Friday, December 25, 2009

Sugar Plums..or Lack Thereof

Merry Christmas!

You know you've got the fever when, Christmas Eve, you've got visions of Peace Corps dancing through your head instead of those rascally sugar plums...

Pretty unbelievable how quickly the time is suddenly passing. It's Christmas day. December, and the year, are nearly over. Our staging date, is poignantly set just as the new year is upon us. How fitting, another page of life is turned as I embark on to my next adventure. Hm, any ideas for resolutions? How about, enjoy being in one place for longer than a field season!! My life is a culmination of bits and pieces- I really have felt never fully in one place, always just settling in right as I find that it's time to leave. Twenty seven months I'll be in Guatemala. Seems like a long time but the more I think about it, it doesn't seem like long at all.

Each year that you add to your existence makes the next one a little shorter, a smaller fraction of the whole amount time you've been a conscious critter (at least this time around) on this earth of ours.

It's scary, if a year flies by this quickly at the age of twenty six, what will it feel like when I'm fifty..sixty? Nonetheless, if I make it for the entire term as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I just want to make sure to take it all in before it all slips through my fingers. Meanwhile I'm taking in my last bits of life here with my family before I go. I'm so use to leaving and I know they'll visit...I have these parents that like to take advantage of the fact that their daughter has found some fantastic parts of the U.S. and beyond to spend time in, one or both have made it to most of my remote wanderings.

So after we unwrapped our presents I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room and a literal tornado hit. Clothes, art supplies, toiletries, electronics, journals, books, 50% off Chacos (yes Peace Corps discount!!), host family gifts, all swirled about until somehow I managed to reign everything into my backpacking pack and my daypack. It weighed out to around 60lbs (their limit is 80lbs)..I still need to get a few things but nothing too massive. Anyways, this was my means to figure if I'm going to be able to carry everything and if I need to rethink what I'm bringing. With ten days left, this is the kind of thing that I get embarassing amounts of enjoyment out of. Not to mention that I am constantly making and revising packing lists in my head and have been for about two months now. It's an issue, I'm dealing with it.

Anyways, the time is creeping closer and I'm, so ready. The unknown is so enticing! I have ideas, sure, but the possibilities that await are what capture my imagination and fill me with excitement and anticipation. I have an empty journal that's just aching to be filled with all that is to come!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Girl Woodcarver

So I decided, in order to distract myself from that constant buzz in my head otherwise known as Guatemala, that I'd treat myself to a week-long class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. Among the choices that included knitting, enameling, woodturning, cooking and blacksmithing (to name a few), I chose woodcarving. I figured that, in addition to being wildly appealing to learn how to hand carve a figure out of wood, this would be a practical skill to learn and use in Guatemala since the tools required are few and portable as well! Who knows, maybe I could even have teach a woodcarving class in my community there in Guatemala!

Well, it turns out the class was a bit advanced (which I of course realized after I signed up) and required "recent woodcarving experience". Hm. They didn't mention how much experience though, so I was, technically, in luck! On my drive south, I took the Blue Ridge Parkway because who could resist rolling smoky mountain scenery? At one of the overlooks, I pulled over and sat with a knife and a piece of black walnut wood that I'd dug out of a dusty box out of the basement. The tools belonged to my Grandmother and I was pleased to be able to put them to use across generations along the family tree. So there I sat shyly scraping away flakes of the hardened wood. I got as far as roughing out a nose and eye depressions. There! Recent woodcarving experience: check and check!

No one even asked, but I definitely was the greenest one in class. I sat on my stool and looked to either side as older men and women silently pulled out their materials, unrolling a leather satchel with many thin long pockets, each revealing the sharpened head of a differently shaped tool- knives of all sizes, gouges and who even knows what the rest were. On my other side, a confident looking man pulled out this huge lazy susan with about three times as many tools as the first guy and not only that, he gets out this professional looking leather apron (not kidding) and special carving gloves and finger bootie to protect from gouging himself (I was way too cool for such things, no comment on the fact that I may have rushed to the bathroom cupping the result of a gloveless hand while carving). I took out my little knife and put it on the table in front of me, looked around and rummaged for another kind of knife that I didn't even know the purpose of and placed it next to the first. Looked around again while the others looked busy with actual tasks and took out my piece of walnut and poked at it til the teacher started with the introductions.

I must say, though, as shaky a beginning as it was and as uncertain I was at the idea of 7 hours of carving a day for 5 days straight (would I get bored? hate it?), the week was over in a flash and I was exhilerated with my new found love! And I produced some halfway decent results! But seriously, woodcarving is a beautiful thing. I seriously would find myself grinning in anticipation at the little face as it slowly emerged out of the basswood block in my hands. By the end of the week I completed a little full-bodied pudge of a santa and two heads of woodsy woodsmen with beards and fun hats and I felt like a whole different carver than that girl up on the, now that I've started, the possibilities are endless! Anyways, a great way to get my mind off of the wild anticipation for and obsession with Guatemala and, now that I'm home..holy crap I'm leaving in less than three weeeeeeeeeeeeks!!