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Words are pure magic.

When I first moved in with my boyfriend, I felt like I no longer had a place. I felt like everything in our apartment was his; all I had was a bathroom and my bookshelves.

Did I blame him at first? Absolutely.

Was it his fault? Absolutely not.

He had lived by himself for something like 3 years, and I had lived alone for about a year. We had both collected our own things over those periods of time, but mine were all hand-me-downs. Rightfully so, we moved most of his stuff into our new place. When I walked in for the first time at then end of move-in day, I thought ‘Well, it looks like I just stay here on weekends.’

I’ve gotten upset about it more than once.

I’m silly.

To think that all I have are my bookshelves? Are you kidding me?

I realized, after 6 months, that my books are the most magical things here.

Words are pure magic, and so are the souls who put those words on paper.

I’ve gotten braver over the years, and I know now, that no matter what happens in my life, I can get through it. No matter who walks in or out of my life, I can handle it. Whatever stones are thrown at me, I can handle them.

But only if I have books!

Our apartment is great, and I shouldn’t need things to feel at home. There are things of mine here. Home is a who, not a what.

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The plasma donation and the 30 mile bike ride.

The first bike rides of the season took place this weekend. Finally! I’ve been waiting and waiting for it to be nice enough. We were planning on biking to the Valley Junction Farmer’s Market last Thursday, but, of course, we got the worst thunderstorm of the season. Funnel clouds, winds up to 30 mph, rain, hail… you name it.

Instead, we biked to our favorite place in Valley Junction – Fox Brewing! It’s a small brewery in West Des Moines that’s fox themed, for obvious reasons. We love it, and it’s owned by one of our good friends! (Brian actually grew up with the guy; his name is Brian too.) If you haven’t been there, I suggest checking it out. If you have been there, make sure you hit me up next time you go! They do fun stuff like trivia and yoga.

You have to know it’s a great place if I say it’s my favorite, because… Do you know how many antique stores are in Valley Junction?! #antiquefreak

We biked there on Friday night, which is about 7 miles one way. It’s an easy ride, and the bike trail will take you most of the way there. The weather was perfect; I started in a light jacket and was sweating through that within 20 minutes of the ride. Ditch the jacket, grab a drink of water, off we go.

I forgot to mention… Friday will not go down in history as the day I had the best ideas. I donated plasma that afternoon. I donated plasma and then went on a 14 mile bike ride. To a brewery. Double no-no. I took about 4 sips of a beer, and my mom started giving me the look. I switched to water at the point.

We had gone to Fox Brewing with our families to celebrate our birthday’s since they’re only 7 days apart. I didn’t mind just drinking water; we ordered pizza for dinner, so I wasn’t missing out on that. We played a board game, something like the Worst Case Scenario Survival Game. It was really fun! The questions are hilarious, and I mostly hope I never run into any of those situations. Killer bees? Open wounds? I’m all about the outdoors, I’m actually a nature freak, but only if I get home unscathed.

I was carefree on the way over; it was a rough ride back as I was thirsty and trying to replenish my plasma supply, but we made it around 10:30 pm. We slept 9 hours, and got up to do it all again the next morning. This time, we were headed for Friederick’s Coffee on 22nd St. – almost 8 miles both ways.

I think I was too optimistic at this point.

We’re partaking in Pedal for Paws later this month, which is a 26.2 mile ride. Well, Brian told me I “have a lot of work to do” before that event. On Friday night, slightly insulted, I’m like ‘Okay, I’m just weak from donating plasma. I’ll be fine after I sleep tonight.’ 

Folks, she was not fine after she slept that night.

The ride to the coffee shop was not a flat ride. Every time I saw a hill staring me down, I tried to turn a corner to avoid it. Every time I did that, I found myself facing a bigger hill. It wasn’t as bad as I’m making it sound! I was just very dramatic from having a 14 mile ride the night before, and from this being our first actual ride of the season. Coming back was a little easier; we broke the ride up into 3 parts. I had to stop once to shop and once to eat.

When we finally headed home, I had to use every last ounce of umph to get there. It was getting warmer since it was pushing 1:00 pm now, my legs were throbbing, my backpack was weighing heavy on my shoulders thanks to our stop at Michael’s Craft Store. I only spent $33.00… But I made it. And then I napped, because… priorities.

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I almost pass out a lot. Like, a lot. Probably once a month, and it’s different every time.

Once a month may not sound like a “very often” thing… until it’s happening to you, and all you can think is “Not again, not again.

I don’t know why it happens. I haven’t been able to find any medical explanation for it. I thought I was diabetic for the longest time, because it would mostly happen mid-afternoon when I needed a snack. When I was younger and it would happen, I would scarf down a candy bar and a Diet Coke. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve monitored my blood sugar; it still happens.

I remember every time it has happened like it was yesterday, and it actually did happen yesterday. It’s a little bit emotional for me, because I refuse to let it dictate my life. When I feel it happening, I have to talk myself out of it happening. At this point, I’m certain it’s a mental thing and not physical.

Close your eyes, take deep breaths. You’re okay. You’re going to get through this. 

That’s my mantra. When I start to see things swimming in my vision, when I get clammy and my hands go cold, when I start to feel numb, that’s what I tell myself. I can tell you one thing very proudly: I’ve never actually passed out from these episodes. I’ve always been able to calm myself down, but I dread the day I can’t talk myself out of it. I dread the day it takes control and I lose it.

It has happened in church. That was actually the first time it happened, and I had a good explanation then. I was young, probably not even thirteen yet. I was at church with one of my best friends, her mom, and her sister. I didn’t know what was happening or how to monitor it yet. I remember standing and sitting and standing and sitting and getting too hot and starting to feel fuzzy, and then I was sitting in a different room with my friend’s sister who kept asking if I was okay. My mom said I had gotten over heated, that was all. But it kept happening.

It has happened at the nail salon. I was really into acrylic nails, for some reason, for a really long time. I’m actually still into them, but I cut too deep once time trying to remove them myself, and I haven’t had them since. They were using that little spinning filing tool, and they must have hit a tender spot. I felt a pinch, something that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, and all of a sudden I was losing it. I never say anything or act on it when this happens, I just pray I can stay conscious until I get through it. While I turned completely white, started sweating, and started seeing spots, I sat completely still. I pretended like nothing was happening, like I always do. I still don’t know if this is the best way to handle it.

It has happened in class. In high school accounting class. I was sitting next to my very best friend, and we were just working on that day’s assignment. This time, it happened so fast I barely had time to react. Like always, when it started, I pretended like nothing was wrong. I tried to continue working on my assignment, but my friend looked at me and said “You are so pale right now. Are you okay?” At that point, I got up and ran to the bathroom. I remembered my mom telling me, after the nail salon incident, that when this happens, I should sit on the floor and put my head between my knees. That’s what I did, in the 2nd floor bathroom at West Central Valley High School. I hope someone would have come to check on me if I didn’t return to class soon. Eventually, the episode passed and I went back to class.

It has happened at work, countless times. Late in the afternoon, when it’s almost time to go home and I’m desperately in need of some fruit or a NutriGrain bar. People make fun of me for packing so many snacks in my lunchbox, but you don’t really get it until it happens to you. It’s not just a matter of being hungry, at that point.

It has happened while donating plasma. I don’t know. I grew up watching CSI. I was never uneasy around blood. I got weekly allergy shots for years when I was younger. I have like 16 tattoos. I’ve never been scared of needles. But it never fails, if I so much as acknowledge that needle in my arm, it happens.

It has happened at home, on my own couch.

It has happened while I’ve been driving in the car.

It has happened at the state fair.

It doesn’t matter where I am, what I have done to prevent it, or how nourished I am that day: it controls my life. It completely consumes me the moment it starts happening, and it drains me for the rest of the day. The horrible part about the whole thing is that I don’t know why it happens. I have tried to stop it in every way I know how. Doctors tell me to eat a yogurt every afternoon to keep my blood sugar up, but people without blood sugar problems don’t have to monitor their blood sugar. Our bodies are supposed to do that, so how can nothing be wrong with mine?

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Thoughts of the week of June 19, 2017

I’ve had so much to say lately, yet I’ve had so little time to say it. I realized earlier today that I just had a pile of Post-It notes of ideas on my desk. None of them had made it off my desk, let alone into my purse and home. I’m finally in front of the computer and ready to go, and I’m realizing that all of my notes almost correlate with each other. I’m going to put them in what I think is the correct order, and hopefully it comes out as one major thought.

Everything I’ve been through has molded me into the person that I am now.

Read more…

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Because I stayed home.

Sometimes I look at the girls who left, and I wish I had left too. I look at the girls who joined the Navy, who moved to Nashville for work, who moved to Florida because they just needed out; I look at the girls who did something else, and I wish I had too.

I see the pictures posted on social media. There are pictures of oceans, new cities, new friends, new bars, new lives… And not a single mention of that hometown bar that I hate yet always find myself in. None of those girls hear the rumors of the hometown “perfect couple” that got divorced. They don’t go out on Friday night and run into everyone they went to high school with. They get the occasional photo comment on Facebook from an old friend’s mom, but they never stand the chance of actually running into that person any random day of their life. They can be whoever they want to be.

Then I remember all the things I got to do because I stayed home, and I remember that I should be a little more thankful for my roots. I remember that I know plenty of people who did leave, and almost all of them came back. I vacation for four days, and I’m ready to come home. Would I feel the same if my home was located elsewhere? It seems like most of them did.

Instead of going to work at my little cubicle, every Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, and feeling jealous, I try to remind myself that there are so many perks to keeping myself planted near my family. I remind myself that I get to see my parents any time I want. In fact, I probably see them more than they’d prefer (*wink wink*). I get to grow up alongside my little sister. (Yes, I’m twenty-three and still don’t consider myself “grown up.”) I get to watch this city quadruple in size. I still have to worry about tornadoes, but I don’t have to worry about hurricanes. I don’t have to lug the ridiculous amount of books that I own across the country. (Don’t get me wrong – I’ve moved them “just down the street” plenty of times.) I get to meet so many new people and wonder how I didn’t meet them sooner. I still get to put all the pieces together, even if the picture in the puzzle only takes place in Des Moines, IA.

Sometimes, the only way to find yourself is to get [physically] lost. I think I was always too afraid of losing even more of myself to pack up and go anywhere. I did so many things out of loneliness and excitement. I went to college, I quit college, I moved back in with my parents, I moved back out of my parent’s, I moved in with a boy, I left that boy… I didn’t ever know where I belonged. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to belong anywhere, as long as I want to be where I am in that moment.

The end of the rainbow isn’t always across the map; sometimes it’s in your backyard.