All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I'm sure she hates this picture which makes me really happy...

My friend, Erin. I knew coming into this there would be a lot of goodbyes and they have officially begun. My friend, Ryne left last week for Chicago. He has been here in Cahul since I got here and has always been the 'guiding force.' He's gone now. Doesn't feel real yet, just feels like he's on vacation. I miss his antagonistic ways.
Then I met Erin. She is everything that I'm not, girly, driven, she loves UNC, healthy, a fitness freak, stylish, I could go on...
She also happens to be ridiculously smart, self-aware, she has a great sense of humor about herself and she is way more mature at 22 than I will ever be at 40. She was here in Moldova on a Fulbright Scholarship teaching English at the local university. She speaks fluent Russian and is admired by all of her students as well as her friends. 
I don't know why we're friends, I guess because we're so damn opposite that we complement each other. She reminds me of my sister and I remind her of hers. I don't know how or why we bonded, all I know is that we did. So now she is moving on and moving to Nepal with her boyfriend, Dylan and together, not to mention being one of the most beautiful couples ever, they will change the world.
Last night, we all said goodbye. She invited her students and her close friends over for a final sendoff. I could tell by the looks on her students faces that she had made an impact. They spoke better English, their views of Americans had changed, their opinions about political and social influences had been altered, even if they hadn't been changed she had made them think, in essence you could tangibly see the difference she had made. She had left a trail of success behind her and that was inspiring. She is inspiring. 
Then the cab drove away. Maybe I'm being dramatic. It's the 21st century. We have Skype, we have facebook, we have 37 means of communication and by no means is this the last time we will see each other. But that time in our lives is over. That time where we could call and say meet me for dinner, or come watch a stupid movie, or I'm in a bad mood I need a milkshake, or randomly quoting Overboard, Love Actually and Steel Magnolias..all those times are over. And that is why I'm sad. I'm not stupid, she's not gone forever, but I am sad that this time is over. But incredibly grateful that I got 6 months with this beautiful person. Nepal is the lucky one now.
Erin and to Nepal.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 15th

A date that lives in least in my head. It's just after midnight here in Moldova so I guess technically that makes it my birthday.
Holly and I moved into a new apartment. We had planned on moving in on the 15th, which sucked but our landlady got wind of it and told us to move out on the 1st. That kind of screwed up our plans since the apartment we were taking from our friends Erin and Natasha wouldn't be available until they moved out on the 15th. Therefore, we've been living slumber party style for the sat two weeks. Even though I like my privacy, it's been kind of fun. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to having my own room again but that comes at the expense of Erin leaving and that makes me sad. Our new apartment is much better. Our old landlady was pretty mean to us and when we would tell the story no one seemed surprised. "That's Moldovans for you." But here's the thing, our new landlady is the greatest and she is also Moldovan. So it's not about bad Moldovans or good Moldovans, it's about good and bad people. They're everywhere.
Today was weird. Holly and I were woken up at 4am to the sounds of breaking glass. I mean it sounded like a Michael Jackson video outside with people smashing car windows or that the Lakers just won and there was a riot. However, when Holly looked out the window, there were 3 fire trucks. We saw smoke and realized that the building we were in was on fire. The funny thing was, neither of us panicked. Instead we kind of groaned at the fact that we had to change out of our pajamas. We exited the building and joined the crowd out in front. We were lucky to run into an English speaker we knew and she explained that a man with mental issues had been throwing his furniture out the window all night and had eventually set his apartment on fire. But let's hear it for Soviet Block cement structures as that was the only apartment with any damage. After a couple of hours of standing outside in the wee hours of the morning, the fire was put out and we could come back inside. A strange beginning to the day. But I guess we were lucky. I'm thinking it is a side effect of living in Los Angeles so long that we were not even the slightest bit alarmed. Just annoyed at the inconvenience.
But anyway, today is my birthday. A year ago, I had been in Moldova for a week and I barely knew the people around me. It was strange celebrating with strangers and yet I was so touched by their kindness in trying to give me a good birthday that it was oddly comforting. Now, a year later, they are my dearest friends and strangely, I won't see any of them today. Lindsay and Conrad are with their family in Turkey, Lyndsey R. is running a seminar with Michael. And my dear friend, JESSICA, who I neglected to mention last time just lives to far away. She thinks I don't care about her because I don't mention her in my blogs but how can I admit that? I don't want her to think I have a heart. But dammit if she hasn't become an important part of my life. Damn you, JESSICA!!!!!!! 
But I will be surrounded by my friends here in Cahul as well as my friend, John who is coming down to hang out. There has been no gas here in the city all week (that just happens sometimes during the summer) so we will have to go out to dinner instead of cooking which is always fine by me. Saturday, I think the plan is to have another barbecue by the lake which will be fun. 
It will be a day full of smiles. Even if my thoughts are with my sister and niece who are preparing to go on a Disney vacation with my nephew, aunt, uncle and a crapload of cousins, with my mom and Leroy who are still adjusting to a new house and worrying about everyone but themselves, my brother Bob who is finally enjoying success in the family restaurant that he was destined to run, thinking of my Uncle Bob who is desperately fighting a damn disease that has already taken too many of my family and to 2 years ago when i sat surrounded by my siblings at my dad's funeral as we pondered what was to come next. My head is filled with these thoughts but yet, here I am, in Eastern Europe celebrating yet another birthday, healthy, happy and satisfied with my new friends. Life does go on so I will celebrate another year in honor of those who won't get another one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

