Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The End.

I know, I know, I haven't written in eons. Truth be told, I thought about starting a new Baltimore blog with at least one update a week about my food escapades, but couldn't think of any fun names and I got busy/distracted/lazy. If you can think of a fun blog name (that isn't anything like "Bubba Banks in Baltimore" or "Charming Kitchen" which I sadly realistically considered), perhaps I'll take up a food blog with the rest of those foodies.

Oh this kitchen. It's amazing. I've made so much middle eastern food. I've made a plethora of soups. I've rekindled my love for kale thanks to the man at the farmer's market downtown who sells you 1lb for a DOLLAR. So I've eaten a lot of baked kale chips, kale in soups, and tonight, sauteed kale with garlic roasted garbanzo beans. Last night was roasted curried eggplant with tomatoes and jalapenos. I've kept my menu pretty varied and Bubba is learning to eat fun new things (spring onions, jalapenos, celery, kale). I don't think I've repeated a single recipe in the month I've been here. Honestly, Baltimore's disappointed me with it's food offerings and I find that I like what I make more than what I've found in it's eating establishments. As dorky as it sounds, when you start eating well, that's what you begin to crave. I won't go so far as to say I've gone gluten-free or vegetarian (because Lord knows I love me my bacon), but there's much LESS gluten and meat in my diet. I've had the same loaf of bread in my fridge for the past month. ...I should probably throw that out.

I'm beginning to get the hang of the job and the city. The friend issue is still not fantastic, but that's what I get for continuously moving around. I've struck up conversations with regulars on my bus route and gone to lunch with coworkers. Meeting people sucks. I can only drop so many hints on coworkers. "Yep. Don't have any plans all week. Because I just moved here. And I don't know many people. Making friends is so hard. Just heading home to the dog. To watch tv and cook. By myself. Alone."

In due time. I'll meet people in due time.

I thought I'd say a proper goodbye. This is it for Snooty on a Stipend. I am no longer on a stipend (this fact only verified by my legitimate benefits plan). I will, however, continue to be snooty, as evidenced by my sentence about liking my food more than the food I eat when I go out.

AmeriCorps, and my consequential year in Roanoke, was an amazing experience for me. I met such great people, got to live in a beautiful city, and was able to get started on what I hope will be a long and wonderful career. I am so thankful for everything I learned and everyone I met. You taught me so much and I'll never forget any of it, or any of you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

And with that,
the end.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baltimore. Week One.

Bubba and I have settled in quite nicely to our little abode here in Baltimore, save for not being able to fit our free sofa into the apartment. Please don't ask what happened to it. It's not a nice story. However, Bubba did get a cheap faux-dog bed out of it! He now sleeps on what was formerly a sofa cushion and seems to love it. To the left, I bring you "A Dog Smelling the Breeze While Sitting on a Sofa Cushion Next to an Old Chair and a Geranium." That right there? That's contentment.

I've been settling into a routine that includes walking Bubba and cooking meals that I promptly pat myself on the back for being so healthy and adult-like. I take the fancy free bus to work every morning, and depending on which route I take, I walk right by the inner harbor and get to enjoy a pretty great view.

This job is great. The organization is fantastic and all the employees seem approachable and cordial. Everyone has been nothing but accommodating to me, and I'm already itching to get past orientation and onto some projects. We have about fifteen country proposals due to one foundation by the end of October, and I've been promised a role in that, if for no other reason than translation. It's everything I've learned in my past two jobs, but in such a different context. Proposals, but for USAID instead of the DoD. Nonprofits, but on SUCH a larger scale than Roanoke. I'm grateful every moment for every bit of background I have, because it's all helping me so much. It's helping me understand large-scale proposals, it's helping me understand the basics of our strategic plan, it's helping me begin brainstorming about individual giving for an organization of this magnitude. This is an incredible opportunity for me, and I am going to learn SO much SO quickly.

Alas. Friends. Oh goodness, I always forget how much making friends SUCKS when one moves. I think I purposely don't allow myself to think about it. Bubba's been good company, but sometimes I yearn to hang out with someone who doesn't lick their privates. I think he and I will be going to an open air concert tomorrow night by our lonesomes, so perhaps I'll meet some people there. While eating mini rice cakes, leftover chicken casserole and a diet coke. That sounds like the epitome of approachable. Or crazy.

One day at a time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye.

Life has been slightly chaotic these past two weeks. I've been getting to know Bubba and his quirks. I've been slowly packing up my things. I donated blood, and they missed my veins... again. It looks like Bubba attacks me at night, obviously because he's so vicious. Almost a week after I donated, and I still have an embarrassingly large bruise on my arm.

I've had to have depressing conversations with the roommate about how to divvy up our stuff. "So, you can take the pots and pans because I have some I can bring to Baltimore. Do you mind if I take the silverware organizer?" As excited as I am to be starting such an amazing job with an incredible organization, as much as my new apartment is adorable and I'm excited to be living somewhere adult-ish (not in a X-rated kind of way), I'm going to miss this town. I'm going to miss my ghetto, leaky apartment with shattering windows and mold on our bathroom ceiling. I'm going to miss having three different, overwhelming patterns on furniture in the living room. I'm going to miss needing a flathead and hammer to open windows. I'm going to miss the quiet of living across the street from a cemetery. I'm going to miss seeing mountains while running errands. Most of all, though, I'm going to miss the people. It makes me leaky just thinking about it.

I went on my final hike this past Sunday with OfficeMate. We opted for Dragon's Tooth, a hike we unknowingly somewhat started that one time we hiked in the wrong direction. It was pretty overcast when we started our hike and at times I'm pretty sure we were IN a cloud, but it cleared up when we got to the top and made for a lovely view. A great final hike for my year in the valley if I say so myself. Bubba stayed at home due to his stubby legs and lack of being able to rock climb.
The rest of my time has been spent trying to see friends before I leave, packing, and cleaning. Bubba has not been helpful, between shedding and being afraid of my crappy vacuum. It appears he is afraid of many a thing. This includes thunderstorms, which was an issue when I tried to walk him last night. It ended with him laying down in the grass and hiding his head in a bush. I had to carry him back inside. I was hoping he'd pee from fright, because he hadn't peed in hours, but no such luck. I had to wait it out for a break in the storm before we dared venture out again. Ah, dog ownership. Looks like I got myself the fiercest dog in the valley.

So for now, for now I am packing and saying goodbye to all the places and people that have made this year so spectacular. Thank you for an amazing year, Roanoke. I'll miss you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Most Productive Week Of My Life

Eight days ago, I woke up unemployed with no idea of where I'd be in the next few months. I was stressed and just wanted some confusion.

On Monday, I got a job offer.
By Tuesday, I accepted the job.
On Friday, I was told my application to adopt a basset had been approved.
On Saturday, I fell in love with the cutest one bedroom in Baltimore.
On Monday, I adopted that very dog and was sent a lease to sign for that very one bedroom.

I am the luckiest girl in the world who has had the most productive week of her life.
I'm exhausted. I've driven to Baltimore and back. I've had to scramble on account of my lack of printer on more than one occasion. I've tried to schedule meetings with awesome people I won't be seeing for a while. My amazing friend from college came down and helped me a ton yesterday with Mr. Man, Bubba "Bubbster" Banks.
This dog, oh man. I was expecting to have to wait weeks for some dog snuggling, but last night he just crawled up into my lap and put his big 'ol head on my leg. Sure, he's getting a refresher course in house training. And yeah, he thinks anything smushy is a toy, but he's learning. After months upon months in a shelter, it's to be expected. I'm glad I have these next two weeks to remind him of how things are done. He's going to be an excellent little companion.Much to Bubba's chagrin (his words exactly), I have been paparazzi-ing it up. Bubba seems to dislike the camera/iphone. I swear, he can be more smiley than this. He likes the little mat by my bookshelf, as you can see. Next life steps: moving! ...again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baltimore & Bubba

I got a job! I got the job, in fact. In a few short weeks, I'll be moving to Baltimore to do business development work for a NGO. I'm some combination of overwhelmed, excited and completely clueless. Clueless in that I know very little regarding Baltimore as a city and am somewhat blindly navigating the waters of apartments. I feel like perhaps I need to start watching The Wire, because so many people have referenced my living it soon. Awesome. Drug dealers. To the very few of you I know in Baltimore (what, like all three of you?) who have received frantic facebook messages, thank you for your understanding, compliance in answering my ridiculous questions, and patience.
It's amazing how quickly things can change. Just last week, I was getting antsy that the Barnes and Nobles at the mall hadn't called me back. I was wondering where I'd have to move and when, and then all of a sudden I'm given a job and POOF! Decisions are made for me. (Well, at least I have a vicinity to live in and don't have to worry about what part of the country to look at anymore.)

The Baltimore skyline is lovely. It truly is. Moving to a more sizable city with a younger population is something I'm actually really looking forward to. Comedy clubs, yoga studios (for more than just the gentle yoga for arthritis classes) and all those other things that come with a city larger than 100k are all something I am so excited about. I'm so excited about my job; I am so lucky to be given the opportunity to work in a field I am passionate about. I know so many people don't have that privilege and I consider myself one of the lucky few.

I'm still going to miss this town, though. I drove to my old office today to say hello to my old supervisor and past coworkers, and it started to hit me how soon I have to leave. A beautiful skyline can never replace the mountains. I'll just need to visit regularly to get my healthy dose of topography and southern hospitality.

Remember my complaints about day dreaming about my imaginary dog and what dog parks we'd visit? I wrote about it when I complained about job hunting. A few months ago, the indie station here (101.5 the music place!) was discussing their Pet of the Week on my drive into work, and they mentioned a basset-beagle mix named Bubba. The first thing I did when I got to work was check this dog out. Here is his profile on the site. They have a much better photo than anything I do.

I knew I couldn't adopt him. Not on a poverty stipend. And it KILLED me. So I would check back every few weeks to see if he was still posted on the website, because it's a no-kill shelter, and Bubba is there until he gets adopted.

I got lunch with a friend today, and on the way back I passed the shelter. I thought to myself a very dangerous thought. I thought, "I have a job. I can afford a dog! I should just go meet him. Maybe he's too high energy and I won't want him anyways."

So in I went. As soon as I saw him in his little cage, I knew I was a goner. While all the other dogs were barking and freaking out, little Bubba just sat in his corner, thumping his tail. No bark, no bouncing around. Just a happy, adorable little tail wag.

They let him and I play together for half an hour or so, warning me not to approach his face quickly and to be gentle. The volunteers speculate that Bubba was abused before coming to the shelter. Many families have come in and looked at him, and he's growled at small children (or even teens, they said) that have tried to snuggle up to his face too quickly, turning them away from this little guy. So I sat in a chair and held my hand out for him to sniff. By the time I left, he was flipping over for his belly to be rubbed and shoving his head under my hand for him to pet.

He doesn't bark. He's a lethargic little dog. He has little stubby basset legs and beagle eyes. He slips around on linoleum floor because he has bad traction and it's adorable. And I'M IN LOVE WITH HIM. He reminds me so much of my brother's dog when he first got her. Gah! Fate! But, nothing's for sure until I have a place to live. It's so tempting though. Seriously, click the link to his profile, because that picture does so much more justice than my iPhone ones. It was hard to get a picture of him while he was wiggling so much.

They lowered the adoption fee for me. This is killing me. I might have to adopt him. He's so darn cute, and just the sweetest, most wiggly little guy.

Oh my. Job, apartment, puppy. A lot is changing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Looking like a wet rat at an interview; how I related to the rodent who won't leave my apartment (and other fun adventures!)

I've disappeared for two weeks, and I am well aware of it. I apologize. I went to Rhode Island for Labor Day weekend, and then unexpectedly got a call for a follow-up interview in Baltimore and needed to high-tail it back to the DC region the moment I landed in Roanoke. It's nice to finally be back in Roanoke with my taco bed, my tea kettle and, apparently, my mouse still. Let me try to break the past two weeks down into something manageable...

Rhode Island
My dear childhood friend's parents live in Rhode Island. We both decided back in July that a vacation was necessary for both of us and opted to spend a few days there over Labor Day weekend. It was a lovely escape from the tedium and stress of job hunting (not that I needed a break from all my laboring of sitting on the sofa looking at job listservs). Time was spent at the beach, perusing a small town with a lighthouse, cooking, drinking wine and just relaxing. It was wonderful. Enjoy some photos courtesy of Senor iPhone.

Flying out of Roanoke was interesting, since I'm accustomed to the wonders of Dulles and National airports. My flight was delayed, I was rerouted, and a five hour trip morphed into a 10ish hour ordeal. Bonus, though! I got to sit on a plane with nine rows. Nine. That's eighteen seats. The seats didn't recline. There were propellers. I felt like I was on the Fisher Price plane from my childhood. Check out the sweet steps up to the plane, because you also are allowed the opportunity to (forced to?) get up close and personal with the tarmac.

The Mouse
I thought he was gone. I deep-cleaned the apartment in week one of Funemployment and OfficeMate went to town on the kitchen while I was in Rhode Island. When I returned to Apartment Sweet Apartment yesterday afternoon, I noticed some more mouse droppings around the trashcan and told myself not to think about it. I took a nap, watched the women's finals for the US Open and made dinner (read as: mac and cheese). I went to throw out my Annie's White Cheddar box and heard shuffling in the trashcan. I assumed, wrongly, that it was, I don't know, like trash resettling or something. So imagine my surprise when my hand is essentially IN the trashcan and a mouse comes out, looks INTO MY EYES, and then uses my hand as a springboard to jump down.

You know how eye contact is a sign of aggressive driving? My mouse is an aggressive mouse. He's made eye contact. No more running around at night in the corners, hiding in the shadows and pooping in other apartments. No, now he's getting ballsy. He's pooping in plain sight, coming out when he pleases and walking. on. my. hand. AND PLAYING IN MY TRASHCAN.

Right now any interaction with the kitchen is very limited. I'm glad my lease ends soon so he can be someone else's problem. What kind of super mouse is he that he can eat that much poison and not die? And don't tell me it's another mouse, because then I would have to come to terms with the idea that there are multiple mice living in this apartment, and that skeeves me out more than holding paws with the one yesterday. Gross.

I've been trying to stay vague on job hunt details, because it sucks when you think you really have a good chance at a job, tell a bunch of people you're confident and then get shot down. However, this last interview was too ridiculous not to share.

I've had three interviews with these folks up in Baltimore: a phone interview, a two panel interview, and then last week, a meeting with their CEO. Last week, it also bears mentioning, is when the entirety of the East Coast was beat down with rain (it made for a BLAST driving up I81 at 30 mph with my flashers on).

In the 200 feet from the parking garage to the front door of the office, I got SOAKED. My little umbrella did not save me from the torrential rains and I had left my dorky LLBean raincoat in the car for fear of looking unprofessional. You know what's more professional than a dorky raincoat? Coming in soaking wet with half of your hair unstyled and poofing, a small pond in your shoes and looking like such a mess that when the receptionist sees you all she can say is, "Oh... honey. I wish I had a hairdryer to offer you." That's when you know you've nailed professionalism.

I went to the restroom, used a million paper towels to dry my legs, emptied my shoes into the sink and did some impressive yoga-like move to get paper towels between my back and the wall to absorb some moisture. When the CEO came out to meet me, he apologized for being five minutes late and I apologized for being damp. Other than my ridiculous appearance, I think I nailed it though. We'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In high school, I was a frequent migraine sufferer. Retrospectively, I blame them on all the stress of teenage angst. If I was anything in high school, I was overflowing with angst. (Sorry about that, parents!) But I'd sleep 'em off in the morning and be fine by the afternoon.

These past few days, I've been getting headaches. (Also, a hurricane passed through the entire east coast, save for Roanoke.) They... the headaches, became more frequent, and then last night, more severe. I texted my on-call physician, a much-loved cousin who is in fact a legitimate doctor and far superior to Web MD, who told me to just sleep it off.

So I slept. I slept for 12 hours. With a pillow over my head. I awoke this morning to an eerily blue room since I had pulled my curtains down and they really just diffuse the light more than block it. I have never missed the awesome shades of Europe with the metal slats on the exterior of the window that block out EVERYTHING more than I did this morning. I still had a headache.

Here I am, a few hours later, and it's still there. However, after 12 hours of sleep, there's not much I can do. So the computer is set to dim, the shades are drawn, and I'll crank out some more job applications Edgar Allen Poe style. I have no doubt in my mind that this is how he wrote some of his best work - in leggings, old glasses and oversized sweaters in a dark and eerily silent room, save for the dripping of the leaky sink and the buzz of the cheap AC unit. It's how The Raven was written. Fact.

I was excited to see that Peggy Olson takes Excedrin Migraine. Should I do the same, Peggy??

I flee the state on Thursday for a much-needed escape. Virginia, you may be for lovers, but I'm not loving on you right now.