So I have bronchitis.

Sick day (WEEK)

I have been on and off sick for a month. Mostly it’s been a flu then my endometriosis flares up. And now? Well. Now I apparently have bronchitis. At least it’s not pneumonia, right? I had just been to the doctor the day before I got sick, spotted nothing (granted, I was there for endo-related issues). Went back today, they had me do various breathing test things (most of which I performed pathetically), and then they hooked me up to this machine that essentially was a big vaporizer and gave me this medicine to inhale that made me so jittery that I was shaking for a few hours afterward. That was fun.

Oh. I’m also contagious, currently. So it’s kind of iffy on the whole school and work thing. And I’ve already missed a lot, so that’s great. But if I get others sick, well, it’s only likely that it’ll just cycle back through everyone back to me yet again.

This is not how I had planned to start my graduate career. If I could get a redo on the semester I’d gladly take it.

During this sick week down time I:
» Finished too many shows on Netflix and now feel like I’m scraping the barrel.
» Eaten all the chex out of three bags of chex mix.
» Realized that watching a friend who hates horror/spooky games play Alien: Isolation while you’re sick is terrible because you will hurt yourself laughing so much. (Same with certain kitten videos.)
» Discovered I am 10,000 times more indecisive about food when I’m sick.
» Slept more than my cats each day. (Ok, maybe not more, but definitely as much.)
» Got booped on the nose by one of my cats.
» Learned that maybe you shouldn’t cook when you have a fever.

I start my medications tomorrow morning. Hopefully they’ll knock all of this out of me (without interfering too much with my endometriosis medication). Hopefully I can get back to normal. And hopefully I’ll be able to catch up and keep up with all of my school work. And SOON.

 

Facing my sibling envy

Two weeks ago (ish) one of my younger sisters sent us the message that she and her husband were expecting their first child. I completely hate admitting it, but my first reaction wasn’t joy. My heart sank a little. I was jealous.

I’m one of 6 children. My brother and I are from my dad’s first marriage (and our mom’s only), and my four younger sisters are from his second. There’s 11 years between myself and my next youngest sister — the one who’s married and expecting. I’ve never been particularly close with any of my sisters, one of the issues of our age differences — but with this sister, we never really had a good relationship. It’s better now, but we’re not close. Only 2 years between me and my older brother, who has 3 children. It didn’t really bug me when my brother got married or had kids. My eldest niece is 11 — I was a college junior in China when she was born. It was one of those things that, you know, I was on the path to as well. I mean, I was 21 and getting ready to start my adult life, surely that would include settling down and having my own kids, right?

At 32… None of that has happened. I don’t have a career, per say. I don’t have kids. I don’t even have a relationship (and haven’t in years). And here is my little sister, married before she graduated college (in 3 years, no less), and now with a baby on the way. She has the life I thought I would have, the life I thought I wanted.

Do I want a family? Yeah. But is my life lacking because I’m childless and single? Far from it. When I actually stop and look at it. I have a pretty amazing life. I went from college to Chicago, made friends and traveled a lot — had so many adventures with Mucca. And now I’m on a totally new journey through grad school and looking at phD programs. There’s also the issue that I have endometriosis. I’m considering a pretty drastic route for my treatment, and there will be no getting pregnant in my future. That part of my life might not be awesome, but it’s just a fact of my life. But when I’m being honest with myself, I’ve never been excited about infants (or the idea of being responsible for one 24/7) — adoption was always an option.

Sibling envy is a really easy trap to fall into, and it’s quick to turn into sibling resentment. I hear it sometimes when I talk about school and such, and my brother is quick to point out all the things he has and salary he makes without having gone to college. It’s not that he wants me to feel bad, but he wants to reassure himself that his life also has value. In all these comparisons, it’s easy to feel like one person’s route is merely just an attempt to be better than the rest. I’m not going to grad school because I think I’m better or smarter than my siblings. I’m doing it because it’s right for my life and I love it. My little sister isn’t married or having kids before me out of any spite or notion or consideration to me, really, because it’s what’s right for her life.

I love my siblings, and I am very happy for all of them and their journeys. I hope they are for me as well. We may be blood, but we are 6 very different and individualized people. Our paths are bound to be unique. Things will happen at different times or not at all. We’ll end up in various places. So while I might still feel a bit of a pang for the life I once thought I’d have, I can’t let that blind me to the joy that my actual life has. Or from being happy for my sister during a momentous time of her life.

Grad School is everything and nothing that I expected

The first two weeks of grad school are finally complete. And thankfully now we’ve got a 3-day weekend. It’s much welcomed.

Things they do not tell you, or at least do not stress enough so you actually believe it: this is the most exhausted you will ever be in your life until you raise kids or go for a PhD. For real, guys, I am so tired. Part of it is that my glasses prescription is old and I am very due for an eye check up (something that I hope happens this weekend). Getting that updated should help. There are just constant readings. I’m only in 3 classes (one is only 1-credit, so it barely counts), and I just have so many pages of readings to do all the time. And you have to keep up. You hear often “this is grad school…” as their level of expectations for you. Lord do they mean it.

Yet to counter that, you’re a grad student. You likely wouldn’t have gotten in if you weren’t academically competent enough to keep up. (I say likely because I do have a bias right now that I’m not going to get into.) But getting through articles and books and being like, this makes sense — it just feels amazing. Yeah, imposter syndrome settles in for a lot. You wonder when someone is going to call you out for not knowing enough, but the thing is, we all feel that way and hell, we’re still just students. (And frankly the professors even feel that way.)

So while my classes are kicking my butt simply because I need to make some adjustments in my time management to keep up with my homework… I love it. I really really enjoy classes, even if neither of them are in my focus area. Having an office on campus is great. I love the faculty here — they are amazingly supportive and just fun people. Our current department chair, who is a woman who scared the poop out of me previously, is actually a really funny person and getting to see her joke in class is great. I feel incredibly lucky to be pursuing something I love and enjoy.

However. Unfortunately… There was an incident that happened this week. Due to it I no longer feel safe. I had a panic attack the morning after, and was trapped in a bathroom for a while until a friend could calm me down. I really can’t say much about what happened — mainly because I’m still processing it, but also because it is going through the appropriate channels in the university for mediation. My department is working with me as best they can. I am in counseling now. And I have a good support network of friends. I am physically unharmed in any way — ok, minus the fact that I have to make myself eat (and 90% of the time when I do eat it’s junk/candy). But emotionally I’m kind of a wreck. As much as I shouldn’t have had to experience this, it is ok for me to be not ok given the situation.

So while I was on such a high for these first two weeks, things are pretty rough for me right now. I want my life back. Or rather, I want my academic life back. I want to say I’m hopeful. But I’m still extremely nervous regarding the situation. I might talk to my psychiatrist about going on anti-anxiety medication if next week doesn’t improve. I’m just trying to do what I can for self-care and hoping the university side of it moves quickly. The very last thing I want is for this to taint my grad school experience, or harm it in any way. (Which it’s starting to; I’ve missed 8 hours of work and two courses.)

If I could take the last 52 hours away, I would be telling you that grad school is the best thing in my life. And in many ways it still is. Yet… Like I said, it’s really hard for me right now. Hopefully we’ll meet with the Title IX coordinator soon and handle this swiftly. Some changes are happening in the department, but still a long way to go until I feel safe again. Right now I’m going to focus on myself, not care if I had AirHeads for lunch, and distract myself as best I can this weekend so I can maybe have the strength to go to my classes next week.

4 things on the internet that I hate

We all have internet pet peeves, things that make us cringe or even just rage quit the page. I’m not just talking trolls and 4chan. I like to think I’m a pretty tolerant person. But these few things here just drive me crazy and I beyond strongly dislike them.

» Listicles with multiple pages. Listicles are extremely clickbait-y. I get that and I’m ok with it. But when you make us click through page after page, or it’s one of those image galleries you have to keep clicking through. Unless it’s a list of 101 and you have paragraphs with each entry, put it all on one page. And if it is 101 with long paragraphs for each, maybe do some editing. But when it’s extremely clickbait-y, like 11 words people on the internet keep misspelling (aka a lot of it is autocorrect issues), it should all be on one page. ONE.

» Autoplaying video ads. I think everyone hates these. Autoplay is the absolute worst. I do not want it unless I’ve given the option upfront to specifically choose it. (Because, hey, sometimes I do want it on netflix and hulu, but that’s it.) The absolute worst are the ones that take forever to load, and then start playing after you’ve been on the page for a few minutes. (Or the ads, video or not, who cause the whole page to lag in loading.)

» Video articles without transcripts. This is mostly for news articles. I’ll see a headline on facebook, click to read an article, and discover it’s only a video. Now I get some people just love videos — it’s why we have YouTube. I’m not really one of those people. I’m the type that likes to have something on in the background, like netflix/hulu or twitch, and then read various things. Please just let me skim your articles rather than forcing me to sit through however long your video is.

» RSS excerpts. I’ve ranted on this for years. Years. I will unfollow blogs, no matter how much I like the person, because they only allow excerpts of their posts for RSS readers. I’m the type that wants to read everything in my reader of choice (Feedly) and then if I want to comment, or just to give page views, I’ll click through. More often than not I skim blogs first, and then when I find it’s interesting, I read them straight through. (Of course, a few bloggers I always read completely, which is why I sometimes get a backlog of anywhere from 2-6 posts of theirs in my RSS and I just read them all at once when I can finally give them the time they deserve.) Anyway. Go into your blog settings and pick “full posts” please!

Ok. So unload. What do you hate on the internet?

That time I got a concussion.

A lot has happened since you’ve last heard from me. A lot of school stuff, some family stuff, and now even some home stuff… But all of that has been overshadowed by one event: I got a concussion.

We hear about them a lot with athletes — heck, there’s A LOT of changes in sports right now as people are realizing the dangers of concussions. Did you know it’s really not that hard to get a concussion? And a lot of people get them? All you have to do is give your head a pretty good whack and then your jello-like brain sloshes around… and yep. Concussion.

For me, all it took was standing up quickly when I was cleaning out my grandma’s fridge. This is one of those many things that’s been going on. My grandma’s been forgetting things, like eating, or confusing her pills… or how to use the TV… and frankly, she really just shouldn’t be living alone any more. So we’re moving her to my dad’s. Now that school has sort of slowed down, I’ve been trying to help my dad with all of this. When they left for the first part of this process — just getting grandma up and settled before we start dealing with furniture — I stayed behind to clean up the kitchen. Part of this was also so I could raid grandma’s fridge and pantry and take home any perishables for myself.

Well, during all of this, I was going from the ground to standing… and majorly bashed my head on the handle of the freezer. The bottom of her freezer handle is flat, and pointy… and it met the top of my forehead with a lot of force. It rattled me pretty bad. I made sure it wasn’t bleeding, found an ice pack, and made my way through the day.

I drove home. I put together some ikea shelves. I chatted with friends online. Outside of a headache and a nice bump on my head, I thought I was ok. As the night went on, the headache got a little worse. I got dizzy. Decided to just sleep it off, maybe it’d feel better in the morning. Halfway through the night, I woke up nearly puking. My head felt weird. Something was wrong.

I called my mom, who promptly came over. I was confused, emotional, and pretty scared. My head didn’t feel right. And any time I barely brushed that bump, I felt like I was going to immediately puke. We went to the ER. Which, let me just say, was its own terrible experience. The triage nurses weren’t attentive–twice they didn’t even notice that there were patients waiting on them while they just chatted at the desk. After waiting to even get in a room, the nurse attending me there only asked my history, allergies, and where it hurt. Nothing else. Then we waited over an hour (at least, that’s all I can remember). It was just after midnight after we first got there, and was 3am by the time I saw a doctor. All while having a head injury.

The doctor was quick, but thorough. He confirmed a concussion. My mom stayed with me until the following evening, and has been checking up on my periodically.

Having a concussion is frustrating, and also really boring. You’re supposed to let your brain rest. So no reading, no moving around, no tv, no cell phones, no laptop…  Basically you can’t do anything that might risk a second concussion. You can’t do anything where you could get too dizzy and hurt yourself again. And you really are not supposed to tax your brain. So I’ve spent the last few days listening to netflix and hulu, and sleeping.

It’s been weird. The pain and headache and nausea are one thing… but the confusion, dizziness… pressure in my head, ringing in my ears. I’m sensitive to light and noise. I’m tired a lot. Especially that first night, it was hard for me to remember things–slow coming to answers. It’s taken a lot longer than it normally would for me to type up this post. Some of that is because I keep having to take breaks. I still can’t look at screens for too long before I get a lot of pain behind my eyes. I’m also having way more mistypings and misspellings than I’m used to.

It’s challenging. It’s only been a few days. It could take a week or month or… we don’t really know… until I’m back to normal. Some things are healing better than others. My bump is doing well, still sore to the touch, but I no longer want to puke if I accidentally brush it. Ultimately, I’m ok. Tired, sore, fuzzy… but I’ll be ok. Just wish this would have happened after finals week, and not before.

Not sure when I’ll get back to blogging regularly–I need to keep resting for a bit. But hey, when I come back, it’ll be my 1000th post! Fun, right? No pressure at all on that one…

I don’t remember what it’s like to be healthy

This fall has been a rough one. Between my endometriosis and apparently my on and off again relationship with a sinus cold… I think I’ve maybe missed half the semester’s classes. Including this week. And last week (but thankfully it was a holiday week, so I only really missed 2 classes).

Just when I start feeling a teeny bit better, I realize that all the coughing and sneezing and mucus draining has just aggravated my endo. And then that cycle of pain continues. I can’t take antibiotics because they cancel out my endo medication. I’m stuck to letting my body handle this on its own. Of course, I’m trying to help it with cold medicine, a river of fluids, and cough drops.

I’m sort of excited about the end of the semester because then I can sleep and rest without guilt. It’s hard to keep up with stuff when all you want to do is sleep, or stop coughing/sneezing.

Ugh. Anyway. This isn’t a pity post. It’s just what my life has been lately. School is awesome when I’m able to get there. And I’m thankful for the few good days I had over the holidays to see my family. Even if I crashed hard after. But for now I’m going to re-dose on my cough medicine, reapply some vaporub, and have a nice soup for brunch.

My name is not Pretty

Dear Men,

It’s come to my attention, numerous times, that we need to address an issue. It’s one that might confuse you as to why it’s an issue at all, but please just hear me out.

My name is not Pretty. Or Beautiful. Or Sweetie. Or Sexy. Or Gorgeous. Or any other thing along that line. So I need to ask that if you do not even know my name, please do not substitute one of these in its place.

I know you think you’re just trying to compliment me. You want me to know that you find me attractive. And heck, this is mostly happening on dating sites. I should be flattered, right? Well, I’m not. It makes me highly uncomfortable. It tells me that you’re mainly interested in my looks, my body, in physical things — a physical relationship. And I get it, I’m on a dating website. But, you know what, I’m not here for sex. If I was I’d be on Tinder. I have no interest in meaningless hook ups. However, regardless of that, it still doesn’t excuse the use of these in place of my name.

These names assume an intimacy. We do not have that intimacy. We will likely never have that intimacy. I’m not just talking physical intimacy. Friends that I feel close to or safe, yeah, it wouldn’t bother me too much to hear them call me Sweetie or Beautiful. But there’s the thing, they actually know my real name. They actually know things about me — more than you can just gain from reading a profile. They know my laugh, my smile. They know my passions. They know me. You, just starting off a first (second, third, fifth) message to me, you do not know me. The whole point of your email is to get to know me. But to assume that intimacy too soon makes a power shift.

And I know what you’re thinking, here comes that feminist bullshit. But it’s not bullshit. It’s about treating each other as equals, understanding the inequality that’s been there for generations, and working to make sure that your privilege doesn’t work to hold others down in that space of inequality. It’s a lot. I know that. But it’s important. You have no claim to my person, and that includes my body. Assuming that intimacy by using pet names like “baby” or “honey” or “sweetie” or “beautiful” states that you’re claiming that close relationship that might grant you privilege to my body. And you don’t have that right. I have not granted that to you.

