the little things

i had the best (privaten) bus 19 ride last night. the bus itself was roomy and immaculate (not only by general Skopje bus standards) there was a working radio and sound system, and the bus driver was playing classical and opera. i really wanted to go up to the guy and just shake his hand for a job well done.

it did make up for the 'how to keep an american idiot busy for at least an hour' game that the komerzialna banka employees were playing earlier in the afternoon. i have to open a bank account to get my SPA project in motion. easier said than done. i went to the branch in the trgovski center, they said no, i have to go on the other side of the vardar to the main branch. ok. there are about 4 different entrances, i pick door #2. i explain in broken macedonian: треба да отворам нересидентна денарска сметка, or i need to open a non-resident denar account. one person said its not possible, i refused to leave so she asked someone else, who then said i cant have a denar account, but a foreign currency account and gave me a form, but said i needed to go to one of the other 3 entrances to actually get an account. i am familiar with this game after trying to send packages with ajvar to the US at various post offices in skopje. needless to say, when the employees at the other entrance gave me the same spiel and told me to go back to where i just was, i walked out, shaking my umbrella vigorously in frustration.

today i returned, armed with a native speaker who did not know english but knew my plight. after some more labyrinthine games, i now hold a non resident denar account and our SPA project can move right along.

at least my bus ride yesterday was nice right?


I've found my peeps.

Most of my life prior to er...sophmore year of college was spent as the weird kid looking in on everything that seemed not awkward. I watched other friends and acquaintances flit through public school like it was the Best Thing Ever while I felt uncomfortable and out of place for about 90% of my waking life. I think I gave up early on trying to fit in and just made the most out of being as nonconformist as possible (and in the process, becoming an attention whore). If you asked me then, I would never never have admitted it.

College was great because I made a few close friends and with those people, I could do anything and everything that was interesting to me and it wasn't awkward (chinese checkers). it didn't make me feel like an outsider. Of course, in the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog that was Marist college, I can't say we were really in our element overall, but we were insulated enough with other people with similar interests that it didn't matter. At least, it didn't matter to me as much as it did in high school.

Grad school further pushed me into a group of people who were so similarly minded, intelligent, driven and dynamic that I don't even remember wondering what the rest of Rutgers Camden was like, in hind sight, this might be better.

My experience thus far in the Peace Corps has been like grad school x 20. There must be a certain pattern of experiences, qualities, interests etc that tend to draw people into the peace corps, making this small cache of about 70 Americans the largest pool of people that I feel totally comfortable around. It feels to me what I always imagined public school being like for all the people that seemed popular. Only in this case, there is significant meaning behind what drives us, attracts us to this work and bonds us together.

(I was trying to get to a point where I could rationalize why I played 3 games of risk over the course of 5 nights of IST rather then go out on the town in Ohrid or do other less nerdy activities.)