And I’m Feeling…. Good

Ever come across that song that just… sticks to you? Yup, I’m one of those people… I’ll put 5 or 6 songs on a playlist and listen to them over and over again. Sorry, future drivers stuck next to me at a red light… I’m gonna go ahead and  inconspicuously belt out the lyrics to this jam and pretend it’s not me you’re hearing over the music. As long as you don’t cut me off down the road, I think we can reach some sort of “this-is-my-happy-place-so-leave-me-be” type of agreement, no?

Well, I find that happy place a little less these days since I haven’t sang with an ensemble. And to top it all off, Orientation did an awesome job reprising “Glee” songs for their introductions this summer, as well as a short performance in the fall…. wish I could have been a part of it! But I’ll get to that later…

Anyway…. I’ve rediscovered my obsession — sorry— adoration? for Michael Buble’s music. I’ve always enjoyed chorale music, jazz, big band, swing, etc… it’s so wholesome and original to me. Lots of stuff that you hear on the radio is the same recycled 4 or 5 chords, totally predicable hooks, easy to churn out, annoyingly catchy songs that will play out quicker than Balloon Boy’s father and his 15 minutes of fame.  Yeah, I like Lady Gaga’s most recent stuff as much as the next 20 year old chick, but I can’t help but feel like I should be in some crazy James Bond movie when I listen to some of Buble’s work. Granted he covers many of the standards, he does a darn good job of bringing these classics back to life. And plus… who doesn’t wanna be like James Bond? Seriously. That’s a pretty awesome feeling.

The first time anyone ever heard me sing by myself was at the Smithtown Middle School Talent Show… way back in 2004. My parents were so unsuspecting of me that they thought up comforting, parent-y things to say to me on the way there in case I didn’t do so hot. I’m so glad Mom brought that monster of a video camera… ’cause I gave ‘em a show. Here comes this timid girl, not quite fitting in, finally got rid of the glasses and braces, and she’s got a mic in her hand. This is gonna be like a trainwreck: so bad, but you just can’t look away. Well, my friends… I shined that night for sure. That tape is somewhere in the mess that is the camcorder bag… but I haven’t stopped since.

So you can imagine my excitement when Nate Emmons, Assistant Dean of Students and Orientation mastermind came up with an idea to create a show choir here on campus. I’m definitely on board with it, and I’m excited to see what the 58 (yes, 58!) hopefuls on campus bring to auditions on Friday! Mr. Shuester and Rachel Berry would be proud. Or, in the supposed words of Coach Sylvester…. “that’s pathetic”. We’ll see, Coach!

To Be The Last One Standing

I gotta be honest….. I was not at all into the idea of living with 5 other girls. FIVE. I had lived in a dorm room by myself for 3 semesters, due to being a chronic migraine sufferer that warranted having my own room. I was approached by my friends Leah and Kayle, asking if I would come to live with them in the Village.

I can proudly proclaim that I am calling Building I home until May 2011….. and maybe longer than that!

So you may be wondering about the title of this post… one of my closest friends and the cutest little hardcore-music-loving-girl I know lives not two steps away from my door. She’s got a tattoo on her foot that says “to be the last one standing” arched over a perfect sunflower. I’ve always been inspired by little snippets of lyrics like that, and I think deep down inside, my inner biker chick is craving a tattoo of some sort…. someday. But don’t tell my mom.

Anyway, I love my housemates. I love my home. I love EVERYTHING right now. I’ve got a killer schedule this semester (and by killer, I mean FLIPPIN’ AWESOME) which allows me to start at 3pm on Monday and Wednesday, start at 11am on Tuesday and Thursday, and take Friday off! I had to schedule my classes this way since I’m attending two weddings this semester: my cousin Jill’s wedding and fulfilling Maid of Honor duties for my sister’s wedding. It also allows me to squeeze in a session of physical therapy three times a week, and leaves me with an empty house for most of the morning which allows for lots of household chores to be completed.

