I remember what I felt like on the first day of my senior year of high school:
I wasn't ill. I just felt like a new kid, even though I had been in attendance at the school for a year already.
My family had moved the year before, and I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but your junior year of high school is not a great time to suddenly enter an academic institution.
By junior year, people are in clubs, AP classes, cliques. They're settled. They've got tough academic years ahead of them, and--from my perspective anyway--they want to spend their free time with the people they know, and don't exactly want to take the extra time to meet newbies.
I was lucky enough to meet Corie on the first day of our junior year, and I certainly understand the value she brings to my life still today, but in a school of 2,000 students, even with a great friend who takes you under her wing, one can only meet so many additional people in a year's time.
So basically by my senior year, with Corie and I not assigned to the same lunch period, and only a small selection of acquaintances, I felt nervous the way a new kid does. And it sucked.
Well I'm finding myself in a similar situation now, here in my second (and last) year of graduate school.
Not only did I feel super self-conscious and anxious for part of last week (this has receded a bit, although anxiety loves to drop in for visits), but right now I am nervous about tomorrow.
Because I'm taking the bus, people.
I was so excited about taking the bus. Saving money by buying a semester pass, giving the Earth a little break, avoiding so many encounters with those yellow envelopes that the city likes to place on my windshield.
I've even taken the bus before. In general, and in this city before. But I haven't gone to this particular stop that I'll be going to tomorrow.
I realize this sounds ridiculous, guys. I really do.
But as I was telling Nick tonight, the bus is on a schedule. And I don't want to throw it off. You know, by asking questions about how things work.
I know what time the bus is supposed to come to the stop tomorrow, but will it be early? Late? If so, how late? Will I be sitting there for 20 extra minutes waiting, with the bus eventually coming after all, so that everything works out but not without wondering, "Where's the bus where's the bus where's the bus?" until it shows up?
And here's the other thing. Since taking the bus will not allow me to leave for home until all my duties on campus are over (not that that's different from what I would do even if I drove myself to school tomorrow), I'm packing a lunch.
I haaaate packing a lunch.
Let me repeat that:
People, I grew up on cafeteria food. I like hot food.
Plastic trays, those cards we had in middle school--that had 10 or 20 paper appendages on them that would be sliced off in a machine each day--, people behind glass shields who fill my paper boat with peas and say they're "doin' fine" when I ask them how their days are going.
I have always been more at ease with these things than with paper bags of chilled or room temperature items in Ziploc bags. On the occasions that I didn't pack my own lunch as an adolescent (if I packed one in the first place) but brought one--usually to a field trip--Mom would often leave an "XO" written in marker on the napkin, and that gave me a sense of peace in the midst of my day. But, messaged napkins aside, I still preferred and continue to prefer hot food.
If I could have lunch on a tray with an XO napkin, or just share a tray lunch with Mom (who also prefers hot food): these would obviously be options I would choose above eating a sack lunch alone. Duh. Point being--the XO napkin certainly livened up the sack lunch and brought Mom to lunch with me, it still meant I was eating something cold.
I'm trying to say that I love my mom more than I love hot food. I'm not sure I'm articulating it very well. You'll have to forgive me--I'm a little preoccupied with tomorrow's bus trip.
The problem when you get to this stage in life (i.e. grad school, working adult) is that hot food is so much more expensive than just packing a lunch. Unless you're at home during the day, but oftentimes that doesn't jive well with a campus schedule.
So to explain to you why I'm nervous about my day tomorrow is that I have to take the bus, and bring a lunch.
And I guess I feel a little bit like I'm back in my grade school days--and not in the good way (because I have several good memories of those days).
When I'm liberal with the wallet, and pay for downtown parking (or for tickets when I don't have enough, or any, cash for the meter), and expensive lunches prepared by others, and vending machine snacks, and Starbucks, then I can go to bed the night before without packing a lunch. I can leave home closer to the last minute so that I can park close to school and walk to class with just enough time to get there with a few minutes to spare, maybe with enough time to grab an americano first.
But then I look at my bank account and feel bad about myself and my decisions (I do that anyway, but...).
So I'm nervous. This is getting long so I won't go much beyond this. But I guess there is something to be said for changing up your routine and the toll it can have on your stress level. For sacrificing some independence in the name of a budget.
And for feeling homesick at age 26. Homesick for sharing meals with your family in the evenings. For that emotional safety of wearing sweats in a college cafeteria, giggling with your fellow sleep deprived friends in the middle of a Tuesday, with homework waiting until later--much later--that night, or the next.
Maybe I'll have someone to chat with while I eat my dried cranberries and Wheat Thins tomorrow. Maybe the bus driver will smile at me. Maybe I'll splurge and buy an americano.
Currently he is lying on the floor like a little angel puppy.
He also has this new thing where he doesn't always like it when I'm in the shower. He meows, sometimes he gets on his hind legs and puts his front paws on the door. (And while we're on the subject I'll tell you that he often follows me into the bathroom when I go in there anyway.)
Last night when I got out of the shower he was lying on the edge of the rug that's at the foot of it.
Um, pretty great ego boost when your animal loves you so much he doesn't want to be away from you for 20 minutes.
Well I am not the poster child for Back to School 2011.
What a ball of nerves I am! I felt so strangely self conscious yesterday, and then spent my afternoon class trying to tune out the list of assignments discussion to try and curb my anxiety.
Then today I sat through my communications law class hoping that the lectures from here on out won't contain so much discussion of violent cases.
Even though I have a lighter load this semester than I had last fall and spring, I am still so nervous I feel paralyzed at the thought of what I have to do this year--prepare a thesis (oh yeah, and pick a topic), conduct research and write a thesis, find a job.
My brother Kelly asked me on the phone yesterday, "How do you eat an elephant?"
One bite at a time.
I knew the answer. Now let's put it into practice. What?! That's not my M.O.! Freak out! Anxiety! That's what I know (and hate)!
I've been told that I've survived one year and that's the hardest part, but I am--I believe, if memory serves--so much more freaked out about Year 2 than I was Year 1.
I was nervous starting last year, yes, but I was naive concerning the amount of work that was in fact coming my way. And then I was in it, and cried a lot, yes, but just did it.
Now I have an idea of what's coming. And last year we had a lot more distance from our theses. Now I'm afraid I'm going to be pressed for a topic any week now. And then I've gotta convince three faculty members to stand behind me while I eek this thing out.
I need to focus on those basic physical needs--making out, ope, I mean food, exercise, sleep--and get tomorrow's homework done. Trustin' the Man along the way.
In the past few days I got to share water, beer, and coffee with Corie. (I was gonna say that we "clinked" all of those beverages, because we actually did with the water and the beer, but I'm not sure we clinked our coffee mugs).
Blessed, am I.
Love you, lady.
It can be a pretty terrifying thing when your best friend falls in love and gets married, because you fear that you might not see her very much anymore and that all kinds of things will change and it will be a constant emotional ride.
I am seeing now that not only is my friendship with Cor still growing (after 10 years of friendship as of last week, holla!) but I am also developing a friendship with her man, Cyle. And I can look to both of them as marriage mentors for my "someday."
Love you guys. Thanks for taking Ms. Singleton on the journey with you. <3
So I spent most of my day today with Corie and Cyle and it was fantastic.
To start the day we participated in a crowded--not--5K downtown and joked around a bunch while doing so.
Later we met up for drinks and tacos, and then went back to their place and watched episodes of Friends while sippin' some java.
Anyway, at lunch, another couple and a half couple (i.e., man, sans wife; he has a wife, she's just out of town) joined us. When we got our bills we noticed that we had been labeled with descriptive terms so our server could identify us and keep track of our orders.
Corie and Cyle were dubbed "blue couple" (Cyle, but not Corie, was wearing a blue shirt), and couple No. 2 were named "red shirts."
My name for the afternoon?:
Awesome. Granted I think Matt was called "guy," but still. Pretty funny.
But other than that, wow. I went grocery shopping (okay that was another good thing) and the rest of the day/night, aside from the cleaning, I've been sitting here watching TV/hanging out on the Internet.
It's a good thing classes are starting next week to get this butt back in gear. Until then I think we can expect some ridiculous laziness on my part.
Oh I did send an important email.
