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March 18, 2014 / Ang

Train Tangent Tuesday

So, fun fact: I live roughly one tenth of a mile (if that) from the local railroad.

This fun fact, while completely random and great for that reason, can drive me crazy at times. Hear me out, I understand that the railroad probably benefits my community somehow. Honest, I swear that I’m open-minded about this. If anyone wants to let me know what some of these benefits might be I’ll seriously have a conversation with you about it. I’ve been considering looking it up online but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t see anything that actually has an impact but propaganda from Norfolk Southern. I will admit, however, that a part of me is really tempted to look up said propaganda just to see what it is and maybe have a few laughs. Because, well, propaganda is oh so silly. And propaganda interests me for academic purposes… </nerd>

Now, for my soapbox: I HATE TRAIN TRAFFIC. I feel as though there should be regulations of some sort and the town should be well-informed of the hours that they might run into a train if they don’t take a different route. My town is literally bisected by the railroad. Unless you take the highway that goes AROUND town there is NO chance of your getting to your location unless you want to go somewhere on the half of town you’re already in when that train goes through. And if you happen to have the misfortune to be on the block nearest the tracks when those annoying little life-saving red-flashing bars go down: Have fun sitting there until further notice. There is NO WAY AROUND IT. You’re stuck. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the train before you start down that block and you can hop on a road that takes you to the highway to avoid it. That’s if traffic doesn’t block the access to those roads – because sometimes the traffic is seriously backed up about a mile due to trains. I wish I were kidding you.

I figured out what they mean by being from “the wrong side of the tracks.” You can’t access your house for a good ten minutes or so just because you’re trying to cross a railroad track. In this case: They’re talking about me. I consider my friends’ house that is literally next to the railroad track to be “on the wrong side” too because I’ve been stopped mere feet from the driveway by a train that I didn’t dare race.

Other railroad annoyances:

  • I recognize that the middle of the night is probably one of the best times for the trains to go past, and if all I had to hear was the motor or the cars going past I would gladly deal with it. In fact, I might even be comforted by the sound – I’m fairly certain I did when I lived not much further from the tracks but on the other side. However, there are whistles. Someone please explain to me how it’s not a violation of noise ordinances for the train to go through the middle of town with the whistle going for a few minutes straight at 3 AM. Seriously. Shouldn’t that be against rules somehow? I don’t want to keep being on the verge of falling asleep or already asleep then hear that whistle. It’s SO annoying.
  • They also ruined our main road. For the longest time we had massive pot holes in the middle of our town that we had to avoid at all costs. We swerved, practically off the road, for the sole purpose of not damaging the undercarriage or struts as we drove over the railroad tracks. Then, they “fixed” the road over the summer. Do you know how they fixed it? No, they didn’t pull up the railroad and replace the ties then repair the pavement while they had traffic closed off in the middle of town for a week or two. They laid the new tracks over the old ones and put just enough asphalt to hold them in place. You were pretty much guaranteed to have the railroad track practically against your undercarriage if you had a low-lying vehicle. Our town wound up having to pay to put extra asphalt in to build a ramp in both directions so that it was less harsh on your car. Remind me how that’s fair. Please.

 

And now, I have completed my tangent. I’ll leave you with the thought that I’m from the wrong side of the tracks.

March 16, 2014 / Ang

Just My Luck

Hi. Have you heard my catchphrase recently? No? You must be new.

I’m a hot mess.

That’s the truth, and an awesome catchphrase in my opinion. Seriously, it’s just a great conversational piece. It’s diverse! I can use it to mean, “I’m a hot mess. My body does all kinds of crazy stuff.” Or, I can use it for: “I’m running late, I forgot stuff at home, I look ridiculous. I am such a hot mess.” Right now, “I’m a hot mess” means I’ve had a pretty emotional day. To continue with the humor: Seriously, today was the hot mess express.

I don’t seem to have much luck with my love life. I’ve done a lot of the BAD relationships. Not even, “Oh, my boyfriend is terrible because he doesn’t love me enough,” or whatever. Instead it was more along the lines of, “Well he was emotionally abusive and threatened physical abuse;” “I thought he was the one person I could trust – he knew me even better than I knew myself, but that turned out to be a mistake. Hello taking advantage of my weaknesses for self-serving purposes;” “Seriously, who says that someone has something about them that makes the person want to hurt them?” That kind of thing. My love life was just ridiculous. Romance and I are like oil and water – or more appropriately, the “men” I’ve dated were just bad news bears.

