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.