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Archive for November, 2013

Incident Seven, or, How to Fail Your Finals

“Yes, Mother, I will be completely done next weekend, so I will be home Saturday morning. But I won’t be able to talk to this week. … Because I have five big finals. … Well, as well as a final, two classes also decided to assign us papers. … I am studying, I just wanted to call you and let you know so you wouldn’t worry if I didn’t return your calls later this week.”

It was moments like this when I missed having a cord landline phone. It wasn’t quite the same to slam your cell phone against the wall a few times.

“All right, all right, I’m going. Bye. Love you, too.”

Finally. Back to studying. I stared at the textbook sitting in my lap, but I barely saw any of the words. I already read this…it’s just been a few months. But, I mean, I did read it. How would rereading it help me any? If I read it correctly the first time, shouldn’t it be stored in my subconscious? I mean…I would definitely be better off trying to study by recalling the information rather than rereading it. Right?

I flipped the book shut and went to pick up the accompanying study guide. Somehow, my hand found the remote controller for the TV and hit the power button. Damnit. Why did I turn on the TV? Why was it already turned to my favorite channel? Why was TLC running a “What Not to Wear” marathon?

I narrowed my eyes. I can totally just listen to it while studying, right? Girls can multitask. It was, like, a proven fact. So I would just listen to it while reading through my study guide. I was sure that after a while I would get so into studying that I would completely forget about the TV. I was just having trouble getting started.

Oh, no, why was this an episode I had never seen before?? Wait, this girl is crazy! She wears *that* out in *public*?? I stuck my pen in my mouth and chewed on it, completely absorbed by the show. Clinton and Kelly are just super amazing. I almost wished I dressed terribly just so I could get on the show just so I could meet them. I would hug them. I wouldn’t be a bad contestant like this chick was. I would totally be super nice and open to all of their suggestions.

Wait, studying. Oh, is my phone vibrating? I pulled it back out of my pocket and sure enough, Josh was calling.

“Hey, Josh! … Oh, you know, just studying. Um…it’s, uh…” I moved the study guide and glanced at the textbook cover. “Oh, haha, right, Brit Lit. … No, I totally knew that. Just, you know, brain freeze. Too much studying…you start shoving information in there and more just comes out! What are you up to? … Right… Uh…I did just eat.” I glanced at the clock. It was 3:15 in the afternoon, and I had just had lunch. But it was Sunday, which means it was totally okay to eat an early dinner. Was that a rule? Probably.

“How about I meet you around 5 in the café? … Uh, no, I mean, I will probably need a study break by then. What about you? … Oh, you only have two finals? How did that happen? … Ug, that’s not fair. I have to write two papers as well as have five finals. … Well, the papers aren’t due until Thursday and Friday, and I pretty much started them. It’ll be fine. … Okay, I will see you then. … I am studying! Bye!”

I clicked off the screen and stuck it back into my pocket. Wait…better idea. I pulled it back out and turned off the sound and the vibrate option. There. No more distractions. I watched until the show went to commercial break and then was content to look back at my study guide.

I know this stuff, right? We sat through lectures on it. I just have to pull the information out of my brain’s filing cabinet. Oh, wait, wasn’t Jenny supposed to get back to me on the study group tomorrow morning? I should probably check Facebook and see if she messaged me back.

I could just check it on my phone…but I should stretch my legs. Don’t want to cramp up. My laptop was just a few steps away at the desk, but it felt good to get up. I pulled up the internet, and my homepage was full of new stories. I clicked through the rotating page for anything interesting. Oh, Mila Kunis had an interview? I love her.

Well, that was a dumb article. There was only one picture and it barely gave any of her responses. Lame. Oh, wait, I have 40 new emails? They have to be all junk. I should delete them, though…don’t want my inbox to get messy. Oh, and my spam folder is pretty full. I will just delete that, too. Oh, my friend emailed me back. Well…I will get back to her later, I guess.

Stay on target. Facebook. Jenny hadn’t emailed me back. Oh, well. I will check after dinner. Oh my gosh, Samantha got engaged??! Like! Comment: “Congratulations, girl!! So happy for you!!” That’s so sweet. They’ve been together, like, five years! I wonder if I will ever be engaged. I mean, I’m still young. Ug, why do I have so many notifications? I should just clear those out.

