50 Days of Artpace: We All Begin Somewhere (Week 1)

Tuesday, June 7th

I woke up at the usual 6 AM. Actually, I slept in about 15 minutes because I take forever to get out of bed. When I got up, I had to put on my semi-formal attire because I was to be presented before the Commissioner’s Court today. I had no idea what to expect from that but, that was the surprise of it all.

I was a little annoyed as it did throw a dent into my plans and having my clothes all prepared for the week. I didn’t have time in the morning to iron my clothes but luckily, they weren’t all that wrinkled.

Aside from that, I went downstairs after getting ready and ate breakfast. As usual, I cooked eggs and bacon and watched some Cereal Time. After eating, it was time to go to the bus.

I wasn’t feeling nearly as anxious as I was yesterday. All of the jitters had gone away after getting through the first day. Still, I was slight on edge about the Commissioner’s Court. I mean, I didn’t know what was going to happen or who was going to be there or anything! It was a complete surprise for me.

Well, I managed to get to the bus stop on time regardless of my feelings. Mom dropped me off and I got on the bus once it came. I swiped my pass and sat down, this time, not in the front where the Senior Citizen seating is.

I began thinking about how much time goes by and how much I count it. After all, my life is now on a very tight schedule with little lee-way so I count the minutes and hours habitually. Turns out my bus only takes about 25 minutes to get from my stop to the stop where I get off downtown.

After getting off, I strolled to work. I wasn’t frantically scurrying as I was yesterday. As usual, I got there early at 8:40 AM but this time, someone let me in. He was one of the janitors in the building. I got in, and I sat down in the Archives room waiting until 9 AM.

Once 9 AM rolled around, Chris, opened the door to my office (or our office actually.) I got in and sat down and turned on my computer. As I was waiting on my computer to boot up, I realized that Chris would be leaving soon. By leaving I mean actually resigning from his job. Though I didn’t really know Chris, I was already sad that he wasn’t going to be around.

Once my computer was ready to go, I continued working on that list from yesterday. I didn’t get much done because Zaneta and I had to go to the Commissioner’s Court today and according to Taylor, we were supposed to be there at 11 AM. So I only managed to work on the list for Scott, for about an hour.

At about 10:30 AM, we left from Artpace and started walking to our destination. On the way there, Zaneta and I got into a conversation. It started out as what we were expecting, because truth be told, neither of us knew what was going to happen. It was a surprise for the both of us!

Eventually, the conversation moved into talking about other things like how I was enjoying my days at Artpace, how long we both had been living in San Antonio, how Zaneta got her job at Artpace and other things. Turns out I learned quite a bit actually.

Zaneta was an “army brat” and actually lived in Germany for a very long time, although, her German is rusty now but she still remembers how to cuss, funny enough. She also worked at Artpace before and then left to go seek other opportunities but eventually gravitated back to Artpace and she’s been there ever since.

We also managed to talk about the pepper spray she had on her key chain. Of course, I knew why she had that with her; downtown San Antonio can be a sketchy place to walk alone at night depending where you are. But this came up in our conversation as we neared the Commissioner’s Court because we saw some strangers doing odd things in broad daylight.

Well, after about 10 minutes of walking, we got to the court.

Here’s the building. It’s a nice building I might add. Very historic.

We went inside and immediately, we were met with security. They were friendly enough though, but like being at an airport, we had to put all of our belongings in a bin and slide it through the machine, walk through the detector, you know the drills.

The detector went off when Zaneta passed through although we never figured out why because the handheld detector couldn’t pick up anything. Then I had to go through. I was a bit nervous but I took a deep breath and just walked through. I suppose having two guards stare you down while you do something can be a bit unnerving. Nothing went off when I went through.

Now, after I went through, Zaneta picked up her stuff as I did mine. Except, she didn’t pick up her pepper spray. The guards were about to confiscate it. The one who picked it up said that he would have to confiscate it and Zaneta asked if there was anyway she could get it back before we left the building. Unfortunately, she could not and so she was feeling a bit bummed. However, luckily, it turns out we were in the wrong building!

The Commissioner’s Court was actually next door to the building we were in. The guard was nice enough to give Zaneta back her pepper spray but he warned her that we would run into the same problem next door. So he told her, as a citizen and not a police officer, to hide her spray somewhere nearby and pick it up once we left the Commissoner’s Court. Honestly, that was super nice of him!

