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The Best Day This Season

My aunt works as an administrator at a very small “hippie dippie” elementary school. Kids there work with teachers to decide the curriculum and the day to day events, and the school is in the middle of 12 acres of woods. Last year a garden was installed, but teachers haven’t had much of an idea on what to do to keep it going. My aunt asked me to come over and tour the facility, and potentially spearhead the garden projects as a volunteer. So I went over there Friday to take a look. Their garden consisted of 13 wooden raised beds, wood chip pathways, and 4 rain barrels. There were a few sad kale plants, and some strawberries that were still in their pots sitting on top of the dirt in the beds. The rest of the campus was much more promising, with several play areas and an outdoor class room in the heart of the woods. It’s exactly the kind of school I would’ve loved going to as a kid!

I spent a couple hours on Thursday finding fun pictures of projects on the internet, and typed up a single page of ideas. I met with the head and assistant head of the school (and my aunt) to talk them over. Ideas included a worm bin, a bat house, a bee/bug hotel, a brush pile for snakes, and a few arrangements for planting food crops so they look fun, like a bean teepee. Everyone loved my ideas and saw how they could easily be integrated into several different areas of the curriculum. My aunt even said I was over prepared, which is one of my absolute favorite things to hear. I’ve been asked to come back with more ideas and some more in depth components at the end of next month, where I will present everything to the entire faculty. It’s not a very big school, but its still something like 20+ adults, all of whom are old enough to be my parents. So it’s a little intimidating, but I’m excited because everything I/they want to do is extremely easy stuff that will be perfect projects for the kids to do and learn from.

From there I went straight over to Starbucks to work a 5 hour shift. I slipped right back into my work like I had never left, and customers were happy to see me which was great. I loved being back in my old store. The cherry on my day was one of our regular customers telling me I had the best skin she’s ever seen. She asked what I did to keep it so smooth and I told her I started by shaving the top layer of it off every morning, haha. Then I use some avon moisturizer and I’m all set!

The day went surprisingly quickly, and we managed to close the store in 25 minutes! I even got to close with my best friend in the store, the assistant manager. We had some help from one of the new hires. I forget his name, but he’s a senior in high school and he seems pretty cool. I’m only going to be working there a 2-3 days a week but I think that will be enough to keep me busy and allow me to get my dose of starbucks fun, haha.

An Update From Home

I’ve been home for just over a week now. I have to say, I’m not enjoying it. My house isn’t any messier than it has been in my entire life, but after living for a couple months on my own in a room that was immaculate and completely devoid of clutter, its driving me crazy. My first night back I stayed up until 2 AM rearranging the kitchen and the cupboards. You can’t find anything you need in this place and there’s stuff EVERYWHERE. My mom is genuinely a hoarder. We got in an argument this morning over moving a bookshelf from one side of the room to the other! It was finished by my mom saying she couldn’t afford to do anything and that she’s loosing her job soon (and I’m not exaggerating when I say she’s been saying that since we moved into this house 5 years ago). We were supposed to go for a walk today but she decided to shut herself in her room after telling me my opinions were “bullshit”.

That opened the way for a very nice breakfast with my sister though, and I do actually appreciate that. We talked about how crazy our parents are, and I apologized for being awful to her a couple years ago. It was nice to be able to talk about things again.

I’ve also stopped shaving, something I’ve only done once before. I’ve got three weeks of relative aloneness, so I figured now would be a fun time to see what I look like with facial hair. I normally could shave twice a day if I needed to, so its coming in fast. The longest I made it last time was 10 days, so I’m hoping to break that record this time, haha. I’ve also started going on walks! I feel bad not being able to play with the dogs all the time because of the weather, and even when we are playing its not like they’re getting constant exercise. So for the last three days I’ve made sure to do at least a half hour walk around the neighborhood with them. I almost didn’t go today because I was out of the house for so long running errands with a friend, but I decided i might as well go tonight. It was wonderful getting to see the city after dark! I live up on a hill but there are buildings in the way so I don’t get a very nice view from my house. There’s a nice street a few minutes away though and it has a great view of the valley and the hill on the other side.

I’m glad to be back home with my dogs, but living with my mom is definitely a bigger struggle than it was before. I’ve got a few big projects to do around the house this coming year, so I’m hoping I find a decent job to cover all of the expenses, haha. I did tell you I was going back to my old store right? So I’ll be working a few days a week there just to give me a small amount of income, but I’ll be looking for something bigger and better on my days off. Getting stuck at Starbucks is the last thing I want.

Anyway, my neighbor has invited me over for a movie, so I’m gonna head out! Jus thought I would write to let you all know I’m doing well. I feel like I don’t write those kinds of posts very often so its nice when I get to!

When You’re Swamped And Still Bored

So, I’ve been in my new place for just over a month now. School is dreadfully boring. Theres way too much homework to do, and none of it is educational. We’ve got upwards of 6 chapters a week to read for work related to lectures, and then we have a whole other additional book to read (every two weeks) for group discussion. Class meets for 5 hours a day, with an hour break in the middle, Tuesday, and Thursday. Mondays we don’t have class, Wednesdays we only meet for 2 hours, and then Fridays are 6 hour days. And my teachers move at such a glacial pace that I ended up being about a week ahead in all the readings. I’ve stopped doing homework at home and started doing it during the lectures, because if you’ve done the reading then they aren’t covering any new material (or even improving on the material you’ve read).

Nothing about what they want from you is clear, and we literally have 15 minutes of announcements EVERY time we get together for class. So we’ll get together in the morning, go through whatever announcements, go through class, break for lunch, and then come back and have to go through another 15 minutes of announcements. And they print out eeeeeverything. The other day we got a handout showing a pie chart, but the chart had nothing labeled on it. So it was just a picture of a circle with different colored wedges on it, and the image was up on the projector anyway. Keep in mind my class has 68 people in it.

The other thing that really irks me about this program is that the teachers will talk about something and then immediately say “but we’ll cover that later, so don’t worry about it”. Um, no. If you’re going to bring it up as an important part of this discussion and say “this is something you need to know for later” then you need to teach it to me now. Oh and for the first group reading assignment that we had, I brought 9 pages of notes to class. NINE pages. The rest of the class brought 2 or 3 at most. I was so thorough that whenever anyone referenced the book all I had to do was look at my notes and I could tell them what page in the book they were referencing. That’s just how I read books for school! Any time theres something interesting or could be relevant to a lecture, I write down the page number and the quote. It was a little obnoxious. Someone called me an encyclopedia and told me they definitely needed to be friends with me this quarter, haha.

I’m so bored and ahead with things that I ended up getting a job. I decided to go back to Starbucks because I didn’t want to have to be trained elsewhere while trying to mange school. Its actually kind of funny how this all worked out. I walked into the store nearest my place and asked if they were hiring, and the barista there said they were, but that the manager wasn’t in. She took my name and phone number and encouraged me to apply immediately because they desperately needed someone. I applied that night and went in the next day to see if the manager was in. She wasn’t so I figured I would wait a few days and then go back. Well, on Tuesday I got a call from the manager of a starbucks in the mall, which is only a few minutes farther away, but the workload would be more than twice what I was expecting. I was a little annoyed that he had called me in the middle of my lunch since he had my hours of availability and I had clearly marked the time he was calling me during as busy. He wanted to set up an interview with me during the day, and suggested three different times that would work for him, all of which were during the middle of my class. He ended up suggesting an interview that night at 5, which was something I could manage. He wanted to do it at 4, but I have class until 4:30 on tuesday so that wouldn’t work.

Anyway, I go and do the interview with him and throughout the whole thing he made me feel completely incompetent. I worked at Starbucks for 6 months and was the partner trainer for the last month I worked there. He made me walk him through the process of making drinks and ringing in customers. I was like, ok, I’m a fully trained barista who can close a store in 20 minutes and was literally doing the work of three people at my old store; do not try to belittle me by telling me the way I do things is incorrect just because I’m not using the key vocab you want. He asked me about the volume of my store, and how many transactions we did an hour; which is information I wasn’t privy to at all. He also wanted me to promise to work black friday and christmas before he would really even consider hiring me. I agreed to it, mostly because I didn’t feel like I had an option, and he told me he would reach a decision by monday.

From there I drove straight over to the store closest to my house and as soon as I walked in the barista recognized me and the manager came out to interview me on the spot. I didn’t even have to say anything about anything, haha. She told me the reason she hadn’t called me to do an interview right away was because she wanted to call my manager about why I had quit and not just directly transferred down. I explained that I wasn’t sure what school would be like, since this program is supposed to be one of the most rigorous on campus, and didn’t want to risk working and going to school until I was confident I could handle it. She said she understood, and told me that my old manager had talked about what a great employee I had been, which was really nice to hear after having to defend myself to the idiot at the mall. I walked her through my availability hours (since she hadn’t even looked at my application) and asked about having a day or two off once a week so I could go see family, which she was totally open to. The guy at the mall wasn’t too interested in that, and that was super annoying since I only wanted to work 20 hours a week anyway. After about 10 minutes of talking the manager at the store nearest my place said she would love to hire me and took down my name and birthday so she could look me up faster. She said she would pretend she didn’t know she was stealing me away from the guy at the mall, and that she would start the hiring process that night so it would go through faster, haha.

