Monday, April 23, 2012

New Beginnings

Oh, hello there dwindling reader audience.  You're still here?  God bless you.

It's been a crazy four months since I last wrote my 2011 Year in Review.

Let's see...

  • I survived a 4 week Statistics class in January.
  • I lost a dear cousin to an undiagnosed chronic illness in February.  
  • And last month, I.FINALLY.MOVED.
  • And today?  I got drunk and a little sick on caffeine*.

But let's back up to February for a bit, because I wanted to write about it at the time.

A Loss
September 2007.  Cousin PJ is seated to my right.
I have a large family, the kind you don't often see now adays.  My mother has 5 brothers and 5 sisters, who went forth and proliferated about two dozen children between them.  The first set of cousins that I knew belonged to my mom's third eldest sister, Ana.  Or my "Auntie Ana", as I call her.  She also happens to be my Godmother.  I was born in Tacoma, and she and her family lived nearby in Seattle.  As such, I spent many holidays and garden variety visits with that little section of my extended relatives for the first 8 years of my life, and for that reason we have a special bond.

When my family moved away from Washington in 1991, I didn't see a whole lot of the Seattle clan after that.  There were a few visits here and there, and, thankfully, I have been able to see them a few times over the last 4 or 5 years since I moved to the West Coast.  One of my fondest visits was for Carmel's wedding in October 2010.

This February, on Valentine's Day, actually, I received a heart stopping text message from my younger brother around midday. "Hey ria apparently there has been a death in our extended family, our cousin PJ just died, auntie carmen just passed it onto Mom."

How do you even process news like that?  He would have been 36 this year.  Over the course of the next several days, we found out that he had been suffering from acute liver failure brought on by a childhood illness.  I flew up to Seattle to attend the memorial and support my family.  If there was any joy to be had in this, it was that so many of us were able to travel from all over the country to be there for my Aunt and cousins, and even in the dark hours there was laughter.  I didn't know PJ terribly well as an adult, but one thing that I know we shared was the extreme love of our big, nutty family.  I felt especially glad to know that he, too, made the move to Southern California with the intent to spend more time getting to know them.  (I had a similar goal when I moved here in 2006.)  He eventually relocated back to Washington, and I was glad to learn that Western Washington University granted him an honorary degree posthumously.  He was an extremely talented writer and would have finished his degree in journalism this summer.

So, dear Cousin PJ, here's to you and your life.  You are much loved and missed.  We will all see you again someday.

A Gain

Just over a month ago today, I made the move that I have been talking about since before I started school.  There have been several challenges leading up to it--mostly financially driven--but by fortunate timing and the help of a nice educational tax credit, I was able to find a sweet 1 bedroom apartment in the hip and happening Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.  It's technically nestled between Hillcrest and Northpark, and it's, well fabulous.  Those who know me well know that fabulous is usually my code word for gay.  And rest assured that I do not mean that in a pejorative or derogatory way.  It's San Diego's gay neigborhood, and I just love it.  LOVE it.  "If [Hillcrest] wasn't so gay," I said to a friend this weekend, "I'd marry it." 
Most San Diego neighborhoods have one of these nifty signs

There are great restaurants and shops nearby, it's a stone's throw from Balboa Park, and best of all, it's a 10 minute drive from campus.  It's also a 30 mile drive from work now, but so far that isn't ruffling my feathers.  As long as I'm in school, I have to make a long drive no matter where I live because the office and campus are a good 25ish miles apart.  So I might as well live somewhere great, right?  I happen to be very fortunate in working for an employer that allows me to work from home, which I do about twice a week.

Miss Amelia surveying the view from our new pad

Current Affairs & Beyond

School is going well.  I took a course during the "Intersession" period between Fall and Spring semesters this January.  I packed my schedule with 4 classes this Spring, and 2 of them have already come and gone.  One lasted from the end of January until mid-April, and the other was a 2 weekend crash course in March.  Now I'm coming down the home stretch with the other two.  I can already see the diaspora of my cohort as people start to accelerate or slow down to comply with their near term goals, but we still remain a pretty tight group.  I would give shout outs, but interestingly enough, I'm not Facebook friends with anyone...yet.  And Facebook is my main source of blog readership.  I don't really know why, but some part of me is still not ready to let my school and social network worlds collide outside of LinkedIn.

And in other news, I'm just a hair over 3 weeks away from Eurotrip 2012.  This time I'm going to spend the majority of my time in Germany.  My gracious host Ralph is starting a new job just outside of Munich this month, which is especially exciting for me because I've not been to Bavaria in all my journeys to Deutschland.  We will also likely enjoy a visit from my lately married friends Liz and Stefan who plan to drive down from the Netherlands, and since Ralph has to do some orientation training in France towards the end of my two week stay, guess who's going on a road trip along the Côte d'Azur?  Needless to say, I'm really, really excited.

In the meantime, I'd better get some dinner in me while I come down off of this sickening caffeine buzz that I hope never to repeat.  Seriously, who knew that the equivalent of 20-25 oz. Starbucks coffee over the course of the day would make me feel like I just knocked back half a handle of gin?  I leave you with this disturbing Public Service Announcement.