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My AmeriCorps Story
Thursday, 8 July 2004
8 new entries... Sorry, I've been slacking!!! AHHH! Sooo much has happend!!
1st Entry:

Before I reflect on my year, I just want to say that I am SO glad to be coming home. And, as stupid as it sounds, I'm a big girl now. I'm enrolled in college, I (hopefully) have found a big girl job, I'm going to be involved in as many clubs and organizations as I possibly can, and I'm hungry for knowledge. If someone would have told me how much growing up I would do in this program, I don't think I would have gone through with it. Before I came into AmeriCorps, I was a child. I acted like a child, and not to mention, I looked like a child. When I came to California, I was a cherub faced, blue eyed brunette who never wanted to grow up. All I wanted to do was play... perhaps that's why I love to babysit. Because it gives me a chance to escape the real world and play!!! I just LOVE to play and act like a kid. But, after 21 years, it's time to live. I think it happend when my reality check bounced at the begining of the year. Most of the people I live with are successful 21-24 year olds, who've graduated college and have worked in the real world. Here I was, a 21 year old college drop out who's never had a "real" job. I was a Targeteer, and an Osco employee, a Claires quitter, a Chuck E. Cheese runaway and a member of community service. I started at Claires when I was 16, and gradually switched jobs. I stayed at Osco and Target for a long time, but where did that get me?! Durring my time at Osco, I got a 20 cent raise the whole 2 years I was there. My time at Target was spent developing film for snobby housewives. My community servce was my passion though. I LOVED my volunteer jobs! Childrens Therapy Group, AWESOME! Arthritis Foundation, AWESOME! Bell ringing with Hayley, AMAZING! I love community service! Community service will always be my passion, and it'll definately be something I never give up. Now it's time to share my passion with other people. I'm trying to get a "big girl" job at a non-profit. I had my job interview at Habitat the other day! It went REALLY REALLY REALLY well, and I have a 2nd interview on the 24th. (Keep your fingers crossed.) The position is as Volunteer Coordinator... but, it's kind of decieving, because there already is a volunteer coordinator... I'd kind of be the assistant to the volunteer coordinator. Ok, I just said volunteer coordinator 4 times... wow. This is my chance to reach out to the community I live in, and share my passion with them. I will get to recruit volunteers to help me make a difference. I'm VERY excited about it, and I hope it works out. :-D Well, the cherub faced, blue eyed brunette that loved to play and never wanted to grow up who left Kansas City, is leaving as a cherub faced, blue eyed blonde who is ready grow up! :-) I can't wait to see everyone at home... as I say in every e-mail, I miss you terribly. love you!

Tara


2nd Entry:

Hope everyone had a great 4th! Mine was pretty good, 4 of my teammates and I went to San Francisco for the day. Pier 39 was a hopping place! Live bands, street performers, famous people (Lindsey Lohan, Vin Diesle, Orlando Bloom, Al Roker, Jennifer Tilly, and a few others I can't remember.) Ok, so there weren't REALLY famous people, they were just regular people who looked like famous people. Oh, did I mention the temprature was mid 60's all day?! SOOOOOOOO much better than Tucson. When we went to watch fireworks, (they started at 9:30) we went to where the sea lions are to watch them. They had 2 big barges of fireworks they were setting off under the Golden Gate. We sit waiting for the fireworks for 3 hours, and the temp drops to 56 durring that time. SOOOOO cold! Brr. Well, the fireworks went off and guess what... you all know how foggy it is in San Fran, right?! Yeah, the fog was soooo dense, and we couldn't see fireworks. we just saw the fog light up red, purple, green, blue...etc. No pretty sparkley fireworks. What a bummer. :-( Oh well, it was a really really good day! Only 17 days guys. yes!!! WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO! :-D Alright, I gotta go to lunch now. Miss you all!

Tara


3rd Entry:

Could my project have gotten any more screwy?!? We just got pulled out of our project. Our sponser was so horrible, and things just got really bad with the lack of communication at the school, and we had another miscommunication on tuesday, so we got pulled out, and that was our last day. We got to say goodbye to the kids on Wednesday, for about 30 minutes, but it was so horrible having to leave them without telling them why. The principal didn't even tell the teachers we weren't going to be there. it's a REALLY long/confusing story that I'll have to tell you all later, but, i'm glad this project is over! :-) I'm back in Sacramento again, and will be starting at the Boys and Girls Club again on Tuesday! YAY! I'm TOTALLY excited about that one, obviously. :-D Well, I can't really write much, because I have to do more job searching. :-\ How are things with you guys? I hope well. Keep smiling!

Tara


4th Entry:

Ok, so every job I've looked into is NOT working out. I'm so frustrated right now. I sent an e-mail to a company that was hiring a teacher for 0-12 year olds at a women's 12 step recovery program, and the position has been filled already. I sent an e-mail to Habitat for Humanities, and they haven't gotten back to me. I sent an e-mail to a non-profit radio station at UMKC and they haven't gotten back to me either... what am I going to do?! I have to find a job by the time I get back, or else I'm going to be in trouble. School starts shortly after I get back, and I'm VERY excited about it. I'm really really motivated to go. I want to take all these classes, but I don't know which one's I want to take first. There's so much I want to do with my life. I'm really starting to freak out about these things. My team calls it a "prelife crisis." I highlighted my hair again this weekend. I really stick out like a sore thumb... in a town that is primarily latino/a, when you see a blonde haired blue eyed girl walking down the street, you're sure to drop your jaw. The kids at school love to play with my hair, because it's different than the usual dark brown/black. They are fascinated with the fact that hair can be any other color. :-) Well, I must get going. Class has started! MISS YOU!

Tara


5th Entry:

Heeeeeeeeey!

Well, I can't believe it's already Wednesday! Holy smokes, where has the time gone?! Seriously, my time in AmeriCorps is coming to an end. (Thank God!) Only 28 days left, not including today. WOOOO-HOOOO. :-D School is going really really great. The principal is really pressing for me to stay here and work at the school, but we all know I can't do that. :-\ This weekend was an eventful one! I bought a new outfit! My FIRST new outfit that I have bought. The ENTIRE outfit... I got a skirt, a shirt, a hair tie, shoes and earings! It's sooooooooooo cute! I look like a watermellon. The outfit is bright pink and bright green. :-D It's very fun. Hm... what else... I went dancing again on Friday. I'm becoming quite the dancing fool. It's funny, cuz I used to NOT like dancing, but my hips just won't stop moving. I've become a dancing diva. We leave for Mexico soon. Puerto Pinasco. (sp) We are all REALLY excited for that. The team keeps making fun of me, because I'm kinda scared to swim in the Mexican water. If you can't drink it, what makes you think you can swim in it?! Seriously... I bought arm floaties, and put my address in them so if I float away, the coast guard can find me and send me home if I am delerious. I also bought a helmet so I don't hit my head on a rock. THey think it's all fun and games, but I'm playing it safe. *sigh* IT'll definately be a different 4th of July experience than I'm used to. I miss my family. :-( This is the 1st 4th of july i haven't been home. :-( Maybe they will bring a picture of me and hang it up so I'm there in spirit? ;-) Who knows. Well, I've gotta go look for a job and get back to class. Love you!

Tara


6th Entry:

How are you guys? I'm doing pretty dang good if I may say so myself! I finally got to go dancing this weekend! TWICE! I went to this shady club on Friday, where Sugar Ray Lenard (sp) goes. And on Saturday, I went to this college club, with like, 400 people! It was insane!!! But SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun. I LOVED IT! I used to never dance, but now... my hips just won't stop moving! Even when I'm walking up and down the stairs, I feel like I'm salsa-ing. It's great. :-D Hm... what else... My class is still marvelous. I love it still. I'm going to go crazy though, because 3 of the kids I work with are dyslexic, and I don't know how to help them, and so it's VERY frustrating! My teacher doesn't know what to do with them either, so I'm kind of up a creek without a paddle. Yikes! It's frustrating for the kids, too, cuz I don't know how to work with them. But it's working out pretty well. We all love each other. *sigh* I wish I could bring them home, too. Some of the kids tell me I'm the closest thing I've ever had to a mom. That's really hard, because it's only my 2nd week here!!! But they say they see me more than their real parents. That makes it kinda hard to be around them, BUT, the kids are so strong, and positive!!! I love it. Well, I've gotta go play a game of tag and then run the snack bar. Hope you are all doing well. Smile!


7th Entry:

Hey ya'll!

Yeah, it's me again. I'm at Kinkos right now, just chillin'. There are some things I Forgot to mention in my last e-mail that I thought people would like to know about. I moved on Sunday, and it went really really well. It took a few hours, but we managed to get done quickly. Dave was sick, I can't lift anything, and neither can Ben, so we were kinda up a creek without a paddle. But it ended up being alright. :-) I also had my first Mexican HotDog. I don't know if any of you have had those before, but omg, they are PERFECT! It's a hotdog, with baccon wrapped around it, and chille ontop, and mayonaise and mustard and avacado and onions, pickles and cheese! it's amazing!!! I also had a seatle-style hotdog! It's a turkey dog with cream cheese. Also a great meal! Hm... what else... I had this whole big list of things to write about, and I forgot them all! I went swimming today for a field trip. WELL, I didn't go swimming... I was in my uniform. But 12 kids PUSHED me in!!! Oh shoot, I gotta go... My time is up! Sorry for the random e-mail! SMILE!

Tara




8th Entry:

I LOVE SCHOOL! I look forward to school, I feel sad when I go home at night... it's wonderful. These kids are just so perfect. I'm officially named "Miss" now. NOt Miss Tara, just MISS. That's it. "Miiiiiisssssss, I have to go to the bathroom!" "miiiiiissssss, he stole my pencil!" "misssssssss, can you read me a story?!" it's wonderful. I can't wait to be a teacher. :-) So my class has grown. I have 18 kids now. 10 girls, 8 boys. I'm running/supervising 2 afterschool programs now permanantly. Cheerleading and Breakdancing! It's awesome. The breakdancers are amazing. My instructional assistant, Mr. Jesus, teaches the breakdancing, and he's awesome. We've also been doing Zumba more and more in class. I've gotten pretty good at salsa! I'm quite the hip-shaker. They said I'm ready to go to the clubs and salsa! YES! I'm excited! My teacher wants to take me out, but I'm nervous. She's the kind of girl who like, probably likes to dance more than I do, so I'm nervous to go cuz I dont' want to just stand around. *sigh* C'est La Vie. We move into our condo on Sunday! I'm excited! It's a lovely appartment, with real beds, and a pool, and we are buying a slip-and-slide. YES! Our apartment has grass... I haven't seen any grass since... San Bernardino, really. It's been nothing but brown. Oh, guys... I'm done with my ISP's, and I'm caught up on my hours!!! YAY!!!!! Time to celebrate. :-D Ok, well, I must get going. We are watching Shrek 2 today! YAY!

Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 6:36 PM CDT
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Thursday, 3 June 2004
110° and rising!!!
Yep, you read that right. It's HOT! We are doing Habitat For Humanities today, tomorrow and Saturday, so we are out in the heat ALL day. We are working with convicts. They seem pretty cool, but I was in a bad mood today, so I didn't really talk to anyone. But we work with 10 guys and the 10 girls work on the other side of the site. I applied for yet another job! I applied to be a Volunteer Coordinator at Habitat For Humanities in Kansas. It's an AmeriCorps*VISTA position, so keep your fingers crossed for that one. That's the job I had before I got accepted into NCCC, I was gunna go down and recruit volunteers in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. So, here's my chance, AGAIN. :-) I'm at the library right now while the rest of my team is doing PT. The guy at the computer next to me (he's probably in his 70's) is playing solitaire, trying to win an Oscar Mayer Weiner package... he's really into it. It's actually pretty funny. :-) Oh, I got my assignment in the school. I get to teach 2nd and 3rd grade from 8:30-3:00 EVERY day! I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO excited! Then, after school, I've got all kinds of kids, but I'm most excited about the school day. The kids are cute. OHHHH my goodness, I haven't told you about the counselor! She's HILARIOUS!!! Her name is Marcela, and she's a Latina. She's short, so she wears big shoes all the time. And she's got the Spanish/English accent, so when she talks, it's sooooo awesome!!! I love to talk to her just so she'll talk to me in her accent. "OHhhhhhhh Mah-eeee Gaaaaaaaaawd! Sees O'Clock een de mourn-eeng?" (Ooooooh my god! Six O'Clock in the morning?) "Doon't yew geet to calm to de skool" (don't you get to come to the school?) Ahhhh, i love it! She's so fun!!! She likes to go clubbing, and wants me to go with her on Saturday to a Spanish Club and go salsa dancing. My team leader and I are gunna go, I think, depending on if we get paid this weekend or not. :-) I like my new team leader a lot. She's a lot different than Megan. But I miss Megan a lot. I need a shower. I haven't showered in... 3 days. haha, gross, right? None of us have... the heat just wears us out, so when we're not working or eating or shopping, we sleep. We go to the mall A LOT! We just got our new house yesterday. It's nice, it's a green condo in a senior living area. It's air conditioned, (Thank god), has REAL beds, a patio, big closets and a pool! It's pretty... I think it's the only place in Arizona that has grass! Well, I guess I should get going. I've gotta research more lesson plans. Aye Aye Aye! Miss you.

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 5:30 PM CDT
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Friday, 28 May 2004
Four New Parts!!!
Part One:
Hey guys!!!
Well, I'm going to be starting my 3rd team next week!!! i'm not going to return to Blue 5, because of my medical condition. My stomach muscles started getting bad last week, (I've been trying to get in the habbit of doing PT again) and I started to get bad. So, I went to the doctor and he told me that I could not do the work Blue 5 will be doing, and I need to stay local so I can have a follow up visit. BUT, there aren't any teams that will be local, so I'm up a creek without a paddle! There is a team however, that I am going to be on, Blue 6. They (we) will be in Tuscon, Arizona working at a summer school. I'm pretty excited about it, as it's an education project. :-) I'm a little stressed out about the fact that it's my 3rd team. This new team has had 3 members quit the team. :-\ They are VERY loud, and sarcastic. BUT, oh well. I like a few people on the team... Rene'... I dunno if you remember me talking about her. She's awesome. The religious girl from Georgia! Very cool. And... um... yeah, that's the only one I like. The team leader is awesome... Shanna! I like her, too. But I guess the team has gotten better since the bad people have left... who knows. I'm pretty nervous though. My current team (green one) has turned out to be an AWESOME team! We mesh really well together. We go out to eat a lot, and we are gunna go to a surf competition in Santa Cruz this weekend. They include me a lot, which is really awesome. They started to cry tonight when we talked about my last day. *sigh* The kids started to cry too when I reminded them tomorrow is my last day. We are at the BGC again, YAY! I LOVE THEM! haha. I know I say that in EVERY e-mail, but I just can't say it enough. We had an AmeriCorps VS Junior Varsity basketball game today. AmeriCorps won both games... Girls and Guys. I had my old cheerleading squad out there cheering for AmeriCorps. :-D YAY! Well, I have to go... we're gunna go to Wendy's! Blue Five gets to come home tomorrow! YAY! I'm in the BGC talent show next week! I'm gunna sing with some of my little friends. They want me to sing in Hmong, but I don't speak Hmong... so we're gunna sing in english. haha. BYE GUYS! LOVE YOU!


Part Two:


Hey ya'll! I'm in Tucson now. Holy freakin' smokes... it's hot. In the 90-100 every day. :-\ We were outside for an hour and a half today, and my skin is already blistering. It's bad. I put SPF 30 suntan lotion on, too. AHHHHH. Yeah, and one of our apartments (mine) doesn't have air conditioning. We sleep ontop of our sleeping bags. aye aye aye. Hm... what else is new... yeah, my stomach is still bothering me. I need to go to the doctors soon. We've been eating a lot of Mexican food. ick. :-S Oh well. We are going swimming tonight. Over the 4th of July weekend, (if i'm still on this team) we are going to Mexico for the weekend!!! I'm pretty excited about it. We have a beach house down there, so we're gunna head out. It'll be fun times. We are going on a waterfall hike tonight for PT. It should be fun. I think we're gunna rent ATV (4 wheelers) in 2 weeks, too and go 4 wheeling in the desert. We have a lot of scorpions, tarantulas, lizards, sand... we are surrounded by mountains, desert, cactus, Mexican Runaways, and dirt. Not too special. Well, I gotta jet, cuz people want to use the computer. Love you, miss you! PLEASE send me mail. I'm feeling kinda gloomy.

Tara Swayne - Blue 6
AmeriCorps*NCCC
3427 Laurel St.
McClellan, CA 95652

LOVE YOU!!!!


Part Three:
Hey guys!

Things are going great. My body is finally adjusting to the heat. (Well, it helps that it's been cloudy this week! haha). My service hours are low, (because of all the times I've been sick this year), so I have to find a way to get extra hours. We found a way, (Justin has to get extra hours, too) and we start our new job today! It's at a community center, a lot like the Boys and GIrls Club. I'm totally excited about it. WOOOO-HOOOOOO. It'll give me an extra 3 and 1/2 hours of work a day. AND, I get out of PT for the next 6 weeks, because I'll be working 11 hours a day, 5 days a week, and 8 hours a day on Saturdays and Sunday's. If I don't get my hours up to 1700, I don't get to graduate. I'm at 1200+, and we've got 8 weeks left in the corps. YIKES! Wish me luck, guys! :-) Our Legacy weekend is next week. My team is doing Habitat For Humanity here in Tucson. I'm a little upset about it... because it's gunna be in the 100's next weekend, supposedly. I'm gunna die. Green One (my last team) comes to Tonto National FOrrest tomorrow! I'm gunna meet up with them in Pheonix in a few weeks. I'm excited! Gotta jet... meeting!

Part Four:
Hey guys... sorry I had to cut it short yesterday. We had a sudden meeting about our housing. Looks like we'll be living in the Best Western from June 15-July 8th. AHHHHHHHHHH. I hate being evicted! :-\ Guys, you'd be proud of me... I know 8 songs on my Harmonica now!!! You Are My Sunshine, Mary Had A Little Lamb, Bah Bah Black Sheep, Amazing Grace, Mary Had a Little Lamb Blues Style, Twinkle Twinkle, Jingle Bells and a little bit of Tomorrow... Shanna, Amy and I saw Shrek 2 last night. It's SOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny! You guys should see it. You'll like it. :-D Ok, so I've gotta give a few shout outs in this e-mail... Ashley, Hayley, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Amanda, congrats on graduating! Dave & Susie, have a safe trip to Hawaii! And I think that's it... OH, Karie, congrats on the new job!!! Remember that family I told you all about that I was gunna nanny for? The one in New Jersey? (Did I even tell you all?!? I think so...) Well, I declined the position, because I decided to go to school. So I referred the family to Karie, and she has accepted the job! I'm VERY excited for her, because the family seems totally awesome. YOU GO GIRL! :-) Hm... what else... I think I'm sitting next to a movie star... OH, I went to the doctor today. Turns out I've strained my stomach, (from doing too much activity) and I am not able to do ANYTHING now, and I've been put on anti-swelling medicine, because my stomach has started to bloat from it. AND, I have a urinary-tract infection. WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG?!!??? I'm up a creek without a paddle. Now I can't even work with the team next weekend at Legacy Weekend because they are building a house for Habbitat and I can't do it. :-( Ben can't either though, so I don't feel SO bad. Oh crap... gotta jet. Sorry for the short e-mails. MISS YOU!

Tara


Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 5:15 PM CDT
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Saturday, 15 May 2004
My 3rd team!!!
Hey guys!!!
Well, I'm going to be starting my 3rd team next week!!! i'm not going to return to Blue 5, because of my medical condition. My stomach muscles started getting bad last week, (I've been trying to get in the habbit of doing PT again) and I started to get bad. So, I went to the doctor and he told me that I could not do the work Blue 5 will be doing, and I need to stay local so I can have a follow up visit. BUT, there aren't any teams that will be local, so I'm up a creek without a paddle! There is a team however, that I am going to be on, Blue 6. They (we) will be in Tuscon, Arizona working at a summer school. I'm pretty excited about it, as it's an education project. :-) I'm a little stressed out about the fact that it's my 3rd team. This new team has had 3 members quit the team. :-\ They are VERY loud, and sarcastic. BUT, oh well. I like a few people on the team... Rene'... I dunno if you remember me talking about her. She's awesome. The religious girl from Georgia! Very cool. And... um... yeah, that's the only one I like. The team leader is awesome... Shanna! I like her, too. But I guess the team has gotten better since the bad people have left... who knows. I'm pretty nervous though. My current team (green one) has turned out to be an AWESOME team! We mesh really well together. We go out to eat a lot, and we are gunna go to a surf competition in Santa Cruz this weekend. They include me a lot, which is really awesome. They started to cry tonight when we talked about my last day. *sigh* The kids started to cry too when I reminded them tomorrow is my last day. We are at the BGC again, YAY! I LOVE THEM! haha. I know I say that in EVERY e-mail, but I just can't say it enough. We had an AmeriCorps VS Junior Varsity basketball game today. AmeriCorps won both games... Girls and Guys. I had my old cheerleading squad out there cheering for AmeriCorps. :-D YAY! Well, I have to go... we're gunna go to Wendy's! Blue Five gets to come home tomorrow! YAY! I'm in the BGC talent show next week! I'm gunna sing with some of my little friends. They want me to sing in Hmong, but I don't speak Hmong... so we're gunna sing in english. haha. BYE GUYS! LOVE YOU!

Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 5:03 PM CDT
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Saturday, 1 May 2004
A FORREST??!?!?!??!?!??!
Hi guys!
Things in Kansas City are going GREAT! I've gotten so much accomplished, and I LOVE that feeling! It's been so great to be home, and I'm dreading going back... but it'll be good to be with my team again. Well, we found out our next and last project last night! We're going to be "Crew Leaders" in these National Forrests in Washington, where we each get our own group of volunteers and we work with them to build hiking trails through these forrests. Sounds fun, but, we gotta live in tents in these forrests... like, in these little commune things... I've never been in a tent, don't forget!!! YIKES! When my team was doing the scavenger hunt, they had me on the phone, so I got to do it with them. That was kinda fun. :-) But after we found out, they were like, "Tara, what do you think?!" And the first thing I said was, "I think I'm gunna have to bring a trumpet and a tamborine so the bears hear me coming... cuz there's NOOOOO way I'm sleeping in the middle of a forrest with no noise!!!" Cuz it's getting into bear season... it's spring, they come out of their caves for that... YIKES! And I just read a story a few days ago about a kid who got his arm chomped on by a bear, and the kid fought back and punched the bear, but none of his fellow campers heard him being attacked until he made noise! I don't know if I'm gunna make it, guys!!! This is gunna be INTENSE! We have 4 campsites' we'll be in... they are all in the middle of nowhere. One of our sites, we get to sleep in trailors, though. So that'll be awesome! YEAH FOR TRAILORS!!! Well, just thought i"d let everyone know what my new project was. Have a great weekend everyone! Think happy thoughts... GRADUATION IS IN 11 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If anyone knows of any good job openings, let me know! It's time to start looking for jobs. :-) Talk to you soon! Miss you, love you!

Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 10:46 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Five New Entries.... AHHHHH
Part One:
Hey ya'll, lemme tell you a story...

Ok, so Karie, Curtis and I make it back to Utah, no problems! We got back around... eh... 10:00ish pm. We were pressed for time because we got pictures developed. ANyways... we got back on Monday night. Well, after we had all gone to sleep that night, it made for a REALLY long night. I was up all night throwing up, and I had a really bad pain in my tummy. Tuesday morning comes, and I am in tears it hurt so bad. Megan took me to the doctor, and the doctor said I had to go to the emergency room ASAP, I needed surgery. Turns out I had an appendicitis. I had my appendix taken out Tuesday night. The surgery went SOOOOO well. It took about an hour, and they didn't find anything else durring the surgery, which is good! My appendix was really enlarged, and they said they got it out just in time before it ruptured. YIKES! I was doing just fine after the surgery. I was up walking around, and I didn't even throw up!!! I don't know if ya'll remember my last surgery, but I was puking like there was no tomorrow, from the anesthesia. I didn't throw up once though this time! YAY FOR ME!!! I got to go home on Wednesday, and I was put on 10 days of bedrest... do you know HOW hard it is for a girl to lay in bed when her 9 roomates are running around rock-climbing, hiking, going on dates, cooking, playing soccer...etc.?!?!?! I WAS MISERABLE!!! The team was gone ALL day at work, so I laid on the futon (asleep most of the time) and watched my spanish soap operas. We have some illegal cable in our apartment, but I like to watch the Spanish Soaps!!! hehe. Well, recovery was going pretty well until... um... Monday! Monday I passed out twice in the shower. I actually hit my head on the sink one time, so I have a big nasty black bruise on my ear. I was screaming bloody murder because I thought my ear fell off! it was SOOOO scary! So Megan took me back to the ER Monday, and they ran all kinds of tests... EKG, CT Scan, nuc-med, chest x-ray...etc. The nuclear medicine (i dunno how to spell that... i suck...) one was the worst though! I had never had that one... It was to see if I had a blood clot in my lungs or something. But I had to wear this REALLY tight mask for 8 minutes so they could watch my lungs fill with oxygen. Omigosh, there was barely any air coming in through my mask, so I was bawling. I kept telling the nurse that I thought I was being suffocated... she kinda laughed because she knew the routine of the test. But I flipped out. I was like, "Oh-mah-gawd... they are going to suffocate me... they aren't filling my lungs with anything! it's a joke!!! i'm on reality tv!!!" ahhhh, it was soooo scary!!! anyways. Turns out I was dehydrated. I spent 8 hours in a LDS hospital to find out I didn't have enough fluids in me!!! I COULDA FIGURED THAT OUT ON MY OWN!!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. oh well. AmeriCorps actually ended up sending me home to Kansas until May 4th. They thought it would be better for me to be with people so if I pass out again, someone can be there with me. But boy, I LOVE BEING HOME! *sigh* I was definately home sick. :-\ But on May 4th, they're sending me back to Sacramento. So I won't be with my team again until may 14th. :-( I don't even get to find out our next project with the rest of the team. They have to call me to tell me. It really stinks... :-( But oh well. I'm glad to be home. I miss my team though. Who woulda thought?! Well, that's what I've been up to since I last e-mailed you. If anyone wants to talk, call me!

LOVE YOU!

Tara

Part Two:
Hey people!!!

It is SO good to be back in Sactown!!! After leaving Salt lake City at 4:00 am, we finally arrived at our destination of Sacramento, CA at around 1:00 pm! YAY FOR BEING HOME!!! We first came home, we changed (did my hair) and got settled in. Then we went to McDonalds and then off to the club. AHHHHHH, I LOVE THOSE KIDS! I know I say that in EVERY single e-mail, but it's soooo true. They are amazing! We hung out at the club from 2:00-6:00! YAY! Got updated on the club-gossip (who's "going out" with who, who kissed who, who has a crush on who... the usual) and then PLAYED my heart out. IT was great! :-D Hm... what else... um... OH, tomorrow is an easter egg hunt at the club! So Karie and I are gunna go for a little bit. From 9-11. I'm pretty excited about it. :-D Well, I haven't got much time to write. I've gotta finish unpacking and then eat... I'm hungry! Talk to you later! MIss you! Love you!~

