Memories Are Made of This

Cold in Durham

I love getting “On This Day” memories from Facebook. When I had my last apartment, in early 2017, I would always wait until after thanksgiving to turn on the heat. How crazy was that? I remember wearing a jacket indoors to stay warm. During the summer, I would only run a small fan, (near wherever I was sitting) rather than turn on the air conditioning. I’m certainly a product of the 1970s and President Carter’s energy plan.

Masis, Ararat Province, Armenia

Then, the following winter, I was living in Armenia and also wearing a coat inside to stay warm. For Christmas, my host father purchased thick bathrobes for my host mom, sisters, and little brother. He brought them back from Russia, where he went looking for work. I opted for the hot water bottle, under my jacket, to stay warm. One day, the Peace Corps staff showed up for an inspection. Every time someone spoke, they could see their own breath. The nurse was so mad. She told me to run my Peace Corps issued space heater, whenever I was in my bedroom. I normally stayed in the living room, with my host family, close to the wood stove. I would only turn on the space heater fifteen minutes before going into my room for the night.

Homestay Armenia

Along with keeping warm, I learned new ways to think about food. I had never eaten potatoes for so many days in a row. The closest I came to eating one particular thing happened during my senior year in college. Like in Armenia, I was living with a family. Each evening, the mom would make a bologna sandwich for my lunch, then freeze it. I had the same sandwich for lunch five days a week. My nine months in Ethiopia reminded me of how long I could live off just a Coke. During training, the anti malaria pills made me sick. I couldn’t keep any food down. I had a Coke for breakfast and lunch, then a boiled carrot or potato for dinner.

Kotu, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Today, my January 22 memories were good ones. I love seeing these old memories popping up on my Facebook account. I really enjoyed the ones from the Sundance Film Festival. I’ve volunteered there four times and attended another two. I signed up to volunteer again this year. I was given the option of serving in person or virtually. I signed up to volunteer in person, then booked my flight and hotel. Two weeks before the festival, COVID-19 forced Sundance online. Volunteers (from all over the world) found themselves short of the time needed to cancel reservations for full refunds.

Yarrow Hotel, Park City, Utah

I was lucky and managed to get my airfare and hotel totally refunded. Sundance is always very expensive. The festival offers some housing for volunteers coming from outside of Utah. I never took them up on the offer. I didn’t really want to share a place with four or five other volunteers. The first time I volunteered, in 2010, I booked rooms at the Canyons Resort, in Park City, the Sundance Resort, and the Yarrow Hotel. I was assigned to work at the Yarrow Theater. I also purchased one of the ticket packages. It was so much fun. I volunteered again in 2011, 2012 and 2015. I was always a part timer, working three days. I would work during the middle of the ten day festival. That meant I was free during the celebrity filled first weekend and also free during the awards programming at the end.

Eric Christian Olsen (Marty Deeks, NCIS Los Angeles)
Scottie Thompson (Dr. Jeanne Benoit, NCIS)

As a volunteer, you’re never supposed to bother celebrities, while you’re on duty. In your free time, you could do what you wanted. The only people I really went after were actors from NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles. I was such a big fan, at the time. The photo with Eric Christian Olsen was so funny. I was standing at my seat, in the front row, and saw him taking a seat seven rows behind me. I waved at the perfect time and caught his eye. I then did the international symbol for taking a photo. He bent down and said something to his wife. She said yes and pushed him. He then came running down to the front row and we took the picture.

I’m really sorry that I had to miss Sundance this year. It’s only day two of the festival. That means I’ll keep receiving Facebook memories for another week. At least the memories are good ones! —-GGT


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