Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Momma always said dyin' was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn't..."

Death. It's not an easy word to stomach. Nor is it an easy thing to deal with... ever. Today's memorial at school made me think of those who I've lost, and those who are still here.

In my junior year of high school, I lost my great-grandma. She was 94 when she passed away. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got to spend 17 of those 94 years knowing her. Some of my memories of her are from the week that she stayed with us when my grandparents (who took care of her for the last few years of her life) went on vacation. I can vividly remember coming home from school every day, and finding her sitting in the kitchen with my mom, sharing stories from when my mom was little, even when my grandpa was little. Every night before bed, we'd play cards together. Even though she was blind in one eye, and sometimes not "all there," she'd still win every time.

In February of my senior year, I lost my great-aunt. Like my great-grandma, my great-aunt was also in her 90s. It was really difficult toward the end of my aunt's life, simply because she was in some of the stages of memory loss. This put a lot of strain on my parents, but they persevered. My great-aunt, after my dad's mother passed away, stepped in and pretty much raised him and my aunt. She was like the grandmother I never got to meet. Even when we'd go out to eat with her, the waitress would always call her "grandma." Not unlike my dad, she was always predictable, too. The two of them (and sometimes even I) will look through a menu a few times, and still order the same thing. I can even remember what she'd order at Applebees and The Sesame Inn.

I'm usually not one to show a lot of emotion when I'm sad (I just like being happy, who doesn't?). I guess I try to be the rock for my family and hold it in. I probably shouldn't do that as much as I do... But it's just who I am. I try to be the go-to person when someone needs something, I help.

I have a handful of friends who have lost their fathers, too... I can't even imagine losing my dad. He and I have so much in common, so many jokes, stories, etc., that I just don't want to lose... ever. Sure, we might get on each other's nerves about grades, driving, and other nonsense, but that's what I love. He's one of the strongest people I know. He lost his mom in his freshman year of college, supported himself through college, and (of course I'm biased in saying this), but has been an incredible influence on my life, whether he knows it or not. (Heck, I even considered being an engineer at one point... Then I realized there was a lot of math involved. I also didn't realize that stats was going to make me want to metaphorically slit my wrists in psychology, but that's another story altogether).

Having those people that I'm able to talk to about anything in my life makes it so worth while. I was able to tell someone about my fears for my cousin being in the hospital. She's like a sister to my mom. Even though we're technically second cousins, we're so much closer than that. It scares me because I don't know what's going to happen next. I guess I wrote this just as a release of what I've been holding in... And it's been incredibly cathartic. Thanks, readers, for being there. I can only hope that I can always do the same for you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

...so here I am counting down the days till California comes

Well, it's been nearly a month since my last post, so I suppose it's time for an update, eh?

It's been an interesting month, to be completely honest. I haven't gone home since the end of January (which is a first. I usually go home about once a month). Being at school for over a month straight has its perks: I get to see my residents more (not that I don't anyway), it forces me to study more than I would if I was home, and it's just easy to be in the right place at the right time if I need to get something done.

Life is pretty great, too. I've got amazing friends and classes are going really well this semester (heck, I've got straight As for the first time since who knows when). Last semester, I tried to be the perfect CA: always willing to help, have awesome programs, and be there anytime for anyone. It nearly killed me. Sure, I passed all of my classes, but I could have done better. I realized this semester that I needed to make time for myself somewhere in the mix. Whether it's just taking a much-needed nap (even if they do get interrupted by residents) or taking a night to just relax and make a plan for the week ahead, it really helps.

In somewhat related news, I've also had 2 interviews for potential summer jobs/internships. My first was the HR internship through UPMC, and the second was through CalU's Upward Bound program. I haven't heard back from either yet. I've also been sending letters asking about internships, but so far, I've got nothing. I also attended a mock networking reception, which was really awesome.

And now for something completely different... I'm going to California! Not the little one where I currently live, but the west coast California. My mom finally broke down and decided she'd let her daughter go. I'm beyond excited. I haven't been out there in nearly 7 years, and it feels like I haven't seen family there in just as long.

Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to see LA as I had hoped, but Santa Barbara (where I'm headed) is absolutely gorgeous. The weather there is my definition of perfect: between 65 and 75 every day, hardly any (if any at all) humidity, and the ocean breeze complements it perfectly. (Although I do have a 3 hour layover in LAX en route to Santa Barbara, and my friend wants me to ask random airport workers where the boarding for Oceanic Airways is... I might just wind up looking for celebrities.)

I might get to check out San Luis Obispo, which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes north of SB. Of course, there's the beach, hiking, and that sort of stuff... But there's also whale watching, the Morro Bay estuary, and more. I'm also hoping to check out the winery where my aunt works one day when I'm out there. Not to drink, mind you, but just to check it out. Part of the movie Sideways was filmed there, in fact.

Hopefully my next update won't be posted a month after this one... But life's always a little crazy, so only time will tell.