Dec 29, 2013

Ireland is a great country to die or be married in.

(I'm not dying or getting married, for the record. That's a quote by Elizabeth Bowen.)

Oh my gkdayoiehdlksi!
Ahem. Sorry. I'm just so excited!

This story starts a few days ago when I had my friend Ally over. I was telling her about how I really wish I had been accepted back into the program to go to China again as a head teacher. My biggest worry about going back was Jack, my dog. Or, he was my dog. I was worried if I went, he wouldn't remember me while I was gone or something pathetic like that. Turns out, it didn't matter that we lived in the same house. He still forgot who I was, and so now he is my mom's dog and currently living with them.

So since my biggest concern ended up being a moot point, I really wish I had been able to go back to China. It's been about two years since I came home. Which is really strange to me, now that I say that out loud. That's two full years I haven't left the country or traveled at all really, aside from going out to visit mom and dad (and as lovely as that is, it's not really traveling). I just miss it. If I ever had the opportunity to move to China again, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Really, it doesn't even have to be China. I'd move anywhere out of country if I were given the opportunity.

Alas, here I sit, going to school and working and climbing and doing good things with my life, but none of it is really something I'd consider all that adventurous.

Fast forward a couple hours, Ally was asking me about what my New Year's Resolutions are. I never used to make resolutions, until last year. It's not that I don't have any areas to improve in (ha. I've got a ways to go) but it's just that I never really made good goals, so I never cared to actually fulfill them, even from the beginning, which kind of makes it like I never set the goal in the first place, right?

Anyway, at the beginning of this year, I had one resolution, and that was to climb a 5.9 by the end of the year. Have I achieved this? No. But I've gotten way closer than I was when I started. And I still consider how far I've come a success. So this is just a goal to adjust and reset. This has given me 4 resolutions for 2014.
1- Lead climb by the end of the year. At my rec center, you have to be able to climb a 5.9 in order to take the lead climbing classes, so this definitely encompasses my past goal. But on top of climbing the 5.9, I also have to take the lead class, and then pass the assessment and actually climb. So it's more, but still along the same lines. And definitely attainable.
2- Do a CSI ride a long once a month. This will involve actually setting up the appointments to do ride alongs, and since cities have restrictions on how often you can do a ride along, I'll have to find probably 6 cities all around here that will let me ride along with their crime lab. Also probably very doable.
3- Fill my journal. Earlier this year I started a journal in a composition notebook, and it was the first journal I ever started that I don't anticipate my kids reading or someone finding and reading or really even going back through and reading myself. This is because it's not written in English. If Chaelomen or Berserk got a hold of it, they could read it, but I don't see that happening. And it wouldn't be the end of the world if they did. There's nothing terribly secret in there. It's just nice to not feel like I need it to have a clear and concise purpose, I can ramble and jump topics all I want. Anyway, I want to actually fill it this year, as well as a second notebook's worth. Since this one is almost a third used.

And this last goal I have is the reason I'm so excited right now :)

4- Get a stamp from the 6 populated continents in my passport. (Thanks to Sarah for the idea) Don't get me wrong-- I definitely want to go to Antarctica, but the only way I know to get there is going to take quite a bit of saving. And I doubt I can get a stamp going there. There's still going to be quite a bit of saving for visas to get to Australia and flights and blah blah blah. It actually might be more than I can conceivably save, so I might not make this one. But I already have North America and Asia both stamped in my current passport. So I just need 4 more. One trip every 3 months. I like that. It appeals to me. It makes me feel better about not having left the country since China.

If I can't make enough money for all 4 trips that I want to (I'm thinking of going to Cairns, Madagascar, Chile and Ireland again) then I'll extend this resolution to 2015. It's tricky, because I need to get a visa for Cairns and for Madagascar (and if I were going anywhere besides Ireland or London, I'd need a visa for Europe, too. which is kinda sad, since those are the two countries I've already been to, but also not sad, which I'll get to), but the visa to Madagascar is free if you're staying for less than 30 days. And though you don't need a a technical visa for Chile, you do need to pay for a Chilean visa reciprocity fee. So that, plus the ETA (an electronic visa) for Cairns will be about 300 total. Which isn't terrible, I think I can handle that. So then it's just trying to find flights, which if United doesn't go there, I really just need to save up money to buy a ticket, and that's what might push this goal into 2015.

To start accomplishing this goal, I'm going to go back to Ireland for my spring break this semester! Whaaat. Yes. This is true. What can I say, I'm a badass, pending standby availability to fly out.

It'll be nice. I'm staying at a hostel (Jacob's Hostel, specifically) which is a 20 min bus ride from the airport. I'll be right in the heart of Dublin, and the entire week I'm staying in Dublin, I'll only have spent about $150 on the hostel. Including breakfast. I love, btw. I'm excited. I've already been to Ireland before, I'll be returning almost to the date 7 years later (which is also really weird to think about), and though I kinda wish I could go somewhere I haven't been yet, I wasn't really in Dublin for all that long. And that was 7 years ago. It's not on my current passport. But I did get to travel all around Ireland and do the really cool things-- kiss the Blarney Stone, tour castles, eat in a castle while watching a play, do the St. Patrick's Day Parade, see a bunch of the country-- so I won't feel bad that I won't be doing all that stuff this time around.

Also last time, I went the the marching band, but my best friend at the time couldn't come, so I was kinda just hanging out with people I was sorta friends with, but not really.

This time it's currently just me going. It's like I'm an adult or something. I'll just be hanging out around Dublin and the hostel, maybe seeing if they've got a cheap tour I can take. Make friends with a local, maybe. I've gotta hit up a pub! I'm way excited. Gonna use my passport again! What. I mean, come on Berserk and Mom. What is holding you guys up? ;)

Dec 10, 2013

And for this, I will travel in darkness for what seems like days.

Goodness. I feel like I haven't blogged in forever. And not even for a good reason. I've just been busy with school and so obviously, instead of actually doing my school work, I've instead been wasting my life away on facebook and iwastesomuchtime and all those good old sites. And this post isn't even all that exciting, it's just one really really long confession. Probably not the first of its kind, either.

I think the biggest mistake I've made this semester (and actually it's probably the biggest mistake I've made in years, if not longer) was thinking, "Wait, since I'm still a chem major, none of these classes are actually important for graduation." I did just stop at thinking that. I believed it with my entire heart. If I'm only taking linguistics classes this semester, it doesn't really matter how I do in them. And I find the subject interesting, but I don't care about how my grades look, I just want to learn the material. And I understand the material fine, so what do I care if I don't do the homework. I'm getting 100% or more on all my tests, so skipping the busywork is really really ok with me. Yeah... Maybe if the homework was only work 5% of my overall grade, that would have been an acceptable thought process but alas, homework is worth quite a lot of my grade in all of my classes.

So that leads me to the end of this semester, thinking about what kind of a GPA I'm looking at this semester, thinking about how much effort I've put into my classes, and for the first time in my life, I'm actually really disappointed in myself. My grades have slipped terribly this semester. In fact, they've been slipping since college started, but it's been drastic this semester. And why? Because I didn't feel like doing homework because it would take up some of my time. Time that I wasn't spending on doing important things. I have actually chosen to not do homework so I could instead listen to music and play sudoku on my phone. And I'm really sickened to think of the consequences this has and will bring to me.

Recently, I've been thinking back to high school. There were plenty of things that I did in high school that I didn't actually enjoy, but I did them anyway. I did my homework well before it was due until senior year, when I started to slip just a little because I had a ton of cop out classes. I stuck with marching band for all 4 years, even though I wasn't enjoying it anymore after the first year. I spent 3 years working on my EMR even though I hated being an emergency responder. I woke up for early morning seminary almost everyday for 4 years but I liked seminary. Just not the sleep deprivation that went with it, despite being really incredibly ridiculously sleep deprived all the time.

