:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

zaterdag 29 juli 2006

The beach was all right yesterday, though we only got to stay for an hour or so. The water was 62 F according to my watch, and I got cold, then numb, then warm, exactly the way I'm supposed to (considering this is about the temperature I'll be swimming in in Boston). I had fun diving over and under waves with a couple of girls - one of them, the nurse's daughter Amanda, who's 13, seems like she has a little bit of a hero-worship thing going on with me. She's really nice, though, and not annoying about it at all - but she agrees with EVERYTHING I say, which gets kind of amusing after a while.

The rest of the day wasn't quite so great - at the movie theater, I got stuck seeing Superman instead of Pirates II or Devil Wears Prada, because there was ONE girl (among the 30-some-odd boys) who wanted to see it, and since she was my camper and a female staff member had to accompany her, lucky me got picked to go with her. I was pretty bored through most of it, but she liked it, which I guess is what's important. I don't know why they wouldn't let the counselors give a preference, though - I realize that they have to put us where they need us as far as coverage, etc., but they could have at least made an EFFORT at giving us the movies we wanted. Upon coming out of the movie, someone who'd seen Pirates II told me she'd really wanted to see Superman, and I of course had wanted to see Pirates (again), so they could easily have switched our assignments. Sigh. And then they decided to send all five buses to ONE Wendy's instead of splitting us up amongst the McDonalds, Burger King, and Arby's that were also on that very same street - so we lucky Bus 5 riders had to wait in the parking lot for 30 minutes. (Reasoning? Because Craig didn't want to have to drive to more than one restaurant to pay people.) Welcome to Camp All-Star.

On a better note, I think I've secured a babysitting job in Chapel Hill for one, and possibly two, nine-month-old boys. A fellow new grad student, Sheela, has a 9-month-old named Kaya, and I'd watch him every Thursday morning. We're still waiting to see if the other mother with whom Sheela wanted to split childcare is going to get on board or not, but either way, it's 99% a done deal, which is awesome. Sheela was really excited to hear that I'm in the department of linguistics, because she and her husband are using Baby Signs with Kaya, and she thought (correctly) that I'd be excited to jump on board with that. Neat.

Today is my last day off - I went back to L.L.Bean and exchanged the bag I bought before for a different one, because I'd realized in the course of dragging it around over the past few weeks that it's driving me just as crazy as all the other messenger bags I've ever owned, and that I should really just give it up and stick with backpacks. Then I had my last Ben & Jerry's cone (which, incidentally, was free, because the credit card machine wasn't working and the guy was nice) and went to Target, where I bought floss (exciting, huh?) and the DVD of Kindergarten Cop for $5.50.

I also got more cash back, so I now have the full $100 cash ready to pay to my Boston Light swim pilot - the only problem is that he hasn't responded to my emails in the past couple of days. I can't think of any reason why he would have changed his mind - I met the price he asked for, and he responded quickly three times before - but I'm getting worried because I don't have any other way to contact him (yet). I just sent him another email, and I also looked him up on whitepages.com and found only one J Dicato in the Boston area, so I supposed I can try calling if he doesn't answer soon - but it's just making me a little nervous. Oh, well. Maybe he's on vacation or something.

One more week until the kids go home!

woensdag 26 juli 2006

Finally, a good day:

1) I got the job at Camp Laurel. They can't put me in a counselor position because I have to leave a little early (for my Boston swim), but they've set me up to work in the office for a few days. Apparently their office is open from 7am till 10pm each day, so 15 hours, and I'll work about 9 hours of that. No real details yet on sleeping quarters, salary, etc. because I had to run back to the stables to pick up my campers after their lesson, but I definitely have a position, so I'm pretty happy. They're going to email me with further details. But really, whatever I do and whatever they pay me, it beats (a) paying for six nights in a motel, or (b) spending six nights with strangers (Dad's friends) and having nothing to do.

2) My car got fixed, for real this time (I hope!), for no charge. This time it was apparently pretty straightforward - just a burnt-out fuse or something. Cross your fingers that this was the ticket.

3) The only person able to give me a ride to the dealership was Rob, our male nurse, and his vehicle happens to be... a motorcycle! (Yes, Mom, he is a careful driver, and I wore a helmet and long clothing, and the speed limit never exceeded 50.) I had never been on a motorcycle before, so it was a lot of fun for me.

4) I am off tonight, typing this post while sitting in (where else?) Panera. And I've discovered a new favorite sandwich... the Smokehouse Turkey panini. Also, they're trying to kick us all out now so they can close, so they're giving away the pastries that are left behind the counter! So I got a free brownie and (for tomorrow) a mini lemon poppyseed cake. Can't beat that!

