...many times a simple choice can prove to be essential even though it often might appear inconseqnetial.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Home, Sweet Home

Now it’s official. I’m sitting on the couch in my living room, having just watched Gilmore Girls and eaten a not so healthy meal of mac and cheese, tater tots and carrots (don’t worry Dad, I had garlic chicken, rice, and green beans last night), enjoying my new internet connection, soaking in the reality that is adulthood.

A million thanks to J, brother-in-law P, P, A and D for helping me move all of my stuff from the suburbs to downtown, through French doors, up a winding staircase, through a skinny hallway and through an equally skinny doorway into my new place. I left J and brother-in-law P’s house at 8:30 in the morning with everyone following behind shortly thereafter, and by 11:30 I was ordering pizza for everyone. I’d offer these guys’ moving services to everyone, but I don’t think they’d appreciate it, but trust me, they’re fast. After eating the traditional moving day meal of pizza and beer (and seriously, P, what am I supposed to do with the leftover beer, I’m a girl, we don’t drink beer), a long nap, an epic grocery shopping run, and several more evenings of unpacking and scrubbing down floors, I’m settled into my new home.

I made it, folks, and it feels great.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Job: An Update

I’ve also had some inquiries about my job. After three weeks, I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of everything (well except maybe the accounting stuff, but that’s even improving.) We’ve had to interview candidates for a key position within the organization that has been vacant for a couple months and we had to let go one of the employees go (a very big deal when there’s only 10 employees to begin with). Other than that, things are going as expected.

The aspects of my job may not be blog-worthy, but the organization itself certainly is. The after school programs are split up into two separate levels. The first level teaches basic academic, leadership and business skills. Once a youth graduates from the first program, they are eligible to apply for the second program. In this program, the kids actually run a t-shirt screening business. They have to do all the marketing, accounting and production work. While each section has a full-time program manager, the programs are actually run entirely by the youth. They sort through applications, select candidates for interviews, conduct the interviews, and make the final decision of who gets accepted into the programs. The Crew Leaders are phenomenal people. They helped interview the candidates for the vacant position, and they asked the hardest questions and made the sharpest, most astute comments about all three candidates. The things they got from a mere handshake (and we do emphasize the importance of the “business handshake” from the start of the program) was incredible. If people feel disheartened by today’s youth, they need to spend a day with these kids, they will change the minds of any skeptic.

For the last couple weeks, youth have been coming in for interviews and the first round of applicants will come in next week for a probation period before the final cut is made. All 60 kids who are accepted into the programs will start on February 6th. That’s when things will really get interesting. In the meantime, I’m still learning the ropes and helping the fundraising director keep our new 13 year-old intern busy. So far, so good, with a little drama thrown in for good measure, but then again work would just be boring if there wasn’t a tidbit such things here and there. More to come.

The Apartment: An Update

There have been some inquiries about my new place, and after this weekend I have made significant progress on being able to actually live in the apartment. So with nothing to do until the AFC championship game today (okay, I don’t really watch that much football, but the landlords and I have been invited to a little get together for it this afternoon), I figure now is a good time to do some more updating before moving gets to be too crazy.

The apartment is in the Curtis Park/Five Points area, about 10 or so blocks from LoDo (lower downtown) and the 16th Street Mall. I still have yet to find out where the nearest grocery stores, gas station, etc are located, but there’s lots of fun things located close by, so that’s a major plus, even if I have to drive to get the essentials.

Speaking of which, I went shopping yesterday for the essentials. I didn’t know the essentials would cost so much. I mean, wow. I knew there is such a thing as retail therapy, but retail anxiety? Yeah I think I developed a case of that yesterday. The look of slight fear on the checkers’ faces at Target (on two different trips) as I pushed my cart through their line let me know that it just didn’t feel like I was buying a lot of stuff, I was, in fact, buying a great deal of things. But, now that I’ve recovered from yesterday, I can say, with the exception of some other major ticket items (kitchen table, bookshelves and a little desk, but I can live without those for awhile), I am finished. Now all I’ll have to do is buy food and I can actually survive in my apartment once I move in.

