Rachel has Internet, Balance is Restored

Nothing quite like crying in a theater by yourself to get your weekend off to a great start. Sam Claflin’s acting in Me Before You is ridiculous, so if you’re in need of a good cry this weekend, there you go. (P.S. the book is better.)

In other news, after slowly desiccating for the past five days, I finally have internet! I’ve really prided myself on watching less and less TV over the past year as I’ve started to read more consistently, but, man, I missed Netflix. And I was terrified I was going to miss the Battle of the Bastards tomorrow, but the wifi is going strong and all is right with the world.

I arrived in Laramie on Tuesday and got settled in to my apartment. I had my mandatory freak out, the oh-my-god-what-have-I-done ten-weeks-is-a-long-time waves of panic. Then, I ventured out to get groceries and explored the town, and the tightness in my chest subsided. One of my favorites quotes kept running through my mind – everything you want is on the other side of fear.

This part of Wyoming is beautiful. I keep trying to snap good pictures but nothing does it justice. I can see the Rockies to the south, the Snowy Range to the west, and the Laramie Range to the east. I’ve been awake every morning by 5:50 am this week, not by choice and much to my dismay. That frustration evaporates as soon as I look out my window at the sunrise. How can I be upset about this?

This summer, I’m working as a summer associate for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. There are many different AmeriCorps programs, but VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty. More specifically, I am working with an organization called Feeding Laramie Valley that aims to improve food security in the area. My job, along with the other summer associates, is to facilitate a USDA summer food and enrichment program. This program was created to ensure that low-income kids – 18 and under – don’t go hungry when school is not in session over the summer months. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are dedicated mostly to preparing and serving meals to kids and community members, who can pay a minimal fee to eat as well. My other responsibility is to aid in the development of a regional fair FLV is hosting in September.

As an AmeriCorps member, I am entitled to a bi-weekly stipend that mirrors the poverty line in Albany County (where Laramie is located). The point of this is to give AmeriCorps members an idea of what it’s like to live in poverty. I could tap into my savings to live more comfortably, but my goal while I am out here is to only spend the stipend that I am given, so that I can better appreciate the struggles of the millions and millions of Americans trying to make ends meet. I really, really, really want to be able to explore as much as possible, so that means living pretty frugally. The dollar store is my friend.

That being said, I am also trying to eat well and exercise while I am out here, which I am already finding difficult. I have no money for a gym membership and there are no open walking paths or sidewalks near me. And eating healthy is EXPENSIVE. Luckily, I have a hard time justifying spending my limited funds on junk food, but after buying food on Tuesday my fridge is looking pretty sparse already. I’ll be spending the rest of my day searching for budget meals on pinterest.

Tomorrow I’m going for a six mile hike… send some good vibes my way!


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