Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Not so good news: got a call today that I was not chosen for the AmeriCorps position. Oh well. It would have been fabulous, but I'll just find something else! And really, who wants to live in Dallas anyway?
Good news--I came straight home from work and cleaned my bathroom! Bad news for the mold colonies that were making a valiant attempt to take over the shower stall, though.
Even better news that I can't believe I almost forgot to share: I am going to Paris! Thirty days from today, as a matter of fact! I will be there for nine days, a Saturday to a Monday, and oh, I cannot wait. It's been two and a half years since I've seen Paris. They've eliminated the franc and who knows what else in that length of time. And I've only been there in the summertime, so it will be a new experience to see it in the winter. I imagine it will be gray and dreary weather, but empty of tourists. Also hoping to catch some after-Christmas sales. A first for me--I will be staying in a hostel NOT in the outlying areas--I've just put in a reservation to a hostel in the 5th (Saint-Germain/student district)...woo! I'm trying to think of the last time I had a real vacation, like on a plane...and I'm pretty sure it was my 2001 Eurotrip. Egads.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
All that said, I do of course love having a day off of work (for once!), and our bosses let us go early on Wednesday AND on Friday (we get either the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas off; I am planning for a long weekend over Christmas).
Wednesday was even better because I had an interview! I can't remember if I mentioned the AmeriCorps jobs that I found last month and applied for. Well, since it had been a month, I had given up on it, no big deal. But I got a call at work on Monday to set up a phone interview. It seemed to go pretty well, and it got me all excited and happy
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Well, it's happened at long last, I have a forty-hour work week! I like it. I am still busy, of course, but things have worked out so that I am no longer just barely keeping up, it's the reverse now; my processors can hardly keep up with me. Plus, my phone is almost silent. I clear my desk constantly. Which is nice, to not be drowning in files, but it makes me want a big, busy project.
Outside of work, I have enough time to work out in the evenings, eat some green beans, watch tv, AND relax a little. I need to work on weekends, because I tend to polarize--I go, go, go, nonstop, or I do nothing at all. Must work on more of a compromise of the two. But I am feeling more about my life, because I feel more in control of it.
Friday, October 31, 2003
So at this momentous occasion, I must think back to all the previous Halloweens/birthdays in my short but jampacked life. I remember the party I had at the Gymnastics place, everyone wore Halloween costumes and we had a pinata, and then possibly we stayed the night at the gym. I remember lots of trick or treating in downtown Issaquah. I remember a party and trick or treating with a big group of girls in high school. Then of course, last year, when I, along with my teammates, spent Halloween packing to go back to Perry Point, and deep-cleaning the Bridgeport Habitat house. What an interesting array of history.
It's the end of yet another month. Crazy. Time is flying like nobody's business. I am reading another big book, which makes me a little impatient. Instant gratification, man.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Eventually, last week or maybe even the one before, it got seriously gray, cloudy, Northwest-fall-like. Then, yesterday, it broke. Five inches of rain in one day. Torrents and sheets of rain all day long. It set an all-time record for rainfall in a single day.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
The rest of the day I spent in a fatigued stupor, watching movies (Slackers and The Recruit) and TV (the Travel Channel and Queer Eye).
It is already Sunday evening. I went in to work for a couple hours (all hail the overtime!), plus ran to Costco and put up some decoration-type things in the living room. Still need to make my room homey. And clean it. And finish cleaning the bathroom. All in good time, grasshopper.
Something random popped into my head this afternoon while driving. I'm not sure why, but I was suddenly overcome with that sensation of travel. Hostels, airports, dragging bags around unfamiliar yet wonderfully foreign streets...how I long to travel again. I love to discover new things, or to discover ancient things all for myself. The thrill of crisp, new maps and memorizing another underground system. The secret, naughty pleasure of eating American fastfood in another country, and the way it somehow tastes different. Trying to shop for souvenirs without looking like a cheesy tourist. Never knowing who you'll meet, who you'll find yourself avoiding, what sense or smell or activity will become synonomous with that place in your memories. Ah, travel. Where shall I go next?
Friday, October 17, 2003
10/17/03: Wow, a whole week passed already. It went rather quickly. Monday I was feeling weak and tired, and Tuesday I stayed home. My limbs felt heavy, and tingly and trembly. I was in bed half the day, and laying down watching tv the rest of the day. It was good to relax.
I didn't really follow up on the job thing, though I did beef up my statements for the second application. I figure it also won't lead to a response, but it made me feel proactive and practicing, or something. Maybe I will work on keeping my eye open for opportunities. And by the time I'm really ready for something, I'll, you know, be ready. Hm, I wonder if that made sense.
I don't think much else happened this week. I haven't worked out at all, but I did start working overtime again. Making up for lost time, and for lost fundage in the bank account...I can't wait for November, when I'll be getting a bonus. Ten months later, but better late than never, is what I keep reminding myself.
So I spent three weeks reading that one book, right? I have made up for lost time, reading four books this week alone. I will be starting the fifth tonight. It's the last of the five I got from the library, the lot of which are due on Tuesday. Impressive, eh? One of them was The Alchemist. I loved it. I probably should have read it much sooner, but this was a perfect time to think about dreams and destinies. I can keep myself going, because I decided this is just my year in the crystal shop. I am saving up money for a future journey that will lead me to my true life.
Have you ever noticed that life goes by awfully fast? I am old. I mean, I know I'm still young, but it honestly feels like I'm still an awkward teenager, just pretending to be a "grown-up." The scary thing is that many other people feel this way, a good number of whom are significantly older than me. I don't want to go through the years, always feeling like I can't quite catch up. I mean, really, someone who is twenty-four is an adult, a go-getter, a social swagster, laughing in swanky, funky bars with their many eclectic friends, someone who has a unique, interesting and promising job, and a kitschy apartment in the city. Whereas I, rapidly approaching that twenty-fourth milestone, feel impossibly young, imposterly uninteresting, drab, lazy and antisocial. It's like I'm waiting for some sign, some privilege, some telltale symbol of true adulthood. And I don't mean voting, imbibing alcohol, or parenthood.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
I was planning on volunteering this weekend, but I didn't get the information on where and when...and I suppose I could have been more proactive and/or found another opportunity, but I got lazy and excited about a whole day to do nothing. I was not exactly pleased to be awake by 8.30, but oh well. I had already promised myself I wasn't going to work this weekend; in fact, I've only worked twenty-five minutes of overtime all week! It feels weird, like I'm cheating or something. But I'm a freaking assistant, there is no reason that I need to do tons of overtime; I should be able to do most of my work during my normal eight hours a day. As much as I love the money, I would rather have a little more time to myself, as well as a more fixed schedule. I really need to get off my ass and into the gym more. This week I went three times, last week once, the week before, twice. I'm just so tired...and I feel like I'm getting sick. That's been going on for a good four or five days now, though, so I'm anxious to just get sick already, or not be. Weirdly, I kind of want to get sick. I have to look forward to a time when I can justifiably and legally not work. I'm not sure if it's laziness or lack of responsibility...I suspect it's more a yearning for a change of pace, something new and different to interrupt the routine. I love taking field trips, or having meetings, or doing anything that means I'm not just sitting at my desk.
So so much for adventure. This weekend my only adventure was staying up to watch SNL with Justin Timberlake (it was quite a show) and finishing that damn 865-page book. Although, a good portion of yesterday evening was spent organizing my newish file cabinet (a two-drawer plastic number from Target)...it was good thing, too. The clutter was irking me; since the files weren't really organized, I hadn't put anything away for a good three months. Thus I had two large piles of random papers that needed organizing and filing. I am happy with my success in that endeavor. And this morning, again awake by 8.30, I finished tidying my room and the kitchen, did laundry, AND cleaned the bathroom (well, halfway). Hurrah for me.
There was some excitement this week. I was talking to Stacey about jobs, and she mentioned the government, and that reminded me of the job listings page at the CNCS (Corp for National and Community Service). I took a look and found TWO postings for an AmeriCorps Recruiting Program Specialist! It got me all worked up; the job description and requirements are made for me. One had a deadline of the next day, so I fumbled together some stuff to submit the application. Just so that I knew I did something. I was fully set to hunker down and put together better stuff for the other one, which ends this week sometime, but I keep forgetting. Eek. And, I never got confirmation or any word at all on the one I did submit, so I need to find out what to do next to get a response
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Last weekend I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, at their Snoqualmie Ridge site. The task for the day was bringing some houses up to code. Most of the things that needed to be done were in attics and crawl spaces. I worked in both, and worked up quite a sweat. I LOVED it. I loved doing something with my hands, I loved doing something that got tangible results, I loved doing something that really physically mattered. There was a brand-new team of AmeriCorps people there, a couple of whom had already done NCCC. It was fabulous to talk to them, but I was sad to not have time to get all their stories. That's my favorite thing about AmeriCorps, talking to the members, finding out where they come from, what they've done, what their general experience of life has been. People are cool.
I am planning to continue volunteering, with Seattle Works and now with Habitat. There is a site in Redmond where I hope to work in October.
I just re-read Succulent Wild Woman by Sark. I really enjoy her work, it inspires me. I have been feeling spiritually empty, so it was wonderful to read that. Because of that, I decided to use this afternoon for a mini adventure. I headed out on the freeway, thinking about going to Mount St Helens. Then I saw the exit for Aberdeen and Ocean Beaches, and I haven't ever been there, so I decided to go that way instead. It was so pretty, just driving on the highway, there were evergreen trees everywhere and a big blue sky overhead. I got into Aberdeen, took some turns, drove around, and then I ended up going to Ocean Shores. I parked by a little mall and ate at a diner. The chocolate milk shake was yummy. Then I went to the beachfront. It was populated with clam-diggers and kite-flyers. It was cloudy and windy and loud and wonderful. Being there reminded me of previous good times at Lincoln City and at Cape Cod. I walked down the beach, relaxed on some driftwood, watched a baby seagull scurry across the sand. It really wasn't an objectively exciting trip, but I enjoyed it all the same. Then I got back in the car to drive home, in plenty of time to catch the premiere of Alias.
Yesterday Stacey and I finally hosted a get-together at our apartment. We had drinks and games, and Jaime Doll joined us, who most of us hadn't seen since the early college years. It was a good time. The mojitos were the unofficial stars of the evening!
Also, happy birthday to the September Fire 4 babies, Ashley, Jep, and Brodie, and best of luck to Lesley, who is off to a big ol' adventure in Tanzania with the Peace Corps.
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Another boring weekend. Last night I played Bunko and it was a lot of fun. I'll go in to work on Sunday afternoon. I have an hour's worth of files to build at home. Some more laundry to do at my mom's house. I might pass out from all this excitement.
