Feb 16, 2016

This week on Samara makes bad choices...

Ah, the adult world. I actually kind of like it.

Recently my nephew told me that he thinks I'm a really cool adult.  And that strikes me as about the coolest compliment I could ever receive.

Also recently my brother has made fun of the choices I make as "not good" haha. I take no offense to this, but I'm pretty sure that these two ideas are not completely disconnected.

For those of you who don't know, I recently switched jobs many times. When I got home from China [take two!] I got my job back at the rec center, then got a second job working at a used book store.  My boss there is beyond fantastic and has gone to great lengths to give me hours and work with my schedule.  She's great.  But it wasn't enough money, so I also accepted a third part time job working for another branch of the recreation department in Broomfield, and then I proceeded to try and balance 16 credits at school and 3 part time jobs.  I spent every waking moment of my day at work or school or driving from to the other.  I would get home at 10/11 at night and then get food together for the next day and sleep and hopefully shower somewhere in there so I could wake up and be out of the house by 4:45 the next morning.

It made school hard.  I think I could have been more successful on that front, but about a month into the semester I started to burn out so I spent the next two/three weeks blowing off most of my classes and then spent the rest of the semester trying to catch up and found myself, fairly consistently, behind by two/three weeks. Shocker.

However, the semester still ended alright, with me not failing anything! I do have to talk to my adviser and possibly retake o chem 1, but that's not the end of the world and I still consider the entire semester a success.

Another thing that was not helpful, though, was that right during the middle of one of my last tests in o chem, I decided that would be the perfect time to quit my job at the rec center and start working deicing planes instead.  So I had a lot of training that I had to skip certain classes to go to, and it limited my ability to study for certain o chem tests... whoops.  Oh well. It happens. At least it's just one test?

Nah, turns out I don't really like the idea of my income being dependent on the weather and how cold it is, so I ended up leaving the job and getting a new one right in the middle of finals week. Whoops again... I sense a trend.  Anyway, I started working as an airplane detailer, cleaning the outside of Frontier's planes with an outside contracted company, and that was kinda fun!

Whoops, did I just past-tense that? It was kinda fun? Yeah. Yeah I did say that.

See, despite being fun, the company I worked for was also incredibly manipulative.  Despite liking the work well enough and enjoying my coworkers' company, I had to get out.  The scheduling and the constant talking-behind-your-back and the endless guilt trips were just not working out for me.  Not to mention that during all of this, I'm still at the bookstore and my hours were being cut there (which I couldn't afford) and so I'm trying everything I can think of to schedule hours there so it doesn't conflict with the airplane job, which is incredibly difficult, given that's an ever-changing schedule... And basically I just ended up working during the night and the day, and sleeping for maybe a half hour at a time between the two.  I possibly could have gotten more sleep, but I wanted to make sure I was awake for the puppy and taking him out and actually being a decent pet-owner.

I'm sorry, did I say puppy? You mean in all of this mess, I decided it would be a good idea to adopt a baby dog?

Yeah. Yeah, that's about the size of it.  So I adopted this dog.  He's the best thing that's ever happened to me.  His name is Caffrey, and he is the most obedient and loving dog I've ever met.  He gets the hiccups a lot.  We're working on training still.  He's a little skittish sometimes.  But he's the best decision I think I've ever made.

So I got a new job.  I now work at a halfway house (name will not be disclosed) and it's actually really fun.  I work in security, so I check residents in and out all day, do head counts, monitor their med intake, administer breathalyzers, do room and person searches, picking up clients from jails, etc etc.  It's a good time! I'm enjoying it a lot so far.  It's only been two days, but I have a good feeling about it.

But I'm also still at the bookstore, working there on my days off from the halfway house.  And honestly, I just feel incredibly lucky that I'm not working both jobs on the same day anymore.

I recently moved into an apartment by myself-- well, me and the dog-- and I can see how that might have been a less-than-wise decision.  That's a lot of rent I have to make by myself now. But. I have a place I can call home, too.  I'm not in someone's way or causing anyone an inconvenience by living here.  And I feel like that's not something I've been able to say for at least 2 and half years, so I'm grateful to be here.

What other poor decisions have I made recently...

Oh yes.  I had almost decided to not go back to school.  I couldn't afford it this semester so I'm off right now, and I was thinking really hard about not going back at all.  Don't worry-- I've recently found the drive to finish off school.  I'm almost done.  And though I have such little interest in continuing taking classes at this point, I am interested in getting my degree, so I'll stick it out for a little while longer.  I only have 5 more classes to take, and I haven't decided if I'll do one over the summer and then two in fall and two in the spring OR one per semester until the end of 2017, but one of those two options.  And then I won't be staying at my job because it's all I could get, but I'll be able to stay at my current job as long as I find it fun, then get something completely in my field.

