Ridiculous – The Jess Grossman Story

Whenever I talk about my life as a whole – you know, the general biography of me – I usually describe it with one word:

Ridiculous

All of us, at one point, especially those who have dealt with Crohn’s, Colitis, Cancer, or whatever other hardships we’ve faced, we feel that our lives don’t make sense. The pain we’ve dealt with, the uncomfortable treatments we’ve been exposed to, and the changes we’ve experienced – looking back, it all seems so.. ridiculous.

For me, the ridiculous started when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 9 years old. Most of you already know my story, but for those who don’t, my disease got really bad when I was 11, and I was taken to the emergency room with a hemaglobin of 55 (for a normal kid my age at the time, it’s 120) because I was close to death. I couldn’t move or open my eyes, and I almost couldn’t breathe. Luckily, after 2 years of being in and out of the hospital, hovering just over the line of life and death, as the story goes, I made it out alive, thanks to ostomy surgery.

Now, you’d think for only having lived to the age of 13 that this would have been enough ridiculousness for anyone in a lifetime.

But of course, not for me.

Besides being a sufficiently awkward child from years of isolation in the hospital and being overweight from steroids, high school was pretty difficult. I was lucky enough to make it out with a few great friends, and somehow, a personality. 

Thanks to my newfound personality, I was hired by Abercrombie & Fitch - the most prejudice company in existence. Oh, except, I wasn’t hired because of my bubbly attitude, but because they thought I was Asian. They had a “minority quota” they needed to fill and they thought I was half. (For the record, I am not)

That’s where I met my first first boyfriend. Turns out this guy had been dating his girlfriend for a year, while he was dating me.

I obviously didn’t learn much about men, because after joining my sorority in my first year of university, I surrounded myself with a ton of assholes. One of which, kept trying to convince me to date him. I didn’t – and good thing too - because he was actually in a relationship with another girl. And, his ex-girlfriend (now a prominent woman in tech in Toronto, haaaa) and her sorority sisters would call me and harass me because I was hanging out with him.

Oh yeah, that girl he was actually dating? She was the stewardess on my empty flight from Vancouver to Toronto a few years later. Sufficiently awkward – especially when she asked me how I had been. We had never met in person. But she knew who I was.

Then my grandmother died. Which I guess isn’t too ridiculous, because she was older, and an avid smoker. Still sucked, though.

Anyway, I had gotten fed up with men, and decided the next best option was to date my best guy friend – who had been chasing me for 2 years. The beginning of our relationship was pretty much out of an 80′s movie (Read: Pretty in Pink, Andie and Duckie.) He did everything for me, from letting me cry on his shoulder because of other guys, to dragging me to the hospital when I had a cold. 

Just as we started dating, my dad died. From a rare blood disease. Yeah, a rare blood disease.

That, somehow, triggered my best friend turned boyfriend to turn into an absolute nutcase. He’d break up with me every 2 weeks because he “loved me too much” or because he “didn’t love me anymore,” then he would come to my window in the middle of the night and throw rocks at it to get my attention…just to cry on my shoulder and tell me he didn’t deserve me. When he wasn’t breaking up with me?  He was proposing to me. He did 3 times. 2 years of breaking up, getting back together, and angry drunken emails and texts later, I eventually dumped his ass and told him never to speak to me again when I found out he was talking to other girls.  Apparently, dating your best friend doesn’t really mean anything.

In the middle of those 2 years, I met another guy who, within the first few nights of knowing me, expressed his undying love. I was taken, so I couldn’t date him, but he was… well, let’s say, “on my hook.” Think, How I Met Your Mother:

Eventually, after I was done with my ex-boyfriend, we ended up dating, but only for 2 weeks. We stopped because a mutual friend of ours was extremely upset that we were, as she had always liked him. So we broke up. He was supposed to go to law school in Australia, anyway. However, a few months later, I ran into this guy at our mutual friend’s cottage. He expressed how he didn’t want to go to law school so he could be with me. And that was that.

We dated for an amazing few months before I moved to Manhattan for school. We stayed together long-distance and, somehow, made it through.

Surprise! While I was in Manhattan, I had to have 3 minor surgeries, you know, because of course my body needed to fail while in a country without universal healthcare.

I eventually made it back to Canada to move in with this boyfriend. It made sense at the time. Turns out, this boyfriend was not who I expected. In fact, he was a totally and completely different person (Read: an angry narcissist who treated me worse than the dirt under his feet.) I broke up with him 4 months later. 

To take my mind off of that whole situation, and to give me something else to do while living with my mother again, I started working on a startup business with a developer who was brilliantly talented. Unfortunately, after devoting all of my waking hours to the business, I found out that he was absolutely insane. He thought that me – a woman – was only meant to take his orders, be his puppet, and work as his servant. We had to end the working relationship and he wasn’t too happy about it… which, was clearly stated in the 2 weeks of  threatening and absolutely psychotic emails he sent that called me names and said that “the devil was going to get me.”

Eventually, life started to even itself out as I made my way to Jamaica for one of my best friends’ weddings, this past February.

And that’s where I met Jake Gyllenhaal.  

Kidding.

The lookalike’s name was Matt, and he was in the airport sitting a few rows down from my friends and I, while we all waited for our flight.

[Sidenote: I do this thing where I see if there are any interesting looking guys and see if they could possibly entertain me for the week of vacation. I wasn't sure if he was going to be staying at the same resort, but in the meantime, he was pretty to look at.]

Luckily, he was staying at the same resort. It turns out, as I learned when he approached me the first night there, that he was from London, ON (where I used to go to university, and where my brother and cousins still did.) Apparently, he also used to live with the older brother of a guy I went to high school with. I had a great time with him and his friends that week and was a little sad when the week came to a close. After all, what happens on vacation, stays on vacation, right?

