Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm a Master's Graduate, Now What?

The blog title is the working title for the next chapter in my life.

I figured it was time to begin blogging again now that I have time to devote to the cause.  I've traveled a lot in the last year, yet a Masters program is, quite simply, a time suck.  A majority of my time traveling was spent in the Bay Area but I also returned to Arizona twice and visited Carmel, Pebble Beach, Monterey, Napa Valley, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and DC.

In a nutshell, Minnesota was not kind to me.  Aside from seasonal affective disorder, which I wasn't aware was a personal issue, Minnesota is only the second place during all of my travels where I've encountered culture shock (the first was in Utah).  However, the shock experienced in MN was entirely different in that it was crazy difficult to make friends.  Let me try to explain MN culture: it is known as "Minnesota Nice."  Except it isn't NICE at all!  I have more appropriately and accurately dubbed it "Minnesota Dick."  The stereotypical Minnesotan is passive aggressive, reserved, and will ensure that you are excluded from any conversation or gathering if you did not attend high school or undergrad with them.  Basically, if you've seen Fargo, you know what I'm talking about and if you know me at all, you know I am the exact opposite of all of the aforementioned traits.  

I attended 17 different schools K-12, moved four states away from home after high school, then joined (and separated) from the military all before traveling through Europe alone.  Making friends is not new to me, nor has it ever been difficult.  I managed to make two consistent friends during the 18 months I was in MN.  Ironically, one was not from MN and our favorite game to play when we went to the bar was "let's see how long it takes them to kick us out of their group." We would randomly select a group of people that was very clearly Minnesotan (trust me, you can tell) then throw ourselves into their group by making conversation.  Initially, one or two would idly chat back but it never took them long to literally and physically shoulder/elbow us out of their group.  Part of the game was to time how long the removal took.  The longest time was 5 minutes and 19 seconds.

Sadly, the second friend passed away on 07 January 2014.  

  Chantelle, me, and Chelsea

I spent the duration of the summer in the Bay completing a program required internship and thesis work with the Bay Area Native American Health Centers.  I was invited to be the Native Foods Expert for a cultural nutrition program that was offered in Richmond, CA and my thesis topic was focused on traditional Native foods as a means to improve health and decrease health disparities amongst the Native population throughout the Bay Area.  Despite a busy schedule, I managed to squeeze in some fun by spending a couple weekends near the Monterey Bay area or driving north to Napa Valley where I became a wine club member - possibly the most middle class, white thing I've done in my life (aside from backpacking through Europe that is).

Lucky for me, one of the besties now lives in Oahu, HI.  I spent an entire glorious week soaking up the warmth of the sun whilst paddle boarding, hiking, double-hull canoeing, and simply lounging on various beaches.  Sarah and I lived in Tucson together and always talked about doing a pedal pub tour but never got around to it. Until my visit to Hawaii!  The tour took us off the beaten path and I highly recommend it when you visit!  

On the last day we woke up early to hike Diamond Head (I think we're getting old) and then proceeded to paddle board for a couple more hours before making our way to the airport.


The Georgia, NC, and DC trip was all inclusive, although the DC portion was added on at the last minute.  It felt exhilarating to be spontaneous again and travel somewhere on a whim, which is exactly what was needed at that time in my life.  Plus I got to spend some QT with one of the other besties!

So what's next?  I won't bore you with the details of the various options but travel, work, or possibly a PhD program (I know, I know!!) are all on the table.  The immediate future (ie: in the next ten days) involves making my way back west (and south of the 40th parallel) in another U-haul.  That is assuming of course that I stop procrastinating and finish packing.

The top priorities on my list include sunshine, warmth, friends, family, and lots of laughing.  Because life is too f*cking short and smiling until your cheeks hurt whilst spending time with the ones you love is important above all else.

I miss you, Channy.


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