Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rachel K. Puzzled

It's the week before Halloween and while I've been cordially invited to three events during this weekend's trick-or-treatery, I've begun to feel that I am too many puzzle jammed together... resulting in something similar to this:
Not to be dramatic or anything.

The thing about starting my life over SO MANY TIMES is that everytime I do it, I have trouble with certain aspects of life... mainly social aspects. In school or on the JET Programme it was pretty easy to meet people like me, or at least like me enough to hang out with them a few times a week. In Los Angeles, however, I had a lot of trouble meeting people. Most of my social times were at work (since I worked 70 hour weeks more often than not), and home time was a time for complete solitude and a lot of computer game playing. I knew that I should go out and "meet new people", but I was never sure how exactly to go about doing that, other than trying unsuccessfully to meet boys on OKCupid.

Suddenly, in March, I found out that I would more or less be going to Japan in 4 months, and my concerns about making a life for myself in LA dissipated as I began to plan for my NEW life in Japan.

So 3 years later and I feel back in the same predicament -- I don't really know anybody except for my roommate and my couple of friends in Fremont who I see maybe once a week. Most of my social time, as is tradition, is met at work and when I go home I spend time watching Jeopardy, knitting, painting my room, or finding excuses not to blog. I'm completely at home and content to do these things, but I know that as a 24 year old single white female, I SHOULD be doing some of the following things:
  • Participating in youth culture.
  • Dating
  • Making friends
I'm having trouble with these, as I always do. I'm not much of a party-girl (never have been), and I feel a lot of social anxiety when I am in a group situtation without a lot of people I know. This brings me to my current dilemma -- the three parties in question that I have been invited to.

I've been invited to a pre-Halloween party at my co-worker's house in Lake City (far away, and preceding a very early morning Stårbucks shift), a Halloween party at Megan's boyfriend's house (Tarot themed -- not into the idea of it, plus the whole 3rd wheel thing), and some Halloween fun with my turned-out-to-be-platonic friend Daron and his friends. The main problem presenting itself to me is that I only know one person per event, and for fear of being awkward or clingy, the easy solution is to not attend any of the three events.

This will no doubt find me at home during the weekend, knitting, watching Jeopardy and painting my room.

Now, to further explain the Guernica Puzzle. The poorly matched puzzle that is Rachel K. Moves-all-the-damn-time seems always to be in a state of anxiety. Currently, I am feeling a lot of pressure to apply to the school of education at the University of Washington -- something that is prestigious and a decision that could indeed reshape my life. My family and friends are totally behind me and my decision to "possibly think about maybe going there at some point, I guess". So every once in awhile I pick up a GRE study book... or go online and fill out easy things on my online profile (name, address, ... GPA). Nothing further though -- every time I look at the personal statement page or the part where I have to write a "scholarly writing sample", I feel the monkeys of procrastination having a dance party in my stomach... and I feel the ghosts of Christmas past yelling words of discouragement at me "You're not SMART ENOUGH, you're a terrible standardized test taker! No school will ever accept you and you don't even really know what you're DOING."

In my heart of hearts, I know I just need to do the work and think about the fear of not being good enough after I get in, or don't get in. It's just a lot at once, and I am not the type of person to be 100% sure of any decision I make. I don't know if the indecision came from moving every 2-3 years, or if that was just a lifestyle that provided a solution for the innate indecisiveness in my personality. In either case, I'm running out of escape routes and it's time to make some big time, grown-up, career-altering decisions at some point.

It just all seems so odd to be worrying about graduate school when I don't even have a group of friends, a fully painted or set-up room, or permanent residence status in the state of Washington. Though, I suppose there's no one way to fit together a puzzle, and once it's finished, the paths we take become obsolete because of the big picture. So I'm hoping to accomplish something big, even though I am pretty sure I'm going about it in every wrong way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rachel K. Flammable

I went to work at the Kümon Tutoring Center in Phinney Ridge on Monday only to see that my favourite pre-children coffee shop was no longer in business on the street. As a matter of fact, the surrounding Pho and Schezuan restaurants surrounding it were also gone -- all of this due to a three alarm fire that occurred over the weekend.

News Release/Statement
Re: Green Bean Coffee House burns down
For immediate release
We announce with great sadness that this morning, Friday October 23, 2009 a fire consumed the Eleanor Roosevelt Building on 85th Street in the Greenwood Neighborhood of Seattle. The fire destroyed four businesses, including The Green Bean Coffee House. Taproot Theatre was also damaged to a lesser degree.
We are grateful that no one was hurt in the fire. The damage is extensive and it appears that the Green Bean is a total loss.
The Green Bean is a non-profit organization owned and operated by Sanctuary Church. Sanctuary meets in the Greenwood area at Taproot Theatre on Sunday mornings at 10am. Much of the church’s equipment appears to have also been lost in the fire.
Dr. Randy Rowland, CEO of the Green Bean Coffee House and pastor of Sanctuary Church, responded to this morning’s catastrophe: “A church and a community development organization are about people, not about buildings. The people are unharmed and we remain resolute in our vision and mission in Greenwood.” Asked how they would function without the building, Rowland said, “We are here to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. None of that will change. We will carry on beginning today.”
Sanctuary Church will meet on Sunday mornings at 10am at The Upper Crust banquet facility located on the Southeast corner of 85th and Greenwood. Donations to rebuilding the Green Bean may be made to Sanctuary Green Bean Fund. In addition, a fund is being established at the Chase Bank Greenwood Branch to benefit the businesses affected by the fire.
- Taken from The Green Bean Coffee House Blog

The fire also came close to the local cat shelter, which was hastily evacuated. I'm thankful that all the cats were rounded up to safety -- as we know it's not an easy task to herd cats.

I've been thinking about the coffee shop (The Green Bean) a lot this week. I work at a coffee shop... and if mine burned down I'd be bummed since I'd be out of a job for awhile, but it's just a chain and there are a million other cafes JUST like it only blocks away. It wouldn't be a tragedy at all, just a nuisance. The poor Green Bean was the only Green Bean, and now it's gone! It just doesn't seem fair. Though, as my friend Ian (still in Japan) pointed out, it's better for an establishment to go out in flames than to go out of business. It's just so blasé in a time like this.

RIP Green Bean!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rachel K. Terrible at Blogging

So, it's been, what... a month since I've last written anything? Well, that's OK. The beauty of blogging is that I can pick it up whenever I feel like it (at least that is what I have decided.)
So, what's been going on? Well, I've managed to NOT blog about the following things, thus losing any ability to describe the important steps of my life in great detail.
  • Moving out of my aunt and uncles' house and into the condo by the waterfront.
  • Starting work at Stårbucks IN the Stårbucks HQ
  • Working at the Kumön tutoring center (these umlauts are to protect the innocent).
  • Adjustment and acclamation in general.
I should also mention that I drove from Virginia to Seattle with my sister... it was epic.

Currently my blogging has been brought to a standstill due to the fact that culture shock™ has thrown me into an on-and-off crippling depression. I go between thinking, "I can do anything. I just need to toughen up and do the work." and "WHAT'S THE POINT?! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IN THE 2012 APOCALYPSE AND NOBODY WANTS TO DATE ME AND I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO DO IMPORTANT JOBS THAT REQUIRE ME TO WEAR A SUIT BECAUSE THERE'S A STAIN IN MY SUIT AND I DON'T WANT TO BIKE A SUIT TO THE DRY-CLEANERS BECAUSE IT IS TOO GHETTO."

So, things are finally settling down and I'm feeling better about my insecure, single, apocalypse-bound reality.

While Stårbucks is not my dream job, I have met a lot of really fantastic people working there. People who aren't former JET Programme JETs, which is a bit refreshing as I am feeling a love-hate relationship with those islands at the moment. [Japan killed my soul, but man oh man do I miss きゅうしょく]. So, anyway -- it could be worse. The real poor choice in this situation is that I volunteered myself for the opening shift beginning at 4:45am, which also means that I have to get on my crummy bicycle (rain or shine) at 4:20 and bike down 2 miles of quasi-sketchy waterfront road. Not a gold star decision, but I'm working on changing it.

Other than that I find myself tutoring awesome children twice a week at a tutoring center in Phinney Ridge. I get to help them with math and do a lot of paperwork while wearing jeans and a t-shirt... it may or may not be my current dream job. I love paperwork so very very much.

I've also been falling more and more in love with the Pike Place market... which is FORTUNATE considering the only date I've been on since moving here turned out horrifically [internet dating -- it's like a website that sets up bad dates for you -- for FREE.]

So that's where I've landed. More blogging later about the crippling insecurities that come along with applying for graduate schools and how the weather changes are going to affect my alabaster complexion (hint: über alabaster).

Rachel K. Caprese

Megan's friend, Cheryl had a belated birthday party for herself. Whereas a party for myself would involve cake, wine and board games, Cheryl decided she wanted to cook for about twelve people. The results were first-rate. I'll let most of the photos speak for themselves, but Cheryl managed to cook Brussel sprouts with bacon, a roast, garlic mashed potatoes, a caprese, basil and tomato plate, and various side dishes involving cheese and general swankiness.

The ambiance was calm and affable -- I got to spend more time with Megan's friends from the Jet Program alumni association, to which they all belong and for which they all organize events. While I am still not sold on the idea of joining an alumni association (it goes against my James Dean "I aint a part of no organization, man" persona), it's always nice to hang out on someone's couch while eating cheese.

After a few hours, the conversation turned into Japan-talk, which I'm still not quite ready for. My experience in Japan will never be the crazy city-life, dancing-til-3am-with-my-teachers, fun-fest that it was for a few others. I do my best not to feel bitter or unapproachable about the subject, but I'm still not ready to have a conversation about my feelings on Japan or my two years spent there in general isolation. I also still have no idea who any Japanese pop singers or actors are, which made it a little difficult to follow along with most of the conversations going on.

This was all solved when the home-made pumpkin cheesecake was brought out and my insecurities were drowned in baked goodness.

Now that all my coworkers are female and all of Megan's friends are female... it's about time to start making some male friends. I'll put that in my wishlist to Santa this year.