Friday, November 20, 2009

The 19th Year: Rewind, I'm not sure how many of you valued readers and followers out there are aware, but I turn twenty in two days. Yes, twenty, as much as my sister would like to ignore that (I won't tell you how old she'll be, she might get mad at me for that - but the answer is in this blog somewhere, and I know you people can do math) because to her I'll always be her little sister, big-eyed and small in the front seat of mom's car as we drive to Barnes and Noble.

So, I thought I would take the opportunity and share a little bit of what my nineteenth year on this planet has been like.

At three in the morning on November 25, 2008, my friends barged into my dorm room, decorated in the near-dark while I was still in bed, and at least let me climb out of it before they silly stringed me and my half o the room, also throwing silver star confetti into the air. (If my computer weren't asking for me to upload a flash player, I'd put the video here for you to see. You'll just have to make due with a photo or two.)

Julie baked the cupcakes, and they all decorated the windows of my room in spectacular fashion. Yes, there is no "h" in birthday, and there's a thing about visiting Seneca Castle because I was under the impression that there was a legitimate castle in Seneca Castle and then realized it was false advertising.

The rest of the day, once I'd drank enough sparkling apple cider and eaten cupcakes to be properly sugar high, and eventually gone back to sleep, entailed a calculus review thing that I attended, and then it was time to pack up and wait for dad to come get me.

Pretty sure we celebrated my birthday along with celebrating Thanksgiving, which was cool, since we've done it before. Sometimes (like next year, I've looked at it) it actually falls on Thanksgiving, which just means turkey instead of pizza and pie instead of cake (but there's also usually one floating around.)

Here's not one of my bright moments. Before he was my boyfriend, and, now, more importantly, my ex, he was my best friend. Personally, I would love to know who simply goes to dinner about forty minutes from home, but hey, that's none of my business. So, when I get a call from them - "Can we come visit?" - there was just...I couldn't say no. Let me be more specific - I couldn't say no to him. Which, came back to bite me in the ass like it always does because while I thought I had a lid on this, I clearly didn't. They didn't stay long, him and the new girlfriend (eventually fiance - and please, let's not talk about that) yet the effects were a little more than I had bargained for.

It took the reprise of "I'll Cover You" from RENT after "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" Rehearsal for me to sit there on the floor of the auditorium and simply start to bawl my eyes out. There were only three other people there, and I must have sat there and cried for a good forty minutes. Then my friends that were there, bundled me back to my room and from there to Wegman's to get pints of cookie dough ice cream, because that was really the only thing that you could do in that situation. And she stayed with me, through my pint and a half of ice cream (one of my other friends had bought Hagen-Daaz, wondering if it was as good or better than Ben and Jerry's) and drinking our way through bottles of Izze soda. Yeah, so...not one of my better days.

I think the next order of business, the next big thing, was the trip to NYC that I planned.

Well, that my sister and I had planned. Early that semester I had applied for, and been accepted into this career services thing through my colleges called "A Day of Publishing in NYC." It's about as self-explanatory as it looks, no joke. We visited some of the big publishing houses in the industry - McGraw-Hill - they were very amazing to us. One of them is a college alum, and after posing for pictures with him, we heard about how he'd gotten from college to where he was. He explained it was networking. Let me point out right now that the weather outside had been absolutely horrible - a combination snow/rain, downright damn cold, and I was running late. When Heather and I finally found the building, and I got my visitors pass - complete with horrible picture of me in my hat and looking thoroughly bedraggled and like every inch the country child in the big city that I was - I actually shared the elevator with one of the McGraw-Hill Top Dogs. Didn't know it at the time. And of course we're on the fifty-something floor, which means the view out of the floor-length windows of the city skyline is absolutely gorgeous and I'm really tempted to go stand by the window and simply gawk (which, I didn't) and I did my best not to notice that I was wearing my hospital bracelet around my wrist.

Yes, the Day of Publishing was the day before my Surgery.

Not to mention that yes, while I'm wearing my good brown pants with the red pinstripes in them, and my red sweater, I'm also wearing my Converse because when my mother hems pants, she damn well makes sure you won't be walkin' on the bottoms, especially if you're her slightly vertically challenged youngest child.

Which, no joke, the woman (who's also someone very important in the company) and kind of in charge of this whole affair, on their end, notices. And this is the type of woman that if she were to take a "What Animal Are You?" quiz on Facebook it would come back barracuda every time. Somehow, I think she liked me. I think it was the Converse.

From there, it was to Conde Nast.

But the most important one, that was RandomHouse. Now, when I heard that we would be going to RandomHouse, I literally started salivating. I've sent RandomHouse a copy of my coverletter. It's most likely lost in the slush pile that is a commercial publishing house, but a girl can hope, right? And I prepared, too. I took copies of my cover letter with me, and, actually, in the end, it really didn't matter. They guy from the fiction department told me to mail a letter again. And he didn't say that he'd look at it. Which, is understandable, but you'd think you'd at least humor the person in front of you by looking at it. But hey, maybe that's the publishing industry.

On the plus side, I now know what it's like on that side of the letter. I think I'll stick to my side.

Right. So, after having some communication issues about shuttle times back to the hotel, Heather and I finally made it out of the city and back into the Sunfire and headed back toward upstate. That was quite the ride back - we encountered snow and horrible wind up in the Poconos (but you could really see the lights from the ski resort, and the chair lifts, which was cool) and of course I couldn't have anything to eat after midnight, which cut down on the fact that you wanted to fall asleep in the front seat and couldn't even have chocolate to keep yourself awake at one in the morning.

Rolling right into that was the first time in my life that I've ever surgery. I remember laying there in the day surgery ward, and mom was sittin' next to me, holdin' my hand because I was scared. I knew it was supposed to find out what was wrong with me, to see what was making me have pain that I wasn't supposed to have, but how calm can you be when you know someone's going to slice you open and look at your insides?

One of the last things I remember was when they put the first half of the sedative in my IV line, and things kind of blanked out for a minute, and I came to again after they'd somehow gotten me onto the table. And I remember looking up and looking at this guy, who I think was the doctor - I think - and saying, because I could hear Matchbox Twenty playing in the background, "That's Matchbox Twenty" and then the next thing that I remember was that I was waking up a little bit when some of the nurses rolled me on my side and my belly kind of hurt.

I have three scars. Two on the sides, rather near my hips, and one in my belly button where they literally sliced it in two.

I missed the first time that my niece went tubing because I couldn't do anything but walk short distances and sit. I still had internal stitches, by my belly button, and still wasn't allowed to lift anything heavy. Two weeks out of surgery I moved back into my dorm room. Heather had to come with us because I couldn't lift anything. Walking back and forth to class that first week was all that I really could do, and I had to be careful not to slip.

Course at that time, it's the middle of hockey season, so, the Saturday night that first week, two of my good friends and I decided to go to a hockey game. And we're taking the short cut by the BPOE Elks club, down the snowy path, and one of them is in front of me, to catch me, and the other has a death grip on my arm.

Well, we missed the game. It was played at earlier that day at 4, and we arrived in what would be at timely manner for the 7 p.m. game. So, while we were there, we stayed and ice skated. Now, at that point, I had never ice skated in my life. And we did it, me included, with the stipulation that A) We wouldn't tell my mother because I still wasn't allowed do anything but walk, eat, sleep, and go to class and B) That they wouldn't let go of me.

And when we hit the ice and my first thought was, I'm not sick anymore.

Which, didn't actually hold true for as long as I wanted it.

The boyfriend in February.

I brought my best friend from college home for Easter. She met most of my crazy, large, happy family and while I think she was a little shell-shocked at first, I'm pretty sure she had fun.

I pulled two all-nighters for my first year of college. The first was for Relay for Life; Freddy came back for that, and after it was done in the morning, we all went for breakfast at a place downtown. It was awesome. The second was when I was procrastinating on my final history paper. (The second probably wasn't an all-nighter, but close enough.)

I started my own blog, which you fabulous people are currently reading.

There was another medical procedure in my future, um, but this was a little less in its recovery time and more important in its preparation, instead. I never want to turn 50, plain and simple, if I have to do this again. And if I never taste anything lemon-lime flavored again in my life it will be too soon. On the bright side, I got to have lunch afterward, brought home doughnuts, and then crashed in my bed once I got home. Because I had been under conscious sedation - basically you're so out of it but still awake - they don't want you to drive for twenty-four hours. And by drive, they generally assume you'll be driving a car. But, lucky me, that afternoon was my safety procedures meeting at my job. And I work on a dinner boat. And I found out then that I'm the lucky one that gets to drive it, should the captain become incapacitated. So here I am, up in the pilot house, literally hands on the wheel, and going to myself, I can't drive a car but I'm expected to park this 200 plus passenger boat without breaking it? My next thought of course, was, Please Greg, don't let me crash your baby. I don't have the money to cover the insurance. But everything turned out okay. And Greg did most of the actual parking of said boat.

I think of my earlier posts this year, back when I started blogging, was about some of my favorite cruises that far into the season. We were only a week or two in, dealing mostly with high school cruises - senior class dinners (both college and high school) and all-night parties. But one Sunday we had a group from Canada, who had played a concert the night before in Corning. Thinking back, I think I can label this one as my favorite cruise from last summer. They were a Welsh choir (which makes me entirely happy, considering where I'm going in less than a year) and they were just absolutely amazing. Sunday dinner has entertainment, but when our music took a break, the choir started. Of course, we're right in the middle of serving dinner, and next thing you know, this choir who, when they first came on board, started either playing the spoons with their soup spoon and dinner spoon or made hats out of their napkins, starts singing the best version of "Sloop John B" that I have ever heard.

My summer passed kind of quick, and in the middle of July my best friend Em, from Massachusetts, says to me, "We're staying in Martha's Vineyard for two weeks, do you want to come out for one of them?"

Hell. Yes.

So, I get the time off from work, buy my plane tickets after much debate how exactly to get there by myself, and before you know it, mom's driving me to the local airport at an ungodly hour of the morning so I can get on a 5:40 flight to Philadelphia to get my other flight to take me to Boston.

I love to travel. I do. There's just this feeling I get in my chest when I leave the place that I've always been to go explore somewhere new. And when we were taxiing down the runway, it was awesome. Except for the part where I got stuck in Philadelphia for 21 hours on the way back. And ended up getting a flight into Ithaca, instead, while my luggage went to Elmira, and I landed at 1:20, got home at 3 after eating dinner, and went to work at 4. It was great, it was one of the most fun experiences, to be out there in the Vineyard, and to see the island, and go to the beach, get smashed by the waves, and generally just have a blast.

I think this picture explains everything.

Here's another not so fun part of my nineteenth year. I spend two weeks in pre-season soccer, and a few days before the last weekend (school starts on the following Monday) I have this interesting conversation with one of my teammates about the level of play and fitness. Of which, while my heart is undoubtedly there, my body simply isn't. After an almost excruciating talk with the coach, it's decided that I will not play soccer this season, for the first time in fourteen years, and will instead take the season off and work on my fitness, hoping to rejoin the team in January. As soccer has been my life for fourteen straight years, this was not pleasant to handle. My mother, bless her, drove 45 minutes to be here with me that same night because I was not handling it well. And, considering I had a few days to go before I could kind of vanish into the proverbial background, I was not there all-together yet. Despite my first inclination, meals weren't difficult - the team had sort of been informed, and nobody really said anything about it. They went to practice, and I - I took a cycling class and biked all over town, interspersed with running. When school started, I played a little bit with the men's club team, and generally did homework and other things. I still went to games and cheered for the girls, my friends, and it was okay.

Then came the emails where the coaching staff needed to know how many were going to Brazil.

Honestly, I hadn't played that season. I hadn't even been asked to be on the JV sideline, I hadn't been asked to do anything further with the fundraising, and, quite simply, it was more stress than I probably needed. When I really thought about it, I realized that I would gladly trade one week in Brazil for an entire semester somewhere else, specifically somewhere in the UK/continental Europe. Soccer at that level, was simply not an option for me anymore, as painful as it is to recognize and accept. It doesn't mean that I still don't play - I just play for fun, like I've always done. Now it just has a different kind of connotation.

And, now that I have the option of hindsight, I can see that everything worked out in the end. I tried out for the campus production, Eurydice, got cut from that, and then tried out for the community theater show. I made that. I got to be part of the first performance in the new community center's black box theater. I made new friends, had new experiences, and learned something a little different. You might think I'm trying to convince myself that I'm okay, and maybe I am. But this is the direction that I've veered into, and it's working. And intramural soccer is coming up, so I'll have something else to do, too.

It's no secret that I'm in the teaching program. And, actually, I taught my very first lesson last Thursday, November 19th. I taught covalent bonding to 28 impressionable Regents chemistry students, who, were very well-behaved at the time. I was incredibly nervous, but it turned out quite well, in the end. And, I think, they got it. Which is enough to make anybody happy.

This past Sunday (yesterday, actually) my family had my birthday party because we're traveling to my cousin's for Thanksgiving and it was the best day to do it. Which, among the hilarity that ensues whenever we have a family get together, what I come away with, most memorably (other than my niece helping me open my presents) is

"I was so pissed I needed a torch to find my crumpet in the telly." (Which, if you know some phrases/words in British, you should find this quite entertaining)

Which brings me to now. November 23. In two days, at 10:25 p.m., I will turn 20 years old. In a sort of honor to that, I'll do a quick run-down of my favorite memories from my 19th year, in case there was so much text in this one that your head was swimming three paragraphs in (and there may be more photographs, too!):

+My friends bought me the 12-scooper from Friendly's after my no-dairy week when the doctor's were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. They then assisted me in eating it.

+A crazy trip to NYC with my sister - and a badass road mix CD from my brother-in-law that, every time we hear certain songs, think of that trip specifically


+Ice skating for the first time

+Almost making Dean's list first semester of first year

-The trip to Greece (NY) to get sets, also in which Steve tipped his car

+The hilarity that was "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

+Reconnecting with friends while seeing Star Trek for the first time (the new one)

+Traveling to see my best friend and getting stuck somewhere on my own for the first time

+Legitly keeping a journal

+Watching Madaline in the Lake

-The idea that an exboyfriend of mine would be working with me over the summer

+Getting up 5 days a week and working out at 6 in the morning

I think this video, and this song, embodies the idea that life is a journey, a hard one, sometimes, but a journey nonetheless and that, despite what it might try to throw at you, it's still the only place that you'd rather be.

Well, as per usual, I don't really know what the hell I'm doing in terms of trying to put something here, so I'll just put the link. And damn it, Heather, you need to at least listen to it! It's my birthday, humor me. "I'm Alive" - Kenny Chesney, ft Dave Matthews

And here is where I freely admit my love of country music. There, I said it. It should have been obvious, but yes, it's now in print. that we've recapped the 19th year - here's to this new one coming up, and to the next twenty, whatever they may bring.

[I would like to thank everyone in my life and those from whom I borrowed the pictures from (Facebook, most likely) and thanks to my family for simply being as amazing as you are. Thank you.]

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz