Monday, April 4, 2011

New Blog/ Update!

Hey all!

So its been a while since I have updated and since then I have calmed down and started into my medical clearance process. That being said, I have a new blog!! Its going to be dedicated to all things Peace Corps and I would welcome anyone to come and check it out. Its at:

Moving on from this topic I would like to go into a discussion that I just had with my boss about how Christians conduct themselves in the public eye. I feel like as of late there has been a huge resurgence in the idea that Christians are in charge of changing the minds/ converting every atheist they see on the street. This can be accomplished in one of many ways: waving signs, preaching the end of days, showing pictures of aborted fetuses, chanting songs about how much God hates the world and just generally making a fool out of oneself.

Here is my call to my fellow Christians: stop attempting to change what you view as the negative in the world and start being the positive light in the world that God has called you to be. Instead of holding signs and chanting at people outside of a Planned Parenthood, create a center that can support women that chose to keep their children and that can help them through this often judgmental and difficult challenge ahead.

Instead of yelling at students you don't know and condemning them all to hell (and I would remind you that you have no say in ANYONES eternal salvation but your own) try creating a youth group, or maybe passing out literature that isn't accusatory and hateful. If I were a person that didn't believe in God and was maybe looking for a church or a religion to join, I wouldn't waste my time looking into a group of people that firmly believe in a vengeful, hate filled God. Not only does this paint God in a certain light but it also makes Him very far away from the standard person, and why would anyone pray to a God that they can not know on a personal level?

Try being kind. It is so much easier to reach people when you are kind and through this you will be able to preach the word of God. People close their ears to hatred and violence and screaming, they don't have the time in their day to want to listen to that; but for kindness, of which some seem to be running on short supply, they have a moment for.

So there you go, my thoughts for the day on how the church and Christians as a whole community could improve themselves.

Much Love,
Singing Ginger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


No lie, I'm scared out of my pants about leaving. It is something that pops into my head at least once or twice a day and causes me anxiety and fear and cold sweats. The idea of leaving everything I know, to go do work I know next to nothing about, and all without the physical support of my family actually being there is horrifying. The real kicker is that I don't know if all of these feelings are normal or some internal indication that maybe this isn't the right thing for me to be doing right now. But I have to ask myself: if not now, when? And even though I may on some level not want to do this (and I'm not even really sure that's true) the person I want to be would do this, and I think that has to count for something. I also think it has to count for something that when I am not freaking out about this completely I am thinking about what an amazing adventure it is going to be, and how life changing as well. How often do people really have the nerve to do something life changing? Just thoughts.

~Singing Ginger

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peace Corps

So, long time no see, WAY long time, since he below post is all about how I took the GRE and that triangles really suck. Well, I'm still pretty bad at math, but in the mean time I have had a LOT of things going on in my life I feel the need to let all of you beautiful people know about.

Firstly: the GRE is no longer a big deal since I decided that I will not be going to Grad School next year. I want to have this second semester to boost my GPA and I also think that the experience of having a summer internship will help my chance of getting into a school of my choice as opposed to settling for something that I may not really be into.

Secondly: I had the thought to join the Peace Corps, then I applied and last week I interviewed and now I'm in. I know that sounds like a whole lot going on in a very short period of time, and you would be right int thinking that. I was told by everyone and their mother that I should be patient and be willing to wait since the whole thing takes so long, but I went from primary application to nomination in around a month.

Secondly part A: I have been nominated to serve in sub-Saharan Africa withing the Health extension of the corps. Now this could change since at the end of last week I realized that the departure date I had given my recruiter was wrong and that I would need to bump things back a month. Now you could be having one of two reactions to this. The first we will call "My Dad" which would be something along the lines of: "Thats not that big a deal since they could just send you over a month late, if they really want you they will figure it out." OR you could have what we will call "knowing how the government works" which would be more along the lines of: "There is no way in hell they are going t do that, and in all likelihood this is going to change where I end up and when I go there."

Here is the reasoning behind this train of thought: for a two year "deployment" with PC you have exactly 3 months of in country training before you are sent to your work site to work for the rest of your time. Another fact to note is that each individual country only gets sent out once a year. Meaning if you are going to Madagascar you will leaving on this certain day in this certain month and that is it until the next year. To delay my departure date and meet up with other volunteers for a month would not only be missing out on 1/3 of my training but also missing out on the critical social and mental adjustments that go on in the first month.

So anyway, I am waiting to hear back from my recruiter as to what happens now, since I have the sinking feeling that the original nomination was for something in August, and I now can't leave until September.

