The Lupron Diaries: Vacation and Victory

Last weekend, Joey and I took a trip to Waynesville, NC, to stay in a cabin in the woods and hike all the miles. Although the accommodations left a bit to be desired, I think this was probably the best camping trip we’ve ever had.

On Friday, we hiked the Pink Beds Loop again, but this time, we made it all the way to the waterfall off the Barnett Branch Trail.  It was WELL worth the mile of straight uphill.  The waterfall was about 25 feet high, and the water was ice cold.  Indy was thrilled to get a drink.


Here’s a shot of Indy at our campsite.  She looks so regal.  I think I overestimated her ability to adapt to a strange situation, though.  She didn’t enjoy being trussed up on a lead, and she was afraid of the campfire.  She’ll learn, though.


On Saturday, we went to the North Carolina Arboretum.  I’ll have to do a separate post dedicated to that, because I took a TON of pictures.  The below is part of their quilt garden; every year, they create a different pattern on individual squares. This year was a butterfly; can you see it?


They also had a fantastic bonsai exhibit.  Joey has dabbled with bonsai here and there, so he was beyond thrilled to see all of the trees. I took pictures of each one, and it’s definitely renewed his interest in picking it back up again.

We ended up leaving on Sunday so we’d have a day to recuperate at home, but not before hiking Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC.  While we didn’t make it all the way up to the pinnacle, we did get plenty of beautiful pictures along the way.  The below is at Split Rock, about a half mile up the trail.


The first mile of the hike was along this creek; it was full of cascades and rapids, and Indy wanted to check out each one.


We hiked a total of 11.5 miles over the course of three days.  It was exhilarating, but also an eye-opener.  We’ve got a lot of work left to do before Mount Mitchell at the end of July.

I’m still counting it as a victory over Lupron, though.  On previous camping trips, we would’ve spent the bulk of our time hanging around the campsite and snacking.  This time, we spent it out in nature, working out and getting excellent views along the way.  I did have a few clumsy moments, but Joey was there to grab me before I stumbled.  I had a few “Lupron sadness” moments as well, but he talked me out of those.  He’s pretty great that way:).

Hiking has been such an effective means of dealing with this journey through endometriosis and its treatment.  I’m forced to unplug while we’re out on a trail…there’s no phone reception, no chance to fiddle around on Facebook or check my Instagram feed.  I’m forced to be observant of the present moment and little else; I have to watch the ground diligently for roots and rocks.  I have to pay attention to my surroundings lest I miss a beautiful waterfall (or a bear…it goes both ways).  There’s no time to think about my dysfunctional body or whether or not we’ll ever get to have a biological child.

There’s just miles of trail.  And not dying…there’s that too.


Vacation Fail and Feeling Stuck…

I let a couple of weeks go by without blogging; it’s okay…it happens. Vacation came and went, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the time of relaxation I’d hoped it would be. It started on a good note; we got $158 for our dishes, which was about what I’d expected, so I’m satisfied with that. It’s also good to have them gone, even though the cabinets are still in dire need of both purging and rearranging. That’ll come at some point.

I think the vacation was doomed to start. I really wanted a big trip like we had last year where we went to different attractions, museums, and tours. I didn’t communicate that well, so we ended up in a cabin in Asheville.


It was a gorgeous cabin right on the French Broad River, but part of the withdrawal symptoms from going off this Celexa (I’ll do a post specifically on that in the future) is his terrible feeling of malaise and irritability, and having too much downtime lets my mind just sit in that place and the depression snowballs on itself and gets worse. That ended up being exactly what happened.

That’s not to say that there weren’t bright spots, though! We had campfires the first two nights.


And steak and eggs for breakfast Tuesday (steak cooked over the fire)!


We went to the Museum of Cherokee History.


It rained all day Wednesday, and then I woke up Thursday with a cold. I swear, this is the fourth vacation where I’ve gotten sick. We ended up leaving Thursday instead of Friday so I could be sick at home. The last year is the sickest I’ve ever been, honestly.

I’ve been struggling with feeling “stuck” lately. We’ve reached a bit of a crossroads in our lives right now and are trying to figure out where to go from here, and that’s been challenging. I haven’t been praying or reading the Bible like I should; I know that’ll give us clarity and probably show us what to do but, for whatever reason, it’s proven to be easier said than done.

It’ll all make sense in due time, I’m sure.

I Am Camping My Butt Off!

We are enjoying our final camping “hurrah” of the year; I always take the week of Thanksgiving off from work for several reasons…it’s Joey’s and my anniversary week, it only requires three vacation days rather than the full five, and most of my coworkers like to take time off at Christmas and I like Thansgiving better anyway.

