Thursday, January 5, 2012

December - Oh wait, January 2012!

Last life-update that I'll post in Minnesota. I am moving (back to) Knoxville on Sunday with both my folks and my sister.

2011 was tricky, as I am sure it was for many (all?) of you, at least at times. I cranked through a lot of therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I did several months of in-home therapy through the Courage Center, then transferred to the Sister Kenney Rehabilitation Institution to do outpatient therapy through 2011.

I have now "graduated" from therapies and hopefully have all the tools to succeed in Knoxville. My biggest issue is still fatigue, as my brain is working harder to do things than it had to before December 24 of 2010. Working long hours is still a ways down the road for me, which makes me very nervous for "grad school," which I still associate with working 60-80 hour weeks as I did in fall 2009 and all of 2010. So please, be patient with me as I get back into the swing of things. That is not to say I deserve special treatment. As my colleagues will soon find out, I, for all intents-and-purposes, seem "normal." It as not as if I will be a stuttered baboon; at least, not until I consume multiple lattes in a short period of time! As all of my family and friends know, I am, and probably always be a bit of a spaz. Just as Jamey wrote in my letter of recommendation, with what I can only assume is all the love in the world, "Donnie is great and all, he is just a spaz."  =) Grinning like a madman right now.

Oh... So, welcome back from that tangential and suspiciously baboon-like rambling. As I was saying, I am very anxious about not being able to work hard enough to "make it" as a grad student. But my fatigue tolerance will likely increase a great deal throughout 2012 as I start to cognitively challenge myself more.

Brain tissue is unfortunately not regenerative, so anything lost is gone for good. However, your brain makes new connections as you re-learn how to do certain things, and I have done a great deal of "healing" this year. I remember when my friends came to visit me in February of 2011, I watched the movie "Get Smart" about 4 times, all of which were the first time for me. I joked about the benefit of being able to experience things multiple times.

Here are some, but not all, highlights and things I am thankful for that happened in 2011, in semi-chronological order:

  1. My friends coming to visit me when I got out of the hospital in February.
  2. Hanging out with Rose :)
  3. Chasing away that darned fox.
  4. Noticing dragonflies everywhere and developing an even better relationship with them

5.   Getting even more into climbing, assembling a sport rack, getting started on my trad rack, and making some great friends along the way.
6.   Seeing my sister graduate from Hamline University and getting an opportunity to be a tangible part of her life. I wish I was a better brother. My sister kicks butt! Make sure you get her autograph before she turns into a famous poet and changes the world (more than she already has) with her poetry and teaching.
7.   Getting the tattoo. Love you, Kali! =) It is a personal thing, but "two boats" was a metaphor she had developed for our relationship over the past 6 years.

8. Taking the trip that Kali and I were planning on taking in summer of 2011: out to Colorado to see my research area in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then back through Omaha to visit her alma mater at Creighton University. So many things come along with this: spending time with Jamey & Kim (<3), seeing CU and touring the campus with Patrick Kinney, and getting to show my amazing parents the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Stopping into Firebrand Deli. Drinking some Modus Hoperandi, seeing Rose romp around off-leash in high-alpine meadows, going for epic trail runs down the Animas River Gorge, crying on top of Snowden Peak (where better?!), visiting my favorite sweet Colorado coffee shops, and, as always, all the new friends I got to make and spend time with.

9. Becoming a runner? This was something I never saw happening. In fact, I always teased Liz for being a runner, because she seemed to always injure herself, including spraining her ankle walking (read: WALKING) down an unobstructed hallway. However, I got into this whole ultrarunning scene, and ran my first marathon and first trail ultramarathon (Wild Duluth 50k). San Juan Solstice, a 50 mile ultramarathon outside of Lake City, CO, is up next, where Liz and I will fly out and do some epic trail tunning.

10. Going back down to Omaha, getting a chance to share a favorite song of Kali and mine, and participating in the dedication of a gift. I am in the process of setting up a fund so that the "Kali Mann Memorial 'Iron Jawed Angel' Award for Leadership in Service of Gender-Justice" will have a financial payout to its recipient. Look out for news regarding this, as anyone will be able to donate ANY amount to the fund.

11. My epic Kali-And-Donnie-T-Shirt-Quilt. Enough said.

12.  Getting my dad, sister, and Dustin on the rope outside at Red Wing. Jenna's Chimney, 5.5, woohoo! ;)

13.   Spending time with Liz (a.k.a. Wiss) and Alice (a.k.a. Aliceson) down in Houston

14.   Getting more into bread baking. Thanks to one of my best friends (for now, our friend contract is due to expire next year, I hear) Erik, for introducing me to the Tassajara method of baking bread.

15.   Spending time with my mom and dad, including a trip we did out to Taylors Falls, where I demonstrated how to safely build a top-rope anchor. I can't emphasize the first seven words of this sentence enough. How are parents so amazing?

16.   Rekindling old friendships, particularly my friendship with Bekah. 

“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth.”

17.   Going up north, trying deer hunting for the first time, spending time with Leo, Eric, Corrin, and the Manns

18. Everything one and everything I forgot to mention. Edit: Having a concert buddy, Maggie, and going to many amazing shows this year.

19. Love. From my parents, sister, friends, acquaintances, all the way to total strangers. I will leave you with a transcription from 'Kali-and-my-movie,' Away We Go. Watch this film! Wish  me luck and safety regarding the move down to Knoxville and the pursuit of my Ms degree. I will keep y'all updated.

Okay, so you kiss, you do other things

and then you make a baby.

The baby comes in there
and he nestles in.

And you guys hug and get real tight.
And then we do this.

And this. There..

It's your house.
Now what is this?

Is that a home? Is that a family?

No. No, of course not.
That's just the raw material.

The people, the walls, the furniture.
Okay, so that's the basics.

But that's not a home.
That's not a family.

What binds it all together is this.

This is love.

This is your love, guys.

Here it comes. The patience, your
consideration, your better selves.

Man, you just have no idea
how good you can be.

But you have to use all of it.
All of it.

It's not like simple masonry,

where you use a little layer of mortar
between each row of bricks.

No. With this,
you have to use tons of it.

For every brick, there's
a half-ton of mortar.

I thought we were doing syrup.

It's the glue.

It's all those good
things you have in you.

The love,

the wisdom, the generosity.
The selflessness.

The patience. Patience.

At 3:00 a.m., when everyone's
awake because Ibrahim is sick

and he can't find the bathroom and
he just puked in Katya's bed.

Patience when you blink...
It was awful.

When you blink and it's 5:and it is time to get up again,
and you know you're going to be tired
all day, all week, all your fucking life.

And you are thinking,

And you have to be willing to make
the family out of whatever you have.
You have to be so much
better than you ever thought.

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