While you think you’re paying me a compliment by starting off your emails with “Hey beautiful” or “What’s up gorgeous” — you’re really not. It shows me that you’ve already made your assessment of me, weighed my worth, and that my physical appearance is your top priority or concern. To me, it’s not a sign of interest in actually getting to know me. You already have your opinion of me. Sadly, you won’t actually get to know me or know that I am more than just my appearance.

So please, do yourself — and me — a favor and don’t substitute some pet name for me if you don’t actually know my real name. I have no problem with just starting off emails with “Hey, how are you?” If I’m interested in getting to know you, I’ll tell you my name, and we can go from there.

Sincerely,

A lady who’s not your sweetie.
(Or who at least won’t be if you ignore this advice.)

Knowing when to admit defeat

I really thought I can do it. I thought I could juggle two online classes. I started out strong. I had to figure out a schedule and a system, but you know, I was chugging along.

Then I got a job. It was just a part time job, and it allowed me to do a lot of studying at my desk. Heck, I could get through a whole chapter a day. Ok, depending on the class I could get through a whole chapter in a day.

Then that job ended and I started a monotonous job that absolutely did not allow studying. Not even during lunch — well, I could have left the building and hidden somewhere, but… free food. When I got home, I was so zombied out from removing staples and scanning records all day, I just wanted to crash on the couch and sleep.

I’m writing this at just after 9pm on Friday, July 17th. Aka the last day of my Physical Anthropology course. I still have 6.5 papers to write. (And technically 5 more articles to read.) I took 4 exams in one week. I got a C on one. My first C on an exam in this degree.

I put off all my exams and all my response papers, thinking I’d have time to do them. I wanted to get through my Cultural Anthropology class first, since it had hard deadlines. But as soon as I finished that class, well, time went by quicker than I thought it would. And so many things have happened since summer term started. My grandpa died. My mom was hospitalized. I had my sister’s graduation. GGB Indy planning. The job. The new job. And of course dealing with my ever present fun-time friend: endometriosis.

My ability to manage my time and prioritize went out the window.

I’ve asked for an incomplete — a chance to finish the course by a later date. Specifically before the start of the Fall term. I’d be giving myself 5 more weeks. I’d still be working this same job, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to work out a better schedule. Plus, it’s just the papers I have left, so I feel like that would be manageable. If the professor decides not to grant me this request — which given that I made it with only hours left before the class finishes — well, then I’ll have to take it again in the fall. On campus, this time. Which means I’ll need to drop my other (advanced) physical anthropology course, since I won’t meet the prerequisite. I’ll also probably be dropping one of my history courses — the online one. Because taking a full class load, plus working part time… I know for sure that I would not be able to give that class the amount of attention it would need.

I’m disappointed that it’s come to this. I expected better from myself. Especially given what failing this course will do to my GPA (still above a 3.0, but there goes my latin honors…) But, at the same time, I can cut myself some slack because holy wow this has been a hell of a summer. I could desperately use a vacation from it.

Anyway. Fingers crossed I can get the Incomplete to finish the course work… And that I can finally feel some rest.

That time I thought I killed my cats

No, that title is not a hyperbole. I sincerely thought I had unintentionally poisoned my cats.

It all started when I notice some bug bites. On me. First I freaked out because OMG no. Here’s some background on me: I very rarely open my windows, and my cats are 100% indoor-only. I know bugs can find their way in regardless, but I try to be very careful. However, I live in a multi-unit building, and between new neighbors (who had a cat for at least one day) and other neighbors with a dog… bugs will definitely get in. I was just hoping they weren’t bed bugs. The last thing I wanted was to have to get a new mattress & topper. Or at least, that’s what I thought the last thing I would want.

Turns out they were fleas. And it wasn’t a major infestation, but enough that the cats and I were all pretty annoyed. So I did what any reasonable pet owner would do: bomb the hell out of the house. I got flea bombs for the rooms with carpet, a spray for the rest of the furniture and building entry carpet, and a spray for the cats. It sort of worked, but we were still miserable.

