Trips to Maine

Y’all, I’m wicked busy lately.

On top of working full-time, some of which includes travel, I’m about halfway through my second term in grad school. Unlike last term, I haven’t broken my foot and been demanded not to walk around (there’s still time, though, I guess, but I don’t hope). So, I’m juggling work, school, and, y’know, living a life with my boyfriend and friends and plenty of donuts.

I’ve been to Maine twice in the last two weeks or so… I may have lost track of time awhile ago. What even is time, really, other than something I don’t have a lot of…

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh!

I went to Maine with my lovely lady friends: Elyse, Gabbi, and Nikki. Nikki fed us marvelous foods, Gabbi serenaded us on the piano, and Elyse provided complicated wine bottles for everyone to drink from (and wonderful commentary like only Elyse can provide). We took walks, we played games, we drank tea and ate warm oatmeal cookies.

Maine with these girls is truly a magical experience.

Outside of eating, we went on to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which provided an excellent amount of exercise and some great photo opportunities. I’m not always glad I bring my camera along, but this weekend was an exception. I got so much use out of it.

After that weekend, I got to travel up to Waterville for a work event. Instead of rushing home on Thursday I opted to take the day off and take my sweet time getting home.

I stopped in Freeport, which is like a town shaped shopping mall (both wonderful and overwhelming), and Portland. I drank my weight in coffee on Thursday.

There’s some pretty inconsistent editing on these photos which, at one time, would have made me feel bad. Now, to borrow from Lewis Black, “I don’t give a shit” now.

FAQ: The Steroids of It All

You were on steroids? 

I was – from July 2014 until May 2016. I started on 50mg, stayed there for 6 months, and then started tapering off of them. You can’t just quit steroids. You have to slowly go off of them, which can be worse than being on them in the first place. I would hit places in the tapering process and I would have to stop there for a few weeks or months. I was on 35mg for about four months. It was a very long and traumatic process.

Are you, like, super jacked? 

A lot of people assume that being on steroids means you’ll automatically gain muscle mass. I was on a corticosteroid, which is different from the steroids we think of when we hear “steroids” and automatically start thinking about Major League Baseball players. Those are anabolic steroids. Here’s a fun WebMD resource on the difference, which includes information on the side effects.

Side effects? Like being super jacked? 

No. Like weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, viscous red stretch marks (Seriously, it looks like you’ve been mauled by a bear), acne, increased risk of infection, increased eye pressure, high blood pressure, mood swings, bruising easily, exhaustion, muscle weakness. More info here.

And I basically had IBS for about a year.

That sounds… fun? 

No. No, it wasn’t. Weight gain, acne and, mood swings are the most common side effects. A good way to tell if someone is on steroids is if they have something adorably called “Moon Face.”

Here’s a few visual aids.

Here’s my face in June and July 2014:

Here’s my face in August and September of 2014:

It doesn’t look… That different, I guess? 

You know, a lot of people said that to me when I was on the steroids, which I guess was people trying to be kind. But I had fatty deposits and water retention not just in my face, it was in my shoulders, chest, and stomach. I got bigger all over, but I could especially see it in my face.

If people weren’t trying to be kind, then I guess I didn’t realize I looked like post-Blueberrying Violet Beauregarde for my entire adult life.


Why didn’t you just diet? Or workout? 

Because steroids don’t work like that. It doesn’t matter what you eat, or what you do, that weight will be there. All told, I gained 50 pounds while I was on steroids. As soon as I stopped taking them, 35 pounds disappeared in about two months, and I didn’t change my diet. If anything I was eating a lot worse than when I was on the steroids. It got to the point in 2015 where all I could stomach was brown rice, broccoli, and eggs.

May 2016: Still some chubby cheekies.

June 2016: Slimming down

August 2016: I have my face back (and a cat?).

Oh… Well, maybe it was just that terrible haircut. 

Um… Thank you?

But you’re like, all better now, right? No more steroids? 

Maybe. I’m on an immunosppressant that makes it easier for me to live a normal life. I get overheated easily, I still bruise easily, I have to have a bone density test to make sure the steroids didn’t result in osteoporosis.

I recently had a doctor’s appointment because my neck was hurting again. As soon as he said “steroids,” I started to panic. I could feel the absolute dread rising from my stomach into my throat. I told him I didn’t ever want to be on steroids again. I’ll do anything to avoid it.

I’ve joked that I’d rather kill myself than go back on steroids.

And… I’m not always sure it’s a joke.

Steroids wrecked my mind, my body, and I’m still having side effects. I broke my foot recently and the podiatrist firmly believes that the steroids were the root cause.

What’s your favorite food? 

Literally all food.

Except pork. Or octopus. Or duck. Or.. Okay, well, maybe not literally all food.

 

What’s A Library School? 

It’s a school in a library, duh.

No, that’s not true. I’m lying to you. I’m a liar.

But now for a true story:

Almost exactly one year ago — June 15th, 2016, if we’re being exact — I applied to go to grad school.

I did it because I didn’t know what to do next.

It was scary. I had trouble breathing when I hit submit on that application.

Things went from exciting to depressing when The School called me to let me know that where I lived meant I couldn’t attend school with them online due to authorization issues. It’s a standard issue in distance education, which I only know about because of my work history in online education. But that’s another story…

With my dreams, and only escape route to a terrible situation, dashed, I ugly cried it out and then found a therapist to help me with all the things I could not control:

  • My health.
  • This situation I couldn’t seem to get out of (endless jobs applied for, school not an option anymore).
  • My rapidly diminishing self esteem.

She helped. A lot. I really can’t explain how much she helped me. Just know that I will always be greatful for therapy — it kept me going in 2014 when I was diagnosed, and it kept me going well into this year.

Press fast forward and 2016 ended up being a pretty good year, all told. I bought a cute condo, moved in with my boyfriend, my work situation changed, and everything ended up working out over all. It had its struggles, there were tears, but it was a good year.

In February, The School called me back.

“Great news!” They said. “We can enroll you now! Would you like us to formally submit your application?”

Um, I’m sorry. What?

I’ve already had these feelings. I’ve already cried all this out. Work is better, my health is at least stagnant, life is better, I’m finally making decent money. So do I really want to do this? Do I really want my life to change?

After a week of thinking on it, I went with my initial gut instinct.

Fuck yes I want to do this.

This is the start of my last week of my first term in Library School. It hasn’t been easy. It’s completely changed my life — free time is harder to come by, I have to budget my mental lode, my time — but I don’t think this was a bad choice.

Who knows? I may look back years from now and regret everything I spent on this degree: money, time, emotions, and mental energy.

But right now it feels good to be putting effort in somewhere, to be stretching my mind into an area I’m unfamiliar with and challenged by.

This feels good right now.

And I’m still not done with my final massive project.

So… I’m gonna go do that.

I Stopped Drinking For 5 Months and This Is What Happened

Pretty much what you’d expect: I saved a bunch of money.

That title was amusing to me though.

I love a dumb headline.

I just realized that I haven’t posted in something like 8 months.

So, yeah… In a week, it’ll be 5 months since I’ve had a drink.

I’m sure it’s possible that I could have lost a bunch of weight, and my skin could have cleared up, and everything was just sunshine and rainbows and everyone got the socialist utopia they were dreaming about…

But that didn’t happen. You know what happens when you stop drinking?

You get massive sugar cravings.

So this has basically been my last 5 months:

  

That’s… about it.

Work, homework, and candy.

I hope to get back to writing soon, maybe about things everyone cares about… like information literacy! That’ll make me so popular on the internet. I can see it now.

How to Fall in Love: Copenhagen Edition

When I went to Ireland and Amsterdam in 2014, I needed that trip. I talk about that trip a lot because it was so important to me. It was my first trip out of North America, my first extended trip as an adult, and the first time in 8 years that I felt, truly and completely, alone. I had no boyfriend, I hated my job, my health was failing, and I didn’t know if I would even make it to 2015.

I was scared, exhausted by my daily life, and I needed to be anywhere else.

I needed Ireland.

I needed Amsterdam.

When I booked my trip to Copenhagen, there was a part of me that thought I would need this trip too. I had just been dumped after a year of not-so-great-long-distance-dating. At the time it seemed fine, but even I knew, deep down, that we amounted to little more than friends. We were mismatched in too many ways to make something last. But, of all the things I am, I am stubborn and unrelenting.

It ended, and it should have, and I was okay with it a whole three days after it happened.

And then I went on a date. A date with a person who, at the time, I felt was odd and arrogant, but somehow felt like the most comfortable person I’d been around (he knows this). It’s easy to romanticize things looking back, and I promise you that I’m not. It took a few months for us to get on the same page about our relationship, and within those months, I planned a solo trip to Copenhagen. I felt like the need for a big trip was coming again. I felt like I’d need to be anywhere but home. I felt like things weren’t going to work out.

But that hasn’t been the case. I’m here because I want to be here, 3,600 miles from home, experiencing a new city, making mistakes, getting lost, ruining my feet, seeing everything I can possibly see… But I don’t need to be here. I don’t need to be alone.

My life has made quite a few unexpected turns over the last month. I’ve been home, on a lake, busy, sad, happy, frustrated, overwhelmed, and trying to set down roots in ways I never imagined I would.

But here we are.

And here I am.

This was one of the worst planned trips I’ve ever been on. I had a short list of places I wanted to go, but I didn’t spend too much time looking into what or when or how to accomplish anything. I didn’t look up restaurants I wanted to go to, or how to navigate the metro, or … Well, anything. I knew how to get from the airport to my AirBnB, and that’s about it.

I also had to buy clothes today to fly home in. There was no way an airline was going to let me board with pants that smelled that badly. I thought I had packed another pair of pants, but… just add it to the list of things I didn’t plan very well for this trip.

I feel like I’ve spent the last three days walking around in circles. I managed to go to Den Blå Planet,Tivoli, Ny Carlsberg Glypototek, Nationalmuseet, and Christianborg Palace (including the Tårnet, royal stables, and the ruins beneath the castle),  Kronborg (Hamlet’s Castle), Fredensborg PalaceNyhavn,  and The Round Tower. Oh, and I went on a canal tour, so I got to see a lot of things from the water that I didn’t visit, like The Little Mermaid statue and a bunch of landmarks.

There are two places I ate at every day that I wish I could take home with me: Wulff & Konstali Food Shop, and Cafe Alma. I could seriously eat at these places forever. I’ll miss them.

Things I wish I’d done: Frederiksborg Castle,  The Royal Library, any number of the old churches, and the Danish Jewish Museum. I also slightly regret not going to Christiania.

Even with all of that factored in, it’s hard not to be in love with Copenhagen. There’s art everywhere. I didn’t realize it until I took the canal tour, which gives you a unique perspective on a city that almost demands that you look up at every turn. There are statues on almost every building, even in the shopping districts. It’s beautiful here. The food is great, the people are friendly, and there’s nothing to regret. It’s worth the trip… even if you only have one pair of pants for three days of 70 degrees with 80% humidity.

img_2800-1img_2937-1

img_3223 img_3017-1 img_3100-1 img_3196-1 img_3200-1 img_3250-1

img_3324img_3305

img_3289 img_3226-1 img_3068 img_2950img_3337
img_3253-1