The dizzy spells started at the beginning of October in 2012. I was in my second year of graduate school at the University of Mississippi (more commonly known by all you NCAA-aficionados out there as “Ole Miss”) studying for my Masters in Higher Education Administration. “Oh so you’re a professor?” No, I am not a professor. “So what exactly do you do?” Most people ask this with such hesitation, it’s as if they somehow know I am destined for a career of job uncertainty and a salary that will never come close to those of my friends in the corporate world. One week (in the not-so-distant past), I had Ramen for dinner. Every single night. It’s like that State Farm commercial when the young girl has moved to a new city and is on a “Ramen-Noodle-Every-Night Budget” (you did the guy’s voice in your head, didn’t you?), but somehow she still makes room in said budget to pay what is probably WAY too much for State Farm car insurance for her shitty little car. Girlfriend. Sell your car, take public transportation (for the most part, it’s not that bad!), and save enough money to eat something better than pre-packaged noodles mixed with an undistinguishable condiment that comes in a flavor packet. At least she has options and an asset or two. I, on the other hand, am equipped only with $40K+ in student loan debt and sass that will knock your socks off. All for the love of college students and their troubles…
Before I go any further, it’s important to prepare yourselves for my writing style. I wouldn’t say I “go off on tangents” because A) I believe there is a method to my madness and it will all come full circle and make total sense in the end and B) that phrase is overly-used and cliché and I just don’t like to say it.
Also, I like to use a lot different punctuation and writing techniques to get my points across. Cases in point:
- Ellipses…because who doesn’t love a good dot-dot-dot? They are fun, useful, and create that type of pause a comma just cannot. Speaking of…that poor, poor comma. Having to constantly deal with being omitted and spliced buy the uneducated writer? We should all respect our friend, and his struggle, a little bit more.
- Parentheses. I equate the things you find in parentheses (or at least the stuff I put in them) with the way my brain works. Read them. They will contain funny and worthwhile things to digest (I promise!).
- Caps lock. Again, the way my brain works is best expressed through not-so-random bursts of excitement or anger or sarcasm. Sometimes, I just want to put more emphasis on a word. Writing in all caps gets a bad rap. Used effectively and sparingly, it can definitely add value. Ex: “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?” (probably what was written in the script notes for the Chandler Bing/Joey Tribbiani fight on that one episode of Friends)
- Less technique, more style – I will probably definitely use pop culture references. A lot. Brittany is totally bad at this, so I have assumed responsibility and commit to carrying the torch in this aspect of our blog. I vow to only reference shows/movies/music that any semi-informed, living-above-a-rock, average adult (in their 20s or 30s) would/should get.
*Ok. End disclaimer. Good grief, please stick with me. I promise the title of this post will make sense at the end. We all deserve at least a little satisfaction in life.
So there I am, celebrating the fact that I am over halfway done with grad school, and (more or less) minding my own business in Oxford, Mississippi. Oxford: the home of Ole Miss, spectacular fried catfish…and not much else. Last Call on a Saturday for all bars? 11:30pm. ELEVEN THIRTY PEE EM. What the actual hell? Just one of the many quirks I would come to tolerate appreciate of my new home. Put simply, Oxford is a small town that revolves around and lives/dies by the university and its students. You’ll be hard-pressed to visit and find someone who isn’t affiliated with the university in some way. Those who love Oxford LOVE Oxford; the community and the Oxford “way of life” are just the right fit for most of my former colleagues and classmates at Ole Miss. Having lived in a city (or 25 miles north of one) my entire life, I moved to Oxford nervous yet attempting to keep an open mind. I believed the change in scenery and a new culture and environment to explore would be exciting while I trudged through grad school. I had lived in the south my entire life…how hard could it be to find my place, my own temporary fit in this quintessential southern town?
Really. Fucking. Hard. And I wouldn’t realize exactly how hard until two years AFTER I first stepped foot on Mississippi soil.
The dizzy spells started at the beginning of October of 2012.
I won’t bore you with (too many) details. I was dizzy constantly. Morning to night, every damn day from the beginning of October to the beginning of April, I was dizzy. Not dizzy like dehydrated-dizzy or light-headed-dizzy. Just…dizzy. In the beginning, I did what I always did…attempted to ignore it, because at some point, it had to stop. But it didn’t. I visited the doctors that I could (heads up: graduate student health insurance is less than spectacular) who were all perplexed by my case and could not give me answers. So I turned to the internet. You’ve all heard the joke about the risk of going online to look up symptoms when you are sick because you’ll end up convincing yourself you have cancer.
Y’all, I was convinced I had cancer. And/or a brain tumor.
After many sleepless nights and a full-fledged breakdown (or two), it turned out that I did NOT have cancer or a brain tumor. Yet those six months were the scariest of my life. Had it not been for some very special people in my corner (including the co-writer of this blog), I honestly don’t know what I would have done. My Friends Are My Family (And They Are Fantastic). New hit song right there…
Anxiety is a funny thing. When it’s there, it’s THERE. It consumes you, and you can think of nothing else. But when you learn to combat it and live with it, you almost “forget” to be anxious. Our brains are funny aren’t they? (the little shits) The terms “anxious” and “panic attack” have taken on an entirely different meaning, and I’m sensitive to when I hear them in conversation now. Because I have actually experienced them. I live in Chicago now (MUCH more on that later), I haven’t had a dizzy spell in almost a year, and things are overall going swimmingly. But I will never be “cured” of my anxiety. It’ll be there forever…and that’s okay. Everyone has anxiety about something: small spaces, flying, large crowds (all mine); the dentist, bad weather, small towns (again, mine); mayonnaise…Ok, THAT one is not mine. Mama June, the lovable matriarch of the Honey Boo Boo Clan from TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras owns that unique phobia. This poor 33-year old woman is legitimately afraid of a condiment. Easy to pass judgment on something so silly? Absolutely. But I have come to learn that we are all afraid of something, and more importantly, we are entitled to those fears. Hey…mayonnaise IS kind of gross. But if Mama June comes out and starts talking crap about ketchup, we’re going to have a problem.