Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is it over yet?

There are two things I don't do well, waiting for an exciting event... and Lent (partly because Lent is in fact waiting for an exciting event). The fact that one of them is almost over helps dramatically. I'm one of those horrible sinners that tends to find penance so discouraging that I have a harder time completing the basics. Sigh, one week left.

Oh, on that note, next Saturday will be my 7th Liturgical anniversary of being (fully) Catholic! I came into the Church on March 26, but it's the liturgical calendar that matters in this one, so it doesn't count. I've worn my Easter dress every year for Vigil (okay, except that one year). It's a weird feeling knowing that I may not be able to ever wear next year... (ya know, if I end up having one of those miniature versions of adults inside of me...).

So, on to the newest wedding woes. We have fired YET ANOTHER photographer. I don't know if I mentioned the first one or not, but they were seriously irritating. They contacted me once every two weeks from the get go about engagement shoots even though I told them that I didn't want to think about that for several more months. Anyway, this new guy was... heh.

James had told me that he wanted to make sure we didn't have someone who was like, "move your chin to the left... okay now to the right just a little... no that was too much" So I looked for a last minute replacement that didn't look like he would do that. I found one who was willing to negotiate the rate and hey... he was a photographer. So we went to our engagement shoot and she was trying to get us to act all funny and silly and stuff. Well, nothing will irritate my beloved more than taking the formality out of formal events. So we tried to talk to him about how we wanted more formal pictures, and this guy just couldn't get it through his head. We ended up just standing next to each other for just about all of them. He was completely unable to pose people. James looked up this style of photography and he found that it's called photo journalistic photography. If we had known about that, we would have looked harder for a "traditional" photography expert. Anyway, James looked this time and found this guy with a thick German accent. James was like, "he's European, he's in" Okay, it's a little hard for me to tell accents, but let me tell you this guy LOOKS German. He takes really nice photos, and he's cheaper than the other guys discounted rate. Unfortunately, we lost a couple of hundred dollars by cancelling so close to our date. Sigh. Anyway, we are going for our second try-engagement shoot on Wednesday.

Also, James sprung on me that he wants place cards. I'm like... ahhh! But then he said he'd do them all himself. I'm like, okay, but these better be cheap...

I'm trying to design the programs for the wedding... any suggestions? We will have to get them printed since I don't have acccess to a printer myself. We will need about 100, maybe 120 so that we'll have many extras.

It's looking like we will have about 15 too few people to get the room we reserved for the reception hall... AHHH!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Leisure, the basis of Nerd-dom

Proof I'm a nerd:

I am so frikkin excited (below is back story, I may get to the actual point at the end... unless I forget).

One of the things my dear hubby-to-be has been insisting is that I need to take a more leisurely approach to life (yes, he IS Italian, why do you ask?). Ever since he read Joseph Pieper's Leisure the Basis of Culture a few years ago, he's been going on a tirade about how America is too goal oriented and the meaning of life is not to work but to have leisure. You have to work for the purpose of leisure, not that you have leisure for the purpose of being able to work better. It honestly threw a wrench in my world view, and contributed (very indirectly) to my disillusionment of my last relationship (I later found out that James was attracted to me then, but felt horribly about it so he actually really tried to help patch things up, but was relieved when I ended it).

So here's the problem, there is good leisure and there is "not actually leisure." These are the technical, philosophical terms for it. Going to the bar and getting trashed = not actually leisure. All the while going to the bar to enjoy a drink or two with friends and pleasant conversation = leisure. Watching TV in excess = not actually leisure. Watching your favorite movie (that follows the basic guidelines for decent movie) = leisure. Reading = leisure. Hobbies = leisure. Spending an hour to make a good blog post = leisure. Spending 3 hours on facebook = not actually leisure.

This creates a difficulty for me in my Protestant-German leaning background. Even though I'm Catholic, it's hard to leave the way I was raised completely behind. I like to be productive, efficient, and punctual (and I'm marrying an Italian...why?). Within the first few weeks of starting my job, James had to scold me for wanting to purposefully work overtime just to get more done (and get more overtime checks). Not to mention, I'm no reader, and getting myself to do something actually considered leisurely is not the easiest. I often times am either trying to be productive or just being lazy (hence the 3 hours on facebook). Yes you theoretically can spend 3 hours on facebook in a leisurely way, I just don't (and I suppose the number that do could be counted on my fingers)

James is your classic example of intellectual. We seriously have over 800 books in my apartment right now. No he has not read them all, he would have to buy more books to be able to do that (it's a mathematical equation, don't ask). I have a minor form of dyslexia which has caused me over the years to develop a distaste for reading. I would probably be at least 3% smarter if I would bother to read, but I just have the hardest time picking up a book. Keeping the book is even harder. When I find a book I like, I either read in 3 days, or if it's a saint's book slowly digest it over the course of a year and a half. It's really hard for me to consistently pick up a book for an extended period of time.

This brings us to a predicament. James has a hard time thinking of anything other than reading and fishing as leisure. Don't get me wrong, if you bring up a leisurely topic he will quickly agree to it being leisurely, he just has that narrow minded intellectual's disease of not being able to think outside what he finds enjoyable... For about three weeks I asked him for leisurely suggestions and the first answer he came up with was "I don't know, grab a book, or a rod..." I realized that I was going to have to figure it out on my own after this (I'm a slow learner).

My first thought is to get back into collecting coins. I dabbled a bit in high school, but I never was any sort of serious numismatist.. My favorite coin is my own from 3rd Century Rome (you know when they were mass producing coins and diluting any value so that you can basically buy them from just about anywhere for 10 bucks now...) that I have since misplaced after taking it out to examine it for a time (sigh). I know it's in my apartment, so I'm not worried about it, I'll find it when we move. The increasing cost of metal means that I'd have to be really sneaky and clever to find any deals, and even then it would be hard. All of the good coins are going to be very expensive, and with the melt value ever increasing, more and more people are looking at collecting coins, making their value go up, up, up! I just don't have the resources to be an avid coin collector again.

So when I went to my parent's house for Christmas, I wanted something to do while I was there, as most of my friends were out of the area. I got caught up in my father's stamp collection, and I was hooked. The only thing? I find most of his stamps rather uninteresting. I don't get excited about fuzzy animals on stamps, or famous people (with an exception I'll mention below), or the modern royal family, or what. I started to notice some BEAUTIFUL stamps from former British territories with depictions of the Stations of the Cross, famous religious paintings, and about a million Madonna and Child's. I just about lost it. Some of these stamps are seriously works of art in and of themselves. Then I almost died.

...the Vatican makes stamps.

Ya, I know, right?!? My dad only had a couple of the less interesting ones, but his album listed so many beautiful Saint (the famous people I find VERY interesting) stamps, and commemorations of events in Church history. Sometimes, they even just celebrate beauty. Oh, let me tell you, the Italian influence on art is not lost in the Vatican. I looked into it more. These stamps can be some of the rarest in the world. The Vatican only makes a small number of stamps with each issue compared to larger countries. What's funny is that the Vatican post office runs more letters per resident than any other country. While this has a lot to do with the fact that a lot o top notch Vatican officials have official correspondence (and let's not forget that the inhabitant of the Chair of Peter is likely to get a LOT of mail), I found out that many Italians don't trust their postal system (can't imagine why) and if possible will take their mail to the trustworthy and efficient Vatican (yes, the Vatican does something timely and efficiently).

Now to my most recent nerd-dom.

Yesterday while I was searching for an affordable way to house my stamps, I came across a bona fide, used Vatican City stamp album. At $100, it looked like a better deal at first, because it only goes up to 1971, but here is the jewel. It's partly completed. Ya, I know! This has around 250 stamps from 1929 (the first year of Vatican issues) to 1971. My guess is that no one has gotten this collection appraised due to the lack of stamp content in the description. I don't think I'll find an ultra rare hundreds of thousand dollar stamp or anything, but I am guessing that the value of the stamps is easily worth more than the $50 I paid for it after using my amazon rewards points (which I needed to use up, too as I'm canceling my credit card soon and you can't use the points after you cancel). If you're reading this, sorry James, my new credit card doesn't have amazon points, but it does have a cashback bonus and if you'd like I can promise to give you any cashback rewards for books unless necessity demands otherwise (if you'd like? Who am I kidding?).

