November 11, 2006

On Turning 25


Happy Birthday to me!
Last year, I was so unhappy. My foot problems were still mounting. My frustation level was through the roof, and I was stuck at home. There was no hope in sight for me.
This year, I am many things.
I'm exhuasted. I'm excited. I'm living in Montana...eons away from home. I'm frustrated, but not with my feet, for once. I'm someone's girlfriend. I'm stressed out. I'm over-worked and under-paid. I'm cold...it's snowing on my birthday (crazy!). And I'm pretty sure I'm falling in love.
(I know, I know! I've waited too long in between post. Sorry! So much going on!)
BUT! First things first.
A birthday blog:
Today, I turned 25. A quarter of a century. I am so old.
Ok, so not really.
But I'm older than I have ever been before, so that kind of makes it a big deal for me.
It's one of those birthdays where I really don't feel any older on the actual day of, but I think that it will catch up to me eventually.
That will be the day that I freak out.
Honestly, it's not really a significant day in the sense of it affecting my general outlook on life. Life has been so crazy/stressful/surprising/frustrating/amazing lately that my brain has been forced to process things like an actual adult and instead of just someone pretending to be one, so it was just inevitable that this birthday would get here.
I have not been purposefully neglecting this little corner of my brain. Like I said, life has just gotten in the way recently. Work is insane...and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word.
I-N-S-A-N-E. I seem to be working all the time now, and I've never had a job that was so frustrating and exhausting. My schedule has never been ideal, but with over half the employees in my department quitting in the last 2 months, I am now working the shifts of 3 people. If it weren't for my deep sense of obligation to the girls I work with, I would walk away from it all. But I can't.
At least for now, I can't. That may change depending on how tired I get in the coming months. Even with all the camp jobs I've worked, I've never faced such a bad case of burnout. If these people can tear through me, someone who is young and comes to them with experience working long shifts, in 7 months, there is something fundamentally wrong with the position...not the employees. It's not just a fluke that 4 women quit in the last month.
Work is not the only thing keeping my away from the keyboard. Obviously.
My parents came up for a visit at the beginning of October, which was fun...but not really the reason why I've not written. The boyfriend(!!) is probably the biggest culprit, besides the work insanity, for why I haven't written in a while. For one, all of my time went into writing emails instead of blogs. Secondly, he found my blog and I got all self-conscious about writing. Thirdly, my brain turned to mush for a few weeks there in September...and well, probably October, too. I was only capable of laughing....ok, so if I'm honest, it was more like giggling. I completely lacked the ability to articulate what was happening to me. (It was funny and embarassing, and not a time period I needed documented further than it already was.)
Now, however, I've finally stopped giggling, and I'm really settling into the idea of being someone's girlfriend. Of being his girlfriend.
Quite honestly, I love it. It's been the biggest shock of the year. Of my life to date, actually. But I absolutely love it. It's been worth all the extra crazy it's bringing into my life these days.
So...if that's the trade-off for not having the time or brain power to write, then it's not such a bad deal. However, I have missed it and wish I'd done a better job updating in the last few months. I can't promise that it will get better. I'm still doing close to 60 hours of overtime each month, and it's on the schedule that way until January at least.
I had no one to celebrate this birthday with today. But unlike the last two years, I've been ok with that. I had a ton of phone calls today. I had presents to open. And I got hugs from at least 15 teenagers.
It's been a good day.
Here's to it being a good year.

November 8, 2006

Wedding Fun


Two of the best friends a girl could ask for. (Jennifer and Rob got married!!)

August 16, 2006

Twentysomething

Looks like its getting ready to rain here at the meadow. I love watching storms come up across the mountains, so I brought my laptop outside so that I can see it happen while I write this. It’s been cloudy and cool all day, and if I were to close my eyes, I could almost convince myself that it’s not even summer anymore.

It doesn’t feel like summer, that’s for sure, and it sure doesn’t smell like summer ought to. None of the smells of freshly cut yards of grass, because even when they do cut the grass, it’s all brown and dry anyway. Not lush and green and inviting. And it’s never sounded like summer…no crickets singing you to sleep or frogs croaking by the water. No lightening bugs sending Morse code out into the woods. Right now, for instance, even though it’s getting ready to rain, it is going to be a cold rain, not a good summer rain that leaves everything looking clean and smelling like fresh laundry.

I’m still missing the South like crazy, apparently. It’s not unusual for me to miss it when I’m living other places, but ever since I moved to Montana, the longing for it has been touched with more melancholy than ever before. I struggled with it a lot after I’d been here for about a month, but it went away after a couple of weeks.