Oops, forgot to turn off instant messenger on here. Type: “Hey, Rick, I’m okay. How are you?” “Oh, great. Yeah, I’m just studying.” “Well, I had to send someone a quick message.”

Okay, so I shouldn’t have let the conversation drag on for five minutes. I’m done now. Totally done. Besides, I’m missing the WNTW transformation. Oh, wait, it’s Sunday! I totally missed the video my favorite youtuber put up Saturday! I will just check that out really quickly. They’re only, like, five minutes. Youtube…

Oh my god, so hilarious. I’m so glad I watched that. Oh, they uploaded three new videos? I might as well watch them now, or else I will just get distracted later.

Wait, what’s this one? That looks interesting…

*Knock, knock, knock*

“Coming!” Who on Earth could that be? “Oh, hey, Josh! What are you doing?”

“Uh, Kat, it’s 5:20. I waited and called you, like, five times.”

“Ohh…sorry! My phone is off. I didn’t realize how late it is! I will just grab my stuff.”

I will have so much time to study later. No more distractions.

“Hey, did you know that they’re playing the Lord of the Rings movies later? We should watch one together!”

“What? Oh, I haven’t seen them in forever!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot you had to study.”

“Noo…I mean, I do…but…I can totally study while we watch them, right?”

Yep. I am super good at multitasking.

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I heard Lorde’s song “Royals” from my random tours around youtube, and I was not super impressed. I remember clicking on the video because the thumbnail picture looked interesting, and I had never heard of whatever Lorde was. I watched about a minute and turned it off. Too mellow for me.

Then I kept hearing her name and saw her popping up in the news either because she was so young and yet so talented, or because she was so young and new to the industry and yet decided she needed to publicly bash other singers/performers. Still didn’t really try listening to anything.

Then a friend at work asked me if I had ever listened to her and said I would like two of her songs. I said I would try it. So a few days later I youtubed her again and found another video she released, “Tennis Court.” After watching it the first time, I was like…that was weird. Then I thought about it some more and ended up going back and watching it again, and I was hooked. I loved the song.

So I listened to the 30 second clips on amazon and had a gift card and decided to just download it. I actually surprised myself and do not regret buying it. As a quick sidenote, if I based what music I liked on whether I liked the singer as a person, I wouldn’t listen to a lot of my music I’m sure. I try to separate the person from what they produce unless they’re, like, a really terrible person. So this is minus whether she really thinks she’s better than seasoned singers or whatever entertainment reporters are saying.

The CD is mellow over all. She reminds just slightly of Adele as far as the type of music (she doesn’t sound anything like her). But it’s a relaxing, different kind of CD. As stated before, I’m a little tired of the current pop music mostly because it all sounds the same (and it all sounds bad), but her sound is nothing like what I’ve heard on the radio lately. It’s not super mainstream I don’t think, and while I’m sure that will eventually change as it always does, I’m enjoying the fact that she got so popular without being anything like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus. Her songs to me are mostly about the sameness and seemingly meaninglessness of being a teenager who thinks the moment they’re living in *is* everything.

Anyways, if you’re looking for something clean, mellow, and not bubble-gum pop, check it out. I suggest listening to “Tennis Court,” “Royals,” and “400 Lux” before buying it. I think you like at least two out of those three, you will probably like the CD for the most part.

-AV

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Incident Six, or, Being a Holiday Hypocrite

“Okay, Mom, what time is Thanksgiving dinner?” I looked over at Josh and rolled my eyes, to which he responded with a smirk.

“No, it’s not the same time every year.” I sighed. This “quick call” she planned what not so quick after all, which was typical mother. I was trying to hurry it up so I could finally go and eat something with Josh. I had forgotten about a test in one class and thus panicked and skipped lunch so I could study. That ended up being a dumb plan because I could have eaten while studying, and I could have just eaten in general, because I was pretty sure I didn’t exactly pass it, anyways.

The holidays make everyone cranky, including professors designing tests, apparently.

And also apparently my mother, who was lecturing me on making sure I was home in time because it was an important family event, blah blahblahblahblah. I went home almost every other weekend. It wasn’t like she never got to see me, or that I lived hours and hours away from home. I was an hour away, and she was being way too stressed out over this.

