Tattoos and grad school

I can’t believe that on Tuesday it will be September.  As in, the first of my four favorite months – the ones I affectionately call the “-er” months: September, October, November, December.  Best part of they ear is these four months, y’all.

So, hello.  I am feeling rather bored and random this evening so I thought I’d throw some random brainings out there just for something to do.

I got another (!!) tattoo.  I knew I wanted this second one before I even got my first one and I knew both would happen this summer.  I was lucky enough that things fell into place enough to allow me to get both.  Tattoo number two is a Semi Colon and is inspired by Project Semi Colon.  I got this in tribute to the friends who have lost their battle with depression via suicide.  I got this as a reminder to myself of how far I have come since I was in a place that dark.  I got this to do a small part in breaking the stigma of mental illness.

semitat[image is of my tattoo an hour after it was done]

I love it.  It’s perfect.  I do want more ink, desperately.  But I have to find the right way to tell my story on my body.

I finished my third grad school class – Professional Ethics for Psychologists, this past Sunday.  I had a massive paper to write as a final and going into it I knew what I needed to pass (well, realistically I could have not turned in the paper and still passed, even on the graduate school grading scale).  I got another ‘A’ – solidifying my 4.0 gpa once again.

There’s this whole thing with me not believing my own smarts and doubting myself even though I am getting good grades and great feedback.  It’s really annoying and I wish my brain would shut up.

That’s really about all I have tonight.  There’s plenty more to say and rant about but my focus is absolute shit so… for now, good night :)

Depression, anxiety, and Disney/Pixar

My husband and I can rarely agree on a movie to go see, which I suppose is alright since movies are so damn expensive!
Anyway, my birthday was this past Friday and I took a long weekend off of work.  I mainly took today (Monday) since husband’s and my work schedules are so different that a real ‘date day’ hasn’t happened in a few months.  I used the leverage that it was my birthday to get him to go see Inside Out with me.

This movie… guys.  THIS MOVIE.

I make no secret out of the fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety.  The ebb and flow of it all can vary, but it’s a part of who I am and it’s something I have learned to deal with to the best of my abilities.  The worst part of it, for me, is trying to tell other people or explain to them what it is like to live with mental illness.  Because they can’t see it and I ‘don’t look sick’ I must be fine.  Because I smile, I must not be “that” depressed.  Because I go out to work every day and sometimes go out with friends there is “no way” I have severe anxiety.  I wish it was that easy.  But the fact is there are times where the depression and/or anxiety is so crippling that I can’t get out of bed.  If it’s a day I have to work I literally wish that I would drop dead on the spot so I didn’t have to endure the day.  Thankfully, days that are like that are few and far between – but they do happen.

I am lucky in that the people in my life that I trust the most know my struggle.  Many of them get it.  I have a support system that is amazing.  But all of that still doesn’t change the fact that what I deal with on a daily basis is often blown off by others because they don’t get it and/or can’t see it.

Cue the film Inside Out.
Eleven year old Riley was just moved from her hometown to another state with her family.  At first she handles it just fine but quickly that ‘fine’ veneer starts to crack and she starts to crumble.  The exceptional part of this film?  It’s told from the main emotions in the ‘headquarters’ of Riley’s brain.  I won’t go into much detail to avoid spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it but wants to… but for most of Riley’s life Joy has held the reins.  Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness are there as well but in smaller portions as Joy wants to keep Riley happy.  However Sadness accidentally touches some core memories and turns them from joy to sad… and thus begins an adventure that brought tears not only to my eyes, but to my husband’s as well.

For those of us who struggle with mental illness the idea that sadness is important to the self is a no brainier… but the character of Joy doesn’t see that.  She thinks that all sadness does is mess things up… and it’s heartbreaking to watch how rude she can be in the name of keeping Riley “happy”.  By the end it is realized that all the emotions have a place and are needed and that sadness doesn’t have to be a negative emotion.

As I watched the movie I realized quickly that we were watching Riley fall into a deep depression.  Each of us who struggle have our own story of how it started, and for me it had nothing to do with being moved from my hometown… but the descent was the same.