So I got the topical treatment for the cats. You know, the kind where you put the drops on the back of their neck and the fleas are supposed to magically disappear? Yeah, that. Well, the cats didn’t like it as soon as I put it on, but I sort of expected that. I mean, who wants some greasy medicine on your neck? But over the course of the day, I knew something was really wrong.

My once cuddly, sometimes annoyingly clingy, loving, purring little girls were now reclusive, sad, and not doing well. Both cats exhibited what’s called “leg flicking” — it’s where they shake their leg as if to get something off of it, but there’s nothing on it. Kaija had some muscle spasms. Tuija, my normally extremely needy one, was quite and turned into a loner. They were also both licking their mouths weirdly. So after enduring that torture for a good part of the day, and consulting Dr. Google… I panicked.

Of course, well all know, nothing good comes from Dr. Google. It’s all death, death, and more death with a side of death. Everything I was finding on flea medication poisoning was terrible. I immediately washed off as much of that medication as I could. That greasy stuff is tough, but with kitty wipes and kitten shampoo, I was able to get a lot of it. Hardest part was trying to do all of this squinting through tears. I called the vet the next morning, but they didn’t seem all that concerned. They said as long as it was the right dose, they should be fine. I hate being that pet parent, but money really is tight and trying to get two cats into one carrier… I decided to just give them another day and hope they would get better.

Each day I bathed them. I made sure I had 20 water bowls out so they wouldn’t dehydrate. I spent lunch breaks laying on the floor next to the bed they were hiding under. I brushed them. I even embraced my inner primate and picked some fleas off them by hand.

A week later, and I am very happy to report that the girls are doing a lot better. They were still fairly reclusive for the first part of the week. But they began eating more. They came out of hiding and began being more social. The spasms and flicking and weird licking has all stopped. Then they became increasingly cuddly. Outside of an extreme case of “the floor is lava” and basically avoiding my (carpeted) bedroom, I’ve pretty much got my cats back. Still a couple fleas hanging on, but I’ll get them. Every last one. This is the first time they’ve had flea while living with me. The first time they’ve received flea medication. And it’ll be the last.

Kaija and Tuija cuddling

I love my girls. I am so very, very, very happy that I trusted my gut and washed that stuff off. Now if anyone has some natural flea remedies, I will gladly take them.

It’s not every morning you call the police…

Yesterday morning felt normal. Started off that way at least. I was going through my morning routines: NPR, reading my emails in the bathroom (like you don’t do it too), trying not to trip over the cats, open the blinds… notice that the screen door is open… realize what that means… become concerned.

Ok. So some people might think I’m over reacting to a screen door being open. But first off, let me say that this is on a sliding glass door, it can’t blow open or anything. And I always, always keep it closed because of my cats. Hell, I keep an old shelf between the screen and the glass door so when I open the door the cats can’t either push through the screen or try to pull it open with their claws. So the only way it could be open is if someone left it that way. Someone who is not me. And all of that happened while I was in bed asleep.

There was no damage to the property. Doesn’t even look like the plants on my porch were bumped. The only thing out of place was that screen door.

Last week I put a call into my building maintenance regarding my sliding glass door. Neither the screen nor the glass door latch properly. Now, I’ve got a rod on the door to keep it secure. But it didn’t feel like enough. So maintenance attached another lock for me. Thankfully, that all worked.

After I discovered the screen door, I waited for my landlord’s office to open. Left them a couple of messages so they knew what was going on. Then I called the police. Not 911, just the regular station line. Shortly after an officer was at my apartment to check things out.

There’s a few ideas between my family and I over what might have happened: someone thought it was a different apartment and was just mistaken; someone was drunk; someone was checking to see if any apartments in my complex had unlocked doors; someone had malicious intent. It could have been nothing. I might be overreacting. But it also could have been something else.

The cop said they’d do more patrols. The maintenance guy said the door is secure and it would take some extreme methods to get in. While both of these reassurances did give me a peace of mind, it’s not the only reason I called. I wanted a record of this. In case this was a case of something else, I wanted it on file that something happened. I wanted people to be aware that I was concerned. Because regardless of intent, someone who wasn’t me tried to open that door.

So it might have been nothing, but I wanted to make sure I took the steps so it didn’t become something serious.