Sunday, August 22, 2010

Growing Up

This year seems to be a year of great changes. Of course, I'm living in Nigeria for 5 months which is a huge change, but besides that obvious yet temporary change, lots of other things have changed at home as well.
  • Though it was really last year my baby sister has really and truly moved away from home. When you are in your undergraduate years you may go away to college but home is really still where your parents are. Hilary went off to vet school which is a 4-5 year commitment and now she is living on her own in her own house with bills and roommates and responsibilities. I've tried to make a conscious effort to not refer to Indiana as home (as in, "Hey Hil when are you coming home?" meaning Indiana) but it's still hard and I slip up. I know my dad is still in denial that she may be living in Michigan for a very long time, so part of my effort is to get him used to the idea that Hilary's home is now Michigan and we just have to be happy when she comes for a visit in her former home.
  • My mom moved away to California. Of course that is a huge change, but I realized right before she left that this was the first time that she was moving away from us and it coincided with the fact that I was leaving for Nigeria and it was just a weird feeling. No matter how many times I've left and gone places (Pennsylvania, China, etc.) she's always been there when I got home. But not this time. This time I'll go home and she won't be there! It will be fine as we'll be in just as much contact through lovely technology, but it was just a really weird thing to think about for the first time in my life!
  • As I am in my last year of school I am looking for jobs for next year. When you have a PhD you are in a unique position of getting very good jobs, but having little choice as to where those jobs will be. Faculty positions are not something that just open up wherever and whenever. If you are lucky you'll get a job somewhere desirable and nice, but you really don't have much of a choice. I have my priority areas I'd like to live, but only time will tell if I will get a job in an area in my top picks or if I'll be somewhere that I am not all that thrilled about. The one thing I know is that it is very unlikely I will be staying in Indiana, which of course brings a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am not that fond of Indiana...mostly because it's way too conservative and the weather sucks. However, the majority of my immediate family lives here as well as most of my dad's side of the family. In addition, all of Ange's family lives here. The thought of not hanging out with my family, particularly my sisters, is almost devastating. The main reason I would stay in Indiana if given a chance is to be close to my family. However, the likelihood of my getting a job here is very small. It is very rare for a university to hire a recent graduate, so my chances at IU are almost nil. Most of the other universities around do not have public health programs so getting a job at any of those is unlikely. The only small hope I have is IUPUI which would be ok. Both IU and IUPUI are moving from Departments of Public Health to Schools of Public Health which means a large increase in faculty. If either school advertises for faculty I will of course apply, but hiring a recent graduate (this next year for IU, and 2006 for IUPUI) is not a usual practice. I know that if I get a job anywhere outside of Indiana it's going to be a HUGE change. I'm trying to prepare myself mentally for it, because I know it will be hard. Besides Indiana, my other big priority is California. That way I would be at least close to my mom's side of the family, and hopefully my mother as well. We'll just see what the future holds!
  • Those less dramatic than the above, another big change is the fact that our dogs are getting older. In the past year the dogs have had more health issues than ever before and it is a reminder that we are going to have some tough years ahead of us. Of course Duke and Stone are older and that is not surprise, but seeing mortality right around the corner is hard. They are both older than the average lifespan of German Shepard's, and they've both had some big health challenges in the past year. I cherish every day I have with them but know that time is ticking down. That's one of the hardest parts about being away from home right now. I think about those two constantly. That's not to say I am not thinking about the others as well. I tend to think of Daisy and Caramel as puppies still, but the reality is, they are becoming old ladies themselves. Daisy, crazy beast that she is, has been showing definite signs of wear and tear. She used to be able to hurl herself head first into a fence and bounce right off. In the past year she's hurt herself to the point that she's been in pain and moving stiffly. 8 years old is no spring chicken anymore, and I think both she and I are having trouble adjusting to that. Carmie still acts like a total baby, but of course her epilepsy is always a big concern in the back of my head. Not that it means she's old, but she is only a year or so behind Daisy so I'm on the lookout for signs of her showing her age as well. The only young one in the bunch is Sam, but being that he is the only pure breed in the house, and a pretty dainty breed at that, his life expectancy is less to begin with. Added to the fact that he's a big fat dump truck, I'm of course concerned with his health as well. Every time I've had a pet die I think "No more pets!" But of course I never follow through. I love animals too much. It's just so unfair that their lives are so much shorter than ours. Well, except maybe a tortoise, but who wants to snuggle a tortoise?
Of course many of these things have elements of sadness in them and there are many happy changes to think about (new job! new house! babies!) but happy things don't usually bring apprehension and don't usually involve much pondering. We'll just see what life has in store for me (& us!) in the next few years.