The Time Between

It seems to be an unwritten rule (and is actually an officially-written suggestion) that every Peace Corps Volunteer has a blog. Before the internet, I think they all just wrote books – several of which I have read, a few of which were actually worth reading. So here is my web-log. (Did you know that’s where the word blog comes from? How quickly we forget.) I won’t actually ship off to Paraguay until September, but I’ve decided to begin writing this a bit early because I don’t know what to do with myself now that I am no longer a student.

4 months: the time between when I graduated from college and when I will leave for the Peace Corps. It’s not really enough time to get a “real job” if you are, as I am, unwilling to withhold information about your imminent departure from the country.

8,000: the number of dollars I need to SAVE (after living expenses) in order to pay 27 months of interest on my deferred student loans and to have an emergency travel fund for flying anywhere from Paraguay. (#sorrynotsorry for talking about money in such direct terms).

My challenge: find a temporary job here in DC that pays a pretty ridiculous amount of money for roughly 3 months of work. Back in April, I thought I had completed this challenge. Unfortunately, the job I was counting on fell through in May – 2 days after graduation, when I was already half way back to NH for a visit.

So here I am, back where I was? UNEMPLOYED? …IN GREENLAND?  (Please excuse the Princess Bride reference. I’m actually in Washington, DC.) Luckily for me, and for what I am sure will be millions of blog readers, this situation is ripe with funny stories. Maybe not funny in the lol-ing way, but certainly funny in the “I never thought I’d find myself here!” way.

For instance, I spent one day babysitting a sick baby who couldn’t go to daycare. Have you ever wondered how much someone would have to pay you to expose yourself to a mysterious virus? Apparently my answer is $20/hour… Still waiting to see if I will display symptoms…. If nothing else,  watching a young child always gives my the much-appreciated reminder that 1. I would like to have children some day and could probably keep them relatively unharmed for at least a short period of time, but 2. I will be very happy to wait another 10 years to have said children. For instance, it’s always wonderful to see how delighted small children are by simple things, like ducks (granted, who isn’t delighted by ducks? And also ducks aren’t simple organisms)… but those college orientation conversations (hometown? major? spirit vegetable?) begin to seem intellectually stimulating by the time a baby demands a 20th reading of the same plot-less board-book (probably called Baby Learns [Colors/Numbers/Shapes] And Wonders How To Be One of Those Baby Models Who Wears a PINK Dress or a BLACK jacket or TWO Shoes). And it’s really adorable when a baby falls asleep on your lap… and then wakes up immediately after you place her in the crib, dooming you to forever hold your pee and never wash off the baby food coated across your shoulder. Parents, you are some tough cookies, and also probably more than a little insane.

In other “babysitting” news, one evening I ventured out to a wealthier neighborhood of the city for an interview with a mother’s personal assistant. There were silver trays, marble staircases, a sizable household staff, and an entire second house attached in back. Appropriately, I played Monopoly with the most competitive deal-maker of a 11-year-old I’ve ever encountered (which is saying something, since I knew myself as an 11-year-old).

I have also been tutoring online. I shared a Facebook status recently about one session in which I spent 2 hours talking about cats with a man who was learning English. My boyfriend was in the room with me and had trouble suppressing laughter and/or the desire to strangle someone as I repeated over and over sentences like “yes, sometimes she BITES me. Bites, not bite.” That was by far the best student I have had, since he actually wanted to learn and spent time listening to me explain (cat-related) grammar. For the most part, online tutoring seems to involve a complicated diplomacy of trying to get money out of students while also explaining (usually fruitlessly) that my contract and my morals prevent me from just doing their homework for them without actually imparting any of the great wisdom I suddenly possess now that I have a diploma the size of a small house (which, consequentially, I will not own for at least ten years). Most of my prospective pupils also waste a significant amount of both of our times trying to get me to help without having to pay, and then complain about . It is a rather eye-opening experience into some of the less savoring bits of academia/humanity. It also tends to make me feel a bit smug (and then guilty for feeling smug) to learn what some schools consider college-level work. All-in-all, not the worst way to earn some extra cash, but a pretty bad one.

On that note, I better get back to the job hunt. I will keep you, my faithful readers (i.e. those who have read this far down the first page of my newly-started blog) updated on future adventures.Coming soon: comprehensive reviews of DC’s least-visited tourist destinations, starting with those that have the worst online rankings and working our way up.

P.S. In talking about my employment struggles, I just want to acknowledge that I am suffering no great hardship. I am immensely privileged to be a college graduate who has voluntarily chosen a virtually unpaid position and whose biggest struggle is trying to SAVE thousands of dollars rather than just make enough to get by. The number of layers of fall-back options I have is astounding my global, national, and DC standards.




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