Sensory involvement in comfort

I love Sunday mornings. This was not always the case, however, when I was a child and into young adulthood I was dragged to church every Sunday causing me to loathe Sunday mornings. My father would come into my room every five minutes telling to wake up, he would turn on the lights and if I would still lay unresponsive he would sometimes resort to yanking the covers off of me. I hated that. Church was more than a chore, it was an hour of torture. I stopped going sometime after turning 18 I think, I know it was my late teens.

I didn’t really start to appreciate Sunday mornings again until after I moved out and was living in my second apartment. I was single in a cute one bedroom near downtown, it was wonderful (the apartment and that time in my life). Every Sunday I would wake up early, grab whatever book I was involved in at the time and go to the local Starbucks for coffee and a croissant. I would sit for hours in one of their comfy leather chairs and drink my coffee as I read. When I started dating Todd we would go together sometimes if he had stayed over Saturday night. It was relaxing and very fulfilling.

When Todd and I moved into our rental in College Park together I would wake up every Sunday and have my coffee in my reading room, many times while posting to this very blog. I loved that room, it was my favorite in the house. I would sit and watch the squirrels and the bluejays out the window. We had a family of bluejays living in the Laurel Oak tree in our front yard at that house.

Now in our new house I get to sit on my love seat in the sunroom and greet the morning. I do this most mornings at this house but there is something about Sunday mornings that I enjoy most. This particular Sunday Todd has to work, which I am not exactly happy about but it does leave me with a qiet house which is nice. I like things to be quiet in the morning.

All of this is just a lengthy introduction for what is actually on my mind this morning. I was sitting thinking about what makes me enjoy Sundays so much and what made me dread them in the past. I started thinking about smells and sounds and tastes, which led me to wondering about the sensory elements involved with good moments and memories versus bad or unpleasant.
For example, I love the Out of Africa soundtrack and play it all the time in the house when I am cooking, doing chores, art, or having guests over. The reason is because when I was a girl my Mother would always put on this soundtrack before my Aunt and Uncle would come over to visit. I always looked forward to their visits. I remember she would have the lighting down in the house and everything just felt very at ease so this soundtrack has always put me in a good mood and made me feel calm.

I thought about this more and compiled a partial list of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes etc that I find comforting.

The smell of coffee
The Out of Africa soundtrack
The sight and sound of wind rustling through the tree branches
Lighting from lamps versus overhead lighting
Natural light from open windows
Apple cinnamon tea boiling on the stove
Mint and Eucalyptus
Mockingbird songs
Dark storm clouds
A slight chill in the breeze from an open window
Daylight peeking through the shade of a canopy of trees
Leaves falling off trees after a gust of wind
Croissants
Raspberries and Bananas
Heavy rain with thunder

Christmas in July

Now that we are reaching the end of our first week in the new house and things are being set up and put away all I can think of is how much I am looking forward to our plans for the next few weeks. I get so excited for plans with Todd I feel like a kid on Christmas all year round.

Yesterday was our 2 year anniversary so tonight we are going out for date night to celebrate. I love date night with Todd, we have so much fun together.
This weekend we are going to do some projects around the house, our first weekend as home owners working on our home.
Next week is my niece’s 3rd birthday and July 4th.We are celebrating July 4th at our house. We are going to bar-b-q, play out door games and watch the downtown firework display.
The following week Todd’s friends from back home will be here to visit, I have been excited for months about them coming. I love spending time with his friends, they are so fun and he is so funny with them.
The last week of July Suzie and I are hosting a girls-night-in together. Wine and games with a bunch of girls, it will be fun.
The first weekend in August in Lollapalooza so we will be in Chicago and then we will visit Todd’s family for a few days.
When we get back Stephanie will be having her baby shower.

By September things should be slowing down for a little while, at least until October.

Relational expiration date

This morning before class one of my classmates was explaining to me how he has become fed up with his current work situation due to unethical behaviour he has witnessed by other employees. I was able to easily relate, I think everyone can. There are all different kinds of people in the world so it is inevitable that we are going to work with someone or maybe multiple people who rub us the wrong way for one reason or another. This is common place but when it becomes an issue is when you start to feel that your association with these people or maybe even the company compromises your core values, that is when it might be time to reevaluate things.

I have learned over the years of employment and relationships that my expiration date is usually somewhere around the three-year mark. Something happens around this time in any situation of employment or in the course of a personal relationship (be it romantic or social) that the other shoe drops. Usually cracks will appear before this time and I will attempt to patch them because you don’t just walk away from something the second you encounter a problem, you work on it. I think a few years in though it becomes clear how things really are. All the niceties are swept away at that point and there is no more sugar-coating for better or worse “it is what it is”. The question is, once you get to the point of being able to see behind the curtain and knowing exactly who a person is or what a company really stands for/how they operate, are you still on board?

I think the answer to that question depends on what you are willing to compromise. For me, I am not willing to compromise customer service/patient care to meet a bottom line. In relationships I am not willing to compromise my self-respect for someone elses ego. These are just examples of what I have experienced in the past.

For me I think the hardest tie to break when talking about this kind of thing is with friends. Romantic relationships in my opinion are much easier to break off because you have that thought in the back of your mind “ca I see myself spending the rest of my life with this person” or “can I put up with “X” behavior for the rest of my life”? If you ever find yourself answering that question with a No, an end is usually soon to follow. The same can be said about giving notice with an employer, if you are miserable than you it is likely you are going to move on rather than remain miserable. Walking away from a friendship for some reason is much more complicated.

I have certainly done it over the years, my friendship shelf life is much longer than the typical three-year mark however. I think this is true partly because I do not have almost any casual friendships. There are the people I know from work, school, the neighborhood etc who I consider acquaintances and then there are people who I have invested in over the years who I consider friends. There isn’t much space in between. I guess I just feel like casual friendships take up too much time and energy and feel a bit superficial. I mean to me that is almost the definition of a fair weather friend, someone who is only around when things are good, they don’t know the real you I’d say.

What I have found is that you really have to push me for me to write you off as a friend. It takes a while for me to really develop that bond with someone and call them a friend so I don’t take it lightly and I hold on to it pretty fiercely. The few times I have cut off a friend were almost all related to honesty issues (major ones where trust was obliterated) or value issues. My friends are not perfect, like me, they make mistakes and have errors in judgement but I know who each one of them are at the core so a moral slip up here and there changes nothing of how I feel about them. I cannot say this about these few that I have had to end communication with over the years. I know that they are still good people on some level because I believe everyone is and I have it in them. There are just somethings I cannot stand by though and that is when it is important to remember “no reason to stay is a good time to leave”.

“Behind these emotions there is a sensible heart”

This lyric by City and Colour has always symbolized how I feel about my experiences with anxiety and depression. I want to share part of my personal story about struggling with depression and anxiety as a testament that it does get better. I have a friend who I know is struggling with a series of misfortunes in life right now and one thing that the friend says helps in all of it is not feeling like they are in it alone. So here is to suffering together. After all, it is better than suffering alone.

I was 27 when one of the most important men in my life died. One minute he was in the hospital for what seemed like a heart episode of some sort that was not serious and the next he was in and out of a medically induced coma. I carried a lot of regret after his death about how I spent his days with him. The day he went to the hospital I called out of work and went to see him. Everything seemed normal, no need to be alarmed was what I was hearing. My last words with him were about the jello he was eating and how work was going for me. I only spent about 20 minutes at the hospital that day even though I had the rest of the day off. Had I known that would be the last time I would hear his voice I would have done everything I could have to soak it in. He died a little over a week later, it may have been close to two actually. One day while I was there he was in and out of sleep, he close his eyes for a matter of minutes and does off just to wake moments later with the most terrible look of panick on his face. I knew by that look that he was afraid to fall asleep because he was afraid of not waking up again. I think he knew how bad things were and was just fighting as best he could to hold on. I wasn’t there the night he passed, I opted not to make the drive that night and planned to come the next morning. Well for him the next morning never came. I drove out as soon as I heard and even though I know that he was in a coma and would not have been aware of my presence anyway, I had regret.

Things had already begun to unravel in other areas of my life, his death was the accelerant on the fire that was my deepening depression. At one of my lowest points I went into my closet and ripped every pair of jeans I own off the shelf throwing them across my room while crying hysterically. I was so sensitive and out of control of my emotions that the slightest thing would cause me to become unhinged and I would scream and cry and curl up in a ball in my walk in behind my hanging clothes. I did not sleep, I did not go out, I avoided friends and phone calls. Rock bottom was Christmas that year. It is the one thing after all of this that I still have not been able to forgive myself for, even though I have been forgiven. Without elaborating on the details, I left my then boyfriend in an empty plaza parking lot on Christmas after a nasty fight we had on our way to my parents house. Even though everyone involved (including -miraculously- my then boyfriend) has completely forgiven me and said it was not my fault I still feel sick when I think about my actions. I know now and I even knew then I was out of control. I was hurting so much and nothing/no one could help me, or so I thought.

An amazing counselor and an Rx for Lexapro saved me from myself. The support I received from my family and loved ones played a huge role as well. None of this would be true though if I did not choose to do something about it. That is what I did not see during the worst of it, I had a choice to make. Get help, admit I am having trouble and need help or struggle through, ruining everything good left in my life along the way. It was the hardest thing I have ever lived through but getting through to the other side was worth every awful moment of it. Things did not end up working out with the person I was dating at the time but everything ended well and we still keep in touch. We had many long talks after our break up and once I was feeling better. I am so thankful for his kindness and patience through it all. He was so willing to forgive me for everything, his biggest concern was that I was OK. I am so lucky that I was with such a good person during such a difficult time.

I have been able to forgive myself for most of what happened during this period of my life, with the exception of my behavior on Christmas, I am still working on that. Most importantly I learned so much about myself and my anxiety triggers because of this experience. I am a better girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister and person because of all of this which makes it impossible for me to feel total regret about what happened. I am thankful for what I learned and how far this new self awareness has allowed me to come, I do wish I could have managed this without hurting anyone along the way though.

The hardest part during all of it was that for the first time in my life a piece of me thought, “it’s not going to get better”. I have never questioned that before. Whenever anything major has gone wrong in life that is what has always gotten me through, knowing without a shred of doubt that things will get better again, this is only temporary. The losing hope and the feeling of being utterly alone in it all is what broke me. I would never wish that on anyone but I know that even as I type these words someone out there, multiple someones for that matter, are feeling that way. To you I say, things will get better again. Life is not easy, that is what makes it so worth while. The struggle is just part of the journey and when you look back at it later you will be grateful for it if for no other reason than to be able to say, “I survived this”.

Ear Rape

Something I have noticed since being back in school is that the generation of echo boomers which I belong to is FILLED with over-sharers. Has anyone else noticed this? I definitely noticed it a few times while still on FB but it was never too bad. What I have witnessed at school is on another level. I notice it more with younger females than any other group. I pretty much chalk it up to an immaturity issue which for right now they don’t have a lot of control over, I am willing to bet (as much as this pains me) that at 18 I was the same way. With this in mind, I can’t really get up on a high horse with this particular topic. I have to admit though, this quality is incredibly annoying!

My first semester back in school there was a 17-year-old in my Government class that wouldn’t allow the instructor to lecture for more than a few minutes (literally) without interrupting him with a personal story of some sort. The worst part, HER STORIES HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT WE WERE DISCUSSING IN CLASS. She was so self-absorbed! I don’t think she even paid attention to the lectures, how could she? Everything she babbled on about made no sense.

There has been at least one over-sharer each semester that has made me want to stab myself in the ear with my no. 2. Last semester it was Anthropology, same deal. She was constantly interrupting with personal anecdotes that just were not relevant. I really think these girls just like to hear themselves speak. The one from first semester was also a bit of know it all who ironically did not in fact know-it-all. So that was twice as annoying.

This semester is no different. Every time the Professor starts a topic this girl’s hand shoots up. To me these people are the epitome of the idiom about not being able to see past the end of your nose. Do they really think they are the only ones in a class of 20+ people, some of whom are 35+ years old so would undoubtedly have more life experience, that are able to relate to what the Professor is talking about? No, dummy. The rest of us are just polite enough to let the Professor complete his train of thought without making it all about us.  This is not to say that the rest of us don’t interact and participate, we absolutely do, but when he asks for it not every time he takes a breath in a sentence. The other thing that bothers me about people who do this is how awkward it makes everyone else feel. You can see it on the Instructor’s faces when they are dealing with this kind of person and trying to be polite about the constant frivolous interruptions. Some of them aren’t so polite about it, that’s when things really get uncomfortable but either way, your story is annoying enough plus we have to endure the look of pain on the Instructor’s face every time your called on.

Examples of said ear rape:

– Topic of discussion is Thomas Jefferson. Topic of over-sharer’s story is her Aunt’s experience working for DCF. (No Lie).

– Topic of discussion is Stages of Sleep. Over-sharer has story about how a high school teacher would wake up sleeping students, another story about how her parents have PTSD, another about how she doesn’t need more than three hours of sleep, another about how she can sleep through her bedroom being vacuumed, another about how she can sleep with the lights on and another about how she talks in her sleep. (Not really sure how the Professor got a word in edgewise).

– Topic of discussion is Memory, specifically the effects on memory after injury to the hippocampus. Over-sharer’s hand shoots up and flails desperately until called on, shares a story about an episode of Sponge Bob she watched involving him deleting all of his memory except fine dining experiences.. “And then there were a bunch of Sponge Bob’s running around in his head trying to find the file and yea, it was hilarious”.. (I lost two minutes of my life I will never be able to get back because of this ninny).

While all of this is more of just superficial nonsense what is really bad is the over-sharers that hit you with heavy emotional baggage after knowing them for all of a minute and a half. (Or those who want to share about their sex life etc.. Ick). This recently happened to me in a public restroom, I kid you not. So, first of all the “minute and a half” thing would be an exaggeration for this story. I do not know this person well but I had spent time with her on two different occasions before this incident occurred. Keep in mind, however, that on the two other occasions we spent time together were in group settings, entering the women’s restroom together was the first official time I had ever been alone with this girl.

I met this girl out a few weeks earlier and after finding we had a few things in common we exchanged numbers to make other plans together in the future. So on this night we were downtown with other friends, we had been drinking, she more than I apparently, (I am a social drinker in that I hold the same beer most of the night to appear social). When we went to the restroom together she is in the stall next to me and starts unloading on me (in slurred speech) about how she has had a hard life and so many obstacles to overcome and her Dad is dying and Mom has a disease and so on.. How do you respond to this?! We are in a public restroom not my house or a private dinner where the flow of conversation has led to these topics naturally coming up. Nothing feels appropriate as a response in times like these. You say, “Oh I’m sorry to hear that” but it’s just uncomfortable and often sounds phony no matter how much you mean it. To make matters worse, I am pretty sure she wanted  me to reciprocate by divulging personal information about myself. Um no. I keep my cards close to my chest. I can know someone for years before revealing anything like that.

I just don’t get it. I think it just goes back to our generation being so egocentric. We think everyone wants to know everything about us. Wrong. I am no more interesting than the next girl and I am well aware of it. The things that I have experienced in my life have been experienced by countless numbers of women before me and will be experienced by countless numbers of women after me, I am not unique or special in this way. I am not against sharing though, I think it is important to be able to be vulnerable and trust others with your feelings. I think it is important to tell your story, it can be therapeutic if there is something you are trying to work through. All of these things are good, it’s just a matter of appropriateness. Your therapist is an appropriate person to share the gory details not a class full of people who are unsuspecting and unable to leave if they do not want to hear. At your home with your boyfriend would be an appropriate place and person to have these personal talks with, not the public restroom with a new acquaintance that doesn’t even know your last name yet! Or even something as simple as a Blog over FB. This is my personal Blog a much better platform to share than on FB that is intended for pictures and reconnecting with friends from high school etc.

You know, I laugh as I write this because it’s silliness really. This is not a serious issue by any means, it is more of a faux pas. Ear rape happens to all of us at one time or another.

How to Die in Oregon and other titles

This weekend we painted at the new house and started moving our belongings over. Our official move date in next Monday but I will spend most of the week moving boxes.

Thursday night Todd and I watched Religulous. It is a documentary Bill Maher did in which he interviewed members of different religious organizations asking them why they believe in the absence of proof.  We liked it. For me it’s not about believing or not believing I just cannot get behind organized religion. It’s just a product I can’t buy no matter how they try to package and sell it.

I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately. I have had a little more time on my hands this summer since my course load is lighter than a normal semester and I have found that day time television is for the birds. I never knew this previously, given that I was always working or at school. Evening television isn’t anything to write home about either for that matter but it’s really of no consequence because we don’t watch a lot of that either.

Here is what I have been watching:

First Circle, which documents specific examples of the inner workings of the Foster Care system in selected parts of the nation. Although I found this documentary to be limited and highly subjective I still enjoyed it.

Lost Angels, this documentary follows different members of the Skid Row community as well as the Social Workers and volunteers that help with aid in the community. I really enjoyed this one. It’s easy to become attached to the individuals as they tell their stories. I think so many people get caught up in the stigma that is associated with the homeless that they forget that the homeless are people too. Citizens of this country just like the rest of us.

Though my favorite documentary of late is How to Die in Oregon. Awesome film about Euthanasia. I have been a supporter of legalizing Euthanasia for years. To me the issue is similar to that of abortion, I understand it’s not for everyone but medically speaking I think it’s always good to have options. You don’t like it? Then don’t do it. But who are you to prevent someone else from dying a peaceful death if that is their wish especially if they are faced with a very grim alternative. I cried through most of it but to me that is the sign of a good documentary, make me feel something. It’s hard not to be impacted by this one, especially if you are socially minded like myself. It was sad to watch what some of the people in this documentary had to endure but I was also angered that in some cases it could have been avoided had euthanasia been a legal option for the patient. You hear people talk about whether it is moral or ethical, I feel like hiding behind those words what is really being said is “this is against my religion”. The blurred line between religion and state drives me crazy. I believe in religious freedom but it is not fair that those religious beliefs should have so much influence on the political process. We give our animals and convicted felons who have death sentences a more humane means to an end than we do terminally ill patients just looking for options. All these patients want is to die with dignity. I can appreciate that, if I had my way I would want to go out on my terms too.

Technology Zombies

I realize that at times on this blog I post more about my daily life than I do about actual school and school related topics. As the whole purpose of the blog is to keep a record of my experiences as a returning college student ten years later I would like to use this post to point out some observations I have made about the younger generation of College students. (And society in general)

*Disclaimer: Prepare for a bit of a rant. You have been warned.*

It appears to me that the zombie apocalypse has already begun. Case and point:

mobile-phone-zombies

Let me begin by acknowledging that some of my friends lovingly tease and refer to me as a bit of a grandma for being “anti-technology”. This is not entirely true but here are the facts.

– I don’t have a Facebook account
– I only text when I need a quick answer on something and my first reaction to receiving a text is annoyance especially if it is frivolous

– I am next to impossible to reach by phone as I rarely have it on my actual person
– When I go out I rarely take my phone
– I hate checking my voice mail so I rarely do, once a month at most
– I also hate bothering with my email, however I do check it at least once every few days

I don’t feel like any of this is that abnormal though. Am I really the only person  that finds it annoying when my phone goes off while I am involved with something else? To be clear, when I say text messages and phone calls annoy me it’s not the person on the other end I am annoyed with, I just don’t like to be pulled away from whatever is going on. Whether I am spending time with someone or doing school work or art or having dinner etc. When I hear my phone go off it just feels like a whip is being cracked. It is hard to explain this without sounding like a hermit. It’s not an anti-social thing, I just like to be present in whatever it is that is going on at the time. This is also why I do not like FB. I realize some people are balanced about it but for the most part I think FB is completely ridiculous.

Examples of said ridiculousness:

 – Posting pictures of puppies or kittens you do not own every 25 minutes.- RIDICULOUS.

– Posting where you are going and what you are doing at all times.- I mean maybe it’s neat if you are currently visiting the pyramids but do you honestly think that anyone cares that you are going to the gym or to target to buy socks? RIDICULOUS.

– To accompany the last example, tagging yourself all over town. – Again, if you are meeting Obama for coffee at Barnes and Noble, that I think could be deemed worthy of a tag but your average Friday night downtown? What are you trying to prove, that you actually have a social life? RIDICULOUS.

– Posting to your FB as if it is your personal diary. – This is particularly gag worthy to me. RIDICULOUS.

– Inundating everyone on your friends list with your political views and closed-minded (often un-researched) opinions on social issues.-  Barf. RIDICULOUS.

– Constantly posting “selfies”. – I hate that our culture has become so self-absorbed that there is a term for that. RIDICULOUS.

– Posting EVERY 30 MINUTES how much you love your life and your kids and your husband and your dog and how everything is magical and perfect and life is nothing but rainbows and ice cream cones.- Ok, we get it, your happy. But you know what that makes me really think? Your on the verge of divorce and your kid is going to grow up with a complex because you spent more time glued to your phone posting to FB than actually engaging. RIDICULOUS.

There is so much more I could say but I am sure I have made myself sound like a cynical harpy so I will step off my FB soap box and digress.

I will say this though, it is apparent that we as Americans (especially the younger generation) are becoming zombie-like. We are hypnotized by TV and internet for hours on end. We walk around in a trance like state glued to our phones and other technological devices completely oblivious to anything.

Since being back in school I cannot count how many times before a class starts I have heard mindless chatter about this or that on FB. Professors have to lay down rules about cell phone usage during class. You paid to be here, tune in and disconnect from your phone for 90 minutes. Is is that hard? Really?? On more than one occasion a professor has asked the class “if you left your cell phone at home would you turn around and go back for it?” A simple Yes or No would suffice but every time I hear responses like “Oh I can’t LIVE without my phone”. Really? So you are telling me that your heart would stop beating and your entire body would shut down if you go more than  ‘X” amount of time without your phone? And you don’t see this as a problem?  OK. I mean, to each their own I guess. Who I am to judge? (Although yes, I am aware that this entire post is seeped in judgement).

I have elaborated more than I typically would on such a silly topic. But that’s just it I guess, I find all of this to be a bit silly. I guess I just find the current state of things to be a bit discouraging.

Time to move

The closing on the house is scheduled for tomorrow at 10. It’s funny how something can seem so far away and then in an instant it is upon you. I am excited to have it done. I started packing two weeks ago and at this point our entire home is filled with packed boxes. Although I am glad the work is done so I am not trying to pack at the last minute it makes the house feel cold. Even as I sit here at my desk I feel so uninspired. All of my beautiful art, my books, my notebooks, flowers, picture frames all gone. Packed in some sad looking brown box.  I have been avoiding my reading room since I packed it up. Even with all of its windows and pretty natural light it feels cheerless.

Well anyway, here I sit. Even though this room is far less stimulative than before I can’t help but day-dream about the weeks to come. Tomorrow after closing we are going to Sherwin Williams to pick up the paint for our master bedroom and bath as well as the guest room. I have chosen Mindful Gray for our bed and bath and Rain Washed for the guest room. Most importantly though, I have gotten Todd’s seal of approval on both. (This can at times be tricky as Todd lacks the imaginative/creative gene at times). After we get all the necessary supplies we will go to the new house and start taping the walls to prepare for the paint party on Saturday. I can’t wait. I love painting anyway but having company while doing so makes it that much more fun. Over the course of the next two weeks we will move all the boxes over and then at the end of the month we rent a Uhaul to move the furniture.

I am eager to get everything set up and feeling like home. I don’t like the transition period where everything is undone and feels upside down.

An accident and a death

This post is light and dark and not at all what I was planning on writing about today but you know what they say about best laid plans.

Light: Last night Todd and I were online paying for another 3 months on my student health insurance when we read in the policy that I cannot re-up until next school year. Todd was not happy because this leaves me uninsured for 2 months. I am not thrilled about it either but we don’t have many options so I promised him I would be extra cautious for the next few months and not do anything risky that could cause injury.

So this morning I got up at my normal time, 7:45, washed my face, rushed through breakfast, got dressed and ready to walk out the door. I had a test in Psychology this morning and on mornings I have tests I like to arrive EXTRA early to re-read the chapter. I already arrive about 45 minutes before class usually anyway but on tests day I like to give myself about 90 minutes of quiet study time. Todd and I were ready to leave the house at the same time so we walked out the front door together and as he was locking up I started down the stairs and became air-born!

It has been raining everyday for over  a week and our front deck is incredibly slick, I don’t think it was sealed properly when the landlord had it originally installed. What is really ironic is that I am always warning Todd to be careful on the deck after a rain because I am afraid he will fall, then here I go crashing down the stairs. He was sure to mention this fact after I was ambulatory again. So back to the fall, I slipped on the first step and both feet to went out from under me causing me to land smack on my back between two steps. It felt like my spine broke in half. For at least a few seconds I thought I was severely injured. I rolled off the steps on the ground and onto my stomach as Todd ran to my aid. I laid there moaning for a good minute before I attempted to stand. That was by far my worst fall ever, not at all my most dramatic but it definitely hit the top of the pain scale. When I was finally able to stand Todd pointed out that I was covered in dirt and debris so we took me back inside and got me changed. When I took off my top we realized how bad the damage actually was. I scratched my lower back real good and there is a raspberry on my spine, I can already feel the bruise forming. So I redressed, popped a few Advil and back out the door we went. I really need to work on my attention to detail.

Dark: Yesterday morning while I was brushing my teeth I heard a helicopter over head. This is not uncommon, we live around the corner from a large hospital that has a helipad so we do frequently hear them coming and going. Not to mention, we also live around the corner from one of the largest highways in Florida and because we are near downtown there is constant traffic back ups so there are regularly news helicopters overhead reporting on traffic as well. Needless to say, the sound of helicopter in the morning is not unusual. What did strike me as unusual, however, is that it sounded as though this helicopter was hovering directly over the house. After a few minutes of this I called to Todd and asked what he thought, he assumed it was just another traffic problem. When I finished brushing my teeth I turned on the news to check, and nothing. We watched the local news while Todd ate his breakfast, still nothing, but now even an hour later it sounded as though this helicopter was squat on top of the house. At 9 we had an appointment with a general contractor at our new house to discuss some renovations we want to have done so we left. An hour later Todd drops me back at the house and we see the helicopter still circling near the house. When we got a look at it we noticed the colors on it were blue and white, those are the colors of the hospital around the corner so we decided it was probably just some kind of training we exercise and left it at that. After Todd left I went inside, changed and started to make my breakfast when I heard Todd’s ringtone going off on my phone. (I don’t like it when he calls me right after he has left for work. Not because I don’t like to hear from him, I always like to hear from him, but Todd is a creature of routine, when he breaks his routine I assume something is wrong. Of course this moment of brief anxiety is always unwarranted as it is typically just that he forgot to tell me something or wanted to remind me of something else).  This time was no different. He was calling to tell me he figured out what the helicopter was for. He said that when he was turning off our street on to the main road (the main road is only two houses down from our house) he saw that a few houses up from us on the main road there were multiple police cars and yellow crime scene tape. He said upon realizing this he took a closer at the helicopter to find that it was a police helicopter not one from the hospital. My immediate response was that they must be doing a man hunt if they have the helicopter up, Todd did not agree. He advised me to lock up and we disconnected.

Yesterday as I did things around the house and worked on school assignments I kept the local news on in the background. Sure enough at 4:00 they broke in with a report of a homicide in College Park. The suspect was still at large and the police were conducting a man hunt. The news didn’t have many details to share. they showed a picture of the suspect and displayed his name but as far as how the victim died, what time etc, they said nothing. I texted Todd immediately and as I expected his response was just to stay inside and lock up. As of this morning’s new broadcast they still have not located the suspect.

When I returned home from class today one of my neighbors from down the street was out at our intersection with the main road checking things out. The police cars are still at the house in question with their lights on and it seems that whole block has been cordoned off with crime scene tape. As I walked up to the house my neighbor stopped to talk to me about it. Neither of us had information to share that the other did not know and agreed that we hoped this was not a home invasion. This is a sad situation no matter what but selfishly, it would give me piece of mind to know this was premeditated or personal in some way and not a home invasion or a random act of violence. There is no way Todd would be able to get out of a security system if that were the case.

Food I wear

Todd and I were catching up in the kitchen last night while I was making dinner and then BAM it happened. The same thing that always happens when I am within three feet of any kind of food, I was suddenly covered in it. To my friends and family this is common place. I rarely make it out of meal without adding a new color to a blouse or skirt. Thank science for stain sticks and good laundry detergent.

As I had been telling Todd about my latest writing when this happened we then began to joke that I could easily keep a well documented blog just on the different foods I spill on myself on a daily basis. It would be a food blog from a different point of view. We laughed but it did get me thinking and now has become the inspiration for this post. So lets see what I have been wearing shall we?

Monday 6/10: Sauteed green bell pepper and yellow onion on my sandals
Sunday 6/9: Ramen noodles down my chin, neck and into my bra
Saturday 6/8: BBQ chicken on the top of my dress
Friday 6/7: Maple syrup on the skirt of my dress
Thursday 6/6: Egg plant and tomato on my sandal
Wednesday 6/5: Soup all over my feet and hands

That is as far back as I can remember, but there you have it, a food for everyday of the week. I am sure by now all of you have labeled me a slob but I will have you know this is not the case. I actually take great pride in my appearance, not to the point of superficiality, but I do care. The truth is, I have always, as far back as I can remember at least, been a bit dysfunctional with food.

When I was fifteen and dating my first “real” boyfriend I caused myself a good deal of embarrassment the first time I had dinner with his family. There we were, all sitting around the dinner table, his Mom, Dad, older sister, grandma.. At the beginning of the meal his Dad passes me the plate of meatloaf so I can remove a piece for myself and what do I do? Promptly drop my selected piece from the communal plate into my lap where of course I did not have a napkin placed to catch it. My face turned red, I felt my ears get hot. I remember looking at his Mom thinking, “Crap, what do I do now?” See I wasn’t familiar enough with his family to know what would be considered appropriate here. In my family when I drop food on myself I pick it right back up and eat it, no one blinks an eye. However, I don’t want to go offending anyone if they have a little more class than us and would expect me to throw it away. Thankfully his Dad laughed and said something to the effect of “Well that one is definitely yours now”, and everything was fine. I certainly made an impression that is for sure.

Since then I have always been wary about going to dinner on a first date. Actually I have always been wary about first dates in general. Getting me to agree to a date is like trying to wrestle an alligator to the ground, it is possible but it’s going to take a while. Todd and I met on Match.com and I made it very clear up front that if he wanted any kind of shot with me the best thing he could do is take things slow and not pressure me. We emailed for a month before I ever gave him my phone number, our first date came not long after that. You better believe that I ordered a salad on our first date though and barely ate any of it.

So getting back to why I seem to always be covered in whatever I am eating/making it isn’t because I am sloppy I just have a real issue with details. I am not incredibly observant, I am more of a big picture person so this leads to a bit of clumsiness at times because I am not paying attention to the details. I also walk into things and trip over flat surfaces – now that takes a bit of talent.

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson runs parallel to my personal thoughts on what success is. To me success is measured in the number of lives I am able to positively impact. There have been times in my life when I have been incredibly successful and there have been times of lull. These slower times are usually followed by some semi-drastic life change as I become unhappy and restless when this happens. The most recent BIG change I made in my pursuit of success was leaving the hospital last year to return to school full-time. You would think that working at a hospital would provide plenty of opportunity to help others and traditionally I believe this is true but in my case things became stagnant rather quickly. First off, I worked in an executive office not in the actual hospital so my patient contact was near zero. This was a far cry from what I was used to while working at the MRI facility. I knew it was going to be different when I switched jobs, I just did not realize how much it would affect me. It helped that I was on the Christian Service comity, we were in charge of all the volunteer work for our department. It just wasn’t enough for me though. And the actual work I was doing in no way fulfilled me.

Todd and I watched The Blindside together last night. I love that movie because it is based on an amazing true story. There are certain parts that always make me choke up no matter how many times I watch it. Todd had never seen it before so I am glad we watched together because it helped him understand why I am the way I am sometimes when I get on a crusade about something. For example, 2 weeks ago we were browsing the local animal shelters online databases as we plan to get a dog at some point once we move into our house. We weren’t seriously looking by any means but that all changed when I saw Johnny. Johnny is a younger red boned coonhound that has only three legs. His story explained that he was found roaming around a construction site miles away from any residential area. When he was found one of his back legs was severely mangled and had to be amputated. I was sold on him immediately! If I had it my way I would have gone down there and adopted him that moment. My opinion on the matter and Todd’s were completely polarized, however. He was in no way interested in owning a three-legged dog. I was incensed. I felt he was being discriminatory and tried to plead my case. We would be the perfect home for Johnny. Todd and I both have a soft spot for animals, we will have this great backyard, we will be right next to this beautiful open field where Johnny could run and play PLUS I was absolutely convinced there was not another human being that could love this dog as much as I could. I eventually convinced Todd to agree to go with me to meet Johnny in August after we return from Lollapalooza in Chicago, assuming of course that Johnny had not already been adopted. Since that time I learned that Johnny has been adopted and will be trained to be a therapy dog for VETs with amputated limbs. Although I was a little disappointed that I would not get to love and take care of Johnny I was overjoyed to hear what his future holds and feel that is a more than acceptable alternative.

Todd and I talked after the movie last night and he told me that he was able to better understand my feelings about Johnny after watching what this family did. I absolutely think that if Johnny had not already been adopted that Todd would now be on board with adopting him. Just because a person or an animal is different in some way does not mean that they are any less deserving of love.

I watch movies or documentaries like this and hear stories in the news about people who are able to give so much of themselves for the greater good of someone else or society in general and I always think, “God will I ever be able to make such an impact”.  I look at this story and feel like anything I have been able to do up to this point is just small potatoes. I feel like I am meant for more, that I have a greater purpose that hasn’t been revealed yet. I just don’t want my life to be all about me, I want it to mean more.

Where are you going, where have you been

I read “Where are you going, Where have you been”, a short story by Joyce Carol Oates, yesterday. I made a terrible error in judgment by choosing to read this story right before bed.

Here is why: (This excerpt was pulled from Spark Notes)

The Facts behind the Fiction

In the mid 1960s, a young man in Arizona named Charles Schmid developed a sinister reputation as “The Pied Piper of Tucson.” Schmid stood out in the small town of Tucson. He was not handsome—he was short and stuffed his boots to make himself taller, and he had an eccentric appearance, with dyed black hair, makeup, and a fake mole on his upper lip—but he had a charisma and charm that made him attractive to young girls from the area. Schmid was the son of wealthy parents, and he used the trappings of wealth—a nice car, elaborate parties, gifts for his admirers—to enhance his alluring persona and lure teenagers into his realm. Unbeknownst to Tucson, Schmid was a serial killer, and three teenage girls became his victims. He buried them in the desert.

On March 4, 1966, Life magazine ran an article about Schmid, and Oates saw it. She sensed immediately that there was potential in the sordid story for a story of her own, and she stopped reading halfway through the article so that her imagination could take over and let the fiction develop independent of the facts. Nevertheless, many facts of the horrifying murders and Schmid are evoked in “Where Are You Going . . . ,” particularly in the figure of Arnold Friend. However, the story is not meant to be a fictionalized retelling of history or recounting of actual facts. Although parallels exist between the story and real life, the facts behind the fiction should be considered as simply the seeds of inspiration. The story itself stands alone.

The story started off fine. I was analyzing the main character, making observations about her superficiality and her desperate need for acceptance due to lack there of at home. As you can imagine by the background just given though, the story takes a dark turn. The story reminded me of Ted Bundy initially as I have had never heard of Charles Schmid before. I remember being in middle school when I first discovered Ted Bundy’s story, it was via a Lifetime movie. Although as a rule I would never watch or admit to watching a Lifetime movie, this one kept my attention.

I am not sure what it is about serial killers I find so fascinating. I have always been fascinated by them. At one point I spent an entire afternoon reading story after story about John Wayne Gacy. I also find Dahmer and Aileen Carol Wuornos particularly interesting. It’s morbid if you think about it but I know I am not alone in finding these stories intriguing. Maybe it’s the mental health aspect that draws me in.. I am not really sure. I can say this much though, if you ever happen upon this short story make sure to read it during the day with someone else home!

 

Small measurements of pride

Like so many others out in the world I am a list person. I enjoy making lists as a way to organize my thoughts, to take the ideas rolling around in my head and give them physical life in written word.. I am also a collector, I think these two things can go hand in hand at times. Yesterday I was down on myself after getting what I am sure will turn out to be a B on a psychology test I took. Instead of correcting my mood myself I regressed slightly into a pattern of behaviors I have been trying to overcome. This morning when I woke up I was trying to come up with ideas to help me self soothe when I am having days like I did yesterday. My solution, make a list. Make a list of my positive attributes, things I admire about myself so the next time I am feeling sub-par I can go back and focus on the good. When I used to see my counselor a few suggestions he made about self-regulating and self-soothing were diet, exercise, regular sleep, meditation and positive affirmations. I have never done positive affirmations in truth because the idea of talking to myself in the mirror feels silly, I thought this would be an alternative way to maybe reach the same desired result. It is never going to be enough that the people who love me say I am good and worthy, if I don’t feel that way about myself.. This is something I need to work on.

– I am artistic and creative and am able to see the beauty in the small details of the world around me

– I am kind and am concerned for the feelings of others many times over my own

– I am introspective and self-correcting, I admit my faults and always try to be the best version of myself

– I am creative with my fashion sense and make an effort to look nice, especially on date nights with Todd to let him know he is special to me and worth extra effort

– I volunteer my time and care about making the world better

– I am a free thinker with my own point of view, I do not allow myself to be influenced easily

– I am able to see things and people for what they are

– I am always able to see a silver lining

– I am well spoken, well read and enjoy writing

– I am content with simple things

– I take a stand

– I am honest

– I am full of ideas thanks to a limitless imagination

– I am intelligent

– I give everyone a chance and a second chance but am able to cut ties when necessary

– I am always able to see the good in someone even if they have hurt me

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to remember my good parts at times, I think I just strive so hard all the time to better myself that I forget to look at what i have already accomplished. Most of the things on the list took time and introspection, they took work and I am proud of who I am and the steps I have taken to get myself to this point. I just forget to look at it sometimes because I am always looking forward to what I need to work on next. There are and always will be more things to work on and I enjoy the process because I know from experience how good it feels when I have achieved a goal. I just have to remember to be proud of what I already have achieved and to be grateful for what I posses naturally.