Monday, March 09, 2009
Apparently in America I suck as a blogger.
But I'm back for more, and here to start with an update as to what I'm doing. It shouldn't take long. I've continued to "enjoy" unemployment since I got back in late September, meaning my savings is quickly becoming nonexistent and I'm starting to consider employment in the fast food industry....okay maybe not that last part, but certainly my range of employment considerations and jobs I'm willing to apply for is expanding by the day. For those who aren't yet sick of hearing it, this economy blows. Suffice it to say this was probably the absolute worse time I could have come back to the US. Even if I came back highly qualified for various areas of employment, my competitors have increased more than ten-fold, and many of them have been working at least 10 years longer than I. It's a crazy unemployed world out there.
More specifically, I have been recently trying to relocate to the DC area, after having visited a few times and fallen in love with the energy of the city, along with the networking opportunities running rampant in the streets of the capital. You can smell the overachievement and name-dropping. Anyway, I think I could survive it for a couple of years to get my foot in the door with international NGOs before I try to get back overseas. This is option A. Option B is working in the Seattle area, a great city, my hometown, and also the home of multiple development agencies and intl NGOs. Option C (which is secretly the option I want the most but falls at the end of the list merely for feasibility issues) is moving to Brazil and finding whatever work is available, and/or hiding in the Amazon for awhile. Thanks to stringent Homeland Security regulations from the past 8 years (obrigada, Sr. Bush, a.k.a. B-dawg), it is a bit more difficult to move to Brazil hence its falling third on the list, but if I don't find anything in the next 2-3 months, I'm doing it. Period.
Aside from job talk, I suppose you could say I am kinda maybe sorta moving "successfully" past the cultural readjustment period associated with reentry. I hesitate to use the term successful, as it precludes the avoidance of all prolonged thought regarding Cape Verde or my life there lest I burst into tears and enter any form of depression. I've learned to compartmentalize, because if it comes at me all at once, I'm done for. And I admit that the "remembering my life and friends in a foreign country" compartment has been a bit neglected for the reasons mentioned above. Yes I keep in contact with people (sort of). Yes I have been doing presentations for students about Cape Verde and the Peace Corps (to keep myself busy, share my stories, and increase my odds of working as a Peace Corps recruiter, all very practical). But too much thought and I lose my ability to socially interact with others. Hmph. It is not as if my memory has erased all perspective of the difficulties I faced and the struggle it was to live and work in CV (those who read my blog know otherwise)....it's just been a lot of loss to face all at once. I grew so much, made a life for myself, and enjoyed the people I was around. I miss speaking Kriolu every day, I miss being challenged, I miss just having something to do with my time, too many things to do with my time.
But all that said, I am keeping perspective. I know that I need to enjoy this time, allow myself to debrief, relax, watch a few episodes of Law and Order, hang out with my parents, finish my masters project report. It's all very necessary, and I'm having a good time with it all, but after 5 months of this...it's starting to lose its appeal. Not to mention making student loan payments isn't getting any easier when money only goes out without coming in. At least I'm not paying rent.
All these months and overindulgence of political commentary and The Rachel Maddow Show have given me time to stew over my situation in the context of this political transition and economic meltdown. Though as I said before, I am staying positive and really could have found myself in a much worse situation, it's all seeming like I fall under the radar. Let me see if I can make this make sense: It gets exhausting hearing about Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the war in the Gaza strip (because foreign affairs and international relations ONLY refers to the Middle East, so f-ing annoying), hearing about the troops and supporting veterans when they come home (necessary of course, lest I sound unpatriotic), the need to create jobs and stimulate the economy, etc. etc. I feel bombarded with discussion of things that have nothing to do with me. When they talk about the stimulus plan they talk about creating jobs that won't affect me in the slightest, unless I'm planning a career change to construction or renewable energies. When they talk about supporting and employing veterans, that obviously doesn't involve me, as I am not even eligible for unemployment benefits having been a "volunteer" and not employed within the U.S. When I feel in the mood to indulge my soapbox, stepping up to wax poetic about the importance of Peace Corps and how under-appreciated we are, I think about how frustrating our national (or human) priorities are. Someone who dedicates their life to promoting peace, diplomacy, the development of marginalized populations, and all without getting paid or receiving recognition or the symbolic pat on the back, is so much less important or even noticed than someone who fights and kills largely because they have been convinced it is their patriotic duty by a country who is still convincing itself they should be somewhere they shouldn't. Don't worry, I'll quit while I'm ahead rather than deconstructing our nation's military or begging for attention for development or aid workers. I don't even know how I got on this track, a gift of free association and unplanned writing. I sympathize with the troops, I know that they put their lives and families on the line, trying to create a better future for themselves and others the only way they know how. But is it so unheard of to sacrifice for other, less glamorous objectives? I served my country, just in a different way. I guess this is the closet pacifist coming out in me.
Anyway, moving away from self-indulgent diatribes on the state of our union. All I mean to say is it sucks to have sacrificed two years and feel like you came out of it no better (in terms of competitiveness for employment, financial standing, or even social appreciation) than when you went in. This all sounds so self-serving I'm almost embarrassed to write it. No one who enters the development, relief, or aid scene, or who seeks to work in social services or with under-served populations does so for the recognition or financial remuneration. If they did, they'd be severely disappointed. I did not enter the Peace Corps hoping for applause as I stepped off the plane to come home, or a medal or plaque, or to gain immediate employment. I did so because of a passion for service, for youth, and for international development alone. So I'm not complaining, per se, nor am I surprised at this outcome, but am merely pausing to point out the inequality of it all. Messed up priorities in our world, has been like that for centuries. Probably not going to change any time soon.
So as not to end on a depressing or overly ponderous note, I will say that life is not so bad. I am getting lots of experience interviewing (one more coming up on Friday), exploring all kinds of employment options, getting back into drawing, and cuddling lots with my cat who I believe will never let me leave her side again. I am still experimenting with the Cape Verdean foods I remember how to make (or that we have the supplies to make...sadly I can't find midju kotxidu or congo beans), finally found an actual map of Cape Verde (harder than you'd think), and am teaching kids from Seattle that Cape Verde even exists. Peace Corps Third Goal team, take note.
With that, I will sign off for now. I hope this finds anyone out there who still reads this doing well and making it through potentially difficult times all over the world. Ki nos tudu djunta mon pa sobrevivi, ki nu ka skesi ki nos e capaz di fazi munti kuza.