Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goodbye, UPB

My very last UPB banquet is in an hour and 18 minutes.
Where has the time gone?

In anticipation, my memory takes me back to the 2009 banquet, the first one I went to. I was struggling in my heels just trying to walk from Mitchell Hall to Atwood Memorial Center, and Zach met me halfway. I still have the dress I wore that day. I didn't take any pictures, I hardly knew anyone. I remember being excited to spend time with Zach. I think I was still trying to win him over at that point.

This photo is from the 2010 banquet. I think we look so young! I remember having such a fun time and finally feeling like I fit in somewhere at SCSU. UPB turned out to be such a good thing for me. I've grown and learned so much from it.

Here's my friend Tara (and roommate right now) and I from last year's banquet. Another great banquet! I was reassured that I was in the right place, and I was incredibly excited to be the National Events coordinator for the following year. Finally, a position that aligned with my passions!

I cannot predict how this year's banquet is going to go. It's been an incredibly different year with department reorganization, budget cuts, and personality clashes. Though I had a somewhat hellish year juggling and understanding everything, I think this will still be incredibly emotional for me. Most of my friends are involved with UPB, most of my time has been spent in the UPB office, and all of the mentors I look up to have something to do with UPB.

My time with UPB has officially come to an end (besides the work I have yet to do for it this week). I have to learn to move on from it, and take my hard earned lessons with me.

Thanks to everyone who supported me; I cannot mean that more sincerely. Hugs and thanks just aren't enough for how grateful I am.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Death and Dying


This semester I took an elective course for my major called Psychology of Death and Dying. It sounds morbid, I know, but I didn't know much about death and wanted to see what this class had to offer about the subject.

A few minutes ago I completed my last activity paper for the class. Our activity papers reflect experiences such as those from our field trips (we went to St. Cloud Hospital, Quiet Oaks Hospice, and Benson Funeral Home so far) or something in our personal lives. I chose to write something more personal for my last activity paper, and I wanted to share it:

Experiences Surrounding Death in my own Family
My immediate family has little experience with death and this fact was a factor in my decision to take this course.  In our coursework for PSY 345 Psychology of Death and Dying, I have learned that death is a taboo subject and of reasons behind the idea.  I realize now that this fact was obvious to me growing up in the way my parents and relatives quietly avoided the subject.  Because of this, I understood very little about it, and was in fact not afraid of it. There are a few key instances that I recall where I learned what I know about death before this course.
One of my first memories with death was when our first family dog passed away. I was around 11 years old and my mom picked me up from school that day, which was a clue to me that something was amiss. I can still recall the exact part of Sunnyslope Road that we were driving on that day when she said, “We had to put Rod down” and started choking up.  Surprisingly, the news hit me immediately and I remember the constant streams of tears and questions for my mom “why? What happened? Was he too sick? Why couldn’t I say goodbye?”  When we got home, nobody wanted to talk about it. In fact, I cannot remember hardly any conversation about the fact that our dog was gone. A few weeks later, I realized that my dad had a canister on his desk, and he told me months later that it was Rod’s ashes.  It was rare that Rod came up in conversation, but when he did, my dad always contributed “he was a very good dog.”
Another experience with death was my best friend’s grandmother. It was around 7:00am and Erica and I were in the middle school math classroom together, waiting for classes to begin. She was wearing her glasses and not her contacts, and appeared disheveled.  As soon as I got close enough for conversation, she broke down crying and told me that her grandmother passed away.  My mouth gaped open for a while as I hugged her, but I could not console her.  I did not understand the pain associated with losing someone that close to you.  Erica was heavily involved in the funeral and gatherings planning; it was as though I watched her age faster for this time in her life. I watched her slowly heal throughout the next few months and I saw her begin to accept it and even start to talk about her grandmother in positive ways. It was through observing her experience that I came to understand the pain of death, the customs surrounding it, and how to cope.
The last key experience I have with death is the passing of my own grandfather. Prior to his death in September 2008, I remember over the summer overhearing my aunts discussing his worsening health condition. When I inquired as to what they meant and what medical terms they were talking about, they said they did not want to worry me. The only ones I remember was that his stomach was bloated, his body was retaining water there for some reason, and walking looked more painful than usual. I did not worry much beyond that day, though I did make sure to tell him I loved him and hugged him before I left. My grandfather survived triple bypass surgery, falling off a roof, cancer, stints in the valves of his heart, even more surgeries I cannot recall, and more. He even was playing Frisbee that last day I saw him; it was hard for me to believe a man with his strength would someday give out.  But, all good things must come to an end, and death is a fact of life. It was only a week or two after I arrived at SCSU, I hardly knew my way around and I did not have any friends yet. I was strolling through Atwood after class when I noticed I had several missed calls from my mom. I called her back, and she dropped the news. I cannot recall her exact words. After I understood the context of her news through her tears, everything is a blur.  I could not stand up, I felt as though I would crumble, so I had to sit on a bench outside of Atwood, a bench that I presently pass every day and every day I think about my grandfather when I see it.  The next day I found myself in a van with my cousins who live near Brainerd and we are hauling ourselves down to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for his funeral. With no prior experience of funerals, I did not understand how to act. I hardly remember the time we spent in the church; I just remember reading a passage in the bible at the podium: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, A Time for Everything. At the wake, we all walked through a progression line of my grandfather’s children and my grandmother, hugging and sharing our condolences.  I only took a long glance at my grandfather in the coffin, for it was hard to see him like that. Some of my aunts put together beautiful photo boards with pictures of my grandfather throughout his life. I really appreciated that part of the wake because the pictures brought up good memories and funny stories. At the mausoleum later on, I sat with my extended family in the front of the facility. There were soldiers there to recognize my grandfather’s participation in the war. He even received a 21-gun salute and “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, a song that makes me cry when I hear it even to this day. The healing process took a long time. My immediate family members would talk about it in short stints every once and a while. I believe that it helped a lot of us cope and heal by bringing up his name every once and a while to say we missed him or bring up a memory of him. These days my relatives will post on Facebook every once and a while that they miss him; one of my aunts just got a tattoo that has the word “Dad” in it, in memory of him.
Obviously, my grandfather’s death taught me the most about experiences surrounding death and dying and unfortunately that did not happen until I was 18 years old. I remember thinking “what did I know about death before this? What did I think this would be like?” I must have just been na├»ve; I certainly was when I lived with my overbearing parents.  Although it was tough to learn about death through experience and not instruction, it was the best way to comprehend completely the emotions associated with it. My experiences, in conjunction with this class, have made me more comfortable discussing the topic and I feel better prepared for the future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Technology