Alpha Phi Omega is also starting up this week, as we are preparing Rush events for the Fall 2010 pledging season! Not to shamelessly plug (but really to shamelessly plug) if you are interested, please search “Volunteering is Sexy” on Facebook and join the group for more information (or just click that link). If you didn’t already know it, community service is a very valuable asset to any resume, not to mention it just feels good to do good deeds for people, with nothing but gratitude in return. I feel passionately about this organization, and have held an executive position within the Fraternity during its most successful pledging semester in years. I’m so glad to see that this campus is taking notice of the organization that our alumni Brothers have laid the foundation for, and the work that current Brothers have put in to make it the premiere service organization on campus.

So, I guess that’s where I’m at right now. I wish I could make this entry a little more interesting to read like my previous posts, but we all need a cliche “this is how I’m doing” post, right?

All The King’s Horses, All The King’s Men

“If it aint broke, don’t fix it. If it is broke, spend another 6-8 months fixing it.”

Not very positive, is it? It’s definitely not what I was dreaming up for this summer vacation. You’re probably as tired as I am of hearing about the whole knee surgery thing… but I think we can agree it’s a not-so-fun way of experiencing a sophomore summer. But it hasn’t been all bad. And considering I posted about optimism a little while back, it would be pretty hypocritical to ignore the silver lining.

….physical therapy. This time around the ideology behind this rehabilitation process was “we’re gonna do this right, 100%, no messing around”. I gotta admit, I left my first session of PT thinking, “This is not gonna go well. This guy is intense, this place is intense… I’m a goner.”  That first day, when asked what I was fighting for, I said I wanted to run a 5k. I wouldn’t be too surprised if that’s why Drew took over my rehabilitation from there… I wouldn’t want to be responsible for an overly ambitious patient like me either! (just kidding guys.. I hope). Once Drew took the reigns, I knew I would hate to love PT – and loooove to hate it. So, I like to think that I’ve got the best of three worlds…1) Steve’s fatherly wisdom, tried-and-true rehab protocol, and exceptional credentials (of course)….  2) Drew’s “no muscle left behind” rehab style, bubbly and fun demeanor, and only 6 years my senior 3) The ability for me — Humpty Dumpty always falling off the wall — to actually enjoy and savor a 3 hour workout. These guys are top-notch – not just when it comes to putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, but keeping in mind that while all the pieces can fit, sometimes the brain and the heart aren’t quite caught up with the body. I think Drew sees that this whole experience has hit me pretty hard the second time around…  and I think he added in some humor to my rehab protocol. Is PT supposed to be this enjoyable?!

Although this summer was meant to be all about Orientation, spending quality time with my co-workers, and enjoying the beautiful Oswego summer weather, I can honestly say I’m content with how things turned out. I like to think I’ve gained a great friend in Drew and the rest of the good people down at ENPT (shameless plug)… and I’m starting to believe that this time, it’s for real. My quality of life will only improve from here on out.

So, is it too cliche to say that everything happens for a reason? Yeah? It is? Oh well.

Everything happens for a reason.

To Be Young and Innocent…

… it’s been quite a while since those days, huh?

One of my friends on FaceBook sent me an invitation to an event where everyone changes their profile picture to a picture of themselves at a younger age… “throwback photos”, he had called it. What the heck, I’ll do it. I’ve already uploaded some pretty entertaining (and some painfully awkward) throwbacks of my own. So I selected a gem of a school picture: kindergarten. From my loud daisy printed blouse to my mom’s perfect side-swept pinning of my hair with a HUGE yellow bow, I sure liked to smile regardless of what Mama Rara put me in.

