Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October- Better Luck Next Time

That's gotta be my theme for this month. I'm watching plan after plan fall through, being wished "better luck next time."

Next time? I want my alloted luck this time please. I had this whole grand scheme of going back to school and applying to UIS. That fell through- better luck next time.

Ready to apply to the PC, but darnit, might as well stay and do that Master's International- better luck next time.

Meet this guy who seems pretty cool- artistic, creative and cuddly. . . and married (thanks FaceBook). Better luck next time!

I even contacted PRIDE about getting one of their "Gay? Fine by me." T-shirts and the girl writes me back saying that they're all gone and closed with an essential "Better off next time."

Ya gotta be kidding me, for real.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Head In Hands, Book in Face

I fear that my ambition may be the death of me. Ambition, that very energy which drives me to maximize the value of my life, is surely to be the force that kills me.

How else could I explain taking a challenging semester of 3 classes- none of which I truly need? I already have a degree and I planned to apply for a graduate MPA program for which ONE prerequisite was needed that I did not have. The school offers conditional acceptance, so even if they felt that I was qualified enough for their program without having met the prereq, I would have been accepted and could have taken the class at a later date. But nooooo. Not me. Not only did I want to take the class before I started the program, I also took on TWO other classes that were not required. Two public administration classes in order to become more familiar with the study of public admin- to see what it's really all about, since I had only read about it and never studied it.

Three classes, taken as a Graduate-at-Large which means that the class that is eligible for graduate credit if taken as a grad student (read: more work). I was up for it. It had been two years since I'd been in school but I was ready for the academic challenge, and the sense of accomplishment and academic enrichment that was sure to accompany it.

What the hell was I thinking?? For one, students at large do not receive financial aid of any type, and BOY am in need of some. I obtained graduate tuition waivers through my job, but the fees alone are over $700!! Not to mention books, all of which I still don't have and won't be getting due to financial reasons. All of this expense, paid out of pocket on my measly non-profit salary. Then, it's that very "financial obligation to the university" that prevented me from obtaining my transcript and applying for my graduate program which was the whole point of me taking these classes in the first place. Not to mention the fact that I'm stressed and overwhelmed more so than I ever remember being in my four years of undergrad. My workload is astronomical. It does not help that I admittedly have not managed my time in the best way (though I have done better than in the past).

Then wait, it's not over. No, no my friends. The grad students (which by the way, I am not required to take this class as one, but I chose to) are required to complete a 20-25 page paper (undergrads have the same assignment with a 12-15 page requirement). We had a few options on how to do it- a literature review, cross-cultural interview and a few others. I chose what is likely to be one of the more challenging options- a consulting project reviewing and making recommendations for the volunteering program at a non-profit organization. Of course I'll be using the League. The benefit is that I'm very familiar with the structure and workings of my organization, and idea is that this consultation will be of use to the League. . . hopefully *sigh*. Downside being that I will have to work with others to collect some of the information and insight I'll need. I cannot even begin to expound upon the challenges that will present. . . not looking forward to that part AT ALL. Then there is always the reality that noone at my organization will care. . . or even read the thing for that matter! I could have done something relatively easy like a lit review. Read some journal articles, evaluate them, talk about them. . . collegiate book report.

Ambitious me wanted to do something more meaningful- on top of all that I have to manage in my work and personal life. So, here goes nothing. Even though I don't even need these classes I'm still going to try my best. Scratch that, I'm going to DO my best. . . even though it just may kill me.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Reflection- Focusing On Solutions

After a long, busy day I decided to come to the library to get some studying and work done. You know, trying to be a better student. I have a quiz due this week and I'll have a take home exam issued on Thursday, so I know I need to get at least a little bit ahead of the game. . . or at least catch up with the game as it is.

Somehow I went from studying Public Administration to browsing Peace Corps blogs and imagining myself as the narrator. I think that the Peace Corps has been a dream of mine since I first heard about it, probably in High School. Travel + Service, what better experience could a girl like me ask for? I'm grateful to have returned to a place in my life that facilitates even the thought of embarking on a Peace Corps service- single, unattached, and ready for the world.

Now is the absolute best time.

My application for UIS is due in 8 days, and I will be submitting it, hopefully early. I can't have another repeat of the Knox experience. . . I still wonder sometimes how my life might have been different if I had even finished the application- let alone if I had been accepted. Alas, everything happens for a reason, and learning from those mistakes is a part of growing and maturing.

Earlier this week, I decided/realized that it was time for me to focus on SOLUTIONS. Like everyone else, I have a multitude of problems to deal with on a daily basis. Some are relatively insignificant, like my hair, but others are quite pressing matters academically, financially, personally. . . but the problems are there nonetheless. Now, what to do about them? I also realized that I spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that I don't know what to do about lots of the problems. Not trying to find out what to do, just being concerned that I have no idea where to begin. Now is the time to focus on solutions, and to implement them. Thus being at the library at 1:00 a.m. after such a long day.

I know that I won't be able to fix all of my problems or remedy each single issue, but focusing on solutions will surely lead me in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's Weird

It's weird. It's just past 10pm. I haven't even gone to sleep yet and I already know that I'm not going to want to wake up in the morning. I already don't feel like picking out what clothes I'll wear to work and how I'll do my hair. Don't want to think about what I'm going to eat for breakfast and if I'll take anything to eat for lunch. I don't want to deal with the inevitable frustrations of my job. . . and there are many. I want to not exist tomorrow, at least not until 6 or 7pm where I can wind down from a day I didn't have and just relax.

It's weird. I keep wondering if I'll be feeling this way throughout the weekdays every week. This feeling of being bogged down with financial concerns, thinking about all of the things that I need but can't get. It's only intensified by my job situation. For the first time school isn't really a source of stress. . . I'd really rather do that than worry about any of this other stuff. Being back in an academic environment is actually a highlight in my life right now. My graduate school application is due next month. I pray that I'll will myself to submit it.

It's weird. I'm ready to watch my dreams come to life. . . even though they still don't have much clarity. But even as anxious as I am to see them manifest, I am equally afraid. I know that's what the dreams are about. The dreams where my car is speeding along so fast that I get scared to death, but never do crash into anything. The dreams where I am uncontrollably floating up into the air and my attempts to come down only take me higher. So instead of zooming in the fast lane I'm creeping along on the shoulder, watching all of the speed racers flash by. . . assuring them that I'm coming when I really only hope that eventually I will be.

Tonight I go to bed, but my concerns won't. They'll be sitting by my bedside watching me while I sleep, hoping to ease into my dreams but I'll toss and turn so they won't hold me down. I know they'll be waiting for me to wake up so that they can tag along with me all day. Maybe if I don't get up. . . well, maybe I just won't get up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How In The World Am I Supposed To Do This???

Altruism. I kinda knew what the word meant because I had heard it used here and there. As I was lying on the couch in one of my many life-contemplating sessions, the word popped into my head. Altruism. Altruistic. Is that the word that describes me and what I'm trying to do these days? Is that what's gotten me in the place where I am right now?

Altruism (from Latin: alter: the other) is the deliberate pursuit of the interests or welfare of others or the public interest.

Yep, that's it. That's what keeps me working at this organization, hoping that one day I'll be able to build this place up to the point where things will be running so well they won't even need me anymore. Struggling with the whole system from board members to co-workers all while struggling to pay my bills all for the sake of the good of the community. Altruistic indeed.

It's also the force that contributes to me wanting to heap a serving of every good cause onto my plate. NAACP, BSU, MCATF, YP's, business ventures, volunteering, church activities, you name it. It supports a good cause? I'd love to be a part of it! How can I help out?! Altruistic.

Just today I stopped by the local AIDS Outreach office and sat and talked with the staff who runs the organization. They are interested in reaching out to the Black community. . . I am interested in helping them. As we sat and talked about the struggles with our respective boards, funders, and general non-profit organization challenges, I thought about how crazy it is that I'm pursuing a post-graduate education to specifically go into this field. This is the type of work I have a passion for and there's really nothing else I see myself doing for the rest of my life than "giving back" in whatever form that might take.

The problem is, while I'm giving back, who in the world is going to be giving to me? To my wallet and bank account more specifically. Everyone knows that there isn't usually much money in the non-profit sector. It's hard enough to secure funding for your particular program, but what? You wanna get PAID too? Dream on.

I don't want to sell out my altruistic dreams for money. Nope, I'd rather they play in the same sandlot and both come home with me at the end of the day. I would take good care of both of them, making sure my dreams flourish into mature realities and keeping the money safe and well guarded.

But how is this going to work?

Monday, June 29, 2009

This is Worth Writing About

So the pastor (not my own pastor btw), let's call him Passo came into my office again today. He'll stop by every now and again to say hi or even take a few moments to play a game of cards with me. He's a pretty cool guy, but he has a reputation in this community. . . one that precedes him. Baptist preacher, late 40's or early 50's, smooth talker and a fan of the ladies. So I take it as no surprise that he only comes to my office to visit when I am here alone.

Today when Passo opened the office door I wondered what he would be up to today, but I always put the same smile on my face. After cordial greetings, he sat down and became gravely serious. He should be an actor, because his performance would have been great for the stage. Maybe he could try out for the next Madea play. He started by talking about my position now at the League. . . how he knew I wasn't completely happy with my position and not making much money. He makes eye contact with me as if he is reading my thoughts through my eyeballs and is silent for what seems like the longest time. He then cocks his head slightly to the side and without cracking a smile says in a low voice, "Would you like to work for me?" One would believe that he has already played out this scene in his head many many times.

I'm behind my desk, concentrating on what type of facial expression I'm displaying. His mannerisms already seem so scripted and fluid. . . I need to act in just the right way to fit the situation. I want to laugh and smile because this man is so ridiculous, but he's making it quite awkward for me to do so. Especially the way he keeps staring so intently. "In what capacity?" I respond. Another long, serious pause, and he begins to explain how he needs someone who will keep his calendar- and more or less keep track of his every move. Someone who will be aware of where he is, and know what to tell those who would like to know. Scheduling his flights and other travel arrangements, setting and reminding him of appointments with individuals in the community and elsewhere, and something else about church bulletins. "So basically a personal assistant?" I said. That's what it sounded like to me anyway. He kind of nodded his head side to side.

"Isn't that what Joann already does? Or is she not going to be doing it anymore?" He continued to look at me and said, "So does it sound like a job you could do?"
"Oh. . . so I don't get my question answered huh? Ok. That's cool." I let it slide. I started to think about what working for Passo would be like. I didn't even ask him how much the position would pay, because I don't want to make a financially motivated decision with this one.

In fact, although I will think about his offer, I already know what I want to do. I knew as soon as the words came out of his mouth, "Would you like to work for me?" It's funny though, that he would want to hire me as his PA, when I can hardly keep my own calendar lol . . . he doesn't have to know that though. I'm pretty sure that I would deliver in the position. I am a professional, and I always deliver my best work in a professional setting. I'm sure he'd pay pretty handsomely too, especially considering the level of confidentiality the position entails. And undoubtedly right off the back I'd need a BlackBerry and laptop. . . and of course a personal assistant must look presentable at all times, so I would have to have a monthly allottment for clothing and accessories. That's only reasonable. Regardless, I have a feeling that whether I take this position or not, the story with Passo will not end here. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 03, 2009

This Is My Life

I have had a mentally and emotionally tiring week. Monday I decided to stop by my ex's apartment to see how he was doing. We hadn't talked in months, and I had definitely taken deliberate measures to ensure that we had no lines of communication. I deleted his phone number and I even took him off my friend list on Facebook, the first time I've ever deleted anyone. But I had been thinking about him, so I went over there. I was a little bit nervous, especially as I drove up to his place and saw that he was indeed home. Would the atmosphere be tense? Would conversation be strained? Would I ruin months of dilligent progress? I really didn't know what to expect.

He opened the door and greeted me with a warm hug. It was a hug I knew so well and being in his arms for that moment was like putting on that old comfy pair of jeans that you know you need to get rid of but you just don't. Stepping into the house, I was flooded with memories of all the time I'd spent there what seemed like just a short while ago. I sat down and we caught up on life for a few moments. He has joined the National Guard and he told me that life was going well for him. I was pleased. There was a moment in which we looked at each other, both of us not knowing what to say, and we just started to laugh. An ounce of it was nervous laughter, but mostly it expressed how strange it felt for us to be around each other again after so long, but here we were. Chatting up kinda like old times. And even after knowing each other so well, a lull in the conversation just feels far too awkward.

Then he told me that he wanted to introduce me to someone. He went into the kitchen and I heard him speak to someone, but it sounded like inaudible mumbling. He came back out with this girl . . . he placed his hand on her shoulder, and with a nervous smile he took a breath and said "Chiliz, this is my fiancee . . . " I didn't even hear her name.

Smile Chiliz, Smile. Don't you dare be anything less than happy. Not right now. Not in front of her. "Woooow, fiancee!?! Oh wow, that is . . . great! Congratulations to the both of you." I kind of meant it. I really can't even imagine any other response I would've had. I asked, and he told me that they've been engaged for 3 months. My how time flies. After congratulating them once more and doing my best to wish them the best for their future together, I left. This time I let myself out and walked to my car alone. The man who once would have opened my car door for me and watched to make sure I drove off safely remained tucked in his cozy home, his hand probably still on her shoulder.

Driving home, at first I was okay. I was checking on my emotional self, "Are you really ok? I mean, for real? Yes, just a little bit sad, but I think I can handle this." No music the whole way home, just me and my thoughts. The closer I got to my house the more difficult it became. Two alligator tears streamed down my cheeks, blazing a path for more to follow, but they only came two at a time. I was still okay.

Until I got home. I stepped in the door, and my mind flashed back to his place and the memory of us departing with a kiss. Realizing that now all of his kisses, love, and affection would only be for her, I broke down. I knew this feeling well. My heart was breaking yet again.

The funny thing about that heartbreak feeling that is so distinct is that it is the type of pain that you know cannot be soothed. You just have to suffer through it, it forces you to feel with every ounce of your being until time lifts the burden.

The next day the weather was rainy, dreary, and gray and I was so grateful that God loved me enough not to mock me with sunshine. But today- today is bright and the sky is blue and though it is chilly, spring is in the air. Spring is the time for new beginnings- just ask the buds on the trees. That old pair of jeans? I lost them and I know for sure that I will never get that same pair back but now . . . now I can pick out a new pair, and get some more things while I'm at it.

I'm ready to pick up my bags and move on to the next destination in life, and the future looks bright my friends!