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A Day in the Life…

… of Cassandra Stedham!

Cassandra Stedham

















Every morning Drake softly serenades me into the waking world. While I don’t trust my circadian rhythm quite enough to try waking up naturally, I’m the kind of person who needs to ease into wakefulness. For me, loud, repetitive, and jarring alarms are about the equivalent of having a bucket of icy-cold water thrown in my face. My first few minutes of being awake usually entail looking outside to see whether the sun has graced us with its presence, and processing the dreams I had the night before, which are usually vivid, bizarre, and leave me wondering where my brain comes up with this stuff. I look at my phone and see that I have fifteen new e-mails and five text messages and kick myself for checking my phone immediately after waking up. Shouldn’t I be doing yoga poses in bed or something instead?

Lately my days have been starting off very slowly since I don’t have any classes before two o’clock this semester. This gives me lots of time to be irresponsible and drag my feet in the morning. After showering, I make coffee and have breakfast, which usually consists of an “everything” bagel topped with avocado, goat gouda, and a fried egg. I sometimes sit on my back deck overlooking a little forest glen and drink my coffee, watching the squirrels frolic, the deer graze, and listening to the birds chirping. I wonder what I’m forgetting since it seems like there’s something inherently wrong with not having obligations in the morning. Not that there isn’t some kind of work I could be doing, but my rationalizations for that are a) I work better under pressure, and b) I’m probably going to get a lot busier once the semester is in full swing, so I should enjoy these lazy mornings while I can.

While my mornings are pretty relaxed and reflective, on a typical day, I have a lot to keep track of. Though I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays between two and seven, I have a lot of other responsibilities to stay on top of. These responsibilities include an editorial position with The Women’s International Perspective, the Global Majority Club presidency, Friday conflict management sessions with at-risk youth at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus in Salinas, lesson planning meetings with my Rancho Cielo Conflict Management Team, and meetings regarding the Monterey County Gang Violence Prevention Action Plan for my course in which I’m on a team that will be designing an evaluation program for the aforementioned gang violence prevention efforts.

Ultimately, this semester is far more professional than academic for me. Even my Spanish class is relevant to my future career. Having typed it all out, it seems a lot crazier that I have all of this on my plate, but I know it will work out. I am nothing but grateful for the opportunities I have this semester and have had at MIIS because they are bringing me that much closer to achieving my career goal of working in gang violence prevention on the Central Coast or in the Bay Area after graduation in May. Besides, I am the kind of person who needs to be busy. I start to lose it if I don’t have anything productive to do!

Once my days of classes and meetings come to a close, I go home to unwind. Dinner is usually pretty involved and accompanied by loud music. My neighbors probably resent me. Cooking is one of my favorite therapeutic outlets and creative endeavors. If you know my friends, you have probably heard about my carnitas tacos. I put in the effort to make a delicious meal even if it’s just for myself. The other night I made balsamic braised chicken breasts with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onions over quinoa penne with a from-scratch garlic, parmesan, white wine, and cream sauce. Those leftovers have kept me going for the past couple of days. The other thing about not having classes in the mornings is that it’s causing me to become a weekday wino. I have no real reason not to have a couple of glasses of red wine in the evening if I don’t have to get up early the next day. Before I go to bed, I usually like to either watch a few episodes of whatever show I’m into at the time, or spend some time reading a book. Right now, my book of choice is Dostoyevksy’s Crime and Punishment. I’m about to start the third season of Breaking Bad, and I just finished the first season of American Horror Story. I will admit that watching the latter meant sacrificing a good night’s sleep to paranoia and confused nightmares, but I survived!

Ultimately, I appreciate every day that I have in Monterey and at MIIS. I always have a beautiful view at arm’s reach, am constantly absorbing new ideas and perspectives, and am working on improving myself every day. Having moved here from Washington State, the weather in Monterey is a vast improvement for me. I don’t mind a few overcast and chilly days here and there. This is my final semester, and in the last year and a half that I have spent here, my horizon has broadened immensely and in many different aspects. Here’s to a future of continual growth and enrichment.

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