Friday, December 15, 2006
It has indeed been a long time since I was on here to update the world wirth my whereabouts.
I am still at the same place, Carlinville, loving it, working hard. I now hold an almost full-time position at Blackburn College (University to all you Kazakhs reading this). I work 30 hours a week as the Student New Construction Crew Supervisor. I tell them to work; they work, sometimes.
They need a lot of help. The work they have done would make a blind man cringe to walk near it. It's bad. Really BAD.
Anyway, that's about it. I work, pay bills, and work some more.
I wish I had more to say. But, I don't. not right now.
Posted at 12/15/2006 6:39:03 am by TimsPCjournal
Saturday, October 28, 2006
An email, and update... sort of.
Ok, here it is. This is perhaps the largest email that I have ever sent out. I am sending this to everyone in my address book. Everyone who has ever given me an email address, is receiving this email. I hope to clear out all those email address that no longer work. If you get several copies of this email, forgive me. I am using the beta version of Yahoo Mail, which is a little different when one adds email addressed into the email.
So, what I am asking for is very little. If you get this and you don't want me to email you, tell me and I will delete your address from my account. If you have an address that you use more than the one you receive this email on, please let me know. If you didn't get this email, umm, I can't help with that. If you have heard from me via email in the past two weeks or so, ignore this email. If you have any questions, ask me. If you want to update me with how you are, where you are, etc., write me here or use my phone number and address below.
As I mentioned, this email is going to everyone in my address book, which includes some people from Kazakhstan (some of the students that I worked with). So, if what I write seems simplistic or weird to you, chalk it up to that. If you know this information, don't worry about my sanity. I want to make sure everyone who wants it, gets it.
I am currently living Carlinville, Illinois, which is the same town where I studied at University. I have an apartment that I don't share, but I do have an extra bedroom if anyone gets the desire to visit me. I won't even ask for advance knowledge of your arrival, but if you don't tell me you are coming, don't expect me to be around. If I am there, I will do my best to make your time comfortable and enjoyable. That being said, my address is:
Carlinville, IL 62626
Letters are always welcome. I also have a new phone number. Because Carlinville is such a small town, there is only Cingular service here. I had to change my number when I switched services. My new number is (1-***-***-****. I have a fairly good plan for text messages and free minutes. I don't think I will ever run out of either.
For those of you who missed the boat on what I did for the past two years...I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. (November 3rd, the Borat movie will open. It portrays a little bit of Kazakhstan in a very negative light. If you see the movie and have questions, feel free to email / call and ask me. I am more than willing to talk about it.) I taught English to students in the small village of Akzhaik, in the West Kazakhstan Oblast. If you look up Uralsk on the internet you will find some information about the area where I was for those two years. I had the most incredible experience of homesickness for Kazakhstan watching "Long Way Round", which is a made for TV series where Ewen McGregor and a friend take motorcycles from London to New York City. They spend 45 minutes of that time in Kazakhstan. (They went through less than a month before I arrived in Kazakhstan.) Watching the show really blindsided me. I wasn't homesick when I left here to go there, but I was homesick here, watching the show.
At any rate, I really learned a lot about myself, my country, Kazakhstan, and the cultures of Kazakhstan. I really can't sum up what it was like in less than a hundred pages. There were a lot of highs and lows. I kept a blog of my time there. I know that some of you kept up reading that. I appreciate those who did. You can still find it and read it. The address is www.timsjournal.blogdrive.com
. I will someday get it put together properly with pictures and in decent order. There are also many entries that I meant to write and didn't. Those will be added in someday. I also appreciate, very much so, those who sent letters or packages while I was there. Most of you didn't hear from me when you sent something, and that is a failure of mine.
Since coming back, I have spent a lot of time on my motorcycle (close to 9,000 miles now), but not as much as I wanted to spend on it. I have adapted, well I am still adapting, to life back here. I make it through a day at a time. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what will happen. It takes too much energy. I have a girlfriend, a lady I met a few months before I left for Peace Corps. She is a wonderfully beautiful person. I have managed to find about everyone I knew and spent any amount of time with before I left. It has been nice to rediscover the friendships that I had two years ago are still strong, for the most part.
My family is doing well. I have a new neice and another neice/nephew on the way.
I think that is about all for the moment. I hope that you are all well and that this email is a welcome email.
Posted at 10/28/2006 1:01:45 am by TimsPCjournal
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Well, I made it home and I am doing well. I think. I haven't reached the 5000 mile marker that I wanted to get on my motorcycle. I have reconnected with a lot of my friends from before I left and from PC. I have been busy. I don't have a whole lot to say right now. I will try to write up some more of my experiences when I get a chance and a good computer.
