Friday, August 29, 2008
Anyway, the second orientation was for my job with the Writing Center, which I'll do about eight hours a week, unless I cut Wednesday nights, which I might end up doing. We talked about going out after class, to a bar or something for a drink, and I won't be able to do that if I need to run to work from 6-8 or however long it was. So, I'm still going to think about it. We'll see. This orientation was good and new for me, since I've never worked at a writing center. I'm looking forward to working with students one-on-one--I enjoy doing that.
After orientation we headed "downtown" which is like two-three blocks away from the building where I'll have most of my classes (and consists of a small block-long strip of restaurants and pubs) and had a drink and just got to know each other better. We stayed for a while actually, but it was really nice. I'm not much of a drinker (never have been) and told one of the girls that I'd probably end up an alckie by the end of the program. I know, I know... I don't have to drink when I go out, but... :). I'll be driving most of the time anyway so I don't think it'll be much of a problem.
I had an interview yesterday for the online writing program and I really hope that I get a few hours with them. It sounds like good fun (and a lot of work, so we'll see). I also received a call to see if I was interested in working a few hours at the library (turned them down) and an email about a full-time editing position at this placed called Measured Progress. I don't know what I'm going to do about that yet though. I don't think I want a full-time (ie: real) job. I like having lots of little things all over the place. It would be nice not to work at all, but then I'd probably go crazy. So... yeah, not sure what to do about that. All I know is that I'm ready for school to start. I'm ready... ready, ready, ready.
Nostalgic moment: I popped in one of my old Yanni CDs a second ago. Wow... memories.
I need to go to bed now. I get up in 4 hours to fly to D.C. to see my sister! :) Exciting. So... no posts for a few days, but loads of updates after I go to D.C. and see the best exhibit ever at the Smithsonian Institution! I know... I know... childhood will never escape me.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Anyway, my second day at B&N went well. I sorta like working from 7am to 2:30pm and then having the rest of the afternoon to sit around and do nothing. There weren't too many exciting things that happened yesterday. I'm catching on really quick and I think people can see that. One of the head cashiers (maybe, I'm not sure), a guy who I didn't work with on Friday, said he was surprised that they put me up front to work with only one day of training. "That's not usual," he said. I didn't really know what to say to that, so I mentioned that maybe it was because I sold three memberships, which I guess is a pretty amazing thing too? I don't know, he and another head cashier said that they don't see that kind of turn around often. It's usually one card an hour (or per 20 people); I sold three card in only 19 transactions. I renewed a few cards yesterday, but I don't know if that counts as "selling" a card. Probably not.
Other tidbits from yesterday:
- I shelved books in the morning, which isn't much different from my shelving experience at the Evans Library. Still not a highly interesting job, but it's easy and I get to check out books while I'm at it.
- I also worked customer service toward the end of my shift and managed to successfully help a few people (in front of the manager too, so score two points for me). I think I've shown that I'm a fast learner. I just need to learn the layout of the store a little better.
- Most of the co-workers I've met are nice and friendly. There are a few that I'm uncertain about. They walk around all day with frowns glued onto their faces and are expected to interact with customers? One guy sorta warmed up after a minute or so of talking to him, but another woman, a cashier, was either having a really bad day or was just irritated that I--the super seller that I am--was poaching her territory at register (especially since I'm new). It's not like we sell these cards on commission, we don't, so I don't know what her deal was. Whatever... I'm not guaranteed to get along with the whole world, but it would be nice. I am a keeper of peace--unless you F with one of my siblings.
- Question: Trying to help people while you're in training is a good thing right? Shows me being proactive and all that jazz? I hope so. I don't want to step on toes or seem over confident.
