You’ve probably gathered that I’m home now. The biggest question I’m getting is “How is the culture shock?” and I’m surprised to say that the culture shock isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The jet lag, however, was brutal. I’m talking, half-zombie-for-five-days-straight-disgustingly-tired-which-way-is-up? BRUTAL. I’m breaking out of the tiredness and I’m finally able to form complete sentences and the fact that I was ready to blog again speaks wonders for the energy level.
The second biggest question was “Now What?” which is fair. I’m staying with my grandparents for the immediate time-being. They have a whiteboard in the garage, which is generally blank or says Happy Fourth of July; an announcement board for my grandma’s painting group. I don’t know if my grandparents thought they would send me a subtle message, or if it was strange coincidence, but when I got home the board said in plain letters that could be read from anywhere in the room “THEN WHAT” Which was sort of difficult to look at, since I didn’t know what came next. I would have stayed gone even longer if I felt like I could have. I was not ready to come home and now I’ve found myself in a country where everything is ten times as expensive as they were in Nepal.
I’m having a hard time adjusting to the food too. When I stepped off the 20 hour flight from Kathmandu (32 hours with layover time), I made my brother wait 2 hours for Chipotle to open. It was amazing; worth the 670 Nepali Rupees I paid for it. I’m eating more bread, which I was used to living without and I can feel my body reacting to all the salt I’m consuming. I miss the made-from-scratch momos and rice with lentils and how natural they felt. On the other hand, I’m happy to have peanut butter again. Once a Yank, always a Yank.
One of the worst moments of culture shock came at about 1 am two days ago. Growing up in two households; my mother’s and my father’s, I’ve always done this thing where I wake up in the middle of the night and don’t know where I am. I still do it as an adult and even when I was living alone in the same apartment for a year, I still felt that way, but the answer was always “you’re in your apartment, Dummy. Go back to sleep.” But two nights ago, I had the same experience and asked my inner-voice (who really can back a jerk, but we’re on better terms since we had so much time together in Thailand) to tell me “You’re still in Nepal, stupid. Go to sleep.” Actually, that is what I said, but as I looked around the room I knew something wasn’t right and it hit me like an icy-cold snap of reality that I was in America. In that moment I traveled 7,500 miles in a matter of seconds and it left me breathless, confused and profoundly sad. And then my BFF, the inner voice, said “You flew here, remember the guy who stole your pillow on the plane? The long line through immigration in New Jersey? The purgatory-like waiting room for international transfers in Delhi? You didn’t warp here. You came here. Of your own free will. Now go back to sleep. Stupid.”
Ok, time zone shit and other little cultural blunders aside, I got back and needed to find work. I spent nearly all of my money having the time of my life and now it’s time to get back to reality…sort of. I’ll probably never go back to having my feet not only firmly on the ground, but buried 3 feet deep to keep me serious and focused on the wrong priorities of life. While in Nepal, Sid and Raluca asked what I want for work. What I’ll look for and the following were my demands:
- A flexible schedule. Something that doesn’t occupy every good minute of the day.
- Something I can leave at work and not carry home with me.
- Something that pays roughly what I made before, but otherwise the pay doesn’t matter.
- Something that starts ASAP
And that’s it. And I got it. 4 days after my plane touched the ground, I accepted a job that met those demands.
“That’s kind of bullshit that you get to quit your job to travel and then as soon as you get home you find a job.” declared my brother John in a level of honesty that I deeply appreciate.
So allow me to defend myself, because I have never been “lucky” and I don’t think this is a fluke. I lose more valuables than everyone I know. Combined. My severe animal allergy developed within a year of declaring my intention to be a veterinarian. I never win raffles or other small competitions that rely on luck and it seems like every time I take a multiple choice test and get down to two possibly correct answers, I “randomly select” the wrong one. This isn’t luck. Luck isn’t something I can claim and something I don’t know the feel of. This is bigger than that. First of all, this is a statement to the former employer who tried to tell me and my coworkers that we are easily replaceable, as I replaced them without blinking. It was a message to all the hard working, intelligent people I know who feel stuck in their jobs that better is out there. I will never say the words “you should feel lucky you have a job” to anyone. Ever. To me it’s like telling a woman in an abusive relationship to “feel lucky that you have a husband” both statements are unhealthy for that person’s confidence and flatly wrong.
Still, I must be honest and say that it wasn’t exactly just 4 days of searching for this job. I applied for the job while I was still in Kathmandu and gave them my mom’s phone number. They called for an interview, she messaged me and I skyped them. We were really smooth about it until they asked me to come in for an interview two days before I would arrive in Colorado and I had to say a few words I never dreamed I would say “I’m sorry. I can’t come in for an interview, as I am in Kathmandu, Nepal.” Oddly, they were willing to postpone the interview. I landed on Friday, interviewed Tuesday and accepted the job on Wednesday. Hence: “that’s kind of bullshit.”
Beyond all of that, is a concept that has been explained to me before, but I am only now starting to understand. A few times now it has happened that as soon as I decide, without doubt, what I want and make that declaration, I got it. Wanting “things to be better” or to “somehow get money” will get me nowhere, but making the list of demands for my job made me know what I was asking for. It’s nothing that is unique to me. Too often, I sat on the sidelines and threw out useless desires “a better job”, “to be happy” or even to be a different person entirely; to have this or that person’s life. Since I’ve gotten past all that negative thinking and waste of time, the way things turn out is total bullshit. Completely bullshit. Beautiful bullshit.