Monday, January 28, 2002

01/28/02: Hi everyone! I'm in Perry Point, Maryland with Americorps NCCC. I've been here since that would be five days? Wow. It seems like more than that.

Wednesday night at the airport, there were twelve or thirteen of us all flying here together. So we gathered and talked a bit about whatever. It was nice, to get to know some people right away. The flight to Detroit was three and a half hours, then we had an hour layover, and another hour to Baltimore. The Americorps people picked us up at the airport and drove us to the campus (Perry Point is a VA hospital complex). Right away we started on paperwork and all that. We got to see our housing. Everyone lives in houses that are 50+ years old. Most of them have six to eight people in them, with bunk beds and everything. A few of us lucked out and got three-person houses. I was so happy to find that out! I get my own room--that is so fabulous. We went back and got outfitted with uniforms and got ID badges, all that fun stuff. They gave us breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I have two housemates, another Seattle-area girl (Kelly) and a girl from Indiana (Jen). They're both really nice, and I think we'll have a nice year. They're under 21, though, and jealous that I can go out if I want (well, and not get in trouble, anyway). Our house was a disaster area; they only got it the week we arrived, instead of six weeks before. So we had no refrigerator, no shower curtain, few working light bulbs, no blinds, only one key, really bad hardwood floors, cobwebs and dead bugs all over the place...pretty nasty. On Friday we spent most of the day cleaning, and we went shopping for a few things. They gave us a fridge, too. But there's still lots to be done.

Over the weekend, we found out our teams that we'll work with for the year (and live with, too, when we're out on projects (off the campus). It was exciting. I think our team will be a good one, I think we'll have fun. We have three Washingtonians, three Iowans, two Texans, and three lefties. But really, we're diverse. :) Our team is Fire 4. There are two units of the campus, Fire and Ice, and each unit has nine teams. This week we get to come up with a unique name for our team and for our team van.

Also, on Saturday, we had our first shopping expedition! It was truly an adventure. We get government vouchers for a certain amount of money per day, all together for a week's worth of food. And only one or two people per house get to go to the store. So I went for our house, with $140 for nine days' time. It was crazy, so much food! My cart was full and really heavy. The people with seven housemates needed two carts. Anyway, I got a lot of stuff, and most of it is healthy, and we're so far eating dinner together so we can share food and stuff. It's fun.

Sunday I got one of the shuttle vans to Target. It was exciting, since most of us don't have cars and we were stocking up on things to make our houses nice and homey and all that. I got a little stereo, and some kitchen towels, things like that. Our house is still really bare, but we can't afford to buy lots of stuff to decorate with. We're trying, though. Someone found purple plastic Easter grass and arranged it on top of the mantel. I've got my christmas lights up in my room.

So. A little more about where I am. Perry Point is the VA complex, a mini community inside the town of Perryville. Baltimore is about half-hour's drive from here, Washington an hour, I think. There's actually a train station really close to us, and trains go to both of those places, I don't know where else. Chesapeake Bay is only a couple hundred yards away from our house, and my window looks right out onto the sunset over the water. It's really beautiful. The weather here has been very pleasant, almost warm the past couple days. The Susquehanna River empties into the bay from Perryville, 444 miles from its start in Cooperstown, NY. There's a lighthouse at the river junction, the Carver? Lighthouse, the oldest continuously-operated lighthouse in the US, according to the sign we saw today. Havre-de-Grace is just across the bridge from Perryville, and Aberdeen is on the far side of that (that's where we go to the grocery store and the Target).

There are 178 corps members on this campus, most of them girls. Sadly, most of the cute boys are the Team Leaders, which means technically they're off limits. Damn. But everyone here seems really nice and very excited about starting our terms of service. It's so great to be around people who all have a passion for service, and yet who are all so different, you konw? Thirty-four states are represented by our group. I've met a lot of Southerners and a lot of Midwesterners. I'm picking up the accents ridiculously fast. Well, not picking up, cause I knew them before, but I find myself adopting them almost right away. And actually, the past couple days, I've noticed a drawl in my voice, even when I'm not around Southerners. But that's fun. Y'all know how I love to play with accents anyway. :)

I think I'll stop there for now. This week and the next two weeks we'll be training for the year. I don't know yet what projects we'll be doing. I have the dates of them, but not right in front of me. So I'll update as much as I can. You can read my journals from the past few months while waiting. Okay? :)

Oh, and write me or call me, everyone!

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Happy New Year! Did you have a nice one? Mine wasn't bad, actually. I had fun. I worked a double shift yesterday, and had to work today also. It was sort of funny, everybody had a story about their evening. We were all feeling out of sorts, some more than others. I just generally felt like crap. This afternoon I had a nice nap. Quite a relief.

So. It's been raining since afternoon, and windy too. Though I don't love being in the rain, I like the sound of the drops on the roof and the wind through the trees. It's soothing, somehow. That's one of the things I miss most about Bellingham, they have wonderful windstorms there, being right on the water. My old dorm was surrounded by trees, and the sounds of the raging winds was like a release. Ah, the good old days.

It is so weird that it's a new year, and that it's 2002. It sounds funny, you know? I wonder what is in store, for the world, for little me? This time last year seems eons ago. I hope there are some interesting things, at least. January is a weird month, it is so bleak and plain in my head. I hate not knowing what's ahead for me, too. Just impatient, I suppose.

I have declared a temporary ban on trips to the library. Somehow, I have ended up with a growing pile of new, non-library books that I need to read. Since for some reason I haven't been able to read more than one book at a time, I'm determined to make a dent in my pile. But there's so much good stuff! There's one about Paris, there's the new one by Stephen King, and even the old feminist classic, Backlash. I look forward to reading it all.

What is it with self-esteem? More specifically, my lack of it? Is it normal, does everyone despair at every glance in the mirror? Yesterday, while gussying up for the goings-on, I felt so depressingly resigned to look like shit. It was awful. Lately those kinds of thoughts haven't been too loud in my head, but they're rearing back into gear right quick. And it sucks. I feel like there's no reason to even try, since it doesn't make a difference, and it's not like there's anyone to impress. If people aren't dazzled by my razor-sharp wit, then to hell with them, right? Ha. Right.