It's Been A While
And as I type that title above, the song "It's Been A While" by Staind pops up in my head. It's a song that I would listen to when I was about sixteen or so and filled with teenage angst. Well now I'm twenty-five years old and filled with...I'm honestly not quite sure. Last Thursday I was laid off and I am unemployed for the first time in uh about nine years (coincidentally that song was released nine years ago). As soon as I got my license, my parents made me get a job so I could pay for gas and help them out with my car insurance. Since then, I'm the kind of person that has jobs lined up before I leave the current one. But this situation was out of my control.
Like I said, I'm not really sure how I feel. Yesterday was the strangest day of them all. It was a Monday. Oh how we all dread Monday mornings and wish the weekend could be longer. Except yesterday, I didn't feel that way at all. I wish I was able to go to work. I had this great longing to spend most of my commute in congested traffic on 695. I wanted to taste that stale, bitter office coffee. But in all seriousness, I miss my coworkers already - especially my boss.
Now that I have much more free time, I'm probably going to try to write on this blog again in between job searches and such. Not really sure what I'll write about, but I'm sure I'll come up with something semi-entertaining.
A few days ago, a Facebook notification popped up on my iPhone and alerted me that my cousin tagged me in a photo. Knowing that she's been looking at old photos for our grandma's 90th birthday slideshow, thoughts of embarrassing photos documenting my pubescent years flooded my mind. Although I hesitated to view the photo, I did just in case I needed to swiftly untag myself. Instead of finding a picture of myself with wild un-waxed eyebrows, crooked glasses, and a clashing ensemble from Limited Too, I found a vintage photo of our grandfather in his military uniform. Then memories of precious moments that I spent with my grandfather for the first eleven years of my life filled my mind.
I learned that my grandfather died while sitting on the toilet - weird, but something I'll never forget. I was eleven years old, had been awake for about 2 minutes, and was blind as a bat since my glasses were still resting on my nightstand. Finding out about my grandfather's death was a simple process: my mom walked into the bathroom, told me that my Pop died, and walked out. I didn't cry. Instead, I was shocked and confused. This was my first personal experience with death. It felt surreal, like it hadn't even happened. Even with the viewing, wake, and funeral, my feelings didn't change. I remember seeing my dad sobbing over my Pop's casket at the wake, his hands gripping the sides as to brace himself so that he didn't fall into the overpriced box containing a powdery, cold body that was more reminiscent of a stranger than my Pop.
The Pop I knew was the person in the picture, but older. The Pop I knew had the same sparkle in his eyes that the photo captures perfectly. He was a legend in Throop, one of the many suburbs of Scranton, Pennsylvania - well maybe not entirely, but I like to think of him as one. He was a homebody who didn't know the name of the street up the road, but that didn't mean he was some mean, nasty old geezer who barked at kids from his front porch. Instead he was admired by the kids in my grandparents' neighborhood. They'd ask my grandma if he could come outside and play. He had a lighthearted personality and was one of the kindest and most generous men I've known. He'd do handstands in the corner of the kitchen with my older cousins. Unfortunately, he couldn't do that with me and my brother because we were born after his stroke. That doesn't matter though because I have so many other fun memories with him.
We'd sit on the porch and sing simple songs like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Old McDonald Had a Farm." He'd pull my brother and I up and down the street in those little red metal wagons. He would tease me by calling my pet parakeet "Minnie the Moocher" and then start singing the big band song by Cab Calloway - hi-di-hi-di-hi-di-ho and all. Feisty four-year-old me would scream back, "Minnie is not a moocher! She's a bird!" I laugh thinking how it infuriated me at the time because twenty years later it's such a fond, distinct memory in my mind. A few years ago before my grandma's health started declining , she revealed all of these details of their relationship that I hadn't known about - little treasures in their own way. One of my favorite tidbits was my Slovak grandmother telling her Slovak gal pal that she was seeing my Italian grandfather. "You mean your parents let you go with an Italian?!" her friend exclaimed in the sewing factory. "I can go with whoever I want," my grandmother sassed back. She told me of all the times they'd go dancing, including the time they saw Louis Prima. Now the "Minnie the Moocher" memories have much more meaning because I knew he and my grandma bonded over that type of music. I imagine them swinging and swaying to that iconic sound of saxophones, trombones, and trumpets.
It took me ten years to sob like my father did. During the same trip where my grandma told me those stories, I decided to go for a run. Towards the end of it, I decided to travel up the road to the cemetery and visit my Pop's grave. I stood in front of the slab of cement with my Pop's name and let go of everything that was held within me for the past ten years. All the shame I felt from not being truly upset poured out of me in tear-form. So I don't think it's necessarily that I was never upset, I just was in denial. When we all sat at the kitchen table eating Old Forge Style pizza without him, I would imagine he was in the living room sitting in his infamous chair. When we had holiday dinners together in the dining room, I made pretend that he wasn't at the head of the table because he had gone upstairs to go to the bathroom. Finally though in that cemetery, I admitted to myself that he was truly gone and that only his body remained here on earth in the ground.
My Pop lived an ordinary life, but to me he was an extraordinary man who I miss terribly.
It Goes Down in the DM
On Sunday my day, week, month, heck even year was made because of Instagram. No, I didn't all of the sudden get more followers than Selena Gomez (if that happened, I would be dead from a heart attack). Instead, I got a DM (direct message) while my boyfriend drove our dog and I to my parents' house. Usually Instagram DMs have negative, NSFW (not-safe-for-work) connotations, but this was far from one of those. Instead, it was a senior in high school reaching out to me about her eating disorder and asking for advice on dealing with an ED-NOS diagnosis. I was floored and wide-eyed staring out into the sunset as I rode along I-70, completely amazed by the fact that 1. someone is actually reading my blog and 2. that someone is not my family, friend, or acquaintance and 3. she is a courageous, beautiful young woman. Of course a set of happy tears followed. When I finally was able to say something besides "Oh my god," I told my boyfriend and you bet I told my parents too when we arrived to their home. I ran up to the house, busted through the door, and struggled to get the words out because I was so excited.
It's amazing because this is what I want to do for people. I want to share my eating disorder story so others know that I had the awful mental disease, but it is possible to recover from it even though it's so hard to do. Believe me, I'm not a social worker, a clinical psychologist, or any sort of licensed professional, but I went through it and can at least provide support and sympathize with those that are battling an eating disorder. It's imperative to me to encourage people to get help because it's plain and simple: you're a slave to your eating disorder. Every moment everyday, you're thinking about food, avoiding food, and fearing food. Being freed from your eating disorder, though, well I can't think of anything that accurately describes it because it's that awesome. So if you have an eating disorder or know someone who does, please go ahead and reach out to me. Anything you say, I promise I will hold strictly confidential.
Literally. Disclaimer: I'm about to provide too much information aka TMI Alert. If you have a weak stomach and dislike the word "poop," I suggest you don't read this post.
Boh has had bouts of diarrhea since Monday and yesterday topped each and everyone of them. He had an accident (more like explosive diarrhea) in his crate while Jake was at UMBC and I was at work. Oh and I was rejected from the MA in Communication program at Johns Hopkins University. Needless to say my evening was full of feces and tears. After work, I felt like crying and hiding from the world in my bed while watching Netflix and eating all the chocolate I received for Easter. Instead, I cried, ate chocolate, did the dishes, and searched for other graduate programs. After having a comfort meal at Panera with my partner-in-crime, Jake, I felt a lot better and decided that being productive would be a better way to get my mind off of everything that's happened recently.
Again, it's been almost a month since my last blog post. Earlier this month, Boh had an emergency visit to the pet ER due to a stomach blockage. This stomach blockage happened because Boh ripped Jake's slipper apart while we were asleep and swallowed a large piece of rubber. I swear if this dog was an actual child and not a fur child, he would be six years old and his name would be Jimmy. Jake and I would receive many calls from Jimmy's school for doing things like innocently asking the teacher what a vagina is. As much as it would be inappropriate for him to do that and annoying to receive yet another call, it's somewhat endearing and you couldn't help but love the kid. That's what Boh is like to us. He's a little shit, but Jake and I love the dog so much it's insane.
Between dealing with Boh, applying for grad school, having surgery (I'll explain in another blog post), not being to work out because of surgery, being rejected from grad school, it's been difficult to be positive. However, you just have to laugh at all the shit in your life. It's the little things they say, and whoever "they" may be, they are correct. Spending time with Jake at Panera yesterday improved my mood drastically. At the beginning, I was fighting back tears as I ordered my You Pick Two with Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and a Power Kale Salad with Chicken. At the end though, I was laughing with Jake about my melodramatic idiosyncrasies and promised I wouldn't lay on the floor crying listening to "Atlas Hands" by Benjamin Francis Leftwich like I did during the summer as I was experiencing a quarter-life crisis. I blame the artist in me for my frequent expressions of hyperbole.
So when life gets you down, find the positive things in your life. Even if they're little, it's still something.
Earlier this week, I was going through my email, looking at articles, deleting some, and unsubscribing from others. While doing so, I found an article about skin cancer that scared me. It was horrifying actually and made me regret past decisions in my life. The main theme around these decisions? Tanning.
Ever since I was little, I love when my olive skin is tan. My definition of a perfect summer day involves basking in the sun on the beach while listening to music as the day passes by. Just writing about it makes me want to jump on a plane to somewhere sunny and 75. Now growing up, my mom would slather SPF 50 on my little brother since he didn't inherit my dad's Sicilian skin and burns easily. On the other hand, I would run away as soon as she approached me with the sunscreen. I hated the gooey, smelly stuff. I preferred the Banana Boat tanning oil my cool teenage cousin used.
