Sunday Checkup – Week of 9/29 – If I could summarize this week, I would say it was…better.

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I want to write weekly in this blog and be honest with you. The last two weeks, I was sad. A type of sad that is difficult to describe. After having a chat with my therapist as well as my mother, I realize it was due to a bunch of small disappoints bunching up inside. It is also the state of limbo my family is going through. I will not go into detail but it is in state of limbo. Of change that may occur that I cannot prep myself for, that make me the most anxious.

I don’t believe people when they said to me as a child that I didn’t like change. No. Change is good. Change is how we grow. But change is just more difficult for the disabled. I’d love to be a part of charge, but what does it cost me in return? How much time must I spent prepping for it? Truth is, I can’t. And you can’t. Change often occurs when we least expect it. And I hate that but it happens, more often than not. So what do I do until such change occurs? Lie in a bed of nerves? Or go through the motions of my everyday life, dealing with life’s trials and tribulations as they come along? I choose the latter.

For this first entry in October, I wrote that I am “better” because I do not feel sad. Or as sad. Writing has helped. Taking some time away from social media (even deleting some apps) has helped. I realized I have to learn to be OK with silence again. I have to be OK with the unknown. I have to be OK with me. And if I can’t take the time to look inward at what is going on, how can I ever change what’s going on, outside of me?

I will not write day-by-day of the first week of October. Frankly, unless I write every night, I forget a lot of what happens from one day to the next. So I’m focusing on my mental state for the week overall. So “better” is better than bad (or really – sad). But better could be, well…better. And I want to eventually get to more than better. Not sure how, but I’ll get there.

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2019, thus far.

This post is dedicated to Fritz. My family’s dog of 14 years. Your spirit still lingers in our household and I miss you.

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In order to record 2019, thus far, I have assisted the help of my journal. Yes, a journal. A journal that I have neglected time and time again, like this blog. However, in January and February, I did write in it every day. I won’t fool myself by trying it again. Instead, baby steps. Journal at least once a week when I have the time, energy or the need to do so. I also want to write in my blog at least one a week. I don’t know what exactly but one of my favorite disabled authors / Youtubers, Shane Burcaw, writes a “What Made Me Smile This Week” on his social media. I won’t take his idea but it would be nice to do something that pushes me to actually write, and weekly. What about, “If I could summarize this week, I would say it was…” or, shorter, “After this week, I feel…” I could try out both and see how it goes. Anyways, now I am rambling. Let’s get to the meat of this post. 2019, thus far.

January – I tried, like everyone else, to make New Years resolutions and keep them. I remember working really hard throughout the month to stay consistent with BeachBody. I loved the workout (only 20 min. per day) but the Shakeology part was too much for my stomach to process, so I stopped the shakes earlier than I did the exercise regime. January also consisted of me really struggling with my self-esteem as well as my standards in terms of meeting guys. Needless to say, it all did not go anywhere but the internal dialogue was interesting to read. I didn’t really want the guys who were pursuing me but I felt like I almost had to because, as horrible as it sounds, I’m disabled and thought that I can’t get anything better, right?

In addition, I went to a psychic at the end of January. I have an odd relationship with psychics. I don’t mind going to them but also, I am skeptical. I will not go often. Most of my experiences have been because my mother went prior or there was a recommendation and someone else paid for me. Now, writing this in October, one of the pieces of the psychic visit that sticks with me is that I will have “a change in role or placement” in reference to work. I remember the psychic saying that they really love me at m place of work, and they do. But my role has not changed. In fact, I might take more hours to earn more money. I wonder if the “change in location” was supposed to happen in 2019 or could it be by the end of the next school year? Hmmm..

February – I was single for another Valentine’s Day. In fact, I have never had a “someone” on Valentine’s Day. I wish the holiday wasn’t so romanticized and a staple, especially for girls. Then again, if I was dating and in love, I probably wouldn’t say anything. I’d be in bliss.

There wasn’t much else in February, though I would like to quote myself. At the end of the month, I wrote the following: “I am worth more. 2018 gave me what I needed to leave behind. 2019 is about repairing myself and knowing where my heart will lie by 2020.” I would like to think that this still rings true. That I can leave 2019 knowing that there is more of a clear path, at least job and location-wise.

