Tag Archives: nonfiction

[Don’t] Cry

Don-t-cry-animals-2967816-425-349It was, and at times still is, embarrassing for me to express something I’m passionate about without tears breaking into the corners of my eyes and my nose stuffing up. Usually the person I’m talking to shifts uncomfortably, awaiting the inevitable waterworks. When I feel this happening, I end my statements early and dispassionately to try and ebb the flow of tears as well as offer the other person an out to the conversation, cursing my proclivity to get teary-eyed when I feel a strong emotion. But that’s usually about the extent of it; I rarely actually end up crying.

In childhood, crying came pretty easily to me. If I felt angry, sad, or even incredibly happy, tears would brim in my eyes, and I’d eventually dissolve into a child-sized puddle. I cried in class frequently, especially when I felt like I was being attacked or made fun of. Classmates in elementary school knew when I was emotional because I’d put my head down on my desk.

“She’s crying again.”

Their whispers didn’t help me to stop crying, but they taught me to contain my tears to the privacy of my home. So I traded in my tears for curse words, laying into anyone who hurt my feelings with a slew of profanities that I didn’t even fully understand. I didn’t deal with the pains I felt or find a healthier way of handling my emotions, but I was able to at least get past the occasional bully. In my mind I looked tough, but to your everyday schoolyard bully, I was probably just wearing a tearstained bullseye.

Once middle school came, I decided to give myself an internal makeover. I’d shut my mouth and my tear-ducts and fade into the background to the best of my ability. When my seventh grade English teacher asked us to describe everyone in the class using three adjectives, I (internally) celebrated when almost all of mine were “smart, quiet, and shy.”

This worked for awhile. I didn’t cry in school for years. I had a new reputation that I was pleased with and plenty of new friends that didn’t know me as the blubbering child from my elementary school days. I felt strong and confident, which was only affirmed when I met my first boyfriend.

Someone was interested in me and had no idea of the crybaby I used to be. I come from a family where my parents and many of my aunts and uncles were high school sweethearts, so I thought this relationship was it for me. I assumed we’d get married, but when it didn’t work out, it destroyed me. I no longer saw myself as confident; instead I was made up of all the faults and flaws that made my boyfriend cheat on and eventually leave me.

I dragged my feet through the hallways each day, shoulders slumped and eyes glossed over with a perpetual sheen of tears. I became the version of myself that I abhorred, the one I worked so hard to destroy. And this time, the bullies were more clever than the boys who used to pretend to have crushes on me. They nicknamed me Sad Girl.

“Here comes Sad Girl.”

“Why so sad, Sad Girl?”

“I fucked Sad Girl.” (My ex-boyfriend was the best.)

Each whisper stung, lowering my shoulders until they were practically level with my knees. My friends didn’t know how to handle me in this state, so they left, at least until I could wipe my eyes and stand up without a sniffle. I lost what I believed to be my soulmate as well as my best friends.

When you feel desperately lonely, there’s little to do that can snap you out of that state. It begs to be indulged, feeding off your misery and growing like a black hole. And when it consumes you completely, turning back feels impossible and exhausting.

The best (and worst) part was that I rarely cried during my time as Sad Girl. Although I felt miserable about the breakup as well as my horrible friend situations, I didn’t want to make the same mistake that I had in elementary school—I didn’t want my reputation tainted by tears. There was no doubt that I was sad, but I at least waited until I was home to unleash the waterworks.

Eventually I was able to shake the weepies over the relationship. I changed my MySpace name to Sad Girl to show my ex I wasn’t affected by his pet name for me, and people eventually stopped calling me it. I took it as another lesson, though. My emotions once again became a point to laugh over and were something for me to be ashamed of. So I learned to bottle them up and plaster a smile on my face, even—and especially—when it hurt to do so.

That brings me to today’s Nicole. Not Sad Girl, not the little girl that easily bursts into tears, but the adult woman who finds it impossibly difficult to cry. The one who still deals with bouts of depression, but rather than seeking out an outlet for them, pushes them down until they come rushing out in the form of periodic breakdowns. The one who feels like a burden to the few people she chooses to confide in, and who instead opts to unload all her thoughts and feelings onto her boyfriend to save her friends the trouble. The one who hasn’t felt comfortable telling her parents about her secrets and fears since her mom asked her why she’d want to tell a stranger her thoughts in therapy and since her dad told her to just stop being sad.

Lately my eyes yearn for the release of tears, but my mind shuts the idea down almost immediately. I feel them build up behind my eyelids, tingling and threatening to cascade down my cheeks. Don’t cry, Sad Girl. Don’t you dare cry.

