The Rejection

Every morning I spring right out of my sleep and reach right for the phone to check my email. I wait patiently as my iphone loads and cringe when I see I’ve received nothing from UW’s School of Social Work. I do and have done this every morning since February.

Today was no different. I’m getting really frustrated. I applied for the early decision deadline and was supposed to hear back a month ago. It’s making me paranoid. I want to know something!! Actually, I NEED to know something. There are so many other things Husband and I have floating out in the universe that need decisions and we haven’t been able to make them because so much is pending.

At this point, I’m feeling like I didn’t get in, so as I check my phone this morning, I don’t even feel excited when I see, “SSW Admissions: A response…” in the subject line in my inbox. My eyes dart right past the frill and straight to the “Unfortunately we cannot offer you admission…”

I’m not shocked. I’m not surprised. I’m not sad. I don’t even really care anymore. Maybe a month ago I’d be disappointed because this is now my second UW rejection. Maybe a month ago I’d be devastated because we want to move back to Seattle SOOOO badly and this was the perfect plan. But today, as I’m sitting here tired, worn, and stoic. I don’t care.

Frankly, that’s one less choice we’d have to sort through by summer. Now, it’s between returning to NYU and the Peace Corps (if and when that ever moves along). So far, I’ve got a huge financial hold on my account that is about to be sent to collections because they over-refunded me before my medical leave, which means I cannot register for classes next month. Thanks NYU. Husband is pretty confident that the Peace Corps will actually work out, but the catch is the application process is SOOOOO…..LOOOOOONG. We have an interview on April 18th but between waiting for medical clearances, nominations, and placements for not one but TWO people, we could be waiting around all year, and that’s if they even like us.

UGH.

How exhausting my life has turned out to be. I don’t even want to get started on how Husband and I are feeling about our current living situation. That’s a whole ‘nother post for a whole ‘nother day.

Fucking UW…. Jerks.

*Then Walks Away*

*Then Walks Away*

-Jenn

One Step Closer

Husband woke me up like an excited little kid on Christmas morning! “Babe, Babe!! She emailed us back. We get to schedule an interview!!” It took me a few seconds for it to hit me. I grabbed my phone to check my email; we’ve been getting the exact same emails separately even though we’ve applied as a couple. Sure enough, there it was: Subject: “Scheduling Interview.”

It took us just a few minutes to choose one of the three listed dates and times and respond back to our regional recruiter. She then informed us that interviews would be around 3 hours long. We’d have an hour each for individual interviews with the final hour dedicated to our couple interview. She also included some questions we should consider and reflect upon prior to our interviews.

So it’s settled, on April 18th Husband and I will have our Peace Corps interviews!!

Husband’s Take:

“I’m very excited for the opportunity we may have to serve in another country for people who actually need help; kids who actually need help learning. It’ll be good to spend a little time away. I’ve got a little bit of an advantage, I’ve been out in the elements before in the military, but now I may get a little more freedom because I won’t be confined to a base. I’m excited. I think we’ll do great in the interviews. I’m a little worried about the individual interview though. I mean, I know why I want to serve so I’m not worried about those questions, but I am worried about the wife questions. I’m really overprotective of you. If they ask me, ‘Hey, let’s say something-something happened to your wife, what would be your response?’ I’ll say something crazy, then I’d blow the interview and we can’t go because they think I’m actually crazy. I might go into combat mode over you! I’m not really worried about shitting outside because I’ve been there done that. I’m just worried about you. Other than that, I know we’ll kill the couple interview. Honestly, my real concern is the medical portion. We just have to get past the medical exams.”

Agreed Husband. Agreed.

-Jenn

Happy Dance

Happy Dance

Monday Munchies

In the wake of this drastic dietary change… I’ve had to sacrifice some of my most FAVORITE foods and settle for some pretty lame alternatives. Because I have failed to learn to cook, I have been very overwhelmed with the ever-growing list of what I cannot eat. My mom has graciously decided to join me on what she calls a “lifestyle adjustment.” While she’s having a ball, I simply want to die. Thanks for her though for keeping from starvation. Unfortunately, we’re about two weeks in so far and I’ve had two secret mess-ups. ONE: I went shopping with Husband, and I nearly threatened his life for a slice of pizza. I had two! TWO: I ate the SHIT out of a Big Zax Snack Meal the next day… in the car… at a gas station… far from the house.

