Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"You will always be welcome here."

First Sunday, now today.

Since I'm fairly certain that as nasty as my leg, ankle, and foot look, they're just horrendously bruised, I decided to go back for another dance class today. (Plus, I missed it. What can I say? That place is infectious.)

I was nervous this time, only because the worrier in me was afraid that having two seizures in three visits was going to make them not want me anymore. The logical part of my brain knows that's ridiculous, but logic and emotions don't always mesh very well. I had sent Kosta, the manager, an email last Tuesday night, and I just hoped that he read it, because it explained everything on my heart. I didn't get to talk to anyone before class because everyone was still teaching, but they all said hello and it was a lot of fun just to watch them. You can tell their different styles of teaching, and plus it just fascinates me that that many lessons can go on in such a small space and no one runs into each other!

In the middle of the group lesson, Kosta walked over and looked at me and said "I just read your letter." He held his hands in the shape of a heart, said "It was beautiful. Thank you, love," and blew me a kiss. That alone told me everything was okay.

But I still wanted to talk to him for a second afterwards. So I got his attention in his little glass office thing, and when he finished what he was doing, he came out and talked to me.  He immediately smiled at me. I said "So you read my email?" And he started talking about how he didn't want me to feel bad and that it was okay. He asked me again when I was going into the hospital and what they'd be doing and wished me the best. But then he said one thing that really stuck out to me.

"God forbid it should happen again, but if it does, it does. You will always be welcome here."

This was my fourth time in that studio, and I can already tell you that this is one of the happiest things in my life. With my disabilities, and the epilepsy, and all the other stuff, it can be very hard for me to feel normal. And sometimes, all I want is to just blend in with everyone else. But it's very clear why the Dance With Me Studios are collectively referred to as the DWM Fam...because they treat everyone who walks through their doors like they're family. And when you're family, you belong. The only other times I remember feeling this sense of safety and peace and belonging as soon as I stepped foot somewhere were in the Reformation classroom and the soccer field with my brothers there. I told Kosta in my email that I feel included and seen and beautiful there, which are all often rare things for me, so it means the world. When you know you're different, even when you know it's a good thing, sometimes it can be so relieving not to feel different for a change.

Sweet Kosta. Don't let this picture fool you. He's actually 6'5". Intimidating at first sight, but a total gentle giant. ;) 

After class, I went home, skipping the party (not that I had the $15 anyway) to end on a high note while I was feeling okay. But I didn't really want to go home, so I went in Spiegel and hung out with my buddy.

A terrible picture, but this is Eldar. He's one of the bartenders there, and he's just a doll. I've gotten in the habit of going by every shift he's on just to give him a hug and say hi. He gives awesome hugs. And he must be special, because he doesn't find it weird at all. :p But seriously, the guys there have told me I'm always welcome to hang out there, even if I don't have money to eat. They treat me like a VIP - it's like they have my usual order posted in the kitchen or something - and they always greet me with hugs, no matter who is on when I stop by. I'm being perfectly honest when I say that there have been days when stopping by there has been the only good thing in my day.

So all of this is to say that this week something has been made abundantly clear to me:

I really belong here. Thanks be to God.

(PS: I was talking to Mike before I left, and this was part of the conversation:
Mike: You have a bad bruise on your arm! (yeah, turns out there is also a large purple bruise on the back side of my right upper arm, which is why I never noticed it.)
Me: (shows him my leg and ankle) I had a nasty fall on Saturday.
Mike: How'd that happen?
Me: Let's just say it involved vodka and a bar stool and not enough balance.
Mike: (laughs) Okay, I'll let you save that story for another time. Because, wow.
Me: There are many sides to me that you wouldn't expect from the surface.
Mike: I bet! I can tell!

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Isn't this pretty?

I didn't realize until today just how bad off the lower half of my right calf and my ankle and foot are. Because yesterday, I just thought I was sore. Today, it's like all of that is just one giant bruise.

And those were taken before I put my ice pack on it and my calf turned greenish-purple.

Also: notice the awesome sock tan line...

Yeah. Like I always say, there's a reason my parents didn't name me Grace. It's like they knew. I'm hoping these are all just swollen bruises, and that nothing is seriously wrong in there because...this is a big city...yeah.

Needless to say, thank the good Lord I have a doctor's note telling my bosses to let me sit down at work, because I definitely never would have made it through work today.

Also a great point of gratitude: my cortisol test came back normal. We'll repeat it at the end of April, but for now, it looks like I am in the clear. I'm so thankful for the army I had backing me up through all of this, the ones keeping me in check and being confident when I freaked out.

I was absolutely beat today, so it's time for a good night's rest. I've got a lot of school work to do tomorrow.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

When you know you belong.

Because I'm so incredibly type A, I'm a tad bit on the obsessive side when it comes to punctuality. I say that like you didn't already know.

Anyway, so I show up to church about half an hour early every week, because then I don't have to worry, and plus I'm there to talk to people before the service starts.

Well, you know what the very first thing I heard when I got in the room today was, after a hello? It was from my friend Kimarley, "The worship team prayed for you this morning."

