Welcome!

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Hello! My name is Erin–I started this blog in order to share my writing, talk about life with my service dog, Tess, and to write about books, movies, and hot topics I find interesting. If you like anything I have to say–please follow me and share!

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Life After College

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Nearly a month ago, I went back Home. While I normally only refer to home as the place where my family (and heart) is—I learned long ago that Marietta College became a part of me. Not because of the place–that is just walls and mortar that will go through plenty of changes in the years to come–but, because I found people there. People that I care deeply about and people who support me no matter what.

So, to my college friends–nobody tells you that life after college is going to suck–but I am going to.

No, conservative friends. Life didn’t suck after college because my private liberal arts school left me sheltered–far from it. And some of you may be assuming that I am talking about how none of us can find jobs–that sucks. Or how those of us in grad school are suffering from imposter syndrome–that’s also unfortunate. But that is all fodder for another post.

No. Life sucks after school because in college (if you are doing it right) you are given all the tools in order to find yourself–and now it’s time to do it. 

And that’s freaking hard.

It doesn’t matter where you go after college–grad school, to your dream job, even to a break at home or a job that has nothing to do with your degree–we all feel like “adults” who don’t know how to adult–and we all start to feel lost and maybe even a little lonely.

In college, I could walk down a hall to my best friends room and complain about my life–and she would listen. I could send a quick text at 12am to my friend saying that I NEED nuggets in my life and we would get in his car and go get a 20 pack to share. After college, your friends spread out. These people, the people that you learned to support on after leaving the nest, are all of a sudden in 20 different cities doing 20 different things. You’re no longer on the same chapters in your lives and it can feel isolating.

Many of us are alone, in apartments in another city. We are at an awkward stage where we are close to people who are far away and not yet emotionally close enough to the people physically surrounding us. We start feeling like we will never make friends again. And some of us are near home and just feel isolated because we are home with family, but feel like we should be doing more while our friends are out there, someplace other than home. Society told us to go and get the degree–now what?

Now, it’s time to make time for you and decide the type of person you want to be.

I am not close to an answer to that question. I have absolutely no clue who I want to be when this whole grad school thing is done. I don’t know where I will be living a year from now. But, I can tell you how I curb the loneliness.

I rely on family. I hope that all of you have at least one family member that you can talk to. I talk to my mom daily. Over every little thing. She is my rock. I call my grandmother, saying I need cooking advice, when in all reality I need that cooking advice and her ear. She is one of the easiest people to complain to. My brother and I have never been so close, even when I am 500 plus miles away, because I call him nightly. I rely on my grandparents, my parents, and all of my family to remind me that I am where I am for a reason, and that I am never really alone.

I talk to my best friend–whenever we both can. My best friend is at his “big boy job” in a city away from home. We get on the phone and we talk for hours–normally 2-3–and if I close my eyes, I am back in a dorm room. Just like high school, when you leave college, you find out who your real friends are. You learn that you make time for people who you care about–even if you are teaching two classes, preparing for a master’s exam, applying to grad schools, all while attempting to have a social life. Or if you are a man, at the beginning stages of a fantastic career who has been traveling so much his head is about to spin–you make time for the people who remind you how to be you. When I feel isolated, I go to him because he is a reminder that there is at least one person beyond my family that gets me.

I learned how to cook. OKay, so I got diagnosed with Celiac right after leaving college–so I really had no choice in this one. But–I poured myself into learning how to cook for myself and how to make meals that make me happy and healthier.

I depended on Tess–a lot. Tess is a constant reminder that I am not alone. She definitely has pulled her weight as a service dog and as an emotional support animal. She may not be cuddly, but she knows when to show her love when needed.

I keep in contact with the mentors that I had at Marietta and make sure that when I am home–I get to see them for pizza or coffee or homecoming reunions.

I also, try to remind myself to breathe. That it is okay to watch Netflix, read for fun, or go out with friends for my mental health.

I remind myself to be myself as I meet new people and try to be friends with them. That I don’t have to pretend to like what they do or pretend to be someone other than my fabulous, sarcastic self.

I learned that it is okay to have self-confidence and call yourself fabulous even when you feel far from it.

And, at the end of twenty-three–the age that every buzzfeed article or thoughcatalog will remind you that it is the worst, I have learned that while I may feel lonely–I am never truly alone.

Life after college sucks–but as long as you find the people that remind you that you don’t suck–it can and will get better.

 

Now I Know

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I did it.
I took the time.
I’ve gotten to the point where I know myself.
I can name every scar–the battles I’ve lost and won,
I can connect the dots with each freckle the sun kissed on my face,
I can trace every stretch mark down to the faintest line,
I know my body. I know my mind.
I know my faults:
Vain, petty, selfish, compasionless.
But I know my stengths too:
Courage, independence, loyalty, confidence, eagerness.
I am ready now–to learn someone new,
and for them to know me too.

 

Oh Airports….

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Tess and I travel a lot. Living in Milwaukee and traveling home to Ohio–Tess is an airplane pro after one year. 

This year we will be traveling in October, November, and of course we will be home for Christmas break. However, airports are simultaneously the most disability friendly places and the worst. 

Recently, I had a health crisis that led me to change a flight on Wednesday to today, Sunday the 27th. First off, Delta was amazing. They let me change my flight and because is was a health reason with surgery involved they changed it with little hassle in less than twenty minutes. (This is why I am a Skymiles member. You go Delta!)

However, the man that made my flight today did not do his job correctly. I told him I had a service dog. (It was already marked, but Lord knows you need to check your bases with these things). He put me in bulk head seating, which is typically row 5 in most planes. I asked if I could be in seats C or D. Does this sound ultra specific? Yes. Do I have a reason? Of course! 

Let me show you seats 5A and B. 

You notice, because these seats are directly behind the first class aisle that has only one seat–there is absolutely no room for Tess because the aisle curves right where she would be laying. 

When I mentioned this to the man on the phone, he told me I was wrong, there is the same amount of seat room on both sides and that he is putting me in seats A on flight one and B on flight two. I accepted this because, in reality, I wanted this call to end and I had bigger, scarier things on my mind. But this morning, this phone call wasn’t sitting well with me. So, I called Delta at 4am. (I don’t sleep like a normal person, I wake up, I panic, it’s a thing, don’t judge). 

The disability line immediately fixed the problem. It turns out that the man I talked to last week didn’t even mark that I had a service dog. This makes me so mad. I would have had a difficult time at the airport this evening if I hadn’t called them. This isn’t the first time I have been told that row 5 is the same on both sides! Look at that photo, folks! Tess would have been in the way and I would have had angry, overworked flight attendants who would constantly had to move around Tess for the flight. 

I really wish that they would tell people that the aisle curves and that the seats aren’t the same. These are the flights designated for people with disabilities! They need to know that there isn’t as much room there. What if someone in a wheelchair who has long legs needed seat B? That would be a difficult flight! 

I thank Delta for being, quote literally, the best airline I have had to work with. They are accommodating, nice, and really easy to work with. I just wish all of their employees understood/listened to the needs of the customers and that they, as a company, recognized the differences in the sizes in their handicap seating. 

They Tell Me You Do

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You’ll never know how grateful I am,
To find someone that works and thinks like me.
You’re my gravity, you keep my feet firmly planted on the ground–
Or do you just keep me down?
–They tell me you do.

 

Faults

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My name is Erin.

I’m generic, and I am okay with it.

I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I listen to the top 40, and I love romantic comedies

I’ll drink my iced chai tea and be proud.

I bake when I am mad, so honey those muffins weren’t made out of love.

They are the daughters of my anxiety, eat them up.

I can’t drink milk after the expiration date. I know that it doesn’t instantly go bad, but

I wish more things would tell me when they will go wrong, because I’ll listen.

I procrastinate.

I am habitually lazy.

But, man, when I want something I’ll just dive right in—head under water.

Sometimes I drown.

I am quite intelligent, until…you give me a map.

North. South. East. West. These words mean nothing to me

Maybe that’s why I am lost.

I’ve never been in a ballet, but

Sometimes I walk around on my toes,

A force of habit from walking around on eggshells

Shells I have been walking on since they called me intimidating,

Shells I have been walking on since the invention of RBF and terrible first impressions.

Shells planted in the cement from my own mind, because I listened to them when they tried to tell me that I needed to change.

My feet are bleeding.

I don’t need you, voices.

I love you, but I can’t.

I know my own faults—So I am going to walk, drink, bake, and swim any way that I can.

Drawing Boundaries

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Despite my jokes on being a horrible person, I consider myself a fairly considerate individual—who tries not to be rude to others. But lately—it has been hard to decipher whether I should assert my own personal boundaries when it comes to questions about Tess.

Yesterday, as Tess and I walked to class—roughly a six block journey—we ran into a man who wanted to pet Tess to which I responded “Sorry she is working.” Then after, a man started talking to me as I walked past telling me that she is beautiful, that his family raised shepherds, asking me if she was a brindle…so on and so forth.

Now, keep in mind I am a right on time person. Class begins at 9:45 and because of who I am as a person, I normally arrive at precisely 9:43. Mornings are not my friends with POTs, I move slowly and, to be honest, my sleeping habits are horrendous lately, averaging from 0-3 hours a night this past week. So when this man tries to stop me in my tracks to talk about my dog’s waistline and coloring—I honestly did not have the time. I chose to answer yes to all his questions as I kept walking. It felt rude, but I have got my own life.

I am quickly learning that having Tess is kind of like having a baby, everyone has their own opinions, people see you and ask a million questions, some of which are totally bizarre and rude, and people tend to overshare about their own experiences with German Shepherds or dogs as soon as they see her. I tend to hear a lot about how people have an Aunt Susan who has a dog who looks exactly like Tess or how their cousin second removed from their father’s side had a service dog. I do not want to be rude, but when people stop me from my everyday tasks to overshare their personal lives, some days it is hard to remain cheerful and I do not have the time to learn about someone I will literally never see again. I can’t decide if that is being rude or if it is trying to set boundaries.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear what other people have to say, if we are in a situation where it is appropriate to make small talk—Tess is the best category in my reservoir, but I cannot let people interfere with my day to day or randomly feel like they should have an opinion. Right?

I typically run into people who walk by talking about “the dog,” people who squeal that they love dogs and that “she is sooooo cute,” or people who painstakingly ignore Tess and then say the catch phrase “I know about service dogs! I know I shouldn’t acknowledge her, but she is so cute!” If there is one thing I hope you learn from this post, it is that it is probably best to ignore service dogs when they are working and don’t applaud yourself for it, just do it, that is until their owner opens up that conversation. I will gladly talk about Tess for hours. She is my baby and I am a proud momma—but there is a time and a place.

I hope none of this sounds bitter, but I find it hard to transition from having an invisible illness to having an invisible illness with a visible aid. People look at Tess and know there is something wrong, but they don’t know what. I never had to disclose that I had POTs to anyone unless I had to, and now it is open, exposed, that I have an illness and that can be uncomfortable. I am not uncomfortable with people making assumptions, but I am uncomfortable with people stopping me to talk and treating me like a walking, talking, museum or educational video. I love educating others, but not when it is exhausting for me and a giant distraction for my Tessie.

It is funny, the stigma with people with illnesses. There are two common themes in disability culture. One portrays the disabled or people with illnesses as inspiration. People with cancer are not supposed to have the illness, they are supposed to fight the illness with unquestionable enthusiasm and faith. They are supposed to be strong for the people around them, provide inspiration to others. People with disabilities are supposed to be advocates for their disability, they are supposed to possess optimism and determination to succeed despite their struggles. If not an inspiration, we are supposed to be an object of pity. Something that people shouldn’t stare at or a person that makes others feel guilty for their perfect ablebodiedness. I do not want you to feel guilt. I have a wonderful life full of homework, Netflix, amazing friends who stay connected to me from 500 miles away, a family full of love and support, and I am so much more than a girl with a service dog. But, I cannot always be an inspiration and educational venue for others. Do you realize how exhausting that is? I can’t always be an advocate for potsies or service dog owners because it is not always easy to be one, and frankly a service dog is not an advertisement for others to forget basic etiquette. Maybe that makes me rude, but it may very well keep me sane.