Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

From OSH 2013. T-12 days until we're on the way to Oshkosh!
"Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better." --Albert Camus.

Here's hoping for the best year yet!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The mailbox clam shell mystery

When I found the first clam shell in the mail box, I chalked it up to a fluke passerby. It was small with dirt crusted on one side, not very pretty.

A few days passed. Between birthday celebrations and work, I forgot about the mollusk remains. That is, until Saturday rolled around and sitting in front of the red Netflix envelope was a new shell, with a small shriveled flower poking through.
It is not every day one receives a clam shell in one's mailbox. 
I stood, holding my mail, glancing up and down the street, heart starting to pound a little. Who knew clam shells could be so utterly creepy?

Was someone watching? Casing the joint? Leaving strange tokens? Did the mailman have a crush on Mr. T? Perhaps a passing serial killer stopped by? I've seen enough Criminal Minds to know only fools discount important clues like this!

A huge part of me hoped that it was a gift from the neighbor girls down the street who periodically stop by to turn us into frogs and spaghetti noodles, and dare me to eat fruit from the decorative pear trees. But they were out of town camping!

Or so I thought.

Later that evening, while mixing up a home brew of fish emulsion, Epsom salt and beer for the tomatoes, I hear a booming kid voice come up the drive way.


It was 6-year old Savannah rolling by on her Razor, her dad trailing behind. I asked if she went to the ocean on her camping trip. She just laughed, wrapping thin arms around my waist, before scooting off down the street.


A few minutes later, her mom popped by to exchange phone numbers so as to warn me about future gifts I might expect--rocks, bits of ribbon, etc.

She told me Savannah found the clam shell not at the ocean but near our neighborhood creek. Apparently there are all sorts of treasures--fresh water clam and mussel shells, bottles, balloons and most recently, a "bubble maker thing" aka a plastic feminine hygiene product holder tube. (Sing a chorus of YUCK with me?) By comparison, the mystery clam shell seems all right!


Related-ish links:
A grateful heart: Feeling neighborly
On being nosy, I mean neighborly
Following the white rabbit (And then catching it)
Front yard veggie gardening

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sun lovers

It felt like a near-death experience. Me. Turbo kickboxing after eight months away. Burning chest, raspy breathing, nausea. And my chipper instructor was happily babbling about the weather. While I glared, I somehow absorbed her information: Low 90s this weekend. No way! Too soon.

But it's almost June and in Sacramento that spells summer heat.

The only thing good about it? The (five month) burst of hot sun will be fabulous for my burgeoning tomato garden.
Newly acquired sun stake for my front yard tomato garden. I'm trying to pretty up the space but with cheap accoutrement, lest they be stolen. I'm pleased at the growth just in the last two weeks since I wrote "Fixing my tomato mistakes."  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Saying goodbye to Sac State

I found a parking spot without circling. The elevator was waiting on the first floor. My flip flops echoed in the deserted hallway. A few days after graduation and I found Sac State in full mellow summer mode this afternoon.

With mixed feelings, I stopped by to load up my bag with old student papers, turn in keys, and say farewell. After two years as a part time faculty member and long ago graduate student, I'm moving to a full time position (more on that soon!). I didn't realize how sad and strange it would be to leave though. Going to miss my students and colleagues so much!

The Pink Cadillac after hours drop box in the Communication Studies department at Sacramento State.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What I wish someone had told me at graduation

Over the weekend, I attended Sacramento State's Arts and Letters graduation ceremony. It was my first time on the faculty side and it surprised me how much fun I had watching so many of my students walk across the stage.

I loved that the Communication Studies faculty lined the center aisle and shook hands and/or hugged every one of our graduates. (Next time, I might implement a High-Five policy because my hand is still sore from hundreds of shakes.)
A few of my favorite students, and some of the 813 Arts and Letters graduates this semester. Photo by Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone. Yours truly took not a single photo at graduation! When I get my fancy regalia next year, I'm sewing in a sleeve pocket for my phone. Not used to being camera-less at a big event!
Feeling like a proud mama bear as I hugged so many thrilled and joyous bodies, I thought about the tumultuous emotions that graduation brings. Rather, the day after. Reminiscing about my own undergraduate commencement, and really, the days and weeks after, here are a few things I wish someone had told me at graduation...

1. It's okay to feel depressed afterwards. Post-commencement blues? Totally normal. There's so much build up to graduation, and it marks a distinct transition in life, that it's easy to feel blue when the hubbub dies down. This is especially true if there's no sparkly job lined up. (Believe me, I know!) Major life transitions are associated with huge amounts of stress, so feeling disconcerted, down, or anxious is par for the course. (Not that it's any fun, mind you.) It will usually pass.

2. "Now what?" is a perfectly reasonable question. While there are many freedoms, college is a time with lots of structure and built-in goals. Getting out into the world and realizing that there is so much to do (or not!) is a heady thing. Me, I spent the first few months after graduation watching a lot of TV. I moved to a new town, started a new job, and spent most nights watching Friends re-runs and marathoning Sex and the City because I had no idea what to do next. Although utterly unproductive, I'm grateful for the time because it allowed me to see what I didn't want in life--to be a lazy bones person! Little by little, I got involved with volunteering and preparing for graduate school. I appreciated some time to figure out the answer to "now what" instead of rushing into the next big thing.

Lately, I've counseled a dozen students on whether or not to jump straight into graduate school. My two cents--I waited two years and found even just little "real world" work experience inordinately helpful and grounding.

3. "Real" jobs are exhausting. That 9-5 thing is no joke as far as energy is concerned. Even after working three jobs in college, I was surprised how much the concentrated full time work day exhausted me during the first few weeks. (Let's be honest, I also think this during the first couple weeks of a new semester!)

3a. Have fun paying those taxes. And get used to it.

4. The "Is this it?" feeling usually passes. Oh, that nauseating feeling of a lifetime of endless work and toil spread out before you... (This usually recurs for me during the stretch between New Year's and the next holiday four months later.) The post-graduation "Is this it??" feeling is normal and it too shall pass once you realize there's so much joy and fun in everyday life.

5. Go travel. My biggest post-undergrad regret? Starting my first job so soon after graduation. I left college, drove like a bat out of hell, and set up my new apartment in order to start work less than a week later. I didn't really have a choice in the finances department, but I wish I would have taken time to travel before full time work set in. One of my favorite students from this semester is getting ready to set off on a grand European adventure, and I really wish I could hide in her backpack!


Monday, May 25, 2015

A grateful heart: Remembering their sacrifice

On this Memorial Day, I am feeling intense gratitude for the men and women who have laid down their lives in the service of others. I've been scrolling through posts about parades, memorials, and images of the devastation of war (see here for a very poignant and artful slideshow of veterans' injuries). I'm thankful that people are remembering this day and the extraordinary sacrifices that enable us to camp, complain, BBQ, work, write, live and love freely.

I captured this shot of the B-29 "Fifi" at Oshkosh in 2012 before the sky broke open.