What Is College?

As I find myself sprawling on my dorm room floor shoveling goldfish down my mouth by the handful, coming down from another verge of hysterical crying, I find myself asking: Is this what college is?

Is it a series of emotional breakdowns always on the horizon, an “objects may be closer than they appear” attached?

Is it cursing the institution for not understanding that 250 sheets of print credits while it sounds like enough is nowhere near enough for literally every single major?

Is it wondering why the fuck girls who wear eyeliner to exercise class? Are smudgey eyes in vogue these days? Should I at least give them credit for caring enough about their appearance to throw on a line of black/brown/peacock blue?

Is it getting stuck on shitty dates and having to split the bill last second and watching a days worth of meager wages vanish in thin air?

Is it feeling confident, and then getting a few lower grades than expected and suddenly having an existential crisis about it?

Is it missing your dogs so painfully and realizing that you cannot function without a dog, or really someone, who loves you so constantly and completely in your life close by?

Is it realizing that you have to fight for yourself, to learn how to advocate for you, to literally get even just a few more pennies for your education?

Having to constantly feel like you have to prove yourself?

Is it the panic of wondering ‘will I graduate on time’? The terror of ‘how can I afford this’? The fear of ‘what will I do if xyz don’t work out’?

How about cramming 4 major papers into a week?

Yes.

BUTT

Its also spontaneous late night romps with your friends in your room.

Spontaneously going to poetry readings and faculty lectures.

Bonding over shitty dinning hall food with people you barely know.

Learning awesome, amazing, mind boggling, downright crazy stuff on the daily.

Realizing you won’t get it all done. That no one does. And hey, its okay.

Growing as a person and an individual.

Realizing that you are awesome, and getting your ass kicked to the next level of awesome because you are awesome and capable of nothing but awesomeness.

Sleep is not for the weak. But if needed is optional for a few days of each semester if used responsibly.

Its realizing teachers are human too.

Its learning that even on the shittiest days when the universe is kicking you while you are down that you can get back up and do it all again.

It is finally understanding what it is you want to do and achieve in the world.

That this, what ever you want to call this, is beautiful.

 

 

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The Midway Point

I just realized today that I haven’t written a single post since I have gotten to college. I guess time really has gotten the better of me, in this case. A lot has happened so I guess I will start at the beginning with what I can recall.

The first weeks of school went swimmingly. Of course there were the moments of insecurity, doubt, and sadness that surface when I thrust myself into new places and situations. But I powered through, mainly because once tuition is paid there is no backing out. I really missed my dogs, that has probably been the hardest thing about living away from home for me. I miss their snuggles and being able to curl up with them whenever I need a breather or some love.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into the semester one of our dogs, Zoey, got very sick. Her diagnosis: 3rd degree heart block. The next step would have been to see a doggy cardiologist and then surgery to get a pacemaker. But my parents, seeing the x-rays and her pulse and EKG knew that this was something already far progressed. That’s I think one of the good things about having parents who know medicine, they know when medicine comes short and it comes to enjoying the remaining quality of life. So in the end Zoe was allowed to live out the rest of her natural life. Both T. and I came home from college and got to be with her on her last day. It was hard to see her suffer, it was hard to know this is it. She died at 12:07am on October 4, 2 months and 2 days shy of her 11th birthday. Some days live in infamy in our lives, now I have two. 

I am doing much better now, grief is a steady companion but not overbearing. Its little things, like her popping up in a dream, or tomatoes (For those of you who didn’t know, Zoey had a habit of eating our mother’s tomatoes. Like all of them, no Tomatoes were harvested this summer. They’d be almost ripe and we’d go to get them the next day and they would be gone. In hindsight she probably did this to keep her blood pressure up, as tomatoes, their leaves, and stems, contain a chemical that ups the blood pressure in dogs).

There is still Ginger to be snuggled and loved, and maybe another little sister for her coming soon.

