No, my dear readers, I have not forgotten about you. My life has just been spinning out of control crazy fast this semester, and even my free time is full because there is so little of it! I rarely have time to gather my thoughts into anything long enough to constitute a blog post because all of my mental capacities are focused on my schoolwork. This is as it should be, I suppose, but this blog has been on my mind lately and I wanted to write to let you know that I am alive and well. So here is what's been going on with me:
I've been playing catch-up since Christmas break, really, because the week before I left for Pittsburgh I got really sick and missed class for the first time since coming here to New York. I had been to class sick before many times, but this was the kind of sick where you can't leave your sickbed. I will spare you the details, but I will say that I was surprised and pleased to recover in only two days and return to classes despite some lingering weakness. Over break I spent many hours in the kitchen, cooking our traditional Polish dishes for Christmas dinner during the day (hand-made peroguies, twice-baked potatoes, my great-grandma's cheesecake, etc) and then cooking dinner for the family in the afternoon/evening. I joked with my mom that I was apprenticing her to learn the trade. It's hard work, let me tell ya. I mean, my schoolwork at AMDA keeps me busy 24/7, and I truly strive to give it my all, but my mother's life as a stay-at-home mother of six children (only two teenagers still at home now, but still!) and primary organizer of our family's Christmas/New Years holidays is even more demanding and fast-paced! By the time Christmas rolled around I needed a few days of just doing nothing before welcoming some extended family for our New Years party and returning to AMDA for class on January 2nd.
I tried my best to stay active during my time off, working out every other day without fail and keeping my sleep schedule as regular as possible, but in those few days after Christmas I was so exhausted and there was so much good food around that I quite got out of the good habits I had established earlier in the semester, the effects of which, I am sorry to say, I am still feeling to this day, almost a month later.
Additionally, it was particularly difficult for me, the third of six children, to go from a home full of love and laughter and noise and 12+ people to my single dorm room in a big, impersonal city. For the first time since moving here, really, I realize that occasional phone calls are not even close to enough personal contact. But that is part of the price I pay to be here, pursuing my dearest dream. My time for family and togetherness will come, I am sure, but for now it is simply an oasis, far away in Pittsburgh, for me to visit once in a while.
Isn't it terrible how easy it is to lose focus, even for a few days, and how far-flung the effects of that slip can be? Today starts the last week of classes of my second semester here, after which we start our final demos, and I must say that I cannot wait for it to be over. This semester has brought a startling number of break-throughs, triumphs, and growth spurts in many areas, but they have all been hard-won, sometimes painfully so. And there have been a fair number of failures, as well. All told, I think I can honestly say that this semester was the most difficult thing I have ever been through. And I spent a month doing manual labor in Africa.
Is all or any of this worth it? Well, I'm a little to close to the difficulty of it all to smile and say "Of course! I just love it here!" But I have a feeling that I will look back on this semester and say "That's when I learned what it took to stick it out no matter what." Oh yes, I'm staying. There's no doubt in my mind about that. As I used to say in Africa when the going got tough, "I'd rather be here and suffering than comfortable anywhere else." And that's the truth.