Duke TIP 2015

Lido Beach

Lido Beach

After the horror of last summer working with Duke Summer Session, (Duke Sucky Session more like), I was more than a little apprehensive about my position as Program Assistant for Duke TIP Field Studies in Florida. After a few flights, and having to navigate through the Atlanta International Airport, I finally landed in Sarasota. I tried not to have high expectations in terms of how enjoyable this experience would be. I told myself I could have an overbearing supervisor, gossiping coworkers, and terribly behaved students. “You’re here to work, not make friends. Do your job.” I told myself for the first few days. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor and coworkers turned out to be genuinely nice people, each with their own strengths and interests that served the program well. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be a part of a functioning, albeit sometimes chaotically functioning, team who didn’t place blame on others, but worked together to solve problems. After the first week, I stopped bracing myself against the potential negative job politics and really started to make friends and figure out what on earth my position was.

Our dance theme was something about sand and beaches obviously.

My position was new and very flexible; we were basically making it up as we went along. I was used to being an administrator, making decisions, and doing everything myself. It was difficult at first to transition to being an assistant. A lot of what I did as the assistant assigned to residence life was programming and supplies runs. Even though I didn’t have a set list of tasks every day, there was always something I could do or help with. I got to go on a few really great field trips to aquariums and museums. We spotted wild dolphins and manatees and counted turtle nests. We even went for a boat ride on the Sarastota Bay and caught (then released) some puffer fish. It was amazing and I actually learned a lot. Also, DISNEY WORLD EPCOT!

I had fun captioning Renaissance art at the Ringling Museum.

at EPCOT with some staff! Man, that was a long day; my feet are still aching.

I really enjoyed attending and running programs as well. We had field day complete with an epic water balloon fight, a dance, and a kickball tournament. One of the first programs I helped with was painting, which was really fun because so many of our students are very talented artists. One student painted the Waffle House sign because “it inspired him”. I called him “waffle house” for the duration of the program. I still don’t know what his real name was. I also did some henna tattoos for students and staff, which was really fun and a great opportunity to get some practice.

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own "TIPsters"

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own “TIPsters”

fun henna tattoos!

fun henna tattoos!

I had a couple days off and had the chance to go to Siesta Key beach, which is the number one beach in the USA. It was super crowded, but the water was perfect and we had frozen daiquiris! #treatyoself2015 Such a great day.

at Siesta Key!

at Siesta Key!

On the last night after the students left, most of the staff went down to Lido Beach and had a few beers. It was so much fun hanging out and talking without any program responsibilities left. Well, I think I had one too many beers because I had the brilliant idea of skinny dipping in the ocean after it got dark. I didn’t think to bring my swimsuit, so I ran into the waves with my shorts and bra on. It was so ridiculously fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I got back on shore, and finally found my shirt, I reached into the back pocket of my soaked denim jeans and found my brand new iPhone 6 chillin’ in its “life proof” case. Yeah, it has never recovered, even after two days in rice. So now I’m using my four year old iPhone 4 that has a stylish cracked screen and a whopping 8GB of zero space until I get paid later this month. #mylifeisbeck Did I mention my debt card AND my license was also lost at sea? I was seriously off the grid for a few days. I didn’t know how I was going to get on my flights back home the next day without my ID. It felt like the start of a really good urban adventure novel. If it wasn’t for my new friends asking questions and letting me borrow their phones, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get home safely.

Duke TIP family!

Duke TIP family!

I’m still waiting for my duplicate license, so I’ve been stuck at home all week and just returned to my day job at Starbucks today. Lucky for me, I have this handsome feline to keep me company all day.

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with Gigi?

How can you not fall in love with Gigi?

I’m definitely applying for Duke TIP next year.

Beck

NC State HEA Recruitment Weekend 2015

This past weekend, I was chillin at NC State for their Higher Ed Administration Recruitment Weekend. Thursday afternoon found me wandering around the new senior apartments, student union, and ginormous campus. We took photos with the mascots, which was cute, although I’m extra shiny in mine since we’d just gotten back from the campus tour. During dinner we chatted with current students and professors and introduced ourselves. It was really awesome how quickly everyone became friends. There weren’t any clicks, people just talked and got to know each other all weekend. I can honestly say I didn’t meet anyone I didn’t like, or didn’t think I could be friends with. Towards the end of the program, we got sad that not all of us would be there in the fall. I did hear a lot of people say that NC State was in their top choices though, so maybe we will. :)

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Friday was interview day, so we were all looking sharp and snazzy trying to get graduate assistantships. I only had three interviews (chosen with a mutual matching process). This stressed me out a lot because I thought we would have at least five or more, some people did anyway. My first interview was for a Housing Director position on NC State’s campus, which I think everyone interviewed for. I think it went really well because I was able to draw on my experience as Dean of Residence Life at Duke last summer. That craziness was worth it if it lands me this assistantship (it’s basically a free ride)! My second interview was for Duke Housing, but instead of a housing director I would basically be doing recruitment and hiring as well as managing their summer transition programs. I wouldn’t mind this assistantship, but the compensation is lousy. My third interview was also at Duke in their Center for Activities and Events. I believe I would be working with mostly students trying to start new programs/develop groups, etc. I mean, it’s a job, but again the compensation isn’t the best.

Friday was also when I had a chance to have an “academic discussion” with a faculty member; it was essentially an admissions interview. She asked me what my proudest moment of my undergrad career was and I talked about how I “crashed” my senior year and recovered from that failure to achieve the Dean’s list the semester I graduated. #likeaboss She also asked me why I wanted to attend NC State. That was easy. Two words: social justice. NC State is all about bringing in the social justice aspect of higher education, which is really important to me since I want to go into college access. They also teach with a focus on theory into practice, which is what the Elon School of Ed emphasized as well. Overall, I think my discussion went well; she nodded a lot and told me I had good answers. Yay!

photo (1)

That night I found out I didn’t have any second round interviews (for NC State or Duke) via formal rejection letters. Ouch. Not getting a second interview can mean one of two things; 1) I have already been chosen as a candidate for the assistantship, or 2) I have been placed on the waitlist or been rejected as a candidate for the assistantship in question. I was especially disappointed not to get a second interview for the NC State housing job. I have qualifications and skills coming out the wazoo here. What’s going on?! My brain, in an effort to protect itself from the pain of rejection, has been switching frequently between options 1 and 2. Of course, there is option 3, which is to find a completely different assistantship before school starts, but that leaves an even bigger question mark in the air and my brain doesn’t like that either.

Recruitment weekend ended after closing remarks Saturday morning. Rather anticlimactically, I went to work almost right afterwards. It was nice being around like-minded people my age for a while this weekend. I almost felt like my college-self again, the independent, work-oriented, intelligent Becky. Instead of my college-graduate-self, the dependent, focused on everyday maintenance, manual-labor-working Becky.

Let’s hope I hear a positive response from NC State in March!

Beck

A Weekend to Remember

This past weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It was my sister Sarah’s 25th birthday so everything we did was to celebrate! I decorated her door, bought her flowers, wine, and gift of course. We started that Friday with a plateful of French toast with blueberry compote and mimosas. After working out and getting dolled up, we went to the mall for manicures. It was so nice to relax! Since Nordstorm Rack is one of our favorite stores, we decided to go there next. We both found a pair of amazing shoes; mine are brown and black pointed flats. Fabulous. We also stopped by Ulta so Sarah could get her free birthday gift. Hello eye compact!

Dinner was at The Melting Pot in Raleigh. We came in with mixed feelings since none of us had ever been to a fondue restaurant before. We were absolutely horrified at the prices. The “food” (fancy cheese dip with veggies and bread) was good, especially the chocolate dessert fondue, but we felt a little weird afterwards, like we just had appetizers then left. I think I might go back for dessert one day, but definitely not for a meal.

Saturday evening was also really fun. We went to a Laotian restaurant called Bida Manda. It was absolutely fantastic! Everything, including the décor and service, was tasty and satisfying. I had the pork belly soup and it’s the only soup I want for the rest of my life. SO DELICIOUS. We also tried some fun cocktails. Seriously, if you live in Raleigh you NEED to go to this restaurant asap.

Like the party animals we are, we found a cool Asian-themed club called Zinda. They played a lot of dubstep remixes, but they were actually really good for dancing. After getting drinks and dancing for a while, a guy invited us into the VIP section. You heard me, VIP bitches!!!

Turns out it was a guy named John’s (Jean?) birthday too. He was really friendly and introduced us to all his friends. He wanted us to watch him dance a lot and told us he was a good dancer, which he was. Did I mention his green light up shoes? He was also celebrating his recent engagement. He had us read he and his fiancé’s story on his phone, and well, I don’t want to be mean but it seemed like they were moving a bit too fast. They said “I love you” to each other after knowing each other for only twelve hours. I don’t know how long they were dating afterwards, but I don’t imagine it to be for long. Again, I don’t know them, so maybe passing judgment on them is wrong, but come on, twelve hours!? They were really nice though, so we congratulated them.

The drama of the night happened right before we left. Apparently, the DJ’s booth was being bumped pretty roughly by some guy. After the third or fourth time, the DJ turned off the music and ran after the guy. The crowd was blocking our view so we couldn’t see if there were any punches being thrown or blood drawn, but it was pretty exciting anyway. I was kind of worried we were going to get sucked into a mob because everyone was really mad that the music had been turned off. Angry drunk people = mob.

