Monday, April 25, 2011


I posted a resume online a few days ago and got a phone call this morning! I did reverse look-up (because I never answer unknown phone numbers) and turns out it's a very scammy phone call. How unfortunate. But the area code was in upstate New York and I don't really want to stay here, so a real job would've been difficult to deal with.

The problem with this scam call, is some people might be desperate enough for employment to agree to sell life insurance, but I'm just not that desperate. I won't get that desperate until November, when my student loan payments are about to start. And even then, I'll probably only be desperate enough to get a job in retail. As non-perfect as those jobs are relative to my dreams, I kind of enjoy helping people find things and leave happy.

The job search is frustrating, long, and I have no idea what to do. But I think what worries me is that I'm not all that worried about it. I'm supposed to be, but I know I'll figure something out. I know I need some time to figure out where I want to settle next, and I know I can afford to be jobless for a little while. Not long, but a little awhile. I think I might do a camping road trip.

Unrelated, I made an Easter dinner yesterday and it turned out quite well. I made a ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, broccoli, deviled eggs, and almond cupcakes for dessert. I'm really proud of how well everything looked. I still can't taste, but my roommate said it tasted good, and she went back for seconds so I believe it. Pictures later, but right now I need to get breakfast together and get dressed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moving On

So, crappy day. First thing I do in the morning is check the weather and my email. I roll over, open my laptop, and check. Friday morning I got my email from the Audubon Aquarium saying the internship was offered to another applicant with better credentials. Better credentials? It's an internship meant for college students, how much better could the credentials be?

I was sad, I cried. You get rejected and rejected from jobs and try to take it in stride, but when you hit your 12th or so rejection, and it's from an internship, things just feel too hard. I was begging for an internship I couldn't afford to do, anyway. It was 40 hours a week, unpaid, so I would've had to have gotten a part time job just to try to keep my savings account from plummeting instantly. And I cried because I didn't get a 70 hour work week that wouldn't even let me break even. How ridiculous.

I moped through the day because everyone has the right to wallow in self pity every once in awhile, but really by the end of the day I was over it. There are more jobs opening up all over the place. Yeah, I'll probably get rejected for most of them, but all I need is one. I'm still not really in the mood to start writing 4 cover letters a day again, but I'm going to pick it up again. Only 5 more weeks until graduation, so I've got to start pushing.

My newest plan for post-graduation is to pack everything in my car and just drive. Drive, drive, drive. Maybe get a tent and do some camping, and when I find a city or town that I think I like, I'll start to look for an apartment and a job. It's really a terrible plan, but I don't know what else to do. I'm strangely comfortable with the idea of being completely rootless until the time when I have to become more stationary. I'll have my books and my blankets with me so I'll be cozy.

I'm also thinking about registering to attend the AZA conference that's in Atlanta this September. I don't know where I'll be in 5 months, but I will probably be able to take a day off work to have a long weekend networking with people in the industry. And if I don't have a job by then it will probably be a nice pick-me-up, something to look forward to. Haven't decided yet, but I have about a month before registration fees go up.

Tomorrow is Easter! I'm making my first ever holiday dinner and I'm pretty excited. Hopefully it goes well. Tonight I made I quiche in my beloved cast iron skillet and cut it into slices and wrapped them each in foil. An easy breakfast for the next week which will be very nice.

Now I'm going to do some reading on James Polk before bedtime.

To Taste of Life Again

I'm still sick and it's so lame. I can almost breathe right now, but I still can't taste anything. I think most of the other times I've been this unable to taste food I have also been sick enough to not want to eat or to not care about what I'm eating. But my nose is the only part of me that's still sick. I would love to be tasting foods right now. I ate a hamburger for dinner and couldn't taste it. I even tried to eat jalapenos to clear my sinuses a little; it worked for a second, but mostly just made me tear up. But the texture of the hamburger was so strange! I think I like hamburgers for texture and taste. I had eggs for breakfast this morning, and the texture is a little iffy without any flavor.

Speaking of weird food textures, I was watching "Monsters Inside Me" earlier today, which is a show about parasites and the people that get infested with them, and a man got a parasite by eating little bitty crabs ALIVE. How creepy. And potentially painful? I don't think I ever want something moving around of its own accord while I'm trying to kill it with my teeth.