That, my friends, that was when I knew. I knew that as big and overwhelming as this city can be, and as out of place as I often feel in my life, I knew that I had somewhere to belong.

And sometimes, that's all you need.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Perfect Recoup

Work was awful.

People were awful.

One lady bitched me out because she didn't want to buy the toothpaste that was on sale and instead wanted to get a different kind of the same brand that wasn't on sale for the sale price and thought it was outrageous that we wouldn't change the price.

So when Holly gave me way more money than I asked for, the roommate asked me if I wanted to go out with her, and then Holly heard that and said she ordered to go out and buy drinks, I went.

And it was awesome.

Right up until I fell off a bar stool and broke a glass underneath me (but still managed not to cut myself!). But hey, two strangers plus the bouncer (whom the roommate knows) all rushed over to help me up, so that was very sweet. And then the bouncer helped me up the stairs.

Then on the way home, we went to Spiegel, the roommate got a cheeseburger, and I got fries and about eight glasses of water.

She went to bed early and I stayed and thoroughly entertained the bartender and his friend, who was then kind enough to help me up to the apartment because I wasn't so sure I could make it up the stairs to the apartment.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Win or lose.

So the Wolfpack lost.

Our most important player played with a stomach virus that he contracted 24 hours before the game.

The refs were blatantly unbalanced.

Our star blocker was so worried about fouling he couldn't get his usual blocks.

The announcers had their heads so far up Louisville's butts you could find their facial imprints on colonoscopies.

But you know what? They fought.

Every second of every minute, they fought.

And it's not like Louisville had it in the bag the whole game; it wasn't until the last few minutes they got the lead back and ran with it.

And still, we got into the Sweet 16. We went further than just about anyone expected, considering we were picked 10th in the ACC pre-season rankings.

So we have plenty to be proud of.

Wolfpack pride runs deep. Win or lose. And we've got plenty of talent heading into next year.

So until I die, you'll hear me shouting - GO PACK.

Now I'll be cheering Duke on to the championship for my grandma.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The not fun kind of crazy.

Post-Spring Break, the midpoint, school tends to get crazy.

Assignments pile up.

Due dates get closer together.

And your energy just drains.

Which is why I'm very thankful that if I can just make it through this one, I only have to go through this semester business twice.

This night, I fell asleep at about 9:30 in the middle of a basketball game and slept for twelve solid hours. I think I needed it.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I have few thoughts today.

Today was one of those days where I couldn't wake up.

I smacked my head on the wall in the seizure last night, at least that's what I'm assuming considering the position I woke up in and the stinging I had in one spot after, and I had a terrible headache by the time the EMTs showed up, but I thought that wouldn't make a difference since I was sitting very close to the wall when it happened. It normally only takes me a few hours for my body to recalibrate and get back to normal.

Well, I had a killer migraine today. Between that and all the emotions from last night and the lingering anxiety of what tomorrow and the coming days could bring (regarding numerous things, but mostly the Cushing's blood test), it's like my body just shut down for a day.

I don't even know what else to say. I'm just feeling beaten down, to be quite honest. But tomorrow's a new day.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Life is cool.

Because sometimes my British parents (Paddy's parents) pick New York City for their first visit to America and they make a crazy itinerary fit in with my schedule and I get to see them and hug them for the first time in almost seven years. And they're still my Mum and Dad and I'm still their American daughter.

Because my time with them ended right before stuff at the dance studio started, and I had told the staff that I would come back tonight if it were at all possible.

Because I got to dance again (for FREE) and confirm that dancing really is something that makes me feel my soul come alive.

Because the staff there already feels like family. When I only met them last week. (I told Mike that the DWM Soho staff were some of the nicest people I've met in New York and he replied, "That's because none of us are from here." Ha!)

Because I made it through the whole event (group class + party) before I had a seizure. Literally, people were packing up and leaving. Talk about frustrating.

Because when I started crying from embarrassment, people hugged me and told me I had nothing to be embarrassed about or feel bad about, that they were still glad I was there. And they didn't tell me I shouldn't come back, just maybe that I shouldn't push myself so hard. (Which I knew that. The group class plus the party was more than an hour and a half of dancing, but the lesson yesterday was only about 35 minutes, and I had no problems in the group class which was about 45 minutes, so just that might be fine time-wise.)

Because out of 8.5 million people in New York City, and 1.8 million in Manhattan, I got the exact same two EMTs as last week. What are the odds?

Because when I was feeling really down and upset and frustrated, I called Clayton, and an hour of talking things out with my best friend helped me calm down. That's one of the many reasons I know he's my best friend - talking to him helps me calm down when I feel like everything is out of control.

Because wrestling with questions is okay, even if sometimes I don't feel like it is.

Because my life is never going to be simple and I'm never going to be able to do everything that I want to do, but I'm still trying. I'm still stubborn. And I'm still living.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.

I woke up today mixed with emotions. Part of me wished I was still on the retreat, but the other part of me was SO excited to go back and see this guy.

The second I walked back in the Dance With Me SoHo studio, people were greeting me and giving me hugs. They remembered me (hopefully for more than just my seizure). They asked me how I was doing and told me they were so happy to have me back. It felt so warm and welcoming that even though I'd been shaking a bit walking in just from excitement and nerves, I was immediately put at ease.