Now, however, it seems it is back.

I guess it’s a security thing. A place where I’ve felt safe, a place I understand, a place I’m comfortable with, a place I’ve belonged to. It makes sense that I longed for that after that first month. I was lonely. I was past the point of being fascinated by all the new things of living in Montana and I was really beginning the business of settling down here, and none of it was coming as easily as I wanted it to.
It did get better though and I did start finding things and people to plug in to, and I became more content with being here.
Now, however, that longing has come back. I never know what to do about this contradiction within me. When I am at home, I constantly want to be somewhere else…but when I’m somewhere else, I pine for home.

I think part of it has to do with the stage of life I am in. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately; what it means to be in your mid-twenties. I obviously don’t have much to compare it to, but it seems to me that this is a weird limbo age.
On paper I am a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the adult world. I have the crappy, tiny first apartment, the phone bills and car payments, an unbalanced check book, concerns about gas prices and global warming and the current occupants of the White House.
But on the inside, I am afraid that one day someone is going to figure out that I’m just pretending to be an adult. That in reality, I have no clue what I’m doing, nor do I feel completely capable of actually being adult.

I think there are a lot of people who feel this way, that it’s not just limited to those of us who are just a few steps past the line of demarcation that separates adolescence from adulthood. I don’t know what events have to occur in your life before you actually feel up to the challenge of being an adult. The older I get, the less I think it has to do with the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated and a lot more to do with what happens during the time in between those cakes and streamers.
Regardless of how I feel about it, or whether I am fully ready to accept it, I am an adult. Assuming I don’t die young, I will probably spend close to 70% of my life as an adult, so I guess I better get used to it.

My point about being in your mid-twenties though is this: You are an adult, and unless you are one of those people that met your spouse in high school or college (and don’t get me started on that tangent), you are probably out on your own. You can’t live at home, unless you want to try the accepted social norms. You are, at least in my case, continuing to establish your identity away from your family. You are still part of your family, of course, but how you interact with them is changing, you know? It all comes back to that same idea of needing to belong somewhere. Fitting in. I don’t know why that is such an intense feeling for me right now, but it’s popping up all over the place.

I was driving through this beautiful neighborhood the other day. It had friendly houses that looked lived in, and yards full of old trees that reached out across the yards to touch the ones on the other side of the street. Kids were running around everywhere, bikes were strewn across lawns, and sprinklers were pumping away, trying their best to keep the grass green and damp despite the dryness of a Montana summer. As I pulled to a stop at the intersection, I remember thinking, “How much longer until I get this?”

Don’t misunderstand me here. I am so not ready to have a mortgage or the water bills that go with those sprinklers or little people who share half my DNA running around. I’m really not ready for that. In fact, given my penchant for running away from commitments, it may be a long while before I am ready for that.

But it's not stopping me from wanting that sense of belonging some place. How do you create that on your own?

August 15, 2006

Going To The Chapel...

I got married last night...or maybe it was early this morning.
The details are still a little fuzzy at this point.
But regardless of details, I am absolutely certain that I got married.

It was all a dream of course, and not the first time I dreamed of getting married, but it was, by far, the strangest getting-married-dream I've ever had. Usually in those kind of dreams, everything is super fuzzy and I rarely remember/recognize what people were wearing or where I am or who it is I am actually marrying. That's the part I am always interested in; the groom, I mean. What usually happens is that I remember all the details right up until the actual walking down the aisle part, so I never see his face. Or it's like his face is all blurred out and it's impossible to know who he is.
But last night's dream was chock full of details and people and places I recognize and a groom I knew. The setting was a church in my home town. Not the one I usually go to, but one that I've at least been in. And my sister was there and other members of my family, although I don't remember seeing my parents. My dress was gorgeous, although I don't know where it came from. I mean, I've never seen it on someone else. And the funniest part is that I remember going into the bathroom during the reception and admiring it like I was consciously recognizing that I loved this dress and I wanted to see all the details my imagination had come up with.
And get this! When I turned around to look at the back of it, it had a back low enough to show the purple rose tattoo I had on my back. A purple rose tattoo. On my back. What the hell? And I'm not talking about some delicate little rose...it was at least the size of my hand. On my back. And it was purple! Weird...
And it just got weirder. The groom? Well, he is a guy that I know...but only by sight. I don't think I've ever spoken to him. He is a guy that married into a family that goes to my church at home, but in my dream, he was the son to this family...not the son-in-law. So, in my dream, his real-life wife was his sister. Creepy, huh? And to top it off, he's probably close to 10 yrs older than me, and I don't even find him all that attractive. But when my imagination needed a groom, he's the one it came up with. There was this whole thing in the ceremony about becoming part of this family and getting hugged by the dad and being told I was now his daughter. In my dream, I was fine with it, but now, it's just strange because I really do know this family and the father, and I can't imagine being part of their family. They are super rich and their kids ran in a completely different crowd than I did in high school. Not to mention that they only have daughters and no son to marry!
There are tons of other details that aren't worth repeating, but vivid nonetheless. I woke up this morning and just started laughing.
Yesterday, I was looking into buying my plane ticket to Kentucky in November for my college roommate's wedding and I guess that was the fodder for this particular dream. But I have no idea where most of the details came from or why I picked this certain family to marry in to. Who knows?!

