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Happy June

June 1, 2013
Graduation from University of the West. Photo by Colin McIllece. Also pictured, from left to right, President C.S. Wu, Dean William Howe, and Rev. Danny Fisher.

Graduation from University of the West. Photo by Colin McIllece. Also pictured, from left to right, President C.S. Wu, Dean William Howe, and Rev. Danny Fisher.

I realize I’ve been off the blogosphere for a while now. Trying to manage a fundamentally unmanageable life will do that. Oh, don’t worry. I’m not getting all dramatic on you. Just a little Buddhist humor. Bit dark for some, but it always makes me smile.

Happy June, everyone. I realize now, on the first day of the first month of summer, that I have yet again survived another “final” semester. I walked across the stage, shook hands, bowed, and hugged, and smiled, and walked off with a white folio bearing a golden lotus, the seal of our university. Of course, it was empty. They’re all empty. No one can say for sure a week before grades are due whether you’ve passed or not, but everyone is happy to give you the benefit of the doubt so as not to ruin the party.

My family came and went. The relaxing weekend on the beach was more of a go-hither-and-yon chauffer-a-thon than a real vacation, but I don’t regret a minute of it. I love my family and enjoy sharing a small part of my life with them, seeing the fun we all still have together. It was my brother and sister-in-law’s first time in Southern California. My Dad had the right idea with that beach house. Got us all out of the city and the smog, though they caught glimpse of it enough to know how good they had it at home.

I miss home. Every time they talk about thunderstorms in Oklahoma, I feel a little nostalgic, a little envious. Irrational, I know. Those thunderstorms are killing people right now, and the devastation puts cracks in my heart. But they’ve always been the flame to my moth, beautiful and terrifying and nowhere I’d rather be than right in the middle of one. Here, on the edge of the continent, the closest thing I have to that terrible, unstoppable, sublime force is the ocean. I am reminded every time I walk into it that it’s trying to kill me, an intuition this prairie girl cannot shake but does not turn away from. At least, not in the gentle waves of Newport Beach.

I’m starting a new life, but still clinging to the vestiges of the old, working for my most recent alma mater. There’s a one-year contract for “Accreditation Assistant” sitting on my desk waiting to be signed and a reception for the new President on Monday. I’m planning the class I’ll teach in July, “Information Literacy 101.” When they asked me to teach it, I thought “I don’t know anything about ‘information literacy.'” When I read the definition, I thought “I know everything about ‘information literacy.'” They just didn’t bother to call it that when I went through undergrad, not too long ago, in fact. I’ll be faculty, adjunct, but still faculty, real and actual. At least, that’s what my teaching contract says.

And in the fall, I’ll officially be on my way to a PhD. Someone told me the other day that only one in four people who start a PhD ever finish it. Long odds, but that never deterred me before. I’ll be at a new school, a “fancy, private, religious college” of the kind I never dreamed I’d attend, let alone on scholarship generously granted by people who seem to want me to be there, no less. Inside I’m still that trouble maker the teachers fought over to keep out of their classes. Getting a doctorate seems a fitting way to thumb my nose at them … though I suppose I owe them a thing or two as well. Perseverance, for one.

Friends are off to great new things, jobs and adventures and weddings. And I’m trying, once again, to rebuild my social networks. I often think that’s the hardest thing about college. You’re just getting to know someone well, in that way that real friends do, without words, and they up and graduate and move away. Or you up and graduate and move away. Lives change and suddenly there’s less room for each other. It’s good, but also sad, and always leaves me at somewhat of a loss.

Right now, I’m working into a new rhythm. Working a few days a week. Jogging in the mornings with the dog, getting my running form back after a lazy academic year. Binge watching every television show I missed in the last nine months. And still (always) figuring out how to live with a guy I care about without driving us both mad. That one may be a losing battle, but at least it’s interesting.

I hope you’ll hang tight with me while I get back into the swing of blogging. I hope I’ll manage to make it interesting, though of course I can’t promise. I’ve no plans yet, but we know that’ll change. As a Buddhist might say, change always does.

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