I was so excited about this find that I could hardly stand it. I wasn't intending to shop on a Sunday, I was more looking at options for buying albums and local stores and such. I consider that being leisurely toward my hobby... I guess I could be doing it wrong, though. I even asked James if I could buy it right then and there because who knows if someone else would snatch it up before midnight rolls around? He advised that I wait, and I agreed. I almost tried to stay up till midnight, but then I thought better of it. Time will pass more quickly when I'm asleep. I had a hard time getting to sleep (excitable? Me? Why do you bother asking?) but I woke up around 2:30 like I do every night  to go to the bathroom. At this point I TRIED to get back to sleep. I mean, I do have 9 hours at work tomorrow. But I just couldn't. So, being that it is Monday and no longer Sunday, I banished all qualms and set to ordering it right away! The seller is Abe Books (James calls is A-B-E books, but I'm thinking it's supposed to be pronounced like the Lincoln), but I bought it off of amazon because of the discounted price with points. I'm so excited, too that I paid the extra 6 dollars to ensure getting it by the end of THIS week (watch, it'll come on Saturday and I'll have to wait till Monday!)!!!! I'm having it delivered to my work so that I don't panic about it all day, and I can use my work's tracking system to see when it's coming. My boss told me from the beginning that they are fine with everyone getting their personal shipments at work (and sending them from there). I'm the shipping department at work, so I know she's right.

Now the next 40 years is the most expensive part of the album set, but I just can't believe the deal I got! Let me tell you, the apartment is going to go to Hades because I'm not going to want to do anything once I get it but examine and appraise my stamps (I'm not doing it for the money, I just want to know if I need to get my album insured). I'm so flipping excited I can't even tell you. I don't know if I'll get to sleep again tonight. I'm being brought to the glorious kingdom of Nerd-dom (I mean seriously, what girl in her mid 20s gets this excited abotu stamp collecting?)!'s so exciting! I could get it as early as WEDNESDAY!

In other news James got an article published!!! It was his first try and he got it published! I hesitate to tell you even the website that published it because I would be conveying our identities basically (a simple facebook search of him could tell you my name and location). What I will tell you is that it's about a lot of the bad attitudes associated with the HHS mandate from what are otherwise good and faithful Catholics (just ignorant of Church teaching on social issues, ps national healthcare is not an intrinsic evil, just not advised in the current situation). It's mainly arguing against classical liberalism and libertarians. I honestly haven't read the article. I started to and then I was like, "Ugh, I've heard this argument 10,000,000,000,000 (pronounced ten thousand-billion) times! Okay I exaggerated a little. Take out ONE of the 0's. If he asks me to, I'll read it. Otherwise, I'll be looking at my stamps.

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Medicine-y stuff

I know everyone (like the 3 of you that read this) is probably tired of hearing metalk about my medicine... but I don't care. 

I have great news!

I think the Humira is working!

The Saturday before last I took it for the first time. I couldn't feel the needle at all, but the medicine burned like the dickens! I'm going to let it sit out of the fridge a BIT longer next time. I started having some bad emotional side effects of the Prednizone (I've had that happen before), so I decreased my dose to once a day instead of twice (I don't recommend playing with your dose like that, but let's just say the side effect was getting kinda scarey). I also had to decrease my NSAID (mentioned that one to my doctor) because it was thinning my blood so much I was getting severe nose bleeds. So I basically halved my medicine that was already not enough to keep me out of extreme pain. 

Side note: last weekend, James and I went to the mall to look at wedding bands, as I stood up my knee had this searing pain, it was AWFUL! I was limping throughout the whole mall ("Honey, why did you have to park as FAR as you possibly COULD from the entrance?!?" "I didn't, I parked three spaces from the farthest spot!") Then we went to Kroger, where I finally gave in and got that new shiny pretty blue cane I'd been eyeing (I KNOW, I'm in my mid 20's and I've been EYEING A CANE! I'm such a geezer :p ) Another tangent, don't you find it odd that you have to be rather strong to be able to get the plastic devise off of a Kroger cane? I find that ironic...

Okay, back to the point. So, I halved my medicine, and I have been having one of the first weeks in a long time where I've been really REALLY good. Now I can't run a marathon or anything, but I'm hoping that I've finally found what I need to be my normal, happy self again. 

The downside? I can't breastfeed. I have been wanting to be able to for the longest time. So now I'm not only going to not be able to give my children most of my time by staying at home, I can't even feed them (you know, the natural way) Sigh, I realize that I might not have been able to anyway, as a lack of breastmilk runs in my family. I guess I should just be thankful that I'm able to take something that I can have kids with (that was not a given even 10 years ago). 

My second dose is tomorrow (yay for only having to stick myself twice a month!), I'm wondering if I can get off of the other medicine all together after that. That is the ultimate goal anyway. 

Oh, I've officially applied for the Humira patient assistance program. I find out by Wednesday whether or not they will accept me. If they do, I get totally free medicine for a year. After that? I have no idea, I'm assuming I'll just have to keep applying for the medicine year after year. I guess that's the price for free medicine, right? I'll take it. I heard I was a shoe in for the program, but we'll see. I'm living off of 2 months of free samples right now. (Thank you Lord for free samples!!!) 

Long story short, I have been feeling much better, within two weeks. Dear trend, please continue. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


So, I had my bridal shower last week. I told them from the get-go that I didn't want to have anything to do with planning it, just tell me when to be there (for convenience sake it was in VA, the wedding is going to be here, though. 

L to R: Matron of Honor, Me, Mom
My hair is still REALLY thick even after getting it thinned out!

First we had a few MadLibs, which were hilarious. Next, PRESENTS!

My friend's daughter knew I needed help opening the presents...
especially  the ones with big, long bows

Here's my Rehearsal bouquet
 Then, we split into teams and we had fancy toilet paper dresses made for us. That was really a highlight of the day. My friend's daughter had to participate. (And yes, I did get rolls of left over tp as a greatly appreciated present!)

Sorry that there's not too much to say about this. It was fun. I was exhausted. I'm getting ready for Mass... the end.

Friday, March 9, 2012

To be normal again...

I really shouldn't complain. I'm able to bend my left arm, I'm able to walk, I'm able to do a lot of things that I couldn't do as of a few years ago.

But I hurt...

What stinks the most is that there has been a never ending trial with my newest new medicine. I have one month's supply in my fridge now, but will it take longer to get approved for it?

My work's insurance will not cover Humira. Humira is the only drug I can take now because it comes with an epi-pen like thing (it's a self injection) so that I don't have to see the needle or make the stabbing motion on my thigh. I used to do it in high school, but after a while I stopped being able to.

Well... my insurance refuses to pay for a dime. They say that there are three other medicines I can take (One of which failed me pretty badly in the past, all three are just needle and syringe), so I have to fail them before they will consider Humira. Well, I'm eligible for a patient assistance program, but they have to go through a host of crap first, and it'll take up to 2 WEEKS to process. Ugh. And then, the assistance program only extends to one year... I'm guessing that it means I'll just have to reapply every year, but that gets kinda old after a while.

I don't know why I complain. The days where I need to use my cane are few and far between. I desperately need to buy a new cane, my dear old Bartholomeu (Ya, I named my cane) is all cracked at the top from numerous droppings. I almost bought a new one but my pride doesn't want me to. I keep reminding myself that it would be good to have a spare one at work, but part of me (being the youngest full time employee) just can't stomach the idea of being the only one with a cane there.

I can't talk to James about this, and that makes me cry. He is great and wonderful if I need him to get something for me. He reminds me to put my medicine in my purse every evening (I take it twice a day). But with anything emotional... he kinda fails... miserably. I start to try and talk about how something makes me feel and he will either unintentionally change the subject, or wait through that awkward silence and say, "Oh... well if there's anything I can do..." No! I want you to comfort me, cry with me, tell me how YOU are hurting to see me hurt! Hold me! Encourage me to be strong and push my way through this! Tell me you don't know when it will get better, but you'll be there for me every step of the way!

He doesn't know how to deal with me like this because he hasn't seen me like this much (okay, he doesn't really know how to deal with emotions ever, but still). Sigh. I had a really bad outbreak of arthritis a couple of years ago, that's when I got my cane. It was one of the most humiliating things I ever did to walking around my college campus with that thing, but I made a game out of it. But then I got on Remicade. Two words: Miracle. Drug. I basically had no symptoms of arthritis for several years with that. In fact, it sent me into a medical remission. I didn't start having symptoms again until I stopped taking it for about 8 months. Why did I stop taking it? Well, I used to be on Mommy's insurance, which made it about a $35 copay per dose (every 2 months). Now I'm on craptastic stuff for the real world. Remicade is about $2500 a vial... I get three vials in one dose. Sigh, I always knew this say would come... oh the joys of turning 26 and getting booted off of mom's insurance!

The hope is that Humira will make me "normal" again. Right now I'm having the pain staved off with Prednizone (horrible drug don't ever take it unless for very short periods of time), Plaquinil (I'm convinced this does nothing), and a heeeeavy NSAID that I had to halve the dosage because it was giving me severe nosebleeds.

The two doses of Humira I have in my fridge are free samples from my doctor. My hope is that it will help me  just like the Remicade. My hope is that I wont struggle to be able to pick up the phone at work on the days I forget to bring my medicine. My hope is that I can go back to taking one pill a day instead of 8... my hope is... to be normal again. There were a few years there, where I could forget I had arthritis from time to time. I'd like that.