A Mississippienne in Yankeeland
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Had a rather long and boring day. The weather was beautiful, though, and me and Rose went out and played "photosynthesis" (aka sunbathing). When we got home me and Jaque walked up to the store to buy a present for her roomate's birthday (a glass fish named Lloyd) and then me, Jaque, Rose and our friend Josh had a wild tickle-fest complete with wrasslin, squealing, and flailing limbs. Such an excellent time.

Jaque has suggested me and her go on a trip to New Orleans this summer. Yay! Cajun boys, yum....

Friday, February 27, 2004
Today me and Alyssa filed tax returns until my eyes bled. Then we visited this high school, and some kids threw rocks at us. My friend Jeff has offered to teach me how to throw them back, and I'm considering giving them the Finger of Enlightened Love next time.

Alyssa, me, and Rose had an interesting conversation about dreams, personal growth, and religion. I personally think that if I'm wrong about the whole atheism thing, than I'll go to Purgatory like Leslie thinks and just work off my sins as a ghost. Then again, my buddy Varuni believes in reincarnation, and if she's right, then I'll just drop lower on the totem pole of life until I build up some more karma. I figure if I come back as a slug, it won't be too bad. At least then I'd get to have kinky slug sex.

Visited Adam's house and had a pillow fight with Jeff. Muchly fun. Now that I had an emotional high, I'm going through an emotional crash. The problem with me is that I still feel alienated from the people around me. It's the same thing I faced back in Mississippi -- I'm alone in a crowd. My roomies, like Jenessa or Elise or Mari, can blend in anywhere, make immediate friends, make people like them, and I can't. Everyone loves Jenessa and Mari. Everyone puts up with me. I wish I could find that magic way of putting people at ease, of becoming their friend without difficulty, of lighting up a room when I walk in. I wish... I wish....

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Today me, Chris and Alyssa manned a booth at the Energy Assistance Expo, forced fliers on lots of people who didn't want them, gawked at attractive members of the opposite sex, ate fried chicken, and sang along to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (actually, I sang, Chris lip-synched). We were there supporting Baltimore's CASH Campaign, which hooks low-income families up with free tax preparation.

Chris ate my banana, a bagel, a ham sandwich, cookies, potato chips, fried chicken, potato salad, and several gallons of Coke, and still wanted to stop at Mickey D's for dinner. The mind boggles.

Also, last night my team and I had a potluck, which I very much enjoyed. We also did a discussion for a question I proposed: instead of why you joined Americorps, what did you do when you found out you were coming to Perry Point? The answers:

Me: I was walking home from the mailbox, found the Americorps letter, and immediately ripped it open. I was too chicken to read it all in one go, lest it say Sorry, loser, you're not coming, so I covered the first word with my hand and slowly revealed it. Sure enough, it said "Congratulations!" and I yelled for joy.

Chris: He was home alone when he got his acceptance letter, and he danced with his dog to celebrate.

Sasha: She had actually forgotten all about applying for Americorps when she received her letter, and debated coming at all. We're glad she did!

Travis: His parents walked in, handed him the letter, and said, "Hey, you're in Americorps."

Jaque: She started running up and down the halls of her house, whooping with delight, and her father thought she'd gone crazy.

Marcos: He wasn't very excited about receiving his letter and questioned whether he wanted to accept.

Rose: She was coming home from an SCA event and was hauling her sword and shield from her car in her full-length ballgown. She opened the letter, screamed for joy, flung the sword in the air (almost hitting her car) and began leaping about wildly.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Yesterday me, Jaque, Rose, Sasha and Marcos went to Operation Give's warehouse again to help finish cleaning it out and loading the last donations. Check out Chief Wiggles' blog for more news on Operation Give's future activities.

Me and California hung out last night, talked, and worked on crossword puzzles. Our house is clearing out -- Elise and Illinois have already left on their SPIKEs, and Janessa, Heather, and Mari will be leaving soon. That'll leave me, California, and Carrie in the house by ourselves for the next 2 months. Ho boy...

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Went last night to the Vous with Elise, Carrie, Illinois, and California -- danced my ASS OFF! Much better music than last time, stuff you could actually groove to, as opposed to line dancing. And mad props to my boy Richard, who treated me to a deliciously raunchy good time. I bow down before his mad sk1llz!

