28 August 2006

the bitter end.

First day of classes yesterday. 7am, Rigging and Marlinespike Seamanship. In case you don't know (because I certainly didn't yesterday morning), rigging is, per my notes, the art and practice of moving stuff using mechanical advantage, while marlinespike seamanship is tying knots, apparently. I'm pretty sure this was not the exact wording used in the instructor's presentation, but it gives a general idea. Other classes yesterday were Swimming for Conditioning (Yes! P.E. classes again!), and Rigging Lab. It being the first day, Swimming was pretty easy- no getting in the water, just getting generally familiarized with the pool, the instructor, expectations, syllabus. During the Rigging Lab in the afternoon, we tied knots, bends and hitches. The class runs for 3 hours. We tied knots, bends and hitches for 3 hours (truly! we did.). A sampling:

Hitches: Clove/ Constrictor/ Half/ Trucker
Knots: Overhand/ Square/ Figure 8/ Figure 8 on a bight/ Bowline/ Bowline on a bight/ Buoy
Bends: Sheet/ Riggers

It may not sound so difficult to tie knots for 3 hours, but it is. Knots, bends and hitches can be very confusing, indeed. Our homework for next time is to tie a monkey's fist:

which is a bit messy, but so satisfying to look at when complete.

Today, Tuesday, I have no classes, but tomorrow begins Fundamental Practices of Diving (Modular study of diving physics, physiology, dive planning and safety; stresses the importance of environmental and equipment-related situations. Computations utilizing various decompression profiles emphasized.), more Swimming (this time, getting into the pool), and Drafting (Fundamental concepts of technical drawing. Topics include lettering, use of instruments, mathematics for drafting, multiviews, dimensioning, assemblies, sections, pictorials, perspectives, graphs and charts.). Thursday's classes are Hydraulics (Study of industrial fluid power mechanics with a practical laboratory component as related to marine equipment. Emphasis placed upon schematic design, interpretation and the role of hydraulic equipment and control systems as applied to subsea work systems, tools and work class remotely-operated vehicles.) and Hydraulics Lab.

The beauty of all of this is that I haven't a clue about any of it! It's a world of new and fascinating information, skill sets, points of reference.

I continued to acquaint myself with SBA over the weekend: Saturday, visited the harbor and Maritime Museum, attended a lovely barbeque and actually had real conversations with nice people, live and in person (as opposed to over the phone).

Sunday, drove to the nearest Target (in Ventura, 30 miles south) for a few more organizational aids, and walked along the beach at the Channel Islands National Park (not the actual islands, the part of the park that's in Ventura).

On the way home, I took a leisurely route along the coast, and stopped for a minute to chat with big bro. When I returned to my car, I spotted something in my driver's side mirror that was at first puzzling, and then a bit funny, and reminiscent of my time in Cannes, where it is, apparently, every person's right to urinate (ahem), etc. wherever one wants.

*title credit: The bitter end refers to the extreme end of a line, and a line is the term used for rope which has been cut from a box, spool, etc.

25 August 2006

forgotten tomatoes.

I had another *discover Santa Barbara excursion today, this time by bike. It has been good to wander around in my car for the past couple days, because I'm not always great with directions, and can easily get lost, especially in a place where the landmarks don't go in straight lines, like one might expect. Note the freeway, and its meandering course. Note also the orientation of the streets, how they're a bit cockeyed? The streets actually run north-south, for the most part, but every map skews it like this. Not sure why, but it makes life difficult for one so directionally challenged comme moi.

In any case though, today was the day I got the bike out and hit the streets. First went to the library to get a library card, and acquaint myself with the place. Then, on to the Old Mission. If you're not familiar with the history of Santa Barbara and the missions of California, as in all things, wikipedia can enlighten. I got there late afternoon, right around 5, so it was closed, but I was able to walk around, and take a few pics.

