Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hey there, Saturday.

It's been a long week back in this college town. For only having four days of classes, I'm feeling very out of shape, out of practice, and generally out of sorts. The beginning of the semester is rough. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to enroll in 18 hours, including my thesis--what?! So, you can imagine my arms are wide open towards the long weekend ahead that I'm shamelessly extending with a trip to DC, a good concert, and lots of food and Parks and Rec with that boyfriend of mine. And did I mention sleep? Lots of sleep.

I was tagged by the lovely Haley and Caroline to play along with their "six things in six minutes" I'd figure I'd embrace this embrace this excuse for blogging without using my own waning brain power. ;)

As to not play favorites and avoid spamming you all with 12 things-you-didn't-really-need-to-know about me, I figured I would alternate between the two ladies: odd numbers from Caroline, even from Haley!

1. If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be? You cannot imagine how brokenhearted I was upon discovering that Bluebell's Dutch Chocolate, the ice cream I grew up on, is not gluten free. I know. Thankfully I've been able to find some good dairy- and gluten-free substitutes, but I still tend to fall along the same vein: I'm a chocolate girl, through and through. And those flavors that are chocolate with the addition of other chocolates (like chunks and ribbons and maybe some hazelnuts or pecans)? Yea, that's probably what I'd be. I feel like most of my traits can be explained from the core of me...they just manifest themselves in little twists and differences.

2. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Like Caroline, probably "you know?" or "you know what I mean?" Growing up (and even now), I often felt like I had an older soul than the people around me, so I think I tend to stick these on the end of sentences to make sure I feel like I'm actually being understood in the way intended. Otherwise it'd probably be "if that sounds okay with you?"...I guess I have a bit of an insecurity about coming across too strongly! (I could probably bear to cut that one out.)

3. Current Netflix binge? Okay! I feel like I'm at a place where I've seen most of the good things I would typically think I was interested in seeing that are available on Netflix--so people, send me your recs!!! However, not-on-Netflix I've been making my way through both seasons of Smash for the first time, which I am close to done with, and I maaaay have started re-re-watching the first season of New Girl again this morning...oops.

4. What is your most treasured possession? A ring that I wear every day that was made out of my mother's wedding ring by a dear family friend. I feel naked without it, and would definitely be the most bereaved if I lost it.

5. What is something you learned the hard way? Oh gosh, I could probably answer this a lot of ways, but I'm going to stick with something my dad told me repeatedly my first year of college that has proven to be incredibly true: "If it's not one thing, it's another." Just like I don't think there's any purely "easy" relationship (romantic or takes work to be connected in people's lives!), I don't know that there's any such thing as an "easy" season of your life. There are certainly ones that are better than others, but I think there's always going to be something present challenging you. And that doesn't have to be bad once you come to terms with it.

6. What is your motto? Ahhh! I don't know that I truly have a "motto," but there are probably two quotes that I kind of keep in my mind that resonate with me: "Learn to love your ground," from an old Mumford & Sons song...I actually have this painted on my bedroom wall as a reminder to actively learn to love where you are in your life. The second is kind of the opposite, a reminder to dream: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?" which is from a Mary Oliver poem. (But otherwise, I'm kind of a hoarder of reminders.)

Thank you for the tag, ladies (and thanks to anyone who actually made it all the way through)! I would create my own questions for others to answer, but I'm feeling just a bit too sleep deprived to function.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch (and pack for)...and about a hundred naps to catch up on.

Monday, August 19, 2013

One of those weeks

This Monday (not-quite-anymore-)morning, on the cusp of the semester, I'm facing one of those weeks. You know what I mean?

Not in an inherently bad way, but in one of those ways that you know will sink into your bones, drawing out the sort of lifeblood perfectly preserved for lazy summer afternoons and injecting in its place something to force a shaking of the cobwebs. A getting-back-into-the-swing-of-things kind of hurt, with too many emails to send and boxes to unpack. I have a feeling that this time it is going to be worse, a slightly deeper rut to climb out of.

