Saturday, December 28, 2013


I made my own holiday this year, and it was really great.

Things that were memorable this year:

Being mostly vegan: I didn't gorge on unhealthy food because being plant-based means I don't even want any of it anymore. I ate two tiny bites of a baklava, my favorite dessert of all time, and it was delicious, but I absolutely didn't want more than that and donated the other half to the hordes of willing takers around me. It was a brunch of quiche and bagels and lox, and I ate mostly fruit and potatoes, just a few olives, and a half-bagel with dijon, tomato, and capers. I was completely satisfied and feel great about my choices.

I made potatoes that were half an hour late to the meal, but still got devoured. And they were nearly no-fat! (Realizing that food doesn't have to be coated in oil to be tasty has been a delightful and wondrous discovery, one that I'm probably being obnoxious about, but I never learned to cook healthy and tasty at the same time and the new-found power is dizzying.)

The people: Having a gathering with so few people might have felt small but these particular people were among my very favorites, so to have them in one place at one time was incredibly invigorating. Stinky people were less so than usual. I talked and laughed and memorized the faces of the people I love; it was a beautiful day.

Head-wise: I had an amazing time, and felt almost normal, for hours. I was very well medicated, and my boyfriend handled me with kid gloves from the moment I woke in the morning. I still felt the effects from all the stimuli, but it was much less so than previous years, and even the following several days of migraine-backlash were fairly mild. However, I'd love to not be nauseated, for just a day. It's exhausting, and I'm over ginger ale now, seriously.

Best WTF moment: My grandma shared a cunnilingus story (involving habaneros, oh god) that I was so disappointed to be hearing from the next room. I could only cackle into my hand and wish I had a theater seat and some popcorn.

The realization that I finally did xmas right by myself: I actually did it. I skipped the big family party that I've gone to every christmas I can recall. It didn't sink in until we were all the way back home, I had put nearly everything away and was in my comfies with a cup of molten chocolate hot cocoa. I looked at the clock and realized the party people hadn't even started the gift-exchanging yet. I felt nothing but relieved to be in my quiet house, and surprisingly, not a bit of regret that I didn't attend. If anyone there, all of them far more able-bodied than I, missed me, they'd be welcome to visit. However, if the past is any indicator, I don't think I'll hear from them.

So, the fallout has been minimal; I've been taking it easy on myself the past few days, but I've actually been somewhat functional, much more so than previous years, at least. I'm looking forward to new years', I've been thinking on the past and the future and how I want to shape it. 2014 will be an adventure, of that I'm certain.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ends and Beginnings

I don't make New Years' resolutions, instead I prefer to reflect on the happenings and changes of the previous year and think about my hopes for the next.

I've always felt that resolutions are a good opportunity to think about the things we'd like to change about ourselves, but that to swear myself to changes that I may not be ready to make for the sake of an arbitrary date, it may work for some people but I'd be setting myself up for failure and disappointment. I never do anything until I'm darned ready to, and no amount of boozy holiday nostalgia is going to speed up the process.

Not that I'm drinking any booze. Thanks, migraines!

I've made all kinds of changes in my life this year. I made fitness a big priority and I've made leaps and bounds in my physical stamina.

I've gone from being a pescetarian to about 90% vegan, and it's been pretty great.

I continued to take classes, and got my gpa up to a respectable level. Now, I qualify for a boatload more scholarships, so I've got some hope in that area. I'm going to be transferring to a new school soon, and I suspect I'm going to need the financial help.

I also chose a major, and settled tentatively on a career path. I want to write, SURPRISE, and it's terrifying to embrace my deepest, oldest dream, but what else is life for than going for it?

We've got one more dog than we did a year ago, and while I was reluctant to take him, he's been nothing but a joy to have in our lives and he's firmly embedded himself in our hearts.

I chopped all my hair off and it was liberating and wonderful. It reminded me that even if everyone you know is telling you not to do something, it still might be the right thing to do.

I've had some heavy realizations about relationships. People I thought would be in my life forever have completely faded away, and while I understand, it still hurts. I try not to dwell on the people I've lost, because the people I have are so phenomenal I really don't have room in my heart for regret, but it can be startling to look around at your support system and realize that 90% of it was made up of spiderwebs and razor blades. But like I said, the people I've got left are marble and steel, so I may be lonely, but I'm still lucky.

Cooking, gardening and sewing are skills I continue to improve, some more than others. Photography has fallen by the wayside, and I miss it. I read the Sookie Stackhouse series over the summer, have watched a crapton of Star Trek, and fell in love with music again, especially lady crooners.

I'm not sure what to expect from the coming year. We'll probably move. I'm starting at the new school, so that will be a whole new routine. I've got a long list of things I want to learn, and do, and be, and I'm not quite sure which direction I'm going to head next.

Stay tuned.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quietly Christmasing

The holidays are rapidly approaching and I've figured out a new way to avoid the pain that big gatherings always trigger in my poor, sensitive head: I won't go.

That's right, it only took me 6 1/2 years to sort that out. I've spent the last six christmases in pain, torturing myself to keep up the tradition of full-family-immersion. I couldn't imagine spending christmas any other way because as long as I could remember, that's what the holidays were: family, chaos, food, horseplay, drinking, talking, cookies, laughter, and there may only be thirty-something of us, but when we're all together, the roar of the crowd amplifies upon itself and we all find ourselves shout-conversing during the peakier points of the party.

