Writing About My Experiences
As someone who has spent endless hours reading, studying, research, and writing about life narratives written by a wide range of people, it would seem logical that I’d also spent a fair amount of time writing about my own life. But, until recently, that hasn’t been true. It was only after I’d begun to settle into my professional career and have some distance from graduate school that I began to realize how important it was to write pieces of my own life narratives. So far I have been writing short pieces that focus closely on specific moments in my life and the impact those moments have in the larger realm of my life narrative.
Here’s a piece I wrote about getting to see a film I’d helped to make on the big screen with my dad. This piece was published in the Community College Moment in Spring 2016.
This is a piece about finding out that my cat, Yezi, had terminal cancer.
And this is a piece about the loss of another of my felines, Missy.
Finding Meaningful Ways to Contribute to My Community
Now that I’ve settled into a permanent job in my career field, I want to begin actively contributing to my community in meaningful ways and building connections within my community. Moving from the Midwest to the PNW has been quite a culture shock for me. Ways of building and maintaining community are significantly different here than in the Midwest, and even after 6 years, I’m still trying to figure out how to live and build community in the PNW. But I’ve discovered a few ways to contribute to my community.
I volunteer for Pro-Bone-O, a local veterinary clinic that offers free services to the pets of those who are unhoused. I serve as a member of Pro-Bone-O’s Board of Directors and also volunteer regularly at the PBO clinic. The clinic is held the second and fourth Sunday of the month in January-October and the second Sunday in November and December. We offer a variety of free services at each clinic, including: flea meds, basic veterinary care, referrals for more advanced veterinary services, rabies and other vaccines, pet food/treats, leashes/collars/harnesses, litter, pet carriers, and other pet supplies and vouchers for spay/neuter procedures. It is an honor and a privilege for me to help our clients and their pets.
I’m am active on the Diversity Council and Cultural Competency Professional Develop Committee at Lane. Both of these groups strive to help support our campus and the wider community in gaining the skills, knowledge, and abilities we all need to successfully and respectfully navigate an increasingly global society.
I volunteer at Springfield Public Library, working, appropriately, in the Children’s Literature section. I especially love their motto: “Where Minds Grow,” and hope that my own personal strengths, background, and experiences will allow me to help the minds of my community grow.
I will continue to look for more ways to contribute to my community, and hope to find more outlets that will allow me to do so. Suggestions are always welcome!
Keeping the Art of Snail Mail Alive
Maybe it’s just the “English Major Geek” that lives within me, but I adore both sending and receiving snail mail. I’m an avid texter and send plenty of emails and instant messages daily, but there is something missing for me in all these forms of communication. To me there is something deeply special and personal about snail mail.
When I write a letter to someone, I carefully choose a piece of stationary that reflects some aspect of the personality of the person I’m writing to and/or the essence of what I’m writing to them about. I carefully consider which writing utensil is the “right” one for the job, often opting for the saturated richness of the ink in fine-tipped Sharpies. I consider if I want to write horizontally–typically what I do on regular stationary, or if I want to “write at a slant”–my usual approach in note cards. I carefully craft each sentence in my head before penning it and, sometimes, for really special events, I’ll write a draft of my letter on scratch paper before committing it to the piece of stationary. When I’m finished writing my note, I carefully choose a sticker or two to adorn the envelope that I’ll mail the note in, a little extra special touch to let whoever I’m writing to know how much I care.
When I receive snail mail, I take great joy in slowing down and observing the envelope the mail was sent in and the stationary it’s written on. I can often tell what mood the person was in when they wrote to me from their handwriting. Some of my artistic friends use ink and quill pens, and I love breathing in the earthy scent of the ink from these letters. Sometimes one of my kiddos will mail me artwork with their letter–an extra surprise hidden away in the envelope waiting for me to find it. And sometimes I’m treated to a last-second thought someone jotted on the back of the envelope just before it was mailed.
All of these aspects of snail mail make it so much more personal and intimate than electronic forms of correspondence. I nearly always feel a deeper connection to whomever I’m in communication with when your interactions occur via snail mail.
So, as I watch the world around me rely more and more heavily on technology, it is one of my personal goals to keep snail mail alive, in part by teaching the children in my life the joy that can come from finding an unexpected bit of love from someone in your mailbox.
I’m not the only one committed to sustaining Snail Mail. Many people, especially artists, are also committed to this idea. One of the projects out there intended to preserve the art of snail mail is Snail Mail My Email. It’s a fascinating project…and I’m challenging you to find out more about it! Each year National Letter Writing day is held on December 7th. Even the National Museum of American History likes to write about National Letter Writing Day. And Lakshmi Pratury recently gave a beautiful TED talk about the power of handwritten letters: