Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Weekend Recap: Volunteering is Fun

I had no idea how much fun volunteering at 6:30 in the morning can be. After always being the runner in 5k and 10ks (although admittedly not in the last few years), this last Saturday I was on the other side of the race so to speak. I was the 2 mile split timer for the Christie Cookie Fun Run, and I loved it. I enjoyed observing different strides; the second fastest runner had no grace but seemed to be hurdling forward on strength alone; the fastest female was among the ten fastest men but unlike them her face was red and she was covered in sweat despite how cool it was. It was interesting to see people's responses to their split times too. One runner seemed entirely frustrated by a split time of less than 14 minutes while another runner was elated by running 2 miles in 20 minutes. And that's part of what is so great about running; you compete with yourself.

The only downside to this cookie fun run is that I didn't get a cookie!! By the time the slowest "runner" (she was walking) came by and I ran back to the start line, there were none left. Oh well, the enormous bowls of hot chocolate with pieces of delicious pound cake, fruit, and whatnot that I had the night before more than made up for missing out on a cookie. And that was another volunteering event. My roommate's workplace--Conexion Americas--had its big fund-raising gala the night before at Cheekwood, so I helped out there for two hours in exchange for free admission (and free foods and drinks). I definitely got my money's worth and watched some amazing dancing. Some of the people dancing clearly have fewer joints than I do.

Saturday night I enjoyed the cheapest sushi ever at Ken's Sushi (and then this week I got a 50% off coupon in the mail!), and then we opted to have dessert at a nicer restaurant. Except the nicer restaurant (Tayst) treated us horribly. It took the waiter a very long time to even acknowledge our presence much less take our drink orders or share the dessert menu with us; the snub seemed quite deliberate, and we were debating getting up to leave when the waiter finally spoke to us. When he finally told us what comprised the night's menu, he could not describe the chocolate torte upon being asked, saying that it was shaped like a piece of pie and that he'd never had it. I finally started asking specific is it dark chocolate? Are there almonds in it (my roommate is allergic to them)? Are there any sauces that come with it (she's allergic to some fruit too)? Anyway, we should have be clued in when we saw the help wanted sign in front of the restaurant:) Suffice to say that the entire thing became a self-fulfilling prophecy type deal for the waiter. Sure I still left at least 15%, but normally I would have left much more for such an inexpensive ticket. Oh well, it was a relatively cheap way to discover that I didn't want to spend any money at this restaurant. I wonder if it's just really bad form to come in to a restaurant to only order dessert? There were several empty tables, and it was around 9:00, which is a later dining time around here. Any thoughts from former waiters?

And tonight I tried another restaurant--Coco Cafe--with a girl who did this program last year. It's cute, a bit hippy like, has great outdoor seating, and has an extensive and cheap menu. And it's exactly the sort of place that we didn't really have in Macon (except perhaps for Ingleside Pizza). Needless to say, I'm thrilled by all of the restaurant selections, and my roommate seems simply amazed by how excited I get about food and planning restaurant outings. Of course, I'm pretty blown away by her love of interpretative dance:)

She and I are headed to Ghost Ranch, New Mexico this Sunday for our orientation to the Young Adult Volunteer Program. While I'm not quite excited about performing skits (would it be totally wrong to take a flask? Just kidding, of course.), I am pretty pumped about visiting a new state, especially such a pretty one, and meeting the other volunteers from other sites.

p.s. I'm grateful to have a job that gives me enough free time that I feel excited about volunteering.

Friday, September 14, 2007

So Many Choices, So Little Time

This summer I switched cellphone providers and spent two hours at the AT&T store. Yes, that is how long it took to go through all of the phones and their options (since my perfectly good Nokia phone was not "compatible" with AT&T because it was a "T-mobile phone"), the various features I could add to my plan, and whatnot. And when I left I wondered for two days if I'd made the wrong choice by selecting the dark gray phone over the black one.

Two months before that my mother offered to buy me a new digital camera for my trip, and I experienced a similar feeling. Despite researching various cameras on the internet and discussing them with the salesperson, I didn't feel settled about the camera I chose. "What if I hate not having a viewfinder?" "What if I really do need the extra optical zoom?" "What if this wasn't the best price?" And so on.

