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.
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.