Now Showing: Technical Difficulties

It is my unfortunate privilege to announce that tonight was the first time I have ever gone to the theatre and left without seeing a movie. There was entertainment to be sure, but no movie to be watched.

I’m visiting my Mom in Raleigh this weekend to help her get some decorating done in the house. We spent two hours at Ross (my favorite store), then a couple more hours rearranging decorative elephants on the mantelpiece and hanging (then rehanging) several pieces of wall art.

We thought we were treating ourselves to a well deserved dinner at Twisted Fork and a movie tonight. I was so excited to see Kong: Skull Island. Usually, I don’t go for those kind of movies, (you know, the weak storyline all violent action kind), but I was eager to see this film for two reasons. First, and it really should go without saying, Tom Hiddleston is H-O-T hawt and is an excellent actor. Second, I enjoyed the Kong: Skull Island thrill ride at Universal Studios when I was there over Christmas and was interested in how the film compared to what was seen in the ride. Sadly, my day was not made complete by seeing Hiddles all sweaty while running away from an impossibly large gorilla.

After waiting through the trailers, a quirky jazz theme began to play. The screen faded slowly into Michael Caine walking into a bank. Wait a minute. There’s no way a Kong movie starts with an old man going to the bank. Moviegoers began to leave the theatre as I realized that this is not another trailer. We have just started watching Going in Style. My Mom, bless her soul, had no idea this was not Kong. She was happily watching Michael Caine get caught up in a bank heist while whispering to me, “He’s a legend.”

I left the theatre and joined a throng of people in the hall. A teenager nearby told me someone had already gone to tell staff about the mishap. I went back inside to wait for the theatre to correct their mistake.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. A while ago, my friend and I went to a rescreening of The Lord of the Rings in theaters in preparation for The Hobbit movie, which was soon to be released (RIP Hobbit book), when they started the movie 15 minutes into The Two Towers. It was weird, but they fixed their mistake right away and we all had a good laugh.

Ten minutes after our screen going blank, a staff member came in to tell us that if we wanted to watch the movie, we’d have to move to another theatre room. At that point, it was almost an hour after our original show time and my Mom and I were annoyed and tired. But, we took the trip to the other side of the building to a new theatre room where we were promised no additional commercials or trailers.

Finally, the movie started. Many people  had given up and gone home or chosen another film. We were determined. We were the faithful. I was going to see Tom Hiddleston if I had to stay up past midnight (a true sacrifice) in this terribly old, broken down cinema. Five minutes into the film with no Tom in sight, my Mom turned to me and said she’s already seen this movie and wants to go home. She forgot she already saw it with Rachel when she visited her in Boston recently…

So, I wasted an hour of my life, but at least I got a few free movie passes from the whole thing. #mylifeisbeck

I still haven’t seen Kong: Skull Island. Wait for me, Tom.

Beck

 

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

Themes That Have Been Running Through My Mind

Don’t praise me.

I know it’s because of my insecurities with my body, but I hate it when people praise my efforts to lose weight. When I come home from the gym and my mom says, “I’m so proud of you for going to the gym!” I cringe and don’t respond. I don’t tell people when I’ve lost weight because I don’t want to hear them say, “Wow! Good for you! I’m so proud of you.” I know it’s strange, but I hate it because it brings attention to my large body and the fact that I need to lose weight. I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to ignore this fact, and a person bringing it up, even in a positive way, bothers me a lot. People generally wouldn’t tell a thin person they were proud of them for going to the gym, so why tell me? Because I really need to go to the gym, right? But everyone needs to be active to be healthy, not just people who are overweight. When people praise me for working out, they think they are encouraging me to continue a healthy lifestyle by recognizing my efforts, but I’m not doing this for them or for their recognition. I’m doing this for me and my future. I don’t need or want their praise, especially if they are treating me differently than others (i.e. thinner people) who are behaving the same way. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for their concern or affection; I just don’t enjoy receiving that kind of attention.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life.

