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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Patterns and Paybacks....



I am realizing some patterns. The more fretful and worrisome I get the worse my health and the slower my accomplishments...but the more I sit back, and trust...the better everything flows....

So I am amazed at how things unfold....it is like that story from the movie The Secret...you only need to see 200 feet ahead of you as your headlights illuminate the road at night...no need to see every detail of the drive you are embarking upon, right?

Too much of the time I get myself into trouble desperately trying to plan out every detail...without realizing I am never going to be able to do that...

Today I fell back into my school mode...though a case could easily be made for never having fallen out of it for the Christmas holiday. I read articles aloud in Spanish learning all the news of the day...I meditated on success and ease...then I did something I never do...I usually leave all fashion stuff to my sisters and Ex Hubby...but today I researched out what I would want to wear if I were in my dream jobs that I am studying for in my future...

I looked at Brooks Brothers suits...the top of the line, never-owned-one-because-they-are-too-expensive styles...the Ann Taylors that haunt my dreams...I found out what sort of heels are fashionable now-a-days even though I always favor flats since cheap suit or not, I am prone to run...and heels slow me down.

I went this route instead of hunting down housing that is less cold and more suitable because I felt strongly that my obsession with action was slowing me down.

Yesterday I found a lovely 3 bedroom place that is bigger, warmer, more cozy and sooooo much closer to my school that I would probably walk it every day...perfect for a roommate or two and vastly more affordable than the place I have now that had a leaky and expensive bath...terrible washer and dryer and the coldest interior I have experienced since staying a few days in Strawberry, high in the Sierras....

But I cannot constantly force stuff to happen...when I take my eyes off the ball it seems to fall into my glove...so this morning I am engaging in frivolities...I am not out of bed...it is before 7 am and yet I have played and relaxed and dreamed and enjoyed...instead of fretting and worrying.

I have been having side adventures in school realms with a few buddies that I can't divulge anything about but I can say it is much more fun to take a hands on approach to trade and economics than by studying them from afar...I have found that I have acquired useful skills while delving into my colleges...I can pour through government documents with ease...assess global finances effortlessly through my foreign policy lens and generally really walk into things that used to be way over my head...and still have a clear eyed view!

I can't wait until I start earning money and paying back my school loans...I lived a long time before college and didn't acquire these polished skills so I owe it to my professors of the past and future to be delighted as I pay all this back someday soon!

I am still baking cookies, (yesterday it was pecan shortbread snowballs in honor of Aunt Winnie!) but I can also stretch out in other directions too....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Big Deal


The Big Deal

 

I have been doing mediocre work in many respects. I can’t wait to see what will happen when I start running. I am still getting my sea legs. I was thrown off by the speed at which my grad school plans unfolded while I was still negotiating the end of my undergrad experience in my hometown.

We often use the term “undergrad” here at grad school and I am not the only one who savors it as it spills off my tongue.

I got to use it the other day and it was so delicious and sweet that it felt like a candy cane. In fact I was surprised at how nicely it glided out of my mouth!

I have a capacity to really focus on foreign affairs and foreign languages…it is just what I do…for fun. I also have a fluent ability to express myself. I am made for speeches and public speaking and moving my idea to expression with ease. Here it means that I make a pretty decent tour guide. I love the campus. I studied the facts about all the programs that I could cram into my head…and then they flow like butter.

My hope is that somehow these two capacities are going to land me a job someday that makes all this worthwhile.

In the meantime my son and I hang out with everyone we can, enjoying the experience and soaking up everything we can like sponges.

I am studying many things that are not in my classes and one of them involves progressing business concepts with a student who is far more of a globetrotter and internationally savvy than I profess to be at this point. I had a connection though that brought us a mentor. A business mentor who has kindly taken us on and provided possible connections to the broader more fascinating world of trade.

Now I cannot discuss what is so young and malleable at this juncture but suffice it to say, I realized that my business partner and I are actually global professionals. I was startled with the ease with which I could exercise our studies to make sense out of matters that required the international “eyes” I have been developing over a lifetime of watching things unfold.

I have been knocking out professional assessments and researching trade sanctions and laws on an international level. Of course there are lawyers on staff eventually who will really weigh out the details, but knowing how to research the government documents now….and read them and interpret them, all of the skills being applied felt priceless to my insides. I practically glowed with delight as I put my lifelong love of reading textbooks and legal-eze on to Treasury department documents. I could swear I was humming as I cut and pasted the relevant parts for our deal.

This was a Big Deal. Not only would it take me from poverty to riches overnight but the bigger deal is what I found myself saying. It sort of unearthed a bigger truth.

During the course of our business interactions my helpful mentor babied us on a specific point. After all who could blame him? He was mentoring us. It was easy to see how he presumed we needed help on even tedious little international points that were tackled years ago in undergrad work. For me, these countries were studied back in 2009 and 2010. My partner and I know our subjects well.

I communicated the exact truth as I knew it. “My partner and I are global professionals who now have years of experience in analyzing international situations such as this through our undergrad years to now…we know what we are talking about and you can trust us to have a good grasp of countries and what we are negotiating before bringing it up.”

I was speaking the truth since we both have been studying years and years of international relations and cultures, we would not have made the rookie mistake that the seasoned expert feared we had done.

As I said that statement I knew in my heart it was true with all of my being…and that slightly shocked me. I am a professional now…not in some lofty future where the riches lay out waiting, but now…and that made me feel as wealthy as Warren Buffet!

 

The Big Leagues

12/17/2013

 

I crawled out of bed on a chilly December morning at 3:00 am last week. Scratch that, it wasn’t just chilly, it was a bitter cold snap that killed plants and left frost on our houses. It marks the only time I have gone to school with my pajama pants on instead of my traditional grown up business attire. The test had been due but I was under the impression that since I wasn’t going on the research trip my need to turn in the possible 4 hour test was not mandatory yet. The test is a complicated one and requires a great internet connection as well as concentration and focus that are really hard for me to garner for such a long period of time.

Now I was chiding myself for my stupidity. I am old enough to know that when you are assigned things it is best to get them over with early rather than late. But here I was, zipping over to the school where I could count on the internet. I knew there was security there so I was not concerned about being out in the middle of my town in the middle of the night. I also hoped that there would be a building open. The security guard explained that there was not.

I did what all techies would do in my position. I found a convenient plug outside next to some seating where I had the most bars of reception from the campus internet.

The night was clear and rather beautiful. I smiled as I appreciated the silence of the city at night. I could hear an occasional sea lion bark.

After the initial difficulties, making sure the internet worked, donning a glove on the hand that did not need to be naked to swipe the screen, I was ready.

If you have ever had an espresso in Italy first thing in the morning you understand how much it enlivens the mind as well as the soul. Well, that was what this in depth study session did to my mind…in the bitter cold that had me looking like an antsy school child…I went over every detail of how a human subject should be treated in any research project. I learned about horrific research that had been conducted in the name of science. Some of the ideas I studied shocked me when I considered the little regard some researchers had shown in the past…from the Nazis to the Tuskegee Experiment the mistakes made looked like an expose into the lack of humanity towards test subjects exercised in the past.