Tomorrow: on duty till 1am
Friday: late wakeup, beach trip!
Saturday: off all day!
Sunday: on duty till 1am
Monday: bowling trip
Tuesday: nothing special
Wednesday: final night off
Thursday: on duty till 1am
Friday: last activity day
Saturday: campers leave, staff clean up and have our party
Sunday: begin work at Camp Laurel!

dinsdag 25 juli 2006

Drama, drama, drama - Brooks (the head boys counselor) had a fight with Craig and quit this afternoon. I never liked Brooks and I'm certainly not sorry to see him go, but I AM sorry that we have no one experienced enough to fill his shoes. This could be a recipe for disaster unless they get something figured out. I'm sure we'll hear about it eventually - news always trickles down.

Oh, and I called Camp Laurel, and Keith (their director) asked me to come see him face-to-face tomorrow morning at 8:30, while my six horseback riders are having their lesson. I don't think he would have asked me to come talk to him in person if they weren't willing to hire for just one week, so that's a good sign. I'll keep you all posted.

I also got a voicemail saying that my car is fixed, no charge - that didn't take long (I just took it in this morning, on my period off). Now I've just got to arrange for a VW driver to pick me up again tomorrow morning and take me back to the dealer, and we're golden.

In other news, I had a camper flip out tonight - Emily, my six-weeker, who's been here since the beginning. A younger girl, Lexi, who's eleven, came up and said something to Emily's friend Audrey, whereupon Emily started berating her (Lexi) out of the blue. I admit that Lexi can be annoying, constantly asking questions and talking about herself, but she's really a very sweet girl, always eager to please - she's just a 'young' eleven and hasn't really got all her social graces ironed out yet.

Emily said something like, "Would you chill out?! You do this every single day!" etc. etc. etc., and she said it all in a 'yelling' voice, which surprised me. I tried to talk her down for a second, pulling out my 'mother' voice (which I don't often have to use, and especially not with this kid). "Emily. Calm down. You're crossing a line right now." Her answer involved another expletive and a Lexi-directed comment, "You are the most f***ing obnoxious girl in the whole world!"

I confess that I didn't react instantaneously - I was too busy picking my jaw up off the grass. Emily can get overexcited and fly off the handle, sure, but ninety-nine percent of the time, she is really an incredibly mature 13-year-old. I genuinely like her as a person, and I never, ever thought she would speak that way to a younger camper.

About two seconds later, reflex kicked in and I grabbed Emily by the arm, muttering her name through clenched teeth and walking her off to the side. In retrospect, I didn't even think about Lexi (who looked confused, then burst into tears), but another counselor had been standing with us, had heard the whole thing and was able to deal with her. And Emily is my camper, and therefore was my first responsibility.

We stood by ourselves for a long time and talked about how it's okay to think someone is annoying, but not okay to tell them, and how eleven-year-olds can't be expected to be as perceptive or mature as thirteen-year-olds. "She's so annoying!" Emily kept complaining, "She's always coming up and asking me what I'm doing, if I have anyone to talk to, where I'm going... all the time!"
"It's the beginning of social graces," I explained. "She's learning how to make small talk, how to converse with people. She just hasn't got it all smoothed out quite yet. By the time she's your age, she'll get it." Then things moved on to how Emily had been recruited by a Julliard dance coach for his summer program. She had been specifically selected, one of very few, but had been sent to All-Star by her parents instead of going to the dance program. I had never known that, and she got teary-eyed talking about it. I could tell she'd really wanted to go.
"I've been really positive about this whole situation. I came in ready to have a good time. But I've been here almost five weeks now and I am so over it! I just don't want to be here anymore!"
Boy, did I feel that. "And you are definitely not the only person feeling that way. You've talked to Sam and Julie [other 6-week campers] and some of the counselors - you know that a lot of us totally understand how you feel. There's nothing wrong with being angry or frustrated. But you need to make sure you express it in conversation with people who understand, rather than lashing out at other people. You know I'll talk to you whenever you want. But you may not speak that way to a little girl who has nothing to do with your situation."

In the end, she apologized to Lexi, and when I caught her (Lexi) alone later, I explained that Emily had had a bad day, was feeling a little homesick, and ended up taking her emotions out on Lexi even though she hadn't done anything to deserve it. She seemed to understand that, and I don't think there are any hard feelings. But I was disappointed to see Emily act that way. Not really surprised - she's been here only five days less than I have, and the campers don't get days off the way the counselors do, so a burnout is understandable - but disappointed nonetheless.