Oh... heard my second reference to "Dirty Dover" at work yesterday. So, I guess it does have a bit of a reputation with locals. The guy told me which street he was referring to, but I can't remember, and said that I was in a good part of town. I am almost positive that he wanted to call the bad part of town the ghetto, but stopped. Maybe he was just trying to be P.C., which is perfectly fine. Anyway, I still like my job and sorta wish I had more hours there. Not that I could live off of it comfortably or anything. It's fun though. I'm meeting a lot of new and interesting people, which is the point of this cross-country venture of mine. That and learnin' to do what I do better than I currently do it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Maybe the people today just liked my friendly nature and couldn't say no. Perhaps I am magical.
Thoughts, tidbits, and observations of the day:
- It's nice sitting around at the morning staff meeting talking about what we're reading and how we're liking it. For the first time I didn't feel like I'd be looked down on for something I'm reading. I probably looked smart saying Chekhov, but that is what I'm reading at the moment.
- People are very laid back at this store, which will make for a good work environment. For the exception of one lady who completely freaked out when she saw that I hadn't written down a driver's license on the check I took from a customer. I mean FREAKED out. There was a whole line of people and she went on and on and on about how I was supposed to write down the address and ID number (doing so in an outside voice too). She even had the other new girl, who was working with me, chase down the lady in the parking lot to have her come back. Is it really that serious? Really? [Educate me retail goddesses and gods!] Well, it's a mistake I won't repeat, that's for sure. But she did act as if it were the end of the world. Not so much.
- I probably won't have a specific place to work (ie: children's) like I thought, but I'll be all over the floor. Nice.
- No irate customers today.
- A man fell out of his motorized wheel chair in front of the store. The same lady who made a scene about my lack of getting an ID for the check said that the guy pretty much got what he was asking for. Apparently the man nearly ran her over earlier and then gave her a "look" that said "get out of my way!" I don't think anyone deserves to fall out of their wheelchair in front of a busy store, in a high traffic area, and be forced to lay there (probably being stared at) until people capable of returning him to said chair could arrive, no matter how bitchy they may be, but whatever. Personalities abound.
I hope to become very book savvy working at this job. I want to be a pro at it, which is sort of sad in a way. Sad because I spent the past year unmotivated in my old job and the last seven hours full of desire and eagerness to learn. I had an excitement to return to work after my break--something that never happened before. Hell, I was ready to get out of the office after arriving at 8am before. And this is a job that pays not even HALF of what I was making before. It just reaffirms the saying "money isn't everything." Now, I could be singing a VERY different tune once I'm out of school owing Sallie Mae like $90K [possibly] in loans. Yes, then I might be sobbing a desperate lament for money. Hopefully I'll be published and raking in some kind of sustainable income from that.
I probably need to abandon this insane, perhaps unrealistic idea that I can blow money now because I'll be famous later. It's not the ONLY reason I shop, but honestly, I do sometimes operate under this (possible) misconception. I need my Texas financial advisor to come live with me up here in The Shire. I think she wouldn't mind much. I also need my ice-cream, Bravo Wednesday buddy to come too. That would make this place "da bomb".
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
My fingers (not pictured) are very happy.
I'm falling back into "should" thinking. I should be this, I should be that, I should read this, I should read that. I want to throw up my hands and say "screw this", but I can't because that would be taking the easy road. This new chapter of my life is going to be about taking the hard road and I must preserver. And while my current plan is to reconnect with old classics that I read but didn't read in high school, a part of me wonders if I'm in a way selling out to the type of writing that really makes me happy just to save face or to be the proper MFA student. I feel like you should be at a certain level (in both reading and writing) when you apply and are accepted to an MFA program and currently I am below average. I don't like being below average. It's likely that I'm putting too much pressure on myself, because that's how I roll, but still, it's overwhelming.
So, to feel better about things, I went shopping and bought some shoes (black flats for work) and a book by Paulo Coelho called The Devil and Miss Prym. The summary looks pretty interesting. Maybe I'll read this tonight and attempt to feel like I'm reading something of substance. That or I'll crack open Francine Prose's book Reading Like a Writer or another book that I bought before moving called How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas Foster. Maybe a little studying before classes start might help me feel less paranoid and will help me fake it 'til I make it.
