Some "Only In Seattle" Pictures

Mount Rainier in the background.  Gorgeous Seattle skyline

Pike Place Market all decked out for the holidays. Note: the Christmas carrot.

This is the exterior of the Experience Music Project.  I will be there for a crazy huge New Years' Eve party.  It's a funky bit of architecture.


Rising Up To The Challenge

I survived this week!  The celebration went off smoothly, although not without a hitch.  There were some technical difficulties with the translation devices.  I am not 100% happy with my performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" but I did get a lot of compliments on it.  We got a lot of great feedback about it and overall, I am pleased with the result.  Laura and I took off early as a well deserved break.  We went out for drinks and karaoke with some of the volunteers.  I had a few and bought a round for my compatriots.  It was a good time but all of the stress and the late night meant I was dragging in a big way on Friday.  I left early then too but that was because I knew I would be working the weekend.

I just completed a weekend of utility discount assistance.  We got to give people half off their utility bills which was cool, although it is only for customers of Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities who are not in subsidized housing so we had to turn a lot of people away.  It was good that I got to make some good contacts working for the City of Seattle.  Muang was there on Saturday so we got to chat most of the day.  I am so beyond pumped for coming back to Michigan!  3 more day and then I will be home!  Book your time now because I am going to be a busy lady!


Quick Vent

I'm super stressed right now!  We have the New Citizens' Celebration on Thursday.  I'm in charge of the RSVP list.  Muang and Laura are being awesome with covering the other detail stuff.  We have cool centerpieces with portraits of famous people that are on the citizenship test.  Part of the stress is from the fact that I have so many other things eating up my time right now.  Tomorrow is the Employment and Citizenship Holiday Party.  That will take half of my day.  I also have a training for utility assistance on Wednesday.  Too much stuff!!!!


Behold, A Social Life

While I still need more interaction in my life, this weekend is looking rather promising.  Tomorrow I will be hanging out with Laura and Muang while we have a training on how to administer ESL tests.  While that isn't a particularly social activity, it will be time out of the office with some fun folks.  Saturday is salsa dancing with little Laura and possibly some accompaniment from fellow ACRS folks.  Sunday is an Americorps gathering at Laura's place.  It should be a fun filled weekend.  I'm really looking forward to it.

On another positive note, one of my students became a citizen on Tuesday.  I was not at all certain that she would pass but through her hard work and dedication, she is now a citizen of the United States.  She will also be able to sponsor her son to come over from China.  This job is turning me into a patriot.  The lengths that people are willing to go to for coming to and staying in this country never cease to amaze me.  I am so happy that I am having this experience.


Resolution Revolution

Time took time to talk to me today.  Alliterations aside, I think it went well.  I'm glad that we can have a reasoned discussion.  He's not very good at conflict mediation because that's not his style of communication.  He's a storyteller so he kept giving anecdotes rather than telling me what he requires in order for the household to function.  I tried to be as clear as possible about the changes that I need made.  We agreed to wait 10 minutes before talking when angry.  I hope he can hold to this when the need arises.  He was kind of condescending when we talked because he kept using phrases like "I guess I expected you to act like an adult and know what to do."  I find that highly ironic since the immature actions were all his.  I admitted my wrongdoing but emphasized that none of it was the least bit intentional.  He apologized for his hurtful words but I don't think that he truly understood that the words weren't what really mattered.

I explained as clearly as I could that I was most disturbed by the actions that he took which did nothing to solve whatever problem was at hand.  He still believes that his anger is not the main problem, but communication is.  While I believe our communication leaves a lot to be desired, his outbursts are the reason why we need to improve communication.  I can't do anything to change his anger so I focus on what I can change.  I hope this works to solve things.

In other news, I went out with Russ and Beth on Friday to see Harry Potter 7.  I was really happy with it and of course, I cried when Dobby died.  After the movie, we went out to dinner at a pretty swanky place.  The executive chef was on the original Iron Chef and is a James Beard award winner.  I had the chicken souvlaki. Russ had a bacon cheeseburger (quelle surprise!) and Beth had the red panang prawn curry bowl.  From the wait staff, it seemed the upscale version of Hooters.  All of the girls needed a sandwich.  After the whole "fat ass" debacle, I'm thinking about size more than I have been.  I guess it's kind of a good thing that I haven't had size on my mind so much lately.  Also, my clothes are fitting looser than they were when I got here so thank you, city life/ridiculous hills of Seattle!



