Hot buttered roll

Currently, at this very moment, I’m in the midst of submitting a freelance proposal for some social-emotional curriculum writing. I occasionally do freelance work and this project seems to fit my skill set and background to a T.

But, I’m stuck.

I already know I’d probably like the people I’d be working with because they added one of those informal, “fun” questions to the proposal page. “What food would you be and why?”

For some reason, I cannot decide! I am overthinking it, clearly.

A chocolate chip cookie. Because who doesn’t love me?! ūüėČ

Salt. But, that doesn’t really seem like¬†food¬†so would they judge me for that?

A potato. I am versatile, hearty, and sometimes have odd physical characteristics. (e.g. a pesky plantar wart and whitehead in my nose that won’t go away!) TMI, sorry!

Pizza. A banana. A peach. Popcorn. Quinoa. Oats. A sweet potato. Avocado. Guacamole. Chips. Almond butter. Yogurt. Eggs. Granola bar. Everything bagel seasoning. Nutritional yeast.

At this point I’m just listing off the items in our fridge and cupboards. You learned a lot, didn’t you?

Twenty minutes ago, I stooped to the G level. Google.

Then I went to the B level from the G level. Buzzfeed.

Where I proceeded to take this quiz.

I have stooped levels, friends.

And here you have it:

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Tooooootally appropriate and spot on, right?¬†ūüėȬ†ūüėܬ†

And…pressing submit!

 

 

 

 

Thursday volunteering

Back in January, when the post-holiday + dark days + underemployment blues hit, I thought it might be a good idea to try some volunteering during days where I wasn’t subbing. I was already volunteering with a local mentoring program on Tuesday evenings, but I was looking for something a) not necessarily youth-specific and b) that had daytime volunteer opportunities. I poked around the internet, but ultimately it was a tweet by Chelsea Clinton that made me sign up to volunteer with City Harvest. They fit my limited criteria and, to me, their mission is extremely impactful. While they don’t serve my community specifically, as part of the Greater NYC area I still can relate to the scope of their programs.

First I had to sign up for a volunteer training. That took a couple months to get a date that I could attend that wasn’t already filled up. Then, there was the crazy-ness that was this spring. So, no dice. Finally, a few weeks ago I got the weekly email blast highlighting ¬†projects that are short on volunteers. It was on a Thursday from 10-1. Hmmm? I don’t know if I could make it back in time.

In time for what, Tremaine?…Yes, exactly.

The volunteer opportunities take place all over the city, but the one I would be helping with was at their warehouse in Long Island City, which is here. Usually we walk the mile-ish to the NJ version of the subway called the Path, but in these suffocating summer days we’ve sometimes taken the bus via the Lincoln Tunnel. We should do this more, it is jus another thing to pay for. But the bus stop is 1 block away, so sometimes it is totally worth the extra $3.50. I got on the bus on Day 4 of the Penn Station Amtrak construction “fun”, so even later in rush hour the tunnel traffic was b.r.u.t.a.l. Eventually I made it to Penn Station, where I got on the subway and made my way under the other river.

After a short walk, with a killer view of the eastern Midtown, I got to a very industrial building. I knew what to expect, thank you Google Maps Street View, but there were so many construction crews working on the sidewalk, semi-truck trailers, the road, the gate, the sky! Kidding about the sky, but navigating my way to the entrance did not seem like something I should have been doing without a hardhat, haha. They really need some better signage to get you back to their entrance at the last dock of of the bay, but after wandering like a sweaty cat some nice man made sure I was going in the right direction by simply saying, “Just keep going.” Thanks, man.

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Empire, Chrysler, UN…and a bunch of stuff in-between.¬†

Our project was nothing Earth-saving. It was stuffing gift bags and some other help for their upcoming fundraising gala. Their biggest fundraising event of the year. There were about 10 of there to assemble 300+ gift bags. This is where I’m going to sound like a b****. I think I could have done it faster by myself. But, I had to remind myself I was volunteering during the daytime on a weekday, that stereotypically attracts a certain type of person. Yes?

We made our little assembly line, which was HIGHLY inefficient, but who am I to correct a couple grandmas seasoned veterans with clearly more gift-bagging experience than me?

