I lived in NYC on 9/11

I lived in NYC on 9/11

I never felt more American than I did during the weeks after 9/11.

It wasn't uncommon for someone to just start crying on the subway (ok that person was often me) but rather than look away, a lady next would gently squeeze a shoulder and the gentleman seated nearby would nod his head in solidarity.

Living through 9/11 in New York City so shortly after I moved there was like being at a friend's house during a family crisis. I was horrified, felt completely out of place and wanted to do anything I could possibly do to help the many grieving people in the city and the tri-state area.

I had no idea how to provide comfort to the many people in mourning and in shock. I still didn't know how to order a bagel on a Sunday morning without irritating the entire line behind me. I was still a rookie west coaster installing my first air conditioner from PC Richards. I was still so new I got Penn Station and Port Authority mixed up. 

All I could think about was how many people didn't come home. I was haunted by that. Imagining them getting ready for their work day, deciding what to wear, taking the train or driving in, thinking it was a regular day.

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I went to Costa Rica alone

I went to Costa Rica alone

I signed a lease for an apartment in New York City without ever stepping foot in it. It was a fantastic studio on 100th and Broadway, with a "nook" for the bed. My Seattle friends lived next door and brokered the deal for me.

My friend said "take the apartment, they are harder to find in NYC than a job."

This was May, 2001.

I took the apartment while still in Seattle. A huge leap of faith into the unknown, even for me.

I shipped my stuff the cheapest way possible which meant it wouldn't arrive for nearly a month.

I had a decent amount of money saved up so I decided to fly to NYC, get as organized as possible, and then use miles to fly to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks.

By myself. With zero plans.

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I was one of the guys

I was one of the guys

As soon as I graduated from Bastyr, I got a full-time job at a "dot com" start-up. 

I worked in Operations and Human Resources. After being in college and grad school for nine years, I was baffled by the concept of ending my work day at 5pm. So, of course, I started my first food business.

But my days were devoted to these hunks. The owners of the company are some of the smartest, most humble people I've ever had the pleasure to work for, even after all these years. 

They took hiring seriously.

And...most of the people they hired happened to be cute dudes.

It was a fucking blast.

Of course I worked under these conditions AFTER I DECLARED A BREAK FROM DUDES FOR AWHILE.

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I've always been a mama

I've always been a mama

If I'm going to continue telling my story, especially this next chapter of my life, I have to provide some context. 

I have no memory of being a kid without some other kid I was caring for one way or another.

When we moved from Ravenna to Redmond when I was five years old, my sister and I shared a room. She was about one years old. She was a really sweet baby. The kind with rosy cheeks and always smiling. 

My four cousins lived across the street in our new Redmond house. I would live there for eight years. 

In this photo, it's me, my brother Andy, in the top row and then Tony (cuz), Alex (cuz), Laura (sister), and Danny (cuz). My youngest cousin, Sonya wasn't born yet and Alex was a baby so I must have been around 9 or 10 years old. 

I knew how to pin a cloth diaper without poking

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I was a disco angel

I was a disco angel

The late nineties was a good time in my life. You can tell just by looking at this photo how much healthier and happier I was than when I was  younger and on prednisone.

I was a "disco angel" that year for Halloween and can't remember what Amy was! I remember how much I loved working on the halo and dress. This was a very creative period in my life. 

And now, I believe creativity is a huge part of my recovery.

[WARNING if you're sick - sensitive topic coming up] I don't want to upset people but this next topic is a big part of who I am and how I ended up where I am so I'm going to share. 

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I went to grad school

I went to grad school

I lived out a backpack for so long, I couldn't imagine what was stored in the boxes stacked at my dad's warehouse.

I always wonder that when I come home from a trip. Why do I need to so much crap? I think one of many reasons I love to travel is that I'm not overwhelmed with so much "stuff" and decisions on what to wear.

Is there data on whether having too much crap is linked to *some* of the anxiety in this country? I swear it's part of it. 

One of the best things about being home was, of course, seeing my loved ones again. This photo is with my best friend, Megan. I think we are celebrating one of our birthdays here. We are exactly one month apart and have been friends since the second grade. We've seen each other through a lot of shit. We talk all the time but

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I visited concentration camps in Poland

I visited concentration camps in Poland

There is only one concentration camp in Poland that was not razed by the Nazis before they took off. It's called Majdanek and is located in Lublin. It's much less visited than Auschwitz and harder to get to but I made the trek anyway, even with my heavy backpack.

To get to Lublin, I had to write down the name of the concentration camp and Lublin on a piece of paper and hand it to the person at the train ticket counter because I didn't speak any Polish. She handed the ticket to me and wrote down the number of the platform where I should wait. When I was on the train, I showed a man my ticket and we used charades to communicate. He held up two fingers to explain I should get off in two stops.

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He wanted to buy me

He wanted to buy me

He wanted to purchase me and take me home to his family. I was traveling with two guys so I wasn't too worried that something bad would happen. But it was still unsettling to have our driver in Jordan ask over and over again if he could "buy" me from my friends.

My face in the photo says it all. Super irritated. The two women in the truck were Australian nurses that were working in Saudi Arabia. They made bank and didn't have to pay taxes. But they said the boredom of being stuck in their expats compound meant they were spending all their savings traveling outside of SA in order to stay sane. I don't know why I can remember this with such detail but can't remember if I took my medicine five minutes ago.

I don't mean any disrespect to the Bedouin culture.

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I worked on a kibbutz

I worked on a kibbutz

They were screaming at each other in Hebrew. My head swung back and forth between them, my eyes wide. Two minutes on the job and I was already questioning my judgment committing to working on a kibbutz in Israel. 

Yosie, the man I'm standing with in the photo ran the "meat" side of the kitchen. My boss Tzila ran the "dairy" side of the kosher kitchen. I was living on a religious kibbutz in between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. My job six days a week preparing dairy meals served at breakfast and the evening for around 800 kibbutz members.

I was very nervous on the first day of the job as I watched the two head chefs hollering at each other with such intensity. I couldn't help but whisper to Tzila later, "what were you fighting about?"

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I lived in Lake Placid

I lived in Lake Placid

I became a waitress at the Lake Placid Manor where I met a woman my age who was already a former pot grower trying to avoid the law, a tough but sweet Russian couple, and Reggie the line cook! He was kind but getting older and hit the bottle too much. I had to pick his hair out of the plates I was serving more than once. It was a motley crew and an eye-opening experience for a sheltered Jewish girl from the west coast.

I hated waitressing. Although I would later work in the culinary field, this was my first paid job in food service. I worked the day shift which, of course, was much shittier tips than the fine dining evening one. I didn't have the knack for getting good

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I so weird

I so weird

According to family lore, I used to say "Mommy I weird?" when I was around two years old. Somehow I sensed I was different even then.

Fortunately for me, I've been lucky enough to find kindred spirits along the way who not only didn't mind my weirdness but encourage it.

This photo is from college. I can't remember the details around this photo but I don't think it was Halloween -  my college roommate Shannon and our gang always wore much more elaborate costumes than this. It's quite likely we painted our faces for no reason at all. 

We were weird like that. 

One of the reasons I chose

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I hate the drug prednisone

I hate the drug prednisone

I hate prednisone. I hate it with a passion. I worked so damn hard in my twenties to heal the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) because I desperately wanted off that drug.

It was partly due to vanity - you can see how puffy my face is while on the medication in my early twenties - it also caused other side effects. Horrible night sweats that had me going through four t-shirts per night. Hyperactivity. Depression. Creepy, weird dreams. Distortion of my body. Acne, which isn't apparent in this photo but I often had it.

I've never had my bones tested out of fear that they will tell me I have 90 year old brittle bones. Prednisone isn't good for the bones.

I was on oral prednisone, which is a hard-core steroid

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I like being aggressive

I like being aggressive

I liked being an athlete. I always felt comfortable in athletic gear - and still do. On the field, there were specific rules to follow, structured chaos, and the ebb and flow of organized team work. It was also somewhere I could let my Alpha Female Flag fly free. 

I hadn't thought about it before but the goal of this writing project was to randomly choose a photo from a large pile and write whatever comes out. And here it is.

During sports, I could be aggressive, bossy, and tough without anyone thinking I was "weird." I wasn't very skilled at soccer. I had no fancy footwork techniques and was often stuck as fullback or sweeper since I can kick with both my left and right foot. I think I scored one goal in all of high school. 

But I was fast. And I wasn't afraid to run straight toward an opponent

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I felt like an alien

I felt like an alien

This photo represents exactly how I feel inside and have felt inside my entire life.

Like an alien. A dorky, awkward adolescent with antennas that everyone can see.

I feel a lot more like this girl than I do the woman I posted yesterday, all dressed up and socially acceptable according to American cultural standards!

I know I'm not the only one that gets locked into a certain perspective of ourselves that carry through life, even when we've outgrown it years before.

The challenge of trying to find our authentic selves

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I was miserable when I was hot

I was miserable when I was hot

I was miserable in my life when this photo was taken.

I wouldn’t admit it to myself or to anyone else at the time.

The misery stemmed from so many things. I wasn’t doing any real work on myself (although not for lack of trying, I couldn’t afford a therapist in New York City where insurance rarely covered the good ones who charged $200 per hour).

My fears around intimacy had me isolating more and more until most of my relationships were distant or untended.

I buried myself in my work instead of facing my uncomfortable emotions like anxiety and depression.

Looking back, I think a lot of that anxiety and depression stemmed from me feeling like I didn’t belong. 

That I was misfit for being a "pretty" girl who didn't want to get married.

That I felt annoyed when I was objectified when I did dress up and go out.

That I was strange for voicing my irritation about how women were treated in our culture.

I can't remember what I was thinking when this photo was taken right before my sister's wedding. But I'm sure it had

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I lost another organ

I lost another organ

I've been dehydrating faster than usual lately. I know why. I didn't want to tell you. The stress from fighting for the ACA was too much for my barely working adrenal glands - which is a tiny but crucial organ that is part of the endocrine (hormone) system. Whatever function I had left, is likely gone. I started a drug called fluticasone last week, which I think has been working. It's acting in place of a hormone called aldosterone which my adrenals should be making, but can not anymore. 

Aldosterone is in charge of reabsorbing fluids (you know when you pee a lot when you drink booze? It's because aldosterone stops working, hence the dehydration after a night of drinking.) The bummer isn't just that the drug has a lot of side effects (which thankfully I haven't noticed...yet) but I'll have to be on it forever. It's replacing my adrenal function now along with the hydrocortisone and DHEA I've been on for 6 months. This makes me sad. I essentially lost another organ.

In the mean time, while waiting for this drug to kick in and praying it works, my prescription for home fluids is now ELEVEN LITERS per week.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

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I don't want to be invisible

I've always been ashamed of the fact that I wanted so desperately to be heard. It's why I've been so obsessed with becoming a writer my entire life. An urge I could not stifle.

I mistook it for ambition for many years, an easy thing to do when living in New York City. And for awhile, I let the ambition dictate my actions. I worked from a place of ego. Which I don't recommend. It just made me sick.

It's hard to miss the theme of my posts these past weeks about being "seen" and "heard." Now that the dust has somewhat settled, I'm thinking back on my own words. I often release a post without much self-reflection. Not always, but sometimes I write fast and furious, push "post" before I even understand what it is that I said to you.

I still haven't listened to the video from the Town Hall. I had no speech planned that day. I just let the words fall out. Whatever they were, they weren't meant for me anyway.

Now, I lay in my bed on a gorgeous Sunday.

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Death sounds easier

Death sounds easier

WARNING: This post may not be for everyone because I discuss difficult topics like death and suicide. If you are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, I URGE you, please, to seek professional help, tell someone you're struggling, be honest about your pain. 

I know, I know, this title sounds super scary IF you're able-bodied. Many sick peeps would simply say "yup."

Let me explain before the word "death" triggers a totally negative connotation.

Because frankly, I'm tired of feeling afraid to discuss Death and even, Suicide in our culture.

If we can't talk about them, how do we work through our feelings about them?

That I'd like to discuss.

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I'll never be the same

We all do it.

Leave clothes in our closet that we don't wear anymore. 

I lived in tiny apartments in Manhattan for so many years AND I've been a gypsy so I'm usually good at getting rid of them.

Lately, I've been tormented by the clothes hanging in my closet from before my March 2014 surgery. 

Clothes I brought from San Diego via New York. They've lived in three cities. Even with my curating skills, I wouldn't get rid of them.

Many were "office" clothes, button downs, work skirts, dresses for business meetings. Some were "going out" clothes.

I know that for most people that doesn't seem so weird to hang onto old clothes. 

But for me, this has been a much more significant act of denial.

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This is why I'm in pain

This is why I'm in pain

No, I'm not pregnant. I know that would be a much sweeter reason for this photo. But physically impossible for me at this point.

I promised you more truth about my condition. I know it's hard for you to imagine why I'm in pain. Or why I can't move food through my intestines. Or why I have to be home a lot or cancel last minute. I'm finally going to explain. 

I took this photo last week after I broke several of my own Food Rules. I ate fish after 10pm along with some avocado and coconut ice cream. My Food Rules are based on what causes problems and what doesn't - although I'm constantly making refinements and tweaking things as I go along and by no means an expert on my own condition yet. Far from it. I just know the bare minimum of keeping myself alive and minimizing pain.

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