Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't Be A B*tch About It

Another week in the books and its funny how things are progressing. After the first two or three days here in Bangangté, everyone was talking about how they felt like we’d been here for two or three weeks. Time just seemed to be crawling by. This morning, though, nobody could believe it was already Saturday and that we only have 8 weeks left of training.

PST Status: Nobody has quit or died yet. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. I’m really impressed by how tough everyone in the group is. No one’s really shown any signs of cracking. My boy Trevor brought along a dozen beer cozies with him that he made for his Fantasy Baseball league. It started out as an inside joke with him and some friends back home, but written on each of the cozies is what has become our Training Group’s Unofficial Motto: “Don’t Be A B*tch About It.” It’s a bit crass, but when you have to sit through some of our horrific medical sessions (imagine sitting in a room for 2 hours a few times a week, just hearing a laundry list of all the horrible things that are inevitably going to happen to your body) or deal with some of the Roon's everyday hassles, it’s a great mantra. Think you might have worms living in your intestines? Don’t be a b*tch about it. Host family insists on feeding you fish-heads and chicken feet for dinner every night? Don’t be a b*tch about it. Have to sleep with headphones on so you don’t have to hear the mice eating your socks? Don’t be a b*tch about it. You get the idea. One of these days I’m going to have to type up a whole glossary of the lingo we’ve come up with since arriving. Some of it is definitely coming back stateside.

But yeah personally my spirits are high. We had a little med session on mental health and everyone filled out a questionnaire about the things that are getting to us the most about being here. Really, besides the obvious things like missing family and friends, the only thing killing me is that I haven’t played golf in a month. I guess I got lucky because I have a great host family.

The kids are so hilarious because we all have the same since of humor, meaning it’s a houseful of smartasses. Whenever I’m with them and I want to say something but need to look in the Francais-Anglais dictionary, I always make this little clicking noise with my tongue while I search for the word. After doing that for about a week, the kids do it to me whenever I look like I’m thinking about anything. I was sitting playing chess with Jacque the other night, and I paused a half beat extra to think about a move, and I immediately hear six little kids going “TCHK-TCHK-TCHK” in unison and then laugh at me. Punks. That night I specifically ate more at dinner so there’d be less left for them. Kidding. Sort of? But that is kind of an awkward part of my evenings...

Every night I get served with either the mother, the father, or Jacque (depending on who’s home.) The kids kind of hang around in the living room while we eat and then after we’re done they eat the rest. So like every bit I take, I’m taking out of a nine-year-old’s mouth. And as much as I love stealing candy from children, that can rack on a guys conscience a wee bit. To remedy the situation, I’ve sort of just switched my lunch and dinner meal sizes. My big meal of the day is lunch (which I procure and pay for myself). I’ll usually have a big avocado, tomato, and cheese sandwich or a plate of rice, beans, and potatoes. Follow that up with a couple hard boiled eggs and a Coca-Cola and you’ve got yourself a meal. Then I just eat a tiny bit of what the family is having at dinner so there’s more left for the kids. Reading over this it sounds a lot worse than it actually is. I'm not going to bed hungry, Mom.

On a lighter note, the education volunteers find out our posts this Thursday (AKA where we’ll be spending the next two years of our lives). Naturally, I’m insanely excited about it. There are going to be 7 science education volunteers. There are 6 posts in the two Anglophone provinces and 1 in a Francophone province (although still teaching science in English at a bilingual school). I won’t be too upset if I don’t get it, but I'm actually hoping I get the Francophone post. I feel like if I’m going to bust my ass for the next two months learning French, I want to be able to use it. It seems like I’m the only Science Ed volunteer who wants that spot though, so maybe I’ll end up getting it. Frankly either way I’m not too concerned because the Anglophone provinces are extremely beautiful and from what I hear, a bit more developed.

I got my first shirt tailored today. The material cost me 3.000 CFA (roughly $6) and the tailoring cost me 1.500 CFA (about $3). I had enough material for two shirts (deux chemise: basically an oxford or a blouse) but I didn’t feel like having two shirts of the same material, so I’ll probably just use the remainder for an ironing board. You get clothes here made out of material called pagne, which is basically cotton-like material with really bright and wild designs on it. I’ve never really been into prints but hey, when in Rome. The print I got is like dark green, and black, with a little bit of orange. It’s a bit more mellow than your average pagne but I’m going to ease into the style. Eventually I’ll want to get a boubou made. What is a boubou? Think man-dress. Tres GQ. I get to pick the finished shirt up on Wednesday so I’ll probably put up a picture of me in it when I post here about why posting announcement.

Oh yeah, anyone who reads this that’s into golf (Billy, Koon, Dres) needs to check out the book The Match. It’s by the same guy who wrote The Greatest Game Every Played (Mark Frost) and it was a NYT Best Seller. It’s about a Best-Ball match with two of the 1950's best amateurs, Ken Venturi and (Tar Heel) Harvie Ward against legends Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. Mark Frost is an amazing writer and the book is just unbelievable. I read it in about 5 hours, in one sitting (250 pages). I just grabbed The Road by Cormac McCarthy and I should be processing that one for a while. Blood Meridian was so good I decided maybe I was wrong about McCarthy when I didn’t like No Country For Old Men. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I finish.

That’s all for today. Check back Thursday night or Friday to see where I got posted and possibly some pictures of me in my hot new African formal wear.

P.S. – There are no prescriptions here. Any drug you want you can get over the counter. Odds of me developing a Brett-Favrian vicodin addiction? 5:3.

P.P.S. – Danny Green, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington are all coming back. UNC is going to go undefeated next year with an average margin of victory of 25.5 ppg and I’m going to miss every minute of it? Nice.

P.P.P.S. – Hi Mrs. Firth!


Dad said...

Hey jim,

Great med stories, they really put my hemorhoids in perspective.......

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

a) Yanks seem to be gathering steam, only 5 games behind Bosox -Joba won his first as a starter
b) Obama bin-laden has a big lead in the polls over McCain - God help us all!!
c) Love the 5 DVD set of the Giants playoff run you and Jessi got me for dads day - We beat Dallas last nite - oh yeah!!
e) Quit smoking on my 50th - now on day # 7 and....
e) Mom & Jessi are really a pain in the ass!!

Love, & stay well,


Dad said...

jimbo, forgot one update,

Jessi finally got a job - at Abercrombie - YES!! down, one to go!!


dabjrb said...

Mom and Jessi are a pain in the ass!! Dad Is the one who quit smoking, you should have been here Saturday. He had Jessi cleaning floors with a toothbrush and he told me to save money by cutting back on milk, bread and medicine!!!I think Jessi misses you most on Saturdays. Also, I don;t think dad realizes Jessi's job will probably cost him money!!!!


We love him anyway!

Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

thanks for hte book recommendation. my dad gave me his old set of clubs and i tried them out the other day. i played poorly for the most part, but i as bombing my three iron off the tee. i played with ryan and two other top o's a good thing you weren't there or you would ahve bludgeoned someone with your driver...not a whole lot of etiquette going on. hilarious about the host kids. (question: how do i get your tv to go to input to play n64? i got the cable working, but not the input) hope everything else is going well

Anonymous said...

Haha, I think the comments are more amusing to read than the blog...

Diane Lane says thanks for the shout out. We haven't mentioned the blog to my Dad; personally, I think it's best we don't give my family any more 'Tarheel' (Read: 'Jim,' if you've already forgotten your .impossibly. clever nickname) related material. I think you'll agree.

...ready to come home yet?

lilvtchic said...

jim! i'm SO enjoying reading your blog...and everyone else at caddell is too. it feels like your right here joking with us!

keep up the posts and i am glad we have people like you who can volunteer for things like this. i definitely think the minute i was served chicken feet or fish heads - i would be done.

take care!

Kunal said...

so what is the food actually like?

fish heads?

is food cheap?

Ken venturi was a tarheel?

I have time to read your blog now so im expecting high quality work like this last post.

6 kids? they are all younger then you? sound like brats -- right up your alley.

last of all - win at peace corps - kick its ass.

cmox said...

Hey Jim --

Sorry I haven't left a comment yet -- but been reading regularly -- so glad you're enjoying yourself -- what an experience, I'm jealous. So, your Mom, Jessi and Bree were at Aunt Cathy's beach house last week and we kept up the tradition of RULING the Beer Pong Table -- we're still the champs -- AND -- Your Mom and Jessi are really a pain in the ass!! :). Not reading anything great right now but anxiously awaiting the release of DARK KNIGHT - will send a review when I see it.


Aunt Crissy