Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Sound of Silence

I know, I know. I'm supposed to be exercising patience right now. But the fact that I haven't heard diddly from the PC in many weeks is starting to make me a little nervous. Actually, I wouldn't be nervous at all -- that's just the nature of the application, and that the PC is understaffed and overworked. But I got to wondering a little while ago if there was a miscommunication. You might remember I was requested to go seek out a psych evaluation, and that apparently got sorted out when the Medical Desk person finally got to speak one-on-one with my ex-counselor. OR at least that's what he said in an e-mail. What if he was mistaken and the Medical Desk is sitting there, waiting for me to do something I didn't think I needed to do?

So my paranoia go the better of me and I called on Monday, getting the infamous voice mail box, and of course I still haven't heard back from them. If I don't get a call by about 2 pm tomorrow I'll call again. I hear the PC actually wants people who are dogged and do not flag in the face of obstacles. I'm not about to give up my goal/dream/destiny of the Peace Corps over something like this. It would just be nice to get it resolved!

Anyway, you may be wondering why on earth I haven't posted in nearly three weeks. What happened was, my grandfather died (actually on the very night of my last TheToughestJob entry) and I had to go to the funeral right after that. Most of my family is from Texas, specifically west Texas, and so I had to spend a few days over there for the funeral. It was... surreal. I had been to a funeral only once before, for someone I didn't know, and I was about ten at the time so my mother didn't permit me to approach the casket. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had never seen a dead body in my life. Then the dead body just happened to be my own grandfather, which was very, very disturbing. I've read about such feelings before and never really connected with the sense of disconnection and disgust people have described feeling at seeing a relative or loved one in a casket. Now I know.

We held a "viewing" the night before, which for those of you who may be blissfully ignorant (as I was) is a sort of awkward ceremony where the family of the deceased stand around in a side room of the funeral home (another first for me) and other friends, family, and acquaintances drop by to chat and view the body. Hence the name. If you have ever heard the term, "elephant in the room," you will come to understand its full meaning at such an event. Everyone stands around and discusses who just got into college, who just had babies, who is on kidney dialysis, what to do about the Iraq war, etc. etc. etc., all while a dead body is sitting a few feet away. And the thing in the casket didn't even remotely look like my grandfather. It was like a Madame Toussaud's wax museum version of him, this plastic effigy of a man I once knew and loved. I am now of the firm conviction that I simply do not belong to the "culture" of America -- its consumerism, capitalism, religions, and lots more. And now I can firmly say this macabre ceremony runs so counter to my own beliefs that it has really driven home how out of place I am here.

Oddly, my mother asked me later how I would have felt about it, had I been in another culture. Say, in Africa in the Peace Corps or something, and a local bigwig from the village had died. Honestly, I probably wouldn't feel as dismayed, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I wouldn't be related to that bigwig. But nevertheless I think staring at a dead body and sobbing uncontrollably only serves to prolong the agony. I, personally, would rather never see them again and deal with the grief alone. And I desperately hope my own passing isn't marked by such a morbid and maudlin display.

Well, now that I got that off my mind, I can apologize for the long space between postings. As I've said before, though, this part of the application process is coming along at a snail's pace, and I have very little to report outside various personal issues, like the one above. I'm not sure how interested most readers of this blog are to read entries unrelated to Peace Corps matters. But you may find a few more from time to time as the application process crawls along. Hope you don't mind.


p.s. The purpose of the above entry was to rant, not to solicit condolences on my grandfather's death. I'm okay, I really am. Thanks, though. :)

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