what is home?

Is it a place? A feeling? A person? We always say “we’re going home” and usually we mean we’re going to visit our folks. Or other family. Or maybe just to our own place of existence. But nowhere has held that “home” feeling for me that is so often described in books, movies, by other people. The closest that has come is my grandparent’s farmhouse in the mountains. That has always held a special place. But is it “home?” Is it a place I would retreat to when the world turns upside down and I want nothing more than to hide in a pillow fort and drink wine and color?

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I don’t know.

That’s what I feel I have been searching for. A sanctuary. I haven’t had that in a place in a long time. Not since my break in 3 years ago. Not in a person since the car accident 2 years ago. I want to plant a flag at the top of a pillow fort and have a box of wine and a stack of coloring books and feel safe. I want to call my person and know she will be there on the other end ready to pick me up, or help bury a body, or ready to ride and cause some serious shenanigans.

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The past 7 years in Durham have been challenging at best. But it never felt like home. I made friends that I hope will weather the change that is coming all too quickly. I met my Batman here. My Mal. I’ve strengthened relationships with 2 women whom I’ve known for years prior to moving to Durham. Soul sisters. Golden Girls when we’re older. Only we all fight over who gets to be Blanche.

But in these final days, reflection is outweighing the anxiety of moving, and does the good outweigh the bad? I finally got a diagnosis of the chronic pain that only had been steadily getting worse since college. I’m in treatment for it. And if I’m lucky I’ll have a doctor sort of established by the time I move to Hampton. But I had to endure 8 different medications, 5 different doctors, fight against random and unnecessary surgeries.

I got divorced. (blessing) I entered the dating world. (curse) Men in general are fine. Dating men sucks. I won’t be seeking it out in this next book of my life. Just cause you bought me dinner doesn’t mean you get to demand sex from me. Go fuck yourself.

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I quit the job that brought me to Durham because shocking, being a hotel manager at a 25 year old hotel in Chapel Hill isn’t all that its cracked up to be. Especially when you work for a misogynistic asshole. 18 hour days on salary brought to making less than minimum wage. Yeah, bump that. So I floated in a few random jobs for a bit until Jared found me. I weighed the option of entering retail as a full time career move. And I went with it. And that has been a rollercoaster.

Which has brought me to where I am now. More on that in bit.

There was the break in. Two in a week. Took my sense of safety, security, my cat, my laptop, purse, pills, money, iPad, the idea that I could sleep with a window open ever again.

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(actual shot of my boarded up window after second break-in …. had to wait for glass to come in. Yes, that’s an alarm thingy on the side. it alerted the cops that something happened. One was kind enough to make sure Cola didn’t get out. I had already had to put Whiskey down earlier that week.)

There was the cancer scare for my mom. Living with the idea that I would lose her. The viking warrior that is my mom. Same week by the way. That was an awesome week. I think I ate 2 meals and slept 10 hours all week.

Reconnected with an old friend and thought there was something there. We made arrangements for him to move over. Things were good for a while. But he had issues that ran deeper than even I could fathom. I tried. I did. But after having been married to someone who put me through that hell, and being blamed for things I didn’t do and snooped on, and crucified for past wrongs done by other women …. it became too much. I’m absolutely certain I contributed to it not working. I warned that I wasn’t built for relationships. But hey, we’re human and mistakes are meant to be made. And a 25 year friendship went to shit over a 2 year relationship.

The car accident. My precious charger. I still mourn that car. I had to take the Durango to Firestone a while ago for oil change (its due again) and they still have the charger in there and I emphatically answered in the negative so hard that he stepped back as if I were going to attack him for asking if it were the charger I was dropping off. I told him I was still sore on that. He said he understood. But also, when I call, you answer your phone. (I refer to the guy living with me, my bf at the time) He never answered his phone. You know who did? my Batman. and my manager. and my insurance agent.

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(goodbye Beastie, my faithful old friend)

Alright. Work. I feel like that’s a bag that can be unpacked. I left the Durham store because I didn’t feel protected by my manager or my district manager when I brought concerns to their attention. There was a guy there that harassed, and was a general asshole to everyone. He made inappropriate comments. Yes, proper channels were taken to address his behavior. Yes, they were brushed under the rug. Yes, he promised he’d behave. That lasted 5 minutes. I finally got sick of it and told the manager that I wanted to transfer. I didn’t have to put up with his shit anymore and if she wasn’t going to do anything about it, it was either him or me. She chose him. So I transferred to a store I didn’t want to go to. It worked out ok enough- I met my Batman, a guy who became a very dear friend to me. But that store was fraught with issues from the get go.