Some of the past was not so long ago…some things happened within my lifetime.

Either way the cold had me at my most alert and I turned in my certification by 6:30 am.

I realized something about myself at that point. I realized that I really care about my classes and my experiences here at grad school. I didn’t get out of bed, drive somewhere and take a test outside in the cold to please anyone but myself that night and I knew it.

 

I take pride in my work here. I take pride in being here. And I am starting to notice that it is changing me and my self esteem for the better. I think I am taking pride in being myself and the new me carved out by being here in what I consider to be The Big Leagues.

 

The nice thing about life here in this version of the Big Leagues….is there is no real competition. Everyone here is brilliant and worthy of being here. That includes the staff…whether serving up food or educating us with practicality in mind…as well as my fellow students….I am swimming amongst such wonderful people…if you are considering dipping into life here…embrace it…it feels good to just be amongst the others here in this kind of place.

 

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Learning My Potential....

I am finally allowed to breathe a bit and found the time to write now.

I am about to enter into finals and finish off a rather wonderful first term in my grad school of choice!

This place simply rocks!

I really enjoy the full scope of my studies and the fact that I am finally studying a round of finely tuned subject matter that seems to be pulling all of my info together and actually put me knee deep in truly interesting material.

This has not been balanced by a fair amount of work and income to follow my new found status of becoming conversant in really indepth material. To the contrary, I have been making dribble.

That uber focus on studies as well as a crazy re-occurring illness drove me to the point of being hospitalized and hungry all at once.

I want to whine about having a tough time but that would be unfair.

I have been incredibly lucky....in fact I was just going over a Spanish language interview I did with my sister in Spanish and I thought my little sister looked fresh faced and sweet as she laughed and giggled through our stab at serious intellectual discourse. The effect was a choppy shift between us goofing off and then soberly digging deep into her trials and tribulations of teaching students who have a high incidence of "suddenly disappearing" since many are deported as illegal immigrants. In a moment of insecurity I thought I looked chubby.

Over all I felt guilty and happy all at once....this was the longest conversation in Spanish my little sister and I had ever had and I loved every moment of it! It was also nice to see that my studies have been incredible at pushing my abilities far and fast into the realm of actually making sense out of our conversation and also of comprehending my daily reads in Spanish news stories. I might even try to start posting in Spanish on my blog with the school. We will see if I can pull off that ambition.

I have been forced to apply for medical insurance and test out "Obamacare" since an illness that forced me to quit work last year also brought my family gynecologist to tell me a year ago that I needed to have surgery.

I was turned down for insurance and consequently I am bombed in medical bills from last year's hosptitalization still. There was no way I was going to sign up for a surgery when I did not qualify for coverage. So I hobbled along with many nights clutching a hot pad.  I avoided the regular medicines he had tried to subscribe and insisted on a super strength Tylenol equivalent prescription since I try to avoid all medications. I passed the deadline that my doctor had told me I needed to follow for surgery last January and told my family that I was allowed to push it off...they didn't need to know that lack of insurance was the deciding factor anyway. There was nothing any of us could do until the system changed somehow.

Well excruciating pain and an amazing amount of blood changed my mind a few weeks ago...well, a month ago, I had noticed the signs were worsening again...they had been creeping back heavily since the summer but it wasn't until I wandered into the hospital after a scary night where I knew I was way past what every doctor had said was the point to admit myself to an Emergency Room.

I studied in the hospital and resigned myself to follow through on the last of my paperwork no matter how busy I was with school projects.

After a battery of tests I was told to get to a doctor here in a matter of less then a week.

That was two weeks ago. But there are differences this time around. All of my paperwork is being accepted with speed at the county here. As a bonus I also qualified as having a low enough income to get food stamps...something that has greatly added to my security level. I think I can schedule that appointment tomorrow and not risk putting my credit in even more danger.

I keep telling myself this could change though really fast since I also found out I can be a substitute teacher if I take the CBEST. That would be perfect to put myself through school with that income avenue since it would mean that I could control the days I work and be able to say no if I have an important project due for classes.

I also have had some hungry times here...we had been kind of sponging off of my roommates a bit, not much but a bit. I had skipped more then a few meals and my son did not complain once.

But truth be told being here in school is worth it. I have strong priorities...home time with my son...family time with my family...which does include my kindly Ex...and school...I know it is not fashionable but I really think it is going to pay off to go to school here. I am learning so much every day...I can't believe how much I have changed since the year started!

I don't know which is better...the camaraderie or the study materials and the interesting way I am learning here.

One day I finally broke down...I thought I was going to have to give up with only a few weeks of school to go. I finally mumbled to class mates I was hungry and close to dropping out.

One of them took me out to tea the next morning. The other asked me to babysit his kids...and after a marvelous home cooked meal...he made me take home boxes of food. The fact that I was so hungry and sick made it really easy to just say thanks you and cry on the drive home.

The second school chum is the kind of guy who always has a calm smile on his face for everyone. He sort of personifies the "nice guy" image and after getting to spend a lovely evening with his wife and three girls, my son and I could see why he was always happy. They were just bubbling over with fun and humor. The girls were happy well adjusted, intelligent and boisterous. There mother was like their father, she could speak many languages and could negotiate any culture with ease.

It was just nice to hang out with them but the food made me feel a lot more secure when I got home. I just stood there and stared at the pantry which reflected his generosity. This was the first time since moving here that I had enough food.

I could feel my neck and stomach relax as I stupidly gawked at oatmeal, spaghetti, canned goods and Bisquick. It was a smorgasborg!

Today we gave a report in class. As I kiddingly imitated the professor, being a small and unimportant part of this presentation our group put together for a research project, I felt such belonging that it gave me shivers. I fit in with any group, usually. And if I don't fit in I am luckily clueless about my ineptitude.

I really am enjoying myself and I guess that explains why I would be willing to suffer through a bit more time not earning my full potential....I honestly think this is going to be worth it in the long run.

And besides, I am now only a year and a half away from my Masters degree! I just have to keep moving forward!

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hmmmmm, things that make you think...,


I have been living a dream...a perfect world mix of fun, loving family....intellectual stimulation....

I was so zealous that I stood dressed up, book in hand and excited in front of an Arabic class that didn't even meet yesterday...it was worth it to make sure I didn't miss my chance to dive back in to the Arabic language...now that I have my Spanish teacher's permission...

Last night I had a conversation....that had me realizing however I am not regularly living in the moment as much as I can.....actually the whole last week I found myself really living freely in the moment...I was treated to a lovely trip on my school's fall break that felt somehow life changing...

....and getting to let my walls down with someone in a healthy way...I kind of got emotional...it doesn't have to be a romance but it has wandered in that direction...

Yesterday was my first day on the job...

I watched a sunset on the beach with a classmate/buddy...and I realized that on my campus I have been living the World Peace dream...

I have reasons to worry...lots of them...Obama care means I can revisit the idea of a surgery I was supposed to have last January...

Yet I am comforted by letting down my walls....telling my story to sympathetic ears....to someone who can be a good friend at least...and also has the potential for a fun romance to lace through my busy college life...someone whose story is also interesting...