As hard as it’s been, these are a few of my personal triumphs so far:

1. Homemade fruit pops: I am craving ice cream but I can’t have dairy anymore…so… I made my own popsicles with fruits and veggies in our juicer. I juiced cantaloupes, oranges, carrots, cucumbers, apples, and pears and froze them. They taste so amazing! Definitely a WIN!

Found these at Publix. Less than $5.

Found these at Publix. Less than $5.

2. Trail Mix: I absolutely, positively, whole-heartedly HATE(D) Trail Mix aka Bird & Squirrell Food. I hate nuts. Peanuts, specifically, give me heartburn like you wouldn’t believe. BUT… since I cannot eat processed sugars, chocolate, and gluten… I have learned to appreciate trail mix. They are jam packed with protein, which helps because I have limited my protein intake from meats that I cannot eat.

3. Almond/Coconut Milk: Holy Shit!!! This stuff is amazing! I prefer almond milk to the coconut milk, but they are both really great alternatives to dairy milk. I don’t have to worry about whether my milk is full of antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. These two alternatives also have WAY more calcium than cow’s milk. AND no tummy aches! SCORE!

CRACK!

CRACK!

4. Brown Rice: We all know that I, Jenn, am QUEEN of burnt rice. I can’t cook white rice to SAVE my life. It’s also pretty embarrassing considering I’m Hispanic and all!! Well, since I cant consume anything made from enriched flours or white bleaches, I am happy to say that I am a brown rice cooking master chef! I am cooking brown rice without a problem. Weird because I’ve always heard that it’s harder to cook brown rice than white rice. Whatever! At least I still get my rice & beans. PRAISE!

5. Coconut Oil: Cosmetic products like make-ups, lotions, shampoos, etc. and even processed foods we consume contain these things called xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen) that are setting my endometriosis awry. So, I’ve been on the hunt for some all-natural products that I can use daily in place of lotions and shampoos. Well, I stumbled across coconut oil and I am completely OBSESSED! I use it as lotion, scalp treatment, and facial moisturizer. What’s even more amazing about it is that I can turn right around and use it as a vegetable oil substitute, in place of butter, as a jelly spread and the list goes on. There are some incredible health benefits to this stuff like it’s anti-bacterial and digestive healing properties, and it aids in weight loss by assisting your metabolism.

This stuff is LIFE CHANGING.

This stuff is LIFE CHANGING.

6. Drinking my veggies: Because I have to be so tedious in intaking the good stuff, I have been juicing my veggies. I’ve been consuming (1) way more than I ever would have eaten, and (2) vegetables that I NEVER would have eaten. I can see a change in my body already. I’ve shed two inches from my waistline and my skin is much clearer.

7. Flax Seed/Konsyl: I have been eating flax seeds in my oatmeal and have been adding a bit of the Konsyl fiber supplements into my vegetable juices and have noticed a change in my digestion. I also do this to be sure than I am getting a good amount of fiber each day. Because I am juicing my vegetables rather than eating them, I am losing out on the necessary dietary fibers that those foods provide. Insert Konsyl.

Good stuff but it cost about $20.

Good stuff but it cost about $20.

8. Carob: I am a choco-fiend. I love chocolate sooo much, ESPECIALLY in those few days right before my cycle comes. My love of chocolate results in breakouts, and weight fluctuations. Though I have only had a little bit of carob, I am thrilled. It’s a great chocolate substitute that tastes very similar. I can’t wait to get my hands on some. I am so glad I get to have my chocolate fix without all the breakouts and stomach aches.

9. Salmon: I hate seafood. But, we found this almond crusted salmon recipe on the Whole Foods website and as reluctant as I was to try it, it turned out pretty damn good. I was pleasantly surprised to see how un-fishy my dinner was, and was even more excited to have a new alternative to meat.
10. Sweet Potato Fries: I love my French Fries. Mom and I fried them in cold-pressed Rosemary Oil because I have to be very careful what types of vegetable oils I am consuming. Anyways, they were… AMAZEBALLS.

I am finally starting to feel like this gluten/dairy/soy/meat intolerance thing can become something manageable. I’m starting small, making minor adjustments and not punishing myself for my slip-ups. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

-Jenn

Decisions, Decisions… The Aftermath

After ALL that talk I did the other day about my withdrawing from NYU, and about how okay I was with it, I’m taking it back. All of it. Call me spazz whatever. It was a pretty pitiful sight though: me, in the car balling my eyes out to Husband about the situation. My confidence in my ‘decision’ lasted all of 45 minutes before I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.

See, here’s the thing (just try and keep up):

1. I am enrolled at NYU in the MSW program. It’s clinical, which I don’t really care for, but you’ve heard it all already, it’s NYU, blah blah blah!! I’m technically on a medical leave but I can just submit my release papers via my OB/GYN and I’m good to go for the fall. We really don’t want to be in NY long term and I damn sure don’t want to have little Jenn&Tommy’s running around the concrete jungle. No thanks. BUT… if I get my degree from there I’m sure we’ll end up being stuck there because of my licensing and work opportunities, or whatever. Oh, and NY just so happens to be really expensive. And NYU…. The tuition… ain’t nobody got time for that!

Sea of Concrete.

Sea of Concrete.

Ran into Magic right after Orientation!

Ran into Magic right after Orientation!

2. We really, really want to go to Seattle. To live forever with a home and a garden with the kiddies and some dogs and all that holistic, west coast, earthly shit. I spent some time there a few years ago and I LOVED it, and our relationship really sort of blossomed there. It’s a special place to us. But it’s really far away from our family. Oh, and I applied to UW for their MSW program and was told that I’d know by February. It’s now March and I still have no word back. This is now my second attempt. If they let me, to hell with NY… we’re going straight to Seattle. First flight out with Apollo in hand! If they deny me, well… we haven’t figured that part out yet.

Space Needle.

Space Needle.

Mt. St. Helen's was around there somewhere.

Mt. St. Helen’s was around there somewhere.

3. In the midst of all of this, we (well, mostly I) decided that we should apply to the Peace Corps. I saw a big “Apply by February 28th to leave by the end of 2013 or early 2014” banner flash across the screen and we (mostly I) couldn’t pass that up. There’s really no telling how fast or slow that process will move because we are applying as a couple. They typically take a little longer to place couples than single people. I also really don’t think I’ll make it past the medical exam portion. My body is holding together by threads. But it’s been my goal to apply to the Peace Corps since high school. I start an application every year and never finish it. Finally, I can scratch that off my “To Do List” but yea… not sure I chose the best timing. Oops.

Photo courtesy of Google.

Photo courtesy of Google.

4. Endometriosis is really ruining my fucking life. I feel like there is a time bomb in my uterus and if I don’t have a baby TOMORROW, it’s going to blow my chances of ever having kids right to Mars. Nope. No pressure, and I really want to have a baby too. We both do. The baby fever is killing me. It’s on a really deep, conflicting, emotional level. I don’t know if it’s the fear of not being able to have babies that’s making me want one so badly, or if it’s that my body is really trying to tell me something. I love my husband with all my heart, and we talk about this all the time. We’ve even talked about starting Clomid, a fertility drug, in June.

5. Tommy wants to rejoin the reserves. He served seven years in the Air Force and he really misses the discipline. He says he had purpose then. I fully support and respect that decision. But he’s got to drop some weight in order to do so, and that’s kind of hanging in the balances because of our pending application with the Peace Corps.

Are you starting to see why I may be freaking out a bit??

Now, imagine trying to figure out the best combination of opportunities to satisfy the both us. Do I press pause on graduate school and a building career to try and have babies now, while I’m “fresh out” of surgeries and my chances for success are still pretty high so we can have a family? Or do we wait to have babies and live our lives, accomplishing things and trying to change the world and I potentially miss my chances of being able to create life with the man of my dreams? Oh, shoot… well what if the Peace Corps accepts us? Do we go? Hmmm. Seattle? New York? Babies? No babies? Peace Corps? Reserves?