The idea of the personality islands and what happens to them as Riley descends into depression was spot on for what happens in our lives when depression sets in.  The idea of how memories are stored and how the emotions work was beautifully done.  This movie captures what it is to be depressed in a way that is accessible to everyone – children to adults and all done in a family friendly PG-rated format.

I cannot say enough good things about this film, especially when looked at from a mental health standpoint.

The childless friend.

This is something that has been weighing on my heart lately, so what better thing to do than to get it out.

I don’t hide the fact that I struggle with infertility.  It’s been a rough road, especially since we have been without decent insurance so getting more than just my yearly check up wasn’t really affordable (thankfully that should change at the end of August).  Aside from my husband, my closest friends have been my rock throughout a lot of the rough days.  The thing to note:  most of my closest friends have children.  Of the women who I trust the most only one does not have a child and she has no interest in having one… so that leaves me as the lone childless woman, the one who desperately wants a baby.

My lady friends try hard to be sensitive to my feelings.  I’ve had two come to me after finding out they were pregnant, to tell me so I could prepare myself for the big Facebook announcements and so that I wouldn’t inadvertently hear from others.  They never make me choke down that news in a room full of people.  They respect that my reaction of joy is genuine, but so is the stab of pain in my heart and they let me deal with that without a bunch of people around. It makes it easier to take that news.  I’m always happy for my friends when they fall pregnant… but there’s that piece of me that gets horrifically sad, because… when will it be my turn?  Will it ever be my turn?

Being childless in a group of mommy friends can be a challenge… and likely not for the reasons most would think.  In my case, I completely understand them not having the time to come by to say hello or to meet up for a drink.  I get it when they don’t want to leave their new babies to go out, or on the other side, bring their kids to stuff.   It makes sense to me, because motherhood is something I crave so deeply that I know if that were me with the new baby or adorable toddler, I wouldn’t want to leave their side either.  I don’t think I am such a special snowflake being the only childless one that no kids should ever be allowed to any function I host or attend – that’s insane.  My friends children are just as special to me as my friends are.

The challenge in being the childless friend in a group of mommy friends is feeling left out and ignored – and trying your damnedest to not take it personally.  Play dates where everyone sees each other are things I’m not a part of, and that’s fine… because, I obviously don’t have a kid to introduce to the other kids.  It’s kind of creepy when you’re the childless adult at a children’s play time.  But, it does kind of suck to not see my friends often.  When it comes to kids birthdays or big events – more often than not I don’t get an invite.  Someone once asked me about how I feel about it… and I didn’t lie to her.  It hurts.  Sure, it breaks my heart a bit to attend a child’s birthday party but more than anything it gives me hope to see the world through a child’s eyes for a few hours.  The simplicity of their joy knows no bounds when it’s a party for them.  It can make any adult appreciate the little things in life.  I know people try to spare feelings by not inviting because it’ll all be mommies and their kiddos and then just me and they don’t want me to dissolve into a puddle of tears.  The truth?  I’d love to be invited to things.  If I feel I can’t handle it, I’ll be honest.  But more often than not… I’d be there and be very happy to be there.  Then there’s the last situation and it’s the one that honestly hurts the most.  Everyone gets together with their kids at someone’s house or a general location like a park.  There’s a cook out or a few drinks… the kids play happily elsewhere while all the ladies chat.  It doesn’t happen as often now, but it does still happen, that I am not a part of those days.  And, usually, it seems it’s because it started off as a kiddo play date and more and more people just added to it with their kids.  No one really remembers the one without kids at that point.  These are the times it sucks the absolute worst and I struggle the most.  It’s almost like being back in grade school and not being invited to a party everyone else is going to (yep, that happened to me more than once…) you put on a brave face and pretend to not care but deep down it’s gutting your heart because you don’t know how to make it so you’re accepted.  It sounds so silly to type it like that – but in those moments that’s what it feels like.