So we turned around and walked out the door. Zaneta found a bush to hide her spray in nearby and just tossed it in there. She tried to look inconspicuous of course but I’m not sure how successful she was, just my thought. Anyway, we went inside the actual building we were supposed to go in. At this point, it was 10:50 AM and we had 10 minutes to get to the court somewhere inside the building.

Here’s the actual building we were supposed to go in. Still very historic. I’ve actually been to this building before but never realized it was a courthouse!

To be honest, the building we were looking for was only 10 minutes away but we left at 10:30 AM anticipating that something could go wrong, and it did (like Murphy’s Law states.)

We went through security again and no problems this time. We picked up our stuff and then asked around to see on what floor and where the Commissioner’s Court was at. The guards told us to head to the second floor and turn left and walk straight ahead. We followed their directions and easily found our destination.

On the way up there, I noticed a lot of people in nice suits walking around. I mean, it didn’t surprise me seeing how we were in a building which houses judicial courts. Lots of lawyers wasn’t a surprise but it was a bit captivating to see so many of them just around everywhere. I got the image of Law & Order into my brain while being here.

When we reached the Commissoner’s Court, we hesitated to go inside right away. The reason being because a hearing was in session and we didn’t want to interrupt. So while we waited, we actually talked with a lady who was handing out information regarding the court’s schedule for the day. I picked one up and so did Zaneta and by this point, the most recent hearing had ended. We then proceeded to walk inside before the court really got into it again.

Now, here’s where it got interesting. So we walk inside, and we sit down, a little hesitant although. We didn’t want to make anymore disruption than necessary. Honestly, I felt like a little puppy following the heel of Zaneta. I had never been to any kind of court before so I was already overwhelmed with how to approach the situation. I didn’t want to make a mistake if I didn’t have to so I let Zaneta lead.

Ooh! It looks so official! It’s actually really nice inside of a courtroom. The architecture is beautiful! But shh! We have to be quiet!

After sitting down, I realized it was 11 AM. So, I imagined that I would be called up before the court any moment now. Well, the court didn’t call me up and instead they called up someone else. I was confused so I looked at the information the lady outside the court doors gave us. It turns out that I wasn’t scheduled to be before the court until 11:30 AM.

Yeah, so we ended up sitting there for 30 minutes, doing nothing except listening to the hearings of different individuals. Now, while I wasn’t interested in this, I slowly began to become interested in it all. The procedures are indeed a bore to me, but the reasons that individuals and groups appeared before the court judges, were really exciting!

From listening, I found out that there was going to be a commission for a cultural project in downtown San Antonio very soon! It involved the collaboration of a musical composer, dancers, historians, and lots of other people. The project was dedicated to the history of San Antonio and so I found the dialogue between the judges and the individuals really inviting!

There was another group that came up after that one and they were being honored for something which had been going on for years. What was it again? Oh yeah! A woman had a donation of at least 10k to her organization’s cause which had been running for years! I mean, the woman was in her elder years (wrinkles, gray hair, and the works!) She, along with her close associates of the organization (who were all elderly women) were honored as well. It was a touching sight to behold.

After that, the court started to drag on. I got sleepy just being there. Naturally, I fell asleep sitting up and I was trying not to. I really didn’t want to be disrespectful but my body just couldn’t keep up with my brain. At some point, Zaneta nudged me and I shot up. I didn’t mean to look obvious but I’m sure I was. Well, at the time that she nudged me, I was about to be called up before the court.

My heart began to pick up its pace a little. I mean, I was experiencing new things and I didn’t know how to react. It was exciting and nerve-racking. Then the judges called up my group and I had to get up. Turns out that not only I was being honored and presented before the court but so were other interns of similar programs from different organizations. We all got lumped together it turns out. That made me feel a bit better because I wasn’t alone.

Well, we all got up there and, well, I just reacted. I was asked to come up to the podium and simply state my name, where I was going to college, what my major was, my year in college, and what organization I was interning for. I think I handled myself pretty well actually. While my answer was to the point as compared to the others who did the same thing, it’s not like I was prepared for this really. I was just thrown into it.

