Month: February 2019

Romantic relationship role models

Ok that’s a mouthful but coming of age I did not have couples that I could model my future romantic relationships after. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that everyone around me were in bad or toxic romantic relationships; but, I am suggesting that I didn’t see enough of any romantic relationship that would eventually serve as a model.

This is partially because I was raised under the ideology that “children should stay in their place” which led to me never really knowing anything that was happening in the adult world.

For much of my youth, outside of weddings or other special occasions I didn’t observe adult couples being affectionate. Occasionally, I eavesdropped enough to hear the adults discuss finances or household responsibilities that were often gendered based.

Until I was an adult, I don’t recall my parents ever having date night and I definitely never heard about how any of the adult couples came to be a couple!

I can’t tell you how my parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles met their romantic partners. It’s funny. I watch a lot of cheesy romance movies on a popular television network that’s known for the cheesy!

I am glad that the adult couples I observed when I was coming of age didn’t try to present the cheesy television network’s version of romantic relationships; however, I do wish I would’ve received a more full picture of romantic relationships.

Fortunately, I know that even if I observed a detailed version of romantic relationships when I was growing up; I would still have many of the same issues. Quite frankly, every relationship is different and the individuals in the relationship are unique; therefore, no roadmap or model would ease my issues with relationships.

I do believe that the privilege of observing real life romantic relationships can help or hurt your development as far as your receptiveness to love is concerned…but I know that relationships take work regardless of your starting position!

Some people have a healthier idea of relationships than others. Others have fanciful ideas of relationships and then there’s people like me who are simply going with the flow because we really don’t know!!!

It’s ok to not know what you’re doing in your romantic relationship – no one really does or else there wouldn’t be so much “help” available for our consumption!

Where’s my job?

If you’ve read any of my posts lately, you likely know that I recently completed a PhD program and I’m currently looking for a job.

I’ve read much of the employment research and I purposely tailor every cover letter and resume to each position. I also apply to positions that I believe I would actually enjoy doing, in places that I wouldn’t mind living.

I assist others with writing cover letters, resumes, CVs quite often; yet, my supplemental application materials needed some serious help!!! It’s extremely difficult for me to highlight myself in a succinct way.

To combat this issue, I started reading my cover letters, CV, and resumes as if they belonged to someone else…someone I was assisting with presenting their best self to an employer! I know it may be strange, but this has definitely helped me write better supplemental materials.

Now I know that the materials I am submitting in this phase of applications are quality and they highlight me! As I’ve told you before – I am great!

I know, I know, you wonder how do I struggle to highlight my best self and fit for a position when I constantly remind my readers that I am great on this blog? It’s quite simple really, my blog posts are really informal and although there’s a chance that employment can arise from this sphere – that’s not the intended purpose!

Plus I absolutely love writing and the idea that someone, somewhere is reading my thoughts is quite flattering, to say the least!!!

Back to my job search…as you may know I’m acutely interested in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in higher education, access to higher education, and social justice and diversity related issues as a whole and believe it or not my job search highlights some of my interests.

I’ll explain in a moment; however, it’s imperative that I point out that when I think of underrepresented groups, diversity, social justice; I think that these constructs are dynamic. I believe these constructs are dynamic because for instance, depending on where you are located who is underrepresented in higher education changes. Also I believe that there are many types of diversity and the construct is short changed when we only focus on one aspect of diversity and/or social justice.

Of course, as a researcher I’m well aware that in order to complete a project scientists often have to pinpoint particular characteristics to study…however…it’s important that we remember that there’s more to these constructs than our operational definitions.

Ok so I’m always good for a detour! Now back to how my job search highlights issues of access to higher education and etc!

It goes without saying that I apparently had access to higher education since I have a PhD so that’s not my point.

Sigh! This is not one of those arguments lol!

As you’ve read, I’m living in the rural town of my youth in Midwestern USA. One of five of the adults in this town live below the poverty line and less than 12% of the population has attained a bachelors degree or higher.

Why does this matter? You may ask and what does it have to do with my job search and/or higher education access?

