Big things happened to me this year. 2016 has been and still is a very intense experience – here’s a recap to illustrate how many things happened to me in the past months. I’m still reeling.
1. I got engaged! I know I already wrote about that previously, but hey, it’s still an odd feeling to call Mikaius my fiance, and an even odder sensation to realize that my hand feels naked without my goddamn engagement ring. It’s an emerald solitaire in a cathedral setting with a twisted gold band that Mikaius got from the Wilson Brothers on Etsy. It’s not something I would have picked for myself (I have a love affair going on with citrine), but I love it. It’s subtle enough that I don’t feel absurd wearing it to class everyday as a broke grad student, and I absolutely adore the twisted band and the emerald.
Here it is in all of its glory:
2. I graduated with my BA! Prepare yourself for a mouthful: Hons BA in Urban Studies & Diaspora/Transnational Studies, with a minor in English. My Mom was very proud of me, as an immigrant parent, and even prouder when I finished with high distinction. I think she cried several times during the ceremony.
Now, that is not what I say that when people ask me what my degree is. I gauge their interest before launching into the spiel, but usually just say “I studied the interaction between the city and immigration.” And then if they show any hint of interest I go full geek on them. Full. Geek.
3. I got accepted into grad school at UofT! I was ecstatic when I got the email during the summer because – and this was not a smart move on my part – I had only sent applications to two programs, at one university. And both those programs were housed in the same department. Yeah, don’t do that if you’re applying to grad school. The anxiety really isn’t worth it.
But luckily, I got in! I am currently in year one of the Master of Science in Planning and the Collaborative Master of Arts in Diaspora/Transnational Studies. Again, another mouthful. I can never resist doing doubles. It’s an addiction. HELP ME.
The best purchase I made before starting my programs? A giant freaking planner from ban.do. It’s bigger than my laptop. It was the biggest one I could find that was also hardbound, all the better for it to withstand two years with. Well, almost two years: it goes from August 2016 to December 2017. This thing is a beast – I can write in it with both ink pens and regular pens (no ghosting!), and it came with two pages of stickers! Now I finally have the justification of using all the other stickers that had been accumulating dust in my desk drawer for years. It’s actually really great. My favourite feature about it is that there’s both a monthly and a weekly spread, so I use the monthlies for the big due dates and the weeklies for the readings/small submissions.
4. I joined a Filipino poetry workshop and performed onstage for the first time ever in my life. When I joined Poetry Is Our Second Language, a workshop facilitated by Patrick de Belen, I didn’t think that it would change my life – and to a large extent, my writing style – the way that it did. I also didn’t think I would get the chance to perform at Nathan Philips Square with a buncha dorks that I’ve come to love. It was also picked up by a radio show called Sigaw ng Bayan Montréal!
5. I moved out of my parents’ place and into a place of my own. I’m still fixing things so I don’t have a good photo of my place, but it’s a little piece of Dani-sized heaven and it’s my space, so I feel good. I’ve been cooking a lot, making sure my frozen meat is neatly separated into meal-sized portions, my coffee maker has been working for its keep, I think I’ve stumbled upon my perfect cup of double-brewed chilled coffee, and the Loblaw’s around the corner sells twelve different kinds of apples. All in all? I’m pretty happy about where I am.
Why did I pick up blogging again? I decided to start writing about the experience because there were a lot of things I encountered that nobody had told me to expect – like how emotionally exhausting the experience would be. I came in understanding that I would be mentally and physically exhausted, but at the end of week one I was in this emotionally exhausted cloud going, woof, why the hell did nobody warn me about this? I have to write it down, both as a form of therapy and as a record of what happened. I’m going to be very nostalgic about this program when it’s over.
Bonus photo of me onstage performing. And by bonus, I mean “how the hell did this happen?” I have mixed feelings about this photo, and about photographs in general. One of my eyes is bigger than the other, a condition called exophthalmos (hurray Grave’s Disease); my arms and my thighs are thick and chunky, and my hair is very thin. BUT this photo overrides all of that because it is a photo of something I achieved, and to me, that means I’m growing up. 🙂