Cat Mom Problems

Where my cat people at??

Seriously, I believe that cats are the greatest animals and pets on this planet. I know, some of you reading this might be “dog people” but just to clarify: although I think cats are the best, this doesn’t mean that I hate dogs. Dogs are adorable, stupid and obedient little fur babies. On the other hand, cats are independent, snuggly and sneaky tufts of love. Some people click better with dogs, and others with cats, but let’s agree that all animals are beautiful creatures, yea?

Anyway, I’m the type of person that clicks better with cats. I mean, at one point in my childhood, a rather promiscuous Calico of mine named Snickers had so many kittens that we couldn’t give them all away fast enough. We had 12 cats roaming around our yard and bringing us dead birds for quite some time, and I loved it! This is part of what shaped me into the cat lady I am today. However, since felines are sassier and harder to train, there are issues that come along with being a cat parent. Most of these things are irritating in the moment, but man, they sure do some hilarious stuff when you replay their actions after the fact.

Here are some annoying but comical problems that may arise if you have a cat:

  1. Cats are clumsy goobers.

My cat, Ted Meowsby, seems to have zero awareness of his surroundings. It’s either that, or he just doesn’t give a hoot about what’s around him! Ted is a big boy– he’s part Maine Coon– and his tail is a giant force to be reckoned with. Often times, Ted will knock stuff off of tables just from flipping his tail from one side to the other. The best part about it, is when he accidentally topples a glass of water on the ground, he does not react at all. It’s like he pretends it didn’t even happen…or maybe he doesn’t even know it was him?

Ted is also what you’d call a “tree dweller.” I have these very high cabinets in my kitchen that he can swiftly jump onto by going from the counter, to the fridge and up to the very top. Usually, this acrobatic feat is done seamlessly. Except I learned that if I move anything on top of the fridge, it throws off his rhythm and it ends badly. If he can’t get his footing right, he slides all the way down the side of my refrigerator with his arms up, trying to grab onto something. As he slides, all of my magnets and pictures come crashing down with him! One time, I had just finished sweeping and mopping my floors and Ted lost his balance trying to jump up to the top of the cabinets. He slid all the way down my fridge, and along down with him, my magnets and photos came my new, full, glass salt shaker. Of course it shattered and salt was everywhere. He walked away as if nothing happened. Typical Ted move.

2. Cats are ferocious beasts.

When I picked out Ted from the litter, I knew he’d be a rambunctious monster. He was the kitten that was crawling all over and biting at his sound-sleeping brothers and sisters. He did not care. He wanted attention! I saw that fuzzy rascal and thought, “this little guy is mine!”

All kittens are little monsters, but Ted was a different kind, and still is. As a kitten, if I wore a maxi skirt, he’d latch on to the bottom of it with his front paws and slide around on the floor behind me as I walked. To this day, I can’t hang long curtains in my windows because he consistently would climb up them until they fell down. He even pulled down the entire shower curtain and its rod a of couple times, which was infuriating, but luckily he hasn’t tried that in over a year.

My cat is a true hunter. When he doesn’t have a bug to chase, sometimes he decides to hunt me. He will swat at and pounce on my feet until he grabs ahold of them. Then, the biting commences. It’s not pleasant, but I know he’s having fun, so I let him do it until it really starts to hurt.

As Ted gets older (he’ll be 3 on August 11!) he gets much less playful, which is honestly amazing. Even though he’s getting better, he still does a lot of crazy stuff that cause many a cat-scratch on my body. For example, his new favorite thing to do around February this year was to pounce on my head while I was sleeping! Sweet, right? He hasn’t done that in a few months, though and I’m praying for that phase to be over forever.

3. Cats are territorial and bossy.

Cat haters, I knot that you think all cats are mean and just like to hiss at you. However, most cats barely hiss once in their lifetime! Cats will only hiss if they feel threatened, and only very territorial cats are prone to hissing.

Ted Meowsby, though a sweet and lovable guy to all humans he meets, is incredibly territorial when it comes to meeting other cats. He thinks he’s the only cat around that matters (and maybe that’s because I’ve spoiled him so much) but this ego of his makes him very mean to other kitties who cross his path! When Ted and I go to my mom’s house for holidays, she has to put her cat away in a separate room so a fight won’t break loose. They take turns being shut in a bedroom for a few hours with food and litter, then switch places. It isn’t ideal, but Ted could probably kill my mom’s tiny female Snow Shoe. My cat is the boss.

Another funny example of my cat being bossy is how he claims certain spots on the bed or couch as his own. If I dare to sit in his spot on the couch, he will sit really close to me and then try to push me off the couch with his back legs! Also, as soon as I get up to do something, he immediately takes my seat. Don’t mess with the emperor of Apt. 28.

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There are so many other examples of how being a cat mom can be pain in the tail, that going into detail would take hours. Here are a few more things cats do that annoy their parents:

-sitting on your laptop or right in front of your laptop when you’re using it

-only eating a certain type of food and going on a hunger strike if it’s unavailable

-opening up cabinets to find the hidden bag of treats and then ripping it open to eat them ALL

-deciding to cuddle right when you have to get out of bed

-stepping right on your bladder any time they walk across you

-putting their paws in your water glasses

-making ANYTHING a toy (I had to take down my xmas lights because he wouldn’t stop swatting)

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With all said and done, being a parent to a cat is one of the best parts of my life! They’re annoying as all get out, but they’re also great companions. They’re amazing bug hunters (seriously, I trained Ted to kill roaches for treats). They know when you’re sad or sick or simply in need of a little more love. They show their adoration for you by kneading on you or rubbing their little furry faces on you. Their human caregivers are their world, and even though they may piss us off sometimes, they’re honestly too cute to be mad at.

Immaculate Conception

Hail Mary

Filled with disgrace,

That man was with you.

Never letting tears roll down your face,

You wished to weep

As his hands touched your thigh,

But you must be his fragile sheep

As his fingers go inside

Your holy vessel.

_._._._._._._

Holy Mary

You pray to God

That a fertilized egg won’t nestle

In the sheets of your womb.

You can’t bear the child of a sinner,

But as he thrusts

You must

Lay silent in your room.