That was all on tuesday, and I haven’t heard back from her yet. I’ll go in tomorrow after class to ask how things are going and to see if I need to do anything. I’m excited to start working again mostly because I have absolutely nothing else to be doing right now. I literally spent the whole of today just sitting in my room doing nothing. I didn’t even marathon any shows or anything. Days like this really irritate me because I don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing but I also don’t really have anything else to do. So I’m hoping this job fills up a bit of my time. 20 hours a week really isn’t that much. Depending on how it goes I might bump it up a little bit.

Anyway, this post is way too long now, so I’ll sign off for the night!

Moving Day #3

I moved into my new place today, officially. I moved some of my stuff down at the beginning of the month, and then I borrowed my aunts van on thursday so I could bring down my larger items. Today consisted of moving down myself and a couple pillows and food items. I’m kind of excited to be starting a new chapter in my life. I was going to move down last night, but my mom ended up throwing a last minute bon-voyage party for me and my cousins stayed later than I had anticipated. Which, by the way, sparked the funniest conversation I think I’ve ever had with them. My oldest cousin turns 28 very soon and is still living at home with his mom (he has a bachelors in something to do with aeronautics) and jobless. He’s become very interested with the idea of having a girlfriend (though he’s such a misogynist I don’t know where he’d fine a girl who’d put up with him) and having kids. Or I should say, he’s opposed to both those things. He told me I should never have sex because “it’s not worth the risk” of getting a girl pregnant or catching an STD. His brother (and my mom and I) couldn’t stop laughing at him. From there the conversation got crazier and crazier, until at one point my cousin (the younger brother of the one opposed to sex) came up with the idea of a “sperm stopper” (not a condom??) and they had me google it to see if the website already existed. It does, and they sell cock rings and piercings. It was a conversation that really could only be had at our house.

But anyway! I’ve moved into my new house! My room is huge, with furnished with a queen sized bed, two dressers, and two desks. I’ve moved a few things around to make room for my 29 gallon fish tank and overstuffed arm chair. I still need to find space for a 35 inch bubble screen TV, which is about the same foot print as my arm chair. If I could get rid of the smaller of the two desks then everything would fit perfectly. My mom and I went grocery shopping and somehow managed to get so many groceries I have to store some of them in my room. My shelf in the cupboard is so full you can barely take anything out. And someone keeps putting things in my fridge space so I’ll have to ask about moving that all around. I do get a crisper drawer though, thankfully, so I’m keeping everything in that until my shelf is emptied.

I’m a little nervous about going to orientation tomorrow. Campus is huge and I don’t want to get lost. I actually don’t even know where I’m supposed to be going yet. I’ve got a few emails and things about where I’m supposed to be, and theres a schedule online, but I haven’t looked at all of it properly. And I’m exhausted from moving things around. I’ve done more in the last few days than I have in weeks it feels like. The drive down here (which takes about an hour and a half) felt like it went quick. I still can’t quite believe I’m down here. It’s so unlike anything I’ve ever done.

There’s a lot of ruckus out in the kitchen, so I should probably go socialize with my housemates. I haven’t really eaten yet today, so I should go have something. I had a few cubes of cheese and a half of the worst americano of my life. My family wanted to get together for coffee one last time before I left this morning, and I ordered a hot americano that ended up being tepid and terrible. And my mom ordered a double short late but ended up getting a grande soy latte instead. They were extremely busy, but still, two drinks wrong in a row is kind of bad. Especially an americano since its literally the easiest drink you can make. Its just espresso and hot water. You press a button and turn on the tap and you’re done.

I still don’t know if I’m going to work while going to school or not. I really can’t afford not to, but school sounds like it’s going to be really hard. *sigh* I still have so much to do. I should go have lunch. Or I could take a nap and not eat today… I’ll force myself to be social. It’ll be good for me, right?

A Flowering Canoe

My official last day at Starbucks was Friday. I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone by; but even more unbelievable is how much I’ve changed. When I first started working at Starbucks I was this timid person with a bad case of anxiety and I don’t know how I managed to survive the first month. I felt like I should quit every day because of how stressful it was, but somehow I managed to push through and I’m really glad I did. Next week I’m going away to school, and instead of being nervous about it I’m actually kind of ok with the whole idea. I recently decided it was time for me to stop being so reserved and have a little more fun with my life. I’ve always been a very stoic person, with a fixed personality and a tendency to judge people a little too harshly. I’m not saying I’m any less judgmental, but I think Starbucks definitely help bring down that wall I’d had up for so long. I had fun almost every day at work, and even when I was bored I was still glad to be doing something.

Since it was my last day, and I was closing with my best friend in the store (the assistant manager), we decided to try and beat my record closing time of 25 minutes. The schedule always gives us 45 minutes to close, but during those 45 minutes you’re not earning any labor for the store because no customers are coming in. So the faster you close, the more hours are available for people during the day time. I had gotten into an argument with a coworker earlier this week who no one likes because she’s got a horrible attitude, and she critiqued the way I closed because I did things that hindered work during the hour before we close the store. She would rather we leave everything until after we close, than do things early and have to change the way we move in the store for a short time. She was part of the reason I wanted to beat my closing time of 25 minutes. As if breaking the record wasn’t challenge enough, we got a new person in 3 weeks ago and he’s still too new to fully understand what we have to do in the store. I wrote him a list and he’s actually pretty fast (he closes in 35 minutes) but I still have to take time to explain things to him and that slows me down. I decided to close bar side (the side that makes the drinks) because that’s my fastest side and I knew the new guy would get help from our assistant manager with the other side of the store. Can you guess how long it took us to close the store? A whole 15 minutes. It’s the fastest close of any other employees on staff.

I know its something silly, but I honestly feel so proud knowing that I started that job with the self confidence of a naked mole rat and ended up being genuinely the best barista that store has seen. Customers were hugging me goodbye and wishing me well all week, and I even got a “we’re all proud of you” from the coworker everyone hates (though I learned later there were ulterior motives for her). This job was one that went against all of my beliefs and in the end it made me a stronger person with more skills and an even sharper wit. I’m sorry if this post sounds arrogant, but I really haven’t had too much to be proud of in my life and this job was one that made a huge impact on my life.

I’m truly hopeful that it’s given me the tools to succeed in this next stage of my life. I’ve only got a week left before I have to be properly moved into my new place, and before school starts up. I’ll be in a completely different part of the state, with no ties to anyone, and nothing holding me back except for myself. I often dream about living in a world where the only thing holding me back is my imagination, and I was so busy with that concept I overlooked that I was holding myself back in every other way. This new school might be a challenge, but if there’s anything I’ve learned this summer its that nothings impossible. I juggled two jobs and was working 60 hour weeks without days off at one point this summer! 2 years ago I could barely bring myself to do yard work!

Oh, I forgot to mention. I cut all of my hair off. It hasn’t been this short since I was in elementary school. When my aunt saw it she actually had to get some pictures of me as a toddler out because I haven’t had my hair shorter than 4 inches my entire life. The edges and back are shorter, but the top is about three inches long and still has some curl to it. I’ve got a lot more freedom with this style. And today my mom and I went shopping, so I’ve got a few new clothes for school. I bought a pair of red pants even. If you knew me in real life, you’d know that red pants are something I’ve never been up for. I’ve actually always hated the color red. I decided it was time for a change though, with me moving out and going to a new school, and getting a new job (not sure what yet) and finding new friends. Why not wear something I’ve never worn before? Get a haircut I’ve never had? My life is in a state of such chaos that it’s actually not even scary. I’ve got more opportunities today than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I finally have enough confidence to go and utilize them.

I always said 19 would be the hardest age for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I actually kind of promised myself it would be, in that way I have of promising things. I know this is going to sound silly, but if I set my mind to it, I usually can get things to happen the way I want. Things I don’t even have control over. I like to joke with people about being able to cast spells, which I don’t do in such an artistic way, but I do like to think I have a certain sway over things if I empty my mind and frame a thought a certain way. “To think without thinking”, if you remember me talking about that from years ago when I was rereading the Eragon series, haha. What I’m getting at is that when I was younger, 14 or 15 perhaps, I decided 19 would be the year I struggled with the most. Whatever I faced before then, whatever I faced afterword (if I survived it), nothing would be as bad as the year I was 19. I think about this a lot, because I really almost didn’t make it through to my 20th birthday. There was nothing special about being 20 as far as I was concerned, it was all just about not being 19. So over the years, as I thought about what my life would be like and what growing up might mean for me, I half-consciously “cast a spell” on that year. Or rather, a curse. If we’re being honest, I’m actually better with curses than I am with spells. If you can even call what I’m doing by thinking a certain way about the world “magic”. I only really call it that because I have no other word for it, and it sounds so much more fun to me than anything else I can think of.