Tara


Part Three:
HEEEEEY! Today me, Megan, Karie, Josh, Gabe and Curtis took a hike to Antelope Island. The largest island in the Great Salt Lake. It was soooo beautiful. We saw huuuuuge bison and lots of antelope. Too scared to go in the water though... those little shrimp are creepy. :-\ I did do lots of crazy rock climbing though! Not REAL rock climbing, but climbing up on big rocks. hehe... more my speed. I got really sunburned this week. ick. The top of my poor head is all burned from wearing my hair in pig-tail braids and french braids. Hope I don't have another episode like I did when we went to the Bahamas... My family will remember that... but amanda and my's head got soooo sunburned that it peeled, and it was disgusting. yuck! Yesterday we went to this huge hippie fest! Omigosh, it was so classic! We went to this random field and planted 100 trees. Then we got in a circle and told stories, read poems and sang songs. People played harmonica and people played guitar. it was awesome! Me and Karie (being the hyper one's) were meetng all the people and we would go sing in groups with them. it was SO much fun! Hm... what else happend this week... I don't know what else happend. Um... I learned about pesticides. Did you know pesticides, insecticides, rodenticides and fertilizers infect fruit traveling across the country and poison us?! Thousands of pesticide poisonings have gone undiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to flu like symptoms. Vomitting, diarhea (sp), abdominal pains, skin irritations...etc. Random fact for ya'll. I learned more things, but I can't remember what they were. It didn't really phase me much, but it was interesting. I roasted my first hotdog on a campfire this week!!! YAY! Good times. I'm thinking about dying my hair again, but I can't afford it. My trip to Sacramento is coming up and I can't spend anymore money. If I do, my kids will be so disappointed!!! Guys, I really miss the club. I great kinda depressed when I think about the other team being there. They are playing with my kids!!!! Ahhhhh!!! I don't know if it's a jealousy thing or what. But I miss them a lot. I miss my hugs, my pictures, my stories, my connect 4 games... everything. :-( Why can't I be at the club still?!?!?!? *sigh* What I would give to spend one more week there. I just love those kids so much. I can't even express how much I miss them. They are part of my life that has been taken away! I know that July 22nd, I will be able to go back and see my family. But after July 22nd, when will I ever get to see my kids again?! I was a part of their life for 2 months... they were a part of my life for 2 months. I saw them lose teeth, I saw them through haircuts, I saw them through breakups, I saw them through tests at school, through report cards... everything! AHHHHHHH, I MISS THEM!!! Anyways... sorry about that!
Quantifiables for the week: 4 gardens double-dug
96 ladybugs saved
154 worms cut in half by the shovels
2 acres of field de-weeded and tilled
5 days of PT
3 hikes up mountains
got hit in the head with shovels 2 times
played 4 April Fools jokes
saw 19 REALLY cute boys
talked to 1 REALLY cute boy
transplanted 200 tomatoe plants
transplanted 100 pepper plants
spent a few hours singing "Blowing In The Wind" with 74 hippies

WHAT A WEEK! Salt Lake is Great! Alright, I gotta go now... the library is closing. Love you guys. Miss you! Hope to talk to you soon...

Tara

Part Four:
Hey guys!!! BOOOOOO TO RAIN! Ick. It's rainy today, so we're just kinda hanging out in the library right now. We worked in the Fairpark Garden this morning. I'm learning SO much being here! I learned how to double-dig garden beds... I learned how to build a compost... I learned how to transplant tomatoes, peppers and chile's! It's great! I am loving the people I work with!!! Omigosh, they are amazing! We are doing this thing on Saturday with them, for a tree planting ceremony thing. We are going to plant the trees by moonlight and play harmonicas to help them grow! So so so so so excited about it. It's gunna be fun times. Later this afternoon, I'm going to an elementary school to watch a video. Since it's raining, they didn't wanna bring the kids to the garden. YAY videos. :-D Hm... what else... I've been doing pretty hardcore work outs lately. Been running A LOT, and doing my breakdancing. I'm slowly getting better. ;-) I can actually spin on my head now!!! AHHHHHH. It's fun. We have a vacant room in my apartment, so that's where I practice my dancing. hehe. Things otherwise are going great. Still soaking up the scenery. There is SOOOOOOO much to see here. I love it. I'm wearing my hair in a braid today, and you wanna know what I found out about that?! When you have a single braid, it means you are a "first wife." the whole polygomy thing... ahhhhhhh. I ended up taking my braid out VERY quickly. :-D Well, I hate to make this so short, but my team is waiting for me. I'm on a fast today... a one day fast. I felt the need to fast so I can learn to appreciate the food we are growing. No one else on my team is doing it, so I hope I gain something out of it. I hope to gain an appreciation for the slow-growing process of food!!! have you ever stopped to think about where your food actually comes from?! Produce (veggies and fruits) travel on average 1300 miles to get to their final destination!!! Try eating seasonally, and locally. it's a HUGE difference. Support your local farmers. ;-) hehe. Plant your own garden! Well, seriously, I need to bounce. Hope you all have a great day!!! SMILE! I miss you SOOOOO much.

Tara

ps - love you all!


Part Five:
HI GUYS!!!

I'm in Salt Lake City now. It's lovely. The mountains just surround us, and they are soooo green and lush... but the tops are still snow covered. I'm at the HUGE public library right now overlooking the library shopping area. There is a guy downstairs dressed in all pink (a pink jog suit) with a purple purse on and high heels and a fuzzy purple watch on sleeping at one of the tables. It's pretty crazy... the people here are very nice. Yesterday was our first REAL day here. We got here on Friday, but didn't do much. We met the people we'll be working with. They are nice. Agnes is 25, Celia is 29, Renee is 24, Brian is 23 and that's all we've met. So they are pretty young, and they are all pretty big hippies. Well, Agnes isn't... she's very chill, but definately knows what's hip and cool!!! I keep getting e-mails from my kids at the club, and I miss them SOOOO much. Me and my teammate Karie are going to drive back to Sacramento Easter weekend and take 3 of our favorite kids out for a day of fun. We're going to take them out to eat (they are all Mexican, so we're gunna do a Mexican restraunt) then go to the mall... They are 10 years old and LOVE walking the mall for hours. We're gunna go to a movie after that. I'm excited... it reminds me of being home when I used to hang out with Megan. We'd go get our little Mr. Goodcent sandwiches, and go to a movie... or when Amanda and I used to walk the mall for hours... miss you guys!! :o( Wish you could come visit. ahhhhhhh. Me and Karie went to church today! It was a cute little church. We met these 2 really old ladies, Fern and Margaret. They are 82 years old and talk up a storm!!! I think Karie and I are gunna go feed the birds with them tonight. :-D The gardens are cute!!! We just walk the aisles of the gardens and pick things and eat them! Carrots, Thyme, Garlic, Onions, Sage, Chives, Mint... eeverything! Even the weeds are edible! It's great! We went to a workshop yesterday called "Soul of the Soil!" It was ALL about dirt... 2 hours of sitting there, learning about dirt... ahhhhh. Well, I'm gunna jet... so much to do, so much to see! I've got a new address now... Only until May 14th though... so don't send any mail past April. No packages. :-(

Tara Swayne
63 Elizabeth St. #2
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

Love you guys! Miss you!

Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 6:23 PM CDT
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Thursday, 25 March 2004
2 parts... Don't Cry For Me Argentina, and U-T-A-H
Part one...
Well, I left the club on Friday. I was doing fine all week, then Friday, when we got to the club it was ok, but then right before snack time (3:30) the jr. members (6-8 year olds) wanted to sing a song to us. So all the little 6-8 year old girls, got in a circle, held hands, and sang us an Ashante song. That's when all my teammates and I lost it. we just bawled!!! Then, the kids saw us crying, so they started bawling!!! It was a ripple effect. The staff started crying right after the kids started crying.... ahhhh, everyone was crying. my little friends that I hang out with at the club (my cheerleaders) were the one's who cried the hardest. I don't know why that is, but those girls were just crying to no end. They cried for atleast 2 and a half hours straight!!! It was pretty intense. I hated saying goodbye to our kids. Most of the kids have people constantly walk out of their lives (fathers, mothers...etc.) so all of us feel really guilty about leaving. Those kids really know how to tug on your heartstrings, too. When my favorites came up to me, after the big wave of crying ended, they were still crying. So we sat down, I sat them in my lap and sang to them. That calmed them down. I sang songs that they taught me, and I sang some Disney songs. "Baby Mine" was the one I usually sang... from DUMBO. It's a cute song, and the kids liked it. At the end of the day, before we left, I saw Juana... me and karie's favorite. She's a 10 year old girl from Mexico who is just a hoot. She loved hanging out with us, because we were always giving her advice on boys. She has an 11 year old brother Mario, who was a total opposite... ANYWAYS! At the end of the night, I gave Juana a hug. She had been fine the entire day, but when I hugged her, she flipped out. She just cried her eyes out. I'd never seen her cry before, so I didn't know how to react. Seeing her cry made me cry again. We just sat there for a good 5 minutes as she hugged me. I'm really going to miss the kids. We're going back to visit on Tuesday, (THANK GOODNESS!) and then we're gunna try to go back in May, and then one more time in July. I'm excited to see my little rugrats again... I took 5 rolls of film of the kids, and I look at them atleast 5 times a day. I just miss them sooooo much. Last night me, Karie, Sarah, Gabe and Curtis went to see "Passion of Christ." It was too hard for me to watch... I can't handle movies where people are in those types of situations. I hate it. So most of the time I covered my ears and closed my eyes and just cried... it's been a pretty emotional weekend. ahhhhh. Luckily, I got to sleep in until 2:00 today!!! That was sooooo nice, and sooooo overdue! I'm gunna go to church tonight, to watch a band play. I'm pretty excited about it... alright, bye everyone! Miss you, love you!

Tara

ps- I leave for Salt Lake City on Thursday!!!!



Part Two...
Hey ya'll, I can't write much b/c I'm leaving for Utah in half an hour... ahhhhh, i'm so nervous. I always get nervous when we go on road trips. I get nervous because I don't have a gallbladder, so I never know what's gunna stay in my tummy and for how long... and my team gets mad if we have to stop. So pray that my tummy would be ok the next few days during my trip. I took some immodium this morning, but I don't know if it'll help or not... We're driving to Nevada today. We've gotta cut the trip into 2 days. That's fiiiiiiiiiiiine by me. Well guys, I love you! Hope to talk to you soon... I don't know when I'll find a computer... hopefully shortly after arrival in Salt Lake so I can send ya'll an e-mail letting you know I made it. *knock on wood* bye bye

Love,
Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 8:34 AM CST
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Saturday, 6 March 2004
Mooooooooooovie marathon
Hey all you crazy kids. it's your old pal "Sweet Iced-T"... That's my official break dancing name. Well, this week was kinda uneventful. Monday I went to work, we had a party because it was Beth's (our site supervisor) almost last day. (her REAL last day was on Thursday.) So we had a HUGE feast for lunch. After that, we did our usual club scene, and then it was the end of the day. :-) Tuesday, same routine. I can't really remember anything too exciting from Tuesday, so I'll just leave it at that. Wednesday... man, I woke up with pink eye. Had to go to the doctor's, only to find out I had to be quarantined for 72 hours. I had to wash all my clothes, my sheets, my towels, my shoes, throw away recently used make-up...etc. ahhhh. Even though it was icky, i decided that I physically FELT fine, so I went and volunteered in the AmeriCorps*NCCC office here on base. I put together 500 packages to mail... *sigh* it's like my days at the Arthritis Foundation... I miss you guys!!! The packages are for our alumni weekend. Since this is the 10th year, we are having this HUUUUUGE celebration. There's gunna be a 5K/10K, a HUGE day of service project working with Habitat with ALL alum's and current corps members from this campus. There's gunna be a reception at the Holiday Inn with all sorts of food and bands. i'm really excited about it! Anyhoo. After i got off work from that, i came back to my room and we had team night. My pharmacist had given me an eye patch to wear, so I didn't spread it, so I wore the patch... I now am officially called "Patch Adams" or "Pink Eyed Pete" depending on who's talking me. hehe. We did a bunch of coloring welcome home signs for teams. They started coming back yesterday from SPIKE. Hm... so I went to bed Wednesday around... 1ish. Thursday I woke up only to find out I had DOUBLE pink eye. AHHHHH. I couldn't go to work, because my poor little eyes were just watering to no end. I couldn't keep them open. They were swollen and icky. We went to Walmart when everyone got home from work though, on thursday, and I got my pictures back from Yosemite. Who knew that ALL mountains look exactly the same if you don't know what you're looking at?! Turns out, I took 12 pictures of the SAME freaking mountain because every day I thought I hadn't seen it before. I took 4 pictures of the SAME coyote... i don't know why. 3 pictures of the SAME raccoon... I'm just very camera-happy i suppose. But my pictures came out great. Can't wait to show you all. My little scrapbook is just getting so big!!! YAY! Alright, so yesterday... STILL couldn't go to work, so I volunteered in the office again. I helped put together 2000 packages (same alumni weekend stuff). I worked with ALL the staff, and had such a great time. It was so amazing to get to see what they do every day, and get to hear their stories, and find out they are REAL people and they have outside lives. haha. They aren't just the people who makes sure my trip is going to go according to plan... THEY ARE REAL! (sorry... this was like an epiphany for me.) WHO KNEW?! I also got to sort resume's, (all 256), and I got to work with the service learning coordinator, and put together packets to send to Washington DC about stuff we did for MLK day that we think should be a national corps event. Then... I came back and showered, because we were gunna have a lock-in at the club for all staff and americorps people. We went rollerskating!!! AHHHH, sooo much fun! I fell down and popped a vein though... ouch! I learned how to do some break dancing moves on skates, too! Hot-dog! Well, they aren't really REAL break dancing moves. More like, trying to show off, but really looking like a complete moron. But some of my moves looked good. ;-) After we went skating, we went to the club, ate LOTS of pizza and played soccer. Then we watched movies movies movies... SOOO many movies! I went to bed at 6:30 am and woke up this morning at 7:45. After that power-nap, I've been WIDE awake ALL day. I baked cookies for the staff... kind of a little thank you for them for letting me work with them while I was sick. :-\ And I played outside for awhile. It's in the 70's today, so I'm just soaking up the rays... yeah sunshine! I tried to make a kite out of paper and my roomates scarves... eh, it didn't work. maybe because it's not windy?! Who knows.... well, I must get going now. Hope to talk to you all soon! Miss you, love you!


Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 3:39 PM CST
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Monday, 1 March 2004
Ain't no mountain high enough...
I went to Yosemite National Park this weekend!!! It was SOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome!!! We saw mountain lions, coyotes and raccoons, OH MY!!!! Did a 3 mile hike up a 4000 foot elevation up a mountain to the base of a waterfall today. Yesterday, hiked up the 5th tallest waterfall in the country. We stayed in a hostel camp thing about 35 miles outside of Yosemite. It was my first time in a hostel, and I dunno what I think... kinda weird, kinda cool. I really do smell though... I haven't showered since Friday morning. Yuck. I haven't had time to shower though, cuz of ALL the dang hiking we did. 3 mile hikes (3 miles there and 3 miles back) take a long freaking time when it's 34 degrees outside and you're hiking almost straight up a mountain ON ICE in tennis shoes with NO traction... ahhhhhhhh! I wanted to jump off the cliff, it was horrible. And I'm sick, so I had snot going every which way, cuz I forgot to bring tissues. Quantifiables for this weekend? I fell down 1 flight of stairs, went sledding, picnicked at the base of 2 waterfalls, almost had to send out 1 search party, lost 2 friends for 3 hours, saw 7 coyotes, 1 mountain lion, 1 raccoon, 27 deer, 4 hot guys, hiked 11 miles, and took 3 rolls of film. :-) Well guys, I just wanted to share my experience with you... I will just have to show you pictures. I can't describe it in an e-mail. Love you all! Miss you terribly...

Tara



Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 11:58 PM CST
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Tuesday, 24 February 2004
Picture This...
Nestled in a valley at the foot of two mountain ranges - the Wasatch to the east and the Oquirrhs to the west. In spring, the canyons are adorned with wild flowers and impromptu waterfalls. During summer, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking are just minutes away. A blaze of brilliant foliage erupts on canyon walls in autumn. When the snow flies, it graces the slopes at ten world-class ski resorts. Daily sunshine, low humidity, and refreshing mountain breezes combine for a comfortable year-round climate. First class accommodations, fine dining, noted attractions, historic sites, and great shopping. The city is a thriving cultural center - home to one of the nation's finest regional symphony orchestras, world-class opera, dance and theater companies, an illustrious choir and myriad art galleries. It's the gateway to ten national parks within a day's drive! It's fast becoming one of America's foremost destinations - and for good reason. A beautiful, safe, and vibrant city, it combines unparalleled access to natural recreation, a bustling economy, dynamic nightlife, remarkable history, warm hospitality and the greatest snow on earth!!! That's right guys... On March 24th I'm moving to Salt Lake City! I'm going to be doing Organic Farming in downtown SLC. We're gunna have a house or town house (they don't know yet) in the city, and work in the city. We'll be working with at-risk youth, 5-18 years old, to build these gardens!!! we'll also MAYBE be working at a Boys & Girls Club in Salt Lake durring the day. Who knows. But yea, I'm TOTALLY excited! Once again, it's a NEW project, no AmeriTeam has ever done it. All we've had this year are NEEEEEEEEEW projects! i LOVE it! and this is an environmental theme, unlike any other enviro projects the Western Region's ever done. No trail building for us! No invasive species removal for us... No, we're building gardens! YAY!!! ;-) Totally excited. So for those of you who were gunna come and visit me in Hawaii... I won't be there. Sooooo sorry! There's a team in Honolulu next phase doing food bank, so stop by... say hello! I've got LOTS of friends on that team! But for those of you wanting to go skiing/snowboarding, lemme know! I'm down!!! I LOVE skiing!!! Alright, enough excitement for one day... I gotta go to bed! g*Nite!!! LOVE YOU!

Tara

Posted by blog/americorpsjourney at 12:24 AM CST
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