After the uphill trek to the Mission, I coasted all the way down State St., all the way to the beach. It being Friday, everyone was out, heading to restaurants, shopping, strolling. I walked out to the end of Stearns Wharf and bought some saltwater taffy and toffee peanuts to quell my sweet tooth. The Tall Ship Pilgrim sailed into port, and was welcomed by the explosion of a canon, manned by a gentleman in period costume and goatee.

Now a leisurely evening at home, reading my books from the library. Tomorrow, to mark the occasion of my first week in SB, I'll visit the Maritime Museum, and maybe step aboard the Pilgrim for a minute. I've also been invited to a BBQ, so maybe I'll also meet some new friends ;)

*title credits: while getting my bike out from behind the garage, I spied something red peeking out from beneath the mad brambles of wild plants. This unruly patch of green appears be tomato plants gone wild and forgtotten, or some very, very convincing assimilation thereof.

24 August 2006


I've added some pics to previous posts, from the road trip out, and also from my Monday morning excursion in SB.

I forgot to mention the best part of my move: while loading things onto the top of my car, I hit part of the bike rack, hard! and gave myself a li'l shiner. It didn't even last the whole time I was on the road, but I still felt pretty hardcore.

(ok, so it doesn't show up so well in photos...)

23 August 2006

mdt class, year of two thousand... something.

Swim evaluation today. Basically, if you've talked to me about the MDT program, chances are good I've mentioned this swim eval, and all that it entails. For those who haven't heard me rattle off the feats of physical endurance required to pass, here it is (in order of appearance this morning):

Swim 75 feet underwater without fins, without surfacing.
Swim 150 feet underwater without fins, surfacing only 3 times.
Skin dive to a depth of 10 feet to recover a 10-lb weight.
Rescue a swimmer at the surface, and tow 75 feet.
Swim 150 feet using a snorkel and fins.
Swim 1000 feet, using any stroke, in under 10 minutes.
Tread water for 10 minutes without swim aids (3 minutes wrists out, 2 minutes elbows out of the water.)
Despite having practiced to the best of my ability in the past 2 months, I was not able to accomplish all the necessary tasks today.

I haven't always been a water person. In fact, I wouldn't even have begun to categorize myself as such until the past year, maybe two. Maybe my big bro pretended too many times to be the shark from Jaws at the cabin, or maybe it was the time I knocked a tooth out in the pool when I was 8; whatever the reason, I always felt more comfortable topside, beachside than in the water. For instance: I couldn't properly dive into the water head first until I was 24. Up until last week, I'd find any way around swimming underwater without nose or eyes in some way covered or protected. I was the kid at the pool who always swiped at my eyes when I surfaced. I was the open water diver who freaked out, wide-eyed, the first several times going under.

Much of the fear was forced out during my divemaster training, by necessity. Before one can act as underwater tour guide to other divers with their fears and phobias, one must properly dispense with one's own. So, I learned to swim underwater, and I learned to take my mask off underwater. Day after day, month after month in the ocean, I began to feel pretty comfortable. Not completely in my realm, but at ease.

I've never been a swimmer though.

In the past few months, I've really been trying to get the swim eval tasks down, trying to become a better swimmer, trying to conquer the crazy voices usually only audible below the water's surface. It's been a challenge, because the voices are at least in their 20's, the desire to eradicate them is newer, no more than a child. On Monday I learned that none of these tasks could be performed wearing a mask, and that was worrying. I could hear the voices then, above water, inciting fear and overwhelming self-doubt. I went to a pool yesterday to practice. Still, I couldn't finish. I left the pool, hoping adreneline would compensate for what I lacked in concrete experience.

There were 2 tasks I couldn't complete: the 150-foot breath hold, and the 1000-foot 10-minute swim. I came close though, within 1 breath of the 150, and 15 seconds of the 1000. So not as bad as I'd feared. I tried the 1000 again, but after a few laps realized it would be futile. Maybe if I'd only had one task to re-do, the outcome might have been different. But, as it stands, all my MDT courses this semester will be non-diving.