August 3, 2006

A Post About Nothing...

I have never been so happy to see the calendar turn to August. It was with a sigh of relief that I took my July schedule off my refrigerator and replaced it with my August one. Along with the first “summer-like” weather of my time in Montana, July also brought massive amounts of drama and chaos to my little work community. I don’t know if the heat got to the girls or if there was some strange alignment of planets that caused everything to be off kilter, but for whatever reason, the season of drama was upon us for almost the entire month of July.
Thankfully, along with the subtle departure of our hot weather, the drama that was so rampant a couple of weeks ago is also settling down and we are all one big happy family again.
I guess it stands to reason that when you have this many teenage girls in one place, there are bound to be flare ups, but there were days in the past month when I questioned the sanity of forcing 36 girls to live together.

I’m sitting on my porch right now, looking out over the meadow, enjoying the last hours of my time off. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I am willing to bet that it is barely in the 80s today. We really did have some hot days in July, but some time last week, the heat wave broke, and the temperatures starting dropping at night. Over the weekend, we were even down into the 30s at night. The extreme fluctuations in temperatures from day to night are so foreign to me. It’s very weird. But more importantly, I think it means that summer is almost over. It’s the first week in August and I think this is it. I’m not quite ready to let go of warm weather, but even as I sit here on the porch, there is a persistent breeze that is mocking my attempt to wear shorts and a tank top.
I’ve lived in Montana for 4 months now. One third of the commitment that I made is now behind me. That was fast, huh? I still have no idea whether I will stay beyond the initial time I agreed to, but I am still content (mostly) with my job. My frustrations with my schedule are just that—frustrations. Nothing worth leaving over. Plus, I am fairly certain that those frustrations can be resolved in the near future.

So. That's it. My ramblings I posted only because I feel guilty that I haven't posted more often this summer.
The end.

July 2, 2006

Avalanche Lake

I went for a hike yesterday at Glacier National Park.

I started off here



I almost turned around when I saw this


But I kept going and got really excited when I saw this


I was hiking by myself, so this is the best self-portrait I could do


After about 45 minutes, the trail ended here (pretty amazing, huh?)

It was a good day

June 25, 2006

An Open Letter

To the guy driving the tan sedan with Missouri tags down Hwy 93 last night:
Thanks. You made my night with your car flirting. You cracked me up trying to pass me and then getting stuck having to pull back when that semi almost flattened you. It took guts to try again. And I might have followed you past my turn if I'd had my passport, but I hadn't planned on flirting my way into Canada last night and sadly, my passport was at home.
Anyway, thanks for the smile and the wave. It was a hilarious moment.

June 13, 2006

June 10, 2006

Thoughts From The Sickbed

It's Saturday morning and I am having my first real day off in over a week.
And I woke up this morning sounding like a frog. A coughing, congested frog.
Figures.

I think it's the deadly combination of allergies and the cold that has been rampant in our little community for the past week. I would normally be much more upset that my cold coincided with my free time, but it's like 50 degrees and raining outside. I don't particularly want to be anywhere but curled up in my bed right now anyway, so I might as well be sick. Luckily, I just got my new Netflix's for the week and had the foresight to stop at the library yesterday. If only I had managed to make it to the grocery store, I could really hunker down and enjoy being miserable all weekend. However, I will have to drag myself out from under this down comforter in the near future unless I want to attempt to survive off 2 Mt. Dew's and half a head of broccoli. If only I had some cough drops, I might have tried it.

