The In-Between State

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Life for me lately has been a confusing cocktail of emotions. The ups and downs seem to be spiking higher and more close together than usual. I’ve tried hard to grasp onto one train of thought to ease the insanity, but I find that more and more challenging by the day. Since I do not see any other immediate solution, I have just surrendered to this being the way things are right now. I have no solid foundation, no true routine to stick to, and no sense of groundedness or security. I came across an excerpt on the Internet from Pema Chödrön’s The Places That Scare You:

Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not only hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength.

This quote is everything for me. I am in such an in-between state in my life right now- I’m leaving my home of seventeen years, I’m leaving my best friends, I’m leaving my whole life as I’ve known it. And while I know that this is an awesome thing, I can’t help but want to check the fuck out of the fear that keeps arising. I’m not ready to face saying goodbye to the people that have been my everything for so long. Just typing that makes my eyes watery. I’m smart enough to know that no goodbye is permanent and that distance isn’t a bad thing. But there are times when my heart can’t embrace that. It’s in these moments where I catch myself trying to avoid the uncomfortable sensations. I have the urge to distract myself and try to be anywhere but here. But the more I try to get away from here the harder it is to just be.

I’m finding clarity in this moment. I’m about to purge the crap out of my closet. I’m getting rid of things I don’t need, things that no longer serve me. And I recognize that change is good. I get to start with a clean slate. How cool is that? For now I will be taking Pema’s advice and be “…brave enough to stay in the middle.”

Fifteen Things I’ve Learned in Miami

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Oh, Miami. You’ve earned your right to the “Sunny Place, Shady People” slogan. You’ve got an incredible combo of gorgeous beaches, a plethora of Hispanic food, and even a bath-salts-consuming face-eating zombie under your belt. You’re quite the place. And in my seventeen years of residency, I’ve learned many a lessons from your gruesome awesomeness.

1. Good drivers are rare.
No, seriously. Between the insane taxi drivers, the non-existent blinkers, and the crazily diverse demographic of underprivileged people who were awarded licenses for no clear justification, driving is a fucking trip! Watch out.

2. You’ll probably get hit by a motor vehicle at some point if you stay long enough.
Twice. Once on rollerblades, once on my skateboard. Neither stopped to see if I was alive. shocker.

3. Your cafe con leche is the shit.
No comment necessary. I’m already dreading this breakup.

4. So is every other edible/drinkable Cuban item.
Whether its guarapo, deep fried empanadas, or a classic pan con bistek, Cuban food is a party in your mouth.

5. There’s no city anthem, but there is Pitbull.
If you can’t get down and shake your ass to some brilliantly lyrical reggaeton (Don Omar, Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, just to name a few), then you’re either a JAP and can’t dance much anyways, or you didn’t actually grow up here. (By the way, Jews can dance, if you’ve been to a Mitzvah, you know this. But there is a whole separate class of them that rather stand away from the dance floor and frown down upon your American Apparel leggings and thrifty cargo boots while you twerk to Gasolina.)

6. Twerking is a way of life.
Okay, that might be extreme, but if you live here, you’ve either observed or willingly taken part in the quadriceps strengthening island dance whilst out at Purdy Lounge or regretfully, Finnegans.

7. If you’re a woman, you will be groped.
I don’t advise strutting your stuff down Washington Avenue past a crowded Cameo in your stretchy Lululemon tights around the midnight hour. I won’t elaborate, just take the advice.

8. Whole Foods is a shit show.
Okay, so apparently this over priced organic haven is developing this reputation all across the map, but seeing as it’s pretty much the only health food store on The Beach (Fresh Market, you aight) this place is a zoo. Between stolen iPhones, psychotic parking lot antics, and your friendly pachouli wearing hippies, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your gluten free cookies in a paradox of emotions.

9. 80% of your big time yoga teachers are full fledged pot heads.
While you’re blissfully basking in the amazingness of your savasana after Hot Yoga, your instructor is taking a shortcut to samadhi and toking it up in the bathroom. Sorry to let the cat out of the bag Miami Yoga Community.

10. Your beach is glorious.
With its crystal blue and eighty five degrees of perfect, this ocean is bound to be one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. Heck, I’ll take the jellyfish and the sharks if I can bake on this lovely island for a few hours everyday.

11. Being heartbroken here sucks.
Okay, being heartbroken anywhere sucks. But when you’re constantly being harassed and hollered at on your tearful walk home, it’s easy to lose a little faith in humanity.

12. You’ll have many a bikes stolen.
You mean to tell me that the local Mexican papi down the street bought that Fuji Altamira with the electric pink crossbar? Puuuhhhlease. And I’m not saying he stole it, but I’m suggesting that he could’ve purchased it for fifty bucks to support someone’s crack habit…

13. Drugs.
Whether its pot, Molly, cocaine, or some good ol’ Special K if you’re feeling ballsy, you know a dealer or know someone who does. You’ve also seen a handful of overdoses and/or arrests because of said narcotics. Hopefully you’ve concluded by now that drugs really do not facilitate any sort of healthy balanced lifestyle and you’ve had the full realization that you’re much better off without them.

14. Community is everything.
In such a seemingly shallow and fake city, finding a close-knit group of like-minded loving people really saves your ass. You’ll be grateful for these connections and miss them terribly when you’re away.

15. You’ll realize how strong you are.
Whether its learning how to navigate around scooters during Memorial Day weekend, understanding as much Spanglish as possible, discovering how to deal with belligerent drunks in the wee hours while you get morning coffee, or getting way too many parking tickets, you’ll be a master of emotional clarity and you will be able to deal with high-strung situations. Sometimes it takes leaving to know just how well you can “cope with crazy”.

Miami is an insanely bizarre, cluster-fuck of a place. But it is also a beautiful, hot, sub-tropic paradise. And while I can’t say growing up here has been terribly easy, I can say that it’s been worth it. I might not speak so fondly of you, Miami, but I will indeed, rep the the 305 till I die.

Finding Peace in the ER

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In times of great sadness, I write. In times of immense happiness, I write. When a huge wave of fear comes over me, again, I write. It is times when life is clear and easy that I fail to feel motivated to take the words out of my neurotic mind and document them.

I know the emergency room at Mt. Sinai like the back of my hand. It’s a zoo in here as usual. There’s a man in the room next to me, letting out cries of pain every two minutes or so. There have been three women pass by me in labor. There’s a juvenile guy handcuffed to the stretcher directly across from me. This place oozes trauma from its very core. With its fluorescent lighting and alcohol scented countertops, I think most people would be repulsed by the less than ideal ambiance of the Mt. Sinai emergency room… But not me.

When you live with Hereditary Angioedema, the ER is a safe haven. It’s a place where all the mental chatter surrounding an HAE attack can finally take a little break because you know you’re in good hands. It might not be the ideal setting for one to obtain samadhi, but hey, it works for me.

I need to call a friend. No ones answering. I need to call my mom. I don’t want to wake her up with this. Pause. A few intense waves of extreme mental panic. I need to infuse. But my hands are shaking so bad. Will I even be able to stick myself right now? I have to. Pause. Calm. Set up medical supplies. Infuse plasma. Is my airway clear? Voice box is restricted. Pause. Major panic ensues. Get it together Julia. I need to call a cab. Cab doesn’t answer. Should I call an ambulance? Don’t be silly, you don’t do that. Get into passing cab. I need to go Mt. Sinai hospital, please. Being alone in your head here sucks. Is my airway clear? Am I wheezing? I’m okay. Calm. I’m alone. That’s depressing. Will I always be alone? Who will want to put up with this? No one. I will be a crazy cat lady forever. Snap out of it Julia. Just breathe. Calm. But my hands are still shaking. Kids are not in the cards for me. I can’t bring another human being into this life and risk them experiencing this. Tears. This isn’t the time to think about this. But how can I not? I wonder what being normal is like….

This is the clearest breakdown of the mental thought streams that I experienced tonight. As I lay here in the ER, I find peace not only in the knowledge that I am in good hands but in.. Pause. “Code blue room 16” oh, that means someone needs to be resuscitated. I’ve learned that before. Back to what I was saying. The peace doesn’t only stem from being in good hands, but also from ‘being around the block’ so to say. I’ve stared death in the face multiple times in my short life. I’ve been forced to address the most basic human truths- that nothing is permanent and death is the only guarantee. Just in that statement, I find peace. As I let that truth spill into my consciousness, I am humbled. I find myself wanting to hug the people I love, wanting to serve others, wanting to connect more. Every time I’m faced with these insane demons, a wall that I’ve worked so hard to build up inside of me begins to break down. And hey, I might still be a neurotic fuck in my mind most of the time, but under all of that is love. And an insatiable urge to share it at that. And whether writing this is considered crass or courageous, At least I feel clarity. All is love.

Our fears are like dragons guarding our most precious treasures. -Rainer Maria Rilke