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May 6th, 2010

Getting Better

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

My Anxiety is NOT THE BOSS!


We’re in San Francisco. It is amazing and beautiful and brilliant and exhilarating.

And I’m happy. So happy.

More soon. The days aren’t long enough for everything I try to cram into them!

(image from PostSecret, week of 05/02/10)

April 8th, 2010

Two Weeks

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

Things have been crazy in the past couple weeks. I’m sure you all were expecting that.

I accepted the job.

We’re moving to San Francisco.

On my birthday (April 24).

To a little studio apartment in Pacific Heights.

This is so nuts. It’s completely insane, to me, that in a little over two weeks this will be the view from part of my commute to work:

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about all of this.

March 28th, 2010

Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

The Golden Gate Bridge
This past Monday, I boarded a plane in Burbank, CA and deplaned in Oakland, CA. A short and exceptionally easy public-transit ride later, I was standing in the middle of downtown San Francisco, surrounded by gorgeous, stern and serene buildings.

I walked a few blocks south, in the Monday morning sunshine, with a cool, crisp sea breeze ruffling my hair every few minutes. Seagulls circled overhead, spouting their cacophonous little songs (which always remind me both of Sanibel and of Finding Nemo). My nerves — slightly agitated by the mystery of new surroundings and even more by the prospect of everything that could happen that day — stopped my lips from curling into a full smile, but, behind my sunglasses, my eyes were bright.

I passed by a rushing fountain that reminded me of a waterfall, under a freeway overpass that seemed eerily quiet despite connecting to the Bay Bridge in the middle of rush hour, and continued down the street until, looking to my right, I saw a familiar sight — I had only seen it before on Google Maps, but I knew it already — a gorgeous little tree-spotted park between two rows of ancient buildings of brick, stone and giant glass windows.

Inside the office, the first thing I noticed was a bicycle – a completely foreign object in pretty much any Los Angeles building – and I sized it up to mine (which is sitting in my living room collecting dust, to be honest). This was a street bike. A commuter bike. An honest-to-goodness city bike.

I don’t even know if you can really call that building an “office.” Someone told me it used to be a washing machine manufacturing warehouse, or something like that. Now, bright green, orange and blue paint striped the walls, practically mile-high skylights poured sunlight from above and a few desks were laid haphazardly around couches and bookshelves. This was no office.

Or at least, no office like I’d ever worked in.

A few hours later, I hopped back on that public transit train, full of smiles. Nervousness completely gone. All it took was a few hours in an amazing place with amazing people (and surely it didn’t hurt to have a little bit of amazing food thrown in there, of course). My world had been turned upside down — in a very good way — and as I was leaving I was already planning how I could possibly get back as soon as possible.

The Socialcast Office

The Socialcast Office (swiped from the corporate site *evil laugh*)

The company is Socialcast.

And I’m pretty positive I’m going to move up to San Francisco and work for them.

I make it seem like a really easy decision, though. That is so far from the truth that it’s not even funny. Derek and I have spent the past week staying up discussing, talking, arguing, crying, fretting, wondering, what-iffing, researching, planning, celebrating until 2am just about every night.

Overall, though there have been times when I’ve felt so disconnected from him in the past week, as I sit here and write this today I feel like our relationship is so freaking solid right now that not even a natural disaster of epic ginormous proportions could pull us apart. We are a freaking rock.

And I love him so much for that. For all of this.

I’ve told him several times, usually through tears, that if he doesn’t think it’s worth it, he doesn’t have to come with me. I’ve told him I’m pretty sure this is something I have to do now. Right now. Before I have a house. Before I have a dog. Before I have kids and a 401k and all those scary adult things. This is one of those things that I will regret for years if I pass it up. I’ve already passed up one opportunity because I was scared (let’s not discuss it). I’m not doing it again. I have to do this for me. I have to be selfish, for once, and do what is right for me, for my career, for my life, for my happiness.

And he takes my hand, or touches my face, or stares deep into my eyes, and he says, “Baby, I know.”

Derek and Jess in San Francisco, 2008

Two years ago, right around this time of year, even, Derek and I drove up together to San Francisco. It was our first trip together, and it was wonderful. I felt so connected to him and so safe even in the most questionable neighborhoods.

If I didn’t know it before we left LA, I knew when we got to San Francisco that I loved him.

There are still a lot of “what ifs” that need to be addressed and plans that need to be made and worries that need to be let go of.

But one thing is steady, constant, entirely certain: even if I already know it before we leave LA, I know for sure when we get to San Francisco that I’ll love him more than ever before.

And so begins the next chapter…

Jess in SF

Watch for a recreation of this photo. Coming soon.




March 20th, 2010

Be OK

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

Apparently, anxiety/depression and blogging don’t always mesh very well.

It seems like a lot has happened, but my emotions just keep getting the best of me and I kind of hole up in myself.

My tattoo has healed. Derek and I have been together over two years. My parents came to visit.

Changes are on the horizon, though. Possibly very big ones. Hopefully very good ones.

Right now I’m just trying to be okay and get through the next couple of weeks until those changes start to come to fruition.

And I’m sorry, but I can’t mention exactly what they are right now. I’ll be able to talk about them soon enough. Bear with me for a few days at least.

The adventure continues…

eta: if anyone has suggestions for blog entry ideas… i have a small, slowly growing list and am actively seeking more ideas. please leave one or two in your comment? xoxo.

January 11th, 2010

Shenghuo

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

生活有愛幸福,
為愛生活愚蠢

A life with love is happy,
A life for love is foolish.

Tattoo (by vociferous.)

Traditional Chinese characters; read top to bottom, right to left.
Beautifully tattooed by Man at My Tattoo in Alhambra, CA.
January 10, 2010

More info to come later. :)

January 1st, 2010

‘Round Midnight 4

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

It’s becoming tradition. Every year since 2007, on New Year’s Day (or thereabouts) I’ve written a little post talking about all of the things that happened in the past year. (See previous years in review: 2006, 2007, 2008.)

Looking back on them is always an interesting experience. It’s kind of amazing to see how far I’ve come in the past four years, and fun to imagine what will change in the next year (hopefully good things!).

Anyway, without further babbling from me, here’s 2009 in review!

Januarythe month of friendships – Began to expand my social circle when Derek started working swing shift; found out about a few friends’ pregnancies; got U-Verse – actual television for the first time in like two years!; met up with my parents in Vegas
Februarythe month of reflection – Celebrated one year with Derek; got really into blogging pretty regularly; began thinking about the past and starting to grow from it.
Marchthe month of growing pains – Found out I was going to be an aunt; watched my younger sister start planning her wedding; started getting sick more often.
Aprilthe month of missing you – Lost my great-grandmother; turned 23; continued to keep getting sick.
Maythe month of admitting the problem – Realized my sicknesses were being caused mostly by psychological issues; began seeing a psychiatrist; pretty much hit rock bottom as far as being depressed and hating life. Not a good month.
Junethe month of facing the problem – Started Lexapro for anxiety and depression; began biweekly therapy sessions with the psychiatrist.
Julythe month of improving & looking ahead – Started feeling better for the first time in ages; began looking forward to the family vacation; Derek turned 29.
Augustthe month of family – Went to Florida with Derek and my family; met my little cousin, Alexis, for the first time; began to realize how much I love my grandmother and hope to be like her when I’m older; began to face some of the issues related to feeling out of place among my siblings.
Septemberthe month of learning to live again – Started talk therapy with the psychiatrist; explored how I was living my life and what was important to me and Derek in our living situation; found out my ex was moving to China and tried to work out how I felt about it; met up with my parents and grandparents in Vegas.
Octoberthe month of kiddies – especially RORY! – My niece, Lorelai, was born the day before my brother (her daddy) turned 28; decided to start volunteering at Kidspace; visited my friends in New York
Novemberthe month of thankfulness – Withdrew from the online world a little to focus myself on life; spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with Derek and his family
Decemberthe month of “home is where the heart is” – Stayed a week with my brother in Indiana; met Rory, finally, and fell in love – she’s the best niece ever!; visited my parents and grandparents; then came home to my Derek again… and my home.

Overall, this year was a lot less eventful than last year – that is for sure – but it was still a really important year. I dealt with a lot of things this year, a lot of very difficult things, even. But I’m already feeling so much stronger than this time last year, and I know I can only get stronger from here.

Sunset - Sanibel Island 8/12/09 (by vociferous.)

I’m looking forward to starting 2010. Farewell, 2009.

December 25th, 2009

Rory

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

I think one of the best things about this Christmas is getting to meet my adorable 11-week-old niece, Lorelai (Rory).
Rory & Glow Worm (by vociferous.)
The Glow Worm I got for her was a big hit today! :)
Rory & Daddy (by vociferous.)
Rory (by vociferous.)
Rory (by vociferous.)
It’s going to be really hard to go back to LA after being around this cuteness.

December 14th, 2009

O Christmas Tree

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

Forgive me, this is mostly going to be a photo post. :) I borrowed a tripod from Derek and took some gorgeous photos of our tree, including some macros/close-ups (well I used a macro lens anyway) of some of my favorite ornaments.

Christmas Tree (by vociferous.)
We love the Christmas tree this year. We had a few little mishaps – the trunk was too short for our tree stand, and then the bowl they put on the tree at the lot started leaking, so we had to make a quick fix – but it turned out really gorgeous. Derek loves it too. :) And it smells so good! Growing up, my parents didn’t really ever buy real Christmas trees, we always put up a fake one (until I moved out, then they started getting real ones, what the heck, mom?!). There’s really no comparison, though… The real one smells so good, and it looks so much better!

Christmas Tree (by vociferous.)
The lights are LED lights and kind of have a blue tint to them. On long exposures, with a white balance set to cut out the orange light coming in from the courtyard lamps, they look super blue. I kind of like it!

Christmas Tree (by vociferous.)
See? Orange lights! It looks like the courtyard is on fire or something.

Monster (by vociferous.)
This little guy was made by my good friend Christin last year. I like to think he’s protecting the tree. :)

Snowmen (by vociferous.)
I’m so happy to have my own little ornament collection. They’re mostly blue, green and silver – and last year I found these adorable snowmen ornaments at Target, which fit perfectly!

Love (by vociferous.)
When we get flat cards or photos I like to put them on the tree. This one my grandma had printed and sent to us, it’s a great picture of us. :)

Fishie (by vociferous.)
Here’s my fishie! I’m a huge marine biology nerd — Chrissy even made me a clownfish hat, I’ll have to get photos soon! — and so when I saw this little fishie I had to have him. My ex’s mom bought him for me at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York a few years ago. He’s still one of my favorites. :)

"Angel of Learning" (by vociferous.)
My mom gave me this Angel of Learning for my tree. I love how the light was shining on her in this photo.

Vino (by vociferous.)
And this one was from my friend Kelly. Along with our friend Sarah, we share a very special almost sisterly bond — that is best served with a nice pinot noir!

You may be wondering, with my professed Buddhist tendencies and lack of a strong religious sense, why do I have a Christmas tree? Well, in the next few days I have a big entry planned, in which I’ll talk all about what the holiday season means to me! Be on the lookout.

Until then, take care, stay warm and enjoy the holidays!

December 8th, 2009

Sneak Peek: Holidays!

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

So, even though Derek and I are going to be in separate places for Christmas (I’ll be in Indiana with my family, he’ll be in San Francisco with his) we decided to get a tree anyway.

Unfortunately, since it’s getting dark so early (seriously, like 5pm, ick!), I haven’t been able to get any really good photos of our tree just yet, but I did manage to snap a couple with my iPhone to give everyone a little sneak preview!

Christmas Tree '09
Our tree! For those of you who remember what our apartment looks like from way back when I posted photos of it, we put the tree in front of our gorgeous little bay window. :)

And here are two of my favorite ornaments:
Monster in the Tree
This little monster was lovingly made by my dear friend Christin, who happens to sell some of her beautiful handmade goodies on Etsy – Love California. He’s very fitting for our household, especially since Derek refers to me as a “little monster” on a pretty regular basis.