While I've been laying here waiting for the energy to come so that I might shower and dress and go into town, I've been re-reading a lot of things I've written in the past year or so. It's funny how my writing habits have changed. Back when I first started writing in here, the first semester of college, I wrote all the time about any AND everything under the sun. I'd update at least 5 times a week, if not more. But after I went on my little Jon-induced hiatus from blogging, when I came back, I didn't write nearly as often. I did better once I landed in Guatemala and was trying to keep up with everyone. Then things slowed down again. And now, I'm down to once a month. There are many plot holes now...things I wrote about once and never finished the story.

This past spring is a prime instance of what I am talking about. I never connected all the dots in here. It doesn't really matter because I don't really have anyone who reads this regularly anymore, but for continuity's sake, I wish I had done a better job finishing all my thoughts.
So here's my attempt to fill in holes:

1) The Foot. My foot is no better, but no worse than the last time I wrote about it. The shoe I wrote about was my turning point, though. I now own three pairs of shoes that have a rocker bottom glued to the sole of them. It took me a while to get used to walking with it on my shoes, but it was the first thing they tried that worked, so I took it and ran with it. Literally. As soon as it became evident that they made any kind of difference, I said "thank you very much" and then cancelled my remaining doctor's appointments and put the surgery off indefinitely.
It's not a cure and it doesn't take away all the pain. But it helps. At this point, that's all I'm asking for.

2) The job interview in NC. I went, the place was weird, I didn't like it. I didn't get the job, nor did I end up wanting it. End of story. (But it was a fun road trip!)

3)Working at Dad's Office. I spent less than 2 months working at the office, helping install and update their new computer system. The job was boring, mindless, and mildly frustrating. But I got to wear scrubs to work every day, and that's even better than getting to wear jeans! So, in recap: Boo for data entry. Yay for scrubs.

4) Moving to Montana. I think I already kind of filled in the gaps on this storyline here, but if you are still confused...umm. I moved to Montana to take a job working at a therapeutic boarding school for teenage girls. Teenage girls that can't help but be all about the drama. And who make fun of me for not having had a boyfriend. But I still like them anyway.

So, there you go.

I'm going to go lay back down on my bed and contemplate going into town for sustenance. And cough drops. And maybe some Afrin. And definitely another box of kleenex.

May 26, 2006

Singleness: The Disease

I work with teenage girls. Have I mentioned that yet? The place I work at is an all girl’s facility. The amount of estrogen I come into contact with on a daily basis is probably frowned upon by the FDA. But if you can overlook the massive amounts of drama that occur quite regularly, it really is a lot of fun to hang out with a bunch of teenage girls every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go back to being a teenage girl again for all the money in the world. I had a mostly normal teenage experience, especially in comparison to the girls I work with, but even with that in mind, I wouldn’t do it again.

But if I really had to do it again, I think I would have liked to give this all-girl’s experience a shot. It’s pretty amazing, actually, to watch them. Without having to deal with boys being around all the time, they take so many more challenges…with how they look, with what they do and say, even with how they approach school. It’s a lot like when I worked at that all-girl’s camp in Georgia, and even with Adventure Exodus this summer. Girls are just different when it’s just girls.

Boys aren’t totally absent from life around here, even though they aren’t physically here. There are always the boys they left behind and the relationships they still hope exist even though they aren’t in contact anymore. And we can’t forget about the boys at youth group. Wednesday mornings are always my favorite because of listening to all the stories the upper level girls pass around the breakfast tables about what the guys said/did the night before.

I think it’s because they lack any real chance of teenage romance here that I just had the funniest conversation of my life recently. My theory is that since they can’t personally be involved in any kind of boy-girl relationship, they attempt to live vicariously through whatever relationships they can find. From the Christian romance novels in the library to the weekly PG movies, they will debate and discuss fictional relationships like they were happening at the next lunch table over. I was also warned by my boss that they were going to push personal boundaries like fiends by asking about my current love life (at which point, I just laughed). Until last week, this hadn’t happened. I’d been asked if I had a boyfriend within my first week of work, but that had been it.

However, last week, I worked a day shift for the first time in almost a month and I was attacked with questions. I was expecting the questions…it wasn’t a big deal. The hilarious part was their reaction to my answers. When asked if I had a boyfriend…I said no. If asked if I “had a crush” on anyone…I said no. When asked when I last dated…I laughed. When asked when I last had a boyfriend…I told them never.

They kind of freaked out on me then. It was like they couldn't wrap their brains around it. It was a combination of pity and confusion from some of the girls, fascination from others, and abject horror from the rest. They couldn’t understand how I had made it to the ripe “old” age of 24 without ever having a boyfriend. I seriously think some of them felt sorry for me.

