Monday, April 27, 2009

"I think I can, I think I can..."

I did it! I did it!!! Finally, I made it through a group and felt successful!!! Yay. This 5-night (6-day) WOW group included 5th grade students from a private school in Florida. Despite three days of soaking rain (and more outdoor showers), the kids were great--enthusiastic, eager learners, and just an all-around wonderful group. Perhaps having nearly a week to get to know them helped the cause, but at this point, I don't really care why it was good...rather, I'm just thrilled that it went well at all.

On that note, thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers over the last few weeks. I know your efforts definitely influenced my success last week, and for that I am extremely grateful. Please don't stop there, though. I have four more weeks here in DC, and although I hope I am over the hump, I'm still a bit skeptical and would very much appreciate your continued support. Again, thanks in advance.

One disappointing aspect of last week, though, was the loss of yet another Warren Hall housemate. Matt left unexpectedly in the middle of March, and this past Thursday, Marcie followed suit. Her Marketing internship was scheduled to conclude at the end of May, but for personal reasons, she had decided to leave May 4th, instead. However, on Tuesday morning, I found out that she'd gotten an offer for a film project in California (she owns her own film company, remember?), and decided to accept it. The project was slated to begin on Friday (April 24th), so she ended up having to buy another airline ticket and leave early Thursday morning. Because I was working 12-18 hour days with my group, I didn't get to spend any time with her during her last few days here, nor did I really get to say goodbye. I was quite disappointed about her quick exit, but hopefully she is happier these days.

The rest of the house is dropping like flies, it seems. Brian will be moving out right around the 7th of May, and Justin will follow only a few days later, on the 11th, or so. Amanda has hopes of leaving just as soon as she can find alternate living arrangements, which means that pretty soon, only the 4 of us WOW PAs will be left. On the other hand, though, at least 10-15 new indviduals will begin moving in on the 9th of May, which means the house will be rockin' with lots of folks pretty soon. Until then, those of us that are left plan to enjoy the solitude and quietness of a small house, heh.

Speaking of solitude, I have been living like an old lady lately. Ever since the group from Louisiana left, I have been going to sleep between 9:30 and 10 pm on a nightly basis. It's very uncharacteristic of myself, but I actually enjoy it. For the past few days, I have been waking up between 7 and 8:30 a.m. without an alarm. It's kind of nice to get 10 ish hours of sleep, wake up early, and still feel extremely well rested. I love it. ...But be sure not to disturb my sleep, because I have "gone jihad" on many a person lately for doing just that. Ask the security guards. ;-)

Oh and, summer is quickly upon us; it's been 85-92 degrees and sunny here lately. I love the sun and the warmth, but I could do for a ceiling fan, if you please. Our house is regularly kept at 80 degrees in the summertime, but we use ceiling fans, which make it much more comfortable. This stupid house doesn't even have central heating. wtf. Hopefully the maintainance people will come to install the window units soon because it's getting to be pretty uncomfortable inside.

Bah. I really ought to quit writing and get back to being productive. We have yet another group coming in today (grr!), so I should put myself together and get to lunch so I can go to the office at some point before they arrive. This 250-person, 5-bus group is a middle school from rural Massachusetts. My supervisor swears it will be the most fun group of all, but I don't believe him for a moment. Five buses!?!? Are you kidding me? Nooooo thank you. ...Not to mention that Thursday night, after this group leaves, we have a 9-bus group coming in for Science Bowl. Thankfully, we're just providing a Nightvew, but my gosh, I can't wait to be done with work this week (and it hasn't even started)!

Friday, Nick and I will be heading out on our road trip adventure to visit North Carolina State University and hopefully some sunny beach along the way. I got an amazingly priced car rental, and we are ready to gooooooooo. Can't wait to share the details...and hopefully this will ether be a definite "yay" or "nay" on the list of grad school prospects.

Wish me all the best,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Off to Trapeez School!

