I’ve returned from Africa.

I’ve been back for a while, actually, but it’s taken me a while to write about it here, because I wasn’t sure how to approach the topic. Resigning from my job was a really tough decision: I had wanted to go abroad for years, I am very interested in doing HIV/AIDS work, and I had raised the stakes by leaving a lot behind when I departed Chicago over a year ago. My job in Africa was often difficult and incredibly frustrating, but I worked with some amazing people and I learned an amazing amount. My resignation-by-telephone with my boss — who I loved — ended with me curled up in a ball on my boyfriend’s couch, sobbing, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

It was also a really tough decision to break up with my now-ex-boyfriend, whom I unfortunately seem to be in love with. Oh, well … these things happen.

So why did I leave?

Because my job was fundamentally limited and conservative. Because I wasn’t developing the way I needed to develop. Vague reasons, I know, but the specific ones are personal and/or too contextual for me to discuss on my highly pseudonymous blog.

Right now I’m on an extended vacation in San Francisco, because this is where I come when I need to figure myself out. But don’t you worry — I will go back to beautiful Chicago before the end of the year. I may not settle back in Chicago just yet, depending on how my employment opportunities pan out, but you may be sure that I will spend a bunch of time in my adopted city at the very least.

I am now available again to schedule workshops and lectures at USA universities, museums, and so on. If you’re interested in having me do an event at your venue, shoot me an email: clarisse dot thorn at gmail dot com. (Obviously, it will be easier to schedule an event — and pay me for it — if you’re close to San Francisco or Chicago. I do plan to visit New York at some point, though, because I have family there — so that’s another place where you wouldn’t have to pay my travel costs.)

I also plan to attend the upcoming Alternative Sexualities Conference, September 23, hosted by the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities in San Francisco. Unlike the 2009 Chicago conference, I won’t be speaking, just volunteering there. I highly recommend it! In fact, if you work in a field like therapy or social work, you may be eligible for continuing education credits if you attend.

And if you’re new to my blog, here’s a list of posts I’ve written about my time in Africa. It makes a small but tidy pile by now, huh?