2016: A Monthly Journal

January: Schoolwork demands my attention again as I cut back in my work hours at church. My three-hundred-level anthropology and English literature courses aren't nearly as demanding as my four-hundred-level biotechnology class was in fall quarter, but I'm also giving myself much more grace when it comes to my homework (read: procrastination is back, y'all). Integral calculus, on the other hand, doesn't let up in workload. I'm ill over Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend while I agonize over integration by parts and the “bag of tricks” that integration is.

February: The math club is unofficially formed at CGCC, and I (unofficially) step into my role as its vice president. I come up with an idea for a T-shirt for the math club, spend a grand total of about six hours finding the area of a tetrahedron with integration and law of sines and pretty much all the other math I have ever learned, and attend an art show in Hood River, hanging out in turns with a couple of my fellow calculus students. I struggle emotionally with myself and take up practicing yoga. I'm sick over Leap Day weekend, and on Leap Day the math club president and I host our first tutoring session with students from The Dalles High School.

March: The days get longer and warmer, the grass in Sorosis Park is lush and green, and the air is definitively springlike. Birds are cheeping in the trees as I take leisurely walks in the park. I finish my final project for Math 252, turn in my third test after having researched the differential equations in a flying frisbee, and eventually turn in my finals for all three of my classes. I begin spring break by spending some time in Hood River's bookshops, applying for admission to Washington State University and Central Washington University (since the dream of attending Oregon State in person had to die--or at least sleep for a while), watching Netflix, and helping at my church's youth lunch.

April: Spring quarter swings into my life with all the grace of a sledgehammer. Midnight is the earliest I ever crawl into bed with at least one deadline (and usually more) each night from four classes and fifteen credits. I ace my infinite series test, Dr. Toda signs the papers to approve the existence of Columbia Gorge Mathematical Society, and we start tutoring the AP calculus students from The Dalles High School. We celebrate Math Awareness Month by hosting two cookie tables and finalizing flyers for our club. I get accepted to Central and, through the hand of God, am actually excited about it.
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June: The end has come of another year of college, and I'm done with my first year of calculus. I turn in my keys from my vice-presidential duties and say goodbye to my calculus classmates with a math club party. There are many tears shed over attachments made and losing people, and the news of more change is yet more difficult. I take on more hours at church by day, nanny by night, and watch two of my dearest friends graduate, with such poise and grace, from high school.
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July: The searing loss of a dear friend's husband shatters our hearts as soon as June ends. The very next day another friend celebrates a wedding. Memorial services for pillar members of my church are sprinkled across the month as I take on even more work with my church's custodian job, work fourteen-hour days, and acquire an illness made from fatigue, emotional sickness, and crappy eating habits. I start the process of apartment hunting in Ellensburg. I attempt to become more mindful, begin working out to Dollar Workout Club, and, at the end of the month, have a restful five days at the old Lakehouse.

August: The month begins badly with our water system shutting down, having to take showers and brush teeth at work, and coming to a climax in grief -- a climax which mercifully induces healing afterward. My substitute custodial job ends and I am back with a few hours more rest each day. Me and three of my best friends have an afternoon party at my house to celebrate/commemorate our imminent parting in September. Our youth group leaders take the four of us for a splendid night with lots of food and riverfront walking in Hood River. We find a Godsend of an apartment in Ellensburg and I finalize registration and talk with my prospective advisor about moving into the math major at Central.

September: So . Much . Change . and . So . Much . Heartache ., and yet somehow healing begins. I learn how to stand on my own two feet as I numbly take responsibility for my new one-bedroom apartment two blocks off the Central Washington University campus in Ellensburg. I grieve the necessary loss of friendships and old lifestyles, but manage to settle into my new math classes with some grace. I begin work as a writing tutor, meet about a hundred new people in my first week at school, and then quietly celebrate my twentieth birthday with my family at my new apartment.
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October: Every time I think I have some semblance of control, something happens to reassure me that I don't. I realize I can't fly by in linear algebra after all like I would have in any other class. I sign the papers to become a “real” math major, I work late hours, I talk to a few more people, and I slowly build friendships in and out of church. Life in Ellensburg feels a little more normal. My best friend Bex comes to visit for a few days near the end of the month and we talk and hang out and act silly.

November: The month that flies. I return home for the first time in eight weeks and face a torrent of emotions I never expected. I face the anxiety of my second test in linear algebra, am justly excited when I learned that I aced it, go on a hike in Leavenworth with some of my new church family, help at a math outreach event in Thorp, help at a math outreach event on campus, attend Geoffrey Burleson's piano concert at Central, and slowly get to know my coworkers more. I get a haircut, have a good few days back home during Thanksgiving seeing family, then go back to face only two more weeks of linear algebra before I'm done.
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December: A beautiful month adorned with Christmas lights and the quietude of softly falling snow. My apartment is a mess because studying > cleaning. I give my presentation on Fibonacci numbers in Math 299S, take my Math 260 final, and perform excellently in both. Yikes, it's cold outside! I prepare with much fear and many tears for my linear algebra final and have to come to terms with the fact that my GPA will not always be a 4.0. I learn after I come home that I got an A- in linear algebra and I want to jump up and down, I am so happy. The first few days at home are a difficult adjustment, but as the month goes by, as we celebrate Christmas and the entire family is together, I settle so firmly back in that I don't want to leave on the first day of 2017. I get together with my girls, message and call and email back and forth with my dear Bex about her impending wedding, and organize stuff for application for REUs and scholarships. I see Rogue One with cousins and slide on ice in the car (scary). And then suddenly . . . it's goodbye to 2016, a busy year, a hard year, a horrible year, a wonderful year.