Apparently, not. While we collected our luggage in the airport back in Canada, Matt asked for my number. Coincidentally, I had already planned to be in London that very weekend, to see my brother and cousins. And I thought he should know.

So I visited him that weekend.

And then I visited him again, shortly after.

And then he visited me.

And somehow, we ended up meeting up every weekend for 3 months. And it was wonderful.

But I knew, having done the long-distance thing before, it wasn’t something I wanted to do for very much longer. No matter how amazing Matt was – and amazing he really, really was.

But this was….Ridiculous. 

So one weekend, we’re at my friend’s cottage and he gets a call from an old roommate-friend of his.

He had bought a house. In Toronto. 2 blocks from me.

And he needed another roommate. 

Very long story, short…

This weekend, Matt moves to Toronto. 

—-

While most of what I call the “ridiculous” parts of my life have often made me sad, upset, lonely, and angry… this, by far, is making up for all of it.

The reason I went on this long-winded rant is to clearly illustrate that no matter how hopeless, how awful, how inconceivably ridiculous your life seems, it is important to remember that ridiculous has two sides. The really bad, and the really good.

You could be sitting in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if you are going to make it through the next day. You could be looking at your changed body in the mirror, wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again. Or you could be thinking of people past and wondering how they ever treated you in that way. I know I did.

But I also now know that you just have to make it through one side to get to the other.

—-

Oh, yeah, that award I was supposed to Skype in to accept in NYC this past weekend? It would so happen that the internet went out in the North East at the same time I was supposed to do it. 

Ridiculous.

I was not only sad that I couldn’t make it into the city to accept in person, but I was even more upset that I could barely be a part of the event because of the failure of technology.

Until I looked over at Matt, who made a stupid joke, just to make me smile.

And suddenly, all that seemed ridiculous to me, didn’t seem so ridiculous anymore.

Jess & Matt

February 15th – The Most Glorious Day of the Year

So apparently, February 15th is Singles Appreciation Day - a day where people can rejoice in the fact that they are happy being alone. Or at least, pretend to be. (Note that the acronym for this special day is S.A.D.) 

I purposely didn’t write a blog post yesterday for Valentine’s day because I’m single and I didn’t  have much to write about other than how I’m single..and that seemed too cliché. However, since today is S.A.D, it’s way way less so.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to complain about being single on Valentine’s day because being single on Valentine’s day this year was actually much better for me than it’s ever been actually being in a relationship for it.

2 years ago, the guy I was seeing at the time told me he didn’t want to spend any of the day with me, then showed up at my house with a cute teddy bear… and then left. Oh, but he did come back at, uh, midnight.

Cool bro.

1 year ago, I was pleasantly surprised to have received a lovely Tiffany necklace in the mail from my long distance boyfriend. However being in a long distance relationship, apparently, meant that I wasn’t allowed to do anything but stay home by myself for the night. I ended up buying more food than anyone could possibly consume in a week and ate it all while watching The Notebook for the first time.

Oh, and the guy took the necklace back when I broke up with him.

Surprisingly, as a single girl, this Valentine’s Day was the best Valentine’s Day I have had… ever.

Don’t get me wrong – I was still dressed head to toe in all black in obvious protest of the day and I still scoffed at the ridiculous Facebook picture posts of pictures and candy and chocolate from all the girls on my friends list – as the single girl, it felt necessary. Along with my decision to wear all black, I had also decided I was going to post-up in the local Starbucks to spend the night working late to keep myself busy and not sit at home and end up in another food coma in front of a ridiculous RomCom.

To my surprise, as I was wrapping up my work in the office to begin my relocation, I got a message from an old acquaintance on Facebook. He suggested that since everyone else was doing sometimes for Valentine’s Day that we should to.

So we went out for dinner. And it was lovely.

The reason why this post isn’t “woe is me because I’m single” (as most of my friends, I’m sure, would assume I’d write) is because I’m not down on myself for being single. In fact, I’m actually quite content being single.

These past few months I’ve had a great time going out, meeting new people, and dating around.

Ok, scratch that – I’ve been having a great time going out and meeting new people. Let me put it on record that I HATE. HATE. HATE. the act of dating and I’ve realized that more and more over the past few months of doing it.

I hate the superficial flirty date talk, I hate the not knowing about when to text/call the other person, and I hate the mind games that are associated. No, I don’t like it when you make a sarcastic flirty stab at me. No, you don’t need to not respond to my text message for 2 hours because you’re afraid of looking too eager. No, I don’t need you to act mysterious to keep me interested.

Tell me about who you are, why you are that way, and what you want to be in the future.  Respond to the question I JUST texted you in a reasonable manner because I’m obviously trying to have a conversation. And if you like me, be with me. If you don’t, don’t.

Is that too much to ask?

I’ve been wondering if I should just opt-in to that whole arranged marriage thing.

Well, not seriously. I think brides get traded for goats or something and I think I’m worth more than a goat.

And why does the guy get the goat? Why can’t I get the goat?

Ok, I digress.

The reason February 15th is the most wonderful time of the year is because the emphasis on the need to be in a relationship is gone. I don’t feel the need to be in one and I’m glad the day has passed. I’m happy with the way things are and I don’t need my entire world telling me relationships are the be all and end all to happiness.

Does that mean I don’t want to be in one? No, it does not.

What it means is that it’s going to take someone really special who can completely sweep me off my feet to convince me to be in one.

Or a goat.

Happy February 15th everyone- enjoy the half-priced chocolate.

Jekyll & Hyde

I’m finding out more and more each day that I am a very bad judge of character.

I have always been one to look for the good in people and assume it is those traits that shape their character. Unfortunately, what I’m realizing now is that I miss, or more accurately, choose to ignore the negative signs these people give; the signs that scream a person really doesn’t care about me in the slightest and that I’m wasting my time caring about them. It’s happened with quite a few people I’ve considered friends and it’s, once again, happened to me with someone I loved.

