Rough New Prizes

"Listen! I will be honest with you. I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but I offer rough new prizes." -Walt Whitman Marriage. Peace Corps. Asia. Grad School. Yes, I seek the Rough New Prizes.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Three Years Later

My last blog post was March 2006. Now it is the same month, only three years later. The interim has consisted getting married, heading to China, teaching English, and coming home to attend grad school in New Jersey. I am not going to rehash all that happened over these three years. Suffice it to say that I have had adventures. Some might say I have changed, but actually I believe the experiences have just enhanced who I already was. I have received some of those "Rough New Prizes."

Beginning now, I hope to write again. I am not planning on documenting my daily activities because that would be boring, even to me, and I will probably be the only one to read these things. In stead, I hope to write about the things I believe. Seeking Rough New Prizes is not easy. It is hard not to be sucked into wanting those smooth prizes: a big screen t.v., the convenience of plastic shopping bags, a 10 oz. steak. I need to document what matters to me so that I remember it when I don't particularly want to; when I drive by the big houses on Maplewood Ave. or walk into a Coach store or get the new Pottery Barn catalog. That is when it is hardest to remember the 91 million girls around the world who can't attend school or that we are killing our planet with conspicuous consumption or just the fundamental truth that things can't make you happy. And really, those are the times we should keep those facts in the forefront of our minds.

So, if you want to know my rambling musings or if you are interested in what makes me tick, feel free to read along with me. I welcome your questions, comments, concerns, and prayers.

Blessings, Chandra

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Random Facts about China

China is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of land mass and the largest in terms of population. There are more Chinese people who speak English than there are Americans who speak it. One in every fifty people in the world is from Sichuan Provence. It is very hard to wrap my mind around all of that. How does one country get to be so populated? They must have always had a low infant mortality rate compared to other countries, but why? Most people in China are peasants, I can't imagine that they have access to stellar healthcare or an abundance of food. In the Peace Corps welcome book it suggests that you boil all your water, so I can't imagine that it is very clean. Why doesn't Africa have the same population problems as China? Or the USA for that matter? Yes, we have access to birth control here and we understand the benefits of smaller families, but it wasn't always that way. My father is one of eight children.

It is just interesting to me that I am on my way to a country so different from my own. It seems like any other region of the world would have been more like the US than Asia. The split between the East and the West has always been so profound for me, the languages, the cultures, the history, everything is different. So, now I am trying to study China, and it is mind blowing. How can I begin to understand people without learning their history? Imagine coming to the US and not knowing a thing about the Revolutionary War or the Civil Rights Movement? These things effect us right now in everything, our culture, our interactions, our view of ourselves. So how can I go to China and know nothing about Tienneman Square or the Great Leap Forward? And this is a country that is powered by national pride, where the history is the culture, so if I don't know that, what good can I possibly do?


Clearly I have a lot of work to do.

晚安
(Good Night)

Chandra

Monday, February 20, 2006

China or BUST!

Saturday afternoon BJ and I finally got our official invitation to the Peace Corps. Actually, BJ was at work when I got the mail and I knew that the packet was coming, but it was so hard to wait for him to get home until we opened it. It was just this big, thick white envelope staring at me all afternoon saying, "Open me. Peak. BJ won't know." But, I had promised that I would wait for him so that we could find out together where we would be stationed and when.

When BJ finally got home we tore into the enveolope like kids on Christmas. I grabbed on end of the envelope flap and he grabbed the other and we just ripped it open. It is funny when something you have waited and wondered about for so long comes to fruitition. I mean, I sat there all afternoon looking at this unassuming white envelope thinking, "this is going to change my life." After months of medical tests and applications and resumes we were finally invited!

We were so excited when we read that we had been invited to serve in Peace Corps China. It is one of the best placements in the world! We will be teaching English at the college level, but we don't know exactly where yet. They have a certain number of colleges (mostly teachers colleges and the like) and a certain number of volunteers and once we are through training (8 weeks in Chengdu rather than the usual 12) we will be placed where our skills are best suited. We may be teaching anything from basic English to British Lit to American Culture, we won't know until we are there. What we do know is that the stateside staging is held from June 28 to 30 and then we fly to Chengdu for 8 weeks of intensive language, culture, and teaching training. Schools in China have an 8 week summer break, so in addition to teaching we will be required to do one 3 week project of our choice each summer as well as persue a secondary project throughout our time in the province. We are thinking of starting a drama club for our secondary project, but we are not sure yet. As far as living conditions are concerned, we will be staying in faculty housing. Apartments will have a kitchen with a fridge and stove, a bath with running water and a water heater for showers, and a a separate bedroom and living room. Most places even have phones and AC and some have the internet!

One of the best things about this post is that China is such a growing country. They are developing politically and economically and are hugely influential globally. BJ and I are so glad we will be learning Mandarin and we will be able to spend 2 years in such an interesting place. We are just really hoping that this time in China will help us in are careers after the Peace Corps. Anyway, that's all for now. I know this is a pretty short summary of the PC, but it is all kind of jumbled in my head still. More soon.

