I feel like I have to write a reflection piece before I forget the feels. How apropos that it happens to be my one month anniversary of being here. I feel like it might be 100% appropriate to write about this on my public blog and that the likelihood of even you seeing this might be slim. But I might repost parts of it, so excuse that.

So here’s the shakedown:

  1. I have moved into my apartment. The situation is better than I thought it would, it could be better, it could be worse. It’s likely I’ll stay here both years because moving would be the biggest pain.
  2. I have done orientation events here which were tremendously boring, but part of the grad school experience, I am told. I met two people that I still talk to (though who knows how often you talk to the people you meet on the first week). Their names are Tulsi and Nora. He is from Pakistan and she is from Canada. One of my clients has also introduced me to his niece, Diya, who I enjoy as well. We’ve had lunches, brunches, movies, dinners, improv show and gone to an outdoor yarn-bridge art exhibit thing.
    2013-08-25 16.50.31
  3. I also met everyone in my program. In the incoming class of design students, there are 15 of us. Seven in my specific program, and eight in the Interaction Design program, who we have many of our classes with.
  4. I have had all but one of my classes so far.
  5. I am TA-ing a class of master’s students.

Ok, so those are the facts.

My teachers are impressive, personable, and passionate. The more I learn about the program the more I am confident I am in the program that I want to be in and that will really feed my interests. I, however, am not actually confident in my ability to succeed and this self-doubt is not fun. I feel like no one shares my anxiety or they’re not forth-coming with sharing it even if I bring it up first. Is it really just me? I feel like I’m dumbest person in class most of the time.

I feel like there’s not growing out of being the quiet one that everyone thinks is mean. I also don’t feel connected to of the other students. I know we just met, but there’s not that instantaneous “lets be friends” thing that happens every now and then. It makes me kind of dread the the year and then the year after that. Everyone wants to feel like they belong to a group and I have to wait and be patient and remember that I’m a difficult person to meet at first.

Some of them I’m not even sure I want to be friends with. You know what I mean. I think maybe it’s this stressful time when everyone is trying to impress everyone else or maybe I am just hyper-aware to the point of mis-diagnoses of potentially annoying behavior (definitely the latter, if use historical evidence).

I’m just a little worried, I think, in general about how the year is going to look. Something feels a little off to me. I don’t like Pittsburgh that well and with out the support of friends it’s hard to for the days to go smoothly either. Especially when all the bother of life keeps getting splattered in my face and I feel like I’m constantly cleaning up messes.

I don’t know…maybe I’m just sad about a lot of things and I’m waiting for the cloud to leave my vision.

On the other hand, I can’t believe I got into Carnegie Mellon. I keep spontaneously remember that it was my top choice and the more I get into the meat of classes the more I feel so fortunate that I’m here. But also—Why did they let me in?!  They only let seven people in and then chose ME? Everyone else I’ve heard talks about the school with a shrug and indifference. It wasn’t their top school, but it was  a school, so they decided to go. And I’m like “WHAT?!”

It’s things like that that make me feel like I can’t relate to the other students. Like, I went to an inexpensive undergraduate state university in a barely-populated state after going to a public high school. (I remember at my first orientation I had dinner with three girls who all happened to have gone to private schools their whole life). I remember feeling embarrassed telling people that CMU was my dream school. Like there would be that pause in their eyes as they thought “Aww, poor deluded girl.” For one exercise we had to write down our proudest moments in life and for one of them I wrote down getting accepted into CMU and I think (think) I was the only one that said that. Am I supposed to be playing it cool or does no one else care?

I was also the only one that explicitly said my I was most nervous about doing poorly here.

Those are my thoughts so far: that I don’t fit in, but that I belong.

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I don’t think anyone looks at this anymore, I know I haven’t for months. I feel this need though to write, to just type. Making my own blog seems like too much effort, and I like the idea (even if it is just an illusion) that I am directing these words to specific people. So hi, friends.

I keep having those, “my life is surreal” type of moments. The last couple of  months have been so strange. This by far has been the biggest change/adventure yet. I moved to Brooklyn alone. I ‘ve been living with two strangers, and I don’t think I have ever been this alone or subjected to such drastic change ever before (haha subjected makes it sound like I had no say in this, Katie this was your doing). Post school life is peculiar. It feels far more foreign to me than living in a foreign country felt. I went though a bout of sadness, feeling lonely here, but that’s faded and now I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the time that I have had thus far with just me. Everyone should do this. I feel so aware of what makes me happy, what I want, and what I am going to do to get it. I feel incredibly independent and more importantly capable. I feel so appreciative of the amazing people in my life who I am able to count as friends. Things are about to change again. I will have an apartment with two friends who know me very well, and I’m sure our time will be filled with an agenda full of theatre, silliness, and new people. I am very much looking forward to it, and I am already longing for and romanticizing my time of solitude in a city full of people.

I don’t know if I will write again. I hope I feel compelled to, I hope I don’t forget.

I think I’m going to see you guys in a couple of days, and I am sure you will indulge me by having this conversation in person with me. Thank you in advance : )

Katie

For the past few months there was something we weren’t allowed to do in Unitarian Church. Considering all of the things that UUs are tolerant of—if not whole-heartedly accepting and celebratory of–it was extremely amusing to me that we discouraged from…clapping. The week before the first service I attended, apparently there had been a complaint that the clapping was distracting. Surely the complainer was not representative of the whole, joyful body of patrons, but being the accommodating organization the church is, the leaders of the congregation encourage us to show our approval in some other, quiet way. Jazz hands or hand rubbing were suggested. It seemed a little ridiculous to me that out of all the churches in the world, this 100% progressive church would have to put a red mark next to “clapping” in it’s ledger. Seriously, never have I been around so many beautifully-hearted people.

(Matt and I had suspicion that it was one of the older ladies because, inevitably, a few people would forget and joyfully offer up an applause and once we saw this lady whip around and stare at the vanguard hands with Stearn Grandma eyes.)

From my observation, it is not in the UU’s nature to repress any expression of love or pleasure. And while the hand-rubbing/jazz hand mix would dominate most of the service, clapping would sprout up like weeds among the audience members after particularly moving moments. Every time this happened I would involuntarily feel like a member of a small revolution of Joy. Like “Haha! We clap in the face of anti-clappers! *CLAP* *CLAP*” I’ll never be the one to incite the clapping, but when it gets started I can always be counted on to give a lusty applause.

Now, as time has increased between the initial banishment, clapping has become nearly a standard in our services (usually towards the end once emotional momentum has built up) reserved for deep appreciation for what’s been said or done. For example, the first time Matt did a solo. Or when one of the members spoke about her experience as lesbian. Or a touching story about family dynamics, and dealing with then problem therein. And so on. But basically no a service goes by where there isn’t something incredibly powerful said or done.

Today was a particular treat. The new Denver poetry slam team, Slam Nuba (last year’s winners at the national poetry slam competition) performed for us. The collective talent of the group is incredible and it was such a privilege to bare witness to each of their stories as they poured their souls out to us. I can’t imagine being able to turn such a vulnerable moment into taking a strong command over all of us as audience members. They were so fantastic. Many poems discussing the struggles with their race, one about being a single father…being a new mother…being abused as a child…a poem from two of the teachers about the one student that makes it—through a trouble home, foster care, and day after day of hiding in the bushes. These people were giving so much of themselves to us and not to present them with anything other than our unrestrained support, acknowledgement, and appreciate for their poems would have been wrong.

Needless to say we all clapped heartily, towards the end, giving many standing ovations. Many of the other members, not being as cold hearted as myself, were tearful during the majority of the service. In fact, I think the entire slam team was misty-eyed as well.

Via la clapping!

 

Always giving you my applause,

Jacklynn

  1. Leave more than you take.
  2. Honesty is beautiful. (“Everyone who is honest is interesting” – Sagmeister)
  3. Eccentric people are usually the most brilliant. I admire eccentricity.
  4. My favorite smile is an involuntary one.
  5. Joy outweighs pain.
  6. I’d rather be challenged than comfortable.
  7. You can’t wait for the future.
  8. People don’t think about you as much as you think. Don’t worry about it.
  9. Growing up is for trees.
  10. Music & concerts.
  11. Understanding is a wonderful present.
  12. Taking a chance is easier than you think.
  13. There is still an incredible amount of talent, creativity, and knowledge to learn from one another. (Having internet doesn’t hurt either).
  14. If you’re going to get lost, do it in a book.
  15. Making friends is harder now than it was in kindergarten (disregard if you’re currently in kindergarten).
  16. Patience. It will be worth the wait, I’m sure of it.
  17. I have an enormous capacity for real dialogue, I am incredibly burdened by small talk.
  18. Enthusiasm is valuable.
  19. Doing things outside my comfort zone, even when I have disliked it, has always been worth it.
  20. If a clock gets hungry, it goes back four seconds.

i believe in believing in things. i can’t wait to see you all again.

