Win The Day-Night-Day: How I Football in the Peace Corps

According to the title, one-third of my blog is supposed to be about football. But I have, like, a job ‘n’ stuff…or something like that. Lucky for me, Albanians prioritize consistent internet access over things like availability of running water and proper sanitation, so even though I’m busy/exhausted/stressed out from school and my secondary projects (which I WILL get around to posting about more, I promise, even though it’s nowhere near as exciting as fake punts), that doesn’t mean I don’t have time to catch games using seedy pop-up ridden live sports feeds found in dark corners of the interwebs. I also manage to make time to read all the articles my dad and my friends send me about which coach just got fired for general awfulness and which Heisman contender got caught smoking doobies and what idiotic things Johnny Manziel has been up to.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that sports consume a fair amount of my free time, and have for quite a while. (The same amount of time that other people use for, like, the arts and critical thinking and philanthropy ‘n’ stuff.) Part of this is due to the fact that I went to a state university with an athletics program of approximately a bajillion-dazillion dollars and a cutting-edge, high-octane, recently very successful football team. It’s hard not to be a Ducks fan when you go to the University of Oregon. And if you somehow manage not to be, then you are not my friend because you probably suck.

DSCN1089I love the Ducks because Oregon football was a big part of the best time of my life (before Peace Corps), which was being a college student. I was born and raised in Vegas but, other than the fact that everything is open 24/7 and there’s an In-N-Out at least 15 minutes away no matter where you are in the city, I never really felt a strong attachment to my hometown. When I moved to Oregon for school, I became a new person. A better person, I’d like to think. And the time I spent with my friends in green and yellow, our faces painted as we stood through the humid heat and the pouring rain and the bitter cold, shouting at the refs until we were hoarse, hugging and high-fiving after touchdowns and staring morosely at the field after our (few and far between) losses, added so much emotion and passion and unity to the four years I spent half-assedly reading the works of young Karl Marx but still managing to get As on my papers.

My sitemate, some of my students, and I at my school's Halloween party. I wore my DAT jersey. No one had a clue why I had black stuff under my eyes.

My sitemate, some of my students, and I at my school’s Halloween party. I wore my DAT jersey. No one had a clue why I had black stuff under my eyes.

So, as part of my Internet Usage Borderline Unbecoming of A Peace Corps Volunteer, I stay up late on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings waiting for the sun to set on the west coast of the United States so I can get my Ducks fix. It can be depressing and difficult for a variety of reasons: 1) Nobody in Albania cares about football. In fact, when I try to talk to people about football, they assume I mean soccer. Ugh. 2) There have been countless nights in my life when I’ve been unable to get a wink of sleep until 3:30am. (Most of these nights occurred this summer when I was “sleeping” on a bug-infested chicken wire mattress in an apartment with no air conditioning.) But whenever I try to deliberately stay up late for something–examples: New Year’s Eve, any night I’ve ever taken off my pajamas and turned off Netflix to go clubbing with my friends, sporting events taking place 9 hours behind my current time zone–my brain and body unanimously decide YOU WILL SLEEP, NOW.

Tomorrow is November 7th–which, as Google tells me, is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, which I will DEFINITELY be celebrating–when the undefeated #3 Ducks play #5 Stanford in Palo Alto. It’s on a Thursday, which is problematic, because unlike weekends when I can do whatever I want except go to Lazarat, I have a full day of school followed by class beginning at 8am Friday morning. The game begins at 3am Kavajë time and ends at 7, around the time I usually get up and ready my cheap Shqiptar lipstick for the day. So I’ve developed a game plan, much like Mark Helfrich’s, to allow me to survive working as a Volunteer and maintaining my obsession with college sports: Fast. Hard. Finish. Win The Day!

  1. Naps on naps on naps. Luckily for me, I work primarily with teenagers all day, and there is nothing that wears a person out more than that, except maybe working with toddlers or having a conversation with Robin Williams. I’m aiming for at least four hours of sleep Thursday afternoon, so if I put in my earplugs to block out the bleats of terrified goats about to be slaughtered and the sounds of potential car wrecks from the street outside my window, then I should be good to go.
    Mysteriously awesome.

    Mysteriously awesome.

  2. Chemical substances. If I can’t get to sleep because I’m too excited, I’ll just pop one of the generic anti-histamine pills from my Peace Corps-issued medical kit. Those mess you up REAL good. Next, once I’ve enjoyed a chemically-induced nap, I plan to make a nice dinner for myself including the Sriracha sauce my mom sent me. Around midnight is when I’ll break out the B-52s. What is a B-52, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you: a B-52 is Dutch energy drink that includes one part mysterious yellow-green chemicals and two parts awesome. It does equally mysterious things to my metabolism and my mood, but most of the time I feel like I’m floating after one of those.
  3. GETTIN’ (and stayin’) PUMPED! From midnight to 3am will be my true test. Not only do I have to stay awake, which shouldn’t be a problem if I follow steps 1 and 2 carefully, but I have to try to imitate the energy I used to get from pre-gaming or tailgating on game day. This will most likely include: lots of Kanye, lots of super-motivating YouTube game highlights with fast cuts and cool blurry lens effects like this one from the Stanford game 2 years ago, and probably some sit-ups in honor of my dad. (Papa Snow can only handle a Ducks game if he burns as many calories as points Oregon scores.)
  4. Not letting the game ruin my day if we lose. Nah. Probably not gonna happen.
  5. More chemical substances. Taurine in the morning might be the grossest thing ever. (Unless you’ve seen Andrew Luck’s neck beard.) But I’ll take whatever can get me through a day of Albanian students jumping out of windows, pulling each other’s hair, and ripping notebooks to shreds.

It’s hard, being intensely preoccupied with an event occurring 6,000 miles away that has literally no affect on one’s life, but I manage to rise to the occasion every autumn weekend abroad that I can. Paç fat to my Ducks, and BEAT THE TREE!

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