JAEMIE.com

a work in progress

Paused

I feel like my life is paused.

For the past year, give or take, my life has been paused. It began last year with the sudden closing of the company that I worked for and it continues with my searching to find a job.

Searching for a job is hard work. There are many jobs posted daily, but you have to carefully sift through them to find viable options. First, there is the spam: HubPages and VistaPrint need to be banned from posting job openings anywhere, ever. Then there are the mislabeled jobs: Engineering is not marketing and road design is not graphic design. Then you have to figure out exactly where a position is located: Sure, Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, but listing the actual neighborhood/region would be more helpful to a job seeker. And a few organizations need to consult a map and locate Pittsburgh on it before they list a location as Pittsburgh. Ohio is not Pittsburgh.

Then you start to feel guilty and nervous and like you’re not doing anything right.

Am I doing enough? Did I apply to enough jobs today? I did laundry this morning instead of applying to jobs, maybe I missed something? There weren’t any positions that are suitable for me today, should I apply to something random anyway? I took yesterday off, now I’m never going to get a job. I applied to this job two weeks ago, but they just reposted it. What does that mean? So-and-so wants me to design a brochure for them for free because “I’m not doing anything.” I applied to this position that I am 100% suitable for and my resume and cover letter clearly show that, but it’s a month later and they still haven’t contacted me. What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t anyone like me? I’m a terrible human being and no one wants to tell me, right? They wanted applications by January 1, but it’s two months later and they haven’t even begun to review them? Why did I promise them my first born and swear a blood oath if they’re going to make me wait six months before talking to me? 

And so on…

So, what have I learned? 1) Being overqualified sucks. There is no elegant or polite way to say it: it just sucks. I understand that being overqualified for a position makes a person seem like a flight risk after a few months, but it is still disappointing to hear over and over and over again when you want to go back to work as soon as possible. 2) I needed to expand my job search area to include options where I will have to relocate if I accept an offer. I tried to avoid it, but now I’m 100% onboard with it. 3) I know where I’m willing to relocate and where I’m not. 4) I hate having my resume and contact information posted publicly. I want to be able to stop answering every phone call from an unknown number “just in case.”

Thankfully, I’ve had a few great interviews, and I’m in the running for a few great opportunities. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting. I completely understand that I need to be patient, but I am more than ready and willing to get back to work.

The one thing that bothers me more than anything else about this situation is that I can’t plan anything, and I am a born planner. I know that once I receive and accept an offer, I will have a million things to plan, but right now everything is paused. I know what I’ll need to plan for but, without details, it’s not necessary.

I know I’ll have to plan for how to arrange my routines so that I can commute to work while I’m figuring out relocation/moving plans. I know I’ll have to plan to search for new housing. I know I’ll have to plan to coordinate the actual move. I know I’ll have to plan to settle into the new housing and community. I know I’ll have to plan to get a few things back on track that have been on hold due The Unknown. I know that I’ll finally be able to plan out a training plan and follow through with it without feeling guilty or like I’m doing something unproductive.

Soon, The Unknown will no longer be an excuse. Fingers crossed. It is a valid excuse, but it’s not one that I like. I am looking forward to having a sense of what my life will look like in a week, a month, or even a year. Not being tied to a schedule is not as freeing as one would think. Not having semi-concrete plans or a life framework to function within kind of sucks.

So, for now, I remain paused … but hopeful.

In Lieu of an Ice Bucket

Anna Mae Furgiuele

I get it. Some of you are growing tired of the videos. Many people don’t get it: Why are people dumping ice on their heads in August? Where’s the challenge in that? Some are getting annoyed: How does dumping water on your head help people with ALS? You’re wasting clean water? Quit showboating and just donate! Others are (ignorantly) angry: Maybe if this was for cancer or something serious, I would see the point. (While I wish I were making up that comment, I read that as a response to someone asking what the deal is with the Challenge on Facebook.)

But, to me, to my family, and to many others like us, this is important. We are an ALS family. Sure, the whole dousing yourself with icy water instead of or as well as donating to the ALS Association is a bit silly, but who cares? The Challenge is raising awareness by encouraging people to talk about ALS. People are looking up information about the disease to find out what it is and to find out why spreading awareness is important. The Challenge is also raising an unprecedented amount of donations ($22.9 million so far) for the cause.

This matters. A lot.

21 years ago, my family and I lost my grandmother, Anna Mae Orris Furgiuele to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I was ten years old, and I wasn’t able to fully comprehend what happened at the time, but I knew that my grandmother had been sick. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of sick she was, but I knew that it was rapidly taking pieces of her.  In a few short years she had progressed from being mobile to using a walker to using a wheelchair to bed-bound in a nursing home. She had gone from living on her own in an apartment to living with my aunt and uncle to living in a nursing home.

Anna Mae Furgiuele

One of my last memories of my grandmother is happy-sad. My mom and I had gone to visit her in the nursing home like we did a few times a week. I always hated going to visit her in the nursing home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see my grandma, it was because nursing homes are slightly terrifying to an 8-9-10-year-old. I’m sure they aren’t fun for the residents either. The nursing home always smelled like urine. A resident was always yelling or crying or screaming loudly. Someone who wasn’t fully in touch with reality always thought that you were someone that they knew or that was there to see them.

My mom and I were in my grandma’s room for a bit before my mom went to talk to the nurses at the desk. There was always something to complain about or confirm. I was 9-years-old, so I’m not quite sure what was going on, but I knew that my grandmother didn’t always get the best care. The nurses didn’t seem to understand – or care – that my grandmother was still there mentally and fully aware of what was going on. I’m not saying that my grandmother always had subpar care, but I know that it was quite a battle for my family to make sure that she had the best care and treatment.

My mother left me and my grandmother alone for a few minutes, and it wasn’t a big deal. I was used to spending time with Grandma. The television was on, and we communicated the best that we could. At that point, it was getting difficult for my grandmother to speak clearly enough for my 9-year-old self to understand. I struggled to understand the message she was trying to convey to me. I knew it was important because she was determined to get the words out. She spoke slowly and kept repeating words. She mentioned her engagement ring, that she wanted me to have it, that she wanted me to wear it, and something about my wedding. She made me promise that I would take the ring and wear it. It took awhile for me to understand what she was saying. I know that she said more than those bits, but it was upsetting for her and she was crying, having difficulty breathing, and she sounded almost angry, almost yelling as she was explaining this to me. I know that I was getting panicked. Nine-year-old me was afraid that I had done something wrong and that I had upset my grandmother. My mom came back to the room, and my grandmother calmed down, but this memory sticks with me.

As an adult, I can understand that in that moment my grandmother knew what was happening to her body and she realized that she wouldn’t be around as I grew up and got married. I remember the look in her eyes as she struggled to get out a few sentences and how frustrated she was that she couldn’t tell me what she wanted to without scaring me. It’s a memory that gets sadder with time because I’m old enough now to realize what that moment really meant. It’s a happy memory, too, because my grandmother wanted to be sure that she could share something with me to hold onto into my adulthood.

If you have participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, if you have donated, or even if you have just taken a moment to understand what ALS is, I want to thank you. No matter how silly or annoying this is, it is important to someone. It is definitely important to me.

I challenge you to take a moment today to read the information I have linked in this post, and I encourage you to join me in donating whatever you are able to donate (time, money, etc.) to the ALS Association .

Anna Mae Furgiuele

2013: My Year in Photos

Jack & Nora

I spent a lot of time with these two fur faces.

Polar Plunge

I turned thirty, then I willingly jumped into this frozen lake for charity.

Old job. New job.

I left my job after five years and started a new one.

Let's go Pens!

I went to my first of many Pittsburgh Penguins games. Let’s go Pens!

Run!

I ran. And then I ran some more.

Flying Pig Half Marathon

I ran my first half marathon. Then I registered for my first full marathon in 2014.

Let's go Pens!

There was a lot of hockey. Paul Mart! Kuni! Nealer!
(Yeah, I don’t know how this happened either.)

Bum hip, cat catchers, new toys, craft projects!

Clockwise from top left:
1) I found out that I have a bum right hip, but hooray for chiropractors.
2) My furkids are adorable.
3) Ryan and I attempted to see the Perseids Meteor Shower and got to make this lovely planisphere with a bunch of elderly people.
4) My MacBook Pro was on its last leg, so … UPGRADE.
5) No photo, but I am thankful for heartburn and colonoscopies … and being cancer free.

Color Me Rad.

Ryan and I ran Color Me Rad in Pittsburgh. My blue beard is courtesy of Ryan, of course.

Tattoo!

So, um, I got my first tattoo.

Full Moon Float.

We did a Coal Tubin’ Full Moon Float down the river with a bunch of strangers.

Goofball.

I spent a lot of time with this goofball.

Selfies!

I continued to grow out my hair … and it continued to get wavy.
I have no idea what to do with it, but I’m learning.

Goofballs and bedhead.

2012 sucked. 2013 was awesome. Here’s to hoping that 2014 is even better.

I wish you lots of love, happiness, good health, and adventure in 2014. ♥

Replacement Parts

POP.

That’s the sound my right hip has been making for months now. I stand up from a seated position: pop. I sit down with my knees slightly apart: pop. I finish a run and stretch: pop.

My body has been snapping, crackling, and popping for as long as I can remember. I’m the girl who has had arthritic knees since she was a teenager. So when this new popping started, I didn’t think anything of it. I figured that it just came with the territory (being thirty and having a history of arthritic joints), and that it was just another thing added to my list of things to live with.

Fast forward to after the Flying Pig Half Marathon (post forthcoming). I ran a few weeks later and something felt off. My gait wasn’t the same, and there was just something not quite right with my right hip. It didn’t quite hurt, but it didn’t really feel good either. I let it go for a few more weeks, thinking that it was just due to over training, exhaustion, and whatever else comes with running your first half marathon.

Then the waking up in pain in the middle of the night started. I’m a side sleeper, and when I can’t sleep on my right side, I am NOT a happy camper. Last week, having thought back, trying to remember the last time I slept through the night without waking up in pain, I realized that I haven’t slept through the night since May. Two months of not sleeping through the night is not cool, and something needed to be done. I called a chiropractor and set up my very first appointment.

The assessment was very thorough and informative. They asked a lot of questions, took several X-rays, and evaluated my range of motion. As we went through everything, I was starting to realize how weak and limited my right hip and leg are. (I had noticed that my right foot/leg kind of shuffle when I run, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.) I went back today for a follow up after the doctor had time to review my X-rays, and she went through them with me, showing me the bone-on-bone contact that my right hip is making in the joint and showing me how off balance my hips are (my right hip sits much higher and more forward than my left).

So I wasn’t being a big baby about my pain. It’s a real thing with a real cause!

replacement-parts

Then the doctor said something that I wasn’t really prepared to hear: “We need to treat this now to avoid a hip replacement. You don’t want a hip replacement. You’re a runner. You don’t want one. They’re painful, and they only last for about ten years before you’ll need another one.” No, I don’t want a hip replacement. I had tears in my eyes when she said this (and as I write this) because this was the first time I had ever considered the possibility of my not being able to run. Right now I have the choice to run or not to run. I have a choice.

Right now I’m struggling with running. Part of it is because of the pain I endure after the run, part of it is because of the weather (storms or heat – I can’t win), and part of it is because I’m struggling with some issues about my training process (post forthcoming). Realizing that running is my choice really put things into perspective for me. Of course, I’m not allowed to run for at least two weeks. Doctor’s orders. And what do I want to do? Run.

If I don’t treat this now, in the future running might not be a choice for me to make. My doctor walked me through a treatment plan and explained how it will add more “space” around the joint so that the pressure will be taken off of the joint and I will be able to run pain free. It’s a pretty intensive plan: treatment three times a week for four weeks, then two times a week for four weeks, then either once a month or once every six weeks. All I have to say is that I am thankful to have insurance that covers this treatment, that I found a doctor that I like, that my doctor is confident that this can be treated through therapy instead of surgery.

Often we forget that most of the time we have the option to make choices, but sometimes we don’t have options and the decision is made for us. Universe, thanks for the reminder.