So that brings me to the next inquiry. Color schemes. I have reddish, brown/tan earthy tones for the kitchen (I received some plates in those colors as a graduation present, so that was an easy enough decision to go with), neutrals (more tans/browns) and blues for the living room (pompason chair cushion is blue, had to work with that) and as for the bedroom, well my comforter is red with some pastel-y flowers on it, and my bed frame is black iron, but I haven’t thought too much about what to do in there. I also have some leftover items from dorm room living: blue striped rug (although smaller than the one I just purchased for the living room) and a big framed poster of an old French champagne ad that need somewhere to go. But I’ll worry about those when they’re actually in my apartment.

I spent yesterday packing up everything I just bought and will spend the rest of the week trying to find boxes to put everything else in (the boxes I had from my first move didn’t go very far). Next weekend (hopefully, if everything goes as planned) P, A, and her boyfriend D will be down to help me move. I’ll let you all know how that goes too. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Change of Address

After eight, almost nine months of being a basement dwelling, semi-adult, I have moved another step closer to becoming a full-fledged adult, perhaps, the last step, even. I signed the lease on an apartment today. I officially move in on the 28th. Good-bye suburbia and hello city living!

It has pretty much everything I was looking for: vintage (it’s in an old Victorian mansion), hardwood floors, lots of light, clawfoot tub, lots of closets, eat in kitchen, private parking, close to work (but not so close that anyone has to worry), close to downtown but still in a residential area, and close to light rail. Sorry Dad, no pets though, I guess Mulder’s going to have to stay in Big Horn.

I get to spend the next week shopping for kitchen and other housey-accessories. Hooray for my own place! I like this grown-up thing, it’s fun.

Oh, How I Loathe I-80

Let me preface this entry by saying that I got to spend a really great weekend in L-town. I got to spend time with P, A, her new boyfriend D, my good friend (and former co-worker) D and her boyfriend B. The weekend was nearly flawless with the exception of a very long trip home from the hot springs along I-80.

I-80 runs east-west through the southern part of the state. Being a cross continental highway, there is heavy semi-truck traffic and because of its location in the state, it’s also prone to horrible, nasty weather. They’ll close the interstate just because of the wind, and like so many other stretches of highway throughout the state, the towns are few and far in between.

There have only been two times in my life that I have experienced road rage. Both times I was traveling on I-80. Semi-truck drivers and middle-aged people in SUVs are merciless and just down right angry on this stretch of highway. Then again I’d be angry too if I had to drive all the way through Nebraska only to enter the lovely southern half of our state. Angry drivers somehow make me angry and not only have I been cut off at high speeds, but I’ve found myself trying to out speed 16-wheelers too. Not smart, yes I know, which is why I will try to avoid driving that interstate when at all possible.

So, of course I was secretly delighted when P offered to drive to the hot springs last Sunday night. The drive there was rather uneventful, a light snow started falling about 20 minutes before we got to our destination. The springs were great, well, great except for the drunk kid and the slightly mediocre guitar player, but they were only a minor annoyance. The light snow that started as we arrived gradually increased in snowfall intensity and by the time we hit the road (with P behind the wheel) white-out conditions had begun. While the semis weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are during the day, there were enough to cause far too many moments of little or no visibility. The drive home took twice as long as the drive there. I felt terrible that P had to drive through wind, snow and truck drivers in a car that, according to him, has “issues.” I call them quirks, but at least they didn’t play into the drive being bad. D and A were in D’s big pickup and it was just as bad for them. Thanks for driving, P! I might have lost all my hair from the stress that drive would have undoubtedly caused.

After last weekend, I’m just glad I have no reason to go to Nebraska or Utah anytime soon. No I-80 for me, and that’s a good thing for me and everyone else on the road.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Get Your Bitch Walk On

With the first week of work behind me, I have made various observations about my job and how this new career is taking me places I've never been, never would have gone otherwise and allowed me to reflect upon myself in ways I never thought I would have to.

First, a quick reminder of what it is I actually do. I'm an executive assistant/office manager for a non-profit that creates and runs after school programs for inner city youth. Our offices are located in what can be considered the inner city of Denver. It is one of the most economically and educationally deprived neighborhoods in the state of Colorado. I live in southern suburban Denver, an area that people who don't live here consider to be pretty hoity-toity. Seriously, people, it's not as upper-crust as you think. You should meet some of our neighbors. But no matter, there is an insurmountable difference between where I live and where I work.

The first major observation I've made regards the train. I don't want to drive 45 minutes, through traffic everyday to get to work, I don't like driving, I don't like traffic, I don't want to be stressed about getting to work. Problem solved: the southern most train stop is a 5-10 minute drive from the house and work is about a 6-7 block walk from the northern most stop on the train. The train is a beautiful thing, and I will gladly shell out the money for a monthly pass until I live somewhere that I would consider to be within driving distance.

The interesting thing about the train is the difference between it's beginning and ending points. The northbound train (the one I take to work) starts in suburban Denver. The station is located next to a rather high-end strip mall. The most affordable stores there are GAP and Pier1. There's also an Apple Store, Banana Republic, Sharper Image, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma and such there. I don't shop there, and when I do I buy things, they're on ultra clearance. It may not be Cherry Creek, but it's up there. Everything in this area was built in the last half of the 20th century. The train travels through suburban Denver following the train tracks through more industrial/commercial areas. You'll see everything from tape factories to wholesale pottery outlets to manager training centers. The train travels through downtown Denver, past the Performing Arts Center, 16th Street Mall, winds its way past the Qwest Building and various other skyscrapers, eventually traveling through more residential areas--mainly the residential areas of Five Points--before it ending at a stop situated between houses and various locally owned businesses, all of which were built in the early 1900s. In the mornings I get on the train with people who look very similar to me: middle-class, Caucasians with office jobs. When I get on the train at night, I am the minority. Of course this changes once the train reaches downtown, but being from one of the most homogeneous populations in the country--Wyoming--being the minority, for any period of time, is a new and different experience. I'm definitely not in Wyoming anymore.

Secondly, when people found out where I would be working, they generally became concerned that I would be walking, by myself, from where the train line ended to the office. My dad offered to buy me a sawed-off shotgun for Christmas; I assured everyone I would at least buy a can of pepper spray. As long as I walk with confidence (one of J's good friends who lives in DC calls it her "bitch walk") and be attentive to what's going on around me, I really have no qualms about my walk to work. So, upon being dropped off at the train station on my first day of work, the last thing J said to me as I stepped out of the car was "Don't forget to get your bitch walk on." Don't worry folks, it's on.

Besides, Five Points is really improving, sure at one time it was a really bad place to be, and it's certainly not the best place to be yet, but there are some really great neighborhoods and it really is transitioning into something better. And the reason I travel 5 days a week to a "transitional" neighborhood is because the people I work for are trying to make it a better place to live.

If anything, so far, this job has made me keenly aware of my white girl from Wyoming status. A lot of times I feel naive and inexperienced for this job; other times the naivity makes me realize how lucky I am to have grown up in the environment that I did. Just as my previous job allowed to see an all encompassing view of affordable housing--the truths and misconceptions, this job allows me to see an all encompassing picture of an entirely different socio-economic class than my own, the truths and misconceptions.

I may be naive and inexperienced, but at least I know that now, and I have the means and the opportunity to change that.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005: A Year in Review

Well folks, another year has flown by yet again. Since our culture seems to be inundated with "Year in Review" types of articles, whether in words or pictures, about everything from news events to the best and worst dressed celebrities, I have decided to be unoriginal, and follow suit. So, without further adieu, I present: 2005, In a Nutshell.

January through May
I've decided to lump all of these months together. Don't get me wrong, there were some memorable moments here: my birthday, and spring break for example. However, these months are mostly a blur of class, homework, senior thesis projects, horrible eating habits and stress. Lots and lots of stress. Ask anyone who was around me for a decent amount of time during this period, and they will tell you that it was ugly. When I wasn't stressed, I was completely unenthusiastic about everything, including graduating. In short, Senioritis sucked the life out of me.

May 7th
Graduation! Amazing what a little pomp and circumstance will do for the soul. After sitting through a three hour commencement, I officially became a college graduate. The next day I finished packing up my dorm room and moved to Denver.

Memorial Day Weekend
Went to a friend's (and former co-worker) wedding in Curt Gowdy State Park. It was a small, intimate affair, very suited for the couple. After the ceremony, all the former staff members who attended the wedding went to our old boss's house for a BBQ. After returning to Denver briefly the next day, I went to Boulder to hang out with my cool, completely in-shape friends and former coworkers who were cool and completely in-shape enough to run the Bolder Boulder. If I ever get the ambition to become cool and completely in-shape enough to run a 5K, I'm so running the Bolder Boulder.

4th of July
Went to a Rockies game with J, brother-in-law P and then boyfriend J. However, the only reason we went was to watch the fireworks show afterwards. For those of you who weren't aware, the Rockies, well let's just say, they could be better. Because of the seats we were in, we got to go sit on the field to watch the fireworks show. Watching fireworks not at Coors Field, but on Coors Field was definitely worth the 11 innings of baseball we had to endure beforehand.

Sheridan WYO Rodeo Week
I wouldn't normally mention this as a highlight of my year, but this was the only weekend J, brother-in-law P, and I could make it home. When we originally told our parents when we would be visiting, they contemplated not telling us it was Rodeo Week because they were afraid we wouldn't come. That's how much we don't want to be in Sheridan during Rodeo Week. Thankfully my family doesn't live Sheridan, so with the exception of the street dance, we avoided Sheridan rather successfully.

Labor Day Weekend
Went back to L-town with the intentions of going to a good friend's party and getting to spend a long weekend with my boyfriend, J. Ended up going to the good friend's party and ending my 3 1/2 year relationship with said boyfriend. I only mention this because this was an end to something that should have been done months before and I finally became confident enough in myself to actually go through with it. The fact that I actually went through with it is probably one of the single best things I have done for myself. Period.

Started dating P. A part of me still finds it hard to believe that it actually worked out. Things like this don't normally happen to me, I'm just so glad that it did. I've already dedicated an entire post about this turn of events, and even though I could write countless more, out of respect of P and his needed anonymity, I'll say no more. Those of you who know me (which I'm thinking are most who read this blog) know that I'm a very happy girl.

Started this blog and entered into complete unemployment.

From here on out, most of the major events have been previously posted about. Case in point, the Paul McCartney concert and the week that was Thanksgiving. However, I did fail to mention that two of my best friends from college who I hadn't seen much of, if at all, since our friend's wedding in May, came to visit. Oh, which reminds me, D and S, if you're reading this, we didn't get to do our girls' night out in December, it's high time we got together again!

First and foremost, as you all know, I got a job! A killer start to the holiday season. In the last couple weeks, I made the trek home again with the landlords and the cat to spend the holidays in Wyoming. We got in all the celebrating we could possibly fit into a week. Celebratory dinner for the new jobs and promotions? Check. Christmas Eve dinner including Torte and peppermint cheesecake? Check. Early morning, blurry eyed opening of presents? Check. Lazy Christmas day? Check. Attend party in loft of barn followed by a soak in the homemade sauna? Check. Meet friends at semi-disappointing wine bar? Check. Return to Denver to discover that I have been summoned for jury duty? Check. Officially ending my eight month reign as the eternal temp of affordable housing? Check.

New Year's Eve
In what should be the last in the string of parties that started with Thanksgiving, the landlords and I rung in the New Year with P, A, and three other friends. Good times were had by all that included a lot of food, (avert your eyes, Mom and Dad) just as much alcohol, (okay, you can look again) and everything from guitar playing to Apples to Apples. After toasting to the New Year with champagne, we spent the rest of the weekend recovering from the mass amounts of food and drink consumed within a short period of time. The award for best idea of the weekend goes to P, who decided the best cure for our New Year's pains would be to make a large, greasy breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and corn beef and hash for everyone. Mmmmm greasy breakfasts, no better way to say Happy New Year.

Alright folks, consider yourselves up to date. Tomorrow I start my new job and hopefully with the new year and new schedule and routine, I will be able to post a little more regularly.

Next up: Jury duty, looking for apartments, and thus completing my transition into the real world. Stay tuned.