Sunday was the complete opposite of Saturday, calm and relaxing. I knew we were starting our Whole30 that Monday, so I wanted to buy some organic vegetables and meat. We headed to the State Farmer’s Market with a grocery list filled with every vegetable under the sun. (First, we stopped for breakfast at the restaurant they have on site, also delicious!) I didn’t know where or how to start crossing thing off my list. I’ve never had to compare prices between vendors like that. Since I don’t exactly know how to pick the best/ripe/fresh fruit and vegetables yet, I was sort of experimenting and going with the flow. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I ended up enjoying it a lot! It’s such a different experience shopping in the open air then going to a standardized Walmart. I can go in and out of a Walmart without saying a word to anybody or making contact for that matter. But at the farmer’s market, you stop and ask the farmer about their produce and where they’re from. You can sometimes negotiate prices if you can tell something is going to go bad soon (although I’m not brave enough to do that yet). You can actually learn about where your food is coming from, which is a kind of relief after reading the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food. (Seriously, there’s a chapter in there like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). Most of all, you can develop a relationship with the farmer, butcher, etc. I don’t think anyone can say they have a “relationship” with Walmart. And knowing a story and source behind your food makes it much more satisfying in my opinion (though sometimes more expensive too). When I go back this weekend, I want to get Bison meat!

I’ll write more about my week soon. I’m at the end of day three of my Whole30 right now, so I am definitely feeling a change in my body. Stay tuned!

Beck

Birthday Bash: Buca di Beppo and Crave Dessert Bar

Since I celebrated my 23rd birthday this month, here’s a throwback to my 21st birthday celebration. :)

This is Charlotte

Congratulate me reader, I am now 21 years old. It was a long journey to get here, it took me more than 20 years, but I survived and now I reap the benefits of getting older. It truly is an accomplishment, but enough about how awesome I am for living so long, on to the reviews.

I rode the train into Charlotte a few hours before the birthday festivities began. It was the beginning of my Thanksgiving Break from school. I met my family, after much ado about getting ready, at Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant in Pineville, NC. This is a fairly popular restaurant in the Charlotte area so I won’t go into much detail. Suffice it to say that the food is delicious and the service is great. The atmosphere is cozy and the food is served family-style, which is one of the features that makes this restaurant…

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Blueberry and Toothpicks

The nature of blogging is very self-centered. “Everyone look at me and read what I have to say. It’s super interesting because it’s about me and I’m super interesting” said every blogger ever. To avoid the “I’m awesome” trap, I want to say something a little different; “Look at us and how interesting we are”. I want to share the stories of other people as well as my own because we all live interesting stories every day. With this in mind, I want to share a story my sister told me recently.

My sister’s work place has the makings of a perfect office sitcom. She works at the Academic Support Center at a local community college as a science tutor. The center includes tutoring services in math and science, a writing center, and a computer lab, each of which is overseen by a coordinator. The cast of characters includes such classics as the old racist white man, the sassy black woman and her posse, the loner who eats the same lunch every day, the foreigner, and the two young friends, who are the cool ones. (Guess which one my sister is.) Just think of all the funny situations these characters could get into, let alone the weirdo students who come in looking for help. I really want to write that sitcom.

One day, Mac, the loner who eats soup and crackers every day for lunch (he sometimes eats goldfish for variety), was given two beautiful blueberry muffins homemade by the baker of the office, Linda. Linda loves to bake and brings in goodies for her coworkers on occasion. But Mac made a fatal mistake. He left his blueberry muffins in a sealed container on the counter of the office kitchen without any label or friendly eye to watch over them. Will, the old racist, and Sarah were both in the kitchen for their lunch break soon afterwards.
“Want a muffin? They’re for everybody.” Will said.
“Are you sure? There’s only two.”
“Yeah. Why else would they be on the kitchen counter?” Will opens the container and begins to shove warm pieces of muffin into his racist mouth. Sarah eyes the second muffin and decides that Will must be right. The muffins looked too delicious for her to listen to the small voice in the back of her head that told her she may be about to commit muffin theft. “That muffin was delicious” she thought as she took her seat and waited for students to arrive. Meanwhile, Mac discovered his loss and decided to confront Will about the muffins. Will isn’t even sorry.
“You shouldn’t have left them on the counter, man. They were delicious.” He grins.
“Linda baked those for my birthday!” Mac said. Sarah listened on in horror and regret as the scene unfolded behind her table in the tutoring center. Her friend, Cara, heard this too and doesn’t let her forget her shame.
“I can’t believe you stole Mac’s birthday muffin, Blueberry.” She shook her head in mock disappointment and proceeded to email Sarah a collage of blueberry muffins for her enjoyment. Thus, Sarah got a snack and a nickname at the same time by stealing a muffin from a coworker. Poor Mac.

***

Cara likes to play pranks, especially on her guy friends that work in the building. One day, her pranks went a bit too far. While instant messaging through the staff network, Cara asked a friend to get her four menus and seventeen toothpicks from a local Chinese restaurant for a “project”. Her friend believes it is a prank, but Cara is so convincing and urgent that he decides to do her this favor anyway. Cara, distracted from her computer, doesn’t see his message until it’s too late to tell him she was joking. He proudly walks in to deliver his menus and toothpicks while Cara tries to think of a project that would require such odd ingredients. She even pretended that what he brought wasn’t enough and she would have to go back for more. To this day, she hasn’t told him it was a joke and told Sarah, “I will never use my powers of manipulation for evil ever again.” We’ll see Toothpicks, we’ll see.

Beck