Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mortality

I was very young when I found out I had asthma -- so young, in fact, that I don't really remember not knowing that I was born with lungs that didn't work properly. Asthma was a descriptor like my othe descriptors: head for trivia. Big feet. Loves to read. Shitty lungs.

Whatever.

But.

My shitty lungs made me different in a way that I didn't want to be different. I've written before about growing up in a small town and feeling apart, and part of what caused me to feel like an outsider was the constant need to be careful. Not being able to really run around, because my lungs didn't support it. Missing big chunks of school because I was sick. Staying in from recess when it was cold because I couldn't handle it. Worrying about gym and fitness tests, because no matter how fit I was or wasn't, I couldn't do the running portion of the program.

My friends didn't treat me like a freak -- not for that -- but I felt like one. I felt like one enough that when I was having an episode so bad that my fingernails and lips would be blue from lack of oxygen, I would fight going to the hospital, insisting that I was fine, I didn't need help.

(I know that's crazy. You don't have to tell me.)

And then, in 2007, someone I adored died after having an asthma attack.

I had never considered this.

I had never considered that my shitty lungs could kill me.

My mom, apparently, had. She was on me to keep my rescue inhaler handy, to go to the doctor, to stay on top of illnesses (which go straight to my lungs) and use the latest meds. 

Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn't. I don't like going to the doctor, so I'd put it off or let prescriptions go until I had a problem -- and then I'd make a half assed effort until I felt better and, once I did? Would forget about it again. 

Asthma has been a part of my identity for so long that I felt justified in ignoring it. Whatever. Stupid lungs.

But then, today, a friend of mine lost someone she loved to -- of all things -- an asthma attack. 

He was younger than I am. 

Suddenly it sunk in. Watching her mourn her loss made me realize: my shitty lungs could KILL me. My refusal to care, to pay attention, to go to the doctor could end my life and cause the people I love this kind of pain.

I'm totally okay with feeling apart. I'm totally not okay with the idea that ignoring my shitty lungs could hurt the people I love.

So. New leaf.

Deep breath. And another, and another, for as long as my lungs agree to work... And I'll do what I can to make sure that happens for as long as it can. 

Even if it means doctors. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Working Girl (and Randoms!)

I started a new job this week and I am so. Very. Tired.

It's good though. 

However, I find myself right back in a place of "agggh what am I even DOING" and stress and the feeling that I should be waaaay ahead of the curve when, in fact, that's not even possible at the moment. 

I need to relax and cut myself some slack. I know that. But can I do it?

Not really. 

But I'm trying. 

In other news, here are some randoms for you:

"Some people have layers. Not me. I know I'm not deep."

*****

"We're not on the same page."

"Or even in the same book."

"Hell, this is the wrong damn library."

*****

"What did you just call the new guy?"

"Skippy Smooshface?"

"But -- you know what? Don't explain. I don't want to know."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Waterfalls

I have mentioned this before, but I want to mention it again:

I have a waterfall outside my house.

I said to someone at work that I'm pretty sure that MAYBE 1% of the population has a freaking waterfall outside their windows. I'm in the one percent, I said, gleefully.

She said, I don't think it's EVEN one percent.

My apartment, by the way, is not large or fancy. It's teeny and very simple. Great room. Bathroom. Galley kitchen. The end. Three rooms. 

But the view. Oh, kids, the view. Especially now:


All of this is, I think, a way of pointing out that you are wealthy in ways beyond money. We all are. While some of us are also financially wealthy -- and that's great for them -- every person I know carries wealth and abundance in some aspect of her or his life. While financial wealth is nice, it's those other areas of wealth that really fill the soul.

Find the wealth in your life. Recognize it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. 

And in the meantime? I will be enjoying my view.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 Things


Ten things I have learned in the last year or so:

1.       If your intentions are good, then acting on them will not lead you wrong.

 

2.       Sometimes, you have to go through some really shitty stuff to get to some really good stuff. You just do.

 

3.       It’s important to have friends that you can rely on – and the best way to have those kinds of friends is to BE that kind of friend.

 

4.       In comedy, timing is key.

 

5.       When you’re sorry, say you’re sorry – but make sure that your apology is real and focuses on making the other person feel better rather than making it about you. “I’m sorry that you were hurt by the terrible thing I did – is there any way I can make this right for you” is light years better than “I feel bad about what I did.”

 

6.       When you realize that other people only have power over you if you hand that power to them? It changes everything.

 

7.       Never stop fighting for what you believe in, because your beliefs define who you are – and how you express them? That shows people who you are.

 

8.       Be kind. Even when you’re pissed. Actually, especially then.

 

9.       The truth is never the wrong option.

 

10.   Life is better with a pet.

Monday, March 24, 2014

RANDOMS! WHEE!


I

“And then he says, “We’re family! If you’re upset you should come talk to me.”

“Huh.”

“Yeah, he’s CLEARLY never met my family. We don’t talk about our FEELINGS. We brood. And drink.”

“But you do it with love.”

II

“She drives me up the wall. Talking to her makes me want to poke myself in the eye for the pleasant distraction it would give me.”

“Think of every crazy-assed conversation as material for later. That’s what I do.”

III

“The thing about trying on pants is that my butt is, like, separately sized from the rest of me.”

“Like it needs its own zip code.”

“That would be insulting if it weren’t true.”

IV

“So did you guys break up or what?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you tell him it wasn’t him, it was you?”

