Monday, March 14, 2011

I ran away from my blog....

So a few months ago, I was going through a midyear crisis and freaking out about my future.  It was a grueling process where I basically thought about every opportunity there is out there for me to do.  When I say every, I basically mean every!  I looked into international volunteer programs, working on a cruise ship, grad school, AmeriCorps, LVC again, jobs in the Bay Area, jobs in the LA area, other volunteer programs in all parts of the country, and last but not least, doing nothing at all.
                Somehow I got so caught up in the planning of my plans that I forgot to sit and be in Baltimore.  My roommate sent me this amazing quote, which really got me thinking…

Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are.  When someone asks us where we want to be in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look down at our feet and say, "Here, I guess, since this is where I am."
Barbara Brown Taylor
An Altar in the World

But no matter what I want, life has to have some sort of plan, even if its who’s couch am I sleeping on next.  So for all of those who read this… which would be me, my plan is to move in with my grandmother is Southern California and start pursuing a job in the non-profit world, hopefully a Girl Scout Council is hiring or a donor relations type thingy job is available in the LA area, but really who knows…
I did apply to LVC and I got in for a second year- so please enjoy my ravishing letter of intent as to why I thought I wanted to do LVC again…

Letter of Intent:
                I would like to do LVC for a second year in a different placement because I think there is still more I can get out of the experience. 
The LVC lifestyle is completely different from where I was a year ago.  I lived in my own apartment, ate out at restaurants every night, and took for granted my surroundings.  This year has been completely different for me in just about every aspect of my life.  I’m in a new place where for once I’m the outsider.  There are no rules on how you’re supposed to let the bus driver when you need to get off, there’s not map of where you’re going next, and there’s definitely no one to tell you the proper way to cross a busy intersection. I’ve had to learn the ups and the downs of living in a new city, and even though sometimes it seems scary, it has been a great learning experience thus far.
                Living in community has also been challenging, but for the best.  It wasn’t easy for five people to adjust to not only new lives in the city but new routines in the home.  I have often heard myself tell my coworkers that, “things at my house are great, we have our problems but things could be worse.”  The general responses are, “you live with 4 women and 1 bathroom, that’s doing amazing!”  But I have found beauty in this day to day madness.  It’s a part of the experience that really keeps me going; from the happy greetings when I return home or someone’s willingness to help with chores because they are having a good day are really what have made my LVC experience most worthwhile.  I have really come to appreciate the meals we share together after work where we discuss the hot topics of Baltimore.
                I could write for hours the benefits of living in community from the emotional support to the way we can actually afford to feed ourselves on what seems like not enough money.  But I have to be realistic, if I were to do a second year of LVC, would I be expecting the same things out of my community?  Would I be willing to change the way I think this year and how I’m comfortable doing things?  The answer, which I have thought through time and again, has been yes.  I’ve had the opportunity to live with a second year volunteer and I saw the first couple days of orientation what she was going through and when we arrived at our new home.  She came out the other side appreciating the changes that were made in her day to day routine. 
                If I were to living in a new community I would be ready for the challenges it faces.  I would be excited to change things up and do things differently.  There is no right way to do community and I would be excited to attempt it again.  During my city coordinator interview I was asked if I would be tired after a year of service when it was time to do orientation again, and yes I probably will be tired from moving my life cross country and saying my last good byes in Baltimore, but the idea of something new is exciting and that would be enough for me to have energy to do it all over again. 
                I hope I have the opportunity to learn the ways of a new city.  I hope to be scared like I was the first few weeks in Baltimore.  I’m excited for the opportunity to do something new and different while still living this lifestyle that I have grown to appreciate and want to experience more of. 

But here’s the thing, I won’t be in Baltimore next year, which really makes me sad.  But that really means I have to live in the now and appreciate what I have going on here.  I’ve made amazing friends, I love my job and have a few great events going on, and the weather is about to be beautiful!  I’m pretty sure the next 5 months are going to fly by, but I’m okay with that, because I will be doing my best to appreciate them. 
In the next few months, I will be really practicing how I can take what I’ve learned from LVC such as composting and making my own cleaning supplies and really start being intentional about bringing this over into the next steps in my life.
                Okay, the next blog I promise will be about something I’ve actually done, not a philosophical life freak out.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My New Year!

Hello Family and Friends and Happy New Year….

