We Are Not Invincible

This is not the tone I expected my first blog post of 2016 to take on, but it’s been weighing on my heart and I need some relief.

Today is January 1st. It’s a day when everyone is so full of hope and enthusiasm about the year to come. We’ve made it through 2015 and now 2016 is here and it’s wide open. The possibilities are endless. The future looks bright. This will be our year. The world is ours.

How trite of us to think this way. 

As I type this, I’m getting ready to attend the funeral of a dear neighbor. Yes, on the first day of 2016, I’ll be saying goodbye to a person who has been a fixture in my life since the day my family and I moved into the ugly, grey (but wholly our own) one-family home across from hers. I was 9 when we moved in. My grandmother would pass away later that month. It was January.

Our neighbor, who we lovingly called Ms. Smith*—partially out of respect and partially because we never knew her first name—was a kindred; a fellow West Indian who was generous with her friendly waves and smiles. Although I didn’t know her well enough to call her a close friend, she and her family were part of the fabric of home to me. And now she’s gone.

That is why, reader, I’m writing to remind you that neither you, nor I, nor anyone you know will live forever. For some of us, this may indeed be the last new year we have the pleasure of celebrating. Don’t be cocky. Don’t behave as though you’re invincible because the immutable truth is that you aren’t.

So, savor every moment you have. Tell your love ones how much they mean to you. Work hard. Play hard. Don’t leave tasks for tomorrow that you can do today. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted because things can change in an instant. Acknowledge that forever hasn’t been allotted to you and take the finite time you have on this earth to make it a little bit better. And maybe a bit more neighborly.

-Monique

* Not her real name

Advertisements

I just made my first loan payment

…after deferring my student loans for the past year and I feel a little bit dead inside. 

It’s sickening how the desire to better oneself through higher education is a decision that may very easily put you in the poor house. 

Yes, it was my choice to attend the fancy, brand-name university. No one forced me to sign my name and my life on the dotted line, so I claim full responsibility for that.

But was it wrong of me to want to invest in myself? Was it wrong for me to, just once, want the best of something and not have to settle for “good enough”?

That being said, I don’t regret my  decision to attend a prestigious (read: expensive) institution; I received the type of education I had been dreaming of my entire life. 

Still, it’s demoralizing for society to tell a child from a city where there’s very little hope of upward mobility that college is her only way out and then make it impossible to afford.

Like the carrot dangled in front of a hungry horse’s mouth, yanked away if ever the horse gets too close, so the dream of a better life eludes those who need it most.

You can get ahead in the world, so long as you (or your parents) have the money to pay for it. And if you don’t, God help you. 

Old Ending + New Beginning

My internship with Tinybop has officially come to an end. It feels like I’d just started there yesterday, but 8-ish months have passed. I can’t believe it. 

I’ll never forget my time there, my lovely coworkers, or the amazing work I got to be part of. They’re really innovating the educational media landscape and I got to see it up-close (and put in my little two-cents where needed).

Now here I am on Monday morning, heading to my first day at my new position. I’ll be working with kindergarteners throughout NYC as part of this massive research undertaking. Thankfully, the whole month of September is dedicated to training, so I and my cohort of 23 other facilitators won’t be seeing the kiddos until October.

I would liken what I’m feeling this moment to first-day-of-school jitters; I’m full of nervous excitement and I think it shows. Still, I’m ready to see where this next adventure takes me. 

Wish me luck!

Doing the Most

I have a lot going on at the moment and in spite of myself (and the exhaustion I’m battling daily), I kinda like it this way. It’s all too easy for me to fall into idleness in the form of an endless cycle of Netflix and naps, so spreading myself a little thin for a couple of months is a welcome test in elasticity.

As I’ve been horrible at blog upkeep (oops), you have no idea what I’ve been up to, so here’s a not-so-quick recap:

  • I’m still interning at the educational media company I’ve been with since January, but I leave at the end of August because:
    • I’ll be starting a new position on August 31st as a Math Facilitator for kindergarteners as part of this interesting longitudinal, NYC-wide research project. I’m SUPER excited about it.
  • I’m taking a GRE prep course because:
    • I’ll be applying to masters programs in educational media/technology for Fall 2016.
    • Relearning math has been especially challenging, as I’d only taken one math class in college (Statistics, in which I got a shiny “D” ), but it’s slooowly coming back to me.
  • I was also planning on applying for a Fulbright grant to teach English in Sri Lanka, but I’ve decided to postpone it for the time being.
    • Maybe next year!
  • I’m on my church’s scholarship committee and we’ve been hard at work preparing for the application process to begin.
    • This is our scholarship’s first year back following a short hiatus, so I’m excited to see how we do.
  • I’m improving my eating habits and exercising (almost) daily before work.
    • I’ve already started seeing results. *flexes muscles*
  • I’m learning how to skateboard!
    • I’ve been going to an adult beginner skateboarding class (yes, those exist) and it’s SO MUCH FUN.

So, THAT’S what’s been sapping up all of my time and energy as of late. I’m literally doing the most, but I’m pretty content with it. The one thing I wish I had more time for is writing. Though, not as GRE essay prep or personal statement drafts; I miss writing fiction and screenplays and random blogposts about nothing. Here’s to trying to squeeze that into my already packed days.

Sleepy & Filterless (A Life Update)

Sorry in advance for any typos, continuity issues, run-on sentences, or overall foolishness; the title of this post is an accurate description of my present state of existence.

———-

It’s been a mighty long while since I’ve made a post here (my apologies, I’ve been distracted), though I’m ready to change that right now. You see, I should be doing my hair and making sure it’s somewhat presentable for church tomorrow, but I haven’t the energy nor the patience to make that happen without my tufts of tangled coils ending up as litter in my carpet. I am in NO condition to wield a detangling comb, so I’m just going to put on my satin bonnet and call it a night in that department.

Now, back to whatever it is that’s happening right now with this blog post. I guess I could fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately. Since early January I’ve been interning (yes, I’m a postgrad intern, again) at an educational media company in Brooklyn. My primary role is to assist with research and educational content development. I’m really enjoying my time there; the employees are super kind and approachable and I love the work I’m doing. As I’ve noted in a previous post, educational media and technology are the career fields I’m most interested in pursuing, so this has been a fantastic opportunity to learn and get my proverbial foot in a proverbial door of some sort.

I meant to talk about this earlier, but I guess I forgot: Around the time I was offered this intern position, I was also offered a full-time position with a well-respected nonprofit organization, which I turned down. While it was an exciting thing to field my first big-girl, full-time, salaried & benefitted job offer, I wasn’t excited about the position. If I had said yes, it would’ve been solely for the notoriety of the organization and the money. I’ve never been one to allow money or other people’s opinions of me dictate my decisions and I wasn’t going to start then. So, rather than the safe/sensible choice, I chose the risky part-time internship that pays only slightly above minimum wage and probably won’t hire me afterwards.

Call me a hopeless career romantic, but I think love is more important than money when it comes to work. The majority of your waking hours are spent at work, so it’s in your best interest to at least like what you do. Also, I figured if I can’t take a career risk now when I have very little to worry about (beginning of my career, no dependents, no bills other than loan repayments and a credit card with a $500 limit), then there’d be no way I’d be able to take risks further down the line when there’d be more at stake. All in all, I think I made a pretty solid decision.

I should also say that in addition to my internship, I took on a part-time position at a fancy NYC preschool earlier this month. There, I help with administrative stuff and substitute in classes when a teacher is out sick. My initial application was to be considered for a full-time associate educator position for next year, but they needed someone promptly, so I stepped in. I’m still being considered for full-time, though it’s nice to (a.) get a feel for the school environment beforehand and (b.) become well-known to teachers and administrators so they’ll want to keep me around. Hanging out with 2- through 5-year olds everyday isn’t all that bad either.

Should I talk about my sister, too? She’s doing well! It’s been 5-ish months since she finished her last cycle of chemo and she went back to work in January. She’s also going to CancerCon in Colorado next month. I’m so very proud of her.

So, that’s my life in a sleepy, filterless nutshell. There’s lots more I could write about, but if I’m not asleep within the next 15 minutes I will be very unpleasant to deal with, come morning. Good night!

Love

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but after all of the craziness that made 2014 a year of unmerited struggle (with pockets of beauty strewn in), I have decided to make one. Now, this isn’t your typical “lose weight” or “read more books” resolution, as those are things I intend to do that go without saying. The resolution—or more accurately, goal for growth—that I’ve made for myself is the result of much thought, meditation, and prayer over this closing year:

My growth goal for 2015 is to love better and more fully.

What does that mean? Well, it means a lot of things; it’s an intentionally vague statement that encompasses a world of change, but I’ll do my best to dissect it.

I’ve been reading through the Bible on a (nearly) daily basis for some time now and a few days ago, I came upon 1 John 4. That chapter, which speaks extensively about love, captivated me in a way that, even now, I have trouble putting in words. So much so, that I reread it (and re-meditated on it) two additional days before moving on to the next chapter. What stood out to me most was how love, real love, was never described as an emotion. All love was tied to action and sacrificial action, at that. It reminded me of a saying I’d heard somewhere about love not being love unless it costs you something…

There were two main types of love described in this chapter. The first: God’s love for us. The second: the love we should have for others. The love that God showed us in sacrificing His Son for us should affect us deeply, especially in regards to how we love those around us. And not just those around us that we like or enjoy the company of, we should share this love with everyone. (Yes, that includes the annoying, horrible, ignorant, racist, sexist people, too.) I know this is a difficult thing to hear and subsequently apply to one’s life, but it’s a precursor to loving God. We are said to all be made in the image of God, so if you hate the people you see around you, who have bits of God in them, you can’t love Him, whom you cannot see.

So, in terms of my growth goal, I want to love God, others, and myself better and more fully. I want to love recklessly and without fear of that love going unrequited. I want people to think I’m crazy for treating others with genuine kindness and respect even after they’ve been insufferable to me. I want to love.

In The Time Since

In the time since I wrote my last full-length post, I’ve started writing a handful of other blog posts. Good, right? Yes, except for the minor fact that they’re all sitting incomplete in my drafts folder. I don’t know why, but I start each of those posts with a vigor, an inner excitement about being able to put my thoughts and feelings into words and share them with you. Though, somewhere along the line, I look at what I’ve written and all I see is facile, simplistic word-vomit that I couldn’t possibly publish.

Looking back at the types of things I had begun writing about (dealing with rejection, the folly of expectation, the thing you fear most), I realize that they’re actually very thoughtful topics and not simplistic at all. What’s been happening, I think, is that I’ve been unconsciously employing a defense mechanism, here. See, I’m an extremely private person, so whenever I wish to write about something personal or intimate I have many levels of self-preservative mechanism to surpass before that can happen.

In the time since I’ve been home (yep, still funemployed), I’ve been riddled with quite a bit of insecurity and self-doubt; even in areas that I tended to be fairly confident about, like my writing ability. I’m in a rut, though it’s a good one. Not “good” in the sense that I like to feel this way, but that it’s forced me to see both myself and the world in a new light. For example, I’ve learned—really learned—that my worth as a human isn’t diminished by my joblessness. My value isn’t determined by what I do or don’t have or what I can or can’t do.

My worth is in the fact that I merely exist. I’m valuable because God made me and He loves me and He says I’m valuable. And I can live with that.

—-

I can also live with the fact that this post may not be very cohesive and that it went in a completely different direction than I anticipated. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Hello!

This summer has, so far, proved to be a lot less restful than I originally expected. It seems that I always have something to do. And even when I’m doing the things I need to be doing, there are other things I feel I should be doing with my time, as well. It’s crazy!

I have a summer internship in NYC that I have to commute to and from daily. I have to leave my northern New Jersey home at 7:10am to get to work by 9am. This means I wake up before 6am five days a week. To be honest, I don’t love my internship placement, but I’ve met some interesting people, I’m gaining some much-needed work experience, and I’m earning a very nice paycheck. So, I guess it isn’t all bad.

I also have a 2nd internship, also in NYC, that is less demanding and much more fun. This one involves a non-profit organization that puts on concerts and events in parks throughout the 5 boroughs. Needless to say, it’s awesome and I love EVERYTHING about it. (Sigh, if only it paid.)

Apart from my 2 internships, I’m trying to spend more time writing. Tonight, I’ve finally had the time to work on the screenplay I had begun in my Dramatic Writing class. I only have 10 pages, so far, but I want them to be the best first-10-pages-of-a-screenplay ever, before I continue writing the other 100-ish. I’m working on a few essays for a scholarship application, as well.

Not to mention, I started editing the 700 pictures I took at the Cornell Fashion Collective Fashion Show this past May and will slowly, but surely, be adding them to my Flickr.

So yeah, I’m busy, but such is the life of a college student nearing adulthood.

I can’t believe there was ever a time in my life where I actually wanted to grow up.

The Bane of My Educational Existence

(Originally posted to my Tumblr on Jul 20, 2011.)

I’m a Human Development major and I absolutely love it. It fits me so perfectly. I spend my days learning about people: specifically how we develop from conception to old age cognitively, emotionally, and physically. It’s great.

Unfortunately, I’m not great at articulating that when people ask me about it. The question I get about my studies that really annoys me most is, “What kind of job can you get with that degree right after you graduate?”

I never know how to answer that question because my undergraduate degree doesn’t have a clear-cut career path and I like it that way. It gives me the space to explore and experiment and find what I’m really passionate about. Once I do, I’ll get a masters degree in that area and then go to work.

Right now, I’ve discovered that my passions include television/media, writing, education, child advocacy, non-profits, and publishing and I can see myself pursuing a career in any of those. And thanks to my major’s ambiguous career prospects, I can.