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 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

08/12/03: So seriously, this past weekend was all about the annoying people. I kept almost running into all these terrible drivers. Yucky. Another thing about the weekend that was only a little annoying/yucky, and ultimately "about damn time," was the cleaning of my bedroom and bathroom. It was the first real clean since we moved in over a month ago. I love that feeling of looking around and being able to see the great difference after a nice effort to make it all pretty.
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

08/09/03: So. It has been a long, lonely, single week. I have worked a lot of overtime, so at least I can feel productive. By the end of the week, boy was I struggling. I had a serious case of the Friday fidgets most of yesterday. Got through it, though. I even "processed" a file this week (I put it in quotation marks because I sat and did whatever my colleague told me to do. In any case, it was sort of exciting). Picked up my new set of contacts, it only took two months to figure that all out. My knees got to twinging a little too much, about halfway through the week, and so I haven't been walking or working out. I do feel sluggish, but I like having more time to sit and read. I've been zipping through all kinds of books lately. Got to talk with several of my former teammates this week, that was great. Sometimes I can picture things from last year so perfectly in my head, and it just blows my mind that it's over. It's funny though, because I've been reading my journals from last year, and there were so many low times! It was a really tough experience and sometimes I wasn't sure I could make it. Now, though, it seems all rosy and pretty and friendly. I think it's a good thing to not stay bitter (or at least not about everything :). Plus, despite the fact that our team was not usually a cohesive whole last year, and I didn't know all of them perhaps as well as I should have, it now seems like we all belong to each other. We all want to know what happening with the others. It's a nice, family-ish feeling.
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

08/03/03: Today I watched an Italian film called Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips). I loved it. I want to be that movie. There's something magical about foreign films, no extreme camera shots, the way the music is so different--no top 40 hits in the soundtrack; simpler sounds that convey more emotion or something--and I love how the actors in any foreign film are just everyday people. Other cultures clearly don't need to see gorgeous people in every role of every movie. It's wonderful.

Friday, August 01, 2003

08/01/03: So July is over now. It has been a real summer lately, warm and dry and restless. Work is crazy still, my patience is tried at least once a day with difficult phone calls, but we still have fun. I have money right now and I want to shop. I don't really know how or when or where, but I'm just in that mood to spend. This past week passed in a blur. Since Thursday was the end of the month, and usually it falls at the end of a week, it feels like today was a Monday. So I keep forgetting that now it's a weekend again. Somehow the weekend is pretty packed, without my doing. That is odd. Last Sunday, save for the brunch with Dan, I spent the day doing absolutely nothing. Watching television, movies, napping on the sofa, it felt wonderful. I didn't even work last weekend. So of course this weekend I need to buckle down and work a lot. I really should, and I will love the overtime. I'm just so...lazy and tired and boring. I don't really know what to do enough to actually do anything, if that makes sense.

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.