The Raider Diaries: Raider Goes to College

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12 years and 84 dog years later, Raider is finally branching out into the world. And surprisingly enough, after spending his whole life in the backyard, he’s good at it.

My decision to bring Raider to Huntsville was not made lightly. I wasn’t sure I could do it, or if I should. My weeks leading up to the move were filled with excitement and little sleep. I agonized over the details of owning a dog in an apartment with my free time. Even with all of the details perfectly ironed out and the support of my loving boyfriend pictured above (the one without fur), when my parents returned from our Easter rendezvous without him, I began to panic. Raider was finally my responsibility.

Two days in, and I don’t regret a thing. He adapted better than we could ever hope to my college life. He got a nice bath, lots of brushing, and so much love from his new family. As worn out as he was, his first night was a little disappointing. He was still too hyper to settle down while everyone slept, and when 7:30 am rolled around, he made his boredom known to the world. My Monday, which is normally the longest and most exhausting, started much earlier than I had anticipated. There was much grumbling and pushing of butts to get him taken care of and myself out the door. Since then, he’s become an important part of my life. I practically take him everywhere! (With the help of Jared of course.)

Raider’s move has allowed for a huge rise in mental stimulation. He gets to go to so many different places around my apartment and town. He often visits Jared’s house and enjoys frequent car rides as we run errands. No, we don’t leave him in the car unattended. Tonight, he walked around Petco with us as I scoped out good dog food brands (recommendations totally welcome) and tried to find a toy that he will actually like. To my dismay, he doesn’t seem to be a toy loving dog. This, I found out after spending $11 on a Kong toy, only to have him eat the peanut butter out of it then walk away. Never the less, we enjoy bringing him with us through out our day and will begin to show him around campus as things settle down.

A few things I’ve noticed about my new status as dog mom: where as I was always the chauffeur by choice among my friends, I now keep my back seats down for Raider to lay on. My room has been completely de-classified to support his new kennel (which he elects not to use, to my extreme irritation. This shall be fixed shortly, I assure you.) I have taken apart my apartment given dresser and slid it under my bed to make room, which isn’t my favorite way to use it, but absolutely necessary none the less. I can’t put anything on the floor at night. My extra pillows have to be carefully placed somewhere he can’t possibly get them should he feel frisky while we sleep. I’ve already learned that he gets out of character when we don’t exercise him….this, after he tried tearing up my favorite boots. I’m still salty. I have been reduced to putting my homework and other things off for after-dark dog park excursions when Raider is feeling restless. One day we’ll find a rhythm… Finally, my monthly budget and selfish desires have been put on hold in order to make sure Raider has everything he needs. I will not be cheap with him when it comes to his health and well being, so he will always come first. This is definitely a new and welcomed development in my growth as a person. He’s my baby, and I will do anything for him.

We love him dearly, and even though he can be a little asshole sometimes, and doesn’t seem to know anything about authority and right from wrong, I’m very content with my little family. TBC

 

Just Rocks

I thought taking Physical Geology would be fun. Good for me. A knowledgeable experience. I chose a Bachelors of Science because I’d rather learn about the Earth than spend 4 semesters in a foreign language I’ll never really master, and probably forget the moment I graduate. So, I signed up for Geology, because rocks.

Do you remember in grade school, how they would teach us Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous rocks? I always loved that unit. I love staring at the cliffs lining highways and the crazy lines running across the cut faces. I thought I could handle this class….after all, it’s 10x better than Biology.

Oh how wrong I was…

My TA looks like Glenn from The Walking Dead. This is the only thing going for him, in my opinion. He’s awful at teaching. He doesn’t answer questions, and when he does, he tells me in vague replies that don’t suit my learning style at all. I need you to show me the difference between Fracture and Cleavage on a rock and explain why it is so. Half the time, we ask him a question about a rock, he picks it up, flicks it around a bit, then tells us “this is a nice specimen. good cleavage.” or something like that, then walks away. Knowledge gained=zero.

On the first lab day, he informed us that we would be having a Midterm Practical the week before Spring Break (TODAY). He didn’t lie to us at all. Apparently less than half the entire Physical Geology class (all sections included) passes the Practical. Now, help me out here….WHY WOULD YOU CONTINUE TO GIVE A TEST THAT NO ONE CAN SEEM TO DO WELL ON? I’ve heard of professors like these who love to watch students retake their classes again and again. I even know of one who dresses up as Satan on test days. Why.

Upon realizing the test was a week away, I immediately set out to make my trusty flash cards. I figured that if I could memorize how to characterize the rocks and minerals before tutoring on Friday, I could go in, get some pictures in my head to match the characteristics, and continue studying over the weekend. I did just that. I felt so good about everything after tutoring! I had been studying twice a day all week, had the rocks and minerals pretty much down, and I still had two more days to go. Then came Saturday. My brain was tired…I couldn’t handle the flashcards. Sunday….no flashcards. Today, I resigned myself to whatever fate was in store for me. If I knew it, I knew it. After a weekend of seeing flashcards with Dolostone, Calcite, and Gneiss pop into my head with little information to follow, I was ready to be done with my Practical.

As I waited outside to be called in alongside lab mates and students from other labs, I heard a group of girls discussing the Practicals they took last year. Because, you know, they didn’t pass last year. Because this class sucks. My lab group was shocked to hear the test would not be multiple choice after all. (HE. PROMISED. MULTIPLE. CHOICE. Damn it Glenn!!!) I set down my flash cards and stared at the wall until I was called. Resigned.

There was no way I could have been prepared for this. This Practical might seem easy to majors who have spent they’re entire college experience categorizing rocks, but not a lab of non majors who only meet once a week for 2 hours. Every week we were introduced to a new batch of about ten rocks with a new batch of characteristic terms and identification tools. I’ve spent a month in this class, there was no way. At each table there were about ten different rocks with one or two questions associated with them. Some were naming, some were about technical texture terms, some were about placing the rocks on the Hardness scale.

At one point I got to a rock that had two questions to it. I don’t remember the questions. I think I only answered one. I remember dropping to eye level with the rock and staring at it for a long time, because there was no way for me to characterize it. My brain had failed me for at least the twentieth time in that hour. To me, it was just a rock. It had no name other than rock. Because, in all honesty, that’s all they are. They’re rocks. You pick up a rock on the side of the road, and it may be comprised of minerals with names, but this was just a rock. I could have seen this very rock in my front yard back home. There was absolutely nothing special about it….so I sighed, stood up, and moved on.

Not much later, I was on the final table. I picked up a rock and immediately knew it was Hematite. Two questions belonged to this rock, to which I knew the name of. Do you know how often I absolutely knew the names of the rocks and minerals during that test? Once.  Hematite. You want to know what questions belonged to Hematite? Not “what is the name of this rock?” I can assure you. I knew it was Hematite. I didn’t know its economical uses or whatever the second question was. At that point, I wanted to begin writing all of the knowledge I had gathered on my answer sheet, because I have knowledge in this class. I know things. That….I didn’t know. It frustrated me to no end. I moved on.

Halite, Calcite, and Quartz look very similar. Calcite bubbles in acid and Halite tastes salty. I’ve tasted Halite before, just out of curiosity, but I wasn’t going to lick it in the middle of my Practical. So I stared at it for a minute or two, playing Einie-Meenie- Minie- Mo in my head. (Get ready to be proud, mom) Then I remembered “You can see daylight through the Halite”, decided this mineral was clear enough to be so, and wrote it down. That’s about as confident of an answer as I was gonna get on that test.

I left a few blank. I guessed on too many. I probably only got a handful right out of fifty questions. The point of this pitiful story is….don’t take Geology if you don’t have to. It’s not just Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic anymore.

When My Mind is Miles From My Finger Tips

11:16 pm. I’m willing to write anything and everything other than the writing assignment I’m to turn in tomorrow. You’d think as a communication studies major this would be cake….sadly, in a very uncharacteristic move, I’ve pushed this assignment off until mere hours before it’s due. We’ve all been there right? Ok, good. Well, right now I’m dreaming of my favorite places in the world.

The Ocean brings me peace like no other. It’s 3 hours to the coast from my hometown, which is nothing in Texas Time. I’ve driven farther and longer, but somehow I’m not able to cope with this drive. We’ll start seeing palm tree about 2 hours in and suddenly I’m clutching the edges of my seat in anticipation, rolling down the windows to catch a breeze. Don’t even get me started on actually driving in Corpus. It’s so close! Why are we still in the car, yall??? The summer before my first year of college, I went with my three best friends and my lovely boyfriend for a day trip. We finally made it to Mustang Island, and one of my best friends wasn’t happy with the beach, so she made us find another one. The only thing I wanted was to stand before that massive expanse of water and feel small as the water rushed over my feet. About an hour later I got my wish. As irritated with her as I was, it only took a few minutes of sea-therapy to return me to my absolute state of bliss. With my love by my side we explored the shallow waters, even daring to venture out to the first few sand bars. Floating along with the sea weed and white waves feels like home. I will miss it when college is over.

Have you ever found yourself in a valley surrounded on all sides by towering mountains? Did they still have snow? Did you feel close to the sky? Have you stood on those mountains and felt such pride over the land before you? These visions are such treasures to me. Wyoming was a treasure. I don’t even mind driving through the mountain passes….scratch that…I don’t mind driving through the mountain passes as long as my mother is not there too scream and cry. Oh, but it was so worth it to come out of the pass and take in the land Jackson sits on! It was so flat! I could pretty much see from one side of the valley to the other. And the sky was so blue! Is that an altitude thing? I thought the Texas skies were massive and glorious…but a mountain sky definitely takes the cake. It’s spectacular. And the stars at night. The sounds of wilderness. The animals. Where I come from, we’re lucky to get snow during the winter, much less in the middle of summer, but it was there. It even snowed in the mountains while we were visiting the lower parts of Yellowstone. Had we chosen that day to ride the tram up the mountain by our cabin, we would have witnessed snow in summer! What a thought!

The Hill-Country just doesn’t wow me now that I live in the Piney Woods of Texas. I used to enjoy our occasional drives into the hills to visit our family cabin, and I still do, but it’s more pleasurable when the lands sport their annual wild flowers. Then the rolling hills of color rival my beautiful pine tree forests. I don’t know why I find them so attractive, I just do. I love the way they dance in the wind and tower over the city. They sway like I do when I’m in a dance-y mood. It’s a rare day that I won’t have some sort of piney-woods-sunset picture on my snapchat story. I get so caught up in the beauty of the moment and I just want to share it with the world! Even though the woods are my least favorite natural point, they still hold a special place in my heart. Even when I leave this area, I will return often to enjoy the green figures and the sun light shining through their leaves.

I sit and dream and long for and remember such special moments. It’s so much better than writing abstracts about critical essays over modernism. I just have to take deep breaths and remember that this is only a pre-req for the class I do want to take….and it doesn’t hurt that this is only worth a third of an essay grade, but dwelling on that only makes me not want to write it. I just want somebody to teach me how to be a better writer!

11:51 pm. I don’t care how modernism affected Chinese literature, but here I go to write the damn abstracts. Ocean. Mountains. Piney Woods. Ocean. Mountains. Piney Woods.

The Republic of College

Think back to your college years. Do you even remember them? Are they worth remembering? Do you regret anything? Were you the type to party the weekend away and stare blankly at the board in the morning? Were you the quiet soul in the back who absorbed the information? Or were you a colorful mix of the two?

Two things have been on my mind today. One, who decided it was a good idea to throw baby adults out on their own in communities run almost completely by other baby adults? Two, why are we so often forgotten and/or ignored? With the rotation of these concepts, a resounding theme flashes in my head. We’re just trying to make it.

Here I am in the middle of a 24 hour Harry Potter marathon with 6 other people in my tiny apartment, it’s midnight, and we’re acting like everything is ok. Because maybe it is? Maybe we’ll fall asleep at 5 in the morning and wake up thinking we made the biggest mistake ever. Maybe we’ll finish and never want to watch another movie again. Maybe we’ll blacklist TV completely and become advocates for a healthier society. You know why? These childish decisions make people who they are when they’re 40 or 50. These chip filled, pizza stuffed, coffee flowing moments will remain with me forever. Unsupervised, living in the moment, trying to make ends meet, and trying to make the best of my current situation.

When you think about it….it really is stupid. I mean, it’s perfectly natural to kick your offspring out of the nest when they get old enough, but somehow we are beyond nature. We have alcohol, drugs, parties, hell I’m sure we’re stupid enough to vote Trump in as a joke. And that’s the more intelligent half of the adult population, apparently. It should be a crime to expect new adults to figure life out on their own. No wonder we suck! It goes like this; “We all do it, it’s fine.” Then when someone messes up, “It’s your fault!” Well yes….but who’s fault was it for leaving us out here?

My scrambled thoughts in between movies and junk food. Go figure. Now I want scrambled eggs.

Perspective from the Road

Something about the woods here always makes me recede into my thoughts. Staying inside too long makes me feel like I’m in a cage. As I didn’t have a balcony last year, I often descended the stairs to a landing between the 2nd and 3rd floor, where I could think in peace. There I could watch cars pass on the street below and breathe in as much fresh air as I needed. Now, I find myself drifting to our little balcony when my mind wanders, but it’s still wrapped up in the confines of the apartment. When the balcony can’t ease my unrest, I go to plan B. Driving.

If you’re a fan of the TV show Supernatural, you’ll understand what I mean when I say my truck and I have a profound bond. (and in case you were wondering, I ship Destiel. It is most definitely a thing!) Every drive is an adventure, even if it’s across the highway to wreck havoc on Walmart. It’s hard to match the elation I feel when I drive, especially when I’m alone. I usually turn the volume as high as it will go, because it makes me feel cozy and surrounded by my favorite music. That phrase “so loud I can’t hear myself think” doesn’t apply in this situation, for some reason. See, this moment is where my best inspiration comes from. It’s like the combination of the road flying by and the blasting lyrics releases all the pent up thoughts and worries in my brain.

Now that you understand my therapy methods, we can dive into the gorey details. My therapy began last year (obviously) when I didn’t need to drive as much as I did back home. I was helped to discover the winding back roads and freedoms of our town, and I used them frequently. Then, I left for the summer and I welded the door to the fidgety 18 year old shut. I abandoned my “aimless drives” as my roommate would call them, honestly, because I no longer needed them. I went out more than before, I found my own peace, and I thrived.

In a town so small, everywhere I turn I’m thrown into a memory. Cars I don’t know take my mind to another time. I make turns in intersections then immediately look in my rear-view mirror for that familiar figure, just in case they might be near. The more errands I run, the more I’m drawn to the back roads to stay out a little longer. My brain scolds me with thoughts of my dwindling bank account and the needle that drifts closer to ‘E’ every time I turn on the engine. My heart needs to fly. I need to watch the towering trees pass in a blur. I need to feel speed. Most of all, I need to feel connected. I don’t think I’m ready to admit what to. The emotions, the suffocation associated with my trips was buried so deep, and with my return it’s slipping out like smoke.

It’s part of my Wanderlust, and one day it will be satiated. For now I battle with life. And small spaces. Did I mention I’m claustrophobic?

My Fool Proof Guide to Making a Long Distance Relationship Work

I lied. It’s not fool proof. The truth is, Long Distance is poison in every way. Distance does not make the heart grow fonder! This I know to be an absolute truth. And this is the very reason I cry every day. At some point each day, it hits me again that I will be leaving my love behind on Saturday for another year. My first year in college was such a disaster for our relationship that even with the firm foundation built by this summer, I’m terrified of what this year might bring. So this is my coping mechanism; a lesson for all those newbies and oldies out there going through long distance.

  1. Talk every day. EVERY. DAY. Tell them about your life, the little things that go on, your favorite parts of the day, share pictures, send videos, maybe even write letters. Who doesn’t like snail mail?
  • Why is this important? Because, the more you allow them into your life and they allow you into theirs, the better. They may not know your friends or co-workers personally, but your transparency and constant contact will make it almost feel like they’re with you. Remember, your communication is your lifeline. It is the most important aspect of your relationship.

2. Practice empathy. Those times he/she starts snapping, or crying on the phone over little things…don’t let it get to you. They’re tired, they probably miss you a lot, their life is taking a toll on them, whatever the reason, just remember to keep calm.

  • We’ve all seen those movies where the guy or girl has to leave their friends to go calm down their crazy significant other. This is one of those moments, except you don’t have an audience groaning because the perfect match has been in front of you waiting the entire time. I don’t know the kind of relationship you’re in, but most of the time if you’re willing to go into a long distance relationship, you’re either inexperienced or in it for the long run. The perfect person is sitting there on the phone, unconsciously causing drama, and all you need to do is remember the love you share and the real reason behind petty arguments.

3. Try to plan visits as often as possible. If you’re in college, going home once a month might be a good option. You can always meet in the middle somewhere. If your interest isn’t at home, maybe rotate who visits who. This works whether they’re in your hometown or not.

  • Face-time is a close second to Communication. Time spent together is the best rejuvenation you can receive. It helps work out the knots and wrinkles and re-fortify the relationship for another round of long distance. Skyping or facetiming is slightly better than a simple call or text, but touching and seeing each other in person is the best solution.

4. You will probably get closer to people around you, because you see them every day and they are more involved in your life. Just remember, as much as you communicate and see your significant other, a small feeling of distance is normal.

  • The more you feel your relationship is crumbling, the more it will. This is where all other guide points come into play. Don’t hide feelings from your other half. Be honest, and try to work through any distance you may see cropping up. Understand your partner like you did before the separation.

5. Don’t be afraid to lean on each other! You’re in this together, and like I said before, communication is key. It’s better to go to your other half than your best friend with your relationship problems.

  • With your best friend, all you’re doing is venting and clouding your mind with someone else’s opinion. With your partner, you’re actually putting problems out there to solve. Most of the time, your partner is your best friend above anyone else. But we all have that one girl friend or guy friend we go to for advice and venting, right? When you’re in long distance (or really any situation for that matter…) it’s best to keep the dirty details private.

Above all, keep in mind that long distance will strain your relationship no matter what you do. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but don’t let that scare you away. One day it will end and you’ll be back with your significant other. Hopefully you won’t have to be separated again, but in case you do, you’ll know how to make it work. It’s only a waiting game. Waiting to see, waiting to talk, waiting for the time to pass. The beginning will be more difficult than the end, but eventually you’ll find your routines and figure out how to blend. Best of luck to you and your relationship!