Saturday, November 29, 2014

The many stages of an unintentional almost-all nighter when you're a grown up

Around 2 a.m. today, I awoke.

Though I've been having bad dreams lately, which have been waking me up, I don't recall having one last night. But alas, I was awake around 2-ish.

After just a few minutes of lying there, I decided I was anxious enough for it to not make sense for me to lie there with the lights off. After years of anxious insomnia, I know -- the way a migraine sufferer knows the difference between a basic headache and a migraine -- when my anxiety will pass and I will soon fall back asleep versus when I might as well turn on the light and distract my brain for a while.

So light on it was.

I read for a little bit (from this great book I'm reading call "The Short Bus"), then got on the Internet and listened to Christmas music and played Hearts on my PC.

I did try and get some shut eye around 4, but then finally gave in around 4:30 and turned the big overhead lights on -- not just the little futon-side lamp -- and fired up the coffee pot.

I don't know what you all do when you can't sleep, but I went ahead and painted some empty mushroom boxes I have, to make some cutesy drawer organizers.

I added a coat of polish to my toenails. Emailed a friend. Sneezed a lot -- allergies. Blogged.

I wanted it to be closer to a normal getting-up(-on-a-Saturday) time so that I could clean my filthy apartment and not be that neighbor who stomps around as she picks up tissues and shoes and does the dishes while normal people are sleeping.

I was in the workout room at my apartment complex around 7, watching The Nanny and Young and Hungry and Dolphin Tale. I did 60 minutes of cardio, split in thirds: 20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 on the treadmill, 20 on the bike.

Right not it's nearing 5 p.m. It could easily be 8 or 9 according to my body's rhythm right now.

At some point -- probably around 8:30 -- I started to reminisce about this one extremely productive day I had in high school, around Christmastime. (My memory may be lacing more than one day together, since high school was a while ago, however I do know that my energy level as a 14 year old was such that it could withstand all the activities that my memory thinks I once did all in one day. I was an energetic, hyper little thing. If you can imagine.)

On this day/weekend/group of days strung together in my memory, I did homework (we were studying the Reformation in history class). I cleaned my room. I helped count candies to assemble a guessing jar for my mom's work. I think other things were done. And at the end of the day, a couple of holiday items were dug out of storage (this was one of the years we had moved, so I was extra giddy to happen upon them -- not everything was taken out of storage every year when we moved). These items were:

The family Julie Andrews Christmas CD -- from that year forward it would become my Julie Andrews Christmas CD, as it was voiced by the family that they weren't the biggest fans of Lady Andrews' musical stylings --


my Christmas troll dolls (I collected troll dolls and had quite a few Christmas ones specifically, let alone those representing other holidays and sporting random costumes like a pizza chef outfit).

I remember just being blissed out at the end of the day, listening to my Julie jams, arranging the trollies on the bookshelves, enjoying the fruits of my labors: a clean bedroom and a worry-free Sunday ahead of me, what with the homework done.

I had reached a point of fitting in at school and wasn't quite as homesick -- certainly I was past the debilitating stage of homesickness -- for my previous town of residence, but it was comforting to have the sounds and decorations that had been a part of previous homes around me. The town we were living in at the time was alien to young me -- more liberal politics than I was used to, classmates who were vocal in those politics, streets with a more urban feel than I was used to -- and suddenly with Julie and the trolls I felt a little more like my old self.

All that to say that today I was remembering that go get 'em day back in 1999 and I had these grand visions of doing the same thing myself, today.

I was eating "lunch" at 10 a.m. I washed clothing, towels, sheets, and floor rugs today. I even washed the shower liner. Boom.

I was doing it. One thing after the other. Energizer Bunny.

And then I hit a wall.

If I had to name the wall, it would be called "Whoa." As in "Whoa. You weren't sure you could act like a 14 year old and you were right." And then I had a shot added to my drink at Starbucks.

Then I took a break and watched TV -- considered a nap, but those are few and far between in my life so I don't usually bother. Got back up and got back to it.