It’s all a waiting game. Waiting to hear about school. Waiting to hear about jobs. Waiting to hear about Peace Corps. Waiting to hear about medical clearances. God, it’s exhausting. So that’s why we put NYU back on the table. No premature, irrational decisions. Not until we start to get some word back. It’s out of our hands still.

Anyone have any bright ideas, because so far… we’ve got nothing.

-Jenn

Decisions, Decisions…

It’s time for me to make one of the most bittersweet decisions of my very young life; a decision that I have been battling internally with for months now. One that is taking me a lot longer to come to terms with because of the circumstances. I am not one for being still, not one for moving slowly or taking time off, or “giving myself a break.” Truth is, I love living fast. I love having a million commitments all at once, stretching myself just thin enough to accomplish a world of things while remaining relatively in tact. I love being involved, and I love being busy. I love those really late nights and super early mornings. I guess in my mind I always equated busyness with successfulness, or productivity. I always had to be doing something. I could never just sit down, because when I did sit down, I crashed. My body would fall apart, I’d sleep the days away and I’d just feel like I wasn’t being a contribution to society. So… I just kept moving.

I graduated from high school in May of 2006 and went to college early that June. I did what every freshman/sophomore does… I partied my ass off. I became such a social butterfly and kind of forgot about the college part. But, I paid the price: fully loaded summer terms every single summer with no spring breaks in order to graduate with my peers. I brought my GPA up from waaay down in the dirt to an above 3.0 GPA, joined a sorority, landed a dope internship and graduated in May 2010, exactly 4 years later. From May to August I did my internship with the Boys & Girls Club, and by the end of August, drove from Georgia to Washington to join a 10-month AmeriCorps program. During that program I had 3 jobs. I worked in an elementary school from 8-3, then an afterschool program from 3:30-6, and during the nights I worked at “Latino Night School.” I did this all the while participating on community chapter sorority events, maintaining my gym membership and again, partying my ass off with my teammates. On average, I was clocking in over 93 hours of service each paycheck from AmeriCorps alone. I drove back to GA in August 2011 with my then-boyfriend Tommy (who was living in GA) after the program ended and we got married that December. I started working at Old Navy during those months. What was supposed to be something just to keep me busy, turned into the primary household income, as Tommy was still a college student and stopped receiving military student aid. I was driving an hour to Savannah to work minimum wage, trading shifts to make rent & utilities. He was supposed to graduate that May, but things just didn’t work out. We couldn’t afford his summer tuition, and I ended up cashing in my AmeriCorps education award just so we could make it.

Earlier that year, in April I believe, I was standing with Tommy in line at Old Navy, when I got the email that nearly made me pass out. I had been accepted into the Master’s of Social Work program at NEW YORK UNIVERSITY!! That school has been my dream school since I was a child. NYU was everything to me. So, it was settled. Tommy and I decided that I would go and start at NYU during the fall of 2012 and he would stay behind to finish his last semester at Georgia Southern. It would just be one semester apart, I have family in New York so no big deal.

Then I got sick.

Actually, I had been sick all along. Sick for years, but I was too busy to really notice. Or care. It’s an addiction, the fast-paced moving and shaking. If I had a pain, I’d pop an Ibuprofen. If I had a cold, I’d pop a NyQuil. Stomach ache, heartburn, skin rash? Tums and Neosporin. NEVER a day off! I wasn’t listening to my body.

I was spending the summer preparing myself for my move to New York since school started in September. UW had denied me, and George Mason accepted me… but come on, there was NO way I wasn’t going to my DREAM SCHOOL. So here I am going to my OB/GYN for a bladder infection & routine pap in July suddenly I’m having surgery in August. I had a laser laporoscopy on August 17th, stitches removed (early) on the 24th and I was on a plane on the 26th. During that time, it was suggested that I consider having babies really soon because of the endometriosis and the PCOS. I also needed another procedure for an abnormality on my pap smear, but that shit had to wait because I WAS GOING TO NYU!!

