On the Brink of Madness

Today was supposed to be the first planned event – the opening plenary – for the Congress Committee, but they postponed it to tomorrow morning so that people who aren’t here yet will be able to participate. Today was not a fully free day for the Marketing team, though. We made our promotional team video. I’m technically also supposed to make a presentation about myself with pictures and music and all, but I don’t know if I’ll have the ganas to tonight. Plenary is tomorrow at 9 AM.

I went to bed at about 1:30 AM, after meeting everyone who was here and giving Tiffany (who I’ve finally seen again after six months) her care package from our LC and her glasses. She got me a sweet tapestry from Kenya. I felt like a jerk for not having bought anything particularly special. I was awoken at 11:50, still way jetlagged and exhausted, with a call to be in a Marketing team meeting at 12:30. This wasn’t planned! But luckily it was just unofficial orientation and planning for making our teambuilding and CC promotional materials. I imagine the video will pop up on YouTube someday.

The cafeteria here at the university (Yeditepe) serves pretty good Turkish food. This is good, since the place in Warsaw last year was really not so good, especially that one time when we all got sick after two bites and had to go to the pizza restaurant across the street. It’s hard to know much about the food though because Turkish is not an easy language, and I’m not exactly going to learn it in a month. It all rests on the mighty reputation of the doner kebap.

After lunch was filming until about 5, though Tiffany and I and some others had plans to go to a place to smoke some shisha (nargile in Turkish). Our plans were foiled regularly until after dinner that night, when we finally went ourselves. The place we intended to go was closed, and a nice man had his young 7-year old daughters show us around the neighborhood to find a place that was open. After two strikes, we found a good place at the edge of the neighborhood. Since no one who said they would come could contact us to find this new place, we were alone. We had a good, long catch-up conversation, along with our usual conceptual developments in thought. The shisha here is the strongest and best I’ve ever had – much stronger than anything I’ve ever had in the US without a doubt. Also, we quit smoking after an hour and a half and I thought my head was going to fly away, but the same bowl was still going strong. Efe, from Turkish Cyprus, told me that the bowls here usually last two hours. We also had two chais, a Turkish coffee, and a soda water (her bad idea) between us, and with the nargile it only cost 13YTL – about $10. Not bad, Istanbul.

We then went one place down to sit with some other CC members, who had piled in without our notice. There was more smoking, and we met some new people who had arrived that day. During our stay there, three policemen came in and demanded to see all of the ID cards of the Turkish patrons of the cafe. When I asked Efe about it he said “get used to it, it’s Turkey.” He said they can do that without a warrant or anything, and they do it often. On the way back to the university I saw two dogs copulating.

I applied for an MC CEED in AIESEC in Ecuador, which I’ll find out if I get that Monday. If I don’t have an electrical engineering job by August 14 (which I’m doing everything to get – I got another possibility in Izmir in Turkey for the fall just from being here) then that looks like the best option.

I’ll be able to blog more regularly while I’m here, I think – and since the days will be full, challenging, and fun, that will be a fruitful task.

Don’t Be Denied

The greatest things happen. You get back from the greatest conference, a newly fortified grand human being. Snatch about four hours of sleep back in Valencia before catching the six AM train down to Gandia to begin an amazing week of roadtripping (I invented the Spanish word via de calle) and camping through Andalucía, see faces old and new, return and begin the final crunch. You do and learn difficult things. Your amigo comes to visit. And you wake up on a Sunday afternoon, connect to the series of tubes and you get a message from a member of your fabulous TEAM from ITC with the subject line: Next Challenge – Chair for German Regional Conference?!?

And even though you promised yourself that after returning from Romania you would not leave Spain until you were back in the Land of the Free, even though there are so many great trips you could be taking in Spain, even though the plane tickets are a wallet-busting €50, you realize, by Dog, that’s a great opportunity, and you’re flattened and flattered that they would ask you do to it. So you say, “OK.”

And you chair the first offer that came to your box, which will just so happen to be, the best conference in the world, it was the best conference in the world.

That is how I’ll come to be the chair for Germany’s Wild West Region summer conference “Bonanza” from June 14-17.

The greatest things get even better. I was selected to be on the Marketing team as part of the Congress Committee of AIESEC International Congress 2007 in Istanbul, Turkey. This means 40 days of working on the most difficult and significant project I’ve ever been a part of. I am certain I’m going for the right reasons, and I’m going to put myself 100% into the work. I expect to cause a revolution. 40 days living with people from 50 countries in Istanbul and working harder than we’ve ever worked will do some kind of trick. Plus, I’ll get to reunite with one of the big characters of the great Story.

But nothing gold can stay, I know you’ve heard that story told. My love affair with Spain will be cut off on July 1, when I ride back into Atlanta on a white horse. There will be many meetings, and I’ll finally get to return to my own mecca-trough. Have you ever seen the Blue Ridge Mountains, boy? I’ll see them when I return to the steps of Lee Hall in Black Mountain, NC for the YMCA Youth & Government Council on National Affairs (CONA) 40th Anniversary Reunion. How I got there the first time is just the damnedest story, and the people who’ve affected me since – the future conqueror of Planet Earth and the person who, though too far away, still makes me believe in the music of life – will join together again. It’s my blue sky, my sunny day.

But before it all, I’ve got one test, hopefully a visit from a future nomad – my sister – followed by the Bonanza conference, and then to San Sebastián where I’ll encounter my Spanish amiga Alicia and take in quite the beach and pintxos scene.

And before I forget to write for a long time and lose that feeling, I have to say that the one thing I miss truly and forever and that never fails to bring me euphoria is playing music. It is a perpetual dolour to be around people with their drum circles and guitars and smaller instruments and only be able to clap, because everything I play is so large and not portable. Jealousy threatens me when I hear tell of my friends who go to the Capstone or UGA and they can play music all the time (and make a better living than I do at co-op), but it is nigh impossible to keep up at Georgia Tech. Lament of my life. I don’t need drugs. I get my seratonin high elsewhere, when I can.