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And it eventually had their own terrorist. Another guy who made inappropriate comments to all the female employees. He was seasonal though so he was gone after Valentines Day. This was last year. Until he wasn’t. I even sat down with the GM and told him the things he had said specifically to me, to others and how I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him in the store. Were my words heeded? No. He’s there full time. Oh and he’s a manager now. Some say he took the position I was meant to have. So its like a daily dose of anxiety and PTSD. Its awesome. And some people wonder why I want to leave ….

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Do I believe the new store, new state, new city, new anything will change my life and everything will be bright and shiny and make everything better? No. I’m not that optimistic even on my best day. But do I believe in new opportunities? Yes. Will I make the most of it? Yes. I feel for too long a dark cloud has hung over me, something has been chasing me here in Durham, keeping me from setting down roots, making me feel at home here. If I could, there’s a handful of people I’d take with me, but for the most part, the temptation to throw a Molotov cocktail at this bridge is too strong.

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They say (who is they btw?) home is where the heart is. But my heart has been shredded, torn, beaten, broken, bruised and shattered. But it still beats true. I just don’t know where it is right now.

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And now, for some eye candy because damn.

channing

 

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Frozen on Broadway

Firstly, I am not a movie or theater critic. As stated in my mission statement or whatever of the purpose of this blog is to give my personal opinion on movies, books, life and work. And y’all come along with my personal journey through hell that is chronic illness.

My mother and I went on a trip to NYC this past week. It was a lovely time. The weather was mostly favorable- it rained one day. I’ll write about other parts of the trip in other posts.

The entire purpose of the trip was because mom saw that Frozen was coming to Broadway. Yes, the Disney movie that took the world by storm in 2013 was getting a theater on Broadway and being brought to the stage with a few more songs written for the show, including the ones from the movie.

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I was never a HUGE fan of Frozen. I loved that sister love could be true love and cure the worst of the curses. (I also am an Oncer and lose my shit over that show but that can be a whole other post) But I liked Olaf and Sven and the other characters.

The show was adapted for the stage (obviously). It was also adapted for a more adult audience. There was an unexpected semi-nude scene where they meet the ski store guy and he has the sauna and everyone was dancing in towels … and then with leaves.

The actress who played Anna, a Miss Mattea Conforti (young Anna) and Patti Murin (older Anna) stole the show in my opinion. The writers of the show really played up Anna’s charm and awkwardness in an adorable way that made you want to be her friend.

Then there was the puppeteer who played Olaf. there was speculation on the way out of the theater by other visitors why they didn’t get a “little person” (they used a more derogatory term) and to be honest when I first saw the entrance of Olaf I wondered this myself. But as the play progressed it only made sense to have the puppeteer … Olaf in the movie is separate from his own body and no amount of costuming (no matter how amazing it is it in Lion King) would achieve that.

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Then Elsa. OMG. Elsa. At first, I wasn’t impressed. Granted, Elsa in the movie version wasn’t very “big” either. Then she performed the now iconic Let It Go. and holy shit balls was it amazing. I kept thinking Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl amazing. Then the costume change that stunned the entire audience. I don’t keep up with shows, on or off Broadway but the last amazing costume change I saw was in Aida where there were something like 27 costume changes during “My Strongest Suit”. That was pretty impressive. But there were also 11 girls in the set. So… Elsa actually bursts out of her matronly dress into her sparkly dress as she tells us to LET IT GO.

In the second act, we see Elsa embracing her power and Anna fighting for her life. Oh, did I mention, they took creative license on race for both Elsa and Anna’s father and Cristof? I kind of liked it. Both played by African American actors – James Brown III and Jelani Alladin respectively. They were both wonderful. The entire company was wonderful. But as we all remember, true loves kiss wasn’t from any man. It was from sisterly bonds. Anna was restored, Elsa was no longer viewed as a monster, and those that deserved punishment received their comeuppance.

There are articles, blog posts, journal entries dedicated to the fact that they “updated” Elsa’s look. She wears the iconic dress to finish out “Let It Go”. but when you see her again, she’s wearing pants. HEAVEN FORBID!! actually, this would make more sense. The scenery is supposed to be Nordic territory. Granted, they didn’t look well fitted, and the boots didn’t coordinate well … but whatever. I liked it. I have no feminine mystique opinions on pants. They’re a hell of a lot more comfortable than skirts and dresses and you can conquer a kingdom better in pants.

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All in all, the show was amazing. It was fun, it was laugh out loud funny, and very obvious Disney threw a ton of money at this to make sure it was an epic success. Which worked as its nominated for 3 Tony’s and its only been open 2 months.

