Alex in Transit(ion)

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brand new colony: finding direction

I’m baaaaaack. Or is that what every blogger says after a long hiatus? How cliche is this opening sentence? Eh, I guess we’ll work with it.

When I started this blog back in 2010, it was called Alex In This Economy to detail what life was like moving to Albany and trying to make something out of nothing after graduating in the recession. Then, through some crazy stroke of luck, the something was forged out of nothing and I began my career working on campaigns. Yet, as much as I wanted to detail every moment, because of how sensitive my job was, I couldn’t write publicly about it. Plus, there was never time to write when I was on the trail.

After campaign #1, I thought that I’d name it Alex In The Soleil because, at the time, I thought replacing English words with French was the cool thing to do (désolée, je ne suis pas désolée) and I wanted it to reflect my nickname, which is Sunshine. I was in between campaigns and had to wait until the summer for the work to pick up again, so I decided to profile as much as my every day life as I could because after living in a campaign office for three months, I saw life differently. I learned to appreciate moments more because I knew there was going to be a time where I’d have to shut myself off from my loved ones and focus on the job, which isn’t easy.

In 2013, I said goodbye to my political campaign career because while I enjoyed my time working in the field and left with the experience of living in different regions of the country in the company of some pretty fantastic people, it was too grueling for me to keep up with it. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my family and friends for months on end anymore. I was incredibly burnt out from the work. In 2011, I found myself growing more interested in transportation policy and planning and I said to myself that after the campaign life was over, that I’d pursue a career in that. After being accepted as a Master’s candidate at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, I found myself again in a position where I needed to make something out of nothing. I picked Rutgers specifically because of its proximity to three of the nation’s major public transportation agencies and I was presented with the challenge: can I break into an industry that I have no experience in and hope that they see my passion for it? This prompted the name you see now- Alex in Transit(ion).

I wanted to write about my experience in grad school but as soon as I started a full time course schedule and a full time internship in the the public transportation industry, I didn’t have time to devote to the blog. I wanted to finish up a two and a half years Master’s program in a year and a half. It wasn’t because I didn’t love learning but I knew that as soon as I was done with the Master’s, the sooner I’d be able to focus on advancing my career. I was successful at it but it’s something that I feel you can only do once in your life. I found myself in a campaign-style schedule again where I’d work from 9 to 5, go to class from 5:30-8:30, make dinner at 9. Do homework sometime around 10ish. Then go to sleep when I felt I did enough homework for the night. It wasn’t sustainable.

When I moved to Hoboken after I graduated in May, I found myself in a lifestyle that is typical for many, but completely atypical for me: a true 9 to 5 schedule. No more campaigns. No more school. No more moving every six months to a different zip code. I had time to actually focus on living and building a personal life. The summer was busy. Whereas in the summer of 2013, I found myself in the city every week, in the summer of 2014, I was going away pretty much every other weekend either to a wedding, or long, overdue trips to see my friends, or my parents. It wasn’t until late August that things finally started to calm down and all of a sudden the girl who makes maps for a living was confronted with how to orient herself and find her direction.

Looking back, it’s kind of funny that it took me 6 months to get here but I guess it’s not. The truth is that I felt I needed to take a break from advocacy because I thought it would bring me back to a life that was all consuming. But now, I’m seeing that saying goodbye to advocacy was like chopping off my left arm…which is detrimental, because I write with it. I live being involved with my community. I breathe it. I’ve come to the realization that being the field organizer is a time that has come and passed but now, I can assume the role of the volunteer who comes by every Tuesday and Thursday and the occasional weekend, just like the lovely souls I met on the trail.

So. What can you find from me here? I plan to write about transit advocacy because it’s where I see myself trying to make real change in. I’ve heard receptive feedback about my ideas and it’s time to get the courage to go out there, explain them, collaborate and network with others, and see if we can make them happen. I’m also going to write about the silly stuff too. All work and no play doesn’t showcase a complete Alexandra. And of course, growing up. There’s so much beauty to be found in my late 20’s and while I don’t regret anything, I have to say that this is my favorite phase of my life- but I’m sure there will be more to be said about that in future posts.

Per aspera, ad astra. Through hope to the stars.

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