The Metamorphosis

Hi friends.
Isn’t it crazy how different your life can be from one point to another? I look back on my life at this point last year, and I hurt for what that girl was about to go through.

Life already wasn’t perfect for me at that point; I had graduated college for one thing. And that’s a wonderful, amazing thing to accomplish, obviously, but it just left me… floundering a little bit. I’ve talked before about how school really provided a lot of the framework for my life and time, and when I graduated I was suddenly faced with a world of utter uncertainty. On the other hand, I was happy because I re-fell in love with my novel and started working on it constantly. Then, shortly after graduating, I began getting sick every time I ate. This time last year, I literally could not eat without feeling like I had to vomit shortly later. I lost a great deal of weight in a period of two or three months and essentially lost my appetite, and it took a very long time to finally figure out the problem and treat it properly.

In September, my best friend died. My cat Boo was my most faithful, loving companion for 16 years and losing him simply devastated me. I couldn’t sleep at night; instead, I would lay on my couch and just cry, always trying to muffle my sobbing so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. The littlest things would set me off and at times it felt like I truthfully was never going to be able to function normally.
Finn became so affectionate and sweet after we lost Boo, like he knew how much I needed him– but he just wasn’t Boo. Getting Gus in November both helped and hurt, as well. He is a hilarious, energetic, mischievous cat that keeps us on our toes, so it was a good distraction. But on the other hand, it felt so painfully wrong. Boo had only been gone two months; how could we get a new cat? Gus got worms only a few days after we got him and I had to take him to the vet. They put me in the same room where they’d told me Boo had a tumor– I cried in the room until the vet got there, and then cried the entire way home.

I wanted to take Gus right back to the Humane Society. I suddenly felt the most overwhelming panic– what was I thinking getting a new cat, one that was only going to get sick and die and shatter my heart, just like Boo had? I already was feeling this agonized resentment mingled with love towards Finn, and then I just added one more cat to feel that about.

None of this was their fault, of course, and they’re both wonderful, amazing cats that I love deeply (Finn is laying on my arm and half on my laptop as I type this, purring happily and blocking half my view of my keyboard). But I was going through some serious grief and trying to cope with it. I was finally beginning to make some sort of sense out of life again at the end of November; holidays always help cheer me up and I love Thanksgiving.

Then, two days after, my youngest dog Cash died in my lap. I know I talked about it before, but the memory is just so strong in me of how it felt as I kept bending over and clutching my stomach and saying over and over, “I can’t stand this, I just can’t stand it.” There was literally so much pain and hurt and devastation inside me that it just didn’t seem humanly possible that my body could contain it all. How could this happen?  An already uneven world suddenly tipped completely upside down, jumbling and jarring and setting into chaos everything within it.

By this point, I’d already been applying for jobs and getting rejected–repeatedly. Over the next few months, my nana had a stroke, we found out my uncle had cancer and his Hepatitis C (got in the 80s from a blood transfusion, before they screened for that) worsened considerably, and I hurt my quad muscles and ended up not able to play soccer for almost four months.

After Boo had died, I suspected I was depressed. When Cash followed him so soon after, I was pretty sure of it. But I thought it was something that would just get better.

It didn’t.

Every night seemed endless for me, because I couldn’t stop reliving all these bad things that had happened and crying about them. I slept poorly and never felt rested, so I was tired all the time. I lost my appetite again, and I just felt upset a lot. I have ALWAYS been a cheerful, happy person. I am passionate and enthusiastic about life, and there are so many things I tend to get excited about. But my novel that I’d been so feverishly working on seemed stupid and awful, and I abandoned it. I just started watching movies on my laptop at night, just to try and distract myself from the bad memories. I started re-reading all my favorite old books to give myself something to do when I couldn’t sleep.

Another thing I started to notice was how anxious I felt all the time. As morbid as it sounds, I started just being swamped by this overwhelming worry that my loved ones were going to die unexpectedly. I thought about it almost constantly, and I couldn’t make myself stop, no matter how hard I tried. I’m not the type of person who can hold a grudge or stay truly mad at someone for a long time; I just don’t have the personality to sustain it. I’m a happy person.

But that was no longer true. I wasn’t happy; in fact, I just felt terrified and upset and off-balance all the time. I also started getting sick chronically again. The day I left the vet after hearing Boo had a tumor, I bawled the entire way home. I was by myself and when I got back I got horribly sick and eventually passed out for a minute. The night before Boo died, I threw a screaming hysterical fit for hours and made myself sick again. After Cash died, I was so angry, and I just wanted to lash out at everyone and everything. I was aware of this, even as I couldn’t stop myself from feeling like it. I would feel so furious, and then suddenly I’d be in the shower and I’d just start crying.

One night I came home from soccer (before I got hurt), and my mom was afraid that Gus had eaten something poisonous. I started feeling sick and so I got in the shower, because that used to help when I was having all my stomach issues. I ended up getting dizzy and sick and my mom and sister had to help me out of the shower. I started bawling, and I kept asking what was wrong with me. I laid on the couch in my towel and cried and cried; I just couldn’t seem to stop. At some point we read in the paper that someone had seen a mountain lion only a few miles from my house. For a whole month, every time I heard my dogs bark outside at night I eventually went out there with an air rifle and a flashlight, convinced they’d been mauled to death. When my nana had her stroke, I got horribly sick again, even though she ended up being fine. My cat Finn also developed a horrible cough, where he would sound like he was choking and hacking but never cough anything up. He gulped and swallowed constantly, and at night he would often wake me up with a coughing fit and send me into a panic attack. I took him to the vet and they guessed it was bronchitis, so they gave him an antibiotic to take. It seemed to help only moderately, and then he went back to doing it and I kept panicking.

One day, I went outside and found a huge lump on my dog Riley’s hip. Quite simply, I melted down. I was home alone again, and I got sick and started crying and became convinced it was cancer and he was going to die just like Cash and Boo. By the time my sister got home, I was desperate and felt out of control. We called and scheduled an appointment for the next day at the vet.