For weeks like this, I'm trying to sink into the soul-soothing for some rejuvenation. Take the moments of peace and grace where I can find them. In belated birthday flowers, in drinking tea out of an imperfect cup made myself. In the speech of another woman that strike just right. (Because, really, what is better for a heart than a beautiful collection of words? I'm not sure I've found anything yet.)

I hope you're finding the things to get you through this week. I hope they're beautiful.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

On the eve of a birthday, some things I've learned

You are allowed to end any relationship that doesn’t feel good. Friendships, romantic interests, even toxic family members. If you can, terminate the ties in a way where you can still be around them if needed. If this doesn’t work, put self-preservation first.

It’s okay to have gaps in knowledge. (spoiler alert: you always will.)

Ask forgiveness from yourself most of all.

Until proven otherwise, give people the benefit of the doubt. It takes less out of you than being angry. This can apply to big things and little. (Ex: maybe the person who stole your parking spot doesn’t have as good of health as you.)

Practice giving kindness to others, even if it’s not always given to you. You will appreciate it more when it is.

Admit when you’re uncertain, whether it’s in a friendship, a job, or a class. Most people won’t mind giving clarification.

Accept that hurt will happen in your life. Don’t try to avoid it at the expense of everything else. Embrace it when you can. Learn what you can. Try to make the things around it worthwhile.

Practice being both in and out of your element. Learn to find a balance of each.

We all need help. Always.

I think that, maybe, “home” is held most in memories and things that we’re always one step off of. It’s okay. You’re not the only one ever to feel lost.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On health; pt. ii (aka: the one in which I cry)

[[part i]]

I spent one particularly miserable vacation in Colorado two years ago.

the view from my sick bed
I call it a "vacation," because that's what it was supposed to be, but it really ended up being nothing close. I was intending to have my first experience skiing with a few friends and acquaintances, but wound up getting sick the morning we left. I didn't think too much of it--I hadn't slept well and have always been prone to motion sickness. I figured eating something and time would help, and I'd be fine. (In retrospect, the pretzel I grabbed in the airport probably didn't help. But that was how I operated: I felt sick, I grabbed a starch.) I ended up spending the entire week in bed, generally feeling too weak to move (altitude sickness probably didn't help, though I drank an inordinate amount of water) and forcing down peanut butter crackers and slices of ham through my nauseous lack-of-appetite. 

Between returning home and leaving for my second semester of school, I saw my gastroenterologist (for those of you not down this road: the fancy term for "stomach doctor"). I lamented my trip and she turned to me and said, "I really think you might be gluten intolerant, or have Celiac disease. I think that might be what's been causing all your problems." (okay, so the quote may be inexact, but I kind of have this moment seared onto my brain.) I fought this. It didn't make any sense, and I didn't want it to. If my overly acidic stomach was the problem, I grabbed a starch (often bread or pasta) to help absorb the excess. That helped, I argued. I took a few pills at the end of the day for control. That was it. And since testing wouldn't be covered by insurance (creating a few hundred dollar bill for potentially negative results), she more or less let it slide. I should try eliminating gluten from my diet for two weeks, she said. That would be as good as a diagnosis. I was going back to school the next day, living in a dorm and eating off a meal plan that left me no control as to how my food was prepared. It wouldn't happen.

A year later, my doctor ordered ALCAT testing. With insurance coverage and a few vials of my blood, they searched for things that had been inadvertently poisoning me my entire life. I wasn't hopeful that these tests would lead to any clear results. When I called back in a few weeks time, scheduling an appointment to go over my results, the nurses told me to stay away from a few things in the mean time: oranges, pomegranate, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds. Nothing else that seemed too common. And I sighed. This wasn't the answer. I rarely ate those things. That was that.

When the doctor handed me my testing results in paper form, it painted a different and overwhelming picture. Columns upon columns of things I couldn't eat or should somehow try to limit sorted into jarring red and orange columns. And, at the very bottom corner of the page, so inconspicuous I didn't see until it was pointed out, a severe intolerance to gluten.

And I cried.

My doctor apologized. That wasn't what she intended to do. This was good news!, she assured me. We could start to move forward.

It didn't feel like it. It felt like a crushing step backwards. And I cried some more.