March – I stopped writing in my journal for most of March. I consistently write that 2020 is my year and I still believe that. So far, I have said nothing about 2019 being my year. Thank god. Because it really hasn’t been (with the exception of what occurs in August).

Though I will say that the end of the March to the end of April was the time when we had a student from Germany come stay with us. It was so nice having this lovely lady and I can’t wait to see her sometime in the future. Months later, I really hope she did actually enjoy herself. I don’t hear from her much. Hopefully her month on Long Island wasn’t a total loss. I know I enjoyed her company and so did my parents.

April – This month encompassed having a foreign exchange student or working. It was a month of still struggling with dieting / exercise, having/deleting social media and wondering if the person I am attracted to, actually giving me the time of day.

May – A deadline was given for May and the one person I hoped would make the decision I hoped for, didn’t. Didn’t act like it was an issue that he forgot. But I guess I shouldn’t count on guys for anything? How could I be so foolish to believe it would actually happen when nothing did previously? This decline, to this day, has lead me not to be hopeful anymore. It’s sad, but it’s true.

June – My birthday month. I remember it going by fast. End of the school year and last minute prep for my brother’s wedding. Over the years, I’ve cared less and less about celebrating my birthday, aside from a card and cake. I don’t need a party or anything fancy. Just a card and a cake is fine by me.

The day after the school year ended was the day of my brother’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and I still can’t wait for all the photos to come out. My best friend came to be my plus one and he was short enough to dance with me a few times on my crutches. End of May to June was when my left hip began to hurt. I made sure to mix being on my crutches and being in the chair at times. The food was great but the music could’ve been better. It wasn’t my taste.

July – I did not work in July and now, looking back, I really should’ve have been. I need to save money and I really did not do much of anything in July but catch up on Netflix and go out for food with friends. I know, for teachers, July and August is a time to replenish oneself but it was more me being a couch potato.

August – The highlight of this month and really, this year, was going to a Queen concert in Madison Square Garden. We had the best seats and we even got to meet the drummer, Roger Taylor, the next day, outside of his hotel. He was the nicest and now I can say I met the drummer from the legendary band, Queen, and also I am one away from Freddie Mercury, which means the world to me.

Going to a Backstreet Boys concert a week later was surreal. Two concerts within a week of one another. I was so lucky, though I will admit that nothing will beat the Queen concert. I got Merch from both concerts as reminds of where I have been, even though I have photos/videos to show as well. I love to have something in my hands. Over-sized shirts, posters and/or coffee cups are the must-haves of music merch for me.

September – September has ended. You can wake up Billie Joe now. Ha, ha. Bad Green Day joke, Anyway…

September has come and gone, semi-quickly. Interesting work schedule that I am still getting used to and the realization of how much I need to save in order to make 2020 my year of change (in location).

On September 29, I went to the Global Citizens Festival. I saw Queen for the second time. Of course, my seats were farther away than at MSG but nothing could beat those seats. Nothing could beat that concert but it was great regardless. I am so glad that I went and could say that I was there when my parents could only see it on the TV. Granted, they got a better view of everything but I could say I was in the same area as Carol King, Leo DiCaprio, Rami Malek and Queen. Actually, at one point, Rami and his girlfriend, Lucy, were semi-in-front-of-us. While filming Carol King for my mom, you saw Rami in the frame the whole time. How crazy is that?

Now it is October and I have come to the end of this 2019 catch-up game with you. I hope you enjoyed it. I think the (more frequent) posts to come will be much better. Stay tuned and enjoy the photo compilation below.

If I wrote a book, it would be called “Everyone told me to write a book, so here it is.”

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I don’t know what to make of 2019. Now, it is only September, so I still can’t touch my list of 19 (20) goals for 2019 but I thought we could still catch up, no?

