Monday, March 15, 2010

Rachel K Meals on Wheels

I woke up at a decent hour this morning and proceeded to shower and then [gasp] study for the GRE!

Not only that, but I managed to REGISTER for the GRE, which was an easy process, but will be a grueling commute. Why can't they have a test center that is bus accessible? The closest bus stop to the center is still about a mile away so I'll have to walk after taking two buses, or rent a car from Zipcar. I'll figure it out; I'm sure it'll be the least of my worries that day, anyhow.

General financial panic is setting in as my Japan money still hasn't arrived and I'm not sure if the checking account correction I made and sent back to Tokyo ever made it. I trust in Japanese bureaucracy almost entirely, but when it comes to the postal service, I'm never sure. I just need those thousands of dollars so I can do things like buy real bed-side tables, get a coffee table, and go to the dentist. I still have enough in my savings account to last me more than the next few months of unemployment, but I want my Japanese pension refund already! I want it! Gimme!

Now begins the ides of March! Today after studying for a solid three hours (aided with TV in the background, coffee, tea, lunch, a snuggie-cape that I made complete with belt, and colour coded notes), I'm off to Kumon for tutoring! Then I will scurry off to meet Kevin at Chipotle for our weekly tradition; burrito Monday. It makes Mondays bearable and delicious.

The weekend was relaxing and exhausting. Kevin and I visited my old Starbucks to pick up my last batch of tips and to say hi to the weekend girls (Hilary, Ashley, Ally etc) who I miss now that I don't work there. Kevin said it was cute to see me with all the tittering girliness of the store -- and I was happy to have him see that I had friends outside of Megan and Sarah. Friends who I miss! We spoke to Hilary about joining us for rock climbing on Sunday and went off to the Mobile Food Festival near Safeco Field.

The food festival should have been cooler, probably. There were too many people, the lines were too long and there wasn't enough seating or shelter. The temperatures ranged between a chilly, sunny day and a blustery cold one. Kevin and I trouped through three lines total; pizza, hamburgers and finally hot dogs (after meeting up with Sarah and Ian from Fremont). The food was good, but in the end it was just too cold and crowded.
Kevin and I later played board games at his friend Greg's house and then we went home early for rock climbing with Hilary on Sunday! We sprinted for the bus to Ballard, which we then had to wait for, and met Hilary at Stone Gardens around noon.

We climbed and climbed! Kevin had gone climbing the previous day, but went again with me because he is a trouper and loves climbing fake rocks. Hilary turned out to be a BEAST. She did most of the bouldering routines with ease and grace and went to work out in the gym after Kevin and I were ready for naps and death. I wore myself out, but I feel like I'm making a little progress considering the dearth of times I have tried it. I'm able to do routines more quickly, although I still can't finish a lot of them. I need more upper arm strength and then I will be able to do things more easily, I think. In any case it's nice to have an 'athletic activity' that I do once in awhile. How unlike me!

After grabbing food at Zak's burger place on NW Market Street, we grabbed a bus downtown and tried to catch another bus to a game store in upper Queen Anne so Kevin could find this game called 'agricola' that he wanted. I was looking for 'Mexican Train' anyway, so I decided to join him. We sprinted for another bus, catching it narrowly and with awesomeness, and went to the game store. The store was really decked out in all sorts of games, but they did not have the ones we were looking for. A bit disappointed, we returned to my condo to nap until hunger struck again.

Kevin had the idea to take us out for pasta at The Old Spaghetti Factory, where we got to sit in the fake trolley table area and dine on delicious spaghetti and something called a 'strawberry citrus fizz', which was mostly high fructose corn syrup in pretty colors.

I came home on Sunday night to hang out with Megan and we watched the newest episode of America's Next Top Model. I'm not sure if that show is getting stupider or I'm just getting older, but it's probably some combination. O Tyra, why are you so crazy?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rachel K. Family Envy

I went to bed last night and watched Chuck in order to ignore my crippling feelings of inadequacy that I seem to get every time one of my cousins gets a full ride scholarship to a graduate school... and by "every time" I mean twice now.

