Saturday, August 31, 2013
It's safe to say that people fit into certain personality types. If you are a fan of Carl Jung, then you already know the concept of typologies. Introversion versus extroversion. Perceiving versus judging. And so on and so forth. If you were born any time between 1980 and 1990, you probably took an online personality quiz that is based off of Carl Jung's findings on typological personalities.
I feel like one more should be added to the list. Perhaps it's an offshoot of "Perceiving versus Judging", but I've found that, when it comes to interactions with other people, people fall into one of two categories: empathy versus comparison.
The empathetic personality removes themselves from what a person is telling them. If you want to throw some Freud, you get rid of the superego. You are genuinely excited, happy, upset for that person. On the flipside, the comparison personality puts themselves right at the forefront of what a person is telling them. How does their story impact your life? How does their bit of news compare to your experiences?
Take, for instance, a friend tells you that they are going on vacation. The empathetic personality is excited for their friend and tells them to have fun and take lots of pictures. The comparison personality immediately thinks about the last time they went on vacation, and if they have ever been to that specific destination.
Or, on the flip side, a friend tells you that their boyfriend of a few months has dumped them. The empathetic personality feels for their friend. The comparison personality thinks about when they were last dumped, if the relationship was longer or shorter, and how they had reacted to said break-up.
This is a shaky personality, as no one is 100% empathetic. In fact, we usually draw from our own experiences to feel for other people's experiences. But there is still an interesting line between the two personalities: the, "that's awesome," versus, "I'm jealous."
I remember, once upon a time, when David Cook auditioned for American Idol. Simon Cowell asked if his friends are happy for him. David Cook said his friends were very happy for him -- to which Simon replied, "No friends are happy for other friends' successes." That tells me that Simon Cowell is very much a comparison personality. He would never be fully happy for a friend's success because he compares it to what he has or hasn't succeeded in yet.
There's no right or wrong archetype, and Empathy versus Comparison is no different. I think comparison personalities are natural fighters. These are the people who will claw their way to the top because they constantly compare their coworkers' successes against her own. On the flipside, I think empathy personalities could potentially be enablers.
This is not exactly a fully-thought-out idea (as I'm coming up with it just now), but there is something to be said about how the two archetypes impact a human connection. Think about the people you spend time with. Think about those who constantly bring the conversation back to themselves ("you tried yoga? I did yoga a few times." "Your hamster died? Yeah, I had to put my dog down, which is a lot sadder.") Granted, I feel that a 100% empathetic personality would be the equivalent of a yes-man, but it makes me wonder just how much we lean toward the "comparison" side. We write, "Jealous!!!" under a friend's picture of the beach. We deny sympathy towards a friend's plight because, we "went through something similar and wasn't so emotional about it."
So my Empathy versus Comparison might not exactly bring me any accolades from the world of psychology, but it does bring to me a pretty major point: when you compare, you can't be empathetic. And when you can't be empathetic, you lose out on a proper human connection.
Most psychologists spend years in academia, extrapolating and pontificating and researching, before they'll even make their ideas known. Meanwhile I stream-of-conscious something I came up with while taping up the frame in our guest room.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Well, that's a lie. I hated self-absorbed frat boys, woo girls who thought shouting down the street at 2 AM was a viable option, and the skyrocketing cost of tuition more -- but the overuse of symbolism is definitely up there on the list.
I hate James Joyce with a passion because of this. Every little action was symbolic of a greater, more abstract theme. He searched to buy her a gift; it's symbolic of getting closer to God! The snow is falling on fresh spring grass; it's symbolic of dashed hopes! He took a massive dump in the toilet; it's symbolic of...release! To me, symbolism is the tambourine in the band. A wonderful accent to an established ensemble, but not worth getting the primary spotlight.
The same cannot be said about real life. Maybe it's because I'm sentimental like that, but I love finding symbolism and deeper meanings in my day-to-day events.
For example, it rained on my last day teaching. I had ridden my bike to work on a clear, sunny morning, only to see the skies turn gray. I was disheartened, I was annoyed...only to see my husband in the parking lot, with my bike already strapped to the trunk. Suddenly, I was okay that it had rained, because my husband showing up out of no where to save the day was really symbolic of my entire time as a teacher (truth be told, my burnout would've been a lot sooner had I not had my husband to keep me level).
There are other things that seem more sentimental than symbolic, but I love them all the same, for their deeper meaning to me. Take, for instance, a little chocolate shop in a tiny town in Western New Hampshire. We would roadtrip up to New Hampshire constantly when we lived in the Boston area. We would essentially go north and see where it took us. And we found some amazing places as a result: an incredible hibatchi restaurant, a lovely little pet store with puppies you could just scoop up and play with, and a chocolate shop that stole our heart from day one. After finding this shop, every road trip eventually brought us to that town, even if we were on the eastern half of New Hampshire. Cut to nearly 3 years later, and we're hiring them to do our wedding favors.
Or, for instance, a seemingly unassuming IMAX theatre. We stumbled upon a side route during one of our road trips and found an IMAX theatre just a few miles from the main highway. It was getting late, but we decided to cap off our day with a movie before going all the way home.
Nearly five years later, and we drive by the IMAX theatre on a constant basis. Because it is not even 5 minutes away from our new home.
Again, no symbolism. Perhaps foretelling. Either way, I love the dichotomy: this was a movie theatre that we found while wandering around, and now it is a landmark to signal just how close we are to our home.
The movers come today, and heavens knows I'm starting to fret about it. We've been putting in the overtime to get everything ready, and we're still a bit behind (which I thank the painters for). We never got a chance to assemble the baker's rack I got for dirt cheap off Craigslist. We still have to finish painting the purple trim in the former-neon-yellow room. And we still have no idea what we're doing in terms of new window treatments (and it's going to be a son of a bitch installing blinds with the sectional in the way. But I'm excited for this new chapter. I'm excited to pass by that IMAX theatre one more time and know that I am home.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
It's a random age -- it certainly does not fit into our love towards the multiples of 5 and 10 -- but I can't help but trip out about it. It's not a bad tripping out, per se, but it's a type of tripping-out that would make all the acid and 'shrooms blush.
I remember having an existential panic at 20. The realization that I wasn't a teenager anymore threw me for a loop and I went through what only can be described as an early quarter-life crisis. Realizing that everything I did would impact the rest of my life had me doubting every little turn I made. As a result, I was worried about how I'd react to 25. My twenty-fifth birthday came and went and I found myself reacting in a completely different way.
Instead of throwing me into a tailspin of doubt and anxiety, turning 25 gave me a confidence boost. I looked back on the past 25 years and knew I was on the right track. I had graduated college summa cuma laude. I was certified to teach in one state and working on my credentials in another. I was unemployed a grand total of a month between moves, and was starting to get the swing of things as a substitute teacher. I had written my first manuscript and was in the thick of agency-hunting. I was learning yoga and tai chi and even a little ice hockey. I was married to the one guy who could complement my crazies and keep me center. If anything, 25 solidified that I was going about my life in the right way.
I'm thankfully not having a repeat of turning 20, but I am still having a moment of realization. Maybe it's because 27 means you're in your "late 20s", when, truth be told, I don't feel a day over 23. Maybe it's because I went through so much change in a few months.
Or maybe it's because I'm closer to trying to start a family than I am to how old I was when I got married.
The on-going joke with my in-laws is "no pressure". It started off as an innocent comment: my mother-in-law joking that, "I don't want you to feel pressured, but when you are ready to have kids, we certainly are ready to be grandparents." That night, my aunt-in-law made a comment about when I have a baby (since Isaac and I were the only pair out of the group of cousins who are married at that time). She stopped what she was saying, turned to me, and said, "No pressure, though!" Which sent in immediate in-law family into a round of laughter.
The joke has evolved to the point that all my sister-in-law has to do is type "#" in a comment or text (which is short for #nopressure). The joke has taken on a life of its own, which I take in stride, since I'm not actually being pressured to have kids.
I always imagined starting a family at 28. The older I get, the more that age bumps up to 29, but even then -- that's barely 2 years away. In fact, if you factor in trying for a kid (and not magically getting it on the first try), that's only a year away. Even if I wait until I turn 29 to even attempt, it's still a shorter amount of time between now and then (2 years, 3 weeks), than between my marriage and now (2 years, 3 months).
If there is anything I've learned about growing up, it's that none of us actually grow up. We just look around and go, "Well, guess I'm an adult now," and act accordingly. There's still so much to get done before motherhood (including, ideally, a half marathon and two marathons, but my knees are begging to differ), but it's going to come before I know it.
