Donation, Service, Making a Difference

In high school I decided, quite brashly, that I was going to change the world.Or at least some peoples’ lives for the better. In community college I began to look into donating blood, with the hope of one day donating bone marrow. Unfortunately I had been possibly exposed to Malaria abroad and had to put off donating blood for a while. I registered as an organ donor. I decided that I wanted to do the peace corp, or some other long term service project abroad.

But sometimes things happen. Like Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I cannot donate blood. Nor Bone marrow. And Β RA is a disqualifying condition for the peace corp. At least my body can still be used for science once I die.

Part of me wanted to make a strong and obvious physical impact on people. Now I realize that since I am unable to do it in the ways that I originally intended that I am going to have to go about changing the world in other ways, in living fingerprints on people’s minds, hearts, memories.

I am going to write and publish. I am going to teach and stimulate the growth of new ideas and dreams. While I cannot offer people the raw, physical resource of myself, I can offer them my time and soul.

Its frustrating when you have plans on how you want to live your life and they fall through. But I am grateful that I still have the capacity to make a difference, and I know that someday, somehow, I will.

Arm Balances and Inversions

While this break I was hoping to get back into my daily yoga routine, I am sad to say it didn’t happen. Between work, the cold, and feeling perpetually drained and exhausted I often lacked the motivation. When I did have the motivation the frustration of my stiffness and the aches caused by my Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t exactly make it a wholly relaxing experience. While my medication has worked for the most part, thank goodness, I still get some stiffness in my wrist. I seriously took for granted how many poses require using your hands and wrists in supporting your body weight.

I have always been afraid of inversions. Something about falling, landing the wrong way and smashing my mind, losing my ability to think the way I do. Now, I’m not sure if I will ever be able to do them. While it is important to keep moving my wrists and hands, to keep up range of motion and strength as best I can. You can’t keep pushing, you’ll cause damage. And needless to say the cold hasn’t exactly helped much. Maybe with a stronger core and some more upper body strength it will come. But I cannot help but cringe of placing all my body weight on my hands.

I am trying not to get frustrated or angry. Trying to stay optimistic. I have been meditating regularly. I finally got myself a zafu and some Mala beads and for 5-10 minutes I sit and try to quite and focus myself. I have been successful with that, but I struggle with consistency. I’ve been working a lot this break. I didn’t have the opportunity to work hardly at all this past semester because of conflicting schedules. I will be this coming semester, hopefully getting at least triple the hours I had last semester. I dream of a day when college students in this country don’t have to work while they study. I dream of a day when I can do inversions. Well, at least arm balances.

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20 Things Learned

  1. No matter how many times you make the transition into a new environment, it is going to be challenging at first. Not just for you but for everyone else involved.
  2. Writing is a skill that if you don’t practice you end up losing.
  3. You can either be a negative and miserable person or you can actively choose to make the best of what you have at hand. I have chosen the latter.
  4. B s are really okay. It is about what you learn, not the 4.0. I really need to keep working on this.
  5. The higher you go in undergrad, the harder it is to work and take classes at the same time.
  6. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis while being in writing intensive majors requires that you not only take care of yourself, but that you are aware of the warning signs of flare ups and know how to deal with and treat symptoms.
  7. No. 6 is easier said than done. Baby aspirin and sleep helps.
  8. Sudden loss and grief is difficult in its own way.
  9. Netflix is the bane, and the light, of every college kid’s existence.
  10. Puppies are capable of more energy and emotional outbursts than a 5 year old child. But at least you can usually convince them to take naps.
  11. Naps are salvation.
  12. Sometimes you cannot possibly do all of the reading.
  13. It is okay to be imperfect, to have flaws.
  14. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” At first I thought it was silly, cheesy. Over used. But, sometimes…
  15. Exercise is a great way of dealing with stress.
  16. Dinning hall food is simultaneously both tasty and gross. Salt is literally your best friend.
  17. Late night gatherings among friends make all the stress of things bearable.
  18. Never underestimate the comfort of your own bed.
  19. You have to keep your chin up. Even when life is kicking you down remember that this cannot last forever. One day things will turn around.
  20. Approach things with an open mind. Seek to learn, to understand. Never assume, never take things for granted.

What Is College?

As I find myself sprawling on my dorm room floor shoveling goldfish down my mouth by the handful, coming down from another verge of hysterical crying, I find myself asking: Is this what college is?

Is it a series of emotional breakdowns always on the horizon, an “objects may be closer than they appear” attached?

