Wednesday, December 24, 2008

[Hospital Blues]

While I've got a break between mind-bending painkillers and such, I thought I'd send you an update about how the surgery went and where I am at as far as recovery.

The surgery went perfectly. No complications--even the breathing tube went right in with no trouble!--and no need for a follow-up surgery. It was a straight, four-hour success. Not many of my surgeries can claim that, especially such an unusual procedure as this.

Recovery's been good, but definitely among my most painful. For the first few days, if I didn't get certain medicine at a certain time and a certain strength, I ended up getting some very crippling spinal headaches. Eventually, we got all that regulated, and in the past 36 hours I've gone from flat on my back to walking laps in the hall. The therapists are at a loss as to what they can help me with. Ha! If my back didn't burn, I'd just leave 'em in the dust.

I am having some trouble getting the nerve use back in one area of the body which is affecting when I can go home. If I can't find a way to work around the temporary numbness, I'll probably be sent home on Friday or over the weekend with special instructions. I think I can deal.

I have no problem hanging here at the hospital over Christmas (in spite of everyone's apparent horror at the concept) as my family will be here anyway and I'll have immediate care if I need it. Win-Win.

Anyway, that's the worldview from 822 West in Cox South. :) I've had at least one visitor every day, so it's been definitely tolerable.

I hope you're having a great break!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

[Tossin' and Turnin'/Turnin' and Tossin'/Tossin' and Turnin' All Night!]

The, um, surgery anxiety set in last night.  I had my pre-admission appointment, where they ran a plethora of heart, lung, and blood tests and gave me my instructions and warnings.  I think up to now, the whole concept of another surgery has been pretty abstract.  I haven't had one in 8 years, which is my all-time record (surpassing the next longest stretch by four years), so I guess I'd conveniently blocked out or muffled the memories.  Then, at home in bed, reading the booklet, the memories came flooding back.

Cue hyperventilation.

Okay, not yet, but I did get a little panicky, but I'm expecting to need to be given some kind of medicine to help me relax on Thursday.  It's official--the surgery is concrete now.  The day after tomorrow.  Yipe.

It doesn't help that I slept badly last night, either.  I dozed off around 8:15, meaning to sleep until 3 a.m., since I was too tired to work.  Unfortunately, I woke instead at midnight (thank you, crushed bladder) and couldn't get back to sleep.  I lay there for three hours.  Nothing.  Just panic.  Finally, I got up, did some work until I couldn't hold my eyes open, and I finally fell asleep...

...at 5:30 a.m.  I had to get up at 6:30 to be out the door by 7:15.

My name is Niki, and I'm one tired chica. 

Five more conferences to go, and I can go home and get some sleep.  I have to try to do what I did last night, though, since I still have to grade eleven more portfolios and study for tomorrow's Old English final exam.  Here's hoping my bladder and brain cooperate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

[Be Brave]

Well, I'm back under the knife in three days.  I also have a delightfully long list of assignments to finish and papers to grade in the next two days.  Right now, I'm sitting in the Coffee Ethic, between conferences, inhaling caffeine and sweet treats.  I have to stay alert somehow.  I'm really just looking forward to waking up afterward and being on the road to recovery--and possibly be rid of a lot of the head and equilibrium issues I've been dealing with for the past few years (increasingly so in the past few months).  I'm tired.  Pure and simple. 

I've learned a lesson for next semester, too.  When I decide to have conferences off campus, especially when it's an easy ride on the campus shuttle, I shouldn't offer the "if it's alright with you" statement.  It's no harder to get here than it is to get to the student union, and it's much more pleasant.  I can't believe how many of my students lack even a miniscule sense of adventure.  My second class's reason for not wanting to come here?  They don't want to have to find someplace new.  Seriously... the shuttle drops them off next door.

I'm tired.  And grouchy. 

One more conference left today... then, homework!  Whoo-hoo!

Peace to you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

[Number Seventeen Looms on the Horizon - Surgery Update]

Greetings, one and all!




Where, oh, where to start?



Well, keeping to my word, I’m sending out this update to everyone on my email list, whether you’re familiar with the situation or you barely even remember I exist. (:)) Disclaimer: if you have a weak stomach for medical stuff, I tend to hold nothing back, so brace yourself.



The Back Story



Toward the end of October, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not had a period in nearly three months. Not that I missed the PMS or anything, but let’s face it, three months is a clear bell that signals that *ding-ding-ding!* something’s not right. So, I scheduled a check-up through the MSU health center. During the examination, the doctor noticed some swelling, and a further ultrasound didn’t even show my left ovary. Yeah, a little creepy, I know. So, here I was, anticipating a possible partial or complete hysterectomy—something that didn’t overly horrify me, as having kids has never been an option anyway, and relief from cramps sounded nice. To be safe, my doctor referred me to a neurologist to make sure that the 11.6 centimeter mass he’d identified was really an ovarian cyst and not the internal meningocele (a rarity, as normally these show up externally and are found at birth) I’d had my whole life. Neither me nor my parents recalled the sac of spinal fluid having been that big before, so our expectations didn’t change.



Lo and behold, an MRI and CT scan revealed that the mass was, indeed, the meningocele—doubled in diameter in just two years (to say nothing of the volume, which had multiplied by something like four or five times). Suddenly, all my symptoms made sense, from my daily migraines to my screwy periods. This thing had more or less flattened everything in my pelvis. No wonder my hormones and digestive system knew no regularity anymore, and suddenly, I understood why I couldn’t sleep through the night anymore without getting up to pee something like four or five times. There’s no room for anything.



As such, on November 12, I had a myelogram run (similar to a spinal tap but without the fluid sample) to identify where everything was and check to identify risks involved in this surgery. After a week and a half of nausea, dizziness, and spinal headaches (distinctly different from my migraines), I tried to make myself grade papers and write essays without keeping a hand on the phone all day to answer at the first sign of a ring. Not that I’m scared of surgery or anything—after that last one, I’m quite immune to that terror. I just hate not knowing. Kind of punches a hole in my reputation for spontaneity, doesn’t it? :)



The News



This morning, I had my follow-up appointment. I saw images. Holy crap, that thing is huge! It takes up more space than everything else that’s supposed to be in there combined! Suddenly, I understand why, no matter how healthy I eat and how much I try to keep in shape, my tummy keeps growing. It’s going to be a relief to be rid of that thing!



Ladies and gentlemen, I have no tailbone. Seriously. That’s why the sac developed. I never do anything halfway, do I?



So here’s the lowdown: at 6 a.m. on December 18 (Thursday), I’ll be checking in at Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Missouri for my surgery. I’ll be in the hospital at least a week (longer if there are complications) and will have at least a month recovery period. I’m less than thrilled about that part, but I’ll just be glad to have it over with. If you’re in town or can come to the hospital, I know my parents would appreciate someone waiting with them. Mom still can’t think about it without her eyes tearing up. I imagine I won’t be feeling too social right away, but by the weekend, I’ll be ready to see some smiling faces that aren’t on bodies carrying needles and meds.



The surgery itself, as far as the doctor can tell at this point, will involve clamping off the area and draining the fluid over the following week. Yes, it will be gross, I know, but it will be a relief as well. It may also involve a follow-up surgery to remove certain parts and to seal up that area. Because what I have is so rare in this form, a lot of things will play out in surgery as needs arise. I have a good doctor, and he’s getting feedback from everyone in the office (Springfield Neurological Institute) as well as getting a second opinion from a well-reputed doctor in Kansas City. I have complete faith in his skill and God’s providence.



Getting everything finished early, though, is going to be quite an ordeal. Forgive me, those of you who see me frequently, if I’m antisocial over the next three weeks. I’ve got a lot on my plate and very little time to finish it up.



Anyway, that’s the low-down at this point, and you now officially know what I know.



Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers thus far, and thank you in advance for keeping my family and I in prayer over the next few weeks. If anything new develops, I’ll let you know as soon as I know the details.



It’s definitely lunch time, which means it’s time to stop typing, send this off, and get some munchies. :)



Much love to you and yours, and a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

[Okay, So, Question...]

Why can there be no Christmas movie without some uber-sappy romance?  Don't get me wrong--I'm a hopeless romantic, so I do enjoy watching it all unfold.

The problem is that it simply does not reflect reality--at least not mine. 

Can we just have a few Christmas movies for those of us with no mistletoe bunny this year--or any other year for this matter?  Must every girl pair up with a boy in a movie, and vice versa?  Huh?  I know films are meant to be an escape... it just gets hard to get out of that mindset.

End rant.

Friday, November 21, 2008

[Surgery Date...]

...is to be announced, actually.




But I did get enough information to know that surgery IS happening. That alone is a comfort, since I was afraid that it would be too risky (darned if I do, darned if I don't sort of thing).



I'll find out the date and details on Wednesday.



If you think you're out of the loop, if you've read my blog entries and this message, you pretty much know what I know.



If you want to get the mass email with the date and details when I get back from the doctor's office on Wednesday, and you've never received a mass email from me at your current email address, send me your email addy and I'll make sure you're on the list.