Chandra

February update

There are times in your life when you feel like you are underwater. Everything is heavy and you seem to be moving in slow motion. Now is not one of those times for me. So much has been going on in the past few weeks and I have so many things on my To Do List that writing in the blog has taken a back seat, but here is an update.

Let's see...

The last week in January I spent in San Francisco with one of my best friends in the world, Miss Emily. Emily and I met in the 7th grade when I was living with my grandparents for a semester and we became great friends, such great friends, in fact, that we have kept up the friendship for the past 13 years through letters and the occasional visit. Emily is one of those fabulous people that has an endless capacity for love and understanding and who knows just what to say and just when to send you a package or a hug. So, needless to say, I had a wonderful time. Em has lived in SF for a few years now so we spent all of our time at her little out of the way favorite spots. We got to go to Dave Egger's pirate store. (He wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genious and the pirate store is just a front for a writers' center. It's awesome.) Anyway, BJ and I had a great time and I would love to go back ASAP.

Just before going to SF, I had the brilliant idea to get another job. I thought that it would be a good idea to get some extra money for the honeymoon and stuff, but actually it turned out to be a bad idea. I got a job as a server at TEXAS ROADHOUSE, which would have been okay, but I just didn't have any time to get anything else done (ie-wedding plans, house cleaning, PC preparation, etc). On top of that I wasn't really making enough money to make it worth the time. So, tonight was my last night. If you talked to BJ he would tell you that I have much more definate opinions about the Roadhouse than I am sharing here, but now that it is over I just don't have the energy. Let's just say that I think some of the policies and politics of it do not make for a "legendary" work environment.

Anyway, now I will have more time for planning the wedding and getting ready for the Peace Corps, which will be the subject of my next post.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tag...I'm it!

The first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits I have" and people who get tagged then write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says you have been tagged? (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Ok...here goes...

1. I am a freak about time. If you tell me that I have to be somewhere at noon and I know it is going to take me 40 minutes to get there I will still leave at 11 no matter what. I have wasted more gas driving around blocks and ran more batteries down while reading books and waiting for people than I can imagine. Perhaps it is the addage, "15 minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unheard of." Augh. It plagues my life out.

2. I don't relax. I don't mean that I just don't have time to relax; I mean that I don't do it. If I am sitting down to watch T.V. I feel as if I should be cleaning the house or unloading the dishwasher or folding clothes. This is a fustration to BJ. I am always hopping up to do something or other during commercials or while we are chatting. This problem has even settled itself into my body. I go to the message therapist and she tells me to relax, and I think I do, but she says, "No, really, relax" and I have to say that I can't. My muscles just refuse. Sad, huh?

3. I have a blowdrying ritual. I settle down in front of the t.v. (usually set on a TiVoed Judging Amy, since that is my latest obsession) with a little mirror, a big, round brush, a comb, two big barretts, and a handful of hair elastics. I will spare you the description, but suffice it to say that the process takes about 45 minutes. 45 minutes of the T.V. blasting and the blowdryer in my ear, me saying "WHAT??? I CAN'T HEAR YOU. I'M BLOWDRYING MY HAIR" while I look something like a cross between a muppet and Cousin It. Hey, we all know, "There is no such thing as natural beauty." Right?

4. I have a thing about age. I feel that anyone who is older than me deserves something just by virtue of their age. (is it respect? acknowledgement? I don't know...) Even if I am in a situation where I am more experienced but someone is older than I am, I feel inferior. I also feel that people don't take me seriously because I look young or blonde or nice or "cute" or something. For example, while stage managing, I tell the actors to do something and they just stand there as if I am invisible. Or I get the "aren't you so cute" look. It pisses me off. For some reason I am sure this has to do with my age-ist attitude. I think I am age-ist against myself for being young. Scot, you know what I'm saying.

5. Ok, so I have left the most embarrassing thing for last. Laugh if you want, but here it is... I pull out my own eyelashes. "Why would one do this?" you may ask. I don't know. I really don't. I think someone at sometime told me that you could make wishes on eyelashes and so I started pulling them out and then when I got old enough to wear make up I would try to pull the mascara off and the lash would come out or I would think that if my eye itched and I pulled on the lashes to relieve the itch then I wouldn't smear my eyemake up . I don't know. I just know it is a problem. My eyelashes are actually still pretty full, but one day I will wake up and be lashless. Then how will I feel? Pretty dumb, right? Well I feel pretty dumb now, too. I think it is just something like Ang's mouth cancer. Why can't we just stop?

Ok, so I don't have anyone really to pass the game to, but I will try to give it to BJ on MySpace and maybe a few others I might find.

Love to all.
CHAN

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Post Regarding Postage stamps

So...blogger...how ya been?

I know. It has been a long, long time since I have visited you. I like to think that my posts have some kind of point to them, but over the past month or so I haven't felt as if I had come to any conclusions about anything. So, therefore, I have not been writing. I will try to start writing again, however, just to keep myself going.

