Skipping Stones

On the first day of Thanksgiving break, a friend and I, having remained on-campus, seeing that it was a day warm enough for shorts, went on a rather scenic run through Proctor district, and from there, through an environmental sanctuary to the waterfront, where we lingered for breath and for beauty. Looking over the still water, we carefully climbed down the rocks and jumped onto the damp sand.

The water was still, its surface, smooth, so we picked up some stones and began to skip them. Rearing and whipping our arms forward, we watched as the pebbles ejected from our hands, like saucers across a starry night, over the water, touching down some distance away, and hopping from the momentum. Each step was marked by the appearance of concentric circles upon the glassy water. Two, three, four—we counted as each stone hopped farther, the water it splashed up raining in its wake.

“Here, try this one. It’s got a nice copper color.”

I whip my arm forward, turning my wrist slightly. A large splash means the stone has sunk, unfortunately, upon initial impact.

“Sorry, that was a waste. Here, you try this one.”

In this manner, we continue to throw stones across the water. When I get tired, I sit on a rock, and watch my friend lob stones. He’s on a roll, I think, as he approaches, with each attempt, a legendary five-hop.

On a three-hop throw, I watch the water ripple away from the place where the skip has died. A thin circle, vaguely defined, expands in all directions; it is approaching the shore upon which I sit and the shore opposite ours. In this latter direction, I watch it until it disappears, indistinguishable from the lines of movement on the surface of the water (which is a little less calm now). Still, I follow the circle as it expands, if only an imaginary one supplied by my mind, to the neck of the basin, and from there, as it bends around the promontory that obstructs its way, to the horizon, where I can follow it no more. But I know that the ripple is still travelling. It will travel until it reaches all the shores, which it will reach at different times—but it will never stop until it has touched land in 360-degrees.

If I subscribe to the belief that an action is like a stone in the water, that it creates a rippling effect, then I suppose I should think of everything I do as having the potential to carry me to far and distant shores.

Yet on Thanksgiving Day, with a slight rain gracing my window, I wonder if that ripple has reached home.

Skipping Stones

I Applied for an Internship at Intel and Almost Died

(The title is definitely an exaggeration, but I swear my heart never beated so fast as when I was typing up my resume or when I was sending it in.)

I just may have gotten an ulcer and a heart attack here or there from applying for an internship at Intel. Yeah, you read that right. INTEL. ONE OF THE BIGGEST TECH COMPANIES IN THE WORLD. One of the new professors in the Computer Science Department, David Chiu, had a contact from a former student at Intel. Her software development team was attempting to increase the number of female engineers on their team to a more proper 50/50 ratio.

And, so he showed up to the WACM meeting and invited seniors to apply for the full-time positions and for the rest of us to apply for internships. David is my lab professor, so he knew that this was my first semester dealing with CSCI as I am taking CSCI 161 (the intro class) AND HE STILL WANTED ME TO APPLY FOR AN INTERNSHIP. AT INTEL.

Our conversation went a little like this (paraphrased and taken from memory):

David: You should apply. For the experience. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll have that.

Me: But, I have no experience. Like, none. My resume is nothing.

David: Just do it.

Me: No.

David: Apply.

Me: Okay.

He was incredibly helpful in helping me (sorry for the redundancy) create my resume. It turns out my resume isn’t actually nothing (I did do robotics for four years in high school). So, I corrected the resume worrying over every period while sweating all my fear onto my keyboard. And, then I sent the resume in and had a heart attack.

I haven’t gotten any results. But, that’s okay because I came away from the application experience with a resume and an ulcer.



Puget Sound is often and fondly by all of us, home. And this home isn’t in the literal sense necessarily, it’s finding a place where we can be ourselves, share our learning and passions and grow as people. And while I’ve made some great and truly amazing friends living in T/P Garden Level last year and Theta this year, I’ve decided to make the decision to live off campus. And there are many factors attributed towards that decision.

