Day13: Baker’s Dozen, I Guess…

…Coming up with titles is hard.

So, Dear Readers™, many of you know I transitioned from a 15-year military career into a STEM career. After the interview, I searched the internet for advice about how to dress in a science/engineering setting, and found nothing. This was unsettling, I didn’t want to be inappropriately attired.

Because: Most engineers dress like crap. Dad jeans tapering to Dollar General tubesocks protruding from dingy white sneakers. Ill-fitting polo shirts, or those short-sleeved shirts not meant to be tucked in, like the ones Charlie Sheen wore on Two And A Half Men. Dorky-ass floppy hats.

hat

SRSLY, that is one dorky-ass hat.

I get it-everyone here’s a nerd, or at best, a wonk. Even the college interns are square.

I thought about it more: and it doesn’t matter. So many websites and magazines tell you to make a good first impression, to wear tailored clothes from good fabric, and so o. It’s no all bad advice, but unlike the military, the content of my character and capacity for performance is not judged solely by my appearance. I can wear jeans with a polo and a cardigan. I can wear baggy black jeans with loose-fitting hoodie. No one cares.

Just as in my post about sparring in Muay Thai, I ascribed more importance to it when I should have been comfortable being myself.

I need to slow down and not take things so seriously. I need to have fun. I need to be more Lil Yachty and less Lil Scrappy.

drake

So that’s the takeaway here. Be like Yachty.

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Manic Maundy

I had an interesting assignment in mythology-apply one of the 17 stages of the Monomyth as described by Joseph campbell to my own life. I did 5- it correlated so well with my first year in the military.  It was fun and challenging. I waited so long to start my education because I wanted it to be like Dead Poets Society. Now I’m in my mid-thirties with my highest conferred document a GED. I do like going to school online. It’s more rigorous than I thought it would be, and school is better when I don’t have to worry about being stabbed by Crips.

I helped Selah with her posterboard for her science project about electric guitars. We used pictures of all Black guitarists-Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz, Gary Clark Jr., Bob Marley. It was fun and a bit subversive, because I know her school will be too afraid to say anything about it. Black folk invented rock and roll, and this fact can use some positive reminders now and again.

Maundy Thursday, as I touched on yesterday, is resonating with me this year. For the first time in years, I’m proactively pouring in to new friendships, because I need friends who aren’t just on the internet. Jesus had himself a squad. Jesus sometimes got annoyed with them, and they were impacted by group dynamics, but they were there, for the most part. I need that. I need brothers and sisters (but mostly brothers). I need friends who will teach me things and challenge my ideas, tell me when I’m being foolish and when I’m making wise choices. A good group of friends will be essential as I transition to civilian life-I’ll lose a lot of the sounding boards and people I’ve bonded with over lunch in the break room. I’ll need to remain tethered, and be invested.

Willa, our Goldendoodle, is about 2 years old. She’s finally stopped being a jerk. She curled up next to me as I started typing this post, and I’m typing this article because its comfy and reassuring, and I don’t really want to move. But I have to, because I want to go to bed.

 

Math

o-SIMPSON-MATH-facebook

Math has always been difficult for me. I’ve briefly written about how I can think mathematically, but in the past I had difficulty remembering the rules. It’s as if I was forced to pick a tribe, and I picked the language group instead of the number group. I walked in this identity for more than 20 years.

I wouldn’t have a problem with washing my hands of math if I didn’t LOVE science. My job is real sciency, y’all, with maths and junk. I consider myself a scientifically-minded person, who places more credence in observable facts than emotion/opinion.

So back to math. I’m taking statistics as my last class for my Associate’s Degree, because I didn’t get it when I was 20ish like everyone is supposed to. For my current degree plan (Creative Writing-Fiction), it’s the only math class I need. I’m glad, but here’s the thing- it doesn’t suck. This is huge for me.

I’ve never experienced math in such a way before, where it’s more like solving a puzzle (yay!) than trying to escape from a septic tank with a broken arm (dislike). In fact, I’m getting 100’s on my homework. I’m enjoying going back and making sure I’m being precise and exacting. Such behavior isn’t typical for me.

College is idealized for me, because of books and movies. One of those ideas is it’s supposed to shake you up, and you see what settles. It’s a time of trying on different identities to find elements which best suit you. As I’ve learned about myself this week: I don’t hate camping or math.

That’s a lot. I’ve gone long periods just surviving, not growing or learning. In my neighborhood, if I had to walk by a bunch of goons, I’d put my hoodie hood up, eyes on the ground 5 feet ahead of me, and keep walking. As long as I kept moving, I was ok, most of the time. If a group of people drove by, threw a big gulp at me, and shouted “FAGGOT!” (which happened at least once a week. Sometimes it was beer bottles), as long as I kept my eyes down and kept going forward, I would make it home.  I walked by a lot of flowers that way.

I don’t have to do that anymore. I can look around and be present and enjoy my journey. I can consider the Earth and her topography. And I don’t have to be shackled with old ideas about myself which no longer fit.