Monrovia Calling

Yesterday I sat down to write and everything that showed up on the page was pure ugly. I know I’m trying to be all about revealing and accepting our imperfections, but this was too much even for me to take. My mind was filled with images of fleeing Syrians, thousands of children in the US alone stuck in the foster care system, adults suffering with childhood and lifelong traumas who end up homeless and addicted being referred to as “vermin” and “parasites”, which is something I recently encountered. These things break my heart on a good day, but yesterday was apparently not a good day. I felt trapped and useless and made a plan to run home from work, grab my passport and hop the next flight to Turkey. My plan was to make my way, somehow, to that place where there is a hole in a fence that thousands of Syrians were stuffing themselves through in hopes that they would, at a minimum, survive. I really really wanted to do this. But I realized that while I certainly could do this, it might not be the most effective means of helping these people.

So then I realized I had finally found my calling in life. I am to be an international aid worker.  After work I went home and asked George if he would live in Monrovia. “No. And I’d prefer that you didn’t either,” he said. South Sudan? “No.” I said “whatever, but I can’t stay in Auburn forever! I’ve done nothing with my life! I have so much to offer and I’m totally useless!” It may surprise you to hear that I did not then fall into a tantrum that even Scarlett O’Hara would be embarrassed to witness, instead I went into the office and plugged “how do I become an international aid worker” into the Google. The news was not good.

According to multiple websites it is nearly impossible to “land” one of these positions without an advanced degree. I don’t have one, but let’s back up…“land” one of these positions? Yes. That’s right. Apparently people are clamoring to leave their creature comforts behind and head out to unforgiving lands where unthinkable atrocities are happening in order to lend a helping hand. Most of these positions start out as volunteer positions, which is what I assumed I would do, but even the volunteer slots are given to people with a Master’s or above. Since I’m not going back to school to get a Master’s I changed my course.

It seems the United Nations is hiring Public Information Officers, one for its holocaust education program and one for its slavery education program. These positions are both based in New York City, which is where I suspect I will end up again at some point, at least for a couple of years. Perfect! I’m certain a 44 year old with a degree in English (the only language she speaks) from a state university will be a strong candidate for employment at the United Nations. There can’t be many folks who want to work there, right?  I hollered to George that I would be applying for these jobs and that if I get one, I’m going. He said, “Okay.”

Is it clear so far that my evening involved a bit of mania? It wasn’t just the career change that consumed me. George made a pot roast it in the Le Creuset French oven that had belonged to Kelly, who was a vegetarian, and I was plagued with guilt over that. She would not approve of cooking meat in her cherished pot. Also, I decided that although we did everything we possibly could to find the owners of the little Chihuahua we found on the side of the road over Fourth of July weekend in Merced and nobody responded, I should return to Merced and put up posters in neighborhoods nearest the location where we found her letting people know we found this little black Chihuahua on July 5th and while we would not be returning her, we wanted her former owners to know that she is safe. George informed me that that would be just plain cruel. I was in my pajamas by 5pm too. I climbed into bed around 9pm and by 9pm and 23 seconds I was passed out.

I slept until 7:30am. That’s a lot of sleep, and, as I made my way out of the fog of a long, deep sleep, I realized I hadn’t really gotten much sleep this week and…wait a minute! Is it possible I’m not crazy or manic or useless after all?! Why yes it is possible. The fact is, I was exhausted. And now I am not.

So today I have a new plan. I’ll sign up to donate $25 per month to help Syrian refugees (during my research I found a great organization to support), and I’ll look into becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate for local foster youth or volunteering with the Placer Adult Literacy Council, and I’ll smile and wave at the homeless people in our area, and maybe bring them a sandwich now and again.  And I’ll try to remember that when I feel tired, I should go to bed.

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