Today I am truly thankful for:

  • A roof over my head
  • Russ and Beth for giving me a roof when I didn't have one of my own
  • A wonderful job that allows to help people and make a living at the same time
  • The internet and phones so I can keep in touch with my friends and family back home and around the world
  • New friends who are willing to open their hearts and homes to others
  • Unexpected walks that turn out to be quite delightful
  • Making it to the bus stop at the same time as the bus so you don't have to wait at all
  • Bus drivers working on Thanksgiving, allowing people all over the city to see their loved ones
  • Three and a half year old kiddos that remind me so much of my cousins that it makes my heart ache
  • The knowledge that no matter how low I might feel at any point, I have so many people who love me enough to pick me up and set me right


What Goes Up...

Another fight...no, fight isn't the right word...another demonstration of immaturity by Time this evening.  I am so sick of this.  I wrote an e-mail to my landlord to explain the situation because I can't handle it.  I sent it to Laura first so nothing is too unreasonable or stated in a great deal of anger.  I need clean towels.  There was a lot of laundry going on this weekend so I thought "I can wait and do it Monday night."  Well, when I went downstairs, there were two loads of laundry on the machines and then an additional load in the dryer.  I started mine in the washer, hoping that whoever's laundry it was would come to collect their belongings before I needed the dryer.

  I kept waiting to hear the latch go on the stairs down to the laundry room.  Nine o'clock rolls around.  We aren't supposed to do laundry after 10 p.m. so I decide I will try to fit all three orphaned loads on the dryer.  Time comes in and goes downstairs.  Ah ha!  An owner comes to lay claim upon his poor forgotten whites!  He is down there for a longer than average time.  Expected I suppose since he had a lot of laundry to wrangle.  He comes up in a mood!  He says that someone threw his laundry on the floor.  I did my best to keep everything on the machines but when you leave three loads downstairs, there is only so much I can do.  That's what I can't wrap my head around. Why did he have three loads downstairs?  That means that he had to have had both machines full and then brought down another, took out clothes from the dryer to transfer over and then just left clothes downstairs.  I don't get that.

Okay, back to Time.  Last time he yelled at me, he said that all he wanted was honesty.  So I thought, "here's my chance to prove that I can be honest and own up to my mistakes!"  I tell him that it is my laundry in the dryer and that I did my best to get everything to stay but there were a lot of items, as previously mentioned.  I did my level best to be respectful of his things but there is only so much that I can do.  He goes on about how stuff like this didn't happen before, only since I moved in.  I doubt the veracity of that statement but that is neither here nor there.  I chose to not respond and just keep washing dishes.  Well, like all bullies, he was looking for a reaction.  When he didn't get one, out of nowhere, he says "fat ass!"  Being blindsided by such an unrelated comment, my only words to him in this whole scenario were "How is that relevant?"  And then goes on to say, "Only big people do that.  Fat ones like you."  I fail to see what my BMI has to do with anything other than my BMI but apparently there is some sort of correlation.  I suspect it's much like murder rates and ice cream sales.  Anyway, I needed to put that out there for the world to see.

In an unrelated note, Seattle freaks out over snow!  It's kind of cute.  Like a puppy seeing its reflection in the mirror for the first time.  Granted, the insane hills make the tiniest bit of ice an issue but the reaction seems way out of proportion to the actual precipitation.  We shall see!



Three of my students passed their citizenship tests yesterday!!!  They all thanked me profusely for my help.  I feel great about it because I put a lot of effort into their studying.  I worked with all three of them in private on a regular basis.  I am so glad that the work paid off.  I am a bit sad because they were fun to have in class.  Also, because they left, I have a bunch of new students that got bumped up to my class.  It means that I have to slow way down to accommodate them.  I don't like it.  I suppose it's because I liked being the one to push all of them and make the class as valuable as possible.  Talk Time is going well too.  We had 20 students in class today and we have a steady supply of volunteers so it is much more productive for the students.  Things are going really well!



I'm sick.  Yakima is in central Washington and therefore, the rain shadow of the Cascades.  That makes the air super dry and when combined with being around 1,000 people who work with children and poor people makes for the perfect conditions for being sick.  The drive there and back was gorgeous.  I got sort of bummed out because Evan quit Americorps to do the exact same job at ACRS but for more money.  That meant that he didn't come so it was Aaron, Alex and me on the way there.  During one of our evenings together, it came out that Alex doesn't care if was we know him as a person which I find slightly disturbing/perturbing.  I don't really feel like blogging more about that.  In fact, I feel like sleeping...so that's what I'll do.


