Drowning

I feel like I’m drowning.

I know I’m a drama queen, but I don’t see any point in lying about how I feel on Nine to Phive. Especially when hardly anyone reads this blog since I’ve gotten so lax about updating it. No one will be fooled, if you know what I mean.

A Muse performance at ELEV8 conference this year. I thought it was sufficiently depressing.

Maybe it’s because I now have an IC flareup for two weeks out of the month. Every month.

Maybe it’s because I’m scared to death that I won’t be able to keep a full-time job, let alone a job in the highly impractical field that I love.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had to take a 19-credit load this semester just to graduate on time (barely). Oh, and those extra credits? They cost me $800 of over-enrollment fees.

Maybe it’s because two of Muse’s biggest performances of the semester are over and I don’t feel relieved. No less busy. No less stressed. No less out of breath.

Maybe it’s because, after two and a half years of marriage, I feel like I should have worked out so many of the selfish struggles that my newlywed friends seem to have no problem with after just a few months.

Maybe it’s because I feel guilty turning to my family for support when they’re struggling just as much as me right now.

Maybe it’s because I love God, love my church, and love my brothers and sisters in Christ, but can’t find the time or energy to invest in my personal spiritual life.

Maybe it’s because I want more than anything to write freely–stories, poetry, journals, grocery lists, bucket lists, this blog–and I can’t even find time to do my required writing for class.

Maybe this is my life now.

Struggling.
Fighting.
Keeping my head above water. 

 Drowning.

I thought graduating this spring would feel like a weight being lifted, but as I approach commencement with all of this and more baggage (some of which won’t disappear the moment I walk across that stage), I feel as though it’s just a doorway into different and heavier weights pressing down on me.

Pressing down on my lungs . . . 
On my heart . . . 
On my spirit . . . 
I’m broken . . .

Drowning . . .

Oh, and a drama queen. There’s that, too.

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Awkward and Awesome Valentine


Awkward:

  • The puffy-eyed lady above is coming up on two weeks with an IC flare-up. I’m honestly exhausted and pretty depressed, but nothing can make me smile like a goofball the way Josh can.
  • Rethinking going back on the IC diet. Goodbye fruit and chocolate . . .
  • Exam and a project due at the same time–on Valentine’s Day. I’m not feeling very loved, lol.
  • ALDIs now sells authentic Spanish cheese. We’re stocking up and pigging out!
  • Josh has a cold, and there is a tissue stuffed up his nose as I write this. Haha, can you tell I’m tired and can’t think of much to say? 🙂
  • As much as I hate to admit it, Kourtney & Kim Take Miami is fascinating. I actually find myself relating *shudder* to Kourtney and Scott . . .

Awesome:

  • My sweet, supportive hubby who waits on me while I’m sick and heats up my corn bag ten times an hour.
  • We had a great dinner of Spanish-style potato salad and pork loin. I’ve missed this stuff!
  • Class was cancelled for tomorrow, so winter break is officially on!
  • Romantic brunch tomorrow ❤ Hopefully I’ll be feeling better so that we can have a real Valentine’s Day date.
  • The Thurstons are coming for a visit this Saturday. This is the first time they’ve visited our apartment!
  • They’re bringing our new dining room table with them 😀

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: You’re Hot, Then You’re Cold

Okay, there’s not quite this much snow anymore.

Awkward:

  • The wind! It’s always been cold here, but now . . . oh, the wind!
  • First IC-flareup/infection while being in Spain. I’m so used to them that going two months without one had almost convinced me that I was cured.
  • Nightmares every friggin’ night. Boring, realistic nightmares . . . like my sister won’t talk to me anymore or my dad is telling people at work that he’s embarrassed by me.  Give me sleep.
  • Heater that stays off all day when you are freezing on the tile floors, and then blasts on at night when you’re piled under heaps of blankets.
  • Applying to be a co-admin on one of my favorite fashion sites only to find out that the deadline already passed because of the time difference 😦
  • Not being able to afford to visit Italy. End of world.

Awesome:
  • Cleaning. Feels so good.
  • Hot chamomile tea with anise. A) Why do you taste so good while making me feel so much better? You make Pepto-Bismol seem like Jack Daniels! B) Why have I not had you before?
  • Having hot and cold running water. How often do we take this for granted?
  • Cereal with hot milk. The other gals think it’s mad awkward, by I think the Spaniards are geniuses! Who wants cold cereal on a cold morning? Plus, if you start with chocolate cereal there’s hot chocolate in the bottom when you’re done.
  • Speaking of hot chocolate, found out the hard way that Spanish hot a chocolate is not a drink, but rather hot chocolate pudding in a cup.
  • Hot husband. Haha, just thought I’d sneak that in there since everything else I mentioned was “hot.”
  • The trailer I just happened to stumble upon for the upcoming Rock of Ages movie that I did not know existed. Eighties rock x Broadway musical = where have you been all of my life?
  • Segovia day trip tomorrow!
  • Cheap bus tickets
  • I Waste So Much Time. The name says it all.
  • Being able to read and understand (I think) Hispanic literature ❤

Starving Artist: Fruit Custard Pie

Can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but blueberries, melons, and pears are the ONLY fruits I can safely eat while on the IC diet.For all I know, others won’t make me flare up, but it’s always better not to risk it. I’ve been eating my fair share of pears and melons and enjoying them thoroughly, but those two flavors are not commonly found in muffins, cereal bars, fruit juices, etc. so I have been experiencing total blueberry overload!

I am getting through this OD of blueberries by experimenting with unique recipes. This fruit custard pie recipe is one that I made up last year using cherry pie filling and almond extract. I called it Jergens pie at the time. Get it? Jergens lotion is made with cherry and almond extracts! Haha!

Yeah, I know. It didn’t make a lot of people want to eat it.

Anyway, I realized that this simplest of pies could easily be made with any fruit pie filling. I would have loved to experiment with all sorts of flavors, but naturally, I ended up going with blueberry.

Fruit Custard Pie:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can fruit pie filling (your choice)
1 pie crust (homemade or premade)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Combine ingredients into what turned out in my case to be a lovely shade of purple. With cherry pie filling, you will end up with pink. Peach filling would probably give you . . . surprise surprise . . . peachBlend well. No matter how cool the swirlies look in your batter, they will not make for yummy pie . . . or pie that even stays together when you take it out of the oven.

Place your pie crust into a pie plate and trim around the edge of the plate. Flute edges with a fork. Make it pretty :-). Add your filling and distribute evenly.

Bake at 400 degrees  for about 40 minutes or until crust is a nice golden brown. Estimate on the longer end. Just because your exposed crust has begun to turn doesn’t mean that the crust underneath your (very wet) filling is done cooking.

Isn’t that just easy as pie! You don’t even need the recipe. Pun completely intended, by the way.

Rachel likey! And looky likey goofball.

 As you could tell from the first picture in the post, the results were quite satisfactory to those involved. Two disclaimers: The color looks way less nice after cooking. It gets a bit brownish. Also, the texture of this pie is not like a typical fruit pie (hence the custard aspect). It has a texture very similar to pumpkin pie or a somewhat runny cheesecake.

Now go and try this with every other fruit EXCEPT blueberry! I can’t take it anymore!

Starving Artist: Pumpkin Cupcakes

I’ve been really bummed lately by how few desserts are available to me since I’m not supposed to eat fruit, chocolate, and most nuts. Well, guess what? Pumpkin, the king of fall food staples, IS A VEGETABLE!

Not only is the following recipe completely IC-safe, this is perhaps literally the easiest and most delicious fall treat you will ever make. It requires two ingredients–four if you want the cream cheese frosting (which you do, I guarantee).

I got this earth-shattering idea from Sweet Verbena who got it from Big Red Kitchen. Gotta love the blogger community.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 box cake mix
1 (15oz) can pumpkin pie filling

1 block cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
optional: 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the pumpkin pie filling and cake mix. This will take some serious blending since the pumpkin is the only liquid going into the mixture. Blend thoroughly, crushing any powdery lumps, until a nice thick batter is formed.

Best thing about this batter? No raw eggs, so you can eat as much as you want without fear of salmonella! Josh took full advantage of this perk.

Grease muffin tins and fill them generously. These cupcakes will expand a lot in the oven, but they will settle again, becoming very dense, moist, and reasonably sized. Of course, you have to bake them first. try 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes for regular cake batter and 25-30 minutes for the extra moist variety. In all honesty, I would not recommend extra moist cake mix, as this recipe lends itself towards very moist cupcakes by nature.

While your niblets of yumminess bake, blend together the cream cheese and powdered sugar to make an easy and delicious frosting.

Final step: Accept your friend’s offer to come over after the play he wrote and directed which you and your husband were in to frost the cupcakes for you. Be sure to give him one for himself and one to take to his girlfriend. Oh wait, this doesn’t apply to you? You don’t have a Greg Coles offering to ice your baked goods for you?

Alas, how sad I am for you 😉

IC-Safe Dinner and Art

So I binged a bit last night at the progressive dinner. I had a delicious mug of hot cider, a chocolate truffle, a piece of apple crisp, and a mini cheesecake with cherries on it. Yes, my weakness came upon me come dessert time. By the grace of God, I didn’t experience a flare-up, but I still figured I’d play it safe in terms of tonight’s dinner.
Beef tortellini in a zesty cream sauce,
Spring mix salad, and
Low acid orange juice drink
I say orange juice drink because it is not pure orange juice. Even though I bought Tropicana’s low acid variety of orange juice, most people coping with IC agree that (if you can’t live without things like juices and sodas) watering down iffy beverages can make them bearable. All juice is very risky because of all of the fiber. I added a cup of water to the juice, shook it up, and then added a few tablespoons of honey to avoid the watery taste. Not only is honey a soothing agent for the bladder, it also makes this vitamin-C-rich beverage perfect for fighting off sore throats this cold season.
Okay, now for the actual meal.
The salad is super self-explanatory. Finding an IC-safe dressing will be the tricky part what with all the soy and preservatives lurking in everything, but I’ll work something out.
For the pasta sauce, I made a simple roux with butter, flour, and some milk. Then I added some parmesan and mild cheddar cheeses, as well as a little cream cheese. I seasoned it with roasted red pepper flakes, basil, salt, and black pepper. I then added some of Wegmans’ great premade tortellini in the beef-filled variety (cooked, of course).
What a delightfully sun-shiney little autumn day dinner! “Sun-shiney” is one of my favorite adjectives, which is unfortunate in the light of the fact that I am an English major and it is not an actual word, hyphenated or otherwise.
Also, since my diagnosis, I have found several amazing websites and forums designed by sufferers of interstitial cystitis as resources and support groups. The most fascinating and captivating of these is Art for IC.
It’s as if the site was designed specifically for people like me for whom art is such a part of our lives that it is our means of coping with life’s difficulties. This website, which is cited as “A gallery of hopes, fears & inspiration shared by those living with interstitial cystitis,” is completely breathtaking. While reading about the depths of suffering I have to look forward to was quite depressing at first, ultimately I loved knowing that I was not alone in my sickness. I’m not even alone as an artist dealing with sickness.
While the site is mostly populated by poetry and personal essays, there is some visual art featured. Most compelling are the various self-portraits depicting how artists see themselves in terms of the disease.
“Rage” by Melynn
“Impenitent, This Pain” by Janie Miranda
Here is a sample of the site’s poetry:
SHE
By Marguerite Bouvard
Excerpted from the book The Body’s Burning Fields (available on Amazon).

She looks back at me
from the mirror, paints
dark circles beneath my eyes,
brushes my skin with chalk.
She extinguishes the spark
in my glance, assaults me
in mid-air when I spring
through days, stripping me
naked, pummeling my landscape
with invisible mortar. I keep on
turning the pages,
walk down the street,
have dinner with friends.
No one can see her
but me. She makes me leave
the party while everyone
is still laughing and talking.
she is carving out
a blank space somewhere,
erasing my name.

I’m so grateful to have found this beautiful community <3. Maybe some day in the future I will write something to post for them.