peace corps, Uncategorized

Pullin’ An American

I have every intention of making “Pulling An American” an actual phrase. I’m not going to pretend that everything is great in paradise. Yes, just yesterday I swam in crystal clear sea blue green beautiful water. Yes, I did discover a sea animal that I have never seen before. Yes, I watched a school of small silver fish jump out of the ocean as if only to say hello to us passengers of our bangka. Yes, yes indeed I did explore a cave that the Japanese during WWII would not enter because they were so strongly superstitious. The historic site is now a place for people to throw trash. The irony is only compounded by the fact that Mary and the Christ Child watch people do this. (There are two tiny figurines watching over the cave) Yes, I swam in the center of the center (the epicenter) of marine biodiversity. Yes, I am officially (as one other volunteer so deftly put it) living in a Corona Light commercial. And yes, I am more depressed and homesick than I have ever believed myself to become.

I have never found myself to be very sentimental, but I find the slightest things making me long for home. I heard this song called “18 Days” and the “sound” of the song reminded me of Oklahoma. I don’t get into that type of music, but it still sparked a desire to be back in the states. I thought of eating frozen yogurt and sushi. Instant stomach pain. I thought of being with my family watching the apparent 14inch snowfall that hit my state. I thought of how Christmas would have been so magical to me at that time. So many things remind me of home. Though this is all just prologue.

You see, I am not feeling great at the moment. Thus, I took a long walk outside. I immediately began sweating profusely which did nothing to soothe my troubled state of mind. I then bought load for my family’s internet card (which is another very different and frustrating story)* and began walking back home. I live in a big city. Something I actually loathe. Luckily, I am moving out of my house in a couple of months and I will be living in a bamboo or concrete house in a village that has no cars whatsoever. Anyway, I passed by a gas station. Feeling a bit down. I decided that, “Dammit! I am going to get some chips and a drink”
I did just that. I was walking down the street when the reality of what I was doing hit me. I was holding my juice and a bag of chips in one hand and with my other hand I was filling my face with chips from said bag. I must have looked like a glutton (despite the fact that I have most certainly lost weight) and TOTALLY American. This is a scene you will rarely if ever see by a Filipino. I have seen the kids eat chips, but not juggle a drink and chips whilst walking down the side of the road. I couldn’t help, but think to myself, “You are acting like SUCH an American right now”

In my defense I totally pulled a Filipino yesterday!!! I was riding my bike away from the beach, the scene of which I described for you a little earlier in this blog. I noticed that my sandal (tsinelas) had broken. I completely took the sandal off of my foot, put the strap back in its rightful place, replaced the tsinelas (yes that’s singular) back upon my foot, AND sent a text message! If that’s not Filipino I do not know what is! I think that completely and totally restores my street cred.


*I bought a bunch of internet load to find that my host sister has crashed our computer and thus I basically just gave a way the equivalent of 10 dollars. When your living allowance is about 40 dollars a week . . . that’s QUITE a bit of money to just be giving away.

I have been reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It is a very good novel, but she makes extensive use of footnotes and I believe I might do the same when appropriate. Mine will be more utilitarian than hers which seems to be for amusement only.

Well, my internet time has come to an end. I hate that I can never really proofread these.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –


2 thoughts on “Pullin’ An American

  1. I’m Missing you. I loved talking to you this morning and all I think about is visiting you. Since you can’t come home, I will have to bring a little piece of home to you. I think I like the Filipino version of you. I always tried to get you to wear sandals when you were in California.

  2. Vickie (Bickie Bickie) says:

    Oh man! I’m super jealous of your experiences!!! I want to swim in crazy beautiful water and see all these awesome sites!

