Mostly a Generic Update (but read it anyway!)

Today a random guy on Haight asked me for one of the buttons on my backpack. He said he was collecting them and showed me the five pinned to his shirt. I told him I was kind of attached to them and asked if we could trade, but he wasn’t up for it, so I went on my way. About five minutes later I came across a couple of guys on the street corner holding a sign that said “Smile if you masturbate.” I love San Francisco.

My second week of work is almost over. Last week I attended my first press conference and got taken out to lunch by a big legal firm where I ordered a $20 piece of chicken because it was one of the cheapest things on the menu. Other than that I pretty much read through the binder describing my job and tried to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. My computer was broken so that I could use the internet, but every time I tried to open Word or Outlook or print it would shut itself down. So this week they set me up on a laptop, and now I have computer access. I’ve been doing intake interviews with clients with heavy supervision from Nira—I do a couple on my own tomorrow, and I’m nervous. Work is kind of stressful so far because I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing and Nira isn’t sure about everything either because she was hired less than a year ago, so when I have a question I come bug her and then she calls the JV who had my placement last year. Basically I’ve been answering the phone and calling people back and talking to them in Spanish and English and trying to figure out whether we can help them without sounding like an idiot when I really don’t know what I’m doing. And sometimes I get to call people back and tell them there’s nothing we can do for them…which sucks a lot. But I’m helping people, and we’re doing the best we can, and if I keep plowing through this and messing up and figuring out what I did wrong, I’ll get it down eventually.

This past weekend a couple of the JVs from the San Jose house came to visit. They were in SF for the day on Saturday and stopped by in the evening, and we convinced them to stay the night. We all went out to a few bars Saturday night and then came back and had a DP (“dance party”—an NPDP is a “no-pants dance party”) in our living room. Earlier on Saturday Lorraine and I walked through Golden Gate Park, which is ENORMOUS, and we heard Ben Harper as part of the 3-day Outside Lands concert that also included Radiohead and Tom Petty. I say “heard” because we were standing outside the gate and couldn’t actually see anything, but I still think it qualifies as having made it to the concert. Sunday was my birthday and the Chrisses came over for a while. We made our own pizza and Nira sent over an ice cream cake, and I did laundry and watched a music video in the making. All in all it was a pretty good weekend.

Forgive and Forget: A brush with fame.

As I was walking back from the BART station on Sunday with Teresa and her friends Chris and Chris, a couple of guys walked up behind us trying to get our attention. “Hey guys!” Chris turned around. “You guys wanna be extras in a music video?”

“Nah, sorry, we have a party to get to.”

But the strangers were persistent and the Chrisses changed their minds. They led us down a side street a couple of blocks from our apartment, where a couple of hobos and a couple of Asian guys were waiting. The rapper distributed ski masks, bandannas, and sunglasses, and a guy with a video camera taped them all walking stiffly down the street toward him while he backed away, the rapper in the front of the group mouthing the words to the song. Meanwhile, Teresa and I watched from the sidewalk as a biker decked out like Lance Armstrong rode through the background and cars stopped in the street to ask why the road was blocked, and a very strung-out blonde woman tried to chat with us like she was with the band before she got bored and staggered off. They did a couple of takes, and then they did a whole lot of takes of the part where they all had to punch a fist into the air in unison when he said “21-gun SALUTE!” because they couldn’t get it together. It had to have been just about the least professional and most unintentionally hilarious music video ever. We’re waiting for it to go up on Youtube, but in the meantime you can listen to the song here.

(edit 9/25/08)
The finished video:

Update from San Francisco!

So I’ve disappeared for a while. Things have been crazy busy since I left orientation on Thursday and moved into the apartment, and I haven’t managed to find a spare moment to come up with a decent post, so in the meantime this will have to do.

Summary of the past week or so:

Friday I spent 23 hours in airports trying to get to San Jose, and I finally got there around 2 a.m. Saturday California time, at which point I got myself a hotel room so I didn’t have to sleep in the airport. I met up with the JVC at the airport later on Saturday and we drove to Aptos, CA, for orientation, which was at a retreat center on the Pacific Ocean. The beach was beautiful and the fog was freezing—tea and I were good friends. 78 of us were thrown together for five days. We met our housemates among other people in the Southwest region of the program, and we listened to a lot of talks and had prayer and reflection time. We slept in cabins that were set up like the orphanage in Annie—two lines of beds against opposing walls. I got through an entire book while I was waiting in airports Friday, and I made it through another one by the end of orientation (Mike Bryan’s The Afterword and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening). There was plenty of time to mess around on the beach, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and Wednesday night we had a “bonfire” which was really more of a campfire, but somebody brought a guitar and it was a good time.