I hope you have all enjoyed reading this. I hope you also will take a minute or two to send me an email with any suggestions you may have, entries I mentioned and never wrote, favorite stories, etc. Basically, I would like to know what thsoe of you who read this thought of it or wondered about.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the contact sheet available through blogdrive on my page.
Take care. Tim at home no longer in a stan....
Posted at 7/6/2006 11:54:41 pm by TimsPCjournal
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Let me see...something I won't miss...I won't miss not showering on a regular basis.
As you know, most of you, for the last two years I averaged about two (if I was lucky) showers a month. Now, granted, a lot of that time it was winter and the temperatures outside were not condusive to leading one into sweating and thereby body odor. However, the temperatures in my classroom were not so low. I will not miss smelling myself on a regular basis. I will not miss the grimy feeling of not being clean. This goes along with the being clean part...I will not miss having to wash my hands with cold water. One cannot clean ones hands well with cold water. It just doesn't do the job of warm water. As far as the temperatures, on my way to the city yesterday (I'm actually writing this on day 6), the people in the taxi were complaining about how cold the air and wind was. This would not be important, if it had been January. But it was May. I was sitting in the front seat, with the window down and when I got out of the car, my back was covered in sweat. I was sweating and they were complaining about how cold it was outside. Hm.
Something I will miss...I will miss the kids in my village who say hello in a polite I'm-a-little-kid-and-you-are-a-foreigner-and-I-am-scared-of-you-but-I-am-still-a-little-kid kind of way as I walk to and from whereever it is that I go. Now this may be condtradictory to some of the other things I won't miss. The difference is that the kids in my village never really did it in a harrassing way. They were being polite and saying hello and asking how old I was. Some of these kids I had in classes. Some of them were neighbors. Some of them had no clue but knew that I was not like them. I played frisbee with some of them, and soccer, as well as other little kids games that kids here play. Anyway, in a way I will miss them saying hello. Maybe it's the child curiousity that I will miss.
Anyway, I'm digressing so I'll shut up. Day 6 coming up...
PS. For those of you who have been reading my blog, please write me and tell me what you think of it. Do you like it or not? Do you want to hear more about something that I mentioned? Do you have any criticisms? Let me know what you think about all this work I have done...My email is easy to find (most of you have it) or you can use the contact sheet found on the blog itself. Thank you.
Posted at 6/1/2006 11:38:50 am by TimsPCjournal
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Technically, it is still day 9, but I know I won't have access to internet tomorrow. So I am writing as if it were day 8.
Hmm. How sexist did I sound in that last entry? Women showing underclothes, cleveage, skin...What a lead in to...
....Things I won't miss. I won't miss the prevalent sexist attitude that is found here. Men are always right. Women are to be subservient. Women do the housework. Men sit and watch them do the house work. I could go on like this for a while with examples of things that I have seen and experienced. But, I don't feel like it. Not today, at least. And so I won't. Instead I will talk about something....
....that I will miss. Springs in Uralsk. Uralsk has a large number of cotton wood trees. During the spring time these trees begin shedding whatever it is they shed and turn parts of the city into virtual summer snow days, especially if the day is windy. It really is a beautful thing that is next to impossible to catch on camera, so I haven't and won't do it. The other thing about spring in Uralsk is the comfortable change, the metamorphosis if you will, of people from winter clothes to summer clothes. It is nice to see skin after six months of seeing layers and layers of leather and other clothes. During the winter, the only skin ones sees is the area around the eyes and an occasional hand or two. This I don't mean in a sexist way. I feel myself better...wait, that a Kazakhstanism...I feel a lot better now that my skin is turning to a nice shade of brown. They say that you can absorb vitamin D through your skin from the sun. How interesting. I am glad that I will have to wear fewer clothes the next winter or two...maybe, depending on where I am. I am pretty sure that whereever I end up that I won't have to deal with -45C for weeks on end.
And that concludes day 8's ramble.
I hope you are all well and happy with life and all that jazz. BTW. I saw "Guys and Dolls" on television today. The words were in Russian, but the songs don't get translated. It's marvellous.
Posted at 5/28/2006 7:04:17 pm by TimsPCjournal
Eventually, I am going to write a list of things I will and won't miss about Kazakhstan. For now, I am going to try and do a little of each.
