One Year Later

I am remarkably good at neglecting this website, but I think I’m going to start updating it again. I’m going to start with a recap/autobio, since it’s been a year.

I’m living in the suburbs in northern Virginia, on the very outskirts of what you might call the metro region. I’m living with my girlfriend Amy and our dog Sebastian (who you may remember), among others. I’m a dog babysitter during the day, and an international man of mystery at night. There is little reason to complain or celebrate. By and large I am content.

I contribute trivially and irregularly to clusterflock, so if you want to read things that’ve been on my mind for the past year you might check there. I’m also on twitter, I’ll put that on here somewhere eventually.

SPF: Hero

The topic of Stuff Portrait Friday this week is “Hero.” Anyone who has known me long enough should know how I’ll respond to this one.

My biggest hero is my mom. She has made it through so much in her life, not least of all raising me. I… words fail me.

And she can still laugh like that.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I’m not a very good writer. I tend to be long winded, repetitive, repetitive, abuse, the, hell, out, of, commas, use to many generalities, and other things. That being said, I’m going to keep my recap and precap short. I think I just made that word up. You can use it if you like.

I started my second semester at Virginia Tech in January. I was still in awe about finally being at my dream school. I still am. Something about it just feels right. It’s like finding where I always wanted to be.

My first challenge of the year came in early April when I broke up with my partner of four and a half years. I put on a happy face about it, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard on me as I’m sure it was hard on him. We’re still friends, though we don’t see much of each other. We just had dinner at a little Italian place at home last week and caught up. It’s still a little strange for me, but I guess things work out in time.

I’m not sure how to start talking about April 16. How do you preface something like that? The first thing I did was call my mother. I was on campus, so my roommate picked me up and we watched events unfold on TV. It’s not even real on TV though. You can turn the TV off or go into the next room. In Blacksburg we were inundated with police, media, spiritual and psychological support, just more people than the town was meant to handle. I hunkered down with friends for the week and waited for things to blow over as best I could. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but for at least a day or two after the shootings I wanted to be left alone by all those helpful people. I still get people who ask about it now and then when they find out I was there. I try to dismiss it. I’m not capable of explaining what the experience felt like.

In June I found out that a lingering bump on my elbow was stage 1 lymphoma, of a particularly rare type. I’ve always taken my health for granted. Luckily my mother, who is a nurse, is a hypochondriac for me. My summer was spent in and out of doctor visits. One surgery and three weeks of daily radiation later, not to mention countless diagnostics, I appear to be good as new. Here’s hoping I stay that way.

While I was home over the summer I made a number of close friends. It was good to have someone to hang around with when I was going through all my health issues. It’s sad in a way, since I don’t get to see them often when I’m away at school. I’ll always come back to see them when I’m home.

August marked the beginning of the hardest semester I’ve ever had, and hopefully the hardest I ever will. My favorite material was in the hardest classes. You’d think that would help, but if it did help I shudder to think what would’ve happened if I didn’t like it.

In the family, one cousin is engaged and another had a baby. My brothers haven’t managed to drive my mother crazy yet. The holidays were relatively painless and the food was good. I think as far as families go, I made out pretty good.

I’m looking forward to one more semester at Tech. I’ll graduate in May, and then who knows what? I’m thinking West. I’ll be applying to some graduate programs in animal science, but my goal is that wherever life takes me, it’s toward the setting sun. I’ve played with the idea of staying in Blacksburg, but I have things to do. I need to see the world. There are too many things I haven’t done, and if I sit still now I may never do them. I’m probably late to the game as it is, but I need to do all those things that I will later exaggerate to my nieces and nephews, maybe children? Maybe someday. 2007 was a year of challenges. 2008 is the year of adventures.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever seasonal greeting turns you on. I’m an atheist. I don’t really care what or why you celebrate. If you need an excuse to be around friends and family and be cheerful in spite of shitty weather, I can’t think of a better one. Be happy if you can possibly manage it. Even if you don’t think you can, try. You might surprise yourself.

I’d be lying if I said that the holidays are my favorite time of year. I don’t know when they stopped being, and I’d probably rather not remember right now. Despite that, I can’t manage to be bitter about Christmas on Christmas Eve. I guess some part of me is still 8 years old, giddy with anticipation, the dawn pregnant with possibility. Even knowing what my “big gift” is well in advance and most of the rest, I still find myself a bit restless. It’s just infectious.

I’m with many people I’d like to see tomorrow, and far, far from others. No matter where you find yourself, talk to the people who are important in your life. Tell someone that they’re important to you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, regardless of what you do tomorrow, I hope it makes your life a little bit better than it was yesterday.

