the universe unfolding as it should

(Both. Both is good. But this is essential. You only get one life with yourself.)

Lemme be real: I’m probably gonna blog the same stuff a lot and that’s because I’m honestly too lazy to go back and check. Y’know, this ain’t an essay.

Good memories. I just wanna say that I’m glad the parts of the brain responsible for memory and smell are close together. The other day I needed something I thought might be in my dad’s top toolbox so I opened it, and out came rushing how he used to smell — sawdust, traces of old varnish…that sort of thing, being a patternmaker/woodworker. It was comforting, like he was there again after 9 years, just somewhere in the house. It made him feel tangible again.

Career (in)adequacy. I make a difference, sure, but I always feel like I could be doing more. There’s nothing more I love about my job than seeing genuine smiles on people’s faces when they leave satisfied, and I need to hang onto that when I’m stressed at work. 

We had a patron, a guy just a few years younger, ask me for help on his job application one day because the wording was really weird in one section of questions. I tried to help him reason it out, but felt bad because I had no idea either. About a week later he returned with a huge smile on his face, and told me he got the job. That was one of the moments that made me remember part of why I’m a librarian.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks is how much I need to put myself into more training, to really throw myself on the librarian track instead of being so passive. I signed up for an online seminar available through work and am going to seek out some of those certificates you can receive online for learning different coding skills, etc. Anything to get myself serious about being the best version of me at work too.

Personal life. I’d quote The Big Lebowski and say “new shit has come to light,” but this isn’t new, it’s just been thrown into stark (yo who else can’t wait for GoT?) lighting lately. The way I communicate with people I care about can use a lot of work but as I said, this isn’t new. I just need to finally get my shit together about it. Keeping it real is fine, but a cooler head would be nice. A more diplomatic way of expressing things has been my goal. I’m strong and have inner patience I know I just have to tap into, and I try to give myself time before I answer something I might get volatile about real fast now.

Keeping my mental illnesses in check has been the ongoing struggle it’s been especially since I was 10. I’ve been making baby steps though, ever since Friday. So far, things have been okay. Learning how to adult is a frakkin’ rollercoaster.

Everyday, I try to tell myself: 

Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.

And…

I will change the things I cannot accept.

speak of the devil

Jumping off my post before last, back to epilepsy!

December 8, I was working on one of my two papers due for the end of the semester.  I was stressed, worried about graduation the coming Saturday the 12th, and about the paper.  I had a paper due the next day as well — both of which were to be 15-20 pages — so as you can imagine my mental state wasn’t the best.

Around 10:30pm I had a seizure.  Of course, I didn’t know anything until I woke up to my mom telling me I’d had one, and making sure I was okay.  Again, we searched for my glasses and once they turned up and I rested for a few minutes, I resumed my paper, determined to finish by the midnight deadline.

I finished it just before midnight (but at what cost?), and god only knows how it ended.  I only made it to 14? maybe? pages, and I haven’t read it since.  I emailed my professor the following day and explained why the ending might suck.  She commented that it did end a little “unceremoniously” but not in a bad way — I still ended up with an A in the class, so it must not have been too terrible.  At least the first twelve pages of the paper made sense.

You’d think that’s it, but…

Later that night, around 2, I had another seizure.  I was still awake at that time, which was surprising given the postictal state is usually one of heavy sleep.  I woke up breathing extremely hard and practically on my stomach, and I remember mumbling to Mom (who had come in again) that I was tired of being woken up to hear I had a seizure.

She decided to take me to the emergency room after the second one (because it was previously unheard of for me to have more than one in one day), and everything checked out fine.  I got a CT scan, got prescribed some klonopin, and went home to rest.

By the time graduation came around Saturday, I had two dark-purple black eyes and a scratch on my cheek.  I think patrons at work thought I’d been abused.  Thank god for Ben Nye concealer, as I was able to hide that mess for graduation.  When I walked across the stage I practically danced.  After a harrowing week of feeling like crap, my mind in another world and not allowed to rest up after that first seizure, I still graduated.

Whenever I think about how I’m not sure I’d survive something, or I think I can’t do it, I just remember that I walked for graduation and finished two papers the week I had two seizures in a row.  I can do anything.

 

writing? what writing? definitely not here

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, both privately in my journal and here (but especially here).  I’ve only recently begun writing fiction again (hallelujah) after a months-long dry spell.  Said spell had been driven by the anxiety that constantly described my state of being–thank you, prescribed meds, for finally getting me to feel like a human again (which is why all the ~BIG PHARMA~ people are full of it).

I’m currently going through the routine of getting-medical-stuff-finally-checked-out-and-as-a-result-get-on-tons-of-meds, which is about as much fun as it sounds.  Going from three, at most, pills a day to at least six–unless I have a headache, and then it’s eight–sucks, but I guess it’s worth it for feeling better, for not dying sooner because of these disorders at least, and for Getting My Life Together.

2014 was an eye-opener of a year.  I did a lot of things I thought I’d either never get to do, and/or never be able to do, and I did some things that weren’t really all that great and looking back even less so, but I learned from all of them.  The best thing was absolutely Ireland back in March.  I thought it’d be decades before I got to travel out-of-country unless expenses were paid, but thanks, student loans.  I got an invaluable experience, met some awesome new pals, and had to adjust from jet lag for, like, two months after I got back.  I really should’ve read some of those ‘recover from jet lag’ books….

I learned my limits, as far as my own mental and psychological health, and feel like I’m only just now healing from things in the last few years.  I learned morality is often made gray, no matter how much you think you’ve decided on stance or a principle.  I learned that anyone who makes you feel anxious, worried, and constantly self-critical is probably not good for body or spirit.

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve learned how to dip out of situations that make me uncomfortable or no longer happy.  People’s feelings have become less of a concern of mine and nurturing of my own person has risen in priorities.  I don’t mean that in an “I don’t care about how you feel” way, but rather an, “I’m doing me and you do you and as long as you’re cool I’m cool” way.  The growing-up way.  I’m proud of being able to write again and that it doesn’t feel like a chore; I thought I’d permanently broken something inside and it was killing me.  I think it was just one of those recharging phases most writers and artists and creators go through–something about experiencing life in order to have something about which to write.

My “new” (since July) job downtown is so, so much busier and productive than the library I worked at before.  That was a great library to start at but I was ready to move on.  I usually have at least one project to work on, and get along well with everyone in my department.  This is definitely the biggest place I’ve worked as far as employees, patrons/customers, and building space goes, but I think I’ve done well with the adjustment.

Grad school is still grad school.  Ready for it to be over but also enjoying it.  I’ve changed ideas of what I want to do so much, but at this point in my life feel like a Ph.D. might be…uh, “fun” is one way to put it.  Masochistic, maybe, but I like writing.  And the niches I’ve burrowed myself into with library science have awakened my love for research all over again.  The topics I’ve enjoyed and could see myself writing extensively about are LGBTQ archives as well as the diversity not-so-inherent within the field.  I think either would be viable for a dissertation but I’ve got time to decide all that.

And I’ve really reached the limit of what I want to post about my life today.  It’s been a busy year personally, professionally, and academically.  I’m looking forward to what the next 10 months will bring.

Positivity!

It’s time to talk about my new job, already.  I started in late October, but now I feel like I’ve been there long enough (almost six months!) to talk about it. The last time this blog saw a post dedicated to my employment, I was overwhelmed, saturated with anxiety and stuck in what felt like a whirlpool of stagnation and unhappiness.  If you think that’s dramatic that’s fehn (said in the style of Cartman from South Park), but then you probably don’t understand how my being an introvert rubbed up against being required to have conversations with hundreds of strangers a week (because even customers I talked with–with only, like, two exceptions–were just “regulars” so there was little to no personal interaction outside of work), in a noisy, crowded, hectic environment, then you never will understand that it’s not a case of dramatics.

And that’s fine, not only because you don’t have to but also because I’m not asking you to.  I’m glad for extroverts or introverts who don’t mind socializing with strangers (the latter of which probably isn’t too high of a number, if I had to guess) because we need them in order for these places to be successful, of course, but I think most introverts will ‘get it’ when I say that job was Not For Me.