“Mom, seriously, what time is dinner? … Because I need to go and eat. … I’m sorry I’m being mean, but seriously…I’m starving!”

Josh leaned over and whispered, “Come on. We’ll just start walking while you talk.”

I grabbed my hoodie and purse and made sure the door was locked. Mom was now off of Thanksgiving dinner and somehow on the old argument of why I had to live in a dorm room when I was so close to home. I considered just hanging up and blaming poor cell phone reception in aforementioned dorm room when she suddenly jumped again and landed on the question at hand.

“Well, just be home by two o’clock. I imagine we will be eating around three or so in the afternoon.”

“All right. Hey, you know vacation starts, like, two days before Thanksgiving, right? I’ll already be home.” I looked over at Josh’s mouth-open expression and winked. If she was going to drive me crazy, I was going to at least give her a run for her money.

“Katrina, are you even kidding me right now? Why have we been having this conversation if being home wasn’t even a problem—“

I tuned her out and put a hand over the bottom of the phone. Josh jabbed me and said, “You’re horrible to your poor mother! You made her think this whole time you had classes up until Thanksgiving?”

“She’s fine. She’ll get over it.” Talking into the phone again, I cut her off in mid-sentence. “Hey, why so early, anyways? Despite what you said earlier, we normally eat around five.”

Mom sighed and decided to just lose the current battle. “Well, if you must know, I decided I was going to try Black Friday shopping this year.”

“What? Mother!” I stopped walking and stared in dismay at Josh, who cocked his head at me. “Are you even kidding? Why would you do that?”

“Don’t worry about me. Your dad is coming with me and a couple of other friends. We’re car pulling. And there’s not usually the violence around here like there is in the bigger cities—“

“That’s not what I meant! How can you shop on Thanksgiving Day knowing that the poor workers running the store can’t be with their families because they have to work? Don’t you feel bad for them? You’re choosing to not spend as much time with your family, but they’re being forced to because they need the job.”

“Oh, Katrina, don’t lecture me. I’m not in the mood.” I could picture her waving her hand dismissively in the air. “There are just too many good deals this year for me to pass up. It’s not like you’re working.”

“No, but what if I have to next year, and you won’t even see me at dinner at all because I have to be in some store preparing for the psycho shoppers to arrive? Pretty soon stores will be open even on Christmas. No breaks for family time at all. Wouldn’t that be awful? Can’t people go one freaking day without shopping??”

“Well, honey, I have to go. See you in a few days I guess. Love you, bye.”

I looked over at Josh with narrowed eyes. “She just hung up on me!”

“Well, you were being kind of a brat,” he pointed out.

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. I can’t believe she’s buying into that Black Friday crap.”

“I’ve gone before. I know it’s a plague on all of American humanity, but it is what it is. One person not going isn’t going to stop it, and you would never be able to convince everyone to not go. That would only happen if you could stop the stores from running all of the deals.”
“I know. It’s the principle of the thing.” I frowned. “Are you going this year?”

“I don’t know. Depends on how tired I am. But the mall down from where we live is running a lot of discounts. Some of the stores are offering a discount off of your whole total, like 20% off or something. And your favorite store in the whole world? Buy 2 Get 1 Free. Whole store.”

“Really?” I looked at him with wide eyes but quickly looked away. “No. I can’t.”

“I know, right? If only you hadn’t just lectured your mother on your little soap box, you could totally go and get all of those titles you’ve been wanting.” He was quiet for a minute while my thoughts ran rampant, and then he added, “Oh, and that clothing store beside it that you squeal over constantly? They’re running the 20% off the total plus Buy 1 Get 1 Half Off almost everything.”

“No!” I gasped, covering my heart with my hand. “That’s too big of a deal!”

“Right? They figure they will have so many shoppers that they can clear out the older inventory and still make money.”

I bit my lip and stared at Josh. “I mean…are you going?” I asked again in a weak voice.

“You know…now that I think about it more, I think I definitely am. Probably by myself, too, so there will be no one else in my car.”

“I mean…you really shouldn’t go on your own. What if…what if there’s a riot and you get hurt? What if you car breaks down and your cell phone dies? You really should have someone else with you.”

“I don’t know who would want to go.”

I gave him a long side-glance. “Don’t tell my mother,” I snapped as I power walked past him, furious at my mother, Josh, but mostly myself. Damn materialistic culture.

(Just for the record, I have never gone out Thanksgiving night. I once went Friday mid-morning and found much less of a crowd and still good deals. From working in retail, I really do hate the idea of stores being open on major holidays…not so much for the religious aspect, like with Christmas, but for the idea of people being able to spend key times with their families).
-AV

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This isn’t going to be a blog slamming horror/graphic films or the people watching them. However, I was thinking about this all last week, because for some reason, horror movies kept coming up in conversations. I tell people all of the time that I don’t watch horror movies that include graphic or explicit material (to an extent…I will go into that). This inevitably comes up when a friend says, “Oh, we should go to a movie together sometime!” I have learned that I have to follow up my agreement with a sentence such as, “But I don’t watch horror movies.”

Now, I’m not talking psychological thrillers as a whole or even “scary” movies as a whole, although I don’t typically like scary movies because I am seriously one of the easiest people to scare that I know. I like thrillers, especially when they’re well done. But my friends almost instantly know what I mean, because this has become a huge trend in my lifetime–these movies that are disgusting and graphic purely for the sake of being disgusting and graphic. There are some movies, and I would argue that are not as prominent as they used to be, that have graphic scenes in them that actually further the plot and are necessary…but sometimes they show more than they need to show, considering everyone watching them should be old enough to fill in the blanks well enough. There is nothing left to the imagination anymore. But not to go off on a tangent…

I have recently started following up my original statement or whatever they say next with, “There are two things I don’t willingly watch. One, torture or extremely gorey movies. Two, rape movies.”

And again, my friends know what I mean, because these movies are now everywhere. The “Saw” movies. The movies like “I Spit on Your Grave.” “Last House on the Left.” Will. Not. Do. It. I wouldn’t make it five minutes without throwing up, and I don’t throw up. And it’s not even that. I read short articles about these movies or overhear someone saying something about them and I’m literally scarred for years. I will just be daydreaming or thinking about something benign and then suddenly one of those movies or scenes will pop into my head and I will just get sick about it. I will think about it and think about it over and over and over again for probably the rest of my life. I have some weird mental issue that I can’t control, apparently. If there is torture for the sake of being disgusting, or if there’s a graphic or even remotely gone-into rape scene, I want nothing to do with it.

The thing is, rarely do I get the response, “Oh, I don’t, either! Let’s go see ‘The Lion King’.” In fact, I almost never get a, “Oh, okay, that’s cool. I completely understand.” The most usual response I get is something along the lines of, “What? Why not? They’re so awesome!” And then my brain just goes off and starts filling in the rest of their words: “What? Why not? They’re so awesome! I just love seeing babies beaten to death and animals cut open and women violated and people torn into pieces but somehow still left alive! It just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside BECAUSE I’M SECRETLY A PSYCHOPATHIC SERIAL KILLER.”

Again…I have brain problems. I don’t *actually* believe that….I do think it, though, and sometimes seriously wonder. But I have somewhat come to terms with people from ages of basically children to adult enjoying disturbing films. I have accidentally watched movies that have a scene or two of violence in them, and I’m always like, “Ug, why didn’t I check this out better before watching it??!” Not, “Omg, coolest thing ever!” For example, if anyone has seen “Pan’s Labyrinth”? Great movie, but I decided to watch it without really researching it first. I read the overall summary and was like, “Sounds awesome!” And then there were two pretty graphic violent scenes in them, and short-lived as they are, I am still scarred over them. The worst one was a scene in which the “bad guy” beats an innocent old man to death with a bottle. I literally felt bile in the back of my throat and thankfully I quickly covered my ears and closed my eyes. I can’t watch that stuff or think about it without feeling ill. It’s just the way that I am.

I am more disturbed not over the fact that people like to “scare themselves” by watching these movies as I am over the fact that these movies are typically now considered “lame…not even scary” and that I am looked weirdly at or made fun of for not watching them. I have had people try to convince me to start watching them. What?? Why is it so strange that I don’t like to watch torture and suffering of other human beings or animals? I can’t even watch the news anymore, because it happens all over the world. In fact, I usually make that arguement. “Why pay money to go see it? Just watch the news and you will see it happening for real somewhere.”

And I think that’s a big part of the problem. I get sick about it because it does happen. Maybe not the ghost films so much, but how about “Saw”? Ever heard of the serial killer H.H. Holmes? He basically built a labyrinth of torture and killed tons of people. Any of the rape movies? Any of the “this person was torture and killed” movies? Seriously…check the world news. Maybe it’s not always in the U.S., but it happens every day to someone somewhere in the world. And we shouldn’t be watching movies about it and thinking, “That’s awesome!” Do people then watch the news about a little child that was molested and killed and think the same thing? They watched a movie where it happened and were proud of themselves for being able to watch it. Why react differently to the news? Does that make sense?

I’m not even trying to argue that every movie should be PG and butterflies and unicorn candy. But I really don’t think I should be the one made to feel weird because I don’t enjoy or agree with twisted movies. I believe in free speech and all that crap about you can make a movie about whatever you want because you have rights. But think about it.

-AV

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I’ve talked about my problems related to food before, but in the likely even that you didn’t read it and don’t care to read back through my blogs, I will quickly re-relate it. I’ve always been overweight. Sometimes I was very overweight, and sometimes I was a little overweight, but I’ve never been thin or “right where I’m supposed to be” according to doctor’s charts and my pants’ size. Some of it might be genetics, some of it is probably a hormonal problem (and I actually have good reason to think that), but a lot of it is because I’m an emotional eater. I can now jokingly tell people that I deal with my problems by eating, but that’s actually the sad truth. It’s better now that it ever was, which is why I can joke a little about it, but I used to cry about it. Crying, in fact, was part of eating. Sadness, depression, self-hatred, crying…and eating. It all went hand-in-hand everyday. I remember sneaking food when I was younger, and I remember logically telling myself that stuffing myself until I couldn’t breathe wouldn’t actually stop my feelings (although, actually, it kind of did a little…even a small reward will continue bad behavior), and I remember going on strick diets of no sugar, no wheat, only 500 calories a day, etc. Nothing worked. When I finally would lose weight, it was either a complete mystery as to why or it was preceeded by a medical problem I have had most of my life.

This is more of what this blog is about. Way back in 8th grade, I believe it was summer of ’02, the doctor told me I had IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And I fit all of the symptoms for years and years. It first struck me the summer before 8th grade, and my family made our first trip to Washington, D.C. I remember we were in the Smithsonian, and despite travel making me nervous and crowds making me uncomfortable, I was super excited. I loved museums and I loved science and history. However, I started feeling really sick. I think at first I thought it was the heat and the fact that I was tired. But then I was like…I need to use the bathroom. I rushed to the nearest one, and I had diarrhea badly. Sorry for the details. The most distinct thing I remember was how angry my mother was with me. Now, this isn’t a bashing on my mother thing…she came to understand, but right then she didn’t. She thought I was being my usual dramatic self, and she thought I was making it up, and she thought I just wanted to go home because I was tired and hot. I remember being crushed on top of in pain, but I made it through the rest of the museum and the rest of the weekend. Finally she took me to the doctors because I kept up about my symptoms, and he told me I had IBS, and he gave me some pills. The pills were super strong and actually ended up making the diarrhea worse after a while, so I had to cut back the dosage. I remember the *horrible* dry mouth they gave me. And I remember worrying about starting school with my new problem.

Eventually it faded away. From then on, it came and went, sometimes severe and for a short time, and sometimes moderate and a little longer, or both, or anywhere in between. Sometimes it was without warning. As time went on, it basically became a thing I could predict 90% of the time, because I would have what I called a “flare-up” whenever there was something stressful in my life, usually starting a new job or going on a trip to somewhere new. All the things, of course, in which you don’t need the added stress of a problem like that. Especially since…I dealt with my problems by eating.

But when I didn’t have flare-ups, I kept up the emotional eating, the dieting, the emotional self-abuse. Sick, eat, sick, eat, diet, eat, sick, diet…it was up and down and up and down.

