my life as a series of mistakes: freshman year

I didn’t know I was maladjusted until orientation week at UNT in Denton, Texas.

I should have known I was – but many years of being ostracized, ridiculed, and forced to recluse in high school tends to numb your perspective a bit. Even senior year, when things seemed to ease off, didn’t really help. Even then, I had a small safety net, a core group of 4-5 friends there at Thrall to rely on.

That was whittled down to 2 for the college experience – two of them happened to be accepted to Texas Woman’s University, also in Denton – but I knew I wouldn’t be able to see them every day.

Anyway, orientation week – the very first night there, I started to cry uncontrollably. It was incredibly embarrassing, not to mention I couldn’t clearly understand why. I remember the cold, prison-like, empty dorm room I was in, barren of all decoration, cinder block walls – I’m sure that was part of it.

But I was so used to having to be on my own, that set me off on the wrong foot. I wasn’t open to anyone, and I’m sure I had a ‘stay away from me’ vibe that meant no one was going to approach me and say ‘Hey, let’s get to know each other.’

It was a sensory overload, in many ways. I think I was in a kind of tunnel vision the whole orientation – I remember absolutely no faces, just buildings, rooms, desks, computers.

Embarrassing bout of tears aside, when I got back home I was excited to start the process of heading off to college. I packed, I planned, got my dorm assignment set up – Bruce Hall, the oldest dorm on campus but the one known for eccentrics, artistic and musical types – the perfect setting for one to be who one is.

Except who I was at that point was still a damaged person – still recovering from a multitude of emotional trauma. I didn’t know how to be anyone else.

And I cried for another solid week once I moved in.

The ghosts of high school haunted me still. Every time I walked to and from classes, if I heard a whispering voice behind me, a laugh – I was certain it was someone talking about or laughing at me.

It made me so uncomfortable there were days I couldn’t even leave the dorm room. I’d stay in for days at a time, ordering in pizza (with all the Big New Yorkers I ordered I can’t understand why Pizza Hut discontinued it) or walking to the Jack in the Box on the corner and buying God-knows-what.

Doing so meant I often ran out of money. I had a meal card as part of my dorm package, but I was still so petrified of other people, even being seen by other people – I just couldn’t do it. I tried going to other cafeterias on campus, which eased things a bit – but not by much.

That’s when I did something I am vehemently ashamed of – I would start eating food from my roommate’s supplies. I would make a feeble lie, saying there were ants or something and I had to throw them out.

Though I can’t defend what I did in the slightest… what happened later pretty much sealed my fate at UNT, and forced me to quit college for the first time.

I have to admit, it was clever – something I’d have expected from a TV show. My roommate made chocolate chunk cookies and left them out on his desk, expecting me to sneak a few, which I did.

But it wasn’t chocolate chunks.

It was Ex-Lax. And it had the desired effect – although I didn’t immediately connect it together until someone clued me in on it weeks after the fact.

And how did he know? My roommate told him. And who knows how many other people.

I was mortified. And of course it did nothing for my psyche – all it did was confirm for me every one of my suspicions.

“They’ll laugh at you, Carrie.”

The TV-movie remake of “Carrie” was, ironically, on at the time, and now I remember that scene where Carrie’s mom tells her that everyone will laugh at her for going to the prom, and after the pig’s blood is dumped on her, that’s all she hears.

That’s essentially what happened to me – everyone who I thought was whispering and laughing at me behind my back really was laughing at me – at least as far as my brain was telling me.

There was another incident during my time at Bruce Hall which really screwed up my all-important college phase, which I won’t go into at the moment – its still a bit too personal for me to even admit to on the internet right now.

I was mortified. I was embarrassed. When the spring term ended, I moved out of Bruce Hall and into a swanky, just-opened college apartment center off the edge of campus.

But ultimately that experience was worse. Again, I didn’t get to choose any of my three other roommates – two of them I never even met face-to-face the entire semester. Even that may require a post of its own. After the fall semester, I quickly and quietly moved out of that apartment – and away from UNT for good.

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what a foe i have in photos

I have never liked taking portraits or being in photos, and certainly not when I was 280, 290… 310 pounds.

I’m hovering around the 240-250 mark – my recent diabetic diagnosis has kinda interrupted my progress temporarily – but I still can’t stand taking photos. I still have body image issues that I haven’t quite quelled.

I think that’s why I dreaded going in today for a studio session. I wasn’t going to do it at all until my grandmother texted me asking for a new photo, and of course I remembered Mother’s Day is this weekend. Whoops on my part.

Fast forward to today, and I’m in two relatively decent outfits, even though one was in shorts and a tee. The other was in my thinning-hair-concealing reversed driver’s cap and khakis, my usual office motif.

Following a multitude of poses and a small hiccup in which my coupon was not accepted (apparently I’m not 18 years of age or younger – whoops again), I left the shop with a small package of prints, which got mailed off immediately afterward.

I was also left with a CD which contains every shot I took – half of which I wish I could delete.

I stared at these shots for about an hour, trying to see (or in this case, not see) what I think I am seeing.

Here’s the results – I’m not showing anyone the photos of me sitting down – I feel like there is still a visible “overdone popover” situation going on in my middle. That I can guarantee is there.

May15a May15c

I still “think” I see a beer-barrel gut in these shots – but not nearly as bad as I think I see when I stand in a mirror. I don’t know if this is my mind being… well, my mind… or if there is an actual difference in shape going on.

Still – I can barely manage much of a smile in these photos, despite how hard I tried. It’s not that I’m unhappy or anything like that. It’s just… me, is all I can say.

ups, downs, and the numbers which go either way

So, the long and short of it is, I found out last week I have diabetes.

There was, of course, the shock of the news – but afterward, there was the realization I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. I downed several sodas a day for over 20 years and only recently started doing the work to undo the damage.

I didn’t beat that clock.

But, as the doctor told me, all is not lost. I seem to have impressed her when I told her how I’ve lost nearly 80 pounds in the last two years or so, simply by will power of eating less and taking more exercise.

The prescription, she said – besides the obvious with my diagnosis; the glucose monitor, the testing strips, lancets, and an oral medication to bring down my glucose readings (my body makes too much insulin and doesn’t dispense it readily enough) – is to keep doing what I’m doing, but with a few more tweaks to my diet.

First thing to go were the regular sodas, and the hundreds if not thousands of grams of daily sugar those brought. I’ve gone ahead and switched to more sugar-free treats, and of course increased the vegetable intake.

With those changes plus upping the activity, I hope to not only lose a bit more weight, and hopefully some more inches, but the doctor holds hope that by one year from now I could actually go off the medication and even the testing.

When I first posted to Facebook about this, most of the replies I got from friends, family and co-workers all said the same thing: “you can do this.”

From that, I devised a mantra, something to tell myself every time I come up against some unknown obstacle in this journey I’m heading into; the latest hurdle I have already decided I will master.

“I got this.”

shotgun down the avalanche

So the last three or four weeks have been abnormally hectic. My supervisor at the web desk has ‘defected,’ if you will, to another department. The new supervisor has already been hired; I’ve already met him – he’s great – but we’ve had to spend all of February – a sweeps month- with me taking maybe about 55% of the acting responsibilities and duties of the supervisor’s job on top of my usual duties.

Add to that the fact that the last two weeks we’ve been hit with winter weather event after winter weather event – tonight having been the busiest in terms of what we’ve had to do on web.

That includes taking in closing and delay notices, entering them into the on-air crawl, the on-web story, taking viewer-submitted photos and video, road closure reports, power outage notices, answering questions from people on Facebook and Twitter – oh yeah, and using FB and T to relay each and every thing I just mentioned.

Plus write stories and clip video like I normally would.

Oh yeah, and there’s also the state high school basketball going on amid all of this too.

…And, let’s not forget those, who bless them, are not happy and complain over every thing we put on air, including the weather warnings and closing alerts.

That’s a lot to handle. And for most of these last three weeks, I’ve had to handle the bulk of that on my own, with maybe an hour or so of overlap with my other web teammates.

Tonight, however, the higher-ups gave me a partner for tonight, and might I say, it was a pleasant change. We tag-teamed, basically, swapping duties every so often as the ebb and flow of the workload changed throughout the night.

It meant I didn’t get to witness the fun things our talent were doing during the newscasts, like sledding on-air or making ’48 Snow Cream.’

But I got some weird vicarious feeling while watching them later as I made video clips, tagging them on Facebook after they were made live…

I still react oddly when I’m complimented on the work I do. I got berated so heavily in school for doing well in school – I guess now if I’m told anything resembling ‘good job,’ I become tense and nervous, or I clam up, unsure of how to simply say ‘thanks.’

Tonight, though, I knew exactly how to respond.

These people make me happy to come to work. They compel me to carry on, even when the day(s) prove tough, difficult, or miserable. They are a reminder that the varied workload makes each day interesting at a bare minimum.

And their praise of me quite honestly is starting to make me feel how I reckon I should – valued, welcomed, all part of what makes the workplace work.

And I value them too.

mid-season re-tooling

When ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ started, it was your typical saccharine family drama about a family moving from who-knows-where to the most famous ZIP code in all the land.

Barely anyone watched. So the Powers That Be re-tooled the hell out of that nearly-dead horse, made the opening flashier, sexier, added some electric guitar riffs – and boom, a hit show.

I feel like 2015 is proving to be a re-tooling of my life.

First, the setting of my home life has changed. My living quarters have expanded, has more splashes of paint (though we lost a cool, movie-theater style gonzo carpet), and is at least a half hour away from the cast of Jackass/Party Down South.

The office has undergone a similar refresh – there’s bolder colors on the walls, the station’s new logo is plastered about, flat-screens abound.

It’s the “casting changes” that are making me nervous.

Over the course of the last year, the web team has grown by three people, and we’ll soon be getting another member.

Other sections in the news department have been going through changes, new producers, the exit of a main anchor. That gap is triggering a change in the people I’ll be interacting with in various ways.

Then cue Thursday afternoon, when I learned my own boss is on the way out – moving to another department.

Because we were in a weather event, I had to withhold my emotional attack until my break. But it happened – seven o’clock, closed off in the conference room where I eat lunch, choking back depressed tears while at the same time trying to keep hold of myself.

When changes impact me more directly, I have a history of not responding well, or being in auto-repel mode. I must not do this this time.

I’m nervous as all-hell about what’s to come in the weeks and months ahead.

new year in a new mancave

So, it’s been six months, and like clockwork I remember I have a blog and should really do a better job of keeping it current. I make no promises, though.

So what’s gone on in the last six months since I wrote?

First and foremost, Tyler and I moved from our trailer in Lacey’s Spring to a professionally-managed complex in Madison. Besides cutting our commute nearly in half, management are really lax on us painting and modifying our living space.

And paint and modify we have!

It’s more of a mancave more than anything else – there’s also a second bedroom which we have converted into is game and exercise room. In addition to an elliptical machine and a stationary bike, we now have a nifty air hockey table.

notes on a scandal, or, the day i met sarah palin

Sarah, Tyler and I

So. Today was without question one of the most interesting days of my life – an unexpected day filled with a roller-coaster ride of thoughts, conflicting emotions, and a rare brush with my political side.

Last month, during the height of graduation season, Sarah Palin came to a local school’s ceremony as commencement speaker. I had to listen to the speech for my job writing the article on the event for the station. I didn’t want to – I had every desire to ignore her presence based solely on what I know about her views on LGBT issues.

While the speech didn’t go without some slight political undertones, the bulk of her speech was very inspirational and motivational. She gave those seniors good, sound advice on how to enter the working world. I distinctly remember going home that day thinking to myself how I would carry myself if I would ever meet Palin myself.

Little did I know that just a month later, I would.

The realization hit me like a ton of bricks – a few of us, myself included, thought it was just a joke. Yeah, right, Sarah Palin here. Get over yourself. But, it was soon confirmed – this was going to happen; she would drop in so we could provide a certain cable channel she has been affiliated with the opportunity for a live interview about this, that or the other.

I spent a good half-hour worrying. My first instinct was disgust and contempt simply because I knew she and I did not mesh as far as our views. I almost immediately chided myself.

I am by no means considered an activist. Nor am I a pacifist. My belief is that I simply can’t change other people’s opinions by shouting at them and demanding they bend to my way and expect it to happen right then and there. I also know that by the very job description, that’s what a politician has to do.

So, what was I going to do? Would I be polite and make contact if she came my way? Certainly I wouldn’t lambast her about her views – personally or professionally, that’s just not how I can behave. I figured I would just say hello, shake a hand if offered, and let it be. Otherwise I would just go about my daily duties.

At the end of the day, it boils down to this… I met a new person today. I chatted with her very briefly. She was courteous and I was in return. I feel no different about my belief system now than I do about hers. I looked past that and had a nice experience in meeting a new person in passing.

Not to mention – it kinda turned into quite a blast, watching co-workers get a little starstruck – this doesn’t happen very often, at least as far as local television is concerned.

And hey – a picture with a famous person is always going to be a picture with a famous person.

You betcha.