The New Normal

my injuries

What is the new normal?

According to the end-all reference Urban Dictionary, the new normal is the current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired.

The rest of the UD entry is gold. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been. Like, whoever wrote it needs to be my friend.

Feeling “normal” is something that I’ve been struggling with since the night of the accident. Deep down, I knew it was just a matter of time. Like that annoying cliché saying that makes you want to bop someone on the head as soon as the words leave their lips. “Time heals all.” *shudders* Time heals, that’s true. But does it heal all?

The great Sean Carter once said, “after the show it’s the after party then after the tragic event it’s the mourning period.” Something like that. But my slightly altered rap lyric holds truth. The mourning period is inevitable.

We — feel free to exclude yourself if this doesn’t apply — mourn because essentially we lost our normality or what we considered normal. Mourning is necessary. Crying is essential. And most importantly, your worries are important because they’re important to you. Never let anyone tell you that “it’s not a big deal.”

When I used to talk about the car accident, my injuries and what I went through to recover, I always ended it with “it wasn’t too bad.” I’m still not sure why I felt the need to tack on a few words at the end, to completely minimize what I went through. I think I didn’t want to accept what had happened. Nah, that’s it. I didn’t want to accept any of it.

My body went through the motions but my mind hid in a safe place. In a place where I could easily jump out of my hospital bed and run. Safely padded from reality.

I remember the looks on my doctors’ and physical therapists’ faces when I’d ask if I’d ever be back to “normal.” “Time will tell but we can’t be sure.” TIME. So I held on to time as long as I could like it was a waiting list and I was waiting for the cure.

The only problem was that I never saw the need to deal with my changes because TIME. Instead, I focused on my past and honed in on what could have been. I began comparing myself to my old self, the “normal” one. I was obsessed with going back to the way I used to be. I refused to adapt. I didn’t want to meet my new self.

A wise lady once asked me, “why do you like making your life so difficult?” I replied, “if I adapt, I’ll be accepting that this is the way my life will have to be.” She smiled. “It doesn’t have to be forever. If this is temporary, there’s nothing wrong with making the transition easier and if this is permanent, well, at least you’ll be happy.”

It’s only in the latter half of 2013 where I find myself embracing my new normal. Making smaller changes to adapt without losing hope. Time heals, yes. And when you finally have the courage to welcome your entire self, flaws and all, then I guess that little cliché saying is true. Time will heal all.

Note: the picture is a piece of my medical reports snapped for dramatic purposes. dun dun dunnn.

published November 1, 2013

Life In 0.05 Inches.

image-1

I’d say I’m a good 5’9″ even though my doctor would beg to differ. He says I’m 5’7″ then I tell him he’s wrong. It’s a never-ending battle. I’ve always been the tall one in class, ever since kindergarten. I was too young to notice that I had to stand in the back row during class pictures. Whatever, I was still in them.

Growing up, I was obsessed with my mother’s shoes. It’s the first thing you run into when you learn to crawl. Shoes. — Maybe my parents should have thrown math books on the floor instead. Wonder what the outcome would have been. — At age five, I would stare at her shoe rack when she was out and grab the first pair of pumps that were at arm’s reach. Sure, I toppled over when I tried taking a few steps but I was looking fabulous, just like my mother.

In high school, I was still tall but by then 20% of the boys caught up or passed me. Still, I avoided wearing high heels in public even though I owned a few pairs. — Watching too many Beyonce music videos on MTV Jams had a girl begging her mother for some pretty shoes. — Anyways, I always thought I was too tall, too tall for 16-year-old boys.

Then I turned 21.

Suddenly, I didn’t care anymore. *cue Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”*. High heels became my bffs. Pumps, wedges, sandals, boots, anything with a 4-inch heel and up. I wasn’t picky. I learned how to strut, stand, run, climb up stairs, go down stairs and handle the torture. Heeled shoes gave my long feet a nice arch which made them look smaller (+1). Plus, posture wise — chest out, butt out and tight calves (+100000).

The shoes made me feel like a grown woman and not like a girl who just entered her 20s. No one was complaining either. In high school, I used to get stares or hear others whispering to each other, “look at her, she’s so tall.” In the real world, long legs are loved. Being tall is a luxury. Why else would so many women strap on painfully sexy shoes that makes them grow at least 5 inches?

And that click clack you hear on hard floors when a great pair of heels walks by? Forget about it. I felt like a show stopper when I was the one bringing on the ruckus. For me, heels symbolized femininity, sultriness and most importantly, confidence.