So how do I like the library?

Well, let me put it this way: if I ever had any doubts about that being the ‘right’ career path for me (though I think I could pursue a number of careers and be content with my life, but we now know that none of them would be retail-related), they’re gone.  Kaput.  I have never been more at peace with my job situation than I am now.  Dreading work isn’t really dreading the work of the library so much as it is dreading the little teeny bit of socialization-with-strangers I have to do, or those days everybody has when you say, “You know, I just don’t feel like going anywhere today, even/especially work.”

My coworkers are friendly, supportive, and encouraging.  They always ask and make sure that I’ve at least had the opportunity to take a break.  A big thing I lost moving jobs was familiarity with fellow staff.  Of course!  Being at a job for three and a half years versus a new job is going to bring that territory regardless unless you never spoke to your coworkers or interacted much.  I had/have personal ties to most of my coworkers at the store, knowing three core staff members before I even started working there from having come in years ago, but as I told my library coworker the other day, I’m finally coming out of my shell there. (He replied, “Well, come on out, sister!”)

It’s just who I am.  When I’m somewhere completely new, knowing nobody, it can take me a while to open up.  I still don’t even curse much, if at all but once a month maybe, around my coworkers at the library–something I’m sure the store employees have a hard time believing.  But that could also be attributed to my change in attitude and lifestyle, and I’m okay with it.  I want to present myself more professionally, because it is a professional place.  I can count on one hand the number of library employees I’ve seen/experienced or heard of as being unprofessional, and I’ve met/been in meetings and orientations with around thirty BPL employees or so (and again, some of them I’ve only heard about–what not to do, that kind of thing).

I don’t have to try and sell anything–and if I had to choose my weakest area of anything ever, it’s selling things.  Even over math.  I don’t convince people well if I don’t have personal experience with something.  I can tell you my experience with something if I have it, but otherwise I’m going off what somebody else has told me about a product/things I’ve read/heard/otherwise acquired, but I’m kind of the exact opposite of pushy.  I can’t even politely be pushy, because a) I dislike salespeople being pushy on me, and b) I just don’t know how.

A card is no longer a case of me trying to convince Grumpy Customer #400 to get one even though GC#400 is gonna gripe about how “it doesn’t do much good anyway” no matter how wrong they can be about that.  But at the library, if you don’t have a card, you can’t check out or use the computers, it’s that simple.  One of the first changes I noticed about myself was that I began to grow a backbone.  I began to stand up for myself.  I’m still working on it, of course, but the fact that it’s even happening is astounding and I think really adds to my growth as a human being.  (But damn, that “the customer is always right” crap sure gets ingrained in your head.  That is probably one of the dumbest things about retail (though I understand why it even became a thing, even if I disagree with it.))

It doesn’t mean I’m rude to patrons.  Everyone who knows me and how I interact with strangers knows I’m polite, sometimes too much so, and it’s virtually impossible for me to be rude to somebody when they don’t give me a reason to be.   But it means I’ll stand my ground because we have to.  You have a $40 fine?  Well you better pay that sucker down to $5 or under if you wanna check out because I can’t do anything otherwise.  You’re watching porn on our computers?  Expect to have your card suspended.  And so on.  If you don’t follow the policy, you don’t get to partake in the services we provide–it’s as simple as that.

I have a set schedule which is still fairly flexible if I or somebody else needs a day off (though I rarely do, because of the next point).  My work day, no matter what day it is, is over no later than six p.m.  I have energy–I’ve been cleaning my room, have cleaned up around the house more than I ever was before, and when it was warm for those two-ish weeks recently, I hiked nearly every day.  Do you know how many times I wanted to go out or wanted/needed to clean my room and I couldn’t because I simply didn’t have the energy?  Oh, I dunno, constantly.  I can hear myself think at work.  I almost never feel overwhelmed.  I’ve also gotten into waking up earlier and going to bed earlier on my own.  I could cry out of happiness at that fact alone (even though sometimes it’s inconvenient, like being tired at 10:30 is sometimes pretty lame).

I feel like a new me has pushed past the old, dried-up sponge me and blossomed into a happier, healthier me whose mind is being stimulated by learning about things that pertain to my future career.  Like one of my coworkers tells me, “When you wake up and go to work now, you are living your dream,” and she’s right.

I’m not saying I’m ‘above’ retail.  It paid my bills for three years, and I learned a hell of a lot–not just about what could be making your dog itch (although if I never talk about flea products again, it will still be too soon), but many other things.  I don’t think anybody should be looked down on for what they do for a living unless they’re harming others.  But I’m saying it’s not for me, and that I’ve finally found something that IS for me, and it’s awesome.

let’s talk about books

(Warning: this is a Very Long Post™)

Ah, reading. My old friend–well, sort of. You see, reading and I had a bit of a falling-out in high school. I read viciously from the time I was however old enough to read on my own, devouring books the way…no, never mind, the part of my brain that makes analogies is on vacation right now after having taken the MAT, so check back in a while.

The point is, I devoured books one right after another, greedier than the witch in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale, making it almost a personal challenge to see how many books I could handle reading at one time. I wove through throngs of schoolmates (or, typically, marched in a single-file line in elementary and middle school) with my nose stuck in whichever one of many books I had in my possession at the time, and I even got in trouble for reading books during classes a couple of times.

Then high school and the dreaded Required Reading – with capital R’s because it was HIGH SCHOOL (oh my gawd) – happened and, aside from the Harry Potter books which never took long, and the handful of required reading I actually thoroughly read and enjoyed, I didn’t really read much. And this is definitely one of those ‘hindsight is 20/20’ situations. The internet hasn’t helped much, either, with all the distractions it offers.  I wish I’d kept up with reading with the same excitement as before during these four years, because getting back into the habit of something, even if it’s something you love, is hard.

However, in college I began to repair my and reading’s relationship. I actually read the majority of the required reading assigned to me (the exceptions were only ever in English classes, which I don’t understand; maybe I just don’t like the idea of breaking down literature that finely; I still have yet to figure out this aspect of my personality because I can still talk someone’s ear off about character development and archetypes all damn day). I read a couple of books for fun during a few semesters – the one that sticks out the most is probably-unsurprisingly Vladimir Nabokov’s classic, Lolita – and I have many in progress that I started in college and just never got around to finishing. Yet. (Sorry especially to Kurt Vonnegut. You’re next, I promise.)

And even though I feel like I read more slowly these days (nothing has even come close to reading all 870 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in twenty-two hours), that’s just not true. I read John Green’s Looking for Alaska in two days, his Paper Towns in one, Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire in eight hours, and the real question is, why did I EVER think I got slower at reading?

The only difference is now I choose books that might move at a slower pace than, say, Harry Potter, a book series rife with wildly imagined and vividly described magical worlds like you’ve never even dreamed–and those books of the former kind take longer. And that’s okay, because I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember a significant chunk of Order of the Phoenix.  Sometimes you have to take your time to fully absorb everything, to get every last detail.  If I’m proofreading something for someone else I take my time so I’m sure to not miss a thing, and that’s probably for the best for everyone involved.

But no matter how much time has passed since I last picked up a book, the stark truth of reading always exists: there is nothing quite like getting lost in a fictional world, especially if it’s well-written and so vivid you have a perfect image of it in your mind that might, with added details over time, shift and change but hopefully always stay tucked away as a possible retreat into fiction, into somebody else’s problems for a while, or somebody else’s happy ending, or just to a white-towered city of fantasy. Middle-Earth has to be one of the coolest fictional places I’ve ever ‘been.’ I’m not sure I’ve ever felt complex emotions like those that constantly swirled around inside my mind during all of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Movies are good for transporting the audience into an environment in an entirely different way than books; for me, writers have a way of dragging me down into the nitty-gritty of it all; for example, while the HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone film has a charming scene of his first visit to the hidden alley and shopping area where he will buy all his new wizarding supplies, replete with storefronts and strange-looking background characters that certainly live up to the book’s descriptions, I still feel like an outside observer. I’m not part of it.