[[This doesn't fall into decision making very much, but I've also got some cool new people in my life!  All the friends I've had for the past 10 years seem to be living in our hometown area still, and I seem to have moved a bit farther south.  Not terribly far, but far enough that I'm not really considered in their plans most of the time.  I still get invited up for the bigger events, but the little things like going to the movies is not something they ask me if I want to do anymore.  And that kinda stings.  I understand it, and I don't fault them, and we're obviously still friends, but it's not the same as it was.  So I also find myself to be incredibly lucky to have new friends who live near me that want to go climbing and hang out, or friends (who I met at the plane job) that might live a little farther but are completely willing to make the drive and hang out.  It's been really nice to have some people who are proving to be constant in my life.]]

And poor choices though these may be, I love them.  I haven't always made decisions that appeared to others to be bad.  I've done the "responsible thing" for most of my life.  Someone told me I should go to school, so I did.  Someone told me I should get a degree in something responsible/realistic, so I went for that.  Someone told me to be smarter and make better decisions and to not worry about living on my own, but to just get through school, so I tried.  Just live with family and do whatever you have to to make it through school.  And I gave it a shot.  But it just dragged me into this cage of someone else's life and someone else's dream that I shouldn't have been living.  Everything that I've done recently has been a decision I made for myself.  They might not be the most responsible choices, but they haven't been the more irresponsible either.  But the thing I cannot stress enough is that they were my decisions.

I've really felt like my life was a living hell for a long time.  I was in a place that I thought I'd never get out of.  I thought I was the problem, I was the reason I was so miserable.  Something I was doing was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what I needed to change to make things better.  Turns out I was just too focused on what other people defined success as and what other people thought would be the right thing to do in my life.  I trapped myself in that cage.  Until I started making decisions recently that felt right to me, no thought of what anyone else thinks about it.

And now I just feel free.

Today I got to pick up some people from a jail to come to the halfway house and they were so excited to get out of there.  They wouldn't have to hear the heavy doors slamming shut anymore, they would actually be able to put their own wallet in their back pocket again... When we walked outside and one of them got some fresh air, he said, "You smell that? It's freedom! It smells so good!"

And he's right.  It smelled great.

Aug 22, 2015

Aaand this is why I'm a chemist.

One time, whilst in China, we were eating this vegetable that they had served us for lunch. At the time, I had no idea what the vegetable was, but I've since learned it's called bok choy and you can buy it at most grocery stores. This pleases me exceedingly, but I digress.

For some reason (which I may learn about at some point over the next year in o chem) this particular batch tasted a little off. All my girls and I were discussing how not-great it tasted, and I was sitting there, looking at Megan (my friend from p chem last year) and I said, "You know what it is? It tastes really basic. Yes." That was the end of it in my head, and I was so happy to have finally, after eating like half of our serving, placed what was weird about it. It tasted way more basic than it usually does. I guess it's more acidic usually.

Anyway, Megan is a double major in chem and bio, so she nodded and replied back, "Yeah, it does taste a little more bitter than usual."

Bitter. Haha. As soon as she said it, I knew I had used a unique term. Still correct, but the normal thing to say would have been bitter. And yet that word just did not come to my brain, at all, and I was totally satisfied at having thought of the word basic instead.

But you know, I still am satisfied with it! It just accentuates my working knowledge. Haha.

Moral of the story: bases taste bitter, and as a fun bonus, acids taste sour. Hence lemons. And apparently I will always have chemistry on the brain for the rest of my life.


Aug 15, 2015

Sometimes I feel like an adult, sometimes I feel like a student.

Today those happen to overlap!

I just wanted to say that I'm so proud of myself for buying used textbooks from amazon. I imagine I saved around 50% by doing that. And as a bonus, I'm relatively certain that I'll use the same textbooks this semester as next. I might have to buy one new one, but the other two should be the same!

Hooray. :) And I get paid soon, so that's fantastic. And by "soon," I mean in like 3 weeks.

Apr 26, 2015


A successful moment in my life:

Today I was walking home from school and a lady was in front of me who had some sweet shoes, so I said, "I like your shoes! 我喜欢你的写!" and she understood! Hooray.

(Side note, I don't actually know the character for shoes, so swype might have led me astray.)

Second successful moment in my life:

Today I was helping Chelsey fine tune her teaching and talk more about the details of objects as we were on a break between class. We were in her classroom and I was just picking up various objects she had been using in teaching, taking about the details of them. Wow, look at this racket! Its strings are horizontal and vertical! Listen, ssh ssh. Did you hear that? When I pluck it, it makes a sound! These details have nothing to do with the lesson, but they're important to talk through. At this point, Jimmy (from the story yesterday) came back in the class to hang out. And look at the feathers on this birdie! They're soft, can you feel it? And this tip is rounded! Oh, it's also soft can you feel it? And wow, look, it has a stripe!
Jimmy joins in, "It has a stripe!"
"Yeah, and hey Jimmy, come here, there's a stripe on your uniform!" He looks down in amazement. "What about me, do I have a stripe?"
"No. No stripe."
"Yeah, there's no stripes on my clothes. What about Teacher Chelsey?"
"No stripes."
"She has no stripes, either!"
"She has no stripes either!"

