Cătălina Stan

Jan 232015
 

Dear Readers,

I’ve often talked about people, since a lot of people have had a great impact over my life. But, to be honest, I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with them since the beginning of my times. The numerous times I wanted to be in the middle of them, enjoying their company… But there were even more times when I wanted to run away from them, as far as possible, preferably in the middle of nowhere.

We like to talk about people a lot. We like to put them in categories. We like to catalog them. We like to compare them. We like to do all sorts of things to them. Every new person that we meet is checked inside and out until there is no mystery left of them. And we will meet hundreds of people in our lifetime. If we are lucky or unlucky,( if you prefer), we will meet thousands of them… Thousands of people that we will catalog, we will edit them and save them in our memories.

If you are at the beginning of your journey, then you have just started to meet these people. And here is a short history of people that you might meet. My people are inspired from John Lennon’s song, but are less political. Sometimes I will refer to these people as “they”, “them”, “theirs”. “ I”, “you”, “he/she”, “we” and “you” will also be included. In extremely rare cases, you will face more than half of these people in one person.

There will be beautiful people, ugly people, fat, slim or athletic people, funny, boring, smart and stupid people, people who, no matter what you do to impress them, won’t take you seriously.

There will be people who will dismantle you with simple words, just because they can.

People who will walk right through you on the street, as if you were invisible.

There will be people who will steal from you, call you names, talk behind your back and spread rumors about you.

There will be people you will call best friend, who will move on with their lives while living you behind. People who will promise to stick by your side forever and on first occasion, they will turn their back on you.

There will be people who will promise to love you until the end of times, people who tell you they love you everyday, while leaving bruises on your body, mind and soul.

There will be people who will forget that you ever existed. They will forget your name and erase the memory of you from their very existence.

There will be people who will tell you everyday that they don’t care… about you or anything else in the world for that matter.

There will be people you will contradict with, no matter the topic of conversation you are having. There will be people who will try to change your opinion and mind about everything all the time. There will be people who will keep telling you that you are wrong.

There will be people who will disappoint you, ignore you and dishonor you. People who will do an injustice to you.

There will be people you will hate and they will hate you back.

There will be people who will call you theirs. And just like with any other toy they fight to own, they will put you on display for a while, until they will get bored with you, put you aside and start looking for the next best thing they will like to poses. There will be people who will look at you and treat you as an object.

People who will lie to you on a daily basis.

There will be people who will cheat on you. People you think you know everything about, but you actually have no idea who they are.

There will be people who will look at your whole nakedness as if it was a gift to them. They will be inside of you. Or you inside of them. And the next day, they will pass by you and pretend they’ve never seen you before.

There will be people who will make you lose your mind and become out of control.

There will be people who will make decisions for you and impose a way of life for you. There will be people who won’t give any options.

There will be people who will make you clash, crash and fall.

People who will make you cry.

People who will make you stop believing in yourself.

There will be people who will demand the impossible from you.

People who will twist every word you say and turn them against you.

There will be people who will haunt your dreams since the very first moment you meet them and continue to do so years after.

There will be people you will turn into obsessions and vice versa.

Humanity is not dead

Humanity is not dead

People who will call you family and actually mean it, even though you are not related.

There will be people you won’t see for years, who will call you t 12.01 am on your birthday to make sure that they are the first ones to tell you “Happy birthday!”

There will be people who will lend you a hand and help you cross the street, even when you don’t want it or need it.

There will be people who will talk about you to their friends and they will all pray for you, even if they don’t know you personally.

There will be people who will make you laugh, who will ask for very little to nothing in return.

There will be people you will look at for only 15 minutes and will inspire your life forever.

There will be people you will call in the middle of the night and will come right away to give you comfort, without frowning upon the fact that you just woke them up.

There will be people who will rarely tell you they love you and will stay by your side forever.

There will be people who will listen to you. They will believe in you. And support your ideas.

There will be people you will confess your deepest thoughts to, people who will take your secrets to the grave.

There will be people who will gather to help you and support you when your down.

There will be people who will read half of your soul just by looking at you once.

There will be people who will smile at you on the subway, the most beautiful and sincere smile in your life.

There will be people who will take you by surprise everyday.

People who will bring coolness to a whole new level.

There will be people who will stop and ask you: “Hey, miss/mister, are you ok?” when they see you crying on the streets.

There will be people who will check on you to make sure you are not dead, when you’re sleeping on a bench in a park.

There will be people who will take a stand when others do you harm.

There will be people who will accept you as you are.

There will be people who will have absolutely no shame and will give you the warmest hug and the softest kiss on the forehead right when you cross the street or walk down the stairs at the mall.

There will be people you will run 2 km with just to get to a cake shop in time before closing to eat a piece of cake.

There will be people who will help you carry your shopping bags or even a bucket of water every day or every time they are around.

There will be people you will take a small elevator with once and will give you the nicest feel of closeness.

People who will give you their scarf or jacket when they see you shivering on the street.

People who will stop you so you can take a photo of them when they see your camera hanging around your neck.

There will be people who will open your eyes so you can take a better look at things. Moreover so, since your eyes have been shut for years.

There will be people who will help you listen closer, so close that you can hear the sky breathing.

There will be people who will give you three extra spicy hot wings and wink at you when they do so.

People who will bring you coffee every morning.

People who will smash a plate besides the one you have smashed just so you won’t feel guilty.

There will be people who will help you find your way.

There will be people who will cross an ocean to meet you once.

There will be people who will sit next to you or save you a sit next to them during every class for years.

There will be people who will give you and 20 other girls flowers on Women’s Day.

There will be people who will choose the worst words to describe you when, in fact, they want to show respect.

There will be people who will rise against you, to steal your leadership but what they do is save you from a burden that you never wanted in the first place.

There will be people who will give you a pair of ear rings on your 18th birthday and say that it was from the whole class.

There will be people who will immediately shut the door behind them or instantly close their eyes when they walk in on you right when you are changing your clothes.

There will be people you will want to see every day just to hear their voices or listen to their accents.

There will be people who will share their lunch with you.

There will be people who will see the beauty of you dancing in the rain and will take a snapshot of you and will spread it around just to make sure that the rest of the world sees it too.

There will be people who will invite you to dance even if you are hiding in the darkest corner of the ballroom.

People who will bend rules for you when you don’t have the means to meet them.

There will be people who will look straight into your eyes for an hour or two not to make you feel insecure but to make you find the guts to lift your eyes from the ground and look right back into theirs.

They will be your family, your friends, your best friends, your best friends forever or merely acquaintances.

They will be your enemies or life nemesis.

They will be your teachers and mentors.

They will be nothing or everything to you.

We are the people who rule the world.

Choose your side wisely, kids!

Cătălina.

P.S.: I am aware that I didn’t even cover 1% of “us”.

Jan 012015
 

Dear Readers,

Today I am going to tell you a story. It is inspired from a song by Jen Titus that a I heard a long time ago in the TV show “Supernatural”. A few lyrics from this song are borrowed. Also, the inspiration comes from the hundreds of minutes of surreal dreams that I’ve been having ever since I’ve lost my sight. Sometimes, I believe that my brain is mismatching reality with an imaginary world with fabulous castles, kings and queens, wars, heroes and adventures. I should add that I remembered about an old photo album posted on Facebook, with photos of a medieval-like complete set of chess pieces. These photos, which I can perfectly visualize, are a source of inspiration as well. These photos will be added in future parts as time and imagination will allow us to. Sis is the one helping me put these ideas into proper English.

***

The two sons were standing by their father’s bed, both upset and in disagreement. The King already said that his decision was final and since he did not want to prolong his suffering by arguing and negotiating needlessly over political affairs with the two, he pointed his right arm at the door and asked them to leave. Continuing fighting would not be rational and their father needed rest. For two people who were striving to be as different as possible from each other, the twins thought very much alike. As such, they headed towards the door, but heard a voice behind saying:

“Girl, you stay”, said the King to the girl standing by the entrance.

“Why would he want her to stay?”, thought the two sons looking at each other. They didn’t want to take the risk of leaving a simple maid alone with the King.

The King hurled his left arm onto the bed and repeated to the twins , in a thundering voice: “Leave!”. So they did, closing the door behind them.

The girl didn’t approach the King’s bed immediately, she didn’t even dare to lift her head and look at him.

“Come here, girl”, said the King toning down the harshness in his voice.

“Are you alright, My King?”she exclaimed while getting closer to the bed.

Her words stung deep inside his heart, putting a frown upon his old face. She was just about to kneel before him, but the King stopped her.

“That’s not a place for you to sit, Girl! Sit here instead”, showing her the edge of the bed, all the while not loosing sight of her. As unusual as the circumstances were, being left alone in the room with His Highness, while everyone else with high status was waiting outside, his warm voice calmed her down and lured her in, as such, she sat next to him.

“You carry my name, Alezandra. I fought hard with the wolves around for this name to be given to you”.

“Yes, I know, Father.”

He took great pride in hearing her calling him “father”.

“You are the youngest of my five living children and, yet, the only one of them who dared to take the sword and the arch from my hands and asked me to teach them.” He noticed her blushing and continued: “Do not feel embarrassed, Alezandra, don’t believe for a second that you are lesser than any of my other children. My affection for you is as such that even the late Queen had to accept you at the Court.”

It was Alezandra’s turn to frown now, as much as she tried to hide it. Her father noticed the change on her face again: “Would you have rather lived freely in the wilderness, with your mother’s people?”

“It is inappropriate to talk of such things, Father”, she said while looking down again, but added: “I’ve been living freely as much as possible here as well, Father.”

The King turned his gaze away from her for a second to make her feel more at ease and gave a warm smile as he recalled her small figure. She couldn’t have been more than 13 of age. At a glance, she gave the impression of a simple, well-behaved, shy little girl. But, if you looked closer, you would see red curls roaming wildly out of her cap, and traces of mud on her long, blue navy dress, things which were inappropriate for a maid attending to the King. She was indeed her mother’s child, a free spirit bound to nothing and no one.

“You can speak your heart out when you are with me, Alezandra.” But he knew very well what troubles and thoughts lay deep inside her heart. He rolled his eyes across the room and paused his gaze towards the closet in front of the bed. The King would have wanted to get up himself, but his body was weak from old age and many scars of wars.
So, he said:

“Open the lower drawer. There is a box inside of it. Bring it to me, Alezandra.”

She stood up, walked towards the closet, rather relieved because it was the only time her father couldn’t see her face, so she allowed a few tears to wash her plump cheeks. The sight of her father aging so incredibly fast over the last weeks pained her. But the chance of having a talk with him brought so much joy that she chased away any uneasiness she might have felt and opened the drawer. She searched for the item among some old books and different objects that lay scattered in the drawer, when she finally caught a glimpse of something that had the shape of a box, but was wrapped inside a piece of leather cloth, at the back. She grabbed the box and brought it to the King, taking a seat by his side again. He ran his fingers across the leather’s stitches, brought the box closer to his heart, his eyes becoming watery. Never in his life did the King show any such signs of weakness. But it was then and only then he felt he was allowed to. After a short moment, while they both sat in silence, the King handed the box to his daughter saying:

“You are to open this box only when you are absolutely sure that you are completely alone. Find an appropriate time and place to do it… The rooms in this palace are not safe, so try somewhere outside the Court, but make sure that nobody sees you or follows you.”

She got up again and partially lifted her dress to hide the box inside her boots. After making sure that the gift from her father was safe, Alezandra turned her eyes towards him and wanted to say something but stopped. Young as she may be, she too was a skillful observer, a trait she inherited from her father, and she noticed the drained, almost lifeless look showing on his face… That day’s events took a great toll on him…

“Should I let you rest, Father?”

“Only for a few hours”, answered the King while closing his eyes for a moment.

She, then, kissed her father’s forehead and whispered softly in his ear: “I love you.” The words echoed so sweetly and comforting inside of him, that he knew those were the words of a daughter who cared deeply about her father.

“You are the King’s daughter, Alezandra!”

The King saw Alezandra to the door with his gaze until she closed it. He started looking through the room as a test to see whether his memory of the place was still real, and not a fabrication of a deteriorated mind. He remembered that the room lay at the top in the King’s Tower, and the windows faced both the east and the west. The windows towards the east were wide open, but the windows towards the west would sometimes get stuck and Alezandra, who was the one who often managed this job, couldn’t fully open them. The bed lay in the middle of the room on the north side and had a perfect view of both windows. The King chose this room with this specific layout because, when the windows on both sides were opened, he felt overjoyed by the cool draft filling up the room in the mornings and afternoons, especially when he wasn’t able to take his beloved walks in the garden anymore. That afternoon’s breeze gently caressed his face and averted his attention from the deep wrinkles engraved onto his face, something which he didn’t want to see in the mirror standing above the closet in front of the bed.

He also remembered that the King’s clothes, crown and scepter, his sword and armor were somewhere in the room, but he couldn’t grasp them within his sight. He didn’t seem to be particularly interested or attached to anything in the room, his mind just wandering on the lane of memories. Then he turned his head towards the south as he lay down on the bed.

“It’s been a long time”, he addressed the other person in the room.

“You have hidden yourself very well over the last 25 years”, the King heard.

“I was only 10 when I saw you for the first time. You looked no different than I did. And it felt like you were pulling me out of the water as if to save me. I’ve lasted at your side many more times after that.” The King opened the buttons to his shirt and touched an old scar along his left ribs. “This is when I lifted my arm and nearly touched your skin. You were standing by my side, although a bit closer than you are now.” He then followed the trail of another scar onto his chest… a long, deep scar…”You tricked me when I got this one. You were laying on the grass in the clearing, barely covered in clothes, bare feet, your hair so dark, your skin so white, your curves so perfect, red flowers growing out of your curls. I came very close to follow you that time. So close that I didn’t see the seven men surrounding me and plunging their swords into my flesh. I felt like I was loosing my mind at the sight of you, my heart aching to feel the softness of your lips, to follow the line of your neck, the swell of your breasts and leave a trail of kisses around your belly button. I would have slid inside of you, if my warriors didn’t pull me away from your sweet embrace.”

“Am I not as beautiful for you now as I was then?” she said.

The King sighed deeply, still throbbing with desire to have the woman who has been haunting his dreams for nearly a century.

“I find you more beautiful than ever, now.”

She looked nothing less than a woman he would have wanted to share his life with. She was white from head to toe. Her hair was white folded in a long, thick braid. A white dress and a white cloak hid her aged body from him.

“You have changed a lot over the years, but your eyes remain the same. I was always able to see my reflection in your glass-like eyes. No secret is kept away from you.”

He turned his eyes away from her, for a little, and saw that it was bright and sunny on the western horizon. Suddenly, he heard a gust of wind smashing the eastern windows into the walls and blowing the red curtains away in violent waves. Outside the windows, over the fields, the forest and the hills, big dark clouds were gathering, thunders were hauling, and lightning struck down out of the gods sheaths. The King’s eyes remained frozen at the foreboding image outside the east windows.

“When God is gone and the Devil takes hold, who will take mercy on my soul?”

“What do you believe your wrongs are?”

“I’ve taken thousands of lives during the battles”, countless of faces started flashing one after another, countless of horrified voices screaming inside his head.

“A thousand more were given and even more of them over the years.”

“I’ve let three of my children perish in my wars.”

“It is in each one’s power to decide the type of character they are in either war, peace or sickness. Your children proved their character when they deiced to join you in battles.”

“I did not raise my two heirs properly. And now they think my decisions are mad.”

“At the right time, they will remember what you taught them and they will be grateful.”

“I laid with too many women before battles and have dishonored my wife.”

“Many feel lonely when facing an unpredictable outcome. And some wins prove to be priceless treasures”, said the woman gazing at the door through which Alezandra just went out.

“I’ve lusted for treasures and filled the treasury with coins that are now sitting useless.”

“The people of this land are more than willing to give a little back in return for the lot they are receiving.”

“I did not give my warriors work over the last two decades.”

“They were given peace and time to spend with their families.”

The King’s turmoil was growing higher and higher as his voice became tremulous and his eyes drowned in tears. He took another deep breath and continued his confession.

“I’ve felt haughty. I built this enormous palace and surrounded my land with massive walls. None of the neighboring countries were able to match them and no enemy and rival succeeded in conquering them. And now, I feel envious of it. ”

“In the act of creation, it often happens that the one created outtakes their creator in order to protect what they love the most.”

“I’ll give you power, I’ll make you known, I’ll make you the Queen of the world.”

“No wealth, no silver, no gold, nothing satisfies me but your soul.”

“I am a coward and I am frightened.”

“You’ve been anything else but this for the past 100 years.”

“I am disgusted with what I’ve become, a shadow of the man I was before”, said the King as he faced the image of a hundred years old man, with long, white hair and beard, with a wide forehead covered in deep wrinkles, with eyes buried deep inside his sockets, thin lips, and his flesh barely hanging on his bony body.

“The human body is merely a shell to cover the spirit. Yours is the one I now call friend and you are to join me as equals, Alezander.”

“Would you spare me over another year?”

“My name is Death, and the end is here.”

He continued gazing at the storm, while the woman got closer to his bed. She embraced his head between her hands and turned it towards the West. He took a short look at the sun setting before she closed his eyes forever.

Outside, the people of the land were giving away white clothes to honor their beloved King.

***

To be continued.

Cătălina & Ana.

Chess board players

Snipped off the Chess Board Players

Dec 222014
 

Dear Readers,

Ever since my brain was damaged, I became very interested in how this “pretty” organ works and how mine is working, in particular. In nearly all articles that were read to me, the brain is often compared to a computer and unanimously described as an electric network. If this is the case, everyone of us owns a very powerful computer without even knowing. All sorts of associations between my damaged brain and a computer/ an OS come to mind.

If my brain is a computer, then I’m functioning on a Pentium 1 Processor, with 126 MB RAM, with no graphic card and broken sound card. The default OS is Windows 98.

If my eyes are the monitor, then I have the plainest and most boring screensaver in the world.

My screensaver is so boring, that I don’t have to count sheep during the night to fall asleep.

When suggested by someone to move the mouse to change the screensaver, I said “Pointless, when every pixel on the monitor is dead.”

My monitor has been on saving power for so long, that I reduced the electricity bill down to half.

My OS is sending so many bug reports, that the technicians had to abort the project. Even the guys from NASA felt overwhelmed.

My sound card is so broken, that it keeps buffering once every 5 words.

Since I’m not downloading visual information anymore, I do not need a fast broadband connection either. I’m working through dial-up connection. I don’t need more then 100kb/s upload and download speed. Just as much, I’m saving a lot of money, since I’m not buying external hard-drives to store images and videos.

My hearing is so bad, that the voice recognition program SIRI keeps asking “Did you mean to say…?” five times in a row.

My privacy settings are so weak, that everything was left on public display.

My antivirus is on such high alert, that every time I feel something new on my skin it sends me “ding” alerts to warn me that something potentially dangerous is happening.

My wires are so tight and twisted, that it’s taking the IT guys months to unravel the thousands of kilometers/miles of cables.

And since I’m talking about wires, they get so overheated sometimes that they produce sparks.

My core temp is so high, that I don’t need to wear socks in winter, except when I go outside. It’s the only time the processor is cooling down.

I run a very small number of programs simultaneously, hence the CPU usage is down to minimum.

If my brain is a computer, than where do I place the mouse over?! On my chest, of course.

My handwriting is so unique, that they didn’t invent a font for it yet. If they did, they would name it “I don’t know what the heck I am writing here?!”

My OS has been down for maintenance for so long, that it may get a Guinness record for the slowest OS in the world, or a Rotten Tomato trophy.

I don’t need to use a keyboard any longer. Thank you world for inventing the touch screen.

There is so much electricity running inside my network, that I could power a school or a hospital for that matter.

The above named electric network sends me such powerful shocks, that I feel like a burglar being zipped with a stun gun by the victim.

My computer programs give me so little options and resources, that I feel I’ve been on free trial since forever. Any existing plugins are incompatible anyway.

It’s taking my computer so long to restart, that it gives me enough time to take a shower, go to the market, prepare a meal and have a snooze in the afternoon.

If I ever get the latest versions of these programs, the updating process would more than likely be indefinite.

My computer is ecological: it doesn’t need to be plugged in a socket. My computer runs through solar and wind mill power.

My computer is so surprising, that when it is being dusted off, the IT guys exclaim in awe: “This one is alive!”

Yeah, that’s about it.

The post might be updated one day.

Happy preparing for holidays guys, I’m logging off,
Cătălina.

Replica of Zuse Z3, the first fully automated analog computer

Replica of Zuse Z3, the first fully automated analog computer

Dec 122014
 

Dear Readers,

“I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking that maybe six feet ain’t so far down”. There are times in life when you go through events that make you, quite literally, feel like you just hit the ground. I once described this feeling as if life kicks you in the butt so hard and pushes you off a tower building. While you can’t stop the fall and wait to hit the ground, you can’t also stop hearing life’s voice laughing behind your back and telling you: “You fool!” Sometimes you would lay there on the pavement, broken into thousands of pieces, disintegrated.

For those of us who are faint of heart, a fall like this is catastrophic. I believe the wrong in these circumstances lays in the fact that we expect to pick every little broken piece and glue them together once again, so we can go back to the things we are sure they define us as people. We seldom think, during a fall like this, that we don’t have to pick up each and every piece of ourselves and that we have the chance to leave the unnecessary pieces behind and, if we only choose the right pieces, then we would get up from the ground a lot faster and feel much lighter as well. Surely, I am talking about life events such as loosing a job, going through a break-up, or a divorce, illness, loosing a loved one and so on.

I started this blog to point out the fact that I have been laying on the ground for far too long, feeling crushed, humiliated and terrified, blaming myself for all sorts of things, when in fact there was nothing wrong with the things I wanted. There was nothing wrong with me, really. Even after a year since the stroke, I still want the same things. I still want my own little place, mostly so I can paint the walls however I want, so I can move furniture around at 4 a.m in the morning, so I can build shelves whenever I want. I still want loneliness, not because I don’t like people, but because sometimes silence makes up for a thousand words. On top of that, I wouldn’t dislike being alone while running around butt naked in my own little place. This idea goes hand in hand with my desire for privacy and intimacy. I still want to get up from my small desk/office whenever I feel like and do a handstand against the wall. I often took my shoes off and stood on the tip of my toes (just like Rose in “Titanic”). I still want things, inappropriate things :), deemed as inappropriate by society. I still want to cross the mountains and touch the sky. I still believe the world is my own oyster. I still believe in myself and in my ideas. And if other people don’t believe in me, then that’s their effin’ problem. ‘Cause, if there is something that my fall has taught me, it is the fact that I should free myself from the burden of having to make other people happy at the cost of my own happiness. At the same time, I am releasing everyone else from the duty of having to please me or make me happy as well.

I’m leaving the 50 shades of Cătălina behind.

I just want to be free.

I’m not scared of falling anymore.

Cătălina.

My version of six feet from the edge

My version of six feet from the edge

Nov 262014
 

Dear Readers,

(The Big Red Haired Fox, Ana, keeps telling me that the blog gets more hits and visitors each month, so, I am upping the formula to readers and will talk to you as a whole from now on. Do not feel depersonalized on me now, I care about each one of you, especially if you are not a hit and runner.)

The idea of writing about the thick blood issue was seeded in my mind a while ago, but decided to hear another doctor’s opinion on the matter, before posting something. This last doctor confirmed some of my beliefs.

Most of the article’s content will be speculation, because my case was and it still is unusual and no doctor has been able to clearly state what the cause of the stroke was. As a result, I will write about what I believe happened (please, notice the emphasis). This article is a response to the many readers who insist that what happened to me was medical related (though they couldn’t point out any abnormalities), whereas, I believe it was something psychological. Yes, I know, the idea is hard to digest, but, please, do not underestimate ones power and desire for self-destruction. Some information from previous posts will be repeated, and some information is still a little too case-sensitive to be talked about. However, I plan to be as factual as possible and less dramatic. I suppose I won’t be able to completely avoid the drama, but I kindly ask you to leave your tissues inside your pockets. I do not mean to write this article to make you pity me or feel sorry for me. There are people all around who go through far worse situations than I did. But, through this post, I do mean to show that each one of us is unique and each experience affects and influences each individual in a different way. I would have accepted pity, if I were drooling and would have stared at the walls completely lost. I honestly feel lucky my sight and hearing are on pause and not my sanity (I admit, I have short moments of staring at the walls, but I don’t even know if the walls are there; sometimes Ana tells me that I stare at her … I made a promise to myself that if my sight comes back to me during the night, I’ll wait for Ana to wake up, lurking under the blankets, and staring at her in the creepiest way possible – sheesh! Now she knows, the element of surprise is gone). Getting some sight and hearing back would still make me a normal person. Whereas, getting some sanity back would mean I would still be a little insane. Anyways, it will be proved later that nothing extraterrestrial is happening inside my head and, in fact, most of what I feel makes sense.

Let’s see what this story about the thick blood is all about, ‘cause surely, it ain’t the red elixir that Eric and Bill drink succulently out of Sookie’s neck, while she shouts ecstasiated : “Ah!” and volunteeringly offers a gallon of her fairy blood to the Fangs per episode.

Fooling around with grapefruit juice after finishing True Blood

Șui Fang with Pink Elixir a.k.a. Grapefruit Juice

There is nothing sexy about blood. In fact, when people get blood tests, they will close their eyes or look the other way, instead of “enjoying” the view of a needle being stung in their veins. Some people will even faint. I know I nearly did, once, while in the hospital. The nurse nearly fainted with me, as well. Back then, my blood was clotting like crazy on the needle. And, since we are talking about hospitals and doctors and such, I will also add this: the post will talk mostly about feelings, because, physically, I felt very little pain.

Did you, guys, notice that when doctors ask a patient how they feel, they are actually interested in the changes in the patient’s physical condition. They will rarely care about emotions. They will rarely ask: “Do you feel sad? Do you feel happy?” They will only ask if you feel pain, itches and the likes. I believe doctors treat the body as a mechanism and they tend to forget about the human element. Of course, they will care a lot about your feelings, if you find yourself in the psychiatric ward (but, I don’t know, I’ve never been there, I am only assuming). Plus, how many of you guys exclaimed “ewww!!!” after spiting blood with toothpaste when brushing your teeth and washed away the disgusting sight in the sink with water.(I am told my gums stopped bleeding ten months ago) Examples can go on and on and on.

In any case, officially, blood is … a bodily fluid that carries necessary substances (such as nutrients and oxygen) and antibodies to the cells and removes metabolic waste (carbon dioxide, urea, lactic acid, etc) from those very cells. Blood is composed of blood cells , which are suspended in plasma. Plasma represents half of the blood fluid, it is mostly water that contains dissipated proteins, glucose and other dissolved nutrients and its main functions are to circulate nutrients and remove waste products. The blood cells are: red blood cells (they contain hemoglobin and transport oxygen); white blood cells (they are part of the immune system and their purpose is to destroy and remove old/abnormal cells and fight against infections and foreign substances); and platelets (these are smaller cells that help the blood to clot in response to broken blood vessels). Blood also transports hormones and signal damaged tissues, they also regulate the body pH and core body temperature. Blood is prevented from clotting in the blood vessels by their smoothness, and the finely tuned balance of clotting factors. The source of our information is Wikipedia.

If you didn’t know already, I hope you understand how vital blood is for our body. Earlier in the post, I joked about the blood being a red elixir, when in fact that’s exactly what it is for the body. As such, every malfunction and change in blood density can cause massive damage to the body of a living being.

Let’s ask Google what the possible reasons that cause changes in blood are, making it thick, like in my case.

Thick blood (also known as hypercoagulation) is a condition in which the blood is more viscous than usual. This means that the coagulation agents produce more clots than necessary, blocking the blood flow. These clots pose great threat, because they can travel in the arteries and the veins in the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and other limbs causing stroke, heart attack and severe damage to the organs. As blood thickens, the circulation of nutrients, hormones and oxygen to the cells and tissues is hindered, resulting in widespread nutritional, hormonal and oxygen deficiencies. If cells and tissues don’t get what they need they start to die.

There are many factors that can lead to hypercoagulation and medical researchers have gathered them into two main categories:
– Acquired hypercoagulation: – the excessive blood clotting is triggered by the existence of another disease or condition (examples: smoking, being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, prolonged bed rest, pregnancy, cancer, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, heavy metal toxicity, car/plane trips, different types of infections, stress or trauma, etc.);
– Genetic (inherited) hypercoagulation: – the source of the excessive clotting is a genetic defect. These defects mostly affect the proteins involved in the clotting process or the substances responsible for dissolving the clots.

Common symptoms for people with tick blood are:
– abnormal thick blood when taking blood tests;
– slow bleeding when cut;
– overall nutritional, hormonal and oxygen deficiencies;
– repeated miscarriages;
– a family history of abnormal blood clotting,heart attacks, stroke or deep vein thrombosis, etc.

For those of us who are faced with any of these misfortunes (some of which we are responsible for), there goes a life changing stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, kidney failure, deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease or pregnancy problems. Sis has talked a lot about theory, hasn’t she? If you want to know more about these things, she will add useful links to different articles at the end of the post. Now it’s my turn to intervene, because I honestly find myself very little in the above talked theory. Plus, I said I’d talk about feelings.

A short medical history:

While trying to prove a theory, we would have to look closer to the circumstances. And I thought I’d better mention all the medical issues that I faced over the years: the usual vaccines you get as kids, colds, toothaches and childhood illness (smallpox and the likes). I had a very early period (tmi). I had a gastritis crisis, which left me a little sensitive to some food. On another occasion, I lifted a heavy box and had a sore back for two months or so. As a child, I also had double vision, so I began wearing glasses to correct the problem. Then, during my last year of high school, I hit my head into the bed’s frame and spent a day in the hospital to make sure nothing suspicious occurred (they made me do a CT scan). I was fine. Right before the final exams, I went through an appendix removal surgery. Over the next years, I went through a lungs scan (after cleaning the balcony during an incredible hot summer day, while a fan was ventilating cold air right behind my back). Then the usual visits to the ophthalmologist (I admit I didn’t wear the glasses properly; they were supposed to be worn permanently, but I didn’t because I didn’t like them.) Went to a visit to the gynecologist and was prescribed birth control pills. The doctor found a small uterine fibroid that the next gynecologist didn’t see. The birth control pills were supposed to partially treat this uterine fibroid. I had to take a blood test to be prescribed the pills and the results showed that my blood was fine. Then a last visit to the ophthalmologist before going to Ireland… And then the stroke. During the last years, I also suffered from painful headaches, because of the state of mind I was in. I have not had any headaches since the stroke. I must add that no one in my family, including grandparents and distant relatives, doesn’t or didn’t have any kind of rare blood disease or abnormalities in the blood. As far as I remember, I am the only one in my family that has suffered a stroke. People in my family have battled with infections of the lungs, diabetes, heart diseases and rheumatism. I guess the genetic causes can be eliminated from the equation.

Where the hack is the logic in all of this? Where were the symptoms for hypercoagulation hiding? Wasn’t I supposed to show some early signs, some physical changes? What kind of rare blood disease appears and disappears overnight? The diagnostic for a rare blood disease wasn’t officially given but only speculated. Also, only some of the doctors pined the evil on the birth control pills, whilst the others didn’t believe that the pills were the cause. I should add the fact that I took the pill for three months a year for three years in a row and felt no side effects. So, I am unsure whether they contributed to my hypercoagulation condition or not.

But what a powerful mechanism and your own worst enemy your mind can be! I keep saying I didn’t feel anything physically. But emotionally it was more than I could carry.

So, now, let me tell you a bit about my emotional history.

I’ll go briefly through the two decades of my life (wow, I am at an age where I can talk about decades?) and then we’ll go a little more Holden Caulfield over the last years of this so called autobiography.

I remember feeling happy and normal up until I was 8. Kids sense stuff. And I sensed that something was wrong when, during a whole winter, we had beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We moved a lot during childhood and we lived in Istanbul, Turkey, for almost a year … we had to put school on hold during that time. When returning to the country, my family and I moved in a 1 room … flat in an old dorm and lived there for 5 years. I remember most of this childhood bleeding my life out for half a month every month until I was 14 (again tmi!?, sorry about that, but you asked for it.) Then we moved into a rented 1 bedroom flat and began feeling approximately like a normal teenager, with the usual teen dramas, you know … ”I’m too short.”, “I don’t like my body.”, “Why doesn’t anyone notice me?”, “I want to go out more often.”, “I like this boy, but he doesn’t like me back.” … and so on. However, I grew up with a strong feeling of wanting my one space and wanting to belong somewhere. As much as possible, I tried to help my parents, so I became very creative with writing. I wrote to various influential people (including the vice mayor of Brăila) and got scholarships for my school achievements. I wrote to the local newspaper and got a temporary volunteering job. I even wrote to the former President, Traian Băsescu, to help a person I knew who was in deep trouble (by the way, they replied and told me that they couldn’t help because helping me would mean a severe breach in the separation of power). I even wrote to churches, especially before attending the national contest in Romanian language and literature and they helped me. This made a few people, whom I thought as friends, to call me a beggar. Sadly, some people do not realize how fortunate they are and that other people go through rough times and that a few of them will actually do something to change the equation, even if that means asking for help from the most unusual people and places. (I was once robbed; the thief doesn’t belong to this category of people) Please, understand from all of this bla, bla, bla the fact that I wanted to do something with my life and to have my own special place where I could be myself. So, this are the first 20 years of my life.

Let’s move on to more modern times, now, and see what the nutter Cătălina has been up to (just now, sis told me that I’ve had an adventurous life – I wish I had). Well, she went to college, just like most Romanian young people do. And that’s when the history of lies, deceit, suffering, sadness (I could carry on and on with the dramatic words) began. The next chain of events will be added in no particular order, since most of what I remember is a hurricane of (negative) feelings.

I was not far from the typical idealist youngster, who thinks the world is a piece of cake and believes that can conquer mountains. I set my standard bar very high and expected to much from myself and from people. I didn’t take into account that I was (am!?) very shy and socially awkward. The first year of college wasn’t so bad. I continued writing to people and tried finding something interesting to do. But, in a bigger city, competition is higher as well. Having guts and cojones is a must. You actually have to punch people in the face to enjoy a seat on the bus or sneak amongst the thousands of people waiting at the subway during rush hour to get to a class in time (the main theme from „Monk”, „It’s a jungle out there”, comes to mind). I won’t even go into talking about finding a decent job as a student with no work experience. Survival of the fittest.

Things really went south after the first year in Bucharest, after moving in with the boyfriend from that time. He was a heavy snorer. Heavy is too easy to describe the years wasted with him . So, I will replace it with horror. He snored so bad, that at times I thought he would choke and stop breathing and die next to me. He snored so bad, that, at times, I wanted to cover his face with a pillow. He slept like the dead, that every night it took 50 minutes of kicks in his butt to wake him up and make him change sides. He never bothered to take care of the snoring issue, because he never cared how much it was affecting me. As a result, I became a night owl. I would sleep in the mornings, after he left for work, and would live my life during the nights, watching TV shows and learning stuff about the internet. You probably wander why I didn’t ditch this guy earlier. I wish I’d know the answer to the question myself. He told me everyday that he loved me, while brutalizing and blackmailing me. Blackmail? Stupid things that stupid young people do and don’t want their family, friends and the world to know. I couldn’t leave, because he didn’t let me go (or so I thought at that time). People take their lives when they girlfriend/boyfriend break up with them. I held a razor blade in my hand for a whole day, while telling myself to do it or not to do it. I decided over not to do it because I thought that no one is worth such a sacrifice. This type of thought came back to my mind after the stroke, when the pain of having lost my sight was overwhelming. I was never left alone for more than 15 minutes and no available method I could think of would have done the job properly in that time frame. I even thought of variations and combinations, just like in crocheting. Seriously, ones mind can be very creative. But all of these would only have crippled me more and would have increased the suffering. The thought didn’t come back to my mind ever since and I am telling you about it because I’ve been at that bottom. The idea of such an easy way to stop the wrongs and the suffering in your life is very seductive. Not anymore, it isn’t. I would like to listen to one last song, preferably “J’arrete” by Ottilie, while having a particular type of dance with a stranger (something I find more intimate than anything else) before I die. I am only romanticizing death now and I am not expecting this event to actually happen, since I had already set the expectation too high once.

Anyway, I wish this was all I ever felt. But on top of all of this, I went through the disappointment of not finding my path. I’ve felt unloved, ignored and not taken seriously… And how about the numerous times I went out and people would pass by me without even looking at me as if I was invisible … I felt my family did not support me (Ana is huffing and puffing now, but that is what I felt then). Every time I complained about the rough times I was going through, all I was able to hear through the lines was: „But isn’t that what you wanted?” Slowly but surely I felt like I had to create another Cătălina, the happy, successful and the overachiever Cătălina, just to take people off my back. I’ve lied about nearly everything I’ve done over the last 5 years or so. No one saw anything … ever … because I hid myself very, very well. I preferred lying and suffering over hearing: „Haven’t we told you so?” And, boy, the type of lies I came up with. They were so complex and detailed that I thought lying was something pathological. It came way too naturally. Have you guys ever made scenarios and practiced the lines in the mirror to make it more believable? ‘Cause I’ve done that. Sometimes I’d be caught in the act, so, I’d have to come up with more lies on the spot to cover the first ones … Vicious circle …

While the fake Cătălina was flourishing, the other me felt lonelier and lonelier by the day. There were days I would have loved to talk to people over the phone, but, when going through my contacts list, I felt like there was anyone I could have talked to. Eventually, I broke up with the boyfriend after 5 years of misery and humiliation. The sleeping problems continued. I slept in shifts: ten days during the night, the next ten in the morning, and the last ten days of the month in the afternoon. The sleeping problem had a great impact over my eating habits as well. I never had a meal at the same hour everyday. I replaced water with Pepsi. Truth be told, I was surprised they didn’t find Pepsi instead of blood while in the hospital. There were times I would go to the mall and get myself crisps, salty sunflower seeds, popcorn, chocolate, 2,5 L of fizzy drinks, after which I’d go to KFC and order two menus of hot spicy wings and fried potatoes, then would return home and stuffed my mouth and belly with comfort food. Sometimes, I’d finish all these junk in a few hours, sometimes I would leave a little for the next day, sometimes I would spend the last money I had on this junk and not care that the next day I’d eat buttered toast. Many times I thought I would become overweight and that I would have heart issues. Such an ignorant, wasn’t I? No matter the outcome, blood was the one getting the short stick.

So, how come I was able to keep a job? You’ll wonder. I wasn’t. But I said I knew my ways around the internet, so I earned something but never enough to make me feel safe about the next day. For years I’ve been scared about what the next day might bring. My self esteem was so low, that at times I would paint my face with tons of make-up (even though I don’t actually wear make-up) and end up looking like this guy below to feel as cheap as possible and ridicule myself.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in the movie The Dark Knight

Feeling like The Joker

I take pride that I did not lose my sanity. But, now I believe I just got it back. Some of you suggested that I might suffer from chronic fatigue, but it wasn’t energy to do things that I lacked … it was mood that was missing. I wouldn’t get out of the bed for days, not because I felt tired or sick, but because I felt there wasn’t anything I could do. I seldom went out for a walk and when I did, it was to get myself more bad food. The sun seldom saw me. I said this before but will repeat it now: I’ve smashed glasses onto the floor, after finishing their contents … smart enough not to smash a glass full of Pepsi onto a wall, eh?! The anger was so overwhelming sometimes that I’d have a pillow fight with the couch (how silly is that?). I didn’t dare test my knuckles on the wall. I really did move furniture around at 4 in the morning and worse, when I got very creative, started building shelves for my yarn stash at 9 p.m. Sometimes, I would make French fries with fried eggs at 5 a.m. At times I’d go for a shaorma or a pizza at midnight.

I mentioned a bit about the uterine fibroid issue. But left the icing of the cake until now. When found, the doctor told me that I would face difficulties in having children and that I should try having one in 2-3 years tops. This was happening three years ago. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt less of a woman. I did not want to have children at 24. But the doctor gave me a deadline and made me believe I was under the clock.

When I went to Ireland, I left some of these bad habits behind: finally put my sleep together, reduced some of the junk food I ate for homemade meals, I did not give up the Pepsi, though, and found a goal and something pleasant to do. I wrote extensively about it in “My soft spot for crocheting” series. But all the good changes were nearly not good enough. I still had a sedentary life and still felt unhappy for all the wrong, small reasons. I continued with the lies towards my family, just to assure them that I was ok and not have them worry for me. On top of that, I was in a second unhappy relationship, something I rarely talk about, because it was so unusual that I have to keep it a secret. In fact, all that time I felt like I was his dirty little secret.

I believe it’s time to talk about that great emotional shock that I often mentioned in my previous posts but never elaborated on it. So, here it goes.

Last year, on the 1st of November, 2013, I woke up in the morning just like any other morning, alone, in bed, as usual (he was a worse night owl than me). I went downstairs with the thought of a new crochet tutorial in my mind. I went to the computer room and found the person I was with in very awkward and embarrassing circumstances. My first reaction was to say: “I’ll pretend I didn’t see this.” That’s exactly what I got ever since. I left the room and went somewhere else. The thing obviously bothered me but he didn’t come to talk to me and simply went to bed. For a while, I had been looking for an excuse to leave and come back home. So, I did something of which I am not proud and looked through his computer. I found an incredibly intimate message that he wrote to another person a while back, but still during the time we were supposed to be together. It is surprising how this thing hurt less, since I was looking for an excuse to leave anyway. What hurt the most was the fact that I found myself very, very far from home, with no money, no support, utterly alone and a history of lies that I told to my family. For three hours I cried my eyes out, telling myself: “Cătălina, what the hell are you doing here? Do you honestly think there is nothing else in the world better for you? Is this really all?” It was heartbreaking. Have you, guys, ever had such a chat with yourselves? I am sure a lot of you have. Not everyone has a stroke afterwards. Signs of my stroke came shortly after. You can read more about how I had a stroke in my previous posts.

So, where is the genetics in all of these? Where is the rare blood disease again? How about that infection? How about the heavy metal poisoning? Have to add the fact that I never smoked, I only drank half a glass of champagne for the past 7 years on New Years and never took drugs. No traces of any of these were found in mys system, when tests were taken. My internal organs function properly. Since they couldn’t find any infection after testing me inside out for a whole month, they decided to generously offer me one a few days before leaving the hospital, none other then E.Coli, when I was put on probe (still battling to get rid of it). No doctor that attended to me cared about all this emotional baggage. What they thought means less, I am still talking about the emotional history, so, hold on tight, kids, ‘cause I’m not done yet. What I’ve said so far is child’s play in comparison to the stuff I felt while I was in the hospital and during the next weeks after, when my mind was set loose on the playground.

Have you ever felt anger? I have when no doctor listened to the story I told them and completely ignored the facts. How about frustration? I have. When nearly all doctors insisted that I had an infection, even though no signs of one showed in the test results. Have you ever felt desperation? I have. I was desperately allowed to walk around the room, instead of being chained to the bed through IVs all the time. I was desperate for a breath of fresh air. The only time I was able to have some air was when I was switching hospitals. The feel of snow and cold air on my skin were the only things that made me feel alive. Have you ever felt disgust? I have. When I couldn’t go to the bathroom like a normal young woman and had to eliminate all bodily fluids and waste in a bedpan. Have you ever felt utterly disgusted? I have. When I had an enema and when I was unnecessarily attached a probe and put in adult pampers. Have you ever felt shame? I have. When my body was exposed to the world inside and out, while I was the only one I couldn’t see it. How about embarrassment? That’s what I felt every time my father cleaned me after eliminating my bodily fluids. Have you ever felt fear? I have. When the nurses took blood from my legs because they couldn’t take from my arms anymore. They would say “Sorry, you are out of free slots on your arms. Have you ever felt confusion? I have. Because I didn’t feel as sick as the doctors thought I was. So, I didn’t understand why I had to stay in the hospital for so long, and especially in intensive care. Have you ever felt envy? I have. I was envious of the 80 and 90 year old people in the hospital that were doing better than I was. Have you ever felt empty? I have. When I was laying on the bed, unable to move, see and hear anything and feel nothing. Have you ever felt desire? I have. I lusted for a glass of water, instead of drinking it with a straw. How about panic? I have. When I thought that, if I was going to die, my family would bury a person they knew nothing about and they would find out who Cătălina really was from emails, old diaries and other people. Have you ever felt remorse? I have. While I was still unable to tell my family the truth, even though my life was depending on it, slowly, but surely, I freed myself from all of the lies. Have you ever felt hate? I have. I hated everyone who did an injustice to me and who, willingly or unwillingly, contributed to my suffering. Have you ever felt like you’ve given up the fight? I have. After I was moved from Colentina Hospital to the Institute of Neurology. The moment I felt I gave up the fight the real stroke happened and lost my sight completely. Have you ever felt terror? I have. When my family took me out of the hospital and, even though I knew I was in a safe place, on my side of the bed, and the people around me couldn’t have been any one but my mom, dad or sister, every touch on my skin, every shake of the bed, every loving kiss or caress on my forehead produced a shock in my brain and made my heart explode. Have you ever felt even more terror? I have. When no matter the direction I was looking at … right, left, up, down … all I was able to see was black (I don’t see black anymore) … and all monsters come from the dark. Terror is what I felt when every voice and sound around me was translated into drums and basses. All I was able to hear was noise. Have you ever felt relief? Salvation? I have. When I set on my side of the bed, after being released from the hospital, and Pufi The Yorkie jumped straight into my arms. And all my loved ones were around me. And I knew I was saved. Have you ever felt the need to hide? I have. When everything around me bothered me, scared me and made me suffer so much that I just wanted to run away and I hid myself inside my mind, blocking anyone and anything, including light and proper sound to come in. Have you ever felt all of these, one after the other, in a very short period of time? Well, that how my time in the hospital felt like. I am not asking if ever felt physical pain. I felt very little physical pain and this was a result of blood not flowing properly inside my brain. In fact, my hands were sorer because of all the needles. And yet no doctor cared about my state of mind.

Was I able to prove that the thick blood and the stroke were a result of a wrong lifestyle, stress and emotional turmoil? Well, that’s what I believe happened. I rest my case. I do not wish to fight with anyone about any other possible causes and stuff like that. I’ve accepted it as it is and I am moving on. I understand that people will tell me that only if I did something instead of another thing then … I am eliminating all the what ifs … and I should have done that … from my vocabulary. They cannot change anything. So, I am not going to fight over spilt milk any longer. Just as much, I believe that my healing will be a mixture of healthy lifestyle, lack of stress and positive thinking. I was told not to blame myself over the things that happened. I am not anymore. And I stopped holding a grudge against the other parties involved as well (I hold some grudge against the doctors that attended to me). If this article gives you the impression that I still feel guilt, blame, anger and so on it is a result of the way you, Dear Reader, are reading my words. I dared myself not to cry for myself while writing this post and I haven’t.

Proof I didn't cry

Cruse my heart and hope to die, I wasn’t faking it.

I asked Ana to take a photo of me as a proof that I did not cry. I am sure some people will read emotional pain and suffering on my face. It is probably because Ana keeps telling me to sit tightly and stop sticking my tongue out, while she is pushing the shutter button. I am honestly doing much better, guys. (Cătălina stop lying. There is still a little bit of fury left in there, isn’t it? Maybe…)

You probably want to know what happened with my blood after hospitalization. Please, remind yourself that I was given medicine through IVs to reduce the clots for three weeks and it didn’t help. At home, my family gave me a pill of Sintrom (anticoagulant) a day for two months. Taking this pill meant constant supervision, including blood tests every month. I didn’t take any blood tests, tough, because I was too scared of the needles. My family didn’t want to make me go trough that pain yet again, so they switched to aspirin. The blood clots dissolved on their own during the next few months. In May, this year, when my brain activity started to go haywire, my family took me to the hospital to see a new neurologist (I had an MRI a few days earlier) which showed improvements. Only then did I take a new blood test and the results showed that I had a normal blood. The results shocked pretty much everyone in the medical ward who knew some details about my case. This doctor put me back on Sintrom, half a pill a day. Two weeks later the test results showed that my blood was thinner than normal. It was supposed to be like that to prevent clotting (said the doctor) after two more weeks, new results showed that it was too thin. So, I was given a quarter of pill a day. I’ve taken blood tests every month to make sure my blood is alright. I went from too thin, to thin and then to normal. Presently,I am off the anticoagulant pill and have to take a new blood test when I return home.

’nuff said, I guess. It’s very late right now and I am lusting for a glass of natural juice. This has been my blood thinner over the last year, keeping that healthy balance. Still working on the stress and positive thinking. But there are “forces” around me, kicking me in the butt and suggesting my mind to stop giving a god damn about the past. Plus, I have to keep some information for the article about “The stupid brain syndrome”.

Enjoy True Blood,
Cătălina.

P.S.1: I am interested in knowing more about rare blood diseases and how they manifest in real life. If you know of some one who goes through something like this, please share any medical information.

P.S.2: If a vampire drinks blood from a person who suffers from hypercoagulation, what happens to the vampire? Can anyone answer me this?

P.S.3: You will wonder if this is all I’ve ever felt. No. There is more. But these things are buried so deep that talking about them would mean waking ancient dinosaurs up and they would eat and consume me alive. Plus, talking about talking about even more horrible sins, would make this article redundant. I felt happiness, and I’ve seen beauty too. And they deserve to be talked about as well. And so, I will.

What if blood vessels were visible on our bodies?

References:

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/hypercoagstate
http://naturopathconnect.com/articles/thick-blood/
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/What-Is-Excessive-Blood-Clotting-Hypercoagulation_UCM_448768_Article.jsp
http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/diffdx/hypercoagulation.html
http://www.drlam.com/opinion/blood_thinners_and_nutritional_supplement.asp

Nov 012014
 

Dear Reader,

I named this post as I did because last time I was in Bucharest I nearly lost my life. As you can imagine, I am now in the city with my sister and my mom for more tests, procedures and alternative therapy. It doesn’t feel like perdition any longer, but I still have time to change my mind about that thought. Hopefully not (added later: I haven’t changed my mind).

For a while now, my family and I have been thinking about finding better and more open minded doctors to help my case. However, a trip to Bucharest would have been difficult. Through a strange chain of events, a person we haven’t heard of in 18 years (his name is T.) showed up out of the blue and offered to help. For a few weeks, I kept changing my mind about this trip ( I believe I was very scared). But then, more help was offered, all stars were aligned and I was forcefully dragged out of my beloved bed I was glued to for the last 10 months, to come to Bucharest.

We departed on the last Sunday evening. On Saturday, when my mom and sis were packing stuff, I asked my mom: “Do you know what it would mean if they have to split my head open for surgery?” “No.”, said mom. “What does it mean?” “It means they will have to shave my head bold.” Mom laughed and said: “Is that your biggest fear?” Of course, it wasn’t, but I was happy I made my mom laugh because earlier that day, she confessed she was shaking like a leaf from fear.

At the same time, I made Ana swear to tell me the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in case the doctors gave us bad news. My family tends to not keep me in the loop about these sort of things, because they want to protect me and not have me worry.However, Ana is always sincere and she promised she will tell me everything, especially if the doctors gave me very little time to live. “If that is the case, I would spend the last months of my life doing the most outrageous things and living my life to the fullest. “, I told my family. Surely, I was joking, mostly because we were all tense and worried.

T. and his friend, S., came for us on Sunday afternoon… and along we went.

S., Cati and The Big Red Haired Fox

S., Cati and The Big Red Haired Fox

The drive from Braila to Bucharest, in a decent car, takes around two and a half hours. What do you think a person who is blind and partially deaf can do for 2 and ½ hours in a car (since he/she is unable to join the conversation)? Well, let me tell you what I did. I counted from 1 to 900 and then backwards from 900 to 1. 900 seconds mean 15 minutes. 15+15=30 minutes. Then, I got bored with all the counting and started singing “Vermillion Pt.2.0” over and over again. Actually, I only sang it three times because I got bored of singing as well. But that meant another 15 minutes. Then, I started thinking about a post that my sis and I are going to write in the near future (that one about humanity not being dead). After a while, we reached a bumpy road and I thought to myself: “We must have arrived. Bucharest drift.”

T. keeps telling me how scientists can prove that the future doesn’t exist. He also has an interesting theory about how time doesn’t exist either. It definitely exists for me. But when asked how the drive was, I said: “Who cares, now it’s over!”

We are staying at T.’s place, somewhere outside Bucharest. The three of us thought we weren’t going to adjust and we were shy and didn’t want to impose. But we were welcomed with arms wide open and a warm, tasty plate of food. We talked a lot and I could understand him, but around 10 p.m. we went to sleep. I was scheduled for an appointment with a neurologist at a private clinic, next day in the morning. Because it is so quiet here, I slept like a baby.

On Monday, 8.30 a.m., my mom and Ana had a long talk with the doctor.Curiously, I wasn’t invited in. I waited on the hallway in a big, leathery chair. T. kept me company. It was nice of him to do so, but I still felt awkward, partly because the chair was too big and couldn’t reach the floor with my feet and, of course, other people were deciding my life and future in the next room (or so I thought). After 30 minutes or so, The Big Red Haired Fox (Ana) and mom returned. As usual, I was kept out of the loop. We left the clinic and got back to T.’s place. I felt like no one wanted to tell me anything. My mom kept offering me a banana to eat, and I kept telling everyone to talk to me for God’s sake, about what the doctor said before my grandma hears the news before me.

We set on the sofa and I was told what happened. This doctor is said to be one of the best in Romania, however, when the visit was scheduled, we didn’t know that he was one of the doctors that took part in the team that handled my case back in December. He was the one who performed the MRI with contrasting substance. My first instinct was to say: “Oh! He is the cause for my stroke, then!” If you read my previous posts, then you probably remember that the real, real stroke occurred after I was moved from Colentina Hospital to The National Institute of Cerebral Vascular Diseases, right during the MRI procedure. That is when I simply gave up the fight and collapsed. In any case, the doctor remembered my case really well. “How come?”, you will wonder. He must have had hundreds of cases after me, how come he remembers my case in particular?! Well, it is because he encountered only one similar case before me, and has heard of another one about people with so many blood clots in their brain, that is. He said that the other person didn’t recover 100%. He offered some more information that we didn’t know when we last saw him. He said that my situation was so bad, that they were thinking of cutting a piece of my brain to release the pressure around the optical nerves, and save my life. They didn’t have green light with the surgery because some of the doctors believed that it would do me worse. Instead, they gave me treatment to decompress the pressure in my brain slowly. He said that the blood thinner is usually effective only for 48 hours, after which the body builds antibodies against it; it is replaced with pills or low molecular weight heparin. I was given the medicine for 15 days and it didn’t help. (I was giving positive results while I was in Colentina, though). This is what he says, but God knows what really happened back then.

He is the only doctor that admitted that the reason for my thick blood was a mixture of factors, and the worst of them were a depressive state of mind and the constant fear and panic during the month I was in the hospital. My inactive lifestyle contributed a lot. Having taken the birth control pills during last summer also lead to the unfortunate outcome. But it is finally a fact that my general state of mind was the reason I had the stroke. No other doctor was willing to admit something like that. They all said I must have had something else in my blood and feeling depressed, scared and terrorized couldn’t cause a stroke. Sadly, they can. I am the proof.

The theory of my blood being thick will be subject for another post in the near future; we mean to make it an example of how things can turn out.

Let’s continue with what the doctor said. He looked briefly through my medical papers, especially on the results of the MRI I took in May, and the CT scan in August, and told my family that the images showed good results. There are minor lesions on my frontal lobe. The occipital lobe, where the brain cells for the eyesight are located, is mostly reconstructed. I am able to dream, even colors (something I wasn’t able to do in the two months after my stroke) and remember my dreams in great detail. He, also, suggested that I have my imagination stirred as much as possible, since it keeps my brain active. The fault is somewhere in the middle, between the eyes and the cortical zone. This is what is stopping me from seeing. The only way to know for sure is to go through a medical procedure, but that wouldn’t restore my sight. He added that I might be faced with minor memory loss and changes in my personality. But, it’s been 10 months already, and my memory is actually much better and my personality…well…let’s say I am more honest and open about my problems than usual. The doctor said that he could prescribe some medicine and send me to a psychologist, but this tends to numb the mind and make the patient a bit indifferent to his/her surroundings. Of course, if I show signs of turning into a psychopath, then, that is another story. He said that my body found a way to heal and that I should not be scared of the weird things happening inside my brain, especially since I’ve showed improvements in my hearing. He couldn’t give a logical, scientific explanation to the unusual brain activity I am experiencing, but said that people feel things differently. I just have the misfortune of being aware of my brain activity. Someone else said that this can be an advantage, since I can know myself better and observe how my brain works. The doctor said that he never believed I had a rare blood disease. So, he did not recommend taking the test to find out. He didn’t recommend another MRI either. There is no need for them. He also assured us that I didn’t have any brain syndromes,( except, of course, for the stupid brain syndrome, as I like to name the craziness inside my head) or epilepsy. However, he advised I have a healthy diet with lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help my brain cells. A lot of movement, as well, something, I admit, I am not doing.

From the perspective of conventional medicine there is nothing more that can be done to help me. He said he believes in alternative therapy, and recommended not to be scared if I feel something. In fact, feeling something is proof that my brain is alive. He told my family that he has had lots of cases of people with cerebral thromboses. But far less than I had. If the patient is brought in time to the right doctor, then he usually recovers 99.99% with very little to no damage. I didn’t have the luck to find the right doctor in time.

Just like any other doctor before him, he didn’t guarantee my full recovery. No doctor would, unless they are named Gregory House.

That was all. In a way, I was disappointed. I really was expecting the worse. I was preparing myself for another MRI, for blood tests, needles, hospitalization, and so on. On the other hand, the doctor gave us good news. My brain is, in fact, healing. So, even if he didn’t say it, there is a chance that I will see again. This is pretty much it with the conventional medicine.

T. and a few other people he involved in helping me found a clinic in Bucharest, called JIKO Clinic. The people here practice alternative therapy. I was scheduled for the first visit on Wednesday, and then twice a day until next Thursday, except for the weekend. I am in awe. How is this alternative therapy helping me? I would like to talk more about it at the end of the sessions, when my sister and I will go back home.

Catalina, T. and M. at JIKO Clinic, Bucharest

Catalina, T. and M. at JIKO Clinic, Bucharest

Mom left yesterday, because she has to take care of two other kids: my dad and Pufi. My dad is like a 2 yr old child, he needs constant attention. Hopefully, he will now realize how much he needs mom.

I mentioned earlier, that I felt disappointed. I should add that I felt sad too. Somehow, it felt like I was back to square one. But I’ve been in Bucharest for nearly a week now, I’ve talked to half a dozen of new people, I’ve talked over the phone with dad and mom, I’ve adjusted really well to a new environment, I’ve spent hours in a car stuck in traffic, I laughed a lot and talked about philosophy (T. is like master Yoda and is trying to turn me into his young Padawan – I might not dislike being wise and talking in riddles), I went to a pub/restaurant, I befriended a very jolly dog, Tănţica, I’ve slept better and snored less, and, in a way, I felt sort of normal, something I really, really missed. So, by no means I am back to square one!

Cati and Tantica, her new Furry Friend

Cati and Tantica, her new Furry Friend

I am looking forward to see what happens next and can hardly wait to write about the experience I am going through at the moment.

Until next time.

Be well,
Cătălina.

Oct 262014
 

Dear Reader,

Do you know what the word “vermillion” means? It is a word I a first heard about nine years ago, in a song “Vermillion Pt.2.0”, by Slipknot, but I was never interested in finding out what it means. Until this morning, when I asked The Big Red Head Fox ( Ana) to tell me the definition.

Vermillion is an alternative writing for the word vermilion.

vermilion= a brilliant red pigment made from cinnabar (mercury sulphide)(Oxford Dictionary)

origin. It comes from the Old French word “vermellion”, which was derived from “vermeil”from the Latin word “vermilculus”,the diminutive form of the word “vermis” (worm).The name originated from this word  because the color is similar to the natural dye made by an insect, Kermes vermilio.

You can read more information about the history and usage in art and different cultures of this beautiful color here.

“Really?”, I said. “Is that what it means? I would have never guessed!”  At least my brain has not forgotten how to feel surprised.

In any case, nine years ago we didn’t have a computer. Owning one was a luxury not a lot of people in Romania could afford, back then.  As a teenager very much interested in music, I had to make due to what I had. I remember my sister and I buying a cassette deck , so we could listen to some radio and cassettes. Then my cousin gave us their old CD player. We started buying empty CD’s like mad and would copy music from every one I knew that had a computer. Around my teen years, I became rock music fan. Among the songs that I managed to get my hands on, I discovered Slipknot. Some of you know that Slipknot is not the easiest to the ear band to listen to.

One day, I joined my best friend inn high school and her boyfriend for a walk. I told them I had just discovered Slipknot and that I really loved their song “Vermillion”.

“I know”, the boyfriend said. “Isn’t it the coolest and most sensitive song ever?”, he added.
“Erm…Yeah?!”, I replied, but thought “What the hell is this guy talking about? Vermillion – sensitive? The one that I know is sort of brutal and loud.”

That year, I would often go to the local Youth Council. The guys there had an ancient PC, but still good enough to play some music.While scrolling through the tracks, I discovered the second part of the song “Vermillion”, by Slipknot, “Vermillion Pt.2.0”. I played it. Loved it and hated it ever since. I told myself: “This is probably the song that nutter was talking about the other day.” You’ll wonder why I hate it. Well, easy… it is one of the most lying songs ever. How come? Well, listen to it. It makes you believe in things that do not necessarily exist, or things that you are unable to find even if you are looking for them a lifetime. Besides that, no one ever sang it to me. No one ever told me that I am everything to them.

However, it is now the only song I know and understand all the lyrics to. During the evenings, while my brain is most active and does not allow me to fall asleep, I start singing this song as a lullaby. Sometimes it helps.

Enjoy,

Catalina

P.S.: I won’t go into polemics about the meaning of the these two songs, but I will if you make me to.

Oct 202014
 

Dear Reader,

I’ll start the “Stuck on Replay” idea with a song by Massive Attack, “Paradise Circus”, that you can hear below.
Have you ever been so obsessed over a song that you can’t literally get it out of your mind? In my case, “Paradise Circus” has been just the cup of tea for around 5 years, when I first listened to it on Radio Guerrilla, La Unica Radio con Cojones. So, I will be very high with my words of praise. And, I promise, it is the only time I will do so.
Do you know how hard it is to peak the right ringtone for your phone? You have a dozen songs you like, and you simply cannot decide which one you like the most. So, you end up choosing all of them and setting them separately for different people. Well, not in my case. This song has been the ringtone for my phone since the moment I heard it, and never changed once. I remember feeling so proud of my choice every time the phone rang, especially when I was in crowded places, where other people were able to hear it too. Some of them would even smile at me.
The song gave me courage to talk to a guy I liked back in college. It was a brief conversation and we didn’t speak again, but, in any case, someone really, really cool took notice of me.

It is, also, the last song that I heard before loosing my hearing, last year in December and it is the first song that I started to sound like music, when my hearing began to heal.
Ana changed her ringtone to this song, as well, to help me recognize it and understand it better. Every time her phone rings, Pufi The Yorkie gets really excited and jumps all over the place. He believes that my dad is at the end of the line, which he is in most cases.
I get excited because Hope Sandoval’s voice sounds sweeter and sweeter right from the words “It’s unfortunate…”.

Enjoy the song,

Catalina.

Oct 132014
 

Dear Reader,

This post’s title says that this is the end of the saga, but I really hope that this is not really the end. Today’s post will include things that I omitted or forgot about in the previous posts and a few personal thoughts based on my experience so far.

If you are someone who used to know me back in my teens, you will ironically ask yourselves: “What? Catalina didn’t become some badass  leader, manager, lawyer, journalist, advertising agent, or something like that?” No. I didn’t become anything like that, even if I was that nerdy in school.

The other day, my mom started reading me fairy tales. She found a book that I got in middle school as a prize for my academic achievements. On the front page my mom found a teacher’s message to me. Among the many words of praise addressed to me, the message also said that I finished my school year with full marks (in Romania, it means 10) . So, I’ll repeat this…I really was THAT nerdy. However, I did not find my place in this world, and I couldn’t settle with a boring job (even though I settled with very little in love, friends, and so on), which is probably a bad quality in my personality. I simply refused to work long and hard hours, for very little money that couldn’t even cover the minimum living expenses in Bucharest. And, to get a decent job as a student, you either have to have connections or have certain qualities and abilities, something I lacked.

My other great passion has always been writing. So, for a while, I looked for jobs that involved writing. But every time I thought I found something it was a poor, lousy, underpaid job such as a transcriber or as an article writer for different websites. You will probably wonder how is it that other people make it? I don’t know. But all my respect to them. I couldn’t.

However, I noticed a rapid growth of some websites and ideas, so I asked myself: “Why can’t I do that?” If there is something that I’ve learned over the years is that you yourself is the best business out there. No matter what idea you may have, if you know how to do it, then you will make it. As for me, I had to find the “what to do” first and began the “how to do it” learning process.

Yes, I was depressed for a long time, and I am finally not afraid to admit it publicly. However, every conscious moment I had I spent it on reading a lot of information and teaching myself things about the Internet, the affiliate market, websites, blogging, webdesign (including coding), social media, promoting an idea online, and so on. I became very interested in these and I was set on reaching an advanced level of knowledge, so, I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else but me every time I faced a techy issue. For a while, I was very much like Dee Dee, from Dexter’s Laboratory,saying what does this button do, pushing around all the wrong buttons, just to see what happens. Oh!…boy…the amount of times I got fatal errors when I misplaced a part of the code on a main website. Then I started all the testing on a test site. An advanced user would have backed up their websites, something I didn’t do for coolorful.com. But, then again, I don’t think anyone backs up their sites saying: “Hey, I should back up my site in case next month I should suffer a stroke, or something like that!”.

To make my point. I found the “what to do” in crocheting. Yes, I know, so many of you will say: “That’s so silly!” It’s like telling a fashion designer that their passion means nothing. A lot of the people that know me showed a lot of admiration towards my crocheting. But, I know that even more laughed behind my back and considered it stupid and of no use. I am not ashamed to admit that I was crazy about it and that slowly, but surely, I was making it. The ideas that I had in mind for coolorful.com gave me the chance to mix every passion and hobby I had, like writing, photography, video editing, webdesign, crocheting (and a lot of other arts and crafts). Just as I mentioned in another post, I was finally picking the pieces of myself up and I was putting my life together. And for the shy, scared, little girl that I was, it meant something.

There are a few more points that I would like to address, especially to those of you who are thinking of starting a crochet business online. You can consider them as tips if you wish to and can be applied to many other ideas besides crocheting:

1. You have a hobby and you are thinking: “How can I make a living through my passion?” First of all, your hobby becomes a job. . Many times I was scared that my passion for crocheting would turn into a burden, or a chore. It won’t. Luckily, there is so much variety in these arts that you won’t get bored with it. However, it will still be a job. And that means time, attention, dedication and affection.

2. You have to get yourself online. I already said that you yourself are the best business. As a result, you can create a brand of yourself/your name. You can also play with words and find a nickname that will express your passion as best as possible. I’ve seen some really cool names out there, like FeltedButton, Babukatorium, Crochet Geek, Made with love by Glama and so on. As much as possible, try using the same name every where you sign up.

3. Do not underestimate the power of social media. So, get yourself a You Tube account, Google +, a Facebook page, Pinterest, and the likes. One day, the right visitor with the right number of followers will pick up your art and will bring you more visitors and followers as well. Last year, one of my photo tutorials on coolorful.com was shared on Pinterest, which doubled the number of visitors on my website ever since.

4. I keep talking about a website. There are many free platforms out there like Bloggspot, WordPress, Typed. They are ok, and user friendly, but they are not as brandable as a real website. A real website means some money invested in it: a domain name, and a hosting plan will cost around 130$/year. I got mine from godaddy.com. If you choose this option, make sure you renew your domain name and hosting on time. And, please, do not forget to back up your site. This is how I lost my work last year, when I did not renew the hosting plan while I was in the hospital.

5. You’ve read the word brand a lot so far. That means you are allowed to be yourself, as creative and imaginative as you can be. The more original and unusual your idea is, the more popular it will become. Don’t copy other people’s work. It is not professional and ethical. That means you should use your own patterns, photos, and written instructions. Do not feel ashamed to place a watermark on a photo you take. There are people out there who will simply steal it and will say it is their own. When you write instructions, even for the basic stitches, make sure you use your own words, and not copy paste them from somewhere else. If someone else copy pasted from you, Google will know who wrote it first; they will penalize the copycats and not the originals. If you inspire your work from someone else, at least have the decency to give credits to that person. I won’t go into details with the copyright infringements, the law is complicated and varies from country to country.

6. Do not force your projects onto other people’s work place. That means do not spam. Don’t you hate it when you get an email promoting some miraculous enlargement pill 🙂 ? No one likes it, either. The Akismet plugin already stopped over 1,500 spam messages from showing up on this blog. Spammers are some of the people that I personally despise the most. They are people who will stop at nothing to use you and your hard work to drive away your visitors to their websites. Don’t do this! It will earn you a bad reputation. I’ve also seen a lot of people posting on popular You Tube account and Facebook pages messages like: “I do this and that…Please, visit my website.”yet another one trying to make a fast buck using you. There are many spam counter measures if you wish to protect yourself from them.

Many of the next points will be You Tube related and will express some things I noticed in viewers behavior. It took me some time to get used to how some people act, so, in the end, I got over it.

7. If you are someone who is thinking about showing and teaching other people how to do things, than you have to put yourself on You Tube. You Tube is huge and there is a great chance that you can find people with same interests. I remember reading a post on Mike Sellick’s blog: he was talking about how the wave of newcomers on You Tube was ruining business for the older You Tube crocheters. I remember feeling very disappointed reading his words and thinking how unfair of him to say something like that. You Tube is a great way for every little artist to get outside their shells, gain a little confidence, and showcase their art.

8. We live in the digital era, so, if you wish to make videos, you have to invest in a decent camera which records in high-definition. No one will watch an out of focus and blurred video tutorial. So, basic editing skills are a must.

9. Make sure your hands and the project you are presenting are visible all the time. I’ve seen tutorials where the person lowered their hands off the screen for a little while right when they were explaining important steps. People like to see what you are doing so that they can do it too.

10. Think carefully who your target viewers are. Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced artist? Who would you like to address your tutorials to? You will have to adjust your teaching methods according to your target. My target has always been beginners…meaning, for those of you who are holding a crochet hook in your hands for the very first time. As a result, most of my tutorials will have a 5 minutes introduction, where I explain a few technicalities about the stitches and then will include extensive step by step instructions with a lot of close-ups so that everyone will know exactly where to insert their hooks. This is something some of the viewers did not understand: my tutorials are made for beginners. Some people complained that I talked 3 minutes too much at the beginning of a video tutorial. One wrote me a message once saying “Less talking, more teaching.” People want to learn how to do things for free but, sadly, they think it’s a piece of cake, and, in fact, they do not have the time nor the patience to actually learn.

11. Another thing that I noticed in viewers behavior: they will be put off by a 60 minutes video tutorial. If you split the video into more parts to make it easier to watch and follow, they will only watch the first part and only some of them will continue to the second, third or fourth part of your tutorial. Guys, some stitches need more time to be taught and you will need patience to learn them. However, many viewers will appreciate your efforts and will follow your instructions to learn. Do not forget that these are those who matter.
Since I’m talking about time, I would like to do a little experiment: take off some time of what you are doing right now. Look at your nails. Look down the floor. On the walls. Out the window. Get up and stretch a little. Go get a glass of water. Go to the bathroom. Splash your face with warm water. Look at yourself in the mirror. Feel the drops of water dribble. Think about something. Anything you would like. Wipe your face with a towel. Go back to what you were doing before. How long has it passed? 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes maybe? And yet, modern people do not have 5 minutes to listen to someone who is trying to teach them how to crochet. I know I’ve seen a lot of bad movies and I’ve been in bad relationships and that is wasted time for me that will never come back. I’ve been completely blind since the 6th of December 2013 and THAT is time I will NEVER get back.
You all know Teresa Richardson as The Crochet Geek on You Tube. She is a wonderful person, who takes away a lot of her time to teach us how to crochet. She has an interesting technique while making her videos, where she would edit parts of the tutorial in slow motion so that everyone can see and understand the steps better. I read some mean comments saying things like “Jeez, can you go slower than that?” If you go through a tutorial too fast people will complain that they didn’t have time to understand the stitch. They will not necessarily think to pause the video and practice what they have just seen, or skip forward the what they think is unnecessary talking to the part of the video they are interested in.
The idea is that good things can, sometimes, come in long packages. In case you make long tutorials, my recommendation is to split them in two-three-four parts. My older tutorials were split in up to eight parts because I didn’t have the equipment to edit them. I apologize for that. Many people will watch this videos from their tablets and many of them do not have fast broad band connections. This way you can help them avoid the buffering issue and they can also take a break between the parts. Who wants to learn will go to the second, third and forth part.
By the way, did you know that a moment is a medieval unit to measure time and in modern times it lasts 1,5 minutes? You can read more about it here.

12. Since you are making tutorials about different things, people will think you are a professionist or an authority in the field, even though you are probably someone just like them: a stay at home mom, or a grandmother, or a young woman like myself with a great passion for crocheting. They will assume you know the answers to everything. They will, sometimes, ask very difficult questions about stitches you might have never heard of before. Do not be afraid to admit that you do not know the answer. That makes you human.

13. And, as a human, do not be scared to be friendly and make jokes once in a while. You are an artist expressing yourself and not a robot. Have fun! I loved watching Mike Sellick’s crochet tutorials because he always made jokes and then giggled. He has a great attitude. I also loved watching Yolanda Soto Lopez’s tutorials as well, because she is very motherly and she make you feel like you are a friend (by the way, some viewers have also complained about her talking too much at the beginning of her videos).

14. Speak loud and clear and use proper words if you decide to tutor in English, or any other language. Many times I felt embarrassed over my “Dracula accent” , and always apologized if my English was bad. Very few complained about my English and a lot of them actually liked my accent. A few said that I should speak louder because they couldn’t hear, which is something I always found funny in a way. Doesn’t everyone have speakers attached to their PC? Try adjusting the volume level and if that is not enough, I will admit it is my fault. One woman even complained that I was breathing too loudly and that it was putting her off. She became very rude and told me I was huffing and puffing so much as if I didn’t want to make the tutorial. I never made a tutorial as an obligation, but because I loved making them.
Just so everyone knows, I’ll explain shortly how I made a tutorial. I set the camera on the tripod, I placed myself behind the camera, wrapped my arms around it and started recording. I looked into the camera’s screen to make sure my hands and the crochet project were visible the whole time, just like I said in a previous point. All the while, I had to make sure the image was focused, especially when I zoomed in and showed close-ups. Sometimes, when an outside factor would interfere with my recording, I had to redo the last steps. All this while standing up. An hour long tutorial would usually take around two and a half hours just for the recording alone. The editing, saving and uploading the tutorial on You Tube would take at least another 6 hours. Sometimes it was exhausting, but I still loved every second of it. My photo tutorials were even harder to make.
In case you did not know, a number of viewers complained about Claire’s Australian accent (from BobWilson123), when, in fact, she is another amazing lady teaching the world how to crochet.
What I mean is that people will complain about everything.

15. If you are a beginner, it might hurt you getting dislikes. I know it hurt me, until I got over it. I remember uploading my first yarn stash video, and someone immediately disliked the video. I had an absolutely wonderful stash and talked about 5 minutes about the yarn, and that person didn’t like it. I often wondered “Why wouldn’t someone like my yarn stash?” In time, I got more dislikes for my videos, even though the vast majority liked them. I simply realized that there are millions of people out there trying to learn how to crochet. You simply can’t make everyone happy. Don’t let the small things bring you down. As long as most of your viewers are happy with your work, you should be fine. If too many are complaining, than you are probably doing something wrong. Take their advice into consideration and learn from positive criticism. Ignore the mean and the bullies. There are always the ban and the report abuse buttons. If you still can’t get over it, you can always disable the likes/dislikes bar and turn off the comments. Keep in mind, though, that this will affect your videos in search results and remember that people simply like to interact and express their opinion. And, do you know what people say about opinions? Everyone’s got one. Take a look around on You Tube. You will find that even the videos with the cutest babies, puppies, kittens get tons of dislikes.

16. If possible, try finding someone to help you, especially when answering to your viewers. They might have extra questions and it is important to try and help them. Sometimes, if you have a lot of subscribers and visitors, answering to messages alone can become overwhelming. It used to take me up to three hours a day answering to questions and comments. Since I am unable to see, now I have my sister to do this for me. But, because I can hear, she reads me your messages and we come up with an answer together. Having someone support you in your venture would be fantastic.

Now, let’s get a little more social:

17. This is one big mistake I made and I hope some of you will learn from my experience. I’ve always been socially awkward. I never liked going to clubs, bars, parties, and didn’t like to hang around with many people. I never joined my flatmates when they played cards and drank to many shuts as punishment for losing, because it wasn’t my idea of fun. Instead, I would have loved to meet people with similar interests. Sadly, I didn’t think of joining a crochet club, or volunteering for an organization while I was in Bucharest, or even in Ireland, where I was so alone. If you find yourself in the same spot as I was, do not be afraid to search for a club or even start one if you can’t find any. I am sure it is one way to meet great people.

18. You can do this alone, or with members of the club, if you joined one. Try participating in handmade fairs, festivals, yarn sales, exhibitions, and so on. Talk to other people and shake hands with them during these events. Show them your work. Make yourself known and noticed. Create connections…connections…connections.

19. The tips I talked about so far are mostly about the online and the digital. How about going old school once in a while? This idea came to me back in college when I used to give away flyers for different companies. Many times I held a huge pile of flyers in my hands and told myself: “Why can’t I give away flyers promoting my own idea?” If you live in a big city, take a day off every now and then, or during your free time and give away flyers while having a walk around the city. Do you think that making a flyer is difficult? That you will need a specialist? Or that it will cost too much? Don’t be silly! Buy paper in bulk quantity, get yourself a printer, preferably one that prints in colors, and start designing something in Photoshop, Photoscape, or even in Paint. Create a design that will catch people’s eyes in such a way they will end up searching for you.

20. If I had the right support, I would have done the above a long time ago. When it comes to creativity, sometimes people’s minds have no barriers. I have always wanted to do a flash mob, or an improvisation involving crocheting. The waves you could make, when you take people by surprise…Create an artistic moment somewhere crowded. People will ask themselves:”What’s going on? Who are these people?” They will record the scene with their phones. They will take photos of you. They will post them online and talk about you. And what does this gain you? POPULARITY.
Don’t do this just once, do it 2, 3, 10 times, or as many time as it is necessary. Do it in all sorts of different places. Be creative, unusual and interesting enough to even make the news.I seriously dare you to express yourself somewhere outside your comfort zone.

There are many other things I could add, but I will stop here. I had to go to the hospital last week and caught a bloody pest of a cold and my brain is half numb at the moment. But I’ll let you know one more thing: Do not expect success to come over night, cause it won’t. You have to work hard to get there, to be committed and have patience.

As for me, the answer to the question “what would I like to do for the rest of my life?” is still pending. It depends on whether I’ll see or not again. But I would like to thank the 16k subscribers for making me feel not a total waste of space. Your support means the world to me and it has helped a lot, especially over the last year. But more about humanity not being dead in a future post.

Now, get your hooks on and Good Luck,

Catalina.

P.S. 1.: Ana will attach bellow some of the thousands of photos I took last year for my photo tutorials for coolorful.com.

P.S. 2.: What did you want to become when you were kids? I wanted to be a mom.

My Soft Spot for Crocheting and Yarn Bombing

My Soft Spot for Crocheting and Yarn Bombing

Oct 032014
 

Dear Reader,

This week I’ve been on listening to music spree. That is why I’ve been dragging the subject about crocheting for so long. But today, this post will be more to the point.

Last time I said I was invited to go to Ireland for the summer, in 2012. While staying there, I couldn’t find a job, because, well, I was basically just a tourist and couldn’t get all the legal documentation (address, bank account, bills, and the like). So, I had to find something else to do.  Seeing that my You Tube channel was growing a bit, I thought of doing different kinds of videos. I am gonna complain about something right now, and I hope I won’t upset anyone, because I have the highest respect for the famous You Tube crocheters (like Crochet Geek, Mike Sellick, BobWillson123). A lot of the crocheting that I know now I’ve learned from them. However, a lot of their tutorials missed a step, or an explanation, or something else that made things harder for me to understand at times. That is when the idea of making crochet tutorials came to my mind… Long and very explanatory tutorials, which would show viewers step by step, stitch by stitch instructions to help them. The kind of tutorials I wanted other people before me to have made when I first started crocheting.

Dear Reader, you will probably think that I am the most arrogant crocheter, saying things like the above. But I am not, really. I never thought of myself as a teacher, and I will probably never do so. When I started making my tutorials, I was just a beginner myself, who was trying to share her love for crocheting to the world. My first tutorials were sloppy, I talked too much, I got overexcited, I did not have the skills nor the equipment to edit the videos (that is why a lot of my tutorials are split in 3-7 parts). I didn’t like how my voice sounded, and so on. But I was finally putting myself out there, and more and more people became interested in my work. A month or so after, when I reached my first 10,000 views, You Tube invited me to join their partnership program. If you don’t know what that means you can find more information here. In short, it means You Tube will place ads on your videos and you get paid every time some one clicks on the ads. This is how a lot of people around the world make a living.

I won’t talk about my staying in Ireland. It is another whole story in itself. All I can say is that the dream was over in September 2012, when I had to come back home to Romania. My lifestyle was as bad as before. I continued with the lies and the loneliness and the bad habits, but never stopped hoping that one day it was going to get better. Meanwhile, my You Tube channel reached 1,000 subscribers and its first 100,000 views. As I mentioned before, Romania was not yet included in the You Tube partnership. However, sometime in April 2013, I logged on You Tube and saw the banner that said “Monetize your video, join the You Tube Program now”. At first, I thought it was a fluke, some sort of an error, but the message wasn’t going away. So, I applied and got accepted a few hours later. I had to have an AdSense account as well to get paid and this is something I did not dare to apply for. I didn’t know ,then, that Romania got accepted into the program, during that month. In the meantime, I bought a very cool domain name (coolorful.com) and joined Facebook with a page for the website.

I was invited to go back to Ireland. It was a huge risk going back, for so many reasons. But the person I was looking at in the mirror was hideous to me and every cell in my body was craving for a change. A took a plunge, and decided to go back to Ireland and start taking over the world with my crocheting art. During my stay in my home town I didn’t make any tutorials. Many viewers wrote to me and asked me when I was going to upload new videos. Some of you, guys, wrote me some incredible messages that, honestly, made me cry at times. What a great feeling it was to know that people all over the world took your work seriously, when people around you, including your family, didn’t.

While back in Ireland, I faced the same legal issues as a year before. But I was dead set to make it through my art. I got myself a new camera, I started creating patterns and learning new ones, I started making new tutorials, I learned how to edit them, I took thousands of photos and made photo tutorials as well, and I began to put this part of my life together. I went to bed early, and woke up when the alarm rang in the morning, and never allowed myself to waste another minute in bed (my sleeping is that bad). I spent up to 12 hours a day on my crochet business. It was exhausting at times, frustrating, very meticulous and loved every second of it. Sometimes I would even forget to eat, just to have a project done. I never got bored with it. There was always something new and exciting to find and do and my imagination was stirred all the time. The expected results did not fail to show. My videos views grew higher and higher each month and more and more of you, Dear Readers and Viewers, subscribed to my channel. Attached below are a photo of how my You Tube channel looked like and one showing how it looks now.

You Tube Views and Subscribers September 2013

You Tube Views and Subscribers September 2013

You Tube Views and Subscribers October 2014

You Tube Views and Subscribers October 2014

The most surprising was the growth of my site. From an unknown site that was in June, 2013, it turned into getting a little over 100 hits a day, three months later. And all genuine, organic traffic from Google, Facebook, You Tube, Pinterest and other sources. I never bought ad placement from anywhere, but I was very interested in SEO and internet marketing (I’ll talk a little more about this a bit later). In a way, college did help me, after all. It taught me how to promote myself and my business freely. Yes, the bounce rate was a little high, and the average time spent on a page wasn’t very high, but it still was a good start for a website like mine, when the competition is so high, even in the crochet circle. I don’t know if anybody knows what a joy it was to work on coolorful.com. I even created a community on my website and many of you joined the forum and started talking about crocheting an other hobbies. Attached below is a screenshot of how my baby used to look and another one with Google Analytics statistics for my website last year. Maybe, one of the things I am most proud of is when searching for the key word crochet in Google, the engine placed me 3rd in the search results, with a post on Google + (screenshot is attached below).

Google Search for Crochet

Google Search for Crochet

Lots of my Romanian fellows suggested that I make tutorials in Romanian. I took the suggestion into account and started a You Tube channel called Arta Manuala and a website artamanuala.com (it means handmade art). They were supposed to be the Romanian versions of my English crochet site and You Tube channel. They were growing nicely as well and gaining rapid popularity.

It is important not to forget to mention that I did start to monetize my work, both on my You Tube channel and my site. However, the AdSense account was not on my name, which was another stupid mistake I made. In time I set my goals even higher. The plan was to start a yarn shop on coolorful.com and get my sister involved in a crazy and fun project to travel around Romania and meet people who make a living through art. All sorts of arts. Crocheting… Knitting… Yarn coloring… Yarn making… Painting… Sculpturing… Drawing… Traditional arts… Everything artistic that involved working with your hands… We have some amazing local artisans. I dreamed of meeting these special people, taking their interviews, making short documentaries about their work, and even have them teach us how to do different things.

Do you believe my dreams stopped there? No, no, no. I never told Ana this, but my dream was to do the same all around the world and come into contact with all sorts of customs, see how people do things in different places, see what level of creativity a person’s mind can reach…I’m using a lot of the word “see”, something I’m unable to do at the moment. I believe a lot of my frustration comes from the fact that I was very close to reach the first level of that goal and make a nice living through crocheting. If done properly, the dream was going to become real around this time. Oh…there is something else that I’m forgetting…I also wanted to write a book for crochet beginners with lots of photo tutorials and patterns. I became interested in knitting and sewing on a more advanced scale.

Coolorful.com was going to become a “place” for arts and crafts, home and garden, interior design, cooking, decorating, DIY and lots more… A place where every woman, and man with these interests, could take part in.

I lost the website in December, 2013, while in the hospital and all the written instructions, and the hundreds of hours that I put into this site are now gone. At the moment, the domain is in idle mode, just like my thousands of crochet photos, just like my crochet hooks, just like my You Tube channel was about to, and just like my life is now…idle

Collection of Free Crochet Patterns and Stitches

Collection of Free Crochet Patterns and Stitches

I am unable to make video tutorials, but I still remember a lot of the crochet stitches that I made photo tutorials for. So, when time allows, my sister and I will try and put them together. It should tickle my imagination, I hope.

There is a lot more I want to say about crocheting, but the conclusion will be put aside for another time.

Thank you,

Catalina Stan.