Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Going under

Good lord, it's been a week since all of this started in earnest. And already it's getting to me.

I just feel completely out of it--unprepared, forgetful, anxious, bored, sleepy. There's so much to do, even more to remember to do for later, and as the summer progresses ever so slowly, the time available to do these things keeps shrinking.

There is a poem assignment due next week. I have no poetry books here. I had a decent selection at home, but of course they are sitting in boxes in the barn. I'm sitting in a library right now, but it's not like there's tons of free time to look around. I had thought of using Poe's Annabel Lee for my analysis. But the prof just told us that this assignment is to be a model for our future classes, and thus needs to be appropriate to share with small children. Poe is definitely not appropriate. So apparently now I have to find a poem that I can relate to in a happy manner. Happy? Me? Are you kidding? Are you sure I should be here? I'm beginning to think I won't make it to the fall.

Last night was a big placement fair, open to the entire city. I went, but didn't even make it to the building because I met some classmates on the street. They are assigned to the same region I am, and there was only one school at the fair from that region. There was already a long line and they weren't accepting resumes anymore. So that was a bust. I don't know how to get a placement. I know absolutely nothing about Queens, so it's not like I can just walk around the area (which is freaking huge, by the way, and not all easily accessible by public transportation) looking for elementary schools that are hiring. I know I'm the only one in this situation, but I'm just feeling so lost. And it's just getting worse.

I've been assigned to a school out in the middle of nowhere, Queens. Actually in a place called St Albans. On the map it's really close to the eastern border of the city. WAY out there. Sigh. I may have a pretty hellish commute this summer!

One of the hardest things is not having internet access at home. Such a pain in the ass. All of the correspondence from the Fellowship is through email. All of the Advisor sessions require downloaded and printed forms from the Fellow website. I'm making best friends with my copy card.

I think that the way things are going, I'm going to start crying any hour now. I feel myself getting myself more desperate and lost and unsure of everything. I don't even have anyone to talk to! No roommate, no good friends in New York that know what's going on with this stuff, no real friends yet in the program, nothing. Fuck fuck fuck. Yeah, crying any minute now.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Out of my element

I am beginning to feel silly for being here at all. At the moment it's not because I have no idea what I'm doing, because it's clear the rest of my fellow Fellows feel exactly the same. That is a big relief, by the way. And a Fellow spoke to us at Orientation and said that he'd felt that too, but by the end of the summer he was prepared; the staff and everyone else had taught him all he needed to know. There is hope.

No, I'm feeling silly because I am really out of the loop. The majority of my classmates already live here, have apartments and cars and ideas where they want to teach--like somewhere near their place. They looked at me funny, practically laughed, when I asked about recess. Apparently no one in the New York City area got recesses. I remember morning and afternoon recess, but they just get a lunch one here. Plus, not many people seem to have the big-ass commutes that I do. They're just going about their business. I'm going about it like AmeriCorps--that we're all in this new adventure together. But it's totally not like that. I feel like I'm working harder than I should, just in terms of logistics, not classwork. I don't know my way around the city, I don't even know the names of the areas that these people live in or are from. I know Williamsburg, but just my street, none of the cute or trendy or interesting parts of Williamsburg. My area is dirty. There's lots of kids around, which means it's not actually dangerous. I'm intimidated because I'm a lone white girl who doesn't speak Spanish. Tomorrow I hope to get out and explore so that I don't have to be so scaredy-cat.

I'm really excited for the weekend though. I've got plans to see friends. My packages are here; the big boxes will be delivered Friday morning, and after they arrive I'll go pick up my book box at the post office (which apparently is right around the corner--see what I mean about exploring?). That means I'll have all my stuff! Like my clothes and my sneakers and my blankie! Hurrah!

Also, the big certification tests are on Saturday. I keep almost forgetting about that. Which is dangerous, because I think I need to report to the Sheraton somewhere in Manhattan at like seven a.m. on Saturday morning. Ugh. This morning on the trains I reviewed the vocabulary so that it will start to become familiar so that I can use it on the CST. I can't wait to get all that over with. I'm totally not studying; if I don't pass one of them, I'll worry about that later.

Rrr. I should go because the afternoon boring class will start soon. I'm freaking hungry, I do not have enough food at my disposal. Plus it's super expensive to buy a snack on campus, so I'm all cleaned out. And guess what? I now have about two thousand dollars of debt on my credit cards. I HATE that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Oh holy crap

So now it's really begun. I'm trying not to freak out.