Unfortunately I'm already a bit on the indecisive side, but all of these options make me doubt myself even after I've made a decision. I think this mentality is sometimes seen in dating and know--holding out for the "better deal." Online dating seems to further enforce this practice, and I've heard the influx of a new set of young women (who have just finished college, for example) in a large church's singles group does as well.

And while I'm not a fan of settling, I'm not an advocate for this endless search for the "best" of everything. If for no other reason, it makes us waste time and fail to find contentment in what we do choose. Anyway, here is a much better post that made me start thinking about this and helped me realize this is part of the reason I'm so indecisive; I am given so many choices that I cannot help but be afraid I didn't make the best one. Check out the comments too; some are really on target.

Edit (thanks Scotty for catching my mistake:) p.s. I am grateful for pieces of pound cake dipped in melted chocolate, good guacamole, and my new friend Chasie who was more than happy to indulge in the previous items with me all evening long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Am I Alone or Does Someone Else...

duck their head down on occasion when driving through a parking deck? As I left the gym this morning, I realized that I was bending my head down as if that would somehow prevent the top of my car from scraping the ceiling of the parking deck level I was leaving. Sure I logically know that my car isn't so high off the ground that it'll happen, but I still duck down a bit.

p.s. I'm grateful to be able to afford a gym membership--especially on mornings when it is raining.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Happy Sunday!

So I've now been in Nashville for eight days and am starting to feel settled. I arrived at the "tool shed," which is somewhat appropriately named since it looks like a tool shed and is painted green, last Saturday before lunch. As you can imagine, a lot has happened in the last eight days, so in respect for brevity I'm going to "bullet."

* I met Susan the site coordinator, who is sort of like my liaison with the church and my job but really much more than that--I've seen her seven out of the last eight days. She's incredibly organized and thoughtful and picks up on "hints" really well. For example, I mentioned that I did not have any coffee filters nor did I know how to make coffee. So Susan shows up the next morning with filters and a lesson. I've been mentioning my fondness for jacuzzis, but no luck yet.

* I met my roommate Leslie. She's 23, from Charlotte, majored in biology at Chapel Hill, and spent the last year in this same program--except she spent 11 months in Guatemala. It sounds like it was an intense experience and that she formed some really strong friendships with her host family. Despite the fact that we're very different, we are getting along well. We both cut up a lot, like to eat, and enjoy exercise, so that's a good start:) Oh, she's never heard of Family Ties or Different Strokes, but I'm trying to get over that. She's on the far left in the photo above.

* I've been slightly "orientated" to this church (I actually live on the church property) and its staff, which has been a bit of culture shock. This is easily the most liberal church I'm aware of (after all I've lived in Georgia my entire life), much less a part of, so I've been "processing" a lot. I'm looking forward to understanding more about why some people believe what they believe, etc. In addition, this is the most socially aware and engaged church I've ever attended. I LOVE how this church is sharing Christ's love with the world with programs like A Room in the Inn (providing a meal and place to sleep for homeless people in the winter), Habitat for Humanity work days, an upcoming mission trip to help Katrina victims, annual trips to Guatemala, letter writing campaigns for Darfur, etc. Plus a lot of the members are personally volunteering through mentoring programs, Meals on Wheels, etc.

* I joined a gym. And it has 18,000 members, a parking deck, and is sponsoring a COOKIE fun run this next Saturday. Yes, you read correctly. It's like my two passions are merging together to raise money for a good cause. Since I'm watching the spending, I'll be getting cookies and a free tee shirt by volunteering (calling out split times) instead of actually running the race. Sweet deal except for that entire 7:00 a.m. report time.

* I got a library card, which is only notable because the libraries here are awesome. You can check out your own books; they have everything under the sun; and you can return your books/DVDs (checking out The West Wing soon, assuming I become motivated enough to hook up the DVD player) at any branch.

* Completed a scavenger hunt with my lovely roomie. See how thoughtful I look in the Civil Rights Room of the downtown branch of the public library? We added a stop at the Pied Piper Creamery, which serves delicious homemade ice cream including fun flavors like "White Trash" and "Are you there God? It's me Margarita." Plus they give lots of free samples and big scoops.

* Met my boss, who seems great and very enthusiastic, and toured my new place of work. I asked where my secretary would sit, but at this time office space seems to be limited:) Anyway, I start work tomorrow and am to report at 8:45.

