Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alea Iacta Est III

Alrighty, hopefully I can finally wrap all of this nonsense up.

Detracting for a second. After reading over some of these, my syntax and spelling is downright atrocious in some of these posts. Why didn't anyone tell me? I guess it's no surprising that most of these are produced in a single go, with very little backtracking or editing to speak of. I get lazy. It's word vomit to me. Oh well, perhaps I'll pretty up this one or some of the others a bit more. No promises.

So. I left off with the new gang convoying out to coal country. I remember being a bit apprehensive in the morning, but quickly setting into that uncomfortable ease that takes over your body as you submit yourself to an adventure. We were told we'd be there at least 2 weeks, most likely 3, since that's the limit for FEMA deployments. Timelines are nice. There's a simple comfort in finiteness. When you know something will end, at least you know something, which is quite precious in this crazy life.

We arrived at the Presbyterian Church in Welch, WV after dark. It was a decent day's drive and though we weren't excited to be getting up at 5am the next day for at least a 12hr day of work, the adventure hard begun.

I already did a 20-30min stand up routine of the day-to-day activities in front of all the other teams when we went back to Maryland for the second transition period. Also did a hell of a presentation in front of a bunch of FEMA and Americorps higher ups, much to the NCCC admin's chagrins. Perhaps I can try to recreate it.

Around 6am you wake up on the church rectory floor. Sticking to the mattress some morning, freezing your ass off others. Weather in WV is quite finicky in the summer. Get in line to take a piss. Put on your sweat and shitmud crusted uniform. Eat breakfast downstairs amongst the hateful Christian literature. These were the Presbyterians that had books everywhere discussing the "disease of homosexuality." Always good for a laugh in the morning.

By 6:30-7am we were in the van and on the way out of town. It was usually about an hour's drive through the switchbacks. I usually drove home at night and dreamed of riding my motorcycle through these pristine roads. Seriously, I might go back to WV just to ride. Forget Deal's Gap, MacDowell County is the destination. Back to the task at hand. Our work sites in Mingo and Wyoming Counties were only about 30mi away, but anyone who's lived way out yonder knows how easily that can turn into an hour, especially with washed out roads and the National Guard directing traffic.

Around 8am we'd meet at in the parking lot of a former diner and get our daily assignments. Usually this was one or two trailers in the area that had anywhere from a couple inches to a couple feet of water/mud/shit flowing through it 3 weeks prior. Yeah, we didn't get out there until well after the floods had happened. Most people were quite surprised and dumbfounded that we had even shown up. Most of the Christian Men's organizations had shown up to do immediate relief and they didn't think anyone else would show up. They were skeptical to say the least. But after our second week word had gotten out about the kids in gray shirts cleaning out houses for free.

So we'd get our assignment and sometimes we'd have directions, sometimes we'd have to find it ourselves. This part of the country doesn't really have maps and no one has street addresses. There's places like 'Steel's Hollow' and 'Buffalo Creek Hollow.' These places aren't on maps, you have to ask around.

Once we find our houses we go to work. I think by the third or fourth day of work we had our routine down. The people who went under the house to rip out the moldy, wet insulation and ductwork knew who they were and the people who went inside to tear out drywall, paneling, insulation, floors, furniture, etc, they knew they were. I was inside man. I dubbed myself far to large for squeezing into the foulness under the houses and trailers and no one disagreed. And everyday I tried to remember to thank everyone who went under the houses. The mud under there smelled like that time you went to the bathroom. Then you left the bathroom. Then you had to go back into the bathroom about 10 minutes later and you're just about gagging from that ghastly creation that you can't believe you bore. It was awful some days. But, if you ask anyone on my team, it was the prolonged highlight of our year. We worked our asses off in the heat in the rain. It was direct service. We'd take long lunches and sit out in the sun next to the river, or huddling in the van away from the rain. Then we'd barrel out and tackle the job of the day. We'd work til around 5 or when we all decided the job was done and make the trek back to Welch. A small example of team enjoyment: music in the van. Up to this point my old team's van had been pervaded with an onslaught of Miley Cyrus/Kelly Clarkson/every other shitbag from American Idol/the shittiest rap imaginable and a dash of NPR. No one could agree to like one thing. My new team in WV would find bands we all loved on a daily basis. On a given day we would be listening to and discussing the likes of Interpol, Kings of Leon, The Clash, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Devendre Bearnhardt, country so bad it was great. It was amazing. Smiles for miles in our van "The Beef Bus," complete with 'stank bag' full of dirty coveralls and uniforms. We'd get back to the church and most people would just chill. This was a huuuuuuge difference from normal "corps life." Usually you have meetings, PT, reflection time and other nonsense after work throughout the week. It's complete bullshit. Luckily none of that dumbness was expected. Lots of day I would work out anyways, but because I wanted to. I found a sweet set of about 50 stairs behind the police station across the street. When I ran up and down it, prisoners in the jail transferring to "the yard" would yell and spit at me. Fun times. And reflection was a constant thing, how could you not talk about the crazy life of mucking out a moldy, dilapidated house all day and then the nice old lady who really had nothing insisted on making grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone? And it was the best damn grilled cheese ever.

After dinner most people would gravitate to the ping pong table where epic matches and tournaments were held. While I did not participate, I somberly revelled in a stress free life surrounded by fantastic people caught up in a bizarre situation and making the best of everything.

This all feels a bit scattered, but it was 6 months ago and I'm picking the memories as the neurons are firing. The big family meals were a great time to talk about the day with the other teams and just relax, laugh at life and amaze yourself at how18 people can suffice with one refrigerator and a handful of decent cooks. I made a variation for my mom's chicken divan a couple nights for everyone and it was quite a hit. In a rare MIRG moment, here's the recipe, as requested from a former WV disaster teammate.

um, let's see......

-large can of cream of chicken soup, could use cream of mushroom or really cream of anything...
-cooked, shredded/cubed chicken, a few breasts worth
-cooked broccoli, large frozen bag of
-juice of orange/lemon/lime--roll the fruit hard on the board before you cut it
-half cup of mayo
-a ton of shredded cheese, a cup or two
-salt and pepper, any other spice you might think tastes delicious, tony c's is fantastic

-cook the chicken and broccoli beforehand, cut it up and throw it in a baking dish
-mix together the soup, mayo, juice, 3/4 of the cheese, spices
-mix together everything in the dish
-top with the cheese then crackers
-bake at 375 until its bubbling and smelling delicious
-broil the top so it gets brown and sexy

This recipe guarantees mucho "mmmmmmmmmm's."

There's far more minutia I could recount if asked in person, but I'll try to squeeze out a few more important themes.

We never had enough tools, even when the Americorps higher ups asked us what we needed and we replied, they said they would "try." Obviously complete bullshit when FEMA was paying for everything. Whatevs, we still got every job done because we were awesome.

At the beginning I was labeled as threat to the milieu. The first of work I was asked by the supervising Team Leader to ride with her so we could have a "chat." The whole conversation felt like a long winded one-bad-apple-spoils exercise. I get it. People are influenced by me. I'm supposed to be happy and nice all the time because otherwise people will feel the need to express emotions that aren't happy and nice and positive. Fuuuuuuuuck. I used to be such a nice guy. Americorps made me an asshole. Sometimes.

By about the 11th straight day of 13hr days a lot of us wanted a night of beer. Not just any beer, outside beer. We had already investigated a local tavern called the "Executive Lounge," which really is the perfect name for a strip club. This was met with a lot of peculiar locals and not so locals who were very amused in our presence and bought us lots of beers and gave us job offers of building prisons and stories of the like, which was nice, but my lungs are still recovering from the ambient smoke. And I'm pretty sure it was just a gambling front. We wanted to work hard and just have a beer outside. Americorps has a fairly reasonable rule that you can't drink within 25 ft of housing. And since housing was a church rectory, that didn't seem prudent to begin with. So my good buddy and interim team leader Ethan and I decided to mosey on over to the gaggle of police officers across the street. After a decent amount of predictable ball busting, we explained to the good ol' boys that us volunteers just wanted to dink a six pack outside semi-legally. The cheif of police was even there and told us of a secluded parking lot up the hill that overlooked the valley. As long as we kept quiet and cleaned up, there'd be no problems. The cops told us this. It was a great night. Very Shawshank-tarring-the-roof. Sometimes it is the simple pleasures. Even one of the cops came up there to give us a little shit and check up on us. A week passes and we thought nothing of it. But we were in a small town, bullshit spreads. It got back to the supervising team leaders that we had been drinking on the church steps. Amazing. They freaked out, locked down the church until the truth was found blah blah blah. Ethan and I and everyone who had been there immediately stepped up and told them what was what. The fucking chief of police told us where to drink. Then we got a silly lecture about how they were still "disappointed" in us. Another word that gets thrown around NCCC like it's going out of style. Silliness.

