Spring break, oh Spring Break. I think I have a love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it is great to get that breather in the middle of the semester, but on the other hand, I think that ultimately it’s a quite cruel taste of freedom. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed the time off, it was refreshing indeed. This semester has been one of the most different semesters of all. A big part of it is due to my ever-changing routine, more like lack thereof. The beginning of this semester marked the beginning of a transformational process as one of my professors called it- my social work field practicum. But, I’ll go more into detail about that experience later, what brings me here today is a reflection of last week- a true reaffirmation of my passion for co-curricular (term for my Twinkie) involvement.
The week started off my the dreadful catching up at work, the amount of e-mails and voicemails needless to say kept me very busy all morning. It was also good to be back and be able to catch up with friends and such. However, a more important priority approached the next day: the Invest in Texas Legislative Day.
In my role as a Student Government representative this year, I have been able to closely work with other student leaders who are passionate about serving the university and other students. However, the Invest in Texas campaign was a very vivid example of the irrelevancy of a title or an organization name- the real deal is that when someone is passionate and committed, things tend to happen. That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday morning as we marched to the capitol to advocate on behalf of our fellow Longhorns and university for a more affordable, competitive, and safe university. It was overwhelming to see the student turn out, with over 200 students present throughout the day and many hours of work and dedication from student leaders and supporters the Invest in Texas Legislative Day was a success to say the least. Though I had to take the day off of work, it was definitely well worth it. It was a great refresher that despite the diversity in our own individual organizations and leadership roles, at the end of the day WE as Longhorns are able to unite as one.
And that was just the beginning for what was in store for the rest of the week…
[Actually pack clothes for cold weather.]
Thank you to all of those who wished me a happy birthday, since I know many of you read this blog I thought I would just use another platform in addition to text and facebook to express my gratitude. My birthday (March 23) fell on a Wednesday this year which made it just about the lamest day of the week, and I did almost nothing outside of routine on my birthday except get some phone calls at night from those wishing happy birthday (It HAS to be a special day when my uncles call me from overseas!). I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to “advertise” that it was my birthday at work, so I just kept it kind of quiet and work went on as usual. The weekend was much better as I got to spend some time in Austin and hangout with my friends and girlfriend. I went to Holi (an Indian festival where you throw a bunch of colored starch powder on each other) while in Austin as well, but I don’t have any pictures of myself completely covered in powder – at least I kind of fit in more with all of the neon round-up kids in west campus afterwards. I suppose my only excess of the week was going to a nice birthday dinner at FINO with my girlfriend which ended up being >$100 for two people. Yikes!
A lot of people asked me what I wanted for my birthday, but I really couldn’t think of anything that I wanted. I ended up telling my parents that the gift I wanted from them was for them to exercise more and eat healthier, and I told my Uncle I wanted him to buy an awesome stroller for his soon to be born son. It’s come to a point where the best gift that anyone can really give me is their kindness and support – and to stay healthy and happy since it’s no fun when people are sick. Whereas before I could quickly pick and receive things that I wanted but really didn’t need, now my desires are a lot more mature and I am more and more skeptical about buying a lot of material things. Getting some gifts is fine, but I still realize that I am very lucky to be living this life. As is often said, the only things that are needed to live a good life are someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. I have all of these things and so much more, anything else is just the cherry on top.
Happy Monday, everyone! This is a very big week for me, as I head off to my final American Forensics Association National tournament. This is my second-to-last speech tournament ever and I can’t believe how quickly it came. This will be my 7th National tournament with the UT Speech Team and I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to represent the university in the competitive activity of speech and debate.
So the real reason I’ve been laying low is that I don’t have anything to report. I didn’t go anywhere during Spring Break or do anything particularly interesting. While Austin was besieged by techies, cinephiles, and musicians I did homework. Please, no pity. Most people my age don’t have Spring Break and as a graduate student I don’t do well with free time. I even do homework over the summer.
So let’s not dwell in the past. A pretty big milestone is on my horizon and it’s blocking my creative energy. Actually the reason I’ve been away from the blogosphere is that I wasn’t sure how to draft this blog post. I’ve been thinking it over for weeks and because of that I can’t write about anything else. Except for an odd quip here and there about a cool photo I took.
I’m turning 30 in less than a month. I’m not hung up on age. My mother’s family ages freakishly; my 70-year-old uncle just got wrinkles and a few gray hairs. And I’m not upset about where I am in life. I’ve never had a post-college five-year plan. Obviously. So I’m not mourning the lack of a Nobel Prize or anything like that. I just don’t see myself as this age. But I don’t really associate myself with any age, to be honest.
So lately I’ve become obsessed with the age people did things:
1. Jean-Michel Basquiat was only 25 when he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in 1986. He died the two years later.
2. Steven Spielberg was only 29 when he directed Jaws. Julie Andrews was the same age when she was filming The Sound of Music.
3. Kurt Cobain was only 27 when he took his own life.
I don’t mean to be morbid. I was 12 when Cobain died and as many of my friends tried to come to terms with it, the only way I could make sense of it was to blame it on his “adult” problems. He was that far away age of 27 and I was just a kid. Now that I’ve surpassed his age I realize that yes, adult problems exist, but that doesn’t mean I’m any closer to understanding Kurt Cobain.
Which is why age for me is such a peculiar thing to define ourselves by — those numbers change too frequently to mean anything. People will still make a big deal out of it, of course, since it’s some sort of milestone. For me, it’s another decade between me and the ’80s.
To say I’ve been swallowed up whole by the belly of the semester (i.e. scrambling to keep with schoolwork as the semester rushes to a close) would be an understatement. But that doesn’t mean I can neglect the one extracurricular activity that’s been there for me through thick and thin, without ever asking for any thanks, glory, or Christmas gifts. As I prepare a stellar blog post, behold the beauty of spring:
When I just logged on to blog, I realized no one had blogged for about a week and it didn’t immediately occur to me why. Oh wait. It was Spring Break. For the past week, I’ve been working regular 8-5 hours while the rest of my classmates have been off on vacations in some really amazing places (and posting a million Facebook pictures, check-ins, and status just to torment me). It’s been hard and a good test of my motivation. It may be a small breakthrough, but I was focused enough to work through spring break, albeit with visions of a nice long summer vacation creeping in my thoughts. It seems like so long ago that I was in college hanging out with everyone and fumbling through my classes. Definitely weird, but I kind of feel like an adult now with a full-time job, cooking for myself at night, and truly finding my own personal ambitions.
Pursuing this work term has been important to me because it’s definitely a great professional opportunity and a chance to learn how to apply schoolwork to the real world, but more profoundly it is a test of my own personal growth and adaptability. I chose to throw myself away from the personal relationships, places, and routine that I had known to try something new. The world spans quite a physical and cultural distance and I feel proud of my small triumph in tackling an occupational unknown early in my life. I may be more used to being independent since I grew up an only child with busy parents, but I think college kids all need to try to test their independency at some point during their undergraduate years. And I don’t mean just living away from home and having your mom doing the laundry on the weekends, I mean making a pretty significant break and getting away from it all. Meet new people in new places. I personally still have a lot that still needs to be done, but I’m growing everyday.
It’s been interesting not having a spring break and more and more I want to have a relaxing summer. The summer after high school, I researched at UT, then I went to school for the full year, took summer Business Foundations, then took class in the fall and in the winter, and now I am working full-time in Houston. I am just kind of exhausted. I know that I am prone to letting my ambitions drive me to be very very busy and that I oftentimes lose sight of work-life balance, so I really need to regain control. I have summer job offers, but I very much want to escape somewhere. I cannot be the type of person that lets work own his life, especially in these prime years. Maybe I’ll get U.S. citizenship and then I can go off to Europe or something. Who knows…
Cityscapes/Giant Nature photographs always make me feel calm and happy, no matter how cheesy. Guess that’s why they make calendars out of these, in order to keep those who count down the days sane. Prizes to whoever can name the country.
Mine would read: “Daydreaming graduate student seeks new novel for pre-bedtime reading and other moments of reality departure.”
After completing the Harry Potter series this evening, I am adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Is there anything else left to read? Will another novel inspire me to such soaring heights of triumph and devastating lows? Into which other world can I merrily escape?
I know there are novels for adults, the type of classic literature that has deep meanings and is thus analyzed the world over by suffering students. But I’ve read them and have the AP credit to prove it. I don’t want to be bowled over by subtext or overwhelmed by metaphor. I just want another space, carved out especially for me, to sneak into and steal dreaming moments.
And above all, I desperately want J.K. Rowling to continue spinning this yarn. Or any yarn, actually. Perhaps we could become pen pals. I simply refuse to stop listening for her voice and will never relinquish Potter’s adventure.
I just finished with my last class of the week, which means I am officially on vacation for Spring Break! It may surprise you to know that I’ve never had a “real” Spring Break while I’ve been in college. I’ve never had the 9 days off from school to just be a sponge or take a trip. While I have had a great time during Spring Break these past 3 years (I went to New York City for a few days last year and San Francisco the year before!), I have certainly had a wonderful time. That’s because for me, Spring Break is used as a time to prepare for Nationals.
In order to understand my excitement over perhaps the nerdiest thing I’ve done in a while, it helps to go back to the beginning. Or at least to January 13th, when I got my first Smartphone.
Before this gadget, I was pretty indifferent towards cell phones. I held out for years before I got my first one and it was only so my parents could keep in touch with me while I was studying abroad. Until recently I had terrible cell phone etiquette: my cell phone was usually off or nearly dead.
So when the stars aligned after the new year and I had the opportunity to get a Smartphone, I finally gave in. In the twenty-first century saying that you haven’t checked your email because you’ve been on campus all day (hence away from your home computer) is right up there with, “I didn’t receive your pigeon. What was the message, again?”
But what I love most about my phone isn’t the ability to check email; I’m still not sure if I like being able to keep with a five-person thread as it unravels versus catching up with it once it’s complete. What I heart the most is being able to see my calendar, in all its brilliant color-coded glory, on my phone’s screen. I labor for a few hours every Friday afternoon on my weekly calendar, charting appointments, meetings, seminar readings, etc. It’s the one thing I look forward to all week because it gives me a sense of control amidst so much chaos. And the ability to hold that carefully choreographed calendar in my hand truly makes me feel invincible.