Monday, July 30, 2012

weekend update

This weekend was the first weekend where I was in Jacksonville adn actually enjoyed my entire weekend.  I spent a lot of time with Anna and Mike, but I also hung out with City Year people for a while, too. 

Friday during the day we got some very exciting news! We were approved for the house that we wanted!  It was such an exciting piece of news to recieve on Friday afternoon. We move in on Wednesday and I couldn't be more happy.  We don't have a lot of basic things, like plates or silverware, but we have a house and that's all that matters.

our new abode! Front porch and all!
Friday night, the entire City Year staff and senior corps went out for drinks as one last hurrah before the corps came.  One thing that I do like about being at a small site is the fact that senior corps and staff can hang out and drink together.  We couldn't do that in Boston and while I see both sides of the argument, I am glad that it's this way here. After grabbing a drink with them, I went to Anna's for an Olympics viewing party.  It's weird being the only non-Navy person there, but Anna watches out for me and I'm getting to know at least one of her friends, so it's not that bad. We all agreed that the opening ceremonies were okay, but nothing compared to Bejing. Plus, the technology era was strange and the huge baby was, to quote Dan Rather, "I don't know if that's cute or creepy."

I spent the night at Anna's on Friday and we went to the beach on Saturday.  Poor Mike was definitely the odd man out and had to listen to all of our girl talk all day.  The beach was perfect. I'm going again this weekend for sure. The water was the right temperature and was pretty calm.  We got to the beach around 12:30 and layed out for two and a half hours before deciding that we were hungry.  We went to Al's for pizza (pesto chicken pizza...yuuuummm) and literally the minute we stepped into the restaurant, it started to pour.  It rains every afternoon in Jacksonville and the joke is "If you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes."  This downpour lasted more than ten minutes, but our timing couldn't have been more perfect. 

After the beach, I headed home and just relaxed for the rest of the weekend. I watched more than my fair share of the Olympics and lounged around the hotel.   It was a relaxing end to the weekend and I was very thankful for it.

I think that I have finally adjusted to Jacksonville.  I still don't have a core group of friends or that one friend I can go to with anything (besides Anna who's leaving in a month), but I have that other places. Right now, I have adjusted a little bit and am learning my way around the city. I knew this feeling would come, but I'm glad that it's here and I'm starting to feel comfortable. Boston still has my heart, though.
lazy best friend beach day :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

things are looking up!

The hotel next door has a business center with two free computers, so I've been able to come over here and do work.  I can also update my blog here, which is awesome!

The past week has been a lot better. I miss the stability and sense of belonging that I had in Boston, but I know that it will come with time. Things here have been a lot better. I hung out with Anna and Mike on  Monday, went to trivia with City Year people on Wednesday and am watching the Olympics and going to the beach with Anna and Mike this weekend.  It's so helpful to have Anna here, but I also feel like we're starting to hang out as a City Year group, which is awesome.

The most exciting development is that we found a house that we love and put in an application yesterday for it! It's got four bedrooms and two bathrooms, hardwood floors, a huge backyard, and laundry in the house. It's in the historic district, so it's a cute old house.  And, it's blue, just like my house in Boston. I must be attracted to blue houses!  Let's just hope that our application goes through. The sooner I can get out of the exteded stay, the better!

We're still working out of a hotel and I still don't feel like I myself have a lot to do, so that lends for a lot of just hanging around.  I know that once we get in schools, it'll get busy and I'll long for these days of relaxation, but it would be nice to have some more stuff to do. Right now, it's mainly just meetings with some preparation for when the corps comes on Monday!

Anyways, things are looking up. I hope things keep getting better and better!

"Plant seeds for the tree whose shade you'll never enjoy."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CY Academy

So, I'm borrowing a computer for the day so I can do work, but I figured I would spend my lunch break updating my blog while I have a computer.

I spent the last week in Boston at City Year's Summer Academy.  I can't explain to you how great it was to be back in Boston. I almost started crying on the T when we passed Back Bay.  It had been a rough week in Jacksonville, not really able to go anywhere or do anything. Thank goodness for Anna.

Anyways, I was beyond elated to be back in Boston, even if it was only temporary. We stayed at Northeastern for the week and had endless amounts of trainings on literacy, math and leadership.  Some of the trainings were a little repetitive, but most were helpful.  I was chosen to represent Jacksonville in the opening ceremony.  I, along with one person from every other site, gave a statement about why we serve, in front of all 1000 summer academy attendees.  It was a cool experience. Almost every morning started out with a speaker, such as Michael Brown (CEO) or Jim Balfanz (President) gave presentations on the long-term impact goals or the state of City Year, which were really inspiring.  They were also hilarious.  Definitely great motivators to get through long days of trainings.

Academy itself was great.  The trainings were put together and professional.  The schedule was intense, but motivating.  And the food was delicious.  It was really hard being back in Boston, though.  As much as I love it, it made it that much harder to be there.  I was dreading leaving on Saturday and kept thinking about how much I wanted to be there.   Plus, I wanted to be in Boston for City Year, not Jacksonville.  One of my friends who's doing start-up at another site put it perfectly.  She said, "It's like trying out for the baseball team and getting making the soccer team.  As much fun as the soccer team is, it's hard to watch the baseball team because that's what you wanted to do." Jacksonville has gotten a lot better, especially now that I have a car, but it's no Boston. I'm sure it will grow on me more and I'll have a hard time leaving at the end of the year, but right now, Boston has my heart and soul.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First couple of days in JAX

I'm doing this on my phone, so I don't know how long and detailed it will be, but I figured I would try.

I packed my bags and left Boston early Tuesday morning. My friend Caroline came and stayed with me on Monday to help keep me calm and thank goodness she did. When I moved to Boston, I spent the week before alone in my house and I was a mess. I wasn't about to let that happen this time, so I recruited Caroline. She's one of those friends that I sometimes wonder how I got so lucky to have.

Anyways, after many tears, two flights and a layover, I arrived in Jacksonville. Anna and Mike met me at the airport and we headed back to their house. We got there around dinner time and Anna made pesto and pasta for dinner. Shawn, Mike's best man, came over and we hung out. I am so thankful for Anna and Mike throughout this entire process because I couldn't have done it without them logistically. I am having boxes and furniture shipped to their house. I also know that I would have been a mess staying alone in a hotel. Again, these types of friends are rare and I am truly blessed.

Anyways, on Wednesday, Anna had plans already with a friend and I had to work in the afternoon. It was actually just registration day, so it only took a few hours. Anna left me her car, so I drove to the hotel where I was staying and met The staff. I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely wasn't expecting to work out of a hotel room, which is exactly what we did. There were laptops set up on the tables and people were sitting on the bed. It was a mess. There were four senior corps members, including myself and we All had to fill out registration forms and on board, which meant a lot of time where one person was doing stuff on the computer and the other three were just awkwardly hanging out. Everyone seemed nice, but it was really quiet and awkward. There were a lot of times where something wouldn't work right and then we'd be just sitting there while they called someone to figure it out. When I finished everything, I was so emotionally exhausted I just needed to go back to Anna's to see a familiar face. I stopped at Target and bought her a bottle of wine and then headed on my way back to her house. Mike was working, so it was just Anna and I. We made frozen pizza and just hung out. One of her friends stopped by for a little bit and relaxed with us. I was so glad to just be able to go back to her house after such an awkward and quiet start. She drove me back to the hotel around nine thirty and we parted ways.

Yesterday was a lot more fast paced and not a lot of awkward down time. The two Program Managers led the day. We went over the process of starting a site, played a jeopardy game about Jacksonville trivia (which I won!!) and went over the roles of senior corps. We all ate lunch together, which was nice, and then in the afternoon we found out where we'll be serving.

I'm going to be at Jackson High School, which is the lowest performing high school in Florida. I am going to be in a classroom 60% of the time and then helping recruit and gain support throughout the city for the rest of the time. I'm really nervous about being in a high school, but I keep reminding myself of how nervous I was last year when I had middle schoolers.

Today was pretty short. We started with PT in a park. There were eight of us so it was definitely different than in Boston. After PT, we headed inside to the library and got to work. We started with the leadership compass workshop which is like the epitome of city year. It labels your leadership style by a compass direction. I am primarily a south which is the empathetic, feelings type of leader. That basically took all morning. Afterwards, we went out for an official team lunch. We went to this Caribbean restaurant by my school and I think I may have found my new love. It's name is curried chicken.

The afternoon was pretty short since next week is going to be insane. We just went over what Summer Academy is going to look like. I'm really excited because I think it will be more like the City Year I know and love. Academy is a week of training for every senior corps member across the country. It's held at Northeastern and I'm so excited to be back in Boston.

I have really missed City Year Boston this past week. I miss the sense of stability and organization. Staying in a hotel also doesn't help the feeling of just disorganization. I felt like this the week before City Year last year, but it was calmed by the start of service. Here, I think I might take longer, but I am confident that it can happen.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

new year. new blog.

As many of you know, I'm about to embark on another year with City Year.  This time, though, I'm leaving New England and heading down south to help start a site in Jacksonville, Florida.  This was definitely a last minute decision, but I'm elated to be able to take part in this adventure. 

I loved keeping my blog last year and think it was such a great way to share my stories with my friends and family, but also served as a great way to help me remember the little things that happened throughout the year.  It was a blast reading my posts this summer from the beginning of the year.  There were a ton of things I had forgotten until I looked back and reread my blog.

I hope that for those of you who read my blog last year will continue to follow my journey.  For those of you who are new, welcome!  I hope that you will jump on the blogging bandwagon and follow my ups and downs and I try and keep kids in school and on track with the help of City Year.