Category Archives: homesickness

I’ve Lost Total Control Of My Life

Have I already written a post titled that? I feel like I have. And if I haven’t, I’ve absolutely thought about it.

It’s because I’m dying.

13 days until this rotation is over. Hopefully (all my fingers crossed) it’s a little easier afterwards. Just a few more classes and a practicum left to complete. 101 days ’til graduation.

Anyway, a few updates:
1) Ben came to see me while he was visiting his grandparents in Florida a few weeks ago and it was awesome and I miss him every day.
2) I survived my first hurricane. Even though it was just a category 1 and hit New Orleans and Mississippi way more than Mobile. My power didn’t even go out.
3) I have a new boyfriend. And he’s awesome. So awesome, in fact, that when I was bummed about not being at Beaver Stadium with my family on Saturday, he made it better. I had class all day (yes, on Saturday… it was a make-up day due to Isaac) so I didn’t even get to watch the game. But when I showed up to his house afterwards, he was wearing a PSU shirt, had DVRed the game, and had a case of Yuengling in his fridge. Even though he’s an Ole Miss fan and we’ve been officially dating less than a month. Seriously, one of the nicest things anyone has ever done in the history of the whole world. This relationship terrifies me but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it.
4) I’m kind of loving SEC football because it’s crazytown and intense. However, I know next to nothing about it. Case in point… three teams I thought were in the SEC that actually aren’t: Baylor, Florida State (I really should have known that), and Oklahoma (don’t ask me why I thought they were). Also, I still don’t care one way or another regarding the Auburn vs. Alabama rivalry.

I’m so damn happy that football is back. The joy of watching someone catch a pass in the end zone is always way more intense during the end of August and beginning of September.

And a few of us got two parking spots for the USA/Nicholls State game this Saturday. First crazy tailgate of the year! Although, since I’m used to Pitt and Penn State games, this is gonna be a bit of a different experience. All you have to do to get parking spots is claim them and pick up the passes. Same for tickets. That’s unreal since I’m used to the competitive unavailability of these things. I mean, South Alabama is still Division I (as of this year, haha) but like half as many kids go here… compared to Pitt, at least (and its 1/3 compared to Penn State). Lord knows I’m gonna be drunk and cheering my face off though, so that part’s the same. I have school spirit in all situations.

Except when Pitt continues to embarrass themselves season after season. I will totally stand by a team to the end if they suck just because they suck (go Buccos). But Pitt sucks because they call terrible plays and throw terrible passes and fumble around like idiots. Consistently. Every season. I refuse to stand by that. If you’re theoretically supposed to be good but still end up sucking, that’s not ok. Get your shit together.

I’m kind of ashamed to have gone there now. Especially amongst all my SEC friends. I think I’m just gonna pretend that I’m not a Pitt grad from now on. If someone’s ever like “Hey Liz, didn’t you go there?” during the humiliating ESPN highlights (which I’m still boycotting, BTW), I’ll just be like “Umm… what?… No…” because that’s totally convincing and not shady so it’s gonna work.

In other semi-related sports news, I’m obviously absolutely happy that the Pirates might be able to slide into the playoffs… even though it’s actually been looking kind of grim as of late. I’d seriously cut off my left hand if it meant that this would come true though. Every time someone posts a status about being at a game or a picture of PNC Park, my heart breaks a little. Up until this summer, I’m pretty sure I’ve gone to at least one game a year since it opened. There are pros and cons to every major life decision.

And I know that on Sunday night when the Steelers play, I’m probably gonna put on my Polamalu jersey and curl up on the couch in the fetal position and be really freaking sad because it’s not the same.

TLDR: Despite not having posted for almost a month, nothing’s really changed.

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Debilitating Homesickness

I’ve mentioned this condition a few times before. In my personal experience, it’s only debilitating for a few hours. And the episodes are relatively rare. But for Mary, she’s always kind of at least 10% homesick and usually she’s actually somewhere between 25-100% homesick.

Last night, in the middle of the night, we were chatting on the phone while I was downing coffee and getting stuff done and she was about to go to bed and trying not to feel lonely so she could  sleep. And after an explanation of her feelings and ultra emotional day, she asked “What’s wrong with me?” and I was like, “You have IT.”

IT is what the staff used to call homesickness at summer camp. Used in a scenario…

Counselor 1: What’s wrong with Camper A?
Counselor 2: She has IT.

Usually the word IT is accompanied by the non-verbal cues (usually with your eyes) that accompany any interpersonal exchange involving a secret code. Basically, the “you know what I mean” suggestion eyes.

If you say homesickness around a camper or refer to a camper as homesick or let them identify with that term, then it’s like an instant flood of tears and straight up defeat and determination to have their parents come get them immediately and that decision is non-negotiable. As soon as they hear the word, for some reason, kids are basically going to be miserable and inconsolable and will end up finishing the week early. Usually, there was more than one homesick camper every week and kids have fragile emotions so if you were talking about one kid being homesick and another homesick kid heard you, that homesick kid might cross the threshold into debilitating homesick meltdown and then you have two unhappy campers. So that’s why homesickness = IT. The goal of camp is to make sure as many kids as possible have the most fun possible

Generally, because the goal of camp to be an awesome experience for everyone, the early departure of a camper was not the outcome we were hoping for. If you can get a kid to stay at camp for even another afternoon, they’ll generally be able to make it through the week. Some kids just have one acute episode of homesickness. Others go back and forth between happy and homesick all week but most of them are able to stay until Saturday. After being a counselor for even just one summer, you’re an expert at spotting the signs and symptoms of homesickness and intervening to make kids want to stay at camp and have fun.

It can be hard to be away from everything you know and all the security of your daily life and have to make new friends and do activities that you’ve never done before. We’ve all been there. So if you can empathize with the kid and have a heart-to-heart intervention talk and get him/her to want to stay, he/she will absolutely develop stronger coping skills and probably be better for it in terms of general life skills and also just be able to enjoy summer camp like every kid should.

