Category Archives: new york city

updates from the city of dreams in action

As the Year of the Dragon progresses, lots exciting changes have arose for me in this city of dreams. This semester, I will be teaching again–this time at the City University of New York. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to do so and even more grateful for the freedom in being able to teach a course without a textbook! It’s a Writing Across the Curriculum course that emphasizes rhetorical analysis (or the ability for students to understand a piece of writing for its craft—how it was put together). Initially, I thought that I would use theme of social inequality, as I did a year ago in St. Louis, but there were a few limiting factors: 1.) that course had three textbooks, which I didn’t bring with me, 2.) I only have two weeks to design the course this semester, 3.) the curriculum was somewhat repetitive and didn’t fully execute the potential of a solution- or action-based approach.

This semester, I’ve decided to explore the cultural relevancy of happiness within the fields of social sciences, media studies, literature, and philosophy. I’m incredibly excited to teach, learn, and interact with students again. As in the past, I’ll be using this space to write and process my thoughts and experiences regarding pedagogy and ideas that are relevant to our lives as humans.

As if this news isn’t exciting enough, I also had an opportunity to connect with a young, world-renowned, New York Times-bestseller novelist, who encouraged me to “write books that people will read,” (i.e., non-literary). I’m not sure the direction of my craft, yet—I haven’t seriously considered the commercial fiction route—but I’m grateful to have been able to witness this genius at work so far. Creativity at its peak, transcends genre–in all art forms.

Furthermore, I’m excited to be involved with global tolerance, which promotes communication with a conscience. I am amazed, every single day, to discover the amount of ground-level and high-impact work that is being done to promote global consciousness and humanitarian efforts. Please consider joining gtconnect to share with individuals doing incredible, powerful, work. We are all agents of change, even if we are currently not in a place of freedom to be able to do exactly what we want. As long as the intent is there and followed by action, we can progress toward our ideal sense of self and community, which impacts the world, little by little, and eventually changes our current “reality”—that is, a world in which not every creature is happy or free. When our internal values are in synch with our external actions, change continues to happen. Our dreams and ideals are nothing, if we don’t follow through with action.

In the four months I’ve lived in this city, I’ve met incredible people who are promoting GLBT rights (Q-Wave) and establishing literacy programs in the Congo (The Mama Project). There are also teachers and artists and writers and dreamers who are part of the solution. And prior to moving to this city, I’ve come to know countless spirits who are doing the same. I’m continually amazed and inspired. It seems clear that our current state of consciousness involves full awareness of the inequities in the world, and our young minds and souls are getting to work to eliminate them globally.

 

–O. Ayes

Full Disclosures on Freedom and the Storms that Brew in Offices

 

INTRODUCTION

Prior to arriving in New York City, I’d made decisions that once again limited my freedom—that is, maintaining a relationship for which I was the sole financial supporter during the five months abroad in Southeast Asia and the first month in New York City. This happens in life, occasionally. Perhaps your partner gets laid off. Perhaps your spouse becomes temporarily disabled. One breadwinner in a two-person relationship is an acceptable heterosexual model, although it is less frequent in society now, as the idealized American “middle class” gets replaced by “working poor.” (You know the story—occupy everything because the flow of money has been uni-directional towards the 1%–an integral component of capitalism, but I digress.)

In any case, it is clear that when we value something as individuals, we try to keep it by whatever means necessary. During most of my adolescent and adult life, my philosophy had been that money is merely material—that is, it’s replaceable. Love—true, unconditional, compassionate love—however, is not. Of course, this leaves me as a prime target for a plethora of debacles. How can you know what is true up front? I just believe so and let the rest unfold.

What unfolded in those final few months abroad and my first month in New York City was that my then-partner and I needed to part ways. I was depleted and could no longer continue to limit my freedom for the sake of a fragile relationship. But I would help her transition in the city—one that she detested before meeting me—until she found employment. I did so on the premise that our friendship was true and valuable, but subsequent unfolding indicated otherwise.

I didn’t realize then, that when you limit one kind of freedom, you consequently limit other freedoms, such as being able to choose a job that actually coincides with your own values. While I’m not exactly against medicine, I don’t entirely value its agendas. To me, the body is finite, but ideas, culture, literature, meaning—those actually resonate with my soul.

Of course, as a naturally curious person, I enjoyed science enough. I even finished a minor in biology, thinking that I would be a conservationist of some type. I knew I would enjoy the co-editor position at a medical journal, at least for the next year until I was able to get settled in New York City, a city I’d dreamed of living in since my first visit.

In fact, I was extremely happy and grateful. Not many people can find jobs now, especially not through Skype ten thousand miles away with Hurricane Irene in the Atlantic and Typhoon Mina in the Pacific.

Read the rest on scribd: here.

 

–O. Ayes

 

Prior to arriving in New York City, I’d made decisions that once again limited my freedom—that is, maintaining a relationship for which I was the sole financial supporter during the five months abroad in Southeast Asia and the first month in New York City. This happens in life, occasionally. Perhaps your partner gets laid off. Perhaps your spouse becomes temporarily disabled. One breadwinner in a two-person relationship is an acceptable heterosexual model, although it is less frequent in society now, as the idealized American “middle class” gets replaced by “working poor.” (You know the story—occupy everything because the flow of money has been uni-directional towards the 1%–an integral component of capitalism, but I digress.)

In any case, it is clear that when we value something as individuals, we try to keep it by whatever means necessary. During most of my adolescent and adult life, my philosophy had been that money is merely material—that is, it’s replaceable. Love—true, unconditional, compassionate love—however, is not. Of course, this leaves me as a prime target for a plethora of debacles. How can you know what is true up front? I just believe so and let the rest unfold.

What unfolded in those final few months abroad and my first month in New York City was that my then-partner and I needed to part ways. I was depleted and could no longer continue to limit my freedom for the sake of a fragile relationship. But I would help her transition in the city—one that she detested before meeting me—until she found employment. I did so on the premise that our friendship was true and valuable, but subsequent unfolding indicated otherwise.

I didn’t realize then, that when you limit one kind of freedom, you consequently limit other freedoms, such as not being able to choose a job that actually coincides with your own values. While I’m not exactly against medicine, I didn’t value its agendas. To me, the body is finite, but ideas, culture, literature, meaning—those actually resonate with my soul.

Of course, as a naturally curious person, I enjoyed science enough. I even finished a minor in biology, thinking that I would be a conservationist of some type. I knew I would enjoy the co-editor position at a medical journal, at least for the next year until I was able to get settled in New York City, a city I’d dreamed of living in.

In fact, I was extremely happy and grateful. Not many people can find jobs now, especially not through Skype ten thousand miles away with Hurricane Irene in the Atlantic and Typhoon Mina in the Pacific.

Two Weeks in a City That Never Sleeps

After a whirlwind 4-day visit to St. Louis from Southeast Asia, I arrived in New York City. I didn’t have time to absorb the shock my body and mind was experiencing after several months abroad, traveling. I would start my new position as co-editor at a peer-reviewed, scientific journal almost immediately.

My life in circles: I return to publishing, more appreciative of its purpose and thus my approach. Having had a hell of a time trying to survive as an adjunct, I’m more than glad to be doing something that fairly compensates my time and effort. As much as I enjoyed teaching, I also value my time off. I may teach a class, once my schedule settles a bit, but perhaps I’ll use that time to enjoy New York a little more.

Two years ago, during my first visit to NYC, I fell in love. I wrote in my notes:

I’m not moving to the city to say I’ve lived there as a writer, as so many writers do. I’m in love, really, only with her water, all of her streets. I want to study her and more than dream of her seasons. People say, I might never come back, never leave because they know me, how I sometimes disappear into everyone and cannot be reached. There, I would be free.

My second visit last summer, when I circumnavigated the country by train, I continued to fall.

This time, I’m definitely deep. It’s difficult, enlivening, everything I imagined. Some days after working too many hours, I don’t want to walk through crowded, grimy, urine-infused subway terminals. Most days, though, all I need as a reminder is a walk down the street where I can catch glimpses of humanity and our connected lives. Of course there is disconnectedness, too, but we coexist here in a way that’s unlike any other place I’ve been. I’ve heard many versions of this summary from other people. Everyone seems to be from everywhere else.

New York City is a place where people from all over the world come “at the pinnacle of their careers,” as an acoustic engineer said over drinks at The Frying Pan. It’s intense. Indeed, today, I attended a meeting in The Corinthians with a panoramic view of New York City and was chauffeured back to work in a 100K Benz sedan. Juxtapose that with a day volunteering with my co-workers at the Bowery Mission where we sorted through and lifted crates of donated food, cooked, and served meals for the less fortunate. The stories and conversations I had with community members were tremendously enlightening, heartbreaking, uplifting. Imagine this contrast in one day, one minute, one second. It’s a lot to sort through. See why I’m in love?