Mission (almost) Accomplished

Back when I used to do a bit of distance running, I would experience a thing that is well-known and well-documented in the running world called “post-marathon depression” (or any number of other similar titles). Now, we know this isn’t the real-deal depression (it’s not. not even close.), but it smacks of the same stuff.

And right now, as I sit here on the bed where I’ve usually sat amongst piles of papers, drafted endless emails, written presentations, and reviewed endless strings of others’ slides, I’m feeling it.

On Saturday, the students in the course I’ve been coordinating/teaching took their final exam. Afterwards, I was going to go home and take a nap before Friendsgiving (a celebration of epic proportions that deserves its own post) but couldn’t stop myself from going to a coffee shop and grading them immediately. Of course, they all did splendidly, after worrying and studying and perpetually (jokingly) asking me for the answers in advance. That group of 13 is what has made this all worthwhile. Because it’s been a bitch at times, to be completely honest. Sure, the sheer number of hours to log was exhausting, but it was the emotions that went with both the direct and indirect work I had to do that was really the draining piece.

Frustration, sadness, guilt, fear, anger.

But also satisfaction, connection, acceptance, joy.

But right now, I’m really feeling the post-major-project let-down.

You know you did good work. You met the goal. You persevered through the tough times. You kept doing your absolute best even when you thought you’d collapse. You figuratively kept putting one foot in front of the other, hoping the rest of your self could keep up at the blistering pace. YOU DID IT!

And now it’s done.

Now what?

People say things like, “On to bigger and better things!” and “On to the next adventure!”  And I get how that’s supposed to be helpful, but it really just sets up the expectation that I need to move on to bigger and better and MORE ADVENTUREY things from here. But really I just wanna eat a sammich and sit on the couch for a few hours.

So while it may not be on to biggerbettermoreadventurey things, it is, nearly as excitingly, “On to meetings about a new job!” and “On to finding an apartment!” (which will both likely be posts in the near future).

Side View of Selfie
Side View of Selfie after the Final Exam


The students in the course I’m coordinating and partially teaching took their midterm today. They’re half way through the course (and evidently retaining a lot of info from the looks of midterm scores so far). Which means my work here is well over half finished.

Just this week, I started to really, really feel like I’m just living and working here. Like, this is where I live. I don’t feel like I’m exploring more than I did back in D-town. I don’t feel like the day-to-day life is so novel any more.

I guess this just happens.

I was asked today if the honeymoon period was over. Seems so.

The excitement of crossing a road for the first time (seriously) is gone. Now biking in the traffic feels like just something that happens (albeit joyfully). There are no longer any flutters of excitement (or anxiety) about getting a tuk tuk, or going to the market, or telling the sandwich lady I don’t want meat. It all just starts to feel ordinary. Thanks, brain! (why isn’t there a ‘sarcasm’ font variant like there is underlining or italics?)

There are a zillion things that would likely still seem interesting compared to life back “home”. When a new instructor comes, I get to hear about all the things that I don’t see as new any more. How hard the rain falls and how big the puddles get and how the traffic gets all messy when it rains. How all the tuk tuk drivers try to get them to pay way more than they need to and how they never know where they’re going and how you have to try to tell them in English where you’re trying to go. How it’s so hot that you just sweat all the time and how you can barely stay hydrated and how you can barely stand to walk anywhere without nearly cooking. All the things I was likely saying a few months ago.

I mean, I’m still learning so much every moment. About how to establish boundaries. About how to find, schedule and pay interpreters. About how to be compassionate. About so many things my head spins some days. But not in an explore-y kind of way.

I guess this is where Phase 2 begins. Explore outside the city? Travel on weekends? Seek out events in town? Find novelty within the day-to-day? We shall see where it goes.

Maybe next week I’ll send you pictures of all the meat I’ve been eating lately. Not kidding…. Gotta find novelty somewhere, right? Poor animals, lucky palate.

Behind on Blogging (…and about the Beach)

People say they want me to post often. And, trust me, it’s not for lack of raw content. You should see my Google Keep list of possible blog topics and my ongoing blurbs that I’ve saved in Docs when I get three minutes to write. But, honestly, I’m not sure where to find the (1) time, (2) energy, or (3) processing abilities to post more often! Whew!

I find that, every time I actually find time to write, too, I end up with seven different posts in every writing. So I delete and expand and cut and delete and cut and go back to the cut content to expand on it and scrap all the stuff I’ve written and start over and… You get the idea. It’s never a “sit down with an idea and write about it within a tidy little package until you are done” situation. 

Also, while my topics may at times seem incredibly “surface” (shallow, unimportant), it’s the processing that goes on behind the scenes that takes the energy. Sometimes, all the heavy stuff, the stuff that makes me exhausted, that keeps me up at night, that brings tears to my eyes, that leaves me feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and empty? Much of that stuff ends up on the proverbial cutting room floor in favor of a story that gives a better view of how “different” things are here.

But it is those differences that are interesting, aren’t they? The different food (don’t worry, this is a blog post in the making), the different cultural aspects (don’t worry, this is a blog post in the making), the different work I’m doing (don’t worry….)…

Some things, can feel pretty damn familiar, though. I found myself, after working 12- and 14-hour days for days on end, loudly thinking, “If I’m going to work this much, I could be working this much at home and making ten times the money I’m making here!” And then I thought, “But Julie, you’re HERE!” And so while the number of hours right now might be the same, it IS different work. With different people. With students who speak a different language. In a different country. On a different side of the globe. And for a gal who actively values the different, this is a goddamn gift, really.

My biggest fear is that the whole course would be too serious. Fear assuaged when I laughed hysterically with this group starting on the first night and haven’t stopped since.

And the minutes in-between those long work days? Well, when I get invited to the beach for the weekend by SLT1 and newly-met SLT3, it makes it all worthwhile. They beat me down there as I had to teach all day Saturday, but when I arrived in Otres Beach, the 5-hour bus ride was worth it. Over the next day and a half, I saw beach dogs that made me want to snuggle them until they scratched hard enough to convince me it wasn’t a good idea. I slept under a mosquito net (I looooove me a good mosquito net!). I took a boat trip and snorkeled where I saw coral and urchins that looked like living cartoons. I saw the water turn a lovely green when a storm showed up in the distance. I snorkeled (again) above fish that looked like they were rainbows incarnate. I got a pedicure/manicure/massage on the beach. I shared drinks out of coconuts (and had plenty of drinks out of glasses). And I found myself, multiple times, spontaneously giggling and dancing jigs in disbelief at my luck at this charmed life. This different life.

The view from our room.
This dog and his best buddy next door (not pictured) were incredibly entertaining!
The colors of the water changed so drastically with the changing sky.
Beached for lunch.
Our boat driver (is there a special word for that?) couldn’t have been a day over 12, but he not only navigated the boat well, he started the engines by holding a wire connected to a battery to another wire on the engine with a cringe that belied the pain he knew possible with this connection, and he led us up through the jungle to jump off a cliff. In his underwear.