And as an adult, homesickness really isn’t much different. You’re away from your support system and everyone you know. You have to make new friends. You have to do new and challenging things without the people who love you around to help you face those things. So when I told Mary that she had IT, she then asked what I would do if she was a camper and I was a counselor to help her not feel homesick.

Immediately, you have to figure out what, specifically is making the camper cry. Once you determine that he/she is crying because he/she is homesick and not because so-and-so was mean or because he/she was running down the hill and wiped out or because he/she can’t catch a crayfish and everyone else can, you then address why they’re homesick and whether it has to do with something they don’t like about camp.

The worst case scenario is that they actually do hate something about camp… like the food or the people in their cabin or team time or whatever. Because then you kind of have to come up with a solution to help them find food that they can eat or work out the issues with their cabinmates (girls are fucking vicious at all ages… that’s a FACT) or help them have fun playing 4-way soccer (which, for you readers not in the know, is 1 big game of soccer with multiple balls between 4 teams at once and 1 field divided into 4 sections… 1 for each team with 1 goal each).

I’ve gone to the kitchen in the middle of the afternoon and made a kid a PB&J because the kid didn’t want to eat anything earlier at lunch. And I’ve facilitated spur of the moment small group activities with follow-up debriefs about feelings/communicating/including other people/etc. And I’ve told a kid that he/she could be my 4-way soccer buddy and told him/her that we had a very special job to do together. Usually this “very special job” was some bullshit position like the “let’s try to keep counselor Nate from crossing the line into our goal territory” position which basically entailed running in a fashion that made the kid feel like he/she was contributing to the team effort and not sucking at sports. Lots of high fives. And the point is that you give them something to focus on, especially something that makes them feel important, to take their mind off the fact that they’re not having fun. And then they do have fun. Sometimes kids just need to feel like they’re special. And usually, because kids are crazy approval seekers, if you give one kid a special job or position or attention, other kids want a special job or position or attention from you too and before you know it, you have an army of kids who run wherever you run to keep Nate away from the goal territory and everyone has a good time and the kid who was unhappy doesn’t need you anymore because he/she is involved with other kids and having a good time with them.

All of these solutions work for the most part and unhappy campers become as happy as all the other campers. I did have one particularly vicious cabin that just would not get along though. Like 9 year old girls who tore each other apart consistently. We were on the challenge course for way longer than usual that week because everyone kept having meltdowns. Like anger meltdowns and frustration meltdowns and general unhappiness meltdowns, all with a shitload of tears. It was the week from hell. Finally, my co-counselor and I had to have that “Fuck this shit. Let’s just send them to free time because this is a non-constructive lost cause,” discussion… the ultimate failure for a camp counselor. The challenge course is about team-building and trust and communication and cooperation and personal growth and all that “peace, love, and happiness” summer camp stuff. But these kids were like the T-Rexes of elementary school. You can lead a T-Rex to water, but you can’t make it drink, I guess. One of my top 10 biggest feelings of failure happened during that challenge course afternoon. My co and I sat down across from each other at dinner and had that “WTF just happened?” non-verbal exchange. Granted, we knew it was going to be rough because those kids had problems with each other from night one basically. But usually, after the challenge course, things take a turn for the better in terms of people getting along. Because that’s kind of the whole point. Do new/fun things and get closer as a group. NOT THIS TIME. On Saturday morning, those girls hated each other just as much as they did on Sunday night. And probably even more, actually. They are the reason I want to have mostly boys if I’m ever a mom.

Goodness. That was a tangent. It’s still vivid in my brain even though it was almost 6 years ago. Some things are so terrible that you just never forget. That was also the week of excessive and negative animal interactions. The snake story is a tale for another time. If I ever have to answer an interview question about staying cool under pressure, I might use that experience. To this day, I have a serious problem with snakes, whereas I had absolutely no problem with them before. Prior to that week, I’d easily picked up snakes that got into the bathroom and put them outside and stuff like that. Now, my heart races even if I see them in cages at the zoo.

But ok… back to the homesickness. This is why I can never be a public speaker. People would always be like “WTF is she talking about? And what does this have to do with where we started?” I might start putting an outline at the beginning of these posts.

The best case scenario when assessing a homesick camper is finding out that there’s not anything specifically that he/she dislikes about camp, but rather that he/she just misses his/her mom or grandpa or dog or whoever. I previously mentioned the worst things to hear in the middle of the night from a camper. I need to add one to the list right now. “I miss my mom.” Usually they’re crying so hard they can hardly say the sentence. And in the middle of the night in a quiet cabin full of sleeping kids, this is a crisis.

But ok… so, you find out that the kid doesn’t hate camp but just misses something or someone about home. In this case, you don’t have to problem-solve. You can just skip straight to step 2 which is the final step. Smooth sailing. You basically just have to distract them. And most kids are absolutely easily distracted. It’s my favorite kid characteristic. Some people, when they’re discussing what types of kids they want to have or what type of kids they’re going to have, they list attributes like smart, social, athletic, imaginative, etc. The only thing I want my kids to be is easily distracted. Parenting will be soooo much easier.

You ask the kid with IT what they had fun doing that day or what they were looking forward to later that day or the next day or later in the week. If you make them start talking about how much they like camp, then they’ll forget how much they want to be home. And that works 90% of the time. During the other 10% of the time, when a kid is particularly stubborn (i.e. not easily distracted), you have to verbally express whatever positive stories and feelings and jokes and whatever you can come up with to make them laugh. Once they laugh, just one time, it’s basically game over in 99.99999% of cases. You’ve won. Crisis averted. The camper is gonna survive the homesickness and have a good time.

