Liebster Blog Award

 

My good friend Kelly over at Catch Kelly’s Fancy nominated me for a super fun blogging award last week. The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers, and it works like this: I tell you 11 facts about myself, answer Kelly’s 11 questions, then post my own set of questions and nominate more blogs! As I’m a bit of a blogging novice, I am going to satisfy the first two criteria, but hold off on making my own nominations since the only blogs I follow that qualify for the award have already received it. So. Here we go.

Some stuff about me

1. The idea of being perceived as unintelligent is abhorrent to me. I graduated from the kind of high school where going on to a four university and graduating within four years made you the exception rather than the rule and I was certainly not one of the exceptions. I’ve spent every minute since I left Florida trying to make up for that.

2. I get a huge kick out of being able to shop in the kids’ shoe department. Some of my favorite boots ever had a teeny Disney Shake It Up logo above the heel that was not noticeable at all, but I thought it was hilarious.

3. I just found out that I’m allergic to trees. All of them.

4. I think maybe I’m a better person than I used to be, but old me had some good qualities and I’m struggling with trying to figure out how to incorporate them into new me.

5. I didn’t get into the one grad program that I applied to which led to a complete breakdown in an East Village coffee shoppe. Not one of my finer moments.

6. I’m not a fan of most grown up literature. I tend to shop almost exclusively in the YA Paranormal section. And I’m not ashamed. Mostly. The redeeming fact here is that I despised Twilight.

7. I miss the sunshine, but I will never move back to Florida.

8. I just found out that teacup pigs aren’t actually a thing and it broke my heart.

9. I’m fascinated by the idea of Christianity and witchcraft being combined, but my upbringing has thus far prevented me from giving the idea more than a cursory amount of attention. I think embarking on a study of this idea will be a spiritual journey for me and I’m not in a place where I’m ready to undertake that. However, I feel pretty certain that at some point in my life I will be and it will be fascinating.

10. Sometimes I miss Albany and think it was a mistake to leave.

11. I have an uncanny ability to track down the best chai latte in any zip code.

Kelly’s Questions

1. Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert (an equal mix)? Why?

-This is actually complicated for me. I used to be an extrovert, but over the past several years that has changed. However, I recently learned that I have a thyroid problem which may have contributed to some of that because it can cause depression and anxiety. So as of today I’m more strongly oriented to introversion, but I think perhaps that will change once my body starts acting the way it’s supposed to.

2. What was your dream career as a child?

-Well, when I was in third grade I started reading Lurlene McDaniel books and decided I was going to cure childhood cancers. Then I hit puberty and got shallow and squeamish and settled on being an actor.

 

3. What was the last book you read that made you cry?

-The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster. My tears, though, were tears of mirth. I spent a couple of evenings cackling to myself over this book certain my wife was going to wake up and think I was insane. Literally, I was in hysterics. So. Good.

 

4. If you could have unlimited free ice cream or unlimited free cake, which would you choose and what flavor?

-Ice cream! Ben & Jerry’s Imagine Whirled Peace. This stuff is like crack.

 

5. Where’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled?

-Vegas for my honeymoon. I’m plotting a trip to Europe in that ever distant “someday” though.

 

6. If you could have lunch (or drinks) with an author of your choosing, who would you pick?

-I would LOVE to have drinks with Lev Grossman so I could ask him why he wrote a book that took all of the joy out of magic.

7. What’s your favorite movie based off of a book? Least favorite?

-Favorite is definitely Perks of Being a Wallflower- I think it was exceptionally well done. Least favorite includes the first several Harry Potter movies. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them, but I also thought they left out some really great stuff. I mean seriously, we’re a nerdy fandom- we’ll gladly sit though a longer movie if you’ll just include ALL THE THINGS! I was horribly disappointed not to see the Potions logic game at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone.

8. Do you have a favorite word? If so, what is it?

-I like so many words! Facetious might be one of my very favorites, though. I’m also a big fan of Ethereal and Automaton. Ooh, and Whimsical!

 

9. If everyone around you suddenly burst into song and choreography, would you join in or run in the opposite direction?

-I wish that would happen every day of my life. I would so join in.

 

10. Where’s your favorite place to read?

-My favorite ever was at Emack and Bolio’s in Albany, sitting at one of their outside tables under the trees. Perfection. These days I settle for my balcony if the weather is nice.

 

11. Which fictional character would you marry if you could?

-I’m gonna give the cop-out answer on this one and say I’m already married. (Mostly because I can’t think of any answers that aren’t predictable and a tad cheesy. :p )

 

Nominations and questions to follow eventually!

All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being … that there is an active will toward health -Maslow

I generally try to avoid talking about my health in a public forum because it always feels self-serving and attention seeking, but I’m going to step away from judging myself momentarily because I feel like this is important. I’ve spent the last decade of my life getting weird results from thyroid tests. One would come back showing a problem and the next would come back fine. I’ve also spent the majority of the last decade without consistent medical care. I have a tendency toward gypsy-like roving and have unvaryingly been under-insured in my travels. Thus any notable patterns in these thyroid deviations went undocumented and untreated. Mostly, though, it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference, so I didn’t pursue it. Fast forward to the last couple of years, though, and I have felt utterly exhausted. I’ve pulled away from people to avoid social engagements. I’ve withdrawn. I’ve watched myself do it and known it was out of character, but felt incapable of making changes. I’ve gained weight and dealt with a whole host of other things and the only thing I thought was that I was being lazy and just needed to shake it off. It’s rotten to feel so completely useless. I reached the point where doing the things I loved just felt like way too much work. It was heartbreaking. Finally it got to the point where I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. So, when the Marketplace opened up, we made the investment in the good insurance and I made the choice to take advantage of it. I found a fantastic primary who has been so helpful and informative and who ran a full thyroid test rather than just giving one element a cursory glance. And when that test came back and said things weren’t right, I just about cried. But not from sadness, from relief. I know it’s completely backwards to hope to be diagnosed with something, but when I started doing my research on thyroid issues, every single issue I’d dealt with in the past several years was potentially linked to an underactive thyroid. Things I knew like exhaustion and weight gain, but also many things I didn’t like depression and anxiety. I mean, it’s bizarre to be happy to have a hormone deficiency, but I’ve spent so long calling myself lazy and unproductive, that it was like a giant burden was lifted when I found out that what I was scared was laziness and chronic depression was a renegade thyroid. Halle-freaking-lujah! The more I learn, the more things make sense and the more I wish I had pursued a concrete answer years ago. I’ve only been taking medication for five days, so the jury is still out in terms of results, but the very real change has been in attitude. Two weeks ago, I would feel defeated by exhaustion and feel like a loser. Now I know there’s a reason and that I am actively trying to fix it and that it doesn’t make me lazy to succumb to exhaustion. It just means something’s not working right and I have to give it time to regulate. I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past few years trying to manufacture hope and convince myself that things will eventually get better, but this week I’ve had isolated moments of real hope and optimism and those moments have made a real difference in how I face the world. I know it’s a process, but I feel like I’m getting back on track. And I know it’ll take time. Maslow theorized that health was on the second tier of his hierarchy of needs, which means that I can look forward to being able to put the rest of my life back together as soon as I get a handle on this part. And that’s not nearly as daunting of an idea as it used to be.

So that’s the story. And here’s the reason I’m telling it. I’m not in an incredibly small minority with this kind of problem. While many people can be borderline and not require treatment, many more just never know there’s a problem. Over 12% of us will deal with this at some point, though most will go undiagnosed. A lot of times we end up treating the symptoms as entirely separate from the root cause. I’ve been treating stomach issues for two years, never contemplating for a second that something other than my stomach could be causing them. Now I know that it’s possible that the GERD I’ve been treating stems from this thyroid issue. It’s bizarre and yet it makes sense. All of our systems are interconnected, so if we throw off one, chances are there’ll be ripples in others. I guess what I’m saying is to be proactive, especially when it comes to getting your thyroid tested. 1 out of 8 women will end up with a thyroid condition in their lifetime and my doctor advised me that most problems start from mid 20s through mid 30s. And this is kind of a big bad for that age range because thyroid issues can cause a host of fertility problems and 25-35yrs is pretty much prime time for baby making. And the thing is that if you get a borderline result, a lot of doctors follow up on it. But I highly recommend pursuing it further if there is any chance there could be a problem. Because when it gets bad, it gets really, really bad. I’m not even in the worst category and I’ve spent the last few years feeling crummier and crummier. Not. Worth. It. Get tested. Please.

 

Here’s a great link that gives a huge list of symptoms that could be associated with thyroid problems. I kid you not, I counted over 90 that affect me and a lot of them I never would have connected. I mean who thinks that a faulty thyroid is gonna leave you with dry skin? It’s worth a look. It helped a lot of things make sense to me.

http://hypothyroidmom.com/300-hypothyroidism-symptoms-yes-really/

So that’s that and I hope you’ll forgive my foray into personal medical issues. I’m not one to advertise this stuff, but I feel like it’s important that people are aware enough to advocate for themselves. I wish I had been.

