City Year Blog Post

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog! I haven’t forgotten about you, readers. I’ve actually thought about writing many many times since I accepted this Americorps job last August. City Year has actually taken over my life. I work ten hours a day (and then some) and barely have time to shower and eat dinner before collapsing in bed every night. I promise I will post some past reflections and bring you up to date on my life soon! In the meantime, I wrote a blog post for the City Year blog so you can get a taste for what I’m doing with my life this year.

What’s the Goal — Students First

Enjoy!

Beck

 

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Happy New Year!

happy_new_2015

It’s 2015! It’s been one year since I’ve started this blog! Although I haven’t posted every week, I think it’s been a good record of 2014. I’m excited to see what 2015 brings me and my family. I’m looking forward to seeing my sister Rachel again and Sarah and Andrew’s wedding in June! In the spirit of new beginnings, I, like most people, have some resolutions goals that I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Get a better job.

I may have just gotten a raise (a whole 50 cents), but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m working at a job that doesn’t pertain to my future career. The transferable skills I’m learning are minimal at best. I need a job that will help me develop my administrative and training skills. I’m hoping to find something in Raleigh, but the FSU interview is still to come.

  1. Be smarter with my money.

I’m terrible with what little income I have. I saved close to zero dollars last year and spend WAY too much eating out, which isn’t healthy either. I need to save for graduate school and for Sarah’s wedding, not to mention my car needs some work done. I think a mechanic said something about my breaks two years ago…oops. Not only will being wiser with my money help me in the future, when I have actual bills, but help me learn self-discipline, which is arguably my greatest life struggle.

  1. Work towards a healthier lifestyle.

This goal includes me getting health insurance, losing weight and eating healthier. I’ve been without health coverage for about four years. The Affordable Care Act didn’t really make health care affordable for me either. But, it would be really nice if I could develop a relationship with a doctor that can help me take preventative measures so I don’t get diabetes or hypothyroidism (which runs in my family). Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is part of this, which is why I didn’t wait until January to join a gym.

  1. Continue my education.

You all know that I’ve applied to graduate school. Things are looking good in that direction and I hope to enter a program in the fall. What you probably don’t know is that I hardly ever read anything other than novels, unless I’m doing research. Many of my friends read literature that is more informative or analytic and written for the masses. “The World is Flat” and “Freakonomics” are two popular examples of this genre. I want to read more of this kind of literature because it will help me continue my informal education and allow me to explore some of my interests separate from novels. I won’t say it won’t be difficult, but I am excited to check off some of these books I’ve wanted to read for years.

Those are my big four and I’ve already started working towards all of them, except maybe the money thing. #retailtherapy. I do have some other smaller goals like joining a church, writing more fiction and taking violin lessons but that’s mostly creative.

Want to see my book list for this year? :)

JAN        How to Read a Book by Mortimer J Adler

FEB        Meet the Real Jesus by John Blanchard

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

MAR       Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

APR       Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett

MAY      Toxic Charity by Robert D Lupton

That the World May Know by James Dawes

JUNE     35 Dumb Things Well-Intentioned People Say by Maura Cullen

Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M Steele

JULY     Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum

AUG      Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

SEP      The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson

OCT      The Book Nobody Read by Owen Gingerich

NOV      How to Read Lit by Thomas Foster

DEC      Catch up month! You know I’m going to need one.

What are your goals for 2015? Whatever they are, good luck! :)

Cheers,
Beck

November in 800 Words or Less

Where have I been all November?

Happy Halloween! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

I’ve thought about writing many times this month, but haven’t made the time to do it, partially because I’ve been busy and partially because I’ve been lazy. Getting used to a new work routine that changes every week has not been fun. I do enjoy some things about my job, but I don’t get to do those things very often. I really want to find a better job that will pay me more than minimum wage.

To celebrate my birthday, my sister and best friend went out to dinner and drank wine. I got Caged, which was hilarious. This was followed later that week with a family dinner that was surprisingly pleasant. No one was fighting or drunk, there was an ice cream cake. Success.

Capture

On the 19th, I spoke at a Faces of Homelessness panel at Elon, my alma mater. I met with the other speakers and some current students for dinner before the panel. One formerly homeless man asked me how many times I had spoken and he looked shocked when I said this was my first time. Then I learned the event was being filmed. I suddenly grew really nervous. I didn’t really know what I was going to say. I had printed out the Pendulum article I wrote in the spring and the blog entries I wrote as well, which I thought would help. The truth is I have often doubted whether what I went through was actually homelessness or something else. One of my former professors blatantly told me I had no right to use that term, so speaking about my experience on a panel about homelessness made me feel a bit like a fake. Hearing the stories of the other speakers made me think what I had gone through was not really that intense or tragic, even if it felt that way to me at the time.

When it was my turn, I started with something about invisible homeless and then spoke about what and how it happened last year. I honestly don’t remember what I said afterwards. It was so difficult to say those things in front of my peers, some of which I had classes with last fall. Did I mention the room was packed? People were sitting all around on the floor and near the door. I didn’t know where to look. I finished by saying that what I went through was only a fraction of what the other speakers had been through and could only imagine how much more difficult it would have been had it not been for my friends and church.

There was a short question and answer session after we shared. I was asked what the school said when I told them. I answered by telling her that there wasn’t anything they really could have done but that was an area of improvement for the school.  Another person asked me what kept me going through the experience. I told her that I was plain stubborn and knew that if I didn’t push through, I wouldn’t have graduated. I also mentioned that my faith in Christ was a huge source of hope and comfort as well as solution for my situation.

After the event was over, people came up to me and shook my hand thanking me for sharing. One guy kept saying how “gusty” it was for me to talk about that in front of my classmates “especially at Elon”. The wife of Elon’s president also spoke to me and said she remembered reading my article in the spring and wished me luck in the future. One student gave me a hug and said that my story moved his friends deeply, even though he had dragged them to the event and they had previously made fun of homeless people. It was so reassuring hearing things like that from the audience. I could tell a lot of them were close to tears, although I can’t claim credit for that. This has given me the courage to claim my experience and speak at further events about homelessness.

I haven’t had the courage to watch the video yet, but I believe there is a video in this Pendulum article.

There are two more things I want to mention in this post. (1) Starting a diet and workout regime during Thanksgiving week is probably the worst week of the year to start anything requiring physical activity and calorie counting. #getswole (2) I APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOL!!! I should begin to hear back from schools mid-December. Let us pray.

Beck

PS: My friend and future brother-in-law, Andrew, started a blog this month. Check it out y’all. He’s super well-read…like, better than me. #jealous

How to Talk to Guys 101

Oh my goodness, I don’t know where to start with this blog post. I was debating with myself about whether or not I should mention my latest adventure…it may be too soon to call it. (You can decide for yourself after reading.)

I sort of met someone.

There is a sentence I didn’t think I would be writing this year let alone this week. I say “sort of” because nothing has come of it yet, but numbers have been exchanged. Omg, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no reference book for interacting with guys. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

This weekend my best friend from high school came to visit me at school. There was a party at The Bar near campus and we decided to go. After sharing a bottle of wine in my car (parked of course), we decided to go ahead in, even though it was pretty early. On the way in, a guy I met last time I was at The Bar tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I knew you’d come back.” I honestly can’t remember what I said in reply. I think I smiled. Last month when I was leaving The Bar, he introduced himself to me and kept saying, “I really hope I see you again.” By the way, he’s a bouncer at the club.

Later while I was paying for drinks, he came up to me again and starting talking to me. I was trying to be friendly. I promise I wasn’t drunk, but I don’t remember much. I was too nervous. The only question I could think to ask him was “Do you live around here?” which is probably the most generic question that you only hear in movies right before a guy strikes out. I decided to leave the bar before it got too awkward, which I kind of regret now, but my friend was waiting anyway.

After dancing for a few hours, we decided to call it a night. Here’s where I get out of character. He came up to me to say goodbye and came in for an awkward side hug. I can’t believe I did this, but I leaned in and said, “When are you gonna ask me for my number?”
“Right now” he replied and smiled. I can’t believe I said that to him, but really, it’s not like I didn’t know he was interested.

So…I gave out my number for the first time this weekend. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wish there was a class I could take to teach me how to talk to guys. -_-;

Help!
Beck

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