Friday, November 17, 2006

Mother of All Surveys

Describe a typical Sunday for you:
Sleep in till seven. Get up, dress, eat cereal, put cereal away and clean up the kitchen. Read til I fall asleep wake around 10:30 -11 to make lunch for volunteers, serve lunch, read til I fall asleep for an hour and a half, make dinner, serve dinner, clean up after dinner, do nothing for an hour, volunteer orientation for which I am present so I can stand and wave and be introduced to the volunteers.

Any odd routines you follow when you wake up?
Set my alarm for ten to six, turn it off, get up at six, try to do four sets of Sun Salutations, wash off face with no rinse cleanser on a cotton ball, dress, eat an enormous breakfast so I don't get sick from my medicine, drink a glass of green tea while I check my email, go back to bed for an hour, get up again a little before 8:00

If alcohol was banned worldwide, what would your reaction be?
Probably be one of the last to know.

When was the last time you cried?
...shit I don't remember. I always thought you should know the last time you cried and the last time you threw up. One time I didn't eat enought breakfast so I threw up in my coffee mug.

Your CD collection is going to be repossessed. You may keep one.
I don't have an ipod so I guess it's whatever's in my CD player so Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Do you believe world peace is possible?
If it's not possible we have to work to make it possible.

I'm a genie. Name your wish. (Money and Love cannot be granted).
I would wish for racisim to be obliterated then we could concentrate on all the other isms. My second wish is that someone else would pay my phone bill for three months.

Name one thing about the OPPOSITE sex that automatically turns you off.

Name one thing about the SAME sex that automatically turns you off.
Shallow empty-headedness

Speaking of SAME sex, what do you think of Brokeback Mountain?
I can't believe this actually a question! See blog entries for December 05 through June 06

Where are you?
In Matt's office. More specifially, Ocean Springs Mississippi

Leatherface is in the kitchen. Will you fight to victory, or hide?
I'd whip out the Wolverine claws and take that bitch down!

Do you feel that people underestimate you?
Not as much as I underestimate myself.

When you're in a bad mood, what will always put you in a better mood?
Writing a long email or calling my mom or a friend to bitch.

Honestly, do you talk about MySpace in real life?
I don't do MySpace.

Have you met someone online in person?
Not that I know of.

Do you believe minimum wage should be raised?
You try living on roughly $10,000 a year. You're still more than $12,000 below poverty level.
(calculated to a $5.15 minimum wage.)

If someone at a bar gives you "the look" how do you respond to it.
Wouldn't recognize "the look." Probably think this person is a creepy stalker. He or she will have to come over and start a conversation before I leave if they want me to respond.

Desperation happens. Do you take advantage of desperate people?
Probably not since. I deal with desperate people every day and my job is to help them as much as I can.

Pretend you're 15 deep in beers. Describe what you would be doing now?
I would never get 15 deep because well before it I would be drunk enough to decide it's time to drink something much more foul like absinthe or pickle brine and then I would shortly be vomiting with my eyes.

Does everyone in your life know the real you?
It seems to be irrepressible.

What is something you're afraid of?

You have two weeks to live. Would you tell anyone?
Maybe not. I haven't thought about it.

A band you thought was cool when you were 15.
They Might Be Giants. ...Still do. But when I was in 7th grade I was really into Billy Joel and Meat Loaf.

You have a nightmare, who's the first person you think to call?
My mom if I call anyone. Usually I don't.

Wanna have kids before you're 30?
Not before 30.

A memory from high school
We were supposed to have a big snow storm and everyone thought school was going to be canceled but it wasn't so I came to school dressed as a snowman and I wore boots and a scarf all day, but you couldn't wear a hat so my snowman looked pretty dumb because it was just my stupid greasy hair on top of a snowman body.

Ever had a crush on one of your friend's parents
No. No.

Naughtiest thing you've done at work.
Read online slash fiction...then left to go donate platelettes.

Do you look more like your mom, or your dad?
My dad.

Something you've always wanted to learn how to do:

Where you'd like to be in 10 years?
In a really fulfilling job directing a nonprofit that keeps me busy and that is either helping people or allows me to express myself artistically and thinking about running for office in the future.

Something you learned about life:
The things you get the most worried about (like money) are usually not worth it.

What do you want for your birthday?
Have someone take me out to dinner, preferably at the Mellow Mushroom.

Describe your favorite weather using a noun?
Book weather

If you could be alive during any time period, which would you choose? Why?
The 1920's and 1930's. Dependng on where I was it seems like it would have been an exciting and important time to be alive and I'd like to see if I could have risen to its challenges and made a difference. Also I don't know a whole lot of history further back and I'm afraid to go further back in time as a woman.