Thursday we moved into our apartment in San Francisco. My housemates are from New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Miami, and Buffalo, and I think we have a good diversity of personalities among us. We are seven all together, six girls and one guy. I’m finding it’s hard to keep track of that many people. Our apartment is beautiful. It’s on the third (and top) floor of a building in the Mission district, above a salon; it has hardwood floors and skylights and a dishwasher and a bay window. There are four rooms, which we split up into two singles, a double and a triple, based on the sizes of the rooms. I’m sharing the double with my fellow Canisius graduate—an arrangement with which I’m pretty happy. We have a walk-in closet, a little couch and a huge dresser in our room, and it came with Christmas lights and a pretty sweet blue sun-and-stars tapestry. The bedding’s kind of shabby, but I can’t really complain. We have plenty of futons around for visitors when they come.

Since we moved in, we’ve been touring the city and setting things up here. I won’t bore you with the details of trying to arrange community living with seven people at the moment, but I will tell you that the city is pretty awesome. Friday and Saturday I spent exploring the surrounding Mission district, and we went out to a bar called Delirium on Friday. Today some of us ventured out to a church near Haight-Ashbury, and then we checked out the USF campus and perused the awesome shops on Haight, where I found myself a jacket. Tomorrow I start work—somehow it doesn’t quite seem real yet. I’ve been getting up around or before 9 a.m. (craaaazy) because of the time difference, and it’s kind of nice to have a longer day rather than staying up til 3 every night. I’m still working on figuring out a decent time to call my friends back on the east coast; three hours poses more of a problem than one might think. So if I haven’t gotten a hold of you yet, don’t worry, it will happen :~)

Here are pictures of the apartment and such! Taken with my cell phone because I don’t have batteries for my camera yet.

My Bed

My Bed

Messy Dresser in my Room

Messy Dresser in my Room

Our Kitchen

Our Kitchen

Corner of Living Room

Corner of Living Room

View of San Francisco near USF

View of San Francisco near USF

Two More Days

Two days left until I move, and I’m not freaking out yet. I think it’s still kind of surreal to me. Nira’s called me a couple of times since the interview, the week before last to ask which name I wanted on my business cards (business cards…!) and today to ask me to call her when we get to our apartment (or “casa” as the JVC likes to call it) on the 14th so she can come welcome us. It makes it somewhat less scary to be in touch with people. I’ve heard back from all of my future roommates (or “casamates”… I’m not sure how I feel about this terminology yet) and they all seem very nice. I’m flying out very early Friday, going from Rochester to Chicago to Denver to San Jose with a 4-hour-ish layover in Chicago. We meet up with the JVC representatives who will drive us to the orientation site at 1 p.m. on Saturday, so it looks like I’ll be spending the night in the airport. Even that doesn’t look too bad, since apparently other JVs are doing the same thing, and we’ll have our sleeping bags with us anyway.

It will be fine and I’ll have a great time. People keep telling me this and I know this, but I’m still allowed to be sad about leaving. I like to take things one step at a time. I haven’t been trying to drag goodbyes out forever this time around… It’s like I’ve acknowledged that no matter how long I spend saying goodbye it’ll never be sufficient, so it’s alright if they’re more succinct. But that doesn’t mean that I’m any less sad about saying them. I’m trying to convince myself that goodbyes are not a big deal because (a) it’s easy enough to keep in touch with people these days when you both want to keep in touch, and (b) goodbyes should be superfluous anyway. In theory I’d like to spend my whole life saying goodbye, in the sense that I’d like to make the most of every moment of my life and fully appreciate the people I am with, so that if that actually were the last time that I saw them, nothing would be left unsaid and I would have no regrets. Every once in a while I actually achieve this, but mostly not so much.

And I have two days left to pack and get everything ready to leave, which means that I am stressed. I have two more days to get my life in order. In the past couple of days I did laundry, hemmed four pairs of pants, chopped my hair off, deposited paychecks, wrote thank-you notes, did what is hopefully my last round of shopping, straightened up my room, cleaned the tree fort decorations and put them in the basement, and had a mini-early birthday party with my family. I still have to finish refinishing a bookshelf, pack what I’m taking on the plane, pack what I’m shipping afterward, probably do more laundry, say goodbye to everything, print out all the info I need, make sure everything I own will be safe where it is for a year, and continue not freaking out.