Yea right. I was an NYU student for all of two weeks before I had to take a medical leave of absence. I’m on a plane back to GA and in another surgery just days before Tommy graduates from college in December. We’ve been here in GA ever since. I was supposed to submit my paperwork to come off the medical leave in January of this year, but I haven’t yet done so. I’ve been trying really hard to get my health in order but just can’t seem to get a handle on it. Tommy isn’t too keen on being in NY while trying to start a family, and honestly, neither am I. My NYU dreams are toast!

Sometimes, I feel like I’m having to choose between two very important things. Do I try and start a family now, because I may not be able to later? (This includes fertility drugs, treatments, tests… the whole nine.) Or do I continue to follow my dreams? (Go to graduate school, join the Peace Corps, save the world and try for babies later when it MIGHT be too late.) I get so frustrated because everyone else gets to have their cake and eat it too, but me… I’m falling apart. While I was walking all over the city post-surgery, doped up on painkillers… I was damaging myself. I was in so much pain and developed internal hemorrhoids. I was being incredibly irresponsible and reckless.

I’m taking the time now to really take care of myself. I’m eating better, working out, actively listening to my body. It’s telling me that NYU is a no-go. More so then my body, my marriage is telling me NO. Neither one of us, at this point, want to go to New York anymore. I don’t want to start a family there, it’s so damn expensive, and I wasn’t really crazy about the curriculum anyways, but still I get caught up on what NYU symbolizes. NYU is fast-paced: it’s grad school classes and internships, papers and busyness, late nights and tears, stress and accomplishment. NYU needed single Jenn, able to run around like a crazy person with no commitments Jenn. But I’m not her anymore. I’m married, ready to have a home Jenn. Ready to start a family with the man of my dreams Jenn. Ready to live life slower, because not only does my condition require that, but my quality of life does too.

I mean, we haven’t ironed out the details of our “baby-making” timeline because we still have so many other possibilities out in the universe. We’re still waiting to hear from UW, did I get in or didn’t I? We’re still waiting to hear whether we can move forward with the Peace Corps. We’re in between the references and interview phase. We’re still trying to figure out what state we want to make home base, and while all of those possibilities will iron themselves out one by one, I know there is one thing I can actively eliminate. My medical leave is turning into an academic withdrawal, and I am okay with that. One decision made, a million more to choose from.

NYU SIlver

NYU SIlver

-Jenn

Like Mother, Like Son

Whenever I’d see those people walking around with their pets in dresses and bows, and really lame bowties and booties, I’d roll my eyes and swear those people were nothing short of bat shit crazy! I mean, a pet…is a pet. There is really no need for nail polish and sparkles, tutus and engraved collars, or super lame nicknames like Mr. Snuggle-Wuggles and Diva-Darling. How completely obnoxious!! The worst has got to be how these crazy people talk to their pets with those relentless baby voices, how painfully annoying….

…Yes, I definitely thought those people were a little douche-y, until we bought Apollo….

Today was Apollo’s doctor’s visit. I knew he had an ear infection. We’d been down this road before thrice over. I’ve been extra careful not to get water into his ears during bath-time, seeing as how my previous dumping water over his head technique caused ear infection #2. I’ve been blow-drying his ears out after baths, and occasionally I swab his ears, although I’m terrified I’ll have a sudden slip of the wrist and BOOM, we’re deaf! I’ve known he’s had an ear infection for quite some time; I’ve noticed each tell-tale sign: shaking his head, scratching (and moaning), he’s even started sliding his head across the floor! I suppose I’ve been so caught up in getting my life in order, that I’ve become quite irresponsible in regards to Apollo.

The nurse isn’t convinced by my confident diagnosis in his ear infection because, “his ears look nice and healthy so far.” Again I reassure her, it’s an ear infection. “Well, let’s get a swab and see.” I don’t know why she won’t believe me. She grabs a long ear swab and digs up some brown muk, smells it, and shouts, “Dear God that stinks!! Yep, that’s an ear infection.” I really didn’t need the theatrics or the faces.

So, we’re standing there him and I. Him on the cold, silver table, and me, heart sinking into my shoes as the vet informs me that Apollo’s got a severe yeast infection in BOTH ears. I’m certain I’m going to be whisked away for child endangerment. I mean, puppy endangerment. Not only that, I’ve apparently been feeding him the WRONG dog food. He’s got a gluten/soy/dairy/meat allergy, which in essence explains the eye leakage, sneezes, and possible ear troubles. Great. I should be shot.

