Category Archives: Modern Life

What It’s Like to Not Get Enough Sleep: Then vs. Now

wow tired.

wow tired.

When I was younger, sleep was stupid. It seemed pointless, an inexplicable wet blanket forever dampening the fun of living. The less I slept, the better. Middle school sleepovers were judged solely on how late I stayed up.

High school parties (which for me mostly consisted of Apples to Apples) were only cool if they went past twelve o’clock. Staying up all night was something to aspire to. In college I got as little sleep as possible and averaged 5 or 6 and a half hours of sleep a night, not including the all-nighters I would pull during finals week.

I remember the smell of my own musk coming from my armpit one early morning in the library. Instead of being disgusted with my state, I thought only of how noble and inspiring my struggle was against the clock and my own biological necessities.

Sure, sometimes I didn’t feel great the next day. I would see black specks or forget simple things and have digestion problems, but those all went away with just one conversation with a hot guy. Then, the vigor of life would course through my veins and my body would forget all about the eight hours I spent pacing in the study hall. Sometimes, in fact, I felt like my skills were sharpened by the lack of sleep. I felt funnier, more inventive, less inhibited. I felt invincible.

Times have changed. Last night I got only six and a half hours of sleep. In college, that would have been more than enough to fuel a day of doodling in class and meals with friends, but my body is not my college body and my mind is not my college mind. Colors seem pale in a world full of ash. Nothing is easy. Sentences are hard to form and usually the words get mixed up in my head before they come out and then there’s only a small chance they make any sense.

Talking to new humans is an almost impossible task, as is any kind of ambition or self-discipline. I think of eating chips and ice cream. My dreams of achieving my dreams seem laughable. Distances have multiplied between familiar places and all around in my brain there is a thick fog, denser even than the fog that covers San Francisco at this very moment. There is no triumph here, nothing noble or satisfying about denying myself the rest my body clearly needs.

Instead of pride, I feel shame. How could I have done this to myself? What damage have I done to this earthly vessel and to others by leaving the house without proper rest? Surely great evil has come about in the world because people have not and are not sleeping enough. Surely I have done a great evil by doing this.

This is not living. No – this is purgatory, a state similar to life but devoid of everything that brings it color and meaning and it is no substitute.

I’ve learned much in my post-college years about what is true and what isn’t true. Sleep is a true thing. Therefore, let us raise our glasses and our pillows in a solemn toast to fight the good fight against sleep theft and get the winks our bodies need and deserve.

 

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30 Ways to Measure My Life, and Maybe Yours Too

You might be familiar with the poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. If not, you should read it here or listen to me read it here (yes, this happened.) It’s a beautiful poem, and one that might make you think. This is an excerpt I particularly like:

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

On a related note, I recently started taking calcium every day in the form of a chocolate chew. I take one every morning, after I drink my coffee so my mouth is warm and it makes the chocolate flavor taste better. Every day a chew, every day a wrapper – a little trace of my life. It got me thinking – what else could I measure my life in? What are the other little traces? So you can read them below, and some are measurable and some are less so. As an added challenge, I drew some of these things.

I have measured out my life with:

  1. Calcium chew wrappers calcium_chew_wrappers
  2. Empty coffee cups 
  3. Used strands of floss
  4. Birthday cards
  5. LinkedIn connections
  6. Pounds gained and lost over the past yearsscale
  7. GPA
  8. Salary
  9. Facebook friends and tagsfacebook_friend
  10. Words written
  11. Email drafts
  12. Journal entries
  13. Ink stains on the bed
  14. Kitkat wrappers found in bed.
  15. Boarding passes
  16. Ticket stubs
  17. Number of pimples popped pimple
  18. Number of emails answered
  19. Protein bar wrappers 
  20. Burned matches
  21. Takeaway boxes
  22. Onion peelsonion_peel
  23. Shopping bags
  24. High fives
  25. Hugs
  26. LaughsIt's laughter, though it looks like vomit
  27. Belly laughs
  28. The kind of laugh where you laugh so hard you cry
  29. Minutes spent living. 
  30. Minutes spent like, actually living. 
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The Best Thing I Have Ever Written*


open_mouth_breathing

*This is how I felt immediately after writing this blog post. Upon reading it through a couple of times, I’m not so sure this is true. Nevertheless, the title remains.

You can feel it when you meet someone, when they let you in on their jokes or if you find they prefer to be the one making all the jokes or if they want you to entertain them, or if they expect something of you that you’re not going to give them.

Social interaction is a drug. It’s hard. It’s something most people have to do. It’s why humans are animals and animals are some of humans’ favorite things, because somewhere in there we’re laughing because what if we were the ones sniffing each other’s butts and isn’t that pretty much what’s happening at bars on Friday night anyways?

It can be wanting to be loved and cherished by everyone and wanting to get invited to their birthday parties, even the ones where you have to dress up and wear pearls and pretend that you like shaving your armpits because it’s better to have parties to refuse than no parties to go to at all.

It’s pretending to like people that you don’t like and pretending to hate people that you’re in love with and finding those people that you don’t have to pretend for, ever, and those are the best people of all. Because they’ll see you say something incredibly stupid in a crowd of people and know that that one statement isn’t who you are, because none of us are just one thing or just one sentence. And we have the lizard part of our brain and the dog part of our brain and the robot part of our brain and the iPhone and the troll and we’re all living together under one roof and sometimes it gets really crowded in here and a little smelly because – let’s be honest – we’re smelly people and the sheets have that human scent to them, but it’s kind of nice in the way that it’s a smell that reminds you where you are and signals to your body that it’s okay here, you can sleep with your mouth open.

