A homeless professor

Here I am. Being a legal alien with a great job. I am excited. I am thankful. I feel blessed.

With my O-1 visa petition approved, I am ready to take up a new job. A real job. “Real” in a sense that this job is really what I had wanted to do in my life. It is real because I know I would love doing it. It is real because it’ll be my lifetime profession (even if I change — or not — the workplace in the future). It is real because I went through an extremely tough selection and honestly I thought it’s impossible to get it.

So, I am not illegal. I am not jobless. But hey, I am homeless, being unable to extend the lease of my apartment in LA and having not yet got an apartment in the new city, Tempe AZ. My last seven days were spent in two cities. Sleeping in four different places. No permanent pillow to put my big heavy head on.

Can hunter

A homeless at El Pueblo Historic Park, Los Angeles. Collecting cans and bottles. (C) Photo by mer, 2006.

Hmm… I think the readers now are trying to picture me as an absent-minded homeless. Living out of a raggedy old cardboard box. Trying desperately to stay warm to no avail as the wind blows through the holes in her socks. Beside her there’s a worn out sign asking for money, next to an empy cup by her feet.

Well, sigh….not as dramatic as that…. fortunately. I am perhaps not really qualified to be a typical homeless. But still….. I am homeless.

No, I am not complaining. In fact, I found this last one week exciting. So colorful. Many difficulties and problems but each was solved and resolved by itself, almost deliberately.

In an unending uncertainty of this journey, I feel fortunate that I always manage to get connected to the Internet. Wherever I am — sitting on the floor of an alley of a certain hotel, relaxing on the bench in a park, eating at a certain foodcourt, sitting down in a certain office’ lobby, or some other places — open wireless Internet enables me to find my “home” in cyberspace. I got myself connected to the familiar “place” where I found meaningful cybersupport from ‘real’ (not virtual) friends in many places all over the world as well as useful information.

But information and cybersupport isn’t enough. I found real help from strangers and new friends I met along the way. Some people, sometimes without names, have enriched my life with their help, support, and generosity. Thank you!

It’s not bad to be a homeless professor.* Life is so wonderful! Life is exciting!

And I am still up to experience some great new things and meet more people.

p.s. Yes, I am now an assistant professor at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona.

* Unlike in Indonesia, people use ‘professor’ in front of you name to call all professors of all ranks (assistant, associate, full) here in the United States. My position is assistant professor, but my occupation is professor. And even in the formal letter, my Chair (who is a full professor) will address me with: Professor Lim. So, professor here as a term differs than what we use in Indonesia.

32 thoughts on “A homeless professor”

  1. wah…udeh jadi professor sekarang ye meeerrr…selamet ye!!! mudah2an nggak jadi botak deh ye!!! hahaha.

    mer: thanks. bramoes, elu pan tahu rambut gue pan kayak utan.. kagak mungkin botak niiiiih…. kecuali kalo kena pemangkas rumput kali ye.


  2. it was very funny to get a full story which I had to compiled from 3 blogs; blogger, this one, and your multiply, about your hectic life lately. anyways, you\’ll have your own home later,professor! 😉 I beetcha!

    mer: wow.. i am flattered to have such a faithful reader…. yes, i\’ll have my own home….thanks!


  3. Hoooooome sweeeeeet hoooome, but I believe in the the content over the display. Inside beauty, home of -holly vision- is better than exterior of the palaces. Wanna to join the Society for Homelessness, serving tsunami area organized by Ivory Tower members?.

    mer: yes, I am tempted…. can the society accept the homeless to help the homeless? hehehe.


  4. Hai Mer, congrats yah udah dapat visanya, semoga kerjaan barunya lancar, banyak dapat funding dan mhs-nya baek dan penurut :)

    Aih Non, kamu betah banget hidup nomaden, ya nggak papalah, yang penting ada job dan visa hihihi …

    mer: thanks, Patsy. eh, aku udah cape jadi nomadenwati nih, mau settle dong ah.  


  5. Your journey always inspired me! In some cases, we also almost experienced the same problem, eventhough your level is higher than me. At least, I learnt alot from your sharing in your \’home\’ (this web and your MP).
    Love U, Ima

    mer: haha.. there is no hierarchy of being homeless, dear… :) thanks for supporting me. luv ya.  


  6. selamat, professor merlyna.
    semoga nanti (kalau jadi ketemu, semoga!) masih mau menyapa mahasiswa culun seperti saya… :-)

    mer: makasih…. tapi mas Yanuar kan bukan mahasiswa culun…. gimana toh ah?


  7. a professor sitting on a chair, while me sitting on the floor. My mouth is (half or full) open listening to the story of the professor. the professor is scratching the bald head, bending walking very slowly. caughing, and going back to the chair, continue telling stories, or theories… hehehe…

    rarely found: homeless professor!
    you are rare species.

    mer: \”rare species\”? thanks, i take it as a compliment, hehe. but, oh… bald! that would never happen to me, my friend!


  8. selamat, \’mbak\’ prof… salut! tetap ditunggu pencerahan2 inspiratif-nya…

    mer: makasih, Mas…  panggilan \”mbak prof\” boleh juga tuh… pas rasanya :)


  9. di ASU ada PSM nya ga mer? kl bs tanya boleh ngga numpang nginep di sekre-nya, trus kl bs skalian aja prakarsain sebuah festival atau konser


    mer: hihi, belum tanya euy. tapi ngga ditemenin edoeners, ogah ah …


  10. Mer…. selamat ya
    dan sukses selalu pokoknya
    semoga dapat tempat tinggal yang nyaman secepatnya.
    salam dari mandalay

    mer: makasihhh…. btw, saya pingin banget main ke mandalay niiiiih…


  11. Humm…I wish I could find my dream job too..Though I haven\’t known what I really want now =) Selamet yaaa mbak merrr….

    mer: thanks a lot. guess you\’ll know that it\’s your dream job when you get one :)


  12. Akhamdulillah. Aku kagum dan tulus untuk sampaikan respekku padamu.
    \”Home\”, \”Homeless\” — i hope you are struggling to refuse to be homeless-ed


    mer: mas Oji, makasih banyak. i guess i didn\’t struggle enough when it came to myself. sometimes homelessness is a choice, not a destiny :p


  13. Mer, I am very happy and proud for you. Always be the way you are yaa say….Mas Oji minta diundang di multiply – mau ikutan baca petualangan Ci\’ A-Lien katanya..:-)

    mer: thanks a lot, mbak Lil… jangan kuatir…aku masiiiih seperti yang duluuu….:hihi: (mas oji aku undang deh, segera… ci a-lien? huahahaha….)


  14. Sateuacanna ngahaturkeun sewi nuhun parantos nganjang ka blog sim kuring, kalihna ti eta seja ngawilujengkeun Ceu Merlyna nu parantos cepeng damel di LA. Reueus abdi mah maos seratan Ceu Mer teh, eta aya ku pasehat basa Inggrisna. Tapi di sagedengeun eta henteu lali kana basa Sunda. Wilujeng…!

    mer: nuhun pisan kang Candra.  teu kaci lepat kana basa Sunda mah atuh nya… da abdi mah urang Sunda…


  15. Sebenernya…sebetulnya…saeunyana..
    gue more than bangga punya temen nCi Mer yang nyunda van dayeuh tapi bisa nembus amrik..propesor deuih !!! anjrit !!!!
    Salam ti si Goy Gautama Mer…


    mer: kang Dadeu….. tararengkyu pisan tos geten maosan posting di blog(s) miss dayeuh. hidup urang sunda!! (salam balik ka si Goy, nya)


  16. humm.. what a story..
    Tough jugah ya hidup ibu satu ini… tapi seumpama ada pilihan being homeless ato being jobless pilih yang mana??
    homeless tentu saja ngerasa selalu di tempat asng.. ga bisa nyaman..
    tetapi kalo jobless rasanya seperti .. seperti apa yah.. maybe like a looser?
    pilih mana bu?

    mer: jelas pilih homeless… hidup homeless! hehe.. kagak deng, kagak mau milih :)


  17. Welcome to The Land of the Free, they say. Whenever you’re in vicinity, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’ll invite you for a coffee.


    mer: thanks Jen…. once I am in SF, I should give you a ring!


  18. eh… salah …

    speechless ….

    punten teh … saya anak baru …
    jadi masih reuwas aja baca cerita2 teteh
    what an amazing life u have…

    mer: walah, reuwas? mudah2an teu jantungan nya…:)


  19. Dear mMer,

    Ternyata sudah propesor euy…
    Ulah lami-lami atuh homelessna… Apan keong we gaduh bumi atuh, anu dicacandak ka mamana tea :-) Atawa Neng mMer hoyong sapertos keong, ijigimbrang ka mamana barangcandak sagala… :-)


  20. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I
    am encountering troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand why I
    am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems?

    Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


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