Wednesday, June 30, 2010

With Intensity Comes Change

It's been nearly a month since I've written and the last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride. Here's an update...

The first week in June, tragedy struck my family. My dad's older brother committed suicide. It was completely unexpected (at least for us) and fairly unexplained. He had been somewhat estranged from most of the family for a while, so none of us knew much about what was going on with him. We still don't know the whole story but, apparently, he had been very depressed for a while. When my mom called to tell me the news, I just couldn't believe it. I was never close to my uncle David but I still never imagined that he would do something like that. I was instantly very concerned about my dad and my grandma, because I knew they would be taking it especially hard. For the rest of that night, I was in complete shock. I talked to my parents several times that night, making sure my mom was going to stay by my dad's side. Needless to say, it was a very rough few days. My parents insisted that I not come home, even for the service, because I was planning to visit the following weekend. It was hard not being physically with my family but I checked on them everyday via phone. It's funny, and a little unfortunate, that it takes something like that to make you realize how much you value your family, and really everyone in your life. Though this incident was definitely a blow to my family, I think it made us stronger and brought us closer together. I was really glad to be going home soon, which leads me to the next part of my update...

The second weekend in June, I went home for the first time since January and I was really excited about seeing my family. My parents had been planning a graduation cookout for me, since several of my family members weren't able to attend graduation, but I was hesitant about having it given everything that had taken place. Even so, my parents were adamant that it go on. They said it would be good for the family. And as it turned out, it really was. Family and friends came together to celebrate my graduation and it meant so much to me to have them all there. Usually, I struggle with who to visit while I'm home, because it's for such a short period of time, so I was happy to have everyone in one place. Despite the previous couple of weeks, we all had a good, light-hearted, fun time. Every once in a while, I would catch my grandma looking off into the distance and I believe she was thinking about David during those times, which is certainly normal, but even she seemed to enjoy herself. My mom put together this amazing table with pictures, mostly from graduation day, my cap and hood, and a few other things. AND my parents ordered a dozen cupcakes for me, which were incredibly tasty. :) It was a great weekend.The table my mom put together for me.

A delicious assortment of cupcakes!

The following weekend, I stayed in Greenville for the first time since before graduation. I had a lot of odds and ends to take care terminating files at the clinic and my internship. I also went through EVERYTHING in my room and got rid of what I haven't used lately and knew I likely wouldn't use in the future. I'm not good at throwing things out, because I tend to be sentimental and hang onto things for that reason, but I ended up with 4 garbage bags completely filled with stuff. It was actually refreshing to "clean out my life", especially with all these changes that are quickly approaching. I donated it all to My Sister's Closet, which is a consignment shop here in Greenville. Their proceeds benefit the Center for Family Violence Prevention, where I've been interning for the last year. It was tough to say goodbye to my things, but nice to do a good deed.

Last weekend was spent in Wilmington. Brandon and I had seen each other once in the past 3 weeks so it was great to spend an entire weekend with him. On Friday, we went to look at the apartment model again. I couldn't remember exactly what it looked like and wanted to refresh my memory so I can start thinking about where we might place furniture and such. It really is a beautiful place. Of course, the model is furnished so that makes it look better, but the place itself is lovely. The model has a fireplace, as opposed to the sunroom we're going to have - which will make the living room so much bigger. We met a new staff member too and she was very nice...we took that to be another good sign. After checking out the apartment, we went to dinner at On the Border and saw The A-Team. It was a great movie...I definitely recommend it. On Saturday, we drove to South Carolina, which was only about an hour away, to get fireworks (since they're illegal in NC - we're rebels) in honor of July 4th. On the way, I texted my mom and told her Brandon and I were going to SC. For some reason, she jumped to the conclusion that we were getting hitched...maybe before her sister ran off to SC to get married? We definitely got a kick out of that. Speaking of my mom, she was saying in Topsail Beach that weekend with my aunt and a friend of hers. Brandon and I went to visit them Saturday night and they cooked us a really great dinner. We sat around for a while, enjoying the conversation with each other and the quiet of the beach. It was much cooler with the ocean breeze. I was happy that Brandon and my mom were able to get to know each other a little better. On Sunday, we were complete bums. We slept in, got lunch, ran a few errands, got caught in a torrential downpour, and took a 3 hour nap. Both of us had some sleep debt from the previous weeks, so I think we were trying to catch up. That night, we watched Pandorum, which was a movie he'd been wanting to see for a while. It wasn't as bad as I imagined but it was definitely a typical "guy movie". I always hate coming back to Greenville after a weekend like this one.

