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.

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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.

Memphis: It’s like riding a bike: traveling home and rememberance


I traveled back to Memphis between spring and summer classes. It was a decision I made quickly in March when I heard a friend in Colorado was going to be in town at same time and I wanted to see friends who had lost a dear family member.
Two nights after I flew home, I asked my dad to help retrieve my mother’s barely used bike from the garage. It was a surprise Christmas gift in 2010 that many Memphians gave with the new Greenline newly opened. Anyway, he pumped some air into the tires, adjusted the seat, and I got on.

It jolted me back to my bike riding days on Redfearn Cove in East Memphis. Yes, I’ve taken some spin classes at the local gym, but this was different. I wobbled and didn’t pedal at first. But, I found my balance and rode around our little neighborhood for about twenty minutes.

Bike riding was something I did with the neighborhood kids and my sister, but also begrudgingly with my dad who tried to teach me to ride. It took forever to learn, but now I know I was on schedule. As I got older, the bikes got jammed into the garage with dust gathering–and I moved on.

Ever reflect on certain times in life-maybe childhood, maybe highschool, or a great trip, or a horrible job and say-did that really happen? I’ve had a lot of those thoughts lately about my 29 years. Are they memories I created that happened or just stories told over and over or pictures I’ve seen countless times?

My trip home was like that evening on the bike–wobbling between friends who are creating their own lives without me sharing a lot of it, balancing adulthood and riding in circles around the questions and concerns my parents have for my future.

I know I need to keep peddling forward with my head high, a firm grip, and the wind in my hair.

Summer is coming and I can’t wait to see what it brings.

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.

Seven Weeks


So, here we are seven weeks into the program. It seems longer some days.  Michael Jager early in the week said that people should be at the state of passing out everyday. I know physically some days I could keep going, but mentally…I’m there. 

       I am aware that I am out of shape, so to speak, in academic world. I am so used to working 7:30-4:00, M-F and coming home at night to do nothing/watch TV/be with friends, and my weekends were spent with mindless wandering of stores, movies, TV, travel, sports, or just being in my PJs and doing laundry. Now…it’s work inside the classroom and out. Meetings. Preparing for my future as something other than Laptop Services Coordinator at Saint Agnes Academy-Saint Dominic School. Planning my day around a bus schedule. Walking everywhere…

With that said, I’m impressed with my classmates, our discussions(whether I have something to add or just to listen), the topics we are covering in all four of my classes, and the projects. Photoshop is one of the those tools I hope to master one day. But not this week. I bought all of my books for John Banks’s class, and I know I will read them all cover to cover. Readings in Technology as a Disruptive Force are introducing me to concepts or ideas that I thought I knew, but I am quite mistaken-in a good way.

Ken emailed out the classes for next semester, along with choices for electives. I’m thinking of taking this Paintings in Other Worlds class. Somehow, art and painting have been like a pinprick in my side these last three years-I want to learn all about it, from the inside out. I don’t paint in my free time, but I want to at least try. John told us two weeks ago that we have this small bit of time in our lives here at Champlain to discover ourselves, our talents, and what we want out of this program.

I hope to pass out everyday from it.