[side project, side blog]

Alright – finally got my side project going.

Head on over to https://3rdcultureadult.wordpress.com/ for a very specific lens on life.

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[from the vault: “aesthetics” – the art of getting hit on (?) at Starbucks]

Here’s one from December 13, 2012 at a Starbucks in Nashville. 

I went to the new “my Starbucks” here in Nashville.

Two amazing things happened today.

1.) Cute, singing baristas.

Two very cute, male baristas stopped in their tracks, faced each other, and proceeded to sing “welcome” or “merry christmas” or whatever it was into their headsets for the next customer who drove up in the drive-thru window.

Amazing.

And they KILLED it.

2.) The card

As I was leaving Starbucks, a random elderly gentleman approached me and handed a card. He didn’t speak in full sentences. He just looked very apologetic and handed me the card.

My first instinct was that he was begging for money or wanted to convert me into something, so I didn’t read the card then and there (it’s that kind of neighborhood). I read it as I left.

This is what it said:

Starbucks

Yes, this happened.

I googled him later and found that he was a rapper when he was younger, he was a navy man, and he WAS married but is now single and in Nashville. OH, and he is an author. His book is on Amazon.

Oh, Starbucks.

Oh, Nashville.

The gift that keeps on giving.

[from the vault: super smart man, super cool jewelry]

Here’s one from the vault. From July 11, 2011. Wow. 

My friend and I walked to the Ferry Building today because the weather was absolutely beautiful. On the way, we stopped by the Henry Bridges Plaza, right between the Ferry Building and Embarcadero Center, where there were a bunch of small arts and crafts booths set up for the day.

As my friend bought some awesome new copper and silver bracelets, I wandered over to a lone man in a smaller-than-others booth with some cool equipment on his teeny table.

Turns out, he makes jewelry – more specifically rings and washer pendants – out of quarters and silver half dollars. He hammers and shapes the coins so that you can see the year it was minted and anything else that is characteristic of the coin. The best part – it was only $5.

As I was taking forever to find the correct size for my birth-year-quarter ring, my friend and I ended up chatting with the guy for a good 20 minutes about everything and anything. And my gosh, was the man smart!

He told us that he got his high school diploma when he was 17, after spending 5 years in HS and was a solid C student only because the school wasn’t teaching him anything he was interested in. Then he proceeded to start explaining mathematical and scientific theorems, spewing out numbers off of the top of his head. At first I thought he was just some guy BS-ing his way, trying to sound smart. But when I recognized the theorems and equations he was talking about, I knew this guy was for real.

He talked in standard deviations and how when he first met his wife 40-something years ago (his wife, apparently, is an ESL teacher), he told her that he was a straight C student. He also explained to her that C students run the world, because they took the most space on a bell curve. Then a few years later he decided that it was the F and A students who create opportunities for the C people. And then he started talking about deviations and statistic again and he lost me.

I’m finding that some of the smartest people I meet have only graduated HS and haven’t gone to university.

Honestly, he was just super cool, interesting, intelligent and fun to talk to. And he ended up giving us a discount on our rings and pendants!

I’m definitely learning to be more open to talking to (non-sketchy) strangers in the city. You learn the coolest things about life, people, and make new friends!

[TCK x POC in the US: the role of TCKs in diversity discussions in the US]

I’ve written about TCK-ness in past posts (like here, and here, and here). This topic is not new to me. It will also never be retired because it is such a crucial part of my identity.

And now that I am a working professional in student affairs in a leading higher education institution, I’m having to think through this identity again from a different lens.

Working at a well-known, leading West Coast Higher Education Institution (eek, mouthful), especially as a Student Affairs professional, we are never short of “diversity initiatives” and professional development goals related to diversity. As we train student leaders, we, professionals, are expected facilitate discussions and dialogue around race, ethnicity, social justice, sexuality, gender, class, etc.

I’m struggling.

Let me clarify, however, that I’m not struggling to facilitate the conversations. Facilitating discussion as a third party not asked to share my own experiences – I can do. My struggle is trying to engage in these discussions from a personal level that is meaningful to the greater group.

What do I mean?

When I engage in conversations about class, gender, and sexuality, I can share about my experiences as a heterosexual woman who attended a private school her whole life and was brought up in the luxuries of middle-class life.

When it comes to race, ethnicity, and social justice, however, the words “Third Culture Kid” play in a marquee in my brain, flashy lights and all.

I never grew up in the US as a minority – thus my default is not to engage in conversations of racial and ethnic diversity from the view of a person of color (POC) in the US. My default is to engage in it from an outsider perspective, a third party from another country who hasn’t experienced life as a minority in the US. My world map is centered around the Pacific Ocean – not the Atlantic.