Fishie!
And this is my Fishie! I got him back in New York, I think at Macy’s on 5th Avenue? He was a gift from a friend, she offered to buy me one gorgeous ornament to get my tree started. And I chose Fishie! After all, I love fishies! :)

Jess & the Tree
I love our tree. It’s smaller than last year’s (about 6 feet tall total, I think? maybe a little less) and it’s just cute. Plus it makes our apartment smell amazing, and curling up on the couch with a cup of tea, a blanket and the light from the tree is a wonderful way to unwind after a long day. Love it. :)

This weekend I’ll be able to get a few daytime shots, and maybe some really pretty night shots as well, and I’ll write up a little entry about what Christmas means to me. So be on the lookout for that goodness sometime this weekend! :)

December 7th, 2009

What It’s Like

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Originally published at lianhua.nu. Please leave any comments there.

“I have to work the day after Christmas, I’m so depressed!”
“If this game goes into overtime I’m going to kill myself.”
“Waiting for the next episode is going to give me an anxiety attack!”
“I’m totally OCD about spelling! I can’t leave a misspelled word alone!”

While I realize that Twitter is practically a huge bucket of melodrama – everything seems to be exaggerated when compressed into 140 characters – quotes like the ones above (which are pretty much direct quotes from random people on Twitter) really frustrate me. And not just on Twitter; practically every day I hear someone lament how depressed they are or how they’re going to kill themselves or how they’re practically having an anxiety attack or how they’re suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s just people exaggerating, Jess. What’s the problem?

Well, those are some pretty powerful phrases people are throwing around. Depression, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, anxiety and OCD are not really very light things to deal with, especially if you actually, truly deal with them.

When I get depressed, people don’t know about it. I don’t tell hardly anyone that I’m depressed. Why? Because, for me, depression is like a huge weight that’s laying on top of you. You can’t get out of bed. You can barely move. You ache all over and you feel like just sobbing because it’s crushing you. You don’t go to work. You can barely tell the people you love what’s wrong – and even if you do, you have no idea how to explain how it happened. It hurts to be depressed. And chances are you don’t talk about it openly on Twitter – or anywhere, for that matter. You don’t want everyone to know.

Anxiety is pretty similar. Usually I can function a little better when I’m just feeling anxious, but there have been a few times when I’ve gotten halfway to work, started to freak out and had to summon every ounce of strength in my body to not turn around and run — literally, run — home. Again, you feel like sobbing. You can feel the adrenaline gripping every muscle, and they start to ache from being tensed so hard. You can’t catch your breath very easily. It’s terrifying. And this time, you can’t tell anyone, because you’re so terrified that you can’t even speak.

And in both cases, you feel like a failure. You couldn’t get out of bed, so you just laid there and cried, and then you cry more because you just laid there and cried through the entire day. Something negative caught you off-guard at work and you had to excuse yourself and hide in the bathroom, and then you didn’t want to come out because you knew you’d just run away to hide.

And, while I’m not personally OCD nor do I have very acute obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and it’s been a very long time since I felt like I wanted to die, I know the feelings are similar. You can’t control it. You can’t easily get past it. You’re stuck in that moment, in that feeling, and it’s so hard to get out of it – but only you can do it, and you can only do it by focusing so hard on everything else — if that even works at all.

Especially if you’ve been going through some sort of treatment for your issues, when you relapse you feel ashamed. You don’t want to have those feelings anymore, so when, uncontrollably, you do, you feel like you’ve failed yourself. You feel hopeless – like it’s never really going to get better.

Mental illness is a disability – reasonable accommodations for psychiatric issues are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. And those of us who have to deal with it on a daily basis — and it really is pretty much a daily basis — know exactly how disabling it can be.

Sure, tiny little things can set it off, but generally the relapses/attacks/episodes/whatever you want to call them are literally disabling. A spelling mistake is not likely to make most people fly into a tizzy where they can’t think straight and nothing is right. It’s rare that someone commits suicide because of a game going into overtime. Anxiety attacks usually are triggered by something a little more gripping than the season finale cliffhanger. And, although there are exceptions, a missed phone call is not going to be the only reason one spirals into a depression.

So please, think before you speak…
It’s not that bad. Trust me.

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