Kosta, the manager, who is, like, a giant, came out and greeted me while Mike was doing something, and then we got to work. We covered the basics of the rumba, salsa, and the waltz in 30 minutes and it was so much fun. I can't say that enough. Maybe it's just because music has always been in my blood, but my whole body felt happy every second of it. I didn't want it to end. And unfortunately, because private lessons are so expensive, it'll be a while before I get to do this again until I get a higher paying job. They do have group lessons and parties, though, which are way cheaper, and I actually also get one of each of those free, so I will definitely still at least be attending some of those. I've got the dancing bug now! :)

And as it turns out, despite my utter lack of coordination, I'm actually pretty good at it! Mike said I was doing a lot of things correctly and that I was a really fast learner. The only thing I really messed up on was the salsa spins. He also told me that unlike a lot of the beginners he sees and teaches, I was really good about keeping eye contact with him and not spending the whole time staring at my feet working on getting everything right. It took a lot of willpower not to respond "Well, have you SEEN you? You're pretty easy to want to look at." I mean, come on. ;)

While we were working, we got to talk a good deal, so I told him that I've been in music, playing and singing, since I was 9, so I had the advantage of knowing rhythm and counting. I also told him about how when I was 9 I told Mom I wanted to be a dancer and so today was really fulfilling a longtime dream of mine.

One thing that really stood out to me, though, is that we were talking about my disabilities while he was showing me a step, and he said something about getting out and doing this is me overcoming my disabilities. He said he thought it was awesome that I still wanted to try this despite how my body can mess up on me so much. So I told him that that is something that I hear a lot from people, how amazing they think it that I don't let my physical problems get in the way of me getting out and at least trying to do things, but that if I never tried anything that seemed like it might hurt or be too hard I would be pretty sad and very, very bored. That cracked him up.

But it's true. As cliché as the saying is, I want to do whatever I can while I'm alive. I don't want to look back and wish I'd taken an opportunity that was in front of me. And like I said, this has been a dream for 13 years now, one that I long ago gave up hope on. I know I would've regretted not exploring this. I never want my body or my disabilities or my health issues to define who I am or hold me back in fear. I want to take full advantage of everything I have in this life.

The title is from OneRepublic's "I Lived". Check out the lyrics. It says everything I mean and am trying to say.

"It's your choice, Ace. People can live a hundred years without really living for a minute. You climb up here with me, it's one less minute you haven't lived." ~ Gilmore Girls

I swear, I really lived today.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Worth It

Oh man.

I didn't fall asleep until about 5 am this morning because after talking to Kimarley so long and then taking a shower, my body was in so much pain I couldn't fall asleep. So, um, getting up at 8 for breakfast was ROUGH. I know I had a total zombie look on my face while sitting at my table.

Session 4's worship seemed to liven me up a bit. Music tends to do that in general. Session 4 was just a long session of worship and communion and prayer together, no Scripture readings, and it was as lovely as you would imagine. Ashley and I stood at the back to pray with anyone who needed it during and after Communion, but no one needed it, so we ended up sharing and praying over each other. Which turned out to be really good for the both of us. Like I said, new connections made.

Then we had to pack up and leave. We were supposed to leave at 11, but once again, the bus was late and didn't show up until 11:20, so we left about 10 minutes after that. A lot of people slept on the way back because we were all beat, but I spent the whole time talking to Kimarley, Sean, Betty, and Sumit.

Funny thing about when we finally got back to the city was that the bus pulled up and dropped us off right in front of one of NYC's Brother Jimmy's restaurants (the ones named for NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano). So I knew I wanted to eat lunch, but then I opened the door and Ashley and her husband Didrik were already waiting for a table. Ashley and I had mentioned this morning that we'd love to talk sometime so I could share my testimony with her, so we all had lunch and I did just that. (And then they refused to let me pay for my meal.) Since we were a ways away from a subway station so I would have had to take a cab home and then another all the way to Midtown for work, I decided I would just go straight to work from there. Which worked out perfectly because we got so caught up in conversation that when I left there, I barely had time to make it to work through the traffic and change before my shift started at 4.

Work is always tedious, and this one was a pain because one of the only three other people on the closing shift with me (besides the manager) didn't call and didn't show up so we were terribly hectic from being understaffed, but this one was a bit different since two hours into it I began getting delirious from being overtired. So for the next six hours, I began getting weirder and weirder. I had my coworker Jackie rolling with laughter as the night slowed down because she thought I was crazy. Which I was. Doing a 16-hour day on 3 hours of sleep is not for the normal.

But the experiences I had this weekend? They were 100% worth the exhaustion.

And hey, I was free entertainment for 1000 customers.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thank God for community.

I had a lot of bad dreams this weekend about anxiety over the upcoming Cushing's/tumor stuff. But I don't want to talk about that. Here's what was awesome about Saturday.

Great worship.
New connections: Kimarley, Sean, Steve, Ashley, and more.
Lots of laughter.
People praying over me.
Group prayer.
Hugs. So many hugs. This hugger's heart could not have been happier.
Freedom to cry. Sean showing up and holding me in his arms even when I didn't know anyone saw me crying. What a sweet picture of Jesus.
So many opportunities to share my testimony.
Late nights.
Long conversations.
S'mores in the snow.
Karaoke. (I may or may not have sung Uptown Funk.)
The overwhelming feeling of love in the room.
PS: Wolfpack knocked a #1 seed out of the NCAA and is going to the Sweet 16. You know Mom called me. ;)

I'll be honest. As amazing as my church is, sometimes in the past I have felt like everyone had their own group and I didn't really have one (how normal, right?). Not anymore. These people rallied around me in many different ways. They are my family, no question. I belong. There's rest in that.

God made Himself so known and present at this retreat. At the first session, Dana asked us to think about what in our lives felt like a battle, and what we hoped to hear from God this weekend, and I just wanted peace and to know He was there. By Sunday, I was confident of His presence because of the love shared with my church family.

There's no other word to describe today except gratitude. I am grateful for every second of today and every person that was there. The body of Christ is such a beautiful thing when it's working as one.

Blogger deleted this entire post and I am too tired to rewrite everything, but this says enough. God is good. My church family is beyond amazing. And I am loved more than I can even wrap my head around.

Steve and Sean

Isis (yes, an unfortunate name given the current state of the world)

Kimarley. Kim hugs are the best! And luckily for me, he will hug me anytime I want.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

I'm not the murderer!

This was the start of a great few days that I've been looking forward to for a while now.

First I worked 9-5, which was fine, I guess. Just boring as all get out, per usual, and not so fun saying goodbye to some people I was seeing for the last time. After I clocked out, I hung out and relaxed for a bit and ate dinner because the bus was leaving from a really weird spot at 7 pm, and I didn't want to go home and then have to turn around and leave. People off the clock are in there a lot so no one cared.

I probably should be better about checking the weather every day, because I completely missed the news that it was supposed to snow today until I called Mommom this morning for her birthday and she asked "has it started snowing yet?" By the time I left for the bus at 6:30 it was POURING snow. So imagine everyone's great joy when the bus showed up at like 7:10 when we were told it would be there at 6:45.

Oh I should probably mention where I was going. This weekend was City Grace's church retreat weekend, so we were headed to this center up in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. There, just so no one is confused.

The bus ride there was fine. It only took a little over two hours with the snow. The group decided to play some weird Anime movie on the bus system, so I put in my earbuds and listened to music. I wanted to sleep, but the bus was too lurchy. Yes, I know that's not a real word. Go with it.

When we got there, everyone checked in and got our room keys and breathed for a few minutes before we had an icebreaker thing. We played two games - one was this dancing thing where we were in four teams and we all had to do the same motion at the same time and then call out another group. No hesitating, no mess ups, no repeating moves, or we were eliminated. My team won, which was cool. It was mostly just hilarious seeing the weird moves teams came up with.

Then we played a game called Wink Murder, which is apparently like some game called Mafia. Justin, who was overseeing everything, tapped three people on the shoulder while everyone had their eyes closed, and they became the murderers. Everyone had to go around greeting each other over and over and if a murderer winked at you, you had to wait ten seconds and then drop dead. You could accuse someone, but someone had to second it, and then if they were a murderer, they were dead, and if you were wrong, you were dead. I was the first person accused, and like thirty seconds in! Do I really look that suspicious?!  Too bad for Sean, the guy that accused me, I wasn't a murderer. We were all getting really into it, too, so much so that everyone was still afraid of me even after the group knew I wasn't one of the murderers. The funniest part is that I shook the hands of all three of the murderers but none of them winked at me.

After that, we were free to do whatever we wanted. I taught Jenga to Isis and Marcelo, my two Brazilian friends, and then played Taboo for a while until everyone got tired. Then I just took a shower and went to bed.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'm so happy tonight.

For three reasons.

There's this.

A video posted by Mallory Jones (@_callmemal) on

Heavens to Betsy, Wolfpack. Please, please, PLEASE, when you play #1 Villanova on Saturday, do not wait until the last 20% of the game to remember how to play basketball!

We won 66-65 after coming back from a 16-point deficit at the start of the second half with 0.1 on the clock by a basket from the guy who is normally our star defender and not known for making shots.

I hate to sound like a cliché white girl but I can't even right now. I spent like 10 solid minutes on the phone with Mom afterward going "Oh my gosh" repeatedly.

Of course, then I had to deal with all the haters going "Why is NC State celebrating like that? They barely won!" Hello! We're celebrating like that BECAUSE we barely won! Going from a 16-point deficit to winning at the buzzer feels freaking amazing! I think this is what Jimmy V would say to those people.

Mom said this game felt like the Heart Attack Pack of Mr. Valvano and 1983. I screamed very loudly when that shot went in. Thankfully, the country knows it's March Madness so the neighbors didn't call 911.

And then there's this: I got to talk to my love, Jay (from England) on Skype for over an hour tonight. It's been way too long since we've had a decent chat, and I've missed him so much. Just getting to hear his voice made me beam with happiness. Thank God for technology.