Sometimes crying can be so helpful. I remember crying until my throat was raw, screaming into pillows, and dissolving into cry-hiccups. And every time I had one of those moments, although intense, the weight lifted from my chest and shoulders. My mind felt clear. I was reinvigorated with hope and confidence. Sometimes you need to completely breakdown to be able to rebuild.

After being made fun of and insulted for expressing anything other than happiness and contentment, I struggle to connect to the long forgotten Sad Girl of my past. So what do you do when your mind won’t let you fully breakdown anymore? Do you pinch yourself until you burst into tears, or should you just think of all the negative things people have ever said to you until you feel inspired to cry?

What I know with utmost certainty is that crying would help alleviate a lot of the stress I feel lately. My job is horrible and only seems to get worse every week; my friends are either too busy to hang out or have decided to exclude me from things altogether; and my family likes to refer to the recent goings on in our collective lives as “the curse.” And yet, I don’t cry.

There’s certainly times where I shed a few tears, but my waterworks are dried up in comparison to how they used to be when they flowed freely. Maybe from crying too much in life, I’ve spent my life’s given amount of tears. Or maybe it’s time to finally start knocking down protective barriers that have been in place for so much of my life. And in doing so, I hope to finally have a healthier relationship with my emotions and whatever form they show themselves in.

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Nicole the Nuisance

My fourth grade field trip companion.

My fourth grade field trip companion.

A few weeks ago, I was telling my boyfriend about all the crap I did as a kid, and I realized two very important things. I was a horrible little ball of energized annoyance, and these stories are actually kind of hilarious.

So here’s one of my better tales involving an annoying child and a fire alarm. It’s short, but it’s also super cringeworthy and makes me hate myself a little bit. Enjoy…?

In fourth grade I came to the important realization that being annoying is adorable so therefore I should be the biggest pain in the ass because adults will love me and find me endearing. And what more could I really want at age nine? I forget where this came from, but I also think I concluded that being dirty and gross was really cute, too. Memories are burned in my mind of me standing in front of the bathroom mirror and messing up my bangs before returning to class only to be stared at like the grimy little gremlin I was. I didn’t mind that they stared—in fact, I reveled in it. I loved the attention and I loved getting it by being the dirty, weird kid. Being unpopular was my goal in elementary school, but that’s probably a different story for a different blog post/therapy session.

Fourth grade was the epitome of my “bad” days, to the point that I was under teacher supervision during every field trip. This came to be early on in the year after I drew a picture of a mean substitute and wrote “The Bitchy Witchy,” which of course the poor substitute found and delivered to my teacher. My 26 year old self aches for this sad old woman who was just trying to do her job, while nine year old Nicole sits in the corner maniacally laughing.

This story takes place at the planetarium, which is probably one of the coolest places for a nine year old to visit. We were standing in line to get into the theater and I was bored. Maybe I had ADD, or maybe I was nine and easily distracted. But whatever the reasoning, I walked over to the fire alarm and set off the alarm.

Now let me just clarify something. This wasn’t a situation where I schemed and planned to ruin everyone’s afternoon. I was never one of those kids that wanted to pull the fire alarm, and I frankly can’t pull a prank to save my life. I was bored and the idea of opening a little box that I saw everyday at school but never desired to touch suddenly became important. No, necessary. I had NO IDEA that just opening that clear plastic case would set the alarm off, though. I wasn’t even bad enough to purposely do this.

People shouted and started hurrying around, and I distinctly remember the panic in my teacher’s eyes. She looked around trying to pinpoint her student’s locations and not lose her job, only to see Nicole the nuisance standing next to the fire alarm looking guilty and terrified. She laughed. She. Laughed.

I still maintain that this teacher adored grubby little ol’ me and wanted me in her group because she liked me so much, and this situation is my biggest piece of evidence. Even when she was telling me that I was disgusting or annoying, she always did it with a smile. When I think about it now, it’s definitely a weird, negative relationship to have with a teacher, but it made for a fun school year at the very least and a slew of insecurities that I’m dealing with in my adulthood at the very most. BUT I DIGRESS…

From what I remember, no firefighters came to the location and I don’t think we even evacuated the planetarium. Soon after the chaos was resolved and someone closed the fire alarm case, we got to watch our starry show. As soon as the lights dimmed, I took out my Snoopy flashlight (the one I brought on all my field trips, along with all the other toys that I made sure to bring on any class outings). My teacher tsked, leaned in close to me, and whispered, “That’s cute, where’d you get that?”

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Hit & Run

8721bfb0156b93902261f7e663bfc952In the past three years, I’ve gotten really into cycling—I get such a rush from it and feel so liberated. Nothing wakes me up better than an hour long bike ride from Brooklyn into Manhattan in the morning, and nothing ends my work day on a more positive note than great music in my ears and the wind streaking through my helmet. Long tours are my favorite: Exploring new areas is a passion of mine, and getting to do so from my saddle only enhances the experience.

Yesterday I participated for the first time (and possibly the last) in the Tour de Staten Island with my riding buddy/shark pal, Angela. We were really bummed that we missed out on the ride last year and were so excited to start off the season with a 55-mile ride through a borough that we don’t really ever go to. Before this I’ve only briefly driven through Staten Island, but yesterday I had the opportunity to explore the developing Freshkills Park and the island’s many MANY hills. Yesterday I also got hit by a car for the first time.

Part of me knew this sort of thing was inevitable, but there was also a naive part of me that thought that it just wouldn’t happen to me. It makes sense, though. They never shut the roads down for these long tours because it’d be completely impractical, and drivers would probably riot through the streets and push us off our bikes anyway. Almost every cyclist I know in lower New York has been hit by a car, in either a minor or extreme way, or at least doored. I figured the culprit would either be some irresponsible cab or bus driver, but instead it was an older Eastern European woman.

I was riding along the road entering a park and heading to our 40-mile rest stop, the last one before we completed our final 15 miles. I felt great. I had just oiled up my gears and chain, my legs were feeling the familiar aches that I’ve come to love from riding a lot of miles in one day, and I was excited to rejuvenate with some fruit and Kind bars. It happened so suddenly, and I know everyone says that, but I didn’t understand just how quickly something could really happen. She was way too close to the line and if it wasn’t me, she would have hit someone else. There was no shoulder, just gravel, and I hit her car two or three times before crashing to the ground with my bike flipping over behind me. I braced myself for the fall, shielding my head/face, and dragged my bike with me to the side of the road in case the drivers behind us didn’t see the crash and kept going. The tears were immediate and I was surrounded by witnesses who were jogging or driving nearby. No one from the ride was close unfortunately except for another girl Angela and I were riding with, and I asked her to find a marshal and Angela at the rest stop. She said she didn’t really see what happened, another witness to just how quickly these sorts of things occur. People were trying to get me to calm my breathing, stop crying, and move my limbs to make sure I wasn’t seriously injured (Spoiler: I’m not, just a sprained wrist and lots of bruises). I was overwhelmed by the help while trying to contact my friend and find some familiarity for comfort. The woman who hit me got out of her car briefly then drove away. No one saw her license plate number or where she went. EMTs arrived shortly
after and I took my first ambulance ride to a nearby hospital.

Every time I tell someone what happened, they seem disappointed and dumbfounded when I tell them I didn’t get her plate number. That is one of the most annoying things that I’ve dealt with in the last 24 hours. When I’ve thought of possible scenarios where I could have gotten hit in the past, I always imagined that I’d chase the person down if necessary to make sure they stayed in the area. Now I’m just relieved that my instincts were to protect my face and head then drag myself to safety. Unfortunately there’s probably no chance that this woman will be found, but I hope she at least feels horrible for hitting someone and then leaving. I hope that guilt plagues her for the rest of her life.

I’m going to pick my bike up from the Transportation Alternatives office on Wednesday, pay the probably high price to get it fixed up, and continue to ride every day that I can. I’ll be more paranoid than I was before, but let’s face it—generally, I’m a pretty paranoid girl anyway. I won’t let this deter me and will continue to find my inspiration and happiness from the saddle of my Schwinn. I’ll just be hyper aware of my surroundings and risks that I’m taking while doing so now.

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Uncommon Courtesy

idiotSometimes you just need to rant about things. And lately I’ve been finding myself annoyed–and I mean really annoyed–by people on the subway who either have no concept of what personal space even begins to entail or just frankly don’t give a shit about people around them. This is due mostly to the fact that I rarely take the subway since I usually bike, but I’ve been sick for almost three months and didn’t want to prolong my illness(es) by jumping onto the saddle again too soon. So I’ve found myself commuting an hour to and from work among some of New York and Brooklyn’s finest specimens of egotists, and it’s turning me into a grumpy old woman.

I genuinely don’t think I’m being irrational or complaining too much when I list these things, mostly because I see other people who are annoyed along with me. Even though the majority of people are irritated that someone nearby is blasting Candy Crush or watching Rush Hour 2 at 8 a.m., no one wants to offend that person or risk telling off a crazy person. It’s completely understandable, too. Just last month a woman yelled at me and tried to instigate a fight with me on the subway because I tried to let people off the train rather than crowd the open door. It’s a silly story now, but in the moment it was both infuriating and terrifying.

To me, it seems like one of the rudest things in the world (I know–first world problems, blah blah blah. Get off my blog, you rotten kids!) is to have music or a movie playing without headphones on. This just makes no sense to me at all. What weird pleasure are you getting from subjecting everyone to your music? Even worse than those people are the ones who play insanely obnoxious cell phone games. You probably don’t have headphones in because you don’t want to exclusively listen to that crap, so I guess the logic is to bring others down with you at that point. It seems like a no-brainer to not burden others with what you’re doing. Hell, if I’m listening to music with headphones on I usually take them off to see if I can still hear the music then turn it down until I can’t just so I don’t annoy anyone. My friend Molly once asked a kid on the subway who was playing Candy Crush (or Farmville or one of the other games I have ten thousand pending requests for on Facebook) to turn his game down. He stared at her completely confounded that we even knew he was playing a game on his phone. He did not turn the volume off that day and probably never has since.

Another pain is people talking on cell phones in a quiet place where it’s usually assumed that a phone call would disrupt and annoy others. The other day I was on a Megabus with my boyfriend and we were both exhausted. We had slept like crap the whole weekend because the air mattress we used had it’s last round of life and deflated both nights, leaving us huddled on a hardwood floor. So we were passed out on the bus when the boy next to us decides that it’s prime time to call his parents and loudly update them on his life. For over an hour this kid chatted about his broken laptop and how his weekend in Philly went until we both finally looked at him and he quieted down, remembering that he wasn’t alone in his dorm room after all. Let me repeat: He got quieter. He never hung up the phone, though.

My last complaint is just a general people not understanding personal space and how they affect someone else. I can’t count how many times I’ve been sat on during my commute by people who see a very small amount of space left on a bench and somehow think they’re going to fit there. It blows my mind how desperate to sit down people can be that they’re willing to compromise their own comfort just to have half of their butt cheek on the corner of a subway seat. Half the time I end up getting out of my seat anyway because they’re either sitting on me or have made me immensely uncomfortable.

I couldn’t be more thrilled by the warming weather, and I hope that it lasts. Warm weather means riding my bike means rarely taking the subway anymore. And the less I’m on the subway, the happier and more content in life I am overall. For those poor perpetually commuting souls out there, you have my sincerest sympathy.

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Home for the Holidays…If I Have To

gingeyI’ve been hesitant to write this post for awhile now, mostly out of fear. And since it’s always on my mind as the topic I want to be writing about, it’s stopped me from really being able to write much else. Thus the recent lack of posts on my behalf. Then I remembered what my senior year Creative Nonfiction professor told me, and that kind of snapped me out of this. If you’re going to write creative nonfiction, then you have to commit to it. If you lie or embellish things, then your audience will notice it. And similarly, if you leave things out or try to write as a favor to others, then what is the point of writing? So here it goes.

 I wanted to talk about the holidays and how now, as a 25 year old, being home for the holidays with my family fucking sucks.

As I get older, the holidays become smaller and more personal. We come closer together, bonding over memories of those who are no longer with us and clinging to one another with an unspoken desperation. In a way, it’s great that my family finally deems us “kids” as ready to be part of the grownup conversation at the dinner table. But the grownup conversation usually differs drastically from my opinions. I have no problem discussing differing opinions — in fact, I love it — but my responses are always met with eye rolls that say, “Oh, she’s so young and naive! She’ll see one day.”

My entire family — cousins, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, probably the ghosts of family members that are floating through our houses during the holidays — are all registered as Proud Republicans while I’m the lone Democrat (newly registered Green party member actually, which depending on who you talk to in my family, might be a lot worse). I don’t have an issue with all conservatives necessarily, but I do have a problem with the racist, homophobic, close-minded ones that come to my kitchen and drink wine on the holidays. These aren’t the people I grew up; these aren’t the people I have an endless amount of love and respect for.

Except, they are.

Some are worse than others, but for the most part my family has started to embody the characteristics that I find most deplorable in the world. The types of topics that I harbor strong opinions about — women and gay rights, racism, a value behind traveling and coming out of your comfort zone, understanding the difference between journalism and creative writing — are things that my family not only just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me about, but they flat out refuse to even try. It’s frustrating and leads to me walking away from the dinner table once the conversation turns to the recent news of cops that “did the right thing because they’re cops and cops are right forever and that black man tried to do a bad thing probably maybe” with a little bit “hey, Obama sucks and here’s why I think so” sprinkled on top.

Maybe this is part of growing up. The parents that were invincible, highly intelligent superheroes are our peers now. I’ve gone through a significant amount of struggles that they can relate to, and more upsetting, ones that they can’t relate to at all. I understand that they weren’t all-knowing even if my child mind thought they were. Now I can relate to certain paths they took and that scares the absolute shit out of me.

