Tag Archives: Arizona

That Time I Worked At A Tech Camp In The Desert

Life moves pretty fast. I mean, seriously, Ferris Bueller got that one right.

I’m back in Houston. Back temporarily, back soaking up all this time with my family and friends, and back scrambling to adjust to Houston since flying in from Arizona, where I was bouncing around for close to the last two months working as an Instructor at a summer camp where kids come to bask in…technology. That’s right, you heard me, a camp where video games are encouraged, where all the tech-y goodness and computer madness is embraced and I wound up teaching a new group of 8 kids each week how to program their own iPhone and iPad games and apps.

And yes, it was excellent.

And yes, it was challenging.

But mainly, it was an experience that I feel like I’ll still be soaking up for sometime. It feels so strange to see my wardrobe expand to more than camp shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes. My schedule is more flexible now, my days aren’t dictated by teaching and break times and my mattress is a heckuva lot more comfy than a dorm one, but even so, I still have moments where I swear I’m in Arizona about to expand a lesson on accelerometer rules.

After 7 weeks of being known as Yolko (my camp nickname…which is quite a long, adorable story that I’ll tell you over coffee sometime and that will be chapter 11 in my memoir) I am back to simply being a Lion-Haired Girl with a plan. This little plan of what exactly I’m doing next with my little life and career and change-of-address forms. It’s a small plan, it’s a little bit of a crazy plan, but before I get into it, there’s a few things I have to share from this summer.

Things I learned from working at a summer camp for technology:

Kids are terrifiying…and at the same time awesome (esp this generation)
The little ones growing up in these technology-fueled years have a million questions and understand way more than they should at this age, so that potential can be super-intimidating, but in the vein of all things nerdy, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and they learn and adapt super fast. They can pick up software in a week, are fueled with all sorts of creative ideas, and craft amazing projects in a short amount of time. Also, they all love Nyan Cat way more than necessary.

The PC v. Mac debate can get really heated and emotional, especially to gamers

Iced coffee tastes even better: 1.) in the desert and 2.) when your regional manager delivers it as a surprise

Sometimes there are baby birds hatching outside your classroom and you simply cannot contain your excitement
The Messy Bun – hairdo of champions (and tired instructors). Once you master it, life gets easier.

Handwritten mail is still one of the sweetest things.

Introducing kids to using GarageBand means that they will all consider and call themselves the next Skrillex…

Sometimes your $10 watch doesn’t survive Water Day…and that’s okay

Programming apps and games for iphones and ipads takes a lot of work…and a lot of dance breaks.

Skype is a gift from God. So are the extra chocolate chip cookies in the cafeteria

There’s a lot of stories you just can’t explain to most who weren’t there
I’m pretty sure the entire world knows the lyrics to most every Maroon 5 song

Few things are better purchases for the summer than an $8 coffeemaker positioned right next to your bed for fuel every morning

Seeing parents who are so proud and in shock and awe of what their child accomplished in a week at camp never ever ever gets old.

You will get tired. You will get sick. You will get burnt out from time to time. You will miss your real family. The staff you work with will slowly become family. You will get delirious most nights and laugh for a long time. You will get pied in the face, buckets of water dumped on you, and locked out of your room at least once.

You will get amazingly quotable campers. You will get campers who are geniuses and blow your mind. You will get attached to them, you will miss them, you will be proud of them at the end of the week. You will brag about them and give them candy for being awesome.

You will love it.

And you will be so exhausted and busy that you might fall asleep mid blog-post when writing all about your experiences.

photo via Beyond Sky Photography

19 Days And Nothing Is Normal Anymore

19 days and nothing is normal anymore.

It seems a novelty to write about why I haven’t written in a while, so I’ll try and keep it short, and hey, I might even throw in a few pictures!

19 days without writing, 19 days with little to no downtime, 19 days of too little sleep. 19 days of jokes and stories that don’t make sense to anyone who’s not here working at camp with me. 19 days in a new town in a new state. 19 days that have felt like 6 months. 19 days and I am a dot com now!!!! (check the browser bar above!) 19 days of growing up and feeling so much like a kid at the same time. 19 days of brand new relationships. 19 days that I never could have predicted in, like, 19 million years.

My head always has this little buzz inside of it lately. Every single day is a blur as well as a lull and at some point, usually a Maroon 5 song (no shame) or Lumineers song or Aretha Franklin song that’s stuck in my brain and won’t stop playing. My hours are off, my schedule is off, and the only consistent thing seems to be the attachment of my phone to my hand and face.

I’m working from 7am-11pm every single day and my energy is so spent, but I’m not complaining. It’s exhausting and it’s hard and I tend to have a little freakout of stress every single day, but it’s worth it. Gone are the days of making huge plans and long hours of lazy television marathons in bed, and here are the days of quick ideas and constant problem-solving and barely having time to throw my enormous mane of hair into a style before I’m needed and expected to have some semblance of my thoughts together.

I’ve never done this before. You see, I’m a novice in the field of actually being busy and booked all day, every day. Sure, I’ve watched nearly all the romantic comedies and coming-of-age movies where the young twentysomething girl is wearing a polished Anthropologie-knockoff-outfit, holding several binders of important files and precariously balancing full Starbucks cups as she rushes through the bustling city to her challenging 9-to-5 and important boss, but my current version of said portrayal is a lot messier.

You know how they tell you to make goal lists and things you want to accomplish? This summer I’m shredding those lists and setting fire to the idea. Because right now, I live my life 5 minutes at a time, and can’t plan more than that, and I’m gritting my teeth to learn that it is actually okay. It’s actually OKAY to let go and pry my fingers away from holding onto my control-freak-mantra of where I’m headed in life. Sure, it is important to dream and have an idea of where you see your pretty face 5 years from now and yadda yadda yadda, but at this point there’s no telling and simply no time to do so.

Right now I’m hardly the sweeping-conversationalist and meticulous-playlist-maker obsessive-planner that I have been for so long.  Who am I?

I’m frequent sips of coffee. I’m little tiny moments of catching my breath before I’m back to teaching 8 kids that need my attention and exhaust all my brainpower. I’m high-fives when they excel and I’m concerned questions when they are stuck. I’m a constant brainstorming session of activities and strategies to make camp better. I’m the alarm clock that gets set minutes later each day to try and catch up.

But, even with everything, I’m not totally disconnected. Because, oh lord, more than ever before, I am constant little text messages and too-long phone calls and hours on skype to stay in touch. I’m verbose emails and gchats and Facebook posts and instagrams in a different time zone. I’m songs sent on Spotify when there’s no time to talk and we have to use lyrics instead, and I’m a paragraph of heartfelt I-miss-you’s and call-me-later’s. I’m long pauses when I know neither of us want to hang up but we’re out of words. I’m letters in the mail and voicemails that ramble.

I’m exhausted but also exhausting every single form of communication possible.

And while I’m grateful for this job and for this change of scenery and for all these moments, I just wonder if it is ever going to feel normal; so tired and burned out but so happy, as well as constant connection with those I love, but so disconnected at the same time. Maybe I should give up on finding normalcy in my 20s altogether?

Or maybe I simply need to wear that earlier-mentioned polished Anthropologie-knockoff-outfit while balancing Starbucks cups and everything will make sense. Maybe that’s what’s truly missing.

A Life Update Of Sorts

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve worn out the soles of my shoes in Houston, Kansas City, Chicago, Nashville, Austin and all the skies and highways in between. I’m surviving on miracles, delayed flights, text messages, and strong coffee here.

Lately, my life has looked like a lot like this, according to instagram:

(I also recommend expanding your browser window to view them!)

In classic Lion-Haired Girl style, I’ve tried to write this post for about a month and I’ve come up with nothing or put it off til the next day, and now, here I am at the last minute, typing when my to-do list is 70 miles long.

I always feel strange writing all about myself here. I mean, I know that sounds totally contradictory in the fact that this is, by nature, a ‘personal’ blog, but sometimes the stuff closest to me is the hardest to speak about, and also, not what I think would be entertaining. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am so flattered and thankful and say God bless all of yall for reading my words, but it’s so hard for me to think of this as a “day-to-day-in-my-crazy-journey” lifestyle blog, because frankly, my life isn’t always so insaaane, you know? I like to write about all sorts of things and topics and thoughts, and usually they are not what is happening to me in the daily.

I mean, I never want to get to the point where I’m writing consistent entries that say, “Today I ate a bagel and it was really good.” (Even if the bagel was really good!)

Does this post have a point?

I’m going to Arizona on Friday. Why did I wait til the 5th paragraph to mention this? I love a good introduction. But seriously, when I say that I’m going there, I mean that I’m moving there…for two months. Do I know what I’m doing while there? Yes, and I’m slowly wrapping my head around it. Do I know much else? Not really.

I’ve been saying with confidence that I have wanted adventure and travel for years now, and very desperately since graduating almost 5 months ago and feeling trapped. I’ve had this feeling from the tip of my pedicured toes to the top of my big hair that I just want to GO and SEE and EXPLORE places beyond my usual radius, and now, in a small way, it’s happening!

The thing about wanting something so very bad is, you should kinda be prepared to know what to do if you actually do, in fact, get it.

Of course, for me, when anything major like this happens, it means anxiety and doubt and self-denial and panic mode and not remembering how to pack a suitcase, so there’s that. But honestly, that’s always worth the risk, and I’ve been known to get anxiety simply when the Apple rainbow spinning ball appears on my computer screen, so maybe I am a little over-anxious in the first place.

But I think it’s going to be a good two months. No, I know it’s going to be good. I’ll be teaching kids at a camp how to make iPhone and iPad games in a whole different timezone and even though it’s not like I’m going to live in a tent in the African Sahara or in a hand-built hammock in a New Zealand forest, the smallest little sense of adventure that accompanies me to this summer job away from my usual routine is so welcome.

So, anyone have any tips for packing your life away? Does a big Texas flag double as a bed comforter? Should I take any precautions for living in the desert?

And most importantly, will my hair be as big as its usual namesake when across state lines?