Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Whirlwind, or the last week of August

As Reid, one of my fellow interns, drove me up to my apartment for the first time, I told him "I don't know what your house in Hollywood looks like, but this place is pretty amazing." Probably not the apartment itself - the building is older and they are doing updates in it, so we're one of the only occupied units - but the neighborhood is great. I live a bit out of LA, which on the one hand is kind of too bad, but on the other allows me to rest easier. We're about 25 minutes from Hollywood if traffic is OK and not much farther from downtown. It took 40 minutes to get to the beach on Saturday, but much longer to park.

Glendale feels pretty suburban, but there is a lot going on in the town here. Lots of shops and restaurants and places to go. Now that I have my bike I'll be exploring more of the city itself.

The first day, as I was alone in the apartment and unpacking my roommates started trickling in. We all went to In and Out Burger (a California food chain) to get to know each other more. Sarah is my roommate and from Alabama. She went to school in Memphis. Christina is from Northern California and has lived on the other side of LA county in Long Beach for the last four years. Hannah is originally from Bath, England, but moved to the U.S. when she was 7, though her parents have moved back. There are bound to be troubles, but so far we all seem to have similar temperaments and attitudes, which has lead to a smooth living situation. All three of them have cars in case something should happen and I need a vehicle.

My bike finally arrived! I bought a bike for a much reduced price from a wholesale website, and it came on Monday. It was about 85% put together and I had finish it up. No dealing with breaks or gears or anything, which I would have been terrified to do, and it was more or less pretty simple, until I got to the handle bars. Those took some working on and a tool from one of the neighbors who goes to the church we're associated with till I could get it set up.

We spent all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the group of twenty interns. It was very fun, but totally exhausting. By the end of the 13-hour day together on Thursday I wanted to say something to the effect of "I like you all a lot right now and I don't wanna ruin that with overkill of spending time together!" Everyone is very unique and I'm really looking forward to getting to know people better. We're from all over and have very different lives and very different reasons for coming, which means different expectations and therefore a lot to experience this year. There is one other man from Minnesota, who I happen to have a mutual friend with, but otherwise there is no one from the directly surrounding states. It's nearly half and half girls and guys, with slightly more girls, and we're all between the ages of 22 and 26. Some people are here to have a job and try to figure out what they want to do with their lives, others are here to have some spiritual discernment. I'm really excited to see how the dynamics and the year will play out.

Each of the four intern houses is associated with an Episcopal church in the area and we visited all the churches and saw all the living arrangements. Since the program is/was (that's another long-winded story) associated with Americorps, there is no religious requirement and we all come from very very different walks of religious or spiritual life. There are expectations for us to be a part of our host church communities, which I am OK with because it is very important to me that I meet and spend time with people who are not just in the program but who also live in LA. St Marks, our church, felt just like home. It is a big brick building with stained glass windows, a beautifully decorated altar and all the rest. The service was conducted in the exact way a Catholic one is, with lots of incense, hymns, kneeling, sitting, standing, the like.

Friday night we went to a Dodgers game as a group. I've never been in a professional game, and it has been years since I've been to any baseball game. My roommate Christina had to explain everything to me, while she pouted and tried to ignore the game because she's a Giants, not a Dodgers, fan. It was a pretty good game, without much action till the 6th Inning when they got 6 runs, including 2 home runs right in a row.

Saturday we all went to Target to get some of the supplies for the house we needed, as well as basic groceries. All the other houses are established with past interns just having moved out, so they had a base of food and all the necessities, while we had no food and were missing things like a dust pan. At this point, we're more or less fully furnished, besides a TV and patio furniture. And we have internet, which is an improvement, because for the first four days were were struggling to get anywhere without directions.

That afternoon we went to Venice Beach where we met up with other interns, swam in the ocean and walked along the boardwalk. Went back to the Koreatown intern house for a night of wine and therefore more loose getting-to-know-you time. Sunday was church service then finally some downtime at home for an early night before work the next day.

All three of my roommates are working at charter schools near by. So far, the food pantry has been really great and I'm feeling very good about the work I'll be doing and how it suits me, but I'll write more about that later. It's MUCH better than what I was doing at the Depot, which I can say more freely now that I no longer work there. I really really needed to leave that job and hope I never have to go back to working in a hotel again. Maybe I could wait tables, but the hotel industry, especially such a nice hotel, was ridiculous and frivolous. 

Pictures from the Dodgers game:

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