    I really empathize with what you say about your homesickness… (even though what I’m about to say after my empathy may not sound like I empathize. lol.) In fact, to illustrate my empathy, what you’re talking about is actually something I have realized in my own life and have actually come home to literally verbally say to almost everyone when I get home from any sort of trip whether it had been all the way to Korea or just to like, Dallas or somewhere… “No matter how much I desire to travel, and no matter how much fun I have and how awesome my experiences are or how thankful I am to have had them, I always, always, ALWAYS, can never wait to get back home and am ALWAYS so happy once I get back home.” It never fails. Every trip. There just really is no place like home…. and I always miss it when I’m away. Doesn’t matter how great the other places are or how sick I am of home once I’ve been here for a while. lol. It’s human nature, I guess.

    With that said, I wanted to point out that (and sometimes it actually helps me when I realize these things… so I hope it helps you too) what you are experiencing is natural… I learned in my intercultural communications class that when people live in a new place there is an actual like chart or diagram some guy came up with to describe the emotional states that usually take place. At first it’s new and exciting so there are many positive emotions. Then after a while there is a major downturn and the person just desperately wants to take a break from all this new stuff and just be back home. Then after that phase passes the person comes back up from the valley and is generally more level in their emotions… mostly happy about the new place with occasional upsets. So… it’s completely natural the phenomenon of peaks and troughs you are going through. …that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult though, and I’m not taking that fact away. It’s just interesting to me to realize there is an actual chart that describes pretty accurately what most everyone goes through when they live in a new place.

    It’s just easy to get melodramatic… and dare I say the favorite word when we were in high school? (emo!) about these things, so realizing the natural, just straight facts about stuff I think helps people to stay level-headed and even keel.

    Also, I know how much you enjoy snow and yet truly I’ve heard so many complaints about the snow from other people! 😦 I’ve missed seeing all your little facebook posts about how excited you are for the snow, etc. Whatever happened to people like you and me who appreciate snow? lol. Obviously you enjoy it way more than me though. But you will have many more opportunities in your life to experience snow. I know it’s sad to not experience this now, but sometimes the good things you are experiencing elsewhere require sacrifices. It’s kind of like in all my books that teach success principles. If you want something, you have to realize there are other things you are going to have to sacrifice in order to attain your dreams. (Again, just saying this as stuff to help you, but it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still difficult nonetheless.)

    Also, you know that if for whatever reason you were here in OK you would be bursting with dreams of travel and meeting/reaching new people. Experiencing new ideas, etc. You would be overwhelmed with boredom and churning with pent up energy and creativity as we all get after a while during the break times… So I guess my point is, yes you desire to be home, but you know if you were home you’d be desiring to be in the Philippines, yes? πŸ™‚ Angelina Jolie (my favorite actress… as you probably know…. and don’t hate! lol) got one of her first tattoos mentioning this idea. It was something about looking out a window or something because she said it represented how it didn’t matter where she was, she was always wanting to be somewhere else. Yeah… seems to be a common theme in this life.

    And as for the American thing, let yourself enjoy a bag of chips and a drink along with it once in a while. We’ll still love you. πŸ™‚ Plus (as one of my new friends has pointed out to me when I start to feel bad after I’ve slipped into perfectly normal indulgences) allowing yourself to enjoy these little treats keeps people sane. πŸ™‚ So don’t beat yourself up.

    Aaaaaaaaand…… when I’m going through my peaks and troughs of a new environments and homesickness in the future (I’ve been reading The Screwtape Letters (I’m LOVIN this book… really I love anything C.S. Lewis!) and that’s one of the themes that stuck out to me: “The natural phenomenon of troughs and peaks”…which is why I keep referring to it.. hee hee) when I live in LA after I graduate, you can likewise console me, empathize with me with your experiences in the ‘Pines, and just let me know the straight facts that keep us from getting to melodramatic like I have tried to do with you. lol. …Cuz truly I am scared about my future away from home… but that’s exactly why I want to do it, cuz I know I need to be pushed way outside my comfort zone to grow. In fact, besides pursuing my dreams of the performing arts that is the biggest reason for my move: to force myself to grow.

    Anyway, I hope you have a Happy New Year and comment me back on facebook or something… your thoughts of this comment or anything at all!

    Love ya, my friend! πŸ˜€

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