Forever Student No Longer

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Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

It’s day 3 of my new job and I appreciate the stillness of the morning. Granted I’m hardly waking up that early, 8:40am usually, but the novelty has yet to wear off. I’m full of gratitude for how my life is completely different than it was a year ago. New apt, new roommates, new status-employed at a job! and new level of comfort in my relationship that comes from being together for one year.

I get a kick out of walking to and from work everyday. Fourteen minutes of getting my vitamin D and singing and calling on the Lord or pray-reading a verse until I get to the 2nd floor of the University at Illinois Chicago’s Eye Research Institute. Having my own desk and work computer, a Macbook Pro, makes me feel official and important. I only have 5 co-workers and one boss. They’re all scientists and one newly minted MD. I’m the resident science editor, though my offer letter called me a research associate.

As biblically ordained back in Genesis after man’s fall, humans were made to work. Being productive everyday makes me happier. Sure there are brief moments where I my eyes glaze over as I’m reading a block of text listing genes names or statistical models I don’t understand, but this beats lazing around at home trying and failing to get work done. The fact that I finished a personal science blog post yesterday adds to my sense of fulfillment.

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Illustration by Mari Andrew, her Instagram is the best!

This is me. My career path won’t be linear. There’s no telling what it’ll look like yet. I think my dream job is to be either a science writer/editor for the CDC in Atlanta or the NIH in Maryland. That could change.

On relationships in 2017

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Spotted on my Twitter feed and related immediately

It’s 2017 seems like an appropriate response to most anything these days. The fact that I read an NYTimes article this week that said something like, the President broke the news on his Twitter account this morning. Or when I saw other women dressed in sleeveless dresses or shoes that looked more club than workplace at a job interview. I thought: It’s 2017. Maybe I missed the memo, that that’s okay now.

It’s 2017! If only that were a good thing, implying that society has improved. I read the above tweet and felt compelled to get on my podium. I don’t interpret the above tweet as please don’t interrupt us because, I’m a strong feminist woman, who ain’t need no man. What this means to me is, we have plenty of wonderful friends and loving family members. We don’t need another texting buddy, fbook messaging buddy, (insert other form of messaging or dm-ing here). If I want a new friend, I’ll make one. If I want someone to text or message, I have my friends.

In 2017, there’s this ridiculous frustrating gray area between no relationship and relationship. In that gray area, fall guys who randomly text you for weeks, months, sometimes even years in a manner that is flirting and would make any person think they’re interested. But then, they never do anything. He doesn’t ask you out on a date. He never calls you up on the phone. Women, myself included, get tricked by this weird gray area. You start to be interested too. You have hope. Why else would someone keep trying to talk to you if they weren’t interested?

I was so used to this kind of behavior that when my boyfriend came along, I had low expectations. Or no expectations. I thought he’d just randomly text me all semester long, like other guys had. He gets major points for also picking up the phone and calling me during that time period. And when he did tell me he liked me, it wasn’t over a text message, but on the phone, in words so jumbled, I wasn’t sure I’d heard right.

This rant is for all my single friends and all ladies. Men, you too, take note! You see an amazing, beautiful woman and your options are 1) do nothing 2) do something beyond being a texting, messaging buddy. Call her, ask her out on a date. I’ll admit that if all you’d like to do is pay us a classy compliment, those can be a welcome ego boost too.

My friends, you deserve someone who makes your life even better. Someone who makes more effort then just sending you all manner of e-messages. You deserve to be wined and dined. Someone who is there for you. No guessing games as to when he’ll text or contact you next. Make that no games at all. In 2017, there are still real relationships that haven’t deteriorated into other non-committal relationships, friends with benefits, hookup buddies, who knows what. There is hope. All you have to do is ask God for what you want and don’t settle for anything less.

I realize that ending sounds too tidy, too easy. Like I’m just trying to wrap up the post in a neat bow. But really, know your worth and don’t accept crumbs from crummy men or men who just aren’t that into you. Always, in this and everything else, “let your requests be made known to God,” a la Philippians 4:6. There’s no need to be anxious.

A case of the blahs

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The passage of time is currently my enemy. You’d think with three stories left, stories for my master’s capstone, I’d be in a state of panic. Instead I’m practicing avoidance. Although, if I sit quietly I feel the knot in my stomach and teariness that could easily be summoned.

I hate school, but I love writing. Therein lies the contradiction. I also hate bad writing and I’m terrified of sucking.

Will Ferrell’s words are ringing through me, my fear of failure should not approach my fear of what if nor my fear of regret. Heck, he’s still  afraid. I think fear is especially tied to creative endeavors. There are no rules. Each time you’re creating something no one else has. I should add that I don’t usually abide by Will Ferrell’s words in life, but his recent USC commencement speech was relatable, laugh-out-loud hilarious and motivational.

I guess I’m also scared of disappointing my family. My dad’s always encouraged me to pursue what I love, when the rest of the world seems to value titles like engineer or programmer. The common response to hearing I majored in English was, “oh you want to be a teacher?” For the love of God, NO!

Being in this state of delaying the inevitable work that I’m giving myself less and less time to do puts me in a persnickety mood. People tend to be less friendly, surrounded by their clique, like the funny black guy in my data class. Mike told me some of the black students at Medill call themselves, “the Black Medill.” While it’s awesome that there are so many of them, maybe they’re also missing out by being clique-y. You can learn from people who are different than you.

A recent text got me thinking about people who divide themselves off into a clique based on, we record music together, we’re so musical. Well if you’re so musical why don’t you make a living off of it? I know a girl here who majored in viola performance and is playing for the Chicago civic orchestra.

It’s scary to follow your dreams. But the regret I know I’d feel if I never at least tried to be a journalist got me to choose journalism school over law school.

I could also use encouragement. Fear can be paralyzing. And while the peace of working alone on my projects/stories can be a pleasant vacuum where it’s just me and my work, sometimes it feels terribly isolating. It always helps to hear from others that fight through those moments of self doubt and thinking you can’t do it or make it.

Appreciating where I am now

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The view from the downtown newsroom

Why was I so anxious? In retrospect I can say that of my anxiety filled early post-college years. I was anxious about what my life would be like right now. Would I get into graduate school? Will I always be alone and lonely? Now I’m living what was then my future. Perhaps, it is easy to feel relieved since those concerns worked out.

Once you’ve had anxiety and it’s clear you’re prone to it, it’s easy to revert back. I’m facing another huge transition the stepping off of the cliff from what I know in graduate school to the abyss of the unknown that follows. I could be worried about the future once again, but I’m not really. Getting older has stabilized my inward being. Sure the ripples of anxiety still come, but I try to manage the heck out of it.

A sense of gratitude subtly infuses my daily life. Yes, I have peers who are at different places, perhaps already married or already working. What does it matter. No need to rush and marry the wrong person, I have my whole lifetime to be married, one or two years more makes negligible difference. And who at the end of their life has regretted not working their desk job for one additional year or two? I’m doing work that I love that fills me with joy! And hey, it’s relief for everyone else if I get all my question-asking urge satisfied by the end of the day.

I used to not look forward to getting older. I’ve always had milestones in my head. I want to be married by 30. Run a full marathon at 26. Have my first kid around 30 or 31, if I get married before then. A part of me still hates the lack of control surrounding some areas of life, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how things have happened so far. In a year I imagine I’ll be in a completely different place personally and location-wise.

(Today’s post was inspired by this beautifully written piece on Aging from my favorite blog, Cup of Jo)

Interracial Relationships and how do you know?

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My mom, a native of Seoul, South Korea. She would probably not be happy with this large candid picture of her.

My parents are such quirky, wonderful people. The time difference between LA and Chicago and trying to reach them between our work and school schedules can be difficult.

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My Dad visited me without my mom last year. We spent most of the weekend camping and hiking at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin

Hopefully my parents don’t mind that I’ve just shared pictures of them on my public blog. You won’t see many pictures of me anytime soon.

Theirs is the only marriage I’ve really seen up close and it’s an interracial one. I don’t usually think about the last fact, except that my mom claims that she’s the exception and it’s better to be “same culture. Different cultures not good.”

I loved how a dear family friend, who’s also in an interracial marriage, responded to that. Her and her husband are very similar in culture because of what they value and how they are. Culture’s not solely tied to race. Her husband recently offered via my sister to fellowship with my mom about her prejudices. Surprisingly, my dad thinks it’s a good idea. We’ll see what happens. Of course, my mom might feel uncomfortable with other members of our church knowing her feelings on this topic.

One thing that always stuck out to me is how I never saw or heard my parents argue or fight. A friend’s mom happened to hear me say that once. She was very surprised. Many of my friend’s parents in elementary school were divorced. Whenever I asked my Dad if I could do something, it was always “go ask your mom” and vice versa.

My mom always told me to marry someone like my Dad. Sadly, there just aren’t many witty, diligent, nerdy, stick-skinny geniuses like him out there. Or at least I haven’t encountered any I actually got to know. A guy also named Andrew who likewise majored in physics once joined my English class at Berkeley. I remember being intrigued, but I don’t think he was there all semester.

One of my sisters prefers nerdy skinny white guys, though she’s open to other races. I’ve never known what my future husband would look like, what race he’d be. Any relationship where someone isn’t my exact combination of European and Korean is technically interracial. Although if you see me and a white guy together, we probably look like a white couple.

Some people know that they’re going to end up with a certain race. My old roommate, a Jewish girl with blue eyes and unruly brown hair, always knew she’d marry an Asian. And her husband is. I wonder how people know that. Well I guess if you’ve always had a certain preference.

The question of knowing in general looms largely in a relationship. It sounds cheesy, but how do you know if they’re someone you could be with forever? Forever is an awfully long time.

I don’t know how to conclude my posts. A questioner by nature, I could easily conjure up a multitude of questions to discuss.

Thoughts on a Wednesday

 

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Writing spurred me to action it seems. I actually worked out this morning, just a short ab ripper x video from P90x and a short run, but it counts. It’s not that I’m usually sedentary. I think all the running I do to catch buses and trains and walking around Chicago counts too.

Back to thinking about perfection, other people aren’t perfect either. Some of the people I look up to are people who seem to have it all together(it being their career, impeccable grooming and great fashion, and a great love life, whatever stage it’s in). That describes both of my old roommates, though my current ones are great too. But even these people, my old roommates and everyone else who gives the appearance of having it all together, have struggles too.

There’s an older lady in my neighborhood who I know from church that intimidates me. She’s strong, doesn’t come off as being emotional and definitely has it together. I heard that like me she’s struggled with depression in the past and that perhaps it contributes to her strength. Now she’s more relatable and less intimidating to me. Who knew! And I was interested/flattered to hear that she likes me and thinks we’re similar. She’s quite insightful to detect that given that we don’t know each other well. I know some things about compensating for my weaknesses, more anxiety than depression actually. Thank you grad school, for training and forcing me to manage my anxiety so I’m free to write stories, design, code etc freely.

Perfection is particularly nonexistent in relationships. There is no perfect boyfriend, husband or marriage. I majored in English at the top English program in the country, UC Berkeley(not to brag, just establishing my authority on literature here). The marriage plot is a kind of story structure that culminates in a marriage. Getting married is seen as a happily-ever-after conclusion to one’s life. In a marriage plot, the marriage concludes the novel, as if life doesn’t continue to be full of fresh struggles to describe. I’ve realized from observing others (since I’m not married yet) that it’s not. There are still struggles within marriage. Maybe your husband is in medical school and spends countless, necessary hours studying, so you don’t spend as much time with him as you’d like. (True story) Or there are others who got married really young and have beautiful photos, but are now divorced or really struggling in their marriage. I’ve seen this happen among fellow Christians.

Points of weakness are universal. There’s a literary term for it, an achilles heel. The hero of a novel always has one. But it’s in our weaknesses that we’re relatable. We’re human.

Writing is my skill, dare I say talent. I’ve devoted my academic career to it and very soon, hope to make a living off of it. Yet, it’s not always easy. I procrastinate more than I like. Sometimes I tell myself you are not leaving this cafe or library or newsroom until x is written. Still, there’s a joy in the struggle almost and a satisfaction at the completion of each new piece, like this blog post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Resurrection- I’m not my ideal self but who is?

 

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You can thank my friends Learn with Amy and Insightful scoop for inspiring me to blog once more. I would like to think I helped inspire two of my best friends to start blogs and continue with such dedication.

Lately, some of the blogs I read are starting to lose me as a reader. I can write better content! Just keep reading and you’ll see.

I think everyone has a divide between their ideal self and their actual self. What I enjoy about my childhood friend Amy Lo’s new blog is that it’s very thought provoking. I haven’t come across another blog like it. Her post on establishing a morning routine got me thinking about where I am versus where I want to be.

For example: Hobbies I have: reading(mainly blogs and the news, ain’t got time for books in grad school, but usually lots of books).

Hobbies I wish I had: making kombucha, some form of consistent exercise like swimming or pilates, personal writing that’s not for school, decorating my room

It sounds like I have no hobbies, how lame. Free time isn’t particularly abundant during grad school unless you really make time for something you love. One of classmates who was a college runner somehow makes time to be a dedicated cyclist, competing in events etc. I do travel(for school, which they pay for-love it!) so hopefully that counts.

My grand excuse for not having more hobbies is school and wanting to spend my limited free time with people. Hobbies can be solitary activities and the nature of my reporting work is already solitary. I’m too extroverted and restless to sit still and engage in more solo activities.

Hopefully, I can at least add blogging to my current hobbies. I have bigger fish to fry, namely, finishing my capstones before I graduate in six weeks!