I seriously have nightmares about it sometimes. They’re not good nightmares. They’re not just social anxiety or, “Oh, I’ll never get married – woe is me,” they’re honest to goodness nightmares that I realize must be associated with the way I’m feeling about the way guys act lately. But hey, it’s whatever. I’ll work through it. I always do.

Anyway, today was one of those days that made me hate trying to trust and how my history plays into things. I’m sure most girls would be ticked off after having been ignored for the better part of a month, especially when there’s no good explanation, but for me trying to keep my composure over the past few weeks has felt nearly impossible at times. I seriously told my best friend the other night that I was trying to figure out if the shot or my anxiety was making me feel sick to my stomach the other night. I still haven’t figured out which it was for sure. As angry as I am about it, I’m mostly angry that I decided to take a risk and open up and then wound up being ignored after showing my vulnerable side. It made me feel used in a way, or as if I wasn’t good enough because I’m not perfect – not a great feeling. Throw in the sneaking suspicion that I was manipulated by our mutual friend (usually known as my rock)? Yeah. I cried. I was angry enough to say I was angry and want to yell at people for being stupid instead of just being sarcastic. I tried to put on my tough act. “You know, I’m done with this. You can get in touch with me if you want to – but I’m not wasting my effort in the future.” Um. Let’s face it. I’ll probably cave and try to talk to him again at some point. But I’m going to try to keep being tough for a while first.

If he reads the six page heartfelt, I cried while I wrote it, letter and doesn’t say a single word? I’ll either be heartbroken or irate. I’m hoping for the second option. Even more, I’m hoping he says something and it opens the path to communication. “I made myself vulnerable enough to let you know why trusting people and dealing with being ignored for weeks on end puts me on edge, you can be there.” Sound logic, right? 

Well, to every cloud there is a silver lining. I was feeling low/angry enough to post on facebook. “I DON’T cry easily. I’m so over this.” The people it was meant to be a jab at didn’t reply, but it made me realize that I have some amazing friends. I got a text almost instantly from a friend of mine who went back to school in Michigan this past weekend. We were at a coffee shop discussing what was worrying him and I talked him through a situation that he was dealing with, and this weekend we were texting for a while about what a hot mess my life is at the moment. It was amazing to have him there as a support system, especially given that he’s states away and busy with his own stuff. And last night I spent time with one of my other favorites who even made dinner for me. It was the sweetest. He’s the sweetest. I love these boys.

So, you know, I have some really crappy luck when it comes to guys. But I also have some of the best men in my life; they’re an amazing support system and I adore them. I’m kind of lucky to have found two great, straight men that are so willing to talk me through my struggles and listen to even the nonsense associated with my love life.

March 6, 2014 / Ang

Overcoming Obstacles

I honestly don’t remember the last time I wrote anything here. Sorry about that.

In the past few months I’ve had some interesting things going on in my life, but I’ve survived! My laptop is working again, I’m another year older, and I’ve done my fair share of struggling – I joke that I had an existential crisis, but I’m not entirely sure it’s just a joke. I’ve been trying to figure out how to overcome some of the obstacles in my life lately, and while it takes work and conquering fears, I’ve done it.

One of the silliest victories: I took “a selfie” without making an absurd face. It really is a silly thing, but I don’t like taking pictures of myself. I always have this insatiable urge to make a ridiculous face when I do for some reason. But the other night I was talking to someone and sent him a picture of myself smiling (with hot mess hair because it was drying wavy). I think it’s the first head shot I’ve taken with an authentic smile in a while – I’m still not the most pleased with the picture, but it was a step toward letting him see the real me and breaking some of those walls down. PROGRESS.

Other recent victories include:

  1. Reapplying to school. And deciding on a major again (for now at least).
  2. Getting in touch with someone regarding setting up services/accommodations for when I’m back at school.
  3. Getting over my hatred of phones to call his office to set up a meeting to set those up. Seriously. That one (technically happening tomorrow) is going to be rough.
  4. Realizing how I deserve to be treated and deciding that I’m not letting someone treat me otherwise, no matter how much I care about them. I’m not wasting my life waiting on people anymore, I’m living my life and holding out for my own self-confidence. I’m hoping it’s enough to get me through disappointing people.
  5. Talking to my doctors about issues with my medicines and wanting to be seen by a geneticist. On Monday I’m having a long talk with my primary care physician (with a list I’m about to compile so that none of my points are forgotten). I want to address some of the issues I’ve been having with my health recently, and I might go ahead and discuss the counseling option just so that I can show that I’m doing everything possible to control my stress so that we can’t blame my symptoms on poor stress management.

So here we go. Accomplishing things in life, including financial aid paperwork. I’ve got this.

January 15, 2014 / Ang

Again?

The new laptop won’t start either. I think I’m cursed. Seriously.

On the bright side: I finally finished knitting a hat. Observe as the elusive exhausted Angela models a hat. Now to start a second larger one because I don’t think this will fit my friend I meant for it to belong to.

image

And now I’m going to go get ready for my diner trip with my friend. I’m planning on pranking him too.

January 8, 2014 / Ang

Re-introduction.

Oh hey, there.

I started this blog over the summer with the main task of just sharing anything I wanted to – mainly about my life, chronic illness, and surviving this struggle (such as the diagnostic processes and path to effective treatments). I tried to share about who I am then, from posting my story, fun facts about myself, and an about me page. A few things have changed since then, though, so allow me to reintroduce myself.

Hi. I still like to put on this false confidence thing from time to time so let me start with: I’m awesome. Okay, now that that’s out of the way it’s time to share more details. I’ve taken to calling my life the hot mess express just because my life is pretty crazy. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting in way over my head and I’m not sure how to fix that.  

I really want to become a teacher. I love working with students, and I’m actually about to start tutoring a college student when this semester starts – not just the high school kids I volunteer to tutor with the Upward Bound Math and Science program. I’m so excited about this because it’s going to make me feel like more of a productive member of society. I’m just not entirely sure if I’m going to be able to teach, and I feel like I’m in the same tizzy as senior year of high school when I have to think about my interests and my talents and try to choose something to do with my life. If I don’t finish out my undergraduate studies as an education major I’m still a little clueless as to what I’m going to major in. I have an idea for graduate school, though, I want to study sociology of education because it turns out that I think like a sociologist in my daily life and how better to take advantage of that and my interest in education than to combine them?

I dance. It’s one of my resolutions to dance more, actually. I love my studio, even if I feel awkward and shy around some of my fellow dancers. There is nothing better than a great dance though. You can feel the music, not just hear it, and there’s a connection with someone else and you just ROCK IT. I promise you that it is my favorite feeling in the world. Lately I haven’t had that feeling as much because I took a break from dance (against my will, I swear!) and now I still feel just a little awkward getting back on the floor like I’m missing leads (and I probably am, they continued to grow and develop as dancers while I turned into a couch potato). Eventually, though, I’m going to know what I’m doing and regain that natural high.

I’m a part of a group called “I Run 4 Michael;” and yes, it pained me to use the number 4. It’s a group where you share your accomplishments with a buddy who for whatever reason can’t be as physically active as you are and might need an inspiration. In exchange, your buddy acts as a coach. I wanted to get involved because I want to do something for someone else and I’ve been neglecting my volunteer work outside of UBMS lately, but also because this is a method of holding myself accountable for my physical activities – I have a wonderful little girl counting on me!

I still have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (known from here on out as POTS), but we’ve decided that it’s probably secondary to a genetic kidney condition, Bartter’s. Bartter’s explains almost everything for me, aside from blood pooling and hypermobility which apparently strengthen my case for having some genetic issues causing my difficulties. I don’t really want to go see the geneticist right now, though, so I guess I’m counting on presenting the clinical picture as my diagnosis for the time being. As much as I counted on finally getting a diagnosis hoping that it would be the magical key to finding a cure: I’m incurable, we just have to work hard to keep up with managing my symptoms. It gets rough sometimes, knowing that I might always struggle to keep up instead of being the girl I used to be, but I just want to keep going.