If you’re so inclined take a moment to get to know the population demographics of an area and then examine the type of jobs available in the area. Take it a step further and look at the types of education available in the area. Then ask yourself is this related to access issues? And if you had a PhD in said region, what type of job is available to you?

Even when I look at some social mobility programs, they often cater to more urban areas with less infrastructure issues to combat. Unlike the rural area in which I call home, many of these areas that receive an influx of services, programs to improve social mobility have existing resources to address transportation issues and they actually have high speed internet access!

I do not have the answers of how to serve my community with my education while still making a modest income. I’m not sure if there’s a job in this area for me, but I definitely want to use my skills to help my hometown in some way. Even if that means I will join in with others who are researching higher education access and the rural communities.

Where’s my job? I don’t know, but I know that it’s out there!

If this love is real, my relationship looks like…

Many of us are led to believe that there’s someone out there for us; waiting to embark on an adventurous romantic relationship with us.

There are so many popularly held beliefs about love that it’s easy to become confused by it all.

We are taught that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved; that love will find away; that if someone loves you they will do [fill in the blank].


No one really likes to discuss the hard part about relationship or even how every relationship has a different course.

I recall when the popular craze about how to know if a guy is into you was all the rage. I remember trying to pinpoint things that expressly signified that Mr. was into me.

I often came up short, or at least with a mixed message.

Needless to say…I became confused!

The researcher in me now knows the fallacies in the popular arguments about how to tell if someone is into you or not…but at that time I just knew that these articles, books, movies would provide the answers that I oh so desperately needed.

I’ve loved before, it wasn’t all sunshine and smiles. For a fact, it was downright difficult to love – for me!

Be easy, I’ll explain! Loving someone romantically often led to me thinking of that person and considering their opinion.

Yeah! That was no fun and far from any vision I had of myself.

The love was reciprocal; although, even that was difficult – for me!

I didn’t know how to let myself be loved. I mean, this person had no obligation to care for my wellbeing so I often wondered why? I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s the catch?

I’m not suggesting that I am by anyway unworthy of love; however, along with those messages I subconsciously picked up about love – I also learned that no one just does something without wanting something else.

I’m sure you’ve been privy to those messages also. They are also in our television, movies, books, and conversations.

I didn’t know at the time why I continually questioned the validity and reliability of the love being given to me. I understand more now.

Thankfully, I decided to get to know myself more without the pressure of improving my relationship or my ability to accept love.

I simply desired to be a better version of me. This is why I am acutely aware of the messaging we receive in so many facets of life.

At the moment, I love someone romantically, and I’ve loved this person for quite sometime. I am careful about what messaging I allow to enter into my relationship.

Some times I find myself searching the web for someone’s opinion on relationships or specific questions pertaining to the relationship.

Without fail, I leave that search I thinking oh this individual might love me or he might not.

I also leave those searches thinking that I might have low self esteem and need a swift intervention or I might be a strong independent woman who knows what she wants out of a relationship.

After I stop stressing over my internet search (yes, as intelligent as I am – an internet search knocks me off of my sanity rocket) I remember that although the information presented by all of these great minds is good in its own niche – none of the authors are able to generalize my relationship because everyone is unique.

Don’t get it twisted…I do appreciate advice but I refuse to be consumed by the advice.

I am unique, with an interesting set of characteristics & the Individual I love is unique also.

It’s important that I don’t cheapen our relationship with the confusion that is the opinion of others.

Where’s my fairy godmother with her wand of happily ever after? Romantic relationships would be so much easier that way!

Finding My Way…

I am unsure about any of you but I remember a time when I could tell you exactly what I wanted to do with my life as far as an occupation is concerned. I enjoyed career days in elementary school; at my small, Midwest, rural United States school from the time we were in preschool until we were in 6th grade we would dress up in costumes representing the careers we aspired to. So from the time I was at least 4 years old until I was approximately 12 years, I participated in career days!

I was always ready for those days, during some of the earlier career days, I, like many other youngsters simply wanted to be whatever the latest craze was on the biggest cartoons….but I often ended up being whatever costume my parents found at the local department store! I did not care because we were having a party for career day for most of those earlier days. It also never occurred to me that career day in preschool through third grade often occurred during Halloween!

