Sunday, December 9, 2012

Acceptance into AmeriCorps NCCC and Becoming an Angel

It took almost a year for my status to change from pending, but I'd be damned if I gave up. "I can wait as long as they want me to." It's not like I have anything else to do. I religiously commented in the NCCC group on Facebook and a lot of people dropped out because they got a job or started school, or just simply got tired of waiting.

Why would I get tired of waiting? I have nothing better to do.

Job prospects weren't looking so good for both me and my mom and we consoled each other. My mom became my best friend in these months and I to her as well.

One day, I nonchalantly bring the mail into the house and see a thin envelope from AmeriCorps. I could have fainted from the excitement. I opened it and it read "Congratulations, you are accepted into AmeriCorps NCCC on the Vinton, Iowa campus!"

Accepted wasn't scratched out and decline wasn't written next to it, and it was signed at the bottom. This was legit. I was ecstatic, but my mom was more vocal about than anyone else. A "congratulations" to my mom meant yelling it so the whole neighborhood could hear and calling all our relatives to let them know. It makes me wonder what would have happened if I weren't accepted.

I smiled while I read the paper over and over again, and watched my online status change from "pending" to "accepted" as the days passed. Everyone in the NCCC facebook group who stuck through the long wait posted with so much excitement saying that they were accepted and I followed suit.

This is the day I decided to change my life completely.

The last time I had sex was some time in September of 2008 right before my ex dumped me over the phone (it's funny how guys always dump you right after they fuck you). From that day forward, I decided to refrain from sex completely- no oral sex, no vaginal sex, no dry humping- nothing. I wanted to remain celibate which was my dream ever since I first had sex at the age of 17.

Outside of being celibate, I also decided to become a guardian angel to any person I met who was being bullied. I, more than anyone else, should know how much it hurts to be bullied. The extent of it was far worse and continued for much longer than what I squeezed into a few paragraphs in 10 minutes on Blogger. I know how much it hurts for someone to belittle you and call you names and everyone around does nothing but watch and laugh about it. I want to be that person who stands up for them and stops the bullying.

The start date for AmeriCorps NCCC was February 2, 2010.

I celebrated my 21st birthday, bought all my needed essentials, and boarded a plane headed to Vinton, IA- a town I never knew existed and not even knowing exactly what the fuck I would be doing there or who the fuck I would meet.

But that is what made it so exciting :)

The Beginning

"I'm sorry. If I had a job, this wouldn't happen."

My mom cried onto my shoulder while she hugged me. We just found out that in order to join AmeriCorps NCCC, I would need to pay $25 to get my finger prints to send to the AmeriCorps headquarters in Iowa. She held me so tight and I could feel my shirt starting to get wet from her tears. My mom was a successful insurance agent at a well known insurance company. Things were doing so good, she quit to start her own insurance business. This was a few months before the big recession hit. We found out that the company she got the business loan from was a scam and she was never able to successfully start her business and, instead, left us with a bunch of debt. This was her second year without a job. At night I could hear her crying through the bedroom walls and I would cry with her without her knowing.

Joining AmeriCorps NCCC became my life goal. I thought, "I don't want to be a nobody like my ex. If I join AmeriCorps, I will make my parents proud."

If I didn't pay the $25 and send the prints in in time, I wouldn't be able to join. I remember the days when $25 used to be nothing, but now it's everything. $25 now to us might as well be $50.

We pulled a desperate move. I woke up one day and my mom had a crazy look in her eye. Crazy with joy. We rummaged the house for anything we thought was valuable and stacked it all up in the back of the car. My sewing machine (that I never learned how to use, but somehow never wanted to give away because "I will learn one day", I would say), my guitar (never learned how to use this either, but kept it for the same reasons), some early 90's looking fax machine, and my mothers most prized possession: her mothers jewelry. I looked at her surprised with a "please don't sell it expression on my face" and she nodded with a smile. My grandma passed away a few years ago and my mom has been torn up about it ever since.

We hopped in the car and, for the first time in our lives, rode to a pawn shop and one of those "We buy gold here!" shops. We went in just as fast as we came out. Apparently, the jewelry isn't worth the shit off our shoes and the rest totaled to barely $25.

