Tribulations

Wow, COS conference was quite an experience… Supposedly if you are a monk at certain monasteries in Tibet, you have a trial that you have to undergo in order to pass into the inner sanctum of he brotherhood. I feel about that battered without the benefit of any real reward for having survived.

The purpose of the COS conference is, at the least, threefold:

  • Introduce volunteers to the various administrative procedures associated with closing service
  • Discuss with volunteers their plans for after their return to the United States
  • Allow the whole of the group a final opportunity to reconnect and see one another before we disband

For me the important part was by far the third. I’ve got a pretty good grasp on job hunting and grad school applying. I can read well enough to understand a manual on COSing. This is the last time that I may see some of these people, and that meant a lot to me. I have said it before, and perhaps it sounds overly sentimental, but these people have become a sort of family for me.

Things got off to a bit of a rocky start. I went to the uni to get my laptop and the music I’d been downloading for the last week to play for us. Once I got there I found they’d barred the door again. I was pretty pissed. It is their lab and they can do whatever the hell they want, but it had my computer in it and M’s printer as well. I spent a couple hours walking around with Caroline bitching about how hard I tried to work to help them and how much them being ingrates riled me.

There was nothing to be done about it though, so I went to the bureau and caught the car for Keur Macene ahead of time. Keur Macene is a resort hotel near the Senegal border. It serves two main groups of people: people coming down to visit the bird parks of Diawling and Akjoust, and people coming to hunt the wild boars the inhabit the area. It is situated on a lake and quite picturesque. We’d rented the whole place out and everyone had little bungalows.

I don’t think that I’m going to go into my usual level of detail on this journal. Usually I write to capture memories. Right now I’m still a little upset and I need to write to just get some stuff out. I am really glad that I went to COS conference, it was just, as I said, a bit trying. The lion’s share of the trauma came during the course of one night…

Things began well enough. Back when I was starting back into working out and complaining of being sore, my dear Aunt Sharon sent me some essential oils that one can mix another oil to make a massage oil. For various and sundry reasons though I’ve not really used them at all. After our sessions for the day I got to get some practice in. It is actually relaxing to relax into finding the tension in someone. You know how there are Zen tea masters who make tea to center and clear their mind. It is that sort of repetitive calming thing for me on both ends; like the tea, but with more rubbing. ☺

We’d purchased a stock of alcohol for the weekend: 33 liters of cheap Senegalese gin and whiskey. Unfortunately we are of a rare talent in the consumption department. Eight liters a night was getting finished off in no time at all. So, we cut back on a couple nights and the third one, this night, was the “balls to the wall” get plowed night.

It was about 21h45 at this point. I was feeling pretty drained from the long day and I figured I’d take a fifteen of twenty minute nap to rest up. The next thing I know I hear someone futzing around with the door. I feel like I’ve been sleeping too long and start to wander over to the door to see what’s up when it opens of it’s own accord and a lit bottle rocket is tossed in. I’m sort of drowsy, but this serves to wake me up pretty quick. I only managed to get “motherfucker” yelled and onto my bed before the thing goes off.

I wasn’t really upset for my sake, but for my roommate, who ended up with me only because there were no free rooms, I felt a bit sorry. She is a significantly more responsible person than I am. She had gone to bed around 23h, and was working on getting a good night’s sleep. I recognize that irresponsible dumbass is not necessarily a career path that everyone wants to devote themselves to. I feel bad when it gets foisted on unwilling parties just for being around me.

I had been asleep quite a while. It was past midnight. I went out to the tent where there was still had quite a few people up and started playing catch-up. Fyi, I am horrible at playing catch-up. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting drunk and managing my drunk over a period of time. Getting drunk fast, I tend to miss my mark, sometimes dramatically. This night was no exception and I was about six sheets to the wind in a surprisingly short period of time.

We only had electricity at the camp until about 12:45 and they cut it off somewhere in the midst of my many shots. We continued the evening by candlelight.

I need to preface the next bit by saying that I’m pretty insecure about my attractiveness. As a friend I think I’m really cool. I know I care about people and that I’m generally engaging and interesting. I’m a bit of a dork and I can talk too much, but it is not to the point of being a real irritant to most people. So far as being cool or sexy though? No real idea how I do there at all. The night before a bunch of us had a very instructional sex discussion and I realized just how much consensus there seemed to be on perspectives and how little I knew.

