Reflections and Expectations Special: Midyear Review

(Clockwise, from top left) Golden Gate Bridge, company-issued business card, Santa Cruz and San Jose State University

(Clockwise, from top left) Golden Gate Bridge, company-issued business card, Santa Cruz and San Jose State University

It’s amazing how fast this year is progressing as we are more than halfway through 2015. Then again, the same could be said about most years.

This year in particular is truly exceptional and phenomenal due to quick changes and turnarounds that occurred in my life so far. All of it warrants a special edition of Reflections and Expectations, looking back at how the first half of the year has played out so far.

Only six months ago, I was still suffering from the longest personal and professional slump of my life — The Great Slump, as I call it. The 3.5-year slump that began shortly after I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in January 2012 came to an official end this April. Thereafter, I am experiencing the kind of year and life not seen in several years.

What’s made 2015 an exceptional year as of now?

IMG_4339Getting my career back on track – The gamble I took of moving to the Bay Area from L.A. last October paid off after all, even if it required some patience and temporary sacrifices.

In April, I landed a full-time, permanent role in a civil engineering firm in San Jose that combines my background and interest in transportation and marketing / public relations. I enjoy the work I’m doing so far and I am still focused on developing and succeeding in my new job.

Since graduating with my bachelor’s degree in December 2011, I experienced immense difficulties looking for more stable and lasting opportunities beyond my then-public affairs internship at a transportation agency in Orange County. It took 12 interviews for related opportunities over that 3.5-year period before I found the job I have now although I maintained other employment in the intervening period. I am relieved to be no longer in a job-search mode. I paid a great price and have since learned many lessons. God forbid anything like this will happen ever again.

San Jose State University

San Jose State University

Graduate school – Even after securing my current job, I still remain enrolled in the Master of Science in Transportation Management (MSTM) program at San Jose State University. I am committed to staying on with the program for the two semesters I have left before my graduation in June 2016.

For much of 2014 and early 2015, I either had no job or was sparsely employed. This gave me the opportunity to use all of that free time to focus on my classes. As it stands now, I received an A in four of my classes including my most recent one and an A minus in two. Even though each class meets one night a week to accommodate students with full-time jobs, I hope to maintain good marks for the remaining four classes. The culminating capstone project will be the all-important assignment that I’m almost certain will take over every aspect of my life next spring semester. Stay tuned.

Unfinished business – With stable work in hand, I’m now back in more solid financial territory. It’s allowed me to make long-deferred medical appointments, paying off my graduate school tuition, buying much-needed things for home and myself, being able to save money again and travel within the state to visit family and friends semi-regularly back down in Southern California. Having that financial stability again plays a big role in helping to turn my life around this year.

Other items I hope to accomplish by the year’s end include learning how to ride a bike (fairly easy, I’m guessing), obtaining my driver’s license for whenever it is absolutely necessary to drive (still committed to transit even after), finalizing my topic for next spring’s capstone project in the MSTM program and further the development of professional and social circles in the Bay Area. I currently lack much of a social life in this region. I’m still working on changing that.

Little things – Often times, major developments can be defined in small bits. The little things here and there keep me going as long as I have the will to step out of my comfort zone (I still abide by those words, Jessica Lawlor) and give it a go.

Among those little things, I took up yoga lessons last weekend. It’s been five years since I first tried yoga. As much as I enjoyed it then, it wasn’t until recently when Jess documented her journey to become a certified yoga instructor that it rekindled my interest for this kind of exercise. I hope to attend yoga lessons on a more regular basis — I signed up and paid for 10 sessions over a two-month period at a yoga studio near where I live. I remain committed to attending them all.

Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on Jan. 29. Taken prior to start of comedian John Mulaney's performance.

Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on Jan. 29. Taken prior to start of comedian John Mulaney’s performance.

Other little things I have taken on since include a day trip to Santa Cruz for my first visit to the city, playing bingo at bingo halls, volunteering at a local homeless shelter on Sundays, attending stand-up comedy shows, expanding my entertainment options with the purchase of AppleTV among others. There’s probably more new things to come.


There you have it. Halfway through and I’m having a hell of a time so far. Here’s hoping the next six months will outdo the last six.

How is 2015 playing out for you so far? What accomplishments have you made? What are you expecting for the remainder of the year? Share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you.

Reflections and Expectations: Second Banana

It’s time once again to look back at the month that was and look ahead to the rest of July in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

June

Julian Street – On June 7, I joined my coworker and friend to volunteer at a soup kitchen in San Jose that serves the homeless and drug addicts. I tagged along after hearing about how she’s a regular volunteer with this organization. Consistent with my support for nonprofit organizations in physical labor and money, I enjoyed this experience in helping out the most vulnerable among the population. I’ll likely continue this effort periodically, as time permits.

VTA Cerone Yard – A graduate school classmate of mine gave me a tour of one of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) bus yards in San Jose during the early morning hours of June 11. As one of the bus yard administrators, she guided me through various parts of the facility, met with some of the personnel present and explained how the yard itself operates on a daily basis. We observed the pullout — buses leaving the yard in the early morning hours to begin their respective trips throughout the county. I learned there is a particular process involved with the pullout such as keeping track of the fleet of buses and coach operators heading out and what time they leave the yard. Now, I know what it takes to get buses running in advance of the AM commute hours.

Chris D’Elia – I went to go see him perform at the San Jose Improv on June 20. I enjoyed watching him as a regular panelist on @midnight, which is how I came to appreciate his style of comedy. A fantastic performance and time well spent for an otherwise dull Saturday night.

MTI Convocation Ceremony – On June 27, I attended this year’s ceremony of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s convocation ceremony at San Jose State University, recognizing more than 20 graduates of the program this time around. I came out to cheer on a few classmates of mine that graduated on Saturday night. This also serves as a preview of what I can expect around this time next year when it is my turn to graduate.

July

  • Independence Day weekend – Headed to San Diego this holiday weekend! Fourth year in a row in a different city — Portland, Oregon in 2012, Philadelphia in 2013 and Los Angeles last year.
  • Volunteering at Second Harvest – I miss regularly volunteering at Philabundance in Philly back in 2013. Now, I’m scheduled to volunteer at Second Harvest in San Jose next week.
  • Yoga – This is likely the month I’ll finally take up yoga. I’ve been looking forward to getting back into yoga for a while — about five years since.

How’s your summer coming along? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

On This Sunday: 48 years of Loving

Friday marked 48 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws against interracial marriages unconstitutional. Appropriately, every June 12 since is known as Loving Day, referring to the interracial couple of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter of this landmark Loving v. Virginia case.

The case paved the way for gradual acceptance of diversity among individuals who love each other. It makes me think of my relatives — especially all but one of my cousins on my father’s side who are married — and how they are all in biracial or mixed race relationships with children of the same makeup. None of their relationships would have been legally possible without Richard and Mildred setting the precedent for the rest of the country. I someday hope to enjoy the same privilege as my cousins when it’s finally my time. (I’m the youngest of them all. Still.)

With interracial marriages legally the norm for decades, I hope to see the same for same-sex couples nationwide in the near future.