Yakima Bound

Sorry that it has been so long since I posted anything.  I had a temporary internet issue that has since cleared up. My wireless connection returned as mysteriously as it left.  Anyway, I am headed to the SERVES conference today.  It's in Yakima which is about 3 hours away.  I'm not really pumped about being away from my students but I am excited for the bonding with my fellow Americorps volunteers.  I get to talk with Laura and Alex a bit.  Laura and I hang out outside of work but I never see Evan or Alex.  This should be a good chance to really get to know my co-workers.
Time and I have been getting along better.  Actually, 95% of the time we get along fine.  It's just when he flies off the handle and goes all insane/angry.  Then there is awkwardness afterwards because he doesn't mean anything by it and I take it like it means something.  The problem is, I'm not OK with that.  Before you reach for anger, you should always try to solve a problem without raising your voice.  It's frustrating but it makes me feel good that even though I start crying, I can still keep my head about me.  I may not have total control over my body but I am able to use some of the conflict resolution training that I have had in my own life.


Maggen Calls It Balance

So...I had a shitty day today.  I guess it was bound to happen.  Yesterday was the WAESOL Conference so I only had a one day weekend.  I did a couple loads of laundry.  It stopped raining and I was completely out of food so a trip to Trader Joe's was in order.  I got on the bus as usual but the bus was really slow on takeoff.  Turns out the bus was having problems.  My bus broke down.  I usually take the 48 but the 8 passes the same stop where we broke down at.  It doesn't stop at the exact same place near Trader Joe's but I was told that one of the stops is only 2 blocks from where I normally get off.  It was pouring rain at this point.  Also, the umbrella that I bought in Taiwan that has lasted me 4 years broke this week so I did not have an umbrella on my person at time.  I was also wearing a sweatshirt instead of a coat, for example, that might provide some level of rain protection.  I got turned around because I was at a different place than usual so I ended up heading the wrong way at first.  After I had realized I was going the wrong way, I turned around just in time to get soaked by some asshole driving through a puddle.  Did I mention that I was wearing Chucks as well?  So I squished and sloshed up the hill to Trader Joe's and got some delicious and reasonably priced groceries, including some chevre with honey that I'm going to eat on the mini baguettes that I have in my freezer.  On my way back, it had stopped raining but it was still pretty slick, especially since downhill momentum can be troublesome.  I stepped on some diamond plating over some sort of utility thing and slid.  I scraped my knee which just made me mad.  I also messed up my ankle even more.  It's been bugging me for a while but that just aggravated it.  I had to wait a long time for the bus because it's Sunday and it is only supposed to run every half hour which in reality means every 45 minutes.  I was wet and cold and hurting when I got home.  I accidentally slammed the door because the doors are really light and I have my window open which makes it really easy to do.  When I came back into the kitchen, Time was rinsing his rice with more brooding and malice than the grains deserved.  Then he started yelling at me about slamming doors.  I tried to apologize and let him know that I will try to avoid doing that in the future but he wasn't hearing it.  He called me a bitch which set me off.  I started crying and I was all kinds of pissed.  It was 6 o'clock in the evening and he was mad at me for waking him up.  If it were midnight, I would definitely see him being angry but it was evening.  Also, I said I was sorry and that I would try to fix the problem in the future.  After a while, he came back in and apologized and said he didn't know what came over him.  He had a tough day too I guess but that still doesn't justify what he said or how he approached the situation.  At Trader Joe's, I bought veggie broth so I could finally use the leeks and potatoes that I bought at the Farmer's Market last weekend to make soup.  I started cooking the onions and garlic while I was chopping the leeks but I was so upset that I left them too long that I burned the garlic and had to start over again.  Anyway, the soup turned out great.  I put it through the blender so it is really creamy despite only having a little bit of butter to saute the garlic and no cream whatsoever.  Time and I talked it out and everything is fine now.  He really liked my soup.  I am bringing it in to work tomorrow to share with everyone.  I'm proud of how it turned out.  Tomorrow I have to make brownies to bring in on Tuesday since I told Ka Yun I would to repay him for lunch on Thursday.
On a happier note, Friday was the AmeriCorps Launch Day.  Aaron and Evan both cancelled on me so I ended up going alone.  There was 900 AmeriCorps volunteers in one room.  It is amazing since each one will serve at least 1700 hours which means that 1.5 million hours of community service were represented there.  That is an amazing thought.


Sank You, Teecha

I am feeling really good about teaching lately.  So many of my students have been going out of their way to tell me that I am a good teacher and they like me.  I would be satisfied with teaching as it is but now that I know that my students get a lot from my energy and enthusiasm.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are definitely my favorite days because I get citizenship and talk time.  I think part of it is the subject matter that I am teaching.  Laura and Alex have been teaching Vocational ESL classes for 8 hours a day the past 2 weeks.  I don't think I could get so pumped about that.  It is so endearing when they try to thank me.  Also, I think my name has been changed to "Teecha."  The "r" sound is really hard for speakers of Asian languages so it gets dropped a lot.  Asian culture is so welcoming and open to someone who is willing to make the effort.  Today, we had a new volunteer and we went out to dim sum after class.  He's a cutie from Hong Kong.  We had some pretty solid food and part of Chinese culture dictates that you have to make sure everyone gets enough to eat which usually means putting food on other people's plates.  My usual translator for class never eats that much so we kept piling food on her plate.  Once we had gotten our fill, the new volunteer stole the bill!  That is so typical Chinese except usually there is a fight for the bill and he stole it and went to pay before we could even try to take it.  I have had two of my students pass their exams so far but I had very little to do with their success.  I have two students that come in every week and do a mock interview/tutoring session.  Their interview is next month.  When they pass, I will feel really great because I had a large part in their preparation.


Hopeless Optimism

I had a lovely weekend.  Sorry that there are so many photo blogs but there is so much to look at here.  I want to share everything I see.  I'm realizing that I am capable of being happy almost anywhere.  I find beauty wherever I look.  I choose to be happy.  I am annoyingly optimistic.  Never would guess that someone on antidepressants would be so bloody contented!
I knew I had to take a picture when I saw this sign on my way to work.  Here's to a great band!

The colors of the leaves are so gorgeous!

Sunday Farmer's Market in Ballard

More gorgeous produce!

I'm a sucker for flower photos.

There were lots of street musicians since there is so much foot traffic at the Ballard Market.

I went to a specialty cheese shop called The Calf and Kid.  Heaven!


Beautiful Day, Great To Be Alive

This was the sky while I was waiting for the bus.  Gorgeous!
I pass this sign every day.  Have yet to see a kangaroo.
The view out my front door this morning.
Our lovely ACRS building!
This is painted on the fence I pass on the hill.  It never fails to make me smile. =)


Self-Awareness 101

I've been busy busy busy as of late.  Weekends less so, but it is a necessary respite.  Christine Gregoire, governor of this fine state, had to reduce the budget by 6.3% to compensate for shortfalls.  As part of the cuts, funding for citizenship programs was eliminated.  This means that as of December 1, there is a distinct possibility that my program will be cut and the people that I work with have to find new work.  ACRS is fighting it but there are no guarantees.  It is a stressful time for everyone but I find it coming up at odd times.  I have to think about it when I'm making copies.  Will we go through that many in a month and a half?  It is really sad.  I will still have a place because of Americorps but I won't be able to keep doing what I'm doing.  I am starting to get into the swing of things.  I've discovered some things about myself.

  • I love teaching.  I always kind of knew that in some way, shape or form but now I know for sure.  My classes are the highlight of my week.  It brings me so much joy and satisfaction.
  • I really am as altruistic as I always hoped I was.  I sort of told myself that I would help people when I got done with school but never had to prove it.  I'm glad that I can deliver on all of those promises I made to myself.
  • I need my friends.  I hate not having them here.  I'm trying to deal without them but it isn't easy.  They are the ones who give me strength.
  • I can make do on my own.  Although my friends and family are thousands of miles away, I am finding a way to cope.  Cooking feeds my soul.  Sharing the food I make amplifies the feeling.  I brought in mahi mahi curry on Monday and brownies on Thursday.  Teaching is filling a hole too.  I make a difference.  What I do is not unique.  I help people fill out forms.  That is basically what I do.  The will to do it is the rare thing.  That knowledge gives me comfort.
I will try to post more.  I know there are a few people who follow these scribblings of mine so I want to make sure there is something to look at.


Without Further Ado

Living with two guys.  Of course, the seat is up. 
For reals claw foot tub. 


I'm so sorry for not posting sooner.  I meant to but this week has been insane.  ESL classes started and I worked almost 50 hours this week.  Yesterday, I went to Safeway and Trader Joe's.  I got a lot of good stuff and it was all paid for by the government.  I got my EBT card and leggings in the mail on Friday.  I felt very Seattle yesterday.  Not quite hipster but looking cool in gray leggings and the blue dress that I bought in Germany with my ugly gray sweater.  I got some chai latte powder from Trader Joe's that is all kinds of delicious.  I also bought some mahi mahi chunks and will be making a curry to bring in to work on Monday.  I will post pictures later today maybe.  I know that you have heard that before.  I will do my best to follow through.


Anthony's Song

I'm moved out of Russ and Beth's!!!!  They have been so helpful beyond anything that I had any right to expect. I'm still unpacking and will post pictures tomorrow.  I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm in my new place.  Thank goodness!


Happy Birthday To Me!

I'm no longer homeless!  I found a place that is only 17 minutes by bus from work.  It's on a wicked steep hill but I only need to go up 2 block of the hill to get to the house.  Utilities are included in the rent.  I will be living with a gay guy and a straight guy.  I met the straight one today.  His name is Jim.  He has a 13 year old son that visits on the weekends.  It's one bathroom for all three of us.  The kitchen isn't that big but it's workable.  I can move in now.  I am so excited for all of the extra time that I will have in my life!  I can bring in food to share at work.  Speaking of food at work, Laura made cupcakes for me so I had roses and baked goods at my desk this morning.  That's what I call a good start to the morning.  I brought my leftover daal for lunch but the Americorps gang, minus Evan went out to the pho restaurant down the street.  They ended up paying for me even though everyone is just as poor as me.

I got all of the ESL classes filled on Friday so that was a major project completed.  I also got to be the official case manager for my first N-400 application.  It's really strange that I started less than 3 weeks ago and I'm already holding the future of someone's citizenship in my hands.  Xiangping has been leading me through the process so I definitely have a safety net but she is leaving on vacation next week so that net is leaving soon.  I also will be in charge of all the citizenship classes in the I.D.  Tomorrow, I have my citizenship class and then Talk Time which should be more fun.  It's intended to be a conversation club rather than an English class but we have too many students for it to be mostly discussion.  We are getting a volunteer which will help reduce the student:teacher ratio.  The volunteer also speaks Vietnamese which is going to be a huge help since all of the participants are from Vietnam.  Tomorrow should be a good day!


Special Delivery

I have gotten 2 boxes in two days.  The first was my new/old phone.  It's a refurb and kind of clunky.  It's intended for more of a business user but it still makes calls and sends texts so it'll get me by.  The second was a complete surprise.  Brett and Elizabeth sent me a tin of brownies!  It was very sweet of them and I just wanted to give a little public recognition.  They are intense like camping!  I was already having a pretty good day but that just made it better.  I got a lot of stuff tied up today along with another tutoring session with a student.  It's awesome that other people are seeing that I am capable and enthusiastic.  I am also getting more confident with Chinese.  Tomorrow will be kind of lame in the morning because I have an Americorps orientation "webinar."  This means that I won't be teaching my citizenship class.  That makes me sad but maybe if Xiangping talks to my students, I can get some more honest and constructive feedback on how to improve.  I also have my second Talk Time class.

After Talk Time, I have a meeting with Phong from Recovery Services to learn how to do Basic Food intakes.  On a related note, yesterday, Laura and Alex got a brush with how our clients live.  They were doing a basic food when the client disclosed he had TB.  Now, there's sort of a tizzy about getting us training on handling communicable diseases.


A Day At The Beach

First of all, no one warned me about the giant spiders in the Northwest.  Sweet lord!  They are HUGE!  Here is a picture shortly before its execution by Keen with a matchbox for scale.

My mom's friend, Cassie, invited me out with her family to ride a ferry and see the beaches.  It was a lovely day and I took lots of pictures.  Here are a few.

We hoped to see a seal or sea lion but unfortunately, we did not.
On our way to buy tickets.
It was just a bit windy on the ferry.
No one knew the name of the birds on the pilings but I still thought it was cool to see some wildlife.
We went to a beach after we rode the ferry.
Spiral-y driftwood.
I like this one.  A bit artsy but not too much so.
I was surprised to see how clearly the bird's foot prints were preserved.
I looked like an idiot taking this picture but it was worth it.  I love how it turned out.  It looks like Julia and Patrick are off to explore a new world.
The green and red kelp look really pretty together with the shiny rocks.
It looks like this wood goes on forever.  Another shot that I looked retarded getting but I like it.


Emotional Outburst Reason 4b

I need this weekend.  It's not that I'm that tired but I need some fun.  My life right now consists of waking up, riding the bus, working, riding the bus, a bit of time on the interwebs and then bed.  Rinse.  Repeat.  I also lost my key card which is really not cool.  I'm pretty sure that it is $25 to replace.  I thought that I had it on my sweater that I wore yesterday and had just forgotten to take it off but I presume that is not the case as it is not there now.