A topic of discussion leading up to the conference was, “this is it; is there anyone you’ve been interested in that you’d like to hook up with?” For me there were only two really. Neither one of them were girls that I shared values or interests enough to date, but we have fun together and they’re cute. I don’t think I’m a complete whore in just kissing on someone for a bit. Maybe I am; that goes back to the whole lack of any sort of clue as to how more casual relationships work.

One of the girls is involved in a successful, and it sounds like really interesting, relationship with a national. I hadn’t really gotten to talk to her in a while, and we got to catch up some during this conference. That was cool, but she was out of contention so far as kissing. The other one I wasn’t really sure about, but I would definitely have been open to the idea.

One of my other friends was asking her what she thought about me and her response got to me quite a bit. Not that she was mean; quite the contrary, she was exceedingly nice. She told me that attraction was a mysterious thing and that for whatever reason she just didn’t like me. A very nice and very palatable response. I am also pretty much certain a complete crock of shit. I’ve known this girl not to have a firm opinion on… actually, I can’t think of anything that she has not had a firm opinion on.

I have been varying degrees on politic in responding to unreciprocated attraction. There are lots of valid reasons that two people wouldn’t get along. As I mentioned before, I’m working an irresponsible dumbass sort of angle right now, and that doesn’t necessarily suit all tastes. If she had said something about that, I’d not have been pleased, but it wouldn’t have hurt like her being nice like she was. The only time I’ve ever gone the route that she took and said something about the ineffability of attraction has been when the truth was too uncomfortable to state; usually physical attractiveness. To have her say it to me miffed me a bit.

I don’t really remember the entirety of my response. I remember lying down on the floor beside her and asking her to kick me in the nuts so that I could hurt on the outside as bad as she was hurting me on the inside. I also remember a couple “fuck you’s” and a “shut the fuck up.” Later reports said that I called her “probably more profanity than she’s been called ever before.”

I was cursing a lot, but I wasn’t really angry, and I didn’t sound angry. There was an unfortunate bit of feedback: she was hurting my feelings by pitying me, but I don’t thing she knew anything other than she was upsetting me. Being a nice person this caused her to be nicer which just made it worse. Eventually, I just crawled off to the people who were playing guitars and tried singing to take my mind off the whole bit.

I wandered around for a bit chatting with various people. After a bit, I settled onto a matela to take a break. Closing my eyes though turned out to be a bad idea. The room was spinning more than my cast paper stomach could handle, and I crawled outside to throw up.

Having done that, I was called over to one of the boats. People were hanging out in the boat talking. I sat down on the side, but I was still feeling a bit dizzy so I decided to lie down. I rolled into the bottom of the boat and then lie there just staring up at the sky. It was very relaxing until I felt water pooling around my feet and then starting to seep into my pants.

I could feel movement and I thought we were going out for a little spin. I guessed there was a little water in the bottom of the boat and that was washing onto me as the boat was getting level. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. I was in fact in a half-hull skiff, like is used for some sorts of sailboats. There was no real back to it at all and I was getting wet because the back of it was sinking under my weight. I also pretty soon realized I was all alone in my skiff and I was about twenty yards out in the lake.

I started then to voice my displeasure to my so called friends back on shore. I pointed out that I was drunk as fuck and I couldn’t sit up; let alone swim. The goddamned boat they’d set me adrift in was sinking, and I was very likely going to die. I also make many marked aspersions as to their promiscuity. “Whore” was the word for the evening in general. I’ve been working on incorporating “putain” into my French more, and it shows in my English.

After a while, V came out in another boat and rescued me. I was sort of angry at this point and I was questioning Marc as to who exactly was responsible for putting me out there. I knew that Marc himself was a part of it, but him having just saved my life seemed basis for at least a temporary reprieve. One of the other parties was a girl and I wasn’t really quick to retaliate against her. In the end it was between two guys, one of whom has been going to the gym with me and is bigger than me. So, after Marc and I got back and both fell into the lake I went off in search of the final party.

Unbeknownst to me, he in fact had nothing at all to do with me being out there. He was off talking to someone while the whole thing was going on and only came out at the sound of my voluminous profanity while in the lake. I actually had people in bungalows all the way across the campement say they could hear my screaming. I didn’t really take time to verify my information though. The tact I took was more of a running tackle.

It was dark, and I think I’ve mentioned I was a little tipsy. These two things combined kept me from noticing that he happened to be standing by another boat. The first I really noticed of it was as my face was headed toward the edge of the boat. We landed with pretty much all of mine and his weight on my neck as we hit the boat. This was a really solid hit. I just lay on the ground for a bit trying to roll in pain, but only managing a sort of wiggle. I also got my hand caught as we were going down and I was pretty sure I’d broken my wrist since it hurt like a son of a bitch and I couldn’t move my fingers.

