Working Hard and Hardly Working

This past week has been productive and fun, a rare combination. I visited Charlotte for the first time since the spring last weekend! It was really nice to see home again; I only wish I could have seen my friends as well!

Oh! By the way, I got a job! It’s nothing fancy, just a barista position at a local Starbucks, but I really like my manager. I’ve only worked a few days doing online training and coffee tastings. I have to admit I’m really bad at coffee tasting. Without cream and sugar it just tastes like dirt, but of course I can’t say that to my manager so I’m making stuff up and guessing. Hopefully, I’ll get better at tasting the more subtle flavors of dirt in the coffees. I have to open tomorrow, which means an early morning. I will be up before the sun. Yayyyyy…

Last night, Sarah and I met some of her work friends at Natty Greene’s Brewery in Downtown Raleigh. It was really fun getting to know some of her friends. The beer was good too! I got the wildflower beer which was a lighter beer with citrus hints. We went for Thirsty Thursday though so there was a really long wait and lots of college babies around. haha

I just sent out my requests for letters of recommendation for graduate school. I’m slowly making progress on my list of steps to achieve greatness. I also took a practice GRE…at night…with no preparation at all so I could see where I am. My scores were actually somewhat expected; really good in verbal reasoning and really bad in quantitative reasoning. I’m definitely going to study the math portion extensively before taking the actual test in a few weeks.

Wish me luck!

Beck

The Final Report

I’ve kept strangely quiet about my summer job in a college after my first optimistic post. Every time I try to think over what happened, to make sense of the chaos and horror that was this summer, I come up empty. It’s almost as if I’ve repressed the memories to keep myself from going insane, but I need to write about it if I’m ever going to get over it. I’m still hurt and angry, and I’m afraid this post has an awful lot of complaining in it, but writing it all down has helped. As my sister says, writing is healing.

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Lessons Learned

The first thing I learned as Dean of Residence Life was that I was not ready for this job. I had just graduated, had no real job before, and was coming into an important administrative role with no prior experience to pull from. I did not know what it took to house and run a residence life program. I thought of myself as a lead RA because that’s what I understood. I did not have the skills, the attention to detail or the ability to keep up with the work load required for this job. A few days into the program, I found myself at my wits end and with nowhere to go but down. A week into the program, I made a mistake and was led to believe that all my coworkers resented me, and that I was a “whisper away from being fired”. I was quickly labeled as incompetent (even called selfish) and the majority of my responsibilities were given to other administrators for the rest of the program. They even promoted two RAs to administrators in order to “delegate more effectively”. It’s important to me that my boss and coworkers believe in me, that I can do my job and improve. Maybe this isn’t a good thing, because it makes me reliant on others for my self-assurance, but so it is. I did not feel that they had faith in me after that first week and my self-esteem suffered as a result.

The second thing I learned was that this program was poorly designed and managed. The students doubled in number this year; the admin team did not double in number this year. That is not a recipe for success. This program was extremely ill-designed and set up all its workers for failure. Is it reasonable to expect every administrator to be efficient while working 19 hour days for three or more days? This is not an exaggeration. Throughout the duration of the program, I got five hours of sleep on a good day. We had multiple administrators and RAs up until 2am or 3am dealing with residents going to the ER, getting locked in trash rooms, getting calls from peeping toms; the list goes on. Expectations from the main office were not communicated clearly or in a timely manner, so deadlines were missed, mistakes were made, and miscommunication multiplied. The most frustrating thing about this job was that no matter how many times we as an admin team tried to tell the director that things needed to change, she was unwilling to listen and make changes. If a worker is not performing well, you can respond in one of two ways. You can (1) threaten and criticize that worker in the hopes of scaring them straight, or (2) work with them to discover the root of the problem and implement strategies to improve. As a boss you also play the role of the teacher. If a teacher does not succeed in teaching her students with one method, it is expected that they try other methods in order to help that student reach his or her goal. These were not theories the director attempted to put into practice, despite having a doctorate in higher education.

The third thing I learned was that if you cannot communicate and work with your coworkers, you cannot be successful. I thought in the beginning that we were communicating well, but that quickly failed after the first weekend. We were not communicating well at all. Misinformation was abundant and when mistakes were made we blamed each other instead of changing the process. It got so bad that we had an intervention where we all sat in a meeting for three hours alternatively blaming each other and then being vulnerable and apologizing. I was the only one who cried; it was mortifying. After this, things got a bit better, but we never fully recovered. Again, our boss didn’t seem to care that we had problems responding to her communication and management style. This experience has made me realize the importance of acting quickly in the future when I have conflicts with coworkers and my boss, and to apologize early when you make mistakes.

Breaking Point

I had many breakdowns during the program, but the incident that made me go absolutely crazy happened on my last night on campus. We had two students left in the dorms and most of the RAs and admins had already left. I wanted to celebrate the end of the program with a few RAs who were also my friends. We weren’t going to do much, just go have a drink or two at a local bar. When my boss found out that this was happening, she freaked out and called me 11 times in 20 minutes, left two voice messages, and many texts asking me the same questions over and over about who was going to be in charge while I was out “partying”. I was not planning to be off campus for more than three hours and felt that she was overreacting. She gave me instructions to put two RAs on duty while I was gone and make sure the residents knew who to contact if anything happened. My RAs were not on contract, so I thought it unfair to ask them to be on duty. After I told my boss I was following directions, which I did reluctantly, I got a call from one of my RAs saying they were scared because my boss called her. My boss said she couldn’t get ahold of me and was threatening to come to campus “if things weren’t going her way”.

This is when I hit my limit.

After I unnecessarily woke up students to give them the RA on duty’s number and doing exactly as I was told, even though it was completely unnecessary, my boss called my RA and freaked her out about the whole thing. I was outraged and only saw red. I called my boss and yelled at her saying she had no right to call my RAs and scare them and make them do anything when their contract had ended. She was the one who did not think through the closing procedures and put safety measures in place. I was there voluntarily. What would she have done if I had left earlier that day and not decided to stay the night? It was fine to bother me about this stuff, but to call and freak out my RAs? They did not deserve that. I hung up after I told her never to call me again, and she didn’t. I know it was unprofessional, but my contract was over; she couldn’t touch me. I knew even before my outburst that I would not get a good reference from her anyway. It felt so good to tell her off like that, especially since it was not the first time I or the other admins had been harassed past 10pm by my boss who was most likely not sober.

I was never so happy to leave a job in my life. There were so many times that I wanted to quit this summer, because I was stretched far past my limit mentally, emotionally, and physically. But I’m glad I didn’t because I was able to finish what I started, even if I went a little crazy in the end.

Beck

Postgraduate Depression

You know the classic story of the hero? He, or in this case she, accepts a challenge, goes through obstacles, faces a crises and recovers to reach her goal. Well, readers, my crisis is over. How do I know that my crisis is over? I woke up this morning and felt like I had something to say. For the first time since I returned from my summer job a month ago, I wanted to write.

Postgraduate depression is a real thing. It’s akin to First-year Loneliness Syndrome most college students go through. It’s probably the same kind of “freaking out” that all people go through anytime there’s a major change in his or her life. Postgraduate depression can be described as a prolonged feeling of “What am I doing with my life?” with the resulting echo being a hollow “nothing, nothing” that fades into the nights of Netflix binge watching and an old friend you graduated with from college, procrastination.

I got so discouraged that I deactivated my Facebook and started calling/emailing my friends that I wanted to keep in touch with (crazy concept, I know). I didn’t want to see day after day that “everybody” was getting great jobs or going to great schools. And I was just sitting here, with an empty bank account and empty days ahead. I know that social media is a farce, that people create ideal versions of their perfectly pictured lives to display for the public; but even so, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t making progress.

I spoke with a friend recently who is moving back in with her parents soon in order to save more money. She also felt depressed, like she was moving backwards. But we decided that just because we feel social pressure to get perfect jobs, move out of our parent’s homes, and start our “adult lives”, doesn’t mean that we’re failing at life if we’re not doing those things immediately. Everybody has their own path. Whether it takes you four or six years to get an undergraduate degree, you’re still working toward your goals. Don’t let people make you feel bad for taking time to figure out exactly what you want to do, or for working through obstacles like a lack of resources. The important thing is that you do have goals and that you persevere.

I use my sister as an example all the time. She graduated from college two years ago. During the past two years, she has continued taking courses to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school and made progress into her intended career by becoming a nurse assistant. Now she works at Duke University Hospital and is most likely entering PA school next fall. That’s progress. Who cares if it took two or more years? She has gone through countless setbacks, but has steadily worked toward her goal; no one can say that she has been sitting around doing nothing.

Some people would still judge her for moving back in with her parents this summer, but like I said, everybody has their own path. Until you know everything about what a person has or is going through, you can’t judge whether they are “failing” at life. People forget that college students are graduating into a different economy nowadays. It used to be that people could move out and start a career right after college, but I’ll be lucky to get any job that allows me to start paying back my student loans this year. So I say, screw those people; you do you. I may not have any immediate plans, but I do have goals for graduate school, working abroad and more; and I don’t have plans to give up, no matter how long it takes.

Beck

Life is Beautiful

Graduation

Who is in charge of speeding up and slowing down time? Whoever it is, you’re fired, because the past two weeks have sped by in a moment. When I was a kid, I remember my parents telling me that time would pass faster the older you get; they weren’t kidding. I wonder why it’s so hard to slow down and make the most out of enjoying the moment.

I graduated 12 days ago. It was a beautiful day. So much happened that weekend, it’s hard to process! I just remember smiling so much it hurt. I wanted to stretch each second out like taffy, so it would last as long as possible. When I finally drove away and realized I didn’t have any excuse to go back, it was a bittersweet feeling. That day I felt invincible, because I had accomplished something really hard, something not many others get to do.

My invincibility didn’t last long though. My car didn’t care that I had to drive to Raleigh that day; it still blew a tire. It turned out to be a nail. It was Memorial weekend though, so I had to wait until Monday to get my tire patched. A small hiccup in the day’s festivities, but a sobering one for sure. The rest of the day I spent driving 50mph on the highway for more than two hours trying get everyone where they needed to be.

The next day, my parents renewed their marriage vows and we had a celebration at church. I woke up early, got out my nicest salwar kamez, and headed to the church with my family. In our usual fashion, we were more than 30 minutes late, but what can you do when your entire family is wired for Indian Standard Time? We ate a cake with one of my parents’ cheesy wedding photos printed on it, and hung out/took naps in the afternoon. That night, we headed to an impromptu dinner at The Pit in Raleigh.

On Monday, I said goodbye to my hilarious Uncle and Mississippi friends who travelled up for the weekend. I also traveled down to Charlotte in order to spend as much time with my sister before she left for home in Seattle. I dropped her off at the airport yesterday. I miss her so much already!

What I’ve written here is basically a summary of events that I’ve participated in over the past two weeks. What I haven’t written here are the crazy ups and downs, dramatic arguments, and frustrating obstacles that my family and I have worked through in this short amount of time. The marriage vow renewel ceremony was also a family renewel ceremony. My family has been apart for so long, and we are just beginning to be knit back together. I am getting used to having my Dad around, referring to his judgement, and receiving affection from him.  At times, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a discomfort I welcome, because I know it is good. We’re all having to relearn how to trust, rely on, and be there for each other. I may have come from a broken home, but it is no longer broken; for that, I praise God.

Beck

Flying the Coop

Homecoming

Throw back to my second year!

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m graduating college in nine days. So many changes have happened in my life in such a short period of time! Four years sounds like a long time as a first year student, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I want to say I’m going to miss college. It’s “the best four years of your life”, right? But honestly, there isn’t much I’m going to miss about Elon besides having friends nearby. Part of me wishes I had more time to participate in the community, but that’s only because this was the first year I’ve actually been able to do that in a meaningful way. I think I will miss being challenged intellectually. I really enjoyed the discussions I had in some of my classes. Where else do people come together and devote their time to dealing with complicated issues and new ideas?

But I’m tired of talking (and writing essays) about these ideas; I want to act on them. I feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life. I want greater intellectual challenges and opportunities for community. I want to start a career that allows me to be the person I became through this experience and helps me continue to grow.

The other day I was walking past the small downtown streets of Elon. The bricks led me past the pizza place, coffee shop, and student theater. I smelled the honeysuckle in the air. I looked up into the canopy of ancient oaks. I heard the train blow past the school, just like it does every day at 5pm. And I realized that no matter what happened to me here, good and bad, it’s still my home, and I love it. I won’t miss Elon, because I’m taking Elon with me (No, I haven’t stolen a brick yet!). Everywhere I go, I will remember the friends I met, the professors I was honored to work with, and the memories I made that make my heart swell with warmth.

The same itch that had you to get out of the nest as a high school senior is the same itch you get as a college senior. It’s a restlessness that is filled with nervous excitement and the knowledge that something amazing is about to happen. But one of the first things you learn when you get to college is how awesome your mom’s cooking is, how warm your old bed is, and how far away your friends are. I am relearning all this now that I’m leaving home for the second time. But, this phoenix is flying the coop, because there is much more to experience in life, and I am so ready for it.

Beck

Police Officers and Overheard Conversations

I meant to blog about some events last week and didn’t have time to write! Prepare to time travel into the nearly present past…

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It is last Tuesday and I’m driving to class. I have two classes one after the other, and if I don’t run, I’m usually late. So today, I decided to drive instead. The buildings are maybe a five minute drive a part, so naturally, I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I forgot that my life is…well, Beck, so I didn’t think anything of it. Lo and behold! Who should see me turning into the parking lot but the good ole town police. I didn’t see the cop pull in after me, so I parked and prepared to get out when I saw the flashing lights in my mirrors. I immediately knew why he had pulled me over and waited for him to get out of his car in slow motion (with his deputy in tow) and approach my window. The usual cop and driver script was played through, both of us unenthusiastically, and I gave him my license and registration. He kept me waiting in my car for a long time while he did magic and mysterious things with my documents in his car. Eventually, he returned with a bright and shiny ticket, which I didn’t even look at before throwing it in my glove compartment and heading to class. At this point, I was twenty minutes late and very hot and bothered.

I can understand if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt on the interstate, but I was in the car for less than five minutes and I got a ticket. Of course, I didn’t tell him that; he wouldn’t have cared anyway. I know it’s ultimately my fault and “responsibility” and “Click-it or Ticket” blah blah blah, but really, he could have let me go with a warning. In my experience, Po-po don’t give “warnings” unless you’re a flirty blonde. Maybe that’s not true, but I’m upset about this, so (:P). This has not been a good year for me and Rihonce (my car) thus far.

Update: I went in for my court date and a super cute DA let me off. Hooray for not having to pay the ticket! I’m mending my ways and never driving without my seat belt again!

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I’m getting the feeling none of you realize how small the dating pool is for intelligent women at my school. This goes beyond the girl/boy ratio as many of the guys that do attend my school are, well…frat boys.

Exhibit A
I heard a conversation very much like this while waiting in line to pick up a package this week.

Dude 1: How was your weekend, bro?
Dude 2: I’m exhausted. I threw up, like, four times every night.
Dude 1: Yeah, I just chucked it out the third floor balcony every night. Haha
Dude 2: I went home, popped a Prozac before bed and maxed out.
Dude 1: Yeah dude, I got home, smoked a bowl and just chilled.

Ladies and gentleman, these men will most likely procreate someday…#ohdear

I’ll leave you with that,

Beck

PS: Yes, I’m aware that all my images are from The Mindy Project and I don’t care. Mindy is my spirit animal (sometimes).

Sex and Love in That Order?

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There’s something I’ve noticed about loves stories in movies and tv shows that has been bothering me for a while: People fall in love by having sex. Or they don’t realize they are in love with someone until they have amazing mind-blowing sex with them.

Think about it. How many tv shows and movies have you seen that revolve around a couple having sex and suddenly realizing they’re meant to be? Chandler and Monica from Friends, Harry and Sally from When Harry Met Sally; the friends with benefits story arc is well known and the list of examples could go on forever. Sometimes there’s a PG version of this when couples kiss and things change, but for the most part, I feel people jump right to sex and fall in love.

