Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer.

Graduate School: 365 days in Vermont…almost.


 

swing, clouds, south american swing
Swing Out

It’s been almost three months since I last paid attention to my blog. I just completed the longest 12 week sprint of my life with four classes, a fellowship, an internship, and moving into a new apartment. My brain and body are tired. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this summer, but I feel that I have grown a lot from May, and have grown a lot since January.

On August 16th, 2011, I said goodbye to the parents, to my friends, and to Memphis. It seems like a decade ago. I’ve accomplished, failed, struggled, laughed, bonded, explored, walked, moved, typed, blogged, tweeted, posted, read, collaborated, created, prayed, rendered, cried, ate, drank, hiked, imbibed, bended, and appreciated what these last 365 days done to me.

I’ve learned that my classmates moods, thoughts, ideas, actions, and words can change with the seasons and so can mine. We are an eclectic group that has two more semesters together before we scatter to the winds. I am really looking forward to this fall. I know what I need to do. Mostly. I have ideas, and I know my limitations. Yet, those can change. I know they will, but I hope not. The job search will begin in December with me spiffying up the portfolio, and resume, and my social media prescience.

Has this move towards a new future been easy? Not really. I had expectations of people and was let down. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions these past three semesters and some emotions have risen from the bottom of myself, screeching for me to question them. I haven’t been able to make the friends I thought I would be able to make(exterior friends from graduate school) or connect into Burlington. It’s been lonely to be honest. Yet, I still get out there and explore. Maybe this is the universe and God’s way of saying Burlington is just a stop along the way. It is shaping me, giving me tools post May 2013. Hell, it’s giving me tools now. I haven’t done so well in the dating scene or really any scene. I’ve had to push past Southern stereotypes or assumptions by people. It is what it is. Yet, it’s annoying.

I don’t know if any of my friends ever read my blog, but thanks for the support of me and my new life. You know who you are.

I don’t know if my MFA diploma will lead me back to Memphis ever to live and work. I’ve enjoyed the car-less lifestyle way too much.

I don’t know if I will want to be employed right away. I don’t know why I’m already talking about something seven months away…There a lot of “I don’t knows” and that’s fine.

Here’s to the home stretch.

Here’s what stuck: First semester of MFA over.


Previously, I had written about my week of hell with school. So much was due in a span of three days PLUS speaking in front of the Burlington public that we had to put on all by ourselves. We made it through pretty well.

If you are interested in seeing my portfolio(which I had to cobble together, along with the final daily project, and the “Come Together” video), go here.

If you want to read about my semester in my Technology as a Disruptive Force class, go here.

Want to watch the Symposium video? Go here. I’m in the beginning of the video in a skit, and then again around the 40 minute mark. Wait for the video to completely load first.  I encourage you to watch it all to get a grasp of what I am studying, reading, discussing, and thinking about on a daily basis.

Here’s what I learned:

-No amount of planning can prepare you for making mistakes. I dropped the ball within a group project and I didn’t plan on throwing out an almost completed project to start over when it was due in 12 hours.

-A group of 12 people who are still learning from each other in the first four months of a graduate program can do pretty cool things under pressure.

-Project managing is a gift that I am hope to hone better this spring semester. I was originally assigned another project, but within a week of that assignment, I was assigned another, and it was baptism by fire. Champlain College is acquiring some pretty kick ass undergrads. I’m happy to have had them on our team.

-Yogurt, Dunkin Donuts hash browns, a shit ton of Starbucks chai lattes, and no sleep will produce some, uh, interesting art work.

-I realize that I am an art student, a design student, and a critical thinker. I’m not a perfect one, but I feel I can grow while I’m in Burlington.

-Asking for help and being vulnerable about your flaws is a trait that I need to work on a lot.

Spring semester 2012…here we go.

Intergenerational


For the last two weeks, I’ve spent my Tuesday evenings at Wake Robin, a retirement community in Shelburne, VT(not far from Burlington proper). I immediately said yes to helping the residents in the Geek Lab classes who needed extra one on one time that Jeff couldn’t give. I was given two “students”, Mary Jane and Don, who wanted more help with podcasting, and they were hungry, so to speak.

Very hungry.

My classmates and I got to eat dinner at Wake Robin(not bad at all, actually), and then got to work. Mary Jane and Don both had PC computers, but Mary Jane’s wasn’t a laptop, so we would work with my Macbook and Don’s Dell laptop. She had questions about what is a podcast, how to do it, but we had to start from the very beginning.

They both knew of iTunes, but needed AppleIDs. So, checked that off the list-they now can download iTunes, subscribe to podcasts(after a tutorial of how to find them), and browse for books(yet they need a ebook reader). Don was very hesitant to give his credit card information and so was Mary Jane–interesting to once again see the age factor play here. I have no fear, yet they do. So do my parents.

We veered off topic, and they asked about Pandora, and Mary Jane wanted to learn how to record her own voice. The second week Mary Jane couldn’t attend, but Don and I got him signed up for Pandora and we made a few stations for him: Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, a classical station, and Nat King Cole. He’ll being jammin’ in his home in no time! He was pretty pleased. Don also got to learn about Skype, and he and I practiced so that he can talk to his granddaughters. Success.

Twitter was not in the cards for him-we tried about four times to get him signed up, but either Wake Robin’s internet connection was slammed with users, or Twitter was having problems at that point. He wanted to know what is a tweet, and just what Twitter is used for in life. He decided not for him, but maybe Facebook? So now, Don, at 83 years of age, is a Facebooker, a Skype user, a Pandora listener, and an iTunes podcast fan.

