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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Willage and Thanksgiving

Well, it was yet another week of hardly working at school, and I feel awful about it. I will have had 6 classes, totaling only 5 hours of work. As I always like to do, I can rationalize this somewhat by arguing that Tuesday was a national holiday, Giorgoba, and I was out of town Tuesday. Nevertheless, I still feel bad about it, and people back home have got to be wondering what I do with the rest of my time. Now, let me indulge your curiosity and tell you about one of my best weeks in Georgia.

For Giorgoba (St. George’s Day), I went with my student, Tornike, to the willage he is from. As expected, willages in Georgia are much different from our rural towns in The States. I am sure every reader would expect this to be the case, and so did I; but my comical expectations were more than satisfied after spending two days there. One of the first things we did was grab a rooster and take it to the church to be sacrificed. The tradition is to walk around the church with the rooster while praying (some people make one circle, some are there for hours), and afterwards there are two choices: you can sacrifice the rooster or you can let it go free. Since we were having suphra later that day, we chose the former option, and it was an experience that would make the average American cringe. The killer stands on the rooster’s legs, uses a small, sharp knife to saw off its head, breaks off the legs by hand and lets it bleed out. I had a picture of the experience, but I realized it was pretty distasteful, so, no worries, you won’t be surprised by such a picture in one of my albums. It was an experience to say the least.

After the sacrifices were made, we hung out at their willage home while suphra was being prepared. It was pretty cool to be preparing an animal that was alive just hours ago, although it’s a lot of work. My favorite food in Georgia is mtsvade which is basically pork kobobs with onions and delicious sauce, and the best I have had in Georgia was there in the willage. Tornike’s father had some of his high school friends come over and join us for suphra (they brought their roosters too), and I was somewhat of a willage celebrity. The food was great and the people were so much fun. They were very impressed and excited that I know Georgian, and I communicated quite well with the family throughout the trip. I got to try homemade wine, vodka and cha-cha which was pretty cool too, although I was super scared it would make me go blind or something do to improper brewing.

After suphra, I went to Tornike’s friend’s house where he showed me his guns and we talked about rock music – turns out rural Georgia and rural America have a lot in common. The biggest difference was the hole-in-the-ground outhouse which I do have a picture of, but it is slightly graphic (I am warning you because it will likely be posted on facebook). I am not sure how or if they shower, but at least that is something I didn’t have to worry about. One of the coolest parts of the willage adventure was getting to see their school and talk to the kids learning English. The classes were only 4-8 people big, and they had only been learning English for 2 years unlike the city kids. I can’t imagine how different it would be to be placed at a school like this, but I definitely don’t think it would be all bad. I think we would have stayed for longer, but I needed to get back because I had to tutor Dato, so we loaded up some homemade alcohol and returned to civilization.

Tutoring has been going really well, and it is nice to supplement my income a little bit too. I can see definite progress in his English, and, for better or worse, it is the most positive aspect of my teaching experience here in Georgia. I accidentally lost my US Bank card, so I have no access to my money back home, but it hasn’t turned out to be a big deal. Even though I have only gotten the one paycheck, I have managed just fine between that and tutoring money. It is nice to be a country where a full meal and drinks doesn’t exceed $4. I am excited about being able to take money home even though I will have travelled all over the country and Armenia on top of that.

As if I wasn’t a big deal here already, I made national news last night! One of my friends, Phillip, called me up and asked if I wanted to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday back home, so I jumped at the opportunity and brought some friends with me. It turns out that a news crew had been following him around all day to do a story about Thanksgiving. So, they caught us all at the dinner table feasting American style for a two-minute spot on primetime news. I want to briefly mention that this is extra funny because there is a lot of political strife surrounding our program, and propaganda, like this story, is really quite common – gotta love being a part of it.

Tornike wanted me to come with him to Kakheti, the wine-region of Georgia, for the weekend, but I kind of need a weekend with just American friends. It takes a lot out of me to constantly operate in Georgian, but it is also fun to recognize my progress with the language. I think my Georgian has surpassed my German, but it has a long ways to go to catch up to my Spanish. Anyways, I digress. The trip to Kakheti should be fun because the ministry is paying for all transportation, food and entertainment, so I’m excited. Also, apparently some American football teams are being put together to play some time, and I am really excited about that; however, I hope we don’t have to play with Georgians because, outside of soccer, they are awful at every sport I have seen. Hopefully the ministry doesn’t fall through on those plans… we’ll see I guess.

I have just over 3 weeks left which is pretty crazy. Other than our trip to Armenia, which is still on, I don’t really have anything else I want to accomplish. I love being here, but I won’t be upset about going home either. I really hope to do some more travelling soon, but it is hard to say what that might be right now. At least I have friends in Ireland, England, Australia and South Africa that would all put me up and show me around. Hopefully I will be able to take them up on those offers sooner rather than later.

*Georgians cant pronounce village correctly, in case you hadn't picked that up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beautiful Churches, Mountains and Beards

Well working 8 hours in a week is even more luxurious than it sounds; however, boredom can definitely occur once you realize there are 160 other hours in your week. It was definitely the first week since I have been here that I have employed my “I will bring this in case I get bored” backups because I needed to. I watched the first season of lost, started reading the greatest literary work in Georgian history and actually took some pictures. I definitely feel blessed that I have not been really bored so far because I have heard horror stories of other teachers going crazy because they have nothing to do with their time. Being stationed in Tbilisi has been a blessing that I may never be able to fully appreciate.

The other huge advantage to being in Tbilisi is that I have loads of friends to spend time with. Twice during the week I met up with friends to grab coffee and talk. We Americans have certain hang out spots in Tbilisi as well, so it is always fun to meet up with some other teachers you didn’t expect to be there and catch up with them. Personally, I think we need to choose different locations, because Americans always seem to gravitate towards the expensive places that take advantage of their customers, but such is life. Regardless of my sentiments towards overpriced coffee, it is nice to have the option.

We are thinking about having a Thanksgiving party for ourselves because we are all sorely missing the holiday back home. We aren’t exactly sure how feasible it is to make all the seasonal foods, but I think we could throw together something pretty decent. I wish I was more of a real cook so I could actually manage something like this. I am hoping that we get something off the ground at least, because I could really go for some turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Shouldn’t be too hard right?

Three of us decided to go to Gazbegi, a mountain town that is close to the Russian border, for the weekend. It was an easy 3-hour ride up there that reminded me of scary mountain driving in the Rockies. Georgia is really quite scenic, however, and I find myself more enthralled in the beauty than fearful of it. We also met some other Americans on the marshutka ride up there that were teaching in Turkey, so that was cool. It was a little disheartening to hear that they are making 3x what we are; however, we are getting a 1-month holiday with our plane tickets paid for. It all works out in the end I guess, but I could use some extra money about now.

The coolest part of Gazbegi is this monastery on a mountain with an even bigger mountain behind it. The trek initially seemed pretty intimidating, but Lawrence and I were able to manage the 4-mile hike in about an hour and a half. This is the second overly-remote monastery I have visited, and the Georgian dedication to such things is absolutely intriguing. I have no idea how much work it must have been to get all the materials up to the mountain and then build this thing, but they did it. And these monasteries aren’t just old and abandoned; they are still used each and every day. Priests live on site and conduct daily services, one of which we got to see! Also, I must note that these guys spend their spare time growing amazing beards. Truly, only these beards can rival the beauty of the Gazbegi scenery, and every man in existence should be jealous of such ability.

We stayed in a really cool hostel/house place that was only $8 a person. Although there wasn’t hot water, the host’s amiable nature made up for it. We got really good local food, but, as I have said many times before, it is the exact same food we get everywhere we go in Georgia: cheesy bread, meat on a stick, meat dumplings, regular bread and sauce (I do love the sauce, haha). This town is so small that it doesn’t have a bar, so we grabbed a couple drinks and hung out in our hostel. I served as our tamada (which translates as king of the feast… I have probably already mentioned that, but it’s awesome to hear repeatedly), and we had great night. I especially loved the parts where Lawrence, a gay Irish man, explained Irish slang and the things he missed most: shopping, dressing up to go out and talking to his girlfriends. Maybe you had to be there, but, if you try really hard, I think you can conjure up a funny scene similar to the real thing.

In other cool news, we are planning a trip to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds pretty exciting. I am thinking about paying for Levan to come as well because he is half Armenian, and he has never been to the bordering country. It might not work out, but I offered up the prospect to him and he seemed pretty excited about it. It’s a little frustrating because I am already paying the family money and I take Levan out with me (I have spent like 50 Lari for him at restaurants and bars), but this might be the only time he gets to see Armenia! Anyways, we have two weeks before that trip, so we will see how that goes.