What bothers me about this is that it’s a completely unrealistic expectation and is a harmful model to follow when beginning a relationship. I know this is a plot device used to escalate the falling-in-love process in film, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s unrealistic to think that just because you have sex with someone you like, or are even in love with, that they will suddenly fall in love with you. People, men and women, don’t “call back” all the time, probably most of the time. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in real life occasionally, but I think the whole “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free” adage applies here. Why be in a relationship if you can have sex and sleep around without any consequences? People are selfish, especially college students, and will seek relationships that will benefit them and not you. If you buy in to this fairy tale that the media sells us and expect “true love” after having sex, you can end up getting hurt physically and emotionally (sexual assault, STDs, unwanted pregnancy to name a few).

Your milkshake may bring all the boys to the yard, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay there and love you or marry you.

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Sex changes things. Your body releases hormones that make you form attachments to the one you sleep with, which can make you fall in love or at least become infatuated. (That’s why being friends with benefits doesn’t work most of the time.) I’m not saying women can’t or don’t enjoy casual sexual relationships, I just think it’s difficult to do so without getting feelings involved eventually. When enough of these failed experiences occur, it can make you feel insecure, desperate, and unworthy of a healthy relationship, which further perpetuates the potentially harmful behavior. That’s why I think keeping your pants on before marriage is a good idea. I’m a Christian, so this belief originated from my knowledge of the Bible. But even if I wasn’t a Christian, I would still want to wait until marriage, because like I said, sex changes things. I wouldn’t want to form a strong emotional and physical connection with someone who won’t be there when I wake up. It damages you, even if you don’t or can’t realize it now.

I’ve never been in love or had sex, so I don’t speak from experience, but I have witnessed my friends go through horrifying and damaging relationships/non-relationships throughout college. It pains me to see them go through things like that. I’m not saying everyone needs to convert to Christianity (although that would be awesome). I am saying people need to have realistic expectations when they begin a physical relationship with someone. Ask yourself if you are okay with them walking away. Because they probably will. If not, zip up your pants and find someone who wants to stick around. If you are okay with them walking away, that’s a whole other issue, because you deserve to have someone stick around. Everyone deserves to be with someone who loves them, not just someone who wants to get in his or her pants. I’m okay with waiting for that person, because I know I’m not missing out on anything except a lot of heartbreak and bad sexual souvenirs.

Beck

PS: I was going to name this post “Great SEXpectations” but I talked myself out of it. Haha

 

Editing Me Out

I wrote an article for my college newspaper recently about my experience last semester. When I read it today I was a bit shocked with how much they changed. It felt weird, like I was reading someone else’s article. It just didn’t sound like me. I feel like I’ve been edited out of my own article. I want to be angry but I know this is just how media works; that doesn’t make it okay though. Along with the cuts and edits changing the message of the article (my ending was stronger), they changed the tone and voice as well. Ew. Haha Below is my original article with the major cuts in italics.

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Being homeless is not something you usually want to admit, especially at Elon, but it is an issue that needs more attention and awareness on campus. For most people, it is not even on their radar. It seems strange to think of Elon students sleeping in cars, but the truth is, it happens, and it’s a more widespread problem than you might think. Homelessness doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a process. For me, the process started late last August when I received an email from the Bursars office that basically told me I needed to write a huge check if I wanted to come back in the Fall. I’ve received this email every year, but while our cost of attendance continued to rise every year, my financial aid package slowly shrunk, and now that I was starting my senior year, I was out of money and out of options. After being tossed between the Office of Financial Planning and the Bursar’s Office for days, it was decided that in order to stay at Elon, I would need to find a place to live off-campus, which for me meant finding a job. Taking seven classes and working a part-time job is not easy, so I was sort of relieved when I lost that job due to my limited availability. I was not so relieved when I realized this meant I had to move out of my house. With nowhere else to go, I found myself, at the end of October, moving back home to Raleigh, NC.