There were many more fantastic singular moments, like finding cock fighting is alive and well in rural WV and watching the Pens take the Stanley Cup while drinking corn whiskey from a jar with my new best friends. But I think I'm exhausted on talking about WV for now. It was simply fantastic. Some the most physically arduous and odorous work I've done and probably the best. It's amazing what being surrounded by fantastic, like-minded people in the same situation can do to your moral. I smiled a lot in WV.

my team, The Home Wreckers

Next up, the supreme dumbness of DC and Obama and The Moose and The Motorcycle.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alea Iacta Est II

Round Two, Fight.

I'm wracking my brain right now, trying to find something that will tie the not so amusing events together, rather than hop scotching from big moment to moment, but it might just have to be that way. Take what you can get.

The Sunshine State became the destination. I remember this initially being met with reluctant exuberance, especially when we began researching where we were actually going. This whole time we'd been built up to believe that the Gulf Coast was still in shambles and needed a fuckton of help. Staying in MD first round and working at school compounded our frustrations and I can't say they were helped when we realized we were headed to extremely affluent, Atlantic coast Vero Beach, FL. But you're not encouraged to ask reasonable questions like, "Why aren't we building in the Gulf?" The line that must be towed seems to be "shut-up-and-do-a-consistently-mediocre-job-while-maintaining-a-creepily-positive-attitude." I'm the idiot who thought bureaucratic government system would function in another way.
Some source of the reluctance came from the fact that 2 of my team members were from Florida and a lot of people on the team had been there. Yet, the reluctance was met with some motivation by the fact that we were finally building--one of the primary reasons why I joined.
Vero Beach has a lot of money. Oslo, FL and Fellsmere, FL don't. That's where we worked, but lived in Vero. The drive down was a little annoying with my team leader giddily forcing us to stop at state lines to take pictures, but what can you do, except stew?
For the week and change I was in Florida it was pretty great. Even though we were staying in old FEMA trailers behind the Habitat warehouse, basically submarine quarters, there was a fantastic lounge with TV/DVD, full kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, etc. The days on the jobsite were decent. New skills didn't come so readily as the Indian River Habitat for Humanity like to build. A lot. Everything was quite rushed and there really didn't seem to be a lot time for questions or teaching moments on the jobsite. They were doing 60 homes a year and trying to ramp up to 100. The other Habitat affiliates I worked with were lucky to do 10. This is due to a ton of money and huge volunteer population with all the retired snow birds. In all, it was pretty great just being exposed to that environment. 2pm thunderstorms and fire ants and all.
Easily, the best part of Vero was the proximity to water. We lived 3 miles from the beach. I've never been a beach guy, that's how it is with fat kids. You end up swimming in your t-shirt because it helps with your self consciousness, but you end up looking worse. Coming out of the water you end up looking like a plastic bag of milk. It sucks, so you just don't go. Or you just don't go until you finally lose a bit of weight, stop giving a shit and decide that one of the fantastically simple moments of your life is finally discovering the sensation of how sunburned back feels. Or could that even be a base tan? Either way in the 9ish days I lived in FL, I think I went to the beach 5 times. Amazing. We'd put up hardyboard siding on houses(a concrete based vinyl siding alternative used a lot in the south) all morning and into the afternoon, pack up during the 2pm thunderstorm, drive home and hit the waves. That life is none too fucking bad. Until there was a phone call from Maryland. Mother nature decided to piss on the Mountaineers.
In mid-May there were some terrible rains in West Virginia and consequently quite a bit of flooding. So much so that parts of West Virginia were declared federal disaster areas. You didn't hear about this because it was in fucking West Virginia. We didn't hear about it either, not even that it was water based, at least not until the day after two girls and myself got off the plane back in Maryland.
Obviously I was really enjoying Florida, but at the time my adventure bug was biting. My working and social relationship was tenuous at best with my team leader, not made any better when she would essentially steal the van without telling to go on "manatee hunting missions." Leaving really seemed like right path to choose.
In the span of about 19 hours we were alerted to the fact that there was a disaster the 3 of us would be responding to in WV and put on a plane back to MD. They did this with 2-3 people from the other 16 teams from our campus. It was weird though, the day after we flew back we had the day off, which obviously prompted us to ask "Was this that bad of a disaster?" This was done with internal monologue or hushed voices in dark corners as to not alert anyone that we were using our cerebral cortexes independently.
4 composite teams were formed. Vans and support trucks were assigned. Some tools were checked out. Extra coveralls, gloves and paper masks were issued. After a pep talk we barreled to the mountains. Then the story gets good. And smells slightly of shit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Alea Iacta Est