Five prescriptions, an insanely expensive organic fish-based dog food, and $200 later, we’re on our way home and I feel terrible. Apollo is watching me from the passenger seat with those sad, sullen, how-could-you-let-this-happen-to-me eyes and I’m doing my best to avoid eye contact. Oh god, how am I going to explain this to Husband! (Whose response later on was a mere, “it’s just an ear infection, you’ve got meds, he’ll be fine.” He didn’t get it.) He’s the love of my life and I’ve just been so caught up in my own dietary restrictions and medical shenanigans, that I’ve been neglecting him. What a wake up call, it’s not like he can tell me that his ears bothering him, or that his food makes his stomach hurt. He can’t tell me that his eyes are itchy or that he needs a tissue. I love this dog with all of my heart and I feel like absolute shit.

So, I’ll be spending the next two weeks pampering my baby, cuddling and snuggling with my baby, using the best pre-mommyhood mommy voices I can muster up to make sure he knows how sorry I am and how much I love him. He’s my son. No doubt about it. I say this all the time to Tommy: “That’s your dog, but that’s my son. He was supposed to be my child, I swear he’s me in a pooch-body,” and I mean it! I mean how else do you explain the frequent infections (his ears & my body), the sudden gluten/soy/dairy intolerance (both him and I), the extra-loving, sleeps-with-his-head-propped-up-on-my-feet, early-morning-nose-kisses, joined-at-the-hip, follows-me-everywhere-I-go, responds-to-the-secret-language-only-he-and-I-understand, completely connected type of bond we share!! Exactly! He was meant to be my son, and I, his mama!

So coo on you strange, smothering parentals… I totally get it…

-Jenn

Apollo, my son.

Apollo, my son.

Heavy Duty Shizz.

Heavy Duty Shizz.

The End is Only the Beginning

Today was the last day. The last day for the junk food, the last day for the bullshitting around with my exercise regimen, the last day for processed, packaged foods & products; the last day, I swear to everyone’s gods, to actively and willing sabotage our plans for having babies and living ‘til we’re old enough to die laying in bed together, wrinkled & crinkled, holding hands & gazing into each other’s bifocals. We have to, and by have to, I mean HAVE TO change our lifestyle habits: everything from what we eat, to the products we put on our skin, to our stress management, the WORKS. It’ll be a slow and frustrating process, we know, but we don’t have a choice.

I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis. It’s a condition that basically means my uterine tissue grows on the outside of my uterus, implants on my organs and causes internal bleeding, INSANE menstrual crampage, lots of digestive issues and worst of all… infertility. I’ve also got PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which basically causes a host of other issues like imbalanced hormones, weight gain, irregular periods, oily skin & acne and keeps my eggs from maturing into eggs. My body is extremely out of whack because I’ve spent the last 8 months on bottles of prescriptions and antibiotics from surgeries, biopsies, infections, and digestive troubles. It is more important than ever, to get my body chemistry in order, and I want to do so naturally.

So… that’s it. No more fast food, no more freezer bags and pre-made dinners, no more preservatives, additives, artificials, no more, no more, no more. Those things are full of chemicals that are offsetting my hormones and really making living with endometriosis are real B-word. So we’ll see… we’ve been juicing for the past few weeks and although I personally think veggie juice tastes like dirty water, I can definitely tell a difference in my body and my skin. Tommy loves it, which is weird because he turns his nose up at veggies like a 3 year old!

I guess in order to make a drastic change in your life you’ve got to draw the last straw. That’s pretty much where we are these days: The Last Straw. And we’ll cover it all here! This blog will be about more than just our journey to healthy eating. It’ll be about our battles with infertility, our struggles with our parents, our decisions about jobs and grad schools, our successes, our marriage, our travels, our pooch Apollo (who I promise was supposed to be my son), our Peace Corps process, and our lessons along the way. We’ve got a lot going on, and we’re just trying to figure shit out.

Juicing: Tastes like dirt, smells like shit, yet does the body GOOD!

Juicing: Tastes like dirt, smells like shit, yet does the body GOOD!