The last six christmases have been truly miserable for me. I do my best to smile and socialize as much as I can with earplugs in, hat on, and medicated to the brimmmiest of brims, but no matter how precautious I am, it's ALWAYS at least a week of laying around afterwards and often the recuperation lasts until my birthday (two weeks into January), when I am expected to go through the same thing again for the joy of a massive family birthday party (for me and others).

So, this year: NO.

No big family christmas party, and no big birthday party. I will not attend any gathering that hosts more than a handful of people, and I will not hurt myself for the sake of appearances or to fulfill anyone's misguided idea of what the holidays are, particularly my own.

This year, this existentialist atheist will celebrate christmas however seems migraine-appropriate, with my parents on the eve perhaps, or with just my grandparents the weekend after. I will not travel so hard it hurts me, and I will certainly not give the tiniest iota of a shit if some clueless relative thinks I'm rude for taking care of myself.

We also have a cloud over the season as it'll be a year since my partner's mom died. He's sad, and not interested in most christmasy things, but he did watch Die Hard with me, so he'll be ok.

Without the needs and chaos of other people being the center of my solstice-celebrations, I am free to embrace the season however moves me in the moments, and I've been reveling in it in my own, very quiet way. I've acquired a few presents for loved ones, and I'd love to get more if my budget allows. I've been enjoying both christmas music and movies, my favorites this year being nearly any version of Carol of the Bells (oddly, because I always thought it sounded like the soundtrack to a christmas-themed slasher flick) and the Robert Downey Jr/Holly Hunter flick, Home for the Holidays (which is Thanksgiving-themed, but WEV). Pandora's got a decent, but rather repetitive holiday channel, to which I added a little Vince Guaraldi from a Charlie Brown Christmas, the equivalent of a musical shot of eggnog to my soul.

I'm looking forward to having just a few, small gatherings with people I love, and taking time to reflect on the future. Change is constant, and I can't wait to see what comes next.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Schooling Accommodations, in My Experience

School's finally almost over and I am peeking my head out from under the mountains of homework that have been blocking out everything else and realizing that I still have a blog here. Hi!

I've still got my final exam this week, so I'm not really back quite yet, but my teacher asked me for feedback regarding my experience with the disabilities department and accommodations at my school, and I ended up writing quite the novel about it, so i'm going to cheat and paste that here and we'll pretend it's a real post until hopefully next week when my brain cells start readjusting to not being submerged in the workings of our american government.

This email is in response to the questions (summarized): Did the provided accommodations work for you? What has your accommodation experience been in other classes?

Hey there Professor,
> For my needs, the transcripts were pretty perfect. There were a few misspellings and mis-transcribed words that I should have made note of at the time (in hindsight), but didn't because I was always able to figure it out.
> I have experienced a bit of a spectrum when it comes to getting captions or transcripts in my other classes. I've taken a class with no audio/video to caption, a class that had at least 75% of the study materials as audio and video and everything was already captioned and transcribed as part of the software, and one class where we spent the entire quarter scrambling for me to have access to a very considerable amount of video content, which resulted in at least half of my assignments being late due to captioning delays. That teacher used Dropbox to deliver my captioned content separately from the standard class curriculum, which worked, but I really preferred the way you did it in this class, how transcript links were right there with the regular content. This class felt like you and the captioning department had it under control and in the rare instance when I didn't have a transcript, I really appreciated your responsiveness.
> Other classes have had similar types of content, videos are common, especially through youtube. I've had to fight for captioned youtube videos previously because youtube does provide them automatically sometimes and the [disabilities department] thought that should suffice, but those auto-captions are TERRIBLE, usually with so many errors, I can't even begin to guess what is actually being said.
> In that situation, I really wasn't satisfied with the [disabilities department]'s decision not to caption videos that weren't accessible to me (for the previously existing youtube craptioning), but my teacher determined that particular video wasn't essential, the material was covered elsewhere perhaps, so the point ended up being moot. I was frustrated, but it didn't end up hurting my grade in the end, thankfully.
> There has been an issue with getting copywritten material captioned, because the [disabilities department] can't do it. In the past, I ended up sourcing my own transcript via google (for a popular movie) and for the other I hunted down and emailed the makers of the assigned independent documentary and when they got back to me they offered to send me a captioned copy... only two months after the class had ended. I forwarded the email to my teacher, so hopefully he can use it in the future, but at the time he ended up just altering the associated assignment for me.
> And, since we're on the topic, I did have one other accessibility issue with this class. I had trouble with the media presentations because I have sensory issues, so I experienced the animations as nauseating and dizzying, and the text was tricky for me to sift through for all the differences: in font sizes, some bolded words, some italics, several pairs of parentheses and brackets and maybe a sentence fragment with an arrow in there, sometimes all on the same slide. I understand that these variations in the presentations are meant for keeping interest, and for highlighting important pieces of information, but I really couldn't comprehend it as it was. I ended up going through the presentations frame by frame and typing it all out, then studying from my text. I learn that way anyway, so it's wasn't a huge stretch in study habits, but if I could have had all that content in plain text form, it would have made that part of the class much more comfortable for me. I'll be asking my [disabilities department] counselor if this is something they can help me with in the future.