A Sleep Deprived Post

So it’s nearly 1 am and I’m still awake because I had more McAllister’s sweet tea late at night, what’s UP.

Actually, I was smarter about it because I only had one, and let it get watery before finishing it.  So I’m actually feeling sleepy.  I have heard second-hand (through my mother) that my brother thinks I act like an old person.

WHATEVER PATRICK.

Just because I’m not punk rock enough to enjoy being thrown up against people at shows doesn’t mean I’m OLD.

Whatever.

I brought this up because I’m feeling sleepy after midnight, when I used to stay up without any trouble.  Also, because he may be right.

So, I nearly lost Apollo yesterday. Yep.

It had been a long week, in my semi-defense, even though this fact does not justify my stupid mistake.  I’ve been working nights to stay ahead of the Friday deadline, which worked well.  I finished the most important items by Friday.  While I was really happy that I did not procrastinate for once in my life, I was feeling it by Friday night.  There were some stressful driving events (to the douche tailgating me on a highway when it’s really dark and we’re both going at least 70 mph – WHY? WHY?)  Then I went to Hastings to get some new music (Florence + the Machine’s debut album – yes, I realize I’m three years behind everyone else).  I was feeling guilty about purchasing it – it was $15 at the register and more than I usually spend on CDs, since I try to buy them used. When I walked out, I noted the jewel case was already cracked. I went back inside to exchange it for a pristine copy, but I’d bought the last copy.  The manager handed me an empty jewel case to take home with me.  On the way home, I realized that the new case would do nothing because it was the middle portion (the plastic thingy where you place the CD? I don’t know what the fuck it’s called) was cracked.  Since the new case did not come with a new plastic thingy, I was stuck with a cracked jewel case.

I know many people will not understand what the big deal is, but I spent $15 on a new CD, and I want a nice jewel case to go with it. I griped about it to Boyfriend the entire way home while he listened (very) patiently.  I knew I was being a petulant child at this point, but I couldn’t get myself out of my irritated mood.

When we went inside, I went out to the car to grab a drink I’d left in there, my mind still on my stupid jewel case.  I left the apartment door open as I left. I don’t know what I was thinking, because of course, my puppy decided to follow me.

I heard Boyfriend calling after me and I turned around to see Apollo darting from the door.  My heart sank. It was my worst nightmare.  I’ve had to chase a dachshund puppy before, years ago.  Once, when Harry was a puppy, we took a trip to the beach. My dad took the leash off of Harry, thinking that he’d be obedient and stay next to us, like our old dog Max did.

Nope. Harry bolted.  My dad and I, the runners in the family, proceeded to chase him for a good quarter to half a mile until Harry spotted larger dogs up ahead. He stopped out of fear, allowing us to scoop him up.

But that had been on an isolated beach, in the daytime.  It was night already, and we were only feet away from the parking lot.  If Apollo ran far enough, he could run to the road.

Apollo usually does not listen when we direct him to come to us, but thankfully, luck was on our side. We yelled out, “NO!”  My “no” came out as a strangled cry.  He stopped short;  I think he knew that this was not play time. I scooped him up in my arms and held him tight.

As much as I joked around about how annoyed I get when Apollo eats my carpet, or about shipping him back to the Puppy Store, I absolutely adore my little dog. I never would have forgiven myself if something had happened to him.

Apollo went back inside to chew his toy, oblivious to what could have happened.  I sat watching him, wondering what on earth I’d been thinking by leaving the door open. I felt like it was a direct message from the Universe.  “Are you going to be irritated by something as inconsequential as a jewel case that you are going to leave your DOOR OPEN for your PUPPY TO RUN AWAY, you IDIOT?”

Duly noted, universe. Duly noted.

(Boyfriend gave me a jewel case from one of his CDs, because unlike me, he is normal and doesn’t care if one of his is cracked.  So both stories have a happy ending! YAY!)

Today was just the tonic to the week I needed.  I worked on my crafting project, and bought a new book at Barnes and Noble against my better judgment. I also bought this adorable set of mini-journals. If you go to my apartment, you will see that I am a sucker for journals.  I have so many unfinished ones laying around.  I do have a completed one from 2010.  It’s interesting to leaf through it because it covers an interesting portion of my life – when I was starting to play music with my friend Tap, riding an airplane for the first time in years, being heartbroken over men not worth my time nor effort.  A poem I’d bought off a homeless man from downtown is plastered in there, on a night where I felt like the universe was trying to send me so many messages, personal stories that I was desperate to find any meaning in so I could find some solace.  Like the night a bouncer looked at my ID, looked up at me, and said, “He’s not worth your time.  You know that?”

I was floored.  Was I reading too much into it? Did he say this to every sad-looking woman he saw?  Did I have the rejection written all over my face?

But that night I felt a flicker of hope inside of me.  No, he isn’t, I told myself.  He isn’t!

And he wasn’t.

I read an essay tonight from Joan Didion that I really liked, about the art of journaling.  She wrote something that really struck me – “I think we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them unattractive company or not.”

Yes.

And thus ends a very rambling entry.  Good night!

 

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Losing the Eeyore Outlook – I Need to Give Up Caffeine FOR REAL

I swore I would give up caffeine, and I did, for awhile.  Then once field work started up again, my resolve for not drinking caffeine eventually ebbed.  Drive around for 10 hours a day without caffeine, or risk feeling a little jittery while at least being awake behind the wheel?  The choice was obvious.

I had a lot of caffeine today and it was a stupid choice, because of course, I feel completely jittery and nervous.  I have more field work this week and possibly next.  One of these jobs requires waking up at 4:30 in the morning, driving to another location that is 3.5 hours away, and then driving back the same day.  Caffeine will be my best friend that day.  Realistically, I cannot give up caffeine until these field jobs are completed.

But it’s clear that I need to cut out caffeine from my diet, as well as sugar.  I’ve been downing soda like a fiend, in rebellion to my endocrinologist’s strict lecture last month that I’m well on my way to diabetes at 40 if I do not cut out sugar from my diet. I know it’s immature, but my body has been like GIMME. I LOVE SPRITE. YAY.

The level of worry that generates from an unhealthy balance of caffeine and sugar is not sustainable.  I will pick the things I should not worry about and ruminate over them.  For example – this weekend, Apollo was doing his meth puppy run around the living room when he stopped in front of my sofa.  My sofa has just enough space between its bottom and the carpet for a puppy to crawl beneath.  Apollo started doing exactly that.

I think I can approximate the noise that came from my mouth as something like, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE,” as if a steamroller were coming directly for my puppy.  I froze, hands on my face, unable to move as my puppy wriggled underneath the sofa.

Meanwhile, Boyfriend said calmly, “Come on out, Apollo,” and Apollo did just that.

I felt stupid.  What was I expecting?  A lake of lava hidden underneath my couch that would consume my puppy?  That the sofa would sprout spikes and trap him?  If Apollo had enough room to wriggle underneath it, of course he’d be able to come out from under it.

I look to my brother as inspiration as how I want to approach my life.  He is the complete opposite of me.  Chill and easygoing, he always thinks positively about situations, even when facing personal disappointments.  He abhors cynicism and strives for zen and balance.

It’s funny how our personalities are formed.  Even as babies, our personalities were already set.  Patrick was a calm, cheerful baby who slept through the night.  According to my parents, I was a demon baby who cried all the time, who never wanted to go to sleep, who was up at all hours of the night.  Patrick was the zen baby, while I was go-go-go infant.

Cutting out caffeine and sugar will be just one step for embracing a positive life.

 

Losing the Eeyore Outlook

When I was little, I used to love Winnie-the-Pooh.  My favorite character was Piglet, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown partial to Eeyore.

Not only is he adorable (I have a stuffed animal of him at home that I keep in my room), but I feel like we are very similar.  This is our shared mantra:

While I still love Eeyore, it’s time to lose a lot of his outlook.  While I consider myself a happy person, I can’t say that I’m an optimist.  I vary anywhere from a realist to a pessimist to even a cynic, if the mood is right.

