Refraction of Summer

It has been brought to my attention by Sim, that I haven’t written at all in some time now. I know I have been delinquent. I have sat down and tried to write posts but they just haven’t felt right and well, why right if you aren’t sure what to say or feel.

So I will start where I left off. The end of the school year and the start of summer.

The end was agonizing and stressful and by the end, I was such an emotional mess I was relieved to leave. I was thrilled to be home with my dogs, to sleep, and  to be alone and away from people, something that you don’t really realize until you live with strangers and in a dorm. Summer for once seemed like it was going to be a rejuvenating experience.

In some ways it was. I recharged for the school year. I was able to relax and indulge in my love of reading which resulted in my impressive feat of completing 25 books. I spent time with my dogs. I cut my hair short again.

In other ways, it wasn’t. My arthritis flared mildly, and I was in an almost constant state of exhaustion or achiness. I felt incredibly isolated and lonely at times, unable to connect. Without schoolwork to occupy me, my mind sometimes crumbles into an emotional inconsistency and habit of hyper-analysis.

I figured out I’m okay at writing poetry. I took an online poetry class for my major and in the process of producing some material, I realized that I have a lot of things that I need to emotionally process, that I had convinced myself I didn’t need to. As upsetting as it was, it was also soothing to pour everything raw onto the page.

My jobs at home were the same as always, and the tedium didn’t drive me insane. Rather it was the creepy men who forced undesired attention and comments on me while I had to avert my eyes from their profane leers, trying not to scream or become physically ill. People are shitty, people are shitty.

However, my job working at a writing camp this summer helped me solidify confidence in what I want to do (writing and teaching), and it was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. I feel ever more confident about this choice, but at times I still do worry and have uncontrollable moments of stress over whether I am making the right decision and if I am truly following my heart and what feels right.

School has resumed. Already I am drowning in readings. In fact, I should probably be doing some right now. I feel conflicted about how I feel about my classes. As an anal organizer, I need to know the assignments when they are due and the specific parameters. This semester I have several professors that only give out short term schedules a month or so at a time.

In fact, my stress is already going so high through the roof I’ve been in a low to moderate flare since class started. The other day I couldn’t open my bottle of Motrin and I cried. I hated my body. I felt awful that I was never grateful for my good health. My medicine upsets my stomach and I now have to be conscientious of not only what I eat (which is a problem for me because I love food so much) but how much I sleep even the physical activity I do. It makes me feel older than I am. It makes me angry. I try to bear it with grace and dignity but how can you when you never know when you are going to cry over your Motrin bottle?

But on a more positive note, I have discovered the magic of compression gloves. They make it so that I can function and wearing them the other day I was almost ready to weep with joy for I couldn’t remember the last time my hands felt that good. We must delight in the miracles anyway that we can.

 

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Will this food make me flare up tomorrow? Probably. Will I eat it anyways? Probably.

 

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But I am Barely 20…

So some of you may recall I had a weird time with my left foot in Costa Rica. It would swell, on the rare occasion it would hurt but in the end I didn’t do a whole lot about it.

A side by Side Comparison

A side by Side Comparison

It was bad, probably worse than I thought.

It was bad, probably worse than I thought.

But the swelling went away, only to return when I wore certain shoes or walked too much. Of course my mom and I were slightly concerned, but obviously not enough that we felt I should take the plunge and go to the hospital. So my mom set me up for an appointment when I got home. Of course the receptionists and nurses tweaked out and demanded to see me immediately which didn’t exactly put my mind at ease but hey, I had made it that long right?

So my appointment, literally two days after I got home involved not only a slew of blood work, but also an X-ray to see if it was a stress fracture and a sonogram of the leg to make sure I didn’t have a clot. I was panicky. I was hoping it was just a stress fracture and life would be fine. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. I anxiously awaited to see what my test results would be. The results were for the most part negative. Except for on the Arthritis Panel. There was one little anomaly. The speckled pattern, which is supposed to be between 0 and 49 came up as 250. My hand had started swelling and my fingers were sore and inflamed so with heavy heart I went to see the Rheumatologist especially since a family history was in there too.

I was the youngest person in the waiting rooms. It was…strange. The wait was terrible but the doctor informative. We talked about what was going on and possible options and he ordered some more tests. Of course these tests came up just like the last ones (no Lyme, but at least i didn’t have Lupus).

So here I am 20 and 2 months old and I have seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, with Psoriatic Arthritis in my future because it has a very strong genetic inheritance and my symptoms only really appear on the left side of my body. R.A. is an autoimmune disorder. This means that for whatever reason my body has decided to attack its own tissue causing pain, swelling, and in general discomfort.

So here I am. Barely 20 years old and already arthritic (literally, I am becoming a grandma). Fortunately the pain isn’t too bad and usually some aspirin or ibuprofen helps. Long term treatment would be daily medication and I am seriously considering it so that hopefully I am able to curb the disease and prevent long term damage and degradation to my joints, especially because of my hand.  Thats what worries me the most. But we seem to have caught it early and thats good.

I was bitter for a while. Angry at the universe and unhappy. It means I am going to have to be on medication probably for the rest of my life. It will make travel more difficult, especially long term. I feel like some of my dreams and aspirations are now going to be a bit more difficult (Yes hello I need a two year supply of this so I can go do the Peace corps in some remote Mongolian village, OR I’m living in another country indefinitely can you help me with that?). But I know that I shouldn’t let it stop me from pursuing my dream and living life to the fullest. Its just another reason to make sure I take care of myself, physically and emotionally. And get enough sleep at night. RA has a tendency to make you tired, fatigued, and exhausted. Because your body attacking your body is pretty hard work.

Well enough of that. In other news I am no longer leaving the job I was going to leave I got a raise. God, I am such a sucker. So here is to having three jobs. The dogs are doing good and T. graduates from high school in a week. What? I have orientation Sunday and Monday, and I BOUGHT MYSELF A STAR TREK TRAVEL MUG!!!! Am I a total dweeb? YES. Right now I am reading Anne Frank’s Diary and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Up next is still to be determined. Though I now have enough money to pay off my late library fees, so who knows what is next.I have a new found love of Brazil Nuts. I am getting back into the swing of yoga and slowly easing myself back into meditation. I truly forgot how good it feels, and how uplifting it is on the spirit. And down dog does wonders to my hands once I get over the initial discomfort. wellbeing

Ever forward, ever upwards. Some day I will get enough sleep.

One Month Home

So I have been home about a month now, actually a month to the date. I am happy to be home in my own bed, with my dogs, and with my family. But sometimes I miss Costa Rica. It is definitely a place that I will be going back to one day, without a doubt.

Even though my adventures abroad have ended I have decided to continue to blog and update occasionally. How often is occasionally? I have no idea. So try to bear with me.

It was kind of a surprise to actually understand everyone around me, and also the amount of green. Having lived mostly in the city seeing our backyard surprised me, in a good way. And much to my surprise I kinda do miss having Gallo Pinto, especially with cilantro. Not to mention Juice everyday all day. But needless to say, I haven’t really gone through the reverse culture shock as badly as I went through my initial culture shock. Part of me still can’t believe that I just studied abroad for four months.

After who knows how many job applications I managed to secure two jobs. One, didn’t work out but with a job offer that I received yesterday I am able to leave it and move onto one that is a better match for me. I think it is always important to consider the environment and people you are going to be working with. If you cannot laugh and jive, than you’ll be miserable. And life is to short to be miserable. Of course, sometimes we have to take those unhappy circumstances for reasons. Unfortunately our world is still driven by money which means bills to pay and buying necessities. For me? College. I hope that future generations have the opportunity for affordable higher education without the burden of financial stress and crippling debt.

I am getting super excited about college. I have done almost everything I need to do, and orientation is coming up. I am however stressing about classes because for whatever reason, as a transfer student, I am incapable of picking my own classes and figuring out what I should take. But I guess it shows they care, which is more than I can say about where I am coming from. I will be taking a full load, or as close to it as I can get. My desire to double major and specialize while good and ambitious means a tight and full schedule. But to be honest, I kinda like it that way. Hopefully I will be able to make it into the life guarding class with any luck. Which means a lot of swimming this summer but it will be good for me.

I will be working hard this summer, but I do intend to make time for myself and self development. And of course preparing for a new start at a new college, and everything fun that goes with that. Hopefully I will have time for some adventures with friends and family, and I will somehow acclimate to air conditioning.

Genuine Souls and Banana Ice Cream

I have learned a lot in Costa Rica. Not just Spanish and culture and another way of life, but things that are so much  less tangible. I have learned a lot not only about myself but about people too and life and perceptions and everything really. It is hard to put it all into words, even harder into a brief-ish blog, but here goes.

Everything is coming together as everything seems to be falling apart. Here I have seen my social life atrophy in my last month, and while I saw it coming I am okay with it. This last month, as I spend more time alone I have had a lot more time to think about things. I have barely done any journaling in the past four months, something almost completely unheard of for me. But good things are coming up. I find that I am crawling out of my sea of sadness and depression. I am growing stronger, and the world is becoming beautiful. Not to mention all of the opportunities that I have blooming in front of me. I am so excited for the fall, and the most annoying and hard part about getting a summer job is not that I am in short supply, but that I am not conveniently home to easily return phone calls and go to interviews.

I think what I have come to realize most and appreciate are the people who love and care about me. Being so far from home in uncertain waters you have to reach out when you are lonely, something I have always been terribly afraid to do. I have such wonderful Beautiful souls in my life, who love me, care for me, and seek to uplift me. Even though everyone home is 2000 miles away, I have still managed to have their support, love, and have deep and profound and sometimes downright silly conversations. Laughing and smiling with them, despite the distance, is so important.

In Costa Rica I have many a lot of different people. People I hate, People I find intriguing, and People I genuinely like and adore. I have met people who lead different styles of lives and who have different priorities than me. While I have always prided myself in being open-minded it has been difficult here. At times it has been overwhelming how much I have not liked, whether it is people, food, or things. In the process I have learned that it is okay to not like everything, in fact it is impossible to like somethings. What is important is that you try to understand, keep things in perspective, and be patient. We are all learning, we are all on different planes of existence, and all have different paths leading in different directions.

And, I too have come to realize that I am a beautiful, genuine soul too. That when I choose, I let it radiate out of me in my heart, words, smile, and confidence. The process of self love is a hard one, but I feel like I am making strides here. I will always find people with whom I connect and celebrate my life with. Sometimes, you just have to accept that they may not be in the places that you are looking.

In the end, in my opinion, you can always tell the true character of a person by how they treat a dog or by their favorite book. Dogs because well I love dogs. And if a dog doesn’t like you it is for good reason, they can sense your fear or hate or malevolence. And what reason could you possibly have for treating a dog with anger, cruelty, hate, and fear? Sure it is okay to experience them, but how you act and manifest those feelings is what counts. If you can treat an animal mean, what is to stop you from treating me the same way? As for books, choosing to give into helping create a post-literature society is alarming. I don’t care if your favorite book is “The Cat in the Hat” for the love of the world take the time to exercise your literacy. Choose to be educated and aware. With literacy you have greater control of your circumstances, of your fate.

My Experience in Costa Rica has really been a bowl of Banana Ice Cream. It sounded exotic and interesting at first, and while apprehensive I was eager to try. Then I came, nosed around and discovered that I didn’t like banana ice cream as much as I thought I would and had 3 more months of it. So I tried avoiding it, actively disliking it. But then, I discovered that I do like banana ice cream, with a hint of chocolate. Homemade and fresh. But I am dreaming of chocolate fudge brownie with dinosaur sprinkles.

[In case you failed to grasp or care for my explanation of above metaphor let me elaborate. I was really excited about Costa Rica, and for about the first month I was pretty okay, but then it wasn’t. It was hard, and I was bitter and critical. But in the end I found out how I like to travel(solo or in small numbers), that I liked certain activities and places, and how to cope with all of the drastic changes in my life (Star Trek, Reading, and Ice Cream). Even though I am excited to leave I am still a little sad to go.]

I really like solo travel I have come to decide. You meet new people, it can be incredibly uncomfortable, and yet all the same this solitude has made me that much stronger, that much more resilient to everything. Sure there is always going to be that flutter of panic, that edge of anxiety. But you can let it control you, or just roll with what things happen. You have to go out and take the initiative sometimes. In the end it can be re really rewarding, like learning your favorite type of bird is a toucan.

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The Uneventful Weekend

This weekend was for the most part uneventful. I didn’t go anywhere really and I spent a good chunk of it sleeping, but I needed it. Constantly listening to another language is exhausting and I had a lot of things that went on last week including two major tests and a quiz.

But even though i lazed around I still accomplished things. I applied to 6 jobs in one day, bumping up te number of places that I have applied to 16. Someone has gotta hire me right? Well I hope so anyway. Its hard to say which job I’d like the most or where I want to be. I don’t have a lot of things I really feel like I have to do this summer except I do want to make a quilt for when I go away for college next year. Also making a blanket and a braided rug would be nice too but we cant have everything now.

I went out to dinner with a friend on Saturday, and on Sunday went with her to the farmers market. This time I bought bananas, 6 mandarin oranges and a large container of strawberries. Again for an ammmaazzzing price. I wish there were some water apples (Manzanas del agua). I have been looking to see if they were around but no such luck yet. What is a water apple? Think of the texture of a peach mixed with the taste of an apple. Its something liked that. Very sweet, very juicy, and very good. Then of course we had to buy American fast food and ice cream at the multiplaza before trudging home.

Spanish is an uphill battle, like running up the mountain only to realize it was flat to only realize you have a cliff to scale. It is horribly frustrating at times. Like today learning the difference between por and para. I said ” She went to the beach for sunbathing” using por, because thats the reason she went, only to be told no. By a substitute that made you feel stupid if you had the wrong answer. Unfortunate, and frustrating because now I get to teach myself what was supposed to have been taught in class. It is always soooo aggravating having the people who know it rush everyone else along, and even though they aren’t in the majority it was them who the teacher listened to.

I am nervous about my grades for this semester because I am not doing anywhere nearly as well as I normally do. Language acquisition is hard and really should be spaced out over time so that you have the time to fully grasp the material and the concepts. Lesson learned. My only hope is that the colleges I am applying to understand that and that it doesn’t negatively impact me and my scholarship money.

What else, I still love my short hair, I dream about cooking myself food, and try to make the most out of every day and experience. 6 weeks, 5 days till my plane ride home.

Also, Say hello to Albercicio!

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