My love affair with high-heeled shoes ended abruptly in 2011. Ever since my car accident, my left foot refuses to cooperate with anything above one inch. I’ve been in my own shoe hell for two years because I couldn’t let go of my heels and what I thought they represented.

A woman is defined by the shoes she wears. That is the saying that is drilled into women’s heads through retail advertising and pop culture. When have you seen a celebrity walk the red carpet in a sexy pair of flats? Better yet, when has “sexy pair of flats” ever been put together in a sentence?

I know, I’m blowing up my first world problem. I can’t wear heels, big deal. I’m already tall so why would I need them? They hurt so why do I care? Outsiders say I’m lucky I can be comfortable in flats when I go out while they have to suffer in their shoes. Well that’s the choice they made and lucky for them, they have a choice.

The other day, I went to the store to try on a pair of heels that I’ve been lusting over for a while. My mother and sister both gripped my hands and helped me stand. — It took me back to when I was in the hospital in 2011 and a physical therapist and my father helped me stand for the first time in over a month. I wasn’t sure if I could do it right then but I knew it could be done. — I quickly sat back down after I felt my leg wobble. That was enough of a taste.

Patience is key in a recovery. I’ve said it before and I hate when people remind me that because it’s true. Recently, I tried to rush wearing heels (1.5-inch wedges) and ended up tripping and spraining my foot on my birthday. It was my body’s cruel and funny way of telling me I’m not ready.

I’m slowly adapting to life in shoes with a .05-inch heel or less. One day, I hope, they will be considered as glamorous as high heels and maybe magazines will spotlight the “sexiest flats on the red carpet.” For now, it only matters how I strive to feel in them. Feminine, flirty, confident, and unapologetically, a bad ass bitch.

published August 5, 2013

iPhone-less At Paid Dues: Blessing In Disguise

7914040652_68c8b1b553_zNote: This obviously is not a picture from Paid Dues.

I’m notorious for leaving essential items at home.

On Valentine’s Day this year, I left my purse at home. My ID, debit card, rose salve (essential), everything was inside my purse. To top it off, it was four in the afternoon and I was driving opposite of traffic into Los Angeles. There was no way I was going to turn around and sit in two hours’ worth of traffic (when the commute is only 20 minutes) to get my purse. Welp. Hope that painted a pretty picture.

So I leave my house Saturday afternoon with sunscreen, a sweater and my purse, thinking I had everything, and embarked on a nice long 45-minute ride to San Bernardino, the home of Paid Dues. About ten minutes pass and as soon as the freeway lanes started to clog up, I had the sudden urge to update my Facebook and that’s when I realized another passenger was missing, my iPhone 5.

Good thing I didn’t have a friend waiting for me at the show and good thing she didn’t need the extra ticket I had to get in. -___-. Good thing I didn’t want to Instagram, Vine, Facebook or tweet and good thing everyone else in the car didn’t have dying Androids while I was only stocked with an iPhone car charger, iPhone 5 adapter included. -___-.

I would have given up a few things in exchange for my iPhone. Like happily handing over my sunglasses and/or cup of Diet Coke and rum. Fair trade? MAYBE. It was sunny that day and drink prices skyrocket at any outdoor festival.

On the bright side, I hadn’t enjoyed a big show like Paid Dues without using my phone as a recording device in years. Yes, I’m guilty of being one of those obnoxious concert goers with one arm in the air during every song. I usually record with a purpose and take concert shots in exchange for Instagram hearts.

Not this time.

I watched Black Hippy’s set from the main stage pit without any interruptions, minus a few giant iPads recording in my peripheral. Why someone would take an oversized $500 iPhone, that requires both hands to record, to an outdoor festival is beyond me. Somewhere, though, as Kendrick Lamar performed “Swimming Pools,” I looked back past pit and beyond.

This was the first time Paid Dues was taking place at the San Manuel Amphitheater, the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States. That’s how much open land San Bernardino has to offer. 65,000 fans fit in orchestra, box, loge and lawn sections. Needless to say this place was HUGE. Even more so since you had to go down two flights of stairs and a ramp to make it to the pit. One look behind your right shoulder and you’ll find yourself at the edge of a sea of heads lit up as spotlights hit the tops of the massive crowd.

Back on stage, Kendrick called for all of Top Dawg Entertainment to stand by his side. He saluted the crew and made sure the audience realized that success is a team effort. There might have been about 20 people on the Paid Dues stage. I smiled after spotting my friend Ret One on stage. I even waved! like I wasn’t one of 65k.

Then “m.A.A.d city” dropped, starting with Kendrick’s a cappella chant in the beginning. “Yawk Yawk Yawk Yawk,” start instrumental, cue in crowd going crazy with the track blaring through San Bernardino. It also just so happened to be one of my favorite tracks off good kid, m.A.A.d city.

Sure, if I would have had my iPhone, I would be have been able capture it all. But I didn’t miss having to refocus my attention away from the pain in my arm caused by holding a phone in the air for too long.

Note: Here’s a real picture from Paid Dues. Thank LA Weekly!

Paid Dues Festival 2013 At San Manuel Amphitheater

published on April 1, 2013

May 2011 – March 2013 Life Recap: Getting Back On Track

I don’t really remember much before the accident.

At least the way I used to be. Throughout almost-two years of recovery, I might as well have coined the phrase “I used to be like this.” Like if I was a better person pre car accident. Not sure what I was trying to prove by adding “used to be” in regards to myself. Truth is. I’ve remained the same.

It took me a while to see it. “Used to be” was my crutch. If someone saw me limping, I could say “I used to have a fierce walk.” If someone noticed my poor posture, I could reply with “I used to have the best stance.” I used to be confident. I used to smile more. I used to be a go-getter. I used to wear tighter clothes. I used to prance in four-inch heels. I used to dance all night. I used to pirouette. I used to have strong legs. I used to skip. I used to run. I used to jump. I used to be like that.

“Used to be” weighed my soul down, enough to make me feel like I was drowning in a pity pool party of one. Everything physical about me changed in some way yet I continued to grip on to the way I “used to be” instead of realizing that I’m still me, just constrained to a pair of flats for now. I’m still confident, strong, smart, sexy, occasionally funny and definitely clumsy. I can still dance all night as proven in Vegas last weekend. Most importantly, I’ve let go of my selfish worries to accept that I’ve been given the greatest gift of all. Another chance.

Recovery is much more than a physical battle, it’s 99% mental. You need to prepare your body, mind and soul, like you would for any other major life change. The more heart you put into it, the more results you’ll get out of it. I know, the solution seems simple. Two-years too simple.

I’d like to think I’m finally on the right path. Seeking the help I needed and sharing some self discovery along the way. In my last recovery post, I wrote “It’s time to get out of my comfort zone and face the real world again.” That line was published over a year ago and I’m finally ready to plant both feet in the real world.

palmera

Here’s to hoping my feet land on a sandy beach somewhere in the real world, preferably in the Dominican Republic.

published March 13, 2013

May 2011 – March 2012 Life Recap

So I write these “life recaps” every three months for anyone interested in reading about my recovery. Are a collective group of 29 days really considered a month? Ok, I just forgot to write it on the ninth month which was technically February but I’ll make it up right now. I can’t believe that my next recap will officially make it one year. One year in which my life took a left turn.

For those who might be reading this for the first time, let me fill you in or click here and here. In May of 2011, specifically on Memorial Day, I was riding shotgun in an overturned red Toyota Corolla. Luckily, I had fallen asleep with my seat belt on. I spent the next 50 days in two different hospitals and the rest of 2011, getting back on my feet. I turned in my wheelchair in November and gave up my walker by December. As far as physical stepping stones, 2011 was a great year.

I’m walking now. I’ll most likely be running and jumping in my next recap. 2012 is shaping up to be an emotional year. I guess it’s time to face the “why am I still here” question that I’ve been avoiding all these months. Blah.

Before the accident, I was a waitress, production assistant, blogger and anything else that kept me busy. After the accident, I was unemployed and handicapped. It was weird “not working.” My first job was as a “Sandwich Artist” at a sandwich shop named Togo’s during my senior year in high school. Had to make that chedda if I wanted a nice dress for homecoming. I don’t think I ever went more than a month of not working until now. It’s time to get out of my comfort zone and face the real world again.

Not that I’ve been staying home or anything. Quite the contrary. I’ve attended shows, conducted interviews and tried to get back into my blogging routine. In some way, I just feel like something is stopping me from reaching my full recovery. I’m not even talking about my physical recovery. The emotional part has been the hardest to tackle. In the hospital, I would google “celebrities who have been in car accidents” to read about their recoveries and motivate myself. I remember having my parents watch Kanye West’s “Through The Wire” video a few times, knowing that they don’t understand much of what Ye’s rapping. I was the rap video commentator on SAP. It’s all good. I felt a little better about drinking Ensure.