When we were finished we made what they call “re-pack” bags with mesh netting. If you checked out their website you might have already read this, but one thing they do is take bulk shipments of produce, say one ton of onions, and then repack them into 5 lb. bags to give to food pantries, soup kitchens, etc. After that, we were able to get a tour of the facility with the warehouse manager. He doesn’t normally do the tours, so we got kind of lucky because I think some of his information was a little less scripted and informal. It really was fascinating to see SO. MUCH. FOOD., but know that within a matter of days it will be in the hands of people who are food insecure. The warehouse processes at least 5 semi-trailers of food a day. We watched watermelons from Georgia get unloaded. 10 tons of watermelon get unloaded in a matter of minutes. The process and efficiency that the warehouse demonstrated in our short tour was astonishing.

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An aisle of dry-goods. Imagine a mini Costco? They also have a refrigerated room and freezer room. Product on these shelves is changing daily. 
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Sometimes the organization has to take items that are harder for them to move in order to get the stuff their recipients need most. For example, this is a 900 lb. box of loose elbow macaroni. Imagine how many boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese you’d have to empty to fill this? They can’t break it down into smaller bags because they don’t have a “clean room” and very few places do. So, they are hopeful one of a handful of agencies in NYC with a clean room will take it (and its brother palleted below) off their hands.¬†

Riding my gift-bag high, I decided I should ride the East River Ferry to Wall Street and then somehow work my way back. The ferry was lovely. Best $2.75 I think you could spend on public transit. However, next time in 95 degrees I need to actually bring a lunch and have cash to buy more water on demand. (This is random unsolicited advice, but if you come to NYC and want to ensure you can combat dehydration and low blood sugar on demand as to not pass out on the sidewalk, carry cash! Consequently, we rarely carry cash and have still yet to adhere to my own advice.)

I decided to write about this experience because this, again, is something that being underemployed allowed me to do. And I was grateful to be the 32 year-old who shows up on a Thursday ready to run in circles around the assembly line and get shit done.

 

Love, all

July 12, wowza!

One sporting event that I have very fond memories of every summer is Wimbledon. I remember watching it with my mom early in the mornings during summer break. If we were visiting my grandma, it was even more fun to watch because of her enthusiasm for basically any American, but especially the Williams sisters.¬†¬†I remember getting back from church and often being able to watch the end of the men’s final match, one of the few Sundays every year I was glad we were an “early church” family.

I for¬†sure wanted to be a ball girl. I thought that would be THE COOLEST! My senior year in college I even dressed up as a wimbledon ball girl and my friend Mike was a matching ball boy. Yep. It wasn’t Halloween, but it was a costume party, so don’t judge too harshley. We carried around tennis balls to house parties. I have pictures. You won’t see them.

My sister and I were in London during the early rounds of the 2007 Wimbledon tournament. We decided we would go on a scouting trip to the All England Club so we knew the lay of the land and what to expect in terms of a line/queue. (The Wimbledon general admission queue can be pretty epic.) It was literally the first place we headed in London after we dropped our bags at our hotel and enjoyed stomached our first undercooked English breakfast.

Well, to our luck, it had been a rainy morning so when we got to the All England Club via the tube, there was NO line. Before we knew it, our jet-lagged faces were enjoying strawberries and cream on Henman Hill! And then, before I knew it, I was buying a way-too-expensive long-sleeve polo shirt because I was freezing.  Preparedness was not a travel skill I had perfected yet.  I remember hoping to see one of my crushes at the time, Andy Roddick, but I had to settle on buying a postcard of him.

Here are some pictures that are real “winners”. ūüėČ

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I don’t look tired at all!
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Like my new shirt?
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Being “artistic” with my strawberries. Also, I JUST realized, while hanging out on Henman Hill, we watched a young Novak Djokovic before he really became a tennis superstar.

 

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Henman Hill!
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Just an 18 year-old, a WWJD bracelet, and a queue card.
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I wish I would has known how to take a good picture back then.

The summer has been serving up travel, marathon training, and life, but today is quiet and I can watch Wimbledon at 8 a.m. Advantage, me.

Did you catch all my tennis puns? ūüé嬆‚̧ԳŹ¬†ūüėČ

Vacation, now what?

Vacation! There was a point at which I didn’t know if it would happen. We had unexpected passport crisis. ¬†I was having visions we wouldn’t get to go at all. I was freaking out. Then I read the Yelp reviews of the NYC passport office. Yep, the YELP REVIEWS OF THE PASSPORT OFFICE SAVED MY SANITY AND HAPPINESS. (Talk about a sentence I did not think I would ever write…) Originally scheduled to depart Friday, we spent the weekend in purgatory/at home. Finally we were able to meet our family in Toulouse, France. We missed out on a couple days in Paris, but we were just happy to be out of the MF country. ¬†We were greeted at the airport with open arms and tasty snacks from a Parisian bakery. I’m not sure which I was more excited about. ūüėČ Andrew hadn’t seen his uncle in 30ish years, so I clearly had never met him. He ran to us! He and his wife were such gracious, loving, hilarious, patient, and happy hosts. We made a lifetime of memories. I could go on and on about the details of the trip, and maybe ¬†someday I will recount the highlights, but today I’m dwelling on the, “So that’s done, now what?”

I missed the last two weeks of the school year with this trip. School is out. I’ve had my vacation. Andrew is in California for work this week and I’m alone. I’ve done the laundry, unpacked/put away 96% of our things, bought groceries, filled and Amazon Pantry box, started running again, chatted with my sister, chatted with some friends. So, now what? The last two summers a move has been brewing right around this time. Moving was my excuse. Moving gave me plenty to do. Moving took time. Moving was stressful. Moving was exciting. Moving let me cut myself some slack when it came to my next professional move.

There is no moving this summer. Thank the Lord. This also means it is time to face, head-on, the question. So, now what?

Today I looked at my usual round-up of job websites and logged into LinkedIn for the first time in ages. I browsed. I day-dreamed of a commute to midtown or lunching in Washington Square Park. That was enough for today. I’ll get there. Or I’ll get somewhere else.

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Simple things can be perfect things. A door in Gordes, FR.

 

A new day

Today the sun decided to shine today. And it was good. It is good.

I just re-read what I wrote yesterday. I still have those feelings and anxiety, but again…LITM. Wait, that’s not a YOLO-type acronym you say? Live in the moment…LITM. This correlates nicely to my saying yes mantra, which my husband reminded me of when he told me this morning to go back and re-read this.

I don’t know what I’m going to do after we get back from vacation. That’s ok. I’ll be ok. I’m a lucky one who is privileged enough to have many of life necessities and luxuries, so my internal struggle sometimes needs some perspective. I had some perspective today, thanks to the sun.

 

As I mentioned yesterday, we are headed to France on Friday! We are celebrating my in-laws’ 40th wedding anniversary! We will be in Paris for a few days and then spend the rest of our trip in the southern region, specifically Albi. We have a short road trip planned to Provence as well and I am really hopeful we’ll get to see some early lavender blooms even though we are going a week or so before they really start to pop!¬†This is definitely¬†one of the biggest vacations I have gone on and with 6 of us being together for nearly two weeks there will surely be some crazy times. We’ll leave crazy up for your own interpretation. ūüėČ

I’m going to start round 1 of packing tonight. Round 1 is usually titled “piles”. Anyone else familiar with packing in rounds?

Or?

I have started writing a post three times so far today.

They began:

“Today I feel like a loser…”

“The first year I was underemployed…”

“Do I even deserve a vacation?…”

I have a lot of negative self-talk happening today, currently battling it with some Brandi Carlile and LaCroix Pamplemousse. This is my last week of subbing for the school year because we go on vacation on Friday (woohoo!). That also means I need to start to think about what to do job-wise. I can keep subbing next year. Or not. Or? Or? Or?

Gah, I hate these times.

Vacation has been planned for quite a while, but I can already sense¬†that when I return I’ll ride the vacation high for a couple days and then walk off the cliff into shallow pond of “Well now what?” and I really don’t like to swim in that pond.

 

First handshake, last high-five

Things I never would have gotten to do if I wouldn’t have left my school counseling job in Iowa and started moving around the country with a weirdo:

Go to a taping of The¬†Late Show with Stephen Colbert¬† on a Thursday afternoon in March. I randomly put our name on a waiting list the week before. Much to my surprise, I got an email that tickets¬†were avaliable¬†and we seized them immediately. They were free and Andrew usually can sneak away for a couple hours (or 5 in this case) without worrying about putting in for PTO. Don’t get the wrong idea…he worked until 9 p.m. after we got done with the taping and continuously works more than most people I know, so he ain’t no slouch.

So, last Thursday, after three days of subbing that was capped of with a brutal day in PE, we met up for a lunch date/free food from work and headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown to embark on an experience we knew very little about. Would we be first in line? (I highly doubted it.) Would we be last? Would I be cold waiting outside? (Duh, of course.) How long would we actually have to wait before going inside? Before getting seated?

Disclaimer, we are by no means Colbert die-hards. I think the man is genius. I love watching clips of his show. He is wicked-smart. He is kind. He is genuine. He is hilarious. He lives in New Jersey. But my problem is that his current show is on at 11:35 p.m.¬†What’s wrong with that, you ask?¬†Just that it would require me to stay awake until 11:35 p.m.