College kicked my butt at first. Being in Costa Rica let me slide in terms of my academic/intellectual thinking, but I have finally got into the swing of it. I am making friends, learning how to not stress about everything, and growing up. I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff and experience things I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I ended up switching out of my History in the News class into A History of American Sexuality class. I have to say, I love it. I really love my majors, even though planning them out causes me a great deal of anxiety at times. Seriously, I had a week long stress fest over the fact that I am not going to be able to finish in 2 years. I could do it in 2.5, but I am applying to do a semester away at a satellite location and get a super good internship down while still doing classes and not having to worry about how expensive they are. Really though, it is upsetting how bad the internship situation has gotten. It is absurd, to say the least.

But anyways, planning for the future is a lot less stressful now. I have my classes laid out for the next semester, and the game plan is set. But as always is bound to change like 5 more ways by Sunday. Here is to taking it one day at a time, mainly because there is always a ridiculous amount of reading to do.

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Zoey’s last stroll around the yard

The End of Another Sumer

Another month, another summer, another school year, another last minute panic scramble attempt at packing. While I am glad to be going and about classes starting again there is still a hint of worry an anxiety that comes with new things. And I have become a terrible homebody as we all know. Well maybe just me, but now you know too. As I sit here I realize how out of shape with typing I have gotten. Like this is mildly painful and exacerbating. Did you know that exacerbating is an annoying word to type?

So where did I leave off last? Well My cousin got married to her superfab fiance. My aunt from DC took me shopping for a dress the day before, because thats how we as a family role. I still don’t know how I feel about weddings. They can be fun, and mushy, and happy, and sad. Also, dancing at them is the bomb. Anyone who argues otherwise clearly doesn’t know how to have fun.

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The Happy Couple

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Me and da Bro. Shout out to the person using flash and taking a picture too and making me look like a ghost

After that it was a lot of working and trying to make time to see people and do things. I ended up playing in a friend’s Symphony Orchestra that he conducted. It was a pretty good concert, ambitious definitely, but it came together marvelously and I enjoyed the experience. Except, playing that much horn ended up exacerbating my hands a bit.

I am finally, praise the entities of the universe, done working for the summer. While I can go back to all three jobs, I only anticipate going back to one for breaks and such. Its the only one I enjoyed and felt fully comfortable in. And while it was nice to amount a few thousand in the bank, paying for tuition, textbooks, and all the small things I needed this fall at one point put me broker than when I got back from Costa Rica. YIKES.

Despite the amount of work I had going on I still managed to go on some family excursions in August. The first was to a privately owned zoo that this guy in a village nearby runs. While like any zoo we got to see the animals, this one was cool because we got to feed them too if we opted. Which we clearly opted to feed the giraffe, because why wouldn’t you? IMG_0223

Zoos are a complicated issue. Are they good? Are they bad? Talking to one of the woman who works there(my parents knew her when she was little because they were friends with her parents), I could definitely see the good, the mission/goal of this small one. The animals are clearly well taken care of, and it allows kids and people who have never seen animals to get a first hand encounter: Up close, personal, and something they will remember. As hundreds more animals become endangered and go extinct, maybe these bonds, interactions, and childhood memories can make a difference in encouraging conservation. But then again you can never predict these things. And who am I to make these bold assertions?

Zoey, one of our family dogs, has had a rough time this summer. The arthiritis in her hips got a bit rough, she couldn’t stand on slippery surfaces in the morning. But with regular exercise and a supplement she seems to be doing a lot better. She also doesn’t stop eating when she is full. Those neurons just don’t seemed to be hooked up. Our dog food storgae container is right at her height and one day after filling it and no one was home she got into it and ate probably around 4 cups of food. Needless to say she was sick that night, throwing up on her walk, in my bed, in her crate. But this carried on into the next day. After a day of fasting though she got better, but had to be jailed off into an easy to clean area where she couldn’t get into any food.

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Zoey in Jail: Does she regret everything? Probably not.

