Saturday, October 10, 2009

Contemplating in a Cold Flat

It has been a day full of learning how to do a new knitting technique because my sweater vest is too short. As I sit here ripping out, catching stitches, and fixing dropped ones, a few thoughts have been passing through my mind:

I wonder how much cell phones cost in the USA. I never had one stateside except when my mother gave me one for a few months since I was in Alabama before moving to Africa. I would have never had one in Africa or in China except a friend gave me one. That friend sure does supply me with a lot of electronics that I would never bought for myself: ipod, laptop, digital camera, wolverine, Solaris. (I had a cheap film camera that I left behind when I evacuated out of Guinea. That was a stupid idea not bringing a digital camera to Africa, but I was trying to be frugal and not a target for thieves.)

I wonder if knitting is like meditating. I am reading eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has kind of inspired me to start meditating again. I wonder if trying to meditate will be easy or a challenge. Is knitting a type of meditation that will make sitting for 20-30 minutes observing my breath easier?

I wonder if Peace Corps would pay for a month home leave if I decided to stay one more year in China and do a fourth year. I have already had one month home leave for the third year transfer to China. I really want to come home and know sort of that it is important to maybe start making money, but there are times when I feel like WOW, I am really part of this community.

One more thought:

One of the biggest pieces of advice veteran volunteers give newbies is "Leave your house, flat, or compound at least once a day. Do not hole up there!"

In Africa, I found this to be easy. There were places to explore, cooler trees to sit under, tea to drink, and well the compound can get awfully boring with only books, music, paper and chores to entertain you with.

I do remember one time sitting at my desk in Guinea debating whether or not to go buy some freshly killed cow. I was a newbie scared to bargain, scared of not knowing how to choose which part and how much of the cow to point to, scared to look like a rich foreigner who can afford meat. When I finally got the nerve, the meat was all gone.

In China, holing up in one's apartment is kind of easy. Outside is cold and rainy. Inside is warm and full of electronic stimuli. As a veteran, I don't hole up in my flat, but it sure does seem like I spend a lot of time in there.

Today I had a Chinese lesson, judged a speech competition, ate in the cafeteria, and had a tea party with some students, American cookies with Chinese tea. I think in China because I have electricity the days are just longer and one has plenty of time to step out of the flat as well as spend a lot of time in the flat. Last night I didn't go to bed until 3 am.

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