Note to readers: This is a review of my personal journal from my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer more than a decade ago. I have done my best not to edit or censor what I wrote then. Time moves on, I learn things, and I no longer feel the same. Part of the joy of reading old journals is seeing a story arc where I’ve learned new things.
18 September 2001
I woke up at 5:30AM. I got up, showered, and put on overalls. As my roommate was asleep, I walked into the hall to stretch.
First, I put my right leg up on the banister. I leaned forward and stretched for twenty seconds, which I measured by counting my outbreaths. I then did the same for my other leg.
Broadway is Nashville’s central entertainment district that encompasses the five blocks of the eponymous street, starting at the river and ending at Fifth Avenue. Other venues, bars, and restaurants line the intersecting streets. There are about thirty bars, four boot stores, one candy shop, one ice cream parlor, a hot dog stand, a psychic, and several tourist trinket shops. Live music emanates from the bars, generically called “honky tonks,” sixteen hours a day every day of the year.
There are about sixteen venues in five blocks. There’s not usually a door charge; the bands play for tips all day. And they are really quite good. That’s 1024 hours of music every day, for those of you who know your powers of two.
Congoses are so stupid. Here we are, all of us, wanting to leave this evil batey. I’m going to play baseball, God willing. I’ll get my break soon, and then I’ll be contracted. Cheyito is working in the zona and saving up money to build a house with his woman in San Pedro. The rest of my buddies are trying to be cops, except for Frede, who is stupid, just like his Haitian dad.
No, Frede made some girl’s belly swell, and now he drives a god-damn tractor. He says he wants to stay here with his family, the whole lot of the patois gurgling stupids. Which is pointless, shit! There’s no life living here. That’s why I’m going to make a break. They’re going to sign me, and then I’ll have some money.
To the members of the committee:
I write you today to express my intention to be a resident at Dancing Rabbit.
You know, you can’t make everyone happy. You can’t be everything to everyone. You’ve got to choose. One of the sacred myths of my people is that we live in a meritocracy, right? One way we express this myth is by telling our children that maybe one day, they’ll grow up to be President. We live in America, where anything can happen, right? If you just work hard enough at it, you can be anything you want.
Phil Zimbardo is one kinky motherfucker. Anyone who has taken an a first survey course in psychology or sociology within the past two decades could probably tell you he’s freaky-deeky. Maybe this impression comes from watching him narrate survey-course videos on a variety of subjects in now-outmoded clothing.
Probably a perv.
In my case, when I lived in the Bay Area, I did hear a rumor once that he was involved in the San Francisco BDSM scene, and it seemed credible. It’s more likely that we think he’s a fellow perv because he once locked up a bunch of Stanford undergraduate students in a basement, whereupon he coached another group of students to enforce petty rules meant to dominate and control the first group. He called this an “experiment.”
In my recent posting of a journal from 17 Nov 2001, there is some context that needs discussing. I am doing my best not to edit or censor my 15-year-ago self, but if someone actually reads any of this, s/he’s going to want to know a little bit about a few things.
I wrote this long list of why Peace Corps wouldn’t work out for me after a couple of really shitty things had happened to me. First off, I had a nasty fight with another trainee during training, and managed in the process to alienate most of the other trainees in my group. Then, I was sent to a site that wasn’t really ready for me, but which was perhaps the most hellish piece-of-crap placement that Peace Corps could have come up with in all of the island.
This questionnaire will be posted for all Rabbits to see before your arrival and will likely be all they know about you. For this reason, we ask that you be descriptive enough in your answers for us to get a good sense of you without being overly elaborate.
This morning, I’m thinking again about what I’d do if I had no need to earn money. It’s easy to give a fanciful answer involving charter jets, mansions, luxury goods, or endless cruise ship vacations. It’s easy to make some equally unlikely scenario involving sainthood: opening a homeless shelter or volunteering to save the rainforest.