Yeah, I loved someone more than anything in the world and it was that love that helped him trick me into thinking he was the person I was meant to be with.

As many of you know, I was dating and had moved in with a guy that I loved. This was a guy that I could literally picture every moment of the rest of my life with because he was the person that was perfect for me in every way that could possibly be. It just turns out that he was very good at listening to what I wanted in a partner, and pretending to be those things. Eventually, the smoke and mirrors disappeared.

…I’m probably going to regret writing this but the only way I know how to heal is to write. So, I’ve written.

When I started dating my ex, I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life; and I’m not just saying that. I had friend after friend tell me they could see the happiness in my eyes. Someone even said they could see that I was glowing.

I felt like I was glowing.

He was perfect for me. Perfect in the sense that we had a million things in common; we had similar interests to talk about, we loved doing the same type of activities together, and we just had so much fun. Everything clicked right into place. The relationship was so unbelievable that we both agreed it was worth it to work hard to maintain it long distance because we couldn’t be without the other. So we worked. Well, he did. He did so much of the work. He did amazing things like pick me up from the airport with flowers or bring flowers to my mom for the holidays. He would often take me out for nice dinners or  fun movie dates. He sent me a Valentines gift in the mail while I was in New York. He would come to family events with me and he would invite me to go to his and brought me along on his family vacation. He even once bought my mom a toaster oven because he noticed hers was old. He just did nice things for me and for those I cared about. When we weren’t in person, we spoke every day all day, from the moment we woke up the moment we fell asleep about things that interested us and how we missed one another. He was able to make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world every day just in the way he spoke to me. When he asked me to move in with him, I knew it was right because this man was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

It was the day we moved in together that the man I knew disappeared.

Somehow, I ended up moving in with someone I had never met before, and frankly, someone I detested. This man, from the day we walked through our front door, was someone else. This man yelled at me, called me names (some pretty horrible ones too), ignored me as a person, and acted as if I owed him everything in the world and that all of my effort was worthless.  This man decided that he didn’t have to be involved in my life in anyway, which he showed by refusing every dinner invitation that my family extended him, did not want to meet some very important friends of mine (ostomy friends, for some) and refused to accompany me at either of the two charity events I was volunteering with (charity is clearly a huge part of who I am.) He didn’t want anything to do with me unless it involved watching movies or going to bed.

At first, I chalked it up to stress because he was writing a really important certification exam. I let it all slide because I knew how important it was to him. I worked at being the best girlfriend I could be by making him food, doing his laundry, and lending my support through constant encouragement. I cared so much about this exam for him that I was literally shaking as I picked him up from the exam center. I wanted him to succeed.

Despite the exam being over, things didn’t get better.

Again, I chalked it all up to stress because he now had to wait for the results of this exam, which is usually just as stressful as writing it. I continued to be there for him, taking care of him, and even turning into this ridiculous housewife who made lunches for him before he went to work. I had no idea who I had become but I liked it. I liked doing little things to show him I cared. I took our one-year anniversary to really prove it and went all out. The present was full of individual gifts that represented something important in our relationship thus far, which I topped off with a jar of 100 separate pieces of paper, each with handwritten reason of why I loved him. 100 of them. I thought maybe, just maybe each individual reason would remind him of how happy we were together. I hoped it would be the start to making things better. Maybe it made it better for him. I don’t really know. All I know is that he didn’t do anything for me for our one year anniversary. I blogged about how happy I was to be with him, and I still was! …but I was pretty upset about the fact that he didn’t do anything for me. Not even a card. I had opened up to him before about how important cards are to me because they contain feelings that can be saved and reread over and over. But he didn’t even do that for me… I decided, however, to just brush this off as well.

A few days after our anniversary, my ex was scheduled to get his wisdom teeth out. Instead of going back to his parents house to have his mother take care of him, he stayed in our apartment so that I could. I was actually thrilled to take care of him because taking care of people I love is something I pride myself on and I was so happy that he trusted me to be his caregiver. However, as it turned out, he actually didn’t trust me at all. He yelled at me much like he had been doing for the weeks prior, however this time it was because I, apparently, had no idea what I was doing in terms of his care. I reassured him that I had been through this myself and that the oral surgeon had given me detailed instructions, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I went to speak to another dentist who confirmed everything that I had been saying, that I was trusted to take care of him. All the jello, soup, pudding, and being handed an antibiotic pill every 8 and 12 hours wasn’t enough to prove I could take care of him, nor prove that I was doing enough for him.

I guess I was blinded by love.. or whatever, but I just kept telling myself that this was all just because it was a big life change for both of us that we had to get used to. Well, I thought the whole yelling, calling me names,  not being involved in my life, and not appreciating me thing was just a phase until it became very apparent that he was not acting like my boyfriend in the simplest of ways; for support.

As you all know from the blog post I had written, my 16 year old friend Alison passed away. On the day she passed, I came home to our apartment in the evening after a full day of Uncover Ostomy work and had not had a second to actually think about the event that had just unfolded. I was still numb. That night, my ex and I were supposed to go out with a friend of his and I had agreed to go because it was a good distraction. An hour before we were supposed to go, however, the plan then changed to us going up to his cottage, to which I agreed because it would be a better distraction. My ex then went to take a nap. As he was napping, I quickly realized that with his entire family there and his friend coming up to hang out with him,  that I wouldn’t be able to properly grieve. I’m not the type of person to be upset in public, and I certainly did not want to be a Debbie Downer around his family, so I decided it was not a good idea for me to go. I honestly just wanted a quiet weekend to reflect on the situation and to have my boyfriend by my side.

It was as he awoke after letting me relax in the quite of our apartment that the whole situation hit me and I began to bawl. I couldn’t stop it. It was the first time that I had stopped moving all day and the gravity of the situation washed over my body. Alison and I had literally been texting the day before it happened and I began to feel such guilt and shame for not being there for her.  There was no way I could go up to a cottage with a whole crowd of people. As I was bawling, however, my ex continued to make plans with his friend to go to the cottage without me. And within 20 minutes, he left. He left me alone in our apartment for 2 days. He didn’t even call or text me to see how I was doing the day after he left. The next day, I had friends offering to hang out with me, but I chose to spend time with my mom. I also received an email of support from his mom. I felt so loved, just not from the person I needed it from most.

I deserved more and this was when I realized it.

The story continues with my ex continuing to act as if we are just roommates who happened to share a bed. It looked like nothing was going to change. I even opened up to him a few times about it and said that I wished he could be there for me more. His responses? “You’re not my wife, I don’t have to care about you” and “I moved in with you, what more do you want?”

I didn’t want to give up on the relationship because I kept hoping that the man I fell in love with was somewhere inside just waiting to come out. I love this man more than anything in the world. He was sweet, kind, caring, and fun. For some reason, my ex was still yelling at me and ignoring me as his girlfriend. I was drained. No matter what I did for him, nothing made a difference. I felt lost.

By this time,  my thesis due date was coming up quickly. I knew I had to focus on it first, and that once it was done, we could both put our full focus on the relationship. To my luck, my ex decided to drunkenly break up with me the weekend before it was due. I decided to stay at my mother’s house that week to finish it. I couldn’t let him or this relationship stand in my way of the degree I was working so hard for….The degree I was actually working to finish in one calendar year instead of two school years so that I could come back to Toronto and be with him sooner. Yeah, that degree.

Once it was handed in and I was officially done school, it was time to figure out what was going on in this relationship that I hadn’t signed up for. Where was this amazing guy I had grown to love?

We talked it out and my ex assured me he knew exactly what he was doing wrong and would work to fix it. If I can give him any credit at all, he did stop yelling at me and calling me names and I sincerely appreciated it. Unfortunately, he continued to treat me like a roommate and still refused to be a part of my life, and  ignored my feelings. He was actually quite a hypocrite about it. I wont go into anymore details, but in one night, he had successfully done two things that he had, a few weeks earlier yelled at me for doing.

It was that night, while he was out for his birthday with his friends, that I left.

I finally had it. I knew I deserved more and he wasn’t going to give it to me. I had no choice. I couldn’t live with him any longer. I broke it off.

[...Ok, so it may have been mean of me to leave him on the night of his birthday. I still bought him a very nice present...]

Per my usual fashion, though, we talked a lot after I called it quits. I’m a sucker for love, and something inside of me kept telling me that amazing guy I fell in love with was still there somewhere. I was hopeful because I really wanted to do anything to have that guy back. Unfortunately, even after asking, my ex failed to show me that great side of him. Instead, I was told I didn’t put any effort into our relationship, that I’m a mean and selfish person, and he didn’t even get me birthday card… knowing how important they are to me. I’ve sadly realized the amazing person I loved wasn’t come back.

Actually, I realized he never existed.

I feel tricked.

I hate it.

I don’t know if I’ve done this story justice because I know I’ve left out a lot of details. Details of things he did, and well, yes, some of the things he’s told me I did. According to him I was stubborn with a number of things and. honestly, I won’t argue that. I insisted that some things had to be way my because they made sense and he sometimes didn’t agree. I also could have been more open about my feelings early on, I was told. I’m sure there was more that I did wrong. What I do know, though, is that none of my faults were an excuse for him to treat me the way he did.

I was once sitting with my dad and a friend of his who was talking about his young daughter. My dad’s friend said he was concerned that his daughter would grow up to date terrible guys and that he wouldn’t be able to help her. My dad told his friend that if he raised his daughter right, there was no reason to worry. He continued to tell his friend that he didn’t worry about me, because he knew that I had self-respect and self-worth and that I would never let someone to treat me poorly. I didn’t know my dad thought of me that way at the time, but I will always strive to live up to those words. I think in this situation, I did.

No matter how much I loved the guy I fell in love with, I couldn’t stay.

A lot of people told me that he and I were moving in together too soon and that I should be sure I was doing the right thing. I told them that I was sure and I wasn’t worried. Do I now regret moving in with him?  Am I embarrassed about it? Absolutely not.  I’m glad that I could see the real person that he is before I was tricked into loving him anymore. If that’s even possible.

Besides, I didn’t move in with the guy I loved. I moved in with a stranger.

I’ve come to find that the most awful feeling in the world is caring about someone more than caring about yourself and realizing that the feelings aren’t returned.

I’ve felt that feeling a lot.

I’ll never forget the guy that made me the happiest I have ever been. Fairy tales are easy to remember.

365 Days Later…

…and I am still completely in love with my boyfriend. (And he’s in love with me too!)

Yesterday, Rob and I celebrated our one year anniversary- something I could never have imagined happening!

I am not saying that I couldn’t have imagined it because we aren’t compatible (because we totally are), but simply because we had to deal with a lot this past year. We only dated for 2 months before I moved to NYC, where we began 8 months of a long distance relationship. It was extremely hard to maintain our feelings for each other through hour long phone calls, Skype sessions, and short visits home, but somehow we made it.

I am honestly so happy to have him in my life. He makes me feel so special, so loved, and so safe. He makes me laugh, he listens to me, and he takes care of me when I’m sick. We can play video games together, stuff our faces with all-you-can-eat sushi, or simply sit around all day and do nothing together. I enjoy every minute I spend with him- even a year later.

Even more honestly- I’ve never even been in a relationship for an entire year. I didn’t know anyone could stand me for that long!

Apparently, he can.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.

 

Do You Stick Your Finger Up It?

On the day I came back to my grade 8 class, post surgery, I stood in front of my peers and explained what an ostomy was. I was met with wide eyes from my classmates who were trying very hard to understand what I had gone through. Many had questions, most of which were common and easy to answer. The most uncommon question, which I was asked on that very day by a fellow classmate, and which remains to be my favorite question of all-time to this day, was the question of whether or not I had stuck my finger up the “hole” (known as the stoma- the end of  the intestine, folded over like a sock and sewn to my skin with an opening). I quickly replied to her question with a question of my own, asking her if she had ever stuck her own finger up her butt.

Since I can remember, I have seen my stoma as kind of like my surrogate behind. I have always been totally comfortable showing off my bag, (as you all know), but when it came to showing off my stoma, I have always felt very weird and vulnerable- almost naked. To me, it was like accidentally leaning over and showing off my underwear versus pulling down my pants to moon someone. Are the two comparable? I don’t really know, but that is just how I’ve always felt. I never wanted to show it to anyone.

It was not until I began unpacking my ostomy stupplies in our new apartment that I realized it was important that I actually show my boyfriend how my ostomy worked; that meant showing him my stoma. Giving an explanation is one thing, but as that grade 8 classmate had proven, context is often very very necessary. Understanding the importance, but still being extremely nervous to do so, I convinced myself that since we were living together, my boyfriend had to see it my stoma, simply for my own safety. What if something happened to me in our apartment? What if he needed to save my life? How could he save my life if he wasn’t fully aware of how my abnormal body functioned?

It made sense at the time.

So, after rationalizing the decision and mustering up some courage, I showed it to him.

A giggle, a long pause, and a thoughtful smile later, it was over.

And he still loved me.

Now, not only can I rest easy knowing that my boyfriend loves me no matter what, I can also be comforted in the fact that, in case of an emergency, my boyfriend now fully understands my abnormalities and can totally save my life if need be. Does he actually know any life saving techniques? I actually don’t know.

Does it matter?

No it does not.

————–

PS; I have never stuck my finger up there.

Time Capsule

I tweeted a little while ago that I had been invited to participate in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month’s Challenge. I was a little shocked that I had been found, let alone invited to participate, especially since as I actually made my profile for the challenge, they didn’t have an option for “ostomy” in their drop down selection of  topic for my blog. Nevertheless, I thought I should sign up and see what this thing is all about.

From what I’ve gathered, the challenge is to write a blog based on a specific topic they give you, everyday. Will I be able to write a blog post everyday? Considering that it’s crunch time for my last full semester to get my M.A at NYU, probably not. Will I try? Hell, yeah. Nothing like a challenge to pump the adrenaline.

So over the next month, I’ll be trying to keep up with their blog topics. I will be challenged to actually write about what theyve asked me to write about, as opposed to writing about my life- which is just sooo much easier.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Here is the blog topic I was given for today:

Every life has a story. But often the most well-preserved stories are those accompanied by physical objects and visuals. In this year’s kick-off to HAWMC, create a time capsule of your stories, your life. Will your time capsule be a physical box or a collection of writing or visuals compiled in a digital format? Where would you hide your time capsule? What is inside your capsule (memorable objects, photos, advice), and what stories do the contents tell? Who do you hope will one day find your stories and what do you image they will think? Will your stories ever be on display or will they have a different purpose?

I’ve never made a time capsule before (or I have and have forgotten about it…) so this was an interesting thought for me to think. What matters most to me? What are the most influential moments of my life?

At first, I assumed that this question was asking me about my life in terms of my disease and what I would put away to remember that time. I immediately thought that my box would actually be made out of an empty TPN IV bag, as it was the symbol of my entire time struggling with Crohn’s disease in and out of the hospital. I had been in and out for 2 years, with most of those years being hooked up to an IV pole of TPN because I wasn’t allowed to eat. At one point, I even had this pole at home and had to hook and unhook myself from it (with the help of my parents) every night. I then thought I would include things like a Push Pop, one of the lollipops that were kept in a plastic tube that you had to push up. They were delicious, especially as they were one of the few things I could “eat” while I was sick. I thought I would also include a mini ostomy bag, of course, signifying surgery. I also thought I would include a picture of 6A, the floor at Sick Kids hospital that I resided in. And lastly, I thought I would include one of the hospital bracelets I have somewhere saved in my room, which I supposed I have saved for this reason.

After thinking about my time capsule and beginning to write it out, I realized that this blog topic wasn’t asking about the story of my illness, but it was asking about the story of my life. As most of you know from this blog, my sickness, nor my ostomy, are in any way my life, but are simply small elements of it.

I realized there is so much more I would put in my time capsule. In fact, I would even change the physical element of my time capsule. I quickly changed my mind from the IV bag to a small metal safe- both for resistance to the elements, and so that I could lock it  (logical, right?). I thought I’d bury it in the backyard of my childhood home so that I could find it sometime when I’m old. It wouldn’t be on display- it would just be for me. I’ve got my blog as my display.

As for contents, I knew I would put all of those things I had mentioned above, signifying my struggle with Crohn’s. However small part of my life it was, it was extremely influential to the person I am today. And yet, there is so much more that makes me who I am; so many people, places, and experiences.

Thinking back to these memories, I began to envision what I would include. I started thinking about including a pair of dancing shoes, from all the years of dance I enjoyed. I thought I’d also include a yearbook from my grade 8 class, as it was the last piece of my elementary school education and it took up 12 years of my life. I thought I’d include a pictures from all of the school plays I participated in, in high school, as well as cd’s with recordings of the songs I had sung in vocal class and choir. Obviously I knew that I had to include pictures of my friends and I from high school as well, especially since they some of the most important people in my life, who I fact, still keep in close contact with.

University is the most recent but most memorable time of my life, so I knew there was much to include from then. I thought I’d include pictures from my experience in university residence, my apron from working at the campus restaurant, and an essay I had written for one of my last classes. I’d include pictures of my friends and having ridiculous amounts of fun for no apparent reason either at the bar, or at a friends pool. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from our study sessions. which were when we really bonded, but I may have some study notes I’d include in there as well as a reminder.

