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.


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.

Jury duty in Memphis: The loneliest room in the world.

One day in late October I got a phone call from my Dad at work. He wanted to know if it was ok to open a letter addressed to me from a Shelby County government office….um, sure?

It was a summons for jury duty here in Memphis.


I was given a notice to haul myself down to the Cook Convention Center for the “cattle call”  to choose the week that I wanted to serve within the next two months. Sure! Sounds like fun *sarcasm*.

Actually….err, it wasn’t all that bad. A few days after my 28th birthday in early November, I took a few hours off from work and drove downtown, along with the 2,000 or so citizens of Shelby County to sit in a huuuuuge room and listen to Mr. Clyde Carson rattle off rules and regulations about choosing a week for jury duty. Pretty much look at your calendar, listen to the week that is called, stand up, go queue up in line, and hope that you get a little that has the chose date and you can go. If you don’t get a card, sit back down.
It was a pretty easy process, and I chose the week of January 24th-28th, 2011 to serve on jury duty.

Speed forward past the holidays, and here we are Sunday night, January 23rd. I went to bed early, and made sure I had my computer/book/purse ready to go,  and double checked my alarm a few 100 times to make sure I won’t oversleep. I made it to the Shelby County Jury Commission Building in time(with Cafe Eclectic coffee and scone in hand) and picked a seat. Picture a room filled with theater seats and bad wood paneling et voila-“the loneliest room in the world.”

Promptly at 8:30, Mr. Carson strode in to the building with his assistant, and began the 2.5 hour orientation. Rules, dos and don’ts, times, and a quick history of the court system in Memphis made the morning somewhat go by faster.  He tried to throw in some humor every once and while, and that did help those that were nervous(me). Roll was called(many Jones’s, Smith’s, and Brown’s in my group), and he called over 120 people to be selected in the first “round” of jurors before lunch. I walked to the Blue Plate Cafe downtown with a friend(whose husband works with me) for lunch, and my name was finally called at 2pm to go next door to 201, Div 10, Judge Beasley.

His name was familiar to me…oh, right, the Lester Street murder case. GREAT I AM BEING SEQUESTERED! We sat outside the lobby of the court room for about 30 minutes, and then lead in to begin the voir dire process. To make a long story short(and three hours later), my name wasn’t picked, and I was told to return the next morning.

I got to the Jury Commission building at 9:30am and immediately noticed the crowd had significantly decreased. I worked on a crossword puzzle, read a lot of my book, and then after not being called for two groups, was told to go home. And with that, my jury duty service was done for another ten years.

Overall, I didn’t mind the experience. I saw parts of downtown that I never really see or really paid much attention to before–not many really WANT to be at 201 Poplar. I thought Court Square looked nice (during the day), and liked being around the hustle and bustle of the courthouse area. You just have to be positive about your day, expect long hours, wear comfy clothing, and bring a book.

Ever since I got my jury duty summons, my mother(at 64) reminded me constantly that she has yet to be called to serve.