Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wonderful Stuff Wednesday: It Might Not Be Spring But...

So, apparently, it's not spring here anymore. After a beautiful weekend of temperatures in the 70's, last night, it plummeted into the 20's and this morning when I went to work, I had to scrape ice off of my windshield. The flowers that so recently bloomed all over the hospital campus seem to be huddling in their beds saying, "What the hell, man!? We came out here for this?" I feel your pain, flowers. I truly do.

Despite all that, however, it's Wednesday and so I'm focusing on the fact that although it was freezing and there was ice on my car, at least there wasn't a foot of snow on the ground. And more exciting than that was my ability to restrain myself from hulking out all over the parking lot in response to the presence of ice. On April 16th. For the LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY.

::deep breaths::

I'm fine, now, I promise. On to the wonderful!



First up, this, because it's funny. And true. But sad. But mostly funny.


Ok, I promise I'm going to stop talking about the weather. For at least 3 minutes.

I read this post yesterday, and usually I tend to (violently and purposefully) avoid anything with the word "millennial" in the title. However, Lauren, who writes at I'm Better in Real Life, wrote her post in response to the op-ed in the New York Times about how the financial recovery isn't exactly the recovery we all want it to be, especially for those of us who graduated between 2007 and 2009. Read the op-ed, read her post, and tell your story. As upsetting as the situations might be across the board for a lot of us, there is something comforting about knowing that you're not alone.

I also read this post on A Practical Wedding about separating the joy from the pain. This particular post was in regards to joy and love of the wedding day from any of the unfortunate pain that may have led up to the day during the engagement, but I also think it's helpful to think about separating the joy from the pain in a lot of things. I'm extremely excited about being able to go back to medical school, for example, but I can't start this new journey without reflecting back on the first time I did this and how horribly painful that entire experience was. The line from the post that stood out to me was, "But I can’t remember my wedding day without remembering the eight months before it. I can’t separate them; one made the other." So many experiences in life are like that, and I think it's good to remember that even though pain and sadness may have preceded the good, we can still enjoy and love and revel in "the good".

Since I'm a huge science nerd, the discovery of Tiktaalik roseae was super exciting. What is Tiktaalik roseae you ask? It is a transitional species between fish and our land-dwelling selves. It's a fish with limbs, people! And a neck! And it's awesome! An article on Slate about the discovery was an easy and interesting read, and I definitely plan on watching the PBS adaptation of Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. Go science!

Yesterday marked one year since the tragedy of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. I can't believe it's been a year since that happened, and I remember sitting at my desk, silently wiping tears away as I read and watched and tried to absorb how horrible the world could be. At the same time, I remember thinking, as I watched paramedics, firemen, police, and even civilians running toward the chaos to help others, "At least there are people in this world who want to heal and help, not hurt." This project from Dear World is beautiful, and the photographs are so full of strength and hope.  The video below is also from the project.



And in a more general sense, here's what's currently going on that's wonderful...

Watching lots of stuff on the DVR in an attempt to clear it out. As per usual, this includes The Following, Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, and Hannibal... which makes me sound like I'm a totally creepy serial killer. I swear, I also watch shows that aren't about murdering people. Thrown in there for good measure are Whose Line is It Anyway?, SNL, Inside Amy Schumer, Jim Henson's Creature Shop, 2 Broke Girls, and now that Mad Men is back, that will be added as well. So much TV. Yikes.

Thinking about
the fact that as of today, there are 46 work days left here for me. That obviously doesn't include weekends or holidays or the one day I'm taking off in May to visit Emily in Wisconsin. With weekends etc, there are 66 days left until I depart from the working world and enter the world of a full-time student once again. This is both awesome and terrifying. Also, I spend most of my waking hours thinking about house hunting. It's consuming my brain. Sorry, everyone.

Listening to
Ingrid Michaelson's new album, Lights Out. It's amazing. This is the first single from the album and if it doesn't make you dance in your office chair, then I don't know what to tell you.


As I mentioned before, I also spend a lot of time listening to the comedy channels on my satellite radio. Pro tip? Listen to comedy while driving at your own risk. Sometimes you'll be laughing too hard to responsibly operate a motor vehicle.

Wearing anything that isn't a snow boot, flannel, or multiple pairs of socks. Today I broke down and wore trouser socks with my wedges because of the ice situation outside, but I am so not into wearing boots anymore it's not even funny. I'm also looking forward to wearing SKIRTS. I apologize in advance for blinding anyone with my super-pale legs.

Reading
everything I can get my hands on! Since the end of March, I've read Life as We Knew It, Parasite, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, all of which were varying degrees of good. I'm slowly working my way through The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression still, and I have 3 books from the library and one to pick up today. The options for the next book are Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Neil Shubin), Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation (Aisha Tyler), Doctor Sleep (Stephen King), and The Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America (Laurie Edwards). Any suggestions? Also, feel free to find me on Goodreads!



Loving that it stays light out past 7 pm! It makes house hunting way easier. Also loving that my weeknights are mostly free, which means spending time with friends and Ken (or just laying in bed with the cats). And when it happens, definitely loving the warmer weather. Today is just a fluke... I hope.

Drinking too much coffee and not enough water. I don't really drink that much coffee... maybe 1 cup a day, actually, but I definitely do not drink enough water. Today I realized that after I leave my job, I either need to start making my own coffee at home with the regular coffee pot... or maybe invest in a Keurig because I've been so spoiled by the office machine, haha.

