A Smurfy Addiction

I’ve always been drawn to anything miniature.  My favorite toys as a child consisted of tiny animals with small accessories.  I even swiped my brothers’ Micro Machine cars that had baby cars tucked inside.  So it comes as no surprise that I completely immersed myself into the Smurf world.  I wanted the Smurfs to exist in the worst way, and would slowly creep up on the mushrooms growing in my backyard hoping to catch a glimpse of them.

When I got an iPhone last year and saw that there was a Smurfs game, I downloaded it immediately.  It’s basically FarmVille with Smurfs.  I played it for months, and even learned how to mess with my phone’s clock settings to cheat and get ahead in the game.  Eventually, I grew bored of the game, and forgot about it.  That is, until a few weeks ago.

My mom discovered she was only using her iPad as an eReader and Pandora streamer, so she decided she might as well get a Kindle Fire and pass the iPad on to someone who might actually use it in its entirety.  That person was me.  While I do use the iPad for a variety of purposes, currently, 90% of its usage is spent on Smurfs.  I’ve been delightfully enjoying the larger images of my little Smurf Village.  That poor, expensive iPad went from a glorified Kindle to a hand-held Smurf game.

At night, I’ll sit for hours cheating my clock settings to collect the Smurfberries that allow me to “buy” the nice things in the game.  I feel so accomplished at the end of it, and that’s horrible!  While I do know this Smurfy addiction of mine needs to be reined in, it’s difficult, because I can’t get over how cute my little Smurfs are, and I just want to keep checking in on them!  I decided to take a few screen shots over the last week so that when I feel like playing, I can instead, flip through my pictures and get the “cute fix” that the playing of Smurfs gives me.  That way, I’ll have my iPad open for better uses.  Like spending hours on Feedly reading all of my favorite blogs.

I mean, look how cute they are riding their pet guinea pig!

I mean, look how cute they are riding their pet guinea pig!

I created my dream Smurf home in all its purple glory.

I created my dream Smurf home in all its purple glory.

 

An open letter to the girl who stood on the toilet of the stall next to me in order to peek over and talk

I was but a mere eight years old.  You couldn’t have been much older.  It was a rare moment in which I needed to use the restroom during the middle of class.  I walked quickly and quietly to the bathrooms by the playground, taking note of the satisfying clomping sounds my saddle shoes were making against the pavement.  My restroom pass was clutched tightly in my hands.  It felt forbidden being out on school grounds when no one else was around.  I entered the empty bathroom; the clinking of my wooden pass being set on the ceramic sink seemed to echo off the walls.  Once in my stall, I lifted the edges of my lightweight, red, cotton dress so that none of the precious material would touch the surface of the toilet as I took care of my business.  That’s when I heard you enter the stall next to me.  Instead of the usual sounds of another girl adjusting her clothes in preparation to sit, I heard the toilet seat moving and groaning under the weight of your feet.  I froze in horror.  “Please.  Please don’t let a girl be looking down on me.” I slowly shifted my eyes up and to the left.  There you were.  Bright white teeth smiling down on me, one arm tucked over the stall barrier to keep you steady.  I quickly unclenched my hands from my dress, pulling the red material into a dome of coverage around my bottom and knees.  You began to make small talk with me, as if having a conversation while looking down on someone peeing was an everyday occurrence.  Being the kind and passive person I was, I answered whatever questions you threw at me, all the while patiently waiting for you to step off your toilet so I could wipe and be far, far away from you.  I don’t remember how long you stood there, but you finally did step down from your toilet.  As you did, I bolted from my stall, deciding to forgo washing my hands, as the sandy textured pink soap would take far too long to rinse off, and I wasn’t willing to have an encounter with you again.  All the way into my high school years, I could not use a public restroom comfortably, and would avoid school restrooms as much as humanely possible.  On the rare occasions I would use a public restroom, I found myself constantly scanning the stall barriers above me while completing my business as quickly as I could.  Fortunately, college dorm living forced me to overcome my fear.  It was replaced with a sense of camaraderie, as I grew to learn that conversations in restrooms were common and acceptable behind the closed doors of stalls.  I sincerely hope that I was your only victim, but if not, I hope the others have found a way to move on.  You never knew how much you scarred me, but I forgive you.

How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore

Yesterday, I shared my lovely experiences of living with a cold sore, and promised to tell you how I beat my latest one.  That’s right, I was able to stop a cold sore from developing any further.  It shrunk its nasty self back into the recesses of my lip to appear another low-immunity-leveled-day. (which will probably be soon ‘cause I have a limited supply of immunes)

I share with you today, Erica’s Cold Sore Battle Method!!!  It worked for me, and hopefully it will work for you, too.  Just follow my three easy steps!

 Erica’s Cold Sore Battle Method

Materials:

Washcloth

Ice

L-Lysine

Abreva

Step 1:

Catch it early!  As soon as you feel the little bugger itching on your lip, or see the bubble beginning to take form, go ahead and pop 2,000 mg of L-Lysine into your mouth (for me, that was 4 pills).  Continue to take these little treasure pills throughout the day (for two days) by taking 500 mg (or more) every hour.  You can take up to 9,000 mg a day safely, though the most I’ve ever taken was 7,000 mg.

This is the brand I bought from Target.

 

Step 2:

Grab a washcloth, fold it in half, wrap an ice cube in it, but leave a bit of the ice peeking out. (don’t be lazy and use an easy-to-reach papertowel, ‘cause the ice will quickly melt right through and drip all over you)  Apply this ice to the cold sore site until the entire ice cube has melted away.  This will usually take 20-30 minutes.  If you’re pressed for time, do it for at least 10 minutes as many times as you can throughout the day.  I applied a full ice cube every hour for the next two days.  (In all honesty, I would miss a few hours here and there, so on average, I used 4 or 5 ice cubes a day, but if you can remember to do it every hour, do it.)

Step 3:

As soon as your lip has been iced, liberally apply Abreva to the site.  If you’re not going out in public, shamelessly whiten that area up and let the medicine do its trick.  If you have to interact with people, it’s cool to just put on a thin layer that will blend in to your lip.  I not only applied Abreva after every icing, but also anytime I started feeling my lip itch, or anytime I “remembered” I had a cold sore.  I don’t think there is such a thing as too much Abreva.

Thank you abreva.com for this picture. I used up all mine and threw out the bottle a few days ago and haven’t restocked (which I usually do as soon as possible because cold sores are sneaky and I want to be prepared) Also, I used this pump style bottle because at the time of purchase, it was all that was available. However, they also sell it in a small tube (like, smaller than your pinky finger, small). I recommend that one. The pump ends up squirting WAY too much lotion out, that you end up wiping off your finger and throwing away. This stuff is too expensive to be throwing away like that. But trust me, the $13 you spend on that miniscule tube of glory is worth every cent!

 

So that’s how I did it!  I understand that certain jobs disallow the opportunity to follow this completely throughout the day (I was a teacher, so trust me, I know).  However, even doing as much of it as you can, really does minimize the symptoms.  Currently being unemployed and confined to my couch all day to heal my ankle, I was able to give my system a full-fledged chance, and it worked like a charm!  Good luck, and feel free to share your own cold sore busting tips in the comments!

Cold Sores 101

I kicked my latest cold sore’s ass, and I couldn’t be more proud!  I don’t think I’ve ever won that battle before!  I’ve learned how to maintain and minimize my cold sores, but never, ever, have I completely obliterated it before it could destroy my mouth!

My very first cold sore aptly appeared when I was a freshman in high school.  I guess my body wanted to make sure I maintained my uncool status, ‘cause I can think of nothing more embarrassing in high school than mouth herpes.  There was no hiding that sucker either!  Overnight, I developed a huge sore that took up the entire left side of my bottom lip.  Being a Plain Jane, it wasn’t like I could hide it behind some dark lipstick either.  I just had to grin and bear it.  Well, more like just bear it.  If I so much as cracked the tiniest smile, I risked blood or pus pouring down my chin.  Sorry, you can go vomit now; I’ll wait.

Anyway, back then, all I could do was put globs of Campho-Phenique on it, and cross my fingers that it’d be gone in the morning.  Of course, cold sores take their sweet ass time to clear, so I would usually have to deal with its ever-changing stages for at least two weeks.  For those of you who’ve never had a cold sore, it usually starts with an itch or burning sensation on your lip, which then transforms into a bubble of liquid.  You could let that bubble pop on its own over time, but no one ever does that.  It’s gonna pop the second your sandwich bread rubs its sandpapery surface across it, so might as well avoid that disgusting mess and take care of it yourself at home.  At this stage, it’s really not too bad.  I mean, you might have this nasty loose piece of skin resting on your lip, but if you apply chapstick regularly, it’s hardly noticeable.  That is, until the next morning.  By then, blood has come to the surface and a beautiful, purplish black scab has manifested itself on your lip.  For me, the scabbing was the worst!

As soon as I started talking, I could feel the scab ripping and tearing, and with a quick lick of my tongue, I would verify that blood was oozing out of it.  It’s not like I could wear a bandaid on my lip, so as soon as it bled, I’d pop my lip in my mouth and keep sucking on it until the bleeding stopped.  Many times, this resulted in the scab being sucked off and digested.

Anyway, once you let the scab heal and fall off on its own, it’s over.  Unfortunately for me, since I kept eating my scabs, a big, circular, cratered, scar appeared on my bottom lip.  (That scar is the reason why, to this day, I still gnaw on my bottom lip. Oh! And I gnawed on it so much in high school that I can’t even get cold sores on that spot anymore, so I consider it a win.)

I still get cold sores every now and again (nowadays on the left side of my upper lip).  As I mentioned, I’m usually pretty good at keeping them small and somewhat unnoticeable, but this time, I beat my cold sore, and I wanted to share how I did it in case any of you suffer from this.  However, this post is reaching my blog entry length limit, so I’ll have to share my cold sore busting secrets with you tomorrow!  Bwahahaha!  Stay tuned!

**UPDATED**  To read on how I beat my cold sore, click on the following link: How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore

My immunes! (A story of yellow toenails)

I was told that while the stitches in my ankle’s tendon are holding, my tears have likely not healed.  I did not find this surprising, as my body has competed against my desire to be healthy and normal my entire life.  Next week, I will be undergoing a natural healing process where my blood’s platelet rich plasma will be separated and injected into my tendon in the hopes that those beneficial growth factors will speed up the healing process.  In the meantime, it’s two more months of complete inactivity (besides regular walking, and thankfully, no wearing of the boot).

While grateful for an answer, this means that I will have to forgo the marathon I had planned to race in this coming Sunday.  Being that I wasn’t able to train properly anyway, it’s probably more of a blessing.  Also, surprise, surprise, I managed to gain not one, but two ingrown toenails over the last week and a half that has disallowed me from wearing any shoes.  (I wore a pair for three hours last week, and I paid for it horribly that night.)  My toes would not have held up for 26.2 miles anyway!

I used to get ingrown toenails frequently growing up, but never as throbbing or painful as the ones I have now.  I believe this has to do with the fact that, up until a year and a half ago, my toenails were thick and yellow.  (My guess: the thicker the shard of nail to dig out, the easier it is to remove.) When I was young, doctors said that nothing could be done about my nails because it was genetic, and so I endured years of embarrassing yellow toenails.

As a child, it was hard enough fitting in while being painfully shy, abnormally tiny, and possessing a nose that was far too big for my face.  Unfairly, but fittingly, I was given disgusting, embarrassing, crumbly, yellow toenails to mix into my cocktail of ailments.  I couldn’t do anything to hide my large, dysfunctional sniffer, and I took the teases in stride.  But my toes; those I could control…or so I thought.

Besides going to the pool and curling my toes inward on my quick paced walk to the water, I was able to cover my unsightly feet with socks and shoes all day long!  That is, unless you go to Sports Camp for the summer, and the gymnastics leaders force you to take off your socks even though you beg them not to, and plead with them to get your dad (the one running the gym at the camp) to vouch for you.  Adults don’t always listen to kids, and those adults had the final say, so I slowly and reluctantly peeled my socks off my feet.  I did my usual toe curl that I used effectively at the pool, but when it came time for tumbling, I just couldn’t perform the proper technique without uncurling my toes.  This meant, as I came out of my roll and stood, feet together, hands held high for my “stick,” a mean, pretty girl was able to grab my ankle, hold it with a tight, zombie grip, and announce to the gym, “Oh my god!  Look at her toes!  Her toenails are yellow!  Hurry, come look!”  As you can imagine, tears of embarrassment sprang forth, and I wished that the blue felt of the mat covers would open up and smother me away from the gawking girls gathered around my feet.  Of course, after the gym leaders were able to pry those girl’s fingers from off my ankle, they allowed me to wear my socks, but the damage was done.  My dignity was lost, and I dreaded going to Sports Camp.

However, as most kids do, I grew to accept myself.  I even learned how to manage my toenails with a 7-speed electric sander battery operated toenail file and some nail polish.  A few years ago, I discovered that modern medicine had advanced, so I made an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor who prescribed me Lamisil tablets.  Those pills worked wonders, and currently, most of my toes are cured.  However, I believe that as my toenails were growing into their thin, clear, beautiful selves, that they followed the thick, curled path of the old nails, and viciously cut their way into my nail bed like the knife of a surgeon.  I’ve since dug them out (with twice the effort and pain as before) and have accepted that I will most likely always have ingrown toenails.

Anyway, that entire story is to say that I’m unusually optimistic about my upcoming natural healing process next week.  (I love long tangents, don’t you?) Yellow toenails might not sound like much, but trust me when I say that my body conspires against me, and if not for modern medicine, I’d probably be dead, or abandoned to some colony of misfits.  My little platoon of “immunes,” as I like to call them, obviously couldn’t heal the tears in my tendon (even with the aid of stitches–poor little troopers), so I’m eager to witness all of my strongest immunes being clustered together into a battalion of health.  Here’s hoping for the comeback of a lifetime!

Forever 21

When people I’m meeting for the first time learn that I am 31, they are usually shocked or comment on how young I look.  Mostly, they assume that I’m in my mid to late 20’s, which is quite flattering.  However, I was recently at my younger cousin’s bachelorette party, surrounded by girls in their early 20’s, and one of them thought I was nineteen.  My old ass was mistaken for a teenager!  I could have taken that as an awesome compliment to my apparent slow aging, but instead, it made me entirely self-conscious.  Why would a 24-year-old believe me to be five years younger than her?  Were my jean shorts and tank top too skanky for my age?  Does my quiet, reserved personality reflect that of a child?  I have not been able to stop thinking about this, and since then, if anyone comments on how young I look, I immediately become embarrassed.

My friend, Kate, had a similar experience recently.  While working in her daughter’s kindergarten classroom, a student told her that she looked more like a sister than a mom.  She jokingly pondered whether or not she should update her “mom” wardrobe.  This sparked a conversation between us, where she enlightened me to the fact that some women cut their hair short for the sole purpose of becoming a mom.  That just boggles my mind!  The “mom haircut” is no secret, but I had always assumed it was a style that trended amongst the women of our parents’ generation as they aged.  I never thought of it as a purposeful style trend today.  Sometimes I like my naturally wavy hair long and flowing, and sometimes I like it in an above-the-shoulder bob that I blow dry straight, but I’ve never decided my hair’s length or style due to any outside factors.  I’ve always gone with what makes me feel cute and confident at the time.

Ever since I was told that I looked nineteen, I have begun to evaluate my attire.  As I’ve mentioned, I like my clothes to be comfortable and sensible.  This means that my go-to outfit is jean shorts and a cotton tank top during the summer and jeans with a sweater/long sleeved cotton shirt during the winter.  While I admit, my shorts’ hemlines are pretty high and close to the crotch area, I can assure you that my butt is entirely covered, and I don’t believe anyone is thinking that they are inappropriately short.  (or maybe they are, and I’m kidding myself like those 40-year-old “Forever 21’s” you see at the bar)  The length and tight fit of my shorts does give me reason to pause sometimes.  I am 31 years old, you know.  Is it time to transition to shorts that run halfway down my thigh and hang loosely off my hips?

Basically, here’s what I really want to know: Is there an age appropriate look I should be going for, and if so, when is it time to update my clothing?  Or is there really a time that one has to change their look?  I don’t want to be one of those older women dressing like they’re 19, but I also don’t want to lose the sense of being me.  It’s probably not necessary to start integrating blazers into my attire just yet, but all those, “You look so young!” comments are really getting to me.  If you have any thoughts or feelings regarding this topic, please feel free to share them!

 

Shedding Pounds Like a "Woman"

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with a torn ankle tendon since last October.  So for almost an entire year, I’ve been unable to run at the intensity I want to, even going months in a row without running at all.  My ankle is still in pain, and since I had to pay out of pocket for the doctor visits, MRI, and surgery, I don’t want to run through the discomfort in fear that I might do irreparable damage.

In any case, this year of inactivity has caused me to gain an unwanted 12 pounds.  Suffice it to say, I’ve been feeling like a fatty, and would tremendously like to drop that unwanted weight.  For the past two weeks, I’ve been eating healthy, and been losing weight slowly, but being an athlete, I know that working out is what will really help me drop the weight and keep it off.  Since any impact with my foot is out of the question, I’ve had to ride my unhappy ass on the stationary bike I have at home.  (The only plus to that being that I get to watch an entire episode of Dr. Who while I’m doing it.)  However, being a runner who’s accustomed to enjoying the great outdoors, and being currently unemployed and stuck inside all day, the stationary bike is horrendously boring to me.  I needed something to spice up my workouts, and despite my mild efforts, Pilates on YouTube wasn’t cutting it.

Enter Jess: my running buddy’s daughter who just returned home after finishing grad school.  She’d heard of my ankle problems and that I needed some motivation to work out, so she invited me to go with her to check out the FitClub class on the sands of Redondo Beach.  The free class basically entails 30 minutes of yoga-like stretching (or dodgeball for the non-gimps) and 30 minutes of rotating stations for strength, cardio, and agility.

On the morning of the first class, I rolled out of bed around 6:45, wiped the sleep out of my eyes, got dressed, and threw my hair up in a messy ponytail.  I knew I looked like shit, but I was about to get sandy and sweaty at the beach, and figured everyone else would look as mangled as I did.  Nope.  Many of the girls present had, at minimum, their eye make-up on.  One girl straight up had her thick cat-eye eyeliner going on with some pink lipstick to finish her look.  Basically, I felt like an ogre compared to everyone else there.

THEN, as we were gathering and more and more people arrived, I realized that every single person around me was incredibly fit already.  I was literally the fattest person there, and even though it wouldn’t hurt for me to shed 15 pounds, I am in no way overweight! (Well, my fat percentage could be lower, but it’s still in the “average” range!)  I started to panic a little, thinking that I was about to make a major fool of myself, but then at the last minute, 20 more people arrived, and among them were a couple regular looking peeps like myself.  I was instantly relieved.

The circuits were actually really fun, and I was a bit bummed that my ankle prevented me from participating in the cardio or agility stations (believe you, me: I tried…the Mexican/German mutt that I am is chock full of stubborn!)  I was also happy to see others sitting out at times or taking breaks at their stations; even some of the really fit ones!  It made me feel better about not being able to do a single crab walk step at my very last station.  The workout ended with a protein shake party at their nearby gym.  Okay, so it wasn’t so much a party as it was a bunch of fit people with dried sweat enjoying some recovery shakes to some music bumping out of big speakers, but it was still cool.

They offer these free classes every Thursday and Sunday morning, and I’m definitely looking forward to going again!

But next time, I’ll put on some make-up.

Or in my case: "Don't Be a Manly Girl."