Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogging the 'Fork

Well, our appeal is in. Two more doctor visits for Keith and a few hundred additional bucks later, our fate is now in the hands of the Peace Corps' Screening Review Board, which meets Wednesdays. They may or may not take up our appeal during the next meeting. So it's one or possibly two more weeks before we get to the next stage of...well, waiting.

But backup plans proceed, and we both have phone interviews next week for teaching overseas.

Meanwhile, we've now been in Norfolk for 6 weeks and I've had a chance to look around. OK, I've had a chance to see it all.

OK, three times. But it's a very friendly place. Everyone waves at you regardless of whether they know you, especially if you're a pedestrian. This took some getting used to, coming from Seattle, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. The other thing people do in Norfolk is yard work. As most of you know, I didn't have a lawn growing up in Arizona, and I've lived in apartments ever since. So this month I mowed a lawn (well, part of one) for the first time. And I'm sure the Neimeyers' grass will recover soon.

The other thing to know about Norfolk (all Gipsons, feel free to skip this part) is that the name of the town has two legitimate pronunciations. It's not a source of conflict here because, as I said, they're just so dang nice. But occasionally you'll hear someone say "Norfork."

Without making a short story longer, suffice to say it was an incorrect clerical assumption by the state of Nebraska that led to the current spelling, and any locals who know better use the latter pronunciation because the town SHOULD have been named for the north fork of the Elkhorn river.

I mention this situation mostly to relate that it was one of the two most popular jokes at the Great American Comedy Festival, held here all last week. Festival organizers are hoping to make it an annual event. We got tickets to the semifinals, which were held in the Johnny Carson theater (named for the town's most famous native), which happens to be at the high school.

And this was the other favorite joke among the comics who were mostly from larger citiies: The theater is a really nice venue...and it's at the high school. Oh yeah, and there's a big bronze panther statue in the lobby.

As you can see, we really have little to complain about. Other than having all our plans trashed and living in our parents' basement. (if you can separate such things) It's been an enjoyable derailment, all things considered.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hiccups you can't fix with peanut butter

This blog is now misnamed. We’re not in Armenia, nor does it look like we’ll be there anytime soon.

About two weeks before we were supposed to leave the country, we hit a roadblock with the Peace Corps. We learned that we had left out some (apparently) very important information from our health forms, and we were being pulled from our staging. PC asked for more paperwork over the next two weeks, then eventually decided we would be “medically deferred” for a year.

It sounds like we can appeal this decision with more paperwork and visits to doctors, but it’s still not clear whether we’ll ever be able to serve. We’re crossing our fingers and eagerly awaiting more forms in the mail.

In the meantime, we’re staying with Keith’s parents. We were visiting them in Nebraska when this all happened and they’ve generously offered to house us until we can figure things out.

One option may be teaching English abroad; we’ve been looking into various programs that might accept us quickly. It’s not volunteer service like PC would have been, but then there might be some sort of contract involved that would prevent another crisis. It’s still a good time for us to try to see some of the world.

As for me, I don’t really know what to do with myself at the moment. I was supposed to be meeting new people, learning another language, and beginning to serve a new community. Instead, I am living in my husband’s parents’ basement without a job.

I’ve never been one for grandiose, fanciful dreams. I generally look at my current situation and figure out a realistic step forward from there. And that’s what I thought applying to PC was. I’m qualified; I have skills to share and a reasonable amount of intelligence. I will have to accept it if it doesn’t happen, but I’ve been at it for almost two years now. Almost every decision Keith and I have made in that time has been with this goal in mind. Our lives are very different from what’d they’d be otherwise, and I really don’t know how to begin again or change directions.

Still, I’m grateful beyond words to Roger and Cindy. They weren’t any more prepared for this than we were, but they’ve made me feel welcome and at home. As for everyone else who gave us your good wishes, support and help, We’ll do our best not to let you down.