No pressure, of course.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Our painters, after explaining to us why a third coat of paint is just like priming, resorted to priming the foyer and hallways to get rid of the blue. The green tint is gone and I'm feeling a lot less stressed about the situation. Now the only concern is what the invoice is going to say. I can only imagine this fiasco is costing them upwards of three times what they had originally planned on spending (and that's not factoring in time lost to have their painters at our place instead). There will be hell to pay if they try to pass the buck onto us, but we'll cross (or burn) that bridge when we get to it.
Like I've mentioned ad nauseum over the past few days, I'm a Type A personality. I'm a perfectionist. I get wound up and uptight and I prefer to be in control of the situation (really, the only time I'm okay relinquishing control is when my husband is in charge). But, really, that's not the reason why I have been as stressed about the painters and the movers as I have. At least that's not the only reason.
We closed on the house on first week of July. Since then, we have been cleaning and scrubbing, cutting up walls and running cables, drilling things into place and agonizing over wall colors. We installed speaker systems, electrical outlets, ethernet jacks, and now window treatments. We sanded and spackled and mudded with such veracity that I ended up with blisters on my fingers (cue the boy with the cockney accent: "I got bleestahs on me feengahs!"). We scrubbed out every paint splotch, smudge mark, and crayon drawing. We dug out every nail hole, we spackled every ding and dent. We unscrewed, painted, and replaced doors in practically every room. We vacuumed with a type of militant efficiency that would make the Germans proud.
Our blood and sweat have gone into making this house our own. We've spent countless late nights at the house, working until way later than we should've, listening to comedy on our ride home, lest we fall asleep at the wheel. We finish up these projects knowing full well that there will be a brand new set as soon as we move in (we plan on finishing the basement ourselves, as well as remodeling the laundry room and installing a neat shelf/hanger combo in the master bathroom that I found off of Pinterest). We've sacrificed free time and sleep and even physical wellness to do our micro-renovations.
It's hard not to look at the people we have hired to help us, point to our house, and go, "How can you not love and revere this house as much as we do?"
I remember having the same issue when it came to my wedding. I'll digress here and say that there really is a lot of overlap between first-time homeownership and wedding planning. From every store within a 30-mile radius falling over themselves to do business with you (which works -- we just spent an absurd amount of money at Lowe's because they gave us a 10% off "new homeowners" coupon + free delivery), to that feeling you get when you find The House or The Dress, to the frustration upon realizing that there's nothing inherently special about your home to the outside world. With my wedding, I was pulling out my hair when I had friends and coworkers and family shrug their shoulders and treat my wedding like it was a barbecue that they couldn't make this year. I nearly lost my mind at one potential florist, who couldn't seem to be bothered with our preliminary meeting. I wanted to shake them, point to my fiancé, and go, "How can you not love and revere my impending marriage like I do?"
Because, at the end of the day, people have their own lives. Their own homes. Their own weddings or marriages. Their own issues that they revere more than we could ever. It's why we have the adage, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." No one is going to care as much or as deeply about the project at hand as you do and will.
Which is enough for me. As I've mentioned before, I've cherished this time as a time of learning. I learned how to cut drywall and install anchors and spackle and paint entire rooms. If a mover dings up a wall, we can patch it. If the painters skimp in an area, we can paint over it. Because, while the college grad with Labor Day Weekend plans on his mind might not feel it, we certainly do. And, so help us, God, we'll inspect every inch until it meets our exact specifications.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
I mentioned briefly in my last post about my bout of insomnia, and I found myself wanting to write about it. So much that when I got the phone call from the movers asking for a last-minute schedule change, I was more interested in shaping out how I would write about insomnia instead.
It might be because I am no longer a teacher. It might be because I've been putting in some late nights with the house. But -- thankfully -- I've been sleeping like a baby with zero problems for months upon months now. So writing about insomnia is a lot like writing about an ex-lover that you have no feelings towards anymore. It was merely a part of my life that I can look back on and reflect and wonder how I put up with it for so long.
It started last May. After a lot of back and forth, the administration at the school I worked at finally agreed that one of our children was potentially on the spectrum. The first step was meeting with the parents, outlining what we have found and recommending an evaluation.
This was something that I had never done before. I had students who were Autistic (and already diagnosed). I had students who had disabilities. But I had never had to tell a parent, "Your child is raising red flags. We want to get him evaluated."
Honestly, is there anything scarier to a parent than that? Hearing something might be different about their child (from their teachers, no less) is surpassed only by hearing that someone is wrong with your child from a doctor or a police officer. And I knew that. And, because of that, I fretted. I worried. I went over my report a million times. I thought and rethought about every single thing I would say.
As a result, I started losing sleep.
The meeting came and went, with results that were lackluster, to say the least. My co-teacher and I felt completely defeated. Without giving away any personal information of the child, it was an open-and-shut case. The red flags that we were seeing fit perfectly with a very specific type of ASD. And we had fought tooth and nail for evaluation, especially since early diagnosis is crucial. And all we were left with was whiplash from getting the runaround.
And that should've been it. A month later, the child graduated up to his room for "summer camp". I went on leave for 5 weeks as an alternative to substituting for the summer. I got to relax. I went on vacation with my husband and celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Things should've been looking up.
But my brain doesn't work like that.
I've never had a very dormant brain, in terms of sleep. I'm notorious for sleepwalking, sleeptalking, even sleep-disassembling-lamps (true story). After a few months, my brain decided to refer back to the few weeks when I was losing sleep over the meeting and mimic the situation.
It was a very interesting brand of insomnia. I would go to bed, bone tired, lay down, close my eyes... and nothing. Every part of me was ready for sleep. But it was like someone had forgotten to flip the switch, which left me laying in bed, exhausted as all hell, wondering when I would get to sleep. And nothing would work. I would fall asleep watching television, only to wake up immediately after the sleep timer turned off the TV. I would think out all the tedious things I needed to do or learn, only to find myself getting to the end of said tasks without a blink of sleep. It was like my brain realized just how trippy the concept of sleep is, and decided to pontificate on the concept of sleep instead of actually fall asleep.
At first, I panicked. And, as everyone knows, panicking is exactly what you do when you can't fall asleep. Suddenly, on top of my brain not shutting off, I had adrenaline pumping through my body like I was being chased by a pack of zombies. And when I would fall asleep, my brain would wake me up to ask if I had fallen asleep yet, only to lie to me and tell me that I hadn't, which would make me panic, which would send my heart racing, which would result in another night a very little sleep.
I fully recognized that it was psychosomatic. The same portion of my brain that would make me sit up and talk in my sleep was playing tricks on me. I wasn't ready to talk to a doctor about it (since, on top of being a notorious sleepwalker, I'm notorious for being stubborn about my health and figuring things out on my own). But I remember how we had purchased melatonin for the cats when we drove them from Boston to Ohio one Christmas. It was cheap, it was in the vitamin aisle. I figured nothing could go wrong.
So I started taking melatonin every night. First one tablet, then two. I started taking two if only as insurance, as my sleepwalking/fake-insomniac side is pretty powerful and was still rearing its ugly head every few nights. But, for the most part, I was getting some sleep.
The problem is, however, that chronic use of melatonin is a huge no-no. Something they don't tell you in the vitamin aisle at Shaw's. A few months into taking melatonin, I found myself getting listless. I couldn't be bothered to get anything done, even things like my favorite yoga routine in the morning. I chalked it up to being an adult. I figured that there was a certain ennui that came with age. But I was also losing my patience. I was losing what made me, me. I was ready to quit my job over the tiniest infarction.
I don't know what made me look up melatonin, but I found myself on a website about chronic melatonin use, and I'm so stupidly glad I did. I learned that the melatonin tablets can trick our brain into thinking we are depressed. Something about saturating our body with animal melatonin (which is what those tablets are) mucking with our serotonin uptake. The night before I learned about the side effects was the last night I ever took melatonin.
In the end, I fought fire with fire. The portion of my brain that likes to sleepwalk wants to make me think I'm not sleeping? Well, then, the portion of my brain that's rational will remind that aforementioned portion that I did get some sleep, because over an hour as passed since I laid down. I taught myself not to panic when I wasn't falling asleep. I would simply get up, go to the living room, and read until I thought I was ready to try sleep again.
I don't know when exactly I started easily falling asleep again, but I did. Every once in a while, I'd have a night where it would take upwards of an hour to finally catch a few Zs, but the Zs still came. The sleepwalking portion of my brain would wake me up at 1, warning me that I never fell asleep, and I would calmly respond (to myself) with, "That's bullshit. Now go back to sleep."