I'm not selling my prized guitar (from Walmart, btw) for $10, I thought.

We turned up our nose and jumped back in the car with much less excitement than we started with. We were hoping for at least $100. When we got home, we looked at each other and laughed.

Me, the college drop out, and, my mom, the unemployed senior. We never in our lives thought that we would live like this. Pretty soon, the trash man stopped coming to pick up our trash because we couldn't pay him anymore so we had to take our own trash to a place to dispose of it. Our lights went out at times, we had no food, and the hot water stopped working. It sounds depressing, but I always saw lights out days as family fun days. I loved curling up in a blanket reading by candlelight and talking with my family. When the lights go out, people change.

We lived paycheck to paycheck on my dad's salary. He was the only person paying the bills in out 3 person household (my brother moved out). To make matters worse, my dads health was slowly declining and he could barely walk on his right leg- the very leg that he uses for work. My dad drives for a living for a healthcare company. If my dads leg goes out, we are through.

Luckily, we were able to manage $25 out of my dads paycheck to get my finger prints and send them into AmeriCorps NCCC, but did they arrive in time?

I received an e-mail from AmeriCorps telling me that my application was declined.

My whole world fell apart when I read that. Which brings me back to my mom crying on my shoulder telling me this wouldn't have happened if she had a job. I cried with her and told her it wasn't her fault. We did all we could do. I called AmeriCorps to see if they may have made a mistake and, for a second, I almost started to believe in God again.

They actually admitted to making a mistake on my application and changed my "decline" status to "pending". My family breathed the biggest sigh of relief and it was such a happy moment. Pending isn't accepted, but anything is better than declined.

Before the Beginning, Part 2

He screamed through the phone. So loud, my friends could hear because they were sitting right next to me. "GET A JOB!" The voice is my boyfriend, the one who made me happy. The one who dropped out of college and has nothing to do all day but smoke weed and a dead end part time job at a plant nursery. I get a call a few days later, "I have good news and I have bad news: The bad news is that I'm breaking up with you and the good news is that we can still be friends."

 Why would I want to be friends with a guy who cheated on me?

My voice is smooth. I say "ok" and hang up. I successfully pulled another one of my famous silent cries- cries so silent no one would ever notice you were crying if they weren't looking at you. It took me years to master this art. Afterwards, to soothe his guilty conscience, he sends me a text telling me how awesome I am.

Why did you cheat on me if I'm so awesome?

 Being called awesome right after a guy cheats on me and dumps me after putting me in the friend zone is something I've grown used to. Because of this, I've grown a hatred for the word "awesome".

I lost my boyfriend and my friends continued to bully me. It was final exam week and I was seated in my desk in my algebra taking the final exam that would determine my fate. If I failed, I would be a college drop out like my ex. If I passed, I would transfer schools and live a successful life. The papers were passed out and I dove in to answer the first question. The WTF expression was all over my face. "That's ok. Maybe the next question will be better." Nope. I actually flopped over on my desk and did another one of my famous silent cries right in the middle of class thinking that I'm going to get kicked out of college and become a prostitute because isn't that what they teach you in school? If you don't graduate, you're nothing.

The exam was over and the teacher passed out little folded sheets of paper. If you passed, it would read "Congratulations, you passed!" in big bold letters. I took a second to open mine, but I had a good idea what my fate would be.

Mine read "Congratulations, you passed! failed!"

Passed was scratched out and failed was written next to it in pen.

I was given the chance to appeal it and the only way to do that was to drive 3 hours from my house near Atlanta to Tifton, GA to speak with the school board in person. Despite our money situation, my parents made the 3 hour drive to Tifton in a desperate attempt to save my life. My mom said a prayer over me and the person I talked to over the phone before making the drive sounded 200% positive that my appeal would get approved because, outside of those two classes, my grades were great, but, within 10 minutes of arriving to Tifton, the receptionist told us that my appeal was denied. We saved up gas money and drove 3 hours for less than 1 minute of conversation of what could have been told to us over the phone. I never even got the chance to speak with the school board.

