But He Leaves You Out Like a Penny in the Rain…

Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/this-is-your-song/

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This is one of my all-time favourite Taylor Swift songs, from way back on her very first album.  It’s beautifully written and painfully relatable.  It has brought me to tears on numerous occasions throughout my teenage years.
I think I find this so relatable as I’m always the one giving out love (too much so most of the time) to people who wind up not caring at all.  While it hurts, the line “it’s not his price to pay” is exactly right.  It isn’t their fault, and no matter how angry you convince yourself to be at them, it is a burden only you can carry, a hurt only you can feel, and a blame only you can shoulder.
Despite all this, I don’t think I’ll ever change.  I’d rather give love away “like it’s extra change” than to close myself off from these feelings.  I’d rather be known as  someone who killed with kindness, even if it is never returned, than someone who was nonchalant.  Some of my friends worry about me getting hurt, but I’m okay with this if it means, even for a short time, someone is feeling wanted, respected, appreciated.  There’s never enough of that in this world.

Teen Age Idol

Who did you idolize as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/teen-age-idol/

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Like many 90s girls, my first celebrity crush was on this guy right here, after watching Titanic a thousand times.  I decked out my whole room in posters, and learnt the movie word for word (a skill I probably still possess today, although I haven’t watched it in a long time to know).  I also avidly watched all his previous movies, and waited eagerly for his new ones to come out.  Even though clearly I was way too young, I’d pretend like one day we’d get married (as you do at 14-years-old).  I’d hoard photos of him on my computer, and my home page was his official website.  This went on for years, until it fizzled out and he was replaced by the Aussie singer Ben Lee.  Now, I have a deepfound respect for Leo, but don’t rush out to see his movies like I did back then.  He’s still my favourite actor, and probably always will be.

Who was your idol back in the day?

J x

Quote Me

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quote-me/

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 I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with quotes, ever since I was about 12-years-old.  I would trawl through different websites, read every book I could get my hands on, and listen to songs I could relate to on repeat.  It’s safe to say, I have a pretty hard time picking my favourite.
The reason I’ve gone with this one is because it’s something that I try to remind myself of a lot.  No matter how many friends you have, how supported you feel, how happy people make you – in the end, they will always put themselves first.  It’s nothing more than human nature, and nothing personal.  We  don’t live in a Disney movie and people will do things that hurt you, make you question yourself…they don’t mean to do it, and often don’t even know about it.
This quote helps me get perspective on these things.  You don’t need anyone else to save you – you can do it yourself, and have been doing it yourself since you were born.  Every tough time you’ve gone through, you’ve survived, and it wasn’t because of anyone else – it was all you.  You are the hero in your life story, and when you realize that, things seem a lot more manageable, even in the worst of circumstances.

iPhone 7 Launch

As those of you who have kept up with my story for awhile know, I work in Telco (for those of you who haven’t – surprise!).  While Telco has a tendency to get busy over Christmas (like all retail), we have a different time of year that brings out the crazy in all our customers, and people storming through the doors.  For us, this happens every September, when Apple announce their latest iGadget and the world goes into meltdown.

There are two types of people who work in Telco – those who can’t stand iPhone launches, and those who live for them.  I am in the latter category, which is lucky, as the iPhone 7 launch was my fifth one, although first in this job.  I worked the 4s, 5, 5s and 6 launches, although unfortunately missed out on the 6s as I was between jobs at the time.  You’d think the novelty would have worn off by now, but you’d be wrong.  If anything, my excitement grows every year.  Seriously, this is my Christmas.  I count down to it.  I love knowing all the nitty, gritty details about what the plan is for the day in advance.  I love reading up on the new phone, ready to answer all the questions that will come flying at me that day.  Previously, I’d spend hours designing posters advertising accessory packs, and drooling over which cases we could have in stock by launch day.  iPhone launch is my thing.

This year promised to be my biggest launch yet – not necessarily for the turnout, but just that I work in the biggest Telco store in the country, a store where the media flock to on a frequent basis.  I’ve never experienced something like that before, and it was so exciting knowing it was coming up.

Let’s step back though.  Back several weeks.  In fact, let’s go back a couple of months.  This is the quietest time in the Telco year.  The calm before the storm.  Our store is right in the middle of two of the busiest roads in the country, so we are always pretty chaotic.  The closer it got to September though, the more often I found myself looking around, expecting a customer to serve, and instead got nothing.  It was a nice change, but I also knew it wouldn’t last.  The one thing all Telco employees hate in this lead-up though is the customers who walk in, proclaiming they know all about the upcoming iPhone and when it will be released and what features it will have.  They believe that because they have mastered how to type “new iPhone” into Google, that they suddenly know more than anyone in the shop, and refuse point blank to believe that anything they read could be a rumour, or made up.  They don’t understand how secretive Apple are, and how very little Telco employees know – I can tell you we get told absolutely nothing.  As far as I’m aware, even Apple employees themselves don’t get told anything.  It’s all on a need-to-know basis with Apple, and as frontline staff, we definitely do not need to know.  So sorry, Mr Customer, if I take what you’re telling me with a very large grain of salt.

The calm goes right through until Apple’s Keynote announcement, which for Aussies, happens at 3am.  From then on, things start picking up again in store, if only for customers walking in, asking to see the phone, and getting frustrated and/or disappointed when we say “it isn’t out yet, it was just announced, come back in a week”.  Still, the storm is well and truely brewing.  The other reason people come in is for pre-orders, which I still find a fairly new concept, as Apple only allowed this for the last three launches.  Prior to that, it was line up or risk missing out.  I’m on the fence about pre-orders – on one hand it’s great as it means customers can get their new iToys quickly without having to take time off work, but on the other, it dampens the spirit of iPhone launch a little bit.  I still remember iPhone 4s launch clear as day, with lines snaking around the shopping complex as people eagerly waited for the chance to grab their own device.  The atmosphere is electric because the people in line knew they’d be the first in the world to get them, and rightly so, as they braved the elements camping out for it.  Now, with pre-orders, people can arrange a phone delivered to their home or office on launch day, all with a couple of clicks.  Not really the same vibe.

Anyway, launch day eve finally rolls around.  In this massive store, an incredible amount of planning has gone into the day, right down to where each staff member is sitting and when they’re going on lunch.  Nobody knows if there will be ten people or a thousand people waiting the next day.  Hell, we don’t even know for sure what stock we’ll have.  All we know is, the storm is about to bare down on us, and we need to be ready to ride it out, whether it’s gritting your teeth and fighting through it, or like me – grabbing a surfboard and enjoying the ride!

Safe to say I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  I was rostered to start at 7am, but got there well before 6.30.  I was buzzing with excitement, so much so I could barely contain myself.  There had been people camping out, but only a handful.  Still, that wasn’t much of an indication of how the day would go, as most of our customers work in the city and would no doubt come in closer to starting-time.

We all grabbed our laptops, food and caffeinated beverages, and listened to the managers give pep talks.  We were given a run down of the plans (again) and told where we’d be sitting.  We then headed downstairs, where they’d set up a red carpet, a DJ booth and bowls and bowls of candy for the customers.  The media were already out in force, with at least 3 different major news carriers there, waiting to film the first customer collecting his iPhone.  There were also famous footy players there to add to the hype.  We all got into a group behind them, where photos were taken, and video was captured that landed on several news stations.

As with all launches, we aren’t allowed to sell any of the phones until 8am.  God help you if you sell one before then!  Apple have ways to track this and you don’t want to piss off one of the largest companies in the world.

As 8am crept closer, we met with all the customers in the line, and then the countdown began.  I’m talking a literal countdown, like on NYE.  Then the doors opened, the the first customer came through the doors, with the media swarming him, asking what it was like to camp out overnight and what it felt like to be one of the first people in the world to get an iPhone 7.  We all got our own customers, and the day was off.

The media hung around for most of the morning, filming everything we were doing.  We had managers walking around, trying to feed us sugar, and our barista was handing out coffees by the trayful.  The music was pumping and all the customers seemed to enjoy the set up.  Despite being very early in the morning for someone like me, I was loving every second of it.

Keyword: was.

By midday, my excitement levels had dropped off a little.  There weren’t as many customers as we’d been hoping for (thanks mostly to our record number of pre-orders), and exhaustion had begun to set in.  By the last hour of my (very long) shift, I was a walking zombie.  I couldn’t even fain excitement any more.  My legs hurt, my eyes were drooping and even my crush couldn’t lift my spirits much.  I’ve never felt that exhausted that early on a launch day.  Usually, I can work through from 7am to 10pm at night and still be buzzing.  I think it came down to the fact that we wound up sitting around a lot instead of being constantly go-go-going, which gave me time to realize how wrecked I was.

Overall, it was a fun day, but I was extremely glad to be told I could leave half an hour early.  The second I got home, I flicked on the TV and counted how many times I was on it – multiple times over three different stations.  Once the news ended, I went straight to bed and slept like the dead.

And if you think that iPhone launch ending also brings the end to the storm, you are dead wrong.  It has been, and will continue to be, absolutely crazy busy for the next several months.  Some days this is great as it makes the shift fly by, and other times, it’s like walking straight into hell.  You are constantly surrounded by masses of people, and when stock is out (which is 90% of the time right now), the only question on everyone’s lips is “when is it back in?”, which we never have an answer for.

Regardless of any of this, next September will leave me counting down until launch again.  It’s addictive and electric and if there comes a day when I’m not in Telco, I’m going to sorely miss it.

How many of you have gotten the new iPhone?

J x

And I’m Back.

Maybe for this one post.  Maybe forever.  Who knows?

I’ve been AFK for a lot longer than I realized.  I mean, I know it’s been awhile, but re-reading my last life-related post, it was last year, when I was still fairly new at my job and had just signed my building contract.  That seems like a lifetime ago.  Could it really only have been nine months ago?

So much has changed, and yet, nothing really has.  I’m still at the same job, but in a much different place mentally.  I’m still single, although there is definitely someone new in my life.  I’m living back at home, but only temporarily – my house is well and truely on it’s way to being done now.  More than that though, I feel like I’m a different person to back then.  Can nine months really change you that much?  I’m not sure.  I think it has though.

In my last post, I had only been at my job three months.  I was feeling new and awkward and vulnerable.  I was shy, I didn’t feel like I knew anyone.  I was just another face in the big crowd of staff.  Flashforward to today, where I feel like I have found my place in the store (front and centre!) and have some wonderful friends there.  I feel like I can pretty much talk to anyone there now, which for an extremely introverted person, and given there’s 80+ people working there, is a big thing.  A very big thing.  It took a long time to find a job after I lost my previous one, but I feel like I was meant to work here.  The job definitely has its downsides (I mean, it is retail) but I still love it.

I’m also currently learning the ropes for management.  This has always been on the cards due to my previous job experience, but I’m super excited it’s finally happening.  At my previous job, it just kind of happened out of necessity – I mean, it’s not that I didn’t want to do it, but there wasn’t any formal invitation to it, and I never got the official title for it, or the pay to match it.  I was just kind of assumed to be doing the role because nobody else could, and because I was already doing it, why should they increase my pay?  It was an extremely frustrating situation to be in, and I’m sure not an entirely uncommon one in the working world.

Anyway, while this is similar in terms of they won’t be increasing my pay anytime soon, the title is given and the whole store knows what’s going on.  Ideally, obviously, I’d love to be paid for it, but I completely understand that they want to train people first and make sure they’ll do well before anything is set in stone.  Either way, I feel much more comfortable with this scenario.  I also feel like, in general, I get a lot of recognition in store.  I touched on this back in my last post, but that was only a small taste of what I get on a regular basis.  It is safe to say that while I knew recognition was a nice thing, I never fully understood how far it goes with job satisfaction.  I feel like this is one of the major reasons why I love working where I do.  All the store leaders go out of their way to highlight when staff are doing well, and are full of encouragement to get everyone doing better.  When I say encouragement, I don’t mean nagging, or shaming, or being negative – all things I’ve received in my last job, and in turn, I’m ashamed to say, have probably been guilty of dishing out too – I mean celebrating wins and talking about success stories, and sharing tips and tricks on how to do well.  It’s a very refreshing change from where I was previously, and I wholeheartedly want to take this on board with my management skills too.

Tying in with all this, as I touched on earlier, there is someone new in my life.  I don’t really know how to describe our relationship (I feel weird even using that word) but I know there’s something there.  It came completely out of left-field and I think we are both a little shellshocked by it, which is why it’s hard to describe.  I’ve worked with him since I started my new job, but didn’t really notice him – well, no more than I notice any of the other 80+ team members.  He was always friendly, but still, just another face in the crowd.  Until suddenly he wasn’t.  It was literally just like that.  One day, absolutely nothing.  The next, absolutely everything.

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That’s the thing with me.  It’s always been a bit that way.  I fall extremely hard and extremely fast.  Some of my friends are a bit jealous.  I don’t know why.  It’s not a good thing and has lead to me getting hurt 100% of the time.  The other (or maybe the same) issue is, I’m super clingy.  Like…if you knew me as just an acquaintance, you’d probably never pick it because I’m seriously introverted.  I am happy to not speak to people for a week at a time kind of introverted.  Until my heart latches onto someone, and then suddenly, the second we aren’t communicating, it’s all “noooo, come back, I already miss you soooo much!”.  I can step back and see myself and know it is 100% crazy and not at all attractive but I can’t help it.  I have to literally tell myself dozens of times a day that I need to back off, he’s not going anywhere, you don’t need to be acting like this.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Which is why we are currently sitting in this limbo status.  It is 100% my fault for being way too overbearing, and I’m working on it.  I really am.  He’s basically told me he’s not interested right now, which hurt like hell, however since then we’ve gone right back to how we were, so it’s just a weird place to be in.  That being said, I’m not complaining too much – it could easily have gone the opposite way and he refused to talk to me at all, making for a very awkward workplace.  Plus, I feel like this is just a learning experience on how to take things slow.  So, learn I shall.  Maybe things will eventually fall into place, or maybe we’ll both drift back to being just colleagues.  I know what I’m rooting for, but I’m not going to push it either.

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The other big update is my living arrangements.  Since my last update, I was forced to move back to my parents place – the landlord of my rental property sold the house and the new owners wanted to move in.  So back to my childhood home I went.  After living out of home for four years (and wanting to get out of home for many years prior to that), it hasn’t been easy readjusting.  I’m very grateful I had somewhere to go, don’t get me wrong, and my dog is loving the fact she has company almost all the time now, but it is still a very hard place to be back in.  I’m fiercely independent, and on top of that, my relationship with my family has always been tense.  It improved considerably after I moved out and got my own space, and now, day by day, I can feel it slipping back to how it was.  I feel very suffocated being back and having to answer to people again, and being told what to do and when to do it, instead of in my own time and at my own pace.

My mum especially doesn’t seem to understand why I get home and lock myself away, but then, she’s never really understood me much anyway.  She’s outgoing and very much a people-person.  My dad is quieter, but also enjoys being outdoors and getting things done.  I’m like my nan, who prefers to be left alone and doesn’t like her routine messed up.  They see me as lazy, and while I’m not denying that, it stems from my need to unwind from a day spent talking to strangers.  As an introvert, I need to mentally recover from that, and if I can’t, I have a tendency to lash out or become very upset.  If that means sleeping all day on my day off, or going for a drive by myself, or watching 10-year-old Simpsons episodes, then that’s what I do.  When I was living by myself, nobody was there to judge me on it, and it felt completely normal.  Now, all I’m getting is snide comments and rolled eyes.  I’ve literally been spending hours and hours at work just hanging out to avoid home – this is something I haven’t done at all since I started working there, and something I swore I wouldn’t do for my own mental health, but now, I’m finding that my mental health is being affected if I’m at home too long.  I’d rather be around my friends at work than being told what to do at home, even if that means sacrificing my unwinding time.

