At the beginning of this month, I went to a convention for the National Federation of the Blind. It was almost an accident – I hadn’t really given much thought to attending. Years ago, I went to a state meeting with a local friend, and had a kind of hard time at the meeting and hadn’t gone back. This year, I applied to their scholarship program (and every other scholarship program I could think of or find) before I left for India. Then, about a month before the national convention, I got a call from the president of my state affiliate. He told me I hadn’t gotten a scholarship, but offered for me to go to the convention. They were doing this College Leadership Program, for a handful of students who didn’t get a scholarship, trying to get more young people involved in the organization, and so they would cover everything – airfare, hotel, registration, even a food stipend. Did I want to go?
I made a decision about which college to go to pretty quickly after returning home, and I think in many ways, I had already made the decision, deep down, beforehand. I’m going to Portland State, which is the same school that my India program went through, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m still a little sad that some of my top choice schools didn’t work out, though I’m also seeing it in some ways as what Julia Cameron would call “Gain disguised as loss,” because the more I move forward in this process, the more right PSU feels, so there’s also a part of me that’s glad some of the other schools didn’t work out.
I woke up twice in the middle of the night completely disoriented, not knowing where I was and both times it took a few minutes to figure out where I was. It was weird, b/c I had something a little similar about halfway through the trip, when we had been moving around so much and slept in so many different places that as I drifted off to sleep, in that semi-lucid in between state I’d find myself momentarily thinking I was still in Calcutta or something. It happened for a few days in a row, but what happened last night was a lot stronger and felt so much more disorienting, like it really took awhile for it to register where I was and get my mind around it. Guess that could be expected for the first night sleeping at home in over three months.
Well, after Deer Park we took a taxi to McLeod Ganj, right by Dharamsala. A lot of people in my group are loving it and loving the homestays, I am definitely not. It’s just stress central on soooo many levels. I decided not to stay on longer – for a lot of reasons, and so I’ll be going home on the regularly scheduled group flight, which should be fun. It’s kind of a bummer not to be staying but I am also so ready to be home, to not be around zillions of people all the time (that’s one of the things that bugs me most about the homestays, barely a moment of privacy or time to myself at all, ever, it’s making me crazy), and to chill out.
This post will probably be a bit shorter than usual, but there isn’t too terribly much to report, I don’t suppose. Got another ravaging of bug bites, grrr, and feeling a little run down, but overall, no complaints.
Of course after writing the last blog I thought of things I forgot to mention, like that I took a bike rickshaw ride with one of my leaders the other day, which is a lot rougher than the auto rickshaw, but cool to experience. I also wanted to say there is almost no waste system here whatsoever. I mean there is garbage all over the streets, and it gets swept up every day, and I am not even sure where it goes after that, pretty sure everything goes into the Ganga, I know the sewage does. Also, the power goes out a few times a day, like clockwork, it’s scheduled, I think if I understood correctly, it has to do with the city not being able to pay for full electricity, something like that. So it goes off for a few hours in midday, and a few hours in the evening, and there might be another time too.
Hell yeah, so much has happened in the last week, I don’t even know where to start.
My visit to Evergreen left me feeling mixed about the school. It’s a definite possibility, but not a first choice. As with just about every school, there are pluses and minuses. I’m trying to take all of that into account with each school. And I’m still not sure I’m crazy about Olympia, but I did eat some of the best thai food ever there, a green curry dish with avocado, which was so delicious, but not enough to totally make me want to move there, I mean, there are other factors, lol.
The next stop was Portland, which was OMG, a nonstop blast from the moment I got there to the moment I left. One of my best best friends from Orcas, Elynn, just moved there, and it was so great to see her, as well as my friend Kelly who I haven’t seen since I went to Coachella in 2006. It was cool to bring friends together from different places. We went out to this totally cool place called The Sapphire Hotel (which used to be a brothel) for dinner, and had a blast. The next night I went to happy hour with Kelly and one of her friends and had another blast of an evening. The next night I met with the people who run the India program. We’ve been in email communication since about July, so it was great to meet them. We went out to Thai food (second time in one week, god I love Thai food), and again, it was a total blast. On the way to drop me off back at Elynn’s, they stopped at the training place so I could meet my trip leaders.
And here’s where things get trippy. I have two trip leaders for India. The trip leaders and participants are from all over the place, and somehow in a completely mind-blowing “small world” moment, one of my trip leaders already knows me. He used to work at camp, and for anyone from Orkila who follows my blog, his name is Andrew Bruck, and he worked with a bunc of people I know. I don’t remember ever meeting him before, but it often happens that people I don’t know, know me. I’m pretty recognizable. That was a cool moment. I really enjoyed meeting my trip leaders.
My school visits were great. Well, one was so-so and one was so mindblowingly awesome I think I will cry myself into oblivion if I don’t get in. Really like dream college, like love at first sight. Being the happy and shiny optimist that I am, (sarcasm), I kept waiting for something to go wrong. Or something to not be so awesome, but it never happened. I sat in on three classes. First was a humanities lecture, which was cool (and really reminded me that I am lacking in background on the subjects of the classics, and greek/roman stuff, which is what the class was about). It was cool b/c it was obvious that the prof giving the lecture was just so knowledgeable and excited about her topic. Then I went to a conference class based on the lecture, which was a great experience where everyone in the class spoke up and debated and argued and discussed. Then I actually went to a Latin class, which I had no background in – they set me up with a student host and I just went w/her to her morning classes – but it was cool. In the class I ran into a girl who had given me directions earlier that morning, and she was super friendly and helpful. Another girl sitting next to me was also super welcoming, as was the prof. The girl sitting next to me, before the class started, told the class that she was having an intellectual identity crisis, b/c before college, she was always the smart one, and now that she’s there, everyone is the smart one and it’s kicking her ass and it’s hard. I thought it was really brave of someone to stand up and admit that to their peers like that. And someone else in the class got up and went over and gave her a hug. It was very sweet. All around, the students were awesome, and all around in Portland in general, I think I got more hugs in those few days than the rest of the year combined!
The classes were great. The classrooms were great, very conference style, interactive, with big windows. And the campus is fucking gorgeous. So is Evergreen’s, maybe moreso. Anyway I met some students for lunch, and this school had the best food so far, also a plus, I ate with another student host and her punk rocker friend, and it was awesome. They were soooo psyched about the school, loved being students there, just couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved it. They gave me heads up on what profs to take and not take. One of them had just taken an English class in which she’d read The God of Small Things, which anyone who reads this blog knows is one of my favorite books ever, total desert island book, probably the best book I’ve ever read. So, another plus. The other thing I noticed was that with every student I interacted with, I didn’t feel like I was talking to 18 year olds, if you know w hat I mean, and no one seemed like freshman, I forgot about the age difference entirely. One of the students hugged me efore we parted ways and I left for my info session, tour and interview, all of which were just fantastic. God that campus is gorgeous, and could easily satisfy my nature needs, maybe not quite as much as Evergreen’s campus, but close.
I’m a little rushed, and overflowing with things to say, so, anyway, after that and some other cool activities, and after that I had some time so decided to visit the office for students with disabilities, and again sort of thinking okay, here is where the other shoe might fall, but no. I got lost trying to find the building, then ran into a guy who works in admissions, and he walked me all the way over to the building, which was cool, and then I met with the director of disabled student services, and it honestly sounded better than most places I’ve looked at, which just blew me away. Everyone was just amazingly awesome. Think good thoughts for me to get in – it’s a tough school, and if I go it’ll kick my ass intellectually, but I’m sort of looking for that. I want to be challenged, and to really have to rise to my potential.
I so want to go there. I so loved Portland. I had nonstop fun there, including the day after my visits, just chilling w/Elynn. We got desk chairs from this Habitat for Humanities store and went over to the esplanade and the planetarium, and we both agreed we had more fun in that day than we did in all our time on Orcas. I already feel like I don’t even live on Orcas anymore, though I did keep my apartment. It’s just like that world is behind me. One of the leaders of this program, actually the director, told me this morning that he thinks it’s like I’ve been living in a cocoon for the last six years on Orcas, and now I’m coming out of the cocoon, it was really cool.
After Portland, I took the Greyhound to San Francisco and got to hang out with my friend Maryam from Camp. We had great talks and deep discussions and got caught up and hung out in the city and at the beach. I spent a few days at her house, and now I’m about to leave for my first trip ever out of North America.