Several years ago, I decided to change my life because I was sick and tired of being unhappy. I was so motivated to change that my quality of life improved and a lot of my sadness ebbed away for the first time in years. I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to reboot the same way I did several years ago; not because I’m unhappy, but because my attitude is starting to affect the way I view my life. For instance, I start feeling sad on Sunday nights and Mondays.  It’s arguable that I have an understandable reason for feeling sad on these days, but isn’t living positively a better way of getting through these two days? Besides, it’s not like it will be Sunday or Monday forever.  The week flies by pretty quickly once Monday is finished and it will soon be Friday, my favorite day, before I know it.

(Saying Friday is my favorite day is pretty useless, right? It’s like saying, “I enjoy breathing.”)

Another facet of myself I’d really love to change is my penchant for worrying. I won’t get into it too much, but those who know me well understand that I have a hard time shutting the worrying off.  I saw something like this flowchart on my brother’s Facebook, and was immediately irritated:

Oh! It’s that easy! Okay, I’ll just stop worrying then. If only!  I understand the point of this chart – to illustrate that worrying about a problem cannot change the outcome.  I get and accept this.  Still, it’s hard to stop worrying about something, especially if it’s all you know.

I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and it’s an excellent book so far.  She felt like she was an otherwise happy person, but not as happy as she could be.  The author took a series of projects and goals for a year to see if her happiness would be increased in any measure.  The book is separated by her goals for the month (i.e. February is for love, March is for work, etc).  The author is not didactic and freely admits when she makes mistakes or does not accomplish a goal as well as she should, making her completely relatable.

It won’t be easy or overnight, but I’ve learned that the most effective changes will occur in increments.  I will update my blog if I make any substantial progress. I just want to lose my sometimes dour outlook, especially if I have so much to be grateful for!  Having a positive attitude works wonders, and that I want to be my default attitude from now on.

Tuesday Night

I have not made a secret of the fact that my transition to this city was difficult.  I was lonely, isolated, and couldn’t ever see myself ever being happy.  This song (which is perfection, as far as I’m concerned) comforted me during some unhappy moments.  There’s the nostalgia element associated with it – my dad loves this song.  But more than that, the lyrics always made me think, especially, “Another year and then you’ll be happy, just one more year and then you’ll be happy.  But you’re crying, you’re crying now.”

That particular line always resonated with me.  I would be so happy if X happened, I told myself.  I had a list of things that I wanted to happen in my life.  And as I started crossing items off that list, I would always add another item to it.

As I listened to this song today, I thought, when will that end?  When will I stop thinking in the future?  Why can’t I enjoy the present instead of constantly thinking of new milestones that I must check off my list?  The things making me sad this morning are ephemeral. My puppy will sleep through the night and get potty-trained. I won’t always have to do field work.  I won’t always be separated from my friends and family.

My mood improved dramatically. I talked to my loved ones and felt bolstered by their support.  I went home at lunch to see my pup.  We cuddled, went for a walk, and played fetch.  We spent a lot of time together this evening.  He is a very good puppy and is adjusting much better today than he was yesterday (perhaps not having to get shots from the vet today has helped!) He is in his crate right now and (knocking heavily on wood) he is not crying right now, where at this time last night, he was.  He is still not completely fond of his crate, but his attitude towards it is improving every day.  I put a ticking clock on top of it so that it will soothe him to sleep.

I can’t live in the future. All I can do is appreciate the present, and be the best person I can be to the people who love me.

I should probably sleep, considering I didn’t get much of it last night.

 

Thank God I’m Not a Teenager Anymore

So this week was one of those tough, emotionally shitty weeks where there is a happy ending, but you have to be miserable for awhile first before you get it. My experiences this week made me do a compare/contrast analysis of my eighteen-year-old self to my nearly twenty-eight-year-old self, and how I would have handled a similar situation back then. Answer – not well.  It’s hard to believe that being eighteen was nearly a decade ago, but I’m grateful that this particular stage of my life is behind me.

Because, true story – I was kind of crazy at 18. And who isn’t?  I was selfish, I was emotionally impulsive, and I was entirely too stubborn for my own good.  I realized recently that though my main path in life has been “goody-goody,” I’ve still made tons of mistakes.  Making the leap from childhood to adulthood is never an easy transition, and it was a long, hard struggle for me.

