You know (or you hope) it's been a busy day (in a good way) when you're finally cleaning up your work inbox at 4am because there just hasn't been any other time to do it. I hope this isn't a case of me deluding myself with my bad time management skills (just kidding).
In addition to meetings and skimming through the Blue Engine Fellows applications that are coming in (and wondering just how many we're going to get this year...), I've actually been catching up with friends who I haven't seen in a bit. Which is awesome. And always makes me remember that I need to do this more often. (Side note: I also need to stop cooking before going on a week long eating out binge. Though this may work out if we get trapped in our apartment and I have to eat my way through the fridge).
And a gem from one of today's meetings: "Growing old isn't for sissies." I think that's pretty damn true.
I really have no clue what to write about today.
I should add that, as part of "Things I Should Do Every Day That I Say I'm Going To Start Doing With the New Year", I'm trying to take 15 minutes (or half an hour, or two hours) when I get home to just sit in front of the computer and do nothing. Or everything. Make lists. Reply to emails. Not check Facebook. Part of this includes blogging.
But I have really no clue what to write about (other than the fact that I forgot my hat today which made doing anything outside super unpleasant. Great time to wait on the subway platform for the above ground trains).
So I'll cheat and go back to yesterday: the almost snow day.
Apparently, New York doesn't call its snow days until 5am the day of. The one snow day I got in New Jersey (4th grade) wasn't called until that morning, so I guess this does make sense. Unless you're tossing and turning in your bed because it's 4:30 and you're not sure whether you should actually get up and clean your room or try and go back to bed (I tried to clean my room).
As it turns out, the trains didn't run that late and the snow wasn't that hard to get through. And all things told, the churren we work with need as much time in school as they can (and I would have just gone to the office in case of a snow day. So not a real day off). As it turned out, a significant portion of students didn't show any way. Boo. Such is a day in the life of a public school (or so I've been told).
At any rate, the snow is now mostly watery and mushy. Back to reality, I guess.
Coming up soon: Other Things I Should Do Anyway But Say I'll Do Now Because Of The New Year, A Paler Shade of White, and this new book I'm reading (maybe), picture posting?
Since college, my lunch has been mostly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (my boss thinks this is hilarious). This is largely a result of a year-and-a-half of non-food stamp AmeriCorps, where every penny was to be pinched. Although there are occasionally cheap lunches to be found ($4 quesadillas from the taco truck in Washington Heights and random $4 schwarmas on Court Street - both of which are notably more expensive than sandwiches), I'll stick with the good old pb&j. I believe it allows me to pay for random travel expenses and weekend fun, though I have yet to actually calculate whether that actually works out.
There are exceptions, though. I spent 3 years y un poco màs in Ecuador eating soup and their "plato tìpico" - meat and rice. After watching our Fellows eat turkey sandwiches every day during training, I caved and ate coldcuts for a week. And this week, in an ongoing effort to in-kind food for our in-person interviews next year, I'm eating out. We've tried a couple big corporate chains, but they seem to be mostly tapped out of donations. So I'm trying a couple of local restaurants, including Court Order
and Lemongrass Thai. After all, I don't want to be That Guy who just goes in and asks for free food. Isn't it better to be a customer and community member who just happens to be asking if the restaurant helps out local nonprofits? That's how I justify it to myself anyway...and what do you know, one of the restaurants told me that, today, their manager was out, and that I should come back tomorrow (well...technically today). Too bad, I'll have to save the pb&j for next week and go back to check it out tomorrow.
Oh, and y'all should check out Garrick Aden-Buie
, one of my old compañeros from Peace Corps. Good live music, especially if you happen to be in Chicago
So, at the beginning of the year, we asked our Fellows
to blog as a reflection on their year of service. Much like my own blogging, many of them have stopped, mostly due to other time constraints (almost all of it work related). But thinking about our original intentions for our Fellows' blogs and rather than this blog being a running commentary on eating bacon at 4am (It was Trader Joe's O's today, by the way), I figured I should actually offer insight into what the operations side of the nonprofit world (the tiny bit that I know, anyway) looks like.