April 17 - present (oof)

Obviously you all have a lot of well earned "What the fuck?"'s to deliver to me. The primal one is to the main reason I stopped posting. Well, in the interest of retaining my puny education award, all I'll say is that I got in trouble what I wrote in this blog. Uh huh. In fact 4 days after I made my last post, I believe. You might be expecting a diatribe on free speech and obviously I've been verbal about it to those around me, but this electronic medium seems to be under special scrutiny. Look back at my older posts and see what could possibly make Americorps look objectively bad to a possible NCCC applicant. Could it be the ones where I talked about all the great people I was meeting and working with? Maybe it was the part about all the moments of true happiness and enjoyment I experienced? You be the judge. But, seeing as I'm short with my time in the 'corps and I've developed a decent sized case of the "fuck-its," I've decided to reactivate story time. It won't be expose style, so there's gonna be some decent holes as I recount the last 7 months. This is in the interest of keeping headaches in the next 3 weeks in to minimum. Buuuut, there'll probably be some decent reading material once I get back home...

Moving on.

I guess I'll try to illustrate everything in order based on locations. Keep it simple. There won't be that much emotional word vomit, unless it's from current events in my brain; so there might be a decent amount, it's me.

End of round 1: Still in fucking Maryland.

So I'm starting off on a side note, but I think it's important. One of the main reasons I joined this program was to travel. I really really like to travel. Really. The whole concept of bouncing around the country, helping people, learning new skills, meeting new people, this sounded fucking fantastic. It was figured out during conversation with a friend a few months ago that myself and 2 of my former teammates(yes former, that complete story will be aired at a later date) will have spent at least 21 weeks out of the total 40 weeks in the program at Perry Point, MD. Yup, the majority of our time will have been spent at our home base, simply because of luck and other currently unnamed factors. And there is one team that has spent 3 of the 4 rounds in New Orleans. Their other round was on Florida. Just saying.
I think when we last left our hero, he was gearing up for fantastic reunion with some old friends and now I remember he crushed yet another PT test. One of those last Fridays in April we had a PT test after work and I ran my fastest mile time to date: 6:53. Flying. And to top it all off, none other than Paul Zippel himself was there at the finish line. What a sight. After a quick shower and some sly comments about my newly svelte figure, we bombed down to Baltimore for a free Orioles game. My soul brother Aaron Faust had acquired tickets from his buddy Ace who received them from his very generous college. We thought we would be meeting Faust, Ace and Ace's girl. Serendipity shakes her fierce booty and what happens? We meet Faust, Ace and Stamatis fucking Zeris. So basically three of my best friends and roommates from college and a new friend decide Camden Yards is the perfect venue to surprise the shit out me and make me the happiest boy. The night was everything I needed after many, many weekends of working extra volunteer hours, no sleeping in, no beer, no guitar.....etc. It was a night of nights for our crew: almost getting thrown out twice for heckling and screaming profanity laced insults in Greek, delicious shitty ballpark food, one scrumptious beer, realizing you're in the middle of the ghetto about 2 blocks away from the inner harbor (we made the mistake of rambling into a McDonalds that was bumping the loudest rap over the sound system, and we were far to white for how late it was), and of course, lots of incredibly meaningful, insightful and ridiculous conversation with this group of guys. I was smiling inside and out all night. I think the theme for this blog might well turn out to be the fantastically random and beautiful days and nights I've had this year. Fucking serendipity how you charm me.
As far as the rest of the round, I remember everything going reasonably well. School was alright. We started to do a lot more landscaping as the weather got better, which my teachers were none to happy about. This is understandable, I am great after all. My final masterpiece in the medium of butcher paper came with the construction of 30 foot castle/dungeon set piece for a production of Rumplestiltskin. An obnoxious amount of fun. By this time the other grade had caught on and soon my teammates were stretching their creative tendons and amazing wall art was popping up all over the building, including, but not limited to: an 8' 3-d bee, a 3d jungle motif and a 5'spaceship complete with aliens popping out of the moon craters. Arts and farts and crafts.
Near the end of time at the school Rebecca, Dan and I volunteered with the preschool kids again and were on a field trip to the Baltimore Science Museum. Overall a great time. One little boy, who looks like a 4 year old version of a member of Bone Thugs N Harmony told me I was his favorite teacher. Feather in my cap. But. Why parents don't just let toddlers run away sometimes is beyond me. Trying to keep up with two 4 year old girls was insane. Fantastic passive birth control for myself. One little boy pooped in the kids' play and learn room. He covered it with a candy wrapper, and it was discovered by smell. Good times.
About a week before the project ended we found out the destination of our next project. NCCC does this, for fun suspense?, also apparently housing availability falls through sometimes and isn't shored up until right before teams leave. After much build up and scavenger hunting, we finally found out were going to do Habitat for Humanity in Vero Beach, FL. Florida baby. Right at the beginning of the summer. Yup. And right where I leave you for now. I start traveling and things in my life get crazier and crazier. This is about the first week of Mayish. Stay tuned sports fans.

