A Travellerspoint blog


I haven't updated in a while.


Sorry about that. I'm back. Part of the reason I haven't been on here in a while is because my computer has a virus and I've just been too lazy to deal with it, but I'm working on it (albeit very slowly). For now I'm on my work computer, but I don't get too much time on here, hence why it's taken so long. The other part just has to do with my laziness.
But here goes.
Mardi Gras was amazing. Like nothing I have ever experienced. You know those commercials for Zatarain's rice where the mother is shouting, "Throw me something, Mister!"? Yeah, pretty much dead on. You can just get into the spirit of yelling and shouting for people to throw stuff at you. It's really an awesome time, everyone should do it at least once. I plan on trying to come back here next year. I just can't get enough.
I went skiing in March with my dad. We hit up four different ski resorts in/around Salt Lake City. It was a great time! Not too cold, and skiing is always amazing. We did hit one snag, news about my Opa not feeling well, and then when we left we heard worse news about my Oma not feeling well. (Opa = grandfather, Oma = grandmother, on my dad's side). I had a really tough time dealing with my Oma's troubles, she was in the hospital for major heart problems, especially being so far away. Luckily, I was planning on going home in mid-March for my grandma (on my mom's side)'s 90th birthday party, and I got to see my Oma and spend some time with her. Unfortunately, her heart couldn't hold out and I had to make an emergency trip back to New Jersey for a memorial service. That's the second sign I've gotten saying that I need to spend some time at home, even though I don't believe in signs. But I've got some baby cousins that need some TLC from their second cousin thrice removed or whatever my relation to them is. So if you haven't guessed, I've made my decision that I am definitely going back to New Jersey, moving back home and everything. I still don't have a clue as to what I'm doing once I get there, but I at least know where I'll be. I'd also like to travel as much as possible in the next year. Somewhere in South America, South Korea, New Orleans, Albany, and somewhere near Toronto. And anywhere else I can fit in. I am also tentatively planning to spend next summer working in Alaska. Noelle, one of the construction managers did that when she was in college and she says it was one of the best decisions she's ever made. So we'll see.
Now down to the work part of my update.
My new construction manager is Vann, we've been working together now for almost 3 months. He doesn't micromanage as much as Mark did, but he also doesn't do everything he promises to. But I'm definitely enjoying working with him. I finished my house on N Galvez and I've been floating for the past month and a half. I'm finally getting frustrated and begging Vann to give me my own house. So that should happen soon. In the meantime I am enjoying working with my coworkers and perfecting my skills.
And that's all I got.

Posted by mernst 15:33 Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Mardi Gras

yep it's that time again.


This past weekend was the beginning of parade season. There was the Krewe du Vieux parade in the Quarter and the CTC Steppers Second Line Parade from the Lower 9th to Gentilly. Both of them were a complete blast! One of my friends has a balcony apartment on Frenchmen St, right on the parade route. I got a couple beads and some light things thrown at me, once when I wasn't even looking! I can absolutely see why people make a big deal out of Mardi Gras parades, even though both of these were less touristy than the big day events.
Anyway, back to the real reason I'm in New Orleans...Work is going really well. The sad news is that my boss is leaving Project Homecoming, though fortunately he's staying in New Orleans. So it'll be weird to adjust to a different boss. They are just going to consolidate, so there used to be three "teams," Noelle and Vann's teams, and then Mark's with Andy, Robinson, and I. Noelle and Vann are great, but they have completely different leadership styles than Mark has. And we'll be adjusting to the change right after Mardi Gras, and during the start of Spring Break time. But Mark got a job that will make him happier, and cause him less stress, so I am happy for him, of course.
The house that I am working on now is in the Upper 9th Ward. I finished the Jefferson Pres house right before Christmas. So now it's house #3! And we are getting close to completion on this one too! It's gotten to all little things and a few obnoxious things we've been putting off. This week we're building a deck and stairs from the side door, tiling the remaining floors in need of tile, installing doors, and who knows what else!? I want to get this house done as soon as possible, but I'm sure it'll take a lot longer than I'd like because of matters that I can't control (waiting for materials and money). But we'll see.
I have met some really great volunteers since I've been down here. This year alone I had college students from TCNJ, a group from MD/DE area, some great folks from Spokane, WA, and now some skilled people from Northeastern Ohio. It's really great when we all can learn from each other, I am absolutely learning something new every day. And I'm working on asserting myself more. Surprisingly (sarcasm), most people who see a 23 year old girl telling them what to do on a construction site don't always listen to what I say, they just do it how they want. And in the past I would meekly say things about how I wanted things done, and then step back and let them do it how they wanted. But not anymore. Though I mostly say things like, "well that's how Mark wants it." It still ends up with me winning and my volunteers doing what they're told. But I'm glad for this experience, because it will absolutely come in handy one day when I need to stand up for myself and what I believe in (even if it's just something small). This job challenges me every day, mind, body, and spirit. and I love it.
I just finished reading "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner. You should look into it, it's fantastic. And just drove the point home that yes, I am happy in New Orleans, New Orleans makes me happy. Every day I stop for a second and relish in the fact that I'm here. I love being here, I wish New Orleans was closer to my family and friends.
That's all I can say for now, I'll try to write more soon about the next parades.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Posted by mernst 16:51 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)


sunny 17 °C

I just watched CNN's Heroes award show. And wow. Was that the most inspiring two hours of television I've ever seen, or what? They honored ten people for giving back in tremendous ways. I want to be friends with those ten people. (One of them is a local to the New Orleans area, working at the St. Bernard Project, so maybe that's a possibility.) (www.cnn.com/heroes)
This award show was perfectly timed for me. Not only have I spent most of today thinking about all of the millions of things that I have to be thankful for, but I'm also starting to get to that point where I start freaking out about what comes next. The show didn't reveal my next step, but it did make me realize how strongly I feel about volunteering. And I know I should be thinking about jobs that pay well so I can fund all of my hopeful travels, but I don't think I can do that. I want to help more people, even if that means not buying a lot of shoes so I can save up to reach my goal of seeing all 50 states by the time I turn 30 (26 more states, 7 more years). I made that goal during a training session for Volunteers in Action at Marywood. I was asked to state a goal, and since I am so unsure about what my future holds, I said the only thing that I knew I wanted. Then they made me set a due date. But now I have another goal, to commit my life to the service of others. This one doesn't need a due date though.
I have had an amazingly blessed life. Even when my parents faced financial instability, I still got everything I wanted, except for a pet monkey, but really that was a ridiculous request. When I told my parents I wanted to go to a private Catholic college, they mortgaged the home that they were almost done paying for. I owe my parents, my family, and my friends for making my life so blessed. And so it's only fair to spread the blessing, right?

So if you were thinking about buying me a Christmas present, but didn't know what to get me, follow these few steps:
1. Research charities.
2. Find one that calls out to you.
3. Donate whatever you would have spent on me. (tax break, woot)
4. Tell me about it.
Just think about how many people you can affect by making even a small donation.

You can also just research non-profit organizations in your area and volunteer with them, it'll be good for them and for you. Either way, tell me about it. And tell your friends.

We'll see where I am one year from today, hopefully still as thankful and as happy as I am right now.

Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by mernst 23:10 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)


One house done, thousands more to go.

all seasons in one day

So last Tuesday we left my house at Tonti and started at a new house. Miss Dora moved in this weekend and we are officially done with the house on Tonti St!! It's pretty exciting. I can't wait until the dedication when we can see the house furnished and lived in!
This new house, well, it's different. We're not doing hurricane Katrina (or any hurricane) relief. Basically this house was built a long time ago then willed to Jefferson Presbyterian Church. They then rented it out. Their last tenant destroyed it, she put holes in the walls, and just made a huge mess. So they decided to gut it and start over. Well, while they were working on that, lightning struck their church and it caught on fire. And a car ran into it. Now the sanctuary is a pile of rubble. So they had to put this house on hold while they focus on the sanctuary. But the secretary and the pastor need offices, so we hopped in to rebuild this house for the church to make into offices while they sort out the mess that is their sanctuary. It's not hurricane relief, but it does need to get done. It's not housing anyone, which is kind of a downer, but it does need to get done. So last week my fantastic group form Northern Virginia fixed some of the framing of the house, hung the sheetrock, and did the first coat of mudding on the house. (Which is a lot of work to get done in less than a week!!)
Then I got the horrible news that my great aunt Irene passed away on Friday morning. She had been in (and a little out of) the hospital for the past seven months, but it was time. I was always very close to my aunt; she was a second grandmother to me, so this loss was devastating. So naturally, I flew home for the funeral. Which took me away from work for a few days.
So my group for this week from Pennsylvania has been working at my house, but I have not seen it (nor have I met this group). Hopefully they got a lot done without me; I can't wait to see the progress!

Posted by mernst 21:52 Archived in USA Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

When the Saints go marching in...

I am working my tail off.


So I finally started my extra job as a bartender at the home Saints games. My first game was last Sunday, I was placed in the Club Level in one of the lounges. We served pretty much everything you could think of, except there could only be one shot of liquor per glass. But we had beer and wine too. I learned how to make a bloody mary, it's the most popular drink down here, especially on a Sunday morning at a Saints game. Or really just on a Sunday morning.
The job itself is rough. You get there at 7am, check-in, set-up, and then wait. Once they open the doors to the public you barely get five minutes to yourself. It was hard work, but I'm always up for a challenge. And I had a lot of fun with it; it's cool to see bars from the other side.
The second time I worked, Monday Night Football, I was on the first floor in a bar stand. If I turned arouns and squatted a little, I could see the scoreboard. This time I didn't have beer, which is awesome because it turns out I'm not that great at pouring beer. And we had a much smaller selection of booze. (The club level had 5 different vodkas, the stand only had one -Stoli).
All in all, I had a pretty good time, though it was exhausting, and I can't wait until the next game (next Sunday!!).

As for my real job, that is going fantastically. I had my first set of volunteers last week. I had four people from Alabama, and boy were they amazing. They really set the bar high for the rest of the groups. And my group now is from Southwestern Virginia, and they brought along $10,000 to spend on whatever needs to be purchased!
The house I have been assigned to is 98% done, we're hoping to knock it out this week! And then I'll move on to a new home! It's all pretty exciting and of course very rewarding.
I'll update more when I get more free time.

Geaux Saints!!

Posted by mernst 00:29 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

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