Monthly Archives: June 2010

June 20.  7 pm on a Sunday.  Aaw’s out someplace.  I’m watchin’ a Mongolian-dubbed Korean soap on the teevee and eatin’ some chocolate.  This counts as studying, right?  Right.

Here’s what my morning was like:

1.   Woke up at 7:30.  Emerged from room at 7:45.  Strongly suspected that Aaw, who sleeps on a bed in the living room, was waiting for me to get up before he got up.  Also strongly suspected he was chuckling at me for sleeping so late.

2.  Washed my hair, brushed my teeth, decided to wear a dress, took my big bucket and some water and some shaving implements out to the shower stall.  Shaved.

3.  Ate breakfast (leftover meaty noodle soup).  Drank one of those instant coffees that come in a single serving sleeve (which the family buys just for me, I think).

4.  Got out my notebooks and flashcards and things and settled in at the kitchen table for another weekend morning of studying Mongolian.  Whee?

5.  At this point, Aaw comes over, gets out a piece of paper and a pen, and draws me a pretty landscape: mountains, river, trees, sun.  Lovely.  He teaches me the words for all these things ( I immediately forget them) and then he gets across, mainly through charades, that we should take my books and go to the river and study there for a couple of hours.

6.  Every pleasure center in my brain lit up, like a Christmas tree.  I said TEEM* and he showed me his binoculars and I said TEEM, TEEM** and he told me to fill up my water bottle and I said TEEMTEEMTEEM*** and then I ran to my room and packed my sunscreen and my camera and an extra lens and then I ran back out to the kitchen and danced around and sang the TEEM TEEM TEEM ZA ZA ZA**** song and then (needle on record sound) I realized that the river is far away, and that Aaw therefore was meaning to take me on the only motorized vehicle the family owns: A motorcycle.

7.  Riding a motorcycle is basically the biggest Peace Corps no-no imaginable.  Like they will send you home immediately if you do it.  Now, technically, in this case, I would not have been riding on a motorcycle; I would have been riding next to it, because Aaw has a sidecar attached to his motorcycle and that would have been the most bitchin’ thing ever.  Picture it.  Me and Aaw, cruising on our Soviet-era steed through the Mongolian countryside, not unlike Batman and Robin, on our way to the river to do some serious birdwatching.  I wish to convey to you just how badly I wanted this to happen.  Words are failing me.  I wanted it.  Real bad.

8.  I’ve been doing a lot of sitting around these past couple of weeks, see, and I’m kinda jealous every time other volunteers have stories of field trips, and animal slaughterings, and livestock wrasslin’s, and visits to shamans, and family picnics, and et cetera.  I mean obviously I know it’s not a race and I will someday see and do plenty of Mongolian-y things and plus I really like my host family!  I should not complain about anything!  Indeed I am not complaining.  I just want you to understand

a) just how very much I wanted to go to that danged river, and

b) how huge of a bummer it was for me to tell him I couldn’t, and to then sit back down at the table with my homework.  Ugh man, it’s bumming me out right now, just writing about it.

Anyway, here are the good things that happened today:

  • Dog let me touch him, and he made bigtime submissive dog-gestures while I did it, so obvs this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship
  • I made myself a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables for dinner
  • My coteachers and I got a good start on a lesson plan for Monday, and
  • I am healthy and life is good and all that.






P.S. New pictures are up on Flickr!  See Dog and Cat for yourselves!  Coming soon: Pictures of the fam!



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Hello e’erybody!

I’m coming to you live from the post-office-slash-internet-cafe in lovely [Mongolian city] (name typed, then deleted — I almost forgot how I’m not supposed to tell the Internet where I am). I told my host dad that I’d be home soon to help him clean and whatnot, so I’ll sit here and type the latest entry from my deep thoughts journal until it’s time to go, okay? I have no pictures to share because this computer isn’t recognizing my flash drive and I’ve already spent 200 tugriks (fifteen cents) while sitting here trying to troubleshoot the danged thing. Anyway. Short story is: I’m living in a house, in my own room, with my host dad (Aaw). My host mom is away in Korea until July, so mostly it’s just me and pops, with occasional visits from two grown daughters who live nearby. One of these daughters speaks some English. Another of these daughters has an 11-year-old girl who plays Uno with me. There’s no running water. There’s a squat outhouse. There’s a cat, and a dog. There’s lots of meat, and soup, and meat soup. I’m here with a group of TEFL volunteers. We have language lessons in the morning and culture/teaching lessons in the afternoon. The city I’m in is about 30,000 people, I think. Ryan is on another planet, basically, but we got our cell phones early so we can make snide remarks to each other every night. So, you know, things are fine. I hope your things are fine, too.

June 12, 5 p.m.-ish
A day of firsts:

1. First time sleeping past 5:30 am. I woke up at 7:30, after being dead to the world for maybe 10 hours. Being an idiot all day long really takes it out of me, apparently.

2. First bowel movement in the squat outhouse! Very excited about this one, although the less said the better, probably. Here is what I will tell you, though: For the remainder of the summer I’m not going to waste my time doing resistance training-type stuff with any muscle groups from the glutes on down. Taking a simple whizz has turned into a haunch-shakingly good workout, to say nothing of the burn incurred during this morning’s long-anticipated b.m. Never before have I associated lactic acid with poopin’, but until I master the Asian Squat (which will be never) I guess my dumps will be…strenuous, ah, affairs.


3. First jog in my training town, and first time acting like an adult, at least in my communicating (non-verbally, that is) the idea of, “I will do this thing now and I will come back in an hour, okay? Okay bye.” Aaw pointed me in the direction of some hills, and I puttered and huffed and plodded my way up a few of them. Three little cowlets stared at me, as did some locals, although some other locals smiled and waved and giggled and whathaveyou. It’s awkward (operative two words for the next 27 months) knowing whom to bestow eye contact upon, and after said contact has been bestowed, to know whether to move on to a smile or a nod or a little wave or even some (completely, monstrously) unintelligble Mongolian. When I do roll the dice and attempt a sain bainuu, I usually get blank stares. Oh well.

4. First alcoholic drink with the host family (the host family being Aaw, for the most part). The whole time I’ve been writing this, Aaw has been shooting the shit with a friend at the kitchen table, with what I can only estimate is a 1.5 liter bottle of Russian beer sitting between the two of them. I’m over on the couch. Although I considered joining them at the table, like agonized about it for a short intense period, I think staying put was a good idea — Aaw has delivered a small glass of beer unto me and I don’t see any reason to insert myself, mute and smiling, into their conversation. Also I have made the mistake of finishing my first glass, so of course I’m on my second, now.



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And please check out Ryan’s blog for a goodbye partay video which I am sure you will enjoy very much.

Okay I mean it this time!  GOODNIGHT

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Thank you to everyone — friends, family, frenemies, every kind of beer and food, Roz — who has been nice to us these last few weeks.  We may not be able to get in touch for a month or two, but please know that we’ll be thinking about you.  Pining for you.  THIRSTING FOR YOU (this may only apply to beer).

So anyway, we’re leaving in six hours and I might try to get some sleep now.  Watch this space for updates!  We love you all.  We can’t believe this is happening.  We will see you later.

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