This, of course, is not a wholly accurate as I am entering my 9th year living in the US and I’ve had my fair share of experiences that show me first hand what it’s like to be a minority in this country. Yet, when I enter discussions of diversity and social justice in the workplace or with my students, I just don’t have the same set of experiences from which to pull.

This makes me feel insufficient and ill-prepared to enter into any diversity and social justice conversation professionally. My TCK-ness has prepared me for “global perspectives” (whatever that might actually mean) and a hefty passport, but it has not prepared me for how to be an American Person-of-Color in the US – or at least how to experience it and critically analyze the experience.

But I don’t want to diminish my TCK identity – it is who I am, informs how I contextualize the world, and has gotten me to where I am today.

So how do I marry my TCK identity with my new found identity as a POC in the US?

Right now, I’m starting from what I don’t know – what it means to be Asian/Pacific Islander in the US and where we are in conversations around Race and Ethnicity in Higher Ed in the nation.

But I don’t suspect that I’ll figure out the answer to my questions any time soon.

[go back to writing]

Oh hey! Remember me?

Nope.

Yeah, neither do I.

I have no excuse. I just haven’t been writing.

Mostly, I haven’t given myself the time to think.

Unless you count the times I sit down with friends and talk about life. And I process like that. And it works. But I haven’t written about anything in a while. And when I have… Well… I haven’t written anything that really matters.

So, secrets of adulthood #7 – go back to writing.

First google search image for “write”

You think clearer when you write.

Instead of spending 30 useless minutes on Facebook – write.

Instead of watching another episode of Caste – write.

Instead of sitting there frustrated and feeling sick to your stomach – write.

It’s as simple as that.

Or at least write some stuff in your common place book – if you can’t write your own words, write someone else’s. Make that college degree count for something.

 

Oh. And don’t forget to floss.

And renew your passport.

[relationships and reflections]

Ah, it’s been so long.

And now the first year of school is behind me, so perhaps it is time to reflect.

First of all – The man sitting next to me is coding. I feel at home (the man talking to him has an iPhone 3… and now I remember I’m back in Nashville).

Now.

I’m impressed and somewhat surprised at how much I enjoyed this past year.

Novelty?
Escape?
Maybe.

There’s something exciting about newness. I also enjoy being back in the classroom on the student side. And there’s a lot for which to be thankful.

I came in thinking that this experience was going to narrow my life path – but who am I kidding? First of all – no such thing as one path. Secondly, I forget that school generally leads to more knowledge, which usually leads to more paths.

So now I’m back at square 1 (or something) and I have to reassess what it is that I want to do.

In the mean time, I’ve hit my threshold of socialization and I need to hibernate again. It’s that “end of the school year I’ve been around too many people so let me just hide for a while” feeling.

Which reminds me – a thought about people and relationships.

Not necessarily romantic; all relationships.

I’ve recently realized that I have an even lower threshold for BSers and bad friends.

If you invite me out to a meal for the weekend, then follow up and tell me if it’s still happening. If you tell me and you decide to retract the invite, then tell me. If you promise to stay in better touch, then stay in better touch. If you text me to ask me how I’m doing, you’ve opened a conversation – so finish it.

I understand I have equal control over these situations. I can reach out and follow up and ask if the meal is still happening. But I didn’t plan it, so I’m not going to waste my time.

Which I guess is a lot of words to say – I need to let some people go and concentrate on those who make me happy and for those who care.

I already know this.

It’s just don’t like that sad moment where I realize and come to terms with the fact that I have to let someone go.

That said, I’m also probably better for it.

And let’s be real – I’m pretty versed in the art of unreliable and disappointing friends, so just another cycle we go.

 

Alright, friends – what am I going to do with my life?

[that of which I inhabit]

Flip back and forth
I keep checking for traces of
memories
of hope and maybe
just maybe you see me in the stars

march and you fell out
of love with the world and in
to love with your dreams
or your reality
neither of which I inhabit

so then I tried
and tried
and tried
to get you to remember why

because I’ve been climbing
uphill to forget you

one giant leap forward and I’ll move
on to the next adventure
or my reality
neither of which you inhabit

and I am lost in the beauty of
down under
and lost in the pain of what was
and who knew that two rivers could lead to two
different oceans

i will live a better life
be strong and present
be love
and not be weighed down by
a physics symbol

we tried
I tried
maybe you tried

but you stopped trying
and you stopped caring
so I stopped wearing that peace
around my neck

but maybe you still see me in the stars
this night in march
that of which I don’t inhabit