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A free minute

I finally have a little bit of free time now so I am going to keep up with my new years resolution and post again. Since my last post I have been so busy it is insane. The MLK day of service went off really well. We ended up having over 50 volunteers show up to help out and we made an amazing soul food dinner for the vets. The speakers that we had were pretty good and had some great advice for vets, but I wish we had allotted more time for them to speak because the whole roundtable discussion part of the event seemed kind of rushed. I ended up shuttling homeless veterans from the home front, the vets village, and the shelter to and from the event which took up most of my time and gas money, but it was totally worth it to see them enjoying the evening, having a good meal and hanging out with other vets. Some of the guys even teared up a bit when the whole conference center gave them a standing ovation and told them how much they appreciated their sacrifice.

After the MLK day celebration was wrapped up I almost immediately got to work on getting ready for our annual point in time homeless count.  The count ended up going even better than we expected it would. We had over 100 volunteers show up for the count, and we were able to get enough donations to give everyone who participated a 5 dollar gift card to McDonalds and a backpack filled with basic survival items. Over the course of the three day ordeal we managed to count over 1000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Tallahassee area. This may not seem like a lot to some people, but for a small college town like Tallahassee that is a completely unacceptable number. I pray that we are able to help some of these guys get the help that they need and get them into housing. I just wish that there was more that I could do.

Anyway, I'm exhausted right now so I think I am going to take a 16 hour nap. I might go into more details later, but for now sleep beckons.

New years resolution

So one of this years many new years resolutions for me is to keep a journal going so here I am once again. To be perfectly honest I check this thing like every other day just to see what some of my old friends are up to, but now I'm also going to be doing this for myself. I'm not going to try and catch everyone up with what is going on in my life because that would take forever, so i'm just going to jump right in and let anyone who reads this other than me fill in the blanks with their imagination.

Today was a pretty busy day for me. I got up around 10 a.m. and got ready for work. When I checked my e-mail I found out that I had a conference call at noon with my vista supervisor that i had to be involved in. This call was THE MOST BORING THING EVER. It was all about using social media to get coverage for the things that we do as vistas. I hated this because I did not join Americorps for recognition, I joined it to help homeless veterans.

The other focus of the call was about getting coverage for our MLK day project. This year we were supposed to do a special day of service in memory of Dr. King's legacy and dream. This was actually pretty hard for me because Dr. King was a pacifist and I serve veterans who by their very nature are not pacifists. I'm actually pretty proud of the project that I came up with though. I am going to be having a dinner at a local community center where several prominent veterans from the community will be doing a round table discussion on what being a veteran means to them. I invited all of the homeless vets from the local shelters, the veterans village, the home front, the VFW, the American legion, and the collegiate veterans association, so this event will not only feed the homeless vets from the community, but will also foster a sense of brotherhood between all of the local vets, and brotherhood was kinda sorta one of Dr. King's messages.

After the conference call I went to a meeting about our annual homeless count that we are doing at the end of the month. This count is going to be the biggest one that the BBHC has ever done and hopefully the most accurate one ever. I have been scouting out homeless camps all month letting the guys know that we will be coming by to count them. The more accurate a count that we have the better funding we will get to help them out. I have also been begging and whoring myself around town to various businesses trying to get donations of hygiene items, gift cards, and food items so that when we come to these camps we come with gifts. Hopefully if things go right we might even be able to get some of these guys into housing with the 100000 homes grant we got this year.

After the meeting was a going away party for one of my bosses. We called it the ice cream anti social because Shelly is kind of an anti social lady. This ended up actually being VERY FUN. We had ice cream with like a million different toppings which is always fun, but the best part was that we all gave Shelly a big group hug. Shelly HATES being touched so she was totally freaking out.The pics are going to be on facebook and they are totally hilarious.

That was pretty much it for today. After work I had dinner with Reba at a Mexican place that she loves, and now I am chilling at home about to watch some netflix before bed. Later world.

Update time

Boy, this thing is harder to keep up with than I remember. I just cant seem to find the time to update it like I want to. Well, it is now officially veterans day, yay for me and yay for anyone else who has served their country. I have plans to go out tonight with my best friend Marcus and hit up all of the places which are offering us free food, and then going on an epic "drinkining" to celebrate. I even switched days with Reba at work so that I could go out and celebrate properly. I think I might even go out to the parade in town and march with the homeless veterans from the veterans village project. They really are a great group of guys, and it is a shame that despite them risking their lives for their country they have ended up homeless. I try to do everything that I can for those guys, but I just wish that I could do more. The big bend homeless coalition is opening up a free housing complex for homeless veterans called the home front later this month, and I am looking forward to doing some of my internship providing case management for these guys and hopefully helping them get access to the services that they both need and are entitled to.

Speaking of work I joined a biggest loser competition with the other employees for the next three months. Everyone put 20 dollars into the pot, and the biggest loser after the three months gets 70 percent of it, second place gets 20 percent, and 3rd place gets 10 percent. We have to put in one more dollar for every pound we gain as well, so at the end of this the winner should get somewhere around 200 dollars. I joined in mostly to support Reba who is trying very hard to lose weight, but also because I need to get back down to around 190 pounds for the army, and when I weighed in I was at 215. Reba and I have been going to the gym together at least twice a week, and have changed our diets greatly so hopefully we will get the results that we want. I will be sure to keep you posted on that.

The internship is going fairly well I suppose. I am kind of bored with it right now actually because I still do not have any clients to work with. My first client has been a no show for our first two meetings, and I am getting a little frustrated. Well, I guess that is just one of the downsides of doing outreach work with the homeless. I spoke to my mentors about my frustrations, and we came up with some more tasks for me to do until we can get the client situation sorted out so hopefully I will not be bored next week.

Halloween was fun. Reba spent over two hours putting on my zombie makeup and if I do say so myself it looked great. Almost too good in fact because I scared many of the younger trick or treaters who came to my house. After the kids stopped coming around my friends Dave, Marc, and I went out to a bar for drinks. The bar was packed with people which sucked and was yet cool at the same time. I got to meet some new people, talked with some old friends I have not seen in a while, saw some boobies, got into a fight with a pirate, and generally had a great time. The only real problem was I had to have Dave and Marc smack me around every now and then to remind me that I was engaged because of all of the beautiful girls in their very slutty costumes. I even ran into my boss from work which was interesting. He is actually younger than me, but he has a masters in social work so he is my boss. We have a strange relationship, I like to hang out with him personally and would like to be his friend, but when we are at work he has to revert from friend mode to boss mode which is not fun. As far as bosses go though he is a pretty cool guy I guess though.

Everything else is pretty mundane stuff, work, school, and internship so I will spare you all the boring details. I guess that is it for tonight then. Happy veterans day all.

A kind of lame halloween party

So I had Friday night off this week because I made a deal with my friend Jose to switch my Friday for his Sunday so that I could go to Reba's sister Becky's Halloween party. Long story short the whole thing kind of sucked. First off the party proper got canceled because one of the water mains to the house busted and we had to shut off the water. Then when I finally got to the party it was only me, Becky, Reba, and Reba's friend lyndsay(along with her three demon spawn children). Luckily I brought my dog Pepper to the party so the three kids chased her around the lawn for a few hours until they were all tired. When it was time for the children to leave they threw massive hissy fits which I would have gotten the crap kicked out of me for at their age. Their mother is such an aweful parent that she just lets those kids run around like wild creatures and does not care at all. She is there physically, but really does absolutely no actual parenting and it really pisses me off.

Anyway, after that I popped in Halloween 4&5, and Hellraiser 7 to watch throughout the night as I drank my case of beer until I eventually passed out. Now I am here at work yet again, but hopefully actual Halloween night will be much more fun. I bought some great Zombie makeup which Reba has said she will put on for me, and then I am going to go out to the Bar with Dave and Marcus.

Cliffs notes

It has been about a week since my last post and I am sorry about that, but my computer crapped itself and needed to be fixed, so here is just a cliffs notes version of what has been going on in my life thus far.

I had a great Sunday with Reba and her sister Becky. We ate Mexican at el jaliscos which is always nice especially since they has 2 for 1 margaritas. We then watched the walking dead which is AMAZING, and if you are not watching it then you definitely should be. After that we carved pumpkins, and for the first time I used one of the pumpkin carving kits instead of just doing the triangle eyes and buck toothed jack-o-lantern. We saved the seeds from the pumpkins, and at the party on Friday we plan to bake them which should be fun as well.

I had a meeting with my professor and one of my internship mentors on Wednesday where we discussed my progress in the program. Long story short I am doing fairly well. I finished my learning plan for the semester early and should be starting with actual clients on Tuesday. I am so excited about starting with actual clients. I have been doing theory for so long that I can hardly wait to actually start my practice.I should have 2 clients of my own, and I will be running a support group with about 6 clients in it as well.

I did my mid term exams for all of my classes this week, which I think I aced, but it is killing me waiting for my professors to give me back my grades.

I spoke to the Army medical recruiter about their masters in social work program and unfortunately I missed the October 1st deadline, but he sent me the packet for everything that I need and I should start the process in June. He answered a lot of my questions which put Reba even more at ease with my decision. I will be a 2nd lieutenant during the entire school process which is 14 months, and then I will have to give the army 62 months after that. Fort Sam Huston and San Antonio look like amazing places, but I am probably going to be too busy to really enjoy them. I will be making 3,501 dollars a month as an O-1 with four years prior enlisted and the BAH for San Antonio for an O-1 is 1,341 dollars a month. I am not even sure I will know what to do with myself with all of that money. I will be living off post and driving into work which makes Reba happy because that means she can have her sister move in with us. She was worried about moving somewhere and not knowing anyone, so this makes her very happy.

My friend Jose from work had to wipe my computer completely clean and install a new OS which sucked, but he managed to save my important documents which makes me happy. I would just die if I had to re write up all of that homework.

I think that just about sums up all of the important stuff for this past week. Now I am at work and if things go good for me I am going to watch Pan's Labyrinth. I still have yet to see this movie, and it just came to me from netflix. Well, goodnight all.

A Good Day

Nothing really special at all happened today, but it was a good and quiet day which I have learned to cherish. Today started with me for some strange reason waking up a full two hours before my alarm was set to go off. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE to sleep in, and that I frequently abuse the snooze button on my alarm clock (which drives my fiance crazy lol), but this morning I woke up naturally and felt rather refreshed. It is still cold outside so I brewed myself a pot of hot green tea to drink before going out to walk the dog and face this very un-Floridian weather(global warming my ass).

After that I was going to just sit back and watch some netflix, they have Robotech which was my absolute favorite show from when I was about 6 years old, but instead I got some crazy bug up my butt and decided that the house needed cleaning. I put on my pandora radio to my favorite ska station and just blew through the house like a tornado cleaning everything in site. The kitchen, downstairs bathroom, and living room look amazing now, and I even got three loads of laundry done and did the massive pile of dishes while I was cleaning. Usually Reba is the one that does most of the cleaning in the house because I work so often, but today for some reason I did it and did not mind at all.

There is something very zen about cleaning your house. While cleaning today I was in a very calm and almost meditative state, just zoning out, listening to the music, and putting everything in exactly the right place. I can not control all of the crazy shit that goes on in my life, but the cleanliness of my house is one thing that I can control.

Needless to say when Reba arrived home she was stunned. Reba is a very practical girl to say the least, and cleaning the house for her was more of an aphrodisiac than giving her chocolates or a dozen roses will ever be, and to spare you all the details lets just say that she was VERY APPRECIATIVE.

I am at work now, but I don't even mind that because tonight is one of the rare nights when Reba and I are scheduled to work together. This rarely happens because our boss is afraid that we will screw in the office or something, which we have never done but I admit does sound like lots of fun lol, but the guy I was supposed to work with tonight called in and Reba was the only available replacement. If the residents behave themselves tonight then perhaps Reba and I can get some quality time together and just snuggle up and watch a movie or something*crosses fingers*

Well, that is it for tonight. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my life. Until next time.

What next?

First off let me start by saying HOLY SHITBALLS IS IT COLD!!! This is freaking Florida, and it is not supposed to get this cold here.

Now that that is out of the way I guess I can go on with the rest of this post. Today I took a "mental health day" from my internship. I called my mentor and fed him some line about going to the VA today for a check up that thankfully he fell for hook line and sinker. It was good to have the day off, but not having the daily grind of my internship left me with time to think which is almost never a good thing for me.

It is my senior year of college, my G.I. Bill will be running out soon, and I began to freak myself out by thinking "Well Justin, what do you do next?" It would be nice if I could just take my bachelors degree in social work and go right into the job market, but after months of searching it seems that that is not an option. It turns out that if I want a job that even resembles a career in social work I will need not only my masters degree, but a license that takes two years of clinical practice to get.

For a while I entertained the idea of just dropping my whole life and moving back to Japan to become an English teacher, but I am not sure about that working out. I have amazing memories of Japan, and love everything about the country from it's people, to it's food, and it's rich history and culture, but I have a life here in the states to think about and it's not that easy to just drop everything and leave. I have a fiance who I love with all my heart, and a whole menagerie of pets including two ferrits, a dog, and a cat who I would not be able to live without and severely doubt I would be allowed to bring with me to Japan so my search went elsewhere.

I thought about grad school after that for a long while, which seems to be the next logical choice for me but carries it's own set of pro's and con's with it. First of all would be can I even get in? FSU school of social work is one of the most competitive schools in the entire country, and I doubt whether I could get in or not. My grades were not so good while I was in my freshman and sophomore years at college doing my general ed stuff, so even with my straight A's and B's in my upper division classes I should only have around a 3.3 GPA which is barely enough to meet the minimum requirements for the program. Then of course there is the little fact of the GRE looming over my head. I have always been a good standardized test taker, but I never even took the SAT when I was in high school and I have not done any math or English classes in over two years which is pretty much all the GRE is according to the people I have talked to and I need a minimum score of 1000 in order to get into the program. Then finally there is the issue of payment. Up until now I have had the G.I. Bill to pay for my classes, but that runs out for me this year and I really do not want to finish school with a mountain of debt. Grad school is still on the table right now, but I have lots to think about.

Finally my advisor informed me about a program where the Army would send me to grad school and help me get my license if I give them a good chunk of my life in exchange. My initial reaction to this was "no way, I already went down that road with the Navy", but after thinking on it for a while this seems like the best choice for me. I realize now in retrospect that my time in the military was some of the best time in my entire life. Sure parts of it sucked, but for the most part it was an amazing experience that shaped the man that I am today. I realize that I thrive in the structure and discipline of the military lifestyle. I also have a family to think about now, and having a guaranteed job with full benefits and paid holidays is a pretty sweet setup. Plus I will be doing exactly what I set out to do in the social work field and be helping veterans. It will be weird being in the Army as apposed to the Navy (which team will I rout for during the army/navy football game?), and be even weirder being an officer( I don't think I will ever get used to being saluted...Lt. Justin Hope lol), but I think that this is the right choice for me.

I talked to Reba about it and she is scared, which I guess is understandable. She worries about moving away from her family when I get stationed somewhere, and worries about me getting deployed to a war zone, and no matter how much I talk to her about it she is always going to have these fears. My cousin Davey who is an Army vet himself is completely against the idea. He has his own reasons for thinking this way based off of his experience with the Army, ruined marriage, PTSD from combat experience, and 60 percent disability from the wear and tear of Army life on the body, and although I value his and her opinion ultimately this is going to be my decision and mine alone.