When we got there, it didn’t take long for the vet to tell us he didn’t think it was cancer. Apparently it’s very common in older dogs to have lumps, and as this one was right over his hip the vet figured that he’d simply lost a lot of the muscle on his hip joint and scar tissue had built up to protect it.

Riley was okay, but I wasn’t. Increasingly I felt this almost constant sense of overwhelming doom, like at any moment something horrible was going to happen. I was sick and anxious and upset almost all the time, and was home constantly by myself. I kept getting rejected by jobs and my family was all at work, so it felt like all I did was sit around and think about awful, horrible things.

I kept making excuses for why I couldn’t see my friends or go anywhere, because I was afraid something might set me off and I’d have a panic attack. I never wanted to leave the house; I just wanted to lay in bed. I was essentially just a shambles.

The next time some little, silly thing set me off, and I found myself crying and upset, I talked to my sister. As you’ll know if you read my blog, my sister is my best friend and there is nobody more important to me in the world. I share everything with her. And though I’d talked some about what I was feeling–it was impossible to miss– I’d never really come right out and said that there was something wrong, because she was having stress of her own as she’d taken a long-term sub. She was busy and tired most of the time, and I just didn’t want to bother her–I also didn’t want to admit something was wrong with me.

When I finally spoke up, my sister– who has a degree in Psychology– told me she had suspected I was depressed for a long time. We both agreed that something needed to be done; it was starting to affect my daily life and I was getting to a point where I felt like I couldn’t even function right anymore. I was having panic attacks weekly, sometimes two or three or four or even five times a week.

One night I sat down and just opened up to my parents. I told them how I felt scared and anxious all the time, and how I thought something was wrong and I needed to get some help. They were wonderful, just like my sister–loving and supporting. I had a doctor’s appointment only a couple of days later. My doctor told me it sounded like there was absolutely something wrong, and she recommended me to a counselor so she could diagnose me and then my doctor would be able to treat me appropriately.

I felt very apprehensive about going to a counselor. There truly is an enormous stigma around mental health issues in our society; even though if someone told me they were going to counseling for depression or something like that, I would NEVER think ill of them, somehow it seemed like people would think I was lying or over-exaggerating or just crazy.

My counselor was incredibly nice. I saw her three times, and over that course she gave me tests to take so she could diagnose my problem. Turns out I had GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it had gotten so bad that it was causing me to have Panic Disorder as well. I also was suffering from a moderate to severe case of depression.

It was so terrifying to hear this put into words. It felt like I was doing something wrong, or I was being a baby, or just overreacting to everything. On one hand, I didn’t want to hear it and I didn’t want to talk to a counselor or a doctor.

On the other hand, this was a nearly unfathomable relief. To actually hear a qualified professional tell me that, yes, there is something going on here and you aren’t just making it up was liberating. She explained to me that essentially what had happened is my brain’s coping mechanism had just gotten overwhelmed and basically shorted out. I could no longer react and cope with things appropriately, so the littlest things were setting me off and I was overreacting enormously and having panic attacks. She referred me back to my doctor with this diagnosis.

My doctor explained things to me. Depression, and the other things I was feeling, were being caused by a lack of serotonin in my brain. It’s the chemical your brain creates that makes you feel happy essentially. What was happening is that my brain was creating the normal amount of serotonin, but then reabsorbing it way too fast so it wasn’t staying in my brain. She discussed with me how medication could help get me back to normal.

I didn’t like it. I resented the need for medicine. But she explained to me how it was the same thing as taking an antibiotic for an infection. I think that’s what is so hard for us to realize; that taking care of your brain is just as important as taking care of your body, and both can get sick and need to be treated. I still didn’t like it, but I knew I needed to do something.

My doctor gave me something called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor–or an SSRI. More specifically, she gave me Zoloft, which I take daily. This would stop my brain from eating up the serotonin too fast. She also gave me something called “Boost Bars,” which were little pills to take in case of a panic attack that would work almost immediately.

In the beginning, I had to take them fairly often. We thought a tornado might be heading for Mustang, and so I took a couple. Quite a few times Finn woke me up from a sound sleep coughing horribly, and I had to take them. Various other things would start to set me off, and I had to take them.

But since I first went to the doctor a few months ago, I have only had a panic attack two or three times. I feel unspeakably better–I’ve felt like myself again.

My life, which for so long seemed to be on a downward spiral, slowly began improving. Little things started happening.

I began bringing Finn in the bathroom with me while I showered, because I read somewhere that the steam could help with something called kennel cough, which we think is the most likely culprit. It’s incredibly common in animals that come from a shelter or a rescue, which is where we got Finn, and there’s just not really a cure. It periodically acts up. But since I’ve been having Finn in the bathroom with me, his cough has gotten a hundred times better.

My nana has been doing very well, and after the last stroke they finally prescribed her some regular medicine to take that will help her from getting another.

I met my idol (and future husband) Steven Adams randomly at the mall, and he really was incredibly nice and took a picture with me:

Don't mind the height difference

Don’t mind the height difference

Incredibly, I finished, edited, and self-published my book, and the support and encouragement I have received has been overwhelming (that’s my next post). I published it exactly one month before my 23rd birthday and fulfilled one of my deepest dreams.

And then, like a miracle, not ten minutes after I met Steven Adams, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview to the bridal shop I had applied to on a whim and without hope for getting it.

The interview went really well, and they seemed incredibly nice. A week later I had a second interview. Then I took a wonderful, amazing vacation with my family to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon(!!!). A few days after I got back, I got an email inviting me to become an employee of Meg Guess Couture Bridal.

Today marked one week since I started at the shop, and it’s already been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. One of my biggest fears was that the people who work at a bridal shop would be snooty or hateful, but they are exactly the opposite. Meg is one of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve ever met and I love all of my coworkers already. Every day has been different, and an adventure, and I love it. I’m excited to get up and go to work in the mornings.

Even more amazing, the evening after my very first day, my very first best friend Brenna got engaged, and a couple days later asked me to be her maid of honor.

