Wednesday, November 30, 2011


As you may or may not know, I often update my blog when I am feeling unsettled (to the chagrin of my parents, it's usually only at these times that I write about my life).
So it's true...I'm not feeling super thrilled with life right now. I feel a little bit out of control-- and I like my control. I am feeling that there are too many big things I need to pay attention to and explore.
One current predicament is that I am pissed off at society. Specifically, for being oppressive towards people because of their sexuality and/or gender. This affects both me and people I love...and the greater community of humanity. The catalyst for this post is partly due to my recent time looking at fashion blogs. Sometimes if I notice an imperfection I click on the comments section because I assume someone has criticized this individual-- sadly I am usually right (note: I am also angry at myself that the flaws are the first thing I note). Today this frivolousness was directed at a young (very thin) girl for having cellulite. While I give the commenter credit (not really) for admitting we all have it, this person went on to say, "she should be more careful about hiding it."
Did an r-rated phrase form in my head. Yup. Did I want to scream it at societal "standards?" Yes again.
So that's part of my lack of control.
Going back to the sexuality and gender bit, I feel I have so much to learn about these areas and beyond, but I am not feeling I have the time/resources to devote. I have a strong fear of ignorance...this is making me anxious.
Also, I am learning to be a professional (and graduating SOON). All of this requires intentionality and it is energy-consuming.
Tomorrow I have a job interview at a private, liberal arts school near LA (Occidental) and am really excited about the possibility of being a sort of RD there. I would still be in the Women's Resource Center, but would also work/live at Occidental.
Also, I feel social justice issues are tugging on my heart (along with everything else). little perceived control. A few weeks ago I had the sudden desire to abandon my current field and work at a non-profit.

I'm assuming most of you are thinking I am a bit unstable right now. Not true. Just feeling more convicted than usual. In the words of Shauna Niequist, "I am in a certain life season." So no worries, I have not lost control of my concrete life. But do be aware: my patience may be a little thinner than usual.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Obsession

 I adore fall. The colors of the trees, the crinkle of leaves, the richness of pumpkin, and the crisp taste of apples are all wonderful physical reminders that fall is here.

This is the time of year when I anticipate the coolness of the air and the chill in the wind. I count down the days to boots and scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, chilly walks down colorful streets.
I treasure the moments when I have the minutes, or sometimes hours, to sit by an open window with a good book and many blankets.
This is the time of year when I feel most alive.
Right now I am in a coffee shop sipping the aforementioned latte and staring out the window while Glen Hansard's voice urges me to digest this day of less than 70 degree weather and leave my homework for when the sky no longer holds that wondrous grey hue.
Too bad it's due tomorrow:)

The Women's Resource Center job is going SO great. I treasure the people that I have been so blessed to work with this year.
I will start again at UCR soon and look forward to that continuation.
Classes are great, but my motivation is not. I am really appreciating the Legal & Ethical Issues class that mostly consists of higher education law-- I am learning much.
Also, I love being back at church, living with 5 other girls in our little condo, and being reunited with the members of my cohort:)

Though I have been busy and very involved with school/work as of late, I do think of those of you I have left in the Midwest. I think of you all often and hope you are enjoying your fall as much as I am!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blog it Out

You know the phrase, "hug it out"?
If you do, skip the next line. If you don't, read on.
Basically, it means if you have a problem with somebody or something, just hug it out and move on.
So I have a problem. Rather, I have many and I so wish to just "blog it out."
So currently I am going to school for higher education, right? Yes. I am the first to admit I love everything about higher ed...but I am still not satisfied. I think this has less to do with the program and more to do with my personal identity. I feel that I am so often ok with where I am at, but always wishing for more. Does that make sense? I do not think so either.
For example, I am incredibly happy with my assistantship for this fall. Seriously thrilled. But part of me wants something different...more challenging. Get it? Disequilibrium.
Back to the career issue. While I love higher ed, I cannot help but wish for something else. This was my problem the last semester of my undergrad career. I had so many great ideas and no place to I just chose one.
Recently, however, my heart has been thinking of camp and how much I feel I would love that. I'm quite sure that my sentiments would be reversed if I was at camp.
Also, I wonder about my passions. I spend hours most days looking through creative blogs. Sometimes I get so excited about what I see that I smile and "ooh and ahh" [out loud] while I am sitting in my room's not uncommon that I talk to the projects. So part of me wonders if that's where my passions are-- DIY projects and party planning.
Other possible career paths: cooking, personal shopping, literature professor, and event coordinator.

