Monthly Archives: February 2010

Mississippi, or The post in which I actually talk about the work we did

Let me do a quick recap to start this post off. I’ve already told you

How we spent most of our time waiting.

How Mardi Gras cut one of our working days.

And

How I want to take the beaches home with me.

To top all that off, we did actually do some work while we were down there. See?

We finished this house on our second day of work. The foundation had been redone and the whole inside renovated. When we arrived, there was just some finishing to do which did not take us the two days they thought it should.

M, expertly caulking.

Me, with the threshold I put it all by myself! This required a lot of frustration and a lot of encouragement and refusal to take over by MV. Oh, and, about an extra 20 minutes than if he had taken over!

The group of us in the finished house. From the left, MV, M, ML, J, and me, in the front! They were a good group to go on such a trip with: very patient with my lack of handiwork experience!

Work Day 3: Putting together cabinets. Unfortunately, there are no Ikeas in Mississippi. ML let me run the screw driver the whole time except for the tough ones I simply didn't have enough strength for.

It's surprisingly easy to run a drywall screw gun. This was a tiny bathroom with no room for more than three people at a time. And there were approximately 15 people on the site...

The final day, we gave up on our agency. There was no sign of any more working coming our way and we didn’t want to spend another day hanging around and waiting. So, we had the pastor at the church we stayed at put us to work instead.

We stripped the floor in their fellowship hall. It hadn't been waxed in three years and the pastor kept saying he never realized the floor was so white.

We scrubbed all their toys from the nursery down with a bleach solution that was too heavy on the bleach to handle without gloves. I learned this too late when my fingers spontaneously started bleeding.

See? We did do some work.

My dad reminded me yesterday that while the trip seemed like a bit of a waste in that we didn’t get to do nearly as much as we wanted to do, it was still a better choice than staying at home for reading week where we’d no doubt sit around and do absolutely nothing for seven days. He’s right. And ultimately, I’m glad we went. It might not have been the most productive trip, but it was good to spend a week with the guys, see a part of the world I’d never been to before, experience a Mardi Gras parade, and go on adventures in general.

And how do we know whose lives we touched by the small amount of work we did? God works in ways we can’t possibly understand, cliched as that may be. We were there in his name to do whatever he wanted us to do. Perhaps that’s enough.

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Mississippi, or How I wish we could have brought the warm weather back with us.

The first thing we did after our (approximately) 20 hour drive to Mississippi was go to the beach.

The tide was out, so we walked right out onto the saturated ripples of sand.

We saw palm trees!

Along the shore, we also saw evidence of Katrina’s affects more clearly than anywhere else we went. Plots of land with only foundations left, marinas that have crumbled and become nothing but a late night party place, houses still boarded up, a few with visible damage, yet unrepaired.

All along the shore, the city of Biloxi hired artists to turn the dead trees into something beautiful.

The beaches were the most welcoming site after 20 hours of no sleep, crammed into a van, terrified that the driver was going to fall asleep at the wheel at 4 in the morning and crash us into the median. We had arrived.

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Mississippi, or How Mardi Gras hindered our do-gooding*

Monday, February 15 was Presidents Day. Most of the US takes Monday off. But not the south. Oh, no. The south has something better. They have beads!

I don’t understand Mardi Gras at all. We were a little disappointed that our five days of work turned into four, but the parade was going to make up for it a little. We found a spot, navigating around the the cranky old ladies and the pushy women with 10 year olds and waited. It was approximately an hour before the floats finally arrived on our street. And then, instead of the typical floats on square-bale wagons with little kids dressed up in silly costumes, the floats were mostly boring and people just hucked beads at us.

The most mystifying thing about the whole thing? Everyone around us was going crazy for these beads, running out onto the street to collect them, begging the people on the floats for the really good ones, in general acting as if they were worth something!

It was fun though, and, I’ll admit, we all caught the fever just a little bit. Here’s proof!

We left the parade kind of confused though. What are we supposed to do with all these beads now? What are all the people who were grabbing them like they were diamonds going to do with them? I missed the bands playing rousing marching tunes, the baton twirlers, the clowns on unicycles. There were maybe three bands in the whole parade:

And they spent most of their time like this, with their instruments at their side, the snare drum the only thing going.

Ultimately, it was a mostly fun day, though with float after float, it did get boring. And we wanted to work!

(* I like making up words, ok? Leave me alone. :P)

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Mississippi, or A Failed Missions Trip

Waiting. Waiting. More waiting.

By the second day of work, our agency, Hope CDA, which the CRWRC had set us up with, had run out of projects to put us on. That was a frustrating day. They sent us back to a house we had essentially finished the first day. There was hardly enough work left for two people, let alone the five of us. Even worse, we couldn’t do anything until the site supervisor arrived with tools and he seemed to be taking his sweet time coming to set us to work.

By noon, we were back to waiting.

The next day, we kept the site supervisor in sight so we weren’t sitting waiting for him, not knowing what was going on. We had a new house to work on and were pretty excited about the prospect of actual work. But then we saw the 15 passenger van of Americorp volunteers. And five minutes after arriving at the site, a van of middle-aged women from Rochester pulled up, making our light work even lighter.

Before noon, we were back to waiting.

By the last day we gave up on our agency. The pastor at the church we stayed at put us to work around the property. The day was much more busy and left us feeling more productive, more useful.

But the real kick in the ass about this trip? The secretary at the church we stayed at said there’s not lack of work that needs to be done in the area still. Mississippi has not yet completely recovered. But the funding to do the work has dried up. Volunteers keep coming, but the money for materials and overseers doesn’t.

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Immersed in the life of Helen Huntington

As much as I dislike my Victorian Lit prof, I do appreciate the novels he chose to put on the course. I haven’t sat and read with such enjoyment in probably close to 4 years. And now, all Brontë novels have wiggled their way onto my reading list.

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Job Search Fail

I’m supposed to be in job search mode here. I graduate in less than three months, marry in 94 days, fly to Punta Cana in 96 days and come back in 103. At the moment, we seem to be planning on coming back to my parents basement.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. But who wants to be newlyweds in their parents’ basement? Bottom line: we need jobs.

I was going to go to the job fair my school is hosting. Last time I went, in first year, before my only summer as regular student and not a co-op student, I actually got a job from it. A job I ended up hating by the time the four months was up, but it was a job and got me some pretty decent experience.

Last night, I managed to find a list of employers who were coming. I scrolled through and got more and more depressed with every company I read about. They each had lists of what positions they had available. This is mostly what they looked like:

“Positions Available: Engineering: Mechanical, Software, Electrical, and Optics. Information Technology(GIS department). Technicians and Technologists (Electrical, Electronic, Mechanical and Photonics).Co-op Positions in Engineering: Mechanical, Software, Electrical, Optics, IT, Manufacturing Engineering.”

I am graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. I am so far from qualified, and so uninterested in most of these jobs. For some reason, I still felt like I should go. I even decided to skip talking about Milton and Paradise Lost and to skip Victorian Lit and being insulted by my old, opinionated, heart-on-his-sleeve, weepy prof in order to spend a couple hours and wander and hand out enough resumes. (To whom, I don’t know…) Got halfway to school where I could a) print out 20 copies of my resume and b) catch a bus to the location of the job fair. And then it hit me.

Dress code for job fairs is business casual. Idiot.

I turned around, texted my idiocy to M and had him reaffirm my suspicions that this would likely be a huge waste of time for me anyway, got picked up at a place that wasn’t a bus stop by a very friendly considerate bus drive, got home and sulked.

Ok, not really. I did actually hunt down the company with the one technical writer position available and emailed them my resume. (They actually offered me a co-op position that I didn’t take one term.) I have a couple other people to send my resume to and some studying for a midterm to do. I’m still skipping my classes and I’ve decided to be ok with it. But I really do need to get more serious about this job search thing…

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