Okay, okay...I'm not really off to trapeez school, but for various reasons (that I'll explain later), I felt as though it was a fitting title for this blog.

In my last post, I was finishing up preparations for the arrival of my second WOW group, or 2 huge buses worth of 4-Hers and adult volunteers from my home in Southwest Louisiana. I was really excited about their week here in DC, because I knew I'd get to work with a bunch of people that I have known for many years, and I have been missing Louisiana very much lately. Rather than detailing out each day of our adventures, I'll say that despite the rain, I think the group had a great experience with the Wonders of Washington Program. It rained every day except their last, which, I guess, is nothing new for a bunch of Cajun folks from one of the most tropical climates in the country. Going through security with 110 individuals takes agesssssss, as does walking any distance farther than 500 feet. In the end, Colin and I both got good evaluations (he sure was a hit with the ladies, lol), and I think everything turned out fine. ...And this is why we're trapeez artists--anyone juggling that many individuals would have to have some sort of fancy skills, lol.

To be honest, though, I haven't been enjoying work very much at all, and people can tell. I'm trying not to give it off to my groups, and I hope I'm doing a decent job of that, but my co-workers and housemates can tell that there is something different about me lately. I keep dreading my groups and feel like I do a horrible time with my job. Of course, everyone says that I'm doing fine, but I just don't see it. The reality is, I've probably had the most difficult groups here so far (size and respect/energy wise), so maybe that's why things have been so tough. I figured that after working with 4-Hers from home that I might have a new take on things, but I'm not so sure. The youth and adults with that group were amazing--respectful, caring, wonderful individuals (hey--they're farm kids, lol)...and yet I'm still not enjoying it.

I don't like to sit here and report such negative things, but I figure I should be honest about how I'm doing. On Friday, I had a mid-employment meeting with my supervisor, and after having the weekend off, I do feel better...but I'm scared about how I am dreading this next group that comes in tonight. I don't want to dread work; I'm not used to disliking what I'm doing. Hopefully, as I get more experience (my fellow PA's are at least 1 or 2 groups ahead of me), I'll feel more comfortable with my skills and will be able to enjoy it more. On that note, I'd really appreciate your thoughts during these next few weeks because it's going to be crazy-busy on the work front, and I don't forsee a real break until after the beginning of May. Thanks in advance.


Yesterday, Christy and I spent the afternoon/evening in Baltimore. As I've mentioned in previous posts, sometimes it's just really necessary to get away from the City (DC) and away from the Center. We live and work here all the time, and it's just one huge trap (bubble?), and sometimes you really need a change of scenery. And, so Baltimore, we went. Baltimore is a great city, but very much a city. It's still huge, and I definitely wouldn't want to live there, but for the area we went, it was fine for an afternoon.

We spent most of our time in the Inner Harbor area, walking along the waterfront watching the street performers, checking out some shops, attractions, and eateries. We sat atop Federal Hill Park and watched some locals play beach vollyball, as well as tourists paddleboating in the harbor. It was there that we noticed TRAPEEZ SCHOOL! Heh. Yes, there is a such thing as trapeez school, and after a bit of watching from a distance, we decided to walk closer and actually sit to watch the trainings for a while. It was quite interesting to say the least. In the afternoon, we walked to a Sprint store (where Christy got a new phone --yay), and then asked the workers for suggestions for a seafood dinner. They recommended Mo's Fisherman's Warf, and although we settled on there for dinner, we also walked around the neighborhood of Little Italy a while, contemplating some authentic Italian food. After dinner, we went back to the car and headed home for the night. It's interesting to note, though, that Baltimore has a ton of similar sites to DC--Holocaust Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Washington Monument, Mt. Vernon (neighborhood), Calvert St., ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe, Cheesecake Factory, paddleboats, etc.