I will be home in less than a month, which I am really excited about. I love being here, but as I was explaining to Lawrence and James, I have a lot I care about at home. I am excited for the suphra I am going to have after Christmas some time, and it will be good to see my siblings and my girlfriend for the first time in 4 months. Travelling and such is good, but I think that real life is even better – though I know that the former improves your ability to appreciate the latter. I am excited to be home and share the more intimate details of my trip with everyone, and I hope all is well on your end. I will try to have another update soon and a bunch of pictures are about to go up on facebook should you be interested.
*That is the link to some of the pictures I have so far, hopefully there aren't too many problems getting it to work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Weekend in Batumi

Let me be the first one to tell you that Batumi, the beach region of Georgia, is awesome. It is a shame that it is November and cold because Batumi is designed as a sweet summer hang out location. There are tons of huge parks, large stretches of beach, dancing water fountains, fancy hotels and restaurants all in a pretty small town. My experience was made extra special because I went with one of my co-teachers and got the inside scoop. I made the right decision to go with native Georgians because it is always the non-touristy things that end up being the most interesting. This last weekend was no different, and I got to cross a couple must-do things off my list.

The coolest thing I got to do was attend a Georgian wedding reception. I feel partly guilty because the more I think about it, the more I want to be born, get married, have children and die in Georgian custom… The passion for life here is incredible, and I think that weddings are likely the best microcosm of that zest for life. A lot of the reception was pretty standard and comparable to an American one, but there were really cool differences as well. Also, I think I was a little spoiled because whoever’s family was throwing this reception had a TON of money because it was quite lavish.

One of the weird differences is that we sat down and started eating right away. The bride and groom had not yet arrived, and there we were chowing down on delicious food! I felt a little weird about this, but no one else seemed to mind very much, and I don’t need to be told twice to eat. Once the happy couple arrived, the crowd was introduced to the Tamada (the king of the suphra who is in charge of all the toasting). This guy did an insane amount of talking throughout the suphra, and, even though I thought I would love to be the tamada with all the attention, I didn’t envy his job because it is a ton of work. Also, he used an ornate horn to drink out of which I think is super cool – more on that horn later.

Round upon round of amazing food was delivered to the table. When we got there, there was absolutely no space for additional food, but this is not a problem in Georgia. After the 10 (yes, I counted) courses were brought, there were two levels of food on the table stacked on top of each other. We had everything from kabobs to stuffed mushrooms to venison to beef hearts to caviar. Everything was superb! We washed everything down with the traditional white wine, and that brings me to the funny part of the wedding.

The father of the bride was making rounds and someone at our table told him I was an American. He was absolutely ecstatic to discover that I was there, and so he did what any good host would do and brought me his giant drinking horn to toast with. So there I was in front of 300 people with a huge horn full of wine, and I then did what any good American would do and downed it in style, after paying my respects to the bride and groom, of course. The crowd went wild and I loved it, no surprise there. It was a really cool experience, and I think I want a drinking horn at my wedding.

The other really cool part of the wedding was the dancing. The wedding party (excluding the bride and groom) prepared a special dance to perform, and it was intense. Now that I think about it, it was mostly guys doing the dancing, funny considering it is the other way around at American weddings. The groom also had a special solo dance prepared which he performed after a special toast. Oh, and all the music was played by a live ensemble in the balcony, and a nationally famous men’s choir, Batumi, did the singing. High quality stuff for sure.

I couldn’t speak English all weekend, but my Georgian allowed me to understand what was going on and have a great time. It is cool to be functional in three different languages, and I hope to add more over time. The family I stayed with was really cool, and I didn’t pay a single tetri (cent) for anything all weekend. Even though I have to subsidize my family with money, I find that Georgian hospitality makes up for whatever small amount I am dishing out elsewhere.

As if my weekend wasn’t good enough, my teachers told me that I didn’t have to go to class on Tuesday because they wanted me to rest and recover. So, I had a five-day weekend, and after seeing my schedule today, I realized that I will be working a whopping 8 hours this week. Why am I here!? Well, I came to have a great time in another country, so.. great success! Haha

Friday, November 12, 2010

Suphra, Drunken Americans and Cool Things in Georgia

Alright, well I am sorry I havent posted in like a week, but there hasn't really been a good time for it. My weekend turned out to be just as good as I thought it would be, and I find it exciting that I am not burning out or getting tired of this place. But, there are negative things as well like not having electricity or water all week. It's amazing how much one relies on those things.

I had a ton of suphra over the weekend, and it was great to feel full. I think I am going to start cooking for myself at my house because I can't go on with this hunger! At least I have good friends and other families to dine with. My favorite meal was suphra with my student, Tornike. He is in the 11th grade and he is one cool dude. His family basically prepared a feast in my honor, and we toasted and ate all night. His parents were super cool, and I am actually planning on going back to his house tonight because it is his birthday today. So much good food! Last Saturday we went to David Gareji which is this really cool monastery that also has a bunch of meditation caves really close by. This place was beautiful, and it is easily one of the coolest things I have ever seen. So much work went into making these caves holy places, and it boggles my mind how many different dwellings there were. The scenery was also gorgeous, and I got to step foot into Azerbaijan (it's funny actually because the Azerbaijan side was way more beautiful than the Georgian side). We have some cool pictures, so I will have those available on facebook soon. Finally, on Sunday I went to my friend Jess' house and part of her family offered to adopt me so I didnt have to live with poor Armenians. As cool of an offer as it was, I really can't take them up on it because I love my school, and the commute would be well over an hour if I switched homes. It is tempting though because her family is super loaded, and I wouldn't have to worry about food anymore. Also, the people who offered to take me in are doctors, so that is cool as well. Anyways, it is a cool option, and if I come back in the Spring some time, then maybe I will be able to make something happen with that.

School went well this week, and I have a pretty funny story actually. So there is one young, attractive teacher at my school... She maintains the computer lab, so I dont know if that is really considered teaching, but I see her a lot because she turns on the computer/internet for me and stuff. Well these government inspection dudes came to the school to see that everything was in working order, and it is a pretty stressful time for everyone I guess. Well it just so happened that the internet was not working this day, and that did not bode well for Nino, the teacher. Our principal basically told the following: "You have one job to do, and it is barely a job. And the one day it actually matters, you can't do it." So, she was in tears, and she even got another lecture from the principal later in the day. The internet thing was totally not her fault, and I felt so bad for her. It sucks because I wanted to console her or something, but I can't speak Georgian well enough to manage that. So, naturally, I dug a hole. I decided it would be a good idea to buy her flowers, becuse, surely, flowers are a universal language. I even asked my co-teachers if this was kosher, and they said it was all a great idea. Well I go buy the flowers and go to the computer room to deliver them and everything falls apart. There is only one class a day in the computer room, and I just happened to pick this one class period to make a scene. So, in front of a class of 8th graders I awkward go up to Nino and give her these flowers. I then realize I don't know how to say "I'm sorry you had a bad day, and it isn't your fault." Actually, nothing is coming to my mind at all, so I just give her the flowers, say I'm sorry and walk away completely red-faced. God, it was embarassing, and I wish people could have seen it because it was so, so, so awkward. I asked one of the teachers to explain everything to her, and nothing ended up being awkward the rest of the week. Everything is ok in that regard, but I get embarassed even talking about the story.

I had to deal with a drunken, American asshole last night. This dude is a total tool, and all he wants to do is get wasted drunk and have sex with anything that walks. He skips school all the time, and I think he is hoping he gets kicked out of the program. We went to a bar last night and he was completely drunk and making remarks like "women are weak, that is why I fuck them." I was livid and about to kick his ass right there, I really was. I hate this dude, and all of the other teachers knew I was about to lose it. He ended up getting way too drunk, and he couldn't even walk. As much as I hate the dude, I was worried about him getting home safe, and I knew he would be a complete embarassment to America if people saw him stumbling the streets like this. I decided to take him home even though it was way out of the way for me. I don't know what gave me the moral fortitude, but I did it, and he got home safely. I know he wont even remember the night, but, in the end, I didn't do it for him anyways, so what do I care. It's nice to feel like a good person, though, and I would do it again. I also paid for my friend's birthday dinner last night too, so everyone shoud be proud of me!

I am planning on going to Batumi, the beach region this weekend with one of my teachers (not Nino, haha). They are paying for me too which is really cool. No one will speak English, so we will see how that goes; however, I have faith in my basic Georgian, so all should be well. I will let everyone know how that goes as soon as possible. Hopefully I will have internet when I get back that way I can do all the things I need to do like the blog and my fantasy football teams. This week is my half-way mark... I hope the second half is even better than the first.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thai Food and Manual Labor

More and more of my life is moving away from school itself which is sad because that is the reason I am here in the first place. I find myself making plans that take up all of my day every day, and this leaves little time for creative lesson planning. To be honest, I need to put a little more effort into that aspect of teaching, but it is difficult because I have been given such a background role in the classroom that it almost feels like it isn’t my place to do such things. I mean I think that my presence is beneficial, for sure, but it is a little disheartening to know that I could be doing more. On the plus side, I spend a lot of time with my students outside the classroom, and I know that this is great for their English. I know a lot of the other teachers do not do such things, so perhaps I am filling a little of the teaching void with extracurricular focus. Nevertheless, I love my school, my co-teachers and my students – I just want to give them my best.

