Pitter Patter of Little Feet

Bug had blood in her poo on the night of Thanksgiving.  Oddly enough, I am thankful for that.  It was dark so I thought it was just runny until we came inside and I saw the red dripping down her bum.  I was freaking out.  My first action was to get her in the tub so the blood didn't get anywhere.  The next thing was to call my mom.  It was a holiday so I couldn't go to the vet's office.  She talked me through and got me calmed down enough to get to work on taking care of my Bugadog.  Bug was also quite chilled so I was afraid it could be some sort of hemorrhage and she was going into shock.

I ran a hot bath for her to clean her up and bring up her body temperature.  As I was bathing and petting my dog, I realized how lucky I was to have something that I cared about so deeply.  I was crying and thinking over again "please, don't die".  I know that was probably a bit extreme but seeing blood dripping from someone you care about pushes you toward the extreme side of things.  Bug got all bundled up in a towel while I went to work researching treatment protocols and possible causes.  She was treated to white rice and boiled chicken for the whole weekend.

Bug is just fine now and glad to be pooing poo.  Owning a dog is expensive and time consuming.  I have to schedule around coming home to let her out.  There's lots of stuff that I would like to do that I can't because I have a dog.  The thing is, none of that stuff really matters.  I love having Bug in my life.  I know she likes having me as her mom.  My day is better because I have that adorable face looking up at me and a little warm presence at my thigh while I sit in bed and write this.  When Bug sprints down the hallway and then back to me and down the hallway again, the little pitter patter of her squirrel feet makes me giggle.  Having a dog is a huge commitment.  I'm saying that I will accept the additional burden for the next decade.  I can't wait for every minute of it.


The Perks of An Incompetent Predecessor

I have been in my job for about 4 months now and am currently attending a training on employment services for people with disabilities.  It will be really applicable information and I know it will make me better at my job.  One of the biggest frustrations when I started my job was that my predecessor was either incredibly negligent or completely apathetic about the well-being of her clients.  Either way, she left a rather large mess for me to clean up when I started.  Now that I am settling into my own groove (including 2 placements this quarter), people are seeing how good I am at this job.  I know that I would look good no matter what but the fact that she was so awful just makes me look that much better.  The father of one of her former clients expressed his profound gratitude for my help.  He said it was such a relief for him to have follow up phone calls and to know that his son's needs are being tended to.  I can only imagine how difficult life is for the parent of a child with a severe, persistent disability is without having someone who is supposed to help that never follows through.  The behavioral health department has been so wonderful in embracing Tory and me.  I feel so welcome in that department and now they know that their clients will get competent, dedicated service when they are referred to us.  There are also DVR counselors that are spreading the word about our agency.  It's great to be recognized for something that my team does well.  It's also great to be part of a team that has the passion and capability to do a job that most people can't do.


Good Day All Around

Today was a very good day.  Nothing particularly wonderful happened but a lot of small good things happened.  I got to work early.   I was able to do a lot of job search for my clients.  One of my clients has an interview on Wednesday that I am very hopeful about.  Stephanie and I will be teaching job club tomorrow and I think we have a lot of great content that will allow us to keep our students engaged.  Justin will be home a lot more this week so Bug won't be alone nearly as much.  This makes me feel far less guilty about going to work. Also, I have been asked to contribute a dessert for our United Way kickoff dessert auction.  I feel quite honored by this.  Last year, one of the desserts was sold for $1000!  I hope mine gets that much!


Life with Bug

I realize that a lot of things have been happening in my life and it would be great to have a chronicle of them.  I got Buffy who has been renamed Bug.  She is darling!  She wants to be with people all of the time but she's slowly learning that I am going to come back each day.  Her personality is also blossoming.  It adds some stress and work but having a dog is so worth it.


Vampire Slayer?

On Saturday, I went to the Seattle Humane Society.  I know that I can't afford a dog just this second but I wanted to know what the process was (and get some snuggle time in).  I have been cruising the local animal shelter websites to see what's available.  Some time last week, this scruffy blonde pup appeared on this website.  I was pretty much set on getting a chihuahua because they are one of the most commonly surrendered breeds.  They aren't bad dogs but people seem to forget that they are dogs, not fashion accessories so once that playful nip turns into an all out snarl, the uninitiated dog owner has nowhere to turn.

Well, I saw Buffy on the website and read her description.  She just wants a warm lap to sit on and she will be happy.  I thought, I could use a dog like that.  I want to take her to work with me so super high energy dog is out.  As is a yippy dog because I don't want to get complaints from my neighbors.  This little girl is shy (and a bit older) so she doesn't have much kennel appeal.  She was asleep when I went to visit her kennel.  I filled out the paperwork and met with an adoption adviser so I could finally get some one on one time with this darling dust mop.  Like I said, she was sleeping... HARD!  You'd have to be to fall asleep in a noisy kennel full of irritated strays.  When the volunteer got the lead around her neck, she looked very confused.  She was kind of staggering around, trying to get her bearings and sneezing any time she gave a good sniff.  Once we got to the "getting to know you" area, she looked around and then went up to my leg and sniffed (and sneezed).  I sat down and she immediately put her paws on my thigh, asking for permission to come up.  I didn't have any food or toy.  All she wanted was some cuddles.  She was temporarily distracted when the volunteer brought by some treats but looked up at me before going after them in a combination of "I'll be right back. Just have to get some noms." and "Is it alright if I go?"  This was after about 2 minutes of contact.