It isn't until I answer questions honestly....and really hear who I am through another's eyes...that I can see that I am doing pretty well...and that my adventures, though positive, have actually been somewhat sad and crushing at times.

At times in life we wander into a safe harbor and last night I did just that...haven't even met the guy in person, but over the phone his voice said just the right things...he lulled me into a sense of security ...enough that I answered honestly...with any inner pain included....I just felt "safe and sound"....like that Capital City song...

Strange that I opened up so completely to a supposedly shy guy...but I did...he did not know that I was parked in town after dropping a school buddy off...sitting in my car alone...confiding my life...and innermost moments to a stranger...he asked just the right questions with just he right amount of  interest...

I had been already in a confidential mood since I was talking to my mom when "he" called....I stopped in midsentence..."Mom!" I breathed into the phone..."that cute lawyer guy is calling....I've gotta go...."

....and there was something about his voice....something undefinable...

I don't know what is in store...he has just as much potential as the others had to crush me...or act dismissively when we meet in person...or stick me with the dinner's bill at the end of the night.....or fizzle away with a lack of me initiated contact....but he also might be a good friend...and he already proved a loving confidante...and that is an awesome start of something isn't it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daily Shift


 

 

A few years ago, when I was happily married to the love of my life, I would have started my day just as I did today…odd when I think about it.

 

At 7 am I was tidying a messy house…dog hair filtered through the air from my duo of dogs….I worked on dirty dishes for much of the morning….I polished the front of a stove that never looks clean since it has rust spots on the side of it from the salty sea air….I enjoyed the sound of a noisy washing machine thumping through a cycle of dark clothes…I tip toed around piles of clothes, scattered around the bedroom highlighting the colors left to wash…..the refrigerator is now filled with vegetables in baskets rather then old jars full of sauces that needed tossing….I stil have the feel of gritty Ajax that I used to scrub my sink …it makes my hands feel extra clean…the smell of Windex from cleaning my living room table is still in the air. This life feels so comfortable I can’t tell you how much it relaxed me like  a meditation of its own…lulling me into an intense sense of security.

But my day did not start at 7….now it always starts somewhere in the night…At 4:00 am I was already reading a Brookings Report on poverty. I start studying at around 4 but have been known to awaken much earlier…

I love the feel of studies unfinished and concepts becoming clear. I love knowing that I am doing the best I can….and that my best is pretty dang good…even amongst brilliant people I am holding my own.

I also have to admit to enjoying the feel of falling on my face and doing the occasional crash and burn. I certainly crashed and burned in Arabic class this summer.

Since it was too much for me I had to drop all Arabic studies…I gave up about the time I realized there was not time to take my Arabic test to qualify for studying Arabic in the program at my school. I opted for Spanish which did turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

I am now studying Spanish at an intensity I have never experienced before. What I love the most about it is that my class requires us to hold intellectual conversations discussing grown up subjects like inequality and recent newspaper articles for much of the time we are together. I am now conversing rather well in Spanish even though I am confusing it quite often with Italian. I am quite shocked to report that I am actually succeeding at my Spanish class and really enjoy both teachers involved.

The Arabic program was just as exhilarating…but I was not progressing much and my conversation in Arabic was down at the level of basics like, “Hi, how are you?” “What is your name?” “Bye, see you later…”

Now I am discussing inequality in South America and the Chilean Overthrow of 1973, in Spanish….solamente espanol….

Not only am I holding my own but I feel like I am doing quite well….I know because I am thinking in Spanish all the time now. My brain is keeping a tally of both English and Spanish as I talk so I know I can switch reading in a heartbeat.

This might be costing me my beloved Italian and Arabic as though so it is time to refocus on what I already have in order to hold onto it.

So this morning, at around 5:00 am I opened up a computer program on my phone I have not allowed myself to open since late August. I went over my Arabic vocabulary on Quizlet. It was like bending my mind in a different direction…sort of like going back to my housewife persona this morning at 7….I was surprised that within a few tries, I was actually scoring OK on my games with the site in Arabic.

The other day I turned in my first policy memo….I did the best I could…taking extra time and effort to follow the instructions since this is territory I am unfamiliar with…but at least I turned it in. I did a little victory dance as I printed it in the college’s copy area.

I have worked hard to get here but I think I am fitting in quite nicely. Instead of walking streets I know like the back of my hand back home I am now growing familiar enough to host a tour and explain details of the history of buildings in the area.

I am walking where Robert Lewis Stevenson has tread…I swigged on a hookah near a tree he is seen drinking under…I regularly walk inside a building that John Steinbeck lived in and wrote.

Needless to say I have had intense shifts in routine and perspective lately…but I wouldn’t change a thing…life as a grad student simply rocks…and I think it is good to drastically shift perspective once in a while….

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

McCone, not just a building on campus....



McCone, not just a word….

I am a lucky sort of person and outrageous coincidences happen to me almost daily.

I suppose it is best illustrated by laying out a side exploration I have had going on while at my school.

It has been common place for me to go into a large building that holds the Irvine auditorium. It is called the McCone Building. Inside there are two portraits of smiling white people from the mid part of the last century. They are clad in expensive looking clothes and exude wealth. His wife, Theiline's name, is prominently displayed over the front door along with John Alexander McCone's name.

The counselors to us students and many of the teacher's offices are housed in this building along  with my program regarding international policy.

I had the fortune of running into a man while buying some burgers at McDonald's during my orientation week....we talked for a few minutes and I learned so much about McCone that I have been collecting information ever since.

John Alexander McCone has his own Wikipedia page since he is such an interesting man. He was head of the CIA post Bay of Pigs and he correctly noted in a telegram to the Kennedy Administration that the assessment by the CIA was not to be trusted...he felt that  indeed the Russian government might be capable of trying to put nuclear weapons in Cuba. His assessment was pre-Cuban Missile Crisis and of course correct. This is now a famous telegram aptly named "The Honeymoon Telegram" since McCone sent it to President John F Kennedy on his honeymoon with Theiline in Paris.

This was all relevant to me since during the Cold War my own father was in the military having at one point been assigned to Fort Ord near here. His expertise was caring for a Nike missile in the  Bay Area....my mother was pregnant with me when the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded.

In my Spanish class I was involved in a discussion which talked about Bechtel's  stranglehold on the Engineering department at UC Berkeley...and how it was infiltrating research in a negative way since Bechtel now could stop any projects that interfered with their financial interests. The story told by a class member vividly described the ruthless nature of Bechtel's infiltration which culminated in a very influential professor being exiled out of the country without pay. McCone had a big stake in Bechtel, at one point they had a joint venture, Bechtel McCone Parsons Corporation.