My family isn’t wrong (ehhhhh…maybe a little actually) and they aren’t bad people — they are simply different from me. At some point in my life I drastically deviated away from the course my parents took, the same course that my brothers and cousins seem to be gliding along. I’m envious of friends who come from more liberal and open-minded families, and I’ve even begun a list of things I didn’t try until college (so far this list consists of hummus, Indian food, traveling outside of the United States, brown rice, and so many other weird things that even surprise me). But unfortunately this deviation leads to me feeling very alone during the holidays now, resorting to simple and gossipy conversation in the hopes that I’ll feel that camaraderie with my family members once again.

I don’t know what I hope to accomplish with this post, but part of me hopes that my parents never see it. Even though they already know that I don’t like their opinions and wish that they would step outside of their comfort zones more often, I feel like reading this might upset them. But again, I’m attempting to write for myself, not for anyone else. The holidays are no longer fun, exciting moments where I get a break from the stresses of real life and can hang out with my favorite people. It’s become a time where I feel completely ostracized from my family, even the ones I felt closest to throughout my life. It uncovers a fear that after 25 years of conversations and experiences together, they don’t actually really know me that well at all.

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CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS…EVERYBODY!

tumblr_m2wwpzTzh91qlk01uo1_1280Recently I have fallen down the slippery slope of cat-ladydom and am not entirely sure how I got here. Everything seemed to happen so quickly!

I’ve always loved and grew up around cats. And when I say love, I mean that I was crazy allergic to and hated them for a few years. These allergies followed me through high school and into college; it was so intense that I couldn’t be around a cat for more than an hour or so without sneezing. Fast forward to present day me showing off cat pictures from my phone to any fool I could trick into looking at my screen.

I recognize that at some point in the past few years having a cat has become a thing. I know tons of people who have cats and have been told by many others that they don’t understand why everyone, particularly in Brooklyn, seems to own one. After browsing pretty much any kind of site with pictures, it is guaranteed that an adorable picture of a kitten will wind up on your screen leaving your eyes flooded with tears.

Currently I am at a point in my life where I can honestly say that I prefer dogs to cats still. And yet I find myself missing my cat when separated from her for more than two days. I’m sure one day I will be the person with four dogs, but they’ll have to get along with all the cats I accumulate on the way.

During my senior year of college, I realized that being single sucked and screw boys, I wanted a furry friend to cuddle up with at night. It was a point where I pretty much needed something, ANYTHING to love me back, so that was when I decided I would get a pet.

However I didn’t buy a cat because I noticed that other people were. I ran through my options in a responsible way, and during that journey, came to a few realizations about the type of person I am based on my judgments over certain animals.

  • Bunnies poop far too frequently for me to want to really touch one. Seriously. I’ve watched little pellets falling out of them as they’re happily hopping around unaware that they’re even having bowel movements anymore.
  • Ferrets seemed perfect. They steal your keys (aww!), are a maybe a little bit stinky, but I wanted one. My roommates said no for some reason though and I since haven’t revisited the idea. YET.
  • Dogs. YES! PLEASE! But I was not able to exert that much effort into raising and caring for a pup while working 30 hours a week plus attending college full-time. Like I said before, one day…
  • Gerbils and hamsters…I honestly don’t fully understand why people own these animals. I think they’re cute, but really I don’t see the appeal of having them as pets. I wanted(/needed) something that loved me, dammit, and these little furballs mostly made me end up feeling bad for them stuck in their containers.ava

This left cats, which were animals I wanted to love but was instead forced into an allergy-induced hatred of for the past few years. Then I met my little Ava monster and the allergies haven’t bothered me since. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s the fact that she has long fur. After four years and it officially being my longest relationship with any other living thing to date, I call it a love based on fate.

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I Quit

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I’ve been talking about it for months, weeks, days and now I finally did it — I quit my job as an Administrative Coordinator and manager of Accounts Payable for a construction company. Cue applause, gasps of shock, and mutters about how I’ll be unemployed and am probably just a naive 20-something.

I quit without having a backup job. It’s not like I wasn’t trying to find one, but I couldn’t. It’s exhausting to work all day then try to search and apply for something new. By the time dinner is done, it’s close to 8 or 9 and at that point I just wanted to rest. And that’s on a day when I don’t have something planned after work. Maybe this should be a red flag that I should’ve stayed with safety and security, there were too many reasons that I needed to leave even without a job to go straight into.

