Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Picture!

Since I lost my camera trying to make friends with the hyenas in Namibia...and then again when moving out of my apartment/room in Boston this winter...it's actually quite exciting for me to have a picture to share!

This is a group of the interns during last Wednesday's Square Dance. We had like the most famous caller ever come. He even won some national award. (Which was announced during the square dance by somebody walking up to the mic and saying that they had an announcement "of national importance" to make. We actually all flipped for a second, thinking the worst ... and then it turned out that he won the award!)

I'm wearing little boy overalls that I had to cut off to make fit. Note the location of the back pockets. Also note the lovely background of the cage because it rained during all of last/this week so every single event has been moved inside.

300+ people square dancing inside with limited ventilation = sweatyness + great first impressions

Crossing Boundaries – June 29

At “THE BIG ONE” meeting during intern training week, we learned all about boundaries and how not to cross them. So I’ve been doing a very good job of not developing crushes on students (which, at times, has required me to scream that I’m an intern while running away from situations) and instead focusing my energies towards that group that used to be my teacher(s) at SPS that is no longer off-limits… That is. Up until tonight. When I developed a crush on one of the students.

You see…ASP has this tradition called “serenades” when boys travel to girls dorms after check-in (or vice versa) and sing them a song. Adorable isn’t it? Tonight Middle (a boys dorm during the summer!) was scheduled to serenade us. We keep this quiet from the students but our way of getting them all to gather in the common room for it was to plan a birthday party for one of the girls in the dorm. Since it actually was her birthday this was pretty believable.

The girls in my class had asked me point-blank if we were getting a serenade tonight and I lied right back to them, insisting that we were not. In perfect timing, a group of boys walked past our window on their way to serenade a different dorm. All the Con20 girls FREAKED OUT. Like I have never seen a group of girls scream louder…only to be disappointed by the fact that the serenade was not actually for them. Allowing us interns to sit back in a “told ya so” manner as we waited for Round 2 of the screams.

It worked out perfectly, we were convincing our girls to start working on their serenade (we’re going to a boys’ dorm on Wednesday). As one girl was about to hit play on her iPod we heard a few strums of a guitar. Most of the girls just assumed that the song had already started, except for those who were closest to the iPod who started to look around. And then slowly more girls started to realize that the iPod was not actually playing the music they were hearing. And then we saw them: a whole group of boys who had snuck in the back way, walking down the hall towards the common room, singing the Beatles and being led by two guitarists up front. Amazing.

I cried. And I didn’t cry during My Sister’s Keeper. That’s how good it was. When they finished their rendition (I couldn’t quite figure out what song it was because they changed pretty key words into “Con20” and other words related to our dorm) they asked for the special birthday girl to step forward. The two guitarists then butchered Happy Birthday on their guitars for a few awkward moments (really awk considering they had just flawlessly played The Beatles) before the rest of them broke out into an overwhelming Happy Birthday and parted down the middle for another boy to walk forward carrying

wait for it


Oh my god so freaking adorable.

So I obviously immediately fell in love. I’m not quite sure which one I fell in love with. But I know it was one of them.

Something in Hollywood’s Water? – June 28, 2009

The age difference – or lack thereof – between the interns and the students has created an interesting dynamic. We’d all like to think that we’re significantly older than our students in order to justify the fact that we’re teaching them, so we tend to exaggerate the difference. We’re shocked to see them wearing Backstreet Boys t-shirts (but seriously, I thought they peaked when I was in seventh grade?) and then out of nowhere, one student mentions that she’s 21. WHAT?

Anyways, the recent spike of deaths in Hollywood presented an opportunity for us all to play the age game. While a lot of our “shock” of growing up with the same bands and TV shows might be an exaggerative way for us interns to reaffirm that we are, in fact, older than our students … meaning that we are, in fact, qualified to be teaching them in class, in sports, and in the dorms, we were legitimately worried that they would not all be as distraught by Michael Jackson’s death as we were.*

I wasn’t as concerned about them not knowing about Farrah Fawcett seeing as I probably would not have known who she was had the first article I saw not been accompanied by a picture of her…

We learned about MJ during dinner. All the interns were sitting outside (we consider reserved tables part of our compensation) when one pulled out his phone (there’s service on campus!) to read aloud a text from his girlfriend: Michael Jackson was just declared dead! WHAT!?! We freaked out thinking that his girlfriend was pulling a prank. We wouldn’t believe it. We talked about what it would mean if we did believe it. And then we looked towards the cafeteria where all the students were and asked if they would know? Or care? Were they weened with Michael Jackson music? Did they get back into their cars at the end of ski practice and listen to Thriller on the way home? By the end of dinner we had indeed confirmed through other significant others that Michael Jackson was dead.