I knew trying to finish the semester would be difficult with a two hour commute every day, but I didn’t have any choice. I woke up early to make it to Elon for my 8:00AM class, and drove back to Raleigh late at night. To save gas, I slept on friend’s couches or in the library. My closet, bookshelf, and cupboard was the back seat of my car. I didn’t have a meal plan, so I became really good at improvising meals. I attended free events with food, found faculty lounges with coffee makers, and made friends with dining hall workers who occasionally gave me leftovers. I made being homeless a science. I planned out my days and worked out the details, so that I could stay in school. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving Break that I finally found a place to stay. My church has a program that allows families to “adopt” college students so they can have home cooked meals and a place to stay during holidays; I was in need of both. When they learned of my situation, my adopted family invited me to rent out their spare room for the rest of the year, an invitation I accepted gratefully.

Along with the physical and psychological effects of this homelessness, my academic performance also suffered. It should come as no surprise that students cannot do well when their basic needs are not met. I was treading water for weeks and I felt like I was drowning. For me, being homeless affected me so much as to change the course of my college career. That’s why this issue is so important. It’s not just a place to stay; it’s giving students the foundation they need to reach their potential while in college. I know I have not been the only homeless student at Elon. I wasn’t homeless for long, only about four weeks, but what long weeks those were. I can only imagine how much more difficult that semester would have been had I been homeless the entire semester and not able to commute to Raleigh at least partially. My question is: Where are the resources on campus for those students that struggle to find affordable housing? Where could I have gone for guidance and support when I saw this coming? I believe if you admit a student with financial need, which Elon wants to do more of in the future, you should see them through, and make sure they receive enough financial and academic support to graduate.

Elon prides itself on being a residential campus. We’ve spent millions of dollars creating one. But if we have the facilities and not the resources to provide access to those facilities, that’s not something to be proud of. We are missing something from our Elon Commitment. This is not me waving my finger at University officials and administrators for letting this happen. This is a wake-up call. There are students at Elon who are homeless and need the support of their institution in order to finish their education. This is me saying, please, pay attention to your students; genuinely care about where they sleep at night, because if they are here, but are not set up for success, you do them a disservice, not a favor.

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Read the published article online. There’s also an audio interview if you want to hear how weird my voice sounds when recorded. Readers, I want to know what your reaction to and thoughts on this subject are! Comment below!

Beck

How to be Homeless in College

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I was stranded at my friends apartment last week while NC was in the middle of a snow storm. This reminded me of last semester when I was staying there almost every week because I had no other place to go. I learned a lot about how to go without last semester. Becoming homeless is a process that makes you realize exactly what you do and do not need to live. It’s a painful process.

I started the semester in a small apartment attached to a house nearby campus. The rent wasn’t bad and I had just gotten a job as a barista at the local B&N cafe. After about a month, I moved out because my landlady didn’t want me to keep my cat in her house, and I wanted to live with my cat (don’t judge me).

At the beginning of October, I moved into a house with a student couple, their evil cat, smelly dog, and loud chicken. (Yes, I did say chicken.) I settled in and then…I lost my job. Apparently, my availability was not working for them, even though I told them I could work anytime I wasn’t in class. With no job to pay rent and a new landlord asking for a deposit, I found myself, at the end of the month, moving for the third time that semester…home.

My Mom lives in Raleigh, about an hour from campus, and I had a full schedule with seven classes. I was so scared and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had no choice but to keep going. For weeks, I woke up at 5:30am so I could drive the hour commute and be on time for my 8am class (and I’m not a morning person in the least). To save gas, I asked my friends if I could alternate sleeping on their couch, but I didn’t want to be a burden, so most of the time I slept in the library or took naps in my car.

I had a system. I would go home every Tuesday and Thursday night to get more clothes and food. I would shower in the gym locker room and do laundry on the weekends when I could stay home. I would work in the library and then drive home to sleep in my room with no bed. And I would student teach and try to finish my projects on time. Part of me knew this meant I wouldn’t be passing all my classes, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I thought I was strong enough to do it all.

Okay, so technically I wasn’t homeless, but I was constantly moving between my car, my friends’ apartments and public spaces like the library and gym. I felt homeless, and that anxiety really affected me and my ability to work. I learned how to get through the day by getting “free” coffee from faculty lounges and attending school events with free food. I ate a lot of pizza that semester.

