Sunday, January 30, 2011

I am working on my Zen

I am trying my hardest to remain calm and not worry about the fact that I might not be leaving in March. The last contact I had with the Peace Corps was an email saying, "You should hear from your Placement Specialist no later than the first week of February if you are being invited to the program to which you were initially nominated." As February fast approaches, I am nervous. I have pretty much decided that I probably will not be leaving in March, which makes me incredibly sad, frustrated, and ultimately in limbo. However, cue "Let it Be" by the Beatles. I am not in CONTROL. And I can do nothing about this. This is where you learn flexibility and patience. Thank you Peace Corps for my first lessons. Although I knew this prior to going in, it is hitting me hard now like a slap in the face.

I have been spending this wonderful time awaiting contact from the Peace Corps doing various things.
1. I spent some time in Pittsburgh with my best friend Julia
2. I have been reading everything and anything on my Kindle. Recent reads: 1. Down the Nile 2. A House in Fez 3. What's Right With Islam 4. Room 5. Anna Karenina
3. I have been glued to Al-Jazeera following the Arab world (so crazy to think I was just in Egypt in October)
4. Teaching myself to breakdance via YouTube. (No, this will not be helpful for the Peace Corps)
5. Failing at Operation Bacon. Yes, I suck at Meat Eating. Please do not judge me until I get my country assignment.

I have been doing some volunteering at the local food bank and I am about to start my temporary job to make some money, so I am not a complete waste of space since graduating!

Until I hear...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Operation Bacon

I have decided to kick off the new year by officially starting this blog about my future Peace Corps experience. January 1st is typically a time for so called resolutions where people decide that today is that day that they will dramatically change their lives for the better. I can't say that I buy into this whole phenomenon. I am more of the mind set that you should implement any change you see necessary as soon as possible. However, with the start of January and my hopefully impending departure in March the reality of the Peace Corps is forcing me to realize that I am going to have to make some serious changes in my life. One of those changes is my diet. I have given this quite a bit of thought and I have decided that I am going to give up my vegetarianism/90% veganism during my Peace Corps service.

My rationale for this decision whether you disagree with it or not is the following: I became vegetarian for purely environmental reasons. It was not necessarily from a strict animal rights perspective, although I strongly dislike the mass slaughtering and terrible treatment of animals, my decision first came out of environmental awareness and concerns for the future of the planet. Now the reason I am okay with changing my diet during my time in the Peace Corps is because I feel that these concerns are not as relevant in other areas of the world. (And when I say relevant I don't mean to imply that we are not all part of the same planet, but I mean that in the area of my future residence the practice of obtaining meat is not nearly as environmentally devastating or the largest part of the problem) The practice of eating meat is based on survival when the growing season does not necessarily produce enough variety of other foods. There is also less of a meat "industry" or "system" to be concerned about in the treatment of animals and the shear environmental impact of vast meat consumption. Now one can argue that I should maintain my diet as a way to expose this lifestyle to the rest of the world as a method of introducing so called sustainability, but I cannot say that I am the vegetarian on a mission type. I don't think it is for everyone. But I will always encourage people to think about where their food comes from, how they are getting it, and to be grateful for what they do have.

Furthermore, a large part of my decision is cultural. One of my goals is to integrate myself completely into my future community. I believe a large part of community, family, friendship, and relationships is based around food. I would hate to alienate my community upon arrival by refusing their chosen delicacies. I am there to experience everything and anything that I can. One cannot refuse certain parts of culture and I would like to embrace it all. That is what I believe part of the Peace Corps is all about.

So, "Operation Bacon" is my journey over the course of my time remaining in America to learn to eat meat again and to allow my body to readjust to consuming more animal products. I will admit that I am going to maintain a heavy vegetarian diet as much as I can, but I am going to work my way into the meatatarian world once again. I will also try to do this as sustainably as possible. Wish me luck in this endeavor!