So, in a short three hours now, I’ll be leaving for Costa Rica. I’m looking forward to it but at the same time dreading it. Here’s why for everything.
It’s not going to be a two-week party. Our professor has said numerous times that it’s going to be hard work, because the whole time, we’ll be working on interviewing people and listening to them casually in order to find out stuff about our research questions. My research question goes, “How do conceptions of sustainability affect land use in the cooperative?” The cooperative is a little one in the town (pop. about 370) where we’ll be staying; it’s been around for some 40 years or so and they grow Indian palms on it, for palm oil for export. There’s also a huerta (a farm for foods for people there to eat) and a dairy and a tourist restaurant and some other neat stuff, but the palm plantation is their big money-maker. Each of us will be volunteering every morning, starting about 6:00, on one of the various operations they have there, and then finishing at noon.
I’ll be on the palm plantation, working to pick up the palm fruits (or whatever other work they’ve got going on—I don’t know where in the season they are). That’s fine, totally fine. What’s got me a little more worried is that while I’m working I’ll also have to be asking people what they think of the chemicals that are used there, and water quality, and ways the coop has improved the land since it got started. And then after lunch I’ll ask other people, in interviews that I schedule with them. I just realized as I was typing that that I don’t know how I’m supposed to go about scheduling those interviews. I’m sure things will become clearer to me as I go along, but I feel adrift right now. I tend to feel like that a lot in this class, because it’s not technically an anthropology seminar, but rather a Global Development Studies seminar that I can get anthro credit for, and I never took Intro to GDS. I’ve kept up, even if I sometimes felt like a dog chasing a bus, and I figure I’ll still keep up.
I’m given to understand that when we’re done with our afternoon interviewing work, we’ll have some time to chill out and do fun things like go down to the river and swim. We’ll each have a free day where we can go to the beach that’s a shortish bus ride away, or go to a zipline, or raft down the river. These are all reasons I’m looking forward to the trip. Put simply, there are going to be opportunities to have lots of fun there. It’s just that we’ll be doing a lot of work. Hopefully I’ll get into a stride and the work will feel less like work and more like just casually asking people questions.
I wonder what’ll happen on my birthday. Probably something fun. Like Dan did, I’ll be turning 21 in a country where it doesn’t matter a whit (Costa Rica’s drinking age is 18), but I’ll probably still have a drink or something.
I should talk about the last two weeks. As you probably expect by now, they were full of lots of work. I also started looking into a different internship that’s not the one I interviewed for in Chicago. It’s at a New York company that publishes indie, radical books. I found out about it from one of the guys who founded Press back in 2006—I called him up because I remembered both of those guys had had internships in publishing somewhere. The company is pretty small and runs in significant part off of volunteer power, so I got offered the spot without needing to interview. That made my options look different all of a sudden. I could work with this company that makes books that I’d enjoy reading a lot more, and probably get to do more different things than I would in Chicago, but I’d have to figure out a place to live and a way to pay for that place to live. Or I could stick with Chicago and do lots of proofreading in a building that’s fairly nice inside but situated in a faceless office park next to a suburb that has no qualities, and live for free in a house with a full kitchen. I called up the New York company the other day and found out more about what I’d be doing there. It breaks down like so: about 75% of it would be reading submissions and deciding whether or not the company should publish them, and drafting acceptance or (much more likely) rejection letters. The other stuff would be either administrative stuff like sending packages, or checking proofed copies of manuscripts against the copies going to print to make sure the changes all got in. (Apparently they get their proofreading done by freelance proofreaders. This is an occupation that I didn’t know existed, but I’m all of a sudden interested in it, because I love proofreading stuff, and I think I could be really good at it, and as a bonus I could work from home, which cuts out the commute. You may hear more about this thread of thought in the future.) I feel like I should know more about the company before I would presume to reject people who want to have their work published by them, but at the same time, I’ve gotten fairly good at trawling through the submissions that we get at Press and picking out the good ones and predicting which ones will get axed at our meeting. The woman I talked to in New York told me I should take a week or so to decide, since she knows I’ve got logistical stuff to think about and that I had just then for the first time heard the description of what I’d be doing. We’ll see which way things swing. It still, of course, depends on whether or not I get the spot in Chicago—they haven’t written me back yet (shame on them).
What else? Not too terribly much. I made jarred cinnamon spiced peaches with the Food Preservation Society, and I met the people I’m going to be learning to watch birds with in the student-taught birdwatching class. I messed up some deadlines but amazingly there were no long-term repercussions for me because of it. Today I discovered my passport was missing from my lockbox, so I tore up my room looking for it for two hours, and eventually found it in one of the least obvious places it could’ve been: under my bed, all the way back to the wall, draped with fallen cobwebs. That was pretty unnerving, though, since I would’ve missed the trip and probably failed the seminar. And now I know that things aren’t always in a common-sense place. As near as I can figure, I left it on the floor when I was filling out some sort of driver’s-license form or something, and it got kicked all the way back there. Or, it got claustrophobic in the lockbox and contorted its way out to go make friends with the dust bunnies. Oh, and before that happened, I rediscovered what it’s like to have free time: I got a lot of work done on my font last night (more than in the last several weeks together), and I found some really cool stuff on the internet, for example this page written by a guy who lives out in the woods and this video about a guy who built not only his own cabin but his own cabin-making tools (check out the other two videos about him on that page, too). I’m looking forward to at last having meaningful amounts of free time this summer. Neither internship will be a full-time job, and even if they were I’d have time for fun stuff anyhow. I’ll probably finish another whole font this summer besides Solvejg (which I still hope to finish before the school year is out), one that I like called Walleye. And I’ll do a lot of exploring wherever I am, and I’ll have lots of fun, because I refuse not to. I enjoy my future, and I’m going to enjoy it even more when it’s my present, which won’t be too long now.
Speaking of which, the three hours I mentioned earlier have now shrunk to two, so I should make sure there’s nothing else I need to do before I leave to take the bus to the airport and get out of Dodge. I might find the internet sometime before I get back, but if not, I’ll be back on this blue screen with the dots in two weeks. See you then!