Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Summer Snowman

One of the things I LOVE about living in Hawaii is the perpetual summer. It does get old sometimes, especially when it's too hot (which it is about four months out of the year), but most of the time it's pretty great.

And seriously, how often can you go up a snowy mountain, get some snow and build a snowman on the beach?


Friday, January 31, 2014

Harmless

Dear Xty'Alm,

I've just survived one of the most harrowing nights I've experienced in a long time. The fact that I'm writing this is a testimony that I survived well enough, but the psychological trauma is going to take awhile to get over.

Remember when I mentioned that spiders are the size of Mount Everest? Well last night I had the opportunity to meet one as big as planet earth itself.

Here's how it happened:

It all started innocently enough. I had just got home after a freezing moped ride through the dark streets of the town I live in and was getting ready for bed. My roomies had long ago gone to sleep and the house was dark and quiet. I rearranged the curtains in my room for maximum light blocking and tossed my pile of decorative pillows on the floor. Pulling back the sheets I sat near the head of my bed to plug in my phone.

Cue creepy horror/suspense music and slowly, painfully, crank it to its most horrifying, hair-raising and suspenseful volume.

As I leaned down towards the floor, plug in hand, I was sadly unaware that just inches from my head a HUGE, hairy, thick legged, glittery-eyed cane spider waited gleefully to scare the living crap out of me. It makes me shudder to think about.

These cane spiders are no normal spider. They're also called huntsman spiders, banana spiders and giant crab spiders.

They don't spin webs because they can't be bothered with silly trivial things like pulling silk out of their backend. They STALK their prey like a freaking panther in the jungle and they have big powerful jaws that can crack open cockroaches.  Their legs alone can extend five inches out from their hairy body.

And, worse yet, their eyes glow!!!!!!!! (I say in a hysterical voice). In reality, they just reflect light like a cat's eyes, but STILL.

SPIDERS SHOULD NOT HAVE GLOWY EYES.

This should be the law of the universe.

But as many people have told me, cane spiders are "harmless" meaning a bite won't send you to the ER with a bad case of rotting flesh or that condition commonly referred to as death. Yay... I guess. But can you really call this creature (which is as big as my hand) harmless?



I don't know what it's like on your planet, Xty'Alm, if you have creatures that bring on irrational fear, but here on earth, we humans are really good at being afraid of things that are, in and of themselves, harmless. But just because they don't bite or sting or kill doesn't mean they're not full of evil and death.

Here's a list of three ways "harmless" spiders can kill you:

1. Large, hairy, monster-sized Harmless Spider crawls onto the chest of Subject 1 while he's chopping up chicken for dinner. In an attempt to swat it away, Subject 1 stabs himself in the heart.

2. Harmless Spider, while giggling maniacally to itself as it leaves Subject 1 to die in a pool of blood, methodically makes it's way towards the bathroom, where Subject 2 is innocently taking a bath. You can imagine what happens next. Hysterical screaming. Thrashing about. Waves of bath water tsunami everywhere. Shower curtain falling down. Arms, legs, shower curtain and water all getting tangled up. Gurgling. Bubbles. Stillness.

3. Subject 3 is in the backyard, hunched over a power saw. Even without the din of the saw, the approach of Harmless Spider would be silent. You see, before graduating from Harmless Spider School, all arachnids are put through rigorous stealthiness training.

Perched on an overhanging tree branch, Harmless Spider stealthily deploys his internal rappelling line and slowly descends towards Subject 3's face. Five seconds later, it's a gory scene full of missing appendages and severed arteries and Harmless Spider skittering away laughing like a psychopath, looking for his next victim.

So you see, Harmless Spiders are very dangerous. They kill. They maim. They terrorize. It's all part of their grand scheme to take over the world.

Anyway, back to my story.

At this point, the suspenseful horror music has gone completely, eerily silent. I arranged my pillow, brush aside the curtain that sometimes flutters over my face and there it was. A foot from my face. Nearly in my bed with me.

Since it was late and roomie was innocently sleeping across the room, my normal full-throated scream reserved for large monsters came out as a high pitched gurgling EEEEEEEEP!!

Spider was as big as my hand, Xty'Alm, I'm not kidding. And in the time it took me to jump off my bed and run in circles trying to decide what to do, it had skittered down the wall, disappearing behind my pillow.

Despite my best efforts, my muffled scream had woken roomie, which was actually fine with me because there was no way I was going into this battle alone. She had just glimpsed the thing as it disappeared under my bed and uttered a sleepy slur of increasingly surprised and coherent words.

I handed her a flashlight and a mop. I armed myself with a broom. This monster was going down.

Thirty minutes later the room was a complete disaster. We had ripped my mattress off and turned the large piece of plywood that makes up my bed frame upside-down. Everything was moved to the opposite side of the room and we stood on little mountains of clothes and pillows, too afraid to put our feet on the floor.

The underneath of roomie's bed had been gutted and we painstakingly checked behind every bookcase, curtain, pillow and dust bunny, all while that horrifying suspenseful soundtrack kept playing in my head. I took a picture so I could show you the battlefield.



I just knew Spider was going to jump out at any second. It was going to run up my leg or down my head and I was going to DIE. My headstone would read, "And She was Killed by a Harmless Spider" and all the parents would point to my grave and tell their children to beware of harmless things because they might kill you.

No doubt the creepy cane spider was off in some dark corner giggling to itself as it watched roomie and I look in all the wrong places. Where could a gigantic spider go without us noticing?

It was 2 am and we knew we had to sleep. I drug my mattress out into the living room and roomie took up residence on the couch. I tried to think about rainbows and kittens and sunsets and cute things and I pulled my blankets over my head nearly suffocating myself.

And that's where the story ends. We never found the spider and the next night I had to go back to sleeping in my own room, trying not to imagine it crawling over my face while my eyes were closed.

The lack of resolution haunts me; I keep finding myself looking over my shoulder, jumping at any movement I catch from the corner of my eye. My subconscious is constantly making up different endings to the story.....

Spider went to greet the mailman by hiding out in the mailbox and died of starvation. 

Spider lost an epic battle against an organized and highly armed brigade of cockroaches.

Spider decided to learn how to swim during one of the afternoon downpours and drowned. 

Spider decided to go back to college and his brain exploded from all the studying.

I don't know if I'll ever get the resolution I want, Xty'Alm. I think I'm just going to have to live with this. Do you have any highly advanced gadgets on your planet that take away fears? If so, could you please send me one in the mail? Thanks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The human experience

Since my brain is still having problems with writers block, writing to letters to my alien friend from Zebrine seems to be the only way to get things out of my head. Here's my most recent correspondence:

Dear Xty'Alm,

Thanks for responding so quickly to my previous letter and with such detail. It's interesting and kind of creepy/fascinating/disturbing/intriguing that there's an entire field of education on your planet dedicated to the study humans called Humanology.

I have to admit it's pretty unsettling to know that humanology scientists on Zebrine grow humans for study and that at the end of it, these humans are recycled into new parts to grow more humans. I'm relieved that these lab-humans don't have the capacity for consciousness but it's still brings up a whole bunch of questions.

Like for example, do you see us as inferior to you?

We're pretty convinced as a race that we're super awesome so being reduced to lab-rat status by aliens on a different planet is a big blow to our pride.

And also, are you sure these lab-humans aren't conscious and could never be conscious at some point in the future?

If the answer is yes, then the people of Earth would probably have a big problem with this method of research. We don't usually condone experimenting on and killing humans. It's pretty ingrained in us that killing others is wrong. We have a lot of laws about it and serious punishments for people do it. It's a crime.

On the other hand, if those lab-human are unborn fetuses then Earthlings would probably look the other way. Most humans seem to have no problem giving people the option of killing their own, very young human babies that are well on their way to becoming fully functional, living, breathing, conscious people.

We also are very ambiguous when it comes to killing people to promote certain agendas. For instance if a government or a religious organization wants to promote their way of thinking they may justify killing a LOT of people to do it. And it won't necessarily be considered wrong or a crime. It just depends on which side you're on.

I know this doesn't make sense. Believe me, I don't understand it either. But I do know that when it comes to killing humans, we humans like to be the ones that do it.

I didn't mean to get side tracked by this issue but thought you'd appreciate a glimpse into some of our human complexities. I'm really relieved to hear that your particular field of humanology focuses more on sociology than on physical dissection and that I don't have to fear becoming a lab rat one day.

Since you're interested in the day to day life of humans let me tell you what I've been up to the last two days. It's not all that interesting so I'll just use key words.

Moving storage stuff. Kidnapper Van. Drive Salem to Portland. New tiny storage unit. Smoker manager guy says no living in storage unit. Darn. There goes that idea. Unload. WINDY. Rain. Oregon. Surprised? No. Drive away. Dodge falling branches. See rainbows. Dodge rolling Christmas tree. Trade Kidnapper Van for green car. Go to friends house. More packing. And packing. And packing. And throwing things away. And giving things away. And emptying out boxes. And stuffing suitcases. And repacking suitcases. And wishing there was no 50 pound limit.

GO TO FRIENDS BIRTHDAY PARTY!! Finally. Something FUN to do. Friends are awesome. Why are my friends all living around the world? I want them living wherever I live... please? Eat yummy food. Sing birthday song. Whack-a-mole friend comments about being the whack-a-mole friend (see previous post). Say awesome things about birthday girl. Take photos. Laughing. Gifts. Good.

So I'm really bad at that whole thing where we have an "official" time to go around a circle of friends and say nice things about the person being celebrated. When someone suggests it, like what happened yesterday at the birthday party, I immediately break out in a cold sweat. My heart rate goes up. I start blinking a lot. Even if I was just thinking about how awesome that person is I suddenly draw a complete blank. I squirm uncomfortably. I can't concentrate on anything anyone else says, except to think, darn it they stole my nice thing. Now I have NOTHING.

The root of the problem is that I'm terrible at giving words of affirmation. It's the "words" part that trips me up. I'm much better at "doing" words of affirmation. And by doing I mean hanging out.

If I purposely choose to spend time with you, if I go out of my way to see you or invite you to hang out with me, then that means I like you.

Of course words are still necessary and I naturally squeak out a few here and there, but it really takes work to coherently articulate my feelings of liking-ness. Words of affirmation can feel fake, contrived, made up, and insincere when they roll off my tongue, even when they're completely genuine.

Actions, on the other hand, sort of feel more real, more authentic, harder to fake. I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm a quality time girl. I love receiving affirmation and really need to hear it sometimes, but invite me to spend some good, solid, quality time with you and I'll know you like me.

Well there you have it, Xty'Alm. That's as much human experience as I can muster at this point.

I have a question for you. Why do you have an apostrophe in your name? I've noticed that lot of aliens use apostrophes in their names and they're not even from the same planet as you. For example Teal'c, Bra'tac and the Toc'ra, Kal'el and Jor'el to name a few.

This is a question I've had for a long time. Any light you could shed on the topic would be fantastic.

Also, how far away is your planet from us and how are you able to send me letters without it taking years? Have you conquered the problem of time dilation when and object nears the speed of light?

Some think I'm a nerd for knowing about this sort of stuff but it obviously has real-world application when it comes to sending letters across galaxies.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dear Alien

I frequently sit down at my computer bursting with things to blog about. I open blogger with naive anticipation and... and... and then my mind goes as blank. Poof and everything is gone. Everything. My motivation. My stories. My desire to articulate myself in a way that others can understand and maybe appreciate in some way.

So I've come up with a solution. Well I hope it's a solution. I have yet to put it to the test so I guess I'll find out.

Here's my plan.

Write my blog as a letter to an alien. From another planet. Who doesn't understand life on Earth. Before you think I'm completely bonkers, let me demonstrate.

Dear Xty'Alm,

Thank you for you recent correspondence. I'd be delighted to help the people of planet Zebrine understand the humans of planet Earth better by writing to you about my daily experiences. I'll try to be as uncensored as I can, sparing no gritty detail so you can have an accurate picture of what life on earth is like.

I feel like I need warn you, though; humans don't all experience the same thing. My life doesn't represent all of humanity. You mentioned that you and your .... er... people? kind? have the ability to tap into a "shared consciousness" whenever you want. Wow, I don't even know what that means, but I'm impressed. Where I live we pretty much worship our independence and are proud of our ability to think on our own, even thought it gets us in trouble sometimes. Asians, on the other hand, would probably love to learn about this ability. They show a lot of promise in communal thinking.

Your request for "human stories" couldn't come at a better time. My life feels a little dramatic right now. Last night I spent an hour writing out my schedule for the next five days hour by hour so I could keep track of what I'm going to do. Of course I blocked some hours together, like sleeping and driving long distances....

