Best Part of Your Day

For ChanuChristmaKah last year I was given a gift certificate to Kiva.

In short, Kiva is “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”  I’ve been a huge fan of Kiva for years and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it.  It’s one of those things on my “list” that I keep forgetting about.  I’m not entirely too sure why, except that I had not yet made Kiva a part of my life routine and you know how taking that initial step goes…

Also, I have the attention span of a goldfish.

So last year when my aunt asked me what I wanted for the holidays I basically squealed, “a Kiva gift certificate!”  It was the only thing I could think of that I truly wanted.  Because not only was she gifting me the money to turn around and invest in someone who genuinely needs and deserves it, but she was giving me the platform to start my own Kiva portfolio.  She gave me a gift that will continue to give as long as I continue to reinvest the funds.  And she gave me the absolute joy of not only being able to help someone in need, but to be a part of the process as well.  After seven months, I’ve finally been able to make a decision about where to invest the money and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Sifting through all of the applicants, knowing you can pick only one (or two) in whom to invest is one seriously tough-ass decision to make.  But I finally found a woman that I’m a little bit in love with and hope to some day visit her in Peru (after all, Peru IS on Rhonda’s and my bucket travel list).  Meet Lesly:

Best Part of Your Day: #photoadayjuly  –  *Click image to enlarge for better reading*

Today’s “Photo a Day July” (yeah, I’m attempting that again… let’s see if I can make it through an entire month this time!) is “Best Part of Your Day.”  My day started off pretty crappy actually, and this** is exactly what I needed to not only turn it around, but pretty much make this the best week/month/year ever.  Seriously.  I’m more excited about this than I can adequately say.

A-hundred-million-lifetime “thank yous,” Robyn.  One of the best gifts ever.

**I know it’s not officially a photo that I shot today.  But it’s a screen capture that I cropped and made to look kind-of, maybe a little bit like a photo.  Back off, I’m participating… that’s all that matters.  Like I said, “attention span of a goldfish.”  It’s a miracle I’ve made it THIS far.

Update: In the time it took me to type up this post, Lesly reached her goal and is fully funded!  Color me happy. :)

Aliiiiiiiiiiiivvvve!

Where I’m sure you’re all about to pee yourself with anticipation of a detailed explanation for my absence, I’m gonna hit you with the reader’s digest version.  The details aren’t all that fascinating, I assure you.  So.  Here’s the sitch:

-Work has been hell.  Three weeks of insanely long hours and then a new schedule with lots of stress and pretty much hating everyone and their cute kittens.  That’s about all you need to know right?  Who wants gory details about work?

-Post back procedure healing went pretty well and I was pain free for a while (notice the past tense slipped in there?), until symptoms started showing up about two months after the procedure.  So (again) long story short: I’m close to where I was before the procedure.  There are doctor appointments and decisions to be made in my near future.

-My health in the arena of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome management has been extremely shaky.  I’d be lying if I said I was 100% on top of it right now.  The super-duper-Hulkian proportions of stress from multiple areas of my life have taken a huge toll on my body.  Consequently my nutrition has suffered, which means I’m a little too under-weight and terribly afraid I’m going to look like an Olsen twin soon if I can’t get proper nutrients and fats in my body. I am currently 5’6″ and 115 lbs.  Anything under 120 is bad for me.  So… Yeah…  Working on it.

-All that stress I just mentioned above?  Let’s see…
*Multiple deaths and funerals.
*Family feuding.
*Cracked pipe in our foundation resulting in home demo repairs to plumbing and 3,000 lbs of sheetrock dust everywhere.  Which means I’ve been in Lady Macbeth mode since the first cut into our walls over a week ago.
*Sugar needing multiple (very expensive) trips to the Vet.
*Health keeping me from working out.
*Trying to find time to finish up a commission and get a series of works together for a rather large submission.
*Balancing attentiveness to friends and family with my body’s need to essentially hibernate so I can heal and be better functioning.
*Balancing finances like Rain Man to pay for home stuff, Sugar’s Vet stuff, my back and health stuff, and eating my weight in 365 brand frozen fruit bars from Whole Foods (SERIOUSLY, you guys, these popsicles are THE SHIT).