Fast forward to high school and my friends introduced me to my new frenemy: the tanning bed. Living in a small town, there were only two salons. Of course I went to the one where around prom time, they offered buy one, get one month of unlimited tanning. After the final school bell, so many junior and senior girls would rush to the tanning salon. Ah, what nice memories waiting for the tanning bed. That was the beginning of my bad habit.
This bad habit continued throughout college, especially when working full-time at my internship prohibited me from laying out during the summer. Even after graduation, I used my full-time job as an excuse to frequent the tanning salon. I could transform into a bronze goddess any time of the year! How cool is that?! Except here are some facts from Redbook Magazine that I wish I wouldn't have ignored for the past six years:
1. Your risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when you use tanning beds before the age of 35.
2. Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer shifted indoor tanning devices to the highest cancer risk category: "carcinogenic to humans." (They were formerly classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans.")
3. Tanning can be addictive. For some people, UV radiation can have a druglike effect; they feel dependent on it and can experience withdrawal symptoms, says David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
4. Not only are tanning-bed users more vulnerable to melanoma, they're also 2½ times more likely to be diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and 1½ times more susceptible to basal cell carcinoma.
5. Starting this July, you're going to pay a 10-percent tax every time you slip into the tanning booth.
So this year, I'm going to finally kick my vice and make some changes:
Today, I'm Thankful
I realized that today I'm thankful for many things in my life. First and foremost, it's Friday (and a payday to boot)! Also, I'm finally able to take a shower and start working out again! It's been over a week since I've done both and to put it frankly, I feel disgusting. Don't worry, I have been taking sponge baths. However, those do not compare whatsoever to the glorious warm water of the shower and the ultimate clean feeling that you experience afterwards. You're probably wondering why, but that's a whole separate story to be shared at a later time.
But on a more serious note, it's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Yesterday I posted a #TBT on Instagram highlighting the fact that I used to have an eating disorder and received so much support on Instagram and Facebook. However, the most amazing and heartfelt support came from my dad, which can be seen at the bottom of this post. It left me speechless and I still feel like I can't find the right words to say, so I'm going to leave you all with a simple, yet honest quote by Buddha:
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
One Month of Slacking
I'm a few days shy of my one month anniversary of no new blog posts. I could sit here and list excuses as to why I haven't written anything in almost a month: dog training classes, surgery, too busy at work, etc. However, there isn't an excuse. Last night, I spent about a few hours in my bed binge-watching Family Guy, folding laundry, checking Facebook and reading on-line beauty articles (i.e., $20 and Under Self Tanners). I could've thrown in writing a blog post into the mix. But I didn't, it's just something that lost importance to me and slipped away into the subconscious part of my mind. I really would like to change that though. A lot has happened in the past month that I wish I wrote about.
Here's one recent story I'd like to share (which explains why a picture of a Capitals game is chillin' at the top of the post):
Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I went to a Capitals game at the Verizon Center thanks to his parents who graciously gave us a set of their season tickets. In front of us sits Joe. Joe is an older man - probably in his late 60s - who LOVES the Capitals. You can tell not because he's an obnoxious fan, but because he's there every game - just him with his cowbell, Capitals cap, and Capitals jacket. He has a gentle enthusiasm and a good-natured presence that gives me as much joy as seeing the Capitals win. Maybe I'm just a softie, but it gives me such pleasure to see other people enjoy what they're passionate for.
I ask you to take a moment to watch your surroundings and to be aware of not what you're feeling, but what others are feeling around you. Watch Joe as the Capitals make their fourth goal against the Devils. Watch your baby niece giggle with laughter as your brother tickles her, makes the weirdest sounds and doesn't care if he looks like a buffoon as long as his daughter is happy. Watch your 15-year-old cousin with Down syndrome play air guitar as you crank up Sam Hunt's House Party in the car and sing a long with her at the top of your lungs. I promise you it'll be truly amazing and heartwarming.
in no particular order:
There you have it. These are just some of the many life lessons I learned this past year.
My New Obsession
Friday's here again - meaning it's been a week since my last blog post. Work, along with life in general, has been quite busy this past week. My goal is to post something everyday, but life doesn't always allow time for everything you want to do.
Anyways, I'm here to talk about my new obsession: GRAPEFRUIT! I've been eating, drinking, and even thinking about the fruit a lot lately. Last Sunday at brunch, I had a grapefruit crush with freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice and let me tell you, it was so damn refreshing. I couldn't contain an "oh yeah" when I took the first sip of the icy citrus drink.
Grapefruit is an awesome fruit. Like other citrus fruits, it's a great source of vitamin C. Just one half of a grapefruit provides about 64% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Grapefruit provides an abundance of other vitamins and minerals as well: vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper. In addition to that huge list, grapefruit contains phynutrients, such as limonoids and naringenin, and antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene.
There are many benefits to consuming grapefruit:
Please note that people taking the following medications should not eat grapefruit:
Just your "typical" twentysomething.