On Monday, I'm sitting in the office, trying to catch up everything that fell to the wayside while we worked on our AmeriCorps grant. Midway through an email conversation with our site director, said site director says "oh, the Fellows' subway passes expired yesterday. They want to know if they're getting reimbursed?"
"That's funny," I say to myself, "I made a calendar of when the subway passes should be distributed (*insert me opening calendar while I say this*) but they shouldn't be distributed until...(*actual words removed due to the mixed company-ness of readership*)". Due to the 30-day duration of these passes, plus 31-day months, plus not having been to our partner school due to said grant and shortened pre-Thanksgiving weeks, I've apparently forgotten to deliver next month's subway passes. Oops.
So I rush out of the office (without a coat, since I biked to work, but that's ok, it's warm when you're not walking in the shadows) and ride the subway an hour up to Washington Heights (thankfully it's express and skips all of the Central Park stops), drop off the subway passes to minimal scolding by the Fellows ("I was CURSING Blue Engine!" one says jokingly. I change the subject and walk away), poke a few of them until they turn in their timesheets, then jump on the subway back to the office to I cram in another hour of work before biking home.
So that's your small (tongue-in-cheek) insight into what I know of nonprofit logistics (disclaimer: not much): you pay lots of attention to detail and, even when you have systems, you have to double/triple/quadruple check them or they go awry and people get stranded in subway stations. :) Still wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world, though.
So while I usually advocate for 3-day weekends, I think I might extend that push to 4-day weekends. After all, that would enable an easier split between two cities (say, hypothetically, San Francisco and New York). Plus one of those days might actually be dedicated to important things. Like sleeping.
Today was pretty great, if for no other reason than I spent most of it sleeping. Talked to my next-of-kin (my old sitemate from Peace Corps), did a bit of cooking (empanadas; not in bacon grease this time) and watched back episodes of "How I Met Your Mother". I should feel guilty about doing less work, except that I spent a bit of time yesterday cleaning. It doesn't really show, but, hey, I tried. Alas, I did not spend quite enough time learning to play guitar this weekend, but the slow-growing adult in me knows better than to go strumming around at 3am.
Project for the week: fix the bathroom sink. The stopper doesn't seem to work. No real progress to speak of, though I've at least figured out how the thing works hypothetically. Thanks to Google.
Less than 48 hours after setting foot in New York's Kennedy Airport, I find myself in San Francisco's International Airport. It's been a quick trip (as just about everyone has told me) but totally worth it. I managed to find a bunch of my running shirts and the 2 Harry Potter books I own (I actually am not sure which ones - I'm pretty sure it's 5 and 6 as I think 7 got left in Ecuador) to bring back. Spent yesterday eating with family, then eating with friends and spent most of today drinking coffee up and down the peninsula before eating some more with family.
I suppose we're officially in December mode now. I don't really count Black Friday as a holiday (or a day really), but it's interesting to see people's perspectives on what's coming up. For one, I (and most of my family) feel like a total glutton. Honestly folks? Never gonna eat again. One of my co-workers points out (sagely, I might add) that, while it's dark in the morning and dark at night (at least in New York), it's also the time of year when people (New Yorkers) are friendliest to each other. Which is a pretty sweet deal, I think...
Re-committing myself to blogging, which probably means that I'll blog this week (or maybe just today), then fall off the bandwagon again. We'll also see how the sleep cycle pans out - right now, it's not looking so hot. I'm especially trying to capture the nonprofit lifestyle, but we'll see how that goes. I'll probably get distracted by bacon.
Got off the red-eye flight, trekked across the city to our partner school and did work most of the day. Somehow, I managed to not drink any coffee, but I'm pretty sure that only made me crankier (sorry to everyone who had to share a room with me). Then, one of my friends called and asked if I wanted to go see "Carmen" at the opera. Three and a half hours long, but totally worth it. I feel like the music is so well known that it's nice to have some background (plot, etc) to put with it. Plus that Carmen girl just lives her life the way she wants to. Live free or die...
Going back to the nonprofit theme: a list of things I've bought online recently (some for work, some not. You can guess which):
*Plane tickets to San Francisco
*Bus tickets to DC
Kind of enjoying Saturday morning for now. Maybe I should actually make an effort to be around for Saturday mornings. Passed out at 10pm after eating Ecuadorian food (!) and drinking Inca Kola with two friends. As a result, woke up at about 6am (which I owe to commuting an hour twice a week to arrive at our school site at 7:30 and for trying to do work at home early in the morning). Though I think I told myself I was going to work from bed, I managed to haul myself up to the roof. Kind of nice in the early morning, especially in the fall.
In other news, there was a minor uprising in Ecuador. I left Facebook open at work on Thursday when one friend messaged me to ask if I'd heard about the craziness in Ecuador. I assumed she was referring to the volunteer conference in Quito craziness.
Apparently the president tried to cut benefits to the police and military (the jury is out on how much these folks currently make and where it falls along the spectrum of reasonable), leading to strikes and general chaos when the police decided not to maintain order. The news
makes it out to be a big deal
, but it's hard to tell.
My sources on the ground tell me they were locked in their office for safety (the organization they work for tends to be protective like that), but they were able to order discounted pizza. You know, for the riots. Another source went biking and saw some people half-heartedly burning tires (which is about standard for strikes in Ecuador), but nothing akin to riots. My two host families (not in the capital) said nothing much was happening. Actually, my neighbor's exact words were "¿Y ese milagro?" ("And this miracle?", which is what you say when someone hasn't been keeping up their end of the phone call bargain). Some things never change. At any rate (despite the president possibly having being barricaded in a hospital, possible gunfire, and several conspiracy theories), everything seems to be back to normal.
Going back to bed now (which is also why I like Saturdays), though really, I should start knocking that work out. I guess that's what Sunday's for.
Waiting in the office for my two crazy friends to get down from Manhattan ("the island" as another friend likes to call it) so we can go out to dinner. Caught up copies and some basic finance (still more to do, but...) and I am ready to go eat. Did I mention these friends (from Peace Corps) are taking a cab? Do I even know these people?
If and when we finish dinner, I'm also in the process of packing for this weekend. Some stuff has actually been planned out (and one of my friends has been nicknamed the MASTER OF LOGISTICS). And more than 24 hours in advance! Very nice! Though one of my co-RAs from college says that "Packing is for chumps". He's probably right...
Saw a panel on "The Future of Education"
last night (disclosure: my boss co-facilitated). Great content, great speakers - some disagreement among panelists but in a very productive manner. I think I've said it before, but I would watch Dave Levin (of KIPP
speak on just about anything. Hilarious. Oh, I mean...They think technology will play a large role in education's future, but that you really can't beat the intelligence or close contact of a teacher. Good news for all, I think...
And how 'bout that Stronger Nation report
So, I'm trying to take five minutes out of every day to jot some thoughts down in this here livejournal, more as an exercise in speed-writing and writing on the fly (which, uh, may or may not be the same thing). Obviously I have failed up until now (possibly because I am stranded on a bus with wireless). But here goes.
Apparently, I endured my first tornado. In Brooklyn. You know, no big deal. It started pouring out of nowhere on Thursday (which is not entirely unusual for New York weather) and then was really windy. Like unusually windy, for about 15 minutes. Then it just rained for a while and then it stopped. I almost took the subway home, but instead waited it out and biked home (mostly dry). No big deal. Mass transit was a mess for the rest of the night. No big deal. I went to the laundromat. I went to the supermarket (BTW, supermarkets at 10pm in the projects? Totally empty). No big deal.
Maybe I'm just cynical about New York weather. Maybe I just like biking home.
(I do acknowledge, in all seriousness, that there has been much storm damage and at least one person died :( I guess my point is that experiencing a tornado (albeit in my office) was not as shocking as I thought it would have been.