Thursday, October 4, 2012

Finding My Albanian Life

I don't need a reminder, I obsess about it enough.

I've been in Albania 39 days. I was sick the first week or so, and then I was sick the last two weeks- so a little more than half of my time here has been sick. Then, of course, is the matter of all the time spent actually moving in to my new life in Albania. Our apartment was fully furnished, but we had no kitchen supplies and there were various household items- like trash cans and hangers and so many other things- that had to be purchased. That meant we had to hunt them down, and then make several trips to get them on foot. We had to get phones and bank accounts and figure out where to grocery shop and how to find our way home in the maze of alleys. I started work after being here only three days, which was totally unexpected (the start date changed this year, to the surprise of everyone). At least once a week I was setting something up or bringing a document to work or sending an e-mail, or taking off an entire afternoon to go to the American embassy, or, more recently, taking off an entire week to flop on my couch in a haze of sickness. What I'm trying to say is, I haven't been here very long at all, and most of that time has been consumed with setting up my new life here (in all the mundane glory that entails) or being sick as hell. What's weird is that I feel like I've been here much longer than 39 days, and because of that I'm getting frustrated with what I feel is a general "not doing enough" problem. And by weird I mean it's insane and I'm not sure why I have these expectations of myself that are totally ridiculous and kind of unattainable given the circumstances.

I feel like I'm just now settling into a routine of what life looks like for me, here, and in logical land, that makes sense. I'm getting a handle on my job responsibilities, I know my schedule, I know my students' names, and I know how to jump out in traffic with relative confidence. I learned my Albanian numbers, although it's still hard for me to really catch what people are saying to me, numerically speaking, when I'm trying to give them money. I have made great friends. We're planning some trips and social events and in general things are awesome and Albania and I really like each other. The problem is that I am really beating myself up about not doing "enough". I haven't, for example, worked out since we moved here. We've also been eating out a lot, due to a combo of wanting to try local places and my being too tired to try and cook when I get home from work. I have a few looming paperwork things to do that I keep blowing off. I have, quite possibly, pumped more Coke into my kidneys in the last month than in the previous year. Right now, when I come home from work, about three out of five days I immediately take to the couch and let the air conditioner blow over me while I veg out on FB. But teaching is exhausting work, as anyone who has done it will tell you, and yes, I went to the hospital a little over a week ago, so I need to cut myself some slack and stop fretting over being lazy. Because that's really what this is all about- I'm over involved mom-ing myself over being lazy, not doing enough, not getting enough done. I thrive on doing things, and when I'm not I feel like I'm wasting time. I think this is probably a little bit insane, since I just picked up and moved to another country, started a new career, a new job, and had one of the worst illnesses of my life in the span of a month, but hey, there it is.

Everyone else is out ex-patin' it up at trivia night, but I am so exhausted I made myself stay home. I told that crazy type-A voice in my head to shut up so that I could have a nice, quiet night at home alone. I know I need this downtime, and logically I know I have been in a new country for less than 6 weeks so it is fine if I am still eating ice cream every day after work, or if my yoga mat is gathering dust, or if I'm not blogging consistently or haven't filled out paperwork for school yet. Sometimes I think I'm too good at kicking my own ass and making myself be productive and responsible, because when I need to be kind to myself it's hard to back away from relentless pursuit mode and give myself permission to just be a meatsack on a couch, vegging out to stupid blogs or falling down YouTube rabbit holes.

I'm pretty sure a lot of this guilt is just me still processing everything that happened this summer, so I have to keep that in mind, too. I feel like I have to DO ALL THE THINGS because if I don't it's like some slap in the face of the gift that is getting to wake up and be alive another day.

Oh. Yeah. Ignore all those other paragraphs. Those last two sentences nailed it. Ugggh, I hate my stupid brain sometimes for being so good at hiding real problems by dressing them up with decoy problems that just distract me.

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