I read about recoveries mainly to find out what helped them emotionally overcome the accidents and what motivated them to strive and be great. There had to be a secret, a code I needed to be let in on. I only found inspirational testimonies and as much as I wish there was a Emotionally Overcome Your Accident for Dummies guide, there isn’t. The testimonies do help. If that person has found his or her way through it then I can too. I just have to do it my way, whatever that may be.

That is where I’m at today. A little in the dark trying to find the spark to light up the path I need to take. Just taking it day by day.

At least I can sit Indian style again (don’t get offend my fellow OG Americans, I’m just too old to say I’m sitting “criss cross applesauce” style).

Until next time.

published March 8, 2012

May – Nov 2011 Life Recap

You can’t really see progress when you take a recovery day by day. You really have to break it down in months.

May – Had multiple fractures and chilled in the ICU.
June – Sat up after being strictly bed ridden for a few weeks and took my first wheelchair ride with my stuffed penguin in hand.
July – Stood up (even if it was on one foot) for the first time in a month, stopped taking morphine, returned home from the hospital and stopped wearing my body brace just in time for my 24th birthday.
August – Stopped taking pain medication, had my stitches taken out and went to the beach (off-roaded in the sand with my wheelchair).
September – Got rid of my foot brace, walked on two feet (with a walker), attended my first Dodger game, started to drive again and J. Cole dropped his debut album (finally).
October – Decided to eat red meat and pork again after a few years.. oh, and ditched my walker.
November – Got rid of my wheelchair, walked my dog by myself for the first time in months and increased my overall strength.

Six months flew by.

I remember being in the hospital and thinking to myself, “when am I going to leave this place?” I remember lying in bed and thinking to myself, “when will the pain stop?” I remember sitting in my wheelchair and thinking to myself, “when will I be able to walk without assistance?” Now, I walk and think, “when will I be able to run again?” If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that time heals all.

I’m still looking for Ambrosia (Xena: Warrior Princess reference) to speed up the process though.

Previous: May – August 2011 Life Recap

published December 1, 2011

May – August 2011 Life Recap

Too bad I don’t have some super cool artwork to go along with this post. If I did, it would probably be doodles of emotions scratched on notebook paper. Something simple and stick figure like. See exhibit A.

My stick figures would be cuter.

On May 30th, my friend fell asleep at the wheel, hit a pole which caused the car to flip multiple times. I was told that it took an hour to get me out of the wreck.

I really don’t remember the first few days because I was in lala-morphine-land and didn’t want to come back to reality. I do remember, though, the crazy amount of visitors I had when I was in the ICU. I do remember being rolled by the waiting room and having people cheer for me like I was running the last mile in a marathon. I do remember trying to make my teary-eyed friends laugh and smile with me. I do remember the moment my orthopedic surgeon walked in and told me that they expect a full recovery.

Multiple fractures, two surgeries and two weeks later, I found myself wishing I had listened to my mother and stayed home that day. Don’t you hate it when your mom is right? My legs didn’t touch the ground for four whole weeks. On the fourth week, I shed tears (of joy) when the physical therapist sat me up for the first time. Cheesy, I know. I was crying because I could finally see the houses, the neighborhoods, the cars, and the 10 freeway. It never looked so beautiful.

I entertained myself by instagramming (I’m just going to assume that you know what instagram is) pictures of my penguin, Icicles. Yes, I have a stuffed penguin and yes, he has a name. You tend to make new friends when you’re stuck in a hospital. See exhibit B & C.

After spending over a month at the LA County Hospital, I was transferred to a rehab hospital in a $900 ambulance ride, bar not included. Spent two weeks in rehab, where there were 90 year-olds in better shape than I was, and learned how to walk… kinda. It was actually more of a hop-on-one-foot-with-one-hand-in-the-air kind of walk. A hokey-pokey kind of walk. But it did get me from point A to point B, wheelchair to bed.

I’m home now. My stay at the LA County Medical Resort & Spa and Long Beach Memorial Hotel feels like it was so long ago. Too bad my vacation isn’t officially over. I can’t drive, I can’t walk, I can’t go in my kitchen and prepare myself a sandwich but I can hug my parents, I can kick ass in Cranium and I will be able to get up and walk again.

And for that I am grateful.

I appreciate and thank you if you ever sent me a get well tweet/FB post/email. Just wanted to let you know where I’ve been these past few months. The road to recovery has been a bumpy one and you can feel each bump on a two-wheeler. I’m sure I will cry again when I take my first steps. Tears of joy, of course.

Guess it’s time to roll back into the norm. We’ll see how that works out.

Xo.

published August 23, 2011