Marking Time


It’s been about a year since I came to Macedonia, and I’m pretty sure a post about the innumerable ways in which I’ve changed and grown over the past year is obligatory.* But since I haven’t changed or grown, apart from having a lot more patience with five-year-olds, and particularly with a certain five-year-old who has a palindromic name (perhaps beginning and ending with “a”) I don’t have much to write on that.

(As I’m typing this A. is sitting on my floor playing with my alphabet magnets, trying to match them in pairs, and is singing loudly. And she just explained to me on what days we do and don’t go to school. This is a topic of particular interest today because Bajram begins on Thursday, and we’re not going to have school every day this week.)

I guess that about a year ago I was in Philly for the last time and managed to get sort of lost in Fairmount Park before going for a really, really good beer, the kind that gets even better when you look back on it after a year of almost exclusively drinking Skopso. A year ago, I don’t think I really wanted to come to Macedonia but momentum and a healthy sense of shame carried me forward to staging and a night laying in a hotel room unable to sleep and debating whether my father would drive the three hours back to Washington D.C. to get me and take me home if I pleaded my case in an especially pitiful manner.

I didn’t go to school today because my counterpart told me there wasn’t anything for me to do there. Instead I stayed home and made baklava with my family, then studied for the GRE some, and then sat outside with S. for a while. We figured that I’ve been in Macedonia for about a year now, and that in a couple months I’ll have been in D. for a year. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, and even though the next fourteen months seem endless** I’m starting to realize how fast it’s going to go by. I’m also in this new and weird position of thinking not just about what I’m going to do in Macedonia for the foreseeable future, but what I’m going to do when I get back to the states.***

Also, I am thinking about all my one-year dates because the next group of volunteers is coming in a week or less than that, and I am so relieved that I’m done with staging, training, site visit and using a squat toilet for the first time, that I need some forum through which to express that. Right now, I am really happy to be sitting in my house, surrounded by flashcards and Norton anthologies, with a stomach full of tavche gravche, listening to what I suspect is a new mouse chewing through my wall.

* It is not however obligatory that I post this post on the actual one-year anniversary of my arrival here, because I don’t care that much. And then, where will it end? Should I also do “one year since departing the states?” Or “one year living in D.”? Or “one year until I get to go home and drink good beer again”? Maybe that last one.

** This may be due in part to the daisy chain I made with one link for each week I have left in the country.

*** Unless I want to wait until the fall of 2013 to enter grad school, which I guess is an option and would save me from having to spend hours each day sitting on my floor writing flashcards on things like caesura (that’s the audible pause in the middle of a line of Old English poetry) and the neo-classical unities (basically, ideas of time, place and action that you should follow in order to make your writing extremely boring).


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