I think part of the reason I feel slightly underused is that I am only working 12-15 hours a week. When I put that on paper it really sounds awful because thousands of dollars have been paid to bring me here and be in the classroom. This really isn’t my fault though because I just happen to be placed at a really small school, so there are simply fewer lessons to teach. Some of the other American teachers have to turn away classes and teachers altogether because they simply can’t satisfy everyone. I work with all the teachers and grade levels (that are learning English: 4-12), and it is rewarding to walk the halls and recognize everyone from class. The cool thing about working so little is that I am able to do more outside the classroom, and I planning on taking on a couple additional students to tutor (no charge) besides the ambassador’s son. I am excited about this, but I need to tread carefully because Georgian English teachers often rely on tutoring to supplement their income and I don’t want to hurt my co-teachers.

On top of school and tutoring, I have really been doing a lot. I went to get Thai food last night which was nice. I asked for the spiciest rendition of the dishes I ordered. I was expecting to be blown away because doing this at a Thai restaurant can be dangerous; however, it was only fairly spicy, but it satisfied my need for an exciting taste… Georgian food is getting a little bland. What sucked was that the portion sizes were way too small so I ended up getting another dish. Part of this is that I am not getting fed at home, so I am absolutely starving all the time, but, honestly, I don’t think I’ll go again because the small plate wasn’t worth the price. I also have been playing a lot of soccer and I am getting pretty good! The bad thing is that this dirties my clothes quickly, and I am only supposed to do a load every 2 weeks; also, I can only shower every 3 days, so I have to sponge bathe afterwards. But such is life in Georgia.

I have decided that America is, in fact, the best country in the world, albeit my sample size is only 3 countries (The Republic of Georgia and Peru). We supply much of the world with music, entertainment and hope. I know that I would not get the same sentiments if I were in a major country, but people here love America. Everyone wants to live in New York, learn English and live the dream. As much as I love travel and other cultures, there is no doubt in my mind that I want to have my life in America. We follow traffic laws, we have foods from around the world, we have beautiful women of all races, we have easy access to the arts and entertainment, and Americans love America – this optimism and confidence is beautiful because many people in the world simply do not like where they come from. I am not in a rush to get home or anything, but I am simply proud to be an American.

I hope you all have boring, awful weekend plans so it will be even more painful when you read how exciting mine are. I am having a suphra tonight at my friend James’ house, and then I am going to a student’s house to do the same (back to back baby!). On Saturday, I am going on a day-trip to Southern Georgia where there are these really old, cool monasteries. This is my first time travelling around the country, so I am stoked about that! I will take some pictures and post them asap. When we get back, I am going to meet up with Tata and her friends to go to a German bar and listen to live rock music. Then, on Sunday, I am going to get a haircut (exciting right?) and go to my friend Jessica’s house to Suphra with her entire family. I have really been playing up the fact that my family doesn’t feed me, so I plan on milking these invites for everything they are worth. So far, my plan has been effective, and I am excited to let everyone know how much fun I had eating, drinking and singing with Georgian families.

Oh yeah, a random rant about my family. I love them and they are great people, but I sort of got the shaft. Yesterday, my host mom told me in really bad English that she wanted to go “walk” and I was cool with that because I had a few hours before I was heading out. It turns out she wanted me to go “work” and do some yard work. If it was weeding or something, I really wouldn’t mind, but they are totally re-landscaping their shared yard area. She handed me a pick and set me to work on breaking up and removing an old concrete slab. That is seriously hard work man, and I couldn’t believe the family that I am paying 100 Lari a month for and receiving less than one meal a day from would have me do this. I don’t think I have ever said no to anyone if they asked me to do something, and I realize that I should probably refuse to do such manual labor; however, I did it, and I think I will be asked to do more in the future. I guess those free suphras with other families are coming at a price… haha

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Swing of Things

I think I can finally say I have established a solid routine. It should come as no surprise that I may be spreading myself thin, but I would have it no other way. At home, I often feel like a drifter because I am always promising myself elsewhere; in Georgia, my life is no different. As I mentioned last week, I have taken on tutoring the ambassador’s son for ~10 hours a week, which is awesome. I also find myself spending increasing amounts of time with Tata and her family (my host cousins). Interestingly, I also spend time with the Seventh Day Adventist missionaries that live right by my house. And finally, I try to go out with the other American teachers a couple times a week as well. Mix all of that in with trying to plan excursions with my students and co-teachers and I have quite a busy schedule (not to mention the excessive time spent in-transit).

School continues to be fun and successful (which is good given that is the reason I am here), and I enjoy working no more than 20 hours a week. I am still popular among the students which, of course, I enjoy, but I think the girls are no longer so enamored by my American charm. I hope to play some football with the boys this week, but I don’t know if I will be able to because it has gotten quite chilly. Overall, I love my school, my co-teachers and my students, and I am fully aware that I am lucky to have a wonderful situation.

I have come to realize that people love complaining, and some of the TLG teachers can’t help but bitch about their situation. I think that there is always something negative in life to rant about, and I can’t figure out why people invest so much of themselves in this pessimism. People complain far too much about the gender roles, small cultural differences, animal treatment, personal hygiene and numerous other typical, life issues. I would hate for Georgians to think of us as spoiled, pompous brats, but perhaps that is far too often the case. Whatever… I am doing my best to be a kargi bitchi (good boy) and represent Americans well, so take pride in knowing that much.

I haven’t updated the blog in a while, so I feet like delving into a couple of my experiences here in Georgia and relating them to my lifestyle. I truly hate indulging humanity’s narcissism by blogging, but I am who I am and maybe someone wants to read about it (I am stoked about getting to 1000 views. Although I thought people stopped reading completely because no one bothers to comment anymore.) The first experience, tutoring Dato, the Ambassador’s son, fell into my lap, and I am very lucky to be doing it. Although I am only making $30/week, I get to experience true Georgian hospitality and spend time with people that love knowledge, culture and life. They always feed me whether or not I am hungry, have dinner plans or try to refuse (which is nice because I think my host family has basically stopped making me food). Although I can’t help but think they just want to extend the English lesson and keep me there longer, I truly feel wanted in their home. The ambassador recently showed me his music collection (which contained every Abba production of all time, 80’s rock, classic opera, national Georgian music and far, far more), talked to me about international cinema and explained to me his zest for life, love and culture. I know that we have cultured Americans, but it is amazing how much we are consumed with ourselves. This is true in politics, cinema, language, sports, and even travel (only 4% of Americans have a passport). I love America, and I love it even more after travelling some and seeing the world; however, I want my family, both present and future, to appreciate the beauty the world offers. I don’t know… that is just how I feel, haha.

That actually creates a nice segue to my next topic: Tata’s family. These people are crazy awesome, and I learn so much about life and happiness every time I am there. The love of music in that family is so deep and wonderful. Whether they are playing music together, randomly bursting into song or playing/singing themselves, there is constantly some sort of musical expression. I grew up in a family that has a very practical, pragmatic and analytical train of thought. While I will always be this way and I greatly value the work ethic and perspective my family has instilled, I have come to value and respect music and the lifestyle they live. Sure, pragmatism and the arts can exist together, but I am just saying they don’t and shouldn’t always go hand-in-hand. I think my analytical thought process causes me to be constantly worried about my public perception and trying to avoid shame if at all possible. Now I know my friends will say that I often fail miserably at such endeavors, but I hate embarrassing myself and shame is a powerful factor in my life. The musical lifestyle at Tata’s allows unique individual expression that removes this fear, and I am jealous. Many people are surely aware of this phenomenon already, but it is something that I happened to realize for myself here in Georgia.

In other news, I was not admitted to UMKC medical school, but placed on the alternate list instead. That was sucky news, so I will have to figure out my plan for that. I still might get in, but who knows? Also, I am sick and have been for a couple days, but it is only a cold and I hope to be over it soon. We also got paid this week which was nice. It is cool to do something like this and actually come out making money. And I might be doing some travelling around Georgia here soon, but nothing has been decided as of yet. I feel like I have been here forever, but it has only been 1 month. I still have 2 more to go! They’ll be good. I am sure of it. I have been tagged in some pictures on facebook if you want to do some stalking. Hopefully I will have my computer up and running this week, and then I can upload some pictures of my own. Get excited for that.

I miss you guys back home. I hope you are having as much fun as I am, but I doubt you are.