Summer 2014: What I Was Into

May, June, July,  August: Summer 2014 flew by for me. I started a new job in the spring, muddled my way through my kidney problems and diagnoses, started new medications, went on vacation, came home and got a promotion, and now August is almost over and now it’s September.  It was a challenging summer, but a good one.

#kidneyproblems

Where do I begin with my #kidneyproblems (I’ve decided to stop fighting and simply embrace hashtags)?  Between insurance changes and long wait times before I could see a specialist, I didn’t visit a nephrologist (kidney specialist) until the end of May. The only way to find out for sure what was going on with my kidneys was to have a biopsy of my kidney.  Alas, with more insurance confusion, it took almost another month to schedule and then have the procedure.

 Within a week of the biopsy, though, I received a diagnosis: a kind of glomerularnephritis (kidney inflammation) called IgA nephropathy. According to my kidneys, I’ve had this inflammation for 5-10 years, without symptoms.  When I caught a virus in the airport or airplane on my way home from Mexico, it set off the underlying kidney inflammation.  All those unpleasant symptoms I had in April, May, and June (including kidney pain, overwhelming fatigue, and other unmentionables) had nothing to do with being in Mexico–I’ve had this disease for years.

After receiving this diagnosis, I started medications to try to reduce the inflammation, which I’m still taking as of this writing.  Almost immediately after starting the medication, I felt like I woke up from a three-month long fog.  I finally had energy again and I no longer felt fatigued all the time (just some of the time).  Alas, even with these benefits, my medication also has its downsides, including sometimes causing me to wake up at 4:30 AM and making me want to eat all the time.  It’s been a long summer of figuring out how to handle being on all the different new medications and coping with their side effects.  In September, though, I may be able to start making some medication changes—I’m just waiting on my next nephrologist appointment.

Vacation

There are few things I love more than vacation, and particularly a vacation at Lakeside.   For one week every year, I am able to go to my happy place.  I have a whole week to read, spend time with family, and eat delicious food, and it is glorious.  While I was more tired than usual this year (thanks kidneys),  I still found a way to finish twelve books, enjoy my family, and appreciate sunsets on the dock.

photo (23)

photo (21)

photo (22)

Promotion

I started working at the library in April as a Bilingual Circulation Clerk. As will shock no one who knows me, I love working at the library.  I have direct access to nearly any book I want AND I get to help people: two of my favorite things.   In July, I went on vacation for two weeks in Ohio (and it was GLORIOUS).  Upon my return, I was offered a promotion to Library Associate–and I took it! It meant a chance for more hours as well as a significant pay increase.  Instead of working in Circulation, I now work at the Information Desk at the same branch of the library.  I work with people from so many different walks of life–I never know what kind of problem people might need help solving.  I sometimes help patrons find books or research information, but I primarily help troubleshoot computer, email, and internet problems. I also teach computer classes in Spanish twice a month.  This new job has been a great opportunity for me and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Books

As will surprise no one, my love of books has only been encouraged by my library job.  I’m still not quite where I need to be to meet my 100 books-in-2014 goal, but I made a lot of progress this summer.  You can check out my Goodreads page (if you have a Goodreads account) for the full list, but here are some of my favorites from this summer.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (memoir)

Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match by Amy Webb (memoir)

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe (audiobook memoir)

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (true crime, polygamous mormons)

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman (young adult fiction, WWII)

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier (young adult fiction, 1917 influenza epidemic)

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (epistolary fiction, law)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (suspense fiction, dinosaurs)

End of Summer

At the end of each month this summer, I would think about writing that month’s “what I’m into” post.  Alas, I could never muster up the energy and thinking skills to actually write something. Being sick all the time will do that to you.  Here’s hoping that this fall, things will be different.  I have some ideas about what I would like to write and publish here, most likely including reviewing some of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  We shall see what my kidneys decide.

