Why can’t I sleep?

Like ever?

I’m starting to do yoga positions that are meant to relax you and help you sleep before bed. It hasn’t worked so far, but I’ll keep trying. It’s just getting difficult running on fumes. At least when classes start I know I’ll always have extra time to study.

Coffee is hardly getting me through the day, my head is constantly aching.

In other news, I’m helping my younger sister study for her written driving test, that’s been fun, (not). I feel like I wore my voice out reading through all the flash cards she prepared but hasn’t quite studied.

I’ve also been trying to spend more time committing to bettering myself in other ways, like trying to find a skincare routine that works for me, and exercising more than I have in a while, even though 13 minutes running made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. I’m trying to clean up my wardrobe and find more things to do that make me happy and fulfill me. I need to be more social, and find ways to do that while not pushing my social anxiety too much. All around aside from not sleeping, I think I’m doing pretty well.

Ive been awake for 48 hours.

And I might be losing my mind.

Spent the day half asleep, barely making it through orientation and a school webinar. Trying to defuse and unwind now, maybe I’ll read a few chapters on my kindle when I should be writing, but hey, procrastination. I have about five writing prompts saved I want to work on this week, I promised myself id start two tomorrow. Maybe I’ll post them here?

I don’t really have a lot to say tonight, I think my brain is fried.

But hey, I found my first spider in my new house today. So, that happened.

Have I mentioned that I love Taylor Swift?

Where I stand.

Finally, after weeks of waiting, I’ve received the syllabus to my first pair of college course, and frankly, I’m terrified. This is a college-level writing class, one where other, far more intellectual, and seasoned writers than myself will dissect my work and critique it. Handing my writing over to other writers is not something I’ve ever done, and it’s quite intimidating.

In the past, I’ve written for young people or friends with no expectations but to enjoy a story. I’ve written for fun, then hid or deleted it all, without showing anyone, for fear of how terrible it was. I, for loving the art of books, of writing, of creating, have never truly believed myself to be a capable writer or artist. I have so many fears that I’m going to become overwhelmed and then fail, cripple under the pressure to be something, someone not.

After all, I’m just a girl who loves her dogs, baking pie, drinking coffee and reading trashy, smutty romance novels filled with Highlanders and tattooed MC members.

Yesterday was fun

Yeah, I totally didn’t post yesterday, but I was with family all day so I guess that counts for something?

So I spent most of yesterday with my cousin and by the end of the night we got to talking about my recent decision to apply for school. She was really happy for me, and after asking about my major and after I told her, she filled me in on how many of her companies creative team were English majors in college, and assured me not to stress. She works in marketing in the Bay Area and she loves. While in the midst of our discussion I lamented the fact that I was mostly stressed because I felt like I waited far too long, and feared to wait another four years to begin my career. She told me to him, and that it would fly by of I truly picked a subject I enjoyed.

Our other cousin heard us while talking and chined in, he’s in his mid-forties and told us he just started his degree on Penn State online, and he was really enjoying the program so far. He assured me just as she had, that worrying or stressing was okay, but that I really didn’t need to if enjoy learning more about what I love, and how to implement skills to achieve my goals, and surpass them.

I don’t get to spend as much time with these people as I wish I did, but when I do? Well, I’m glad I have such a supportive family around. We always come together when one of us needs it, and in the end, that’s all that truly matters.

My weight loss failures.

So this is definitely a not so fun topic. And it’ll probably be pretty short, but since my doctor brought it up today, it has been on my mind. Files diet plans, probably a food addiction, exercising with no results have all played factors in my failed weight loss.

I’ve been overweight my entire life, it runs in my family genes, especially the women. Not that I haven’t spent counties years trying my hardest to improve myself, believe me, I have. I’ve tried every don’t I’ve heard of, I’ve cut out all sugar and carbs, even went vegetarian for a year, with little to no carbs (besides veggies). I’ve spent hours in the gym while keeping those diets and have had no success. I’ve been trying to give myself small goals now, like see these ten pounds? Just knock those out, don’t worry about the rest. Its been three months, and I’ve only managed to lose about five. Forty pounds is my ultimate goal.

I got up to my highest weight when my kidney failure was at its peak. I spent two and a half years at that weight even while I was hardly eating, water weight mostly, and those twenty-five pounds dropped within two months of my transplant, and it felt great, but I’ve struggled ever since. Lately, I’ve been trying to do the snack more, fewer meals thing again. Nuts, veggies, and proteins. The only thing I drink besides water is coffee, with the occasional iced tea. My doctor mentioned checking my thyroid next, just to see if there isn’t a medical reason why I can’t seem to drop the weight, is it strange that I almost wish there was a reason? That way id at least know what it was, and have a way to fix it.

Until that happens though, I suppose I’ll go round 642 with a no carb diet and my newfound appreciation for yoga and running.

Cruelty-Free, Rescue+ Freedom project

It’s been about two years since I stopped using products that I know are tested in animals, this happened after I first heard about the beagle freedom project. There I was, sitting on my bed with my laptop open, scrolling on Twitter when I came across a story about two beagles who had been rescued from a medical research laboratory. In the video that was provided, these two pups were shown experiencing the warmth of the sun on their faces, the first feeling of grass beneath their paws. Within minutes the two scared, wide-eyed docile pups were sprinting in the grass, running with tails wagging feeling the gentleness of humans who cared about them, people who meant them ko harm. And it resonated so deeply with me.

I was shocked that dogs, an animal we humans, (at least in most parts of the world) view as companions, best friends, were being used to test not only toxicity levels in medical treatments and medications but for household cleaning products and cosmetics. The makeup I used daily was contributing to the torture of these innocent beings. I could only think of my grandfather’s deceased beagle spunky, how loyal he was, how protective and sweet. I heard stories about how he would guard mom when she was pregnant with me, and how he instantly became my shadow when I was sold enough to walk. The gentleness in his eyes, and how that same look was in those two who had spent their lives with veins full of chemicals that could kill them. It was unfair.

I know most will roll their eyes, those who will say that its equal to eating meat, I’ve heard the same argument from vegans when they harass people who protest the dog meat trade in China. Maybe its because most of us outside of farmers, on the West, don’t spend much time around animals used for meat. We spend nights with our dogs and cats in our beds, receiving wet kisses, seeing their smiles, knowing they have huge personalities and fears.

I immediately threw out my old makeup and researched cruelty-free none animal tested products, I spent a while trying products and gushing out the ones that worked best, I found they were better on my skin due to their use of mostly natural and plant-based ingredients. And what wasn’t, was tested on willing human volunteers, rather than forced defenseless pooches. I was pleasantly surprised at how many products I found that I enjoyed far better than my old stuff. I use a lot of Elf, NYX, and wet ’n wild for makeup, and really love Pacifica’s skin care. I am now also obsessed with a newer company called Love, beauty, and planet and their rose scented hair and body products. Patiently waiting for them to release a shampoo and maybe some skin care sometime soon.

The Beagle Freedom Project and Rescue now works exclusively rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting out not only Beagles saved from labs, but other animals used for testing, and held in captivity, have handicaps, or senior animals. They take on the cases others won’t. They spend time making sure those they are being sent to homes with loving and compassionate people with the patience and understanding the baggage that comes with them. For that alone, they deserve all the help and donations in the world. Here. You can access their website and make donations, view videos of rescued animals, and read their mission statement and then check up on updates from rescued pups.

Every day I try to cut out more things that affect the animals affected by lab testing, I’m now working on getting my mother and sister to cut out their cosmetics and our cleaning products. So, if after reading this you decide to make the change, don’t rush it, switch out one thing at a time if you don’t have the means. Every little thing counts. If you’re looking for a pup to rescue, why not a beagle with a second chance, and a blank slate for a new life with hope in its forging eyes?

Frankie

Two and a half years ago, my mother got the itch. The one for a new dog. My sister and I are dog people through and through, see a dog, pet the dog, forever love the dog. At the time we had a senior mini poodle approaching 14, and a chihuahua pug mix who had just turned 5. We’d spent a few days scouting the pages of our local pet rescue and shelters and had just happened to stumble upon the ad for Petco’s adoption event happening that day. All dogs came fixed and with only a $50 adoption fee, so we decided why not?

It was raining that October and I couldn’t stop the bounce in my knee as I drove, I was excited, yes but also terrified. Our male, the pug mix, had been attacked by a stray a few years back and had now refused to socialize with any dog other than his fur sister. He even started becoming aggressive with his old pup pals, my cousin’s brood who he had adored playing with before. But we went in knowing we would have to bring the matter up with the head of the rescue before choosing a baby.

We browsed the aisles and found a few tiny dogs, most in middle age, and we’re considering a black chi mix, when my sister spotted two kennels, one stacked atop the other. Inside were the only two of the pups in the entire event who weren’t freely walking around caged in areas. They were each a golden tan color with black highlights and reminded me of miniature golden Shepard with their long snouts and long ears that stuck straight up at all times. The one on top was a bit smaller and not as nervous looking as the one below, so we asked to take a look at her. The woman working the area noted that these two girls, along with their two litter brothers were all up for adoption, but the brothers were enduring training as they were very aggressive towards all humans and dogs, even they’re sisters.

The poor girl immediately became nervous as she was moved from the cage, but she kept her ears up, even as she began to shake. We were too her name was Fergie and she was thought to be aged from 8-12 months, as were her siblings. They were found together on the street and all had parvo and weren’t expected to survive. Miraculously, they all loved, but each showed signs of physical abuse, and neglect. They were terrified of near all human contact and were insanely malnourished. My sister asked to see the other of the sisters, and Fergie was put away. Her sister immediately backed into a corner and whimpered as she was being reached for. And unlike her sister, she wasn’t so brave. Her ears flattened, her head tucked down and she shook like a leak. She made my heart ache. Without even touching her, my sister stated she was ours.

Her name is Frankie. We don’t know her birthday, but we celebrate it in April. She loves toys, enjoys staring out the window waiting for neighbor dogs to stroll by. She spends most of her time chasing balls or irritating her fur brother. She likes running in fast circles in the backyard, finding glee in having her humans chase her to get her back inside and out of the mud. She hates the vacuum, the coffee machine and any kind of unexpected sound. She runs for cover, hiding under beds or behind the couch if anyone raises their voice. For months she would hoard her treats as if in fear she wouldn’t be fed again. But despite her fears, she loves kisses and cuddles, and anywhere I wall, she follows, everywhere I sit, she places a par on my leg for reassurance. She chose me, as her security blanket, as her best friend. She loves my mother and sister, but the trust she holds in me alone is astounding. The way she comes quickly when I call her name never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Nearly two years after we brought her home, our poodle crossed the rainbow bridge, and none of us could have healed afterward without Frankie and her chi brother Toby. Do they scuffle? Yes. Does Toby get irritated when she refuses to allow him to walk without her pecking and nipping at his ears? Definitely. Do they lay together when we aren’t sitting with them? Absolutely. and does my good girl think she completely runs this place and could get away with anything? What do you think?

No idea.

Bit of a ramble I suppose? A string of consciousness more like. I’ve been sitting here, watching lifetime movie after lifetime movie trying to gather the creative flow one been craving to start a new project, but can’t get past a few iffy ideas. I spend a few hours tonight at my little cousins birthday party, hours spent avoiding the humans and loving on their new pug puppy. Wondering what the fork I was going to write about tonight. I still have no idea what I’m doing.

Now I’m here in my bed, so tired, yet knowing ill probably only get a total of three hours of sleep as I have been for the last few weeks. Worrying myself over the future, over money, over bills, over what the hell I’m doing starting college at my age, trying myself to student loans I’m terrified of. Searching ad after as for a job, writing down plots for short stories, that turn into another abandoned possible treasure. Sometimes I can’t even recognize myself. I’ll lay back and honestly wonder if I even know who I am. How I ended up wasting, or rather losing my youth to sickness and negativity. And now I’m stuck here wondering where the hell I’m going.

My self-confidence is definitely lacking. Dog hair on my black leggings, uneven eyebrows, messy haired and eternally stressed and exhausted at thirty, a far cry from the woman I thought id be by now. I can’t help but think of that lyric from Macklemore’s track Otherside.

”Until you’re stuck, lookin’ in the mirror like I can’t believe what I’ve become
Swore I was gonna be someone
And growing up everyone always does

Every time I listen to it, this deep sense of sadness and longing washes over me. A longing for a life I want so badly. A career I love, a few acres of land with ten dogs running about, a husband I adore, and loves me back standing beside me. Another quote, this time from a poem called Why She disappeared, by Taylor swift makes me yearn for a true love that might not exist outside of the books I love so much.

”Standing broad-shouldered next to her was a love that was really something, not just the idea of something.”

I know that in the end its okay that I feel this way, and that I’m not alone, far from it in fact. I know I’ll get there, or at least somewhere close, maybe even somewhere better. But until then? Well, I guess I’ll just keep listening to Taylor Swift.

My cousins kidney is inside me. Story time!

So a while back, I read this article about Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, and his lifes ambition to perform the first successful human head transplant. I can’t recall when I read this, or even much about the article or good doctor himself, but I do remember that he had in fact succeeded in doing this surgery on monkeys. I’m pretty sure they didn’t survive long after surgery. While I don’t agree with using innocent animals as test subjects for ethical reasons, the fact that he’d made it as far as he had, was quite the impressive feat.

Now, what I underwent was far less exciting scientifically, in fact, its the most requested and performed of all organ donations. Kidneys. We live in a world where medical staff, can take your tissue and start creating spare organs if you should need them, while not as sci-fi as having a clone in a secluded lab for organ harvesting, still pretty weird and cool at the same time. Now, a little bit about my history and how I ended up with someone else organ in my body.

One always felt a bit unwell, but I was unable to understand why. Diabetes and high blood pressure both run in my family, so my mother made sure I was tested every year to be sure I wasn’t undiagnosed, (this is important later) years went by and I test for borderline diabetes and was told to monitor my sugar and carb intake, sure no problem. The feeling of being ill never went away, in fact as time went on I began to feel more tired, weaker than before, as well as developing terrible migraine and vision problems. By this time I was in my early twenties, and had dropped out of high school and was also dealing with bouts of depression and social anxiety, I immediately began working as a babysitter and later a full-time nanny.

It was a few months into my position with a great family with two toddlers that my appetite banished almost completely, and dropped about 30 pounds in no time at all. I put it down to being busy, I helped out a neighbor by transporting his two kids to school in the mornings, it worked out well with them going to the same middle school as my little sister, and because my mother raised us alone, I helped out with my sister as often as possible. I’d be up early, collect the two kids by 6 am when their father left for work, bring them back to my place, feed them, drop them off at school, head across town to my employees home by 7:30 am and stay until around 6 pm Monday-Friday, come home and make sure the dogs were walked, the house was clean and that dinner was cooked. And if you have children, you know being alone with two rowdy toddlers is quite the exhausting feat. All this contributed to what I thought, was just spreading myself a bit too thin.

It wasn’t until November 2012 when I got up and felt immediately quest and ended up fainting that my mother ordered me to the ER for tests. Turns out I was exhausted, dehydrated and malnourished, and get this, diabetic. I’d apparently been diabetic for years and had never been notified (horrible doctors are also important later). I was immediately given meds for diabetes control and sent to an eye doctor because apparently diabetes is the leading cause of premature blindness. And yeah, my eyes had been severely affected, to the point that my doctor said that if I had waited to come in six months later, It would have been too late, and most of my vision would have been done for good. Luckily I could save the remainder of my vision with injection in my eyes ( yes it’s as creepy as or sounds), and laser treatments.

Now, most diabetics know, that after a diagnosis, your doctor will check your kidney through blood and urine samples every three months because uncontrolled diabetes destroys your kidneys. And for months everything was fine until they just…werent. My doctor looks at me during an appointment and says that my kidney function is at 31%. That’s right 31. I’d gone from about 90 to 30 in a matter of a few months with no warning from my PCP. How was that possible? How had she missed the rapid decline? Was it even possible to have such a rapid decline? I later found out from a kidney specialist that no, it wasn’t. This was something usually when in someone older who refused to care for their health for decades, not a 23-year-old girl who had been diligently dieting and exercising to keep her glucose at just the right place. I didn’t understand how id now been screwed over by two incompetent physicians.

Over the course of the next few years, I trod carefully and take care of myself the best that I can. I’m informed I can live our my entire life with the kidney function I had left. I moved two hours from I was before, and got all new doctors who seemed to jump right into action. The new kidney specialist informed me that while my diabetes was very controlled, to the point that my levels were that of someone without diabetes, the damage to my kidneys had been so bad that I was still declining, and needed a transplant. I went into surgery the next week to have a catheter implanted in my chest, that would pull blood from an artery that leads straight to my heart, onto the tube and into a machine that would clean and filter all the gunk from my blood, the main function kidneys perform. The tube would be in for a few months until I was able to have another surgery to artificially grow the size of an artery in my arm. Needles would go directly into the artery instead of using the tube that could cause a higher risk of infection due to its proximity to the heart.

It would be almost two full years until I was wheeled into the OR for my transplant. I was lucky enough to have seven volunteers agree to be tested for a match. Even luckier than three were percent matches. Two, a mother and daughter, my cousins. A and T. When T got the call that she was the match, she immediately told the transplant center or would be her, she always knew it would be her and they didn’t even need to bother calling her daughter A, or our other cousin, also A. Six months, more tests than I can count, and four hours in an OR, and we both came out the other side. Her a little worse for wear for a little longer than she expected, and me? Well, I’m just grateful.