Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Happy New Year! I disappeared. Now I'm back.

A lot of people have been asking me recently where my inspiration for these blogs comes from (that's a lie). And I say, “I don't know, Franklin, because I pay a team of writers to blog for me.” And then they look at me funny because I don't know anybody named Franklin. But I asked my writers where their inspiration came from and they said it was from the money I paid them, which is really the purest form of inspiration there is.

I got to play baseball with the muchacos in my town the other week. The guys from my community go down to the lower community and have a baseball game in a dirt field surrounded by barbed wire. So I showed up and tried to get myself on the team. They just laughed at first until they realized I was serious. In the Dominican Republic, I've discovered, you are incompetent until proven otherwise. So they gave me a quick batting test and I passed and they let me play. The first ball hit went right to me and I caught it and everybody was very surprised because they hadn't given me a catching test. The second ball was not to me but nobody else was running after it so I thought I would run over and make a really impressive catch and everybdy would cheer and lift me up on their shoulders and name the field after me. Except instead of that I ran into the barbed wire fence and sliced my arms up and got caught. When I finally got untangled I was covered in blood. But since this was my first tryout I couldn't leave so I just walked back to my spot and kept playing with blood dripping down my arms. I thought maybe if I tried to act like it was nothing it would erase some of the embarrassment of running into a barbed wire fence. But I think the bloody white kid in the outfield just made everybody uncomfortable. The rest of my performance was mediocre.

Campo Guilt: A feeling of guilt resulting from spending extended periods of time away from your Peace Corps community; the time is generally spent with gringos.

So whenever I leave my campo I'm supposed to feel guilty the entire time. It's part of the Peace Corps experience I think. I don't know why we're supposed to feel guilty. My community got along fine before I arrived. I think If I'm only there 25 days a month instead of 30 they will continue to be ok. Anyway sometimes spending 30 days out of the month there is impossible. Did you know that in the Dominican Republic and a lot of other developing countries they only have 28 days in February. It's really sad. Anyway, I've yet to find an issue so pressing that it couldn't be solved the next day or the next week. So I am unable to feel campo guilt. A friend pointed out to me that psycopaths also don't feel guilt. So I might have that to look forward to. But sometimes I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I think with so many Catholics in my family it makes me guilty by association.

I went to Florida to spend Christmas with my family and celebrate Charlie Peabody's defeat of lymphoma. We stayed at a place with a golf course and lots of old people. I played golf. I don't like golf. DISCLAIMER: If for some reason you have it in your head that I have never partaken in any illegal activities in the past then you're right, I haven't, and you should skip to the next paragraph. If you are an important Peace Corps person monitoring blogs then you should also skip to the next paragraph because you're wasting tax payers' money and need to learn to skim. I find a lot of similarities between golf and marijuana, and not just because the word green is often used when talking about both of them. I used to like to do both of them pretty frequently. But at some point I realized that I didn't really care for either golf or marijuana. They're both expensive and just make me feel awkward. And I'm pretty sure people are laughing at me the whole time. So I usually just turn either down when it's offered. But every couple of years somebody will offer, and it's been long enough since the last time that I convince myself that maybe I might like it this time. So I do it but then immediately I just want it to end. But it lasts for hours and there's no way out. So if you ever see me about to do either of these things, please stop me. Not to mention that golf can get you in a lot of trouble with the law. I wonder how awful it would be to play golf high.

I helped out as an interpreter in a medical mission near my community. A group of med students and doctors from the University of Southern Maine came down for two weeks to give clinics in the surrounding communities, but most of them don't speak Spanish so that makes me an expert. One day I got to interpret for Dentist Dave. Patients would come in with rotting teeth and Dentist Dave would shoot them up with novacaine and yank the teeth out with a set of pliers. This is how dentistry must have done back in the 1800s. Except Dentist Dave told me that they didn't have novacaine in the 1800s. Apart from rotting teeth they all pretty much have high blood pressure and diabetes from the awful diet here. Unfortunately they don't have a Whole Foods in the area to buy overpriced health food. I interpreted when the clinic went to a community near mine and some of my neighbors showed up for consultations. I won't go into details but I had to ask them some pretty uncomfortable questions about very private things. I hope it won't make things awkward between us. After dinner every night we had story time where the students could talk about their experiences from that day. I only have mean things to say about that so I just won't say anything.
Very early in my time here in this country somebody asked me a question in an email. If I was forced to choose between only using a spoon or a fork for the rest of my life, which one would it be? I picked spoon. I think it was the right decision. Give it some thought.