Monday, April 21, 2008

half empty or half full?

last year when i went home for vacation i was told that 2008 was gonna be a great year for me. ¨it´s the year of the rat¨ i was told, and because i was born in the year of the rat i was supposed to have nothing but good luck in good old 2008. well, let me re-cap some of the fabulous things that have happened to me so far:

- in january i was robbed at gunpoint and had my camera, my house keys, my cell phone and my very special red backpack stolen

- that same week, as i was relaxing on the beach in guatamala, thanking god i hadn´t been hurt in the robbery, a big wave came and took with it my mp3 player, my portable speakers and most horrifying of all, my full bottle of beer (this same wave also swept away courtney´s camera, the ONLY one of our three that hadn´t been stolen in the robbery). the mp3 player was fried, as was one of my speakers and courtney´s camera.

- i had a computer project all lined up at my school and at the last minute, i was told be the project organizer that oops, there aren´t enough computers anymore. this was AFTER we told the school directiva that we were getting these computers and they gave us authorization to buy them and everything. then the directiva told all the parents at the school that i was in charge of this project and yay for laura. i had to tell everyone that we´re not getting any computers after all.

- we planted some things in the garden at the school and yesterday it HAILED....yes, it friggin´ hailed here. let me remind you, i´m in central america, four countries (three of which are less than half the size of texas) away from the equator. and there was ice falling from the sky yesterday. so of course, all the stuff we planted is now all droopy and sad looking from being hit by pellets of ice.

- the other day i went to work on my computer and guess what....i can´t see anything. the computer turned on and it revved up, but the screen remained black. i´ve tried it since and it´s still black. much like this year has been.

and it´s only april!!! i want to say that the person that told me 2008 was gonna be great was totally full of it, but i know it´s probably just because i´m only looking at the bad stuff. like when the embassy gave our school some books (great), i had to go to the capital to get the books. well, i couldn´t carry them all on the bus, so maria laura and her husband offered to take me in their pickup (great). well, we got outside the embassy and luis´s truck totally died (bad, bad, bad) and we had to push it to this service station (bad and embarassing!). luis kept saying how ¨this had never happened before¨ and all i could think of in my mind was that it was somehow my fault because i was with them. ¨i´m having such a terrible year¨ i thought, ¨how could it NOT be my fault!¨

but in the heat of the moment, i feel like i get so upset. like instead of looking at the bad part of those above things, i guess i should alter my vision a little.

- ok, so i got robbed, but i didn´t get hurt, right? i got a new cell phone, and finally a new camera (thanks mom) and i bought another backpack. the backpack will never be able to live up to the previous one, but it´ll serves it´s purpose. and it´s red.

- ok, my mp3 player and speakers got fried. who cares? are those really things that i´m gonna die if i don´t have? thank god i had only gotten myself a cheap mp3 player and not a $400 ipod like everyone else has. and one speaker still works! (my mom actually brought me another mp3 player when she came down.....which turned out to be really great news since my computer doesn´t work, i at least have SOME music to listen to that i had downloaded on the player before the computer crapped out. yes, i will probably be tired of the songs i have on there pretty soon, but it´s something.)

- yeah, that really sucks about the computer project, but the funny thing is, i seem to be the only one upset that it didn´t work out. in fact, the day i was gonna tell elba, i was nervous. i thought she´d be so pissed. she came up to me and was like ¨que ondas laura?¨ and i said ¨muy mala¨ (really bad) and she was like ¨what happened?¨ and i told her and she broke out in a smile and said ¨oh, is that all? i thought you were gonna tell me something bad.¨ and she went on to tell the directiva and parents at another meeting we had and nobody seemed to blink twice at the news.

- as far as the school garden goes, plants seem to bounce back from a lot of things here. we´ll see if our plants decide to stick it out.

- last but not least, my computer. this is a little more tricky because this really is a problem. yes, at least the computer still turns on and i can hear it running. and i think it can be fixed (crossing my fingers) fairly easily. problem is, i think it can be fixed fairly easily if i were in the united states. i have no idea where i would take it to get fixed here. i´ve already tried all the troubleshooting solutions given to me by and none of them have worked and i think i have a dead video card. i at least had backed up my photos last august so not too many photos will have been lost if my computer is screwed up. i hate computers. i mean, i love them, but i hate them. my computer is less than 3 years old. how in god´s name can it already be ruined. yes, this problem just sucks all around.

but one out of five isn´t that horrible, right? so why do i feel so bleak about it? it´s just that whole half empty/half full idea. it just depends on how you look at everything. it´s like my work down here can be a constant battle of how i look at things. i work with kids in the school and try and teach environmental education and i feel like i´m doing my part, you know? the kids get excited and participate in the projects and activities i do with them and i feel good about it. then i see one kid throw his trash on the ground and i suddenly feel defeated, like i´m not doing my part at all, like i´m an awful teacher and haven´t accomplished anything.

at least i can see the good parts at some point. i mean, i might immediately get all upset and frustrated, but after some time i do sit back and realize that ok, it´s not the end of the world. i think it takes someone really extraordinary to understand that right off the bat, to still remain chipper and smiling after having been dealt some bad news.

i look at some of the people in my community who are facing serious food problems right now. they can´t buy beans or rice, which before were considered ¨poor people´s food,¨ meaning just about everyone could get their hands on some beans or rice to go with their tortilla. food prices are just too high now. people are rioting in the markets. i read some article about people in haiti who have resorted to eating dirt mixed with sugar to sustain their hunger. another article i read said that in el salvador, ¨money buys 50 per cent less food than it did last year.¨ what in the hell am i thinking getting upset about my computer or hail? my life doesn´t depend on these things at all. yes, everyone has their own necessities, but what actually is a necessity anymore? i´d give a thumbs up to food and shelter and water. there are other people who´d go ahead and list their cell phone as a necessity. or their car. or maybe their television. the food crisis isn´t limited to poor countries like el salvador....i know it´s affecting everyone in the world right now. but here it´s very serious because people don´t have anything to sacrifice in order to spend more on food. they can´t say ¨well, i won´t spend as much on take out this month¨ or ¨i´ll cancel my gym membership.¨ they had nothing to begin with and now are in real danger.

but the people that are on the brink of what could actually be starvation and they don´t seem to react the same way i do. they deal with this day by day and as things come, talking about the problem, but never cursing the situation. i´m not saying they´re not scared or that they´re elated that this is happening or they´re content to just live with things the way they are. the difference is that they don´t seem to be walking around in a funk like how i get sometimes when things don´t go right. they are those extraordinary people i was talking about before.

extraordinary i am most definitely not. i´m more like a work in progress and i have the rest of the year of the rat to work on it.

happy earth day tomorrow!!