And social interaction is everyone being the person that sleeps with their mouth open but only some people are allowed to know about that part of their lives even though if you took it one level beneath the surface you would see – and you would really see – that everyone has these embarrassing secrets that they only reveal to true friends and that we’re more alike than different even though we don’t know everyone’s names or their whole stories but that’s okay because sometimes words just get in the way of things and besides in 1,000-10,000 years all the words we use will be obsolete anyways and our Facebook pictures will have decomposed into virtual fossils that scientists will have to try to understand because our cultural customs – why are we always grinning at the camera – don’t make any sense anymore.

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

And the only thing that will be left after all is said and done is the feeling in the air and in the soul of every living thing that there were other living things here on this earth that felt things towards one another and created things together and despite their very thick skulls that kept them apart, managed to communicate something of who they were to another and were able to be heard. And it will be nothing more than an electromagnetic exhaust in the breeze, nothing more than a lurching in the belly of some kind of future-human with three heads and a heart bigger than the foot or in the aliens that have colonized us, but it will be there as sure as the sun is going to explode and as sure as the universe will continue expanding until all of us are asleep and no one can watch it anymore like a television left on after everyone’s gone to bed.

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Some Things and Their Places: A Story

Things on Ships:

Pirates

Sails (extra ones below deck)

Parrots

Rats

Engine (depending on the type of boat)

Yar

Swashbuckling

Skipper

Yellow bellies

Things on a Christmas tree:

Hope

Christmas lights

Dream

Half a strand of dead Christmas lights

Tinsel (also all over the house)

Grandpa and Grandma (a picture of them)

A gingerbread man ornament that I always wish I could eat but can’t because it’s an ornament and not actually made out of gingerbread (even though it looks really tasty)

The Christmas ornament that creeps me out but that I keep using anyways

Things in my room:

An empty canister of Nescafe Tasters Choice instant coffee that’s been there for 9 months – could probably recycle this now

A poster on the wall with my goals for this year, and where I spelled “General” wrong so it says “Geneal goals for the year”

Calcium chews – I may have had two of these today since I couldn’t remember if I’d eaten one in the morning or not

A Monster energy drink that I purchased one night in September

Self-reflection

Desk, chair, and bookshelf that were all found on the street

Two cottage cheese containers full of money

A phone book – I thought this would be useful for some reason

Warm

Things in my head:

Memories in picture format

Scent memories – my house where I grew up, pine needles, cologne

Forgotten dreams

Remembered dreams

The indisputable fact that everyone is staring at me

Instant coffee granules

I think he likes me

Ideas like “I could sell my doodles,” or “what if I did man-on-the-street interviews at lunch”

Hope

Pirates

The song “The Christmas Waltz”

Laughter

Things in my heart: 

Ruv

Angst

Hope

Pirates

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What we talk about when we talk about adult acne

Photo credit: Genista

Photo credit: Genista

It gets better, they said. Just wait. Soon it will all make sense. Soon your hips will stop widening, your jaw and nose will grow in equal pace, you’ll understand bra sizes and stop being embarrassed when you buy tampons.

Soon you’ll understand how wonderful it is to be an adult, to choose your own breakfast and buy your own poptarts, if that’s what you want.

Chase your dreams, they said. Soon you’ll be achieving them. Follow your heart. Soon you’ll be making great decisions all the time and relationships will be easier and it will all make sense. Everything will make sense, even the fact that we live on one of 200 billion planets in our galaxy and that the universe is infinite, truly infinite.

And acne – soon the acne will stop. You won’t have to spend 121 hours every year scrutinizing your pores, determining which ones deserve to be squeezed and which ones must ripen.  You won’t be jealous of the girls in the Clean & Clear commercials or spend significant amounts of time imagining where you would send all the pus in your body if you could choose to just have one perpetual pimple.

And I won’t say I was lied to. I won’t say that I was deceived by those people 18+ in my life who knew exactly what was coming to me. I won’t say I was deliberately led to believe in a fantasy no more real than sea monkeys or the first moon landing.

I believed what I wanted to believe – I pieced together the various messages of my childhood and adolescence and came to believe that once I turned 22 or 23, I would have it all figured out. I – and everyone else – would be living our dreams, wearing clothes that fit and laughing together while eating pasta at a restaurant. And our skin would be clear. It would be completely clear, with not a zit, pimple, blackhead, whitehead, subterranean or squirter to have blemished it in many many years.

Photo credit: Garrette

Photo credit: Garrette

So when we talk about adult acne, we talk about the cruel reality of adulthood, the fact that we still don’t have the answers and know we may never have them. We talk about the fact that relationships are still confusing. We talk about how social media and technology has let us down in some unnamable way, and the despair, apathy, or vague outrage that we feel when we read about politics and the NSA and privacy and drones and the daily body count in Syria. We talk about wanting more in our lives, wanting clear skin, wanting a clear vision.

They told us to follow our dreams but never said that almost everything would be put in the way of that. They told us to make

a difference, but they didn’t say that society often villainizes or kills those who try. They promised clear skin, and still I have blemishes, and now I pay for my own face wash.

They didn’t tell us, but that’s okay. They probably didn’t know what they were doing. Now that we know more of the truth, we can move on, complain together about our acne, and get ish done.

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