Having no where to go makes one anxious and alone, and I very quickly fell apart. Every single one of my professors emailed me or “had the talk” with me about my low performance (some more than once). What could I say? “Sorry I didn’t finish the paper, Professor, I was busy trying to find somewhere to sleep last night.” I felt tired all the time and it wasn’t from the mountains of work I stayed up doing. I knew I needed to do something about my living situation and fast.

That’s when I remembered that I had been adopted recently. My church has a program that allows families in the church to “adopt” college students so they can get a home-cooked meal, and have a place to stay if they can’t go home for breaks. I emailed my “family” and asked if they knew of anyone that had an extra room to be rented out until May. I received a quick response offering a room in their own house for the year. It felt weird accepting help from people who were essentially strangers, but I wasn’t in a position to say no, and a 30 minute commute is better than an hour commute, so I said yes. I’ve been living here ever since. I won’t say it wasn’t awkward, really awkward, at first, but God has put me in a good home and I’m so grateful that He has provided a place for me to live during my senior year. I hope I can do the same for someone else one day.

What my adopted family did by taking me in reminds me of this passage in Matthew 25.35-40 (NIV)

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I was a stranger and they invited me in, and that’s pretty awesome.

Beck

The Flower Man

What kind of a name is Soul Gastrolounge? It’s a bit weird, I’ll admit, but it is a really cool place for eats and drinks in Charlotte, and is where my friends and I started our Saturday night last weekend. It was really dark, but the bar was impressive and we all know that’s the most important part of the restaurant. The place was really busy, so we didn’t end up staying to eat or drink, but it’s definitely somewhere we want to come back. Once they told us the wait time was an hour and forty minutes we decided to leave.

Beneath the lounge there is a neat art gallery called Twenty Two (Check out this great review!). As we passed by, a man accosted us and asked us to come in and check out the show. He turned out to be the artist on display. We got drinks and walked about. The space is small but the atmosphere was really laid back and fun. I really liked the paintings of the artist, John Hairston Jr. I couldn’t find any pictures of the paintings we saw that night, but below is one of his that I found online. I’m no art critic, but I really like his style and use of color.

CapturePicture Source

Our next stop of the night was Dharma Lounge, another place we didn’t stay because the cover was $13 dollars. I’m sorry, but if the cover is that much, the floor better be made of gold and the drinks free all night. We ended up at Nan and Byron’s which by day is a super cute restaurant, and by night a classy lounge and bar. The drinks were overpriced and there was hardly enough room for dancing, but you can’t beat the price (zero dollars). Also, those “train wreck fries” were delicious. We had a good time. There was a guy that was really fun to watch drunk dancing. A weirdo even hit on my friend with the line, “Are you a bar tender?” Haha.

On the way home, my friend had a sudden undeniable urge to eat a donut at 2am. We found NOVA’s Bakery and while they didn’t have donuts, they satisfied our appetite for baked goods and sweets. I got a muffin and some bread. As we were eating, a man came up to us and handed my friends and I a white tulip each. He introduced himself as The Flower Man and then said he was homeless and would appreciate some help (aka money). We didn’t have much, but I gave him some cash. He seemed really nice and I wished I could have done something more for him. He didn’t leave the shop immediately and later I went up and offered him my extra loaf of bread. He looked surprised when I asked his name and shook his hand. If it wasn’t two in the morning and I was slightly more sober, I would have liked to talk with him more. I’ve always wanted to be friends with a homeless person. Not because I feel like it’s my job to help them or make them un-homeless, but just because I think they would have interesting stories and experiences to share. People who are homeless are often ignored by everyone and I can imagine they feel invisible a lot of the time. I like making people feel visible and heard. If I can’t give him a job and a home, at least I can do that.

This seemed an interesting way to end the night. The intersection of my lifestyle and that of The Flower Man made me realize that while I call myself poor, I’m actually richer than many in the US. At my school, I’m surrounded by students from the upper middle/ high socio-economic class and I feel poorer than I really am. I’m really just lucky to be in college at all, even if I did have to take out thousands of dollars in loans to make it through. I really hope I meet The Flower Man again.

Much more to come
Beck