One more week, then pretty soon I'm gonna be saying, "I'm so tired! I have no time! Waaaaah"
My first reaction was: ehhhh. You know, with a whiny-type childish face that says, "I don't like this." But a little less exaggerated.
Then about 30 seconds later it grew on me. And then about a minute or two after I swallowed it I really appreciated the flavor.
But I still didn't like the idea of eating it raw again just yet. I'm gonna cook it and see how that works out for me. Maybe if I eat it enough I can get to the point where I'll crave/want to eat it raw.
I received an email that excited me greatly today. From Nick:
"last night i dreamed about your wedding. it was kind of chaotic. riley was there. and i don't think you liked who you were marrying.* also, we were in nyc... i forgot my hair gel. i got a parking ticket. and you were shopping at a thrift store.
but don't worry, the actual wedding didn't happen.**"
Now. There are several things I need clarification on, and I told him I need to hear the whole version of the dream. But it cracked me up.
*This part of the dream I do not like.
**I also don't like the idea of my wedding never happening, but if it's to someone I don't like, then I'm okay with such a turnout for this particular dream scenario.
So, what does one do when it's 3:20 a.m. and she's still awake?
Well, one option is to catch up on some blog posts.
What shall we write about at this fine hour, eh?
Ah. I could tell you about my Tour of Missouri.
It had been my plan to travel to LA around this time, to get a sufficient break between my summer class and--
deep breath oh my goodness it's about to start all over again--
the fall semester.
I needed not only a break in mere days off, but also a mental break. And not just a sorta break. A real break.
And the beach--with its monotonous waves that curl and slosh, then kind of sizzle after they finish their crest and turn into foamy crawlers that halfheartedly race up the shore,
and its sand, that sticks to your wet skin (and yes, I love that, and no it does not annoy or make me frustrated that things are not perfectly clean and granule-free),
and its sun, that slowly warms you after you've been in the surf, then gradually returns you back to a temperature that eventually requires another dip in the tide
--that beach has been known to give me quite the mental break.
But I decided at some point along the way that such a trip would require dollars that perhaps I should not--or don't even necessarily have, to--spend.
So I'm hanging out in MO. The affordable, quite toasty alternative.
Last week I drove to Branson, and enjoyed the lush trees covering huge hills, as I patted my dashboard and encouraged my little car to make it to the top of each climb. I spent about 72 hours with three people who I've known a very long time, and one who is newer to my life, makes my girl Corie quite happy, and does a hilarious Forrest Gump impression to boot.
For two days we took the boat out on the lake, anchored, jumped in with life jackets (worn stylishly as "diapers"), and enjoyed Bud Light and Amber Bock in the water. We held onto a rope that was attached to the boat so we wouldn't drift. Positioned in our infantile outfits, with our juvenile tethering devices, our conversations drifted between adult ones and "Beer me!" whenever someone ventured briefly back onto the boat.
Then a fresh Bud would sail out, plop in the water, and one would refresh his or her coozie.
Pretty fantastic alternative to the beach if you gotta skip the beach.
Tomorrow I'm leaving for "the cape," Cape Girardeau, to see some other peeps I love. I plan to be spoiled, take it easy, and uh...yep that covers it.
The last time I was there was for the wedding of the couple who I'll be visiting, and while I was there for only a short time I recall the Mississippi looked lovely right before their ceremony, so I'm planning on enjoying some more natural
beauty this weekend. And also looking forward to the drive.
In the meantime I need to get some rest. But my bod's not having that yet. I really was sleeping at a closer-to-normal hour as of late, but a late morning, no workout and a fair amount of caffeine today--plus excitement for my vacay, duh!--is probably not a great recipe for zzzz's.
But the book I'm reading could make me one, at least temporarily. Never mind that it's about the early 1900s, when typhoid was more or less rampant, depending, and still a mystery to health professionals even.
'Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical' by Anthony Bourdain (shout out to Erica for introducing me) shows off the great writing skills of an also talented and accomplished chef. I'm impressed with and amused by his writing, and the story's interesting to boot. Holler.
And Cylas, I believe this post will be dedicated to you--the man who doesn't like to eat using another's fork.