Visit to Ellis Island

This week, I got to take a trip to Ellis Island for work and we were given a bit of a “behind the scenes” tour.  We got to walk through the buildings that are still in ruins, the ones not part of the normal tour.  It was absolutely fascinating, not only the things that happened in those buildings a hundred years ago, but how the buildings have weathered since then.

For those of you unfamiliar with American History, Ellis Island is a small island off the coast of New Jersey and New York where immigrants to the United States first landed.  It opened in the 1890’s and closed in 1954.  Twelve million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was essentially abandoned in the 1950’s, and then in the 1980’s, restoration began.  But that means that the buildings were virtually untouched for all those years.  An abandoned building anywhere else would have become damaged by the human element, but these were damaged only by nature.  It’s amazing how much still remains.  I was amazed to see so many intact lightbulbs, for example.  Of course, there isn’t power to the buildings, so who knows if those bulbs still work, but anywhere else, they would have been shattered long ago.

An artist came in and placed photos from Ellis Island throughout the buildings.  It created a fascinating mix of the old and the new, and I will be hunting down his book to see more.

An artist came in and placed photos from Ellis Island throughout the buildings. It created a fascinating mix of the old and the new, and I will be hunting down his book to see more.

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The gloomy, rainy day really set the mood for our trip.

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Konmari and Decluttering

My house is a mess.

Well, I take that back.  My house is cluttered.  I have too much stuff.  Part of the problem is living in a (not excessively large) three bedroom house by myself.   That makes for a lot of storage space.  And yet… things aren’t put away properly.

I love reading organizing blogs, but let’s be honest.  I’m not going to create a huge system of organizing with cute little baskets and a special place for everything.  It’s not how I work.  But if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I just started the Konmari method of organizing.  And man, have I gotten rid of a lot of junk.

Konmari is a method of organizing based on a book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Amazon Affiliate link).  Basically, the theory is that if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.  And she has a whole system of how you should go about this.  She starts with clothes.  Take all of your clothes out and pile them up.  Go through the items one at a time.  Do you love it?  (Or do you have to wear it because it’s a uniform, etc?)  Then keep it.  If you don’t, dump it.  I like this theory because it’s not “Have you worn this in the past 6 months,” but “Does this bring you joy?”

I didn’t quite follow the rules – I did my clothes in categories.  It was easier.  T-shirts, work clothes, dress clothes, etc.  And I got rid of a LOT of stuff.

These were the bags of clothes and accessories that I took to Goodwill.

These were the bags of clothes and accessories that I took to Goodwill.

It was really refreshing to clean everything out.   Then she has a method of folding your clothes so you can see everything in drawers, but this was something I already did, so it wasn’t new and fun.

Next up on her list is books, which is intimidating.  I own a lot of books.  But if I’m honest, there are a lot of books I’m hanging on to for no reason.  I have no intention of reading them again, and if that suddenly changes, there is this amazing thing called a Library.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was a literature major.  I’m not going to be getting rid of every book in the house.  But the paperbacks that I’ve hung on to and the ones that were passed to me that I’ve never bothered to read… those can get donated.

In order to clear some space, I’m doing things a bit out of order and so I tackled papers next.  My “office” is mostly just a space to pile junk, and I’d like it to be more useful, so I’m slowly going through the items in there.  I have a ridiculous amount of paperwork.  Do I need bank statements from 2000?  No.  So let the shredding commence.

So much shredding.

So much shredding.

If you are doing the Konmari method, there are some great checklists you can follow.  I admit, I’m not sure how far I’m going to get on this list.  Clothes and books and paperwork would be great categories to get through though.  And perhaps craft supplies.

The book was originally written in Japanese, so you have to remember that there are some cultural differences.  For example, Kondo recommends you thank your items for their service before getting rid of them.  I don’t feel this need.  I’ve seen a lot of comments about how wacky that is, but I think it’s just a difference in cultural beliefs.

Also, the whole “brings you joy” has to be expanded to “is useful.” Do my cooking pots bring me joy?  I mean, they’re nice, but I can’t say I love them any more than any other kitchen item.  However, they are useful. So they will stay.

It’s been an interesting task for sure, and if I get no further, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.  But I think there are a few more bags and boxes of things that can leave my house.

Doctor Visit Recap

DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay

A few weeks back, I got a letter from my old GP’s office saying that my doctor was leaving the practice and the practice itself was going to a concierge plan.  Considering I wasn’t a huge fan of the practice (I liked my doctor well enough, but the place wasn’t anything special), I wasn’t about to pay a chunk of money to stay there.

I asked around online and in person and a number of people recommended a different concierge medicine practice just a few blocks from my office.  So I thought I would check it out.

From what I can tell, the difference with a concierge medicine practice is that you pay a fee (be it monthly or annually), which allows the doctor to see less patients and so you get better service.  The doctors are more accessible, frequently by phone or email, and no more “Oh, you might have an ear infection?  We can see you in three days.”  Nope, you get an appointment that day, maybe not with your doctor, but someone will see you.  Sounds like a good thing, but it also feels a bit elitist.