There are days I literally can barely drag myself out of bed because I hate that my body doesn’t do what it is naturally supposed to do.  There are days I am so very angry at the world because I feel so left out of this club that I have wanted to be a part of since I was a young girl.  It’s a club every woman should be able to join, and yet some of us, somehow, are lacking and we can never break down that barrier between those who can do it and the rest of us.  It’s an isolating feeling, especially when everyone around you seems to so easily be able to achieve what I cannot.

My friends are pretty fantastic, though.  I know they don’t do things to hurt me or see me cry.  They do what they think will be easiest on me.  I have two friends in particular who are always very straightforward with their questions about my feelings on things like this and other things that pertain to struggling with infertility, and I am forever thankful to them for allowing me to be candid with them and for them being honest enough to ask the hard questions.

For anyone who has a friend struggling with infertility, please remember them.  They won’t always join you for the parties or plays… but my guess is more often than not, they will.  And even when they don’t, they will be touched that you thought to include them in something so special.  On days when she feels like she’s sinking, that invite could be the life preserver that convinces her to not give up hope and to keep trying and that maybe someday she can achieve motherhood as well.

It just plain sucks to be lacking in this way.  I can only hope every woman who is dealing with infertility has a group of friends as supportive as mine.

Book Review- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Date Finished: July 25th, 2015
Rating (on a five star scale): 3

Let me start of by saying that if you enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you may enjoy this as well.  That said, it is NOT Gone Girl.  The feel is similar, the format of the story is similar but that’s about where the similarities end.

Rachel takes the commuter train every morning and enjoys looking out the window into the neighborhood that she once lived happily in.  She begins somewhat of an obsession with a house near her old one, and it’s inhabitants whom she dubs “Jess” and “Jason”.  One day from the train she witnesses something strange and out of the ordinary and that is only the start of how strange things can get.  She shares her information with police, but she is a less than reliable witness for several reasons.  She is determined to help solve the mystery and becomes entangled in a strange story that feels like a reality worlds away from the one she knows.

I picked up this book because, honestly, it was one I kept seeing all over Goodreads and Facebook.  Everyone was talking about it, mostly good things.  The story starts off shaky, and if it hadn’t been for the good things I had heard from trusted book loving friends I would have likely put it down.  I never became overly attached to any characters.  At most I felt sorry for Rachel, but generally even her attitude even bothered me.  I get it, she is depressed at all she lost and the things she thought she had done… but she was so insufferable through parts of this book that I just wanted to take her and shake her.

I did enjoy reading the story from Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s views.  I enjoyed the timeline set up and how it jumped around a bit, especially in the beginning.  The idea for the story was a good one, especially in the aftermath of Gone Girl, which we all know was a sensation.  However it wasn’t what some touted it to be.  It’s not the “next Gone Girl”, but rather a story with a mystery who-done-it element.  And to be honest… that element wasn’t too hard to figure out.

Again I find myself torn… with all the years of reading I have encountered most every trope, every plot line, and every twist out there.  I often find myself bored to tears with the twists in some of these books because they are so damn predictable to me.  This one pretty much fell into that category for me.  The suspense was enough to keep me reading even though early on I was nearly positive what happened.

The back story with the baby, Libby, was heartbreaking.  I figured something happened with a child in her past, but I wasn’t fully expecting what we got.  Bringing up her ex-boyfriend felt silly because he was a red herring and a not well written one at that.  We had so little information on him I never viewed him as a suspect.  Then he just is suddenly dead for four years and that’s that.  Scott was an obvious choice to blame, but it was too easy to blame him.  Even when he locked Rachel in the upstairs room – I knew he was innocent.  He was pissed off and hurt, but he didn’t kill Megan.  Megan’s doctor… again, too easy.  The comment Rachel made when she saw him the first time that he looked like a killer when he smiled at her – that erased him as a the killer to me in a second BECAUSE of that parallel being drawn.

So that leaves us with Tom and Mac.  Mac had me wondering for a moment… but again when he scared her on their first meeting after the night they were both drunk on the train, he didn’t seem likely and there just wasn’t enough about him.  Then there was Tom… oh, you asshole, Tom.

Early on I had my doubts about him.  Rachel constantly saying that she didn’t remember any of these things that happened when she was drunk.  They didn’t feel right or real to her, despite what her husband said.  Right there was a red flag to me.  I figured early on that the story with the golf club wasn’t what he said it was.  Once it was out that Megan was pregnant at the time of her death, I thought of Tom.  When we found out it wasn’t her husband’s or her doctor’s child -I knew for certain it was Tom.  The conclusion of Tom was pretty easy for me to get to.

The ending was odd and overall lacking.  I get it, Anna knew something was up.  She, in her heart, believed that Tom may well have killed Megan.  But when Rachel shows up at the house the interaction is just so strange.  It didn’t seem to fit.  It could have gone a few ways that would have been more comfortable and fitting – an explosive interaction or even a different play on what happened.  I knew Tom would show up and be pissed…. it all just felt really predictable and dry.

So, Rachel offs Tom with a corkscrew and Anna covers for her.  Lovely.  So many other ways that could have ended that would have been a bit more entertaining and brought a little more closure to the situation.  The ending, honestly, felt rushed to me.  Like, now that the action bits were over the author was just done writing the story and didn’t want to take us even a step further in the journey of the characters that we had spent our time reading about.  We got the bare bones minimum in that department.

I gave this three stars, because the story at least held my attention despite the characters not being very likeable and the twists fairly easy for me to see coming and figure out.  Even though I was certain I knew who had done it I was curious as to how all of Rachel’s fractured memories would come into play, and that was a strong point.

The verdict:  If you like a thriller, read it.  If you enjoyed Gone Girl, read it… but cautiously because it is NOT the same at all.

Cultivating my literary life.

“I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler.”- David Levithan, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Ah, the bookish life.  It’s one I know well.  Ever since my childhood I have been in love with books.  Merely seeing a stack of books has always brought joy to my heart.  Going to the bookstore or library is a fun adventure for me every time.  When I was in grade school we always got the Scholastic/Arrow/etc reading club paper flyers we could order books from.  I would purposely wait to pull it out of my bag until my Uncle Joe was at my house because I knew that while my mom may allow a book, or two if I was *really* good – Uncle Joe would buy me five more.

My tastes have varied over the years.  I was REALLY into Fear Street back in the day (none of that Goosebumps stuff, thanks).  Christopher Pike was a favorite, as well.  Because of my love for those, at a very young age I was reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  At that time I also loved series like Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik books… the occasional Sweet Valley or Babysitters Club were mixed in as well.  For a while, I didn’t read as much, still more than a lot of people I know but not as much as I was used to… and then I began to devour everything with vigor.  Adult series like the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  Stand alone titles that were along the same lines.  And then began my several years long love affair with YA books, the last year or so of which was fueled by BookTube videos… however this has recently come to somewhat of an end.  Now I’m falling more into a steady stream of fiction and classics.

My point is, I love books.  I have varied tastes and I never know what type of book I’ll want to pick up next.  Because of this I tend to, *ahem*, collect books (my husband calls it hoarding books).  We went to the last library sale which was a bag sale and left with 97 books for us.  97!  Granted some were DIY and project books for my husband, but I had quite a few novels in there.  I look at my TBR shelves (I have a TBR soon, and a TBR eventually, maybe… both are not very reliable since I buy books like they will be unavailable soon) and feel a sense of pride in my small library (we own over 900 books – I just counted a few weeks ago).  Not to mention the unhaul of books I did a few weeks prior to that bag sale.

But, as much as I love my books… I want my shelves to have meaning to them.  They do now, but I don’t need to obsessively collect books whenever they are presented in front of me.  I am a firm believer that having a book on your shelf for years without reading it is fine as long as the intention is to eventually read it.  To buy a copy of a book I loved that I had gotten from the library is fine – but I don’t need to own every book I’ve ever read.  Same goes for my favorites from childhood.  If I see one at a booksale, grab it.  But no need to grab every single one by the author regardless of if I read it or loved it.  I guess my point is I want to cultivate my bookshelves into a story of my literary life and not just have a small library of things I may never read.  To the same tune, if I don’t enjoy a book then it’s okay to get rid of it.  Hand it on to someone who will love it or get a stack together over time to turn into Half Price books for a trade in.

