Finding my place

I have found my people.  Quite possibly the last place I would have expected to find them was in a research methods class, but that is indeed where I finally found them.  I feel a little bit like Gonzo must have felt in “Muppets from Space” when, after a life time of being the oddball alien that no one could quite figure out, he was suddenly surrounded by a whole slew of people who looked like him and thought like him.  (yes, I am a Muppets geek. I hope you are too.)

Today was the first “first day of school” that I have experienced in five years.  It was a strange yet exciting feeling to be a student again, pen and notebook in hand, reading over a syllabus.  I must admit I was a bit bummed to realize that my first class of graduate school would be a research methods class, but by the end of the class I was TOTALLY geeked out for the rest of the semester.

How awesome is grad school? Let me count the ways.

1. Being older, more experienced, and, well, adult, your professors are more like peers than they ever were before, only way more knowledgeable than your peers are.

2. You are focused in a subject area that you (hopefully) are really passionate about.  This makes learning much more fun!

3. Because most graduate programs are housed in larger universities, there is a wealth of information/research/resources at your fingertips, specific to your field.  Which is really exciting, especially when you’re in a really tiny field.

4. You’re surrounded by people that are equally geeked out as you about the topics you’re diving into.

Some (if not all) of this information may seem obvious to you, but here is why it is so exciting to me.  As an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college, I was really interested in all the things I’m interested in now, but my professors were not equipped to teach me about these things.  Don’t get me wrong – they were excellent at what they did – but their interests and realms of experience just didn’t encompass my non-traditional interests.  Likewise, my fellow students looked at me somewhat askance when I tried to explain to them how exciting the field of community-based and applied theater was.  Even in the past week, during NYU’s “Welcome Week,” I only met students from other programs who were all somewhat confused by my program.  Now, suddenly, in my first graduate class, I am surrounded by people with similar stories.

So, like I said, I have found my people.  In the words of the community-based play I worked on in Tennessee a few months ago: I am home.

Addendum:
I wrote this two days ago, but due to my lack of home internet until now I am only just now publishing it.  I’ve just come from my second class of the semester, titled “Coping with Conflict: Drama as a Catalyst for Social Awareness,” and I am if possible EVEN MORE geeked out for this semester.  Yay!

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Grateful Sunday

Gratitude. I’m so glad to have these weekly moments to reflect. This week I am grateful for:

  • My sister, who has been taking care of me since the day I was born and still does.
  • Honesty.  People willing to share themselves wholly and fully, and all the beauty and pain that comes with it.
  • Old friends in new places.
  • The majesty of mountains – having just arrived yesterday in the beautiful city of Portland to be welcomed by the majestic view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens watching over the city.
  • Fabric, and all its possibilities.

This is just a short list that could include so many other things.  Please use the comments section to share what you are grateful for this week!

Grateful Sunday: Father’s Day edition

When pondering my “grateful list” today, there was one thing (or, I should say, person) who popped to the top of the list.  Who, might you ask? Why, my DAD of course! It’s Father’s Day, silly! (well, barely, but it still counts).

In performing the annual reflective exercise of why I am grateful for my dad, my newfound context of story-telling came almost immediately to mind.  While it was my mother who instilled in me a profound respect for the written word, my father was the one who gave me some of my most vivid memories of the oral tradition.  As children, my siblings and I would beg our dad to re-tell some of our favorite stories from his childhood.  My dad’s stories  always included plenty of gruesome-yet-hilarious mishaps such as the time his snowball downed a giant icicle only to have it smash him in the face – he got six stitches, if i remember correctly.

To us kids, my father’s childhood was a land of hilarity and adventure, and we longed to have lives as interesting as his so that we too could regale our children with stories someday.  We never thought we could possibly have such fascinating stories to tell. I’m happy to say, however, that as a grown adult, I am quite busy living a life full of fodder for interesting stories.

So Dad, thanks for giving me a foundation to build my stories off of.  Thanks for encouraging me to dream and imagine, for always believing in me, and for teaching me how to laugh at myself when all else fails.  I love you Dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

Yes, that would be my dad gleefully learning how to butcher a pig...

Grateful Sunday

Welcome to the second post in my new tradition of Grateful Sundays.  With this Sunday, I am in a new location: Menlo Park, CA.  I’m looking forward to spending some time with my sister and brother-in-law, and of exploring all the Bay area has to offer!

Things that I’m grateful for this week:

– New friends and all the wonderful ideas, resources, and worlds they introduce me to
– The beauty of nature, and the variety of natural landscapes in this country
– Family
– Having the confidence and determination to make things happen for myself

Gratitude.

Venice Beach, CA

Gratitude seems to be a theme that life is currently bonking me over the head with, so I thought it was time to write about it.  My new favorite gospel song, which I learned during my brief stint in Mystic Chorale this winter, is called “Be Grateful:”

God has not promised me sunshine.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
But a little rain
Mixed with God’s sunshine
A little pain
Helps you appreciate the good times.
Be grateful….

This past Thursday, I went to my first couchsurfing event, a dinner at Cafe Gratitude – a raw, vegan cafe with all kinds of inspiration going on.  Lastly, I met two lovely ladies at a bake sale fundraiser yesterday who shared their blogs with me, and they both appear to do regular weekly gratitude reflections.  (You can find their blogs on my new blogroll on the right side of this page).

My sweet sweet bicycle, loaned to me by my new friend Chris off of Craigslist!

Thus, I thought this seemed like a good time for me to start my own tradition of gratitude-giving.  So here goes!

Things I am thankful for this week:

  • The kindness of strangers
  • The diversity of landscape in this country
  • The moderate temperatures of Los Angeles
  • My legs, and their ability to make a bike go “zoomzoom!” (see, Mazda? not everyone needs a car to do that!)
  • The internet, and the way in which it puts the solution to so many of life’s little problems at my fingertips.

Waiting for….

Everything!

Right now, it feels like I’m waiting on a million things. I’m waiting on CUNY to decide my graduate school fate. I’m waiting on several companies to determine when and in what capacity I can visit them.  I’m waiting to hear if I will have a car to drive for a good chunk of my trip.  I’m waiting for all these tornadoes to pass over me!

Yes, that’s right: we’ve been under a tornado watch since mid-afternoon, with over 100 tornadoes passing through the southeast.  First the school rehearsal was canceled, then the community rehearsal was canceled.  I have spent most of my day and all of my evening inside this big old Victorian house, mostly glued to Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” (don’t hate me, Anj!).  Before I could hole myself up safely inside, however, I managed to take a few pictures:

The infamous train, running straight through downtown Jonesborough.

Yes, this is what the exterior of the abandoned school that we are using for a theatre looks like....

And so, rather than spending my evening in a dark loft controlling lights (which would have been my task tonight, had rehearsal happened), I am here at home, waiting on life.

This morning, after a particularly anxious few hours in which I pondered whether to call CUNY or wait until they responded to the email I sent last night, I sat and prayed over what to do.  Almost immediately, I felt absolutely certain that what I needed to do was forget about CUNY (for the moment), put on my exercise clothes, and go for a run.  Now, for those of you who don’t know me so well, I should explain that this is a fairly odd sensation for me to be feeling.  Me? Run? I would rather do almost anything than that.

Yet today, anxious about my future, it was exactly what I needed to do.  I went down the driveway, turned right on the street, and took my first turn onto a side street.  After about 30 seconds I realized I had just made a huge mistake – I was attempting to run straight up a long, unforgivingly steep hill.  It was incredibly painful to my untrained legs, but I would not let myself stop until I had reached a crest in the hill.  I continued on, alternating between jogging and walking, and went over several more hills (though none quite as painful as that first).  I was rewarded with a series of incredible, breathtaking views of the countryside – sorry I didn’t bring my camera!

At any rate, the point is, it’s a beautiful world we live in.  It can be so easy to get caught up in daily anxieties, but it is important for us to pull ourselves out of the mix sometimes, give ourselves a little perspective, and take joy in small things.  Today was a nice reminder of that, in many ways.