It was perfect. He modeled everything exactly like he would have in class, and he engaged in it on his own, I didn't prompt him to chime in until he decided he wanted to. What a cute little powerful demonstration for Chelsey on how easy it can be to keep the kiddos engaged. :)

All y'all can continue to be jealous.

Ender's Game is paying off!

Looking back, my blog recently has been so introspective! And as fun as that is for me, probably about now would be a great time for something lighter. Time for a China story!

This one is from March 17th! St. Patrick's Day :)

We have a slightly different set up student-wise than when I was in Nanlang. In Nanlang, there were 9 children total. Two in the youngest group, four in the middle and three in the oldest, and the three of us teachers taught all of them. Here in Xiaolan, there are 26 in the youngest, 26 in the middle, and 27 in the oldest. Three of our teachers are dedicated to just teaching the youngest kids (ages 3-4) and the other six teachers teach all of the middle/older kids (ages 4-6). Each class has 8 or 9 kids in it, and all of the kids are awesome, particularly our older kids.

In the older class, we have some really awesome speakers. My story today comes from one sweetheart named Jimmy. I actually started out the semester not liking him a ton (he thought it would be fun to squish up my face. I thought otherwise), but he grew on me really quickly! He's a good little kid. Very smart and considerate-- as soon as he realized I don't like the face smushing, he stopped-- and he wants to be a good kid, so he'll obey you and follow the rules adamantly.

Well on St. Patrick's Day, I was sitting in his class watching Chelsey teach, and she was handing out token bags to all the kids. They each have their own token bag that has their name on it, and as the kids get stickers, a lot of them like to decorate their bags with said stickers. One girl, Lucia, didn't have her token bag. Which is weird, we're the ones who keep them, so it was just MIA, and it actually had been since the day before. I looked around and couldn't find it, so we were just taking the token bag of one girl who hadn't been here in a while and flipping her name tag over and letting Lucia use it for the day.

I was writing Lucia's name on the paper and decorating it a little, drawing the four suits of a deck of cards on it, and Jimmy would turn around to watch me. He kept saying, "Lucia token bag snow," and I'm sitting here like, "Yeah, this is Lucia's token bag, and sure, I suppose that club looks a like a snowflake." Haha. But he was so insistent! Lucia token bag, snow! I mean, dang Jimmy, I'm not a bad artist, this is clearly not a snowflake.

When I was satisfied with the name, I handed the token bag to Lucia, and Jimmy was still stressing out a bit, not paying attention to class at all, and at this point he tries telling Chelsey. "Lucia token bag! Snowman! Token bag!" Chelsey's trying to teach a class and her class has nothing to do with snowmen, so she's a touch confused and just writes Jimmy off. "Yes, that's Lucia's token bag today," and moves on. Which is totally understandable, I don't fault her at all. But he seemed a little disheartened, and I realized it was probably because he knows where her token bag is and we're just not listening well enough. As his attention shifted back to class, I left them and went looking through all our props, looking for anything that might be vaguely snowman related. Bags, hats, puppets... nothing.

After our first class with the middle and older kids, we have a water break, so I took that time to find Jimmy. At this point, he has already moved on from whatever he was trying to say, and he was just enjoying his break. But I grabbed Chelsey to come listen and then pulled him aside and got down on his level--

"Hey Jimmy, where is Lucia's token bag?" He looks at down at his.
"Token bag."
"Yeah, but where's Lucia's?" and I find her across the room and point at her. "Do you know?" He nods and starts thinking. After a few seconds, I start getting nervous. I know this kid knows, but his silence is unsettling. He communicated with me, I understood him! Just not well enough, and I'm starting to lose conviction that he knows.
Then he pops his head up. "Yesterday, a snowman bag."

I look up at Chelsey, "Do you have a snowman bag?"
She pauses for a second, "Yeah, I do! I had it yesterday!"
"Is it here?!"
"No it's back at the apartment."
I nod, "It's in there." And then I thanked Jimmy and he went back along his way.

It was the coolest. Later we went back to their apartment for a meeting and the first thing I did was make Chelsey check for the bag, and sure enough it was there. I was so proud, in part because this little kid had knowledge he needed to share in another language and he was able to, but also because no one else really seemed to think he would know or try to work with him. He's just a kid, right, barely 6 years old, what does he know?

But I was able to listen to him! I've read Ender's Game, I know how it is. And it was such a proud moment in my life to be able to work with this little genius. Bah! I love it.

Sometimes, my job is kinda cool. And now you can all be jealous.