Monday, 29 August 2011

Muesday's: Tuesday's Musings and Music

I've decided that I am going to start something I like to call Muesday's. Sounds fancy and exciting doesn't it?! I can assure that really, it's not. Basically, I'm doing this because Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week, for several reasons:

1) New Music Tuesdays: There is just something so awesome about the fact that new music comes out on itunes every Tuesday. I get a great deal of joy logging into my itunes and seeing and hearing what's new and wonderful in the world of music. More often than not (and perhaps more often than I should admit) I am late for appointments/work/school on Tuesdays because I am too busy judging new songs and albums, and finding new artists to help me get through the day. New music Tuesday on itunes is equivalent to taking mind altering, euphoric drugs. I just get so excited and happy!

2) Fresh Cuts at Anthropologie: As someone who enjoys shopping, perhaps a little too much, I love Tuesdays because that is the day of the week that my favorite store puts out all their new sale items. Who wouldn't like that?! Again, it's like taking drugs as there is nothing more satisfying and wonderful than getting a really awesome deal on something that you have wanted for a long time, but were too cheap to pay full price for.

3) Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant: I enjoy bad television. There is just something about it that makes you feel better to know that there are people out there who have it worse than you. Plus, I enjoy watching the drama unfold, for example, watching Amber beat her baby daddy Gary. It's like driving past the scene of a grisly accident. You know you shouldn't look, but at the same time you just can't bring yourself to tear your eyes away. MTV does an amazing job of feeding my bad television habit every Tuesday by bringing out the new episodes of Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant.

Because of all the awesome that Tuesday's hold, I invented Muesday's. It's really a combination of the word 'Tuesday' with musing, and music. Get it? Muesday. Anyway, what will basically happen on Muesday, is that I will post my daily Tuesday musings along with wonderful new music/my favorite song of the day. I think it's a pretty awesome idea if I do say so myself. What can I say, I'm a genius, and as you can tell, really modest.

Take a listen to Edmonton by Rose Cousins. She's an amazing singer/songwriter from Atlantic Canada. I stumbled upon her music one day, a while ago, on one of my many itunes adventures. It's an homage to my hometown, and plus, the message is something I can really relate to right now. Enjoy this!



xoxo
Leah

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wait, I Thought Games Were Supposed to Be Fun?!

What sick, twisted, sadistic bastard decided that there needed to be logic games on the LSAT? I spent the better part of my morning and early afternoon yesterday, sitting in a room with 8 other people, writing a practice LSAT. Did I mention that this was probably the first time any of us actually sat down and looked at an LSAT? Did I also mention that this was voluntary? Did I also mention that I paid an obscene amount of money to do this to myself? I must be a masochist because I can't think of any other reason why anyone would want to do that to themselves. After writing that practice LSAT and seeing how much work I am going to be putting into this, all I can say is well shit, see you all at Christmas. I'm serious. While doable, it was like i was running the mental gauntlet.

I have spent a significant amount of time over the past, oh I don't know, 6ish years of my university education running the academic gauntlet. I majored in history, and despite what many people think, history is no walk in the park. It's actually like being thrown into piranha infested waters. Almost every day, sycophantic history students compete with each for the attention and affections of their profs. We are consistently told that our ideas are not good enough, are too pedestrian, that our topics are silly, and our papers read like a stream of consciousness. Every historian and history student thinks that their area of interest is the best. I can honestly say that when I talk to a history student who does something outside of early modern England(roughly 1450-1750, but the best is the 16th century), I scoff, and mock them, because in my mind, 16th century English social policy is where it's at, and why anyone would want to study anything else is inconceivable. I have spent more hours than I can count researching and writing papers for classes. I have presented papers at conferences and have voluntarily taken paleography classes. I know what it means to put in the work, and I know what it takes to get good grades. But here's the thing. History is easy for me. Logic games, not so much. I like to do things that I am good at, that I know I can do well, and I don't like to struggle or be frustrated (it's counter productive to my health, sanity, and the safety of those around me). I can understand needing excellent logical reasoning, and solid reading comprehension skills, but logic games? Seriously, not cool. Not cool in any way, shape, or form.

This is the question I pose: why are they necessary!? In my personal opinion, I believe that they were put on this earth to cause me sorrow and torment. They make me cranky, and what makes me crankier is the fact that I am going to have to be best friends for life with them. They are not fun. I don't care what everyone says. They are yucky, and I hate them. Excuse me while I go pout.

xoxo
Leah

Friday, 26 August 2011

Technology: It Gets Shit Done

I'm pretty new to this whole blogging thing. I'm like a baby blogger (I'm also a baby wino, not to be confused with a baby rhino, but that's a whole other story). Actually, I'm pretty new to technology in general. Before you go jumping to conclusions about me being Amish, or one of those people who are in denial about the increasingly technological world we live in who don't own a computer or TV, and if they do own a TV they only have basic cable and are basically living under a stupid rock, or those assholes who don't have a facebook account, I should explain. First, I do have a facebook account, even though it's like I don't exist, but I actually do (I still refuse to join twitter because a) I really don't see the point, and b) I could quite frankly care less about what any one person is doing at any given second of the day...although I might change my mind about twitter if it will help me take over the interweb/world and disseminate my wit and wisdom to humanity, or if I can be thoroughly convinced and/or bribed with shoes and other pretty things). Second, I am finally coming to embrace technology because I see resistance as an exercise in futility, plus I use a lot of technological shit, like computers, ipods, hairdryers, the microwave, etc. It has taken me quite some time, but I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I would probably die in the event that the various random pieces of technology that I use on a daily basis, stopped working. My previous relationship with technology was quite simple. I would simply pretend that it was magic. Pure, unadulterated magic. The little genie that lives in my ipod? That's who shuffles all my wonderful music for me! That little paper clip in word? While very annoying, he (or is it a she? I think it's genderless) is the wizard who helps me to type things, that I like to tell myself make sense, and are funny and witty. I have even gotten to the stage where computers and other electronics don't blow up when I look at them, although they still have the habit of not working when I touch them, like the photocopier at work. Also, I should just say that there is nothing wrong with being Amish, and I do apologize to any Amish that I may have offended with my above statement, that is, if you are reading this, which I am sure you aren't because you are Amish and eschew technology and other modern amenities, like electricity. But, I digress.

Anyway, I have finally come to terms with technology. As a student of history, I can fully appreciate what the Scientific Revolution did for humanity. But that doesn't mean that I have embraced all the technological advances humans have made in recent years. I still don't understand how to use most computer programs, and I am a firm believer that if you click something uber fast and over and over again when your computer is frozen it will magically unfreeze. I still don't know how to change the ink for my printer, and I like to lie to myself pretend that little fairies come and change it because they magically know that I have a 50 page history paper due the next day, and because I was too stupid to check the ink levels (it's also entirely probable that my dad does it without me noticing). The only reason I can do anything on a computer is because I use a Mac, and they are basically idiot proof(which translates to Leah proof) and are proven to be indestructible (God bless that aluminum unibody design). One time I tripped over my power cord and my computer fell about 4 feet off one of my dressers. It now has a giant dent in it, and I destroyed that power cord and added another bruise to my already excessively bruised body (I always sometimes look like a victim of domestic violence, when really I am just clumsy as shit, fall a lot, and run into things), but it still runs like a dream. It tells me when the updates are ready and all I have to do is punch in my password. Like I said, basically idiot proof and magic.

I would have to credit the same person who suggested that I write this blog as being the one to get me slightly more interested in what technology can do for me. He is one of the most technologically literate people I know, and is a genius with Photoshop (he one time created a picture of a friend riding a narwhal just because he could, and because he was being silly. Don't ask.), and basically anything that has to do with web design. So I started this blog and I am learning. Like I said, I am a baby blogger still. I just learned how to embed stuff, and I can link things like nobodies business. But, I am still learning. I still have no idea what a body tag is, or what code to use to put a music player in (I am still seeking that holy grail music player that will play a full playlist in a blog post along with instructions as to how to achieve such a feat...hint hint) in a blog post. You want graphics and stuff? Sorry, I'm kickin it old school. Anything you see, I created with Microsoft Office Paint, because I remember using it when I was like 11 and I don't know how to use any other programs, and also because I legitimately don't know of any other programs to use . I am really making myself out to be an idiot, and sometimes I am, although most times I have above average intelligence, but I am always an idiot when it comes to technology. But the thing is, I am so willing to learn, even though every time I sit down to do anything on a computer, it's an epic battle between good (me, obviously) and evil (something that I recognize as being way smarter than me...damn you computer brain! damn you!). Seriously, something that would take the above mentioned person about 30 seconds, takes me 3 days. Again, the only reason I know how to even blog in the first place is because Blogger, like Apple, makes it idiot proof (which might not necessarily be a good thing). Instead of knowing how to fix something if it's not working out the way I want it too, I sit, and whine, and often swear (a lot) at the computer screen, knowing full well that my expletives won't help the situation. What this means is that while the things I write may be entertaining (at least I think and hope so) the layout of my blog is rather simple, and one could say boring. But I can honestly say, that until I sit down and figure it out how to make it more pretty and such things, or until someone offers to do it for me (I'll give you a shiny penny, a "friends don't let friends vote republican" button, and a Werther's Original, that may or may not be really old) this will just have to do. You will just have to content yourselves, dear readers with my sparkling and irreverent words of wit and wisdom.

So, slowly but surely, I am embracing technology. When I think about it, I know for a fact that I would be lost without all the things I use on a daily basis (and I also know that my hair, while mostly a disaster, would be even more of a disaster). Also, I really like electricity. If we didn't have it, we'd all be fucked. Except for the Amish. They'd survive just fine.

xoxo
Leah

P.S. This is my friend Josh, riding a Narwhal created by above mentioned photoshop genius...





Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Specificity: It's Important


I am a fan of specificity. It's a good thing because it means that I screw up less. If you explain something to me in EXACT detail, chances are I will accomplish whatever it is in a timely manner, and the task/project/whatever will be done at least semi-decently. But the minute you start being vague, it's game over. I can't do it. Vagueness, that is. It just drives me crazy, and sometimes gives me homicidal thoughts! How am I supposed to know what you want when you can't even properly articulate to me what it is you want!?

An example of the art of being vague happened to me the other night. My mum turned to me and said "hey Leah, what's that song that I like by that girl that has that beat that I like, that was on Saturday Night Live that one time, but not recently, who might be from the Netherlands?" Um, that's not a lot to go on. It doesn't help that I laughed hysterically at this because I don't think you can get any more vague. It also doesn't help that my sister walked out of her room and started offering suggestions like Ace of Base and Björk. Our combined laughter only made things worse, as my mum started to laugh, which made speech unintelligible, and figuring out what she wanted even more difficult. What this whole episode reminded me of was the hellish nightmare of retail work. I spent my teenage years dealing with people who didn't understand the concept of specificity. I can't even begin to count the number of times someone walked into the bookstore that I worked at and said "Hi, I'm looking for a book", which would then prompt me to ask them if they knew the title or the author. 9 times out of 10 they had no idea, but they did know the color. Yes, let me show you to the magenta section, because every bookstore organizes their shelves by colors. It gave a whole new meaning to Reading Rainbow.

Specificity is important. By being specific you cut down on my murderous urges, so instead of picturing myself bludgeoning your vague ass with a golf club, I can actually help you. So please, next time you ask someone for directions, or to help you find a book, or a song, or anything, try to be as specific as possible...otherwise you could die.

xoxo
Leah

P.S. Here is a picture of a golf club with a word of wisdom about what could happen when you are vague


P.P.S. The song was Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine...she is not from the Netherlands...




Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Big C Part IV: I am now a Hypochondriac

Fact: being diagnosed with cancer as a young adult makes you a hypochondriac. I know that being a hypochondriac is a serious and debilitating illness, but I think, alongside my minor OCD problem, that I am now a hypochondriac. I am serious. As I have previously stated, I have a very overactive imagination. I always have, ever since I was a child (I blame my parents for letting me read anything I wanted, instead of forcing me to socialize with other children...wow, that kind of makes me sound like I am socially stunted...I'm not, I swear!). As a result of reading at a level far above most children, my imagination took off. I am surprised more people don't think I'm weirder than I am, because I am the first to admit that I am weird person.

Before cancer I was pretty much like any other person when I got sick. I am a huge, whiny baby when I have a cold and I actually feel sorry for anyone who has to be around me. It doesn't help that I get doted on and waited on hand and foot. Not going to lie, when this happens, I sometimes play it up, but then again, who wouldn't. If someone is offering to take care of you, I say take it. It's really just the exploitation of your resources. I would whine and be showered with love and affection, and eventually I would get better. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. Surprisingly, I think I took it quite well. I think it was my way of coping, and apart from that first day, I never sat around feeling sorry for myself, like I normally do when I get sick. I like to say I skipped all those other stages of grief and moved right on to acceptance (which could also be taken as denial...you can be the judge of that). Although I didn't sit around and whine about being sick (I was only sick on the inside), I did become a hypochondriac. It's both a little funny and a little sad. There was this one time, right before I was leaving on my cancercation (a vacation from cancer, and a term coined by Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer) that I legit thought I had a blood clot. I was out shopping with two friends and my leg started hurting like crazy. Rather than thinking that it was just a leg cramp my mind immediately thought it was a blood clot that was going to travel trough my veins and arteries to either my heart or lungs, instantly killing me from a cardiac or pulmonary embolism. I was so concerned that I actually called one of my doctors (a word of advice to all doctors out there: don't give your patients your home or your cell phone numbers, otherwise you will have crazy patients, like myself, calling you with imaginary ailments that they swear are real) who had to talk me down from the ledge of hysteria. This is also now one of the many embarrassing and amusing stories that my two friends like to tell of me. I can't help that I do and say stupid shit. It just happens.

That is just one example of how messed up your mind can get. It's actually a problem. Every time I get a headache, all  can think is that my cancer has come back and metastasized to my brain. Or I get a muscle spasm and I think "well shit, the cancer didn't kill me, but this pain that is obviously ebola or the plague will". I can honestly say that I now take more vitamins and supplements than I ever wished to take. I am actually a walking pharmacy of both pharmaceutical drugs and vitamin supplements. You need something to give you more energy? I'm your gal! Need a pain killer? No problem, I know of some good ones. But seriously, I am NOT a drug dealer... Every morning I down no less than 8 pills to keep myself healthy and so I don't contract some other disease like scarlet fever or gout. Also, a word to the wise, don't ever go on web MD. It's a bad life choice that will leave you feeling worse than before you started to type in your ailments. One time I had a chest pain so bad that I thought I was having a heart attack/one of my lungs had exploded/I was suffering from hypertension, at least according to web MD. Turns out I had one, or five, too many cups of coffee. 

So, just as cancer has the ability to fuck with you physically, it also screws you up mentally. You just can't help but think of the worst case scenario every time. And while it may sound pessimistic, it's not a bad thing to think in terms of the worst case scenario. At least that way, there is nowhere to go but up, and it doesn't leave you disappointed. The day that I was diagnosed with cancer, I was cautiously optimistic and honestly thought that it was nothing and that I was fine. Big mistake. I was sorely disappointed in the outcome of that day. I learned to always think that the worst was coming, so that way when I was given good news, I was that much more excited/happy. And yes, I know that's messed up, but I learned to keep my expectations low. Really, the only thing you can do is keep hope. That little bit of hope will get you through, no matter what, regardless of the outcome, and it will help keep you sane...sort of.

xoxo
Leah

Friday, 19 August 2011

Spirit Hoods: You Look Like An Asshat

It has been brought to my attention that something called a Spirit Hood exists. From information gathered from the website, SpiritHoods are hideous and utterly useless "animal hats(that) represent the bond we all share with each other and our primal natures". Basically these Spirit hoods are synthetic animal heads that sometimes have scarf paws attached. I'm sorry but these are just stupid. Seriously, who the hell came up with such a useless and utterly pointless idea. Not only do they make the wearer look like an asshat, but they are really expensive. Who in their right mind would spend upwards of $140 on fake fur. Oh wait, assholes who want to look like a sexy insertrandomanimal here. They have nothing of value to offer to society, other than to make the wearer of said SpiritHood look even more douchey. Last time I checked, I am pretty sure that the creators made this not so they could bring awareness of some kind of native american religion to the world, but so they could afford their million dollar malibu mansion and fund their alcohol and recreational drug infused daily pool parites. What a load of bullshit. Just because you are putting a fake fur animal hat on your head doesn't make you one with the spiritual animal world. Also, the people who created them live in California. Have they stepped outside recently? Do they know that it is like 30℃ in California during the summer? Do they realize that wearing faux fur, really creepy animal heads as hats is a dumb idea in warm weather? I somehow think logic escapes them, and most wearers of SpiritHoods. Wearing SpiritHoods makes you an asshat...literally. In my humble opinion, these spirit hoods are only appropriate if you are a child, under the age of 12, or if it's Halloween(or perhaps if you live somewhere where it gets to be -50℃ in the winter and you have misplaced your tuque but that is only in extreme and special circumstances). I will openly ridicule anyone I see on the street walking around with a fucking owl on their head, or a sexy red fox or any other kind of animal. Who wakes up in the morning and says "gee I think I want to wear a Panda on my head today, that's an awesome idea!"?! Idiots, that's who. Uninformed, idiots who have no idea the actual meaning behind what it actually means to be in touch with some kind of animal-spiritual world. The website espouses rhetoric about becoming part of the tribe. What tribe is this? A tribe of asshole hippies who are well into adulthood, who are living the glory days of their youth? Also, this whole "Join the Tribe" slogan reminds me of a crazy religious sect that encourages its followers to "drink the kool-aid". Um, No thanks. I think I'll stick to real life. If you feel that wearing fake animal heads will give you a sense of spirituality and a sense of belonging, then by all means, wear spirit hoods and remain ignorant and uniformed, and probably alone. Perhaps you should seek some kind of meaningful spirituality, rather than buying into the materialization and commercialization of an ancient belief system. I by no means pretend to be an expert on Native North American religious beliefs or any religion that deals with the spiritual power of animals, but I do know that the wearing of animals and animal skins in some religions has a deeper meaning than what the creators of SpiritHoods are getting at. SpiritHoods are absolutely ridiculous. I can't stand them. I would actually consider becoming an arsonist and set fire to the factory where they are made. The only possible redeeming quality that SpiritHoods have, is that if you purchase one with the Problue symbol, they will donate 10% of the sale to a foundation that deals with the particular animal head you purchased. Wow, so generous. 10%. When I see them, I am filled with a rage so firey that I actually get worked up. It's a problem. You can ask anyone in my office how I really feel about them. They're just so incredibly stupid! So please, instead of buying into some ridiculous fad, why don't you instead give your money to a worthy cause, like the World Wildlife Fund. Don't be an asshat.

If you're wondering whether or not you fall into the category of 'Asshat', I have created a handy flow chart for you to reference. Please see below.

Are You an Asshat?







xoxo
Leah

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Big C Part III: 100 Things That Make Me Happy

Quite some time ago, about a year and a half I would say, I was not in a good head space. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of the time, and I was still trying to figure out how to deal with my treatment, and a good friend was there for me and she gave me some excellent advice. She told me to make a list of all the things that made me happy, so that way when I was sad I could look at it and be reminded of all the things that are good in my life. So I did. I love to make lists anyway, but little did I know how much this list would help me. Whenever I am feeling bad or sad, or just need a pick me up, I refer to it. It was especially helpful to me as I moved througout my cancer treatment. Whenever I was fed up with visits to my doctors or to hospitals, I would look at the list before I left my house and would go over it in my head as I waited. Cancer has this tendency to suck any and all happiness from you. It has the ability to make even the most positive person negative. But, at the risk of sounding corny, the thing is that you can't be negative. You just can't. You need to constantly remind yourself of the the little things in life that will help you to keep going. Don't give up. Even the smallest things will help you regain your positivity. I am forever thankful to her for her advice. I don't think she knows exactly how much it has helped me and how much making this list actually meant to me, so thank you RB. I know that making a list has helped me, so I figured that I would share it. Perhaps it will motivate people to make their own list, perhaps it won't. Perhaps it will help people stumble upon their own happiness... Without further adieu, here it is,in no particular order:




1)History: 16th-18th Century Enlgish History
2)School
3)Loose Leaf Tea: the buttered rum flavor from David's Tea is my favourite
4)Watching trashy TV
5)Books: the smell of old books, and how new books sound when they are opened for the first time
6)Laughing until I cry
7)Doing nothing just because I can
8)Hot summer nights
9)Roadtrips and vacations
10)Tiger ice cream
11)Cupcakes with pink icing
12)People watching
13)Hanson and other music from my childhood
14)Pink nail polish
15)Driving in my car with the windows rolled down and the sunroof open listening to Penny and Me
16)Singing at the top of my lungs
17)Dancing in my underwear
18)My first cup of coffee in the morning
19)Playing soccer
20)Monty Python
21)Learning new things
22)Hello Kitty
23)The colour pink
24)The smell right after it rains
25)The first snowfall of the year
26)When all the leaves change colour for the fall
27)Ruffles
28)Polka Dots
29)My awesome slipper booties from New Zealand
30)Giant pink umbrellas
31)My i-Pod
32)Flowers: Gardenias, Hot Pink Gerbera Daisies, Orchids
33)Really big leafy trees
34)When people have laugh lines around their eyes. It shows that they are happy people
35)Patterned rubber boots
36)Exploring new cities
37)Giant thunderstorms
38)Finding things you thought you had lost forever
39)Jazz and Classical music: I love Gershwin, Debussy, and Stravinsky
40)Frank Sinatra
41)Old Movies: Breakfast at Tiffany's and Gone With the Wind are my favorites
42)Going to the Opera/Theatre: Carmen is my favorite opera
43)Musicals: I adore The Sound of Music
44)When old people hold hands
45)When babies laugh
46)The smell after the grass is cut
47)Finding new music/artists/bands
48)Tiffany jewelery
49)Leopard print
50)Sitting at home, curled up in a blanket, reading on a rainy day
51)My birthday
52)Hugs from my mum and dad
53)Laughing with my sister
54)Puppy breath
55)Getting letters/postcards in the mail
56)Watching my all time favorite movie: You've Got Mail
57)Comfortable silence
58)Cheese Pizza
59)The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when the plane you are on lands
60)Getting unexpected gifts
61)Giving unexpected gifts
62)Finding money in your pockets
63)Getting a phone call from a friend you haven't heard from in a long time
64)Making people laugh
65)My work with the Alberta Cancer Foundation
66)Having conversations in really bad, fake accents
67)Napping
68)Anthropologie
69)My La Vanilla Vanilla Passionfruit perfume
70)Breakfast for dinner
71)Dessert for Breakfast
72)The way the air smells on Maui
73)London: I love that you can literally walk on history
74)Museums
75)Spending hours in a bookstore just browsing all the titles
76)Sweaters with thumb holes
77)Finding pictures of my parents when they were my age
78)Latin Poetry: Catullus is one of my favorites
79)My "History is Sexy" t-shirt
80)Peppermint/Vanilla lip balm
81)Babycakes Bakery
82)5¢ candy from 7-11
83)Pilates
84)Quotes
85)Ellipses...
86)Antiques
87)My bed with it's giant, blue, ruffled duvet cover and matching pillows
88)Meeting new people
89)Finding funny, random youtube videos
90)"That's what she said" moments
91)Fireworks
92)Seeing that my friends are happy
93)Lulu Lemon Athletica
94)TOMS: I love my sparkly silver ones!
95)Taking a bath with lavender epsom salts
96)Toast
97)New York: I love that there is always something to do
98)Color coding all my school notes
99)The BBC
100)Knowing that I am loved, that I have loved, have been loved, and that I can love again...

xoxo
Leah

Monday, 15 August 2011

I am NOT a 1967 Cherry Red Mustang Convertible



Dear Micro-pigmentation Artist,

As you have witnessed with your own two eyes, my right boob is highly unusual. This is due to the fact that 2 years ago I had a ten and a half hour surgery in which they COMPLETELY REMOVED my ENTIRE right breast. As a result, I no longer have a regular nipple. They built me a new one out of skin from my back. In my opinion this was both an epic piece of engineering, and a work of art. Now, I have been coming to see you to tattoo me with some color, on said nipple, and I would like you to keep in mind at our appointment tomorrow that I am NOT a 1967 Cherry Red Mustang Convertible. It would be much appreciated if you remember this and fix the color that you have already applied to my skin. I will be very disappointed if this advice goes unheeded, and would hate to ruin your reputation by complaining to my plastic surgeon, who is the highly skilled architect behind said skin creation. Just saying.

Yours,
Leah

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Big C, Part II: The Waiting Game


Yesterday, I went back to the Cross for a follow up appointment. Needless to say, I was rather irritated by this. I have never been a very patient person. While it's true that I am a much more patient person than I was in the past, due to aging and circumstance, I am still impatient. I hate to be kept waiting. I always want to know everything right away. I have found that over the past 2 years I have done a significant amount of waiting. I guess that's what happens when you get cancer.

I know for myself, when I heard those three little words, "you have cancer", the first thing that I wanted to do was go out and do everything that I might not have gotten the chance to (if I hadn't been as lucky as I was). The last thing I wanted to do was wait. But that's what cancer does. It makes you wait, and wait and wait. It's kind of funny how the only thing you and your doctors can think of is how fast you can get on treatment, or in for surgery, only to spend significant amounts of time waiting. You wait at hospitals and doctors offices. You wait for surgery dates and times. You wait to start treatment and then you wait to see if the treatment is working. You wait for followup appointments with specialists, who, because they are specialists and basically think they are God's gifts to medicine, think they can make you wait even longer. It's maddening when you are sitting in a waiting room, in a disgusting hospital gown, freezing, and bored for an hour and half past your scheduled appointment. I personally think it's quite inconsiderate. But then I sometimes stop and think to myself. What if they are late because someone was in serious trouble, or something went wrong. I know if that was the case, and if the roles were reversed and I needed immediate medical attention, I would be grateful that there were people who were willing to take the time to help me. From this, I have learned to play the waiting game. I know that any appointment that I have at the Cross is going to be minimum an hour long, and I prepare for it. I know that when I go see my surgeon, the wait is at least an hour and half, and the wait for my GP is usually around 45 minute. You learn patience right quick when you are kept waiting.

What's funny about it all, is that while you are waiting all you want to do is get on with your life. It's like you are stuck in some sick, twisted, swirling vortex where time stands still. You see your friends and family moving through life at warp speed while all you can do is sit. And wait. Sit and wait to heal, sit and wait for results, sit and wait on life. You can't help but think that there are so many other places that you would rather be, so many other things you would rather be doing, with people other than doctors and nurses. But, this is where it gets silly. In order to move past cancer, or any kind of life altering event, you have to wait. You have to wait for time to take it's course and to make things better. If all we ever got was a quick fix, there would be a lot of broken people in this world. At the end of the day, what I have realized is that waiting makes us stronger people. There is a reason why we don't always get the answers right away. Answers change based on variables. If my oncologist prescribed a treatment for me right off the bat, without knowing all the variables, I could be sitting here right now, typing this from a hospital bed, with no hair, and probably wanting to puke from a toxic cocktail. Instead, he waited until he had all the results, and now all I have to do is pop a little pill every day for the next 5 years.

So, I am yet again going to offer some advice. Wait. Be patient. Know that things have to happen a certain way. Know that your path has already been laid out, and be okay with following it, without getting sidetracked. Trust in your internal compass. Listen to what people have to say, even if you don't like what you are hearing. If you find that you can't wait or that it's too hard to sit and be quiet in a doctors office here are some things that you can do to help pass the time:

1) Make a playlist on your ipod: This really helped me. I called my playlist Slice and Dice, and it's full of angsty, screamy music that makes me feel better for some strange reason. Sound Effects and Overdramatics by The Used is one of my favorites.

2) Bring a really good book: Lose yourself in a story that has nothing to do with your current situation. The funnier the book, the better. It will make you laugh out loud in waiting rooms, which will help to ease your mood and make you less irritated. I suggest anything by Christopher Moore. Try A Dirty Job or Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal.

3) Take a good look around the waiting room and make up stories about the people who are sharing it with you. Make the stories super dramatic, like something from a really cheesy soap opera. This is fun when you have someone with you who can help feed you ideas and scenarios.

4) Trashy magazines are you best friend. It's very comforting to see other people's drama, other than your own. Us Weekly and Star are both excellent. I quite personally get excited when I see any of the cast members of Teen Mom on the covers!

5) Two words: Travel Scrabble. I wish I had thought of this sooner, as it would have saved me a lot of frustrated hours of waiting, although, I doubt anyone would have played with me seeing as how I have a rather large vocabulary.

6) Make 'friends' with other patients, or bring a friend with you: I was once talking to another survivor, and he told me and some friends a story about how he was just feeling super lousy one day during his treatment. Like, head in a bucket puking, while sitting in a wheelchair lousy. He said that he then overheard a conversation his mother was having with a man who's life seemed much worse than his own, and it made him feel better. I know that sounds harsh, but keep this in mind. There is always someone out there who is having a worse day than you. You might just be the person that they talk to in a waiting room, that will brighten their day and make things seem a little less bleak. If you choose to bring a friend with you, make sure that they a) know what they are getting themselves into (going to the doctor is hard enough, let alone going to see an appointment dealing with cancer), and b) make sure that they can make you laugh. Laughter always works.

7) Plan the perfect murder/crime: Kind of creepy I know, but oddly comforting. One of my parents is in the law enforcement business and it's always fun to sit and talk about what could plausibly happen, and how to commit the perfect crime.

So, take these tips and run with it. As for me, I am going to continue to practice patience, and hopefully, it will make me a better person.

xoxo
Leah

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The 3D Image of Your Gestating Fetus is Creepy



Now, I get that it's exciting when people are pregnant and having kids and such things. I mean, really, it's pretty amazing if you ask me, that whole creating a new life thing. But let's get one thing straight. You can be as excited as you want. You can share all your joys and stories of swollen ankles and gross food cravings with the world if you like, but please, draw the line at sharing those creepy 3D images of your gestating fetus with the world.

Babies in utero look like tadpoles. Tiny, creepy, frogish looking things. I don't need to see that. It only reminds me of my mind numbing fear of reptiles and amphibians. Nor to do I need to see the walls of your uterus. I know that you are excited about the first few photo's of your unborn child, and want to share your excitement with humanity, but really, it's gross. I can guarantee you that no matter how excited people pretend to be when you pull these images up on your phone, out from your wallet, or post them to your facebook, they are actually horrified. They are horrified because you have exposed them to your innards. If I wanted to see what those look like, I would have taken a gross anatomy class in university and not have gone into history. And let's get real. Half the time, you can't even tell what it is you are supposed to be looking at, and believe me, I really don't need you to explain to me where it's hands are, or what the sex of your baby is. If I wanted to know those things, I would ask, and not to see a picture. Leave the pictures for once your kid is born. Leave them for when your kid actually looks like a human being (I am a firm believer that newborn babies look like monkeys...evolution indeed!). Depsite what everyone will tell you, it's not beatiful. It is the farthest thing from beautiful imaginable. It looks like something from the movie Aliens. Not cool.

I have been told that it's a completely different story when it's your own unborn child, but I am a long way off from that. I can tell you right now, that if and when I do have children, I most certainly will not be proudly displaying a creepy picture of my unborn child. First impressions are important, and I, a) don't want people to prematurely judge my child(they can grow up and be judged accordingly), and b) see my insides...it's really just a common courtesy. So please, spare us the pictures of your unborn child, especially when they are in 3D. I didn't like Avatar in 3D and I can guarantee that I don't like your pictures. I would rather see your child when it's at least cute and has been born, and when I can't see your insides. People will thank you for this and won't look at your child as if it is a creature from another planet.

xoxo
Leah
(Photo by Kate Beaton of Hark, A Vagrant)

Monday, 8 August 2011

"There is no friend as loyal as a book": I am a Bibliophile




I love to read. Perhaps it's because I like the escapism that books provide me, or perhaps it's the academic in me. Either way I love to just sit and get lost in a good story, I love to be challenged by something that is complex, and I love that I can always count on books to give me what I need. I can learn anything as long as I can read it. I think that in the extremely technological world of today people have lost their appreciation for books. You will never see me holding a Kindle, iPad, or any other e-reader. There is just something so special and magical about being able to hold a book, to hear the spine crack as it's opened, to smell that musty, papery smell. I love old books. I love when the pages are so old and dry that they crumble to dust in your hands.

Despite the fact that I should really be studying non-stop for the upcoming LSAT test that I am writing in October, I have found myself reading books alongside my LSAT study books. Really I should be playing logic games, or practicing my logical reasoning, but at the end of the day, I need something to take my mind off of the looming monstrosity that is the LSAT. So, I have put together a small list of books that I am currently reading (and yes, I am reading several at once).

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden
This is "a concise guide to making the most of yourself- a pocked 'bible' for the talented and timid to make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible". It's amazing. It will change the way you approach projects and jobs, and anything really. I highly recommend this book!

Lunch In Paris by Elizabeth Bard
A memoir about a young American woman who goes to Paris for a weekend visit and never leaves. There are recipes for french food at the end of each chapter. I am particularly excited to practice my non-existent domestic skills and make Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake: the name sounds kind of gross, but the recipe and description sound delicious).

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha
This book celebrates the little things in this world that are awesome. Examples include: popping bubble wrap, hitting every green light in a row, finding money in your pocket, and sweatpants. It's one of those books that you can just pick up every now and again, flip to a random page, and find something, well, awesome. Pasricha also has a website that you should visit, www.1000awesomethings.com

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel By David Levithan
A nameless narrator constructs the story of his relationship as a dictionary. It's amazing, and a fast read. It was something that I needed to read right now. If I can't convince you, then this quote will:
"Basis, n:
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself. If the moment doesn't pass, that's it--you're done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it's even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover's face"

Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525-1700 by Keith Wrightson and David Levine
I have read this book probably about a hundred time throughout the course of my academic career, and I learn something new about early modern English society every time I re-read it. It is one of those books that just grips me! As someone who loves 16th century English social policy, this book provides a unique and influential analysis of poor relief, social structure, economics, the impact of the reformation, and much more, all within the context of a small Essex parish. It is a must read for anyone who wishes to know more about early modern England. Although, I should warn you. It's not popular history, and by popular history, I mean something you can pick up on the book shelves of your local bookstore. It's not an easy read, and it's target audience are academics, and students of history.

The Elizabethan Underworld by Harman, Greene, Dekker & Others, Edited by A.V. Judges
This is probably the most amazing book that I own. I was recently perusing an antique bookstore with my favorite Ginger, when I stumbled upon this. It's an early modern English historians dream come true. And I own it! My excitement further increased when I got it home, opened it up and saw that this collection included works by John Awdeley, Thomas Harman, and Robert Greene (all writing 16th century popular literature). I was so excited that this tome includes The Fraternity of Vagabonds by Awdeley, that I abruptly stopped talking to my mum, mid-sentence, and lost myself in the language of a time long forgotton (but not by me or my history friends). This book is a collection of Tudor and Early Stuart tracts and ballads telling of the lives and misdoings of vagabonds, thieves, rogues and cozeners, and giving some account of the operation of the criminal law. How could I not love and be excited about this!? It's like Christmas!

Also, while I am currently blogging about books, and my love for them, I will also share with you this awesome website, devoted to bringing books and fashion together. It's called Out of Print and their shirts often feature iconic and out of print book covers. Not only is Out of Print devoted to enriching the world of fashion through literature, but with the purchase of any shirt, they will donate a book to a community in need. If you want to know more about Out of Print go to www.outofprintclothing.com. My personal favorite is the Pride and Prejudice woman's v-neck.

I know that reading and books aren't for everyone, and that many people believe that they could be doing better things with their time, but I strongly encourage everyone to find a book, any book and just sit and read. Give reading a chance.

xoxo
Leah

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Big C, Part I: Mastectomy Fashions are Ugly



Today's topic touches on something near and dear to my new boobs. I spent part of my afternoon at the Cross Cancer Institute. I have spent a good deal of time in and out of hospitals and doctors offices over the past two years, and there is one constant at every place: the hospital gowns. They are terrible. Always too big, too long, made of bad, itchy material, and more often than not have some kind of nondescript stain adorning them. Basically, you can't work with a hospital gown. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING will make it look more fashionable. Sure you can try and spice it up, but at the end of the day it's still gross. Today, to add a bit of sunshine, I wore my 4 inch, yellow lemon stick wedges from Anthropologie, and I am glad I did because the gown was so huge that it would have dragged on the ground. Fashion has always been important to me, and being diagnosed with cancer has only fueled my love, and made me consider what people with cancer can do to stay fashionable.

If there one thing that I have learned, it is that yes, you may have cancer, but that doesn’t make you any less fabulous. I’m serious. So what you had a mastectomy. Buy a new fabulous, lacy bra with matching underwear. Who cares if the only people who will see it is you and possibly your doctor. It will still make you feel like a normal person and not like a cancer patient. If you have to spend all day in a hospital gown, make sure you wear some completely and utterly fabulous shoes, preferrably ones that sparkle, and have the ability to potentially blind someone if looked at directly (I recommend a pair of glittery toms. Not only are they super comfortable and easy to take on and off, but they sparkle. And who doesn’t love that!?). People will advertise things like “mastectomy fashion gowns”, that have the ability to hold drains discretely and that gives you easy access to bandages. Don’t do it! Don’t buy them! Hospital gowns are gross enough, and no amount of colorful prints or a handy pocket will make them better. Those drains, they can be pinned to the waistband of pajama pants. Seriously, those mastectomy fashions are ugly. Do yourself a favor and go out and spend money of some red or pink, or even leopard print (which is fabulous!) satin or silk pajamas. The button up shirt still gives you easy access, and they don’t make you look like you are wearing an oversized potato sack.

Embrace your scars. I have a giant scar on my back from where they removed a muscle and skin to rebuild my boob. I love it. It is part of who I am. Plus, bigger scars make for better stories. I know that after I was sufficiently healed I was worried about what guys would think of my scars. I was self conscious, more so than usual. If someone tells you that they are not and have never been self conscious about their bodies, they’re lying. Everyone, at some point in their life has been self conscious. I was super self conscious before I got cancer. I was extra conservative, and was super uncomfortable wearing low necked shirts, or even going braless. Having cancer really does wonders for this. Conservatism flies out the window. Everyone and their dog will have seen you at least partially naked at some point. After cancer, the only thing I was self conscious of was whether or not guys would be weirded out with the fact that one of my boobs is completely and utterly fake. But then I remembered, what guy doesn’t like fake boobs?! That being said, embrace your new body. Wear a backless dress, and when someone asks you what happened or how you got your scars, you either tell the truth, or play it up. That’s your choice.

Cancer doesn't mean you can't be awesome, and sassy and fabulous. Sure you can show up to your appointments in sweatpants, not having showered, with your unwashed hair shoved up in a ponytail, and you will have days when that is all you want to wear, but believe me, if you dress up to see your doctor, you will feel better. Don't let cancer take your personal sense of fashion and style away. So, here is my advice, dress up, put on some makeup, even if you normally don't, and walk into whatever hospital or doctors office you are going to, and own the place. Believe that you are the most beautiful, best dressed, most badass cancer patient out there, and you will feel better. You will win.

xoxo
Leah

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

It's Like a Pitbull vs. A Chihuahua

I sometimes forget how tiny I really am. Maybe that's because I'm used to it. I know from talking to people that they also forget how short/tiny/small/pocketsized I am, that is until we are standing beside each other and then they realize their mistake. I remember one time I had been talking on the phone with a designer or someone with similar skills about a project that they were working on for me, and we set up a meeting to discuss parameters. Upon meeting and getting past the pleasantries and what was expected of this project they turned to me and said, "you sound taller on the phone". How someone can sound taller is beyond me, but no word of a lie, that was said to me. Most of my friends are significantly taller than I am and I think that they have gotten used to it, and possibly forgotten how tiny I am. Like I said, sometimes I even forget, but there are always those times that I am reminded of the fact that I am 5'0 tall. Like when I go to buy pants. I love buying those nice, expensive pairs of jeans (7 for All Mankind, Rock & Republic, Citizens of Humanity, Joe's, etc), however I often wonder what's the point of paying so much for them when I end up hemming a good 7 inches off the legs. That's like at least $100 worth of denim right there! I am also reminded of my smallness when I drive. When I was 16 and had my very first car, a green 1996 Saturn that I nicknamed the Yeti (mostly because of the seat covers my dad put on it), I had to sit on a pillow in order to see over the steering wheel. My seat was so close to the steering wheel that it was dangerous and could have possibly beheaded me if the airbags had gone off. I just reached the pedals. Sure, I am also reminded by people who love to make short jokes, and believe me, I have heard every one out there. It's a fact of my life that I have learned to live with.

There are some occasions that really bring the reality of my smallness home, and last night at soccer was one of those occasions. Despite the fact that I am 5'0 and about 102lbs soaking wet, I can be pretty aggressive. I don't like to be pushed around, but then again, I don't think anyone does. I used to be far more aggressive than I am now, but every now and again, when the stars are aligned and the circumstances are just right, the old Leah comes out to play. I was defending against a player who was easily 7 inches taller and about 50lbs heavier than I am. She had the ball and I didn't want to let her turn so she could take it up field, so I was a little pushy from behind. She then proceeded to ELBOW me in the face, and on a normal person it would have been in the chest, but on me, it was my face, and I like to keep that semi-attractive thank you very much. It was rather uncalled for if you ask me. Using a couple choice words, which may or may not have been explicit, I told her to watch her elbow. What happened next is a bit of a blur. She turned and started yelling obscenities at me, and I gave them right back (not necessarily one of my finer moments). F-bombs were flying and we were just screaming at each other. If I was a gangsta the phrase I would use to describe what happened is, "She was all up in my grill, yo!". It ended with her telling me "if you can't take it, don't dish it out", to which I responded,"just because you have substantial weight doesn't mean you need to throw it around". A bit uncalled for? Maybe. But with the way things were going it looked like things were going to get physical, and I can tell you in all certainty, that if she had touched me, I would have clocked her in the face. No word of a lie. I know for a fact that if it came down to blows, I would have lost, but as long as I had gotten that one good hit in, I would take whatever came my way. However, it didn't get physical, as the ref, who had been standing there with a bemused expression on his face, finally decided to get the game going again. I was taken off 5 minutes later. (I really hope you all have an amazing mental picture of this happening. From what I am told, it was very amusing to watch.)

Perhaps me forgetting how small I am is a bad thing, because I often underestimate my opponent. Should I have egged her on? Probably not, but again, I forgot. It's like trying to watch a Chihuahua fight a Pitbull. It's kind of cute and amusing at first, and then it gets a little out of hand, and the chihuahua gets hurt if someone doesn't step in. I guess what I am saying is that my bark is worse than my bite, but I am willing to bite if necessary? Maybe? All I know is that a couple of my team mates told me that they would have had my back, which is nice. They also told me it was really funny to watch. So, I guess as long as I provided some kind of entertainment my job is done? Maybe? Maybe I should learn to be more like Gandhi. Doubtful...

xoxo
Leah

Monday, 1 August 2011

Fact: Watching Criminal Minds Before Bed is a Bad Life Choice

So, last night, while waiting for the new episode of True Blood to hit the interweb, I decided that it would be a good idea to watch Criminal Minds before bed. Not a good life choice. As someone with an already over active imagination, I should have known that watching a show about sociopathic, homicidal maniac serial killers (and yes, I realize that is rather redundant statment) would only serve to fuel the imaginative flames that is my mind. Instead of being able to crawl into my giant bed, covered in blue ruffles, and snuggle down into my blankets and float blissfully off to sleep, to dream of shoes, and polka dots and pretty things and puppy dogs, I obsessively checked, and then double checked all the doors and windows of my house, opened my closet no less than 3 times along with the furnace room to see if there were any killers lurking in the shadows. I then proceeded to toss and turn waiting for sleep, and when I was finally able to drift off into blissful slumber, I was awakened by every sound and shift and creek that my house made. The air conditioning came on and in my screwed up, paranoid little mind, it was an arsonist setting fire to my house, which is a tinderbox filled with furniture and other things that are highly flammable. Not only was I not smart in watching Criminal before beds, but I watched several. All excellent, yet bad at the exact same time. Bad because it kept me awake. The last one i watched was about this rather prolific serial killer who was killing in LA during rolling blackouts, and he would always leave one person alive. Seriously, first of all, it was like the Night Stalker all over again, second, it makes me think that LA is NOT a good place, and third, if I was worried about being murdered in my bed, this was not a good episode to watch.

What makes matter worse is the creepy music. It always get stuck in my head and makes me anxious. It's always some kind of creepy piano chord, or a heavy bass line of some kind that conveys the message that everything is not okay. As soon as you hear music like that, you know, something bad is going to happen like someone dies. A horrible, bloody, terrible death. Which then fills me with fodder for my nightmares and subsequent sleepless night. One of the only things that makes Criminal Minds less scary and anxiety filled for me is that my celebrity crush is on the show. Matthew Gray Gubbler. Cute in a nerdy way, plus his character on the show is a genius with an eidetic memory. Smart is attractive.

A word to the wise: if you have a ridiculously overactive imagination, and are prone to bits of paranoia as a result of aforementioned overactive imagination, don't watch Criminal Minds before bed. It's a poor life choice, that will leave you tired, and with dark, puffy circles under your eyes.

xoxo
Leah