The conversation went around in circles as they tried to figure out why I had never had a boyfriend. Was it because of the high school I went to? Was I a lesbian? Was it a religious thing? Did my parents/college not allow it? Did I not want a boyfriend? And on and on they went.

Finally, I just said…that’s just the way it was/ is. I never made a decision to not have a boyfriend, I just have never been in a relationship that made it that far. The questions stopped then, but I still think some of the girls think I am some kind of freak. And I seriously think some of them are afraid that I’m contagious. :)

At any other point in my life, a conversation like this might have damaged my self-esteem…but I was able to just laugh about it. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I think it’s a good thing.


P.S. Look! I cut all my hair off!


May 16, 2006

The Hidden Predators of Montana


Today I was attacked by vicious, man-eating geese.

No, really. I'm totally serious. Vicious Geese.

I'd gone to the park to read this morning because it was warm and I wanted to be outside and away from my apartment. I parked my car in the shade, grabbed my book, and decided to take off down the trail in search of a nice bench to land on. A few feet down the trail, I noticed that there were a few geese sunning themselves by the creek. A few more feet, and I noticed even more geese swimming around by the edges. I continued to wander on, thinking about what a lovely picture they all made. I spied a bench in the distance and took off in a determined stride.

And then, out of no where, they attacked.

It happened so suddenly that it took me a few seconds to realize that these were no ordinary picturesque geese. They were vicious attack geese that were out to get me. The pack was led by a particularly large goose with a bright orange beak and a gleaming white coat.
He looked like this:

Except his eyes were glowing red. And he was bigger.

Much bigger.

And scarier.

Much scarier.

Anyway, he came charging up the incline, making the biggest ruckus I've ever heard, flapping his wings and barreling straight at me. As soon as his compatriots heard his battle cry, they fell into formation behind him, all squawking away and holding their wings out like they were herding me.

At first, I just laughed. But then the leader's eyes flashed red and he and his friends sped up their attack. I knew they were serious. As they came ever marching forward, I had a split moment where I had to decide if I was going to allow them to run me off the path or if I was going to charge back at them. I paused in the middle of the path, determined that they weren't going to do any real harm to me, and decided to plunge onward in my quest of a reading bench.

But they didn't back down. The squawking got louder, the flapping wings more intent, and the leader's eyes got even redder.

I continued to laugh out loud, showing them that they didn't scare me. I wasn't afraid of a bunch of geese. Even with their loud squawking and mammoth beaks and beady red eyes. I. was. not. afraid.

But they were making a real scene, and you all know how I hate to be the center of attention. So for the good of the many, I suddenly remembered that there was a perfect bench on the other side of the street that I had spotted earlier and I better hurry on over there before someone took it.

And with that, I turned and causally sauntered away. To the other people in the park, it may have looked like I ran , but they were mistaken. I was only interested in securing my bench before someone else noticed it's perfect location.

April 21, 2006

The Term "Day Owl" Is Just Lacking Something, Right??

I have never denied being a night owl. There wasn’t ever a reason to. It started when I was old enough to figure out how to stuff towels under the door so that my mom couldn’t tell that I still had a light on to read by. And it was firmly cemented into my body clock in college, when procrastination and deadlines helped me to produce some of my finest work after midnight.

I thought it was going to play into this new overnight working schedule so nicely…imagine someone actually paying me to stay up and work after 11 PM?! It’s too perfect.

But what I am slowly realizing is that while I am an undeniable night owl, what I didn’t take into consideration is that when you swap your days and nights around, being a so-called “night owl” doesn’t change. I’m still staying up too late…it’s just too late in the afternoon now instead of the wee hours of the morning.

I’m going to have to invest in some serious blackout curtains for my apartment soon. It may have been cloudy all last week here in the Flathead Valley, but I swear it is impossible to go to bed when the sun is saying one thing and my body is saying another. I wake up so confused and disoriented.

However, other than my struggle to change my sleeping patterns, things are going well. I’ve been off training for 2 nights now, and thus far, nothing has blown up in my face. I’m still trying to get a feel for things, in the sense that I don’t totally understand the way things operate around here. I’m getting the basics covered, but I’m just doing my thing and watching people, trying to figure out people and the working environment I have stepped into.