I had some moments of, shall we simply call them: emotions. Feeling extra worried, depressed. I reminded myself every time that I was uber sleep deprived. I was thankful more than once for a prescription drug I'm on that made this day far less depressing and anxiety-ridden as one like this would have been in the past.

I decorated for Christmas today. I Skyped with the brother. The sheets and towels are folded (though admittedly not put away). There is one more load of laundry that could be done, but Guys, I don't think I can do it.

I'm exhausted. I'm about two steps away from ordering a pizza, but I need to go to my car to get my credit card, which is about 300 (?) steps away.

I've hit the Whoa Wall again.

OK. Here we go. To the car. Pizza time. Then bedtime.

Because Whoa.


Can't sleep and can't get coffee (read on to find out why) so I'm typing this -- Lucky for YOU

Can't sleep.

Finally put the coffee on around 4:30.

It's 4:44 now.

I set up my cross stitch while the coffee was brewing, and the cat came and put himself on both my cross stitch and my legs. So I am pinned (by, arguably, one of the better things to be pinned) and can neither cross stitch nor gather coffee, so I might as well blog, yes?

Anyone else having stressful dreams? Anyone else ever found a correlation between vitamin B12 and stressful dreams? I have no idea if the correlation holds water, but I don't know what else could be causing such consistently anxious dream topics. I am stressed, I think, and have been grinding my teeth during the daytime, but never before in my life do I recall waking up several nights a week from a dream so vividly stressful or scary that I believe my body is waking itself up to escape the dream.

So on that positive note.

Maybe time for a gratitude list, eh?

Grateful for...

1. The kitty putting weight upon my legs this moment
2. Some great books I'm reading -- at least two are fighting for my attention of late
3. Making progress on my reading list of 100 kids books
4. Allergy medicine
5. A pet who does not require the outdoors for his bathroom activities, and
6. A climate which would not freeze my arse off should I need to take my pet outdoors for his bathroom activities
7. A brother who has been a mentor to me, who turns 35 today
8. Mizzou win! Headed to the SEC championship!
9. Made some new friends yesterday
10. Hair is getting longer. Excited by this.

So I've watched two Charlie Brown holiday films, two Home Alone movies, and the Muppet Christmas Carol thus far this season. Still need to watch Miracle on 34th Street, The Holiday, THE SANTA CLAUSE, (Whoops, how'd the Caps Lock get on for that entry? Oh wait I meant to highlight it because it's GREAT), The Family Stone, and of course:

The Julie Andrews/John Denver Christmas Special.


This blog post is thrilling, if I do say so myself. If I were reading it, I would recommend this blog to a friend.

"Bookmark it," I would say, because I live in a flip phone world where people still bookmark things on their computers.

I'm not gonna lie, Guys, I want some coffee.

Oh, but the kitty widdy baby has now laid his head down, and he's extra cozy and fuzzy and happy and precious HOW COULD I EVER INTERRUPT HIM?!?!

Have you heard about all the research of a weight atop a person or animal calming anxiety in both species? It's true, and I think that's fascinating. I truly love the weight of Max on my legs right now. One of my top feelings in life is to have a cat atop me.

Kitties. Kitties kitties kitties.

So I didn't go shopping for Black Friday. I never do, except maybe to grab a Starbucks drinkie.

I did go to a bar to watch the Mizzou game and made myself some new friends.

So maybe I did go "shopping" for a burger and fries, and some beers?

I didn't have to get to the bar at midnight, so that was appreciated on my part. In fact I didn't show up until almost halftime, which was probably a good life choice because we actually decided to pull out a win in the second half, whereas when I arrived the score was 3 to 14, with us claiming the "3."

OK. I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do with the cat (though it will break my heart, I may stealthily slither my legs out from underneath him), but I have decided to stop typing for a bit.

Yay, it's 5:04! Getting closer to other people being awake! So I can clean my apartment and not have a neighbor pound on the door to ask my why in the world am I stomping around, dancing to Justin Bieber's Christmas album, washing dishes and carrying on?


Thursday, November 27, 2014

This is what the 20-something Thanksgiving looks like

Full disclosure: I am severely lacking in calories in my body and feel a little bit sickly and if I don't eat soon this could look like depression and a headache.


I started my day in bed with the cat. Smooched on him a lot.

Then got up and put the coffee on.


Shaved the leggies.

Poured coffee, naked.

Danced to Tegan and Sara a little.

Put on jeans and a bra.

(Getting dressed in stages).

Added whipped cream to the coffee.

(Dressing the coffee in stages, too).

Danced to Tegan and Sara some more.

Drank some coffee.

Added some whip.

Still dancing as I type this.


EAT. Not TG food, but eggs or something, so I don't get depressed or sickly or in need of Advil.

Then to meet my friend Scott, to hang out at the beach and watch Christmas movies.

Then to my friend Abby's home for din din.

Then, presumably, in the car to rock out to Julie Andrews Christmas music.

Then back home to smooch on the cat.

Xoxox Be safe out there, y'all. I'll soak up the sun for those of you in cold places.....

Friday, November 14, 2014

You can do it!!

I wrote the following months ago. Recently stumbled upon it in my drafts folder. Just a little encouragement for the students in our world and for those eeking it out in the professional world. Chin up, my sweets!

This post might seem like it's coming out of left field, and probably a lot of what I write and/or talk about falls in that category.

It also might stem from the fact that I just edited a paper for a friend of mine who is currently getting her college on, in other words who is currently in college.

This got me thinking about school, and how I've been in school, you've been in school, some of us go to school longer than others, some of us hate it more than others, some of us would like to kiss school on the cheeks and thus seek after Ph.D.'s and such.

And I got the urge to be encouraging to the whole lot of us, in our schooling adventures and our other life endeavors.

I guess there are some main things I want to say, and they apply to school and whatever else you're working on right now that occasionally - or always - makes you feel like a cranky camper who wants to turn on bad television and call your friends to whine and cry more often than it makes you feel like, "Yes! I am accomplishing something! The fruits of my labor are clearly presented before me and I must eat bon-bons to celebrate! Also, today is a good day to buy a Lamborghini, I think."

Tip/Thought #1:

Don't buy a Lamborghini. Unless you can afford one and you really, really want one.

Tip/Thought #2: 

In that same vein, do reward yourself. Sometimes you will feel insanely pathetic with how much you have to carrot yourself along to do the tiniest, babiest of steps in your school/career/etc. journey, but by all means do it. Dangle the most ridiculous carrot in front of you, 100 times a day (I'm not entirely exaggerating here, regarding some days of this life) if you have to, if it helps you to get something done. Example: "If I read to the bottom of this page in this text book, I can watch one video on Ellen's YouTube page."

More pathetic example: "I can clip my fingernails once I write this paragraph." (Personally I get very distracted by my nails while doing anything that takes effort, so this one applies to me quite a bit. Also I like to keep my nails super short, so when I see any white at the tips my brain goes into "Clip clip clip those nails" mode and doesn't quickly exit this mode.)

Tip/Thought #3:

It really is




Really. I started telling myself this at least as early as my freshman year of college, and I still have to tell myself this. I don't always listen, but I still repeat it to myself. No doubt I will be doing this for the rest of my life. And that's OK. It's OK to repeat the same things to yourself (if they are helpful and true and build you up). It's not a sign of failure if you have to tell yourself yet again to take things one step at a time. It doesn't mean, since you told yourself the same thing in 1993, that because you are telling yourself that same thing again in 2014 that you are somehow dense, or an idiot who can't learn things. No. Let 1993 mind its own 1993 business. This is 2014. February 9th in 2014 and we are dealing with 4:37 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2014 right now, thank you very much. Feb. 10th? We will see you tomorrow. Until then, please leave us alone.

The reason I have to continue to tell myself that I need to take things one step at a time is because, while I know the whole one-step practice to be effective and realistic, my brain will almost always jump to let's-think-about-everything-all-at-once-far-far-into-the-future-all-encompassing mode no matter what the circumstances. Wisdom gained is no matter when it comes to (some of) our brain's hard wiring.

I could wake up every day and think, "Hmm, I bet I'd look interesting as a brunette," but I'm still blonde. I can dye my hair brown.

It will grow back blonde.

I can think, "Wow, I wish I was more mellow, and didn't think of everything all at once" (and one of my BIGGEST jealousies is of people who are neither crazy happy nor depressed, but just mild mannered, calm and content, moving at a steady, productive, peaceful pace). I can think this every day.

My mind still races.

This sucks. Some days I deal with this better than others. But it's my hard wiring; I can't mechanically change it.*

*Note since writing the above months ago: a particular new medication helps with this a lot.

In the example of school, Friends, how many moments have I had where I thought, "This is too much, I am so tired, the rest of these people are smarter and more energetic than me [etc.]"?

Here's the thing: there's a reason a college degree is set up to be completed in four years, a graduate degree in two. A Ph.D. program? Indefinite. Well, sort of. They give you a lot of time to finish those suckers, because they take a lot of work.

All of it takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, which is why it's spread out.

There was one day in graduate school where I left class and went to Target to buy Spaghettios and cried and called my friend, feeling defeated and having received advice that I thought was obvious and made me feel misunderstood.

I remember vividly - even which cafeteria table I was sitting at - getting nervous about a presentation I would have to give on Native Americans. I was in 7th grade. I think it was the first day of school, and the presentation had only just been mentioned. It's not like it was due the next day, yet it was getting in the way of my lunchtime enjoyment, and no one's lunchtime enjoyment should be interrupted at the tender age of 12.

I remember thinking at that middle school lunch table: "Think about what you did in 6th grade. You did presentations then. You can do this, too."

OK I'm rambling.

I meant to give you advice on taking things one step at a time.

So you have that moment where you're in the Target parking lot, crying with your Spaghettios. You with me? If you're not exactly there, put yourself in a similar moment in your mind - perhaps with Twizzlers on your back porch. You're somewhere and you're freaked out about moving forward and ever finishing this damn degree.

Here's what you're gonna do: You're gonna eat the Twizzlers, the Spaghettios, what have you, you're gonna cry, you're gonna call that friend.

Then you're going to either:

a) nap, or go to sleep for the evening, or
b) sit down and start that next assignment. The very next thing, what is most pressing. Can't figure out what's most pressing? Start with one of the most pressing things.

You have sociology class in the morning? You're going to get out your sociology syllabus. It might make you feel actually depressed just looking at it. Keep moving. Turn the pages, find the correct date. It looks here our reading assignment is Chapter 2.

Get out your book. Read Chapter 2.

You might actually cry while reading, because you're not done feeling defeated and sorry for yourself and terrified at the thought that is very real to you in that moment: the thought that you may not finish your degree.

If you take it one step at a time, you probably will finish your degree.

Finish reading Chapter 2, finish anything else that needs to be done by 8 a.m. the next day, and then go to bed. Binge on YouTube videos for an hour first if you need to wind down, then go to bed.

Don't forget to set your alarm clock.

Next day? I've got news for you, you might be a little cranky. Here's what you're going to do:

Get coffee, get some mini-donuts (these were my personal favorite during Research Methods class circa 2011).

Now get to class.

Sit down, wait about 5 seconds. Someone near you will either roll their eyes to express their non-excitement at being in class. Or, even better, someone will crack a joke. You and others around you will laugh. Your professor will come in, you will take notes, and before you know it you will be outside on the quad, talking about something easy with a friend and not feeling that horrible about life and school.

And guess what?

You've moved one step forward. You did the assignment. You went to class. That's more like two steps, actually. Or ten, if we're counting in taking a shower, getting coffee, eating mini donuts, etc.

I'm taking three years to get my point across here, but I can hardly express to you how serious I am when I tell you that sometimes all that is required to get you to move forward in a moment are those mini-donuts and the tiny little smile or joke from your pal sitting next to you in class.

This world is big, and our goals are big, and our thoughts put huge pressure on ourselves, but it is small steps and small moments and small laughs that keep us sane amidst the big thoughts and the big goals in the big world.

Tip/Thought #4:

Americans are workaholics, and in my opinion that is not all that great. In fact, it's pretty terrible.

I could really get into this, but I won't right now. But I will say that the standards our society sets for us, and the pressure we put on ourselves, are unnatural, exhausting, and detrimental - by and large.

Keep that in mind as you do your work/school work/dream-chasing.

Yes, hard work is necessary, and worth it, but not worth the cost of losing a realistic understanding of your self worth, your value, and your limitations.

Regarding the limitations: it's OK to have them. I am convinced there are people in this world who can get a ton done during one lifetime because of talent, smarts, sometimes money, and also this: they don't need that much sleep.

I need sleep. I prefer not to think of this as a limitation but rather as a built-in human setting. But in terms of me being President of the US of A? Then yes, my need for average amounts of sleep is going to act as a limitation for me becoming the President. I would quit far too early in the journey toward the White House because there are not enough Starbucks stores in the world. For some, maybe there are enough Starbucks. Let them be President. You be whoever you are. Some days this is going to be the hardest thing you have to swallow. Other days you will swim along in happiness, feeling you are on the right track, getting compliments from your peers.

Other days you will be clinging to mini-donuts and your amusing, sarcastic peer like they're all you have.

It's OK.

Because we are taking one day at a time.

Tip/Thought #5:

School will end. You will accomplish. You will be able to do things that you don't think you can do.

Whether school is the route for you, or working your arse off in a field that doesn't require a college degree is the route for you, you will move forward if you keep taking baby steps.

I'm telling you this as much as I'm telling myself. Almost weekly at work I have to tell myself to stop thinking about the project that starts in three months and take care of the meeting that is the next morning. This is a constant battle, but you need to keep in mind that certain battles will end, and when you look back on them,

1) They won't look as hard as they were before you started them.
2) They will teach you that you can fight another, different battle.

And as you look forward you must remind yourself:

I will fight the next battle one step at a time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


If anyone is wondering why I cling to my hermit hobbies, consider this:

We have entered the season called October-November-December, which includes lots of holidays and lots of office parties and friend parties and family get togethers. Also work does not stop during this time.

It is me against my inbox, my voicemail, and coworker walk-ins with requests for favors and such at the office right now.

I am fighting fang and claw to find a cat sitter for my sweet Max so that I can go home for Christmas. This is proving to be a difficult task and a, well, task all its own.
Every morning I want to stay in bed, because enough sleep is not exactly a reality right now. Meanwhile I'm having anxiety-ridden dreams that are waking me up and are not helping my general mood, or sleep cycle. Arguments? Cancer? Yes, these and other uplifting items are the content of my dreams these nights.

Scheduling things like massages and exercising and the cooking of vegetables -- all of which could reduce stress and fatigue -- is stressful in itself, during this busy season.

Anyway, whine.

Last year I was in a similar boat, but was also training for a race, attending football "watch" parties with my graduate school alumni, and going to other social activities.

So this year, I learned my lesson and am not training for a race, have not been to a single watch party. But even while putting my foot down and not agreeing to extra activities, I am still exhausted and grumpy.

So if you're wondering why I stay home to cross stitch and pet the cat and read and go to bed at 9, that's why. Hermit hobbies aren't all bad, friends. Unless they're getting you depressed, which they are trying to do to me. Which is why occasionally I get off my arse to go hang out in the work out room and watch the Disney Channel. Oh yeah, and work out. Which is what I managed to do last night. Got in an elliptical session while watching a Tinker Bell movie. Which was actually quite entertaining.

And Tinker Bell's hair!! Those bangs! That topknot! Get it, girl!