It’s like after months of seeming famine, suddenly there is feast. Life is bright and exciting and filled with possibilities again. I feel happy and passionate and enthusiastic about the things I am doing, and surrounded by my wonderful loved ones. I laugh and smile and enjoy life again.

I guess the reason I waited so long to talk about my anxiety was because I didn’t know how to talk about it. I felt embarrassed and confused and overwhelmed by it. But after steady medication and a couple months of life being good instead of bad, I finally feel like my old self, and it’s so important to me that I share my experience. I want to make sure anyone who has gone through the same things doesn’t feel stupid, or crazy, or melodramatic like I did, and I want them to know that it IS possible to get better, no matter how bleak or hopeless life seems. I was never suicidal, but I have an all new understanding for people who feel that way. Some days it just seemed like I didn’t want to be here. To people who feel like that, and that the only answer is to end things, I beg you– try counseling. Try medication. Try just talking to your friends or your family or even a random stranger. That’s the hardest part to overcome, I think, the trying. Because after awhile it seems like what’s the point?

But there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Looking back on where I was this time last year, I still hurt, so painfully, for what that girl would have to go through. But the only constant characteristic of life is that it changes. I have grown into a whole new person. I named this post The Metamorphosis because of one of my favorite short stories of the same name by Franz Kafka.

The basic plot is that a man suddenly wakes up one morning and realizes he has been turned into a bug. There is no explanation for this change, and he slowly loses his humanity as he struggles to continue living life exactly as it was before the change. Eventually he becomes so lost to humanity that his family becomes terrified of him, and ultimately causes his death, which he accepts willingly.

The sudden dark turn that my life took was as bewildering to me as if I had suddenly woken up and turned into a bug. I felt the same sense of unfamiliarity with my own self, as if without my permission it had changed into something I did not recognize or understand and had no control over. Life felt absurd and pointless, and it seemed as if I was trapped in a dark room alone simply waiting for what life might throw at me, much like the main character in Kafka’s story was. I struggled miserably and in vain for months to try and regain the patterns of my old life, to keep going on as I had been.

But that was the thing– I was not as I had been. I had been irrevocably changed, without warning or permission, and the person I was had essentially died. I had to accept that I was not the same person.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. Maybe at this point next year I’ll look back on myself at this point and feel the same agony for what I will face. Or maybe I’ll look back at this point and think what an amazing, wonderful adventure I have to look forward to. I have no idea, of course, but I do know that life is series of peaks and valleys. I could be facing the Mariana Trench, or I could be about to climb Mount Everest. I’m sure you’ll hear about my view when I know.

Either way, I’m looking forward to my next metamorphosis.

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My Year in Facebook Statuses

2013

JANUARY

4thFirst day of spring semester, booo- Oh, wait. That’s right. I DON’T HAVE CLASS ON FRIDAYS, YEEEEEEEEAH SENIOR YEAR. On the other hand, this is my last semester of college, omg.

7th– I’ve coined the perfect name for people who hate naps: haterZzzzz.

8th– Overheard at work today from a five year old: “I love her and she’s going to be my only girlfriend forever. We’re going to buy a house, it needs to have at least four bedrooms. It’s gonna be really nice.” Glad to see an upstanding youth getting his life sorted early.

10th–  I realized a sad truth today- sweater tights were not made for thunder thighs.

18th– I’ve ventured into the strange and terrifying world of simply blogging, without the bargainy outfity thingy. Two posts await your perusal, if you are so inclined.

21st– I love mornings with my kitties. Cuddled with my Boo baby and then shared a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats with Finn because he’s a freak. Just makes the rest of my day brighter when it starts with my boys. #CrazyCatLadyPerks

29th– “The logic of the rebel is to want to serve justice so as not to add to the injustice of the human condition, to insist on plain language so as not to increase the universal falsehood, and to wager, in spite of human misery, for happiness.”- Albert Camus, The Rebel. Ohhh, Camus, you so often make my brain melt but every once and awhile you throw out something I can really get behind.

31st– Got dressed this morning at 8:30. Just now realized that my belt wasn’t even in a couple of the loops on my pants. Why am I writing a fashion blog again?

FEBRUARY

6th– Just drove past a scruffy old guy wearing a Statue of Liberty outfit with a flag stuck in the crown and playing some kind of guitar/ukelele, standing on the side of the road, who proceeded to point at me as if to say, “What up, bro!” In four years, this is officially one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in Chickasha.

10th– As befits a consummate Facebook creeper such as myself, I have just spent thirty minutes creeping my own Facebook. I have come to the conclusion that, 1. I was not a worthwhile human being until at least senior year of high school, 2. I had a bewildering amount of angst between 2006-2008, and 3. I should be much more forgiving of young girls who post things they shouldn’t on Facebook because, good lord, Young Me, learn to hush.

24th– Got toothpaste in my eye this morning. Toothpaste. In my eye. What am I doing wrong, world?

27th– From the mouth of a five year old: “I’m drinking dungeon juice! It tastes like metal…. and prisoners. It’s delicious!” Wha….????

MARCH

11th– Reasons I Love My School No. 28: There are people fencing on the Oval. — at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

13th– Maybe it’s bragging to post it on Facebook, but I found out today that I’m receiving the Distinguished Graduate Award for the Division of Arts and Humanities (ooh, fancy!) and I’m just so honored. Or, less formally, I’M SO EXCITED AND I JUST CAN’T HIDE IT!!!!

28th– If you’ve ever happened to wonder what I do in my free time, let me give you an idea. Today I watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on my phone while hot gluing a headband with a bow on it. Being perpetually single is a committed effort, guys.

APRIL

2nd– To sleep or not to sleep–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous schoolwork, or to take arms against a sea of classes and by ignoring end them. To nap, to sleep–No morning class–and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to early in the morning. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

3rd– Tiffany Cordova: “Butter knives are a gateway knife.”

