Tired? For What?

Last night I got called into work last minute. This morning I slept in until almost 11, barely registering when my mom tried to get me up around 9. I then spent the afternoon watching Dexter before going into work again tonight. And I’m absolutely exhausted.

I shouldn’t be. I’m not really doing anything. I guess work is a little tiring, but not to the point I’m at now.

So that is my excuse for this lame post – bizarre tiredness brought on by nothing. Hopefully, my six hour shift tomorrow won’t wear me out too much. I don’t want to be in bed until noon on Sunday. I mean, I have television to catch up on!

Things that aren’t OK

Number one on my list: Talking to strangers in public bathrooms.

The time: This afternoon

The location: Border’s

The situation: I’m wasting time while my mom gets a manicure in the Border’s, having a perfectly lovely afternoon, debating purchasing This American Life season 2 on DVD (the affirmative side won resulting in me spending my evening with Ira Glass.) when I go into the bathroom. Everything is normal until the woman in the stall next to me does her business (pretty loudly) and then says, and I quote, “Wow!” It wasn’t to herself. It was loud and expectant, like she wanted me to answer, perhaps give some witty and commiserating comment about how she must’ve really had to go. Um…no?

Obviously, I remained silent and proceeded to finish up as slowly as possible so I could avoid contact at the sink with this bathroom talker. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go slowly enough, so as I approached the sink where she hovered, I looked down, avoiding eye contact as much as possible. As I dried my hands, the talker looked in the mirror, playing with her hair, then she looked at me and declared, “Looks like it’s time for me to get a haircut!” Um…awesome? What am I supposed to say? “Yeah, your hair looks awful, and by the way, you were right when you said ‘wow!’ before. You were REALLY loud in there! I’m Amanda, by the way. SO great to meet you!” Again…no! I do not come into the bathroom to make friends. I came in to use the bathroom and leave as quickly as possible, preferably, with little to no human contact. I didn’t come in here to comment on your bathroom loudness, bladder fullness or new hair-do.

Of course, I said none of this. Being the awkwardly polite person I am, I simply said “Must be the rain!” and smiled as she skipped out the door. Clearly, she is to blame for my DVD purchase. I had to salvage my journey to the bookstore. Yep.

I’m Alive!

And back from my week in LA. Going there is starting to feel like going home, as it seems I’ve pretty much been going back and forth between LA and Boston for the last year and a half – plus the fact that most of my friends currently live or will be living there in the coming months (including, my lovely sister.)

I’m still mildly out of it, after getting up at 5AM Pacific time for the last three days (for a school visit, then an airplane ride, and then work…) and I still haven’t unpacked or uploaded pictures (two very necessary and logical next steps to returning from a trip.)

All I’ve done is find a JACKPOT of books in the basement my sister left behind in her many moves, many of which I’ve come very close to buying in the last few months, because I didn’t know where her copies were. I now have SO MUCH READING to accomplish before June between the rest of the Teach for America reading (I’m halfway done!) and all these books I’ve found.

Here’s a semi-complete book list. Any thoughts on what I should read first:

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
Little Children – Tom Perrotta
IV – Chuck Klosterman
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Post Birthday World – Lionel Shriver
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris (Technically, I would be reading this for the second time…)

And of course, one teaching book: The Essential 55 – Ron Clark (Yes, of the wonderfully amazing TV movie “The Ron Clark Story.” And it’s signed!)

Coming up next: a small trip recap with pictures!

Replacing Television with Photography

The last few days have been filled with nothing but work and playing with my new camera…and really, all I’m doing at work is playing with a very similar camera…so exciting blog posts have been hard to come by, unless you are just dying to read a little story that goes like this: Today I work up. I took a shower. I drove to work. I took pictures of a family. I drove home. I took pictures of my family. I watched insane amounts of television while cooking and eating dinner. I read blogs. I watched Jimmy Fallon (he’s getting better, right?). I went to bed. THE EXCITEMENT NEVER ENDS, I TELL YOU!

I figured instead of regaling you with that tale and instead of ignoring you all together, I should share some of the massive amounts of photos I’ve been taking, as that is all I can really offer except for maybe a rant about American Idol, which was my original plan. (I mean, picking Jasmine over Ricky?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME, IDOL!? *Deep Breaths* Just remember Anoop….and that Tatiana is gone…gooodddd….breathe….) I swear, if that show wasn’t so culturally relevant and full of potential train wrecks, I’d stop watching. (For a very close description of my thoughts, visit Michael Slezak at Entertainment Weekly.)

Now that I got that ALL THAT off my chest, onto some photos! On our drive home from Food Heaven, aka Trader Joe’s, I noticed the light was beautiful (for once), so my mom suggested we go on walk through a nearby park with her beloved dog, Sookie. I love my mother both for suggesting this and for putting up with my obnoxious picture taking (and for learning to be a kick ass model for me.) Thanks, mom! Everyone should tell her how pretty she is. Seriously, I’m going to look AMAZING in 20 years.

SUPER PHOTO EXCITEMENT

I’ve been in a weird funk all week, internet wise, and I’m not sure why, because I’ve had some things I could’ve blogged about.

I started working part-time job at a portrait studio. It’s actually the perfect part time job for me, besides the fact that I can only work for about three months before I leave. They knew that hiring me, though, so I don’t feel terrible about it. I’ve been training all week, learning how to use the fancy equipment (by photographing adorable stuffed animals on baby pillows) and memorizing all the package prices. It’s fun to utilize my burgeoning photography skills into a money making situation and to learn a little bit about portrait photography in the process.

Using fancy DSLR’s all day, however, was making me more and more sad that I hadn’t been able to buy my own DSLR that I’d been lusting after since July, especially now that I’m making money (and got a sweet tax refund), which had been my excuse for not buying a camera for the past two months. That mild sadness and frustration then combined with stress over my TFA readings (which are alternately making me feel mildly prepaerd and unbelievably unprepared) and the occasional lonliness of being at home with only my parents to hang out with, thus making me super fun these past few days.

After being sick of the funk, I instigated many, many mildly tense conversations with my parents about how I’d really like to use my money to get this thing I’ve been wanting to get for months and months as a small reward for working hard, graduating early, and living at home to save money. I somehow convinced them it was a sound idea, found a way to finance it and today, I went to Best Buy and got myself……

Does that make me an adult too?

’m not old. I know that. By any regular view of the world, I’m right on track with the normal pace of life. I’m 22. I just graduated college. I’m starting a career…soon. Sometimes, though, when my google reader gets to zero, and there’s nothing but bad romantic comedy marathons on television, and I get to facebook stalking some of my old high school friends, I start to feel like I missed out on some giant life shift in the last four years when everyone else became a kind of adult, and I stayed the same.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I am world’s different than I was in high school, but my changes have been mental. I’ve gained confidence. I’ve learned about myself. I’ve kind of figured out what I want in life. A lot of my high school friends, however, in just four years, have gotten engaged, bought houses, gotten married, and had babies. I feel like I just saw them.

I feel like I was just singing next to them in the spring musical, going with them on midnight runs to Steak and Shake, gossiping with them about our English teacher, and sometimes, I feel like (no, I know that) I’m STILL doing these kinds of things. I feel like they are living lives that I can no longer relate to in any way, like they’re adults, and I’m still this weird teenager-young adult hybrid.

Not that I want their lives. A lot of them are still living in their hometowns or some remote suburb just like it. Most of them have jobs like cosmetologist, army wife, or fast food restaurant assistant manager – not that these aren’t respectable choices, but they are just not where I see or want my life going, so it’s not jealously I’m feeling.

I just…I don’t know… find it so weird that in four short years, all of our lives have taken this ridiculously drastic turn away from each other. We were all the same. We all related to one another. We all hung out, and now I’m living at home after finishing college, planning on moving to West LA to live with my gay best friend, while my former classmate is in a hospital praying with her Navy officer husband for their 16-week-premature baby. (I found their blog about him via facebook – if you want to keep him in your thoughts.)

All my friends aren’t in this situation. I certainly have a lot of high school friends still in college. I have friends who have moved or are about move to New York and LA, and friends who are single and loving it. It’s just easier for me to process their situations, because we are all still on the same level, in the same place. To me, they are normal.

It’s hard for me to process marriage when I haven’t had a boyfriend for more than 3 months…ever. It’s hard for me to process having babies when I minorly freaked out at the thought of babysitting a 13-month old. It’s hard for me to feel like I have all the time in the world to get married and have babies when it seems more and more people already have. When did this happen? When did all these people I know as teenagers become adults? One day, we were all the same, and the next, I feel like I don’t even know who these people are anymore.

I think what’s especially weird for me is my parents were those people – those people I in no way relate to. They were married and moving to Oklahoma for my dad to start his time in the Marine Corps at 22. I’M 22! Does that mean I’m an adult now, too? Maybe that’s the whole problem…

The Start of Something Big

Yesterday I got a package in the mail. My mom asked if I ordered something online. Sadly, I answered, no. It wasn’t a fun jewlery or a new MacBook. It was books. Many books. 8 large, bound, small-print books from Teach for America. Books with titles like Instructional Planning and Delivery; Diversity, Community and Achievement; Literacy Theory, and Classroom Management and Culture. Basically, it’s four years worth of college educational instruction packed into 8 books of information for me to read in the next four months.

Thankfully, they break it down into 8 easily stomached lessons to get through in the next few weeks. It’s not that overwhelming time wise, but it is definitely overwhelming emotion wise.

The first reading is about a successful TFA corps members and her struggles and triumphs over four years of teaching in Houston, TX. It is already SO hard to imagine myself doing half the things or having half the successes that she has.

In fact, I had a dream slash nightmare about it last night, where I was kicking ass on my first day of school only to have half of my 50 (yes 50! My classroom was for some reason more akin to a college lecture hall, except it was filled with judging 14 year-olds) students walk out of the room in anger over something I’d said, all while I was being observed by the school’s principal and my program director from TFA. I woke up feeling like a failure, reminding myself that it was a dream and I hadn’t failed at anything yet.

I keep replaying the words one of the TFA staffers told me on the phone the night I was accepted: “We don’t make mistakes. If we choose you to be a corps member, we have no doubt that you can do this. Just imagine that there are students out here waiting for you.” I just have to internalize that myself.

Hitting a Wall

Monday, the honeymoon period with this time of unemployment officially ended. I’ve started feeling useless, bored, and unmotivated. I’m not quite sure what brought it on. I’m thinking it’s a mixture of realizing I no longer have enough time before moving to LA June to get a part-time job without feeling guilty when I leave (after I will have asked off for a trip or two AND for senior week/graduation) and finding out I failed one of the teacher credentialing tests in California.

I keep telling myself to stop complaining about these next few months of nothingness. I’m SO lucky to have a job at all in June, so that I don’t need a job right now, so that I can sit around bored without feeling guilty about it. But I can’t stop feeling guilty about my lack of working. I feel like a drain on my family, even though I’ve done everything right up to this point. I graduated early to save money.

I’m living at home to save money. I worked hard and guaranteed myself a job (with good pay AND health benefits) for the next two years! I should just enjoy this time, but that’s not the kind of person I am. If I’m not contributing right now, I feel bad spending money right now, no matter what I’ve done in the past or will do in the future.

Also not me is this lack of…anything. I need goals and schedules. I need places to go. I need projects, and I have none. I could force myself to read some teaching books, but that isn’t enough to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning. When I agreed to graduate early, I never expected to be in a situation like this.

In my mind, I thought I’d get a part time job to save money and enable me to take some guilt free trips to Boston to see my friends (and thus not feel like I’m missing out on my last semester of college) and maybe finally get myself a DSLR that would keep me busy enough at home, thus making graduating early alright.

Instead, I have no job, since no one around here is hiring (Thanks, Economy!), and thus, have guilt at the thought of traveling or doing ANYTHING that would waste money, even though, I shouldn’t feel guilty (see above). So I’m double bored, as having a job would enable me to have other things to do, and not having a job results in having nothing to do. This is all now exacerbated by the fact that I have to spend some time (and thus, money) in LA to retake the teaching test in March, taking away money AND time I could have used to get a job.

Bah! Ok…no more rambling. I need to think of some things to be excited about: going to LA when my best friend happens to be visiting for Spring Break. The NJ/PA/DE meet-up (hopefully) next week. Getting a new computer soon (ish…this keeps getting pushed back…but I’m being POSITIVE. Postive. Postive. Positive.)

Sorry this post is all woe-is-me when things could be SO much worse, but it feels nice to get this out and not just rant about it to my mom, who just tells me not to feel bad, which I wish I could do.

Enjoying the Break

This week has been …a little weird. Last Friday, I drove up to Boston for my best friend, Jillian’s, birthday weekend. This was my first trip back since finishing school in December, and I didn’t think it would feel that different to be back. I’ve only been away for a month and a half. I thought wrong.

Friday night, I decided to go to make an appearnace at a sorority event, even though, technically I’m not in the sorority anymore. The event is the first one after bid day when we get a new class of girls, and it’s basically just an apartment crawl so the new girls can meet all the current sisters.

It was really nice to see the other seniors again, but as the night went on and the freshman girls got drunker and drunker, I just felt older and older. I don’t think I was the only one – other seniors said they felt a little past apartment parties and questional punch mix drinks – but I just kept thinking “I shouldn’t be here anymore.”

The rest of the weekend wasn’t as jarring as that first night, but there were some weird moments: sleeping on the couch in “my” apartment, while a new, unknown roommate slept in my old room. (I kept walking out of the bathroom and going for the bedroom door only to catch myself before intense awkwardness ensued.)

Listening to everyone talk about activities I was involved in and finding myself not caring nearly as much as I used to. Hearing about classes and thinking how soon, I’ll have to teach one of those myself. It’s like, all the sudden, I had become an outsider without realizing it.

I did have a lot of fun with Jillian, Josh, Megan and some of Jillian’s friends. We ate delicious Mexican food, danced at at euro-trash bar in downtown Boston (along with a 50 year-old lesbian couple and some Mickey Rourke look-a-likes – if only my camera battery hadn’t died! Those pictures would have been EPIC.), went bowling at Lucky Strike (where I got a whopping score of 36), and sang karaoke.

I attempted to avoid the drama of last semester (as I have successfully avoided talking about it here to my constant amazement), and I even got to spend some time with my uncle and cousins (one of whom wrote on the chalk board at my uncle’s house “Amanda you are so nice!” and then told me that I would make an excellent teacher because I have excellent chalk board handwriting. I need to hang out with 2nd graders more often. Big confidence booster.)

I think the weirdest part was when people kept saying to me, “You’re at home? God, you must be so bored!” I kind of nodded and laughed, but I couldn’t really agree with them. After 18 years of constant work and schedules and goals, it feels nice to take a break, to read a book, to cook a big dinner, and to wander around a mall. I thought I would be so home sick for Boston or ready to pack up and move to LA already, but I’m really enjoying this time off. I’m losing some weight (more on that soon!).

I may have found a perfect part-time job. I’m saving up for a computer and (hopefully) a Nikon D90, and I get to spend time with my family. I know that come June, my life is going to be one giant ball of stress and craziness, so right now, I’m just trying to enjoy the break, accomplish some things I haven’t been able to, and relax.

Breaking free of the Twilight haze

I’m sad to admit that this past week I’ve been a bit of a hermit: I haven’t really been online. I’ve only left the house for big outings twice, and I’ve been holed up in my room for hours a day. The cause: Twilight and nothing but Twilight.

Yes, in the last week and a half, I’ve plowed through all four of Stephenie Meyer’s novels, and yes, even went to see the movie a second time. (I mean, I had to see it now that I really understand the story. I have to say, it was definitely better when I understood why Edward looks like he’s in pain for most of the film…)

I know I’m way behind the curve on this one. Twilight talk was EVERYWHERE in November, but I was kind of wrapped up in my last semester of college, and now that I have nothing but free time, I no longer had an excuse. I really didn’t want to give in, but my love of all things pop culture forced me to understand what all the fuss was about. Now I finally get to have an opinion! It’s a complicated one, but here goes:

I can’t say I think the books are good, but I also definitely can’t say they’re bad either. I mean, I couldn’t put them down. Even with my ridiculous love of getting completely wrapped up in a book, that fact says a lot about the story. And there is the distinction I have to draw: the books present an amazingly engrossing story.I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Stephenie Meyer says herself she considers herself more a story-teller than a writer, and I think that’s an apt description, because as wrapped up in the story as I was, I still found myself cringing at points, especially in Twilight, at the repetitive language and overly fluffy writing. I know everyone has said this, but if she had described Edward’s heart-stopping beauty one more time, I thought I was going to throw the book out the window. That said, I wouldn’t have because I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! It was mildly frustrating. Especially because I wanted to find myself above the books: I wanted to hate them. And I didn’t. I enjoyed them. A lot. Damn you, Stephenie.

(EDIT: I was told by my mother I should pause here for a brief SPOILER ALERT in case I’m not the last person to read these books.)

There were more things I found frustrating: the feeling all through New Moon that nothing happened (and when it did, it had nothing to do with anything that had happened thus-far in the book), Edward’s ridiculous perfection but also his mild creepiness (I mean, he’s wonderful and all, but if a real guy acted like him, I would probably be telling him to take a giant step back…), the fact that Bella and Jacob kept having the same good-bye scene over and over and over again, the slight creepiness of the Jacob-Renesmee situation in Breaking Dawn…

While on the subject of Breaking Dawn, I was told by all my friends who had read the book that they hated it, that it took so many weird turns, so maybe I was prepared, but I didn’t hate it. I mean, I found problems with all the books, so Breaking Dawn pretty much fell in line with my expectations. Yeah, the whole pregancy, having to drink blood, baby-breaking Bella’s ribs thing was weird and a little scary, but I thought it was kind of cool. I mean, in a vampire book, it had to get creepy eventually.

It’s amazing it took this long to get bloody, when you actually think about it. Plus, I loved that in the end, Bella really did have to become a vampire to live, and I was happy to get to see that transformation. It felt gratifying.

The thing that bugged me the most was that the timeline felt really compressed (did anyone else think they talked about the events in New Moon like they had happened years rather than months beforehand?), but it all made sense, I suppose. I also think, like with Harry Potter, this was definitely not a young adult novel…at all. Despite all these frustrations, though, I have to say again, I liked the books. It’s weird. I don’t think I’ve ever been this torn about enjoying a book before.

There is SO much more I can say, but I really need to break away from this world. It’s been totally engrossing to me, and I’m glad I finally feel caught up on pop culture after putting it off for a while, but I need to get some other things done that Edward Cullen has kept me from. Up next, I promise, I’ll finish my trip recap!