Is it cursing the institution for not understanding that 250 sheets of print credits while it sounds like enough is nowhere near enough for literally every single major?

Is it wondering why the fuck girls who wear eyeliner to exercise class? Are smudgey eyes in vogue these days? Should I at least give them credit for caring enough about their appearance to throw on a line of black/brown/peacock blue?

Is it getting stuck on shitty dates and having to split the bill last second and watching a days worth of meager wages vanish in thin air?

Is it feeling confident, and then getting a few lower grades than expected and suddenly having an existential crisis about it?

Is it missing your dogs so painfully and realizing that you cannot function without a dog, or really someone, who loves you so constantly and completely in your life close by?

Is it realizing that you have to fight for yourself, to learn how to advocate for you, to literally get even just a few more pennies for your education?

Having to constantly feel like you have to prove yourself?

Is it the panic of wondering ‘will I graduate on time’? The terror of ‘how can I afford this’? The fear of ‘what will I do if xyz don’t work out’?

How about cramming 4 major papers into a week?

Yes.

BUTT

Its also spontaneous late night romps with your friends in your room.

Spontaneously going to poetry readings and faculty lectures.

Bonding over shitty dinning hall food with people you barely know.

Learning awesome, amazing, mind boggling, downright crazy stuff on the daily.

Realizing you won’t get it all done. That no one does. And hey, its okay.

Growing as a person and an individual.

Realizing that you are awesome, and getting your ass kicked to the next level of awesome because you are awesome and capable of nothing but awesomeness.

Sleep is not for the weak. But if needed is optional for a few days of each semester if used responsibly.

Its realizing teachers are human too.

Its learning that even on the shittiest days when the universe is kicking you while you are down that you can get back up and do it all again.

It is finally understanding what it is you want to do and achieve in the world.

That this, what ever you want to call this, is beautiful.

 

 

The Midway Point

I just realized today that I haven’t written a single post since I have gotten to college. I guess time really has gotten the better of me, in this case. A lot has happened so I guess I will start at the beginning with what I can recall.

The first weeks of school went swimmingly. Of course there were the moments of insecurity, doubt, and sadness that surface when I thrust myself into new places and situations. But I powered through, mainly because once tuition is paid there is no backing out. I really missed my dogs, that has probably been the hardest thing about living away from home for me. I miss their snuggles and being able to curl up with them whenever I need a breather or some love.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into the semester one of our dogs, Zoey, got very sick. Her diagnosis: 3rd degree heart block. The next step would have been to see a doggy cardiologist and then surgery to get a pacemaker. But my parents, seeing the x-rays and her pulse and EKG knew that this was something already far progressed. That’s I think one of the good things about having parents who know medicine, they know when medicine comes short and it comes to enjoying the remaining quality of life. So in the end Zoe was allowed to live out the rest of her natural life. Both T. and I came home from college and got to be with her on her last day. It was hard to see her suffer, it was hard to know this is it. She died at 12:07am on October 4, 2 months and 2 days shy of her 11th birthday. Some days live in infamy in our lives, now I have two. 

I am doing much better now, grief is a steady companion but not overbearing. Its little things, like her popping up in a dream, or tomatoes (For those of you who didn’t know, Zoey had a habit of eating our mother’s tomatoes. Like all of them, no Tomatoes were harvested this summer. They’d be almost ripe and we’d go to get them the next day and they would be gone. In hindsight she probably did this to keep her blood pressure up, as tomatoes, their leaves, and stems, contain a chemical that ups the blood pressure in dogs).

There is still Ginger to be snuggled and loved, and maybe another little sister for her coming soon.

College kicked my butt at first. Being in Costa Rica let me slide in terms of my academic/intellectual thinking, but I have finally got into the swing of it. I am making friends, learning how to not stress about everything, and growing up. I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff and experience things I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I ended up switching out of my History in the News class into A History of American Sexuality class. I have to say, I love it. I really love my majors, even though planning them out causes me a great deal of anxiety at times. Seriously, I had a week long stress fest over the fact that I am not going to be able to finish in 2 years. I could do it in 2.5, but I am applying to do a semester away at a satellite location and get a super good internship down while still doing classes and not having to worry about how expensive they are. Really though, it is upsetting how bad the internship situation has gotten. It is absurd, to say the least.

But anyways, planning for the future is a lot less stressful now. I have my classes laid out for the next semester, and the game plan is set. But as always is bound to change like 5 more ways by Sunday. Here is to taking it one day at a time, mainly because there is always a ridiculous amount of reading to do.

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Zoey’s last stroll around the yard

The End of Another Sumer

Another month, another summer, another school year, another last minute panic scramble attempt at packing. While I am glad to be going and about classes starting again there is still a hint of worry an anxiety that comes with new things. And I have become a terrible homebody as we all know. Well maybe just me, but now you know too. As I sit here I realize how out of shape with typing I have gotten. Like this is mildly painful and exacerbating. Did you know that exacerbating is an annoying word to type?

So where did I leave off last? Well My cousin got married to her superfab fiance. My aunt from DC took me shopping for a dress the day before, because thats how we as a family role. I still don’t know how I feel about weddings. They can be fun, and mushy, and happy, and sad. Also, dancing at them is the bomb. Anyone who argues otherwise clearly doesn’t know how to have fun.

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The Happy Couple

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Me and da Bro. Shout out to the person using flash and taking a picture too and making me look like a ghost

After that it was a lot of working and trying to make time to see people and do things. I ended up playing in a friend’s Symphony Orchestra that he conducted. It was a pretty good concert, ambitious definitely, but it came together marvelously and I enjoyed the experience. Except, playing that much horn ended up exacerbating my hands a bit.

I am finally, praise the entities of the universe, done working for the summer. While I can go back to all three jobs, I only anticipate going back to one for breaks and such. Its the only one I enjoyed and felt fully comfortable in. And while it was nice to amount a few thousand in the bank, paying for tuition, textbooks, and all the small things I needed this fall at one point put me broker than when I got back from Costa Rica. YIKES.

Despite the amount of work I had going on I still managed to go on some family excursions in August. The first was to a privately owned zoo that this guy in a village nearby runs. While like any zoo we got to see the animals, this one was cool because we got to feed them too if we opted. Which we clearly opted to feed the giraffe, because why wouldn’t you? IMG_0223

Zoos are a complicated issue. Are they good? Are they bad? Talking to one of the woman who works there(my parents knew her when she was little because they were friends with her parents), I could definitely see the good, the mission/goal of this small one. The animals are clearly well taken care of, and it allows kids and people who have never seen animals to get a first hand encounter: Up close, personal, and something they will remember. As hundreds more animals become endangered and go extinct, maybe these bonds, interactions, and childhood memories can make a difference in encouraging conservation. But then again you can never predict these things. And who am I to make these bold assertions?

Zoey, one of our family dogs, has had a rough time this summer. The arthiritis in her hips got a bit rough, she couldn’t stand on slippery surfaces in the morning. But with regular exercise and a supplement she seems to be doing a lot better. She also doesn’t stop eating when she is full. Those neurons just don’t seemed to be hooked up. Our dog food storgae container is right at her height and one day after filling it and no one was home she got into it and ate probably around 4 cups of food. Needless to say she was sick that night, throwing up on her walk, in my bed, in her crate. But this carried on into the next day. After a day of fasting though she got better, but had to be jailed off into an easy to clean area where she couldn’t get into any food.

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Zoey in Jail: Does she regret everything? Probably not.

The medicine for my RA seems to be helping. Sure it can make me painfully gassy at times, but that has mostly passed. I do have achy moments and achy days, but nothing terribly excruciating, and if I get up and do things and move about I usually tend to feel better or not notice the pain. But I do notice that I I can have problems opening cans and jars. That standing 12 hours a day does not do wonders for my feet the next day. And unfortunately chocolate and foods that are proceed/contain high fructose corn syrup, tend to exacerbate the discomfort I feel the next day. I am pretty satisfied with my choice of medicine and how I have been able to manage the pain quite well. While sometimes I still feel angry and bitter about it, Its a passing feeling. I have to learn how to deal with the cards I have been dealt. I have been dealt some that have made me swallow my pride, encouraged emotional and charecter growth, resilience, and now life outlook and endurance. Also the fostering of life long healthy habits. I have been running again, and while my feet may not always like it it feels good. And with the yoga I notice a huge improvement in my hands and ankles. Nothing is impossible if you try, right?

