Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Clumsiness and Patience

As usual, I've allowed far too much time to pass since last writing. Tonight, with the encroachment of evening throwing my room into darkness, and a fresh, cool air wafting through my windows, I can't help but feel inspired to share the latest goings-on with you. 

I'm writing from my room in Arlington, in a undistinctive suburban home about a mile west of Pentagon City. This little square is my base of operations for the next two months while I work at The Nature Conservancy with the climate change adaptation team. It's been a bit of a crazy time leading up to this - I went on vacation for two weeks with my parents, came back for a day and a half, then moved my bum up here before starting work the very next day. Here's my new box:

By the way, thanks to Andrew's much-appreciated generosity, bed-on-the-floor has been replaced by a honking-big-air-mattress. So don't feel too sorry for me. Also, exactly 0 of that furniture belong to me, and I'm lucky, again, for the generosity of the roommates that I scrounged it from. 

I decided over the course of spring semester that I wanted to stop driving my car everywhere (she gets enough miles as it is going back and forth from Charlotte) and so in mid-May I bought a bike. I rode it for the first time last week, to work.. in Arlington.  I have to say, I never gave all my biking friends enough credit. It's freaky out there! It's been almost a week now, and I am STILL shakingly nervous everytime I have to cross a road. Or come within 50 feet of a moving vehicle (including other cyclists).

Thank goodness the drivers around here are incredibly aware and courteous.. and forgiving towards bicycles and the people on them because I swear, I've almost eaten it several times, once while trying to cross an intersection (don't even ask me how I did it.. it's a talent, apparently). But. I'm getting better, and am learning when to leave my house to avoid traffic, and all the places where I need to get off my bike and use the crosswalk.  And today, I was confident enough in my ability to stay upright and moving, that I actually enjoyed the scenery. The dream-self that I aspire to be is a confident biker in traffic, can stop and start smoother than 1000 thread count sheets, and oh yes, never is in danger of running into a curb.. or a shrub.. or pedestrians. I'm not a complete mess, I swear.


After just a few official working days at TNC, and I am already alternately frustrated and excited.  There is so much great work that's going on, so much passion for "saving the world" and also a huge opportunity for good managers to help the whole process along. Not to mention, everyone I've met so far has taught me something admirable about themselves.. I like that I can find something to respect about every single one of my coworkers. Just a few days here has made me really excited for all the things I can learn from the organization, and of course, at Fuqua next fall.

But what also feels really good is to just be a working person again, to see a clear need for my skills and feel like I can contribute to help my team. It feels good to come home and not have homework to do - I can spend time cooking, and reading books, and learning how to ride a bicycle.

Anytime I'm in a new place, I inevitably feel a little lost and a little aimless. It helps if I can find a dance studio, of course, which I might have done - to be determined on Thursday night. But I also find myself reconnecting with the people in my life who have helped me through some of my other, hard transitions. Hearing their voices helps me to feel like I belong. I take the process slowly, try to be patient with myself, and keep my greater goals (why did I come here again?) in mind. I try to keep my chin (hah) up, and not dwell on the things I miss. I try, again, to be patient with myself. <-- this is a hard one.

Things that delight me, though, include: the nest of baby birds in the roof over the front porch, my clumsy and iterative process of learning how to lock my bicycle, the smell of fresh farmer's market garlic, standing on a street corner in the middle of downtown Arlington and watching the sun reflect off the buildings and traffic, and the fun of exploring (and getting lost) in a new neighborhood. These things help with the patience thing.

Oh, and sometimes there's this too. I love the post-thunderstorm sunsets out here. 
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