Aging Out

Well, it had to happen eventually. Me turning 26 next month, I mean. Twenty-six. Finally, I’ve crossed to the other side of what my imagination was capable of imagining. As a kid or a teen, 25 seemed so adult. That was the age I’d always planned to get married (I did) and start thinking about having kids (I haven’t). But that was it. Everything after 25 was blank and dark. I didn’t, don’t, have a plan.

President Obama was elected President during my senior year of high school, which means the ACA-related mandate that kids can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 was just a fact of my teens and twenties. I got to make my way through college without worrying about healthcare. Sure, I haven’t had dental for a while, but I take excellent care of my teeth and hope to go for a cleaning/checkup soon. I got to experience inexpensive preventative and emergency care, thanks to a decision that allowed me to benefit from the health insurance my father’s company provides us. I have gotten antibiotics to stave off sinus infections and UTIs. I’ve gotten my regular paps. I’ve even been tested for STIs/HIV—something monogamous people rarely feel they need to do. I have a wrist and back brace for when hard work turns into aches and pains.

I rarely visit doctors, because I’m rarely sick. The above list is a compilation of nearly a decade of experiences. I’m the queen of holistic remedies. It’s not unheard of for me to drink raw apple cider, or eat a whole garlic clove. I diffuse essential oils and apply them topically. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that local honey can help with seasonal allergies. I have been very lucky in my life. Not everyone I know has been so lucky.

Several people in my life whom I love dearly have suffered from seizures, Type I diabetes, cancer—things that herbal tea and meditation won’t cure. So, as I’m panicking, approaching my 26th birthday worried about my own access to care, I can’t stop thinking about them. That list of pre-existing conditions? I have exactly one: history of depression. Pretty much every person I know has more—just one of my family members has four on this partial list alone. This list is ableist, transphobic, misogynist, and cruel.

So, I’m turning 26. I finally have to cut the last remaining cord to my parents and get my own insurance. As stressful as it all is, I know, again, that I’m lucky. I’m a privileged, married, white woman, a born citizen of the U.S. I’m employed and educated, living in a blue state where care options are plentiful. I won’t be bankrupted trying to care for myself. But I am such a minuscule sliver of the population. The health insurance I pay for, I’ll rarely need or use.

Speaker Ryan said something, when talking a few months ago about the AHCA: “Why should healthy people pay for sick people to have healthcare?”

I paraphrase, but that sentence is the distillation of the expressed sentiments.

I don’t know, Speaker Ryan. Why should safe drivers pay for reckless ones? Why should financially responsible people pay for over-spenders’ overdraft fees?

We are one people. Every citizen, born, naturalized, and aspiring, is valuable. Their lives are valuable.

The same hypocrites who are pro-life and #AllLivesMatter are plotting to take healthcare away from millions of Americans, which will kill thousands. This is murder—it is a premeditated assault on the poor and disadvantaged, the disabled, the sick.

I am so lucky. I will probably escape from this nightmare unscathed. But because I’m unaffected, at least for now, I’m strong and healthy enough to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves. #Slacktivism is easy—real activism is really hard. I’m not even there yet. I just contacted my rep for the first time on July 4th. I’m a monthly donor to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, but I can’t afford to send them as much as I’d like.

Luckily, my best friend is a woke bae who has marched and prioritized civic engagement like a boss. She has alerted me to a few dope resources that are the perfect intro to doing your part.

***

WTF Just Happened Today – This is a daily briefing on what the government is up to. If North Korea is testing missiles, you can read about it here. If the GOP is still whining about Hillary’s e-mails, it’ll be on here. It’s so hard to keep every crazy thing that’s happened straight!

5calls – 5calls is a site that provides call scripts and contact information for State Reps, Senators, AGs, etc. Reps work for us—make sure they’re legislating your values by calling them.

Countable – Countable provides summaries of past and present bills, plus the information on how your reps have voted. It helps you make those calls armed with the facts. For instance, my rep, whom I voted for and who I feel represents most of my values, recently voted for an extremely shitty, xenophobic bill. Hell no.

Democratic Socialists of America – I still haven’t taken the plunge and joined the DSA, but it’s only a matter of time. Yes, we need to buck the 2-party system (France and Britain’s recent elections are compelling evidence as to why), but I’m hoping my beloved Dems can get it together and swerve left. The DSA is doing super important work at the local level though, so check them out. Just don’t put a rose emoji in your Twitter display name, or I’ll disown you.

***

Well, that post took an unexpected turn. What started as a personal reflection about getting older somehow turned into a call for political action. Lately, it’s been hard not to think in the plural. As the rights of other Americans are stripped away, WE supersedes ME. Grammatically-questionable platitude aside, we’ve got to get to work. 2018 is coming up fast. I’ll be 27 by the midterms—maybe I’ll have some of this figured out by then.

