A Quick Highlight Post: Beach, iPhone, and Life

You, dear reader, have not been forgotten. But my free time sure has. Never have I been as busy as I am these days, with something going on nearly all the time. Such was my wearing out this past Friday night that I slipped under at 12:30 AM and didn’t really surface until 1 PM on Saturday, numb and groggy. Man, I know this amount of umph is going to be required in order to move forward, but it’s taking its toll.

So, I’ll bring you a fairly short post, with something more substantive at the end of 2017, once I emerge from graduate school. On that front, I’ll admit I’m getting a bit more nervous. Made an 86 on week two’s major project in my current class, COM 613: Constructing Messages and Audiences. Man oh man, the requirements are stepping up and I’m kind of slow in catching up. We have a major project due every other week though, and I’ve just submitted the most current, a presentation. Not sure what to expect, but trying to remain calm and rest in the fact that I’m doing the best I know how. Will that be good enough? Who knows.

What was good was my birthday retreat, (Annual? well I don’t know about all that but for the second year in a row at least). This time to Myrtle Beach. The hotel property, the Patricia Grand, was just ok I suppose, but it was difficult to find places at that time as everyone had the same idea of going for and end-of-summer hurrah. And we were due to get yucky weather in the lee of a tropical storm, but it held off till Monday and the sun shone pleasantly nearly the entire time. The main issues were that breakfast was a bit plain, the housekeeper had a big attitude problem and never came back because we weren’t immediately ready for her, and it is built such that the halls are open-air, meaning all the ambient noise comes in as one is atempting to sleep. But, we managed. A bit of amusement occurred in the form of a woman from Indiana who felt the need to approach as we walked along the ocean and proclaim this as “the greatest thing ever!” We’re guessing that was her first ever beach trip.

I went with my girlfriend, just as we had to Wrightsville the prior year, but this time my cousin and his wife also accompanied us. A couple of dinners, college football (for us) and shopping (for them) made for fun minglings. She also got me a nice duffel bag to replace the UNC bag I’d had for only 2 weeks before it acquired a mysterious hole! This thing is on wheels, and is a different shade of blue but one that will allow for easy retrieval from a train or plane compartment. I love travel-related stuff.

And of course these days, I never travel anywhere without my trusty iPhone. That’s right, we’ve just passed the four (4!) year mark of my having this thing, and the amount of stuff I can now do with it continues to increase and impress the heck out of me. Even when on the way to our hotel, her phone suddenly stopped working and I had to quickly pinch hit with GPS directions. Also thanks to apps like TuneIn, I can listen to just about as many sporting events as one who has a satellite radio these days. (Bummed that my darn Panthers lost again, already exceeding last season’s total). Then there’s the usual: books, movies, NPR, and on and on. Finally, I can record my presentations for class on an app like Bossjock and upload them to SoundCloud, as per requirements. This may well be the only accessible way of doing so. So tech continue to lead us onward and upward.

And now my final note: on the Life Coach whom I also found via that phone and its ability to search local ads for my queries. We had our first official session this Monday, after which I lost my debit card, deactivated it, and seconds later had a neighbor knock on my door having retrieved it. That debacle taught me I should have pressed the “Lock” button on my banking app to hold purchases, thus giving myself time to see if the card could be located. Anyhow back to the session: it went well. She concurs with my “long” goal of trying to get into NPR, and we will start to fashion some kind of plan to at least start me down that road. She also worked with me on physical body language: posture, the amount of space I take up, the kinds of things blind folks don’t often ponder but unfortunately to our peril. People do not consciously decide not to hire on the basis of such things, but I imagine the underlying biases formed there are extremely hard to overcome. So the more I can know going in, the merrier right?

And that’s about all I’ve got for now. Busy busy bee, when’s my next I need another vacation now. What’s happenin’ on your end?

Antithesis to 9/11 Attackers: On Cross-cultural Connection

In the U.S., we are approaching a horrible anniversary: a day on which 3,000 people were lost in an attack on buildings in New York and Washington D.C. I, as do many I’m sure, have vivid memories of what I was up to that beautiful pre-Fall day.

The night prior, I had been told some things by a person whom I called my ex-girlfriend, but, well, read this entry for hints. Anyway, she made some comments about my sociability or lack of that I perceived as having merit, and so I felt a little sad as I drifted off.

On the day in question, I showered in the communal bathroom at my UNC Charlotte dorm, then headed back into my room where I flicked on the Today Show as usual. When I heard talk of a plane striking the World Trade Center, my initial thought was “how tragic for the pilot. Or perhaps he or she will have managed to survive.” You see, I thought that it was a small plane or some sort. But the seriousness of the shows hosts’ voices, along with the fact that the jovial background music that usually accompanies stories had been turned off caused me to freeze, deodorant in one hand, clothing in the other, as the depth of the situation hit me.

The rest of that day passed in a confusing fog of oddly relevant coursework on building community, dealing with stress after major traumatic events, and the like. I felt bad being even the least bit happy as buildings in those cities burned, taking with them businesses and lives. By nightfall, I was just glad to slip into the relative obscurity of sleep, with the erie silence of the skies seeing me off (I could usually hear airliners passing from that location).

