I have had a really tough January. Possibly the worst January ever. Not a good way to start a year for sure. First, I had to leave my friends behind in New England, again, knowing that their lives are changing so rapidly I may not "know" them the next time I am able to see them. After I got back to the Netherlands I have been incredibly homesick and depressed. Then I got actually physically sick, twice. First a viral URI (possibly the flu, I thought I was dying), then a week after getting better I was socked with a bacterial sinus infection that moved into my ears. Ugh. I have not had otitis media since I was a kid. It hurts! Meanwhile all of my experiments went wrong. Either b/c i did something wrong or because of equipment that malfunctioned or parameters we were unaware of (such as European mice being colonized in their nose with bacteria of the same type that I work with) - so basically a giant waste of time and money. I've worked every weekend in Jan. I've had to cancel plans with friends new and old thanks to working weekends and being sick. A little hard to cure my loneliness and depression if I cannot even have a social life in the first place.
The icing on this shitty cake was this past friday my mom called me, my Grandma had died that day. This was my dad's mom. My dad's parents live in Texas for the winters, so no one was even down there for it. My parents and aunt were actually on their way down since we knew it was coming. She had a stroke before Christmas. The cause of the stroke was cancer on her spinal cord. She was paralyzed after the stroke. Not a good way to live life when you are that old. I spoke to her on the phone on Christmas (everyone did), so at least I got to tell her Europe was going good and so was my PhD. She was a survivor of breast cancer so it was pretty amazing that she lived this long anyway. - And I'm pretty sure it happened before I was born so that would be pre-1980's which makes her survival even more amazing. I was not as close to her as my mom's parents, but she was still a wonderful Grandma. On a side note, it's been a little over a year since my Uncle Tom died of brain cancer, so this side of the family is not having a good January for sure either. My poor Aunt, first her husband, now her mother. I hope that she is ok. It's very hard to be so far away from family and not be able to be there at times like these.
In order to get past this horrible month I have decided that tomorrow, February 1, is a new new year for me. It will be a fresh start. A better year. This January will be put behind me. From now on, things will get better. To commemorate this fresh start I've joined the 365 Project and I'll start tomorrow (you can find me here). From tomorrow onwards I'll take a picture and post it every day. I'll focus on ex-pat life and try to focus on good things. And I'll work on my photography skills. Once upon a time, I studied visual arts as my minor in high school and college and I took "old school" photography classes. I've even won awards. I really miss that connection to art - taking the picture, developing the film, deciding which pictures deserved to be printed, processing the print - i miss it all. I dont have any fancy camera equipment here, just my "point-and-shoot" digital camera, so I'm going to push that to the limit. See how far a hand-held can take me. And maybe if I have a little extra monies, I'll get myself a decent SLR, we'll see.
Hooray for tomorrow! Now, I have to get to the lab and do some work.