What I’m Into: July 2013

Well, July happened. I went on a family vacation and then bridesmaided in another wedding.  I just got a short-term 2-3 day a week nanny job to make a little money before I move to Mexico. And I liked things, so here is my What I’m Into, modeled off of HopefulLeigh’s What I’m Into” series.

TV

Because I was traveling a lot in the early parts of July, I really didn’t watch a lot of new TV. I was enjoying my family and doing nothing, and then I was bridesmaiding.  There was a lot of rewatching of my perennial favorites, like 30 Rock and and HIMYM, but for most of early July, I didn’t delve in to new TV. Also, all my traveling caught up with me and I got some kind of allergies/cold/sinus infection combination and I pretty much laid in bed for many days.  Along with continuing rewatches, I picked back up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched the first season sometime last year, but then just dropped it.  It is my new favorite thing, and I’m already almost done with Season 3. It’s crazy and weird, but it’s fascinating.

Books 

My family vacation to Lakeside is where I read. A lot. Hours in the car and on the porch of our rental home are spent reading, reading, reading. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you will see many pictures from various family members of this years time at Lakeside, and in nearly every picture, I’m reading a different book.  I finished quite a few books this month, and started/got stuck/abandoned quite a few, too.

I love being able to catalog my reading habits on Goodreads.  It frees up a little space in my brain, so I don’t have to remember every single book on my to-read list (which is ridiculous) or even recently read list. It’s also fun to catalog my thoughts as I read.  See especially my reading updates on Killing Kennedy, in which I quoted it’s ridiculous foreshadowing of Kennedy’s upcoming assassination. Spoiler Alert: Killing Kennedy is about the Kennedy Assassination.

I finished 8 books on my vacation (including the aforementioned Killing Kennedy).  Two favorites were Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm and The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Both of these books are memoirs of women who left their normal life and decided to do something crazy, something that they’ve always wanted to do: working on an oyster farm and going to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, respectively.  I really enjoyed these books, because I love memoir and because I highly identified with stories of crazy life change. Shucked, I happened to find on Anthropologie’s Instagram.  Yes, that’s weird, but it had a pretty cover and hey I judge books by their covers.  Let’s face it, I love memoirs, and I wish I had brought a dozen more.

When I last went to Mexico, I read America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins, which detailed the history of women in America for its first 400 years, up until about the 60’s. Somehow, I had no idea she had also written a “sequel”about the incredible changes for women since 1960, When Everything Changed The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.  I highly recommend both of these books if you enjoy history.  Neither are action-packed, but they’re fascinating.

When it comes to “beach reads,” I have a very low threshold for inanity. However, after taking The President’s Club to read on the dock, I quickly realized that I needed to bring something a little less educational.  The answer was Divergent.  Once I conquered the slow first few chapters, the book LITERALLY jumped a speeding train and became a fascinating and quick read.  I finished it in about a day, and my cousin and sister were able to finish it by the end of the week. If you like dystopia or young adult lit, give this book a try. I’m on the waiting list for its sequel at the library and I’m just hoping it arrives before I leave. 

My other favorite of books I read on vacation was The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. I first loved Maureen from her fabulous twitter. She is constantly hilarious about all sorts of random topics.  Now that she has a puppy, she is on fire. I email my best friend tweets from Maureen about 10 times a week.  Madness Underneath, sequel to The Name of the Star, was simultaneously great and horrifying (in the best way), which is exactly how I like my entertainment these days.  I typically don’t enjoy books about supernatural phenomena, but Johnson’s spin on a ghost story is different from any paranormal story I’ve previously encountered.  If you like England and humor, try it.

Music

I’ve been trying out Spotify’s “Discover” feature, whereby it suggests similar music to what you have previously listened to or it reminds you to listen to a song you haven’t heard in awhile. Their suggestions are good, but I’ve rarely ever found music that I fell in love with from an algorithmically chosen suggestion. My enjoyment of music is rooted in what the music is paired with.  For example, was the song in an important scene in a favorite TV show? Which really means, was it in Chuck?  See nearly all of my recently played music for more than the last year on Spotify. Wanting to listen to music from Chuck was 90% of the reason I used Spotify in the first place. Vampire Weekend and the Head and the Heart are examples of bands I have started to enjoy based on liking more of their songs than what appeared in Chuck, etc.   The recommendations and suggestions from a computer program just aren’t the same.