I move into college tomorrow and start a JumpStart program. As I like to explain it with my sense of humor, is that it involves sitting in a circle singing kumbayah while making friends. But I actually get to see and do some pretty col things. I am doing the “green Tour” which means I’ll be experiencing nature, farming, and green practices and lifestyles that make up Ithaca. Something I am excited and curious about because of my time in Costa Rica. Then classes will start, I’ll blink, and it will be thanksgiving and time to register for spring classes. Which, includes grammar. So I’ve included one of the more amusing grammatical illustrations that I have found. Because we could all use a giggle or a smirk of a smile. #OxfordCommaForLyfe

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No. 1’s Report

It has been a busy July so far, with no intent of slowing down. But I don’t mind.

I have always like Lana Del Rey. Since I first heard her sing their was something about her voice and her lyrics that just soothe me. I mention this because I find summers sad, and often unbearably lonely. They draw everyone and everything in different directions and while there is downtime and free time to be had, at the same time schedules never match and plans go unrealized. It gets depressing at times, and perhaps I spend way too much time talking to my dogs or catching naps between shifts. But I guess it is important to enjoy it while it lasts. Work, internships, grown-up responsibilities: They seem too close at times. I am excited that I am learning and growing and developing. But sometimes the perpetuation of lazy summers is something I want to never give up. There is a certain nostalgia and feel to them that you always smile about even on the days you are bored to tears.

I paid of my library fees, had an eye exam and picked out new frames, and got my hair cut again. I liked my hairdresser today. She was young and sweet and comforted me with the fact that not all young people enjoy drinking, and not all young people like going out every single night and party hard. I say this because I cannot drink, due to the medication I am on(I am more than willing to elaborate if you ask me personally). I do not mind tagging along, but sometimes I feel very out of place and even strange for not having an alcohol-centric life, and that I never will. That I enjoy and prefer a lot of things over events and gatherings involving it and centering around its consumption. I don’t like it: not the taste nor the way it makes me feel or the way I feel like I am fighting to maintain control of my body. I don’t mind if you do, I just ask you to respect that I don’t like it.

Work is work and if all goes well in the next month (literally, I have like a month until I’ll be panicking about moving in), I will have made enough to pay what I need to for the fall. I will probably end up working in the dinning hall but there are worse things in life. Hell, as I have found out sometimes dinning beat retail in terms of experience and dealing with customer problems. Also, in dinning they don’t require you to shove lines of credit down people’s throats. But anyway, I think i am going to be really happy at and in Ithaca. Another day closer to classes which I am eager to begin and thoroughly excited about. I smile thinking about buying my textbooks. That might make me crazy, but what can I say, I am zealous about education and I so happy to finally begin studying what I am passionate about.

I ran a race on the 4th of July with my mom. A fundraiser one, small, but for Ovarian cancer research. The woman that gave her my current beautiful bedroom set passed about 2 years ago after a long battle with it. We wore a set of our matching shirts(Minions!) and jogged at a nice comfortable pace. It was one of those days that made me love running. They also had a raffle auction and we bought some tickets and I won some hair products.

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Look Ma, I didn’t win a stripper!

This past Sunday I went to Buffalo with my mom to keep her company for T.’s Orientation. On Monday night, we went to Niagara falls, me for the first time. It was a small little town and we walked through the state park and strained with the other tourists to get a view of the falls. We planned to come back the next day and do all the stereotypical things, but as we opened the door of our hotel(more like motel) room to the parking lot it was pouring. So we drove over anyways and first went to the Aquarium. Small but quaint.Then we walked to Canada, in the pouring rain huddled under our one umbrella. It was interesting not only how much cleaner the Canadian side was but more picturesque and inviting. Also, a lot more stuff to do. They also get the better view of the falls. We had some ice cream before we strolled back. I have finally, officially, been to Canada.

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Now if only it wasn’t raining…

I also potted my mint Plant and Lavender today! I am quite proud of myself for growing the lavender from itty bitty little seeds, and for not killing either of them yet. I am hoping to bring one or both to college, hoping being the keyword.

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Started Woolf’s “Orlando” and on deck is Atwood’s “Year of the Flood”. I have finished my fourth Star Trek series and I have yet to begin any others, or even finish The Next Generation Movies. I don’t like the finality of it being over and not being able to ‘tag along’ anymore. Of course I can start all over again, but you can anticipate. And I am sure all of those sucker punches they threw will hurt just as bad as the first time around. Silly as you may think it sounds, Star Trek has gotten me through a lot, and a lot of it rings near and dear to my heart. It has inspired me and aroused my curiosity and I wouldn’t be myself without it. It has spurned a love of sci-fi and perhaps hope in humanity’s future.

At least things like these will never cease to make me giggle.

At least things like these will never cease to make me giggle.