Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Dear Meghan, Heather, and Jess,
Thanks SO much for the letters and packages. I got them all two days ago and my leader gave them to me during a team meeting so everyone now thinks I'm super popular. You gals are the best.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two weeks and still going strong!

Once again I’m sitting around waiting for the Tuesday night room inspection, which finally gives me time to blog. The past days have been so busy but I’ve been productive which has been good.

Today my team and I went and did a ropes course so its was a very early morning. I was up by seven and of course the first day I volunteer to drive the van we have our first morning frost so I had to bust out the ice-scraper which is quite the undertaking when you’re scraping down the windows of a 15 passenger van without gloves. Thankfully Iowa has a great pop music station so while everybody slept on the hour drive I rocked out to my Miley, Pink, and Kelly. It was actually the first time I found Iowa really beautiful. As I was driving the sun was coming up over all the cornfields that were covered in ice and a thin fog. Not a bad way to start the day. I’m actually surprised that AmeriCorps is even letting me drive the vans considering that during my driving test I hit the gas and was partway out of the parking lot before I realized that my instructor was half way through the door and the other passenger didn’t even have her seatbelt on….but I mean we all makes mistakes.

I’ve been working on finding constructive ways to pass the time here so me and my friends Lauren and Lyndsey started our own knitting club and let me tell you there is quite the waiting list waiting to join. Turns out there are way more closet knitters out there than even I had anticipated. Last weekend I was knitting a scarf on the sidelines of a flag football game and out of nowhere one of the players started approaching me. My first instinct was that of panic and to hide my lunch money but to my pleasant surprise he complimented me on my handiwork and asked me if I could teach him a basic stitch sometime. This never would have happened in high school I’ll tell ya that much.

Last Saturday I had my first Iowa bar experience and let’s just say it’s not really my scene. Turns out it was the night of a big Iowa vs. Michigan game and the bar was packed and people were yelling and screaming and hitting each other as a form of endearment. When Iowa pulled through and won the game in the lasts few seconds the place erupted into pandemonium. People were hugging and flinging into dog piles all over the place. Even the lady by me at the bar who was wearing mom jeans that probably fit a tad bit better back in 92’ took a running start and flung herself on top of the pile of men who had blocked all access to the ATM machine. The whole scene was fascinating.

Here in Vinton, AmeriCorps shares its facility with the Iowa Brail and Sight Saving School. It’s a big deal because it’s the second oldest school in Iowa and Mary Ingalls Wilder (Laura’s sister) went here back in the 1800’s. There used to be hundreds of blind kids that went here but now there are only eight students. These days they usually abbreviate the school name to I.B.S. because there’s not such things as sight saving so you’ll see people walking around the campus with IBS written on their shirts and I just can’t help but chuckle every time I see one because I’m just that immature. The other day I was walking by one of the students here at the school and just to be polite I said hello because we had been told that they have great voice recognition and if we meet them once they will most likely remember us later. Anyway apparently I sound an awful lot like some guy named Todd because this guy yelled back “HEY TODD!” and I didn’t know if I should pretend to be Todd and go with it or correct him but luckily one of the teachers was there to let him know I wasn’t Todd and he looked real disappointed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eatin Up the Folk Music

So this may come as a shock to many who know me and my undying love for pop music, but in my attempt to blend in with my new surroundings I have started to develop a taste for folk music!!! It all began last week when a guy named John Craigie put on a show for us here and he was one of the funniest performers I've ever seen and actually had really good music. So good in fact that i even signed up for the mailing list and bought one of his cd's that had a song on it called Tacoma(turns out he does a lot of shows in the good ol' Pacific Northwest). He ended the show with a song that wasn't as folksy but we were all dying laughing when we heard it. It's a song thats a compilation of many of the Chuck Norris jokes and while I was apprehensive to hear the song since those jokes were funny like five years ago i actually think it's pretty great and i hope you like it too even though it's a lot better in person...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


So I’m sitting in room 209 and I just passed my first room inspection!!! Phew. I was a little worried. Especially when the guy checked for the dust on top of the dresser, which I had totally forgotten to wipe down. I was a little nervous but he said it was fine this time. Today I spent most of the day doing CPR and first aid training, which I hadn’t done since my mom made me take the babysitting class in 5th grade in which I was the only boy in the class. Those were awkward times but I’m hoping if I do end up doing CPR this year it will be on something more exciting than a 5 year old choking on a pretzel.

Last night I found out who my team will be for the next 10 months which is something I had been anticipating/dreading because you never know how it could turn out. It was kinda sad at first because I really liked the team I had been put in for the first week of training and we had already started bonding since we had been together from the beginning but I’m excited to get to know the new people in my group and see what happens this year! Some people literally started crying on the spot once they saw who their team was so I’m counting my blessings. Another disappointment was that by getting put in a new group I was assigned a new kitchen and I went from having the most pimped out Rachel Ray kitchen of campus to the spare room someone put a fridge and toaster oven in and decided that two George Forman Grills are the equivalence of a real oven. I beg to differ. Another source of stress these days are that we have to start cooking once a week for our team and I haven’t admitted to them yet that I’m completely useless in a kitchen without a crockpot. I mean maybe I could make it in the George Foreman and it would be so low fat but probably not as tender.

Last Sunday I got my first look at downtown Vinton and I was little let down after being spoiled by living in Seattle for 5 years. Even though it’s a really cute town and supposedly has a kick ass dollar store everything closes so early! For instance, the coffee shop is closed by 4pm during the week and 2pm on Sunday! Who’s even up before two on a Sunday?? I asked someone if there was a Starbucks in town and they just laughed and walked away. I’m starting to go through withdrawals. On Saturday I got so desperate for caffeine I walked ten minutes to Vinton’s only McDonalds which of course is connected to a gas station so it’s not even a legit one. I had my hopes set on a mocha from the McCafe but settled for drip frankly because that was the only option and they looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for a mocha.

Tonight was the first AmeriCHOIR meeting and I am super stoked. The only thing the choir does is sing the Star Spangled Banner at graduation next August so we’ll have plenty of time to work out the kinks. As usual there were only three guys including myself who came to the first meeting and of course we’re all tenors. They asked me if I would mind singing bass but that’s ain’t happening in this lifetime so hopefully some basses turn up soon. Later tonight a big group of us are having our first GLEE party for the year so it’s shaping up to be a good night.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First week in Vinton, IA

Well I made it through the first week of training for NCCC. I was the last person to arrive on campus Wednesday out of 140 so I kinda missed a lot of the important meetings and mingling time but I’m quickly catching up. For some reason once I got to campus they had me sit in on the remaining part of the all girls floor meeting, which was kind of an awkward introduction and I was worried I might be assumed to be the token transsexual of campus. Most of the weeks training has been sitting through long sessions about policies and rules for the year but on Monday we get assigned to our team for the year and start learning skills needed for our projects.

It’s really strange feeling being almost 24 and moving back into the dorms. I feel like a freshman at SPU again awkwardly trying to make conversation with people so you don’t have to eat alone in the lunchroom. I thought doing this once was enough. I have one roommate and his name is T.J. and he’s from Jersey and is currently obsessed with the “Cats” soundtrack and loves Humphry Bogart movies so we get along just swimmingly. Most people hang out in the lounges and you’re always sure to find a game of apples to apples to jump in on or an episode of Flight of the Concords to watch. On my first night I met a girl named Emily who is just as obsessed with the show GLEE as I am which was a relief because one of my biggest fears in coming was that I would have no one to share my love for GLEE with.

Yesterday we all got our physicals at the local hospital, which turned out to me more fun than I thought it would be and it was a great place to meet people. I mean you grow pretty close to a person once you see them carrying a bottle of their own urine across the hall 3 minutes after meeting them. I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t pass the urine test considering all the drugs I’ve been taking to kill off my sinus infection and you just never know anymore if you’re taking an essential ingredient to meth these days but I totally passed and I’m still waiting hear back on the tuberculosis test so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The town of Vinton is quite small and there isn’t a whole lot to do but the people are ridiculously sweet and kind. On Friday night what I assumed is the local senior center invited all of us corps members over for Five Dollar Fish Fry Friday. It was definitely a party in the U.S.A and the walls were hung with oversized beach towels that had pictures of planes, warships, and flags all depicting scenes from the Air Force or Army. They really do love America here. Everyone there seemed to be pushing at least 70 and they all told us how happy they were to have us here in town and how they want us all to come back for Bingo night, which would be an absolute hoot.

This morning they had tryouts for the firefighting team, which in the beginning of the week sounded like a great idea to me but by yesterday I realized it probably wasn’t my calling. For the tryout you had to power walk 3 miles in under 45 minutes which may not sound that hard but most people told me they had no feeling below the waist by lap 4 so I’m thinking I made the right decision to sleep in.