Tag Archives: life

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The thing with grieving

My first time experiencing losing a loved one, I was around 13. I had just gotten back from a 4 week first time vacation in Vietnam. There, I met my extended family. Some of my grandpa’s siblings and their families still live there and so does my dad’s family. It was my first time meeting my paternal grandparents and during the visit, I learned to know my cousins and even my mom’s cousins. One in particular, my (maternal) grandpa’s nephew, I got very close to. My siblings and I would nag my parents every day to take us see him because he’d take us on stupid adventures and make us laugh. We loved every single moment. However, not long after we got back to Sweden, we learned that he passed away due to an overdose. Suicide apparently. It broke all our hearts but that was my first.

My second visit to Vietnam was during my first year of high school. It wasn’t a fun trip. We went for the funeral of my paternal grandpa. He was a quiet man but according to my mom, he was a wise one. There’s something about losing a parent that changes people. I saw so many changes in my dad after that, most of them not for the better. To this day, I still say that my paternal grandparents would roll over in their graves should they see how my dad behaves nowadays. It may be rude, but it’s the truth.

However difficult the past was, the one that hit me hardest was the passing of my maternal grandma back in 2013. I remember that night as clear as if it happened yesterday. I had such difficulty going back to normal and it took me years to recover. Right up to my uncle’s passing last December, I thought I was doing well. That is, until I saw my grandma’s gravestone for the first time and how there was a reserved space next to it.  That broke me and I literally had to remove myself away from it. I was staring into blank space in my car for a little while before I could actually bother to start it and drive away. Grieving my grandmother was, and to some extent still is, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Time has definitely made it better but some things don’t go away entirely and I firmly believe that the ones that pass on are never really gone for as long as the living can remember them.

Then Annie passed away this February. There’s still so many feelings to process. Some days are way worse than others but most days, I find little things to smile for. Bet she would’ve wanted that. I did write an eulogy to her but I’ll wait before I make it public for everyone.

I thought it was terrible to grieve one person and it took me a while to realize that now, I’m grieving two (my uncle and Annie). Some days that really gets to me. I have to remember, though, that I have great friends that pick me up when I fall. And I’ll lean on you guys on the days where everything is overwhelming. I hope you know that you can lean on me when you need it, too.

Making matters a bit worse, my aunt Iris is worrying me. She was hospitalized last week and they found something wrong with her gallbladder. It had formed gallstones so she’s recovering from that. Beside that, doctors also found something worrisome with her uterus and ovaries. I really hope it’s not cancer, as that kind runs in our family. I’ll do my best to accompany her to her doctor’s appointments. Her Swedish is functional but when it comes to medical terms, it’s difficult so I interpret for her. Time will tell what is really going on in her body and I can only hope for the best while providing support in an already difficult time.

I’m glad this is isn’t my first time experiencing the overwhelming amount of emotional stress but I do wish that there was a button somewhere you could push so that you could regulate how much of it comes at you at once. Wishful thinking, most definitely, but it gives me hope that I can pull this through. And I will.

//c_Cae; soon my cough is gone entirely and I can sing again

Life and the flu

About 8 days ago, I woke up in fever, cough and I had no voice. At that moment, I thought to myself I couldn’t be that bad and like many colds, it would just pass after a few days. Little did I know that I’d be bedridden for 3 days, and 8 days after I lost my voice would still not be able to talk without a coughing fit as followup.

It’s what I’ve been doing the past week. Just laying either in bed or on the couch, with short moments by the computer. Getting tea is exhausting, not to mention I probably got minion sick as well. Kids are remarkable. First, she was knocked out cold when her fever hit. I gave her an aspirin and BAM, she’s up and running. I felt miserable when my fever hit and while I could at least follow a conversation, I was not feeling much better with aspirin.

I still cannot speak properly. Sometimes the thought of being able to triggers a coughing fit. I wish it to be over because I’m a little tired of communicating through text messages even at home. Most of all, I’m tired of my parents insisting to call me (instead of texting me), just to tell me I’m dying and I can’t leave minion behind. Hey, I got the flu. I’m in my finest years of my life. I’m not dying. It’s gonna take a lot more, although I understand their worry.

It just gets to me when they think I’m dying, provided recent events. I know I posted a password-protected post a little over a week ago. I’m not ready to make it public. Just know I lost a dear family member and because the protected post involves my brother’s feelings too, I do not want to make it public. A part of me wants to shield him from all this hurt but I can’t. Life will toss them his way all the time and he as to learn, regardless of my intentions of protecting him. Life will have its way and it will continue no matter whose story ends abruptly. I need to get better soon so I can see him and maybe cheer him up just a little bit. There’s so much I want to tell him in person. He’s stubborn and tells me he doesn’t need a hug. Lucky for him, I’m more stubborn so he can’t win this. This sister is gonna have her way and give her brother a hug. End of story :P

//c_Cae, at times, I even wanna buy him a puppy

My 2017

I meant to post a year summary a few days ago but never got the time around to do so. In many ways, 2017 was a roller coaster, not just for me but for many I know. Despite that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find it in me to say that 2017 was a horrible year.

The first few months of 2017 was stressful and full of struggle. My thesis kept crashing and my data vanished several times. It was infuriating as much as it was frustrating. At some point, I had to re-do all calculations and it felt as if I could never finish. Hard work pays off, though, and I eventually made it to the finish line on May 18th. I defended it well, although in retrospect I could have done a way better job. It’s okay because I passed and I got to share it with friends. That was amazing. Right before I defended my thesis, I applied for a dream PhD position. A project that I had been longing to do since my second year at university. At that point, I wanted the project subject to be my Bachelor’s project. However, the world order wanted something else for me and I ended up doing a pilot study instead back then. I struggled a bit to write the application but my spirits were always lifted by colleagues and top notch recommendation letters. Despite my efforts, I was turned down for the position and it made me incredibly sad. I would have been perfectly fine if I had lost the position in any other way, but I was told my English was insufficient and I even had half the department backing me for the position. Not to mention my 2 really well written letters of recommendation from renowned scientists in the field. The rejection hit even harder when I learned that my biggest competitor withdrew his application for another job. It took me several months to recover from this and it still makes me a little angry when I think about it.

To make matters a bit worse, one of my biggest idols, Chester Bennington, committed suicide in mid July. It was horrible because he was part of a band whose music had helped me through the difficult stages that teenage me went through. In the midst of all this emotional turmoil, my uncle’s cancer came back and the entire family went crazy worried. At the same time, my parents struggled to get along after their vacation in Vietnam.

A great, but unanticipated thing happened in July, though. My stream took off and I made it into the affiliate program! I make money off of my stream now. It’s not a lot but it’s something!

Fall came and Zoe started at the new daycare. We saw an incredible character development in her and she was constantly praised for her English. Some even thought we had been living abroad. It was a delight to see how well she adapted to the new environment despite some conflicts with another child. Children will fight and we kept comforting her and teaching her how to deal with such conflicts.

Around this time, my parents’ conflict only grew larger to the point where I feared for my mother’s and brother’s safety. Eventually, they filed for divorce and while I am aware that divorces can be nasty, I’ve never seen someone give up so quickly just to completely make a U-turn and blame it all on the other side. I saw some true colors during the process and I still feel dreadful each time my dad calls me.

Zoe then turned 5 in November and I was struck by reality that she’s starting pre-school this coming August. Yeah, soon we’ll sit there with her homework. I’m not nervous at all. I really want to inspire her to be better and to know that school is an important part of life. I’m even looking forward to her teenage years because I still remember what it was like to be one and the struggles that come with it are so difficult to handle. I want to teach her that her mom will always be there for her even when she’ll claim to hate my guts. If there’s something I want to teach her, it’s that no matter what happens, as long as she confides in an adult she can trust, I’m sure she will be fine. If that person happens to be her mom, even better because I never had that and I want her to have it.

My parents’ divorce became more of a mess when my dad refused to move out and once he did, he kept coming back. We’re still struggling to have mom at least change the locks to prevent him from coming into the apartment. All he does is either sleep on the couch or yell when Zoe isn’t there. What’s the point of parting ways if you refuse to spend time apart from each other? I hope they both realize that soon. To make family matters worse, my uncle passed away Dec 23rd and the family has been pretty much a worse version of the emotional mess that they are. Conflicts are happening as no one seems to want to respect my uncle’s last wishes and no one seems to support my aunt in matters of the funeral. At least it’s going to happen on Jan 5th but the conflicts make me worry  about what will become of the relationship between my aunt and the rest of the family. My aunt always speaks her mind and it’s not very appreciated. At least I made it clear she will always remain family to me. She is my cousin’s mom, after all.

So to sum it up, despite all the dramatic things happening in 2017, I still can’t find it in me to say it was a horrible year. In many senses it was, but in just as many senses, it wasn’t. I have learned that this is what life is like and we are not here to hate the journey that is our lives, we’re here to learn things so we can pass them on to future generations. Let it be friends, family or just strangers from the streets – we’re here to share. To this end, I have nothing more to say other than love for the incredible amount of appreciation that I have been so fortunate to receive. What I wish for 2018 is that there will be even more appreciation, humility, kindness and joy in this world. We do live in the most peaceful times since the beginning of human history, let’s make the most of it!

//c_Cae; appreciation is our greatest need, make sure you show it

May 18th – the day I became a marine biologist

Guys, I did it. I finally did it. I made 8 year old me proud and happy beyond measure. On May 18th, I successfully defended my thesis and am now a marine biologist.

I have never been so nervous in my life as I was the night before the presentation. I tried to rehearse but that failed miserably. The presentation itself went great, despite me blanking out on several questions my opponent had. That probably nerfed my grade, to be honest. I couldn’t sleep that night, and I even dreamt that I failed it because I couldn’t speak. That probably contributed to the half-assed presentation I did. I’m sure I can pull it off in a better manner today but what is done is done, right?

Yesterday, I spent the day alone. Zoe was at daycare and I couldn’t sit around and do nothing, which resulted in me taking busses around town to play Pokemon Go. Once I got home again, chores awaited and in between those, I experienced a turmoil of feelings. I was happy beyond measure, but I also felt empty and insecure. I know it’s expected. I’ve worked so hard for so long, I barely know what it’s like to fully relax. I honestly cannot remember when last I actually relaxed and didn’t worry about anything. Yesterday was a first. I still feel confused. I didn’t have a plan for life after university because the plan I had up until attending uni was all shot to hell. Why? Because life happens and you can’t ever plan everything.

I’m sure I wouldn’t been able to pull any of this off without the immense support I’ve received from almost everyone I know. You guys have been cheering me on since day 1 and no matter how long I’ve known you, you’ve always come through to pat me on my back, telling me I got this to get me back up on my feet. You’ve truly been the lights in my world and I really couldn’t have done it without you.

Right now, I’m constantly moving between sheer happiness and utter emptiness. Come Monday, and I’ll gotta do some things to get me moving toward a job. In between those tasks, I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll read a few books. Maybe I’ll catch up on my never-ending list of documentaries I want to watch. Maybe I’ll just go to the sea side and dream away. Or maybe I’ll catch up on all my series and anime or play all the games I’ve been meaning to play. It’s just weird to have so much time on my hands when I’ve always only been having 2-3h every week. It feels weird to me to start playing a game or watch a show. Those have always been an award to me. If I finish this task, I can watch one episode of X. That has always been my system. Do this and get this. Finish that and buy this. Now I don’t have a real thing to be my number one priority.

I think I’ll just have to go see the ocean. Then I’ll be fine again.

//c_Cae; finally did it. now what? 

Rejoice

The deadline for the PhD application was on April 16, which resulted in me working over Easter desperately trying to finish it. It ended up pretty good, if I may say so myself. The only problem now is out of my hands, and I can only hope that my application stands out enough to call for an interview among the 40 other applicants. Other than being nervous, I also managed to finish my thesis.

I sent it in twice for revision and now the final version is in my hands. I only need to check for some minor errors and find typos. After than I’m ready to write a presentation manuscript and defend it. It’ll be fun, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Knowing that I have so many people that support me is very comforting. I’m not gonna lie, I am nervous but being a little nervous is good. It feels amazing and very unrealistic at the same time. Once my defence is over and I pass, I will have made my childhood dream come true and I’ll finally be a marine biologist.

I remember when I first started this blog and it was all about being a bartender before I realised I need to head back to uni and finish what I started. I also remember the picture shown to me when I was 8 and I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to be an archeologist and head for the deep blue instead. For the longest time as a child, I thought the words marine biologist was just a made up thing. I had just put together two words that made sense to me: marine because of the ocean and biologist because of all the life around us. Countless of times was I met with the question Is that even a thing? Of course it is! Look at me now. I’m very happy, although the thought of not knowing what I’ll do the coming years is frightening.