Every time the volunteer came back to check on us, Buffy would just kind of look up and get back to snuggling and the volunteer would make girly "aww" sounds because the scene was so darling.  I even did the diaper grip and Buffy knew what was going on.  She buried her little nose into the crook of my elbow.  I wanted to take her home so badly.  When it was time to part company, she was already attached to me (not like it was that hard to do) and was trying to follow me instead of the volunteer back into the kennel.  She has these sad, brown eyes that want so much to have a forever home.  I selfishly hope that no one else wants to meet her between now and the end of the month so I can be that home.


The World Stood Still

Ten years ago today, I was sitting in Mr. Herbert's social studies class when another teacher wheeled in a TV to show us the breaking news.  I remember for the first few hours not thinking it was that big of a deal.  The day continued somewhat regularly and I had no idea how the world would change.  I didn't know that the towers had collapsed until after I got home from school.  My mom was sitting in front of the TV.  Somehow it got real when it was on the big screen and Mom looked worried.

The next day was when the impact of this tragedy started to sink in.  I remember my optimistic nature was already showing because for a long time I argued in class for it being a mistake.  I thought no one would ever do that on purpose.  The planes just had a navigational error or something so it was a big mistake.  I think September 11th made me want to go into International Relations.  If people could talk and have their communication be effective, then we would never have to resort to violence.  We didn't have class for a week. We just had discussion.  A lot of people were scared.  Many cried.  No one knew the long impact that this would have.

Ten years later, I have a much deeper concept of the world.  I am an independent adult but my life and my generation will always be defined by that haunting image of the second plane careening into the tower with a plume of black smoke coming from the first.  So many people in their 20's and 30's already had the chance to become a fully formed adult when the attacks happened.  Others were too young to really know what was going on.  People my age were old enough to understand what was going on and young enough to have those event tattooed on them forever.  I am a child of 9/11.


One Year Later

As much as I believe that Facebook is taking over the world (myself included), it has provided me with a wonderful gift lately.  There have been "On This Day in 2010" runners.  September 8, 2010 found me excited to practice Chinese with native speakers so often.  I can't believe that it was one year ago that I was getting my SeaLegs and starting my AmeriCorps term.  I was planning on applying for the Peace Corps after my term was over.  I didn't know if would be able to attend Louise and Chris's wedding because I didn't know where I would be during October 2011.

In a single year, I have gone from a scared college grad who had no clue what to do with her future, let alone how to achieve those aims, to a full-time case manager working on a team and doing a job that makes each day a fabulous challenge.  I have health insurance, a solid living situation and complete financial independence.  What a difference a year can make!


Good Idea, Bad Idea.

Good idea: Getting two placements in one week.
Bad idea: Not having the paperwork on either of those clients to even begin job search, let alone get a job.

Good idea: Setting up a time for both of these people, who will be starting at restaurants, to get the food handler permits that are required by Washington state law.
Bad idea: Having one of those clients not show up, not call, and resent the implication that she was some how expected to follow through on these responsibilities for the job that she has been looking to get for the past year.

Good idea:  An Americorps volunteer that is intelligent, hard-working and just as weird as the rest of the team.
Bad idea:  Said volunteer having some problems prioritizing so she is doing lesson plan for some time far in the future while stubborn client is randomly clicking buttons rather than actually learning and retaining any of the information about food handling because she does not understand English.

Good idea: Meeting with father of a severely autistic client to pass on paperwork so that he can enroll in Medicare.
Bad idea: Having that meeting precisely align with the time that other placement is having her first day of work on the other side of the city.

Good idea: Being dedicated to client outcomes and general success of their recoveries.
Bad idea: Staying at work until 6:30 on the Friday before a holiday weekend to try to ensure that only to have the client fail the test anyway.


Life Lessons from Rugby

Due to some recent developments, I have come to realize some things about the way that I live my life.  A lot of these lessons I learned from playing rugby.  When I first started playing, I had no idea what I was doing but I was really excited about doing it.  Most girls come in never having played a contact sport before.  They are afraid to get hurt.  The ironic thing is that when you go in half-hearted and fearing pain, you get hurt even worse.  It's when you run into contact at pace and diving in with all your might that you end up with a lot fewer bruises and way more tries.  You have to adapt to things as they change.  The game plan you had before the whistle blew might not work for you but you have to stick with the play once it's been called and give it a chance to work.  All of this goes to the fact that I'm really happy where I am and how things have worked out.  I think that being open to the universe guiding you along puts you where you need to be with the people you should have around you doing the things that you are meant to do.

So far, nothing has gone the way that I planned.  In high school, I thought I might go to U of M or some other prestigious school and then on to law school.  Then, I set foot on Grand Valley's campus and knew that it was the right choice for me.  I spent all of those years learning Spanish only to find that Chinese language and culture presented a far more intriguing challenge.  I was absolutely certain that I was going to do NCCC and then go on to Peace Corps.  As it turned out, I was going to be stuck idling at my parents' house for way too long for NCCC to work out so instead I did State/National Americorps.  Because I wanted to do Peace Corps, I took a leap of faith to Seattle.  Those plans that I had before didn't work out but they are what got me to the next step.  I now have a job that is so immensely satisfying and that I am well on my way to becoming great at.

