Friday, October 30, 2009

There's a place on Ocean Avenue...

Last night was one of the best dates I've ever had. I visited the Church of the Presidents in Long Branch, NJ, where seven U.S. Presidents attended services while vacationing in the area. It's under renovation right now, so basically I walked by and snapped a few photos and grabbed a brochure. Then I walked along the boardwalk, ate at a fabulous Greek restaurant, and saw A Midsummer Night's Dream at a local theater company. Seriously, top five best nights, and I was completely alone. It scares me how okay I am with my solitude. The play was wonderful! I love Midsummer, and I was so excited to finally see it live. This production added in modern music, including a big dance number, and abridged some of the longer speeches. Part of me was a bit bummed that my first performance wasn't a truer version of the play, but I quickly got over that after watching the actor/former Marine make his pecs dance while he played the wall in Pyramus and Thisbe. (Random thought of the night: You know how you watch reruns of Saved by the Bell and realize how much of a douche Zack Morris is? Even though you still root for him? I had that feeling when listing to Theseus mock the players.) Anyway, $24 well spent if anyone happens to be in the Red Bank area in the next few weeks.

Low-key school visits the past two days. Yesterday I only met with one kid: he was a senior at a fancy prep school, but he has no idea where he's applying yet. We chatted for 45 minutes, but at least 15 of those were spent discussing zombie invasions. I would have cut him off, but it was my last visit of the day and he was entertaining as hell. And then he asked me if our campus had any ghosts. I loved that kid. Today I had one extremely awkward group of juniors. Juniors can be frustrating because they don't know what questions to ask yet, so they just stare blankly at you and expect you to do all the work. Normally the counselor facilitates and asks questions to help spark ideas, but this one stared blankly as well. Sorry, but I'm not going to babble on for half an hour just because you want to get out of class. It's not that hard to ask about the food and the social scene.

More to follow, but since it's already 10 o'clock, it's clearly way past my bedtime. Night, all!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes...

Also, I hadn't really thought about this before... Is going to a play solo weirder than going to a movie solo? I'm thinking yes. Not that this impacts my plan at all.

He will not know what all but he do know

Tonight I have a college fair in New Jersey, just twelve minutes outside of Philadelphia. By now even I have become aware of the baseball thing, which means that I will probably talk to two kids all night while the rest of the counselors watch the game on their iPhones. The fair ends at 8:30, which initially made me really happy because Glee doesn't start until 9:00. However, my hotel is 1.5 hours from the fair, giving me just enough time to miss the awkward teacher rapping.

It's probably the rain, but the past two days have been so bleh with my visits. Yesterday, I was waiting at my last school for over half an hour. I didn't have anywhere to be after, but I sat there debating how long I should wait before it became ridiculous. So I finally told them that I had to leave, and then the counselor came out and apologized for forgetting about me. At least she had a good excuse? I had a fair last night, and it was my first time seeing my table fair buddy (TFB) in a while, but he was two tables away and thus unable to entertain me. Instead I was next to a very nice older gentleman who spent most of the night talking up engineering. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I could not think of a less appealing profession for me.

I was supposed to be doing a fair tomorrow night, but admissions politics dictate that the actual rep take my place for this one. Originally I was excited to catch The Office, but then I drove by a sign this morning advertising a local theater's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Guess what I'm doing instead? And they offer discounts to students with a school ID (which I still have, obviously, because next to my Visa it's the most valuable piece of plastic in my wallet) who are 21 or under. Guess who will be only 6 days away from turning 22 as of tomorrow? It's like the gods (or, to be thematically consistent, the mischievous fairies) are smiling on me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It was a graveyard smash

Another lull at Panera between schools. I feel compelled to mention that this is my first Panera stop in a couple of weeks; I've been in areas lately that don't have one nearby. It was strange. I ate a lot of burgers and now feel guilty. (Is it okay to share that with the blogosphere?)

Now that I've covered the open house, I must give a shout out to my sister, Kim (she doesn't have a website or anything for me to be fancy and hyperlink to). Saturday night following the open house, I went on a historic ghost tour with Kim and our aunt in Naptown. It was pretty adorable. And, the best part, we got glow bracelets! Blue, in case you wondering.

I realized after that I was actually pretty disappointed with the low volume of cemeteries visited. I'm actually a little bit fascinated with burial traditions, and I think historic cemeteries are insanely beautiful and fun to wander through. (When I went to NOLA with Keri for spring break, my second favorite thing we did was a walking tour of the French Quarter and one of the cemeteries. My absolute favorite thing was eating.) We did visit one to hear about a creepy gravedigger who tried to bury people alive because he was such a fan of the process, but then we moved on to residences and offices. Lame. For me, the creepiest story took place in a really nice house belonging to a wealthy family. They were rumored to have a fortune buried underneath the house, but no one could ever find it... until they found the secret room! (Note to fortune-seekers: why wouldn't you look for a secret room first?) Sadly for them, all they found was the mummified remains of a young woman. Yeah. Historians suspect that she had some psychological issue, so her family did what any respectable family would do: created the circumstances for her to die so no one would discover the terrible secret and their family name wouldn't be besmirched. So they bricked this poor girl into a room without food or water and waited for her to die. (We don't really know why she would be mummified, though, if they bricked her in...) A ghost hunter type of show actually put an opera singer in the room and discovered that no one in the house or on the street could hear anything in there. Poor girl. (Oh, yeah... apparently she haunts the place or something.)

The weather today is amazing, so I'm trying to plan a wonderful adventure. I might cross two more FLW houses off my list today. Maybe three? We'll see how ambitious I'm feeling. I am fairly caffeinated...

The thigh bone's connected to the...

A quick post before I'm off to my next visit:

Saturday was our second open house for the semester. I was a floater in the morning, which basically meant standing around waiting for high school students to be brave enough to make eye contact. A huge group of us sat in the reception area to direct people between sessions and to check in any latecomers. My biggest facepalm of the day was a mother/daughter duo who arrived over an hour late. We break our open houses into three sessions so visitors can learn about different programs of study, study abroad opportunities, financial aid information, etc. We told this family that we had just started the second session, so they could find something of interest and go in a little bit late. They spent five minutes looking over the list before the girl looked up and said, "So these are classes? Like, with students?" .... Yes, we always have classes on Saturdays. We pay the students to go to an extra lecture just for the open house. When we explained that they were just information sessions with professors from each major, she said, "Oh... Well, I'm pre-med." At college fairs I meet a huge number of students who want to be doctors or nurses or engineers... It makes me think that I'm not safe, no matter where I go.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Erin, let me see your birth certificate!

I was just completing my recruiting assessments for yesterday and today, and I need to share some knowledge that is mindblowing to no one but myself.

Yesterday I met a counselor who looked like a college sophomore. I look pretty young myself, but I felt mature around her. When she complained the conference room was cold and retrieved an Aeropostale hoodie from another room, I honestly suspected that she was a student masquerading as a counselor to mess with me. I also never realized how much an engagement or wedding ring contributes to perceived age; it seems every female counselor I meet with, even the very young ones, are wearing rings. (I think college counseling on either side is a very matrimony-inclined profession.) This counselor wasn't wearing a ring, which made me feel even more like she could not possibly be over 21. And yet, when I was looking up her email for my evals, I read that she had her Master's and taught P.E. for three years before transitioning to guidance. Which means she is either a child prodigy whose life ambition is to help teenagers through their awkward years, or she is a seventeen-year-old in a witness protection program who was assigned to be a high school guidance counselor until she can testify in a mafia trial. I'll let you know which option I decide on.

P.S.-- I tried to link a clip from The Office episode Cafe Disco, but the desired clip does not exist on the web, which is an outright travesty. And if you try to google, "Erin, let me see your birth certificate!" many of the entries are not Office-related. Lame.

Hello, Friday!

Ordinarily, Friday signals two full days of sleeping in. This weekend, however, is our school's open house; I will be on campus at 8 a.m. ready to greet a couple hundred families to our fabulous institution. It's nice to be in town again, although it feels weird because I'm staying at a different hotel this time, so I keep forgetting where I am. I almost checked the hotel's restaurant guide to see what's in the area.

It's always strange talking to high school students because, as a recent college graduate, I am so close to their age and yet so far. During one visit today, the girls I was talking to told me how cute my dress is (Tarzhay, thank you very much) and how much they loved my shoes. Ten minutes later I elicited utterly teenage stares when I used the word "wallflower." I had to explain what it meant. The guidance counselor, who was older than my mother, helped me out by offering, "It's an old term. No one really uses it anymore." Thanks a bunch. The girls at that visit were so eager to stay out of class that they started repeating questions. I don't mind helping kids get out of class, but it's just painful when they're bad at stalling.

I'm sure tomorrow will be replete with mayhem and zany questions, so I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is this the Wright direction?

My sincerest apologies for my cheesy post title.

This afternoon, after extensive Google mapping, I road tripped to two FLW houses.

The first was the J.A. Sweeton House in Cherry Hill, NJ. Designed in 1950, it's the smallest of the four FLW
houses in Jersey. I entered the coordinates into my GPS and found a neighborhood that I could totally picture a FLW house in. One small problem: there was no FLW house. The location my GPS was telling me wasn't actually a house. It was an empty patch of highway. After driving around for a while, I tried to find a place with free wifi so I could recheck the coordinates and maybe find an actual address. Searching for wifi took roughly 45 minutes. Then I texted my friend Keri and asked her to google the address for me. It was the address that corresponded with the coordinates, so my immediate thought was that the privacy-crazed owners changed the address to prevent amateur architecture enthusiasts from snapping photos from behind their bushes. But I gave it one more try. The building located at the address was an office complex. *sigh* Exasperated, I pull into the parking lot and--lo and behold!--hidden behind the parking lot and a sketchy barrier of vines and bushes is the unmistakeable profile of a FLW:

I wanted to get more/better photos, but as you can see there was a car in the carport. And a dog at the front door. I wonder about the color scheme for this house; FLW was all about celebrating nature by making his buildings blend into his surroundings. What would inspire the mustard yellow? I hope that some well-intentioned resident (who doesn't appreciate FLW at all, but it's okay because I'm sure they don't know better and we can always change it back) painted it along the way? Then again, I also have no idea what the natural surroundings even were when FLW designed the house. There could have been buttercups and daffodils everywhere instead of a dentist's office.

After ten minutes with J.A. Sweeton, it's on to Wilmington to check out the only FLW building in the state: the Dudley Spencer House, known to FLW as Laurel. My GPS leads me to a road with lots of builidngs FLW would never design, but I still have a good feeling. Until I drive by twice and don't see anything. Sometimes his preoccupation with blending his buildings into the landscape is problematic. It isn't until my third driveby that I notice a multi-level stone house hiding behind a thicket of trees. The only problem is it's a busy road and I need to find someplace to park so I can walk over to the house. This is what I found directly across the street:

This was a house built in 1856 for Joseph Shipley, a British merchant banker. Basically the opposite of a FLW. It's a huge park, and when I got there around sunset there were tons of families wandering around. As I pulled my GPS out to find a walkway to the FLW house, I passed by a family with two toddlers who were also wandering around with a GPS. One of their kids cried out that I had "one of those boxes" too, and I asked if they were also looking for the FLW house. "No, we're geocaching," said the dad. "There's a FLW house around here?!" So I told them where the house was and they told me where to find the crosswalk and I stumbled onto the property as it was getting dark. Thus, my photos suck. Like the Sweeton house, this had a carport. Mad props to FLW for somehow creating non-tacky carports. I never thought it was possible. Once again people were home so I had to stay way far away from the house itself, which definitely didn't help the already dark pictures. But, just for the hell of it, here's my photo of the carport:

I am so envious of people who live in FLW houses. And, although I completely understand their desire for privacy, I am a little resentful of my inability to circle the houses at close range for fear of arrest. But if anyone ever needs a gift idea for me, it's sitting on Shipley Road in Wilmington.

no comment

As I'm completing my recruiting assessments, I can't help but notice how much my notes have changed within the past month. I used to write things like, "Great conversation! Likely applicant. Counselor visited campus a few years ago." Now my visit sheets are filled with comments like, "Lunch visit. I'm hungry" or "WTF?!" (That one was after a creepy Gene Hackman lookalike asked if I was Mrs. Jones.) Good to know I've settled into my job.

sunshine and rainbows and puppies

I've stepped into an alternative reality for lunch. Join me.

There is no Panera anywhere in the area. Or is there? This faux Panera offers free wifi and a pick two option. But they bring your food to you and they sell crab bisque. Sound good? I'm sorry to say that the price of admission is awkwardness. And $3 more than you would pay at Panera. Sometimes it's best to go with the giant soul-sucking corporation where you can eat summer corn chowder in peace.

I'm not trying to put too much pressure on today, but considering that it's 65 degrees and my last visit ended at noon and it's 65 degrees, I have high hopes. My last visit of the day was just delightful! (It's hard to make delightful sound unsarcastic... but it's the best word I could possibly use. So, heads up, it's sincere.) Whenever guidance counselors find out I just graduated from college, they always ask the usual questions, which quickly leads to the discovery of a common bond: psychology. Today's counselor was asking me all about my future plans in a friendly and engaging way that didn't make me want to curl up in the fetal position. And after I talked with the kids, she and I started discussing my plans for the rest of the day. Her son is an architect, but she didn't know that Frank Lloyd Wright built four houses in New Jersey. (He also has some buildings in Japan. I might have to visit the boyfriend.) All of his NJ houses are at least an hour away from my current location and tonight's hotel, but I'm debating going anyway. What else am I doing today?

Now kindly leave your computer and go enjoy the sunshine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fruit salad is too chunky

Today was the second most exhausting day I've had as a roadrunner thus far. I'm glad to say that I managed to turn things around mid-morning, though. In the car I blasted a completely cheesey mix CD with songs no respectable human being would have on her ipod. Then I recharged with a quick nap in a school parking lot before a visit. Don't worry, I'm sure I looked completely unsketchy slouched down in the driver's seat.

I visited two Catholic high schools today. I confess (ha...), I always get weirded out in Catholic schools. They have pictures of Pope Benny everywhere. And crucifixes. And I always feel like the men and women of the cloth know that not-so-deep down, I find things like this really funny. The very first school I visited was in the middle of some drama: the teachers went on strike Friday night. They were picketing out front while an army of subs covered their classes. I have mixed feelings on the topic of teachers strikes, but according to one employee the teachers and the administration were only pennies apart in their negotiations. Personally, I don't think standing outside in forty degree weather getting no salary is better than standing inside making slightly less than you'd like. But hopefully things work themselves out quickly; it sucks when students are penalized for bureaucratic stuff.

Tonight was my only college fair this week, a scheduling miracle. Now that I'm an experienced rep, I'd like to share my developing wisdom about college fairs:
  1. If it's a stupid question, then yes, they are completely serious
  2. If the kid has a mohawk and lightning bolts shaved into his head, he is completely serious
  3. There is a certain type of kid that will slow down in front of your table and say your school name like a caveman imitating English. (i.e.-- Ne-w Jerrrr-sseyyyy) You do not want them to fill out a request for info card. Or to reproduce.
  4. A good table buddy is a must. If a neighboring rep will not make fun of children with you, then (s)he is not a good table buddy. Older women are rarely good table buddies.
  5. Keep yourself entertained however you can. This may be by grapevining slowly back and forth behind your table and seeing if anyone notices (so far no one). This may involve sending letters detailing every second of your day to people who couldn't care less. This may also involve making up stupid admissions knock knock jokes such as:
Knock, knock!
Who's there?
Interrupting parent.
Interrupting parent wh--
She's taking twelve AP classes!

And now, my friends, I leave you with the most spectacular part of the day. It has finally happened. Perhaps not as great as its predecessor, but I'm still pretty happy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Let the wild rumpus (and the daddy issues) start!

Now that Wine Fest is over, I'm feeling a little like my life has absolutely no meaning. I've been looking forward to it for months. What now? I think the Chocolate Zin I bought will help ease the pain some. And we saw "Where the Wild Things Are"! I want to decorate my life with posters from that movie. It was beautiful. Plus, like Max, I also enjoy chocolate cake and building forts.

This will be a long week. Six school visits today, none of which were completely fabulous. Oh, well. I returned to the hotel, took a bath, had some wine, and then napped for an hour before ordering room service. Good times.

My first visit of the day was in the hometown of a former roommate. The counselor mentioned that a few students from the school had gone on to our college, and I asked if one of them was "Beth." She said yes. She asked what "Beth" was doing now. Proceed to award me massive maturity points for not saying, "Um... she was crazy. And we stopped talking about a year into living together. And she's crazy." Instead I said something vague about her plans immediately following graduation, but said I'm not sure what she's been doing for the past few months. Don't say I can't be tactful.

My first appointment of the day is over an hour away from my hotel. I have no idea what I was thinking. Well, that's a lie; I wanted to stay three consecutive nights at current hotel rather than going back and forth. We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And I'm done forever/It's you and me forever

How was today not Friday? Someone needs to reorganize the calendar.

As my friends Keri and Lindsay were rocking out to the Avett Brothers live, I was at a college fair. In New Jersey. In the rain and cold. Okay, technically the fair wasn't outside, but being aware of the rain and cold while standing around a cafeteria isn't much better. It was much busier than other fairs I've been to recently (I'm looking at you, Burlington County); I actually had some great conversations and may have lured some kids over to the dark side. There was also this adorable set of parents who are attending our upcoming open house and were very concerned about the chances of their daughter getting in. They launched into this story about the AP teacher and how none of the kids like him so the daughter isn't in AP classes and how will that look to colleges... Based on her GPA/grades, I seriously doubt she'll have any trouble, but obviously I can't say that, so I just tell them that her numbers are comparable to the freshman class this year and I can't wait to see them again at the open house.

Winefest this weekend! I don't know what I'm going to do when it's over; every time I've had a slow day for the past month, I would think to myself, "It's okay, Winefest is soon!" What will I have to motivate myself now?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Allison and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

If only, as I blogged last night, I knew how true that final statement is.

Today I had a school visit that was scheduled for 10 a.m. I arrive at the school and they don't have me on their schedule. Okay. It happens. But the counselor was... not necessarily rude, but needlessly under-friendly. He told me that his secretary is out today, but she's normally very good about these things and I wasn't on her schedule. It was mostly a tone of voice thing. How does a miscommunication between two parties automatically mean it's the other person's fault? I've been pretty meticulous with my schedule, too. Is it even a vague possibility that maybe I got lost in the shuffle? Just saying, it's a 50/50 chance. I would have been more understanding if they had been completely busy, but there was no one in the office. The receptionist was texting when I walked in. They had time to be nice.