I’ve been trying to find a job, but it’s hard to understand the nuances of employment with a disability so I’m worried about the interviews when they ask if I need any accommodations. I’ve also been putting in applications at various local establishments and been left in the lurch, so I feel almost unemployable at the moment. I swear I’m great, though. They wouldn’t ask me to come back to help with the kids if I wasn’t, would they?

I’m still passionate, I like to occasionally post my commentary on contemporary issues, and I can honestly say I’m not sure what I would do or who I would be without my best friend. He’s pretty much my rock.

I don’t know what else to say right now other than: Welcome! If you want to know anything else, please just comment or e-mail me and I promise I’ll get to it.

January 5, 2014 / Ang

New Year’s Resolutions from Across the Internet

I’m not really feeling up to writing a creative blog of my own at the moment. My eyes are crazy tired or something – I’ve been having trouble keeping my eyes (specifically my right one) open. I wanted to share some of the things the internet has been telling me to do (or not to do) though. Mainly because I think that they’re amusing and I hope you may be amused too. (Sidenote: I didn’t read the one yet – you know, weird eyes and all.)

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself (I haven’t read this one yet)

28 Important New Year’s Resolutions Every Twentysomething Should Make

7 New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep

Okay, now go consider if these are life changes you actually want to make or if you just want to laugh with me at some of them (read: Buzzfeed). I’m going to go consider napping or a compress on my eye or something in hopes that I can keep it open more successfully and start to keep up with the Zero to Hero thing later today. I hope you’ve been having a great 2014!

January 1, 2014 / Ang

Good Riddance 2013

I’m not afraid to admit it – 2013 has been a living hell pretty much from start to finish. I just managed to live through it and see the bright spots as well. I’m just hoping 2014 is better.

My year started out as an emotional hell. I was anxious about affording tuition for the semester, a relationship (that I am happy to say will NOT happen again – watch me as I delete his number at midnight!), and student teaching. I was seriously concerned about all of these things and I was a hot mess. I’ll admit it. Just like I’m willing to admit that I’m still a bit of a hot mess express but in a different (seemingly better) way.

I wasn’t even an entire month into the new year when POTS hit hard. That really put a damper onto my entire year, honestly. Starting out so sick and running myself into the ground trying to survive my student teaching placement (or life in general for that matter) wasn’t the easiest. Not going to my second placement was probably one of the most difficult moments of my life. It still has a huge impact on me. I’m still at home trying to figure life out while a lot of my friends are in other states studying to get their masters’ and ultimately a PhD. I think I know exactly what I want to do with my life sometimes and I know that it’s going to take work to get there, but it’s disheartening to sit here trying to get my life back together while my friends’ lives are progressing. I miss having them home like crazy sometimes. I hate that I only get to see them for a few hours every so often now, if I’m lucky. But I don’t resent them, I’m proud (if jealous). Instead I just get a little angry at myself for dropping the ball from time to time, even though I know it’s not like I asked for multiple genetic conditions that could have such an effect on my life.

A friend of mine who wasn’t through nearly as much turmoil (unless you count listening to mine) uttered the phrase, “Thank God,” about this year coming to an end and it made me realize how much I HATED this year. I don’t think that I will ever look back at 2013 with any fondness. I’m just glad to have survived it. Next year, though? It WILL be different. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure of that.

Someone on Facebook posted a link to this cool project called One Word 365. I was struggling to come up with the word I wanted to use at first, honestly. I guess that’s brain fog for you. I sat here thinking, “I want to be healthier. I want to be either content with my weight realizing that I’m toned and that’s good enough or at a lower weight. I want to dance more often. I want to take risks and have fun. I want to enjoy what I have. I should really get back to blogging more often. I want a job, and to start saving more money. I want to go back to school and get my future figured out. I want self-confidence.” And I couldn’t realize what word encompassed all of those things for a solid ten minutes or so. The answer is: Better.

I want 2014 to be BETTER.

The concept is not to have resolutions but just to focus on “better” throughout the year. I can’t quite roll that way, though. So I’m going to come up with a list of resolutions that I hope will help me on my way to making 2014 better.

1.) I want to start using myfitnesspal and endomondo again. I need to keep up with tracking my intake so that I can have real conversations with my doctors about what needs to be done in regards to getting my electrolytes balanced out. I can almost guarantee you that I’m not getting the recommended 7 grams – but because I’ve stopped tracking my foods I can’t provide solid evidence of that. I also want to start using endomondo because it keeps track of my workouts and if there’s solid evidence that I’m burning plenty of calories but still gaining weight I want to be able to talk to my doctors about that. I’m not happy with my weight right now but I feel as though I can’t get help if we don’t know what’s going on.

2.) I want to exercise more often again. I’ve been keeping up with cardiac rehab, but that’s going to end soon, and when it does I don’t want to just start lazing about. I also feel like I’ve actually lost a lot of my muscle tone since starting cardiac rehab and I want to regain that. I bought myself an exercise ball the other day and I’ll start doing my ab workout at least once a day. I’m going to start trying to keep up with yoga more often too. And seriously: back to the gym. I’ve been trying to figure out which gym. All I know is that it’s going to happen and I WILL love my body. I hope.

3.) I might cave and ask for a referral to a therapist so that I can prove to any doctors who might doubt me that it’s not just my stress. (Although I finally have a doctor who actually has a physiological explanation for my elevated cortisol!) It’s also largely because I’m terrified that when I’m tracking calories again for the sake of my health that I might become obsessive about everything and get myself into trouble. If I have someone holding me accountable and helping me through it, though, things might be a little easier to handle.

4.) I want to take better care of myself. That includes all of the above but also making sure that I’m keeping up with my medicines and appointments. And trying to eat healthier foods – or at least eat fewer unhealthy foods. I binged on some sweets tonight so that along with my wakeup came healthier eating. I’ll even try to keep up with eating more smaller “meals” even though I HATE that because I can never keep up with it. I’m lumping developing a better self-image into here too. I might have to go back to reminding myself of something I like about me but doing it for me this time – not someone who is no longer in my life.

5.) I WILL dance more often. I want to get back to dancing every Tuesday and every weekend opportunity in Pittsburgh. And I’ll compete at the Michigan Classic if it kills me. I need the experience, just once. Maybe more if I’m hooked and can afford it. Because I’m dancing more frequently I will hopefully become a better dancer again too. The past few months off to behave myself have left me feeling rough – I want to feel graceful and great again.

6.) I want to make the most of the time that I have with my friends since it’s infrequent.

7.) I want to try to travel. Even if it’s just a little bit. Or at least save my money so that I can afford to travel more – especially when I need to in 2015 for a certain wedding we’re hoping happens that summer.

8.) I want to try to blog at least twice a week (I’m totally counting this post). And hopefully the blogs will have some substance to them. Dear followers: One of you please nag at me for accountability or cheer me on or something if you notice that I’m failing or doing awesomely at this one.

9.) I want to HAVE FUN. I’m not entirely sure how to accomplish this one, though. I feel like I’m so serious most of the time and I really need to figure out how to take risks and just have fun instead of overthinking everything.

10.) I want to re-write my resume and get a job. I have almost 9 months until I’ll be back at school (because I WILL be back at IUP next fall even if I hate myself) – that’s plenty of time to work and save money, and I’ll hopefully be able to keep my job while going to school. This one may require getting in touch with an advocate so that I know how to navigate the employment scene better. I know I have a right to ask for accommodations but I’m not sure if those accommodations including a stool make up for the “prolonged standing” requirement or not.

11.) I want to complete more projects. First up: Making that beanie for my friend so he has a hat that matches his scarf when he goes back to school. I might even try to sell these projects.

12.) I want to try to keep up with doing things for other people: volunteering, just sending a text reminding them that I’m thinking of them, etc. Feel free to share cheap ideas of how to make other people smile.

13.) I want to be more comfortable with expressing my feelings with other people. I get really frustrated sometimes because I’m almost afraid to let people know how I’m really feeling out of fear of rejection or the need for a sense of diplomacy. But relationships feel almost shallow when I’m busy keeping quiet and thinking too much instead of sharing how I feel. First up: Romance situations.

13 seems to be a pretty lucky number for me so I’m going to leave it there I think.

Here’s to 2014 and a much better year!

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