I was a child and I did not realize my first few “career days” were simply excuses for Halloween parties! Plus I did not know that my small, lovable town had a few religious groups who were absolutely opposed to the celebration of Halloween, but not career day!

But once we made it to 4th grade, career days became real! I recall distinctly that this was a time when those of us who were labeled high achieving were separated from our peers and told about the importance of careers.

For all three years I wanted to be an Attorney.

Not just any attorney, I wanted to specialize in child advocacy and juvenile rights. I did not know if such a thing existed but I knew that this was my career choice!

To convey the message to everyone that I wanted to be an attorney, I would wear a suit! Without fail, every year during those three years, I wore a “power suit” that was usually some shade of gray.

I felt that gray was the color that any good attorney would wear! I am certain that I got that idea from Andy Griffith’s Matlock! My young mind felt that Matlock always wore a gray suit, and he was the closest I’d ever been to an attorney.

My desire to be an attorney felt like a dream conceived in my wild imagination that was impossible because of my humble beginnings!

Let me explain, I am Black from a small town in the United States of America and at that time, the majority of my extended family thought of college as something that wealthy people did. This is not a bad thing, it simply highlights the issues with access to higher education…so when I suggest that become an attorney felt like a wild dream, I am serious.

Well once I finished high school, I no longer wanted to be an attorney; however, I continued to tell people who I was interested in attending law school. I did not know how to tell individuals that I was not interested in a legal career anymore (side-note: my perception of what was meant by a legal career was drastically limited at the time so it probably would have worked if I knew more) so even once I graduated from my undergraduate institution – I continued to tell people that I wanted to become a child advocate attorney.

It sounded much better than – I want to help underrepresented groups attend and graduate from post-secondary institutions! Yes, telling someone who I wanted to be a child advocate attorney sounded much better….because I had an actual name for that position and it was readily familiar to most people.

I am still actively looking for a job in the real world, but when I think back to the young me who was always ready for career day – I am thankful for the opportunity to even begin thinking about a career. I may no longer want to be an attorney, but I am still in the market to becoming an advocate – young me would be proud!

I am presently finding my way to my future through an exploration of my past. Keep watching!

My Peace is Threatened

If I could simply be frustrated with the job search, I’d be much more comforted. Even job searches come to an end!

I cannot pinpoint what’s off in my world because nothing is truly wrong; however, so much has changed.

I spent the majority of my life thus far in pursuit of a dream; once I realized that dream…the dream qualities were missing!

How is it that I’m immensely proud of my personal and professional accomplishments; yet, I feel like there’s another story underlying everything which contains the key to what’s right and wrong in my life right now?

I’ve always been that person who ignored my feelings in the name of sanity. I learned early on that the exploration of feelings and emotions spell danger.

I know this is a far out there idea for many of you, but I’ll take this time to remind you that feelings and emotions rarely make sense on paper!

I’m an adult and there are steps I have to take to feel that way internally. I’ve financially supported myself for years so that’s no issue…granted employment would make this part of life much easier!!!

My train of thought departed 🚂


The awkward moment I read my posts and find typos I missed when both times I proofread!

I proofread TWICE and there’s still typos!

Pop Culture References…eh?

Ok so here’s the deal, I don’t watch a lot of television or movies…and what I do watch caters to a niche market.

So I fail to understand A LOT of pop culture references.

This has been one of my problems since my elementary school days when the other children wanted to talk about the latest, greatest cartoon character and I would have to ask who?

They would talk about the superheroes of the small screen and I’ll be like “umm I watched some guys fishing early one morning and they were throwing the fish back”

Yep! You can imagine how well that conversation went!!!

Let’s fast forward to my college years. I was one of those students who thought spring break was a great time to volunteer! Don’t laugh, I still think that any free time is an excellent time to volunteer, give back.

Several weeks before the kick off for spring break I signed up for alternative spring break. Specifically, I signed up for the alternative spring break New York City trip with my closest college friend at the time.

We met all the requirements and we really thought it would be a great experience. We had a wonderful time btw!

So this was my first trip by vehicle to NYC. Pause! It was an incredibly long road trip, we were coming from a Midwest state in USA!

I only really knew my friend. I have an unhealthy distrust over people’s driving (although I don’t drive myself) and I’m too curious to sleep on the road so I was excitedly exhausted once we arrived.

Remember I was in college – first generation in my family – so a road trip with friends, however loosely that is defined was definitely on my things to do while in college list! Spoiler alert: I really enjoyed the trip, overall experience, but so far I’ve yet to take another road trip with friends….being in a vehicle so long is really not my thing!

I digress…

We arrived to NYC safely, I don’t remember where we stayed but I know it was a religious oriented space. We checked in with the host organization and participated in volunteer training.

After our volunteer shifts we had free time daily and one full free day during our weeklong stay. There was a lot to do but this was fun!

My friend and I saw two shows off broadway and as a group we explored shopping centers and other tourist’s hot spots.

As I mentioned me and popular culture have never been particular close! I’m often oblivious when it is mentioned.

This trip included one of the most glaring accounts of my popular culture cluelessness!!!

After volunteering one day, we walked around the city, cackling and chatting like undergraduates encouraged by their small contribution of kindness.

Suddenly, everyone in the group (sans me) start pointing and laughing. I freak out think that perhaps this helpful group needs to take one of those courses about diversity because they’ve collectively lost their minds!

One of my peers even said “oh man that was good”, another was like “too funny”! Even my friend was laughing like there was no tomorrow.

Smoke was likely escaping my nostrils I was so heated by this exchange… but I knew my friend and she would never laugh at someone’s misfortune so I put the brakes on my anger and decided to use my words!

I quietly asked my friend, Why are you laughing at a soup kitchen?

For those of you who are more in tune with popular culture than I am, you already know about the famous soup kitchen in NYC…but I didn’t!

My friend knew me as well as I knew her so she wasn’t shocked that the reference to popular culture was lost on me. She politely replied Oh they are not making fun of a soup kitchen, they are referring to the Soup Nazi episode from Seinfeld

Thanks to my aunt’s viewership of Seinfeld, I knew that was a television show but just moments before my friend cleared things up for me,

I thought I’d traveled ALL they way from the Midwest USA to NYC with a heartless bunch of people who laughed at a Soup Kitchen…

Over a decade later, I’ve still never watched the popular Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld; however once we returned to the place we stayed in NYC my friend provided evidence for me that it was indeed from the series.

This is one memory that makes me laugh; especially since I’m still nearly as clueless about popular culture today…but because my friend didn’t ridicule my ignorance…I am more likely to ask questions when a reference is lost on me before the smoke starts blowing from my misplaced judgment.

Hobbies, Anyone?

A hobby is something you engage in regularly for sheer entertainment.

We are often asked what our hobbies are; especially, when we are first getting to know someone.

I’ve struggled to answer this question every time it was asked.

Not because I dislike fun, entertainment. But because many of the things I do enjoy are ingrained into my lifestyle….therefore it is difficult to identify these things as hobbies.

Part of my problem is my construction of hobby! I think of hobby and I think of an activity that’s far more entertaining than anything I actually enjoy. Plus I seem to believe that one must have numerous hobbies in order for it to count!

This is a terrible misconception, although it’s one I choose to continue to believe. At least I know my logic is flawed…that stands for something right?

I don’t enjoy the “big” hobbies like the ones that incorporate physical activity or those that involves instruments or tools. I didn’t name any particular hobby, yet you envisioned some by my hollow descriptions, right?

Even before you begin to read this post…the title invoked imagery of hobbies! The mind is interesting like that.

I enjoy reading and that’s the only thing I identify as a hobby of mine! Sure there are other things I like to do; but, leisure reading is the only thing I regularly do for entertainment.

I’ve tried expanding my hobbies without much success.

Hello dear reader, my name is Amber and my only hobby is reading! How about you?

Single-sided Deafness and Me

First, I live with single-sided deafness which is known by other names; however, I use the term single-sided deafness to convey the significance.

When I’ve told people that I have unilateral hearing loss, they believe that my non-functioning ear works with amplification

This usually results in people yelling at me or purposely making what I assume to be loud noises in my affected ear.

