Friday, February 24, 2012

I am the chalk monster.

Hello world! I hope everyone is doing well and ready to read two weeks worth of blog stories!

Cindy vs. Rat
You will all be happy to hear that I am FINALLY getting some sleep at night. That's right the rat is gone. Dead and gone to be more specific. I laid out poison several nights in a row before it started to actually take it's toll on the little rodent. In the early evening I was sitting on my bed when I heard something rustling around near a plastic bag. I decided not to investigate, until I heard it a second time. I walked over there to realize that it was our little rat friend slowly making his way around my house. I captured it under a cooking pot while I tried to find something to slide underneath of it to carry it outside. Thinking ahead, I also tied up Viper so she couldn't sink her teeth into our poisonous little friend and opened the garden gate door for easy access. I found a hunk of cardboard and decided to try and slide that under the pot, however I lifted the pot a little too far off the floor and the rat sprung back to life and ran around my house hiding in a tight corner between a chair and a water tank. After much consideration and ideas of plans I knew would not work, I decided to call in back up. At the promise of one million doughnuts I begged and pleaded at the Germans door for them to come help. This was not as much help as I had hoped. He ended up chasing that rat around my house for close to 30 minutes before he eventually captured it under a bucket and hit the same creative wall I had hit about an hour before. He went with quickly sliding the bucket from inside my house to out on my step where we again stopped to discuss our options for several minutes. At this point Viper is getting curious. We decided to slide the rat out of the bucket into another bucket but in the process the rat escaped!
Viper pounced.
I screamed (no doubt waking anyone who dare be asleep at 8:30) and hit Viper with a bucket until she released the rat from her death grip. I held her back as the German bravely scooped up the now dead rat and carried it out to the woods.
What a night!
I slept like a baby.

Oh the Art Exchange
The majority of last week was spent on this project. I heard about it through Peace Corps and decided, “Why not torture myself!?”
To explain, this is a program where schools from around the world have 25 students create 25 pieces of artwork representing the culture and life of that country, send them to America and in exchange you receive 25 pieces of artwork from around the world. Great idea right?! Right! I thought so too. I figured this was my chance to bond with the hearing kids to a degree.
Monday- 28 kids show up. Good, cushion
Tuesday- 13 kids show up, 4 of which were there on Monday to hear the instructions
Wednesday- 17 kids show up, some were there Monday, some were there Tuesday, some are brand new. I've handed out 60 pieces of paper (that I paid for) and have approximately 4 completed pictures, at which point I lecture the kids present that if they don't return the next day to finish their pictures I will hunt them down and make them finish.
Thursday- Most of them returned and some were hunted down. I ended up with 27 completed pictures by the grace of God.
Needless to say this project was painfully time consuming, but I learned we have several very talented artists within our school.

Stir Crazy
I've finally gotten to the point where being in my house makes me crazy. I haven't decided yet if this is caused by just being there or if it's caused by my house being the size of a large cardboard refrigerator box. Either way, I decided it would be a good idea to move some furniture around. Due to the interesting size and set-up of my house I have few options when I do something like this, so basically the only thing I accomplished was to move half the stuff on the front wall of my house to the back wall and half the stuff from the back wall to the front.... oh and making a HUGE mess. It took me a total of 8 days to get everything in it's place again.

Suds and Students
As most of you know, I will do almost anything to find someone to wash my clothes for me. I hate doing it. Also, my clothes never actually get clean because I'm happy if they even come in contact with soap at all.
One of our students disappeared a few weeks ago. Rumors were that she was married and/or pregnant, which tends to always be the rumor if you're absent more than a week. The true story turned out to be that she was chased out of the home she was living in and was forced to move in with her step mother who found it a waste of time to send her to school when she could just have her working at home. When the guardian found out about this she pulled rank and moved the student back into her house and came to the Unit for our advice. The issue is that the guardian lives too far away for the student to walk and she can't afford to send her here and home on a matatu everyday.
The solution?
Someone doing my laundry!
Basically the breakdown is that I'm paying for her to come to school everyday on a matatu and she does my laundry.
We just started our deal yesterday and she was pretty mortified at how dirty my clothes were. Probably not because they were dirty from wear, but because they've essentially been collecting crud for a year and a half with a couple rinsings here and there.
Moral of the story? No matter how good you are at washing clothes, Kenyans are much much better. My clothes are twice as clean and she used half as much water.

Breakfast Burritos
I am one of the luckier volunteers (depending on how you see it) because I don't really live in the village. Sega is a town, surrounded by villages, and even better, other towns. This means better food.
There is a town nearby, it's about 5 minutes by matatu where I can meet up with other volunteers out in that area (who actually live in villages) and have a pretty decent meal. The place we go is actually an extremely overpriced hotel in a town smaller than mine with a pretty delicious restaurant. In my constant search for food that maybe tastes a little bit American, we have discovered we can make breakfast burritos! Last weekend I perfected the order. It must be ordered this way....
“You can make scrambled eggs and just put cheese on top yes?”
“okay, I will have that and also a side of bacon.”
some writing happens... short hand doesn't exist here
“I will also have a chapati, but not cut, just the chapati whole”
BAM 2 hours of waiting later we have our some assembly required breakfast burrito! I will be meeting a volunteer there again this weekend and we will be trying for hash browns and salsa to get added to the burrito situation. We would also like it to be on the menu, named after us. I'll let you know how it goes.
Moral of the story: It's important to set goals for yourself.

