Just So You Know…

This doesn’t make me an unpatriotic American, just a human being with a bleeding heart.

I dread the day the Affordable Care Act is repealed and dismantled. Which seeing as it has passed both in the Senate and the House, is becoming an unfortunate reality.

As an aspiring writer and future grad student(hopefully), I was excited about being covered by my parent’s insurance until I was 26. It would give me more time to not worry about  being in a ‘real’ job, and allow me to pursue art with passion because insurance is expensive and…

…I have medical conditions. My parents’ insurance is generous and helps me afford my doctor visits, but more importantly, my medicine. Without it I. Could. Not. Function. But if the pre-existing medical condition protection clause that fully protects my care, regardless of pre-existing conditions, is repealed (which of course is happening)…

…I’d be spending ~$200 a month on medicine. Not to mention I’d struggle if not be  unable to obtain insurance because of my health conditions. And I have to see specialists so I wouldn’t be able to afford all my doctor visits either.

I’m a 21 year old college student. I should be prepping myself for class, studying for GREs, and perfecting my craft. I shouldn’t be stressing about how to keep my medical costs reasonable, and be thinking about the unfortunate possibilities my future might hold. (Will I have to emigrate? Will I have to take up a job that kills my soul? What if my disease progresses? What do I do if I can’t afford to live?) 

 I’m just one person, and this is one tiny issue. There is climate change, poverty, immigration, class, race, and so many other problems. Progress and the change that come with it can be scary at times, but we cannot regress. Things cannot be the way they were ever again. But we can try to learn, move forward, and find ways to better ourselves and the situation at hand. 

The repealing of this flawed, but progressive and monumental legistaltion will not make my America ‘great’ again. It’ll make it hell.

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.

 

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.

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  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.

The Not so Morning Report

A lot has happened, and not a lot has happened. Its the universal paradox of break/summer. Time flies by rapidly but at the same time seems to drag on ad nauseam.

So I went to orientation. It was okay. I ended up in a triple room all by myself. When we went downtown we took refuge in a bookstore for a few minutes because it was raining. I bought 4 books (“Ulysses”, “The Color Purple”, “Orlando”, and “To the Lighthouse”). I didn’t click with my peers too well, more so with the orientation leaders, but they are trained to get along with everyone, so I don’t know. BUT, most excitingly I signed up for classes. I’ll be taking the full course load but I could not be more stoked about the timing and the classes that I will be taking.

Screenshot (120)Literally, I am so excited. It was also nice that I was the only writing transfer student that day. It allowed the summer adviser to really help me. He was super nice, and helpful. Quite a few of my classes were full and he helped to get the override so that I could get into them.

Work has been work. I like the set hours at the gas station. Also its nice that I basically get to have like 2-3 hours every shift during which I can sit and read. Sometimes more depending on the day. It has already allowed  me to get through 2.5 books so far. And I am managing to get enough hours to get enough money to pay for college. I am just not sure how I am going to work at school (On campus? Off campus? One job? 20,000?), but I still have some time to figure that out. Also, I selected housing with other transfer students. Have no idea who my roommate will be, but I guess I will learn and find out.

As for arthritis, I am doing well. Some days I am tender, swollen, and achy but it is mostly in my hands and is becoming increasingly less common. Keeping busy helps to distract me and keeps me moving. I have been on the medicine about 2 weeks now and I am doing well. My hair isn’t falling out and I don’t have dreams any more vivid than usual (hair loss and vivid dreams are possible side effects, hair loss is linked to certain dosage levels in certain people, and malaria meds are infamous for their vivid dreams). I am still often perpetually tired, but I am sure the long working hours are partially to blame. I got up at 4:30 yesterday as I worked 5a-2p. Talk about gross. As much as I would like to call myself a morning person, I really am an aspiring one right now. But one day.  But I am making it, and it is all going well.

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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