It was great to meet them, and I had a small emotional moment in the bathroom. I think this week was in general hard for me(boss from Memphis lost his dad this week whom I knew pretty well, homework is taking a toll, my 29th birthday is next Friday, I think I’m getting sick and I’m just tired) and I couldn’t help think of my own grandparents. I only have one grandmother left after my paternal grandmother died a week before I left Memphis to move here. My maternal grandfather was heavily into computers when he was alive, and was a data processor for the city of Memphis. He died in 1990 at the young age of 72. I can’t help think that I am carrying on a part of him with my laptop tech job, and this degree program.

As I sat with Don, we had a lull while Skype was connecting, and he asked when I taught computer in Memphis if I had my students learn typing. I told him I did and they learned speed drills, correct hand placement, and I had them even hide their hands under a piece of paper to learn coordination and memory. He shared that in WWII he was in the Army Services as a morse code translator and had to learn to type while listening to the code. It was like I was sitting with my grandfather telling his own army stories.

As I talk with first year MFA students, I can’t help but wonder if this could be a career-helping “older folks” learn technology, or just help/consult those who need advice or instructional help, or a possible thesis?

Mary Jane and Don have left a great impact on me, and I hope I have with them. They just want to be heard, to not be forgotten, and to keep up with the rest of the world.

Six Years: How I Quit my first job


After doing all of my sight seeing, completing my 2011 summer wedding duties, and tried to keep myself together after the end of Harry Potter, I left my job.

I began a job in August of 2005 with the intention of just staying until I found something better.

Ha.

I  can remember applying for a job in September 2005 at Rhodes College as an Admissions Coordinator, and never heard from then about if I got it or not—I was 23 going on 24 and had weekly “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?” attacks and crying sessions whatever friend would listen. In the spring of 2006,  I was asked “Want this job?” Well…yeah. Not much else to do and I like having a salary. So, for the next five years, I shaped the role of my position-one part service technician, one part administrative assistant, one part instructional designer, and one part teacher of all ages of children. That fall, I also took on the role of classroom teacher to two sections of freshman girls(the highschool is all girls…which is also my alma mater) which entailed vocabulary, computer applications, study skills, and this program called AlchoholEdu, AND my job as the laptop services coordinator. It was a lot on a plate. Two sections out of the office, then hurrying back to do your regular job will leave a person’s head spinning(or maybe just mine). I’ve never had teaching experience before then, and the Dean of the Upper School, along with a few other administrators had a lot of faith and trust in me. I fumbled all the time, and somehow got through the year with that hat on my head, and a lot of stress on my shoulders. I grew up a lot that year, and I definitely look back with life lessons.

I digress.

As the school years went on, we got a new building built, I moved into my first two apartments, and I began to like my job. There was one school year where I did dread to come to work every day-we had really bad Apple iBooks and every day there were at least 20-30 computers throughout my day with problems, teachers constantly needing me and my co workers, and I never could stay above water. I think this is what drove me into depression, and I had to talk to a therapist. ADHD medicine was prescribed, and I barely got by.  Problems from childhood, with my parents, with my self esteem, and overall outlook in life poured out of me at these sessions, and it was just a crap year. Somehow, I got through it. I am still putting pieces of me back together even today.
Last summer, I was in a wedding in Minneapolis when the urge of doing something “else” starting poking at me. At this point, I was 27 going on 28, and many, MANY friends were getting married or starting families, (and before you all say “that’s ok! it’s just not your time yet!” I know that. I do.) My friend Anna was very encouraging about applying to a school in Paris, France, and to a school in Vermont.

All of my friends were encouraging, which helped. I was very hesitant to share with people my ideas because I felt like the outsider-everyone seemed to be getting their proverbial shit together-house, job, spouse, kid.  I still love the apartment life and going to movies by myself, and not dating. At all.  Which is a whole other story.
So, I applied to those schools, and to NYU, and I got accepted to Champlain College, rejected at American University of Paris, and waitlisted at NYU. Alrighty. After months of keeping things quiet at work, I told my boss that we need to talk around Easter time of this year. I was at the tail end of wrapping up my first master’s degree at Appalachian State, and he figured something was going to happen. I was shocked on how well he took that I am leaving and moving to Vermont.  The news was broken to faculty and staff, and summer began. I worked at the school all summer to finish what I had started and trained the new guy.  I ate at Memphis restaurants, drank a lot of ice tea, and hung out with friends.  Drank beer at weddings.  Soaked up the South as much as possible.
I left home August 16th-a week ago tonight. I am somewhat settled into my place in Burlington and have four housemates, one of which hasn’t moved in yet. I’m getting used to not having a car, and walking to places.  My orientation for Champlain College starts this Friday and I can’t wait to get rolling on classes, my fellowship, and having my days planned out. I miss home, but don’t want to miss out on my life. I can finally figure out who I am in life-I have never  left Memphis, sans travel. I stayed for college, went back to my high school for a job, and I worked with my mother. I stayed in a bubble of protection, and at 28, damn it, it’s way overdue.

I know everything happens for a reason. I could have left Memphis at 24 or 25, but I don’t think I was ready or had to gumption to do it. I still don’t have ideas of what my life is going to be, but I look back on it so far with better clues.

So here I am.  Let’s do it.