At 21, my knees are wrecked.
A ruptured ACL and partial MCL and meniscus tear when I was 14, the result of a bad pivot at Santa Clara University soccer camp. It shattered my dreams of playing soccer in college after it forced me to miss a season of high school.
Despite my half-hearted attempts at rehab–I was only 14, and distracted by boys, clothes, rebelling against my parents–I started playing on an ultra-competitive soccer team just six months after surgery. However, my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I quit and started playing tennis and lacrosse–ultimately ending up as the captain of both my senior year.
I continued playing lacrosse at Chico State. My knees hurt, but I found ways to manage–taping huge bags of ice onto both knees before and after games, rubbing Icy Hot all over my legs at night, trying out various braces and wraps. My right knee hurt since I relied on it while babying my left. I spent a year and a half playing with ebbing pain–I was only a freshman in college, and distracted by boys, clothes, rebelling against my coach. I finally went to see a doctor, and my worst fears were confirmed–I had ruptured my ACL again, and would have to endure a two separate surgeries to fix it.
I quit the lacrosse team, and joined a sorority with the intent of playing sports. After one bad pivot in a basketball game, I decided that I wouldn’t have another surgery as the result of sorority sports (as much as I loved ADPi, that’s just embarrassing). I spent the rest of college in the gym, alternating between spinning, yoga and aerobics classes. I had spurts of confidence in my knee when I would go on jogs, do the stadium stairs, jump rope. Sometimes it would go well, other times it wouldn’t.
Now I’m debating joining an adult lacrosse league in the Bay Area. I miss playing sports: having the camaraderie of a team (which I also found in a sorority), being active, winning something. I’ve struggled with the decision to even reach out to team organizers– all because of my knee. Am I being stupid and irresponsible? After reading an health article in The New York Times stating that cartilage tears in knees lead to exceptionally early-onset arthritis, I feel like I am. I’m setting myself up for a lifetime of chronic pain, the possibility of another knee surgery, the likelihood of needing to have one or both knees replaced.
But still I debate. My parents would kill me if they even knew I was considering it– getting health insurance coverage after the surgeries was an exhausting ordeal. I know it’s a huge risk, but aren’t I supposed to be young and reckless? I can’t afford another knee surgery, but God, do I want to be on a lacrosse field again.
Young and reckless, with the possibility of early-onset arthritis? Or responsible and restrained, still with the possibility of early-onset arthritis?
I’m only 21. Find to find my stick and goggles.
First of all, my blog is soon going to go into “construction” mode. I’ve been wanting to do a blog redesign for a while, and reading blogs like My Melange and Where My Heart Resides makes me realize that mine could look a heck of a lot cooler. I took a class in HTML and CSS code in college, and also learned how to work in Dreamweaver. I’ve just been too lazy to actually use those skills. My parents are “investing in my professional development” by gifting me the Adobe Web Development Suite, and I’m hoping that having the tools will be inspiration enough. Once the redesign is done, I hope to create a clearer purpose for this blog and start contributing more often. I’d like to get the aesthetic redesign done soon so that I can start 2010 on a high note.
After volunteering consistently during my time at Chico (I volunteered and/or worked at CAVE every semester), I’ve really missed it the past few months. I really recognize now what an awesome and unique program CAVE was by making it so easy for people to volunteer with such a wide variety of populations and programs. I recently learned about an online project called Invisible People. It draws attention to homeless people–people who are so easy to ignore that they often become invisible to people with places to go, people to see and a warm bed to come home to. I realized that I’m very guilty of ignoring these people as well, even though I’ve worked with many similar people in institutions like the Sonoma Developmental Center (for the developmentally disabled) and the Napa State Hospital (for the criminally insane).
I’m still researching volunteer organizations in the Bay Area. I reached out to the American Cancer Society to start volunteering, but potential volunteers must attend an orientation first. Of course, I couldn’t make it to the one in November and there isn’t another evening session until January. I’m also looking at seeing if I can spend a weekend volunteering at Sonoma or Napa independent of CAVE. Those weekends are always great reminders that everyone is human and deserves respect and love. It’s easy to forget that in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
However, I’ve decided to take up the 29-Day Giving Challenge for December. The challenge is basically to give one thing every day–anything from a gift, a smile, a call to an old friend. I think this will be an excellent way to get in the Christmas spirit, and remind me to give back to the people and community around me. I’ve printed out a calendar to keep on my desk so I can track what I do each day. I’m already having fun brainstorming things that I can do!
And if the giving spirit wasn’t enough to brighten my transition into 2010, I’ll be spending the last week of the year in beautiful Hawaii with my beau. The promise of sunshine, sand and pure relaxation is what will get me through these last few weeks.
Lastly, any suggestions on blog titles/directions/designs would be greatly appreciated. And any ideas of ways to give back are also welcome
I feel like a real grown-up when I’m more excited about the Cuisinart food processor/blender combo that I bought this weekend than my new pair of Sevens.
Setting up my kitchen has been one of my favorite parts of having my own apartment. No more roommates to leave tuna cans and dirty dishes in the sink. No more freezer stocked with drunk munchies, no more countertop full of carbs. No more using red cups for my morning juice. After four years of roommmates (including a house with no dishwasher or garbage disposal and nine girls and a sorority house of 21 girls with a cook and personal shopper), I’m blissfully alone with my Ikea kitchenware and farmers market finds.
That means that I’ve had the time, space and willpower to change my eating habits. I read “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver shortly before moving to Sunnyvale. While I haven’t been able to become a complete locavore (someone who eats only locally-grown and locally-produced products), it did inspire me to start learning what was in season and what was grown in my area. I’ve been trying to reduce my food miles by buying my produce and fish primarily at the farmers market. I haven’t been buying things that have tons of unnecessary packaging- such as the 100-calorie snack packs and pre-cut veggies that I used to rely on for a study snack or quick dinner.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but for the first time, cooking is a part of my everyday life. I’ve experimented with recipes from Julia Child, Kraft, Rachael Ray. I’ve added my own twists, substituted ingredients, made some mistakes and discovered some amazing meals. I make a point to buy things I’ve never had before at farmers market, like swiss chard and guava. I’m still fairly vegetarian at home (after a reading of Skinny Bitch a few years ago) which means that I don’t really buy or cook my own meat, but I eat chicken and fish at restaurants. And I won’t turn down a Squeeze-Inn burger.
My cooking adventures have made me wonder why America is so addicted to overly processed fast food full of artificial ingredients. I tend to be impatient while cooking- let’s just say that I take plenty of samples during the process. But the feeling of completion, of enjoying that first taste of whatever I myself have created is a type of satisfaction that can’t be found in an In & Out Burger. I’m no saint- I indulge in far too much candy at work and I broke down for some KFC a few weeks back. But my kitchen is devoid of its old staples: frozen raviolis, Cheez-its, Lean Cuisines. Instead, there are fresh green tomatoes, organically grown brown rice, herbal tea.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to go completely local (once I have my own house and vegetable garden!) or completely vegetarian. Until then I’ll be undertaking my own “Julie & Julia” project: try as many new recipes as possible that stay as local/organic/vegetarian as possible while letting me play with my new food processor/blender.
As much as I wish it was different, I am from the suburbs. I try to act like I belong when I ride public transportation, but a month living in Paris having a 40-minute commute on the Metro does not a city girl make. I sing along to country songs, and wish that I too partied “Down on the Farm,” but I wouldn’t know how to milk a cow if you paid me.
But I can’t deny that I grew up in a neighborhood where the park was around the block, minivans were abundant and all houses looked the same. I moved down the same street three times growing up- and one time, we moved into a house with the exact same floorplan. My grandma lives in the old house, and it’s a trippy experience for new boyfriends the first time they go from my parents’ house to my grandma’s. It’s the same house…just a little farther down the street.
Now that I’ve relocated to Sunnyvale, I feel like I’m still firmly planted in the suburbs. The towns of the South Bay have been around longer than the Laguna/Elk Grove area (my entire neighborhood was built no more than 20 years ago), which means that commercial and residential zones are little more mixed. I can walk from my apartment to a Macy’s, Caltrain station, a small downtown with shops and restaurants. Oh yes, and I can walk to work. I could easily get around with a bike, where you absolutely need a car to do anything in Elk Grove.
But I’m still surrounded by parks, families, minivans and many houses that look very, very similar. Most of the time, I love this. I love walking to work by houses with freshly-mowed lawns, flower gardens and detached garages. I like that the entire neighborhood seems asleep by 11 p.m. and barely awake at 8 a.m. It’s easy for me to hop on the freeway- actually, it’s easy for me to hop onto about four different freeways.
Sometimes, though, I feel like I should be living my 20s in the city. San Francisco is a short drive away, but living 45 minutes away is completely different than living in the heart of the city by the bay. My girlfriends who live and work in San Fran say they would never want to live anywhere else- the nightlife, the culture, the restaurants. And I just saw that San Francisco was voted the top place to visit in the United States.
While I would love to be able to stop by the MOMA on a weekday evening or grab dinner in North Beach without thinking about it, I’ve never been able to seriously think about taking the plunge to live in San Francisco. I’ve always been frugal, but worrying about money is what keeps plenty of it in my bank account. The cost of living in San Francisco is its biggest turnoff.
My rent would go up dramatically, and I would be forced to live with a roommate. Parking would be a pay-by-quarters-or-by-credit-card nightmare. Public transportation, regardless of how much I support it, is not cheap, comfortable or always convenient. Even a Starbucks is more expensive in the city.
Yes, there’s always something to do in the city. But most of what I “do” outside of work involves me curling up with a book, snuggling with my boyfriend or squeezing in a workout. I don’t like clubs, and I feel like I did enough partying at Chico to last me a lifetime. I prefer to experiment with my own farmers market finds instead of eating out, and I always drink (free) water instead of trying out cocktails. 45 minutes isn’t too far to check out a professional sports game or a museum exhibit opening on the weekend if I really want to.
Maybe it’s lame that I’m 21 and don’t want to live in San Francisco. Maybe once I’m making a little bit more money and can actually afford cable, let alone a huge rent increase, I’ll consider it more seriously. Maybe my mind will change one day, and I’ll feel like the suburbs are just too stifling.
Until that day comes, I’ll keep saving my money, walking to work, eating in and planning a big vacation to the cities that I love all over the world. Maybe a long weekend in San Francisco will even be part of that plan.
5:45 a.m. Wake up. Far too early.
6:30 a.m. Try to put in right contact. Burns uncontrollably. Try left contact. Burns uncontrollably. Check contact solution: expired.
7:00 a.m. Drive to Willow Glen for a chiropractor appointment.
7:30 a.m. Be informed that my insurance doesn’t cover any of the visit. Of course.
7:31 a.m. Shell out the $75 because I’ve already woken up an hour early. Get my neck and back adjusted, which is glorious. Set up a plan to fix my scraping scapula and hip. Expensive, but totally worth it if it works . Chronic pain at 21? Not OK.
8:33 a.m. Get on 280 South instead of North. Get stuck at every red light on my attempt to get back on 280 North. Hit every red light once I get off 280.
9:05 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Arrive at work. Spend the day working. And tweeting. And sending emails without subject lines. And getting scolded for it. And laughing over textsfromlastnight.com and peopleofwalmart.com with the interns. Try to resist the candy room, but get drawn in multiple times. Feel guilty over the high-fructose corn syrup I’ve ingested that is slowly growing into big fat cells. Eat another Swedish Fish to get over the guilt.