Let's see... what's new? Wedding plans. Ah...wedding plans. It is funny what kinds of decisions a person has to make when planning a wedding. We have all the major vendors lined up, but now I am at the point where all the minute details come in. I have to decide how I want napkins folded and placecards set and what songs will be played when and whether I want to use light-up ice cubes. Never before have I agonized so much over postage stamps. You see, to send my wedding invitations it is going to cost 63 cents each. Not 60...63. So, no, I can't just get the pretty flower stamps or the pretty love stamps. I have to add a red, white, and blue star 3 cent stamp to each envelope. Each envelope which I have already spend hours meticulously hand-addressing and stuffing with another envelope containing invitation, RSVP card, direction card, information card, and the all important little piece of tissue paper. I have to ruin such a beautiful creation as my invitation with a damn STAR STAMP! So...all in all, wedding plans might make a person a little stressed out.

In spite of the fustrations and minutia, the experince is actually very nice. BJ and I met with the officiant the other day, and after all this planning of the reception and decorations and everything we finally started talking ceremony. The minister got out his book and was telling us about the standard traditional wedding service, and he started reading from the introduction, and I just thought how silly I have been. I mean you plan and plan and really it is all about that ceremony, you know? I really felt good when the minister was reading like I was doing something. I had finally started planning something that really matters. I don't know how to say it, but it just made me happy to be living my life.

Anyway, all this to say that things are going well here in my humble corner of the globe. Very well indeed. I hope you all are as lucky as I. God bless and goodnight.

Chandra

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ramblings about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a resonable holiday this year. By reasonable I mean that I didn't spend six hours in an automobile to arrive at a house already stuffed to the rafters with relatives, extended relatives, and relative strangers to eat a meal off a paperplate balanced precariously on my lap while a puppy runs by my feet chased by a small child (wait, none of my cousins have blonde hair...or do they?). Mostly I spent the four days quietly. We did go to two different family dinners and spend time with lots of my future in-laws, but really that wasn't the best part of the holiday.

Thursday BJ and I went to my church to help with a dinner open to church and community alike. It was the first time I had done something like that. I mean, I volunteer at a couple different places, but not like a soup kitchen or anything. It was really nice. First we played euchre with a retired couple from Franklin while we waited for things to get going. Then, we went upstairs for this little improvised service thing. We sang a song or two and then Mike, the pastor, told us to just shout out things we were thankful for. Without a second thought BJ shouted, "Chandra," which was lovely. I might have been embarrassed, but BJ already has a reputation of being outspoken at church. I mean his is always the loudest voice when we sing and he is always ready with a response or discussion, so I wasn't too surprised. Everyone just smiled at us, which is nice because some other people have been less than excited about our engagement. Not that anyone has been rude or anything just not as excited as I would have liked...anyway...I digress.

So, then we went back downstairs and people started arriving. There weren't as many as I thought, but we had a pretty good crowd, and it was evident that they were hungry. Some people came up two or three times and even took home boxes of food. I was dishing out the turkey (most important of the Thanksgiving foods, as BJ, the ham slinger, jealously pointed out) , and I was glad that we had so much because then I didn't have to be stingy about it. People were smiling and saying, "Happy Thanksgiving," and everything. You could tell that some of the people hadn't seen a good meal in a while. One guy had come up twice, and on the third time he put up the hood of his sweatshirt, just joking you know, as if we wouldn't recognize him. We all just laughed. There were also pleanty of church-folks there. Many were helping out, but some were just there to enjoy the company and the food. It was funny when people went to sit down, too, because there really wasn't a separation. I mean, at any given table there were church people and homeless people and people from other churches or other shelters. BJ and I talked to people and laughed and when the line was slow we used our tongs as percussion insturments to play Jingle bells. Eventually we left to go back to Bargersville for a family meal. It's funny, we didn't even eat there, but I think it might have been one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've had.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Survey.

A couple of years ago I started thinking of this survey that I was going to create. It would only have one real question besides demographics, and that question would be, "How are you going to affect your world?" I wanted to make people think, I guess, or something. I actually have a pretty good list of people who answered via email blitzes and such. Most were from college students- mainly theatre people- and some people answered who were friends of friends and that was cool, to have people who I had never met actually answer this survey thing. Once I put it all together in this church presentation. I still keep a file folder full of the answers with the intention of reviving it and perhaps making it into something someday. A play? A book? I don't know. In anycase, if you have an answer to this, please feel free to comment. Include your Name (if you wish), age, where you live, and occupation just for interest's sake. I really would like as many answers to this question as I can get over a long period of time and from all walks of life. I am interested in what makes people tick, you know? Some people will inevitably say that they will raise their children and that will be their contribution. Some people will say their "art". I am interested in everything. I acutally had one guy (whom I didn't know) say that he wouldn't go around asking people how they were going to affect the world, that he would just go out and do something. That was totally good, too. So, whatever moves ya! I will file it away, and maybe use it in some kind of published fashion in the future, so I want to let you know ahead of time. Probably nothing will come of it, but I am feeling inspired today. I would love to hear anyone's (and everyone) feedback!