(I'm not sure how literal you Zebrinese are but you'll discover that I exaggerate sometimes. My exaggerations are actually a more accurate representation of what I'm experiencing than a clinical description of the event. That means I use words like enormous and gigantic and bigger than Mount Everest to describe spiders because that's how I'm experiencing the moment. So my exaggerations are actually more truthful to me than the scientific fact. Spiders are in fact bigger than Mount Everest).

Back to my schedule. Last night I spent a gazillion hours writing an extremely detailed account of what I'm going to be doing the next couple of days because my poor brain can't keep it all straight.

Today, my schedule and subsequent reality went like this:

8:45 Wake up and drink coffee and tell my friends about the really weird dreams I had about my car. My subconscious is probably nervous about picking up my car from the Russian mafia mechanic later today (see 2:45).

10:00-1 pm Go to Walmart and the DMV and go downtown to try and sell books that are cluttering up my storage unit and then go to Victoria's Secret where they're having an awesome sale... because there's always time for that.

1-1:30 Devour a quick lunch and pack for an overnight stay at a friends house and clean my crap out of the communal living space.

1:30-2:45 Pick up car from the mechanic who is in league with the Russian mafia. You need to plan at least an hour of nice, innocent small talk full of "da" and "nyet" and "spasiba"... especially that last one in reference to when he's telling you that he's decided not to kill you this time.

2:45 Car swap! Switch my newly fixed car with the famed KIDNAPPER VAN and proceed to drive the hour from Salem to my Portland storage unit looking extremely shady. Wearing dark sunglasses and tailing people helps this image. This van is industrial sized, has no windows behind the front seat and has some strategically placed dents that make it look like people are trying to fight their way out from the inside.

3-4 Get stuck in traffic.

4-5 Arrive at my storage unit and dig through my remaining boxes. How can one person have so much stuff!

5-6 Pack the Kidnapper Van with all my earthly belongings, a huge bag of stuff I've decided belongs to the dumpster and two overflowing boxes for Goodwill or YWAMers.

6-10 Enjoy a relaxing dinner in Portland with some of my good friends who, like the game Whack-a-Mole, have a tendency to pop up in the most unexpected places, which is definitely a good thing. Homemade crab cakes, bismati rice and kale for dinner and creme brulee for dessert. YUM!

10-11 Drive Kidnapper Van to an appropriately sketchy part of town and perform a drop that could look equally sketchy... but it wasn't. My friend came out of the dark church building to give me a key so I could get into her place. And then I sped off into the darkness.

11:30-1 am Let myself in to my friends apartment and dye my hair. It needed to be done. Desperately. There's no other time in the schedule for it. I checked.

1-2 am Write a blog about my day to the alien Xty'Alm from the planet Zebrine.

2-.... The conclusion better end with me time traveling backwards two hours so I can go to bed at a decent-ish time.

Well, Xty'Alm, that's my human experience for the day. Let me know if you have any questions. And actually, I have one for you. You mentioned your a professor of Humanology. What, exactly, is that?

Until next time,
Spacibo and goodnight.


Well, I'd say my writers block has been successfully squelched. Take that brain!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breathe....


I'm a roller coaster. I never know how I'm going to feel, how I'm going to react or if I'm going to have a complete breakdown from one moment to the next. Turns out, today was break down day... multiple times. There was a major freakout session in the middle of all those breakdowns where I probably nearly hyperventilated. Thank goodness for friends who know just what to say and can pray me through. What would I do without them?
I've gotten used to going out in public with a face still damp with tears. I don't care if people see my puffy eyes and notice that my makeup is completely gone. The world is just going to have to deal with my mess for a while... and my mess may last longer than I'd like.
I got news back from the docs but it's still too fresh and painful to write about here. I keep telling myself it could be worse, to focus on the good things, to not think about what I can't do but to think about what I can do.
I can't tell you how hard that mental discipline is. I don't have those muscles yet.
And speaking of not having muscles, I'm watching all of mine disappear. I've never been this non-muscle-y in my entire life. Not that I have a bunch of muscle... it's just all those normal muscles for doing normal tasks... I'm watching those fade away. I'm grieving my old life and it sucks to have to say goodbye to it. I hate it.
And it's okay to hate the bad things of life. It's okay to get really angry about it and yell about how sickness shouldn't exist in our world. We were not made for pain. We were not meant for death.
Stupid sin. It ruined everything.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unfiltered


So the doc put me on these meds that evidently has a wide range of side effects. For some, it makes them aggressive, productive and wired. For others, it makes them gain a bunch of weight. So far for me, it makes me unable to focus, absent-minded and super spaced out. And you know that filter you usually have when talking to others. Yeah... mine is gone. Poof. Just like that.
I have no idea what I'm going to say once I open my mouth and for some reason I can't keep it closed. See... here I am blogging about it.
Yesterday, I went shopping in my fuzzy-headed state and, while trying to figure out how not to take out people in the veggie isle with my cart, I ran into some friends of mine. I tried hard string words together into coherent sentences.
"Me, fine. Yeah, shopping. Good! Veggies... healthy."
And while I was struggling to sound like a human being and not a caveman, another friends walks up. And then another.
Of course. Because life is ironic like that.
I shall now not point out how many dozens of other perfectly coherent days I've shopped at the same store and seen no one. Nor shall I digress into a rant about how unfair it is that all my friends converge on Safeway at the exact date and time when I'm out and about in a drug induced stupor. And not one friend but four friends.
*Sigh.*

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Context

I realize that my last two posts have been all about my heath issues. I guess that's understandable because that's the new Big Thing in my life. But there is more to my life and I think it's worth writing about because some of it is, well... different.

The first thing that's different about my life is that I live in the state where many Americans and the entire country of Japan go for vacation. Yes, I live in Hawaii. As cool as it is to live in a vacation destination it also causes all kinds of complications.

Those complications usually revolve around the whole "The Life People Think I Live" and "The Life I Actually Live."

For instance, most people think I have a grand life that consists entirely of white sandy beaches, chilled coconut drinks, breathtaking sunsets, exotic scenery and all the Hawaiian shirts I could ask for. I have to admit... those last three things are true, but there is another side to the story.

More often than not, I find my life on the Big Island reminding me more of living in a third world country than living in an Exotic Paradise. I've decided to compile my list of Paradise Woes to shine some light on the issue (and no, I don't expect to elicit much sympathy. But remember this; there's a reason why the vacationers go home).

Woe #1: Bugs.
Cockroaches, ants, centipedes, MASSIVE SPIDERS, and geckos. If all those creepy crawlies stayed outside where they belong it wouldn't be as big of a problem, but they don't.

More than once, I've opened a drawer in my kitchen or in my bathroom and discovered a huge cockroach looking at me. Since there's no good way to kill a cockroach in a drawer I do the next best thing. I slam the drawer closed, count to ten, open and the cockroach is gone! Problem is solved.

And don't even get me started on centipedes. They're evil. About a year ago I got bit/stung by one and it was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. The unfortunate sequence of events that came after was possibly more traumatic that the bite itself.

Here's how it went down:

First, I got bit on my ankle and it really REALLY hurt. 

Second, a week later it got infected and felt like I was stepping on broken glass every time I walked. 

Third, I discovered I was allergic to the antibiotics I was prescribed to cure my infection. Cue hives, swollen lips and still-infected foot. 

Fourth, after getting on the right antibiotics and being told specifically to stay out of the sun, I forgot and ended up in the sun because the sun is everywhere and kind of hard to avoid. I got a large, angry rash over every part of me that was exposed to sunlight. Oh Joy.

Fifth, I got some intestinal something because my gut was sick of all the antibiotics I was taking and was punishing me. 

And I haven't even got to spiders. Cane Spiders. Look them up. Now imagine one in your car. AT NIGHT.

Woe #2: Third world living.
I take cold showers more often than I'd like not because I want to, but because I have to. And no, the warm weather doesn't make up for it because, where I live, the mornings and evenings can be cool.

The hot water in my house comes from a few solar panels on the roof, which is fine most of the time, except for the part that there's no hot water when it's cloudy and cold.... and that is, of course, exactly when you'd really like to have a hot shower.

Also, there's a pig living in my backyard. My downstairs neighbor is a pig hunter, hired to kill the wild boars that terrorize local golf courses. Recently, he "took care" of a big mama pig who had four little piggies. He thought his two young boys would find a baby pig interesting.... so now we have a pet wild pig. I'm pretty sure he's destined to be dinner one day.

Woe #3: The traffic.
Imagine a town where everyone in their shiny rental cars are rubbernecking everything. Add in a gazillion Japanese tourists driving around who are use to driving on the left side of the road and it's awesome. It's like living in Yellowstone National Park in August.

In reality, I have nothing to complain about. The traffic here isn't that bad, but I live in a small town and it still irks me that there's traffic at all. I can't tell you how happy I am that I don't live in Honolulu.
Honolulu has the worst traffic in the entire United States. Drivers waist an average of 58 hours a year sitting in traffic.
I'm not even kidding. Look it up. That's definitely not my idea of living in paradise.

Woe #4: Limited shopping.
Everyone wears and eats the same stuff, bought from the same stores. The options are WalMart, Target, Costco, Ross, a tiny Macy's and K-Mart. That's basically it. For everything.

The natural implication of this is that you can pick out the locals by what they're wearing, because you have that same shirt... and those same pants and slippers. And that cooler they're hauling to the beach, you have that too.

Woe #5: What goes north eventually goes north again.
I live on a CIRCLE. I leave my town going north, ocean on my left, and eventually come back into town... with the ocean still on my left.

What?!!

Consciously, I know what's going on. I live on a small island surrounded by water. Duh. But my unconscious brain refuses to accept this as fact and short-circuits every time I traverse the circle. It regards this phenomenon similarly to quantum physics and just blows up.

Leaving going north CANNOT = arriving from the south
IMPOSSIBLE. 
Explodes

Other than exploding my brain all the time, living on this particular circle isn't all that bad. Sure, the list of outdoor adventures is finite, but this circle boasts eleven different climate zones.

In a matter of hours you can travel from tropical jungle, to high mountain tundra, to fertile pasture lands, to dry deserts complete with cactus. You can alternately be covered in sweat and freeze your hiney off multiple times a day.

Woe #6: Where do I go for vacation?
"Enter and win a round-trip vacation to beautiful Hawaii for two!!" Um... can we make that Alaska or California or something?

So that's my list for now. There's more but really, I am so thankful for where I'm living. Sure there are things that don't match up with everyone's idealized image of Hawaii, but this place and all its quirks has become my home. 

What I really like about living here is that I'm constantly entertained by it. Hawaii is part Hawaiian (obviously), part Asian, part America, part Pacific Islander all tossed together in one little place. I find the blend of cultures fascinating.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The New Normal

My last few days have been "good" days, by which I mean they haven't been as bad as bad can be.

Here's what defines a good day:

- It's not agony to walk across the room in the morning. It still hurts, but it's bearable, and can sort of wear off by early afternoon.
- My muscles aren't complaining bitterly every time I move or every time I stay still for too long
- I can open and close my fingers with next to no pain
- I can open the refrigerator... which is always a good thing
- I probably don't have to take pain killers
- I can almost walk down stairs like a normal human being

Yup... even on my good days I'm still kind of pathetic. It's funny how your frame of reference can change in such a short amount of time. Two months ago, when all this started, I would have freaked out if I was having to function on what I now consider my "good" day.  Complete. Panic. Now I think, it's not so bad. I mean, I was actually able to walk around Safeway this afternoon without grimacing. That's pretty awesome!

But I never know how tomorrow is going to be. It's like the lottery and I'm constantly trying to figure out the common factors so I can anticipate what's coming.

My common morning conversation with myself goes something like this:
Hmmm... it's a bad/good day (choose one) today. I wonder if I didn't drink enough water yesterday. Okay, tonight more water... until I float my way asleep and who cares how much I have to get up in the middle of the night.
And I ate pizza last night.... I wonder if gluten in the dough caused my hands to cramp. That's it, from now on I'm not eating gluten ever again. I'm shall now go through my cupboards and throw all gluten-y things away.
Then there was the ice cream... that's probably why I don't feel as horrible as I could. Yes, I think I need more ice cream and possibly more tropical fruit in my diet. Especially mangoes.

That's pretty much how it goes every morning, except all the details are different. I have gone off of gluten and I am wondering if that's contributing to the better days I've been experiencing. I kind of don't want to put it to the test though. If I start eating my usual flour-filled diet and end up reverting to a painful wreck then I'll really kick myself.

Side note: I went and got a bunch of blood drawn for all the really expensive tests that I'm going to have done FOR FREE (I have heath insurance!!!). They took so much blood I nearly passed out. My vision started to narrow, my hearing got all distorted and I sort of crumpled over the blood draw station. When I became master of myself again I discovered that I was being propped up by a few extra nurses who had mysteriously appeared out of thin air. Weird. 

Another side note: One of the tests being done is so rare that they're sending my blood to the Center for Disease Control because they're the only ones around who can do the test.

Whoa. Should be a proud about how hard core I am? I mean, seriously, who has the CDC test their blood? That's crazy extreme! Well, come to think of it, probably a lot of YWAMers do...

Or maybe should I get swallowed up by self pity that what I have is possibly so unique that only the CDC can diagnose it.

I'll find out in a week or so. I'm pretty convinced that the tests are going come back showing that I'm a mutant and all this is just my body warming up to my new super powers that will probably have something to do with teleportation and shooting dagger out of my hands.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Here's the thing....

It's about time I blow the dust and cobwebs off of my blog and start writing again. And what a better way to resurrect my forlorn blog then by writing a super long post? If you make it through to the end of this entry, you should reward yourself with ice cream.

You'll deserve it.

So here's the thing. Two months ago my foot started hurting. Just a little pain on the ball of my foot. No big deal. I probably banged it up on some rocks getting out of the water. The rocky, volcanic Kona coast is renown for causing all kinds of bruises and cuts.

But two weeks later the pain had grown and spread to a smattering of joints throughout my body. I couldn't blame the rocky coast for my sore, swollen knuckles or painful elbows. The progress of the pain was so fast that it freaked me out. To go from fine-and-dandy to an arthritic 80 year old in a matter of a few weeks was shocking.

Fast forward eight weeks to today. Now almost every joint hurts. My feet and knees cause me significant problems. Walking is painful, sometimes unbearably so. I've caught myself daydreaming about using crutches to help curb the pain.

But what do you do when both feet are killing you? And no, a wheelchair is not an option (yet) unless it involves airports or Disneyland. My fingers are constantly sore, my wrists are weak, my shoulder aches, my ankles are swollen. Fine motor control like buttoning a shirt can be hard or almost impossible some days.

I don't want to get into it all. Suffice to say all this interferes with my life in a serious way. When it this started back in June, two things significantly complicated matters. First, the progression of pain started just a day or two before I went on a six-week trip which would take me to nine different cities in two different countries. Seriously bad timing.

Second, no health insurance.

Talk about crisis. I had a very real health problem and no way to do anything about it. I saw doctors here and there as I traveled and they all said the same thing. I needed extensive tests that I absolutely could not afford. I can't tell you how frustrating that was.

The docs threw around words like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, chikungunya (what is that?!) and thousands of dollars worth of testing.

There was disagreement about the cause of my pain.

Auto immune?
Reaction to that dengue fever I had in Thailand?
Not dengue fever but another weird tropical disease?

And there was disagreement about what to do about it.

All the while, I was learning to deal with the implications of an increasingly broken body. Painful feet meant every step hurt. I watched my hobbies fade out of my grasp. No hiking. No running. No biking. No walking.

As things got worse, my concerns over losing my hobbies grew into a more overwhelming worry about my ability to function in daily life. How do I open a sealed package when my fingers can't grasp things? How do I go shopping when I can't walk around the store? How can I make it through a six hour flight when my feet hurt so much?

The first month was the hardest and scariest so far. The transition from healthy to broken was traumatic. I didn't have any coping mechanisms to deal with it, no prior experiences to draw from, no mental discipline not throw myself down the dark, scary road of what-if.

I was all panic. The terrifying idea that I'd live in significant amounts of pain for the rest of my life haunted me.

Thankfully, I've gotten better at steeling my mind against those fears (for the most part). My awesome friend Karisse has been a serious encouragement and helped me learn the art of living one day at a time. I've come to better understand that God never gave us the ability to deal with our entire life-span all at once. He gives us the strength and grace to get through today.

I posted one of my most recent lessons on facebook the other day.
"God knows how to lead us to the point of crisis, and he knows how to lead us through it." We're not promised a life devoid of difficulty and trials but we're offered a life marked by the victory of overcoming them.

It's been a journey and I haven't been able to write about it until now, not without becoming a sobbing, pathetically slobbery mess.

