October 26, 2006

Optimism Crushed

So I've been back since July 2006, which means I've been in the States...oh...3 months now.

My situation is thus:
1. I have a great room in a not so great neighborhood. I am paying through the teeth for it each month,
2. I have no source of income and seem to be spending lavish amounts of money like Britney Spears,
3. I've been looking for a job for the last months...unsuccessfully. I was offered a job with unsatisfactory pay and decided not to bargain for a better salary because the position was not exactly what I was looking for.

So once again, ladies and gentlemen, I am temping. What is temping you ask? It is a mechanism whereby strapped-for-cash individuals get short-term, banal, unchallenging assignments for meager paid-per-hour salaries.

I am the queen of temping. I've done it long and I've done it hard. But I'm proud to say that I was able to quit temping cold turkey in favor of the various virtues of having a real job with a real salary.

Why are you temping now, What happened, you ask? Well, it seems that, with my French/English bilingualism, my masters in International Health from a reputable school, my 2-year work experience abroad, my enthusiasm and good recommendations from previous employers; I was getting a little too cocky. I though: "it's going to take me 1 month, or 2 tops, until I find a job". Wrong!

And thus I am temping...again.

October 19, 2006

Mountains O' Things

The life Ive always wanted
I guess Ill never have
Ill be working for somebody else
Until Im in my grave
Ill be dreaming of a live of ease
And mountains
Oh mountains o things

To have a big expensive car
Drag my furs on the ground
And have a maid that I can tell
To bring me anything
Everyone will look at me with envy and with greed
Ill revel in their attention
And mountains
Oh mountains o things

Sweet lazy life
Champagne and caviar
I hope youll come and find me
Cause you know who we are
Those who deserve the best in life
And know what moneys worth
And those whose sole misfortune
Was having mountains o nothing at birth

Oh they tell me
Theres still time to save my soul
They tell me
Renounce all
Renounce all those material things you gained by
Exploiting other human beings

Consume more than you need
This is the dream
Make you pauper
Or make you queen
I wont die lonely
Ill have it all prearranged
A grave thats deep and wide enough
For me and all my mountains o things

Mostly I feel lonely
Good good people are
Good people are only
My stepping stones
Its gonna take all my mountains o things
To surround me
Keep all my enemies away
Keep my sadness and loneliness at bay

Ill be dreaming, dreaming...

--Tracy Chapman

I hope you'll excuse me for posting these (rather long) song lyrics from Tracy Chapman's song. Inexplicably, it has been popping in my mind for some time now. Here I am, back in the States for three (THREE!) months now, jobless still, and I have these unhealthy compulsions to buy, buy, buy. Yesterday, I was in a store, and seeing that winter is coming, coupled with my lack of good warm clothing, I decided to buy...two dresses. Wha???

I want to say that the advertisements, red flashy store letters, posters of impossibly polished models, and soft cardigans rows in the store fronts are all to blame for my lack of shopping self-control.

I mean, just take a look at the Container Store for crying out loud. Does any other country have a Container Store? No! Why? Because, other than Americans, needs to CONTAIN all the stuff they own. Case in point, the store sells the following items:
-Accessory storage hangers
-Clear plastic hat boxes--the website even says "our boxes are one of our most frequently requested items"
-Customized Gift wrap center boxes that slip under you bed--for the professional wrapper in you

And yet...and yet...What I wouldn't do to own all three items! I really need to get a job so I can get income, so I can spend it on Mountains and Mountains O' Crap.

And inside, I am afraid that it's not really the advertisements that lure me to the stores. It's a little mutation in a gene on the 19th chromosome that has transformed me into a shopping addict.

Please, oh no, doctor, tell me it isn't true, tell me it isn't true! How much longer do I have to live? 60 years? Oh god, nooooooo.

October 02, 2006

Back in the US of A

Dear All,

I am writing from my new room in Washington DC, where the weather is oh-so perfect and my windows are open. I can hear the clanging of a construction crew working on a recreation center, some heavy gangsta/hip-hop music, a car alarms ringing and ringing without let-up and kids playing basketball on the court next to my house.

What a change a few months make! I am loving the fact that I am back and slowly becoming acclimated to Mountains O' Things (as Tracy Chapman said so well): the 13 types of bread at Giant, spending a Congolese yearly salary on a room rental for a month, props and more props for the scary Halloween season ahead, rich succulent food heaped in mounds on my restaurant plate, containers I didn't know I need from the Container store. It's a little overwhelming at time and I find myself having to leave a store to take a breather outside in the beautiful weather.

I am still looking for a job, though I have decided to work part-time until I can find something decent because my money is dwindling fast. By the way, if you know of anyone working for a Health Campaign firm (one that works on Behavior Change), please let me know!

I was offered a job a few weeks back but the pay was not very substantial and it was located waaaaay in the middle of nowhere, Maryland. God dammit, I have a family to feed! Uh, actually that's a lie but it's a little linguistic tic I picked up in the Congo.

Other than that, life is peachy, thank you very much.

Best Regards,
007 in Africa

PS: Thanks all for your nice comments (especially that 70 year old man who can still speak Swahili-how cool is that?)