I recently found out my Spanish major advisor doesn't have a cellphone and doesn't have Facebook. After she saw my astonished face when she shared this news, she explained how weird it is how reachable and public people's lives have become.

I realize this is the case, and it is a little scary. I've been transitioning from having mostly private profiles to  public profiles (like my new Twitter) mostly because I want to put my name out there professionally and have employers be able to find me and see what I'm about. I don't have anything to hide, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I don't want to hide that from someone who might hire me! Plus, I like to consider myself a social butterfly, and what better way to make friends than to put myself out there?

Though I'm sure I could live without a cellphone and without Facebook, the convenience is too great to give up, these days. Some people say Facebook is creepy and impersonal, but I disagree. Facebook is an easy way I have been able to keep up with those I care about. When I have free time at 2am, I cannot call my aunts and friends from back home, but I can send them a message or write on their wall. When it comes to phones, I like being available and reachable. I like that I can use my phone to look up a clinic number, call them to make an appointment, and arrive hours later, all in the same day. Some can argue that text messaging is impersonal as well, and I can agree that it's a cop out to actually making a phone call, but it's also incredibly convenient. I'm constantly answering quick questions, that would be a waste of a phone call, via text.  Not to mention, most plans have unlimited text messaging, but not unlimited hours to talk. As a financially struggling college student, yes I'm going to go the cheaper route. One thing I'd like to work on is texting less while in conversation. I want to be able to put my phone away whenever I'm spending time with someone in person, so that they feel more respected, and I'm more engaged in our reunion.

Why have we invented these technologies if we're not going to utilize them? As I mentioned, I completely understand the ideas behind those who are anti-cellphone and anti-Facebook, but I personally will happily utilize what is free and in front of me. I'm excited to be a part of this generation and being able to watch technology develop exponentially. What will they come up with next?

Question: What is your favorite or most utilized piece of technology? Anything goes: iPod, phone, computer, tablet, videogame, TV, et cetera.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keep on keeping on

That's just about all I can tell myself to do these days.

I've said it before and I'll say it to myself a hundred times more: I'm never letting myself be involved in this much ever again. It's too much and my health has suffered greatly from it.

Though it's been painful, I have learned a lot this year. I wish I could say it was from my classes and from my experiences, but I've mostly learned a lot about myself, my breaking points, and the type of person I become in different environments. Maybe I've changed a lot, or maybe I've become more adaptable. I suppose I won't really be able to tell until this is all said and done and I can look back and analyze.

I called Seattle University early this week and finally got a more solid answer about when I might be informed of a change in my status for the graduate program I applied to. I had forgotten all about the special April 15 date that most graduate schools comply with where everyone invited to programs must accept or deny their invitation by that date. The director of this program emailed me himself and said the beginning of next week, I should know. After all this waiting, I guess I can spare a few more days.

The job search is not going well; more like it came to a halting stop right after spring break ended and my work multiplied nearly tenfold. I have saved a few jobs I want to apply to over these past few weeks, but I can't honestly say that I'll get to them before the application window closes. This really scares me since I really have to get moving on this. If Zach and I are really planning on moving to Seattle before or right after our lease is up on May 31 then it is time to crack down on plans.

I wish I had more exciting updates, but let's face it: I'm a college senior in the last 3 weeks of classes. There isn't much else I can concentrate on besides surviving work, class, and my internship.

Speaking of my internship, that has been going quite well. I think I'm close to 80 out of 100 hours done by now and the LGBT prom I've been planning is happening April 28. We have a fundraiser on the 24th at Five Guys Burgers and Fries because we're still short on the budget, but I have faith the event will be successful. After all, we decided even if only a few couples come, we're doing a good thing here!

Enough procrastination. Time to go read my favourite textbook (Personality Psychology).