Your duvets wraps like a cocoon.

You shrivel from his hot breath

Now

And at the hour of your death.

_._._._._._._

Hail Mary

Just in case,

You take a test.

You fear

That little pink plus sign

And as the time comes near

Your heart

Beats out of your chest.

Ten more seconds.

Wait and see.

His child is with thee.

_._._._._._._

Holy Mary

A mother, by god

Of a bastard baby, leeching.

Outside, you wear a smile

As the lamb of god has gifted you with child.

But inside your soul is screeching,

Your faith is in shambles.

How could the lord let this man take your innocence and pride?

You pray for the sinner,

But you hope that he breaks

Under the weight of his sins,

Like the cracks in your over-stretched skin.

You hope his conscience makes him sick

Just like his child makes you

Every morning at six.

You hope he suffers, just like you

Now

And at the hour of his death.

My Sobriety Story

I wasn’t sure if writing this article would be too taboo. I’m still unsure if it’s a great idea to share such a personal story to the world. However if I had been able to find and article like this one 3 years ago, I could have recognized my need for a change sooner. I could have done less damage to my body. I could have saved myself from countless nights of panic attacks and depression. I could have stopped myself from ruining friendships and lowering my own standards. I could have, but I also might not have even opened that article.

You see, addiction is not easy to admit to. It’s even harder to recognize how helpless you are when you’re using. If you aren’t ready to accept it and start making changes, you won’t. I hope that my story can reach those who were struggling like me: in between acceptance of having a problem and readiness to make a change.

My story begins in high school. I was new to the public school, a transfer from the Catholic middle school in my town. I have zero bad blood with my Catholic school classmates, but I never felt like I fit in with them. I got “yellow slips” and lunch detention for wearing zip-up band hoodies or too many bracelets to school. I’d skip class to go to pop/punk concerts and I wore way too much eyeliner. I was the only “emo” kid in my grade! Although I had some friends, I hated feeling left out. But hey, middle school sucks no matter what, right?

Anyway, at the public high school I only had one friend to begin with (Hannah-still my best friend today) who then introduced me to her group of friends. I fit in with them even though they didn’t go to concerts or shop at Hot Topic. It felt so incredible to find friends who liked me for ME, behind all the eyeliner and under my long, straight bangs. These were the people who gave me confidence. They were also the people who introduced me to whiskey.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all placing blame on my friends for my drinking problem! I didn’t have to drink with them. I never felt pressured to do it. I wanted to drink. This new world of social opportunity was at my feet. If I drank, I no longer felt uncomfortable to meet new people, to make more friends. If I drank, I was invited to parties and could create many hilarious stories with people that I never would have spoken to without alcohol involved. Liquor was my savior. It was my solution to feeling outcasted. Until it wasn’t.

In high school, I drank every weekend, but so did everyone else! I blacked out and vomited the entire contents of my stomach more times than I could count. I got into several fights with my friends, all of which were instigated by me (sorry, guys). This was destructive behavior, but I was young and carefree! I didn’t think I had a problem.

In college, I joined a sorority to make friends (hello again, social anxiety), which brought me to fraternity parties and “keggers” almost every Thursday through Sunday. On week nights, it was Margarita Mondays or Twisted Tuesdays or Wasted Wednesdays. Any celebration, loss or heartbreak was a reason to drink. I didn’t think I had a problem.

My Junior year, I studied abroad in the South of France. This was when my drinking started to escalate. I was only 20 for half of the year, but I was legal in France! I remember my first night there. I arrived in Aix-en-Provence around 10 A.M., had a panic attack immediately in my teeny tiny dorm and fell asleep. I woke up to a knock on my door. A friend that I met while getting my visa in Chicago was standing outside of my dorm! He coincidentally was placed in the dorm right above mine, and asked our program coordinator if I had arrived yet. I couldn’t believe he found me! Then he said those magic words, “wanna go get a drink?” I was elated! Again, alcohol had been my savior. He and I found what later became our favorite happy hour spot, La Grenouille. In our classes, we made more amazing friends and our nights were always spent out on the town, drinking. At one point, we started getting large bottles of cheap whiskey, sharing them, then smashing the empty bottles on a fountain. Later on, I got a large bottle of whiskey for myself to finish and smash (although I was never strong enough to really smash it and had to have one of my guy friends do it for me). Blacking out became the norm for me. I always wondered why my friends didn’t black out every time we went out, but I assumed it’s “because I’m smaller” or “I don’t eat enough” or “maybe their tolerance is better than mine.” I’ve come to realize now that I was out-drinking most of them every night. I started to think that I had a problem, because I had gotten myself in many awful situations while blacked out (i.e. getting very close to being arrested in Prague for peeing in the middle of a street and then arguing with the cops) and I started feeling worse and worse after every binge. However, I still made excuses for my drinking habits. I didn’t think I had too bad of a problem yet.

In 2016, I graduated with my BA and had no idea what to do next. I interviewed for one job, didn’t get it, then decided that graduate school was my step. I got accepted into Trinity College Dublin, and off I went to live in Ireland for a year. Some of you may not know this about Dublin, but it’s pretty well centered around “pub life.” God, did I love pub life. For the first 6 months, my life was centered around getting my school work done and when I could drink next. Every trip I went on had drinking tied into the itinerary: sangrias in Spain, winery tours in Italy and France, brewery visits literally anywhere. I made sure I did a pub crawl in every country I traveled to, and of course, I blacked out in all of them.

The latter half of my time in Dublin, I was incredibly depressed. I didn’t feel homesick, per se, but something in Dublin didn’t feel right. I made incredible friends there, who I still talk to today, and enjoyed my graduate classes and loved writing my dissertation. Dublin had everything I could need to make me happy, yet I was so broken and sad. I decided to try to drink less. The hangovers were terrible and the “hangxiety” was insurmountable. So I tried to quit drinking. However, when I didn’t go out drinking, I felt lonely and as if I couldn’t hang out with anyone. So I started binge drinking again. My blackouts were so terrible during that last half of my year that I did and said things to my closest friends that I never would have done if I were sober. My drunk alter-ego had it out for me and seemed to want to ruin my life. I realized that year that I could not just have a drink or two with my friends. If I had one drink, it was game over. My solution had become my enemy. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

After I finished my dissertation, I knew I had to leave Dublin. I was too depressed and wanted a fresh start. I moved to New York City because, why the hell not? Unfortunately for me, I didn’t think that my problems would follow me wherever I went.

My first year in NYC, I made a friend who drank like me. She’s still one of my best friends today. I loved that she also went out on the weekends with a mission: to get fucked up. The first night I went out with her, I blacked out, fell in the middle of a busy street, and woke up in her bed in China Town. She didn’t judge me! We ordered food and I got a cab home that evening. The difference between her and I though, is that she doesn’t really black out. She can tell when it’s time to slow down, drink water, eat something, or stop drinking for the night. I, on the other hand, simply cannot. That year, I consistently depended on her to take care of me, whether I realized it or not. She got me cabs home, ordered me food, took drinks away from me…I’m sure she even had to lug my dead weight around a few times. She saved my ass too many times, and even though our friendship began with drinking, I’m incredibly grateful that it didn’t end there.

In that same year, I got a job teaching English to speakers of other languages. I was so excited to teach and came prepared with lesson plans on hand for the first two weeks. Then I realized, my students didn’t really care to learn about grammar. They already knew how to speak enough English they needed and were only taking the course as a requirement from the state. So I stopped caring. I started showing a lot of movies and reading articles from the NY Times. Eventually, I started letting my students out of class earlier and earlier so I could meet friends at a whiskey bar around the corner and get drunk. It got to the point where I would let let them leave after 2 hours, get a six pack of tall boys from the bodega downstairs, and drink and them in my classroom. I felt defeated. My job was useless. I wasn’t using my degrees or any of my skills. My brain hadn’t been stimulated for at least 6 months. I figured, why not just get drunk every night? I knew I had a problem, but I admitted defeat and didn’t want to change. I assumed that drinking defined me, and I couldn’t fathom my life without alcohol.

For some reason, in the midst of my depression, I thought that getting a new job, an important job, would fix it all. I got hired as a second grade teacher. I never wanted to teach elementary school, but I knew it was important, so I took the job and threw myself into it. My pay raise allowed me to move to a one bedroom apartment in the East Village. The first night I stayed in my new place, a Wednesday, I had a friend come over to drink wine to celebrate. I had to teach a bunch of 7-year-olds in the morning, but I assumed I’d stop after 2 or 3 glasses. Like always, I didn’t stop. I drank 2 bottles of wine and blacked out in my bed. My alarm went off at 5 A.M and I rolled into the school with the worst hangover ever (actually, let’s be real, all hangovers are the worst) and still smelling like alcohol. After that day, I knew I couldn’t drink anymore on weeknights and needed to try to control or limit my drinking.

Remember that friend of mine that drinks like me? Well, she told me one night after that incident, at a bar, that I needed to try to cut myself off. We gave me a limit of 4 drinks. After the third drink, I always said “fuck it” and would sneak a shot or two away from her so she didn’t know I was over my “limit.” Since the 4 drink thing didn’t work, I tried many other ideas: only drink beer or wine, only drink dark liquors, only drink light liquors, drink a glass of water after every alcoholic drink, eat A LOT before going out, cut off drinking at midnight. None of these ideas worked. I was back into my depression and I had panic attacks every morning like clockwork. I was paranoid that everyone hated me. Then, I started hallucinating when I drank. One morning after a night out where I planned to stay sober, I woke up in my own bed with no recollection of how or when I got there and I realized I had had enough.

This was December of 2018. I joined a program for addicts and alcoholics. I had my first sober christmas since I was 14. It was horrible, but I felt proud. I relapsed on NYE back in New York City, but that champagne toast was my last drink.

My sober date is January 2nd, 2019. I have over a year and a half of sobriety under my belt. I hated being sober for the first 9 months or so, struggling to socialize and deal with emotions that I never let surface before. I have a therapist now that I love and I’ve been working on how to be myself, my best self, without alcohol. I still crave a drink sometimes, but I know that drinking again will be my downfall. I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance at a sober life at such a young age, and I never want to go back to my old ways.

Alcoholism doesn’t always look the way you picture it: homeless, jobless, dirty and panhandling with a bottle in a paper bag in hand. Alcoholism can look like a harmless 20-year-old going to brunch or having a night out with friends. If you suspect that you might have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. The sooner you realize it and make a change, the better. However, it’s never too late to start over and drop the bottle for good.

Here’s to being sober at 26.

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Universe,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things that I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Winnie’s Story: Young and Diagnosed

On the outside, Winnie H. looks like any 27-year-old woman: beautiful, thin, tan and well put together. She works two jobs, like any other twenty-something, tries to go to the gym as often as possible, has an enormous library on her kindle and is completing a job certification. However, on the inside, she is in constant pain. Winnie has Fibromyalgia.

I met Winnie at the age of 14. I, like most other teenagers, was full of energy and eager to do anything for fun. I knew that Winnie had some sort of illness, but I never fully understood why she hated giving me hugs or why some days she felt like she couldn’t get out of bed. As I got older and talked more with her, I learned more about the “disease” Winnie had and why it affected her the way it did.

Today, I sat down with Winnie to ask her more questions about what Fibromyalgia was and how it affected her.

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How old were you when you realized something was wrong? What kind of symptoms were you feeling?

I was 10 years old. It was after I had my appendix taken out and I figured all of the pain I felt was because of that, but then it started to get worse. The pain got to be unbearable. I didn’t like the feeling of my clothes on my body. I couldn’t let anyone touch me at all. Even when family would try to hug me, it hurt too much, so I’d run away from them. I pretty much avoided “goodbyes” at family gatherings.

To describe the pain…on good days it feels sort of like body aches from the flu. On bad days, it feels like pins and needles, like when you sit on your foot for too long and it falls asleep– that numbness and needle-prick feeling. My legs were the worst back then. Sometimes they’d randomly give out on me.

The pain all over my body would get so bad that it made me vomit or would send me into panic attacks. I didn’t know what was happening or how to handle it!

How long did it take for doctors to diagnose you with Fibromyalgia? Were you wrongfully diagnosed at first?

