Looking Backward, Stepping Forward

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

It has been 3 weeks  now since I have been home from college. I managed to get through my third year of college, and my first year at Ithaca. And I am very, very tired.

Going into Ithaca I struggled. I felt incompetent. My brain felt rusted-over from a perturbing semester abroad, and a distressing summer spent working jobs that well, I sure as hell didn’t love. I was hoping, dreaming that Ithaca would be my place, that I would find my people. The strain of the cost of college and being unable to find employment gnawed at me constantly, and I faced an immense fear that I would not do well in my classes and that I would not succeed. But in the end, I pulled through and managed to make Dean’s List. Twice.

While I  had at least come to accept that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was still living in denial. At midterms in October, I pushed too hard, stressed too much and had a painful flare that left me incapacitated. I couldn’t type, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t finish my midterm essay. At the moment, I was frustrated, but there is still an immense wave of frustration and shame. I can’t work the way that I used to anymore. I felt like an alien trapped in my own body.

But I made it and whipped my mind back into shape. I approached the next semester eager and ready for my second round with 18 credits. But within a month, I realized that it was way too much. The cold of CNY winter chilled me to the core. My body, already exhausted from engaging in RA’s driving my immune system into a warp speed frenzy of ‘cannibalistic’ practices tired so easily with the cold. I could sleep for 12 hours a day, and still be sleepy. My class load was more intense, wading deeper into upper-level classes that require more time, thought, and homework I found I had next to no time to socialize. Sleep and School. On top of this, I forgot how cloudy and dreary CNY is, and I felt the lack of sun in my productivity and my overall mood.

There comes a point in all of this that I suddenly realized that part of me regretted my decision to come to Ithaca. That perhaps, I made the wrong choice. As the semester progressed, I realized that while I was making friends, I was making more acquaintances than friends. I felt so incredibly lonely. As an old soul, non-drug/non-alcohol user, who is always incredibly emotionally invested in everything, and a painfully shy introvert posing as an extrovert, I felt like I hadn’t found my people. And I need my people for support. As I thought about reaching out to other friends in other places, I found myself hesitating and stressing over whom to turn to.

I felt super shaken still about grades and academics, and for a few brief weeks seriously considered dropping my second major in history down to a minor. Will I even be capable of grad school, or would my RA reduce me to a dependent, pathetic mess? Which rattled me enough that I became unsure of what it is that  I want to do.

On the brink of despair, I finally admitted that it was time to sit down and see a therapist. So I did. And I will continue to do so in the fall. I still have a lot of mourning and emotional processing to do with my RA. And the first step has been realizing no more  18 credits a semester. The second step had been accepting that I need to exercise and yoga consistently to keep my body strong but to also manage stress and keep it low. Thirdly I need to choose wisely where and into whom I put my time and energy.

I still feel lost, I still feel uncertain, I still feel alone. But I know that I must, that I can, and that I will endure. I know that I will make the most of my remaining classes, and next year will continue to cultivate the good friendships and things in my life. I’ve bought some books on RA to help educate me moving forward. So far this summer I’m already feeling recharged. I’ve been running with my mom and I have been significantly less stressed. I have spent some beautiful moments with some friends that have made me feel loved and supported and capable of taking on the world.

It is difficult some days but I have to keep thinking forward, to not let my pain and new limitations get me down. I can, and I will succeed if I put my mind to it.

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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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