Aside

Hamilton & Diversity

I had the privilege of going down to San Francisco recently to see the traveling cast of Tony award winning Hamilton. Now if you’re unfamiliar at all with Hamilton, it is a musical based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and what history books generally gloss over.

Lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda takes you into each character of Alexander’s narrative with rich songs full of intrigue at a rapid pace that has you on the edge of your seat. The cast does not dare to take a second too long rest between songs, and keeps his world spinning time and time again. Speaking of spinning, the show utilizes a rotating inner stage in which they even reverse for certain songs. It was truly a masterpiece.

But what truly is the forefront of Hamilton is its use of diversity in theatre on such a grand scale. Something that I’ve always admired about TV and television production is the notion of blind casting which was used for the show Grey’s Anatomy specifically, but it meant that actors were not cast for characters with skin color in mind. That was what Lin tried to with Hamilton, and succeeded.

See where as Lin was not only the writer of this show but he played Hamilton in the original New York Broadway run of the show, and Lin himself is of Puerto-Rican descent. Subsequently he makes sure that for each of his shows that a majority of the leads are people of color. This was true of the production I saw in San Francisco, and I honestly would never think to change it.

My Hamilton was played by Michael Luwoye, a young black man. He did phenomenal as far as I am concerned. Something else that really struck me was the character of Angelica Schuyler played by Emmy Raver-Lampman. She had this beautiful hairstyle including a half shaved head, which I think contrasted against the period clothing she wore was very eye catching.

While Hamilton is the story of a white founding father, and very much a story that is something aligned in the ‘american dream’ it is important for us to make the american dream accessible for everyone inside our country so that includes through the media allowing people of other cultures and races to feel at home. Everyone can be Hamilton because of his unnerving want and will to better his world. And if we can step forward and accept others opportunity is just as great as ours, I think the world could be such a greater place.

For more Hamilton content you can buy the soundtrack and mixtape (which is a series of popular musicians covering some of the songs) as well as the novel it was based on, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and watch the PBS documentary on how the show came to be. It is worth the investment to see the show.

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TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger 

My Person: Where are our female friendships?

I want to preface this post by giving a little bit of insight about me. I haven’t always been a social butterfly and growing up I had a small central friend group that broke entirely around the time I was in 10th grade. Ever since then I understood how hard you have to work for a friendship, and how to regain friends, and just simply overall I had a hard time. So I have my one female best friend right now whom I refer to as my person and I have a small close, tight knit group of other friends who are primarily long distance or online friends. For me, an introvert, that’s really beneficial.

So let’s get into this post. What’s it about? My opinions

no really though,

I want to discuss how we see friendships of women in tv and how beneficial it is to younger viewers. I’ve always found in times where my own friendships were scarce or failing, I can find something to bond to. How women a portrayed on media is really a precursor to how women in society act. And what I mean by that is that young girls see what’s on screen and without knowing they mimic it. It’s a subconscious thing, where you aren’t aware of it. You imitate Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica more than you think- trust me. We like to take snippets of pop culture and reimagine ourselves through it.

What female friendships do is give women standards that they can expect from each other, and say that I want someone like that- and it’s honestly about bringing one another up. Friendships are not always conventional and I’ll discuss how the infamous “I’m your person” phrase from Grey’s Anatomy comes about next.

If you haven’t seen the scene, here it is:

 

Okay so let’s talk about context. Cristina and Meredith have only known each other for a season and Cristina is pregnant with Burke’s baby and she doesn’t want it. In order for Cristina to sign off on the abortion she has to put someone down as an emergency contact. She has no family in Seattle and chooses Meredith to be her ‘person’. Cristina is no nonsense about feelings, and generally has a disposition of focusing on her work rather than personal life. She shuts away a lot. Meredith and Cristina get along fairly well by this point in the series as work friends, they’ve gone out drinking with the rest of the group before but they’re hardly what’s considered a normal best friends situation.

Which again begs a question of what even is a normal best friend situation like? Newsflash there really isn’t one as long as you aren’t manipulative or abusive, which friendships can be. Cristina marked their friendship, and despite her never following through with the abortion due to other causes- Meredith kept her obligation her. She became her person and in return Cristina became hers. They were always there for each other even if they didn’t agree with each other, or if they bickered or disagreed- there was a mutual respect and the want for each other to thrive and grow. Girls supporting girls does not have to be a complex idea. It really just means letting your friends exist in an environment where they feel appreciated and understood. You don’t have to text every day or get fancy with gifts for them. You just have to be someone to lean on and someone who they can let go with.

There’s a beauty in women’s friendships because women feel inseparable when they’re with someone who understands them. What Cristina and Meredith demonstrate is this thing that I witnessed at a younger age because of the broadcast program I was in but it’s that women in jobs have this weird like sixth sense friendship. I don’t really understand it fully myself but what I knew is I attached to this girl and we were the best of work friends. I went to her place sometimes. Hung out once in a while, she was part of my friend group that broke but I stayed on this fence between friends and work friends. But more so I felt like even though I wasn’t her best friend, or person, I could trust her. Trust is such a big part of female friendships. That’s what’s important here. TRUST.

I had issues in friendships where I was manipulative or mean, because I wanted control and I desperately never want that in a friendship again.

Okay so now let’s talk because Cristina Yang left Grey’s Anatomy in s10 after a messy season where she fought with Meredith a lot- and that entire storyline was suddenly and magically solved whereas in my opinion it needed better closure. So Cristina has been gone for years now and I just find that frankly what Grey’s Anatomy is putting forward isn’t enough.

Grey’s season 13 is lacking strong female friendships. And what’s worse than that? They’re breaking girl code 101 by creating this weird as hell love triangle between Meredith, Nathan, and Maggie. Like for me it was always neither of you get the guy until someone says I’m fully over him and confidently prove that. But that’s just me apparently.

There’s this constant drag and pull from the writers about Maggie finding out about Meredith going behind her back and sleeping with Nathan, which in itself is a terrible problem I won’t get into. Why is this something viewers would want to see is my question.

I briefly want to bring back the idea of trust and how it’s been broken, several times by the main character in question and how Maggie being betrayed is so harmful. So many people have brushed off this storyline with well Maggie should stop being a drama queen and give Meredith who’s had it worse the man. But you don’t see here that the drama isn’t necessarily around Nathan. He didn’t take no for an answer and Meredith eventually gave into his persistent bothering. However Maggie isn’t upset Meredith slept with Nathan. Maggie is upset Meredith lied to her about it, she went behind her back, she did not discuss any of it with her, and all while fully understanding that Maggie never told her explicitly she was over Nathan. The lack of trust between them is the real issue at the core of the matter.

(and psa girls, if you have to hide your man from your half sister I will just give you some advice…he ain’t worth it)

and yes rereading what I just wrote above makes me feel like I’m 14 and it’s the day after prom, and I’m trying to list through the drama that went down. It’s tiring. Slightly humiliating to actually care, or want to care about. Again though, that drama from highschool was hardly girls lifting each other up until about my actual prom where we kind of tried harder with each other. If girls stood up for one another, a lot of drama from highschool would be cleared up in a day.

Look Meredith Grey doesn’t have a lot of people left in her life. She’s lost her friends, her half sister, her mom, her dad doesn’t exist anymore, her husband’s dead, and her best female friend left her.

Yes Meredith and Alex are cute and he understands her but there is no female best friend for Meredith right now and I think that it’s something she’s lost and she needs. The undeniable strength that comes from women fighting for each other is something we all need more of. So why is it that we have to suffer as viewers through the one person Meredith was sort of opening up to, thrown down the drain every chance we got?

She’s there one second, not the next. I think it’s very sad for teens to be catching up with the show and see the absence of that. Meredith is still the main character. She is the goal. She is who you watch and you care for and you make sure you root for her. I do understand that there’s side friendships like April and Arizona (who don’t have as strong of a bond as I think they’re hyped up to have by the fans. That is my opinion however). But I struggle with even those because forgive me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t the common thread in every relationship be the connection to Meredith Grey?

Some characters seem to forget Meredith even exists. It’s very frustrating as a fan because I’m not inclined to care for them if they can’t care for Meredith. April and Meredith haven’t been friends since season 6 I’m convinced. Like there is the friendship?If they don’t have a good one that’s different but frankly they don’t act like each other exists. Same with Arizona. She only cares about Meredith when she’s distracting Alex from something. When was the last time these girls leaned on each other? Cared for each other?

I’m not asking for some amazing astounding friendships but like come on here. I get it, I’m a lot like Meredith Grey. So yeah she can be a bit hard to make friends with, let’s say that. But I truly think that even just one stronger female friendship for her instead of these plot lines based on proving she’s grieved, which she hasn’t properly done, but that’s another post too. I also have an argument that all of her friends have peer pressured her into taking risks she’s not ready for but I won’t cover that either. What I will say is that using the continuous drama that I could walk into a middle school campus and find, is just pathetic really. Using that for every ad, for every promo, it’s boring. I miss caring about these relationships.

So when you threaten to break Maggie and Meredith’s trust down, again…you’re harming two characters I highly identify with and I would love to see them support each other. Because not only does Meredith not have anyone, but Maggie is alone too. They have this mutual need for control and the need to be right but where as Maggie is the moral scientific way and Meredith fights for what she thinks is right which can be a bit ethically murky. On top of this they’re half sisters.

I don’t have a sister. But I do have cousins who are sisters and the one thing that I really observed is that we need more sisters sticking together. I mean frankly at this point because I feel that this season is written so out of character for Meredith the least they could do was add in some female friendships for younger viewers to hold onto. This idea of who’s being more petty just puts people on the outs with each other, while the real people you need are someone who will save a life with you- come on.

Alex doesn’t have all the answers for Meredith, and I don’t think we should rely on him to. I haven’t even touched on Meredith’s relationship with Amelia simply because the two repel each other only because they’re highly similar people.

The exclusion of female friendships is harmful because it leads to the idea of a woman who thinks she can not lean on others. When you don’t see strong women beside each other it is then when the negativity, the shaming, the I’m better than you idea comes into play. Because you’re out to be higher than another woman instead of caring about her like you would a sister or a close friend. You don’t have to be best of best friends with every woman you meet but to empower them? It doesn’t take a lot. It takes being kind and being there for them. I would be lost without strong women in my life and I had to seek out women that would be as strong to me as I am to them.

But what my main point here is that there’s been a movement through younger generations of calling each other their person, and creating this idea of someone who will stand with you through anything and yet that idea is lost currently. Women deserve friendship and knowing that they still can find friendship despite how dark it can get. I miss that part of Grey’s a lot. Women supporting women is EVERYTHING.

So I leave you with this moment from Paley Fest.

 

moral of the story is

HOES BEFORE BROS

Drink of choice: Tropical Green tea from English Tea Shop

 

Earth Day is Every Day

I could never imagine a world where we didn’t care about Earth Day. It’s not something that has even occurred to me, and it’s slightly terrifying right now to know and understand that there are children being taught in schools across the world that we don’t have to care.

For as long as I have a memory, I can recall memories of celebrating Earth Day in elementary school. The painting, the collages, the reading, the reports on Jane Goodall, the science projects, and the days where we just ran around and had field day. Because we appreciated our Earth and what it gave to us. There have been animals going extinct since I was born. In my childhood bedroom I had a lot of books. I had this one book, and now it’s out of date. But it was a book of endangered animals. I read through it a lot. I remember it had really good artwork. But the book is out of date because so many animals need to be added to it.

Earth Day itself isn’t just about conservation efforts, or more so we can’t focus on that simply alone. I spent a lot of time as a child doing events for Earth Day through girl scouts as well, where we provided conservation teaching. I guess that’s also something I have to mention, I grew up in California. The drought has like always been there. I always knew to recycle, to conserve water, and I had these ideas ingrained in me as a child. We always separated out cans and bottles, and cardboard at my house. It was just the thing to do. It’s strange to me that people don’t know that still even today.  But anyway, Earth Day is also about the science behind conservation. The science that allowed us to understand and realize we need to conserve is why we all really do it.

I did science fair projects in elementary school. I counted the probability of getting different colors of M&M’s (1st place; 1st grade), Understanding if hamsters can be trained (2nd grade, third place), Do plants grow better while listening to a certain type of music? (Blast the country folks, 1st place, third grade)…I forget what I did in fifth grade but I know in sixth I…

mummified fish.

Yes, I grew maggots in one of them. I used different house hold products to see if I could mummify fish with them and obviously my control had to be a rotting fish that sat in our garage for about two weeks. Science happens.

All of those projects were fun and tested my abilities, and really taught me things about our world. Earth Day and science go way back because without science we wouldn’t band together to celebrate and protect our earth that we happened to start to destroy. It’s the duty of every global citizen to speak up for earth and those working hard to understand it.

I’m a poor student when it comes to combining math and science together but I do know one thing and it is that life without science would be pretty boring. Especially without women scientists.

This idea that men run science is so outdated

Let’s talk about what Earth Day means in the year of the girl, as I like to call it- ever since the woman’s march we really have seen women stand up for themselves and others in a sort of revolution unmatched in history. Living through a period of time right now where women are being challenged in the scientific community is so strange to me. I love science and medicine and it’s so bizarre that we are still proving ourselves worthy of things like grants for new breakthroughs. We only have one Earth, and we have to allow everyone who wants to better it, do so. That also applies to smaller things like when someone you don’t like does something really good for earth. But more on that another time maybe? I may be someone who’s future is in media but media helps expose how our Earth is treated and needs help. Media helps gain funding for projects to help Earth. Everything is connected. Earth is round, thus everything is a circle. When more women help Earth, more of Earth can help others. Earth is something that always gives back when you give and nurture it. So yes of course we need more women defending Earth.