I cannot wait to get out of here.

zondag 23 juli 2006

I just found out from John, a fellow counselor - whose school sends students to Cape Town, South Africa every spring - that his partner school, which sends students every fall, is Chapel Hill! John just came back a week before camp started and he said it was amazing, truly life-changing. I've been dying to go to South Africa for years, ever since my first year as a camp counselor in 2001 (quite a few Ton-A-Wandah counselors were from South Africa), and I think I'd be a good candidate to go represent Chapel Hill - I'd be a graduate student and a TA during the semester I'd go (fall 2007), which is what's required, and I already speak Dutch, which is very similar to Afrikaans. (Last year, when I was living in La Mancha, Renate and I could often understand each other when speaking our respective languages.) Anyway, so that's something exciting to try and figure out once I get there. It'll probably be the last time I'll get to travel internationally on somebody's else's dime, so I really hope it works out.

I just had one of the most disgusting jobs in the world: trash detail. Amie came into my room while we were all cleaning up Jacobs (the girls' dorm) for the new kids' arrival this afternoon, and said, "Hey Jess, we have to take all that trash in the foyer down to the Dumpster, and there's a whole lot of it, so could you go down and get a golf cart, since you're like the only one who can drive it?" Since Amie is, technically, my immediate superior (waterfront director), I obeyed without thinking, realizing only once I had the golf cart back at Jacobs and was staring at the huge mound of trash bags (with no other counselors anywhere to be found, of course) that Amie is also over 21, and could easily have done the job herself.

Well, I might have been suckered into driving the cart, but I wasn't going to do the whole thing alone. I slung as many boxes and bags as I could onto the cart, then went down the hall and hunted down some people, telling them I needed someone to ride on the back of the cart and make sure things didn't fall off. (Which was true.) Ali finally consented to come with me, and we made three trips down to the Dumpster, slinging trash bags into the compartment and running the compressor to make room for more. The breaking point for me was when I slung a bag up and got a spray of 'garbage juice' right in the face. Yummy.

Anyway, that's over and done with now, and we're waiting for the kids to arrive, which should start happening around noon. My session looks like this:

Monday: call VW and attempt to secure a free repair
Tuesday: call Camp Laurel and attempt to secure a job
Wednesday: night off
Thursday: on duty till 1am
Friday: late wakeup, beach trip, movie, and dinner
Saturday: day off
Sunday: on duty till 1am
Monday: bowling trip
Tuesday: nothing special
Wednesday: night off
Thursday: on duty till 1am
Friday: last day of activities
Saturday: kids leave, staff clean up all day, then party
Sunday: I am OUTTA HERE at 9am!

Can I just say that I almost laughed in Craig's face when he stood up in front of all of us and said, "Someone will be coming around to you in the next couple of days to get your entree preference for the staff party - if you'd prefer lobster or steak." Lobster or steak?! This is Maine, but still. Geez.

zaterdag 22 juli 2006

The second session of kids left today, and I have proceeded to:

6:30: Wake up at 6:30, exhausted and bleary-eyed.
7:00: Eat a huge breakfast of cereal, hash browns, strawberries, and coffee cake.
7:45: Kill time, sitting around with the (even more) impatient kids until 9:00.
9:05: Get into my newly repaired car (which I picked up only yesterday), to find that the AC is, once again, not working.
9:07: Curse, rage, and storm at the world, especially VW service techs from Maine who don't have enough experience with air conditioning.
9:08: Decide to have my day off anyway, and drive to Freeport.
10:05: On a tip, visit the Wilson's Leather outlet.
10:30: Perk up when I find - and buy - a $300 leather jacket for $50.
10:45 Hang jacket in my car, hoping the scent will perfume the interior.
10:55: Buy a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone, half Phish Food and half Turtle Soup, for lunch.
11:00 Wander into and out of shops, browsing and eating my ice cream.
11:40: Get into the car to leave Freeport.
11:41: Discover that my AC is working. Rejoice.
11:42: Drive to Target in Topsham.
12:00: Stock up on granola bars, fruit snacks, razor blades, and dark chocolate.
12:10: Find, try on, and add to my basket a shirt I'd looked for in Jacksonville and failed to find. Rejoice again.
12:15: Grab A Million Little Pieces, since the first 90 pages of another counselor's copy have gotten me hooked. (So what if parts of it are made up? It's still great reading.)
12:20: Sit on the floor in the book section and have an almost-hour-long conversation with Mom about money, loans, old people, and other similarly gripping topics.
13:15: See the movie Hook for $9 and impulsively decide to buy it.
13:20: Check out.
13:21: Get some (but not enough) cash back for the Boston boat pilot.
13:23: Get into my car.
13:24: Discover that the AC is now, once again, not working.
13:25: Groan, roll eyes, then turn on music and drive to VW dealership.
13:54: Arrive at VW dealership only to discover that Billy ('my' employee) is not there.
13:55: Attempt to explain the situation to the man behind the desk, stressing the fact that $750 and two weeks is more than enough to spend on repairing an air conditioner.
13:58: Achieve a 'probably' as to whether or not a free repair can be gotten. Rejoice (cautiously).
14:00: Am told to call back on Monday, after he has spoken to the tech.
14:01: Get back into my car - AC still not working - and drive back to camp with a headache, planning to go to sleep.
14:29: Arrive at camp.
14:30: Decide to break the rules for once and just park behind my dorm, rather than a quarter-mile away at Alfond.
14:36: Fall into bed and sleep for three hours.
17:45: Wake up to the sound of a storm outside my window.
17:47: Realize I'm hungry.
18:00: Get back into the car - once again, no AC - and drive to Panera in the pouring rain.
18:30: Arrive at Panera and sprint through the rain to the door.
18:40: Get my Greek salad and Frontega Chicken panini.
18:41: Spot two more Powerbook users in the corner, and head over to join them.
18:42: Am asked whether I have ever connected here before, and if I know why they can't seem to get online.
18:43: Boot up my own computer.
18:44: Realize that they're doing everything right - the wireless Internet is just not working.
18:45: Internally curse, rage, and storm at the world some more. Try a few different computer things, to no avail.
18:50: Ask two different employees why we can't connect, and are told that everything is working as far as they can see, and that it's probably due to the storm.
18:52: Mutter some more curses and proceed to eat my food, plus a cookie.
19:15: Start typing this post in Word, for lack of other options.
19:51: Try Firefox one last time before shutting down computer.
19:53: Realize the Internet is now working. Rejoice.
19:57: Hurriedly post what I've written before it makes like a VW air conditioning and blows. (In the figurative sense, mind... only the figurative sense.)

woensdag 19 juli 2006

Only 16 days left of camp - be still, my heart.

I sent an e-mail to Camp Laurel today asking if anyone had been informed of my desire to work there for the final week, and received a response from Keith (their director) to call him on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. I take that to mean that I may be interviewed over the phone - the standard 'why do you want to work here,' 'what would you do in this situation,' etc. I'm not too worried - I have yet to fail an interview that involves child care. (Knock on wood.) The only hitch would be that I can only stay from midday Saturday the 5th through midday Friday the 11th. Not sure how much good I'd do them in six days, but you never know.

I am getting so sick of 15-year-old girls that I don't know what to do with myself. The Ton-A-Wandah kids were never like this. Goes to show you what a high income bracket can do. The girls at my table are constantly calling one another 'fatty' and variations thereupon. ("But she knows I'm just kidding!" "That still doesn't make it okay!") Sigh. And yesterday during rest hour, a girl named Sam (one of the ones I can't stand, who thinks she runs the camp) asked Audrey (a girl from Quebec whom I like a lot) to teach her some French. (Sam knows some 'classroom French', and Audrey speaks it natively.) Audrey had been in my group at Funtown Splashtown last week, and she knew I could understand some French, so she said jokingly to Sam something along the lines of, "Don't you just hate this counselor sitting next to me?" I stuck my tongue out at her.
Sam, however, didn't know I spoke any French, and responded, "Oui! Toi aussi? Elle est grosse!" ("Yeah! You too? She's fat!")

Sadly, the French words didn't come to me immediately - it's been a few months - but I did exclaim in English, "You guys are MEEEEAN!" I didn't know whether to laugh or be angry. Audrey, of course, was literally rolling on the floor laughing, and I could hardly blame her. Sam had an 'oh shit' reaction, which she quickly covered up with, "Know what? I totally knew you spoke French," and some lame excuse about something I'd supposedly said during the first week of camp. Hah. Put your foot in your mouth that time, didn't ya? I enjoyed her discomfiture so much that I forgot to be mad. The fact is, I'm 22 and pretty comfortable with my athletic body - I'm not a stick like the campers, obviously, but I'm not overweight either - and Sam's comment didn't really bother me. But when I was 15 or 16, it would have. Which is why I'm jumping on this 'fatty' thing as much as possible, no matter how much they tell me they're kidding. 15 is a tough enough age as it is - they don't need "jokes" making it tougher.

On a nicer note, I had a long conversation with Linnie, one of 'my' girls, tonight - she's into astronomy, and when she heard I had gone to Space Camp she got really interested and wanted to hear everything about it. I told her all about the simulators and activities and all, and she decided she wants to go next year. Since we were alone in the room, I even snuck out the computer and showed her some pictures on the website. We ended up talking about the potential for life to exist in outer space, how the human body works, and somehow ended up on the Holocaust. I showed her my Auschwitz pictures and recommended a few books to her - if there's one thing I know, it's books - and she lapped it all up eagerly. I really enjoyed talking to her. What a difference between 13 and 15.

Anyway, I'm off to bed - tomorrow is my night off, Friday is the last activity day, and Saturday the campers leave and I get a full day off. Then on Sunday it all starts over again for the third and final time. Brace yourselves...

dinsdag 18 juli 2006

Counting down makes it feel like it goes faster...

Wed 19 - A day
Thu 20 - B day, night off!
Fri 21 - A day
Sat 22 - SECOND SESSION ENDS. Day off!
Mon 24 - A day, on-duty till 1am
Tue 25 - B day
Wed 26 - A day, night off!
Thu 27 - B day, on-duty till 1am
Fri 28 - out-of-camp trip - beach, movie, dinner
Sat 29 - day off!
Sun 30 - on-duty till 1am
Mon 31 - A day
Tue 01 - B day
Wed 02 - A day, night off!
Thu 03 - B day, on-duty till 1am
Fri 04 - A day
Sat 05 - ALL CHILDREN GO HOME!!! Staff party.
Sun 06 - work at Camp Laurel?
Mon 07 - work at Camp Laurel?
Tue 08 - work at Camp Laurel?
Wed 09 - work at Camp Laurel?
Thu 10 - work at Camp Laurel?
Fri 11 - work at Camp Laurel?
Sun 13 - arrive home in Jacksonville! (evening)
Mon 14 - haircut
Tue 15 - dentist appt
Wed 16 - pack, reorganize

zaterdag 15 juli 2006

Now the VW people are saying that whatever was leaking before isn't leaking now, and that now it's the compressor that isn't working. Therefore it's now an electrical problem and not a leak, but they still don't know exactly what's wrong. Sigh. So they've given me a loaner car in the meantime and are planning to work on it some more on Monday. It's turning into way more drama than I was expecting, but at least the loaner car is really cool: a red Saab, with all the bells and whistles (steering wheel controls, driver/passenger ACs, an LCD screen, etc.)

On a more positive note, I posted an ad on Craigslist, as the race directors recommended, and found a boater. His name is Joe, he's 26, and his boat looks a lot like the ones we use at camp for waterskiing, etc. So that particular hurdle is - dare I say it? - cleared.

I also had my midterm evaluation yesterday, and was pretty hurt by the things they said about me. The waterfront director called me "too intense" (because I wanted us to do inservice training? because we don't share similar senses of humor? because I'm not 18 like the rest of the lifeguards and don't act as young as they do? take your pick) and the head girls' counselor was critical of my "ability to relate to the campers." (Oh, don't make me laugh. You never even see me with them - I dare you to go ask all seven of my girls who their favorite counselor is.) "I'm sure your end-of-summer one will be a lot better," she said afterwards. Yeah. Uh-huh. Right.

Vince, one of the guy counselors that I got along well with, left yesterday - he wasn't fired, just said "this place just isn't for me" and arranged to leave. I feel ya, buddy... coming here was definitely not the best decision I ever made.

Winfield and Dee, two other guy counselors whom I like a lot, are in a band called The Rhythm Section (actually, they are the band; they're the only two members), and I bought their CD yesterday - partly because I wanted it after having heard them play during orientation, and partly as a thank-you to Winfield for driving me to the car dealership - and I'm really impressed. There's this one song, "City by the Sea", that's especially good. Maybe one day I'll be able to say, "Yeah, I knew them when we worked at Camp All-Star..." ... LOL.

I'm on my day off - I went to Freeport this morning (and finally found a cute new purse to replace the nasty sticky one, for only $10, woohoo!) and am now sitting in Panera amid the remains of my Frontega Chicken Panini and Greek Salad. Not yet sure what I'm going to do next (besides the inevitable trip to Wal-Mart, LOL), but I'll find something. Today's Pro Sports Day (the whole camp is divided into two teams and the kids compete in basically every available sport), so it's a relief to be out of camp.

dinsdag 11 juli 2006

Very fast update, because I'm on my way to lunch:

1) The parts are in, and my car will be fixed on Friday morning pending the Boss Man's approval.

2) My lobbying for an extra $200 in travel money resulted in a very reluctant $100. Which isn't a lot, but it's in the non-taxable part of the salary, so that's nice.