Thankfully, my house is well on the way to being finished.  After so many delays I’ve well and truely lost count, the framework went up a couple of weeks ago, and since then the roof has gone up and they’ve put in the windows and wiring, and the fencing.  The bricks will be getting laid tomorrow and the plastering should be completed by next week.  I’m hoping like hell it will be done before Christmas, so I can go back to living alone again.  My dog isn’t going to like it, but on the flip side, she’ll actually see me more as I won’t be avoiding home like I am now.

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I can’t believe how much has changed in what feels like a short amount of time, but there you have it.  It’s also hard to believe exactly a year ago, I was going through some of the darkest moments of my adult life, and today, I’m feeling pretty positive about everything.  2016 has definitely proven itself to be a great year so far!

How has everyone else’s 2016 been?

J x

Teacher’s Pet

Daily Prompt Post: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

My favourite teacher was one that I didn’t meet until my second last year of school, though it quickly felt like I’d known her for a long time.  It’s funny, at first I really didn’t like her…through no fault of her own.  I’d had a favourite teacher since Year 7, and she was supposed to be teaching me Theatre Studies in Year 11, my first class with her since Year 8.  I was so excited.  I rock up on the first day only to find she’d left the school without so much as a goodbye (in fact, she’d ended the conversation with “see you next year!” before school let out) so I was floored and guttered.  Ms Tolli had taken her place, a teacher brand new to the school.  I didn’t know her at all, but she was replacing my then-favourite teacher and nobody was going to be better than her.

It didn’t take too long for her to show us her fun and awesome she was though, and quickly the whole class were counting down to her classes.  Realistically, I probably shouldn’t have been doing that class at all (I only signed up for it because I wanted to be in the original teacher’s grade).  I was shy, awkward and wasn’t really interested in theatre at all.  Despite all that, Ms Tolli made me (and others in a similar situation) feel like we belonged and that would could do it.

She was supportive and really had our best interests at heart.  More than that, we saw her as a friend.  Looking back, I’m not even sure how she managed that, because mostly when teachers try to pull that off, they just come off as try-hards.  Not Ms Tolli though.

The main project of our theatre studies class was putting on a play from scratch, using only the people in our class.  The class was pretty small really, only maybe 15 people, so that’s no small fete.  We wound up spending a lot of time outside of normal school hours working on it, helping the actors learn their lines, building sets, working out the costumes and music.  We became more than just a class of Year-11s-and-12s, we were like a little family, with Ms Tolli as our surrogate mum.

I feel like I grew up a lot that year, thanks to her mentoring and kindness.  I started the year as shy and timid, and left with confidence and a stronger belief in myself.

We were so close by the end of the year that we celebrated at Ms Tolli’s house with a BBQ and booze.  Throughout the year we’d gotten to know her three young kids, and they were so happy we were there and including them.  Everyone was really sad the year was ending.  Half the class was finishing school completely, and others weren’t taking up her class next year (drama).  I was though, purely because I wanted another year with her.

I still miss her sometimes, and wish we were in contact.  I don’t know where I’d be now if she hadn’t given me the confidence and self-belief that she did.  Thanks for everything Vanda ❤

Sims in Real Life

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The Sims.

Some might say we potentially already live in a world like this, aka the Matrix theory.  That doesn’t make for a great answer though, so instead I’ll go the more literal sense and say I’m actually in a Sims game.

And if that’s the case, I guess it’d be interesting.  Objects would just disappear (pool steps, anyone?), it would take over an hour to walk across two rooms and go to the bathroom, I could spent two hours at a chess table and earn a promotion.  I could meet someone in the street, be married within the day and have twins within four days.  If I wanted to change clothes, I just walk up to the nearest dresser (it doesn’t even have to be in my house!) and I can chose any clothes in existence…for free!  The same goes for snacks…walk up to any fridge and pull out a packet of chips or a plate of cookies for free!  Woohoo!  If I’m lucky, money will just randomly come into my bank account…50,000 simoleons at a time, no questions asked, no repercussions.  If I don’t want to work a regular 9-5 job, I could paint a few paintings and set myself up for life, or write some novels and earn a weekly payment.  I could go fishing at midnight without worrying about anything dangerous happening (except maybe freezing over if it’s winter).  The best part is, all my fishing stuff and painting stuff and computer and everything else is stored in this invisible, enormous backpack.  How cool would that be in real life?!

What was the last video game you played?

– JD

Living with Eczema & Psoriasis

So, I’ve been meaning to write this for a long, long time.  In fact, I had half a draft done over a year ago for my previous blog, but decided not to post it.  A couple of months ago, I saw someone else post a similar blog (apologies, I can’t remember where I read it) and it reminded me of the draft I had.  I’m not going to use the draft (it’s too hard to keep going on something from so long ago), but instead go from scratch…no pun intended.  I feel like while the disease is fairly well known, people don’t know much about it, or what it’s suffers go through…usually in silence.

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Excuse the bad quality and weird expression.  The red around my face is ezcema.

So, I’ve had eczema and psoriasis my whole life.  My baby photos are full of angry red cheeks and being covered from the neck down so my skin wasn’t exposed to sharp little nails.  The soundtrack to my childhood is my parents carolling “don’t scratch!”.  I’ve always been self-conscious to the point where I just saw that as normal.  After all, any kid with yucky red rashes everywhere is going to want to hide it away, and get embarrassed when other kids ask questions about it.

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The blotches on my chest are eczema, as is the redness on my cheeks.

There are good days and bad days, which then lead on to good months and bad ones.  A large portion of my childhood was full of “bad months”…or maybe they just stand out more strongly than the good ones.  Along with the horrible rashes that would appear in random places all over my body, I’d also get this thick horrible flaky skin behind my ears (the psoriasis part of my skin issues).  This was something I lived with throughout my childhood in varying degrees.  I remember the first time it had completely cleared.  I was maybe 12.  I remember thinking that this smoothness, this clean feeling is what everyone else takes for granted.  I never had that.  Instead I had flaky shirts, weird looks and sometimes a gross smell coming from my ears.  It didn’t matter how hard I scrubbed, or what cream I used, it was always there.  I remember in year 7, a guy I didn’t get on with asked me about them halfway through class one day.  At first I thought he was just being his normal asshole self, but he apologised and said he didn’t mean to be rude, he just really wanted to know.  So I told him.  I don’t know whether he understood, or even cared.  At least he asked, instead of just giving me weird looks.

For a large amount of my youth, I’d have rashes in all the common areas – in the elbow and knee bends, my face, my back.  Thankfully I’ve never gotten it on my hands or feet (I couldn’t think of much worse).  I’ve used just about every over the counter option there is.  In my childhood, my go-to cream was DermAid, but eventually mum stopped buying it as it was found to strip away layers of skin or something and eventually made them weaker.  I’d get mum to lather me up with moisturising cream before school each day, and after showers.  After showers was especially important, as my skin would feel horrible and sore and tight if I didn’t do it, particularly my face.  I’d go through tubs of the stuff each month, and it still wasn’t enough to keep the blotches away.

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Another flare up on my face.  It seems like that’s the main area I got it when I was little.

The last couple of years have been okay, for the most part.  I finally started to outgrow it, and I suppose manage it better.  I think it is probably about 50/50.  I had my worse breakout in a very long time about a year and a half ago.  I’m used to rashes (as you can tell) so for a long time I put up with it, tried to fix it with moisturisers and the occasional tube of steriod cream I could wrangle out of a doctor (the only almost-certain way of fixing stubborn eczema).  They never ever give enough though, and once it runs out, it comes back.  In the end, it got so bad it was thick and extremely painful and it basically went from my neck all the way down my torso, stopping at my hands and feet.  It hurt to move, as it would dry out almost immediately after putting cream on.  I went to my boss in tears, telling him I just couldn’t wear the uniform shirt as it was scratchy material and making it all worse.  He told me to go and buy something to wear underneath it immediately.  I was extremely frustrated, as I felt like I should be able to control it after living with it for over twenty years.  Instead, after months of pain and it not getting any better, I wound up sobbing in a doctor’s office, feeling completely overwhelmed and in so much pain I could hardly stand it.  She immediately prescribed a large amount of steriod cream to start with, and sent me to see a specialist.

 

These are some of the pictures I took prior to going to the appointment (keep in mind, they might be a little hard to look at.  If you feel squeamish looking at them, imagine living with it.  They’re photos of my arms, legs and torso…apologies about the weird angles and undies shot, but I thought it was worth including as the pictures show more than I can explain in words.)

 

 

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It’s probably a little weird I didn’t already have a specialist.  I think when I was little, the GP mum used to take me to specalised in skin conditions and she trusted him, so I had no need to see one.   By the time I moved out, it was starting to get better by itself, so I didn’t need one then either.  I’m not sure what I expected from the specialist, but whatever it was, I didn’t get it from her.  I walked in and we talked about why I was here.  Then she got my to strip down to my underwear so she could see the damage…and judging by her face, the damage was bad.  I mean, I knew it wasn’t good, but her job is skin conditions, so I wasn’t expecting her look of shock when she saw it.  You’d think that’d mean she’d want to help…and maybe she did, I don’t know.  All I know is, she asked me all of one lifestyle question – “do you have a dog?”, and when I answered yes, she blamed everything on that.  Nevermind this flare up happened a year after I got her, nevermind I’d grown up with dogs, nevermind it could be a million other things, like diet, on sweat, or stress, or dust.  It was, in her mind, caused 100% by the dog, and I was to leave her outside at all times.  Yeah, like that would happen.

About the best thing she did is load me up with a prescription for an enormous amount of steriod creams in various forms.  I still have heaps left over now, a year and a half later, and the cream does it job well.  One thing I wish someone had told me (considering how many doctors I’ve been through, you’d think one of them might have mentioned it) is that if you use too much, it can actually effect your hormones.  During the time where my skin was especially bad, I started spotting heavily for two weeks straight, and I’d only had my period two weeks before.  I had no idea what was happening and whether I should be concerned.  It was only when I woke up halfway through the night and realized what might be happening, that I googled it and confirmed it.  Since then, I’ve tried to use it more sparingly, as it took at least a month for everything to get back on track.

So, I’ve gone through my story, but what’s it actually like?

Basically, on a bad day, you wake up with sore, tight skin.  Maybe there’ll be rashes, maybe not.  One of the perils of having skin like mine is that it’s dry all the time, and that can feel almost the same as having a rash sometimes.

If you do have a rash (and let’s say we’re smack in the middle of a flare up), you have to coat yourself in slimy, often-weird-smelling cream, feeling stingy and unclean.

You try to cover up the rash, but if it’s on your neck, or your arms, it’s tough.  Forget scarves, as wool can drive you mental from it being so scratchy.  Same goes with gloves.  Oh and nylon?  Dream on.  If it’s not cotton, it’s not getting worn.

You try to get on with your day, but you can feel the moisture leeching away, and the rashes getting more painful.  If you’re lucky, you get lost in an activity and forget it.  If you aren’t, it’s all you can think of all day long.

The first thing you do when you get home is lather yourself up in more cream.  Oh, sweet relief!  Nothing feels as heavenly as moisturiser on skin that’s been painful all day.

Later on, you have to bathe.  It’s not something you look forward to, as the water stings the rashes, and if they’re all over, it means you hurt all over.  The golden rule is to have a shower as cold as you can manage…only I can’t handle cold showers.  The heat only makes the rashes angrier later on.

You get out, towel off (pat dry, don’t wipe!) and once again, go through the gross routine of applying cream everywhere.  You try not to miss anywhere, because in half an hour you’ll know about it if you do!

Then it’s bed time and you dread it.  Firstly, the pain is often enough to wake you.  If it doesn’t, you’re still likely to wake up with gouge marks all over from where you scratched yourself in your sleep.  If you’re lucky, they won’t be on your face.  If they are, you’ll look like you came second best in a catfight.  The scratches are often much deeper than they would be if you scratched yourself when you were awake.  I guess you don’t feel pain when you sleep scratch.  Or maybe it’s just super itchy.  Either way, they hurt like buggery, and take a long time to fully heal.

And this is your life every day until the creams start to work or until the flare up goes away on it’s own.  On good days, where the rash is minimal or not there, you may only need to cream up once a day…and this is a good thing!

I have found a few tricks lately that have helped me.  If you suffer along with me, these might be of interest to you to.  Feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

  • Fake nails really do help.  I know this initially sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.  Fake nails (when done correctly) are a lot more blunt than real nails.  Blunt nails can’t scratch as hard, and don’t do as much damage.  This is especially useful at night.  Since getting fakies, I haven’t woken up with gouge marks once, purely because my nails physically can’t cause them any more.  It also helps with flare ups as you can’t scratch the rashes and make them bleed.
  • Bath over showers.  I’ve started taking baths where possible instead of showers for two reasons – one, I can use QV Bath Oil (or Flare Up Oil) and soak in it.  I used to use this as a kid and have recently welcomed it back into my life with open arms.  The second is that it helps relive stress, which can definitely cause flare ups.
  • Wash your hair less often.  Now, I’m not sure if this helps a lot or a little, but recently I’ve trained my hair to last a week between washes, and my skin is doing pretty well.  The chemicals in shampoos and conditioners run down your body as you wash them out, which can’t be good for sensitive skin.  Plus, if you can train your hair to last longer between washes, it’s healthier for it too!
  • If you’ve got a flaky scalp (which seems to go hand in hand with my skin conditions as it dries out), I use Neutrogena T-Gel.  Again, something I’ve bought back from my childhood.  It smells a little funky, but it works.  Just keep in mind it can lead to your hair colour fading quicker if you dye it.  I also really like Dove Shampoo and Conditioner, as it’s got moisturisers in it which can also help.
  • Sleep in light clothing and with light bedding, if you’re a hot sleeper.  Sweating can cause flare ups, and if you’re getting too hot at night, that’s 6-9 hours where sweat is present.  If you do have a hot night (or after a work out, or any time you’re really sweaty really), try to rinse it off as soon as possible.
  • Salt water can help fix rashes.  This is something my parents swore by when I was little, and they’d often take me to my grandparents place just so they had an excuse to take me to the beach.  Just keep in mind, the saying “rubbing salt in the wound” is accurate, and initially it hurts like nothing else.  After the initial pain, though, it doesn’t hurt at all and can help clear up the redness.
  • Try to keep bathing to a minimum.  Now, I’m not saying go days without it, but just keep in mind that even a cool shower draws moisture out of the skin.  I’d say try to aim for no more than one per day unless absolutely necessary.

I think that’s about all the tips and tricks I have.  I’m super glad that right now, my skin is pretty good, save for a few little rashes on my tummy and some dry patches on my legs.  I’ve been extra careful lately to catch rashes early, as I know in summer it’s easy for it to spread and get out of hand.  Thank God for steriod creams, because they clear it up quick smart!

Have you suffered from a skin condition in the past?  How’s it going?

– JD

Modern Family Life

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Modern Family.

Hmm, that’d be interesting.  I wonder who I’d be?  A long-lost cousin?  A college friend of Haley’s?  A tutor for Manny?  So many options.  Either way, it’d be a lot of fun.  I’d love hanging out with Phil, his dad-comedy would be awesome to watch in real life.  Cam and Mitchell would no doubt be my go-to coffee date buddies.  They’d be hilarious and I’d love hanging out with sassy little Lily.  Alex would be the person I’d go to when I need a break from the craziness…she seems like the most level headed of anyone, and would no doubt have methods of tuning everyone out.  If I was there for the next six weeks, it’d mean I’d be there for Christmas, and that’d be awesome.  Luke would probably have a prank set up, Gloria would say the wrong thing and it’d be the joke of the night, Haley would have heaps of gossip and maybe an awkward boyfriend.  Everyone would be fussing over Joe.  Oh man, of all the shows I could have watched last, this one is certainly one of the best for this question!

What show did you watch last?

– JD

Time to Change – Day Ninety-Two

So, the rain has finally come.  After sweltering through the past three days which all cleared 40 degrees celcius (that’s 104 degrees fahrenheit for those in the US), I don’t remember the last time I was so happy to see the sky grey over.  I’ll discuss this more later, as I’ll try to pick up where I left off last time.

I’d just been to the Taylor Swift concert, and honestly, that’s still probably the coolest thing I’ve done in awhile.  As predicted, my weekend wasn’t particularly interesting.  Neither was my working week really, aside from a massive sale I managed to get after the customer came in with a simple question.  Everyone at work was very impressed, and I got talked about in the next day’s before-your-shift meeting.  That was a nice feeling because firstly, my previous job never really gave any recognition like that and secondly, it makes me feel like I deserve to be there.  Or…I don’t know if that’s right…I guess it makes me feel like less of a newbie.  Don’t get me wrong, aside from asking more questions than older employees, I don’t think many people really see me as a newbie (mostly because there’s just so many of us), but I still feel like one.  It’s hard to shake that mentality, though at some point I’ll have to.  I guess after my probation ends, which will be in three months time.  We’ll see.  Either way, it was pretty cool that I was the topic of the day.  Even the store manager (who I have the occasional two-second conversation with but otherwise don’t have a lot to do with) pulled me aside and introduced me to someone (a higher up visiting the store or something) and said I was “the girl who did the massive sale yesterday”.  Apparently I was the “special mention” on their daily conference call.  Pretty sweet!

I caught public transport all week, and am really starting to get used to it.  I know when I have to sneak out a couple of minutes early from my shift to race to catch the train (or else sit around for 20 minutes waiting for the next one), I know without checking what time the bus comes each morning (keeping in mind my shifts change a lot, so it’s taken me awhile to get used to).  Hell, I’m even managing to keep my balance better on the train when I’m forced to stand up!  Thankfully, this hasn’t happened too often as I generally miss peak hour.

The commute still exhausts me.  I feel like I’ll never properly get used to it.  I know it’s probably way too early to say that but I’ve always needed a decent amount of sleep to function and often, I’m just not able to get that, which leaves me feeling groggy, grumpy and out of it in the morning.  It also means I spent a large portion of my weekends catching up on sleep, which don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with…but I don’t know how I’m going to cope longterm.  Still, each time I think about asking for a transfer, I remember all that I’d be giving up with it…and I just can’t do it.  It’d be like giving up a mansion to go back to a unit.  I’m hoping my roster will be a little better next month, but given how big our normal trading hours are, I’m not holding my breath.

I called in sick for the first time at this job on Friday.  This may not seem too interesting, but I’m one of those people that never, ever call in sick.  It’s something mum drummed into me the second I joined the work force – “save your sick leave in case you wind up in hospital!”.  While she has a point, the real reason behind her anti-sick-leave status is that her and my dad run a business and they’ve gone through a number of employees who use up their sick leave extremely quickly.  She knows what it’s like to be on the other side of them.  I guess, coming from management in my last job, I do as well.  So for me to call in sick, it’s a big deal.  I’d rather go work and try to stick it out until someone looks at me pityingly and tells me to go home.  I did vow, though, that I was going into this job with a different mentality.  I wouldn’t work excessive amounts of hours, I wouldn’t work when I wasn’t getting paid…and I’m not going to kill myself trying to work when I’m sick.  I left my previous job with something like 500 hours of sick leave, none of which I got reimbursed for.  That’s essentially weeks of paid leave I missed out on.  Now, I’m not saying I’m going to call in sick “because I feel a cold coming on” (that was a legitimate excuse someone gave at my previous work once), but I’m also going to acknowledge that sick leave is there to be used.  I think it helps that we have so many staff working that my not being there occasionally isn’t going to wreck havoc on the store for the day.

Anyway, I digress.  I woke up with a headache, but it seemed to go away within about half an hour.  I wasn’t due in at work until 2, and had scheduled a meeting to sign my building contract for my house at 9.30.  It was the first day of scorching heat, and it was already in the mid-30s by the time I got there.  My head started to hurt again, but again, I ignored it.  The meeting was dry, as my parents read through the thick wad of paperwork, pretending to understand what it was saying.  Then I had to sign countless pages, and initial them, and then do it all over again for a second copy.  Oh man, it took so long.  By the time that was done, my head was feeling pretty terrible, though at least the place had air con.  Once the meeting wrapped up, and I had to step out into the heat, I knew a sick day was on the cards.  I’m glad the place was only 20 minutes away from home, because I was feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous and wished I’d bought my sunglasses, because the light was not my friend.  I stumbled into my house, which thankfully was lovely and dark (the blinds drawn and fans already running on high in an attempt to outsmart the heat).  Despite all this, I was still in two minds about calling.  Mum had drilled her ideas into me so hard that it made me feel even more sick at the prospect of making the call.  The only reason I managed to was because I knew I couldn’t handle getting onto a hot train and then standing on my feet, making small talk with strangers for eight hours, feeling like I might vomit on their shoes the whole time.  When I called, one of the guys I feel like I know okay picked up…thank God.  If it was someone from back of house like I’d assumed, I’d have been more nervous as I don’t have much to do with them.  The guy was lovely and told me I’d need a medical certificate (I’d already mentally prepared for that), and told me to get better.  That was it.  Painless.  I then called the doctors and made an appointment for much later in the afternoon, and settled in on the couch, relieved I didn’t have to work.  I slept off the migraine and by mid-afternoon was feeling great.  And guilty, because I could have done the second-half of my shift no problem, but I tried not to dwell on that.  I’d already called in sick, they’d probably already replaced me, and besides, hoarding sick leave didn’t work out well last time.

I went to my doctors appointment, expecting to be sitting around for an hour.  It often happens at the place I go to, but I stick with it because the doctors are really no-fuss-straight-to-the-point…which is great when you just want a medical certificate, and that’s at least 50% of the reason I go to the doctors.  Instead, I was sitting there for maybe two minutes, got called in, and walked out with the med cert two minutes later.  Amazing!

I was feeling great by Friday night, knowing I still had two days off.  I think the migraine was partly from the heat (and therefore, lack of sleep), but also because I’d been running myself into the ground with work and the hour-and-a-half commute each way.  I’d been feeling off for a couple of days.   I think I’m going to have to start listening to my body more now, and using my sick days for the occasional “mental health” day.  I know that’s not what they’re actually for (and my mother would be horrified), but if I ignore my body, it only makes things worse.  We’ll see how we go though.

The last two days have been mostly spent holed up at home, determined to beat the disgusting heat without air con.  The air con as never worked properly in the place I live in, and I know I could get it fixed, but it’s not worth the trouble when I know for the most part I’m not home during the day, and that I’ll be moving out soon enough into my own place with proper air con.  Until then, I survive with lots of fans and the blinds drawn.  I quite like the darkness anyway, but my dog gets a little frustrated.  She loves nothing more than the back door wide open so she has free rein of the house and yard…and that wasn’t happening this weekend.  I’d let her out, but the second she’d come back in, everything would be shut up again.  I think overall for the three days I did pretty well.  I mean, it wasn’t air conditioning cold in the house, but it was manageable.  On the plus side, fans are a lot cheaper to run than air con, so hopefully I’ve saved some money that way!

This morning I had to brave the heat as I needed to get my nails redone.  They weren’t catching on anything yet (my sign that they’re in desperate need of fixing up), but I knew I wouldn’t have time during the week to go anywhere thanks to my commute time and odd work hours, and then it’s Christmas and everything will be closed.  I really didn’t want to go, but I really couldn’t avoid it.  I usually go to a place about 30 mins away, as I really like it there, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen today…if I had to go there, I wouldn’t go at all.  I decided I’d try the place five minutes down the road, and that I’d get there early in an attempt to beat the crowds and the heat.  They were set to open at 10, so I was there at 10.  All the other shops around it opened, and the opening hours on the door confirmed I was there at the right time, and yet…nothing.  There were no lights on inside, no movement, and slowly, other people began to join me in waiting.  I waited fifteen minutes, then gave up.  Even if she’d arrived right then, there’d surely only be one of her, otherwise someone else would already be there to open up.  And if there’s only one of her, how could she possible serve the four people waiting?

I headed to the closest shopping centre instead.  I’d been avoiding going there as this close to Christmas, I was worried it would be flat out.  I guess it was, but I wouldn’t say it was busier than usual.  The shops had only opened half an hour before though, so I guess a lot of people had slept in, or gone to Church, and decided to wait for the cool change to come through.  Whatever the reason, I was pretty pleased.  I wandered into the first nail place I could find, and there were pretty busy, but told me to take a seat.  I waited maybe fifteen minutes, but I received acknowledgement and apologies the whole time, so I didn’t mind.  Hell, I was expecting to be told to come back later when I first walked in, so I was okay with the relatively short wait.  Once I did get served, I found the service friendly and attentive.  The first girl took her time fixing up my nails, carefully removing the old shellac and paint and reshaping them.  Then another girl took her time repainting them, doing 5 layers on each, which was actually really nice as it felt like she cared about how they turned out.  She also made sure they were 100% dry, which is something I’ve had issues with in the past.  My only gripe about the place – and it’s a small one – is that they didn’t take card, meaning I had to quickly run to the ATM and pull cash out.  I could have easily done a runner, but they’d done such a great job I didn’t have the heart to do it.  Still, I wonder how many times that’s happened.  It’s their own fault really, for not taking card in the first place, and for having the smallest “cash only” sign in existence.  I’d definitely go back there again though, even if it feels like I’m cheating on my usual place for them!

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Tomorrow I’m back at work, but only for four days thanks to Christmas, and then I have a four day weekend, woohoo!  I’m not 100% sure why I have Monday off, though I’m thinking it’s because Boxing Day falls on a Saturday this year, and Saturday is my usual RDO, so they’re giving my Monday off instead.  That’s just a guess though, and I’m not going to question it in case it’s a mistake.  I mean, I don’t think it is, but I’m so looking forward to 4 days off that I’m not gonna risk it!  I also got some goods news yesterday – the store is closing earlier than originally planned on Christmas Eve, so I’m only working until 6pm now instead of 8!  Yaaay!

My diet still isn’t back on track.  I know it’s all just excuses, but when you’re roster is everywhere, you spend 3 hours a day on public transport and you don’t even have a set break time, it’s extremely challenging to find time to eat healthy food.  I’m just glad I’m getting extra exercise in to help make up for it.  I know it won’t do much, but it’s better than nothing.

How’s was everyone else’s week?

– JD

PS I realized I skimmed over the fact I signed my building contract.  I know it should be a big deal.  I mean, it is a big deal.  It’s final and locked in and in six months or so, I’ll be a home owner with a mortgage.  It all just feels so surreal though that it just felt like more paperwork.  It didn’t help I was feeling so unwell, but I think even if I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d have felt too excited about it.  Like, I acknowledge the importance of it…but until the building starts and I can finally see work being done, it’s still just a pipe dream.  It’s nothing but scribbles and words.  I’m hanging for the day when I can move in and see all the stuff I chose on colour day in real life, with my furniture in there.  Until then, I just can’t get excited about it all.