One step closer,

Niki

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For a long time, I've suspected that the microwave-safe dishes my grandma bought me for Christmas three years ago (at my begging) weren't as microwave-safe as they claimed.  For one thing, if I ever had to nuke anything for more than, say, a minute-fifteen, I had to put on thick gloves to handle the plate for about ten minutes--and the food itself would always be somewhat less than ideally warm. 

Today, I have confirmation.

Hungry, I put a frozen cordon bleu on one of my plates and put it in the microwave for the standard three minutes while I started my daily pitcher of frappuccino.  Just as I was filling the blender of milk with ice, the "I'm done!" beep went off, and I told the microwave to hold on just a moment, knowing that in about fifteen seconds I would hear an impatient, "Hey! Idiot!  I'm done, remember?  Get your arse over here and open me up!" reminder beep--always annoying.  Just as I was closing the freezer door...

POW!

With trepidation, I opened the microwave door.  Supporting my still-whole cordon bleu, half my pretty red plate was shattered. 

Behold, the aftermath:

Don't be fooled by the large shards... there are many tiny splinters to clean up, too. 
Why do I get out of bed?

Monday, November 17, 2008

[The Proverbial Straw]

I just want to quit.  I don't know what--maybe everything.  It's a little thing, finding out that one is teaching English 110 and nothing else for the fourth semester and that said person is the only second-year GA still in that boat.  It's probably nothing personal and simply a scheduling issue.  But on top of everything else, it's just made me snap. 

*I'm so far behind I don't know how I'll ever catch up--and the more stressed I get, the harder it is to sit down and tackle the mountain.
*I didn't hear from the doctor today, so I still don't know if/when I'm having surgery--and I need it.  This damned meningocele has doubled in diameter in the past two years, and it's causing a lot of problems
*The problems having to do with the meningocele... cramps, indigestion, bladder issues...
*I'm still not bouncing back from my myelogram.  My head goes on spnning and my back goes on spasming.
*I still haven't heard from the doctor and I JUST WANT AN ANSWER!
*I worry about my parents worrying.
*I feel horribly guilty for the expenses me, my life, and my health are incurring on my parents.  It's hard enough making ends meet without my issues.

I'm so depressed right now.  I feel hemmed in on every side.  People tell me that they admire my spirit and courage--what spirit?  what courage?  I hate this.  I hate this.  I hate this.  If it were just one thing, I could deal, but it's everything at once.

I want my Sassy.

I miss my mom.

I feel like crap.

I feel trapped. 

Why am I at MSU?  Why am I having another surgery?  Why can't I get an answer and a surgery date?

I want to quit... but what can I quit?  I can't quit school--I'm a GA, so my decision would affect my students.  I have no teaching certificate, so I can't get a teaching job without my master's degree.  I'm not qualified for anything else, and I'm not physically capable of working another type of job, between my back and my migraines. 

I'm at wits end right now.  Intellectually, I know that God is in control.  I really do.  But my emotions aren't getting the message. 

Why didn't the doctor call?

Am I a bad teacher?

I'm tired... and I don't have time to be.

Yeah, that smile?  The result of being trapped.  What am I going to do?  Throw a fit?  What good will it do?  It'll just make people worry without cause.  So I smile.  I do what I must.  But I'm tired.  And I can't stop crying. 

I want my puppy, dammit.  I miss my baby.

Meh, I'll probably wake up in good spirits and everything working out fine tomorrow morning.  But right now, I just want to knock myself out somehow. 

I think I'll go puke now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Surgery Update

I just got back from the neurologist, and I may be facing spinal surgery within the next month. On Wednesday, he's running a myelogram on my spine, a procedure that involves inserting contrasting dye into my spine and taking a CT scan to see if the surgery is even feasible. The procedure is similar to a spinal tap, only they won't be taking any fluid samples. I was born with what is essentially a bag of excess spinal fluid (myelomeningocele) that is located at the base of my spine, internally. Apparently, over the past 25 years, it's been growing and putting more pressure on organs in that area, causing a number of problems with my bladder, intestines, and uterus.  The myelomeningocele measures 11.6 centimeters, which basically has flattened my uterus and certainly explains why my stomach's so distended.

We're hoping that the surgical procedure can be done without risk of contracting meningitis. Needless to say, I'll be on my back the rest of the day, and I can only return to normal activities after 24 hours IF I don't have any complications--and I'm not known for having complication-free procedures.

I was fine until Mom (Mary) freaked out.  Apparently, the fact that this affects my spine and that my mother (Michelle) died from the effects of spinal cord cancer only one year older than I am now terrifies her.  Please pray that she will understand that God is in control; there is nothing to fear. 

Drama, drama, drama...

Friday, November 07, 2008

[Updating When I Should Be Sleeping]

First off, some fabulous Halloween pictures of Autumn Dryad Niki:

In other news, I'm taking the GRE subject test tomorrow morning (hence why I should be asleep by now on a Friday night when I'm so accustomed to falling asleep a couple hours before dawn), and I'm dreading it. Four hours of testing about literature, most of which I've probably never read or scarcely remember. Juuuust fabulous.
I'm also waiting to hear back on whether or not I'm having surgery soon. I haven't had a period for three months, and I seem to have another problematic ovarian cyst... more problematic than before. In fact, taking the ultrasound, the technician couldn't find my left ovary. Not a good sign. There seems to be an 11-inch mass, and on Monday, I'm having an MRI run to see if what they see is the myelomingecele that I've had since birth or a very large cyst that would probably result in at least a partial hysterectomy.
Wait... no more periods? Hey, I can deal with that!
I'm not afraid... I just hate not knowing. Hopefully I'll know more soon. I do have discomfort/pain (nothing severe), and my hormones are completely screwy right now. I've had acne for a few months now, and I never got more than one or two pimples before, usually around "that time of month." Now, I can't win for losing. Maybe hormones are why I haven't been able to focus this semester, too. That would explain a lot... as well as why I can't ever fall asleep before 3 in the morning these days.
Anyway, I would've mentioned it sooner, but I wanted to wait until I had something concrete on which to report. Long-term readers will know how many "tumor scares" I've had over the past few years that came to naught, so I guess I'm getting a little paranoid about being the girl who cried tumor. Maybe I'm just paranoid in general.
I did have me some cider and rum with the sushi I made for dinner, so I should be able to fall asleep here pretty soon.
Oh, and I'm a redhead again:
I'm off to sleep! Good night to all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[The Joys of Simultaneously Teaching and Taking Classes]

*sniffle, snort, wheeze, hack, cough*

I adore autumn.  I really do.  Of all the seasons of the year, this is my favorite--except for one nasty little detail: sinus infections.  Between allergies and the change in air pressure, I spend close to 80% of my time from now until April or May fighting mucus and sinus headaches.  So if you see me sniffling and honking in the next few months, you'll understand why. 

I had insomnia last night... I think I finally fell into a good, deep sleep around 4:30 a.m... I had to get up at 8:30, and I really wanted to get up at six to work on an essay that was really due last week but for which I got an extension.  As it is, I'm planning to go home after teaching today, instead of attending my own classes, to sneak in another two hours of sleep and *knock on wood* finish that stupid paper.  It's not a difficult paper, really, but for the life of me, I just can't make any headway.  It's the pits.

In other ponderings, I wonder when most students start to tap into their ability to think critically.  I find myself wondering that a lot this semester.  For example, what should one do when something is due every Friday but one cannot remember to do it on Friday?  How about do it earlier in the week instead of protesting that "we need to change the due dates!"  What should one do when one cannot remember what day of the week something is due?  How about look in the syllabus that the teacher both passed out in class and emailed everyone in early August?  Just a thought.  Sigh.  Looks like I have another patronizing lecture awaiting my performance today. 

In other news, I'm going to be a dryad for Halloween this year: brown sheet-toga, autumn-leaf garlands, and green ribbons pair with fairy-eyes and brown-tinted skin shading.  It's gonna rock.  Pictures pending!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

[My Brain Hurts]

...so do my fingers, come to think of it, but the brain takes clear precedence over stinging guitar fingers.  I'm supposed to take a midterm and turn a paper in for Old English, but only one is going to happen at this point.  I ran into a seemingly insurmountable wall in my research until very recently, and I'm just now getting to read through my materials.  I've sent in a "please have mercy on me!" email for the paper, and I'm going to try to send it in by email by Saturday.  I don't know what else to do, as I need sleep in addition to studying for the midterm.  Why am I writing here/wasting valuable study/sleep time?  Well, I need to vent or I may blow a gasket. 

Why do I want to get a PhD, again?  It wouldn't kill me to teach basic composition at community college... Sigh.  Que sera, sera.  Basically, my decision will come in January when I hear back from Mizzou and OSU.  If both reject my applications, then I take it as a sign that I'm to go ahead and jump into a community college teaching position, for a few years anyway.  If one or both accept me, then I'll tighten my belt and journey on, erstwhile hoping I don't turn gray before graduating.  Ha.  I am tired, though. 

So wherever God wants me, I'm wide open.  You may remember how hard I fought to go back to Truman for my master's degree, but that door slammed in my face (thank you crappy economy), and amidst all my resistance and nervous twitching, I eventually saw that Springfield really was where I was supposed to be.  Yes, that's right, I actually got something to get through my thick, stubborn skull.  So I'm open to what the future holds.  All the same, I dread starting over again.  I found my niche (faster than I did during my bachelor's degree and something I never did in high school), and I'm getting ready to leave it already.  Hey, I love the notion of traveling, but I want a home.  I want to be settled somewhere. 

Oh, and I want a puppy.  I miss Sassy like mad, and nothing suits that part of me like puppy love.  Darned apartment dwelling.

Now: nap first, study second... or study first, nap second?  I'm going to try the latter, but we'll see if that works out at all.  Good night, kids. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

[Another Year Older, Another Year... Wider?]

Twenty-five... go figure...

Anyway.  I'm going to be running ragged from now until May.  My graduation list is about a mile long: writing a thesis that has not one word yet written, coming up with questions for and taking comprehensive exams, taking the GRE subject test... not to mention teaching and taking classes like during a normal year.  Not that I want to rush through my life or anything, but I'll be so glad to be finished with acquiring degrees and just teach and live my life.  Wait... what life?   Ha.

I threw myself a 25th birthday party, inviting girlfriends from school and church.  Overall, about nine people came, and it was a good energy.  We played Cranium, ate too much, and laughed ourselves silly.  All-in-all, a good time had by all and confirmation that I love my friends!

So ends another random blog entry about nothingness because I felt the need to update but lacked the time and energy to be original.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

[New Kids in Town]

My new cell phone:
My new computer:

Now, if I could just get these damned papers graded already and get over this stinkin' sinus infection, life will be good.

Call me. :-D

Thursday, October 02, 2008

[Off to a Brilliant Start]

This morning, I meant to wake up at 7:00.  Upon setting my alarm, I realized that that would only give me three-and-a-half hours of sleep, so I decided to reschedule for 8:00.  I went to bed.  My alarm went off at 8:00, and in my drunken-like state of sleepiness, I reset my alarm for 9:00.  Baaaad judgment.  I usually leave around 10:00 on Tuesday/Thursdays, so that gave me an hour to take a shower, check my email, put on make-up (trust me, this morning I needed it!), make my breakfast/lunch/dinner for the day, and make a thermos of my frappuccino. 

Yeah, you can see where this is going.

9:50 rolls around, and I'm just getting out of the shower.  I throw on a hoodie, jeans, some quick eye make-up, and run a brush through my crazy hair.  I realize that I'd been too lazy the night before to rinse out my blender, so leaving the spigot open, I run detergent and water through to bleach it clean.  Then, genius that I am, I forget to close the spigot.  As my coffee is percolating, I grab the last of my milk and start pouring it in the blender.  Much to my horror, I see milk spreading all across my counter, down my dishwasher, and onto the floor.

At this point, it's 10:05.

I promptly use half a roll of paper towels to clean up my mess and stop it from spreading underneath the dishwasher.  The seconds tick by.  It's 10:10... no breakfast, no lunch, no dinner, and worst of all... no caffeine.  Pissed off, I put a lid on the tuna I'd just dumped in a bowl, put it in the fridge, pour out the last ounce of milk, grab my bag, and, ignoring my pounding headache, run out the door.

Then, after I park and catch the shuttle, I nearly get off at the wrong stop.  I'm halfway down the aisle, before I realize that if I get off here, I'll have a ten-minute walk.  I sit down, nonchalantly, and realize that today is not going to be my most intelligent of days.

As it is, I'm sitting here with three pages left to write for my night class and realizing that, in order to get them finished, I'm going to have to skip my Old English lit class.  I'm in a writing mode now, and I don't want to lose it before I finish.  Besides, as much I love my OE class, it's at that time of day when my blood sugar plummets and I can barely stay awake--and with today's screwy diet and pounding migraine, there would be no hope for me anyway. 

Oh, well... at least I've got this freakin' awesome new computer to do my writing on.  That almost makes it all worthwhile!

It can only get better from here. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

[Senility Comes Young These Days]

Picture this:

It's library day. My class is supposed to meet me at 12:30 in the library lobby for their assignment (a library scavenger hunt). The first class arrived right on time, but this class is another story. I have mentioned it in class and on the syllabus. At 12:15, one student arrives early, signs the attendance sheet, accepts her mission and embarks. Five minutes later, another cheery early bird does the same. The seconds tick by. 12:30 arrives and passes. 12:31... 12:32... 12:33, I see two students walk in the door without seeing me and set off to find the library lobby. I nod knowingly, waiting for the truth to dawn. 12:34... 12:35... 6... 7... 12:38, five more students walk in as the other two realize where the lobby is. 12:39... 40... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8: the rest of the class walks in, having sat in the classroom for 15 minutes, wondering why the other group suddenly got up and left.

Yeah... it's that kind of semester.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

[I'm So Dizzy, My Head is Spinnin'/Like a Whirlpool, It Never Ends]

Ah, I was doing so well.  The migraines I'd had this month had been pretty minor and less frequent.  Then, well, a certain time of month has begun to rear its ugly head, and my head's been spinning ever since.  Meh.  That, coupled with hayfever (however minor it may be this time), is not helping my enthusiasm or concentration.  Mrrrr.  But I shouldn't complain.  Really.  It could be worse, and it has been.  I'm just grouchy--blame it on hormones.

On a more positive note, the weather, by my standards, has been ideal.  Nary a day above 82 degrees!  The door has been open pretty much non-stop all week.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Finances are kicking my rear, though.  Come the end of this month when I pay rent, I'll be down to the last $50 in my account, and I hate cutting it that close.  I've just always been the sort to want to have a buffer in my account--I know all too well how often the unexpected occurs at the least opportune moment.  Thank heavens for understanding parents!  Still, I keep feeling guilty about it, even though I know there's nothing else to be done. 

Eight more months... eight more months.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

[Sanity?]

Whoo!  Everything thesis-proposal-related is complete and approved!  I feel 10 pounds lighter.

Seriously, though, if every Tuesday and Thursday the rest of the semester is like this, I may end up with high blood pressure after all!  This has been nuts.  Every break between classes has involved chasing down professors, making changes on my proposal, chasing down more professors, answering for changes made in my syllabus, and spending 40 minutes trying to find a damned parking spot!  Yeah, it's been a nutty day... and I still have a 3:30-4:45 and a 6:30-9:20 class left today.  I may stay in bed tomorrow until right before Megan comes over for our walk.  Gah.

Strangely, though, I'm not nearly as wiped out as I would have been last semester.  I guess going to the chiropractor and exercising is making a difference--not one I noticed from day to day, but more when I'm under stress.  My head feels a little tense, but not on the verge of a migraine, and I'm actually still a little hyper.  What's up with that?

Oh, and I get no lunch today.  I broke the tab off of my Chef Boyardee container, and now I can't open the can without a can-opener.  I think I walked under a ladder in my sleep last night, or else I broke an unseen mirror. 

*stomach growls*

2 more hours... I can handle 2 more hours without food... I think.

Maybe music with soothe the savage breast today.  Oh, Mp3 player....!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

[Day One, Semester Three]

I've already had two students fall asleep in class.  Looks like I'm off and running!  Funny thing... it was one student in each class, and yet they both sat in the same section of the class.  Maybe I should declare that area off-limits.

My thesis proposal is finally approved.  Whoo!

So far, I'm pretty organized.  We'll see how long that lasts.

I overslept this morning.  Dumb-head here forgot to turn the alarm on after setting the time.  Smooth.

In 25 minutes, I can go home.  Sleep sounds lovely.

[/End of staccato sentences]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

[The New Year Commences]

Ack!  A summer with only two 3-week breaks goes by hecka fast.  I'm in orientation today, visiting my grandparents this weekend, and classes (for me) start on Tuesday.  Gah!  I still haven't gotten my last signature on my thesis proposal, and it's starting to stress me out.  I have to turn in the proposal to get into the thesis hours "class", and the deadline is rapidly approaching...

If you don't hear from me much over the next nine months, don't be surprised.  I'm going to be running amok with 9 hours of classes, 6 hours I'm teaching, my thesis, and mentoring.  Oh, and I'm actually going to be exercising regularly from now on--I've got an accountability partner in Megan.  At some point, I have to eat, sleep, recoup, go to church and Bible study, and not completely neglect my family and friends.

It's gonna be grand, let me tell ya.

I need a nap. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

[Scents of Fall]

The weather is perfect.  My window is open--for the first time this summer, I might add--and suddenly I feel transported back to the porch swing at the Jefferson house in Kirksville on a late September evening. 

Katie and Jenna are in and out, stopping for a few minutes to breathe in the air before heading to small groups or leadership meetings.  The leaves on the tree in front of the porch screen are beginning to turn gold on the edges, and that guy with the flopping combover just jogged past me, making me smile. 

In my mind, I see Craig, Keith, and Evan out walking, perhaps to visit Matt, Matthew, Joe, and Chase at the Porch house down the street.  Kate just hugged me from behind, planting an affectionate kiss on my head before heading upstairs to write a psychology paper.  I see Liz in the living room studying from her nursing books, and Ally just sat down next to me to hug me and ask what she can pray about for me.  Andrea and Sunshine are coming over later to watch chickflicks, eat killer brownies, and have a gigglefest. 

Suddenly, I have a double-whammy, paradoxical craving for quiche and chai tea lattes at JavaCo and a classic La Pachanga taco salad and frozen margarita.  I have the urge to walk down to the square and peruse through one of the used book stores or see what's playing at the Downtown Cinema 8.  I could walk to campus and see who I randomly run into that I haven't seen since freshman year.  I'd love to sit in the sunken garden with a good book and smell the distinctly sweet, rotting perfume of leaves and undergrowth.  I wonder if Brantley and Jason are going to form a game of Capture the Flag down on the grassy knoll between Pershing and Barnett Hall. 

I'll never forget.

[How Could I Forget?]

I nearly forgot to post pictures of my new hairdo, an especially dreadful thing to do, since I put blue streaks in it again. I think the streaks make the haircut work much better. That, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing Mom's face when I walk in the door with sapphire blue hair. Ha.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

[No Surgery!]

Read the title!

The tumor's still here, but it's really just a fatty tissue mass that people frequently get.  Though it's still causing some discomfort when I walk a long way (like last night... boy oh boy did I walk!), removing it would actually cause more problems, since we could never achieve symmetry, and my body would always be trying to compensate. 

My count remains at sixteen for the time being.  My already-affected brain says thank you.

Oh, and I only have to have one more gingivitis treatment instead of two!  My gums are responding well. 

I may live to be older than dirt yet!

Now, to get my thesis proposal approved.  If I could just track down my three thesis readers today...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

[News, News, and More News]

Whoo!  I got an A in my summer class, and for those of you prone to rolling your eyes in complete and utter, "Well, duh!" let me tell you, I didn't expect it this time.  At all.  I have little natural ability toward formal writing--I'm a narrative writer through and through; this professor very much preferred the formal style.  Yeah, it was tough for me.  But... it's over!

New pending ordeal on the horizon: surgery number seventeen.  Yes, that's right... I have an appointment with a surgeon on Monday.  It turns out that I've got a tumor (almost certainly benign, so no worries, worriers) in my lower back.  It's the reason I've been having trouble walking or standing for extended periods of time, possibly for the past few years.  It measures about 3x6 cm., and it's got to come out before my insurance runs out in December. 

I'm not worried about it, and neither should you, but prayers are appreciated, as I would like to keep it something not to worry about. ;) 

I'm at home for the week.  I'm getting very fat.  I swear, my mom has no notion of normal-sized portions.  For breakfast yesterday, for example, she piled four waffles and two sausage links on a plate and set it in front of me.  My normal breakfast?  A small pastry or a pancake-and-sausage-on-a-stick (looks like a corn dog) and a cup of caffeinated glory.  That's it.  It's plenty.  And if I don't eat all on my plate, Mom asks something like, "You mean you didn't like it?"  Sigh. 

I'm heading back on Friday... and back on a healthy diet.  I like the food she cooks--very much--but not that large of portions every day, especially when I'm inactive like I am in this weather. 

End gripe.

New gripe.

So, last night, I tried to record Now, Voyager, with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid (brilliant movie, by the way).  Weather had interfered back in May, and I'd been waiting all this time for another chance. A half hour into the film... the satellite lost its signal.  Insert fury.  Yeah, I was not happy.  I'm starting to think there's a curse on my attempts to get this movie into my collection. 

End second major gripe.

Okay, so, if you're reading this at my actual website (rather than on Facebook), could you do me a favor and drop me a comment?  I just want to get an idea who's reading this (if anyone).  I think I'm going to try to set it up so you have to check on my actual website (http://nikistarsnhreyes.blogspot.com/) to read the entry... maybe just posting a note on facebook notifying everyone that there is a new post available for viewing.  Hey, call it vanity if you must, but I put a lot of effort into making this site look the way I wanted it. 

I know, I'm weird.  A little nuts, too.  But that's why you love me, isn't it? ;)

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention... I walloped my hair off again.  The length is still almost the same, but it's got a lot more layers, and it's a pretty modern hairstyle.  I like it, but I'm still getting used to it.  I have pictures posted on facebook, though I think I'm going to have to put some up with the hair straightened.  I think I like the way it lays better that way. 

You should have seen the hair I lost, though.  I have uber-thick hair, if you didn't know, and I got a look at that pile of hair on the floor, swept in the corner, and it looked like two or three pomeranians had fallen asleep together.  It. Was. A. Ton. Of. Hair.

Monday, July 07, 2008

[Money-money-money... Money!]

Hey, I'm getting talkative and social again... finally!

I have a job interview at Wet Seal tomorrow at four for a part-time summer position. Exciting! It would take a little financial pressure off my parents and I. I love that they're willing to help me out, but right now, they have to help me with everything but my rent and main utilities. That's just too much.

Keep your fingers crossed!

I'm glad I decided to work on my syllabus last night and pretty much finish it off. That makes the end-of-summer to-do list a bit more manageable. The remaining items:
  • Summer School
  • 15-20 page term paper due July 31
  • Thesis proposal
  • Film recording inventory list for my students (for their first project)
  • The loss of at least five pounds

And now, the recipe for homemade frappuccino:

  1. 20 oz. Braum's skim milk
  2. 2 cups of coffee, made with 3 large tablespoons of coffee grounds
  3. about 8-10 ice cubes
  4. 3-4 shots of sugar-free coffee syrup
  5. Optional shots of Hershey's syrup for measure
  • Combine ingredients in a blender, blending on the highest setting. Watch out for foam overflow. This recipe provides about 3-4 glasses of frappuccino. A note: I advise adding one ice cube to the first glass of frapp; refrigerate the rest.

I go through this abut once a day, and the recipe lasts until five in the evening, when I'm trying to cut out caffeine anyway. It's a nice little set-up.

Let me know if you try it!

Oh, and if you're reading this on Facebook, you might want to have a look at the actual page at http://nikistarsnhreyes.blogspot.com. It's prettier (in my humble opinion), and you can subscribe to the RSS or Atom feeds, especially if you're using IE7 or Firefox. Facebook is great and all, but I've had this blog since I was 17, and I like getting my comments here. :)

Okay, gotta get ready for another oh-so-fabulous day of class for which I'm completely unprepared. Go me!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008

[Can You Hear Me Now?]

I'm really struggling with my self-esteem right now. I heard my speaking voice recorded on video (asking questions pertaining to stories that may be used in my thesis), and... my speech. I've struggled with overcoming this speech impediment all my life, and I honestly thought I had by and large overcome the majority of the issue. Now, unless the fact that I was holding the camera merely caused my voice to be muffled (which I doubt, since my dad's sounded perfectly clear when he had the camera in hand), I can't see that I've come far at all.

That's always been my biggest insecurity... even more so than my appearance. Kids in elementary school teased me for a number of issues, but my speech was the biggest one.

Of course, when I was focusing on pronunciation, my voice came through fine, but let's face it, it's impractical to go through my entire life focusing on keeping my palate closed with every syllable I speak. I would've thought that by now some of it would become ingrained. Apparently not.

I hate feeling like this. It feels ridiculously vain, and I'm sure it is... but my speech is something that figures into every corner of my life... the other insecurities I have only affect me at certain times or in certain environments. I can't get away from the issues that come up with my speech.

Bleh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

[Slacker Woman]



I, um, splurged on shoes and doughnuts today. Yeah. Smart girl, right?
Okay, the shoes, I have to say, in spite of my mad-tight budget, were not that big of a sin because I got an insanely good deal. At Payless today, while I was hanging out with my fabulous friend Megan, I spied a pair of lime green and yellow heels with a soft cloth strap. Crazy comfy, and then--I looked down: another pair, in pink and orange! After a quick drool, I saw that the shoes were marked down to six--yes, six!--dollars! After a brief consultation, I decided to go with the green ones--they made me look a little tan, actually. As I check out, the salesperson reminded us that the shoes were all buy one get one half off. With a gasp, Megan and I looked at each other, and, "The pink shoes!" I ran down the aisle.
That's right, I got two pair of kitten-heel shoes that I could wear all day without pain for under ten bucks.

Life just doesn't get any better.

Then, we spent the rest of the day chatting it up and having girl time. I've missed girl time.

So, I get home this evening, and suddenly, the old sweet tooth chimes in. "Doughnuts. I'm craving doughnuts." It became an internal mantra. I couldn't take it. I hopped in my Jeep, drove down Campbell, and invaded Krispy Kreme. We're talking a dozen chocolated-iced, creme/custard-filled (six of each filling)--and mine, all mine.

Of course, I had a slight binge tonight--I've eaten three. But after this, only one each day until they're gone. I'm really not that junky of an eater, I swear. I heart my veggies, I really do. But when that craving hits, usually when my hormones are getting a little jumpy and close to a certain time of month, I lose my good judgment.

So, though I've put it off for awhile, I'll begin making pals with the treadmill in the apartment rec center starting tomorrow. I'm shooting for a mile and a tenth at a speed of at least three miles per hour. That's up a tenth from last time, and because it was a steady, rapid walk, it definitely worked a lot of muscles, including the wicked old abs.

That's right, I'm making yet another vow to exercise. Deja vu, anyone?

Well, kids, a bath is in my near future, and it's getting late. Much love, loves!

Monday, June 09, 2008

[Updates Galore]

I'm not crying anymore. I spent probably the first week pretty much bawling my eyes out every time I remembered that Sassy is gone. It's hard. She'd been part of my life for so long that it just ripped a big hole in my heart. I wasn't the only one, either--Mom and Dad have both been struggling... Mom still tries to change the subject whenever I start talking about Sassy. As confrontational as that woman can be when it comes to arguing, she does tend to pull the avoidance card when grief comes into the picture. Me, I know it'll hurt more later if I shove the pain to the side, so I prefer to have it out then and there--and believe me, I did.

I'm not crying anymore, but neither am I my usual chipper self. I have a new melancholy cast to my spirits these days. I'm not giggly like I usually am--at least, not very often.

Mom told me that when I have place of my own, with a fenced-in yard, she and Dad will get me a corgi puppy. While no dog could ever replace the incomparable Sassy, a dog would still fill that hole better than anything else.

In other news, it appears that I'm very allergic to broccoli all of a sudden. I'm broke out in a rash and hives from head to toe... literally. I didn't go to church this morning, though I was wide awake, because I knew I'd be scratching non-stop. Tomorrow, I'm going to the health center and see about getting a cortisone-steroid shot, because it's not clearing up on its own. Seriously, it's maddening. Thank goodness for Benadryl and its creme, or I would never get a moment's sleep.

I have an interview at The Buckle Tuesday morning at 11, so prayers would be appreciated. I filled out at least 20 applications within the past couple weeks, and I really don't want to look at another one for quite awhile.

Well, kids, summer classes start back up tomorrow, so I'm off to get a little sleep. Good night!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

[She's Gone.]

Please pray for us. My Sassy had to be put down this morning. I just found out. I can barely see to type.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

[I So Hate Good-bye]


This morning, around 10:30, I petted my Sassy-girl for what is almost certainly the very last time. She has a tumor on her neck that has grown from a small knot to the size of a golf ball in just a matter of weeks. She's in otherwise perfect health, but with a tumor growing that fast, it's almost certainly malignant. Mom and Dad will be taking her to vet soon, whenever they can manage to muster up enough resolve to do the hardest thing in the world. We're pretty sure that she will not come home.


I know she's fourteen and a half, which is something like 100 years old in dog years, and she has certainly slowed down in the past year, but she's still so full of life! It's just killing me to know that we're almost certainly going to have to have her put down within the next few weeks.


We got Sassy about nine months after my mom passed away. She's been my healing salve, and she's always been the reason I looked forward to going home. Yes, I love my parents, but I can talk to them anytime.


Please pray for my family and me. We're all struggling, even Mom, who's always pretended to be indifferent to Sassy. She's been the smartest and most "human" dog our family has ever had, and we don't want to say good-bye.


I don't want to go back to that house without her running out to greet me. It could never feel like home.


I hate good-byes. I hate, hate, hate them!

Monday, May 12, 2008

[Success!]

I'm completely finished grading.

I've finished my research study paper 17 hours early.

I've finished the information sheet for said paper to present during my paper presentation.

Other than attending my final exam periods and one memoir rewrite, I'm finished for the semester! That means I'm free to watch my Katharine Hepburn movies that are on TCM tomorrow. I just have to make one quick trip to campus before 5 to make copies.

I feel so danged productive. And believe me, that's a very raaaaaaaaare sensation for me! Hehe.

Full nights' sleep are just around the corner!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

[All That Matters]

I'm too jacked up on caffeine to sleep and too sleepy to work.

Maybe I'll see if there are any movies on that I can record with my brand new DVD recorder! Yeah, buddy!

As of Thursday, 10:45, I'm finished with my first year of grad school. Wowsers.

A recent musical discovery on my part:


Saturday, May 03, 2008

[Won't Take No For an Answer]

In honor of my impending summer job search, from my Mikey's Funnies emailing list:


Dear [Interviewer's Name]:

Thank you for your letter of [date of rejection letter].

After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your firm. This year I have had been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite [Firm's Name]'s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately following graduation. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future candidates.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

[Migraine Update]

For the past two-ish months, I've been on propranolol for my migraines, and it's been helping. I'm still getting the migraines, but far fewer of the dailies, and the hardcores are a little less intense. All-in-all, a promising situation.

However, (yes, there's a however here) propranolol is also a medicine prescribed for hypertension... and I have hypOtension--the opposite problem. It's perfectly normal for me to have a BP of, say, 90-100/60-70. This, of course, has come to explain my years of issues with low energy levels, and I'm frankly relieved that my body leans in this direction rather than in the HBP range. But anyway, when I went to the dentist's office on Wednesday, they took my blood pressure (they check for everything).

85/45. Heart rate? 56. I'm normally at 70-80. And no, I have not been exercising lately, so one could hardly praise a healthier heart for the decrease.

And tonight, after I got out of the bath, I wasn't particularly overheated, yet I nearly puked and passed out when I tried to walk around my kitchen. Right now, I'm shaky and can barely spell what I'm typing. I've hit the backspace button almost once every word I've typed.

So, the prognosis for me is another migraine-doctor appointment on Monday or Tuesday (I hope) where, I hope, we can settle on a different, yet equally effective, medication.

Otherwise, I've got a dilemma. I must choose between having migraines or having dangerously low blood pressure.

Deeeelightful. I just loooooove my body. Meh.

I'm still woozy.

Here's hoping for a perkier entry next time. Sorry, guys!

Monday, April 28, 2008

[My Life in a Nutshell?]

Dr. Cadle gave me the following prompt: Completely off the subject, you've been tagged for a meme. Why? Because we all need more writing fun right now. See Can your sum up your life in just six words? (a meme) to see how, then as a part of your post, tag at least six others.

Writes, sings, paints, and lives grace.

Translation: I live in a world of creative expression and the yearning to convey the beauty of the grace I've been given that I could never earn or be worthy of. Yeah. It blows me away.

Did you read this? Then--haha!--tag, you're it! Leave a comment with the link when you've done it... I want to read. *snicker*

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[When I Am Weak, THEN I Am Strong]

Monday I did okay. I woke up, made some coffee, had some quiet time, and the rest of the day I held out against my addiction and even ended the day in good spirits. Yesterday, though, I woke up late and didn't have any time to "spare" for God to start out my day, and by five, I'd fallen into old habits. Today, I got up, made some coffee, had my quiet time, and while the temptation has nagged me all evening, I've been able to say no and find effective distractions.

If I had any doubts about whose willpower gives me the strength to face each day, they're gone now. Without my allowing God to be my strength, I have no willpower of my own.

II Corinthians 12:7b-10 (TNIV): Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Pet temptations remain present in my life. My migraines show no sign of fading. The same loneliness that plagued me at 12 years old still plagues me 12 years later. All my prayers have received the same answer:

Child, I know your pain better than you know it yourself. I cry harder than you do when your tears fall. You're my daughter; I take delight in you. You must trust me, though; this pain and trial remains for a reason. I love you too much to take away that which will shape you into the creation I mean you to be. A day will come when you will see My purpose; you will understand that your suffering has brought you nearer to Me. It is only when your strength fades and you allow Me to move in you that you can grow. Until then, if you will acknowledge your helplessness and give Me your will and desire to do everything for yourself, your life will become one that glorifies Me, and I will fight for you. I have not forgotten you; I'm right there with you, shielding you from the Enemy's deadliest darts. I love you, my child, and I want you to know that no one fights harder for you than I do... including you.

It's amazing how many times I can learn this same lesson for the first time, over and over again. I continually strive to regain that control I surrendered, and I continually fall flat on my face in self-loathing and sin; continually, I surrender, and suddenly, though the pain remains, somehow, I'm able to withstand the onslaught.

When will I ever learn?

Monday, April 21, 2008

[She Sings!]

Download O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.wma

It's not often I record something and feel halfway okay with it. Feel free to listen. It's not my best nor my worst. :)

[Praise Him in the Morning]

My heart feels like it could burst with joy.  This morning, for the first time in well over a year, I woke early (intentionally) to spend some time in the Word, prayer, and praise.  I set out to spend a half hour focused on Him, and I ended up at somewhere around 45 minutes and could have gone on, except for the fact that I have to leave in an hour for class.  

My heart has been yearning for this submersion in His presence, and somewhere along the way, I'd lost sight of that.  This morning, listening to and singing this song (from the video below), I knew His presence, and I cried.  Why did I listen to Satan's lies?  How did I allow myself to be sidetracked by what will never really matter?  School is great and all, and it will help me make my way in the world, but ultimately, all joy stems from my identity in Christ!  All peace is found in Him, and one day, whatever degree I've earned on this earth will mean nothing, but all my life spent in devotion to my King will fill my heart with joy as I stand at His feet and sing praise before His throne.  No greater joy will I ever know than this; no greater joy could I know and survive to tell the tale.  This is my heart's desire!

Monday, April 14, 2008

[Farewell to Innocence]

I realize I've not written in quite a while, and that's rather shameful of me. I've either been on the run or trying to beat a cold for the past month, so writing has not been a priority. Even now, I'd rather not, but I feel the need.

Those of you who have known me for some time will probably realize the significance of this day. Fifteen years ago today, my parents walked into my third grade classroom, whispering with my teacher, Mrs. Porter. Mom cupped her hand over her mouth and Dad looked unusually teary-eyed. Somehow, I knew the news could not be good. It wasn't. Just after 12:30 that day, my mom and their only daughter breathed her last as they held her hand.

Today is my black day. Today, I cancelled my class (entirely honestly due to a worsening migraine), and I imagine I will stay home tonight and simply email my paper to my professor. I don't want to try to be social today. I've already burst into tears once, and I would be very surprised if it didn't happen again, and when it does, I don't want to cry in front of anyone.

She was only two years older than I am now--she was 26. Her body was worn out.

I can't really articulate the way I feel today without something I say being potentially misconstrued, and I don't want to have to explain myself. Just know that while I rejoice for her peace and presence with the Lord (there's no place better to be), the fact that I missed getting to know her better than a flighty nine-year-old can know her mother will always break my heart. I miss her, and I miss that I didn't get to know her.

Fifteen years ago, I grew up in a split second. Afterward, I tried hard to make up for it by holding on to fantasy as long as I could (I still cling to it to this day), but it couldn't change the fact that my innocence left me that day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

[It's Here!]

It's here, two weeks ahead of schedule! Spring! The forecast for the next 10 days (on weather.com, and in the Ozarks, therefore prone to change at a moment's notice) lists an average of 55 degrees every day! The coldest high will be 50, and that's tomorrow.

So, everyone, it's official. Pull out those lightweight jackets, short sleeves, capri pants, sunscreens, umbrellas, and Claritin prescriptions, because Spring has sprung!

In other news, I saw my Sassy this weekend, and I just want to kill that groundhog that bit her. Her little side is punctured with red wounds, and while she's feeling fine enough to run and play a little, she's visibly slowed down due to the pain. I tell you, I'll never celebrate February 2nd again. Grrrr. No one messes with my baby! She's too old to deal with that anymore. More prayers would be appreciated... we're trying to fend off infection at this point.

Ooh, and April 8, I have a ticket to the Skillet/Thousand Foot Krutch/Decypher Down concert. Whoo-hoo! Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 07, 2008

[Sweet, Sweet Progress!]


My weight, as of mid-January: 135.5 pounds. (Thanks, doctor's office, for these exact figures)

My weight, as of 11:00 this morning: 129.5 pounds.

Boo-yah!!!!!!!!!! Size 9 jeans, here I come!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

[Weekend Update]

I don't know if it was going shopping, if it was shopping with my mom, or if that dull throbbing I felt Friday morning upon waking was doomed no matter what to develop into one of my rarer full-blown-not-even-an-overdose-of-codeine-would-cut-it-type migraines, but by the time my parents dropped me off at my door, I was unfairly curt to them and the tears were already welling up in my eyes unbidden.  

Shopping with my mom, bless her heart, becomes a stressful ordeal every time.  On the one hand, I love that she's so eager to buy me some clothes--goodness knows, I'm usually too cheap to buy any outside of necessity--but she also has to approve the clothes.  Now that I'm "grown-upish" and all, it's not the style that we clash on.  No, it's the fact that while she's lost weight, I've gained, and she thinks it her God-given duty to both remind and nag me about it with every item I squeeze into.  

Anyway, in spite of my best intentions, I didn't get a single paper graded on Friday.  I didn't move from my bed the rest of the day.  

The rest of the weekend was a bit more of a success--I finished all the papers as of two hours ago, for one thing.  I joined my co-workers at Nakato Japanese Steakhouse for GA Sushi Night--and felt confirmed in my lifelong suspicion that I would love sushi if I ever got to try it.  Of course, I'm quite a fan of non-spicy exotic foods.  I mean, that's just me.  

My Sassy got into a fight with a groundhog yesterday morning--my 14-year-old Sassy got into it with a groundhog equal her weight and size.  She's alive, and I think she'll be alright, but it bit the heck out of her ribcage, and she's hurting a bit.  If you think of it, say a little prayer for her.  She's a tough old broad, but I really hate that she's hurting.  

We had a bee-yew-tee-full three days of spring weather.  It's still quite lovely at the moment, but within the next few hours, a winter storm system will be moving into the area--a system with the potential to set new snowfall records.  Yippee.  While the notion of getting a day or two out of classes is always appealing to me, I'm ready for the weather we had today.  I had the door open, the heat off, and the soothing smell of warm, fresh air lingering around the apartment.  I fear the love for cold weather that developed in me in Kirksville has died after two winters back home.  It's just not the same kind of cold.  

I missed church this morning.  That makes me sad.  However, I knew that I needed more sleep, and that, without it, I would never get enough done today.  Still... sigh.  I needed that time of refocus.  It's been a spiritually draining weekend for me, with a lot of old temptations plaguing me.  

Well, dear friends, I'm off to fight the nightly battle with insomnia in hopes that I'll fall asleep before three in the morning.  Good night, my loves!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

[Damn Migraines]

Damn them, damn them, damn them!!!!!!!

But quietly, please... the noise makes them worse.

The irony of my migraine today is that sleep is the cure, but the pain won't let me sleep.  It's a vicious circle.  I could take Midrin, but I think the headache I have is a rebounder from taking it too much this week.  Meh.  

Whine, whine, whine.  Moan, moan, moan.  Gripe, gripe, gripe.  I think I'm getting on my own nerves.

BE GONE, headaches, be gone!

Friday, February 29, 2008

[Unless He's a Matchless Match]


Hodel:
Well, somebody has to arrange the matches,
Young people can't decide these things themselves.

Chava:
She might bring someone wonderful----

Hodel:
Someone interesting----

Chava:
And well off----

Hodel:
And important---

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match

Chava:
Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
I'll bring the veil,
You bring the groom,
Slender and pale.
Bring me a ring for I'm longing to be,
The envy of all I see.

Hodel:
For Papa,
Make him a scholar.

Chava:
For mama,
Make him rich as a king.

Chava and Hodel:
For me, well,
I wouldn't holler
If he were as handsome as anything.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch,
Night after night in the dark I'm alone
So find me match,
Of my own.

(spoken)

Tzeitel:
Since when are you in a match, Chava? I thought you had your eye on your books.

(Hodel chuckles)

Tzeitel con't:
And you have your eye on the Rabbi's son.

Hodel:
Well, why not?
We have only one Rabbi and he has only one son.
Why shouldn't I want the best?

Tzeitel:
Because you're a girl from a poor family.
So whatever Yenta brings, you'll take, right?
Of course right!

(throws scarf over her head, imitating Yenta)
(singing)

Hodel, oh Hodel,
Have I made a match for you!
He's handsome, he's young!
Alright, he's 62.
But he's a nice man, a good catch, true?
True.

I promise you'll be happy,
And even if you're not,
There's more to life than that---
Don't ask me what.

Chava, I found him.
Won't you be a lucky bride!
He's handsome, he's tall,
That is from side to side.
But he's a nice man, a good catch, right?
Right.

You heard he has a temper.
He'll beat you every night,
But only when he's sober,
So you'll alright.

Did you think you'd get a prince?
Well I do the best I can.
With no dowry, no money, no family background
Be glad you got a man!

Chava:
Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
You know that I'm
Still very young.
Please, take your time.

Hodel:
Up to this minute,
I misunderstood
That I could get stuck for good.

Chava and Hodel:
Dear Yenta,
See that he's gentle
Remember,
You were also a bride.
It's not that
I'm sentimental

Chava and Hodel and Tzeitel:
It's just that I'm terrified!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Plan me no plans
I'm in no rush
Maybe I've learned
Playing with matches
A girl can get burned
So,
Bring me no ring
Groom me no groom
Find me no find
Catch me no catch
Unless he's a matchless match.

Monday, February 25, 2008

[Oy with the poodles already!]

Finally!  A break in the clouds!  After about two months of a spinning head, and about two weeks of it pounding, I'm once again able to form reasonably coherent thoughts (for me), and the head no longer feels on the verge of KA-POW!  I can be funny again (again... speaking in relative terms).  I still feel a dull ache, and at certain times of the day, the noggin feels a little spinny, but hey, that's normal for me.  

I really need to clean my apartment.  Maybe this weekend I'll have enough grading accomplished to focus on a massive organization overhaul.  Yes, that's right, the clutter has reached proportions that drives even me crazy.  But I still have much to do before said mission. 

My dad turned 70 today.  That kind of scares me.  

My hair is getting long again.  I can't find my tape measure, but I'm pretty sure it's close to 10 inches in pigtails... which means Locks of Love is around the bend.  As soon as I can chop it and still have some left over (as opposed to two years ago), it's coming off.  I love it long, but it requires more upkeep than I have time/energy for these days.  

I just choked on soda... again.  That's twice today.  I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.

Thus ends another post of pointless ramblings.  I hope you enjoyed your read.  Please keep your hands inside the vehicle and remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.  Please exit to your right, leave your comment cards in the link, and place all trash in the proper receptacle.  Thank you for sitting with Niki's site today.  We know you have the choice of thousands of blogs, and we thank you for choosing us today.  When the seatbelt sign goes off, you may collect your belongings and leave.  Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[Off to a Good Start Already]

It's already shaping up to be a splendid day.  While walking out of my bathroom, post-shower, to fetch an item of clothing I wanted to wear, my feet rapidly slid out from underneath me, and I found myself flat on my back.  Every extra pound I've gained in the past year went into that thud, and I'm glad I'm still up and around.

But ugh, have I ever got a headache!  I had one to begin with when I woke up... the fall just completed the process.  

The sad part is that I haven't even set foot on the ice yet.  Oh, boy.

[I'm Where I'm Meant to Be]

I've fallen back in love with music.  So many songs I've come across recently really verbalize the struggles I detect in my life and the lives of those around me, and it's all filling my heart with, in the words of Anne Shirley, "that queer ache."  I can't bear the silence anymore... and it's odd, since for about six months or so, noise drove me nutso.  I guess I have so much going through my head that focusing on another's words, I don't have to have my mind and heart torn a thousand directions at once.

In spite of all my self-doubt and paranoia, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.  In church, for example, it seems like every week the sermon or Bible study touches on the very things plaguing my life.  The friends I'm making are amazing.  This week, for the first time in weeks, I've had a couple of days when I haven't given in to the lies.  Because of my friends' prayers, I've been able to silence the voices trying to lead me down the wrong path.  God really has a plan for my existence, and I just hope that someday I'll learn to shut up and wait on His timing instead of giving in to my own impatience.  Sigh.  It's just harder than it sounds, right?  

I've had the hardest time making myself focus on what I need to do.  I have so many things on my "to-do" list that, well, it's like when my apartment is in such a state of chaos when I go to clean it and instead just panic because I don't know where to begin.  Frustrating.  

Tomorrow is Singles' Awareness Day (since I'm writing this well after midnight), or more commonly known as Valentine's Day.  I'm really having a hard time with it this year.  Maybe it's my age, maybe it's the recent plunge in my self-esteem, or maybe it's just me being ridiculous.  I don't really know.  I just know that it's getting old.  I just know that I dread the cultural submersion into hearts, flowers, chocolates, hand-holding, and lovey-dovey couples when I'm going home to an empty apartment.  I don't need a significant other to establish my identity--not at all.  I'm just ready for a break in the 24-year streak... a brief one, even.  Then again, as the cliche goes, be careful what I wish for, right?  It could very well come back and bite me in the arse.  

During my rational moments, such as this one, I can remember that He knows better than I do what is right and good for my life.  I really do realize this.  Blame the insanity on hormones and too many romantic movies on television this week... month... year...  

Well, I need to head to campus a little early tomorrow to print stuff off and make copies, so I probably should stop procrastinating on sleep.  My head feels like it's about to spontaneously combust, anyway.  It's been a hardcore migraine week, so I should probably stop egging them on.  Good night, my lovelies!  Happy S.A.D.!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

[Progress! Tangible Progress! I Can't Believe It!]

Being good (health-wise) is finally paying off!  The jeans my mom bought me a week and a half ago, the ones that I could barely squeeze around my waist, fit.  Comfortably.  With room to spare, even!  Granted, this is the looser pair of the three that I'm basing my opinion on, and I did wear them last week, but only as long as I was in public.  Then, it was jammies so I could breathe.

But this week, they fit.  And I can tell my hips are slimming down looking in the mirror.  

This is really exciting for me, because it's the first time in a long while that, outside of random weight fluctuations, I've actually tried to lose weight and have begun to succeed--and this is (warning!) that time of month for me, when I usually bloat up about five to ten pounds heavier. 

I feel encouraged to keep plugging away.  My energy level is up, in spite of the lousy night of sleep I got last night and the sleepiness that's hung over my head all day.

I'm planning to stop by Walgreens on the way home and pick up a multivitamin that adds in the antioxidants so I can try a little harder to fend off all these colds floating around campus.  Plus, I'm hoping that they help kick my energy level up another notch, because I'm quite weary (no pun intended) of being sleepy for all but an hour of the day.  

Even my fingernails look healthier.  Seriously.  Last week, I noticed that the edges were starting to look unusually yellow.  I started eating more salads last week (spinach please... no lettuce for me!) with lots of fruit (mandarin oranges, blackberries, etc.), mushrooms, garlic seasoning, parmesan cheese, and raspberry viniagrette, and a smaller entree, and I can tell a difference already.  I have only one nail left sporting the yellow edge; the rest are clear and even less flimsy!  

I guess it's just hard to really believe that eating better and exercising really does improve well-being until I actually see it happen.  I can know it intellectually without actually acknowledging its veracity.  Maybe I should take Jesus' rebuke of Thomas a little more personally.  

But oh, those damn cramps and mood swings!  They never fail to bring a rain cloud to an otherwise cheery realization.  Ah, well... it is what it is.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

[Confessions: Juvenile Dreams]

I've always wanted to get in a food fight.  I think, if ever I get to buy a house with a yard, I'll break the backyard in with a food fight party.  You're invited!

Sometimes, I know I'll never fully grow up.  :)

...and I'm okay with that.  

Thursday, January 31, 2008

[Nap, Please!]

Migraines are evil... evil, I tell you!

Once again, I've graded next to no papers.  I'd like to, but I can't think through haze.  I guess I'll let class go a little early and go home to see if a nap will fix what ails me.  Hopefully so, because I really wanted to have all the papers commented on by tomorrow.  

Crap.  Stupid head.  No mercy, I tell you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

[16 Days to Singles' Awareness Day 2008!]

Looks like another anti-V-Day for me.  Oh, well... I think I'd miss making fun of it if I weren't single.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

[Brace Yourselves - It's a Doozy]

Against my better judgment (because I have something due tomorrow morning at 9:00, and I've not even begun it), I'm making a post.  Frankly (I'm warning you ahead of time), I've been feeling the cramps and it's time for a little emotional diarrhea.  My apologies to the easily nauseated and traumatized amongst you for my choice of words.  That's just me.

I guess I'll start at the beginning.  Break was nice... to a point.  Actually, it was quite lovely not doing any homework for a month and soaking up a few rays.  I didn't even sunburn, and Lord knows that's quite an accomplishment!  In that respect, Hawaii was amazing.

However, an increased awareness of suffering in the world also broke my heart.  Never before, when I'd visited the islands, had I seen so much homelessness and pollution.  Everywhere I went, I saw scruffy-looking men and women pushing shopping carts, begging for bus fare.  In fact, even when we went to I'olani Palace and walked the grounds, I saw people sleeping on the park benches.  In the midst of lush foliage and majestic architecture, all I could see was the abuse commercialism has brought to the islands.  As I walked down the canal, I spied signs warning people to stay out of the water due to its high levels of contamination.  I spotted piles of trash, including shopping carts and coat hangers, snagged on the rocks, and water that had once flowed crystal clear now possessed a thick, murky brown.  Halfway through my vacation, my delight tranfigured into contant heartache and nausea.  I could see that, on O'ahu anyway, we had destroyed acres of lush natural beauty, all in the name of economy and opportunities that many never actually have gotten to enjoy.  

Furthermore, I spent three weeks in a tiny room with my parents.  These two people, bless their hearts, have the best of intentions--always.  But the truth is, I cannot spend more than a week at home without losing five years of progress in overcoming miles of low self-esteem.  Before break, I knew I was gaining a little weight, but I could still look in the mirror and appreciate the Lord's master touch in creating me, flaws and all.  I even felt pretty.  A month later, every time I look in the mirror, I only see fat, dark circles under my eyes, a droopy eyelid, and confusion in my eyes.  I've spent, in the past few days, a good bit of time in prayer, trying to regain my sense of self-worth through His eyes, and I've made progress, but even last night, I spent about an hour bawling my eyes out, asking Him what could be so wrong with me that I only get attention from the wrong kinds of guys, and how many more times would I have to experience crushes and falling hard for guys who will never notice me--who will unknowingly break my heart, shattering it harder and in more scattered pieces with each break--before I will so much as go out on a date--just one--with a guy with whom there would be sincere mutual interest.  It hurts.  It hurts worse every time, and the last time, it took me almost a year before I could look at his name or see a picture of him without having to blink back tears.  I just don't know how many more times I can stand this.  I can't help falling--I wish I could.  Lord knows how I've tried to build up those walls.  

I know God is good, and I know, because I trust Him, that He has a purpose for this kind of pain and ongoing cycle of unrequited love/crushes.  Please don't mistake me there.  But the pain is real, and temptations grow constantly, especially when my self-esteem plummets.  I'm worn out from going around in circles like this.  