Monday, August 25, 2003
08/25/03: Hubris strikes again! I was all proud of myself because last week I processed two files, then, unexpectedly, it looked like both of them were going to fund this month (instead of sit on my desk for a couple weeks waiting for subordinations). I was really excited about adding my little productivity to the team. However, today I learned that one of them is cancelling (out of the gosh darn blue) and the other one didn't sign the final papers (which means it won't fund in August). BOO FOR ME. 100% fallout--is that incredible or what?
In other news: on Sunday, after working a few hours, I went shopping. It turned into a shopping spree of sorts--a spree at Target and a free spree at B&N. I'll explain. I went to the former for just a couple things--a cheap file storage thing, inexpensive picture frames for my cool Euro photos. I got those plus a couple other random things, then I decided to check out the clothes. See, I've never really had any luck with stores like Target for clothes shopping, and clothes in general (especially pants) just don't fit me well. I have actually come to loathe clothes shopping because it just depresses me--either my ass and hips are too big, or my waist isn't small enough. Shirts are usually too tight for work or boxy and unflattering. Imagine how pleased I was to find two pairs of nice slacks that fit nicely and were not breath-inhibitive, plus two grown-up shirts, and this awesome burgundy corduroy pea coat. It was like school shopping, which I've never done properly. I figure that spending that amount of money was good for several reasons: it was like all my shopping attempts for the past two or three years were finally 'avenged' so to speak; each item was relatively cheap--all under or right near $20 and the most expensive item (the coat) was only $30. In trying to overcome my extreme frugality, that seems like a pretty damn good deal, don't you think?
Monday, August 18, 2003
08/18/03: So yesterday I took a practice GRE exam online. Oh my gosh. Let me preface all of this by saying that I took this completely cold. I did take a GRE math course, in MAY, that I could hardly understand back then. Don't forget that it's been ten years since I've done this kind of math, and a good five years since I've done ANY math at all. Suffice to say, I am not a math person. To quote Barbie, "Math is hard."
So here goes. First of all, I didn't even finish the math section, I ran out of time. There were only 28 questions, and I think I got through 20 or maybe 22 of them. One was a graph I couldn't read at all, so that was a random guess. Several others I thought I had figured out an answer on paper but none of the choices matched, so I had to educated-guess those too...it was pretty pathetic.
The verbal section went much better, thank goodness. The sentence completions were okay, and in general I thought I did fairly well. There were a crapload of words I didn't know. In fact, I wrote them down. Please let me know if you have ever even seen any of these words before: jejune, vitiate, saturnine, temerity, mawkish, diluvial. Then the ones that seemed like I should know them but I guess I didn't: intransigent, expurgate, quixotic, pedantic, malediction. Phew!
Here's the black and white results: 350 on the math section. 590 on the verbal section. Both out of a possible 800, just like the SAT. That's 43% and 73%. A mere total of 940! That's 59%. Holy crap, it just was terrible. Moral of the story: I NEED TO STUDY IF I EVER WANT TO PASS THE DAMN THING.
After that completely personal humiliation, of course I then had to contemplate the meaning of my life and where my future shall lead me. I thought about all the things I want to do in the next year or few (for dreams/aspirations and real life), and here are my current thoughts on them.
a. Graduate School. I think I already mentioned how a couple months ago I realized that I was completely unmotivated to really try hard at preparing for the exam. Every once in awhile I got all fired up and vowed to study and take the thing soon. But I could never follow through on it. Possibly I am afraid of failing (see above for proof of this theory!), and frankly, even studying the math scared me--I just don't remember it. Then, aside from the exam, I don't even know what to think about graduate school, as a whole. I don't think I'm ready yet to decide what type of program to choose. Yes, all this time I've thought about Public Health/Community Health Education. Unfortunately, I just don't know yet...nothing really excites me. I can't see myself really doing grad school. Right now I like making money and it is nice to have a break from the everyday stress of homework and all that. Plus, based on what I know from my senior year of college, graduate school will kill me with paper-writing.
My final decision, based on not yet making any decision about ANYTHING, is that I shall put off graduate school indefinitely, and wait until I feel a deep void in my life that could only be filled by higher education.
b. Performing. I wish I could be an actor. I wish I could be a public speaker. I love being in front of people. However, I don't think I really ever can or will do that. Boo. Henceforth I shall cease harboring any notions of fame in the entertainment and otherwise performing world.
c. Travel. Everyone knows the cliche American soul-searching backpacker. How awesome would that be, to take a whole year of life and just bum around, doing whatever, on other continents? The travel in my life is most likely going to be limited to just a couple continents, plus, when will I ever have enough money and willpower to just up and leave my whole life behind for a year? Come on, I already did AmeriCorps. Ha ha, I just realized that, that is fabulous. :)
Seriously though. I had been thinking this year about taking a trip to Europe. I was so homesick for Paris that I really thought about taking a long weekend to just jaunt over there and hang out. But really, Paris on my own, with nothing to do? Not sure if that would be cool. Obviously, Paris is always great, but maybe I should go somewhere new. I don't really feel any great pull towards any other great European city, and, remembering my Rome experience, I might get bored. Who wants to be bored in Rome?
Final decision: maybe take a long weekend in December to do something closer to home--I have no idea what--and save a big month long trip to Europe for next summer.
d. Work. Am I whoring myself out? Am I selling out for corporate America, that most evil capitalist empire? Pretty much. In my own silly defense, can I just reiterate for you all that money is cool?
No, really. I want to pay off my car, and it feels so good to not have to scrape by paycheck to paycheck. I am honestly living on my own for the first time in my life (yes, I know that shows just how sheltered I am, since I'm 23 years old), but even so, I am proud of myself. Having only one job, with standardized hours, for an extended period of time, still feels like a new thing for me. Sometimes it's a challenge because I feel bored or frustrated or overwhelmed by the notion that I am doing nothing to help greater humanity. But I try to buck up and always do the best that I can, and keep learning. So far I've been able to learn so much about the grown-up work world, and I think it will be very useful for whatever future I decide on. Assuming I decide on one.
My rational for all of this is to give it a year (from my permanent employment date of July 1). I figure that one year is a good time to test the waters of the whole demanding adult world, and that in this crazy market I may not even keep the job for that year. I look at it as a kind of experiment, proof to myself of my abilities, and that at the end of one year I will be allowed to evaluate my life (again, and for real). I have said to myself that after a year of working hard and trying my damndest to pay off my own car, I can go play and do something for me. Which leads me to my next and hopefully last piece.
e. Service, ie, Working for the Greater Good. What a difference a year makes! Once again, I shall briefly discuss how rewarding it was to know that whatever I did that day had some kind of positive, tangible effect on at least one person, if not an entire community. Yes, even something as mundane and boring as raking leaves. Somehow, chatting with people on the phone about their mortgages just doesn't quite live up, you know? Here are my thoughts. If, after a year, I decide that service is indeed that important, and I am financially stable enough, I shall devote another year to serving a community. Somewhere. Ooh, and I would love to move somewhere! What an adventure. Maybe I'll try for Team Leader in the Western or Southern Region of NCCC, maybe I'll try to work for a local AmeriCorps program in some different area, maybe I'll just go be a service bum. Who knows.
f. Spare time. I have way too much, and for the most part, I don't use it for anything remotely productive. So, beginning this weekend, I shall volunteer more/again. I'm thinking about taking a class at BCC or somewhere--maybe photography, maybe math or art history or something random. I am also in desperate need of expanding my social world. Is it me, or are the 20s a terrible time for social development? It's like everyone gets into a rut with their few friends and doesn't meet or hang out with too many new folks. I am totally guilty of that, but I love knowing lots of people in different capacities, so I got to get started getting out there.
Final decision: lots of talk about reinventing Julie's social sphere. But honestly, sitting around my own place reading all day long sounds pretty damn good, too.
Moral of this drawn-out piece of whatever: I think too much and do much too little. I hope that, probably in baby steps, I can change that.Thanks, y'all.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Now it's Tuesday. I am not quite fully rested of late, so here's to hoping for some early bedtimes. Hurrah for no social life!
However, now with more time on my hands and more disposable income, I am finally getting started on the decorating "projects" I've been meaning to start. Plus, my dad brought over some extra furniture, so now there are a whole bunch of places for people to sit, plus a coffee table. And over the weekend I got a toaster. The table and toaster are very exciting updates for us. I finally got enlargements for all my beautiful travel pictures and I am going to put those up in an exhibit type thing. And we're going to put up calendar pictures (of Greece and of sunsets) and a world map on some of the living room walls Wish me luck completing it all. After that I want to stain our wood table and storage thing--fun with paintbrushes!
Oh! I know. I hereby, formally apologize and beg forgiveness from everyone I've ever had to spend extended time with for any whining/bitching/complaining/general moodiness I have ever done. I know it's not pretty and not nice and completely unpleasant, and I heartily thank everyone who still talkes to me. I will be better. :)
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Today I cleaned and went out to town, running exciting errands to start decorating our empty-walled apartment. I was also fortunate to find all the world's most annoying people, in the Tukwila Kinko's. Who knew? Let's hope I have the energy to finish the effort. Good luck.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Friday, August 01, 2003
I've been walking, and beginning to slowly get back into working out. I wish I could have more time for it but not spend any time doing it. I feel like I don't have time for doing anything, or doing nothing. I've been reading a lot, trying to stay away from the evil box, and trying to get more sleep. Haven't decided if it's working or not, though. In fact, it's only 9.30 right now, but I find myself kind of sleepy. I shall lie down and read now. Good night.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Yesterday I remembered the time I did a read-aloud for the team. It was at TrailBlazers, after I had started working on the library and going on reading binges. I read them The Giving Tree, because I always loved that book. I got to nearing the end, and I said, okay I have to stop because I'm going to start crying. The team laughed, but I said, no, I'm serious! as a couple tears escaped. Then someone else finished it up for me. There's some kind of deep statement there about friendships and teamwork. Or maybe I'm just too darn mushy. Ha.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
So. Welcome to Complacency Land. I am now the official Resident Couch Potato. I don't do anything. Since I bought the tv over the weekend (and got my mom's extra VCR--she's using mine back at her place), I have spent altogether WAY too many hours slumped in Stacey's leather chair, slack-jawed and spaced out in front of that evil box. Sigh.
In other news, I got an email through the AmeriCorps Association about the danger that AmeriCorps is facing in Congress right now. It makes me sick to think about what might happen...but I have put off doing anything about it. I actually started a letter to Email My Elected Representatives, but man...I am so bad at that kind of stuff. It feels to trite and cheesy to say "AmeriCorps changed my life, please do everything you can to keep it running so it can change more lives," but damn, it's the truth. I want to write something profound, provocative, memorable, something that will catch the attention of whatever poor aide has been assigned to read the messages from the masses. You know? More likely, however, I will ramble on, disparately, desparately, trying to get my point across in way too many words.
