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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving with the locals.

We held a Thanksgiving dinner for all of the volunteers in the South and their Moldovan counterparts. We had a total of 47 guests. Cooking a meal for that many people isn't easy, but we succeeded. The turkey was raised in the neighboring village of Brinza. We killed it, plucked it, gutted it, cleaned it and cooked it. It was primal...and awesome. Holly, Jesse and I had the most guests mostly because it was held here in Cahul and we invited all of our Moldovan friends and their families. But in total we had 14 Peace Corps volunteers and 2 local Fulbright scholars. I'm still pissed I didn't get any pumpkin pie, but whatever. Peace and friendship...

Our friends Vica and Natasha.

The crowd awaits.

Jesse carves the turkey. RIP, Leonard II...

Some of the spread.

Gicu, a local student who not only got us the turkey, but helped us prepare the entire meal.

The Moldovans dig in. Most of the foods they have never heard of or seen. All were labeled with descriptions in Romanian and Russian. We had to hand out the recipe many times for stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Me, Holly and Jesse.

Me and my best friend, Sasha.

Jesse posing with Sasha and his family.

The full group of Americans.
Front - Victoria, Kim, Maggie, Bethany, Rachel, Liz, Tom, Ross and Frances.
Back - Holly, Jesse, Sylvia, Kelly, John, Gene and Me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One last T-Day in the former Soviet Union...

I don't think it's any secret that the last few months have been challenging. And here we are at the day of thanks as celebrated by the U.S.A. In trying to explain the holiday of Thanksgiving, I have learned it is not easy to tell people why we celebrate it since the origins are sketchy at best. But instead of delving into the horrors of the origins, I choose instead to just find things to be thankful for, here is what I came up with:

  • I have a roof over my head, a nice apartment, a great roommate and indoor plumbing.
  • I have survived 2/3 of my service and only have 9 months to go.
  • I can read Russian.
  • My 15 year old niece is my best friend.
  • I have said goodbye to way too many friends in the past few months, but as Winnie the Pooh said "I am blessed to have something so special that makes saying goodbye so hard."
  • The Walking Dead
  • After being gone for nearly 2 years, the gang at Too Faced still care enough to not only keep me in their thoughts and hearts but also still send me things from home that only they know I miss.
  • That my family took the time to learn how to use Skype just so they can talk to me. I know it isn't their preferred method of communication but they figured it out...that's love.
  • Learning to make food from scratch. Definitely proves just how lazy we have become when it really isn't that difficult and is SO much better.
  • I have been in 8 different countries this year, some of which I probably never would have even looked up on a map if I weren't here. (Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, France and the UK)
  • Comedians on Twitter. 
  • Best CA, in PA, in NY, in NC, in family, in Moldova, in France, they're freaking everywhere.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day and we will have a small gathering to celebrate the day (if we get paid that is...otherwise it's bread...lots of bread) Saturday we will be making dinner for 15 volunteers and about 40 Moldovan to once again teach them about this uniquely American holiday. And thus, the holiday season begins. Makes me start to wonder, where will I be next year at this time? (Oh God...please don't ask me...)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jenny from the Eastern Bloc

I can't comment too much on politics per regulations, but I will just say, watching the election from outside the US is pretty eye opening. The results started coming in here around 2:00am. I stayed awake all night with my roommate, Holly and our friend, Maryam. They were a little delirious...

But we made it through the night and at around 6:15 we heard the news. Around 8:30 we heard the speech and we were asleep by 9. Interesting night. But a very pleasing one. I pulled up the FOX News site because that was the one that was most pleasing to see. Love you, Todd. :))))))

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What good is sitting alone in your room...

I am a theater person. Have been since I was a wee child since my Mom first put me on the stage. I love everything about it. But, as with everything, there are pros and cons.


  • Growing up learning life lessons from movie musicals.
  • Finding strange people just like yourself to relate to.
  • When math and science don't make sense, finding something that actually does.
  • As an actor, transforming into someone completely different to forget reality for a few hours.
  • As an audience member, losing yourself in someone else's story.
  • As a director, watching scared auditioners turn into superstars 6 weeks later.
  • Becoming skilled at poker faces when you can't react in the moment to strange situations.
  • The ability to completely tune out of situations by going somewhere else in your brain.
  • The exhilaration of curtain calls whether your bowing or applauding.
  • Finding generic things to comment on when you've witnessed people you love in horrid productions.
  • When listening to music, staging it in your head.
  • Noticing artistic elements of stage and movies that are tribute to connoisseurs. I can often be found saying "oh NIIIICE back-lighting, there."
I could go on and on about the pros of having an artistic background and majoring in theatre in college and loving music and dance and being truly grateful that I grew up in an artistic family yada yada yada.
Only recently, have I noticed the cons of being this type of personality. Through a series of very strange events, I have noticed just how much I plan events in my mind. I tend to 'stage' different scenarios or rehearse reactions so that I am prepared for what may come at me. I'm sure it stems from my 'control-freak' problem that I want to be prepared for any possible outcome. The problem is, here in Moldova, and probably mostly everywhere, it's pretty rare that you can predict an outcome or more to the point, predict others actions or reactions. To top all that off, I can't be as eloquent with my words in Russian so even though in my head I sound like Jon Stewart sounding off against Fox and Friends, I wind up sounding like a 4 year old trying to negotiate an extra cookie. It's exhausting. And I am always disappointed, rarely pleasantly surprised. Because I have inadvertently created a series of un-meetable expectations and unless I have an untapped psychic ability, it just isn't going to happen. It's so easy to say 'relax...whatever will be will be' and yet in the moment, you really want to be prepared. I want to have to cool one liner that is delivered like in a perfect theatrical moment that leaves the audience oohing and aahing. But, I can't. Because I'm not living off an Aaron Sorkin script here, unfortunately, I am stuck in reality. I'm in a constant state of improv, every actor's nightmare. I stopped being an actor in the late 90's and transformed into a director. Every director is a control freak, they have to be to get anything done. And that somehow transfers into real life. I'm not sure when it happened, but it did. I went from being an easy going actor into an OCD riddled control freak. Life here is anything but in control. There is an entire gamut of emotions in play every single day and it is emotionally exhausting. 
And now I'm caught in the middle of a long stream of consciousness about diagnosing this do I get out of it? The condition and the stream? These are just late night revelations that come to me as I can't sleep. Things I do know? I miss my family and hope they're all okay during this crappy storm that has hit the Eastern seaborne. And even though some of my friends here have really disappointed me here in the last week or so, I am truly grateful for the lessons I have learned. They are certainly ones I will never forget.