I saw African Cats today, to cheer myself up after a really crappy day, but I can't decide if it was a good decision or a bad one. Adorable beginning, terribly sad middle, uplifting ending. It was beautiful to watch, there were some awesome shots. But yeesh, not happy. And nature programs aren't happy, they can't be happy because it's life the way it happens, but this was rated G so I hoped it would just be the cute parts. Lots of sad parts, instead, and because of the G rating you don't see any of the gore that makes other nature programs brutal, but somehow almost easier to take. You know how sometimes the worst part of a horror movie is when you don't know what is happening behind a closed door? Ditto a lion being pulled under the surface of murky "crocodile infested" river.

More on the crappy day tomorrow, I think.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Of Poetry, Their Passionate Describing of Passions"

I just wrote a short response to a work called "The Defense of Poesy" by Philip Sidney. He begins with an anecdote about a horseman who so elegantly describes the importance of horsemen, and then of horses that Sidney claims "I think he would have persuaded me to have wished myself a horse." Sidney's "Defense" claims that all of the best writing is covered in poetry, and that is what makes it best, and that is why poetry is so important.

I'm a fan of poetry, so I agree, but that's not the point.

I'm unflinchingly passionate about the things I'm passionate about. This is almost a shameful thing to admit, but last week during my interview with the Audubon Aquarium they asked me why I should be the one to get the internship, over everyone else. I almost (did) teared up when I said "Because I know I want it more than anyone else you're going to talk to. This is the thing I want to do with my life." I had to take a deep breath when I heard my voice get the first crack in it.

But that's what it's supposed to be about. It's supposed to be about passion. I can go on forever about animals, about animal care, animal behavior. It's exciting. It's amazing. It's beautiful. It's poetic. I've gone onto a roof to watch a hawk eat a squirrel, I've sat on the sidewalk to watch crows dodge cars and eat a dead squirrel, I've lain down on the floor to watch ants come and go, I've stopped on the side of the road to watch deer, I've convinced other people to stop on the side of the road so I can watch deer, I've been late to class because I heard a new bird sound and had to find the bird it came from (that was the first time I saw a cardinal! So it was worth it). I want to know what it does and why it does it, how it does it, what it likes and what it's scared of. And every animal has its own identity and it's just fantastic to discover it, because it happens so slowly.

There was a raccoon at a zoo I interned at and her favorite food was hard-boiled eggs. Once a month her weight had to be taken and the scale made her nervous. The only thing she'd get on the scale for was an egg. There was a moose that liked overripe bananas. And I'll never forget either of those things because they were things that were unique.

I have a weird kind of animal radar. If there's a dog within my range of vision, I will see it, even if it's 2 or 3 blocks away. I can hear the the distinct rattle of collar and leash and know there's a dog somewhere nearby. I notice all the squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons on my walks because it's what I love. I love watching and listening. You learn the most when you're quiet.

And dogs! I love dogs. I volunteered the local animal shelter last winter and it just changed my life a little bit. Here are the ones that stuck with me the most:

 This is Beauregard, a Doberman. He was a big, big guy and I have a soft spot for big dogs. He'd been in the shelter 3 times and was depressed. He wouldn't get up. He'd lay in his bed with his head against the wall and his eyes open. He became my special project. I would go in to see him first, and often, always excited, always happy. After our walk, I would sit with him and talk to him and keep him company. One day I was going into his room and a woman asked if she could come in with me. He got out of his bed and came over to say hi to me and the woman said "I was just in here and he absolutely would not get out of his bed for anything." But he always got up for me. Another volunteer said he wouldn't let her put his harness on, but he never gave me trouble. It broke my heart to see him sad, but it was so good to see him make progress over time. He was eventually adopted by two people that would make him feel loved all the time.
 Charlie! Charlie is a shepherd mix. He always had a lot of energy and I think he scared away some people because he had too much energy. We would go on long, long walks because I knew he needed them the most. And he was so great to walk. He stopped when I stopped, followed where I wanted him to follow. One walk he saw something that startled him in the bushes and he would not continue on the path we were on. I did a little investigating and couldn't see anything, but when I pushed him forward he hid behind me and would only peek around my legs. So sweet! When I would play with him off leash, he'd fetch for awhile and when he was tired out he would come over to snuggle. I sat down on the ground and he put his head on my shoulder and sat next to me. I love this dog. He was the most fun to walk and of all the dogs here, I think he is the one that would have been the most perfect fit for me. I hope he has a happy home, but I wish I could've been the one to give him his forever home.
 Jonathan! He is the handsomest mutt dog! Very exuberant, but learned quick how to behave to get the kind of attention he wanted. He was an explorer; we ended up walking through corn fields and chasing deer. And at the end of a long walk, he'd just be a sweet dog to hang out with.
Quinn! Quinn is a small, young German shepherd. Look at how pretty! When she came in she was wary of people and wouldn't let anyone pet her. But she was playful enough that she'd tolerate anyone with a tennis ball. We played fetch for hours, and after some of her energy was gone we'd go on a walk. Anything she could pick up, she wanted to play fetch with. When it started to snow, everything was a toy. She'd jump through the snow like a jackrabbit, bury her face in it, catch snowballs. I played so hard with her one day, running and jumping, that my wallet fell out of my pocket and got lost in the snow. But it was worth it. On my last day at the shelter before leaving home for winter break, I put her in her room and walked out and then realized I'd never see her again. I immediately turned back into her room, got onto the ground, wrapped my arms around her neck and gave her a big hug. Then I realized that she let me hug her! Just a month ago she hadn't let me pat her head and now she was letting me hug her! I cried all the way home from the shelter.

Relationships with animals are just worth it. They're worth the time and the effort, they're worth the hurt when it doesn't go well, or the good hurt when it goes well but you can't be the one to take them home. I love it.

That's your long post for the day.

I'm still sick and can't breathe and it makes eating the most boring thing to do, which is unfortunate because eating is usually my favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, the heat is back on in our apartment! And it snowed today, so we got it back just in time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apartment Review

 I've mentioned the heat being broken in this apartment, which may not seem really all that awful. Except that I have had some pretty stellar luck with apartments.

My apartment sophomore year was enjoyable. It had its quirks: there was a hole in the floor of my bedroom hidden by my dresser, it went to nowhere and sometimes weird bugs with too many legs scurried out of it, but mostly at night when I couldn't see them. But the heat worked, we were insulated, everything worked.

Then junior year. My roommates and I were looking for apartments late in the year and were getting tired and frustrated trying to find a nice place that we could all afford. We found an apartment without trash in it and we were all kind of sold. When my move-in day came in late August, I opened the door to my new room and was hit in the face with humidity. My carpets were wet. Everything I owned was damp and it smelled like mildew. A dehumidifier made an appearance and then a fixture in our apartment. Which, it should be noted, was a basement apartment. One day, walking up the stairs of the front porch to check the mail, I noticed the lattice work under the stairs and thought "I wonder what kind of creatures we have living under the steps" (because I love critters, and if we had a raccoon neighbor I would've started to feed it), then it occurred to me: I was the creature living under the stairs. The roof of my room was the porch. Our living room used to be the garage, apparent by the sealed up garage door on the outside. We had one door into a room with a dirt floor (and spiders and ants) that didn't lock.

We had ants, not just sugar ants but the big black ones that chill outside. They got lost inside because they couldn't tell the difference. Our toilet leaked and our bathroom was on a slant, so there was a puddle of standing water at one end of the bathroom. If you held up your hand to any electrical outlet, you could feel a breeze coming from outside. One wall was really only a thing piece of particle board. Deee-lightful.

The crowning moment of my stay occurred one fine spring day when the snow finally began to melt. There had been snow accumulation on the porch (my roof) and when it melted, my ceiling started to leak.

The puddle on my floor! And the water stains on the wall.

Drip, drip, drop, little April showers...and see the paint peeling away from all the moisture damage?

The puddle on my windowsill. And that little dark patch at the bottom is a hole in my wall.

Then. THEN when I reported this to my landlord, maintenance came over with a carpet cleaner and I said "No, I don't just want it cleaned up, I want this fixed so that it won't happen again." The response? "Fixing it would cost too much, that's not going to happen." I wanted to cry. I did cry, actually. A lot. Especially when it leaked over my bed and all over. Worst apartment ever.

So for senior year I decided I was going to get a nice apartment, something more expensive, something that wouldn't leak. And I did.

Until I moved in and found an ant graveyard by the balcony door. Then I found all the little bitty ants coming in to pay their respects. I ran to Target and bought ant traps and a vacuum cleaner. Everything went swimmingly, until the evening I went into my bathroom to get ready to bed and found my ceiling dripping. Really?! Luckily, this maintenance team is more responsive when it comes to big deals and someone was sent over at 11:30pm and went onto the roof to clear away the drain that had frozen closed. Now it's the heat. Stuck off, stuck on, stuck off. And no hot water this morning. That's back, at least, but it's not as hot as it used to be and all the faucets sort of spit hot water now. 