But I’m grateful for my past and what it’s taught me, because I wouldn’t be here today without all those cringe-inducing moments (like the time I called up a guy and yelled at him months after an altercation had taken place between us.  YAY FOR NINETEEN! WHAT A GREAT AGE!)  I don’t feel like I’m an entirely wise woman yet, but I feel like I’m much more empathetic and considerate than I used to be.  I try very hard to see two sides of a situation and even harder not to act solely based on my emotions, like I used to.

My twenties have been completely revelatory, especially twenty-seven. With age comes increased responsibility, wrinkles, and white hair, but you know what? I’ll take it.  I’d much rather accrue wisdom as I get older rather than be that starry-eyed but somewhat insane teenager sitting in her dorm room and having a pinhole view of the world.

Enough about that.

Two friends of mine recently became engaged, and I am very happy for them.  They have been together for a long time and are very much in love.  Congratulations – may you have a happy and beautiful life together.

It’s after midnight and since I got maybe five hours of sleep last night, I should probably go to bed.  Good night everyone! Friday is oh so close.

Simultaneous Maturation and Regression

I have many pictures of family and friends hanging in my cube.  One is of me and my high school best friend.  It was Spring Break 2003, and I am just 18. The other was taken last week of me and someone I love.

The pictures hang next to each other, and I can’t help comparing the two.  The toothy grin and hair color are the same, but my face is fuller in the second picture.  I am not as thin as I was in college.  My hair is slightly more sophisticated, and I wear a little more makeup.  In the first picture I look…younger.

Of course I look younger.  The picture was taken nearly ten years ago.  But sometimes it’s hard to see just how much you’ve changed until you compare yourself to an old photograph.  I wear more make-up now than in my fresh-faced college years (but not TOO much makeup. I don’t like looking like one of those old ladies who want to sell you expensive makeup at the mall).  For years, I could see only incremental changes when looking at old photographs of myself.  Now, I think, “…oh. I actually am starting to look my age.”

If I go on a college campus, I no longer feel like I can blend in the crowd.  Don’t get me wrong; people still confuse me for being younger than I am, which is a genetic blessing.  But I feel different when I’m on a college campus. I no longer feel like I can go incognito. I feel…old.

I know I’m still technically young, but I’m two years away from thirty.  There are small lines appearing under my eyes and around my lips – “laugh lines,” I suppose (or frown lines, depending on the day).  Stubborn white hairs insist on growing even if I try to dye or pluck them away.

I feel so much older, especially throughout the past couple of months.  This year has been full of joys that I hadn’t been expecting (wait, that sentence makes me sound like I’m pregnant or something.  Let me say – no.)  But it’s also been full of tension, stress, frustration, and anxiety, much of it self-imposed.

It’s not like I have a dangerous job that adds to the stress and worry.  Sure, my job can be stressful at times, but I sit in a cube in front of a computer all day. It’s not like I’m a first responder or anything.

I look older and I just feel older.  I feel more mature in many aspects.  A good friend noted this as we were having one of those long discussions that friends have after a particularly nasty argument.  “You’re being really mature about all this,” he said, and he sounded almost surprised that I could be that mature.  I find myself changing my ways of thinking and analyzing situations. I try and strive to be more pragmatic, logical, to react without letting my emotion get to me first.  It’s a tricky battle and not one I always win.

And yet, for all this supposed maturation, I still feel so young sometimes. I still struggle to find the optimum budget.  I got pulled over a month or two ago and issued two warnings – one for speeding, and one for having a car registration expired for two months…and even after all that, I JUST got my registration renewed last Friday (you can expect a blog on that misadventure in the future).  I did my taxes on MONDAY NIGHT.  I try and do the right thing, and still end up hurting someone without even trying.

I want to be a proficient musician. I want to be a good writer. I want to enjoy running again (which is finally starting to happen). I want to be intelligent. I want to be a hard worker. I want to be a good daughter, a loyal friend, a loving girlfriend.  I try so hard to be everything and sometimes I’m too exhausted and incapable to succeed.

I was talking to my mother yesterday about various worries and concerns, and she said, “You take life too seriously.” My mother.  You don’t want to hear that from your parents. Parents are supposed to tell you to get with it, Jennifer Nicole, to pay attention and get your shit together (which is what my father would say regardless).

