This term is my first official co-op at Antioch. During it, I have self-designed my experience to be focused on my writing. I decided to spend this time working on my own fiction, because it is something that I struggle to do throughout the normal school term.
One of my goals is to submit at least two short pieces to either literary magazines or competitions. Even though it would be great if my pieces were accepted for publication, or placed within the finals, it is the exposure to the submission process that I hope to gain. So far, I have sent one short, approximately 400-word piece to Glimmer Train’s writing competition. I hope to hear back from them in July. Fingers crossed!
Another goal for this term is to complete a 40,000-50,000 word manuscript for a novel/novella. Told through magical realism and a little bit of science-fiction, the story spins the idea of what stars are made of. It centers around a character named Astro who is constantly pushing himself to gain recognition and to reach his goal of becoming an “Honorary Planetary Explorer.” But, after his last trip to Mars when the sun crashed into the sky, he hasn’t felt like himself. His skin is covered in large, lavender blotches that are spreading over his entire body and he can’t shake the feeling that something is changing him from the inside out. Soon after, he realizes that he has a limited amount of time to see his name in the stars before he becomes one himself. Although I have encountered some writer’s block, it is still a piece that I enjoy and look forward to finishing.
I have also been running at night with my sister and dog. I take the time to do this because it forces me to get out of the house to do something that doesn’t involve school and work. We do it in the evenings on Monday through Thursday and have kept up with it since the beginning of the term. I think it’s important for me to set physical goals for myself because, if I focus too much on my creativity, it won’t feel fun anymore. I will get stressed about it and it will turn into more of a chore and something to dread rather than something that I look forward to and enjoy.
My last goal is to prepare for the summer term. In just over a month, I will be spending seven weeks in Japan studying in both Kyoto and Aichi while also traveling and immersing myself in the culture as much as possible. Before I go, I have several loose ends to tie up, such as turning my car in, double-checking that my dog has enough medication while I’m away, and going to the doctor myself. I’ve also been doing my best to keep up with my Japanese class on campus to ensure that I will be as prepared as I possibly can be before I go.
All in all, this term has been enjoyable for me so far. I have done a lot creatively as well as physically. I look forward to the rest of my time here at Antioch.
Photo credit: https://www.vox.com
Japan is a time machine.
It’s harmony driven, melding together the old and the new as if there was never a separation between the two.
This term, I have been living in Japan. For the first two weeks, I was a part of a small program called Kyoto Inspirations which stems out of Kyoto Seika University and is represented by Ken Rodgers (https://www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp/eng/kyoto_inspiration/). Mr. Rodgers, originally from Australia, has lived in Kyoto for over 30 years. He teaches English, started a volunteer magazine, and adores Kyoto so much that he made it a point to share its uniqueness with others, using Kyoto Inspirations as his outlet. During my time there, I attended lectures, visited several shrines and gardens, slept in a temple, and got to experience first-hand what exactly makes Kyoto separate from the rest of the world.
For most, when they hear about Kyoto, they may envision an older, more traditional Japan. Culture and structure are the backbone of Kyoto, but there is much more than that. There is a blend between modernity and traditional that has spread, reflecting the inner qualities of its people. Downtown, there are large buildings, clusters of people, and brand names from corner to corner. But, in between it all, there are also traditional homes and storefronts, mountains, Torii gates, and shrines and gardens that keep time at a standstill.
While in Kyoto, I got to go off on my own and try new things. I ate a baby octopus and quail egg in Nishiki Market, traveled to Fushimi Inari-taisha, experienced a tea ceremony, and attended Gion Matsuri where I caught a glimpse of a couple of Geisha walking around at night.
The morning after my first time at an onsen, a hot spring, and sleeping in a temple, I was able to watch the monks perform their morning chants and prayers. While visiting the temple, it felt as though I was longer in the city, but, just passed the gates, there were crowded streets.
Before I move on to Osaka and Tokyo, I am studying the Japanese language at the YAMASA Institute in Aichi, Japan (https://www.yamasa.org/en/index.html). YAMASA’s goal is to teach Japanese to any who wish to learn it. They do it kind-heartedly, their instructors go above and beyond to ensure that their students experience as much of Japan that they possibly can. The classes are engaging and there are weekend trips available. Here, at YAMASA, I have met several people form all over the world including Spain, England, and Taiwan. From my time in Aichi, I hope to bring back an overall progressed understanding of Japanese and a fair amount of independence. Since I’ve been out of country, I have learned how to navigate a subway system, a train station, and have ridden the city bus – something that I never thought of doing in America.
All of these experiences, and so much more, are what I hope to bring back with me when I return to Antioch in the Fall.
This fall, I entered into Antioch’s class of 2019 as a transfer student from Sinclair Community College. Since I have yet to go out on an official co-op through the school, my experience in the real world comes from my years of working in the service industry. Within it, I have gained confidence in myself, learned how to multitask and manage time, as well as to not hold certain expectations.
So far, I have only had three “real” jobs since high school. I started out working in a grocery store, but have gained most of my experience from the last five years that I have spent as a server. To begin with, serving itself carries a certain stigma. I have had people treat me as less of a person just because I carry their food to the table. Often, I’m treated less like a server and more like a servant. But, from it, I have developed a backbone that wasn’t there before. More importantly, I have learned how to kill them with kindness.
In the service industry, it’s important to remember to be the bigger person. People say, “the customer is always right,” which might be good for only part of those involved. What it comes down to is the idea that even when I am backed into a corner, I can still walk away from it with my head held high. A part of this comes from the fact that I might not always be the best option to resolve a situation. Sometimes, it is better for me to take a step back so that I can learn from someone with a greater amount of experience.
Working as a server has also given me an abundant amount of practice multi-tasking. To go along with that, I have learned how to manage my time more efficiently than I did when I was younger. I’m more prone to prepare for things well in advance and know how to carry out tasks at a quicker pace. My willingness to work on a team has also improved greatly. Just like with any other workplace, a restaurant works best when everyone is pitching in and helping one another out.
Perhaps the most valuable thing that I have gained as a server is the idea to not hold certain expectations. In the real world, no one owes you anything. They don’t have to say “thank you” or even smile when they turn to leave. Nowadays, people have started to forget that. More and more, I see people expecting things out of others who just aren’t willing to give them. Working as a server has kept me from assuming that a person will act a certain way based on their appearance or presumed nature.
Overall, even though I have spent these last five years in a job that most people tend to look down on, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. From it, I have learned more about myself than I feel that I would have had I been a telemarketer or someone who stays behind the scenes. Working with the public takes a certain amount of skill that some just aren’t prepared to deliver. From my experience, I can say that I am ready for whatever the real world throws at me both during my time at Antioch and well after.
Photo credit: https://www.tasteofhome.com/