* Went to the Greek Festival with the former NEPs (the people who did this program last year) and saw some cool dancing and ate a yummy dessert.

* Watched UGA lose and ate sushi with a high school friend who lives here.

* Was commissioned today at church and enjoyed a reception afterwards. I've met a lot of nice people and am doing my best to remember names.

* Attended FIVE church services in seven days.

* Had my first guest blogger.

Bottom Line: I've received a super warm welcome, am adjusting well despite a little reluctance to return to working tomorrow, and think this is going to be an awesome year.

p.s. I'm grateful for all of the free food we received this week. We had lots of lunches, dinners, and cookouts--and food was given to us (i.e. a huge bag of cheese cubes from the reception today:)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hello from Nashville! Or for those of you reading from these here parts: Howdy y’all! I’m still getting used to living in the South. I’m still oddly struck when I hear someone’s deep southern accent at the grocery or a restaurant.

By now, most of you are probably reading this thinking, “Wait, you’re from Georgia. What the crap are you talking about?” Ally does not yet have an internet connection at her “house” (ha), so as her new best friend in Nashville, I have been given the distinct privilege to author her latest blog entry. Ally informed me last night that my own blog is not a real blog since it is done through MySpace and not on a blog-only website. I feel the words “spoken” in a blog are more important than the homepage, but that’s my humble opinion.

Anyhoo, I am Brian Moles. Like Ally, I have recently moved to Nashville. I should note that I have chosen to call Ally “Ally” instead of Allison, which she has also given us as an option. Not two hours after she had just commented negatively on someone not giving a straight forward answer to a question, when we asked her what we should call her, she told us either one was fine, so I picked Ally.

But back to my story. I moved to Nashville almost four weeks ago to try something new. Before relocating, I had lived in Terre Haute, Indiana for my entire life. I graduated from Indiana State University, which is in Terre Haute, electing to live at home with my parents during school to cut down on school costs. I might have lost several opportunities to broaden my social skills and make new friends, but unlike most college graduates, I was basically debt free on graduation day. After graduation, I continued to work at the job I had held in my last year and a half of school. I stayed there for another 18 months after graduation and around June of this year, decided I was moving to Nashville to get away from home.

Why Nashville? Last September, my brother Jeff moved here to begin his year-long experience as a Young Adult Volunteer for the Presbyterian Church, the same position Ally is just beginning. Over the last year, I visited Jeff and his roommates several times. Most big cities can overwhelm you very easily, but every time I came to Nashville, it did not have that effect. This spring, Jeff decided to stay in Nashville and continue his work at the Campus For Human Development, a day shelter for Nashville’s homeless population. Jeff and I have an apartment together and are getting settled. Aside from the country music, I have yet to have any major complaints about this town.

My days in Nashville have been fairly uneventful so far. Not having a job and trying to save money, I spend most of my days sitting on the couch watching television without cable and playing online. You can’t imagine how exciting getting a wall post on Facebook is until you’re unemployed. I watch The View and Martha Stewart in the mornings, then turn off the TV until the evening. My afternoons are filled with Mario Kart 64, browsing MySpace and Facebook, and searching for jobs online. If any of you reading this have any connections in Nashville, please let me know. I’m getting tired of people asking me how The View was.

I first met Ally and her new roommate Leslie, Sunday morning after church. We were having them over for dinner that evening, along with Susan, their site coordinator for the YAV year, and Chasie and Tara, two of Jeff’s YAV roommates last year who have also stayed in Nashville to continue working. Even though we had to clean our apartment from top to bottom knowing that five women were coming over for dinner, I wasn’t going to complain because of the fact five women were coming over for dinner.

Dinner was very good and we all enjoyed a fruit pizza that yours truly prepared for dessert. Before and after we ate, we had time to sit around and discuss each others experiences and all that blah blah blah. Ally, being old, has traveled the world and gone to law school, while I, being young, have only an undergraduate degree and speak only English, so I had little to share. But I still had fun.

Last night, we all enjoyed a get together with the other young adults that attend Second Presbyterian here in Nashville. This was the site of probably one of the most awkward moments for me in a long time. Since Sunday, Jeff and I have been saying that Ally and Chasie have very similar personalities and appearances. Last evening, we were discussing how they look alike and instead of just sitting back and letting Jeff and me analyze her appearance, she decides to interject with “And we both have huge boobs.”

As a male, there was nothing I could say at this point that would be appropriate in any way. Thankfully, the focus was then put on Jeff, who backed my thinking up with a “no comment” and a blank stare straight toward the wall.

But it didn’t end there. Instead of just laughing it off, the three or four girls sitting there decided to carry on a full conversation about their breasts and such. After several minutes of banter that I tried to block out as much as possible for my own personal protection, the next comment I hear is “Are they tender?” I couldn’t hold it in any longer and just cracked up. If this is what the next year is going to bring hanging out with Ally, it should be a freakin’ fun year.

I have to admit, this is not the style of my blog at all. My main motivation for writing this entry is knowing how many people will read it. My blog gets maybe 20-30 views per entry, while Ally’s super-amazing-spectacular-fun-filled-adventure blog gets that many comments, let alone views. My own blog is still better than her’s though, you should check it out.

If I don’t find a job for the next month, you can thank Ally. Instead of writing a few cover letters with my afternoon, I have been writing this. My lunch is even sitting in front of me half-eaten because I have become so focuses on blog that is not even my own.

I have no idea what I have just written, but I hope you liked it. I need a job really bad, because this is how bored I am. Ha.

(Conversation in the car last night):

Ally: So Jeff, do you affiliate yourself with a political party?
Jeff: Uhhh…

Brian: He’s a Democrat.

Jeff: Well, I’d say probably the Democrats.

Ally: What about you, Brian?
Brian: I don’t really associate with one of another anymore, I vote for whoever I like best.

Leslie: So what did you used to be?
Brian: A Republican.

Ally: So why not anymore? Did you become a Christian?

That cracked me up. Nice work.

We’re all friends now,


p.s. Ally-disclaimer: (1) The Christian comment was a joke. (2) My boobs are not, I'm afraid, remotely huge.

p.p.s. I'm grateful for a guest blogger who makes me laugh.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Even Better than a Martini

Today has been a very busy last (full) day in Calhoun--lunch with my oldest niece, a visit to my great aunt, dinner with my family, laundry, packing, play date with my best friend's children and my nieces, visit with my mom, tire rotation, and of course filling up my car with the ever-expensive gas in preparation for the three hour drive to Nashville.

I always pay at the pump when I purchase gas, but today I had a good bit of cash and decided to pay inside. So I went into the smoky gas station, and the lady informed me that pump number 5 had already been paid for. She explained that a man paid for two pumps, and then she went with me outside to make sure. Hey, I wasn't complaining; I was just confused.

A guy who looked to be in his mid-twenties leaned out of his truck and hollered "Yeah I got yours too sweetie." He then asked if I was from around here, and I was proud to report (and avoid any further questions) that I was moving to Nashville tomorrow. He continued to chat while I observed the bottle of beer he was drinking as he cranked his truck up. He gave me his car, and voila I left with a tank full of free gas (and his card in case I need some remodeling done). And that my friends is better than the free martini at a bar.

The free tank of gas was followed by a yummy meal courtesy of my father--complete with a half rack of ribs, sweet potato, and fried cheesecake. And on top of that Billy Bob and my sister gave me a sweet card and very generous donation to help with expenses this year. After dinner my nieces "helped" me pack, and my mother gave me a huge basket full of all of my favorite food stuffs--like brown sugar and maple syrup oatmeal, Luna bars, and peppermint flavored Extra gum. Needless to say, I feel very blessed and encouraged by my family, and I am incredibly grateful to have been able to spend the last two months with them. I am so glad I quit my job a few months before this time in Nashville begins and that I used so much of it to just be here with my family. It's a true gift, and I think I'll always cherish the memories of this summer even though none (outside of my trip) are elaborate. Walks with my sister, library trips with my nieces, Sunday school with my dad, Monday mornings with my great aunt, grilling out with Billy Bob, and meals with my mom and step-dad are just things I've not been able to do very often over the last ten years. Now if Calhoun could just get sushi, a bookstore, some good looking and smart single men over the age of 19, and better restaurants....:)

p.s. I'm grateful for the love and support of my family.