Friday, January 25, 2013

Ernie Pyle: More Than the Name of a Building

Ah, finally, a Friday night in. A bottle of red wine on my desk, me all snuggly in my pajamas, and Christina Aguilera playing in the background for a little nostalgia. What's not to love?

If only my reality were as sweet as that image.

In reality, I can barely keep a straight face as Christina Aguilera whispers, "Pero me amo, pero me amo," in what I expected to be "Genie in a Bottle." Pero no, this is "Genio Atrapado." I guess I was a little too giddy in scooping up the album from the library to make sure it was the English version. And as far as snuggly PJs go, I've been in these babies since I went to bed last night. Oh don't worry, I showered today, but as soon as I got out I slipped these red-and-white bad boys back on. So they're probably needing a shower as well....Now the wine, the wine is gorgeous. It's a sweeter, soft red wine, not bitter or sour. At least, that's what the label tells me, because I happen to be short one very vital corkscrew.

Yay, Friday.

I tell ya what though, last Friday was a fun time. On that morning, I boarded a bus and tagged along for a FREE fieldtrip (something free in college!) to the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Dana, Ind. As a journalism student at IU who spends 90% of her scholarly time in Ernie Pyle Hall, you'd think I knew more about the guy. But to tell you the truth, I was clueless. So when I left that morning, I hoped to come back with the ability to give a better description of him than "war correspondent."

And I did. I learned about his life growing up in a town even teenier than mine, a life where sons are raised to be farmers and he wanted none of that. Pyle wanted to see the world, and so begged his mother to let him enlist. But his mother was The Enforcer, a lot like mine, and she said he was finishing school, so that was what happened. After high school he decided to go to IU, and enrolled in the School of Journalism with friend Paige Cavanaugh (Note: Paige is a dude...this fact eluded me for most of the day). He dropped out a semester before graduating and went to work at the LaPorte Herald for a few months before marrying Jerry Siebolds (yet this one is a chick), who he referred to as "that girl." She struggled with depression and alcoholism, and their marriage wasn't a happy one.

He went on to become managing editor of the Washington Daily News in Washington, Ind., which is eventually where he became a war correspondent after doing several pieces on the road and traveling all over the states. He reported from Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. He and Jerry got a divorce in 1943 while he was home from the war for a period; in 1945, he was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on an island near Okinawa.

I could go on and on about this man, but I'll let you guys check Wiki instead cause otherwise I'd write forever. I will say this, though: I am so proud to gain an education in a school that honors his legacy, and I'm so grateful to know we're not so different. He wanted to escape that small Indiana town and see the world. He loved to write, and not just the cold hard facts. He gave faces and names to the masses, those boys and men across the sea; the ones who had moms just as crazy nervous as his, and whose names deserved to be remembered and put down in ink.

Ernie Pyle made those men into more than "soldiers" for the American public, and for that he is much more than a "war correspondent" to me.

Ernie, center, shares a cigarette with Marines on Okinawa.
A photo of Ernie, left, near an issue of LIFE magazine all about WWII.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Well, this is it. Another year has already come and gone. Most days I feel like the hours go by so slowly, but as I look back on the passing year I can't remember where all the time went. 2012 felt like a year of goodbyes for me. I said goodbye to one of my greatest friends, Katelyn Baker, in May, and learned a few months later that she couldn't return to IU when school rolled back around. I said goodbye to another great friend and roommate, Kaitlyn Klabunde, as she set off for Michigan State to be closer to Jimmy and her family (and, of course, Lola and Moose). I missed saying goodbye to a good friend and ex-classmate, Natalie Kamp, when her life was cut much too short last Halloween. That was a goodbye I didn't think I'd have to make so soon.

I also said goodbye to my first year at college. I said goodbye to the vomit-stained carpet (thank you, Sark) and tall double bunk-beds of 1165; I said goodbye to living on a floor where Ries' guitar, Smoke's singing, and David's ability to create awkward moments/go days without sleep were nightly occurrences. I said goodbye to one of the greatest times in my life, my first year away from home and my first year at IU. While it wasn't always perfect, it was a memorable experience, one that taught me so much about my life and relationships.

And speaking of relationships, I said goodbye to David McCracken much, much too often. {Just a sidenote: getting into a relationship with someone who lives 2,000 miles away from you, two months before starting college, is not the smartest decision in the world. So if you're planning to do this, you'd better have a whole lotta love for the person at the other end of those 2,000 miles.} If I gave you a dollar for every day we didn't see each other this year, and then took away a dollar for each day we did, you probably wouldn't even notice the difference. Long distance is not a fun time, but if it's worth it, you'll make those goodbyes count 'til you can share the next hello.

The one goodbye that sticks with me most from this year is the one I never got the chance to say. One of the most beautiful, inspiring women I have ever met or could ever hope to emulate was Josephine Miranda, who by some saving grace also happened to be a part of my life and my family. My Auntie Jo instilled in me at a young age a love for California so deep I never wanted to leave; being there meant being near her. When she died of pulmonary fibrosis in late March of this year, a big piece of California and everything it's ever meant to me died with her.

But goodbyes aren't always a bad thing. Just as Newton's Law holds that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, my "law" is that every goodbye leads to another hello. Each time I hug David goodbye in some airport terminal, I remind myself that this goodbye will put us one step closer to the next hello. Even a permanent goodbye, like losing my Auntie Jo, isn't so permanent after all. Her spirit lives on in the places she's been and the people she's known. Flipping through old photographs of my gorgeous great-aunt (who never seemed to age), while enjoying lunch and reminiscing with family at one of her favorite old sandwich shoppes in LA, brought her to life in every way but physically.

2012 was a wild, exciting, and unpredictable year. And for all the goodbyes I've been saying, maybe 2013 will be a year chock-full of hellos. Whatever happens in these next 365 days before the clock strikes midnight in 2014, I resolve to look on these upcoming experiences with an open heart and peaceful mind.

Goodbye, 2012. Hello, 2013.