Monday, January 31, 2011

Job Fever

It's the last day of January, and we all know what that! Feeling a little drowsy today, but wanting to be productive nonetheless, I thought, "Hey, today would be a good day for a blog!" Only then did I realize it's the last day of the month, which means I need to get on it if I want to keep my commitment to blogging twice a month.

Thankfully, I had an idea of what to write in this entry (several, actually), so that part wasn't too hard. Interestingly, I have ideas for two more blogs brewing in this little brain of mine, so you may be plesantly surprised over the next few weeks. However, don't expect too much, as we all know how those things go.

As usual, first comes the thesis (or "feces") update. I'm having a tough time getting back into the swing of all things school related. The minimum is done, but while I was once ahead of the pack on thesising, I'm falling farther behind daily. I really should finalize revisions and get on that formatting stuff, but ughh, there are just so many more interesting things to do with my time. Only 4 weeks til D-Day (defense)! ahhh.

And because these days I can't blog without including one of those fun comics, here's this entry's addition:

This particular comic is appropriate because I spent the first week of school performing daily revisions on a paper that was submitted for a research conference in Idaho this May. No word yet on whether it'll be accepted, but honestly, I'm perfectly okay if it doesn't get in. I'd really prefer to keep my post-graduation calendar as open as possible, and attending a research conference the week after isn't exactly in my list of highlights.

And after all that, I can finally get onto the "main course," if you will. As I'm sure you could gather from the title, this entry is all about the mooolahhhhh. Well, sort of. What I mean is that job fever is working itself through our office like the plague.

I'm not sure where it started, and I may have mentioned that several job "leads" were out for my friends and classmates in previous entries, but goodness the jobs have exploded! In the last month, there have been at least 8 job interviews among four of us, collectively. Two of the J's have received jobs in Extension, one as a 4-H Agent and one as a Livestock/Row Crops Agent. While it may not have been a heavenly set-up for either of them, I think they will both find happiness in their new endeavors, both short and long term. ;-)

The third J (Yes, we're surrounded by J's in NC too...reminds me of the Idaho J boys, haha!) received wonderful news today; she was offered a position as teacher a biotechnology teacher at a middle school about 45 minutes from Raleigh! Slated to start her student teaching practicum sometime this week, this last minute news is great, since this offer will be a permanent position, instead. Everyone's dreams are falling together, and it's so sweet to think back to when we all started out just a year and a half ago... Congratulations, yay!

In the midst of all this job-ness, I started to feel left out. So, uh, I *gasp* decided to apply for a job, too. WHAT, you say? Yeah, I know. What happened to not wanting a job 'til August? Well, I don't, I said, I felt left out!

The dish, you want? In an effort to avoid thesising (story of my life, right?) I spent a Friday evening surfing the websites of hospitals in four states, scoping out openings for Child Life positions. In the process, I came across an opening in Greenville, South Carolina. After researching the program, and the hospital's website, I kept coming back to that program. So, on a whim, I threw together the application, without thinking too much, and before I could convince myself not to do it, I submitted the darn thing. This was around 8 p.m. on a Friday night, and by Monday morning (before 9 a.m.), I had an e-mail requesting a phone interview for the following afternoon. Whoaaa, talk about fast moving...especially for something I did on a whim! (Those of you who know me, realize this is sooo not a "Lauren thing" to do!)

In any case, the interview went okay. I feel like I represented myself fairly, and to the best that I could given my background and experiences. However, I think they may be hoping for someone with more experience, or just something other than what I have to offer. I've been watching the status of my application online, but I haven't seen anything of interest there yet. I'll be sure to share if I hear anything; either way, I'm content because for now I am still in school, and the future will take care of itself.

Needless to say, these next few months are sure to be interesting. We made a paper chain countdown to graduation in the office, and it's bittersweet to watch the links disappear daily. All in all, I'm really excited about the possibilities and I can't wait to see how everything unfolds.

As always, stay tuned.

PS: The title of this entry reminded me of this song. Enjoy. (And believe it or not, it's not country. Ha.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Tribute to "The Land of the Sugarcane"

I believe it's been a while since I composed a full-out, poetic, belle of the bayou type entry. While I'm not sure these things can be planned exactly, by golly, today I hope to try. I am of the thought that those heart-wrenching, truly thought-provoking blogs really evolve out of inspiration rather than cognitive forethought, so we'll see what happens.

This morning I found myself on yet another plane—east, this time—heading back toward a place that is, though geographically only 1,000 miles away, a world apart in more ways than one. As I settled in for what has become a familiar ride, I cracked open a book in hopes of occupying my thoughts for the short trip. I'm no newcommer to flying, unlike many of the fellow guests who occupy the cramped space on this tiny regional get. I always crack a smile at the first-time fliers who have thousands of questions about this exciting, yet overwhelming, experience. It's always particularly interesting when traveling outbound from Lafayette, as so many of the locals rarely travel by plane...or by any mass transit, for that matter.

Today, this particular experience placed a bit of inspiration on my blogging heart. The book I happen to be reading is titled Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana. While I'm not sure that “outsiders,” can truly understand the poetic stories featured in this work, I find myself engrossed in the fairytales that are so familiar to me. I think, it should be required reading for friends of our dear Cajuns, to study (formally or informally) the heritage and culture of the Acadian people. It sounds strange, but I just feel as though there's no way to truly understand who we are and what we do, without such knowledge.

But back to my story. For the last month, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend time in the lovely place that I call home. Cajun Country, Acadiana, South Louisiana – however you choose to name it, it's still home to me. Even as I sit here, composing this entry after reading a very flowy and descriptive text, I find it challenging to provide readers with an accurate and complete picture of my homeland. Ask those who have visited – words just cannot do it justice.

The food, the people, their love for life and never-ending excuses for celebration. All of it. As I read about drive-through daiquiri shops, dirty politics (dirtier than our rice—I promise), stormy weather, ornately costumed drunkards in expected and acceptable brawls, as well as opposition to all things fancy and anti-cultural, I realized that the Cajun culture would forever be a part of me. While I have not yet signed up to spend the rest of my life within a 3 hour radius of “The Heart of Acadiana” (Lafayette), there is no mistaking that I will forever be Cajun—in heart, body, and soul.

To those of you who have visited, and even those who haven't, I want to extend a very special invitation. You are always welcome to come along for the ride, albeit a wild one, to “the end of the earth”--both literally and figuratively. Come, we'll drive to edge...where the road ends and water begins. We'll eat good food and drink merrily. We'll meet joyful, exuberant friends, and you'll leave with a sense of family. For those who come, never forget. And those who stay, will always be home.

I'll leave you with a philosophy for life, inspired by the people of Avery Island, Louisiana, home of world-famous Tobasco sauce: “When your sugar is wiped out by the enemy, do something creative with your salt. Protect the birds in your own back yard first. And, oh, yes, relish the unexpected.” - Rheta Grimsely Johnson (Poor Many's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Lousiana)

"Louisiana: It's not just a state, it's a state of mind." (LYJ)
- Lauren

**Last night, I dreamed I was eaten by an alligator. Now, if that ain't Cajun, I don't know what is!