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If life were easy…

If life were easy everybody could do it.

This is a saying that I remember hearing as a kid and it recently hit me just how harsh of a saying it is. As much as I want to say it doesn’t, I must admit that there is some truth to it. Sometimes it feels like things are happening in life that are too good to be true and often that’s because they are. Nothing but good happens, the weather doesn’t affect the happy mood, and all is well. Then something bad hits. My host mother’s mother slipped on ice and broke her hip in three places and cannot get out of bed- just a few days before the snow and ice melted. Something happened to my partner teacher’s grand baby when she was born and now she is in the Moldovan equivalent to the NICU without a diagnosis and a low predicted chance of survival. My dad had a successful surgery but now isn’t sleeping. A teacher at my school who has been teaching chemistry for 50 years had an open lesson where many teachers from all over the area came to observe him and something went wrong with his experiment demonstration and many people started coughing and now people are saying he shouldn’t be allowed to teach. I was loving life int he village until someone took advantage of the fact that I don’t know much Romanian slang and apparently asked me a very inappropriate question and I gave a legitimate response thinking he said something else and someone overheard our conversation (or he overheard incorrectly but passed on the story anyways) and now people in the village are speaking about me in a negative fashion about something that is not true.
Life is hard. This is true. Accidents happen and people get hurt (physically and emotionally) but it is part of life. It is important to take it as it comes and focus on the good things not only as they happen but also afterwards. The good things happen to keep us going through the hard times… but often that is easier said than done.

"Photographing the world, longing for home"

Photographing the World, Longing for Home is the title of an interview I just read about Ed Kashi, who is a very well-known and talented photojournalist. If the title of the article wasn’t enough to catch my attention, the first image was, because it reminded me of Pavel’s funeral which we will be commemorating this Saturday (a year has passed already. Wow).

This interview and what Mr Kashi has gone through is one of the very reasons (among many others) I have decided against my schools project and why I wish to actually have my own place to call home and a consistent job. Contrary to his work versus mine is he was already an established and well-known photographer before he had his children. He was already fully immersed in his line of work and it was not something that would have been easy for him to just “give up” or “step back” from in order to raise his family. It seem to me it is all he knew so he couldn’t just stop. And he didn’t. While I am not “well-known” (or even known at all), I do not want to be put in a position where I have to give up my work in order to raise my family. My own family is something I anxiously await to have one day and I am the mother so I would not be able to leave pass on the growing baby in my stomach to my husband to hold on to while I cover a story (although wouldn’t that be nice?). I don’t want to miss my kids’ first baseball game (or any for that matter) or their first steps. I want to be there and I want a job that I know how to do well that can keep me at there. Some people may disagree with me and that’s totally fine. Obviously for others it works, but this is not what I want. Not for me.
Here are some quotes pulled from the interview that struck me:
  • My home life weighs on me more than ever. After doing it for so many years, you might think I would become inured. But in fact, I am even more sensitive and troubled by it. My kids are 14 and 17, and they are at the age when I am just realizing I have missed half their lives. It’s not yet goodbye. But they are in their own lives, and they don’t need me as much.
  • [Only being home part of the time] is all [my children] have known. I have literally missed half of their lives. In the last two years, I have been gone eight months each year. You can’t get these things back.
  • I spent more than half my life in hotel rooms alone. There is a loneliness with that, but when I come home, I sometimes feel even more lonely. Even though I am in their physical midst, it becomes so clear how I feel neglected. They are not asking any questions, it’s just like: “Oh, Dad’s home. Bye, I gotta go. I got a date,” or “I am gonna hang with friends,” or “I have a soccer game or a baseball game.”
  • It is very much a fear of ending up alone. And mortality.
  • [My] regret won’t be that [I] didn’t take one extra trip. The regret is that [I] took one too many trips. Or that I missed something.
Photography is something I love and it is something I am sure I will always love. But I need to think about what is important to me and what is important for my future. I can always travel and take my camera with me but, like Mr Kashi said, I can’t get back the time I would miss from being away from my family. In the terms of my current life, my family means my dad, sister, aunts, and uncles. Family is the most important thing I have on this planet and and I want to be able to spend more time with them.