Magazines

One of my favorite air traveling pastimes is to buy a New York Times or an unexpected magazine while I wait in the airport.  Apparently, Dallas Love Field does not sell the New York Times, or they had just sold out by early afternoon.  In protest, I went the complete opposite direction of the NYTimes and bought a $3 Teen Vogue with Emma Watson on the cover.  It was hilarious and terrible and totally worth $3.

Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue

PS

Next month, I will start posting from Mexico.  I don’t know what media I’ll be consuming once Spanish school starts, but I’m sure I will find a way to stay entertained. It just might be in Spanish.

Feelings

I cried 3 out of 5 work days last week. This is what happens when you go to a funeral on Monday, have your last day of teaching and know that your students will be someone else’s and not yours next year on Thursday, visit a sick student in the hospital on Friday morning, and say goodbye to a beloved coworker who’s retiring to homeschool her children (one of whom you taught all year) on Friday afternoon.

Last week had too many feelings.

I’ve had to do too many “brave things” lately. This is not a reference to the as yet unseen by me Pixar movie. Instead, it is thing made-up by me as a way to define doing things that are hard for me, cause a lot of feelings, and that I don’t want to do because of fear. And ok, sometimes laziness. And while I will allow laziness (rest) to make some decisions for me, fear does not have that signatory approval over my decision making.

But man, doing brave things is exhausting. It’s not for sissies.

Crying isn’t for sissies either. It shows that something was real, that it had meaning. Which is great, but it still all feels terrible.

I started a new job today. So there’s that in my glass case of emotion. Don’t worry, I haven’t left my work–Same place, different responsibilities, new job.

Being brave isn’t for sissies.

Goodbye July

In my current time zone, it’s already August. I can’t believe that July has ended.  It’s been another crazy month.  Then again, I don’t think my life is capable of having not crazy ones.

I recovered from being in a wedding.

I painted a lot of walls in a church.

I went on vacation with my crazy family.

I read books.

I played on a summer league team that made it to the championship game. But I couldn’t play in that final game because I sprained my ankle in the semifinals.  Curse my weak ankles.

I finished knitting a hat. Finally.

The best part of July 2010, though? I got hired for my dream job. I start in two weeks. So come on August. Bring your crazy as long as you also bring the awesome. I’m ready.

Conundrum

I’m sitting on a screened-in porch. I love screened-in porches. Whenever I have my own home, I want one.

Sitting here on this porch, I think I just accepted something that I don’t really want to accept. I think and think and think about some subjects, mulling over a decision or a problem or a conundrum.

I’ve been thinking about his particular conundrum for about a year. And sometimes, my head and my heart actually join together and decide: “You’ve thought enough. You’re done. This is how it’s going to be.  Accept it. Embrace it. Obsess over something else.”

Apparently sometimes is now.

I reserve the right to unaccept it later.

July

It’s July.  How did that happen?  June really did fly by.  I’ve barely even processed the last week or so.  So much has happened and is happening now that I just don’t quite know what to do with myself.

I drove to Cleveland a lot. And my sister moved in with me–then I didn’t need to drive to Cleveland anymore.

I was a bridesmaid in the craziest wedding that will ever be.

I went to Cedar Point. And rode many roller coasters, including the 4th tallest roller coaster in the world.

I think I’m getting a sinus infection.

I wrote letters, sent texts, typed facebook messages, and called people. Desperately trying to stay in touch with people I love.

I enrolled for grad school.

I bought a new water bottle.

I joined an Ultimate Summer League.

I still have little to read.

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing–but I know I’m in the right place so I just keep going.

I miss the Little Light House.

July. Be awesome.