The Golden State has been my home since the day I was born, 22 years ago. I grew up in Sonoma County, close to all of my cousins and grandparents. I was home schooled for Kindergarten, and got up every morning to say a prayer and the pledge of allegiance before practicing sign language, counting, and writing. I’d watch Newton’s Apple, which I still maintain is way cooler than Bill Nye the Science Guy could ever hope to be. I still remember the episode on cows…I thought it was so gross how they regurgitated their food. Then I started to get car sick a lot, and it doesn’t seem so gross anymore (but you might be grossed out now…oops!).
For first through eighth grade, I went to a parochial elementary school across town. My mom was a little worried that I might not understand the concept of “recess”, so she made me go to summer school. It was fine, and I remember that there were eight of us, four first graders and four second graders, in the class. I only remember the names of two of the other first graders though. I remember toting my purple plastic Beauty and the Beast Thermos lunch box (and a box it was) to every summer school class and through the third grade:
Then I got one of those soft lunchboxes with a hard plastic box inside which defeated the purpose of having a soft lunchbox, but I digress…I made it out of the elementary school in the eighth grade…sort of. My last year at the elementary school involved me taking a math class at the high school (Algebra I), with some of the freshman (and in the second semester, a junior). There were probably about ten of us who met at the high school everyday and walked back to the elementary school after our morning at the high school.
My high school years were spent at the parochial high school where I took the Algebra class. It was a long four years, full of science and math classes, sports, and leadership. I played volleyball, basketball, and threw for track and field over the course of these four years. I ran for office some six times, and never won, but never got down about it. I knew that I would be able to participate in Leadership even if I didn’t win. I always worked hard and spent extra hours getting projects done. I became Head Captain of our Relay for Life Teams and got our teams to raise a lot of money to help find a cure for cancer.
Before I knew it, it was time for college. I debated and debated for weeks about where I wanted to go…The Jesuit school in Washington, or the Lasallian one in California? I chose the Lasallian one, and am very happy with my decision. I was originally going to major in Biology, but after a semester of labs, I wasn’t quite satisfied. My RD talked to me about a math major…I’m not sure if he was joking or serious at the time, but I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I spend the next three and a half years cycling between trying to figure out a problem and wondering what in the world made me want to major in math and then finally figuring out the problem and shouting “I love Math” from the hill tops. There were many tears shed as I struggled with the course work and the challenges that came with my math major, but in the end, I was all smiles at graduation, despite not knowing what was coming next:
I spent the week after graduation helping my mom work on a video for the current 8th grade class at my old elementary school, and then turned my hand to web site design and maintenance. I spend the next couple of weeks working for my dad’s company and getting his website up to his standards (Check it out here: www.firesafetysupply.net. Be warned: It’s not quite finished yet…).
Then, while my parents were in Texas with my two younger sisters, an opportunity presented itself. The Lasallian Volunteers Program was looking for more volunteers! I had wanted to apply to this position earlier in the year, but circumstances involving me traveling in Thailand, Laos, and Singapore for a class in January, and not being able to get an application before I left made it a tad bit difficult. I jumped on the opportunity and immediately emailed them asking what I needed to do.
I got my application in the last day of June and had my interview on the first of July. I felt like it went well, and could tell there were three sites for which they were considering me. A few days later, I got an email accepting me to the program! I was ecstatic! I wanted to sing from the hilltops and everything! This news came just in time for our family camping trip.
I was doing some last minute packing the next day, when I received a phone call from the LV office. They wanted to place me in New York! Once again, I wanted to sing and shout from hilltops. I settled for singing from the top of the stairs (not quite as epic, but still pretty cool). I spent the entirety of the trip alternating between relaxing and being excited for my interview with the site.
When I talked to the principal of the school I’d be working at, I just got more excited. God was showing me a place where I could use the skills he had given me, the skills I had taken the time to develop, and help others. The next day, I spoke with the Brother responsible for the community in which I’d be living. Once again, I felt myself getting more excited.
And now, here I am. Barely 12 hours from take-off, still working on that video with my mom, with just my purse to pack up for tomorrow. My room is a little messy, and I doubt I’ll have it all cleaned up before I leave (I am me, after all), but I’m feeling ready for this adventure. I’m torn about what song I want to share. Part of me wants to share a song that’s been on my lips since before the Fourth of July, and part of me wants to save that song for a rainy day. The latter wins. Instead, in honor of the fact that I will always and forever be a California girl at heart, I present for your pleasure or disgust: