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Peter, PA (Post-Armenia)

Peter, PA (Post-Armenia)

After six months in my own personal hell, I made it safely back the US: land of McDonald’s, Starbucks, and smiles (all of which are lacking in Armenia). I know that my critique of little Armenia Jackson may have come across as harsh and whiny, so I think that I owe my blog followers a justification for my massive hate of a country with so few friends.

I did not choose to go to Armenia because I liked the country. I was indifferent to it but really wanted to intern with the UN. A UN internship is very selective and only applicants enrolled in a graduate program are supposed to be eligible. Little old fat girl Peter from Oklahoma never imagined he would be selected for such a position, especially while not even a grad student. So I jumped at the opportunity and gave up a lot to finance my six months in former USSR-land: I sold my car, left my friends in Oklahoma, moved away from the boy I was hardcore into. (Now, that I’m back, I have only regained the friends)

I’ve lived abroad in three countries before (four if you count Oklahoma) and always had to struggle a little bit before enjoying myself completely. With Armenia, the joy never came. Yerevan, the capital where I lived, is a disgusting Soviet construction that prides itself on being a subpar replication of a European city. Over the years, the city has eliminated a great deal of its historical landmarks in place of luxury boutiques, like Armani and Versace, and fancy apartment complexes that are continuously empty because few residents have the money to afford such a posh lifestyle. Corruption is rampant and much of the older generation even prefer Soviet times because they at least were employed and enjoyed an adequate standard of living. 

This background makes you feel for the average Armenian a little. They are cheated by the oligarch government and can’t always make ends meet for themselves. But then, you realize that Armenians have no understanding, etiquette, or common sense when it comes to foreigners like me. The UN, in theory, is meant to combine national and international expertise to create stability, economic growth, development, all that. I feel like a terrible person after all of my cultural sensitivity training, but I could really give two shits about Armenia’s future now. The country does not function well, not many people want to do anything about it, the people that do want to do something don’t have the skills to change anything. This is Armenia in a nutshell.

So, working at the UN in such an environment was frustrating. I was given work during my six months that I could have completed in one month. No one knew what to do with me. My office mate was bipolar and cried twice while I was in the office. What is this shit? 

But what really got my gander was the way I was treated as a foreigner. Let me be honest for two secs: I’m tall, white, and semi-racially ambiguous. If you have a problem with any of these characteristics, get away from my blog. Not to brag, but I have traveled quite a considerable amount before and usually blend in to some degree. In Yerevan, people gawked at me like I was the fucking lovechild of the Abominable Snowman and Godzilla. Walking down the street, minding my own business, heads would turn, jaws would drop, eyes would not blink. I hit a low point during my last few days. I yelled at a 9-ish-year-old girl as I walked by. In America, our parents would say something. “Staring is not polite.” “Don’t stare. It’s rude.” In Armenia, the parents are right next to their spawn, eyes wide open like I’m a rainbow polar bear. I just want to go to the grocery store like everyone else!

Also, the one quazi-gay club in the city (stupidly named DIY) had a firebomb thrown into it and was shut down. My guess is that it was not homophobes but rather people who thought the club’s name was dumb. Don’t you go to a gay club so you don’t have to “do it yourself”?

My travel back to the US was a little unnerving but I made it back safely in the end. After three hours of delay, we left Yerevan in a snowstorm. Shortly after takeoff, I was convinced that we were going to crash and I would die. I accepted my fate, but was disappointed because my journal would probably blow up. How would my memoir ever get published and become a bestseller? Two separate Armenian children kicked the back of my seat from Vienna to Washington and the airline lost my bag. I consider this a final “Fuck You” present from Armenia. Don’t worry I won’t be back hopefully ever. 

Despite the horrors of this trip, I’ll try to be introspective and corny to make it seem like all of this effort was not in vain. Armenia helped me cope with my anxiety a lot. In the US, I would have an anxiety attack and call my friend or roommate or rush myself to the ER because I thought I was dying. When panic attacked in Armenia, I just accepted that I would die and no one would find me for a week or so. Slowly, I realized that I wasn’t dying and that freaking out over not having a job is silly. I had to find my priorities, which are people I love and the things I love doing. Now, that I’m back in the US, I could continue to freak out over the fact that I have no car, no place of my own (YET), and I just took a nap in Lion King sheets, but I won’t. Things, like my blog, are way more important.

The Art of Being Poor

The Art of Being Poor

I did it, guys! I made some friends in Armenia. But, since there has to be a balance in the universe, I seem to have lost, or at least conveniently lost contact with, a lot of people that I considered really important to me back in Oklahoma. Am I sad about it? Yes. What am I going to do? Save my tears and cry into my pillow at night just like Abby Lee Miller taught me to.

My friends are a diverse group: Armenians, Poles, Americans, Koreans. (Polish and Korean girls seem to be a necessary part of my social life wherever I go). We started just by eating lunch together but now we’ve moved on to traveling together and kicking ass at bar trivia once a week. (If you were wondering, Armenian beer DOES, in fact, suck major asshole and not in a good way.) We’ve also had dinner at each other’s apartments and I even brought them to the top of my apartment building, which has a spectacular view of the city and Mount Ararat. When I go up there alone, I am inspired to have indie photo shoots and write emo phrases all over my forearms. Needless to say, that’s my fav part of my apartment. And I like my friends a lot!
But let’s get to the lesson of this blog post: I am the best at being poor. I came to Armenia with less than $1000 in my bank account and more than that in medical bills that I keep running away from. This talent of “poor-ocity” is a gift God gave very few of us. Therefore, I would like to grace you with my knowledge that will hopefully keep you alive even in the most meager financial circumstances.
Pita’s tips for being needy:
1. Pick a ghetto place to live. My toilet runs all day and I haven’t really figured out how to use my hot water/if there is hot water. There are hoodlum children that run around outside and yell at their moms 24/7 and the other day, my doorbell rang 5 times, all to people that had no business bothering me. The apartment doesn’t have a microwave, which is kind of a dealbreaker. I don’t really cook using real appliances so I make everything in the one pot I own or eat cheese and bread. This brings me to my next tip.
2. Eat as little as possible. The first few days I was here were awesome because I wasn’t hungry. I was depressed and in a new environment, both of which make me lose my usually endless appetite. So, I got in the habit of eating one to one and a half meals per day. One of these meals was usually bread. One time, there was a farewell party at work and I hate so many hors d’oeuvres that I didn’t have to eat dinner. It was fantastic. At first, I loved my temporary anorexia. I was walking everywhere and not eating so my pants got looser and everything was great. But the downside of not putting anything inside your body is that nothing comes OUT of your body…like for three/four days. Yeah, not healthy. Plus, the cheapest shit is always loaded with carbs, which is not anorexic-friendly. If I were a dedicated T.Ano-Rex, I would eat one meal a day and it would be Ex Lax. I also have a weakness for ice cream. So, my weight loss plan didn’t work out but I still am a cheap mofo. I eat animal crackers with milk instead of cereal and I steal the UNICEF water from work. I almost stole the air freshener, but it wouldn’t fit in my pocket.
3. Don’t have friends. So this one wasn’t really my choice at the beginning but it happened and I got used to it. When you have friends, anything you do requires money: drinking, going the movies, eating, having sex. When you have no friends, your activities include sitting on your ass, applying for jobs like a madman, watching seasons of Desperate Housewives, and crying. The last one sucks because you get dehydrated and have to ration out more of your stolen UNICEF water.
4. Other ways to save money: cut your own hair until you regret it, walk everywhere even when you feel like you’re going to have a heat stroke, charge all your electronics and use the facilities at work as much as possible (saving electricity and water/air fresheners respectively).
I’ll finish this post with another list. For the record, I still dislike Yerevan. The drivers are morons, the air is polluted, and everyone still stares. I know it’s because I wear shorts and my legs DON’T look like you took a broomstick, covered it in molasses, and rolled it over a herd of gorillas. (This means Armenians are hairy). Anyway!
1. Armenian girls don’t eat. Every time I see them in the cafeteria at the office, they have like two tomatoes and three olives and rave about how full they are. Yeah, girl. I see you wearing those Hannah Montana-sized clothes and I wish I could fit into them too.
2. They think I’m British. WTF? I almost took this job teaching at a local high school but the pay wasn’t worth it. The English teacher kept telling me to make a PowerPoint presentation about London or the Olympics or the weather in England. Obviously, she should NOT be teaching English if she thinks the words coming out of my mouth sound anything like Madonna’s. (That’s a joke, you guys. I know Madge is from Michigan.)
3. My latest obsession and goal is doing the splits. My flexibility is something that I’ve been “complimented” on before though it’s weird when it comes from a boy you’ve met in the biblical sense (if you can use that expression with gay boys).
Me: “I’m really flexible”
Boy who will stop talking to me in a week: “Yeah, I’ve noticed”
Me: “Thanks?”
It’s not the sexiest talent but ain’t no boys coming to dip this pretzel in cheese any time soon so I can do whatever I want.
If you find me a job, I’ll show a pic of me splitting like a banana!
The Bitchy Post