My fate was decided. I was kicked out of college and banned from attending all colleges within the state of Georgia (excluding technical colleges and private colleges) for 3 years.

And, in a sick way, I was happy because I knew this meant I was free to donate one year of my life to serving in AmeriCorps NCCC.

And no more math!

Before the Beginning, Part 1

I knew I wanted to join AmeriCorps NCCC the very second I read about it when I was 19 years old in college in a little town in Southern Georgia called Tifton.

Little did I know that dream would soon become my life and it would be the only thing I would think about from waking up early for my 7am algebra class (failed that class horribly, by the way... Who the fuck in their right mind signs up for a 7am algebra class?) to going to bed at 2am while laughing to Adult Swim and cursing my laptop for not being fast enough to play Second Life along with all the other cool kids when I should have been writing my 10 page English paper (Never wrote it... failed that class too by the way).

If you hadn't already guessed, I was well on my way to flunking college. I didn't know that at the time though. I was young, I was in college, and, in my mind, I had every right to fail a class... or two seeing as I did so good in school for 19 years of my life. In every nerds life, this is a turning point. A point of self realization. I learned early in life that math would hate me and I would hate it in return just as much, if not more. It's not the failing math that surprised me; it was the fact that I failed English. It was the first time in my life I had failed any class outside of math and it was the first time I didn't genuinely enjoy reading.

I stopped reading that year. And I stopped drawing. On my 20th birthday, I stopped believing in God. My friends threw me a birthday party which was much like a going away party because we were transferring out of the two year college scene (or, at least, that is what I planned to do). When I say "friends", I use this word very lightly and only to let you, the reader, know that I once had a close acquaintance with these people. These people are the reason why I stopped believing in God and also probably the reason why I failed English for the first time. Yes, I'm blaming others for my down falls in life. Shoot me.

They managed to bring out my depression to the fullest extent and what was so dumb about it is that I let them. I intentionally hung around people who made me feel like shit and bullied me on a daily basis. It started off nice, like most relationships and ended horribly, like most relationships. I distinctly remember crying in my dorm room at night praying to God to make them stop bullying me, but my prayers were never answered. All throughout the party, I hear nothing but murmurs and whispers about my weight and how much of a slut I am and how big my nose is and how old I look.

I was the college slut and they made sure to make sure that I knew that. I trusted the wrong guy my freshman year and ended up sleeping with him. It was the 3rd time in my life I had sex and it was my first time having sex with a black guy (it hurt like hell because his dick was so huge). It was completely out of my character, but what are the college years for? My whole life I've always been the "good girl" or the "nice girl" or the "quiet girl". Why would I want to go into college with the same image I've had my whole life?

Newsflash: College is nothing like how they make it seem in those dumb cliche college theme Hollywood movies.

I liked him and decided to ask him out one day. We were texting back and forth. I would send a text and he would text back within a second or two. Two minutes tops. This is when I decided to ask him if he would date me and suddenly the texts stopped. He never replied back. I waited all night for his answer and cried myself to sleep that night in my dorm room. I dated an asshole in high school who ended up cheating on me. From then on, I promised myself that I would dump a guy and move on if he made me cry so I did. I didn't want my college years to be filled with tears so I found another guy who made me happy. Of course, he got mad that I moved on and told the whole school what we did thus further proving his doucheness and further delving me into a world full being called ho, slut, and whore on the daily.

It doesn't hurt anymore.

Outside of that, I was bullied for my religious beliefs or, should I say, my none religious beliefs. I considered myself to be an agnostic theist at the time meaning that I believed in a God, but admitted to not knowing who this God is. Everyone in southern Georgia is a Christian and, if you aren't, they consider you to be a devil worshiper. So, not only was I a slut, I was also a devil worshiper. They (those "friends" I told you about) told me to come to their dorm room to watch a movie with them and I agreed because what are friends for? I happily walked on over to their dorm room at midnight and sat on their sofa thinking it would be another Tyler Perry movie which is bad in itself, but it was worse.

They had me watch one of those dumbass brainwashing Christian movies like Left Behind. Only people with no life watch those type of movies. I was friends with no life idiots. Before the movie started, they called me a "heathen" and had me watch the scene where the Christian characters were belittling a non-religious character. Of course, the non-religious character was evil and had no morals or care for human life. He threw tables around and acted like an animal while the Christians were pure, whole hearted good people who tried to "help" him. To make it worse, all throughout the movie, they asked me questions like "Do you hear that? Huh? Huh?!" when they mentioned scenes about going to hell and asked me if I wanted them to explain Christianity to me.

Why do Christians always think people don't know what Christianity is? Christianity is one of the top three leading world religions; how would anyone not know what Christianity is? Did it ever occur to Christians that some people just purposely and intentionally choose not to believe in it?

For the first time in my life, I actually cried because my friends are so stupid.

I cried and called my mom in anger trying to explain to her the situation, but she is Christian too so it was hard for her to comprehend. Christian or atheist, Buddhist or Wiccan, we all can feel pain and we all know how we want to be treated. No matter what your beliefs are, you know right from wrong and no matter how much Christians try to cover up their bad behavior with the word "help" when they're pushing their beliefs on someone or saying they do it out of "love" when they hate on homosexuals, they know they wouldn't want to be treated that way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Intention of this blog

I almost forgot about this blog (again). I thought about deleting it (again), but, instead, I might just actually write out my whole AmeriCorps NCCC experience. You know, what this blog was intended for in the first place. I'm going to use the material I write on here to publish in my zine I plan on making. I have another blog; a personal blog. It's Yes, it's a Wordpress blog. Writing both on Blogger and Wordpress at the same time will also help me determine which blog website is better. So far, Wordpress is winning.

On Olivia Rochelle, I write about everything relating to my life. However, on this blog, I will only focus on AmeriCorps NCCC. Got it? Good. I also have another blog on Blogger called Of Cow and Men which focuses on my experience with Job Corps.

Read about it if you're interested in either programs or zines in general.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A note to future AmeriCorps members: Don't make a blog about your 'AmeriCorps adventures' because, more than likely, you'll be too damn busy to actually ever write in it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm extremely late writing this. I know.

My brother told me: "What is this crap? Delete it."

I was going to delete it and start a new AmeriCorps blog on Xanga, but I just returned from Xanga in horror this very second. I'm literally panting in anger. Xanga is filled with nothing but "I'm a virgin" this and "sluts" that and freakin' ManCouch. So much bullshit. So much sexism. So much male patriarchy. I had to come back to Blogger. My head almost exploded. I am terrified for our future generation.

Now, back to AmeriCorps NCCC. This will be quick and painless. No one will probably understand this, but me. Whenever I talk to any AmeriCorps outsiders like my friends and family they just look at me like I'm dumb and say "Oh, that's nice sweetie." I know what they're thinking: "WTF is CTI??", "Is Iowa even a state? Who the fuck lives there?!", "You're wasting your time!"

Every time I talk to someone about AmeriCorps, I'm abruptly interrupted with an "Oh, that's cool..." then a continuation of what cool thing THAT person is doing with THEIR life.

This is the only place I can talk (write, actually) about it freely. So here goes.

I kissed my family goodbye.

I got on a plane.

I arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

I got a tour.

Corn fields, corn fields, corn fields.

Now- BAM- I'm at the Iowa Braille School (aka IBS... Funny, no?) in Vinton, Iowa.

I fucking love my team- Maple 6! They're the coolest people ever. I'm the media representative. I write articles. I do things.

We just got back from a 6 week long project in Hamilton, Indiana. We worked with The Nature Conservancy to rid wetlands and other areas of invasive plants such as Cattails, Autumn Olive, and Asian Bush Honeysuckle... but mostly Cattails. I can't stress Cattails enough. They were everywhere. It was hard, but very rewarding.

It was the first time I had ever been to Indiana. I got called a nigger for the first time, and someone's shoes got stolen, and I got kissed by some old pervert at the bar. Exiciting, eh?

At least I got to hold a snake.

Herald Republican article

Vinton Today article

Our next project is in Dubuque, Iowa. We'll be holding tours for the public at a Museum/Aquarium... Oh, and we'll be making floor mats out of Cattails. Kawinkidink, much? How ironic -_-

I am looking forward to this :)