Sunday adventures

For Christmas I got my mom and I tickets to see The Lion King musical.

There’s a reason people rave about this show, and there’s a reason it’s been around for 18 years. It was seriously amazing, and possibly the best show/musical I’ve ever seen.

The only thing more amazing than the show was seeing how happy my mom was. Worth every penny of our ticket price-and since I splurged on 6th row seats, they were kind of pricey.

We had an adventure! And it was awesome.

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I hung on for the ride this year, and I’m not loosening my grip.

As 2016 came to an end, I spent some time considering what kind of year it was for me. When it began, I was determined to make it better than the previous year had been, which had been peppered with loss, grief and struggles. I was optimistic that 2016 would be better than all of that, but I’ve come to the conclusion that a year will never just be smooth or rough. There are good and bad things mixed in throughout, and that’s just how life goes.

This year was hard, there’s no doubt about it. The hardest by far was losing one of my friends and coworkers suddenly in July. I remember when I was getting ready to go to the visitation, my boss called me. He had just been by the funeral home to drop off some food for the family and to briefly pay his respects. He told me to prepare, that it was really hard to be in there, and to be strong for me and my other coworkers. I had never been through the experience of losing someone young and close to my age, and it was awful. When someone old dies, it’s still sad, but it makes sense. David was 22 years old, exuberant, full of life, and had an infectious laugh that I can still hear if I try hard enough. It wasn’t natural for him to die, and it felt unfair and made me angry and bitter. There’s no rationalizing that he’s out of pain and suffering. There’s just the pulse of an unfinished life. I still grieve for him, miss him terribly, and think of his family all the time.

In addition to that, my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of November, my graduation from grad school was delayed 6 more months, and work was…pretty stressful.

But I did learn from all of these experiences. At David’s funeral, his mom hugged me and cried and thanked me for being a great boss to David and told me that he really loved working for me and coming to work with us. Hearing that brought my true passions in management to life and made me realize that no matter what I’m taught from anyone, I will always care about my employees as human beings and try to be compassionate in that sense (to an extent).

It also made me think about how short life is, and I placed a higher importance on experiences vs. material things this year. There are things I want to do, and it’s either do them or don’t do them. I love musicals and Broadway shows, so this year I took advantage of the opportunities I could afford to go to. I went to a Harry Potter music experience at our local symphony orchestra; my mom and I saw Wicked in November; I got tickets for my best friend and I to see The Phantom of the Opera in a couple weeks in January and for my mom and I to go to The Lion King in February. In addition, I had the experience of a lifetime and went on my first *real* adult vacation in New York with my best friend in November. We went from the 25-28 and we went to 2 concerts, Aladdin on Broadway and to visit Times Square, the top of the Rockefeller Center, and the MoMA. This year I discovered a band-Ween- through my friend that has changed the way I view music and was a huge help to me during the rough patches I had this year. They announced a 3-night run in Port Chester, NY, so those were the 2 concerts we went to, and it was incredible! Definitely one of the high points of my year. So much so that when they announced a 2 night run in Chicago over St. Patrick’s Day 2017, I got tickets for my other friend and I to go to one of the shows. Experiences are important to me, and I intend to take advantage of these things because I can’t take my money with me when I go.

On top of that, I had an amazing trip with my coworkers to Vegas in early February that was insanely fun. I watched my two very best friends get married in August and September, and stood by them as they started their new lives with their spouses. I became a godmother to the most wonderful little boy.

I’m incredibly grateful for the amazing times in 2016, and for the lessons I learned from the hard times. I’m afraid of what bad may come this year, but with graduation coming up by the end of the summer, which will lead to exciting new paths, I can’t be too scared. I have wonderful things planned and a willingness to try. I won’t expect anything from this year-I will just take a deep breath and hang on.

holidays

I am struck, again, at how fast time passes, especially since when you’re in the moment it can sometimes feel like it’s at a stand still. I can’t believe that Christmas is in just a few days, and that 2017 is just a little over a week away. Though I can’t say I’m not welcoming the calendar flip heartily this year, I remain wary.

My mom and I aren’t much for the Christmas spirit this year, and for me it’s a combination of things. I’m a little more blue than normal, and not in that fun self-deprecating way that I always am. My post from the beginning of November still holds true-things are just kind of hard right now, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. That’s what the self-care portion of my brain keeps saying, anyways.

