Thursday, December 22, 2011
My past week has been incredibly stressful and tinged with sadness.
I had two close friends attempt suicide. In one case, I was not there. In the other situation, I had a front row seat. Forgive me if I don't elaborate. It's too traumatic for me to even blog about.
The second scenario really forced me to open my eyes. I've been so consumed with my own unhappiness the past year that I had no idea someone right next to me was suffering in a different way.
And by pure coincidence, I also had two extremely important people from my university years pass away, unexpectedly.
One was a professor who catapulted my journalism career. The other was my advisor who always had my back.
My media writing professor was an extremely intimidating man. On the first day of class, he marched into the classroom draped in a black cape and wearing a scowl on his face. He yelled at us and hurled insults at anyone who so much as blinked. I was horrified. The next day, only half the class remained. The other half had dropped.
As the weeks went by, it became apparent to me that his harsh demeanor was nothing more than a dramatic act. He used to growl at me in class, but I always caught the teasing glimmer in his eyes. He spent a lot of class time voicing his disgust for Paris Hilton, who he claimed looks like a giant bird. He also bragged about sleeping with a Hollywood movie star during the 1950s, but wouldn't reveal which one. It was kind of shocking hearing such things come out of an 80-year-old man's mouth.
A year after I took the class, I was awarded a prestigious journalism scholarship out of the blue. The person who had nominated me wished to remain anonymous. I found out by accident, several years later, that this professor had been the one to nominate me for the award.
I was absolutely stunned. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would go back to my university one day and thank him. But I kept putting it off, because I just seemed too busy. I put it off too long. He died of a stroke yesterday.
My advisor was a headstrong woman, but she was kind-hearted. I had an internship at NBC for a semester. I spent 40 hours per week for six months going out with cameramen on feature stories, interviewing people and attending press conferences. I edited video and I wrote news script for the anchors. I spent most mornings making tiresome phone calls to various police stations and fire departments. It was hard work.
The manager of the station didn't like me. She was a bitter bitch who glared at me every single time I walked by. It wasn't until a week after my internship ended, that my advisor called me into her office. Apparently the manager of the NBC station had given me a C for my internship. I was stunned and incredibly hurt. How could she?! My advisor was so outraged, because she knew how hard I had worked at the station all semester, she did something she had never done before. She changed my C to an A.
Her decision saved my grade point average and allowed me to graduate with honors the following year. It was a gesture I never forgot.
She died over the weekend of a heart attack.
Sometimes people change your life in random ways. Do not take them for granted.