There’s No Place Like It

Nope, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…*cue silent cursing from haters* psh, who am I kidding?…as if I have haters. IM ALIVE PEOPLE! And I haven’t abandoned my lovely blog either. I’ve been incredibly wrapped up in this so-called “life” lately. It’s taken all of my attention and efforts elsewhere and has left me with very little time to even think about my thoughts, let alone write them out. I’m under the impression that now may be a good time to let off a little of that steam, so let me explain where I’ve been and what’s been going on:

As some of you already know, back in August my best friend Christina lost her only surviving parent, her Mom, Lou. It was a tragic and heartbreaking experience for Christina and her family. I was supported by so many people in my life for allowing me to be able to put everything on hold as much as possible so I could be by Christina’s side. I knew the most important thing I could do was be with her during this tough time, and all of my family and coworkers really pulled through to allow that to happen. For that, I am so thankful to you all. At the beginning of September, the services were held up in Santa Cruz for Christina’s Mom. The service was beautiful and I know it touched a lot of people, including myself, to see so many show up and pay their respects. I think it’s exactly what Lou would have wanted. 

The second week of September, my family and I traveled to Northern Washington for my cousin Johns wedding. I absolutely love going up and visiting my family in Washington, they have such beautiful homes and the towns are quaint and adorable. I am so close to all of my family up there and it was wonderful getting to see them. Despite a small dramatic episode in the middle of the trip and someone from our party leaving, my cousin John married his beautiful bride Alisha on September 12th. It was such a gorgeous wedding! It was in a park and the set up was perfect. We all had such a good time. Elissa and I were in a minor ATV accident while on the trip, but no good family vacation ever ended without some injuries, at least not in our family! Sadly, Joe couldn’t come on the trip with us as he had to work and take care of our fur baby, Rowdy. I really missed him coming and I’m hoping the next time I go up, he will be able to come along.

On October 3rd, Christina moved back down to Southern California and into her new home in Irvine. She was renting a gorgeous little apartment in a gated community in the heart of the safest city in the country. She had a lovely setup with all the amenities you could think of. I was so happy for her!

In mid-October, my Mom took Christina and I to Palm Springs for a few days. Back in January for her birthday, she visited the live taping of the Ellen show, played Heads Up, and won tickets to the Saguaro hotel for two nights. We had a great time out there. We spent one of the evenings swimming at the hotels awesome pool and another evening at the Mastros steakhouse downtown seeing my amazingly talented friend Azhia perform. We even got to visit the desert zoo out there which was surprisingly good! It was a great trip and I enjoyed getting away with my Mom since it’s very rare we get to go away together.

Near the end of October, I had to take a business trip to Houston. I was incredibly nervous for the trip because when I attended these meetings last year, I didn’t have a very good experience; the traveling was really hard on me, we weren’t given much options for food which left most of us starved, and in general I get high anxiety when I’m away from home and away from Joe. Our flight out to Houston was pretty turbulent and I got quite scared up in the air. I couldn’t imagine why we were experiencing such a bumpy ride. At one point I even asked a flight attendant about the turbulence and whether or not it was normal and she looked at me cross-eyed and asked if I felt I was experiencing turbulence. Clearly, it was her way of redirecting my attention so I wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable. But everything changed on the flight back home. Before taking off and leaving Houston, I was already nervous to fly again and we had some pretty cloudy weather. We heard on the news that a tornado had touched down not too far from where we were. Everyone assured us it would be just fine to fly home, and none of the flights were delayed, so I assumed everything would be normal and calm. The moment we took off, something seemed wrong and it sent me into a spiral of panic. While ascending into the air, a white cloudy substance (almost smoke like) was billowing into the cabin between the slat wall where the windows are and the ceiling of the plane. I instantly panicked and pointed it out to my coworker, Megan, who was seated in front of me. I kept shouting “look! Look! Do you see that?! What is that? It isn’t supposed to look like that!” Somehow, no one else was seeing what I was seeing. I thought to myself this is either smoke or clouds, and either way, we are all dead. I tried to force myself to remain calm. Megan reached behind her seat and took my hand. I didn’t let go for quite some time. When I did let go, the captain came over the intercom and explained that we would be passing through a storm and to put on our seatbelts immediately and not get up. This only made my anxiety worse, but I tried to breathe and focus on staying calm. It began to get very turbulent and the plane was dropping suddenly in the air, free-falling about 20 feet and then catching itself again. Everyone looked around to see the expressions on the other passengers faces, as if to check if they were the only ones freaking out. I quickly purchased the on board wifi for $6.99 so I could message someone from home and tell them I might not make it. I got ahold of my Mom and was explaining to her what was going on and how scared I was. I began to cry. I lifted my coat sleeves over my face to try and hide how scared I was, but I couldn’t stop crying. I was thinking about how this could actually be the way I die, and I couldn’t contain my emotions. I was thankful to be talking to my Mom but very sad that I knew I may not be able to tell Joe goodbye and how much I love him. My Mom helped aid me in staying as calm as possible. Eventually, I knew the only way to ensure I didn’t have a full blown panic attack on the plane was to be unaware of my surroundings and somehow I managed to force myself to sleep. I woke up about an hour and a half later, still on high alert, but thankful to be alive. The remainder of the flight continued to be very turbulent, preventing the flight attendants from serving beverages or checking on the passengers. When we finally landed back in Orange County, I could not have been more happy to be on the ground. I had a massive headache and all I wanted to do was get home and stay home.

The following day was Halloween. I love Halloween! It’s such a fun time of year when everyone really takes part in the festivities. As exhausted as I was from traveling, I worked early that morning so I could get off around 3pm to take Jade trick-or-treating. Elissa, Christina, Jade and I all got tons of candy and had a really good time going through the neighborhood. Joe had to work, so once we finished with Jade, Christina and I headed over to Brea and met with her cousin Kling and her girlfriend. We played pool, had some drinks and food, and hung out. I even invited some of my friends from work and they made it out, too. We stayed up pretty late that night, but we were having a lot of fun so it was well worth it.

Before leaving for Houston, I was experiencing some minor medical problems. It wasn’t anything serious and I had just planned to keep an eye on things, knowing if anything changed or got worse, I’d get to the doctor right away. A short time after coming home from that trip, my symptoms not only changed but got much worse. I was experiencing heart attack symptoms for about 3 days, and on the third day, when my left arm began to burn and hurt a lot, I got really scared and called my Mom (yes, again, because when shit gets real you call your mom!). She talked me through my options and told me it was highly unlikely I was having a heart attack because of my age. She told me to try and take something for anxiety, and if it didn’t help, to call 911. I took a Xanax and emailed my doctor explaining my symptoms and that I would like to see her as soon as possible. When Joe came home that night, he helped get me to sleep and in the morning I felt much better. My doctor had emailed me back with an appointment time for the following day and basically said “calm down, that’s really unlikely!” and told me she would check it out when I went into the office. When I got there, we went over a lot and she said it was very likely that my symptoms were all stress related. She said over 80% of people that end up in the E.R. complaining of heart attack symptoms are actually suffering from stress. She said everything seemed fine, but to be sure, she would do an EKG in the office before I left. I had never had that test performed on me in the past and didn’t know what to expect. When the male nurse asked if I felt comfortable with him performing the test, I said “yeah, I don’t care” because I had no idea what the test consisted of. Essentially, I got topless for a random guy I didn’t know, had him touching my bare chest with his cold hands, and he even had to wipe my chest down with a wet cloth because the monitor tabs weren’t sticking to my skin! I lied there on the table and just laughed as he did all of this. I was simply embarrassed! When the tests were done, my doctor said “you’re fine! Go home and stop freaking out!”. So…I did.

While living in her new apartment, Christina continued to search for a house in Southern California so she could purchase something more permanent and make a wise investment in her future. At the end of October, she found a GORGEOUS home in Chino. The place couldn’t have been more perfect for Christina. It was the model home for the community and had recently been reduced in price. The price included all of the furniture and upgrades in the home and she even got a discount for being a teacher. It truly was meant to be! At the beginning of November, she moved into her new home. We held a housewarming party for her just this past weekend; lots of friends and family came, we had way more than enough food, and everyone mingled and had a great time. I really love her place and I know she does, too. I’m so proud of her and all she has accomplished during such a trying time. I have very high hopes for her future and I can’t wait to share all of those experiences with her.

The one thing I really noticed was such a problem for me over these last few months was the lack of time I have spent with Joe. It’s not unusual that he and I have scheduling conflicts that prevent us from seeing each other as much as we would like, but we make a strong effort to at least have one day a week where we do something together, just he and I. With everything that had been going on, we sadly missed a lot of those opportunities. It wasn’t because of one thing or another, necessarily, but just a matter of circumstances. It kind of boiled over for me last week when I realized a lot of the stress I believe I was experiencing seemed to be coming from a general lack in attention and time that he and I got together. All of the time we spent seeing each other these last few months were in group settings and it didn’t permit us to get the quality time we really needed. It felt like we had drifted apart. I expressed my feelings to him and he agreed that he felt the same way. We both decided we would do whatever necessary to ensure we get more time together, and things seem to be looking up in that sense.

Oh, but anyway, Toto, we’re home. Home! And this is my room and you’re all here. And I’m not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and oh Auntie Em, there’s no place like home! 

-Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

So, that’s what’s been going on in my life lately. I’m thankful things are starting to slow down before the holidays. For now, I am going to focus my attention on doing what makes me happy: spending time with friends and family, and loving those who surround me. Anyone who knows me knows The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies, since I was super little. I guess it was foreshadowing my feelings for the future. I always thought I would be a world traveler and see many places and things. It was a dream of mine at one time to never keep my feet in one place for too long. But as I have gotten older and realized what’s really important in my life, those famous words have never been more true…there really is no place like home.

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