After a month off, spent almost entirely relaxing at home with my family, girlfriend, and friends, I’m back in Azusa – and let me tell you, it is so good to be back.
Christmas break was exactly what I needed. When High Sierra had finished, I needed time to decompress and get used to being back in the busy world again. The month off helped allowed me to get the rest I needed, see some of my favorite people, spend a huge amount of time with my family and girlfriend, visit some extended family up in Chicago and Minnesota, and see a bunch of great movies.
Oh, and allow me to tell you about the weather I experienced in Illinois…
I woke up one morning in early January to a -20 degree temperature reading on our thermometer…and that wasn’t the only day.
I believe the final count of extreme weather was around 3 power-outage-inducing, tree-down’ing, drive-more-carefully-than-you’ve-ever-driven-before ice storms ( One of which I was caught in on a 2 and 1/2 hour drive to Indianapolis at about 10:00 at night to pick up my girlfriend from the airport. The drive took 4 and 1/2 hours and I nearly died spinning off the road into the graveyard of cars already frozen in the ditch after having less luck on the ice than I did).
Needless to say, finally stepping off the plane in Ontario, CA was the welcomed culmination of a month spent in bone-shivering cold weather.
Since being back, the transition has gone amazingly well. There was a moment of hesitation, however, before I arrived on campus. As my roommate Aaron drove me back to campus from the airport, I was slightly worried about the new semester. I was worried that so much had changed since I left. I was worried that my friends might not call me when they got together simply because I slipped out of their minds. Being back in a class of 30+ people sounded intimidating. Would the constant events in my day to day life seem overwhelming and paralyze me from being productive?
I woke up the next morning – the first day of classes – and to my surprise, I felt energized for a semester of new classes, excited to be back in Azusa with my old friends, and ready to take on a new semester. Worry, stress, and the overwhelming feeling of being in a big city again have all taken a back seat these first two weeks. Seeing my friends again was like I had never left. They welcomed me back and I immediately felt at home again. The new classes are certainly bigger than my classes at High Sierra, but the knowledge and skills I picked up last semester have made me feel so much more comfortable in a big-class setting, allowing me to speak up more and share my opinions and answers with the class.
“Busy” is a word relative to how you see it. For years the word “busy” scared me. It brought with it connotations of stress, endless hours of work, and no sign of relaxation or fun. But since coming back from High Sierra, I’ve realized that there are two different ways to look at this word. I can be “busy” with dozens of things that have to get done, chopping away at homework like I would a big tree with an axe – waiting for it to come crashing to the floor so I can be finished and move onto the next thing, making “appointments” with different friends at the coffee shop just to catch up with them for a brief 15 minutes, checking them off the list and moving on to the next friend. Or, I can see my days as being “busy” with things that I get to do each day – enjoying the time I spend in the library and savoring my studies, getting on the bike and riding up Glendora Mountain Road in the morning before class – even if it means getting up at 6:30 AM, and hanging out with friends and appreciating each one of them and reconnecting with them, even if it takes time to get around to everyone.
I used to get so overwhelmed with the amount of things that needed to be done. My schedule could look pretty intimidating, and I found myself getting so stressed everyday, waiting for the weekend to come. But now I look at my days as opportunities. Meetings become time to connect with people. Classes become enjoyable and something I thoroughly look forward to.
Hopefully this optimistic mindset is something that I can hold onto this entire semester. If I know one thing, it’s that High Sierra has taught me to slow down and relish each moment, every person, and every opportunity.
In other news, I’m so pumped to be riding Glendora Mountain Road again. The riding at Bass Lake was definitely beautiful, but I really came to love my ride into the San Gabriel Foothills last year, and I’ve been getting up early most mornings to ride my favorite route. I took an early morning ride this weekend and met another fellow rider who keeps a blog on the route, and I actually made it onto her website! (http://glendoramtnroad.blogspot.com/).
And also, as some of you may have heard, the Oscar nominations just came out. I’m pleasantly surprised by some nominations, happy with others, and furious with a few. I recently have been catching up on a lot of nominated films, such as The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, Man On Wire, and Gran Torino. It’s going to be a tough match this year for a lot of the categories – there’s been so many great films in the last quarter of 2008.
Are any of you following the Oscar race? Has anybody seen some great films lately?
Also, you guys can feel free to ask my any other questions about anything APU related! I’d love to answer them!
Hope everyone is well as they’re heading back to school after break. I’ll talk to you soon!