We got in line around 1. It was a sunny day. It was pleasant in the sun. We did not get to stand in the sun.

We waited outside until around 2. We were then ushered in to a snake line in the lobby of the theater. We were warned about using the restroom now or forever hold your pee. We watched clips of old episodes on TVs¬†that occasionally cut out and we could barely hear. We were then briefed on the dos/don’ts of being an audience member. We couldn’t take our phones out. Don’t ask Stephen¬†for an autograph or selfie. You can’t save seats. We will seat you. Get into it, really into it. You make the show. He feeds off your energy. Goooooo team!

It was obvious by our spot in line we would not have to sit in the balcony (although these seats would be cool in a different way). We entered and a kind man with very funky, stylish, mismatched Nikes told us to go left and then take the first right. Left. Right. Walking. Motioned to keep walking by a nice-looking woman in a Colbert Show parka. I almost stop because she keeps motioning but I’m thinking, “We can’t keep walking, that’s the front row.”

She finally gives us this look of, “Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but yes, you are, coming up to the front row, so just hurry your asses up so I can get on with my job.”

We file in. We are laughing. What? Oh my gosh. Repeat.

We are in the front row! The MIDDLE of the front row. Like I think if I counted the chairs in the center section of the front row, we were mathematically the median.

We were “warmed up” by a comedian who pulled some zany and very enthusiastic audience members on stage. Dude, people are weird! And this guy let them know it in a loving way, and I loved that. Anytime there was down time we were pumped up with jams. Good jams. The kind that you want to play at a well-DJed wedding reception. We were told repeatedly to be three times louder and more excited than you think you are or need to be. It has to translate to people at home. If you think you’re laughing, laugh louder. They don’t add in applause or laugh tracks. Our reactions were what people would see and here that night at home. So do a good job, gosh darnnit!

Eventually the same friend with the mismatching Nikes came back out to tell those of us in the center front row that it would be likely Stephen would come up and shake our hands or give out high-fives. Do NOT grab him. Do NOT hold on to his hand. Do NOT pull on his arm.

Then we met and were entertained by the in-house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human. They were awesome.

Then there was a short Q & A with Colbert himself. He really is so cool. No one in our audience asked really good questions. Of course one guy asked a political question. One person asked…they were so lame I can’t even remember. When he came out for the Q&A it was like a practice run of the start of the show. So I got a solid high-five.

Sidenote: They tell you ahead of time, like on your ticket, that the studio is “chilly”. Chilly means freezing cold to someone like me. For¬†almost the entire taping my coat was on my lap being used as a blanket. At the last minute I put on a blazer over my cardigan and Thank the LORD. My hands were ice, ¬†meaning my wedding ring was loose. Loose enough for Stephen’s high-five to bring it past my middle knuckle. Not that I every want my wedding ring to fall off, but if Stephen Colbert’s high-five knocked my wedding ring onto the stage and there had to be a big to-do where Stephen himself found it and apologized and then re-told the story on air, I wouldn’t be mad.¬†

Then it was finally time for the actual¬†show to start! We watched the cold-open. We excelled in our laughing. And then, Stephen literally ran out from backstage directly to me!¬†I got the first handshake. Man his hands are soft and smooth. It was nice. Andrew was on my left, but Stephen moved to my right. Oh no! But…then he came back and Andrew got the last high-five before he started his monologue. First handshake, last high-five. New family motto.

I haven’t even gushed about the guests yet…Hugh Jackman! Cate Blanchett! Another actress I’d never heard of, but who had sculpted arms, nice teeth and famous parents!¬†The Cate Blanchett interview was a surprise because she wasn’t on the episode we saw, but they needed to tape her interview during our time.¬†Fine, I¬†guess¬†we will stick around.¬†The Flaming Lips performed. They were weird, but at least if I was going to see a band I didn’t really like it would be one with a man on a unicorn and two people in astronaut suits?

Here is proof we had our glory moment. I will watch this video anytime I need a pick-me-up. What you don’t here in the video is Andrew’s baritone yelling/cheering. I wish you could hear it because it is an interesting juxtaposition to his child-like jubilant bouncing and clapping. And, while at the time, in the furry of it all he didn’t feel like he got a real high-five and was slightly envious of my handshake. We can all see from this video evidence that he did get a high-five. First handshake, last high-five.

(WordPress just informed me that I don’t have a fancy enough plan to put the video right here in the post. So I linked it above and here are some still shots, so you can get the idea.)

The whole point of going to this taping was not to get on tv. We had no expectation of that. ¬†I’m working on saying yes and this time it turned out to be¬†really really really fun.