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Dreams

My lifelong dream has been to work from home. As a child, that meant becoming an author. I loved to write and was praised often for my ability. But things change and interests fade; as I got older (and social media blew up), I began to prefer the straightforwardness of the “blog” style, which also allows for a wide breadth of topics to be discussed in a single medium. Also, there’s an instant gratification to social media that is absent from traditional publishing. Beyond this, I truly don’t know if I have an original work of fiction in me! I read a lot, and the amount of detail in most of the fiction I read must require exhaustive research! When it comes to research, I prefer hands-on experience (such as trying and failing at replicating recipes or making pieces of art), to the academic type of research which requires databases and journal articles.

Basically, blogging is my dream job. There are just a few problems with turning an obscure hobby into a real job.

  1. Successful blogs marry stunning visuals with substantive content. Well-designed websites are my kryptonite. As a millennial, I evaluate a company or individual’s worth by its visual presentation. When a company takes time to hire out artists and graphic designers, or a savvy blogger learns Photoshop and InDesign herself, it is an indication that her product or persona is important to her and worth the extra investment of time or money. Good web design makes the content of the blog or website more accessible (and therefore more useful) to the reader, contributing to the success of the site.
  2. It takes time, money, or both to create a site worthy of traffic. Confession: I don’t even own a camera. I desperately want one, as photography is a huge interest of mine, but committing to a purchase of upwards of $500 is terrifying to a student. I would spend $500 on new tires for my car because that contributes to my overall safety and well-being. But to spend big money on something I want rather than need is daunting. The cost of maintaining a website is reasonable (I’m already doing that), but the investment of time comes at a price. Not only does one have to learn (or hire out) great web design and provide engaging visuals, but one has to have the time to create the sites content. DIYs take time. Writing essays takes time. Researching topics of interest in order to successfully do those things takes time. Hell, even outfit photos take time! There’s the photography, photo editing, image uploading, posting of affiliate links, etc. It takes a full-time job to afford to create content, but it takes a whole lot of free time to actually create it.
  3. Sometimes you have to fail a few times in order to succeed. Nobody is perfect; even though the lives of bloggers may seem perfect, they are real people with real flaws. That food blogger might have ruined 3 casseroles before she found the perfect bake time and temperature. For the layperson who dreams of entry into the blogosphere, the idea of failing, and potentially wasting time and money as discussed above, is scary! Most of us don’t have the resources to accept failure. It takes a very determined person to persevere through that, and not all of us are programmed with such self-confidence.
  4. Committing to a life off the beaten path requires an enormous leap of faith. If you, like me, have a family that would never understand why you quit your job to run a blog full-time, then you understand the stranglehold that traditional values have upon most of us. I can only speak as an American (specifically a New Englander), but you’re supposed to perform well in high school, go on to a competitive college, make Dean’s List, graduate with mountains of debt, somehow immediately proceed into a lucrative career, get married, buy a house, and procreate. Almost no one actually does this, yet your individual failure to do so is met with disapproval at every turn. Personal example: I was encouraged to go into nursing when I was in high school. I hate being around sickness, I’m disgusted by blood, and I excelled in humanities rather than the sciences. I would be the world’s worst nurse. I would be absolutely miserable every day of my life. But nursing is practical, noble, reliable work, so despite the fact that I would basically want to kill myself every day, my family did their best to encourage this path. I was raised with the understanding that work is an unpleasant means to an end. You need to earn enough money to lead a normative life that wouldn’t be judged by other successful people. That…sucks. Faced with such opposition, you have to believe in yourself or your product to your core in order to shirk tradition and make your own rules.

It’s not all terrifying, though. The freedom to wear whatever I want every day is almost enough motivation for me to make the jump! Working from home, blogging, or other non-traditional jobs aren’t for the lazy: you have to hustle and work your ass off to make a living, but in truth, there’s no one I’d work harder for than myself and the little family I’m making.

So, how do I do it? I’ve scoured the internet for advice that all seems impossible and daunting. I’m barely managing a job, school, and a home as it is. But that desperate hope to make my dreams come true never leaves the back of my mind. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I either lie or say nothing. How do you put into a simple sentence everything that I’ve said here? I guess the only way to put it is: “I want to work for myself.” I want to create my own future and establish my own standards. I want to succeed on my own terms. I have no desire to be rich. I’ve honestly even given up on dreams of world travel. I just want to go to bed every night knowing that I followed my heart.

I think that’s the new American dream.

Happy New Year

I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t New Year’s like, 2 months ago?”