My fears were calmed as I was walking back to my dorm and saw a boy with a trumpet walk into a circle of boys playing Frisbee. All the boys took a knee as the one with the trumpet walked to the center playing taps. He then said a short eulogy for The King and requested that all take a moment of silence. Watching from across the road with a few other interns, I broke out laughing. Inappropriate moment but at least our fears of a “generational disconnect” were squelched.

And finally the results of the: Would you buy anything simply because Billy May endorsed it? Poll: Absolutely not.

*WHEW that was a run-on sentence. Did you get the whole thing? One of our ice-breaker games on the first night was to say what punctuation mark we would be if we were to be on. My house supervisor said semi-colon because “she is a run-on sentence.” I said an ellipses … because there’s always something more … and because *DOT*DOT*DOT* (“That’s what they did back then!”)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tonight’s Excitement - 6/26

I realize that I still need to explain a lot about classes and sports and the dorm and everything…but something exciting actually happened tonight! So I’m just going to jump forward a week and talk about the most exciting five minutes that’s happened since I’ve been here. It was a SCANDAL.

Scene: Being as all (or at least assumed to be all) the interns are 21+ we have a …location… on campus at which we are allowed to enjoy the privileges that come with such an age after all the students have gone to bed. (One person has to remain in the dorm all night long. When I first learned this rule, I thought we’d be drawing straws each night. Turns out Hillary is above/allergic to such indulgences so she’s very happy to stick around the dorm munching away on sunflower seeds and preparing olive oil and summer squash for her breakfast…). Even though this location is approved by the school and the things that go on in it are technically legal, it’s still something that we have to be very hush hush about. A typical conversation might be:

“Hey Eli are you going to eat some bagels tonight?”

“Yeah I was planning on it…but I’m worried that I won’t like any of the flavors. Do you think you could pick up some blackberry wheat bagels for me?”

“You are SUCH a girl. But sure because I’m already picking up some cream cheese for somebody else. See you there!”

So tonight we were all sitting around eating our bagels and playing some cards (that’s for real) when I looked up to see two very much high schoolers walking in. I was obviously the first to see them. But I was a little unsure of myself because I’m still not sure who all the interns are and I didn’t want to go around making a fool… so I kinda just stared hoping somebody else would notice. Eventually they did – and confirmed my initial thought that these kids did not belong.

So some brave soul asked them what they were looking for. They mumbled something. We asked again. They mumbled again. We cut the music (Michael Jackson tribute mix). And then they said that they were looking for [insert name of boy in my class] and [insert name of girl in my sport]. Everybody looked around at each other, wondering if anybody knew who they were. I avoided eye contact for fear of being absolutely called out for having bad kids. (These things worry me.)

And then finally one of the biggest guys in the group stood up and told them no and that it didn’t matter because they weren’t allowed to be here right now. So they left and we called security on them. Problem solved. Situation A-Okay. Eli back in her room to do a lil bit o reading.


Suzanne graduated from AMHERST, not Williams. I've been getting my super small New England schools confused...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is Time Flying

I was just walking to my room and I heard a door slam. Out of curiosity I turned around to see a girl very quickly apologize, whisper that she just had to go to the bathroom, and run back into your room. And that’s when it hit me…I’m a teacher. And apparently a pretty intimidating one at that. Because 10:45 means IN YOUR ROOM. A strange rule that did not/does not exist at “Winter School” at St. Paul’s but is apparently rigorously enforced during the ASP.

This is also when I realized that I haven’t written any updates for a week; it’s coincidentally been a week since the students arrived. Mr. Bazos was absolutely not lying during my interview when he warned me that this would be an 18 hour a day job. Love that six hours of sleep. Love it.

Soo…the day they got here. Me and the three other interns in Con 20 and our house supervisor* spent an incredibly long time brainstorming the “theme” for our door signs. My proposal was gangsta (some of you will be happy to know that I’m over my hipster stage and have move on/back to gangsta). This was also relevant because I was hoping we’d have a Con 20 “gang sign” that I could teach all the girls to flash at me instead of waving. Purpose: so I didn’t have to remember if they were in my dorm or not. This idea did not please the other interns who wanted us to be “classy.”

