Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Making our move

Dan and I spent labor day weekend moving into our first truly joint apartment in Capitol Hill, DC. It is fun that neither of us will have to make duplicate keys for the other. It’s a one bedroom apartment with a view of pretty flowering trees from a bedroom window. The kitchen and bathroom are small and the bathroom has one of those claw bathtubs with a wrap-around shower rod that requires two curtains. Impressively, we have not yet managed to flood the bathroom while showering. The apartment is within walking distance to Eastern Market (awesome farmer’s market and also a metro stop) and to Union Station. We (I) hired movers so that I did not have to carry the freakin’ huge couches up the 3 flights of stairs (walk-up). All of our stuff was in our apartment by 1pm Saturday but then Dan and I spent the rest of the day rearranging things and arguing about how many book shelves and dressers we need to buy. Yesterday, we completed the Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target trifecta — no, we still do not have matching curtains or rugs, but we did have plenty of other things to schlep up the stairs. After dinner we started the daunting task of building the world’s biggest wardrobe from Ikea. We were surprised to discover that our 2.5 hour time estimate only got us half way through the project. We are impressively sore and tired. But we are looking forward to having our apartment put together and finally having some time to explore the neighborhood and do other “DC things” like take a walk on the mall. Once Dan has re-registered his car and we have our new licenses, Dan has vowed to never drive again and has also limited his range to anywhere within 4 metro stops of our apartment. Luckily, this does put him within range of my work, but might complicate getting to the airport.

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welcome to my new blog

At least I accomplished something tangible in my seven weeks off this summer. Not that I would ever be such a nerd as to spend five hours editing my sidebar (or 10). Unfortunately, it will make my nickname of “last millennium Erin” not as fitting. At any rate, explore and enjoy. Check out the tabs at the top, if you are interested, and take a look at the sidebar (not that I spent much time on it.) Many thanks to Dan (like batman for computers) for putting up with me as I learned some more of the intricacies of html, sighed in despair as a new page copied entirely in Chinese and threatened to throw my pretty macbook out the window.

Cheers, Erin

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done, next!

It’s official. I will be starting a new job at the end of the month. The public health job market was not as bad as I had feared and I actually ended up with a couple of options. But the votes are in and the decision has been made. I will be working in public health preparedness in DC. The position is with Project Public Health Ready (PPHR) at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). I will be moving to DC in stages, taking a first load out before my first day of work and returning to Boulder before the end of Dan’s lease to empty the apartment of the rest of our stuff and ship it all east. Dan will be moving out to meet me sometime in August (step 1: place Dan in burlap sack. step 2: drag him across the country.) I am excited to be moving forward, but not at all excited to be putting all of my belongings back into boxes. Two months is not enough time between moves. Thanks for all the help and advice during my job search.

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Famous, again

Having a few weeks off, 6 specifically, allows one time to do some things that she may not have gotten to otherwise. This is especially true, because for the first time in years, I am not using this long period off to skip out of the country. In speaking to friends who have also taken furloughs, I have determined that perhaps because Americans scoff at the idea of short workdays and five weeks of vacation common in other developed countries, it becomes necessary to take prolonged periods of time off, not every year mind you, but perhaps every few years. On top of all of those things I mentioned doing in a previous post such as selling things on both craigslist and amazon.com and submitting a link on reddit to drive people to my blog, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post, and what do you know, it got published:) The letter is on the proposed redesign plans for DIA (you need to scroll to the second letter). The biggest tasks, besides finding a good job, that I want to get done before my entrance back into the real working world, are to clean out my gmail inbox and update the look on my blog. I have made progress on both, but neither are done and I am beginning to feel the pressure of the end of my furlough approaching. However, I have spoken with others who have taken similar amounts of time off, who had similar small tasks they hoped to accomplish, and failed to, and still haven’t. However, those people still smile thinking about the things they didn’t get done and the time off they enjoyed sitting by a pool. So, while I hope to get a few more things done, I am trying to remember to occasionally enjoy a margarita on a sunny roof, which I got a chance to do yesterday, to celebrate my little brother’s 23rd birthday.

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Re: “DIA redesign in works”

Re: “DIA redesign in the works”
Don’t take the Great Hall away from unscreened DIA travelers. Many of the redesign plans, such as adding a new FasTracks train station to the airport, would be beneficial for both Denver residents and tourists. However, prohibiting unscreened passengers from entering the Great Hall would be a tremendous disappointment for Colorado residents and add little benefit to those traveling through DIA. Currently, the Great Hall provides an opportunity for grabbing a meal with loved ones and saying a calm goodbye in contrast to the chaos that is usually found around the ticket counters. Denying Coloradans these dining and service options would be a substantial burden. Further, few transfer passengers would use the services in the Great Hall. When arriving in unfamiliar airports, passengers make their way to their gate as quickly as possible, and look for dining and shopping options only once they arrive at their concourse. DIA should be prepared for the current redesign plans to actually decrease use of the services in the Great Hall, as Coloradans are unable to use the services, and transfer passengers continue to prefer those services located on their concourse.

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breaking the silence

It’s been awhile between posts. Try to be understanding though as life became a whirlwind. In the last month I have finished what may well be my last set of finals EVER, completed my job at Columbia Intramurals including helping to find my replacement graduate assistant, had one of my greatest friends and her husband out for a visit in NYC (during which my tour guide skills peaked. The first day, I took them to both Columbia campuses, boat basin, time square, and dropped them off at the Empire State building in time to catch the sunset from the top), became an official master of public health (an event Dan was kind enough to attend), attended my little sister’s high school graduation, and returned to NYC to trash and sell some of my things, clean all of my belongings free of bedbugs, pack 6 suitcases and 15 boxes, ship the boxes, and fly across the country with Dan, a carnivale mask from Italy and a bamboo plant among our carry-on items. I am now somewhat settled into to our new and short-term leased apartment in Boulder. Spot made the move to Boulder with me and is currently curled up on the other couch. Living with Dan is a nice change from being 1,800 miles away and Spot is loving all the cheezits that Dan slips her. Our one bedroom apartment that would have been spacious by any standards on Manhattan feels like a slightly tight fit with two people and a 55 pound dog, though the projector and the drum set for rockband actually don’t take up much space.

I am working on figuring out my next move and there are some exciting opportunities. I have a nice old desk from my mom where I work on putting my life into place. For now, I am in Colorado, I have my feet up, a glass of red wine in my hand, and I am working on preventing the rest of my hair from turning gray. (Dan found a few gray strands soon after I moved in. I am not sure what brought them on, but I am considering them a sign of the wisdom I gained from two years of graduate school in New York City.)

I miss certain things about the city. I miss the sense of community I had in the “little Dominican Republic” of Washington Heights. While the grocery clerks here smile and are polite, none of them call me “mami” grab my hand and tell me to consider them a friend, repeating it twice to make sure that I understand their Spanish. The overworked nephew of the man who owns the bodega on my corner got tears in his eyes and asked why I hadn’t told him sooner that I was leaving when I went in to get my last fistful of cash for my last cab out of NYC. He said he would have needed at least a day to plan a proper goodbye. I miss the bodegas. The other day I wanted a diet coke, but there was no way to walk to the corner and buy one. You can’t even buy a 6-pack at Safeway anymore, 12-pack or bust. Dan moved himself into a new apartment, attended my graduation, attended a friend’s wedding and helped move me across the country all in the span of 2 weeks, so Dan and I were missing a few basics, like a can opener, at the new apartment. When we got ready to make the tomato soup, there was no way to run to the 24-hour bodega and grab a can opener. I miss the coconut ice creams and the orange juice and condensed milk drinks (morir sonandos) available on every corner. I miss having thousands of restaurants available on urban spoon within .2 miles of wherever I am standing, though Boulder does alright for itself.

It has been a crazy end to a semester and an era. And I have learned a lot. For instance: The largest box USPS will ship is 25x25x30 and 70 pounds. Our box was 25x25x28. They measured it three times, but in the end and after talking to a manager, the women shipped the box and it arrived in a lightening-paced 5 days. USPS will ship large tupperware containers without the containers being in a box. I learned that the feet on couches are actually really important to how the couch feels when you sit on it. I finally learned how to sell things on both craigslist and amazon.com. I learned that some boxed wine isn’t bad. I learned how to submit a link on reddit, and drove 49 people to my blog over two days to read about vegetables in the WIC program. Lastly, a hammer and a screwdriver can be used to open a can.

There has been a lot of debate about whether graduate school is worth the cost. See “The Impending Demise of the University,” and also “The End of the University as we Know it,” (the starting line of which I love, “GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning.”) I haven’t completely formed my opinions of graduate school and I think some of it will have to do with reflection, where I end up from here, and the real pain of making my substantial student loan repayments (despite having worked a job that covered about half my costs). Students should not have to borrow at 6.8%, and hopefully our current government will reform student loan policies. But I know that I have a much greater understanding of where policy comes from and how health policy works or fails to work. I sat spellbound listening to professors, genuine leaders in the field of health policy and prolifically published, who didn’t even draw on the blackboard but just talked out at a room full of students over their notes. My favorite power points contained only key words or interesting pictures, but I often preferred the professors who didn’t use them. What I also know is that, on the outset, it seems that my earning potential has doubled (which was actually a pleasant surprise.) As Dan points out, my earning potential would have increased if I had stayed in the workforce as well, but I remain doubtful that it would have doubled. Dan contends this is partly due to my worthless undergraduate degree, but history taught me where we came from and how we got here, and gives me insights into politics and policies. I think that one of the things that adds value to my particular graduate degree is that an education in health policy is not generally available at the undergraduate level.

Other numbers:
Amount made from selling belongings on amazon, craigslist and through friends: $150
Rough value of things thrown out or given away: $400
Total shipping costs: $679.81 including the baggage fees for checked luggage (admittedly, not all of the boxes have arrived yet, but most have.)
The next step: Priceless

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I will never be an olympic gymnast

I have officially passed the quarter-century mark.

I am feeling the pressure mentally as the end of my most likely years to create something genius approaches, and physically because I fell on the ice this week while hiking. I couldn’t help but think that in my younger years I either wouldn’t have stopped paying attention to what I was doing or I would have been able to shift my balance and prevent the fall.

Career options such as Olympic gymnast, Olympic volleyball player, heck, even Olympic soccer player are vanishing and little pieces of the world are slipping out of the palm of my hand.

My mom kindly came to NYC to reminisce of her day entering the hospital to give birth to her first kid and to help me over this particular hump. I was throwing my hands in the air and lamenting that my life was almost decidedly a quarter over (and that is if I am lucky and nothing goes wrong) and I hadn’t done anything yet. My mom looked at me and said, “You grew up. What else were you expecting to do?” It was reassuring to hear my mom say that those first 25 years may actually have been some of the more difficult years, that growing up really isn’t as easy as people make it out to be. I have the next 50 years to do “something.”

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