We took down the Christmas lights today. New Year, no more holiday, snow melting and retreating from driveways, winter already ending, spring already creeping in, a new life, a new perspective, a new future. I cried when I read the National Geographic-- don't read it, there's a story about a dog who gets his neck broken and lives on as a parapalegic and his faithful owner who builds him a doggy wheelchair and then takes him to Alaska on a road trip but finally has to put him down because he is in pain from arthritis and before the dog is injected the owner whispers-- but I can't say it, I'll cry again. I'm a sucker for dog stories.

And I received my present from my E2 Secret Santa, a wonderful set of books that I love and adore already. He also sent a riddle, so I have to figure out who he is on wits alone.

The mail comes in, the mail is sorted, packages pulled open and magazines read. An unobtrusive letter falls out-- stamped AIR MAIL in red-- a letter from Oxford University.

A little history: I applied to Oxford in October (an adventure in itself); I flew to New York to interview in November; I waited through December; and today I received a letter. I want, want want to go there. This is my dream. I cannot imagine going anywhere else.

It's thin. Very, very thin. I open it-- hands on the verge of shaking-- and I read it.

I have never been rejected before in my life. Rejection hurts.

A lot.

So I put on a brave face for my parents-- "Think about how hard it would have been to move to England and all that"-- and I rushed out the door when my boyfriend came over, and I didn't start crying until I was almost a mile from my house.