January 30, 2011 - 9:45 PM
So, my advice in the previous post was to keep a journal. My piece of advice for this post is to send postcards. Throughout all of my travels, I have always discussed with the friends I meet how cool it would be to send each other postcards and letters. In an age where all the snail mail you get comes in the form of bills and advertisements and where all of the personal correspondence you get arrives through 140 character text messages or instant "how r u?" emails, postcards are such a romantic and beautiful form of communication. They are such a special thing to have arrive in your mailbox. They can take an ordinary day and add the touch of spice it needs in order to become something delightfully joyful.
So, as I said, I have discussed sending them with many of my friends across the country and world and have sent a few and received a few, but eventually, it just doesn't work out. We forget or we get too busy or we just stop doing it (or never really actually start). However, my last summer trip to Atlanta, Georgia to intern at The Carter Center resulted in the most successful and joyous postcard exchange ever! While an intern, I became great friends with a fellow development intern, Nicki. Nicki and I just clicked. We had so many good times throughout the summer and so when it came to end, it was sad, but there was sort of an unspoken agreement that we would be sending each other postal love.
So far, since I left in August, we have been wonderful at keeping up with it. I'll get one from Nicki, send her one in return, and then next thing I know, there's another one in my mailbox from her! It is so fun! I just received one in my mail today from when she was on a trip to Europe over the winter. I was so excited to have something in my mailbox that could make me smile when I got home.
Postcards don't actually take much time to write and send. Therefore, more people should be taking advantage of this fun way to keep in touch. Advice: Send your friends and family postcards! They are fun to do and will light up the days of those who receive them.
January 29, 2011 - 10:10 PM
I have long been a proponent of keeping a journal. Journals are such an extraordinary thing to have in your life. They are a personal history. They are a piece of art that holds incredible memories through the smallest and simplest or longest and most complex words you choose to string together. Recently, I was reminded just how neat it is to keep one.
The other day, I found my very first journal. I started it in 1995 when I was in first grade. I got the journal when I was on a trip with my family to the Oregon Caves. My journal entries all begin with the classic little kid line, "dear journal," and are housed in a sun-faded hardcover book with a picture of a bald eagle on the cover. It was such a neat thing to read back through. It held such priceless memories and showed the progression of my growing little mind. I already have fun reading back through my current journal, but reading back through something this old was even more fun. I can only imagine years and years down the road how precious my college journal will be to me.
My journal from when I was little has entries in it from when I was in first, second, and third grade. Throughout the pages, my penmanship and spelling get better and better. Toward the final entries, I am writing up a storm and trying out my new cursive skills. I talked a lot about school and my hobbies in my entries. It was cute to see how I'd try to spell some things and what was really important to me at the age of eight. I talked a lot about my family as well. Several entries involved me going on about how annoying my brother was and how much I wanted him to leave me alone. These entries were always followed up with another entry that involved me describing how incredible I thought my brother was and how I wanted to be as smart as he was and how we had so much fun together. Go figure.
The moral of the story is - keep a journal. It is such a wonderful thing to have and to look back upon. Finding my little kid journal brought me so many smiles and laughs and memories. It is a piece of history, the footprints of a family. Keep a journal.
January 23, 2011 - 7:00 PM
I have always been a fan of journaling. Sometime during my sophomore year, I became obsessed with journals, in fact. I had about ten different kinds, each a different theme. I had a haiku journal, a dream journal, a travel journal, a regular journal, a quotes journal, a strong women journal, a gratitude journal, and the list goes on. I often found journals at stores that I just thought were beautiful and would buy them but never get around to starting them. I had grand ideas, and still do, but alas, they now just sit on my shelf awaiting my next bout of creativity.
Anyway, the point of this is that it can be difficult to keep up with journaling, yet it is such a neat thing to do. My friend recently found the perfect journal for me and I have been enjoying doing it so much. I actually encourage everyone to keep a journal like this. It is called a One Line a Day journal. It is set up so that each page has the date at the top and then has five very small sections underneath it that say "20__." So, you fill in the year and then write a one to two sentence description of your day or its overarching theme or something significant from the day. The next day, you move on to the next page and fill in the year and write something. The next day, you turn the page and repeat. When you have written something for each day, you move on to the second section on the page, fill in the new year, and describe your day. The journal has enough spaces to cover five years of short descriptions of your days and the way that it is set up allows you to be able to read what happened on a particular day over the course of five years. For example, you would be able to read what happened on January 23 for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 all on one page upon the journal's completion.