I thought maybe this funky, overwhelming feeling was due to today's horoscopes, but nope. One (my Chinese Rooster horoscope) talked about my new B&N job: Financial good news does bring some challenges, like changes to schedules [for example, I can no longer stay up until 2am watching Olympics and sleep until 10:30 or 11 am] and additional workloads that have to be juggled [work - sleep - work -sleep]. If you accept some additional responsibilities and a leadership role, you could find yourself bringing home a lot more bacon [hmmm promoted to assistant manager after day one perhaps? It could happen.]. And my astronomical Virgo horoscope just talked about jumping on rare opportunities when offered. The Virgo horoscope ended with a sentence that I do hope to be truly prophetic: "You are an investment that can turn a handsome profit as you mature."
God willing. But does mature mean 27 years old (as I will be in a month exactly) or 67 years old?
Monday, August 18, 2008
fa-nat-ic. (fə-nāt'ĭk) n. A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause. adj. Fanatical. [Latin fānāticus, inspired by orgiastic rites, pertaining to a temple, from fānum, temple; see dhēs- in Indo-European roots.]
I think any place that you go to in the world will have a fanatic fan base for something. In Texas it's sports, booze, and church. In Nebraska it's steaks and Cornhuskers. In New Hampshire it's... well, I'm still trying to figure it out. Possibly seafood. Why do I think this? Well today, while heading back to the electronics section of Wal-Mart, a woman (early twenties, maybe) stepped in front of me. What was tattooed between her shoulder blades? I'll tell you: A lobster.
No joke. A big black lobster, probably three inches wide and four inches long.
That is one big lobster tat.
I think yes.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
(Top Left): North Hampton Beach. This was my favorite beach, mostly because of the rocks. There were only a handful of people there too, which was nice. Unlike Hampton Beach, which somehow sucks the dead fish, seaweed smell from the air, N. Hampton Beach smelled like the sea. (Top Right): Some sort of blue netting, washed up onto the sand. There was something so tranquil and comforting about the beaches here in New Hampshire. I don't know why, but they're very nice.
(Top Left and Right): Both of these pictures are random shots from 1-hour parking pull offs on the road. I bet on a really clear day these would just pop. It might seem dreary and depressing, but it wasn't, not to me. I don't know, maybe I'm still high from moving to a much different place. I feel like a broken record, but this place is really pretty awesome!
(Left:) Hampton Beach, a tourist destination in New Hampshire. This is the first beach that I've been to with actual life guard towers. The water was cool 67-degrees. The air held this thick fog-like mist. I need to go when the sky is cloudless (although it was inland). (Right:) A memorial to soldiers from New Hampshire who have died at sea; also located at Hampton Beach.
Next stop: Lake Winnipesaukee
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
How FictionPress explains it:
Hit: the number of times a browser/visitor has accessed a story/chapter. Visitor: the number of unique hits, hits from unique IP addresses (Internet users), over a 24 hour period. For example, a reader named Jane accessing/reading 5 chapters of a story equals to 5 hits and 1 visitor. If Jane refreshes a chapter page 100 times, the system will record 100 hits, but only 1 visitor. If Jane came back the next day, more than 24 hours later, and perform the same task, the system would record 1 additional visitor. In summary, the visitor stat is the most important and accurate measure of reader traffic. Hits can be duplicates from the same reader.
It's a pretty cool feature actually because they also break it down by country.
Here's my country list: USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore (the majority of the visitors came from these first five countries), India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Germany, Iceland, Hong Kong, Finland, Ireland, Jamaica, China, Czech Revar, Chile, Slovenia, Pakistan, Estonia, Netherlands, Mexico, UAE, Brazil, Romania, Dominica, France, Yemen, Belgium, Norway, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Guam, Turkey, Portugal, Argentina, Taiwan, Italy, Thailand, Spain, and Sweden, Israel, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
I'm not really sure how it all works, I know that many countries listed (especially toward the end of the list) only contributed 1-2 hits or one visitors. But still, that's pretty cool that someone in Guam happened to find my story, at least one time. Doesn't mean they read it though. None of these particular stats mean people actually read, although many probably did. Some may skim and see a bunch of trash and decide not to read, who knows. The feature breaks down chapter stats too, so according to this each of my 21 chapters averaged about 200 visitors in August (in 12 days).
Seems a little incredible, but the story was up for a Some Kind of Wonderful Award (the story did win too, btw), so maybe that's where this influx came from. It's a contemporary romance, I suppose, or shall maybe I should call it "women's fiction". I don't know how to place it. It's fluff... nothing serious, something for you to -- hopefully -- be entertained. For my program I'll be writing in a more literary style, but I plan to try to publish both styles. Anyway, read if you like, but be warned... it's a first draft and full of errors of all sorts.
Competition aside, the story itself is on the favorite lists of 454 FictionPress readers/writers. That's a lot of people.
I wonder if I could use any of this information in query letters to agents? Maybe I should work on editing this story because it's a rough draft now and needs lots of work.
Please share your opinion.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
So I was cruising up Central Avenue and saw flashing lights from a Dover squad car parked in the intersection just before the train tracks. There was a cop diverting traffic and yellow police tape stretched out across all four lanes -- a pretty serious sight. I took a left and found a place to park across from the movie theatre. This worked well because the lot was centrally located to the places I wanted to explore and I've been wanting to check out ticket prices. $6 matinee. Still pricey compared to College Station's lovely $3.50 afternoon show, but whatever, I'm a movie goer so I'll likely pay while I can.
The first thing I noticed after climbing out of my car was the yellow strip of police tape running just in front of the headlights. Now, you could probably think a variety of things when encountering police tape at least 250 feet from the actual cops. You might think that you should get back into your car and park somewhere else. Not me.
What did I think?
Simple... dead pedestrian in the street.
What else was I supposed to think? Maybe I've seen too many CSI and Law and Order episodes. Or maybe it was because Dover has this intense pedestrian rule where they have the right-of-way at all times, but I really did figure that someone had been hit by a car and lay dead in the middle of Central. I even craned my neck looking for a white sheet along the asphalt, but there wasn't one. Now normally, I might have joined the other onlookers, but I didn't want to seem crude or annoying, so I walked on trying my best to eavesdrop on those who were standing around talking about what was going on. I didn't overhear much, so I continued down the street, looking at shops, taking photographs like a tourist, receiving a boisterous "Welcome to Dover" when I admitted that I was new to town when a couple asked me where the Chop Shop was, and all the while fighting this grand desire to be a looky-loo, nosey neighbor and return to the edge of the tape to see what I could see.
I explored for a while, took some random shots of downtown and then finally made my way back up to the Cafe on the Corner, where I decided to have lunch after hearing about their decent sandwiches, which were excellent. The cafe is also about a block from the police tape. The moment I walked in, all of my questions to the hubbub were answered when a brown-haired lady on her cellphone said:
"Yeah, there was a bomb threat in downtown Dover."
And a legitimate one I think. There was a youngish cop getting coffee, very "chill" (New England term; Texans don't say this) about the whole thing -- perhaps too chill -- as were several people standing within a block of the detonation site (or sitting a block from the detonation site as I was.) And it (later called a "suspicious device") was detonated by the way... I'm almost positive that I heard a loud boom, but was down by the roaring falls of the Cochecho River so maybe not. I figured, if people aren't running from the area in absolute terror, I shouldn't worry about it. My sister, who I called with a slightly inappropriate level of excitement, said one word to me: "Abort." Haha, she wanted me to run -- whatever, I'm adventurous now! I stayed put, ate my turkey melt sandwich, read the paper, and casually glanced out the cafe windows.
The event did make the local paper: Downtown Reopens After Suspicious Device "Neutralized". So... this "chill" event seemed pretty exciting to me overall, and just reaffirms the fact that you really aren't safe anywhere.
