A Mississippienne in Yankeeland
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Yesterday I went with my new team, Fire 3, to tour the Maryland School for the Blind, where we will do a project at a later date. It's really an incredible institution, complete with library, dorms, kitchens, theuraputic pool, everything. We play goball and shared our "awe moments", which were moments of service that stayed with us forever.

Alyssa told us about the time when she was a firefighter last year, and she and her team carried a sick firefighter down a mountain, like true Americans. Another girl talked about how she helped mentor foster kids (my brother is foster, so I get all teary-eyed whenever foster kids come up) and I told about the time I went to volunteer as a bone marrow donor. I was in a cancer ward, the most depressing place on earth, and this lady came walking up to me and started crying as she told me all about how her daughter-in-law survived bone cancer thanks to a donor.

Was sick as a dog yesterday and today, have probably slept 20 hours in all. Accompanied Heather to get her tire fixed, we had good talk about why so many people are unhappy. My theory is that society's emphasis on friendship has been abandoned in favor of romance, thusly degrading the role friends play in our lives, which can be so vital. If you read old literature, like Beowulf or The Epic of Gilgamesh, you see the paramount position friends had in people's lives and that breaking down saddens me. Folks don't appreciate their friends the way they ought to.

Just my random thoughts. Carry on.

Thursday, January 29, 2004
We got assigned to our teams today via candy. No lie. We each got little mini candy bars, which we discovered corresponded to a team leader. My 3 Musketeers got me Alyssa, the team leader I was really hoping to get!

Have been hanging at the Pimp House; the guys taught me poker and I won the first game! At least they play rap there, my roomies all wanted to listen to Matchbox 20. Ugh. Everyone here is from "Minnesoota" and "Sooth Dukoota" and thinks my accent is "soo coot".

Elise is doing a photo project, so I helped her take pictures. We got photos of the Chesapeake bay, her friend Jeff, and the Klum Klubhouse's sorry-looking snowman. Will have to convince roomies to build snowman, we already had a snowball fight that was hella fun. Mari made tortillas today for dinner, yum. All the Doritos are gone. Cannot cope.

These are my roommates:

Mari: from California, she's adopted and mostly lesbian. Very cool, with a terribly dirty mind and tells lots of great naughty stories.
Jenessa: from Minnesota, she's rather quiet. The responsible one.
Heather: from South Dakota, she was recently in a car accident that was caused by her driving topless. Interesting.
Elise: from Minnesota, she's Fijian and very extroverted.
Carrie: from Colorado, she's my roomate. Vegetarian and the oldest one in our group.
Jessica #1: from California, she's another quiet one. Long black hair.
Jessica #2: from Illinois, she's the new kid. Really nice.

There's three Jessicas in our house, counting myself, so we've fallen into the habit of calling each other by our state names. "Mississippi!" will get me, Jessica #1 answers to "California", and Jessica #2 is getting used to being "Illinois". Met Chad Jeremy of Blog fame while waiting for the bus!

Had an AWESOME time last night. The local bar was having an 18-and-over night, so me and my entire house (except Carrie who went to play [and break] with the foozball machine next door) went out. I took along my friend Andrea and we met up with another friend named Jennifer. Jennifer wanted to sing karaoke, so we hit the dance floor only to get caught up in the music. We danced for what had to be 2 hours, but only my roomie Heather would freak with me. Had to drag a couple of guys onto the dance floor, but did get down with one of the dudes from the Pimp House and a police officer. Go me!

The best part of it all was that not a single drop of the liquid known as alcohol got down my throat, so not only was I sober, I remember everything, too! I'm 19 and Americorps has very strict alcohol policies, but unlike a lot of people, I really don't mind the rules. I never liked beer or wine anyway. Drinking to me seems like going from Point A (inbibing nasty substance) to Point C (puking and passing out) without any Point B inbetween (fun).

Mari and I were having the funniest conversation today about underwear. There's Good Underwear, the stuff your mother buys you. Then there's Getting Sex Underwear, the stuff you save for someone special -- lace and silk and such. Then there's the I'm Not Getting Any Sex Underwear, the really ragged stuff you put on when you think, hey, I'm not getting any, let me wear these raggy panties. Side note: Mari agrees with me that this is the most virginal bunch of guys EVER. She says it's because most of them are uber-Christian, so they're waiting for marriage. "We'll be all, Oh c'mon, I'll marry you, I promise before it's over with," she said.

My roomie Elise is considering getting a blog. Will talk later.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
I have been enjoying Americorps and MD so far. I took off from Jackson listening to House of Pain's "Jump Around" ("if you come to battle bring a shotgun") and landed in Baltimore to the sweet sounds of "Top 'O the Morning to Ya" ("I don't have dreds cause I shave my head daily").

When the plane dipped out of the clouds and I saw the snow-covered houses and cars, I felt this marvelous little thrill. This is my new home. Perry Point is like it's own little community, populated by very young and very cool people from every walk of life. I got my styling new threads yesterday, including khaki 'man-getting pants', so-called because they are better than the 'chastity shorts' which are so hideous that no man would have me in them.

I lived in a two-story 1940s house with 7 other girls. Some of the houses have names -- ours, according to tradition, is the "Sorority House". Our male neighbors down the street have the "Pimp House", the "Maverick House", and the "Klum Klubhouse" (so named for the giant picture of Heidi Klum they hung over their fireplace). We had orientation today where we reviewed the rules, including fraternization (don't sleep with your supervisor), uniforms (no hoop earings) and alcohol (biggest no-no).

Met Richard Lamanna (he of the blog) briefly, and saw Chad (he of the livejournal) today at orientation, but no sign of Shannon. Wonder where she is? Shannon, if you're out there, give me a shout-out, girl.

Speaking of shout-outs, I'd like to welcome my good friend Leslie, who put up with me and my long rambling esoteric discussions (like why man-thong is evil) in college. Say hi, Leslie!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Cold weather quite shocking, but am slowly getting used to it. I live in a gorgeous little house with 7 other girls, all very cool. So many cute Americorps boys, cannot cope. Want to take them all home with me.

Auntie and Uncle in Huntsville, Alabama, have called house but answering machine not working so I could give them a message. Should call my mom. Miss my friends. Everyone thinks my accent is cute, go me!

More later.

Monday, January 26, 2004
I am on the ground in Maryland. I repeat, I AM ON THE GROUND IN MARYLAND.

After an exhausting two hour flight, I arrived in Baltimore and was delivered into the warm and loving arms of the Americorps team. After hauling my baggage around till my arms hurt and and feeling a curious numb sensation in my toes, I met my new roommate and went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I am much too shell-shocked to adequately express my feelings at this time. I must recharge. Will blog more later. Promise.

Friday, January 23, 2004
A BIG shout-out to my girl, Judy! For those of you not in the know (pretty much everyone) Judy was the unfortunate victim lucky lady who was my last handler employer. Yes, once upon a time, I worked in a library. This is not nearly so scary once you realize I worked before that in an elementary school!

Alas, I have left my natural habitat, but good memories remain. Judy was in most of them, and I assure you, she's a certified Cool Chick. Don't worry, Judy, I've only said good stuff about you, I swear!

Ah, the library. I do miss you so. Me and the other student workers, we had this running gag. You see, this one guy, John, once said to his friend, "Don't we always have adventures, Sam?" which prompted my buddy Cara to comment that they were just like Frodo and Samwise from LOTR. So John became Frodo because he was short, Sam was Sam because who else could he be? and Cara was Legolas because she was kinda elf-y. I was Sauron. Because I'm the ultimate evil, natch.

Seriously geeky, I know. Boy, did we have good times.

I was talking to my aunt today about my impending departure for Americorps. I mentioned my ex, Chris, when I said, "You know, he thought I couldn't do it."

She frowned. My aunt used to adore Chris, back before she learned he was a pilled-up skinhead. "What do you mean?"

"He told me, Since this Americorps thing isn't going to happen, what are you going to do?" I replied. "He never thought I could get in."

"Hmmph! What has he ever started that he's finished?"

"A joint. Maybe," I said. "He may have started a joint and finished it, but that'd be about all. I just want to call him up and say, Guess what? I'm leaving in 3 days! From now on, don't ever tell me what I can and cannot do. Only I know what I'm capable of."

Thursday, January 22, 2004
My grandfather was quite a man. I have many stories about him, but one of my favorites is of how he bit a man's ear off during a barroom brawl.

It was a fight over a woman, of course. My grandfather got the other guy into a headlock, and pulled out his knife, but the guy caught his hand and stopped him from using it. Unable to stab him, granddaddy started beating him on the top of the head with the knife handle, then got his mouth around the guy's ear -- and that was all she wrote.

Years later, during World War II, my grandfather was injured in the Philippines. He went to a movie showing for wounded soldiers when he sat down behind a man who was also missing an ear. Curious, granddaddy leaned over and asked what happened.

"Some sonova bitch bit my ear off back in Mississippi," the guy said, "and if I ever find him I'll kill him with my bare hands."

Granddaddy kept his cool. "I don't blame you one bit, friend," he replied. "If someone done me thataway, I'd kill him, too." Then he got up and very quietly snuck out of the theater.

He'd be 100 years old next year if he were still alive.

Update: Another Americorps blog! This one belongs to Richard, whom I'm sure can do a better job introducing himself than I ever could. Greetings, Richard!

Another big hello to Shannon, another of my Americorps teammates from California. Good to hear from you, Shannon, and I look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
A friend of mine, Corrine, is a Canadian living in Maryland, and she tells me MD is full of rednecks. As I come from Mississippi, spiritual home of all rednecks, I'm sure I'll feel at home. Speaking of which...

My friend Katheryn was once telling me and our friend Matt about the man who came to fix her porch, whom she described as "the most ghetto redneck ever."

"He had a mullet and everything, and told me all about his cat," she said.

"That's nice," I replied.

"His cat's name was Mister Shit," she said.

"Oooooh," Matt and I said in unison.

Gawd. He named his cat Mister Shit. That's priceless. I'll be laughing about that when I'm eighty and everyone thinks I've gone daft. Anyway, I said, "That's odd. Your average redneck is more likely to shoot cats than name them. Perhaps he's a metrosexual redneck."

"Yeah!" Matt agreed. "He wanted to get in touch with his feminine side, so he said to himself, I'm gonna get me a cat, an' name 'em Mister Shit!"

Update: One of my Americorps teammates has a Livejournal. His name is Chad Jeremy and he's from San Diego, California. Greetings, Chad, if you're reading this.

As for my feelings on my upcoming departure: I have a talent for flying into a great calm. Americorps has been a dream of mine for so long that I expect to wake and find it all a dream still. I can't imagine it as reality until I'm actually there, on the ground in Baltimore, and perhaps not then.

I love Shakespeare. He's probably the single greatest author who ever lived. One of my ex-boyfriends once confessed to me that he never cared for Shakespeare, and I should've known the relationship was doomed right there. "His plays are too depressing," he said. "Everyone dies at the end."

"In life," I said, "everyone dies at the end."

There's this great moment in King Lear, when Lear finds his daughter Cordelia dead. He cries: "And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life! Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all?"

I didn't understand this line until 2002. It was my second week of college, and I had come home for the weekend. I got to my house on Friday, and he died that night. Saturday morning, I came walking downstairs, and knew immediately something was wrong. It was in the air, I could smell it. My aunt gathered me in her lap and held me tight. "There's something I need to tell you," she said in a hushed whisper.

A sick feeling of dread creeped down my spine. "Someone has died," I said. She pressed our cheeks together and nodded. "Is it my mother?"

She shook her head.

"Is it my brother?"

Again, she shook her head. "Your daddy died last night," she said, and hugged me tighter. I laid there limp, trapped in my cage of flesh. Afterwards, I went upstairs, locked myself in my room, and didn't come out for hours. Finally, I understood Lear's words.

I understood the anger one can feel over the death of someone who means everything to you. The way every living thing from then on is almost offensive to the sight. How you can be enraged by those who have life and do not value it, when the one you loved is cold and lifeless.

I think there are some things you have to live to understand, and this is one of them. Shakespeare understood it, and it took me years to understand it, too. It was there in black and white, printed on a page, and I knew not it's meaning until that day.

Monday, January 19, 2004
Hmm. I feel somehow I need to post more about myself, but that is difficult -- it's like asking the mirror to describe the face it's reflecting.

Here goes... I'm such a textbook INTP it's not even funny. Like most INTPs, I live within my own head for the most part. They know me there. The real world is a charming diversion but a bit overwhelming for this introvert.

I'm attracted to complex systems -- computers, human interaction, music, languages. Especially languages. Another INTP trait is preciseness with language. I hate misspellings, inaccurate definitions, etc. It vexes me. I play word games in my head, and if you ever see me smiling to myself, it's because I'm telling myself a joke no-one else would understand.

I'm a stone-cold atheist. Not even vaguely "spiritual", which is what most people claim to be when they say they're not religious. Both spirituality and religion are thought systems quite alien to me. For the Deep South, being an atheist is an anomaly, and I'm lucky to have been born into a religiously diverse family. Between the agnostics, the Mormons, the Jews, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the one guy who talks to God, I didn't seem so freaky.

In the end, I find it difficult to avoid drawing up a laundry list of things to describe myself. I'm 19-years-old. I'm female. I'm an atheist. I'm from Mississippi. All of these things are true, and yet they say too much and too little. I lack the poetry to make myself come alive on the written page. Perhaps I shall have to devise a poetry all my own.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
Note: I have added the ability for visitors to comment on my posts. Just click the link marked 'Comment' below the posts and type. This allows for more interaction between me and my visitors.

Have been getting lots of emails from other Americorps participants, from all over the country. Washington State, Tennessee, Texas, California -- the list goes on.

Finally got our box of pencils in the mail for the Helping Iraqi Schools project. It's a grassroots program run by soldiers in Iraq to provide school supplies for children.

Eight days and counting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Whoo! Had a very good day today. Rode into Jackson with BJ and got lots done. Came home to find my Americorps plane tickets had arrived! Yay! Baltimore, here I come.

Thanks to Mr. Bixler, for saving my bacon that time that my files didn't come in. I (heart) Mr. Bixler. I owe you a lot for that. Yeah.

Cool link of the day: Dress For Success

Thursday, January 01, 2004
First post of 2004. Happy New Year! Bonne année!

This has been a real rollercoaster of a year. Lots of great things, lots of sad. The last few years since 2001 have been overall really exciting ones for me -- I've done more than I ever dreamed and dared more than I ever thought I could. I'm growing and changing.

To all my friends and family who may be viewing this blog: I love you all dearly. Sometimes I don't know how to say it... but I do.

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