Joey and I usually try to plan a vacation of some sort during that week, ever since our honeymoon in 2002; it’s funny…we planned our wedding around Thanksgiving break since we were both still in college and needed to plan it around school vacation:).  We’ve always been practical, I suppose.

Anyway, with as much stress as we’ve had lately, between my recovery of the “mental holocaust” of 2011 and our various work-and-school related deadlines and drama, Joey and I really haven’t gotten any time to just rest.  So, we’ve packed up the camper and gone to Black Mountain for a little R&R.

Here’s my attempt at looking thuggish in my newly knitted Slouchy Hipster Hat which is a fantastic free pattern from one of my favorite knit-bloggers, Crazy Aunt Purl.  It’s a little big on me, so I’ll probably knit another one with smaller needles, but it’s very cute, and it has come in very handy with how chilly it’s been up here.


A nighttime fire pic, as I take on every trip.  Everything smells like campfire right now, my clothes, my hair, the inside of the camper…everything, and it’s wonderful.  It’s like a little piece of heaven.


From this morning, while we were getting the fire started back up to cook breakfast:


Chef Joseph and the bacon:


And a plate of goodness:  3 strips of bacon (I pulled off the fatty parts and tossed them in the fire), hash browns, two scrambled eggs, one piece of rye toast, and some coffee.  Food tastes better when cooked over an open fire.


Yesterday, we found a funky local diner to have breakfast, it was called “Louise’s,” and it was definitely hipster-y grungy cool, but the food kind of sucked and the coffee came out of a pump caraffe, which is sign number one that the service and coffee are both going to be lackluster.  I’m not sure how much we spent, but I’m relatively sure it was too much.  But, it’s all good because that’s part of the adventure…finding little hole-in-the-wall places and new experiences.

I’m also bummed that we don’t have Ingle’s at home because it’s so much nicer than Harris Teeter.  We’re going to have to make our way out today because, among other things we’ve got to get, I forgot a hairbrush.  Yep.  a hairbrush.  The hat has gotten very liberal use as a result.

Now for a little chilling and doing this:


Boone Camping, 8/18-8/23

Last week, we took our inaugural camping trip with our camper, and it was certainly an adventure!

I didn’t have high hopes when we drove up and this was the sign that greeted us.  It looks like a five-year-old made it.

The staff, however, was full of people who were very intelligent and also kind and accomodating.  They helped Joey get backed in and helped us when part of the trailer broke and I ended up inside sobbing and cussing about how we never should have taken on this debt and we need to drive right back home and sell it.  Yep, it was a little much.

I got over it.


Kit is my “camping buddy.”  She’s been with me on all of my camping trips, and she’s pretty badass since she’s both a kitteh and a skeleton.


I think Joey was glad to be done with the backing/set-up/poop-hose-maintenence/watching wife-spin-off-into-drama-oblivion.  Once he got settled down with some potato chips, he was pretty happy.

There were many good meals, including an excellent chili that our friends Chris and Christine made when they came up for one night.  She has all of the pictures.  Here, however, is the meal that we made on Sunday night.  Steaks and roasted corn over the fire.  It was, without a doubt, the second-best steak I’ve ever had in my life.  Joey did an excellent job.


On Monday, we went to Blowing Rock.  This was the view from the top observation deck.


yeah, me and the rock.  One of them, at least

And another campfire shot.

Additional things:

  1. I’ve never made s’mores before. Christine made them and now I’m hooked.
  2. I can cook ANYTHING in cast iron.  Freakin’ eh!
  3. Always make sure you ask if the sewer hookup is ground level.  Ours wasn’t.  Joey had to run the dirty water down it one hose at a time and work it to the end of the hose.  Not fun when all that’s between you and some stinky poop is a few tenths of an inch of plastic.
  4. Never cook bacon in cast iron inside.
  5. There is no hook for the shower nozzel, so you have to use the want attachment, spray down, turn off the shower, soap up, rinse off, repeat.  Several times.  Shaving one’s legs is not in the cards.  I learned to embrace my inner-hippie.  But I still wore deoderant.
  6. College move-in weekend is probably not the best time to go to Boone, NC.
  7. Neighbors are great.  Our neighbors on the next site, Warren and Mary, helped us out a ton with first-time RV-ing questions, and we sat with them for two nights hanging out.  They were high school sweethearts and are turning 70 this year.  Such amazing people.
  8. You have to turn sideways and put your butt in the shower to have enough room to use TP after you poop.
  9. Towing a trailer up and down a mountain?  Scary as hell, but Joey did an excellent job.
  10. I MISSED SHELLI so much.  We’re working on the modifications that we need to make so we can take her next time.