So as I walked to my car I texted a friend, "Is 'kind of douchey' an appropriate phrase for a school evaluation?" (Still waiting for a response on that one.) Shortly after, Jesus roundhouse kicked me in the face with a "Don't call someone douchey, douchebag." (This is really hard for me to write. Please bear with me.) I ran over a cat. It was an accident, I swear. It ran into the road and I didn't have time to stop. And even worse, it was a busy road with no shoulder, so I couldn't pull over immediately and make sure it was okay (even though I knew it wasn't). I held back tears and looped around to get back to the cat, but it took about ten minutes and by the time I got there the cat was sprawled unmistakeably towards the side of the road. So I had to drive by it again and take in the crime scene, knowing that I would be a complete lunatic if I pulled over and moved the feline corpse. (Not to mention the germs.) So it had to stay there. I didn't see a collar, which means: 1. I might not have killed a small child's pet; 2. I might have killed a small child's pet and will never know; 3. I might have killed a plucky stray who survived countless tragedies until I came along. In my top ten guilt-experiencing moments, this ranks in the top half. And I was raised by Catholics.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And when the money comes in for the work I'll do/I'll pass almost every penny on to you

How am I this tired on a Tuesday? Normally I'm not dragging this much until Thursday. This could be problematic.

Naturally on the day when I had five appointments, I spoke to people at every single school. One of them had me sitting in reception for over twenty minutes, which was especially frustrating because I knew how insanely busy they were, so I knew I would only talk to the person for two seconds. But I also didn't have an excuse to leave, so I people watched and said a silent "thank you!" to the powers that be that I am no longer in high school. In a miraculous display of scheduling, my schools were less than fifteen minutes apart and I had at least half an hour to get to each. It was nice having some time between visits: I went to the post office; I worked on some letters; I seriously considered organizing my car... It was productive.

My last appointment ended at 2:30, and I didn't have a college fair until 7:30. I could either grab lunch, hang out at the hotel, and leave in the middle of rush hour to get to the fair 30 minutes away; or I could drive to the fair, find a Panera, and sit around for three hours. Guess which one I chose? The Panera blocks, which is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. How am I supposed to carry on with my miserable, exhausting life if I can't find solace in the blunders and misfortunes of others? I should submit this to FML.

The fair itself was pretty lame. Normally private schools are lucrative for us because the kids are looking at small, liberal arts institutions, but these kids seemed pretty clueless about the college search. I did enjoy one dad whose response to our rural setting and tuition was, "You sure have to pay a lot to not party!" Yes, yes you do. I'd also like to take a minute to inform athletes that if it's your senior year and you haven't talked to a coach, you aren't joining the team. Even at a D-III school. So maybe you should look at something other than the athletics brochure. Maybe try one that shows students suited up and holding briefcases? That's usually where your kind wind up.

Yes, I am a terrible person.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Working for the weekend

After a few fairs and consortiums, you learn to navigate your way to the host school. Signs include: giant lines of cars with various college stickers affixed to the rear window, fifty billion signs pointing to college rep parking, overachieving students pointing the way to the entrance, and (on occasion) balloons. So today I had a fair that started at 8:00 a.m. I drove to the address I googled, arriving around 7:45. No cars, no signs, no reps wheeling in giant displays. I look at the address on the invitation. Not the same. Shit. So I drove to that address. Completely deserted. So around 8:02 I arrive at the first location and--lo and behold!--there are five other reps unpacking their cars. It turns out that this school just sucks at signage. And at consortiums in general.

My day ended around 2:30 so I stopped and saw a movie and wandered around a mall and pretended that pretzel bites and nacho cheese and cherry coke are acceptable dinner foods. I watched "Fame," which I thought would be inspirational and adorable, but I had a lot of issues with it. First of all, they lied about Kelsey Grammer being in it. He has two lines, both of which are "Superb!" Also, I just can't get behind the idea of a musical high school that is not High School Musical. I mean, where the hell was Zac Efron? And, for that matter, Debbie Reynolds? Fail. Massive, massive fail.

Basically the only thing keeping me going this week is a wine festival this weekend with my school friends who I haven't seen in a month. Autumn + wine + pretending I never graduated? I have high hopes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast

I've been on the road now for four weeks, and I must confess that I'm disappointed in the license plate action to date. I'm still not really sure what the official "license plate game" is that everyone talks about, but I have one that I have played for years. Back in middle school I joined 4H, although my chapter was more "crafts and public speaking" rather than "milking cows and growing giant gourds." To keep us entertained during car trips, the club leader had us look for license plates that said 9999, and whoever came closest won. The only rule was that the numbers had to be consecutive. So if a license plate read 7438924, you would call 8924, because a number like 7438 is practically laughable. I've been playing this game since 7th grade, and the only two 9999 license plates I've come across have been since this past spring. Obviously the 8 years of waiting made them quite an event. The first was as I drove my sister and niece across a four mile long bridge to go to our parents' for our other sister's birthday dinner. I got so excited that I nearly swerved and redirected our journey to the water. After some strategizing (read: slowing down to eldery speeds) to get a good angle on the car, my sister snapped a photo on her cell phone, and I bounced into my parents' house, overjoyed to tell them the news. The second sighting was mere hours after my first international excursion ended: I was driving once again to my parents' house, jetlagged and missing Russia, and there it was, welcoming me back to the states.

I won't lie, when I was first offered the position of roadrunner, I had visions of 9999 license plates dancing in my head. Three solid months on the road have to be good for at least one or two, right? But one third of the way through travel season I am still waiting. So to all drivers in New Jersey and eastern PA, if you have a 9999 license plate and maybe feel like slowing down around a Chevy Impala with an adorable brunette in the driver's seat, you should follow your gut. And if you're a stupid blue truck with a 9988 license plate, you really aren't that great and should probably just stay at home.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Does becoming a manager make you say stupid things?

Tonight's college fair was not a fruitful one, so around 8:45 I began packing my things. Five minutes later I was racing towards the hotel to see "The Office" because, just in case you live in some tragic black hole, Jim and Pam got married tonight in an hour-long episode. I have admitted before that I looked forward to their wedding more than I probably will my own. They did not disappoint. It was adorable and funny and adorable and OH MY GOD WHY CAN'T I MARRY JIM?! Sorry, we're good. I was getting antsy at the college fair, and a rep to my right was like, "Well, you can just watch it online tomorrow" and I had to try really hard not to make him understand that this was the episode. The one we've been waiting for... the one we've been dreading a little bit because it means that Jim is officially off the market. Fortunately my table buddy was far more supportive and only made me promise not to get a speeding ticket on my way to the hotel.

I actually met with kids today at 3 out of 4 schools! Only one kid apiece, but I really enjoy the one-on-one conversations. I talked to one girl who has this huge life plan to be a famous novelist and then to start an alternative juvenile delinquent program like in "Holes" (only not at all like "Holes"... for an English major, she failed at allusions) so she can work with inner city kids and have programs within the schools, but obviously parents of other kids will have problems with delinquents in the schools, so she would put them in different classes. The Sarah Vowell in me was internally screaming "Separate but equal! Separate but equal! Separate but equal!" Hopefully next year the kid will take U.S. History. I also met a girl at a small prep school whose name is Elizabeth Bennett. And she has a sister named Jane. But it wasn't purposeful. Confession: considering that I have read Pride and Prejudice a kerfillion times (no, spell check, kerfillion is totally legit), a tiny part of me wants five daughters named after the Bennett girls. I get over it quickly when I realize what having five daughters would entail, but that lingering desire will probably stay with me every time I pick up my tattered paperback copy. And as I left that appointment basking in an Austenian glow, I nearly ran into a glass window. In front of an old nun. Who did not have a sense of humor about it. And thought I was an idiot.

What if I had one daughter named Jane Elizabeth Mary Catherine Lydia Bennett (insert last name here)? Too much?

Only three schools tomorrow, and then I'm sleeping in! Fridays are always the toughest: I have zero energy, and I know that I just have to drive two or more hours to get to my house to crash. Hopefully tomorrow will go quickly and I will meet fabulous kids and end the day with a fabulous glass of wine and roughly seven viewings of "The Office."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Every chorus was your name

Let's forget about admissions recruiting for a second and talk about the Avett Brothers, shall we? OH MY GOD THEIR NEW ALBUM IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "January Wedding"? I will abandon all hopes of a springtime garden ceremony/elopement so I can dance to that when I get married. I'm pretty sure I've listened to that song about a billion times in the twelve hours since I downloaded it.

Today I did not meet with any students at all. It was actually painful at the last school: I work at "X" College, but they thought I was from "X" University. Basically the same exact school... except for about 4,000 students and a 14 hour drive. So I arrive and there's a parent whose daughter attends "X" University and the mom was so excited to meet someone from her daughter's school and she drove in especially for this. The poor woman. I was also supposed to meet with two students at that school, but they were interested in "X" University and not me... so I left some materials with the guidance secretary and left. Then I went to a college fair that night (in a completely different school district in a completely different state) and they had us registered as "X" University. Stupid common names.

Tonight's college fair was in a region with several huge high schools, which means I am almost completely wiped out of my fabulous pretty picture brochures. One rep who is a frequent table buddy at fairs was stationed across from me tonight. He was watching the Yankees game on his phone behind a display, and it was pretty hilarious watching him sketchily look down and smile every so often. At one point he looked up at me, pointed down, and then gave a thumbs up while grinning. I knew what he was referring to, but the random parent who was passing his table at the time looked a little creeped out. Can't imagine why...

I also overheard two seasoned reps chatting outside our "light refreshments." The lady was explaining, "I cut my hair. And I got fat! I look a lot different than last season!" You have no idea how difficult it was to withhold laughter. (The guy seemed to recognize her following that explanation.)

I love watching family dynamics in the college process. You can always spot the family member in charge, whether it's a forty-five minute minute interview, or two seconds at a college fair table. It can be entertaining at college fairs watching parents weave in and out of tables, their kids trailing behind. Tonight I kept seeing kids who would pause to look at a table, but their parents would keep walking and stare the kids down until they followed. Obviously the kids should have no say whatsoever in the process because it's the parents who will have to live with the decision. It's much better to discourage the kids' interests now before they start to think the search is centered around them. That would be terrible. If nothing else, I really hope this job will make me a better, more relaxed parent when the time comes for my future offspring to look at colleges.

My final highlight of the evening centered around (what else?) pen theft. I think I've mentioned before that I use crappy hotel pens that I've stolen during my travels. After all, I can't get upset if the munchkins are stealing stolen property, right? And somehow during the course of the evening, someone who grabbed a pen from Old Dominion left it at my table, so I have quite the assortment. Two girls who probably didn't even know there was a college fair going on approached my table. One of them looks at my pens and starts rolling them to look at the logos. She looks at me quizzically, exclaiming, "I was trying to steal a pen! What happened here?!" I offered her the one from Old Dominion, but she declined. I'm not sure if she even realized that I wasn't from Old Dominion.

In short, a pretty spectacular fair. Join me tomorrow as I work another fair while trying to forget that I'm missing the wedding episode of "The Office." Oh my god: Do you think their song will be "January Wedding"?! No... The universe would explode into a blissful cloud of awesome. Hopefully it's something tragically adorable, yet unaffiliated with the Avett Brothers.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get thee to a tannery!

So much for a kick-ass visit that would make my entire day awesome. However, I did get a tip from a guidance counselor to check out historic Bethlehem, and I'm very glad I did. It's the cutest city ever. It was founded by the Moravians, a Protestant denomination, in 1741. I don't know if I just wasn't getting/appreciating the historical parts of town, or if the literature just didn't convey the information in a way that inspired me, but I thought the walking tour was kind of a bust. You can wander around the remnants of the Industrial Village, which is basically the tannery, dyer, blacksmith, etc. I like old buildings as much as the next person, but didn't every town have those shops? Aren't they marginally important to the survival of the village? It didn't convery anything unique or quirky about Bethlehem. I did learn that this is where Lafayette healed after his leg wound at the Battle of Brandywine, and then he lived here for a while after; thus, I was able to build off of previous knowledge from another geeky afternoon. Regardless, the city is adorable and the people are insanely friendly. I've been wandering through the shops and had dinner at an amazing brewery. Right now I'm hanging out in a cafe until I go see "Julie & Julia" at a tiny theater. So even though I'm going to be exhausted when I get to the hotel, tonight has redeemed any awkward counselors or clueless high schoolers I may have encountered today. Especially when Meryl Streep says her line about the pasta being, "as hot as a stiff cock!" There is definitely a reason this will be my third viewing of "J & J."

Back off the wagon...

This is only my first Panera visit of the week. Amazing, right? Yes, it's only Tuesday. Morning. But still. Yesterday I found a Sonic and nearly leapt for joy. Their Coney Island chili dogs are amazing.

Not a lot of action this week... I had a fair Sunday afternoon that lasted three hours. Yikes. I'm too used to two-hour fairs. I met a few kids who were really excited about the school, which is always adorable. I also had one kid whose dad stood behind him and whispered questions in his ear. Not awkward at all. And then the dad asked the kid how close our school is to a particular city, and the kid responded, "It's close! They're in the same state!" (Yes, if an hour and a half is your idea of "close.") There was another kid wandering around with a tee shirt that said, "Female students needed for sexual research." I was torn between hysterical laughter and shock that he would actually wear that to meet college reps.

It seems every school I visit now has at least one kid who signed up to meet with me, but is out sick. Is it me? Just in case they're being honest and I'm not actually driving kids away, I've been using hand sanitizer like a fiend. I'm not getting sick. I refuse.

Today I had one of those frustrating visits with seniors who haven't seriously begun the college search yet. It baffles me. It's nice that they want to meet with reps to learn more about the process, but they often wind up being kids who are interested in culinary arts or cosmetology, which is why they haven't started looking at schools. So then they get a huge shock when they meet with a rep from a small, liberal arts college that doesn't offer their major. If you're going to sign up for a visit, why wouldn't you at least glance at the website first? At least make sure the school is a viable option first.

Off to my last two appointments. Hopefully I'll meet some fun people! I think this Tuesday could use a pick-me-up.

Friday, October 2, 2009


P.S.-- How the hell is it October? Dislike.

A trip to the Seward plaque

Last night's college fair was kind of a bust. And by kind of, I mean like whoa. I made contact with some kids who were really interested, but for the most part I spent the night cringing as Valley Forge boys called female representatives "ma'am." I did have a fabulous table buddy who spontaneously complained about missing "Survivor" during Thursday fairs, so we bonded over the tyrants who schedule these things during prime time.

