Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Windchill, Weatherproofing, and Frostbite

Absolutely nothing of interest happened to me this week except on Monday when my fingers almost got frostbitten.

Weather forecasters everywhere were predicting -25 to -35 degree wind chills, so naturally, I decided then was a good time to go to my landlord’s and weather proof her windows since she’s been gone all winter. I decided to forgo gloves because it’s only thirty feet away, and I couldn’t find any.

The weatherproofing attempt was quite comical. I had to tape plastic over the really drafty window in her front door. The door was so cold that the double-sided tape that comes in the box was rendered useless. But, stubborn as I am, I got it to mildly stick to the door before attempting to stick the plastic up. As hard as it was to stick the tape to the door, getting the plastic to stick was impossible.

So there I was at 9:00 at night in an empty house wrestling with a giant sheet of plastic wrap with little remnants of failed sticky tape surrounding me before I finally said screw it. It’s not happening tonight.

Defeated, I bundled up and left the house. I had to set the weatherproofing supplies on her porch momentarily in order to lock the deadbolt and naturally, the wind knocked the box into the foot of snow in the bushes.

Instead of rushing home to get out of the cold, I now had to climb my way through the snow and ice in order to rifle bare-handedly through the bushes to grab all the stuff and then trek across the snowfield in-between our houses.

In addition to it being freeze-any-liquid-immediately cold, my hypothyroidism makes things worse. I am cold sensitive. What’s cold to a ‘normal person’ is Antarctica to me.

I liken the pain in my hands to crushing a fire-hot coal in your palm. The heat from the garage (which isn’t even heated, just the lack of wind made it feel warmer) amplified the stinging before my hands hit the real joy of my 70-degree apartment. Once inside, it felt like someone was pouring boiling water over my hands continually for a good ten-minutes. And let’s not forget that my hands were redder than the tomatoes in my fruit bowl.

All-n all, it was a very painful ten-minutes until the numbing set in that was all the more appreciated considering the whole reason behind subjecting myself to those conditions was a big fat failure.

Moral of the story, stay inside when it’s cold or at least dress appropriately. You skin will be thankful.

**I managed to successfully put up the plastic today with lots and lots of duct tape. Duct tape is impervious to cold. **

Friday, January 24, 2014


I was 12 when the furnace blew up at my parent’s house. It wasn’t a huge fire. The only thing it damaged was our old broom. I vividly remember my dad waving it around like Indiana Jones with a torch. That was when I first started checking stove nobs.

I was 19 when the apartment complex my fiancé and I lived in had a break-in. The guy was caught pretty easily, and the people got their stuff back.  No one was hurt, but I stopped feeling safe. That was when I started checking windows and door locks.

I was 19 when the plane I was on had an electrical fire. The oxygen masks dropped down and black smoke filled the plane. When the system shorted, the plane free-fell for two seconds at most, but I was terrified. I couldn’t get out of my seat; and even if I could, where would I go? People were screaming; I was praying; the nice stranger next to me was comforting both of us by pointing out stuff outside our window until we emergenct landed. That was when I started having anxiety about being trapped.

I was 20 when my fiancé and I rented our first single-family house. I loved the privacy of it, the fact that I could finally get that dog I’d been missing since I left my parent’s house, and I felt more adult in a house. But, the house was ancient and rickety. It made weird noises. It came with an old gas heater that sat in the middle of the house and heated it like a fireplace. I didn’t have close neighbors to cushion my worries about break-ins. That was when I developed serious OCD.

I checked the stove nobs at least 20 times a day, and I had to count each nob out loud while touching them a certain way in order to feel satisfied that they were off. I checked the windows every time I left and every night even if I knew they’d never been opened. I started organizing things from big to small and everything had to be straight, label facing forward. I looked at my heater like it was an armed murderer waiting to attack. When I left the house, I would stand at the door nob, twisting it back and forth, feel confident that it was locked and start toward my car before that little voice told me to check it one more time. When it got to the point that I was counting, straightening, taking more than ten minutes to check everything, I knew I had to just stop.

I’m not a medicine person, never have been, so I took conquering OCD as a personal battle. It took a lot of online research, a lot of introspection, and sheer willpower to learn how to understand, stop, and retrain my thinking patterns in order to let go of most my ticks. 