A bit frustrated at first, but now, I actually feel a bit relieved. I know I did the best I could do, and one can't ever be upset about that! The non-diving classes are still really interesting, and my course load will be somewhat lightened. Plus, I have the option of taking a PE class called "swimming for conditioning," so that when the next swim eval rolls around in January, I'll nail them all.

And maybe silence a few of those voices in the process.

21 August 2006


Today was my first real day in Santa Barbara. I took yesterday as a day for recuperating and laid around for most of it. I set my alarm early and (are you ready? deep breath in and...):

got coffee and walked along the harbor/ went to the CA DMV and applied for a license/ took and passed the state of CA driver's exam (only 4 wrong, out of 36)/ went to SBCC, filled out much paperwork and registered for classes/ paid for classes (and suddenly became a very financially poor individual)/ got the necessary textbooks from the bookstore (a host of articles, intro to rigging, and a beautifully bound tome entitled, "Principles of Industrial Welding")/ talked with a few people in the Marine Diving Tech office (and learned there's even more to be worried about for swim eval!)/ proceeded to local dive shop to purchase more necessary gear/ and finally, found small local latino food mart (Santa Cruz) and purchased necessary food (yesterday's menu having consisted of little more than canned baked beans).

After so much activity, I came home for a nap on my luxury accomodations, the air mattress, in the yellow room.

While getting coffee this morning, I met young Nate, who'd driven out from NJ last year to attend City College. Nate looked the part of a younger, more innocent a & f model: perfect white teeth, perfectly groomed shaggy hair, a clean white wife beater peeking out from beneath his coffee shop apron. Very SoCal, to my midwestern eyes. He told me City College was awesome, that I'd love it there, and that I didn't need to worry about the swim eval, that he was sure I'd do just fine. Sweet young man.

In preparing to come here, I came face to face with my apprehensions, many of which center around the idea of fitting in. Seems funny to be a woman of 30 and worried about fitting in, but there it is. I've lived in other countries before, and have often pondered the idea of living in a different US city, but never have. So, the places I've lived have all been abroad, and when abroad, one is always a sort of stranger, an outsider, and therefore not held to the same standards as those who live in those places (in my mind, anyway). I could never have been Chinese, or Thai, or French, and so could simply be myself. Living in a different state, though, I'm still American, and that's always felt somehow like being held to a standard, compared to everyone else, like I should fit a certain mold. I suppose I even felt that to some extent in Minneapolis, like we should all look a bit the same, wear the same clothes, have the same hair. In any case, the standard here, for what I'm doing, seems to be mid-20's and male, which obviously I'm not. I can't be reassured about fitting in with the program, because I will be one of very few women, but I was reassured about fitting the norm at the school: there were all ages, body types, ethnicities registering for classes today. I was just another bumbling student, trying to fit the pieces together.

Nate was right though, City College does seem pretty awesome. It's really a beautiful campus, high up on a bluff overlooking the water, lush and green like the rest of the city, buildings nestled into the hills, a bridge connecting 2 parts of the campus separated by a deep valley. It seems a comfortable place to spend the bulk of my days.

Pics from the day:
the pier at Stearn's Wharf

the harbor, from a distance

on the pier, looking toward SB

Palm Park

19 August 2006


I got to Santa Barbara today. I've unpacked my car, and now the boxes and bags sit on the floor in the Yellow Room, waiting to be sorted and organized.

I'm exhausted, and am now heading to my bed to read a book and sleep.

Final trip odometer reading: 2,554 miles in 4 days.

18 August 2006

sin city.

I had a very long day of driving today, and the road has ended in Death Valley. I think this is the hottest place I've ever been.

sand dunes in background prove I'm in the desert.

I started the day with the idea I'd head north to Salt Lake City, and then west to the coast via Reno, Sacramento and end up in San Fran. I had every intention of following this plan, but didn't.

near San Rafael Swell, Utah

Instead, when I woke up from a quick snooze in a gas station parking lot, I got on the freeway heading south west toward Vegas, baby. I scrapped all plans of sightseeing, and decided to get done with the driving. I'm tired of being on the road, and a road trip isn't as much fun when finding the smallest item requires digging through a most carefully and intricately packed car. Plus, as I got underway, the song "California Dreamin'" came on the radio, and I took it as a good sign.

I didn't know which street was the strip in Vegas, so I got off the freeway downtown, just to poke around for a minute. It wasn't the strip, but it was good and seedy, with bright flashing lights. I stopped for gas, and watched as 2 women played the slots on the other side of the store. It was only a peek into the world that is LV, but it was a good one. It actually makes me curious to go back and explore, if only once, just to observe, just to be a complete voyeur.

I crossed the border into California just before the sun went down. I got out and took cheesey pictures of myself by the sign. I've driven long distances before, but this felt monumental, and I needed to capture the moment (very unfortunately, in this very unflattering dress):

While the road meandered into Death Valley, I was listening to podcasts of the paranormal. I think I'm going to be abducted by aliens tonight.


I said the last of my goodbyes yesterday, to Misty, and to Dad & Kathe. It didn't strike me until I'd gotten back on the road, that those were the final goodbyes, that from here on out, I'm solo.

Dad, Kathe & I, Evergreen Hotel

I think these are the little pieces that make this real, where I finally begin to grasp the reality of this. I was a bit emotional on the road, and ran into a few kind souls. One, a convenience store clerk in Vail who asked how I was doing, and a woman selling fruit on the roadside in Dillon, CO. I bought 3 peaches from her, and she inquired about my trip and urged me to be careful on the road. It's good to get those little messages from people, especially when you're feeling in need of a little human interaction.

I ended the day outside of Clifton, CO. I wasn't terribly pleased not to have made it out of CO, especially considering I'd taken the route I hadn't at all wanted to take (I-70 west from Denver). I've taken this route before, and I wasn't pleased with the results. Somehow, the last time I drove this way, I also got a late start, and was also driving a vehicle ill-suited for mountain driving. The last time I drove this route, I found myself late at night on the western edge of CO. The map told me there was camping nearby. The signs on the freeway told me there was camping nearby, but several times I looped through the small town surrounded by gusty buttes, and I never found the camping. I spent the night in the creepiest motel ever. I left as soon as I awoke in the morning. History was in the process of repeating itself yesterday, I may have looped through that same small town, looking for the same mythical camping site, but instead, I headed toward to a campground I knew existed 30 miles back.

17 August 2006


I'm having a lazy day.

Last night, trail's end was Evergreen, CO, at the home of Misty B., a kind soul who offered up a most comfortable bed, some good kisses from her pooch, and a sunlit morning stroll through the town and around the lake. I plan to get on the road later today, but am relishing this morning of nothingness.

Misty & Cadence, Evergreen CO

Yesterday was grueling, but good. I was on the road at 7am, and arrived here at 10:30pm. I also gained an hour going from central to mountain time, which puts overall travel time at 16.5 hours, down some pretty twisty roads, alternately losing and gaining elevation all the while (which the engine of a loaded down car doesn't really appreciate). I'm simply astounded I was able to do it.

Rather than taking the standard route of heading south from Mpls., turning right at Des Moines, and out through NE, I decided to take the northerly route, passing through SD, a bit of the Black Hills, then down through Cheyenne and into Evergreen by way of Denver. A good route overall, and far more scenic than the alternative. Most of the day was spent on I-90, traveling between Sioux Falls and Rapid City. It seems that most anything that's worth seeing (kitschy tourist attractions, I mean) in SD is located in this corridor, and the entire corridor is lined with signs inviting you to view any and all of them. Some of the signs that have stuck in my head include: Reptile Gardens (this ain't no petting zoo), The Lincoln Borglum Museum (he started at age 60!), The Corn Palace (we're all "ears"), Wall Drug (sign in Kenya, Africa), and Cosmos Mystery Area (feel the force!). The billboards are sort of cute and funny at first, and then they just become kind of annoying, because they are CONSTANT! and because they really are very bad, as though 8th graders were coming up with the phrases.

It was a very, very windy day, which becomes a bit stressful after a while. I was worried my bike was going to fly off the top, somehow. And it was hot, which meant I had to keep the window open to keep the air flowing through my un-AC'd automobile, and my hair was whipping around, and I couldn't hear the music, and I got a little bored on my marathon day.

mile 563, somewhere in SD (note thrilling scenery out window...)

Once I hit Wyoming, and changed direction so the sun wasn't hitting one side of my body, I relaxed a bit. I was actually able to close the window a bit, and hear the music better. I destressed significantly.

Anyway, I'm off to lunch and meander about Evergreen with Dad & Kathe now.

creature comfort.

I drove almost 1000 miles today. The actual number was 979, which is short of 1000 by a mere 21 miles. So really, I think we can just round up to 1000 from there.

I finally got on the road last night, after 2 of the longest days ever. Monday was packing and sorting all day long with my mother. We accomplished a lot, and I was able to convince myself that I was within hours of completion, that I'd be able to finish by midday yesterday, and get on the road. Wrong-o. I woke up early yesterday and started in on the remaining tasks. Around 11 I started bringing the first items down to my car to begin the packing up of the vehicle. I stopped for lunch at around noon, and then again for a mini breakdown on the phone with Regan, but worked continuously the remaining hours of the day. I finally walked out of my apartment at 8pm. It didn't feel so much like relief, but more like a reprieve from an awfully long sentence. I drove all of 72 miles, to just before Albert Lea, before stopping to camp for the night.

sunrise over I-35, my first morning on the road.

My car is about as weighted down as it can be. The rear end of the vehicle appears to be just skimming the tires, though I can assure you it's not. Every inch of the back seat area is packed up, though I made sure to leave a clear view out the back window. The front passenger seat holds a cooler, and the backpack that holds everything I need on a daily basis. Every possible inch in the car is accounted for, including the roof, which is occupied by my bike and a large duffel bag designed for rooftop use. After my 1000-mile day, I'm almost convinced the things on the roof may actually stay there for the duration of the journey.

11 August 2006

the yellow room.

Today I secured housing. I can say it calmly now, the emotional bit has already passed.

I first called about the place Tuesday morning, and exchanged several messages with the landlady, Lauri, before actually talking to her. The first time we spoke, I was standing in Mississippi Market with Toni. We left immediately and I completed the conversation whilst driving Toni to the bank. Lauri said I sounded like just the kind of person she wanted to rent the place. Last night I completed the application. She called this afternoon, while I was standing in Micro Center. I left immediately and continued the conversation while I sat in my car. I took down the info about where to mail the check, where to fax the bank summary and lease agreement. I walked back into the store and mindlessly browsed for a while. I felt a bit like vomiting. Eventually I went to the bank, withdrew the money, converted it into a cashier's check. I was feeling better by this point, but I was still freaking out a bit.

I'd thought that when I'd secured housing, I'd be jubilant! Immediately! Something concrete, to prove this is really happening! Instead I felt all the more uncertain, apprehensive, scared even. All along there's been a part of my mind doubting this would work out. This part has been sort of undercover, but always there, always with the same assumption: something would go terribly wrong, an insurmountable roadblock would materialize directly in front of me. I've been expecting it everywhere: at the bank, at the auto repair place, with the dive physical, and especially with trying to find housing. But things keep working out, and that part of me keeps getting trumped.

