Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jack Frost Nose

Apparently one of my students thinks that I look like this character:


 Let's compare:

 You know, I definitely see it.

 But nothing looks more like me than this:

On Not Sleeping


I dont sleep. Ever.

While technically that's not true, it's definitely how I've felt in the last few months.

Sleep was never a huge part of my life. I stayed up late as a child, but didn't seem to need the extra rest. As a teenager, I found that chatting on the phone and staying up to do all the school work I had to do won out over being well rested. College earned me some real sleep, but I was still usually an early riser. Throughout high school and college, my sleep was constantly delayed because late at night was often the only time we could find to chat during our long distance relationship.

Sleep problems started my senior year of college. The mixture of the boy and I breaking up, being in a terrible dysfunctional relationship, and having to deal with the impending doom of the real world lead to sleep anxiety.  I was having intimate relationships with Tylenol PM, Tylenol Simply Sleep, and NyQuil.  (Seriously, one week my roomie and I went through an entire bottle of NyQuil.  Not healthy or normal.)

When he and I split, the one thing I was looking forward to was the idea of getting a full night's rest.  He kept wonky hours and was frequently up until about 4am.  Combine his late hours with my light sleeping and anxiety about getting up for work, and it lead to a lot of sleepless nights and arguments.  The one thing I could relish was that I would finally get a whole night of uninterrupted sleep.  Even though I have always slept a little bit better with someone else in the room, I figured that consecutive hours of sleep would outweigh hearing someone next to me.

Such wishful thinking.

The first few nights of drugging myself helped, but I'm fairly certain that I didn't sleep during the entire month of August, save when I was listening to the Pacific Ocean crashing outside the window.

Sleep tends to allude me.  I get tired and want to sleep, but then as soon as I lay down, my mind starts racing.  I know all of the tricks.  Count backwards.  Count sheep.  Breathe in and out to counts of eight.  Say your prayers.  Turn the pillow.  Change sides of the bed.  Keep it cool.

I have taken every precaution.  I don't drink caffeine.  I don't keep a clock in my room.  I don't use electronics after 9pm.  I don't nap so I'll be tired in the evening.  I drink Trader Joe's well rested tea and Neuro Sleep.

Sometimes these things help me.  I get that wonderful drowsy feeling, and every now and again, I fall asleep.  But more often than not, I'm up far too late hoping and praying that sleep will come.

Sometimes I fall asleep, only to wake up absurdly early unable to keep sleeping, even when I'm tired.  (This actually leads to productivity--once I cleaned all the bathrooms in our apartment.)

The worst part of not sleeping is trying to explain sleeplessness to people who don't have it.  I stare enviously at people who fall asleep on the couch and can stay there.  I aspire to be the person who naps for a bit on a Saturday afternoon.  I want to sleep.  Sleep just doesn't want me.

People told me that that sleep would get better, that I was just adjusting to him moving out, that it would pass and everything would go back to normal.  It's been about six months, and I'm still in a position where sleep escapes me.  Sometimes, it seems to get better.  Other times, I feel like it is square one.

I'm hoping to just start exhausting myself so I pass out.  Another marathon, anyone?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things I Miss: Feeling Loved

I was someone's girlfriend for the better part of ten years.  Some of my friends never knew me before I had a boyfriend.  I have clear memories of NOT dating him, but at some point he just became a fixture in my life as much as anything else that is part of your daily landscape.

It's been about six months since he's moved out, and about a year since we started this whole process.  (Word to the wise--although breaking up over a period of 7 months gives you a lot of time to adjust, it also DRAGS the process out.  That said--I'd do it again.  It certainly gave us time to work on our newfound roles in one another's lives.)  Some parts of the transition were easy.  He and I always had separate lives--our own friends, hobbies, interests--so that didn't change.  Some haven't been.  Despite the fact that it's been six months, some habits are hard to shake, and as much as I'm enjoying my suddenly (or really, not quite so suddenly) single status, there are things that I miss.

