I feel like Charlie Brown, and Lucy just yanked away that football.
I’m tired of running at a goal and having it disappear. That’s what the Peace Corps application is for me now.
So, the JOURNEY ends here.

I’m seeking out new landscapes, or soundscapes as the case may be. Check it out:

Best of luck out there,

Publish or Perish!

Didn’t I tell you? I’m a scientist posing as an amateur journalist. One of the many reasons I hope to join the Peace Corps is for the opportunity to document the experience through sound. I love stories on the radio, as well as a few podcasts which some would argue are almost universally flawed and overrated unless they come as an extension of an existing radio or TV program (i.e., This American Life, WTF with Marc Maron) and I would seven times out of ten agree with them. So, radio reigns supreme.

I have only been minimally published. I produced many stories for Living on Earth, but have only twice been featured on-air as a reporter. So here, now, dear readers, I submit an unpublished (until now!) piece for your education and entertainment:

Vermont’s Healing Non-Timber Forest Products

Comments welcomed.

Forestry and land management issues are close to my heart so I’m thrilled to have been nominated to a forestry program in the Peace Corps. I believe much of the philosophy I present in the story is generally applicable across cultures and landscapes. For example, I appreciate and admire how much the three women featured in the story understand about particular species or places. Often, this type of knowledge is incredibly unique and situational, impossible to duplicate or learn quickly. One of my worries about Peace Corps service is my ability to actually make a difference. I have practical skills that are germane to almost any forested landscape, but there will be important indigenous information for me to learn before I can begin a successful project. I suppose my specific angst is that it will take too long and my service will be over before I even get started.

I DO hope to produce a handful of stories for radio, so I’m considering now what format that might take and what relationships I need to develop before I leave to make that happen. Should I attempt the perilous podcast?

Island Albums

In yesterday’s post I wrote briefly about sacrifices. For obvious reasons it’s difficult to anticipate what EXACTLY those might be for me abroad. I get sad considering a life without movies and new books, but I get downright Plathian envisioning time without music. With regret, I sold my longtime companion, Banjo, last week with a new resolve to take up the more portable harmonica.
It was this train of thought that took me to my list of island albums.
In order to not get carried away, I’ll theoretically limit this to the top ten (or 17-19) albums I’d take with me:
(In alphabetical order)

1. I’m Still In Love With You — Al Green
2. The Funeral — Arcade Fire
3. Emotionalism — The Avett Brothers
4. Billie Holiday’s Greatest Hits — Billie Holiday
5. Rubber Factory — The Black Keys
6. The Greatest — Cat Power
7. The Clarence Greenwood Recordings — Citizen Cope
8. (a tie) At War With The Mystics & Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots — The Flaming Lips
9. The Creek Drank The Cradle — Iron & Wine
10. Year of Meteors — Laura Veirs
11. Good News For People Who Like Bad News — Modest Mouse
12. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood — Neko Case
13. (I know it’s cheating) Greatest Hits — Queen
14. The Bends — Radiohead
15. (a tie) Gossip In The Grain & Trouble — Ray LaMontagne
16. Gimme Fiction — Spoon
17. Being There — Wilco

What are yours?

Medical Macarena


Pages of medical forms I’ve filled out.


Times I was used as a human pin cushion in November and December.


Visits to my doctor’s office since September.


Months it took to completely submit all medical materials.


Relationships begun in that time.

Continue Reading »

October was not the best of months.

Apparently, the Peace Corps does play hardball. So, when they ask if you have preferences or aversions, and you say “yes,” that’s incorrect; they take that Core Expectation of serving with flexibility real serious like.

On October 18th, I received this email from my Peace Corps recruiter in Boston:

After speaking with you on the phone last week, I discussed your aversion to serve in Africa with our Placement Office.  As previously mentioned, you have some wonderful skills to offer; however, Peace Corps Core Expectation #3 states that volunteers are expected to: “Serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service.”

Therefore, because your view is “one thing I need to be stubborn on,” we can’t in good faith nominate you into a program and move you forward in the Peace Corps application process.

Continue Reading »

Still Waiting

Just a little more tensely.

I talked to another Peace Corps recruiter today, this one from the Boston regional office. She has been trying to find me placement in a program and in talking with the Placement Office in D.C. they came across a roadblock. I am still averse to serving in sub-Saharan Africa and they don’t like that.

See, if they can’t find me placement where they’d like to (i.e., the Americas) or I don’t meet the minimum qualifications, then they need to consider Africa an option. And they don’t like that it’s not an option. Why they can’t place me in Eastern Europe or Asia or the Middle East instead, I don’t know. I think they’re just playing hard ball. Fine, let’s play. Continue Reading »

Had my interview yesterday.

I met with a Peace Corps recruiter on campus in the afternoon, and I’d characterize it as a formal discussion lasting 2 hours underneath fluorescent lights that flickered distractingly. I was also facing a whiteboard that had writing from what looked like a meeting about waste management. I would glance up in mid-sentence and read “fecal” or “contamination” and had to force myself to focus. I had visions of Kevin Spacey in “The Usual Suspects” where he devises a genius ruse to obfuscate the police using information from a Quartet cork board he stares at during his interrogation (“Who is Keyser Söze!?!). On the whole I think it went well. The standard questions were asked of me (“Why do you want to join the Peace Corps?” “How do you foresee dealing with isolation and/or boredom?” “What do you do to alleviate stress?”), and I had my turn too (“Just how isolated are we talkin’ here?” “My passport will expire before I return from my tour; do I need to renew it before I go?” “Do I have any say in where I end up?”). There was only one question I had trouble with: Continue Reading »