Saturday, January 7, 2017

Amateur Traveler Podcast Feature!!

I was interviewed on this podcast talking about Georgia!

Amateur Traveler

Press about Amateur Traveler

Click below to listen, or you can listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts and it will come with pictures, ooh

Amateur Traveler Episode 541 - Travel to Republic of Georgia

Or listen and find a transcript on the Amateur Traveler website

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Today I Miss Virginia...

I fear I have made some bad decisions.
I am feeling anxious and trapped and social-media-fueled jealousy. I am antsy and restless and angry. At times spending my days immobile on the couch reading Peace Corps blogs and political books and watching wedding-themed reality shows and eating cake for breakfast went from cherished holiday relaxation to feelings of uselessness and depression.
Why do I feel like this? Well, I have been at home in Yorktown with my family for exactly 20 days now.
The first week I was finishing school work - not so bad.
The second week I was catching up with my sister and preparing for Christmas - not so bad.
Then Christmas (all four iterations) came and went, and now the New Year has come as well. I tried to maintain some holiday cheer until New Year's in the post-Soviet style, but compared to New Year in St. Petersburg, my feeble attempts at making Russian food and forcing my family to watch Soviet New Year's classic movies (Ирония судьбы, или С легким паром! for those who know it - it was subtitled!!) were pretty pathetic. 

For most of this semester, I was planning a winter break trip to Cuba with my sister. At the semi-last minute that trip fell apart. Then, for the past month or so, I tried to salvage my winter travel plans by finding scores of cheap flights to Caribbean beaches that were surprisingly poorly received by my family. Then, I held out hope for a road trip through some southern states, anchored on New Orleans, with my sister. That ended up not working out either.

So here I am. On the couch. 20 days into my self-inflicted cloistering with another 2 weeks to go. 
I haven't spent this much time with nothing to do and nowhere to go in 5 years.
I'm starting to go crazy.

I can blame many people and many circumstances, but in the end I made choices.

And there are some really good things that have come from staying here - quality time with my family (although Riyana has spent most of this time in her room), lots of great food, learning a lot from reading constantly, making a little progress on some projects I've been trying to get at for a while, and discovering some new podcasts on my daily dog walks. Generally, though, I am quite uncomfortable at this point. Jittery and snappy and having my "trapped" dreams again. Eating too much, sitting too much, staring too much...I am unproductive.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I have been reading a lot of Peace Corps blogs which made me want to write again myself. But, as you now know, I have nothing to write about...but plenty of drafts I never finished/published! So, here is a throwback to a day that I was actually craving Virginia. Helps me get a little perspective, I suppose...

Originally written June 26th

This weekend, I got the startling and emotionally confusing news that my security clearance has been approved, and I can begin my internship with the US embassy here in Tbilisi, Georgia.

I miss country music
I miss the wide open spaces, knowing that you can drive for hours on half empty rural roads
I miss having a car and being able to drive whenever I want, wherever I want
I miss pickup trucks
(wow this list is very focused on cars...)

I miss the Blue Ridge Mountains
I miss comfortable coffee shops with drip coffee
I miss Alderman library
I miss grits and good bagels and the farmer's market
I miss having a familiar list of places to go
I miss speaking English without thought or effort
I miss clean air, unmarred by the scent of cigarette smoke or car exhaust
I miss being able to go somewhere in public and be invisible
I miss central air conditioning
I miss being able to listen to Morning Edition when I wake up instead of at 2 pm


to those who would say:
"no one forced you to be in Georgia"
"you choose to leave the US"
"stop complaining, many people would love to be able to travel like you"


When I am in the US, I usually feel (well, the way I actually feel in real time - Jan 1, 2017)
bored, unchallenged, overly safe, trapped, relatively useless and unproductive. 

So, while there are many negative aspects to living abroad, and many challenges particular to the "second world," no life anywhere is perfect or undeserving of criticism. For me, though, spending last summer in Georgia was the best life I could work out for myself.

In June I missed Virginia. In January I miss movement and not-Virginia. The grass is always greener...