I need to go through my lesser seen shelves and really decide if some things are worth hanging on to.  Will I ever read it?  If I did read it, did I enjoy it enough to keep it around?  Next step is to find my reading mojo and, despite work, grad school, and other adult type things… start to read voraciously again.


Today was a big day, y’all.  I got my first tattoo.  And, to make it even more special two of my dearest friends were there with me and got tattoos as well.  We all got spoon tattoos.

Spoons?  What?!
Yes, spoons.

Let me start at the beginning, at least for my story.  I’m sure you’ll read this and wonder what the hell it has to do with spoons… but hang in there, it’ll all make sense soon.
I am 32 years old (nearly 33) and live daily with chronic, invisible illnesses that are both physical and mental.  From my teenage years I struggled with depression.  Anxiety came along for the ride when I was in college.  When I was 18 (my first year of college) I had emergency surgery to remove my appendix, when they cut me open it turned out my appendix was fine but I had a huge cyst on my ovary that was pushing all of my organs out of the way.  After many years of cysts and other not so pleasant issues, I was finally diagnosed with PCOS in July of 2009.  In my mid to late 20’s I started to notice that I always hurt.  I started to have sleep issues.  I honestly didn’t think much of it at first.  Then, it just became a part of my life… I didn’t think much about it until I started having severe chest pain in February 2014.  I went to my doctor who said it was costochondritis (an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breast bone).  Since it was a new thing for me my doctor asked questions and checked some pressure points.  He told me he felt something wasn’t right and wanted to rule out RA and Lupus.  So I had plenty of blood drawn.  A few days later he called me to tell me that,thankfully, I did NOT have RA or Lupus.  However my blood showed a very high level of the marker for inflammation and he was positive I had fibromyalgia based on my symptoms and that blood test.

So, here we are.  I’m sick. I don’t generally say that, but it is what it is.  I spend my days fighting for my health in ways not many can understand.  I am always tired.  I always hurt.  I can have really bad days. Each flare is different – I never know what fun symptoms will pop up or how a fibro flare may affect my body to cause issues with my other illnesses. I have moments where I get so frustrated that I don’t have a ‘normal’ body that does what it’s supposed to. I sometimes take my pain and frustration out on those closest to me, but I never intend to.  I keep a lot of it to myself with those outside of my close circle for various reasons.
The real bitch? I usually don’t “look” sick, which throws a lot of people off and even has led to people saying that I’m not really sick or that I just need to “suck it up”. Those words hurt and they make fighting with my own body even harder at times because when I struggle I fear speaking up because I don’t want to be looked at in *that* way.  The way people look at others that they don’t believe or, even worse, pity.

So, what do spoons have to do with all of this?

In doing my research on fibro I came across But You Don’t Look where  Christine Miserandino wrote this amazing piece on what it is to be a spoonie, that is someone who lives with an illness that is chronic and often times invisible.  We don’t look sick, but we are.   The idea is that we start each day with a limited number of spoons and each activity we do costs us spoons.  Some days, often times many days, we run out of spoons before our day is done.  We have to think long and hard before we do something out of the norm for us.  Sometimes it can take days to fully recover from even something as seemingly simple as a shopping trip.

So, I am a spoonie.  I measure my days in spoons the way a person would count out spoons for a fancy dinner party to assure they have enough for everyone.  Some days are fantastic and full of energy, but often times and especially as of late, I can barely get myself to do what HAS to be done (work things, school work) let alone things that should be done (cleaning my house, cooking healthy meals).  In my case it seems like my list is linked together in some way… both PCOS and Fibro can cause depression and anxiety.  There are small studies that have shown a link between chronic pain illnesses and endocrine disorders (such as PCOS).

It’s not easy to live with a chronic illness of any type.  I’d imagine it’s not easy to live with someone who has a chronic illness, either.  My husband and good friends should be canonized as saints for dealing with me.  Seriously.

spooniegirl(image is my spoon tattoo taken right after it was completed)

So, aside from showing support for the spoonie community we got our spoon tattoos so that we will always and forever have an extra spoon when needed.