The fair was at a Penn State campus (fun fact: there are roughly a billion of them) about an hour away from where I was staying. They had campus security posted by the parking lot clearly marked "Parking for College Reps," although their primary purpose seemed to be watching a parade of reps wheel their supplies into the building as they drank coffee. Until I pulled in. The security officer saw me pulling up to the lot, stood in front of my car until I rolled down the window, stared quizzically, and asked, "You're a college rep?" As he looked me up and down (only halfway, of course, because he could not see past my torso) I replied, "Yes." Unconvinced, he asked what college I worked for. I told him, but he still seemed unsatisfied until his eyes found the faculty/staff tag hanging from my rearview mirror. Only then did he step aside and allow me to park. Nothing like making me feel like a five-year-old before a two-hour shift as a pseudo authority figure.

Today I had an awkward visit... first they wrote down the wrong date, so they assumed I was visiting the 12th instead of the 2nd. The lady was really apologetic and wouldn't stop bringing it up, which I understand but I got tired of telling her it was no big deal after the twentieth time. She called three girls down to the office who had signed up to meet with me. One of them was there earlier than the others and as I introduced myself she looked at me quizzically and said, "You look familiar... were you a senior last year? I think you were my tour guide." Yeah, I didn't feel like a jackass at all. She's not really that interested in the school, which is understandable since she's applying to ten as of now, and at least three of them are (I know I shouldn't say this, but it's kind of true) basically the same exact school. (Or she's not that interested because this bitchy tour guide couldn't recognize her even though they spent 45 minutes together schlepping around campus one fine spring day.) And of course the exact opposite was occurring simultaneously in the same office: one of the counselors was at the admissions conference I attended this summer, but didn't recognize me at all. I didn't want to be awkward and say something, but part of me was thinking, "Come on! Remember that dorky game they made us play? Alfredo Allison! You're Pizza Peggy! No?" In the end, the usual pleasantries were sufficient since the conversation would have most likely gone something like:

Her: Oh, right! How are you?
Me: Good! Just... traveling. It's been fun.
Her: Good! ...
Me: Yeah! ...

So sometimes feigning ignorance is probably best.

By now you probably gather that the majority of my blogging occurs from whatever Panera I find in the area. (Today I actually pulled into a shopping plaza on a whim because it looked like a Panera should be there. I was right.) So as I sit typing this, there's two older (I say older with the smug judgement of a twenty-something when regarding anyone middle-aged) friends sitting behind me, and they noticed that I was typing frantically. The man leaned back in his chair and asked if I was with the CIA. "Of course," I replied, "Panera is where we do all our spy work." He chuckled and joked, "You're not writing a book, are you?" Then, seeing my blog entry, his eyes widened and he exclaimed, "Oh, my god, you are!" I then explained my job and my blog. Apparently his son is a junior in high school and is starting the college process. And the dad worked in admissions for a few years, so we chatted for a while about that. Good times. And now I've blogged about him and fulfilled his paranoid nightmares. Maybe I can list him as a reference if I apply to the CIA...

Home for this weekend once I've been sufficiently caffeinated. It might take a while.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jim and Pam are getting married in a week!

I love college fairs. Not only do they desensitize you to a world full of rejection, but the host(s) usually feed you. However, I take great issue with schools/organizations that insist on sponsoring fairs on Thursday nights. Obviously today's jaded youth has no interest in being in some stuffy gym when the weekend is so close. And obviously I have no interest in being in some stuffy gym when I should be sprawled across a king sized bed watching "The Office." Yes, these fairs usually end around 8:30, but by the time I pack up and drive to my hotel I don't even make it in time for "Project Runway," assuming that my hotel even has Lifetime. (I am rarely so lucky.) Ideal days would be Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when there is absolutely nothing on. Last night was the first time in over a week that I made it to a hotel before ten, but it was practically a waste of a night in. When I arrived at the hotel I spent 45 minutes or so happily absorbed in tulle and taffeta with "Say Yes to the Dress," but then TLC switched to "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," and that show scares me more than railroad tracks, serial killers, and global warming combined.

I'm getting spoiled with these low-key days... it's going to be a bitch when I start having five or six school visits in a day. I met with one kid today: an insanely adorable junior who probably doesn't know what she wants, but was delightful to talk to. Other than that I chatted with two counselors. Have you ever had an awkward interaction with someone and started to wonder if it was your fault or the other person's? That was my last appointment. In the end I concluded that I am normally painfully aware of my own awkwardness, and that it was probably her. She had a sheet of questions to ask me, but it seemed almost like I was her first appointment and she didn't quite know what to do. Or I'm just deluding myself to make myself feel better. Both are possibilities. (P.S.-- It's a little unappreciated when you sit down with a rep and the first question is, "So, this is (insert some version of your school name)?" followed with, "Where are you located?" There's a poster with that information hanging in your office, you can't at least be smooth and pretend you know which rep you're meeting with?)

Sorry, high school counselors, I made a mistake: "Glee" is on Wednesday nights, and I would like to watch that. Tuesdays are still fine.