For an assignment in that same Spanish class, I was assigned a video this week that asked us to watch a segment discussing a Chilean uprising in 1973. McCone involved himself with the CIA in order to protect an American company, ITT's interests. ITT is a telecommunications company that was going to have its Chilean sector publicly taken over by the Chilean government, under the new democracy being born. The democracy in question was squished with McCone's ITT friends winding up on top with their monopoly in tact while the Chilean people would be heavily terrorized by a ruthless dictator's 17 year regime. Our Mr. McCone served on the board of ITT, and used his connections at the CIA to protect a corporation, ITT, vastly effecting US foreign policy to work against a democratically elected president in what had been a peaceful transition of power, creating a terribly violent and unjust period in Chilean history.
In the history books the Pinochet Coup is referred to as CIA supported and backed by the US.
McCone is portrayed in 2 movies, X-Men first Class and a docudrama, Thirteen Days, about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I am not surprised that there is a confusion for companies like Bechtel over what is appropriate use of public entities like UC Berkeley or McCone over CIA involvement in another country's democracy....it seems like it is a long running tradition in American politics...I also can see why other countries are not quick to leap at our help in internal affairs like Syria...we do have a tendency to allow our country's banks and corporations to first say in "country building" and therefore turn a profit.

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/9/10/the_pinochet_file_how_us_politicians_banks_corporations_aided_chilean_coup_dictatorship?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dnp+(Democracy+Now+Podcast+Feed)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._McCone
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel

http://books.google.com/books?id=MGCxll53tFkC&pg=PA304&lpg=PA304&dq=mccone+chile&source=bl&ots=B4_kyMmQRY&sig=NWqapCaG6ziUSX9Op3eHDfuG1No&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JmU0UqCeFc_YigKV3oGQAw&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBQ

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/chile/8549199/Timeline-of-Augusto-Pinochets-dictatorship.html

Friday, September 13, 2013

Debating, a Policy Memo, a Loss and Hopefully a Win...





I am having a rather complicated life down here even though it should be fairly cut and dry. This is just one day's concerns. A slice of my life here.

Yesterday had two triumphs for me...each showcases a talent I have always had...but they also accentuated how much effort I have put into actually doing all the assignments. I wake in the middle of the night to get as much as I can done when my son is asleep....reading, taking my highlighter everywhere, but especially to bed.

At school yesterday I was involved in a debate. The class has been amazing for me since each day I am there in discussion with my classmates, this professor manages to take our human securities studies and apply them to the real world of international relations today. I lucked out and found myself with a positively brilliant group of students so it seems that each session I am there I have constant insights into how everyone is perceiving the course materials...it is like having several classes in one. Human Security was the perfect choice for me! The counselor completely understood what I would need to focus on after a few minutes of asking me about my life. I am really a Human Securities Policy Analyst....I can feel it in my bones!

And I was in my first real assignment in class...a debate with my classmates over human security versus national security. And I loved every moment of it!

I had studied both sides of the issue. I loved putting my argumentative style to work. And it was great for my confidence to be with such a brilliant group of people...like their smarts would rub off on me. In this blog I write in my "casual style" but during debate I was able to use my "formal language" voice...one of my favorites.

I am also really excited about my policy analysis class. I had my first policy class at the end of my undergrad experience...and I remember crying when I read the first two chapters of that text. I had no idea how much I resonated with policy as a subject until I was reading the whole text cover to cover. For this class, now, we started discussing our first assignment on Tuesday and I thought it was due on Thursday...well it wasn't...yet...but with very little instruction I think I got it almost spot on...which surprised me..I honestly had not thought I was doing well....yet....I have been feeling like I am running but not catching up...but maybe I am there after all. Or at least in the vicinity of where everyone else seems to be at least.

Anyway, I was delighted to have finished an assignment that is not even due for a couple of weeks...I am going to do the final touches to it tomorrow and turn it in via email. I think it will help me be more focused on the readings and classwork to have it out of the way....

Most of my energy that was not spent on my son or studies this week went to friends...one of them was a brilliant student in that same policy analysis class. Veronica was always smiling and joking yet quite serious about our studies.

I sat behind her in the orientation week a few times. She was always with a bevy of friends so it was obvious to me she was quite popular. Veronica came from Brazil, and she sported a lovely accent....which around this multicultural school was highly desirable. We specialize in languages and having an accent here is sort of a badge of honor since it proves you have not only language but also international travel under your belt.

Veronica and I only shared brief conversations but as most people who know me can attest that was no real indicator of how much we cared about each other.

We had friended each other on Facebook, a typical behavior of successful people, in order to widen our networks but we were lucky enough to actually talk in person as well.

Veronica mentioned that she and her family needed a place to stay. She said it while smiling and kidding and I had no idea how badly she had meant it. We had now been seeing each other regularly for 3 weeks and I had never seen her without a smile on her face or a friendly hello from her lips.

She is the kind of person who always seemed to follow what was going on and I had already pegged her as a person to ask if I was unclear what was supposed to be done on an assignment.

The following class session Veronica was not in class. This was uncharacteristic! She was always there...with the same attitude I have about just being grateful to be in class. She and I knew the competition to get in is steep and to be accepted here is a compliment in itself.

I sent her a note via Facebook on my phone while our teacher kept up his classic humor that makes this class the kind people don't miss. My note said, "Where are you girl? We miss you in class!!"

There was no reply for several hours....when she did reply I learned of the trials she had undergone to be in my classes with me. She told me she could not talk since she had to leave and was crying too much to hold a conversation.

With two little girls and a husband, this woman and her brave husband had come down for housing...like me with a week and a half's notice of acceptance, and gotten into an emergency situation which was extremely difficult for a mother to endure.

The girls, 1 and 3 years of age, were not able to cry....the entire family was sleeping in a living room. They had figured on only being there for a few days but the dazzlingly beautiful coastal California city I am in is a very hard place to move to since it is not easy to find affordable housing. Families are expected to be making 3-4 times what one pays in rent, and as a student I can vouch for the fact that it is impossible for that to happen.

I also had found it very difficult to find housing for my 12 year old and I. I also had trouble in my first two weeks since I was attending an intensive Arabic studies program while I commuted 3 hours each way. The gas alone was eating me alive with its high costs. But I did it dutifully. I almost signed on to rent a room and hope I would find housing even though it meant my own 12 year old would be unable to live with me until I had it all sorted out.

In the end I wound up here in this lovely cottage very close to my school. But it was not easy and I was unbelievably behind at first in my classes thanks to the commute.

The bottom line is that we lost an amazing student....

Now I take my fellow students here to heart since I recognize that all the people I know with successful jobs acquired them through connections...in most cases grad school connections. The other people I am studying with now are crucial to my future career and I know it. There is no time like the present to jump in and start doing what is right.

So I ran for student body office. I figured it would bolster my ability to express my ideas that can change these situations for the better. I had already been thinking of running but I was not officially convinced until after I talked with Veronica until one in the morning, holding each other's hands with words.

I think this school is perfect, but I see room for new ideas...such as a real emergency housing situation to be within the school's scope. It was hard to find that my situation was not the hardest in that department....there are others who came from other countries and had a very difficult time negotiating the rental world of this lovely town.

And that leads me to my last thing...today I find out if I win the position on the student council.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Friday at the Mosque...

 





Since the Arab Spring I had started to associate Fridays with a new round of protests in Arabic countries. I was not feeling happy with Fridays since I am studying Arabic societies and it is hard to know that the most volatile day is also the most Holy. When you study a culture, they switch from being “the other” and turn into being people, just like yourself….I have felt this way for some time about the Arabic World. I don’t want to see other people explode into violence at all but especially on a Holy Day…it crushes me. One of the saddest aspects has been watching the mixture of a Holy Day and the over zealous nature of politics creating a match scenario that sets off the tinderbox of violence.

Last week we were in our orientations and class preparations. This week is the first week of the real deal. I actually went to my first real policy classes and language courses after working so hard to get here.

I have seen way too much of that violent aspect of International Relations and it was time to follow through on a wish I have had for a long time. I have really wanted to reverse this trend in my thinking poorly about Fridays and my wish was granted by my new friend Serena.

Serena took me with her to the mosque.

Serena is a beautiful woman who wears the traditional head scarf of a muslim woman.  I have had a fascination with hijabs them since to me they seem to exude elegance or class….a sophistication that I don’t usually have in my bearing and the way I carry myself.

Serena carries herself with this elegance and sophistication yet she reminds me of girls that were cheerleaders when I was in high school. There elegance made me feel more awkward then I already was, but it was reassuring since it seemed that they were saying with their friendship that I was fine the way I was normally.

In fact Serena was a lovely person to spend a lunchtime with…we discussed politics, boys and men, Christians, muslims, Americans and Arabic people. The entire time she oscillated between being witty, gentle, humorous and deeply thoughtful. It was like scoring a conversation with Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani Prime Minister for two consecutive terms.  Serena was beautifully attired in a hijab/headscarf that had sparkles that accentuated her sparkle in her eyes.

Serena invited me to go to her mosque when I told her I have always wanted to attend one. She did not miss a beat. She welcomed the idea of taking me personally to experience a prayer session with her the next day.

Years ago I told a couple of my Sonora friends, Maryanne and Jane, that I wanted to eventually pray my way around the world. People who knew me thought this was odd since I am not the regular church going sort. If you ask me to label myself I think I might be most comfortable with pagan…I like the holiday-food oriented nature of it. I like the way it views every religion as valid and holding keys to truth. I guess I think of the whole world as my church and all of its people as my brethren…..but I like cultural playing…I love to dance as if I belonged to whatever the specific culture I am in today is…last week I was Turkish at the Turkish Festival….they were real and human and loving and fun. I spent the weekend being Turkish…I could feel it…I dressed like a Turk….I looked around and tried to act like a Turk…I used Turkish phrases…I drank Turkish alcohol, (part of my quest to learn to hold alcohol…I can’t be the diplomat who can’t hold her alcohol!), and Turkish coffee and Turkish Tea…I ate like a Turkish woman and I felt like a Turk. There is one thing I did not get to do that I would have wanted to do if I had visited Turkey…I would have prayed at a church there.

When you feel the rituals and church life of a community I think you switch gears to a deeper level. You no longer feel the surface of their minds or their bodies through dance and words but in prayer I feel like I suddenly become in tune with their hearts.

Hence my excitement at attending a mosque. I have studied the biographies, politics, home life and languages of the Arabic World for years….now I had an opportunity to feel their hearts.

I leapt at the chance when Serena presented it…

I had scarves and an open loving heart when Serena met me at the car.

She played me a lovely chant called a Nasheet…I was able to sing along for a bit since it was repetitive.

The nasheet washed away my worries that I was harboring about the US intervention into Syria. I had been listening to John Kerry’s speech just prior to picking Serena up, which spelled out the need to stop chemical weapons and their usage against people in a Damascus suburb in graphic detail.

Another element was upsetting my soul. I have many friends that I have suddenly acquired from all over. A few are boys from different programs than mine….I feel a friendship and motherly, protective vibe about all of my fellow students but these guys are my buddies…one is from one of the Carolinas…another from Finland…two are from Pakistan. They are there for me…last night they showed up when my car died in the dark of the parking lot….

But my protective mother side has always worried about any military action since we are talking about boys and girls from our culture and theirs, (whomsoever that may be this year!)…but now military actions are including not just my own sons and daughters but friends that I have grown rather fond of…here on my new campus…

Peace is important…everyday…I meet new people that it would hurt to lose…people with real smiles and real eyes and great senses of humor.

This collective bunch at my school, might go home and now I can never again think of Pakistan as an abstract concept or a line on a map…Pakistan is now filled with grad students…and their families.

When I entered the mosque I was filled with emotion.

Serena gently guided me into the ladies area.

No longer is a mosque a foreign concept. I listened to the Imam give his sermon. He was an eloquent speaker. I only understood occasional Arabic words…but I could feel the emotion in the room…the love spilling out everywhere.

I had washed my hands and feet in preparation for ritual of Friday prayer so I felt cleansed of any negativity I had hung onto from the morning’s experiences of car problems and sad world news.

Instead my focus was now on the kindly ladies around me. One of the ladies grabbed me by the hand and showed me lovingly where to stand. She took off her own scarf and straightened my hair with a smile on her face, even though my recalcitrant hair kept finding ways to spill out from under the hijab.

I copied everything she did with the best precision I could muster. As we prayed, the children and toddlers played quietly. I found myself weeping quietly…tears streaming down my face…this service was filled with love, these people were love. I have never in my life prayed so fervently for world peace before.

The woman who lovingly straightened up my hijab and hair, gave me the beautiful scarf she had used to tame my wild short mane of hair…I was touched….it turned out it was her son who was the imam giving the sermon.

Serena and I talked afterwards about the world’s trajectory. We decided that things are already headed towards a peaceful planet already…I told her I want my work to be a part of it all…I don’t know how but it sure would be fun to help that side of things, the peaceful side of discussions…grow bigger…

Before I went to bed I found myself writing about all of this which has been swirling about in my head…and it occurred to me that maybe the best way to help create a more peaceful world is to have more of us cross the lines and pray together in each other’s churches…where our hearts are laid bare and our motives disappear

Here it is Sunday….and I can’t get over how positive I feel about Arabic Fridays now…no longer will I cringe, expecting a new round of fighting…from now on I will realize that Friday, in the Arab world is a time for reflection and prayer…now I will remember the violence I see on TV, is but a small group, while the vast majority of muslims are doing what Christians do on Sunday….praying…with their hearts full of gratitude and love…just like I experienced in our church’s here.

I guess on this Holy day for my culture, I will reflect on peace and globalization…peace is seeming to loom larger then I realized….sort of breaking out everywhere inexplicably finding a way to connect two people like Serena and I from completely different cultures.

 

wal hamdu lillah                                                     وول الحمد لله

 

 

 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Orientation...orienting one's self....



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Orientation

It is a strange thing to look at one's life and see intense change. I think I have now experienced that exact same phenomenon in the last few months. My graduation from Oregon State University has hailed the comings  of a very new version of me.

I had many points yesterday when I realized how much more life has peaks in it where I can sense a large increase in the amount of joy I am experiencing. It is almost a palpable difference.

I can see it in my pictures that I take for my Social Media of choice. The Terri of June 1st has a sadness in her eyes.