Your favorite line of poetry?
I'm having a lot of trouble with this one. For now I'll say "then he says America should switch to the Metric system because its so much more logical. Go Away we like our rulers! Thomas Jefferson said You always get the rulers you deserve." - from a poem called James Joyce by a Milwaukee poet who's name I can't look up right now.

Book that you’ve read more than once:
Watership Down and all of Harry Potter except for the first one.

Worst traveling memory.
Flying home from Germany for about eight hours in a plane with a raging yeast infection but I didn't know that's what it was. I wanted to shoot myself!

What fictional character do you most resemble?
I like to think Samwise the Brave, but probably Schmendrick from the Last Unicorn

Due to Bush not signing the Kyoto Treaty, the ice-caps have melted and the sea level has risen. What mountain range do you go live on?
The Gangees. It just seems like the mysteries of life could be uncovered there.

If you had a daemon, what would it be? Name?
A black fox. Not sure of its name. Hallet, maybe? Never named my D&D character's "animal companion" or familiar either.

Your favourite nail polish colour?
Any, as long as it's on a guy.

How do you express yourself creatively that pisses off the neighbors?
Discssing esoteric things on the phone with my friends while in our room or speaking to them in movie quotes which don't make sense to them.

Did you think the Beast was less hot at the end of Beauty and the Beast?
Who doesn't!

What’s your comfort food?
Grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese

What song do you sing in the shower?
Fancy Meeting You Here from the musical Lucky Stiff

Your favourite word?
Lunch. My favorite swear word is Hell.

Do you wear lipstick? Where do you wear it?
on my lips. No I wear lip gloss - or I would wear Burts Bees lip gloss if someone gave me upwards of $3 to buy it.

What’s your favourite part about your favourite holiday?
Easter. the pastel colors and spring flowers.

What kind of music are you listening to right now?
the hum of the pop machine next to the table in the computer lab and the rustle of someone filling brown paper bags with groceries.

Have you ever streaked?
No, but I'm willing to run naked through the Parthanon. I must research the punishment for this.

What’s your favourite way to travel?
By train

Have you ever gotten a scar from doing a load-in? Where and how?
I don't think so, but I have mutiple scars from steaming the costumes from South Pacific. Steam burns. Also I burned myself with a hot screw while helping build a set for a summer school production of South Pacific. I have South Pacific scars.

Your favourite way to end a piece of writing?
Nothing else happened. The End.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Storm

This is not an entry about Hurricane Katrina. This is an entry about the thunderstorm we experienced yesterday, Wednesday in Ocean Springs Mississippi. Yesterday was supposed to be my first full day off in twelve days, and like any day off it's beauty was in the fact that I had no particular plans except to maybe go work out, and hopefully do some writing and reading.

However sometime around four o'clock in the morning a thunderstorm began and the sky opened up and rain poured fourth like I have never seen before. There was thunder and lightning - which didn't really phase me except to wake me and inspire me to quietly Thank God I had shelter and a warm bed to sleep in during the storm.

Normally, I really enjoy thunderstorms. I think it's somehow romantic to listen to the rain. But right now in a Hurricane Relief Volunteer camp it's not so cool. There is a tangible difference in the energy of the camp when the sky is cloudy and it thunders and rains. People walk around all ashen faced and jumpy as though another hurricane could sneak up on them at a moment's notice. The atmosphere in town is of morose resignation as though - The weather will kill us ... or not.

Around 7 a.m. (the lights didn't come on as they usually do at six because we had no power at about that time I realized the emgergency lights were on in my room) I sat up and thought Wow! It's really Raining! My dorm room (with no ceiling so you can hear any conversation anywhere in the building) is right next to the back door which was being slammed repeatedly from 6:00 on as people ran in and out to look at the rain and remark loudly upon on it. It was through these loud conversations as I tried to sleep that I learned:
The roads were flooded
No volunteers were able to go out on construction work that day
School was canceled
A tornado hit and damaged 10 rooms of the middle school building a block away (which has not been used as a school since Katrina). (Mississippi has tornados but it doesn't have tornado sirens. I think people figure what's the point since they don't have basements anyway. On the bayou the watertable is so high, you can't have a basement.)
A screaming woman who saw the tornado hit the school ran up to our back door seeking refuge

Finally I decided to get out of bed and check out this rain. I should have stayed in bed because visability was absolutely zero as white sheets of water poured off of our roof. I thought to myself This is what it was like when it rained for 40 days.
I know know what Arthur Miller meant when he wrote in The Crucible "I will fall like an Ocean upon that courtroom"

You would have thought it hadn't rained at all since last year and that this was the result of all the evaporation in Mississippi over the entire summer for it to rain like this!
It was the closest thing to a Monsoon I have ever seen!

