Going home

I’m moving back upstate next month. I’m just having a tough time finding a job related to animal science in Blacksburg, and with the rent hikes on next year’s lease I just can’t afford to stay here. I’m hoping that my tax refund will hold me over until I can get something substantial.

I need to go back to school.

Back

A lot of things have happened since my last post.

I graduated from Virginia Tech with my BSc in Animal and Poultry Sciences. They gave me this neat little (ok, it’s pretty large) piece of paper with fancy letters and a bunch of unnecessary words. I guess I’m pretty excited about that. I should scan it and put a copy online or something, but I don’t have a scanner that large handy.

What with being graduated, I couldn’t keep working at the college. My job was funded by federal work study money, and they don’t give that to graduates. I am currently in the employ of a major retail chain (no, I won’t tell you which one) until I can find something that is at least remotely related to my training. Ideally I’d get a vet tech job and they would help me get more training or maybe get into vet school. For now I’m just worried about paying bills.

There is someone new in my life. I’m not going to say much about that right now. We’ll see where things go before I say too much more. Yes, he’s cute (or at least I think so). No, I’m not going to answer any other questions right now. Perhaps I’ll take the example of a fellow blogger (Hi Scott!) and refer to him here by a nickname.

My cancer is still in remission. There’s not much to say there, I guess. No news is good news. I’ll see my oncologist again in January, unless something else comes up before then.

I’ve moved into my new apartment, where I’ll be living for the next year at least. I’ve moved in with friends of mine, a couple, one of whom cooks and insists that I at least provide notice if I will not be home for dinner. This situation is quite acceptable to me, as it results in my diet being much healthier and less expensive than it might otherwise be.

For now, life is smooth sailing. One day I’ll want more than this, but for now I am content.

Cows.

Today I had my hand, halfway up the forearm, in the back end of a heifer. No pictures, unfortunately. I also helped to bottle feed a Charolais calf, with pictures to follow as soon as they get sent to me.

See, the cool thing about being in Animal and Poultry Sciences is that you actually do stuff in classes. Microbiology lab is like “Here, do a stain on this bacteria we’ve cultured here for literally millions of generations and we already know exactly what’s going to happen if you do it right.” Beef Production lab is “This heifer needs a magnet, pelvic diameter checked, and to be deloused so that she can be sold or become a producing cow next year. Watch me. You do the next one.”

Four weeks in.

It’s way too early in the semester for this to be the fourth week of classes.

I have three exams this week, in horse production, beef production, and microbiology. I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything yet! Don’t they know I’m a senior? I’m old! These things take time to sink in.

I was laid-up for most of last week with what the health center doctor assured me was “not the flu.” I don’t care what it wasn’t, it was a solid week of fever above 100°F. It was probably not helped by being out in barns on Monday and Wednesday for labs. The problem with labs is that you can’t make them up. Unless you are being physically prevented from getting to the appointed location, you go to lab. So I went to my labs, and my bug raged on.

Aside from the week of illness (the first I’ve had since being in college) the semester is going well. I can Gram stain with my eyes closed, estimate slaughter cattle weight within 50 lbs (usually), and point out five reasons why a given horse should never ever have babies. Incidentally, the horses don’t seem to mind so long as you do it in a low soothing voice and rub their chest.

Ok, well, maybe I have learned something.

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.

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.

School daze

Classes are really taking it out of me. I’m graduating in the spring, but I occasionally wonder if I’ll survive that long. (Pro tip: I’m not in any actual danger of dying.) I’m more than a little bit frustrated with my graduation requirements, and how many of them I have left. I’ll spare you the details, but I end up having to take 18 credits in my final semester, whereas the intention is that a student will take 15 credits for 8 semesters and graduate right on schedule. I can’t remember a 15 credit semester.

I turned 22 last weekend. It was relatively uneventful. I hung out quietly with friends. I always intend to get rested on weekends, but I never end up doing it. Oh well.

I fail at updates.

I finished my course of radiation. That means that I’m officially considered to be in remission, or whatever. The area is still a little pink, but that should clear up within a couple days. I’m still really sleepy a lot. I’m gonna have to talk to someone about that if it keeps up through the end of the week. It’s way too early in the semester for it to be this hard to go to class, even an 8am.

Speaking of early in the semester, I’m back at Virginia Tech for what will hopefully be my last year. My schedule looks like hell, but at least I’m done by 5:30. I’ll post a copy if I ever get around to making one, or else I won’t.

The beginning of the semester is really expensive, and the fall more so than the spring. It makes me sad. I think I’ll start working again on Monday. I ♥ my campus job.