9th– So I was honored today with three different awards (Distinguished Graduate in Arts and Humanities, Stuart Meltzer English Scholarship, and Graduate with Honors), and I felt pretty proud of my life. I then proceeded to nearly break my toe by walking into a cart at Atwood’s. Fame totally hasn’t changed me, guys, don’t worry.

12th– Crazy Cat Lady Tip No. 27: Get cats that are fat, because when you grab them and cradle them on their backs in your arms to forcibly cuddle them, their own weight makes it nearly impossible for them to get up and escape. Gravity: a helpful friend of the CCL.

14th– I got on Facebook today while taking a break from writing my approximately 25 page paper over Albert Camus and absurdist theory, and there were THREE notifications in my little side area thing of people getting engaged. I think Facebook is doing this on purpose because it’s silently judging my perpetually “Single” relationship status. FORGET YOU, FACEBOOK, MY 4.0 GPA IS MY BOYFRIEND. I’m going back to my books and my cats now.

15th– My last ever week of school has commenced.

17th– You know it’s finals week when you see more than one person taking stumbling steps through the Oval, until they finally come to a stop to stare at papers in their hands with a look of despair before trudging, defeated, towards class.

18th– Three and a half years I’ve worked at Epworth Day School, and they’ve been some of the most frustrating, enlightening, happiest, and worthwhile times of my life. I’m absolutely heartbroken to say goodbye, but I will never forget this incredibly important and rewarding chapter in my life.

19th– It’s 6:18 in the morning. I have not slept. I have 33 full pages written for my senior seminar paper over Albert Camus and his theory of absurdism. I do not know if those pages are of good quality; I do not know if my argument is sound, or even coherent. What I do know is that I have dedicated four months of my life to this, and I have nothing left to give. As of now, Camus and this paper and I are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together.

19th– I cannot say thank you enough to all the wonderful people who came to support me tonight at my graduation, I have the best family and friends in the world!!

20th– Well, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, it’s been real. I am officially graduated and moved out, so I guess it’s time to say goodbye. Thanks for everything.

27th– Me: “What kind of tea is sometimes hard to swallow?” Rachel: “Sharp cheddar!” Me: “Sharp cheddar…that’s what kind of tea is hard to swallow…” Rae: “Ohhh, I thought you said what kind of CHEESE!”

27th– BREAKING NEWS: I possibly broke my nose playing indoor. It sure looks wonky enough to be broken. Updates to follow. (Do you see what I did there? I made a pun. Breaking news…because I think I broke my nose. I’d like to see you make a pun right after your nose got potentially broken. Dedication to my English degree, right there.)

28th– NON-BREAKING NEWS: Sadly, it looks like I have the much less exciting nasal contusion as opposed to a broken nose. Can’t be 100% sure without a CT scan, but the doctor felt there was no point in doing that since they can’t really do anything for it anyway. Alas, all my English puns were for nothing.

MAY

1st– Trying to write a resume. Soul slowly dying.

4th– I almost killed Richard O’Rourke and myself tonight by driving the wrong way down a street. I figure that’s a pretty good sendoff for him before he goes back to Ireland.

21st– I love my state. Oklahoma Strong.

25th– Walked into the living room this morning and my dad was watching the video for Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” and just singing the words “heart attack” over and over. I have the best dad ever, all other dads can go home.

29th– I can’t believe it, but it has been one year since I started my bargain fashion blog. That means it’s been one whole year of me blowing up your Facebook with my clothes and my words. And, boy, am I looking forward to another year of doing so. I’m SURE you are, too.

31st– I have honestly never been so scared in my life as I was this evening, but by a miracle all family and pets are safe and our house is fine. We have lots of downed trees and debris and we’re worried about flooding, along with the power being out in all of town. But as of right now, just feeling so incredibly grateful.

JUNE

4th– Day 4 of the past 5 without power… Getting real tired of trying to put makeup on in the dark.

5th– Attempting to curl my hair again after almost a week of no power and constant buns. It appears to have forgotten its old life where I sometimes styled it, and is now refusing to take up those shackles again. It simply won’t acknowledge that I am curling it, no matter how much hairspray I use to persuade it.

8th– Total number of views on my blog for today- 323. My dad’s suggestion: “Why don’t you send your blog into a publishing company, make some money off that thing.” Thank you so much to everyone who read and shared my blog, you guys make it worthwhile!!!

11th– I know summer has officially started when I’ve looked at my legs while wearing sunglasses and got excited because I had a tan already, but then remembered I don’t.

13th– You know it’s hot when your dad answers the phone with “Golly gee willikers, Batgirl, my goose is cooked.”

17th– Sitting at home in my sweaty workout clothes wondering why I ever was excited about doing Zumba.

25th– Nerdy thought of the day: The best thing about reading so many books that I honestly can’t remember them all anymore is that after a year or two I can unearth them, and then I get to experience the joy of reading them again like they’re new.

29th– Three indoor soccer games in three days… My body is laughing scornfully at my foolishness.

JULY

1st– I hate you, job searching. You only serve to remind me that I’m apparently qualified to do nothing but soul-crushing, menial labor.

8th– So I just found out that my four time great-grandfather was named Augustus Leonidas. My family officially wins the coolest name ever award.

11th– Rachel Rowe: “You know what you get from bad boys? Herpes.” Ah, the words of wisdom I am gifted with from my big sister at nearly three in the morning.

22nd– *Sarcastic comment about not caring about the royal baby yet obviously caring enough to mention it* = people on my social media feeds today. #icare #noshame #royallove

24th– There is a man with a tiny grill grilling in the parking lot of our hotel whilst wearing a shirt that says “hustler” on it. Oh, Galveston, I missed you.

26th– I’m pretty sure that Boston Market is a gift of ambrosia from the gods, and the fact that there are none in Oklahoma is punishment for every bad thing I’ve done in all my past lives.

29th– I had a dream that a nice, cute boy asked me out on a date in an adorable way, and when I woke up I was so excited that I had half-written a text to tell people that I got asked out on a date until I realized I was still half-asleep and my life is very, very sad.