So this is the time of year where we are convinced that we are to start anew and resolve to be a better person.  I’ve been asked what my resolution this year was and like every year, I can’t think of one.  The reason must be that I have nowhere to improve and I’m the best person I can be, right?  Ya I didn’t buy that one either….
So to spare you a blog of my social standings and my personal beliefs that are obviously important because I have a blog to share them, I fill you in on how my last month has been going.
                I celebrated Christmas with the roomies a week early and it was adorable.  We had an amazing tacky sweater Christmas party and fun was had by all.  Living in volunteer land allows us to be friends with a billion other volunteers, so guess who we partied with. Volunteers!
                Soon after all the Christmas hoopla in Baltimore, I went to Sunny California for 17 days to spend with my family and friends.  Let’s just say, Sunny California had different plans for me.  It rained for 5 days straight upon my arrival!  But that was forgiven when I got to spend a lot of time making ravioli and memories with my family.  The next week was a blur of visiting my amazing friends and trying to see EVERYONE while I was on the coast for such a short period of time.  My life felt like a planned mess and I’m still recovering from it.  Christmas this year was nice and simple.  My Grandma, Mother, Sister and myself spent 3 days in Palm Springs.  Though I didn’t get tan, I did get to lay out on Christmas.  And when you’re living in below freezing weather for 3 months, that’s more than enough.
                After Christmas I drove up to NorCal to see my family some more and make ravioli (we’re Italian, we make it a lot).  I also got to go wine tasting with one of my closest friends from college Megan, and her parents.  We also got extremely cheap Smithwicks (my favorite beer for those who are keeping track) at an Irish pub and reminisced about our trip last year to Ireland.  It was quite the adventure to drive to and from NorCal, my tiny baby little sister is now old enough to join along the ride, and next time she drives, I’m taking a chill pill and a nap. (Don’t worry, her driving is fine, I’m just SCARED.)
                After that, there was more hoopla of visits and parties and its all a blur again at this moment.  Finally the last few days were spent cleaning and packing up so my mom can move into her new place, rendering me homeless if I ever stop volunteering.
After a long trip home, I gained 8 lbs and somehow with out even working out... they are gone!  I blame Leslie. :)
                Home was amazing and beautiful and I actually missed Baltimore and my roommates.  Now instead of me mumbling through a blog, here are random pictures from my trip that I hope you enjoy!!
Katie Got Married... uhhh?

Why did I agree to go out so late? Sleep....

My version of a white Christmas!

Ready for Christmas Dinner!!

What happens when your mom cleans out her things...
Snow.. how I haven't missed you!

My christmas present from my sis, perosh!
Last but not least... How I gained 8 lbs at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My.. Um... Future?

                I got an email about two weeks ago from my city coordinator asking us if we wanted to do a second year of LVC.  Are you kidding me?  I feel like I just started my time here in Baltimore.  Okay, its been 4 months exactly today since I started as a volunteer and I’m finally comfortable with my day to day.  I’ve made friends outside of LVC and I really like it here.  It took four months to get to this place of content and now I’m forced with the decision to do it all over again.
                In all honesty, I thought doing a year would be enough for me.  It’s great that I’m out of my element, I have got a great job to put on my resume and now I can go on my merry way to start my life.  Right?  I’m starting to think not.  I started researching grad schools and all the programs I’m interested in I easily qualify for except for 2 years of prior work experience.  I’m pretty sure camp counselor and babysitter don’t really count for my MBA.  So as I started researching more I realized that I really didn’t want to be a volunteer in Baltimore next year, I love it here and could live here, but I don’t think I could do exactly what I’m doing for another year.  So I thought to myself, what could I do?  I could go sleep on my mom’s couch for six months while working a retail job until I figured things out.  I could jump on a cruise ship and work for a while to save up money.  I could start applying for jobs and see where life took me.  None of these sound like bad options, but none of these sounded exactly ideal either. 
Then it hit me, what do I consider my home?  Its where the heart is right?  Well I have never been so in love with a place like I have been in Northern California.  It has everything I think want. (I’m 22, I don’t know what I want.)  But financially I get just afford to move back, I need a game plan.  Then I really started to consider doing another year of service in the Bay Area.  The truth is I love living in community and I love being a volunteer, so why not?
So here I am, 2 days and 8 hours away from Southern California, and I’m already planning my next excursion when I should be thinking about that In n Out Burger I’m getting as soon as I’m picked up from the airport.
I really don’t know what I should do.  I should comment on the fact that American culture has gotten us so stressed with the idea of being happy and making it that we can’t just enjoy what life has to offer us.  I should just relax and let the cards fall into place.  I could jump into action and plan my life and not be afraid of failure.  But alas, I’m confused and okay with it.  So on January 18th I may be signing up for another year, I may not.  Am I stressed about the decision? Heck yes.  But that’s okay, right?

It could be worse, I could move home.  Right Mom?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Buy Nothing Christmas?

    So living this life of simplicity, we are encouraged to participate in “Buy nothing Christmas” where instead of spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on expensive, not really needed gifts, we focus more on the family and spending time with each other.  Now granted, living on a $105 a month leads me to want to celebrate Christmas this way, because let’s face it, I can afford to show up to family events and that’s about it. 
                My question isn’t really should we spend lots of money, but should we spend the time to go out there, face those malls from hell, search with all of our might, and end up with a present that you know the person you are buying for will just adore?  Why yes, I don’t see the harm in this.
Don’t worry, I love homemade gifts too, (this isn’t a gift registry blog, don’t worry!) they make me feel all warm inside to know my loved ones worked hard (and thought ahead, which is something I’m not so good at).  But to no avail, homemade gifts can cost just as much as a gift plucked from the aisles at Tar-jay.
So stuck in this conundrum of materialist woe, what as consumers are we supposed to do with this commercial holiday where gift giving is the American version of a prophet being born?  I could throw in cheesy slogans like shop smart, not hard; be thrifty and nifty, etc.  In reality, just buy stuff the person needs.  Not needs like I need a new corvette, but like need as in my last pair of socks have a hole in them, I guess I should get a new pair (in my case tights).
 I look around my bedroom sometimes and feel that I have a lot of “stuff” and I can tell you exactly where I got it and usually how much I paid for it, especially if it was on “sale”.   Don’t worry I’m not getting rid of any of it to join a commune, but it’s just interesting think about our thought process of “need”.  Though I adore every shoe in my shoe collection, each a reminder of the hard work I put in to be able to afford the beautiful artwork I put on my feet, would my life be any different if I hadn’t bought those particular pair of pumps? Probably not.  Would I buy them all over again? Heck yes.
So this Christmas, one of financial scarcity (though even in good financial times we believe this to be true), my goal is to focus on needs, not  wants, because in reality, our wants will change in a month anyways, right?  Then again who am I to talk, with $105 a month, I need everything! J  Or I could pull out my business side (the one that’s torn every time some preaches their anti-consumerist ideals) and say go shopping, spend lots of money and help our economy, gosh darn it!
So pick and choose who you are this holiday season, the only answer I can come up with this war of morals, is to choose wisely.  Great advice, huh?  I feel like Yoda.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey What?

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all!

This year was the first year I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving in 22 years.  It was a strange feeling of missing everyone at home and feeling like a grown up as I helped my housemates cook all the fixings for our Thanksgiving feast.   We had chicken, (with only 2 omni’s in the house, it was all we needed), homemade stuffing, green beans, lentil loaf, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and lots of dessert!  We finished the evening by watching a Semi-Christmas movie, The Holiday, and I fell asleep on the couch as Leslie and I watched Stepmom. 
            The weekend went quite well with Leslie here.  We house sat downtown and so we played tourist in Baltimore and ate a lot of good food (I’m now broke for a while, but it was worth it!)
            We ended the week with a 2 hour community meeting where we discussed the exciting events of the next 3 weeks which include visiting Hampden where there are really pretty Christmas lights, the light of the Washington Monument (a big Baltimore thing), a Christmas Celebration at our house, and a cookie making party.  With work and all this, its going to be a busy few weeks. 
            The meeting also spent a large amount of time discussing what the chores actually mean… Lets just say that was exhausting!
For those of you who haven’t signed up, I’ll link you to the newspaper I put together for work, so you can see all the cool things I do!  I’m working on my first article for it, where I’m covering a trip that a VP went on in South America, it’s really cool because I’ve redesigned the whole thing to make it more user friendly.
I’m really excited to be going home for 18 days!  For those of you who are wondering, I’ll be in Southern California on the 17th at night.  You can find me at the nearest In n Out drive thru.  I’ll be heading up to Norcal the 26th -29th and leave early Monday morning back to Baltimore on the 3rd.
Hope you all are doing well... Until next time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buses, Trains, and Cars, Oh my!

Thursday I was lucky to have my Grandma come visit me all the way from sunny California!  Morgan and I picked her up from the airport and she came home to a house full of people.  We met everyone chit chatted and headed off to bed to get ready for a long 3 days ahead of us!
            Friday we headed downtown and I showed Grandma my office then we walked around Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor.  We decided to head to Little Italy for lunch and we met quite an interesting man at the Bus stop, lessoned learned I won’t become a smoker?!?!? ( Long story….).  We enjoyed a nice lunch and a little bit more of a walk and then headed on over to Penn Station to take the commuter train to Washington DC.  After relaxing for the rest of the evening at the hotel, we woke up the next morning and started trekking our way through the Nation’s Capitol.  We saw as much of the monuments as we could- Lincoln’s monument, the Washington Monument, WWII monument, the Vietnam Wall, The Korean War memorial, and Arlington Ceremony.  On top of that we visit the White House, saw the national Christmas tree, walked the mall, saw the Capitol building, saw the Pentagon, went to the National Holocaust Museum, Museum of National History, the Museum of Natural History, and we rode around in style in one of those double Decker buses.  Are you exhausted as we were just reading this list?
            We also enjoyed some of the most delicious food DC has to offer!  By the end of the trip there just wasn’t enough time to get everything we wanted to done, which just means Grandma has to come back and visit after tax season. 
By the end of the trip we took:
2 Bus Rides
2 Circulator Trips
3 Cab excursions
1 Marc Train
1 Amtrak Train
3 Metro Trips
And quite a few Double Decker experiences….

My feet still hurt!

Pictures to follow J