After the bank, I went to World Market for some good black licorice to calm my nerves. I found a FedEx, overnighted the check, and sat down to read the lease agreement. I don't know much about the place I'm moving into, but something I read in the lease brought a smile to my face:

Witnesseth: That for and in consideration of the payment of the rents and the performance of the covenants contained on the part of the lessee, said lessor does hereby demise and let unto the lessee, and lessee hires from lessor for use as a residence those premises described as The Yellow Room.

10 August 2006


A few of my favorite recipes, by request.

Tomato soup with cashews
1 cup cashews (better raw cashews, but definitely unsalted- buy in bulk at grocery/co-op)
1 teaspoon chopped onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 quart (I use two 14.5-oz cans) canned tomatoes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
dash oregano
dash basil

Combine all ingredients in a pot, heat just until boiling. Blend in blender to desired consistency (I like to leave the cashews in bigger chunks, but soup is good if pureed also).

Sesame Ginger Salmon Burgers
1 lb salmon filet with skin removed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 egg yolk (I've also used the whole egg)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
vegetable or peanut oil for cooking

Finely chop salmon by hand or in food processor, transfer to mixing bowl with ginger root. Whisk egg yolk in small bowl. Whisk in mustard, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add to salmon and combine well. Gently form into four patties. Heat vegetable or peanut oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Carefully slide patties into pan with spatula. Reduce heat to medium-high, and fry until golden all over (about 4 mins. per side). Serve hot.

Can be served on country bread with mix of mustard and mayo and topped with watercress.

Apricot and Berry Compote
8 large apricots, ripe but firm, about 1.5 lbs.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries or boysenberries
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or dash of vanilla)

Cut the apricots into halves or quarters. Bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the apricots, lower the heat, and simmer just until they're tender and the skin is getting loose, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer apricots to a serving bowl and add the berries. Boil the syrup for 3 to 4 min. to reduce, then remove from heat. Scrape seeds of vanilla bean into it, pour over the fruit, and chill. Serve the compote with cream, vanilla or apricot ice cream, or over a slice of sponge cake. Serves 6.

stuff, and the space it occupies.

I always underestimate how much time and effort is required when moving. Looking around my apartment last week, I thought I'd have no problem packing everything up, finding a place for it. Now, several days into my packing week, I'm feeling a bit panicked by the amount of stuff strewn about the place.

Sometimes I think about what it's like to live in countries where personal space is more limited. For example, when I taught in China, the apartment allocated to me for the year was a similar amount of space as my current apartment. I lived there alone. But an apartment one floor below, with the same layout, housed a family of four (mother, father, daughter, grandmother), and it wasn't unusual. What was unusual was one lone wai guo ren occupying that apartment. When I left there, I had loads of stuff, even though I'd started with near nothing. Similar experience leaving Thailand, where, during the last week before going back to MN, I repeatedly sorted thru clothing, trinkets, memorabilia, discarding items along the way, so I wouldn't be turned away at the airport for having overweighted luggage.

Why do I surround myself with so much stuff? How have I accumulated so much? The thing about stuff is that it's accumulated so mindlessly, because room can always be found for something we really want. And it's hard to leave things empty. But when I moved into this apartment, it was empty, and I liked it. In the first month I was here, I loved sitting in my one chair, looking out the window, drinking coffee. I loved sitting in the chair because it was the only place to sit, besides the air mattress I slept on. I loved it because it was unique. Over time, another chair came, and a sofa, so that I never sat on the chair anymore, but instead used it merely to hold clothes or papers to be sorted. Other things came too, like boxes from my parents' basements and attics, clothing, trinkets, memorabilia. The unclutteredness of that first month was at the expense of space in other people's homes. My stuff was cluttering their space, instead of my own.

And of course, the cluttering of a home is such a gradual process that it never becomes apparent until the stuff needs to be physically moved from one space to another. I've done a great deal of de-cluttering this week. Pared down my book collection to, at most, a quarter of its original proportions (if you've ever seen my bookshelves, you know this is a feat!), sorted through clothes, household items, old files and papers, made several trips to the local goodwill.

I do have a point in all this, something about how clutter is a byproduct of indecision. And I might be able to get around to that point if I keep writing for a while longer. But now I have to go do something, pack something, sort something. Any little step that makes me feel I'm getting even slightly closer to my goal of removing all trace of myself from this apartment.

5 more days.

06 August 2006

go time.

A blissful couple of days, these last. 2 days with my brother and family, 1 evening with friends, and an overnight with aunties and mom.

I'm officially unemployed now, as of last Wednesday, and remind myself of the fact every day. Despite the miserable going-away party, my last day at work was really nice, and uneventful. It felt good to wrap things up, and organize and sort, but also to let go of all the things that never got done. The perfectionist in me was largely silent for that last day, and instead of stressing to get every single thing done, I did as much as I could, and let it go. I gave myself enough time to say goodbye to the people I'll miss, and enough stealth to avoid awkward encounters with those I won't.

I'm moving the big items tomorrow, with the help of my dad and stepmom. I'm keeping my bed and dresser (here, in storage) and most everything else in my apartment is going away. I plan to keep some things, like small kitchen appliances, and some of my beloved books, but I've already purged quite a lot, and more is to come.

I would like to be the kind of person who prepares far in advance for this sort of upheaval. I'd like to be the sort who is organized and discerning and makes great decisions. By this point in my life, I'm getting more comfortable with not being that person, no matter how much I'd love it. I'm the kind of person who leaves things off til the last minute. I finish things just in the nick of time to be 12 hours late, especially when it comes to moving. I have 8 days to get things ready to move to Cali. I can almost guarantee I'll be scrambling the night before I leave to clean, to find more boxes, to determine where the last items will be stored, to squeeze that one bag I almost forgot into my teensy tiny car trunk. This is who I am, and even though I'm getting better at alleviating this very behavior, there's enough of it in me to recognize it will always be in me, because it's how I do things best.

01 August 2006

15 minutes of farewell.

I'm pretty damn happy to be leaving my full-time job. I can't say what it is, but something has always felt very wrong about the place. I felt it from the very start: for example, I started crying upon being offered a full-time position there, as if anticipating the uncomfortable year to come. I've held 2 different positions there, and have been supervised by 6 different individuals in my 16 months of employment. My current supervisor hasn't been a great fit, but was better in some ways than my previous supervisor. Regardless, we have our differences.

Tomorrow is my last day, and today the perfunctory farewell gathering was held in my honor. To celebrate, my supervisor sent out an invite to staff a full 23 hours in advance. Who can bother with planning in advance for these things? The invite requested staff to adjourn from 4:15 - 4:30 to wish me well. Good christ, a whole 15 minutes in honor of my departure? The snack item for the gathering was ice cream sandwiches, which I don't eat due uncomfortable reactions to certain foods. There was a card, but no gift. I believe that I am personally the first person I've ever seen leave the museum without some manner of gift. Everyone gets a gift, for fuck's sake, but I suppose it slips one's mind when one is planning a gathering the day before it's to take place.

My intention is not to sound petty, nor to feel petty about it all. It's not that I needed to walk away with the gift, it's not the material item that's important, but the sentiment. I had hoped I could leave the job on a good note, that I would be able to walk away with a few good memories of the organization in my pocket, the sense I'd been valued, my work remotely important, my effort validated. I had been willing to overlook so much, if only there could be that one thing to prove it had all been worth something. The going away gift was that thing that would have made up for all the unreasonable requests, for all the stress and thanklessness. I can recognize now it's not going to happen, there won't be good memories of the organization. I only want to forget it ever happened.

What I won't forget are the amazing people there, because the place has more than its share of phenomenal individuals. I also won't forget the lesson, the one that lives inside all very, very bad experiences.

No more bullshit jobs for this girl.