So, last night, when Mary asked what I would do if I was a counselor, I told her. And then we started talking about camp because she worked there when I did and became a counselor a few years later too. Incidentally, she was lifeguarding during the snake incident so she has PTSD from that too. Anyway, Mary obviously wasn’t going to be happy just by talking about what she likes about Utah because 1) she’s not really a dumb kid any more and knows what she’s feeling and why she’s feeling it so rationalization of the issue won’t help and 2) we always talk about what she likes about Utah and it always fails to cure her homesickness. So, I tricked her. Because adults, especially Mary, are sometimes just as easily distracted as kids. And instead of talking about Utah and how awesome it was, we talked about camp and relived some memories. Most of them regarding dealing with homesick campers. And that made her laugh and feel good about what she did as a counselor and so then we were able to have a happy conversation about other things and I was pretty sure it made her feel somewhat better so I felt like the intervention was successful.

Then she sent me this e-mail today that didn’t have anything in it aside from this depressing quote from season 1 of Mad Men.

In Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

Ugh. Now I realize that the intervention was actually a huge fail. The debilitating homesickness is still running rampant in her brain.

Mary = the vicious Junior girls from hell week. Resistant to behavioral changes. Not that it’s her fault. Nor was it the Junior girls’ fault. Sometimes you can try everything and still fail not because people don’t want to feel better but just because they can’t feel better no matter what.

And I’ve obviously had way too much psychiatric nursing practice in the past few weeks. My brain can really only think in terms of disorders and therapeutic techniques. 2 more days……….. Then I can be normal again.

Tada Gan Iarracht

Today did not go as planned. It’s 10PM and I’m home and sober enough to study.

Think about everyone you know who’s been in nursing school. Then think about how stressed they were. Then think about packing all that stress into 11.5 months.

That’s why I’m not out right now. And why I’m getting up early to work on stuff and study all day tomorrow.

On a scale of 1 to 10, my stress level is an 11. Only a stress level of 11 could keep me from getting absolutely hammered and make me go home early on St. Paddy’s.

I think I’m at the brick wall of “I can’t fathom how I’m going to pull this off and the next 9 months seem impossible.”

Not gonna lie… it would be nice to not be so alone right now. You can only be your own motivation for so long. When burnout happens, you need a team of people to keep you going. And if someone could just make me baked mac n cheese, I’d be so happy.

Ben did call me talk shit about how badly my brackets are failing though haha. But he left me with some parting motivational words when he found out why I wasn’t obliterated like everyone else. He said (slurred), “Lizzie, do not give up. You can never give up. You’re a wild Irish rose.” That obviously made me feel less like giving up. But also like I really really wanted to be home. Stress-induced debilitating homesickness should be a real DSM disorder.

But I still had Guinness for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, the day wasn’t a total loss. It’s the little things, I guess.

And the Pens are tearing it up. How can I be unhappy when Crosby had 2 assists during the 16 minutes that he played on Thursday? And he had 3 assists today. And Cooke has scored 4 goals in 2 days. Outrageous.

But again… I want to be at Hough’s or Mario’s or anywhere in Pittsburgh screaming my face off with everyone instead of here in Alabama where I don’t really have time to watch hockey or anyone who cares about hockey to watch it with.

Today, all the happy things are just making me more sad, I think.

But this is what Crosby said about his first game and I think I’m going to adapt that sentiment to the next 9 months of my life.

To get into a game like that, a big situation with the intensity… I was happy to get that first one over with and keep going.

After the psych clinical rotation is over I can say to myself, “I was happy to get that first one over with and keep going.”

And then I’ll just start checking off each rotation one by one until it’s December.

This is a big situation with intensity. But I have to keep facing it every day because I refuse to quit. Graduation is going to be the proudest day of my life. I’ll feel like I finally accomplished something that was difficult and worthwhile.

It’s Not Crazy. It’s Sports.

Ryan sent me an email and I did cry one little tear. Not kidding.

It was titled, “homesickness remedy (everything you do, you do it big)” and included these YouTube videos…

And then at the end, “this is why you can’t procreate. the kids will be temper tantrum super fans.”

TRUTH.

And I love my friends. I would be dead without them. I totally forgot about the Terrible Towel thing. But it’s PERFECT. Steeler Nation is everywhere. I swear I won’t say anything else about the Steelers until summer. Unless, God forbid, something happens to Troy Polamalu.

Rachel told me that she and James are having a pierogie bar at toward the end of their reception. Umm, I can’t wait. It’s gonna be the classiest yinzer wedding ever.

Also, I have no idea how I graduated from college with a good GPA. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this. Easy Mac used to be like Ritalin. Now the Easy Mac cheese powder = sleep powder. I guess as soon as you get your diploma, your body switches into “never again” mode and can’t process college food anymore.

I’ve also found myself Googling things like “Is it ok to drink old coffee?” again. Sigh. I guess I forgot what this was like.

Finally, this was Billy’s status yesterday:

My life is like the weather in Upstate New York…… When it rains, it pours. Then gets cold, turns to ice, then starts to snow.

Hahaha. Only WNY kids can even begin to understand that. I miss my Alfred home/people too. Everyone is sledding.

Various And Sundry

Prepare for the onslaught. There’s a lot of stuff in here. I’m considering putting an index at the beginning so you can just skip to what you want haha.

Just to get this out of the way, here’s the Ryan Adams road mix that I promised to post forever ago.