3) I saw Pirates of the Caribbean II and was pretty impressed. It starts slow - I was mumbling, "Oh no, please don't let it tank!" - but it gets better. It has a rather different personality from the first movie, which I think is the reason the online reviews have been mediocre - people's standards are higher now - but it's also quite a bit funnier, and ends with a great cliffhanger to set us up for movie 3 (due out in May). And - spoiler - Jack and Elizabeth finally make out! Even if it is just part of a trick on her part. (I was expecting that all through movie 1 and it never happened.) But in reading the online reviews, I apparently missed a lot of subtleties, so I think I'm going to go see it again tomorrow night. A movie plus dinner and firewall-less wireless Internet at Panera sounds like a good evening to me.

4) I just commandeered the washer/dryer with no competition whatsoever. Gotta love having second period free.

5) It's raining, and it's supposed to keep raining, which means we might get a rainy-day schedule this afternoon, hurrah!

6) In the counselor dodgeball game last night, I got smashed squarely in the face with a ball by Jesse Carranza, who is... wait for it... a former pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. (No, I couldn't just get hit by a REGULAR counselor, why do you ask? ;)) It hurt, to say the least, and shot me full of adrenaline that made me hyperventilate for a while - and if it had been another inch to the center it would have broken my nose - but I'm still intact. My nose is sore to the touch, but definitely not broken, and the facial swelling around my cheek and eye is so slight that I'm the only one who can really see it. No shiner or anything. Apparently Jesse also nailed the smallest girl in camp, Emily, in the head by accident right after he got me in the face, so most people forgot about me in the ensuing drama. (She's barely spoken since, and the nurse said she reported 'hearing voices' last night... I think Jesse should be banned from any future dodgeball...)

7) I might possibly get to go work at Camp Laurel for a few days after this camp ends. That would be a good way to (a) earn a little extra money, (b) kill off those extraneous days between the end of camp and the Boston swim, and (c) decide if perhaps I'd like to work there next year (they've really impressed me so far). I might find out tomorrow - I'll keep you all posted.

zaterdag 8 juli 2006

Our first group of children is gone - hallelujah. There are around 25 kids staying either 4 or 6 weeks, but today they're all either on trips or being amused by a skeleton staff with board games and movies. The rest of us have the day off, so I'm sitting in the Volkswagen dealership typing this in Word and will transfer it over when I get Internet again. I'm going to try to find a Panera or a Starbucks with a wireless connection so I can download some music - the camp is behind a firewall, so I'm quite limited in what I can do there. No MSN Messenger, no websites with unsecure items (including the Chapel Hill student website, bah), and no Limewire.

I just went to Dick's Sporting Goods, trying to find another Endurance suit (that special material that doesn't wear out as fast as lycra). Mine lasted a long time, but the lining is finally starting to rip out - every time I pull it on, I make the holes bigger and bigger. At home, they have tons of those suits - I see them on the racks every time I visit Dick's - so I was happy that there was a store so close to the camp. However, when I walked in and asked for them, I was told that (a) they don't have any, and (b) they only carry swimsuits, period, for three months out of the year. I was shocked. It really is a different world up here. Guess I'll have to order off the website, or wait another month until I'm home. I have other suits with me; they're just not as good as that one.

Hah. The VW tech just came out and told the man at the front desk, Billy, that my car has a leak somewhere in the cooling system, and they're going to go in with a blacklight and try to find the spot. I didn't say anything, but I feel slightly vindicated. Billy is a very nice guy, but he was trying to tell me that charging the AC up (meaning just putting in more refrigerant) was probably all that was needed, when Dad had specifically told me in an email that freon (or whatever gas they use now - something with letters and numbers - F-134?) can't just disappear - it has to go somewhere. So I told Billy I didn't understand how simply filling it up again would fix the problem, since the gas had to have leaked out somewhere, and he sort of hemmed and hawed about evaporation and then said, "Well, we can have them check for leaks first," in a way that suggested, "If that's what you want - I'm only doing this to humor you." Well, HA. So there.

After they get finished, I'm going to go back to the Panera here in Augusta and have lunch and try to get on the Internet, then check the movie times for Pirates of the Caribbean II and confer with Mel and Laura (friends back at camp) as to what time they'd like to go see it. I'm also thinking about going to Target (although the closest one is really close to Freeport, so I might end up getting drawn back there if I try to hit up Target), and I also want to work out in the athletic center and maybe, if there's time, lie out on the dock. I was determined that this would be the year I attained some hint of color on my pasty white belly, but since we're not allowed to wear two-pieces in front of the kids, the contrast between my limbs and my core is only growing more distinct.) And last but not least, I want to go to bed early. I am really hurting for a night of about 9-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep - no alarms, no children who have to go to bed before we can, and no 5:30 sun coming in the window and waking me up. (I have an east-facing window at the head of my bed, and I cannot get used to being this far from the equator - the sun comes up so early here! It's like being back in the Netherlands.)

Guess that's all for now...

UPDATE: "Only a charge," yeah, right. Turns out there is a massive leak in one of the main pipes of the cooling system, requiring a $225 part and 4-5 hours of labor (=$350), during which they will be essentially dismantling the entire front half of the car (taking the bumper off, etc.). Meaning I have to figure out how to get the car into Augusta on a weekday, since the job is too labor-intensive to do it on a Saturday with a skeleton crew. Oh, and they also charged me $140 for the diagnostic stuff they did today (putting in the dye, running the blacklight, finding the location of the leak, etc.)

Big, big sigh. But what choice do I have?

maandag 3 juli 2006

Aaaahhh! I want one!

Living with the camp photographer only makes me jealous........ :)

Cue the contented sighs. I just had a very, very nice evening out. First I went to the VW dealership and heard that (a) the lack of warning lights on the dashboard most likely means the problem is only with the AC and not going to impact any other parts of the car, and (b) that all it needs is to be "charged" (something to do with the refrigerant, which apparently needs to be done every few years) and they can do it this Saturday morning at 10:30 (my first full day off). Then, given a clean bill of auto health, I went to Freeport, which has got to be the most awesome little town I've ever seen. I rounded the corner onto Main Street and knew that if my mom ever saw it, she'd refuse to leave. It was equal parts small-town and modern shopping mall, with tons of little shops lining the streets, Abercrombie and L.L.Bean next to old-fashioned chocolatiers and fancy lobster joints and privately owned artsy shops. The sidewalks were red brick and everyone was dressed in bright, summery colors, out walking with their kids and dogs and ice cream cones. Like something out of a postcard. I had a lobster roll for dinner at a hole-in-the-wall place atop a roof overlooking Main Street, then a waffle cone from Ben & Jerry's (Phish Food and Turtle Soup). But the main focus of my trip was... THE L.L.BEAN OUTLET. I must have spent over two hours in there, poking around. It's unbelievably big - four floors - and they have everything. I bought a new toiletry kit in light blue, since Dad kind of adopted the hunter green one I used to have, and then I also bought a new bag, of course, because did we really think that Miss Zippers-And-Pockets could go to the L.L.Bean outlet and not buy one? (I was sorely tempted by a great carryon bag too, but restrained myself.) I hadn't seen anything in the catalogs that tempted me, so I just thought I'd look through the bag section, but I saw that one (which is brand new) and was hooked. It hits a nice 'happy medium' as far as potentially being a laptop bag, school bag, travel bag, or any number of other things without looking out of place; it also isn't overly stiff (like most laptop bags) and doesn't slide around to the front of my body while I'm walking the way my orange one does. A winner! So that was my summer splurge; I looked in a number of other stores but didn't buy anything else (not even one of the huge collection of anti-Bush magnets). When the sun started to go down (around 8) I headed back here to spend some quality time with my computer, and only then looked at my list and realized I forgot to go to Dick's for a new Endurance-fabric swimsuit (mine has performed wonderfully for almost a year and a half now, but the lining is finally ripping out). Oh, well; something to add to the table for Saturday. Car dealership, Pirates of the Caribbean II, and Dick's Sporting Goods! :)

Random question, since I've been listening to the Dixie Chicks all night: what should my sign say when I go to the concert? Most places won't let you take signs in, so I'll have to be creative about making cuts and folds and sticking it down the back of my pants or into my purse and then repairing it inside with some tape - but I absolutely have to take one, since I'll be sitting so close (8th row center!) and they might actually be able to see it. But what should it say? My only idea so far is 'I'd Be Ashamed If I Were From Texas, Too.' Anybody else out there got a brain wave?

This weekend was Pro Sports Day (two days, really) where the camp is divided into two teams (this time, the Braves and the White Sox) and the kids compete against each other in all the different sports. It was actually kind of fun; the counselors had to join in too (I was on the White Sox), and we had to make up a song, a cheer, and a clap and perform them all, as well as do a couple of counselor events like a volleyball game and a tug of war (which we won!) I'd forgotten how much fun it was to bang on a table and yell along with a bunch of people. We also got cool shirts (Braves = red, White Sox = black).