I come on shift at 11 each night, and it takes me about an hour to get the laundry started and finish my paperwork. I then have about 5 hours before I need to do anything else. I sit behind this desk and listen to the girls toss and turn, talk in their sleep, and breathe loudly. Some of these girls put my college roommate to shame with their sleep talking. I mean, full on sentences, and paragraphs, even, from some of them. And who knew that people breathed so loudly when they slept?
Anyway, needless to say, I get a lot of reading accomplished between midnight and 5 AM. Not much different from my “night-owl” escapades of old; except now I have to put the book down, get 18 girls up and motivated to start a new day, and resist the urge to fall asleep for another 7 hours or so. And the days when I have staff meetings after I get off shift…oh man, is it hard to not yawn all the way through them! I mean, not that would change a lot even if I had just woken from a restful 8 hours of sleep…but it certainly increases the level of difficulty.

April 13, 2006

Mountain Standard

It’s almost 4 AM, Mountain Standard Time, and I am at work.

I obviously have been slacking in the updating department. So many things have happened and changed in the last month that I don’t quite know where to start.
I guess I ought to start with the obvious: I got a job. And I have moved to a new time zone.
I moved because I got a job in a new time zone.
Really, the time zone has nothing to do with anything, but it’s my first time to ever live in this time zone and I am a little fascinated with it.
Wait.
Scratch that.
I’ve lived in it twice before, my Colorado summer and while I was in Guatemala.
Yeah, so did I mention it is almost 4 AM?

Anyway, maybe I should fill in beyond the basics here. A couple of months ago, I was called back from a place I’d applied to in December. Right before Christmas, I was sent a letter thanking me for my application, but informing me the position I had applied for had been filled. But in February, they called to let me know another position had opened and they wanted to know if I was still interested in interviewing. I said yes, but nothing happened for a few weeks. Eventually, they called back and I had a phone interview with them. It went well and I felt good about it, but still didn’t get my hopes up. I had already applied to the US-2 program and was working part time at this point and was trying to change my mindset regarding when I was going to get out of Tullahoma.
However, much to my surprise, the first week in March, they called me back and offered me the job. Sight unseen. I refused to take the job without going to check out the place. Due to my trip to Jamaica with Carrie and the Boston trip with my dad and brother, I was going to be gone until the 21st of March. They offered to fly me out, so I got a ticket and started 2 weeks of whirlwind traveling. From Tennessee to Jamaica and back, Tennessee to Boston and back, and then driving to Atlanta to catch a flight to Montana and back. Actually, it was 4 flights to Montana. 4 looong flights there and 4 looong flights back.

But in the end, it was worth every single one of them. And did I mention the job was in Montana? No? Well, the job was in Montana.

The decision to take the job wasn’t easy. It meant giving up the opportunity to work with the GBGM and the US-2 program. And quite honestly, much to my surprise, it was hard to get the nerve up to move this far away from everyone. Not so hard that it stopped me from coming, but hard enough to make me wonder what was going on with me. But regardless, I accepted the job on March 24th and was asked to report to work on April 7th.

So, as you can surmise, that was another hectic two weeks. It’s like my entire life, including my thought processing, had been on slow-motion play for the last 6 months and all of a sudden, things were warped into fast forward and everything sounded like chipmunks. March is just a blur in my memory. One moment I was sitting on a beach in Jamaica lazily letting sand drip through my hands, and then I blinked, and I was standing in the rain, getting soaked while I bought a new car.
And now, here it is, the second week in April, and my entire life has changed. God has a wicked sense of humor.
Last Tuesday, I finished packing my new car (a Honda CR-V, cause I needed something with 4WD) and began the longest road trip of my life. After stopping in Kentucky, and twice in Wisconsin, I set out across the plains for Montana. It took me 3 and a half days, more tanks of gas than I want to remember, and 3 books on tape to make it. I handled it pretty well…until the last day, when I had to drive from Rapid City, South Dakota all the way to northwest Montana. Over 14 hrs in the car, the first few in snow and ice, and the last few up winding mountain roads in the dark. Not a day I am in any hurry to repeat.

I now live about an hour and a half from the Canadian border and my cell phone doesn’t work unless I drive 45 minutes down into town. The word isolated has taken on new meaning for me. At the elevation I live at, there is still snow on the ground, although less and less each day because the thaw is in full force right now. It has snowed twice since I arrived, but melted both times by the afternoon. When I packed my car last week, I had on a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. Right now, I have on at least 3 layers, thick socks and a hat. And I’m inside.