After everyone spoke, we all were asked to group together with the panel of judges for a group picture. To be so close to the judges, who felt untouchable in my head, left me in awe. I know that they are only human too but, I guess, I felt really below them comparatively. Still, I just smiled as best as I could.

I’m on the right. Can you spot the pineapple?!

After taking the picture, I turned around to shake the hands of each judge. I gave a firm handshake and went down the row, thank each one of them individually. It wasn’t my original idea though. Granted, I did think about doing it but I suppose I only got the courage to do it because someone else already had. Honestly, I’m glad I did shake their hands. I felt like I really was establishing that I wouldn’t take this opportunity for granted.

Then, just as quick as it had started, it was over. We left the court and convened outside of its doors. One of the men in the courtroom came out to the group of interns and spoke to us. He informed us that Judge Nelson W. Wolff (the head of this particular court) has been excited for our group and has been talking everyone’s ear off about us. (Aww, that’s so sweet! He’s really excited!)

He also told us that we would all convene again at the end of the summer for a luncheon with the court and talk about our experiences with our organizations and what we learned. We were also going to be giving short speeches about the program overall, how the commissioning of these programs and opportunities affected us, as well as what future interns who are accepted can expect as well.

Wow. Talk about putting a little pressure on us once we reach the end of the journey. Of course, because my internship is paid, the formality of the convening is really to help gauge why these programs are still going and still being given grants. So really, it’s about money along with how successful the programs are. Now I feel extra pressured to do good and report well in August.

Now, Zaneta was standing right beside me as I was hearing all of this. After the gentleman finished his spiel, Zaneta told me that I would be getting help for writing that speech. Now, on one hand I’m relieved and on the other, I kinda want the speech to be my own alone. Eh, I’ll take what I can get I guess.

(What this made me realize what that blogging indeed is going to be extra useful. Why? Because I’m logging all of my experiences! I’ll be able to go back to each day as needed and see what happened, how I felt, who I met, what I learned, everything! See? The perks of being a blogger who is a diarist first!)

After this entire conversation, Zaneta hung around to chat with some people that she recognized. And me, well, I just stood there waiting patiently for her to finish. (I mean, I wasn’t in any rush necessarily to get back to my office at Artpace.)

Then, rather unexpectedly, a woman asked me if I was friends of Zaneta. I told her that we were colleagues (although we are slowly becoming friends.) Then we introduced ourselves and I told her that Zaneta was currently in another conversation. Although, as soon as Zaneta finished her conversation, I directed her attention to the woman who was talking to me.

Those two began talking and that left me with the intern that was accompanying the woman (she did tell me her name but I can’t remember it.) So, the other intern and I began to converse. We introduced ourselves (and I can’t remember her name either) and just talked about what we were doing at our separate organizations. It was small talk at best to be honest.

We all ended up walking downstairs together and that’s where we finished our conversations and said our good-byes. I would be meeting those two again (or at least the intern) at the end of the summer in August. That left Zaneta and I to head back to Artpace.

On the way our the door, we (or I rather) picked up Zaneta’s pepper spray. She tossed it kinda far into the bush where she hid it. I had to reach in there for her because she was too short. But I managed to grab it and then we were on our way back to Artpace.

You know, it was nice being away from Artpace for a hot second. The experience woke me up if I am to be honest! But we actually took our time walking back to Artpace because neither of us were in a rush. But eventually we did make it back, and then it was back to work.

I only worked in my office for a little bit because I knew I would have to take my lunch break soon. In that small time where I continued working on that list for Scott and getting ready for lunch, I couldn’t help but be distracted by what was going on around me. Every now and again, someone will walk by my office or I’ll see someone through my office windows. I’ll look at them and then get back to work.

Yeah, just a typical view outside my office door.

At 1:00 PM, I took my lunch break. I like taking my lunch between 1-2 PM because it just seems like the perfect time to recharge. Today, I decided to eat up on the roof. Let me tell you, it was grand being up there! It was quiet and serene, and hot (as usual.) Turns out that very few people actually eat on the roof of the building so it really is quiet up there.

Such a nice view up here! I could get used to this!

I enjoy eating on the roof because I get to see the outside and look at downtown from up high, get some fresh air, and be alone without any eyes on me. It’s pretty fantastic. I took a picture of myself because I figured since today was really different, that I should take a picture!

I look rather dashing if I say so myself. I love this tie and button-up.

You know, my lunch was an hour long. It’s always an hour long as I’ve been informed. But, it never feels like that long because I just get caught up in eating, and having fun! Today, since I was on the roof, I whipped out my phone and played the Wicked (the Broadway musical) soundtrack loudly. After all, no one could hear me.

I ate, and I sang my heart and lungs out. It wasn’t anything unusual for me. I also took the time to answer any text messages and notifications I received while working. I turn my phone on Airplane mode to make sure I don’t get distracted while working. I only ever turn it off that mode during lunch and then it goes right back on. But the time came and then it went. Lunch was over and I had to get back to work.

After lunch, Zaneta swung by my office and asked for my help with something. I joined Hyland and Zaneta upstairs in the back offices. I was asked to help Hyland review the applications for the Teen Art Council that Artpace runs during the academic school year. It’s a program for high school students which allows them to come together in an effort to produce community projects that better San Antonio through art! Pretty great!

Now, there were a ton of applications. I mean, that’s all I did for the rest of the day was pretty much was review those applications. Hyland had already gone through some of them but we both needed to go through all of them. Zaneta set me up in Natalia’s office because it had a spare desk to work on.

I admit, I definitely learned some things while reviewing those applications. Like, I learned a lot. I had never had to review any applications before so it was really different being on the other side of the application process.

Having to sit there and go through at least 50 applications, giving each one thoughtful attention and responses is draining. I now understand why people stress that your application needs to stand out. I mean, I was new to this whole thing and even I didn’t want to look at some of them because they weren’t really interesting. The reviewing itself is easy to do but doing it multiple times back-to-back is a lot.

Let’s just say that I am much more considerate of those who have to look at job applications now and I understand why it takes them forever to get back to you. I mean, I only looked at about 50. Others who do this for a living go through hundreds all the time! Not only that, probably like me, they have other responsibilities to attend to on top of reviewing applications. So, I really don’t take for granted the wait anymore.

Between review applications, jotting down my reviews of them, their strengths and weaknesses, I found time to speak with Natalia. She heads the Grants department of Artpace so she spends her time trying to get more grants for our non-profit organization, keep the ones we have, and budget and finance those grants.

There’s Natalia there. See what I mean by how she looks comfortable? She’s really chill.

Natalia herself is cool. She’s really chill and sweet and she always is wearing some yoga pants, track shoes, and a comfortable T-shirt. Even though the dress code is business casual, because she works upstairs in an office with no windows, no one ever sees her. She can get away with being dressed that comfortably. Although, she does have a spare change of business casual clothes just in case something is going on that day.

Anyway, Natalia is the kind of person I would talk to outside of work. She’s very approachable and I do hope we become friends too (or at least just really comfortable with each other.)

Well, eventually I finished all the applications. I gave them all back to Hyland and Zaneta. As a last little thing, Zaneta wanted me to finish some mail for her too. Well, I went downstairs to my office with this mail, and then I started sorting it. I needed to verify all of the addresses on the mail were correct (and correct them if they weren’t), put the mail inside new envelopes if the originals were in bad condition, stamp them and put them in the outgoing mailbox.

I really didn’t get much done. Honestly, 5 PM came before I knew it. Time just flew by today.

So, I locked up my office, got all my stuff together and headed out. On the way out, I let Scott know that I was done for the day. I’m still a little hesitant with Scott because I’m not quite comfortable around him just yet. After talking with him, I signed on my time sheet and noted what I did for the day. (All interns do this as it is required, just so the staff knows we’re not doing nothing and they can track our hours.)

Then I was on my way out the door. Today as I was walking to the bus, I decided to go to the bus stop closest to Artpace which is only 2 blocks away instead of 4. I did a little observation and noticed this on way home yesterday. Of course, since I was treading in new area, I couldn’t help but snap a picture.

This stop also have a nice view. Honestly, downtown San Antonio is just nice in general.

Then the bus arrived. I got on, swiped my pass and sat down. I also took another picture while on the bus because the people on it peaked my interest.

People who ride the bus just like me. People are interesting…

But then, before I knew it, I was on my way home. Like always, time flew by as I was in my own little world, and then before I knew it I was at my stop.

I got off the bus, and the second day of my internship was over…

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