AUGUST

7th– It’s 2:20 in the morning, and I am lounging on my couch in utter, perfect bliss because I DVRed Whose Line Is It Anyway? earlier today, and now I can fast forward through the commercials. This is what true happiness feels like, guys.

7th– That’s right, folks, it’s time again for that moment every night when Sara thinks her hair is a spider and tries to smash it.

8th– Job-hunting inevitably leads me to the same conclusion over and over again– life would be so much easier if I were a cat.

15th– I made a most bewildering discovery just now– Chick-fil-a has complimentary mouth wash in their bathroom.

17th– If you are getting married and need help planning your wedding, please take a look at my wedding board on Pinterest and consider hiring me for the job. Because–and I’m getting pretty sure of this– I think this is my calling.

22nd– It’s not even 9am on my birthday and I’ve actually been voluntarily awake for almost an hour. This is what becoming an adult is like, isn’t it.

22nd– It’s officially the best birthday ever, I got a Blake Griffin OU jersey for ten bucks, and a lady in Academy straight up just had a monkey.

22nd– I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22!….Aaaand like Taylor Swift really needs to start singing some age appropriate songs. Like, seriously girl, get it together.

30th– Just watched Up for the first time ever… I don’t know whether my heart is broken or just so full it hurts.

31st– That awkward moment when you’re watching college football and you realize that from here on out, you’re going to be older than pretty much every player.

SEPTEMBER

1st– For the first time in 18 years, August is over and I’m not going back to school. Brb, having an existential crisis.

5th– It is physically painful for me to watch Amanda Bynes play soccer with her hair down in She’s The Man. Truthfully, it’s painful to watch most of the soccer scenes in that movie, and yet for some reason I still enjoy it.

8th– 16 years ago, we took a scared little kitten home who was only supposed to stay a week until we could find another owner. I had no idea then that the scared little kitten would become the love of my life. Today, one of the best and most beautiful parts of my soul passed away, and the depth of my grief is simply impossible to put in words. So all I can say is that I will love you forever my precious Boo baby, and there will never be another cat as perfect as you.

12th– Had a blast at my first practice as assistant coach to Brenna Skillern and our girls’ soccer team, can’t wait for our first game Saturday! Let’s go, Chargers!

20th– That awkward moment when you’ve been waking up all night because you can’t stop coughing or sneezing and you finally manage to get comfortable and are almost asleep when suddenly the box of Kleenex on the bedside table flares up in the breeze from the fan and you’re convinced for a couple of soul-chilling seconds that a small, white ghost is flying towards your face in the dark…

20th– Today is the happiest I’ve been in a long time, because today is THE day… the day I get to wear leggings again. Hello again, hello my friends, helloooo.

23rd– Help, I can’t stop eating croissants. Like, I seriously just ate all the croissants in my house. If I were a dinosaur, I’d be a croissantasaurus.

27th– I did it, guys… I applied for a big kid job. Weird.

OCTOBER

2nd– I just got a suggestion from my LivingSocial deals to get a Pumpkin Cheesecake Enzyme Facial. Don’t enzymes break things down though?? I feel like that sounds like the pumpkin cheesecake is going to eat my face, has the inevitable finally happened and the predator has become the prey? Is our food finally going to start eating us???

3rd– I had a dream last night that I was jumping on a bouncy castle with Amy Poehler, and I really did not want to wake up :(

6th– Did you know that if you really love cats then it is a huge mistake to search “cat clothing” on Etsy?

7th– If the songs of Lifehouse were embodied in a human, I’m pretty sure he’d be the most sensitive, best boyfriend ever.

16th– I don’t care what anyone else thinks, that fox song makes me laugh out loud with genuine joy every time I hear it.

17th– My waiter at lunch today was cute and I’m actually pretty sure he was flirting with me and by halfway through the meal I COULDN’T EVEN MAKE EYE CONTACT anymore because I was so flustered. This is why I will die alone, people.

22nd– If I was to die by choking on a crescent roll, I would be perfectly fine with that, as long as I got to finish it and it was the last bite I choked on.

29th– I just wanna know Ed Sheeran better.

31st– What do you get when you drop a pumpkin?…… Squash. Hahahahahahaha I can’t stop laughing about this, WHY IS IT SO FUNNY TO ME?!? Happy Halloween, guys…. hahaha

NOVEMBER 

1st– The only thing better about getting up in the morning as opposed to going to sleep at night is that in the morning I don’t have to floss.

3rd– I don’t care that you’re almost double my age and already have a wife, marry me Derek Fisher.

6th– Nothing quite brightens your day like finding one of your cat’s hairs caught in your girl moustache, especially after you realize you’ve already been out in public for two hours. Real self-esteem booster.

9th– Heard a knock at the door and assumed it was Kasey Phipps coming to pick me up, so I answered the door without looking and treated my mail lady to a view of me shirtless. You’re welcome, ma’am.

11th– I am just so thrilled with The Voice this season, every single person I wanted to go on to the Top 12 did. So no matter what, someone I like is going to win– BEST. SEASON. EVER.

12th– There’s two old men behind me at lunch engaged in an intense, heavily detailed discussion of Malteses and it’s pretty much the most hilarious thing ever. Like, one guy just started making whining noises to show the other guy what his dog sounds like.

13th– I moustache you if you have met the newest member of our family, Gustav Mustachio?

15th– Watching Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and my dad just looks up and goes, “Is that Bruce Jenner? Are we watching Kardashians? What is going on?” Oh, Daddy. What’s going on is the pathetic fact that the most exciting part of my day is watching Friday Bride Day on TLC with my father who hates reality TV shows.

17th– Flossing is such a bittersweet endeavor, because on the one hand you’re like, “Eww I can’t believe this stuff was in my teeth!” but on the other you’re like, “Oooh that stuff is now out of my teeth!”

27th– Me singing to Rae: “Damn you look sexy, let’s go to my yacht in the West Keys, ride my jet skis.” Rachel: “You know, sometimes you sing to me, and I don’t think you really mean it… I don’t think you really have a yacht in the West Keys at all.”

28th– I just applied for a job on Thanksgiving, I’m going to go ahead and assume that my day was more productive than yours…. But just barely though, because I also fell asleep against my own father earlier after eating more food than I have in about two months.

30th– This morning, unexpectedly, my baby dog Cash died in my lap. We raised him from birth, and when my family wanted to sell him (because four dogs are a lot), I just couldn’t stand it, so we kept my sweet boy. We don’t really have many pictures of him, because he was such an active, happy boy, always moving and running around, chasing the ball with his mom Sadie. He was the youngest of our dogs, barely seven, and losing him came out of nowhere. Life really just isn’t fair, and my heart is completely broken.

DECEMBER

4th– I reread my blog post about Cash earlier and cried and then I’ve been playing on Neopets for like an hour and now I’m about to make an omelette at 2:16 in the morning somebody please send help I don’t know what’s happened to my life it’s a bad joke

5th– You know you have Labs when you go outside to break through the inch of ice on their water, and they show up layered in snow with tennis balls and plastic pots they expect you to throw for them to chase.

6th– Me: “Rae, do you know what ChatRoulette is?” Rachel: “Um, red cat. Wait, that’s chat rouge!” …..Guess that answered my question.

18th– A couple weeks ago I was doing the dishes and my daddy walked over to me and handed me one of those round scrubby shower loofahs and asked if I could use it and I told him that I’d take it, and he said that no, he meant can’t I use it to do the dishes, and I said I guess, and when he realized I was confused he said, “Isn’t that what these are for?” And in retrospect, he’s both the cutest but really also a genius, because what’s stopping us from using a shower loofah to do the dishes, really?

19th– I had a dream that I taught Robert De Niro how to “make it rain” with playing cards. Soooo… yep. That was a thing that happened.

21st– It’s 3:30 in the morning, and with one hand I’m reading the current draft of my novel-in-progress with the Kindle app on my phone, and with the other hand I’m twirling around a cat toy for my two cats to chase… this is my life in a nutshell

22nd– After years and years of wanting to go, I’m so happy I FINALLY got to see The Nutcracker with ma mere, it was simply, absolutely amazing! Thank you Momma!! — with Cheryl Munyon Rowe at Oklahoma City Ballet.

24th– “A crummy commercial??? Son of a bitch.” <– Me when there’s a pause in 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

26th– I’m exhausted because I stayed up all night watching the marathon of Pushing Daisies, and the only regret I have is that it ever got cancelled in the first place. Seriously one of the best shows ever made, and I’m still outraged five years later on its behalf.

27th– Three engagement notifications from Facebook…. only further rubbing salt in the wound of Peeta Mellark not being real and the acceptance that I’ll die alone because I’ve set my standards impossibly, fictionally high.

29th– I woke up at 7:30 this morning because my two cats were sprawled on my legs and feet giving each other baths that turned into a fight and I just want to know is this what my future looks like???

31st– From the fortune cookie app on my phone: “If you eat a live toad in the morning, nothing worse can happen to you throughout the day.”
….. I’m so grateful to be armed with this vital life wisdom as I face a new year (even though I highly question the veracity of that statement).

31st– Sending off 2013 with a blog post about my year in review through Facebook statuses… and so, appropriately, I’m going to take this time to announce that I am finally making a Facebook author page for my blogs, which I hope you’ll go like, even as my soul withers silently at the presumptuousness. 

 

Thank you everyone who has read, commented, shared, liked, and just generally supported my blog throughout 2013. It has been a year of enormous changes, with incredible highs and plunging lows, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without this blog to express myself. But that’s the thing with life, you never know what you’ll get, and I’m just thankful for the one I have. I’m also thankful for every single one of you– you all are truly what makes doing this worthwhile. I’m wishing you a most wonderful end to 2013, and a fabulous 2014.
Cheers to you!

 

The Best Advice

Snippet Four

Be kind.
I think that is the best advice you can give yourself or any other person. Two words– it is as simple as that.
People will try to argue this, to tell you that the world doesn’t allow for kindness; that you cannot be kind without getting hurt. So it follows in these people’s minds that they cannot be kind because the world isn’t kind, and will not be kind to them if they are kind.
This is circular reasoning– it is an excuse. Perhaps in the course of being kind, yes, someone will destroy me. But if I can inspire even one other person to be kind, it is worth it. For all I know, they may be more successful than I, and inspire one hundred people, or a thousand, to be kind. Or possibly, just like me, they will change only one or two others.
However– when you plant seeds, if even one plant blooms we count it as a success. And within that one plant is the potential of countless seeds, dispersed over a lifetime, and each one containing within themselves the possibility of growth and new life.
Patience is the key here. Changing the world, this world that people claim is too unkind to allow kindness, is not the work of a day, or a year. It is a slow process. But we must have infinite patience, for what more worthy task exists than tending to our own existence?
So be kind– no excuses, and with a brave, open heart. And commit yourself to being patient with a world that is just waiting to bloom.

