My Fake Friends

My friendsSometime between asking two friends to help me do my hair for my wedding three years ago and today, I became a secret and devoted watcher of beauty videos on YouTube.

If you don’t know, these are four to ten-minute long videos where peppy, pretty, girlish women, largely in their early 20s, talk about hairstyles, makeup, fashion, and personal care products.

There are different kinds of videos, all variations on a theme. In tutorials, they show you how to do your hair a certain way or get a certain look with your makeup. In haul videos, filmed after buying a bunch of products or clothes, they walk through each item, laughing and telling you what they liked about it, where they got it, and how they plan to wear it. In “vlogs,” (video logs) they simply film and narrate their daily lives as they eat breakfast, go to the gym, hang out with friends, and more. If this sounds pointless and uninteresting, it is. I cannot honestly recommend them. (read more…)

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (But Mine Is All Sweaty)

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“Who here’s a freshman?” Several students raised their hands meekly. “Sophomores?” One or two. “Juniors?” No one. The doctor running the show looked at me. “Senior?”

I probably was not the only senior in the history of college to have drunk too much and headed to health services to vomit it all out under professional care, but I was the only one that weekend. After a half-night of fitful sleep in a hospital bed, I found myself among the other patients, stupid freshmen who didn’t know what they were doing, for morning-after counseling. The doctor ran through cue cards about alcoholism. I didn’t have a drinking problem; I had a sweating problem that alcohol alleviated. (read more…)

A Visit to the Doctor of Chinese Medicine

chart of points

It starts not with blood pressure, temperature, and weight measurements, but with looking at the top and bottom of your tongue and feeling your pulse on both wrists.

Visiting a doctor who practices traditional Chinese medicine is nothing like visiting a Western doctor. The language, diagnostics, and classification of illness are completely different. When I recently asked my Chinese medicine doctor how I was doing, her assessment was that my blood was deficient and that my heart had too much fire. My qi wasn’t cycling enough times during the day to resolve these issues on their own* (*my interpretation of what she said). (read more…)

A Fall in the Trees

Forest of Beech Trees_gustav klimt

On a cold Friday in February five years ago, I took the day off to go skiing with my friend Brian. We went to our usual spot, a resort in northern Vermont, and spent the morning skiing off-piste. After lunch, we headed down a trail that was new to us; it had a mild grade, and the trees weren’t as dense as some of the other trails we had been on that day. It was a more relaxing ski down and we moved along quickly, carving between the trees, stumps, and other features. About halfway down the trail, one of my skis sheared to the wrong side of a small stump. I fell forward, rather slowly and unremarkably, and then felt a very strange pain in my knee. It was quick and fierce, and I remember audibly moaning when I finally came to a stop. I was still clicked in to both skis. (read more…)

Living With Pain

kahlo

I’ve been in pain every day for three and a half years.

I injured myself in unspectacular fashion: by spending a week walking, running, and dancing around the South by Southwest festival while wearing terribly unsupportive shoes. By the end of the week my heel was hurting, but I didn’t pay it much attention until the pain got worse every day for a month. By the time I was diagnosed with chronic plantar fasciitis, I was in the worst pain of my life.

Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the band of connective tissue (fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot, continuing all the way up the back of the leg. It is often encountered by runners, and will usually heal in a few weeks when taken care of, but it can also be incredibly stubborn. Every step you take can damage it more, especially if your body is out of alignment or your muscles are tight. Chronic plantar fasciitis in my right foot has made it difficult to do so many of the things that lift my spirit and bring me joy, not to mention function as a normal human being in our society. It hurts to dance, aches when I hike, and is uncomfortable even just to stand for an extended period of time. I have battled endless frustration, bouts of depression, and the discomfort of feeling like I am not only missing out on some of the prime years of my life, but that I am letting others down by not being there in the ways I think I should be. (read more…)