I miss the unconditional love.  Now, hear me out.  We fought.  A lot.  Some couples had mutual interests.  Ours was arguing.  We were professionals.  They would go on for hours, leading us both into sleepless nights and unintentional exhaustion.  Usually they were about seemingly innocuous things.  (Seriously.  Once we had an argument about a tortilla.  No, I am not kidding.)  We would argue, but at the end of the day, we always resolved our problems.  We had, or rather, I had a "don't go to bed angry rule" which meant that no matter how bad the argument was, we always got over it before bed.  Usually by the end, we both realized we were being ridiculous or irrational, and we could laugh about it.  While I don't miss the arguing, I do miss knowing that no matter how bad the arguments got, he still loved me.  That no matter how upset I was, or how angry he was, we would fall asleep in each other's arms, whispering "I love you."  Whether it was my best self, my worst self, or something in between, he was going to love me and laugh with me and be there for me.  Since we've split, I find myself censoring myself around my friends and family.  I can't be as upset as I want to be--or angry or silly or happy for that matter--because there isn't that guaranteed promise of love and acceptance.*  He loved me when I was sick, when I was cranky, when I was being ridiculous and silly.  I knew that I could (and still can) go to him regardless of the state I'm in.  Maybe I should have been on my best behavior more often, but sometimes it's nice not to be "on."  There was a safety that existed between us, even in those horrible moments.  We knew we'd get through it, and be forgiven, and move forward.

Our relationship was never easy by nature.  In fact, I think we had to work far too hard to coexist, which may be the reason we're not together anymore.  But even still, there is an ease and familiarity that comes with dating someone long distance for the better part of five years and then living with them.  You learn how to circumnavigate the difficult parts.  You develop patterns and routines.  You know how conversations are going to go before you have them.  Even now, when there is tension and difficult between us, there is also an ease.  An ease of knowing that it's ok to be honest, an ease of knowing that you can shoot down the suggested dinner location, and ease of fitting together when you hug goodbye.

This part of my life is new, and I'm excited to see what happens next, but sometimes, I miss the ease.

*I have amazing friends who are there for me in every way a girl could ever dream of.  This is by no means a criticism so much as just learning how to navigate these new waters for me.  My friends have seen my cranky side too.  Lucky them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

(A Third of) my 30 before 30

I am 27 years old.

Sometimes, 27 makes me feel very old.  I live in a fancy-ish apartment,  have a completely stocked kitchen,  cook real "family" meals at least three times a week, and go on fun and frivolous vacations a few times a year.   I drive and insure my own vehicle, completely support myself financially, and have lived outside of my parents' home for over four years.  I have a master's degree, an established "career", and family obligations.  I have my own color scheme for my living room, and the thing that makes me feel most like an adult -- I have my own Holiday decorations that could not be more different than my mother's.

While 27 isn't old, I spent most of my time with younger people.  One of the weirdest things about teaching is that the kids stay the same age (tenth graders are always about 15!), but you keep getting older.  When I started teaching, I was about five years older than my students.  Now I'm about ten years older than my students.  (It's a wee bit disorienting!)  My friends tend to be younger, even if only by a year.  And while I understand that there is very little difference between 26 and 27, being just that much older (and being reminded of it CONSTANTLY) is enough to freak me out.

I have gray hairs and use wrinkle creams nightly.  I put an absurd amount of money into my 403(b) so I will have enough to retire (only 28 years of teaching left!).  I am now much closer to 30 than I am to 20, and all of my friends can legally drink.

I like being 27.  It means that I have money and can do what I want, and I don't have to worry about the anxiety that comes with being a new college graduate.  I do legitimately feel like a real grown up (most of the time.  Kind of.)

But, as 27 eeks closer to 30, I've realized that I have some things I'd like to do.  I'm not really scared of 30, so much as it's a nice artificial measuring tool.

So, without further ado, (half of) my 30 before 30

1. Go to South America
I had the great pleasure of getting to live in England with one of my best friends for four months.  We had what we call our "great European Honeymoon" and traveled all over Europe.  While I'd like to go back to Europe, I'd also like to go to South America.  From everything I've heard and seen, it's wonderful.  Easily doable

2.  Go ziplining.
This just seems like fun.  Potentially something to do in South America?

3.  Go Sky Diving.
Yes, I have a fear of heights.  Yes, I realize that I will be throwing myself out of a plane and toward the ground.  Which is hard.  And I have a poor sense of direction.  Still, seems like fun.  Tentative date:  This Spring!

