Here’s To You – Reblog

I really enjoyed this post from ashelylillyblog as a response to everything going on with DACA. Immigrants make our country great, and we should be recognizing their contributions instead of condemning their origins.

[The American Dream is an illusion. We cannot pretend the United States was founded on dreams and morality. In fact, it was founded on murder, slavery, and theft of entire regions of land and valuable pieces of Native culture. It was founded on the oppression of people of color, women, and anyone who did not […]

via Here’s To You (a love letter to immigrants) — ashleylillyblog

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Older Siblings Leaving for College

I have two siblings, one brother and one sister, both older.

As of recently I have now watched them both leave for college, and have experienced the  being the much dreaded left behind younger sibling. Both experiences felt different for me, but it’s always tough to watch your siblings move on in life without you.

My sister went to college when I was starting eighth grade. Her last two years of high school she took on a lot of responsibilities and was really busy, so I didn’t see her a whole lot. I was also really sick and spent most of my time in my room, so that contributed to the situation as well. My sister and I are polar opposites and butt heads growing up; the five year age gap also didn’t help. When she left I was sad because I knew life would never be the same, but it wasn’t particularly devastating since we didn’t spend much time together anyway. It was hard to watch her move on, but it was more jealousy than grief. Now that she’s gone we have a much closer relationship and communicate with each other more than we ever have.

My older brother left for college mid August and this time things were different. He did two years at community college and lived at home, so we didn’t have the typical send off after high school was over. There were points in the past six months that I didn’t think he’d even try to apply to a university, let alone get in and decide to actually go. When the time came for him to move out it felt surreal. Now I was going to be the only child in my house. I spend the majority of my time alone and now that time will be even longer since he’s not around.

There’s a million selfish reasons why I didn’t want him to leave, but there’s also some concerns fueled by love. He’s a type one diabetic and the thought of him going so low he passes out and no one finding him or him not taking care of himself is nauseating. I may be his younger sister but I want to protect him and make sure he’s safe.

People often think of parents having a hard time when their children go off to college, but siblings can have a hard time too. Living with siblings verses just living with your parents is very different, and is a hard change to make. For me it’s also hard to watch my siblings move on, because I question if I will ever be able to do the things they’ve gotten to do due to my health.

I know so many people (especially people who only have one sibling who’s older) who had a really hard time watching their siblings go to college. It’s definitely a huge change for the whole family, and can be a rough transition. If your older siblings are leaving for college soon or just recently left, know that it will be hard in the begining but after a while a new normal sets in.

 

 

 

Starting School & Declining Health  

This week was my first week of being a full time college student!

I’m taking five class, which translates to 13 hours. Since this is my first semester (besides the one summer class I took) I’m taking the basics: Algebra, Biology and Lab, US History, and English.

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. My health has been declining some, so I had a doctors visit on Monday after class. ( Warning TMI) She’s putting me on a new medication to hopefully help with a new problem I’ve been having-  passing undigested food in my stool. I really need to go see a gastroenterologist again, but I honestly just don’t want to. I know I probably need to do another colonoscopy/endoscopy and I don’t want to do that. For now I’m going to try the Colestid and see what happens.

Monday traffic at my school was TERRIBLE! I left my house at 9:15 and my class doesn’t start till 10:00, so I thought I had more than enough time. It only takes me 13-15 minutes to get there, so I had thirty minutes to park and find my class. When I got to the parking lot there were at least 150-200 people circling the parking lots looking for a spot. I honestly wasn’t really sure what to do. I circled every parking lot at least three times, and as the clock creeped closer to ten I got really nervous. Professors are understanding when people are late on the first day, but I still didn’t want to make a bad first impression, even if there were circumstances out of my control. Luckily I saw a guy come out of the school and I was able to stalk him and take his spot. That was at 9:55 so I had five minutes to walk tot the other side of the school and find my class. I made it to class on time though, which seemed like a miracle.

The rest of the week I gave myself an hour to get to campus and parking wasn’t really a problem. I had to walk really far, and wait around an hour for class to start, but at least I had a spot. My classes have been good, and overall haven’t given me very much work. I’m sure that will change soon though. Over the weekend I have some work, but since it’s labor day weekend it isn’t anything unmanagable, especially since I have three days to do it.

With my health getting worse, the reality of being in school and being chronically ill really hit me mid week. I’ve done the whole being chronically ill and going to school thing for 5 1/2 years and it’s getting old. I feel like I work so hard and get nothing in return. I’m trying to be positive and go into the new school year optimistically, but when things go south it feels more painful when I’ve been optimistic. Another big change is being around people the majority of the day. Since I’ve spent most of my time alone since becoming sick I’ve developed some social anxiety that makes being in public for extended periods of time emotionally exhausting (not to mention physically exhausting from everything else) and overwhelming.

Even if this is going to be a rough semester like the years before I’m grateful to be in a place at the moment that at least let’s me try to continue my education. Back in May there was no way I’d be able to go to school at all. It’s crazy how much my health can change so quickly. It declines rapidly and improves rapidly, I just never know which one to expect! Are you in school/ working? Do you have any Fall plans?

Let me know!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

NYC Trip: Day 3-5

 

If you missed it, I wrote about Day 1-2 here…

Day Three: Monday morning my mom and I walked to a bagel shop, since you can’t go to NY without eating a bagel! Luckily my navigation skills weren’t too bad, and we got there without getting lost. The bagel shop was close to central park, so we walked there and explored. I really wanted to see Cherry Hill Fountain, which is the fountain in the Friends opening theme song. While we walked down Literary Lane towards the fountain a street performer played Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which happens to be one of me and my dad’s favorite songs) on his saxophone and it felt like a scene straight out of a movie. After that lovely moment we found the fountain and took some pictures!

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After walking around central park, we met up with my dad and brother because we brought tickets to do a bus tour of uptown. The buses were supposed to come every fifteen minutes, but we waited an hour and a half before the next one came. Now while I don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation, I swear the tour guide is my Aunt reincarnated. Like my Aunt, the tour guide was super blunt, kind of rude, had a raspy voice, and was over the top. The bus was at capacity, so we had to sit on the bottom. After a few stops it became obvious that most people didn’t have any intentions of getting off soon, so we decided to get off and try again the next day. We walked around some and came across a little park that had some statues, which was cool.

Then we Ubered back to our apartment to get ready for the show that night. We saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on broadway. It was really cute! Their take on the classic was interesting, but also didn’t stray too far from the original. My favorite character was their take on Verruca Sault. After the show we walked around until we found a place to eat, since it was 9:30 and we hadn’t had dinner. We stumbled upon a great asian place, and I had some really good spicy wonton soup. That evening we walked around more, and went to Times Square again before calling it a night.

Day Four:

Tuesday we decided to try the Bus Tour again. This time it went much more smoothly and we rode the bus from Times Square to the 9/11 memorial. The memorial is beautiful, yet so heartbreaking. One of my childhood friend’s father died in the pentagon on that day, so I always think of her and her family whenever the subject comes up. After paying our respects at the memorial, we found a place to have some brunch. The restaurant/coffee shop was adorable and was the perfect little place to grab a bite. Afterwards we went into a shop next door that had a ton of vintage posters. My brother got a Seinfeld one and I got this one…

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While we were in the shop it started to pour. We were going to walk to Wall Street, but it was the end of our trip and none of us really wanted to walk a mile in the rain. Instead we walked to the nearest bus stop and took the rest of the tour. When the rain let up, me and my mom went thrift shopping. The rest of the evening was pretty quiet besides, you guessed it, more walking around.

Day Five:

We had to be out of the apartment at 12:30, so this day was pretty short. My dad and brother got up early and rode bikes in central park. I hadn’t been feeling well, and accidentally slept in pretty late, so once I got up my mom and I walked to a coffee shop called The Jolly Goat to get breakfast.

After breakfast we packed up and got an Uber to the airport. I got randomly chosen for TSA pre-check, so that was really nice, although the rest of my family didn’t so I still had to wait for them haha. The flight back was uneventful, and now I’m home!

It was nice to get away, and I really enjoyed New York!

NYC Trip: Day 1-2

If you’ve wondered why I’ve been a little MIA this past week, it’s because my family and I went on vacation!

Day 1:

Our flight took off at 8:30am, and it’s a bit of a drive to the airport, so we left at 6:30am. I can’t remember the last time I was up at 6:30! Airport security went really well. The TSA agents usually harass my brother since he’s a type one diabetic and uses both a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump, but this time they were really nice about it. The flight went well and we landed at Laguardia airport. From Laguardia it was about a thirty minute Uber ride to our airbnb, which was in Hell’s Kitchen.

Our apartment was 800 sq. feet, so it was a bit of a squeeze with four people, but I think we all managed pretty well. We landed at around 2:00 pm est. so we were pretty hungry and ate lunch at a restaurant called Vynl that was right down 9th avenue. We didn’t have anything planned for day one, so we decided to walk around and get a lay of the land. Me and my mom went shopping, or at least we tried to haha. We got lost and ended up walking for six miles. We did however eventually find the stores we were looking for and I got two new shirts for the upcoming school year. During our time being lost we accidentally ended up by Trump Tower, and given everything that’s currently going on I felt compelled to do this…

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That evening we ate Turkish food at a great restaurant called Istanbul. After dinner we walked to Times Square. Times Square was so different than I had always imagined it. It was basically just a ton of screens and thousands of people staring at them in a trance. Honestly I found it kind of odd, but I enjoyed seeing such an iconic place. We walked around some more and then called it a night since we were all pretty tired.

Day Two:

Day two began bright and early again because we had tickets to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had planned to take the metro, but we walked to the wrong station and in order to get there on time we had to take an Uber. Liberty Island was really nice! I was shocked at how small the statue of liberty actually is; I thought it was at least twice the size. Either way it was cool to see a symbol of such a huge part of American History.

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Next we went to Ellis Island. The only thing there is a museum about immigration, so we walked around the museum. I always feel like the best way to visit museums is when you have lots of time and are in the right headspace. It was really busy there, so it was hard to get into it, but the time we did spend there was fun, and it was cool to learn about the history of immigration in the United States. They had some audio recordings that would play when you walked by certain parts of the set, in order to try and give you a taste of some of things immigrants heard when they first arrived in America. A lot of the recordings said things like, “Go back to where you came from.” It’s incredibly disheartening to know that this still happens to immigrants everyday in America.

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After we got back to the city we decided to take the metro back to our apartment. Since it was a Sunday afternoon no one was taking the metro, and it was really quiet. For lunch that afternoon we had NY style pizza at a little shop in Hell’s Kitchen. That afternoon we walked around more, (this is a common theme lol) and then got ready to go see The Book of Mormon on Broadway. The Book of Mormon was such a fantastic show! It was hilarious, but also touched on very real issues within religion. I highly recommend seeing it!

 

This was my first time visiting NYC and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Travel days 3-5 will be up soon!

Have you ever been to NYC? What was your favorite thing you did there?

My First College Class Experience

Yesterday, August 10th, was the last day of my first college class!

For reference I took an art appreciation class as a 5 week Summer course.

Many aspects of this class felt a lot like high school. It was a fairly small classroom with around 25 students, and we sat at those typical desks that have the chair attached to the desk. For some reason my teacher didn’t seem to understand the difference between an art class and an art appreciation class. Typically in an art appreciation class you would learn how to analyze art and learn a little bit of the history of different art movements.

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We did the octopus as a quick exercise in class, and although it’s a little messy I’m pretty happy with mine. (two octopus tentacles painted kind of messily in hues of blue)

But did we do that? Haha no. I really shouldn’t complain because I got three hours for doing very little work, but at times it was frustrating. The majority of the class we painted. We painted a seed pod, an octopus, a collage we made out of magazine clippings, and the final painting was a group project where we each painted a piece of a collage. The other project we had was making a sculpture out of polymer clay and a plastic animal. We also had to visit an art gallery and an art museum.

As for my professor, there’s one thing I can say that I think explains his overall demeanor and teaching style pretty well. Last week we watched a documentary about yarn, riveting right? I always arrive to class about ten minutes early since I have a perpetual fear of being late. Since I was there early he was still setting things up. I’m not sure if he realized this or not but he was projecting his computer screen onto the wall. I was looking around the room when I noticed he was googling, “What is the definition of a medium in art?” It took every once of self-control I have to not audibly laugh. He never lectured or really gave directions, and all he would do is show us pictures of things and tell us to paint them. I kept waiting for the “lesson day” but  it never came. I didn’t really learn anything (expect that painting is really hard), but I also didn’t have to do much work so I’ll count it as a win.

I’m super proud of myself because I made it to every single class. 4 days a week for 5 weeks, 20 classes total. To a healthy person this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I haven’t been able to go even a whole week straight to class in five years. Of course it helped that it was only a few hours a day and I had no other commitments, but I would have never imagined even five months ago that I would be able to do this.

Things with chronic illness can change in the blink of an eye. I’ve been out of a flare for a while now, so realistically I know one is going to rear its ugly head soon, but being able to succeed in this class gives me hope for the Fall. I’m looking forward to being in school full time again.

It won’t always be this easy, but having something productive to do feels fulfilling!

The Language of Disability

Not that long ago I didn’t consider myself disabled. Society had taught me disabled people were in wheelchairs, had some level of impaired mobility, or had moderate to severe cognitive disabilities. Sure chronic illness had completely taken over my life, but in my eyes I wasn’t disabled enough.

Fast forward to maybe nine months ago, I realized I was in fact disabled by my chronic illnesses and took on the label with pride. For me disabled is both a description of how chronic illness affects my life and a political label. I don’t have a problem with being referred to as disabled, because it’s true.

A lot of people however don’t seem to like the word “disabled.” When I was in high school I applied to become a “Best Buddy” which is a program where you befriend someone in the special education program. Fortunately or unfortunately for me (depending on how you look at it) they didn’t have enough special ed kids for all of the volunteers to have a buddy, so I never got one.

I did go to a training class after school one day, and something from it has stuck with me. They talked about how you shouldn’t ever say someone is disabled, instead say “a person with a disability, differently abled, or handi-capable.” The funny thing about the language of disability is I only see parents/caretakers asking people not to say disabled, never actual disabled people. I’m sure there are disabled people out there who don’t like the term, but I personally haven’t run across any. Many people take on the label with pride and try to advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.

I personally have a problem with the term “differently abled.” Disabled people aren’t differently abled, they are disabled. There are things we can’t do, point blank, end of story. For me some days I can do something and the next day I can’t, but there are also things that I’m never abled to do no matter the circumstances. “A person with a disability” isn’t offensive, I just find it unnecessary. The argument for the other side is that you should put the person before the disability. I feel you don’t have to take that literally. As long as someone is being respectful and isn’t  using a demonizing or belittling tone, then there isn’t anything wrong with saying “disabled people” or a “disabled person.”

Of course you should treat someone like a human being, and not reduce them to their diagnosis. However I don’t fid it necessary to say “person with a disability” every time you speak about disabilities. What are your thoughts? Do you use the term disabled to describe yourself?