And I think I might do my nursing practicum in the neuro ICU. It just feels like the right decision which is weird because I didn’t think I’d feel so inclined toward something so early. I wanna test reflexes every two hours. I think being an orthopedic surgical nurse would be sweet too though. I love muscles and bones. It seems like everyone else in my program wants to do labor and delivery. I’m personally terrified (probably irrationally) of that clinical rotation. I’m pretty sure I can handle most types of trauma and all the blood and/or exposed insides that comes with it but I know for a fact that I can’t handle a dead baby. It’s too devastatingly sad. They didn’t get a chance to live AT ALL. The second saddest thing in the world is a mom who died giving birth to a baby. And I know that most moms/babies are ok. But everyone sees at least either a dead mom or a dead baby during their OB/L&D rotation and I am definitely not looking forward to it. I’m too emotionally weak. The other thing that’s appealing about the neuro ICU is that it’s quiet and calm but there’s also a lot of pressure because people are only in the ICU if they’re in some kind of critical condition. I need pressure or else my life falls apart.

Homesickness update: still hasn’t stopped. It’s ups and downs. Last night when I was out, I heard Don’t Stop Believing and then Bohemian Rhapsody and I really just wanted to be drunk singing at Bar11 with everyone in Pittsburgh instead of people in Mobile. And I think the reason I’m homesick for the first time ever is because of how things were when I left (with the whole “not really being on good terms with some people because of the Matt aftermath tension” thing) and the subsequent realization that we didn’t really have the long-term friendships that I thought we did. So, it’s not just that I’m sad I’m not in Pittsburgh right now. It’s moreso the fact that when I go back, it’s not going to be the same at all. I’m more sad about the end of an era than I am about being in Alabama because I do actually freaking love it here. Yesterday, I had something that was basically the equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, a crab cake, and a fried green tomato. Previously, I thought that whiskey was the most delicious thing in the world. This grilled cheese crab cake thing was better. Whiskey, you are now #2.

I also realized how much I love being single in my mid-twenties and forced to meet new people and have new experiences as a result of this move. I have a closet full of little black dresses and definitely more heels and pearls than I need and I love living it up right now because I know this moment is fleeting. These are  my Audrey Hepburn days or something and I’m going out with as many charming southern men as I can before they’re over. Although, I still feel weird about the guys always opening doors for me and such. I don’t know if that will ever go away. I also kind of feel bad that I have no intentions to be serious with any of them. You’d really have to hardcore sweep me off my feet to get me into a relationship right now. I’m way too broken for that currently.

“Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell,” Holly advised him. ‘That was Doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr. Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.”
– Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

And JoePa’s first interview is up. And I have that sickness in my stomach again. And my heart hurts a little again. But not as bad as before. I feel like the interview isn’t resolving anything for me. Probably because the whole thing is just irresolvable and I’ll forever have mixed feelings about it.

Football isn’t life. Sports aren’t life. But I’m weirdly starting to realize that they’re probably more important than I want to admit. They’re so socially and culturally critical to me. And also in general, I guess. As a Latin American Studies kid in college, we always talked about the soccer culture and it’s importance in Central and South America. And we know what sports ancient civilizations used to play and how it related to their values, beliefs, etc. It seems neanderthal-ish to think about it like this because I feel like whenever you see or hear a person taking any given sporting event way too seriously, you tend to think they’re some kind of backwards unintelligent person or something. Kind of like how a lot of people think Steelers fans are all primitive working class people (there’s not even anything wrong with being working class) from Western PA.

Maybe we do take football too seriously there though. I guess I’ve always heard that football in Pittsburgh is bigger than football in most places, but I haven’t lived in enough places to know for sure. This article was probably the most recent thing I read that mentioned the Pittsburgh/football connection. And the Pittsburgh Dad Steelers episode was pretty much dead on which is why it’s hilarious (although, all Pittsburgh Dad episodes would be better without the laugh track). I mean, pretty solid proof of the fact that Pittsburghers love football more than air is probably the entire pick-up sports season of 2008-2009. No matter what we started playing, we always ended up playing football… to the point that we just started playing football every week and didn’t try to pretend like we were going to play anything else. And at first, I was kinda bummed. To me, it was like “Damn yinzers and their football. Why can’t we keep playing capture the flag?” The only thing I love more than pick-up football in the mud is capture the flag. If it was a professional sport, I’d be an all-star. It should be a professional sport. One of my life goals is probably to make it a professional sport. I don’t know how watchable it is though. I guess it’s not really anything that spectators could get into. Shannon and I would find a way to make it entertaining though. We rocked that shit. By the time this happens, I’ll probably be too old to play in the NCTFL but I can be the commissioner. After a summer of being a camp counselor, I have the expertise. The only foreseeable negative about professional CTF is the fact that training would probably entirely consist of running suicides. What other kind of training do you do need? CTF requires sprinting, slowing down or stopping briefly to pick up the flag, then sprinting again. Sometimes you have to push people if you play unethically. I guess there’s also some agility and quick momentum shifts to avoid or catch people but suicides pretty much cover that too.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Psh, what’s wrong with suicides?” Are you SERIOUS? Everything about them is terrible. That’s why they’re called suicides. I will admit that they help you reach nirvana though. Like in that moment where you really think you’re going to collapse instead of being able to touch the line and start running again, you somehow pull it off then enter into an out of body experience where all life’s answers are revealed to you. It’s probably because you’re experiencing pre-death events.

Anyway, if I was commissioner, Pittsburgh would obviously have one of the first CTF teams and it’d be an easy transition for fans because I’d name them the Pittsburgh Stealers (best name for a CTF team ever, right?) even though that might cause some confusion. But everyone could wear their regular Steelers gear and just put an A over the second E at CTF games. People wear their Steelers gear to Pirates games already anyway. And Pens stuff too. It’s the only thing that makes them feel better at the end of the game when the Pirates have lost again, I guess. Although, for awhile last season, you saw less and less Steelers/Pens stuff and more Pirates shirts/jerseys because people were getting excited about baseball again. People actually started going to games too. They didn’t even have $1 hot dog night anymore and PNC Park was still selling out. That obviously didn’t last forever though. The final game I went to was the August 5th one where they lost to the Padres by like 10 runs. During the 6th inning, we made the wave go around 20-ish times (the record for a professional sports game, probably) and people were cheering for it every time it was headed to their section. Yeah, people were cheering for the wave and not the team. And then at the end, people started chanting stuff about the Steelers. And in that moment, I realized we were back to Pirates games the way they’d always been my whole life and everyone had given up again. A CTF team in Pittsburgh would give people another thing to be joyful about and would lessen the baseball pain. In Pittsburgh, maybe we’re too serious about sports in general.

I see it more as dedication/love though. If it’s critical to our social/cultural experience and relationships with people (more on that later), then it makes sense that we’re serious about it. We should be serious about it because relationships are important. Two Steelers fans e-mailed me with criticism about the Jesus and the Steelers post. And despite the criticism, it made me smile because I love that people love the Steelers. I’m shocked that anyone ever reads this stuff though. The first person pointed out that the whole Ben rape case thing is water under the bridge at this point. And I most certainly agree. Most of that post was totally ridiculous/unserious. I mean, I kind of wrote a fake Bible verse. That’s straight up heresy. The second person said that I shouldn’t hate on Sepulveda for always being hurt. And first of all, I didn’t really hate. Maybe I sounded bitter but it wasn’t real hate. I’m just bummed because he’s the most badass punter in the NFL so it sucks that he can’t play… ever. In the 5 seasons he’s been a Steeler, he’s been hurt 3 times. I guess my opinion is that we should just get a new starting punter which sucks because, as I said, he’s awesome. Remember the fake punt pass versus the Titans? Badass. And when I was looking for a something on YouTube to prove the normal Christianity thing, I found a clip that was basically him signing autographs and the guy who’s taking the video says to his kid, “It’s Sepulveda, the punter. Look at the guns on the punter,” which is hilarious (I actually laughed out loud) and it also proves that I’m not the only one who thinks that Sepulveda is the most badass punter in the NFL. And that means that the Steelers are the best team in the NFL because even our punter is a superhero. Maybe I’m just a biased Steelers fan. I don’t actually know anything about punting. I’m pretty sure all Steelers fans think they’re experts about everything. Watch that Pittsburgh Dad episode again and think about any conversation you’ve ever had at work or a bar you’ll realize that it’s the truth. We care. A lot.

But seriously, you should have seen the Alabama fans leading up to the game on Monday and then afterwards. They’re at least equal with us. Apparently, they Roll Tide, Roll during Sweet Home Alabama. I was at the bar last night when I found this out (because they were all doing it) and immediately I wanted to be an Alabama fan so I could be a part of that. And I think that was the first twinge of “sports are important” because I started to think about it’s cultural significance and unification factor. I got kinda homesick again because it’s exactly like when Sweet Caroline comes on in a Pittsburgh bar and everyone yells “Let’s Go Pitt” and “Go Pitt” and such at the appropriate times. In those moments, no matter who you are or where you’re from or why you love Pitt, you’re all in that boat together. It’s kind of a spiritual experience. Like that same feeling people get from religion.

It’s the same way at actual games. It’s better at games, actually. Because not only are you all there in that one place together, but you all feel the same things. You all feel the disbelief when your QB throws an interception and you also all feel the tension when you need a TD to win and there’s like 20 seconds left. And then the explosive joy when they get that TD and you’re hugging the stranger next to you. Football (and sports in general) just brings people together. The best moments of my life were those in the Oakland Zoo during tight games when Pitt pulled it off. There really aren’t words to adequately describe that sheer happiness or universality you feel with everyone else that’s there with you. And college basketball is my #1 favorite sport to watch so of course it always felt super epic.

It’s heartbreaking when it’s bad though. One night, after one of Pitt’s more devastating March Madness losses, crazy things happened. People got drunk. Real drunk. It was serious drinking. NO ONE remembered what happened  the next day… other than the fact that we lost, obviously. Someone (NOT ME, for the record) got pregnant. Yeah, that drunk. Sad drunk. I never want to be that kind of drunk again. Your team consistently way underperforming during the tournament is not something that you ever get used to so I’ll probably be that kind of sad drunk again at some point. I also remember when Pitt was playing Cincinnati for the Big East football championship and they blew a HUGE lead. They were up by like more than 3 touchdowns. Here I am FREEZING MY ASS OFF with everyone else (because it was the first day it snowed that year and we were underprepared) and then they go and lose like that. Thanks, Pitt football. You suck. All the time. But at least we were all cold and sad together.

Sports are one of the few lifetime constants. It doesn’t matter which sport(s) you love or what your favorite team is. A lot of times, your fandom is given to you the day you’re born and you carry it with you until you die and it’s passed down over generations and generations of people. My grandfather has Alzheimer’s pretty badly and he’s really out of it a lot of times and often agitated by the fact that he can’t remember anything or live the way he used to, but when you turn on a PSU or Steelers football game, it’s like nothing is different.

My mom and dad used to sing a lullaby version of Fight On, State to us when they rocked us to sleep. I’m pretty sure both my siblings and I took my parents’ original Terrible Towel to school for show and tell at least a few times each which irritated all the Bills fans we grew up with. I also remember taking the Jaromir Jagr peanut butter. A few summers ago, Matt took me on a romantic afternoon/evening date that started with a picnic and ended with Steelers training camp. And even though I hate him now, it was one of the best days of my life. My mom talks about how she was pregnant with me during the 1987 Fiesta Bowl when Penn State won the national championship and jokingly says that she was probably depriving me of oxygen because she kept holding her breath. Sports are linked to stories and memories and landmarks in time.

Here’s proof that this stuff is indoctrinated at birth. I was born a Penn State fan and I will die that way too. Have you hugged your Nittany Lion today?

And the other thing that made Penn State football so special and damn important as a social/cultural/life influence was the fact that it was all about integrity and that’s probably why the whole scandal thing rocked my world because the integrity thing is now partially undermined. A huge amount of my values and work ethic were influenced by JoePa (the man is/was a legend) and the Penn State football program and now it kind of feels like all of that is forever tainted.

I’m keeping some of it though. Example:

 

Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.
– Joe Paterno

All his words that I lived by are a little bit tainted now. Things are a lot different in the aftermath. And it’s going to be weird to be a Penn State fan without JoePa as the coach but it’s still Penn State football and I will love it just as much as I always have.

I’m really optimistic about Coach O’Brien preserving the positive aspects of the JoePa legacy.

WE ARE PENN STATE.

We will forever be Penn State.

I think I’m finally out of things to say. But I’ll leave yinz with my favorite quote from the interview/article…

My thing was play as hard as you can, don’t be stupid, pay attention to details, and have enough guts in the clutch that you’re not afraid to make a play.

That’s some damn good advice for life in general and applies to basically every life scenario. Don’t be stupid. Pay attention to details. And have enough guts in the clutch that you’re not afraid to make a play.

Football isn’t exactly life… but they sure do have a lot of things in common.

And even though I’m 1,000 miles away from everyone, our teams make me feel close to them. Which is why I took the Steelers loss so badly this year, probably. At this point, as long as both the Ravens and the Pats lose, I’m happy. Also, someone fix the Pens. And Sidney Crosby 😦

2012 Lessons: Near Failure Can Feel Like Real Failure

2011 was a year of humbling experiences. 2012 is going to be exactly the same, I guess.

First life altering lesson of the year: DO NOT wait until the night before to study for a grad level pharmacology exam.

I’m pretty sure I almost died last night. The stress took a solid 50 years off my cardiovascular health. 24 hours ago, I was a healthy 24 year old with regular blood pressure and no genetic predisposition to hypertension. Now, I feel like I’m on the verge of an MI. Someone write me a script for a beta blocker. I’m gonna get the dizzies and experience exercise intolerance, but at least I’ll be alive.

It made me realize, once again, that I’m not bionic. I kept ignoring the fact that studying needed to be done at some point because in my head, I was like “Oh, science. I’m awesome at that. I’ll just memorize some stuff and make a few flashcards and be good to go.” Errmm… GOOD GOD, DO NOT EVER THINK THAT WAY ABOUT ANYTHING. Just assume that you suck at everything (without letting it affect your self-esteem, obviously). 50% of my pride/ego (that I didn’t even realize I had until now) got blown apart and destroyed forever because about 45 minutes into the studying, everything fell apart and it was all downhill from there. I’ve felt like the world has been spinning all day. It’s not just regular exhaustion. It’s like physical exhaustion combined with complete loss of brain function. Some neurons must have exploded. I still pulled off the A though because that’s just how I roll so even though the consequences weren’t terrible, I still learned that I can never do it again because it’s not something I want to relive in any capacity. And I have no idea how I got the A anyway because really, I shouldn’t have been able to. It’s weird that what feels like near failure can still be as life altering as real failure. I think it’s because the real failure like flashes before your eyes and you prepare for it to the point that even if you don’t fail, you hardly feel any relief because as far as you were concerned, the failure was undoubtedly pending and unavoidable. It’s like accepting your fate before you go into battle or something. I will admit that near failure is still way better than real failure, obviously. I’m not trying to say they’re exactly equal.

Life floors me. I think it’s good to be knocked off your feet sometimes. It’s how you mature. It’s like the world has to say “I can break you if I want to,” and make you realize that’s the truth and then get you can get your shit together. I feel more grounded now. I think maybe you subconsciously feel invincible when you’re younger so that you can feel more capable and therefore more stable but really, you feel more stable when you realize you’re not invincible because maybe all along you knew you were delusional about the invincibility but didn’t want to acknowledge it. That was a rambling sentence and I’m pretty sure the end of it contradicted the beginning. Sigh. Too tired to sort that one out right now. Just roll with it.

Also, my Alabama license came in the mail today. How can New Jersey be such a commonly used fake ID when Alabama’s license exists? I think if I tried to get into a Pittsburgh bar with this, they wouldn’t let me in. It’s so thin and low-tech looking. No offense to the state of Alabama or anything. I was just a little surprised.

I guess I’m also a little homesick which is outrageously difficult for me to admit because I’ve always seen it as kind of a weakness (like studying early and stretching before running, both of which have obviously recently proven to be very necessary). And it’s also such a new feeling because I’ve never been homesick before. Even in Chile. In fact, when I got back from Chile at the end of the summer, I’d been so un-homesick there that I actually had to deal with debilitating reverse culture shock that lasted for a couple months.

I just wanna watch a Pens game at Mario’s or Hough’s with everyone. Sigh. I watched the Uncle Gordy YouTube video like 10 times today. I’m taking back that thing I said yesterday about not settling down there. Of course I will. Who am I kidding? Those are my roots. And Pittsburgh people are welcoming in their own way. Not as overtly friendly. But still decent/open people.

Although, despite the twinge of homesickness, I’m still really really happy here and I realized that I think I’m lucky to love life as much as I do. Mary and I have that inherent happiness in common.

Speaking of Mary, I guess she’s working on her Christianity post which will be posted soon. I’m desperately waiting to read because she has a really interesting perspective about the whole thing. But just to be honest/upfront and not misleading, I personally will never be religious again as long as I live probably. I spent way too much time trying to believe in that stuff and it never felt right. I never felt that “thing” that religious people feel. Plus, I refuse to believe in a loving God when there’s shit like this that exists:

Anytime you want your world to be rocked, just look up all of Kevin Carter’s photography. There’s no way I can believe in Christianity’s version of God because if the central belief is that God is love and love comes from God and he cares about us a great deal and all of that, then it doesn’t make sense that things like starving toddlers exist because what loving entity let’s anyone suffer like that, especially a toddler? No Christian has ever had a good answer for me on this. They can only respond with, “We’re not supposed to know all the answers right now,”  or some bullshit like that. And I’m just way to heartbroken about reality to be a Christian. Being religious makes me more confused/upset/angry than I am naturally so life is just easier to live this way.

Anyway, the reason I’m interested in what Mary’s gonna write is because I’m all about promoting general tolerance/acceptance and religious/Christian sanity. As I mentioned before, so many Christians in America are out of control about stuff and totally missing the main points about life and love and grace and forgiveness and heaven and all of that. Even if I don’t believe it, I at least know that they’re way off base from what the beliefs are actually supposed to be.

I respect the hell out of my sister and wish more people would practice Christianity the way she does. And if Christians like her are the majority, then you people need to start stepping up with a counterattack to the super conservative hateful insane Christians that seem to be running the show and get that shit back on track. I love the idea of a religion that promotes love, which is what Christianity is supposed to do. So, that’s why she’s guest blogging.

I’m gonna see if my friend Ashley wants to post anything here on the subject because she has a really great/rational/interesting view of Christianity as well. You can get an idea of her perspectives on religion here. She’s Christian. She currently attends Union Theological Seminary. And she’s bisexual. I hope I just blew your backwards conservative mind and/or offended you.

Ashley and Mary practice a type of Christianity where love is the central and most important thing. And even if I’m not a Christian myself, I totally respect the way they live their lives and think they’re wonderful/beautiful/amazing and that more Christians and people in general should be like them.

I don’t think that most other Christians know what love is at all.

Jesus And The Steelers

That title could also be the title of a children’s book, I think. Where Jesus is the QB and and he leads the struggling Steelers to the biggest Superbowl victory of all time. It would obviously be an end times/Revalation-esque allegory because the world needs more of those.

(Side note: If some people think Revelation is an allegory about the end times, then all the allegories about Revelation are actually allegories about an allegory about the end times which is mind-blowing and nonsensical like those paintings within a painting. I’m reading Godel, Escher, Bach right now so everything in my brain ends up becoming an infinite loop somehow. Even when I play Trainyard Express in class, I end up making elaborate and literal infinite loops  in the track instead of meeting the objective of getting all the trains to to the station… Digression: complete.)

But if Tim Tebow is the second incarnation of Jesus, then that allegory/tale is actually reality instead of a bedtime story for kids. The only difference being that the book should technically be called Jesus and the Broncos which is way way way less awesome and totally offensive to me as a Steelers fan. It also means that this is the apocalypse. So, with those three things taken into account, I’m making the final decision right now. Tim Tebow is NOT Jesus. There. Now you have some peace of mind.

And I just got totally sidetracked. It’s because I grew up in the type of Christian family that goes to church every Sunday (and gets dressed up to the nines beforehand) and as a result, the religious stuff rears its ugly head sometimes everything becomes a Christian theology problem and/or allegory in my mind regardless of whether I believe in it or not anymore. I was clearly given way too many Christian allegories to read. The most notable ones probably being the children’s version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and also something about a lamb who went on a journey up a mountain then gets saved by Jesus in a cool mountain stream or something. There were also, of course, an assortment of Revelation ones. This probably makes my mom and dad seem like bad/crazy parents but they’ve actually calmed down a lot and now they’re normal Christians and neither of them have ever hated gay people. My mom’s even a Democrat now! And really, there are some real benefits from all of this that kind of make the scars/baggage seem less bad. For example, I kick ass at those Sporcle quizzes where you have to list things in different categories that start with a certain letter because I always get all the books of the Bible. I could also CRUSH almost every currently practicing Christian in Bible trivia which maybe seems less awesome to you but that’s probably because you’ve never actually watched a game of Bible trivia and have seen how hardcore people get about it.

Anyway, here’s what I was actually going to blog about today before I got sidetracked.

Maybe it’s because I’m subconsciously homesick or something but I’m still hardcore feeling the disbelief from Sunday’s game. Bleck. The fact that we got Tebow’ed is appalling to me. I’m kind of upset that Jesus apparently loves Tim Tebow more than he loves the Steelers.

What gives, Jesus? We have Polamalu (CBN should NOT exist because all the people on that channel are evangelical CRAZIES) and Sepulveda. Both publicly Christians. Both way less obnoxious than Tim Tebow. Essentially, it’s 2 normal Christians who make Christians seem cool vs. 1 ridiculous Christian who makes Christians seem like insane people. The only difference is that Tebow gets way more attention for his Christianity but that’s only because he’s OUTRAGEOUS about it. I’m pretty sure Jesus is a rational guy and so I’m confused because the fact that he was like “Hmm, 2 people who make me look awesome vs. 1 person who makes me seem totally uncool… I wanna be uncool. Let’s go with Tebow,” is an irrational choice. I guess he didn’t get the final approval from God on that one.

Maybe you’re saying, “Well, Jesus is a rebel and he was uncool his whole life. So uncool, in fact, that the Pharisees hung him on a cross. So, it WAS a rational decision to be uncool because that’s just what he does and how he is.” My response to this that, first of all, it’s not 25 AD anymore. We just rang in 2012. Things change. It’s been almost 2000 years. Maybe the guy devised a new strategy that’s more appropriate to the social/cultural changes. Second of all (and semi-relatedly), Jesus wasn’t really uncool. He was “uncool” back then because he wanted people to follow him. He was uncool because he helped the poor and the sick and the prostitutes and basically all the normal people too so then they were all like “Oh, this guy cares about me?!?! God is awesome. Everyone should love God,” and they spread the word and a ton of people jumped on the bandwagon and got into heaven instead of burning in hell. He was uncool so he could achieve his objective goals and save more people. Jesus was only uncool in the “high school uncool” way if you’re insisting that we make comparisons between then and now. What I mean by this is that, as we all know, a really small number of kids in any given high school population decides that the vast majority of the student body are the uncool kids and should be treated as such because the small group of cool kids wield some kind of unexplained power related to socioeconomic status which they didn’t earn but still feel entitled to exert. The Pharisees were the minority at the top of the hierarchy. Jesus was occupying Wall Street and they were the asshole 1%.