4.  Finish a marathon in under five hours.
I've run three marathons.  I finished them all in OVER five hours.  I'm fine with my finishing times, especially for the last two, where I REALLY didn't train.  I think that if I did train, I would actually have a decent finishing time.  So, despite the fact that I said after I ran the NYC marathon this year that I would NEVER do it again, I'm going to do it again.  Preferably in New York.

5.  Learn how to apply eye make up.
I don't wear a lot of make up.  In fact, I don't really wear make up ever.  I never got into putting it on in high school where it seems like everyone else is.  Then I started dating a boy who despised make up, and thought I was much prettier without it.  (maybe all the wrinkle creams helped?).  Because of this, I never really learned how to apply it.  I can put eye shadow and mascara on, but no matter what colors or what techniques I use, I always look the same.  I'd like to learn how to put on eye liner, make a smoky eye, and make my eyes look bigger.  Definitely doable.

6.  Learn how to blow dry my hair
I have naturally curly hair.  And, in the infinite wisdom that comes with being the ripe old age of 27, I've learned to accept the texture and color of my hair.  I prefer my hair curly.  I think it curly nicely and gives definition to my face.  The men in my life prefer my hair curly.  As a result of this, I've just rocked the curls for the last thirteen or so years.  However, there is something to be said about the drama of the change up.  When I had my hair blown out last year for the first time in about four years, people were speechless.  It's nice to change things up.  But paying $80 for a blow out just isn't worth it.  So, I'd like to learn how to blow dry my hair.  It seems like a necessary life skill.

7. Learn American Sign Language.
Y'all, I'm the language learning slacker here.  Two of my roommates are fluent in two different languages.  I grew up in a neighborhood where a number of my peers were bilingual because their families were.  The only language that every really stuck in my brain was American Sign Language.  I started signing when I was ten because I read a book about Helen Keller, and all of that has stayed with me.  ASL would be a super helpful to in the classroom and for my career, and honestly, I just find it interesting.  So, before I'm 30, I'd like to become proficient at ASL.

8.  Make a "Turducken".
Part of my feeling like a grown up comes from learning to cook.  Despite the fact that my great-grandfather was a renowned chef and my great grandmother was an amazing cook, no one in my immediate family cooks.  We had family dinners every night growing up, but it was largely really simple things or things out of boxes.  In my mind, there's no "Mom's meatloaf" or "Grandma's pie."  When I started living on my own, I started making things from scratch, and realized that it really wasn't all that difficult.  I've added a lot of recipes to my repetoire, and I really like seeing what I can do.  But a turducken is legit.  That means I will have graduated from "Yeah, ok, this isn't that bad" to "OMG, there are THREE BIRDS in there!"

9.  Make a "large" purchase.
I rent.  And I bought my car outright for less than $6000 when I was in college.  I've never made a "big purchase."  It's one of the things that keeps me from feeling like a grown up.  At some point in the next three years, I'd like to make a big purchase.  Whether it's a car, a home, a horse, or a really fancy piece of jewelery, I'd like to make a "big purchase" of my own.

10.  Take ballroom dancing classes.
I came of age in the time of Dawson's Creek.  And any of y'all the watched Dawson's know that Pacey and Joey's first romantic inklings came from when they took ballroom dancing courses together so Joey could get a scholarship that didn't exist.  And the night that episode aired, I asked my now ex boyfriend to take ballroom classes with me.  And as a thirteen year old boy, he agreed!  When we start dating about four years later, we joked about going for these lessons.  In the ten years we dated, we never took those lessons.  I did take lessons at my women's college with one of my friends, and we had a grand old time, but I learned how to lead.  I'd like to take them.  Where I could learn how to dance the girl parts.  You never know when you're going to need to waltz!

So, here you have a third of my 30 before 30!  Do any of you have goals like this?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reflecting on the year of "Why Not?"

I've never been big on resolutions.  Sure, I make New Year's resolutions, like every other person in the world, but I've never been great about keeping them.  Something about lifestyle change in January is hard to make a reality.

Last January, however, I decided that 2011 was the year of "Why not?"

Allow me to explain.  2010 had been a fairly crappy year for me.  Mostly, my father's illness had clouded most of it, and right as things were starting to look up, he died.  And that same week I got a UTI which subsequently turned into a kidney infection.  My life was AWESOME.  I had spent a lot of 2010 with my mother and my father, never straying far from home in case one of them needed me.  I'm glad I had that time with my family, but it was not the fun life of a twenty-six year old.  I had started to become preoccupied with the idea of getting married, and watching my friends slowly get engaged while I was inching out the last of my full strength Cipro was just a little more than I could handle.

One of the parenting blogs I read (Yes.  I read parenting blogs for fun.  No, I don't have any children.) said that Robert Pattinson was making 2011 the year of "Why not?"  And "Why not?" sounded awesome to me.  Add to the fact that 2011 was the year of my five year college reunion, and we had ourselves a plan.

Let me tell you, the year of "Why not?" was AWESOME.  it applied to every part of my life.  "Why not?" made me start living more and stop just sitting around.  "Why not?" made me do things I wouldn't normally have done.  Stay out for an extra beer?  Why not?  Dinner in midtown on a Wednesday?  Why not?  Cruise to the Bahamas?  Why not?  Snowboarding even though you'll probably just fall on your tush?  Sure, why not?

The year of "Why not?" included three vacations (including a cruise to the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean.  Their motto is "Why not?"!), three weekend trips, making new friends, reintroducing drinking back into my life, learning how to cook, my much anticipated and amazing five year college reunion, and a week of celebrating my birthday!  The year of "Why not?" made me unafraid to try new things, even if they failed.  It made me take back my life as a twenty-six year old and start doing the things I wanted to do.  The year of "Why not?" gave me the courage to remember that I was young and had every right to be happy in all aspects of my life.

2011 was awesome for me.  Not because it was all peaches and unicorns, but because it helped me remember the seventeen year old girl that I was ten years ago, and just how much she wanted from life.  It helped me to remember that I was not defined by my relationship or by my job, but by the things that I did and wanted.

Even though 2012 has its own motto, I still find myself asking, "Why not?"

And if there isn't a good reason not to, I just do it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Resolutions Start Tomorrow

New Year's Eve is my favorite holiday. It is a day of new beginnings, fresh starts, and leaving bad things behind (at least in theory.). New Year's Eve is a holiday with almost no obligation--you can spend it with the people you choose, not the family you were born into. There is no wrong way to celebrate, and you can do whatever you see fit. It is all about fun. Tere are no presents to buy or great aunts whose questions you need to artfully avoid. It is a young person's dream. It is a great day, and up until this year, it was also my anniversary.

January 1st, 2012 would have been our ten year anniversary. I started dating my long term boyfriend on what was technically New Year's Day in 2002. In the middle of the night, he came to my house and joined in on the party that was going on. We kissed in a chair in my parents' basement, and we were basically together since. Almost ten years, five years of long distance, two apartments, five roommates, and all the experiences of growing up together. Our story ended as quietly as we began, and we went our separate ways earlier this year.

This New Year's Eve would have been our tenth anniversary. It also should have been the weekend we were getting married. We had talked vaguely of a New Year's Eve wedding, figuring a Saturday night and our tenth anniversary would be a great time to make the whole thing official. It was just an idea, but it was the first real idea we had about our future. Even though last January it became clear that marriage was not where we were headed, our New Year's Eve wedding still existed in my mind. As someone who has dreamed of getting married for years, it was sad to see it pass.

Even though it is sad to watch a potential wedding date come and go, as we passed through yesterday and today, I found that I was almost happy. I am really glad we aren't getting married. We weren't right and we weren't happy, and rather than doing what was expected of us and taking the next step, we chose to go our separate ways. Of course it is sad that my relationship ended, but going through a divorce would have been far worse.

I am sad, but also happy. Happy to know that there is a lot more out there. Happy because I hope each of us finds happiness elsewhere. Happy because even though I know I have "never been wed", I know that day is still ahead of me. I can go back to loving weddings for weddings' sake and there not being stakes or implications behind a color pattern or a motif.

I should have been leaving on my honeymoon tomorrow. Instead, I will be walking my college friend to the train and going to trivia. And honestly, I think that's great.