While I’ve already broken my promise to myself to post weekly about my AmeriCorps service, it doesn’t hurt to catch up now with any followers who remain.

First of all, being back at my alma matter gives me so many mixed emotions. The positive ingredient in the mix is the overwhelmingly positive reception from university faculty and staff who realize I’m back for the year. Even our president was genuinely thrilled when he finally saw me again after my return to campus as I entered his home with a hug and a “welcome home.” The dash that’s less pleasant are some of the scarring emotional memories this campus holds. Luckily some of the same people who welcomed me back with hugs are willing to support me as the wounds reopen.

The garden is shaping up as I weed and weed and then weed some more, and the progress is promising. Hopefully after working this Saturday with a large group of first year students who are volunteering in the garden for our university’s orientation service event I’ll be able to start planting with the upcoming groups I’m taking to the garden.

Next week is the first week of classes, and I’ll already be teaching, which is a great opportunity. Tomorrow, however, is the first year move in day, which means my day starts with a 6:30am meeting so we’re ready to welcome the students to the Susquehanna we all call home. Thinking back to my move to campus in 2009 reminds me of how far I’ve come. As a senior, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the passing of time between the start and end of college, and Nate and I seemed to reach a consensus in that the freshman year version of ourselves was hardly recognizable in our senior selves. We have Susquehanna to thank for that development and expansion of character. Now the class of 2018 has the same opportunity, so go ahead, dive in.

Until another time,

S

An update is long overdue.

I bought a Subaru Legacy about two weeks ago, so bring on the road trips.

My current job makes me feel a little bit more broken every day. While a few of the customers with whom I speak appreciate the calls I made, I feel like overall I make virtually no difference. I was able to speak Spanish with a customer earlier this week who was otherwise cut off from the company’s limited perspective, so that was a positive moment. I also met a bold woman who is six feet tall and still never goes without her 4+ inch pumps; she was fabulous.

And while I think “everything happens for a reason” is a dangerous phrase, I did have a round of good luck at work. The owner of the company where I work founded a non-profit that runs an orphanage in Tanzania. Matt happened to be local about two weeks ago, so we were introduced and had two dinners together. He offered for me to go to volunteer at the orphanage, and I could actually be there right now. It was a difficult decision to make, but I already made the commitment to AmeriCorps, so I couldn’t bring myself to abandon one group of people in need for another. That’s a dangerous level of placing one type of need and suffering above another, which I couldn’t bring myself to do. Matt’s mother also talked to me when I was at his house one evening, and she gave me that much-needed grandmother-like guidance: she said the opportunity with their charity will be there after my year of service, so it looks like I have a plan for another period of time before graduate school. The year off is growing, and as much as I want to get back to school, I’m in the state of mind where I don’t want to say no to experiences, especially ones that allow me to help others.

To round out my journal entry, I need to pick up my camera more. Today was only the fourth time I’ve photographed since I finished my project, which is really sad. I need to commit myself to a new type of project. maybe when I start with AmeriCorps next month, I’ll do a weekly blog with photos and reflection. Until then, I’ll just work on picking up my camera more.

And to those of you still following me, thank you.

S

Hi tumblr friends,

It’s been a little while since I completed my blog, and I actually have some exciting news to share: I was offered an AmeriCorps VISTA position at my alma matter! I could not be more excited about the position and what it offers. I’ll be working in the campus garden, organizing student volunteers, partnering with local charity organizations, and, most excitingly, getting into the classroom with opportunities to teach about sustainable living, food justice, and social awareness. The position starts in July, so I will stay out my position I have locally now and then move into my new apartment with my dear kitten.

The reception from people who have been pulling for me for the last year has been amazing as I’ve shared my great news about the VISTA position. Marti was actually moved to the point of happy tears when I told her tonight, and I was overcome with the same wave of emotion last night when I told Jacob. I can still hardly believe it, but I should: my main interviewer told me that faculty and staff at SU found out I’d applied to be the VISTA and brought forth unsolicited recommendations for me. What a great community, and now I get to go back.

On the way back from the VISTA interview, my car broke down half a mile from my house (seriously, right?), which leaves me in the market for either a new car or a year or so without a vehicle. I haven’t yet decided what I want to do. I’ll save a lot of money by nixing the car but know that I’ll be more or less contained to Selinsgrove without my own vehicle. We shall see if I bring home a little Subaru.

Lily is as lovely as ever. Warren is even looking up. My best friend from elementary school and I had a multi-hour dinner together last night to catch up. Our reintroduction was a healthy move for us both because we can finally interact with someone else who knows about the world outside of this small town—and small state.

