Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I've been hanging on to this for awhile. I was going through and deleting old email and thought that I ought to just post this on here so it would be saved for all eternity, or until Blogger gets tired of giving us free space. This was from my friend Kevin who I've lately been really frustrated with. But he is a really thoughtful guy, despite his views on politics which I think to be dangerous. Maybe there are parts that shouldn't be here, but I'm just going to post it verbatim so that it's saved.

Happy birthday. I'm a day late by my clock, but not by yours. I didn't forget. I wanted to write something more than the usual half-thought garbage I come up with on the fly at the internet cafe. I'm always aware as I write those things that time is tenge, and the quality and/or depth of what I write always suffers as a result. So I'm writing this one at my apartment.

It is getting colder in the city, and I'm told March is the coldest month of the year. I suppose I should be happy that we will be traveling south to a slightly warmer climate for our "All Volunteer Conference" at the end of March. I should be happy, but as usual I'm finding it difficult.

I'm doing better in the happiness category. I'm taking comfort in the little things, even thanking God for them, for whatever good that does me. The extra week and a half of vacation was nothing short of a blessing. If I would have had to deal with the Resource Center, Irina, and my school at the same time, I think a vein would have popped in my head. But I am not looking forward to the mass gathering of Americans next month. I will enjoy seeing people I haven't seen for awhile, but it will likely be the last time I ever see them. One 'given' in the Peace Corps is that we are a rag-tag group of people with nothing in common who are temporarily thrown together to share a common set of experiences. Once those experiences are complete, those Peace Corps relationships tend to end too. So I get to go act goofy with a few hundred other people acting goofy. It will be nice to speak English, but that thrill will quickly fade as I realize these people are not my true friends. Those people are still back in America. You are still back in America.

I wish I had the money, or knew people who had the money it would take to fly all my friends here for a visit. The summer months were incredible here and they will be again, and Pavlodar would be a smashing place for a party. Perfect weather, good food and a beach. But instead of that, I'll be hopping on a train for 33 hours, plus a 4 hour bus ride to a dopey village in subzero weather to listen to lectures by people I wouldn't have hired to do entry level work in television. The security coordinator, in particular, is going to hate me. My couple of gigs standing in front of Britney Spears' trailer makes me 10 times as qualified as the dippy broad they hired. I'm still waiting for confirmation of my home address (I sent her three emails two months ago demanding confirmation). Do me a favor, if God forbid something happens to me, hunt the crazy security woman down and beat the crap out of her.

Anywho, apparently Robin Gillispie was near death back in November (I knew it was a crappy month, but it's only been recently that I've learned how truly crappy it was for a great many people). The big tub of goofiness refused to email me to tell me about his troubles. Further, he refused to email any of our mutual friends until he had recovered, for fear one of them might alert me to his condition. While chatting online with me last week he said, while sitting in the hospital, all he could think about was me adding his name next to Pete's in that list of lost friends I have in my head. Now how am I supposed to react to something like that? Then there's Monica, who tells me she's pregnant before she even tells her husband. Even Jon's wife Liisa recently emailed me to tell me she wanted to fly to Tashkent to dump a pile of manure over Olga. And these are people I haven't even seen in years. No, I don't think any of the ya-hoos I met during training at the Peace Corps can compete with that.

As for your pale-skinned self, you have seen my darkest, saddest, and goofiest sides and still talk to me in spite of it all. I'm not really sure if I've seen your darkest or saddest sides... I'm not really sure those sides exist within you, or that they need to. I have seen your goofy side, at least Cheerios out of a pan seemed goofy at the time. You seem to have chosen well with Lori, despite the inherent dangers of forming a relationship online (you and Rush Limbaugh... trailblazers). I hope you find yourself a job that pays what you are worth so you two can settle down someplace, have a kid or three and get on with this thing we call living. If anyone deserves the brass ring in life, it's the two of you.

So that's your birthday letter, in a nutshell. Stay healthy, happy and make a lot of money. Never lose sight of what's important, and never give up. Believe it or not, if you and I were Russians, all this would merely be the preamble to a toast. You and I would have to keep our glasses raised and you'd have to listen to me until all the blood drained from my arm and I was finally forced to take a drink, thus ending the toast. At one cafe I went to, I came with a group of six people and watched a woman at the table next to us deliver a toast that continued until the six of us had eaten. She was still going when we left, and showed no signs of slowing down.

Happy birthday. Watch out for snakes.

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