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.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I've got to hide the big brains somewhere, right?

My classmates and I were in the elevator after seminar one evening, for some reason talking about what body part we would change if we could. It was my turn but before I could answer, someone said "Your forehead, right?"

Umm, no, but thanks for telling me you think I have a giant one.

Fast forward five or six years, and I'm trying on my doctoral graduation regalia. I've been looking forward to wearing my Hogwarts robe and funny hat for years. Years. I finally get the tam out of the package and cram it on my noggin. After a second, the damn thing pops straight up like bread jumping out of the toaster. Faced with the choice of pinning it on like a pill-box and hoping for the best, or attempting unskilled sewing surgery, I called the bookstore and prayed. After much to-do, I was able to get the largest size possible.

Fast forward three more years to today. I crawl into Mr. T's lap while he's watching the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco. Attempting to execute an I-know-you're-not-feeling-great-so-I'll-be-extra-cute-to-cheer-you-up maneuver, I get nose-to-nose in the kiss position.

After some smooches, I think he's about to say something sweet when he blurts, "Your head is so big, it blocks every bit of the television."

Of the 60-inch television.
"HEEEEAD!!" If you haven't seen So I Married an Axe Murderer, you must.

After some faux-shocked sounds, I reply, "Because you said that, I'm going to stay here longer!"

He didn't miss a beat*: "It's not so big though that it blocks all of the sound."

After I stopped laughing, I croak, "And you just became a blog post."

In case you ever wonder how blog posts are born!


*This conversation is a direct, fact-checked series of quotes, and for the record, T says he is proud not to have missed a beat there. Rude.

School's out for summer!

Plus or minus 700 pages of grading in the last week. This teacher is tired and SO EXCITED FOR SUMMER!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Sacramento at 1,200 feet

Classes at Sac State ended yesterday. I should've spent the day grading papers but knocking around at 1,200 feet sounded so much more fun.

Nothing like a nice long flying lesson on a breezy day...

Flying from Sacramento Executive Airport to McClellan Airport for fuel. We saw a Chinook helicopter hovering. So loud! (Downtown Sacramento pictured in the distance, upper left.)
After practicing short- and soft-field take-offs at Rio Linda Airport, we headed back to Sacramento Executive, crossing over Cal Expo. The County Fair is in full swing and I'm counting days until the State Fair this July!