On the 17th of this month I reached the four year mark since I flew to Tanzania. I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve really been slacking off with my blogging, but this is certainly an occasion worth writing about.
Going to Africa had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. At least since I saw the Lion King for the first time. Travel has always been a passion of mine, one that has been slow burning in its fulfillment. When I first started college I had no idea I would go to Africa by the time I graduated. I first entertained such an idea when I transferred to my four year institution. During orientation week I found out there would be a trip to Tanzania, rather timely since I was taking African Civilization I at the time. Once the applications went live I filled one out and submitted, and to my utter shock I actually was accepted (though it turned out everyone who applied was accepted.)
The acceptance email came during Fall semester finals week, so I finished that first term on the highest possible note. During that Spring semester the other students and I attended weekly classes in order to prepare, I additionally took African Civilization II. We embarked about a month after the school year ended and were their for five weeks.
Four years. Damn. As a child the thought of traveling the world as an adult seemed like a distant dream. Hell, being an adult was a distant dream back then. Yet four years have slipped by with me hardly noticing.
Every new year it takes a while for the year to break in. All of January is spent correcting what year I wrote. However for me it seems each year moves by more rapid than the last. When I was younger years seemed like an eternity, and that’s how it is for most people. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of me getting my Bachelor’s, yet the five years it took to get it seems to have went by faster than the two years since. I suppose that sounds contradictory, perhaps it is. When I was a student every day was filled with events, most memorable. Now I really only have events no more than two or three times a week. Usually just once. Hopefully that will change soon.
Recently I visited my alma mater and had a conversation with a friend who will be graduating this coming weekend. We caught up, then he talked about his plans for life after graduation. I told him how surreal it is to attend events as an alumni. Every time I do I recognize less and less faces.
However I have never been to any events specifically for alumni, although they do send me invitations in the mail every other month or so. Often those events are in California or elsewhere, and I can’t afford to buy a plane ticket just to attend. Even when they are in state they tend to be way too expensive. The annual black tie gala starts at $500 dollars a person. Several of my more affluent classmates have already went, but me and the friend I visited with both will not be able to go for many years. Both of us agreed that when we do, we will have to flaunt our success to the other attendees. I’ve decided I will wear a top hat, and possibly other things such as white gloves, tails, and maybe even a cane.
So far my life can be divided into several discernible chapters. Some of them have a predictable beginning and end, others transfer rather abruptly. My teen years were mediocre. I was involved in Boy Scouts and youth group, those were my primary social outlets because I was homeschooled. When I was 17 my mom said “I signed you up for Running Start, you begin classes in September!” and with that a new chapter was abruptly announced. That was 17 years ago, now I am in a transitional chapter that I hope will end as soon as possible.
As an aspiring writer I’ve always felt a milestone that would indicate that I’ve made it in the publishing world is if there is a Wikipedia article about me. A few times I’ve told people that and they said “I’ll make one for you!” or something to that effect. While I appreciate the thought, they missed the point. The reason I believe having a Wikipedia article is an indicator of success is because it indicates that I’ve made my self well known enough that someone I’ve never met took time out of their day to write an article about me. Especially one that meets Wikipedia’s near indecipherable notability standards. A Wikipedia page about me written by a friend right now would get deleted within 24 hours, probably within a few hours.
I’ve never met any major celebrities per se, but I have met and even known a few people with Wikipedia articles. Here is a list of them in no particular order:
According to TimeHop today is the three year anniversary of being bestowed with an Outstanding Writer Award from my school’s student newspaper. My editors deemed me to be the best writer for my beat, and I was blown away. I had no expectation of winning anything. When I became a staff writer I just wanted to practice my writing, become more connected with campus happenings, plus there was a nice $75 direct deposit for each issue. Getting an award made me think I had potential in journalism.
I was a Senior the following year and between semesters I applied to University of Oregon’s Journalism program. Within a week of sending in my finished application packet I got accepted. Then towards the end of my last undergrad semester I was bestowed the Best News Writer Award. This was even more unexpected. In two school year’s time I went from being a fresh recruit, to being best writer in my beat, to the best writer in the whole publication. Winning Best News Writer made me even more excited to start J School, and I was already pumped.
Hadn’t even finished my Bachelor’s and I was already an award winning journalist. I thought I had a promising future ahead of me in journalism. Within six months I knew I was wrong (check earlier entries for details).
When I initially withdrew from grad school I felt relieved. A dead albatross was no longer hanging around my neck, I was so happy I took it off on my own terms. Naturally I started job hunting and at first it seemed like there was a world of opportunities. However there wasn’t. For every promising lead posted on any job finding site there are at least twenty postings for jobs outside of my skillset and completely irrelevant to the search terms. Staying at home all day every day with little to anticipate is soul crushing.
Last month I started volunteering for two local museums. One is a historical home and the other is a more general town museum. Volunteering there three times a week has done wonders for me. Now I finally have something to do and look forward to and am beginning to hone skills relevant to my history degree for when I apply for a promising job in the future, along with extending my network.
Another thing I have been doing is taking DSLR classes. I got a Canon for my birthday, so I’ve been doing a weekly class at a local nearby community college. Right now I’m doing the second part, the first part three weeks ago. Pretty soon I’ll be creating an online portfolio, I’ll post a link here once I do.
As I had mentioned in an earlier post, last quarter I was on academic probation and was at risk of being dismissed from my grad program in I failed to get my GPA up to the minimum. Well this time my quarterly GPA was better and did go somewhat up, but it was well below the minimum. In fact, I got the first D of my academic career. My ADA coordinator told me the best case scenario would be that I be allowed to stay another quarter and be allowed to complete the degree if I adequately raised my GPA. It’s a year long program. If I did, I would get permission to take two classes a quarter instead of three and retake the classes I didn’t do so hot in, which would mean graduating the year after.
That option seemed unsavory. Having just scraped by a quarter with the risk of dismissal over my head, I didn’t want to go through another such quarter. Even worse, this time there would be the risk of of spending all that extra time and money for me to be dismissed from the program after completing 75% of it. Another concern was that being able to stay and complete the program would be a Pyrrhic Victory, where the battle is one at the expense of winning the war.
For that reason I decided it would probably be wisest t0 withdraw from the program. Initially I was waiting for word back from the department, if they dismissed me it would eliminate the choice for me and if not I wanted to know what they offered. However after returning home I decided to go ahead and withdraw before they did. I wanted to leave the program with some dignity.
On December 20th I was no longer a Duck. It only went uphill from there.
Now I am looking for full time employment. Hopefully I will find a job before the end of May, when the cohort ends. Obviously the sooner I get something the better, but I do want to enter the real world earlier than I would have if I stayed in the program and graduated on time.
During undergrad I lived in the dorms. Doing so provided the perfect mixture of both community and convenience. Now that I’m in grad school at the University of Oregon I live in an apartment off campus, UO does have graduate dorms but they fill up quickly with preferential treatment given to those with spouses and/or kids. My apartment complex is exclusively for college students. However it doesn’t remotely feel like a dorm. You don’t really know your neighbors, there are no RAs, educational bulletin boards, or halls decorated in a theme that changes every term. Lacking RAs is a real problem, because there are obnoxious assholes who scream and holler for no apparent reason between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM without any consequence. Had there been RAs those loudasses would probably get fined and written up.
Unfortunately the complex is located right next door to a Holiday Inn and they are building an additional wing. My room is located right next to the construction. Fortunately the construction stops around sunset, so I only have to hear the aforementioned hollering imbeciles. However if I wake up early I will hear the construction load and clear. Having just ended dead week and currently entering finals week, I just get out of bed and begin working on assignments.
Nothing sucks more than being confused about an assignment deadline. While I was able to get a lot done over Thanksgiving break, I didn’t realize that I had a major assignment due tonight. I thought it wasn’t due until next week. I’m pretty much done in all my other classes, so I can finally zero in on completing this draft. This has been a stressful semester, especially with the additional burden of being on academic probation. I just remind myself of what Dory would do. Just keep swimming.