But in the last month or so, I've become increasingly at peace with my situation and that is definitely testimony to God's work in my life. I still have moments of complete melt-down (usually having to do with a particularly painful day or frustration over a mundane task that I can't do) but they come with less sheer panic and despair. I'm sure I'll look back one day at the me-I-am-today and be amazed at how much more I still had to learn through this.

Of course, I'll need a place to process everything. My journal doesn't come with enough accountability. With no one to read my thoughts I'm in danger of veering towards self pity. At this particular point in my journey, my thoughts are not allowed to have free reign, but locking them up entirely isn't good either.

Blog it is! 

So (and raise your cups to this) here's to the journey, here's the lessons learned and to be learned, here's to the struggles and trials, here's to God and everything he wants to do through this. Here's to complete healing and victory in Christ. And here's to not losing my sense of humor or sense of adventure and believing that the best days are yet to come. 

Last but not least, as of yesterday I officially have health insurance. Full coverage! It's a total answer to prayer. Let the testing begin! 

Now go eat some ice cream.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Surf's Up!

My room is a complete disaster. I'm packing for three months AND moving out of my room at the same time. Those two things should never happen simultaneously. I believe that this chaos will eventually turn to order... I believe... I believe....

While I was sorting through my stuff this afternoon I was suddenly gripped by the realization that I'm leaving my home, friends and city and gallivanting around Thailand, leading a group of eleven students for THREE MONTHS. THREE MONTHS!!!

That's a long time to be day-in and day-out leading a team in a foreign country. I was suddenly overwhelmed by all the things that could go wrong, which resulted in me having a strong desire to empty out my suitcase, sit on it and tell my co-leader I'm not going.

How am I going to handle all that responsibility? I'll be in charge of making sure these students are fed, kept busy, have a place to stay, and don't get lost in foreign cities. I'll have to help them navigate three international airports, busy foreign bus stations and possibly train stations too. I'll cram them into taxis, bicker with the driver for a fair price and hope they get there in time.

If things go well, it will be a miracle.

And I'm expecting a miracle. I'm pretty, stink'n confident that we'll come back just fine, with great God stories, bellies full of delicious Thai food and be happy as clams that the three months went so well.

But I'm still scared.

It's like surfing. I'm a complete beginner; wobbly on the board and prone to getting dumped more often than catching waves. Surfing thrills me just a little bit more than it terrifies me, which is why I keep going back to it.

There's nothing quite as terrifying as being on the water, paddling out to sea and watching a huge wave come in. I do a quick mental calculation and determine that yes, I am about to die-- the massive curling wave is perfectly positioned to land on my head.

What follows is a frantic paddle session to avoid being in the crash zone. I see it cresting but I'm still in the wrong place. It's terrifying. Fear grips me as the wave towers over my head and I'm pretty sure I scream involuntarily. I get ripped off my board, thrashed under the wave, twisting and turning, head-over-heels-over-sideways and under. Many disorienting seconds later I pop up to see another death wave headed for me.

I suddenly resent the fact that they travel in sets. More thrashing, more tossing. But I survive. I'M ALIVE! Getting tossed around isn't my idea of fun, but I'm certainly enjoy the fact that I lived through it.

And after all that pounding, there's always, eventually that sweet wave, the one I'm perfectly positioned for and I'm able to catch. For a moment, as my board cuts through the water, I've harnessed nature, captured its rolling energy, letting it propel me over the water. It's glorious. Thrilling. As terrified as I was before I'm now giddy with excitement.

Yup, surfing is terrifying. Legitimately scary. But I do it because I know there are epic moments to be experienced that I really don't want to miss out on.

It's the same with this trip to Thailand. Right now, I'm looking up at the cresting wave that's headed straight for my head and my stomach is dropping. I know I'm going to get tossed, thrashed and pounded by culture shock, by leading a team, by trying to remember what eleven people need.

I know I'm being handed a lot of responsibility and I'm not sure how I'm going to walk it out. Will I be a stressed-out leader? What happens when I have a bad day or am so tired I don't want to go shopping for dinner much less talk about how so-and-so is offended by such-in-such because she said this and he said that.

But at the same time I know it's worth it. There are going to be epic, thrilling, glorious times that will make me so excited I wont be able to contain myself. I know God will move in amazing ways and I can't wait to witness it.

It's going to be epic.
Surfs up.
Now grab your board and go face your fear!