Nobody but me is going to change my story…

I’m listening to the song “If I Die Young” by Perry. It has struck some kind of chord in me. Now let me put your mind at ease lest you think this is going to segue into something morbid. My intent is actually just the opposite. When I originally heard this song, I found it overly morose and depressing and it angered me that it romanticized the idea of dying early. Lately, though, I’ve been hearing it differently. It’s almost a directive to live the time you have and live it so fully that when your time comes you will be able to rest knowing you’ve had enough time. Time is a concept I struggle with. I get so overwhelmed with the idea of how little of it any of us really has that I forget to be grateful and enjoy the moment I am in. Time, especially the idea of time I’ve wasted, terrifies me like nothing else. And that fear can be paralyzing, leading to more time wasted. And thus the symptoms perpetuate the problem. Recognizing this particular fear was not difficult for me. The difficulty is in conquering it. But I thought I’d give it a try. Today’s attempt starts by making a list of things I’ve decided I’m too old for, things that I’ve wasted too much time to pursue, in short- things I have decided there’s just not enough time for. Hopefully the attempt ends with being able to refute some of these beliefs…  

Things I (falsely) Believe I Am Too Old For

1. I’m too old to be so indecisive about what I want to do.

          *Let’s be real with this one- the problem isn’t necessarily indecisiveness per se. Knowing what I want to do has never been the problem. The indecisiveness is more about making up my mind to stop being such a coward. The problem lies in not being willing to fail sensationally. But is it better to fail sensationally at something you love or succeed spectacularly at something you’re apathetic about? Between that question and the little voice in my head that says I won’t make it anyway, I tend to get kind of stuck. So as a reminder to get out of my own way, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Sv02Izi5UA

2. I’m too old to pursue a performing career.

          *Kristen Wiig was 32 when she was discovered and she’s kind of a big deal now. Tim Allen spent a couple years in prison before  getting his shit together and he was 35 when he finally started getting work. And the lady I kind of share a name with, Melissa McCarthy- she didn’t start getting any kind of roles until she was around 30. Heck, Phyllis Diller’s first TV credit wasn’t until age 44. Oh, and Lynn Cohen, who is basically my personal hero didn’t start acting until she was 50 and she was in the freaking Hunger Games! Apparently there’s some truth to the idea that it’s never too late to be what you might have been. For further inspiration –> http://www.marieforleo.com/2011/09/are-you-too-old/

3. I’m too old (and out of shape) to start taking dance classes again.

          *Ok, this one I can refute myself to some extent. First of all, I don’t have to train to be a professional dancer to take classes and do what I enjoy. Second, yes, I am out of shape, but what better way to remedy that than to spend time doing something I love. Third, while I may feel out of place taking classes, chances are pretty good that I am paying way more attention to my awkwardness than anyone else in the room. That doesn’t make it easier, but at least it’s something to try and remember. And fourth, I am never happier than when I am dancing. Some of the greatest moments in my life were spent in a sweaty dance studio. There’s a freedom in dance that I haven’t been able to recapture in anything else. And lest my own words are not enough to convince me, here is a lovely article about saying yes to dance at any age. http://voices.yahoo.com/getting-into-ballet-older-age-its-possible-and-311097.html

4. I’m too old to flit around like a gypsy rather than settling down.

          *This one actually rings of truth. But another way of looking at it is, the more places we try, the more we know what we will and won’t accept in our forever home. I don’t want to settle in one place just because society says it’s time and because it’s easy. I wouldn’t mind resting my bones and growing some roots somewhere, but I want to LOVE that place. I want to wake up happy to be exactly where I am. And that might just take a little more trial and error.

5. I’m too old to go back to school… again.

          *Some statistics show the average age of a grad student is mid to late thirties. It’s never too late to expand your knowledge base and develop your talents. There’s no expiration date on your ability to learn and, indeed, the desire to continue doing so could even be considered commendable. More practically, an advanced degree increases your marketability. US News agrees with me. 🙂 http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2012/04/13/4-graduate-school-myths-debunked

 

And in the same vein, a list of things I will regret if I don’t find a way to do them.

1. Getting healthy and happy

2. Traveling to Europe

3. Riding that scary HP ride at Universal

4. Dancing for me

5. Performing

 

Moral of the story: life doesn’t end just because you’re a grown up. I think it’s time for me to start redefining what an adult is for me personally. It’s easy to get caught up in outside ideas and expectations, but that hasn’t done me a lot of good thus far. In fact it landed me in Newark as a law school dropout. It’s also easy to get bogged down in insecurities and personal issues. And those are harder to resolve. But I’ve been feeling a little more optimistic lately and I think it’s about time to start trusting my dreams and letting my doubts be motivators rather than deterrents.

Rose tint my world, keep me safe from my trouble and pain

Let me preface this by saying that this is not a religious post. That’s not really my blogging schtick. It is, however, a bit of a ramble about the concepts of redemption and forgiveness.

Forgiveness- willingness to cease to feel resentment against

Redemption- an act of atonement for a fault or mistake

I get caught up in the words here a bit, but generally speaking, the wrongdoer can try and make redemption and the party that was wronged can offer forgiveness. I think the thing that interests me about these words is that they are parallel concepts, but also capable of being mutually exclusive. A person can be forgiven without having redeemed his/her self and a person can struggle for redemption and ultimately never receive forgiveness. That just seems unbalanced to me. However, such is the state of abstract human emotion and I suppose the most that we can do is to do our best to live in such a way that we have few occasions to seek forgiveness. Naturally, this is difficult for some of us. It certainly has been for me at various points. And that’s how I ended up writing this today.

Once upon a time I was very young and very dumb. I drank a lot and did a lot of silly things as some young and dumb people are apt to do.

I made a lot of mistakes. I let people go that I should have held onto and held onto the ones that were ultimately poisonous.

I’m sure I had my reasons. I’m equally sure that whatever those reasons were, they really really sucked.

I’ve spent a whole bunch of years beating myself up for my youthful transgressions. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be a better person than the one I used to be, because I really didn’t like the old me very much. And here’s what I learned today. I want to feel like somehow I’ve redeemed myself to anyone I’ve let down at various points in my existence. I’d like to be able to offer a giant cosmic apology for being a hot mess of a 20yr old kid. But the person that’s really been holding out on that whole forgiveness thing during this process? Yeah, that would be me.

It took being brave enough to look up an old friend to realize that no one has been punishing me but myself.

And maybe the reality is that that old friend has forgiven my youthful idiocy, maybe not. But that friend started a conversation with me today about where life had brought us. Now here’s the thing. As good as it felt to know someone I had let down would happily catch up with me, I also realized it didn’t entirely remove the burden I’ve been hauling around. And that’s because he didn’t give me the burden to bear in the first place.

As it turns out, I’m the person that is making me so miserable. I’m the one who can’t show compassion to someone who has truly been working to be better.

And I suppose that means that I’m the only one who can change things. Now there’s a daunting prospect.

But if that old adage about knowledge being power is true, then at least it’s a start.

And I’m lucky in lots of ways. I may not have grown up enough to know how to cook or put together IKEA bookshelves, but I’ve at least grown up enough to stop doing really stupid things for all the wrong reasons. And if that wasn’t enough, somehow I managed to befriend some of the best people I know, to find a Brotherhood full of ridiculously awesome individuals, and to grow closer to my family than I ever was before.

So I guess maybe I’m doing something right after all.

Yes indeed, that’s definitely a start.

 

“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.” Lou Reed

I came across a quote today in The Magicians by Lev Grossman, a quote that somehow explains how I think of myself.

“You actually still believe in magic. You do realize, right, that nobody else does?”

It’s kind of a sad quote, but somehow not. I think that, at some point, most people stop believing in the impossible. Ghosts and faeries and imaginary worlds fall to the wayside to be replaced by textbooks and bills and innumerable other inconveniences of modern life. Somehow, the more we know, the less we know. In the process of growing up, it seems like we lose our connection to the unbelievable.
 Or maybe we just have so much access to information, to other people’s facts and theories, that we don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the things we don’t know. But, childish though it may be, some part of me still knows, beyond all rationality, that magic exists in some form, even if I never see it. The reality of life is that there is nothing we can prove beyond a shadow of doubt, magical or mundane. We can’t even prove that our own existence is more than the imagination of some unknown consciousness. We can theorize and hypothesize, but we can never really know. And that is its own form of magic. What we are, why we are, it’s all subjective. I think it’s kind of a fantastic realization to know that the only thing we know is that we don’t know anything, which is a paradox all on its own.

I’m feeling the need for a good existentialist debate.