Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sappy Love and Book Club

So normally I like to tell people I'm a tough cookie and that I don't cry very often. But when it comes to good romantic stories, I'm a big baby. I just watched Safe Haven because IT'S FINALLY ON NETFLIX and I've been waiting to rent it since the day it came out. I balled my eyes out at the end because of the beautiful story and sentimental value it has to me.

I have a friend at the nursing home that I've been wanting to write about. For reasons involving HIPAA regulations, I can't say her name on the internet. However, considering the memories we've created, I don't think I'll have trouble connecting the dots in my head in years to come. I met her about a year ago, when I first started my job. At times, she is restless at night and it seemed upon training that my co-workers had a hard time remedying her anxiety. So I decided to start reading to her. The first book we read wasn't that great, but it was funny because, seeing as how my reading calmed her down, other aids started doing the same thing. All of the sudden, I would open the book, and it would be several pages ahead of what we were at the night before. I'd say to her, "Hey! Have you been letting other aids read to you? I thought that was our thing?!" At that point I knew I cared for her more than the boundaries of my work setting.

I have a particular memory of my time with her that I really cherish. It was the night of her husband's funeral. Well over 50 years they had been together. She had just had not only an exhausting day, but an entire two weeks that had left her fatigued physically, emotionally and mentally every night. Her daughters were with her and I was helping her get ready for bed, a routine I have down to a T from the countless nights I've been with her. I handed her the denture container to take out her teeth thinking nothing of the act but more so trying to be as gentle as possible knowing the fragile state she was in. Out of nowhere I hear her two daughters laughing as they stare at their mother. I look at them, then look back at her as she starts laughing too. I realized that her daughters had never actually seen their mother without her teeth before. I started laughing with them and a lump in my throat formed. I was in the midst of this intimate family moment, after one of the hardest days of their lives. It's almost as if I shouldn't have been there.

This spring I picked a book for us to read: Save Haven. Now, I have read Nicholas Spark's novels before and I'm pretty sure he is one of the greatest romantic novelist of my time! Maybe it's the numerous films that have been produced from his books, but he has a crazy unbelievable way of making a woman cry (Kuddos Mr. Sparks). So biased I was, I was going to make sure NO ONE else would read this book with us.

We would leisurely read, some nights we'd get a number of chapters done, other nights I'd be so busy that we wouldn't have time at all. But it was a constant flow of progress. I knew, however, that I was crunched for time, seeing as how I had to leave for New York soon. I'd work my ass off some nights to guarantee I had a short 15 minutes to read to her. And by the end of August I was clocking out and running back upstairs to finish the last few pages of a chapter. The last day we read I wasn't even scheduled to work, but I was leaving town the next day. The few pages remaining had us both at the edge of our seats and by the end I was holding back tears. I gave her a long hug and she kissed me on the cheek. I tried to avoid thinking that that might have be the last time I would see her, but it's always unpredictable in long term care.

I formed a bond with her. Before I knew it, I was telling her about my boyfriend and family, and what I was working on in school. I've gradually gotten to know her family members by name through pictures and visits. She has taught me how to truly care for someone more so than simple daily routine. I think about her often and ask my co-workers to say hi to her for me. Though a pain in the neck at times, she is funny and sweet, strong and resilient. She warms my soul and I love her for it. No matter if I see her when I get back or if I have to wait until heaven, she's got a place in my heart and memories that will stay with me a very long time.

All that being said, I obviously highly recommend the movie. The book is better, as always, but it tugs on your heart strings nonetheless.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


This week I was plagued with my first cold of the season. It was bound to happen as I don't think I've had any sickness other than the sniffles since last fall/winter. Friday evening I attended my first social dance at Breakin' Out Ballroom in the town neighboring Stony Brook. No doubt that was the source of my illness as we frequently exchange dance partners...and germs. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun, just as I anticipated. For those of you that don't know (like my parents), a social dance is simply a room full of individuals with the common interest and a source of music that plays varying genres of dance tunes. I usually go with my team so there is a comfort in knowing you'll dance with people you know, but I always find excitement in getting asked to dance by someone I do not know. I love how ballroom dancing connects me to different generations of individuals. I could be approached by a complete stranger in his 50's asking if I'd like to dance swing and for the most part I am be able to follow him. It's a common language, if you will. It has also been a fantastic talking point with my residents back home, as they always reminisce of dancing the jitterbug back in the day with their loved ones. After five long days of battle, my cold is almost gone, thank goodness.

Kicked my butt for 3 weeks, but I finally beat level 147 on Candy Crush. I fist pumped on the bus when it happened.

Before becoming sick I started attending yoga classes at the recreation center on campus. Offered three times a week, these classes fill up FAST! Each class is open for registration online 24 hours in advance and there is always a line of people waiting a couple minutes before hand to see if they can squeeze in. I've taken yoga in the past, but I think I've always followed the stigma that yoga is merely a relaxation technique. It is, but it also left me sore the next day. Not only am I stretching muscles I've lost much flexibility in since high school, but I'm also strengthening muscles just as much as if I were to do push-ups and sit-ups. I think I will keep up with it throughout the semester.

SBU showed The Great Gatsby as a drive in movie in one of the school's parking lots yesterday. A couple National Student Exchange friends and I took the bus and sat on the pavement in front of all the cars. We didn't plan as thoroughly as other squatters who brought pillows and blankets to keep comfortable. While the movie played I constantly had to readjust to relieve sore joints and bones in my legs. It brings me to the sad realization that I am getting older. Back in grade school I could sit "pretzel style" for hours and not get sore. How can it be that my feet cramp if I sit with my legs straight for 2 minutes? Hopefully yoga will remedy that. Perhaps I should have done what the obnoxious girls behind me decided to do: Take a sip of alcoholic beverage hidden in a non conspicuous water bottle every time Jay Gatsby said "Old Sport". Apparently he says the phrase 55 times throughout the movie, so I was fortunate enough to get a British narrated version of the entire movie yapping behind me. Oh well, you get what you didn't pay for.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dance Fever

How is it that I go to a BBQ and get five bug bites and all my friends from around here don't feel a thing? Do the mosquitoes know I'm from Minnesota and want to feast on my sweet mid-western blood? I don't get it.

The longer I'm here, the more I realize I am on an actual college campus. I have resorted to stealing plastic forks, knives, and spoons from the dining halls because people allegedly steal silverware from your room. One of my roommates locks her door even if it is just to use the shower across the hall. I pay for laundry, there is a mail room, and on weekends a long van comes to pick up freshmen from the student union for off campus fraternity parties. So much going on all the time such as this week's student involvement fair complete with over 300 student groups (picture of Wolfie the Seawolf)
as well as a Mac Miller and The Cataracs concert.

This week I joined the Stony Brook Ballroom Dance Team and was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to immerse myself into their community. I went to the first practice and most of the members could tell I already had ballroom experience. Though I was able to  keep up with most of them, I also had some anxiety about the way their team creates partnerships. While UMR assigns who dances with who, this team chooses individually who they'd like to dance with. Dance partnerships take a lot of time to develop depending on how dedicated a couple is. Seeing as how I plan to only be here one semester, I was skeptic that I'd find someone to compete with for just half the season.

Much to my chagrin, during the second practice I was approached by one of the members, Jeremy, asking if I'd be willing to dance with him for the first competition on October 12th. I gladly excepted knowing from talking to him that he intends on winning...a lot. Thus, along with about eleven hours worth of classes a week, I will be putting in about five to six hours a week of dancing. Thank goodness my classes are easy this semester so I'll be able to dedicate more time to a hobby I can't help but think I'll only be doing for this last year of undergrad. Hopefully that is not the case.

I read an article during the weekend on how anthropology is being modernized to aid corporate businesses. Initially, I think most people would assume that a career in anthropology would involve either teaching, primates, or digging up fossils. In reality, companies such as the distributors of Absolute Vodka are hiring ethnographers (ethnography- a branch of anthro) to attend house parties in New York to pin point how they can make their product better. From a health science point of view, I think ethnography can be useful in so many different ways. Upon doing some further research I found out Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation hires ethnographers in order to transform the way health care is experienced and delivered. The empathy involved in realizing a persons cultural, religious, or personal values is so crucial for any sort of involvement in patient care. I'm obviously loving anthro so far. Just thought I'd share my inner nerd with thee. 8)