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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

what's that they say about hindsight?
i took my annual mecca to los angeles last weekend to deliver the young, innocent, naive JET newbies from the same, lonely, uninformed experience i had so long ago. as i answered the same questions we hear every year, i thought about my experiences... was my perspective even really valid any more? surely things have improved since then? at the very least, fluoridated toothpaste and widespread internet usage??
afterward, i was chatting with the recruitment coordinator for the program, the same lady who had called me 8 years ago to tell me there was a spot 19 days away, if i wanted it. she mentioned the JET alumni san diego chapter, and encouraged me to get involved... i involuntarily wrinkled my nose and said "nah..." mistaking my hesitation for shyness, she talked about just going, just trying it out, there would be other quiet people there too. i eventually let her know what i was really thinking: "angel, i didn't have a good JET experience. and i certainly don't want to hang out with a group of people who spend happy hour reminiscing about how they were their town's celebrity or about all the wonderful memories they made. quite frankly, i don't want to relive any of that."
she seemed shocked for a moment, and maybe a bit confused. i quickly followed up with my reasoning of spending half a tank of gas every year to share my JET alumni experiences with the newbies. i didn't have an orientation, i wasn't prepared for what i had signed up for. i was picked up from the train station and dropped off at an apartment, and had to figure out the rest from there. i volunteer every year to make sure that no other JET has to go through that like i did, without at least a little guidance.
and then, owning up to her title, she recruited me. it seems that there is a stipulation that you can re-apply for the JET program as an alum. and, in fact, they have just changed that waiting period after return from 10 years to 6. so i'd be eligible to go back. thinking she hadn't heard what i said about not wanting to relive that experience, i started to protest. but she cut me off with explanations of how different my perspective would be. i know the food and the language and the climate. i know the culture. i'm equipped. and that could make all the difference in the world of wiping out my heart wrenching, life changing experience, and changing it in to one i want to gush about to total strangers at a happy hour.
you know what they say about hindsight. but what about perspective? at the very least, it's got me thinking.
current mood: thoughtful

Monday, June 14, 2010

east coastin'
after the whirlwind madness that is usually this time of year, with the end of the school year smash-crashing in to the now annual Alumni Weekend, it was a wonder that i was able to get away for a little vacation on the east coast for r's family reunion. his mom's side of the gang had rented a lake house in the finger lakes area of new york, a place that's apparently considered "upstate", i guess because it's not in the nyc area. other things i learned over the course of the week were things like what poison ivy looks like, and the differences between amish and mennonites. after a bit of a delay getting there, r and i spent the week with 20-65 of his relatives (depending on the day) fishing off the dock, exploring the 2-horse towns around us, building campfires and s'mores, and getting stuck in the middle of the lake because we broke the paddle boat. have i mentioned i'm not a strong swimmer?
the weather was cool, the company was warm, and the house was huge enough to sleep 26 (?!), though with the kids (ages 2-9) it seemed maybe a bit smaller. the east coast opened my eyes to all sorts of wonders: bats at dusk, eagles flying overhead, fireflys that seemed to have an LED implanted in their rear end, and real-live amish people... friendly, too, or at least the one we kept zooming past on the road was when he'd wave. and r got his fill (i think?) of his beloved dunkin' donuts coffee, so all in all, our appetites were satiated. and, amazingly, i managed to escape with few mosquito bites (two thumbs up for the off mosquito fan!).
enjoy the pics, word is there's a sequel planned in a few years:

current mood: refreshed!

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