All of my life, people have told me that I would do great things and succeed at whatever I tried my hand at.  Deep down, I never really believed it because I knew it's not just about how well you do something but also who you know and the social aspects of things.  Now, I'm realizing that most people are fine with mediocrity. They can accept doing the bare minimum.  I am so glad that my parents raised me to never accept good enough if I can do better.  That work ethic, along with intelligence, is what is getting me noticed.  I am starting to build really great connections with people because of my reputation for excellence.  I know it sounds cocky but there is a reason why I'm the only Americorps member who was able to get a full-time position at ACRS immediately following my term.  Part of it is timing but I am going to take at least a bit of credit for my own success.

Part of that success is from diving in.  I've always been scared but the universe had proved to me without doubt that if I go into something with all my heart, it works out well.  It makes me sad that others can't live that way because there are so many things in my life that I would be missing if I had faltered or taken the safer option and kept a way out.  Go into contact and keep your support with you.  Trust your teammates.  Dive for the try line when you are close.  Even if you don't make it, you don't have to wonder after the whistle blows what would have happened.


Wisdom for the Wise

Update from the ACRS Picnic: Ken, Stephanie and I all ended up on the Employment and Citizenship Team.  In addition, I was the team captain.  We won the event that I was in but the Admin team took the sparkle ball of victory.

However, the more important thing in my life is the wisdom tooth related pain that has been prominent for the past few weeks.  It's been coming up for a few months but recently, it has really been cramping my style.  Since I have dental coverage now, I thought I would get it taken care of.  No use living in pain if you don't have to, right?  Well, I made an appointment for Friday afternoon so I could take the weekend to recover.  It turns out that the dentist did not have the supplies she needed to do the procedure.  She wrote me a scrip for pain killers and set up an appointment for this morning.  The procedure isn't even what I thought it would be.  Instead of taking the tooth out which isn't really necessary in my case due to my large mouth (yes, it is fitting), she wanted to remove the gum tissue that is still on top of the tooth that causes the pain every time I bit down.  I figured this would be done old school by cutting away the tissue.  I was wrong!

She initially tried poking at stuff with just a numbing cream on which was not flying for me at all.  I need Novocaine if you are removing live tissue from my mouth.  She used laser cauterization to remove the tissue.  Among other things, this meant that I could smell my own flesh burning while the procedure was done.  I also have a significant portion of my gums burned black.  It's really uncomfortable for the time being.  I have some more pain killers but I don't know if it will get me through the healing process.  I will be using Benadryl to be able to sleep tonight even with the Vicodin.

A Particularly Apt Cartoon



Tomorrow is the ACRS Picnic and Summer Games.  Even though supported employment is half behavioral health and half employment, somehow we get stuck on the E&C team for the games.  Mostly because the people in that department don't really go for things.  Everyone wants to be seen in a certain light and is afraid to be silly.

On the bright side, Ken and my new Michigan buddy, Stephanie, live in a constant state of silliness.  It is fantastic to have a group of people that I can laugh with.  However, being so tight knit as our own separate department has meant that I no longer exist to the other factions in the department.  It's bullshit and I don't need them to like me because supported employment doesn't report to employment but I am likable and care about serving my clients to the best of my ability.  One would think that in a non-profit, that would gain one respect from one's colleagues, which on the whole is true but for some reason that department is really petty.


New Place/ First Day

My bed (I can finally sleep soundly without any door slamming or yelling)

My crazy huge walk-in closet (yes, that is a pirate costume)

My living room through the kitchen

The kitchen through the living room.  I have a bright red table with matching chairs.

My new Bare Minerals face and one piece of my new wardrobe.  Quite nice if I do say so myself.

The new Keens that my parents bought for me as a Happy "you are a grown up with health insurance and a giant closet" present.
Today was the first day at full time.  I got a lot of congratulations and a bamboo from my parents.  It was mostly spent in training so my brain is not working.  I was looking all grown up but my makeup was less than professional.  As a result of that feeling and the fact that it was GORGEOUS out today, I decided to get off the bus early and pop into Ulta to buy BareMinerals makeup.  My mom has been using it for years so I knew it was good.  I tried it out and I look good (as evidenced by the photo above).  I also got new mascara and eyeliner at Target.  I feel so grown up.  I was also on the phone to get my new bank account set up.  I was looking at my benefits options and I am so happy that all of these things are working out all at the same time.  I am going to have more money than I know what to do with after Muang moves in.  I am only making a few grand a month but after surviving on the Americorps stipend, I am so much less limited by finances.


Last Day

Today is my last day of my Americorps term!  I am thrilled to have made it all the way through and really sad to leave my department and students but I am so ecstatic to have no lapse in employment.  I have already started my training plan for SE and my first full day is Monday.  Today is a big Americorps appreciation BBQ.  Also, I still haven't posted pictures of my new place.  I am aware of this.  I will soon.  It's on my weekend to-do list.

Also,  Happy Friday!


Luck is When Opportunity Meets Preparation

I am employed.  I am in my wonderful (and peaceful) new apartment. I have some great friends out here and back in Michigan.  Part of me feels so incredibly lucky and like I don't deserve all of this to happen at once.  Another part feels like I have been working my tail off for almost a year to get to this point.

I started working already.  I'm over my hours for Americorps so that gives me extra time to work on Supported Employment.  Not only does this give me the leg up in getting my feet under me but it also means that I'm getting paid more than I was expecting this month.

Muang is doing the Dirty Dash on Saturday and I will be going to cheer her on.  Sunday, SHOPPING SPREE!!!!