Furthermore (yes, there is more), I just don't feel like I can confide in my parents.  I know, very teenagery.  But honestly, sometimes it's like playing with dynamite.  Last night, for example, when I told my mom that our church is moving further north in Springfield (to a less safe part of town), she spent five minutes trying to talk me into going elsewhere.  I finally cut her off and told her that I'm not leaving my church home just because it's moving to a poorer section of town and that I can't live my life like that.  But she's so caught up in trying to protect me (and thus making me worry about her worrying too much) that I feel like I can't take a step forward without her having a heart attack for fretting.  I can't keep doing that!  I'm an adult now (yes, I finally admit it), and I have to live my own life.  Only problem is, my mom is who she is, and if you know her, well, you'll understand my dilemma.  Anyway, I'll do what I mean to do, but not without a great deal of trepidation, self-doubting, and just plain losing my mind.  

Even worse, when I'm in this kind of state, I have bad habit of mentally laying out all my disappointments (past, present, and yes, future) and studying them entirely too closely.  More than just singleness, poor self-esteem, and feeling out of the loop, lately I've been feeling a little jealous of those who have or will have children someday.  While I've always known that, if I get married, I'll adopt, I've also known that having children myself can never be an option.  Besides my own physical danger (misshapen uterus, the sac of spinal fluid located near the base of my spine), there is a one-in-two chance of my passing on the Nager Syndrome.  While I was blessed enough to have probably the mildest case in, well, history, if I had a child and passed this on to him or her, that child may not be so lucky.  I don't want to bring that kind of pain to a child, knowing my own experiences, when I know that risk is there.  Really, I accepted that reality when I was still a little girl; all the same, it feels like yet another thing of which I'll be left out.  That, too, hurts.

Do you see why I've been holding back in my blog entries lately?  I needed the presence of mind to be able to formulate my words coherently in the midst of all these thoughts racing through my brain.  I've just got a lot of confusion right now, and I'm battling with those voices that keep telling me I'm no good and I can't do what I need to do.  

Friends, I need prayer and affirmation.  I just got to the place where I'm not sincerely depressed, but I'm still borderline at times.  I'm really overwhelmed, emotionally and spiritually.  Daily, I'm battling temptations I've not had to really deal with since I was about 13 years old.   I feel like I'm under constant attack.  Pray, pleased, that I'll remember:

"We are pressed, but not crushed; persecuted, not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; we are blessed beyond the curse, for His promise will endure, and His joy's gonna be my strength.  Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes with the morning!"

Friday, January 25, 2008

[Attempting to Regrasp My Sanity]

I think my two most recent posts have set new records for lack of intelligence.  It's astounding, really.  I've just been a bit out of it with my antibiotics this week and last week, and while I have things to talk about, articulating them does not happen with ideal smoothness.  However, five minutes ago, I took my last antibiotic (finally!), so hopefully, I'll start making sense soon.

In fact, I think this evening or tomorrow morning might be a good time to talk about the vacation and why, if and when I go back to Hawai'i, it won't be to O'ahu.  

In the meantime, however, I have a class to teach and an hour in the rec center this afternoon.  Mom bought me some new jeans, and while one pair is pretty stinkin' comfortable, the other two pair (that I'm keeping) are a bit snug yet.  I will lose some of this weight however (I'm determined!), and I think that within the next 5-10 pounds off, they'll fit beautifully.  The one pair I'm not keeping, however, will not fit me in any facet of my adulthood.  I can't even get the buttons to meet, much less fasten.  I don't think I would've been able to fit in them at all after the age of 10, actually.  I know my limits--I will never be a size five (they're labeled 11, but I know better); I have hips and a butt when I'm at my ideal weight.  

Ah, well.  To school, to school.  

Thursday, January 24, 2008

[O...kay...]

The GA office is insane.  I don't think there's any more to add to that statement... 

"Don't let solid logic dissuade you from something you know is true."  There.  That sums it up.

For once in my life, I think I'm normal (by comparison).   

But it's amusing, if traumatizing at times.

When did I get so boring?  Seriously.  I have nothing useful to say... I just want to write.  The only problem is that I have nothing to say.  Yeah.  Okay.  That's all I've got.

Thank you for your time.

[/end weirdness]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

[Yeah, don't ask.]

My sinus infection is nearly gone, but this nagging cough is hanging around like a persistent gnat that I just can't swat.  

I started exercising yesterday, again.  My arms, pecs, and butt hurt tonight.  A lot.  Yes, I'm whining.  Deal with it.  It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to, whine if want to, whine if I want to.  You would whine too if your muscles hurt you. (Ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, ba!)

I'm still having a hard time getting back into the groove of things.  Maybe I'm just lazy... or maybe it's the drugs (antibiotics, natch).  I guess I'll know after Friday, when I finish them up.  

Well, this was officially a pointless post.  Where, oh where has my creativity gone?

Monday, January 14, 2008

[Be smart--don't waste the next five minutes of your life and read this entry]

Classes are back in action and... I have no opinion yet.  I'll let you know, perhaps, when I'm not so drugged up on cold meds.  

I haven't posted in a little while because I haven't had anything I wanted to discuss that I felt comfortable sharing with the cyber world (and my buds).  That, my friends, doesn't happen very often.  Usually, I'm pretty open with my struggles because I believe in vulnerability, but with my current struggles, things could easily be taken incorrectly.  That's hard for me.  

One thing I do want to express is frustration with men.  Yup, bitter single gal here.  Why is it, I ask, that I suddenly find myself the target of many come-ons (seriously, not bragging here... this is not the type of attention I want) from all the wrong guys (strangers, creepy old guys, the guys only interested in my, um, curves...)?  And why is it that, to my knowledge anyway, the right guys only see me as a sister-figure?  Seriously.  

I know it sounds completely junior-highish.  It feels that way too.   I just, argh.  Okay, so in Hawaii, I got a lot of male attention (for me, that is).  But it was pretty clear they weren't interested in me, per se, so much as a certain satisfaction.  Yes, I'm trying to be delicate here.  But the guys I would consider dating (guys I go to church with or school with that have the same faith) just keep on walking.  I think my signals have gotten crossed.  Or maybe I'm just being silly.

If you read this, you're a brave soul.  The inner-workings of Niki on cold medicines and hormonal insanity are not a pretty or sensible sight.  Yeah... Anyway, I spit some words out, so I think I've gotten a little off my chest.  

Another day of school awaits!  G'night!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

[Another Year Has Come and Gone, and So Much Changed]

It's time for my annual New Year's Eve end-of-the-year reflection.  While most of you have already seen the ball drop, I still have another 2 and a half hours left before chaos erupts in the streets.

It's been a crazy ride.  This year, for the first time, I:
  • Worked night shifts--this only lasted a month, and frankly, I'm okay with that.  I like sleeping at night, it seems.
  • Hiked up a mountain--this morning, in fact.  Dad and I trekked up Diamond Head Crater to Le-ahi Summit, 560 feet above the crater floor--and let me tell you, it felt further.  We climbed three sets of stairs, each of at least 74, 99, and 54 steps.  And I'm more afraid of heights than I used to be, it seems.  Hehe.  I hugged the post the whole time I stood on the summit, mostly to keep the wind from blowing me off.  Oh, and I hate spiral staircases.  Just so you know.  But what a view!
  • I became a teacher, and I never thought I would.  God has a way of leading me down paths I never planned on.
  • I applied to, was accepted to, and attended grad school.  This, too, was not planned.
  • I had two drinks in one night.  And no, I don't plan to top that record.  That's my absolute limit.  This occurred at the luau last Friday night... and yes, I had a significant migraine the next day.  But, oh, I do enjoy those pina coladas.
  • I lived alone--completely alone.  Still do, actually.
  • I made a 4.0 for the first time since high school.  All this, while taking 10 hours and teaching six.  I can't believe it either!  But, gah, it was exhausting!  Just look at all the posts from this previous semester for proof.  So, I think I may survive.
  • I wrote a coherent 15-page paper.  My standing record before was a 12 page paper, and I can pretty confidently state that it was probably fairly rambly.
  • I got sixteen spider bites in one weekend.  Yes, that one bit--I mean, sucked--I mean, oh, I give up!  I can't really avoid a pun on this one.
  • I made a pumpkin pie... and it made me sick.  Ha.  I think it was the eggs, though... they tend to upset my stomach if they're not completely baked into the food.  
  • I faced real, sincere loneliness for an extended period of time,  I think it was actually November before I really got over it and started to make good friends with people.  I've always struggled with loneliness, but that was truly the pits.  
  • I spent approximately half of the year sick, whether sick to the point of going to the ER (in March) or fighting one sinus infection after another (February to April, and October to, well, now).  Yes, I'm in Hawaii, and I'm still going through about a half of a box of Kleenex every day.  I can't win. :)
  • Someone I know had a baby on my birthday (my cousin Chrystal, who is 2 and a half weeks younger than me, had a baby girl this year).  
  • I finally found my intended career--the one for which I feel entirely suited.  Amazing.
  • I stayed up for over 24 hours... more than once within a week.  Yeah.  Intense.
Crazy.

By the way, a Hawaii-trip post (all major moments to date) is forthcoming... but not tonight.  I need Midol now more than anything else.  Owie.