After writing all of this out I guess I have come to the decision already and I am going to join the Army and become a social worker. I am actually very excited about this decision now.It will be the start of a great new adventure for me. Maybe I will even get lucky enough to get stationed in Japan again. Now I guess I have to actually start my application packet for the program.

This journal has been more useful than I ever thought it would be. Writing stuff down really has a way of putting things into perspective for you. Well, I have spent to much time on this already and I should get back to work now. I will keep you all posted on how things go.

An angry update

I am so angry with my fiance Reba right now. She gets a call from her "friend" Lyndsey where she is all Boo-Hoo woe is me because her husband is cheating on her, so she bails on work for the night to go console her. First off I am upset because she automatically assumes that I will cover the shift for her, (we work for the same company in the same position), but because I am the doting partner that I am I tell her that I will cover the shift despite the shift ending at seven a.m. and my internship beginning at 9 a.m. Secondly I am upset because this stupid bitch Lindsey has a freak out like this every other freaking week. Either her douchebag husband leaves the house after an argument, or she has some sort of emergency and we are forced to watch her three hellion children because she cant find a babysitter, or some other stupid shit like that. I am sick of her "friend" using her like this and me getting caught up in the middle of it, she should have never gotten pregnant if she was not ready for it, and should have divorced that asshole of a husband long ago. Thirdly I am upset because after we managed to get someone else to cover the shift for her I made the comment "boy I am glad we found someone to cover the shift for you because I have had a few drinks this evening" and she jumps up my ass about being an alcoholic. As far as I know having four beers at home after a long day at work and school, when I have nothing else to do until 9 the next morning is not being an alcoholic, but then again maybe I'm wrong, according to her I'm wrong with most things. She said to me that I should not be drinking  by myself just because I can, and I told her I am not, I am drinking because beer tastes good with dinner. She also brought up these stupid hypothetical situations to back up her arguement like"What if I was stranded on the side of the road and you have been drinking all afternoon" and I told her I would call triple A which pissed her off even more. I understand that this chick has alcoholic daddy issues but give it a rest.........Man it feels good to let all of that out. I believe that is my first rant of this new journal.

Other than that little blow up Sunday night was Reba and I's date night. It did not go nearly as planned, but we still ended up having a pretty good time. I had planned to take her to a small locally owned Italian restaurant called Bella Bella, but it turns out that place is closed on Sundays. In a panic I called my dad asking him for ideas on romantic dinner locations in Tallahassee. After being berated for not calling him in over a month by both him and mom he gave me a few ideas which I immediately wrote down for future reference. We chatted for a little bit and my mom told me that my little sister is graduating college with a degree in art history in December. That is just like my little sister to show me up by graduating before me, but with a degree in art history I wonder where in the world she expects to find a job. Anyway after the call to the folks I made the decision to go with my old fallback date spot of Mori's Japanese steakhouse. I make the reservations for 6:30 knowing full well that if I tell Reba they are for 6 we will not leave until 6:30, so for once we are actually on time for something. We get in the Resteraunt and Reba tells me that she does not want to eat there, so we head back into the parking lot to try and figure out where to eat. We decide on this cheap ass little fish joint called the crystal river and we end up getting a platter for two with a side of crap legs. Reba just ate the crab legs so we had a ton of leftovers when we finally left the place to head home and watch the walking dead. It was not the date I planned on having, but still ended up being fun, especially in the end when she and I were snuggling on the couch together watching the walking dead and scream 4.

Other than those 2 events the week has been pretty normal so far. Lots of work and school. Some time this week I should be getting my first clients for my internship, and that will probably be what my next post is about. Goodbye for all now. 

service day

So, I promised myself that I would keep posting and here I am. Lol, it's 3:45 again. Same time I posted last night. Today was actually much more fun than I thought it would be. We had our service day for the homeless on campus and I was busy as hell all morning, but it was fun and informative at the same time.

All of the people from work began to trickle in starting at around 6:30 this morning, and I was immediately put to work setting up for the days events. I put out tables and chairs for the over 600 people we expected to come in, blew up balloons for decorations, helped set up the stage for the band, and helped prepare the breakfast. The guests began to arrive some time around 8:00, and they trickled in throughout the day one van at a time from the shelters in town. For the first two hours or so after that I was put to work on the registration table filling out homeless management information sheets on all of the people who came in and explaining what things we had available for them. We had showers and haircuts available for anyone who wanted them, we were giving away goody bags filled with hygiene items and other essentials such as jackets, blankets, and umbrellas, the van from the employment center was there to help the guests find jobs, the people from the health center were there to give out checkups and teeth cleanings, the people from the veterans center were there to help the homeless veterans, and about 20 other booths were set up with everything from games for the kids to condoms and std checks for the adults.

After my initial time at the sign in booth I went to get some coffee because I was freaking exhausted, and when I came back to the booth my position was filled by another volunteer so I took the time to explore all of the different booths. The people from the different organizations were very excited once they heard I was a social work student and gladly spent time speaking with me about the services they offered and handing me pamphlets to read. I spent an extended amount of time talking to the people from catholic charities who turned out to be very nice, and I spoke with them about their refugee service which a friend of mine from class Michelle is doing her internship at.

The highlight of the entire day though in my opinion was the shelter band who were playing a show throughout the event. Every member of the band is homeless and stays at the shelter, and plays an instrument which was donated to them by the Florida State school of music. They were actually very good, and played a nice mix of cover songs and original material. After one of their sets I got to speak with the guy who played the sax for the band, and he told me how music saved his life. Music was his whole life, but he also had a crack addiction and had to sell his instrument at a pawn shop to feed his habit. He was going to commit suicide a week later when the donation from the school of music came in and he was allowed to begin playing again. He was so grateful for the chance to play music again that he gave up his crack habit, and has been living clean for eight months.

I spoke with lots of the homeless people there today, and really enjoyed listening to their stories. I honestly had no idea that there were this many homeless individuals living in Tallahassee. According to the data that we picked up today we served over 800 individuals.

After speaking with some more of the guests it was around lunch time so I helped serve lunch with the other guys from work. It was nothing major, just some red beans and rice with sausage, but the guests were so happy to have a hot meal it amazed me.

After lunch I could not stay awake any longer, so I told my mentor that I was heading home early to go to bed. I walked the dog when I got home and immediately crashed out until 9:30 when I had to get up and get ready for work again. Work has been easy tonight, so I managed to catch up on some homework and even write in my journal, but now it is time for me to go because I have to go do some more rounds. I will talk to you later all.

Starting fresh

It's about 3:45 in the morning right now, and although I should be working on the massive pile of homework that I have developed, or actually doing my job as a security guard, I find myself drawn here to the livejournal. There is something very therapeutic about writing down all of my thoughts and feelings into a journal, but I always end up quiting shortly after I begin, or updating them so infrequently that it no longer even counts as a journal. This time will be different (I hope). I plan to be completely honest in this thing, and update it at least weekly no matter what.

Anyone who is reading this already knows me so there is really no need to do any back story or anything, so I am just going to jump right in. In approximately three hours the service day for the homeless community in Tallahassee begins, and although I have been working all night long I am going to be working all day helping with the event instead of sleeping like a sane person. This is my own fault though, because I volunteered for it. Why did I not learn my lesson from my time in the navy, never. again. volunteer. yourself.

I cant complain too badly though because my task supervisor for my internship has said that I can write those hours off as intern hours. 40 hours down, and only 360 more to go before I can put the craziness of this internship behind me. Since I started this damn thing I have absolutely zero time for sleep and even less time for a social life. It is really putting a strain on every aspect of my life, especially my relationship with my fiance. I only get one day off a week to spend with her, and on that day I am so damn tired all I want to do is sleep. I made special plans for this Sunday though and she and I are going to go on a date even if it kills us.

Well, I am exhausted to the point where I cant even type properly any more so I am going to sign off for now. If I get the chance in the next few days I'll tell you all how the service day went, and possibly how date night goes, but for now I just need to shut my eyes for a bit.



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