Peace Corps Goggles
Quite the opposite of BCG's for you military kids out there! Peace Corps Goggles is a reference to how our standards for who/what we would date deteriorate over time. Yes, it's an exact science.
For the most part, the rule is you assign a number as to how many months (or weeks, depending on how far into service you are) it would take before you would find a particular person attractive.
I have self restraint, but I have realized I have my own distinct form of Peace Corps Goggles and this time instead of referring to people they refer to fashion.
Yesterday I walked by a skirt that by anyone else's standards would be considered truly heinous and out loud remarked “oh, now that's cute.” I did a double take. It was a navy blue skirt that looks like something my kindergarten teacher probably wore in 1992. Heck! Maybe it is the navy blue button down free flowing skirt my kindergarten teacher wore in 1992.
I'm still trying to decide if it's one of those “everything comes back into fashion eventually” things or if I have just been here so long that I truly have lost touch with what normal people wear in society.
December 2012: Possible fashion disaster coming your way, America! Look out!

Cindy vs. Goose
I get along with animals much better than this blog lets on. The animals here are just pure evil, except the lovely Viper, of course.
I haven't updated about the goose lately. We still don't get along and now they've had a baby which is now grown to full size and has the same full size hatred for me as his dad. Now instead of one goose chasing me extending it's neck and hissing like a pissed off cat, I have two. The female goose has no interest in me, it's kind of nice.
Maybe someday I will write a truly terrifying children's story about this goose.

Dream Weaver
For weeks on end I can go without remembering a single dream and then BAM! I have a few days where I dream very vividly and remember almost every detail when I wake up, and then of course immediately report it to whoever I think would enjoy it's bizarre nature the most.

-Animal mania
The other night I dreamt my Mom was helping me clean my house (which at the time desperately needed it, obviously my subconscious knew that) and she was re-affixing my fabrics to the ceiling when she ran across one that had come unattached on one whole side and said “ew, there's scorpions in there”
I was not phased by this one bit, which is odd because I've never seen a scorpion in real life and if someone reported there being several in my house, I’m pretty certain I would react.
After a bit more cleaning I decided to check the situation. It ended up being 2 cats and 2 dogs. Yes, I know dreams are weird. I rescued them from the fabric hanging down from the ceiling and then sat in on the couples' therapy session of the two dogs. They discussed their fear of being sent to two different owners because they didn't think their relationship would withstand the long distance aspect.
I later found myself on a couch asking,” Does anyone want any cats or dogs? I have two of each but if you take one dog, you have to take them both, because they're dating.”

-Baby mania
The night before last I had a dream I had a baby. Not just showed up walking around town with a baby, I had a dream about the actual birthing process. It was awful. The baby was a boy and his name started with a J, I can't remember the name but I remember not particularly liking it so I'm not sure how the kid got named that. I also refused to use any kind of carrier or stroller, I just threw that thing on my back with a hunk of fabric Kenyan mama style and I was on my way.
It was a confusing time for me, and I'm pretty sure I brought him to a bar.

To teach is to change a life forever
This is true, though I think it means your own. Just like when you send a soldier off to war he/she will never be the same when they come back. Once you teach, you will never be the same. I will always think differently. I will always wonder what crazy project I can make out of bottle caps or empty water bottles.
I don't think I understood the importance of teachers until I started teaching. I never realized how much effort and creativity was put into teaching me when it was happening. It takes a special and slightly insane person to be a teacher, and a mostly insane person to be a good teacher. I don't know where I fall on the teacher scale, but I do know that if someone can correctly answer a multiplication problem I would probably give them a sack full of golden bricks.
I also always thought (always being, a year) that teaching students that are Deaf was far more difficult than teaching hearing students, WITHIN PEACE CORPS WORLD. At least with hearing students if they aren't looking at you, some of the information is bound to ooze into their little brains. Also, there are no language barriers and their vocabulary isn't so limited. I pretty much thought teaching hearing kids was a total breeze. NOPE. They listen worse than my students, they understand me less than my students and the information does not just ooze in. I learned this during my art exchange.
So, although teaching my students takes a special kind of nuts and requires a lot of drawing and running around looking stupid, it turns out, I'm much better at teaching this way. Hearing kids don't think it's funny when I dance for no reason.
To all the teachers out there, regardless of what hearing status, mental status, behavioural status, age, size, gender, or colour of your students, a big thank you for being crazy enough to educate our world!

I do believe this concludes today's blog, as always thanks for reading!

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