Eating kind of whatever sounds good. I know, that sounds weird in an age where everyone is dieting and watching what they eat and eating their weight in kale. Since my stomach started freaking out in February, I've lost 17 pounds, and none of that was due to any intentional action on my part. (Funny that near constant nausea when you eat is a big turn off for eating...) So if something sounds good, I eat it. Sometimes that kasha at 8 pm for dinner, sometimes that's cereal, sometimes that's a real meal. Fortunately, it's usually not a milkshake, brownies, ice cream, or something covered in melted cheese. Looking forward to getting more fresh fruit since berry season is almost upon us!

Anticipating
so many things. Finding a house, leaving my job, starting the summer med school program, seeing Emily the first weekend in May, seeing Sarah the first weekend in June, the white coat ceremony for med school, and actually starting med school for real in August!

So that's what's wonderful around here. What's wonderful where you are?

- A

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Meta

I had been doing a pretty good job of ignoring the hubbub of the trailer for American Blogger being released. To be perfectly honest, I don't particularly care that some guy is producing a documentary about blogging. If you haven't seen it, you can view it here. At first watch/listen, the only thing that came to my mind was, "Wow, this voice over is terrible. Is this an SNL sketch making fun of this documentary?" Someone clearly made a poor choice there, since I'm pretty sure they didn't want everyone thinking that this was a joke within 3 seconds of the trailer beginning.

Anyway, this post isn't about American Blogger. It's about blogging. Blogging about blogging, how very meta, right? After I watched the trailer, I read a post by Rachel Wilkerson who  is the current Editorial Director of A Practical Wedding (a site you all know that I love), as well as a writer and editor at Lover.ly. She has a lot of good things to say about the documentary trailer, but what really got me thinking was the more general thoughts on blogging. Even in my limited experience with the blogging world, there seems to be a theme that perpetuates across the so-called blogosphere. Bloggers get called out for being "fake" or "too perky" or "too perfect". There's no death of posts on humor websites about what we'd write if we were being honest on Facebook, such as this one or this one. Article upon article has been written about how Facebook makes us unhappy or how social media makes us compare ourselves to others. It's no surprise that more often than not, there's someone in the comments section trying to tear someone else down for one reason or another.

On the other hand, bloggers also seem to get ragged on for being "too real". For all of our obsession with peering behind the curtain, we don't like to see too much. Don't talk about your depression, your eating disorder, or your poor self-esteem, that's depressing and boring and you clearly just want attention. Don't show us pictures with a pile of laundry in the background, because if you do that, you obviously don't care about your blog or your persona. Don't talk about how maybe, you're just having a really hard time lately, because no one wants to read about that. There is such a fine line between sharing and being vulnerable in a good way and in a way that makes readers uncomfortable. What's a writer to do?

Everyone starts blogs for different reasons, but at the core is a desire to write, to communicate, to connect. No one writes a public blog if they don't want it to be read; that's what actual, paper, journals and private blogs are for. On some level, all bloggers are attention-seeking, and if I'm being perfectly honest, I think that blogging is self-centered. I think in order for it to be good, there has to be a certain amount of self-centeredness, as that is what gives the blog its direction and personality. Too much of that, though, and again, you run right into being boring. Another fine line.

The part of Rachel's post that stood out to me the most was this:

"But this sentiment that not sharing every detail of their lives means bloggers are hiding something persists. What’s bizarre to me is that that’s…not how the world really works offline? Like, if my coworker tells me each day about the cool stuff she did the night before, I don’t sit around speculating that she’s actually depressed, or cheating on her husband, or secretly a lesbian, or about to go bankrupt. I don’t assume that her life is perfect; I assume she probably has more on her mind from time to time but she isn’t telling me the stuff that’s really mundane or just none of my goddamn business. Again…it’s not that deep. And, frankly, I don’t want to hear all about her proverbial dirty laundry any more than I want to hear about her actual dirty laundry. That doesn’t mean I expect everyone to be all sunshine and light all the time; it just means that, on the whole, I’d rather hear the good parts. And again, considering how bitchy people get when anyone overshares the darker stuff, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that regard."

Right before that, though, she writes, "Being a writer or a blogger or creative of any type is about editing—removing the stuff that doesn’t really help you tell a good story," (emphasis mine) and that got me thinking. I've always struggled with what exactly this blog is, since it doesn't seem to fit into any typical molds. It's certainly not a fashion blog, a DIY blog, or a mommy-blog. I guess it fits into "lifestyle" but I also feel like that's not quite it either. I just kind of write; I tell stories, I talk about mental health and chronic illness, marriage, my cats, things that are funny, things that are sad. I try to be interesting and engaging, I try to create content that I think will at the very least, make someone feel less alone or less weird about their life. The best is if I can make someone laugh at the same time. But what is this blog? What is the story I want to tell?

I don't have any grand ambitions for this blog to one day become my sole income. If I did, going to medical school would be a seriously poor investment, haha. What I want this blog to be is something that entertains, amuses, or helps someone else. I want to connect with other bloggers and learn about the world around me, both immediately and far away. I want to leave this world a better place than when I found it, and I while I don't think that this little blog is going to solve a world crisis, if we can all learn to listen and talk to each other even a little more effectively, maybe it will help. Maybe if we can stop picking each other apart and build each other up, it will help. Maybe we can find strength in our differences and our sameness. Maybe we can smile more. Maybe we can not feel so alone.

