We grew apart You'll watch me on the red horizon My lion's heart Will protect me under stormy skies And you will always be listening for my laughter and my tears
Just a quick reflection before the clock strikes twelve.
December 31, 2017
I was in Longmont, Colorado. I didn’t have a whole lot going on, but in a few days I would have an informal interview with the University of Colorado, Boulder for a research assistant position. Within 48 hours I would find out that the job was mine and my start date was mid-January. This job was the resume boost I had been waiting for before I committed to applying to Graduate School. So instead of raging, I sat next to the fireplace and started writing my first personal statement. Actually, I had a completed draft by ~1:30am.
December 31, 2018
One semester of Graduate School is completed! A lot of ass was kicked to get here. I had a LOAD of fun and adventure out in Colorado, and met many incredible people. I am feeling very gracious and content. While the end of 2018 was unkind, I’m trying not to let that define my year. Here’s my recap! Cheers to doing the same shit next year!
I know some people are hurting this holiday season and I feel for you. Just know that you’re not alone.
It’s about that time of year where I get off social media because, no offense, but I just don’t care about your beaming families and 30 year traditions.
For me, every year has gotten progressively less traditional. Nothing is forever, as we know. Growing up it was me, mom and dad. We’d see each set of grand parents and then head home. Then my mom’s mom died when I was in the fifth grade. Christmas then became a visit to my dad’s parents, but it was still a good time. The three of us, my grandparents, and my two aunts. This is was the fam squad for all holidays and I have some really fond memories. Yes, we were small, but we were tight and I was happy.
Since 2010, my one aunt moved out of state, my parents divorced, my grandfather died, my aunt moved back, I moved out of state, my grandmother went into a nursing home, and I moved back. This little family was torn in so many directions, but it was all pretty “normal” life stuff.
But now William is gone. William was my mom’s life partner of seven years. He was it for her. But, he was murdered right before Thanksgiving.
I cannot wrap my head around the fact that it’s been over a month. It has been the biggest whirlwind of my life. I tired to pull it together for my finals but inevitably I took an incomplete for a class. I was totally vacant for at least two weeks during school. I had no concept of time and no perception of reality. Same with my mom. I was with her a lot, too. That’s all that really mattered to me at that point.
So apparently Christmas is 2 days away. No idea how that happened. I haven’t bought anything for anyone. I think it’s because I now realize that things don’t matter. Things don’t make a difference. My mom has a house full of things, but she’s still sad. I have an apartment with things in it, but I’m still sad. William has a home with his things in it, but he doesn’t even get to enjoy them. If he was still here we would all be a lot happier. That’s all I can think about.
So this Christmas my mom will probably be really sad, and apparently I’m sad, too. I just didn’t realize it until I was sitting in bed this morning and thinking that this was day 3 of being home and in bed. I think some people call that depression. Lol. In addition to sadness, my dad went out of state for the holiday and I’m essentially without a partner. So, my mom and I will have breakfast at my aunts, and my grandmother, two aunts and I are going out to lunch. Quite the change from my past, but I’m still trying to be positive.
In the future, I’d like to start something new. Nothing over the top, but something that I know will happen every year–a tradition. While I keep putting myself in situations that will prevent me from having such thing, I hope one day I allow myself to create something authentic with my own family. I always imagined that eventually I would be able to invite both of my parents and their partners over, and have one big family holiday, along with my own family. I honestly thought that would be obtainable at some point in the future, but when William died that small dream died, too.
This time last year I was in Colorado and I was happy. I was just about to start the grad school application process. I was flying home with a heavy suitcase full of local booze for the family and life was too fucking good.
This year I may be sad in some areas, but so far I have straight A’s in grad school. I have one final left to complete and I need a 93 on it to get an A in the class. (so wish me luck!) I’m really thankful for an amazing MPH program, an incredible cohort of BCH students, profound professors, and friends that brought me dinner, sent me care packages, called me to see how I was doing, and everything in between. A special shout out to my new roommate is insanely kind, drinks tea with me every night, and helped me clean up cat shit last night when I was about to have a mental break down. You are -the- best.
On that note, I need to get myself together and head to the big city.
This morning blew. But I honestly didn’t expect anything else. Nothing went as planned, but then again it never does when we try this. It was as if someone had physically shaken me for 60 minutes and then threw me on my feet to walk. There was just no way. I lost it driving up 95–I couldn’t even see. My eyes were flooding and last nights mascara was falling into them, and that shit stung so badly.
I pulled it together shortly after realizing that I could very well crash my car from lack of vision. Driving down RT 1 I thought, I want to see my grandmothers house, or rather, what was my grandmothers house.