With this situation, we’re talking about the real values/definitions of cool and uncool. Tim Tebow is DEFINITELY undermining Jesus’ cause of getting people to heaven so supporting Tebow is supporting people going to hell. I’m sure that tons of rational folks (a.k.a the majority, a.k.a the real cool people) are rejecting heaven because they think it’s gonna be full of Tim Tebow-like people and NO ONE wants to put up with that for all eternity. Rationally, Jesus should want to appeal to the normal people because they’re the majority and Polamalu/Sepulveda appeal to the normal people more than Tebow so Jesus should want them to succeed at life instead, thereby rationally/objectively, he should have wanted the Steelers to win.

Another possible point of contention you have could be based on my 2 vs. 1 ratio analysis. Maybe you’re saying it’s not actually quantitatively valid because:

1 strong safety + 1 punter < 1 QB

in terms of importance/influence/awesomeness/etc.

And my responses to THAT flawed supposition are these:
1) Troy Polamalu is a defensive beast and is at least equally as awesome (if not more awesome, in many cases) than every single QB in the NFL. If you think he should be valued less than Tim Tebow, you’ve clearly never seen him COME OUT OF NOWHERE to destroy a guy or make some kind of miraculous interception.
2) Proof of how awesome/important punters can be: the fake punt situation against the Titans this year. Pretty sure everyone at the bar fell off their stools. It was a game changer.

Another side note of interest: I tried to find more proof of Christian Steelers so my argument would be stronger but I’m pretty sure you can’t actually petition Jesus for justice so it doesn’t matter anyway. I did find this blog during my Google search though. And I’m hella confused by it and partially bemused. Immediately, I went in search of the explanation. This was the best I could do… Scroll down to the 9/12/05 post. Yep, still confused/bemused. I don’t know what makes Christian Steelers fans any different from regular Steelers fans but apparently there is a distinction according to those people. Maybe? I actually don’t know what their point is. I looked up Revlation 1:18 because I was curious and in search of their truth and I was really hoping it was gonna say:

And God declared that the Pittsburgh Steelers would be his favorite team and all who worshiped him and cheered for the Steelers would ascend into heaven before everyone else so they could be the first to claim the extra big mansions and therefore receive the most eternal treasure they’d been working toward their whole earthly lives.

…because then that blog might make sense. But what it actually says is:

I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

And I’m maybe even more confused about the blog after looking that up.

Here’s a semi-related thing that also blows my mind. Real Facebook status  of someone I know:

oh… my… goodness… well, on the bright side, maybe the Broncos will win the super bowl and show the whole country that prayer really does work? and that God really does exist?? and remember that Jesus is truly a Steelers Fan and He just wants Ben to rest his ankle so he can play better next year!! Romans 8:28, it’s all for the good of God’s perfect plan!!

The thing that truly kills me is the part about Ben and his ankle. I think I laughed for a good 45 seconds. It gets better too. Someone else commented back with this:

although God may be a steeler fan (lol), i think this is all in the best interest of HIS name–tebow (although i hate to admit it and am SO depressed right now) is such an advocate of Christianity, and such a role model–more people are interested in God right now because of tebow–and i’ll bet more people have looked up John 3:16 today that have never touched a bible! I think it was all in God’s plan, football is important, but he is using tebow talents to spread the word! (ouch, that hurt coming out-still wish we would have won!)

There is just way too much insanity in all of that for me to handle and/or briefly analyze right now.

I basically maintain that, like the people responsible for those Facebook statements, Tim Tebow is a religious crazy who makes Christianity look bad to normal people. Polamalu and Sepulveda probably seem like cool guys who just happen to love Jesus a lot and therefore are better champions for the Christianity cause and therefore the Steelers should have won instead of Tim Tebow.

So, none of this makes sense. Unless there are other public Christians on the Broncos and I just couldn’t find them in my Christian Broncos Google search because they’re overshadowed by the Tebow hype. Or unless you take into account the fact that:
1) Sepulveda actually barely plays for the Steelers because he gets placed on IR every year so it’s more of a 1 vs. 1 scenario instead of a 2 vs. 1 scenario and so maybe a collection of some unknown/negligible circumstances just barely allowed the Broncos to become Jesus’ pick
2) Ben probably raped a girl and, as Cory so eloquently put it,

Today, the Broncos proved that Jesus hates rape.

Maybe Cory’s right. So that would mean that my argument is totally off base because it misses the point. In the scientific method, if your hypothesis doesn’t end up making sense and/or there’s no real evidence for it and/or it doesn’t meet certain logical guidelines, then you have to throw it out and start over with another hypothesis.

Cory’s seems to be logically consistent with the facts so I’m adopting it as my next hypothesis. I just wasted a good 10 minutes of time and a non-quantifiable amount of thought process energy on that first theory. It’s a humbling experience to know that you were wrong and someone else was right all along. I’m not very accustomed to that feeling because it rarely happens (just kidding, guys).

Final conclusion in brief summary form:
Jesus hates rape and that’s why the Steelers lost. Tim Tebow has nothing to do with it and Jesus hates his super-inflated religious ego just as much as sane people like us hate it. But rape is the only thing that Jesus hates more than that super-inflated religious ego, so the outcome was based on a “lesser of two evils” scenario.

Now my mind is at rest. The answers have been found. I can resume my studies and concentrate on memorizing meds for the Pharmacology exam on Thursday. And I can’t wait ’til next season when the Steelers will rise like a phoenix and annihilate everyone.