Friday, October 28, 2011


I feel like I've missed out on fall. The trees had been colorful less than a week before the snow fell, and now all the leaves are just so much mush. Doesn't the weather know it's supposed to snow after the leaves have fallen?
Now the snow's almost melted too.

We're running baselines today, and the Halloween party is tonight. I'll have to come up with a costume fast.

The good news is that they'll announce our permanent teams and our first projects either today or Monday, pending the results of the drug tests.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just flurries

First snowball fight of the year! For me, at least. There's just barely enough snow to scrape it off the railings outside and make snowballs. I hope it snows even more while we sleep, but Lesly is worried that it'll just turn icy. Either way, snow!

There were more service projects to do today. Emily (a few doors down) painted trees with a mixture of sand and paint to keep beavers (an invasive species) from chewing up the native cottonwood trees. Francine harvest vegetables at a 4H garden and brought some carrots back for everyone. I worked in a food bank filling orders for various non-profits. It was a lot like the warehouse side of UP Pet, so I had a (very) little bit of experience. At least I knew what the pallets were supposed to look like. I got pretty pro at wrapping them up, too. My partner Dave, and I also learned how to use the pallet-jack. It's sort of a mini manual forklift. The actual job was easy, but time-consuming, and of course many of the items were heavy. (50 pounds of onions, anyone?) The freezer was, er, freezing, especially because I left my jacket under a chair at the clinic yesterday (more later). Thank goodness they supplied everyone with gloves, or I'd be frostbitten. The refrigerator was bearable, though. I can't say the work was rewarding, but it was fun.

Yesterday was boot-issue and med-checks for the majority of the day. Getting our botts was uneventful. I'm a size 5 1/2, if anyone feels like buying me shoes in men's sizes. the boots are a lot more comfortable than I had been led to believe, though it's true they need thick socks.
The med checks were held at a near by urgent care facility. My vaccination records checked out, so I avoided the tetanus shot, but the TB test looked weird and made me a bit nauseous. The injected something just below the skin so it formed a little bubble. I could look at or think about it or I'd have to sit down.
I'm pretty sure I passed the drug test, but we'll see, yes?
Goodwill happened to be next to the clinic, so some of us window-shopped there while waiting for the rest of the team. Ok, I call it window-shopping, but I did actually buy some books and something for my salad. (I think it was originally a piece of one of those Ninja Blenders, but it's perfect to shake and store salad in.) It was all set out rummage-sale-style, and there was a lot of interesting stuff in the bins. I found a sake bottle that still had something fermented in it, a partially-used copy of Wreck This Journal (which I bought and intend to pass on at some point), a stringless banjo, a bra, a food processor, and some recordable VHS tapes, along with countless movies on VHS, some of which I would have loved to watch if I had a VCR.

 I have decided (well, I did a while ago) that I will fold one thousand paper cranes before I leave Americorps. Because I only hae so much origami paper, I'm making them out of every thing. My favorite materials so far are my checked-bags ticket, a paper bag, and a foil chocolate wrapper. Most of them are strung up and hanging in my window. As an added bonus no one cares when I fold, so I've been using origami to keep me awake during lectures. It's fun, aesthetically pleasing, AND useful. I'd better come up with a good wish.

Lesly's asleep, or I'd be video-chatting with Art. Instead, I'm off to a marathon jigsaw session!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This is long over-due

The guy seating a seat over from me on Friday had on way too much cologne. It would have smelled good if it weren't so strong. He's rather extroverted, so my theory is that the amount of body spray someone uses is inversely proportional to their self-confidence, and that excess scent is supposed to increase self-image.

While I was stewing in a cloud of sandalwood(?), we learned about the rules and regulations that go along with working in Americorps. Yay... The fashion show at the end was entertaining, though. Team Leaders paraded around in uniform and we had to guess what was wrong.

See? I actually woke up before this.
 Our first project was Saturday (the 15th). We had to get up at the crack o' dawn (earlier, actually) to drive down to Washington Park. We were working with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to build a running path around the perimeter of the park. My team was assigned to food duty, so we cut bagels from 7:30 to 8:00, after which we sat around being bored. After a bit, the supervisors sent us to deliver bagels and peanut butter (we ran out of cream cheese) to the people on parking duty. We were at loose ends for most of the day really. We spent some time on the trail but had to leave at 10 to get down to the North end in time to start setting up for lunch. It took us half an hour to get there, but the food still hadn't arrived and there was nothing for us to do. They told us it would arrive at about 11, so we could just hang around until then. I got bored so I went to help another group with their section of the trail. The food finally arrived at 12, but the taco meat was fully cooked so half the team took it to the kitchen in the nearby VOC office and microwaved it. The meat was in metal tray, of course, so they emptied the trays into plastic bowls, each of which held about half a tray, and microwaved it for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, the half of the team that stayed outside was being heckled. People were impatient waiting for the food to begin with, so they just got more and more irritated. After the meat was done everything went smoothly, but up until then it was rough.

Our team really bonded, so everyone was disappointed when we switched the next day. I'm especially disappointed that Lauren (not in picture) isn't on my team anymore. The guys took a picture us girls for posterity because we couldn't find a place to put the camera. Lauren was off helping on the trail because food service was over-staffed. (I think I look a bit silly in this picture, but that's because I'd forgotten my water bottle at the South end and had to run to catch up.)

Oh, and Francine like Clif Bars. A lot.


It's Laundry Day, so I've got lots of time on my hands. Let's see. The Boys & Girls Club's Halloween party on Friday went well, but there wasn't much for us to do. (In case I forgot to mention, most of my previous team signed up to do an Independent Service Project there.) The girls who had taken charge of contacting everyone and double-checking everything decided that they were bored so we all left early, although we had only been there for three of our assigned four hours. I agree that we weren't really needed all the time, but we left before cleaning up and just when the teens' dance party was starting. (One of our jobs was chaperoning.)
The CTI portion of the day was filled with lectures.

Saturday was (mostly) uneventful. A mandatory meeting got everyone up at 7am. Apparently someone had made some hateful and racist remarks in the dorms on Friday and the director wanted to talk to everyone about it. I went back to sleep immediately afterwards. Unfortunately, Fire Management had a meeting off-campus so they missed lunch. When one group has to pack a lunch (at breakfast), we all do, and the cafeteria is closed until dinner. I was going to just eat cereal, but Lesly and Francine invited me out to lunch instead. We ended up shopping around for Christmas decorations for their first Christmas living(ish) together. (They're both staying here over break.) Their mini tree is already decked-out for Halloween.

I found out yesterday that we have a nice little book room called "The Cozy Corner" inside the dormitories. Thank goodness. (I still don't have my ID so I can't go to the library.)

One of the guys here loves to sing and does so often. His wake-up call today happens to be Trololo, and he's actually quite good.
There's also a guitarist down the hall. I hae yet to decide whether that's cool or annoying.

On the way back from dinner I noticed that the trees had finally started to turn and that huge portions of the lawn were covered with leaves. (When we got here they were still mostly green.) I think I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes kicking them around and just generally enjoying myself. It reminded me of the times Jessica and I would walk home from school and jump on every leaf we saw on the sidewalk to hear them crunch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We ended up in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was cool but not snowy. We left at 9am and didn't get there 'til 11. Unfortunately we only got to hike for an hour because the Team Leaders wanted to started driving back before traffic hit. It was fun all the same, and we saw an excellent waterfall. I forgot my camera or I'd have pictures now. (I borrowed someone else's though, so there'll be some later.)

My team got lost on the way back, so it took us twice as long as it did to get up there. We passed stores selling elk jerky, and I wanted to get some for James, but they wouldn't stop.

There was a pumpkin-carving contest held at 7pm. I came in second place with a creepy smile, although according to the people standing near me, I came in first by popular vote. Lots of people took pictures, and one guy set it as his cell phone wallpaper. The winner was a wolf.

I had to stick one of the teeth back on with a needle,
& I should have spent more time on the eyes.

They're going to roast all the pumpkin seeds from about a dozen or so pumpkins, so I will get to have some this year after all. I was really disappointed  before when I thought I wouldn't be able to do much for Halloween here, but with this, helping the local Boys & Girls Club, and the party next Friday, it's shaping up pretty well.
I have a post of the last couple of days halfway done, so I'll work on that tomorrow.

Quick Post

We're off on a super-secret adventure, and we must wear many layers. And sunglasses. And bring water.
I'm gonna have to guess snow.
I know I've been slacking off on this blog, but the van leaves in 30 minutes, so I'll post again later.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I have the internet!

So, I'm finally all set up and "processed" but it's taken most of the day and I'm burnt out so this post will once again be rather short.
The Denver airport had Tornado shelters, apparently.
They turned out to be just the bathrooms. It's still interesting though. (The office on campus doubles as a fallout shelter, too.)

The  dorm's a bit messier now than it was in this pic.
And we have a view of the graveyard! Hurrah!

The dorm situation has been series of serendipitous coincidences. I'm rooming with a girl named Lesly, who's girlfriend I met on the shuttle ride from the airport. We're all in the same unit (Earth), and the girlfriend, Francine, is right next door. We got along immediately, which was quite a relief.

Francine is on the left, Lesly's on the right.
Orientation and in-processing were tedious, but not so slow that I didn't manage to be late to nearly everything. It was entertaining to watch the ASL interpreters, though. They had the most entertaining expressions --  everything was exaggerated and sometimes contradicted what the speech was about. They made it seem like they were passing secret messages to those who could understand them.

The food's good, but the view's better. Unfortunately, being late included almost missing lunch today.

I'm starting to like the uniforms. They're not the most flattering of outfits, and the khakis chafe, and the belt is confusing, but I love having so many pockets. I can fit in a whole water bottle and still have room for my camera in the same pocket.

The routine here's easy to get into. I already feel like I've been here at least a week. As I think I've mentioned, though, it's exhausting. I should probably get more sleep.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leaving Without Lyrics

Well. Less than 24 hours before my flight I'm still not packed. This is not good start.
[Post will be updated as the frazzlement progresses]