Mulling it Over

Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

I am richly complex, and the story I am writing follows suit. I will not give this up to be the “safe choice.” I will not have my ambitions quashed by society’s institutions and individuals that gave up on themselves and their dreams long ago.

This is the story of how I lived, and my biggest hope is that it is far from ordinary.

Via Ashley

San Francisco, with its stars. For more, visit: http://thierrycohen.com/

(Thanks, Ashley, for reblogging all of those pictures. I had heard about them months ago and nearly forgotten.)

 

 

My American Dream

I didn’t intend for this post to be about pizza, but now that I’ve typed “American Dream,” all I can think about is American Dream Pizza in Corvallis.

My apartment is a wreck. I have books everywhere, a basket of clean laundry waiting to be folded, dust bunnies under the desk, and a pair of socks lying on the floor that I kicked off in my sleep. Yes, it’s definitely the end of a quarter. I remember warning my friend after we moved into the residence halls together, “I tend to get super messy when I start to stress out. If you notice it, ask me what’s up. And then I’ll clean up.”

Anyhoo.

It’s the end of the quarter. I have two quarters left. On June 16th, I will be wearing a cap and gown. On June 16th, I will hopefully know if I’m staying in Oregon or headed somewhere new. It’s only six months away, and I’m still not able to see the future.

I’ve been coming up with creative alternate plans, plans that align with some of my other dreams that come with an overactive imagination. I looked into how much it would be to pursue cosmetology. It turns out that a program for esthetics will run about $3600. That’s not bad, considering that when I was younger, the only consistent career path I could come up with was “cosmetologist.” I explained to my mother last night that if that’s the path I go, even when I find that full-time dream job in higher education, I could still contract out to do make-up on weekends and such. School dances and socials? Helllooooooo.

My other ideas include starting the recruitment process for dispatching in the Portland area. I used to joke about becoming a cop, but realistically, I’m not good at the things cops do. What I am good at is taking in information and acting on it. It would be a way to be in something high-stress and related to public service, and with the odd hours dispatchers have to work, I could realistically pick up an internship on the side to continue in higher education.

Other idea? Bartending. I used to work at a local bar in Bellingham, but I was only a front-door cashier. I didn’t have the chance to learn cocktailing and bartending, but maybe someone would be willing to pick up where I left off. I wouldn’t mind slinging drinks to busy patrons. Someone told me I had the right look and attitude to bartend: cute, with a big sarcastic sense of humor. Just sassy enough.

Of course, the dream would be to land a position at a school working in advising or outreach or related support services. I am very much interested in continuing my work with transfer students (meaning on all sides of that transition–whether it’s preparing students at a two-year to transition into a four-year institution or helping them once they arrive at the four-year), as well as multicultural support (e.g., what the Ethnic Student Center at WWU does) and general advising (whether that’s academic or programmatic).

And the dream from there? Well, that’s what I was fantasizing about while drinking my morning coffee and staring at my messy apartment. I hope someday to have a comfortably-sized home with some kind of yard (I’m totally envisioning my house on Ponderosa Court from my junior and senior year, aren’t I?), and well-lit rooms. Adorning the walls will be photos of my travels, and I hope that one of them will be a big picture with my mom and all my cousins and relatives in the Philippines.We’ll all be smiling, laughing at a reunion that was over two decades in the making.

I hope another will be a photo of myself and that yet-to-be-determined significant other, the one who put up with the spectrum of my emotions and my wild dreams of simultaneously seeing the world and grounding myself in a career and life I love. Maybe we’ll be standing at the edge of an Icelandic cliff, overlooking the sea. Maybe it will be us in Las Vegas, without a care in the world. Maybe it will be on the Oregon Coast or a Spanish beach. Who knows?

I sure don’t.

What I do know is, wherever I end up, it will be exactly where I am supposed to be.


Here’s to the next six months. May all your dreams come true, my fellow student affairs grad students.

Serene

I haven’t left my building all day.

It was a welcome “stay in” kind of day, though. It was a “no make-up” and laundry kind of day. A catch up on all work kind of day. A do yoga at home and drink chocolate milk afterwards kind of day.

Serenity comes in many forms for me. Yesterday, it was a sunny drive down I-5 from Portland. The night before, it was dining at Pok Pok and taking in the rich flavors and the good company. Earlier in the week, it was the beautiful flight into PDX from a fun-filled girls’ weekend in Vegas.

It’s been a long couple of years for me. I have a restless soul, and my peaceful moments seem to be overshadowed by personal turmoil often times.

What keeps me going, though? It’s knowing that I’m still here for some reason. It’s that my journey is still in its infancy, and that I am supposed to do great things. I’m good now, but I’ll only get better.

For now, I’ll snuggle up under clean flannel sheets, with a bit of fall air coming through my bedside window. Maybe I’ll dream of something fantastic, something unreal. But maybe it will be reality.

And maybe, those things are actually the same.

Let it Be

I went camping this weekend in Ocean Shores with a big group of people. Some of them were old friends; some of them became new friends. We spent two days outdoors, laughing pretty much the entire time. I’ll admit that we all seem to have an absurd sense of humor–and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

We had our moments, however, when it became clear that we are all people with drive and purpose. For the most part, the people I was with were in helping professions–education, nursing, psychology/counseling, and so forth. And lately, I’ve been thinking about what my purpose really is. I know in general terms, I’m driven to make others smile and to provide a shoulder to lean on. How do I articulate that?

I know in terms of the profession I’ve chosen, it means I want to be that advisor that students feel comfortable turning to. It means that even when I have to go over “boring” details about contracts or policies or program requirements, I do it without reservation and with genuine care. I want the people I work with to know that I care about the work I do, and I want to also be appreciated. I don’t want to feel replaceable or disposable.

I’m a unique little soul, and I don’t like feeling ordinary.

Then again, what truly sets me apart? All my life, academics and my career have been #1–but am I missing out on something? And if so, what? I don’t feel the same pressure to tidy up and settle down that I may have felt a few years ago; maybe what I’m feeling is the nagging feeling that I haven’t laid down any foundations. And if that’s the case, well then… umm… can I simply count a Master’s degree and a general outline as a foundation? And if someone doesn’t think that’s the case, is it still early enough in the game for me not to hold that opinion in high regard?

I have a feeling this next academic year is going to bring a lot more soul-searching, a lot more meaning-making, and a lot more adventuring. I have a lot of things to figure out, like what my priorities are at the age of twenty-five. We’ll see what I conclude in the not-so-far-off future.

For now, maybe it’s best to keep myself happily entertained by creating an alias, or encouraging someone to make a “birthday cake” out of several matches, a marshmallow, and a stick, or sitting on the beach while pretending the incoming fog is really a robot apocalypse. Maybe it’s best just to let it be and also let myself be.

Ambitious

“I really hope I’m not the only one out there realizing I’m not using my full potential in life. If so, I really hope the rest of you realize that soon.” - one of my Facebook friends and former co-workers

I responded, stating that that was exactly the reason I had been perusing doctoral programs at that very moment. To be completely honest, I’ve questioned my decision to pursue the portfolio track in my Master’s program because I know I have the capability to do excellent research and make headway.

The real barrier to research is that I don’t currently possess any burning questions. I have very obvious interests in multicultural populations–namely Asian-American/Pacific Islander and mixed-identity students–as well as advising and international education. However, I would much rather explore first-hand by working in these environments where I can apply existing and new information in order to make a direct impact.

Luckily, what I am seeing is that there is a healthy supply of Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) programs in Higher Education Administration, as well as Organizational Leadership. There are also plenty of relevant Ph.D. programs, and maybe after a sufficient time in the field, I will have narrowed down some research areas.

Regardless of the path I decided to go, whether it be Ed.D. or Ph.D., it’s exciting to take a look at these advanced programs. I may come across as goofy and aloof, but I function at a high-level academically. How wonderful it is to finally figure out that my “dream jobs” all lie within the scope of providing effective and excellent education.

What does excellent mean to me, anyway? It means utilizing as many communication channels as needed in order to reach the students to get the message across that administration is here to help, not hinder. It means not getting lazy about standards and pushing administration and faculty to think with innovation. It means to challenges others to think beyond oneself and be accountable to the whole. It doesn’t mean living vicariously through students, but maybe helping them think of all the possibilities just by leading by example.

Change comes from within, which is why I think that Organizational Leadership would be a good route for me. Maybe I need to become a strong leader from within an organization to plant seeds and generate new ways of administrating and working together across channels, whether those channels be other administrators, faculty, or the students.

Anyway.

Excellent is a loaded word.

But I hope to be nothing less.

Dream Sequence

I dreamt of airplanes over O’Hare. They flew in flocks, like birds crossing the Oregon sky. They alighted upon green hillsides, the airspace too crowded for conventional landings. Each plane was gentle, careful as a butterfly on a spring petal, and the late afternoon sun glinted off their aluminum bodies.

I dreamt of bridges and tornadoes. I ran as fast as I could with no direction, the storm moving closer and closer. I looked back over my shoulder– over and over. The sky turned bluish-gray, never that eerie green seen in Tornado Alley; it eventually parted as a twister reached me. Clouds’ rotation slowed and slowed, as gold and sun triumphed over gray. Instead of dissipating, the clouds transformed into an angel, flowing robes hanging from her body– perhaps she was a goddess– and she spoke to me in the middle of a flowering field. What she said, I do not recall. I felt peaceful when I knew I should have lost my life.

I dreamt of you, coming and going just like the women of whom Prufrock sings. I snarled at you, a fox snapping at her cage, reeling against your presence. I blamed you for my state, and you stared silently, your vacant gaze indicating you still knew nothing of empathy. I remember raising my voice but never shedding one tear. Still, you feigned worry, then continued out the door to a job you would always hate. The kitchen lights– one burnt light bulb, the other flickering– barely illuminated the wall clock.

I did not dream of resolve in the chaos. Instead, I awoke with a sense of dedication. Lost loves, I will forget you all; bit by bit, only the highs and lows will remain until possibility finds its way to me.

Of whom will I dream? Who will inspire me to live life in an unaccustomed fashion? Has he frequented my most unconscious dreamscapes under moonlight’s cautious gaze? Or like the angel from the storm– will he only emerge when all is lost?

*It’s been awhile since I’ve shared any original non-bloggy/non-academic writing. This is just a short piece which  was inspired by a series of dreams I had several weeks ago.