Go see it. and in life, take Elsa’s advice and Let It Go.

A decent hospital visit … those exist?!

Another day, another new and exciting health issue to add to the list. *internal groan*

I had been having abdominal pain for 4 days and finally decided I had had enough of that mess so went by Urgent Care. They did simple labs, took some fluids and poked around. My belly didn’t care for her pressing around my appendix so we thought that was the culprit. I still ended up waiting a day (labs normal, no fever) before going to the ER. I had no appetite at this point, and I was grouchy af.

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I left work early after a steady decline into a painful territory I didn’t want to walk in anymore. Came home and changed into comfy clothes and headed over to Duke. Checked in, got my arm band, and looked around …. thank God I brought a book. Didn’t matter, I was in too much pain to bother with trying to focus.

I got called back to triage and I let my guard down. Those of ya’ll with chronic pain and deal with it all the time know what I mean. We mask the pain we’re in because how else would we get through our days? And I couldn’t do it if I was going to be effectively treated. So I showed just how badly I felt. I still lied about my pain number (told them I was an 8 … I was definitely around a 10-11) but they seemed to actually sense it was worse than I was letting on. I didn’t wait long and spoke to a doctor (again in triage). we went over a treatment plan and told me to hang on. I got called back (I didn’t get a room until after all my tests were done btw) for labs. New girl at Duke, and she was just set up in a corner collecting fluids from patients and running them to the lab. She gets an IV in, got it good cause I spurt blood everywhere. I had to laugh. She did too. took blood, had me pee, and gave me, bless this nurse, Dilaudid and Zofran. I finally started feeling like I could think through Jell-O and not pudding. Sent back out into the waiting room.

Another nurse, the transport nurse, comes and grabs me, sets me in a wheelchair as he can see I’m clearly struggling to walk (it hurt bad to walk) to take me to CT. I get there, and he fusses a little over me and gets me settled in the machine, the techs come in, set me up, goes over the dye (yes I’ve had contrast before thanks I love that sensation of peeing myself)

I get why saline is needed … I do. BUT WHY?! When first nurse set the IV and giving me meds, drawing blood every damn change she had to flush with saline. And saline makes me even more nauseated than I already was. I get that metallic taste in my mouth and I can smell it. And it makes me want to throw up. I probably would have had I eaten anything. Then the same thing in CT …. saline flush before the dye goes in … OMG JUST GIVE ME THE MEDS!! I don’t even care at this point. because by the time something bad happens I’ll be out and y’all can just fix it.

Get the CT, back out into the waiting room. I’m really starting to appreciate my decision to not have asked anyone to come with me. I get called and am taken to a room. I’m instructed to put a gown on and ‘hang tight’. Student doc (the baby kind, the one before they’re residents) came in to get history and all that jazz. She then went off to confer with the resident and attending.

The thing I appreciated most through the whole thing was that I was never once discounted. They didn’t go “oh chronic pain patient, great” and that attitude never once came through. I was heard, I got pain medicine, and they ran a test that would make both the doctor and myself happy (he didn’t think it was my appendix but something else).

I tried to stay in a good mood through the whole thing; besides, getting pissy wouldn’t have done anything but set me out on my ass with no help. I laughed with the nurses, I made comments that made them laugh and put at ease (all students, precious dears).

I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. I’m on a hard core antibiotic regimen and can’t eat solid foods for a few days. The attending came in to officiate everything and make it final. I told him I wasn’t happy with that diagnosis. He chuckled and said he wouldn’t be either. But he told me I should be ok after this regimen and to take it easy.

I’m starving. I want food. broth and water just don’t cut it. No wonder people who eat like this are grouchy bitches. Cause this shit sucks. I’ve sniped at a couple people today but nothing horrible. I mostly kept to myself. but my god someone bring me a burger!

and Duke needs to work on hiring trauma docs that look like Owen.

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take yourself on vacation

I meant to write this months ago … and just didn’t. Because who knows why. Life? Laziness? Lack of motivation? Who knows. But something jumped up and bit me and I felt I needed to write.

Back in August I took myself on vacation. My first true solo vacation. A couple years prior I had traveled alone, but met up with people at the destination. This time- completely alone. And you know what? It was glorious.

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It was originally planned to be a vacation with a friend. But things happened and she wasn’t able to go. But I had tickets to see Britney, plane tickets and hotel all bought and paid for so I said fuck it, I’ll do this on my own. I booked a few more things for myself now that it was a solo trip- spa treatment at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian. Race car experience out at the track…. researched “off the beaten path” restaurants and new restaurant openings. And how to travel solo in Las Vegas.

And I say again- I had a blast. Now, as much fun as it would have been to play second fiddle to my friend’s beauty and flirtatious nature, and haul her lightweight drunk ass back to the room at the wee hours of the night, it would have actually been fun to see how much free shit we would have scored.

But I enjoyed myself. By myself. If I wanted to go back to the room at 9 pm with a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream, who’s there to judge?

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I have been a low key fan of Britney Spears since she burst out on the scene in 1997. I have an incredibly eclectic taste in music. I will listen and enjoy just about anything. (Saw Brad Paisley here in Cary a couple summers ago.) And when I finally decided to take advantage of seeing her in concert in Las Vegas, I was unashamed in it. Along with millions of others who took the pilgrimage to Vegas over 4 years she performed at Planet Hollywood.

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As mentioned a hundred times here on this blog, I LOVE FOOD. And Las Vegas is a city for people who love food. I went to the new Morimoto restaurant at MGM. I ordered his wine, and the duck dish. Holy duck dish Batman! It was amazing. Satisfying but not filling (not like roll me to my room I’m DONE!) but didn’t leave me wanting more so I’d spend a fortune at the concert.

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I also tried out Mario Batali’s contribution to the strip in the Venetian. (this was before it came out that he’s a giant sleaze ball and a douche) I had the caprese burger with fries. (and a quick Google search shows that it is now closed …. maybe don’t be a douche and a sleaze and your restaurants won’t have to close down).

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Las Vegas is known for a lot- excess everything. mostly among tourists, drinks everywhere. Walk up refill stations. Free drinks on the casino floors. And you can stroll down the strip with your drink in hand. The popular drink was a slushie style with alcohol, since its so damn hot out there. I would fill up my cup and just sip on this while strolling down the strip. Kept me cool, and a decent buzz without the concern of losing my senses.

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I planned a spa half day (I might need to do a second blog post just for the Canyon Ranch Spa because OMG the indulgence) Got a facial and massage. The facial was amazing and ended up buying the products used. And I continue to use them. And Amazon sells them! so yes! The lady was complimentary but firm about my skin – I have lovely skin and take care of it but I could do better. So I will! And I have seen an improvement and others have complimented as well.

The massage was next level type shit. I told her about my fibromyalgia and my hot points. And she did amazing. I fell asleep during the massage. In a strangers hands. In a strange room. Naked. And I passed the hell out. She woke me up and I swear I woke up in someone else’s body. I spent the rest of the day wandering around the strip doing a little shopping.

But I say again- If you haven’t traveled alone, to anywhere, do it! It is wonderful. You are not beholden to anyone. You do you. You are on your own timetable. No one to say “10 more minutes” or “one more round” at the craps table and 1/2 hour later or 3 hours later .. and you’re starving, the restaurants stopped serving food so all you’re gonna get is the garnish on your drink. No! by yourself you go eat when you’re hungry, go to bed when you’re tired and avoid things you don’t want to do. Do your homework, don’t be stupid, and enjoy yourself!

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my default setting is anger

I’ve been officially diagnosed for only a year with fibromyalgia. I have dealt with, suffered from, tolerated and ranted against chronic pain, fatigue and the overwhelming and ever growing feeling of “AARRGGHHUUUUGGGHHHH” for 15 years.

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The things they talk to me about at the Pain Clinic are how to deal with 24/7 pain, how to tolerate the minutia of being a human, (how painful can it be to shower, dress AND go to work?) and how to deal with the depression.

I’m not depressed. I’ve been tested. I’ve been talked to. I’ve been “dealt with”. I’m angry. As this thing, this monster, creeps in and continues to take a little more of me every day I fight it as best I can but I can feel my lead on it slipping. Day by day. Stress by stress. Because I look in the mirror and I hardly recognize who I see. I’ve put on so much weight because of the medications and lack of exercise. I can’t exercise traditionally because of the pain. I wake up, I’m in pain. I come home from work, I’m in pain and exhausted from pretending to be happy and bubbly. I’m not happy and bubbly. I’m dark and twisty.

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I’m darker than anyone is allowed to know. Meredith Grey has nothing on me. It’s because of the anger. There are five stages of grief- I have been stuck in “anger” for …. a very long time. I am angry at my body for betraying me. I am angry at my willpower for not being strong enough to deny this monster entry. I am angry even, at genetics. Some experts believe you’re more inclined to have it if another family member was diagnosed/suffered from the undiagnosable. I’m angry. Always. I hide it as best I can but some days are harder than others. I lash out at coworkers, the boyfriend, random poor sales associates at stores that dared ask me to join their shoppers program. I want to explain to them what caused that because usually you have to provoke the bitch to come out.

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I have graduated to lidocaine infusions because I’m drug resistant. I go to the pain clinic and sit for a couple hours while 500 ml of poison are pumped into my system to fight this syndrome where no cure exists. So far I still get decently high on the valium they give me to start off my treatments so I doze or say random stupid shit during. And the treatments last long enough that this is my treatment plan for the foreseeable future.

But then it wears off.

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And the pain comes crashing in on my like a tornado taking out a house. I wish I could say its gradual. For both my own sake and for my doctors sake. But it isn’t. One day I am functioning at a tolerable 6, maybe 7. (if you don’t know- a fibro patients 6-7 is your 9-10) The next, I’m ramped up to a good 12-14. On a scale of 1-10. And i have to manage that pain until my next treatment. Which is still a solid 7 weeks away. During holiday season. Working retail. Lord baby Jesus, have mercy on everyone’s souls.

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But I’m angry. Always angry. It’s just what level that anger is at on a given day is the question that should be asked.

Will I shoot up my workplace? My old school? A random movie theater? No, because I still retain my sanity and humanity. I still get choked up over home coming videos of military peeps. Don’t even start with a pet story if it doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m just angry. I honestly wouldn’t know what it would feel like to have that anger buoyed. It is a constant- with good friends? yeah I’ll laugh, tell silly stories, drink, eat, be merry but the anger is there. It’s a constant companion. Almost something warm and fuzzy to curl up with on cold nights. Only this beast is hot and stabby. Makes me toss and turn all night. Makes me stalk around like a caged animal, with an anger no one can manage, no one can touch, no one can comprehend.

I know why I’m angry too. So you’d think I could move on to acceptance and get through the 5 stages and be on my miserably merry way in my fibro land. But nope. Anger has proved to be a nice little comfort when everything else goes to shit. I’m angry because I cannot do what I used to be able to do. I’m angry because I do not look like I used to. I cannot fit into some of my clothes. I can’t work all day, then come home, put on my hiking boots and go for a 3 mile hike. I can’t get my laundry done, vacuum, dust AND do errands all in the same day anymore. I can’t make plans with friends without feeling the dread of “will I cancel on them because I’ll decline because feel like shit?”

I’m angry. I’m not depressed. Don’t assume depression is my diagnosis with my shitty syndrome of fibromyalgia and because I look the way I do. Anger should be a diagnosis. And no, I don’t need anger management classes. I need my brain and spinal cord to stop freaking the fuck out and accept pain on normal levels.

And now for a little eye candy because why not?

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storms and health

Storms and other big weather events have always affected me health wise. Migraines especially. But I feel that shit in my bones. Cold weather, you know, the 2 weeks of winter weather we get here in central NC … I can feel where I was thrown into a wall in college by a freaked out horse … my whole body will just ache with that cold, deep ache. But especially my nose … where I broke it. Its a great feeling. Feels broken all over again.

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Ever since I started lidocaine infusions as a treatment plan for fibromyalgia, I can almost predict exactly when the medicine will wear off. Whenever there is a storm event here in the triangle of N.C. We’re currently preparing and waiting to see what Hurricane Irma plans to do … if she even has a plan or is just so pissed off and angry at the world she’s just going to attack as much as she possibly can so she’s just going to veer and steer in every direction she can.

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But the first time I had the lidocaine infusion, it only lasted 3 weeks when it wore off in the middle of a horrible storm event at the end of April. And it felt like someone had taken a bat and whacked the crap out of me. I remember crying some days as I just deteriorated into the pain. I didn’t have anything to get me through. My next infusion was at the end of June and this one has lasted this long – it was a slower decline this time … I could feel it happening and was better prepared for the pain to creep its way back in … warn others that it was coming. (I, like others who get uncomfortable, can get grouchy/bitchy) So as my pain scale crept back up to an 8 … I also had prepared my doctors better how I react to the wearing off and I have meds to help with the tapering. This time there is only 2 weeks between tolerating this and my next infusion. We have all decided despite the tachycardia I experienced at the last treatment, this is the best course of care for me as I am drug resistant to everything else we’ve tried. (I’ve been through 10 different medications in 2 years trying to find a treatment plan to manage chronic pain).

The tachycardia was chalked up to a subconscious reaction to my body receiving a toxic dose of lidocaine. They tried to tell me I was having a panic attack – I told them if I was, my brain didn’t tell me about it. I was literally think of nothing. I was high on valium and the last thought I had was my pulse ox monitor looked like a transformer. I was even drifting off to sleepy town. Then my chest felt funny, and I felt light headed and then my chest felt like it was caving in and all of a sudden 7 nurses and 2 doctors are hovering and moving mad fast and pure oxygen is being pumped into my face. My brain finally came back to earth and decided to take control of my body again and got everything back under control (Heart! HEART! Sonofabitch … Calm down. We’re good! we NEED this lidocaine to keep this body functioning! Get your shit together! LUNGS … in …. out…. slower ….. there you go …. thats it …. SLOWER! Once we get our shit together we get to go home and sleep and that’s what we all really want.)

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So here I am. 2 weeks out from my next infusion and I can’t wait. Seriously. I appreciate that I have a treatment that has zero side effects (if you’re going to react it’ll happen in the first hour of being pumped full of a toxic level of lidocaine) that brings my pain level down to a tolerable 5/6 down from a constant and throbbing 8/9. I could do without the tachycardia next time though.

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the joys and pitfalls of having resting bitch face

I suffer from resting bitch face. Or RBF. or more politely known, angry resting face. Or any many number of other phrases people come up with. And are also accompanied with “why you mad?” “whats wrong?”.

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I have had it as long as I can remember. I have photos going back to when I was 3 with this face. I call it what it is “resting bitch face”. I also call it my “fighting aging the best way that I can” face.

It can cause problems in different areas of life. Work mostly. People see me and go “whoa, why so angry?” Not angry, just not standing around with a dumb smile on my face. People feel they must dig deep and get to the root of my problem. Thing is- I don’t generally have problems. 90% of the time I’m thinking of food. the other 10% …. what I’m gonna watch on Netflix. My life is really exciting and thrill seeking yea?

But when people don’t know this about me they are automatically taken aback and generally leave me alone. Which I’m ok with. I haven’t had the multitude of problems many woman lament about on Twitter or Facebook running into men. Mostly because I think I have “back off or I’ll cut you bow to stern” tattooed on my face that only men can see. And some women. I have been fortunate and have only faced issues in extreme circumstances. I credit my resting bitch face for this. Cause it’s pretty epic. Especially when I also get “cold dead eye stare” going.

The biggest issue I run into is “why so angry? you should smile!” to which my response tends to be a horrible grimace or if I’m feeling frisky I’ll tell them they look any kind of way and do something about it. I don’t take kindly to being told to smile. Unless its my mom…. then its grin and bear it bitch, she’s your mom.

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Actually, there really aren’t any downfalls. Maybe from the outside there are, (not the best thing to encounter at work) but for me, I’m ok with it. I simply respond with “I have epic bitch face” and that seems to make it all ok. Or they just don’t feel like trying to pick a fight with an Irish girl with a resting bitch face.

But remember, if we ever come across each other, if I have resting bitch face, and I am looking off into the distance, I am most likely thinking about food. How to prepare it, what to cook, what I’m going to buy later to cook with the meat I have in the freezer. Like I said, its not a big exciting life.

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Why Do We Write?

I started this blog many years ago to cope with my job at a hotel. I had some pretty great stories. I also posted stories about cooking … trying out new recipes and how they turned out. I left the hotel for retail and since stopped writing too much about work (retail didn’t have the same oomph as hospitality … like I said, there were some good stories, like how the hotel flooded the weekend of UNC graduation, or how I would have to chase hookers out of the hotel, or call the cops at least once a week, or had to wrangle a snake out of a guest room because my 6’4″ 220 lb maintenance man “didn’t mess with no snakes”. Then was told by a guest I needed to do a ritual sacrifice of it because it was of the Devil himself. No, I’m going to release Fluffikins into the woods away from your crazy hoodoo believing self and hope he makes it.

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Like I said, some good stories. But lately, retail is offering up some good stories too. Like, I could write a pilot for a sitcom and actually pitch it to a studio and make bank stories. Like the couple who came in wanting a 2 carat diamond set in platinum on a $3000 budget. Or the lady who tried to convince 3 people with over 50 years experience in the industry between the 3 of them that the stone she dropped off to have set was a. worth $50,000 and b. a rare purple tanzanite found in the 1800’s. Tanzanite wasn’t discovered until the late 1960’s. This all happened just in the last week. An extremely quick math deduction (measuring the stone vs its actual weight) declared it a cubic zirconia. If you’re gonna lie, make sure you’re not lying to people who know their business.