Photos: (Top): The bomb squad truck? Not sure, but this is the intersection that was blocked off. (Middle Two): This is the Cocheco Falls Millwork, the Cochecho River (I'm starting to wonder if one of those signs downtown might have been misspelled) runs under Central Avenue and pours beneath the mill with a powerful display of force. It's pretty beautiful, but smells kinda off. (Bottom Two): A building downtown and the Spinelli-Strand Theatre.
In other news:
- I finally made it to Portsmouth, NH, with another friend that I met and stayed with when in Dover back in March. That city is definitely worth exploring a little more. Now, did I see cobblestones? Ummm no. Maybe I wasn't in the cobblestone-y part of town? It was pretty quaint though and I'll definitely go back for some more in-depth exploration.
- Received my first box of DVDs today sometime. There was a HUGE split in the box. I'm talking huge, I could see the contents very clearly. Luckily all DVDs were accounted for. I don't have a place for them at the moment, so I'm not really sure what I want to do in that regard.
- My last Texas electricity bill came in the mail today with a grand total of $138. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that again.
- Bernie Mac died today from pneumonia; he was 50. I liked some of his movies so this is a pretty sad day. Fifty is too young to pass. He was good for a laugh most of the time. It's always sad when someone who brings joy moves on.
Friday, August 8, 2008
I'm sure that all states have similar campaigns for students -- join, join, join if you can. Even if you're voting for the other guy, sign up for his campaign. I think it's about our involvement and knowing what's being said that is the most important, especially for the younger crowd. You may hate politics, that's fine, but have an open mind and open ears. Listen to the ideas and the thoughts being presented and form opinions. It's important!
Here's the link to New Hampshire's application, I'm sure you can find your state off this page.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
After dropping her off, I drove back through Dover and stopped at the public library. I haven't been inside a public library in several years. I went to Texas A&M's library all the time, but there's something different about academic libraries. One thing remains the same though... the delicious smell of aged paper. The library is in an old building downtown, the floors creak when you walk, all of the book stacks are metal, and there are narrow staircases that lead down to a restricted area and up to a teen corner. There are plenty of study tables and big windows perfect for watching the rain/snow (perfect for daydreaming). The library seems like a perfect little nook; a place where maybe I could be inspired to actually sit down and write something. I might try that later this week or weekend. I still need to explore Dover, but I'd like to try and crank out something creative this week.
In other news, one of my eight boxes of books/DVDs arrived today. I'm sure they'll slowly start trickling in. I hope so anyway.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Today I had lunch with a girl I met here in March. I drove into Durham, to the University of New Hampshire campus. That was quite interesting, was a little lost, parked momentarily in the bike lane, and felt like I was a beacon for people to stare at. I really do feel like I stick out here. I suppose my Texas license plates don't help, nor do the Texas A&M shirts. I bought two New England t-shirts when I was at Wal-Mart yesterday. They help a little. Anyway, this new friend took me to this little place in Newmarket, NH, The Riverworks Restaurant & Tavern. We ate in the Tavern portion I suppose. It was a nice place, with deep-red brick walls, a quirky (but cute) waiter/bartender, and decent food. I had a ham melt (with Swiss cheese) on a whole wheat ciabatta bun with fries. Pretty good. Slow service, but the atmosphere definitely made up for it. I really liked the old feel of the place. I like the old feel of New Hampshire in general. I have so much exploring to do.
Next stop: Downtown Dover and the Seacoast beaches.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I initially planned to give you an hour-by-hour, play-by-play account of my trip, but I failed. I did try, however:
Thursday, July 31
9:30am - Leave College Station
11:00am - Arrive in Houston to drop Dad's car off at my little sisters
12:30pm - Still in Houston (brother drama). We probably didn't actually leave until closer to 1pm.
