Category: #volunteer

Why Aren’t You Posting?

This week, a friend had a 4th of July party, and as she was introducing me around, she told people all about my year off and my “hilarious” blog.

She asked why I hadn’t been posting and kept reiterating that I was a good writer.

Well, the compliment kicked me into gear, – the reason I haven’t been writing is because unemployment has become a bit of a purgatory that I seem to have banished myself to. I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to unlock the gates and escape the cave, but nothing has worked – yet.

Oh, and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the bus.

And nothing makes you feel more like you are stuck in purgatory than taking the bus, in Los Angeles.

So, as a reintroduction to anything funny that has been happening in my life – I’d like to offer up this week’s bus story:

I’ve been volunteering at a horse sanctuary, mucking out stalls, playing with horses, getting reacquainted with my allergies, and developing muscles. It’s been glorious – but, to get there takes about 2.5 hrs on the bus. To get back takes over 3.

There is a special kind of horrible mood that I develop when I smell like manure, am physically incapable of walking or standing, am being prodded by tiny bits of pokey hay, am super hungry and seem to miss every one of three, sometimes four bus connections.

This week was particularly bad – the first bus just didn’t show up – after twenty minutes, I asked Google to find another way home. One bus later, I found myself at a stop in the middle of nowhere, waiting alone, with a man who had gotten kicked off the last bus. I patiently listened to his story of asshole bus drivers and quietly hoped someone else would show up. No one did.

The next bus took me to another stop where I met a lovely woman who was having trouble walking because she had just had open heart surgery. She wanted to talk. I wanted to crawl into a hole and drink a cup of tea.

The penultimate bus involved a man who decided that the bus was his pulpit, and the passengers, his congregation. He gave us a speech on his life and said that if Barbara Streissand could get $150M for her autobiography, he could surely get $100M for his.

And now we come to our last bus, where, whilst waiting at the stop, I returned my sister’s call – a call she said that would cheer me up with the fact that she had a story to make me feel better about my life.

It sounds evil, but sometimes those stories are really, really needed. So, hopefully this story can help someone else.


Conversations with Drunk Teenagers at Bar Night

Bar Night (definition): once a week, dehydrated and exhausted, but usually freshly showered wildlife volunteers descend like an avalanche upon a bar in Hua Hin, Thailand (an hour away in a taxi ride that I am sure causes many a taxi driver to question their career decision). From 7:30-10:30p, they take in as many “2 for 1” cocktail specials as possible. 

Prominent activities include: talking about how drunk they are, how much they are in-love with everyone here, taking Snapchat photos, dancing and, much to the staff’s chagrin – hanging like a monkey from the plastic exposed beams and/or curtain rods. 

Being one who values a full stomach, I arrived after dinner. I walked in and beheld a scene that made me feel like Jane Goodall watching chimps. It was awkward, mostly unsuccessful debauchery – the likes that belonged not to Roman Toga Party, but to a Roman Thursday Night. I could only sip my two “two for one” mojitos, and sit in the back, my already greying hair turning more silver the more I thought about being the Jane Goodall of “younger people habits.”

Minutes later a 19 year old man saddled up to me and offered his sage advice:

“You should take it slow, I know a thing or two about drinking”

“Don’t worry, I will, I have been drinking for a while”

“Yes, but I’ve been drinking longer than you (winks at me) – I’ve been drinking since I was 12″

I’m 36.”

Math. Shock, horror, pause. Laughter (on my end). 

Apparently those Jane Goodall silvers had retreated enough to blend in with my subjects. 

Part 1:  “Hand, Foot and Mouth” Disease, the Outbreak that Would Not Get Made into a Dustin Hoffman Film and Part 2: Princesses Wear Gloves 

Part One:

Last week a volunteer came down with blisters. Giant, ugly, worm shaped ones that slithered around her finger tips. She insisted that she could keep working, she only had a couple of days to go, and really everyone was being so nice and constantly asking her about her hands. 

In reality, we weren’t being nice. We were terrified. We googled images of “Monkeys, Herpes B” – a horrible, mostly deadly virus that destroys your brain and spinal cord, as well as “Herpes, blisters” – you know what comes up with that, and the more probable, “Hand, Foot and Mouth, blisters.”

Shocked, afraid, and aware that there was no hero, no sexy story – if we all got infected, because Foot and Mouth is highly contagious, we’d all be a foot note. There wouldn’t be a movie, there might be a potential Darwin award for “yesterday, while trying to do “good,” a hundred volunteers distributed a virus aboard planes bound for thirty countries.” 

At one point, Emily and I crossed paths (a fate I had been hoping to avoid, I dreaded touching anything she had contaminated (if there were a movie, I’d be “Volunteer 58”)), and she said, “you look tired.” I just nodded back, but in my head I thought, “yeah I’m exhausted thinking about you giving us a virus that is a pain in the ass to stop”

Part Two: 

Turns out, it is probably not a virus. 

The blisters might just be the effect of a concept known as “hard work” – which is something we didn’t Google. 

My finger tips are currently so raw that the “unlock quickly using the only secure feature that identifies you” does not work on my phone, in fact the only thing that will cool them down and stop the burning sensation is holding an icy cocktail. 

Now, despite the 100 degree heat, I’m going to wear my gloves. Cause no matter how small I have to chop up cucumber for the baby tortoises, at one point, this princess is hopefully going to go to a ball and does not want to have to explain that I lost feeling in my hands by chopping fruit and sweeping up after animals (I’m not Cinderella, I can’t pull that look off)

Update: turns out chopping vegetables with work gloves is a impossible, you look like a baby who is just learning about butter knives. 

When You Smell So Bad, Mosquitos Are Your Only Friends

Mmmm dried sweat, fresh sweat and various kinds of animal feces – an aphrodisiac cocktail that attracts nothing but mosquitos – no matter how much DEET you put on, they queue up. 

Say whatever you want about mosquitos, but they love indescriminately- sure, they may love some a tiny bit more than others, but on a whole they are the hippies of animal kingdom. They believe in free, interspecies type love. 

They are impatient, they don’t wait for the Tinder, “you matched with…” button, they don’t wait for the third date, they definitely don’t buy you a drink first; they just aggressively grab you and take what they want. 

Now, they may not be the most selfless companions, and they dont care whether you have a good time, but they never leave you alone, and even if they do “”ghost” you for a bit, they’ll be back – it just maybe in an Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 2 kind of way.

The point of this post: when you’re volunteering with wildlife, kind of like when you’re in prison (stereotype), you’ll take what you can get. At least something wants to be around you. 

Sun Bear, not that interested either