Thursday, September 20, 2007

Growing Pains

So things have taken a turn for the difficult. I don't know exactly what's been going on with me, but it's been tough. Actually, I do know. Classic, first three months at post syndrome of moodiness and listlessness and feeling a distinct lack of purpose.

What's been most difficult for me at the moment are problems at my bank. My bank is one of many MC2's in Cameroon. Recently, all of these MC2's were asked to change their statutes in order to be aligned with COBAC's (Commission banquaire de l'Afrique centrale) regulations. Out of all of the MC2's in the country, my bank is the only bank that has refused to adopt the statutes. And it is serious. It took me a while to piece all of this information together, and then to decide how to proceed. Unfortunately, I am very, very new in this position and don't know my own power or limitations, nor do I really understand the complex nuances of the relationships among the bank employees, or between the bank and its regulating organization. Anyway, there is a big, bad, serious, down-to-business meeting on the 27th. I am excited to see how it will pan out, although I feel like I've gotten swept into the drama of the situation, and I may be disappointed in the way it's resolved. The uncertainty of the bank has sort of bled into a vague, all-encompassing uncertainty about everything here. This uncertainty makes me tentative and makes it that much harder to get up when I know that I am going to have to DEAL with everything. Dealing with everything isn't actually dealing with anything, until you lose patience and start getting frustrated. I've been letting my frustration get to me.

Luckily, one of my lovely friends came to visit and we gossiped and shared our misgivings/aspirations/everything else and it made me feel so much more comfortable in my house. It's funny, ever since I arrived in Cameroon, I haven't really accepted what's happening to me in the present, thinking primarily about the things to happen in the future. Now, I've hit the ground running and wondering if this is really it, and if I can meet all the ridiculous expectations I've set for myself. To-do lists paper my (already) messy house, and yet I know that I won't get much past "buy tomatoes" unless I stop trying to quantify the success of my experience. It is completely addicting to compare myself to others. First of all, there are the other people in my stage. It's like, "Oh, you've only been to the bank twice? I go there all day, every day and know everyone's job inside and out." Then, there are the volunteers that have already been here for a year. It's like, "Oh, you don't speak perfect Cameroonian French? I've always spoken perfect Cameroonian French. Not only that, I single-handedly purged my bank of corruption and found the cure for cancer. It's really not that difficult. But don't worry if you're totally incompetent. Nobody does much work in their first year." Totally verbatim, I assure you.

So really, the existential crises, why-god-why, psychological delving has begun. Watch out. I swear I'll try and keep some clever, little anecdotes to please the masses.

For example, today we waited three hours to leave while the chargeurs sat around, argued, then proceeded to pack an entire living room set (complete with couch, armchairs, coffee table, and fan) onto the top of a bus, somehow also leaving room enough for everyone else's baggage. The trip itself was a mere 4 hours of Ivoirian pop music on repeat and chickens protesting being put in cages and bussed to their doom. I was very excited because I got my own seat and was sitting next to someone who smelled lovely. Ah, the small pleasures in life.

This week was tough, but I can only see that things are getting better. I really sincerely feel that after this, I will be able to do anything. For example, cook! I can cook. Hummus and tortillas from scratch in the dark. And it was delicious. Who knew? Finally.

I miss you all like crazy, especially with this tough week. I am thinking about you!