Most of all, I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed an education with 0 in debt. Zero. Nil. Nada. My degree is the manifestation of hard work in its purest form. Yes, I have put many things aside to achieve this but it is worth it. I’m also very proud of the fact that I managed to do something that I’d never thought I’d be able to pull off. My thesis is strictly theoretical and it’s packed with statistics. I’m still afraid of statistics but I now have a fundamental understanding to it and I know why it’s important. It scared the living being out of me when I took it but I am really glad I did it. It put me through so much agony, pain and frustration but it paid me back in knowledge and resilience. I’m really impressed with myself, not only to the fact that I managed to pull this thesis off, but also because I took the courage and challenged myself and walked out of it alive. So whatever the future has coming my way, I am not afraid.

//c_Cae; challenge accepted and achievement unlocked: marine biologist one month from now! 

Recap

It feels like a million things have happened since I last posted. While not literally a million things have happened, but many have. I’ll try not to be too long about it, but I still want to keep you readers in the loop despite not being able to update here as much as I’d like to.

Being one of the most difficult decisions in my life, we ultimately decided to let Serah go. Zoe kept locking herself in her room, crying whenever Serah as much as looked at her when we ate, and repeatedly telling us how scared she was of Serah. Serah, being the pup she is, just looked curiously at Zoe, wondering why this little human was acting the way she does. I can understand Zoe. It is scary to have a dog that’s almost double your own size and is still growing. It pained (and still does) me a lot to see Serah go, but I’m also a mother that want my child to feel safe at home. I still miss Serah every day. I get a striking pain in my chest whenever I think of her. Of course, my frustration is back because there’s nothing to fill in for Serah. We’ll get a dog, a smaller one for sure, but we don’t know when. Until then I have to cope. Besides, Zoe is back to her old self, only she keeps naming anything dog-related Haylee.

My thesis is taking up a lot of time, as usual. I had another round of corrupted data and so I had to do it all over from what I could salvage from October last year. It took me a week, but it’s all back and even improved. I’ve been writing like my life literally depended on it. I came to realise that I still love doing this even though the curveballs have been abundant and lately, they’ve been harder to handle too. In the meantime of writing my thesis, I have also come to terms with a few things. I started applying for jobs outside my field because no PhD opportunities were coming up and everyone I talked to seemed to be more keen on getting new post-docs instead. It had me thinking, that if nothing shows up (it really didn’t feel like it), I might as well look for a 9-5 job outside my expertise and do the marine bio stuff on my spare time. If I can’t do what I love, find something that pays enough for me to do it, I kept telling myself. It is better to secure each month’s pay check than to worry about it. At some point, I thought I had convinced myself that a life outside academia is what was better, at least for the time being.

Or at least that’s what it was like until I dropped in at the unit on Wednesday. That’s when I heard about the new PhD postings. One of them, I am very interested in. I have no idea how successful I will be if I applied, but I am applying. It’ll always be a missed shot if I don’t take it and let’s face it, no one likes 100% failure. There are so many things I’m insecure about. I have no doubt my work ethics or my workaholic tendencies are top notch. What I doubt about is that my thesis has been incredibly dragged out. I still don’t feel much smarter about statistics, nor am I anywhere near confident of what I have produced so far. I’ve tried to explain to my supervisor why I feel like this, but there seem to be little to zero room for listening. It’s all about achievements. I hate that I let my emotional state from my private life affect my professional life. I try my best to keep the two separated, but each time the word cancer pops up I just feel petrified (I’m okay, it’s a family member, though). Some friends tell me I’m a very private person, yet I blog and I live stream when playing games. I still doubt about my own abilities. I sometimes even feel that there is so much doubt, I’m hindering myself from growth. It doesn’t help that several colleagues encourage me and tells me, in these words Not every master’s student is like you, you know? PhD material. I don’t know. If I was that kind of material, why have my thesis taken so long?

I can’t blame it on my eye condition, and I can’t blame it on working so much last year. Just those two, took away at least 12 months of time. Each time I have my eye examined, I’m thrown off work for at least three days if nothing goes wrong. I can’t blame it on these two things. Work I chose to keep because I needed the money and I needed to get away from the computer every now and then. My eye condition is genetic. They’re just explanations.

This has never resonated with me the way it does right now.

//c_Cae; full of doubts :(