The cost to live on campus is pretty expensive, especially compared to the off-campus housing opportunities. There are options to rent a room or share a room, and pay only the rent, utilities heating and cable bills as necessary all can amount, in my case, lower than the cost of living on campus. It also gives me the opportunity to have an off-campus meal plan, more suited to my eating and spending as well as make my own meals, here comes the mac n cheese, ramen, oatmeal and cereal days but it’s realistic and puts the power of what i’m eating more directly into my hands instead of just what the sub has. The third perk is choosing who I want to live with and where we are living. The different types of rooms vary in cost on campus along with room options through the lottery which isn’t ideal either. This way I found five amazing friends I want to live with and we can all have our own room, or share if we choose to, to look for large closets if that’s what we want or non-scary basements, to live as close to campus as possible or close to the nearest Starbucks. Having these choices and responsibility is really pushing all those lessons learned at home and growth as individuals respecting others space and holding my self accountable.

And while I’ve had amazing roommates on-campus (I’m actually going to be housing with my current roommate next year) it’s time for another new step, because in two years when I graduate I most likely will be living on my own, finding where in the world do I want to try and make my mark and my living situation while doing so. What’s great is that UPS supports this growth within it’s students. We found our house among the many listings on the UPS website, articles about safety and protection services Security offers, someone to look over our leases and the many options of subletting, moving in, lists, and more. I’m excited for this new step next year and can’t wait to see how it goes!

I May Be Okay With Failing

Over the last week or two the WACM (Women’s Association of Computing Machinery)  has invited some amazing ladies from the tech field to give talks about their experiences as a woman in technology and what they have learned. One was Arry Chu, whom’s career path has been all over the place with her position as a consultant (also has her own startup now) and the other was Christina Chen who is a project manager who has been at Microsoft for twenty-so years.

Both of these women gave talks in different styles. Arry’s was more of a casual “here is my life story and some things I learned”. After her talk, we all went to Wild Orchard (a thai restaurant) for dinner (how cool was it for her to have dinner with us!) and she mentioned her tips for success. Not tips as in “this is what you say to a client” or “how to get a raise” tips. They were more of a philosophy to drive your career in a way that gave you happiness. It was focused on passion and caring for others.

Caring about people is definitely something I want to create in my own team or corporate culture someday. And Christina Chen also noted on this. This concept of putting others first and creating a culture on thoughtfulness. She crafted this concept by selecting the people on her team based on how thoughtful they are. And doing so has increased productivity since thoughtful people try to help other people with their problems and etc. Now, that she is one of the senior executives at Microsoft and at this shift in Microsoft as a company in the products that they begin to produce, she is able to influence the type of culture the company has. She is nudging the mindset from “look at this cool piece of tech” to “look at this piece of tech that will address human needs and help people and make lives better”.  And, I think that’s pretty cool. I hope that wherever I go a culture of caring for others in the world and within the workplace will exist.

I was also relieved when Arry mentioned how difficult it was for her to settle on a major and failing chemistry (because I failed physics last semester (also one of the most freeing things to have ever happened to me)). That sounds terrible, I know. I have been worried about being on the right path ever since I learned that careers, majors, and colleges were a thing. And when she mentioned going from job to job and doing all these things before she found something right. It’s scary when you are in school and you think about your job, you don’t see a lot of job mobility. You focus so much on finding the right path and making the right decisions the first time around. But Arry’s career path shows that you will always end up where you should be. And, that you shouldn’t be afraid of a healthy dose of failing, learning, and risk.

If I had not failed physics, since I still love the darn subject, I would have kept pushing myself through the major and cry all the time. I would be miserable since the curriculum and pushing myself to perform better on the tests was wiping myself out. But, I would not have given up because I am stubborn. And, though I did cry during the final, when I realized I had failed the class I never felt so light. It was like this thing just lifted off my shoulder. Life; it goes on. Failing physics wasn’t the end of the world. And, taking chances with my decisions won’t set me on the “wrong” path either. I get it now.


We Are Going to Have Fun (Even If It Kills Us)

“Oh no,” I said, “There are wheels attached to my feet.”



I slowly began to roll forward, my knees locked. My friends, who were swapping out their own normal shoes for tan roller skates, ignored me.

Carefully, I lifted one skate entirely off the ground, and then set it back down again in a motion similar to the one I would use if I were attempting to ski up a hill. The wheels rolled ominously under me.   I pushed myself out into the rink, far enough away from the wall that I couldn’t clutch to it desperately.

Okay, I said to myself, I got this.

It is a sad truth that I do not got, nor, frankly, will I ever get, the art of roller skating. It is one of those things that, if not mastered at the age of four, will leave you forever trailing behind, perspiring slightly from the work and the primal fear of “oh I am about to fell over and crack my head open.” However, my complete inability had not stopped me or any of my friends from riding the number 1 bus out to Rollin’ 253 Skate and Community Center for an hour and a half of sliding around with wheels strapped to our feet—because, in the words of my dear friend, “We are going to have fun if it kills us.”

We were having fun—and honestly, it could have killed me.

My friend skated up to me. “It’s Retro Night!” she said.

I looked around. There were no overt indications of anything retro

Perhaps the general aesthetic?

Perhaps the general aesthetic?

and the music playing was a generic mix of late-nineties pop.

“When did NSYNC become retro?” I wondered.

Alas, my friend was significantly better than me, and had already sped away, leaving my question hanging in the air. A group of twelve-year-olds, also significantly better than me, heard the question but ignored me.

As the time wore on, I slowly became more and more comfortable with the spinning wheels of death on my feet, gaining speed as I looped around the rink again and again. As I turned the corner, a small girl darted in front of, her skates blurring beneath her. I attempted to stop.

I failed at stopping. My arms flailed, as if the air would suddenly become corporeal and as if by grabbing it I would somehow stop myself from falling. My legs slid out from under me, and I hit the ground with a solid thump. The vibrations reverberated through my entire left side.

“Ow,” I said, still sitting on the ground.

I got to my feet, my entire body protesting. My wheels slid underneath me. I rolled dramatically up to my friends, crashing into the wall to stop.

“I’m here,” I said.

“Are you okay?” one of them asked.

“I think if we were meant to move around with wheels on our feet, we would have evolved like this,” I said.

“Probably,” one said. She held out her hand. “Wanna do another lap?”

I took it—technically, I gripped onto it for dear life. I hoped she was okay with pulling me around the rink, because my legs were not working that well.

“Sure,” I said.

In Defense of English Majors

From the time I was in sixth grade I had wanted to become a writer so an English major was the logical choice for me. I don’t regret it. It has been very rewarding  both personally and academically. However, since my freshman year I have been second guessing its practicality. When people asked me what I was going to do with my English major I told them that I wanted to be “a writer with a roof.”

I have been taught to believe, and to a certain extent taught myself to believe, that English was impractical from a monetary standpoint. On occasion, when I’m feeling stressed, I picture myself living in a cardboard box or moving back in with my parents. I don’t think this anxiety is unique to English majors. We all worry about what we will do after college. We cringe a little when someone asks us that question and we have no clue. However, since English is such a general major we don’t have a prescribed career path. That’s good in that we have to go find one ourselves and its bad in that we have to go find one ourselves.

It’s a specific form of English and other Humanities major nerves. But it’s absolutely worth it if you’re passionate about it. First off, it teaches you how to think in ways you would never have imagined going in. For instance, in my American Literature class we’re learning about the post-modern conception of reality—that there is no reality and all there is the projection of the artist meant to fill the void. It’s a cheerful little topic. Second, you get to meet people who care about the same things you do and then have conversations about sea-monsters w/bird beaks. And most importantly, you get to do what you love.

The nerves don’t go away though. You just have to learn to live with them. Tell yourself you’ll at least get two cardboard boxes for the winter. And if need be you can write graffiti poems on the subways, give commuters something to look at besides swearwords. If that doesn’t work you can write a blog.

“Can We Get Involved?”

What makes a community great? In our case, I think it is people’s willingness to be invested.

Last night, the Youth Ending Slavery club had a movie showing planned.
We bought the pizzas, downloaded the film, set up the chairs, and prepared to share a movie about the important issue of human trafficking with our fellow students.

And then the trouble started. There were technical issues linking the movie to the projector screen, and while we struggled, we watched as chairs filled with expectant viewers.
We kept hoping if we tried again, or waited a few more minutes, it would work.

Our movie never played properly, but that’ not the important part about this story.

The showing was supposed to begin at 7, and it wasn’t until 730 that we gave up. For a half an hour, a full room of Loggers sat with us, not a single one getting up to leave. And when we told them that we wouldn’t be able to show them the movie, they still stayed. In fact, they raised their hands, and asked us questions like, “How could we contact the club for more information?”, “Could we volunteer?”, and “Will you reschedule? We want to see the movie!” They wrote down their emails, told us that they’d come to protests, events and meetings.

They cared. They want to stay in touch with YES, and that is incredibly heartwarming for all of us. This issue is so important, t but often feels very far away from the comfort of American college life. That just made it even more impactful that our fellow students wanted to share their time with us.

So thank you, to the crowd of you who turned what could have been a completely failed event into a chance for us to give you information about YES and our presence here on campus.  And thank you to all Loggers, for being so willing to try new things.
P.S. Curious about Youth Ending Slavery? Check out the website at: or look at the UPS Youth Ending Slavery Club Facebook Page at

Lighthouse Discussion: Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation

Last night, I attended the Lighthouse discussion on cultural appropriation and appreciation. It’s a complicated topic, and there is almost no complicated topic that cannot be made more complicated by having an academic discussion about it. It felt like looking at a sample under a microscope, only you have multiple microscopes and you’re not quite sure what the sample is. It got me to consider the issue in ways I hadn’t previously, which is what an academic discussion is supposed to do. That’s why I’m here, to learn how to think.

Before this discussion I had been a fan of cultural appreciation. Because of it I have been able to enjoy things like, yoga, enchiladas, and Celtic music. Looking at other cultures has expanded my world. I recently spoke to my friend who was studying abroad, and she regaled me about the benefits of tea and hijabs in Morocco. Personally, I may not agree with those things, or other cultural traditions I encounter, and that’s okay. Multicultural experience has made me think outside myself.

When it comes to cultural appropriation it gets trickier. No one wants to say that they are a fan of cultural appropriation. Yet, as westerners, I believe that we do appropriate other cultures as well as appreciating them. I have yet to come up with a final answer for this topic. I doubt that anyone has come up with a final answer for this topic. My take on it is that it’s generally okay to use material from other cultures as long as you acknowledge where it came from. Like when you write a paper, you want to include a bibliography.

At Lighthouse I learned that my take may not matter. In the large group discussion, someone made the point that, as members of dominant western culture, we don’t have the right to decide what we can and cannot take from minority cultures. This point makes sense to me. We may not be entitled to just grab whatever we like.

On the other hand…I still love my Celtic music.

Music Makers and Shakers

Friday night, the thumping beats of “Turn Down For What” and “Talk Dirty to Me” echoed in my head. The audience was screaming, cheering, laughing, moving; the music wormed its way deep into our bones. It was the second-to-last number of the Repertory Dance Group (RDG) Fall 2014 show, and everyone was loving it. As the last song came on—“Rather Be”—and the dancers—over 100—all flooded back onto the stage for the final number, the audience roared.

The next evening, I sat in the quiet dark of the Schneebeck Concert Hall. On stage, a single violinist dressed in red coaxed music out of the strings. The soaring notes of the movements by Mozart and Rachmaninoff and Bruch and Ponce filled the hall. I didn’t close my eyes to listen; rather, I watched as the violinist, a junior, bent and wove with the notes she played.

I have no experience in music. The closest I ever got to playing an instrument was the month in elementary school we spent learning the recorder, at the end of which my music teacher did not let me perform in the class-wide recital. Because I was terrible. And this terribleness extends throughout anything related to music—I am incapable of dancing to a bit or singing along to song in tune.

Despite my inabilities, or perhaps because of, most of my friends are tied to the more musical arts in some way. Two of them play the clarinet, one of them performs in musical theatre, one has perfect pitch and plays the flute and the piano, one dances in RDG. And I get taken to every single show, from ridiculously good a cappella concerts to musicals to orchestra performances to, yes, RDG and violin recitals.

The dichotomy of the two shows that I saw over the weekend was stunning. One was in a high school theatre; the 800 seats were completely filled; the audience moved and clapped and cheered along to the music as the dancers swayed on-stage. And RDG accepts everyone who tries out—it was filled with people who danced, not because they were good, but because they wanted. The violin concert was much more sedate, with less flashing lights and thumping beats; the violinist herself was hugely talented and a major in that field; the concert hall was intently focused on simply listening to the notes she played.

I cannot make music myself: I cannot play an instrument or sing in tune or even tap my toe in time to the beat. But I can definitely appreciate it.

(Also, my friends see it as their duty to educate me.  So now I know which dances were difficult and which ones were not, and which composer focused on tone over structure—and therefore sounded better.)

(It was Rachmaninoff.)