Oh, and on a side note, if you’re a reader of Daisy the Curly Cat, she had a little scare this morning with a link on her blogroll that got hacked, which caused her to be listed by Google as a site with potentially hazardous malware.  She found out what the problem was, removed the link, been cleared by Google, and all has been restored, so if you encountered the warning this morning, don’t fear, all is well, and you can go back to her site without any worries of big, scary monsters.

More to come.  Probably more rambly stuff.  But stuff.

I Hate Laundry

So, I think that we may have folded laundry once or twice this past year.  I know.  Shameful.  I told Joey to take a picture of me under the giant pile of laundry I was slowly folding my way out of.  He said that he was too embarrassed…so I figured that I’d go ahead and put it out here for the whole interwebs to see.  Of course, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, or you’ve read my hundred things about me post, this is no surprise to you.

We tackled the monster today and won.  And I’m going to have a big bag of stuff for Goodwill, too.  Maybe it’s also time for another yard sale.  While we’ve never made as much money as we made at the first one we did, it’s still a decent way to make a little dough for not too much effort.  Maybe in September.

I cannot WAIT to go camping.  Today, we went to Wal Mart and were able to outfit the camper with some pretty nice stuff.  I’ll feel a lot better Thursday afternoon when we’re all set up, but the thought of six days of camping bliss has me over the moon.  I hope I’ll be able to focus during work this week.  I’m already excited.

Also, it’s nice to feel excited about something again.  One of the things I missed most about mental stability is the ability to enjoy things *today* rather than always fretting about tomorrow or wishing that I’d taken more time to enjoy yesterday.  The day after we saw The Monkees, I cried of and on all day because I knew I’d never get to have that joy again.  It was like I completely ignored how insanely joyful the day/night was and focused only on what I’d no longer had.  I’m now able to see it for the joy that it was and, even though I doubt they’ll tour again in five years, I got to see them twice in my life.

I actually feel like putting on makeup again.  I actually feel like cooking at home and taking care of myself.  I actually feel like pulling out the Wii fit.  I actually feel like painting my nails again.  I’m starting to see the joy in the small things.  In the today things again.  I don’t feel as guilty that I want to take care of my skin, that I want nice makeup and cute clothes and that it’s okay to worry about those things, too, and not to get increasingly overwhelmed because there are shelter kitties without homes that I can’t help, that I can’t necessarily live the lifestyle that I want, to have the job that I want right now, to eat in a way that matches my ethics.  But I do feel like I’ll be able to get there eventually.  I feel like I can take the one step forward and then wait to be shown the one after that, rather than standing still, too afraid to make any move.

A month or two, I would have been too overwhelmed even to look at the laundry pile in its entirety, much less than to touch it and definitely not to fold it.  I wouldn’t have been able to clean the coffee table or spend ten or fifteen minutes vacuuming the living room.  Tomorrow, I’m going to try to tackle the dresser.

Okay, enough of all of that.  Here are a couple of pictures so I’m not boring you with pictureless inner-monologues of rambling:-)

Me on the horse I rode last summer in Gatlinburg.  Her name was Daisy!! 

All four of us on our horses

Here’s an interior shot of the camper

A shot from the other direction

Okay, folks.  I’m going to hit the bed, I think.  My low-battery light came on, and this post is too long anyway:-). 

I’m Having a Hard Time Sleeping…

and, as such, I’m out on the couch watching episodes of Dirty Jobs, hoping that maybe I’ll drift off again in a few.  I have this horrible habit of cracking my knuckles in bed when I can’t get to sleep…popping any joint that I can get to pop, actually, and rather than driving Joey nuts (or at least cause him to have some horrible dream), I’d come out to the living room and give him some peace and quiet.  He’s had a hard time getting enough sleep too. 

My friend Angela lost her dog yesterday.  She found out at work and had to leave to go  be with her family.  He was 17 and had been with her through so many significant times in her life.  I cried off and on all day because I was so sad for her and because it threw me back into memories of Puss and then brought to mind the fact that Shelli is four already.  In just a couple more years, she’ll be considered a senior cat.  I almost can’t bear the thought of it.  And, because I’m sick like that, I Googled “memorial poems for pets” and read them and cried and cried.  I’m not sure why I did that…it seems a little twisted in retrospect.