However, since the practice waives the fee for people with my insurance plan, it didn’t hurt to try it out.

I scheduled a new patient physical and printed out my InsideTracker blood test results.  I wanted to talk to the doctor about the cholesterol numbers specifically, plus I needed my generic Effexor XR refilled.  I had requested that my old doctor send over my medical records, but of course, they didn’t.  So I sort of had to explain my medical history to the new doctor and hope she would be willing to refill my anti-anxiety meds.

(Quick catchup for those not in the know – I’ve been on an anti-anxiety medication since 2010 when I had uncontrolled panic attacks.  I’ve made some major changes in my life since and probably wouldn’t have the same issue, but I discovered something else once I started taking the meds.  For most of my life, I had stomach problems.  I saw a gastroenterologist, took a daily medication for my stomach, and mostly just dealt with the fact that I would get random stomach pain and nausea.  Turns out?  It was all anxiety related and the anti-anxiety medication fixed the problem.  Winning!)

I gave the doctor a brief medical history, detailing out the panic issues and the heart issues (which are not issues), and she was totally chill about it.  Without me asking, she asked if I needed a refill for the Effexor XR, and commented that it was a super low dose, which is somehow reassuring for reasons I cannot explain.  So one thing checked off my list.

I showed her the Inside Tracker numbers and she was really intrigued by what they were testing.  I think she was a bit worried about what their recommendations might be until I said that they recommended dietary changes and didn’t push pills or medications or try to sell anything.  And really, no one ever died from eating more kale.  (Well, maybe if you’re deathly allergic to kale it might be a bad plan.)

I asked her about my cholesterol numbers and she agreed, it’s probably hereditary.  But she also said it’s not something I need to worry about.  My ratio is good, and I have none of the risk factors (female over 50, diabetes, heart disease, family history of young heart attacks) that would normally make high cholesterol worry them.  So it’s nice to know I don’t have to be too concerned.  Doesn’t mean I’m not going to be following the Inside Tracker dietary recommendations to try to improve those numbers, but it’s good that it’s not necessarily a “bad” thing.

All in all, I’m really happy with this new practice.  They seem to be really responsive, and I was in and out of there in under 30 minutes, which is amazing.  Now hopefully I don’t need to see her until my next annual physical!

Whirlwind Weekend

This weekend, I did not accomplish the majority of the things I wanted to accomplish.  But I sure did a lot of things.

Friday night, I had choir rehearsal til a bit after 10pm, which kind of destroys the evening.  After a full day of work and many hours of singing, all I have the energy to do is go home and crash.

Saturday morning, I got up and headed to the car dealership.  My poor old Nissan Altima had served me well for 11 years, but it was getting close to time for some major maintenance and since I wasn’t sure how long I was going to keep the car, I had started researching new vehicles and had set my sights on the VW Golf.  By the time I arrived at the dealership, I knew that if I liked the way the car handled and if I could get the price I wanted (thank you internet for making it so easy to research), I was driving out of there in a new car.

And after a few hours, that’s exactly what I did.  Car buying is exhausting though!

Went home, did some stuff around the house, got in a bike ride and collapsed.

Sunday, I volunteered at the Columbia Tri.  Always fun to watch triathletes nervously awaiting their start and then rocking their race.  And I was incredibly impressed by the Athletes Serving Athletes team.  What a cool group of people.

Raced home, showered, shoved some food in my face hole and headed off to sing my final concert of the season with the Cathedral Choral Society at the National Cathedral.  It was opera, which I wasn’t sure would be well received, but we had an amazing audience.  So much fun.  And such incredible soloists.

After that, I was supposed to go home and run a 10k.   I instead went home and collapsed.  Sorry, Coach.  My body just wasn’t in it.

Sadly, that was the end of my recovery week, so this week, I need to hit the training hard.  So far, I’m 0 for 1 on workouts.  Good job, self.

Still recovering. Yes, still.

ariesa66 / Pixabay

This is the cold that will not quit.  I no longer feel like death warmed over, but I’m definitely feeling like a slug.  Not moving very much and leaving a slimy trail behind me.  Well, a trail of used tissues anyway.

Too graphic for you?  Whatever, it’s my blog.

I’m slowly recovering though.  Over the weekend, I put in a bit of time on my bike trainer, just to get in some motion, and I ran a little under five miles.  Didn’t want to push too hard since I have a business trip this week that is guaranteed to get me run down.  (I just had to estimate my hours for my timecard and on Wed-Fri, I’m putting in 38.5 hours.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  And yet, I’ve packed my running shoes.  You know, just in case.)

So for now, I’m just existing.  Probably going to bike a bit more tonight just to make sure my body doesn’t forget what exercise is and hope that I can be healthy by the weekend.