Better Than Ever

September 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Jason and I worked things out and are better than ever, only spending a couple of nights a week together so that we are both getting our personal/alone time while also having enough time to get our own shit done without the distraction of the other person. it’s working really, really well so far, though I do miss him on our days apart. we’ll be taking a couple of weekend trips together in october, so that will be some nice together time.

he’s decided to apply to grad schools outside of alabama and beyond merely UAB, which is exciting but complicated for “us” as a couple. just for fun, I checked out some of the programs at one of the schools he’s applying to in Florida, just because I’m a nerd and love school way too much, and low and behold…

I’VE FINALLY GOT A PATH TO FOLLOW.

I’m applying to Master’s of Public Administration programs with a plan to either concentrate in non-profit management or earn a graduate certificate as a part of the MPA. why I didn’t think about going to school for non-profit management, I will NEVER know. I think I just thought I could start from the bottom and work my way up, but the evidence of my 8 months of unemployment pretty clearly states that I don’t have the right education or enough experience to make the shift out of the art field and into the broader world of non-profits.

my favorite program right now is the MPA at the University of South Florida, the only program I’ve found so far that offers graduate certificates in both non-profit management and community development, both of which are exactly what I want to pursue. The University of Central Florida offers a dual Master’s degree in public administration and non-profit management, but there’s no community development option. plus, why do I need three Master’s degrees? oh right, following in dad’s footsteps…

anyway, I can’t express to you how FUCKING THRILLED I am to actually have a direction to pursue! goals, plans, opportunities. my mind is constantly running in high gear thinking about what all I need to get done to prep for grad applications and yet another move out of state. strangely, I’m even thinking about just getting a large studio apartment instead of a multi-bedroom place. I’m feeling pretty drawn to open floor plans right now, perhaps a result from constantly having to weave around walls and through doors in my strangely laid out current two bedroom apartment. the studio would have to be significantly larger than my last studio apartment, of course, since I need space for furniture I have and the girls need some room to lounge. but all in all, I’d be okay with a studio apartment for the right square footage.

my biggest challenge right now is finding funding since I refuse to take out xx,xxx in student loans to pay for another graduate degree. I feel like I’m a stellar candidate for the MPA program and for funding because I already have a graduate degree with a 4.0 GPA and I’ve spent my career up until this point working in non-profits.

the main schools I’m looking at are USF, UCF, UNC Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State. UCF and NCSU are nationally ranked for their MPA programs (in the top 25 in the country), but their programs still aren’t as appealing to me as USF because of the community development option.

people have been asking me so often “what do you want to do? what is your dream job?” which I’ve answered with a blank stare and a dumbfounded expression. now that I’m thinking about grad school and all the opportunities that will open up, my mind has been whirring away on what I really want to do. I definitely want to work in a non-profit that aids in community development, but I’m even thinking a bit bigger than that to starting my own non-profit that will combine my love of art with my deep interest in building up communities that are struggling or have been mostly abandoned.

so much of my thinking about community development stems from my life here in Birmingham after I moved back from Dallas. all my volunteer work, all my interest in city developments, all my thinking about the struggling communities like Woodlawn have led me to this point in my life where I’m seeking a distinct career shift away from museums. the more I learn about the Birmingham community, the more I see how disconnected the museum is, how irrelevant the exhibitions are to the average citizen. the exhibitions are rarely grounded in contemporary time, they’re such that they could be shown at any moment in a 20 year or more span, and they would have the same impact on people. there’s no real interest in the people beyond the walls of the museum, reaching out to new audiences, showing people something new. exhibitions are designed for the people who pay for them and curate them. god, how fucked up is that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a non-profit that addresses the issue of empty buildings in urban areas. Birmingham has so many of them and they make the city feel partially abandoned, drab, and rundown. it’s not an inspiring, energetic atmosphere like it needs to be to thrive. my idea is to put those storefront windows to use displaying local artists’ works or small-scale murals that focus on specific organizations or neighborhoods in the broader metro area. the goal is to inject life into those empty buildings through generating visual interest and directing attention to the Local, to local people, neighborhoods, and organizations that the common city person might not know about or might have misconceptions about. my hope is that these displays will encourage more exchange between the urban and suburban, between art and the average joe, and between other non-profits and the city.

I think deep down, my desire is to return to Birmingham, maybe not immediately following my graduation from an MPA program, but not too long after that. this city needs help and I think the millenials are the generation to really step up and start fixing the mess that the previous generations have left for us to clean up or drown in. we’re an insanely driven group of young people who just need to get some financial stability so we can really start doing what we want to do, working where we want to work, and fixing the things that desperately need fixing.

I feel full of hope and excitement about this new turn in my life. this feels like exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and exactly the direction I should be going in.

things feel so right.

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