Hostels, novel writing, and blueberry pie!

As some of you have probably gathered, my life has taken a little bit of a different turn since my last “Memoirs of a College Rebel” entry. Some was planned, some was most certainly not; all has been fantastic!

It all started on May 3rd when I kissed my family goodbye at 5 am. I was flying off to the other side of the country for the second time in my life. “I’ll only be gone for three weeks this time, not even a whole month!” I assured them.

My plans were to fly into Seattle on Monday, stay in the Green Tortoise Hostel for two nights with my friend Jane and spend some time with her; then take the train down to Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, stay with my friend Kina and spend time with her and some of our other unschooled friends who live in or near Portland; and THEN take the train down to Klamath Falls on Friday, stay in a motel for the night, taking a bus the next morning to Medford, where Blake, Cameron, and Aria – my fellow Homeschool Leadership Retreats staff – would pick me up and bring me to The Ashland Hostel, out of which we would be running the inaugural Homeschool Leadership Retreat for the next two weeks, starting Sunday. Then, on Monday the 24th, I would fly back to North Carolina – home sweet home – to figure out what I was going to do for the next few months.

However, during the retreat, some things changed. Actually, a lot of things changed.

The first thing was that I really fell in love with Ashland and did not like the idea of only staying there for two weeks; I also was beginning to feel like it was time for me to be away from home and figure out life on my own for a while. Those two feelings combined made for an official decision: I would stay in Ashland, somehow or another.

I began investigating (and praying about) how to do this during the retreat. I started by asking the lady from whom Blake was renting a room at the time. Unfortunately, she would not be able to rent to me till after June 18th; she would be going out of town and doing a house-swap with people who would be taking up the space she would rent out to me. So, I looked for somewhere to stay in the meantime. Laura, a very amazing mother of one of the very amazing campers, lived about five minutes away from downtown Ashland. However, I could not stay with them because they would have no space – Laura’s parents would be coming to stay the month of June with them.

Right about this time, Aria, the cook at HLR, told me that if I was looking for something to do for the summer, two of the three dishwashers at the summer camp she cooks at had dropped out, and the camp was looking for replacements. The job would start on June 26th.

At first, I hesitated. I wanted to stay in Ashland forever! But I quickly got over myself – had I not been pining about a month prior that I wish I had applied to summer camps to work at, but I had been too wishy-washy? (In fact: yes.) I shot the directors of the camp an e-mail, and not too long afterwards I had an application, and then an interview. Then it was all settled: summer camp, here I come!!

But what to do until the end of June? There would still be a month between the end of HLR and the beginning of the summer camp where I would be… homeless? It seemed unreasonable to fly home for a month and then fly on up to New York.

That was about the time my brain finally made some connections. During HLR, I had befriended a girl at the hostel named Stacy, who was doing a semester at Southern Oregon University and living at the hostel – doing a housekeeping work-trade for her room and use of the hostel amenities. I thought, “Okay, God – I will ask about arranging such a deal for myself. But if it doesn’t work out, I will take the hint and go back home and be content with my two weeks in Ashland.”

One afternoon I wandered into the hostel and to my delight the owner, Marilyn, was sitting at the front desk. I asked her if we could talk at some point, and she suggested that Right Now was a good time. With that, we sat on the couch and I made the proposal to her. Immediately she looked up into the heavens gratefully and exclaimed to me, “Isn’t it amazing how the universe just plunks these blessings right into your lap??”

With that, we shook hands and it was a deal. The Ashland Hostel would become my residence for the month following the retreat – a dream come true. It has been a desire of mine for quite some time to live in a hostel, and now I am doing it! It has certainly been an adventure: almost like an apprenticeship in hospitality in general; running a hostel specifically. I also now know how to fold fitted sheets so that when shelved you cannot tell the difference between them and the flat sheets.

But I am in Ashland for a month! What in the world am I doing while I am here?

Originally during HLR, I had made it a point to, perhaps, find an internship which I could carry out over the summer if staying in Ashland did happen. After asking around many different places, I finally narrowed it down to a promising veterinarian’s office. They suggested I send in a cover letter, which I did – my very first, which was quite an experience; I am so glad I did it.

After I turned it in, I would check back in person or over the phone every couple of days, and after a while began to get frustrated that nobody seemed to be making a decision or wanting to talk to me directly about creating an internship. Finally, on the Tuesday or Wednesday after the retreat, I was lusting in a used bookstore when my phone rang; it was the office manager calling to tell me they were not prepared to take on an intern at that time. (For anybody who ever gets an internship query – if this is the case, please let the person applying for the internship know ASAP, not a week and a half later, with no prior communication. They have a life, too, you know.)

I shrugged it off, knowing myself well enough to acknowledge that I would find things to keep myself busy soon enough. I was not expecting an epiphany as soon as that evening, but it happened: I had been so inspired by the town of Ashland, and specifically by a certain hotel a few blocks away which was rather old, creepy, and awesome-looking. Just a few days into HLR I had begun to brainstorm ideas for my next NaNoWriMo novel to write in November; but the inspiration kept flowing, and I couldn’t keep up with it. I would journal excitedly about all my plans, and then wish I had my journal with me when I went running and got even more ideas.

Then that evening it hit me: I have a month in Ashland. Why don’t I just write a novel now??

So, that is one thing I am doing to keep myself busy, along with obsessive reading of Natalie Goldberg’s writing books and much more journaling than I probably ever did in my life. I also began hanging out with the unschooler family I could not stay with, and I have enjoyed befriending them. Laura, the mom, is an excellent cook, especially when it comes to pie. We have been making pie, journaling, brainstorming blog entries, throwing birthday parties for her sweet 7-year-old Noah, getting ice cream, going on bike rides, having picnics, exploring the SOU library… and so many other wonderful things.

On Thursday, I will fly out to another adventure – summer camp in upstate New York! Life is sure amazing. I wonder what the future holds… 🙂

~Jessica

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6 responses to “Hostels, novel writing, and blueberry pie!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Memoirs of a College Rebel – hostels, novel writing, and blueberry pie! « Life Without College -- Topsy.com

  2. rock it barker!

  3. Are you going to be writing a fiction or non-fiction novel?

  4. Fiction, but a lot of it is based on my experiences in Ashland. 🙂

  5. Pingback: World Travel Tours » I’m planning to go to Europe, does anyone have any advice on what to do?

  6. What the future holds for brave people like yourself can’t even be imagined at this point! Greater things are yet to come!

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