Yes, it was. But not for me. I’m a lifelong sufferer of major depression, and the winter is the hardest season for me to get through with my head up. But, here in New England, it seems the sun has finally returned to us, and even though it’s still cold enough to snow, the vibrant energy of springtime is looming.

Earlier in the month, however, I suffered an extreme depressive episode. I’m medicated, so it was fewer crying jags and more general numbness. I couldn’t care about anything. I let my schoolwork, my job, and my relationships suffer. Wedding planning halted. I was in a really terrible place. After about 2 weeks of basically being housebound except for shifts at work, I decided that I needed to do whatever possible to pull myself out of my depression (hopefully, once and for all).

So, I made some changes. The first thing I did was give up alcohol. Cold turkey. I’ve blogged a little bit about drinking in the past. I’m far from a heavy drinker, but as alcohol is a depressant, it seemed counterintuitive to add depressants to depression.

I also started aromatherapy using Monq diffusers. I touched upon them in a recent post. They’re amazingly relaxing, and I highly recommend them!

I started going to bed really early (and trying my damndest to get up early). Going to bed earlier is easy—it’s the getting out of bed that I’ve always struggled with. I didn’t have much success with this until this morning. I’m hoping it continues!

I gave up caffeine after 3 p.m. This was a fairly arbitrary time choice, but it has worked wonders. I had no idea how much my caffeine consumption was affecting my sleep. Coffee doesn’t make me jittery or energetic, so I foolishly thought that I was immune to its effects. Wrong! My mind was jittery and energetic—shutting it off was impossible! No wonder I was having frequent nightmares! I switched to herbal tea—ginger with honey & lemon to be exact, and it has had a marvelous calming effect. It’s also great for digestion!

Upon the advice of a coworker, I started saying “thank you” more, and smiling when I did it. Just because I don’t personally need the validation of being thanked doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good to validate and appreciate others. This alone has really brightened up my moods!

And finally (and most importantly), I KonMari’d. What the hell is KonMari, you ask?

book
image via google

KonMari is the nickname of Japanese organizational guru, Marie KKondo. She is a genius. I started reading her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, on Friday, and I’ve already been able to improve my quality of life. I can’t do tidying up justice in a blog post, but suffice it to say that it advocates basically getting rid of 2/3 or so of what you own, and only keeping those items which “spark joy”. That’s a fairly vague criterion for most, but as someone who values her intuition deeply, it is now the only criterion by which I evaluate my possessions. I’ve donated a ton of stuff already to my local Savers, as well as sold my nicer clothing on consignment or through Poshmark. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that my apartment didn’t have a storage issue—I had a hoarding issue! Honestly, how many sweaters does one woman need? Do I really need to keep all of my old exams and class notes? Fuck that. I feel so liberated from the burden of things. I hope to keep up the minimalism for the rest of my life! Being exclusively surrounded by items that give you joy is inspiring and mood-lifting.

So, that’s my personal recipe for winter survival! What tips do you employ to keep yourself sane during the colder months?

–DellaBites

Club’s going up—on a Tuesday

I took an accidental five-day hiatus from blogging. At first it was just so that I could focus on finishing my summer semester and turn out a 12-page research paper. (Mine was only 9 pages, to be fair, and honestly pretty recondite, but I FINISHED it, damn it.)

But then something completely insane and unexpected happened. I GOT ENGAGED!

I never thought in 8 million years that it would happen so soon. We had discussed and agreed that it was something we both wanted, but we weren’t in any rush. So that’s why, when he said “Let’s get married” on Tuesday night I didn’t believe him. For like an hour. I made him swear on his grandmother’s grave that he wasn’t messing with my head. I still kind of don’t believe it. It wasn’t overly romantic or cheesy. It felt like an equitable decision between two adults. So my style.

I still haven’t called him my fiancé out loud (it feels way too weird), but I did order a FEYONCÉ shirt on Etsy because I mean, I’m a girl. A girl who happens to love both Beyoncé and puns. Unfortunately, I have to wait 2 weeks to get my ring, since the jeweler is closed next week for the July 4th holiday (I know, the whitest of white girl problems). But it’s a hand-me-down from my mom that I’m having reset, so it’s really special and worth the wait.

Pretending to like each other.
Pretending to like each other.

I’m already finding it difficult to stay reasonable and sane when other people express their enthusiasm about “wedding things” but I always swore that I wasn’t that type of girl. I’ve got goals, man. I need to see France before I die. I want to be a homeowner and a mother to many cats (jury is still out on humans, but we’ll see). I’m not spending a small fortune on a wedding. So, wish me luck. Pray that I will not turn into a heinous bridezilla, and have to forfeit my membership to the feminist club.

Maybe this amazing song by Janelle Monae will help: