(All opinions and descriptions of life in Ukraine contained herein are mine. I do not, nor am I qualified to,
express the official opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finishing life up in the city

Well, this is officially my last week in the city. I will be departing for my hometown of Nevada City next weekend. It's kind of crazy looking back at the past three years spent here in San Francisco, and how fast they sped by. I think it was the combination of school/work/and lots of play that really did that. I guess that's what's going to be happening in Ukraine too.

I need to figure out how to just slow time down inside myself. Every time I get to one of these junctions in my life, I feel like time starts to slow down for a bit, but once I'm in motion in a certain spot, it just flies, and before I know it the experience is over.

Here are some things I am going to miss about San Francisco:

1. The people- All the amazing folks I have met in the city. I will miss you all dearly. From my friends that I made at State, to my colleagues at Peets and Sports Basement, you guys were all super awesome, and our special connections will not be forgotten.

2. The Geography- Ok, well it has it's pros and cons, but I am trying my best in life right now to take away the positives from every experience, so here goes. San Francisco is placed in one of the most geographically intense places on earth in my honest opinion. This peninsula is just spectacular. It was hard at first getting used to the climate (really really cold summers, followed by pleasant falls, then really cold winters, springs, summers... rinse and repeat). Well, after getting used to it all, I think I finally realized that this is my type of climate. I mean, it's never too hot, and it's never really too cold. It tends to be a bit windy at times, but mostly, San Francisco is the ultimate climate for an athlete like myself. I mean, I ride my bike everywhere considering I don't own a vehicle anymore, and so this translates into me not really ever getting all that sweaty. Also, playing soccer in these conditions is optimal. I love it. Also, not to mention the amazing views from all the peaks in the city. And don't let me forget the amazing parks that dot the city, especially my beloved Golden Gate park that is literally half a block away from where I live right now. I have truly been blessed.

3. The tough nature of the city- This has been a blessing and a curse in my stay here in SF. I mean, like I said earlier, I am trying to focus on the positive, and in this case the positive was created by a negative. I think my time in SF has been bitter-sweet. I moved down here following my ex-girlfriend at the time, not really knowing what was awaiting me here in this city. The first year or so was a struggle, I didn't know what I was doing really, and what I really wanted from my experience here. After we broke up, I moved out on my own, and that was when I really hit the wall. San Francisco, as a city has so many amazing aspects, but there is one aspect that is kind of an unspoken fact: SF is an intense place to live. The people, the atmosphere, everything here is very fast paced and in your face. So living on my own, I had no filter (we had lived a pretty domesticated life, something I was very acquainted with, and on my own it was as if this option was tugged out from under my feet). I found myself going out constantly, pushing myself to the limit, and in turn falling many times into deep depression. Looking back it all now, I see it for the better. I learned a lot of life lessons about myself and what my limits are, and who I really am. Being alone was the main lesson I learned from this whole experience of living in the city. Being in a big metropolitan city can be the most engaging, and the most isolating experience. There is so much going on, that a lot of times we over look our fellow neighbors, and even room-mates. I have come to understand that learning to be alone is going to be something that is invaluable in life. Having quality alone time, and enjoying it is what it's all about. Inner-monologues, solving problems on your own, teaching yourself to grow, it's all about that. Learning to fulfill you're own needs is the greatest thing I have ever experienced. San Francisco- to you I owe all of this, and I thank and love you for it.

Finally, I will be having a little shindig in my beloved GG park this saturday with all of those whom I have met over the past 3 years. It will be fun, and hopefully, just maybe, the sun will bless us with its presence. I really hope it will. Even if it doesn't, I still will miss this place immensely when I'm gone.

I love you San Francisco, please never change.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sick and tired of waiting!

I'm sick today. It's no fun, but it's not the worst I've ever had. I wish I could have seen it coming. I think I may have, but ignored it. It started a few days ago when my manager called out sick, and then a few people around the store were sneezing/coughing. Also, I have been going non-stop recently. Working 40 hours a week, helping my buddy move into my house, hanging out with the gf, etc... Today was one the first days in a while i did absolutely.... NOTHING. All day. Just sat, read, slept, read some more, ate. It was great. I've come to realize that being by yourself sometimes is the best medicine sometimes. A girl that is going to be serving along side me in Ukraine got in touch with me through this blog the other day and invited me to a facebook group created for groups 39 and 40 going in. I was thrilled to see so many like-minded individuals going in with me. It's going to be really fascinating to meet so many folks that share a common interest in things that I am into. I really can't wait any longer. I just want to be there already. I know it's going to be really tough in the beginning, but hey, what in life isn't hard. I mean, it's a good thing, but just stating the obvious here: life is not meant to be easy and enjoyable all the time. I think that's what I have learned today. While being sick and vulnerable, I learn the most about myself. Getting in touch with the harder side of life is something that is pushing me to become more in touch with myself, and in turn i feel greatful for the many aspects of my life that are easy and great. I've decided to make a list of the things I have taken for granted here in the U.S. growing up with so much:

1. My family- This is a given for me. They are my saving grace, and without them I wouldn't be who I am today.
2. Friends- I have had some really good ones here, I really feel like they have taught me a lot about myself. Especially childhood friends, and present and ex-girfriends.
3. Hot running water- yes I have traveled many places where running water, let alone hot water is not readily available.
4. Food- This was going to be higher up on the list, but i lowered it due to the fact that when it really comes down to it, I am not a picky eater. I just love food. Growing up in California has been a blessing, we truly have some of the best/freshest/most delicious produce and food items on the planet.
5. Safety- I guess not all of California is super safe, but growing up in Nevada County was a gift from above. I mean, we didn't ever have to lock the doors to my house, I could run around freely and not have a care in the world, other than the mean pitbull terrier down the street.
6. Education- While many of us have gripes over our public education system, it's still a whole lot better than most countries. While i'm not the most prepped student, I'd still consider myself very into learning new things, and consider myself extremely fortunate to have a BA in photojournalism.
7. Financial Abundance- While money doesn't equate into happiness, it still is something necessary to our modern existence. Being broke is no fun either. Luckily, my family has never been broke, and I have always had a job and never had issues with money. Currently, the only debt I owe is a few grand for school loans, and that's being put off by the PC, so don't even have to worry about that 'til i get back.

All in all, it's a good life. I mean, getting this kind of opportunity to go and live, learn, teach, and just give is going to be great. I really can't wait any longer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Packing, Waiting, Dreaming

Roughly one and a half months left 'til departure. So many things going on. A good friend of mine just sublet my roomate's room while he is Costa Rica, and the last week has been all about moving him in. Just reminds me why I hate moving so much. But in contrast, this move back home from the city should be pretty mellow. I'm leaving most of my stuff in the city, so there is not too much for me to take. Just some books and other odds and ends. Life has been really good recently, very positive. I think I have taken the city for granted for a while now, and this last month is going to be great because I am taking full advantage of the wonderful things to be had here. I have been biking much more, as I should, considering I work at a bike shop. I have also been cooking more, and trying to explore the city more with Katie. It's been good times here. I will never forget what San Francisco has done for me. It really has matured me way more than I would have imagined.

So now, I play the waiting game. I am supposed to hear from SATO travel which is the Peace Corps' branch of travel. They are supposed to send me some tickets within the month. That's pretty much the final straw before I get up out of here. It's crazy to think I will be leaving for Ukraine in less than 2 months! Weird.

I've also been dreaming a lot recently. Considering my mother is a dream therapist, I do not take dreams for granted. I have had some weird dreams about haunted houses, playing professional baseball, and traveling back in time. I feel like I am going through the transition of a life time, and this culminating experience of leaving is probably the driving force behind all these subconscious thoughts. Also, those of you that have watched the movie Inception, know that dreams are not something to be messed with. The other night, I had a dream that a woman was talking to me about how awesome I am, and that I am really growing up. It was crazy, because midway through her sentence I remember turning to her and saying: "I know these things already, remember? You're just part of myself." She proceeded to smile and just walk away as if she had nothing else to tell me. It was intense because now that I think about it, I have never taken control of my dream before this way. As if to tell myself, "Hey, I know who I am, you don't have to remind me."

I feel like the dream above underlines this period in my life: I know who I am, and I know where and why i'm going. The countdown is nigh.