Anyway, I am about to leave to go eat dinner with my India group, then go to the airport to catch my flight. So peace out, I guess. I’ll be writing from the road I’m sure. There is also a group blog anyone can read to see updates from all kinds of members of my group. I have met three of them already and am having a great time. Went out to Ethiopian food last night with the group, and they were playing TOOL and Alice in Chains in the restaurant, which just made my night.
Midnight tonight, I’ll be headed to Hong Kong, then Delhi. I can’t believe this is really real!
Check ya later, America!
I left Orcas yesterday morning, had a real nice ride w/my friend Trish to Mt. Vernon, (we watched Grey’s on the ferry ride, the episode where Meredith has her mom’s ashes at the hospital). Then I caught the Greyhound (oh the hours upon hours of my life I have spent on Greyhound buses) and got into Olympia yesterday evening. I’m sitting in the computer lab at Evergreen, waiting for my campus visit to start in an hour.
The cool thing is, on Saturday, my last day to get mail on Orcas, I got a package from Evergreen that I thought was going to be a guidebook or catalog, and it was, but it also was an acceptance letter! And I got a small scholarship for academic achievement to help offset tuition. So, that is good news so far! That makes two colleges that have admitted me so far (the other being Portland State, and my India program is through them, and I had to apply to get in in order to get credit/financial aid for India, so I’ve been accepted there since August). Two yeses, four to go. I guess I’m off to a good start, and it was really nice to see some payoff from all that work I put in, before I left.
This month I have made applying to colleges and scholarships my full-time job, and have actually spent more hours at it than at most jobs. I set myself a goal of 8 hours a day working on all of it, and I often went over and rarely took a day off. Yesterday I worked for fifteen hours with only a break for lunch. And now I feel totally fried.
In the last month, I’ve written 28 essays. If I have to write or look at another personal statement anytime soon I might spontaneously combust. I usually created each new essay by pulling from previous ones, and adjusting it for whatever particular purpose I needed, so it’s not like they were all from scratch, but still. And many were, because the questions were specific and not covered elsewhere. I have reached the limit. This isn’t even including all the short answer questions.
Here is a post from January 2009. Yes, I’m still importing old posts from back in the day, in order, and I will eventually catch up to myself. So yeah, this is from five years ago. Funny to read myself talking about applying to go back to school and all that. Seems like so much more than just five years ago. Here it is:
A complete 180 from last month, but I only continue to feel better and better. Tonight I feel downright ecstatic, not for any good reason, but there’s movement coming in my life, and it’s overdue. I’m psyched for my trip to India, and psyched for my trip to SF to fly out – not only will I visit schools (and all my visits are totally all confirmed and lined up), but I will stay with my friend Tracy, who is one of my favorite people ever, then stay with Elynn, one of my best Orcas friends who’s moving south (who I just had the best evening with), then hopefully I’llsee my friend Kelly, and then see Luke C (BTW Luke if you read this, I think a new episode of House will be on while I’m there in SF and OMG that’d be fun to watch together, I never get to watch with anyone who’s super into it, so, let’s make that happen) and Maryam. It’s going to be a wild adventure before I even get on a plane to go overseas!
From January 2009:
So, it’s 2009, and I’ve gotta say I’m pretty glad. I put some stock into the theory of the numerological year, that we go through these nine-year cycles. At least, I’ve found my years to fit this pattern pretty consistently. Last year I was in a 7 year – the lowest energy in the cycle, and have now entered the 8 year. Karen Cornell, numerologist once told a friend of mine, when she was entering her 8 year, that she’d feel like she’d “been shot out of a cannon!” It’s supposed to be the highest energy year, and very auspicious for success. As if that wasn’t enough positive power of suggestion right there, all the astrology books point to this being a great year for Aquarians. Jupiter, the planet of luck and expansion, has entered my sign, suggesting a golden year. I’m surely ready for that.
And the thing is, I feel it. I definitely feel the energy shift. I mean I sort of do feel shot out of a cannon. I was totally in the dumps all through December, and worse after Xmas, but then in the week leading up to New Year’s, something just changed, and I’m not going to question it one bit. I’m all about riding the wave.