1 year

My training group 1 year ago at JFK. Conrad, Michael, Lyndsey R., Andrea,  Jamie, Christina, Me, Lindsay M. and Jen K. (aka Kitsy).
Yup, it's been a year. Can you believe it? In some ways I can, in some ways I can't. Just looking around, a year ago I didn't know these people existed and now they're my family. There have been definite highs and lows throughout the year and I can confidently say I have learned a lot. I'm pretty proud that I have made it this far as a lot have not. The new group of trainees arrived on Thursday. Seeing them walk off the bus, some scared, some exhausted, some over-confident, it was really enjoyable. And it was really fun to be on the other side of it. I remember when the 9 of us stuffed ourselves into a hot, poorly ventilated van and headed to our training village. Training was really tough and hot and exhausting but it was there that we all bonded and became a family. 7 out of the 9 of us are still here and going strong. 
Conrad and Lindsay - They are living in Chisinau and kicking asses at their jobs. They, like a lot of us, have had a tough go with their living situation and are finding a new apartment this summer. But these two will succeed no matter what they do.
Kitsy - Lives right outside of Chisinau in an affluent suburb and works at a government office. She is also involved with Peace Corps organizations in Chisinau.
Lyndsey R. - She probably lives in the most remote village out of all of us and struggles on a daily basis but NOBODY but her could handle it. She is one of the strongest people I know.
Andrea - She lives near Chisinau and was recently reunited with her fiance after a year. I know it rejuvenated her and she'll be able to power through her service without issue.
Michael - Recently relocated to Chisinau to begin work with a new organization. He's involved with a lot of outside projects that keep him busy.
And me - I'm still working with my organization but I have a feeling the summers around here slow way down. Which will give me more time to work on the new film with the boys so I'm really excited about that. I'm about to get involved with a big project with my best friends, John and Jeremy, that I think will be an amazing feat. More on that later...
So a year later, we're all a little smarter, a little skinnier, our hair is a lot longer and we have made friends with many Moldovans. We have traveled to a lot of countries, learned more language and have already begun saying goodbye to lifelong friends. 
It's been a crazy year but a successful one. Coming here was a big decision and I didn't know if it was the right one for a long time, but it was. I'm where I'm supposed to be. I hope the next year is just as satisfying as the first one.
New family of friends, a year later...Me, Dylan, Erin, Holly, Natasha, Maggie, Adam and Brad.