Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pandemic Life Meets the Holidays

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020 

I've decided to resurrect my blog to capture this snapshot of life during a pandemic but also hopefully to help cope as writing is oft to do for me.  Today, I glanced outside to see snow softly falling.  We've had a couple little bits but this was the first time I've seen a decent snowfall.  Not enough to stick here in Michigan, but enough to put wipers on when you drive.  I don't much like snow, especially traveling in it.  And yet here with my Christmas jazz musical accompaniment, I smiled realizing I would probably appreciate the snow more this year since I'll be spending more of my time at home.  And then I remembered why and promptly let loose the tears. 

What an odd emotional place to be in the crosshairs of blissfully happy and petrifyingly terrified...  I'm not ashamed to admit I enjoy working part-time.  Monetarily, less so, but humans should not have to work a 40 hr work week because honestly, we know it's probably more than that.  I'm still covering my bills and that's even with my unemployment having been frozen since end of May, prior to even returning to work.  So, the fact that I'm where I'm at is good and I'm grateful.  I know on the whole people are struggling.  It'd be great if our government gave more of f*ck about us, but what can you do?  

I'm in school so that fits nicely with working part-time and giving me ample opportunity to get school stuff done.  Work is getting done on the house and I'm grateful knowing my partner is safe working from home.  We've spent more time together and ugh, I just love that nerd.  I'm grateful to have a supportive, goofy, hardworking guy by my side who has helped me find my healthiest, happiest me.  We've always been homebodies so these introverts are doing great at home.  

And yet, with all this gratitude and happiness, chaos is outside my door.  I cry almost every day.  I've always been a sensitive and emotional person, but f*ck, it's getting a little old.  In the beginning, I was concerned but I know my health is good and it was more a concern for others.  As we learn more about this virus, I am actually more concerned about my own health and the possible lasting ramifications.  I work with little children who don't understand the concept of covering their faces when they sneeze or maybe don't rub your snot on the toys.  So yes, I got my flu shot.  I use hand sanitizer.  We clean a lot at work and send children home when we can't keep up with the snot.  

But every day the cases go up.  People are determined to "live their lives" and "not let this stop them."  Allow me to beg the question, however will you do any of this if you die?  Serious question.  Also, why?  Why does it matter to you that much?  Are you just that selfish?  Other countries are doing so much better at getting this under control and there's a reason why.  It's called collectivism.  Empathy and desire to care for your neighbor.  It's why people in other countries would already wear masks when they were sick.  To try to prevent others from getting sick.  Yet here, in Big Bad America, you can't cancel a few holidays because people are dying en masse?  Honestly, I pity your shortsightedness and send my thoughts and prayers that no one dies because of your well-intentioned activities.  Because incidentally, that's already happened quite a bit. And I'm just f*cking over it.  So pardon me, but I will be shutting myself inside my house as much as possible away from people with the exceptions of work, groceries, and prescriptions.  Because I am taking this seriously and I want the people I love to make it out of this.  Incidentally, if the people I love are making different choices, then like I said, thoughts and prayers but I'm not playing any games.  Not with coronavirus.  I'm tired.  I'm so f*cking tired.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Poem I Wrote Today, Dealing with My Pain

Broken body.
Broken head.
Broken heart.

All my life, 
Or at least my life as I can remember and perceive,
Back pain.
Hip pain.
Always there.

Some days worse than others.
Some days not so bad at all.
But pain is life, right?

Well, it’s my life.
Every day, it’s waking up to pain.
Living through pain.
Trying to make it go away or ease it,
But always there. 
Always pain.

The exhaustion as I try vigorously to make myself healthier
On the bad back of a not yet 30-year-old woman.
Hard. Not impossible.

Now in the home stretch,
Every little piece I put into my mouth is important.
Just watching calories doesn’t work as well anymore
Because I have less to lose, less to burn.

So I have to plan every bite, every mouthful.
Keep numbers low.
Maybe if I can’t go to the gym my body will still burn it?
Not so much anymore.

So I have to push harder,
And harder.
But it’s harder to push when you’re in agony,
And you’re emotional,
And tired,
And just want to fucking eat and not count every tiny fucking nutritional value…

However, it’s still far away,
Because I have shitty self-control
In my broken body.

Perpetuated by the chemicals inside
That refuse to do as told.
That believe themselves to be independent,
Doing what they want
Only to fuck me over.

Because that independence
Makes my head hurt,
My heart hurt.
That overwhelming bullshit
To fight every day to feel normal,
To feel not unbalanced,
To feel happy for more than brief moments.

But instead the little chemicals
Do whatever the fuck they want
And in order to make them function properly:

I wish I didn’t need them
But the last time I tried
It broke me harder, further, deeper.
Needing more meds to stabilize.

So I truck along
Through good days and bad
In my broken head.

Add up chronic pain,
With chemical malfunctioning brain and emotions,
Throw in the added inadequacies of being fired and years of practice in self-loathing
And here we are.

The culmination of all that I am
Wrapped together
Dripping with sarcasm and tears for glue
Trying to hold it all together.
And lately, it feels that every day is a little harder than before.
That the balancing act continues tipping.
That a happy me seems to get further and further away.

Because I’m so tired of fighting for it.
Because I’m so tired of constantly trying to be upbeat.
Because I’m so tired of forcing myself to smile when I want to cry.
Because I’m so tired.


Broken body
Broken head
Broken heart.

All day.
Every day.
Wondering when

I can be happy again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Difference a Year Makes

December 2016. Not yet at my highest weight.
Last year on my birthday, I decided that I needed a change.  I looked at where I was and who I was and decided it had to be different.  I could no longer neglect my body.  I weighed myself the day after my birthday, prepared to begin my weight loss journey.  I started at 210 pounds.  The highest I had ever been.

Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of photos that show me in full figure at that weight. So close will have to do.  But what you can see is a person who is not healthy.  A person who does not love her body enough to take care of it properly.

I made a promise that by my next birthday, which happened to be yesterday, April 2, 2018, I would be down to 150.  A grand total of 60 pounds.

I wasn't new to the idea of working out and weight loss.  I'd been working out before but never seeing any results. In fact, I would work out almost an hour every day and nothing would change.  Because, and I really can't stress this enough, I had no fucking clue what I was doing.

When it comes to weight loss and working out, you can't just work out and expect to lose weight. You have to be aware of what you are actually putting in your body.  Let's say you work out a good 30 minutes on an elliptical, and you're thinking healthy so you have salad for lunch.  But the salad has some chicken, some avocado, couple tablespoons of dressing.  You've just eaten back everything you burned.  And that might not be a huge deal, but it isn't going to result in weight loss if you aren't paying attention to everything you take in.

Most nutrition labels go by the idea that a "normal" person needs 2,000 calories a day.  I'm going to put this as delicately as possible, you do not need that many fucking calories a day.  Unless you are jacked as fuck like all the Hollywood starlets who bust ass in the gym four hours a day, YOU DO NOT NEED THIS MANY CALORIES!!!!

So, having said that which is helpful but not necessarily the most helpful, I'm going to thrown down my tips for weight loss.  It isn't easy.  In fact, it is a bitch.  But I believe with my whole heart and soul that it is completely worth it.  But I'm not all about the platitudes.  Allow me to show you my proof!

Me on April 2nd, 2018 at 145 pounds
TA DA!!! I made it.  In fact, not only did I meet my goal, I had another five pounds down.  I actually went a little bit closer to 140, but since I gave myself a couple cheat days for my birthday and pigged out on Easter, it went back up a little. But let's get a good look at a side by side.  Because it is far easier to see the difference that way.

Oh my fucking god, just look at my face.

I truly still can't believe how much weight I've lost.  It still in many ways doesn't seem real.  Especially since I have at least15 pounds to go.  But I've never been more determined to be the healthiest version of myself.  If you want success too, I can share my tips and maybe you just might try them.

1) Get a good scale.  Weighing yourself sucks, but it's important.  Most important because you want to be able to track the changes.  But not just to your weight.  We purchased a Renpho scale which comes with a companion app.  It measures everything!  But it also shows these numbers in the grand scale of what is healthy.  So you can watch the numbers change and see yourself getting closer and healthier!  Check it out on Amazon for just over $30.  Honestly, it's the best scale I've ever owned.

2) Losing weight is in the kitchen, not the gym.  As mentioned before, you can work out until the cows come home, but if you aren't paying attention to what you're putting in your body, it won't matter.  Plenty of apps and websites are out there to figure out how much you should be ingesting in order to lose weight. Plan accordingly.

3) Learn how to read nutrition labels! This may seem kind of weird, but really learn what things are made of.  When you start learning and understanding what your body needs, you'll realize how to do better for yourself.  There is a favorite restaurant nearby that my partner and I love to frequent.  They have fish and chips made just like in England, and they are divine.  Shortly before my birthday last year, we went there for dinner and I devoured a whole plate of fish and chips, coleslaw, and I believe a whole 16 ounce beer.  After starting this weight loss journey, we went back as a treat or reward for hitting a goal, I don't remember.  But it was over a month into my weight loss, I could not finish half my plate. When you start eating smaller portions and control what you eat, your stomach becomes smaller and thus less food is needed to fill up. Especially since, you really, really, really, really don't need 2,000 calories a day.

4) Consider Keto.  While calorie counting worked for me for a while, I eventually saw my weight loss slowing drastically.  This is where reading and learning nutrition becomes even more important.  Carbohydrates, we're told, is that energy we get that keeps us going.  What you might not know is that all those carbs you take in become the fat on your body if your body can't burn it.  What the Keto diet does is limits your carbs as much as possible, which turns your body towards burning fat.  When you're overweight, as you might know, your body has lots of that to burn.  I started doing Keto at the end of February.  At that point, I weighed 157.6, and after a month I had lost over 11 pounds.  In a month.  Because my body was literally reprogrammed to eat its own fat.  That is what Keto can do.  I'm keeping up with it for my last 15 pounds, and it feeds into my next idea.

5) Use Excel to calculate and an app to keep track!  I use a spreadsheet to calculate everything.  I have a separate tab for the week where I plan out my breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert.  Each meal gets broken down by calories, protein, fat, and carbs.  The protein, fat, and carbs by the gram.  At the bottom of the spreadsheet, I add all these up for my totals. Each meal has another tab, where I can list a meal idea and all of the ingredients and amounts, calculate the totals, and if I am only eating a portion I can divide by portions.  Excel makes it super easy by having equations just a click away.  This to me is one of the most important parts because every recipe I make, I am not relying on someone else's information because I'm doing all the math myself.  And what I've learned is that most things that say they are "low carb" are full of shit.  Once you take those ingredients and find out the real numbers, you will see that it probably isn't actually low carb.

Side note: In Keto, when it comes to reading nutrition, you don't count fiber.  Your body intakes and naturally uses the fiber.  What your body has to burn for energy is the sugars.  So, when counting carbs, you take the total carbs per serving and subtract the amount of fiber.  Then that is what you intake in carbs.  For instance, food A has 5 total grams of carbs per serving. It has 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar.  When you eat a serving of food A, you are eating 3 grams of carbs.  5-2=3.  If you choose to do Keto, do some research. Go to a site and figure out what your maximum per day should be for grams of protein and fat.  And I personally suggest continuing counting calories.  But what I've learned in my experience is to limit your carbs under 25 grams a day or a minimal as you can keep it.  Plus, if you're eating carbs, eat them earlier in the day.  If you eat carbs right before bed, your body will be in carb burning mode and won't do you any good.  Personally, I've found the days I can keep my grams of carbs lower than 10 are the days where I have maximum weight loss, regardless of how much protein and fat I intake.

I'm still not done with this journey.  But I really can't wait to keep going.  It's nice to take occasional breaks, but it is also easy to kick yourself out of ketosis by eating too many carbs, so then your body has to adjust to burning fat again.  I know I can do it, and I'm excited to do it.  I hope that people will see this and know how capable you are of doing this for yourself.  Planning my meals and being more attentive has helped me so much.  I wish everyone the best on their own journey.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Updating the Shit Storm

Hey all!  Friends, family, anyone who happens to chance upon this blog and consider it worth a read. I am here to provide an update.  I know my posts on Facebook have been cryptic, and full of subtle and depressive commentary about my life.  You know that whole "When it rains, it pours" nonsense??  Well I have been living in a deluge of shit.  A hurricane uprooting my life and my emotional well being, and simply being a twat to me.  Well...some of my life has turned a corner, and I'm here to let everyone know about it.

Some of you may know that I purchased my first home in late December of last year.  Super exciting, right?!  Yeah, it was.  But only for a couple months.  Then mushrooms sprouted in my basement.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Everyone's favorite (or least favorite) pizza topping fun-guy popped up in my basement in an area my inspector stated was slightly moist due to improper grading of the patio.  Since I purchased in late December, I couldn't exactly fix the patio.  Well once it was nice enough to do so (which we did), turns out my basement was infested heavily with black mold.  Not just in that one spot, but all around.  Courtesy of some disappointing house flippers and their shady tactics and crappy landscaping, I now have to rip apart the entire finished basement to repair the foundation and destroy the mold.  *sigh*  Yep.  First home problems...

I spy with my little eye...something in my wall that will kill me...
On this front, I have put together mediation paperwork and am going after the sellers who knew about the mold and didn't disclose it.  And how do I know that??  How can I prove that they knew about the mold and didn't treat it properly??  A handy little Google search showed that the sellers had a YouTube channel for updating their out of state partner, and I got to see it all.  And download it.  They were out to "make some blood money."  (Yes, that's a real quote from their video).  And now I am out to put their balls in a vice.  Booyah.

Well going back slightly further, as some of you may know from me or reading this blog, I was raped the day before Thanksgiving.  I was raped by someone I had previously had consensual relations with.  I told him I didn't want to date him.  I told him I didn't want to sleep with him again.  I told him no.  Repeatedly.  But that didn't stop him.  I did not report the rape.  I was ashamed, scared, embarrassed, and frankly I don't trust the criminal justice system to always do the right thing (see Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, our President, and many others...)  But a couple months ago something changed.  I found out that I wasn't the only victim.  That he had hurt someone else, and after learning that I knew I had to do something.

I reported my rape later that day.  I stood in my kitchen doorway and told a patrol cop what had happened.  I listened to her tell me I should have come forward sooner.  I should have gotten a rape kit so there would be more evidence.  And I wondered if it would even matter.  A detective was given my case and we talked.  I told him what had been done to me, and to his credit, he never judged me.  He never said I should have come forward sooner.  He never said I should have gotten a rape kit.  He said I did what I needed to for myself, and maybe some of that evidence would be helpful, but not having that evidence doesn't mean it didn't happen.  It didn't make my case less than another.  I will always remember this man, and be able to tell survivors that there are detectives who care.  Who want to help.

He talked to me.  I waited.  He talked to my best friend.  I waited.  He talked to another bartender who worked with my rapist.  And I waited.  He turned over the evidence to the prosecution.  I waited.  And then I heard the news: that prosecution would press charges against him.  Two counts of CSC 3rd degree.  Today was the preliminary hearing, and I discovered what my fate would be.  Would we go to trial?  Would I have to testify?  Would he plead guilty?  Would the judge dismiss the charges?  Questions and feelings running through my head at a million miles an hour.  Distracting me from my work.  Haunting me in my sleep.  Keeping me on the edge of paranoid every minute in public that I would run into him.  

