Volunteering

I tend to volunteer for quite a few things and sometimes it feels like I do so much for others that I rarely focus on myself. I cannot help it though. I like helping other people. My parents raised my to think of others. I get the weirdest looks from people when I open the door for them or get something off the top shelf when they can’t quite reach. Unfortunately, people don’t teach children nowadays how to be kind and compassionate towards others. I was raised to treat others how I would like to be treated or better. I know I’ve written a little about some of the stuff that I volunteer for but I only barely scratched the surface.

I work at a community bank and have an obligation to give back to the community that we serve. Since I started working there in January 2009, I have logged over 80 hours of community service and I haven’t logged everything. We, as a bank, help with three charity events. The first is coming up on us fast. The California Waterfowl Association helps “the preservation, protection, and enhancement of California’s waterfowl resources, wetlands, and associated hunting heritage.” The second is the California Deer Association which helps to protect and improve California deer herds. I live in an area full of hunters, but both of these associations help the environment that makes up this area. They help protect our area from expanding too fast and we keep the wildlife around us. The third is the Junior Livestock Auction through 4-H and the FFA (Future Farmers of America). Last year was my first time helping with the Junior Livestock Auction and it was kind of a surreal experience knowing most of the animals that you are spending the night seeing, will be slaughtered a few days later.

The Eastern Sierra Breast Cancer Alliance Walk 2009

On top of helping with these for work, I volunteer in other things. I belong to the Calico Quilt Guild and we help a lot with the community and elsewhere. My mom is currently the president and I have been the historian for the Guild for about four years now. One of the big things that we help out with the call Quilts of Valor. We donate quilts that are given to soldiers who are wounded in battle. I also help out with Playhouse 395 as I have written about before. Playhouse is a wonderful thing for our community and you would never know that we have a lot of very talented people in Bishop.

One thing that I had wanted to do for the longest time was the Breast Cancer Awareness walk that is put on every October. In 2009, my mom and I were able to go on the walk. It just happened to fall on my mom’s birthday too. We have lost people to breast cancer and my grandmother to cervical cancer. We went on the 5k walk and it was great to see all of the people who joined us for a good cause. Most of us dressed in pink of course. Last year we were unable to make the walk due to scheduling conflicts. I hope this year we get to again.

I will end this post with a few pictures from the breast cancer walk from 2009. Please volunteer for anything that hits close to your heart. Helping others is a great thing to do. A selfless act goes a long way.

Signing a memorial wall

The 5k walk / 10k run begins.

People walking for a good cause.

Even a Marine came out to support breast canser awareness.

Me with one of my past co-workers Angela.

My mom and me.

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Headaches Continue

I really don’t know what is going on with me. I’m still having headaches that are borderline migraines. I need to call the doctor tomorrow for a different thing but I can at least ask about the headaches. I don’t know what is triggering them.

Anyway, I don’t really want to write much tonight and I kind of ran out of time. Tonight I cooked for our family BBQ and it was really good. My grandpa’s health is failing and we try to get together about two to three times a week. I would share the few pictures I took tonight but I forgot to grab my camera from my grandparents’ house. Maybe tomorrow.

I’m sorry that I’m not writing much today, but the headache kind of makes me not want to be on the computer. Maybe eye strain is causing the headaches. But they come on when I’m not on the computer. It really is weird. Oh well. I better get some sleep since I have to work tomorrow.

Life is Too Short

Since my Freshman year in high school in 1996, we have had to say good-bye to three of our classmates. The first was Chris. He passed away our Freshman year at the age of 14 from a massive asthma attack. It was Homecoming. I didn’t believe anybody until I got to school and Mr. Perry had to break the news to us. I didn’t know Chris very well but he was the type of person that didn’t care what your social standing was in school. He was nice to everybody and he even helped me to spell asthma when we were in fifth grade. Despite having asthma, Chris was very into sports. The day of his funeral, almost all of our class (which at that point was over 200 students) and quite a few from the sophomore class was there. We filled one of the churches here in town and the people who attended spilled out onto the sidewalk. There are a few songs that when I hear them now all I can think about is Chris.

About four years ago, we lost Andrea. She was hit by a car on the highway. Andrea and I never were friends. We didn’t hate each other either. We just kind of acknowledged each other but never really spoke to each other unless we had to.