*Current sidenote: I recently had some ridiculously good(re: jacked) beers with a very old and good friend in Boston a couple days ago. Indispensible advice was given that I am incredibly gratelful for. This was produced on whim, at the last minute, and at the mercy of the MBTA in a restricted timeframe. Serendipity you are quite a cunt.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It's been the longest it's ever been. Whatevs. This'll be short, I post a longer one soon. Here's the abridged version of the past 6 weeks.

-Helped out at a drag queen show that showcased plenty of artificial phalli and merkins, and it also raised $40,000 for charity!
-Disciplined? I'm still not sure. I could try to explain, but it wouldn't make sense to you and it still wouldn't make sense to me. I guess I'll just say that this is one of the very few jobs where specific moments of social interaction are graded from a single pov. Or so it seems. Still unsure.
-Still keeping up with the working out and eating right. Not sure if I'll hit he 50lb weight loss or 6:30 mile byJuly, as previously hoped, but I'm doing damned good.
-Was working on an awesome habitat for humanity project in Florida, 3 miles from the beach. Now I'm in West Virginia, trying to save mudded out homes in a federal disaster area. Look it up, there's not much press.
-All I can think about is a motorcycle trip to everywhere. Specifically Nova Scotia and Possibly Newfoundland during the first week of July. I just want to ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

one and half stone

March 30-April 16

Yikes. Far too long. I've been feckless. Mea culpa. Anywho. Life is still good, I'll try to see if I can remember everything from the last couple weeks and condense it into something that makes sense.

Work: Work still very livable. The bulletin boards make the time go by and let the creative juices flow. Today Dan and I finished a 12 ft "stage" complete with ruffled butcher paper curtains, scalloped footlights and 3d spotlights for "3rd Grade Spotlight on Talent" papers. It's all part of our beautification process of the school. Two days last week we pulled weeds and spread mulch around the school while the kids were on vacation. Then we got a little break of our own. We worked for two days at Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware. It's down near Rehoboth Beach, if people know where that is. It was definitely nice to get away from the Point and do some "work" somewhere else. The work was repainting a nature center and a chapel, but with 8 people, painting a building really isn't that much work. Highlights include excellent beach weather, day and night, and burritos cooked on a campfire for dinner one night. Scrumdiddlyumptious. And now I finally have kid stories that will produce some heartwarmth and maybe a half-smile. Obviously I'm gravitating toward the crazier kids in the class, cuz thems what I know, or at least attempt to. One kid has been completely unresponsive and difficult the whole time I've been there. Fairly certain he's seen his fair share of abuse. But he finally started talking to me of all people during math when I showed him a few tricks and he's slowly revealing himself to be a really sweet and smart kid and not the asshole that the first impression gave. Another of the crazys is legit crazy. Kid clearly has serious social and cognitive issues and I don't envy his case worker. The teachers get frustrated with him easily, and for good reason, some days he'll just wander and ramble like a vagrant under an overpass. But sometimes you just have to let a crazy person get the crazy out and they sometimes reveal a nugget or two of sanity that gives you hope. And sometimes they're still crazy. As for the good time, I've figured out this kid has moved around quite a bit and loves looking at maps and talking about traveling. So when he gets his work done I let him point out states and tell him about them if I've been there. It's fun. Other times he'll go off on a tangent and you won't know how to come back. For instance the other day he decided that I should be a fighter of some kind. He couldn't decide between karate, tae kwon do and boxing, but he decided that after I left the school I should go to Japan and become a fighter. When I alerted him to my pacifist ways he came up with a contingency plan. I was to go into Baltimore, find a painter--cause there must a hundred of those guys there-- have a portrait of me created and sent back to this kid. Neat, huh. Maybe I'll get my portrait done all sweaty and scarred up a la Bruce Lee. Well, I suppose Chuck Norris would make more sense with the beard et al. Work. Indeed.