Today I found out that he waived the hearing.  Wait, what??  I come down and sit for hours.  Deal with seeing his face and feeling every hair on me stand up, and now what?!  Well when the defendant exercises his right to waive the preliminary exam, it means going straight to trial or pleading out.  He is pleading guilty.  He is going to admit in a court of law that he touched me without my consent, without me wanting it.  He is going to admit that he ignored my pleas of "no" and forced himself on me.  He will get a lesser sentence.  He will plead to lesser charges.  He will likely not serve much time.  But in a court of law, he will admit he hurt me.  And that is not nothing.  That is a very big something.

And on top of both those stressors are several other smaller things, like my SO trying to find a job...and four adults and two medium/large dogs living in a 2 bedroom/1.5 bath house with no basement storage because MOLD...and job restructuring with no available work so I sit and color and watch Netflix all day...and money problems from being out with mono after my rape...and all that shit adds up.  A calculation of shit plus shit plus mega shit equals a very emotionally drained me.  

I have had the best support through all of this though.  Scott, my loving SO, who has held me while I sobbed and wanted to give up and quieted me down when I thought my rapist was going to break into the house and kill us.  He has never left my side and has proven time and time again that he is my soulmate and the person I want to face every battle with when we grow old together.  My best friend Mary has been a constant source of kindness and warmth.  She never fails to ask me how I am or amuse me with anecdotes or offer Harry Potter and hang out time.  My mom and future in-laws have worked so hard to keep my spirits up and help me in any way they can.  Whether helping with house stuff or bills or even providing a well timed makeover, I've had great parents looking out for mine and Scott's best interest while we tackle all of it.  Oh and my pupper who never fails to offer snuggles and kisses.  My baby has been at my side through so much and continues to do so.  And everyone on social media who has offered kind words or virtual hugs or house advice, you have kept me going especially at my worst.  Thank you, all of you.  For holding my hand and my heart as I am working through all of this.  

It isn't over.  I will still have a sentencing hearing to go to and hopefully speak my piece.  I'm waiting to hear on how mediation will progress.  It's still going.  But today...today was a milestone.  Hurdle after hurdle...I'm still going...still going...still going...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Writing It Out

Things have been unprecedented in my life lately.  At the end of 2016, I closed on my first home.  It was decision predicated by the amazing job I got earlier last year and the logical steps of my life.  And it has been absolutely amazing.  I've felt steady and well adjusted.  And even in dealing with my assault in November, I've been able to focus on this new chapter and how excited I am to be a home owner and making it my own space.

And then, my body betrays me.

I have been able to bring myself to be in my friend's apartment.  Mainly because the love I feel there has overcome the very, very bad experience I had.  But it also means that my assaulter is often one floor down in the place where he works.  For the most part, I've become very good at dealing with that fact.  I've seen him.  But I've yet to enter the bar.  Usually I keep my eyes on the ground and walk to and from my friend's place.  And it has been hard, but ok.

Today, after spending a wonderful evening painting, watching movies, and making new friends, I finally decided I was ready to go home.  And he was outside.  He was there, smoking and talking to people.  And in an instant, I was not okay.

My pace quickened as much I could on an ice covered sidewalk.  My eyes immediately started to water and my heartbeat picked up its pace.  I tried to keep myself composed until I got to my car because there were people outside and I didn't need someone noticing me in my vulnerability.  By the time I got to my car, I was hyperventilating.  I placed my stuff in the car and got in, immediately locking it in case he had followed me.  While I don't fear for my safety, I also haven't spoken to him and don't know if he would make that effort.  He did not.

The whole 8 minute drive home I could barely control my breathing.  I made my way inside, shaking as I fumbled with my key in the difficult lock.  Once inside, I slammed and locked the door behind me.  My poor dog looking at me as if to ask what's wrong as I collapsed on the floor crying.  I laid there for a moment with my warm face against the cold tile floor.  I composed myself, I got up, and I moved on as best I could.

But it's still with me, as much I as I move forward and focus on positive things, it's there.  It's there in the dark part of me.  The recesses.  So that in my weakest moments, it hits.  My therapist suggested that I write when I am this emotional, hence this post.  I'm not looking for pity or sympathy.  Only for people if they do not already understand, that the pain and damage of trauma runs deeply.  And it is painful.  And I wish with all my heart that I could get rid of it.  But I can't.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm Not Okay

I struggled for a couple days over whether or not to write this, and what to say or how much to say.  Because I've been in a lot of pain.  One of my biggest fears in life came true.  That as a sexual assault survivor, I was more likely to be assaulted again.  And it happened.

I was raped the night before Thanksgiving.  In a set of circumstances that I have been begging for a Delorean or Tardis to go back and change.  To have had the courage to ask him to leave.  To have not frozen in panic and just "deal" with what happened to me.  But all that does is blame myself for what someone did to me.  I said no.  Repeatedly.  At least four times.  But that didn't matter.  And it didn't stop it from happening.

I'm not okay.

I thought for a brief moment that maybe I was fine.  That I had wanted to have sex.  That obviously I was sending the signals for that.  But I'm not fine.  I didn't want to have sex.  I said repeatedly that I didn't want to have sex.  And the biggest part of the whole situation is that I'm fighting my own self blame, and trying to remind myself that he did this to me.  He chose to do this, after I repeatedly said no.

He told me I wanted it.  That I wanted him to fuck me.

He was so polite.  When he first tried putting his hands up my shirt, I pulled away and said that wasn't happening tonight.  He stopped, wrapped his arm around me, and kissed my hair.  The second time he attempted to put his hand down my pants.  I squirmed away and said that wasn't happening.  He brushed my hair out of my face and kissed me.  When I attempted to stand up and walk away, he grabbed at my pants and attempted to pull them down.  I wrenched them back up and said that wasn't happening tonight.  He brought me more beer, and I said I didn't want it.  But he couldn't drink it all himself so I had some.  When I said I was tired, he asked to cuddle.  But I didn't want his finger inside me, and I didn't want sex.  I couldn't move.  I froze.

I kept it together mostly on Thursday.  Same on Friday.  Same on Saturday.  It was Sunday when it all started to unravel.  And has continued into a numb existence of wanting to stay in bed, eat, not eat, sleep, stay awake, feeling like a zombie.

And here I am.

I'm grateful and lucky for the people I have in my life.  That I have friends to reach out to who care enough to check in and make sure I feel safe.  That know how to help me and when to let me have my space.  I'm going to get through this.  I know I am going to be okay.  Eventually.  But right now I'm not okay.  And that's okay.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Poem of Epic Emotional Proportions

I wrote this poem today because this past week has been really emotional for me.  I don't want to explain why but in summary, I feel like a pathetic loser who is unwanted.  Some people reading this will know what I'm talking about, and some won't.  In short, dating sucks.  I feel weak and dumb for caring as much as I do, but I do and now I'm dealing with my own stupidity.  I'm really looking forward to shutting myself into my new house and not coming out.   But here is what I wrote today.  I appreciate good will but I'm really not looking to talk about the situation.  It hurts too much right now.

Topaz eyes contain crystalline waters,
Deep the waters go.
While the surface seems calm,
Below, whirlpools rage and the storm feels uncontrollable.
The soft flesh of the beating heart within,
Holding everything together,
While always feeling like falling apart.
Fighting, fighting for every breath and every moment
To know that it is worth it,
But feeling loneliness creep inside as darkness spreads its fine tendrils.
Waiting and hoping and wondering,
If anyone will love me.
I try to hold myself together and know
That I am beautiful and worth it and strong.
But as the trees shed their leaves in the crisp fall air,
So the layers of protection slip away,
As the fight to remain positive becomes harder.
To wait for someone to think

Maybe I’m someone worth fighting for.