So anyway, those are my not-so-deep thoughts about blogging for today. For other bloggers out there who may be reading, how did you find your voice? How did you decide how to tell your story? How much do you edit yourself? What do you think of the American Blogger trailer? I'd love to hear it! 

I hope everyone has a good weekend... do something nice for someone and enjoy the sunshine.

To finding our voices,
A








Monday, April 14, 2014

You Learn Something New Every Day


imyourkatieque 

I had a post planned for today, all scheduled and ready to go, but it felt odd to start the week with it, so it will be up tomorrow. STAY TUNED!!! So today, I figured I'd link up with Katie of I'm Your Katie Qué to recap the weekend. I really enjoy linking up with different bloggers because I always find something new to read and it's a nice way to connect with other writers from all over. Also, I love reading weekend and weekly recaps. It's a problem.

So, here we go!

1. I really enjoy satellite radio.
Before getting my new car, I had no clue why people were so into satellite radio. I had a regular radio, a CD player, and a way to hook up my phone with my music, so why the heck did I need Sirius XM? Well, it turns out that it's one of those things that you can go your whole life without, but once you have it, you wonder how you ever existed without it in your life. (See also: Garbage disposals, smart phones, memory foam.) I honestly didn't even use my satellite radio for a couple of weeks because I couldn't figure out how to program it and I didn't ever take the time to look through the channels to see what was available, and whenever I remembered to do that, I would be driving. I finally found some channels that I like, and now I find myself listening to the satellite radio more than anything else. My top 5 programmed stations right now are the Billy Joel channel, the Coffee Shop (acoustic stuff, originals and covers), Comedy Central Radio, RawDog Comedy, a 90's channel, and a Top 40 channel. I mainly stick to the comedy channels, and now I'm not sure I can ever give it up. Anyone out there fall in love with their satellite radio? What are your favorite channels?

2. My migraines can now start as simply nausea.
Not exactly a fun realization, but perhaps useful. In the past, my migraines have either started with the blinding head pounding, or have been preceded by visual disturbances or an aura. In fact, sometimes I would just get the aura and it would drive me crazy for hours because I would feel like there was something in my visual field or in my eye. More recently, the headaches have taken on the characteristic of feeling like someone is repeatedly and violently stabbing me in the eye socket with an ice pick. The trigger point injections that I started getting definitely decreased those headaches, but they still come back every once in awhile. The new thing, though, is for me to get extremely nauseated, and about 20 minutes later, be blindsided by the excruciating headache. This has happened a couple of times a week in the past month or so, and over the weekend I finally put two and two together. I think this was all complicated by the fact that my stomach has been so easily upset lately that I figured that I was just nauseated. At least now I can tell my doctor about this new symptom and also try and treat the potential migraine before it starts. As a corollary to this, I also learned that I need to really check my purse and carry my migraine meds with me at all times.  ::sad trombone noise::

3. Healthy communication skills completely elude some people.
I won't say much about this besides the fact that I am completely baffled by how so many people I know can communicate SO POORLY for so long into their adult lives. Yet another reason to support my "therapy for everyone" crusade.

4. There is no substitute for your own bed.
Even the most comfortable beds I've slept in on vacations do not compare to coming home and crawling into my own bed, complete with cats. Bonus points if the sheets are fresh. 

5. Reading is awesome.
I definitely didn't "learn" this this past weekend, but I did finish my second book in as many weeks, and man, it felt good. And weird. I haven't read novels in a very long time, and two consecutive novels is, well, a novel experience for me, haha. (I love a good pun! And a bad pun. All puns, really.) 

6. Embrace the lazy.
I am really bad at doing nothing. Vacations where you lay around are really hard for me; I at least have to be reading something. Lately though, I've embraced the lazy. Weeknights spent watching DVR'd TV, sleeping in on the weekends, taking naps, and not making plans have all been major parts of my life lately. My excuse is that starting at the end of June, I'll be in full-time class and studying mode, and that really won't let up until the holidays... so I might as well soak up all of this free time while I can. This is why it's totally okay to sleep until 10 on Sunday morning and then take a 2 hour nap at 1.

7. I am totally spoiled by our wine aerator.
We were given a Venturi wine aerator as a wedding shower gift and I am in love with it. It's so nice to be able to pour a glass of wine and not have to wait for it to breathe in order for the wine to be drinkable. And yes, aerating it totally makes a difference. This weekend, I poured a glass of wine at my aunt's and tried to drink it immediately... I was not impressed. After 10-15 minutes, it was drinkable, but who wants to wait that long to drink their wine?! (File this one under P for "Problems, First World" right?)

8. Ken and I can have fun wherever we go. 
Even in the backseat of my brother's car on the way to Maryland. (This is before we were scared for our lives due to aggressive driving. Spoiler alert: We lived.)


So, what did you learn this weekend? Anything useful? Anything not useful? I am off to get my biweekly massage, and I can't wait. Two weeks ago, I concerned the massage therapist with my intensely knotted up shoulders and neck, so we'll see what she has to say this time around. Tonight, we're seeing another house, so look out for a State of the House Hunt later this week!

- A

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Things That Make You Go, "Hm?"

I once said to someone that my life was proof that God has a sense of humor, because why the hell else would half of the stuff I encounter exist, if not to make someone, anyone, God or otherwise, laugh? Sometimes, things just happen that are funny, perplexing, or both. Here are some of those things that have happened recently.

This is just one of my confused faces.
  • My office mate and I were walking out one night and we came into an alcove at the bottom of a staircase on our way into another building. As we were attempting to leave the alcove, a group, nay, a herd, of Orthodox Jews entered the alcove. It was entirely overwhelming, and also confusing because they seemed to have no idea why there were in the alcove or how they had gotten there. We managed to exit the alcove without any major injuries, but then immediately burst into laughter because the entire situation was so absurd.
  • Apparently, toilet seat cleaner is now a thing we have in our lives? I think people are entirely too worried about toilet seats being dirty. You're not going to catch any weird diseases from a toilet seat that is dry and doesn't actually LOOK disgusting, unless you happen to have some gaping wound ony our butt, in which case, you should probably get that checked out. But seriously, if the toilet seat was visibly dirty, would you want to wipe it off? Wouldn't you just go find another stall? Whatever happened to toilet seat covers? Were those not sufficient? Why do people feel the need to cover the ENTIRE seat with toilet paper in the absence of covers? I have so many questions.
Wait, what?
  • I grabbed my scarf and a light jacket this morning and threw them on my passenger seat. When I got to work, I realized that there was something else in the seat. One of Ken's socks had somehow attached itself to my scarf. I'm not sure how or when, as the scarf was on the kitchen table and Ken doesn't generally keep his socks there, and the sock looked clean, so I really have no idea why it was anywhere outside of the sock drawer. Confusion. Now there's a sock in my car.
  •  I had the following conversation with someone in the Student Affairs office at Rowan:

    Me: Hello, yes, I'm going to be a student at Rowan SOM in the fall and I need to speak to someone about disability services.
    Woman: Like... insurance?
    Me: No... like, accommodations.
    Woman: Like... housing?
    Me: No... like, a medical disability.
    Woman: Please hold. (hold music) Yeah, I don't think I know what you mean.
    Me: Clearly.

    I'm not really sure what her issue was, but she ended up giving me the number for the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the extremely helpful person there emailed me the forms I need to fill out. The entire exchange with the first woman just baffled me, though.
  • There are now more baby girls named Khaleesi than Betsy or Nadine in this country, and more baby girls named Katniss than Maude. While I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name Maude, I also don't think that Katniss and Khaleesi are great improvements.
  • People put strange things in medical letters.

    Kristin: There's a line in this letter that says, "He has tactile issues with frogs and worms."
    Me: How often does he encounter them?
    Kristin: Well, I guess you can encounter them quite frequently in your backyard, but it's pretty easy to just... not touch them, right?

    I'm not sure what's more confusing, the fact that someone has a tactile issue with frogs and worms, or that it needed to be put in this letter. Also, how did we discover this? How much does this affect this person's daily life? I have questions.
  •  There's a pair of knee-highs in my purse. Why? No idea. But hey, I guess I'm set if I spontaneously go shoe shopping later.

So yes, life is a crazy place. What's the weirdest or most confusing thing you've encountered lately?

- A

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wonderful Stuff Wednesday: Could It Be Spring!?

We've officially made it to the mid-week point, everyone! Throw yourself a parade! At the very least, have a cookie or something. I'm failing on this one, because I have a banana, 100 calories Greek yogurt, and an English muffin, none of which are very appealing to me right now. At least there's coffee?

Today is not so bad. It's not raining, and it supposed to go up to 65 degrees today! That's practically an excuse to break out the swimsuits, and actually, our office admin is wearing sandals. We are clearly desperate for spring around here. I mean, between yesterday's free ice cream, the fact that the daffodils are sprouting up all over the hospital campus, and my ability to use the sunroof on my car, I'm saying spring might as well be here. Check out this forecast!


I mean, sure there some thunderstorms on Friday, but it won't be freezing! Time to throw a party.

And speaking of throwing a party, it's Wonderful Stuff Wednesday! I've decided that the banner for WSW needed some updating, so this one is in honor of spring being (hopefully) around the corner. And without further ado, here are some more party-worthy things that I've read, seen, or heard.


http://freehdw.com/wallpaper/flower-buds-58568.html

First up, Ingrid Michaelson is releasing a new album on April 15th! You can stream it for free right now on iTunes, and trust me, you want to do that. She's playing in Philly on May 30th, and while it's at my least favorite venue in the entire world (The Electric Factory), I'm still probably going to go with my friend Patricia. 

Are you having trouble Adulting? Hey, it happens to the best of us. For pete's sake, I Gorilla-taped my pants hem yesterday, I'm not fooling anyone. Fortunately for us, A Practical Wedding has a series on Tiny Steps to Adulthood, and this post about wills and end-of-life planning was excellent. 

I wrote the other day about the lack of scientific literacy in our society, and this article speaks directly to that. There are links to articles about how to read and understand the scientific literature, as well as how to evaluate medical information on the internet.

If you're like me, you might be confused as to how to make blog buttons. Well, be confused no more, thanks to Bon's super easy tutorial!

I don't usually put much stock in horoscopes or astrology in general, but my friend Pam was talking about hers and so I looked into mine. It was pretty funny, and slightly uncanny how accurate it was. I know that most of the time, those things are so vague that you can interpret them to fit any situation, but I still had a good time reading through mine. Apparently, eclipses can screw things up, so here's how to survive one from an astrological perspective.

If you're looking for something to make you laugh, check this out. You all know how much I love octopuses, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed this iteration of "True Facts About...":





And to wrap things up, here are some of the latest photos I've snapped of some wonderful things in my life:

Free Cone/Cup Day!
 
New haircut!

This fruit is uniq(ue).
BOOP!
 And that, my friends, is that. What is wonderful in your life lately? I hope it's a long list! :)

- A

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

At Least it's Free Cone Day

Photo via Ben & Jerry's Facebook page
It's Tuesday, it's rainy, life is crazy... but it's free cone day at Ben & Jerry's and fortunately for us, there's a Scoop Shop less than 5 minutes from my office. I know that the line will be long, and I might be rained on, and it's not even very good ice cream weather yet, but damn it, free ice cream. There is nothing wrong with that and who can't be happy with free ice cream in their hand? Especially ice cream from Ben & Jerry's, which might be considered a controlled substance in some circles.

I didn't do a Weekly Wishes or Weekly Wrap Up post, mainly because I accomplished zero of my goals and last week can be summed with the following words: Massage, joint pain, house hunting, sinus infection from hell, Orencia injection, blood sugar of 44, nausea, excessive nose blowing, house hunting meltdown, oral surgeon appointment, house hunting meltdown, payday, meltdown.

This week, my only goal is to not have a meltdown have fewer meltdowns. So there you have it. Whoo!

To those of you playing the home game (ha, I'm punny), here's the State of the House Hunt:

http://twotowns.tumblr.com/post/13601161104

Date House Hunt Began: March 8, 2014
Houses seen: 20
Offers made: 3
Outbid: Twice, third time pending
Meltdowns: TNTC (for you non-microbio/lab folk, that's "Too Numerous To Count")

On Sunday afternoon, we saw 5 houses, one of which we had seen the previous Tuesday. We had liked it on Tuesday, but not as much as the one on which we submitted an offer (on which we were outbid a mere 4 hours later). It's in an area that isn't bad, but that is not one in which we were originally looking, and we also happened to see it at 8:45 at night, so it was dark, we were starving, and we were basically on overload. Ken also thought it smelled like smoke, but he was mistaken; it just smelled like old lady perfume and old furniture.

The houses we saw on Sunday were okay. The first one was out because it was really only a one bedroom with a loft, even though it had a lot of other storage space and a place for an office, but it was also second and third floor unit, which is a no-go for us. The second one was nice, but the kitchen was SO skinny it would be impossible to work with, plus none of the bathrooms were updated. The third one was in Voorhees, which would be superbly convenient to school (me) and work (Ken), but it was hard to get a good feel for the place because the tenants were still in it and were physically there when we saw the house, there was a hospital bed in the dining room, and one of the bedrooms was literally floor-to-ceiling with boxes. I felt like I was on an episode of Hoarders (AKA: Like I wanted to die.) That being said, we did like the potential we could see in the house...

We saw another house in Audubon, which is an older, more run-down area, but not a bad area, per se. The house itself was nice, but it's a 2 bedroom with a full finished basement, and it the monthly cost was the highest of the ones we had seen thus far. Then we went back to the one in West Deptford, which is the one we originally liked from the previous Tuesday. Seeing it in the daylight was much nicer, and we really liked it a lot more than we thought we did. We had driven around the area and located a Target, a CVS, and a grocery store, and I know that only a few minutes away in the next town is a large mall, lots of restaurants, and probably at least 27 Starbucks. We decided to put in an offer. Hurrah!

Later that night, our realtor let us know that we were actually the third offer, and the seller had already asked for highest and best by Sunday evening, so we had to go with what was our highest and best, and we would not have a chance to counter. We went with slightly over the asking price, which isn't a huge problem, except that the house might not assess at that value, in which case we need to go back to negotiating. This is complicated by the fact that we need our closing costs to be covered by the seller, so if she decides that she doesn't want to do that after the assessment because it will lower what she gets from the sale of the house, we are, for lack of a better term, SOL. Depending on how long the assessment takes, we could be 3-4 weeks from now, which means that we would have already told our landlord that we're leaving (we have to do that on 5/1) and if we lost the house, we wouldn't really be in a position to keep looking because I'm leaving my job on 6/20... so again, not a great situation. 

Cue meltdown.

We were supposed to hear yesterday about whether the seller took our offer, but our realtor had a family emergency so we haven't heard any news yet. There are some other houses on the market that we'd like to go see (closer to where we wanted to originally look), so maybe one of those will work out. All I know is that we have the rest of this month to find a house. I need to talk to our landlord about possibly going month-to-month after 5/1, but who knows what she'll say. I am still waiting to hear from our realtor today, but I kind of don't want to bother her since I know that she has a lot going on right now with her family. I'll wait until later this afternoon to call her, but a neurotic, impatient, anxious woman can only take so much, you know?

So that, my friends, is the State of the House Hunt. If you're house hunting, I feel your pain. If you are a home owner... please tell me it gets better.

***

In other news, I reached the nadir (or perhaps the pinnacle, depending on how you want to look at it) of my inability to be a grown up. The hem fell out of my black dress pants. This is how I fixed it:

Ladies and gentlemen, how NOT to Adult.
Yes folks, that's duct tape. Technically, it's "Gorilla Tape". Not sure if that makes it better or worse. This wouldn't be nearly as unfortunate if the hem had just fallen out this morning while I was getting dressed. Nay, then this would perhaps be inventive! Alas... this hem has been out for MONTHS. I just neglected to wear black dress pants for awhile. In fact, I bought a new pair of dress pants because for awhile, these ones were tight, but now the other ones are gigantic and so I am back to wearing these. I just realized that part of the hem in my grey dress pants has fallen out as well, so I guess I really just need to get myself to a tailor. Grumble grumble, being an adult, grumble grumble.

Anyway, there's a lot rolling around in this head of mine between school stuff, house stuff, and general life stuff. When I haven't been at work, we've been house hunting, and when we haven't been doing that, I've been trying to soak up all of the "free time" that I have right now. Essentially, that means reading (for fun!), marathon-watching things on the DVR and/or Netflix, baking, seeing friends after work, sleeping late, and generally spending as much time in my pajamas as humanly possible. I have 52 days of work left, not including weekends and holidays, and then there's a weekend before med school starts. Then we're off and running and I'll see you all again in May of 2018, I guess. I kid, I kid. Fran is a med student and has one of my favorite blogs, and Anna is also a med student, PLUS she has a daughter (and another baby on the way) so clearly, if they can do it, so can I.

Despite all the craziness of today, at least it's Free Cone Day. And even when it's not free cone day, when life gets crazy, at least there's ice cream, right?

- A


Friday, April 4, 2014

Realizations

Happy Friday! Another week under our belts and another weekend stretches out before us. On Tuesday, I was struck with the plague a cold that I'm now 99% sure has turned into a sinus infection, so I've been slogging through this week moreso than usual. Ken and I originally had plans tonight to go to American Cut at Revel in Atlantic City to celebrate our 5 year dating anniversary (which was last Friday), but seeing as I can barely taste anything and would prefer to be in my pajamas, we decided to reschedule until I am no longer acutely diseased. ::sad trombone noise:: Oh well...

I've done a lot of thinking this week. (Although, I'm not sure how that is different from any other week.) The weekend was rough on me, and then I saw my therapist on Tuesday, which always makes me feel like I can actually do life. I swear, weekly therapy sessions are like getting an IV of self-confidence and adult-ness, and then between Tuesday at 2:20 (when my session ends) and the following Tuesday at 1:29, life seems intent on sucking all of my self-confidence and other good stuff away. But, as per usual, therapy also makes me think a lot. Here are some things I've realized this week:

1. People who have never been in therapy have no idea what happens when you go there.

People ask me what I do in therapy, and I don't know what they expect me to say, but the answer is, I talk. She talks. She listens. I listen. Sometimes we curse. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I laugh and then I cry and then I curse and then I use up all of her tissues and feel bad about it. But do any of my major problems get solved within the confines of a therapy session? Usually... no. In fact, there has not been a single time where I have come to therapy with Problem X and solved it by the end of the hour. I may come up with viable solutions within that hour, but I have to go home and have them marinate in my brain for awhile. For example, when I was supposed to go to FL two weeks ago, I talked about how I didn't want to go  in my session the week before the trip was scheduled. During that session, Danna suggested that hey, I didn't have to go. And yeah, I knew that already, but I had to go for eleventy-billion reasons, none of which were actually true. I spent the next week convincing myself to go, and even went so far as to pack my bags and haul them to my office on Wednesday morning, the day of my flight. But Tuesday night, while I was angrily packing and grumbling about how I didn't want to get on a plane, something clicked. It didn't fully actualize until I was sitting my office, surrounded by bags, staring at my cell phone hoping that I would get a phone call that said my flight was canceled because the plane had mysteriously disappeared and the Philadelphia Airport suddenly ceased to exist, all so I wouldn't have to call my Dad and tell him that I wasn't coming. (Spoiler alert: That didn't happen and I had to call my Dad.) It literally took over a WEEK of thought-marinating to get that problem solved, but it wouldn't have happened without me talking about it in therapy.

I guess people expect to go in there with a set of problems and walk out with a nice, neat, set of answers. Sometimes, that can happen. If you're especially into cognitive behavioral therapy, or you have a very specific problem that definitive actions will fix, you might walk out of the office with a set of instructions for how to work on those problems and how to change the negative behaviors. But you can't go in there with a problem of, "I don't know how to have meaningful, romantic, relationships," or "I have terrible body image," or "I think life sucks and I am majorly depressed," and walk out fixed. Even if you end up on an SSRI, which can be helpful and at times, necessary, you still have to do the work. Some people (like me) have to be on meds their entire lives, even while they're doing "the work" or after they've done it because chemical imbalances are real and let's be honest, better living through chemistry, right? Most people can use meds as a bridge to help them feel better and remain functional while they're working on their stuff.

Anyway, all that to say that therapy is one of my self-care requirements and even though it's expensive, it's necessary for me to include it in my budget if I want to continue to remain a functional member of human society. Also, I think everyone should go to therapy, even if you don't have any problems, because simply in the act of going to a therapist, you can learn about yourself and why you act the way you do. It's really quite interesting and I feel like if there was mandatory therapy for everyone, we'd all be a lot happier. (Now, if only medical insurance would cover more than 3 therapists in the entire world...)

Wow, I didn't mean for that to be that long. Whoops.

2. I am way too attached to my phone... and also Twitter.

This morning, in my sickness-induced-delirium, I managed to leave my cell phone at home. I have done this a couple of times before, but I usually realize it by the time I get to the end of our street and I have time to go back and grab it. This morning, this didn't happen and I realized that I had left it at home when I was digging around in my bag waiting for the shuttle to take me to work. (Because what else am I supposed to do while waiting for the shuttle and on the shuttle? I have to read my blogs for the day and check out the news!) Fortunately, I have a work cell phone that Ken, my mom, and my brother all have the number for in case of some kind of crazy emergency. Unfortunately, that work cell phone is a Blackberry and I hate it with every fiber of my being. Talk about first world problems, huh? Today, as I was waiting for the internet to load for what seemed like foreverrrrrrrrr on this stupid phone, I found myself thinking, "God, I hate this stupid phone and I don't even know why they give them out. The last time mine died, IT was surprised I even still had a Blackberry and asked why I didn't have an iPhone. Honestly, when were these things even USEFUL?" And then I stopped myself because I was standing in the middle of a parking lot, trying to read the news, ON A HANDHELD DEVICE without it being hooked up to anything. Sure, it might not be as fast as I want it to be (for instance, why are these things still running on 3G?) and it might not have all the apps that I'm used to, but come on. It's still pretty amazing that I can send someone a text message or even attempt to access the internet from a PHONE. Remember when phones were attached to walls and you had to stand by it to talk on them because the cord only stretched so far? Yeah. I stopped complaining then, gave up on trying to load Slate while waiting for the shuttle, and tried instead to enjoy the morning sans technology.

Because I left my phone at home, I also can't access Twitter because I have login verification set up and the verification codes get sent to my phone... which is probably under a cat at this very moment. Not helpful. For someone who accidentally set up a Twitter account in the first place and then promptly forgot that she had one for over a year (true story!), I've become awfully attached to the damn thing now. I feel as though I am majorly missing out on what is going on in the world of 140-character thoughts! And then I feel silly because honestly, how much can I possibly be missing? Even though I know that it's not integral to my life functioning, I can pretty much guarantee you that the second I get home, I'm going to get into my pajamas and catch up on my Twitter feed. It's a disease, I tell you.

3. No matter how hard I try, I probably won't be able to post before 3 pm.

I know from my own experience, as well as others, that posting early and often is the best way to get traffic to your blog. Unfortunately, this knowledge has done nothing to change my posting behavior. It's probably because I don't schedule blog posts and therefore am stuck writing them mere moments before I hit the "publish" button, but they never seem to be done before 3 pm at the very earliest. In fact, it's 3 pm right now and I'm not even sure how much longer this post is going to be. I keep saying that I need to plan posts and write them ahead of time etc etc, but... it's just not happening. I have faith that I can get on some kind of schedule (maybe three times a week!) but I doubt that I will ever pre-write posts that far ahead. We'll see.

4. Real Life > Pinterest
I found myself falling down a hole of DIY and room design on Pinterest today.  I apologize to anyone who follows me on Twitter, because as Pam said, her feed looked like "50 shades of heather grey" today after I was done pinning things. At least I know what I like?

The last time I pinned with such fervor was during wedding planning. I just went and looked, and apparently, I pinned 187 different things. Care to guess how many of those pins I actually used or did? About 5. That is 2%. I wonder how much time I wasted on there when I could have been investing my energy in something more useful (like sleeping). Now that we're house hunting, I'm pinning kitchen and living room decor ideas, hundreds of paint colors, and lots of DIY renovation projects. The only thing I might find useful are the paint colors, but honestly, Ken and I will probably end up at the Home Depot/Lowe's/etc standing in the paint aisle going, "Well, what about this one?" exactly like we did this last time we painted. That was actually fun. And crazy-making, because how many different shades of heather grey are there? (Way more than 50.)

All that to say is that Pinterest is great and I'm sure I'll continue to waste my life on it, but it's nice to remember that real life exists, and even if you only use 5 of the 187 things you pin, your wedding/living room/dinner/outfit can still be awesome.

5.  I really need to quit my gym membership.
I've been saying it for months, but at this point, I'm paying $46 a month in what I refer to as a "fat and lazy tax" to simply have the option of going to the gym. Which I don't do. That $46 could be a new pair of pants, a nice dinner out, a massage, or 16 tall mochas from Starbucks. (Yikes, who drinks that many mochas??) I know that I need to exercise, but clearly, having a gym membership isn't doing anything for me except making me $46 poorer every month.

6. House hunting is a freaking roller coaster and not one of the fun ones, the ones that makes you want to vomit.
All of you people out there who have already been through the wringer of house-hunting probably just collectively rolled your eyes and sighed at my naivete that I'm just discovering this now. I never thought that house hunting would be easy, or that it wouldn't require intense work and giving up evenings and weekends to go see homes with our realtor, but I certainly didn't think it would make me as crazy as it has. It's so hard to not get emotionally invested in a house that you've decided that you like enough to put an offer on, but I still try. What's basically happened so far is this, however.

Excitement - Wow, we really like this house. We could see ourselves living here! Check out these sweet hardwood floors! And it has a backyard! We could get a dog! (We don't even want a dog, but we could totally get one!)

Decision - Wow, we just put an offer in on a house. I guess we'll see what happens. Did we do the right thing? Oh god. I might throw up. No, nevermind, I'm good.

Feigned Disinterest (which is covering extreme glee)
- OMG WE JUST PUT AN OFFER ON A HOUSE! But whatever man, I don't care. Whatever. There are lots of houses. ::shrug::

Impatience - SERIOUSLY, when is the seller going to get back to us? It's been... a whole 12 minutes. They should be answering us by now. And why hasn't our realtor called us? It's not like she put in the offer and 9:30 last night and the next 14 hours everyone spent either asleep or trying to get to work... oh wait. And now I feel like I'm going to throw up again.

Despair - What do you mean that between yesterday when we put in our offer and today there were 5 more offers? Highest and best? We can't go any higher! We will not be the best. Annnnd we've been outbid. Again.

So far, this has happened twice and both times, it's been really obnoxious and annoying. The thing that is compounding this problem is that we kind of have to find something this month because we need to to apply for the mortgage and go through the hoop-jumping of closing before I leave my job in the middle of June. Combine the time pressure with the fact that we have to stick within our budget (which makes us unable to compete a ton when bidding starts) and the fact that the market in Burlington and Camden counties is apparently crazy, it's been rough. Also, I think 3 out of every 5 homes on the market here are short sales, which immediately counts them out for us because we don't have that kind of time. Frustrating, I tell you! I know that something will work out and we'll end up with a house that we will love and make a home, and that this isn't the ONLY HOUSE we'll ever live in for the rest of our lives... but it's still a big decision and I can't wait until this part of it is over.

7. There is a serious dearth of scientific and medical literacy in this society.
A couple of weeks ago, someone that I'm friends with on Facebook posted an article that was a response to a NY Times article that was about limiting vaccine exemptions because this whole anti-vax movement is getting really insane.

Pause. Before we go on, I am not trying to start any crazy fights about whether you should vaccinate yourself or your children. These are my opinions, so if you disagree, please do so respectfully and don't bring the drama llama to this blog. Ok, unpause.

Anyway, it's gotten to the point that there are measles outbreaks in various places, the most recent being in NYC, and people are actually dying. This is no joke. Many of these cases are contracted overseas, then brought home and spread to vulnerable people in the community. People rail about not having their rights infringed upon, but when you don't vaccinate, you're not just putting your child at risk, you're putting others at risk who categorically cannot be vaccinated. (This may include infants under the age of 1, patients receiving chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant drugs, patients who have had organ transplants on who are on anti-rejection medications, and people who are allergic to vaccine components.) Many diseases rely on herd immunity, which is a type of immunity that occurs when a specific percentage of the population is vaccinated. For measles, that threshold is between 92% and 94%, meaning that if less than that percentage of people are vaccinated, then herd immunity starts to break down and non-immunized individuals can get sick. For every individual who gets measles, another 12-18 cases can be created. Before you know it, we have an outbreak.

Every day, I read things and it is blatantly obvious to me that many people just simply do not possess the scientific knowledge or background to sift through the piles of crap that accumulate on the internet among the piles of actual information about vaccinations (and other medical/scientific topics). I don't even blame a large percentage of these people who don't know things because as a country, I feel like we are absolutely horrible at instilling any kind of scientific literacy in our citizens. One of the reasons that I want to go into medicine is so I can help educate people from all areas of life on science and medicine because I think that everyone deserves to be able to make informed decisions about their healthcare. The first step to doing that is understanding the science behind it.

When I studied public health ethics during my MPH, it became apparent to me that vaccination is just one of the many topics that turns into a personal rights versus responsibility to society at large debate, which is never helpful to anyone. Emotions run high and before you know it, the entire thing devolves into some kind of crazy "us versus them" situation. The thing is, personal rights diminish as the the amount of space you share with the rest of society diminishes; no one lives in a bubble. I respect people's right to take care of their kids how they see fit, but not when they are operating on false information or under the assumption that they aren't hurting anyone by not vaccinating themselves or their children. (Yes, this goes for adults, too! Get your flu vaccines, and make sure you're up to date on your boosters. There are lots of stories of "healthy" parents giving their newborns pertussis.) As a health professional, I see my job as healer and teacher, and one of the best ways to do that is to focus on why it's important to be responsibly healthy, in all aspects of life, not just vaccination. Maybe my public health degree wasn't a complete waste of time after all.


***

On that note, I'm going to wrap this up. I'm greatly looking forward to going home, getting into my pajamas, and curling up under the heated blanket with one of the 7 books that I have out from the library right now. Also, we're having roasted pork loin and baked macaroni and cheese for dinner, so to say that I'm excited is kind of an understatement.

TLDR; Go to therapy even though it won't instantly solve all of your problems, I'm obsessed with my phone and Twitter, I can't get my shit together to post before 3 pm, Pinterest is a time suck but it's still kind of fun, it's dumb to pay for a gym membership when you don't go, house hunting makes me want to throw up, vaccinate your kids and yourself.

Have a good weekend, all!

- A