It's so funny to watch the guys hug the walls during the dancing. My teamie Sasha and I were talking about it -- most of the guys are too chickenshit to get out there and do their thing. They don't know what they're missing. There's about 25 scantily-clad females who would be only too happy to perform whatever insanely naughty acts on the dance floor, so long as it's set to music, and the few dudes who did get out there were absolutely mobbed.

Oh, btw, a memory from our trip to Baltimore -- Rose pointed out a sign for soap that she claimed was the worst advertisement she'd ever seen. "It was probably designed by someone's nephew," I told her. "Like the head of the company said, Here ya go, Billy, you're a real ad-exec now! and then they stuck it in some corner where it could do the least damage. The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and nepotism."

Tonight, while we were sitting in the theater practicing for our induction ceremony tomorrow, my teamie Sasha started freaking out because her chair seemed to be vibrating! She then stood up and realized it was her phone. "Hmm," I said, waggling my brows, "are you sure it was your phone..."

"Oh yeah!" she said, laughing. "No, I keep my toys in my pocket, just for those loooong van rides!"

We had a talent show tonight as well, during which Dana performed the "Legal Midget", an act so incredible words fail to do it justice, and three dudes got up and did a rousing rendition of Stomp using brooms and pots. Awesome! The Americorps folks are all so talented.

Later, me and my team went on a Health and Wellness run to Walmart. As we drove over the bridge, I looked down and saw the town sparkling below me, its lights reflecting off the Bay. I turned to my teamleader, Alyssa, and said, "You know what? This is the time of my life."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Today my team rode into Baltimore to train with the good folks at Baltimore CASH in tax preparation. In just a few hours I've gone from my previous knowledge (nonexistent) of taxes to my current state, barely coherent. We'll be working in Balwmer for the next 8 weeks, assisting low income families in claiming the money rightfully due them from Earned Income Tax Credit. We'll also be doing community outreach, talking to locals about the campaign and what it can do for them.

I got a call today from the nice lady from the American Indian Inter-Tribal Cultural Organization. Talking to her was such a joy, she was so positive and interested in coordinating possible volunteer opportunities with Americorps. I've had such negative experiences in the past with certain NGOs (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) that I found speaking with the AIITCO representative to be utterly refreshing.

Last night, my entire house and a few hangers-on got together and played a rousing game of Cranium. My team won, of course! I spelled "twelfth" backwards and remembered the meaning of "polyandrous" ("poly", from Greek meaning "many", and "androus", from Greek meaning "men", hence, "many men"...) Go me!

Rose and I chatted on the ride back about Life After Americorps and college. When I finished high school, I was so clueless. I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know anything about college or the work force or, well, anything. Now the world seems much bigger and I feel as though I have many more choices. Life is waiting for me!

Monday, February 16, 2004
My team (the team formerly known as Fire 3) got our project last week. We're staying local (unlike Elise's team, which is going to Alabama, or Mari's team, which is going to Pocomoc) and we'll be working in Baltimore with Bon Secours doing tax preparation and community outreach.

Last night me, my friend Andrea, and her friends Mary from Vermont and Malinda walked into Perryville to have dinner at Lindy's, this cute little diner that's very good and very cheap. Had such good time, am glowing.

Am still kinda pissy over something some girl said to me the other day. I asked about Freedom Corps, the organization formed by President Bush, and some smart-ass jumped in and said, "Let's not talk about politics." I replied that I had no interest in politics, I just wanted to know what Freedom Corps' purpose was. I almost said, Shut your fucking pie-hole, I'll talk about any damn thing I please, be it politics, religion, sexuality, or tulips, but I'm too polite to say that to someone's face, unless she pisses me off again. Everyone's so damn sensitive and touchy-feely, they don't want to offend each other, and avoid any subject that might possibly cause offense. But staying silent about issues only gives them more weight; they should be freely discussed, and often.

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Ruminating on Valentine's Day...

First, a confession. There is a certain person on the Americorps campus who I have been butt-crazy over since like the second day we got here. I'm sure he barely knows I exist. When he's around I get so flustered that I can barely look him in the face and I can barely speak his name. I'm such a pathetic idiot that I can't just walk up to him and tell him how I feel.

This is the thing about being butt-crazy for someone -- we want who we want, no matter if we know they're bad for us, already attached, violent, etc. The human heart listens to no logic. That's why I hate to tell my friends the name of the one I adore -- they will have their own opinions about him, which will matter to me not in the least. Because he is the one that I want and no one else's opinion can have any sway over my heart.

On a lighter note: Here's the delightful lyrics to "Urges", a song by Kendra Dunn and Lida Merino. It's about the Americorps policy of no fraternizing between the "green" and the "gray" -- green being team leaders, and gray being Corps members. Enjoy.

Green and gray
They say "No way"

But have you seen Scott?
He's super hot

You should talk to Brendan
It's a piece of heaven

I think about you at night
These feelings I can't fight

When Adam sings, I melt like buttah
I'm really glad they passed out those rubbahs

Ben will have to fight me off with a stick
What I wouldn't give to be Kari's chapstick

Hi Kim, wink wink
Jason's a stud-muffin, don't you think?

Stephanie -- I'd hit it
And I'd be going home with a plane ticket

Emily's sweetest
She has no penis

But J.P. does

Alyssa Alyssa, I sure wanna kiss ya

Nate's so great, it must be fate

There's two girls named Katie
Mmmmm, Katie

And I think of Jeremiah

Hot mama Kelley
She sure isn't smelly

Mike's what I like

Monica, Shmonica, Bubonica, Sexuanica

Oh dirty Tasha
Jump in the tub and I'll wash ya

Mel is swell
But if I get with him I'll go to hell

I don't care what I hear from Gwen and Dave
I just gotta be your love slave

Da Bix sets the limits
But I'm still gonna pimp it

So all you AmeriWhores gather round
Cause green and gray are gonna get down!

Just got back from an ISP at the Harford Food Bank in Aberdeen, MD. We sorted and stacked food and helped the customers locate what they wanted. It's astonishing how satisfying service is -- while assisting Operation Give last weekend, the first hour was complete drudgery until we started to see the results and how our work was positively affecting the warehouse. When we saw how much we had accomplished, the entire team kinda floated through the rest of the day.

My teamie Katie has left our team and flown back to Missouri.

Some of the Midwesterners can't get over the ethnic diversity of this area. According to Rose, in Colorado you might see a black person once a week, possibly. Coming from Mississippi, which is about 40% black, I didn't quite share in the sense of awe felt by those hailing from states where everyone was as pasty-white as themselves, but MD is definitely a very diverse place. It's rather amusing to see them gawk at every Asian or black person they see, as though not quite believing their eyes.

Btw, people find the damnest stuff astonishing. I'll never forget how on January 26, the day I arrived, we were being transported to the Americorps campus. There was about 15 people in the van and I was marveling at the snow falling softly from the sky. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, someone cried out, "Oh my God, it's a WAFFLE HOUSE!" as though a Waffle House was the most amazing thing she'd ever seen. I thought, The hell? A Waffle House is a strange thing to get that excited over but then, I come from a state where you can literally find one on every street corner.

Friday, February 13, 2004
Tuesday was Open Mike Night at the Pimp House, and Mari played harmonica. Go Mari! Was very impressive, everyone clapped for her. On Wednesday went to bar and grooved with Jennifer, Elise, and Richard (Hi, Richard!). Despite our best efforts, the Vous just did not get swinging. Very disappointed.

Today me, Alyssa, Marcos, Sasha, and Rose drove into Baltimore to hang with 5th graders for the "Braille is Beautiful" program. Best part was when we were standing in the hallway waiting for class to begin, and we saw a kid bribe a hall-monitor with Doritos. Ten years old and already bribing the fuzz! Had good talk with little girl named Kara, we became good friends. Braille very cool.

Afterwards went to National Federation of the Blind headquarters and got to view their totally cool toys and equipment that makes life easier for blind people. We got to play with this neat little gadget that vibrates whenever you walk towards a wall. To top it off, we then stopped at pizza place called Ercole's and had delicious pizza. Yum.

My team had such a good time, me and Rose talked for hours about writing, tenses, viewpoints, anthropomorphizing, etc. Was excellent time.

UPDATE: It's 11:00 and I just got back from the most bangin' party at the Cat Job! The Cat Job, just so you know, is another Americorps house and the life of the party was none other than everyone's favorite Richard! Some unbelievably raunchy dancing went down, complete with homoerotic hijinks and nudity. May upload pictures later. All in all, a night well spent.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Last night, me, Elise, and my friend Jennifer walked down to the Vous for Elise's team leader's birthday party. We talked about love, sex, and boys (not neccesarily in that order). Both gals are engaged and hope to see their fiance's over the holidays; I clipped a home pregnancy test coupon just in case it's needed. Anyway, on the walk home we sang patriotic songs, as they were the only ones we knew all the words to, including "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless the USA".

My teamie Chris desperately wants to see a mullet while we're here. As we drive down the road, he yells, "Look, look! A mullet!" at every man with even moderately long hair. I tell him, "No, Chris, that's just big hair. When you see a mullet, your eyes will open and the truth will be revealed to you. Be patient."

Quote of the day: "Your death will be my triumph." -- Rose to me.

Website of the day: Worst Car of the Millenium -- you know the best, now know the rest!

Monday, February 09, 2004
Had a lovely potluck yesterday. Me, Elise, and about fifteen people invaded the Shit Box (as its proud owners call it) and we ate, laughed, took pictures, and watched X2.

Sunday is always a tough day for Americorps folks, since all the food's run out and you're reduced to eating radish-and-ketchup sandwiches. We pooled our resources and ate pasta salad, mac & cheese, grilled chicken, cucumber, and delicious chocolate cookies. Yummies.

My roomies don't trust me to shop. I said I'd love to go today, and they spent the entire time trying to convince someone, anyone else, to go instead. Carrie couldn't go because she had to change her tire, Heather was sick, Illinois was pissed about something and didn't want to go, Jenessa had a team meeting she had to attend, California didn't care to go, and Elise was MIA. That left me and Mari.

I talked to Mari about it and she said it's because I don't do a lot of cooking on my own, and the others think someone who does cook should shop. That makes sense, I guess. It's just that I enjoy shopping, and how the hell else am I supposed to learn? I'm not going to be perfect at everything the first time.

Anyway, Mari and I did a great job getting groceries (if I may say so myself) and though she did get gripey with me a couple of times, she apologized and it was no big deal really. Hell, I get annoyed with myself from time to time. I did tell her never to say anything cruel to me not in jest. "If any of the others, California or Carrie or whoever, are unkind to me, I won't care," I told her. "But I like you too much, and it would devastate me."

She said, "I can respect that," and gave me a hug. Really though, if she or Heather were ever angry with me, I'd be devastated. If Elise or Illinois were ever to get P.O.'ed with me, I wouldn't care so much; but Mari and Heather I like and respect, and their opinions can cut me to the bone.

Today, my team leader Alyssa said we were definitely the best team in Americorps. "Everyone else is going to be jealous that their team isn't as good," she said. Go us!

Btw, check out my teammate Rose's Livejournal. Wonderfully bizarre and totally her.

Saturday, February 07, 2004
Just got back from our ISP at the Operation Give warehouse. We arrived bright and early at 9:45, a little early, but hey, prompt service is what you get from Americorps! Our site sponsor, Matt Evans, was very nice and so gracious, though he had to hobble about on crutches due to an injured knee.

I and four others (Heidi, Katie, Jacque, and Elsa) sorted and stacked and loaded donated items to be transported to Iraq. There were clothes, toys, sewing materials, bedding, you name it, they had it. Most of it was nice stuff, but some people sent just the darndest crap -- like a talking toy horse that only spoke English! I'm sure some perplexed Iraqi kid will be puzzling over the meaning of its words, "Giddyup, cowboy!". Someone else sent the ugliest doll imaginable; we put it in the trash pile, but imagine the reaction of the Iraqi kid who would've gotten it! I would like to acknowledge the generosity of Americans, especially the ones who sent me this object of unspeakable horror.

I got a totally neato "Operation Give" T-shirt and 8 ISP hours. Life is good.

Btw, check out Lisa's Livejournal, she's also here in Perry Point serving in Americorps!

Friday, February 06, 2004
Ah, Sunday. How I love thee. Anyway, yesterday was pretty uneventful, though I did file my first tax return -- a doozy too, a married-filing-jointly with about nine W2s and 1099s between them, not to mention unemployment and injured spouse claims. Whew.

If all goes well, my team will be going on an ISP to Bellevue at Delaware State Park tomorrow morning! Bellevue used to be owned by the Dupont family, it's supposed to be magnificent.

Went and played frisbee today with Sasha, Travis, Chris, Carrie, Dorian, Andrea, and Mary. Go me!

Today me, Josh, Marcos, Rose, Jaque and Nick went to do an ISP at Goodwill of Belair. Actually, only me, Josh and Nick worked, the rest went shopping for a couple of hours. I bought a great pair of black courderoy jeans for $3.15, brand-new, still with tags on them. Go me!

In the Perry Point village, there is a gamehouse set up for Americorps members complete with a TV, DVD player, stereo, VCR, a pool table, and a foozball machine. Except that someone boosted our DVD and VCR on Saturday.

"That's just great," I told Aaron, one of the dudes from the Pimp House, "an Americorps volunteer stole their own free stuff. Perfect. What's next, we'll start stealing from Habitat for Humanity?"

"Yeah," he said, "I can see it now: some Americorps dude yelling at a woman on a Habitat site, Get off my property, bitch! I built this house, you just stood there with your kids!"

"And we're supposed to be the Future of America," I said. "The last, best hope for peace. America's best and brightest! And we steal from our own organization."

Have so much diversity training, will not be surprised if I turn rainbow colors. We had an STD workshop today, where we learned all about the wonderful world of syphilis, AIDS, and chlamydia. Americorps is astonishingly frank about the sexual habits of its members -- we're a bunch of good-looking healthy young people in our late teens and early twenties, there will be some lovin' goin' on at this campus before it's over with. Everyone received little goodie bags full of condoms (mine were strawberry and banana flavored), lube, and dental dams that looked suspiciously like Fruit Roll-ups.

Heather has suggested we put a little condom bowl in the living room, so that anyone that needs one can grab one. Hey, an ounce of prevention....

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I and four others are going to Columbia, MD to help out at the Operation Give warehouse.

My friend Jennifer wants to go partying at the Vous Saturday night, but I have only five bucks on hand. I guess I could run by an ATM, but we don't get paid for about another week. Eeeeh....

California and I had an interesting conversation last night -- she was fixing some orange juice and offered me a glass. "I'm allergic," I said, shaking my head.

"But we only have orange juice," she said. "I don't get why we have to be so sensitive to the vegetarians and the lactose-intolerant people in the house, and we'll compromise with them, but you have to go without. We should all be a priority."

"Yeah," I said, "that's right. We're all priorities."

Monday, February 02, 2004
Attended Open-Mike Night at the Pimp House yesterday. Some folks read poetry, others sang songs, one told a funny story about his grandma and her encounter with the Hell's Angels. Mari suggested we do a spoken-word performance, using a rap song. We are considering it for next Open-Mike Night.

Btw, there's another house that has been dubbed the Shit House. That makes Sorority House (mine), Pimp House, Maverick House, Klum Klubhouse, and now the Shit House. Teenagers, ya gotta love 'em.

For PT tonight we went to a yoga class. Good times, good times. My teamie Rose asked me for a story idea and we debated for a couple of hours. I wanted her to write a story about a disembodied head that still lives thanks to a voodoo curse, but she didn't care for the idea. She much more liked my second idea about a guy who crawls into a trapdoor in his house to discover it's a gateway to other trapdoors all over the world.

I'm the ISP (Independent Service Project) coordinator for Fire 3! Go me! Have been talking with Operation Give about a project this Saturday. Will keep y'all posted.

Met Shannon today over at the Pimp House. Go me!

And now for something completely different... Things I Hate.

I hate it when people give for the wrong reasons. You should give from the heart, not from the head. Don't give so that someone will be beholden to you; you should give freely or not at all.

I hate it when someone accuses you of something you're innocent of. This is a messy situation because no matter what you do, you can never convince your accuser of your innocence, but you won't confess because you're not guilty. They say, "If you just admit it, I won't be angry," but you won't admit your guilt because it doesn't exist. From then on they will never trust you, though you've done nothing to deserve their suspicion.

Just got back from Red Cross First Aid/CPR certification. We practiced on mannequins; mine was named George. Jackie's was Bob, Marcos' was 911, and Katie's was Skip.

Btw, just to clarify, none of the extracurricular activities -- including the trip to Philadelphia, the bar, etc. -- were paid for by Americorps. We have not even been paid yet at all, except for groceries. Americorps is not spending tax money so teenagers can party; those funds are coming from our own pockets. That's all. Just so you know.

Last night we rode into Philly FULL FORCE -- three cars, five people apiece. We stopped at this outdoors restaurant called King of Steaks that's apparently some sort of landmark and me and Heather split a streak sandwich. Then we found a bar and watched the Super Bowl for a while. We were all bored (there was no dancing or anything) so we went on a fruitless search for another, more happening bar that would allow under-21-year-olds. Our mission failed, and we drove home in defeat. We dropped by the Vous just in time to catch the end of the Super Bowl (NE won).

Today we had more training from the good people at Americorps and watched Remember the Titans. My roomie Elise wants to go to the Vous; she has some scheme, I can tell. More later...

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