A Month of Oop

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This month has not treated me so well, friends. In terms of opportunities and connections, it’s been great—don’t get me wrong. But I also fell off a treadmill, consumed so much citrus that it filled my mouth with canker cores, and developed candida on the corner of my mouth and had to use athlete’s foot cream to treat it. SO, that’s where I am currently. I’m going to take a deep breath in, and let it out, and dive deeper into what’s gone down.

About a month ago, I was teaching bootcamp-style a class at work, where clients switch from running on a treadmill to lifting weights on the floor (it’s actually really fun, and you should try it). During the class, I walked across the row of treadmills, being all cool, and failed to notice that one of them was still moving. I ate shit. I flew off and fell onto my right side while everyone turned around and watched it happen. I assured people I was okay, and kept teaching. I really did think I was okay—my knee felt bruised and my leg felt a little sore, but that was it.

But as the week progressed, I started to feel not-so-okay. I was having major hip pain in my right side, and my knee felt like it was getting progressively more bruised. But I kept walking/running/working out on it because I thought it was fine. When people would ask me if I was okay, I would say “yes”. It’s just soreness. It’s me being sensitive. I’m good. (Tip: when you are constantly in pain, it is not fine)

So, uh, the leg situation did not get better, but I did convince myself to go see a professional (progress!). Turns out I sprained my knee, did something with a disc (pinched? herniation?? I’m not a doctor, y’all) that made my right leg so weak that I failed all of the tests they put me through. It was not just soreness or sensitivity and it wasn’t all good. I was so convinced that I could just will myself through it that I made things even worse.

Last week, I got really into drinking lemon water. I’m not a hydrator by nature, so in order to get myself to consume liquid, it has to be flavored. It’s usually Coke Zero, tbh, and I was so happy when I figured out the perfect combination of things that did not contain artificial sweeteners or caramel coloring! Lemon + water. So simple! After a few days of this, I noticed that a bunch of canker sores were forming in my mouth. After a quick google search of “what causes canker sores”, I came to the conclusion that it was probably the acidity from the lemons.

So, I switched to limes. It did not make a difference, and definitely gave me more sores. But it’s okay, I told myself. I kept the drinking up, assuming my body would either get used to the citrus, or that I would get used to the feeling of a mouth full of sores like a dumbass. What I did not take into account was the fact that you can apparently develop candida on your mouth from disobeying the lemon gods. I developed a giant wound on the corner of my mouth that got worse day to day until I treated it with a combination of Neosporin, athlete’s foot cream, and hydrocortisone as of today, it is still there (but not as painful). Fun times!

This month has taught me a lot about pain thresholds and wound care, but more about being okay with admitting things are not fine. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I, personally, feel compelled to say that things are OK when they are clearly not, and I am falling apart from the inside out. I was literally dragging my leg around work, as I thought, “this is acceptable”. To someone looking at me, it would be so clear that it was definitely not. But I didn’t feel like that. I felt like I could get through it. I so wanted to will myself past it. But sometimes you can’t do that, and you just have to take the L and buy a bunch of generic ointments from Target. I think my biggest takeaways for now are:

  1. It’s okay to admit that I’m not feeling good.
  2. It’s not normal to be in pain and it does not make me weak to admit it.
  3. I was so smart for hoarding my anti-inflammatory meds when I still had health insurance.

I’ll continue to work on this for the next time my ass falls off a treadmill.

 

birthday goals

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It’s my birthday month!!! And I’m celebrating by not celebrating? I never liked the idea of partying (erm, going to brunch and then having to go to work, then coming back and sleeping by 9pm, if we’re being honest) for more than my set date of birth. But I do like the idea of reflecting on the past year to measure growth and to celebrate the lil things I did to better my wellbeing, so that I’ll do!

In my 26th year of life, I feel like I did quite a bit. I got coffee with artists. I created zines. I tabled at 10+ events. I stated they/them pronouns for the first time. I moved (well, I’m in the process of it) to a bigger place with windows and a normal-sized shower. I wrote a lot. I grew in ways that I didn’t know I could—I learned how to nurture my heart and mind and rested (not always) when I needed to. I meditated. I took walks. I released big ideas into the universe and allowed her to take it from there. I trusted.

Now, I’m looking to expand on what I did before. My theme for this year is SPACE. Holding my own space. Creating space. Knowing when I need space.

In holding my own space, I want to speak out more when I am not satisfied. I plan to push back when someone tries to marginalize me or take advantage of kindness. I would like to be more vocal about the work I am willing to do, and decline the work I don’t feel will promote growth. I’m also going to do that thing at concerts where you don’t let the blonde girl in heels push in front of you and then block your view of Hellogoodbye the whole time.

To create space, I want to encourage artists to be artists. I want to volunteer my time at events that literally provide space for artists of color to perform. I want to let people know that they don’t have to be the most talented to tell their truths. I’m also going to remind myself that helping others succeed does not mean that I cannot succeed. It’s a challenge sometimes, but I’m doing my best to remind myself that there’s room for everyone, and that if we all keep creating, it will become easier for our marginalized voices to be heard. Plus, I think it would just be cool to not be the token Asian person at a zine fest whose “Yellow Fever” zine attracts white dudes for the wrong reason. So, that part is purely selfish.

Knowing when I need space is easy. Acting on it is the difficult part. As a workaholic/compulsive people-pleaser, I often find myself putting other peoples’ wants first. BUT I’m making an effort to do some real self-care this year. I’m going to say “no” to the things I don’t want to do. I’m going to separate work time from rest time, and really follow through (and, like, maybe lock my phone in a box or something, and then throw it into the ocean). I yearn to find moments where I can set aside labels (writer, illustrator, disgruntled employee who doesn’t get a single day off, etc…) and just be a person. I think it’s so easy for people—me, especially—to get lost in work and what we want to be, instead of taking a look in the mirror and seeing who we are now, in all our struggling-but-not-dead, work-in-progress, kale-in-teeth glory.

Cheers to 27!

24 day crash

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I check Instagram out of habit (or because I’m a masochist, but probably both) and see that people close to me are nominated for awards, getting new jobs, and making money doing things that I do for free. I “like” the posts to feign enthusiasm, then I look at where I am, sitting in my car in between work shifts, using the 48 minutes I have to try to make something happen that will make me feel like less of a failure. Yet, every time I try to catch up, I feel like I just tumble more towards the end of the pack.

I am not used to being behind. Hell, I’m not even used to coming in second place.

I think about high school, when the only thing I was rejected from was Prom Committee, and that’s because I was too busy doing other extracurriculars that didn’t involve choosing what color balloons would go best with a “Night on the Red Carpet” theme. I think about college, when I could stay up until midnight working, and then wake up at 5am to continue where I left off without a hitch—all because I once heard James Franco say that he thought sleep was wasted time. I think about everything I’d been able to accomplish before, and get frustrated that my productivity seems to be slacking in comparison to my peers, and I hyperventilate, thinking that I’m not good enough, smart enough, strong enough.

I wake up. I’ve fallen asleep again, goddamn it. Time to go into work.

These feelings started a while ago. They continued onto the next day, and week, and month, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like I could use a nap. I think about taking it easier, but when I think I might follow through, I see another post on Instagram telling me I have a lot to do to catch up.

Soon, I find that I’ve worked 24 straight days in a row. That is 24 days of work that pays, work that pays less, and work that doesn’t pay at all. On this 24th day, I feel tired, but not much more than usual. I have been out since 5am, fit in a lunch date with a friend, and make it back to my apartment to rest for a few minutes before it’s time to leave again. I toy around with the idea of taking an eight-minute nap, but decide against it because I know I won’t want to wake up.

I leave for work when it’s time, and still feel tired, but this is normal. As I continue on the road, it feels less normal. It is painful to stay awake, but I am sure I can will myself through it. I think, “if I can just make it halfway, I’ll be good to go.” I think, “I am physically and mentally weak if I pull over.” I think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be listening to NPR right now.”

I can no longer tell if the fact that I cannot hold my eyes open is normal or not. On the one hand, it makes sense that I’m tired, seeing as I’ve had a long day. On the other, it doesn’t make any fucking sense because I am an adult—not a child who needs to be put down for a nap every day, yet here I am: a 25 year old who cannot deal with the fact that she is falling behind in life, lacks an apartment with the appropriate amount of space to shelter a cat, and is about to lose her health insurance.

CRASH.

I wake up and I’ve hit the cement divider on Crenshaw Boulevard. I put it in park, turn on my hazards, and sit. My left ear is ringing. I smell smoke from the side airbags that deployed. My glasses are surprisingly still on my face, despite falling off like clockwork whenever I look down, or jog, or watch a movie. Of course those fuckers stayed on this time.

I call my boss to tell her I can’t make it to work. She gets my shifts covered, and I don’t feel relieved as much as I wish I hadn’t lost out on at least $50.

I call my boyfriend and tell him I fell asleep. I start to cry because I feel like garbage. Garbage that couldn’t drive three more fucking minutes to get to her workplace without hitting a goddamn cement slab. He tells me he’s on his way to come get me.

I call my mom and tell her what happened. She asks if I’m okay, and I say, yes, like it doesn’t matter. I am stupid and tired and feel even more stupid and tired as I think about what just happened. She keeps telling me she’s glad I’m okay, and I want to tell her I don’t care that I am. But I don’t because that’s probably not what she wants to hear after her daughter just collided with a cement block at who-knows-what speed.

A car stops behind me—it’s an old Lincoln, and I’m not going to guess what year because that’s not my thing. I don’t even know it’s a Lincoln, really, until the guy who’s driving it tells me. His name is Steve, and he’s from Louisiana, visiting his mother in the area. He’s pretty old, so I start to wonder how old his mother is. He asks what happened. I get out of the car to tell him, seeing the damage for the first time. It’s not nearly as bad as it feels, but I still break down and cry more out of frustration that after all of this, THAT was the damage.

He puts out flares to direct traffic away from me as I open my trunk and hood because apparently, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you fall asleep and veer onto the shoulder, into a five-foot-tall wall. I then sit inside the car, and he tells me about the flares—he had just gotten them today from a friend who found them in his garage. They are from 1971, which he finds hilarious. I don’t know if that’s old in flare years, but I laugh along. I hope he doesn’t tell me “everything happens for a reason.”

He recites the AAA number off the top of his head because he doesn’t have a smart phone. We get a tow truck out, and he waits with me, entertaining me with car facts and instructions on how to put flares out. I can tell he’s trying to keep me distracted, which would usually bother me, but I’m too tired to be difficult at this point.

I look at the clock and think, “maybe if this is done fast enough, I can make that second shift and not be out an extra $25.” Then I think this is maybe what got me here in the first place, so maybe I should just call it a day.

Everyone texts me, saying they’re glad I’m okay, but all I kind of just want to die, tbh. I tell them I’m fine, though, out of courtesy. Little do I know that I’m about to be given a rental car with no power locking doors or electric windows.