfect Mexican food in Jamaica
  5. rearrange my room
  6. flip over my bed (dent in it from always laying in the same place)
  7. organize Tupperware
  8. bike up to the lighthouse and back every morning before work
  9. pilates 3x a week
  10. yoga 3x a week
Things I can live without but still wish I had:
  1. French press
  2. skillet
  3. frying pan
  4. curtains that didn't look like I lived in a creepy old castle
  5. friends in Negril
  6. dry erase board for all my lists
  7. washer machine
  8. more patience
  9. better ice cube trays
  10. a non-rusty cheese grater
Things I really hate about Jamaica right now:
  1. Roosters at dawn outside my window
  2. inability to go on the beach without getting harassed
  3. Jamaican penis
  4. Absence of Dairy Queen
  5. Lack of decent beer to drink
  6. same songs play everyday, even at night, when i am trying to sleep
Things I really love about Jamaica right now:
  1. Fried dumpling
  2. swimming in the ocean
  3. cute spring breaker boys (all too young...I am getting old)
  4. not too hot
  5. bored of lists....
  6. ...
  7. ..

I have nothing to say. It is Sunday night, I am trying to prepare my day/week for tomorrow. I will leave you with the photo I took at the grocery store. They are edible panties....next to the school supplies, at the front of the store. Appropriate? TIJ

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another day on the rock...

Negril is soon to RECYCLE!

I am sitting here eating whole wheat/festival mix/bran pancakes and sipping on my breakfast tea while listening to Derby on my awesomely loud speakers and typing this post online. I wonder if sometimes the reason I am going crazy is that this is all a tease of the life I used to live. Maybe if I didn't have all these amenities, I wouldn't feel so deprived of others! On the other hand, I have been contemplating cable...hmm....

It has taken a while, but we finally have some bins for our recycling project. Now we just need transportation to move them, and then regular transportation to pick up the plastics. Knowing Jamaica (and I am being realistic, not pessimistic) it will likely take another month to get it sorted out and moving.

I also have stopped by a couple of schools and one of them I hadn't been to for like 6 months and a bunch of the kids remembered me! It made me so excited. I am going to Whitehall Basic and Prep on Friday to give a presentation on recycling and trash. There is garbage everywhere. You can't escape it. Most of it is hidden from the tourists, but there will be big piles and entire fields of trash right off the main road that community members live in and next to. It makes me so sad that people have to live in filth. It is partly because they don't have any other option, but also, they put it there. They need education, and they need alternatives. Tada! Recycling!

I have been getting lazy with my dishes lately. I just had a battle with some cockroaches and won. Lesson learned. There were so many! I felt like a warrior. Fight to the death! I used a butter knife, cancer causing fumigation, a coffee cup, and my tampax (read into it what you will). In the end, I killed almost ten. Well, like 6 the first night and then there was a bunch more that died in the night from my spray. But whatever. They are dead and I killed them. I don't like killing things. I really don't. An ant is just being an ant. A fly just a fly. A roach just a roach. The problem with the last sentence, is that a roach will make 1,000,000 babies! I don't care if there is a roach outside, if I see one, I kill one. It is called roach prevention.

I have to take my HOT shower, do my dishes (roach prevention) and go to work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I am the Tamahawk Cruise Missle!!! Watch out!

A house on my walk to work. He listens to the radio all day and sells bag juice for $15 (about 20 cents) to kids. Bag juice is well, bags of juice that are sealed and you bite the corners and suck out the sugar and syrup water.

Secrets...I don't really have any. Not really. I hate how they make me feel. I feel like of all the people I have and know in my life, if you put them all together, they would know everything about me. I just can't seem to hold them in. I tell people things I don't even want them to necessarily know, because I love and trust them. I wonder what it would be like if everyone was like that. I think I might even have a case of TMI. I know there are a few things I have been told that I wished I never knew.

I was talking to someone the other day about how I don't wear my emotions on my sleeve, as the saying goes. Instead, they live in my gastrointestinal tract. My tummy has caused me so many problems here, and I know why. Even when I was little, every time I thought I was doing something wrong, I would get nauseous. Maybe the years of wear and tear on my stomach has created weakness. Now I get nauseated, diarrhea, wake up in the middle of the night with my chest on fire, terrible pain like someone is scooping my insides out with an ice cream scoop. Not all in the same day of course. I think I would have to kill myself of that was the case. Sometimes just reading the news gives me an upset stomach. Thinking about the little boy I saw get run over by the car last week makes me sick, but what is worse is that it is business as usual in Kingston, in Jamaica. Sometimes I wonder since I am exposed to so much poverty and a culture that is difficult to understand, that I dwell on more bad then good. So I decided I need to learn to be more in the moment. I don't try to feel everything at once, I just do. I need to work on that. So in the morning, after taking my crazy pill, I need to take the 'don't give a shit so much' pill. I wonder if Pfizer makes that.
Work. Trying to turn glass into money in a country where the market doesn't exist and you work with egotistical- power- hungry Jamaican males all day=not always fun.
Lately, I have felt like I could never be in International Development as a lifelong career because I am tested so much at work. No one is testing me, I am doing it. I am forced to work with an organization that makes me a little sick. I can't leave, unless I really push. And even then, I am too invested in all the work I have done here so far. Instead, I am taking this opportunity to learn. I am learning about a culture that seems so ass backwards to me in so many ways, but they also run things, or fail to run things in ways that seem so obviously set up to fail. Anyways, my point is that I don't have a choice. This is my assignment. I am stuck, so I am learning. When my boss shows up and is a business man who carries around a gun and is on a power trip and a pig who tries to screw me every chance he gets, I realize that this is not the choice place for me to work. But I am here. I am standing up for myself, and my colleagues, and my work. I am admitting fault and failure when I mess up. I ask if I can take on responsibilities and projects that I am interested in, and I accommodate as best I can when I am asked to do things that I have no interest in. I have put my foot in my mouth a few times here and have dealt with it pretty well. Last week I accused the President of the Chamber of Commerce of funneling my grant money that I got for our project fair and square(!!), into the Chamber administration because they are so broke. He did not like that one. I did not play that one right. I learned. I grew. Today we had a three hour staff meeting where the prez ran off his mouth like he knew everything about everything, even though he only spends about an hour of week in the office. We all have full time jobs. We are all busy. He was piling more and more new work projects on everyone. I am supposed to start training one of the employees on grant writing and we suddenly had 3 grants to write that are due in the next couple of weeks. This is impossible. He is leaving in a few days for a 2 week long business trip. We were being asked to do something gargantuan without any support. We cannot create projects and build collaborations with other organizations and the writers that have no actual say in the project! Absurd! So no one was standing up to him. I did. I did and I didn't back down. He through a little temper tantrum which I have not seen. So far in the last 7 dys I have gotten him to yell at me over the phone and hten hang up on me, and throw a grant across the table and yell and pout. I am on a roll. But I stood my ground and people started backing me up and we got our point across. I learned there too. I was expecting something like that to happen. But I was also expecting my anxiety to turn into insta-diarrhea all over the office. Instead, I think I gained some respect from people in the office and I didn't even feel like I was going to throw up! Wohoo!!! Sometimes I have to remind myself that courage comes when you are afraid and you do something anyways. Like that quote that goes something like, "Speak your mind, even if you voice shakes." Even if it is a little thing. If you are nervous or afriad and you take that leap anyways...you grow. I grew a little today. Afterwards I felt like I was standing 10 feet tall so maybe today I grew a lot! So, in short (joking), I wonder if I was in a position that was different, I may be able to continue this kind of work. But I would have to be a little higher up on the totem pole. Here, I am just a student of life, love, pain, beauty, and suffering. Oh, and procrastination, and excuses, and a people that I don't understand. Only time will tell where I land, but my feet are definately off the ground right now.The kid in me.

There are some places and some things that invoke certain emotions in me. Some people bring out the best in me. Some places bring out the worst. My grandmother always brought out the best in me. Even when she wasn't around. I used to get these cute little packages from her when I was in college. I remember once there was a pair of leopard print panties that were several sizes too big. I remember calling her and laughing about that one. They were on sale. She didn't remember how small I was (even though I am more of a medium). Man she could make me smile and she made me feel so loved. I felt truely adored by her. When I visited for Christmas, I was happy to see everyone, but I soaked up every minute I could have with her. She brought out the best in me. Jamaica does not have the same effect. I feel like Jamaica has brought out so many things in me that I don't like at all! I feel like I am emotionally high maintainence. I am on a roller coaster on my roller coaster. All over the place. And it is like sometimes I can't even control it. I will wake up one day and feel so good and nice, and the next I won't want to leave the house. I know what it is and it is to be expected, but it doesn't make it feel much better. I walk down the street and am harrassed. I go to work and nothing gets done, and I am harrassed. I try to be nice and get to know people and I am already so jaded by the Jamaican people that it is exhausting coming out of my house, so it is jsut added stress hormones that are pouring into my body and random intervals. Being sick more than I am well is also difficult. Even though I may not like myself in some ways here, I have also been able to identify many things about myself that have changed. I am more insecure because I am more emotional, but I am also more confident in my own skin and who I am becoming as a human being on this earth. I am more standoffish to most Jamaicans, but I can also be compassionate and kind to those who have disarmed me. I fight the need to work all the time, everyday, which causes me stress and anxiety, but am not able to reconcile my actions as a volunteer and the importance of my mental health. As for the men situation/relationships...I have no words, except the emotional cocktail that is my life, my face, my smile, and my tears, in Jamaica are something I feel is best carried alone. I don't like feeling like what I am going through is not ok, or that I am overreacting, or that I am just some babblyboo. If I am, I am. That is ok. I am the stronger for it, and nobody should be subjected to dealing with me in this state! I am the Tamahawk Cruise Missle!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Off we go...into the bush!

I should be sleeping, considering I only got three hours of sleep last night, but I am mixed with angst and excitement for my adventure to come! This is something that has never been done before. The Wallis clan...the Glaint, and the Wam, hitting the road for 5 whole days! We are going to see parts of the island that I haven't even seen yet. We are going to brave driving on the wrong side of the road. We are going to be in the same lanes as the taxis and country buses. Man, I am so excited. And scared. I hope we don't die. I am worried I am going to fall asleep on the road when I have to be alert at all times. Yes, I have an issue with falling asleep at the wheel, so sue me. But I am not even going to be driving! My dad is. I am just worried that the second I close my eyes will be the one time I will not be able to scream, "Left side left side!!!" and that is it and we will die.

Wish us safety and good travels! Hello Kingston, Lindsay, Taylor, Jason, Molly, and Dave! Woohoo!!!