If I thought my last week at work was going to be easy and carefree and not a clusterfuck of emotions, mild existential crises, difficulty sleeping, and oh yeah WORK WORK WORK I clearly don’t transition jobs enough.
Expectations of what I thought putting in my two weeks at work was going to be like: this clip.
Reality of what it was really like: I felt like I was going to throw up or start crying at first because I was really nervous, but once I got to talking and giving my boss the letter, the nerves fell away from me. They were replaced by a new feeling, one of acknowledgement that a significant chapter of my life was ending and another was starting.
In the four years since I’ve graduated from college, I’ve only had two jobs. One for 9 months (let us never speak of it again) and the other for three years. Three years is a long time to stay in one place and while I don’t know anything about this chapter to come in my life (except logistics like the start date and office address of my new job), all I can say is bring it ON. I’ll work just as hard and as passionately in this new environment as I did in any other one I’ve ever been in!
It’s always a little sad when you feel yourself looking at photos of people you used to be close to and realizing that some time has passed since you spoke to these people and their lives have become separate from your own. I think a lot of people like to dwell on the sadness aspect of it. The mourning for what was and what could have been if you stayed close. But I like to think at least we’ll always have Paris. You had these people in your life for a moment and it was the moment you needed them the most in. And maybe you’ll reconnect in the future again and have another moment together. Nothing, and everything, is certain, but friendship is an ever-evolving thing and we need to be thankful it works that way otherwise we wouldn’t be able to meet even more people who need to be in this moment for us.
Four years ago today, I was getting my diploma from ye olde alma mater and me and my four suitcases were heading out to San Francisco where we lived in a hotel for two weeks while I had a series of job interviews, none of which panned out, and resulted in me moving back to SoCal to live with a friend from college.
Had I gotten one of those jobs and stayed put, I would have had a very different life than the one I have now. I like how our inclination is to immediately romanticize that these lives would be better than the ones we currently lead. But it’s just different, that’s all. The people, places, and circumstances that surround you contribute to who you are and the person you continue to become. And timing is still everything, ultimately.
Truth is, there are so many roads we can take to becoming all of these different versions of ourselves. They are there and they are available. And some of them we know taking would ultimately lead to the creation of a version of you that you may not like but want because it means you’re (fill-in-the-blank with financially successful, famous and noteworthy, meeting the status quo, meeting up to parental/societal expectations) fulfilled on the surface. Maybe you start taking that road and realize halfway through it’s not you want and turn around and start over. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s never been anything wrong with that. Naturally, we’re taught to believe that if you aren’t meeting deadlines and goals and schedules, you’re not contributing to the greater good and are blowing your life away. And that’s not fair. We all must dig deeper and realize that no one path leads to a quick and easy palace of wisdom.
Experience, timing, circumstance. These are what matter.
I have always been someone who has been very responsive to pain the moment I feel anything wrong with my body. To me, that’s the time to get to the doctor. I don’t have a fear of doctors but I do have a fear of what will happen inside of my head if I don’t see one soon.
My head will tell me I’m dying.
Google will tell me I’m dying.
The doctor will (probably?) tell me I’m not dying.
The last few years are noted for falling under some specific umbrella theme for me. 2012 was a year of travel, 2013 was for maintaining financial responsibility, and 2014 seems to thus far be all about health scares. There was the cyst incident, followed by the anxiety attack. This week was a visit to urgent care to look at my arms that I suspect have carpal tunnel (the doctor doesn’t think I need surgery but I do need physical therapy AND I’m sporting some fab [read: bulky ‘n sweaty] arm braces to make my work days easier on the typing front).
And then we have the fabulous, faaaaaabulous sudden numbing and itching in my left foot which, if you Google for this kind of thing, can only mean a few things: you’ve got diabetes, tarsal tunnel, fibromyalgia, or an early onset of MS.
Or maybe you don’t have any of these things but allow yourself to be sucked into the worst case scenario because all of the supposed signs are there.
Why am I like this? Why do I worry to this degree? Why do I let the fear of “what if?” overtake me and steep inside of me to the point where I feel like I’m drowning in it?
Because my mother had a stroke when I was in the first grade and she was in her early 30s when it happened.
The stroke was a defining moment for me in my life. It’s the first part of childhood I remember vividly and the first time I remember being in a hospital like that. Spinal cord injury was a foreign term to me as a grade schooler. It started for my mom with a major headache and then was followed by a burst blood vessel which brought us all to the hospital at some unknown hour of the night and kept everyone there until 6:30 in the morning when we left to go to home so my dad could take us to school. The sun came out, the birds were chirping, people continued living and going about their routine, and there was a crashing silence in our house that I thought I was going to go deaf from. It was the first morning I ever dressed myself in my life. My year was spent in various waiting rooms after school waiting on my mom to get MRIs and tests done. And here we are today, where she is alive, healthy, and brought two more of my brothers into the world.
Being in your 30s, for a long time, has seemed like an age I thought I would never reach. I’m in my late 20s now but thirtysomething is closer now than it was a decade ago. My track record for not being sick has been so strong that I feel overdue for something… unpleasant.
To lay all of my cards out on the table, I fear history repeating itself. I fear genetics. I fear aging to some extent. I fear losing control of my own body one day and being rendered unable to do what I love. And I fear it all now more than ever because for so long, this never happened to me. But above all, I fear the wait. If I wait, I lose, and I don’t want that to happen. I want to get to the root of the matter and recover and heal as quickly as possible if something, anything, is wrong.
On a sad note though, today when I was calling around for various neurologists within my health care network, one of the offices I was eyeballing had the worst answering machine message I’ve heard in years. “Dr. XYZ’s office is unfortunately closed due to his recent passing.”
It’s only a mild case of hypochondria. Just a touch mild.
These last few weeks have featured me in a lot of positions 2014 never prepped me I’d be in. Lying propped up on a bed having an ultrasound done on my breasts. Going to the hospital and crying in the waiting room because I thought I was having a heart attack. The heart attack turned out to be an anxiety attack and my ultrasound came back negative - no cancer, but several cysts. For the latter, I’ve been told to cut my caffeine intake down drastically because stress + caffeine leads to the creation of said cysts.
I gave up watching TV from a TV set last June and haven’t been compelled to make a return to it either. So true to my all or nothing form, I’ve decided not to cut back from caffeine but cut away entirely. For the time being. As much as I can. And here we are, a little over a week of no coffee or soda later and I kind of want to murder everyone.
That’s not healthy. Not by a long shot.
I had always heard that caffeine was addictive, but brushed off the thought because pfft, whatever I’m chill enough to handle it. I didn’t start drinking coffee until after college was over. I drank soda pretty much my entire life, but I was never the kind of kid who got “hyper” off of it either. You know the one - you give ‘em half a Pixi Stick and they’re ripping the carpeting out of the living room floor. I considered myself fairly serene when drinking caffeinated beverages, but again, I always had them and never had a motive or desire to cut them free from my life since they weren’t hurting me.
Then came the infamous Red Bull Summer of ‘08. That was a bad summer - when I drank so much Red Bull that I would actually run home from work because I just felt so lightweight and free. Running around the neighborhood at 10 PM and laughing to myself the whole way in a Subway uniform. Truly a CATCH of a lady, I tell ya.
That habit specifically, the Red Bull one, was very hard to break. After that summer, I enrolled at my alma mater in California. One of the first questions I asked my peer advisor was whether or not they sold Red Bull on campus. When he laughed and said no, I smiled testily back and gritted my teeth. Later on that same week, I would see a girl drinking from a can of sugar-free Red Bull and came very close to running up to her and screaming, “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT WHERE CAN I GET ONE???”
Not that this clearly spelled out that I had some sort of co-dependency or anything.
It took a few months, but the Red Bull habit fell away from me. I didn’t feed into it and not having in proximity to me made it a little simpler to give it up. But I still kept drinking soda throughout undergrad and started doing Starbucks/Coffee Bean post-grad. My rule was one cup of coffee. Mondays through Fridays. No venti sizes. Just a little bit to ease into the morning and perk me up for the work day. Somewhere along the way though, I broke that once a day rule here and there. Or what I felt like was here and there.
Being a little over a week without coffee is strange. For one thing, I sound different. I can hear it in how I’m writing this. My friends have noticed. I am more muted now and feel… far. My thoughts are collected but they are scattered to some degree too. I’m present, and I’m paying attention, but I’m moving slower all around. Much of that I think has to do with being so grateful not to have the lumps mean anything life-threatening. I went into a quiet space in my head for the last few weeks where I contemplated life and my general existence and what happens when you die, all that existentialism train of thought. When you sit inside of your head and imagine the possibilities of the world without you in it, you realize that life will keep on going. It did before you arrived and it will after. It doesn’t seem like it will, but it will. One of my personal revelations, outside of considering this, was thinking about where I am presently and why am I rushing with that place. Since that point, I’ve been slowing down all around. I don’t want to “run” anymore in a figurative sense. I don’t want to worry that I’m losing some sort of life race or online relevancy for not doing as much as I think I should be. (By the way… when did it get to the point in my life where online relevancy, tweetability, was a thing I could be worried about?)
More than digging out a space in your head though, being without caffeine physically hurts. Two days in, I thought my skull was going to crack open. I’ve had the shakes, twitches, headaches and some trouble sleeping. I get so angry about small things that should not make me mad at all. And I do feel helpless at times too. Again, not healthy! There’s a part of me that whimpers, “But if you could just have ONE cup. One. It wouldn’t hurt anyone. It would even you out and make this feeling fade away.”
Yes. Yes it would. But the feeling would be temporary until the next cup of coffee was “needed” - my ever-present fix, so to speak.
So I’m trying to stay away from coffee for now. Will I be able to quit it in the long run? It’s probably not necessary, even in the eyes of my doctors who encouraged the decaf coffee if I needed a boost. But for right now, it just can’t be in my life. For all of those great highs came several crashes and burns and now I’m burning and need to be away from it for a moment to regain my strength and see what a caffeine-less version of me could really be like.
3/27 - the day I felt the first lump in my right breast.
4/10 - visit to the doctor to see what was going on and get referred on for an ultrasound/mammogram.
4/12 - thought I was having a heart attack and spent an hour in the ER at the local hospital. Turned out to be an anxiety attack.
4/15 - had my ultrasound and was cleared of any possible cancer (I have a few cysts, as it turns out). No mammogram needed due to my age and nothing in either breast requiring a closer look.
These are 20 days of 2014 I would rather not return to, but I feel like they warrant a log of sorts to ensure that I have a record of this on file.
Buzzfeed ran an article on abandoned malls in America and the mall from my childhood, Crestwood, is included on the list. The above picture is right outside of where the AMC Theater used to be. That empty store to the left hand side was where I bought my first pair of platform Sketchers.
Crestwood’s decline and eventual fall marked the end of an era for me. I know I’ve written on here before how I pretty much grew up in a department store and that particular store happened to be at Crestwood. As the years went on, I saw stores come and go and then keep on going. Watching from an escalator step I sat on going down, feeling like I was in my own personal version of Cheers where everyone knew my name.
I’ll never have any of that in my life again. Some of this is obvious change that comes with age. There will never again come a day where I will run with glee through rows of men’s suits. I’ll never lay on a model bed doing my homework. Some of it comes with the modern state of the world today and where I spend and what I don’t spend. I have never shopped like I did back then since - where I had so many bags the ties wore red rings deep into my wrists. I treated those rings like a badge of honor. And then some of it comes back to career ambitions and dreams which I didn’t know anything about at that age. You don’t realize as a child when you talk to coworkers of your father’s that working part-time in retail in their 30s is not where they want to be. I like to think they’re all in better jobs today.
Life is a slow erosion sometimes.
There are very few blogs I read on a regular basis and it kills me when people ask me what I read and I’m like, uh, does A Taste of General Mills count because that’s literally the only blog I read on the daily.
What I like about that blog is that its steeped in history, both past and present. You have your Pinterest worthy pictures included, but there is substance behind the post and no filler work. No repetitious list of “link love” and nothing that feels like a PR person was obviously behind the post, pushing to promote a product. And the tone! The tone is so grounded and doesn’t brag about itself despite having more than enough clout to do so. Truly my Midwestern roots are talking here, but I genuinely look forward to all of the emails I get from them letting me know there’s a new post live. Few sites provoke that kind of feeling within me and I know that for this one, it’s also partially because I’ve spent so much of my life engaging with the brand. But it’s nice to know that as times change, a brand’s voice will stay consistent and won’t lose its footing in the race to get some plum partnership ads or act flimsy in the face of looking relevant for all of five minutes. (cough, cough, Doritos and Lady Gaga at SXSW with that idiot hashtag, cough, cough)
Ahhh, this pencil dress with waterfall detail from ASOS inspires a Hallelujah chorus to go off all around me. I only have but few requirements in dresses when I buy them - length, jewel tones and/or black and white, versatility (day into night), cut to figure, and duration of wear. Also minimalism, as I don’t like to look like I spent too much time pulling a look together. Next paycheck, you’re getting ordered bb.