And on that note, I end this entry.

Three Things: Sketches From the Field

I.  I was putting samples away when I heard the bark. I turned around to see a large dog resembling a pit bull.  He was barking furiously at me. I froze.  I had been told stray dogs were around this property, but I hadn’t seen one until now.  The neighbors adjacent to the property kept their dogs chained up. The dogs barked all day, with sad, frantic barks that made my coworker and I think they were abused.  As the dog growled menacingly at me, I wondered if he was from the property next door and had somehow escaped.

When I was in high school, my dad and I were completing one of our early morning runs when a pack of dogs started running after us.  My dad had dropped his voice to a growl and said forcefully, “GET OUT OF HERE.”  The dogs scattered.  “You can’t show fear,” he had said afterward.  “They sense it.”

As the dog barked at me, I thought about that encounter and considered my options – would I have enough time to jump in the truck if he decided to charge at me?  Channeling my dad with all my might, I straightened my shoulders, dropped my voice, and shouted, “GET OUT OF HERE.”

The dog continued barking, so a whole lot of good that did.

I tried again, but even I could sense the weakness in my voice.  Finally, mustering my strength, I lowered my voice to a low register and bellowed, “GET OUT OF HERE.”

The dog stopped barking and looked at me.  Then it retreated with its tail between its legs.

Not gonna lie – that kind of made me feel like a badass.

II.  I went inside the gas station to purchase ice.  It was shady-looking on the outside, with bars hanging ominously on the windows.  Inside, the red decorations did nothing to brighten up the place.  Greasy food sat unappealingly on the counter, waiting to make the person to eat it miserable. “Oh God, don’t ever eat there,” my coworker had warned me. “No, no, no, no, no.”

As I purchased the ice, the cashier looked at me, and pointed at my sweatshirt, which bore the name of my alma mater.  “Is it okay that you’re missing school today?” she asked with apparent concern.

I couldn’t help smiling.  I told her that I’m no longer in school, adding, “I’m 27.”  “Oh my gosh,” she said, surprised.  “You look so young!”

When I’m out in the field, I don’t wear any makeup, so I do look much younger.  The older I get, the more I crave this mistaken youth.  I will be 28 in the summer; I know this isn’t old. I know this.  But I look at my face and see trace signs of laugh lines and crinkles around my eyes, despite the anti-aging creams I use. If I purchase alcohol, getting carded is no longer a guarantee.  Stubborn strands of white are starting to appear amongst my dark hair. I was at my alma mater a couple of weeks ago and when I visited the library, I couldn’t get over just how young everyone looked. Then I realized that these students had been in elementary school when I had started college ten years ago.

So if someone thinks I’m still in college?  I’ll take it.

III.  If you get along with the person you’re working with, you’ll talk. A lot.  You really get to know your coworker during these trips.  Only once did I have a terrible working experience, where silences punctuated our bickering. But most of the time, I really enjoy the time I spend with a coworker out in the field.  You will hear travel stories, confessionals, salacious bits of gossip about coworkers.

Eventually, the job will tire you and conversation lulls.  This is the perfect time for self-reflection, especially since you usually are out in the middle of an empty field. I can’t say that it’s always the most scenic-looking field.  But there might be a cow or horse keeping you company, and you find yourself staring at the empty expanse of land in front of you.  The sun might be sitting prettily in the sky, and you realize you are grateful to be out here, in the middle of nowhere, reviewing what you’ve done with your life to get yourself here, right now, in the middle of this field.

The field, if you haven’t guessed, is the perfect setting to think deep thoughts – when you aren’t working, of course.

As I sat on my bucket, waiting to take my samples, I allowed myself to be lost in my thoughts.  Like many people, I wear multiple hats and I try my best to balance the multiple roles I juggle in life.  I strive to be a good daughter, an awesome sister, a loving girlfriend, a loyal friend, a hardworking employee, a dedicated runner, an interesting writer, a competent musician.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t occupy these roles with perfection all at once.  I struggle to find harmony between my roles to make everyone happy, and I cannot.  It bothers me when I can’t.

But it all goes back to Radiohead – “If you can try the best you can, the best you can is good enough.”