“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real…
No sympathy for the devil – keep that in mind- Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
-Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
If anyone has seen the movie, they know what depths of insanity this quote comes from. If you haven’t seen the movie, but know who Hunter S. Thompson (writer) or Terry Gilliam (director) are, then you can formulate an idea of what is going on in this quote.
I have always loved this quote. The way Depp’s character delivers the line is absolutely brilliant…the line itself is loaded with a tormented soul seeing the depths of insanity he is falling into while remaining sane enough to realize that he himself walked the path to arrive at this state. This, my friends, was me 2 weeks ago.
As some of you know, my organization has been facing a fairly rampant amount of turnover in the last couple of months. This attrition has been natural…nothing abnormal about it. The lifetime of people working in such a hard environment is short, and people have completed their 1-2 year cycles and are moving on. Unfortunately this departure of colleagues has all taken place in a relatively short amount of time, with the result being an added burden to many of us that will be staying! 2 weeks ago the burden had reached its crest for me…I was carrying more weight and doing more work than I have ever, EVER done in my life! I was not only doing my job (as described in previous posts) but also working with/overseeing 3 other sectors of activity that we are working in within my area of coordination. Furthermore, I was also working on an important project in an area that I don’t directly work in. All this to say, I was being stretched.
It was hard in the middle of it, but as the quote says, buy the ticket, take the ride. This is what I signed up for. NGOs are understaffed, overworked, and underfunded. We do our best to get the work done with as much quality as possible, but our resources often reduce our efforts. I have been doing my best to make our resources and personnel reach our goals, and at the busiest time 2 weeks ago when it was sucking the life out of me I had to suck it up and just make it through. I am through the worst of it now (for the time being) and I feel deflated in many ways. I just worry about what the future looks like, and I sincerely hope that we get good staff to fill the holes soon.
It is important to say that in the midst of all the exhaustion and concern, I am grateful for what this period has granted me. I have had to learn A LOT about programming, reporting, finances, and management that I didn’t know before. I have clearly seen the limits of my abilities and have been encouraged by the results of some of my efforts in areas I didn’t expect to perform well in.
The end of my stressful period was closed out by a party here in Yei, put on by another NGO down the road. This NGO has lots of money, and the Frenchman in charge took it upon himself to develop a social life in this town. He understands the fact that working in this atmosphere is hard, and, given the tasks at hand, should be dealt with earnestly. However, he also understands that we will all burn out and fail at our jobs if we don’t relax from time to time (something some of the more serious/somber/boring people don’t seem to think is necessary). So, in his effort to help the expatriate population of Yei relax, he built the Yeah Viking Bar. It is a small bar with, no joke, a sound system (with great dance music), cold drinks, strobe lights, laser machines AND….drum roll…a fog machine!!! So, after many hard weeks, Bethany, my peers and I all converged upon the dancefloor for a night of loud music, bright lights, and cold drinks…it was exactly what we needed.
Anyways, I am back in the saddle, counting down the days till my next R&R. Bethany and I are hanging in there, and are learning a lot about each other. It is hard sometimes to focus on what our marriage needs in this environment, but we have to do it so we don’t end up like the majority of people that split in this line of work. We try to avoid thinking of the future much and what it will entail, but it seems to come up often. We don’t know what we want…we have individual ideas, but making them mesh is the hard part. Furthermore, if we decide to stay in this line of work for a longer period of time, we have to figure out how to stay together, especially since the difficulty of finding a good situation for the both of us with my current employer will be difficult. These are just the things that run though my mind…we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but like I said, the future is always a question.
I just got a shipment of music from friends in the states…for those of you that know me, my music tastes are not replicated by anyone that I have been friends with since college…furthermore, they have evolved to a state where I know no one that likes the music I thrive on. In terms of bands people might know,I have been listening to early 70’s Black Sabbath and early 80’s punk rock (Black Flag, Minor Threat) and wondering what it would be like to be alive in those scenes where a style of music that would influence the future of rock was actually born. Why am I putting this down? Because its my blog. And because Music is one of the few things in my environment that I get complete control over (thank you Ipod) and I like talking about it. Needless to say, Bethany hates everything I listen to, so the majority of my musical enjoyment takes place with headphones on while her music pours through speakers (her music is more “socially acceptable” and doesn’t scare people).
Finally, Bethany and I have experienced the most severe disappointment in life we have ever faced. I bought a bootlegged version of the first season of Lost (bootlegs are all we can buy here…get off my case) and we have been watching it religiously over the last weeks. We just got to the final two episodes of the season only to have the DVD stop working. WE CANT FINISH THE SEASON! To make matters worse, my coworker just sent out season 2…so now it is sitting in our room, mocking us, laughing at our misery…and we cry.
Take care everyone…we miss and love you…