Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm back in London 'for good' after all that galavanting around Cyprus and the Balkans. What a great set of trips, which I'm sure I'll recap at some point soon.

Still, I just wanted to drop a note that the internet in the flat has died and I'm having to rely on coffee shops for the time being. Perhaps it's good practice for South Africa which I'm clearly going to need. I was going NUTS yesterday. On the other hand, I spent a lot more time being productive and reading. There's just so much to do! My flatmate has already gone back to Spain, which means I'm going to have to finish taking care of the little things she left behind and do all the cleaning. Arrrgh. I hate being the person who has to do the final details again, although at least this time it's for a very, very good reason and I'm glad she's back in Spain with her family.

I'm also excited about seeing a lot of my friends for what will probably be the last time in a long time. (The seeing them part, not the last time part.) I just can't believe I'm leaving. I certainly don't want to.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

As always, I've been a little quiet...

This time it's because of travel. I was at home for a little more than 12 hours between flying home from Cyprus and leaving for Kosovo. I'm still in Kosovo and am gradually getting sleepy after a long day of travelling back from Macedonia. And The Boy (who was gleeful at finally getting some stamps because we're outside the EU) called me a passport whore. The nerve! Did I mention our 'visit' to Albania that didn't actually involve us taking the long way around the immigration plaza?

It's been fantastic and I am certainly not ready to face up to the reality of going back to London tomorrow and having to pack up and tidy up my life in preparation for returning to the US.

Also, Kosovo has lovely mountains. And Skopje's a bit of dump, but has an AMAZING vegetarian restaurant. And the Boy and I have a great deal to write to Brandt guides about. Which are nice, because no one else does guides to this part of the world (well, except the Serbian tourism agency and they're...biased), but lacking a bit for the independent traveller. Le sigh. Stream of conciousness. I'm going to grab the Boy so we can work on that now.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I'm fascinated by the different ways in which people have attempted to define and name my generation. It's a little weird because, as a 1983 baby, I'm generally thought to be right at the start of the Millenials/Generation Y (shudder, hate that name) and don't think I have a whole lot in common with the kids who were born as I was entering (or perhaps finishing high school).

I must note that I speak particularly about my friends: the upper-middle & middle class kids (predominately white, I'll admit) who I went to (public) school with in suburban Indianapolis and liberal Earlham College.

I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I think that my friends and I were particularly shaped by the optimism of the post-Cold War years, those years when universal peace and prosperity seemed possible. We're internationalists, in part because of the spirit of cooperation that dominated, and have (I think) had a very difficult time dealing with the state of the world today because we'd gotten used to being optimistic about the world and everyone in it. I think it's atrocious that the actions of the Bush administration shattered the worldview of so many young Americans by proclaiming that there were EVIL people and places and that we shouldn't be their friend; rather, we should go to war against them! We grew up believing that evil was something like what happened in Kosovo or Rwanda or Somalia and that we should stage humanitarian interventions to protect human rights (even if we didn't realise that that's what we were aiming for at the time). Regime change was a factor of our parent's foreign policy and not ours.

We're also liberal. We grew up being afraid...very afraid...of AIDS, but I think were also pretty well informed about its causes and ways to avoid it. Our health teachers knocked the myths about transmission out of our heads and I think we were the first generation to be exposed to openly gay/lesbian/bisexual, etc. people so young. I think that Rent was a watershed, at least among my friends and I (we were theatre dorks). Being gay was normal, the people were cool and had awesome songs and it was really no big deal when our friends came out of the closet, too. After all, we'd known them all our lives, so a realisation about sexual orientation didn't make them different people in any way. If anything, it made the boys more fun, in that way that women feel a special kinship with men who don't hold any designs on them as more than friends.

And, I think that the events of 9/11 represent a sort of capstone for the kids who remember the optimism and saw it crash to a close. That was a scary day that's been followed by feelings of betrayal (more aimed at our government and less at the rest of the world, where we recognise that we've done a lot of things that should be resented and where inequality and poverty is pervaisive and unacceptable). We're sort of bitter and it sucks to be both nostalgic and pessimistic at the age of 23. Still, I know that there are people and organisations that are doing good work and I'm determined to be one of them.

Plus, now I get to be a Kennedy kid and join the Peace Corps. His optimism in the face of the Cold War resonates pretty loudly, at least with me, and I think among the millions of others who are drawn to the things that Barak Obama 'preaches.' Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New title soon!

Le Blog will have a new title soon: JOYCE GOES TO SOUTH AFRICA!!!

Yes, it's official (as soon as I ring up the Africa Placement Office); I've been invited to be an NGO Capacity Builder in South Africa with the Peace Corps. It's absolutely perfect! There are a whole bunch of dorky reasons why that I can elaborate on at some point (economic & social rights in the Consititution and Athol Fugard being just two of them), but I'm just excited.

I didn't actually realise how big a deal this was to me until I made my very first "Guess where I'm going" phone call to my beloved Juliet, on the home front in Niger, upon which I burst into tears. I suspect she understands. I just can't believe that all of this is ready to happen. I applied to the Peace Corps in September, so we're right at about eight months and I feel like I've been both working for this and waiting for it for so much longer. Of course, I've been thinking about Peace Corps for a lot longer than that and it's helped so much to talk to PCVs and RPCVs. Still! EEEEEEEEEEEEE! South Africa!!! They have rugby! (Boy's designated job is to help me figure out which team to support.) Wow.

After my trip to Norwich tomorrow (gotta squeeze in that pilgrimage to Earlham Hall) and a play tomorrow night, it's down to the hard core packing. Bring it!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Can I gloat a bit?

Well, it was an eventful week spend on the seacoast...delivering Lib Dem propaganda. Lovely place Eastbourne, even the council estates (the ROUGHEST in Eastbourne, which, er, looked a bit like the nicer bits of Brent). We stayed in an absolutely amazing mansion with one of the now newly-elected candidates and I managed to bugger up my knee a bit with all the hills and stairs. It's feeling better now, but after delivering the good morning leaflets on election day itself, I was quite happy to sit in a chair all day and bother people by telephone. Still, it wasn't bad. Compared to Brent I could a) pronounce all the names and b) knew whether those names belonged to a male or a female! It was lovely! Later that night, there were a few council employees at the count who'd gotten calls from me. Hee! I guess it's not often that you get a call from a strangely American-sounding Lib Dem telling you 'for god's sake go and vote!'

It wasn't the best of nights around the country. My lovely friends from Lincoln both lost their seats, which made me very sad, and Newbury made even more losses. Still, we had a GREAT night in Eastbourne. On Wednesday, the numbers looked really bad, but on the night we managed to take 8 of the 9 target seats (at lost the 9th by only a handful of votes). The council went from 15 Tories & 11 Lib Dems (plus 1 Independent) to 20 Lib Dems & 7 Tories. w00t!! I have to say that one of the highlights of the evening was watching Brent East's very own Sarah Teather announcing the 'good news' from Eastbourne on the BBC.

Also awesome was that we got the triumphant Ming visit (because we were the best victory closest to London). I have to say the visuals looked quite good, if partially because four of us had an emergency run to find helium and we squatted around the end of Eastbourne Pier blowing up balloons!

Spot the Joyce: