"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Impromptu Pre-Peace Corps experience #57


I'm working as a German handbread baker for Christkindlmarket on the Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago so I can pay off bills prior to serving in Ecuador. The majority of vendors are directly from Germany...and so THE language spoken in the kitchen tent is, of course, German. I know how to say 'hello', 'good morning', 'good night', 'yes', 'and', 'no'. So at the moment, I don't know how to communicate with most of the people I see all day and all week long aside from big smiles and awkward hand gestures. I don't have much time to learn a lot of the language, and besides, I'm trying to focus on Spanish...but I think I'd be really missing out if I didn't learn at least a little.

On the plus side, the cleaning crew speaks Spanish and seems totally friendly. And one of the other bakers at the booth I work in speaks it too so hopefully he won't mind an occasional 'What does this mean?' or 'How do you say...' And one of the vendors is from Ecuador! I hope they're friendly too...I'd definitely love to talk with them.

So, here's to a good season. Opening day is tomorrow and I should be in bed... the owner wants me there at 7 a.m. and it takes an hour and a half to ride the train in. The past two mornings, I've been blessing the presence of our neighborhood Coffee Station. Especially today. Soooo cold. Am totally wearing XtraTuffs, long johns, and a fleece hat to work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Acts of kindness

Nothing much to report on the first half of the day, but eventually we geared up to get to the hospital for our daily visit with Nani. We stayed around just talking and visiting for a while until my uncle and his wife left. Mom and I should have noticed a few odd things Nani was doing and saying, but we chalked it up to the condition she was in.

I went downstairs to get tea and came back...when things really began to go haywire. She slipped into a short catnap, and when she woke up, was totally disoriented. She didn't understand where she was in the hospital, what happened, thought everyone was trying to kill her. She didn't even trust mom or me, and wanted my uncle back. Keep in mind that this is completely abnormal behavior for her, so it was a shock to mom and myself. The nurses moved her bed to a room closer to their station against her will, and I held her hand as she slowly got out of the episode. The strange thing is she knew the whole time what was going on and what was so wrong about it, but she couldn't stop herself.

My uncle & his wife came to relieve us and mom was naturally really upset, so once things were settled we had to go.

At home my parents sent me out on a late night errand to the 7-11 around the corner for diet coke (I HATE pop, and I encourage them to quit it but not tonight). The clerk is a sweet man who asked how I was. I automatically responded "Great!" with a big smile and instantly added "Well, I've had better days I guess." Asked if I wanted coffee... oh yes please. Grabbed a case of coke and a cup of coffee and, at the counter, the clerk said the coffee was on him tonight.

What was extra kind about this is I rarely ever need to go in this store. That little gesture was so touching to me and I really needed something like that.

So... just a reminder out there, you can really help someone out with random acts of kindness. Even something like free coffee. Ok, ESPECIALLY something like free coffee.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The second time I ever called 911

Hello from the hospital.

We keep saying this happens to pretty much every family.

Yesterday my mom and I went to my grandmother Nani's house to visit with her and her sister, but when we got there we found our aunt sitting in her car in the driveway. She explained Nani was busy or something and wouldn't let her in... it didn't make sense. We walked up to the door, mom dropped her bags and started trying to break down the door. Then I heard my Nani screaming inside - I heard "fell" from someone, and automatically called 911. Mom bounded around the house to the backdoor which was open, and made her way in with me on the phone dragging the neurotic dog. Just as I hung up with the dispatcher, I heard a fire truck siren around the corner. Nani and my aunt expressed doubts ("Who called the ambulance? ughh") and I wondered if this was overreaction... but after being an EMT an elderly person falling is enough to warrant medical attention.

They packaged her up and brought her to the hospital while we followed after a bit. Things were of course not so good in the hospital, and I'd never seen my grandmother so torn up. Never saw her cry until now. I held her hand and felt terrible. Really, what's going to happen? After xrays the orthopedist came in to announce she broke her hip and needed surgery the next day. It was an incredible feeling I can't even recall right now, but it was essentially equal to 'doom.'

Moved upstairs, doped up, and stayed until 8. She was probably going into surgery at the end of the day as an 'add on' patient.

This morning, we got a text from my uncle that was was going into surgery at 11. No way we could make it in time, so mom and I made our way to the hospital leisurely. Nani was just released from post op when we arrived, and was shaking in a cocoon of blankets. Things went just fine!

She's lucid now talking about her favorite movies. Feeling some pain around her hip. Looking much better though and beating up herself less for her fall. Here's hoping for a fine recovery. My grandmother's so brave.

SO for Peace Corps news...

I still haven't found anyone going to Ecuador. Where are you all? It wasn't a fluke being invited there, right? PC didn't mean Paraguay?

Two days after I got my invite kit, I sent in my personal passport, "official" passport application, and a couple passport photos. And after investigating more, it seems like Peace Corps will reimburse me for the cost of those photos. I wasn't really happy about giving up my personal passport, but then I also read PC will return that during staging.

And I put off one of the more difficult challenges - my aspiration statement. I browsed a bunch of statements online for inspiration and, just on the last requested day to have it done, I wrote it up and sent it in. I don't know why it was so hard... it was hard to be confident and vague at the same time, I guess, but it's possible.

So next step is sending in the media paperwork and waiting for updates on staging.