I rarely even say that I live with single-sided deafness, most often I choose to say that I am deaf on my right side. This often confuses people but I don’t have to endure their “battery of tests” – having my ear yelled into and people clapping their hands near my affected ear.

I was not born with single-sided deafness, but for most of my life I’ve had ear related issues. From early life until now, I have many ear infections. I had a speech impediment as a child and my hearing was a part of the issue. I had balance issues and my ears were the suspected culprit.

No one really knew what was going on at that time and I didn’t have a preferred health insurance plan —- here in the USA, your health insurance plays a significant role in the type of care you have access to.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease and placed on a salt free diet for over a year. This was right before I graduated high school so the specialist I saw was located in the town that became my home during undergraduate.

I had a few specialized procedures and follow up appointments with the specialist.

Oh it’s important to note that my hearing was still in normal ranges at this time – in both ears. I had followed the salt free diet so well that when my time was up to eat this way – I basically stuck with it.

The main difference is that my parents didn’t have to trouble with preparing me a separate salt free meal.

During undergrad my sodium levels dropped too low and the specialist suggested I go to a popular restaurant, order their famous fries and ask for extra salt! Yeah, I never did that but I did eat more pickles and a few other salty foods. It took awhile but my sodium levels returned to normal ranges.

Two specialists warned me that I’ll likely lose my hearing – based on the available clinical information – as a result of many factors including Meniere’s Disease. I didn’t think much of this prognosis since no one could tell me when or if it would certainly happen.

Years passed and I started having issues with balance and it felt like my right ear was filled with water. I went to a primary care physician who treated the ear infection that I seemed to always have!

My ears felt better and I ignored the fact that I would put the television on mute because it sounded distorted; or how I would look in the wrong direction when someone called my name; or how when I wore headphones it felt as if my right ear was stopped up.

The balance issues worsened. I was seeing a neurologist already so tests were run to determine if the problem was neurological. I could not afford to see another specialist at the time.

I waited until my migraines (the reason I was seeing neurologist) were under control and more of my deductible was paid before I made my way to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor.

By this time I was in my late 20s. My insurance was slightly better than it was when I was a child – but I had the income of a full time graduate student…it was low!

My income and insurance were significant players in my decision to seek care for my ailing ear.

My first appointment with the ENT was devastating. I recall the audiologist asking me how was I making it in my classes? I looked at this individual like huh? I didn’t do that bad on your little annoying tests!

I even asked this person why they didn’t play the noises so I could beep in. Still, in denial! I honestly thought that there was a long stretch of silence during the tests.

Even after a sound processor band was placed on my head and suddenly the stretch of silence ended – I preferred to believe that there was a purposeful long stretch of silence in the hearing test.

This belief was much better than the fact that I really couldn’t hear well.

The ENT discussed the audiologist’s findings with me and ordered more tests.

I was on auto pilot because I refused to believe that anything was truly wrong with my ears – other than the all too frequent ear infections!

That was in 2015. Once I left the doctor’s office and called/text my friends and family to inform them that “my right ear was simply decorative” – this was my description!

I cried and wondered if things would’ve been different if I had better insurance as a child or even if I went to doctor at the first sign of a problem. Then I questioned whether the ear problem was overlooked by the physicians I did see because of the much larger issues at the forefront.

Eventually I went back to the audiologist and chose the specialty hearing aid system to improve my quality of life. The hearing aid system was the least affordable option; however, it was the most convenient at that time in my life.

I’ve had the tubing changed several times since my introduction to the world of hearing aids. I’m long overdue for new tubes now.

But once again my income and insurance influences the medical care I even attempt to obtain. As I’ve shared I recently graduated and I’m on the job market with no income…this means no health insurance either.

I’m no longer in denial about my single-sided deafness; but even after all of these years the hearing aid system that was once convenient doesn’t work well for my changing lifestyle.

But most importantly the hearing aid system’s tubes are long overdue for replacement…which means I’m not using them!

Single-sided deafness has been interesting for me. It’s one of the most difficult diagnoses I’ve ever received and I’ve received many.

Plus I’m tired of individuals checking to see if I can hear anything in my right ear. Those tests are just horrible.