Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Random Story

So here's an amusing little story (in my mind at least) that I deem post-worthy.

Background: The former financial manager at work, my friend Nedjmija, was one of the employees recently laid off (it kind of worked out for her since she is spending two months in Europe this summer and it looks like they might have the money to rehire her in the fall) Anyways, she has been training another employee to take over for her temporarily. I offered to do the weekly shopping for our supplies, which was one of Nedjmija's duties. They decided it wasn't worth switching over the names on the credit cards since she will most likely be back. I have used these work credit cards with her name on them several times and just sign my name. This was never an issue until my first visit to Sam's Club last week....

Story: First of all, can I mention that I hate Sam's Club. That place gives me a headache. If you've ever been to Sam's Club, you know that you have to be a member to shop there. I am using a card that says Americana Community Center, but also has the name Nedjmija Bosnjakovic on it, along with her picture. No one questioned me when I was entering (it's not like they really look at the card anyways). However the lady at the checkout counter took my card, and then kept looking at the card and then me. My first thought was she could obviously see that it was not me and was going to call me out (can you get in trouble for this?) Instead she asked "how do you say your name?" I responded with the first name. Of course she wanted to know how to say the last name as well (luckily Nedjmija has taught me how to pronounce this). Then the lady said "oh, is that german?" No, it is Bosnian, I replied. I proceeded to tell this woman that I am from Bosnia, but I moved here when I was a baby, which is why I don't have an accent. During this whole conversation I was debating whether to keep it up, or admit that I am not Nedjmija Bosnjakovic (because I think it is rather obvious that I am American!) To make it worse, the lady kept saying "Did you find everything you like Nedjmja?" and "can I help you with anything else Nedjmija?" I felt really stupid. And when it came time to sign, I realized I couldn't just sign my name like usual due to our in-depth conversation, so I signed hers (although I couldn't remember how to spell her last name, so it was just a B with scribbles after it). Nedjmija got a kick out of this story and told me to just sign "NB" in the future. She also said no one has ever started a conversation with her like that. Of course it happened to me. I wonder if I am going to have to keep up this Bosnian facade every time I go to Sam's Club...

That's my story. Hope you found it amusing.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fabulous Four Day Weekend

Edgardo decided to give the staff Friday off as well as Monday, so I had a four day weekend. And that means I didn't have to work on my birthday which was a nice present! I had a good 23rd birthday. I'm getting old! My coworker Louise and I (seen in the picture) share the same birthday, so we went out to lunch on our birthdays. Louise is great. She started calling me her daughter this weekend, don't we look alike? So the last day of school for kids here was Thursday. This means that on my birthday I had a lot of visitors all day. The word spread around that it was Ms. Maria's birthday, and that I was having a party. The kids shouldn't have been able to get in the building since the center was closed, but due to a busted out window, they were able to open the back door and come up to my apartment (most of them have figured out I live there now). It was cute, but by dinnertime we had to start ignoring the knocks. They wanted to come to my party. We started the party outside playing croquet and wiffle ball and some kids joined us. We shared the field with a variety of people, and we got some odd looks and stares (everyone else was playing soccer) Two 13 year old African boys decided to join my croquet game. One made it all the way through although he insisted the whole time that "this game suck." Once I started getting bit by mosquitoes the party moved inside (minus the kids!) My good friends Kim and Jenni made the trip from Columbus to come visit for the weekend. I was so glad to have them here for my birthday. They arrived around 10:30 Friday night. We decided to go out dancing around midnight, along with a couple of my coworkers. It was a fun time. So I had a good birthday here!

Saturday was Amy's wedding reception. Kim and Jenni went to see X-men 3 with a couple of my housemates while I went (escorted by my mom Louise). It was a really nice reception, held in her parent's backyard in a very nice neighborhood. I left early to return to my friends, so I missed the salsa band, but not the delicious food. And by the way, the collage of the kids was a big hit among the guests, as well as making Amy cry the second she saw it. I need to make one for myself.

The pastor at my church is taking a four month sabbatical and this was her last Sunday. We will definitely miss her. I am very glad I will see her again since I am sticking around. It was a nice service, followed by a potluck. Those are always good. Kim and Jenni left Sunday early evening. It was great to see them and we had a good weekend.