I am amazed at all of the self discipline I had. I don't know that it was healthy to spend so much time doing so many things that I really didn't enjoy (I mean, at least 85% of my memories from those 4 years are during seminary, school, band, or doing EMR things), but I do think it was good character. And this last semester? It's embarrassing and shameful to the point that I actually don't want to discuss what kinds of things I did wrong, just because in the moment, I didn't really feel like it.

This is actually something that has taken a really serious toll on my self esteem, and I can name exactly why, thanks to an awesome church leader who gave me The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens when I turned 12. I currently still have that book packed from the move, so I can't remember the habit that addresses this specifically, but it compared your self worth to a bank account, and the "money" that you put in or take out is promises. If you keep a promise to yourself, that's a deposit and you increase your self worth. If you break a promise to yourself that's a withdrawal and it decreases your self worth. The bigger the promise, the more it effects you, but little promises add up quickly one way or the other.

I think a semester at school creates a lot of different promises that can affect this if you choose to let it (and I would hypothesize that most of us default to accept these promises). Each homework assignment would be a promise. Each test would as well. Study sessions, getting good grades, attending lecture, taking notes. All of this is important. Maybe not everyone thinks like this, actually, but I know I do. Some of these things are little promises-- lecture, notes, homework-- and some are bigger-- tests, projects, grades.

And this semester, breaking so many many promises has really killed my self worth, to say the least. But I think it's been good, in a really backwards way. My first semester at school I got straight A's. The next semester I had A A A B B C. That summer I had A B B. I took the fall off. I don't remember what my grades have been since, but I trust you can see a pattern. I've actually checked it in my transcripts and my grades have been dropping slowly but steadily since I started. The thing was that I never cared. They were always good enough for me.

I would call this semester, especially in terms of GPA, rock bottom. I don't have my final grades yet (I haven't even finished finals) but I do know that I'm not looking at something pleasant. And for once, whatever I get won't be good enough because I know I can do better. I'm better than D's and C's. I'm better than B's. As humbly as it can be said, I'm pretty smart. My biggest problem with chemistry is actually having to study a little and do some of the homework problems before I really understand it and can do really well on tests. It actually wasn't until I was talking to Chaelomen and he pointed out to me that most students have to study like crazy to understand these concepts and pull good grades that I realized I was so gifted here. I could have been a straight A student for all of my college career.

For probably the first time since I was a junior in high school, I actually feel like I'm gaining some self discipline back. I'm looking at my GPA and I know I can raise it to be a 3.5 or so, and I'm thankful that I haven't completely screwed myself over, but I wish I had known when I started college that I was better than this.

I guess with this change of heart, it's now about finding the silver linings. I've already royally messed up this semester, and with not hitting this point until finals week, there really isn't anything I can do to fix that. But I'm pretty sure that I at least haven't completely screwed up my financial aid, so I can still do classes next semester. Though this was the thinking that got me in so deep, at least I'm not failing anything I need for my degree (and there's even a vague vague possibility I won't fail anything). The classes I've done worst in during my college life are ones that I can take again to replace the grade. I'm not only excited for my classes and to learn, but I'm excited to do well in them and spend my time studying for them and doing the homework and really improving my GPA.

Right now, I'm really just grateful that I haven't messed up my future completely. But I've come dangerously close. I think part of the problem is that I keep forgetting why I'm going to college. Lately I've just sorta been viewing it as this thing I unjustly have to do because "a bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma" and I've really lost the desire to do well so I can have a career. To help combat that, I think I'm going to make it a point to go on more ridealongs. I've been on the one, and it was one of the best nights of my life, so I want to make it a point to go those as often as I can, even looking into other cities. That should help me get through the times where school seems like a long and daunting process.

I've also found the coolest of websites (more cool to me than or that lists all of the crime scene investigation jobs currently open in the US. Just finding that and seeing the applications makes my dreams seem a little more real. And then I might also couple that with checking the salary it pays and looking at apartments in the local area I'd be able to afford on Over preparation? Probably, considering I don't have my BA yet. But it's also some very real motivation.

Mm. Yes. To my core, I'm trying to become a better person. Someone with more integrity and intrinsic motivation. And I might be ready for this ride.