Day 3: Turning

March 21, 2013 - Leave a Response

It’s amazing how projects, songs, stories can all start from the most unlikely of places. I was going back through my recordings on my phone to find a snippet from today when I discovered a very impromptu vocal piece that was actually the horrible beginning of “The North Remembers”, the Game of Thrones piece that I posted a few days ago. It reminds me how important it is to keep note when the mood strikes me, because even the worst beginning can turn into something that I’m proud of.

Today’s post is just a tidbit that came to me while walking to class, and I wanted to get it written down somewhere because it’s something.

Rollin’ through the stop sign, no one ever waits
To listen to the cool breeze, the rustling trees
This world perpetually turning,
But should we?

Day 2: Winter is Coming

March 19, 2013 - 2 Responses

Last night I recorded a song that I’ve been working on periodically since last summer, based around the storyline of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. It’s the second thing I ever played on my new guitar, and something that I’m hoping will one day become a full-fledged piece. I’ve been really nervous to record me singing it with the actual guitar chords because i inevitably screw up or get out of rhythm.

I really like the flow of this song and I could see it being performed around a campfire with a guitar and a drum, like some tribal oral tradition or something. The lyrics aren’t finished yet because I want it to evolve as GRRM continues to write the books, and because it needs a proper instrumental track or at least a bridge or two.

NaCreSoMo

March 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

So, I got talking with a friend of mine from college and I found out that we’re both trying to get into songwriting! Then she told me about this awesome thing called NaCreSoMo, “National Create Something Month”. The basic idea is to do something every day towards the craft that you haven’t quite been working or finishing anything on. I’m going to try it! I know I’m bad about anything that’s supposed to be done daily (minus brushing my teeth, I think) but it’s a good excuse to make sure I’m doing something creative every day if I can.

For today, I’m going to post the chorus I came up with yesterday for a song I’m working on. It’s in progress and I’ll probably have some more lyrics for everyone tomorrow.

Sweet child of mine, where did you go?
In the darkness we buried you whole.
Sweet child of mine, ne’er come to pass
I don’t know how we thought that you’d last.

January 2nd

January 1, 2012 - Leave a Response

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday to me…..

Celebrating the Holidays as a Young Woman.

December 25, 2011 - Leave a Response

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I spent a lot of time today thinking about how Winter Break, Christmas, and my Birthday have changed over the years as I’ve grown older. I love the Holidays. Traditionally, it’s the time when my brother (and eventually my sister-in-law) came home and we got to spend time as a complete family. Mum usually does an English roast dinner on Christmas afternoon, along with mince pies,  jam tarts, and Dundee cake. Everything feels very British for me, and I love it. Christmas Eve the family plays Smash and Grab (a card game) and sometimes Scrabble before heading off to bed. We leave some sherry and a mince pie out for “Santa” and in the morning, I’m one of the first ones up. I have a stocking with Rudolph poking out of it and I’m allowed to empty the contents before everyone else is awake, if I want to. Mum starts cooking dinner and we sit around and open gifts, usually with me bringing them all out from under the tree. Many years, we have a gathering of friends for Boxing Day with wine and cheese and some claustrophobia.

Then things changed. It’s not because I’m getting older, but because my brother is moving into a different stage of his life. Last year, we were invited up to New York City because my brother and sister-in-law had just moved into a new apartment. They wanted to host us, and while going to the city is generally cause for excitement (for me, anyway), it wasn’t the same. I slept on the couch. It was snowing, and cold, and Mum wasn’t in the best of moods as such. Nothing felt familiar. Mum substituted a few ingredients for dinner the best she could, and there was no baking. I missed my Rudolph stocking. And even though I felt sad because I missed those things, I was disappointed in myself for feeling sad. Because the Holidays are supposed to be about being with family…but I missed our traditions, I missed the familiarity and I didn’t appreciate the stress of traveling so much (especially with my parents).

This year, my nephew was born in July. As such, we’re visiting NYC again for Christmas. In our heart of hearts, Mum and I longed to stay home. We yearned for the familiarity, the relaxation, the weather. Am I enjoying myself up here? Sure. I love getting to meet my nephew for the first time. It brings a smile to my face to see him enjoying his first Christmas. I love the city, the Subway, the lights and the sounds when I fall asleep at night. But it isn’t really Christmas for me. It’s something else, some nice family gathering with a few small gifts but it isn’t what I ache for.

