Burning Out

24/9/15 – 30/9/15

I feel that I have very little control over my feelings these days. I oscillate between feeling pure excitement for the future and then sadness at how things fall apart. I spent all of Thursday editing my resume and contacting old references from college, my internship, and Peace Corps in order to complete a job application in Maryland. I had to reread some of my old blog posts from study abroad and college in order to piece together the dates of my old employment and internship. The weirdest part was opening up my old college .edu email account where all of my old emails were stored. I had forgotten the people and administrators with whom I used to talk.

I spent the majority of the day working on applications and then treating myself to sandwiches and salads at Kampala cafes. I got emotional as I saw Ugandan families treating themselves out to nice restaurants because it was Eid. On Friday I finally closed my PCPP Grant with Peace Corps and Washington, which took much longer than I expected even though I had tallied all of the numbers together on an Excel spreadsheet. I then traveled to Fort Portal to participate in the West Welcome Weekend where the newest PCV’s in the Runyoro-Rutooro speaking areas of Uganda came together to celebrate with the older PCV’s in that region. I was honestly surprised at how cool the new PCV’s were, and how I wanted to get to know them better.

Usually at this point, PCV’s don’t really want to invest the time in getting to know the newest PCV’s and instead want to just spend quality time with the older ones. I guess that I felt excited to hang out with some PCV’s who reminded me of friends I used to have back in the United States. During the weekend we ate Indian food, drank, went out clubbing at Forest, swam at Ndali Crater Lake, drank some more, ate some pizza, and chilled hardcore as we pretended that it was Fall and Winter in the cooler western region. It’s been a long time since I laughed this hard or enjoyed myself as much as I did swimming in a beautifully sketchy crater lake or convinced everyone to play a categories drinking game involving a shuttlecock and rackets.

However, the hardest part was making it back home. We left the “high” of the weekend and were welcomed by the hot, stinky atmosphere of Kampala before a rainstorm. I just didn’t want to return home. After a last-minute burger at Iguanas, I made it to the Wobulenzi taxi and then boarded my dusty bicycle. A few minutes into the ride I started feeling better because the bodamen and children greeted me by name. My happiness soon faded as a truck full of Ssebo’s (men) passed by me and one of them threw a rock that hit me in the face. I was so stunned that I stopped the bike and stared at them as they whooped and hollered at me. I brushed the dust off my face and continued on my ride as the sun set. I made it back home well after dark, and wanted to pass out on my bed and cry. I can’t explain why I’m so emotional these days, but I’m a complete wreck.

Where There Is No Checklist

22/6/14

For the first time in a long time I didn’t leave my site this weekend. I have been able to meet all of my obligations for the time being: training sessions, submitting the ICT Lab PCPP (Peace Corps Partnership Program) Grant, finishing up the physics unit for Year 1, emailing organizations for potential project collaborations, grading tests, editing writing club papers, and establishing Nakaseke Community Radio segment with Mary. I have been so busy since IST, that I forgot how it felt to have a free weekend without any obligations to anyone. My biggest worries this weekend was whether or not the milk I bought was already pasteurized or if I was spending too much time playing Age of Empires II.

I actually have a running checklist saved as a Word document that has a list of things to eventually accomplish along with important details and information regarding them. As of this moment the checklist has a bunch of errands to accomplish, but I either have to be in Kampala to accomplish them or wait until another party accomplishes their end of the task. For example, I’ve already sent in my grant application, but I can’t work on actual fund-raising until Peace Corps Washington Headquarters allows it to go up on the website. I also need to do some work on the internet; however, I would require the real 3G+ speed that I can easily obtain once in Kampala. Then there are those tasks that I can’t accomplish because they occur in the future, such as the Central Luganda satellite liaison visit to the PCVTs in Mityana during their homestay month.

So I just chilled and enjoyed myself this weekend. But just like in college, I get restless and antsy when I find myself with nothing pressing to work on for more than a few days. I feel as if I get insecure comparing myself and wondering what more I could do with my time rather than just sit in my room and play a computer game or marathon watch Community.

In order to find a balance between enjoying my downtime and fulfilling my need to experience something new/challenging, I biked around some new paths around the hills of the sub-county. Yesterday I discovered that beyond the Kabaka’s palace is the Mulajje parish whose church is celebrating its 100th anniversary. I was told that in its heyday it could hold over 10,000 parishioners, but now barely a fraction of them make it to a service. Today I biked up the pathways of the hills to the west of Bamunanika and discovered a upwards sloping pathway. I noted how the houses in the sub-county are all equidistantly spread apart along the sides of a pathway or road.

I liked to imagine what the Ugandans thought of me as I rode my bike past their houses. I could tell that they were confused and wondered what I was doing there. The children were all excited to see me and would run up to my bike and yell, “Bye muzungu!” Eventually I found my way to the tallest point of the path and took a small break on a rocky outcropping named Impango Hill. It was literally some Ugandan’s backyard with tons of goats around me. Beyond me in the distance were the rolling hills of the Luweero sub-county that undulated beyond me until it met the open sky. For the next ten minutes I finally felt at peace for a while. Of course the quiet had to end and I had three Ugandan men approach me to ask in a high-pitched voice about my laptop.

I couldn’t get upset, because I knew that sooner or later this eventually happens whenever a muzungu stays in one place too long in an area inhabited mainly by Ugandans. I calmly explained to them that I understood them better when they didn’t speak to me in a high-pitched voice and left to go back to Bamunanika to buy tomatoes, eggs, and rice for dinner.