Hurricane Help

Many of my friends have been asking how they can or saying ‘let me know if you need anything’.  The proper southern girl in me always responds, ‘thank you for thinking of us and I think we’ll be ok’.  The truth is, that is a lie.  We are not ok.  Physically, my family is fine; but emotionally and financially we aren’t.  For those of you who have never had to go through a natural disaster, once you start cleaning up, it hits you that there are different kinds of help.  The truth is, what would really help is money, or gift cards, preferably a little of both.  I know culturally, it is a taboo for us to ask for money; it denotes a lack of class and also a lack of trying.  But the truth is, that this isn’t always the case.  As I’m trying to salvage my family’s home I realize that – once you get behind the emotional roller coaster – it is a financial roller coaster…one that I’d preferably like to get off soon.  We don’t need help ripping out carpet, moving furniture, etc.  We need financial help.  Let me explain how I came to this conclusion.

Organizations such as the RedCross and various other assistance groups are designed to help in the immediate.  You are displaced, of course you don’t have a toothbrush or a hot meal.  They can provide that for you and a cot to sleep on.  These organizations are necessary and I am grateful they exists; in fact, I volunteer with many of them.  JJ Watt is doing an amazing job raising money for Texas…that goes to infrastructure and big organizations like those listed above, not immediate families.  Also, while volunteering people donate large items like a tylenol container filled with 500 caplets and a convenience pack of 8 toothbrushes; organizations can’t use those because they can’t be distributed or broken up due to health reasons.  However, the real assistance comes after the waters have receded.  When you walk into a flooded home, you are walking into a cess pool of feces, urine, mud, toxic mildew, mold, and bacteria.  In fact, it is an extremely unhealthy environment in which the effects can be felt years after that incident.  Your initial reaction is, what the hello kitty is this mess, followed by, how can I salvage, what can I salvage, where do I begin?  The good news is you can salvage some things.  For example, you can salvage your plates, dishes, utensils.  However, take the eating ware that you used for breakfast or lunch, go to your toilet, make sure your stomach is upset with diarrhea, dip all of your eating ware in it, then put it back in your cabinet.  Disgusted?  Well, that’s the facts people.  When a house floods, the sewage system floods, the water pipes flood, everything gets pushed back up.  This is where the money comes in.  Money will buy boxes to pack those dishes up to transport them to a house where a dishwasher is and they are not flooded, it will pay for the tripled or quadrupled water and electricity bill that it costs to clean them, and money will pay for new clean boxes to package the dishes in once they are clean and sanitized to move to your new home.  FEMA and RedCross will not pay for this, neither will your local assistance agencies.  Here are a few more things money will pay for:

Copious amounts of Lysol, laundry detergent, and vinegar to disinfect non-washable items

Clothes that can not be washed, but have to be dry cleaned multiple times

Water and electricity bills that go up astronomically because you have to disinfect everything

Buys new dress clothes so that we can go on job interviews because we are not only homeless, but jobless

Pays for the trailer to haul items, the gas to move from a town 4-5 hours away

Pays for new housing items and linens that can’t be saved.  Imagine it as a hurricane registry instead of a wedding or baby registry.  You are a couple who has nothing, what do you need to make your house a home.

Art supplies for my mother’s business.  Without her supplies, she can’t make her pieces, which means she can’t sell them and make an income.

My family has insurance, but once the inspector looks at the house, he doesn’t cut a check right then and there; it takes several months for the claim to be processed.  Multiply that by the sheer volume of the people that are in the same situation as my family.  Money and gift cards now, help us to move on with our lives now.  If you want to help, help by giving us the resource that will help us rebuild our lives in the immediate.  You can’t go on a job interview if you don’t have a suit to wear, appropriate shoes, or copies of important papers.  Money will also pay for the printing of these types of documents.

My family has given so much over the years, in fact, those of you who are reading this blog might have been someone they helped.  My parents would never ask for help, and I feel taboo asking as well, but it’s the reality.  Our family home is a giant toxic toilet in which everything has been ruined. Help us to move on, to re-establish ourselves.  If you would like to assist, please send to my address: 2202 Shady Tree Lane, Conroe, Texas  77301.  Any amount will do, $5 or $50 can go a long way.  Any money or gift cards that we do not use will be given to families who can use them.  We know we aren’t the only ones experiencing this.  While I have been volunteering and helping out, it’s time for me to help my family.  When deciding what to give, think, if I were in the situation could I use this?  You can’t get a suit at Wal-Mart, but you can get Lysol there.  Some items you can purchase with a gift card, or even if you feel more comfortable, you can get a visa gift card.  Anything will help.  Also, if you are reading this and don’t know me or my family (and wouldn’t feel comfortable giving to us, that is fine, adopt another family – there are plenty of us that need help).

 

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Mirror, Mirror

As humans, we are never satisfied with who we are, how we look, our accomplishments, etc.  Rather, we choose to focus on our failures, our shortcomings; the elements that make us less.  Often, we unfortunately, project these onto others.  Growing up, I had always been a big girl.  Then, when I was in my 20s it’s like I had been given a reprieve from fatdom.  The place where plus size people reside; the place where we let our cellulite overshadow who we are.  I enjoyed life; worked out, made friends, loved school…I really came out of my shell.  Now, in my early 30s, as I have clothes shrewn across my bedroom, the bedroom I share with husband who sees me as flawless, I’m reminded that at one time I was the kind of person I am currently trying to become.  The problem is not that I’m trying to reclaim that woman, but rather that when I was her I didn’t rejoice in her.  I didn’t celebrate the Jade I am so desperately, and failing, at trying to become.  Instead, I can recall at that time I kept highlighting the flaws in who I was.  Now, as I chase that Jade, I see the flaws that have haunted me my whole life.

So, as I pack up clothes for Goodwill, rather than crying over the fact that I can’t fit into my favorite dress I am trying to create a mantra which tells me to embrace who I am at every stage in my life.  The mirror doesn’t lie, but our self-perceptions do.

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Personable

This week I started seeing a dietitian.  I’ve struggled with weight all of my life.  When I was diagnosed with type II diabetes at the age of 15, rather than seeing it as a curse, I saw it as a blessing – an opportunity to understand my body, food, and exercise.  I did really well, well enough that I lost 135 pounds by myself.  No crazy diet, no surgery, just doing what I was supposed to do.  Well, as years progressed, life changed, body injuries, I wasn’t doing as well as I used to.  I tried numerous times to get on track, but with all of the (mis)information that is out there, it turned out I was doing more harm than good.  I tried asking several doctors what I should do, how do I fix this weight problem.  They told me I should be on a 1,000 calorie diet, a super low carb diet, just work out more, or one even suggested that I get gastric bypass.  Are you kidding me?!?!

Last year I gained 70 pounds – it wasn’t all the bundt cake samples, it was something more.  I haven’t even celebrated my first year anniversary and I can’t wear my wedding set.  I don’t understand how Mark can be attracted to me (I know he loves me, always will no matter what size, but when you see pictures of yourself and remember what you could do and now you can’t…you don’t really feel sexy).  So, last December I called my GP and when they asked me what was wrong, I told them I was too fat.  After a long pause, they scheduled me an appointment.  Frank, my GP, listened to me, was determined to find out what was wrong, and even laughed as I made candid, raw, jokes about not wanting to be on TLC’s My 600 Pound Life.  I told Frank I couldn’t remember simple words, my hair was falling out, I couldn’t sleep, my sugars weren’t good despite eating correctly, and I was tired all the time.  Turned out my thyroid medicine needed to be increased.  Within a week I was like a whole new person.  He also suggested that I see a dietitian.

When I walked in to the dietitian office, the whole staff greeted me, offered me coffee and seemed approachable.  I had spoken with the director already and she told me that she had spoken with her staff to see who was the most suitable to help me.  I sat down with Jennifer, laid out my whole sad sob story about how I want to wear my wedding ring, fit into my jeans, and not be winded getting the mail.  We sat down for an hour and laid out a plan.  Turns out I wasn’t enough, especially carbohydrates, and I need to incorporate resistance training.  She is determined to help me wear my rings and get into my jeans.  For the first time in years, I felt like a professional was actually going to help me.

So now the gameplay is to follow her rules.  I’m eating more carbs (complex, good for you carbs) and I will start resistance training again today.  In all of this, I realized I’ve never truly learned to appreciate or love my body, to see it for what it does, not what it looks like.  I wonder if this is something that I will constantly be working on, or if I will ever reach a point that I look at myself and go, ‘you kick ass, you sexy beast, you!!’  I hope so.  It’s not that I want to be a Victoria’s Secret model (they don’t deserve me to pose for them 😉 )But when I have kids, I want to teach them to always be confident, to kick ass, to know who they are, and never compromise that.  When I look at myself in the mirror or pictures, I compromise not just my image, but my spirit, the essence of Jade.  And this should not happen.  So, here goes to tackling another day!

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Dust Bunnies & Cobwebs

It was a normal evening, nothing out of the ordinary, when my wonderful husband said, ‘I guess you gave up on your blog, hunh?’  He was right, it’s been so long since I’ve written in this thing.  I started it to catalog my experiences as a single girl looking for love on the interwebs; but naturally, I began cataloging the rest of whatever else was going on in my life.  It’s January 15, 2017 and naturally my brain is still concentrating on all of the New Year’s resolutions.  I always hated the thought of resolutions, I found the whole practice to be cliched.  But I have come to realize that for me they are not resolutions, but rather a methodical way of cleaning house; acknowledging the things that have bugged me and now I have the umph to do something about them.  For me, this year as always, I want to lose weight.  Last year was a roller coaster of emotions: I got married, I worked in a hell-hole of a bakery, I moved out of my parent’s house, my dog -and bff- died, I gained 70 pounds, had medical issues, started a new job, and don’t even get me started on getting my PhD.- I passed, I am a ‘Dr.’ but not wholly because I’m still wrastling with my corrections.  At the end of the day I want to get liposuction and torch my thesis because I am utterly fed up with both struggles.

I started working at SHSU, the university which turned me onto Sociology and away from medicine.  I enjoy teaching, I actually get nervous before every class.  My evaluations were stellar and I still have students contact me and others who are enrolled in my spring courses because their friends took my class in the fall.  I think they like me, they really like me.  Of course, as a I journey further into my academic career I am still struggling with what I want to be when I grow up.  I love teaching, telling stories, challenging students, supporting them, it’s a very rewarding experience.  But, I am still not convinced that I want to be like most of my friends and colleagues; I don’t think I want to be on tenure track.  I am not sure, I am still a young academic grappling with understanding what I want and how I can give the most back.  Right now, I am involved in various projects that will impact a community.  I was introduced to a gentleman who has wonderful connections, is very honest, and comes highly recommended by a former professor.

Other than trying to be the best professor…I’ll let you know if I ever crack that code.  I am enjoying married life.  Mark will be starting a brand spanking new job this week; not sure how our puppy Sasha will handle him not being at home all day to be her personal playmate.  She’s adorable and there are times that I think she has replaced me in Mark’s heart; he says this isn’t true, but when he says ‘my girl’ he isn’t talking to me.

Hopefully this year will prove to be better, sexier, stronger, and smarter.

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The Death of Singlehood

It’s a very strong title, yet appropriate.  Everyone is currently trying really hard to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, while I am reflecting once again on how much my life has changed in the last year, how much I’ve grown, and how I’ve finally settled into my little spot in life.  I’ve written about my feelings when I first got engaged.  I do so because it helps me process things, but also perhaps someone who is new to love will not feel so lost when they aren’t stupidly smitten (so the movies).  Mark and I had talked for months about getting married, deciding if this was the right decision, etc.  It’s a really hard decision to make, but one that is hugely important.  I was so excited and hopeful that when I arrived to Texas for Christmas in 2014 that Mark would propose, when he did, I thought, ‘Oh God, what have I done’.  No matter how much we discussed and knew in our hearts this is what we wanted, it was still a life-changing moment.  Over the following year, I settled in to being a fiance, or so I had thought.  In the early days, I wondered, ‘how are we going to live together’, ‘when will we do our laundry’, ‘will he always leave his pants strewn on the floor’, and a whole lot of other things.  I was happy I was engaged, but still felt like a square peg in a round hole.  Of course, I was (and still am) working on a doctoral thesis, did some traveling, learning to live at home with my parents again, looking for a job, etc…you know, living life.  During the course of living life, I planned a wedding…Mark helped 😉 I would have brief moments of spontaneous excitement, even started a countdown calendar, but all that paled in comparison to this New Year’s Eve.

As everyone toasted in the New Year, and Mark gave me a kiss, I looked at him and realized that it was officially 2016, that this was the year I was marrying a man that I couldn’t live my life without, a man whose opinion means so much to me, a man whose smile makes me feel so happy that I swear I glow, a man who I want to support, encourage, and be there for him no matter what the hello kitty happens.  It finally clicked that I was going to be a wife this year, that Mark and I would be together forever, and I finally felt like a round peg in a round hole.  I had settled in to the notion of my future with a man that by all previous events, I might not be marrying.  A man I once thought deserved better than me, a man who I tried to push away but knew instead of walking away he was supposed to hold me closer.  Mark is one of the best men I have ever met, while he has some habits that annoy me like the pants, he has tons of other amazing qualities, qualities I wish I had, and probably over the course of our life together I will adopt.  He is a man who is calm, happy, nonjudgmental, intelligent, athletic, sweet, romantic, goofy, thoughtful, godly, and so much more.  So on New Year’s Day when I looked at Mark I got tears in my eyes because I was simultaneously rejoicing about our future together and briefly mourning the death of my singlehood.

Last week I consoled a friend who recently started dating a guy and she was contemplating breaking up with him because ‘she felt things’; she didn’t know if it was boredom, fear, etc.  I laughed and told her that that meant she liked him.  I, too, was once like my friend.  Mark was the first man to make me ‘feel’.  Of course, I had feelings of joy, sorrow, excitement, anger, etc. my entire life.  But Mark had gotten to me, and as someone who had built a nice sturdy protective wall, I couldn’t have him crack it.  I remember thinking that I would test myself to see if I really liked Mark, I would try to look at cute guys and wonder about my dating life, but I couldn’t because I loved him.  I would see a guy and think ‘nope, they’re not my Mark, they don’t have anything I’m looking for’.  In the early days, and probably sometimes today, I was so new to dating I didn’t know a damn thing; so (I don’t know if it’s because I’m inquisitive or if it spoke to my need for reassurance) I would come up with these Litmus tests to gauge my relationship.  Now, I feel absolutely comfortable and confident in my relationship with Mark that I see this as a waste of time and completely unnecessary.  My friend, was engaging in these Litmus tests; I was happy I wasn’t the only one that did it, but also reassured her it would be ok.

In a round about way, I’m saying that I feel I have matured in my relationship.  Mark has always been confident; while many think I am, internally I am constantly battling with the emotional checkpoints I design.  I don’t miss the days of wondering if a guy will call, I don’t miss being single, I don’t miss wondering what she has that I do not.  I look forward to the new adventures Mark and I will have.  Mark is my best friend, he’s the one I lean on, the one I trust, the one I admire and love, he’s the man I’ve been searching for my whole life-he’s even better than what I thought I wanted.  This New Year’s Eve I kissed my fiance, next year I’ll be kissing my husband; and I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year!

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She works hard for the money

Today I started a new job (hence the ‘started’ part…I’m obviously tired).  I am working for a major retail food chain, it’s fun, I was really proud of myself that I caught on quickly.  I’m still getting used to being on my feet for close to 9 hours…each day for the next week.  I’m used to getting up when I want to, putting on yoga pants (because I KNOW I’ll work out later…sometimes that’s just wishful thinking), and sitting on my butt all day reading, writing, and praying for my thesis to be over because sometimes I feel the more I work on it, the less I know about it.  Apparently this is par for the course, but I’m skeptical.  I’ll keep trucking, can’t stop when I’mThisClose.  I’m excited because I’ll have something else to do, I’ll be earning some extra cash moneys for me and Mark and whatever expenses we have-I feel like I’m contributing now.  Many of you are wondering, ‘aren’t you going to be teaching in the spring semester?’  Why, yes I am.  That’s right, professor, pastry peddler, volunteer, and tutor…all in a day’s work, while preparing for a wedding, and graduating-all in a day’s work, right?  Some of you are also wondering, ‘isn’t that a bit much?’ Well, yes and no.  Most, well actually all, of them are part-time, they just require some balancing of schedules.  Volunteering will be hit or miss.  I like having lots of things to do, it makes me feel useful, keeps me on my toes.  Plus, the back story is that I’ve been searching months and months for a job, I was literally rejected by a job because I could read…I can’t make this stuff up.  So, when I was hired, of course I said yes.

In addition to working, I’ve started volunteering.  I’m volunteering for a well-known organization and I’ve been asked to help design and implement a statewide program which help reintegrate citizens into society, help with job placement, and teach life skills.  I’m excited.  It was nice to speak to another ‘sociologist’ in the real word (I never thought I would have a candid and enjoyable conversation about Simmel outside the walls of an academic institution-but I did).  I hope that I will be able to provide good information and help people out.  When I sat down with the director of the office for this program, I was just spitballing some ideas and she was ‘that is absolutely brilliant, never thought about that’.  Not gonna lie, it made me feel great.  It also made me feel great when people at academic jobs or tutoring jobs look at my CV and keep saying ‘how impressive/this is impressive/very remarkable/excellent work’.  I definitely give myself a mental high five.  Which at first, and for most of my career, I’ve downplayed what I’ve done, focused on what I hadn’t accomplished, and lately I can say with a sense of certainty and a touch of pride, I’m learning to recognize that I’ve done very well for myself.  I may not be as affluent academically as many of my colleagues (I still get starstruck at most of them because I don’t think I ever sound as intelligent as them).  But in the recent months I’ve found my academic voice and I think, ‘hmm Zimpfer, you do sound intelligent…you just never listened to your self’.  Of course, I have selective hearing…lol.

On a health note, I found out today that I have FAI(Femoracetabular Impingement).  If it sounds painful, well it is.  Basically my left hip joint is chewed up and has a torn labrum.  It is a problem that has probably been ongoing, but never really manifested itself until I thought I had a groin injury from running that never healed.  In addition to that, I have a strained adductor muscle which I still need to strengthen, and my back is thrown out of whack…which is also another symptom (something I’ve had issues with my whole life).  Needless to say, my confidence about my body has plummeted to the depths of the earth’s core.  I feel ugly, out of shape, my weight is becoming an even bigger battle, and I can’t work out because I need to work on strengthening certain muscle groups before I can do anything.  So…I will not be a size 2 when I get married (well I think we knew that was never gonna happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?)  Mark told me I’m gorgeous (and hot) and that he loves so much more abut me than my looks; but still, I miss the release of endorphins, the ‘I feel like I did something goof for my body by being active today’ feeling.  Working out, serves as a time to socialize but it’s also refreshing because all I do is work, on something, so taking an hour or so to get schweaty, burn some calories, maintain my weight, etc, meant a lot to me.  Now, I get to get an injection in my hip, do more physical therapy, and stave off surgery as long as possible.

Wish me luck, encouragement, and please pray that I do well with all of the projects and that my body heals quickly.

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Pondering a Proposal

Last year, on this date, Mark proposed to me.  We had gone out on a regular date of ours: Torchy’s Tacos and fro-yo.  Afterwards, he wanted to know if I wanted to walk around the neighborhood…nothing too out of the ordinary.  As we approached the corner of my street, he took me by the hand, got down on one knee…then I blacked out.  I knew what this position meant, Mark and I had been talking about marriage for months, but still, when you see him get on one knee and pull out a black box….it’s so very different than what you expected.  The prior year, that street corner produced a very different story, a story of impending heart break, and a decision that hung in the balance.  I was preparing to begin my fieldwork, I had also never really been in a relationship-I honestly thought that Mark and I would just be a summer fling.  In my defense, I had never really known anything else, and my purpose in life at that moment was fieldwork and my PhD.  He wouldn’t let me break up with him then, told me that things might be tough but we’d make it.  I said ok.  A few months later, we broke up (my fault), and then I would spend the next few months in emotional turmoil.  What I failed to realize prior to the ending of our relationship was that I had fallen in love with Mark, that he had broken down walls I didn’t realize I had built over the years, that I was finding out what it meant to find your best friend, your love, the one person that accepts you warts and all, the one that makes you reconsider all of your life goals…and you’re ok with that, in fact, you’re excited.  The next few months involved me being on probation, Mark realizing he too was in love, and the start of a very long distance relationship.  I went to Scotland, Mark stayed in Texas, and Skype was our only way of having dates, seeing each other, and discussing our future.  Last December I came home, I (not so) secretly hoped that Mark would propose…but while I knew deep in my heart that I wanted him to, I was still anxious about this big step.

The day before Mark proposed he and I attended a wedding of one of our friends.  We danced, drank, at cake, I looked around at people and started to see weddings in a very different light.  As I stood on the dance floor waiting for the bouquet to be tossed, I looked over at Mark and our friend, they were laughing, looking at me, and Mark had his devilish grin on(I know he’s up to no good when he has this grin on his face).  It turns out Mark and Horace-our friend-were laughing because no matter if I caught the bouquet, tomorrow I would be engaged.

The next day Mark proposed on the street corner, cited one of my blogs in which I discussed writing chapters of my life, changing the story; he wanted to change the story of this place.  I never asked him, but I imagine for him that corner held something painful; for me it was a corner, but now it’s the spot where he proposed.  It’s funny how things and places can hold such memories and how they are different for different people.  I often wonder about the stories, the conversations, the emotions that are embedded within objects and locations; the people will fade, but the memories will always remain.

So a year later, I have finally settled in to being engaged (it took me a while because I honestly never thought I’d be engaged; and there was a time when I was ok with that, content that it would just be me).  In 3 months (exactly on December 12) Mark and I will stand in front of some of our closest family and friends, say eternal vows, and top the night off with some Ceilidh dancing.  For many Americans December 7th holds a very specific memory; for me, it holds one that belongs only to Mark and me-one of love, eternity, friendship, and a life full of memories yet to be made.

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