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I also write about my struggles with my weight and fibromyalgia. Because they are struggles and those two little bastards go hand in hand. I have fibro, which makes me feel like poo, in turn makes exercise no fun. I took Jack for a walk this evening, and I could be wrong, and it could have just been the 85 degree weather with 75% humidity, but we both kind of felt like crap after a 20 minute walk. I do feel far better since i had my lidocaine infusion on Friday (and my little heart episode keeping things exciting and nurses on their toes) but the pain is always there; its just been downgraded from a roaring pissed off lion to a fluffy rowdy kitten. My weight could also be a combination of factors- medications (I’m on 3 that affect weight and sex drive) and the fact that anything more strenuous than walking is agonizing most days, though I would punch baby penguins to ride a horse again…. talk about a work out. and I wouldn’t bitch to anyone. Have you ever ridden a horse dear reader? If not, you should. It changes your entire world. I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying friends on their first rides and its life affirming, life changing, and you understand the word serenity when you’re in the saddle. I’m not talking the spaceship though I’d kill something cute and fuzzy for that too.

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I’ve gotten off track. Maybe not … I’m not sure. I write because it allows me to see what is going on inside. I don’t write about politics or world events because everyone else is. Yes, I have opinions on them, yes a whole lot of shit needs to change. When I was high on valium for my infusion I distinctly remember telling a friend that what the world needs now is valium. Write policies while high on valium. See how much people care about who marries whom, and who is peeing in which bathroom when everyone is happy and carefree on valium.

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But I want to start writing more. To amuse myself, maybe you blessed reader, if you’ve read this long, with my shenanigans and antics. My cooking, which my boyfriend claims to be some of the best he’s ever experienced, and he should know as he’s worked in kitchens his whole adult life. Raw talent is what he calls it. I tell him I just do what my mom told me … just follow the recipe. I don’t think he believed me when I told him that’s literally how I learned to cook- until we went home for Christmas and mom said those exact words about a new recipe her and dad were going to try- “just follow the recipe”.

So yes, you’ll be inundated with new posts about work, life and cooking. Because the real world is shit and we all need a little amusement. And working jewelry retail is about as amusing as it gets.

for your (and my) viewing pleasure

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Not Today Satan ….

well, maybe today… .possibly tomorrow. I just have to hold on until Friday. Then I have my infusion treatment which, pray to the sweet baby Jesus in a manger, continues to work. It has to work.

Thing is- I have learned to play nice with my demons from years past. Hell, sometimes I’ll even trot them out with friends when we’re drinking and we need a funny story “remember when my ex….” only, its funny now … wasn’t so funny then. My demons have been reduced to furbies that are only a little scary if you stare at them in the middle of the night and they start to talk without any prompts. But they have invited along new friends – that are bigger, angrier and have toothier. And don’t seem to care that no matter how hard I fight, they’ll continue to pound on the door to get in and force me to give up. But I can’t give up. Because where does that leave me? Still in pain, but reduced to a puddle of human rocking back and forth on my bed hiding in a blanket fort.

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I read these blogs of others with similar struggles- those with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and other autoimmune disorders that only if you too are a survivor, only then can you truly understand what its like. And many of them say they can spend days in bed during a flare. And I wonder, what do you do? Do you have a job that allows you to spend days in bed? Are you a self employed person? Do you work from home? Or are you on disability? I cannot spend days in bed. I’m lucky if I get to spend my days off in bed. I have to drag my ass to work, put on a happy face, and try not to kill anyone around me.

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It’s soul crushing having this disorder. The new not friendly demons continuously bang at the door wanting to bring friends like anxiety (cause I don’t have enough of it already) depression (get the fuck away from me with that shit, I don’t have the time nor the inclination) guilt (I have moments of feeling guilt with this – when I don’t cook dinner, or cancel on friends, or can’t pull my weight at work, or do spend a day in bed just reading and cuddling with Jack). Those toothy demons also sometimes bring around anger. No, ok, fine always anger. Anger and I seem to be bedmates. I’m angry at this disorder trying to take over my life. I’m angry at not being able to do laundry, and grocery shop and vacuum and walk the dog all in the same day, then go to bed and wake up the next day and not feel like I’d been run over by a Mack truck then backed over by a zamboni.

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I have dabbled with the idea of seeing a therapist. The pain clinic at Duke has me meet with one once a month to see “where I am” as far as the treatment plan and self care plan they have me on. Where I am? I’m pissed off. Always. The stretches that are supposed to help, hurt. And they don’t get better. The meds that are supposed to help me sleep – don’t. They just make me gain weight. Most likely from lack of sleep. I use up most of my spoons before I even go to work lately. Not familiar with the spoon theory? There’s a helpful link. When you, dear reader, are most likely a normal functioning adult human who doesn’t have a chronic illness (I know some of you do have one and I ache for you) you don’t think about the steps it takes to get out of bed, go to the bathroom, take the dog out, shower and get dressed…. that just cost me about 6-8 spoons. On a good day.

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Thing is, I have seen a therapist once before- right after my divorce- and she flayed me open and left me exposed and didn’t give me the tools to sew myself back up. So I’m quite wary about the whole practice of psychology. Yes, based off that one experience- I didn’t want to go to her in the first place but I agreed per my boss at the time. And I don’t like talking about myself. Shocking I know coming from a person with a blog. Here, in blogosphere, it’s fine. Because I can’t see your lovely faces and I’m not expecting feedback. But as people get to know me, and my bastard demon, they get that look on their face, and they always ask “how are you feeling?” and I always take a beat and ask myself, do they really want to know, or are they asking to be polite? so I answer ” I’m ok” or “I’m upright today” or sardonically, “I’m alive”. Do they really want to hear how my spine feels like its been made from molten lava? How I’ve never been shot before but I can imagine the pain as my hip feels like the fiery blast of a bullet just exploded there? Always? Or how today its the left side of my body that’s decided it wants to go numb and have that cold depressed feeling you get after a body part falls asleep? but from shoulder down, and through the knee? Or how where I broke my nose 14 years ago, I can still feel the bone ache? How my feet tingle and burn if I forget to take my B12 vitamin? How the L5 in my back screams if I stand too long, but if I sit, its just as painful? How my skin itches the moment I get out of the shower, so I put lotion on, only to have to do it again a couple hours later even though the bottle promises 24 hour moisture? How if you stand close enough to me, you can physically feel the inflammation my body is giving off despite the medication I’m on to slow and stop the inflammation? How my fingers always feel swollen now, (they’re not) and I can’t make a proper fist, and the way I hold a pen is not how I was taught to hold a pen because I can’t grip properly because of the sensation of swollen fingers?

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Its awesome really. If this hasn’t taught me anything else it has taught me patience. Not with myself because I remember me before this pile of crap got heaped upon me and there’s a irrational part of my brain that continues to think its temporary, that one day I’ll wake up and it’ll be over. Some magical medicinal unicorn will have visited me in my sleep and heal me. I remember that I could go for hours on my feet without needing a break and be whatever you needed. Handyman? got it. Cleaning girl? on it. muck stalls? got that too. Now, I can’t even walk across the store without feeling the need to lean on a counter and silently scream in pain. What have I become?

It has taught me patience with others though. Not those that get the sniffles and feel like the world is ending. No, take a Zyrtec and suck it up buttercup. But those that have daily struggles like mine. Which, yes, a rational person would say “well, if you can find the patience for them, can’t you find it for yourself?” You would think so. And I’m working on it. Progress is slow.

In other completely unrelated news, I binge on Netflix so I’ve waited a long time for Grey’s Anatomy to load season 13. and I’m binging the shit out of that. And all the boys are still so very pretty. Here’s to my favorite. He so deserves better than he’s gotten so far.

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first you make a roux

This was everywhere in New Orleans. After a while it felt not only like a cooking rule but a life mantra.

If the roux is no good, don’t worry, just toss it. Start over. Don’t fret over it. Same with life goals. People get too caught up in making sure life goals go exactly to plan. If it doesn’t work out, don’t fret, just make a new one.

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That was the attitude in that city. Don’t fret. Just keep going.

My last adventure to the city was an amazing one. I went with a great friend who is just full of life and I feel full of life when I’m with her. We have amazing adventures when we’re together- whether we go someplace fantastic like New Orleans or hopefully one day Japan or Paris or just her backyard of Washington D.C.

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We went on a cocktail tour of New Orleans that took us around the city and introduced us to bars that had been there since New Orleans became a city. Drinks that got their start there in the Big Easy. We made friends on that tour that we’re still friends with via Facebook as they were on a world tour from Australia.

We went on our own walking tour of New Orleans and found fantastic bookstores and little hidden nooks of stores that revealed fantastic stories of the city. We went to The Court of Two Sisters for a birthday brunch. Morton’s Steakhouse where she had a ton of gift card’s and we made a server’s whole week. Went to the boardwalk where I threw my wedding band to the river.

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start with a roux.

its a life mantra.

I did the thing that I hate – I wrote a blog post before a recipe- only I didn’t actually say this was about a recipe in the beginning… I am now! I made chicken étouffée tonight and that was what brought back a flood of memories of New Orleans. I love that city. I found the recipe in the treme cookbook. It was really good. I suggest it. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings.

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