After changing my picture, I started checking out other people’s throwback pictures. I was dumbfounded. It’s so incredibly easy to tell who changed physically, who stayed exactly the same, and who looks absolutely nothing like their cute 90’s counterpart. The scariest part is the latter, and not the former. I’m so glad that I at least somewhat resemble my 6 year old self. I know so many people who over the years have decided that they need to pile on the make-up, or dye their hair until it resembles a doormat, or take so many workout enhancers that their arms look like they could deflate at the mere sight of a pushpin. I’ll be the very first to admit, I have always been a bigger girl than most. But back then, I was also athletic and active, and hey, I had cute little dimples so if all else failed, I had that going for me too.

Sure, I’ve had my fair share of… interesting style choices, and gone through my weight struggles. Surgery and complications stemming from the first ACL injury have sidelined me for about 4 years, so the whole exercise thing was very limited, and that 5k I promised myself I would run during my senior year of high school? Veryyyy risky, and veryyyyy not completed (Don’t worry, it’s on my to-do list this time around). Now, 14 years later, I am SO glad that I’m still the same me. I haven’t made any drastic changes to my appearance that would lead my kindergarten classmates to not recognize me, and, come on…. how many 20 year old women are there floating out there who have never dyed their hair? I’ll tell ya: not many. I’ve got one piercing in each ear, and no tattoos. Another rarity. Natural beauty and the contentment with how one looks from birth (or at least close to it) is SO rare these days. How sad is that?!

Viva La Naturale! Kindergarten Danielly would be proud. Either that, or she wouldn’t understand what that means.

Be Kind…

….for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato

This quote hit me hard today as I was unwinding with an icepack on the therapy table at physical therapy. Every single person you meet is in the throes of some sort of predicament. What a concept! We’re human after all.

Remember that one person through grade school who just seemed to have it all figured out? Maybe they were super popular, or obliterated the ACTs without studying, or was a star athlete, or out-shined everyone else for the lead in the school play. And hey, maybe for you, normalcy was so beyond your battles that you longed to be normal too. Whatever your muse, we’ve all come across that person at some point that made us say to ourselves, “Ugh, why not me? Why can’t I be like that?” And the saddest part is, we start to answer our very own accusatory, self-destructive questions. “Because I’m lazy”, “because I’m just not smart enough”, “because I’m not talented enough”, “because I’m not physically fit enough” … and BAM! There’s your self-fulfilling prophesy.

Now let’s back away from the philosophy textbook for a second…. allow me to enlighten you on some tried-and-true experience. Once upon a time, I came to Oswego with a thirst for reinvention. But, because of my knack for letting others take advantage of my hospitality, I allowed my goals to become overshadowed with arguments and a depressingly slow start to making friends. I wanted to shed my high school persona and rid myself of the blame-game and create a college experience that would change me for the better.

But it was my love for all things Orientation that kept me on my heels and helped me focus on ensuring a wonderful summer for myself and others. I even made my first best friend at Oswego through Orientation (you know who you are!….. PS it’s fellow blogger Lizz Wetherby). I made sixteen close friends last summer while working with Orientation, and countless more as I gained an invaluable network of peers.

By Fall 2009, one of my co-workers turned me on to the idea of a co-ed service fraternity, and my other collegiate passion was born. Alpha Phi Omega, or APO surrounded me with another set of friends, and the bonds I’ve formed with my fellow Greeks through our community service endeavors still surprise me to this day. And now I’ve got two best friends in the same organization! My wolfpack is now three she-wolves strong.

Anyway, after my pledging semester, I quickly picked up an executive board position as Vice President of Service, second from the President (a fellow Orientation staffer and blogger, Kayle Light – who knew?!) and made 33 more friends as our HUGE pledge class kicked major service butt in the spring. With over 40 active members and a supportive alumni family, you can imagine how my friend situation has progressed over these two years.

So, back to fighting our battles. Amongst all of this lovey-dovey friend stuff, I’ve got my battles, all right. Knee surgery at the very beginning of summer really puts a damper on summer plans (no beach, no swimming, no driving to the movies, etc.) and I’ve gotta admit, it hits hard on the mental and emotional gauges too. And my family is 100% in my corner, but I can see that they’ve got their fair share of battles too. There are times when I find myself laying in bed at 3:30 am staring at the ceiling and my mind’s doing that “Why not me” thing again. But what I never realized is that those people who seem to have it all – and in my case, right now those people are in relationships and have healthy ACL ligaments – don’t quite know how to handle battles like mine. My battles are unique to me, and ya know what? … maybe that person who seems to have it all would buckle under the pressure of a reconstructive surgery and the consequences that go with it while I’ve stored up the secrets and tricks to overcoming not one, but two knee surgeries.

I don’t want anyone else’s battles but mine. But while I sat on that rehab table today, I was amazed at how very little we know about each other’s inner workings. Perhaps it’s a good thing to keep those battles under wraps, but I choose to record them here for others to learn that it’s okay to be fighting.

Rest assured, we are all fighting.

One Sharp Injection of Optimism, Please

Okay, I will admit it: sometimes, I can be a bit of a, well, pessimist. I guess that’s the beauty of being interested in journalism: always looking at both sides of the coin and gathering perspectives from every angle. I’ve hit more snags in this post-op recovery than I can count, one of which landed me an all-inclusive, insurance-paid vacation to the hospital for a small but ever-so-stealthy blood clot in my leg. So this leads me to the title of this entry: bring on the optimism. But where has my mind been this whole time? Staring angrily at that half empty glass.

Spirituality is a pretty interesting thing. I grew up in a household that encouraged spirituality but did not force-feed its teachings. My grandfather is a very well-known deacon around my hometown and especially in my parish, and I grew up living the “proper” parishioner’s to-do list: baptism, communion, confirmation, and yes, somewhere in the distant future the site of my fairytale wedding where John Mayer will sing me down the aisle. Don’t worry, it’s gonna happen.

So while in the hospital, my grandfather came just after dawn to keep me company before my twice daily abdomen injections and phone-order breakfast. Our conversations are always entertaining, and my grandfather is truly a gem. He always greets me with a compliment (“Oh Danielly Belly, you just get more and more beautiful every time I see you!” “Aw Gramps, see, I tried this new look today called “hospital hair”, I think it’s really working for me”). The man really knows how to flatter a girl! Our conversations always make me smile and feel SO great. During my second morning in my penthouse suite of 404 South, he stuck around while a hematologist came to see me, and warily watched him examine me. I guess old nursing habits die hard, Gramps.

It’s experiences like this that really help me to gain a thirst for the happiness that surrounds me. I know that my disposition has been less than sunny these past two weeks or so, but I think it’s time that I leave those negative thoughts floating away with the dark clouds that have crowded my bedside window. As I get ready to remove my headphones, return my laptop to my bedside table, and pull up the blankets over my cold skin, I can’t help but notice my mouth feels a bit dry.

I’ve got a glass of water on my table, and I’m happy to see that it’s half full.

Diary of an Unwilling Couch Potato

Day 3 post-surgery: someone get me out of this bed.

I didn’t think it would be possible for basic cable to be so lousy every time I turn on my TV. How many times can someone bear watching Paula Deen, Judge Judy, and my mother’s soap operas before tossing the remote aside after five or six rotations through the channels? I’m getting a little cabin fever. I can get to other parts of the house in about 10 minutes or so, but I refuse to. Even just getting myself to and from the bathroom is a process. And once I get there and back, I’m shaking and nauseous and I’ve broken out into a sweat that makes Richard Simmons look like an amateur.

The further into recovery I get, the more I hear about my friends in Oswego working Orientation. I had to resign from my position as a Laker Leader this summer after learning about the surgery that I would have no choice but to undergo. While I adjust the straps on my immobilization brace, the LLs are adjusting to their new surroundings. When they get Bev’s ice cream for some team bonding, I’ll be making good friends with my pill bottles and my CPM machine. I know it’s inevitable, but man do I miss them. Orientation takes a special kind of person who has a knack for making people smile while keeping them interested and informed. I have so much faith in the current Summer 2010 staff and I know they’re going to create for themselves one of the best summers they’ll ever know.

I wonder what the sunset looks like up there tonight. I could go check out the webcam on the Oswego main page but I can’t help but wonder if there’s finally something good on TV.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

But if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

November 26th, 2006. I was in the outpatient facility in my operation gowns and my hair french braided by my sister for the occasion. The IV in my hand poked and prodded at my vein with each motion I tried to make. I winced with each movement. Before I knew it, I was being led down the hallway into the operating room, and told to get myself up on the operating table. Not very accommodating, I thought. Once I woke up, I found myself the subject of my parent’s entertainment: put the kid’s glasses on crooked and snap some camera phone pictures of my droopy, anesthesia-stricken face. It’s all in good fun. :)

Physical therapy soon followed, and by March I was back behind the plate, catching for my school’s varsity softball team. We won leagues that year, but since then my health has deteriorated. Day in and day out I would experience my knee giving out and buckling on me, and I knew that my lifestyle was never going to be normal again. It took a lot of discomfort and daily knee dislocations and buckling to finally get an MRI on my knees shortly after finishing out the Spring 2010 semester.

So, here I am. I haven’t moved from this bed except to use the bathroom and I’ve finally figured out the perfect cocktail of painkillers and time to make recovery go as smoothly as possible. For 4 hours each day I have to strap myself into a machine that automatically bends my knee for me at a set degree (today was a pretty intense 40 degrees). This is to keep the joint lubricated, the blood flowing, and most of all to prevent scar tissue from building up. I also have a pad wrapped inside the bandages that is connected by a hose to an ice cooler. Ice water flows through the channels in the pad every 2 minutes or so to help cool the area. It stays on 20 hours per day and constantly needs more ice after an hour or two of running. Guess I have a hot knee!

It’s day three of recovery. Getting to the bathroom is getting a little easier each time; my brother and my mom have been helping me and I’m no longer in excruciating pain trying to crutch my way down the hallway. My dad is being so supportive too. He took Monday off to be with me for my surgery, and has been helping me every step of the way, even when he’s at work. I’m really itching to get out of this bed and I keep having dreams of walking again but soon enough I’ll be training for that marathon. Baby steps, baby steps….

They Call Me “Mellow Yellow”

Actually, nobody’s ever called me “Mellow Yellow”. Quite the contrary actually…

I’m a junior Broadcasting and Mass Communication major, and I’m really interested in taking on a Journalism minor as long as that is still feasible! Last summer, I worked as a Laker Leader for New Student and Family Orientation programs. I loved the experience, and I think it’s safe to say that the summer of 2009 was one of my best!

I’ve worked with Sports Information at SUNY Oswego for the past two years, which included working with the Men’s and Women’s hockey teams, as well as announcing the women’s softball games. As a softball player for thirteen years, announcing the home games reminds me how fortunate I was to play softball for so long and be successful at it. I also was a cheerleader in high school, and was avid in the Jazz Choir, as well as the Oswego State Singers during my freshman year at Oswego. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to sing. It’s something that I have always turned to no matter what.

I’m from a pretty big town on Long Island called Smithtown, and I’m the baby of the family in my house. My older sister Kristina graduated from Siena College in Albany NY in 2008, and my brother Carlo graduated from the University at Buffalo this past May. I’ve got a wonderfully wet-nosed fluffball of a poodle at home who does the “Cha-Cha-Cha” for treats and can jump from one person to another. You’ll hear about her more later on, I’m sure!

I also play guitar in my spare time, and I like to putz around on the piano when I’ve got the time, but I’m self-taught in both. I think that music is one of the most influential ways of expression for me because it gives me this secure and non-judgmental channel to say what I want to say. Maybe someday I’ll muster up the courage to play in front of a large crowd, but for now, my cheerleader bear and my studio mic are my most captive audiences…. :)