“Why would I do that? It was DEFINITELY him.”

“…”

“I mean, it’s almost ALWAYS me. So when it’s not? I’m gonna say!”

V

“I’m sad.”

“I know, bunny.”

“There’s only one thing to do.”

“What’s that?”

“Give my sadness cannoli.”

“So … sadness wants sugar and chocolate?”

“It wants wine too, but it can’t have that for lunch when I’m working.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

One More Day

When I go to the gym, I always want to hang up my sneakers and hit the showers after about twenty-five minutes, because I'm inevitably bored, sweaty, and convinced that someone is judging me. I realize, however, that less than half an hour on the treadmill does not a workout make, so I play a game with myself. I call it "Five More Minutes." If you could hear my internal monologue (and honestly, I'm not entirely sure that I haven't muttered it out loud on more than  one occasion), it would sound like this:

"Yes, Yellie, I realize this totally sucks, but give it five more minutes. You can do five more minutes. After five minutes, you can reassess."

I do my five minutes, and then usually realize I can keep going... Or I still want to bail and then play Five More Minutes again, and then, again, consider where I'm at until my workout is done. Because as it turns out, something like a half an hour doing an activity you don't love is an eternity. But five minutes is doable. Six five minute stretches in a row? They're tiny. 

Break it up into what you can manage, and go from there.

*****

The Five More Minutes game is a holdover from a darker time in my life, one where I was in quite a bit of emotional turmoil and struggling. Every day, I thought, I'm not sure I want to do this anymore. I don't think I can stand it. Time stretched out before me, and that time looked bleak, dark and empty. 

I thought, "Yes, Yellie, this totally sucks. But give it one more day. You can do one more day."

And so I would. Because while I was in too much pain to figure out how I was going to cope with something as big as the rest of my life, I could sort of work out just tomorrow. After a whole bunch of One More Day talks, I found myself in a better place, surrounded by the people who had stuck by me the whole time, who had helped me get through each twenty-four hour period, and who were more than happy to help me to look at and plan for longer stretches of my life as soon as I was ready -- which, eventually, I was.

*****

It can be hard -- in times of loneliness, in times of sadness, in times of struggle -- to feel like you can climb over those feelings to get someplace else. But you can. I promise you can. You are not alone. You are loved. You will be supported. You will not always be sad. When you want to give up, remember that you don't have to figure out all of the rest of your days. You just have to figure out one tomorrow at a time, one by one, until you find yourself reaching up towards the sun, out in the light -- which is where you always belonged.

Let the people who love you help you.

Believe in the possibility of tomorrow. 

Remember that every tomorrow brings you another chance, and that you will always deserve another chance.

Believe in one more day. 

*****

If you think you just can't manage even one more day? Let people help you. Reach out. Reach out to family. Reach out to friends. Reach out to clergy or a doctor or a neighbor. You can also reach out here. But reach out. Because you really are worth another day ... you are worth so many more days, and we need you here. I promise. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Glass

Let's talk about the other day.

Have you ever had a day where you left the house knowing you looked good? I mean, I try to be presentable almost every day, but the other day, I checked the mirror before I left and was actually pleased. Hair was doing something fun and kicky. Eyeliner wasn't wonky. Outfit was appropriately quirky. "Hells yeah," I thought, and out the door I went.

During the day, a couple of people said, "You look nice." That was fine, because I did look nice.

Here is what would strike me as not fine: it is not fine when someone comes up to you and is very, very close to you -- so close he is touching you, so close you can smell his breath, and you have no room to back up or step away -- and says, in a low voice, so that you and no one else can hear him, "Has anyone mentioned that you look goooooood?"

Reread that last bit and tell me of it makes you uncomfortable. I'll wait.

Now.

I will freely admit that, on occasion, I have worn clothing that shows some leg. Or some cleavage. The day I left my house thinking I looked super snappy, here's what I was wearing: 
Sneakers
Jeans
A long sleeved shirt that literally comes to my neck. The collar is so high I would have to push it to the side to take my pulse.
A blazer

I could not have been more covered, y'all. I was COVERED. I was all kinds of appropriate. 

I was ashamed nonetheless. 

I should say, here, that I don't think that the speaker intended to make me uncomfortable. (I should also say that the previous statement makes me feel conflicted, because ... How do you not realize that is not going to make someone uncomfortable? And does intent matter more than result?) However,  it did make me uncomfortable, and it also made me feel guilty about my discomfort, as though a nice girl would just appreciate the praise, and a nice girl wouldn't say anything about how unpleasant she found it.

It also did make me ashamed, as though I had invited the kind of attention that made me so uncomfortable. After all, didn't I acknowledge that I looked cute before I left the house? Wasn't looking cute my intention? What was my problem?

On a personal level, my problem is that I am VERY selective about who is invited into my immediate space. I like to have the room to step away if I find it necessary. For me, in most situations, space equals safety. As a result, this situation made me feel unsafe.

On a political level: if I was a man, this is not how it would have gone down. It just wouldn't. That makes me uncomfortable as well, that I find myself in these kind of situations because I am a woman, because my default is politeness, and because I honestly have no idea how to respond when shit like this happens. (This, by the way, is not to say that these things don't happen to men. I believe they do. I also believe that it happens to women more frequently.)

So.

Today, I left the house feeling like I looked cute. I also feel very self conscious and awkward -- more so than usual.

Not sure what to do with any of this.