I did not think I would be back in the academic world ever again. I love the experience of being in a campus during my college years, but I actually hated being inside a classroom listening to a subject matter I had no interest in. If there was ever a positive outcome about the pandemic, it was that it forced some of us to reexamine our life's trajectory. And not just about our society's pre-existing socio-economic conditions (no pun intended), but out very own personal choices in life as well. For me,  being stuck at home was truly exhausting and stressful. At one point early in 2020, I started buying stuff I did not need just to keep myself from going crazy, ignoring the fact that probably more than 20 people will touch that item before it gets to me, and anyone of those individuals might be infected. 
That was one of my most selfish moments as a human being.
I was only thinking about my damn self. With no regard for all the people out there risking their lives, I complained to God and all the other deities. What did we do to deserve this? I never stopped for a moment to contemplate that I am a part of this wasteful and selfish existence for so long. Sooner or later this shit is going to catch up with us. I wanna be real here, and if use words that might offend you, then you better not continue reading. Part of truthful communication is getting away from the status quo and sometimes -- I mean, sometimes -- saying it like it is. 
For me specifically, the pandemic forced me to look at my life and truly take stock. I started to take some courses in the beginning of 2019, but never really thought about actually going back to being a full time student. I had just ended my advertising agency after more than 7 years of toiling for scraps, and realizing that I did not really need to have a lot of money to be happy, I decided that I was just going to be a wandering human being. I was going to travel and see the world. I wanted to see places I had not visited. When the pandemic happened , I found myself with suddenly not knowing what I was going to do with my life. So I became a full time student. The good thing was, all classes were moved online, so I could basically just be in front of my computer all day; which is what I do on a daily basis anyways as I manage several social media pages and groups for many non-profit organizations. The bad thing is, like I said, every thing is done remotely, and for a person who enjoys the value of face to face communication and interaction, I was suddenly feeling inadequate.
Fast forward to this semester, and now I am being asked to write a journal about my daily life as a student and how this remote learning is affecting communication and human interaction. Well, let me tell you that it is quite weird and immensely unnerving to be facing blacked-out screens from other students who does not want to show their faces and does not participate in discussions. If ever there was a time to study social issues and social skills and/or lack-there-of with this current generation of college students -- this would be the perfect setting to do so. 
The journey continues
In march of 2021, I finally got my first shot of the vaccine. A few weeks later, the second shot followed. Right before my Total Knee Replacement Surgery, I was given the instruction to take my Booster shot. The months before that, and pretty much the whole 2020 was such a traumatic and experience. Being stuck in my room, I barely even went down to my kitchen for fear that my housemates could have been carriers. The problem was that we do not really communicate. Have you been in a situation where you're with a group people and you barely talk to each other? That was my in-the-middle-of-covid house situation. How did I got myself into this scary predicament?
The key to a successful relationship, in matter what type of relationship it is -- is communication. Sadly, most of my life, communication, or rather I should say, good communication have been absent. I have been asking this question all my adult life: what is it that I am doing wrong in communication as to have failed in marriage, as well as lost some friends and relatives over communication issues?
Back in 2019, I sold my house. I have been living in this townhouse in Centreville since I retired from the military and became a police officer. After my divorce, and after quit being a cop, I continued to stay in this 4 bedroom townhouse, even though I really had no business staying there; much lesss with the substantial mortgage. I rented some of the rooms out, I did the AirBnb, but by the summer of 2018 after I came back from the Philippines -- I had had enough. I had arrived at my moment of truth: why am I living in this empty house with strangers? Why am stuck in this house without a family? There was no positive answers to all the questions. And so, in the summer of 2019 -- I got rid of my past and decided that I would only have a backpack worth of belongings. I sold most of my furnitures and appliances, but there were still stuff I could not get rid of: such as the wonderful dining and living room wares that I bough from Japan and from other parts of the world during my military days. I could not just get rid of them.  And so I ended up having to rent a small storage to house these items. One could never shed everything.
Why is that? Why do we cling to some stuff even though it bring sadness and dispair to ourselves?

And then I had to insert new challenges onto my already chaotic existence
Who says I am not ready to adapt? Back in 1994, as a Field Medical Service Technician (FMF HM-8404) for the First Marine Division Expeditionary Force stationed in Camp Schwabb in Okinawa, Japan, I was dropped from a gurney -- accident or intentional, I will never know -- and my right knee had a tree branch went through it right below the patella. But back in the day, if you are not dead, you get patched up and shoved back in line to continue doing your job. A few years later, while deployed on a short stint somewhere in the middleeast, chaos erupted in our camp, and then I woke up with a bullet hole on the same know. This knee have had the worst luck! Now in my 50's, I can hardly walk, and so I made the big decision in agreeing to the Veterans Administration's DC Medical Center Orthopaedic Department's recommendation to undergo a Total Knee Replacement Surgery.
On November 01, 2021 -- my knee was replaced, apparently with a Titantium. The past few days and weeks have been total hell. The pain, the opid drugs wrecking havoc not only on my brain, but also on my stomach. And then there is the sleepless nights, as I get awaken from the pain, and now just the stabbing pain when I move wrong while asleep.
Mind you, this is all happening while I am full time student.
Go figure.
This week, Thanksgiving Week also the week my sutures and staples were taken off. I have been dreading this event as I was worried something wrong is going to happen like it always does with my life. It has been 23 days since the surgery, yet, my right knee cap is still swollen and there is this stinging and stabbing pain whenever I make the wrong move with my right leg. But I shall get the with the program, abide with the physical therapy regimen, and keep on working to get better. There is no alternative. There is no plan B. There is no going back. This is it. This has to work. I have to make this a success. The experience of  hell and excruciating pain and stress alone is motivation enough for me to work hard to be better. I cannot allow myself any self pity. I cannot allow self doubt to creep in. I have another milestone in four weeks when the Surgical Team sees me again. I want to be able to show them that I have actually progressed.

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