Why I Love Star Trek

I watch Star Trek pretty much every day. That probably sounds totally weird, and maybe it is. But Star Trek and I have a long history together. We’ve been through a lot.

My earliest memories of watching Star Trek were watching The Next Generation in the basement of my childhood home. We’d watch it while eating pizza and playing board games on family game night. I don’t know if I had strong feelings either way about it back then, but I have very fond memories of those moments, now. And I always held onto a love for the series and the values it espoused. Indeed, I attribute much of my commitment to equity and diversity to things I learned from Star Trek: coexistence, tolerance, not imposing your own values on other cultures, and appreciation of difference.

After college when I landed my first real job, I moved to the city, and discovered a nearby video rental establishment that had ALL of the complete Star Trek series on DVD. Heaven! I started watching them in order, starting with The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine, and then Voyager (I’ve never been able to get into the Original Series). At the same time, I was struggling with a lot of anxiety: my beloved grandma was sick with cancer, which just happens to be one of my mortal fears. That fear is pretty well controlled with medication now, but at the time, I was having pretty regular panic attacks. Because I had/have panic attacks almost exclusively at night, I was also having a lot of trouble sleeping. So I took to just leaving Star Trek on until I fell asleep. I would often start the next episode on the disk when I was already dozing, and many times I drifted off to sleep to the opening them. The opening theme I associate most with those times is that of Deep Space Nine; to this day, that lovely, calm horn intro, followed by the same theme in the solo trumpet, played so mellowly and soothingly, it is very comforting.

I don’t have panic attacks very often anymore, thankfully. When I do, I now have Xanax for breakthrough anxiety, in addition to the Zoloft I take daily. But even when I take a Xanax, it often takes it awhile to kick in before I feel calm; in the meantime, the only things that can help calm me are lying on the cold bathroom tile floor and watching Star Trek. The latter is much more pleasant, and the soothing lullaby of DS9’s opening and closing themes never fails.

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On Being an Introverted Momma

The day I found out I was pregnant with my son was one of the happiest of my life. I was so excited to be a mom. I was ready for pregnancy discomforts, poopy diapers, and big changes to my husband’s and my lifestyle. Even labor didn’t sound so bad. I was ready to go through all of those things that would transform me into a mother.

But I had some worries as well. Of course, I had the typical “big” worries– what if I miscarry? What if my baby’s not healthy? But I have to say, a bit to my surprise given my history of anxiety and being a worry wart, I was generally a pretty calm mom-to-be. The “worries” that were on my mind most often were minute compared to the “big” worries, and much less scary, but still I found myself thinking about them a lot. I just wasn’t sure how I’d handle them.

One of these concerns was sleep. I love my sleep! How was I going to deal with the sleepless nights, no more sleeping in, etc? The answer is, the same way all new parents handle it– just by getting by day to day, and eventually you (kind of) get used to it. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

The other thing I was worried about was my precious “I time”– my name for the alone time I needed to recharge my introvert self. (Get it, like “me time,” but “I” for introvert?) I found myself getting titchy after a couple of weeks with limited “I time.” How was I possibly going to get by when I was NEVER alone? When the time my spouse was at work, that used to be my time to recharge, alone in the house, would become the time when I had to care for the baby on my own? Strangely enough, that hasn’t really been an issue at all. It helps that the baby goes to sleep usually by 6 or 6:30, so I still have evenings to get my down time in. But that never would have been enough for my pre-mom self. Somehow now, it just is. It’s amazing how motherhood changes you in ways you never would have imagined.

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My little guy seems very extroverted so far. Sure doesn’t get that from me!

In-home Medical Treatments

Well, here I am at almost 37 weeks pregnant. I kind of can’t believe that in about 3 weeks, our son will be born and I’ll have my body back to myself. But I can’t wait!! Aside from finally meeting our baby, I am so excited to be able to tie my shoes, wear my wedding rings again, wear normal clothes, not snore, eat sushi, drink wine, and be comfortable when I sleep. 

Between now and then, though, I’m getting iron treatments by IV to get my ferritin (iron stores) up. My doctor informed me that they were extremely low, and I was taking about the maximum amount of iron by oral supplement that a person can possibly absorb in a day. And my body apparently wasn’t absorbing it well enough. Therefore, the IV infusions. I have to get 5 infusions over the course of 14 days– two are done already. I’m actually glad to be doing it, because I was having a hard time taking all that iron (it’s hard on the stomach), and I was feeling pretty drained a lot of the time and having crazy restless legs. After 2 treatments, I already feel more energetic, and the restless legs seem to be a bit better too.

The thing I don’t care for about the IV infusions is that for some reason the nurse comes to my house to do it. I don’t know why– I’m certainly not homebound, and I would actually prefer to go to the clinic, but I wasn’t given another option. So a stranger comes to my house, brings a bunch of medical equipment, and puts an IV in my arm. 

Now, getting the IV isn’t exactly pleasant. The first time, I almost passed out. I think because she first had to take 2 vials of blood, and well, being anemic already, that made me a bit light headed. Once I got over that, the treatment was fine. My second treatment was better– she didn’t have to take blood and I didn’t almost pass out. She had to put it in my wrist because the doctor had just taken blood from the inside of my elbow that morning, and the IV hurt a bit more in the wrist than in the arm. But even the IV isn’t the most unpleasant part of this treatment.

The worst part is having a stranger in my house, making my dogs crazy, spreading her shit out everywhere, and requiring me to make small talk while the IV drips. Ugh. The first treatment was especially bad, because my spouse was sleeping, so I had to try to keep the dogs quiet… which didn’t work. For my second treatment, my husband was home and he took the dogs with him to the basement, which was much better. Also the first treatment was longer, due to my almost fainting and the fact that she had to do a bunch of paperwork for me. Finally, she brought all the stuff over on the first visit, and there was medical shit eeeevvverywhere. I did not care for that. Especially because she evidently dropped/lost a bag of caps or something that go to the IV. My husband found it and threw it away, but what if the dogs had found it first? And what if it was needles!!

Luckily, the second treatment went much better. The dogs were less annoying with my husband there. It wasn’t nearly as long of a visit, which meant less small talk. And we didn’t have to small talk the whole time, because she was doing some work on her computer while I was being infused. And she’d left all the pertinent medical crap at our house, so it was all contained in this one bag and wasn’t spread out everywhere. So as far as having a stranger in my house for an extended amount of time goes, it wasn’t so bad. But still. I’ll be glad when the next 3 treatments are done!

The Pregnant Introvert

So yes, the big news is that, after 2 years of trying, we are finally expecting! At 18 weeks tomorrow, I’m pretty close to halfway through the pregnancy, so I thought now was a good time to blog about my experience so far. (Also, tonight was just the time I had a few minutes and felt motivated to write!)

Being pregnant as an introvert has been interesting. Usually I am not so big on sharing personal things with the general public (while also being fairly open about my personal life, if people ask or it comes up), but in this case I could not wait to share the news! We found out right around 5 weeks, so it was very early. Luckily, we were already planning to see my in-laws the weekend after we found out, so we didn’t have to wait long to tell them. My parents were out of town at the time, though, and since I wanted to tell them in person, that meant waiting until the following Wednesday, I think. It was torture not being able to talk to my mom about what I was going through, especially because at that point I was still really worried and terrified that I was going to lose the baby. It was somewhat irrational, but after all we went through to get pregnant, the idea sent me (literally) into a panic. And since I can’t take my break-through anxiety medication (Xanax) while pregnant, I had to fend off a few panic attacks with other, non-pharmaceutical tools (namely, deep breathing and Star Trek). Of course, if I’d REALLY needed to talk, I’d have called her, but mostly I just wanted to talk about little things.

Once we told the parents, it was still hard to wait until 8 weeks to tell my close friends, 10 weeks to tell my band members (and explain why I was being kind of wussy about the long hours and heat at Fest!), and 12 weeks to tell my coworkers and the general public!! Work was especially difficult, since I was making some urgent trips to the bathroom to throw up. Luckily I only had about 3 weeks of that, and I wasn’t puking every day, so it wasn’t that hard to hide. But I was seriously counting the days until I could make that little announcement! Of course that’s normal– it’s very exciting news– but having to struggle NOT to talk is a bit odd as a very strong introvert! 😉

The next big news, which we didn’t have to wait at all to tell, was that we’re having a boy. 🙂

Hardtack Jack’s Debut Performance; or, Mudpocalypse

This weekend, my band, Hardtack Jack, had our debut performance and gig at the Iowa Renaissance Festival in the Amana Colonies. It was simultaneously a great time and probably the worst fest experience I’ve ever had. Allow me to explain.

The bad part was mainly the weather. It was really, really bad. Saturday it rained pretty much all day, not all that heavily, but enough to basically restrict us to our covered stage area and the trailer. It was also chilly, and the combination of the two seemed to keep patrons away (and I can’t blame them).

Our first few sets were a little rocky—I screwed up notes several times, partly due to nerves and partly due to cold fingers. I also sang one of my shanties in the wrong key. 😛 For that reason it was probably good that our audiences were pretty small, especially on Saturday morning. But by the end of the day, we were getting in to the groove a bit more, and we were asked to do a song at the closing gate show. We did “Whale of a Tale,” which everyone seemed to enjoy, and then we all sang “Health to the Company” and it was very nice.

That evening we went to dinner in the Amana Colonies, at a place called the Colony Inn that had delicious German food and fruit wine. I should have brought some of the wine back, but I kind of forgot about it in all the chaos that ensued over the rest of the weekend…

Sunday it rained most of the day again. We had a bit of a break when we were able to play a few songs outside of our stage. We acquired a fan who listened to us for quite awhile and requested a few songs and sang along. He actually stood uncomfortably close to us, but he was a nice enough guy. At about 4:30 the torrential rain hit—it rained so hard that we couldn’t even really do our last show, because the rain on the roof was so loud we couldn’t even hear each other. This went on until around 6, and flooding ensued. Everyone’s cars were near to flooding, getting stuck in the parking area, and my bandmates S & J’s trailer that we were using as our home base got seriously stuck.

For dinner, S & J planned to stay in, but they were kind enough to let me drive the Suburban so I could accompany C & JP back to the hotel they were staying at and eat at the Ox Yoke, which was nearby. There we encountered a woman who had been at a couple of our shows on Sunday. She had requested “something by Gaelic Storm” right when we were already about to play a Gaelic Storm song, “Lover’s Wreck.” Strange coincidence! Anyway, we had an interesting conversation with her and she told us she took some pictures of us, and she exchanged cards with C so hopefully we can get copies of some of them.

New Dog, Take II

After the debacle we had with our first second dog, I’m happy to report that things are going great with our second attempt at a second dog. Gilligan is a great boy. He’s about a year and a half old and came from a shelter in Alabama or Arkansas or somewhere in the South, and he hasn’t had a whole lot of training, so he does have a couple of bad habits. He’s still learning what he should and should not put his teeth on. (Should: food, dog toys, Trip– in play of course; Shouldn’t: shoes, furniture, people.) But luckily as far as chewing goes, he’s really only chewed up one of my shoes, and a corner of our ottoman, which was on its last leg anyway. He hasn’t chewed on any other furniture. And while he does still mouth at us in play sometimes, it is clearly in play and he never bites hard enough to break the skin, like Odo did. He also responds to us telling him “No bite!” unlike Odo, who was impossible to control once he started biting.

 Trip has also taken to Gilly a lot more than he ever did with Odo. We’ve had Gilly for about 3 weeks now, and they have been sleeping in a proper dog pile for at least a week– something Trip never did with Odo. By the end of his 3-week stint with us, Trip still only reluctantly got up on the couch if Odo was already there. But Trip seems to have accepted Gilly as part of the pack. 🙂 And how could he not, look at that face!

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Forum Conference in Chicago

Last week I attended the Forum for Education Abroad‘s conference in Chicago. It was good but INTENSE! It was a short conference (Wednesday night through Friday afternoon) so all the usual receptions, meetings, etc were condensed.

I don’t think most people love conferences, and in general I don’t think they are introverts’ favorite things. They’re definitely not my favorite things. But this conference was interesting– I was reading the blog I wrote when I attended the CIEE conference in Philadelphia, and a lot of things were very different this time around.

Some logistical things were different. First of all, since it was in Chicago, several of us roadtripped down there in a minivan. That definitely added to the “E”-time, but it was fine. We were a pretty quiet bunch in the van, actually. Not that I didn’t want to talk to them, but it was nice not to feel like I had to keep up with a conversation for 8 hours. The last time I roadtripped to a conference (in Fargo, ND, a couple of years ago), it was a pretty much an 8-hour conversation, which was fine but tiring.

I also had a roommate this time around. I enjoyed having my own room in Philly, but it was fun having a roomie, too. The few times I’ve roomed with coworkers at conferences or whatnot have been nice, because it does kind of allow me to get to know people on a more individual basis, and I’m more comfortable and apt to open up on those terms. So even though I’ve known the person I roomed with this time around for several years, and have always liked her, I enjoyed the chance to have some more in-depth, one-on-one conversation time.

Aside from those kind of logistical differences, this conference was different simply because I’ve been in the field longer, in a position that allows/necessitates more collaboration with people in other organizations in the field.  I am starting to feel like I know people in the field– I ran into the director of the international office of our partner university in Ireland and got to chatting with her for awhile. I met several people that I’ve worked with over email or phone, but had never met in person. I even lamented the fact that I didn’t run into someone– a colleague from Australia who I knew was going to be at the conference. (I saw her from afar once, but didn’t get a chance to say hello.) And randomly, I ran into a friend from high school! I knew she was in the field, but I didn’t know she was going to be at this conference, so that was really fun!

The conference, content-wise, was fine. A lot of the time at conferences, I feel like a lot of the topics are kind of common sense, but I suppose that comes from having the good fortune to work in an office where we have been able to be on the cutting edge of the field and implement a lot of innovations that are kind of just catching on elsewhere.

The conference was so busy that unfortunately I didn’t get out of the hotel hardly at all, and didn’t really get to enjoy Chicago. I did have a little outing to the Billy Goat Tavern with colleagues from my office, but beyond that I was pretty much in the hotel. I’d have liked to get down to the lake, but oh well. Another time!