Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Love Deva
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

Last Thursday was a big day for me. I took out my red bicycle I bought last August (and haven't ridden since last August) and had two guys fixing a car pump up the tires, and rode my bike to the Deva swimming pool. I've vaguely known that Deva has a city pool for a long time, but I've never been. I've heard from a lot of other volunteers reservations about Romanian public pools, but I thought I should at least go check it out.

It is so nice! There are actually three pools. One kiddie pool, on "middle" pool and then a pool that's two meters deep. I didn't actually find out how deep the other two pools are because I spent all my time in the two meter pool. In addition to three swimming pools, the whole pool-area which costs 5 lei to get in has a volley ball net, outdoor showers for rinsing off, and lots of outdoor bars and restaurants where you can get a beer and mici (sausages), corn on the cob, or ice cream and a variety of cold drinks.

And the water in the swimming pool is cold too. I hoped in and thought Wow! This is as cold as I wish my cool-aid would get in the refridgerator, however the cool-aid remains as cold as tap water. I swam laps across the two meters deep pool for two hours. Flotation devices are allowed and had I one of those floating rafts it would have been quite nice to float in the pool from which you can see our ruin of the ancient citadel in the hills.

I noticed, however that no one really swims acrross the pool the long way. Some guys were swimming across the pool the short way, but mostly everyone hangs around the edges of the pool and jump in and out. It's a lot of teenage guys thinking of new configurations of ways to fling themselves over the top of or into their friends and then into the water. And they don't always look at where or who they're jumping on to. And there are no life guards, so there's no mandatory 20 minute rest period - which would have been nice when swimming laps for two hours in water so deep you never once touch the bottom.

But the only bad thing about the pool is that there are no lockers. So I had to leave my bag with my bike helmet in it on my towel. I was actually expecting a phone call, so I went back to the towel repeatedly to check on my phone - but I guess I didn't check on my wallet. After I got dressed I left the pool and maybe I imagined I put my pool ticket into my wallet and my wallet in my pocket but when I arrived at the closest grocery store minutes later my wallet was nowhere to be found. And I had no minutes on my phone and no computer as mine was in the shop being fixed. And no money to recover my computer. Luckily at that moment when I was standing embarassed in the checkout line admitting I had no money, a friend called me and I was able to ask him to call Peace Corps and have the safety and security officer call me. But strangely, not two minutes later a collegue from my office called me to say someone had found my wallet and called the office. First I thought he had only my ID card. He was at the huge Super grocery store on the outside of town. I didn't know how to get there by bike and had no money on me for a cab so my work colleges drove out to meet him and he gave them my wallet while I waited at the office for them. I recovered my entire wallet, cards, IDs, and cash! I felt very lucky. And I immediately bought myself an ice cream cone!

Strangely enough, the amount of money in my wallet was about the exact amount that a pool pass costs. I think one might be a good investment. But regardless I'm looking for a friend to come with me on the 4th because I plan to spend the day at the pool - and I need someone to watch my bag.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Writer writer
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was five years old, I would have said an author illustrator. If you had asked me when I was in fifth grade I would have said the same, and when I was a junior in high school and a sophomore in college. I don't remember when things changed and I started to think being a fiction author wasn't a viable career option. Maybe it was when my manuscript was rejected from the First Young Adult Novel Contest and I realized the winner had an MFA in creative writing. I didn't realize you could major in creative writing because it wasn't a major at any state schools. And I figured that if someone with an MFA had to win a contest to get their novel published maybe I didn't have much of a chance.

Last year I decided to write my autobiography as a cook book some time in the future.

Some friends of mine and I decided to start holding each other responsible for writing goals (some of them said 10 pages in a month - I personally set no page limits for myself) but I don't think any of did much personal writing this month. I for one, I hadn't even realized it had been a month and was still thinking about my personal writing. I wasn't even going to mention it in this blog until someone just brought it up.

What I was going to say though was that I've recently realized that about 89% of my job is writing - and I seem to be doing a lot more writing than usual lately. Sometimes I'm writing introductory emails to random people I've never met hoping that we can collaborate. Other times it's finely tuned letters stating this is what I want, this is why you should give it me. I've written more than three proposals in the last five months. Last week was a perfect example of finding out the funding is available on Monday, sending out a proposal on Wednesday. That felt good. And then there was writing the same letter 22 times to send to different people. Not so good.

In my down time between writing for work - I actually do write letters and postcards home. And when work is slow (or like next week when I'll be recovering from camp) I write to Congress. (I'm not kidding I actually write letters to my congressional representatives.)

I've got to go work on another proposal now, but even though this blog is not a good example of my best writing (sometimes) it's nice to think that maybe all my talents haven't gone to waste.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Berry Bliss!
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

I think for the first time in my life I went to the piata and bought only what was on my list and nothing else. That's because I made sure that my list included fresh strawberries. Because in late May and early June when the strawberries are ripe, life isn't worth living if you can't have strawberries. The strawberries are so ripe that the air in the market even smells like real fresh strawberries.

And they are delicious. I ate one as I was leaving the market and I swear it was sweet perfection in strawberry form. The ultimate strawberry. True berry bliss!

I waked home dipping into my bag of berries thinking about what I'm going to do with my whole kilo. Should I buy yogurt? make vanilla ice milk? add whipped cream? You know what I think I'll do. Eat them one at a time.

The whole kilo, you may ask. No, some now, and some later.

I was walking up my alley thinking of how this could be better. If I had fondue-set and some chocolate? If I somehow would have time this season to make strawberry preserves? If there was somehow a hammock in my life and a constantly replenishing bowl of perfectly ripe strawberries?

I was walking by the blooming roses and my alley is heavy with the perfume of tea rose - that is when its not smelling inexplicably like jasmine. (I don't know what the jasmine bush looks like, but it smells exactly like the time I made jasmine candles with a jar of candle fragrance purchased off the internet...good.)

And I decided not to think about ways to make this experience better. I have strawberries and good weather, pretty flowers. Why complicate things?