Before they figured it out, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, really anything mental because they thought the pain was all in my head or I was faking it. One doctor would say it was one thing and the next doctor disagreed and said it was something else! I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 13, almost 14, years old.

What different kinds of tests or treatments have you tried over the years?

I went to many different therapists, like VERY different. One was super peppy and was all like “LET’S COLOR,” and another was just like, “here’s your meds, ma’am.”

I also tried these breathing treatments for awhile at the children’s hospital. It was actually kind of fun though, like a video game. They hooked me up to this heart monitor that was attached to a screen and I’d stare at a tree or build a bridge with my breathing patterns and heart rate.

In middle school, I had to wear a heart monitor for a week because apparently I had a heart murmur too, so that’s really cool. They had me wear this helmet thing too to measure my brain waves or something.

My back doctor wanted to try giving me shots in my spine but I was like, “HELL NAH!” That’s kind of funny though because now my back is where my worst pain is.

I tried a lot of physical therapy and massage therapy. Massage Therapy was my favorite. I also tried hydro-therapy where they change it from really cold to really hot but that was the worst! Extreme cold makes my muscles tense up. I can’t handle temperature changes very well.

What about medications? Did you experience any bad side effects?

Once I was on an antidepressant that made me hallucinate! I saw all kinds of weird stuff. I saw a glowing, blue, f***ing bird everywhere! It swooped down at me once at Walmart and I looked like a lunatic trying to dodge that damn bird. I always tried to laugh it off though.

The thing about medication is that if it has possible side effects, I’m probably going to get them. I guess I’m really sensitive to meds. Even the antidepressant I’m on now makes me so nauseated that I’ll usually throw up once a day. I just have to try a lot of things to see what works.

The biggest problem I had though, was that I went to like 5 different doctors at once and they never talked to each other. I took so many medications at once that I had these things I’d call “mini overdoses.” I’d be awake but lying there, unable to move or speak, and it was really hard to breathe! Those were the scariest moments of my life. As soon as I came out of them I’d run down to my mom, freaking out about how something was NOT right.

What kinds of medications or treatments do you use today?

By the time I was 18, I was on 22 different pills a day. My boyfriend at the time cheated on me and our breakup gave some sort of wake up call. I decided to go cold turkey on all my meds at once. I was withdrawing so bad that I was hugging the toilet and shaking for what seemed like forever. After that, I chose my own medications.

Now I’m taking a new antidepressant. There’s no “happy pill,” but this one really helps. I honestly didn’t plan on living past 18 years old. I had plans to kill myself. I still have some passive suicidal idealizations, but I want to live now.

Aside from that, I’m now taking Vyvanse, which is usually for ADHD, so it seems weird that I’d take it with Fibromyalgia. It helps with the brain fog, I call it “fibro fog.” I can sort of handle the pain nowadays, but I can’t deal with the fog. I literally have fallen asleep from it, standing up, at work!

“Fibro fog” is where you can’t think clearly or remember anything. It’s like my thoughts are moving through oil in my head. Answering simple questions like “What did you have for breakfast today?” are too difficult. I’d be like, “did I even eat today?” The fog is the hardest thing for me, even though my pain is still at an all time high. I hate it because I need to work; I need to study and think. It’s all too hard to do with the fog.

I also occasionally will take a muscle relaxer. My spine swells and locks sometimes at night and the pain keeps me from sleeping, so a muscle relaxer helps me get to sleep.

How does Fibromyalgia affect your mental health?

For so many years, people told me my disease wasn’t real and people still think that today. It really f***s with me. Even doctors who are educated on the disease have written me off like I was faking it.

I have severe depression. If I go into a bad swing of depression, my fibromyalgia flares up, because my mental health and physical symptoms tie into each other.

I used to have panic attacks that were so bad I’d black out at school and my mom had to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. My anxiety is still very present in my life today, but I struggle more with depression.

Has Fibromyalgia ever affected your ability to live a “normal life?”

I couldn’t get my driver’s license when everyone else did because I was having absent seizures. When my seizures got better and I got the OK to get my license, I too afraid to get it. I was worried that I’d have a seizure while driving and kill a whole family! Fibromyalgia has made me fearful of so many things.

I used to drink a lot to numb the pain. In middle school and high school I’d drink a vodka and orange juice before school even! I continued to take my meds when I drank too. Alongside alcohol, I used to smoke pot a lot to ease the pain I felt.

Maybe this is TMI, but sex is very difficult with Fibromyalgia! Having sex on your bad days is nearly impossible. On your good days, you’re in a lot of pain, but you can still orgasm. Don’t get me wrong, I love sex and still do it! It’s just very difficult to enjoy it as much as you could without Fibromyalgia.

Tell me about why you decided to pursue massage therapy.

I had a massage therapist in middle school and high school named Nina. She helped me through SO much. When she first got me, I would tense up and squeal every time she touched me. She helped me build up a tolerance for physical contact. She also truly listened to me when I told her I was in pain and really worked with me.

One day on her massage table, I looked up and told her I wanted to do what she does and she told me that I could. All of my doctors shot down my dreams and said I wouldn’t be able to do anything. They said I’d be in a wheel chair by the time I was 45. Nina believed in me.

I want to help people that are like me or even older people. One time I got to help a special needs girl who was ready to live on her own and get a job, but she’d never been touched!

I want to help people the way that Nina helped me.

What advice do you have for anyone dealing with Fibromyalgia?

Cry as much as you need to, but make sure to laugh it off.

F*** the people who say your disease is just in your head. It’s real. Don’t let them make you second guess yourself. No one truly knows what you’re feeling except for you. Fight for yourself.

I think the the most important piece of advice I have is to find your support group and hold on tight. If I didn’t have my mom who did anything and everything she could to make me feel better, I don’t know where I’d be. If I didn’t have such understanding friends who supported me and never let me be alone when I was sad, I don’t think I’d be here today. Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is not lucky, but being blessed with my support group was the luckiest thing that happened to me.

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Winnie H. has been through so many trials and tribulations due to her early diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Her mother did everything she could for her, but still worried that one day she’d come home to find her daughter dead. Thanks to Winnie’s strong soul, determined mind and loving support system, this inspirational young woman is on her way to change lives. She has overcome the odds and will continue to do so throughout her entire life.

Those of you who are reading this and suffering from Fibromyalgia, know that you are not alone. Your pain is REAL.

anxiety attack

Everything feels wrong.

When you notice the sound that the air makes And how round the sky is, fitting perfectly on top of our fish bowl of An atmosphere we swim on and float on and think on and breathe on. And nothing and everything makes sense When you realize your brain is just a dense formation of tiny living things. It’s like your mind is as solid as a bird’s wings But as abstract and surreal as nameless other things. And your breath is moving up to speed. And your heart pumps so fast, like it’s trying to scream But your head won’t allow it. Society says it’s wrong and you say it doesn’t matter But you’re trapped in a song thats been playing for hours. Repeating and repeating for days on end And you wish it would stop. Please, please, let it end. I think that I’m dying and no one believes me. I can’t breathe anymore and no one can see me. What have I done to deserve such despair? These hands won’t stop shaking and pulling my hair. Why does nobody care That the air isn’t still And my lungs and my heart move by their own will? How can we explain this strange place where we live? Heart is slowing now. Something’s gotta give.

I just need to sleep. I’ll feel better tomorrow. Until next time, Anxiety. It’s your turn now, Sorrow.

Morning Commute

There is

A downtown local 6 train to

Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall

Approaching the station.

Please stand away from the platform edge.

Each morning on my way to my unpaid,

Sad and lonely

Unfulfilling internship, I wonder

What if it’s pulling me under?

What if I didn’t stand away from the edge?

What if I let myself go?

Because lord knows

I can’t take this 9 to 5 anymore.

But each morning I close

Off those thoughts and step into the closing doors.

Practicing balance in the middle of a subway train,

Closing my eyes, pretending not to feel my pain,

But in my mind, I see you and your new lover

And it drives me insane.

The anger, the envy,

The regret and disdain–

I put in my headphones.

But despite this crowded train car,

I still feel so alone.

Sometimes I want to cry because the world is so beautiful

And yet, I’m never truly satisfied.

If only I could express my feelings the way that artists do–

If I could paint my sadness when I look at you.

Leaves are falling but they’re still green.

What does this mean?

Why do the good die young

And why does this cold air fill my lungs

Leaving so many words left unsung?

The ground below me feels hallow and yet

I continue on with these heavy steps,

Choking on emotions too hard to swallow.

And I hope that I’ll fall through.

Maybe the soil and cement will cover me

And maybe you will be the one to discover me.

Or maybe the hallow ground under me will be my escape.

I know nothing of my fate;

I only hope these thoughts dissipate.

I hope I can forgive myself for my mistakes.

Ali’s Story: A Look Inside the life of a Female Marine and a Single Mother

We used to be dancers.

From the ages of 2 to 18, I took classes in ballet, tap dance, jazz dance, lyrical and a bit of tumbling. Since I’m a woman who does not hide her femininity and frankly hates doing hard labor or even the thought of being outside or sweating, I fit the stereotype that many people hold in their minds when they envision a ballerina.

However, during my time as a dancer I met one of my very best friends, Ali O. Ali did not, and still does not, fit the ballerina stereotype. She is hardworking, adventurous, outdoorsy and strong. She is a Marine.

Ali danced for 16 years, just like I did. When we graduated high school, Ali said to me, “Could you see this graceful ballerina being a Marine?”

Although I was shocked, I knew that Ali had much more grit than I. She’s a farmer’s daughter, and worked in her dad’s watermelon fields practically from the time she could walk.(Side bar: She asked me to work with her when I was in middle school and I barely made it 4 hours out there. She still makes fun of me for how much I whined, but it is NOT an easy job!!)

Being a female Marine is not the only badass thing about her. When Ali was active in the Marine Corps, she also became a single mother.

Ali was stationed in Japan, California and Virginia. After serving 7 and a half years in active duty, she is now back in Indiana with her 5-year-old son.

This summer, I got to catch up with Ali and ask her questions about her experience as a Marine and as a single mom.

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Why did you decide to join the Marine Corps in the first place?

I kind of had mixed emotions about going to college. I saw my friends going places for school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to study, so, why pay for the degree? School’s not my thing. I wanted to do something different for myself.

What was the most difficult part of being a Marine for you?

I would say just overcoming the trials you face as a female Marine. There are a lot of standards that are supposed to be held equally, but they’re not. They never are.

Let’s dig deeper into that. Women are constantly portrayed as “weak” or “too emotional” in today’s society. Did you ever have an encounter where someone in the Marines made you feel “weak” for being a woman?

Oh yea. One example where you’re looked at as weak is that typically women don’t run as fast as men. Look at how the physical exams are scored: a female would have to run 3 miles in 20 minutes for a “perfect score,” where a man’s “perfect score” would require him running the same distance in 17 minutes. Even if a woman got a “perfect score” of 20 minutes, the men still saw her as “less-than” because it’s not as fast as them.

What other things happened to you as a Marine that made you feel “less-than” or that lead your male counterparts to wrongfully judge you?

I had a boss once that would make me come into his office to write on his whiteboard. He told me he thought my handwriting was better than others’, but really, he was looking at my butt as I wrote. He made me do all kinds of other tasks for him too. If I refused to work for him, he’d send me out to the field. If I went to the field, I had to leave my kid behind for months on end, so I had no choice. When I did this work for him though, the other male Marines would think I was getting some sort of special treatment for being a woman. In actuality, I was being used and not treated well at all!

(I didn’t know what “the field” meant, so I asked her to explain it. Going to the field means going out in the middle of nowhere, usually in a desert area. Out there you do a lot of driving and logistics. Still confused?? Me too.)

Now let’s talk about the stereotype of women being “too emotional.” What did you encounter in your time as a Marine that was caused by this stereotype?

I was a Marine Sergeant, and a female at that. Since I was the boss to so many men, I had to control my emotions in order to get their respect. For example, if I didn’t yell at them all the time, they wouldn’t take me seriously and try to walk all over me. On the other hand, if I did yell at them, they’d call me a crazy bitch!

What about other female Marines that you worked with? Were they treated differently because they were women?

Yes. No matter a woman’s rank, she was treated differently. If a woman was treated well, other men would say she was getting “special treatment” and didn’t deserve it. If a woman was screamed at by her higher-up, the men would say something like, “that was nothing compared to the way he screamed at me earlier!” It was like nothing we ever got was merited or just, good or bad.

What do you think about the stereotypes of women being “weak” or “ruled by emotion”?

I don’t think I’m weak or too emotional. I understand why the stereotypes exist though. Yes, women typically express emotion more than men do. Yes, I can’t run as fast as a man…Whoop-dee-doo! However, I rose in the ranks for a reason, and there are other “manly” things I can do 10 times better than my male counterparts. I think the issue is that women can usually understand both sides, but men typically don’t see from a woman’s point of view.

Let’s switch gears now. I know that you had your son while on active duty. Tell me about this! Did you feel judged? Did you feel supported?

It’s a crazy story. Well, my son happened when my mom and sister came to Japan (where I was stationed) for vacation. When they came, my son’s dad and I had to ask for leave to go on vacation too.

His dad was a corporal at the time and I was a lance corporal then. It already looked bad that two higher-ups in the Marines were dating. Well, when we asked for the time off, my commanding officer said to me, “I’ll let you two go together out of the kindness of my heart, but don’t let anything happen.” This was him telling me not to get pregnant. So, when I came back pregnant it was a huge ordeal. (Side bar: I personally think it’s hilarious that she DID get pregnant on the trip after her commanding officer told her she couldn’t. Maybe I just revel in chaos and rebellion, but it’s a great way to stick it to the man, I think!)

The Marines only see you as a number, as an asset to the Corps. They don’t even pretend to care about your mental health, your family life…nothing.

Tell me more about being treated as a number. How did this affect you where pregnant?

Well, one example is when I worked as a dispatcher. Basically, I had to stay in the shop from the time a truck left until the truck came back. One time they had me stay in the shop for weeks on end, pregnant, only eating tuna and crackers. They didn’t take my pregnancy or my baby’s health into consideration when they sent me out there.

Another example of this lack of concern for my baby’s well-being was when they had me come support securing trucks before a typhoon. Before a big storm like that, they make you come immediately, as you are, to clear out weapons and things from trucks. I came as I was, in flip-flops and shorts, to work in the pouring rain when I was pregnant. I stepped into a wet truck, slipped, and fell flat on my face. I was pregnant! That was when I started to think, “f*** all of this!”

There are other things like that I could tell you about, but being pregnant in the Marines was challenging in every aspect. You’re looked down upon for even going to a doctor’s appointment. They have me for life and I could barely take an hour to get an ultrasound!

I know that you and your son’s father did not stay together after your son was born, but we won’t go into details of that. What was it like to be a single mom while you were on active duty?

It’s difficult to have a family and be in the Marine Corps. Male bosses just don’t seem to care that you have a child to take care of. Say that they’re looking for someone to do a task…they don’t take you having a child into consideration when they choose someone for it.

A more specific example is when they sent me to the field for months. I couldn’t take my son with me, so I had to fly with him to Indiana to stay at my parents’ house. Then I’d have to fly back to where I was stationed. The money I had to spend on airline tickets was astronomical!

I also would be looked down upon if I didn’t go work out with the marines at 5:30 AM, so I’d have to get him up at 4:30 to bring him to a sitter…just to work out!

In general, it was very overwhelming to balance my duties as a mom and a Marine. Since we had to move around a lot, my son’s behavior was changed a lot and it was a lot to handle. I’d have breakdowns from the stress!

What do you do now that you’re no longer in active duty? How do you balance that with your duties of being a mother?

I’m in school now and we’re living at my parents’ house. I was working working part time, too, but I wasn’t making enough money. I decided it was better to just be a full time student. It’s god awful living with my parents again, but it’s what I need right now.

You would think that I’d feel better at balancing duties, but because of COVID-19, my son is home all the time and asking me to play when I’m trying to do school work. It’s really hard to be the mom that gets to play with her kid AND be the student that gets A’s.

What are some of the positives of being a single mother to your son?

My son and I are pretty much best buds and I know that he thinks the world of me. Even though it would be nice to have some help and someone to lean on, you also don’t have someone telling you exactly how to raise your child. It’s all up to you!

What advice or words of inspiration do you have for current or future single mamas?

Don’t stress out about the little things!

Don’t let someone tell you how to parent; you know what’s best for your child.

Most importantly, if a family member does not want to be in your child’s life, do not try to force it. If someone wants to know and love your kid, they will make an effort.

What advice do you have for women that are thinking of joining the Marine Corps?

Make sure that you are physically and emotionally in the right space. Weigh the options and decide if it’s what is best for you now. Do you want to start a family soon? Think it over before you decide to join.

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Ali O. is and always has been one of the strongest people I know. Her son has been through a lot of changes in his 5 years of life, but he is kind, smart, funny and well-rounded, all thanks to his devoted mother. She is constantly breaking stereotypes and, I believe, is an inspiration for all women out there.

Why You Should Watch “How I Met Your Mother”

I’m incredibly aware of how annoying people can be talking about HIMYM and constantly quoting different episodes…but, you know what?  This television show is truly the best sitcom that ever aired, and here’s why:

1) Ted Mosby
Theodore Evelyn Mosby is not only an adorable, quirky romantic who just can’t seem to find the right girl.  He’s also someone to look towards for encouragement.  The thing I love the most about HIMYM is how absolutely real the episodes can make you feel.  Ted goes through HELL to find his happy ending.  He gets beat up by goat, he gets left at the alter, his favorite (and most hideous) pair of red cowboy boots get set on fire and flung out a two story window.  He struggles for years to finally get recognized as an architect, only to find out that his real passion is teaching.  The obstacles that Ted Mosby has to go through are funny and well-written, but also very relatable.  No matter how bad it gets for him, he ends up happy..and that is something we should keep in mind when we think that things could only get worse.

2) Relatable Characters
Ted is not the only character that one can relate with.  The beautiful thing about HIMYM is that all of the characters probably reflect a tiny piece of yourself that you may or may not always notice.  For example, I relate to Robin‘s restlessness.  She does want to find love, but she always puts herself and her job and her travels before any man she meets, even if they could be a perfect match (cough, Ted).


I relate to the carelessness of Barney which is deep seeded in his abandonment by his father.  *daddy issues*


I relate to Lily‘s constant dream quest. She loves teaching kindergarten, but she always has that head cannon to one day be an artist.  Her determination is actually very admirable, because after everything she and Marshall go through, she gets to move to Rome and be an art consultant for a year.  This is a trait we should all hold to forever.  Never lose your will to do what you love. (Watch season 6, episode 3  “Unfinished” when you’re feeling discouraged about your goals.  It’s my absolute favorite).


Lastly, I relate to Marshall‘s heart.  He is very family oriented and shows it in his relationship with his father and also with Lily.  He underlines the importance of complete love and family bonds.  He also sings everything he does which I catch myself doing as well.

3)Life Lessons
If I could meet the writers of this show, I’d probably cry because they have influenced me so much, but I’d also applaud them akwardly by myself.  HIMYM is more than a hilarious sitcom of 5 friends living in NYC.  It has some serious life lessons embedded. I’ll list a few that I think stand out.


“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” 
seriously, just go to bed.


“Never invite an ex to a wedding.”
This shows its importance at Lily & Marshall’s wedding, and at Ted & Stella’s wedding. It also does at Barney & Robin’s wedding, because Ted tries to be a romantic with Robin, yet again, and gets into a huge fight with Barney.  Yikes.

The Murtaugh list is bull shit
In season 4, Barney want’s to toilet paper the laser tag arena because they banned him for being too rough with the kids, but Ted says he’s too old for that.  So Barney is all, “challenge accepted” and tries to do a bunch of stupid things that Ted says he’s too old for which ends up almost killing him.  However, in the end Ted points out that the Murtaugh list is stupid because you can never be “too old” and they go TP the laser tag place anyway.  Basically, the moral of this is to keep doing childish things if it feels right to you.  Release your inner kid.


Long distance relationships are “just awful”
Ted says this when he’s talking about Victoria moving to Germany.  He ended up cheating on her because he could barely remember what Victoria looked like and they rarely talked.  Honestly though, I know first hand that they really don’t work like 90% of the time, so I definitely agree with Ted.
It’s important to laugh at yourself
Robin is the poster child for embarrassing moments.  She was Robin Sparkles, for crying out loud…even though I actually love her songs, but that’s another story.  Anyway, there’s an episode where Robin’s coworker, Sandy Rivers, shows everyone all of her embarrassing videos.  She has a lot, too.  She spent so much time trying to figure out how to get revenge, but Ted tells her to just laugh along with them.  When she finally does that, she was so relieved.
Everyone has embarrassing stories.  We’re stupid, silly humans.  You can’t hide them forever, so you may as well laugh about them.


Finding love takes patience
Not everyone will find a Lily and Marshall relationship, and that’s okay.  Heck, some people may not even be cut out for love, like Barney.  The biggest life lesson in HIMYM is to never be discouraged if your life doesn’t turn out like the movies.  Everyone is dealt a different hand and as long as you truly know yourself and what you want want, you’ll find happiness in the end.
“I think for the most part, if you’re really honest with yourself about what you want out of life, life gives it to you.”


I could go on for hours about why I love HIMYM, but I won’t do that.  However, now when you’re like “why are people so obsessed with this tv show” you’ll understand my reasoning and maybe you’ll watch it to feel better as well.  Trust me, it works.

Irish English Oddities

I read in a book once that American English is technically closer to what Shakespeare would have spoken than British English today.  This goes back to, of course, the settlement of the first American colonies.  We kept the same style of English as our forefathers (mostly) while it later changed over in England.  This is why there are different words for the same thing in England, for example, “tap” versus “faucet.”  Now this is really interesting but…what about Irish English?

Although you may not realize this, Irish English has loads of different expressions, pronunciations and quirks that standard British English does not have, and even more so when comparing it to American English!  So, since I’m an American who’s obsessed with linguistics and used to live in Ireland, I figured it would be silly for me to not write an entry about the oddities I’ve heard over there from my lovely Irish friends.

1) The “like” tag

My fellow Americans and I are very aware of the word “like” and whether we like it or not, we use this word probably way too often than ever necessary.  The Irish, however, also use “like” quite often, but in a very different way!  Instead of weaving “like” several times into a sentence, they add it on just at the end of sentences.  Here are some examples:

American: “I know that I, like, did this myself and, like, probably should have studied more.”

Irish: “I know I should have studied more.  I did it to myself, like.

This “like” tag sounds VERY weird at first to an American ear, but you adjust to it and honestly, if I heard an Irish person using “like” the same way I did, it would feel like it was forced.  Just like when an American tries to use the “like” tag in order to assimilate into Ireland…it just doesn’t seem to work.

2) The “so” tag

I’m going to be honest, I’m not 100% sure about when this can be used.  I’ve tried finding an American equivalent, but it’s difficult.  Basically, Irish people like to add “so” to the end of sentences sometimes.  One case I’ve heard it used is something like an American adding “then” to the end of a sentence.

American: Maybe I’ll do that then.

Irish: Maybe I’ll do that so.

This could be wrong, however.  If anyone understands this phenomenon, please explain.

3) “C’mere” (come here)

My closest friend here uses this all the time (actually she uses all of the things I’m pointing out, so sorry to pick on ya).  When getting someone’s attention to say something, they’ll say, “c’mere” as if you need to come closer but, really, you don’t need to.  I was so confused by this at first because I’d be sitting right next to my friend and she’d be like “but c’mere what do you think of the assignment so far?”  And I’d awkwardly move closer as if she’s about to tell me some big secret.  But nope.  It’s just a statement opener, I suppose.

4) “Now!”

This is one of those things that you never notice but when you do, you can never un-notice it.  It’s adorable.  Basically, at the start of any given sentence or action, and Irish person might say, “now!”

For example:

Now! Where do you want to go for lunch?”