So basically: When I’m not at work, or cleaning, or working at home, or force-feeding myself, or pushing through exhaustion and feeling like crap every day; I’ve been majorly checked out.  I haven’t had time to blog or update the website.  I’ve barely had time to be an attentive friend.  Not sure I’m succeeding all too well at that either.  I’m alive and kicking and chugging along, for sure.  I’m just a bit off grid right now, for which I apologize.  I miss writing, photographing, and blogging like crazy.  I promise I’m not gone for good.  I am working on a perfect balance.  Until then, thanks so much for sticking with me and still checking in around these here parts from time to time.  I love you more than cupcakes.

 

Telling Stories

I recently stumbled upon this post on Flickr from April of 2010 and it got me feeling nostalgic.  So I’m reposting.  It’s also nice to read and feel that, where this part of my character is concerned nothing’s changed.

Last week a stranger approached me to tell me about his life as a cross-dresser.  That he felt more attractive as a female.  That he liked men but preferred to surround himself with women.  That he was having a hard time meeting someone worth while.  
He told me about his friend’s surgery to become a woman.  I told him about my friend’s surgery to become a man.  We shared a bag of chips.  He thanked me as he thrust his hands awkwardly into is jean pockets and walked away.

Two months ago a stranger told me he was nervous about approaching his girlfriend to be more adventurous in the bedroom.  I was buying a garter belt.  He was buying a vibrator.  We later talked about social networking and taking chances.

When I was fifteen, a woman I barely knew shared her concerns about an upcoming trip with her male friend.  Whether or not sharing a room meant sharing a bed.  Whether or not that meant they were more than friends.  That she was scared she felt things that he did not.

Eight years ago a stranger sat next to me at a café and proceeded to tell me about his life of heroin addiction.  How he overcame his addiction.  What life was like afterward.  He smoked menthol cigarettes and drank hot chocolate.  He was a film maker and collected vintage cameras.  He had not talked to anyone outside of his program about his addiction until me.  

It goes on like that.  I could tell my whole life in other people’s forthcomings.  Catalog my own stories next to theirs.  Tell you that the first time I ever slept outside without shelter was the same day a girl my age told me she thought she was pregnant.  We’d never spoken before then.  But she knew she could trust and count on me.

I’ve been told I have an honest face.  That I look like a safe harbor.  And it’s never ceased to awe me.  That I carry around these carefully packaged gifts I never asked for and not once did they ever ask for anything in return.

Since I’m Celebrating My Last Year in My Twenties

Imma live photo bomb this page with my birthday as it unfolds.  ALL WEEKEND LONG.  I know, the Internet hasn’t been this exciting since the invention of Youtube.  You?  Are welcome.

My first birthday card given to me a day early by my Pookie Bear, Kramer. He knows me, he really knows me (this card made me laugh so hard I might have peed a couple drops).
In my car when I left for work this morning. Addressed to “My Gorgeous Wife.” Awwwwweeeeee… I know. I just puked rainbows, too.
I got to work and I was all, “Dammit it’s my birthday! I’m havin’ Donut Gems! And Coffee! And no one can stop me!” Consequently, I’m rockin’ a wicked sugar high and I’m pretty sure I’m hallucinating just a teensy bit. Whatevs. WORTH IT.
I booted up my computer this morning to find that my Facebook had exploded. I’m rather touched. Particularly by my friends who said things like “Happy birthday! I miss you touching my naughty parts!” Which will be fun for my Grandma to read. I have the greatest peeps ever.
And then my phone started blowing up and it’s been going off all day. It’s making me all warm and gooey inside. I imagine this is what cookie dough feels like when it’s just about to come out of the oven.
Birthday lunch! It may not look like much, but this is one of my favorite salads from a local, family owned deli.  Plus, it was bought for me.  FREE birthday lunch!  Even better!
These were my lunch dates: Dad, Hoops & Yo-Yo.
And then Rhonda eludes to dirty stuff, not deterring our friends but only egging them on… Again I say, “I love my peeps.”
And then a knock at my office door for the delivery of a bouquet of my favorite flower! Thanks, Mom & Steve!
At the BRC (Big Red Cock) Having a couple of beers at the bar before dinner. Yes, it’s a Hipstamatic photo but I couldn’t get a decent shot in such low light. Even with a 1.4 lens on 1600ISO. So lay off the ironic hipster jokes. Also, Austin Amber Ale is pretty darn good. In case you were wondering.
Dinner and Dessert: Pork chops and macaroni. And SNICKERS BEIGNETS. Yeah, I’ll wait a moment while you let that sink in. They were “HOLY CRAP” good.
This is me and my Grams at dinner. Not shown here: Rhonda, my Dad, and bestie, Ileya. It was a good time had by all.  Also, don’t ask me why I’m doing the Paris Hilton stink eye.  That one beer must’ve really done me in or something…

Friday night I got to continue celebrating with our Compound Crew (seven years and running!), which meant Cake!  And Starbucks!  And duck jokes!

Some of the best cupcakes ever made. And an extra special birthday soy latte. So totally perfect.
Tim had to console Sugar because we wouldn’t let her have any cupcakes. Poor, mistreated puppy…
I really love that my friends give me sentimental stuff like nice coasters with photos in them and framed pictures… and a “not a pet duck” pet duck phone. They butter me up and then poke me with a stick. And they wouldn’t be my friends otherwise. :)
I had to immediately call someone to tell them that I was talking to them from a duck. So naturally I called my mother.

         

The next day was Rhonda’s designated “Pamper Lindsey Day” (I know, I totally have the best wife EVER).  We got Thai Massages and then mani-pedis in massage chairs and then we went out to a lovely dinner at one of my absolute favorite restaurants, t’afia.  Seriously, my wife is kinda, totally, awesomely awesome.

Best place for an authentic Thai Massage in Houston. We would know. We went to Thailand. Plus, the place is so cozy and the staff so wonderful and kind and happy. Hitting up West Gray Thai Massage is a bit like Disney World for me.

I wish I had shot more images on “Pamper Lindsey Day,” but I was a bit too noodly to handle a camera.  Next weekend when my mom totally spoils me for my birthday, I’ll be sure to rock out the images.

To be continued…

Some Whining, a Little Humor (but Mostly Whining) and (Shocker!) Some Sick Stuff (Also Whining. You’ve Been Warned)

Since I got sick with the Flu a couple of months ago, and then sort-of healed, and then got sick again with some other strand of Ebola, and then sort-of made it through Thanksgiving, and then sort-of healed again, all the while playing a game of Battleship with the Sciatica in my back (not to mention the regularly scheduled illness crap): I still haven’t fully recovered.  My body is, in theory, mostly where it needs to be.  My brain and my energy levels are not.  It has taken a huge emotional toll on me, and therefore every part of me is exhausted of any and all resources.

I’m so physically, mentally and emotionally drained right now that I’ve been pretty unresponsive to doing anything.  Which is nothing like me.  I’m always proactive, organized, full of energy, ready for anything, up for everything, and adamant about putting everyone first before me.  I take care of my responsibilities.  I take care of the people around me.  I take care of my strict illness regimen.  I’m used to taking on life at full force.

But right now I kind-of don’t care.  I’m not being active in any way, shape or form because of my back.  I’m trying to not overexert myself so I don’t relapse into another sickness.  I’m spending more of my free time sleeping instead of being a productive member of society.  I feel tired ALL THE TIME.  So all I really want to do is go back to sleep except I’m sick of lying around.  But the moment I come up with something productive to accomplish, the thought of getting up to attack it is too tiring to bear so I find something else to occupy my brain that doesn’t require doing anything.

I know.  I sound pathetic.  I feel pathetic.