Speaking of words, I'm working my way through Made in America, by Bill Bryson, and it's freaking awesome. It's like a history of America with a linguistic eye. Truly fascinating. For instance, did you know "Idaho" is a made-up word? They needed a name for the state and someone thought it up to be sort of Indian-sounding. Very weird. And Abner Doubleday had absolutely nothing to do with baseball, that uber-American (but in reality, completely not) pastime. It's exactly the type of book I wish I could have researched or written. I love obscure facts about random stuff that everyone takes for granted.
Sunday, June 29, 2003
The week has been very busy with work and stuff. I finished up my physical therapy prescription for the ol' knees...woo. At some point I fully intend to begin a slow return to regular workouts. Honestly, these weeks of nothing have really made a difference, and now the effort to get back into shape will be difficult all over again. Sigh. Not to whine, or anything. I know it's my fault. And that's my downfall, because for the most part I don't really care.
So yeah, the fifth installment of Harry Potter was excellent, as anticipated. I was really excited to get a copy on the day it came out in stores, and had to start reading as soon as I possibly could. Frankly, I'm disappointed it took a whole week to read it...but I have had very little free time this week. Another thing I fully intend to do is reread the previous four to remind myself of everything, then maybe read number five again. Stupid waiting a long time between new ones!! .... A couple weeks ago I went on a spree at the Bellevue library...I got seven books or something obscene like that. Rarr. I'm nearly done with the third of those. Yay books. A couple weeks ago I tried to start reading Schindler's List, but the writing/grammar was poor enough to distract me from the story. I guess that means I'll just have to watch the movie.
Friday, June 13, 2003
I have gone shopping a lot lately, but at inexpensive places, so I have gotten lots of return on my effort. Oh, and it has been an effort.
It's been nearly two weeks that I've been out of commission, so to speak, because of knee pain. A week ago something twisted funny in my left knee and I could hardly walk for two days. Then, of course, the strain on my right knee from limping on it made that one hurt even more. I went to an orthopedist and was diagnosed with patellar tendonitis, for which I received prescriptions for anti-inflammatory and physical therapy (the other PT). During the last week and a half, the former has not relieved any pain or discomfort, and the latter has seemed to increase it. Hmm. Anyway, the rest definitely helps (I have been working out three to four times a week for three months now, and apparently it was tough on my li'l ol' joints), and the extra time is wonderful. Somehow I squander it though, so I still feel like I don't get anything done. Oh well. Unfortunately, the rest has also necessitated some of that aforementioned shopping...I gained about seven pounds in the first few days of not working out. What a week it was.
A week from today, Stacey and I will be able to officially move into our new apartment in Renton! I am totally unprepared...my stuff is once again scattered across several zip codes. Sigh, I must face the challenge of packing everything I own and at long last (attempting to, anyway) having it all in the same place with me. Actually, that's never happened before, so wish me luck. It will require quite a lot of effort and energy, not to mention boxes and packing tape. Dammit, more shopping. Ah, the shopping. There's so much I'll need, now that I'll actually be moving out on my own.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
In November, our campus Service Learning Coordinator gave out instructions for a reflection exercise--to write letters to ourselves, six months in the future. My team decided to write letters to the whole team, six months in the future.
Lo and behold, it's been six months already and last week I received my packet of letters. I made this really cutesy, colorful envelope, with the return address listed as Julie from six months ago, of Fire 4 Schmire 4. Anyway, I was so excited to get them and read them. It was really fun to remember those days, and to read little notes from my teammates.
Another fun team thing from last week--we got four of us on the phone at the same time! Thanks to modern technology and three-way cell phones, Jess, Jep, Dez and I all got to talk to each other. I loved hearing all their voices again, and at the same time. Like the good old days. Aww.
So! Back to Memorial Day...(check out the pictures from the trip here!)
We caught an evening ferry to Bainbridge Island and then drove to Port Angeles. It was a lovely drive, all foresty and then views of the big Olympic mountains. Very impressive. We arrived at our cozy bed and breakfast and slept well.
Saturday, Dan and I went out and explored some nature. Took Highway 101 around the peninsula to Olympic National Park, and the Hoh Rainforest. It was incredible there. Walked the "Hall of Mosses" trail, looking at the giant trees and the hanging mosses covering them. There were a lot of nurselog colonnades. That's what happens when a tree falls, seedlings and other plant life take root in the fallen trunk, trees begin to grow from the seedlings, and eventually the fallen log (the nurselog) rots away, leaving a line of trees with roots that now grow around empty space before hitting the ground. Fascinating, the way the circle of life works in the forest. I loved how everything was green, it was so refreshing. Our other excursion was a drive up to Hurricane Ridge. It's a long, twisty road up a mountain, but it took our breath away when we finally reached the top. We could see the huge panorama of the Olympic mountains and foothills, blanketed in evergreens. It was amazing. There was snow up there, at the lodge (it's 5,000 feet up!), so we walked around in it a bit, all bundled up in coats. It was just beautiful.
Sunday we only did one thing, because we were tired of driving. We drove to Crescent Lake, the ranger station, and took the short trail to look at Marymere Falls. It was very pretty. Then we took the Mt. Storm-King trail. Oh boy. The Port Angeles brochure said it was a challenging trek, steep and quite narrow. Well. I have a bone to pick with them, let me tell you. That trail was 1.7 miles straight up the mountain. 2200 feet straight uphill. All uphill switchbacks for 1.7 miles of raw mountain. It seemed to take forever. We had to stop every ten minutes just to catch our breath. I was all out of breath and sweaty and ugh. The unfair thing was seeing all these people coming down the mountain. There were kids running down the hills. We were like, why do they have energy for that?? And two separate people said something about the second rope at the top. We were baffled at that.
So we reach what really seems to be near the top, it's more rocky than forested, and the cliffs go straight down from the skimpy path. There's a sign that declares the end of the maintained trail, and that to travel on is dangerous. Well, we were there for the view from the top, darnit, so sod the damn sign. On we go, climbing tentatively and not looking down...some pretty scary places where the path skirts a curve, on a straight slant with scree heading straight down, and a stupid bush sticking out where we need to walk. I think I just tried to walk in the bush to not fall down the mountain. Then we hit the rope--there was a 50-foot section of fairly steep incline with no holds, so some brave soul had secured a rope with which to haul oneself up the incline. Crawling around more steep and scary paths, keep going...and we hit the second rope, up another steep incline with no holds. Then we come to a precarious rock formation that appears to be the end yet has no trace of the promised view. So we climbed up those rocks and suddenly we were on top of the whole thing. It was breathtaking. The entire Lake Crescent lay below us. The Strait of Juan de Fuca lay beyond that. There was fog rolling in when we first got there, giving it an eerie, mystical feeling. I was glad to see it dissipate though, I had visions of getting stuck up there, unable to see to get back down the mountain. We had a view of the miniscule ranger station where we'd begun our long journey. The mountains and hills were just gorgeous, untouched by civilization. I loved it. The damn brochure and the other hikers we met were totally right--the challenge was worth it.
Then we had to get down the mountain. The bit back to the maintained trail was the hardest. I crawled most of it on my bum, because it felt all slanty and I felt pretty certain that if I were standing up, I was far too likely to lose my balance and just roll down the rocky hillside. So I picked my way down nice and slow, and then we hit the downhill switchbacks. Difficult on different muscles and joints. By the time we finally reached the bottom, we were exalted at making it, and nearly limping with foot pain (I wore those favorites--steel toes, whose grip I was pretty grateful for, but damn they got uncomfortable, and Dan was wearing ordinary sneakers. So sitting down felt awesome. We wolfed down a quick dinner at a Mexican place, then went back to the B&B to rest. Ahh.
I was pretty sore on Monday, some in my legs, but a lot in my upper body. It was from pulling myself up the ropes and then the death grips on the way pulling myself down the hills. Phew. We drove home, playing with some trivia games, and had a restful afternoon.
All in all it was a great weekend. I loved being able to take a complete break from work for three straight days. (As everyone knows that talks to me at all, this was only the second weekend in over two months that I hadn't worked six days a week. Woo!)So now I've got pictures up--go check them out.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
So. A few weeks ago now, I had a big trip across the country! It was exciting. I left on a Wednesday night at midnight and flew through the night to JFK airport in NYC. Really wanted to sleep but this obnoxious kid right behind me was way too loud. So I got in, dumped my crap at Joe's, and went on into the city. I was so freaking tired though. I started at Union Square and just wandered around. But mostly I just sat around. First at the Wendy's, then outside the New York Public Library. I took a tour of the library too, it was incredible. It's a beautiful building, and it has marble from six different countries within it. There is a whole room just for maps! I love that. It was a gorgeous day outside, so it felt wonderful to just sit outside. Unfortunately, then a bird shat on my leg. Excellent. It was so hard not to fall asleep out there, with the sunshine and the reading. Then I'm sure I walked around and stuff, and was tired. Ate some more, at McDonald's near Times Square. Sleepy sleepy. Later I somehow found my way to this bar in Soho or somewhere, to watch the Mariners get beat in a pitching duel with the Yankees. Oh well. I played some good pool. Then I slept for over 13 hours! Oh, that was lovely.
Friday I walked around the city. Looked around NYU, got some info on the MPH program there. Tried to visit the UN, but I missed the last tour by mere minutes. Got to see my friend Kristin who moved to New York last year without me.
Saturday morning I went to TrailBlazers! When we arrived from the van ride, I found the new NCCC team, led by Terri from last year. It was fun to catch up and hear about her year so far. There were about forty people there for Operation Muscle. Everyone split into groups for various tasks around camp. I began with the building crew, cleaning up the Farmers smallcamp (our home for the last two weeks of our time there last year)--raking, lashing, etc. In the afternoon I joined the canvas crew. I enjoyed putting up the canvas last year, it was always a challenge--ugh, especially those damn tipis. They were nearly impossible for us newbies. Anyway, we didn't do any tipis this time, just the tents and kitchen flys. It was really interesting...Steve was with us to start, but then he left to do other stuff. Chief Rowland was there, in full stubborn working order, and five people who had never done canvas before, and me, who hadn't done it for a year. But it worked out fairly well. We did good.
There was a spaghetti dinner, and later a powwow. I learned some new songs and played some new games. During the day I got to talk to some of the new NCCC team members, who will be heading to TrailBlazers for the first three weeks of June. It was great. Mostly it made me miss my team a lot, and remember fondly all the crazy stuff from last year. One of my favorite things about NCCC is meeting the people, hearing stories about where people are from, what they've done. It's always fascinating.
Hm. There's more. But I can't think of it now, so I'll add it later.
Monday, May 19, 2003
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
The other night I had a dream where I was vividly aware of being on the Isle of Lewis. It was strange, mostly because I've never been there and couldn't even point to it on a map. If asked, I may not even remember it's in Scotland. But in this dream I was driving around the Isle of Lewis, speaking with an accent and everything (but English, since I have trouble mastering the Scottish accent). I believe there was a Blockbuster video involved too, oddly. Maybe my brain is fully realizing its clairvoyancy or something. If I'm ever on Lewis and have a deja vu, I'll know it's real! Man, I'm weird. Maybe I'm just excited about New York and TrailBlazers. I am really excited for that, actually. TrailBlazers is so gorgeous, and it's so refreshing and wonderful and challenging to be in nature like that, it's so intense! I remember so much about it, in great detail; I'm almost scared to go back because it will literally hurt to be somewhere so familiar without my team. (Yes, here I go again. This is why I have an imaginary audience, because they won't get all exasperated with me for covering the same ground time and time again.) And I'm in that stage of not really believing it, you know? It's a big thing (just the idea of the long, middle of the night flight is a big deal), and it's in the future, and those things always seem the slightest bit unreal for me. Like it won't actually happen.
Speaking of AmeriCorps, I'm having a bit of an inner conflict. Well, not really, I guess it's just seeds of ideas taking place and wandering about. Last night I attended a meeting for team captains for Seattle Works Day (Seattle Works, remember, is the local chapter of City Cares. This event is a fundraiser/serve-a-thon event). The 'alumni' folk were talking about how much fun it is, how everyone gets dirty and grimy doing manual labor, how motivated everyone is to get lots of work done. And I just couldn't help remembering my whole last year. That was our life, doing grunt work, stuff no one else wants to do, trying to get motivated every single day to go out and give your all. It got boring a lot. There's a huge difference between less than half a day's work, one time a month, and forty hours a week for two months! Raking again, painting again, etc etc. But somehow I can remember it as being fun. We would play games or gossip or whatever. Some stuff was so unfun that it was fun--like scraping the paint off the dockboards. (That became symbolic in its infamy.) Scraping the paint in the basement of the lodge was satisfying, because it would come off in big chunks and spray out at you when you got going all fast.
Then I remember the service days--National Youth Service Day last April, Make a Difference Day in October, and the all-corps service day in November. For the first event, my team cleaned up a bird sanctuary in Baltimore. Man, we made such a difference! I think we filled five city dump trucks and eight pickup trunks with all the trash and debris. Remember, there was all kinds of junk--a refrigerator, a shopping cart, a tv, a vacuum cleaner, various parts of car (fender, wheels, grill), plus tons of just trash. Empty alcohol bottles and junk food wrappers.And we found those tiny baby kittens! At first it was so tedious, but then we got into it, seeing what we were really doing--actually making a whole neighborhood better. Same thing in November, we cleaned up several tens of tons of trash. Right in downtown Baltimore--tires, rats, needles, all sorts of non-beautifying items. That was an incredible day, I loved it. What a rush, to see the before and after difference!
What all this is about is how much I miss it. I miss my life being part of something bigger, something important, something incredible and unique. I miss the comraderie, the way no one else in the world can even begin to understand what last year was like. I miss the excitement of learning about our new projects, of packing that red bag with all three outfits for the next eight weeks. I miss the way that even routine, tedious stuff is mildly exciting, because you know that you don't realize what it really means until it's over. I really miss meeting the people--such a vibrant variety of humankind exists outside of my normal life! It's thrilling. While I enjoy my job right now, it's interesting and completely new to me, it's a job. I have a desk and a chair and a computer and a phone and I deal with paperwork all day. I know how to unjam the copier. I feel so utterly normal, boring, superficial, unspecial.
I want to recommit myself to service. Right after I save up some money and get some real experience for the Real World. I think I really want to go back to work for the world
Friday, April 04, 2003
So let's see. Last weekend I got another new toy--a shiny new scanner! Since it's been awhile that I've hankered for one, I'm very excited. Have already uploaded all my Ameri-pics to my big spacious computer, and now am scanning the ones I didn't already have. Then I will go through my childhood pics and scan those too. Fun times for geeks like me!!
One big thing is happening relatively soon. The first weekend of May is Operation Muscle at TrailBlazers, the decentralized camp in the woods of rural New Jersey where Fire 4 toiled for our first spike. Operation Muscle is an event designed with two purposes in mind, at least as far as I can tell: first, to help get the camp ready for the summer (which believe me, is a huge, gargantuan task), and bring together alumni and generations of past and future campers, for whom TrailBlazers is a very special and meaningful place. And I will be there! I can't wait. I know it will be intensely, achingly familiar but completely different. At the very least, my team won't be there. I won't have to wonder what good I could possibly be doing by raking leaves in a darn forest (we learned last year how many things need to happen for a successful running of sessions, and unfortunately there are a lot of mundane things like cleaning and washing dishes that are necessary). So I'm excited, even for silly things like sleeping outdoors. I'm going to take a nice long weekend and also visit New York City for a bit.
Okay. I know that there's more I can talk about. But right now I can't even think of anything, my brain is addled after yet another crazy fast week at work. I'm hoping to have the energy and motivation to go in to work tomorrow instead of Sunday. As much as I know that the work needs to be done and that I could easily do a lot more, I selfishly want one single day free. Then, of course, that day speeds by and is over before I know it, and I have to work again. Goodness. This week was weird and busy, yet also more unproductive than most, because of a reshuffling of people and jobs and desks and phones. I'm at my fourth desk in my just-over-two-months at this job, and now I've started working with government files, which rather baffle me. I'm quite comfortable with conventional files and yet still know so little about those, which I've worked with for about two months. Egad.