Seriously though, how awesome is that!? My cousins are like Brilliantosaurus Rex! One of them, Olivia [pictured left], is studying and working for her PhD (I think) at NYU. She gets to study things in petri dishes, which she seems to thoroughly enjoy. The most recent news from the East coast family is that my other cousin, Dave [pictured left], is going to be studying and working for his masters at a school in Louisiana. They're both so focused on the things they want to study and they're both REALLY good at those things! It's no wonder the schools they've found want to pay them to be there and to help them expand their knowledge of the great wide world. Underneath my happy familial pride and joy, I'm envious as all hell! Man! Where does one find a program that pays YOU to go learn and earn a masters??? Maybe those only exist for obscure studies like the weirdo things Olivia and Dave are into (biochem and ... chasing alligators outdoors on motorcycles?)

I guess the fact of that matter is my cousins and my sister are all super brilliant at the things they do. My other cousins are all doing their own things in their own places and they're doing them WELL. Kristin [pictured below, top left], in Baltimore, is also attending a masters program and I believe she isn't paying full tuition either. I'll have to talk to her more about what she's been up to in order to give you more gossip. My culinary cousin Alan [below, bottom left] went to a two year culinary program in North Carolina and now he's working as an asst. chef in Virginia. Lastly, my sister [below, bottom right], who I am forever proud of, is working as an intern for Nickelodeon in Los Angeles. I'm so happy that she was able to break into an industry I only half-heartedly tried to get into myself in 2006 and 2006. She worked hard, applied to lots of internships, and now she's livin' the junior dream! My youngest cousin, Mo, is only twelve years old, but he amazes me already. He's athletic, kind and bright. There doesn't seem to be any challenge this kid can't defeat, and I know he'll do wonderful things now and in the future.

I just want to live up to the extraordinary expectations my family members are setting. I can't help like feeling like I don't tend to set or reach long term goals because I'm so used to inconsistency in my life. The whole never living anywhere for longer than four years, changing environments drastically, new friend groups,  new hobbies, new likes, new dislikes, and new jobs as different from one another as they come. How do I know I can achieve my goal of getting into a masters program and following through long enough to become a teacher when I was convinced I wanted to be an animator or a film director when I was 18? Or when I was trying to break into the casting industry in 2006? Or when I decided I was going to live in Japan and open a coffee shop in 2008? If there's always the expectation of an expiration date on whatever I'm doing and wherever I'm living, how can I make myself think long-term thoughts? How does anyone else do that anyway?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rachel K. Acclamating

I feel like I'm already going crazy from all this free time. What am I doing?! Why did I quit my job? I mean, I know I quit my job because it was super lame and stressful, but ... BLAGAGGHH!

I'm not doing all the things I told myself I would be doing! I keep freaking out about all the to-do-for-LIFE lists I've made for myself and running off to do random things like read blogs or watch old episodes of House. Shouldn't I be studying 9 hours a day? Or writing cover letters for assistant teaching positions?

I had a good Kumon day tutoring the children, but I am not bold enough to go up to the substitute teachers who work there and ask them, "HOW DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO AND HOW CAN I ALSO DO THIS?!" I am the meekest.

I admire Amy D., who I met on JET a few years back. I'll be visiting her in June when I go to Berkley to do my iD Tech Camps training and I'll have to pick her brain. Not only can this girl play the banjo, but she went through a masters program that she hated and now she has a job that she's really doing wonders with ESL kids. I wish I could have some of her awesomeness, but for now I'm just glad to be buddies with her so I can ask her a million billion questions about ... things.

I sat down with dinner tonight in my rocking chair and felt lonely all of a sudden. Megan is out with friends tonight doing JET alumni things and Kevin is out with his friends doing happy hour, which I opted out of because it feels irresponsible to spend money on beer when I should be saving my money for grad school and impending unemployment etc. All  of this non-Rachel fraternization leaves me high and dry in the social department. I guess after all those hours alone in my apartment, the last place I want to be in the evening is alone in my apartment. Although I should probably get used to being by myself since that's what happens when you don't have a job! Baby steps. 

For now I'm going to run away from my crippling fear of inadequacy by actually going for a jog on ye olde treadmill in the downstairs exercise area.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rachel K. Things that start with the letter M

I woke up at a reasonable hour and decided on how to organize and clean Kevin's room in my head.

Went home to work out a little bit, do dishes and shower. Then I took on THE MIGHTY TAXES. Ian in Kyoto helped me out a lot with this one. I am able to file for something that essentially says, "UNCLE SAM DON'T TOUCH MY JAPAN MONEY! I HAVE A FORM! MWAHHAAH" and then I can put said money into a Swiss bank account and let it fester into riches. Or spend it on a coffee table. The important thing is that I did something productive with my time.

In the afternoon, I joined Sarah for a viewing of Alice in Wonderland, which I'd give a 7 out of 10, although I didn't like the amount of bad CG. We also ate delicious sushi! Afterwards we explored the Pike Place Market some more and I bought sausages for dinner.

After another trip to the non-market grocery store, I went home to cook a large dinner of fettuccine Alfredo with sausage, corn and broccoli for dinner. Megan and Kevin showed up to eat it and we finished the meal off by drinking red wine and watching Zombieland, which I would give a 9 out of 10.

I'm still going to bed at a reasonable time and waking up at reasonable hours. So far, anyway. Tomorrow I have work at Kumon!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rachel K. Crankypants

Went to the gym to do the cross trainer for 25 minutes, did a cardio workout for 40 minutes.
Made dinner for myself, failed to open jar, invited Kevin to eat said dinner if he could open the jar. He could.

Watched a movie called Departures or おくりびと in Japanese. It was totally amazing and I recommend it to everyone, especially people in Japan.

Did three loads of laundry, cleaned all the dishes.

Made plans to see a movie with Sarah, but we both had cranky attacks and had to cancel due to mood swings.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rachel K. Restart

When I came to Seattle at the tail end of July, I had no idea what I really wanted out of my life. I knew that I'd like to explore the education career track, though in the past six months the only progress I've really made on that path is that I have expanded my "what NOT to do to become an educator" list.

After two years of teaching elementary and middle school students in Japan,  a summer of instructing at a computer camp and now tutoring kids in math and reading twice a week, I know that a teacher is what I want to become. So, after years of trying to figure out exactly what I really wanted to do with my life, I've reached the answer! This is exciting, there's no doubt about it. Though, now that I know what I want to do with my life, I'm having trouble finding a way to get there.

I'm jumping into education without any formal training. It's been difficult watching some of my friends from Japan find themselves in assistant teaching positions already, most notably because I didn't realize any of them actually wanted to become educators themselves. It seems that becoming a substitute in evergreen state is as challenging as becoming any kind of certified educator; it's going to require a lot of work and a lot of training. So I find myself back at square one -- "What do I do now?"

Applying to graduate programs was the next logical step! I put in an application to the University of Washington's Teaching & Curriculum program, which is one of the types of Masters in Education -- something I feel like I would like to achieve. The problem is that applying to grad school, along the process of becoming a certified teacher, is something I know nothing about. My background at a hippy burnout film program that was anti Hollywood and anti internships has prepared me for almost no part of the real world that I now seek to join. Though I rushed to put together my application, letters of recommendation and two written personal essays, I failed to complete the GRE in time to submit my scores to the school. I thought I was able to do it in March or April, but it turns out my GRE scores should have been submitted back in January with the rest of my application, again something I knew nothing about until I had made these mistakes.

With all the mistakes I am making, however sophomoric they may seem, I'm learning about the process of getting into graduate programs (or, in this case, NOT getting into graduate programs).

I have come to a new decision that may take this blog and my life in an interesting and possibly disastrous new direction! I have quit my primary job at Starbucks after six months of exhaustion, dissatisfaction, and low income. It's simply not worth the time and effort, and I need to start focusing on what I need to do to find the path I know I want to take in life.

I'm taking the next three months off from having a normal person job and I'm going to learn about grad school programs within Seattle, I'm going to try and pinpoint exactly what field of study I want to explore and I am going to study for and ace the GRE. This is a goal statement of sorts.

I also really want to start exercising more and become strong enough to keep up with my sports-enthusiast boyfriend, Kevin, who I admire and adore.

In a nutshell, I'm taking the next three months off in order to better my mind and body and to focus my life more.

I'll try to update on my progress or lackthereof in the coming weeks and months. Wish me luck!