At least once a year since receiving my English degree, I have asked, either on Facebook or among friends, if I should write a book. I receive a resounding “YES,” which is great but I come out of the conversation with nothing. Nowhere to start and with the firm belief that my story is nothing special, even though I just finished my Disability Studies certification where we discuss, at length, how important narratives are. I know my voice has value but I guess I was never one to tell the world my problems. And perhaps my problems are problems that other people share but I have lived a life of guilt. It is backpack of guilt that a person with a disability is a burden because we often depend on others for our basic needs. It is foolish to think that we are such a burden when there are people without disabilities that cause more of a burden on others than my need for a plate from the top self. But I digress.

I try, time and time again, to write what’s on my mind, either in a journal or on WordPress and I’m still left feeling that it’s lack-luster. That there someone else with more to say. Perhaps I will never get over this feeling that there is something and someone better than me but I am working on it. I sit here at 6PM on a Saturday in September, knowing all too well that I will not touch WordPress again for months and this makes me sad. I want to use this for monthly updates for friends and family but can I do it? I want to use this platform has the “first draft” if I do ever choose to write a book. I do want to start saving month starting October 1st in order to travel again next summer, so perhaps I will be home more (instead of eating out) and get the time to write you a monthly update. Would you like that? Summing up Jan-September 2019 in a new entry at the end of September and from now on, writing monthly about life – my trials and tribulations, my dreams and anecdotes? What do you think?

20 Goals for 2019

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19 Goals for 2019. Even though I like odd numbers, some odd numbers I cannot stand such as any odd number that ends in “3” or “9” so I decided to have 20 Goals instead of 19. Perhaps for 2020, I’ll have 20 Goals, plus 1. I’ll always add an additional goal for good measure – for good luck or just to ring in the new year.

  1. Exercise at least 4x per week (cardio OR strength)
  2. Be 75 pounds AND more toned around the stomach.
  3. Find a job where I can earn enough money to move out of my parent’s house.
  4. Find a teaching job outside of New York.
  5. Obtain a certificate verifying B2-C1 level of the German language.
  6. Take Spanish classes online (or perhaps with a tutor?)
  7. Obtain B1-B2 level of the Spanish language.
  8. Obtain Disability Studies certificate by the end of the summer
  9. Have an idea for a dissertation topic, if there is a desire to pursue a Ph.D sometime in the future
  10. Have consecutive days on Duolingo, Elevate, and exercise regime  (more than a month)
  11. Write in my blog at least two times per month.
  12. Write in my journal for the whole year.
  13. Have a boyfriend.
  14. Smash.
  15. Go to a rock concert.
  16. Buy and learn how to play the harmonica
  17. Buy and learn how to play the piano / have basic ability level of the instrument
  18. Drink 30 oz of water per day; one (decaf) coffee per day (after 7 PM) to avoid snacking at night.
  19. Buy a camcorder; record bits of 2019 and take more (professional-looking) shots with my phone / (old) Nikon camera
  20. Achieve at least half of the goals listed above.

Eurotrip ’18 – Berlin & Northern Germany

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Yes, I am writing this post far too late. It is almost 2019 and I have no one else to blame for why I am posting the last part of my journey months after my time in Europe. Perhaps a part of me was awaiting a sudden shift in my location from September (when I wrote the last post about my U.K. days) and December. Alas, I am still in the U.S. Still on Long Island.

I honestly do not have much to say about my time in Northern Germany. I spent the time with a great friend of mine who is also a Fulbright and who I met while he was studying and receiving his Master’s degree at my University. It was so nice seeing him again. He attended a wedding with me (in Bielefeld). Quick backstory – a friend of mine who I tutored back in 2016 got married and happened to have her wedding while I was going to be visiting, so of course I was invited. I had such a great time with her, her friends, and also experiencing a German wedding for the first time. It was not far off from a wedding I would have be a part of in the U.S. Although a bit more dancing would’ve gone down in the U.S. – at least at the weddings I went to.

I wanted to go to Berlin in the hopes that my friend (who lived in Berlin for about a year) would take me to parts that I have never been to or thought to go to. He was helpful in the fact that he suggested a good number of museums. I also wanted to go to visit a friend of mine who was still working in Berlin at the time. We met up with her and I also met up with an old acquaintance of my mother’s from the past. It was another little person who was living and working in Berlin. It had been over 20 years since we last saw one another but the conversation was great and I am so thankful to have seen her again after all these years.