All of this is due to the fact that my residential college requires that I have a "Field Experience" aka internship before I can graduate. I assumed, since this requirement can also be filled with a one month study abroad, and because there is no specific timeline listed on their website, that this could be done in about 2 months. Of course I am the idiot that didn't ask about it until it was too late, but I found out last week that it actually has to be 14 weeks at 35hrs/ week. Anyway, I'm hoping I haven't just blown this whole thing, and I am also hoping that my recruiter doesn't think I'm doing this because I don't like my placement (because I really do!)

Okay, more later, have to pay attention in class now.

~The Ging

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why I Strongly Dislike Triangles

Took the GRE this morning, for sure bombed and am now a little bit bummed about the whole thing. Here is what bugs me: none of the words that were on the test where words that I have EVER encountered in my academic or professional life. I have not taken a math class since I was a freshman (which was 3 years ago) and why would I? I'm a comparative cultures and politics major!! The crazy liberal extremist/ conspiracy theorist in me would like to say that this is a ploy to get me to sign up for more classes that have nothing to do with my passions in life, which would make the college more money. Or so that companies like Kaplan (and I am not bashing this company but the system...especially since I use their products) can make a billion dollars off of me having to take their class in order to pass this stupid test.

Let me write a "heartfelt" apology that I knew what my passions were the second I stepped out of my high school and that I have never once doubted the major I am currently fulfilling at my university. Let me then apologize for not taking unnecessary classes so that I can be a "well rounded individual" when I know what I want to do with my life. I am well rounded, but that doesn't mean that I can answer a question involving what would happen if you rotated figure A around point B and then flipped it on its plane.

Here is what I can do: talk about Turkish politics, make a homemade veggie burger, live in a house with 27 other individuals, unclog a toilet, organize transportation for a group of individuals, get up every morning Monday-Saturday at 5:30am, back up an argument and then beat you over the head with it, communicate with non-english speakers, I can listen to hours to your heartbreaking story of how your boyfriend cheated on you with the girl next door, I can walk you home when you are drunk off your butt, I give a mean back rub, I write amazing love notes. I can laugh, I can cry, I can sing and dance and play on the swings like a two year old.

All of these are more important to me than know how to calculate the square root of the train traveling to Alabama at 60 gigahertz per half second. And if you think I am wrong...I don't really give two hoots!

With love always,
This Singing Ginger

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nightly Pondering

I don't know why the evening brings such a weird feeling of loneliness. Especially when I see no logical reason to be lonely. I have had a pretty good day, it was even accented with some truly beautiful moments. My boyfriend made me soup today, and set it on my bed for when I got home because he knew I was feeling kinda crappy. I got some work done, I got a great grade back on a paper, I had a nice dinner, there is no possible reason for me to be feeling anything other than fabulous...and yet, I do not.

Its odd, that emotion can be so illogical. That happiness could be prevented with something as trifling as hormones. I sitting here and watch "Last Tango in Paris" which I am sure does not help the situation, since the movie is essentially a cluster F#@* of emotions. Marlon Brando is fabulous though. It is such an odd thing.

Okay I think that is going to be it for the night. Hope to see you all soon

~The Singing Ginger

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last 72 Entry

If you want an explanation, read the post below this one. :)

My last 72 hours would come in 3-24hour stages. It would mean dealing with the future that my family is facing without me, enjoying our shared current present, and reconciling my future without them. I really do believe I could leave this earth relatively content knowing that those three things had been accomplished. A good friend of mine, who died of cancer when I was a senior in high school, told me a few weeks before she passed: “My part is easy, all I have to do is die; the hard thing is being around after I am gone.”

My first 24 hours would be leaving something to help my family and loved ones deal with the future they are facing without me. I have always loved to sing; since I was little music was something that has meant the world to me. Because of my passion, and because they don’t mind listening, big family gatherings are often marked with the talents of the younger generation. I sing, my brother plays cello, my sister dances and the cousins perform any number of talents. Though I was on a few tracks as a high schooler, I have never had any sort of solo recordings of my voice. I had always thought it would be nice to have at least one to listen to when I am old and can no longer produce sound the way I do now. Since I am not making it to “old” I would leave it for those that will.

My first 24 hours would be spent attempting to round up as many friends and family members as I could and cutting a CD. There would be a track for my brother to play cello accompaniment on, one with my sister and I giggling some random song we love to dance to, my cousin accompanying me on the guitar, and my mother, grandmother and I doing a trio (we are the only 3 generational family that sing at our church.) I would also do the solo songs that I know each family member loves to hear, and dedicate them to those that aren’t exactly “musically inclined.” At the end I would put a hidden track with a message to my family and friends about how much they mean to me, and that my life, though now cut short, has never been anything less than full because of them.