The epic that is apartment living thus far. I'm looking forward to my next move to see what it holds, but it likely won't get much worse than junior year. And my next apartment will allow me to have pets and that concession will keep me satisfied through a lot more crap.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Unseasonably Awful Weather

Winter is dragging on and on in such a miserable way. It’s 35 degrees outside right now and only about 45 degrees inside because the heater won last night. The average temperature for today is only in the mid-fifties, but that sounds so delightfully springy! Ugh.
And I’m sick! Sore throat and runny nose. Tackling it with hot water with lemon and honey and lots of rest, but am still disappointed in my immune system for giving in. After 6 months of winter, though, I want to give up, too. I should’ve gone into hibernation with the bears this year.
This was meant to be another post with background on hopes, dreams, identity, etc. but being sick has gone to my head and I’m groggy and cranky and don’t feel like doing it right now.
Something I learned today: the high for today in Ithaca history is 91. And today is the day that Lincoln offered Lee command of the U.S. Army 150 years ago. In a day or two, he’ll resign.
Something you should learn today: I love Civil War history and I’ll be living the next 4 years completely engrossed by it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

I wanted to be a writer.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a lot of things. Moving from earliest memory to latest memory I have wanted to be a cartoonist (my drawing skills didn’t progress after 2nd grade and I lost hope), an astronaut (then I started to get motion sick very easily), a veterinarian (then I started to faint), a robber baron circa 1890, a corporate lawyer, an editor, came back to veterinarian for awhile (because I could work through fainting), then settled on zoo keeper.
With weeks (weeks!) until graduation, I’m staring down unemployment and student loans and hoping something comes up. A fun exercise during loan exit interviews is creating a budget for yourself, so you can see how much money you’ll need to survive once you graduate. That exercise is enough to crush dreams. It’s a nice reality check, but it absolutely destroys hope, especially for those of us still searching for employment.
I have applied to jobs at about 15 zoos around the country–because I settled on zoo keeper–and I have gotten nothing positive from those many, many resumes and cover letters. Except a lot of practice at writing cover letters. I finally applied to an internship at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans and got an interview–results still pending–but it’s unpaid and unpaid is scary. I love zoos. I love animals. I love being close to animals and working with them, developing relationships and overcoming the inherent communication barrier. It’s an extremely rewarding experience. I love it more than I love most things. But entry level positions pay so very, very little. And internships pay so very, very nothing at all. The wage of a newbie keeper does not come out equaling my minimum-to-live total from that oh-so-enlightening budget exercise my loan interview had me do.
Important note: I am quite tenacious and believe 100% that people should do the thing they love most. This is what I love most. I want to work outside, tire myself out every day, and be happy, above all else. So I am not abandoning this zoo keeping thing, but I may have to shelve it for a little while.
And that leads to the next bit: what on earth does one do for a steady, healthy income after college?
I have no idea.
But I’m working on it. Looking at editing jobs! How novel, to think I could use my English major for something. I found myself in Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago (by “found myself” I mean “deliberately went to spend 4+ hours”) and while sitting on the floor with my laptop open searching for books on Civil War topics that I might want to read, I thought, “I wish someone could just pay me to read and be around books all day.” So a-editing I will (hopefully) go.
(Okay, okay, side story: I have recently discovered that the best way to motivate myself to write an essay I find miserable is to go to B&N and sit at a table and write. I give myself a deadline and if I finish my work before that time, I get a book as a reward. It works quite well, until I try to negotiate what “one book” really means. Because if I wanted to buy one hardcover book I could spend $30, but if I wanted a mass market paperback it might only be $8, so if I want two or three mass markets that could really be just the same as one book. Needless to say, I usually end up with two or three books. And then I have to decidewhich books; the whole process can take hours.)
In the meantime, this is my writing practice. And a chronicle of what I want to do and what I end up doing. And what I figure out along the way. Hooray, personal growth!
In other news, our heater is broken and gets stuck on until we call maintenance, and then stuck off when they leave. It was stuck on for awhile and then it was 77 degrees outside and we thought we might suffocate. Maintenance finally showed up to turn our heat off and now the forecast is 45 and wet for the next week. So! Being the kind of person I am–inquisitive, resourceful, and of hearty peasant stock–I decided if maintenance could fix it, I could certainly fix it. I tore the cover off the heater, tore my knuckle open, fiddled with anything I could find to fiddle with, wrangled the cover back on, and did not fix the heat. But it makes noises like it’s trying to turn on and off, and I’ll count that as progress.
The things I learned today: heaters shouldn’t be messed with, eels have poisonous blood!, and it is impossible to trust any GPS system.