There was this one manager at my job, the accounting manager whose assistant I was originally hired to be, who made my life hell for basically the entire time I worked there. This guy was in his mid-30s and definitely going through some sort of internal crises because he had it out for a friendly short girl ten years younger than him. About three months into my job, he thought I “stabbed in him in the back” because I told my boss I came to work late because I didn’t want to wait outside on the sidewalk to be let inside. My coworkers all consistently came late and no one trusted me enough to give me a key, so when they ran late I had to sit on the sidewalk at 8am. Or I had to sit with the mechanics next door who harassed and annoyed me. I realize it got him in trouble, but it didn’t even occur to me at the time to lie to my boss. What I did pissed this guy off so much that he held a grudge against me for the next year and a half.

After that point, he constantly berated me. One time he told me I looked like I was gaining weight, another time he told me I looked like I didn’t brush my hair. Often he yelled at me because I made simple mistakes for things I was never taught. He made me cry countless times. Still I stayed.

I stayed because I told my parents and family and they told me to be grateful I had a job. They told me that I was fortunate because not many people my age were able to move out and get a job right away. They were right; I don’t begrudge my parents anything. Their generation is used to working its ass off in any field just to make money while my generation wants to do what we love without an emphasis on status or material possession. Different times, different values.

And that was another thing that broke my heart — I wasn’t doing anything I cared about anymore. It’s not surprising that many liberal arts majors graduate and become administrative assistants because although we’re passionate about a specific subject, there’s not a lucrative work force for sociology, anthropology or English majors. It was so disheartening to see all the cover letters flow in after I gave my two weeks notice from other liberal arts students with well-crafted cover letters that spoke of a passion for administrative tasks. I felt differently though. I loved to write, I loved to edit. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 12 years old and a copy editor since I first geeked out over grammar studying for the SAT.

The final straw came for me when my grandfather was unexpectedly killed in a car accident. I got the call at 10pm on a Monday night and went home without giving it another thought. I told my boss I would be out for the rest of the week due to a family emergency. Upon my return, I received a card signed by my coworkers and was told I had to use my vacation time for my week off. The vacation time I wasn’t allowed to have for an entire year prior to this and that I was saving for various weekend trips throughout the year. In the end, everything worked out in my best interest, but I was angry and felt disrespected. So I planned when to use the rest of my vacation days and told myself I’d be out by no later than September.

I’ve since met incredible people who inspire me everyday to do what I’m passionate about, regardless of how much effort, commitment, and hard work it will undoubtedly be. I feel so clearheaded and optimistic about my decision. I’m going to find work that I love with people that I love to be around. The only coworker I liked at my old job told me that she didn’t invite a single one of our other coworkers to her wedding and to me that is outrageous — I don’t want to be in denial that the people I spend most of my time with aren’t a huge part of my life.

I’m ready and feeling good about what my future holds for me and I only see myself going up. I have a great support system behind me and I’m genuinely excited to see what comes next. Goodbye construction industry. I thought you’d have more funny, ridiculous stories for me to share, but instead you taught me how to value myself again.

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Moving and How it has Slowly Destroyed My Soul

moving-dayI’m moving tomorrow! Hooray! Moving is special and unique because it happens infrequently and it signifies an important yet necessary change in life. Unless you’re me, apparently. I guess I should write that I’m a semi-professional mover on my resume because in the two years that I’ve lived in Brooklyn, this is going to technically be my fifth time moving.

The first time was the most necessary. It was the essential move from my parent’s home on Long Island to live with some friends in Brooklyn. It was perfect and stressful and horrible. My parents love me. A lot. And of course they’re two of the most important people in my life, coupled with my goofy younger brothers. But their love is strong, like an iron shackle hanging onto their only daughter/oldest child. I only moved from Long Island — less distance than when I was in college — maybe an hour from my hometown. The day I moved, my mom cried hysterically then adopted a kitten a week later and named her after me. My dad started a fight with me to hide his vulnerabilities in the car ride over. It was both adorable and a reminder of why I so desperately needed to leave.

The second move was necessary, but not as crucial. It was more a move to save my rapidly depleting happiness. The new apartment was fun and enjoyable at the best times and tense and depressing at the worst. I became the head cleaning lady (another line for the resume) until I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that I needed out. Conveniently I had a friend moving into town who was looking for a roomie. What could go wrong, right? Apparently everything.