At that point I was reduced to living with a boyfriend whose ability to acidly shift from a deep penetrating love to cold silence had me confused and sad. I adored him and I adored his kids...but every shred of joy was squeezed from the relationship by the fact that I had once again found myself with a personality that, from my perspective, was erratic. It felt like there was no continuity for me.

                                                              
That was in sharp juxtaposition to my Ex husband. He was always the same personality….goofy humor….which after spending a month in Wales with relatives I now see as a very Welsh sense of humor….but never intense and sudden changes in personality. I had to admit that suddenly finding myself with a guy who looks the same but acts completely different from the man I was just talking to is a startling and unpleasant experience for me.

To me, I now know a key to my joy is to seek a more stable personality in romantic encounters. I like a guy who is the same guy no matter the weather. I saw a lot of men like that when I was in Wales. The guy who is the steady sea captain type who does not get overly excited at each small squall.

As I wrote that last sentence it occurred to me that I am the other who gets excited at being given a glass of wine or crushed because I am unclear about Financial Aid.

It is not that there was anything wrong with those erratic guys, just the fact that they weren't good fits after all.

In much the same manner that relationships have good fits and bad the same goes for lives and the lifestyle we find ourselves living in….some places allow my personality to really blossom. Some places almost squish the life out of us.


I feel strongly that everyone should  live joyfully no matter the situation, but when I compare this week of high stress and high joy....I see a much happier version of me. Don’t get me wrong it has been pretty intense but fun no matter how you slice it.

I had a moment on Monday...my first real day of Grad School. We watched a presentation my favorite counselor had put together that included phrases sent in by half of the students.

The whole thing was clever and fun and interesting. I felt like I fit and related to the words being presented. I was in a room full of people from many countries and many situations...and I felt such belonging that it struck me as odd.

This was a room full of strangers yet it was a room full of passionate people. Everyone's hidden interest was to somehow save a part of the world. Thanks to my experiences since 2008 I am passionate about poverty alleviation. I see a world with Freedom from Want…and I want to help in the march towards creating that for everyone...thanks to my own struggle with poverty and foreclose I realized I am passionate about squarely dealing with poverty on a global scale. I also see it as a way to raise women worldwide out of oppression…and bring children into more healthy happy lives. It seems to me that this is already in the process of unfolding around us and it is not only possible it is probable…and I want to be a part of it.

To find myself with so many others seeking practical tools to obtain lofty goals, was kind of breathtaking.

I take as an example our young student body president. He spoke passionately about the college's commendable goal to cut our carbon footprint drastically this year.

We were all given a travel mug for hot and cold beverages and even given a permanent marker to put our names on it as well. Then we were told to use it instead of cups on campus...I was thrilled...the cafeteria provided the hot water for my daily tea for free here as well making this more convenient then buying a drink on the way.

A few hours later, still wearing his suit jacket, that same student body president picked meticulously through the trash at the cocktail party mixer the school gave at the end of the day. He was plucking recyclables…digging fervently through the food and wine that could stain that jacket he was wearing.  He was doggedly focused yet still politely chatted while continuing his task of changing our school’s relationship to trash.

I guess as I wrote this my only regret was not joining him…but I was also learning the value of a skill I have always had as well…it was important to socialize and interact with my classmates…learning about others I would be spending the next two years with at this school of choice….so I stayed in the conversations instead of joining him…it was my first day after all….but I know…next time I spot him doing that chore….I am joining him…because I care about the school’s relationship to trash now too. His passion about this issue has awakened a healthy dose of passion about it in me.

I was impressed! He really meant everything he said about reducing the school's global footprint!

When I ran across our young president at the local Farmers Market, I told him my appreciation for his commendable passion. He downplayed it casually acting like it was simply "follow through" on his part.

While at the farmer’s Market I was with a group of new students. My favorite is a guy from Pakistan whose calm, clever humor reminds me of my oldest son, but this was a wonderful diversified collection of newbies. I walked on with our little group trying on expensive yet high quality Peruvian sweaters. I felt like they would match the chillier climate I found myself living in now that I was on the coast instead of inland in the dry heat.

A tangle of poles housed many parrots and cockatiels rescued by a kindly handsome older gentleman. I talked to a lovely pink bird that cooed at me before beckoning me to let him on my finger. My new plumed bird friend clutched gently as he tucked his head on tight to my neck reminding me of puppies I had loved and raised before, years ago.

Apparently this flock of loving birds were in need of homes and my heart suddenly ached to mother this lovely feathered friend.

As the man who saved them all chatted up others I thought of this community I suddenly found myself in after a lifetime of wanting to go here...he was also like the rest of the student body I had met this week...passionate and loving....wanting no recognition for his efforts just simply the joy of watching his birds go to loving homes seemed enough for him. I knew he was not making enough from his little jar of tips to pay for a life. It probably all was used to help feed the birds. Yet it was also obvious that the birds were his passion…his mainstay.


All I can say is the picture of Terri chortling with a bird on her hand looks infinitely more happy then the sad faced me looking doe eyed  from her old life of a few months ago.






Friday, August 2, 2013

Talking To A Publisher....,

When waiting with intense frustration and overloaded with stress....I search for a task I can do that will make me happy. It is just what I do. I had a previous boyfriend refer to  this quality as "unfocused" but I think of it as my way of dealing with frustration.  I never thought that his way was wrong so it bothered that he felt so strongly that I needed to be more like him to be happy but that explains much about why we are not together.

So I woke early and instead of studying work I am hopelessly behind in... I found a publisher that is interested in my work and for the record I have always been into their work as well.

Hay House Publishing is very into positive thinking and focusing forward.

This is a perfect fit.

The deal is that I am not interested in print copies of my works that I have finished yet but want to get a fair deal for the work I started this week.

They are calling me in September to see where I  in my book about my life after my  dear Ex-husband came out in 2005.

That gives me a month to write the promised 150 pages more I need to express. I am interested in creating a positive template for others going through lots of changes.

Send me a good luck vibe......aside from having kids....this might be the most important thing I have done in a while...,..

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writing my First Chapter....



I did it!!!

This is a big deal to me!

I wrote about one of the top most emotional days of my life....a day my Ex-husband and I held in a secret lock and key mode. A private moment that changed our lives forever.

It is strange to think that I can have such experiences when you realize I am in my school library....fog outside my window indicates I am very close to the ocean. I am wearing a suit and scarf..heavy wool coat off for the moment tossed over the back of the chair. As I write this the Arabic words are rolling through my head for all that I am writing. But I am focused on English for the moment.

I just printed out copies and punched holes in the new lists of vocabulary words I will add to my growing list of words to study in this beautiful language that I can now say and understand. Arabic speaks to me in such a lovely manner. It is shocking how differently each set of us humans can communicate with one another.

I look like a together scholar. Perhaps because I am. I was asked directions by a man of comparable age when I was getting out of my car a few minutes ago. We talked while I led him to his much needed building. He didn't think I was a student. He thought I was a teacher here.

I kind of feel different here. I am not at all the sleepy little housewife who seemed to always get embroiled in political stuff back home.

I don't think I would be tossed aside by authorities as easily any more.