Yesterday I just so happened to have an appointment with my Psychiatrist, so I filled her in on my current state of “MEH.”  We talked about it.  We talked about me.  And then we braided each other’s hair and ate cookie dough while my Psychiatrist proceeded to tell me that where I’m having some in and out moments of depression, I’m not depressed.  And basically it’s as simple as: my body has been through a  lot.  I haven’t caught a break in a few months.  So my body is just really, REALLY fucking tired.  And battling my body every day has made me really, REALLY fucking tired.  And everything I’ve been doing with the not doing of anything?  Is what I should be doing and as I keep feeling better bit by tiny bit, I can increase my activity levels and moods will improve and then I can take over the world.  Or something.

Until then, I’m struggling just to keep my attention focused on getting any single task accomplished (like answering a phone, or putting some laundry away, or shaving my legs.  These are difficult, tricky tasks, people).  My spirit is trying so hard to come up and I’m trying desperately to come up with it as my body lags behind me.  I swear I’m still alive and I haven’t completely turned to the dark side (although I hear they have cookies over there), but I am a little scattered right now and until my body starts getting back on track I’m gonna be struggling.  I guess in a way that’s my disclaimer for my “MEH” state.  So there you have it, Internet.  I’m way off right now but I’ll get back to me soon enough.  And when I do get back, I promise to bring lots of fun-ness and maybe even some confetti and pony rides.  Only the best for you.

XOXO

What’s it Worth?

When most college students are stressing over how to put themselves through school or (after the fact) pay off their college loans, I was dropping tens of thousands of dollars on medical bills.  After three-and-a-half years of extensive medical testing, on top of about five trips to the ER per year (and a couple more years for good measure), I paid off the last of my medical debt.  Most people upon such a feat have something to show for years of responsible budgeting like a diploma or a car.  I got a diagnosis.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome has no cure, so I’ll be spending the rest of my life managing the symptoms, managing my lifestyle to prevent the symptoms, and treating the affects the illness has on my body.  Even after finally getting a diagnosis, it took me many more years to assemble a team of doctors capable of keeping up with what my body goes through on a daily basis.  Now that they’re assembled I have to see them fairly regularly to keep my body functioning.  Or at the very least, keep my body functioning from a pain free point of view.  I keep myself functioning on my own pretty damn well, but it comes with daily aches and pains.  If I want to live a life without those aches and pains, I have to stick to a strict regimen of weekly appointments with a Chiropractor and Acupuncturist.  As well as monthly appointments with a Psychiatrist and regular check-ups with my GP (this does not include check-ups with my Gastroenterologist, trips to the Dentist or exams and contacts from my Ophthalmologist).

I have incredible health insurance coverage which is a major blessing.  But even so, the regularity of my appointments coupled with the fact that some of these doctors aren’t covered by insurance is causing the medical costs to add up again.  And this time rather rapidly.  I’d finally gotten to a point in my life where I wasn’t spending every penny I owned on living and I was able to start saving again.  But now.  Now I’m having to dip into my savings to pay for an 85% pain free lifestyle and I’m wondering if it’s worth it.  I’m running out of money and I’m stressed about my own personal finances again in a way I haven’t been since college.  Stress is an aggravator of my illness.  So here I am in this vicious cycle of, yeah, where I’ve been experiencing far less pain and discomfort than what I’ve been through in the last nine years, I’m also creating a constant stress that deeply impacts my body’s overall well being.  So is it really worth it?

What would you do?  Would you spend $520 and nine hours every month to live in a relatively pain free existence?  Or would you rock out your management on your own as you’ve been doing for years and actually spare yourself a lot of stress and financial loss, albeit with the daily aches and pains?  And if your answer happens to be in favor of the former, would you like to give me a job that makes me a shit-ton of money?  Thatbegreatthanks.

Looking Back

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day and I missed it.  To make up for it I went back through my archives and read some previous years’ posts in honor of the holiday.  It was nice to bring that bit of perspective back to my current self.  More so it was nice to feel that I’m still connected to what I wrote.  That my hopes and my outlook haven’t changed.  If you’re interested in reading them:

(2010) “On the Shedding of Light and Love
(2009) “Check One

Also, my friend, Becky wrote a beautiful post about courage: read it here.