Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't it always seem to go...

So the first half of Round 3 has come and gone. I really enjoyed working with the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity - probably my favorite project so far, at least work-wise. Our second half of the Round has been canceled twice and I'm still not sure where we're going after next weekend. Hopefully we find out soon. And hopefully it isn't Iowa, since we'll be here Sept. 10 - Nov. 2 anyway. Or I guess technically until Nov. 15 when we leave.

[UPDATE: We'll be working with the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity Aug. 20-Sept. 10. So much for getting out of this state.]

My heart is really heavy right now. I don't know how to deal with things. I need to figure out a plan for when this is over. I've got nothing. I think I want to do another AmeriCorps program, but I haven't really found one yet that I'm that interested in.

Our Round 4 project will be in Monticello, Iowa working at Camp Courageous. I think we're counselors, and we're working with adults with disabilities. These last 3 months will be challenging that's for sure.

I don't really have anything else to say, I just wanted to update for the sake of updating. I guess I'll end with the poem I wrote for my individual reflection for the Habitat project.

Building Home

A board here and a board there,
The smell of sawdust in the air
A plan, a dream, time spent for free
Hammers and nails swung carelessly

The sun beats down, an itchy treat
Nobody said insulation was an easy feat
It’s coming together, it’s almost done
Just finishing touches are what’s to come

Sweat and dedication make for tales in this
Some paint to mask the blemishes
Sod and dirt and rocks look pretty
Isn’t this poem just super witty?

From the ground up, a house comes together
Despite the time, the people, the weather
With tears and laughter, memories shown
A life to make this house a home

-Ashley Carmichael

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Round 2

Okay so obviously I'm a huge slacker when it comes to updating this thing. And we're leaving in the morning and I still need to do some stuff, so this is going to be short and sweet.

[Perhaps I'll update with a more detailed post about how Round 1 went soon.]

So we're heading out bright and early again! This time for Valparaiso, IN. We'll be camping at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens. In tents. But only for two weeks. I'm actually pretty excited. We'll be doing invasive species removal on 10 acres of land.

May 17th we head out for our second project this round - The Baldwin Center in Pontiac, MI. We'll be doing infrastructure improvement there, as well as facilitating classes/tutoring kids K-8. Also pretty excited about that. I like working with children. It'll be interesting, for sure.

This weekend we're going to Chicago! I've never been so I'm super excited. Plus Travis is going to be there that day as well, coincidentally enough, so I'm hoping we can meet up. Lots of cool opportunities coming up...possibly Canada? ;D

What very mysterious things days were. Sometimes they fly by, and other times they seem to last forever, yet they are all exactly twenty-four hours. There's quite a lot we don't know about them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It feels like July

Tomorrow starts the beginning of week 2 here in Youngstown, OH! Six weeks left. The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) is a really cool organization, and it's obvious that they have a huge impact on this city.

We spent the week working at the Iron Roots Urban Farm clearing the lot and helping to build the tables for the green house. We'll be back at the farm this week finishing up so that they can start planting seeds.

There was a community work day on Saturday, and we boarded up some vacant houses and cleared another lot. It's been unusually hot for March so it's been a huge challenge for me to spend 9 hours working outside.

The team also received chainsaw training, though only three of us will be thoroughly trained and able to actually use it - Dustyn, Jackie, and Santonio.

We're staying at a church rectory just outside of the city. It's pretty nice, there's wifi so I can't complain too much.

I've already exceeded my goal for media hits, and it's only been a week. The Vindicator (local newspaper) as well as WKBN-27 came out on Friday. We were on the news that night. It was pretty cool.

This past week was so draining, I hope that it calms down a little. It's exhausting to have to wake up before 5 to work out and then go to work by 8 until 5:30. And then to have stuff after work every day. I don't know if I can handle another week like that. This week is also going to be difficult because our team leader has to leave for a funeral, so she'll be gone Wed.-Sun. We're getting one of the STL's, but I still think it's going to be kind of chaotic.

I'm trying to set up an ISP for next weekend and/or the following weekend at the Playhouse. I miss theatre so any opportunity to help out there would probably make my week.

There's also a really cool park around here - Mill Creek Park. I can remember always seeing a picture for it, but I never realized where it was. I hope we can check it out a little more as well.

Yesterday we went to lunch downtown at a place called the Lemon Grove. Our waitress was a previous NCCC member from Iowa, Class 16. Small world. Today we checked out this coffee place downtown - Joe Maxx. I love independent coffee shops. I love coffee in general. xD

Not much else has been going on, just getting used to the idea of being in Ohio again and trying not to be super bummed about it. My mom and grandma will probably come visit, so that will be cool. I was hoping to maybe go home for a weekend, but our off days are Sunday and Monday so I don't know if it's going to be possible.

Looking forward to getting stuff done and heading back to Iowa next month. I'm still having trouble taking things day by day. I'm ready for the next part of the adventure. I think maybe if we were anywhere else I might feel differently, but I guess we'll see if anything's different when that's the case.

Until something exciting happens...
How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
~Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Round 1

I totally called where we'd be going! Because obviously it would be the one place I didn't want to go: Ohio. Yep, I will be in Youngstown, OH from March 12-April 27.

Our mini project was pretty cool. We worked with Matthew 25 Ministry Hub in Cedar Rapids, IA. We did canvassing the first day and half of the second day. After that we began mapping out gardens for a community farm. Part of our team actually went back on Saturday to do an ISP (Independent Service Project) and finish mapping out a few more of the gardens. It was cold and snowy most of the day, but I feel like we accomplished quite a bit.

Our mini project was a great way to see how everyone on the team worked together. There were a few problems of course, but I thought that we did pretty good working together, considering.

We also went through a little bit of an ordeal and lost two of our members.

 We went to Cedar Rapids again last night for a team dinner at Red Robin. It was good, I'd never been there before. Our team is goofy. This excites me. :)

This week is a lot less training, but at the same time it feels more stressful. Probably because we're doing all of our project prep and my partner and I have a lot of paperwork to do for Media and SLI. Hopefully this year will make me less of a procrastinator.

Induction is Thursday. It's crazy that it's been one month since I got here. For the shortest month, it sure dragged on. It feels like I've been here so much longer.

Our Round 1 project is with Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. We're going to be doing urban gardening, boarding of vacant homes (painting boards cut to size to resemble doors and windows), and clearing vacant lots. We leave Sunday morning at 8. I was kind of hoping we'd get sent on disaster relief for the tornadoes, but oh well. There's always the opportunity for that.

I probably won't post again until after I'm in Ohio, where we'll have wireless at the house we're staying at! I'm so stoked! xD

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. - Bernice Johnson Reagon

Monday, February 27, 2012

What day is it again?

I know I've been slacking on here, but I've been super busy/too tired to gather all my thoughts collectively to make an update. Nothing that exciting has really happened since my last post, though. Just training, training, and more training.

I'm not really sure where to start. Oh! I passed the van driving test, so I'm able to drive the 15 passenger van. Which is exciting, cause I don't think I could have gone the whole 10 months without driving at all. PT was pretty brutal last week. Surprisingly not the 5:30 part, mostly just the actual physical training; I'm so out of shape. It's gotten a little better each time though.

Found out our Rep Roles. I am one of the Media Representatives as well as one of the Service Learning Initiators. Although media is something I'm familiar with, it's more press and stuff like that. I hate being interviewed and doing cold calls, so it's definitely going to be challenging. I wasn't even sure what SLI was when I was assigned the role, and I'm not even confident in how to explain it so I'm not going to really try. It's way outside of my comfort zone and I'm already overwhelmed by both. It's definitely going to be rough.

We start our three day mini spike tomorrow. Our team will be working with the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub in Cedar Rapids. The first day we will be surveying members of the community to collect data of the communities' preferred fruits and vegetables. The remaining days we will be spreading soil and mapping out a community garden that will be planted in April. Pretty excited.

Despite looking forward to this mini project, I can't help but be curious about where our Round 1 spike is going to be/what it's going to be. I know I need to get better at focusing on the present and not the future, but I've been having a lot of trouble with that recently. I've been stressing about life after AmeriCorps and what I'll do or where I'll go from here. It's difficult not thinking about that, and I shouldn't completely not think about it, but I need to learn to just live for today. That's one of my goals this year.

This feels really short, but my brain just isn't functioning right at the moment; being sickly isn't helping either. Plus, I need to go clean my room for room inspection tomorrow. Priorities!

I'll try to update again this weekend with details on how the mini spike was. :)

"There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maple 7

It's funny how it's only been a week, but it feels like months that I've been here. Everything is going so fast, which is good I suppose. The sooner we make it through CTI the sooner we'll be out on our first spike. No idea where we'll be going or what we'll be doing yet, but I'm definitely excited to get out there.

Yesterday we had van driver training, and part of that was learning how to change a tire. With my track record in car problems, I'm kind of surprised I've never had to do this before. It was actually really cool because one of the guys on my team knows a lot about this stuff, so he kind of took charge. But we still all got a chance to step forward and have a hand in the activity. Which is cool, because I think it's important to have a team that's willing to work together.

Maple 7! That's what's up. My team is pretty awesome, I like everyone.

That picture is so ridiculous, but those are my awesome blue coveralls! They were actually my team leaders last year - pretty random, but still kind of cool.

Today we "explored the community". Also known as driving five minutes to town and parking at the library before walking around and checking some of the places out. The library is pretty cool. It's very small and they don't have that much stuff but I'll definitely be utilizing it. Then we checked out the coffee shop. It was so cute! I love independent coffee places, but their hours are terrible. 7-2 Monday-Friday. And only open till noon on Saturday? I'll never really get another chance to go there.

Vinton is so tiny, it takes no time at all to just walk around. Which can be nice, I guess; but there really isn't that much here. I'm not used to such a small town.

Oh! We took our first road trip Monday as well, to Iowa City for our ropes course (that actually didn't involve any ropes). I really enjoyed it. Learned a bit about myself, as well as my team. So that was a fun little adventure.

Van driver road test is on Friday. Just a smidge nervous for that portion. Not sure what driving a 15-passenger van is going to be like. ISP (Independent Service Projects) training is on Saturday, and a few of us on my team are wanting to get started straight away, so hopefully we can line something up for Sunday. Everything moves pretty fast here.

I realize there's no organization to this update. My mind is a jumbled mess, and I can't really focus right now so I think I'm just going to leave it at that. Positive note, right?

Okay maybe one more picture.

It snowed the other day. I kept trying to start a snowball fight. With no luck. :p

I think I took this looking out one of the main doors of Rice Hall, which is the dorm I'm living in. Or sleeping in. I think I spend more time in Palmer, because the only wifi is over here.

Through the underground tunnels.

Oh! Almost forgot. PT starts Monday morning at 5:30. Super excited for that!

Please note sarcasm. Hah.

"We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake." - Marie B. Ray

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Iowa, finally!

It's day two in Iowa! I still can't believe I'm finally here. It's been a long process, but I know it's going to be worth it. :)

Dorm living is different. I don't mind it for the most part, though I'm not a fan of the bathroom situation. I guess I'll get used to it. I only have one roommate, so that's good. No internet in our dorm though. :( Such a bummer, but it's just a short walk through a couple underground tunnels to get to the other dorm where there is wifi, so I guess I'll be spending a lot of time over here.

And yes, there are tunnels. It's actually pretty cool. They run between all the buildings here. Who needs to go outside, anyway? Especially when it's freezing.

Not much has been going on so far. Lots of meetings going over rules and regulations. We were also issued our uniforms. Obviously some very stylish threads - you'd be jealous of my rain gear and jumpsuit.

Haven't had a chance to really take many pictures. I will though. There's a shuttle into Cedar Rapids this weekend, I haven't decided if I want to go or just hang around Vinton and explore here. I really want to check out the $2 theatre, so I may just do that.

Everyone seems pretty nice so far. All the Team Leader's and staff are super awesome and seem to really enjoy this campus and what they do, so that's exciting. I can't wait to find out my team for the year this Sunday. And then where our first spike will be, though I know it's going to be several more weeks before that. For now I'll settle with just knowing my team.

I'm also debating trying out for the Wildland Fire Team. I originally thought that I was going to, but now after hearing about it I'm not so sure. I just don't really feel like I'm up to par. And I really don't want to throw my back out or anything. Still debating that.

But I can't wait to actually start making a difference.  March 8th is our induction, I believe. And then I'm assuming our spikes start right after that. Just have to make it through this first month of training. It's going to be tough, but so worth it.

"And now...let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure." - Dumbledore

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flights and Cats

So I'm having a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that I'm going to be leaving my cat for so long. She's been the only constant in my life these past three and a half years. As ridiculous as it might sound, I'm having a mini-breakdown right now.
She's going to hate me.

On a happier note, I got my flight information the other day.

I leave Charleston at 5:45 a.m. [Thank God it's a small airport and I don't have to be there ridiculously ahead of time.] Get to Chicago around 6:30. Leave from there around 8:30. Iowa at 9:30.

The 8th is going to be a really long day. Lots of coffee.

Hard to believe in two weeks I'll finally be there. Maybe I should start packing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Okay so, I think it's actually starting to hit me that I'm going away soon. 20 days left in town. Nine work days left. Where did the time go?

Not that I'm complaining all that much, I've been ready to leave this place since I moved back here nearly two years ago. But that's beside the point. Despite being constantly torn between emotions,  I am never able to talk myself out of it. I can't help but feel like this is my last chance to figure everything out. Figure myself out. What I want from life, for myself. Where I'm supposed to be. What I'm meant to be doing.

Shouldn't I know all that by now? I never pictured at 24 I'd be so lost.

As my final days before this journey dwindle away more quickly than the previous, I find myself feeling more and more sad. That's normal though, right? But I've done it before, shouldn't I be used to leaving by now? To saying goodbye? I think overall I hate growing attached to people because I know that I don't plan on staying. And so when it does happen, I don't know what to do. I thought I was better at keeping myself guarded. I've only been at my current job five months and I'm really going to miss those people.

But people phase in and out of your life all the time. Some will always be there for you. Most won't. It is what it is. I'm really bad at being a hit and run kind of person. I don't like staying at any one place for longer than necessary. I don't like getting attached.

I think that's one of the things that I found appealing about Americorps. It's 10 months and then 'see-ya later!'.  That's really just one small thing, though. There's so much I'm looking forward to in the next 10 months. The things we'll do. Places we'll go. Lives we'll change.

It's going to be one helluva year.

[And this was a lot of rambling. I think I'm being overly emotional and trying to not think about getting my wisdom teeth removed tomorrow.]

Hopefully next time I'll have my flight itinerary!  (:

"And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another Year, Another Adventure

Happy New Year!!

I'm so ready for this adventure, I almost wish that we could skip January and just get on with it already. Although I have absolutely nothing ready and together. But I have made a list!

I give it another three weeks before I start panicking.

There's so much to look forward to this year. I'm more than ready for it.

Bring it on 2012.

38 days.