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FAQ: My Master’s Program Part I

A couple weeks ago, I asked my friends on Instagram if they’d be interested to hear about my experience in my master’s program. An overwhelming amount of them kindly said they did, so I went a step further and asked what they would like to know. Below are some of the questions I’ve received and my, hopefully, helpful responses. Some questions I reserved for Part II because they require more in-depth answers. I will be posting it soon though!

For context, I am a graduate student at the University of Guam pursuing a Master of Arts in English with a Literature track. I began my program in the Fall of 2018 and my projected graduation date is December 2020. As such, I can only give my experience and advice based on my specific program.

Here’s what I go over in Part I:

The Process and the Program
– What’s the process like?
– Why did you decide to go to UOG?
– In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters?
– Expectations vs Reality?
– Undergrad vs. Grad?
– Workload?

– Professor interaction compared to undergrad?

The Thesis Process:
– How do you choose a thesis?
– What is the process of completing that thesis?

– Best places for sources?
– How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
– For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other cultures’ stories?

My Personal Journey and Advice to You: 
– Fav moments?
– Fav things you’ve read?
– Is it worth it?
– Does your future career choice require a masters?
– What can you do with your degree?
– What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
– Thoughts on taking a gap year?

The Process and the Program

  • What’s the process like?
    • Pre-application: For my program, I was required to submit a graduate application with my undergraduate transcript and letters of recommendation. I applied a week before classes started. For other programs, you’ll definitely need to plan as several graduate programs require you to apply a semester before classes even start and might require other documents. Make sure to do your research!
    • Credits: Once you get accepted, the English Program requires that students take 9-12 credits or 3-4 courses before they apply for thesis credits. You’ll need a total of 36 credit hours with 6 of those hours being dedicated to thesis. Most of us opted for 2-3 classes a semester as 4 classes, along with our respective jobs and responsibilities, could prove challenging.
    • Thesis: For those who aren’t aware, a thesis is pretty much a final research project, often in the form of a 45-65 page essay. You can choose to go the traditional thesis writing route or the creative thesis route. I chose the latter. Here’s a snippet I stole from my university’s website:
    • Students who follow the traditional option are those who desire to increase their mastery of a given content area and might be contemplating doctoral work in the future. Students who select the creative option might be preparing to teach creative writing in the schools, to work as editors and publishers, or will be writing for personal accomplishment. (“Admission Requirements“)

    • Whatever you choose will have its own challenges, so choose a path that’s interesting and sustainable for you. The best part about your thesis is that it’s yours. While you get to choose what you want to write about, however, your thesis should still showcase the knowledge you accumulated in your courses, which can include a strong command of language and firm understanding and application of theory.
  • Why did you decide to go to UOG?
    • Everyone thinks of cost when choosing a school. Well, almost everyone. I remember going for a drive with two friends of mine. One of them was complaining about how he had spent over $70k for his degree in business and how his job was only paying him a little more than minimum wage. At this time, I also only had a B.A. and was about to pull out loans for my M.A. while only having a part time job.
    • My other friend, who doesn’t have her degree and who was also likely tired of listening to us complain said, “I don’t even have my degree and I’m still making more than both of you.”
    • That’s when I realized I didn’t want to drop $70k+ on a big, fancy school mistakenly thinking my inevitable success would be tied to its name. I knew I could receive just as good of an education at UOG. I already knew the professors, knew that I wanted to study indigenous and pacific Literature, and knew I could accomplish all I wanted with paying a fraction of the price.
  • In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters? and/or vice versa?
    • I wish I could answer this, but I can’t as I have no experience with it. I can, however, table this for a later post where I interview my professors or other graduate students.
  • Expectations vs Reality? Undergrad vs. Grad? Workload?
    • Expectation: The classes will be 10x harder. I’ll hate my life.
    • Reality: When I was taking course work, I was submitting 1-3 essays a week and reading 200+ pages of text along with it. The beginning of the semester usually starts slow, but once it hits midterms it felt like the rest of the semester was me trying to catch up. The rigor and expectation is definitely heightened, but I also had the freedom to choose what classes I wanted to take.  Because my program is relatively small, the professors are really accommodating with students. They always ask for our input and what classes we would like to take next semester. I was actually super interested in what I was learning. So while it was 10x harder, it was far more enjoyable than undergrad. 
    • Expectation: I wouldn’t have time to do anything other than school.
    • Reality: I had a part-time writing job, TA’d for my division, joined an outside league for basketball, and still hung out with friends. I just had to plan, prioritize, and recognize when I needed to buckle down and write that paper.
    • Expectation: I’ll finally have my life together and have it all figured out.
    • Reality: I don’t.
    • Expectation: I’ll be broke.
    • Reality: I mean, I’m nowhere where I want to be financially but I had more opportunities presented to me in graduate school. Because I narrowed my area of focus, it was easier for me to find the right place to network and the right people to work with.
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
    • Great question! I’ll save this for Part II. 😉
  • Professor interaction compared to undergrad?
    • Very good in my program! Some classes are hybrid, meaning it’s a mix of undergraduate students and graduate students (usually 1-2 other grads). In grad-only classes, the typical size is about 5 students, so not only did I form a close relationship with my professors, I also created a much needed bond with my cohort.

The Thesis Process:

  • How do you choose a thesis topic? 
    • Professors often advise students to have a potential thesis topic or area of interest in mind before they even enter the program. A lot of professors are very accommodating and will allow their students to tailor one or more essay assignments to their class and the student’s thesis. For instance, in my SciFi class, I drafted a story with the same theories I used in my thesis (post-colonialism and ecofeminism). What I learned from this essay was a valuable contribution to my actual thesis. So the sooner you know what you’re interested in, the better!
    • I learned, too, that the best way to choose a topic is to find something interesting AND important to me. Then interrogate the hell out of it.
      • Interesting: Mythology, Folklore
      • Important: My culture, my creative writing, valuable ways to create art, uplift voices from marginalized communities
      • My questions: How do Filipino myths shape the perception of women in the Philippines? How do they reflect the treatment of the environment? How can myths be adapted to reflect current times while also remaining a mirror of history/herstory? How can this be valuable and to what communities?
      • Theories: Eco-feminism, Post-colonialism, Abjection
  • What is the process of completing a thesis?
    • Before I decided to write my thesis, I first had to register for thesis credits. Before I registered for thesis credits, I first had to find an advisor or thesis chair (I’ll get into this more in another question).
    • Once I chose my advisor, I chose my committee (usually two to three other professors or scholars) to help me along in this journey. They didn’t need to be experts in my topic, although that certainly helps, but I chose them because they could offer valuable insight to my project.
    • Next, I spent roughly 6 credit hours dedicated to reading, researching, organizing and drafting my manuscript, which is now nearing 67 pages.
    • You can break up your 6 credits any way you want. Some only take 1 thesis credit a semester, others take 3-4. It’s up to you. For some areas of study, your final project might not even be in the form of a long essay. Some colleges have an oral exam. Be aware of your options!
  • Best places for sources?
    • I found a lot of valuable sources on JSTOR, but since my topic deals with indigenous narratives I had to move past the white-men-mostly databases and seek permission to access articles from universities in the Philippines. I also checked the bibliographies of the articles that related to my topic and tried to find the ones of interest to me. If it was a book, I often checked The Project Gutenberg for free texts. Otherwise, I just got really good at wording research topics and tacking ‘scholarly article’ at the end of the google search bar.
    • Before you pay for access to certain sources, check to see if your library or thesis chair is part of an affiliate program where they can retrieve articles from other universities for free. You’d be surprised how many expensive texts and articles I was able to gain access to for free.
  • How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
    • Before I chose my thesis chair, I had to think about the kind of student I was and the type of professors I needed. I knew I needed structure and too much freedom would be debilitating to my productivity. I also knew I wanted to work with someone who was knowledgeable about the theories I wanted to apply, but who was also open to learning about my own thesis topic and balanced that structure with freedom.
    • So I chose an awesome chair who required me to write up a 10 page proposal and have a working list of references before I even started writing. It. Sucked. But I needed it. This proposal helped me refine my topic in many ways. She also required me to create realistic deadlines and made sure I stuck to them.
    • Some professors won’t require a proposal or will give you all the freedom you need and some students thrive with this method. They have their own methods of structure and organization that, sadly, I lack. So choosing the right person to chair your thesis will be heavily informed by how aware you are of your own study and writing habits and how well you know your professors professor-ing habits (?? idk either).
  • For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other culture’s stories?
    • One of the purposes of my thesis is to illustrate one of the many ways indigenous writers can use creative writing to heal colonial wounds and rebuild their own identities unencumbered by the negative stigmas attached to their respective cultures and beliefs. My project seeks to carve a space, specifically, for Filipino narratives to converse with the wide array of stories already told in the corpus of western academia, young adult literature, and mythology. It’s so specific to my home that my hope wouldn’t be to tell the stories of other nations and cultures, but to hopefully encourage indigenous writers to tell their own stories in their own ways.

My Personal Journey and advice to you:

  • Fav moments?
    • My favorite moments all revolve around my cohort. There’s no specific moment, but there’s the specific feelings of struggling and despairing, doubting yourself and what you’re writing but ultimately pushing through and doing it with a supportive group of friends who are all going through the same thing. Sometimes we’d be so stress that our only response was to laugh like psychos over very real fears like what if we don’t finish in time or what if we can’t find a job after?
    • & to me, those are my favorite moments because they taught me that even in the midst of all this underlying fear and palpable stress, that we could still find the energy to laugh and have a good time. Those moments really convinced me that no matter what happens, it’ll all be okay.
  • Fav thing you’ve read?
    • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    • I read it in my EN680: Seminar in Contemporary Critical Theory class and wrote an essay applying my knowledge of environmental stylistics. I hated this paper so much that my love for it was inevitable.
  • Is it worth it? 
    • I’m always weary of answering this question: Is it worth it? It depends on what your goals are and what you make of your degree. I know everyone hates that answer, but it’s the most truthful one I have. I do think my degree was and is worth it because I learned so much about myself and my area of study. BUT I KNOW! We want to know about job opportunities. See the next question.
  • Does your future career choice require a masters? 
    • No. I would like to work in a publishing house, specifically in adult literature, or become a self-sustaining author. Both of which do not require a master’s degree but it does help in whatever profession I do choose to go into and it does entail a pay increase, soooooo.
    • Yes. I would also like to work as a librarian, which does require a master’s degree in Library Science.
  • What can you do with your degree?
    • Other careers I could pursue with my degree: Marketing, Advertisement, Public Relations, Freelance Writing, Media and Journalism, Law (e.g. paralegal, lawyer), Copyediting, Technical Writing, Teaching, etc.
    • You can basically do anything with an English degree if you’re driven enough to apply what you’ve learned and know the value and application of cross-disciplinary skills–– of which English has many. The most common and most valuable for almost all job markets are a strong command of language, exceptional writing, and strong communication skills.
  • What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
    • I didn’t want to be a little cry baby bitch. I thought about how many people would kill to be in my position, people who don’t have access to education, and who don’t have a supportive group of family and friends–– all people who deserve the right to an education. So I didn’t and don’t want to waste such a blessing. CORNY, I know, but that’s my honest answer.
    • When I first began this specific journey, I wanted to make my parents proud. As I near the end, I’ve come to realize that it’s just as important to make myself proud, which is arguably a lot harder.
  • Thoughts on taking a gap year?
    • I think for some people, it’s a great idea! I know fellow graduates who took a gap year, travelled, taught in other countries, accumulated “real world” experience and came back refreshed and even more ready for the school year. They dominated their course work.
    • In contrast, some people would rather just get straight into it, i.e. me. I was afraid that if I took a gap year, I would lose the motivation to go back to school. So, again, it depends on the person.

I’m all written out. Thank you for reading and I hope some of what I’ve shared has been useful in some way. Maybe it even convinced you to say, “Fuck a master’s degree!” To which I reply, “Do you, boo.” I don’t think a master’s degree is necessary (for the most part!) to be “successful” but I do believe knowledge and education are always an investment and you are worthy of that.

Some questions I’ll be covering in Part II:

  • How to deal with full time and school! Mix of online and in person classes? Gives and takes. 
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
  • What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
  • My tips for optimizing your reading and writing time

 

 

 

 

 

“How Do You Know You’re A Writer?”

Sometimes the words fall through the tips of my fingers with the same excruciating slowness as that of the leaves of a hibiscus detaching itself from its stem.
Other days my hand speeds across the page with the same intensity as a tornado threatening anything that gets in its way.
Some moments I wish I never have to pick up another pen or glide it across another page.
Many days I hope to spend the limited seconds of my life buried in words so deep, I’d collapse from my final breath before I’d ever crawl out.
Often, I wonder if I should keep going, keep connecting the curves until the ink runs out. Or I wonder if I’ve fallen hopelessly in a passionate outburst of words born out of over-inflated self importance.
I write and I write.
And I am tired.
I am exhausted by the mental capacity needed to come up with another simple sentence, another worthy thought, which almost always comes up short.
And before I know it, I am just a word that flows into the air, evaporating into the clouds until it is barely the shadow of a letter.
It is like a wish being thrown into a well falling until its echo is just a whisper. Sometimes someone hears it and other times, no one does.
And so it falls like dead weight to the ground.
But I cannot not write
because there is no other choice but to be
and for me, to be is to find those cursed words
that I write over and over again, until they lose their meaning.
And so I write.
And I write.
Nd I write.
D I write.
I Write.
Write.
Rite.
Ite.
Te.
E.

My First Poem of 2020

clip art flower.png

 I wrote a love poem once

But the words never made it on paper
Instead, they flew right out the window
And they rose and fell and evaded me 
before shooting across a rose covered sky
Like a comet during a sunset

For two decades,
They followed the waves of the Seven Seas

Crashed against the banks of countless countries
Weaved their way through Chocolate Hills and 
Machu Picchu, along the Great Pyramids of Giza, 
Through the South Pole, and then into the Northern Lights
Where they stayed for a long while. 

And for a time,
I thought I had lost them forever

That they had fallen into some dark abyss
With no one to catch them
Or found their way into a stranger’s distant dream
who would wake up that morning
And forget.

I had never imagined
that they would have fallen haphazardly onto your lap
–– unannounced and without preamble

ages before I had even heard your name,
 

and

I would have never dreamed
That the stars and the moon and the countless suns
had all planned the exact moment
 when we would meet,
me, with my unmarked paper

you, with my worn and well-traveled words

and that you had been waiting
       all this time
to return them to me. 

 

Things I’ve Learned About Love at 22

We all know love requires trust and love is patient and love is kind blah blah blah. You guys can read all in another article or just watch A Walk to Remember. Below is my unfiltered and candid opinion of my own experiences.

I have to admit, I’ve been working on this piece for a while. And if you want full disclosure here, I’ll probably be revising this as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser. I’m not going to provide background on my love life in order to convince you I’m a credible source because let’s face it. I’m not. Hello!! I’m only 22!! I am not a love guru, nor do I wish to ever be one, and this post is most definitely not a “How To” guide for a successful relationship. But while I’ll be the first to admit there’s still a lot I need to learn, I also know that I’m not an idiot, so I have to have learned something. Here are some of my experiences and lessons learned and because I appreciate you all so much, I’ve compiled them in a list for easier reading.

  1. Love not a linear path– it goes up and down.
    It’s a lot of work to love someone and, admittedly, a lot of heartache.
    You often hear countless iterations of “love isn’t complicated. It’s people who make it complicated,” which I think is dumb. Granted, the sentiment is completely valid and has merit BUT you can’t remove an integral part of the equation– people! Without people, there is no love. So if love is an action, it requires someone to act on it; and unless you’re perfect and always make the right choices, love is going to be hard, dude.We’re going to mess up. Life might get in the way. Your partner is probably going to hurt you and you’re not always going to be the same starry-eyed lovers throughout the relationship. Yet, that’s also the best part of it all because the good times become great knowing you’ve both made it through the fire.
  2. Don’t idolize your partner
    When we first meet someone, it’s easy to cast an illusion over them. Infatuation blinds us to flaws. What happens when that illusion fades and we realize that the person we were so obsessed over is, in fact, human? Shocking! I’ve learned that we shouldn’t idolize our partners. The more we put them on a pedestal, the more strain they’ll be under to meet our expectations, which doesn’t leave room for mistakes in the relationship–– or growth. Just let them be human. The rest will work itself out with proper communication and understanding.On the flip side, it’s pointless to try an portray yourself as a “ideal” version of yourself because you’re afraid they’ll leave if they see the ‘real you.’ I’m not saying you should be a bum. But love requires us to be honest with who we are. We weren’t designed to be perfect. We were designed to be better. How can we improve if there’s nothing to work towards?
  3. If you’re not going to be vulnerable, there’s no point
    No one wants to be the first to open up. We never know how the other person is going to react to our flaws and insecurities, but that’s intimacy. That’s love. That’s what makes your person different from all the others– the trust and openness you build with them. Without being vulnerable, they might as well just be another person you pass by on the sidewalk.
  4. Love is the little things 
    My first love baked me a cake for my birthday, likely because he didn’t drive and didn’t have a job to buy me anything fancy, but it’s one of my favorite gifts to this day. In my last relationship, my partner dropped me dinner at midnight because she knew I’d been at school all day and hadn’t eaten and likely wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve always felt most loved when my partners reminded me to get off Twitter and finish my paper or when we’d go out to eat and they’d give me the lemon in their water without asking because I love lemons. Such small things but every tiny action was a substantial reminder that they were listening to me. The little things were the reassurances that they loved me.I think social media and viral videos of couples decorating their significant others’ bedrooms with a million balloons and obscene amounts of red roses and lavish gifts has misconstrued the purpose of grand gestures. It’s almost become a competition of “Look what MY partner did and what yours didn’t,” “My relationship is perfect,” or “Get you a man like mine!” Don’t get me wrong– it’s great to have someone go above and beyond for you. But that’s not love. That’s a performance. You can definitely have both, but you shouldn’t confuse the two.
  5. Love is scary, bro
    If you’re anything like me, you’ve subconsciously sabotaged one of your relationships at one point or another for no other reason than you’re afraid. You’ll pull away or push your partner away because you’re scared to fall in love. After all, it’s easier to move on when you didn’t invest any substantial part of yourself. But do it anyways.The worst heartbreak I experienced devastated me. I cried every night for almost a week. Worst of all, I couldn’t listen to music and I live for music. It’s the one thing I start and end my days with. But I’d physically want to throw up when I tried to listen to anything– even sad songs!! Imagine!! But that’s how I knew I had loved him because it hurt that much. Even now, I never want to feel that way again, but I also know that’s probably not going to be the case. Love is a risk. So take it. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll learn more about who you are, what you want, and what you need and perhaps fall in love with yourself instead in the process. Isn’t that nice?
  6. Testing your partner’s love for you gets you nowhere. 
    Don’t test someone’s love. It’s dishonest and if you have test them to prove they love you, then your relationship is lacking. If you have to push them away to see if they’ll come back and fight for you, that’s a lack of trust. It’s not love. If they love you, they’ll show you. They’ll listen to you. They’ll communicate. In the end, we all do what we want to do anyways.
  7. Love should never feel like it’s at the expense of your own happiness
    (My friend actually gave me this one. Thanks, D.)
    We romanticize the idea of someone taking care of us first–– of doing everything in the service of those we love most. Which, while noble, without any balance can be extremely burdensome and detrimental down the road. Love requires some sacrifice but love, itself, shouldn’t be one. If it hurts you more than it heals you, is it really worth it?
  8. Your partner shouldn’t be your everything.
    I understand that life is an endless obstacle course with breaks being few and far between and we need people to help us overcome our latest hurdles. We aren’t built to be solitary. We need people to live a life worth living, but we shouldn’t exclusively need one person. No one should be the end all, be all of your entire existence.Yes, spend time with who you love. Give them the best parts of yourself. But love requires space every now and then. Love yourself and your partner enough to recognize that you both need a life outside of each other. Be individuals.
  9. Soulmates aren’t real/ Love is a choice
    Look. I’m not jaded. I don’t think unconditional love is unachievable. I think there are a select few people who’ll fit you better than most, but I definitely don’t think there’s only one person out there for you. If love is a consistent choice you have to make everyday, then you choose a soulmate. You’re not given one by the universe.Here’s a quote that sums up my believe perfectly. A poetry book by Criss Jami once read, “To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.”
  10. Finally, Love is a mystery and no one has all the answers.
    Even having typed all this out, I know there’s still so much more I don’t know and so much more I need to learn, but life is for the learning inclined and dull without any mysteries. So I’m perfectly okay knowing I don’t have it all figured out.

I realize that a lot of this might come off preachy to some and someone is bound to disagree with me, so let’s have a conversation. What have you guys learned about love so far? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Letting Go

Today, I painstakingly unfolded a crumpled piece of paper
That I had been carrying around with me in my pocket
For weeks it had been imprisoned too tightly in my fist
Compressed to the point that I had torn the edges,
trying to pry the page free of its strict creases, over-bent corners, and smudges
With its alternating lines of happiness and despair in now unrecognizable print

I unfolded it from the awkward skeleton of emotions it had become
From the confining lines of unshared passions and unsure promises
And with sure and gentle fingers, with a little bit of sadness too, I refashioned it
with all its imperfections and all its torn sides– into a blue paper crane
That could crane its paper neck, and flap its paper wings
& I let it go, set it free into the deep wilderness of random debris
of empty cartons, and wasted food, all encased in a plastic bag in the corner of my kitchen

when my heart caught up with my sight, when it saw how my hands were brave enough to do what it had failed to
it felt unburdened and f r e  e,
& in that moment, light as a breath
I let loose the bent wings of my own paper soul,
suddenly wild and unencumbered

and I, too

took

      flight

My Struggles with Writing

Another month has passed in the year 2019 and with it came my usual bimonthly identity crises. Unlike my paychecks though, their due dates are grossly inconsistent and always unwelcome. Part of me is really hoping that we only get a limited amount of “episodes” so that by the time I turn 30, I will have already filled out that category of my life that I won’t have anymore identity crises to spare in the future.

BUT ANYWAYS!

So what inspired this month’s episode? Writing–– the one thing I used to love the most. Ironically. A month ago I realized that I hadn’t written for recreational purposes in such a long time. I’d been so consumed with my work–– critical essays, analyses, peer- reviews, book reviews, freelance articles–– that I hadn’t written any new poetry or stories or unqualified reflections on life. & whenever I sat down and made the time to do so, I felt nothing. No inspiration to write, no idea what even to write about. I actually felt like I didn’t even know how to write anymore, which was the oddest thing in the world because this year and the year previous has been the most I’ve written in my whole “career.” Still I felt like I was backsliding. Like I plateaued in my writing. I had to ask myself why this was and I realized that I had stopped writing for fun because the one thing I loved the most turned into a chore. It turned into something that I had to do to get an A or to get paid and when I didn’t have to do it to achieve a goal, I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. I started to resent writing.

Growing up, I’d constantly be told the same iteration of this phrase: “Find what you love and figure out how to make a profit/career out of it.” At the time that seemed like sound advice. Now? I’m so surrounded by what I love that I am suffocated by it. For a time, I felt like I had failed because if what I loved wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, what do I do then? Who will I be or become now? AND THAT’S when I told myself to stop being so dramatic and chill out. To stop and think.

I started to realize that my career and my passion don’t have to be directly connected. Sure, they can coincide, but they don’t have to be one in the same. And with that came a bunch of other realizations.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on writing. I’m not saying I no longer want to work for the New York Review of Books or write my own novel one day. I’m not saying that death by exegesis or critical analyses on existentialism will stop me from pursuing my PhD. All I’m saying is that 22 is way too young to be forcing myself into a career path or stagnant perception of identity when both are journeys and not destinations. BARF. Cheesy. I know. 22 is also a really young age and to be arrogant enough to assume that I should have it all figured out by now is really unrealistic and unhealthy.

I know that this post is all over the place. To be honest, I didn’t even want to write it, but I forced myself to because the other thing I realized–– and stick with me here because this is even cringier than the last paragraph–– is that my love for writing is a lot like a relationship.

Ya’ll know old couples are constantly saying that they weren’t always in love? That there were times they wanted to get a divorce or kill their partner or feel as if they didn’t even recognize the person they fell in love with. Well, this is a lot like that. Writing and I have left our honeymoon phase. We’re past all that infatuation and at that crucial juncture between staying together and strengthening our bond or going our separate ways and only meeting once in a while when I’ll have e-mails to my boss. What I’m really getting to is that I’m taking that step into a life long “partnership.” Because writing is a part of me. It has opened so many doors, helped me close some too; and it’s a part of my life that I never want to lose even if I may resent it at this moment. So. I’m forcing myself to write, to not give up. & Maybe I won’t rediscover my passion tomorrow or next week or even next month, but I’m confident that I will again. & You know? For now, at 22 with (hopefully) half a century left to live, that’s good enough for me.

-petrichor-

Today, the book I was reading got wet
I left it outside on the porch, let the rain
Trample over the opened pages, and
didn’t realize what I had done
until the downpour subsided
And the rain slowed to a drizzle

When I picked it up next, I cried
Such a small thing to get upset over
But lately I’ve been feeling as flimsy as these wet pages
As bendable as the soft paper cover
As fragile as the watered down edges

And lately, I’ve been more and more like water
Like a stream traveling with no destination
Loose, unformed, lacking a single shape
So easily folded into nothing in particular
And as hard as I‘ve been trying,
it seems all I find are shadowed crevices
and because of gravity and because I am water
All I can do is fall through
Separating even more of myself
until I’m just
a
single
drop

But when I opened the book, I saw that my notes
Haphazardly scribbled– were unmarred
The spine of the cover– intact
and the dog eared pages– still folded

When I saw this, I cried again.
And as the droplets began to fall once more,
As the gray clouds danced against the wind,
I laid my book beneath the fan
Walked outside, let my limbs fall languidly
          Felt my body flow north
And joined the rain

Graduation, Lactose Intolerance, and Vomiting in My Car– some minor and major life updates for ya

Given that my last post was months ago, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that life has been pretty hectic lately. So here are some minor updates followed by a few major ones.

Minor Updates: 

  1. I’ve developed an intolerance to lactose
    Apparently this is a common occurrence for Asians and I’m still pretty pissed off about it.
  2. I recently presented The Secrets to Success at the Sigma Tau Delta International Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. I picked up crocheting
  4. My current goal is to crochet a queen sized blanket using the waffle stitch pattern.
  5. My friend threw up in my car
    Yes; we’re still friends.
  6. I’ve downloaded Clash of Clans all for the purpose of destroying my girlfriend’s home base.
    I’m looking for a clan. Hit me up if you need a new member!

Major (?) Updates:

  1. I got a tattoo
    I chose my adoption date. I knew that my first tattoo would have to be something special to me. This date is a constant reminder of how fortunate and blessed I am.
    IMG_1958
    I actually got this tattoo a while back– let’s say around October of 2017– and only a handful of people know about it. It was never something I really wanted to flaunt.Also, my parents don’t even know and they would kill me. (Sorry mom & dad!!)
  2. I have a girlfriend
    To many, this has been a surprise considering I had only dated men in the past and I’ve received a lot of questions about my relationship; but I don’t want to make this update about the fact that I’m dating a girl. As my wise friend, Tamar, once stated: “Differentiating this relationship from others solely because of gender would only detach it from the conversation about relationship norms.” What I want to focus on instead is how healthy this relationship has been thus far and how it has changed both me and my partner in better ways.But I’ll talk more about this in another post.

     

  3. I’m graduating in a month
    It’s funny. When I first started my journey towards my B.A. I couldn’t wait to finish and get it all over with. Yet, here I am with the finish line in sight and no definite idea of what to do next.

    Will I go to grad school right away? Maybe.
    One year hiatus? Possibly.
    Continue with Literature? Debating.
    Finally finish that novel I started? That would be ideal.The point is, I don’t really know yet & I’m sloooooooOOOOOooowly (very, very slowly) realizing that that’s okay. I’ve come to understand that the sadness and ocean of hopelessness that I’ve been feeling over the past few semesters were a product of all the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to know– to know everything and to know it all right now.  To know what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do what I want to do before I even know what it is I want to do. But as Lily once said on season 4 of How I Met Your Mother:

    “You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it and it’ll design itself.”

    This is not to say that I’ve completely abandoned all recourse for responsible action or that I have now become a passive participant in my own life; rather, I’m teaching myself to trust in my own abilities more and to know that I can make the best of whatever comes my way.

    Anyways, enough of the life lesson. What I really wanted to share was that I’m graduating May 20th with a degree in Literature and a minor in Writing. My very tentative plan is to pursue a Masters in Literature with a focus on ethnic literature (specifically Latinx literature) within the next 5 years. Hopefully get more serious about publishing, and eventually retire with a house filled with large windows and pets.

    In a nutshell, this has been my life for the past few months. Granted, I can’t detail every notable moment, nor would I ever want to bore you with that, but I hope some of these updates have been interesting or relatable in some way.

    I know I haven’t been great at keeping my blog updated, but that will change! So let’s talk! As always,  please feel free to offer any constructive criticism, comments, or suggestions on what you’d like to see me post about next.

    Happy Reading!

To You

In this world, we are only ever given choices
To hate, to love, to take a left or turn right
To fight another day or collapse within ourselves
and let our fragile hearts consume us

In this world, we watch the hands of the clock too closely
Count the seconds like we count the coins in our pockets
Listen to the movement of time like a metronome
And catch up with the hours that move faster than we can run

In this world, life is chaotic and nothing is guaranteed
And all we can ever do is keep walking through the fire

But in my world, you are an artist and I-
I am an imperfect puzzle, incomplete and weary
And you paint sunsets in place of missing pieces
Craft melodies with your hands,
Draw monsoons with your lips and I
I am endlessly recreated by your love

In my world, I don’t know much of anything
I don’t know up from down, this from that,
here from there-

I live my life in a spiral

 I don’t subscribe to fate,
and I don’t know much of destiny
Sometimes i don’t even believe in god

but my god

I love you

 

 

 

 

We Should Be More Like Butterflies

Do you ever look at a butterfly and notice its translucent wings of various hues and patterns? It flutters in the sunlight and its beauty is magnificent. We marvel at the hands of nature, so skilled and so brilliant to be able to create a creature so immaculate. Yet, when we look at a caterpillar, often times, we view it only as what it can be, not what it is. The significance of a caterpillar is not that it is a caterpillar, but that it can become a butterfly.

Such a creature is characterized most of all by its evolution, which is the epitome of profound reinvention. A caterpillar’s very being is made of billions of cells who dutifully perform every task necessary to prepare its host for the final stages of metamorphosis. It sheds its old skin, lives in a new one for a while and when it outgrows that one, it sheds again. Then when it is ready, the caterpillar hides from the world, cocoons itself in a hard casing, and forms a chrysalis. It is during this time of progression that the cells of the caterpillar start changing rapidly. It eats itself and turns to liquid inside its pupa, molding into a new form better equipped for its new life. Old, unnecessary cells make room for improved ones while the other cells that remain reshape themselves into eyes, legs, wings and antennas– all the parts necessary for its reintroduction into the world. Then once the butterfly is ready, it fights its way out of its cocoon.

It reaches the final stage of its transformation, but it is still weak. Its body is still tender from the process of its transition. There is a brief period after it first unfolds from its casing where the butterfly must stop and give itself time for blood to fill its wings.

It strengthens.

Then it flies.

No longer confined to the limits of its many legs, the butterfly explores the infinite paths of new wings.

Butterfly
A butterfly that graciously landed on me and stayed still long enough for me to take a picture.

We are, in so many ways, caterpillars crawling and consuming ceaselessly and without thought. When we reach our limit, we find ourselves at a standstill. During this time, it is easy to think we’ve reached our end and that there’s nowhere else to go. Like the cells of the caterpillar, every part of us will start to seem useless, unable to perform the tasks that were once necessary for survival and for growth. Our old cells are no longer beneficial, so we outgrow them. Thus begins our own transition where our old self forces itself into a new mold. We learn, adapt, and become better versions of who we are.

It is because we have these periods of weakness that we can achieve such strength. And just like butterflies, the lengths of our transitions vary among each one of us. While some may only take a couple weeks to transform themselves, others can take months and even years. Regardless, we are not defined by how long it may take us to escape our cocoon because we are ever-growing creatures running through an obstacle course that’s unique to us.

So when you look upon others who seem to be soaring with ease, and feelings of defeat start to consume you, remember that you are still a changing caterpillar simply growing within your chrysalis. The process of your transformation will be an arduous one. Yet, it is because of its difficulty that you will be better. You will be stronger. You will leave your cocoon with wings so radiant, you will be blinding. 

And yes. You will be magnificent.