There are three reasons why I love this journal. The first is that it is so easy to keep up with. It doesn't take much time at all to write one to two lines to capture your day. The second reason why I love it is that I love being able to come up with creative, poetic ways to describe my days. I love to think of what the theme of the day was or some sort of riff that made it particularly memorable. The final reason I love it is because it is an amazing study of a life. I'm looking forward to being able to remember little moments and feelings throughout my life and be able to see if different days have similar feelings each year. I want to look for patterns and learn about myself through its five-year journey.
I encourage everyone to journal and for those who have a tough time keeping up with it, I particularly recommend this type of journal.
January 22, 2011 - 12:00 PM
Since it has consumed my life, I suppose I might as well write about it. I have been spending even more amounts of time in the library working on my thesis and have even occasionally been able to get some work done on it at home. Although it may not be the most exciting thing to read about for all of my readers, I feel it necessary to provide an update on its progress.
I met with my thesis advisor on Friday and, after about an hour of chatting, felt a lot better about where I am at. We discussed my methodology and upcoming interviews to obtain data for my topic. I was also assured that my outline for my literary review was right on track.
I have been dreading writing my literary review for a while now. The literary review basically involves going through tons of scholarly articles already written on issues concerning the field of my thesis, a.k.a. homelessness. Then, I must find the recurring themes of the literature and summarize them and how they help to better understand my topic. It is quite the process digging through so many articles and then having to find noteworthy parts and correctly cite them all and make it flow. I am going to be happy when I am done writing this because it is just getting a bit exhausting having to keep such good organization of so many pieces of information.
However, though I had been dreading it, I am also quite happy that I had to go through this process. I now feel more well versed in homelessness policy and theory than I ever have before. Knowing this information will help me in my future work and in interviewing for jobs within the field. It also gives me better talking points for expressing my ideas on homelessness solutions. I have learned so much and feel like I am truly becoming an expert in a field I am passionate about.
So far, I have written about a third of my literary review and this week, I plan on finishing my first draft of it. It is hard because I keep finding more and more articles that I want to read and include, but I have to keep in mind that I am not just writing a huge literary review, but also have many other sections that still need focus as well. I will also be working on my interview questions this week and prepping for those discussions that will help lead me to my conclusion on whether the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program is effective at creating long-run, sustainable solutions for homelessness in Lane County, Oregon.
And that, my fabulous blog readers, is my riveting update on my thesis. Onward!
January 16, 2011 - 10:30 PM
Some college students close out the bar on a Friday night. This term, I close out the library. I am now quite familiar with the "last call" for checkouts and the "five minutes until you need to get out; you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
My week two consisted of many hours of thesis work, quite a few hours of research for a project I'm doing for the UO President's Office, and another several hours writing and editing my application for the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship in D.C. I can become quite consumed in my work and find an odd amount of joy in finding the perfect scholarly article to relate to the point that I want to make on a given homelessness policy. To me, my work can be somewhat euphoric. However, there are also those moments that hit you like a bad old cold - I have no social life.
This most clearly became apparent to me this weekend. In honor of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. we have a three-day weekend. My highest gratitude to his amazing work. Anyway, for my three-day weekend, I have mostly been home, in comfy clothes, sipping tea, and reading a stack of scholarly articles on, well, homelessness policy. I did take a break to finish and submit my application to the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship (cross your fingers!), but besides that, I have mostly just been reading.
When I noticed that even my landlords (a lovely family that happens to live next door to me) were having a bumping party this weekend, I tried my best to get dressed in real world clothes and reach out to the few friends who might still know that I exist. No luck. Of course, they were already out and about doing things. They had made plans. It makes sense. I do not blame them. I have disappeared into an abyss of thesis and other research and work and they must go on with their lives. I know they wish the best for me and I wish only the same for them.
So, perhaps in summary, what this blog is trying to say about my week two is that it was pretty much the beginning of the all-consuming thesis process. I am making good progress (though, of course, I wouldn't mind being a little further ahead) and I know that the hours in the library are worth it. I find it all very fascinating and I am glad to sacrifice a bit to get it done, but I will also be happy upon its completion when I can actually have a decent social life again without theories of homelessness prevention always swirling about in the back of my head, making it near impossible to focus on any conversation.
For my own sanity, I do have a dinner date with a friend set up on Wednesday. I recognize the need to and importance of taking a few breaks here and there.