August 23, 2013

I have been back in the United States for nearly one month. Although I’ve been jetting around and haven’t exactly settled in San Diego yet, there are a few things I have observed about my readjustment so far.

1. I cannot cross the street properly. Cars waiting to turn right on red hate me for my nervous indecision, because I still assume anything with four wheels WILL hit me.

2. I cannot flush the toilet properly. I keep panicking when I actually drop my toilet paper in the toilet for fear that those four squares will clog the entire city’s plumbing.

3. Picking produce at the grocery store is revelatory. I am used to scouring endless land mines of rotten tomatoes and repulsively bruised mangoes that unsuspectingly ooze fermented juice all over my hand only to come away with nothing because everything is spoiled.

4. No matter how safe the city (seriously, Fremont and Cambridge?), I still walk around on survival/attack mode. My code red cynicism is still alive and burning.

5. Speaking of attack mode, orderly lining up has become a foreign concept to me. Any time a queue is formed, my instinct is to rush forward, elbows out. Apologies to the grandma at the grocery store yesterday…

6. Taking showers and lying in bed may be commonplace routines, but for me, they have become awe-inspiring highlights of my days. I am pretty sure I have thanked the Lord for shower curtains, water heaters, H2O that doesn’t smell like sewage, and real mattresses more than anything else…even time with B.

7. I heard this one from many a Peace Corps returnee, but I am still shocked by the excess of choices and options and how easy it is to spend money here. The credit card may be America’s greatest weapon.

8. Last Sunday was my first week back at Existence Church, and I hit culture shock so hard. More on this to come, but, GEEZ, money everywhere.

9. The more I travel, the more I LOVE San Diego. What kind of crazy person would ever leave this paradise heaven-land?!

10. Food is delicious.


Things I Won’t Miss.

July 25, 2013

Winter 002Brrrr. I said, “It’s cold in here…”

I know. I complain about the Paraguayan heat all.the.time. It really is as intense as I talk it up to be and the sweating is indeed out of control.

But once in awhile, on rare occasion, a cold snap will sneak in overnight and wreak havoc on our normally sweaty souls. Because houses are built for torrid summers, there is very little insulation to keep the chill at bay. Floor tiles give the sensation of walking barefoot on a frozen pond and the gaping cracks around windows invite in gusts of bone-crushing temperatures. It is often colder inside than out, and as my friend puts it so eloquently, “Imagine spending October, in New Hampshire, in your unheated garage.”

Generally, hiding in bed while layered in my entire wardrobe and with my face dangerously close to a small, life-saving space heater is my survival stance. It mostly works but hibernation does complicate the necessity of bathing.

When I walked into my bathroom yesterday morning, it was 26 degrees inside. Fahrenheit. I rapidly jumped ship and abandoned all notions of showering or tooth brushing. Washing my face with liquid glacier was just not an option. I was going to have to suck it up at some point, but there was nothing a double layer of deodorant was not going to temporarily solve.

But after a full day of dread and goose flesh, prolonging the inevitable was no longer possible. And by the beard of Zeus, never has cleansing been such a harrowing process.

Standing in the bathroom fully clothed is enough to strike fear in the heart of an Eskimo, so doffing the duds is quite the otherworldly experience. With an open layout and no shower curtain, your body is further subjected to the fury of nature’s forces. Even worse is that the trickle that ekes out of the widow maker and covers only the crown of your head prevents a rapid rinse off and run. It takes Sandlot FOR-E-VER to complete a full shower.

On top of this agonizing operation is the constant oscillation between lukewarm water and ice cubes. Every thirty seconds or so, I have to hop out of harm’s way (although standing wet in the frigid cold isn’t exactly a safety zone either) as the water temperature lowers severely. The knob must be deftly handled with painstaking precision to guide the water back to human acceptability, and soap lathering resumes until the next episode of temperature cruelty strikes.

I will not miss this.

Backseat Conversations.

July 24, 2013

Lauren: Big [Lo], did you know that my sister’s name is Poophead and mine is Toilet?

Kate: Hey! That means I get to sit on you. And POOP ON YOUR FACE.

*uncontrollable giggles for the rest of the ride home*


What delightful little ladies.

When K saw the razor sitting on the ledge of my shower, she looked at me incredulously and shouted, “YOU HAVE A MUSTACHE?!?”

L immediately chimed in and said, “No, K, that’s like mommy’s…it’s for your eyebrows.”

(Their mother does not shave her eyebrows.)