Seeing that I was seriously hurt, some people helped haul me back under the tent. That was nice of them. They then stole my pants which was not quite as nice. This makes the third time in the last month I’ve ended up without my pants at a party, and the second I wasn’t responsible for their removal. They were sopping wet and really cold, so I really wasn’t all that concerned about it.

This left me just wearing a wife-beater and boxer briefs; both of which were soaked from my recent dip in the lake. Alcohol also slows blood circulation and it was getting a bit chilly. I curled my broken body up on a matela and lie there shivering for a bit. Someone brought the blanket from my room and I huddled under it. After a bit though a volunteer came over and started rubbing on my head. She told me everything was alright and if I was doing ok. After being lulled for a bit I felt another tug at my clothing. Someone was trying to steal my underwear. I was having nothing of this and responded with yet more cursing and flailing.

At some point in my flailing someone pitched a bottle at me. In righteous retaliation I returned fire. More bottles followed and I responded as best I could. It was a bit difficult since I was mostly just aiming at the headlamps pointed at me around the room and it was at least six or seven to one. I must have been at least a little successful because the barrage escalated. Things that were particularly memorable were the half full can of Hawaii that didn’t hurt, but soaked me in soda, and my phone which got me solidly in the jaw.

As I was clearly taking the whole lot of them single handedly they stepped it up once again and started throwing the furniture at me. The matelas were just big pieces of really thick foam rubber 8’x3’x2.5′. After the first one caught and dazed me, the remaining seven or eight served to hold me down. The tables and chairs and flipcharts that followed were really just icing. I lie under the pile for a bit and considered my options. Since this evening was not going pretty well it made the most sense to just hide out. It had a comfy cave sort of feel. This would also entail me finding my way back to my room in the daylight mostly naked. So, I crawled out, unleashed one last bit of fury, but it was mediated since my left arm was unusable. Then I staggered off to my room where I lay shivering violently for half an hour because my cover had been taken out under the tent.

The next morning was supposedly really interesting for the staff. It looked like a typhoon had hit the tent. As they were cleaning they found my glasses and shirt that I’d taken off. Then they found my phone which was covered in blood. I didn’t realize it, but I’d smashed my hand hard enough to both make a large blood blister and split it. When my phone was thrown at my head, my hand was still wet, and so my phone was well-bloodied. Then they fished my pants out of the lake. Someone had returned then there once they took them from me. I think a quick headcount was done to verify that they didn’t need to start dredging.

As for myself, I didn’t make it to the 8am session or the 9am one either. I came dragging into the 10:00 looking a little ragged. I looked all the worse for not being able to put my hair back because I couldn’t move my left thumb at all. All in all, I felt pretty shitty. As much as anything I was upset that I’d been put in a situation where nothing happened, but I could easily have died. I know full well that I was far beyond swimming and I would have drowned if I had gone in the water. There is a certain trust in who you get drunk with, and I’m still not sure how I feel.

I had a dream about a fellow in the States who had a distant Mauritanian relative die and leave him 100,000um. The guy is overjoyed and starts planning how he is going to buy a new car and take care of his debts. Then he finds out that 100,000um is worth about $300. Not nothing, but decidedly less than he had expected, and all the more disappointing because of his misjudgment.

I’m wondering if I don’t deserve it though. I was pretty rude to a girl who was just trying to be nice to me. I also sort of asked for most of what happened to me. I was yelling pretty consistently and enjoying myself throughout the evening. Like with the bottles. I was throwing them back and taunting people. If I’d have curled up in a little ball and they’d have kept throwing them that would be another matter entirely. The fact that someone threw my pants in the water a second time pisses me off too. That was just mean.

My main question right now is whether or not I was bad. I definitely need to say I’m sorry to the girl who I yelled at and that I appreciate what she was trying to do and that I’m not angry. I’ve also apologized to the fellow I tackled, but he has use of both his hands and I still need to get mine x-rayed to see if it is broken. (I can move my thumb now though, after two days, so maybe I’m fine.) I never really had any bad ideas, I just didn’t always respond that well to things that happened. How much of the alternative is things being boring? It was definitely memorable if nothing else. ☺ The sons of bitches that imperiled my life really should do something for me though I think.

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