Archive for September, 2011

The Office

Friday, September 30th, 2011

For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to have a wide table where I could lay out my papers and books and writing materials. Today, that dream came true. Len and Shawn came to deliver the furniture that Len had been working on for me the past few weeks. Len is a carpenter and he graciously offered to build this table for me, which they assembled in my study room.

desk setup

It was beautiful! It’s formica so it’s smooth and heavy and absolutely gorgeous. I can already imagine all the studying and reading and writing that will take place on that table — yes, such a nerdy thing to say, but hey, that’s me.

new desk table

Along with the table, Len built this really tall six-level bookshelf. He said that he thinks I will fill it up in no time, that it would be a start as I begin my graduate studies. Maybe he’s right, but I think it will take me a while to acquire all the books that will be housed in this gigantic bookshelf!

bookshelf

Right before they left, I asked to take a picture of my benefactors. They set up an office for me in my apartment … what more can a brand new graduate student ask for???
I’m already envisioning my office to be a place where I can hide to do my work. One day, I’ll take a picture of what this room will eventually look like!

caring carpenters

Study Sofa

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In the quest of looking for comfortable study places, I come to the 3rd floor of Collings Hall. What makes this place appealing to me is that it’s set up exactly like someone’s living room with a sofa, lamp, coffee table, bookshelves, etc. I spent an afternoon finishing several chapters of a novel that I’m reading for a class. Besides the occasional passer-by, I felt like this place could be a cozy, little haven where I could curl up alone with a book.

3rd floor collings

Part of my graduate assistant work is visiting schools where I collect data as well as conduct surveys and interviews. One morning, as I was driving back, I was totally taken with the view of the straight road that stretched all the way as far as my eye could see into the distant blue skies. That’s what happens when there are no mountains in sight. From behind the wheel, I tried to capture the scene so I could share the joy.

on the road

Fall in OK

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

blue skies

The hot days have turned into a most pleasant autumn here in OK. Someone told me it is going to stay this way until Thanksgiving. Wow, if I have two months of this kind of weather, I got it made! It was so nice yesterday that I actually walked to school and back. The sky was very blue and the patches of white clouds stood out against the azure background. The fact that Oklahoma is mountain-less makes the wide expanse of the skies all the more pronounced. This must be the world of the Native Americans as they hunted and roamed and built communities and raised families many generations ago. It must also be the same world the pioneers coveted as they surveyed the land they were about to claim. Wide, wide land under a wide, wide sky.

I drove to a school to collect data today. As I was driving the freeway, I couldn’t help but capture a little bit of this beauty.

white clouds

Today, a classmate gave me a television. I was not planning on getting one. I’m quite content in the silence of my apartment. However, when she learned that my apartment complex offered free cable and I didn’t have a TV to enjoy it, she told me that I needed to get plugged back into mainstream culture (“after being out of the country for 6 years!”). She said she has three TVs and could give me one. So, she lugged it from her car to mine. Now, I have this TV sitting in my room. A few weeks ago, some neighbors were getting rid of extra junk in their apartment and was giving away a DVD player. I took it and saved it, just in case I got a TV. Well, now my new/old TV and my new/old DVD player have found each other in my bedroom.

new/old tv/dvd

Hometown Hospitality

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

This weekend was significant in so many different ways. I decided to branch out and meet some new people and make connections. First, I was invited to a lunch with some leaders in the Chinese community here in Oklahoma. We spent a considerable amount of time talking about promoting culture and discussing issues that involve Chinese identity in America. I have a feeling I’ll be calling on them when the time comes to work on my dissertation.

Then, I met up with a high school student who is working on her writing skills. I kicked into English-teacher mode as we discussed strategies and techniques for writing persuasively. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it would come out naturally for me … after all, I’d been doing it for 9 years! That evening, I met up with some new friends who invited me to a dinner/football party at their house. I ended up staying after dessert and some much-needed time of fellowship until way after the football game (did I mention OU football is a big deal around here?). They were such kindred spirits that I feel like I’ve known them for a long time even though we’d just met!

Today, I headed over to a Filipino family’s house. They have weekly lunch gatherings and they invited me to join them. What a joy to speak Tagalog again! Moreover, the intermarriages in their extended family make their home quite a multicultural melting pot. The matriarch of the house made pancit, lumpia, and some type of Filipino meat dish. I learned that the most Filipinos in Oklahoma are stationed in the Air Force base nearby; many of them also married into military men and immigrated to the US. There is a Catholic Church nearby where most of them gather. In fact, they invited me to come to a housewarming party next Saturday so I can meet some more of our ‘kababayan.’ I may just do that.