The Bitchy Post

Don’t worry guys; it’s here. Don’t know who’s going to read this because hardly anyone likes my Facebook statuses or photos or ANYTHING any more (Come on now!). So, this is my inevitable blog post when I’m abroad where I bitch about how things suck and how I don’t want to be here. Usually, things get better after I describe to the virtual world the (not-so) terrible situation I’m in.

Here goes!

I have no friends here. Period dot. None. Not one. I have been here over a month and I’m still on the struggle bus to Friendshipville. Of course, I’ve met people. And they’re nice. But I have like two numbers in my phone and I never use them. Also, no one thinks I’m funny. So, I just laugh with myself a lot. Have I told you that one of my best friends(?)/frenemies lives like 4 hours away and won’t talk to me? Cool man, cool. You win. You’re better than me. You’re having a good time with your friends and I’m not.

But I will entertain myself with all these things on my “no friend” to-do list:
1. Solo photo shoot in my apartment (let’s be honest, I probably won’t have clothes on in most of the pics, might be some fire/props in there too. Who knows?).
2. Have a competition with myself to see who can go the longest without washing his hair? Wonder who’s going to win?
3. Throw moldy food at the hooligan children downstairs in my apartment complex.
4. Have a séance to talk to the spirit of my dead cat Bubbles.

Let’s get all the bitching out right now. Everyone stares at me. And not discretely, like 15-second stares. Armenians CANNOT (CANNOT!) walk in a straight line. The sidewalk can be 8 feet wide and they will zigzag the fuck out of that slab of concrete. Always in my way. Like super jumbo maxi pad Always Ultra!

Armenians, like Turks, have a very distinct…smell. I’m scared because I think I’m starting to smell Armenian. ☹

Ok, venting is over. I have to tell you what happened a couple of weekends ago. My supervisor/boss? is a really nice British guy. I don’t understand his accent a lot of the time but we get each other. He invited a bunch of young(er) people from the office out on a Thursday night. We went. It was lots of fun. Food and wine at a fancy restaurant. The whole time I was hoping that one of the nice older guys would offer to pay because I’m poor, and they did! I drank quite a bit because the alcohol was free and I somehow end up with two old guys who said they would give me a ride home. The older one, probably around 60, was the drunkest and started talking about getting a prostitute. Haha. We’re laughing. It’s funny. Next thing I know, I’m in a hotel and we’re asking the front desk for a prostitute. How did I get myself in this position? Lucky for me, they didn’t have any available (maybe they’re all on maternity leave) so we ended up at Cinnabon at 2am. Needless to say, I was kind of out of it at work the next day.

Last weekend, I was in a mood. No surprise there. I had no plans, which is normal, so I decided to walk around the city a little. It’s easy to get stuck in my own little bubble so I tried to branch out. I sat at this restaurant and overheard these three girls talking. I realized they were speaking Hebrew and finally got up the nerve to ask them if they were from Israel. They invited me to sit with them and we spoke in Hebrew for a while. (Remember that one time I spent years learning Hebrew because I fell in love with a boy from Israel?) They were visiting Armenia and were trying to get to this Mime festival in another city. Mime like black and white shirt, painted face. Whatever floats your boat. I must mention that these girls were hippie shit. Not in a derogatory way but they were like the definition of hippie. Long dresses, dreadlocks, hairy armpits. Somehow I end up going with them to this festival. I thought we would come back that night but we didn’t. It was an adventure and I hardly spent any money so I can’t complain. We came back to Yerevan and they asked if they could stay with me for a night. Sure, I have no friends and nothing to do. One night’s no big deal.

Can I take a shower? Ok, fine.
Can we all do our laundry? Uhh sure but you have to buy soap.
No, it’s ok we’ll just use yours.

I was pretty on edge at this point because I like my space. The kicker was the next morning. They had to get up early to leave so they “tried” to be quiet. Well, they weren’t. I was wide awake in my bed and I look over and one of them is eating my cereal. EATING. MY. CEREAL! I hadn’t even opened the box. But she helped me out with that. Sorry this isn’t a kibbutz. Time to go! They were very sweet but obviously it’s hard to host 3 people in a studio apartment when you like your space.

This has been the bitchy post y’all. Stay tuned for pics from my sensual greasy-haired photo shoot. Fierce and Love…

Officially a Kardashian

Officially a Kardashian

So, I somehow managed to make it to Yerevan, Armenia, where I am interning with the UNDP for six months. It was a pretty big decision to make because I’m poor, medicated, and knew zero people in Armenia before coming here. But I figured I might as well let this tiny mountain country handle my jelly for a while.
I had been eager to get out of Norman for a while, or so I thought. I wanted a big boy job and all the benefits that come with it. I anticipated life after graduation would suck with no job, but this summer was actually a lot of fun. The morning I left for my 20-hour drive back to Virginia, I sobbed so hard I needed paper towels (not tissues). That might also be because I left a certain boy behind.
After days of round the clock anxiety, I finally set off on my trip to Armenia. Luckily, someone was waiting for me at the airport and drove me to another person’s apartment where I would be staying. Super nice, right? The only catch is that the guy who lives in the apartment is out of the country. So, I’m all alone in this apartment with no internet, I miss my friends, AND I can’t sleep. This led to some serious feelings of anxiety, depression, and doubt about whether I made the right choice about coming here L.
My first day I was on my own and only went into the city to use wifi  at a local café. I needed to tell my momma that I was alive! Other than that, I just stayed at home because it was damn hot out. On my second full day, I met up with someone from the UNDP office who offered to help me get a cell phone. She gave me a tour of the office and being the dork I am, I got chills walking around the place because IT’S THE UN!!! Ani introduced me to some of her family and friends and we just hung out in Yerry (Yerevan). One of her friends, who I assumed was gay, kept asking me about girls, which I assumed was a ploy to out me so he could out himself and make the moves on me. Instead this is how it played out:
Unibrow (Use your imagination to figure out why this is his codename): You have a girlfriend?
Me: No.
Unibrow: There are many beautiful girls in Armenia. You want an Armenian girlfriend?
Me: No.
(I thought his reaction would just be like “Oh, yes, you are a player! You want many girls.” but instead, he went for the money.)
Uni: You do like girls, right?
Me: …No.
U: There are many beautiful boys in Armenia!
Me: But isn’t it kind of weird to be gay in Armenia?
(You know what I mean. Like am I going to get stoned for it?)
U: I think that it’s weird everywhere to be gay. (<=best quote ever)
Antywhoze, the night was fun. I was glad to make some friends and not be left sitting at home reading a book and doing sudokus. Let me remind you that there is no internet in the apartment! The bar we went to was nice but so strange. It’s called Bourbon Street and the menu consists of Cajun chicken and “chilli”. That’s right, with two “L”s. While showing episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory and other cartoons on a projector, they played an assortment of American music that included Backstreet Boys, Fergie, and the soundtrack from Sister Act 2. It was pretty happening. I think I got a good feel of the Armenian youth. Some girls are quite pretty as Unibrow told me, but the guys don’t have as much luck. For example, Bourbon Street probably had 50-75 people there Saturday night. Imagine both you and I went together and I was describing a guy to you. This is how the convo would go:
Me: Hey, you remember that guy from BS? (which is what I’m going to call that place from now on).
You: Which one?
Me: The attractive one.
You: Oh yeah, I know exactly who you’re talking about.
There was also the typical gay guy who hasn’t realized he’s gay yet but has man boobs and knows all the lyrics to every Rihanna song. We see you chubby gay!
I’ll leave you with a list of my personal observations of Armenia so far:
1. Approximately 90% of Armenians need makeovers. In terms of clothing and personal upkeep, I give pretty much everyone an E for effort. But most guys’ haircuts are gross, like mullets and shit. A lot of girls try to be fashion forward but many fail and end up looking like Big Ang from Mob Wives.

2. Not many people wear shorts. Sorry if I offend you Armenia but if you see how much I’m sweating right now in my shorty shorts, you can imagine how bad this would be if I was wearing jeans like you are. There would be puddles of ass-sweat all over your city.
3. How I am going to learn this language???