One other cool thing, from yesterday: I now have the assignment of driving a 12-year-old boy to Hebrew tutoring every Sunday and Wednesday afternoon. (A lot of the camps up here are heavily Jewish, so one of them hires a Hebrew teacher every summer and she takes pupils from other camps.) His name is Jason, and he's got his bar mitzvah on September 1st, which is why he has to continue his lessons over the summer. And he turned out to be a really great kid! We talked about languages and accents and Camp All-Star versus other camps. The instructor loved him too (she kept saying she wanted to transfer him over to her camp). Also, major coincidence: he's from Orlando (two hours away from me), and he also attended Camp Blue Star (which is in North Carolina, like five minutes up the road from Ton-A-Wandah, where I went for eight years). Wow. Anyway, the point was, he already knows most of the texts he has to know, etc., and it was really neat to hear the chanting and see this little American boy look at chickenscratch symbols and make words out of them - music, really. I was impressed, and intrigued, and the instructor was over the moon that he'd learned that much only going to twice-a-week classes for a year and not anything more intense. He's here for four weeks, so he'll have five more lessons before camp's over. I think I may be seeing a budding future linguist here...

zondag 2 juli 2006

Okay, so things are no longer so rosy in Counselor Land. Guys and girls are beginning to pair off, and other people are clique-ing up. Tonight was my first night out, and I had planned to go out to eat with three waterfront friends who had the same free night. We'd mentioned it to each other several times over the past few days, and I mentioned it at least once to all three of them at some point during the day today. Then, at the last minute, a few guys decided to come with us, meaning we'd need to borrow two cars instead of one, but we still thought we could get it all worked out. On the way back from my last assignment of the day, I asked Moti (one of the guys), "So we're meeting down here, right?"
"Yeah, we're just going to go shower and change first."
"Yeah, me too. Okay, so I'll see you guys down here in a little bit." And we went our separate ways.

To make a long story short, the guys and 2 lifeguards ended up piling into one car and leaving me behind, along with Denise, one of the other waterfront staff. Didn't say a word to either of us, just didn't show up at the office like they'd said they would, and when we walked down to the staff parking lot, their car was gone. Accident? I think not. I was seething. So I drove myself and Denise in my own car so that we could at least get out of camp. I hadn't wanted to drive my car because we still don't know what happened with the AC (if it's just the AC or something bigger which might cause other problems) and I told everyone that, but I guess they just didn't care. It will (hopefully) be fixed on Monday, but I'll be damned if any of those "friends" are getting any rides from me this summer. They got out of camp perfectly well without me tonight, and they can damn well keep it up.

We ended up at the same restaurant, at a table right next to them, and when Denise and I walked up, I said, "Thanks!" very sarcastically. "For what?" one of them asked. "For nothing!" I snapped in the same tone, then went to my own table. They're all playing innocent - "the car was full", "we didn't know", etc., but as I said, I talked to every single one of them at some point during the day today. I know they knew we were all going to go together, and there is no reason in the world why they couldn't have come and made their excuses to my face, or Denise's, rather than running off behind our backs without a word.

And unfortunately, one of the two lifeguards was Mandy, the girl from Ohio whom I'd thought might turn out to be a good friend. But she's downright frigid to me now, so I guess not...

Robin left a very nice comment about making friends on my last post, which I saw when I came home tonight and which was exactly what I needed to hear. She basically said that my trouble making friends probably comes from the fact that people are intimidated by me - because I speak my mind, because I'm good at lots of things, because I have the respect of the campers, pick your poison. I'm sure they don't define it as intimidation in their own minds - it's probably more like, "Wow, that Jess sure is a bitch," - but I learned at a young age (the hard way) that it doesn't matter what other people think of me. If they agree with me on certain issues and like me for who I am, that's great, but I'm not going to sugarcoat my personality just to make people like me better. As I've mentioned before, this is a time in my life when it's difficult to make and keep friends as it is (changing schedules every semester, new roommates every year, traveling to different countries, summer jobs in different states, switching schools, etc.) and I think the way most people handle it is by trying to be "neutral" and not reveal their true personalities (i.e. politics, religion, other opinions) until they really know somebody. I don't play that game, and I think that scares some people. Not everyone - there are a couple of people here that I really do like a lot - but some people.

For example, here are a few things that make me stick out here at camp: (a) I'm not a big drinker and don't enjoy the counselors' impromptu off-site campfires, so after the first one I started politely declining them, (b) I really like the camp food and am vocal about that fact, whereas everyone else is constantly complaining about it, (c) there are a lot of anti-Bush bumper stickers around here, and I'm constantly crowing with laughter at some new one ("I need a florist to send two Bushes to Iraq"), and (d) I refuse to let any of the other counselors borrow my car on their nights off, EVER, because no one is insured on it but me -- nor will I borrow/drive anyone else's car on which I am not insured. Stuff like that. Other people just sort of go along, like lemmings - they normally don't comment on the things I say, or they reply with something noncommittal. It's getting really annoying. Grow a personality, already, would ya?

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