My sorority was also a big part of my life, so I knew I’d have to include my bid card (invitation to join), as well as the composite picture where I am president. I would also include pictures of some of the greatest memories of my time there, such as pictures of parties, sisterhood events, and philanthropic events like the bone marrow drive we ran in memory of my dad.

I would of course, include things I had from my dad, such as his cologne that I keep on my dresser at home to remind me of him. I would also put one of the favorite pictures I have of him and I, where he’s holding me at less than 1 years old. I would also include a couple of random toys that my brother and I used to play with as children such as lego and playmobile. And I would include the hotel room key from the time my Mom and I went to Vegas, back in 2010. I would include the birthday card that my boyfriend gave me and a picture from one of our happiest moments. I would also  include a couple of old pieces of jewelry  from my deceased grandmother, and recent pictures of me and my living grandparents.

I would include maps and ticket stubs from my backpacking trip to Europe. I also thought I would my student card from NYU and an I <3 NY tshirt to signify my time living in the city…

..Maybe even my beloved stuffed animal Mr. Wrinkles who I’ve had since I was 1…

As I went on and on thinking about all the things I would put in my time capsule, I realized that there are so many memories from so many people in so many places that I want to remember. I don’t think there is any way I could actually put enough away to remember it all.

One thing I have learned in my short, 22 years of life is that the moment is really all you have. While memories are great things to think about, that’s all you can do with them. What matters is enjoying the moments with the people you love before they become memories, because once you have the memories, the only place they can go is in a time capsule.

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What would you put in your time capsule?

I Have A New Appreciation For Mail

If I remember correctly, I think I have sent a total of 5 letters in the mail over the past 5 years.

I mean, barring letters to friends at summer camp, I have not really sent any physical mail in quite some time. I basically do everything through the internet, online banking, or email. I don’t even think I own any envelopes. I know I definitely do not own any stamps.

The internet has just made life so wonderfully convenient, and I bet most of you would agree.

Yet- mail still exists.

Tonight, (well, when I started writing this it was tonight- the 13th- so go with it) while I was on my way to class, I checked the mail as I do every day in case of a bill. After I check for any bills, I always check the package delivery list that my building puts on the bulletin board that lists those who have received a package. I checked the package list today because, this weekend, I had ordered some clothes and shoes online and was already anxious to get them. I knew it would be ridiculous for me to assume my clothing had arrived already, but I decided to check anyways.

Sure enough, my name was on the list.

“My new shoes/shirts/dresses came already? Today is definitely my day.”

As you know, I had a procedure done this past Friday and the recovery/medication I’ve been on has kind of put me in a gross/pathetic mood. Hence the need for online shopping. I needed some retail therapy but was definitely not up to having a shopping adventure around NYC. Thank you, internet.

Unfortunately, no matter how amazing the invention of online shopping is, online does not account for everything.

Like delivering packages.

So, I excitedly knocked on the door of the building office to get my package and was greeted by one of the building employees. I asked for my package and he left to retrieve it.

He then came back to me with these teeny little package.

“That’s weird-I didn’t think it would be so small.”

“Good things come in small packages, Miss Grossman” he said.

Cliché, but cute.

Maybe the company I had ordered from this weekend sent me a notice to say the items I had ordered were on backorder?

Puzzled, I put the package in my bag and walked to class; I thought I was running a little late.

I arrived to my class with time to spare as a guest lecturer was in the midst of setting up his presentation equipment. I figured I’d open the package.

I reached into my giant purse, grabbed two ends of the package, and tore a corner of it open while still inside my bag.

I didn’t want to make a scene.

I ripped it a little bit more.

And then. I saw.

White satin.

A ribbon.

Tiffany blue.

A scene was had.

 

There really are some things that the internet just can’t do.

 

Like send secret surprise Valentine’s Day Presents.

 

Sure enough, my amazing boyfriend had sent me a necklace from Tiffany’s for Valentine’s day. I just had to whip it out onto my desk to take a good look. This is the wonderful surprise I had received.

Being here in NYC while my boyfriend is in Toronto had left forced us apart for this holiday. I have a flight booked to see him this weekend, so we had decided to do Valentine’s day on my return.

He decided to go a step further and send me this so I received it right on time.

This is by far the sweetest surprise I have ever gotten in the mail. Or ever.

[Good thing I planned a surprise for him tomorrow... (I can't say it- but he's getting one to :) ]

Anyways, after opening the package and seeing its contents, I was left with an obnoxiously large smile plastered on my face. I sat through my entire class like this, front row, staring at the lecturer. I can almost guarantee that he either thought I was crazy or flirting with him.

I was just over the moon.

I still am.

Hello moon- I am over you.

I love surprises.

And I love mail.

As I finish writing this post, it is now February 14th. The day to celebrate love. Whether you are celebrating with a partner, or a single who is celebrating it with those who you hold dear-enjoy it.

Or, if you’re like I used to be, use it as an excuse to eat your weight in chocolate and watch sappy movies.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Or as my wonderful boyfriend so eloquently put it:

Have You Noticed the Increase in Weight Loss Commercials Recently?

Welcome to the New Year and to that gnawing feeling at the bottom of your stomach that you don’t think you’ll be able to keep your New Year’s Resolution.

The amount of weight loss commercials has increased on television recently in order to recruit individuals hoping to keep their New Year’s Resolution of losing weight. Pretty clever, huh?

(Also, did you know that fast food and restaurant commercials are more frequent late afternoon, right before dinner time? I learned this when I was put on bowel rest for the first time when I was 11 and wasn’t allowed to eat for 7 days. I paid very, very close attention to those commercials..)

But I digress!

I bring up New Year’s resolutions because I have been thinking about mine. Yes, it has already been over a week since the New Year began, but I needed some time to think.

After much soul-searching, deep thought, and sleeping on it- I have come up with 3 resolutions for the new year:

1 I will graduate NYU by the end of the summer and find a coveted job.

2. I will stay as happy as I was when the New Year began.

3. I will devote much more time and energy to the success of Uncover Ostomy.

My first resolution is not too much of a stretch. For those who do not know, I have already planned out the courses I will be taking in my graduate program so that I will finish the 2 year program at NYU in one calendar year. Assuming I do not fail any of my classes, (which I’ve never done before), this will be done. I knew this resolution was too simple, so I decided to add the second part of the resolution about landing a (super awesome) job. I am hoping that by graduating out of this program, I will be able to find myself a job that I actually enjoy and that will pay the bills (a girl can dream, right?) It was this time last year I was determining my future for the coming year, so it is only fitting that, now, I begin to think about the next year to come.

My second resolution may seem silly to many, but to those who know me, it is definitely not. Since my father passed away over 2 years ago, my life had sort of revolved around a cloud of unhappiness. I wasn’t overly unhappy, but I definitely wasn’t as happy as I could have been. I was, I would describe as- overwhelmingly pessimistic with a hint of sarcasm. I was suffering a loss, I was stressed with school, and people in my life were not making it easier. It is not surprising that I was unhappy, I suppose.

Slowly, over the past couple of months, that underlying unhappiness that was within every snide remark or negative comment I made has disappeared. Some have even told me that they can see the happiness exuding from my skin or from the words I type over facebook chat. You may even say that I am a pleasure to be around now (maybe.)

Much of this happiness has been attributed to the fact that stresses from school have lessened dramatically. I am learning practical and interesting things that do not require me to write 5, 15 page long essays per semester on the same, yet not the same topic. (I cannot even tell you how many different ways I wrote essays on the media’s power to disseminate messages to the masses. See the parallel with my opening statement now?) I am really enjoying my studying, making it much easier to handle.

My happiness also stems from the people around me. My family, for one, has grown stronger and happier since the sad loss of my father. While lost family members are never forgotten, they become easier to handle as time goes by. The holidays are always a hard time to deal with the loss of important people, but this year it was more of a year to celebrate memories, then morn a loss.  It was wonderful seeing my family so happy this holiday season. It brought out a happiness in myself.

The majority of my happiness, as a lot of people have pointed out that they have noticed, can be accredited to my boyfriend. Though I don’t get to see him very often, knowing that he is in my life has made me wonderfully content. During the holiday’s, I was able to spend a full 2.5 weeks with him, maximizing the time we had together. While I was in Toronto, he accompanied me to holiday dinners with my family, we spent the rest of the holiday’s together at his place in Florida with his family, and then we rang in the new year together in NYC. My New Year’s Resolution is to maintain this content feeling- this happiness- that I have gotten from him for the entire year.  As long as he remains in my life, it won’t be hard.

My third resolution is focused on this campaign. Since its launch, Uncover Ostomy has only been growing larger and stronger; successfully spreading ostomy awareness. While we’ve been doing great things together over the past little while, there is so much more I want to do.

We all know that the vast majority of the UO audience are those who have ostomies themselves.  While I am ecstatic to have so many devoted participants in this campaign, it is only half the battle. As you know, UO is a two tiered endeavor: to spread acceptance of the ostomy to those with them, and to teach those without them what they are. So far, the second tier is lagging behind.

Over the past few months, I’ve come up with ideas that I really believe could break Uncover Ostomy into the public realm. The fact that I live in NYC has given me a geographical advantage to reach a wider audience than before and I believe that what I have in mind can do that. While my location may be ideal, and my ideas pretty freakin awesome, my ability to make use of them is not quite as easy as I had hoped. I have two main obstacles stopping me: time and resources. While I worked to get over these obstacles by setting aside time to find resources, I plan to work even harder at it in the new year. Unfortunately, my endeavors so far have come up pretty unsuccessful. I have gotten many hollow promises of help, if not complete rejections. Hopefully, more by devoting more time to this search, I will come up with something.  I have great ideas for us, but it’s hard to get anything done when you do not have the money to do it.

I think the three diverse resolutions I have given myself for the 2012 year will be good for my mind, my heart, and my soul. I am going to work hard to enhance my skills and build my career; I am going to maintain the happiness that exists in my life from the people who I am surrounded by; and I am going to work even harder to find ways to spread awareness for our great cause.

As I conclude this post, I hope that my resolutions have given you some inspiration for your own. I hope for you, in the 2012 year, that you will work hard to advanced yourself in any way you can, whether it be through more school, finally quitting your job and finding one you really love, or taking up that hobby you have been dreaming of doing for a while. I hope that you will find, if not maintain a happiness that makes you wake up every morning with a smile on your face, happy to have special people in your life. I also hope for you, in the 2012 year, that you will help Uncover Ostomy continue to spread awareness. We have accomplished so much, but still have so much more to do.

Friends, let go of that gnawing feeling because, this year, you will keep your New Year’s Resolution.

Happy 2012 <3

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(Sidenote: This post started out on the topic of weight loss commercials because I was eating pickles, and noticed the pickle jar said that 1.5 pickles were 0 calories and then I thought, if I ate only pickles for an entire week, I could essentially not ingest any calories and then a weight loss commercial came on and then I remembered I needed to blog. Whoops.)

 

7 Days, 4 Classes, 2 Projects, 2 Exams Later…

…And I’ve finished my first semester at New Y0rk University.

You may be thinking, “Wait, she’s done already? There were no posts full of endless whining, no incoherent posts due to essay writing fatigue, and there were no posts at 3am with late night ramblings ..What?”

I am shocked myself.