The medicine for my RA seems to be helping. Sure it can make me painfully gassy at times, but that has mostly passed. I do have achy moments and achy days, but nothing terribly excruciating, and if I get up and do things and move about I usually tend to feel better or not notice the pain. But I do notice that I I can have problems opening cans and jars. That standing 12 hours a day does not do wonders for my feet the next day. And unfortunately chocolate and foods that are proceed/contain high fructose corn syrup, tend to exacerbate the discomfort I feel the next day. I am pretty satisfied with my choice of medicine and how I have been able to manage the pain quite well. While sometimes I still feel angry and bitter about it, Its a passing feeling. I have to learn how to deal with the cards I have been dealt. I have been dealt some that have made me swallow my pride, encouraged emotional and charecter growth, resilience, and now life outlook and endurance. Also the fostering of life long healthy habits. I have been running again, and while my feet may not always like it it feels good. And with the yoga I notice a huge improvement in my hands and ankles. Nothing is impossible if you try, right?

I move into college tomorrow and start a JumpStart program. As I like to explain it with my sense of humor, is that it involves sitting in a circle singing kumbayah while making friends. But I actually get to see and do some pretty col things. I am doing the “green Tour” which means I’ll be experiencing nature, farming, and green practices and lifestyles that make up Ithaca. Something I am excited and curious about because of my time in Costa Rica. Then classes will start, I’ll blink, and it will be thanksgiving and time to register for spring classes. Which, includes grammar. So I’ve included one of the more amusing grammatical illustrations that I have found. Because we could all use a giggle or a smirk of a smile. #OxfordCommaForLyfe

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No. 1’s Report

It has been a busy July so far, with no intent of slowing down. But I don’t mind.

I have always like Lana Del Rey. Since I first heard her sing their was something about her voice and her lyrics that just soothe me. I mention this because I find summers sad, and often unbearably lonely. They draw everyone and everything in different directions and while there is downtime and free time to be had, at the same time schedules never match and plans go unrealized. It gets depressing at times, and perhaps I spend way too much time talking to my dogs or catching naps between shifts. But I guess it is important to enjoy it while it lasts. Work, internships, grown-up responsibilities: They seem too close at times. I am excited that I am learning and growing and developing. But sometimes the perpetuation of lazy summers is something I want to never give up. There is a certain nostalgia and feel to them that you always smile about even on the days you are bored to tears.

I paid of my library fees, had an eye exam and picked out new frames, and got my hair cut again. I liked my hairdresser today. She was young and sweet and comforted me with the fact that not all young people enjoy drinking, and not all young people like going out every single night and party hard. I say this because I cannot drink, due to the medication I am on(I am more than willing to elaborate if you ask me personally). I do not mind tagging along, but sometimes I feel very out of place and even strange for not having an alcohol-centric life, and that I never will. That I enjoy and prefer a lot of things over events and gatherings involving it and centering around its consumption. I don’t like it: not the taste nor the way it makes me feel or the way I feel like I am fighting to maintain control of my body. I don’t mind if you do, I just ask you to respect that I don’t like it.

Work is work and if all goes well in the next month (literally, I have like a month until I’ll be panicking about moving in), I will have made enough to pay what I need to for the fall. I will probably end up working in the dinning hall but there are worse things in life. Hell, as I have found out sometimes dinning beat retail in terms of experience and dealing with customer problems. Also, in dinning they don’t require you to shove lines of credit down people’s throats. But anyway, I think i am going to be really happy at and in Ithaca. Another day closer to classes which I am eager to begin and thoroughly excited about. I smile thinking about buying my textbooks. That might make me crazy, but what can I say, I am zealous about education and I so happy to finally begin studying what I am passionate about.

I ran a race on the 4th of July with my mom. A fundraiser one, small, but for Ovarian cancer research. The woman that gave her my current beautiful bedroom set passed about 2 years ago after a long battle with it. We wore a set of our matching shirts(Minions!) and jogged at a nice comfortable pace. It was one of those days that made me love running. They also had a raffle auction and we bought some tickets and I won some hair products.

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Look Ma, I didn’t win a stripper!

This past Sunday I went to Buffalo with my mom to keep her company for T.’s Orientation. On Monday night, we went to Niagara falls, me for the first time. It was a small little town and we walked through the state park and strained with the other tourists to get a view of the falls. We planned to come back the next day and do all the stereotypical things, but as we opened the door of our hotel(more like motel) room to the parking lot it was pouring. So we drove over anyways and first went to the Aquarium. Small but quaint.Then we walked to Canada, in the pouring rain huddled under our one umbrella. It was interesting not only how much cleaner the Canadian side was but more picturesque and inviting. Also, a lot more stuff to do. They also get the better view of the falls. We had some ice cream before we strolled back. I have finally, officially, been to Canada.

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Now if only it wasn’t raining…

I also potted my mint Plant and Lavender today! I am quite proud of myself for growing the lavender from itty bitty little seeds, and for not killing either of them yet. I am hoping to bring one or both to college, hoping being the keyword.

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Started Woolf’s “Orlando” and on deck is Atwood’s “Year of the Flood”. I have finished my fourth Star Trek series and I have yet to begin any others, or even finish The Next Generation Movies. I don’t like the finality of it being over and not being able to ‘tag along’ anymore. Of course I can start all over again, but you can anticipate. And I am sure all of those sucker punches they threw will hurt just as bad as the first time around. Silly as you may think it sounds, Star Trek has gotten me through a lot, and a lot of it rings near and dear to my heart. It has inspired me and aroused my curiosity and I wouldn’t be myself without it. It has spurned a love of sci-fi and perhaps hope in humanity’s future.

At least things like these will never cease to make me giggle.

At least things like these will never cease to make me giggle.

The Not so Morning Report

A lot has happened, and not a lot has happened. Its the universal paradox of break/summer. Time flies by rapidly but at the same time seems to drag on ad nauseam.

So I went to orientation. It was okay. I ended up in a triple room all by myself. When we went downtown we took refuge in a bookstore for a few minutes because it was raining. I bought 4 books (“Ulysses”, “The Color Purple”, “Orlando”, and “To the Lighthouse”). I didn’t click with my peers too well, more so with the orientation leaders, but they are trained to get along with everyone, so I don’t know. BUT, most excitingly I signed up for classes. I’ll be taking the full course load but I could not be more stoked about the timing and the classes that I will be taking.

Screenshot (120)Literally, I am so excited. It was also nice that I was the only writing transfer student that day. It allowed the summer adviser to really help me. He was super nice, and helpful. Quite a few of my classes were full and he helped to get the override so that I could get into them.

Work has been work. I like the set hours at the gas station. Also its nice that I basically get to have like 2-3 hours every shift during which I can sit and read. Sometimes more depending on the day. It has already allowed  me to get through 2.5 books so far. And I am managing to get enough hours to get enough money to pay for college. I am just not sure how I am going to work at school (On campus? Off campus? One job? 20,000?), but I still have some time to figure that out. Also, I selected housing with other transfer students. Have no idea who my roommate will be, but I guess I will learn and find out.

As for arthritis, I am doing well. Some days I am tender, swollen, and achy but it is mostly in my hands and is becoming increasingly less common. Keeping busy helps to distract me and keeps me moving. I have been on the medicine about 2 weeks now and I am doing well. My hair isn’t falling out and I don’t have dreams any more vivid than usual (hair loss and vivid dreams are possible side effects, hair loss is linked to certain dosage levels in certain people, and malaria meds are infamous for their vivid dreams). I am still often perpetually tired, but I am sure the long working hours are partially to blame. I got up at 4:30 yesterday as I worked 5a-2p. Talk about gross. As much as I would like to call myself a morning person, I really am an aspiring one right now. But one day.  But I am making it, and it is all going well.

But I am Barely 20…

So some of you may recall I had a weird time with my left foot in Costa Rica. It would swell, on the rare occasion it would hurt but in the end I didn’t do a whole lot about it.

A side by Side Comparison

A side by Side Comparison

It was bad, probably worse than I thought.

It was bad, probably worse than I thought.

But the swelling went away, only to return when I wore certain shoes or walked too much. Of course my mom and I were slightly concerned, but obviously not enough that we felt I should take the plunge and go to the hospital. So my mom set me up for an appointment when I got home. Of course the receptionists and nurses tweaked out and demanded to see me immediately which didn’t exactly put my mind at ease but hey, I had made it that long right?

So my appointment, literally two days after I got home involved not only a slew of blood work, but also an X-ray to see if it was a stress fracture and a sonogram of the leg to make sure I didn’t have a clot. I was panicky. I was hoping it was just a stress fracture and life would be fine. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. I anxiously awaited to see what my test results would be. The results were for the most part negative. Except for on the Arthritis Panel. There was one little anomaly. The speckled pattern, which is supposed to be between 0 and 49 came up as 250. My hand had started swelling and my fingers were sore and inflamed so with heavy heart I went to see the Rheumatologist especially since a family history was in there too.

I was the youngest person in the waiting rooms. It was…strange. The wait was terrible but the doctor informative. We talked about what was going on and possible options and he ordered some more tests. Of course these tests came up just like the last ones (no Lyme, but at least i didn’t have Lupus).

So here I am 20 and 2 months old and I have seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, with Psoriatic Arthritis in my future because it has a very strong genetic inheritance and my symptoms only really appear on the left side of my body. R.A. is an autoimmune disorder. This means that for whatever reason my body has decided to attack its own tissue causing pain, swelling, and in general discomfort.

So here I am. Barely 20 years old and already arthritic (literally, I am becoming a grandma). Fortunately the pain isn’t too bad and usually some aspirin or ibuprofen helps. Long term treatment would be daily medication and I am seriously considering it so that hopefully I am able to curb the disease and prevent long term damage and degradation to my joints, especially because of my hand.  Thats what worries me the most. But we seem to have caught it early and thats good.

I was bitter for a while. Angry at the universe and unhappy. It means I am going to have to be on medication probably for the rest of my life. It will make travel more difficult, especially long term. I feel like some of my dreams and aspirations are now going to be a bit more difficult (Yes hello I need a two year supply of this so I can go do the Peace corps in some remote Mongolian village, OR I’m living in another country indefinitely can you help me with that?). But I know that I shouldn’t let it stop me from pursuing my dream and living life to the fullest. Its just another reason to make sure I take care of myself, physically and emotionally. And get enough sleep at night. RA has a tendency to make you tired, fatigued, and exhausted. Because your body attacking your body is pretty hard work.

Well enough of that. In other news I am no longer leaving the job I was going to leave I got a raise. God, I am such a sucker. So here is to having three jobs. The dogs are doing good and T. graduates from high school in a week. What? I have orientation Sunday and Monday, and I BOUGHT MYSELF A STAR TREK TRAVEL MUG!!!! Am I a total dweeb? YES. Right now I am reading Anne Frank’s Diary and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Up next is still to be determined. Though I now have enough money to pay off my late library fees, so who knows what is next.I have a new found love of Brazil Nuts. I am getting back into the swing of yoga and slowly easing myself back into meditation. I truly forgot how good it feels, and how uplifting it is on the spirit. And down dog does wonders to my hands once I get over the initial discomfort. wellbeing

Ever forward, ever upwards. Some day I will get enough sleep.

One Month Home

So I have been home about a month now, actually a month to the date. I am happy to be home in my own bed, with my dogs, and with my family. But sometimes I miss Costa Rica. It is definitely a place that I will be going back to one day, without a doubt.

Even though my adventures abroad have ended I have decided to continue to blog and update occasionally. How often is occasionally? I have no idea. So try to bear with me.

It was kind of a surprise to actually understand everyone around me, and also the amount of green. Having lived mostly in the city seeing our backyard surprised me, in a good way. And much to my surprise I kinda do miss having Gallo Pinto, especially with cilantro. Not to mention Juice everyday all day. But needless to say, I haven’t really gone through the reverse culture shock as badly as I went through my initial culture shock. Part of me still can’t believe that I just studied abroad for four months.

After who knows how many job applications I managed to secure two jobs. One, didn’t work out but with a job offer that I received yesterday I am able to leave it and move onto one that is a better match for me. I think it is always important to consider the environment and people you are going to be working with. If you cannot laugh and jive, than you’ll be miserable. And life is to short to be miserable. Of course, sometimes we have to take those unhappy circumstances for reasons. Unfortunately our world is still driven by money which means bills to pay and buying necessities. For me? College. I hope that future generations have the opportunity for affordable higher education without the burden of financial stress and crippling debt.

