I realized last night – as I was falling asleep, because what better time to have a rando realization like this – that I hadn’t posted in ages. This is due to two things: first, I’ve been doing a lot of freelance writing lately, and working two jobs is, as it turns out, really time consuming. (WHO KNEW?!) I also hadn’t had the time to sit down at my computer and type out a post, so I’ve remedied this by taking the groundbreaking, revolutionary step of…installing the WordPress app so I can post from my phone.
Solutions. I like them.
So, to say the least, things have been busy lately. A quick roundup of all the goings-on ’round here:
1) My freelance writing gig brings me such life, you guys. I’m writing for The List, a women’s lifestyle site, and it’s the perfect combination of research (satisfying my inner nerd), writing (satisfying my inner aspiring author), and on topics I really enjoy (like wellness, women’s issues, and, because I’m nothing if not shallow, celebrities). I try to do at least one article per week, and although it’s time and energy intensive, it’s also engaging and fun. And someone is actually *paying* me to *write* things, which to me, is nothing short of amazing.
2) I passed the two-year post-hysterectomy milestone, which is a big deal in the oncology world. I now get to space out my checkups — so I’ll start going in every six months instead of every three months. Granted, I adore my oncologist and want to be legit, real-life friends with her, so those visits aren’t exactly onerous.
3) I rejoined Weight Watchers, and I have to admit: I’m not doing as good of a job with tracking as I should be. I keep thinking this’ll get better with time, and as I gradually improve my life, my bandwidth won’t feel so limited. Here’s hoping.
4) Remember how I talked about refinancing my student loans? I finally got it figured out, and I was able to use Credible to refinance allllll those bastards — both public and private, which is a big deal. It cut my interest rate in half, so now my payments will actually *do* something! Rejoice.
Anyways, now that I’ve got this handy app installed (can we talk about how old I felt when I realized how long it took for me to think of doing this? Oy vey.), I’ll be able to post and update more often. Until then, I leave you with this autumnal scene, because fall is bae:
After the last few long-ish posts, I figure I’ll mix things up a bit and talk about some of the day-to-day things I’ve done lately as part of my self-renovation effort. I’d originally planned to post about one thing per day, but then I started to worry that it would be painfully boring for people to read.
Like, more boring than standing in an interminably long line, at a place with a slow internet connection, while C-SPAN blares on TV.
One of my pet peeves about reading peoples’ blogs is when they revert to random lists of things they did that day — “And then I went to Starbucks, and then I drank my triple nonfat 2-Splenda frappuccino, and here’s a picture, and then I got my nails done, and here’s another picture” and at this point, readers are actually dying because they’re so bored — and I just didn’t want to go down that road. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that, you guys.
So, instead, I figure I’ll provide occasional lists that round up my recent Acts of Renovation. This way I’m keeping myself on track and staying accountable, but I’m also not running the risk of boring everyone to the point of their untimely demise — unless, of course, there are those among you who’d actually want to read about the details on some of these things, in which case I’d be more than happy to elaborate. (If you fall into this category, let me know! I’m happy to write about nearly anything in greater detail, except for something really heinous like the mating habits of worms, so I’m happy to take suggestions/requests/feedback/whatever.)
I’m going to break these up into a few posts, so as to not feed into the boredom issue (THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, Y’ALL). For today, I’ll focus on my efforts to get my ducks in a row, both in regards to overall organization/life management, and in regards to my health. Organization comes pretty easily to me — because I’m deranged, I love cleaning, tidying, and organizing things, and I have absurdly intricate systems for filing papers, hanging up my clothes, etc. –
Health, by contrast, has been a consistent struggle for me over the years. (You may have noticed this, in the sense that sometimes one notices that the sun is shining.) I very much want to get back on track with my health: back to feeling strong and energized, back to being able to run and lift, back to looking and feeling like myself again.
Anyways, all that being said — behold, a self-congratulatory list, but partial, list of accomplishments:
Life management: As an official Xennial,* making the switch from analog to digital totally upended all my carefully constructed filing, note-taking, and paper organization systems. It’s been a bit cray since then, but I recently signed up for Evernote — and I then proceeded to spend hours consolidating all my random ideas, lists, notes to self, paper scraps, and other miscellany into organized, easily accessible notebooks. For the last few years I’ve been writing down my ideas, lists, etc. in my email, but because I didn’t want to send myself 20,000 messages that I’d constantly have to update as I added things to the list/fleshed out an idea, I basically amassed a colossal pile of draft messages in my Gmail account. And, because I hadn’t found a good way to categorize or organize them, I had no f*cking idea where those brilliant ideas and lists actually were without painstakingly sorting through said colossal pile. Needle. Haystack. No bueno. So, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased to get everything pulled into one place and organized in a way that makes it possible for me to find them.
Health: The lifting ban is OFFICIALLY OVER! In preparation for this momentous occasion, I found a handful of strength training routines to try, and I’m excited to get started with this. I want to split the different lifting sets over the course of four days, so as to allow for recovery time, etc., and I found some good options for doing that. Now if only I could stop hurting long enough to start lifting again. And to that end…
Health: In hopes of getting some better answers about my chronic pain problem and why it likes to flare up so often, I saw my primary care doctor yesterday and got a handful of referrals to specialists who might be able to help solve this mystery, or at least mitigate some of the symptoms. She also ran a butt-ton of blood work — and yes, “butt ton” is totally a medical term, by the way — to look for any hint of an autoimmune problem, so we’ll wait to see what those tests indicate. She also gave me a course of doxycycline, since this fits the constellation of symptoms that people can experience with Lyme disease — and, as she put it, it can be worth it to treat possible Lyme as confirmed Lyme, because if the antibiotics resolve my symptoms…then poof! I can start getting better. In the absence of proof, though, we need to do some digging to figure out what’s going on, so I now have follow up appointments scheduled next month with neurology, a pain psychologist, and a sleep medicine specialist. So, hopefully this will bring me closer to figuring out why my meat suit** is malfunctioning.
So, all in all, I’m pretty pleased with myself — and hopefully no one has keeled over. 😃
*Xennials are the micro-generation between Gen X and Millennials, and SWEET BUDDHA I’M SO GLAD IT’S FINALLY A THING.
** Meat suit is my not-at-all-weird term for my body. Like I said: not weird. Totally not weird. Don’t judge.
I’ve recently noticed a recurring, and really weird, theme throughout my life: whenever I make specific plans, they almost never turn out the way I’d intended. In fact, they often don’t turn out in ways that even remotely resemble what I’d intended — but in most of those cases, something better comes along to replace the original plan.
Take, for example, high school and college: I’d worked out a plan with my school to finish high school early and enroll in college during what would’ve been my senior year, because I was 1) entirely too motivated and filled with Type A ambition and drive (ok, where did all that energy go?), and 2) I loved the school where my parents worked and knew that I’d be able to go there for free as a staff dependent. (They worked at Colorado College, AKA CC, a small liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, CO.)
I wrote up a proposal for my school board, got conditional acceptance into CC, and was all set to go into academic overdrive when…my dad got a new job in Pennsylvania. since I was transferring to a new school with the cross-country move and wouldn’t be able to go to CC tuition-free, my big plans went up in smoke. I was upset at the time — there was a lot of teen angst, wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc. — but it wound up working out wonderfully: I spent the next two years attending an awesome high school and making amazing friends (y’all know who you are). After having a hard time with the first two years of high school, the last two wound up totally redeeming the whole thing — and in ways that I couldn’t imagine when I was drawing up my plans to graduate early.
There are tons of other examples like this (see: getting into college, infertility, etc.), but for now I’ll spare you the Tolstoy-length post on all the details. Suffice it to say, though, this has been very much A Thing throughout my 36 years.
By contrast, the one thing that has gone according to my plans is my career. I got into grad school, got a fellowship to come to DC, made my big transfer into my current job, and…well, look at me. Not the happiest of cowgirls, am I?
All of this has made me wonder about the utility of making long-term plans vs. simply being open to possibility. When I was younger, I thought the Soviet concept of five- and ten-year plans was genius: I mean, why wouldn’t anyone have a master plan figured out for their life? Since then, however, I’ve come to find that this was the most ludicrous approach to life I could’ve possibly taken. I chalk this up to youthful naivete, because y’all, I soooooo don’t have that much control over the trajectory of my life. (Does anyone, though?) I’ve seen people suffer enormous tragedies, bear tremendous burdens, receive extraordinary gifts, and rise to face impressive challenges — all of which were unforeseen and totally not part of their plans.
For my part, my long-term plans included having babies with my husband, and possibly running a half-marathon — but then I got cancer, became permanently infertile, and picked up a chronic pain problem. I sure as sh*t didn’t see those things coming.
More recently, at the beginning of the year, I created a set of goals for myself (goals, not resolutions!): goals that included doing lots of planks, starting to do more weight training, and working on building muscle after basically becoming the human embodiment of cake batter over the last four years.
But then I found that I had developed a hernia at one of the incision sites from my hysterectomy, so that put the kibosh on lifting and anything involving my core muscles. (I had surgery to repair the hernia, which I named Ralph, on June 1, so I’ll be clear to start lifting heavy things on July 13.) And then on Monday I had a massive asthma flare-up that landed me in the hospital, so even my plans to start doing cardio are on hold for now, and I continue with my whole “Hi, I’m basically sentient cake batter” motif.
I’m not pleased by these developments.
But I keep reminding myself that it isn’t all bad: I occasionally see glimmers of a silver lining floating around (coming out of the infertility-grief fog with a profound desire to write about it, for example), and moments of serendipity help me remember that things have a funny way of working out sometimes.
I decided long ago that one of my theme songs for life — you know, if you could make a soundtrack to your life, what would the primary theme songs be? — is You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by the Rolling Stones. (True story: I remember hearing it as the background music for a Motorola commercial in, like, 1998 and it burst through the ambient noise with such clarity that I felt like the Universe was shaking me and saying “DUDE. PAY ATTENTION TO THIS. IT’S IMPORTANT.”) I have to keep reminding myself that this is generally a sound approach (get it? A song is a sound approach? I’ll be here all week, folks. I also do bar mitzvahs.), that this setback in terms of my health is manageable, and that just because Plan A usually hasn’t worked, Plan B can be just as good as, if not better than, what I originally had in mind.