This is as far as I got on the play-by-play of the trip. Let's just say I grew annoyed pretty fast when my dad spent over two hours dealing with my little brother's problems. I'm the type of person who approaches long road trips with one objective: get from point A to point B, very quickly. Our plan to drive 15 hours a day and get to Dover in two days was completely ruined by this unnecessary attention (trust me, it was very unnecessary). To top it off, Dad wanted to stop around 10pm that night. I was still wide awake and could have driven more, but he wanted to relax before bed. Relaxing before bed does not fall into my long-trip objective, but I went along with it.
I did jot down a few things during that first night:
- Dad keeps commenting on my driving, likening it to tailgating, which is not the case. He likes to start off his "lecture" with "You know... I probably wouldn't be following this close...." which then goes on and on and on and on about good driving skills and sudden stops.
- First meal: McDonalds. I ordered a mighty kids cheeseburger meal. Dad comments on my choice: "Why didn't you get the grilled chicken?" Me: "Because I wanted a burger." Dad: "Chicken is better for you." Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. No crap chicken is better, but I wanted a burger! I hardly ever eat burgers and always get grilled chicken. He wouldn't know this, but I was still aggravated by his "lecture" in healthy eating. Food police are generally pretty aggravating.
- Dad's worried about Tri and how he's not drinking. He mentions pulling over at Walgreen's to get a plastic syringe to "force feed" Tri. I told him that wasn't necessary. I know my cat... he was fine. I wasn't going to force feed him water and stress him out even more.
- Dad tells me that another little brother of mine stole and pawned my Xbox. Needless to say... this was upsetting and only increased my irritation, which sadly never dissipated for the rest of the trip.
- At our last hotel stop, somewhere south of Scranton, PA, Tri broke free and made a run for it (or a scoot, it's hard to run on three legs, but he manages very well). I opened the carrier door for him so that he could pee, drink and eat at night, and the moment I did, Dad jerks the tarp off the roof of the car, which frightens my cat. Tri bolted out of the door and to make matters worse, Dad started chasing him, which causes Tri to run even faster (on all three legs) -- he's running toward traffic, btw -- I'm positive that I'll never find him in the dark and that some car will run over him. Luckily, I found Tri hiding under a truck and managed to grab him. This was the most stressful part of my drive.
- I suppose Dad's pretty proud that I'm following my dreams, although he sometimes struggles to express that. I had to learn from my oldest brother. All dad ever says to me is "I hope it works out for you"... I hope so too.
Needless to say, 2.5 days in a car hearing lectures -- regardless of their good intention, and my dad always means well -- left me pretty cranky. But getting here to NH made it all worth it! The place I'm staying in is beautiful, the people are great, and the location is so fantastic. It's been sorta warm, in the high seventies, which I'm not complaining about. Normally I wouldn't mind, but my upstairs room doesn't really have central air, so it's sorta stuffy. My fans are working well though. I may need to go get a big heavy duty fan to keep me cool at night. The family I'm staying with is fantastic; they've really made me feel at home here. The husband (who is 54) even said that I should think of them as extended family and offered to teach me how to drive in the snow (score!). It's nice that they're so friendly and generous with their time. It's slightly awkward still, mostly because I'm not sure what's expected. I don't want them to think that they need to provide anything but this room for me, but it really is like living with my parents in a way. Not the same of course, but similar. They have a little 2-year-old, adopted from Guatemala; she's precious.
Photos: (Top): a shot of the the area where I live. You take an exit just off the little bend in the road (heading toward the right of the picture). The bridge you see connects Dover to Newington, where I'll probably do most of my shopping. At the base of the bridge there is Hilton State Park, which is pretty beautiful. The water is the Piscataqua River. (Middle): My new home! Look at the trees! (Middle Bottom): A picture of Hilton State Park and the Piscataqua River. (Bottom): Old Sullivan Bridge, the old bridge that connects Dover to Newington. You can now walk across it. Click on the image to make it bigger (especially the bridge, it's pretty!)
I'm learning my way around town, which will take a few days. I'm hoping to land a job by the end of the month as well. Anyway, it's definitely going to be an interesting adventure.