I did this last year and it felt great. So, again. What set this year apart?
It was my last year as a student. There were a lot of lasts. My last carnival was awesome. I got a photo with President Cohon. My dear Mudge RAs and I also had a reunion that month. One of us was an adult, with a house and a spouse and a dog, and she hosted.
Then Breakthrough happened. For nearly eight weeks, I was challenged every. single. day. and I learned that teaching was the hardest and most rewarding thing I had ever done. Twenty-four other teachers learned this with me, and from those moments I have deep friendships along with my memories.
At the end of each day, I came home to a San Francisco sanctuary brought to life by the greatest host mom I could have asked for. She also had two charming labradors who helped to recharge my batteries. My summer ended with a first: a music festival in Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands. I had a couple of weeks at home before returning to Pittsburgh.
My last semester at school was dominated by my lab class and my design class - both group endeavors. The first produced several hundred pages of reports and helped me to brush up on my Matlab skills, and the second resulted in a Best Overall Design award and some local news coverage.
That was the end of a roller coaster week for me. A few days before that, Simba died . That was rough, to say the least. But like everything else, this too shall pass.
I spent the next few days alternating between leaning on my amazingly supportive friends and working on that project. On the same day of the presentation and awards, I got an interview at my top post-grad option. To be continued.
Beyond these larger landmarks in my rear view mirror, I met Neil DeGrasse Tyson, did a mud run, went to Gettysburg and Independence Hall, won a dodgeball tournament, carved my first pumpkin, went camping, and finally skied down a black diamond.
I also picked up a few new hobbies and interests along the way, adding Hermann Hesse, David Foster Wallace, and Ernest Hemingway to my list of favorite authors that struggles to have any common thread. And I also found myself spending a respectable amount of time working on my penmanship and learning French. Though I still can't pronounce "l'ours lourd" (heavy bear). Hopefully I won't need to.
At home, my brother and Delve are alive and well. My parents are still adapting to life without the fuzzy fifth member of our family, which can only happen one step at a time.
This year, most of my high school gang moved on to life after college. When we met up over Thanksgiving, we hung out in a familiar attic playing Halo 4 and then watched a Judd Apatow movie, reassuring me that nothing important had changed.
I'm in the middle of that transition over in Pittsburgh. I have no idea where I will be in a year - that's another first - but I'll have a lot of explaining to do if I'm not teaching.