I’m not going to go into the particulars about where I am working because of security reasons (…mine and theirs), but what I am doing isn’t much different from what I’ve done in the past. I’m still working with teenagers, just in a more full-time arena than ever before. Right now, I am on the overnight shift. I come into work at 11 PM one night and get off at 9 AM the next day. I have worked 4 shifts now, and my brain is so mixed up that I literally wouldn’t know what day it is if I hadn’t just checked my computer’s calendar. I am sleeping lousy, but I figure my body will adjust to sleeping during the day soon. It better.
I have agreed to at least a one year contract, meaning I promise to stay one year but can stay longer if I want. That means that I will be spending at least this coming winter in Montana. I am a little nervous about that, to be quite honest. I think I will be buying groceries at Costco, because I am planning on hibernating in my apartment for the entire time. I live in an apartment on the grounds of the place I work, and driving up and down the mountain in good weather is kind of an adventure. I don’t even want to imagine what it’s going to be like when it’s covered in snow. But…we’ll cross that bridge later. Apparently, I’m getting here just in time for the good stuff. The views are already breathtaking, so I can’t imagine what it will be like when everything is green and alive.

Anyway. So many other things to catch up on, but that’s all I have time for for now. I will save this and hopefully get the chance to upload it my next trip down the “hill” (as they so misleadingly call it). That’s the news from Lake Woebegone. Where all the women are strong, the men are good looking (I hope), and the children are sound asleep in their beds.

February 13, 2006

The Weekend Update

It's been snowing here in Tennessee this weekend. It promptly melts each afternoon and it's not been enough to go sledding on, but it's still snow. It's felt like winter.

That Shakespeare line, "the winter of our discontent," has echoed through my head all weekend. It is probably stemming from my father's pouting over the fact that we only got an inch of snow, instead of a foot. He has definitely been discontent, and goes off into rants about global warming and melting ice caps, and has taken to muttering unkind things under his breath, mostly involving Bush and the GOP. I certainly am no Bush fan myself, but I doubt that cursing him is going to bring any more snow to my doorstep in the next month. But, whatever floats your boat, Dad. We do live in Southern Middle Tennessee, and not Southern Middle Alaska. Take what we get and stop pouting, or move.

Actually, scrath that. He actually talked about moving to Kentucky twice on Saturday before my mom reminded him that it was impossible to move while my grandmother was still alive, and also, if he wished to remain married.

He gets impulsive, like that, my dad. Moving to a different state just so he can live where he has a better chance of getting snow 4 months out of the year.

So. It's been snowing, and Valentine's Day is coming up, and all those stupid romantic movies on Tv, and blah, blah, blah. Enough already. I get to spend my Valentine's Day learning the new computer system at the office, so that I can become a (temporary, only-in-it-for-the-cash) data entry slave. I'm not complaining, really. It's cash, it's a job I didn't have to interview for, and it'll give me an excuse to leave the house.

I'm just a little scared that it's going to veer from temporary to the semi-permanent. I don't want to be here anymore, and I've fought putting down roots and making commitments every single day of the last 5 months. So, it was kind of a big step to sign up for this gig, no matter how "temporary" it may be.
I have a new shoe (which I will take a picture of for show and tell later). I think it's going to help. I'm not 100% positive, but I'm kinda excited about the results I've gotten from it for the last week. I've had some good days with it, and those have been few and far between in the last year. So, here's to crossing my fingers that this is just the beginning of whole weeks of good days.

January 31, 2006

I'm A Newspaper Woman, Myself

Every week this summer (barring the one where I was in Minnesota on the canoe trip), part of my job description was to write the staff newsletter that was published on Wednesdays. The newsletter didn't really have much of a pre-established format or anything, so it took me a couple of weeks to figure out what I wanted it to look like.
I just realized that Dawn had put them on-line for the kids to see, so I thought I would share them with you, as well. The format didn't exactly transfer over very well, so some of the spacing is off and some lines and boxes are missing. But the general gist of it is there. Enjoy!
Summer 2005 Zone Newsletters

Merry Christmas, Eric!

January 29, 2006

I've Jumped on the MySpace Bandwagon

My "About Me":

Other than an eight year stint on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, I have spent the majority of my life in a small town in Tennessee. I count this an incredible blessing, rather than a hindrance. I don't have the accent that I should considering my Mississippi and Tennessee roots, but I've learned to embrace and appreciate the accent that I do have (My Wisconsin friends will never let me forget it, anyway).
I come from a semi-large family that is full of distinct personalities and I love each and every one of them massive amounts. Being one of five children, I was quickly given my identity as the quiet, smart one, and spent 18 years believing that's all there was to me.
I followed almost all of the rules and tried to live up to every expectation I thought my parents/family/church/community wanted from me as I was growing up. I wanted nothing more than to accomplish the goals I thought had to be met in order to be deemed successful.
And then this incredible, life-altering thing happened to me: I accomplished all of those things. At least the tangible ones.
I then proceeded to panic like it was my job.
After living up to everyone else's expectations, I realized I had very few of my own.
It took me four years of college, 4 camping summers, and 9 months in a different country, to realize that there was a lot more to me than I'd always thought. I realized that who I thought I was, really isn't who I am at all. I'm still trying to erase the wrong self-image from my brain.
I've worked/lived in Georgia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, and Guatemala in the last 5 years. I want to live/work in about a zillion other places in the next couple of years, but I'd settle for Italy, Montana, North Carolina, Spain, England, Russia, a tropical island (I'm not picky about which one), and Alaska.
I'd rather be doing almost anything than what I am currently doing. I had my fourth foot surgery last September, and I am in the midst of the debate over surgery number 5. Apparently, surgery number 3 was ill-advised and has permanetly screwed up my foot. I'm working with a doctor at the Mayo Clinic and a doctor in Nashville to see if we can come up with another alternative to buy me some time. Number 5 will eventually have to be done. It could either fix things enough to buy me 20-30 years, or it could necessitate surgery number 6 and the ugliest shoes ever known to a twenty-something. I'm stuck standing still while all of these surgeries and decisions are taking place because of a lovely catch-22 called a Cobra Health Insurance.
I don't like standing still. I want to fly far, far away from all of this.
One day, I want a house that sits on top of a hill, with a big wrap-around porch, a rocking chair, and two dogs to sit on either side. I want to live close to a small city, and be able to go hiking in my back yard. It would be nice to have someone to go on adventures with, but I haven't found that person yet. For now, I am blessed with incredible friends all over this country and a few out of it.
I don't know what I'm going to do in my immediate future. I really wish I did. I mean, I REALLY, really wish I did. I don't like not having any idea. But at the same time, I can get really, can't-sit-still-when-I-think-about-it excited when I think of all the places I could end up by the end of 2006.My resolution for this year was to live in some place for more than 6 months.

January 22, 2006

There is this quote I discovered in high school that I love.
I found it while searching for an aphorism in my dad's huge Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. I don't think it fits into the technical catergory for an aphorism so I couldn't use it for the writing assignment I had, but it's potent simplicity has stayed with me these 5 or 6 years. I remember marking it's place in the dictionary with an empyt Equal packet from my mom's purse.
I bet it's still in there.


It popped into my head tonight as I was closing a book I had just finished.



We are always getting ready to live, but never living. RWE

January 8, 2006

On The Road

I'm sitting in a coffeeshop in High Point, North Carolina this ridiculously warm Sunday morning. Since last Sunday, I have travelled from Kentucky to Wisconsin, from Wisconsin to Kentucky, and yesterday, it was Kentucky to North Carolina. Tomorrow I have a job interview about an hour from here. I'm not yet nervous about this interview but I have a feeling that 24 hours from now, I will have a fabulous case of nerves.

The holidays have come and gone and I haven't yet digested them enough to write about them. There are actually quite a few things I need to sort through, but I've been on the road since New Year's Eve. I've been traveling with a good friend, which makes the long drives go by faster and more fun, but also has not allowed for much alone time. (aka time to process) I'm not used to having company on these long trips. I was a little worried about it, since I am so used to traveling alone, but it has gone very well. We are good traveling partners and have similiar tastes in music, which is a must for the road trip soundtrack.

Anyway, a lot has happened in the job department since I last wrote. I have solid offers from at least 2 companies, but I don't like either of them. The one I am interviewing for tomorrow quickly shot up to my #1 choice the week before Christmas and I've been waiting for this interview for what seems like eons. I just hope it goes well. I am a little worried about what I am going to do if it doesn't work out. It seems so tailor-made for me, that if it turns out that it doesn't work, then I think the disappointment factor will be high.

And we all know how I've been handling news of the disappointing variety as of late.

I made a New Year's Resolution. I've never been a big fan of them, but I'm trying for a realistic one. Here it is: I resolve to live in one place for more than 6 months this year.
I also (unofficially) resolve that if this job in North Carolina doesn't work out, that I will seriously look into living abroad again.

Well, the road calls and we must be moving on. Good Lord, I hope this works out the way it is supposed to. Whatever that means.