I am absolutely in love with mine.  I also think I have opened a crazy new obsession – tattoos.

spoonietrio(image is a collage of tattoos done today – my two friends and myself)

Slut Shaming or Why Bristol Palin is NOT a slut.

Let’s discuss… what is a “slut”?
I’m sure many of us have used this word in disgust at a woman we don’t like.  Maybe thrown this word out after a woman sleeps with a man we like or simply find attractive.  Or, maybe even, used this word toward one of our good friends whose sex life is different than ours is.  I know I have at all of the above, and it’s not something I’m proud of.

My late 90’s early 2000’s Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary my Gram got me for high school graduation (I’m sure she’d be thrilled it’s being used for this purpose, haha) defines a slut as:
“1. a slovenly woman
2. a – promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute
2. b – a saucy girl : minx

I typed into Google the following:  Define: Slut
and got this:
noun; derogatory
1. a woman who has many sexual partners
2. a woman with  low standards of cleanliness

Anyone else seeing the problem I am?  The word slut, is used as an insult to a woman who *gasp* dares to own her sexuality unabashedly.  A WOMAN.  Neither definition says “a person” or “anyone”. Neither definition includes “man” or “male”.  It is, simply, a woman.

Yesterday a friend posted an article about the slut shaming of Bristol Palin in the wake of her announcement that she is pregnant.  I am NOT a fan of the Palin family, overall.  However, I think that calling Bristol, a twenty five year old mother, a slut is a bit insane.  Hear me out…
Yes, she’s a hypocrite.  After her first child, Tripp, was born Bristol became a spokeswoman for The Candies Foundation and recorded a few PSAs on teen pregnancy.  That’s not so bad.  That doesn’t even make her a hypocrite… she was simply showing that life as a teen mom wasn’t easy or glamorous and attempting to deter young girls from getting pregnant.
However, she was also an abstinence educator, and therein lies the hypocrisy.  It’s fine that she decided to abstain from sex until marriage and to turn it into a job as a speaker.  However, to stand in front of how many thousands of people (I’m assuming) over the years and preach waiting until marriage when she actually wasn’t… that’s not okay.  That, you guessed it, makes her a hypocrite.

But how does her hypocrisy make her a slut?
Figure it out yet?
It doesn’t!

There is no set number of sexual partners or sexual encounters that is used to call a woman a slut.  Generally, that word seems to be thrown around when others are uncomfortable with a woman taking charge of her sexuality or they are jealous of the great sex and confidence that woman has.  Neither one is an appropriate reason to call someone a slut!
Think about it… a man has sex and nothing is said.  He has sex with one, two…ten partners and no one bats an eye.  He takes a woman home from the bar and he’s hot shit.  However that woman will likely be called a slut.  Why is it that in our society men are “allowed” to be sexual creatures and women are not?

Bristol was engaged and nearly made it to the nuptials, but something happened and it didn’t pan out.  She was with a man she planned to spend her life with and got pregnant, and from what she posted it was not an accident.  She made the CHOICE to get pregnant.  Now that she is single again she is making the choice to have the child.  How does this scream “slut”?  It doesn’t!  Hypocrite, yes.  Slut, no.

The idea that a woman taking charge of her sex life is a bad thing is something that needs to be erased from our society.  It goes even deeper than being called a slut.  If a woman is sexually assaulted, they are asked what they were drinking/wearing/doing/saying.  Automatically the blame falls on her because she’s a woman and of course the testosterone filled man just couldn’t help himself.  Heaven forbid if that woman is someone who has had sex before- that vile temptress!  Are you freaking kidding me!?  It is absolutely insane that this is the society we live in!  It’s time for a change.  Women are not looked at as property of men in this day and age so they should stop being treated as such in all respects.

It’s fine to have a lot of sex.  It’s fine to not have sex at all.  It’s fine to wait until marriage.  It’s fine to have sex with as many partners as you so choose, so long as they consent.  No one should ever make anyone feel bad for their sexuality.