Something I will miss...The conservative dress of the Kazakhstani people. Of course there is some sarcasm in this statement. When I first got information from PC about KZ, it said that I should bring good dress clothes because the K-i people dress conservative. Although there are a few people who actually do this, and a few more who consider their style to be conservative, the reality is that style here is pretty much on par with most European and American style. Now, truth be told, I am not one to talk about style other than to say that I have no style. I know nothing about fashion. But I do get a kick out of seeing people walk around in clothes that most people would consider clothes that a street walker would wear. I have seen more short dresses, more cleaveage, more underclothing through overclothing (ie. shirts, pants, etc.) here than I ever saw in America. And there is no limit on what would be considered age appropriate dress. I have seen the bras of more than a thousand women over the age of 50 than I ever cared to see. The summer fashion includes many, way to many mesh and fine mesh shirts that do little or nothing to hide the clothes or flash underneath. The pants are often skin tight white material that leaves very little to the imagination or nightmare, which ever the particular case may call for. The part of this that I will miss, aside from seeing beautiful, scantily clad (raoorrr! hehe) women, is the free-ness in this Muslim-esque society to wear whatever is "comfortable" (in quotes because comfort and fashion do not necessariy go hand in hand). I will miss seeing people who aren't so concerned about how they look in something that is not meant for someone their size to wear. I will miss the older women who are comfortable enough being older that they wear whatever they choose.
Something I won't miss...and this is the biggest one...people yelling "Hey Americkanka!" at my back. I got to the point where I ignored it. But now, I'm at the point where I want to chase the little (radio edit) down and browbeat them until they apologize for their ignorance and uncouth behavior. I won't miss being singled out as a foreigner and all the attraction that entails. One of the questions that some of my students ask me is "If I was (their grammar at which point I correct them) America, what would people say/do?" My answer to them is "Nothing." They won't yell at you screaming "Hey Kazakhskee!" or "Hello! What your name?" or bother you when you are walking down the street by staring and following you asking questions even though you are a complete stranger. I won't miss being asked what is your nationality. In short, I won't miss the borderline harrassing behavior that so many people here consider ok, as long as you are a foreigner (regardless your nationality).
Well, I'm going to get off of here. 9 days...
Posted at 5/28/2006 2:23:14 pm by TimsPCjournal
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I have found my way into the city of Uralsk again. This time, there is an AIDS / HIV Information walk that was began by a previous volunteer (whom we all miss). I am sitting in the little internet cafe at Kazakhtelecom listening to music blasting out from the cafe next door. It sounds live which means several things, least of which being there's probably a wedding going on next door.
I wanted to write about the trip that I took to visit the volunteers, but I can't seem to remember what it was that I wanted to write about.
For that matter, I can't think of anything to write about with this, this, this music going on in the background.
Take care out there...
Posted at 5/21/2006 12:14:44 am by TimsPCjournal
This is a copy of an email I sent out. Most of you probably got it and read it already, but if you haven't, here it is. I've edited it for sake of "safety." IE. I didn't want everybody in the world to know my travel plans.
To all of you who get this and read it,
As my subject alludes to, I am getting closer to my home, my home in America that I haven't seen in two years. By home, though, I must be vague. I'm not sure where my chips will fall once I get there. As per my style, I am flying (almost) by the seat of my pants. I do have a slight plan in place, slight may be an overstatement.
And, I thought, as all of you are my family and friends that I care about, whether or not I show it often or at all, I wanted to let you know where my life is headed in the next...well, on June 6th at least. Some of you have been family all of my life. Some of you have been family for only part of my life. The remaining bunch of you have been friends for a some time. All of you have influenced me in some way that I have considered enormous, whether you know it or are willing to admit it.
For those of you who are out of it, or don't remember who I even am, hehe, I have been in Kazakhstan for the past two years. I still, after many emails to many groups of people, get letters asking where I am and why people don't hear from me. This is my answer.
I am not the best at anything, least of all communicating with people. For this I can only apologize. I think it is genetic, or at least the result of a scattered mind. The many times as I have tried to change this fact is the number of times I have failed to do so. I blame it on a stone cold heart and a really bad access to any kind of decent communication routes. But, I have tried in one way to keep everyone who was interested updated in my...progress, if you will.
Since I have been here, I have kept a journal, a blog, which can still be found at www.timsjournal.blogdrive.com. This journal began on the 26th of June 2004. I don't know when or if I will stop writing in it. I think there are somewhere around 110 entries, which typed in MSWord would equal somewhere around a 120 - 150 pages. This is more than I thought I would ever get posted and about a third of the things that have happened to me that I wish I had typed and posted. There is a lot. One of my goals within the first six months after I get back is to create a website complete with all of these entries (and the photos that go along with them) in a chronological order. I may need more than six months.
As per my style, I seem to have rambled away from the point of writing this letter. The point is I am coming home soon. In 18 days, I will leave on a plane from Uralsk to Almaty. I will spend the following four days working on completing paperwork and other such requirements (Physical, medical clearance, etc.). On the 6th on June, I will leave from Almaty * *** *** ** *** **** *** ** *** ** **** **** **** *** ** *** *** ** ***** ** **** *** ** (this is the info I took out...)
I am not asking any of you, nor would I expect all of you, to be at the airport to meet me. Indeed, I think I would be slightly overwhelmed if all of you that I am sending this to were to be at the terminal when I got through Customs. Overwhelmed, I think, is putting it politely, especially seeings as how the 6th is a Tuesday. For those of you in Chicago, or who know Chicago, I would like to know, for those of you who know Chicago, where would a good place to go for a steak and baked potato and as well as having the chance to see some live music, good live music.
I was planning on taking a trip to Ireland for a while after my contract finished, but that plan was scrapped when I found out that my brother would be getting a vacation around the same time. (He has been in Iraq.) He was to head back before I would have arrived from my Ireland trip. I decided that I would rather see him than take the trip. The trip can wait for another year or two.
Since I have cancelled that trip, I have decided to spend the money, instead, on a trip around the States. I plan on hopefully including the following states: Illinois (of course) Indiana, Ohio, New York, Vermont, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky (very eastern), Florida, Lousiana, Texas, Montana, Wisconsin, and anything that I have to ride through to get to there places. Yes, I did say ride. I will be taking my motorcycle and making up for the past two years that I haven't been riding. It will not be a whirlwind trip. In fact, I plan on taking my time. There will be no interstates and very few maps. (Think I can do that?) Anyway, if you would like to see me, let me know and I will try my best to stop for a moment and share a little bit of my time with you. If you couldn't tell from the above email, I don't have a solid plan which means I don't know when I will start (for sure within 1.5 months after landing) or when I will stop (probably around the time what little money I will have runs out).
I've rambled again. I guess that's about all I really have to say right now. I hope that you are all happy to read this. I hope that whereever your life has taken you in recently, the last two years have been less of a roller coaster but every bit as satisfying as these past two years have proved for me, maybe (well, in hindsight for sure).
p.s. If you have anything you wish to ask of me, you may do so knowing that in the next two months I will answer whatever you may ask...Ahh, regular internet, phone lines that work, electricity, no language barrier, food that has a variety, indoor toilets, decent customer service, family, friends, motorcycles, open roads, freedom to move when I want to meve...here I come!
pps. If there sare misstakes, flame the igmoarnt man who tieped this on threee hourz of sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...zzzzz. :)
Posted at 5/21/2006 12:04:32 am by TimsPCjournal
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Some complaints and a trip
I'll start with the complaints first. I went out to another village to visit some volunteers. These volunteers live in a village 130 Km from the city. I'll write more about that in a little. But I took a taxi to the city this morning.
The taxi left the village at 5:45 in the morning. 5:45!!! IN the MORNING!! All of the taxis in their village leave at about this time. In the past, this was necessary. The road was really bad. REALLY BAD. It took 3.5 - 4 hours to get to the city. Now, the road is new. it takes 1.5 hours to get to the city. See the difference here? But the taxi still leave at 6:00 or earlier. Why? When they get to the city, nothing, is open. Anyway, that's complaint number one for this email.
Complaint number 2...as I was walking in the city this morning, waiting patiently for someplace to open, I crossed paths with several people. Need I remind you that it is only 7:45 in the morning...This is important to remember. Three men asked me for cigarettes. If, IF, I had been smoking, this would seem a logical question. I mean, sure, cigarettes are dirt cheap here so why should a perfect stranger not give you the cigarettes that he has bought and intends on scorching his lungs with. Right? One I will admit was a begger. He doesn't have legs or money. He sits outside of the golden church and begs, for a living. I can understand him not having cigarettes, and asking for them. The second was a young man, perhaps 20 or 21. He's walking the other way and stops me to ask for a cigarette. He's dressed in the latest Euro-trash fashion that is oh so common here. He's not a begger. He's old enough to buy the cigarettes himself. Instead, he prefers to ask perfect strangers, who give no indication of having cigarettes, if he can have theirs. The third man was a guard at a local building. I admit, there are worse jobs to have. He was standing outside the door of the building asking every stranger that passed to give him a cigarette.