This theme was inspired by me watching the last Hobbit film this week, which wasn’t completely disappointing. After watching the movie, I remembered how obsessed I was with Lord of the Rings when I was in middle and high school. I devoted so much of my time and energy reading and learning about everything that had to do with LOTR and Tolkien’s universe. For what reason? Having an encyclopedic knowledge of LOTR made me happy. It was all I talked about and all I watched; it brought me into a community, it entertained, inspired, and motivated me. But in the end, this obsession didn’t really do me any good besides encourage a love of reading. Now I can’t help but think, what if I devoted the same amount of time and energy to something more worthwhile? Not my career or education, but Jesus Christ? What if I had an encyclopedic knowledge of Him? what He said and did? What if I made Him my inspiration and motivation? joined a community just as obsessed with Him as I was? How would my life be different? It wouldn’t just make me happy, it would give me real joy. It’s not quite as easy as all that. I need to work through my misgivings concerning the church and my own stubborn resistance to Him that we all share. But, reading and learning are things that I enjoy doing, and it’s not so much that I don’t find Jesus interesting as I’ve been desensitized by a lifetime of hearing the same standardized sermons over and over. So that’s where I’ll start, reading.

I need a new job.

On a much more practical level, I’ve been thinking and rethinking my situation and decided to seriously look for a better job. Earning minimum wage is terrible; earning minimum wage in a retail position is not worth it. I had a bad experience last week when I was sick and needed to call out. But even before last week, I applied to a handful of temp agencies in Raleigh. So far, I have not heard anything from them. I’ve also applied and have an interview for an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Fayetteville State University. To be honest, it’s not paying much more than what I’m making now, but it is in my career field and would help me develop my professional skills. There are two things that prevent me from being super excited about this job. 1) It’s an hour away from Raleigh so a lot of time and money would be spent commuting. 2) It requires a one year commitment that I may or may not be able to complete. The job runs from Feb 2015 to Feb 2016, but I’m planning to start grad school in the fall of 2015. I would be willing to defer enrollment for a semester (which would take me to Jan 2016), but an entire year? That’s a long time. Since nothing is set in stone for grad school, I’m going to the interview next week, but I don’t know what to do! My gut feeling, and my Mom, tells me to let this job go and attend grad school this fall, but what if I give it up and don’t get in? At the same time, I can’t stand the thought of working at Starbucks for another eight months before grad school.

I know things will work themselves out. In the meantime, I’ll just bake some cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Beck

Job Searching Like It’s My Job

After a fairly uneventful month, I’ve had a jam-packed week of job searching and future planning full of successes and…well, total failure.

On Monday, I had an interview with a local Starbucks. I think I did well, but I may have done too well. Sarah said that I answered questions about my experiences too intelligently. I didn’t understand why that was a bad thing until she told me that if you sound too smart they won’t hire you because you’re less likely to stick around. Oops. Yeah, I didn’t get a call back, but that’s okay. I didn’t really want to work there anyway.

tumblr_lj1i0p7Zgt1qzc1emo1_400

On Tuesday, I drove to my alma mater for a much needed job search session at the Student Professional Development Center aka Career Services. I got some good advice about how to get an entry level job in the education field without a license or a master degree. I’m looking forward to using some of these tips and utilizing my LinkedIn profile more.

That night I attended a graduate school information session at UNCG and visited my best friend who is a student there. It was really informative and I got to meet some faculty members. When I told her my GPA, she cringed and said, “You’re almost there.” Then told me to study hard for the GRE and get good recommendations. I didn’t realize how much competition there is for grad school before. My program is cohort based so they only accept 20 applicants every two years. Pressure!!! But, I’m going to remain optimistic and open to the possibilities. The first step is writing the personal statement. I feel this is going to be difficult because, as you all know; I am not a woman of few words.

Keyboard_Kitty

I’ll post my statement on the blog once it’s completed for your comments!

After driving back to Elon and hanging out with my good friend, Tori, who by the way has an awesome blog as well, I was exhausted! The next day, I attended the job fair on campus. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Most companies were looking for sales reps or for students majoring in business and accounting, etc. I did meet a few teacher recruiters, but I’m not really passionate about teaching in a secondary setting anymore…I guess you know why. After leaving with a shockingly small number of cards and only giving out two resumes, I met a few friends at a local restaurant for dinner. That dinner made my trip worth my time. I don’t have any friends in Raleigh, so being able to socialize with friends after weeks of basically being a housewife for my family was awesome. We just talked and ate good food, that’s my idea of a great time. I miss them so much!


Well, Reader, I’m almost finished with my week; where is the promised failure? you ask. To be honest, this failure truly wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t have studied more or prepared more, I did everything I could. It was an act of God, that’s the only way I can explain it.

f69f38d177ae8659b54c10826063b189

I applied to an indie (read: pretentious) coffee shop in downtown Raleigh and had an interview on Saturday at 2:15pm. At 2:05pm, I drove into a parking garage behind the coffee shop looking fabulous and feeling confident. I was stopped by a woman wearing a blue collar who explained that all parking downtown was $7 due to a festival happening all weekend. I didn’t have any cash and my interview was in ten minutes, so I begged her to let me pay on the way out. When she refused to let me in, I asked her where an ATM was and turned around. I knew I would be late at this point, so I fought back tears…okay I opened the flood gates! and called the coffee shop to let them know. I frantically searched for an ATM and found one close by that was accessible by car (most ATMs downtown were on streets blocked off for the festival). When I got there, I saw lovely trees and a scenic meadow…and no ATM. Repeat this series of events six times, SIX TIMES. It wasn’t always a meadow, sometimes Google Maps led me to a bank nestled in an antiquated brick building blocked off by construction, sometimes an empty parking lot, sometimes to a building that was locked or closed. The minutes were ticking by and as I grew more and more desperate, I searched for an ATM farther and farther away from the coffee shop.

helpmeimpoor

ATM #7, a SunTrust. FINALLY, I got the cash I needed and called the coffee shop to let them know I was on my way. At 3:20pm, I drove into the parking garage behind the coffee shop with tear-stained cheeks and absolutely no confidence. I had cried off all my make-up and was trembling from frustration, but I put on what I hope was a smile of confidence and walked up to a flannel-wearing barista with thick-rimmed glasses to ask for the manager. After a few moments waiting at the bar, another flannel-wearing barista came up to me and told me that the manager couldn’t wait for me and left for the day. I asked her if I could reschedule, she said that they “weren’t interested” in me because it had taken me so long to get there. I stumbled out an apology and explained the situation. What I got in reply was, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day. I hope your day gets better.” Luckily, I made it out of the door before I burst into tears. I cursed myself for not having $7 in my pocket. If I did, I would have been on time and probably gotten the job. Maybe not, I don’t own any flannel plaid, which is apparently the uniform since every time I’ve gone there that’s all I see them wearing.

4f2412163eea2544e1239500939410c3bf8452a2887a45fa116503a01a902f77

I don’t expect them to give me second chance; I wouldn’t take it even if they did. I was mostly using this interview as an opportunity for more practice, but it was humiliating all the same. After wasting so much of my time and gas, and trying so hard to just get there at all, I was turned away. I paid $7 to cry in a parking garage for ten minutes before I was capable of driving my car home.

Tomorrow, I start afresh searching for and applying to jobs again like it’s my job. Wish me luck!

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

Spring Break 2014

kklj

I have been so busy the past few weeks that I haven’t had time to write anything, not even the paper I have due next Tuesday! Spring Break was this past week and I wish it never ended. I spent a few days in Raleigh with my parents and then headed to Charlotte to hang out with my sister. We had a lot of fun trying out some new places including Pio Pio, Tupelo Honey Café, Common Market, and Razzoo’s, all of which are fantastic and you should check out! I especially liked the “beer-ritas” at Razzoo’s and the beer I discovered at Tupelo Honey called Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Beer. I also got to drink a lot of good wine. It was a good break, but it was much too short.

Now that I’m back at school, I’m keeping busy writing papers and trying to cram two years’ worth of Leadership workshops into the remaining five weeks of school. I’m in the Leadership Ed and Development program, which until recently I didn’t know was really helpful in learning about how to become a good leader. I enjoyed the Team Performance Model workshop a lot, and it’s something I want to use when I’m working at Duke this summer. It was basically a brief run through on how to get teams working together for a single purpose, etc. I’m going to workshops later this semester called “Leading with Integrity” and “Cross-Cultural Leadership” so those should be interesting.

Don’t be surprised if I don’t write more this semester. Last week went by so fast I didn’t have time to process it, and when that happens, it’s not likely that I’ll have much to say. It’s going to be a whirlwind of activity from now until graduation, which is only in 48 days. Oh Lawd.

Beck

How to be Homeless in College

helpmeimpoor

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