Graduate School: The Vermont Crows and me

Vermont Crows, evening sky, flying overhead, winter, instagram, burlington vt
Vermont Sky, 5pm

It seems when I am walking home during the week that it is usually between 4:45pm-5:30pm. I don’t need a watch or a glance at my iPhone because overhead I can hear and see the murder of crows flying to their perches. Willard Street in Burlington has large, old oaks, hemlocks, and pine trees that these birds love to flock to at this time of day. It’s fun to just stand in the middle of the sidewalk and watch this curtain of black birds envelope the sky for a few minutes. It’s clockwork, it’s routine, it’s predictable.

Since I last posted, my thesis work is chugging along with deadlines approaching SOON. My thesis consists of a paper and an artifact(an art piece) that represents my work. I am looking at how people of all ages have accepted or have resisted technological change in their lives. Do we have to adapt or change? Why do we hold on to our nostalgic pasts? How is technology helping us in our work? What are our first technological memories? By conducting interviews recorded by my iPhone, I am digitally editing these interviews on Garageband, and then recording the .m4a’s to cassette tape. Those tapes will be put into Califone shoebox tape players and will be hung up(or mounted…installation final word is still debatable) for people to listen to the stories. Old media meets today’s new media. Obsolete objects that are losing their tangible place in the music world are still relevant, still be used. It’s a metaphor for people-senior citizens can feel left behind or out of touch because they don’t know how to use today’s technologies and today’s “digital natives”(a term I’m starting to dislike) are at a loss of proper social skills or social cues due to too much screen time or the use of digital tools during face to face time. My classmates and I will have a show on May 3rd in Burlington and I’m excited for the show. I graduate the following week. These semesters seemed so long when I was in the middle of them, and now the end is nigh.

Once again, I’m at a point of unpredictability. I’ve been accepted to the American University of Paris’s summer French immersion program and my dream is here. Yet, what if a dream job is offered post graduation? I’m looking at everything from all angles, but I know if six weeks of my life isn’t spent in Paris, I’ll live with resentment and regret.

I guess I just answered my problem. It’s just the usual worries-money, finding a job, money, paying off student loans, money, job searching and job waiting.

Maybe my crow friends have a secret I don’t know-they always know where to land. Everyday like clockwork. When days are tough, I’ll just look up and wait.


Graduate School: Almost the End

I made it to the Burlington airport about two hours early for my flight today. I overestimated how long it would take to get up, finish cleaning up my place, and make it out the door to run a quick errand before I get something to eat at a coffee shop and to the airport.

I have time on my hands to people watch and to reflect over the last semester. I feel like I ran another race this fall with my four classes, my small teacher assistantship(which really was more of printer paper refilling than actually helping students), and prepping for my thesis work. One of my classes, Collaborative II, was a continuation from my summer Collaborative I class and it was my first time to work with a client for over seven months. It was a lot of work, time, meetings, planning, and a super big presentation in late November. I feel confident that we impacted the group of stakeholders who attended and would love for the project to receive funding, but I want nothing to do with it for four months. I learned to let go of expectations, and just push forward. Focus on myself. Prepare for my future.

Flying home to Memphis this Christmas time may be different that last year, possibly because I don’t know the next time I’ll be in Tennessee. I hope to see people I haven’t seen in months and talk to my grandmother as much as possible. My thesis may get some attention(I definitely need to do interviews), but I also just want to watch the 200 channels my parents have on their TV, eat barbecue, and see Les Miserables.

These next ten days will be a change of pace, and I guess I need it. Merry Christmas all.

Here are some crazy cool things I found on the interwebs:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Thrift Store”

John Lewis is a English store that apparently does really great commercials. Here’s their Christmas ad from 2011.

Courtesy of my sister who posted this on her Facebook via Lisa Congdon


Did y’all catch this photo of cast of The Princess Bride 25 years later?


An entire Tumblr dedicated to everything Christmas.

Probably the most honest statement made about the Newtown, CT tragedy.  It’s not just a gun control issue, but also a mental health issue.

Time for a change

One of the many things on my plate in late November/early December was the application process for Design for America. If you have been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve seen me promote this organization like it was my job. My professor tasked my class to get this organization to Champlain College.

From the website(because I can’t write it better): “Design for America(DFA) is an award-winning nationwide network of interdisciplinary student teams and community members using design to create local and social impact. DFA equips this generation with the mind-set and skill-set to look locally, create fervently, and act fearlessly.”