For the past month, my sleeping patterns have been severly altered. Perhaps a mere handful of nights have found me sleeping soundly through the night. The rest of the time I just can't stay asleep. I certainly don't get up or anything, I'd much rather be in bed. But oh, it's so frustrating to know it's 5am, and I have to get up at 7, and pleasepleaseplease can't I just sleep, for crying out loud? If sound slumber were a vice, I would have freely admitted myself a sleep addict. The more, the better. I love looking forward to climbing into my bed, with the whale and leopard and dog (all stuffed of course) to keep me company. Realizing it's the middle of the night and I'm not asleep is just torturous for me. I always want to throw a tantrum or something when the alarm goes off and I get up, feeling like crap yet again. Argh.
Friday, March 14, 2003
As you all probably know ("you all" being the wide and varied audience of this silly site whom I've created in my sad imagination), I am working, it's been nearly two months now, actually! The job is through a temp agency at a mortgage company, conveniently located in downtown Renton, mere (heavily-trafficked) miles away. The money is pretty good, I think, for the work. For me, in terms of Life After AmeriCorps, it's amazing and, frankly, mind-blowing. I've never had a stable, routine, forty-hour-week job before, so the whole thing is new to me. But the money is one of the best parts, honestly. For example, last weekend, I went to Costco and bought a computer. Just like that. Didn't even need the credit card. (It's not top of the line or anything, just a lot more modern that the old one. Also I just bought a tower; there are already too many computer monitors in the world, so I'm still using the old one.) I can do things like that now, I am finally building a stable financial base. The next thing I need to do is start investing and refinance my car loan--talk about adult responsibility! But the flip side of the financial freedom is the job stress--working overtime, bringing work home, and the tendency of routine-induced boredom. A positive aspect of that, however, is that I'm learning a lot, and I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job. The mortgage business is pretty interesting, and obviously right now things are beyond hectic. Which makes it fun, when one doesn't stress out. As a temp, I don't really need to stress much, for the most part. Until the end of the month arrives, and things get insane again. EEK. So it's like I am a grown-up, who just feels fifteen.
I love my new computer!!! Yay.
Oh! And Dan, he's fairly new, too. :) Dan and I have been together for a month and a half, and it's going great. We took a weekend trip to Portland a couple weeks ago, which was fun and exhilarating. Visited the coast, breathtaking of course. The drama that surrounded our relationship (before it even started) has dissipated considerably, mainly because we've had to back out from the social group in which we met. It's sad to not see my other friends, but I figure we're all busy anyway and we'll still find time at some point to catch up.
So yeah, this whole war thing? It's just like I was talking about below...Bush and the boys just itching for a war, but for some reason won't say it. I read a quote of one of the bigwigs that said, obviously the object is to avoid a war. I don't believe that for a second. Do the math: more troops deployed, ships stationing themselves in the Red Sea, pompous speeches saying they don't need anyone's permission to go to war...I'm sorry, but it's ridiculous! Now with ever-mounting protests, petitions and vigils, I'm wondering if the baby-boomers are experiencing some deja-vu, you know? I really don't agree with this war plot, I think it's unnecessary and just an excuse for the conservative-led US to exert as much force on the rest of the planet as allowed. North Korea referred to America as "imperialist" for crying out loud! So yeah, they're threatening nuclear war and so seem a little on edge, so to speak, but that term really jumped out at me. Of course this is US imperialism. Why hasn't anyone noticed it before? Argh, I'm getting muddled and I really don't know what I'm talking about anyway.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
And SUVs supporting terrorism? Please. Way to attempt to manipulate the people into supporting your agenda, President Bush.
Well, travel is what I really meant to write about here. This week I battled my wanderlust instincts: having remained in the country for over a year and a half, I of course am yearning to explore some new territory. Namely, Vienna, Prague, Bavaria, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Early last week I very nearly bought a plane ticket to Europe, to spend a month over there in February-March. But, predictably, finances and lack of a risk-taking spirit eventually convinced me I couldn't. But never fear! I visited the offices of Rick Steves, intrepid traveloguer, in lovely Edmonds. While perusing guidebooks and rail maps of Europe, a staff member told my friend and I about the very realistic prospects of working abroad, doing things like au pair and menial labor like grape picking. That got me excited and motivated to go to Europe, for a longer period of time and soon. What I need to do is find a way to save up some money, to get a little cushion with which to travel to the afore-mentioned new places, and then support myself while looking for temporary work in London or Paris.
My holiday job at the Bon Marche is over now, so I am looking for a real job, but it is difficult and increasingly frustrating. The job market in Seattle is truly awful. There are lots of jobs advertised, but there are just too many people looking for those same jobs. I am staying afloat, for now, and am hoping I can scrape by for the next few months until I can put something together.
Another plan I am trying to be productive enough to implement is graduate school. I decided to focus on getting the GRE taken and out of the way. So there are some prep courses in early March that I'm looking into, and then I'm hoping I can take the actual test soon after those. The financial part of this plan is a little steep for little unemployed me, but it's time to GET THINGS DONE. Right-o. I have decided to pursue a Masters of Public Health, in some aspect of Community Health/Community Health Education. There are some great programs at UCLA and NYU, among others.
Today I had a cello lesson, which was a Christmas present from my dad (five lessons altogether). It felt strange and very familiar to pick up a cello. It felt good, and it came back to me surprisingly quick, reading the notes, the fingerings, the bow movements. It didn't sound very nice, but I suppose that will improve with time. All in all, it was satisfying and exciting to play the cello again, after seven years away.
Well, that's all for now, folks. I think I've prattled on quite enough for one sitting. Take care, y'all!