I am free. I feel so grown up now that I have my own place.  I need to build up a pantry and build a home from an empty apartment but it will be MY home.  To add to the grown up feeling, I
I will continue at my current agency as a Supported Employment Case Manager.  Supported Employment is a special combination of behavioral health and employment, using competitive employment and integration as a part of the therapeutic process.

I don't have internet in my new place yet but I will soon.  Until that time, I won't really be able to post that much.  To follow up on my last post, I showed the e-mail to my supervisor and was shocked.  She said "Wow, the doctor must have been having a really bad morning."  Most doctors appreciate the feedback because they want their work to be useful, which means saying the right things so the waiver will get accepted.  I haven't sent a response to her and I doubt I will.  I did send an e-mail to several people, including the doctor, thanking them for their contribution to this client's application.  Anyway, I will be at my agency after my Americorps term is over so I will have a chance to learn the outcome of the whole thing.


Why My Morning Sucked

Some clients are unable to successfully complete the citizenship exam due to medical or cognitive impairments to their learning ability.  As such, there is a Medical Waiver for applicants so they can get citizenship even if they can't learn English or the civics questions required of most people.  It's a medical waiver so it requires that a doctor provide a detailed but accessible account of why the patient is unable to learn.  USCIS occassionally comes out with new versions of the form as they did late last year.  One of my clients is getting this waiver so I sent the following e-mail last night to both her case manager and the staff psychiatrist that already completed the old form.


Here is the most recent form of the medical waiver from USCIS. They are picky about which format they accept so I will send in the old format for *client*’s application and then we can fill out the new version to bring with her to the interview. She will need an interpreter to come with her to the interview since she will get the language waiver. The answers from her old form look great but we just need to tweak them to fit exactly with the new wording. Thank you! Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this form or the citizenship process as a whole.

This morning I open my e-mail to this.


Please be more considerate in the language you choose in your emails. Next time it would be more appropriate to simply inform me that a more recent form needs to be completed. No need to comment on the quality of my work or imply that adjusting my answers to a new format would not be clear to me. These forms take a fair amount of work and time that we (the med staff) do not have. As you have no part in this work, saying that 'we' have to tweak the form is irritating and condescending, and does not generate a desire to collaborate. I apologize for being short, but it had to be said. Thanks for your attention to this in the future.

Needless to say, I was not terribly pleased by this e-mail.  I'm hormonal and super stressed from job searching and being homeless in 15 days so I started crying.  I commented on the quality because it was exceptionally well done and as someone who has seen many of these forms completed improperly, I thought it was worth noting.  If I wasn't doing my job and applying for citizenship (a 10 page application along with a 4 page fee waiver which takes work and time from me), the med staff would not ever see this form.  If it's filled out in an unclear or insufficient manner, the client does not get the waiver and all of my work is for nothing.  I haven't shown it to my supervisor or sent a response yet but it ruined my morning.


Walk For Rice!

The 21st Annual Walk for Rice is going to be next weekend.  I am walking to help support the ACRS Food Bank.  It is a great way to support all people in need, not just Asians.  If you would like to make a donation, go to http://www.walkforrice.org.kintera.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=463434&u=463434-323570393&e=4631037968.  This goes to my fundraising goal of $250.  If you feel like helping a great cause, every grain counts!


The Date

Last weekend, I met a guy while I was out with Muang and Karen.  We hit it off because we actually had a conversation rather than being grabbed and gyrated against.  Phone numbers exchanged.  Cute texts and flirting via e-mail.  Promising, yes?  The date was set for Saturday.  I told him to pick the place since he asked me out.  He chose a charming bistro in Capitol Hill.  All the makings for a fantastic date.  Except the guy.  We hugged when we first saw each other.  He's 31, Canadian, and works for Amazon.  I knew this from when we first met.  New things I learned from our (very awkward) (stop and start) (reminiscent of learning to drive a stick shift) conversation over dinner that his wife left him 6 months ago, the divorce just went through 3 weeks ago (meaning that it had just gone through 2 weeks ago when we met) and smokes pot.  I understand that divorces happen but I'm 22.  I don't need that much emotional baggage right out of the gate.  Also, I need someone with passion.  He has no passion.  He's only in Seattle for work but likes it here.  I want someone who loves where they are.  He's done some traveling but seems like he has seen enough of the world.  I want a man that thinks there is no such thing as enough of the world.  Needless to say, there was a first date but there will not be a second.  At least, I got a free meal and learned more about what I don't want in a person.

Side note:  The housing hunt is continuing.  Homeless in 26 days and counting.  Muang and I have a few places that would work nicely.  Now we just need to see which ones would be the best fit for our needs.


Intolerable Cruelty

After the last straw from Time, I gave notice to my landlady today.  I will need to move out by the end of the month.  I am so happy to know that there is an official countdown to a new living situation.


More Hugs

Well, since the last post, I had my job interview, went to two fundraising events, and had another student pass her citizenship interview.  I have yet to hear anything back from the interview which at this point means that I didn't get the job.  I've been sending out resumes more often than I'd care to remember.  The housing hunt continues but on the back burner to job search.  I only have a few more weeks of class left.  I am getting burnt out and could really use a rest to not get attached to my clients.  I know a job I don't get invested in won't be as satisfying but I need time to recharge and leave work at work.  There has been some Time drama but nowhere near as bad as in the past.

I went over to Russ and Beth's last night for a cook out.  It was nice to be around a group of family and friends that makes me feel truly welcome and loved.  I have concluded that I just need more hugs in my life.


Falling In

I have a job interview tomorrow!  It is for a data analyst position.  I sent my resume on Sunday and heard back from them Monday morning.  I had to do sort of a skills test thing which I also did Monday morning.  I got a response right away.  My resume isn't strong on the tech skills so having the skills test covered makes me happy.  Muang and I also found a really awesome place that I am going to call about tomorrow.  It's possibly perfect.  I'm nervous that all of this is happening so fast.  I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  After looking for so long, how can it all fall into place in one week?


Family In Town

I have been terribly busy lately, what with Mom and Dad visiting.  It's been delightful (and occasionally stressful) to have them around.  They arrived on Wednesday.  We went to dinner at Henry's Taiwan so Dad finally got to try the beef shaved noodles that I have been raving about.  It is so nice to have the people that I 100% mesh with around.  The people that get all of my odd references and think sarcastically enough to pick up on all of my jokes right away.  We also went to buy some interview clothes.  I now have a complete interview outfit.  It is kind of boring but I can add and accessorize later.  Right now, I just want something that I can feel confident about something that says I am professional and can do any job someone might be hiring for.  I also am down about 2 sizes which is a great confidence booster.

Thursday, my parents got to see the end of my Talk Time class.  One of my students wanted to tell them how smart and pretty I am.  It was absolutely darling.  They got a tour of ACRS and then we got banh mi and bubble tea in the ID.  After making dinner at Russ and Beth's house, we hung out for a bit and then I went home.  We met up at my house the next morning so they finally got a (Time-free) tour of the house.  We got dim sum at Jade Garden which was delicious as is to be expected.  I did outreach with Muang which was nice.  A few of the locations actually wanted to talk to us and seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say.  I did Zumba which was great because I hadn't worked out for 2 days.  We went for a hike in Discovery Park on Saturday.  It was beautiful but had lots of hills.  My knee was not very happy about that but the long hike got our appetites roused for a fabulous dinner of Cuban sandwiches at Paseo.

Spending the night at Russ and Beth's house brought back some memories although it was in the sewing room and on a leaky air mattress which meant that I did not get a great night's sleep.  I ended up going down to the living room and sleeping on the couch.  Breakfast was bagel sandwiches with the smell of a smoking pork shoulder in the backyard as an amuse nez.  Muang made it out to join us for dinner.  My parents wanted to spend more time with her since she's such a big part of my life right now.  It was a fun night.  They will be leaving tomorrow and life will go back to normal.  At least I will get back to my normal workout schedule.



Sorry about the break between posts, blogosphere.  I spent last weekend in Wenatchee, helping out with another Citizenship Day.  It made for a delightful trip with Muang and Laura and some schmoozing with attorneys over margaritas.  I have to say that as delicious as all of the Vietnamese and Chinese food is here, I have been longing for more variety.  As Wenatchee has a very large migrant worker population, they have some pretty bomb Mexican food.  I had forgotten that when I signed up to volunteer, I put down that I speak Spanish.  The thing is, they don't allow for any level of degrees.  Either you are fluent or you don't speak it.  Well, if those are the only options, then I don't speak Spanish.  At first they had me listed as a translator.  First of all, translation is not my strong suit anyway.  Second, this was specialized vocabulary.  Third, it was the legal interpretation which is supposed to be verbatim because any variation, however slight, can be seen as the provision of legal counsel.  Suffice it to say, I didn't end up translating.  I was doing intake and talking to people with my own words in Spanish.  I was a lot stronger and more comfortable with that.  I also had my safety net, known to her friends as Georgina.  She's a paralegal at the firm of the one the ringleaders for the day.  The drive back was gorgeous.  We went through the Cascades.  I took some pictures but none of them turned out spectacularly well.

My gym buddy and her gorgeous partner in crime have found greener pastures.  Their last day will be Thursday.  In celebration of their success, we went out for Happy Hour tonight.  It was delightful.  I really love to see certain work folks out of their normal habitat.  Rhonda (Amy's PIC) will be a program manager at another nonprofit in Seattle, working with homeless people.  This means she is a good lady to stay connected with for future hirings.  Looking to the future, I might be going to Olympia this weekend to participate in fun and funky parade called the Procession of the Species.  Look it up.  :)


Rack 'Em Up

I am now at 16 students who have successfully naturalized.  One of the most recent batch was particularly hard-fought.  It's kind of a great story and she was so grateful for the help and support that we have provided through the process.  She had her first interview and failed for a few reasons.  In the two months between her first and second interview, she worked so hard and came in for mock interviews every chance that she got.  Tonight, she took Xiangping, Louis and I out to dinner.  It was yummy but she foisted a lot of food on us.  I still hit the gym afterward, only an hour but it was better than nothing.



After not working out for 5 days due to illness, it's fantastic to be back on track!  ESL classes started up this week and that went smoother than any time before because of the pre-registration and testing.  It was great.  We have been having a few little slips with some folks who came to the intake days and then didn't show up on the roster but overall, it has been great.  In the past, the first few days of classes are completely engulfed by registering each person one by one and then doing the English testing.  That is so not the way to go about it because we got people placed inappropriately which took a fair amount of effort to rectify.  With the way we did it this quarter (and will continue to do it), the teachers are able to start out as *gasp* teachers, instead of administrators or proctors.

In other news, working without having to worry about teaching has been ridiculously productive.  I'm sending out citizenship applications left, right and center.  I have lessons planned for the first week.  I am developing new curricula and visuals for the projector.  The first Talk Time will be about camping, as per the request of one of my students.  We will be talking about giving directions on Thursday.

