My Little Monster


I’ve got this friend – he’s furry, and has whiskers and a tail. His name is Bowser, and without him, I’d probably go insane.

The last time I wrote about Bowser, he was a kitten of ten weeks. He was too skittish to let me hold him, wasn’t quite litter trained, and was only starting to adjust to his life as a domestic house cat. In honor of his first birthday, I’ve decided to provide a feline update. So much has changed!

Bowser’s my little buddy. He follows me from room to room throughout the house, and loves talking to me. Anyone who’s been on the phone can testify that he’s quite the chatterbox! He’ll announce his presence, or demand my attention with a persistent and boisterous meow. As a kitten, he didn’t like to be held or pet, but now he can’t seem to get enough. A well-placed scratch behind the ear, or under his chin, will make him weak in the knees, and he’ll brush up against my legs if he wants to be held. In the afternoons, he can usually be found napping on his favorite pillow, or in my lap.

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We’ve also learned how to communicate; or rather, I’ve finally learned to understand him. The litter box is a hot topic, and at least once a day, he sits by his box and meows until I scoop his poops and give him some fresh sand. In the mornings when he wants more food, he’ll jump on my bed, walk over to my head, and meow loudly in my ear. If that doesn’t work, he’ll bring his toys on the bed, and when all else fails, he’ll resort to attacking my hands and arms until I get up.

Speaking of toys, this little monster will play with anything! Although his favorites are his mousie and his catnip dolphin, he’ll always be able to find something on my desk or my dresser to bat around and then run off with. He’s also prone to locating random objects around the house and carrying them in. I’ve caught him with scraps of fabric, a small, stuffed teddy bear that he stole from my host-mom’s shelf, and a plastic fork that he played with for weeks. But he has a tendency to hide his toys, and then forgets where he put them. After several months without his jingle ball, he found it behind the wardrobe, and promptly misplaced it a day later.

He must have known I was writing about him.
He must have known I was writing about him.

Bowser’s a great hunter too. In the evenings, he spends his time in the kitchen stalking moths or hunting lizards. At night, while I sleep, he protects me from cockroaches and spiders. All too frequently do I visit the bathroom to find my rug crumpled and a dead roach hidden within the folds. Sometimes, I don’t even find the roach – all I see are its little legs and antenna bits. Last week, Bowser took out a duppy bat!


A duppy bat is a large, black moth. Jamaican superstition states that duppy bats protect the house from spirits (duppies)


When I last wrote about Bowser, I also said I wasn’t sure if I’d be bringing him home after my service. I wanted to give him a chance to adjust to his new life as a pet, and then make a decision. Shortly afterward, the bond between us solidified, and the idea of leaving him in Jamaica became unimaginable. Now, there is no question. This cat is my best friend. He keeps me on my toes and is an endless source of entertainment. When feelings of isolation set in, Bowser is always there to pick me up. And he’s so full of spunk and personality, that I often forget he’s a feline!

Some of my goals for Year Two include making various phone calls to veterinarian offices and airlines to determine what needs to be done in order to bring him home. He’s already been neutered, and is in good health. He likes to stay inside, so he’s free of fleas and ticks. I give him heartworm medication once a month, and I already have an “airline appropriate” carrying cage. I suppose the next big obstacle (and perhaps the next time I write about him) will be when he returns to Miami with me, and I introduce him to my other beloved baby: Emma.

All whopping 15lbs of Emma
All whopping 15lbs of Emma


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Speaking Honestly

I’m frustrated.

And that’s putting it simply.

I’m frustrated with mosquitoes, with walking long distances in sweltering heat, sweating out my good clothes, and of always feeling dirty and grimy. I haven’t washed my hair in days…

But frustration is a big part of what it’s like to be a volunteer. We’re in a new place, dealing with new situations, and presently, being lectured day in and day out while living out of a suitcase. After being sworn-in, I’ll have a whole new set of frustrations to deal with.

We are reminded repeatedly that Peace Corps service is as much of a challenge as it is a reward. This post isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, and you should be aware that there will probably be more like it in the future. This blog is my outlet; a place for my voice to be heard, and I intend to use it as such. I’m speaking freely here. It is my platform, after all.

My first grievance is with training. They weren’t kidding when they said it will drain you. We spend seven hours a day sitting in our professional clothing (after first walking and sweating in them), listening to lectures, and trying to get a grasp on what it is we’re going to be doing. We receive a broad view, yet every assignment varies in degree. We still have not been placed, and I for one am getting antsy.

DSCN0864Training isn’t terrible – don’t misunderstand – but the days seem to be dragging on. I have questions that still haven’t been answered and I am forced to find within myself another daily dose of patience.

I just want to be placed already! I am tired of living out of a suitcase, having no idea what my next living and working situation will be like. I want control of my diet (my host mom prepares most of my meals), and I want to dictate my own schedule. Right now, we go and do what Peace Corps tells us to. I’m ready for the next stage, and we still have four more weeks to go.

The problem with me is that I have a pessimistic side. I try to keep it at bay, but through my frustration, it’s coming out faster than I can stop it. What if this, and what if that? This past week, I’m afraid I lost sight of what I wanted. Homesickness is setting in, and the temptation to give in became overpowering. With the help of friends and family, I managed to steer myself back on course long enough to commit myself to the end of training. At the moment, it’s hard to see much further than that.

I suppose I miss the conveniences I’m accustomed to. I had internet at my fingertips and a set of car keys in my hands. I exercised regularly, and ate my favorite foods with my favorite people, while watching my favorite TV shows. Do we see a pattern here? I’m still adjusting to this new life. I walk into a supermarket and scan the shelves for something familiar. I long to see a car where the steering wheel is on the left side. I keep two quarters in my wallet, because they’ve become memorabilia.

And I miss my Emma. Oh, how I miss my girl…

On a more positive note, I had a unique shadowing experience. I travelled out to St. Thomas last week (by myself, via public transit) to shadow a PCV from Group 83 who is like me in many ways. We bonded instantly, sharing a love for arts & crafts (primarily of the string kind), kids, teaching, and The Big Bang Theory. We are the same age and share many other similar interests. Visiting her shed some real light on what the next two years might be like for me. It answered some questions, and raised a few others. More importantly, it gave me a chance to really consider what I am doing here in Jamaica and if it is something I could be happy with. I’m still not a hundred percent sure of the answer, but I suppose that is okay for now.

In the meantime, it would help to hear from my friends back home. I have limited internet, and I find I miss the camaraderie Facebook usually has to offer. Instant messaging and texting have become a thing of the past. I would hate for sparse communication to cause a divide between my closest comrades and me. Always remember that I have email, and still do my best to check it daily. I’d really love to hear from you.

For now, the most logical course of action is to keep my chin up and hope for the best. Four more weeks of training; here we go.