Sunday, July 8, 2012

A sea of paperwork

Paperwork is going to be the death of me. It would be nice if there was some snazzy computer interface that Fulbright could use to receive all of these forms. It’s rather confusing and I’m afraid I’m going to lose one. Since my grant starts in September, any sort of delay could delay my first payment until after I need to be in Latvia.

Nevertheless, the paperwork is almost submitted. I’m mailing off my completed medical forms tomorrow. I need to also send off my loan deferment papers and various other papers that require my signature. Some of it will have to wait until I have an actual address and location in Latvia.

In other news, I have a coat. I had visions of being swallowed up by a down parka, but the coat isn’t as ugly as I imagined. It wasn’t too expensive. (Dez recommended Burlington Coat Factory and though it took some digging, I found a suitable coat.) I also bought some awesome Merrell boots and some Smartwool socks.

The embassy has been in contact. I found out that I’ll be in either Rezekne or Valmiera (not Daugavpils as previously thought). Rezekne is about 50% Russian. Valmiera, to my knowledge, is less Russian. I imagine they’ll put me in Rezekne since I have a background in Russian and no background in Latvian, but who knows? I’m prepared for either. Both are charming. Latvia is small enough that I’ll be a few short hours from Riga regardless.

I’ll be assistant teaching at the high school level. I’d rather hoped for a university setting, but the more I think about it, the more I’m okay with high school. We can talk about pop culture. Hopefully. As I wrote that sentence, I realized that I’ll be 10 years older than most of these kids. What sort of pop culture do I share with 16-year-olds in Latvia? Oy. (How is that for stream of consciousness blogging?)

For the most part, I’m not particularly worried about being in Latvia. I figure, if I survive the getting there I’ll be able to roll with whatever happens. The worry comes out while I’m lying in bed at night, trying to sleep. It’s hard to drown out the little voice telling me that I’m going to be lonely and cold and miserable and that I’m giving up a good job, a great town, and fantastic friends for a lark. That’s the voice that also wonders loudly why I feel the need to wander off to other countries when it’d be a hell of a lot easier to just be happy here. I usually don’t have an answer, but when I wake up, those thoughts are gone because I’m so damned busy.

I went to Texas to visit my family around the fourth of July. It was hotter in Kansas than it was in College Station. Not much happened. I re-discovered why I don’t have cable. I found a book on Latvian. We went shopping in Houston. I ate Mexican breakfast and had steak-fingers from Dairy Queen. My brother and father made bratwurst from scratch -an endeavor that I never wish to witness again. I prefer a certain level of disconnect between the preparation of my meat products and myself. I made cabbage stuff. It was pretty good. I can follow directions like a boss. Mom made strudel. It tasted lovely but looked like a giant sandworm from Dune, so I fashioned eyes for the worm and a tiny Paul Atreides out of a rolled up piece of bread and cherry stems to put on top. The dog almost ate Paul, but he survived to ride the sandworm into the apple-scented sunset.

On the Kansas front, I’m busy. I’m still working full time. I’m trying to figure out how to pare down and
pack up my apartment. My parents are arriving to take care of my bed and the cats on the 27th. After that, I’m living somewhere? That’s still in the works.

 Also, I’ve got an orientation in DC in a couple of weeks. I’m excited, even though we won’t have much actual time to see DC.

Last thing: do we think my allergies will transfer to Latvia? I sure hope not because they are KILLING me in Kansas.