My life was been work and working out during the week, which works for me.  I get my social interaction at work and at the gym.  I'm glad I have Muang and Amy to make going to the gym more like hanging out with friends.  Friday will be going out for Sujata's birthday.  It should be interesting.


My Name Is Chelsea and I Have A Problem

I have a cold.  It's not that bad but I can't help but feel like I brought it on myself.  I have been working out really hard and left myself vulnerable to immune attack. Tuesday, I worked out for 2 hours and felt like puking afterward.  Laura made an interesting point today, I have yet to take a full sick day in my whole time at ACRS.  I took off early yesterday and came in late today.  It was helpful and I should be just fine by the end of the weekend.  You can tell that I'm really getting addicted to working out because the thing that makes me most unhappy about all of this is not working out for a few days.  It's a good addiction to have.


Wrap Up

This week:

Photo by Muang Saechao
  • Another student passed her interview.
  • I worked out 5 times (including a Turbo Kick workout with 6 turbos!).
  • I went to USCIS for the first time which gave me a chance to really practice my Chinese and apply it.
  • The quarter ended meaning I have 2 weeks off from teaching.
  • My Talk Time students told me that they like exactly what I am doing and don't want it to change.
  • Muang and I decided to live together after our leases are up.
  • I have done some serious thinking about my employment situation including finding a potential job with a public policy consulting firm and have tailored my resume for position.  I am just waiting to have a few folks at work look it over before I send it out.
  • Friends and I had a little dinner gathering including me making mojitos.  It was a delightful night in featuring some awesome chicken and bamboo curry by Muang.


Adventure/ Goals

First of all, I needed to post this picture of a meal that I had to celebrate two of my students becoming citizens.  It was awesome!  I just had to make Dad jealous.

Today was a fun day of exploring a new area of the city.  I went out grocery shopping (Trader Joe's of course) and dropped off my stuff.  After that, I went to Muang's place to drop off my workout gear and we set out for Lake Union.  We took the street car which was fun.  The first place we saw was the Center for Wooden Boats. It's pretty cool and the best part is they offer free rides, first come first serve, on Sunday afternoons.  What luck!  Alas, it was not to be because it was too windy but we want to go back there again.  Our consolation prize was a tour of the Coast Guard cutter, Anthony Petit.  It's a working cutter with full crew stationed out of Alaska.  Our tour guide was actually the cook and was therefore unable to answer any of our questions.  It was still really cool to see the inside of all that jazz.  We walked around and finally, Muang and I needed to use the restroom so we stopped into this place called Jillian's.  It's an arcade/sports bar thing.

We were looking to kill a bit of time and get in from the wind.  We were more than happy to lay $5 down to play some air hockey and such.  As it happened, the lady who was working the little card loader thingy was coding a giant stack of cards for a party later tonight.  We were standing at the counter for a solid 10 minutes, chatting happily when the lady hands us two cards and says they are unlimited and on the house.  It was a lot of fun.  I won at air hockey and got pwned at shooting hoops.  Since we got the games for free, we wanted to spend some money there.  We sat down to a late lunch/ early dinner.  The food was mediocre but it was still fun.  While we were eating, Muang and I got to talking about the wedding that she will be a bridesmaid for in July.  We set some fitness goals since she wants to be all fit and trim for it.  We both do better when we have a deadline.  So we laid some things down.

My deadline is the end of my Americorps contract.  Muang's is the wedding.  We are going to push ourselves and each other.  We don't want to have weight loss goals since we are both building muscle.  I want to significantly reduce my spare tire and decrease my pooch.  I am shooting for an average of 4.5 workouts a week.  As far as eating goes, I am already improving without even trying.  I am losing a lot of my cravings for sweet stuff and eating smaller portions.  I am going to the gym consistently and I am going because I enjoy it.  That makes it far more likely for me to be able to sustain this.  I am really hopeful about making serious lifestyle changes.


Under No Obligation

I made a double batch of brownies for a volunteer appreciation tomorrow.  I made them last night and Time is people starved so he came out and started chatting.  He never stops talking and does not take any hints that I don't want to keep talking.  Anyway, I let him have some brownie batter.  He realizes the genius that is my brownies.  Then he says, "Leave one for me."  I respond that I will be leaving the brownies intact until Tuesday to which he replies, "Oh, well, you are under no obligation to give me one."  No shit, Sherlock.  I'm making brownies for people who give their time to our agency and ask nothing in return.  That pissed me off.  Earlier that day, he further convinced me of his destiny of loneliness.  He cannot compromise.  That is why I am out of here as soon as my lease is up.

In more positive news, I bought new shoes online for working out.  They were expensive but I am losing weight and I deserve a bit of a treat.  Also, I got the money from housesitting and my tax refund.  Also, they are made for doing Turbo Jam and Zumba type workouts.  They'll hopefully allow me to move my feet easier and reduce the wear and tear to my knees.  Not the sexiest shoe I've ever seen but they will make me sexier in the long run.


Down, Down, Down

I finally weighed myself today.  I was putting it off because I'm always sloshed up with post-workout hydration and such...that's a lie.  That's what I told myself every time I saw the scale at the gym.  I was putting it off because I was afraid that after all of the time that I have put into working out, I wouldn't see it reflected on the scale.  I also know how much more muscle mass I have in my legs and arms that it might cancel out any fat loss. Out of curiosity tonight, I weighed myself.  After all, what gets measured gets done.  As it turns out, I'm down about 15 pounds.  I am seriously so proud of that.  I know I have a lot more to go but at this point, working out is a part of my life, not just a special effort or a temporary bender.

Going to the gym is my time.  I do it for me.  I do it because it is fun and social.  Sure, my feet hurt afterward and I look like crap but I feel good.  Also, when I go to the gym, I come home after a certain roommate is done in the common areas and I don't need to cross his path.  I have a theory about this.  Here is a graph on the relation between how much I enjoy my life and how much I see Time.  Note the negative correlation.  I need to stop focusing on him but wanting to avoid him makes decent motivation.


Laziness as a Cost Savings Measure

I went out the past two weekends and decided to stay in this weekend.  I got my taxes done, did laundry, went grocery shopping and tidied my room up a bit.  It was sunny and lovely out so I got to feel some real sun on my face.  It was quite nice.  I also realized that now I am hitting the gym with some frequency, I am only home to sleep during the week.  I'm pretty much OK with that.  Another revelation, carrots and tzatziki make an awesome combo.  Extra bonus- I can stretch the tzatziki by adding in some of the plain yogurt that I buy anyway.  Score!

Tomorrow, I will be going to the Department of Licensing with Muang to get my Washington state driver's license.  I'm well on my way to establishing residency here.  If I decide to go to grad school at UW, that will save me $14,000 a year on tuition.  We will also be having our monthly Employment and Citizenship birthday lunch which is a totally sanctioned way to get out of the office and talk for an hour.  Tuesday will be the celebration dim sum lunch for two students that I worked with extensively and recently passed their interviews.  I am now at 13 students to pass from my class.  All of my students are saying that I am good luck.  I am fine with that if it means that they go into their interviews with more confidence.  Also, I am working on my BIA accreditation, which will make me more marketable to ACRS after Americorps.


Vacation's Over

Jeff and family will be back from Mexico today.  This means I have to move back home now.  I'm not too excited about this.  I have realized that I really miss cooking.  I won't really miss the chickens but I will miss the feeling of peace that comes with not needing to walk on eggshells around a certain roommate.  I am wondering if I should have a talk with him so we can get on the level.  He is not willing to compromise or change his ways.  It has been a delightful week.  Now, the floors are swept, the sheets are changed and the animals are fed.  Now, I need to get fully packed up and move on.


At Home in Someone Else's House

I have a one week reprieve from roommate drama.  I am getting paid for it.  Despite the extra one hour each way in my commute, this week should be heaven.  Jeff's house is very homey and colorful.  I like it.  I also have a very old, very cuddly cat (named Socrates) to keep me company.  I have two reasonably friendly chickens in my charge as well. I can do laundry at any hour and cook without fear of pissing someone off.  It is delightful and I have only been here one day.  Tomorrow is a day off that will involve dim sum and the Underground Tour of Seattle.  There was a student of mine that passed her interview on Thursday.  I was totally shocked by it but I will take it.  It brings my tally of students that passed to 10.  Because she passed, we will be going out for lunch on Tuesday as well.

Looking at my blog, I realize that most of the things on here are about Time.  This is both disturbing and intriguing.  I am contemplating writing a book about the whole experience.  I am disturbed by how much a lowly, miserable person can impact my life.  I would even be willing to do a second Americorps term if I was able to get a better arrangement for my housing.  I can live on this salary, especially if I'm not miserable in my time outside of work.  It is becoming more of a possibility since jobs are so hard to come by.  If I can get BIA accredited, I am a lot more likely to get a position at ACRS.  I need to work on it and prove my worth so I will be marketable after Americorps.  There are plenty of NGO's with outposts in Seattle.  I would like to stay here for a while if at all possible.


Under Where?

I have no clean underwear right now.  This very second, I am not wearing underwear because the pair I was wearing is all sweaty from working out.  I have a pair of clean, yet damp underwear hanging up in my closet. Why is that you ask?  Because Time caught me changing over my laundry at 11:30.

  I put my stuff in the wash when I got home and was a bit nervous because there was a load in the dryer.  We have a piece of cardboard to put on the washer in that event so that when the person with things in the dryer comes to get their things out of the dryer, they can start the load in the washer a-tumblin'.  I was really hoping that would be the order of events but no.  I fell asleep because I was truly worn out after a long day of selflessly helping others and giving so much of myself while getting pretty much nothing (at least monetarily) in return.  I woke up at 11:30, with my contacts still in because I passed out.

We also have a house rule about no laundry after 10:30.  I fully admit the I am in the wrong on that.I have a few caveats for that admission of wrongdoing.  First, my room is directly over the laundry room.  This means that if there is anything going on in the laundry room, I hear it.  Time directly told me, which he denied ("Don't lie") and then later recanted ("I may have said that but I didn't mean it like that"), that the rule about laundry time is specifically for the person sleeping in my room because of the location of the room.  Second, I woke up, went downstairs and then heard someone walking around upstairs.  This triggered my "Oh shit" alarm to go off in my head.  Time was already in a tizzy about Jim turning off the lights in the kitchen while the oven was on earlier in the night.  (P.S. With how easy he blows, it's kind of amazing that he doesn't yell at least every day)  He came downstairs while I was taking out the other person's load and putting in my own.  He asked me what I was doing to which I responded,

"I don't have any clean underwear for tomorrow.  I figured that since you told me the rule about laundry was for the person in my room's benefit, and it's only 11:30 that I could start my load and it would be ok."  It amuses me how after how many years of being a legal secretary or whatever soul sucking work that he does, Time always tries to use legal jargon.  Tonight he was somehow insinuating that there is some kind of universal law in cohabitation situation about clothing restoration and stain removal proceedings wherein party A shall not commence in any laundry cleansing activities at or after the hour of "ten thirty o'clock" has been reached.  He gets his knickers in a twist which makes his English even worse.

