Daily Corona-bride Musing

If we postpone the wedding again, at least there may be a chance that I can save enough for fillers and Botox to counter the worry lines that have cropped up.

(We have postponed from April 4th, 2020 to September 12th, 2020, but with a large guest list and significant numbers in the vulnerable group, we may be pushing out the date even further. Of course. It wasn’t enough to wait ten years after the majority of my friends got married. Haha, oh, The Universe–you continue to play jokes.)

Stay home. Save lives. Pray for our scientists and the frontline and essential workers and all affected.

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.”


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.

Waking Hours

The first sign of burn-out?

Trying to spend as much time asleep as possible. I wake up to work on tasks and assignments, then immediately go back to rolling up in a big burrito of flannel-and-down goodness.

It’s not to say I don’t like what I’m doing. I like what I’m doing a lot, but I’m letting the impending reality of the situation get to me. I’m so impatient, and I can’t stand not knowing where I’m moving after this.

In response, my dreams have started to get pretty creative. I mean, the other night, I dreamed I went kayaking by myself in a ruddy old green kayak. I accidentally lost my paddle, so I had to use a big wooden spoon to get back to the campsite. The next thing I remember is a group of high school classmates watching in horror as we pulled up the “class video” we had filmed in 2004. It was like a terrible music video, complete with someone dressed up in a mouse costume, wearing a neon pink shirt with the word “THUG” written across the front in black Sharpie. The mouse was also break dancing.

Maybe I need to lay off the LMFAO videos.

Whatever it is, the uncertainty of the next several months is nagging me.

I still look forward to the upcoming events. In March, there’s the national NASPA conference in Phoenix. I’m going to Hawai’i with my mom over Christmas. Most importantly, my birthday is this Saturday, and gosh darn it, I’m spending it in the city. If it means hanging out with one or two other people and having a great time, then so be it. Finals always fall near my birthday on the quarter system, and I’ve gotten fairly good at clearing my schedule to have fun. (Others don’t do as superb a job, but that’s understandable if you don’t celebrate your birthday on December 3rd.) I’m going to treat myself to good food, a hotel room, probably some new books or clothes, and a trip to the science museum. I can’t wait.

The other uncertainty in my life is the big L-word: L-O-V-E. Oh, I hate not knowing. I hate not knowing when Prince Charming or Mr. Right will show up. I hate not knowing if I have yet to meet him or, if like many of my past suitors, if he’s just doing his own thing until the time is right for both of us. Give me answers, Universe!

Of course, that’s not how things work. I know this. I can’t know who’s going to sweep me off my feet, and I can’t know if I’ll be moving north or south when I can finally place the letters “Ed.M.” after my name. I have to remind myself that this is a journey, and the journey is the good part. Arriving… well… that’s just a fleeting event. A blip on the screen. Getting there–making plans, packing, finding the right outfit for the right day, things inevitably going wrong–that’s the stuff to talk about.

It’s talking about how crappy last Thanksgiving was, getting dumped the first day of a long weekend while out of town, and then talking about everything that led up to how amazingly wonderful this holiday weekend was. It’s talking about how losing one of the most important people in the world moved me to fully commit to a career I love. It’s talking about how without heartbreak I wouldn’t be carefully tailoring cover letters and follow-up emails to jobs I would have blown off until May.

I’ve heard some strange things the past few months. Last year, it was that I was hard to read. This year, it’s that people don’t know how I do it–“it” referring to picking up the pieces and re-building, time and time again. I have no clear answer to that. It’s just a feeling that if I don’t do anything, if I wait idly for opportunity to find me, I won’t get anywhere. Good things come to those who seek it. Not obsessively, but the kind of seeking that comes with wonder and fascination. I’ve gotten this far; what have I learned? Where will it take me?

I’m waiting. I’m seeking.

And yes, I am dreaming.


“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.


Excellent is a loaded word.

But I hope to be nothing less.

My Transcontinental Quarter-Life Challenge and Whatnot

Roz Savage wrote a recent article, “My Transoceanic Midlife Crisis.” It’s an interesting and somewhat inspiring article in which the author explores her transformative midlife crisis, which led her to row solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific. She’ll tackle the Indian Ocean next month, and if successful, she’ll be “the first woman to conquer the Big Three.”

Now that’s stuntin’.

But after reading the article, I thought to myself, “Thank goodness I had my breakdown and my ‘ah-ha!’ moments so much earlier.” Savage worked for about a decade in a job that was stable and predictable; basically, she took the safe way out to figure out what she wanted to do and didn’t get out of that phase.

When I realized what I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing–months after graduation–I took immediate action. Yes, it was a difficult year and then some that followed, but I had no husband, no mortgage, no set, established life to upset. I had a turbulent life that I proceeded to make even more turbulent.

And it made all the difference.

I’m studying a subject that prompts me to click on a flashlight and scribble down thoughts in a notebook at 1AM. I’m trying to secure an internship for the summer, and it’s stressing me out because there are so many options and approaches to get where I want to be–that’s better than feeling resigned. I’m attending conferences and connecting with people not to get ahead but to push myself to keep learning so I can be the best at what I do.

I said so long ago that I wanted to see the world, and through utilization of my networks (new and old), I am finding ways to make it happen. Someone said to me a few months ago, “I love traveling. It’s too bad I’m at that point where I’m just not going to have time to see much more.” He said that because he was resigning to the working world, making it a burden. I couldn’t have disagreed more, considering where I stand in life.

I’ve only explored the metaphorical tip of the iceberg when it comes to travel or my career or even life. I’m twenty-five years young, and the only things that can hold me back are finances and my own ambition.

“The ocean is scary and it’s daunting, and most of the time I wanted to give up” (p. 23, Savage, 2011). I’m sure we’ve all felt that way; just replace “ocean” with another word like “the job search” or “traveling by myself” or whatever scares you. I’m just thankful I didn’t give up when I wanted to because here I am, two terms into my grad career, with a whole slew of new cities and adventures I’ve conquered, and a whole bunch of possibilities in front of me.

That’s not daunting–it’s beautiful.

Infinite, and Beyond

Crazy week here at Trains and Sunsets.

* Registered www.ardithlaverne.com
* Helped out my colleague and friend for a brand-new HigherEdLive.com webcast
* Polishing the last few assignments of the term
* Jetting off to Philadelphia for the national NASPA conference
* Been fighting off some virus that is causing me a deathly sore throat and not going away–not strep, says the health center, but either way, not cool.

Life is going fairly well right now, and I’m glad to be on the other side of an emotional valley. Yes, I am resilient; sometimes, it just takes time to get through. Things are not 100% normal, and that’s fine. I’m still adjusting to the fact that my dad is gone. This redefines many things, but this is also a new beginning for myself.

I am learning to be happy being an individual, being single, being myself. I’ve known that I am awesome for quite sometime, and now it’s really time to think about what I want out of life. For one, I’m considering exploring the Midwest for job opportunities after graduating, and in addition to that–who am I kidding–SoCal is back in the running. I never thought I’d say that, but it is. I’m really excited about those particular areas coming into play. I’m excited about being in a position to be thinking about packing up when I’m done at OSU and going wherever the wind takes me.

Beauty through strength. Adventure awaits.

I’ll get back on a normal schedule when NASPA conference is over, hopefully.

‘Til then, love love love…