Play: There really hasn't been much play for our hero. In the last 40 days I've had 2 days off. And I really like to sleep in. Woof. You should see the bags under my eyes, but I feel fairly decent. I did get to play a little last weekend when my teammate Rebecca and I went to my teammate Dan's home in Albany, NY for Easter. It was nice to be in a lived in house and have lots of mom prepared food around. And it was fucking fantastic to be able to sleep in 'til 10:30. I also bought a new shirt with an LL Bean gift card. I'm officially an XL now. Fuck Yes. Getting fit feels and looks damn good. I will play more soon since one of my best friends from college, Aaron Faust, is coming to visit the east coast for a few weeks and I predict lots of well deserved binging on excellent food. I also really need to get to Ohio to see meet my nephew, it will happen sooner than later.

Maitinence: The big news. My workout and eating regimen is working. Running 5 miles twice a week, core training twice a week, a day of weights, along with subsisting on $4.50 a day for food has helped me lose............................32lbs! Yup yup. I'm pretty sure I have been this weight since like junior high. Easily 10 years ago. Fuck. It feels good. I hope to lose 50 more over the course of the year. That's a goal, 30 might be more reasonable, but how fun would it be to have a picture of a Wood boy with abs? Or at least really jacked. Maybe I'll finally be able to fit into those cars I dreamed of owning. Yes, just like every chubby boy born in the 80's, I couldn't fit into and always wanted to own a Volvo 240 turbo. You too? Awesome. Nerd.

The Future: Lots of neurons have been firing on this topic. I think I have it figured. I'm going to give myself a date to decide. Choice A: Buy a newer bike and go on a year/two year motorcycle odyssey across the 49 states and probably a lot of provinces, working for room and board on organic farms through WWOOF, maybe write a book afterward or figure out how to do again in Europe, probably the rest of the world. Choice B: Apply again and come back as a team leader next year. I could bank 10 grand, build the old resume and dodge the recession and then do the bike trip. I'm kinda leaning towards B, but who knows how hard the travel bug will bite come a few months. The obvious drawback of both plans is the lack of benefits of putting roots down somewhere: my bed, my kitchen, my guitars & amps, girlfriend, friends, familiarity. But honestly, all I see is stagnation when I look at that and it looks awful. It's gonna take at least a few more years of roving for me to want to stay, so either way I think the plans hold water.

Media Review: Since I last updated, I've read No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy and A Prayer for Owen Meaney, by John Irving. No Country read way too quickly and the movie script is so close to the book that I couldn't picture anything, maybe I'll pick it up again in few years. I like the style though and I will read more McCarthy in the future. As for Owen Meany, it's definitely pure Irving, but I just didn't connect with the story like I did with Garp. Oh, and I've been listening to way too much Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown lately. So good. Check out Whiskeytown if you think you don't like country but want to listen to good music.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

terminal case

March 23-29:

Life is good. It's been a bit strange to have worked that past 20 days straight, but there's a feeling of accomplishment along with this exhaustion. To clarify, I've probably mentioned that we have to do an additional 80 hours of independent volunteer work over the course of the year. Well, some of my teammates and I decided that it would be best to grind a little and try to knock out most, if not all of that time while we're still here in Maryland. It makes sense to us: we don't have a particularly taxing job during the week, we have weekends off, we have personal vehicles here to use, we know the area, after spending all week inside it's nice to get out and get dirty working outside and when we're at a cool location we won't have to worry about passing up something fun on the weekend because we're scrambling to get hours in. After yesterday's beach and trail clean up at Elk Neck State Park, I have 40 hours on the books. It feels pretty damn good. We were supposed to get another 10 hrs in today, but the site sponsor flaked. Whatevs, I'm not complaining about finally having a day off to sleep in, be lazy, do some laundry, buy some books and collect some thoughts.
There's not much to not about work. It's still work. The teachers are appreciative, the kids are fun sometimes, occasionally I'll do something neat like make a 10 ft banana split out of butcher paper, but it's mostly business as usual. I've decided I can't be a public school teacher by choice/passion. Too much damn discipline, it angries up my blood and I wouldn't be happy doing it. Other teaching, we'll see. I won't starve.
I guess the past few days and weeks of my life could be compartmentalized into lots of: working(at and away from school), exercising, reading, cooking and thinking. If we could add an electric guitar and a motorcycle to this mix I'd be the happiest boy, but I'm content with maintaining happy to happier right now.
The exercising has been fantastic. I've been staying with a super heavy core workout on Mondays and Fridays with the rest of the team. On Wednesdays we go to the giant YMCA 20 minutes away and I do heavy duty circuits with a 55lb bar. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I've been running/walking about 5 miles, much more running than walking lately. This week I'm going to start waking up early to jog a couple miles and do a little yoga before breakfast. This has definitely been paying off. I forgot to weigh myself, but I'd guess I've lost about 10lbs since I've been here, but I don't really lose weight, I just lose size. I gone two belt holes in since I've arrived and I expect to have to buy a new belt in a month or two. Good times. I also crushed another PT test on Friday: 44 pushups/min, 43 situps/min and a 7:07 mile. That's 56 seconds better than 2 weeks ago. Fuck yes.
So far, I've been reading about a book a week. Reach of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, The Driver by Alexander Roy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and The World According to Garp by John Irving. The Kundera and Irving books have definitely been the most enjoyable and have made the most impact. Unbearable Lightness is the first philosophy book disguised as a novel I've ever read, and liked. Lot's of insightful and thought provoking nuggets about life, relationships, love, cheating set in 1970's Czechoslovakia. I would definitely recommend if you want to dive head first into some terse, but dense material. Garp blew me away. I've always wondered if I would find an author that I thought could accurately write by biography and make it interesting. I'm confident John Irving could do it in his sleep. Garp is one of my new favorites and I can't wait to read the rest of Irving's books. It's a ridiculously well told story that provides incredible ideas and insight about family roles especially fatherhood, the impact of love and lust and just about life in general. I'd recommend it to anyone. I've heard the movie is decent and I could definitely see Robin Williams as Garp, but I won't watch it for a while. I don't to ruin this latent joy.
A few weeks ago I wrote that long diatribe about my romantic life and ant first I'd say it's a bit premature. But really, I've thought more about it and I'm more content with where that part of my life is. I'm transient for a reason, I like it. I've always had a bit of a grass is greener mentality and I don't think that's such a bad thing. Not that I'm constantly hating current situations, but usually things could be a little better and that leads me to new wonderful places and the people there. Sounds like a decent life. It might also have to do with the fact that I really can't think of anything I want to do after this than get a motorcycle and ride around the continent for awhile. I'll settle eventually, once some certainty comes. Perhaps when I figure out place/job/person that really holds me and I want to be held at that point. We'll see, for now I like things the way they are.
When I start experiencing cooler things, I'll write about them, but for now you get access to my diary from my hope chest, next to my ballerina jewelry box.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


March 12-22

I apologize for not updating in a while, but there hasn't been much of note. Not even any deep thoughts. I've been working everyday for the last two weeks straight, either at the school or hard labor on the weekend for independent service hours. I've basically been on autopilot. Just trying to keep myself busy at school, mainly being patient with the kids that clearly need one-on-one. I've also been exercising a lot, running and walking five miles on days when not doing circuit training. Clothes are feeling a little looser, so that's always nice. Overall I've been coasting. No real highs or lows. Physically I feel a little worn out, but it's the good feeling. Mentally I'm not wracking my brain over anything, other than the occasional what-if session for what I should do next year. But that usually just ends in me wanting to just ride my motorcycle for awhile. I bouncing between wanting to be planted and constant motion.
After getting a real taste for public school education, I'm pretty certain I don't want to teach. I have a ridiculous amount of respect for teachers, but I don't have "it" in me to be happy and teach. So I'm not so sure if the TEFL thing in Asia will happen. Whatevs, time to think about other options and locations.