One of my most vivid memories happened on the following day. As I sat in the lobby of an academic building, an individual from Saudi Arabia plopped down in the seat beside me and began near-breathlessly imparting his story of how he had come here to get a degree in Engineering. He talked of likes and dislikes, hobbies, and related vric a vrac. I think his intention was to show that not all Muslims or Arabs harbored desires to act in this way, as well as to counter the isolation and discrimination he may already have been experiencing in the wake of the attack.

Fast-forward about 10 years to 2011. I was at the University of North Carolina, in the graduate program then known as Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology but now having some other name with the acronyms CRMH. I had been working all day to gather research for my Thesis-style paper (which I never finished, but that’s another story) and so after listening to one of the last Space Shuttle launches, I gathered my things and prepared to exit that academic building.

“Do you need help?” I heard an accented voice ask.

Not really,” I replied, “but I always welcome the company.”

So this woman, who turned out to be from Lebanon, walked with me to the bus stop and gave me her number, indicating that she wanted to meet up for coffee someday. We had many good times together: going to a music festival at Chapel Hill’s University Mall and having beer and burgers with her co-workers, shopping in that mall and tasting wine in Southern Season (I joked that she would have to carry me out if I consumed another drop,) and attending two services at the Greek Orthodox church of which she was a part (once my left-side hearing aid died at the service’s end, a huge disaster!)

SIDENOTE: I know that was a really long sentence, but I hear William Falkner did it, so so can I!

The last time we met, a day before she ventured back to Beirut to take a professorial position after having completed a post-doc at UNC in some pathology-related field, was on September 11, 2012, which has always struck me as ironic. I had attempted to persuade her to stay here, but she wanted more than anything to return to her culture. I suppose I can understand that.

On that day, she gave me some grocery money that I half-heartedly tried to refuse but did really need then, took me to Chick FilA for a sandwich and their delicious waffle fries, and left me on my doorstep with a hug and good-bye. We only talked a couple of times thereafter, having vowed to stay in touch but well one knows how that goes. The last time I spoke to her was August of 2013, and I hope only that whatever became of her that she managed to prosper. I thank her for being willing to interact with someone who is so obviously different.

And there in lies the main point of my post: differences of race/ethnicity, be they sociologic or, to a lesser degree, biologic, do exist and this is fine and should be celebrated. My issue is when people use these differences to needlessly hate, dismissing people simply based on skin color or other attributes, like ability/disability, that are readily apparent. Because at the heard of it, we all want the same things: to love and be loved, live as we want in work and play, and survive. I know these words are often repeated, but will continue to do so until these basic understandings are more widely held, praying that such a thing happens someday.


Welcome to September! The ninth listed month of the year, but with some astrological origins that make it more like the sixth or seventh month in that particular calendar, hence the prefix Sept. Oct, Nov, and Dec indicate eight, nine, and ten respectively. I searched Google, and at least in the relevant Wikipedia article it was difficult to ascertain the entire origin of these designations, yet they are interesting to me nonetheless.

The most important element of September, and of all other things of course, is my date of birth. This makes it the year’s BEST MONTH, and I congratulate any others who have had the good fortune to be born therein. I kid, obviously. But I do love this time of year, for as I spoke of in the previous entry, it is a time of newness and potential.

I find it hard to believe that I am turning thirty-seven (37!), goodness, and am therefore entering my 38th year. God willing, this will be a year of huge change, or at least making a significant effort to get my bow pointed n the right direction and start sailing through the waters toward whatever my destination should actually be.

As such, I’m going to attempt something different. I will look into obtaining the services of a Life Coach, someone who I suppose will provide me with insights and strategies that will help clarify what on earth I want to do and how I will do it. To that, I say good luck to this individual! Because I have found that to be a nearly impossible task throughout my adulthood, even though without question this past year has been the best I’ve experienced since the conclusion of undergraduate study.

To determine if I can afford and will fit with this person, I will meet someone named Beth Livingstone in a free consultation, which she says should be beneficial in and of itself. This meeting will happen on Friday. I am uncertain if I can budget such that I can make the initial rates, though she says we can talk about what the final ones will be. So, I will do that. Nothing to lose, right? In any event, this should be interesting. Not psychotherapy, but hopefully I don’t need anything quite that aggressive. But without question, I have been kind of spinning my wheels for far too long. Time to make some real progress!

Speaking of progress, I have just completed class 4 in my graduate school studies. I was a little disappointed to obtain only an 88 on that major project, but it was my fault as I hadn’t properly evaluated the requirements and thus came up a bit short. It was a wake-up call, anyhow. I still did perfectly fine overall, though it’s getting harder to stay motivated when there is virtually no break from one course to the next. Still hanging in there though, learning a lot and making connections.

Connection and reflection will dominate the next couple of weeks leading up to the birthday, as I will take both of these coming Fridays off and work the actual Tuesday, because it’s in the middle of the week anyway. And taking this Friday off will help with the Panthers opener being played Thursday night (they better win!) Looking forward to that.

We’ll see how all of this goes, and still waiting to get the really exciting stuff to write about again. Till then, enjoy the great outdoors for the period of time when they treat one nicest, at least in this locale.