One of the board members of the program invited us all to her house for a cookout today. It was delicious. And my housemate Ben moved out today. His apprenticeship at Actors Theatre is over now. I can't believe how fast time is going. He was a fun guy to have around, when he was actually around. It is sad to look at his empty room across the hall. I'll miss him. And now Keith is the only male in the house. Poor Keith! Keith, Ben and I stayed up until 4 a.m. this past night watching Lost and talking. The two of them often stayed up late, which I could hear since my room was right across the hall, and I decided to join them for Ben's last night. And I was unable to sleep in today because I worked with Cameron, so I am rather tired! I think it will be an early night. Back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More Ramblings

I had a day off today which was wonderful! I worked so much last week, plus the yard sale on Saturday, that I was told I could take a day off. I had plenty to do and didn't get half of it done. But one of my accomplishments of the day can be seen in this picture. The former youth programs coordinator (who I miss so much!) is having a wedding reception on Saturday (she was married in Nicaragua and never had a reception here). Anyways she told me on her last day that she didn't have any pictures of the kids, and I was thinking what I should get her, and then the obvious clicked in my brain. So I made this collage for her of the kids. I love it and want to keep it for myself. I will just have to make another one in the future. (And as far as I know, she has no idea that my blog exists, so I don't think I ruined the surprise)

I also got my hair cut today (it had been awhile since my last one - remember that episode??) Anyways, I thought I would include another haircut story to keep the tradition going. I went to a hair design school so I could get a cheap but hopefully good haircut, and it worked out! The student I ended up getting said he has been styling hair for six years, but just moved to Kentucky so he had to go back to school for a few weeks because of a technicality. So I lucked out. I like my hair and it only cost $12 (a lot cheaper than what I usually pay...) However it did take him ONE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES to wash, cut, and style my hair. And this is with no breaks - I was his only customer. A little on the long side...good thing it was my day off!

So this past weekend was pretty good. Friday night was our good friend Steven's birthday and he had a party at his trailer in Southern Indiana with a "lawn games" theme. It was a fun party. And my birthday is this Friday (in case you forgot!) and I will also be having a party. Wish y'all could come!

Saturday was the yard sale and I am glad that is over! It was my first yard sale, and I did nearly all the work for it. I made Americana $300 and got rid of A LOT of stuff, so I would say it was a success! I started setting up at 7 a.m., by myself, but thankfully some other people came to help me out. I kept the sale going for 8 hours and by the end I was so exhausted. I just left everything out and made it a free for all. It was so funny to watch the kids pile up stuff in trash bags, place it on their heads in true African style, and attempt to ride away on their little bikes.

I finally sucked it up and went to the doctor this week. I am now on two daily prescriptions for my allergies. It is already starting to help which is a good sign. I just don't like the idea of taking medicine every day, and having to pay for it, but it should be worth it. The doctor told me I looked miserable, which I was.

One more thing I wanted to say - I finally have a host family here. This was something our director said we would have in the beginning, but it never happened. Then our pastor decided to get us all set up with families. My host dad is Dave (who you know as the Amish man at the Derby). Anyways his family took me out to dinner and for icecream on Monday. They have two adorable little kids. It was a good time.

Alright goodbye for now!

Oh wait - so the season finale of Lost was tonight - and oh my goodness! What an addicting show. I love it and hate it for leaving so much unanswered! No new episodes for a few months, it is rather sad.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

So What's New With Me?

Hmmm...not much new going on with me, but I am sure I'll still find plenty of things to say. The picture is from a concert at our house last Friday evening, put on by my housemate Andrea. Our loft area worked out nicely as a place to perform. I ended up going home this past weekend. I left Saturday morning so I wouldn't miss the concert. My mom was happy to have me home for mother's day and I got to see all my grandparents, so it was a nice visit. Unfortunately I felt pretty sick on Mother's Day. I have been struggling with allergies/a cold/who knows what for a couple weeks now. It is really not fun. I have been told allergies are bad down here and I must say I agree. I would say this is the worst allergy season I have experienced so far, and it has just begun! Advil Cold & Sinus, Benadryl, and coffee have been my good friends the past few days to help me make it through the week. And what a week to be sick! There is a lot going on at work. Under normal circumstances I would probably have taken a day off, but I am toughing it out. I woke up early and drove back here Monday morning, literally slapping myself to stay awake. This is the last week we are having our mini-programming for the kids and I didn't want to miss that (especially since I am one of two staff for this, I am kind of needed). Today is the last day for after-school stuff (again). In June some summer programming will start up for the kids, but we are still working that out. We are also having a yard sale this Saturday as a fundraiser, which I organized, so there has been a lot of work to do for that this week (including lots of manual labor which has worn me out, and there is still lots to go!) As facility manager I decided awhile ago I wanted to do a "clean sweep" of this place because we have a lot of stuff crowding the building. Hopefully we will sell a bunch and make a decent amount of money. You should have seen the condition of some of the "storage" rooms in this building - it was a lot of work! And if that wasn't enough - Louise is on vacation this week so I have had to open the building at 8 a.m. two days this week and sit at the front desk and answer the phone (which keeps me from some of my other duties and adds to my stress level). This also makes for very long days. I am sitting at the front desk now and I am the only employee here! It is almost noon and no one has come in yet! (except Edgardo briefly and the janitors) I have been lonely the past four hours. And we are having a community support meeting tonight that will most likely go to 8 p.m. which makes a 12 hour day for me! And I can't stop coughing.

Enough about work, but that is really all I have to talk about this week because my time outside of work has been spent laying around and sleeping. I did make it to the BBC last night though for some beer & bluegrass. I have also been working out the details for going back to school in the fall. After several e-mails and working the system I was able to meet the deadline to be considered for federal work study. I am just a little bitter due to the fact that they screwed up my application, which led to me getting my acceptance letter very late, and then me having to rush around stupid deadlines! Ohio State gave me early acceptance, offered me work study without me having to do anything, and gave me a small scholarship (which I obviously had to decline). Hopefully I will qualify for work study here too, which means I will get paid for the practicum I have to do and use the money for my tuition. And there is still hope for scholarships as well. I am almost 100% sure I will be doing my practicum here at Americana in the fall. They gave me other options to consider, but due to my late start, most of them were full! I did have an interview somewhere yesterday, but the lady basically told me she thought the position wouldn't ge good for a first year student. So it looks like my first year practicum will be done here, which I am happy about because I enjoy it here and wanted to stay involved anyways. Although this will include some additional paperwork since I have worked here....ugh....paperwork. They want to make sure I will be doing something different than my job now.

Oh yeah, last Friday I attended an all day training with other staff put on by the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis. Yes this was a very heavy topic, but I enjoyed it, which makes me think social work is the right field for me! They came to Louisville because we have one of the largest concentrations of refugees in the country where there is no center for torture victims nearby. Who knows what these people have experienced in their home countries before they had to flee. Some of the children we have major behavior issues with have come straight from refugee camps and have no doubt experienced trauma in some way. The training was a good way for all the agencies who work with refugees and immigrants in the community to connect. And it reinforced why I want to attend school here - I already have several connections in the social work/non-profit field which I do not in Columbus. So although the admissions office has brought me some frustration, I think I am making the right decision! And it looks like everything will work out thanks to my persistent e-mails.

P.S. The janitors just left and all the adult education classes are on their lunch breaks, so I am officially alone!

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Derby Pictures!

Blogger won't allow me to include these pictures in my last post. So here they are.

Like I said, we could actually see the horses! Here is a view of them sprinting by through the fence. When they weren't by us, we could watch the rest of the race on the jumbo-tron TV seen in the picture.

A glimpse of the infield

The LUC!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Yesterday was a very long and a very fun day. It was definitely an experience. We were up a little after 6 a.m. to get an early bus to Churchill Downs. We arrived to meet Dave, who goes to our church and is involved with Urban Corps. He calculated that this was his 30th Derby. Dave is hardcore. Every year he arrives at 7 a.m. to claim a place in line before the gates open at 8 a.m. When the gates open, he sprints across the field to stake out his territory with tarps. This year Emily ran with him while the rest of us got to take our time. The sprinting is worth it. We got a space right by the fence around the track. So we could actually see the horses when they ran by (and I was amazed by how fast they were!) I should mention we were in the infield where thousands upon thousands of people come to experience Derby. Most of them can't see a damn thing. But we could. It cost $40 to enter the infield. I don't even want to think how much actual seats cost. And did I mention that every year Dave comes to the Derby decked out in Amish gear? (he is a Mennonite). He is always interviewed by reporters and people come up to take pictures with him. Here he is explaining to us the art of betting on horse races (he even had a spreadsheet analysis - like I said, very hardcore)

The races started around 11. The Derby is the tenth race which was around 6. Like I said, it was a long day. I put a few bets on the Derby. Unfortunately I did not win anything. But I only lost $9. I should have put some money on Barbaro. He was the favorite, but as Dave pointed out, the favorite had only won once in the past 15 years. So this made the second time.

So what did we do to pass the time? Time was spent napping, walking around in the crowds, standing in long lines, and of course, drinking some mint juleps, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Dave and his friends have a mint julep race, or the "Drinking Derby" which can be seen on the bright green poster which marked our spot. They had little horses which moved a spot on the track every time they finished a drink. The picture above is Dave and his friend "The Checkerboard Buddha" with the first mint juleps of the day (at 8:30 in the morning). I had a couple myself. I think this was the first time I have had a drink so early in the morning! They cost a disgusting $9 a piece! (I only paid for one, and I got to keep my glass...) There is a great story behind the "Checkerboard Buddha" which I would love to tell you sometime if you want to hear it.

It was a fabulous day. I heard lots of horror stories about the infield before I went, but it really wasn't that bad. Yes there was lots of drunkeness, but I didn't see anything too crazy. And the weather was perfect! No rain, so no mud, and not too hot. But definitely sunny. I could always brag that I have never had a sunburn, but I got one yesterday. We were in the sun for a long time. The back of my shoulders are red today and they hurt a little bit. And my face is hot. But it's not too bad. After the Derby race we headed home. The traffic was going to be horrible no matter what, so we walked. We are only a couple miles from the Downs. It took about an hour. We probably could have made it faster if we weren't so dead tired. What a way to end the day. I collapsed on our futon once arriving in the door at 8 p.m. Once I woke up I was too tired to make myself something to eat, so I had Hot Cheetos and icecream for dinner. Not a good idea. I awoke in the middle of the night with a very upset stomach. Lots of sun, some alcohol, and a dinner like mine do not make a good combination. I will end the post with some more pictures of the day. (pictures to come soon....computer being stubborn!)

Life Outside of Work

I was looking over my past few entries and realized they are almost entirely about work. So obviously my job is very important to me and I have a lot to say about it, especially due to recent happenings. However in this post I will try to avoid the subject. But just in case you were wondering, the past week went pretty well. Thursday was a little crazy, but that's life at Americana. I do miss my former coworkers though :( And I think the kids still like me although they aren't a big fan of our "new" after-school schedule. Ok I'm done. Let's move on...

So here are some fun things I've done recently:
-Andrea, Emily, and I took our "little sisters" to a baseball game last week: the Louisville Bats vs. the Columbus Clippers. I wasn't sure who to cheer for! (not that we watched most of the game, we spent a considerable amount of time at the playground). I believe this was my first baseball game outside of Bluffton games. It was a good time, and by the way the tickets were free. That's one perk of Big Brothers/Big Sisters - free tickets. This Wednesday we are taking our sisters to "Champions on Ice". I am very excited about this because I still love figure skating and many of the skaters from the recent Olympics will be there. Tickets cost around $40, and we are going for free!
-We finally started working on our garden plot this past week. Our friend Emily came over and helped me get the ground ready. We had fun trying to figure out how to use a tiller. Gardening is hard work! I definitely got some exercise, and also hurt my back. We are now attempting to grow mint, carrots, and spinach. We will plant more soon.
-We saw this season's final play at Actors Theatre Thursday night. It was an excellent show. One of my favorites. It was called "Crowns" and it was fabulous! So I pretty much saw every single play they had this season, except all the ones in the Humana Festival (I only saw three). And all for free. If you do the math, it would be hundreds of dollars in tickets. I am very sad that there will be no more plays to attend, until next season that is. But no Ben next season. Alisa and I need to make friends with another apprentice or become ushers or something to score more free ticekts.

And I guess that brings me to this announcement...It's official, I will be staying in Louisville after the program is done in August. Alisa will also be staying (she has a great job with a jeweler here and wants to contiune with it). And I will be attending the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. It is a two year program. I finally got my acceptance letter after sending my college transcript three times. Now I am working on getting a practicum set up for the first year, and I finished my scholarship applications last week. I hope to get something. But even in the worst case scenario that I am offered no financial aid, the school is relatively cheap (especially since I can be considered a Kentucky resident).

Alisa and I are almost 100% sure where we will be living after mid August. The director of our program, Susan, casually mentioned a few weeks ago that she rents a three bedroom apartment attatched to her house. We had no idea! She would like to know the people living above her, and it would be nice to personally know our landlord. She has a great house in Old Louisville, a cool part of town which is right down the road from the U o f L campus (I could walk). It is a pretty nice apartment, with our own deck! So this makes things extremely easy for us. I wasn't looking forward to trying to find a place to live. And the rent is a pretty good deal: $350 a month including utilities. Now how I am going to pay for that rent I am not sure yet, but I'll worry about that later. And it looks like we will have our friend Dan as a third housemate, who we know from chuch. So things are just working themselves out. It seems almost too easy! I think some of my friends and my family are a little bummed I am not returning to Columbus, but I am really not that far. And I still see them pretty often. But I do miss them.

Oh yeah, what else has been going on lately? The Derby! The amount of hype that leads to this two minute race is truly insane/ridiculous. But the two week celebration is finally over. After the air show, fireworks, hot air balloon races, steamboat races, a huge parade, marathons, parties, etc., Derby season is now over. I should mention several of my housemates, including me, got out of work early because of Derby festivities. Friday evening we had some of the youth over from our church for a Derby Party. We played ultimate frisbee and Apples to Apples. It was a fun time. Then I headed to another Derby/birthday/Cinco de Mayo party. And yesterday was the Derby. I think this justifies another post....