I cannot even express how excited I am to have such a positive change in my near future. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way.

P.S. Sorry there is no photo today! I hardly seems like a blog post without one, but I just wanted to share the great news.

S

Day 365

Ladies and gentlemen of tumblr, this is it. One year ago today I graduated from Susquehanna with a Bachelors in English and philosophy. I was inspired by a dear friend at the time to begin my own 365 project to document my first year without formal schooling. While I knew this year would be different from those I’ve experienced previously, I never had any idea it would pan out the way it did.

There have been highs and the type of lows that make the biggest challenge of the day getting out of bed to start again. Through all that, I made it here. Sometimes skipping and sometimes absolutely dragging, but I’m still here.

To every one of you who followed me during this journey, thank you. On the days when it felt hardest to blog, I found the most release in the process, you, my tumblr audience, are the reason for that sensation.

And to the graduates of the class of 2014, don’t allow your preconceived ideas of how your first year after college is supposed to be dictate what it is. While oftentimes overwhelming, uncertainty lends itself to self exploration and discovery.

Leaving this blog completely doesn’t seem in the cards, so I’ll keep in touch, tumblr friends.

And for some final lines of verse: The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep.

Thank you all.

S

If day 365 doesn’t post tonight, it’s not because I forgot. Technology isn’t cooperating and I can’t wait up any longer. Struggles.

Day 364

Today I really let myself appreciate where I live.

The weather was beautiful, so we spent most of the day outside—a decision that is leaving me quite sleepy now. We went to see the bald eagle nest, but it didn’t give me the opportunity for the great photo I was hoping to take. At least we were able to see the baby in the best a well as the mature adult through the thick trees.

Dad picked asparagus from our garden to go with our dinner tonight, and it was absolutely delicious. I’m glad that I’m here long enough to start enjoying the benefits of a garden.

Tomorrow Jacob and the rest of Susquehanna’s class of 2014 graduate and begin their year after.

Tomorrow this project commences.

S

Day 363

Wow, this year seems to be slipping away quickly now that I’m in the final days.

I couldn’t have started working at a better time as today was deemed “a perfect day” in terms of weather, so we had full pay but were able to leave at noon. Apparently this happens once, maybe twice a year. As Aaron said, awesomesauce.

For me, the day was quite good. I was able to have my lunch with Dad and Lily when I came home and then spent the afternoon enjoying the fresh air. My late afternoon run was finished up with a heavy rain and thunderstorm, which could not have felt better considering the 78 degree temperatures to which my running body needs to adjust.

On my desk at work is a photo of Lily now. I don’t care if it makes me a weird cat lady or not because looking at her photo today gave me a sense of calm. I spoke with a really sweet older man today too, which seems worth noting because he made me smile genuinely.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and if the weather is decent, Dad and I are going to go look at a bald eagle nest that is near my uncle’s house. I’m hoping to get a decent shot.

Just a weekend left,

S

Day 362

Our weather was so beautiful, almost 80 today, so it was fitting that I would be stuck inside for 8 hours of it. I took my lunch outside at least.

The job itself wasn’t anything about which I’d write home, but the people were all very nice to me. Lily did ok with the day alone, I think, but she’s been right by my side more than usual tonight. When I came home, I picked her up, and she kept rubbing and purring so I wouldn’t put her down. What a kitten.

I received an interview offer for an AmeriCorps VISTA position at SU, and I am really excited for the opportunity.

For once I can appreciate the value of Friday tomorrow.

S

Day 361

361 days in the making, but the entire job interview and offer period spanned less than two hours, and I start tomorrow. It’s essentially a sales-type position, but the big plus is it’s in Warren, so I can live at home and save.

Much to my surprise at the office today, I was reunited from my best friend from elementary school and her mother, both of whom work at the office where I start tomorrow. I haven’t seen either of them since the fourth grade, so today’s impromptu hello was quite welcome.

Lily and I have been in the habit of waking up early all week so we can watch the birds at their most vibrant, just after sunrise. The Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, and Baltimore Oriole were unusual visitors, but I have no complaints.

I’m about to pack my lunch for work, which makes me feel like I’m a kid and packing my lunch for school again. Tomorrow will be different.

S

Day 360

After living here for almost a year, I finally drove to Washington Park to get the view of the town. I would have liked to go back at night and do some light painting with the city lights, but it seemed environmentally irresponsible to drive there a second time.

Tonight I watched Labor Day on a whim and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film.

Otherwise, it was more of the same.

S