First things first. I've been here for a whole week now (well, including the weekend away). It feels like much longer, partly because being "home" is so lonely. It makes me sad to be so quiet in the evenings. Television is only so interesting. Not having a computer is really tough right now; for school there's all this homework and downloading we're supposed to be able to do. My boxes are in New York but I'm not at home to get the delivery. I suppose it will have to wait til Friday or Saturday.

Monday afternoon the welcoming event was at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. Pretty impressive. There are two thousand Fellows this year, chosen from over 17,000 applicants! (This is the time when you say to yourself, 'boy, that Julie, she must be pretty good!' Heh.) There were a series of speakers, including past Fellows and their students, and some performances too. It was a nice event. After that we met in our small advisory groups. I really like my advisor, she's really no-nonsense but has a great sense of humor too. My group is mostly people older than me (not by too much, but altogether varies pretty widely; most of them are what I'd call real grown-ups) who come from completely different backgrounds--a lot from law and finance. They are all interesting and friendly. Whew!

Yesterday was an orientation-type day at Queens College, where I was assigned. Those of you in AmeriCorps know what it was like--a lot of boring talk about important things that still somehow didn't satisfy the need for real details. Paperwork. Lots of new faces, staff from the Fellows program and staff from Queens College. I'm not really sure exactly who belongs to what institution, but I'm trying to be patient. Not sure if it's working. I find myself getting frustrated when I don't get enough information. That seems to be all the freaking time lately.

Today was the first real day. We bought our textbooks for the two courses we're taking this summer. For the next two weeks, I have a literacy class all morning, an hour for lunch, a child development class all afternoon, a half-hour break, then the Advisor session for an hour and a half. Nine to six. The commute is just over an hour from my apartment in Williamsburg (which I am now saying with a New York accent)--two trains and a bus. There is a ton of reading. There are a few papers and projects scattered pretty well. Mostly it's reading. I really like the literacy class so far, it's very hands-on and fun, and interesting. This morning we sat and the teacher read us a story. Later we paired up and read stories to partners. I love it, and am excited to get more familiar with children's books. The child-development class is just like a traditional college course--lecture and note-taking off power point-type overheads. Boring! But the teacher does try to have us participate.

So anyway, back to the freaking out. There's no time for anything! Commuting, going to class all day long, going home, not having any real food in the house and no time to go buy any, who knows how I'll find time to get everything done. I'm still too intimidated by my neighborhood to walk at night, so I hope to get home by 9 each night. I'm going to be so boring this summer. And so tired. It's hard not to sleep with all my blankets and stuffed animals! It sounds juvenile, but it's true. At least the weather has calmed some, it's not sticky and disgusting like it was last week. It's still warm and a little humid, but much more 'acceptable' than last week.

And now I better get to work. There is a paper due in the morning, one to two pages reflecting on how I learned to read, write and talk. I hardly remember anything, and I only talked briefly to the parents, who don't have too many details either. I hope I can do okay on it. I think at this point I just want to get through it. I should be able to get some reading done on the long-ass ride home. I don't know what I'll do for dinner. Money is going ridiculously fast, even worse than I anticipated, I can't believe it.

Must get to work.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Back to the city

Hi all again.
This past weekend was truly a great one. I had a lot of fun with new and old people, seeing all our old haunts, taking pictures of the sunset at the Point. A bunch of guys live in my old house on Fourth street, one of whom is friends with Brodie from back in Bellingham. Crazy small world, eh?

Hey, speaking of small world, get this. I've been getting nervous about whether I'm doing the right thing, and nervous about getting my bearings in this huge place, etc etc. When I checked my email this weekend, I'd gotten a message from igougo.com, a travel site where people put up travelogue type information. I've got a few entries from a couple trips I've done in the past. Anyway, this particular message was a Community Update about New York, with member notes spotlighted. And the first one in the email is MINE! I felt all famous and excited to be noted in this space. And like it was a sign, reminding me how incredible this city is. Reading it in my own freaking words kind of brought me back to my senses about this whole thing. How can this not be the right thing to be doing?

Yesterday evening I met up with my cousin who moved here earlier this year. He's working in theatre, the lucky bastard. He found a loft apartment near the WTC, that's cool but teeny. Anyway, it was really nice to see a familiar face, and it was fun to catch up on stuff.

Later in the evening, back in the apartment, I was sitting around, chatting on the phone, when this giant roach scuttled out from behind another chair. It was huge-like two inches. I've only seen small ones before and was really hoping I would not experience this kind of them...god it was so gross. It freaked me out, especially when it started crawling up the walls. They can CRAWL UP THE WALL. TO THE CEILING. Not to sound like a typical scaredy-cat girl, but EW EW EW EW. Absolutely gross and icky and disgusting. Blech. I sucked it up with the extension on the vacuum and then stuck the extension up against the wall in the hopes that it wouldn't be able to crawl back out. YUCK.