I committed to moving out and someone was found to take my room. In the meantime, I moved my stuff over to my new apartment a week before the lease would start. We still didn’t have a third roommate, but I wasn’t too worried (read: I was freaking out). We were moving into a place that a friend of a friend lived at — I was under the impression that she had spoken to her landlord and he agreed to this change. When I tried to talk to him about the apartment, it was apparently news to him and he flipped out on me and told me I wasn’t going to be living there. They rejected us because my friend’s crappy Americorps job on Long Island (which she quit a month later) didn’t pay enough. This news came two days before the “lease” was due to start. My friend was disappointed but felt that it was for the best anyway, and I had to move back in with my parents for a month. *Cue the dramatic ‘dun dun dun’ music.*

So my third move was the move back to Long Island. My parents gave my old bedroom to my little brother, so when I stayed with them I slept on the basement couch. Staying with my ex meant that I could sleep in an actual bed, so I basically lived at his parent’s place for that month. There was a lot of stress and little sleep with commuting back and forth from Long Island to Brooklyn for work. Me and my ex fought a lot, and I think it’s safe to say that this move ruined my relationship in a way that was irreparable but that we ignored for a few more months. I made the decision to live by myself, but after some consideration proposed the idea of living together with my ex. “Hey, we kinda hate each other right now. Wanna make it so we can’t escape each other for awhile?” Good going, Nicole. The way I saw it was that I would be living in this place and paying for rent, utilities, and food by myself and he would be there almost all of the time anyway not paying for shit. It didn’t seem fair, and he agreed, so we came to the decision to move in together.

Then the fourth move was in with my ex boyfriend, who is my ex boyfriend for a reason. It worked for a few months and I was excitedfunny-pictures-new-york-cats-hate-their-apartments about it, but I always had this feeling like I had forced him into this because I kinda had. He reassured me time and again, and then one day we got in an argument over some insubstantial thing. He decided the relationship wasn’t worth it, that I had forced him to move there, and in two weeks time he was moved out completely and hasn’t spoken to me since.

I stayed in the apartment mostly because I didn’t really have much of a choice and also because I was sick of moving, if you can believe that. I was less upset about the ending of the relationship than I expected, which was eye-opening in a very depressing way, but the place still dripped with memories of my ex boyfriend. I wasn’t exactly planning to re-sign the lease.

Now I’m at my fifth, and hopefully final for at least awhile, move. I’m moving in with a close friend who I used to work with, and I’m pretty excited about it. In my past moving situations, I had doubts and apprehensions that I suppressed until they were proven true. I’m done ignoring my inner voice and intuitions, though — this time they’re cheering me on and I feel fully confident with my decision.

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Post-Surgery Opposite of Jitters

About an hour after surgery. Attractive, right?

About an hour after surgery. Attractive, right?

Well it happened. I survived my first surgery and went through a pretty hellish recovery. Please read the following as a somewhat dramatic girl with the pain tolerance of a three year old.

I’ve never had a nose bleed before, and after my surgery, I was thrown into the world of perpetual bleeding, which was alarming to say the least. At first anyway. If my nose were to start gushing blood right now, I’d probably pull some gauze out of my bag and just roll with it (seriously — I have tissues hidden all over because this keeps happening to me).

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that you cannot trust a doctor when they tell you that the recovery isn’t that bad and it’s a minor surgery. Like, no shit they think that. They perform these surgeries back-to-back weekly! I went into this telling people I’d be fine, I’ll be back at work in three days, it’s a minor surgery — no biggie! YES BIGGIE. Me saying this. Me. Nicole Ortiz. Telling people it’d be fine. I want to go back in time, punch myself in the nose, and then as I sit there crying in shock say, “IT’S ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE.”

So yeah, it sucked. CLEARLY. I was stuck in bed for about six days with the company of a cute,

Day Two: At least one of us was happy.

Day Two: At least one of us was happy.

overprotective kitty. I got exhausted and winded if I walked up a flight of stairs, and I couldn’t go anywhere without my nose leaking all sorts of colorful goodness. I couldn’t sleep well because…duh, I just got surgery on my damn nose and I had to sleep basically sitting upright. The pain medicine I was prescribed made me lightheaded and dizzy to the point that I couldn’t look at my computer screen for too long without my vision doubling. And there was so much nausea. I had no appetite, but whenever I did manage to force some food down, my body decided that it was the worst thing that could happen and it would consider throwing up for the next hour or so. Gotta love those small print side effects.

This past Monday I had the splints removed from my nose, which was just about one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever had to deal with. I walked around self-conscious as hell because I was unable to smile without looking like a serial killer (the placement of the splints caused this, I SWEAR) and because I had two chunks of rubber visibly stuck in my nose. When my doctor asked how I was feeling, I told him to end this now and put the whole ordeal behind us. Which he did, luckily. But not before making me sit in the office waiting room for three and a half hours to simmer in my anxiety. Then while cleaning me up, he shoved two gigantic q-tips up my nose and laughed at me because I looked like “such a sad human being.” Cute, right? Why yes, I am single, boys.

Here it is. The creepiest, surgeriest smile.

Here it is. The creepiest, surgeriest smile.

All this being said, would I do the surgery anyway if I knew what it would be like? Hell fucking yes.