5:18 p.m.: Go to bank to deposit a check and cancel a transfer. Couldn’t find the check. Had to call another bank to inquire about the transfer. The other bank told me to call this bank yesterday. After a round robin of phone calls, something is being mailed to me. Could have solved this weeks ago. Still can’t find the check.
5:25 p.m. Head to a Starbucks on the other side of town for a 6 p.m. meeting.
5:50 p.m. Realize that I’m at the wrong Starbucks. Drive back across town, freaking out about being late.
6:01 p.m. After managing three wrong turns, show up at the right Starbucks (which is very close to the bank where I started). The person I’m waiting for is running late. So I had a mini panic attack for nothing. Discover there is still money left on a Starbucks card I found. Enjoy my treat of a vanilla latte.
6:08 p.m. Meet with a great possible PR mentor. Figure out some awesome options for future career paths. And decide that I absolutely need to go on “The Amazing Race.”
7:30 p.m. Drive to the gym. There are no parking spaces. None. Find one in the next center over. Work out.
8:45 p.m. Get home. Make dinner. Look for still-missing check. Still nowhere to be found. Kiss $70 good-bye.
9:20 p.m. In a surprisingly good mood for how many wrong turns (literally and figuratively) my day has taken. Maybe it’s because tomorrow’s pay day.
“What is there to do when people die- people so dear and rare- but bring them back by remembering?”
Today just reminded me again how sweet and fragile life is.
While I didn’t know you well, I remember playing tennis with you and talking to you at rush. I was disappointed when you went Alpha Phi. It breaks my heart that you won’t graduate, that you won’t be able to enjoy your first year at the bars. I know you are leaving behind a devastated family and friends, a broken sisterhood and a deeply saddened campus.
Your death reminds me of all the others. The others who left us far too early, for no good reason. Every time it happens, I hope that we learn- to not drive as fast, to not drive under the influence, to not do the drugs.
I’m lucky that I’ve never lost anyone close to me, but I’ve had close friends lose a best friend, a boyfriend, their oldest friend. All for no good reason and all too soon.
RIP Kevin Murray. RIP Kevin Keane. RIP Travis Whitaker. RIP Sharmelia Jefferies. RIP Matthew Prentice. RIP Tia Santos. RIP James Ramirez. RIP Bobby Sheehan. And now, RIP Gina Maggio. We miss you every day.
In honor of Great Books Week, I am participating in the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors Blog Tour- mostly because I haven’t stopped reading for pleasure since I discovered the beauty of Dr. Seuss in preschool. I literally was the girl with my nose in a book as I walked to and from school.
My life goal is to work through the 100 Best Novels. I’m currently reading #8 on the Reader’s List- “We The People” by Ayn Rand. And absolutely loving it. I can’t wait to work through the other Ayn Rands on my bookshelf.
And thus, today’s topic: If I were stranded alone on a deserted island with only seven books to read over the next few years, I would like to have…
- The Bible: I’m not too into organized religion. I’ve been raised to have good manners, high standards and a desire to help people- and you don’t need to go to church every Sunday to live a happy life that makes others happy too. But the Bible is full of amazing stories and I’ve always loved reading the Psalms. It reminds me of the good old days in Lutheran elementary and Catholic high school.
- The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand: I’m hooked on Ayn Rand. And it’s a long book. All the better to keep me busy on an island.
- Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand: Really, there must be a reason why she’s on the top of the reader’s list.
- 100 Essential Modern Poems, compiled by Joseph Parish: My go-to for anything I’m feeling: happy, sad, disappointed. I’ve always loved reading poetry, and this compilation has some of my favorites.
- The Intellectual Devotional, by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim: I’ve been on and off about staying on top of this every day, but it’s a great way to learn about a lot, a little bit at a time. My favorite is learning about music and science: two topics that I don’t get much of in my everyday life.
- The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: In seventh grade, my humanities teacher had us research 10 of these terms each week. However, we didn’t get to use the dictionary: we were given terms, and told to ask our parents and family friends what they knew about them. We then researched the rest. It was a great way to learn more about our culture, from historical events to common idioms. I really enjoyed these assignments, and I wish that I would have kept up with the assignment to finish the whole dictionary.
- The Catcher and the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: While I haven’t read it in years, it’s still one that I can read over and over again.
Now, if only I could figure out a job that paid me to lie on a beach and read these books all day. Being stranded on a desert island with my favorite books…sounds more like a dream job than a problem to me.
At the 49ers game today, the Gold Rush girls wore pink for the second half is support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Skinny, healthy girls with big boobs danced around wearing pink in support of a very worthy cause. But to me, it was almost offensive.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. To me, that seems like it needs to updated. By now, I think- I hope- that everyone knows what breast cancer is. People are aware of the pain, sadness, grief it causes. Those who know survivors have seen the inner strength necessary to fight. Those who have lost loved ones know how much it hurts. Everyone wants a cure.
As the granddaughter of a breast and skin cancer survivor, I’ve seen what it takes to fight cancer. I’ve also seen the constant struggles that face survivors. There are things that don’t make the “Save the Tatas” campaign: finding a bra after having a mastectomy, the worry about the cancer coming back, the health insurance bills that don’t end.
Wearing pink does not bring us closer to a cure. Yes, it shows support for those with breast cancer: those who have beat it and those who weren’t as lucky. But it doesn’t help low-income women get mammograms. It doesn’t pay for a preemptive mastectomy for a young woman with a BRCA gene. It doesn’t pay for the ugly special bra that a post-mastectomy woman has to search out and pay extra for.
Seeing the perky blonde cheerleaders in pink just inspires me to do something for the cause. I can’t exactly donate hair to Locks of Love- I barely have six inches of hair on my head. But that would be such a huge gesture by a 49er cheerleader.
Instead, I’m going to look into volunteering with the American Cancer Society. Or donating to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. Maybe write a letter to Victoria’s Secret about selling post-mastectomy bras so that survivors can feel normal buying a cute bra in the middle of the mall. Ask the 49ers to donate a portion of ticket sales to a research foundation, instead of just featuring those cute boobs dancing around in pink shirts.
At the very least, if I wear pink, it won’t be the only thing I do.
Tomorrow I receive my second paycheck, about 80 percent of which will go directly to rent. As much as I would love that extra cash- I’m dying for a new pair of heels- I’m proud that I’m (almost) self-sufficient. Yes, my parents are still helping me out, primarily by covering me with health and car insurance for another year. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m on my own.
I hear of friends still living at home, which is something I totally respect. If your parents have the room for you and it makes sense to commute, the free rent is a killer. But that wasn’t an option for me. For the roughly two months I was home this summer, I was using a cardboard box as a nightstand and sleeping on a futon. Even a fully stocked fridge couldn’t make up for the fact that my former closet is now my mother’s linen closet.
But I’m shocked at how many friends are moving out, and still having their rent paid by their parents. There are a few instances when it makes sense, such as taking an unpaid internship. But simply because they want to move to San Francisco and not work? Must be nice.
I’m still getting adjusted to the so-called real world. Working 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. is just as rough as everyone makes it out today. I’ve settled into a comfortable routine- wake up, do a Pilates video, get ready for work, sit in my cubicle trying to be productive all day, go the gym, make dinner, watch a DVD and mess around on Facebook, read, go to sleep. Running errands after work means I eat late. Not running them means I am constantly out of the little things, like batteries and a can opener.
The daily grind is just that- a grind. But I’m getting through it. I’m still dreaming of traveling the world, spending another summer in Paris, taking the Foreign Service Officer Test. Every day is another day, and another chance to do something productive. And one more day closer to something brilliant, even if I don’t know what exactly that is yet.