Organizing Photos

I was digging through folders on my laptop looking at things that really should be organized and stored on my desktop, and among them was the depressingly small number of photos I took this summer. I felt like sharing one with you. I quite enjoyed it.

How I feel

Do you ever feel like this?

I won’t be entering vet school in the fall of 2008. I haven’t decided what I will be doing yet. I feel burnt out. I’m not sure what I need to do next, but I know that vet school would be a waste of time and money right now. I feel like a year of doing something different would refresh me, and I could use it to strengthen my application.

I also feel kind of lost and hopeless. How the hell did I end up where I am in life? Why? I remember thinking when I was in high school, “If I can just make it to Virginia Tech, I’ll study hard, go to vet school, everything will be awesome.” Where the hell did I get that idea? Virginia Tech? Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty amazing here, but where did it come from? Why vet school? I could’ve gone for computer science and had a useful degree in four years. What do you even do with an animal science degree? Plenty of things, I’m sure. I’ll be looking for animal lab or management jobs. Maybe I’ll do something with breeding. I could get along with a little field experience. Hell, I could just live in Blacksburg for a year or two. Even if my only animal work was volunteer, it doesn’t take much to live comfortably in Blacksburg.

My other major plan, if not vet school, was grad school. It’s different from what I’m doing, but probably not different enough. For now, I’m preparing for but not anticipating going that route. Time will tell.

Beyond words

I am honestly at a loss for what to say about the events that unfolded on the Virginia Tech campus this morning. I was walking across the Drillfield towards GBJ when firing broke out in Norris hall. I had heard nothing about the previous shootings in West AJ. While I recognize that the decision to go on with classes was an informed one, I still feel that it was the University’s responsibility to inform the students of potential danger.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that neither I nor anyone I know was involved. I spent the morning trying to touch base with as many people as possible until the phone network here became absolutely saturated. I hope that I was at least able to set up a cascade so that people wouldn’t have to be worried about my safety. That being said, it’s extremely difficult to place my reaction. Obviously I am not as heavily affected as those whose loved ones have been injured or killed. At the same time though, this is very jarring for everyone involved. I don’t think I’ll really know how I feel for a while yet. They don’t tell you how to react to this sort of thing.

UPDATE 17 Apr 2007 11:21p: I have been mostly disgusted by the media coverage of this event. I think that larger and more distant news outlets get things the most wrong, and locals do the best job. CNN’s article is as sensationalizing as the rest, but if you scroll down towards the bottom, Gov. Tim Kaine’s remarks perfectly echo my sentiment. “People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them.” I don’t deny that there are questions that need to be asked, but there are more important things to deal with right now.

On the other side of the coin, I am deeply touched by the outpouring of support from universities and individual students across the country and abroad. There has been a huge “We are all Hokies” movement, with students wearing maroon and orange to show support. That is probably the best response that I’ve heard about. I’m glad that the younger generation have a grip on what’s important. We’re going to need it going forward.


I got back from Thanksgiving at home last night, but that drive really takes it out of you.

So I was home all last week for Thanksgiving. We did the whole dinner thing on Thursday with Mom’s big family. There were two pork shoulders weighing in somewhere around 25 lbs, a deep fried turkey and a traditionally cooked turkey, wet and dry stuffing, pineapple mold, mashed potatoes, sweet potato with marshmallows, carrot casserole, broccoli casserole, and more arroz con gandules (orange rice with green pidgeon peas) than you could shake a stick at. I didn’t really have any turkey. The pork roasts were so phenomenal that to eat any other meat would take away.

I felt reasonably miserable for a good portion of break. I think I’m allergic to my house. My sinuses got all plugged up, then that dripped down the back of my throat and into my lungs. The result was a painful wheezing cough and quite a bit of difficulty falling asleep. I’m still having some of the lung issues. That will take a couple of days to clear.

Holiday traffic was hellish. The vast majority of my ten hour trip is spent on I-81, from Binghamton, NY to Christiansburg, VA. All the way through PA and the brief corners of MD and WV were congested, but there weren’t too many slowdowns. I hit a couple of spots in VA near I-66 and I-64 where traffic was crawling. They cleared up as soon as I passed the exits. Then near Roanoke, for no discernible reason, I was at a dead stop on the interstate for 45 minutes. When that happens at the beginning of a trip, it’s frustrating. When that happens in the eleventh hour of a ten hour trip, one begins inventing new profanities.

I’m home now, though, and my roommate erected a holiday tree, and Sebastian is still adorable, and the water damage in my wall is finally corrected, and I’m going to eat a bowl of cereal and ponder navel lint.