Push comes to shove, I have no clean, dry underwear.  I want to go work out right now to burn off this stress but I don't think that walking through downtown to get to the gym, since the buses aren't running right now, would be the best idea.  Also, I would either be going commando or reusing so there would be serious stink issues.  I would get back and Time might yell at me for showering too late at night.



I'm tired of Time's shit.  This wasn't even a thing but it's just frustrating.  I have the bottom one third of the freezer which is de facto "my area."  I thought the other people in the house were aware of this.  Time just loaded up about 8 frozen chickens.  Rather than moving the two things of mine that weren't in the drawer, he put them in the refrigerator.  This isn't that big of a deal because I caught it before they were thawed but it just adds to the list of things that show his disrespect for me and inability to handle any kind of disruption to his little routine.  I'm not even sure that compromise is in his vocabulary.  I can't believe that I am actually blogging over thawing vegetable lasagna.

In other news, life at work is lovely.  Another one of my students passed the citizenship interview today.  We also had a photographer from ACRS come in and take pictures for the newsletter.  We are going to be the cover story.  I'm glad that the citizenship program is getting some recognition.  There is even the possibility of full restoration of naturalization funding at the state level.  This would make it even easier for me to get a job after my Americorps term.  I don't want to get my hopes up but it would be awesome if I could get a big girl job there.



Part of the whole deal with 24 Hour Fitness is a suite of online tools for your membership.  One of the cooler things is the tracker that shows when you sign in to the gym and it will give you an average number of times per week and such.  Well, I have hit the gym 12 times in 16 days.  I am pretty darn proud of that.  I went to Turbo Kick this morning.  The past two weekends I have struggled with going to the classes because of the bus schedule.  Today, I finally got my life together and was able to get to class on time.  It was a good workout and I am fairly proud of my performance.  I still need to work on my endurance but I am able to keep up and other people come to tell me that I did a good job which always feels nice.  Also, Laura told me that she could see a difference already.  It's small but it's there.  I know my legs have gotten a lot stronger and have trimmed up a bit.

On the Time front, things have improved for the time being.  Then again, they are always better until they're not.  I need to just not engage.  I hate the idea that he is able to just get away with behaving so immaturely but for my own sanity, it's better to just walk away.



Slamming doors are not the best mode of communication...unless it is in Morse code.  Then, it's effective but still extremely off-putting.  I'm glad I had a good workout tonight or else this might really bother me.


Dirty Girl

Sorry that I haven't been posting very much lately.  It's because all of my time has been going to work, working out and transportation between those points.  I have worked out 7 times over the past 10 days.  I am quite proud of that.  The workout on Friday involved a whole lot of squatting so I was too sore to workout yesterday.

In other news, our dryer is broken.  This is of particular concern since now that I am working out regularly, I am going through workout clothes quite quickly.  This presents quite the quandary.  I sweat...a lot.  This means that I get very stinky after a workout.  This, in turn, necessitates the washing of the clothes I was wearing during my workout.  I have a very limited supply of these clothes.  You see my problem?

Also, I re-ordered my Clinique face stuff.  It has been working pretty well but I ran out of the face wash over Christmas break and have been using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Oil Face Wash.  I think the Acne stuff made a real difference.  I think working out might have a negative effect on my face because I don't bring my face wash with me to the gym.

Muang, Amy and I all belong to the same gym so I have only gone to the gym by myself twice.  It is great to have gym buddies so we can all encourage each other to go.  I don't think I will keep up the same pace of workouts but I think I can still commit to going at least a few times a week.



10 hour day.  First day of citizenship classes went well but the class was WAY too full.  Talk Time went well and then I had 2 mock interview back to back.  I am so glad that today is done.  I am too busy for my own good.  On a positive note, the meds are working on my skin.  I am clearing up in a big way.  I need to hold on to those things right now.


Much Has Happened, Little Has Changed

I went home for a blissful 6 days of visiting friends and family.  It was wonderful and I came out of the whole deal with a bitchin' new 32Gig iPod Touch, complete with front and back cameras.  I also got an awesome hat that looks like a koala from my sister that I constantly get compliments about.  Seeing all of the lovely ladies of Veto Street was awesome, especially because it resulted in a "soft and sultry" new 'do.  That description is courtesy of Ms. Laura East.

The first week back was stressful because it meant the start of all of our classes.  I have my first citizenship class of the quarter tomorrow morning.  The church that I teach at is getting all snippy and blaming us for things that are not our fault but as a result of their pettiness, I am severely constricted in my teaching space.  I am going from a Sunday school classroom to a small conference room.  I am not happy about this.  On the upside, IT is ordering a projector for us so I can use more effective visuals with my students.  I hope this can really lock in all of the information I am throwing at them.

Muang had propositioned the idea of being gym buddies before the New Year and I am finally going to take her up on it.  Her gym has Turbo Kick and Zumba as well as all of the normal treadmills and ellipticals.  I can also make a great workout playlist on my iPod.  I hope that this will add a new dimension to my life and make me healthier.  That's all for now.  I have many things going on but that's all I feel like writing for the moment.