So after fooling around with: CONvent, CONstance, CON artists, and CONcentration, we settled with making our theme: the Con 20 CONstellations. Adorable isn’t it? I actually kinda wanted to puke in my mouth when I saw that we had a sign welcoming the girls telling them they were “Gonna be stars!” It reminded me of the cabins at Camp Coniston. When I was twelve.

The other interns were also apprehensive (told me I was not allowed to) about me showing the girls our gang sign. Which I thought was really creative: right hand fist, left hand peace sign, cross arms. Result: two – zero (=20) for the person looking at you. If you ask me…they’re babying these girls a little much. Like seriously…Hillary Shih came here from Hong Kong in third form for three months before returning home, these girls are coming here from New Hampshire after fifth form for five weeks.

Anyways, I was able to hold myself back and help them feel comfortable for about…six hours, before I broke out the gang sign. In my introduction though, I was sure to point out that the other interns did not feel comfortable with it because they wanted us to be a “classy” dorm and apparently the gang sign did not make us “classy”.

To which one girl pointed out that if you stick out your pinky finger it becomes classy. To which another girl pointed out that it was necessary for it to be your right pinky finger and not your left one … because that was decidedly not-classy/trashy.

And that was when I first fell in love with my dorm.

*Con 20 interns =
Hillary, a Smith ’08 grad and the World Religions intern. She’s also allergic to everything except for seeds and as such pretty much carries seeds with here wherever she goes because she just can’t get enough food. She’ll also be teaching third form humanities at SPS this coming fall.
Suzanne, a Williams ’09 grad and one of the Writing Workshop interns. My fun fact about her is that she puts up with the fact that I lost my card on the first day but was too embarrassed to admit it so I still haven’t gotten a new one so I borrow hers all the time.
Amira, a grad student at Columbia and one of the Shakespeare for Performance interns. She’s really artsy. Actually, most of my dorm is really artsy because it’s all the theatre kids.
House supervisor = Kolby, a Bates ’09 grad who was the Shakespeare intern last summer. She knows Amadi.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Let Me Be Honest for a Second – June 18, 2009

I know I haven’t told you too much yet…but orientation was really fun. A blast actually. The goal of orientation was to get us 40 interns to know each other well enough that we’d feel comfortable working together for the rest of the summer. This involved tons of name games and activities and a little bit of alcohol. It was basically like summer camp for 21 year olds (plus me).

Now…I realize that throughout orientation we talked about these “students” that we were going to teach and these “teachers” that we were going to work with and these “dorm supervisors” that were going to be around…but they all really seemed like far off, distant creatures that had no concrete role in our trust falls or “cricket” games. And then yesterday two of the three showed up. The campus immediately switched tones. It was no longer just about US anymore. And suddenly there were kids that weren’t willing to go on adventures because they had “work to do.” And suddenly I was being told to put together an hour long lecture on the Hippocratic Oath. And like…that’s a lot of work.

So now the students – the reason for the program – are arriving tomorrow. A week ago, I was scared sh*tless about Orientation. I thought I wasn’t going to like my peer interns and that it was going to be this lame week of no-fun that I just had to get through before the real fun (in the form of high schoolers like Hank Schless) showed up. But now that we’ve assigned their rooms and have the name-tags on the doors and like…it’s obvious that they’re showing up tomorrow…I’m really upset. This all makes me want to be a freshman again or want to be in high school again or just want to be a camper again. Because this counselor/teacher/coach position is not as much fun as I thought it would be. And I might just be cranky because I haven’t gotten more than 6 hours of sleep a night on my sagging mattress. And it’s weird that I’m speaking in the present tense because I haven’t yet even taken on any of those roles, but I can just feel it…all summer I’m just going to be wanting my orientation week back.

AND just to top it all off, to perfectly match my mood at the moment, it has started to pour. As it will for the next three days. Boo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My First Adventure? – June 17, 2009

The beds here suck. Like they are way worse than I remember them. Now this *might* be because I’m in Con20…which has even fewer redeeming factors than Kitt II. (Or is it less? My master teacher corrected me on a fewer/less comment yesterday and it was a little embarrassing/insulting so now I’m very unsure of myself.) Anyways, I’ve always thought Kitt II was the worst dorm on campus (hence the nickname “Shitt II”) but Con might actually beat it out. When I went to shower, for example, I was literally attacked by the flow of water even though I was standing well outside the distance it should reach. I played with the pressure and realized that there were two settings: dripping or full-force-sprays-halfway-into-the-rest-of-the-bathroom pressure. Seeing as I obviously prefer the second, I tested all four shower heads just to make sure that there was no other option. There isn’t. Every time I shower I flood the entire bathroom. I asked somebody who used to live in Con if this was, in fact, the case and it is. And Kitt is at least near the Upper so it’s not such a hike to go to breakfast. So…Con[redeeming qualities} << Kitt 2[redeeming qualities].

But this post was about the beds and how terrible they are. I’m not really that picky a person. I’ve just been waking up incredibly sore every morning (and won’t allow my old teacher self to acknowledge that this *could* be from wiffle ball – for the record James, word automatically changes that to “waffle”). I’ve also been waking up incredibly early because my body just won’t get comfortable in the bed. This could be considered a blessing in disguise given that I don’t have an alarm clock and the alarm clock on my Verizon phone doesn’t work. (Being the only provider with service in NH does NOT mean that you can make crappy phones and have crappy customer service!) So this morning I woke up at 6am, which I was unhappy with. Because forced socialization last night didn’t end until midnight and we have our “The BIG ONE” meeting today which I want to be well rested for.

So I went searching for boards, which a girl in another dorm had recommended. But instead I found A MATTRESS PAD hidden away in the dorm’s storage room. One of those nice foamy bubbly ones. (Background: SPS students aren’t allowed to use dorm storage over the summer so I’ve been considering everything in there up for grabs. Like the new chair and lamp in my room.) Thank you SPS student that wasn’t in the mood to pack up your mattress pad…because it allowed me to get one half hour more of sleep this morning! You’re great.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Have I ever told you…I was a nerd in high school? – June 16, 2009

Today we got to go on a tour of the library. It’s only three floors and pretty easy to figure out compared to any college library that we interns are used to, but we still had a 45 minute block for a tour of it. This was good though because it allowed for me to come to two conclusions about life:
1. Ohrstrom Library is the reason I cannot get work done at Dartmouth.
2. I honestly, really was a nerd in high school.
Explanation for the first is because the SPS library is honestly SO NICE that I was just absolutely spoiled during my time here. I blame its niceness for my inability to work in any subpar location. (Subpar meaning: not a sound-proof individual study carol with a PC and typewriter that overlooks Lower School Pond and has just the right amount of “school history” to look through during study breaks.) Yeah…this is pretty much why Baker/Berry just hasn’t been cutting it for me. My brain is picky.

As to the second point… so there we were, 19 interns sitting on the overly comfy leather couches (does Dartmouth even own these!?) in the main room of the library being told what our “Library duties” would consist of (I’ll probably have more to say about this once I have them…but NO FACEBOOK ALWAYS WORKING seems to be the main idea.) when I saw the reference librarian kinda scanning the room to see if she recognized anybody. She passed over me – and then came back (I had long blonde hair then, I excuse her) and immediately cut off the other librarian that was talking to exclaim “ELI!! How are you!?!” revealing to the whole group that I spent so much time in the library when I was here that the reference librarian recognizes me and remembers my name four years later.* As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough – because the first few days with the interns you see is all about coming off as cool and fitting in – she asked me to show the group the way to the public computers. After this fairly easy task was done, she tried to include others in the tour by asking me to introduce her to “my friend in the Iowa sweatshirt.”

This is where it gets really bad…because “my friend in the Iowa sweatshirt” happened to be Matt de la Pena who happened to also go to St. Paul’s. Further driving home the point to the rest of the interns that, no, she’s not just really good with names…that really just was how much time I spent in the library during my time here.

Today we also had a rather epic waffle ball game. But I sincerely hope that there will be so many more of those to come that I’m not doing the sport a disservice by not giving it a full mention in this update.

*Please note how throughout this I referred to her as the reference librarian…because I still don’t remember/know her name. She is super nice though. Huge fan.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 1, Phew – June 15, 2009

Today, I thank DOC Trips for making sure I’m First Aid certified and my mommy for making sure I’m young. Because being First Aid certified means that I didn’t have to sit through an hour and a half long “video” today about first aid. And it also means that I won’t have to sit through a two hour long training session tomorrow. Does this mean that I’ll feel prepared if one of my little high schoolers falls and hurts herself? No. Am I okay with that? Yes. Am I going to be scared that one of my little highschoolers might fall and hurt myself, revealing my utter ineptness with band-aids? No. Was I incredibly happy to have free time today to nap because orientation is exhausting? YES.

And the reason I’m happy that I’m young…it means that despite the fact that I have driven a mini-bus at Dartmouth for three years I am apparently unqualified to drive the SPS mini-busses because I’m not 21. Even more hilarious, at the same time I decided to mention to the man in charge that I have tons of experience with these things, three other girls decided to come up and mention that they:
a. Got their drivers’ licenses a month ago
b. Have never driven anything bigger than a two-passenger car
c. Feel incredibly uncomfortable about the idea of being responsible for 14 kids in a bus
But because they’re at least four months older than I am, they’re qualified to drive the mini-busses! Does this make sense? No. Am I okay with it because it means that I get three more hours off from orientation? YES.

Things of note:
I’m now supposed to call my teachers by their first name.
The ASP people call normal St. Paul’s the “winter school.”
There are now stone paths where dirt paths used to be (think between Moore and ballet studio, Nash and library).
And swipey key cards to get into the dorms! (Apparently this is just so we can tell if the ASP kids are locked out after-hours but stillll).
Mommy is awesome because she’s bringing down a car-load worth of shtuff that I forgot at home. Thanks mommy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eli’s New Adventures – June 14, 2009

Some of you readers have been very kind and generous in your feedback to my blog posts. Apparently you really like my writing (so why can’t you just have graded my high school papers!?!). My standard response though has always been “well I’ve had great life experiences.” Which is true...it would take more skill to make the story of going on a fishing boat in Brazil to have the crew show me how to best sneak alcohol onto the MV Explorer sound boring than to make it exciting. (Oh wait, I never posted that story…)
All the same, this term’s blog is going to present a bit more of a challenge on the adventures front. For one, all the exotic locations that were guaranteed to make any story exciting will be replaced with…New Hampshire. And all the villagers, students, and backpackers that played the central characters in my Semester at Sea stories will be replaced with high school students from New Hampshire, and more high school students from New Hampshire. This is because this summer I will be going back to my high school (St. Paul’s) to teach students in their ASP, summer enrichment program.
So my disclaimer now is that I am going to be seeking adventure, it will not come and attack me as I felt it did so often during Semester at Sea (like that time that I made friends with the hyenas…adventure came and attacked me) which mostly means that my blog is sure to be full of hyperboles and exaggerations. But I’ll leave that interpretation up to you for the deciding.

Revival – June 13, 2009

I think it’s quite fitting that the day I decide to revive my adventures blog is also the day that I woke up a teensy bit hung over… credited to Semester at Sea. Last night, the Institute for Shipboard Education held an alumni fundraiser in Boston giving all of us an opportunity to re-board the MV Explorer (never seemed so big), greet old friends (who primarily remembered me as “the She-li in Eli and Eli”), and indulge in ways that the ship did not allow when we were…um…at school.
Quick back story – I worked as a bartender during Dartmouth’s reunions last year so I know all about what reunions are about: first showing the success of the program and then explaining how fortunately alumni donations (from people just like YOU) keep the costs reasonable and, if that method fails, offering enough free booze that people forget their inhibitions…against “making a gift” that is. But of course even before this there’s the cover charge to get into the event, which in itself could be interpreted as a donation.
Knowing that this was the real reason for the fun, I was determined to eat enough, drink enough, and request songs enough to fully get my money’s worth. Which, for the most part, I did. Except that they quickly ran low on the best parts of the “Around the World” buffet (Chinese chicken fingers anyone?) and I became so distracted with the meeting and greeting that I forgot to keep my wine glass (they gave us REAL GLASSES now that we’re responsible alums!) filled to the brim throughout the night.
What this did give me the opportunity to do though was have a long over-due catch up with Doris and Hal, my ship parents and a few others from my voyage just to remind me that facebook-stalking somebody during exams week does not actually qualify as keeping in touch and keeping an email response on my to-do list doesn’t actually let the recipient know that I’ve been thinking of them. (I’ll do better now…I swear.)
It also gave me the opportunity to observe the rather hilarious clash between students from the UPitt/Road Rules era and those from the reformed UVA era. Exhibit A:
Me: Oh my god I never even REALIZED that this could actually be used as a bar.
Old Alum: Seriously? This is where they had nightly mixed drink specials.
Exhibit B:
They all jumped into the pool.
Exhibit C:
I did not because Cindy Zomcheck (some sort of Fall 08 disciplinary dean) had been *spotted* earlier in the night. …But still got soaked because I sat between two girls in the taxi (for which Brian Horsburgh bartered the price!) who had.

Moral of last night’s story: There’s another Reunion party to kick off the 100th voyage on Monday, December 14 in San Diego. See you all there.