I am getting super excited about college. I have done almost everything I need to do, and orientation is coming up. I am however stressing about classes because for whatever reason, as a transfer student, I am incapable of picking my own classes and figuring out what I should take. But I guess it shows they care, which is more than I can say about where I am coming from. I will be taking a full load, or as close to it as I can get. My desire to double major and specialize while good and ambitious means a tight and full schedule. But to be honest, I kinda like it that way. Hopefully I will be able to make it into the life guarding class with any luck. Which means a lot of swimming this summer but it will be good for me.

I will be working hard this summer, but I do intend to make time for myself and self development. And of course preparing for a new start at a new college, and everything fun that goes with that. Hopefully I will have time for some adventures with friends and family, and I will somehow acclimate to air conditioning.

Genuine Souls and Banana Ice Cream

I have learned a lot in Costa Rica. Not just Spanish and culture and another way of life, but things that are so much  less tangible. I have learned a lot not only about myself but about people too and life and perceptions and everything really. It is hard to put it all into words, even harder into a brief-ish blog, but here goes.

Everything is coming together as everything seems to be falling apart. Here I have seen my social life atrophy in my last month, and while I saw it coming I am okay with it. This last month, as I spend more time alone I have had a lot more time to think about things. I have barely done any journaling in the past four months, something almost completely unheard of for me. But good things are coming up. I find that I am crawling out of my sea of sadness and depression. I am growing stronger, and the world is becoming beautiful. Not to mention all of the opportunities that I have blooming in front of me. I am so excited for the fall, and the most annoying and hard part about getting a summer job is not that I am in short supply, but that I am not conveniently home to easily return phone calls and go to interviews.

I think what I have come to realize most and appreciate are the people who love and care about me. Being so far from home in uncertain waters you have to reach out when you are lonely, something I have always been terribly afraid to do. I have such wonderful Beautiful souls in my life, who love me, care for me, and seek to uplift me. Even though everyone home is 2000 miles away, I have still managed to have their support, love, and have deep and profound and sometimes downright silly conversations. Laughing and smiling with them, despite the distance, is so important.

In Costa Rica I have many a lot of different people. People I hate, People I find intriguing, and People I genuinely like and adore. I have met people who lead different styles of lives and who have different priorities than me. While I have always prided myself in being open-minded it has been difficult here. At times it has been overwhelming how much I have not liked, whether it is people, food, or things. In the process I have learned that it is okay to not like everything, in fact it is impossible to like somethings. What is important is that you try to understand, keep things in perspective, and be patient. We are all learning, we are all on different planes of existence, and all have different paths leading in different directions.

And, I too have come to realize that I am a beautiful, genuine soul too. That when I choose, I let it radiate out of me in my heart, words, smile, and confidence. The process of self love is a hard one, but I feel like I am making strides here. I will always find people with whom I connect and celebrate my life with. Sometimes, you just have to accept that they may not be in the places that you are looking.

In the end, in my opinion, you can always tell the true character of a person by how they treat a dog or by their favorite book. Dogs because well I love dogs. And if a dog doesn’t like you it is for good reason, they can sense your fear or hate or malevolence. And what reason could you possibly have for treating a dog with anger, cruelty, hate, and fear? Sure it is okay to experience them, but how you act and manifest those feelings is what counts. If you can treat an animal mean, what is to stop you from treating me the same way? As for books, choosing to give into helping create a post-literature society is alarming. I don’t care if your favorite book is “The Cat in the Hat” for the love of the world take the time to exercise your literacy. Choose to be educated and aware. With literacy you have greater control of your circumstances, of your fate.

My Experience in Costa Rica has really been a bowl of Banana Ice Cream. It sounded exotic and interesting at first, and while apprehensive I was eager to try. Then I came, nosed around and discovered that I didn’t like banana ice cream as much as I thought I would and had 3 more months of it. So I tried avoiding it, actively disliking it. But then, I discovered that I do like banana ice cream, with a hint of chocolate. Homemade and fresh. But I am dreaming of chocolate fudge brownie with dinosaur sprinkles.

[In case you failed to grasp or care for my explanation of above metaphor let me elaborate. I was really excited about Costa Rica, and for about the first month I was pretty okay, but then it wasn’t. It was hard, and I was bitter and critical. But in the end I found out how I like to travel(solo or in small numbers), that I liked certain activities and places, and how to cope with all of the drastic changes in my life (Star Trek, Reading, and Ice Cream). Even though I am excited to leave I am still a little sad to go.]

I really like solo travel I have come to decide. You meet new people, it can be incredibly uncomfortable, and yet all the same this solitude has made me that much stronger, that much more resilient to everything. Sure there is always going to be that flutter of panic, that edge of anxiety. But you can let it control you, or just roll with what things happen. You have to go out and take the initiative sometimes. In the end it can be re really rewarding, like learning your favorite type of bird is a toucan.

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The Mother of Tarzan and a Dog Named Lettuce

So it has been way too long since I last wrote. A lot has happened in the past two weeks. So I guess I will just get started.

Semana Santa was wonderful. I had an amazing week. My flights to and from Osa went smoothly, and I didn’t crash, burn, and die. So that is always a plus. The airport in Osa is tiny, I was expecting that. But I could hardly contain a giggle as to how small it actually was.

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Yupp. That is literally it.

I was supposed to me a taxi driver to take me up the mountain to the place I was going, but the Canadian couple that runs the place was in town, so they picked me up. Up the mountain. The road reminded me a lot of the road to Monteverde in terms of its condition, but this time I wasn’t as worried about plunging off the side of the cliff to my death. I was greeted by the three dogs (Foxy, Dolly, and Letchuga), and settled into my cozy little tent. I am a sucker for getting away in nature and love the idea of camping, but I am such a spoiled old lady when it comes to sleeping on hard places. I would have sore hips and arms in Mexico when the mattress was too hard or too thin. The bed was excellent, and I was way to excited to be living in a tent for a week.

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The crib.

The food was amazing. The best food I have consistently had in Costa Rica. I was getting a lot closer to the amount of fruits and vegetables I like to eat, and I got to try something tasty and new everyday. The best tomatoes I have had in quite some time. Also, Costa Rica has deepened my appreciation of bananas. It was hot and humid, low 90s every day and only a slight reprieve in the shade. But I got used to it. There is something nice about the heat. It makes you take the day a bit slower, and its nice to slow down sometimes.

Then on Saturday I departed for Drake’s Bay for my adventure into Corcovado. First I took a taxi down the mountain, then another to Sierrpe. Then I got on a boat with the hotel owner. We drove through a series of mangroves or canals or rivers…I’m not really sure what to call them. But after about 40 minutes we came to the river mouth and the waves were huge for out tiny little boat. I will admit the possibility of dying felt very real, a lot more real than when i was on the tiny airplane. But by some miracle we survived. I saw a Turtle and a Dolphin on the way to the hotel.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the place and found myself spraying bug spray around my bed in a hopes that the ants and cockroaches wouldn’t crawl into bed with me. It was another tent which I was totally fine with, but a tent is only effective if you shut it, something the management seemed to not consider. And the food wasn’t too hot, and the coffee? Literally the closest I have ever come to drinking straight up river mud. It was so thick and strong and dark I just couldn’t do it.

But, Corcovado made it all so totally worth it, a perfect birthday adventure. I rose early, and prepared. I was picked up at 6:00 am by boat and managed not to puke on the choppy hour ride on open ocean. The hike while exhausting and hot was so worth it. I saw lizards, all four types of monkeys in Costa Rica, toucans, Scarlett macaws, wild pigs, tapiers, a snoozing sloth, and others as well. I felt good. I was happy.

I have to Osa really is what made me fall completely in love with Costa Rica. Sure I liked it before, but it was my experience and what I saw and went in Osa that made me smitten. If I make it back to Costa Rica one day, that is where I am going.