Anyway. This afternoon the fellowship officially begins. I've got a little over an hour to get up to Lincoln Center. I'll probably find a bookstore to chill in for a bit. Fuck, I need to find some study resources for the tests I have to take this weekend. Eek!

Yesterday and today were considerably less humid and sticky. I am terribly grateful. Keep it up, weather.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Pardon my french

But holy fucking shit this is crazy. I'm sitting in the computer lab in Perry Point right now! It still has the same smell to it. And the computers are slow as ever. Nothing has changed!

I keep exclaiming how crazy and weird and awesome it is to be here. Thankfully there are others who share the sentiment (thank goodness). I am loving it, having so much fun with other alumni and current corps members. Even hearing the local accent!

It's been a really great weekend so far. I'm so happy that I came to this. To my absent teammates, you suck! Just kidding, I really wish you guys were here to share this crazy deja vu type stuff. Hey, speaking of the Rendez-Vous, it's still the happening place. We played shuffleboard last night! I also got the recipe for a sweet tart, my favorite drink that no other bar has even heard of. Hurrah!

I will write much more at a later date.

Go volunteer!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Welcome in New York!

I am here. So unreal.

My flight went just fine, even though it took off nearly an hour late. I slept the whole time, which is unusual for me. The satellite tv didn't even tempt me, and I didn't pack a book to read, so I just tried to sleep like normal. Could have been worse.

When we landed at 8.40AM today, it was already 77 degrees. Blech. It took me a long-ass time to get to the apartment in Brooklyn, like over two hours. Dragging those suitcases up and down stairs added to the heat-driven sweat, plus heated up some calluses on my hands. But eventually I arrived, and it was good. I put down all my stuff and went right for a cool shower. Ah, so refreshing.

Interestingly, my hair is like fifty percent bigger than usual. Super attractive. I have been shopping for shoes and for market food. There's still more I need to buy but I don't know where to go for them. I hate that, feeling unsure and lost. That feeling won't go away, living in a place like this.

I still can't believe this is happening. That I'm in New York. That I've *moved* to New York. This morning I got a call from the dentist's office that I visited in January; my next appointment was to be tomorrow. So I told her, well, I've actually just moved to New York, today, so I won't be able to make it! Crazy shit.

Ok I think I have to go. But I am easily reachable, mostly by cell phone which is still the same. Hurrah for technology.

Ciao, my babies!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Oh my!

I leave in approximately thirty-six hours. [Insert a frustrated, nervous wail here.] I have sort of 'packed' for my trip, but I am nowhere near done packing up all of my room. [My brother is moving into this room, so I must get all my crap out of here. Again.] Either this morning or this afternoon I will ship my computer. I'm pretty nervous about that. I'm still working tonight, 6-10. I hope that gets my mind off of this. Tomorrow I have nothing scheduled, so I'm pretty sure I'll be a nervous, panicky wreck all day, trying to get everything done.

Clearly, this isn't really happening. I can't believe I'm doing this. What in the world will happen?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I love this picture. That's the Pont Neuf in the foreground (you can sort of see the faces carved on it), and the 17th-century houses of the Ile de la Cite. Beautiful, no?  Posted by Hello

Here is another sunset from my window. There's no color alteration there--that's what it looked like. Wow.  Posted by Hello

This is the view from my window in Perry Point house 1103. That's the Chesapeake Bay right there, just past the point of the Susquehanna. The Aberdeen proving ground and Havre de Grace are on the other side of the water there somewhere.  Posted by Hello

Well, it was sort of sunny there for a minute

But now it looks like it's graying over again. Oh well. Summer schmummer!

Yesterday I did end up making a little progress on the packing. Or at least, throwing some things on my suitcases. Anything is better than nothing. Hurrah.

The rest of the day I was bored. That bored where you're too bored to do anything to avoid the bored-being. So in the evening, I semi-reluctantly went to the Bodyflow workout. They were doing a new routine, which I suppose is nice. It went okay. It's been a few weeks since I worked out. Mostly because I was working at the times when I normally would go. Although this week I could have gone, but I just didn't. So there. Anyway, I could definitely feel the workout. At the meditation, I was thinking for some reason about my old team. (Most of the time, I don't really have 'thoughts' while at the meditation, so this was a little unusual. I totally wasn't paying attention to the instructor. Hm.) It's amazing that I can still picture things exactly. I wish I remembered more things, but there were so many things happening all the time that's it like they all crowded themselves out of my head. But I can remember just what living in the Bridgeport house was like--that we never had enough dishes, that we never had any group dishes, how sleeping on the floor on little folding mats really wasn't too bad. And just Perry Point itself was incredible. What a location! The mornings I remember as always sunny and chilled. I remember the spiders and cobwebs in and around the houses, and the giant crickets too. I remember the easy jaunt to anyone else's house. The way we all were right there, but had our very own government houses. Ah, the Klein's trips! In the summer, there was a place right off the road behind the little post office that had a swamp-like area of giant warm puddles.

Anyway, there was something magical about that whole experience that I just can't help but remember a little too fondly. There was certainly a dark side. In any case, that's why I am thrilled at the chance to go back to the Point and see it all again. And a little heartbroken that my teammates won't be there to share it with.

Whew. Okay, done with the waxing sentimental, for now anyway. Heh, just watch.

Later in the evening I joined some friends in watching movies at their house. We watched Miracle. It was nice. I always enjoy a good sports flick. Then two of us stayed up to watch Something's Gotta Give. It was cute and funny, like everyone said. But man, it went on for-ever! The middle felt like it should have been the end. Anyway. The loneliness that the main character felt really resonated with me--that she felt completely undesirable and so better to stay alone. But the best part of the movie was the very end, in Paris. I figured there was no way they'd actually film in Paris and would have some cheesy set replacement or whatever. But no, that was the real thing! The first thing I saw that was true was those poles on the sidewalks. They're sort of parking meters but without the meter part, set at intervals down the sidewalk, and painted a dark purply color. The street that connected the Place Monge and the Rue Mouffetard had those. I walked that street several times a day to get between the hostel and the Metro. Then, of course, they're standing on the bridge in front of the Hotel de Ville. And the Conciergerie was visible in front of them. Oh goodness, how that made my heart ache! Though I've vowed to myself not to go back there until I've seen the many other places in Europe on my list, something about Paris will always call me, will always be home to a little part of me. I just love Paris! There's a part of me that's always thrilled at being in a big city, especially so in a foreign city. But for Paris, that thrill is exponentially magnified. Every time I go I find something new to love. It seems so cliche and trite, but god, what an incredible city! The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tourists...the central area on the river at night alone is breathtakingly gorgeous.

I must stop, I'll depress myself! I'll let you in on a little secret--I've been thinking about another perk of living in New York. Airlines like British Airways and others often run fabulous specials to Europe from NYC/JFK. Hm, vacation!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Well, now.

I was awake a little after 9 this morning, but I stayed in and read until noon or so. I also continued to work on my homework. Just have to finish question 4 and then polish everything.

I retrieved some boxes from the garage, but that's all the progress I've made so far today toward packing/sorting/whatever. Meh. I did call about my car insurance. One more tick on one of my lists. I'm feeling a little lethargic, or just lazy and bored. Blah! See, I can't really do a thorough pack because most of it is everyday stuff--clothes, bedding, the computer. I've got four whole days left, I don't know what I'll need before next Tuesday. I suppose that in theory I've got plenty of time, what with only two shifts left and a couple other things in my schedule.

I'm so bored I don't even want to watch tv! Now that's dangerous.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Heaven is...not having to get up at the crack of dawn.

Oh, the wondrous joy of a lazy lie-in! I basked in sleep until nearly 11. Last night I allowed myself the luxury of staying up late, til 12.30. And guess what, I don't have to get up early ever again! Or, at least for the rest of the week.

I was a good girl and worked on my homework first thing. A tiny bit, but still. It counts. I got dressed and went into town. I went shopping! I haven't done that for a really long time, because I've been good about watching my money. I stocked up on toiletry staples and some junk food, too. Bad me.

Then I came home and tidied my room and did some laundry. Good me. I began rooting around the boxes I have in here from my most recent move, to weed out things I want to take to New York. Then I tried to sort stuff. And throw it into my old bag from Europe 93, before the advent of rolley-bags. (Honestly, is there an official name to those things? I always call them rolley-bags.) I need boxes so that I can ship stuff. Help!

Holy crap, I am leaving in...five days. Will I be ready? Happily, I got some information on the fellowship kickoff event. Exciting! Oh god, I hope I am doing the right thing. And I really hope I don't suck.


I have two beautiful, glorious days in which I do not work!! Hurrah!

I am really excited about not returning to the temp job. The people were friendly, but the stupid filing that just went on and on, ugh. And one of the people who directed me kept saying, oh I thought you might not come back today! And I kept thinking, dude, don't give me any ideas! Anyhow, now I get to sleep in, ooh for the rest of my week.