I have discovered that there is a reason for all my flip flopping like a fresh-caught fish in a boat...I need need need variety and challenge. So I am constantly seeking different hobbies and interests. I love to take in a lot of information and want to do something with insides are like my craft box, always calling my name but receiving meager amounts of attention.

Since I just realized this post is currently not applicable to anyone other than myself, I will do a little, "words of encouragement/what now/application."

I think people who are always in need of a challenge need to work and find ways to be creative about their potentially mundane projects. And the questioning? As far as I am aware, it is quite natural and subsequently needs to be embraced. So, try new your life widely. Using myself as an example, I can potentially: cook for my friends, use my job next year to plan extravagant events, do DIY projects as presents, and perhaps volunteer at a camp during my summers off (*fingers crossed*).

Now, if only "hug it out" was as effective as "blog it out."

Life udate:
I am in Riverside until August 25th
I start in Azusa the 20th for job training
Classes start September 7th
Job search will begin in January, but really take off in February and March

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
— Bertrand Russell

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Sisters

I have two amazing sisters, both who currently have blogs.

Sarah is in Cameroon this summer and I have been doing the upkeep using e-mails she has sent...I think the experience will be really interesting so if you are curious, check it out:

Hannah is in MN for a quick break before she heads back to Texas, and then she is off to Italy. She writes on her own blog, and I tend to enjoy the wisdom she shares. Here's a shout-out to her:

And what have I been doing with my time in CA, you may ask...

Visited the dessert and climbed rocks in 115 degree weather of course!
Tah-Tah for now,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

David Foster Wallace: This is Water

Since I do not seem to be doing especially great at updating my blog, I decided to post some thoughts from someone much wiser than I am. Even though this looks like a daunting read I assure you the thoughts that come from this address is well worth the time you spend reading. I encourage all of you to absorb it carefully and thoughtfully...maybe even twice. Do not be afraid to let me know what you think:)

[Btw, my internship is going quite well]

David Foster Wallace: This is Water
Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address - May 21, 2005 (

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."

It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education -- least in my own case -- is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to.

But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water."

"This is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

Monday, June 20, 2011

General Life Updates and Conclusions

The last four-ish weeks have been crazy...but oh so grand.
Mid-May I flew back from CA for a bit of a break and had one of the best vacations ever. I was able to spend so much quality time with so many lovely people that I so dearly missed. From walks and talks in Orange City for a weekend, road tripping to Michigan with a few stops on the way, some quality time on the Van Eck acreage with a lot of Buller involvement, and watching one of my darling friends get married, I was constantly fulfilled and overflowing with joy and love.
The time spent with all these people in all these places has shown me some wisdom:
-I have great friends. Seriously...the best. I always knew it but didn't appreciate the depth until now
-Even with great established friends, new ones are still fun to discover
-Michigan may be my preferred place of settlement...Grand Rapids, specifically. It is such a fun and unique city focused on local businesses and great coffee
-I hope neither my family nor the Buller's ever move
-Time is precious
-People are gems

Needless to say, when I flew back to CA last week I was a bit sad; as far as I remember this is the first time that I have been sad to leave. Not to say that I always yearn to leave, but I am usually so excited for the new beginning that I am ready. Also, on a side note, my suitcase weighed 62 pounds. I'm still confused.

Lucky for me, I have had an enjoyable first few days in CA. For those of you who do not know, I am a judicial intern for the summer at the University of California, Riverside. Though the position is still hard to describe, discipline of the social aspect on a college campus about sums it up. The last couple days of work I have spent hours reading hundreds of pages of manuals, general sanctions, and things of the like. Today I spent a large amount of time reading up on court cases involving sexual assault and Title IX...which is quite interesting. I am excited to continue this process of learning as well as begin creating ideas for projects that I can accomplish this summer.

For those of you confused about why I am doing an internship about judicial affairs/conduct, I will catch you all up.
1. I came to this program with the sole intention of working in residence life after graduation. That still holds true.
2. In one of my first classes a past graduate (I think) came and spoke to our class about judicial affairs and I was immediately attracted to the field.
3. Since I heard her speak I have held to the idea of transitioning from housing after (probably) many years and moving into conduct. As long as I'm sharing, after quite some time I hope to get my doctorate in something...literature would be quite great, and lead/teach study abroad immersion trips-- but the last one is just a big dream.

