Those of you who know me, know that I live in mortal fear of live animals. That’s kind of a problem since Aaron and Timothy & Grace both have dogs. And they bring their dogs to prayer services. Usually, they have the dogs in a back room, but when we greet each other with peace, quite frequently I’ll look over to see something furry meandering up and down the aisle.
For a while, Aaron’s dog was at almost every service I attended, so I had just gotten comfortable standing near a golden retriever. But then, I wasn’t able to drive to chapel much, and Aaron took to visiting me (without his dog of course.)
Timothy & Grace’s dog is really expressive, and I missed him when they moved away. Now that they’re back, I haven’t really gotten used to being jumped on by him. That border collie gets excited very easily.
Anyhow, at the average prayer service, you’ll be greeted by a golden retriever. There might even be a border collie. But a couple of times in the past few months, there was another dog. As one of the guys put it, it can only be properly called a baby polar bear.
I think it’s a Great Pyrenees. The dog is really beautiful. But it’s big, like B-I-G. It weighs 50% more than I do. (We asked the owner.) When Aaron gave the dog a bear hug, the dog was more or less the same size as Aaron.
Needless to say if the dog on the left is at prayers, you’ll find Abigail hiding in the pews. Or avoiding the baby polar bear altogether. He might be sweet and lovable, but I’m not taking my chances.
I was walking to evening prayers. Walking carefully because the path is gravel, and I trip easily on gravel. That question threw me off. Are you a student at University A?
I live in one of those places in America that has two big universities… and they’re rivals. Supposedly, armadillos and beavers don’t talk to each other because they’re on opposite sides of a war. It’s like oil and water; they just don’t mix. In reality, there’s a lot of cross traffic between the universities; students and faculty go back and forth all the time. But I digress.
I turned to the guy speaking. “Good afternoon. Actually, I’m a student at University B.” I braced myself for gross disappointment. Because that’s what armadillos tend to do when they discover you’re a beaver. Instead, he reached over and gave me a high five.
“You’re a beaver??? Awesome!! I’m a beaver, too!
“Listen. The folks around here call me Jim. You let me know if any of those armadillos give you a hard time. I’ve got your back. I smile to those armadillos but I’m glad you’re a beaver!”
The conversation really threw me. I’m not that loyal to my own university for reasons related to my experience there. Plus, I was walking into a chapel. Who needs security guards at prayers?
But then, it dawned on me. Jim’s one of the guys who lives on the church property. He’s seen me often enough to recognize that I’m part of the community. That means he wanted to know more about me. He realized that I was someone special. He knew that I cared about him in the slightest so he welcomed me into his midst.
For the girl who gets rejected a lot, that’s special.
I’ve been having a reasonably good & productive day. I cleaned my shower (first time in almost a year!) & then took a bath. I went to church with Diana. I made lunch (gf pigs in a blanket & skillet-fried potatoes) plus baked an apple pie for the two of us. I slept for two hours. I did laundry. I ate dinner with Gretchen; she made dinner so I helped her with her craft project. I wrote to my grandmother. (I do that every week.) Since then, I’ve been studying. I’m halfway through my first of the 50 books!
Sometimes being a spoonie really is annoying. Don’t know what the Spoon Theory is? Go ahead. Follow the link. Read the story. Come back. We spoonies will wait. (We’re good at that.)
you did follow the link, right?
Case in point: these are some recent problems that have come up in my life:
— no running water in my apartment in the middle of 2-3 days of a given week for the past two months
— approval to take a reduced course load is approved but full-time status does not show in the system which means that I now owe money for this term’s tuition and my paycheck won’t come at the end of the month and I lose my health insurance… (aka bad things happen)
— my car has decided that drifting to the right is the normal thing to do, especially when going fast
— my closet has thrown a fit because I haven’t put my clean clothes away consistently for the past few months and now it refuses to have enough hangers for everything
— one pharmacy only has bank hours and only stocks “common” meds
— elite pharmacy doesn’t always keep things in stock that are uncommon and expensive
— someone writes me and says, now, I know you signed up to do x but we had some people drop out, so please do an additional x
— compile (and acquire) book lists for the exams
— listen to my roommate talk about her life (aka be a good roommate)
— go to the class I’m allegedly grading (but currently not being paid for)
If we use a low estimate and say that every one of those problems demands a 2 spoon solution (1 spoon problems like answering the front door don’t qualify for the list above), we now have a demand of 20 spoons. Let’s say that I have 20 spoons per day but 10 of them are reserved for every day necessary activities (like answering the front door or going to the bathroom). That gives me 70 flexible spoons a week. And, I don’t always have the energy to use a spoon. Or to know that I have them. It’s not like someone gives me 70 spoons at the beginning of the week and says use wisely. You pick them up here and there; and you lose them here and there. Think video game of spoons.
To go to prayers with Aaron, Timothy, and Grace? 5 spoons
To email my doctors and say in no uncertain terms that no, I’m not open to this treatment plan; what about these options? 2 spoons
To think up of a meal, prepare it, and eat it? 5 spoons
To take a shower? 2 spoons
To work on my dissertation proposal? at least 3 spoons simultaneously
To actually get out of my apartment and go to class? 2 spoons for putting on street clothes, 2 spoons for getting to campus, and 1 spoon for remembering where I’m supposed to go after that = 5 spoons
Herein lies the problem. There are simply not enough spoons in a week to do everything I absolutely need to do in order to survive. Which means… there aren’t spoons left to solve problems with. Except some of these problems are major problems. Like I can’t get any reading done if I don’t know what books I’m reading. Or my roommate will never be there to support me if I become the world’s flakiest roommate. Or I might be on the street in a few weeks if I don’t get my enrollment status straightened out.
Folks: this is why those who have encountered me have heard rants about the lack of running water. And how I had to call all my friends with showers to find one I could borrow, put all my shower stuff in my car, and drive to someone’s house to shower so that I could go to prayers.
I’m sorry but the following responses demonstrate that you have no idea what my life is like: well, you should have showered when the water was on (aka in the early morning): ummm, no, that requires an addition 3-5 spoons; you had advance notice so the fact that you didn’t take a shower the day before shows your lack of responsibility: ummm, no, it shows that I know how to conserve spoons; couldn’t you just have waited until the water came back on? ummm, no, I would have missed my window of opportunity when I actually had the energy to use multiple spoons.
The school stuff? Umm, the whole point of taking a lighter course load is so that I didn’t have to use as many spoons.
The pharmacy? Seriously??? Especially since bank pharmacy only fills prescriptions you bring in in-person; refills can be called ahead, but otherwise you have to wait 30 minutes in the crowded basement to talk to a pharmacist who will answer any questions you have with “read the info sheet”. And they’re closed on evenings and weekends.
The other pharmacy? It’s great and I love the pharmacist but it’s annoying to have to go to two pharmacies and everything here is so much more expensive. I can’t afford to fill all my prescriptions here. (I could but then I wouldn’t have money to drive to campus or something else. Money is kind of like spoons as well.) And if they have to order stuff and I have to come back again and again, those spoons add up quickly.
Oh, and the medical stuff? The newest antibiotic regimen? It consumes spoons like there’s no tomorrow.
Please forgive me if I’ve been slow to write email responses or if I’ve seemed bitter at the world. I’m dealing with a major spoon deficit that does not appear to be going away and is seriously unfair. Please forgive me for not being kind and understanding or for being the world’s most unreliable friend/sister/classmate/employee. This is a crisis. My priorities are in crisis mode. Pray for things to settle down, for peace and rest to enter in, and for more spoons to arrive.
Things may be slow on the blog for a while, folks. It might because I’m really exhausted. Mostly it’s because I’m trying to do a lot of things in real life and still don’t have a whole lot of energy.
A new semester of graduate school started up. I’m trying to write and defend a dissertation prospectus. I’m trying to take two comprehensive exams, which entails reading at least 50 books before the beginning of April!! I’m hoping to still be able to participate in worship with Aaron, Timothy, and Grace.
At the same time, remember this diagnostic test? Well, Dr. Leo went ahead and had me repeat the test. And it came back as positive, maybe slightly more positive than last iteration. So, that means I’m going to be on yet another regimen of antibiotics.
Now back to reading,
Abigail-the-student-with-a-chronic-illness (as opposed to the chronic-patient-who-studies)
Things have been crazy for me. The new semester started. I wrapped up all my winter travels and made it back to my apartment. I’m on new meds that make me really sleepy (and interfere with my ability to reason.)
The blog has lost priority to things like putting away clean clothes. (I’ve been wading through clean laundry for the past week!!) I’m trying to make some big decisions medically. I’m desperately trying to understand what’s required of me this semester. I’m changing meds. I’m thinking big thoughts.
In other words, please pray. Pray for peace. Pray for resolution. Pray for strength.
Every half year, I compile a photobook review of the past months. I keep these readily available to show guests who visit and want to know more about my life and my friends. Making one for the past five months has been an interesting process. Despite how complicated and confusing those months have been, I found it extremely easily to put together 20 pages of pictures of wonderful friends & wonderful memories. So I’m grateful. Grateful for all 2012 held for me. All the ways God blessed me.
– awesome new roommate Gretchen (& lots of apartment decorating!)
There’s a commercial for candy that’s been playing recently. In the scenario, an eligible bachelor takes Ms. Brown out to lunch. He makes a comment that implies he loves her for what’s on the inside. She says, Yes, pure milk chocolate. He admits, That’s what I love about you. Ms. Brown rolls her eyes and retorts that she thought he appreciated her brain. He comes back with: Well, is it milk chocolate also? #fail #sonotthepoint
This commercial played for one of the breaks in the most recent episode of Emily Owens, M.D. Emily struggles with a similar identity crisis. She has a crush on Will and she thinks their friendship is based on her intelligence. Her new friend tells her that it isn’t. He’s her friend because she’s a friend, not because she’s smart.
That comment really stuck out to me. I think it’s easy to sell ourselves short. We’d be foolish if we didn’t acknowledge that our attributes like beauty and intelligent aren’t attractive to other people. But at the heart of the matter, there’s always more to it. People can see in us qualities that we don’t even know about ourselves.
So, sure, Will noticed Emily because she had good study skills and he wanted to study with her. But where a friendship goes after the first encounter actually depends on the people underneath.
Over time, friendships grow and develop whether we like it or not. Things happen. The setting changes. We lose things that we thought were defining. A good friendship doesn’t stay stuck. It moves and bends too. Sometimes, it means that people grow apart; their interests diverge and circumstances keep them apart. But other times, it means people become closer.
Will could confide in Emily because they had spent time together, because he knew that she cared about him, and because he knew that she was a compassionate, reserved person. He might not have known any of that if he had wanted to study with her in the first place. But a good study buddy doesn’t automatically make one a good listener.
All in all, I’m discovering that life sometimes takes advantage of our fleeting qualities. If we lose them, it doesn’t mean that we (necessarily) lose everything else also.