Friday, December 02, 2011

Nerd Camp: Day 1

My original thought was to "unplug" entirely while I'm in residency so I can pay attention and really soak it up without distractions.  I turned off all notifications on my phone and I'm not checking any social networking sites until I get back to my room at night.

I'm still going to go with that, but I think I'm going to try to blog some of it as I go -- otherwise I won't remember to write any of this down and I want to remember as much as possible of my first residency.  Plus this way E and the fam can keep up with what I'm doing (Hi Mom!) and see pictures of where I am.

Anyway.  I am so happy.  So far residency is awesome.

I left right on schedule (6:00 AM) this morning with my swanky new road trip kit from K and stopped at Starbucks before leaving town.  Traffic was light and the weather was good.  I stopped a few times along the way: another Starbucks (just for water and a quick restroom stop) and a McD right before the Grapevine.  The weather was just gorgeous.  The last three times I've driven the Grapevine it was crappy, so it was kind of cool just to see it all sunny and cheerful.  Maybe that last part was just how I was feeling.  I used just about everything in my little bucket, too.  I ended up with a major allergy attack from Lebec to Palm Springs. Yucko.

I hate driving to the grocery store from home, so I'm not sure why I thought an 8 1/2 hour car trip was going to be a piece of cake.  Thank God for audio books and Adele (singer, not daughter--that one's at home).  And it was really just about as good as I could ask for, anyway.  I didn't run into any major weather or traffic events along the way and my route kept me out of Los Angeles.  Win.  But gosh darn, driving in So Cal traffic makes me nervous.  Crazy people, everywhere.

Check-in was a breeze.  I guess that's how it is when you can afford to stay at a nice hotel.  I wouldn't know... I just walked in and they handed me the key.  I have to keep reminding me that I actually did pay for all of this myself earlier in the semester, but it's pretty nice when they just hand you the keys to a big ol' room.  This hotel is so over-the-top retro.  I don't even know what you'd call it.  It's just very bright and there's lots of contrast and it's all kind of dark and sparkly and club-like.  It's kind of silly and I kind of love it.  Here are a few pics I snapped of the room before I unpacked and made it look like a transplanted version of my closet/classroom:


I love that my room has a huge walk in shower but also a GIANT tub.  Yes, I already took a scalding hot bath in it.  Couldn't resist a good scalding.

I spent a good hour or so unpacking after I checked in.  Normally I just live out of my suitcase when we go somewhere, but I'm going to be here for a while.  Plus, I brought a shit ton of stuff.  You never know when you might need your emergency supplies in the desert:


I didn't even get it all in that photo.  Not pictured?  All the food and appliances I brought with me.  And my pillow.  It's like Home Sweet Home up in here.  None of that is life-changing information for me to share, I know.  But it's a nice room and the hotel appears to be nicely remodeled even though it's a 1959 classic.

My first impressions of Palm Springs and the surrounding area?  Strange. It's so different here.  Being raised near the Sierra Nevadas meant I believed them to be "the" mountains, so when I see huge treeless peaks like those around Palm Springs, it just feels so weird and kind of not right.  Something's off.  I also can't get over the windmills or all the sand.  It felt like I drove onto another planet once I got out and away from LA.  I didn't spent much time driving through town but I am sure I'll walk around or get in my car and go explore.  The architecture is kind of amazing.  This entire city looks like it was locked up in a time capsule.

So here's the school stuff:  The program.  Well before I tell you about the program, you should know that post-bath I was having a major OHMYGODIT'STHEFIRSTDAYOFSCHOOLANDIDON'TKNOWWHATTOWEAR moment.  Why didn't I think about this and plan for it?  Sigh.  So I tried on like four outfits and decided finally to put a scarf over my plain-ish green t-shirt so I'd look... wait for it... FANCY, but not like I was trying too hard.  Even though I'm always trying too hard.  And then I had to open up Pinterest so I could remember how to tie a scarf because my nerves gave me a major case of The Duh.

Photo on 12-2-11 at 4.40 PM #4
so excited

But a little of this too.

Once I settled The Great Scarf Quandry of 2011, I headed over to new student orientation.  And then I did what I am best at--picked up my packet and stood awkwardly alone in the middle of the lobby while other people talked to each other.  But I didn't let that go on very long--I made a promise to myself to put myself out there while I'm at residency so I struck up a few benign conversations.  I did my best version of School Me, aka The Mrs. P Show, starring the outgoing extrovert who loves chatting it up other people.  That seemed to work okay.  Once inside I sat down next to a girl who was nice to me and we eventually learned that we were both English teachers.  (Instant friend.  Just add wine.)

Class was great and the program seems like it has some major fans in the returning students. I think it's a good thing when all the people coming back are happy to be here again.  There was a reception in one of the hotel bars (hence the wine remark) and then a group of 20 or so of us walked to dinner at a nearby restaurant.  It was great to get to know some of the other students--I feel like I have a head start on tomorrow.  I feel really good about what lies ahead.

And now if you don't mind I'm going to get some sleep.  I am BEAT.

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