I returned to the hotel around 2, this time a bit too seasick for my taste which soon dissipated after a nice shower. I talked to my family and ate a chocolate brownie protein bar for cake, seeing as the nearest store was an hour walk away. I relaxed, read, and turned in early.Of course I would treat myself to some dessert goodies tomorrow at the MusMani mini super.

The boat ride back I thought would kill me again, and my boat taxi was loaded to the brim. Seriously, there was no more room to sit and some guy even brought his bike on board. Shuffled back to the airport I waited to board and read. I slept on the plane ride back and took a taxi back home.

But I also switched host families. My host mom, the Thursday before I Ieft, fell on water leaking from the fridge in the kitchen. She broke her upper arm and injured her shoulder as well. Watching her for two days I knew that it was incredibly difficult for her to take care of herself, let alone be a host mom, so I decided to move to give her a restful and low stress recovery. My new host family is lovely and their dog Nuna reminds me so much of Ginger and Zoey.

I am ready for home, but I am still making the best of my stay here. I am keeping myself busy, exercising, applying to jobs, reading, and writing. I have decided to attend Ithaca in the fall, and I am starting to plan for that as well. I am going to have to work this summer. Hard and a lot. But in the end it will all pay off. The future is looking bright and everything is coming up roses.

Semana Santa and the end of being a teenager

So Holy week (or semana santa) kicks off on Sunday. While for the longest time I wasn´t sure what i was going to do or where I was going to go I have finally figured it out. So here it is.

I am flying to the Osa Peninsula, the southernmost peninsula in Costa Rica and on the Pacific side. The Osa has been described as on of the most geographically diverse places on Earth and is without doubt one of the more difficult places to get to in Costa Rica. Taking a public bus easily takes upwards of 6 hours, often 8 and private shuttles, well since they are often a set flat rate the cost one way would be ridiculous for me. So I am flying. I am a bit terrified because I know it is going to be a small ass plane and dear god small planes scare me shitless. Please excuse the strong language, just trying to illustrate the point. I get one checked bag that cannot exceed 30 pounds, a small carry on, and a no worries carry on item which I have already decided will be my camera. I think.

After the hour flight I will be going to an organic farm up in the higher elevation. I will be volunteering and working there from sunday to saturday. I am super excited as my roomate J. has been teaching be about sustainability and agroecology practices for the past three months and I am excited to learn more. I am also thrilled that I am getting to volunteer and give back a little while I am here too. I am ´glamping´ while I am there, staying in a protected platform tent, and while I will be sharing a bathroom with the other visitors we will have wifi supposedly.

Then I am going to a hotel, I guess. Again, more glamping but right on the ocean and secluded. Part of my stay at the hotel includes a day excursion and hike in Corvocado. I. AM. SO. EXCITED. Corvocado is the one place that i really, really, have wanted to go to in Costa Rica. And I am hiking there on my birthday, so I guess that is pretty freaking cool. I have never spent a birthday really alone, as in I don´t know anyone around me. I have always been a secret birthday person, but as I have aged I have discovered I am a rarity. As I told a dear friend in an email last night, ¨It’s always a milestone to me, especially because of the depression. I always tell myself ‘congrats Amanda, you have made it another year and you are still here alive and breathing. try not to forget life is beautiful.’¨ But seriously though, I am no longer going to be a teenager. I am sinking deeper into adulthood, and all of the delightful things that brings.

Oh and I don´t have to worry about food for the week. Both places provide me with three meals daily. Hoorah.

The college process is coming along. I have been accepted into all of my colleges so far including my top choice(I still dont have answers from two) and it is looking good. I am going to have to work my little but off this summer, and during the school year as well, but if I can pull it all off good, it will work out. How can it not? But already I have to think about GREs and what my next step is going to be after undergraduate. Its overwhelming because oh I don´t know I am transferring and it is confusing and stressful?

I have about one more month in Costa Rica. I am retaking Intermediate 1 next month, and I am relieved I am. It would have been too much to go on and I need to practice and solidify what I already know. One month to see everything, scrabble for souvenirs before squeezing everything into suitcases and heading home. Part of me is so ready to come home but at the same time part of me does´t want to leave. But that is life in the end and what can you do but live in the moment and embrace all there is to have?