I leave in less than a week! This time next week I will be sound asleep in Brooklyn. How weird.

So work tonight was a disaster. Literally. For the first solid half-hour, everything went wrong. I spilled things, knocked things over, made drinks wrong, etc etc. It was awful. I should have cried. My coworkers were very patient and supportive, though, which was lovely. They are a good bunch.

Oh, I can't wait. To sleep in! To check things off my numerous lists! To go shopping! Eee!!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ho Hum.

Today, in the car about to get on the freeway, I was listening to the radio. "Come On Eileen" was playing. I glanced in the rearview mirror and there was a woman and her son singing along with the same song. It was pretty neat.

Welcome to Day 13. Happily, this will only continue to 16 days in a row of work; I have decided to take Thursday and Friday off. I really need to sleep and relax, so that I can begin preparing in earnest for this next adventure. I had a dream about taking one of the certification tests, not having enough time to finish it. Eek! I better look over some information about those, and I have to complete the homework questions.

This past week, though busy, turned out to be some fun too. On Wednesday, some friends invited me to join a pickup game of kickball in Fremont. It was a blast. I did pretty decently, too. Sort of. Late on Friday night, I went to see the new Harry Potter movie. It was pretty good. Not to sound cliche, but the books are just so good that no movie would really be able to stand up to them, in my biased opinion. I heard from a guy at the grocery store that the sixth book may be coming out this fall. Woo!! Then, last night, we had a get together with the old college friends. We went to Shari's for a bite and then went back to the house. Instead of being boring and watching movies, we made our own fun. After coming up with a list of improv games and some prompts/suggestions, we played. We did Freeze, and Party Quirks, and Whose Line, and a couple others. It was so much fun! We laughed a lot. Oh man, it was awesome. I hope we can do it again some time.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


When I first worked at the mortgage company, I had no trash can. So all of the junk I accumulated at my desk, I had to keep in a pile. Then I found a plastic cup to put it in. I used a two-hole punch with all the papers, so you can imagine that as the time wore on there was a good lot of little paper holes from the bottom of the hole punch. I stored them in a separate plastic cup, because I thought that it would be a nice physical representation of all the work I did. And, because I'm weird. That silly practice stayed with me even after I obtained a trash can, and so I had cups full of paper holes (un-holes?) in my desk drawers, that then spilled over and other people saw and wondered what was wrong with me. So eventually I found a jar, and put them in there. Much later, at some point someone wanted to have some confetti, so my little jar of holes came in handy. But several people made fun of me regardless.

Last week I found myself playing a game with staples. With the mail/invoices that come in, I have to remove the staples and then rearrange the papers and restaple. So after awhile I tried to 'catch' all of the staples that I took out on the side of the staple puller. The side actually filled up with staples, and then I had to end the game before I could see if the other side would fill up with staples.

If I'm sitting on the floor cross-legged, I always end up rocking either back and forth or side to side, without even knowing it. And it's impossible to stop.

I love Little Debbie Nutty Bars (who doesn't?), but I can only eat them layer by layer. It's just a waste to do otherwise.

There is no shame in our humanness!

Finally some real sunshine

I am at day nine of 15 to 20 days in a row working at one or the other, or both, of my short-term jobs. I am tired. Every morning I hate my alarm. Then, for a good four hours I feel like a drugged zombie. But in the afternoon I start feeling normal, then I go to my other job, and by nighttime I am wide awake and wish I didn't have to go straight to bed. Oh well. Remember, like The Donald says, it's not personal, it's business. Not sure how that applies...something about money is my guess.

Anyway, this morning was the first time that I didn't feel half-dead on my commute northward. The sun is actually shining for the first time in at least a week. I've been on a couple walks up here in Totem Lake, and even found the eponymous lake. Pathetically enough, I never knew there was a Totem Lake. Did you know that it used to be called Lake Wittenburg or some such, after a bigwig settler of the area? In the 1970s, they built the Totem Lake mall next to the lake, and then changed the name of the lake, to match the mall. Is that back-asswards or what? I love little backstories like that.

I leave in thirteen days. Two weeks from yesterday. I am not packed or ready in any sense of the term. Yesterday I visited a shipping store to inquire about shipping my computer and all its paraphrenalia. I have made a list of things I want to pack and things to ship, but who knows when I'll actually start sorting those things. I don't even know yet which bags I will be packing those things in. I am half done with the homework assignment about the classroom observation. I need to call about my car insurance. I need to find a ride to the airport.