In the late winter of 2016, the power in her vacant house tripped, and the electricity never came back on. Her pipes broke and her entire house was ruined. Water ran for 3 days before we knew what had happened. I remember getting there and hearing a waterfall from the second floor onto the first floor hallway. Dad and Lana were already on the move, pulling things out of the house and laying them outside. After processing what I had walked into, I joined them, stomping about franticly in soaked tennis shoes. We emptied what seemed like half the house onto the lawn, and just like that, it started to snow. I remember how cold I was, how sad I was. The walls were splitting and swelling. The basement, like a shallow pond. The only place that felt like home after my parents divorced was gone.
I drove down her road wondering if had some developer torn it down. Or if there was an ugly brand new cookie cutter house sitting there. Maybe two ugly brand new cookie cutter houses sitting there staring back at me.
As I approached it, I saw new furniture on the screened-in porch which sat on the side of the house. My jaw dropped. Someone bought it? Someone bought it and fixed it? Someone else saw value in it. Tears started to roll again. I was beyond pleased. All of my memories flooded into my head. My regret ever moving out came back, too. Every holiday, cookout, homemade dinner. The times when I would drive over there to shovel her driveway before she was even awake. Goodness, I missed it all.
I was now on my way to see her. When I got there she was tired. She didn’t want to eat. We talked a little. I wanted to tell her about her house, that someone made it beautiful and livable again.
But the thing is, she still doesn’t even know it flooded.
She quickly fell asleep. That wasn’t unusual. She’s been holding on for two years at this point. It was just another day, really. I don’t get too sad about it anymore because I don’t allow myself to think about her reality. Today, however, was a little different. I sat there on the bed and looked down at her sleeping. Even when she sleeps she looks like she’s in total discomfort. It’s like she’s frowning. I got sad. I bit on my lip to snap out of it, but inevitably the tears came. God damnit, if only I could do something to make her feel total joy one last time.
I thought about everything. I missed time with her; dinner dates, baking, talks at her kitchen table. How she would tell the same stories over and over again without realizing it. Like how she met Pabo and how he would show up at her house in the middle of the night because he hadn’t had dinner–his mom had left the state and his dad was an alcoholic. I thought about how nothing feels like home anymore. I wanted to be back in her house on her, what seemed like, 40 year old couch with my head on her lap, watching who even fucking knows, like Shirley Temple or something. I thought about how she’s been there for every achievement in my life. I thought about how I always pictured her at my wedding. Her only granddaughter. Her only grandchild. I wanted her to be here to finally see me well on my way. I wanted her to feel proud of me. I wanted her to witness me being proud of myself. I wanted her to see me so genuinely happy. I wanted her to be able to see that I was going to be ok after she was gone. I can’t even give her that. So, I put up a front for her. I have to be strong. After all, she is the one who’s 89 lbs and in a nursing home.
No one knows what has happened to me. I don’t know what has happened to me. But I screwed up. My young self never pictured my life this way at 27. My family straight up asks me if I’m done wasting my twentieth decade yet. I’m laughed at, questioned, mocked. I laugh back, too, but it’s really just to cover my own disappointment. Disappointment–the embodiment of disappointment. & I am so, so sorry.
It’s halloween. I’m sitting on my couch. Ate ice cream for dinner. Home alone. Attempting my statistics lab assignment. Nothing really happening. I’m fine with it. Some may even call it the norm. Oh wait, that’s just me. I’ve been conditioned to think that life is supposed to be this way. Lol.
I just had a thought, though. So then I began writing.
I’m done letting others define me.
& that’s all there is to it.
After years, literal years, 8 years to be exact, I’ve lost touch with myself. I’ve been manipulated, played (karma is coming), laughed at, scolded for my faults, for my experiences, for the way I’ve become from those experiences. But I’m really not as different as you think I am.
Photos help. I look through them, from high school, from the beginning of college, and I see this beautiful & free gal who simply loved existence. She had so many experiences and so much going for her. The world was her oyster. She was also a healthy weight!
I’m twenty-seven and a half now. I’m sitting on my couch, in my mediocre apartment that I cannot afford, that I honestly don’t want to live in, having dyed my hair last week to cover the grey, and thinking about how my self-worth is crawling along rock bottom. All while persuading myself to stay in this program. Just stick it out, I say over and over, to myself, of course, because I’m alone.
What I’m looking for isn’t unobtainable. It’s even less than what most have.
A partner. To come home to. To cook dinner with. To fall asleep next to. To wake up with.
Someone whose wants align with mine, like a thriving future and rich life. Someone who sees value in me. Someone who wouldn’t ever consider putting me down or making me feel like worthless garbage. Someone who listens when I speak and actually responds once I’m finished. Act interested. Someone who actually wants to see me and doesn’t make it seem like a burden.
I get to be on this earth one time, as we all do. I don’t get to go back to 24 or 18 and start over. So, I’m not wasting another minute. Time is too precious, & life could be too good. I’m just robbing myself. I am responsible for feeling this way.
At this point, being ok with being alone is my most refined skill. Great. Let’s refine others though, self.
Time to revamp, redefine, and remind myself that I got this shit.
This year started out pretty chaotic, but in the end, it was all worth it. (as it always is)
I left Maryland [again] because I was unhappy and spinning my wheels. I could not possibly waste anymore time as I was somehow already 26.
When I moved back out to Colorado I had goals.
1. Get another research job for the resume.
2. Find a GRE tutor and retake GRE.
3. Apply to school.
4. Get MPH.
In that order.
You see, I wasn’t going to apply to school unless I had two research positions on my resume because I just didn’t think my application would be quite strong enough.
In December, I emailed a laboratory at University of Colorado, Boulder to simply inquire about any job or volunteer opportunities for the spring semester. The next day I received an email back saying that they were looking for assistance on a project and to schedule an interview. Wait, what? That’s all it took? That’s, indeed, all it took.
Before I knew it, I was an employee of the university. (step one, DONE)
It was NYE 2017, and instead of raging I was sitting by the fire writing my first personal statement. By the time I blinked, I was writing a protocol, interviewing participants, studying for the GRE (step two, DONE), working my full-time job as well as overtime, and still finding time to sleep 6 hours a night. I was in the midst of chaos and I felt so motivated, accomplished, and proud. By the beginning of April, I was finished the GRE and actively applying to schools. (SHOUT OUT TO THOSE WHO WROTE ME A RECOMMENDATION LETTER) My GRE scores were [still] not as high as I would have hoped given how much I prepared; however, that didn’t seem to matter. I ate an edible and applied to all 3 schools on my list in one night. (step three, DONE) Time to wait.
University of Colorado, Denver: Accepted.
University of Southern Maine: Accepted.
University of Maryland, College Park: Accepted.
I could not believe my eyes. I was accepted into every school I applied to. I remember sitting on my bed and laughing until I cried. This bitch was going back to school.
Now here comes the hard part; choosing.
Denver: “Well we don’t offer assistantships to students in their first semester and we don’t have any money to give you.” You’re already making it so hard to choose…bye.
Southern Maine: “We can give you a small scholarship and a small assistantship.” Okay, cool. You have my attention.
University of Maryland: “If you work this assistantship 20 hours a week until you graduate, we’ll pay your tuition and give you a stipend to live on.” Holy shit, my millennial dream is coming true. Free school? Take that, MITCH.
The decision seemed so obvious, right? Free=free=free=free. But going back to Maryland? Oh God no. ‘Bury me alive’, I thought. Declining Southern Maine’s offer was devastating but inevitably the right decision. I had to stop prioritizing geography, suppress my inner millennial, and begin prioritizing lack of debt, an assistantship opportunity that would look ideal on my resume, and the career possibilities that would come with an MPH from College Park.
Alright Maryland, lets dance.
So here I am. The kid that got B’s and C’s in grade school. The 3.3 undergraduate GPA. The C+ in Anatomy and Physiology II. The double shit GRE scores. The lost 21 year old who didn’t want to pursue Psychology anymore. None of it mattered. I’m going back to school and my tuition is covered.
The saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” And you know what? Those people are always going to be waiting.
I say, good things come to those who work their asses [physically] off.
What happens after Maryland? Literally, whatever I want. I am so fricken pumped to find out.
(step four, begin)
Your name came up today. I’m usually unaffected when this happens. Today it stopped me in my tracks.
I want to scream in your face that I hate you, that I hate you more than anyone on this screwed up plant. I HATE YOU.
But why hate you? You wouldn’t be hurt by my hate. You wouldn’t be affected; not phased in any capacity. For if you can’t feel love, you can’t feel anything.
I am happy. Yeah, I am happy. What people see is real. I exude happiness. I am happy…
I am happy yet I am behind because I allowed you to misdirect my concentration, my hustle. I allowed you to storm into the cafes, slam my laptop closed, and walk outside with it so that I couldn’t study for the gre. My focus; nonexistent. My goals; unobtainable. You liked having that control over someone because controlling your own life was a total impossibility. & I allowed this lack of control. My silly, naive, stupid, innocent self allowed this bullshit.
Yet when I think about that period in my life, I don’t ever think of you. Your twelve hours a week that I was allowed doesn’t cross my mind at all. In fact, twenty-three was my best year thus far. Ironic, right?
This shows me that the minute I ran from you was the minute I was back in control. My past does not effect my present.
Then why does my soul ache tonight? Why am I so disappointed in myself? Why am I in bed so early?
They say times heals. How much more time must this take?
Perhaps the size of my wound is the size of your fat ass.
Perhaps I’m making progress.