Also great about this internship are the other interns. There are 4 (including myself) who went through ACUHO-I and 1 who went through NODA. In normal people intern is doing training for residence life (Quill, Michigan State), two are working in the LGBT center (Catherine, VA Tech & Paul, Rutgers), I am doing the judicial internship (obviously), and Tim is working with orientation (Indiana University). They are fantastic. The four (ACUHO-I) of us bonded quickly and have been able to explore and dream about summer plans. Saturday we went to the beach with members of my cohort and had a splendid time.

Something not so great is working 40 hours a week. No thank you. Especially sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Double no thank you. I have hope that the time will begin to change once I have learned all that I need to know to move on to stimulating projects.

To close with a positive, I have been able to read quite a bit already. I have gone through a couple of books and spent hours tonight dreaming on amazon and filling up my shopping cart with prospective titles. Mmmhmmyes.

Suggested Goodness:
X-Men (still in theaters)
City and Colour
Kate Nash (be advised, mature* persons only)
Josh Ritter
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

*Not necessarily, but open...take it as you wish, she's not for everyone

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The End is Near...errr, Tomorrow

Tomorrow I leave for home for about 3 weeks. Let me rephrase that. Tomorrow I leave for home for about 6 days. The rest of my time will be spent in Orange City to catch up with friends and refuel my heritage with the Tulip Festival, driving to Michigan with a few stops on the way to see dear friends and some of the people I spent time with in Uganda, and a wonderful wedding weekend where I will see one my darling "children" get married to her best friend. June 12 I will fly back to California and start my job for the summer at UCR (anyone watch undercover boss a few weeks ago?).
Last night and today have been full of work, packing, organizing, and farewells. I will miss the wonderfulness that was this year but I do look forward to the new beginnings that next year will bring. While I am sad about losing a few dear friends to their new jobs, I know that next year I will only grow closer with my already thickly knit cohort and new friendships that were formed this past year. Though the following pictures don't even begin to portray the depth of my year, I figured I owe everyone at least a small explanation of what I did this past year:)
I planned events, visited the beach, and had new experiences with my cohort.

People came to visit and I went to visit others:)

I took a couple wedding pictures and a lot of regular ones.

I sat in the armpit of a troll in Seattle and stood on the side of a stage in San Pedro.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Descaling, Owner's Manuals, and Dry Leaves

Today, or all weekend really, all I needed to do apart from a group meeting was write a measly 4 page reflection paper. For those of you who know me you may realize this is nothing and would probably take an hour, 2 tops. But for some reason I have come up with every possible way to avoid it. For example, instead of writing my paper I have:
-Cleaned up our mini patio by sweeping/bagging many leaves and making our patio furniture shine by dusting it, washing it with a plain rag, then soapy, then plain, then drying it...twice
-Cleaned other areas of the house
-Descaled the espresso machine
-Read the owners manual for my car instead of just the small section on checking levels
-Packed and organized stuff to bring home (in 2 weeks)
-Finished a book and read 3/4 of another
-Written this blog post
-Looked at other blogs
-Straightened my hair
-Went to a movie this afternoon
-Uploaded photos to facebook
I did other things of course...but I listed the abnormal ones only. As you may be able to see I am finding many many ways to procrastinate. Why the sudden lack of motivation? I blame it on timing. You see, at Northwestern right now finals are happening. My body is so used to shutting down at this time that I have been innocently and inadvertently affected by my past. So boo you's all your fault that I am failing at writing my paper that is due in the morning.
Clever eh how I am passing my faults and making obscure but potentially plausible connections? I thought so.

Monday, April 11, 2011


A couple of reasons I'm writing right now instead of packing and/or sleeping:
1. My sister asked me to
2. I have many feelings that I feel should be sorted out before they burst out like a can of root beer forgotten in the freezer
3. I'm waiting for my laundry to dry

Because I am still not sure how to start this post (as evidenced by the awkward beginning explanation) I will just give snippets of thought and see where this goes.

Current feelings: restless, slightly anxious, containing frustrations, annoyed, sad, & conflicted

Last week was crazy busy in a good way and now that it's over I really don't know what to do with myself. Since classes ended for the quarter I have actual free time but I have found that I am at a loss for a place to direct my energy. The focus that was required of me is now gone and has left me with a feeling of nakedness; I want the busyness back so I can direct myself away from my emotions.

I wonder what this summer and the next year will look like. I am working in the Women's Resource Center again and because I am familiar with the position I have an opportunity to add and adjust my duties to fit my desired learning outcomes. This is really exciting but also a bit stressful because I have a lot of autonomy and therefore high expectations for what should happen.

Thursday night was the last night of counseling class and we debriefed a video about vulnerability. It was very emotional for the class because a lot of the cohort feels either that they need to be more vulnerable or that they are finally able to be open about who they are.
After watching it I knew I should take it to heart but immediately I realized I wouldn't change. After some examination I decided I should try to be more of who I am inside my head...but I think this could be a very difficult process for many reasons.
Explanation: I took a sort of personality test and for the overall description this came up: "The Executive". However, I was only one point away from a different explanation..."The Giver". If you know me well this makes sense; inside my head I am the executive but to the outside world I'm the giver. For example, many people here have told me that the first impression I give off is introvert, nicest person ever, easy going, passive, and a good listener. As the year has gone on they have been constantly surprised (which I love) to find that I am opinionated, stubborn, confrontational, and (this still surprises people) extroverted. I suppose right now I'm trying to figure out how much of each side to depend on and channel.

Which leads to the frustration and annoyance. I wonder how much I should voice these opinions and when I should just let things go soar away into the horizon. So much of me wants to call people out, but the other part of me wishes to just distance myself from said individuals. For the sake of being vulnerable I'll share a big part of me. When I get to know a person I generally don't share deeply until I have observed and believe he or she is trustworthy. When/if I do share and they break that confidence I tend to not trust them again. This goes for commitments too. If I have a person's word I trust it deeply. When that trust is broken I begin to assume they'll back out continually. Time spent with someone is how I grow closer and when that time is broken I become so easily exhausted with wondering if plans will be cancelled that I often would rather distance myself. While my stubborn intentionality usually prevails, I am emotionally exhausted.

I'm a really intentional person in all that I do. I am strategic and bold in going after what I want. This manifests itself both as charm and standoffish-ness...depending on my current state (i.e. if I'm busy and you are trying to talk to me, I'll probably ignore you).
My family tells me I'm a manipulator...I tell them I'm logical and good at explaining:) One of my favorite example is from this past Christmas. I got my family to sit and watch multiple movies/tv upstairs at the kitchen table instead of on the comfortable couches downstairs. Why? Because I told them it is difficult for me to just sit and watch a movie without doing anything at the same time (true). After a couple days of this they decided to watch something downstairs. What did I do? I held my ground at sat upstairs alone in the kitchen and busied myself with other things.

Do you think I'm a bad person? Are you judging me? That's ok...I have probably judged you too.

Oh and I'm sad because this year is ending. I will so much miss how things are right now including some of closest friends here moving away. Happily, I will be living with one of them next year but the others will be graduating. I am currently mourning the change that will be occurring this next year both here and at home. No longer will most of my friends be in one area but instead they will be spewed out across the country.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ouch, My Heart Hurts

For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning, you may remember me posting about my difficulty with making the decision for my first year assistantship. The last couple of weeks have been difficult and full of a lot of event planning, paper writing, interviews, and decision expectations. So far I have handled all of these things well...but the last has been a struggle.
At first I was open to a lot of different options and was going to apply and interview at a variety of places. After much thought, though, I decided to narrow my options down to two great opportunities.
The first option is to stay at the Women's Resource Center for another year. Reasons why this would be great are:
-Great office. I love the people here and as many of you know I place a lot of value on my relationships.
-Working under the associate dean who is a great example of an intentional administrator
-Judicial affairs experience: Shino (my boss) is willing to take me into this process with her
-Development of the program. I have so many ideas for changes that can be implemented if I stay
-Opportunities across campus: since I am now familiar w/ APU's campus, I feel I can better foster and create opportunities for collaboration
-Autonomy...Shino has granted this to me already and I know next year I would have a lot of freedom in my job
-Great interns. I was able to interview all of the undergraduate interns for next year and the two selected are fantastic and I would love to work and learn with them
-Personal development from working in the same position for more than one year
My second option is equally great. I would be a sort of ARD at Cal Poly Pomona in the village apartments. Reasons this is a wonderful job for me:
-I would be working in residence life which I dearly love
-Experience for the future
-I would get experience in a variety of ways: crisis management, judicials, supervision, training
-The program there is very well laid out and I am confident that I would grow professionally
-I also think they do a great job of pushing their interns in a personal way
-Again, the experience I would gain in this year would be SO growing...and also fun.
As you can read, this is a very difficult decision. What makes it worse? They are on separate time lines. This morning I had my second and last interview at Cal Poly but on-campus offers for APU were allowed to go out last Monday. Since I don't find out about Cal Poly until next week I am forced to choose one without a guarantee of the other. While today I decided that Cal Poly is my first priority, I also know that if I tell Shino no and don't get Cal Poly I am left without both of my top choices.
So here I am...waiting and relying on the patience and grace of Shino and the speediness of Cal Poly.
By the way...a summer update:
I will drive home in May (date unknown) for a couple of weeks. Hopefully catch NW's graduation and the Tulip Festival:) June 11th I will stand up as Brittany and Mike get married-- so good! A couple of days later I will drive back to CA where I will start my judicial affairs internship at U of CA, Riverside. Mid-July I'll fly home for Jennie and Ben's wedding (another yes please:) and then fly back to CA where I'll finish up my internship between August 15th and September 2nd and start my second year internship August 16th. I'm excited for all the greatness that will occur this summer, but at the same time really quite sad about missing some of my dear dear friends' weddings.
Side note: my friend Stephanie from Michigan, who I met in Uganda, is flying in Saturday for a week...and that makes me happy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't Judge Me...hehe:)

This is my hometown.
A little embarrassing, but quite awesome nonetheless.

You should know I really was not involved in this community (I went to school in SD), but I did work in it and experience much greatness. If you are interested in the uniqueness of Hendricks, I think I wrote a post about it last June. Specifically, what I would miss while in Africa.

Also. My sister is looking for a blog title and would appreciate all suggestions. Think: diving into the abyss of life...blindly and without clear purpose.
[btw, she'll be in Cameroon working in the medical field!)
Comment with thoughts or suggestions!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Middle 3rd

Recently I had a mock interview for an RD job. When I finished I had the privilege of receiving feedback. My interviewers told me that while I was comfortable and personable, nothing really stuck out about me-- they did not have an idea of who I was as a person.
That conversation started a whole new string of thoughts including, but not limited to, "How do I communicate my passions?", "What are my passions?", "Do I even have passions?".
The truth is, I'm not sure I do. By that I mean there is not one specific thing I am striving toward. In many ways I see this as a positive characteristic because that makes me very adaptable. I do not mind taking risks and am not limited by a need to say in my comfort geographical comfort zone. Additionally, I am generally alright with the unknown. Because of this I have no specific driving point when I apply for different positions or even have different conversations. The fact of the matter is, wherever I am placed, whatever job I have, and whoever I talk to, will get the best from me. I will take ownership of my position and develop it. I will pour into and get to know the people around me.
That still leaves me a bit vulnerable to rejection because of a lack of specificity.
For example: the past month I have been in the process of applying and interviewing for ACUHO-I summer internships. Of my interviews, only one went even mildly bad. When the time came for the offers, though, I was not called. The next three days were filled with slight anxiety and questioning as I wondered what I had done wrong.
I did end up getting an offer from the University of California, Riverside, as a judicial affairs intern. While I am thankful and incredibly excited to fill this position, I cannot help but wonder what went wrong with the other interviews. After a bit of thought, I realize that nothing specific went wrong. In fact, they all gave me really good feedback. But I have to admit I agree with my mock interviewer: I did not show them enough of who I am as a person.
This, as many of you know, is not an easy task for me. I would much rather sit back and listen to others while asking really interesting questions:)
Unfortunately, I do not suffer from this choice...but I do have a different desire. I realized that I need to grow and process through other people and my lack of desire to open up is preventing me from truly processing my (for lack of a better word) life.
So my hope is in the future I will not only be more open and honest, but I will also be unafraid to go into depth with the more personal aspects of my life.
Forgive me, this will be a slow, difficult, and potentially awkward time...but I think it's worth it.

On a different note: A couple of my good friends have recommended me this band and after listening to them, I am going to recommend you all take a listen:) Ladies and gentleman, the Fleet Foxes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I LOVE This Part

The last 2 weeks have been crazy crazy busy.
Yesterday, amidst the hustle and bustle,  I realized something.
It dawned upon me that I was extremely happy. And energetic.
I once told an RD during my interview that I both loved and thrived on being a bit over-worked (he looked at me like I was a bit crazy...too true).
This week I finally pulled that thought into my reality.
I end the 9am-10pm days feeling great and accomplished.
My motivation need for sleep decreases.
To sum it all up: I love to be crazy. So pull me with you on your sporadic trips. Grab my hand and take me sailing. Overwhelm me. Ask for my help. Demand my time.

(psst: If any of you are my classmates and reading this...I'm kind of stoked for the craziness that's about to happen next week!)

And yes, I did spend some time at the beach last weekend.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Shout Out, Etc.

Today I have experienced many thoughts and feelings. I am:
1. Thankful for place. At the end of break I was really hesitant to leave my friends and family. It felt so great to be home and I really felt as though I could have stayed there for a long time. After being back for a mere six days, though, I am already fully adjusted to being here. I have little doubt that part of it is being able to walk around in a cardigan...but the feeling extends further than the pleasant weather. Azusa has quickly become another home to me-- the familiarity of people and places reaches out and is 'somehow' comforting (Uganda friends...get it?). I am so so appreciative of the learning and growing that California has provided for me.
2. Thankful for people. As I have left the familiarity and proximity of my 'old' friends and entered a new world of people I have gone through many stages. First I experienced denial. I was pretty sure I did not need to get close to people here. After all, I had worked for my friendships and was in need of no more.

Who can really blame me for thinking nobody could measure up.
Luckily for me, my program is full of people who are interested in working with college students and therefore friendly. They have won me over, taught me much, and challenged me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I already love them and look forward to growing so much more with and through them.
I am also so thankful for my friends at home. I cannot even begin to name them all, but they are so precious to me. To name drop a few special ones though, my beloved family by blood and family by bond deserve a few more words.

Bullers & Van Ecks, Christmas 2009.
My parents are THE best. I do not think they realize how much I admire and observe them, but surprise mom and dad...I creep on you. My sisters are also incredible. This break I really realized just how comfortable and myself I feel around them-- natural is the correct word. And then...the Bullers. Best family EVER. I left home this break starving for more Van Eck/Buller time...there is NEVER enough. The night we did spend with them (Christmas Eve) was fantastic and I definitely enjoyed the addition of Rachel to our family (per usual).
3. Motivated to explore creativity. I have often been told that I am so creative and artsy. Perhaps this is true, but if it is...I feel that I have been negligent. Today I spent a good two hours perusing blogs. Through that I was inspired to write this post, and think about what exactly I am doing with my time. I think that I would really like to expand my personal repertoire of creativity to encompass so much more than it currently holds. New goal: try more new things-intentionally. I think I will have to create a schedule to do this...damn.
4. Convicted to do more. In a serious way. I want to be one of those people who gets up really early to go running and then starts her day.
5. Shocked that I haven't amended this sooner. Truly truly shocked. I have a pretty serious fear of not having a personality and I feel that if I continue to just float along I will end up boring and dull-- not unlike a robot.
So for now I am thankful, aware, motivated, convicted, and shocked. Not too shabby for a Saturday, eh?

p.s. Recently I have been listening to 'The Flaming Lips' on Pandora (discovered via Elsie Flannigan's blog). I quite like them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Point, Please.

The last couple of months I have been bombarded by an impossibly difficult question to answer. What is the point of life? Yes, our small and seemingly insignificant lives. I would like to know why we are here. What role does each individual play on this earth. 
I ask because I care. I have a strong desire to know what I am doing here. Am I supposed to be in the field I have chosen? Or am I better suited somewhere else. Or does it even matter? I am curious to know if we have a destiny or if our lives are made from the choices we choose. I know, I know...the latter is the correct answer.
But back to the original question. What's the point? Am I supposed to believe that my life will make a difference? I suppose I am...but what if I choose a nondescript life of comfort? What if I decide to move to a place and just live? Sure, my life will impact those I choose to associate with...
I guess what I am truly struggling with is how uncomfortable am I supposed to make myself for the greater good. Is it wrong to want to be comfortable? Should I pride myself in doing something I believe in, even if I would rather do something just a bit easier...a bit more, selfish?
I always said that I wanted to live a life of learning. I always dreamed of finding my passion. Now though, I just want to be with my friends. I yearn for an average life taken up by a stagnate job and a never-changing ritual.
I wish I could finish this post like this:
"Then I remember. I remember the people I struggled to get to know and the joy that came with that challenge. I remember the love I have for college students and residence life. I love what I am working towards because I believe in it."
But honestly, I would rather not. Sure, I wrote that and it is true. But my current thoughts override what I am not strong enough to say.