Back from the dead!
So much has changed. I actually came across my blog Googling myself (I'm updating my CV--I'm not completely narcissistic!). I read what I had written. I started thinking about this journey I've been taking the past few years: so unexpected, so terrifying, so confusing, so right.
I doubt anyone is reading this anymore. Who would check a blog that has been totally dormant for 2 1/2 years? But reading my blog reminded me of how much I like to write, not even necessarily for readers.
In case someone is reading this, here's the brief update:
G and I are now happily married. A few conversations about dreams and plans over beers turned into a decision to get married. Neither of us believes in marriage; the idea was (in May 2007) to get married to begin the arduous visa process (duh duh duh). We got married on both of our lunch breaks in city hall; I was wearing a purple tank top and he, a black button down shirt. It was a secret ceremony. The idea was to have a birthday party in June in which would announce our marriage as a surprise. I, of course, can't keep a secret. The news came tumbling out as soon as I saw another human being who would care. We had a makeshift celebration of a sushi lunch and then a whole ton of rum. We had a larger, more formal party in June 2007. My family came down and it became somewhat of a wedding; as close to a wedding as I could muster. It was simple and kind of silly but hopefully fun for all involved.
The whole thing happened in a blur. I remember the night before the marriage. After months of intense heat, the kind that builds on itself, the sky broke in a raucous, exhilarating storm. It felt liberating, but also sad--the beginning of the daily rains, the grayness, the humidity, the mosquitoes. I lay on a mattress in the middle of my office and cried my eyes out. I don't know why. It was painful somehow. It might be the way everyone feels right before they get married.
Things didn't go quite according to plan. G quit his job and somewhere in between our wedding and getting our act together to apply for his residency he found something new. He went to an audition for a new TV show. As an actor. The show is a melodrama--a weekly series produced by a Nicaraguan NGO to educate the population about issues such as gender relations, domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. It's a simple but powerful concept: use a format (telenovela) that people will actually incorporate into their daily routines to start conversations about sensitive, mostly taboo topics.
I admire the show, but it hasn't yet gotten off the ground. More specifically, it has been a sort of a financial limbo for the last year. (What hasn't?)
In the meantime, I ended my work with Witness for Peace. I wrote an article about migration. I have to say I don't really love it; it was edited to death and conformed too closely to the WFP line of thought, which is muddled and not rigorous. Whoa, true confessions! After that, I spent a few months regrouping (very necessary). I also began doing some consulting work; short-term contracts doing translations and project work.
As I recall, and things are always different in hindsight (I'm kicking myself for not having kept a journal), it was a time of uncertainty. We started living in a small dysfunctional rooming house for solidarity workers. The people who ran it were Quakers; they were for the most part petty and unkind and made my life somewhat miserable. We stayed in a tiny makeshift room that had been built in the garage. The walls were concrete and it was stifling. We were next to a group of large dogs with personality disorders; they barked incessantly.
It wasn't a completely awful experience. We got free housing for six months, and got to meet new people (although many were high maintenance, what a bore). It gave us some relief from the urgency of making enough money to meet housing costs. I can't complain.
It was in this period that I fell into my newest career incarnation (too many in too few years, I think): teaching. It wasn't a complete turnaround. I had been teaching before, with Witness for Peace, but not in a classroom setting.
Three choice words to describe my first teaching experience: chaotic, grueling, heart breaking. The school was a private school and a mess: they had no structure of discipline, all curriculum followed textbooks page by page, and there was no consistency in any form of decision making across the board. Kids would fail many classes many years in a row with no support or consequences. I would begin class and students would continue talking as if I wasn't there. I would send a student to talk to the principal for throwing a chair (the only disciplinary resource available), and she would send them back immediately to imply that I was overreacting. The kids were the children of professionals, a pretty mixed bag; some filthy rich and snotty, but most were down to earth. They are kids and for the most part, blameless; it wasn't their fault every classroom was a war zone. I'm sure in the right environment, with limits, they wouldn't be disasters. It was the model for how not to run a school, which I guess taught me something.
I would come home every day drained and beaten down, often to have to attend to guests complaining about the heat, mosquitoes, or dust. Gustavo was perpetually frustrated; he was waiting to hear whether or not he was going to be in the show. And waiting. And waiting. I'd retreat into our hotbox and stare at the crumbling ceiling. Okay, I'm being dramatic. Needless to say, it wasn't our best time. But it was formative. I'm glad to have gone through it. It gives us something to look back on.
Now we're in a sunny, airy apartment with a balcony. I am teaching at a different school. It is a school that caters to the top 1% of the population, the oligarchy; the small group of families that control this country. Most of my students have live-in maids, many of which carry their backpacks for them, and drivers. Many of them have helicopters. They live in mansions and go to country clubs with membership dues in the tens of thousands of dollars. They have very little concept about some basic things beyond their bubble. I'm teaching social studies, and I actually love it: I love designing projects (they'll actually get into) and finding new ways to get them interested in learning. I want to surprise them and make them question some beliefs they have, but gradually and respectfully. Teaching is consuming. My social life has evaporated. I get up at 4:30 in the morning and spend every waking minute planning, evaluating, assessing, and brainstorming. Discipline isn't perfect, but I think it's as good as it gets--I'd say definitely calmer than my high school, for example. It's a good temporary solution. I am learning so much, and it's stretching me in good ways. I don't think I could teach forever. As much as it is stimulating and engaging, and as much as every day is different, I can't shake the feeling that I'm on a treadmill--everything revolves around a group of 12-year-olds. It makes me want something more. But I guess every job is like that.
I'm more confused than ever about the future. I don't know if I should go to grade school, look for jobs, stay here, leave. The series is still up in the air.
I don't know if I'll write in this blog again. We'll see.
If you've read this, leave me a comment!