coming back to america: expected and unexpected

There are so many parts of reentry to America to talk about, and I’ve started to make two lists. Here’s what I have so far: Things that are really not surprising at all: Super Wal-Mart is super terrifying. For two years, I did grocery shopping the Armenian way. I chatted with shopkeepers, had coffee with my bakery ladies, and shook hands with the vegetable man. There were so many things I couldn’t find in Armenia like brown sugar, buffalo wings, or tostada shells. Still, after growing up on America’s industrial food system, it was actually thrilling to know I could…

what bearded people know

A Giutkokwwabipimooacf(*) recently threw the following into her friend’s facebook newsfeeds: “I would love for someone with a beard to tell me things about the world that only bearded people could know.” Well, as it turns out, I have recently become bearded.  Proof:   So as One With A Beard, here’s what I know: 1. Obviously, if you grow a beard you will look older.  Why? Because babies don’t grow beards.  Because the most famous beard is on Santa Claus, and he’s older than dirt.  Because we most often see beards on homeless people and grandpas.  Because Brad Pitt did…

knit-hate

I knit, right?  We’ve established this. And I know, I’d like to pretend that everywhere in the States this is standard, that we have arrived as a nation to a place where knitters can be knitters. But let’s be real, you see a dude flailing his needles and trailing a wad of string, and most anyone still has to suppress that urge to think him queer.  James Franco, can you just let some paparazzi snap you with your half-finished hand warmers?  It would do a lot for the XYers with a proclivity towards small time productivity.  And also for those…

loneliness, an unavoidable peace corps companion

I’m still sorting through pictures and thoughts about Turkey.  That post will come soon enough.  However, upon landing in my cottage a couple of days ago, my thoughts have moved quickly off of what feels like a dream of water-pipes, Ikea, cheesy bread, and Turkish hipsters. I’m home in Armenia, and after arriving here on Sunday, the first days of the week found me hosting Danelle, a new volunteer who arrived this summer and now works at a kindergarten and at a children’s NGO in a small town by the Georgian border.   We spent some time comparing our experiences which…

privolnoye

Another visit to a village.  Another incredible time with an incredible family which feels like some kind of gift I do not deserve.  But what to do but completely soak it in which, of course, is what I did. This time another PCV and I, plus a Latvian friend of mine from the European Volunteer Service, headed to Privolnoye up in the mountains near the Georgian border.  We met Ruzana, an ethnically Russian woman who returned to her village after a disheartening time trying to make a life in the capital city.  Ruzana runs a hugely successful children’s club which…