I spent Monday afternoon in Chisinau for part of my yearly medical exam that is given to us by the Peace Corps, and then headed to have a taste of America at MallDova, meet up with my host sister, and also with another friend. I was expecting a rather late night with friends so I thought a coffee would be a good idea... and it was... until later (which I'll also get to later).
It was great catching up with my host sister even though she was working... but it gave me time to meet her Greek boss, which, although he loves women in a way that was actually a bit uncomfortable for me, taught me a lot about Moldovan culture that I never knew before. He pointed out that prostitutes here in Moldova are not like the prostitutes in other places in the world. The women here, from his... err... experience... sell their bodies 3 or 4 times a month just to survive. More specifically, just enough to make ends meet. It's possible they charge by the hour, but stick around for more (for dinner, a coffee, a walk, etc). At least this is what he says... and this also relates to not just prostitution here but the workforce in general. His employees at the restaurant in the mall will work just a couple of days a week for a few hours... enough to survive... and then ask for a raise, where his response is, "If you want a raise, then show me you want to work more and I'll give you more money".... (ok, so this is kind of a broken and all over the place paragraph but moving on)...
So then I went bowling, where my highest score was 97 (so close!). I really enjoy bowling but I always forget the pain I'm in the next day, and few days after that! My right fingers and wrist/forearm are so sore... and for some reason so is my left butt muscle. Ouch... but at this point the coffee seemed to be wearing off, so I decided it was time to head to the apartment for be at 10pm...
But then the mosquitos started buzzing. And while I couldn't open my eyes, my body and mind wouldn't sleep (baaad coffee... baaaad!!!). So I was just waiting until 5am when I would leave the apartment and head to Peace Corps (where I then found out I wasn't allowed in until 6:30... fail..)... but at 4am all of a sudden I got a surge of energy, adrenaline, and wonderful thoughts. I have an idea. And here's how it started:
You see, there is this awesome photojournalism seminar next June in Cape Town, South Africa. And I want to go. But, well, it's expensive (but you can't pay for experience... right?). However, there is good news! The offer a scholarship! I just have to apply for it before it's gone, and I have to prove why I'll take what I learn from the seminar and apply it further than just improving my photography... and travel more :). So I figured I needed a theme for when I travel because up until now, I've just carried my camera with my and snapped a shot when the need was there. But what would that theme be? War? Famine? Dying children? While all of that is very important and needs to be addressed for sure, I felt like there had to be something else. And then at 4am it hit me: happiness. Why not go to those places that are generally given a "bad rep" for being poor, or sad, or sick and find the happiness... and photograph it? I mean, Erik Weiner wrote in The Geography of Bliss (which unfortunately is NOT available on the kindle and I really want to read it!) that Moldova is " statistically the saddest country in the world.".. and that he didn't like it. After living here for 14 months (wow, where did the time go?) I have to disagree. There is no way Moldova is the saddest country in the world! And I have many photographs to prove it. So if I were to use those photos as a start (and this project will be great to get me through the hard winter.... which I believe is when he came to Moldova), then go to the seminar, get a boost of knowledge, then hit the road finding happiness where there is supposed to be sadness... it will be a great success. And I hope to receiving funding with kickstarter which funds creativity... and then after the traveling, publish a book of smiles! Would you buy it?
So that's my exciting news for the day. There is a movie out now that you should check out: thehappymovie. It looks great and is only showing in limited locations. It's kind of the same idea, and I found the link after I had my idea... I guess great minds think alike :)
And the preparing for school began today. I'm really going to have to look for the happiness where I am in order to survive this school year... it's going to be a battle. But happy thoughts: one more year to spend with some of the greatest kids on the planet (and a great family and neighbors)! (And more good news... hi-fidelity internet is coming in OCTOBER! Bring on the faster internet and days with lots more productivity!!)