Recently, I started a new job. I work in a building that’s underground, and I was so lucky as to get thrown on the night shift to start out. I was more upset about the night-shift part, because the building was so well-lit and spacious I never felt claustrophobic. Between my usual problems and flip-flopping my whole life basically, new problems started arising. At first, I had the usual semi-upset stomach, where I would be sick the second I got to work (made worse by the long drive and my long history of motion sickness), but then that faded. Once I was established on the night shift, I actually was eating more than usual again. I put on a few pounds and I complained that I needed to start watching again. “Luckily” for me, I didn’t have to worry about forcing myself to stop eating so much.

A few months after being on night-shift, I would wake up around 7 pm and be extremely nauseated. I would taste bile in the back of my throat and just feel like I wanted to throw up. A little bit before this, I started feeling dizzy and light-headed a work a lot, and some of that I did chalk up to poor ventilation and being underground. Everyone told me that no matter how nice it was, there was still dampness and therefore molds, and apparently the pressure caused some sensitive people to develop vertigo, which my mother had a few years ago. I eventually went to the doctor when it wouldn’t go away, and he told me I developed acid reflux. He gave me a pill to take twice a day. It didn’t do much, and I went back. He gave me a different one that did less, so I switched back to the original. I was also developing bad allergy problems along with having colds and ear infections constantly. Eventually, probably three or so months later, the nausea mostly went away, although I still take the pills twice a day. Some days are worse than others, but it left me not eating when I woke up and not until we had our break at work, around 3:30 AM.

Then came the worst symptoms of all, which lead me to the present. About the last week in September, I started getting severe symptoms. I was getting sharp, severe pain in my pelvic region that would wrap around into my lower back. The only way I could describe it was that it felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat and was now all bruised internally. It felt sore and swollen, and then there were sharp stabs of pain on top of that. If I ate anything or had eaten anything, once that started up, I would have severe diarrhea. Once that was gone, though, I still had the pain. I would feel like my abdomen was distended and I felt like it was way bigger than it was. Everytime I looked in the mirror I was surprised by how small it looked compared to how huge it felt. I would break out in cold sweat and feel clammy. I stopped eating when I got up and didn’t eat all night. As you can imagine, that wasn’t entirely healthy either. Take someone who wants to eat constantly and let her only eat once every 24 hours. I tried to stick with neutral foods like toast, but eventually I got so hungry I would eat everything I could grab when I got in the door in the morning. But every night, when I woke up, the pain would start again. I fought through it for weeks, until my doctor finally said I had to get a CT scan or he couldn’t do anything else for me.

Let’s summarize a little. The CT scan showed some fluid in my pelvis, which my gyno said was normal. I was so frustrated I decided to just fight through it, until I couldn’t do it anymore. I now am awaiting an appointment with a digestive doctor. I wonder if it’s a sudden onset of colitis, because I don’t know what else it would be. I’m at my wits’ end. I eat all weekend, because I know I won’t eat much during the week. I dropped almost 15 pounds for a while, but then I started eating so much on the weekends that I gained a little back, so I’m down only 10 pounds. Since I eat so little during the week, my metabolism isn’t working right. I started getting mini-panic attacks at work and I still get light-headed randomly, and my mood has been all over the place, especially toward the end of the work week. I’m scared to eat outside of my house. I’m super depressed again.

And I can’t look past the irony of thinking all of my life, “If only I could stop eating. If only I would get sick so often that I would lose weight and not be able to eat,” to now thinking, “I would give anything to not be sick. I would give anything to decide if I wanted to eat or not. I would give anything to not be so sick that I can’t eat.” Food has always ran my life, and it still is, just in a different way. I hope I can find answers soon, but the depressed part of me says that the path will be long and too trying for my nerves. If you have any thoughts, similar stories, or words of wisdom, they are all welcome.

-AV

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Autumn Falling

A golden glow, the light shining through the trees,
A vermillion glow, as blood dripping from the leaves.
The oncoming cold muffles the sounds,
And I drive, under an oncoming wall of black clouds.
A biting gale shakes the branches dolefully
As the land seems to heave a sigh woefully.
Soon the hue of the leaves will be dead;
Soon the snow from the sky will be bled;
And the earth will freeze and shiver,
Holding onto dreams of spring delivered.

Fall makes me contemplative and somewhat bittersweetly sad. Yet, it remains my favorite season.
–AV

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