Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time to Give thanks.... for what?

I write a lot about how blessed I am, and I do not take anything in my life for granted. I KNOW how lucky I am. BUT. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that like a lot of people, when the air turns cold, and the holiday lights start twinkling, I have days where I get in a weird space of saying “what am I thankful for?”

It is hard sometimes, to look at my life, and say, sheesh, I expected to be farther than this. To watch my friends stop coming home, or having time for me because they have to do two thanksgiving with their significant others’ family too, or they don’t live here anymore and it’s just too expensive to come home. Granted, I have a lot going on in my life, but when it all slows down, it’s just me and Muffy, at my parents’ house attempting to listen to all the Christmas music that reminds me of the good old ASTP days, or the times I listened to certain CD’s 24/7 so I could stop crying at school long enough to write that on last paper between me and coming home to everyone I loved.
The holidays = memories, and let’s face it. Even when you’re home… you can’t go home again.

I’m not writing this to get people to feel bad, or pick up the phone to call and squeeze me in when you’re home (but hey, if you have time…. ) I’m just putting it out there, because I feel like being honest, and I think it hits a lot of people, but we’re forced to gag down a cup of cheer and trudge through the malls even when we’re just not feeling it. You’re not alone…

On that note, I took most of the day to spend time by myself, and knowing our tried and true, unoriginal tradition of going around the table and sharing, pondering the question, “What AM I thankful for?”

Here’s what I came up with:

Being alive- I’m a bit of a miracle. I don’t think anyone thought that at 25, I’d be here, let along be doing what I’m doing (and be quite so fabulous doing it). I don’t walk around on a daily basis going, “Um, don’t mess with me, I’m a miracle you know!” But it is something that helps me feel empowered when I think about it. Clearly I was kept around to do something big… so let’s keep at it.

My family. We have a crazy unique dynamic, and don’t you dare get in the middle of a game of cards, but I cannot deny I have the best, strongest, safet
y net/fan base any girl could ever ask for. From my first dance recital (that I only made it to the rehearsal apparently?) to college graduation, and flying all over the country, they are there, and/or telling all their friends. I’d be nowhere without them.

My job and the opportunities I have had from it- Sure it’s a tough world to be thrown into, but getting to go all over the country and get a sense of national wisdom (and I continue to learn) has inspired me, and given me a sense of what else IS out there- as well as the people who push me to get it. I now feel like I can back up my argument that “Yea, I am bigger than this.”

Camp- Not just for the time spent on the stage of Lincoln Center with Julia and Kristin but for shaping who I am, and REMINDING ME who I am, even now, when I hit that place of, I just can’t do it any more, I’m just me.

The little things that get me through the day- Being able to drive, and blast music in my car that I bought myself. My Starbucks crew that makes me smile and provides the perfect latte, the bartenders in the twin cities that know just how I take my margarita, seeing the sunset over the cow fields on the way home (even though I curse them at the same time), my friends who text me just to say they thought of me. Ke$ha, Britney, Taylor, and all those others that pump me up when I’m not feeling hot. My kitty who makes sure that I don’t have to sleep alone (even though she is a rebel and always wants to snuggle when it’s time to get up)

And ultimately- although I already mentioned family, this one deserves it’s own, final bullet:

Lots of people have siblings, but even strangers have pointed out that we have something special. Everything I gripe about when I’m in that place of slump seems irrelevant when I think of going through it with Maisy, from shopping for jugs of water during a Maine wilderness power failure to eating Sushi near Lincoln Center in NYC, we’re pretty unstoppable when we’re together and anything becomes a memorable adventure. We have reached the point where we can exchange personal jokes without even uttering a word, and just making eye contact. We say the things at the same time. We’ll start singing the same song at the same time without even having heard it recently. She may be an outdoor cowgirl and I try to avoid walking in grass, but I have so much respect for everything she has achieved and how hard she works. She is the Timone to my Pumbaa, the Glinda to my Elphaba, the Beavis to my Butthead (I shall not go on). Recently, with her college application process, and watching her crank out essays and fill out applications, I have actually been inspired to start busting my own ass on this whole GRE process and really thinking seriously about the whole grad school thing. Her courage and fresh excitement for the whole “college thing” has made me realize that I need to not fear my own future. With 2011 fast approaching, who knows where things could go!
So after figuring all of this out, and coming to terms with where I’m at, and seeing once again how clearly lucky I am, I can now finish my tea, go to sleep happy and blessed, and wake up tomorrow to watch the parade in the city I will be in in approximately 2 weeks, eat too much, laugh too much, lose money at cards and finally, officially ring in the holiday season, for whatever it is, as Mal version 2010 as she will only exist for a few more weeks!
Let’s do this.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My life is ridiculous?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

As I sat in the hospital, early on in my admission two weeks ago, I was talking to one of my friends, who referenced something, as we discussed my situation.
She said that she “got it,” as she was one of the rare breed known as a “CSHN diva.” I have met a few, and perhaps I will start a sorority. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just call me Elle Woods (Legally Blonde 2 is my inspiration for life…)
They are people who are consumers of “the system,” know the drill and still maintain their proper level of fabulosity. Granted, it is not easy to do.
Here are some tips…
Perhaps this should just grow into a book…. It is a bit lengthy. Being fabulous is not easy remember.

(Of course, let me offer a disclaimer that this is not actually sage health advice, just a witty blog- please listen to your doctors before me)

CSHN Diva’s guide to being in the hospital:

1. Be polite.

First and foremost. As my fellow diva, and good friend Kristin Chenoweth explains, part of being a diva is being nice. This can be difficult when you feel terrible, and would like to be anywhere but inpatient, but believe it or not, people do have your best interests at heart, and are just doing their jobs. As miserable as I can be, I always try to make light of the obnoxious questions that get asked hundreds of times. Keeping your sense of humor surprises people and let’s them know you’re on board with what they’re trying to do, which is ultimately get you better. I also believe in thanking everybody, from the people who clean your room to the people who draw your blood (even if it takes them 6 tries after you ask them “are you good at what you do”) Little things make a big difference, and I even learned this stay that people were arguing over who got to be my night nurse (and here I was worried about being the high maintenance bitch people avoided)

2. It’s ok to speak up:
I have been doing this whole “hospital patient” thing longer than most of my doctors have been practicing. I know my body, and I know my symptoms. Basically when I go into the ER, I know what I need, and I know what needs to be done. I know what tests are a waste of time and money, and what could possibly mean something else. Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to mention something that you think might be up, or refuse something that you know is irrelevant (again… if your doctor really insists, it might be worth it… I’m not giving medical advice here) you can make your ER process, or hospital stay a lot more productive if you are able to guide people through what has or has not worked for you, and reminding them that you have things to do and people to see can actually have an impact versus laying around waiting for them to make the next move. Things in the ER tend to move about as fast as a granny marathon...

3. Wardrobe:
This comes directly from a texting conversation early on, between divas.
A:“Tell me you are wearing adorable pj’s and not one of those horrible hospital gowns”
M: “Clearly.”

Not only does this prevent a major fashion faux pas, but it is a crucial step in maintaining one’s dignity and showing people who is in charge of your body. Nothing says “I don’t care” like a not properly sized sheet with sleeves and no back. Please. Nobody wants to see that, and I guarantee it is not going to help if you get chilly. Conveniently for me (or not so) I had been dressed for flying, so was already equipped with velour sweats and a t-shirt, and in my blind rage of packing, brought more sweats, and t-shirts from various conferences and musicals. It may not be a fashion show, but at least an opportunity to show people that you are still you. Fuzzy socks and sweatshirts are a must as well, you never know when they might be out of "footie slippers" or warm blankets... and hospital temperatures and fevers can be very unpredictable (much like airplanes)

4. Hygiene:
Be the girl that smells good. Trust me, it surprises people, and again shows you respect yourself. I am a huge believer in feeling good has a lot to do with looking good (or at least smelling good).
Although it can be a huge ordeal, do not go more than 3 day with at least some sort of sponge bath (or shower if possible). It might seem like a huge process, but I guarantee it will make you feel better, if only for a little while. Being sick is no excuse to get dread locks either. If you are seriously in a bad way, might I suggest braids as an elegant easy style that is perfect for miserable writhing in bed without too much damage and tangling.

Another rule I stand by all the time, whether it be on an airplane or just in winter weather. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Hospital air is just as atrocious as airplane air, and thus is torture for most skin. Bring your own lotion and apply frequently. Those little hospital slipper socks are fabulous to slip on after liberally moisturizing your feet (bonus if you talk someone into giving you an inpatient pedicure too) and letting it soak in while you lie about.

5. Room service it is not.
Oh the food. Granted, let me preface this with just how disenchanting it is to go from truffle mac and cheese and Marriott breakfast menus to a hospital menu that now says “room service.”

I just about cried when I saw the universe was mocking me so (and the fact that I knew my colleagues were going to be having sushi and receptions all week while I had orange sherbet and grilled cheese….)
One thing I have realized when I’m sick, is that my appetite is as up and down as my temperature. I either want nothing at all, or get one craving for something that won’t go away until I have it (usually something that is not on the “room service” menu). On one horrible hospital experience, my fellow diva and I actually ordered Chinese takeout and had it delivered directly to my room.
Other than that, I know the people that will visit that understand what I’m dealing with and offer to bring me lattes, or Thai food when I’m absolutely craving it. Don’t be afraid to ask what for you want. People will want you to “eat and get your strength back.” If you don’t have someone to go fetch your dietary requests, don’t be afraid to special order from the “room service” menu. For example… hospital scrambled eggs are far better with cheese though it’s not listed there. Always ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, you don’t eat and end up losing a couple pounds. Could be worse, right?

6. Connectivity is a right not a privilege
One of my trademarks is that I can be having blood drawn, or an IV in one arm, and the other will always have my blackberry.
Within the first five minutes of being admitted (and stabilized, obviously if I’m not feeling well I don’t care…) I know what the wifi availability is, or where I have to go to get it (I used to have to go to a crowded library with a username and password on public computer…tragic).
True divas cannot just go off the grid without some sort of update to let people know what’s going on (more on this soon) or to at least keep up with the celebrity gossip or what is going on in the outside world so they don’t feel completely hidden away, a la Repunzel sans her prince charming. Sometimes things simply must be done. I have e-mailed papers from the nurse’s station when I was in college, and most recently virtually streamed the day of speakers I was missing in DC then participated virtually in a strategic planning meeting via texting as well.
Granted, I’m a bit of a work-a-holic and have been resting since then, but true divas know when it’s important to have a presence, and when the statement to make is to be missed.

7. Have secrets:
This is sort of a newer thing I realized more this time, as my mother and I were having disputes of who was telling what information. Now that social media is a huge deal (take it or leave it, it’s there) it’s different than when I had a few select people I would keep informed of my health and the different stages of being sick (hey guys I’m in the ER, I’ll keep you posted, vs. “Ok, not looking good, probably going to have surgery, good thoughts please.” )
But now…when I post an “update” it goes to 600 people. Or if someone in my family posts an update it goes to another several hundred (who may or may not also be seeing mine). To me… information about my health is an earned privilege. I don’t believe in divulging my entire cyber-audience with details of what my blood count was or what my fever was.

I see it as the equivalent of a first date. You don’t go on a first date and say, “Hi, I’m Mal, I’m a little high maintenance and there is a chance I could go into the hospital with a severe infection, want to share an appetizer?” Brutal to say, sometimes the scary truth is a good way to push people away. Not everyone can handle it. Usually after the initial blast that things are not well and there has been a change of plans, I slowly get it narrowed down to the VIP’s who want to be in it for the long haul, and continue to keep them posted (these are usually the people I know will be dropping by with frequent lattes and new issues of magazines, knowing just what I need without me asking).
Otherwise my updates are vague and minimally dramatic (except when I become terribly bored and depressed and the walls are closing in). I find this is the best way, for several reasons, one of which, I have seen what people do when they do not have all the facts. One time I was in the hospital, I had told one of my friends that I had an infection, only to find out that it got turned into that I had AIDS. As much as I love RENT…. That is not the case. The less information that is out there, the less that can be misconstrued, and the less hysteria there is among my 600 “friends,” and the more I can actually rest and do my “get better thing.” This is only my process of course (and as my fellow diva Paris says, “Every heiress has to stay somewhat mysterious… if you don’t have secrets, make people think you do.” Being an open book is not cute). Some of you may love drama, in which case make things sound as scary as possible, but be prepared to diffuse a lot of rumor bombs and deal with people who treat you like creepy, catchy glass after.

8. Be selfish:
This may sound like it’s counteracting #1 (be polite) but you can do both! What I mean by this is- Let yourself be sick. Take the time to heal, and properly recover in style. If you don’t want people to visit you, it’s ok to say that. People usually feel like they don’t know what to do when you’re in the hospital, so if it means waiting for you to be out and taking you for coffee when you’ve got nothing to do, tell them that. If you don’t feel up to entertaining people in your hospital room and would rather watch “What Not to Wear” through half opened unshadowed eyelids, SAY THAT.
Use your silly little nurse call bell if you need help with something, that’s what it’s there for. You’re not being annoying… you’re SICK.

This also applies to when you are home, but still not feeling up to par. If you try to throw yourself back into your fantastic life at the pace you had before without actually letting your body recover, you will crash and burn, and that is not fabulous. Rest, sleep in, drink tea, watch lots of reality television, take hot showers and sleep after. Email all the people you answer to, and explain you are still recovering so you can skip things, guilt free.
You’ll know when you are ready to start taking things on again because you will begin getting bored. Divas can only be down for so long and friend and family online sales only last for so many weeks…
Give yourself the proper pampering, get a good night’s sleep, and perhaps a new NARS lipgloss (or three) and begin getting back into the swing of things. Before you know it, you will be back on a plane, overcommitted, wishing for a real vacation.

And best of luck. Just know, CSHN divas, you are not alone, and all the other sisters support you in your quest for staying well and being fabulous.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Post hospital Update:

So here I am, about two weeks later, on my road back to fabulous, which is not actually as easy as it sounds.

Surely, it has been a bit enjoyable when I am feeling fairly decent to lounge in bed with my cat, watching the entire series of Cashmere Mafia on Netflix instant view (why, oh why do they cancel every show I end up loving!?!? What ever happened!?!?) but it has simply grown old feeling dizzy and nauseous and not being able to flit around as I had gotten accustomed to doing as I was on such a roll being a work-a-holic. And I think the hardest part is that it gets lonely.
There is a big misconception that once one is out of the hospital that everything is “better,” and I’m simply up and about again. Quite contrary. Most people still would’ve been inpatient for the duration of their IV antibiotics, but because we are good at what we do, they let me go home, it’s not because I’m “better.” So the novelty wears off for most people.Plus, not only did I miss my epic week in DC, but I missed Halloween, which is literally the first time in my entire life that this has happened. Never mind the fact I don't even remember the last time I went so long without leaving the house.

Finally, yesterday, I put real clothes on for the first time in 2 weeks, and broke out of the house to vote (gah, more on that when I have regained some emotional strength) and celebrate Red Cup day, showing my Starbucks crew that I am indeed still alive...
Thus, before I launch into the part 2 of this blog, which will be posted soon, I’d like to give shout outs to the people who stuck with me even though my reports didn’t change beyond I feel crappy, and “I’m sick of being miserable.”
Allie (who the following blog is mostly dedicated to)
Shannon- for fighting over who’s sicker, everyone I work with/for for making sure I actually could rest without feeling guilty for the first time like… ever.
Ashleigh- for encouraging my shopaholic and being my on call Sephora consultant.
My parents of course- for listening to me walk around the house groaning and whining for no particular reason without once telling me to shut up and get over it (and for giving me my big girl bed back)
Maisy- for sharing in my stir crazy madness and eating too much candy with me, while watching Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus every time it was on.

J.B. (not Justin Bieber)- for being my on the scene reporter of restoring sanity, and reminding me what I need to hurry up and get back to ☺
Taylor Swift for providing a soundtrack for my week of ultimate diva self pity fest ….

And now here is to another progressive week of rest and "getting better," so that I can be back to what I do, and take off for Houston next week! Stay tuned for the follow up blog from my epic hospital stay....