I also was able to meet his parents and see the calm and rural life of Northern Germans. Living in the Northwest part of Germany, in a semi-large city, I was used to having a mix of a city-suburban life. I liked it. Going from a semi-city to a rural countryside was something new for me. Because of so much traffic going from his home back to Bielefeld, I had to stay later than I expected. His family was nice about it but it was slightly awkward when he left to go back to work and I still stayed with his parents for a day and a half.

I will never forget the hospitality his family showed me. I wish I could shower them with love. I am not sure what else I could’ve done outside of a postcard. Sometimes I think about mailing them something else and maybe I will. Sometimes I think about reaching out to them, just to see how they are. Sadly, I do not have much to say about my life in the U.S. right now, so I feel the conversation will fall flat, so I often put down my phone and decline to reach out.

Moreover, I cannot begin to thank all of the people that I reunited with and met along my travels in Europe. My heart wants to go back so badly. To visit old friends – to make new ones – and to work and live there one day. I cannot describe why my heart belongs in Germany but it does. Perhaps one day I’ll figure out why I feel like my heart belongs there. I am going to see a psychic in a few weeks thanks to my parents, who bought me the session as a Christmas present. I am not saying that I am going to ask all the burning questions in my heart immediately at the start of my questions. But I will ask where my heart lies in the year to come.

I know it belongs somewhere, but where? Nevertheless, I am going to write again at the start of 2019. As many people do, I am going to write my plans for 2019. I made plans for 2019 and some of them came true. Some are an impossibility and others will take far more than a year to accomplish. Nonetheless, I am making another one for 2019 to see if, by the end of that year, if I accomplished more or less than in 2018. Wish me luck!

Below are a few photos throughout Berlin and Northern Germany. Enjoy ­čÖé

 

Eurotrip ’18 – U.K.

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Next on my Eurotrip was my trip to the U.K. in mid-July. I was definitely interested how I was going to be able to go to England, Northern Ireland and Ireland in a week. My last time in England was not a very good one. Yes, I was only in London for 3 days but we encountered a lot of complications in terms of accessibility. But I knew I had to push my fears implanted in me from last trip away and try it again.

I was pleasantly surprised. There were not as many hiccups as I thought there would be. I used public transportation with little to no issue (except I did not always have exact pounds..) and most tourist locations I visited (Titanic Museum, Guinness Factory) were accessible.

One of the most tedious parts of the trip, overall, was making sure that all accommodations for the airlines was sent as early as possible. Most people do not have to think twice about getting on and off planes but I had to do it for every flight. After awhile, I made myself a cheat sheet with all the specifications of my wheelchair.

What I found most interesting about this particular part of my trip was the timing. My travels to England (Manchester, Nottingham), Northern Ireland (Belfast), and Ireland (Dublin) all occurred at the same time that another little person who is currently living in the U.K. had a horrible experience on public transport. Her scooter was regarded as having less priority than a baby carriage. She was forced to move to the corridor and then asked to get off the train. She posted on Facebook about this ordeal as well as a video. This video blew up and suddenly, every news outlet wanted to report it. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous during the rest of my time in U.K. that it would happen to me. After all, back in 2002, when I was in London, our family had to leave a bed-and-breakfast that was deemed “accessible” (that wasn’t) and my wheelchair flipped backwards when going onto a very steep ramp onto a train.

I was very lucky that I did not have any bad experiences this time around. Did I have a wheelchair issue after coming back to Germany from Ireland? Yes. Did this mean I could not go to a job interview or to Amsterdam days later? Of course. But this was not caused by public transport. Although I do believe someone who was handling the wheelchair on or off the plane tried to push the connectors back together and broke the springs in the process, but that fact isn’t a 100% clear.

I will share some of my photos from my time in the U.K. below. But please, if you have any time to spare, please support Tanyalee, the woman who went through the horrid ideal on a train, with her #Scootergirlcampaign. Just because I did not have the same experience as her while I was in the U.K. as she did, does not mean her situation is not valid and does not need attention. Please note that I used to have a scooter from 2010-2016 until I also experience issues with scooters either not being considered a mobility aid or being a safety hazard on public transport. I switched to a wheelchair to prevent such complications, but not everyone is comfortable switching to a wheelchair nor is a wheelchair most useful for their needs.

https://www.facebook.com/scootergirlcampaign/

Manchester

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I only spent a night in most cities in the U.K. I had a great time in Manchester. The people were so nice. Since I was there on the weekend, I could not go on any of the boat tours. Instead, I went to two different malls and had a blast. I will definitely have Manchester on my list of places to visit again.

Nottingham

I spent three nights in Nottingham. It was great being in the city of the infamous Robin Hood. Even though the Sherwood Forest tree was not as big as I thought it was going to be, it was very nice. Nottingham was a not-too-big but not-too-small location to settle-in and mingle with the locations for three days.

Belfast

Again, I was only in Belfast for a day. I went to the Titanic Museum. It was great. Very accessible and the museum set-up was very engaging. I loved there souvenir and now have a mug, shirt and tote bag to show for it.

Ireland

Another city that I want to visit again if given the chance. I loved the atmosphere and the accent, even though it was difficult to understand. If I could, I would go just to Ireland and Scotland. I still have yet to Scotland and I know the landscape is breath-taking. Ireland countryside is also a site to see and I definitely want to make that experience as well sometime in the near future.

Next on the Eurotrip list: A German Wedding & My Experience in somewhat rural Northern Germany

Eurotrip ’18 – Italy (Rome)

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I am lucky to say that in my short (no pun intended here) 27 years of life, I have already been to Germany and England. Granted, England was only for 3 days when I was 11, but I can still say I’ve been there. Germany, on the other hand, I have visited 3 times before this trip. So when my German family asked me where I’d like to with them – someplace where I’ve never been before – it was a tough decision between Italy and France. Sometime last year, I thought about going with France with a friend of mine who was working in Berlin but spoke fluent France. Sadly, because she was in the midst of moving (out of the city or out of the country was not clear in early 2018), it would not be possible to make the trip with her. Besides, some of the research I did on accessibility in France did not leave me with many positive outcomes on the country. Since my German family had been to Italy before, I decided on Rome, Italy.

Now, I am writing this entry almost a month after going on the trip. I do not know if that is a good or bad thing. I only carried a very small suitcase to all my out-of-Germany trips, which meant that fitting my laptop was an impossibility. However, since I have a week to spend now in Bielefeld before an interview I have in a nearby city, working on each section of the trip during this time seems to work out perfectly. I can now write about the experience and even reflect on several thoughts I had during the trip that perhaps have changed in the last month.

This trip to Italy was only three days. A lot of my travels during my Eurotrip were very short. Rarely did I spend more than 3 days in a given location. There are definitely cities and countries I could say I’d spend more time exploring the next time I get the chance to come over. On the other hand, there are cities/countries that I do not feel compelled to visiting again, even if I spent only a day there.

I would say that I do not feel compelled to go back to Rome, Italy, anytime soon. Perhaps I’d go back to Italy to see Venice but I am not rushing to make those plans for the near future. There’s something about the way of life in Italy that is quite different from Germany. I am not saying that it is bad but it is different. In a way, I love how they really are more relaxed in demeanor and lifestyle. Germans are not, in my opinion, in anyway too tightly-wound. However, based on many German friends of mine, they make a sharp distinction between work and play. I am not sure if Italians do the same. I think the work and play sometimes wavers.

Nevertheless, my German family and I spent the three days exploring the typical locations – Vatican, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Capital. The family would remark later on, after the trip, that the trip was another great one for them. What they found interesting was how it was trip for them using different eyes. Out of all of the places I thought about going to, there was only one place that was too complicated using the trains / buses, which was the Villa Borghese. Instead, we went to a great location called the “Trastevere.” It was an old section of the city that really allowed the atmosphere of Italy shine through. I really enjoyed the experience. By going there, I totally forgot about not going to the Villa Borghese. It is sad but sometimes you must accept what you can and cannot do. You can, of course, push boundaries, to a point. At first, both my parents and German family were against me going to Italy. They feared it would be too inaccessible. I, on the other hand, was determined to go and prove that, when there is the will, there is a way. I am aware of places where it is safer, at least the first time around, to go with someone. Honestly, in my opinion, there are only a few people that would go away to new land without going with someone or meeting up with someone. I like to share experiences. Also, I’ll be honest and say that I like traveling with others to show that travel and overall, sharing experiences with a disabled person is not as difficult as the world seems to perceive it to be for people “like me.” Yes, there is more planning prior but it is not an impossibility. It is 2018 and I’d like to think that the world is slowly realizing that it is not fault of mine that I was born differently. That I was born to change others perceptions of others – if that is through a friendship, social media acquaintance, work, or my writing.

Overall, going to Rome was a highlight for me. It started the trip off right. While there were some inaccessible areas (and inaccessible buses), overall, I was able to enjoy myself, even if I stood only 3′ tall and in a wheelchair.┬á And, of course, being a tourist in a wheelchair does have its “perks.” You often can cut the line or have a person be your “companion” in which can get into certain locations half off or free of charge. I do not like when people point this fact out or “thank” me for it. You are thanking me for being disabled so that you don’t have to pay or can cut the line? You’re welcome? I often wish I’d argue the comment further like, “Would you thank someone for being a certain race or nationality so that you have certain privileges that you didn’t have prior?” Just a thought.

OK. Well, that is my blog post for today. Under this entry, I have attached some photos of the places I was able to visit. I hope I have inspired you, perhaps, to make a trip to Italy yourself one day. And no, I do not mean to inspire you to go as a non-disabled person because “if she can do it, so can I.” I mean inspire in terms of perhaps giving you a reasons to want to make the trip too based on my views of the country, city and accessibility.

Upper left: Pantheon.

What a beautiful attraction. Out of luck, we were able to sit in on a catholic church service. While we did not understand most of what was said, it was a truly spiritual experience for me that I will never forget.

Upper right: Capital Building

I did not go into this building but it was very beautiful. There was a bus stop that we used often around the building, so I was able to “drive” passed it several times and admire its beauty.

Lower left: Villa Trastevere

I would recommend this area, without a doubt! Yes, it is still quite touristy, especially as day turns into evening, but there is something about it that I cannot describe completely. If you want to learn about what the Italian atmosphere in Rome is truly like, take a trip to this area!

Lower middle: Trevi Fountain

It was a very short trip to the fountain. We passed it on our way back from the Pantheon. It was also quite crowded. I was glad nonetheless to get a quick snap of the fountain and me before more tourist came to do the same.

Lower right: Vatican

It was a breath-taking experience. There was so much to see. I even got to see the Pope! That was not even planned. Granted, he was very small from my viewpoint since he was very high up in his room but I can still say I saw the Pope. The museum was very crowded but it was still a joy to experience. I would warn any wheelchair users that it is a bit difficult on the way back from certain areas because you have to go back when everyone else is going in the opposite direction. I do not know how many times my German family and I had to say “excuse me” as we made our way back to the elevators. Nevertheless, totally recommend it. Your breath will definitely be taken away too.

P.S. I almost forgot. We had a great experience flying to Italy but not so much on the way back. Warning to anyone operating someone else’s mobility device. Always ask them or their companion on how to use it or dismantle it. Never say “you got it” when you do not know what you are doing or what you have to pull out in order to disengage the battery. We had to wait 1/2 hour to depart because they were fiddling with the wheelchair, trying to disengage it without consulting the people who know, like my German family and myself. Also, please try not to mention the reason there was a delay on a wheelchair. There was only one wheelchair user on the place. Way to pin-point the entire delay on me. Thanks, pal.

Eurotrip ’18 – Flight to Europe & Initial Days in Deutschland

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I find the invention of flight quite amazing. One hour you are in one country and in two or three hours time, you could be in another land entirely. Now, of course, in the US, you can fly four four hours and still be in the US but it is much different once you cross the Atlantic to Europe. In Europe, it is easier to drive for two hours or so and be in a new country – the language, cultural norms, etc. so drastically different. I find this so fascinating. If I drive five hours north of NYC, I am still in New York. Perhaps this is why so many Americans do not travel much outside of the country. Why travel to another country when there are 50 states to explore? Thanks to all the LPA (Little People of America) conventions for giving me the opportunity to travel to states outside of those in the Northeast.

So this trip was about a year in the making. It was my mother’s doing. She told me that if I survived the year working as a middle school teacher, then I’d deserve to go across the ocean again and meet up with all of my international friends I met during my Fulbright year in Germany. I do not think my mom thought I’d take her comment seriously but oh, did I.

My plan was not to remain in Germany. No. I met international friends who lived elsewhere and it was the perfect chance to met up in their “homeland.” I knew I was going to go to the U.K. to visit one friend. Other than that, most of my friends from my Fulbright year worked in Germany. My German family friends wanted to know if there was a country I’ve never been to that we could go to together. After researching accessibility in Italy and France, I decided on Italy. My family friends had already been to Italy several times so I felt confident that we could have a joyous, successful mini-vacation there together.

Ah, I am getting off-track. Where was I? Oh yes. My flight and initial days in Germany. Well, I did save a bit of money for the trip. However, I wanted to save as much as I could for the 6 or so weeks that I’d be there. Using my credit card travel points, I found a flight. It had two stops and I’d get there pretty late but it did not cost me an arm and a leg. I found out recently that if I did not go through the credit card company, I could find slightly cheap flights that were non-stop. I think I may have to do this on my trip back to the US. The only reason I accepted the two stops was that my friend agreed to take the same flights with me. We were both going to Europe for the summer but meeting up with different people. While the task of making sure special services with me and the wheelchair was a bit tedious with two stops, I did it. But if it wasn’t for my friend being next to me the entire time, I wouldn’t do it again. I’d feel so alone while waiting hours between flights. Thanks, my Schatz!

When I finally arrived in Duesseldorf, it felt as if I had came back to my second home. Of course, I was older. Maybe even a tiny bit wiser. But it did not feel as if two years had gone by. Even now, when I visit the inner city of Bielefeld or the University, it does not feel that much time as gone by. Time and place are so interesting, aren’t they? In actuality, time and place are only abstract concepts constructed by the way in which the Earth moves. How day falls into night. How winter transcends into spring.

Now, I did not have many days to “soak in” Germany before flying again. But I did have time to practice my German. I was honestly shocked that it came back so quickly. Even though I took a class once a week to keep the language in tact, I did not speak much in the class or practice much outside of class. The mother of the family always said that once you have had the experience of being immersed in the language and culture (as I did in 2015/2016), that you will never forget it. A few words might fall deep to the back of your mind but they will come back.

I was so happy to have the day before the trip to Rome be a family affair. My German family invited over their children. Even though I did not see the family and children for years, they greeted me with open arms. As odd as it sounds, they feel like my second family. My German “Family.” We sat, drank beer, spoke German and overall had a wonderful little family get-together outside in the “garden.” Simple events such as this give me the most joy – the most peace. I do not need the crazy nightlife. Give me close family or friends and a beer outside on a warm summer day and I am a happy camper. Some may call me boring. I call it being most happy with the most important things in life – friends, family and a good drink.

That is all I have to share in terms of my flight and initial days in Germany. My next post will encompass my experience in Rome, Italy. I hope you are ready. Until then –┬átsch├╝ss!

 

Eurotrip ’18 – The Introduction Post

blog post photo - intropost

Today I begin to write the story of my Eurotrip in 2018. While there are definitely other disabled bloggers out there, posting about their experiences abroad, I thought that one more narrative won’t hurt.

As an English major, writing should be one of my specialties and in fact, it is. However, in the past, I have always found it difficult to write about myself. Writing for Uni? Easy. Creating ELA lesson plans? Done. But culminating a narrative of myself? Yeah, not happening. However, when I decided to take a leap of faith and take a class in Disability Studies at my local University, I discovered how important narratives are. I realized that everyone has a story to tell, yet there are so little out there from people like me. A person who is a dwarf / little person. A person who is also a wheelchair AND crutch user. A person who is a teacher.

So here I am, using my Eurotrip as a perfect way to talk about myself as well as take you on a journey of the month and a half through six different countries. Will all the experiences be earth-shattering? No. Of course not. As I write this introduction post, I am sitting in “my bedroom” in the basement (which makes it a lot cooler in hot, summer weather in July), having no plans today other than updating my journal (which I forgot to write in while I was in the U.K.) and make this introduction post. But it is definitely a story worth telling. It is the ups and the downs of being disabled as well as an amateur “world” traveler. It is getting to know myself a bit more. It is learning how to network, when to say yes/no, when to plan ahead and when to let it happen. Many people believe that making yourself healthier, wiser – better, is a life-long process. I believe this to be true. Nevertheless, I also believe that some events in one’s life can change your outlook quite quickly. I feel, in my heart, that I am changing – for the better – because of this trip. And as I transcribe each new city/country, I will tell you how this city/country has changed me in one way or another – so please, stay tuned !

Tomorrow, I will begin with my flight to Europe and my initial days in Germany (July 4th┬á – July┬á 6th). Until next post – tsch├╝ss!

Why I Decided to Have Weight-Loss Surgery

meandamericanfood

This blog post marks the third installment of my expansion on my “About Me” section. This is a harder topic to talk about it, even if I am more open about the topic than most: weight-loss surgery.

Now, I have met people who do not believe that I was ever overweight. They saw me for the dwarfism, I guess, and not the weight around my belly. I was or still am (according to average BMI charts) overweight. I know that I am going to sound like every other overweight American but it is true. I come from a family of overweight people. We love food so much and we live in a country that would rather have cheap soft drinks than cheap fruits and vegetables. Regardless, I was and am overweight.

I decided to have the gastric sleeve surgery in April of this year. Previously, in 2010, I had the lap-band surgery at the age of 20. Both surgeries were a success and I dropped down below 90. Right now, I am around 85 pounds. Whether or not I will make it to my goal of 70 is hard to tell at this point, since I still love food just as much as I did before.

I will not say that I am perfect at this weight-loss thing. In fact, if my doctor saw what I eat right now, he would probably scold me for half the things I still touch. I am sorry, sir, but I will always love chocolate. You cannot stop me from such a desire. Anyways, I am eating less and I believe that this surgery, for me, is needed. It is not an easy way out for me since it was not logical for a person of my height to be able to consume what a normal 26 year old woman would. I cannot be 115 pounds. I have to be far below that. This surgery was a perfect way to curb my desire for me.

I have to admit, being healthier wasn’t the only reason for going along with this surgery. Both times, with the lap-band and the gastric sleeve (the gastric sleeve was better because it was more permanent), it was always for two reasons. One was, of course, and the other was for selfish reasons. I wanted to be seen as attractive. It is foolish to say but it is true. I thought, since I could not change the fact I was disabled, perhaps I could change my weight. And I did. Although now I have dropped down and am still dropping but it has not done anything in the dating/flirting department. I try to be more available. More open. More flirty. But nothing seems to budge. I remember having crushes around the time before and after my surgery and thinking, “I wonder if I drop five more pounds, if he will suddenly change his mind about me.” Nope. Still single.

I mean, it is great to have a full-time job and all. Fantastic, even. However, I may be getting to a point where I would like a partner-in-crime. Someone to turn to and share my trials and tribulations or not at all. Sure, friends could do it too but it is different.

I feel so foolish when I share this part of myself because it seems that I am craving attention. I’m not. I really just wanted to show that, even as a disabled person, I struggle with weight and body perception. I wanted to share that I want a partner like everyone else and that society has put the image of beauty/attractiveness at such a high standard that I am down at the bottom. Who knows, if I stop thinking about it, maybe he will come along. But I am a typical young woman – how can I stop? Only time will tell I guess.

Do not worry, interwebs. I will keep you updated about my weight loss…or if I suddenly caught a guy, You will be there for all of it. Until then, I just needed to let out the stream of consciousness that whirls around my brain far too much.

Until next time, my bloggies!