(inspired by Stefan Sagmeister)

Love, Jacklynn

Bob Darling,

I do not know how to contact you. I have tried your email to no avail so now I am doing desperate things like say….this. I am going to be visiting a dear friend of mine, Magdalena, in Alicante and I would hate to be in Spain again and not have the opportunity to see you and be a one minute spy on your new and, I am sure, utterly fabulous life. I adore you the ever elusive Bob. I am searching for you. And know you are always welcome here. There is a bottle of wine and a beach towel with your name on it. Des grandes bises cherie.

Your friend who is waving at you out her window because we are practically neighbors,

Sarah

…voluntarily.

Probably the least churchy, but-definitely-a-church church I’ve gone to. It was pretty ridiculous. Matt sings in the choir for a Unitarian Universalist church a couple of blocks down from us and he invited me to come to service with him this Sunday. I agreed because I was pretty sure that UU was the kind of church that whose official stance was “or whatever” and because Matt had given such a compelling review of his experience.

I walked down the street with Matt not really sure what to expect. I half assumed it would be wildly contemporary and there would just be a bunch of rugged, athletic-looking Denverites with their babies kangaroo-pouched to their chests and snowboards on under their arm so the moment the service was over they could jet pack to the nearest mountain and “shred” down it. You know. That. But also that they were just the kind group of generous people who furrowed their brows when they hear something sad.

When we finally walked into the grey-brick building, we went to a table to receive name tags. I have an automatic aversion to non-business related name tags because it usually means that I’ll have to meet other people and smile politely. It was a signal that this was indeed a friendly group of people–which was the case, at the beginning of the service we had to meet the people around us. What was not typical, however, was that after receiving our name tag the cardigan-clad, middle-aged lady wanted to remind us about the showing of “Papers” upstairs after the service. It’s a documentary about immigration injustice that their Unitarian Immigration Justice Circle had selected. There would be pizza. What?! Where was I? What kind of church was I in? Documentaries? Immigration reform?! These thoughts were buzzing in my head as we made our way to the chapel. It also made me excited. Matt had told me that their January topic is “peace,” had talked about the war, had a really great reading from a Holocaust victim, and that, basically, it was a really intellectual and enlightening sermon.

The chapel looked similar to the catholic chapels I am oh-so familiar with. There were chairs with hymn books, an alter with candles, banners along the side with slogans like “salvation in our life time” and “there is a unity that makes us one.” Missing from my mental picture of what a church should look like were: a man dying and people in bedsheets frowning at me (oh, to be raised Catholic).

Let me say this honestly, I was made a bit uncomfortable by the remnants of church around me. Not that I have any ill-will with those who are religious or religion in general, but I also don’t have any pleasant personal association with it myself. The banners made me feel like I was in a building where emotions were going to be talked about…words like “worship” and “prayer” were the little Order of Service pamphlets that were on placed on our seats…these uncomfortable, resistant feelings came despite myself. There was that edge of reluctance and that wall or cynicism that my liberal ideologies were fighting against in that place. Which isn’t fair, I know it. Out of all my friends, I think I behave the most conservatively, but…I don’t know, that’s just me and I’ve always been in the party of “do what you want.”

So how was it you asked? Very mixed. It felt strange to me, like, I could not help but laugh at some parts and I just know that, if Carissa was there beside me,  I could have made her repress-giggle her pants off at shared side-long glances at things that were happening. At the same time, the lectures and poems were so inspiring I wanted to scribble down notes.

1. In conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tomorrow, our sermon dealt with immigration reform and racial injustice

2. Our opening Hymn, Spirit of Life,  was sang in English and Spanish

3. During a “Time of All Ages” session, when they call all the children up to introduce them to what they’ll be learning in Sunday school before they are sent off, an old couple read to them out of an Amnesty International picture book called We Are All Freea book celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“What if you you went home and your mom wasn’t there?” they introduced the topic, “Or your father? Your brother? Your sister? What if one of your friends just disappeared?” Amnesty. International. In church. Whoa. They are barely even welcome on UW’s campus.

4.  A reading of a poem called “Exiles” by Juan Felipe Herrera.

5. “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Catos)” by Woody Guthrie as an interlude sung by, what else: an older gentlemen with a guitar strapped ’round him and jowls that shook with compassion as he sang. Our little agendas had an insert with the chorus for us to sing along to and a brief synopsis of the event that inspired the song.

Thoughts? It was all very strange to me. At this point I was pretty amused, but not in a belittling way–I hadn’t worked out how I should feel yet. At the same time, I felt like I had learned a lot, and was struggling to take notes on all the names and thoughts I heard. The sermon that came next was really spectacular. Although she is still a ministerial internal, she was phenomenal. She was so well-spoken and gave a really compelling lecture encompassing Martin Luther King, Jr., immigration, social inequality, and racial injustice. She was passionate and so sincere in her outrage and her call for us change and inspire change that I think everyone shared her outrage, but also felt guilty that they hadn’t thought about what she was saying before. There were statistics. People let out church murmurs of outrage and sympathy and surprise…I honestly felt like I was at an academic lecture. Not that needs to be said to justify it’s worth otherwise, just telling you how I felt. I felt like a student again.

During the lecture she read this poem by Carl Wendell Hines that I thought was really wonderful, in a tragic way:

Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Build monuments to his glory.
Sing Hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient Heroes.
They cannot rise to challenge the images
We would fashion from their Lives.
It is easier to build monuments
Than to make a better world.

So now that he is safely dead,
We, with eased consciences, will
Teach our children that he was a great man,
Knowing that the cause for which he
Lived is still a cause
And the dream for which he died
Is still a dream.

After the some closing ceremonial stuff, we were lead out with the song Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, which our pastor told us is considered the black anthem, and she was tearing up while singing it.

What do you think? The verdict is still out for me. I want to go again next week and see Matt sing (they only have a choir every other week). While at the same time I thought it was wholly interesting, not sure that I’m much of a church-going gal. These are hang-ups, I know. I like to be involved in stuff…I’m just going to ride it out, see what happens after next week. I mean, I could really be part of community if I wanted to, they have all these hip, contemporary outside activities like yoga, cooking classes, and karate in additional to choir practices, women’s circles, and “Hope Not Dope” events.

Well wishing from the ‘Mericas,

Jacklynn

Dear ladies,

I’m sending you all my love from Spain here in this post. Sarah, I’m really worried about you. I don’t know if I have your e-mail address, but if you send it to me, I’ll send you more personalized love. For now, just know that you’re going to be okay, that you are a wonderful person just the way you are, and that any guy who doesn’t know he wants to be with you doesn’t deserve you anyway. It’s really, really true. My heart is with you. How can I help?

Oh. *Sigh* Jacklynn, I miss you. I didn’t realize what a pleasure it was to see you almost every day in Chaucer and in other random places. You have always treated me so well. Thank you for everything from your food to your friendship. You’re so beautiful.

I miss you all. Katie, thanks for always listening so well to me and for making my heart leap with joy. Carissa, thank you for listening to me with a smile and for being an example of how to be a beautiful, poised, perfect person. What amazing ladies you all are.

Everything is really good here. I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like there is too much in life. How do you go about picking what you want? This is not a grave problem. It’s actually a really cool problem to have. Life is too good. It’s too rich. There are too many cool fields of study, too many great jobs, too many brilliant and inspirational people. How does a 22-year-old go about picking?

Right now I either want to be a personal trainer, an organic gardener, a historian, a linguist, or an entrepreneur. So I think I’ve got things pretty slimmed down, don’t you think? Bleh. I feel like in 57 lifetimes I still couldn’t do and see all I want to do and see. Does anyone else have this problem?

I miss you all.

I’m hesitant to post my number 18, but to be fair most of my posts have been short because 1) I’m in America and you guys know what that’s all about 2) I pretty much tell you guys everything.

I mean, I could tell you how the food here is so different (mainly consisting of Susan’s diet food) and the unique culture here (the traditional garb of the land is athletic clothing and a smug look). But, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

So anyway, I’m going to tell you everything. Don’t hold your breath. (This post will definitely detour people of the regular public)

First of all, I’m pretty sure you guys only have a vague idea of what I do besides take pictures of myself in my tiny office on photobooth and posting them on here every now and then. So, at my full-time job my official title is Creative Community Lead  and as I attempt to describe to people passing through the building: I manage the company’s social media, marketing, communication, and design work. I also support the company by helping them source new talent and a develop/refine company programs. Basically, I do what I naturally do anyway and they give me a multitude of random, different projects which I slavishly devote myself too. I really like it. It’s challenging, fun, and there’s a lot of variety.

So, if you wanted to know what working in the working-worky-work world is like, here goes: I wake up and get ready for work and it takes me a monstrously long time not because of anyone thing, but because I’m so ponderous in the morning–It doesn’t actually take me that long to get ready, even if I dress up, even if I curl my hair. I just linger a lot. Something you fashionistas would appreciate is that I get to dress up every single day. Not in business clothes, but in whatever I want, and you know that it’s never casual because that’s not my deal. It’s fun. I’ve worked their for two months and haven’t worn the same outfit twice yet. Which actually might be a little disgusting to lay persons.

Anyway, so I commute to work around 8:15 because any earlier and traffic would be horrible. I’ve tried. I arrive around 9am and see if Mustard is still alive. Get set up, have a 15 minute meeting (daily “stand up” according to “SCRUM” managerial style) and pitter off to work on the little projects I’ve been assigned. At 10:30 I am usually starving, but I maintain until it’s  appropriate to eat at noon. At which time I pad upstairs to the kitchen area to eat and work some more. I force myself to go upstairs in order to meet other people and it’s working. Except now I’ve decided to use my lunch break to do work for other companies I’m freelancing for.

>> Since last I spoke in detail, I described my three new, Colorado jobs. Let me tell you right now that those aren’t my only jobs and that I have recently aquired even more freelance work. To date, in addition to this full-time job, I am also a design consultant for four other companies and a graphic design intern for the LoDo District. Straws are piling on camel’s backs, Carissa, needles too.

After lunch, the day goes by much faster. Possibly because I’m not desperately waiting for lunch. So I finish of the day. Trudge home. Eat diet meals with Susan. And either work some more or be incredibly unproductive whiling away the hours in front of my computer. Even though I always have the best intentions to go to bed early, I usually don’t and only get 6-5 hours of sleep.

Since I’m usually too exhausted during the week and also because I only have the smallest puddle of friends, I usually only do things on the weekend.

That that’s “Oh the places I go” and now here’s “and the people you’ll meet”:

Matt. I adore him. You know the one I’m talking about? The strikingly handsome fellow I met at Tour de Fat? Afraid of whales? We share a certain sense of humor and I think he’s trying to adopt me as his little protégé. He claims that he use to be exactly like me two years ago (nervous, perfectionist, stressed, push-over, hyper over-achiever…) and that I can reform! Like many people I admire, I am terribly frightened that he’ll realize how much cooler he is than me and drop me like a hot potato. But he has tentatively agreed to be my roommate when his lease is up in February so I kind of think he’s stuck with me.

Matt. In disguise.

Kyle. I met Kyle and his friend Hugh on one of my arranged blind friend-dates. I had a good feeling about Kyle because, while trying to arrange a meet-up, we exchanged a bunch of messages where it was clear that he was interesting and smart enough to be witty. As in, we could actually tell obscurely-referenced-jokes to each other. (I’m sure he’d be chagrined to read this…). Anyway, it’s really nice to talk to Kyle because he’s actually my age and is actually going through the strange limbo that I’m going through. The post-graduation-what’s-happening-where-did-everyone-go? phase. The day we all met up we went out to eat at a Thai place, went to an odd event at the Denver’s modern art museum, and capped off the evening by going to party where we all felt distinctly out-of-place. I feel like Kyle gets me.

Kyle & Hugh

Matthew & Crystal. The adorable couple. This is the other Matt I met at Tour de Fat and his lovely wife. They are both great fun to hang out with, especially with the more exciting Matt as a buffer. Funny, energetic, and interesting. Unlike many other couples you meet: great together, great individually.

Matthew & Crystal

The people at work. I’ve met a myriad of people at work that I admire deeply. I work in a building that is rented out by different companies so that we can all kind of work together in a creative community. All of the companies in the building are extremely unique and cool—-many very successful start-ups. They mostly center around action sports, if not directly, at the very least all of the employees of the company happen to have been born on snowboard with skis for arms. Or something similar. I don’t think I’ve really connected with anyone in the same, effortless (“effortless”) manner that I have with people I’ve met outside of work. They are all super nice and I would love to be their friend, but I also feel like they don’t know what to do with me. Kind of like Sarah at Applebee’s. If everyone at Applebee’s was into action sports and being cool. I really feel like the people at work are the essence of Colorado: Kind, generous, wildly cool, social, chill, and athletic. I love Colorado, I really do. I feel like I understand Colorado and am super excited for the day I get my dorky license plate. But I don’t think Colorado gets me. I’m ok with it though, it’ll just take some time on both sides. I think they are all astoundingly wonderful, ambitious people I feel privileged to work with.

And one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve hardly met anyone my own age. I felt a lot of internal pressure to graduate on time, but since graduating late is really the norm now, I’m kind of in the world looking around and no one else like me is here. I don’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand, I don’t feel like I have time to act like a college kid anymore. On the other hand, I didn’t have time when I was actually in college so: BRING IT ON. I want to go on adventures! I want people to call me up out of the blue and say likes go to X and do Y right now! I want you guys! I’m going to try to take adventure into my own hands, by I miss having my go-to friends for a great time.

This embarrassing, but hilarious photo of me being sad.

But the world’s gotta know what you have to give :). Have the best of times out there!

ok ok ok, I’m done. Guess how many words!? 1429. That’s an essay, yo.

Tone deaf,
Jacklynn

I hope this cheers everyone up.

Your musically challenged friend,
Jacklynn