I know that a lot of this is hormones…honestly, guys, my hormones have been so jacked up after the mental apocalypse that was the last six months that I don’t know whether I’m coming or going emotionally.  I’m going back to my PCP in the fall (so I can lose some more weight and he won’t tell me how fat I am) to try to get everything straightened out.  One thing I do appreciate about the first part of the year is that it’s renewed my motivation to take control of my own health and pay attention to myself rather than simply trying to get out of bed in the morning.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been going back and reading my previous blogs, and I noticed that the past several ones have been pretty superficial…I’m sorry for that.  Honestly, I’ve done a pretty good job of pretending that I was doing okay…half of me didn’t want to be seen as weak and the other half didn’t want to burden others since most of my acquaintances didn’t really care about my situation anyway.  This whole ordeal has given me a new perspective on my friends at work and has made me appreciate so much how they really do care about me.  Even though I’m not thrilled about being in the cubicle world all day, I’m pretty blessed with coworkers who are really my friends and who worry about how I’m doing.

Chris and Daisy, I’ve been clinging to you every day.  It’s been a great help to have your blogs to read first thing in the mornings.

My bridesmaid dress fitting is on Thursday and I’m totally dreading it like it’s a trip to the dentist or a pap smear or something.  I’ve only lost about twenty pounds, and I was aiming for fifty or sixty.  I don’t even know if it’s really going to make a difference in the size of the dress.  I’m going to keep working on it, though, and I’ll probably go back toward the end of September to get fitted again.

I’m back on the thesis horse.  I feel like I can do it now that I’m more mentally stable, so I’m going to get that sucker done and graduate in December.  It’ll be taking an extra semester, but I’m okay with that.

Phil is hanging in there.  He’s got some more chemo and then a scan on the 31st that’ll dictate whether or not he can have the surgery to remove the diseased part of his pancreas.  If so, the surgery will happen on September 14th.  He and his family are so amazing and so strong.

So, that’s the heavy part of my life-update.  Here’s what I’m looking forward to now that I’m not an emotional basket case:

  1. knitting again!!  I’ve got two patterns and pretty yarn for some excellent frocks for Miss Daisy the Curly Cat :).
  2. writing, both academically and personally.  Blogging has always been theraputic for me, and I really appreciate that there are a precious few people out there who, for some ungodly reason, are interested in what I have to say.  I love each and every one of you.
  3. frugality.  Since we bought the camper last month, we’re going to have to be much more prudent with our funds to be able to handle paying for it.  I’m looking forward to having frugal challenges again and seeing just how much we can do with our funds.
  4. Fall!  Summer isn’t really fun for me now that I’m not in school and don’t get any time off.  And now that it’s so freaking hot here now.  I don’t remember it being quite so hot when I was younger.  Fall is the time of year when I really thrive and I’m at my best.  There’s something about the crisp air, pumpkins, spices, the changing leaves, fall camping.  It makes me feel alive.

Well, that’s all of the inner monologue that I have tonight, folks.  I’m going to kick back on the couch, start another episode of Dirty Jobs, and hope that I’ll be able to doze off for a while before my alarm goes off at 6:15.

Happy Freakin’ Birthday, Stupidhead…

In case you were wondering, I am the above-mentioned Stupidhead.  One day before my thirtieth birthday, and I go ahead and do this:

See the toes peeking out?  Yep.  I freakin’ sprained my ankle the day before my thirtieth birthday.  We’d planned an excellent day of hiking through the mountains, and now I’m spending my birthday on the couch with my leg elevated.  I was at the Botanical Garden in Asheville (waaay overrated.  They should call it the “weed garden.”  It was hardly worth the injury.  Anyway, they’ve got stone steps that lead down to the visitor center, and I found one of the uneven places on one of the steps.  I heard the pop and felt sick as I sat down hard on the steps:(.  And, in customary Melanie-fashion, I couldn’t rest and immediately put it up because we were having a day with friends and I needed to keep walking.  At least I didn’t have to hike a mile and a half like last time.  But I did walk on it for another three hours and as such, I wasn’t able to put any weight on it after the three hour drive back home.  After lots of ice and TLC from Mr. PhD, I’m feeling much better today. 

We went to Blessings Cafe this morning, which was how I’d planned to start my birthday either way, but instead of a nice hike in the 75* mountains, I’m laying on my couch with my ankle elevated in the 75* house.  That’s okay, though.  It’ll just end up being a day of MST3K and blog-reading.  Hopefully, I’ll be back in full-health by the time we go camping in August in this:

Yep, some people shell out money on expensive computers and cars, but we decided to spend the dough on a 10-year-old camper.  I know we’ll get a lot of joy out of this over the years:)

So, anyway, I’m thirty today…actually, I think right about now (lunchtime), and it feels strangely like twenty-nine.  Hopefully, my thirtieth year will be significantly better than the last few.  I’m feeling strangely optimistic these days.

PeeWee Herman, Camping, and Things I Wish I Could Say

I cannot believe that my generation was so fond of PeeWee Herman when we were kids.  He was a functionally retarded manchild who talked to his chair.  How did no one see the prono-theater incident coming?

Here are some long-overdue camping photos from a couple of weeks ago.

Chairs and fire ring:

I have this thing about taking pictures of fire at night.  It’s the only time when the true beauty of the fire itself can be captured:

I NEVER get good pictures of myself.  But this one is better than some.

This was our amazing deck; we were high above the rest of the campground, and when it rained, we sat on the deck and watched and listened.

A fire picture taken with the flash.

I took this one with the Macro setting on my point-and-shoot.  It turned out pretty good; that’s an eggshell and a piece of potato that fell out of the skillet when Joey was making breakfast for us:)

Thing that ran through my head today that I wished I could say, but didn’t:  I’m sorry, but the problem isn’t with the software…it seems to be your IQ that’s causing your trouble.  I’m afraid that I can’t help you with that.


I’m aching to put on my Vibrams… 

and hit a trail or two…

dip my toes in a waterfall…

camp by a creek…

enjoy the sunshine…

climb to the mountaintop…

and come back to camp for dinner by the fire…

We haven’t camped since September, and it feels like it’s been FOREVER.  It’s time to break out the gear and air out the tent.  It’s time to decompress.

Knitted Yarmulke, Baby Gifts, Camping Pictures, and Sob-Inducing Books

I knitted a yarmulke the other day.  It’s kind of awesome.


I also finally finished my knitted gifts for my favorite blogger, Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter.  I wanted to wait until I knew she’d gotten them before I posted pics of the finished objects.



The Sleep Sack is Comfort Wool’s Owlie Sleep Sack.  It was my second attempt at cables, and it was amazingly easy…this is a great beginner pattern for someone looking to try their hand at cables…the cabled portion is short and sweet, just enough to push you out of your comfort zone, followed by ten inches of mindless stockinette, during which time you can silently rejoice over your conquering of the dreaded cable needle;).  The owls blocked out really well.  I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Cotton, which was insanely soft.  I’m totally going back to spend some green papers on more of that to make myself a sweater sometime in the near future.

And here are some camping pics…I intended to post these earlier but somehow didn’t feel like posting during my recent bout with the plague (come on, freaking left ear….pop already).  Here’s the campsite


It was fabulous…secluded, wooded, spacious.  There was an elevated pad for the tent, which was nice…it rained on us Sunday, and if it had poured, the tent pad would have kept us from getting flooded.  Check out this fire ring…


It was HUGE.  We could have put a whole tree trunk in there…Joey actually had a little trouble managing to fit the cooking grate in it.  You’re looking at our breakfast Saturday (9/25)…potatoes, leftover chili, and hot coffee.  Food is better cooked over a fire.  I don’t know why.  It’s just that way.

I’m leaving for NYC on Friday, to sing with the choir at this concert at Carnegie Hall.  My voice is starting to go (for some reason, that’s always the last thing to happen when I contract the plague.  Once, I lost my voice for three weeks).  I’m hopeful that I won’t end up lip-syncing during what’ll probably be my most outrageous singing experience ever (of course, I’ve said that before and here I am heading to NYC). 

I’ve re-discovered how much I hate shopping.  Before leaving, I needed:  a bag to carry around the city, a duffel bag for packing, a black top for the concert, new black shoes for the concert, and jeans (I only have one pair that I can get in right now).  I have been to EVERY (affordable) store in Charlotte.  And I hate it.  I’m a mercenary shopper…I run in, attack the racks, try things on in an insane frenzy of elbows and hair, sweating and ripping things back off and half-putting them on the hanger right.  But I’m finally done…four pairs of jeans from Goodwill, a bag from Burlington, black top from Belk (in the south, it’s “Belk’s”), and Aigner shoes from The Shoe Dept (on clearance for fifteen bucks!).  I don’t want to shop again for the rest of the year.

So, I’ve watched Criminal Minds, Joey’s watching a show on PBS about the Moral Majority and abortion…they totally just showed a clip from the 80s where Jerry Falwell was giving a speech about abortion and got a pie thrown at him.  Wow.  And I wish that I had remembered to get a decaf latte at Caribou when I met my parents after work.

Oh, and this week’s book for class, Our House in the Last World, by Oscar Hijuelos, reduced me to a snot-dripping, crying, basket case for half an hour this evening.  It’s a great book, but for once, I’d like to read one that doesn’t make me cry and wonder what’s happened to my life.  It also makes me want to write things that are that important.  But I don’t know if I really have anything that important to say.

Here’s the baby…sleeping soundly on Vellux.


Love to all…