And along those lines...I only have about a week and a half left in Greenville. That is so surreal. What is even harder to believe is that I'm only 9.25 hours away from being completely finished with my Masters degree. I had 99 to go on graduation day. I've come a long way, baby. Today, we said goodbye to the office manager at my internship, Lori. I've grown to love Lori. She's been one of the few people there who really looked out for me and never seemed to mind listening to me vent my frustrations. And she's always had such nice things to say to and about me. I'm really going to miss seeing her. Of course, her leaving made me realize that I'm leaving next week. Next week. I haven't always enjoyed my internship but leaving, like graduating, is bittersweet. And I still can't believe this whole terrible, wonderful, challenging, growth-inspiring, eye-opening (and there are many more adjectives that would certainly apply) Greenville/grad school experience is so quickly coming to an end.

Monday, June 7, 2010

That Much Closer to Becoming a Non-Student Adult

Things are starting to fall into place! I'll explain...

I went down to Wilmington this weekend with the hopes of finding an apartment with Brandon. When I thought about how little time we had to select a new home, I started getting really stressed out. This weekend was pretty much it because I'm not able to go down there for the next two weekends, then it's already the end of June. Unbelievable. So the pressure was really on. We set out on Saturday afternoon to look at places. Very unlike me, I didn't have a plan. We really had no idea where we wanted to look so we were just sort of driving around. The first place we went to was really nice and in a great location...but WAY out of our price range. A two bedroom/two bathroom apartment was $1195 a month with nothing included (except maybe trash - big deal). We didn't even torture ourselves by looking at one...we knew we couldn't afford that. The next place was on the other end of the spectrum. The price was much better but the location wasn't as great and the apartment itself wasn't impressive. It looked more like something college students would move into and we're definitely trying to get away from that. We later realized that the place didn't even have room for a dining room table, which would have been a problem for us. No wonder it looked small. Fortunately, while at this place, we picked up one of those Apartment Finder books. That turned out to be the best thing we could have done and the 3rd time was the charm. The last place we looked at felt right as soon as we got there. The woman who helped us was SO friendly and helpful (unlike the woman at the 2nd place who acted really suspiciously when we asked if the neighborhood was quiet). She showed us the model apartment and I pretty much fell in love with it. It was such a step up from the other place. This looked like an apartment that would belong to young professionals, not college students. Also, the neighborhood seemed like it would be a nice place to live and we saw some families with kids, which we took to be a good sign. The best part was that it was within our price range. We both left feeling really excited. After we got back to Brandon's place, we sat down and talked about everything, then made out a mock budget to make sure we could afford it. On Sunday, we took our applications back to the complex, paid our application fee and security deposit, and suddenly...we had reserved our very own apartment to be occupied on July 29th! The one we have is on the 3rd floor with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a nice little sunroom. We are very excited!The floorplan of our new apartment!

Today, I got a better idea of when I'll be starting my new job with Youth Villages. It looks like it'll be July 12th. That means, of course, that I'll technically be living in Wilmington before we're able to move into our apartment. How that will likely work is that I'll stay where Brandon is currently living for a week. Then, we have a training/orientation in Greensboro for a week. I'll be back at Brandon's for a few days before we can move in. It's going to take some patience and flexibility but I think it'll be worth it.

Aside from apartment shopping, the rest of the weekend was good. Kristy texted me on Saturday evening, asking if I was in Wilmington. Apparently, she was just down the road in Carolina Beach and wanted to hang out. Brooke was planning to meet up with us as well. So, long story short, Kristy, Brooke, Brandon, his roommate Jeremy, and I ended up hanging out until about 2am Sunday morning. It was a really great time. We first went to a place called The Grand Union Pub where we had dinner, drinks, and sat around chatting. The table was pretty segregated for most of the evening...ladies on one side, guys on the other...but no one seemed to mind. It was really glad to see Kristy and Brooke and be able to catch up with them. I didn't realize how much I'd been missing my cohort. I was especially impressed that Brooke came out - and I told her so - because she never hung out with us much while we were in school. I'm hoping this is the start of a new trend. Brooke will be moving to Wilmington in July as well (it's actually where she's from) and I would love to hang out with her more in the future. I'm glad Brandon was able to meet her as well. He wants to make sure I have some friends in Wilmington since he already has a few through work and such. Our next destination was called Fibbers which is essentially a pool hall but no one played pool...we just talked and joked around a bit more. Brooke took us all back to Brandon and Jeremy's place and I was really pleased to hear that she was listening to the cohort CD I made. :)

And that's the update for now!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Turning the Page

Despite no longer having classes, my days aren't nearly as free as I thought they would be. I still find myself scheduling out every day, having to squeeze things in here and there, including the things I want to do (those things I thought I'd have SO much time to do once school was over). There's so much I want to do...scrapbook, read (for fun!), go to the gym or do Wii fit, go to the pool, blog, catch up on TV and movies I've missed over the last several months, etc...but there still aren't enough hours in the day. Sometimes I start thinking, "Well, if you'd only finished your hours on time, you'd have the chance to do all those things right now." but that only brings me down and I'm trying to focus on the positive. I told someone tonight that I'm over feeling bad about not finishing my hours by graduation and I hope that's true. I just need to bite the bullet and get it done. 59.5 to go. Some people are shocked when I tell them that number but I'm not ashamed of it anymore...I've worked my butt off since January to even be there. It'll happen - I'm convinced of that. I've started going to team again. I thought it would be strange to be there with the new 2nd year cohort (though I still call them the 1st years in my head and in most conversations), it really isn't that bad. While they could never replace my cohort, I enjoy being around them for the most part. At least the banter is entertaining. And it's nice to spend a little more time with the supervisors before I leave Greenville.

Speaking of which...I got a job! Well, it's not official yet but it's in the works. I've been given a "contingent" offer, meaning I have to pass the drug test and background check, plus they have to speak with my references. I don't think any of those will pose a problem. I'll be working for an agency called Youth Villages that specializes in in-home therapy with families who have an adolescent/teenager who is at risk of being place outside the home due to behavioral issues. Yes, I know this will be a challenge. Kristy and Jodi are already working for this same agency (Kristy in Durham, Jodi in Greenville) and Sam was offered a position today. I haven't spoken to Kristy about it but Jodi seems to be enjoying her job thus far. I'll be starting in July, though I haven't found out the official date yet. There will be a week-long training, then I begin receiving families (at least, that's my impression). Last week was an interesting one for me. I interviewed for the job on May 20th and was told I'd find out by the following Monday or Tuesday whether I got the job. Well, Monday and Tuesday came and went. Every time my phone made a noise, I jumped. It was completely nerve-wracking. When I still hadn't heard by Wednesday, not only was I getting rather irritated (I hate being told someone is going to contact me and then they don't...mostly, I just hate waiting by the phone), I also was beginning to think I hadn't gotten the job. This concerned me because none of the other places I'd applied to had shown any interest. Finally, on Thursday morning, I got the call. It was SUCH a relief. Of course, with it also came some nerves. First of all, since second semester of my first year of grad school, I've been unsure if therapy was even what I wanted to do with my life. And yet, here I am, about to dive into a therapy job. Secondly, as I said before, this is a very challenging position. It's really going to make me stretch, pull me out of my comfort zone. This is both a good and bad thing. I don't usually do very well with change but there are lots of things I need to work on that I think this job will help me with, such as being more assertive. So, it's safe to say that I am both nervous and excited about working for Youth Villages.The second part of that story is that the particular office I've been hired with is in Wilmington...meaning Brandon and I have decided to live together. It's a big step but we've done a lot of talking about it and will continue to do more. This weekend, I'm heading down to Wilmington and we're going apartment shopping. We're also planning to set up a budget based on each of our expected salaries. We've each lived with significant others in the past and I think we've both grown a lot since then. We have a clearer picture of what we do and do not want. I know I've changed so much since Ben and I lived together 2 years ago...mostly thanks to grad school. And I'm hoping this will be a MUCH better experience for both of us. All in all, I'm looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life. :)

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. Molly and I went down to Carolina Beach to visit Jason and Kenny - a trip we'd been planning for a couple months or so. It's always really nice to get away and this weekend was no exception. I arrived Friday evening and Molly had already been there for a couple hours. It was a laid back night. We ended up playing a game with the four of us, plus the boys' two new roommates and one of the roommate's lady friends (they were exes, I believe). I was surprised at how well we all carried on with one another...but mostly surprised at myself. Sometimes, I'm so shy around new people. Other times, I can interact with them as though I've known them for years. I guess it just depends on the company...and it usually helps when I have someone like Molly there as a safe base. So it was a fun night. Before bed, Jason's younger brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Janice, showed up. Their trip was last minute and Molly and I didn't find out until we got to the beach that they were coming. I felt a little awkward once they got there. It was the first time I'd seen Michael and Janice since James and I broke up. I wasn't sure if they'd have any hard feelings toward me for being the one who ended it. They didn't seem to though. In fact, I really didn't see them much at all throughout the weekend. Not that I have anything against those two but, I was actually kind of glad that was the case. I didn't really think they would but part of me was a little worried they would ask why James and I broke up. And I really didn't want to have to explain that.Numa - We don't claim him in public ;)

On Saturday, Molly, Kenny, and I grabbed some lunch and took it down to the beach. The sun wasn't out much but it felt great outside. We sat there for a while, just talking and relaxing. I didn't realize it until later but I got a little burnt. Those clouds can be deceiving. Afterward, the three of us went to see Iron Man 2. It was the second time I'd seen it so, while still good, it wasn't nearly as exciting as the first time. I even dozed off once or twice. When the movie was over, we were all getting hungry so we swung back by the house to see if Jason or anyone else was interested in having dinner with us. It was a little disappointing when Jason said no. He hadn't hung out with us all day and, after all, Molly and I had come to visit him as well. But alas, it ended up just being the three of us again for dinner at Mama Mia's, which was very good. We hung out at the house for a bit before heading downtown. Again, we were in two groups. Jason, Michael, and Janice left first, then Molly, Kenny, and I - even though we were heading to the same place. Our first stop was the Fat Pelican, which is a favorite of Jason and Kenny's. It's a very interesting little bar with lots of character. There, one of Jason and Kenny's friends from high school, John, joined us. Before too long, Jason, Michael, and Janice were on to the next destination, The Seawitch, to hear a band play, and we followed along soon after. To be honest, the band wasn't too entertaining so I wasn't sad when they finished up at midnight. The other group decided to head home early (they were going fishing the next morning) but Molly, Kenny, John, and I moved on to The Silver Dollar, a bar famous for its karaoke. Of course, it being Memorial Day weekend, the place was completely packed. I even witnessed my first ever bar fight. After the fight was broken up, we decided to pick another place and ended up at The Dive. This was a bar as well but, unlike the others, had dancing, which especially interested Molly. I didn't plan to dance but she ended up convincing me anyway. Of course, it wasn't long before guys were trying to dance with us. That was fine for Molly but it wasn't something a girl with a boyfriend should be doing. It just really irritated me that I couldn't just dance, by myself or with my friend, without guys trying to bump and grind with me. Sometimes, I just want to dance! I need to start wearing a sign that instructs me to leave me alone. Most of the guys who gave it a shot were so drunk that they didn't even care when I told them I had a boyfriend. Ridiculous. Eventually, I just gave up trying to dance at all. Molly had a good time though. That night, Molly went to bed but I stayed up talking to John and Kenny. I think I was too wound up from the night so I couldn't sleep. It was definitely entertaining to talk to those two Denton boys though.Kenny, me, Molly, and John - at The Dive.

Sunday morning got off to an interesting start. I was woken up by Jason. My initial thought was, "Why is he in here?". But then he started telling me a story and before he even got to the end, I could tell where it was going. Apparently, they found a drunk man passed out in the passenger seat of my car that morning. My only guess is that, when I got something out of my car Saturday night, I hadn't locked it back. That would be my luck, right? I gave Jason my keys and asked him to check if the GPS was still there (thank God it's Brandon's). So the guy was harmless, I suppose, and just needed somewhere to sleep. But seriously? To be so drunk that you'll sleep in some stranger's car (but still have enough sense to lean the seat back)? Double ridiculous. Of course, I felt like an idiot for not having my doors locked. I'm so lucky nothing was harmed or missing. A little later (this whole incident took place way too early), I left for Wilmington to visit Brandon. He and I headed back to the beach and, this time, the weather was much better. We had to park miles away because it was so crowded but it could have been worse. Though we weren't out there for long, we both got sunburned - me more so than him. But it was fun. I was exhausted by the time we got back, from the sun and being up so late the night before, so I napped for a bit. Then, he grilled some burgers for dinner and we watched a movie before bed. He always cooks for me when I'm at his place. :)

And that was my weekend. The weekends have been crazy since graduation, and will continue to be for a couple more. But it's great...especially spending time with people I love. :)