© 2014 studentservices

A Day in the Life of Erika Enriquez!

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For my night owl self, each day truly begins under the cloak of the after hours. As I lie on my bed, illuminated under plastic celestial shapes held up by blue sticky putty, I close my eyes. I silence the Peace Corps anxiety that likes to creep in just as I’m winding down. As a PCMI in my third and last semester on campus, with the potential to depart anytime from January to April 2015, not a day goes by where I don’t have even the slightest panic attack over my upcoming service. Once I bring my inner irrationalist to quiet, I mentally review my tasks for the day ahead. Satisfied with my hefty list, I allow the rhymes begging to be written seep into my subconscious and my dreams succumb to wordplay.

The morning stillness is often broken by a feel-good song on full blast. Today it’s Nelly Furtado’s “Forca” because who couldn’t use a push of strength in the morning? After a routine snooze battle with my alarm (and because I’m non-confrontational, I let my alarm win), I finally conduct my morning exercise – rolling out of bed. As I get to the sit-up that concludes my workout, I multitask and check my email and other messages on my phone as I plug into my speakers and let Matisyahu reggae-rap-hiphop-beat my day into productivity.

I forget to grab breakfast to-go as I rush out to make it to my team meeting with professor Alfredo Ortiz over Skype. It’s like an awkward family reunion as our team bunches together on a small couch in the Student Lounge (a.k.a. Makeshift Holland Room) and press against one laptop, straining to hear Alfredo’s words of wisdom with construction grinding away loudly in the background. We conclude just in time for me to make it to my 10am class. In between classes, I message back and forth to friends and family back home. Consistent communication is what keeps me tethered to this reality; it reminds me not to let grad school consume me. By the time I’m situated in my 12pm class, my stomach recalls that it was rudely awakened and not yet fed. It growls loudly in retaliation. Luckily, Sherry -my friend, classmate, and study/suffer buddy- comes to the rescue minutes before class commences and hands me half a bagel with Nutella spread graciously on top. She’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. I’m convinced that moments spent enjoying bagels epitomize everything that can be good in this world.

After class, I link up with my partner-in-thought-crimes, Jessica, and we launch into discussing our elaborate plans for the Asian Student Union, a club founded to raise awareness of Asian and Asian-American affairs, but also to serve as a support network for students. As she and I navigate spaces -as we all do- colored by our skin, but even more so by our perceptions, we want nothing more than for ASU to serve as an island of reprieve for all kinds of travelers. We traverse until I need to run off to my next group meeting, followed by another group meeting, followed by my need to regroup myself.

I feel my “Social Meter” battery nearing low as I finally leave campus for the day after 10+ elongated hours. As I trudge through my apartment door, I tiredly mumble, “Tadaima” (“I’m home”) and my roommate, Miho, replies with “Okaeri” (“Welcome home”). And in fact, it’s the weight of these routine Japanese exchanges that contribute to making our shared space feel like home. We both release exasperated sighs, sloughing off the day’s stresses. This is a mutual invitation into a conversation where we alternate being active listeners.

After catching up with Miho for a bit, it’s time to finally unpack and sit down at my desk to finish up any work. I break to shower and already I feel my battery recharging as my thoughts finally get to wander free. I like to wrap up the day by re-watching my favorite spoken word artist performances – Sarah Kay or Hieu Nguyen or Shane Koyczan. Something in their voices stick and inspire me so I jot down incoherent notes in my journal before the adhesive wears off. I’m writing as the world stills to a slow hum and the darkness tames even the wildest beasts. I feel the day beginning again.

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