Insomnia is no laughing matter. Losing your ability to sleep is like losing one of the most precious gifts you have. There's nothing more enjoyable than crawling into bed and falling asleep before your head can hit the pillow. And, on the flipside, there's nothing more frustrating and upsetting than laying in your bed, wondering why you are not getting the sleep you were promised.
Monday, August 26, 2013
I tend to write candidly. This has been my way since day one. I understand there are venues where you filter what you want to say (like FB when you have your grandparents friended), but, for the most part, I am honest about my life and what I write about. It's given me a good amount of praise, as well as a good amount of criticism. I make no bones about what happens in my life, even if it doesn't portray me as some semi-perfect entity. I've been unabashedly candid about my teacher burnout, the 8 months of severe insomnia (and the complications of taking melatonin to combat it), when I've been upset or frustrated or stressed. I hold nothing back, especially in avenues like my blogs.
There are two reasons for it. One: because I know no other way. I write about what I think about, and if I have something on my mind, then it's what I'm going to write about. I have no interest in trying to lie about my life, or play down any aspect, even if that aspect doesn't put me in the best light.
The other reason is almost reactionary. We live in a very public world, where everyone knows practically everything else. As a result, people have become their own PR agents. Everything is spun online to make them look smart, or fun, or cool, or creative, or quirky. Everyone is desperate to prove themselves, and that means pretending like nothing ever goes wrong, or that they're never flustered by what life brings them.
But that's life. You win some; you lose some. Sometimes you're on your A game; sometimes you're on the sidelines. And while I'd never advocate going on, say, Facebook, and bitching every time something doesn't go your way, I hope we as a society can calm down. We don't need to take pictures of our food and drinks to prove to people that we go out sometimes. We don't need to take selfies every time we do our makeup to prove how "pretty" we are. We don't need to post transcripts of our conversations to prove how witty we are (and -- honestly? -- the mix of inside jokes and random phrases is never as funny to the outside world as it is to you). We don't need to pretend like we always take things in stride and never -- never! -- become irrational.
Go on now. It's okay. Embrace it. You're only human.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
They've sworn to fix the hallway and foyer before we move in. Personally, I think it all could've been fixed if they had simply given the walls a coat or two of primer and started from scratch. That was how we were able to transform a room that was a deep, deep maroon (as well as a room with neon yellow and a room that could only be described as a "Lemon-Lime Sprite Advertisement" into very soft, delicate colors. They've already gone to work and, despite everything, I'm going to have faith in them that they'll fix everything by move-in on Friday.
However, we learned two things on Friday: the dinged up a portion of the half wall that separates the den from the kitchen. And by "dinged up" I don't mean "they left a scratch". I mean "it looked like reverse braille on my wall." I brought it to my husband's attention, who simply sighed and started spackling. We also learned that, while they were making holes in one wall, they were patching up walls they weren't supposed to patch up in others. We had taken down our window treatments, but screwed the screws halfway back in, as a bit of a marker. We left the hook for the curtain rods in as well, and assumed that they would be painted with everything else, as they had obviously been painted with the original colors in the first place.
We inspect the walls and realized that they had taken out all the screws, all the hooks, and spackled everything over. This becomes exponentially frustrating when you factor in that reinstalling the window treatments when the area has been spackled is downright impossible. The only way we are going to be able to put the window treatments back in is if we dig the entire spackled area out, mud it instead, sand it, mud it again, prime it, paint it, and start all over again with the window treatments.
Minus the dings and the missing knob (which, going back to the "going awry" versus "not going perfectly", if that were the only issues at hand, I would've filed it under "not going perfectly" and ordered a new knob/spackled the dings ourselves), everything could've been solved if they just hadn't assumed.
A breakdown in communication happened somewhere along the line, because, as I checked, I had specified in print what colors go way with very little ambiguity. I feel like anyone with any understanding of how color works would see a plan that called for light, light cream in a den (as well as variations of cream and tan in the dining room and kitchen) only to have a super brilliant blue in the foyer, hallways, and front wall, and go, "Wait a minute..."
All it would've taken was one phone call. Just one. "Hey, I want to double check the colors." "Hey, do you want your wallplates painted?" "Hey, do you want us to take us your curtain rod hooks?" Simple clarification and all of this would be a thing of the past. We'd be grumbling about the dings and dents and missing knob, but those are very simple problems that can get solved in an afternoon.
But no. A lot of assumptions were made, and they were all wrong. Now the painting company is bleeding out money, we're losing valuable time, and everyone is pulling out their hair.
One of my friends put it best. The stress that comes with people you've hired doubles because you hired them specifically to do the work and experience the stress in your place. But this is exactly what happens when you assume: you make an ASS out of U and ME.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
We'll be meeting with the main painter as well as one of the owners today to discuss our grievances. It's safe to say that my Type A, perfectionist personality has been completely on edge thanks to this ordeal. Anyone who spent weeks comparing colors until their heads cave in on themselves can understand just how disheartening this type of situation is. I spent hours -- solid hours -- going back and forth on what particular shade of cream I wanted the foyer to be. I was exactly that lady, wanting a "purple but like a purple but not a purple."
My husband tried to reassure me in the best way he knows how: by making a silly voice and saying, "Whatever are we to do when things don't go perfectly?" His "silly voice" shtick is usually enough to break me from whatever neurotic mess I had gotten myself into. However, his comment yesterday got me instead about things going awry versus things not going perfectly.
When I was planning my wedding, there was no difference. If things weren't going perfectly, then things were going awry, and my stress was through the roof. Which, looking back on, it's funny how it all got lumped into one. I put "accidentally getting sharpie on my brand new manicure" in the exact same category as, "bridesmaid quits 2 months before wedding for dubious reasons, even after we offer to pay all her expenses." But they were all things going awry in my eyes, and all worth the same amount of worry.
The painting situation has shown both types of situations. The painting project was delayed a solid three days, the first two of which were the only ones I knew of. The painters kept leaving behind their empty water bottles and styrofoam Dunkin' cups. We spent a couple of hours unscrewing all of the wall plates, leaving two blank wall plates that we wanted painted over. They unscrewed those wall plates... and proceeded to paint over the cables that were behind said wall plate. These are all things that would fall under "not going perfectly". A little annoying, a little frustrating, but, really, small problems. Most are easily fixable (we can paint over the wall plates ourselves, we can throw the water bottles in the recycling bin, and we can start working on projects that wouldn't interfere with the painters, as we did yesterday) or, at the very least, easily glossed over.
Things going awry are on a completely different scale. These are things that can't be fixed as easily, things that definitely cannot be glossed over, things that are worth your time and energy. For us, there was only one thing that really went awry: they painted our foyer the vibrant blue meant for the den, and proceeded to just paint directly over the blue without any primer. And, unfortunately for everyone involved, that one big thing that went awry only amplifies all those little things that didn't go perfectly.
With situations like this, the only thing I can do now is see what can be done and focus on the positives as much as possible. Because there are a lot of positives to our interior getting completely repainted. Our den now looks fun and inviting (instead of drab and nondescript). Our kitchen now looks bright and welcoming (instead of closed in and old fashioned). Our dining room now looks open and neat (instead of dark and closed off). And the bedrooms we have been painting ourselves are coming out better than I could have expected or hoped for.
And, at the end of the day, we are still homeowners. If the foyer needs to be completely repainted by someone else, so be it. But it's still our foyer, and we're still incredibly proud to call this place home.
Friday, August 23, 2013
A lot of people say their lives could be a TV show. If there is anything shows like Wicked Single (it was set in Boston; of course I watched it) taught us, it's usually a lot more intricate than that. In this case, that hating your job, getting drunk a lot, and getting into lots of petty fights and sloppy hook-ups doesn't necessarily make even a good cable television reality show.
But I'd like to think that at least some of my exploits and adventures would make a decent show or two. Maybe a show that is shown exclusively on Netflix or Hulu, but a show all the same. Aging model finds life after teaching, all while attempting to establish herself as a writer and bantering with her absurdly witty husband (and that's just the God's honest truth. If I've improved at all as a comedic writer, it's because of my constant back-and-forth with my husband). Actually sounds like the start of an ABC Family hour-long drama. Damning praise if there were ever one, but let's move on.
In today's episode, the aging model deals with painters who are completely redoing the first floor in a house that she just bought out in the country. They delay the project a solid three days, only to completely trip up on the colors. And I don't mean the foyer is off-white when it should be beige. I mean the color is blue. Vibrant blue. And the kitchen is yellow. And the den is the color meant for the foyer. And the painter left behind his radio, which appears to be older than myself.
Not enough to base an entire episode on (well, perhaps, given what constitutes "plot" in shows these days), but an interesting obstacle for a set of main characters in a group, a la Friends or How I Met Your Mother.
The main difference, however, is my stress and frustrations are not comedic. I'm frustrated that all the projects we need to get done in time for the movers (but needs to wait until after the painters) are on indefinite hold. I'm stressed about the two most major projects (painting and moving) are slowly bleeding into one another. The emails sent back and forth are not witty or entertaining, but a sign of a potentially long road ahead.
All of this would be terrible for a show. But that's real life. Sometimes you have to supply your own laugh track.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Some of that is just lucking out in the gene pool. I'm naturally a go-getter. I'm not comfortable just sitting in front of the TV and marathoning a series. That's part of the reason why I do crafts in the first place: something to do with my hands when I watch television. I feel best when I can accomplish something, especially something that I didn't know I could do.
But, really, having that mindset from the get-go is not enough. Because I wake up and, a good chunk of the time, I don't want to run. I don't want to write. I have an off day and don't feel like doing anything and suddenly a couple TV shows sounds pretty appealing, even if I'll feel like I'm crawling out of my skin by the end.
For me, the only thing to do then is to say, "It's not a choice. Do it."
"It's not a choice" was a phrase I picked up during my preschool teaching years. It's what you're supposed to say to a child who is telling you, "no," -- or to a young toddler who is innocently trying to explore something he's not supposed to explore. And kids really do need to be taught that some things are choices, and some things aren't.
Don't feel like running when today is a scheduled running day? It's not a choice; lace up your shoes. Feel like turning around early? Not a choice; keep going. Don't feel like writing today. Not a choice; get to your computer and go. Don't feel like cleaning up the house? Not a choice; get your broom.
The truth of the matter is that I find myself essentially kicking my own ass more often than not. In an ironic twist, I find it harder to get certain things done now that I'm freelancing, if only because I don't have the time constraints like I used to (time constraints that forced me to get things done during a very specific time of day).
I'm saying this because today is a running day. It has to be a running day: any training schedule will tell you that you need to do a semi-light run the day after a seriously major run. But the weather is already turning (and it's 7:30 in the morning!) and the gym I go to is terrible about their AC. But it's not a choice. I have 3 or so miles to run. And I'm only cheating myself if I figure a way out of doing it. So now I'm off to the gym. After writing a blog entry. Because that, too, is not a choice.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Yesterday was my first day in a solid week that I wasn't running around all of New England, going to various appointments and meeting with potential clients (either to hire and be hired from). So, as my nature dictates, I celebrated my first day without anything on the agenda by running for an hour and a half and finally starting up my Spanish lessons.
I had bought Rosetta Stone for my husband as an anniversary gift, since he's half Argentinian and his knowledge of Spanish has been dwindling from "good understanding" to "basic understanding" to "I could survive if I needed to in a Spanish-speaking country, I think." And, like a proper middle class white person in their 20s, I'm obsessed with the idea of learning a second language. Given the insanity of everything at the moment, Rosetta Stone has been simply hanging out on my laptop, barely opened up since when we first installed it.
I know getting Rosetta Stone to learn a new language is right up there with getting jewelry from Kay Jewelers or going on vacation at a Sandals Beach Resort in the "prepackaged for your lazy first world consumption" category, but, really, why not try it out?
I've done four years of Spanish, I've done three semesters of Italian in college (I was *this* close to minoring in Italian. I was halfway there, only to find that I couldn't finagle any more Italian classes into my schedule). And yet I was fumbling around during my time in Italy, resorting to awkward smiles and dramatic hand gestures. And I still have no clue what the Spanish-speaking people next to me on the train are saying (because, really, isn't that why we want to learn additional languages? Just to make sure the people next to you aren't saying something disparaging about your appearance?)
I've set up a bit of a goal for myself: learn Spanish, become decent with it, and celebrate by spending time in Buenes Aires. Because, on top of learning the foundations of Spanish, I want to learn the Argentinian dialect. Argentinian Spanish is essentially what happens when you smash 8 parts Spanish with three parts Italian. The cadence, the melody, everything is very Italian. Including the very rapid speech (think Spanish soccer/football announcers fast). It seems like a perfect way to bring every full circle and learn more about the rich culture that my mother-in-law is from.
So I might be that person sitting a little too straight at the dining room table, yelling, "LA TIENDA!" into her laptop's microphone. But hey, we all got to start somewhere. And it beats falling asleep in a high school classroom.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
My first run was along a 6-mile course that I know by heart. I nearly lost my stomach by 4.5 miles and had to walk the rest of the way back. I figured I was just not ready for something that long yet, so, for my next run, I went on a 5-mile course. I felt like I was dying by mile 3 and, by the 3.7 mark, I couldn't go any further.
This happened one more time, along my 6-mile course. This time I nearly passed out by mile 5 and spent the rest of the walk back thinking about how hot and unforgiving the sun was.
I got home and, before I could even get my knee braces off, I made a beeline to the kitchen and guzzled two glasses of apple juice.
It was then that I realized why I had been crapping out on my runs. It wasn't because I was out of the game. It was because I was dehydrated.
I had stopped running around the middle of June, when the air was still relatively dry and the temperatures were moderate. Suddenly, I'm trying to run in the middle of July, which is peak heat wave season in New England.
This made perfect sense to me. The 6-mile course is a fairly shaded route, whereas the 5-mile route is in direct sunlight the entire time. My body heated up faster on the 5-mile route, which resulted in more sweat, which resulted in quicker dehydration.
This is when I finally understood just how important hydrating is for long distance runners. Overheating or dehydration are more powerful than any muscle fatigue can ever be (really, at the end of the day, I've learned that muscle fatigue is probably at the bottom of the list of, "reasons why you want/need to stop running." Mental fatigue is first, followed by dehydration or overheating, followed by ligament anger (aka your knees).)
For today's run, I saved my squeezable Gatorade bottle (as I tend to buy Gatorades by the metric ton), washed it out, and filled it 2/3rds of the way with water. I didn't want to fill it up for two reasons:
1) the weight. The bottle could hold 24 fluid ounces, which seems like nothing at first, but can feel like carrying a ball and chain after a while (here, muscle fatigue IS the reason).
2) water toxicity. This is as big of a problem with runners as dehydration. You need that lovely salt in your system in order to survive. So, if you sweat out all your salt, and only put water in, you'll throw your body into shock. Water toxicity is potentially fatal, so it's an important thing to keep in mind.
I went on my run, taking little sips every 1/3 mile or so (and by little sips I mean little sips. I tried once for an actual gulp, which resulted in me nearly aspirating the water, which resulted in me coughing and hacking, which resulted in losing valuable water and energy and oxygen). I'd pour a little water on my face (essentially the equivalent of a "little sip") whenever I'd run into a patch without much shade, as the weatherman called for highs in the 90s and the weather was already starting to turn at just 9 in the morning. This right here is why I chose water instead of more Gatorade. Ever tried to cool yourself off with Gatorade on your face? Yeah, don't trust those commercials. I've accidentally spilled Gatorade on me during runs and the result is a sticky mess.
I ended up running 7.65 with a 5.5 mph pace (which is actually fairly slow for me, but given all my knee injuries as of late, I'll let it be). I ended up finishing up the course (without the extra loop around to make it an even 8) if only because my right knee was starting to act up (reason #3 why we stop running: ligament anger). It was hot, I had sweated so much that even a simple splash of water on my face made me taste nothing but salt, and even then I downed the Gatorade I had leftover from yesterday. Which is perfectly fine -- you should expect to be dehydrated after a race. Guzzling all the water that you need as you need it would result in cramping.
The Ashland Half-Marathon is October 27th. I have 9 weeks to gain an additional 5.45 miles. Which doesn't sound like too much when you just look at the numbers -- if I can do nearly 8, what's stopping me from adding 5 1/2? -- but running is like video games. It takes a lot longer to level up, the higher you go. If you think it's going to be as easy to level from 40 to 70 as it was to level from 1 to 40, you're going to have a bad time.
Monday, August 19, 2013
And why? I've already mentioned that I take more and more pride in the appearance of where I live. But it's more than that. It's the Broken Window Theory.
Put simply, if you keep something well-maintained, people will treat it better. On the flipside, if you don't maintain something, people will treat it worse than they naturally would. Like a house with a manicured lawn and clean walls versus a house with a broken window. They were able to curtail graffiti on the sides of T cars in Boston by militantly cleaning a car the day it got tagged. Because they knew that, if they let one piece of graffiti go, it would invite a whole ton more.
Now, I really respect our painters. I had talked and met with a bunch and these guys blew me away with their professionalism (and reasonable prices). I don't expect them to be the type to see a dirty dish in the sink and go, "Well, fuck this house! I'm dinging up all the shit." But the unconscious mind works in very interesting ways, and I will gladly give my house any boost it can get.
Our painters are scheduled to finish on Wednesday. That following Friday, the movers come and bring all of our furniture and major boxes. And I couldn't be happier. As much as I love how close everything is to my apartment, I can't wait to have access to all my clothes and books again.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Oh, you met that dude at a party? He seems really nice, pretty into you. Oh, it's just a casual thing? You just want to hook up with him? Until he seems to lose interest, at which point you'll realize you're madly in love with him? Or until something magically changes and he becomes the man of your dreams and you get married and live happily ever after? I see. Congratulation. This is a healthy way of going about relationships and I know it will end wonderfully for you.
No money to pay off loans or rent, but all the money in the world to go out multiple times a night. You knew you shouldn't have bought that outfit, but you couldn't help it? That's okay, you can wear it while you concoct your unique and amazing meal made out of exotic, organic, overpriced food (food that you've been charging to your credit card and paying the minimum monthly payments on).
You got blackout drunk on a Wednesday and have to go to work with sunglasses on? You can barely type an email, let alone get your project in order? How professional. I'm proud of you.
You have a job you hate, in a field you care nothing about, with roommates that can't bother to replace the toilet paper. But that's okay. Thirty is the new twenty. This period of your life doesn't count. So do whatever you want. No regrets, YOLO, etc, etc.
You're crying at work yet again because your ex sent you a message with a smiley face? Here, let me completely decipher it for you. Don't like my decoding? Feel free to unload every emotion onto my plate. Because as I, too, am still living somewhere between my high school and college years, and have no worries or responsibilities, and can therefore take whatever you can dish out.
No, wait, I can't. Because I'm an adult. And so are you.
It's not Bohemic. It's not quirky. It's immature. It's exhausting.
Taylor Swift can talk about how fun and confusing being a twentysomething is, because Taylor Swift is a millionaire and can wear hipster clothing and get into unhealthy relationships and go out on random nights. But guess who still goes to all her interviews, all her press dates, all her scheduled tour stops. You're technically being even more immature than Taylor Swift. That's really saying something.
*I should point out that this is in no way directed at anyone. I just felt like ranting about the general "thirty is the new twenty" mindset and how it isn't cute to be a manic pixie dream girl wannabe. And I felt like using the second person today.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
My meeting with the agency went surprisingly well. I was told some things I already knew: that my look is commercial but my book is fashion, and, as a result, I'm not marketing myself well. Boston is also a commercial market, so having a commercial look is useful, if marketed well. I asked the questions that I needed to ask (as some agents use "your book is all wrong" as a plot to spend thousands of dollars to hire their photographers) and I left the agency with my name signed on the dotted line and a few snapshots taken of me. My first casting is this Monday.
(Minor side note: this Monday also happens to be the one day I don't have a car. My husband and I have been dragging our feet about getting a second car, and purchasing a house/making simultaneous mortgage AND rent payments have definitely made the process even slower. So what do I do? Call up the Toyota dealership down the street and see if they have rentals. Like a boss.)
I labeled this summer as the Summer of Change as early as this past March. Certain major changes I knew were going to happen: I was going to step down as a teacher, I was going to knock a major thing off my bucket list and go on a cross-country drive, I was going to switch cell phone carriers (the most minor of the three, but still). Certain major changes had the potential to happen: buying a house, leaving my old agency, perhaps joining a new agency, perhaps finding a job teaching tai chi. So, in the span of 3 months, I quit my job, left the early education world behind, bought a house, went on a cross-country road trip, switched carriers, switched agencies, and learned how to paint a house. In a few weeks, the movers will be coming in to bring over our furniture and major boxes, as well as I will be teaching another demo class at a yoga studio in Merrimack.
If there's one thing I've learned about me, it's that I love all my "New Chapters" in my life to be as different from the previous chapter as possible.
With all these "new beginnings" taking place, it seemed fitting that yesterday was filled with an intense nostalgia. The agency I met with is in the Back Bay/Copley area of Boston. I spent the better part of 5 years living and working around that area. I walked up and down Mass Ave and Boylston and Newbury St like I got paid hourly for it. I would blast Maria Mena and Augustana from my iPod and walked until my legs were ready to give out. Then I'd cut across the Public Garden and the Common until I hit Downtown Crossing and take the Orange Line back.
I got into Boston early yesterday, terrified that a shift in traffic (or a T delay) would make me late. This resulted in me being able to enjoy the Back Bay for a solid hour and a half. I set up my earbuds, played Augustana on my phone, and walked the streets I knew so well.
It's hard for me to imagine that it was almost 8 years ago that I was a college freshman. It's also hard for me to imagine that I was ever a college freshman at all. I remember walking these streets alone for the first time, taking everything in and understanding that this was part of my neighborhood now.
But I guess that's life for you. God help me, I would never want to be like that 19-year-old ever again, so it's probably a good thing that my life has sent me on as many twists and turns as it did.
Friday, August 16, 2013
People in the Boston area view what makes a Bostonian a Bostonian in two polar opposite ways. There are those who believe that, unless you were born and raised your entire life in one of Boston's neighborhoods (Dorchester, Roxbury, Brighton, Allston, Charleston, etc), you are not a Bostonian. People who live in Somerville, Cambridge, Newton, and so on, don't count. Even though I was born in Boston (and born just a mile down the street from where I ended up going to college), I would not be part of this list, since I grew up in two towns over from Boston proper.
Then there is what I would call the liberal Bostonian. The borders are blurred with the liberal Bostonian. They include the surrounding towns (like Watertown or Medford) in what makes Boston "Boston", if only because they understand that Boston is a city of annexed towns, and it was just luck (or politics) as to why certain towns were annexed and others weren't.
The liberal Bostonian is also incredibly welcoming. Moved to Boston a couple years ago from out of state? Congratulations on becoming a Bostonian! Going to college in Boston? Welcome aboard!
Really, at the end of the day, the main requirement to be a Bostonian is to have Boston in your heart. Boston is home to so much more than the 600,000 residents that have "Boston" on their license plates. Boston is home to the millions of college students who come from around the globe -- many of whom stay in Boston after everything is said and done. We have "honorary Bostonians" in regards to athletes and celebrities (David Ortiz being a great example). Boston is something you breathe in and live out. It makes you smile every time you see the skyline. It gets you revved up when the Sox win a game, even if you don't care one bit about baseball.
Maybe I'm bias because I get disqualified on a technicality based on the first group of Bostonians. But I feel like the welcoming idea of what makes a Bostonian a Bostonian exemplifies all that is good about Boston. Boston has a pretty ugly side (just look at the 1970s busing crisis if you need an example), but it also has an incredible, beautiful side. That side was shown to the world after the Marathon Bombing. A side that shows we're not the racist, undereducated, perpetually drunk stereotype that seems so prevalent. That we are filled to the brim with love and pride for our city and its people (except during rush hour).
So I go in today with as much hope as I can muster, without actually getting my hopes up. We'll see if I end up shopping Newbury Street in celebration, or as retail therapy. Either way, I'm enjoying one of my favorite shopping destinations by around 3 o'clock this afternoon. And nothing's going to stop me there.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Just outside every Home Depot is a list of various workshops you can take. How to put up drywall, how to make a stone pathway, how to make your garden grow. Instead of ignoring the wall like I usually do, I decided to see what they had to offer, as our next big project was finishing the basement by ourselves and neither my husband or I know the first step in doing that.
They had the usual stuff: how to fix a leaky faucet, how to make an effective vegetable garden... And then I see in bright pink marker: "Do It HERself: How to Make a Chore Chart."
Maybe I was on a Rosie the Riveter kick, but I found that little workshop horribly offensive. Let's first start with the pink marker: I have issues with pink being relegated only to females. I don't like how female sports merchandise always comes in a pink option (why wear a regular Red Sox cap when I can get the pink one and be super cute lol!!). I don't like how anything sold primarily to females comes in pink (like pliers and wire cutters in crafts stores). This is not even getting into how infantile pink is. Pink does not say "woman". It says "little girl".
Secondly, it was the only workshop dedicated to just women, and it was something as asinine as making a chore chart. So while whatever male of the house is busy fixing pipes and cutting wood and doing other manly things, you as a woman are delegating chores to your children.
Lastly, I don't appreciate the exclusionary attitude toward men. I know, when talking about disparities in retail, we tend to only discuss how such "pink" tactics pigeonhole women. But acting like a "chore chart" is primarily a female task assumes that fathers are incapable of running a house and seeing to the various chores. We're halfway through the second decade of the twenty-first century. Are we still pretending like life mimics those Bounty commercials, where men make messes and stare at them dumbly until the wife shows up?
I can't really control what the Home Depot puts on their workshop list. I can choose to not go to them, but that's about it. The only thing to do is to keep doing what I'm already doing, and keep my eye out for actual home improvement workshops that strike my fancy. And I pray to God that, when I attend the "how to install drywall" workshop, I'm not the only female there.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Why am I doing all this cleaning when there are other pressing matters at hand? Because I have a mover coming in to give me an estimate and I care about the opinion of a stranger. A stranger who is coming into the apartment knowing full well that it's in the middle of being packed up.
I've noticed a strange thing happens as I get older: I care less and less about what people might think of me, but I care more and more about how my home is presented. From overhauling the apartment before a friend visits to meticulously planning how I'll unpack and decorate in time for our housewarming party, I care more about whatever "nest" I have than anything else.
That might just be a sign of me getting older, getting into an age where I might be having children (hence the "nest"). I know I never cared about what my dorm room or old apartment looked like. In fact, if I cleaned up, it was because I wanted things put away so no one could attempt to take my stuff.
But hey, it makes for an interesting day. Tomorrow will be more of the same (exterminator, followed by me rushing back to the apartment to meet with another moving company), and then I have my meeting (dun, dun, DUN) on Friday. Time to see how the rest of the weeks plays out.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
If only to mock the very phobia I have, I've gone skydiving, hang gliding... I've been to the top of the CN Tower and Empire State Building and Gateway Arch and looked down at all three places as much I could. I love climbing to the tops of mountains and I love looking over cliffs into vast valleys below. I go flying as often as possible and have been trying to nail down a time to rock climb for the last month (something I was going to do with one of my friends back in May, but we ended up putting an offer on our house that day instead). I seek out heights like a masochistic on the loose
There are other fears that I have: fear of driving by big rigs, fear of active volcanoes, fear of calling up a complete stranger and having to ask them for something (even if it's their job to provide whatever it is I'm asking). All of which I intentionally find situations that make me face said fears. While a healthy dose of caution is good when driving by a big rig or spending time by an active volcano, having outright fears just don't make sense. Fear limits me, and I'm not really a fan of being limited. So I face my fears. I pass big rigs on highways and call up whoever I need to call up. There aren't exactly any active volcanoes in the Northeast, but I'm still working on a way to spin "Vacation in Hawaii" as purely a way for me to confront my fear.
However, there is just one fear that I refuse to confront: my fear of spiders. I'm the type of arachnophobic where just seeing a spider can throw me into severe fight or flight. And, out of all the things to be afraid of, this one seems the silliest. Especially in the Northeast, where a spider bite results in a lovely micro-wound and nothing else.
When I confront my other fears (and walk away in one piece), I feel exhilarated. I get a rush unlike any other, which propels me forward to confront even more fears. When I confront a spider and walk away in one piece, I have only one thought on my mind: "Why the hell did I do THAT?"
However, that isn't to say that I'm not learning to control my fear. Where I used to focus on the "flight" portion of my "fight or flight", I am now shifting my mindset more and more towards "fight". And it's been pretty successful. I see a spider and, before I can react in any other way, I find a heavy object (a few times I was so bold as to use a tissue) and kill it. Then I do my little heeby-jeeby dance and shudder at the thought of a spider being so close to me.
Confronting fears is a pretty empowering act. But learning to cultivate that fear into stoic violence works in a pinch, too.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Which is ridiculous. "I have nothing to write about" is right up there with "I have nothing to wear." Really. Closet full of clothes and you have NOTHING to wear? You have plenty to where. Just nothing that strikes your fancy right now. And the same way you have to make your current wardrobe work (unless you're Kanye levels of rich and can just buy a new closet full of clothes -- and a new closet, and a new house), you have to find a topic that strikes your fancy.
Because, look around you. There are a million things to write about. Want to get into international news and talk about the recent acid attack on two British girls in Zanzibar? Or perhaps you have an opinion about potentially moving the Winter Olympics in light of Russia’s new anti-gay laws. Write about that. Write about it in a way that makes a person care about the subject you're talking about. Write selflessly. Write, not because you want to amaze people with your incredible vocabulary and impeccable rhetoric, but because this particular topic matters to you.
Not one for journalism? Look outside. How is it today? If you're one for novel writing, you will probably end up writing about the weather at least once in your lovely little story. Step outside. Breathe it in. Experience the weather with all your senses. Write about that. Write about it in a way that makes a person feel like they're in the middle of a blistering heat wave in January. Write about it in a way that makes a person feel the sun on their face even when it's been raining for days.
Think writing about the weather is too pedestrian? Look at the people around you. Think about your interactions with them. Think about their looks, their personality, the way they handle what life throws at them. Think about their shortcomings, their fatal flaws, their advantages. Write about that. Write about it in a way that makes a person sympathize -- or despise -- them. Write about it in a way that makes a person feel like they personally know who you are writing about. Write about it in a way that makes a person want to know more about your character, regardless as to whether your character is good or evil.
Write about textures, sounds, smells. Write about that damn cup of coffee that is sitting next to you and give zero cares about how clichéd such a description has become. Explore what you can say about it. See if there is something new hidden beneath the surface.
Think you don't have the words? Try again. Close your eyes and type. The first draft is going to suck anyway. Get used to this bit of information. Make sentences that you know you'll delete in an hour. Write words that you know will be replaced. Feel the freedom in knowing that an entire language -- perhaps even more than one language -- is at your complete mercy. Realize the power you have in creating, killing, rearranging them. You have a 20,000-strong army at your complete disposal. Act like the commander that you are and use them.
Still feel like you have nothing to write about? The problem isn't the lack of topics, then. The problem is a lack of initiative.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I have never painted a room in my entire life. And now, here I am, taping up window frames, laying out the drop cloth, and rolling on primer. It is a ton of work, even for just one room, and as we've learned, that wonderful painter's tape that seems to fall over on itself if there is even a speck of dust on the wall loves pulling off paint if you don't pull it off perfectly (yeah, remember those commercials where they just effortlessly tug at the tape and it comes unattached from the wall, all the way up to the ceiling? Fucking lies).
It has been frustrating, to say the least, to pull tape off of edges, only to find that paint leaked through anyway, or that we'd have to redo an entire area because the tape tore a solid chunk off the wall (and this was with Frogger Tape -- the wide, green tape that loses it's mind if you touch the adhesive before placing it on the wall).
Given the frustrations that painting is giving me, it's very tempting to throw my hands up and say, "Fuck it! Tell the painters to do this room, too." But I need to persevere and learn how to paint.
Why? It's the same reason why I run. I pride myself on efficiency and usefulness. That drive to be useful -- to change a tire or fix a cabinet door -- is only made more powerful in light of the advancements in technology. More and more devices do the thinking for you. Shit, my phone saw my emails confirming a meeting with the agency and let me know the directions to said agency, with a request to add the meeting to my calendar. A little freaky, especially given all that has been going on with the government, but hey, welcome to the future.
I'm one of those people who sees movies like Idiocracy and Wall-E as an actual, viable future for humans (assuming we don't blow each other up beforehand). Just a lot of dumb, malnurished individuals who let the machines do all the thinking for you. And I let that be the catalyst I need to learn something new (and difficult).
Besides, throwing up my hands when painting gets frustrating would only result in paint getting all over me. I need to be reasonable, here.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
I'm going to pause right here and say that people telling you that you should model is not a good indicator of modeling ability. And a word of advice: if you are thinking about going into the modeling world, do NOT tell people that, "Everyone says I should model." The lay person has no clue what being a successful model entails and it makes you look vapid. Unless the person who told you that you should model is a talent director at an agency, prove that you can be a model through your actions, not gossip.
But still, it was people's insistence that I model that I got into modeling in the first place. Extraordinarily tiny stuff at first. A local songwriter who wanted album art for a demo song. A graphic designer who needed a base for his project. I started branching out a little bit and eventually caught the attention of an agency in Boston. I got a decent amount of work with them -- to be perfectly honest, there's not much out there when you're a size 6 (instead of a 2 or 4) at 5'11", even in a market like Boston. Mostly bridal stuff (since sample sizes in bridal gowns are European size 8), which I'm eternally grateful for (I ended up finding The Dress at the very first bridal boutique I ever worked with).
A lot has changed since I was signed in 2008. I actually have a meeting next Friday that could be nothing, or it could it everything (that about narrows it down, doesn't it?). We'll see if walking away from the teaching world was just the push I needed to contact people I was petrified of contacting before.
But modeling is a funny thing for me. I do it, it's a part of me, but I minimize in my real life. I do that for two reasons: girls who flaunt the fact that they "model" are either delusional or stuck up. They are usually also downright begging for attention: I remember one model I worked with kept talking about a "big reveal" that she was ashamed to admit. After building it up for a week, she revealed the unrevealable: she *gulp* modeled!! Her reveal was then followed by a flood of images from her modeling days, complete with constant references from the time that revealed that she modeled and multiple offers to do a Q&A.
People also tend to get images in their head when they find out you model: that you are, in fact, stuck up, that you're rolling in the dough, that you're meeting mad celebs left and right. To clear the air: I have never met celebrities through modeling. I've met a few comics after their shows (and skeeved hardcore on Casey Affleck while at a Mexican restaurant in Cambridge). I think I walked by Cameron Diaz once when she was in Boston filming Knight and Day. But that's about it. And the closest I came to rolling in the dough was when I looked at my husband's and my savings account right before we put an offer on our house (and that was after years of serious saving). I'd like to think I'm not stuck up, but I'll let other people be the judge of that.
So yeah -- it's not glamorous, it's certainly not a money-making gig (full-time models in busy markets like New York or Miami can hope to make about $25,000-30,000/year. That's essentially what my salary was as a teacher), but I love doing it. There's a whole plethora of reasons why: it's a challenge, I'm creating art, etc, etc, etc. But one of the reasons why I love to model is because of Model Me.
I liken how I am when I model to Beyonce's Sasha Fierce. I don't believe in alternative personalities, but I do believe that certain circumstances bring up aspects of your own personality that usually don't see the light of day. For me, modeling makes me an outgoing, social person. I go from the girl who tends to cast her eyes if someone is looking at her to the girl who'll stride right up to someone and shake their hand. I talk without worrying about what they could be thinking about me. I'm dancing in public and getting other people to dance with me. I possess a confidence as the model version of me that I wish I had in any other occasion.
So only time will tell if there is any more to my chapter as a model. I am 26, going on 27 (which is way past retirement age in the modeling world). I'm probably in the best physical shape of my life (even better than when I first got signed), but I'm still a size 6 ("chubby", by modeling standards). The cards are stacked against me. But that won't stop me from having fun. This started out as a fun hobby, and I'm perfectly okay if it continues to be that way.
Friday, August 9, 2013
I'm also not doing yoga, or tai chi, or any strenuous exercise. I'm sitting at a computer, sipping on coffee, and watching the rain fall. It's actually quite poetic -- the type of scenario writers dream of.
Last night I learned in my sleep that stretching out my right knee to the point that it hyperextends (which is something my knees have done since I was a kid) causes a sharp pain to run from my kneecap all the way up my leg. I got up in the morning, bent my knee a little, and found that I wasn't in pain when I stood, even when I stood with my knees locked (because I'm too curious for my own good. Something hurts? Let me poke and prod at it until I know exactly what and how). But if I shifted my weight over to my left leg and stretched/hyperextended my knee, the pain was there again.
I was warned by my husband, who is the son of a doctor (like a proper Irish person, I'm too stubborn to actually seek medical help unless the situation is dire. So I ask my husband for advice when it's within his grasp of the human anatomy, I ask my husband to ask his dad when it gets a little more serious, and only then will I consider actually calling up a doctor to make an appointment), that I need to stay off my knee for at least a week, preferably two. That means no running, "modified" tai chi (since I'm queen of the side note here, I'll digress and say that the image of tai chi that most people have is usually the modified tai chi that elderly people do in the park. Tai chi without the modifications is quite strenuous on your legs and knees), and gentle yoga.
A good chunk of people would jump on the chance to not have to work out. But as I've mentioned before, I run because I downright need it. I'm a happier, better person when I run long distance. Not to mention I have a few big things coming up that requires a non-injured knee and constant training: I am teaching two demo classes at the end of August as well as running the Ashland half-marathon at the end of October.
I know injury is a part of life for anyone who is physically active (just look at So You Think You Can Dance and the sheer number of people who have to drop out because of injury), but slowing down has never been my strong suit. I'm the queen of biting off more than she can chew -- if only because I like seeing just how far I can push my limits (on top of because I don't admit defeat easily). I'm the girl who planned a wedding while working full time, took classes at night, moved to a new state (where the move happened essentially a week before the wedding, with the first place officially closed up the day after), and modeled part-time (I know that was over two years ago but I'm still impressed with myself dammit). I'm the girl who "won" NaNoWriMo even when her computer was out of commision for a week (there's a lovely little post I have on my crafts blog about the panic attack I had when my computer kicked the bucket right when NaNoWriMo was picking up speed -- and I didn't have a back-up of my novel yet), even when she was helping her brother-in-law with his wedding (another side note: while the days leading up to his wedding were quite hectic, I got to spend every morning writing poolside in Florida. How can you beat that?)
But really, I have no choice. The same way I don't want to be the 50-year-old who can't play fetch with his dog, I don't want to be the athlete who is out of commision forever because he wouldn't take the time to heal. I don't want to be the 35-year-old whose heart gives out because she was straining it too much. It's frustrating, having to delay training when training is all you want to do, but, really, I have no choice. Right now I've angered my knee. Not torn (given that I can, gee, still walk). Possibly strained. Definitely angered. And, like someone who is angered but keeps getting prodded, my knee could potentially snap if I'm not careful.
So I might as well take advantage of my sedentary position and write. Stephen King wrote Dreamcatchers from his hospital bed. I have no excuse not to write my newest manuscript from my dining room table.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
We closed on a house in mid July, barely days after we returned from our roadtrip. We had been casually looking at houses for nearly 6 months before we got a realtor involved, and continued looking at houses for an additional three. Between the casually-looked-over houses, the houses we visited with our realtor, and the houses we wanted to visit (but went off the market just as we brought them to the attention of our realtor), we probably had looked at nearly 50 properties. My mother-in-law compared house-hunting to wedding dress-shopping: when you know, you know. It'll just feel right.
This was definitely the case for us. We had originally said that our "perfect house" was a four bedroom house, same-level garage (as opposed to a basement garage), with tiled floors for the entranceway and kitchen, and an entirely carpeted upstairs. On a rather chilly May day, we walked into a three-bedroom, basement-garaged house with hardwood kitchen floors, and knew we found home.
When you know, you know. My husband and I making faces at each other and surreptitiously giving each other the thumbs up signal was essentially the equivalent of my bridesmaids and I crying together when I walked out wearing The Dress.
Ah, if only financing a house was as easy as financing a dress.
We quickly learned that the headaches don't go away when you make an offer on a house (and the original owners accept it). We quickly learned that it doesn't matter if you have great credit, or a good job, or are a standup human being with nothing so much as a parking ticket to your name (okay, I do have a parking ticket to my name. But it was a bullshit one in Boston for not pulling into my metered spot all the way).
The headaches going through the mortgage process was unparalleled. From nitpicking every transaction we had ever made in the last 6 months, to downright calling us on the day of closing, wanting additional proof that we could afford the down payment and closing costs (although, as anyone who has dealt with closing days knows, we already had that money in hand, as a cashier's check, just waiting to be pushed over to the original owner's side). It got so bad that we drove to the house, only to have to drive back and resign something because certain higher ups had changed their mind on how a certain document should be signed. Honestly, I felt like I was in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, because it felt that absurd.
But thankfully that's all in the past. The house is now (very much) ours. We have spent every weekend for the last 3 weeks coming up to the house, dropping off boxes in the basement on our way from the basement garage (because hey, every box we casually bring over is a box we don't have to pay movers to carry), and working on various home improvement projects. From scrubbing the overhead light fixtures to running three different sets of cable (television, cable, and stereo -- for a stereo system we don't even own yet). From picking out new paint colors to using the original paint colors to paint over where we cut open the walls.
With any luck, we'll be moving into the house by the end of the month. Actually moving. With movers (because this isn't college anymore and I'm not going to pay my friends to lug my couch across a parking lot for free pizza). We have our apartment until mid-November thanks to my leasing company's draconian lease-breaking law, but hey, the burn of 2 1/2 months rent for an empty apartment is somewhat ameliorated when we pretend that it's just part of closing costs. It'll be nice, moving into an actual house, with an actual kitchen -- a kitchen where I don't have to decide if I want to use the toaster OR the cutter board (because there's not enough room for both, lest you cut your food over the stove).
It's all yet another reminder that I am very much an adult now. A fact I will vehemently deny, even after I start having children.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Today was my first run since I angered my ACL. I wrapped my trusty kneebrace around my right knee (a kneebrace that has seen every run I've done for the last 6 months, because I'm always doing something to injure my knees), and went. I got about 4.8 miles in today, which is not exactly impressive in my book anymore (especially since I'm trying to train up to at least 10 miles in preparation for my half marathon in October and potentially the Chicago Marathon next year), but it was nice to get back into the swing of things.
So it's no wonder that I got back and my first thought was, "I should write about running today." Which begs the question: what about running? People get into running for all sorts of reasons. Some get into it for all the wrong reasons: "I want to lose 5 pounds." "I want to be skinny." Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
So, why do I run? (Aside from the fact that my mom used to call me her little track star when I would bolt from the schoolyard to her car.) While there usual benefits are there (health, physical fitness), there are other reasons. Which I will list below:
1. I run because I want to be physically fit. I like being able to sprint across a parking lot and not be out of breath. I like getting from floor 1 to floor 5 of an office building and not be clinging to the handrail by floor 3. I value efficiency. My body is no exception.
2. I run because the human body is capable of amazing things. Ever heard of ultra-marathons? These races make the Boston Marathon look like a quick jog around the park. Some of these races can last for days -- days -- spanning sometimes hundreds of miles. And people run them. There's a man who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. People climb Mt. Everest and swim the English channel and push Mack trucks uphill. The human body is capable of some incredible feats, and I feel like I'm wasting the gift I've been given if I spend my time sitting around and being idle.
3. I run because of the zombie apocalypse. This one is obviously facetious, but with a serious point underneath. Pretending to run from zombie attacks can be fun. In fact, I have an app on my phone where I go on missions and outrun zombies during my everyday run. But, in all seriousness, I run because, in the event of an emergency, I want to be able to do what I need to do to survive, and to help others survive. If I need to run across a battlefield or away from a collapsing building, I want to know I can be able to do it.
4. I run because endorphins are the best free drug. They've actually come out with a study that says that runner's high is akin to illicit drug use in terms of effects on your brain. Don't believe me? Talk to a runner after a marathon. They are as high as a kite. Endorphins + adrenaline = free high.
5. I run because I can't meditate, but need to. This one is probably the biggest reason why I run. The biggest problem with a creative brain is that it never shuts off (and I'm going to be so bold as to call myself a creative type). For crying out loud, my brain continues to run a mile a minute even when I sleep (just ask my husband. I chat, walk, sing, explore, even pontificate in my sleep).
I've tried meditation before, and it's just not for me. I can achieve a solid 10 seconds of not thinking about anything when I'm in the middle of a serious yoga class, but that's the extent of it. Give my brain a chance to think and it will. Oh, it will.
"Hey, remember that time, you said that thing, and it was embarrassing?" "Hey, after meditation, you should go to the gas station."
"Hey, remember that time, you did that thing, and it was embarrassing?"
"Hey, what's that song you know, the song that goes like this: da da, da-da-da, da da, da-da-da..."
"Hey, do you think you have any text messages? You know how you get about responding text messages.
"Hey, remember that time, when that person did that thing, and it really upset you?" "Hey, what's the next chapter going to be about? Maybe you should do a flashback. Or a driving scene. Does the main character fight with another character in these scene? Maybe they should. Or hint at that they want to. But they don't. What do you think???"
This doesn't necessarily go away at first when I run. In fact, that chatterbox is front and center, paired with a whining voice that doesn't get why we're running and wants to turn around (as well as a demotivational voice who says things like, "Hey, you just ran 2 miles. Good enough! Let's go home and eat some chicken nuggets.") And they stay there, for Mile 1, Mile 2...but somewhere about Mile 3 or 4, their voices get a little softer. Mile 5, and I can barely hear them. By Mile 6, it's all about me, my music, and my run. And that's why I lace up my running shoes, even when I don't feel like it. That's why I'm striving to run 10 miles in a typical day. That's why I hope to someday run the Chicago, the New York, and hopefully the Boston Marathon someday. Because I find zen when I run. And because everything else pales in comparison in terms of finding it.
So Day 3 is turning out to be the biggest of the blog posts. I can't guarantee it will always be like this, but who knows. Maybe I'll have a writing epiphany and spew out incredible articles and essays with zero effort. Or maybe we'll see a lot of "I have nothing to write about. Shit, shit, shit." posts. We'll see.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Today, I am more or less immobile. I angered my right ACL after doing sprint intervals without a knee brace. I didn't realize how angry my ACL was until I practiced one of my tai chi forms, only to get searing pain run up my kneecap whenever I tried to do anything that involve serious knee-bending. Combine that with my ongoing issues with my left knee and I'm left with no choice but to lay low for at least a day.
The ACL seems to be the Injured Tendon of Choice when it comes to professional athletes, especially football players. On the one hand, it makes me feel a little badass: I'm dealing with the same injuries as the athletes who get millions of dollars to play sports. The only drawback is that I don't get paid like a professional athlete, on any level, even after you factored in my salary when I was a teacher. And right now, given that I'm essentially retired, I'm on par with ball boys in tennis in terms of payment. So, if I'm going to get injured like an athlete, can someone at least throw a few bucks my way?
All kidding aside, having to delay physical activity due to injury is across the board frustrating. I'm currently training to run the Ashland Half Marathon in October, and every day spent in injury is another day I'm not prepared for 13.1 miles. I'm also an endorphin junkie, so going too long without any physical exercise leaves me grouchy.
But everything pales in comparison to the realization that the aging process has begun. I do not have the same body that I had as a 14-year-old sprinter in high school. I can't eat pavement and walk away with nothing but a skinned knee anymore. I'm more susceptible to injury and I take longer to heal. I need things like knee braces and NSAIDs -- purely for precautionary measures. And it's only going to get worse. This realization is enough to send anyone into an existential tailspin, which I have time to do, since I'm not currently on a run or at a yoga class.
Frustrations aside, I can't let it stop me. I want to be that 80-year-old marathon runner. Not the 50-year-old who can't make it up a few flights of stairs. Part of me wishes that the younger me shared the same fascination I have now with the potential of the human body. But I also recognize that the younger me felt she was immortal and was too busy gushing over boys or hanging out with her friends to really do anything.
Tomorrow's another day. All I can do now is sit back, watch some "Pawn Stars", and pray that my ACL was just angered and not legitimately injured.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Once upon a time, I read an article about a writing professor forcing his students to wrote a blog entry every day for 90 days. The first week was filled with poignant observations, fiction snippets, etc. The next two to three weeks were filled with entries that essentially said, "I have nothing to write about." Some even bemoaned that they didn't know why they were trying to be writers in the first place.
And then, something pretty stellar happened: around the end of the month, students began writing like they never had before, about things that they hadn't written about before. The need to be a perfectionist was gone and they could just write.
For those who don't know me via Trial & Error Creativity, I fancy myself as a bit of a writer. I have two manuscripts (one completed miraculously during NaNoWriMo, more of less) that have been waiting in the wings for years. I did the joyous agency hunt with my first manuscript (which resulted in a lot of bites, but no catches), and I'm now (slowly but surely) editing my second manuscript. I'm also in the process of writing Manuscript #3.
I'm also an unemployed teacher. As I've touched upon on my crafts blog (and more in depth in an Article on Thought Catalogue, I retired from the teaching profession and have been finding my footing ever since. Ideally, I'd just spend all that time writing. But, more and more, I found myself sitting down to my computer to write, only to get a paragraph out, at best.
So I decided to take the writing professor's idea and take it one step further. My goal? A blog post every day for an entire year. I can write whatever I want to write about, for however long I have to write about. The only rule is that it has to be at least three paragraphs long (on top of being a daily occurrence).
So...let's see how this pans out. This might turn out to be the best idea I ever had. This might turn out to be the be worst. Only time will tell. But regardless, this is Day One. Of three hundred, sixty five. And welcome to my blog project.