19 was my cursed year, in which I would be tested to the point of breaking, and if I made it through I would be happier. That’s the curse I set for myself. I can’t tell you why I did this, and I knew it was going to be hard, but at the time it sounded like a good idea, and having made it through I really don’t think it was all that bad of a plan. Survive one year of misery and live the rest of your life knowing you can weather anything. I’m not saying the years before being 19 were easy, because they were only slightly less terrible than being 19, but I can say that 19 was the hardest age for me without a doubt. It was kind of like tempering steel really. I’ve started rambling a bit, haven’t I? And worst of all I’ve lost my train of thought.

What I’m trying to get at is that I think the worst is behind me, and that I’m extremely thankful for everything this summer brought to me. Before now I felt like a lost little canoe, caught on a rock in a great wide river. Unable to move, crushed under the weight of the passing water. But now I’ve dislodged from that rock and there’s nothing holding me back. With paddle in hand, I go bravely forward into uncharted waters confident in myself but willing to change. A flower who has been hindered by the passing storm, but whose brilliance bursts forth in the sun that follows.

This Is A Crows World

Part of going away to Evergreen for school means that I have to read a simple book they sent me in the mail. It’s called Crow Planet, and its pretty boring. At just over 220 pages long, you think it would be an easy read. I found it to be a little dry, and not anywhere near as motivational as the cover had me thinking it would be. It’s a short, semi-biographical piece about a woman (the author, obviously) who becomes depressed after she realizes her life isn’t what she would’ve hoped, and finds herself feeling disconnected from the earth after she moves into the city to support her husbands career. I hope you forgive the lengthy sentences. I’ve just finished reading this book and it was full of sentences half a page long. While rather lacking a significant motivational component (at least for me anyway), the book did have a section near the end that did a good job of stirring up my thoughts. It covered the death of crows, and also the reminder that crows represent to humans. To be honest, I never really notice crows. I know they’re one of the more intelligent creatures we’ve come across, but they never piqued my interest the way they do some other people. My mother certainly loves them, and would keep one as a companion if she could. Anyway, this little paragraph, only a few pages from the end of the book, made me think about death. The death of crows, to begin with, but, as was the goal of the author, about my own death as well.

I will be the first to admit that I regularly get so caught up in my own simple life that I regularly forget to live it. I spent this summer so completely entrenched in work that I never had any time for fun. And what did all of those hours of work really earn me? Am I any better off having completed them? I for all the hundreds of hours I worked this weekend, I earned only a few thousand dollars. Not enough to live off of, and certainly not enough to pay off the college loans I have yet to take out. And how often did I enjoy myself during this time? Was I ever really happy? My time at starbucks was fun, once I got the hang of things, but the amount of waste was still something that weighed on me every day. I certainly didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment at the end of every day. The only thing that seems to have kept me going was my sense of duty. Both of my parents work incessantly, so that’s kind of the only model I’ve got to go off of. Crow Planet seems to have awakened in me the fact that working incessantly isn’t the only way of living ones life.

It also made me realize what a fantastic opportunity I have by going away to school. I won’t have a single acquaintance in the city when I go to school. My closest friends will be 2 hours away, and I’ll be entirely alone. A year ago this idea would’ve probably scared me, and it does scare me a little, to be honest. But for the moment this truth gives me a kind of hope. I have a great opportunity to change my life. I can meet new people who will help me do whatever it is I want to do in life. I can actually decide if I want to know what I want to do in life. I can make good impressions, work (not so hard) in school and earn the respect of my teachers. I’m hoping that the resulting culture shock will also help get rid of some of my meaner tendencies. I do try very hard to be nice sometimes, but things invariably come out mean. Just last week I was talking with a coworker about a show that is based off of a comic book series in Japan, and the tone of my voice slipped into a tone of derision while I asked him a question without my meaning to. I sounded like I was calling him stupid in a way that didn’t even make sense, just because my tone was wrong. Social blunders like these seem to happen a lot to me. I’ve actually started reading a book for personal reasons, titled something like “the 5 languages of love”. The book explains that there are 5 languages with which people communicate their feelings of love, and teaches you how to better communicate utilizing the knowledge of how all 5 work. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but it seems very interesting. I’m hoping it will help me better communicate with people in general, and increase my threshold for compassion. 

For now though I need to go to sleep. I just got very tired all of the sudden and I have to work (surprise) tomorrow. I can’t believe its already September!

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