Bike Expo: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7:55-56 (context)

Funny thing; Day 2 of Bike Expo felt essentially the same as Day 1. I woke up so achingly sore from Day 1 that I could hardly stand up, let alone walk around. Conceding to my tired muscles, I agreed to have Ian drop me off and pick me up. Good thing I did; he dropped me off about 2 miles from the Expo venue, and even riding that flat, short distance took serious effort. I think I’m having a difficult time adjusting my mindset from Artemis — a fairly fast, zippy, titanium bike — to Charlotte — a very slow, very rugged, very utilitarian bike. It’s hard for me to shift from pushing to go a certain speed to just enjoying the ride and taking my time.

Anyway, for Bike Expo, Sunday did feel slower overall than Saturday, and we never got the kind of overwhelming rush of people that we had to deal with on Saturday. I’m glad, because by Sunday I had started feeling really, really worn out, and at the urging of miscellaneous coworkers (I think at one point 3 of the 6 people urged me to take time off after Bike Expo), I’m taking today off.

Here are a couple pictures of our booth during a lull time on Saturday:
Bike Expo Booth 1

Bike Expo Booth 2

Saturday I didn’t have time to take in any of the entertainment — I basically only left the booth to go to the bathroom, which, handily for me, was all the way across the building. That meant that I could legitimately meander through all the different stalls and areas on my way to or from the bathroom. However, I probably spent 30 total minutes out of the 9 hours going to/from the bathroom and incidentally looking at booths and vendors. On Sunday things were slower, and on one trip to the bathroom I happened to have my camera. The trip coincided most fortunately with the incredible display of bicycle gymnastics put on by the world-famous German cyclists:

German Acrobatic Cyclists 12

German Acrobatic Cyclists 5

German Acrobatic Cyclists 1

German Acrobatic Cyclists 2

Seeing those people in action made the weekend for me. I spent the entire demonstration in awe.

Actually, I think what really made the weekend for me was receiving the People’s Choice award for our booth. The volunteers who were there, including the President of the Board, attributed the nomination to my enthusiasm and friendliness, and said so to the Executive Director, who was also there. The Board President said something along the lines of, “The booth may have won, but it wouldn’t have without Katie.” I felt very gratified to hear that, and to know that people who passed through our booth actually remembered us and remembered us positively as a result of my hard work.

Bike Expo: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:7

Today I spent 9 hours at the Bicycle Alliance booth at Bike Expo, handing out maps — hundreds of maps — and Share the Road postcards, Bicycle Alliance brochures, and even more maps. My throat is sore and my voice croaky after an entire long day of basically hollering at people over the noise of the crowd. Actually, the space where our booth is located is not overly loud at all, but the sound of hundreds of people talking all at once just adds up after a while. Also, standing on a concrete floor for all those hours started taking its toll by the end, and my legs and back feel quite sore now, too.

Some of that I may have to attribute to riding the Xtracycle 26 miles, well loaded, into a headwind, up gentle but endless inclines. That was hard work, no question, and I was proud it only took 2 hours all told. As you commenters have pointed out, it’s not about speed on an Xtracycle, and that’s something I like about it. However, when I really just want to get to my destination in as short a time as possible, it’s not the bike for me. I did get a lot of compliments on the bike, though, and it did a fabulous job hauling and holding my food, changes of clothes, cable and U-lock, SLR camera, and extra bike clothes. Ian rescued me this evening by picking me up and taking me to Kidd Valley for dinner, where I got a veggie burger with bacon. The strange looks were so worth it, seriously.

Anyway, I have lots of pictures, but I’m totally wiped out and I have another 6 hours to do tomorrow. I’ll just say that I got to see lots of friends and people I knew from all over the place: Dean from Pedal Dynamics; Neil Jander, a guy I grew up with; John Whitlow, my dad’s cousin and on the Board of the Bicycle Alliance; Jean from KDOG; a number of Cascade staff people, which makes sense since they run Bike Expo; Jon, an AmeriCorps member; Leo, from the LCI Seminar class I helped co-teach; and a selection of Bicycle Alliance volunteers and supporters. I talked to probably hundreds of people today (I’m horrible at estimating how many people I talked to, but if you say 20 an hour, which would probably be conservative, we’re still over 100) and I think I managed to stay cheerful and enthusiastic the entire time.

I enjoyed myself for certain, but I have to admit I’m utterly exhausted. If you define an “introvert” as somebody who finds social interactions draining, and an “extrovert” as somebody who finds social interactions energizing, I’d fall firmly in the “introvert” category. It doesn’t mean I dislike talking with all sorts of different people — I’m finding that to be quite enjoyable, actually. I’m just so tired at the end of it all.

Being an Orca

Day’s Verse:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:7

At least I assume gathering in a pod and moving around together for a while means I’m an orca. Otherwise I guess it means I’m a Northwest Service Academy AmeriCorps intern participating in our first, but by no means last, “pod meeting.” On Friday, all the interns in my “pod” — most everybody in Washington State — gathered at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. One of the interns, Jenni, and her significant other stayed with my family Thursday and Friday night. They drove from Okanogan and needed a place to stay rather than spending 12 hours driving and 8 hours in Seattle.

The meeting had its high points. I always enjoy the Pike Place Market; no matter how many times I visit, the excitement and vigor always infect me. Showing Jenni and Sam around a bit before the meeting started reminded me of how remarkable and unique the Market is. We test-tasted some fabulous chocolate, watched cheese as Beechers employees stirred it and of course tried a sample, and then wandered through the arcade and sampled some Chukar Cherries, chocolate linguine (we agreed: a little weird, and I can’t imagine eating them with ice cream as dessert…or eating them at all, honestly), and, of course, dried fruit. We also saw a Newfoundland puppy, young enough to be terrified of the Market but almost full-sized and thus impossible to manhandle, hiding under a delivery truck. The owners were trying to yank it out, and it had dug its feet in and was cowering away under the truck as they tugged on it. It looked like the dog had slipped out of its collar somehow.

Anyway, that’s the market — all sorts of little vignettes that you constantly walk in and out of. Eventually we met up with the other interns at Athenian Inn restaurant, ordered food, and spent almost two hours catching up. I enjoyed seeing my fellow interns again, since between times I’m very much off doing my own stuff, but I had forgotten how different I end up feeling after spending time with my peers. My priorities are aligned on such a different plane than theirs that sometimes I’m kind of amazed we can relate at all, but we can and I enjoy it when that happens.

After eating, we walked to the SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park and absorbed some culture. I always forget how much I enjoy art, although I don’t pretend to understand it. That’s the only point during the day when I wished I had brought my camera, but then I remembered that I worked just over a mile from there and the sculptures would still be there. As 2:00 neared, we meandered back to Pier 56, where one of the interns had arranged for a speaker to talk to us about fundraising. I’m embarrassed to admit that I may have dozed off during that talk, but the room felt so warm, and staying awake at 2:00 pm is difficult in general — well, it happens to the best of us. I found the part of the discussion I stayed awake for interesting, though.

That pretty much marked the end of our AmeriCorps-able hours. It seemed everybody wanted to start drinking at 5 pm, so I went with them and — take this as you will — was carded for the first time in my life, when entering a bar with everybody else. I endured about 2 hours of that but when people started closing their tabs and talking about moving on to a different bar, I gathered up Jenni and Sam (both much more cheerful than earlier in the day) and we trundled down to the International District, where I had to pick a thing up from work. By chance we caught the 124 bus, which I’ve heard is the most dangerous Metro route. Hmm. Yes. Anyway, after that brief stop, we scooted to the Transit Tunnel, where we picked up the 255 to within a mile of our house. Happily the 234 appeared right then, so we caught that to within 1/4 mile of our house. A brief stop at Safeway for some late-night snack food for Jenni and Sam rounded out the travel for the day.

By the end of the day, these last 2 weeks had started taking their toll. Two weekends ago, we thought Grandma Sullivan would pass away (she’s still hanging in there, by the way); last weekend, I endured the LCI Seminar assisting; and in between I had two exhausting, grueling weeks at the Bike Alliance, where I felt totally run off my feet and overwhelmed every single day. Let’s not even mention the tabling I did with a couple other Bike Alliance employees on Wednesday in Tacoma from 7 to 9 pm.

Suffice it to say that by Friday evening “tired” didn’t even start to describe it.

Volunteer Miscommunication

Day’s Verse:
“All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations…”

Isaiah 65:2

Today I pretended to be an HR manager and wrote drafts of 18 job descriptions for activities we want volunteers to do. This is somewhat amusing, since I have no experience or qualification that makes me the right person for this task. Occasionally I will be doing something on the volunteer program and suddenly feel completely overwhelmed. Often this happens when I’m trying to talk to one of the staff people (not a specific one) and getting the sense that we really aren’t speaking the same language at all.

For example, during my presentation of the overall volunteer program, I specifically said, “I’m envisioning having the Volunteer Coordinator [me] function as an HR manager: I’ll write job descriptions, recruit volunteers for the positions, interview them, and train them. Then I’ll pass them off to the appropriate staff member to manage and schedule the volunteer’s efforts.” Yet afterward, all the staff people I’ve talked with still envisions me as the single point for volunteers, and themselves as magically benefiting from volunteer work without interacting with volunteers.

Take this hypothetical conversation for example:

Me: We’ll need to have volunteers report to the staff person who’s in charge of that type of task. So if you’re the staff person in charge of the newsletter, volunteer reporters would report to you.
Staff person: What’s happened in the past is that nobody on the staff wants to be responsible for volunteers. It’s not in their job description.
Me: Right. And in the future we’ll need to have staff people think of working with volunteers as part of their jobs. It’s not free having volunteers — we have to spend time away from our assigned tasks to manage volunteers.
Staff person: Sure, but the difficulty is that nobody has time to work with volunteers and also do all their own work, which is why we need just one person [me] to do it.
Me: [Giving up on trying to explain that I need the staff people to be managers of volunteers too] So on this next task…

It’s times like those I start wondering if I’m in some pipe dream, and my whole role of “creating a volunteer program” will just fade away when I’m gone. Nobody wants responsibility for volunteers, even though the staff says they want to have volunteers. There’s plenty for volunteers to do, but again, nobody to manage them.

Sometimes I just feel so tired when I think of the remainder of my AmeriCorps tenure stretching out ahead of me.