This past week has been the most overwhelming, yet most calm exam period of my educational career. Despite the complexity of the projects and the material I was to study, I found it a surprisingly palatable week. The projects were actually kind of fun, despite the stress of getting all the work done on time, and the exams were not that fear inducing.  Perhaps this was all because I actually enjoyed what I had learned over the past few months.

On Tuesday, I had a group project due, for my Social Media Management class, that required us to create a social media strategy for a company in need. Considering I am a social media strategist, (oh yeah, if you didn’t know that about me, I am), the project was a way for me to practice my profession.

On Thursday, I had an individual project due, for my Building a Brand class, that required me to rebrand a brand identity that was in need. Now I am not a designer, but I have found myself to have an back for branding. At least from this project I have. I spent 3 weeks putting together an entire brand redesign from the research to the brand brief, to the actual images, to its specifications (including math!), to create a final product. I had never done this before but it was great experience. (And I think I did well!)

Friday was much more stressful than those of the previous days- It was my Managerial Finance exam! I had studied as much as I could while completing the other two projects and felt quite comfortable in my knowledge. I was comfortable, that is, until I saw how much math was on the exam. I do know I passed so there’s no stress there.

Today I had my last exam in Management. I had studied all weekend, with the exam being worth a whopping 85%, but I wasn’t nervous. I had paid attention and participated in every class and had quite enjoyed the material I was learning. Though I didn’t know a few things on the exam, I still know I did well.

The main reason this exam week was so stress free was because I actually enjoyed everything I was creating, compiling, learning, and studying. This stuff is real, useful, and pretty fun. I mean, the class titles even sound enjoyable. (Well, to me at least…)

I’m not knocking my undergraduate education, but I have to say, I am finally learning the things I want to learn and the things that will prepare me for my future career.

I have just finished packing my suitcase for winter break; something I am greatly looking forward to. This year, however, I am not looking forward to it as a stress reliever, but am simply looking forward to seeing friends, family, and my boyfriend. I will only have 4 days in Toronto, as I am heading to Naples, Florida with the boyfriend and his family. After only a few days there, however, we will be heading back to NYC so I can-yes- start school again.

Yup. I am taking a course over the “winter semester.” 3 intensive weeks of one class for 3 credits staring Jan 3rd. Then I start again on January 23rd.

Why, you might ask?

While I greatly enjoy learning what I am in this program at NYU, I have also learned- maybe from the program itself- that I am ready to join the workforce. After careful planning and consideration, I have decided to  do this 2 year program in one calendar year. It will take a lot of time, dedication, and studying, but I am ready to put these skills to work.

And make some money.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the holiday season with the ones I love.

Happy holidays everyone!

Also, we have surpassed 3,500 people on the Facebook Fanpage! So exciting! Remember to keep inviting your friends!

You Know You’re a Crohn’s/Ostomy Patient When..

…you check yes to 12/30 health issues on a clinic history form..

I tweeted this last Saturday while I waited at the NYU Health Services Clinic to be seen for some issues I have been having over the past month.

Now, don’t get all freaked out or anything- my Crohn’s disease isn’t back! I’ve just had some all around medical issues that, because of Crohn’s, no intestine, lack of an immune system, and an ironic immunity to many pain medications, I have to take any issue with my body quite seriously. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I know how easy it is for me to get sick and for that sickness to turn into something disastrous, and so does my mother. Being the caring, loving, and sometimes overzealous worry wart that she is, made sure that before I moved here to NYC, I had the highest medical insurance plan that my university would allow. The comprehensive plan. In case I got sick here in NYC, I would be covered.

That’s all well and good when emergency situations arise. I don’t know much about the medical system here in the U.S, but I do know that emergency situations can get very costly if you don’t have insurance. Lucky for me, my mom splurged for the plan that covers as much as possible, according to the university. Swell.

I was hoping, then, that having this intense health insurance would also come in handy in situations like these; where I’m having issues, when I’m not sure what they are, and when I need them to be diagnosed and fixed before they become too dangerous.

Unfortunately, the one thing my medical plan here in NYC doesn’t have is the doctors who have known me and have been helping me for my entire life. Without these doctor’s, however, no matter how comprehensive my medical plan is, it doesn’t mean I’m going to get help.

Now, I am definitely not knocking the health facility at NYU. In fact, it was great! I was seen basically as soon as I arrived and filled out my medical history form (mind you, that probably took a good 15 minutes..), and the facility was clean and fancy. Everyone was also extremely friendly.

My issue, however, wasn’t any of their faults- it was simply my own.

After explaining the issues I have been having over the past month with the doctor who had taken my case, I then dove into the short version of my medical history. Crohn’s disease, hospital stays, medications, diets, anemia, ostomy, etc etc. I explained all of this, the doctor took some notes, and then they took blood.

Great. Awesome. Monday, they said, I’d have my results back and we could go from there.

Monday morning I get the results of my tests and advice from the doctor I have been dealing with. I am told my tests results are normal, though I should probably get them checked again in 6 weeks (if there are no abnormalities in my tests results while the issue is going on I doubt there will be a change in 6 weeks, I thought…) and was also told that I should do some things that I had explained I was already doing.

Awesome.

Needless to say, that visit to the clinic was useless.

I get pretty frustrated with the fact that I constantly get sick with random things here and there. It’s even more frustrating that, often, these random things are things that can’t be left alone in fears of the issues getting bad, or in the worst situation, the issues exacerbating my Crohn’s disease. I am probably the most frustrated, however, when I have to explain my entire medical history from beginning to end to a new doctor.

So, in order to make sure I get back to being healthy, I’m heading back home to Toronto for a week and a half to see the doctors that have had to deal with me for so many years. There’s n0 guarantee they’ll know what’s going on either, but at least they have some contextual background to use for my diagnosis.

Upside to all of this? I get to spend tons of time with my mom and boyfriend, both of whom I miss very much.

Cup half full.

Cup also half medical anomaly.

Thanks comprehensive medical insurance, you’ve been great.