Credit: Michelle Marshall Photography

Snippet Three: Not In Vain

I have been trying to write a book since I was twelve years old. But somehow, in the ten years since, I have never been able to. And while I have been unsuccessful in this long endeavor of mine, I think I at least have finally managed to discern what the problem is.
I have started a vast amount of stories; lack of ideas has never been the impediment. Instead, I have struggled with an overabundance of ideas. I will start and work on one story, but suddenly I will be struck with a new, brilliant idea, and I cannot seem to stop myself from veering off on it. But before I get too far, another plot comes to me and it is imperative that I work on it, and so on and so forth. For ten years.
I have never been able to figure out this flaw in myself. I have pondered a million reasons why—perhaps I was just afraid of commitment? Or maybe I was just too lazy. Or it might even be that I am a poor, delusional imbecile who was only fooling myself to think that I was actually a writer.
I think this is the inevitable fear of every writer, at least in the beginning, and the only way to truly overcome it is to simply decide that you are going to believe in yourself and your talent. So what was the problem, once I chose to think that I do have some ability? Why did I write something that seemed dynamic and poignant as I put it down, but when I went back and reread it seemed clumsy and juvenile? Why did a plot that seemed to spring to life in my head and develop rapidly and with a rich array of details suddenly go stagnant, and lose all interest for me?
Here is what I have come to believe the problem is—I keep changing.
Now, of course this is not some revolutionary, brilliant idea. The whole point of life is growth and change (at least I think that is what it is supposed to be). I mean, change is always inevitable, even if in no other way than the aging of your body. But somehow, in the course of ten years, it never dawned upon me that as I changed, so too would the stories inside of myself. And let me tell you, the ten years between twelve and twenty-two were rather crowded with life changes.
In the past three months, I have experienced the loss of two beloved pets, one whom I had for sixteen years and was my best friend, and the other a precious, lively spirit whom I did not get nearly long enough with. On top of the loss of my grandfather and grandmother within the last seven years, I have been slowly, and then quite suddenly, being forced to come to terms with death. And I think I have finally reached a change that alters you irreparably. As tired and cliché as it sounds, death makes you achingly aware of the fragility of life. I look around now, and the world seems so delicate, so unsteady. My time has now been shown to me to be undeniably finite, with no assurance of fairness or joy or longevity. With no assurance that everyone I love or care about will not be taken suddenly.
Perhaps this all seems very obvious to you, because you yourself have already experienced the irreparable change. You can never unknow the reality of death once you know it. Of course, I have been aware vaguely of these tried-and-true truths since I was very small—but I did not really understand them until now. If you let it, death can loom on your horizon at all times, larger even in your view than the rising and the setting of the sun each day. That has been my paradigm for the past few months, certainly.
However—I do not want the deaths of my loved ones to be in vain. For some reason, it always seems to help when you say, yes, they have died, but it was not in vain! Of course, this often only works for heroes in stories and the like, when someone dies so that someone else can live. How do you make the death of a cat or a dog to be not in vain?
This question is why I am trying desperately to effect a paradigm shift. Instead of anxiously fixating on that looming specter on the horizon, sickened and afraid of my newly cemented knowledge, I want to turn my eyes to the infinitely precious life around me. I want to grasp every moment with open hands and take charge of it, instead of letting them flow around me, always flinching in fear of each one because I know now, fully, what might be waiting within. Yes, death will always be there, undeniable, but I would like to keep only him in the corner of my eye, instead of dominating the view.
This is how I hope to make the death of those I love not in vain. Their loss has taught me an ugly but inescapable fact, that is true. It has taught me the wildness and vagaries of grief, the searing burn of injustice, the nauseating weight of terror, the clawing grip of anxiety. It has taught me sorrow, those fathomless dark depths.
But. It has also taught me about myself. I have come to know myself better, and I have gained an understanding of a fundamental characteristic of myself that has eluded me for years. Ever since I have started writing, I have been plagued by the doubt of an essential thread of my very self. Now I can say, even if you never write a book, you are a writer. Yet this new appreciation of life has kindled in me the fervent desire to boldly go forth and achieve my dreams, instead of just hoping that somehow, someday in a vague, dreamy future they will make themselves come true.
Yes, my loved ones have forced me to confront the bald-faced, ugly reality of dying. But, more than that, more importantly than that—they have taught me about living. They have died, but in doing so, they have allowed me to live.
And so I say, they have not died in vain.

Some Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

It’s been awhile, friends. I hope you’ll forgive me, and  that you’ve stuck with me here on the blog. It seems lately that the writing well has gone dry after losing Boo. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy that I’m still deeply in pain over that, but if you do I honestly don’t care. Losing a best friend always hurts.
However. In the inestimably wise words of Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” As much as it hurts, as wrong as it feels, my life is going on. I have laughed, I have enjoyed myself, I have worried and fussed over other things besides losing my cat, and generally just kept on living, just like Robert Frost says. So in that vein, I have decided to share just a few of the more pertinent life lessons that I have gathered so far in my twenty-two years. I’ll try to be clever, and wise, and even funny again. And hopefully I’ll make you think, just a bit, as well. I also hope you’ll share some of the lessons you’ve learned so far in your life in the comments.

A Few Things I’ve Learned So Far

— Pets will break your heart. They will. But I have come to realize that I would never, ever, ever trade the love and joy and comfort of my cat, even to avoid how much it is hurting to lose him, and that’s true with all the pets I’ve lost and I can’t imagine not feeling the same when I lose other pets in the future.

— If you haven’t read ThLittle Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, you absolutely and unequivocally should. It is one of the most poignant, brilliant, and gorgeous things ever written disguised as a children’s book. It is also especially beautiful if you have just suffered a loss. I read it the other night without knowing this, and found myself bawling with the bittersweet comfort it gave me. Overall, this book is just going to drop some serious truth on you.

It includes charming and whimsical illustrations.

— The probable number of people who have sang along passionately to “Someone Like You” by Adele while staring at a picture of an old love and crying is mind-boggling to consider.

Adele songs– always relevant.

— If you want to wear leggings as pants… go right ahead. Seriously. Wear whatever the hell makes you feel beautiful and happy, and don’t ever let someone tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear. Fashion is subjective and a matter of personal opinion, not an excuse to put down other people. Be like this guy–comfortable in your own skin, and whatever you chose to put over it.

— In that same spirit, this is a great quote to live by, brought to you by the amazing Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” (This is not an excuse to be blind to all advice, help, and suggestions. It’s just a reminder that you can never please everybody, so at the end of the day you have to go with what you believe in.)

— It does not matter how much you love someone, or even if you believe they love you, too– if they don’t WANT to be with you, then it will never work. Falling in love is an act of gravity, a law of nature that you have no control over. Commitment is always, always a choice. Learn this lesson early, and save yourself a lot of heartache in the long run, even if it feels like your heart is breaking in the short term.

So. Many. Celebrities. So little time to creep them all. You just have to fill your stable, and then ignore the studs and fillies that go prancing by. (Until, of course, one of your stable gets married or has a significant other, then it’s time to head on down to the horse auction.) ((Why did I suddenly choose to go with a horse theme here???))

I honest to god hope I never, ever know Damian McGinty, because there are things I've done for this blog with Paint that can't be forgiven.

I honest to god hope I never, ever actually know Damian McGinty, because there are things I’ve done for this blog with Paint that can’t be forgiven.

— Travel. Anywhere you can, any way you can. It will change your mind and your life.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Paddington Station, London

Paddington Station, London

— The best birth control is working at a daycare.

— It is completely okay if you are girl in your twenties or thirties and you do not like wine; do not let Pinterest convince you otherwise. It is also completely okay if you do not like to drink.

Except the problem where I don’t like wine.

— One of the most disappointing but helpful lessons I learned at a college filled with foreign boys– JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS AN ACCENT DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THEM SOMEONE YOU WANT TO DATE.

— You’ll know the difference between a crush and love, but there is nothing and no one that will be able to tell you if you truly love someone. Seriously, there’s just no way to tell for sure unless you decide you’re sure. Unlike my entire childhood led me to believe, there is no blurb on the movie/novel of your life that tells you definitively who the two romantic leads are. Thanks a lot, childhood.
Right-in-the-childhood

— Be kind. See Ellen DeGeneres if clarification is necessary.

— Sports are just a game. No matter how much you love them, always remember this: Just. A. Game. They do not trump human decency.

GRAMMAR MATTERS.

— Don’t overthink things. Most of the time, things are much simpler than you want to believe.

This is one of my favorite things ever.

This is one of my favorite things ever.

Also this.

— Both tea and books possess magical, healing properties.

— You are not infallible, no one is infallible. Never, ever, ever believe that you are always 100% right, because you are not. Accept that you are going to be wrong sometimes, and learn how to admit it. It’s one of the most useful lessons, to own your mistakes.

— You can still get a sunburn when it is cloudy, USE SUNSCREEN.

— You have to love yourself before someone else can love you. Well, at least to have a healthy relationship, you need to love yourself first. I fully believe this; I have spent a lot of life struggling with insecurities and wondering what was wrong with me because no one ever liked me back. Now, finally, I have grown to love myself, my imperfections and my best qualities, and I am a million times more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been before. I think that translates to a maturity that would serve a relationship well, much more than if I’d been in one previously in my life.

— Cats will never miss an opportunity to put their butt in your face.

— You really should floss your teeth every night.

— You are fully responsible for your own choices. You are not responsible for the choices of others. In the end, you make decisions for yourself, even if it is only how you decide to react to something.

— Hair products can change your life.

— Romance novels are NOTHING to be ashamed of. Of course, as with all genres, there are fantastic books and there are horrible books, but the genre as a whole has progressed light-years since the stereotypical “bodice-rippers” of the past. Seriously, some of the most important things I’ve ever learned came from romance novels.

The answer is yes. Do yourself a favor, gentlemen.

— You will find friends in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times. You will also realize that some people will always be your friend, come what may, while others were only meant to be a brief chapter in your life.

— Eat dessert.

If Emma Stone says it, you should listen.

I call it my dessert tank, personally.

— It is perfectly fine to be in your twenties or thirties or any age, and to be a virgin or to not have a boyfriend or to never have been kissed. Just because romance is absent from your life does not automatically mean something is wrong with you or that your life is lacking or even that you’ll never find it.

I don't get what's wrong with this? My jokes are hilarious.

I don’t get what’s wrong with this? My jokes are hilarious.

— I believe you are responsible for your own happiness. I have known a lot of bitter, angry people in my life, and it has only reinforced this to me. Always try to make your own happiness.

— Unless you’re a sailor, take Dramamine before you go deep sea fishing. TRUST ME, DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKES MY FAMILY AND I DID ON THE UNSPEAKABLY DREADFUL SUMMER VACATION AFTER SIXTH GRADE IN SOUTH PADRE ISLAND (Incidentally, that’s also where I learned the lesson about getting a sunburn while it’s cloudy.)

— New lesson: Do not go to South Padre Island.

— You WILL make a fool of yourself in front of someone you like. Just accept it, and enjoy the hilarious story you’ll be able to tell your friends in the future. And, if you’re really lucky like me, you’ll humiliate yourself over and over and over again, and provide enough stories to one day write your own book about it. (In case you didn’t know, I am an optimist.)

Sublesson: Daily Odd Compliments are the best.

— You’re probably never going to use cursive or algebra outside of school, but learn them anyway, because learning is always important. Besides, I like to write in cursive, it’s much prettier than my print handwriting.

— Some things are wrong, even if the person in authority is telling you that they are right. (For example, it will always be gif with a “guh” sound, not a j sound. Jif is peanut butter.)

— Take naps if you can. And laugh freely.

–Do not, under any circumstances, get a drastic new haircut any closer than a month before a major life event.

Junior year of college. Worst haircut of my life.

Junior year of college. Worst haircut of my life.

— From what I can tell so far, the golden rule is still the best one to live by.

— Wear bicycle shorts under your dress or skirt. Just do it.

— Be honest whenever you can, and kind when you can’t.

— If you’re going to drink a lot, do it around people you trust, especially the first time. And for godsake, have someone hide your phone from you.

The problem.

The solution.

— Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned so far: Love may not be all you need, but it’s the most important thing. Love comes in all forms, and whether it’s for someone else or yourself or your pet or your favorite food, love is the rain and the sun and the minerals that nourishes the healthy growth of life. I believe in love above all things.

— And the final lesson I am sharing with you today– make your own rules and learn your own lessons. All the things that work for me will never be exactly the same as the things that work for you. You may never learn some of the things I’ve listed, or agree with any of them, and that is absolutely and perfectly fine. What I do wish could be universal, however, is tolerance when everyone inevitably comes to the realization that no one will ever agree with every single thing we think and believe.

Post originally inspired by 25 Things Every Woman Needs to Know