After visiting the kitchen for a muffin and being surprised and releived to find volunteers sitting at the cafeteria tables with emergency candles lit listening to a worship band sing songs like "I praise you in the storm" I decided being helpful was over-rated and that I was going back to bed. On my way I ran into a staff member and Mississippi native in the hallway who muttered "this is the deep south no one wants to know about." I turned to her and said "Is this a tropical storm?" having never experienced anything like this before, I was unsure, but confident it wasn't a hurricane or we would have known about it (and probably evacuated) ahead of time and because there wasn't much wind. (Katrina had winds of 175mph).

"No," she said. "this is just how it rains down here."

The long and short of it is that ALL the volunteers were routed into the distribution center yesterday, but it was my day off so I was not about to jump in and work at structuring their activities. We have had a lot more volunteers than usual lately and are seeing a lot fewer clients. Plus no one comes out - not even for free groceries - when it's raining, so you can imagine what it's like during a torrential downpour.

These volutneers had nothing to do but reorganize things then express their frustration at not having enough work and then they eventually gave up and took up reading or napping. Many found productive tasks to do in the kitchen or placing buckets under the many MANY leaks in our roof. For the most part - it was like indoor recess in a Kindergarten classroom.

Needless to say my day off was unproductive because I couldn't leave the building though I did manage to sleep for nearly 10 hours.

I believe we got over 4 inches of rain in one day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Striking Discovery

I was recently reflecting on the work I'm doing here in Ocean Springs and how seemingly complicated it is, but also how much I enjoy is challenges. Every day it reminds me of stage management. (If you ask a stage manager to lock doors at 10:00 - they're locked at 10:00. I'm standing there at 9:58, and counting).

I think the work I'm doing now, training volunteers to work in the distribution center, and working with a new group of people every week is a good preparation for the Peace Corps. I need to be able to communicate effectively with all kinds of people and find tasks that fit their needs and what needs to be done. It can be hard, but it's also fun. One of the hardest things is letting the volunteers do things that I know how to do faster and more effiecently (after seven weeks) but I can't do it all, so I have to show them how to do it and then stand back and watch for ways to help them.

It can also be frustrating to have people coming up to you all the time saying "I need a job" "Tell me what to do" and you point to an area and say "Reorganize this so I can ..." and they look at you blankly and say "Tell me what to do." I guess I've always been someone who can hear "reorganize this" and then run with it, but some people just need to but q-tips in plastic bags when there's nothing else to be done.

Mostly what surprises me about the work here is that I look around and realize I've been given a lot of responsibility. I don't know if that's by design or by default, but everyone I was working with left so now I'm in charge of the distribution center. I lock up at night when I need to and I help cook for the volunteers on the weekend. I've welcomed a few groups and given them tours of the facility, sold volunteers t-shirts and answered dozens of questions. I can even speak with some presumed authority on economic situations here in Mississippi.

Basically I've made myself available and when someone asks me if I can do something I do it. If I tell someone I'll be there, I'm there. I've made myself reliable and am surprised to see how relied upon I've become. I've been given a lot of responsibility here because, strangely, I've discovered, I am responsible.

It's weird. I think, How did they know I could handle it? When I got here I was told they had plans for me because I was a long term volunteer and someone said "It's not that we don't get long-term volunteers but not all of them are responsible or sane." I thought, what have I done to lead you to believe I'm either sane or responsible other than show up when I said I was going to?

So far, to my knowledge, I've not let anyone down. It feels good.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's the weather Romania?

I got my Peace Corps assignment and my mission, should I choose to accept it is in Romania where I will be working for two years on helping to develop NGOs (non government organizations).

I'm very happy to be stationed in Romania - a beautiful country with rich history I'm told- because Peace Corps has been well established there, and my only preference was for some place where it's not too hot. I was very lucky to happen to get stationed in Eastern Europe where I would have requested had I stated a preference.

My official title will be Community Developer. I don't know exactly what my job duties will be day-to-day but I get the sense that it's the kind of job where you never fit all your duties into one description and often find yourself doing things not in your job description. The job description the Peace Corps sent me sounds right up my alley - accept I'll be doing all these Romanian, the language I have to learn.

Of course right now I don't know too much about my assignment or anything. My mom is going to send the materials to me here in Ocean Springs and then I can look them over in more detail. The most important thing that I know right now is that I leave for training in D.C. on Feb 19th.