And finally, there's this: Tomorrow after work, I get to leave for the church retreat. I'll be at a center in the heart of the Poconos until Sunday afternoon, and then I'm not sure yet if I work Sunday night. There's very little cell reception, but there is Wifi, but I'm not even taking my computer, just my phone. I can't wait to see what God has in store for me this weekend, and for my church family.

Okay, off to bed. 6:30 will come very quickly.

I'm also very thankful I decided to take Benadryl around 10:15 tonight because otherwise, I would be way too wound up to sleep.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So. Um. Yeah.

So apparently I definitely have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I heard it as a possibility years ago, but now the bloodwork my endocrinologist just did apparently proves it.

I also might have Cushing's Disease. I don't even fully know what that is but I have a blood test to confirm the diagnosis next Thursday. Then if that is positive I need to have some more tests done to see if it's caused by a tumor.

Having a diagnosis or even a possible diagnosis to years of problems is something to be thankful for. But the word tumor kind of scares the hell out of me.

The good news of today is that I got my complimentary dance lesson scheduled for Monday. So I have that to look forward to.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let your freak flag fly, New York.

Ah, St. Patrick's Day. A universal excuse for drunken debauchery in the middle of the day, no verbal filters, and wearing anything you want anywhere you want. Apply those factors to a sea of 8 million people crammed on an island, and you have today in New York City.

I started work at 4:00 pm. At approximately 4:05 pm, I got my first stumbling drunk girl. The day pretty much got better from there in terms of entertainment for me.

A guy from Dublin told me about all the girls who offered to kiss him.

A girl did a faceplant on the counter while I got her cigarettes.

A guy from Entourage (apparently, I have no idea who he was) and a guy who works for the Bleacher Report came in. Bleacher Report guy Lance called me Boo the whole time and asked if he could take a picture with me. Entourage Alexander joined in.

If any of you watch Entourage, feel free to tell me if you recognize that white guy.

One guy yelled at me asking me if I wanted to live in the Caribbean. "YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THE CARIBBEAN!" "Right now, I just want you to stop yelling at me." He apologized.

A whole squad worth of drunk firefighters came in. One kept feeding me Doritos.

And that's just what sticks out to me right now.

Ah, New York City, the city that has a whole convention dedicated to people dressing up like Santa Claus and running through the streets half-naked, you sure know how to enjoy life.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

I choose to dance.

When I was nine, my mom had to sit me down and ever-so-gently explain to me why it wasn't physically possible for me to be a dancer. Looking back, it's kind of laughable that I ever thought I could be, what with my birth defects and disabilities and everything and knowing all that came in the years after that conversation, but call it the naïveté of a child.

Because I bought a ticket to the Sway meet and greet back in December, I was automatically put on an email list. Most of the events in the emails, I haven't been able to attend because I couldn't afford it, but tonight, every dance studio in the Dance With Me family was hosting a premiere party to celebrate the new season of Dancing with the Stars. It was free. DWM has a studio in Soho. That was just calling my name!

Tonight was the big night. I put on a dress (which anyone who knows me knows is a rare occasion) and headed down. Literally down - it was in the basement of the building.

At first it was a bit awkward because, since I didn't go with anyone, I just sat there and watched people. There were still some lessons going on, so I got to watch some. I was dancing by myself to some of the music they had on, ha! But then, everyone was able to get up and dance for a bit before the show started, so I saw this fella standing there, and feeling brave, walked up and asked him to dance with me. (Get it? :p)

This is Mike! My first ever dance teacher. He's wonderful. I get a free lesson for coming tonight, and I've already decided I want him to be my teacher. After a bit, Mike switched partners with this guy.

Daniel! He had me laughing, mostly when he told me I should stop gripping his hands so hard.

They were the only two I got pictures with, because then the show came on and everyone was much more distracted, but I'm just happy I have a couple to memorialize the experience.

Everyone was even dancing during the commercial breaks, so I got to dance with a guy named Justin, and then Mike again (we just spotted each other and were both free and went 'why not?'), and then totally claimed a guy named Andrey for the next round because he just looked adorable (which thankfully he was fine with, haha!).

Well, in the middle of dancing with Andrey, I had a seizure. Sigh. I think it was just because it was so hot down there PLUS I danced five different times and when I was dancing with Andrey I think I just did one too many spins. Luckily, Andrey caught me so I didn't hit or hurt anything which means I could avoid another hospital trip. Also, thankfully I had mentioned my seizures in conversation so people knew I have a disorder and thus weren't completely terrified. I was so embarrassed and frustrated for interrupting the party and because I really was having such a good time. But anyway, the ambulance was called while I was still out so they came and checked me out and actually went up with me and waited and hailed a cab so no one else had to miss any of the show. That was nice. I knew I didn't need to go to the hospital because I felt like I normally do after a seizure, shaky, nauseous, but mostly just very tired.

Honestly, though, I got home and almost immediately started sobbing. All that was running through my head was that I just wanted to have a normal night for once. I had been looking forward to this night for several weeks and of course my stupid body had to go and ruin it. I felt like an idiot for going tonight and breaking the 3+ month seizure-free streak I had going. But then I talked to Mom and she reminded me of all the seizures I've had sitting down doing nothing. She also told me she was proud of me for going because she never wants to see me stop living my life because of all my health issues.

And she's right. I had SUCH a good time up until the seizure. Everyone there wasn't just talented, they were so kind and welcoming and fun that I didn't feel like a total oddball for being new and alone. And when I was dancing, I was so genuinely happy even though I had no idea what I was doing and not to mention it's physically SO hard. What kind of life would I be living if I didn't do stuff like this that I love? Like Mom said, I could have had a seizure sitting at home (I HAVE had a seizure sitting at home) and you know, I have a disorder that's not going to go away. It's much more controlled than it has been and even if dancing tonight is what brought it on, I only have one life. I deserve to do things that make me happy. Things that I love.

Dance With Me studios are 100% open to anyone, even people with all sorts of disabilities (They're even certified to teach wheelchair dance! How cool is that?!) so I can't see the seizure making them take back their offer of giving me a free lesson. So you know what? I'm going to go to it and I'm going to have fun and I'm going to DANCE.

I'll probably stick with the slower dances next time, though.

(And bring LOTS of water. Lots and lots of extra water. Basements are hot.)

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Big Dance

WHOA BABY. The Wolfpack are going back to the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year! I kind of expected it, but still it feels good and a huge accomplishment with this young team, and plus you can never be 100% certain unless you're a team like Kentucky or Duke. Not only that, they're getting some serious press as a team to watch out for. I'm so excited to see how far we can go this year, especially since a lot of people were doubting our chances after losing our big star TJ to the NBA at the end of last year.

Our quarter of the bracket through the Elite 8...One analyst actually had us in the Elite 8. Oh I could only hope. The Big Dance is here!

Survive and advance. One game at a time. Let's get it! I'm so excited! This was the upper I needed halfway through my shift tonight.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

No energy. None.

I usually work Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday, and then I have class Wednesday and Thursday, which means that Saturday and Monday are my only real days off, and so far, I'm practically comatose on those two days.

Which hasn't been so bad thus far as schoolwork has been minimal, but I'm smart enough to know that the second half of the semester is going to get nuts.

Lord, help me.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Glee took me to church tonight.


Chills don't even begin to explain my feelings when I hear this.

Not to mention, I looked up the original by Hozier and that music video and the story behind it and the song made me cry.

I love when artists use their gift for a serious message and a platform.

Work was work. I got kissed on the cheek by a drunk dude, so you know, the usual. ;)

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

One of those days...

Today's one of those days where I just want a break from this story I've been given.

My pain is getting worse not better and I didn't fall asleep until 9:30 this morning and got up at 1:00, so I'm dead tired but still can't sleep because of the chest spasms.

I'm frustrated.

I'm upset.

And I'm tired of being so miserable.

That's not pretty, but at least it's honest.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dream Clayton sucks. Real Clayton is awesome.

So in going with the insane dream theme of the week, last night's dream was basically an all-night saga of sweet, precious, not-a-mean-bone-in-his-body Clayton going off on me, calling me unlovable and basically all the mean things I ever heard from Chelsea and bullies growing up crammed into one long dream coming out of the mouth of one of the nicest, most loyal people I've ever met in my life.

I had a hard time shaking that one off when I woke up. For the first few minutes I was shaken and scared that that dream was some weird premonition and there was something I was missing. But then I remembered something vital.

This is Clayton.

But even still, I couldn't get the dream out of my head. Luckily for me, I got to see real-live Clayton on FaceTime tonight. We were talking about Daylight Savings Time changing and how that throws everyone off, and I mentioned the strange dreams I'd been having and mentioned that last night was the craziest of all and it had him in it. (The funniest part is I was in his dream last night, too, but it was completely normal, us just hanging out.) He asked me what happened so I told him.

He sat there and listened and then, the second I was done, exclaimed, "Wow, dream me is a dick!" Ah, Clayton.

So afterwards, as a joke, I asked him if he would send me a video of him just saying "I love you, Mal" so that if dream him shows back up I could play it on repeat to remind myself that real-live him actually is pretty fond of me. I was laughing the whole time, and had my usual smirk on, so I know he knew I was kidding.

He sent me the video, anyway. And included him holding his hands in the shape of a heart.

I have a feeling this video is going to come in handy on many bad days, whether jerk dream him comes back or not. We all need to hear that someone loves us on a bad day.

To you reading this right now, I sincerely hope you have a friend like this in your life.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What did Daylight Savings do to me?!

Both Sunday night and last night I have had crazier dreams all night long than I have had in a long time.

In one, I was a horse jockey.

In one, I was filming a scene with the guys from The Big Bang Theory and we were all wearing the giant fruit costumes from Fruit of the Loom commercials.

One I remember involved a low-flying rocket.

Basically, both nights have led to me waking up the next morning going WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?

It's like losing that hour has sent my subconscious off the deep end.

In other news, today was a boring Tuesday. Doctor appointment to follow up on my hospital visit last week, I made a bunch of spaghetti, washed the dishes from cooking, took a nap, and then went to work all night. Luckily, there were no mean old women or register problems today.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

On Being Lonely but Brave

Call me naive, but I didn't expect the transition to New York to be this hard. In fact, I thought I'd be settled now, that I wouldn't miss my mom so much, that I'd feel like I have friends here, the kind of friends that became my family at Campbell.

But today marks 7 months since I landed here in New York City, and I spent most of Saturday night crying, and have spent pretty much every free moment since feeling like I want to.

I didn't expect to still miss my mom this much.

I didn't expect to be SO happy to be here and feel so out of place at the same time.

I didn't expect to know this is where I'm supposed to be and question what I'm doing here at the same time.

Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. You know I'm not one for giving up and throwing in the towel. I'm just lonely. I can go from feeling like normal and like I belong right where I am one second to loneliness and homesickness hitting me like a tidal wave the next.

This is why I was up on the phone so late with Mom Saturday night. I was crying, and I needed someone to process everything in my head and give me some perspective who would mind me calling them at midnight. Sometimes moms really can make everything better, you know?

She reminded me that I was just as excited, if not more thanks to the brain surgeries and all the high school bullying, to get to Campbell from Swansboro as I was to move to New York, and it wasn't until my last two years there that I felt like I had a solid group of friends. She reminded me that I called her crying more days than not my first semester. She reminded me that the bigger a city is, the more crowded and isolated it feels because you have less time with people because the people are busier. She reminded me that I have my church family (I reminded her that it's not that they're not incredible people, I just only get to see them for a couple hours once a week so I don't feel super close to them yet). She reminded me that I'm in a different world now, that this is a stepping stone between college and career, so it's possible that I may not feel totally settled until I have a full-time job that's actually in my field, but that's okay because there are only fourteen months until I graduate and can get that security.

She reminded me I can do anything for fourteen months. Her exact words that followed were, "You survived Swansboro High School for four years, and people were putting you through hell there. You can do this for fourteen months."

And she's right. The timing of all these feelings arising and hitting me so hard has just been weird for me to deal with because I got a letter from my friend Monique, basically the only person from high school other than Matt I have any desire to keep in contact with, at the beginning of last week. We've formed a pen pal friendship of sorts and I love it. Anyway, in that letter, she talked a lot about how brave I am for moving and how she didn't think she could do it and how I make this look so easy and I was just sort of like Whoa now. Hold up. I am not brave. This is terrifying. But while talking to Mom, I mentioned this, and she told me I am totally brave! Because I'm scared but I did this anyway. Because I never back down even when I'm scared, even in situations where I'm hesitant at first. And it reminded me of this quote...

I made the picture thing, but the quote is actually from the book/movie The Princess Diaries. Cheesy movies can be helpful every now and then. :)

So what do you say? Let's keep doing stuff that scares us, even when it's hard. Life is much more fun that way.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

I thought it would take longer for this.

Y'all, I know I'm only a month into this job, but I hate retail.

Don't get me wrong: I'm super thankful to have this job (little money is better than no money at all), I like my coworkers, and my managers have been incredibly accommodating. In fact, I kind of wish I wasn't hired as an eventual transfer because even with the commute, I'm happy with the setup there.

But seriously, y'all. I didn't think it would take me this short amount of time to say I hate retail, but it did and I do.

Today sucked. Literally the second I got to my register I had to deal with this old woman who went OFF on me and a guy I asked a question to who was nearby because I couldn't leave to go get her a carton from the back and then he said he didn't think we sold cartons, because we wouldn't just give her the 10 cigarettes of the kind she wanted that were up there, because we were taking too long, and on and on and on. She started insulting my coworker because he didn't know we were allowed to sell cartons and because he brought the wrong carton back at first, and this was the first customer I seriously wanted to slap, elderly woman or no. I tried to calm her down as we waited for my coworker to get back and said something to the effect of "He didn't mean to upset you," and I don't even know what she said at first but the second half of her response was "I can be a very vicious person, you know!" Not even kidding. It took every ounce of will power I had not to retort, "You don't say! I didn't know that before, but you've made that abundantly clear now!" She had said in the beginning, "If you bring back the wrong ones, I'm going to walk out," and when he brought back the wrong ones the first time, she didn't leave, so I also kind of wanted to say, "What happened to that whole you were going to walk out thing?" Even when my coworker returned and profusely apologized for not knowing we could sell her a full carton, she still kept insulting him about how she would leave if she saw him here the next time she came in and she wished this store hired smarter employees (seriously). That was the first truly awful experience I've had working. When she FINALLY left, my coworker and I just looked at each other and sighed a huge sigh of relief.

Then, the rest of the night, we had register and system issues. There are four registers at the front, okay? Well, one of them has been down for about a week, we can't get techs out there to fix it. When I started my shift, one of them was running so slowly no one could use it and keep up with customers because we are steadily busy from before 4 to at least 9:30. (For a small-sized store, it is popular.) Then, the one I was using's scanner died, so we had to reboot its whole system which is a slow process. That leaves ONE REGISTER. And the register is set much lower than the others, which means I couldn't use the chair that I had permission to use because it's set up high like a bar stool.  And then the printer for the larger photos died, just when we were trying to finish an order for a woman who had order a bunch of 8x10s. And the store was SO FREAKING HOT because the temperature was actually in the 40s tonight instead of the 10s and 20s.

All that combined with it was the first day of Daylight Savings, and I actually made it to Bible Study and church this morning, and I got almost no sleep last night because I was an emotional mess, and I was not feeling work at all today.

Needless to say, it didn't take me long to fall asleep this time.

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Duke got #GTHC from our Fight Song. Just saying.

The NC State fight song is as follows:

We're the red and white from State,
and we know we are the best!
With our hands behind our back,
we can take on all the rest!
Go to hell, Carolina!
Devils and Deacs, stand in line!
We're the red and white from NC State.

And yes, we always sing that fifth line louder than the rest. Hence the bold.

Hey, I didn't write the fight song.

Duke and NC State fans can always bond over one thing - our mutual disdain for UNC.

Today, State beat Syracuse and Duke beat UNC. So I'm happy.

Tomorrow, church then work. Oy.

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Friday, March 6, 2015


Intentional is a word I hear thrown around a lot. Particularly with women in reference to their time usage. And while I obviously like the idea of people being better managers of their time, this has become one of those words that I hear used so much (particularly with Christians and with reference to the One Word thing) it feels cheesy and cliché and almost loses its meaning in my eyes. That may sound harsh, but I'm just being honest.

But tonight, I'm feeling really appreciative of intentionality and how it plays out in friendships. It didn't come to mean so much to me until I moved far, far away from all the people most important to me and intentionality had to be a priority if I was going to stay in touch with and connected to the people I love and adore.

I got to talk to Austin for about 10 minutes tonight, and in it we were talking about him coming closer to graduation and how he was feeling and he mentioned intentionality. He said he was choosing to be more intentional with the friends he chose, that he actually had to back off some friendships so that he could invest more in the relationships he knew he wanted to keep long past college. I remember thinking YES!!!

Yes, because that's such a good thing to learn, but also yes, because I'm so glad I'm one of the people he chose. Just being honest. :)

It's like with me and Clayton, and how we make it a priority to have our FaceTime dates every week or two. I make jokes about how I start twitching if I go too long without seeing his face, but really, I just don't want to lose the bond that we have.

I'm learning every day that as we get older, relationships take effort. It's one thing when you're on a small college campus and you're a few minutes' walk from any of your best friends, it's something totally different when you have to carve out time to make sure you connect with the people you love. I may get tired, and I may get busy, but I pray that people and relationships are always as big of a priority as they are to me now and that I will always make sacrificing time a priority in order to stay close to them.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Jack Sparrow says I'm not crazy.

I got released around 4:30 pm today. In the middle of a snowstorm.

Instead of waiting for Des to come to take me back home, I just left by myself seeing no reason for a second person to come out in the mess.

Instead of going straight home, I went to the bank first to withdraw the rest of the rent money for March.

And instead of taking a shower and going straight to bed, I stayed up way too late catching up on DVR stuff and playing trivia crack with Holly.  But you know what?

You can't argue with Captain Jack. ;)

Happy birthday to my sweet love bug, Blake. Five. Wow.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

That time I wanted to throat-punch an old lady.

For the first time in my life, I was in a 4-bed hospital room.

That was about as much fun as you would imagine.

Especially since I was sharing with 3 very old women, none of whom spoke very much English, who kept me up all. night. long.

The Chinese woman was hacking.

The Spanish woman either had her entire biological family in the room or was snoring like a buzzsaw.

And the Russian woman was moaning and whining for help and that she was dying no matter how many times or how frequently our nurse came in to see her. As soon as he left, she started up again. By about 3:30 am I was so tired and in so much pain that I wanted to get up and go off on her. I didn't, though. Because headphones.

Needless to say, this made an already crappy day worse.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

And again.

Tonight after work, I ended up in the ER again because of severe chest pain, blurry vision, dizziness, and headache and nausea that didn't respond to medication.

So it was a long sleepless night, thankful that Holly was there with me for most of it until she went home to sleep.

They decided to admit me in order to rule out any dangerous or scary things. I was too tired and in too much pain to say anything but okay. And then I prayed I wouldn't be in a super long time. Because hospitals make me scared no matter how many times I'm in one.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Not in the mood for this again.

My migraines were getting better.

And then Friday happened.

On the one hand, I have Dilaudid to help ease the pain and sleep through it.

On the other hand, I can't do anything but sleep because it's been so long since I've had any Dilaudid.

I have a paper due Thursday.

Lord, help me.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

God bless Mr E.

Mr E is the manager that was on tonight.

Mr E was the manager that was there on Friday when I ended up having to leave and go to the hospital.

Mr E is the sweetest manager on the staff.

Mr E let me have a seat at the register throughout my shift tonight. I don't know that any other manager would let me do that.

God bless Mr E. He made tonight so so so much easier after such a bad Friday, and I don't have any reason to think it would cause an issue with my job. Hallelujah.

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