Nov 12, 2014

Green Week, Day 4

But Jen, it's only Wednesday. Yes, I know. I started "Green Week" on Sunday, so today is day four. So far, I've seen a bigger improvement than on any of the antacids I've taken, double strength or otherwise. 

I've been starting the day with a shot of wheatgrass and a green juice. The wheatgrass isn't getting any easier to get down. In fact, yesterday it wasn't all juice, there were still pieces of grass. Blech. But, if it works, I'm in. The green juice isn't so bad...except for yesterday when I was convinced to throw a shot of wheatgrass in it. Otherwise, I'm pretty down with spirulina.

I've also been looking at alkaline versus acidic foods and following (as close as possible) an 80/20 diet (80% alkaline/20% acidic). It's only been four days, but the difference is noticeable. The prescriptions didn't make a dent. Food really is the answer. 

That and managing stress. I'm becoming more tuned into when I become anxious, even when it's just a tiny bit. My body responds right away which allows me to notice and react and necessary steps to not let it grow. I'm able to ask myself, "Why am I feeling this way? Is it a real issue or imagined? What can I do right now to alleviate some of the stress?"

This is four days in. I'm excited to see what a week, two weeks and even a month of 80/20 eating does for me!

Nov 10, 2014

Dr. Jen is Taking Charge

People have asked me my whole life how I stay so skinny. I always joked and answered, "Malnutrition." But really, I may not have been completely wrong in that statement. After dealing with years of stomach problems that my doctor feels can only be solved by taking a pill that may cause me to have "involuntary tongue movements," I'm taking a good look at what I'm putting into my body. 

I've eaten like a five-year-old pretty much until I was 31. I didn't want to try anything new and if it was green, dear god, get it away from me. When I started suffering from agonizing stomach pains due to stress, I started making some changes. But once my belly was better, my old eating habits came back quickly. 

Over the next few years, I slowly got more and more into yoga and more aware of the food I was eating. I started trying things—even salad! I thought I had been doing well at balancing my food intake, with the exception of the ridiculous amount of ice cream I ate. But hey, I was working out a lot, so it was okay right?

Well, sprinkle in a lot of stress over a short amount of time and I found myself battling heartburn. Every day. Every day for three months. I tried every over-the-counter remedy. Nothing was helping. So I started experimenting. I cut out dairy. Overall I felt better, I was even able to run some because the inflammation in my knees was going down. Great! But my stomach was still pissed. And it was only getting worse. 

After an endoscopy and no real issues, my doctor landed on telling me to double both of the meds he prescribed me for a week. If that didn't work, he'd put me on a med that would help regulate the muscles in my esophagus and potentially cause several muscle spasms, including uncontrollable tongue movements. I don't want that. 

I spent the weekend watching documentaries about juicing and reading about proper body pH, alkaline and acidic foods, and planning how I was going to eat as best I could for one week. That would include daily wheatgrass shots and focusing on alkaline foods to try to help balance my stomach...and my body. 

What bothers me is that my doctor doesn't seem to be interested in the root cause. He didn't recommend foods to eat, or ask deeper questions about my diet other than, "Do you drink coffee?" He just offered prescriptions—prescriptions that have side effects that I'd likely need to take more prescriptions for. 

So I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks spending some more time experimenting with food and taking in as much green as I can to see if it makes a difference. A shot of wheatgrass everyday certainly seems like a better option than having a spastic tongue. Let's see how it goes. 

Oct 17, 2014

When Life Punches You in the Face, Punch It Back

I am definitely one of those people who, when one thing goes wrong, it triggers a whole series of events that leave me feeling like I'm buried under a ton of bricks. Like the Universe pulled the wrong Jenga piece and they all just toppled on me. For those of you "when it rains it pours" people out there, you know what I'm talking about. 

This has been a banner week of "What the fuck is happening?" And it all just culminated with me witnessing a cat get run over by a car. Seriously. "This can't be happening," I thought as I watched her lift her dying head up, screaming in pain. 

As I stood there wondering what evil spirit is making all this shit happen around me and what I could do to help the cat, a man got out of his car, stopped traffic and ran into the road to pick up the dying cat. As he carried the cat's limp body to the sidewalk, I stood there to meet him, amazed that he did what I wanted to do but was too stuck trying to figure out if I actually should. 

He put her shaking body down on the ground and we stayed with her, petting her little paws until she passed. The stranger/cat superman said he would come back and bury her since the cops told me they would just call DPW for "removal".

I called my boyfriend as I walked away and asked him how I could get rid of this black cloud over me. He said that maybe we need to start remembering to focus on the positive. I reminded him that doing that is kind of hard when I'd just watched a cat get run over. 

But he's right. It's so easy to get caught up in the bad and let yourself mentally spiral into the negative. Especially weeks like this where the bad is pretty large and constantly punching you in the face. But there is good.

  • There's the guy who jumped out in traffic to keep any more cars from hitting that poor cat. I mean, that's pretty freaking awesome. It didn't even occur to me NOT to do that, where as I was standing on the side of the road still trying to figure out what to do.
  • There's my boyfriend who can stick with me through the good times and the bad. That in and of itself is a great thing. And I've done the same for him. Getting through the bad moments really does make the good ones much sweeter. 
  • There's the wonderful lunch with my father yesterday, giving me some quality Daddy/daughter time in. Those moments are too rare and I cherish them. 
  • There are my friends who constantly offer support, wine and exercise company. And they don't even think twice when I say, "I want to sage my apartment to get rid of the badness." They just show up with sage. I love them. 
Life can constantly remind us that it's hard. Sometimes we forget to fight back and remember that there is good. But it's a fight worth having, because if we give up, what's left?

Oct 7, 2014

Six Minutes Going Back

Music can trigger memories in a very powerful way. Studies show that music memory is, at least in part, stored differently in the brain than regular memory. This is a great thing for me because while my regular memory is constantly failing me, I can generally tell you exactly what was going on in my life when a particular song was popular on the radio. Well, it's a great thing most of the time.

This weekend I was in the car driving down Florida's Turnpike on my way to Coco Beach. Pearl Jam's Alive came on and I turned it up, because I like that song...right? The first few notes put me back into my black combat boots (knock offs, of course), plaid button-up shirt, bushy eyebrows and that feeling of trying to fit in, but never quite getting it right. 

Pearl Jam's Ten was one of my first cd's and I still remember being amazed at the sound quality compared to my cassettes and records. Unexpectedly, I started to feel sad. Then the memories starting rolling in of my step-mother.

"...Is something wrong, she said. Well of course there is, you're still alive, she said. Oh, and do I deserve to be? Is that the question? And if so, who answers?

She used to constantly let me know how much she did not love me or want me in the house. She claimed the rest of the family felt the same. "But what are you going to do?" she'd ask. "Your mother doesn't want you. We don't want you. Where would you go?"

The music never seemed loud enough to drown her out. I ended up being that angst-y kid with the volume all the way up, which was more for practicality than general teenage dissension. The music became an answer to her attacks. Songs like Ugly Kid Joe's I Hate Everything About You or Tori Amos' Waitress (though Tori came a few years later) became my way of fighting back from behind closed doors, and wailing on the piano became my way of getting it out of my system. 

As the song continued, so did the memories...the time I found out she read my diary and being held back by my boyfriend so I wouldn't attack her, and when she read it to her family late night on the phone, and when she made photocopies; all the verbal assaults from the kitchen and outside my door when she reached that magical point of inebriation where it became the night's mission to try to destroy me; when I was told to not try to fight her because she would probably just kill me. 

I tried to snap myself out of it through the six minutes of the song but the memories were too strong and kept pulling me back in. I started to wonder if I really even did like this song. But as I looked out the window as the scenery rolled by and I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this was all a long time ago and a lot of these demons have been buried, including her. And I'm still alive...

Sep 23, 2014

Finding My Place in His Place

So I moved into my boyfriend's place, which means it's not a new place that we've deemed as ours and are both starting fresh. It was his place, with his routines and his memories that I'm trying to figure out how to make ours without stepping on toes, taking over too much, or just confusing the hell out of him because nothing is where it used to be. I'm trying to figure out the best way to fit. 

This is hard to do—period—when one is moving into another person's place, but even harder when he's not even in the country. So I can't ask him what he thinks of the shelves being hung there or hanging family photos over there or putting the kitchen table just so. And that kind of sucks because I want him to feel at home in his home that is no longer just his home. 

Before he left for his five-week sojourn the place was in a rather unbearable state of chaos. There was a giant mound of things in the kitchen that had to be moved to storage and there was everything else—all over the place. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. I think even our stuff was frustrated. 

Now that I am starting to get settled and the apartment is pretty much only a hint of what it used to be, I wonder if he will like it. I can't imagine what it would be like if I went away for weeks and came home to an apartment that looks nothing like the one I left. I mean, I think it looks pretty nice, but that's because I did it. And hell, after living with mounds of stuff piled on other stuff, just having a bit of order would seem nice. But really, it looks nice.

I tried to find balance throughout the place between his things and mine. I imagined conversations with him about what his thoughts were on each piece and where they should go. I tried to free up space for his art supplies, which I know he was sorely missing before he left. I tried to get my always-too-large collection of knick-knacks up without taking over the walls and shelves. I think I only partially succeeded on that second one. 

But mostly I miss him and just want him to come home. To our home. And the rest can be figured out along the way.  

Sep 22, 2014

Today's Blog Post Brought to You by Incompetence and the Letter F

I've had my share of doctors visits. Actually I've had more than my share. I've probably had yours too. You're welcome. Anyway, I've met outstanding doctors and I've met those doctors where you think, "Well I guess someone had to graduate last in their class." And behind every great (or terrible) doctor is their office staff.

Lately these people have for the most part just made me shake my head. Maybe I shouldn't say lately, I should say again. Look, I'm not a genius and there's plenty I don't know, but I also don't work in a doctor's office. I write. But if you work in a doctors office, and are in charge of asking medical questions you should need to have some sort of semblance of medical knowledge.

Generally if you're at the doctor, something isn't quite right. When I'm in these situations I'm usually tense, nervous, sometimes a little sad, but mostly, I want to feel like I'm surrounded by competent people who are going to be able to help me. If I tell you I had a pituitary tumor, I feel like the person asking whether or not I've had any surgeries should know where the pituitary is. I'm not asking you know the function, just know that it's in the brain. It's kind of an important gland. 

But then my mind flashes to all those TV commercials about how you too can become a medical assistant in no time at all! Well it should take time! Let's get some basic anatomy in there. Perhaps some biology. Anyone can read a script and type in my answers. But I'm not paying out the ass for Obamacare and copays to have "anyone" interact with me when I'm waiting to find out what the fuck this lump is in my breast.

Also if you're going to ask, "Are you related to the Minchins?" You're going to need to be a little more specific because the answer would be, "Obviously.  It's my last name."

Sep 21, 2014

The End of an Era

Five years ago I moved to Hoboken. Today I moved out. I'm beyond happy to be moving, especially since I'm moving in with the boyfriend, but starting a new chapter is always bittersweet. 

As I stood in my empty apartment this morning, I looked around and the past five years played like a movie reel through my mind. There were countless happy times, some of the worst of my life and a smattering of drunk after parties. I've done yoga, thrown my back out moving an air conditioner, accidentally set my kitchen table on fire, worked from my fire escape, waited out two hurricanes, wrote my book, baked muffins for Thorton the squirrel, had friends from out of town, partied with my family, waded through grief, stayed up with the lights on all night afraid that aliens were in my apartment, called the cops on my neighbors, made friends with other neighbors, became a whiz at parallel parking, fostered new friendships, practiced for teacher training finals, learned how to collect unemployment, woke up at 2 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for "bottle night", had my heart broken, fell in love, came home as the sun was coming up, and just all around really got to know myself. 

My life has changed so much since I step foot in that third floor walk up. I think of all the five-year increments of my life, I grew and learned the most in Hoboken. I have a million fanastic memories and some amazing new friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life. For that I am eternally grateful. Closing my door for the last time today was hard. Change is hard; but change is good. 

the empty apartment