Day 2 of awesomeness

Days like today are perfect and I would love it if they happened more frequently!

It’s a quarter to 8 at night and I just walked into my house and logged online (after making my bed, that is). I arrived at school earlier than I needed to because I woke up early, had my coffee (thanks Aunt Cathy!!), and was ready to go. Since I was early I was able to sit in the Director’s office and help some of the other teachers do some work in Excel and Word and taught them shortcuts to get their work done faster because these programs are rather new to them and most people chicken peck at the keys instead of aligning their fingers correctly so it takes forever to type… so shortcuts help! Then I taught 2nd grade the “Days of the Week” song before I headed out to catch the public transportation to our raion (county, kind of) where I signed the contract and took the modem because the internet should be here in the next 7 days! I then met my partner teacher there, had a coffee, and came home. However, I didn’t, in fact, come straight home. Instead I went to one of my student’s house’s and we celebrated her 16th birthday with cake, homemade food, and a small glass of champagne. The best part was our discussion. She is such a sweet and honest girl who just wants to do good things and she wants a future for herself. On the walk home the sun was setting but many people were outside beginning the spring chores and kids were playing. This is my favorite season because the village just comes alive and I can see it happening. Students ran up and gave me hugs, others introduced me to some of their family members, and some people told me hello (buna ziua, in Romanian) from their porches. When I got home, it was time for dinner and I once again had a rather silly conversation with my host dad. This time it was about Americans vs. the English and how American’s are English because we speak English and they established us first. No matter how much I tried to disagree or how many points I could give as to why I don’t agree, he wouldn’t budge on his opinion until I agreed with him. So, agree I did. That still wasn’t good enough because it wasn’t sincere! Oh boy. My host dad is too much… and then to top it off my host mom worked all day in the field and then made dinner so she was exhausted and the last thing she wanted to do was put up with his stubborn (but all-in-all good hearted) point of view. Now it’s almost 8 and I’m writing this while sitting in bed. My email, Facebook, and LinkedIn will soon be checked and hopefully I’ll be asleep before 10.
Not only is my village coming alive, but so am I. This feeling of being back in control of my life is something that words really cannot even describe. I feel liberated and at peace. My future is bright and I’m headed in the right direction!
*Edit* No wonder today is so great… it’s officially the first day of Spring. I’m pretty sure all of my stars are aligned… If you believe in that!

Trains

Trains are a great way to travel from one city to another. Sometimes they may take longer than driving a car, but often they are much cheaper, there is plenty of leg room, the seats are comfortable, it’s possible to sleep or do other work, or there’s the option of looking out the window and enjoying the passing scenery. I’ve taken long train rides many times in Europe but I haven’t taken a train in the States since I was a kid. My mom, sister, and I went from Kansas City to St. Louis to visit one of her friends. The trip seemed to take forever (I think it’s around 6 hours) but I remember looking out the window most of the trip, watching the changing scenery.

While visiting my dad in Albuquerque to help him with his knee surgery, one of the things I wanted to do was visit Santa Fe. I absolutely love turquoise and the style of Southwest jewelry so it was definitely a must. My dad’s girlfriend and I had planned to drive there (around 45 minutes to an hour) but at the last minute we decided to take the train- and I’m so glad we did. I hadn’t been in the SW since I was 11 and since arriving in Albuquerque two weeks before, I hadn’t gone much further than a 15-mile block all within the city, so this was a wonderful way to see some of the landscape (most of which is on an Indian reservation).
It was an overcast day that eventually led to snow, but it kind of added to the awe of the landscape.
(Note: when taking a train, it is important to be on time and to know the schedule after your intended time of departure because it is possible you may want to extend your stay… and in that case, pay attention to how the free transport gets from the bus station to the center because you may be running in the other direction trying not to miss your train. It’s not like we did any of the above or anything)
Here are some images from the trip:



What a day!

If most days were like today, I could teacher forever (or at least for a very long time).

Not only did most of the students listen, but they actively participated and they enjoyed the lessons. They were primarily quiet when they needed to be quiet, and spoke when they needed to speak. The best part is I was by myself and all of this happened. It was wonderful!
It probably helps that it is gorgeous outside. I have a cardigan on over my t-shirt and I wore jean shorts with tights and boots. No coat was necessary and I was even warm walking home. There are dry paths all the way from my house to school so tomorrow I may even be able to wear my new TOMS shoes! And when I got home I noticed the tulips are poking their heads through the wet soil.
OH what a gorgeous day!

My host parents

When I am the age of my host parents, I hope my husband and I are similar to them. Our dinner discussions can be SO funny, especially when my host dad is in a good mood. He can say the funniest things, and my strong-willed host mom has the best responses.

SPRING!

Moldova has turned my favorite season from summer to spring… and days like today are reasons why. My fingers are crossed we had our last snow of the year yesterday, as it was hovering above and below freezing which caused big, heavy snowflakes. My partner teacher told me there is a legend that goes like this: (taken from Wikipedia)

In Romanian mythology, Baba Dochia, or The Old Dokia, is a figure identified with the return of spring. She is sometimes imagined as “an old woman who insults the month of March when she goes out with a herd of sheep or goats.” Her name probably originates from the Byzantine calendar, which celebrates the 2nd century martyr-saint Eudokia of Heliopolis(Evdokia) on March 1. The Romanian Dokia personifies mankind’s impatience in waiting for the return of spring.

Baba Dochia has a son, called Dragomir or Dragobete, who is married. Dochia ill-treats her daughter-in-law by sending her to pick up berries in the forest at the end of February. God appears to the girl as an old man and helps her in her task. When Dochia sees the berries, she thinks that spring has come back and leaves for the mountains with her son and her goats. She is dressed with twelve lambskins, but it rains on the mountain and the skins get soaked and heavy. Dochia has to get rid of the skins and when frost comes she perishes from the cold with her goats. Her son freezes to death with a piece of ice in his mouth as he was playing the flute.

Another version of this story is that the son of Baba Dochia marries with a girl against her will. Angry with her son’s decision, she sends her daughter in law to wash some black wool in the river and tells her not to come back until the wool has turned white. The girls tries to wash it, but the wool would not change color. In despair and with her hands frozen from the cold water of the river, the girl starts crying, thinking that she would never be able to see her loved husband again. Then Jesus sees her from the sky and feels sorry for her, so he gives her a red flower telling her to wash the wool with that. As soon as she washes the wool as told by Jesus, it turns white so the girl happily returns home. When Baba Dochia hears about her story, she gets angry and thinks spring has come, since the man (who the girls had not recognized as being Jesus) was able to offer her a flower. She leaves for the mountains dressed in twelve coats. As the weather changes fast on the mountain, she starts throwing away her coats, one by one, until she is left with no coats. But as soon as she drops her last coat, the weather changes again and Baba Dochia is frozen on the mountain.

Today we don’t have any snowflakes (besides the remaining snow on the ground). The sun is shining and my host mom is even washing dishes outside. The only downfall of this year compared to last is we have mud up to our knees from all of that snow we had last month melting. I’ll happily take mud up to my knees and sunshine over cold weather though! Spring is just such a happy transition from the cold, long, and dark winter. In fact, I can’t even believe winter is over. It seemed to pass quickly this year but that’s probably because the end is near…

Why don’t you eat more?

Something my host dad loves to ask me is “Cate, why don’t you eat more?” Then he follows it with, “You don’t like the food. You don’t want to get fat.” This is something I will never be able to escape no matter how hard I try. Yesterday, in fact, I told him I didn’t like this game because I can never win. Then this morning after eating more than I should have or wanted to, he asked me the same thing. My response? No host dad, I do not like the food. And I do not want to get fat. His response? Oh. Ok. Good.


And that was that. Silly torment has ended! … for today, at least!

PS


If timing really were right, I’d be getting this dog (photography courtesy of Erin Drallos, who is a pet foster parent and also a photographer I have been following for years!)

Her caption under the photo on Facebook: Oh my hearts a melting…. I was about to take the puppy’s pic and my sweetest cat in the world Max walked up and rubbed on her. She is so good. She just stood there. She loves the attention all her foster brothers give her.

Timing of transitions

With one of my best friend’s recent engagements and my recent set of transitions (I’ll get to that), she told me, “Timing really is everything, Cate. If I had met my fiancé three months before or three months after I did, it probably wouldn’t have worked out”. And she’s right because timing really is everything. Sometimes people come into your life a certain time because they were meant to in order to lead you in a different direction, and sometimes they come at what you think is a bad time but it’s always for a reason.

While I was in New Mexico helping me dad, I literally felt a transition happen to me. Awhile ago I’d asked one of my friends who is a year younger than me if she actually feels like an adult now that she is working in a city where she didn’t know anyone before arriving there and is working at a “real job”. Her response was, “well, yea, I do” and it was just beyond me how she felt that way because I knew that I didn’t fell like an adult at all. In fact, I felt like I was one of the kids when I was supposed to be teaching them. I didn’t care much about what I was wearing or, quite honestly, how I acted in public situations (to a degree). But then something came over me and all of a sudden I felt different. I felt grown up. I felt like an adult. And I went shopping to reward myself in a store that has good quality clothes that will last a long time and are both business appropriate but can be casual at the same time. And you know what? I feel GREAT when wearing them. Then those “grown up” thoughts started taking over and I realized maybe this grand photo project idea isn’t the best idea after all. It is a HUGE project to take on, not to mention expensive, and I really don’t have experience in the field. What if I were to complete India and then start in Guatemala and for whatever reason it doesn’t work, or I never make it to Guatemala… then I’d be leaving the kids in India behind and I’d be breaking a promise I’d made to them. Sure, I can ask for funding but I would have to do that six times in order to get back to the countries I promised I’d visit, and that doesn’t pay for the new equipment I’d have to buy or the maintenance on it, or my insurance or anything. So, I realized it’s time for me to get a job. A real job. And you know what? I’m actually really looking forward to it and to learning something new. And having a place to call home. MY home. And a car. Oh, yes, I’m really looking forward to having a car again. Also while I was in the ABQ I entered into an antique store, where I came up with a GREAT idea for a side photo project that would keep photography a passion and a hobby instead of something that adds stress at times, and it keeps me meeting and talking to people, and it could even end up on your coffee table one day! Multiple win, if I do say so myself.
Now back to people coming into your life at the right (or wrong) time. On the flight from Albuquerque to Atlanta I was past tired. I’d kept myself up for most of the night except for a couple of hours so I could sleep on the overnight plane to Germany. I kind of forgot about the 3 hour flight and 4 hour layover I’d have before that… and couldn’t even stay awake through take-off. When we landed the man next to me asked me where I was headed and I told him back to Moldova for the Peace Corps, to which he responded he works with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows program at the University of Missouri. Hm. Close to home! Before I knew it, we’d been talking for two minutes and then I looked down the aisle and he’d disappeared in the sea of people I had to wait to pass because my bag was placed in a bin in the opposite direction. No sooner than I’d made it to my next gate and settled in and accessed the internet, I’d received an email from him apologizing for disappearing and also taking the time to tell me more about the program. Needless to say, I became intrigued at that point. Graduate school is only something I’d considered for a few days in the last 24 1/2 years of my life, so it was only expected that I’d turn my nose to the question when he’d originally asked my opinion on it. In the email, however, I started thinking more about it. Then looking into the program. Something that has concerned me lately in my job search is that I am not qualified for much… I have experience in teaching, photography, and babysitting. Well, truth be told, I don’t want to do that anymore (for a full-time career). Maybe graduate school is a great alternative… and it is something I am looking into.
So, with that begin said, it looks like I will be back in the States for good as of mid-August or the beginning of September. I’m looking for a job that will provide training (sit, stay, good girl!) and ideally in sales/PR/marketing/advertising. I’m open to locations, and open to many different opportunities! Graduate school still may be in my future, but at this point I’m going to wait until next fall so I have more time to research and take my tests and what-not.
Get ready, America! I’m putting on my grown-up clothes and attitude on life, and I’m ready to see what the world has to offer from the eyes of an adult!