“Now!” *stands up to buy coffee.*

*sits back down and opens laptop* “Now!” *starts reading emails*

Literally, this can be used for anything and has no particular meaning other than the start of a phrase or action.

5) “Sure didn’t (he)”

Yet another confusing oddity of Irish English is the “sure didn’t.”  Okay, the way that Irish people use this is confusing to an American ear because it almost sounds like they’re asking you for clarity or reassurance…but it also doesn’t make sense for them to need to ask.  Let me just show an example:

Irish: “I worked so hard on that essay and sure didn’t the professor go and fail me.”

American: “did he?  I think that’s what you told me earlier…or did he not? Wait, why are you asking me???”

My Irish friend and I discovered the use of this expression, though.  It’s kind of like, “…and can you believe he went and failed me?” or “…and he went and failed me anyway!”  I guess, it’s an expression of shock or disbelief of the sort.

6) “Ye”

I don’t believe that this one is difficult for an American ear to understand, because we’ve heard this used in old-timey movies and whatnot. “Hear ye! Hear ye!” <– ring a bell?

Anyway, “ye” is the pronoun for plural you.  American English doesn’t use “ye” but we realize that it can be confusing to say “you” when referring to more than one person.  This is why Americans will say “you guys” or “you all” or the ever-beloved, “y’all.”

This is the correct pronoun for plural you in old English, so really I suppose it’s just something they never got rid of.  I love it though!

7) “You alright?”

This is only odd for Americans to hear because of the circumstances.  When you enter a bar or sit down at a table at a pub, the bartender or server asks, “you alright?”

This used to bother me because it always caught me off guard and I’d forget how to order a beer.  I’d be like “oh yea I’m fine thanks uhhh Guinness??”  It’s like in America when someone is walking past you and shouts “what’s up?” as if you can tell them what you’re about to go do while walking AWAY from them.  How do you respond??  I always want to tell waitresses that I’m not-so-alright because I’m hangry and don’t wanna talk about my feelings although they’ve insisted you tell them your current state of being, or alrightness.

I’m honestly still a bit taken aback when they ask “you alright” but I’ve gotten used to ignoring their question and just politely ordering.

8) “Ju”

This doesn’t need to much explaining.  Basically, “did you” or “do you” just squishes together into “ju.”  They not only use this orally, but they also text it.

9) “Your man” or “Your one”

This phrase still makes me giggle. So, say you’re in a bar and you’ve told your friends that a guy sitting a table over is total jackass. They might say something like “How did you meet your man?”

As an American, I’d be like, “my MAN??” He’s the farthest thing from being MY MAN!! However, when an Irish person uses the phrase “your man” or “your one,” they’re only referencing someone. It doesn’t even have to be a reference to someone you’ve already talked about. Maybe your Irish friend sees someone wearing a tacky outfit and says “Your one looks ready for the circus.”

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I realize that I could write forever on this topic and there are also so many things I could say about pronunciations and accents, but I feel like the 9 things listed got my point across.  Irish English is indeed different from American English and can be rather puzzling sometimes!  I hope this helps you all understand someone if you’re traveling to Ireland or maybe you can fake a few of these to make Irish people think you’re Irish. (Trust me, they will not fall for that, but give it a go).

Climate Change: Tipping the Scale

In 2017, I had the opportunity to work as a writer for a United Nations movement, Every Woman Every Child. This groundbreaking group of 8 or so people working in the basement of the UN building are fighting for advocacy and mobilization of government efforts to support women and children around the world. During my time there, I focused on writing articles that affect the entire world population, which in turn, affect the health and safety of women and children everywhere.

In November of 2017, I was given the assignment to write an article over climate change. I immediately thought back to growing up in small-town Indiana, where many people either believed that climate change was a hoax, or that it probably existed, but it was not a personal problem, and therefore, should just be ignored.

Climate change is still a very real threat to our planet, so I updated my article a bit and posted it below.

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“I don’t care about climate change.  It doesn’t affect me.”

The glaciers are melting. For example, the glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains in Africa used to close off surrounding regions with freezing “microclimates.” These freezing temperatures would not allow malaria-carrying mosquitoes to live, which protected the people from this deadly disease. Now that the ice is melting, the area is being plagued by malaria.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

Due to rising temperatures and drought, Australia has been hit by devastating bushfire. The air is toxic, many homes have been destroyed and lives have been lost.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

Our coastlines are shrinking. As aforementioned, the glaciers are melting, causing the sea level to rise. In warmer areas, greenhouse gases are heating up the ocean which also causes the water to expand. The rise in sea level is already revealing permanent damage. For example, flooding in Georgia from hurricane Irma destroyed massive amounts of property. According to Wabe.org, Georgia property value has even dropped by $15 million due to flooding risks.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

The gasoline in your car, the hairspray keeping your curls together, the cold air blowing from your bedroom window unit: These are nothing but a simple part of your everyday routine. These parts of our lives are etched, engrained into our psyche. We do them without thought. It’s like when you drive home from work on autopilot every night– you no longer think about the fact that are you are driving a 2-ton vehicle at 60 MPH and the danger you might encounter. These seemingly harmless routines not only affect our planet, but they CAN and WILL affect YOU.

Pollution 

Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today and no country is unaffected by it. It is human activities including industrialization, urbanization and globalization that drive pollution.

STATS:

  • Nearly 90% of the population living in cities worldwide is breathing air that fails to meet WHO air quality guideline limits.
  • At least 12.6 million people die each year because of preventable environmental causes, like pneumonia, diarrhea and cholera.
  • Even in your own homes, air pollution is a threat to your health. WHO estimates that 3.8 million people die every year from household air pollution and 50% of all pneumonia deaths in children under 5 are caused by household air pollution.

Pollution is a symptom and unintended consequence of unhealthy and unsustainable development. If we want to reduce the environmental burden of disease globally, we must address the sources of pollution to cultivate a healthier and safer environment.

Thankfully, according to World Wild Life, about 6 in 10 Americans today find climate change alarming– this number has nearly doubled in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, this is not enough to start making real changes to the harm we’ve already made.

We need to care about climate change and pollution. It’s up to us to tip the scale.

Sources:

worldwildlife.org

climatecouncil.org

wabe.org

who.int