Adventures in Peace (Corps)


I remember the first apartment I moved into on my own. It was in the Miracle Mile part of Los Angeles. A pink Art Deco building on the corner of Cloverdale and Sixth Streets. It was a studio, with a large kitchen, a vanity area and a bathroom with a tub and shower. All of my possessions in the world fit into the back of a small bed pick up truck with room to spare. My life was so simple back then. That was in the mid 90s and I was somewhere in my 20s.

Last weekend I began cleaning and organizing the 10×10 foot storage unit I moved most of my personal belongings into over four years ago. These are not the same personal belongings that I moved into my first apartment with. No, I tossed that old futon bed/couch away a long time ago and replaced it with a couch that came from the era of poodle skirts and saddle shoes. That couch became the centerpiece of my décor. Lavender, silk dupioni that I had backed and reupholstered by a professional.  By this time, I was living in a rather large one-bedroom apartment in Korea Town on a street with high-rise Deco buildings, and entryways that used to be hosted by concierge back in the day when it was old Los Angeles. Now these apartments are inhabited by young 30 somethings making their way into the world or immigrants and their large families. When I moved from that apartment, I could no longer pack my belonging into the back of a small bed pick up truck. I had to hire professionals with a 17-foot truck to help me move all that I had collected in a decade.

Now that I am leaving the country for 27 months, with no plan on where I will be once my service ends, I no longer feel that it is important for me to keep the things that once made up my home. Nor do I feel that it is very smart to pay for a storage unit when I am going to be making bubkes. My silk dupioni couch, my coffee table whose style was inspired by the Stickley Bothers, or the Asian influenced painting of the bare chested goddess blowing clouds of smoke from her lungs that hung above my bed will all become the adornments of someone else’s home. I’m mostly OK with getting rid of these things, there’s a slight sentiment of sadness. They are my things. They made up a part of me. They were at one time my comfort, my home…big sigh. I’m not getting rid of everything though. I decided to keep the things in the most important room of the house…the kitchen.

The kitchen is where I made magic happen. It is because of the things in my kitchen that friends came over for dinner, that parties took place, that deeper connections were made. Breaking bread with people is the cornerstone to most of my best memories. I love to set a nice table, fold the napkins just right, place the shiny cutlery in order, decorate the table with flowers and candles. I love to languidly lounge over dinner and wine for hours laughing, talking, listening (apparently, they love to do this in Azerbaijan too. Lucky me!).

By the time I leave for Azerbaijan, I will have narrowed down my possessions so much that they will all fit in the back of a small bed pick up truck. I will be able to store some of the boxes in a closet at my mom’s place and the others in the attic at my sister’s house. I will be going to Azerbaijan with two suit cases and a carry on bag that will hold many of the essential things of comfort that I need while I’m living abroad. It’s crazy to think of how hard I worked and how much money I spent to acquire all that stuff only to shed it all and start over again.


12 responses

  1. Julie Sanders

    I would love to give your things a new home…looking forward the yard sale;)

    August 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

  2. P o E

    mid 90’s? in your 20’s??? yeah… right!! oh, wait… that’s ME… LOL!!! hahahaha! i love you, glendene!!

    August 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    • Oh Princessbaijani, I will miss you so.

      August 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

  3. Sounds cleansing!!!;-)

    August 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  4. Lara

    Oh, I love the periodic shedding of belongings! There is so much freedom in it. I always feel so light after trips to the Good Will donation center. I hope your process goes smoothly!

    Also, thinking about your two suitcases — when I did Peace Corps, I used up WAY too much suitcase space on clothing that proved to be impractical or useless. You can always buy clothing in Azerbaijan — it’ll be perfectly appropriate for your work there, suited to the climate, you’ll be supporting the local economy, and your new wardrobe will be full of great keepsakes by the time you’re heading home!

    Just my $0.02…


    Love to you!

    August 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    • I love your $0.02, but really you should be charging much more. I am mos def going to keep my clothing to a minimum. My problem is the shoes. Apparently AZ shoes suck.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  5. Sally

    funny that your first apartment was not far from the house I grew up in (Cochran Av & Venice) … I recall my first apartment and moving away from home – albeit wasn’t to a farway, exotic land such as AZ on the Caspian Sea. I packed up all my worldly possessions into my little two-door Datsun (am I dating myself?) … I had been accepted to the Teacher Corps Project as an intern in our state capital – good ole Sacramento. It was a two year internship where I earned my teaching credential and master’s in education – the emphasis was on working with incarcerated youth. It was the most amazing two years of my life … an experience I won’t ever forget. Decades later, I have amassed more “stuff” than is imaginable and it would take a very, very large moving truck to move me anywhere … bottom line: I’m not intending to move away from all the negative ions here at the beach! Wishing you all the best in your worldly foray to AZ … I can now say I do “know” where AZ is and I “know” a very special person who is going there.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    • I remember those Datsuns. They were so cute. Thanks for all your support Sally. I’ll miss seeing your bright smile at work. Keep those guys at in line for me, and don’t let them eat all the chocolate.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm

  6. Mitch

    Well, now you can fill your new place with Azerbaijani folk art, Azerbaijani Mugham, Meykhana lyric sheets, Chokha cloaks, Papakhi suits and line your walls with copies of the newspaper Aziz published by the Jewish society “Sokhnut”. New beginnings….

    August 30, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    • Wow!!! Someone’s been doing his homework!

      August 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

  7. Dr. Becker

    As I probably said sometime in 350, my in-laws are from southern Russia, and indeed they share your love of leisurely meals, drawn out into the night. You’ll feel right at home…

    My mother-in-law, Zoya (her last name was originally Zabudko), presides. Her father was an engineer building bridges for Kruschev. She, as her father did, has a stately style at the table. As my son says, “Grandma Zoya owns her space…”

    Best wishes,

    Dr. B

    September 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

    • Dr. B, it makes me so happy that you are reading my blog. Everytime I write I think of you. Much love to you!

      September 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm

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