We are trying to use design to fix Burlington, Vermont basically. I am in a new city where I am learning everyday about it-the good and the bad. If I was in Memphis, I could rattle off twenty things that could be done. It’s different now for me.

By the skin of our teeth, my classmate Cora and I got the application submitted(which consisted of another classmate, Jess, and I asking students to take a picture holding a “I Heart DFA” sign, creating a video of Burlingtonians talking about the good/bad points(classmate Robin and Rachel were the producers of that piece), and then making a poster of the I Heart DFA images). It was a lot to do in two week time frame.

We made it past round one, and on Thursday of this past week, the operations manager of DFA flew out from Chicago to hold a workshop for all those interested in a DFA Champlain. It was powerful to see so many students, faculty, and people from the Burlington community brainstorm, discuss, and produce deliverables of a better BTV in about two hours. We now have to make a two minute video on a month long project for round two, and then we will know in May if we are granted some DFA lovin’.

The director of DFA is from Burlington, and is a hip, hip lady. Will this help with being selecting? It wouldn’t hurt. I hope my classmates and I can leave a legacy at Champlain with this studio. I hope.

Sunday funday

Here begins another week. I’m starting my third week of classes and it feels less nuttier than the first. Maybe I am getting use to Burlington, the citizens, and the routine of Champlain? Hm. I had my fourth acupuncture “nap” Saturday morning, and I think she is going to make a new plan for me. The winter is affecting me pretty harshly–very tired, thirsty, and not sleeping so great.  It also didn’t help that I went out for beers with classmates the night before…oops. My four classes have upped the reading this go around. I had to buy about 8 paperbacks for one class last fall, and only read two. Pretty pissed. So, now I am getting my readin’ on.

I’m learning how to eat humble pie with my art class. Lots of talented 19/20/21 years olds in this elective class, and somehow I am surviving with my crappy drawing. I hope to look back in April and laugh with pride. We’ll see.

Here are some things I am looking at on the web lately:

Last week, I painfully read the post thatHeather and Jon are taking a break. Possibly a Ross and Rachel type break. I really hope for time to heal their wounds because they are a great family and original, hilarious people. I’ve been reading Dooce for a few years now, and I feel like they are a second family. Funny how you can become so close to people who you only know through photographs and blog posts.

The Avett Brothers, “Backwards in Time.”


I’m a little late in the Goyte boat, but, damn, this song. THIS SONG. “Somebody that I Use to Know.”


All this dog wants is a treat. You, human, are a jerk.

My rockin’ classmates, Rachel, Greg, and Cora showed my class this video during our Tuesday night class. If this doesn’t create a lump in throat, or makes you stand on your desk and shake your fist with inspiration, then you just suck. Charlie, you are the man.

Have you seen this commercial yet?

Want a book recommendation? The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Read it. Love it. Devour it.

Mavis Staples is Memphis, and I smiled with childish glee when I watched this impromptu sing a round(I made that word up).



Icebox living-or how I am surviving a Vermont winter


I’m typing below three blankets, while wearing long underwear, and my space heater is on level 2 of 4.

Welcome to January in Vermont. It’s a wee bit chilly. UNDERSTATEMENT of the year, and it’s January 15th(or 16th) depending on when I hit send at the end of this thing). Layering and snow boot wearing is the look du jour.

Catch up:

Acupuncture is amazing, and super helpful to me right now. If there are offerings near you, go out of your comfort zone and try it.

I’m back to taking four classes this semester–3 core classes( Digital Storytelling, Play and Participaton, and Human Interface) and one elective(Painting Other Worlds). I’m glad to be back to a routine.Somewhat.

I have two new housemates, L and I. I just moved in today…still figuring him out. So, me and three boys. Living with dudes is actually quite easy when I don’t have to share a room, or haggle for the remote. I recommend it for you, ladies, if you need roomies of the platonic kind.

I’m already thinking of travel plans this year…ideas?

I can’t wait for summer in Burlington. It will be weird being the only MFA class–class of 2012 will have gotten their degree, and the class of 2014 isn’t here yet. My cohorts are already wondering about them. Also, summer in VT will not feel like an oven, a la Memphis.
I won’t be back in the 901 until…so enjoy 2012, Memphians, cuz I can’t do it with you.

Here’s to learning how to cope with coldness until May(April??).