I know I am still that loving housewife of so many years ago who was simply working on her community in an effort to create a world she wanted to count as healthy and happy for her kids....but I am a much more solid person at the present.

I can reveal my innermost secrets and not lose power but gain from it instead. I feel as if my deeper awareness of who I am and what I believe has made me a stronger presence then I was before.

I still bake bread and cookies. I still glory in a well mopped and polished floor. I like to tidy the granny squares on my couch at the end of the day. I also care about what I am wearing and what sort of me I present to the world.

But I am also a stronger business presence as well. I don't simply look like I have a clue.

I am positive I do have a clue now. Not about everything of course. Some days I haven't a clue about anything at all. Those are my favorite days of all to be honest. But I know what it is like to walk through fire and look back on it with a wiser more spiritual view.

I also know what it is like to soar to great heights and feel the wind under my wings.

I wrote about a crushing and important moment in my life. I had my Ex husband read it and give me feedback. He said I wrote about it eloquently.

All I know is that day that our lives changed forever turned out to be a blessing for both of us. I was happy in my old life but perhaps I was not all that I was supposed to be yet.....today I feel much closer to that Terri....the one I signed on to become. If he had not been himself that day....I might not have found the Terri I am now....and I really like this version of me.

I guess the bottom line is that I am grateful that I experienced that day so I could get here to today, in this library, in my dream school.

It was one of the worst days of my life but in a lot of ways it was a gateway to here....which makes it one of the best days of my life...thank Goodness he was brave enough to venture out and be himself and help us both move to where we needed to go. I almost feel like he made an investment in our future by biting the bullet that day.

Please consider buying my story, Coming Out Into The Light...it is $2.99 on my bookstore but it is only the first chapter....the rest will be bundled together but this one stands alone....
                                                                                               www.terripugh.com




Friday, July 26, 2013

Fun in the Fog.....


Typical!! My eyes are squinched up so small you can't see them...my eyes have been gone since I got here....all the time....I am happy a lot at my school.

I am having crazy twists to my days here in this Arabic Intensive Program!!

I have been sick for three days. Really sick....I never get headaches or other ailments...but this one knocked me out for days. I actually stayed in bed for a whole day...I haven't done that since pregnant....

So missing three days of this program is like missing 3 weeks of a regular semester class.

I was weak, shaky and sick when I reappeared, selfishly thinking of how I could not afford to miss another day...remember I was already running behind...even though I love Arabic, this language was hard for me anyway...hence my reason for getting into this program. This is a language I have not been able to use much and I really needed to have a refresher.

 As some of you know I went to Italy...that is my best language. But my school does not have it. So it was important to get my other languages rolling. Arabic and Spanish are my two primary languages now to study for the next couple of years.

But after being sick for three days...I mean just yesterday I was weak and sick in the afternoon still....slowly moving and walking.

Today, through the twists of life here in a busy place...I found myself dancing the Debkah with friends from the Arabic program!! I had already learned the dance ages ago...I brought all of my crazy scarves to share...I love the noisy ones that jingle.

After I write this I am leaving the house in my same bangled outfit to hang out with my Arabic program friends and hookah.

Hence my joy at finding myself in a place I love already. It has only been since June 17th but I am loving this place!

But to be honest, I found the hookah in 2009 a few blocks away with Astronomy friends. I was so excited I carried my little plastic tip in my purse to remind me it was OK to indulge in "college experimentation" while studying. I think the young people who included me in their hookah party at a restaurant helped me to really grow from the housewife I was to an interesting housewife who is now a graduate of two colleges and starting my third. I owe those students a lot.

In spite of yet another cold foggy day....I am so grateful to be studying and playing with really cool cultures like this one!! I don't know which is more foreign and interesting....Arabic or grad school...Either way I am sure happy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Changes Can Hurt....Missing Tom, Stuff and Language Opportunities....

About 15 months ago...Manny burned some food while I was in Europe...I just cleaned those pots yesterday. It has been along time since I have had my own pots and pans out. Though I have always been pretty easy going with what people did with my stuff....leaving my dogs and cat without food or care and my piano and everything else without a closed door between it and the world kind of ranked as a heinous crime....not that I am holding a grunge....I just remembered I was irritated with him when I washed whatever was burned onto the pot.

Last weekend I said goodbye to one of the funniest people I have ever known. In my whole life I have only had two uncles....in Arabic he was the only person I could call "aumie" which means father's brother.

My dad only had one brother and now he is gone. But his side of the family had the most kids on it and it was strange for my own children to find anyone near their own age on the family tree but their one close cousin they see all the time.

For this last weekend we gathered to honor my Uncle.

Aside from being able to experience being a family again....I also got some pots and pans...and my sister knew I had not had the cash to restock my kitchen so she provided us with 2 bags of groceries she raided form her own pantry....I gratefully took them and carefully filled some shelves with items no kitchen should be without. I also brought down movies that we own and clothes...precious clothes.

I had been wearing a few suits to school every day.....I desperately needed sweatshirts and pants in this land of fog and wet air. My son was excited enough to care about having more then a few T-shirts to wear again.

I can't really say I am having an easy time but I am flying through my Arabic even doing the worst in the class, I have to be proud when I compare it to my progress before....I found my notes from my previous class and we have passed where we were when I had stopped my Arabic last time at over a year's worth of studies....That is amazing when you consider I started this class on June 17th!! What a productive month!!! I am thinking in Arabic now to the point of it rolling around in my head. I go in for a talk to the head of the department tomorrow for an early morning meeting and I am going to admit that my priority needs to change in order to pass the test in Spanish this late August. I think if I had my way I would throw myself into all the tutorials and push for speaking to make sure my head is hearing and thinking in Arabic....I also think I should push for more Arabic news and kid's shows when I am not in class....but I also have to plug into the class priority of grammar...I double checked and this grade does not count towards any of my courses in the MA program so I am free to prioritize....

Anyway I thought that all three tied together in my head...my changing relationship with old and dear family...letting go of my past resentments with a love gone wrong...I think it is time to stop feeling cynical with  the past romances and the crazy turns they took too....also it is wise to analyze all of these things from a less emotionally charged place....honestly I just feel so grateful for clothes instead of noticing my pots were misused....and to be at my dream school studying two languages is a bonus in anyone's book....and to have gathered more people into my life to love....feels like a good reason to feel good not bad....I think it is time to be out there more and take more chances...I am pretty sure I will get hurt again...but I can also have a blast too in the process....what is that country song's lyrics, "I hope you dance!" ....I guess I choose dancing....! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time for a Victory Dance.....

The average age here is 27 years and I am twice that...but this group is serious and studious and intelligent. They are not prone to emotional outbursts which is a far cry from the Community College level campus that I attended in this area in 2008. I did a lot of schoolwork near the football player's hangout in the library and they were prone to happy wild outbursts, even in the library. I think they were intelligent too...but they were not so calm as this group has a tendency to be.

 Picture this. I am in a stately quiet cafeteria on my grad school's campus....I finally finished the last important task of a very long day. You can hear a pin drop. I have been in studies since 9 am....I attended a seminar after class. I talked to the office that has brilliant people I want to intern for in the political realm and  they want me after talking to the office I had already worked for in the past. I finally sent off my revived resume this late afternoon as per their instructions to get the job....it is 6:30 pm....my son watches a streaming video by my side.

I couldn't help myself.

I jumped up and engaged in a Victory Dance....I jumped up and down, up and down in my suit....with my hands up in the air....and let my noisy footfalls slap as loud as  they could!

I have had a lot of ups and downs since I last wrote in my blog. I have to celebrate my little victories.

I flunked a crucial test in Arabic this week. But my Arabic has been increased 10 fold through having such an intense and constant Arabic experience. I have been the person in the class who has let my team down through being the lousy Arabic speller, over and over again....but I can't help it....I am so proud of myself I could bust.

I have had humiliating lows....getting that important test back with red marks all over it and a note from the teacher saying "We need to talk..."

Daily it has been sickening to be the person who reads the slowest in Arabic....in every language I have always loved reading aloud...I have attended many extra tutorials to work on my reading here in Arabic. But as fast as I am learning there is so much more smoothness I need to acquire to be fluent sounding....but I can't get there without stumbling through my Arabic reading level of today....so I ask myself to ease up and just read....I never raise my hand in this class....it goes against everything I have always known about myself to avoid the first round of hand raising, but each chance I get I linger and hold back....I feel like I am a different person here.

But I can't help but feel good....

I have received terrible accusatory notes that have nothing to do with reality from beloved buddies back home, while in class. It was so nasty a note it sent a shiver down my spine....but I still did not get all wrapped up in a multitude of calls begging for forgiveness for imagined ills. I let it go and trusted that something else can take my burdens so I can just be able to focus here on the important stuff of the moment.

I have grown a notch down here.

I have received very cruel notes while in class from a man I loved, who is suffering from an illness that might be causing the cruel...and I didn't buy into it.....I stayed aloof..I recognize something important is going on down here. I don't even want to talk to him again. I can now officially let it go...it is as if he does not exist anymore. I just can't devote any more time and energy to that mess while trying to accomplish what I am working on here.

I am now a professional. I am a grad student. I have been welcomed back to work for my favorite internship and I feel good about myself in spite of not doing a perfect job in class!!
I have acquired a life I enjoy here every moment and I know it can lead me to a life with even greater opportunities to be who I am trying to become.

I go to the beach daily. I study every single day before I get dressed and ready for the day I have usually done at least 3 hours of work on my grad school life. Before I go to bed I have usually done at least 5 hours after my 9-2:30 day of school. I am working myself to a frazzle but I feel so good it outweighs all the stuff that usually would make me feel bad.

The humiliating misspellings in Arabic...my ear cannot seem to hear the difference yet between this "d" sound and that one so I guess with my favorite "d" letter in Arabic. More than 1/2 the time I am wrong with something.

One day an exasperated teammate came up to the board, took my pen away and said, "You're no where near close."

He was not being mean....he was trying to rescue me, I felt....but it still stung like crazy!

Regardless, I really like my group...there is another class I could switch to which might be more in line with my levels....but I don't want to go.

I don't have to pass this final test like so many others. I am here to immerse myself in Arabic, which I am accomplishing. As long as the class is not complaining, I want to stay here....this group is where my immersion is already in progress and that is all that matters at this point.

I also have a line on a paying position here on campus in an office I already really like.....they have been really fun to talk to each time I have had the fortune of needing their expertise.

So I might be barely eating on some days....or riding my car's tank down to empty on a weekly basis....I have to say though....life is awesome....right now.

As I was writing in my blog here a sweet person came up and asked me if I was Terri. I replied I was and engaged in a lovely conversation with yet another very intelligent person....this place is chock full of intelligence!

I trotted out a few of my favorite sayings in Chinese which are not understood in China town, San Francisco, when I am lucky enough to eat out there. I also was able to converse politely with a few sayings here and there. Not much to be honest but enough to make the year of Chinese study worthwhile. I offered her help with any English papers she had going on this next term...it was amazing...to be here, to be studying to be with so many people who are interested in language!

I guess that was why I had to do a Victory Dance in a public place....to be even anywhere near the caliber of the people I am surrounded by....just feels good.....

I deserve a Victory Dance.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Getting Everything I Ever Wanted

I woke feeling such joy and appreciation! I am so grateful to be here! I am living one of my biggest dreams. Studying such a cool, beautiful and exotic language....saturating myself in it....I can't tell you how many times in a day that I unplug from the classroom and just feel joy. This is not just something I have always wanted, this is one of my biggest and best dreams come to life and I am here.

It is hard to describe what it feels like to get exactly what you were convinced was too high and lofty a goal for most of your life. It is satisfying, fun, difficult and even frustrating. But when I get frustrated I can feel my whole being laugh inside. It knows I LOVE every single moment.

I know I also seem to almost enjoy the struggle of my finances too.... But I think that struggle is petering out. It is alot more fun to allow my mind to unknot the mysteries of another language, then to get lost on unnecessary struggle. Well that is my belief.... If every thought is a prayer, then we are getting what we are thinking. I think it is time to be the successful grad student now...I am no longer the scared housewife who just lost her house. I now have to put on my business suit and accept the success that is my fate.

I can't teach others how to live prosperously if I am mired down in self doubt.

As soon as the class is up next month I will focus on putting out the other book I had written but today only my first book is for sale on my website. Available for kindle or PC. www.terripugh.com

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Backstory

So I wrote my book Confirmations at a time when I knew my marriage was ending. It was not a happy time for either of us though we made the best of it. Since we had been together for decades we were confused as to where each of us ended and the other began. We were almost fused into one person.

I remember writing  Confirmations helped me to feel better. It was filled with my usual daily prayers. But it helped me release the pressure. I could release alot of the sorrow through writing...breathing and meditating.

Therefore the book I have for sale was my first foray into delving inward and expressing outward.

Well I guess that is not entirely true. I have my first diary still today...in my  storage unit with all of my other stuff. I started it at 16 years of age as a teen at my high school where I went to school with some of the finest human beings on earth. Of course I did not know that they were then, so I found time with them to be tension filled. I did not know then the tension came from within me. My diary blames my frustrations on everyone around me instead of seeing it was all my mindset.

I would like to say that now I would never be so naive or miss the truth so completely but I  am guilty of falling for the illusion quite often, even today.

That 16 year old Terri's diary, bumped along through the football season of a junior year, seemingly rambling about nothing, when something amazing happened.

That Terri ran across her future husband and the father of her 3 children.

The diary tells all about it.

I guess my blog is my new fangled version of expressing my experience.

And my book Confirmations was my expression of release as I stumbled through one of the most crushing times of my life.

The only thing that made it tolerable was that my husband was as miserable as I was. His response was truly remarkable. He loved and supported me through it all. He gave me time for writing and nurtured my soul as it expressed itself.

That is the background of my book. It is not in hard copy yet. But my vision sees that as entirely possible someday. For now I sell it as a downloadable book at my bookstore for $10.

www.terripugh.com

Buying it will help me to keep afloat for a month or so until I can make ends meet here at grad school.

Thanks for reading this...and thanks for all your good vibes.