Here is a letter I wrote to a friend this morning:
My initial impressions of school are that it's going to be hard in a good way, really challenging and rigorous, and definitely what I needed in order to build my confidence in this field. So I'm glad I'm doing it for sure. I can't help comparing it to what might have been at the NY school, which would have been more personalized and reassuring about finding a job.
I am 1 of 2-3 native English speakers in each of my classes of 14, which was really surprising to me. When a teacher began his class by asking how many inches there are in a foot I thought he was kidding. I'm learning a lot about Taiwan and Saudi Arabia (Saudi women have a particular charm that I enjoy very much). But I'm not finding the kind of immediate connection I had hoped to have with at least a few of my classmates, so it feels lonely. Much like Smith did (being older than everyone else).
The cultural, age, & language differences will get in the way, but probably have unexpected gifts too - last week a Saudi classmate found me in the BART and pleaded with me to get her on the right train. We ended up riding together for about 20 minutes in which she revealed that she moved her husband, 4 year old, and 7 month old to Vallejo (an hour and a half from the city) and is going full-time. She has no room for a desk in her apartment. I told her I thought she was very brave and she said, "Oh. I, um, I cry. All the day." So I think of her whenever I feel bewildered or overwhelmed.
The program believes in starting with basic hand sketching and lettering skills, something I appreciate very much. When I do my drafting with my angles and parallel bar I imagine that my grandfather is very happy, and I'm psyched to be able to write like an architect. The program is called Interior Architecture and Design, the Architecture part being the thing I wasn't looking for in particular but that I am happy to be learning. It can only make me more of an asset in the field. It's funny to have a plastic template of bathroom fixtures and to talk about them in all seriousness.
I'm still adjusting to how long it takes to get anywhere. My classes are 11 miles from my house but it takes me no less than an hour and 15 minutes to get to them, sometimes more. I know that this is something that city dwellers are used to, and that I will too, but right now I'm just flabbergasted. I am trying to think of it as an awesome opportunity to read more and to listen to design podcasts (which I want to do more of).
As for being in a new place, it's been really up and down, exhausting and depressing, beautiful and expanding. It feels like in the Valley the spectrum between sadness and joy, boredom and jubilation is shorter; here it is much wider, so the potential for joy and jubilation (and sadness and boredom) is greater, but you spend a lot of time in the middle. That would all make more sense if I could draw it out for you :)
In the first month I went from working, being a full-time mom, living amongst a deep and meaningful community, and living in my natural habitat to literally nothing: an empty apartment and no school, no work, no son. I was bored and lonely but didn't have the energy to connect to potential friends here, and strangely felt some resistance to being in touch with old friends back home. I cried a lot. I missed Atticus and Enzo. M worked all the time (our moved coincided with a major launch of a new version of their software). We had no money (still don't) so working on the apartment was just hard and stressful - I felt guilty buying plates at Goodwill. I tried to notice what I loved about being in CA. The list was short.
Now, with school in session, I feel purposeful, like a train on a track. I feel anxious one moment, like I need to prove myself to be the best designer there ever was right away, and the next I will let myself be at the very beginning, able to own the fact that I know nothing right now and that that's okay.
M's company launched their major revamp of the software this week, so I hope to see him more. We're doing fine/good, as good as you can be without seeing each other very much. I am so grateful to have a partner who is capable of supporting me in the many ways that he is.
I miss Zane in a deep, fundamental way and should find a therapist probably. His being an adult in the wide world makes me feel intimately connected to every human being I pass on the street. They each have a mother who released them into the wide world, and I could be her. This makes the poverty and violence so prevalent in Oakland hard to stomach. I gave a young woman and her child some money the other day and cried the whole way home. My heart feels tender and susceptible to bruising, and there is so much injury here.
You know, I am learning so much right now, on every level and at every turn, from how to dress for the weather to where the cheapest rice is to how the fucking BART works to what a picture plane is to how not having Zane in the house affects my eating habits. The list is a million items long. I'm tired. I'm excited. I'm glad I'm not 22. I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity.