Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Total Verbal Let-Down

The last concert I saw was in May of 2010, just a few months before I left for Tonga. When my friend Elizabeth told me The Punch Brothers would be in Lexington this month, I was all in. I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of bluegrass music, and since I plan on trying out the mandolin soon, I'd hoped it would be equal motivation as well as entertainment.

Entertainment would be light-years away from categorizing this experience. Concert doesn't even justify the caliber of talent these men expel when they play and sing. Though Chris Thile has the most leverage as far as stardom, the entire band was jaw-dropping. Each player (banjo, fiddle, bass, guitar, and of course Thile's mandolin) had his own solo in most of the songs, and the harmonies just made it more ridiculous. The speed and range of instruments and vocals...I was flabbergasted.

This was quite obvious when I got to meet the band afterwards for poster-signing. Whitney and Elizabeth shoved me in front of them because they were nervous and I was calm and tired. They're still people, I figured, so it doesn't really matter what I say. They're not going to remember me anyway--especially since their tour schedule has them packing up every day to go to a new town/state.

So Chris Thile signs first, then the bass player, who, as he's looking up at me, says, "Oh, I really like your pendant."

I was wearing a random, simple gold dangly chain with a two-part Japanese girl in a kimono. She looks geisha-ish. I'm not sure why I decided to buy it, but I like Japanese people and the colors were pretty. And I like buying strange things.

However, this made me feel very strange, as though I needed to accept the compliment while acknowledging the weirdness of wearing a little Japanese girl around my neck. So instead of a standard "thank you," I replied,
"Oh, thanks--I've been a little self-conscious about it because I was afraid it would make me look like a pedophile with an Asian fetish or something."

Calculating, awkward stare.

"Cause, you know, it's a little Asian gir....right. Well, thanks."
Luckily the guitarist saved me and said, "No, it really is cool. I like it."
I blushed, said thank you, and could only think about getting the hell out of dodge.
As we walked back to the car and the girls were all giddy and freaking out, was giving myself a serious mental going-over. Really, Jamie? Who would use "pedophile" and "fetish" in the same sentence while getting an autograph from probably the best bluegrass musicians in the world? That is beyond bizarre.

The girls said, "Well, at least they'll probably remember you! I'm like any other girl who just walked up and smiled and said 'thanks,' but now you'll be the pendant girl."

Of course, if they actually do remember me, I'm sure it'll involve adjectives such as "strange", "awkward", "Asian necklace" or "oddly chatty fetish girl." Honestly, how have I made it in public thus far? Someone give me a muzzle.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For the first time in about a month, I didn't have to work for two whole days. My past 3 work weeks have been:
Week 1: 50+
Week 2: 68 hours
Week 3: 55 hours

I've been tired and needing friends.
And to be honest, I've been in an odd, panicky state. I'm like the dog from "Up" (squirrel!) as I frantically dart between job searches, potential grad schools, and my slowly-progressing portfolio, which should be about 30 pages of creative nonfiction by the end of this fall.

So here are some things I've learned in this odd time of kaleidoscope emotions:
--Peppermint tums are WAY better than those fruit smoothie wannabes.
--Eating peppermint tums for breakfast makes me messed up.
--If you get an ulcer, you will die. Or you'll feel like it anyway.
--$8.25 an hour isn't worth dealing with misplaced anger issues.
--Sometimes, people just aren't nice.
--Sometimes, people are extremely nice and will bring you gravy and biscuits to work.
--If music were the only thing in church, I don't think I'd ever leave.
--Today, I listened to the best church music I'd ever heard. Piano, acoustic guitar, a violin, and a cello. No loudness, no screaming vocals, no theatrics. Just brilliant.
--When I become discontent with things, I want to move somewhere. Start new. I like doing that.
--I need to stop being a doormat. At least I'm an approachable one.
--I need to try out an older style of music.
--Sadly, coffee and I may have to part ways, or else my diet will consist mostly of peppermint tums. And Zantac. *Pouty face.*
--I miss working in a service-learning environment. I miss volunteering somewhere. When you're providing a service, people don't scream at you for making mistakes. People smile more often. They say thank you and mean it. I need that.

Living in this setting is wonderful, but sometimes I feel as though I were made for bucket baths and houses with no televisions. I need to find a mountain man with a lumberjack beard and have him build me a cabin in the woods. I like lumberjack beards, you know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Once Was a Warrior

Let me be honest, here. In Tonga, I never felt like I was saving the world or being a hero. I often felt as though my accomplishments were near-nil. Then there were times I felt Avengers-worthy heroic, like in these moments:
--The day I stood up to the First Lady of Tonga after she cussed me out. I told her to be nice and calm down.
--When I survived my horrendous bout of food poisoning. I didn't even cry the whole 7 hours I rid my body of corned beef and sketchy raw fish (probably for the best.) I did cry, however, when I talked to my mom the next day. There's something about a mom's voice when you're sick and far, far away. It totally doesn't take away from my bad-arse-ness, since I slowly walked to the nearest store (which was closed) to get my own Sprite. I looked deranged.
--The day of the Molokau Massacre. See blogpost for that one.
--Any time I killed cockroaches...with books, flip flops,and even my bare fist.
--When I killed Socrates. Haha. Lie. Even in his final fleeting moments, I still couldn't get within 5 feet of this bleeding, crawling rat. Total wimp day.

And that's where I am. I feel wimpy again. Not in a "ew gross!" girly way, but I am paranoid as hell. I've had nightmares about rats and molokaus, and I've woken up many times thinking a rat was crawling in the walls when, in fact, it was a limb scratching at my window. And once, it was hail.
I got out of the shower the other night, wrapped up tight in my towel since the basement is often an ice box, and I nearly bared myself to the world when a dried leaf suddenly morphed into a scary, 3-inch cockroach. I felt ridiculous.
Then yesterday, as I was playing the uke, I stifled a screech as a black mass appeared on my ceiling. It was a plastic hook that's been there forever.

I'm a mess. This, of course, is a very appealing characteristic to my sister and brother-in-law. Once, as Kelly had spilled the gooey blue laundry detergent in the basement floor, she said, "Jaaaaamie...I need help. Look at this!"

"Oh gah," I said, "It's a rat, isn't it?"

"WHat? No! Of course not. Just look." I slowly walked downstairs, waiting for Kelly to show me whatever the problem was. Before I saw the blueness spreading across the concrete, she said, "Watch out! Mouse!"
I screamed and grabbed her arm like a little girl.

Ronnie, her husband, has taken it upon himself to scare me at random intervals during the day--usually behind doors or at the most convenient moments, when I'm in Jamie-Land and unaware of the world. It's not really that necessary, though, since I've also sent myself into convulsions thinking a gecko was down my shirt (again) when, in fact, it was a tag. Really, Jamie.

I clean toilets at work, pick tiny bits of glass from my head, face, and chest due to working in the kiln room, and am confident in killing most insects.
Yet I'm a wimpy ninny haunted by rodents and centipedes on crack that have already perished at the mercy of my hand, foot, or, of course, rat poisoning.

I need to man up before I go adventuring again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Getting Out There

Well herro, pals. This is hardly a blog post, but I want to incorporate as much of my "fullness" as possible in this thing, so you are guinea pigs for music. I'm primarily doing covers, but nonetheless, I'd like to share a bit of myself. Of course uploading the video takes too long and I'm entirely too impatient for that, so here's the link on youtube. Feel free to comment, criticize, advise, yada-yada. I want to practice as much as possible, and I'm hoping this will be a gateway into overcoming a bit of stage fright!

Thank you much, and enjoy!


*ps: the strumming totally sucks at the beginning because I was trying to play louder, but it's just uncomfortable for me to do that. So I changed it. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Current environmental state:
--I'm in my bedroom at my sister's house in Louisville. It's a big comfy bed and I have four pillows. To my right is a GRE study book, my cell phone (yet to have voicemail, since I keep forgetting to make one of those.) I have a Cody McFadyen novel by my lamp, my notebook and a pen on one of my pillows, clothes in my floor, and hats, boots, and belts hanging on the closet door shoe-holder thing. I love sleeping with no mosquito net.
--A tissue box full but two weeks ago is now down to half its capacity due to my continuous Snotty McDroolface alias. I'm wondering how much blood coming out of your nose per blow is actually okay. This began on my flight back to LA.

Current state of affairs:
--I live with my sister and her fantastic family. It's fun to wake up in the morning to two adorable blonde nieces who throw down Cocoa Puffs in their cute onesie PJs and say, "Hi JJ!" Who knew I'd look forward to morning cartoons? (Unfortunately, it wasn't really my thing in my own childhood. Sad day, I know.)
--I have a job at a make/paint-your-own-art studio called The Artist in You. So far, I love it. I don't sit in front of a computer all day; instead, I greet customers, watch kids paint pottery, clean up after them, unload kilns, glaze stuff, make calls, la dee da. I even once pulled a small piece of glass out of my scalp! (Due to sanding down some sharp glaze.) It's really fun, to be honest.

--I've joined a gym. My sister is helping get my butt back in shape. My upper body strength is equivalent to that of my 4-year old niece who could pass for a two-year-old. My younger niece, Kendall, is definitely stronger than me.

--I went snowboarding for the first time last weekend. I'm pretty sure I bruised my tailbone. It was...fun? I enjoyed learning something new, and it was definitely awesome to learn from Kelly and Ronnie, but by the end I couldn't even pick myself up off the ground. In the last course, after crying once already, realizing my knee was three times its normal size, and being soaked through my shirts, I told my sister with weepy eyes, "I just want this to be ooooover." She was an all-star.
Luckily, my soreness has been replaced with that from the gym.
--I'm currently looking for a car. I'd hoped to just get a bike and use that as my be-all-end-all of transportation matters. But I've fallen into convenience mode rather quickly.

Current Entertainment
It's crazy how quickly I've developed a TV schedule. I've never watched so much TV in my life.
--Nightly Programming is as follows:
Monday: The Voice, followed by Smash
Tuesday: (formerly) Glee, American Idol, Parenthood
Wednesday: The Middle, Modern Family
Thursday: Awake, if I think it's as awesome as it looks
I also like to watch Big Bang and How I Met Your Mother whenever it comes on randomly. AND I'm catching up on Downton Abbey. It's fantastic.
Other entertainment forms include:
--Flipping my nieces onto the couch. It's really quite fun. They're like rag dolls.
--Lots of music, of course! I've even been asked to play/sing "Over the Rainbow" at a wedding this summer. Sah-weeet! I'm also planning on investing in a mandolin once my paychecks get to rollin' and I'm not as freaked out by loan and car payments.
--Watching my brother-in-law's saltwater fish tank. The coral reminds me of Tonga.

Well, friends, that's the update. Perhaps this sounds a bit like your own lives, which is why I've debated my motivations for keeping this blog. If I'm no longer int in third-world life anymore, will you still be interested?
Perhaps I'll have no more awkward encounters with men yelling "Hey baby," or of kids throwing sticks into my bicycle spokes, but I am in a new city, I have a new job, and am contemplating a strange haircut in the near future.
And, of course, I'll always have third world stories to tell.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nofo 'a, Tonga

It’s 12:20am and my bed is crawling with ants. My heat exhaustion and sunburn is making me so delirious I keep thinking my shadow is a scurrying rodent. I have two best friends sleeping in other bedrooms—hopefully soundly, since we’re all burned and exhausted from a long day—and I keep jumping the ropes of emotional double-dutch.
I’m quite sad because I have two days left to drink coconuts, pick a vibrant flower from a random bush on the side of the road and pluck it behind my ear, finish paperwork, pack up everything in my house, organize my baggage, and prolong the goodbyes to all my wonderful friends in Tonga.
I’m disappointed because after nearly 16 months of Peace Corps service, mine has been interrupted by the universe or fate or just crappy luck. I feel as though my service never actually took off—my expectations were always in the way, I suppose, but after this second site fell apart, I tried my absolute hardest to secure another site—a supportive one—but it, too, fell.
I’m encouraged by all my friends and staff in PC because they’re convinced that this is my merging lane into another opportunity waiting for me. My Baha’I tutor, a wonderful woman who has more wisdom than any other early-30’s female usually has, told me yesterday, “You know, Jamie, when I think of you, I think of a butterfly. You just float around, flower to flower, knowing when it’s time to move and grow in the universe. And you have beautiful wings.”
I’m excited about future pursuits and endeavors—thinking about student loans and life insurance is a bit more than I can handle, but having the freedom to maneuver as I please without dressing in an oven-like skirt and stifling my opinions on politics, government, and gender issues is this beautiful source of fresh air just waiting to be inhaled. Ohhhh, I can’t wait. I may even drive a car the day I get back. Well, maybe not. (Cars aren’t my thing.)
When I first left ‘Eua, where I lived and taught for 7 months, I became very self-critical, nearly convincing myself that because I switched to the capital with vegetables only minutes away and water that ran every day, I wasn’t a real volunteer and wouldn’t have a legitimate service.
*Lessons Learned:
--I am not a martyr, nor should any volunteer go into service ready to martyr him/herself. It was almost a pride-thing. I’d write home telling of how I survived three weeks without running water or swap scary stories with other volunteers about rats or centipedes on steroids (molokau).
--A fruitful life has nothing to do with where you think you should be, but the people you’re around; the relationships you build; the community you join. Though I developed a wonderful community within Peace Corps, I unfortunately just started building a solid one with amazing people before it got cut short with this Interrupted Service.
--Such is life. I convinced myself I was MEANT to be here, but clearly I’m not. The ticket is booked, my house is packed, my suitcases are nearly filled, and my head is full of plots. I’ve got ideas and plans on strobe-light-mode, so I’m easily overwhelmed, slightly nauseous, and inconsistent with emotional responses, but my effort into coping with this drastic change isn’t so bad.
Then again, it also helps that I’ll get to celebrate my 24th birthday with my wonderful family, and soon after, watch The Hunger Games in a real theatre. Ohhhh, Clean Life, I bequeath my arrival upon you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Look...I'm Not an Animation! (Merry Christmas, too)

Howdy folks! Couple things.
1. Sorry, I have ADD and can't seem to finish my next blog post.
2. I decided to make a Merry Christmas video and upload it onto here, BUT
3. Apparently the internet at the parentals' is just as shabby as Tonga...nearly.
4. So here's the youtube link for your Jamie dosage, only no animations.

Oh, wait. Here's one.


Kilisimasi Fiefia!