I think it’s kind of a cruel joke for us to have called Earth, Mother Earth, as a female but yet allowed men to have the final say in terms of protecting it or researching to save it. We need women’s input and minds because as much as I love hearing about Darwin- I also would love to deeply research women when talking about historical scientific discoveries. And for young girls like me, doing science fair projects- they need to see and understand that women can create. They can discover. It is not a man’s world at all. It is a world for everyone to protect.

I think that as well it’s important for someone like me, within the media mindset of everything to understand that I also have to represent women in science. I grew up with several women in discovery,  but most of all I think Jane Goodall or Mae Jemison had the most impact. I remember learning about them in third grade and being really impacted by them. And sort of spurring off of that and recognizing women in science don’t only have to be taught about to students but be seen in media.

And to everyone saying that representation through movies or tv shows doesn’t make an impact…

at any given day, any hour, I dare you to spend time researching any tweet tagged with Grey’s Anatomy or a cast member’s @ on twitter.

The next generation of female surgeons, doctors, and nurses. Taking over the health care system because their love for it was so thoroughly shown on screen. And medicine is science. It’s STEM. These women are out there researching and going for what they want and conquering the stereotypes.

So not only do I owe it to Earth to have more women in science, but I owe it to my work to showcase that. Science isn’t just about nature and saving that but understanding that we humans are mammals, part of the animal kingdom within nature. We are part of Earth and it’s time we stop separating from that. And also for women to start raising their voices within science. It’s about science instead of silence, and for women to claim their part in creating a better world.

I did a lot of research through out the past few months because I knew about again women that I loved in science and how they’re impacting the world so I reached out and found the Jane Goodall Institute. Jane Goodall really represents women in science because she simply never took no for an answer and kept fighting for her research and is now the number one person skilled in chimpanzee communication- which if you know anything about humans and primates is a big deal. Jane Goodall has developed her institute into this mega idea where they don’t only work on her primate research but they also have expanded. These expansions include inspiring other young girls in STEM fields, but also globally providing women with access to education, healthcare, and clean water. Without these things women can not achieve, and it’s important for us to help struggling countries bring their women forward into a society of education and work, and less disease and death.

So to combine those two together and as a tribute to standing up for women in STEM, using your voice for global good, to fill that silence- through my side project which is Pompeo’s Posse, I wanted to donate to Jane Goodall Institute, while thanking Grey’s Anatomy and Ellen Pompeo, for showcasing strong women in the sciences through representation in the arts. (So buy a shirt, raise your voice, help fund the institute)

Because I believe that every day is earth day if we just cared a little bit more about treating our Earth kindly, researching to protect her and her inhabitants, and to raise our voices for the voiceless. Nature can scream at us through the weather but if we do not stop to listen, what will be done?

Listen to Earth. And defend her.

Drink of choice:

Organic Fair Trade Tea from English Tea Shop!

Flavor: Lemongrass/ginger/citrus

I don’t have enough spoons

Since my last post discussed how I had come to understand myself under and through the labeling of Spoon theory I decided that because of circumstances that happened to me today I would just kind of elaborate on that through experience.

I sent a text today to one of my friends whom is also a Spoonie, and I told her at the end of the message “I don’t have enough spoons for that!” and she got it right away. Where as if I told anyone else they’d probably just shrug and say oh pack yourself snacks.

What I had sent to her was me complaining about my counselor and how I didn’t realize one of my three hour classes is only one credit! A brief glimpse into college courses here is that 16 credits is like 5 classes which are generally 3 hours each give or take, and 12 credits is the least you can have and be considered a full time student still and I need that to live in the dorms still. Each semester I’ve ended up dropping classes. If you drop before a certain time period they refund you and it doesn’t count on my transcipt. I sat through the first two weeks of class and I knew right away, I couldn’t do this. And in college, its not like highschool. You can’t just suffer through.

Growing with poor math skills really taught me how to be an advocate for myself in education. I have extreme anxiety every time I do a math test. Doing timed multiplication tests in elementary school led to crying almost every week. It was horrible, it was awful, and no amount of one on one tutoring could help me. Because I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t as good as the rest of the students who were all around strong in everything, and my class had a very high average in terms of grades. We started doing timed tests in third grade. I was about eight. And I was already at war with my mind. If you know my other posts, you know eight is about the same time I was getting sick as well. So throughout school I would have to personally contact teachers, I would ask for extra time on things, I refused to let myself be diagnosed with a learning disability for fear of being stuck in classes that were too easy for me (that is a whole other issue and understanding if math anxiety is a learning disability, or if I really had math dyslexia). Ok now add that on top of the general amount of bullying we all suffer, and the illnesses shaping up around my body- it was pretty rough but I didn’t understand at the time how bad it was.

College really doesn’t afford you to do that. I can. I have. But it’s not the same amount of hospitality. So when I’m in a class and I feel stressed out and overwhelmed in the second week of class, I know I have to drop. There’s no questions. I’m done with sacrificing my mental health for a grade. If that means taking classes over the summer, I’ll do it.  I am not the typical student. And that isn’t to excuse me when I’m being lazy.

I know when I’m being lazy as a student, and I generally admit to it. I breezed through things often, except of course as discussed math. I finished reading assignments that should take two hours in like thirty. English isn’t hard for me. But when you give it your all for six years of elementary and then two of middle school, things pile up. You get exhausted.

So I had ten credits this morning and I told my counselor to add me to classes she knew were open.

I had class on monday from 3:30-6:20, tuesday from 3:30-6:20, wednesday from 9am-12:30 and 1pm-3pm or so. My schedule was nice. I always have a four day weekend as a tv student. It just happens. That’s when I have TIME to do my homework. My counselor says no worries and adds me to two classes and drops a preq for me (this preq I took and dropped and I’m taking at a junior college over summer).

Yay right?

She signs me up for a class from 12:30-3:20 on BOTH monday and tuesday.

I don’t have enough spoons.

This isn’t me being lazy or me looking for an easy way out. I do back to back on wednesday for TV all the time. I am TIRED on thursdays. I relax with some TGIT and I NEED it.

My first semester had me editing for three hours at 8:30 AM and creating live news style round table shows until 4PM. I was so tired but it was so worth it. I got a tiny lunch break. And now I’m script writing and editing from 9am until 3:20. Small lunch break again.

I don’t have it in me to repeat that EVERY day of the week. I can’t. On top of extra things like going out and filming for class which can be up to six hours of shooting without lunch breaks? A huge part of me is eating snacks or anything to keep up my energy. And it’s still hard to me to feel okay eating in public spaces because I for some reason feel odd doing it.

So I dropped one of the classes, and I kept another so I would have 13 credits and be a full time student. I get an email back pressuring me to add another class to do 16 credits. And it makes me feel awful.

I used to be the perfect student. I still get good grades, I made National Society of College Scholars, I got a 23 overall on the ACT but a 29 in reading alone, I took the SAT with essay twice, I get praised a lot for my work but understanding and letting that part of me go is so strange. I do the best I can now which is enough. But there’s that moment of panic, of anger, of regret for not being better in highschool- and I hate it. I hate that I went through a full blown melt down over my education. I wish I didn’t. I wish I hadn’t been on the verge of failing so much in highschool after spending nights studying and worrying. I wish I had enough spoons. I get exhausted doing pretty much anything anymore and my focus is so poor that if I’m struggling I just tune it out now. I don’t want my dropped classes to be used against me to guilt me into taking more. I want to succeed and strive and sometimes that doesn’t fit what your counselor may want for you.

Always advocate for your education. There are people who will help you if you raise your voice. You think differently than others and that’s perfectly okay.

if you don’t have enough spoons, or energy, it’s okay to back away and step down. You come before anything else.

Everyone has a Story

Chronic.

Chronically.

Chronically ill.

I’ve been diagnosed with EoE for roughly a year now, and it’s only now that I’m coming to terms with understanding my place within the medically ill community. There’s so many things about my diagnosis that people don’t understand, and that I myself am still finding out as well. So much that I never really thought about myself as chronically ill.

I honestly spent so much time researching trying to figure out what the hell I had before I was diagnosed, and all I could find was dysphagia (or Cystic Fibrosis as mentioned in my other post) which is a blanket term for swallowing issues that I really couldn’t think of myself as having EoE or even what the community who had it was like. Mine is very mild now that it’s controlled on a heart burn medication but I never really researched outside of my own bubble. Which knowing me is slightly strange because I like to know everything. I like to know all of my disease what it entails and how it affects me and what I should be on the look out for. So why on earth am I just discovering now that children who have EoE often end up on feeding tubes? It’s just strange to me and I can’t wrap my head around why I didn’t do so much research. The only thing that comes to my mind is that I didn’t want to be chronically ill.

That’s a very frankly insulting idea to have but an issue I suppose is that I didn’t even realize those were my thoughts. I wasn’t scared about being a label, I was just trying to survive the next 24 hours with food in my stomach. Because my symptoms were so certain to me, it made me neglect I guess looking at other people with it.

EoE is as I’ve mentioned before a rare disease, the first journals about it appeared as recently as 2006 and frankly there’s just way too much we don’t know. There’s also so many other diseases that factor into it, like I just discovered that there’s Chronic Eosinophilic Pneumonia or Carryington’s Disease. Pneumonia! Which is one of the things that I am a chronic sufferer of. Maybe my doctor didn’t know about that specific type or maybe she wanted to wait and see about that if the medication didn’t work. But there’s that word again, chronic.

Now will I ever make a post not referencing Ellen Pompeo? Honestly hopefully not, I love her far too much. But here’s where chronic illness plays into that. Don’t lie and say you haven’t scrolled through who a celebrity follows on Instagram, we all stalk. Fans discovered that Ellen followed a chronic illness lifestyle page, where a woman posts quotes and photos and the captions are always related to empowering those with chronic illness, or anyone who can use support of any kind, she’s very welcoming to helping others and even does posts where she lets you just rant and let your anger out. You all can discover Brown Eyes Thick Thighs for yourself and see what she’s all about. But for the longest time I somehow didn’t realize that I could relate to her posts about her illness and even though I have different diseases, that I could be chronically ill too.

I’ve come in contact with several people who are Spoonies, which refers to spoon theory which has to do with invisible illness and chronic illness. A spoon is a measurement for how much they can handle within a day. I struggle to find myself exactly fitting in as a spoonie because on the surface my chronic illnesses are not to the same extreme level that others are. I’m rather high functioning person, although my say need for exercise is probably the biggest change. I always walked very fast when I was younger and I would also be out of breath a lot. People sort of assumed one was due to the other but it was most likely my asthma. I can no longer go on runs or hikes without preparing myself before hand. I always have to make sure to have my inhaler on me. Food is a bit of a trickier issue because I made the choice in light of all of my issues to become vegetarian.

I had a friend who was vegetarian before and the lifestyle seemed very pressured to me and I felt myself rebelling. I never liked meat to begin with, and one of the reasons is the texture made me struggle to swallow it. I remember days of just sitting at the dinner table, struggling to swallow porkchops and it just got mushy and stuck to the back of my throat and I hated it. I stopped eating just about everything but burgers and lean meats before going completely vegetarian.

but back to spoon theory, I kind of made this post to say that I do have chronic fatigue. I started writing this post at 12am when I couldn’t sleep. I don’t fall asleep until 1-2 am most nights and I can’t sleep in past 8am. On school days that means I’m getting up at 7 to be ready in time for my 9am classes. It’s not normal. I find myself out of breath because I walk fast and I have to teach myself that I can’t do that anymore when my lungs are irritable. I can’t eat food late at night anymore because of my medication. That’s about 8 or 9pm when as a college student I’ll be frantically doing assignments until 9pm and forget to make dinner.

I’m constantly tired all the time and I know when I dissociate or tune out of situations because I’m too tired to function. I can’t make it through two back to back classes from 9am to 3:20pm. I mean I do it but I come home and I can’t do any homework we were assigned because I’m too busy trying, unsuccessfully, to nap or making myself food.

So let’s get on the topic of food.

Throughout my life I grew up very slim, and never hit higher than 102lbs. For most of highschool I was from 96-98lb range and I hated it. I hate it so much. I don’t feel comfortable wearing crop tops where you see my ribcage, or bikinis were you can see it either. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with all of that. The comments, the questions “are you sure you’re full” as if no one understands that a tiny human has a tiny stomach. The accusing looks that ask if you’re anorexic, and the repeated frustrated replies of no and forcing myself to eat more than I want to. All to prove a point.

So when I had to go on a liquid diet and I couldn’t swallow so much as a ramen noodle, I lost weight. I dropped from 96 to 88 fairly quickly and then over the months I ended up as low as 86. I’m currently in that range and while it is ‘normal’ for me, it’s not ‘underweight’ in terms of worrying doctors because I drink nutritional drinks etc. But it means that I’m constantly hungry. I will eat a full meal, or what makes me full and be hungry within an hour. My metabolism won’t stop. It’s why I’m tired all the time because I’m constantly trying to eat. and I am tired of it. I’m tired of having to eat so much all the time, or trying to bulk myself up. Nothing will ever do the trick. Just a few days ago I had hummus on white bread toast. I had 3 ‘toast’ sandwiches with hummus. 3 in a row. Hungry. All the time. That still didn’t do much so I ended up having shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe’s that I made in my frying pan.  That made me last until dinner time maybe.

And all of this is circumstantial on if my EOE or my seasonal allergies aren’t so bad, and if they’re acting up I’ll stick to applesauce, soups, pasta with pesto instead of tomato sauce-

I can have some acidic foods as long as I take the meds but sometimes I like to lean away from them if I’m having a bad day. This is all just depending on the day though. My other post I mentioned that there was a situation at my school that triggered a lot of stress and anxiety in terms of my living situation. Because of that I was having stomach pain and loosing weight as well. That pain and struggle has left me but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about it especially in terms of getting up early or rushing myself through getting ready.

And all of this worrying about eating and food obviously takes a toll on my mind. I’ve found it harder than ever to concentrate, even on things I love like Tv shows. I can’t focus. I’m finishing this post after having the worst sleep I’ve had maybe ever. I don’t know why this is happening. I’ve had the feeling before, where I try to sleep and I get startled because I feel like I’m falling. This time I woke up after sleeping for maybe 5-6 hours and I felt startled but not from falling. I fell asleep for about an hour and I didn’t wake up feeling refreshed at all. I haven’t had a decent sleep in what seems like forever at this point. and I want it.

Throughout all of this it’s just all so frustrating. Like I mentioned I’m a high functioning person and what that means to me is that I’m very put forward in what I do. Being lazy never used to be a part of me, and I don’t consider myself lazy when I have to consider my illnesses and ‘relax’. Relaxing for me is very important because I can’t just have a lazy day in bed exactly. I have to make so many snacks and do all of these things to prepare. Most times I don’t even get around to watching the Tv I want to because I just space out or I try to sleep. I spent my days in highschool doing everything and above what I needed to do, I was an overachiever and it is hard to not see myself as that anymore. My work is still to the best of my ability but I find myself wanting to be sloppy because I can’t handle it. But that’s in terms of things like writing assignments compared to things like media related projects. I used to be this force of nature but now I find myself struggling.

Another example of me being fatigued is social outings. We went to a museum as a class the other day, we walked there. Which is fine its like ten minutes from our building, but it was rainy with 30mph winds. 30 mph winds plus an asthmatic? Not good. I made it there, and I never felt like I couldn’t breathe its more like my body has to do extra to make up for the stress of breathing in the wind. I had a lovely time, and I walked home and I immediately took a three hour nap. That’s not normal. I grew up never being able to nap. Naps were not a thing until I got to college. Even when I pushed myself the hardest I could in highschool I very rarely came home and napped. There’s this culture online where everyone claims they go home and nap but honestly, really? It’s just not a thing I was used to. I get exhausted so frequently from minor things. Going on a small day trip down the street shouldn’t make me feel like I just ran a marathon.

My EOE comes with seasonal allergies as well so I constantly have stuffy sinuses, post nasal drip and other allergy symptoms that only have relief every few days. I take medication for them but it is only helpful to such a certain extent. As spring comes so do these headcolds, feelings of being foggy and forgetful, and waking up to suddenly not being able to breathe until taking nasal sprays.

And now it’s been a year since this all started and I just want to raise my voice about my story because I feel like I taught myself that what I felt wasn’t a part of it, or that I wasn’t valid enough to be considered something that just lets people know I’m a sensitive person in all terms of existence. I want my rare disease to be heard, I want my feelings to be seen. I think that a lot of EOE isn’t diagnosed until it’s too severe, or it’s not understood as well. It needs awareness and real support for research. I may never be able have a full cure for every one of my ailments but I like to know I’m not alone. And right now for EOE, I feel incredibly alone. Especially because I’m not like the severe cases on feeding tubes and elimination diets. Being vegetarian isn’t that hard compared to what some of these ten year olds must do to eat.

So maybe I am chronically ill, and that’s ok.

“Your story is not more difficult than mine, my story is not more difficult than yours and I think if we all keep can open mind and compassion for each other-life is hard, no matter the circumstances, whether they be blue or red or green or yellow. We all have a story.”- Ellen Pompeo

Here are some sites for more information on EOE

http://apfed.org/about-ead/egids/eoe/

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/eosinophilic-esophagitis/

http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis-ee

http://curedfoundation.4mobilesites.com/

http://www.ausee.org/

Spring forward

“I think we all should just go there, you know tell the truth, go with your gut, follow your instincts”- Meredith Grey

What is a spring forward to you? Is it just time changing and you cleaning away all evidence of winter? Or is it a lifestyle change?

I think we all would love to make that leap, change that bad habit- it’s kind of like pressing restart on your new years resolution. We all could use one of those right? Most days it hurts too much, you’re too tired to care about what you eat, you get petty and can’t take what you say back…we all have those days. But what about springing forward your career?

Take advantage of that career. There is something out there looming over you, maybe even staring at you in the face and you’re pushing it away. Is it too far away and you don’t want to pay for that Uber? Is it at an inconvenient time? Are you too insecure over your own talents to make the plunge?

I understand you. I’m notorious at letting things pass by, or not believing in them fully. That’s not always the best thing and I know that. That type of thinking can plague a project to its eventual doom. Maybe it’s finally time to embrace that book we all read last year. Come on, we all read ‘Year Of Yes’; and if you haven’t get on that Amazon shopping trip. And you know what, I think that no matter what you can’t pressure yourself into doing better.

Never pressure yourself. Positive or negative you shouldn’t feel pressure. If you don’t want it deep inside yourself, it’s not worth it. If you can’t do it with ease, or tell yourself you can make it at least partially- never do it. It’s okay to stay in your comfort zone because the comfort zone isn’t static. The comfort zone is what you think you can handle, which isn’t always reflective of the actual amount that you can handle. You can handle more than you think or less that you think depending on you.

Yes,

YOU

Personally I’ve let a lot anxiety ruin plans for me and I work on myself each and every day to remove that anxiety.  I got over a lot of my traveling fears this past year because I had to fly back and forth from Chicago to California from school to home for example. I don’t like to promise myself anything because that gives me, guess what? Pressure.

I think that we all spring ourselves forward and this is really the time to do it. While thinking about opportunity and chance,  I’m sitting here right now typing when I have multiple live show requests for volunteering open on my email. See I have a pretty complicated schedule and I’m afraid I’ll be too busy with anatomy homework to have time. I’ve previously worked on this show I have an offer for about three times now, and I love it each time. But am I really going to have all my anatomy work piled up? Or am I just overwhelming myself and I should take time out to do something I love?

You need to take those chances. Everything you can. Do it. Take the risk.

Thinking about this and the chances that I do have and I lost over the years. I’ll keep this short since I’m sure you’ve all read my multiple posts about Paley Fest, and I don’t want to repeat them. Just in speaking about things they brought up, and the whole idea of motherhood and having opportunities with your mother are really important. I took that chance, I stepped forward and I asked my mom on a whim if she wanted to go to Paley Fest over spring break. I was like, consider it part of my birthday gift so you don’t have to give me anything in May. And really it was about us going to something together, for something we both enjoyed together and that brought us closer.

13×18, which airs this week, discussed the topic of Maggie’s mother giving Maggie advice. The advice she gives Maggie is to let loose. She tells her all sorts of things about how Maggie is preoccupied with being the best, or the straightest ruler- she’s very focused on her future being just how she wants it to be. Unplanned situations often rile her up. I feel this, I feel this a lot. I plan out every word I’m going to say when I go to order food, or I practice simple conversations before I actually try to make one with anyone. I have to have control, to have order. But due to that I’ve missed so much.  There’s sort of no end to the amount of parallel between Grey’s and my own life but just to really hear that in the dark Dolby Theatre with my mom beside me kind of made me feel things. Like it was my time. I was ready. I need to be ready to make a leap. And just the whole chance that I was given the material presented the way it was in 13×18 is again due to the whole idea of taking a chance. Ellen Pompeo didn’t exactly want to direct an episode so willingly. She didn’t wake up and say, wow I want to break boundaries for women in television today. Okay maybe she did, she’s kind of a badass like that but the whole aspect and idea came from Debbie Allen presenting the idea to her.

I don’t know if Debbie put together the reasoning I did, which is that a mother based episode being directed by someone who lost their mother when they were young is an amazing creative choice in terms of emotion. Which Debbie did say Ellen was very in touch with during a recent interview.

But again the point with me talking about that is that Ellen took a huge risk. She put herself forward, she said yes. She became eager to learn and part of the process of allowing yourself to take a chance, or to be bold is allowing yourself to learn. I’m sure she struggled. We all struggle. To struggle is to be human. We are inherently flawed, but taking that risk and coming out in flying colors and to be confident with what ever mess you think you made is worth it. Make your mistakes worth making.

Spring forward into your passion.

Please do

sincerely the millennial who may or may not have already broken this promise to herself. But it’s okay, she can pick herself up and spring forward whenever she wants.

Drink: English Tea Shop Chocolate Rooibos vanilla