I wonder whether I’ll ever get that back again.

My brother has already made comments like, “well we can do that when you’re here next year.” Mum and I give each other a knowing look; we’ve already discussed not coming a third time. I feel guilty for not appreciating the season, and for expecting my brother and sister-in-law to always being the ones to make the trip. But I want Christmas back. My Christmas. With all of the traditions I grew up with, intact.

There’s something at any age about growing up…it’s the idea that no matter what we do, things always change. Circumstances happen that we can not always control, and we adapt. We grow. But sometimes we notice, and it hurts more than we expect. I think about all of my students and how their lives are changing now that they’re in college. Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstace, Birthdays, Halloween, Easter…these holidays will never again be what they were. Perhaps something small changes and they won’t notice, or something huge will change that sets them wondering if they’ll ever go back.

This will be the first year ever that I will be away from home for my birthday. Mum might have to re-send cards to my school address. I’ll likely be working the entire day. My closest friends will forget it ever happened, and I’ll still tell strangers that I’m twenty one years old. And maybe next year it will be back to normal, just a blip in a recurring timeline.

But maybe not.

Little Gems

December 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

I’m still looking through old papers, and today I found a story I wrote when I was seven, about a man and his “time machene”. Spelling was clearly not my forte.

In my story, a man buys a time machine for $200 and travels back to see how the earth was formed. The gem? “He kept inspecting the ground. It looked like a very hot cloud rounded into a ball and hardened into Earth.”

Can you tell that I was the kid who read every astronomy book in the library?

Other gems from tonight’s readings.

–Second grade award for “excellent student”, “Miss Summer Sausage Queen” (had the same lunch every day) and “Most Fun to Tease”. The last one there seems like a cruel joke since I remember being bullied a lot in elementary school and having no friends that year.

I’m not nearly finished clearing out the old (and hopefully filing the stuff I’m keeping), but I did realize one thing – we, humans, are amazing for the capacity we have to learn and grow. I can’t believe who I’ve become today after looking back on those childhood and teenage memories. It reminds me that I need to be patient and more understanding when it comes to working with my students. They’re all growing too, at different rates in different areas and the best thing I can do is be there for them when they need someone and encourage them to work hard and enjoy what they’re doing. A lot of the things I’ve kept over the years have been notes from my teachers. I may not be able to tell you what I learned in their class, but I can remember their faces and the support they gave me in whatever I was doing. I hope I can do the same.

Blast from the Past

December 13, 2011 - Leave a Response

I’m currently on winter break, and there’s so much to catch you all up on! This evening, however, I’ve been looking through old notebooks of mine and typing up any of my writing that I want to keep. In doing so, I found a hilarious journal entry that I thought I’d share with everyone.

The prompt was, “George and Lennie (from Of Mice and Men) have a dream. What is your dream? How will you accomplish it?”

“My dream is to become a computer programmer. I’d like to work for a large company like Dell or IBM, and earn a pretty good salary. I plan on living in a city, somewhee (maybe NYC) with my best friend. My dream encompasses all of this; owning or at least renting an apartment of my own, being able to drive a nice car, and having enough money to eat every night. I want to stick with my best friend, maybe get married someday, and perhaps adopt a kid when everything settles down. At retirement, I’d like to become a Humanities teacher.

To achieve this goal, I plan on keeping good grades, graduating high in my class, and going to a good college. I’ll take a lot of computer courses, but also keep up with my math, science, english, and foreign language. I’ll try and get along without forefeiting my extracurricular classes like choir and anime club.

Most of all, I would like to keep playing hockey. I’d also like to improve my writing, and perhaps publish a fantasy novel. My dream is many things, and I’d like to keep them all.”

I think it’s so funny how our dreams change while still keeping our base values intact. The specifics of what I wanted out of a career have changed throughout my years; once I wanted to be an artist, then a singer, then an interior designer, then a computer programmer, then a chemist, then a teacher, and now a Student Affairs practitioner (and maybe a teacher later). I’m becoming more comfortable with the idea of having my own children rather than adopting, and I’ve realized that I can’t always be close in distance to my best friend. But a lot of the core ideas are still true, like wanting to get married and start a family, making enough money to have a place to live and food on the table, to continue doing what I love in my free time, and to one day publish writing of my own.

The specifics may have changed, but I’m still working hard to meet my goals. I hope that I do.

Week 5 – The Halfway Point

October 3, 2011 - Leave a Response

Well, tomorrow begins week 5 of the quarter and, shockingly, the halfway point! I can’t believe how much time has already passed; I certainly miss semesters, if only because I’m used to the pace. Every day I’m feeling more like an adult. I haven’t decided if I like or hate this particular feeling, but it certainly is different.

Work – My RD job continues to be fulfilling. Despite some frustrations and a few setbacks, the quarter is progressing moderately well in our building. I’m still trying hard to teach my staff to be intentional with the time they spend with their residents, but I’ve had to add in a new expectation of sorts each week. Our first few weeks went by without barely any organized activities whatsoever. Hopefully we can keep building them in and give our residents an opportunity to do something other than go uptown on the weekends. I’m also planning to host a few activities myself to help offer more to our students. Hall Council is struggling, but we have our third meeting tonight and I think I’ve developed a better role as an advisor. The first week I ran the meeting and the second I turned everything over to our President and VP, forgetting that not everyone at OU has run an organization before. Now I’m planning to step in and help a bit more than I originally expected. They need some time to get on their feet and see how to facilitate conversations from some role models as they try and do so on their own.

My time on the paraprofessional recruitment team has been fabulous so far. We’re developing our advertising campaign as well as our timeline for the RA application process. What I’m most excited about though is our potential to completely revamp the interview structure here at OU. In the past staff has been evaluated on interview skills and professionalism that I believe we’re going to radically change this year. I’m really appreciating everyone’s input and their willingness to listen to my experiences from Cal and see that this can be a very positive change in the process. I can’t even imagine how amazing it will be as we continue working with the team throughout the year.

School – Two of my classes are absolutely fantastic this quarter – Intro to Student Affairs and Intro to Student Development. I feel like I’m really engaging with my peers and with our professors, and the two papers that I’ve written so far have been interesting and fun to work on. This week I’m doing a practitioner interview with one of the RCs to learn how he incorporates theory into practice, as well as working on a group presentation on Women’s Centers at universities across the country. Unfortunately the lecture portion of my Counseling Techniques class hasn’t been quite as fulfilling…we gave our professor feedback last week and now we feel she’s headed down the passive-aggressive path. Luckily the lab section, where we videotape ourselves counseling a partner, has been rather useful in honing some of my skills. As long as I can trudge painfully through our lecture and get a decent grade, I think I’ll be content.

The Cohort – I’ve had an interesting time figuring out how I feel about our first year cohort. It seems that we’re already separating into cliques (not terribly surprising since we have 29 people now). Unfortunately, I’m not feeling too much like I fit in anywhere. We have a large portion of our cohort who is the drinking-a-lot-at-bars and party type, and that’s just not me. Sometimes I feel that they’re generally immature in disrupting class and such and other times, I think we just have very different personalities. The quieter, low-key folks in the cohort have very different schedules from me, so we haven’t had an opportunity to spend much time with each other yet. On the other hand, I attended some events with my partner’s cohort at OSU and I really enjoyed their company. I think it was a combination of having more to do, a more diverse group, and feeling like I was actually included in their activities. It was nice to have people listen to what I have to say; I felt like my stories were valued in the group, something I haven’t felt as much here.

I’m trying to stay positive and remember that I’m growing quite close with folks in the housing department, and that I can focus on school and work if I choose to. I don’t particularly want to fret over missed connections to folks I don’t particularly feel a strong affinity towards anyway. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes, but I’m going to try hard not to let it get to me.

Personal Stuff – Overall, I’ve mostly been trying to handle living with my partner. It’s complicated living with another person and honestly, I’m pretty exhausted from it. We have to agree on when to get groceries, who’s going out when, where the car is, and what we’re eating for dinner. Sometimes I’d rather just be on my own and deal with my own schedule only. Luckily for both of us, M is moving out in the next week or two. He’ll be much, much closer to school and I will have some breathing room to myself. There’s another load of stress about buying out his half of the car, but we’ll get it sorted out.

Speaking of the car, it essentially died on me yesterday. We were on the highway in Columbus and all of the electrical systems shut down – I had no windshield wipers, defroster, signals, lights, anything. Luckily we found a neighborhood auto shop to pull into and then as soon as I put the car in park it crapped out. We ended up having to pay for a new alternator to be put in, but everything seems okay now.

Overall – I’ve been feeling much better (despite getting a cold) about my work-class-life balance this last week or so. I’m also realizing that OU probably wasn’t the best choice of school for me. It’s nice not to be as stressed out about class, but I think I should have paid more attention to the camaraderie I felt with the folks I met at IU. It’s hard not having the support group here that I wanted, but I can remember that I’ll only be here two years anyway. It’ll be a nice experience, I’ll get to leave my mark, and I can move on to a bigger city where I think I’ll feel more comfortable. I’m thinking Boston, perhaps. And maybe, like Berkeley, I’ll find my love for Athens in my second year. It just might be that I need all of that time to settle in.

I’ll be sure to write more and give you all updates and thoughts as they come along! I’ve started jotting ideas down in my notebook so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say. Catch you next time!

Move-In

September 1, 2011 - 2 Responses

Guess what day it is today? Yep, it’s day 1 of move-in weekend. Somehow I manage every year to pull a long night the night before and that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Despite my good intentions, I just had far too much to do. On top of that, one of the other housing grads hosted the rest of us at his apartment for dinner last night. We stayed until later than I planned, but it was a fantastic bonding experience that I dearly needed. After I got back I pumped though quite a bit – hall council flyers, lobby bulletin boards, running after staff to copy their welcome letters, and typing up some hall council applications. I can already tell that next year’s move-in is going to go smoother for myself, simply because I’ve already got resources typed up and a general idea of how long everything is going to take.

Yesterday was our CSP program orientation; honestly, I didn’t want to be there. I rushed to go to parking services early because I needed to get across campus by 8:30, but then it turned out the first half hour was socializing and eating fruit anyway. Really? I did not need to get up for that. Then the faculty re-introduced themselves, we talked about the tentative schedule for the switch to semesters, and we got to that which I was most displeased….teambuilders. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I really, really do. I find them fun and useful and I’m excited to be learning how to facilitate them better. But when I’m stressed, exhausted, and have a ton of work waiting for me at home, I don’t want to be dragged outside to do some teambuilders. Especially in the heat and on top of that, wearing business casual and heels. Nope. Not what I wanted. By the time we were done with the entire orientation I was only more stressed out. I understand that many folks had just arrived in Athens and usually I consider teambuilders a great idea, but not that day. Not when I know I’ll have 2 more years to bond with my cohort, I’ll be seeing them for 12 hours of class a week, and I had more pressing issues to attend to back at my hall.

Today was the Graduate College orientation and I chose not to attend. I’m sure I missed out on some free food and some information, but I’m willing to get it later if I need it. Today I wanted to be here for my staff, I wanted to get some work done in my office and have the privilege of enjoying move-in day. Enjoy it I did. My staff is doing a fantastic job, I got to spend time with C. over in Wilson, and I even met a few residents!

I feel like I’ve finally found the path I belong on.

Week One Paraprofessional Training

August 28, 2011 - One Response

It was quite amazing. We spent time getting back to the basics, learning about diversity issues and their intersection with humor, spiritual development, conflict resolution, and confrontation. I got to experience my first Behind Closed Doors from the side of an RD, helping facilitate discussion with three of my staff members about their roles as an RA in crisis situations. They all did a fantastic job, and it gave me an opportunity to witness some of their strengths and weaknesses in that area.

We really bonded as a staff this week, even if we couldn’t have everyone there for every day. We learned personal things about each other, discussed True Colours and who leans towards the side of sarcasm in a game of Apples to Apples. We taught each other new games, played Sardines, and met staff members from all the way across campus. Yesterday we had a retreat day and all went to see The Help. I was first-off impressed that my staff decided they wanted to see the film, as it was generally much more serious and thought-provoking than most of the others currently out. It addressed a lot of the diversity issues we’ve been discussing and was also really well done. Everyone said they had a fantastic time, and a few of us played some games when we got back as well.

I definitely feel like I’m fitting in here. Even though I’m missing the city and the Asian cuisine of Berkeley, I’m beginning to find my place here as well. I’ve gotten better at finding my way around both walking and driving, and I now know where some of the buildings are on campus. I really think these are going to be some amazing two years. I can’t wait to tell you all about classes once they start on the 6th…though Wednesdays are going to be tough for sure. We have one class 1-4 and another 4-7. Six hours of class in a row! I’ll be needing to bring food with me, no doubt about it.