I can BREATHE. Out of both of my nostrils! This has never happened in my entire life. Do you understand how weird and amazing that is? Air feels so cold and refreshing in my nose. I can now smell out of my right nostril, which is another thing that I’ve never been capable of. Currently I’m in the process of training myself to not breathe through my mouth as often because it really isn’t as necessary as it once was.

My friend who also got this surgery done told me how foods taste so much better. And she’s damn right they do! I ate Chipotle and Chinese food (whatever, judge me for my unhealthy habits — I haven’t been able to eat in two weeks.), and there were so many flavors! I’ve been missing out on the mastery of subtle spicing for my entire life. I can’t wait to eat more delicious things and experiment with my own cooking in a whole new way.

Better picture to redeem myself and show that sometimes I can look normal.

Better picture to redeem myself and show that sometimes I can look normal.

And in addition to all the better breathing/smelling/tasting, my nose is also straighter! It was never really that crooked, but I did have a little bump on the bridge of it. That bad boy is gone now! AND I think my voice is different! It’s very strange, but I feel like I sound clearer — my voice was always a little bit nasally, but now it sounds smoother.

Gone are the days of continuous sniffling and mouth breathing. I’m a new girl with a new nose, and damn does it feel amazing.

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How I’ve Changed Since Moving to Brooklyn

brooklyn

Since moving to Brooklyn, I’ve noticed that I’ve changed a bit since growing up (read: since college). Some of these changes I’m pleased with while others I don’t particularly care for. I’ve made a list — mostly because I love writing things in a list format, but also because I so desperately want to be seen as a professional blogger, and apparently in 2014 that means compiling lists. AM I BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY YET?!

  1. My nails (fingers and toes) need to be polished at all times. I don’t know when this became such a priority for me, but I feel so incomplete without some cheap polish thrown on my nails. It’s at an obsessive point where I feel less put together without it now. I never gave a shit before — and yes, I definitely still bite my nails/cuticles, so it’s not like my hands even look that nice. But rest assured, if my nails are chipped, then I have some plans for my next free night.
  2. Cooking is something that needs to be planned. I LOVE COOKING. Do I really do it anymore? HELL NO. I rarely have the time to heat up a microwavable meal let alone cook an entire dish made up of more than one food for myself. Lately I’ve been making more of a point to cook on Sundays or Mondays when I actually have some spare time, but man was I in a cooking slump a few months ago. Even the meals I do cook are pretty minimal; maybe one day I’ll work back up to my old standards of making actual meals I want to share with people rather than the abominations that I currently hide behind in shame.
  3. I know way too much about the construction industry and bookkeeping. Seriously. Seriously. I have friends who work in H.V.A.C. and some that are tapers — most people my age don’t even know what that acronym stands for or how to go about meeting someone who would. I’m well-versed in subcontracts, proposals, purchase orders, change orders, and invoices. I know way more about insurance than I’d ever want to; health, dental, building, subcontractor, COI’s, workers comp — you name it, I know how to deal with it. I’ve mastered the technique of getting difficult clients to pay their bills and can point out which subcontractors are the most annoying when it comes to getting paid (I become irrationally angry with our millworker due to this). The fact that I know what the word “lien” even means disturbs me.
  4. It is way harder to see friends. I like to think I’m pretty good at keeping in touch with people, but damn, adulthood is challenging. Especially if you’re single and all your friends are in relationships, or vice versa — either way, it seems to keep completely flip flopping on me. Guess I’m just not up on the latest trends. Oh how I long for the days when I could walk down the street into a friend’s apartment and just hang out, my only responsibilities of the day being a two hour class and a four hour shift at Friendly’s. And if those friends were busy, then I’d just walk next door and find someone else to impose on.
  5. Owning boots became really crucial to surviving the winter. Let me specify by what I mean by boots: not Uggs and not rain boots. Geez, I have some standards still. Plus I’m just one mispronounced “drawer” away from fulfilling a total Long Island stereotype. When I say boots, I mean the fake leather boots that come up to your shin or the ones that stop at the ankle. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but suddenly I have five or six pairs where I didn’t even want a single pair a little over a year ago. And it became incredibly important to get non-ripped ones once my favorite brown ones (</3) got torn up last winter (damn you, Payless). I have different types and colors — literally every outfit I own can be accompanied with boots. I didn’t feel the need to wear boots in the shitty Binghamton winters, but apparently Brooklyn took me to my breaking point.

Well there’s obviously way more ways in which I’ve changed since leaving Binghamton, but this will have to do for now. Maybe it’ll become something I add to in the future. This post was fun to write, but also feels entirely like what you come to expect someone in their mid-20s living in Brooklyn to produce. Maybe this is growing up. Or maybe there’s just something in the water.

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