Filipino Friends

Rain, rain …

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

People have warned me that weather in Oklahoma is unpredictable and changeable. Boy, I just experienced it today. After days of hot weather, I broke out the sweatshirt and hoodie. This morning, I went back to the middle school to collect data from students, and I drove in the rain for the first time since I got here. It’s not that different from California driving, only that there are fewer cars and the roads are a lot wider. There’s definitely a lot more space between cars. I can afford to slow down and not worry about impatient drivers honking at me because, as they say, California drivers don’t know how to drive in the rain.

wet roads

I had a late night last night so I slept-in during the afternoon. Before biking over to meet with a professor for his office hours, I made myself vegetable soup (from scratch!). Nothing like warm soup on a cold day. It was comfort food, for sure. I thought I would head right back to the apartment after the meeting, but I decided to go to fellowship group that night. I’m glad I did because I was encouraged by the study and met some more new friends!

warm soup

A Visitor!

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Honestly, how many people really visit Oklahoma? People do not go out of their way to come unless they used to live here or they have something specific to do. I have no high expectations of getting visitors these next few months and years, but when I do, it’s always exciting. Today, my friend Molly is visiting from Iraq where she is serving on missions. She used to live in Oklahoma (there you go) and was passing by to visit old friends. In fact, she knows the area well enough to introduce me to this cool hang-out place called The Red Cup. It’s a quaint and cozy cafe with a hippie atmosphere.

I just had to take a picture of Molly with her cappuccino in a red cup in The Red Cup.

the red cup

We took a walk and chatted for a long while. We happened to stop by this Catholic Church and hung out there until the late afternoon/early evening. It was then that we decided we needed more than two hours for two years’ worth of catching up. So, we decided to do dinner and she introduced me to another new find called 501. It’s a fancy restaurant with a nice ambience. I like their bread a lot (with olive oil and roasted garlic on the side). They have grilled meat appetizers and that was all I needed to have a full and satisfying meal that night.

It was such a blessing to connect with an old friend — in Oklahoma, no less! Great food and great fellowship. Great day!

me and molly

Research Work

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Today, the professor and I went to do field research work at this middle school across town. It was nice to be back in a school setting again without being the teacher. We were able to talk to the teacher in charge of these students and she reminded me of myself when I was in charge of 80 or so students for 5 different classes. Ah, those were the days. I miss teaching, but not that badly ….

We pulled the students out in to the cafeteria to give them instructions on what we needed for the research project. I had forgotten how cute these little people are. I used to teach middle school so I know how their little minds work. I just hope I still remember how to relate to them for the next time I come back to collect the data!

student survey

This Week’s Special

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Well, it’s that time of the week again. Time for baking. This time, I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies, so I went to pick up some semi-sweets and butter for this week’s special. At first, I thought I’d save some dough in the freezer, but then I decided to just bake the whole batch.

chocolate chip cookies

This time around, I did get the oven temperature and I felt more confident as I slid the cookie sheets in. I knew the temperature, including the time I needed to take them out. The apartment smelled heavenly — fresh, baked cookies!

waiting ... waiting ...

I packed a few away for myself, then I put some aside for my neighbors. Their 5-year-old has a sweet tooth, so I’m pretty sure he’ll want more than a few of these cookies. The rest of the batch I put in a tupperware and brought with me to the Education Office. Last I heard, they chomped them down very quickly.

ready to go

Miss Kitty

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Every Monday morning for a few hours, I usually spend time in my professor’s house to work on my assignments as research assistant. We work in her office where she has her computer, files, books, and paperwork. We’d spend hours working on projects and talking through ideas. Her big, black dog, Katie, would come in every once in a while, chewing on a bone and would lay down between us. Today, her cat Miss Kitty, decided to join us. She sat staring at me for a while when she first came in, but then slowly, she lay herself down on the table in front of me.

really ... that's her name

The professor joked that while Katie was doing “bone research,” Miss Kitty was doing her “nap research” — a professor joke. I thought this cat looked so comfortable, I took a close-up shot of her. Yes, it does seem like all that research has worn her out.

close-up

Sunday Affair

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Today was a significant day in that I was able to host guests in my apartment yet again. This time, I made lunch for them. I brought bowls and chopsticks with me from LA in hopes that I’d be entertaining Chinese friends, and today, it came true! I made stir-fry chicken (marinated in Yoshida) and vegetables.

chinese meal

My neighbors went with me to church. Echo also came along. After church, we came back to my apartment for this meal. I was a little worried about it because I had prepared mugs instead of soup bowls. I remembered too late that Chinese would rather have soup instead of drinking water. My guests were gracious, though, and went along with what I had laid out on the table.

my guests

After lunch, we went to Oklahoma City to shop at the Asian supermarket. It took us a good 30 minutes to get there, but it was well worth it. They had never been there and we took our sweet time walking down each aisle. They piled their cart with items that they would not normally find at Walmart. Even though I didn’t really need anything from there, I managed to grab a few things of my own!

gone shopping