Complaint number three...this is where the time factors in...Still this morning. It's now about 7:50. I am walking down the street. I see four young Kazkah men ahead of me. They are standing and having a conversation. I don't know what they are talking about, and it's not really like I care to know. I am walking down the street not caring about what other people are doing. I like to do this, to simply absorb the city in the morning. Uralsk is a great city to do this in. It's beautiful and spring fresh from the torrential downpour that hit the city yesterday and the day before. There are few people on the street. But back to thses for men. I should use young men, for they were all younger than me. I am guessing all four were between the ages of 18 and 21. They aren't smoking. They are probably waiting to bum cigarettes from strangers walking down the road. However, all four of them are holding something in their hands.
I didn't need to walk closer to know what they were holding. It's obvious. At 7:50 in the morning, these four yoiung men were drinking beer. I'll give them some credit. At least they weren't drunk yet. I have seen that side of this country. (An older man harassed me at 8:30 in the morning, plastered out of his mind, reeking of vodka and God knows what else (but that's another entry). But these are four young men... Public intoxication is frowned upon. I have seen the results of one such incident. (Not myself, but in an earlier entry where I was trying to buy water and the police picked me up for not wearing a coat, there was a drunk man picked up by the same policemen.) However, public consumption of alcohol is no big deal. Anyone can and a lot do. During the past holiday, I saw a man on the street so drunk that he couln't, sitting on the ground, lean up against a building without falling over. That takes an extreme amount of alcohol.
Anyway, these are my complaints.
And now, the ResT of the story... will be another entry... :)
Always keep'em coming back for more, right?..
Posted at 5/14/2006 11:48:50 am by TimsPCjournal
Sunday, May 07, 2006
It's another stretch of holidays here. Today is young men's day. Tuesday is Victory Day. Thursday is something else day. I'm sure Satuday will be another holiday... I joke I joke. It really si a holiday today and Tuesday. My director gave me the day off, even though I didn't ask for it, or really want it, on Wednesday so that I could come to the city and watch the celebration on Tuesday evening. My host family is coming to the city also. I'm guessing the school will be pretty empty of students and teachers on the 10th.
We lost a volunteer in our oblast this past weekend, compliments of a bad decision and another volunteer who like to have a brown nose. The program here is riddled now with holes, compliments of same brown noser. There were about 10 or a dozen volunteers sent home after an investigation. Details will not be forthcoming so don't hold your breath. Our volunteer (if you read this you know who you are) will be missed by volunteers and locals alike. She is a wonderful person. She was passionate about her work here, and she is passionate about life and what she wants to do. She was willing to stay in country and continue her work without the support of PC. She would have been paying out of her own pocket. This is dedication. I hope the brown noser gets screwed in life the same way that he screwed over the 10 or 12 people here. He'll deserve every bit of suffering that he gets.
In other news, I have decided not to go to Ireland. For those of you who knew and know, I was going to stop in Ireland on my way back from here. I changed my mind. I would rather see my brother. My brother has been in Iraq since, I think, October 2005. He will get a vacation 28 May to 12 June. 12 June was when I was to get back from Ireland. I decided to save the money from Ireland, go home and see him
Instead of Ireland, I will spend the money on a trip of the States to see friends and family. Before I left, I put about 4 or 5 thousand miles on my motorcyle in about a month. I want to do more, in a more fulfilling manner. I hope to take the money from my readjustment allowance, which won't be much, and spend about 2 months on the road. I will start in Illinois and try to stop in the following states, Maybe...Ohio, New York, Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Lousiana, Texas, Washington, Montana, and Wisconsin. It will depend on many factors, the least of which is not money. I figure it will make up for the two years that I haven't been on a motorcycle. Most of the time, if not all of ot, I will be two lane highway riding. I also want to try and hook up with a volunteer agency when I go through the New Orleans area (if anyone knows of one down there).
Past that, I have no plans. I am thinking about grad school. I think I have mentioned this before. I reckon I will have to work at some point. I don't know where I'll live or anything like that. What a plan.
Leave me a line, send me an email, or give me a call. Tell me what to prepare myself for. I have seen on the news here that gas is at $3.20/gal in some places. I can think back to high school, which wasn't all that long ago, when it was 87 cents.
Take care out there all y'all.
Posted at 5/7/2006 12:17:24 pm by TimsPCjournal