It came down to the realization that I was wasting my time worrying about things that I couldn’t control and doing all these habits I had formed to trick myself into thinking that I could. I had wasted countless minutes, hours, and days where I was stuck in the paranoia of OCD.  And then I just stopped. It sucked. I left my house constantly consumed with the thought of having forgotten to check something. But, after a while, I started mentally shoving those worries out of my head. I became deeply aware of how my mind processed fear and how the reasoning side of my brain could be used in order to smother that fear to a level where I could function happily again.

There’re still days where I have flare ups. I still have to check the stove nobs a certain way every night, but I only do it once. I’ll never be completely free of it. When my stress is high, my OCD is more active, but never to the point of where it’d been. I know how to counteract it. I am comfortable now that I can stop my impulses and stop the anxiety of the fall out.

Of course, right after I conquered OCD to the best of my ability was when I had my first panic attack completely unrelated to those old fears. I’m still dealing with that fallout.  But the point is, help is there if you look for it and are ready to receive it. OCD and anxiety play off fears and until you’re ready to confront those fears, you’ll never be free of them.

**I know some people with mental illness cannot personally control their illnesses. I don’t think there’s any weakness in that. If you present a real danger to yourself or others, I applaud your use of the medical community in order to eliminate that danger.  I don’t think how you treat something makes a person any better or any worse than how another person does. Anyone actively seeking treatment, no matter what the form, is fighting the same battles and receives the same level of respect from me.**

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Feeling Better

A reminder of warmer times. Follow me on instagram: eternalsun
It’s been four months since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I started taking hormones to try and correct the problem so I could start losing the weight it made me pack on and hopefully get my energy back.

The hormones are working okay so far. Before starting, I generally felt like crap all day. Kind of like the day before you get a really nasty cold where you feel weak, exhausted, and mentally drained.

With my initial dose, I stopped taking naps, which was great. I had almost enough energy to sustain myself during the day. I still had the pre-dinner crash where my body felt physically sick, but I could power through and stay up to a reasonable 9-10 at night. But I was still gaining weight and my monthly gift was still M.I.A., which is problematic for someone who plans on getting pregnant within the next year. While I didn’t nap at this level, it was damn near impossible to get out of bed in the morning.

I wasn’t really shocked when the doctor increased my dosage. Now, I’m taking double what I did initially, and I can generally function like a normal human being for most of the day. I’m not plagued by constant nausea, and I haven’t felt physically weak in a long time. I don’t nap, and 6-8 hours is enough sleep to keep me going through the day. Yet, Aunt Flow is still missing, and I haven’t lost a pound yet. My weight has sustained itself, though. So that’s a plus.

I go in for blood work Friday, and I won’t be surprised if they up my dose again; although, I have developed a small heart palpitation if I have any caffeine since my last dosage.  I’m a little worried about what another increase will mean. I’m even more worried about all the tests I’m going to have to check my heart.

On another good note, I go back for my final MRI in the upcoming month to make sure my artery dissection has healed. I definitely think I’ll breathe a bit easier once I’m not constantly worried about another blood clot.

Fingers crossed I can get my thyroid to cooperate and finally start losing this weight. It's beyond frustrating to keep up the workout/eat healthy routine with no results. Even a little bit would be a good booster to keep going.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Books of Influence Part II

I said I was going to do a series of these posts back in November to detract from my NaNo-absence and then NaNo took over.

So, I’m continuing it now.

My first book, "Frankenstein," influenced me because of the story’s complexity

These next books influence me by being great resources for ‘the seeds of writing,’ so to speak.

As a writer, if you haven’t heard of Natalie Goldberg, than you should get on that. I’ve read two of her books so far, “Writing Down the Bones” and “Old Friend from Far Away.” I guess this is a two for one deal, because both books are well worth the read and have impacted my own writing.

“Writing Down the Bones” gives you an amazing analysis of the writing life and different ways to cultivate a functional relationship with writing. It breaks down everything from getting started, writing habits, writer’s blocks, idea to page, etc. This is probably my favorite writing craft book and one I reference often.

“Old Friend from Far Away” is a book on writing memoirs that’s also a treasure trove for writing prompts that can be used for both fiction and nonfiction. The first short story I ever got published came out of my free writing from one of her prompts. 

Bottom line, if you’re a writer give these books a shot.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Original Paintings

Lighting isn't the best on these, but here are some paintings I finished in December.

I did these for my living room. For the sake of the picture, I put them all together, but on my wall they're in pairs and spaced to take up the bare wall.

I did this one for my grandma for Christmas.

I did this one for my mother for Christmas. Don't mind the janky horse. I've never painted one before but she had three must haves for the painting she wanted: a barn, a tree, and a horse. So she got them.

I'm working on a another paining, drawing, and wall installation right now. So, look forward to pictures of those soon!

Friday, January 10, 2014

How We Met or That Story I’ll Never Tell My Children

Dawww, two weeks or so after we met. 
As Jay and I start prepping for marriage, baby making, and parenthood, I am reminded that eventually those babies are going to ask a certain question that I have no idea how I’m going to answer:

How’d you two meet?

Honesty is out for two reasons:
1)   I did a lot of stupid crap in my teenage years that I will shield my children from like all parents before me.
2)   The actual meet-cute is more reminiscent of a murder or rape case than love. Stars aligned, or something, because I could’ve easily ended up on a milk cartoon had I met any one else but him.

It was Labor Day weekend that irrelevant holiday which is only good for a 16 year old because it meant a four-day weekend and a final farewell to summer.

Two girl friends and I were in a very celebratory mood. The air tingled with a combination of the top-40 music blaring from the car radio, excitement, and stale weed smoke—another thing I won’t be telling my kids.

As teenage girls are wont to do, my friend was yelling her euphoria out the back seat window as I drove through the streets of the city. Her actions attracted the attention of many passers-by, but she zoned in on a group of guys who returned her calls.
Bouncing up and down in the backseat, she begged for me to turn around and meet them. Easily persuaded by her and my other friend’s pleas, I agreed.

I pulled up to a house with the garage door open. A Chevy truck with the hood up sat inside it with ten or so guys, who were very obviously older than us, huddled around it. One lone girl sat watching from a camping chair.

While the spark of fear hit me pretty immediately on doing the math of the situation: three young girls varying from 15 to 16 against this group of guys with tools wouldn’t stand a chance. One, or all, of them could’ve been a murderer, rapist, or crazy person.

I should have driven away. The smart, self-preservatory thing to do would’ve been flee. But, gathering confidence from my friends who had that blind boldness only afforded to boy-crazed girls, I got out of the car anyway.

It was dark, the guys backlit from the only light coming from the garage. To my mind now, they were all tall shadows, except for one.

“Hi, I’m Jay,” the shortest of the group wearing a black Element t-shirt and the ugliest pair of Jnco’s known to man all but yelled at me before anyone else had a chance to say anything. My friends laughed while his paused at his outburst, making me blush. The rest slowly offered names and then the question of age came up. The guys ranged from 19 to 21 and some rightly left when they heard our much younger response.

Jay, one of the oldest, and three of the younger guys stayed behind. We chatted for a while, Jay obviously centering most his attention on me while the others talked. We had to go pretty quickly after that because I had to get the car back, but we made plans to meet up the next night. The garage guys shook their heads at the idea, but Jay and the others didn’t care.  

That night, the girls and I giggled over the boys we just met, each deciding the one they liked and would hope to see again. I thought fondly of the cute guy with the spiky hair and glasses while the girls laughed at his introduction and interest toward me.

At the time, I was pretty sure the idea of him was crazy. He was five years older than me and a college student. He had a real job, and I was pretty sure our romantic experience levels were on different fields. I was a junior in high school who worked at KFC.  I’d never had any kind of serious relationship, and while I had rounded some bases, I’d never crossed home plate and wasn’t planning to anytime soon.

I had no idea then that an unlikely encounter would turn into a ten-year relationship or that we’d have some of the best days of my life together and work through the worst. Call it divine intervention, chance, fate, whatever, but because we decided to take that drive and stupidly talk to some strangers, I met my future husband on the side of the road.

Not really a story for the children but one I cherish anyway.