Posted by: fullandbye | December 23, 2009


I am just over 25% done with Peace Corps. I cannot believe it.

A plane crashed at the Kingston Airport last night, about 5 miles from my house. I heard nothing but woke up to quite a commotion in Port Royal this morning.

I also woke up in the middle of the night last night to what was quite possibly the most extraordinary symphony of dogs barking I have ever experienced. This all happened about 4hrs after the plane crash and might be related. There is really no way of knowing. I did not wake up because of the dogs barking (I woke up from a bad dream and was incredibly thirsty) but I noticed the dogs barking because it made it that much harder to fall asleep.

Work is going well, although can be frustrating at times. We keep on having mechanical problems getting the aquaria up and running and it takes a long time to fix stuff around here. Hopefully once the center is up and running I will be able to spend more time doing outreach and education and less time trying to get ornery saltwater pumps to work. The past three weeks have been really slow, with lots of people on leave and not a lot going on.

I miss Ghana pretty bad but it is hard to pinpoint what I miss. I also miss Seattle, but in a totally different way.

I think that when we miss something or someone we not only miss that person or that thing, but we also miss the self that they bring out in us. Having identity reified by familiarity is a blessing and a curse I suppose. There is great liberation to be found in changes of context, but this process can still be lonely and scary. It is true that no matter where you are you are always in your own company, but I think the Xhosa saying that that “people are people through other people” is incredibly powerful and incredibly true.

I am reminded of the famous admissions essay prompt for Amherst College that went “Sartre said, ‘Hell is other people’; but Streisand sang, ‘People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world.’ With whom do you agree and why? Don’t be icky.”

I love this prompt, but it is too binary and taken literally as an either/or option it misses the point. The balance between self-definition and existence of self through encounter is the key tension in the dynamics of identity. I doubt if there is a clean resolution or perfect balance. So maybe a key to happiness is finding beauty and peace in eternal struggles like this one while also avoiding being icky?

Happy tidings of Yule, everyone.



  1. post some pictures or something; i’ve got no idea what Jamaica looks like. particularly the salt tanks there.

  2. They actually put “Don’t be icky.” in the prompt? What douchebags.
    I love hearing from you and happy winter (the most generic seasonal tiding ever, seen on a tin a week ago)!
    The question is much too binary, but right now I have to agree with Sartre. I sleep in the living room and between job and volunteering work 7 days/week. Although other times I’m on Streisand’s side.

  3. What? That is the best part of the prompt! I think they included that bit to avoid having to read overly sentimental crap. That said an essay could be antisocial enough to be icky too.
    Sorry you find yourself in hell.

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