I finished up my fall 2016 semester of grad school, and I’m shocked at how well things turned out. My semesters are 8 weeks long, so one traditional semester equals two for me. My first half went well, and I got two As. I really struggled the last 8 weeks with my one class, though, but I still ended up with a B. I’m looking forward to January and completing my two final core classes for the program, and then starting my last, 15-week class in the spring/summer semester for graduation in the fall (if all goes according to plan). Every time I get down about it I try to remember to tell myself that I’m doing a pretty great job with the immense stress I’m under at work and adding full time school to it as well. You go, girl.

My grandpa had the tumor on his bladder removed during two surgeries in November. The biopsy showed that the tumor was cancerous, and hearing that news was like a punch to the stomach. However, on the bright side, the doctor is very optimistic that he’ll be just fine in time. He started his first treatment on Wednesday. He’s getting injections directly into the bladder of a tuberculosis vaccine. I’ve never heard of it before, but I researched it a bit and the results have been good. He also had no reactions to it and is tolerating it really well thus far, so I am grateful for that. This experience has made me take pause and be thankful for the blessings I’ve got. This is a really sad and scary time for us, and it broke my heart to hear him say “I didn’t plan on retiring, then getting cancer”, but he’s a strong one, and we all keep praying.

I’m ready for the holidays to be over so I can focus on 2017, setting some goals, and working hard. I’m choosing to believe things are going to turn around. *100 emoji* *thumbs up*

Saturday night I went to the mall because Bath and Body Works had their 3-wick candles on sale for $8.50. Even though God knows I need another candle like I need a hole in the head, I wanted to check it out. Turns out that so did everyone else in the tri-county area, and the line was wrapped through the entire store and spilling out into the rest of the mall. I left candle-less.

As I turned to leave, I almost ran right into a Hickory Farms stand in the middle of the mall(yeah, the people that sell the logs of meat). My eyes glanced down and saw a shelf of these bags of Mini Melt-Away Mints. If you’ve never seen them, they’re these tiny mints that look like chocolate chips that are all different colors and have nonpareils on them.

Michele loved these mints. We bought her a bag every Christmas and she never wanted to share them with anybody. They were one of her favorite things and she waited all year for them.

I don’t particularly care for these things-I hate almost everything mint flavored. And yet, I somehow found myself handing over $7 to a lady in a mall kiosk and taking them home with me. For some reason, I couldn’t bare the thought of not buying these, even though we hadn’t last year. Even though this isn’t my first Christmas without her. It hurt too much to leave these behind.

The holidays are always hard. I’ve been missing her a lot right now, and wishing I could tell her so many things. My recent vacation to New York, stuff about school and work. I miss her so much sometimes that it physically hurts, like my heart is still breaking and I can’t bare it. I expect that, at times, it’ll always be that way.

So I don’t feel bad about paying $7 for these candies I won’t eat. For the briefest of moments, it felt like everything was normal again.

you were made to do hard things

I’ve been actively trying to rewire my thought patterns into ones that are more positive. I’ve recognized lately, through some help of those around me and a lot of reflection, that my automatic thought processes lean towards the negative, and putting that kind of energy out there just isn’t good for anyone involved.┬áThat being said, I am, by nature, more pessimistic, and I could entertain you all with the tales of why that is, but it doesn’t really matter right at this moment. The truth of the matter is that right now, things for me are really hard, and I’m looking down a dark tunnel that I don’t know how I’m going to get through.

I’ve been shoving my feelings further and further into my mental closet for months now, slamming the door shut whenever anything feels too big. The problem is, if we’re going with this metaphor and thinking of my issues like sweaters and pants and stuff in this closet, I can’t close the door any more because all of it is spilling out. Everything’s coming to a head and it’s…just…really hard right now.

I’m struggling not-so-valiantly through grad school, and the neat little path I was on and has taken an unexpected curve. I was supposed to graduate in April but I found out a month ago that-long story short-because of an issue with my last class in the program not being able to be combined with the others, I have to take it by itself in the summer and push my graduation until August. It’s not the end of the world, and this is a fixable problem. It doesn’t negate all the hard work I’ve done. It just stresses me out. On top of that, I’m in this finance class right now that is killing me because I’m not good at math.

I’m still fighting this weird depression fog that came from losing a good friend of mine in July. Most days I’m okay, but there are days when I wish I could give in to my whims and lay in bed all day. Deep in my heart, I know it would make it worse, but sometimes the thought of even getting out of bed seems insurmountable.

To top it off, I just recently got some news that my grandpa might be sick. He called the other day and said next week they’re operating to remove a tumor, and that’s all we really know right now, but it’s making me sick with worry. I can’t sleep, I can’t study, I can’t focus on anything. My friend keeps telling me to think positively because I’m wasting worry on something that hasn’t even happened yet, but I can’t help it. My grandpa is the best person I know. He’s so important to me that I can’t even stomach the thought of something being wrong. I just keep praying.

I need this shitty year to be over. I have some exciting things coming up but it’s all being overshadowed by the Big Bad Shit. I need to find a way to stay grounded and think positively. Just…keep…going.

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you can grow up. i’ve decided it’s okay.

When I found out my best friend was pregnant almost three years ago (has it really been that long?) in November of 2013, I remember thinking in the back of my mind “Oh, my best friend is pregnant. That’s just…what she is now.” It wasn’t an active thought or anything, and obviously I knew my best friend didn’t have a never-ending gestation period, but I couldn’t picture a baby being part of our lives.

The first time he felt really, really real to me was when I felt him kick me. He held out for a while on that, too, but after that it hit me. Oh, hey. There’s a little person and he’ll be here soon.

Then she gave birth, and that was it for me. People tell me you can’t possibly know love until you have a child of your own, but I’ve gotta say they’re crazy because I love my nephew in a way I’ve never loved anyone or anything, and he’s not even biologically related to me. So then I thought, “OK, we’ve got a baby now. He’s going to always be a baby”, in the back of my mind. Sure, babies grow up quick, but not my nephew. Time’s gotta stop, because he’s tiny and perfect. He curls up in my arms and sleeps, and sometimes smiles at me. He will never get bigger.

I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life! I blinked and here we are, almost 2.5 years later, and he’s…well, I watched him climb a ladder at the park last week all by himself, and it blew my damn mind. He’s got┬álikes and dislikes, and he laughs at all the corny stuff I do, and he’s a fierce little ball of fire and personality.

My point is, I spent a lot of time either thinking or praying he wouldn’t grow up; I prayed he would stay small forever. However, this year has shown me that nothing is guaranteed, and all I want in life is for my nephew to grow up. I want him to see, experience and do everything he could ever want in life. I want a lifetime of seeing him smile, hearing his stories, and loving him. I want to share books and movies with him and see the amazing person he’s going to be. I don’t want to live my life afraid of him growing up, or of time passing, because it’s sure as hell going to pass no matter what I want. I want to focus on the experiences, not spend them in quiet existential crisis. Seeing him grow is an incredible experience I couldn’t describe to anyone before.

So grow up, little dude. Don’t do it so fast, but make sure you do it, and don’t let me miss any of it.

9:26

As I sit here on a Friday night at 9:26pm, my eyes are aching. My head is pulsing with the headache that nags at me when I begin to enter that over-tired state. I can barely see in front of me because I’ve been sitting in front of this computer screen doing homework since I got home from work 4.5 hours ago, and because of my fatigue I have little to show for it. I am exhausted-both physically and mentally- and my week still is not over yet. I have one more day of work to go tomorrow and then two days off, which will be filled with even more homework because it’s finals week coming up in my world of 8-week long grad classes.

I should just go to bed. Everything takes so much longer when I’m this exhausted, and I’ve had a really long week. I deserve to try to get some sleep instead of pushing my body and mind to the breaking point. My brain is a fragile thing in and of itself, and taxing it isn’t a good idea.

But…I’m not going to quit just yet.

I might stop in the next five minutes, after I finish this thought. But I won’t quit right now. Call it “glamorizing exhaustion” or whatever new-age thing you want to call it, but I’m not giving up right at this moment. I won’t give up on this paper, these classes, my mess of a life, or my stressful job. I’m not going to use excuses to get in my way of pushing forward. Even though by tomorrow I’ll have worked 7 ten hour days in a row, my alarm goes off at 5am, I take meds that severely fuck up my memory and cognitive skills, and I’m behind on at least 3 assignments, I won’t just say “fuck it” and go to bed right now.

Call me a pretentious white chick all you want, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel tonight.

Though by 9:45, all bets are off.