Matt Rasmusson

Then a year ago we lost Matt. Matt was one of the coolest guys I knew. His death hit me hard. We never hung out but I considered us friends and I think he did too. When ever we saw each other we’d say hi and ask how each other was doing. Matt unfortunately got into drugs and was taking the steps to clean up. I don’t know what really happened but he died of an accidental drug overdose. My best friend called me in tears letting me know that Matt was in a coma in the hospital and his outlook wasn’t good. A week later he was pulled off life support and he passed away. His memorial service was kind of a high school reunion. I sat with some people I hadn’t talked to since we graduated. Not very many people got up to speak about Matt because words could fully describe the person that Matt was. I don’t think that many of us wanted to think or even speak of Matt in the past tense. I met his dad for the first time that day.

Matt and I had English our sophomore year. Matt sat by me for the majority of the year and we always seemed to pair up when we needed to. We were kind of the outcasts in the class so it made sense for us to pair up. One day we had to take a passage from Macbeth and change it to our own kind of poem or something like that. All I really remember about what we came up with was a poem about cops and donuts. I wish I had that poem with me at Matt’s memorial but it’s hidden in a box somewhere in my parents’ shed. When I think of Matt that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I laugh every time I think of that.

Matt's message in my yearbook.

I cannot believe it’s been a year already. Life is too short. Matt’s passing reminded me that I need to live out my dreams and do everything that I want because you never know when your life will be cut short. Shortly after Matt died, I was looking through my yearbooks and the first page I went to was a message that Matt wrote. I cried so hard when I read it.

Matt you were a wonderful person and someone I will never forget. I miss you and your ability to make everyone smile when they were down.

A Different View of Disneyland

A couple of days before Thanksgiving in 2009, I was practicing a dance for my second play audition with Playhouse 395.  I did something that I knew I shouldn’t have and I started practicing the dance without stretching. Never ever do that. I learned the hard way. The last few steps of the dance required me to kneel down into a lunge. As I started to kneel, I felt the worse pain in my leg that I have ever had in my life. I lied on my floor crying without tears, holding back the urge to scream out in pain. I held the scream because it was 11 o’clock at night and I live around quite a few elderly people. I didn’t want to wake anybody.

It took me what felt like a lifetime to slowly crawl to my chair where my phone was and I managed, somehow, to get seated in my chair. I called my mom and asked her to come over because I thought I did something to my leg. The pain was unbearable and at first I thought that I must have either tore a muscle completely in half or I broke my leg. When both my parents got to my apartment I didn’t hesitate to have them take me to the hospital. I hate doctors so if I offer to be seen by one I really must be in pain. I’ve always seemed to be the type of person that is more willing to let my body do what it is going to do than see a doctor. I think it might be because I’ve had a couple of doctors tell me that my stomach aches were all in my head when it turns out that I’m lactose intolerant and have Celiac Disease.

A day in a wheelchair.

The doctor at the hospital told me that I had massively strained and slightly ruptured my left quad. It is one of the big muscles on the top of your hamstring (I think). I was told that I have to be on crutches for at least a week and had to wrap my leg in a bandage and keep ice on it. Working at a bank while being on crutches was interesting. The most interesting experience was going through Disneyland.

When we arrived I had a cast member offer me a ride in the short bus (yes it was a short bus, let the jokes fly) to take me into the park instead of on the tram. I tripped getting into the bus and my mom got to ride with me as my brother and dad rode the tram. We got a wheelchair and my second-cousin, Chelsea, fell in love with it. We kept calling it an adult stroller. My dad pushed me around and Chelsea sat on my lap most of the time. Going through Disneyland in a wheelchair and on crutches gave me a new perspective of Disneyland. The cast members talked to the person in the wheelchair not the one pushing it. I got to go through the handicap line and we even got a cast member in trouble for being rude to us.

Being in the wheelchair didn’t allow me to move around all that much and as night fell, I got really cold and could not warm up. I don’t think I went on Big Thunder Mountain that day and I think that was the first time that I didn’t get to go on the ride. I was afraid of what it might do to my leg since it’s a rollercoaster. I got to have fun with a few of the characters and I have loved Winnie-the-Pooh since I was a little kid. Tigger saw me on the crutches and I told him that I bounced a little too much.

After a week I was off the crutches but limping really bad. The muscle in my leg still hurts from time to time and I just ice it and take it easy. I now know exactly how important it is to stretch before doing anything as strenuous as dancing can be. I am thankful to Disneyland for the treatment I was given during my trip there while being mobile-challenged.

Me goofing off.

Me with my mom, dad and brother.

Me with Winnie-the-Pooh

Me with Tigger

Me with my crutches.

Migraines

Consider yourself lucky if you have never had a migraine. I was about 20 when I had my first and it was just before we found out that I have Celiac Disease. I remember getting ready to go to my French class in the morning and I sat on the edge of my bed to put my shoes on. The next thing I knew I was sitting on the floor having no idea how I got to be on the floor. I must have slipped off the edge of the bed and all I can say is thank God I was sitting down. I don’t think I have ever blacked out before then either. I chose not to miss the class because I had a test that I could not make up and I was getting straight A’s in the class. I warned the teacher that I was having my first migraine and she told me to leave as soon as I was done with the test.

Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease eight and a half years ago, I have had several, from tolerable to severe. Nothing works to get rid of them. Yesterday I started getting a headache around three o’clock and it progressively got worse. Three hours later I had a full-blown migraine. Some people will say that they are having a migraine when they just have a really bad headache. They are completely different.

My migraines are usually one of the first signs that I got gluten in my system and I’m in the beginning stage of having a Celiac attack. What I felt last night was the perfect way to describe the pain of a migraine. I tossed and turned the entire night because wherever my pillow touched my head, it felt like someone was taking a sledgehammer to that area of my skull. The faintest light feels like you are staring at the sun. I have my laptop on the dimmest setting it has and it is still too bright. Sound to me is the worst. That is the one thing I cannot describe quite right.

Two and a half years ago, while I was unemployed (thank God) I had the worst migraine of my life. It lasted for three days. One thing that you have to understand with Celiac Disease is the gluten is hidden amongst a lot of different things. I was using this amazing lotion I got from Bath and Body Works but I failed to realize that it contained oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free but get contaminated when processed. It took three to four months for enough gluten to build in my system to cause an attack. Once gluten gets into a Celiac’s system and damages the villi (they line your small intestine and they absorb the nutrients from the food as it is digested) it can take up to two years for the symptoms to pass. I don’t necessarily need to ingest gluten to have an attack. I don’t remember when the last time I ingested gluten but this latest migraine could be from a number of things.

I will never know what exactly causes me to be in this much pain, but when I do have a migraine, I need dark, silence and sleep. Vicodin half the time won’t even touch the pain. I managed to get through most of work today. My supervisor sent me home 45 minutes early and I decided to miss my meeting with my quilt guild. The hardest thing to deal with when having a migraine is having to skip certain things that you love because you know they will just make everything worse. I have noticed over the years that I have been having more and more migraines. I’m not sure why but I pretty much know how to handle them. This one that I have had these last few days has finally lessened and I am happy about that. Pray that you never get them. They truly are the most excruciating pain that I have ever had.

My Favorite Moment of Comic Con 2010

Today at work I started getting a headache at about three o’clock and it has turned into a migraine. I usually only get them when I have come in contact with gluten but I cannot think of any time that I did except for handling a pizza box, but I know I didn’t touch my face after that. If you have never had a migraine, pray that you never do. It sucks. It feels like someone is slowly drilling into my skull in between my eyes. Light and sound are excruciating. So I will make this quick since sleep is the only thing that cures my migraines.

I finally got my laptop up and running last night which I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am about that. Shortly after Comic Con last year I got hit with a virus, the day after my anti-virus software expired. Go figure. So I never got to write about what happened at Comic Con.

First of all I’m a nerd. I went to Comic Con for the first time in 2009 and loved every minute of it. I got to meet people that I never thought I would meet in my wildest dreams. Two of them I have massive crushes on. They’re hot. I can’t help it. This last year I got to take my mom and brother for their first time. If you have never been to Comic Con, it is very hard to describe all of it in detail. Imagine about a quarter of a million people all crammed into a small space for that amount of people. How San Diego does it is beyond me but I’m glad that they do.

Between the two years that I have gone, I have met nine actors. But the last person I met at Comic Con was the best moment of my life. I am not kidding you. People have criticized me for being a fan of Chuck. I love the show. Words cannot describe how much I love watching Chuck. Just before the 2009 Comic Con, my car broke down and I was forced to miss the Chuck panel. I was so angry with my car that weekend. So this year I told my mom and brother I was not going to miss this panel. No way in hell. I am not afraid or embarrassed to admit that Zachary Levi is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Yes I know I’m being a dork right now and I don’t care. I have the biggest freaking crush on him. Anyway…

Me with Zachary Levi at Comic Con 2010

On that Sunday, my mom, brother and I were headed up the back escalator to the Marriot to get some free stuff at the Fulfillment Room. As we rounded the corner there was a guy getting a picture with Zach. OMG!! I did not hesitate in asking Zach if I could have a picture too. I was dressed like an idiot but I was comfortable in the San Diego humidity. Zach said sure and as I was getting my camera out, my mom said something about having to deal with my camera (her and digital cameras do not get along) and Zach’s friend Eric Blackman said that he would take it. Eric is a photographer so I didn’t have any problem with handing him my camera. I was at the point of speak now, think later. I told Eric that I recognize him from the Europe photos and he kind of laughed. Zach and Eric went on this trip through Europe and share over 1500 pictures on Facebook. It was incredible. Zach wasn’t feeling too well and his voice was going, but he still took the time to take pictures with a few fans. I would have respected his wishes if he had said no, but was thankful that he did.

Just like with some of the others that I have gotten photos with, he basically hugged me. It wasn’t like okay just stand here next to me and get the picture over with. No. Not with him. Zach is very nice and I’m glad that he put up with me geeking out over meeting him. I blurted out that I love Chuck before my brain could stop my mouth. I have kept my cool with some of the others that I have met, but with Zach it was different.

I do my best not to get star struck. At Comic Con, you never know who you will run into or who will run into you. My brother got bumped into by Morgan Freeman! Most of the time the actors that go to Comic Con are fans just like us and most of the time they are the biggest geeks around. I don’t read comic books or graphic novels, but I like the stories that they have to tell. I actually cannot read them. Maybe it’s a dyslexic thing. I don’t know. I find them hard to read. I like going to Comic Con for the sci-fi, fantasy and whatever shows that I watch. It’s great to see the actor that you watch each week and entertain you, on a panel before you talking about the show that they work so hard on. I’ve seen Stan Lee. I never thought that would happen. I never thought that I would meet Zachary Levi either.

Zach if you ever read this, thank you doesn’t seem like enough to thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet you. I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well that day. Thank you so much for everything you have done on Chuck and I hope the show goes on for a long time. I know you guys, as well as us fans, have had our battles to keep the show on the air, but all of your guys’ hard work gives us a reason to fight for the show. You are an extremely talented actor and a wonderful guy. Thank you so much.

Writing

I’ve always loved to write. Writing is therapeutic for me and it’s something that I try to do more of. I remember entering a writing contest when I was in the first or second grade. My story didn’t win anything but all I remember about it was it was a story of a bunny and I did all of the artwork as well. My parents still have the story somewhere and one day I would love to have it.

One of the more difficult things about writing for me is that I have dyslexia. It’s one thing that I have struggled with my entire life and trust me, it’s not east being dyslexic and work at a bank. It makes work interesting some times. For a lot of my childhood, I don’t think I read at the level that I was supposed to. I’ve always loved to read. I can remember my mom reading to my brother and me at night and I know we wore out quite a few Dr. Seuss books.

My journal.

In fifth grade, Mr. Young (one of the best teachers I ever had) asked me to pick a book from the other side of the library. I had been picking out books meant for second and third graders. I wasn’t sure if I could read one and he told me that I would never know unless I tried. I scanned the bookshelves until my eyes landed on a hardcover book near the top of one of the shelves bound in red paper. I pulled it from it’s hiding place and read the description.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner became one of my favorite books that I ever read all because Mr. Young made me chose a book for my age group. I don’t know if he suspected that I was dyslexic because I never volunteered to read something in front of the class and I didn’t really read even though I told him that I love to. Mr. Young re-introduced me to reading and encouraged me to write as well. Because of him I fell in love with the writing style of Roald Dahl. Mr. Young read to us every Friday, if I remember correctly.

When I got to high school, Mr. Perry had us write for ten minutes straight. We weren’t allowed to stop our pen or pencil for the whole ten minutes. Whatever was in your head during those ten minutes made it on your page, even if you wrote blah, blah, blah for ten minutes. I had Mr. Perry twice – once as a Freshman and again as a Junior. English was a school subject that I always loved and seemed to excel at (when I decided to actually do my homework).

A lot of my teachers throughout school suggested that I keep a diary/journal. I never could keep up with wanting to write something like that. Until now. I have only missed one day in my journal since December 23, 2010. That is 33 days of (almost) non-stop writing for me. I use the journal as a way to keep track of what I did that day or whatever I’m feeling. I tend to keep my emotions, both good and bad, bottled up until my mind can’t handle it anymore and I blow up at people. I don’t mean to but it has happened so many times that I regret it later on.

I don’t want that regret and now that I’ve been put on antidepressants, I remembered the advise from so many teachers and put my emotions on paper. It’s one of the best things I have done. I seem to write so much between my journal and this blog, but none of my emotions get bottled up.

Thank you to all of those teachers who showed me that reading and writing truly are two things that will always reside in my heart and soul. Because of your efforts, I will never give either of them up. We need more teachers like you in the world. Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me.