Part of the whole "no me time" thing is also the whole "no social life" thing.  I miss everyone back home.  It really sucks as I am without a telecommunications device at the moment.  I hate that I can't text Julia throughout the day or call Mikay to hear how the latest Waxies gig went.  I want to just sit on the couch and have a big discussion about nothing in particular with Nora.  Most of all, I want to be able to see everyone and get a great big hug.  I could use that about now.

Class went better yesterday but I'm still not feeling great about teaching skills and feeling really crappy about my Chinese skills.  We were calling about ESL classes and I got to hear Alex speaking Chinese and he totally kicks my ass.  I knew that I wasn't anywhere near fluent but I'm coming to the realization of just how far away I am.  Also, my students have incredibly limited English and they know that I speak some Chinese which means that if they have a question, they automatically resort to Chinese.  It also means that I can't help them.  That feeling of helplessness just gets heaped onto the pile of all the reasons why I need a hug.  Boo!


Becoming 李老师

I taught my first citizenship class today.  It didn't go terribly well.  I arrived at the church at 8:30 for a 9:00 start.  Since Xiangping didn't arrive with the keys until 8:45, I had some time to meet with a few students and talk to them.  I have several that will be having their interview in the coming months.  They got excited that I spoke Mandarin and I am happy to have the opportunity to practice so much.  Once class got going, I realized that it would not be as easy as I had hoped.  I was frustrated and so were my students.  I guess I had overestimated their English ability.  Thankfully, I have been provided with a translator.  Her name is Mee.  She is very shy and introverted which doesn't serve my purposes very well.  I felt quite bad for her since she had what seemed to be the whole class of thirteen talking at her.  They speak Cantonese mostly and even if it were Mandarin, they speak too quickly for me to understand.  Basically, they only want to be taught enough to pass the test.  While I understand why they want this, that attitude irritates me.  It did in high school and it does now.  I tried to give them what they want but they just wanted me to do things how the old teacher did it.  We had to go through four different incarnations of a dictation, trying different ways of doing things.  Any way, I struggled through and will be better next time.  I talked to Xiangping and she said that the first day is by far the worst.  A student brought in a sack of yummy plums.  Xiangping gave them to me so I spent a lot of the day opening conversations with "Want a plum?"  It was fun.  Xiangping took me out for lunch.  We got pho bowls which was quite nice for my cold.  I also had a human resources orientation, a follow up with the client I met on Friday and volunteer coordination meeting.  That was pretty much my whole day.  I stopped off at Safeway to pick up a few grocery items on my way home and Beth was pulling in to 139th as I was walking up so yet again, I didn't have to walk up the hill.  Now, I have to fix myself some dinner!


Finding Nemo

We went to the Seattle Aquarium today.  I didn't get any amazing photos but I did take some.  We met Beth's friend, Mary Beth there.  She volunteers there every other week as a diver to clean the tanks so we got to go in all of the behind the scenes areas.
This is a top down view from where the divers get in to the Windows on Washington Waters tank.
That is the biggest puffer I have ever seen!
Close-up in the tank that Mary Beth cleans.
Moon Jellies!  This is one of two tanks they have in the staff area.  I guess they don't live very long.
I didn't get any great pics of the sea otters but they were really cute, as otters are known to be.


Moving On Up!

After my nightmare day on Wednesday, I knew there was nowhere to go but up.  Proof positive: this was what I looked out on while on my way down the hill Thursday morning.  Friday was an even better day!  We had an IT orientation which took up an hour of my morning.  Shortly after that, Laura and I took a trip to Chinatown to see where I'll be teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We couldn't get in but a little Chinese lady stopped to ask us what we were doing.  She barely knew any English so I got to use Mandarin to get information!  I love that I am having so many opportunities to practice!  After we went to the church, we walked down King Street to a restaurant that was recommended to us by Alex, who is living in the International District for the time being. It's called Henry's Taiwan and it is super authentic.  Here is a picture of the 牛肉面 or beef noodles that I had for lunch.  It was just like the stuff I got while I was in Taiwan.  The noodles are fresh made by taking a giant log of noodle dough and then cutting strips off right into boiling water.  They are irregularly shaped and really thick and chewy.  It was wonderful!  Then, I got back to ACRS, had a little bit of time back at my cubicle, then got my first client contact.  Evan and I helped Xiangping do an intake for a new client.  It was so amazing to actually talk to someone who will be using the services we have to offer.  I know that's going to be the most rewarding part of the job.  After the intake interview, I had about half an hour back at my desk, burning CD's for my citizenship students and then it was off again.  Alex and I went to set up a table at the Vietnamese Resource Fair.  I hope I have more days like this.  I love being out and talking to people, rather than sitting in my cubicle.  I also got to spend some more time talking to Louis.  He did my job with Americorps twice and then came back as a regular employee.  It makes me feel good that he loved doing this so much that he was willing to stay with the same sucky pay for another go.  He also said he felt confident that I knew what I was talking about with citizenship and I could answer any general questions (i.e. non-case specific questions) that anyone could throw at me.  Beth came to pick me up at the Fair and then we went out to celebrate the end of Russ's weight loss contest.  I had a root beer float at a Hawaiian burger joint (although it was not called Big Kahuna Burger).  Yesterday was all kinds of interesting.  I went grocery shopping with Beth.  I was planning to make dinner last night but we ended up going to a "barbecue" at Russ's coworker/friend/WoW guildmate's house.  By house, I mean a manufactured home in a trailer park type community.  Yeah, apparently, Russ and Beth didn't know what we were getting into either but I got my fill of white trash chic.  That's really all I'm going to say about that.  Tonight, we will have fettuccine Bolognese with a sauce that has been simmering since yesterday so it should be awesome.  I'll add some fresh parsley right before service.  There will be some steamed asparagus for Beth and me and a salad for Russ.  It will be the first time they have my cooking.  I hope it goes well!


First Day.....

Yesterday was beautiful weather.  That's about all that can be said for it.  Walking to the bus stop was amusing because there was a traffic jam in the Starbucks drive-thru.  I got on the first bus OK.  I was texting Julia and such.  I got off at my stop with little ado.  I was confused, looking for the light rail track.  Eventually, I popped into the Pit of Hell to ask a very nice barista where I might board the LINK.  It's in Macy's, she tells me.  I was a half a block away the whole time.  I just had to go down an escalator (accessible through the mall) and onto the track.  Thanks to Google Maps, I already knew which track to head towards.  I was running to the train since it was already at the track but then I saw that this was the initial stop so I stopped running.  Bad idea.  The conductor gave me a bemused "Pick it up, fattie" head wave.  Once aboard, we got moving.  The light rail is so much nicer than the bus!  I guess I just look friendly and helpful because a kid got on and asked me how many stops to somewhere or other.  I had no idea but thanks to a handy dandy sign, I was able to give directions on my first day riding Seattle transit.  Well, I got off without incident., took a minute to get my bearings and headed to work.  I know that I had my phone on the walk because I had just received a text from Julia after I had arrived at the station.  I'm also fairly certain that I had it once I had entered ACRS because I distinctly remember hearing the little bubble noise my phone makes when I get a text.  Any way, at some point before I had even started work, my phone was no longer in my possession.  I had a very long day of introductions.  I had already met Alex and talked to Laura but it felt like I got introduced to half of the 240 person staff of ACRS.  I now have an ID badge and a keycard.  I also have my own cubicle.  It came with an old computer and no phone but both of those things were resolved today.  Tuesday will be my first citizenship class in Chinatown.  I'm nervous about that but I'm feeling better now that I have a lesson plan worked out.  Now to the dramatic part.  I stayed at work until about 5:30.  Google Maps told me to take the 48 bus to the U District.  Simple, yes?  Not so yes.  I was waiting at the Mount Baker Transit Center for a solid 45 minutes waiting for a 48 to the U District.  Note how I'm emphasizing where the bus says it's going?  I let 3 48's to Loyal Heights pass.  After some inquiries to my fellow riders, I discovered that the 48 to Loyal Heights goes to the U District.  Google Maps led me to believe these were different things.  After I had the knowledge bomb dropped on me, the next 48 broke down. The 48 after that chilled at the stop to help out the broken one.  I had a nice chat with a Chinese woman about why the second bus wasn't coming through to help us out.  Anyway, it was the sixth bus of the same route that had passed through that I finally boarded.  I got into another conversation with an older black lady that took the inevitable turn toward Anna Nicole Smith and peanut butter crackers (I seriously have no clue).  I got to my transfer and lo and behold, the last bus that I need already gone by.  Perfect time to call Russ and Be.....oh wait, my phone is gone.  Shit.  I took the bus that would get me the closest to where I needed to be but it turned the opposite direction after the highway.  This meant that after my already 2 hour trip from work would involve a 1.7 mile walk.  I was kind of crying at this point.  I was tired and frustrated and did I mention tired?  I got to the massive hill and a savior appeared in a pickup truck!  She stopped next to me and rolled down her window.  She said "I've trudged up this hill about a thousand times and I promised myself that when I got a car, I'd help out anyone I saw walking up."  That took a turn up but it didn't change the fact that Mom was waiting for some kind of indication that I wasn't abducted for 2 hours.  She was understandably panicked.  As soon as Russ opened the door, I got a huge hug and the phone with my mother on the other end.  She started sobbing which set me off full force.  I spent about a half hour describing my nightmarish day to her and dad and then went to bed.  Today was much better.  My commute this morning was fairly mundane except for missing my stop at the end.  I'm starting to settle in.   Tomorrow will be an IT meeting, heading to Chinatown to check out where I will be teaching, lunch in Chinatown, having my first client contact while I assist Xiangping, my supervisor, fill out an intake form for a client and going to the Vietnamese Resource Fair until about 7:00.  Should be a good day!


Lost or Stolen

I will flesh this out more later but right now I want to go to bed.  Long story short, I lost my phone this morning.  The labeling on the Seattle transit system leaves something to be desired.  I missed the last bus that headed the way I wanted to go and had to walk 1.7 miles from the 405 to Russ and Beth's house.  My mom freaked out when a man answered my phone and was in hysterics when I finally arrived in the door.  I'm tired and sick and just want to sleep so that's what I'll do.



I have a cold.  Of course, that's how the world works.  Actually, that's how my body works.  All of the running around and stress about housing wore down my immune system.  My reward requires a box of Kleenex.  Today, I spent some solid time watching Pushing Daisies and drinking tea.  I got some Irish Breakfast tea from Trader Joe's yesterday.  That stuff is wicked cheap and really good!  I will be starting my day with it every morning.  Also, to figure out how to time my commute, I just got back from walking to the bus stop and back.  It's drizzling so I broke out all of my rain gear.  It takes me less than 18 minutes to get from the house to the bus stop so I will leave the house 6:38 to get to work by 8:15.  Yeah, I'm pumped about this.  Russ and Beth's house is situated on a very steep hill.  Surprisingly enough though, I'm able to get back from the bus stop in 22 minutes meaning that the incline only adds 4 minutes onto the time with the decline.  I came back quite sweaty so overall, it was a damp sojourn but it did help out my cold.  Now that I'm sitting down again, my nose is congested.  I am also solidly tired from my 40 minutes of walking.  Hopefully, I will be able to parlez that into a solid night of sleep despite my lounging today and anxiety for tomorrow.



Ok, so I have a definite course of action now.  I am going to be staying with Russ and Beth for the next two to three weeks.  This means that for the next two to three weeks, I will be commuting an hour and a half both ways.  There is a light at the end of this tedious tunnel!  The reason I am waiting for 2-3 weeks is I have the perfect place that will be available then.  It is in a great house that is about 2 blocks from where I will be working.  Hopefully, all the sleeping in that I will get to do once I move in will cancel out the 5:30 mornings.  If it takes 3 weeks for the place to be ready, I will spend 45 hours of my life on the Seattle transportation system.  I will be solidly caffeinated and have a book at hand.  Today, my mom and I went to Ikea and got lots of apartment stuff.  I got a new duvet and cover, pillows, sheets, towels, side table, lamp, clothes rack and hamper.  We also hit up Target and got a super cute lunch tote and various snack foods and toiletries.  Trader Joe's furnished us with frozen lunches and jalapeño cilantro hummus to go with veggies as snacks.  We also got tea to keep my caffeinated and help ward off this cold that is trying to take hold.  After Target, we visited ACRS.  It is so pretty!  I met Jeff in person for the first time.  I got some necessary paperwork signed and saw where I will be working.  I also got my all important bus pass.  It is in my wallet and ready to go.  Tomorrow, I will time my walk to the bus stop to make sure that I get to work on time.  It may not be the most ideal situation for the moment but it will work out in the end.  Above all, I'm so relieved to know what the plan is!


Photos for "Must Have Wine"

The living area of the sober living house.  Not bad but...
Guys playing giant chess in Pioneer Park
I just liked the horse.
Requisite architecture shot (with flowers)
There were giant doily looking things hanging from the tree.  I don't know why they were there but they made for a cool picture.
I had to get some Pacific Northwest art for Mikay.
Can you find the damage?  The cop couldn't.  Apparently, the other guys car got knocked around a bit but we were just dandy.  Also, the person reflected is my mom.  You can see my sparkly shoes off to the left.