An Apology to Everyone

I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that I am incredibly slightly annoying. This has been most recently confirmed a short 10 minutes ago.

Actual phone conversation with John:

Me: HEEEELLLLLOOOOO! I just got home from work, where are you? I’m STARVING!!!!

John: Hey, I’m still playing disc golf but I went grocery shopping so you should be able to survive until I get home.

Me: Oh good! I’m in the fridge now. Is this naan bread for me?

John: No

Me: Oh, Ok. Is this loaf of whole wheat bread for me?

John: No

Me: Well, is this old tortilla in the back for me?

John: No

Me: How come there isn’t any doughy stuff for me to eat? What kind-of grocery store did you go to?

John: You told me not to buy you bread anymore because it makes you fat!

Me: Oh, I forgot. Is this ice cream for me?

 

I think you can imagine why John has gone prematurely gray. At the end of the conversation he also informed me that someone was coming over soon and that he needed me to, ” be at a level 4, instead of a normal Jeanette 12″, because this person has a ukelele and I have a history of being overly excitable towards those that play tiny instruments.

Isn’t everyone?

 

So with that in mind, I have decided to dedicate this post to the entire country of India, especially the poor saps (the other volunteers and host families) that were lured into befriending me. I realize now that you were all mislead by my adorable smile and shiny hair. Don’t feel bad it happens to the best.  I truly do apologize though to anyone that came into contact with me,  except maybe Baby Jack, he’s an asshole too.

This is Baby Jack- he once told a homeless man to eat hair. True story.

This is Baby Jack- he once told a homeless man to eat hair. True story.

Let’s use some big words, shall we?

I am an autodidact and therefore can be very bossy. Since I’m smarter than everyone else, I tend to be a bit of a know-it-all and can be very impatient, which surprisingly, isn’t a great trait to have while making new friends. But since we were all mashed together to make this impromptu family, everyone filled an important role, and mine was to be obnoxious. Someone had to do it, and generous, sweetly naive, and sardonic had already been taken.

my poor sweet Lizette, she loved telling everyone that I was a "bad roomie". In her thick accent though it just made me laugh!

my poor innocent Lizette, she loved telling everyone that I was a “bad roomie”. In her thick accent though it just made me laugh

 

The closest thing that could describe this curious dynamic would be a summer camp group, where strangers fill each day with 2 weeks worth of adventure, and it only takes a  week to create lifelong bonds.  We all loved each other for what we were, and for what we weren’t. And together we all survived. Except for Lauren, who never paid attention and was accidentally left behind 2 or 3 times.

the last time we ever saw her.

the last time we ever saw her.

We knew we were a strange group. So it was no surprise that our request for a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama was rejected.  While we were visiting Dharamsala he did a teaching at the Tibetan Children’s Village, so we wandered on over to get a glimpse. After we were told to stop hovering by the door by a man with a machine gun, we settled onto a ledge and patiently waited to sneak in.  We eventually did get to hear him speak, translated from TIbetan to Hindi then to English, via a.m. radio provided by our hero, the mandolin wielding Israeli named Kyle. It was mesmerizing.

Sofie and I enjoying a fart joke told by the holiest man on the planet.

Sofie and I enjoying a fart joke told by the holiest man on the planet. seriously, he told a fart joke!

fart jokes transcend any language barrier

He did also talk about compassion and whatnot. *

* Photo taken by the beautiful Sofia Garza. Also known as the short sneaky one that scolded me for shouting and waving at Mr. Lama. In my defense, he waved back.

 

 

 

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Twelve Thousand and Forty-One Breaths

shaveshopcoconutlaundryveg1floodcolorreedsfruit

work2

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Faces of India

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this guy made melting in the heat look like an art

 

 

two lovely friends near sector 15 market

two lovely women near sector 15 market

 

 

my beautiful host family- Sarita and Guleca ( 5 yrs old)

my beautiful host family- Sarita and Guleca show me where to buy bottled water

 

 

this boy ran alongside us and patted our arms saying, 'I love you' and asking for money. It broke my heart.

this boy ran alongside us and patted our arms saying, ‘I love you’ and asking for money. It broke my heart.

 

 

she washed our floors with a reed broom in 'frog position' everyday- she must have the legs of a running back

she washed our floors with a reed broom in ‘frog position’ everyday- she must have the legs of a running back

 

 

boys buying mangoes

boys buy mangoes and stare at foreigners

 

 

happy old man

happy old man near sector 15 market

 

 

children collecting water near a hindu temple

children collecting water from an outdoor pump near a hindu temple in Faridabad

 

 

sweet little girl

sweet little girl in New Delhi

 

 

Guleca gets a balloon

Guleca gets a balloon

 

 

this baby looks just like my nephew. his mom was tickled when i kissed him and told him i loved him.

this baby looks just like my nephew. his mom was tickled when i kissed him and told him i loved him.

 

 

stunning girl near Delhi

stunning girl in Old Delhi

 

 

this little girl has some mad fashion sense

this little girl has some mad fashion sense

 

 

if Tom Cruise hadn't been cast in Top Gun, this man would've been

if Tom Cruise hadn’t been cast in Top Gun, this man would’ve been

 

 

the poverty is inescapable   we met this woman on our way to the movie theater

the poverty is inescapable we met this woman on our way to the movie theater

 

 

parents are parents in every country

adorable baby in Bir

 

 

tibetan aunties of Bir

tibetan aunties of Bir

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I should shave my head

Before leaving to volunteer in India I was getting WAY to into almond butter and artisanal cheeses.

Seriously, besides school and part-time mentoring I was literally doing nothing productive, nothing remotely worthwhile to save the planet, or the countless people suffering everyday on its surface. Sure, we recycle, but thats only because we produce so much waste and garbage bags ain’t free. I still drove to work in my car, filled it with gas weekly, ate fast-food, and silently judged every homeless man on the street (mostly just this one guy who wears a nicer watch than me, but thats not the point).

Everyone told me I would come back from India a ‘changed woman’, which was only mildly creepy since that sounds like I’m going through menopause. I shooed them away, saying that my life here was perfectly fine and I was completely satisfied so there was no reason to place bets on whether I would come home, Anglina Jolie style with 6 punjabi babies on my hips. Maybe its the jet lag, maybe its the loneliness of no longer being surrounded by foreign people, maybe its ‘THE CHANGE!!!’, but I’ve found since being home, I feel utterly lost and beyond restless. I think I found my purpose in India amongst those tiny monk faces, and now I don’t know what to do.

Maybe I should have taken the rooftop yoga and meditation more seriously.

Ladu the last airbender

Ladu the last airbender

This is Ladu, his name means sweet meat, the type that is both spiced and sugared, it fit him absolutely. He is a precious yet fierce warrior.

You might now be asking yourself why I was even allowed near people in this crazed state of mind, let alone baby spiritual leaders. Well, like everything else in my life,  I just happen to be the one that shows up.

I arrived in Bir, Himachal Pradesh to a shortage of teachers at the Buddhist Monasteries. I was scheduled to work in a local clinic helping with vaccinations, but since we already had one med student (the beautiful Lizette) volunteering, there wasn’t much for me to do. I went to the homeopathic clinic across the street and hung out with a lovely nurse, but there still wasn’t anything for me to do but drink tea and gossip. Seeing as I came to help, and my mom is a teacher I felt that maybe I wouldn’t traumatize the little guys too much. So I put on my best ‘I know what I’m doing face’ and went to teach English to 5 year old magical beings.

soaking up my infinite wisdom and that of 'Peppa Pig'.

soaking up my infinite wisdom and that of ‘Peppa Pig’.

Besides amazing all with my ability to be almost fluent in English, I also helped with a class of older monks, that quickly turned from English conversation into a world history course. I have never seen such passion for strange historical events, it was intoxicating to teach them about the world wars, the European Union, Shakespeare, the war of the roses and Henry VIII, modern day Israel and Palestine. They asked so many questions that Cameron (the smartest person I have EVER known) and I could barely keep up. We started playing the road-trip game ’20 questions’ so that we could learn about famous leaders. We started with U.S. Presidents and somehow ended with one of the cheeky monks picking me as their famous person. We figured it out after these facts were given: 1. American 2. Beautiful (I knew then) 3. Teacher 4. Not Cameron.

History Extravaganza  held at Nyingma Monastery

History Extravaganza held at Nyingma Monastery

Now I ask, HOW; after befriending buddhists, after shaping young precious minds, after being a FAMOUS person for christ’s sake!, how do I adjust back to my life of being just that loud white girl who lives upstairs?

Here look at some more pictures while I have my existential meltdown.

Chokling Monastery, view from my roof

Chokling Monastery, view from my roof

Main classroom

Main classroom

relaxing after a hard day of learning verbs

relaxing after a hard day of learning verbs

I don't know whats happening here, but lets just say they're learning

I don’t know whats happening here, but lets just say they’re doing magic

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Namaste Bitches!

Nothing screams ‘Lentil-Induced Mental Breakdown’ more than a filthy, sun scorched American folded into a bright green Punjabi suit flittering around the Delhi airport. Except for maybe this photo. Taken lovingly by my pal Sarah as part of our, ‘ you only get hepatitis once’ plan on how to tackle India. Also on our list 1. nose rings 2. tattoos 3. dancing (which always leads to at least hep. A)  and 4. cute tibetan waiters (we are suckers for men in crocheted head-bands).

every time I used a squatty potty a little sanity was lost..

every time I used a squatty potty a little sanity was lost..

I’ve survived India, yo!

Now, before I lead you through my epic journey of spiritual enlightenment by way of hauntingly beautiful photographs. I declare to all who read this blog, that this adventure and no other, now and forever be known only as… ‘The Month without Dignity’.

Let’s begin.

our first Hindi lesson leaves us all fluent in Spanish, Scottish and Chinese.

our first Hindi lesson leaves us all fluent in Spanish, Scottish and Chinese.

 

I’ve been told that the Hindi words for ‘tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’ are actually the same word. I can’t be certain though since the only Hindi word I know is ‘flipflop’ (completely useful when trying to find a toilet or food or just survive). This would however, explain the Indian concept of time and space quite well, to which they have none. There was a lovely ‘go with flow’ mentality over mealtimes. Appointments turned out to be mere suggestions. Taxis would arrive on whichever day they felt that you should be going. It was actually very freeing until I needed to get in line at the post-office, which was nothing short of a mosh-pit of screaming people placing stamps where no stamps should ever go (lefty will never be the same).

Sarah, Lauren and Stephanie wait for the bus that never came… Lauren was later stabbed for being so perky.

I really did find this quirk endearing at first, since I also never know what time it is or why people have stopped inviting me for dinner. But even my patience was tested after waiting 4 hours for our air conditioned bus to deliver us from the savage Delhi heat. We had just finished our  week of Hindi lessons in Faridabad and were anxiously awaiting our escape north to begin volunteer work amongst the majestic Himalayas. Instead we found ourselves trapped next to the highway on a plot of dust, where the only place to relieve our teeny lady bladders was behind a trash fire in front of half dressed children and wild dogs. After sweating our balls off in 46C heat, we were lucky to be able to piss at all, really. Delirious from dehydration and exhaustion it was only a matter of time before someone snapped. It was Sarah. We had no choice, we put her down. Just kidding! We started singing.

Sing Jason Mraz or perish!

Hannah and Shawna were big fans of my voice

Hannah and Shawna, melting even at 10pm

Now enjoy these completely non-sequential photos of people you will never meet.

the only other option- the trusty Tuk Tuk

Lorna expertly sells the only other travel option- the trusty Tuk Tuk

Inside view

Inside view

Simon's appropriate response to  the local driving ability

Simon appropriately responds to the local driving ability

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Delhi transportation at its finest

Stay tuned for the next edition, featuring such topics as,  ‘Salty Milk? Food or Foe?’, ‘Rooftop Lurking, only creepy if you get caught’, and ‘Tibetans Gone Wild’

Categories: Awesome | 1 Comment

Its not about the children

Since deciding to go to India ( just a few short months ago), I find myself being the object of great admiration and praise. People just won’t shut-up about how awesome I am! I totally don’t deserve it. Sure, I’m risking my life to go into a country that has sweeping blackouts and parasite laden water to help the sick and underprivileged. But, whatever, I’m no hero.

 

 

I saved this frog

I saved this frog through dance

 

Seriously though, you wanna know why I’m going to India in 3 days? It’s because I don’t speak Spanish. Really, that is the entire reason. See, I originally found out about this volunteer tourism thing through a friend of mine who went to Guatemala. She made safe stoves for cooking and gave basic healthcare to a bunch of indigenous tribal people. I  (always looking for a reason to travel) thought that sounded like an amazing way to spend the summer and have someone else pay for me to galavant around the southern hemisphere. Turns out it is actually very expensive and they didn’t want me!! Apparently, my super modest friend never told me she speaks fluent Spanish and is a total humanitarian badass! But since I’m extremely stubborn and had already drank 4 double shot chai lattes, I was far too invested to give up. Luckily, the very patient lady emailed and said they needed a resolute underachiever for a position in Northern India and she thought I would be perfect for it. So today, on this very rainy Memorial Day, I am charging my camera battery and packing my ink pens and inhaler for an adventure of a lifetime. No need to thank me.

 

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I’m mostly afraid of the typhoid

I leave for India in 15 days and I am freaking out! It is not that I have never travelled before, but that I have never travelled somewhere that is so intent on killing me ( and my bowels). The malaria, the typhoid, the hep A in the water, the spicy food and only just a hole in the floor to poop in!

To conquer my growing paranoia I am going to become super organized and productive. I have decided to start packing today.

stethoscope and TP is all you need!

stethoscope and TP is all you need!

I have thus far decided that I need copious amounts of anti-shitting medicine, toilet paper and my stuffed manatee.

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Ta Da! Manny the Traveling Manatee!

I'd carry it in my backpack and spray it water whenever it looked limp

Ta Da! Real life Manny! I’d carry it in my backpack and spray it with water whenever it looked limp

Good thing I have found a lovely website called herpackinglist.com It has been so much more informative than ‘pack toys’, and ‘cry until sleepy’.

**I have since renegotiated with Manny about his participation in this trip; after reading about bed bugs and lice and all other crawly thingy’s that would love to cuddle up in his fur. I’m starting to  think I should shave my head before I go to for the same reason.

More to come after this regularly scheduled nap…

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Snow falling on Atlas

my boot is wet

this lake is wet

As you can see, it is winter again and we are still at the lake. We had planned to move into an affordable loft downtown but as luck (and inexperience) would have it, we were swindled. Left without a down payment we didn’t have many other options, so we stayed. I guess it’s not too bad, we aren’t able to save any money, but we did find an awesome roommate who likes to have snowball fights and movie nights.

her nose is wet

this nose is wet

 

 

 

For those of you who are not from around here, Michigan winters are incredibly frustrating. The day you plan to go skiing it is 40and raining, and the day you plan to go for an evening jog it is 5and blizzarding. So as usual, I was surprised on my drive home from work/school today that it was super icy and I had no control of my brakes and could barely see the bus I almost careened into.

 

these trees are wet

these trees are wet

 

 

The best part of winter is snow

Falling snow is silent. Birds aren’t chirping, traffic is muffled; its like wearing cold headphones or having frozen cotton balls in your earholes. I love walking slowly, as it drifts down around me. Sometimes when it is really late at night and the sky is clear I imagine that I am an astronaut floating around in space, fully absorbed in the stillness that surrounds me.

 

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I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts

Dee da lee dee!

I will be heading to India in June!!!!

I will be heading to India in June!!!!

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Bouncing into Retirement

Today, I am officially too old to be in a bounce house.

I was frolicking with my niece, Evelyn, at the local Jimmy Buffett themed bouncey establishment, when out of nowhere, I felt a grisly *click*. Anyone older than 30, may know this feeling as that of their youth being violently ripped out of them.

In other words, I put my back out, while bouncing! I have since ordered anti-aging cream, slippers and a life insurance policy bequeathing everything to my dog, Atlas.

To be fair, I don’t know for sure if it was Jimmy Buffett themed, but there was a parrot and it made me uncomfortable.

So, while I recover from my humiliating back pain, I will bestow upon you, photos of the last few months along with various amounts of excuse for not writing sooner.

Noah and I fed a giraffe, while this nice zoo man recorded us... hmmm, I have never seen that footage, maybe he didn't work for the zoo after all...

Noah and I fed a giraffe, while this nice zoo man recorded us…hmm, I have never seen that footage, maybe he didn’t work for the zoo after all…

John put a hat on a cat, John put a cat on a hat.        John no longer has hat or cat privileges.

John put a hat on a cat, John put a cat on a hat. John no longer has hat or cat privileges.

Barbara, Celeste, Ko and  I bring holiday cheer to Depot Town!

Barbara, Celeste, Ko and I brought holiday cheer to Depot Town! I also brought the santa beard and my sweet triangle skills!

I enjoy pretending John is famous and I'm his paparazzi. Look! John pumps gas, just like a real person!

I enjoy pretending John is famous and I’m his paparazzi. Look! John pumps gas, just like a real person!

oh, and I went to class and wore a lot of mustaches with my friend Danielle

Oh, and I went to class and wore a lot of mustaches with my friend Danielle

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