Continuing my act at trapeez school, I have further updates concerning graduate school. One night last week, I decided to check online to see if any new status concerning my admission to Ohio State had been posted. Sure enough, it was, and I have now been officially admitted into their graduate school. Yay. In addition, I received an e-mail on Friday afternoon offering me an assistantship at NC State. The position would require 20 hours of work each week (some sort of program evaluation/assessment projects), an in turn, offer paid tuition, health insurance, and $15,000 stipend per academic year. It sounds like a sweet deal, so Nick and I are definitely gonna take a road trip down there in 2 weeks to check things out. Hopefully the trip will help with all of this decision making because I sure feel like this is going to turn out to be a crazy balancing act. Again, wish me luck with making a good decision.


And now, I'm going to head out to an early dinner so that I can be ready just in case my group shows up ahead of schedule. You should be proud that I found the time to blog during all of this busy-ness. Heh.

*Performs trapeez dismount*

Monday, April 13, 2009

April Absurdities

My last post, "March Madness," was a great title and explanation for the month, that's for sure. March is always a month of madness for me, but that's why I love it so much. It is my favorite month, after all! Now, though, it is April, and that means it's time for a long-awaited blog update. Get excited! Heh.

National 4-H Conference
As I mentioned in the my last blog, National 4-H Conference began officially on March 28, but lots of awesome people started pouring into the Center on the 26th. Conference organizers, the Planning Committee, and Collegiate Facilitators came in on Thursday night to beging the get-acquainted, planning, and preparation process before the delegates arrived. Just a few highlights...
Thursday - Lots of delayed flights, a relaxed night of introductions and an overview of the week.
Friday - Excursion preparations (aka, a fun day in the City), Roundtable planning and preparations.
Saturday - More RT planning, delegate arrival, Opening Assembly, and RT Session #1.
Sunday - Fun Run at Greenbelt Park (beat the nasty weather), more RT sessions, and an exclusive private event at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum (the one at Dulles Airport).
Monday - Excursion Day(!), RT session, relaxing evening for the Tators.
Tuesday - Workshops, Focus Groups, final RT session, 2nd museum night at the International Spy Museum (another new one crossed off my list).
Wednesday - USDA Assembly, Capitol Hill Day, Newseum/fun lunch with the Tators, annual pass-out-on-the-floor-at-National-4H-Headquarters event (heh), and the traditional all-nighter.
Thursday - Bye, bye, to some of the greatest people I know! :-(
Once again, I'm going to reiterate that Conference is my favorite event of the entire year, and even when I'm not able to attend, Conference will forever be a part of me and my passion for the great organization of 4-H. To all of you, old and new friends, I have very much enjoyed my time getting to know you and I hope that we can keep in touch throughout the years. You'll always hold a special place in my heart, and don't forget...we're having a reunion when the first of us gets married (lololololol), so put it on your calendar!

Cherry Blossoms
The weekend following Conference was the big Cherry Blossom Festival weekend here in DC. I hadn't got a chance to really see or photograph the blossoms during Conference, so Christy and I set out on Saturday to see what all of the hype was about. Let me just say that this was a very interesting day...none of which really related to the blossoms themselves. You all should go and read Christy's blog for a fully detailed story of the day because my summary won't do it justice. Briefly: a brisk jog UP the DOWN escalator at Federal Triangle, nearly sniped by a police officer for trying to cross the street, log roll onto wall at American History Museum for good seats to watch fail parade, scored free yet-to-be-released Suave cherry blossom body wash and 4 gift cards to facials at Macy's...a successful day, if I do say so myself. Oh, and I guess I should say that the blossoms are quite beautiful, but I'm slightly disappointed and feel as if they're just a tad bit overrated, in comparison to the numbers of people who trek out here just to see a bunch of flowered trees. Meh.

Warren Hall entertainment
Oh, Warren Hall. Life here...I tell ya. In fact, I should take that back, because words really can't describe it. I'd take a stab at it, but I feel as though my housemate, Nick, was able to explain it a little better. For that, here's an excerpt from his thoughts:
"...Now, let me explain something about Warren Hall (that lovely place I live in) that might explain MY actions a little bit more. (Bare with me on this one, it is kind of confusing, but I will do my best.) Ok, Warren Hall and the 4-H center campus is the biggest bubble ever, you get trapped here. You live/eat/work/ everything here, and you NEVER get away. You basically live in this world that is a cross between Real World and Big Brother, its madness. Now, your entire life is Center when your a PA or live in the house. You literally cannot function without one another, and I know this sounds a little crazy but its the truth. Ok, so what does this have to do with you? Well, when someone new comes into your life when you live in the house, its a big d*** deal. And you might get uber attached to that person because they are the first outside contact in months..."
Basically, Nick is right that we do live in a bubble here, and outside contact can be few and far between, depending on who you are and your access to outside individuals via way of visitors or local friends. In that bubble, though, there are some definite benefits, despite the co-dependence that tends to develop. We Warren Hall kids sure do have a great time... I mean, come on, we built a sheet-fort in the living room on Friday. We have strobe light dance parties, watch endless amounts of movies, and have developed plenty of inside jokes in the short few months that we've lived here. Sometimes, it's hard and frustrating to live with people who see you at your highest and lowest points, and annoying when the kitchen is worse than Ground Zero, but in the end, we're all going to miss each other when it's over. I've said it before in other situations, but there's just something about living with results in a lifelong bond that can never be broken. (And that's my tear-jerker moment for the day, heh.)

This was my second holiday away from home (first being Thanksgiving, when I lived in Idaho), and I think I've decided that holidays are not holidays without family and friends. Granted, I was welcomed into a very loving home for Thanksgiving, which I very much appreciated, but I'm just used to being off for that entire week, and it was totally weird for me to be working on such a holiday. This time around, for Easter, it didn't feel like a holiday yet again. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one home (there were four-ish of us), but with our disgusting kitchen, we really didn't want to attempt any sort of home cooked family dinner. Instead, we lazy-ed around and went out to dinner at Chili's last night. In the afternoon, I braved the meto alone in an attempt to find and attend Mass at the Basilica. Thanks to some very very sweet girl, I found it, made a new friend, and was invited to dinner with her Brazilian family (I declined, due to plans with the housemates). I'll probably never see that girl again, but thank goodness for her and her generosity or else I may never have found the church, lol. Again, I am resolved to believe that random, one-time-only friendships can be some of the most rewarding of all. (Think, Rosetta Stone kiosque guy in March 2007.)

Upcoming WOW groups
It's been a while since my first WOW group (even though I did Conference and had a Nightview somewhere in between), but my second of many groups arrives today. The exciting part about this group is that they are Vermilion and Calcasieu 4-H Jr. Leaders (from home)! My mom and brother (he came to Conference too, which was great!) and everyone that is nostalgic for me and 4-H back home will be arriving in only a few hours! They'll be here through Thursday, and Colin and I will be tired puppies because we have a Nightview group that night, too. Next week, I'll be working with another group for 5 days, and the following week, we have a huge group (5 buses) for four days, and then an even huger group (9 buses) for a Nightview tour. In other words, these next few weeks are going to be crazy busy and you'll be lucky to hear much out of me before May rolls around...

Graduate School Update
As always, I must include the grad school update. I've been placed on the waiting list for admission into the Clinton School of Public Service and am still waiting to hear back from Ohio State. That means, I'm still admitted only admitted into LSU and NC State. For that reason, I'm hoping to rent a car and take a road trip (with my housemate, Nick) to Raleigh on the first weekend in May. I can't really rule out the school until I see it, so it's probably a good idea to head out there sometime.

In any case, this blog is forever long and it's about lunch time now. I really need to start putting myself together, since the group will be here in only a few hours. Sorry I don't have time to blog more often, but I hope you'll all forgive me. :)

Peace out.