This disk would be my attempt to live on in a way I know they enjoy, as well as one they could remember me being passionate about.

My second 24 hours would be dealing with the shared current present that I am living right now with the people I love. If I’m going out, I’m going out with a party. My friend was able to help plan her funeral, and though I would probably take out an hour of my last 72 to deal with that type of stuff, it isn’t something I would want to spend a lot of time doing. My Greek and Swedish heritage on my Father’s side as well as the general Irish Catholic nature of my Mother’s side would first dictate that there be immense amounts of food that have to be prepared over the course of the day.

I would get once last chance to cook in the kitchen where I grew up with my mother and sister, one last chance to tell my brother to stop licking spoons, one last chance to blare music and tell my dad to get his butt into the kitchen and help out. There would be every kind of everything that I love to eat. My

Mother makes AMAZING pesto sauce from basil in her garden, which would be matched up with my Farmour’s hand rolled (by myself and younger siblings of course) Swedish meatballs, and spinach pie made by my Papou’s wife. Dad would do something on the grill, my Grandy LaVonne has a recipe for cranberry fluff that my sister loves to make, my Aunt Beth does pie the way some people do religion, my Uncle Paul whips up a mean bread pudding, my Aunt Bridget always brings amazing cheese, and my Aunt Martha would do something she saw on the food network. Everyone would be responsible for bringing “their dish”, the one that they feel best represents what they have contributed to my culinary existence. Everyone (including friends) would be welcome, but all must bring something to the table.

To be honest this party wouldn’t really be about the actual eating itself but everything that comes before it. The Holiday’s are not marked by the lifting of a fork to a mouth, but by what goes on in the kitchen, and the conversation that is had over the meal. My Uncle Paul argues politics around in circles unless he is talking to my Mom who knows how to debate him, my cousin Alex is slowly picking up the talent as well. My younger cousins attempt to stick around for “adult conversation” but peace out once their plates are clear only to magically reappear once dessert is served. My Grandpa Gayl has to sit next to my Grandmother and will take any opportunity to raise a very long toast in her name… and then again in the name of the family… and then again to the goodness of his life; they only get longer with each glass of wine. My boyfriend would sit quietly until someone brought up theoretical physics or skateboarding at which point he would jump into the conversation with much gusto. My Papou (grandfather in Greek) sits at the head of the table and asks how the education is going for each of his grandchildren in turn. My Uncle Peter and Aunt Dara don’t get along with Papou, but they would for me. In the meantime my Aunt Dara would ask about boys, and beer and parties. I would talk with everyone, until someone asked me to sing, probably right after dessert. Food, in my family, is really just an excuse.

The last 24 hours of my life on this earth would be spent solely with my immediate family. I love my boyfriend, I love my best friends, but family is family and there is no getting around that. I’m not married, and I wouldn’t have a chance to start my own, so they are all that I have in the world that is important. This last bit would be squaring away my own future that no longer includes the world I now live in. I was born and raised Catholic and still consider myself to be one, but the spirituality of all creation has always been something that has brought me peace. I’m reading the Qu’ran, I have been to temple, and though my place of worship is in a church, I’ve worshipped in a mosque, and in the forest, and under the stars. My God’s church is the world and so where I am, there too He will be. I would like to receive last rites, I would like to spend a moment of time alone in the sanctuary. This is the same church my siblings and I were baptized in, the same one my Grandmother was married in, and the same one where my Father married my Mother.

I would have a conversation with God, I would cry, and I would laugh, and I would square away all things that have been neglected or left undone between us. The conversation would end with an “Amen” and a “see you soon.”

There wouldn’t be much alone time after that. Every moment would be spent telling my family everything that I’ve been telling them all my life. My family has never been short on I love you’s. I am confident that if I died today while writing this contest entry in the Library of Michigan State University

that each and every family member I have would know that I loved them. Phone conversations, and good bye’s always end with those words, and so chances are, “I love you” would be the last words I had to any given family member. It would be more about telling them the WHY behind my love. Sure, my Mother is my Mother, and so therefore I love her in a certain way “just because”, but I’ve had 21 years of amazing life to build up the love for the four other individuals that make up my family beyond what their relationship to myself might mandate. On top of the conversations we would be having I would leave each of them a letter to open only after I had passed; something physical to look back on when they needed. The night would end on the couch, watching a movie, with my Mother rubbing my back and my dad peeling oranges for the rest of us.

There it is; no big trips, no crazy reconciliations, no emotional confessions and no regrets about how I lived my life.

Life as a Senior

Attempting to maybe get back into writing on this a bit more. Going to *copy/paste* two documents on here. One is the update I sent out to my family a week or so ago telling them about all the new news I have had during the beginning of the year. the other one is my submission to a writing competition called "Last 72 Contest." It involves writing about what you would do with your last 72 hours on earth and why. The top 13 get to be on a TV show, and the top 3 get cash prizes. I figure one is a good update on life and the other is the super personal side of things that I occasionally feel like sharing with anybody that cares to read. :)

p.s. if you are reading this and have your own blog (Andrew K) post and let me know what it is so I can start reading it!!!

Merhaba Family!

Now that I have gotten settled in with life and my last year of school I thought it might be high time to let you all know what is going on in life, because I know how all of you wait with baited breath for these e-mails. :)

I successfully moved into the Phoenix Student Cooperative about two weeks ago and, for the most part have been enjoying the lifestyle. If ever there was a place to pretend like you are living in the 1960's this would be it. I came to the house to find a full color portrait of Bob Dylan painted on my door, which is part of a hallway that has a giant, trippy mural floor to ceiling. For those of you unfamiliar with the CoOp system, my house holds 29 people (including myself) in both single and double rooms. Each person in the house has weekly chores they must complete on pain of fining, and that is how the house is kept clean, and functioning. Each week I get 3 dinners provided by a team of student cooks that live in the house (students can sign up for a cook position as part of their duties to the house) and I also have access to the "House Pantry" which comes stocked with general food items: peanut butter, jelly, milk, cereal, pasta, sandwich meats, cheese, fruit, veggies and condiments. When I sign over my rent check it isn't to some crazy landlord or a reality company but to a group of students that run the system. I get all of these wonderful things for about $1,500 cheaper per year than I did last year, and would HIGHLY suggest to any college goers that you look into your local CoOp systems, it is a wonderful way to live, and you meet so many fabulous new and different people.

Classes are far and away the most enjoyable ones I have had throughout my college career, it pays to be senior that is for sure. None of them start before 12pm (go ahead and call me lazy, I'm still waking up at 5:45am every day for rowing) and I have no Friday classes. My Senior Seminar is my most interesting course currently. A Senior Seminar is a James Madison capstone class that requires you to come up with original paper topic ideas with the semi-hope you might get published. I was originally signed up for a Sem about Cuba and Haiti but decided that, as wonderful as those two countries are, I have little to no interest in them. I asked my former Jews and Anti-Semitism Professor if there was anyway he would let me into his class and then tweak it a bit to fit my major (his Senior Seminar is for Social Relations and Policy people) and he agreed. I got the appropriate overrides and I'm now studying Social Relations within Nazi Concentration Camps. As bleak as it sounds, I find this topic terribly interesting and think it will serve me well if I am ever doing work with Humanitarian Aid or Genocide prevention groups. I also love my Professor and he has agreed to help me get published at the end of the year if I put a lot of work into it.

My next most interesting class would be Turkish. Thats right folks, I took my insane love of Turkey one step farther and am now learning the language (in case you hadn't picked it up with the greeting this email starts out with.) At this point I know the alphabet, numbers 1-40, days of the week, months of the year, and a super basic greeting conversation. My graduate student teacher is from Istanbul and can be a little hard to understand at times but since the class is only 6 people large I don't have a problem getting questions answered. :)

Next most important class would be my Islamic Empires class which is within the History Department and is teaching me the basis of Islam and the reigning empire from the 14th century through the 19th century. With my luck and some sort of divine providence my Professor is Turkish and would love nothing better than to hook me up with scholarships, and conversation groups in Turkish. She is a wonderful lady and I am looking forward to having a much better understanding of Islam at the end of the class. It is helpful that I am also reading the Qu'ran alongside the required course material. Fear not Grandma, I have no intention of converting anytime soon, but find that people are most scared of what they do not know, and I don't plan on being a cowardly person if I can help it.

I am also taking a voice class on the side for fun, but probably wont write much about it since it is super basic and not really worth noting. Might mean some classic performances for people around New Year's and Christmas. :)

The year is certainly starting off with a bang and I would have it no other way. I'm dealing with Graduate school applications as well as looking for a summer internship in a Human Rights group, or with the State Department (if anyone has any connections and wants to help me out, please let me know!) All in all the motto of the year is: productivity or die. Its going to be a good time :)

Hoşçakal! (H-oh-sh-ch-ah-kal)

Love, Claire