But with books, I can almost feel the uneven cobblestone under my feet. I could feel the terrifying new-ness with which Harry experienced this new place, because I had never been there before. I can feel people breezing and jostling by. I mean, just read this quote from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and tell me you can’t smell the lilac and roses or hear the “sullen murmur of the bees”:

The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn. […] Now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion.

The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

But if you’re more of the movie kind, or you just don’t have time to read or don’t enjoy it or whatever, hey, that’s your thing. From experience, if you try to force yourself to read a book just to read it and not because you want to continue reading it, you won’t enjoy it. So do yourself a favor. Quit reading this way-too-long blog post and read something that’ll sweep you off your feet, or make you question everything, or make you cry your eyes out–or whatever you feel. Find something that speaks to you because when you do, you’ll always be able to go back to it to find yourself again.

“There are certain emotions in your body that not even your best friend can sympathize with, but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.” -Björk

it’s real, the pain you feel.

Well hey there, WordPress, it’s been a while.  Mostly because for a while, I was writing things that weren’t blog posts, but lately, it’s because I haven’t been writing ANYTHING.  (PS: Writer’s block sucks.  It is quite possibly the worst thing for a writer, ever.)  I’m hoping a blog post will get the creative juices flowing again.  I’ll let you know if it works.

I’ve had an idea of what to write for a while now, but again, never got around to it (obviously).  I was thinking about college and graduate school a while back, and how, just after my dad died, I kept thinking about how I had to finish college because it would have made him so proud, and how proud it would make my mom and family and everything, but mostly my dead father.  Who could care less because he’s dead.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I had some vague notion of “honoring his memory” by finishing college and finishing it well, with good grades and all that, when really, it isn’t about my dad.  It never was.  It was me not realizing that I could finish college and make good grades and graduate with honors because I wanted to.  Because I wanted to prove not only to other people but most of all to myself that I’m capable of that.  That I’m capable of what I never did in high school because I was lazy, and that I’m capable of hard work and the benefits of said hard work, and I succeeded.

By the end of my time at Montevallo, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, Dad would be so proud of me.”  Well, I did sometimes, of course I always had my “what would Dad think of me now?” in the back of my mind, I’m sure I always will to some extent.  But most of the time, it was, “I’m proud of me.”  It was no longer about carrying on a legacy.  In college, I was proud of the woman I’d become.  I was happy that I could be a hard-working student with a knack for writing and putting in the effort that my professors appreciated, but also make time for watching entire series with my roommate, and going home on the weekends and seeing my family and enjoying my free time (or sometimes, making free time when I didn’t really have it, but hey, I did fine, didn’t I?).

And with graduation, I heard so much of, “Your dad would be so proud of you,” sometimes with an ‘is’ instead of a ‘would be’ – you know, the expected.  And that’s great.  I agree, he would be.  My still-alive family is, but most importantly, I am.  I used to be afraid of seeming like I was bragging about having graduated.  But my friend Ali once said something to the extent of being proud is nothing to be ashamed of because it IS a big accomplishment.  So, there it is – I am proud of me!  Of my accomplishments and my perseverance and my overall strength (because let’s face it – sometimes I’m not really strong, at all, but overall, yeah, I think I am a pretty strong person) and my good qualities!

***

So, that brings me to Part II, and I guess the meat, of this post: grad school, or lack thereof.

I, like an idiot, only applied to one grad school, and what’s considered an elite one at that.  And, spoilers if you didn’t know: I didn’t get in.  I have the grades, but for whatever reason, they didn’t accept me, and I think a large part of that is lack of experience (but I have yet to find out what got me booted out of the acceptance pool).  And coming to terms with that has been, and remains to be, really, really hard.  I should have applied to more so that surely SOME kind of acceptance would come and I wouldn’t be really soul-crushed like I am right now.

Actually, I’ve fallen into a big rut with being rejected from the only place I applied to, and why I didn’t apply to more than one haunts me daily.  Every time I put on my work uniform, I hate myself for not applying to more than one place.  I was lazy and decided I was so tired of having to deal with the stupid rigorous application that I just left it at the one.  And as a result, I dug my own Unhappiness For At Least One More Year grave.  Which is not necessarily true.  I COULD get a job at a local library (and have the possibility on the horizon, but haven’t gotten a callback from the interview yet) and love it and get paid better and it challenge me intellectually and not be completely unhappy with my life.  But as I see it, it’s just stagnating.

It’s no secret that retail is crummy.  You get to deal with people who act like the world must stop for them and complain to corporate about dumb crap and who act like the smallest mistake is the biggest deal in the whole world.  You get to deal with ten-year-olds speaking condescendingly to you and bossing you around, because guess what?  THEY are the customer.  You get to ask the same questions over and over and pretend to give even half a crap about complete strangers’ problems while dreaming of handling old documents in an archives department or even just shelving books, for god’s sake.  Repeat ad infinitum.  I have an infinite number of stupid mistakes I make at work, simply because I’ve turned my brain off.  Retail isn’t the type of work that really requires a lot of critical thinking.

Recently, my coworkers have gotten each other into this show called Weeds, you’ve probably heard about it in some fashion, and Nancy, the main character, says this about working as a manager of a maternity clothes store:

I wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive myself to work, put on a name tag, take my brain out of my skull and place it in a drawer. I spend the next nine hours staring at people, pretending to be interested in their happiness, tolerating the company of my co-workers, staring at the clock. At the end of the day I take my name tag off, open the drawer, reach for my brain, plop it back inside, walk to the employee parking lot and drive myself home. And it’s really, really boring. And it looks like I’m gonna be doing it for a long, long time.

That sums up my feelings on retail, too, and of the pit a combination of my own poor decisions, a sinking global economy, and bad luck I’m currently stuck in (preposition at the end of a sentence aside).

But it’s a job.  It pays the bills.  I’m grateful for the means to pay my own crap and help with household bills and give back to the woman who’s provided so much for ME all my life.

But at what point is my unhappiness not worth it?  I can’t quit, like that’s just not in the cards, because of bills and hard economic times and all that crap.  And it’s the worst feeling in the world.  Because I’m just stagnating.  I’m not growing intellectually, I’m not being challenged.  I miss college SO MUCH because on a near-daily basis, I was growing intellectually, I was being challenged.  I’ve been reading a lot, and I do have some intelligent coworkers that I have meaningful conversations with, but how much can you talk about interpreting the events of history or what the color red means in a book or whatever, while you’re at work, pretending to care about peoples’ problems and asking repetitive questions that have no significance on your own life at all, over and over again?

Little to none, that’s how much.

And as a result, I can think of no other word to describe me right now other than “stagnating.”  And I’m trying to find my way out of the labyrinth of suffering, and the solution isn’t forgiveness this time (Looking for Alaska reference), it’s finding a job relevant to my interests and future plans and getting the experience I need to get out of this stupid labyrinth and do something I really love.  And why is that SO hard?  To ‘build character’, whatever that means?  Okay, I get it, I appreciate the plight of the retail worker now.  I respect those I, frankly, already respected (because I’ve never been bitchy to retail employees like people have been bitchy to me and my coworkers, I’ve never chewed somebody out for the stupid crap we get chewed out for).

I think I’m angriest about graduate school because I can’t escape, at least not for a little while longer, unless I get a job in a field I care about (and by god, I’m trying).  So for now I’m just still stagnating, despite all the efforts I’ve made to try and intellectually grow.  I’m having panic attacks often because of customers, and you know what pisses me off the most about it?  Nobody takes it seriously.  Tough shit if you have social anxiety and withdrawal but are forced to deal with people who think their problems are the end of the world.  Tough shit if you have a mental breakdown over a customer whose infirmities remind you of your dying father.  Nobody takes it seriously because you’re just a worker in a company whose goal is to make money and you can be replaced.  And that’s the way of the world, yes, I get it, I understand that and the corporate machine and capitalism and I’m not looking for coddling or lullabies or a band-aid or whatever – I’m just looking for something that challenges me in a non-psychologically-damaging way.  And it’s hard to find.

And you know what would do that?  GRADUATE SCHOOL.  But because of poor decision-making and bad luck and a sinking global economy, I can’t achieve that goal just yet.  What’s the point of being proud of my accomplishments if they aren’t getting me anywhere?

So, I don’t really know what the point of this post morphed into.  I guess that life’s hard, wah wah, cry more.  But I’m allowed to be disappointed with things in my life that I can’t change on a larger scheme at the moment, whether for lack of money or lack of opportunity.  And I’m allowed to express these in a blog post that nobody has to read if they find me whiny or whatever.

But I AM trying to find my own way back into using my brain.  Falling from the cloud of “wow college is awesome” onto the pavement of “wow the real world sucks” has really given me an idea of what I DON’T want to do for the rest of my life.

Now, I’ve just go to try my best and take every opportunity that’s offered and get out of the labyrinth of suffering and of not using my brain as much as I can with being broke.  The ball’s sort of not really but still kind of if you turn your head and squint your eyes in my court now.  It’s time to keep trying to do something about it, because what else CAN I do?

I’m not saying I’m unhappy with every aspect of my life right now.  I have plenty of things that I enjoy and look forward to, and things could be a lot worse.  Before you call me whiny, know that I do appreciate the things I have.  I have a lot of amazing people in my life who make things not-completely-horrible.  Things could be so much worse, yes, I know this.  In some ways I AM privileged (though tumblr has made me really start to even hate that word).  I get it, I do.  I could just be a lot happier in ways I know are doable, I just have to achieve those things, and as I said, the ball is not always in MY court.

On a good note, though, I’ve finally got an idea for a tattoo for my dad.  It’s about time, too.

(Sidenote: WordPress’s new layout SUCKS, seriously, way to make your blogging site much harder to use and, oh I dunno, BLOG with??  Seriously, ew.)

Consider the following!: Epilepsy sucks.

I don’t know why I keep thinking about it so early, but June 26 is coming up pretty soon.  It’s not an anniversary, or a birthday, but rather the anniversary of my last seizure–that is, my last tonic-clonic/grand-mal/what most people think of when you say the word “seizure” (the jerking, the unconsciousness, all of that great stuff).  My last grand-mal seizure was on June 26, 2008, while I was at The Children’s Place at HUMC and stacking up cots.  I remember feeling weird, jumpy kind of, and then next thing I knew I was waking up in an ambulance on the way to Trinity Hospital’s emergency room for the third time that year.

It will be three years since my last seizure on June 26 of this year, and I can technically try going without seizure medication (2-5 years without a seizure is considered “safe” to try and go without medicine).  But why would I?  Why would you go off a medication that keeps your body from losing all control, regardless of where you are, whether you’re driving or sleeping or on the toilet, just to see if your body will keep itself together?  Sounds pretty stupid to me, but hey, what do I know?  I’m not a neurologist.  I do know that after my three seizures in those a-little-under-6-months, my four in my lifetime (first ever was May 24, 2003), I don’t trust my body to do anything anymore.

The year I had all my post-high school seizures was the worst year of my life.  Not only had I lost my father in late 2007 and my grandmother in April, I’d had a seizure in January – on the fourth – and then on May 27 and then again on June 26.  I was gaining weight because of medicine and just being sick, I could drive then I couldn’t drive when I’d JUST gotten my car back in December of 2007, so I felt like a burden to my mother and Joseph who had to drive me everywhere, and at one point in time I was on more medications than an 18-going-on-19-year-old should have been on.  From my Livejournal on July 6, 2008:

I am simply up to my neck in prescription medications. Twelve pills a day – four in the morning, eight at night – 1,740 milligrams in total, plus whatever is in my Orthocyclen. Add an inhaler, two puffs as needed, which delivers 180 mcg of albuterol in total, and three Advil (200 mg/tablet – 600 mg in total), or 1 Imitrex (whatever I feel more like taking) for migraines. Throw in some IBS on the side, and you’ve got me in a nutshell.

At the time I was switching from Keppra – which made me REALLY gain weight and didn’t help with seizures, obviously – to Lamictal, which I’m still taking, three years later, but even today I have to take three medications (four, if you count melatonin, and I need to start taking it again but haven’t for a while) at night.

So, I think it’s pretty understandable that during the year of 2008, especially within the first seven months, I was the most depressed I’d been since my father died, maybe even since before.  I felt so needy.  I had to rely on other people for transportation when my car had been newly fixed.  I had people asking me if I was okay every two seconds, which, while I’m glad I had people who cared, it got old fast.  The director of The Children’s Place made sure I knew that even if the child-to-teacher ratio was met (it never was, by the way) and if I was 19, I couldn’t be alone with the kids because of my epilepsy.  It’s a great reason, of course, but at the time it was just another heap on the pile of “why Christina is worthless” that was just building and building in my head.  Even at Starbucks, I was constantly terrified of having a seizure while fixing drinks and pouring freshly-steamed milk all over me.  I hated being babied.  I was convinced I had cancer and that the MRIs and CT scans just hadn’t shown it.

Even though I’ve taken control of my epilepsy – no, Lamictal has, not me – I still get down about it a lot, actually.  Every single night when I go to take my pills I wonder why I have to take these.  What did I do to make my brain decide it wanted a reset every once in a while and render me unable to even talk properly for weeks because of a bruised tongue and cheek and sore muscles and the inability to drive for six months seizure-free under Alabama law?  What happens if (but I always think ‘when’) the pills stop working, when my body grows immune to it and I have a seizure again?  Can I just go back to being a kid and not having to take any pills except for the occasional antibiotic?  Why do I need three at night?  I mean, every kid hates taking pills, but I never grew out of it.  I still get nauseous probably 97% of the time I take my pills at night and feel like throwing up for hours afterward.  It’s horrible and I don’t know how to stop it – I’ve tried everything, including pills in pudding, and nothing helps.  Or it helps for a while and stops.  Psychologically I never grew out of the fear and hatred of pills. And all of it stems back to “well, if I weren’t so screwed up, I wouldn’t have to take them.”

There are rarely moments when I screw up and don’t think, “What’s wrong with me?  Everything is wrong with me!” I know that sounds dramatic, and yes I’m on medicine for depression but something about the year of seizures made something open up inside me that I can’t get closed now.  If I oversleep for work, I get upset more than I feel I would normally and cry and my mind just goes – why am I screwed up?  Why am I such a failure?  And it all goes back to the seizures.  I don’t know if anybody really knows how depressed I was that year.  My mom and Joseph both have and had an idea, but there is something so very deep in my mind that just screams, “You’re screwed up.  You’re messed up and there’s nothing you can do about it but to keep fucking up everything for everybody!”  For something I can’t even control…how stupid is that?

I don’t know what happened that summer with my body.  Was it just the ceasing of major hormones of puberty and my body finally just settling into itself as Christina the Adult?  My first seizure was when I was 13, so I could see it having to do something with puberty.  But how will that affect pregnancy, whenever I have kids?  Won’t I have to be taken off my Lamictal?  What then?  What if I pass it down to them?

The paragraph above and the thoughts contained therein don’t really ever go through my head when I’m upset about it or something else that has made me feel like something’s wrong with me.  Even migraines make me hate my body and hate myself.  But they’re still things I worry about and things that I feel a 21-year-old should not have to worry about.  I hate having to tell doctors, when they ask if I have any conditions or am on any medication, that I “have epilepsy” (I still have trouble identifying myself as an epileptic because I don’t think it should be something that defines someone), or that my Lamictal is “for epilepsy.”

But I guess that’s the real world, and I guess I’ll always have to be on seizure medication unless I want to risk another seizure and then…well, we’ll see when I get there.

Happy Upcoming Last-Seizure Anniversary, self!  Maybe if you make it to five years we can try to get off medication…but we’ll see.

We’ll always see.