Tag Archives: college

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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An Overly Poetic Account of a Trip to Coastal Georgia

st_simons_island_georgiaWhoosh….whoosh…..whoosh…..that’s the sound the earth makes as it spins through space. We’re spinning around with it too and that’s the sound I make every day as I chop apples for my gallon of lunch salad, check emails for typos, and rush to post-work activities. Whoosh. Whoosh. One day, one night, and the Lord said it was good.

I finish opening up my Christmas gift cards and then it’s July 4th, 2013, the fourth anniversary of when I celebrated the Fourth in Boston for the first time, and two years since I graduated from college. In the whirlwind of numbers and dates and earth-whooshing, eight friends have committed to spending the Fourth together this year, and to caravan to coastal Georgia for three nights.

Down, down we drive from burbian Atlanta, through the forests of shapely Georgia pines and kudzu, and the atmosphere grows thicker as we become farther removed from our day-to-day lives and cross into St. Simon’s Island.

The office kitchen answer to the typical post-holiday question is, “Yes, I had a good 4th of July  – you?”

But the long answer is rife with poetry as my heart bursts from my ribcage and sings hours and hours of loud, overly dramatic music.

“We laughed, but it wasn’t like normal laughter. This laughter was the wine of the gods. We spoke, but it wasn’t like normal words. It was like Homer himself, blind though he was, were composing our interjections and outbursts. We ate, but it wasn’t like regular food, it was like food we threw together in an amateur fashion but because we did it with a pure heart and clear mind, no one complained.

“And on the night of the Holy 4th, as we tore ourselves away from Harry Potter to go watch fireworks and a man wished me a happy freedom, I knew he spoke the truth. Accented by friendly interactions with strangers, and beverages that could slake even a horse’s thirst, we wove our own Southern Gothic, and I don’t know what that means.”

You can see why I don’t give the long answer.

Sunday was goodbye day and the day of three separate trips to the airport. After the dust settled it was just me left in Marietta with a cancelled flight, wondering what to do next.

I know the world is still whooshing around me, and in an alternate universe I would be too, getting sucked back into my usual orbit and looking at the backs of the same people. But for some reason, I’ve been spat out and I’m looking at the blur from a city that’s not my home, in a home that’s not my home.

Here in my orbit-less state, I can almost see the time passing. I’m being allowed to take a deep breath before I go under again.

From this perspective, I know something of the meaning of life was contained in our trip, in the wine of laughter, and in the night walk we took on the beach at low tide, the Milky Way out there clouding everything up and us all trying to catch the first shooting star.

With no moon, you couldn’t tell where the sand ended and the sea began and the air was the same temperature as blood. I know that’s gross to think about, but it felt natural. On the sandbars, it felt like you could walk forever into the ocean, black as night. And now I’m thinking that maybe, in another universe, we’re still walking into the ocean forever, the world whooshing around and we are holding hands and singing and laughing.

So yeah, Georgia was pretty great. Sorry I didn’t bring you back any BBQ sauce or home tattoo kits.

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The Career Search, Living in the Moment, and Ramen Noodles

This picture was taken in January, when it was the same temperature but sunny here. WTF.

Right after I pressed publish last Friday on the blog post about my Reba t-shirt, I realized that I was the worst person in the world. I had complained about getting up at 6:30 am and having one appointment. Poor me.

Most people get up at the booty-crack of dawn and have to work the whole day long, with no time for ditzels, knick knacks, or futzing. For brief moment the length of the time it takes to write a blog post, I forgot that I was incredibly lucky to have the luxury of following my dreams, which I’m still defining at this point. I think it’s kind of a long-term smelting thing in order to figure out what I really want and if it’s good and what I should want and all of that.

I’ve spent so much time trying to figure what I want to do that I haven’t been focusing on what I’m doing in the time I currently have. I’ve been scrutinizing the future so hard, trying to make sure I’m heading in the right direction and towards gainful employ/activities that I both enjoy and find meaningful, that I fell into the trap of believing that the only time that’s valuable is the time you’re paid for.

Once I realized this, I paused for a second and thought “Well, do I enjoy what I’m currently doing?” which is making phone calls, setting up connections, exploring the city, interviewing, hanging out with friends, trying to get my feet on the ground, making networks that will take me into the future, etc. and I thought, yeah, I do. I have what feels like freedom and infinite possibilities. San Francisco is my shiny, expensive oyster that I plan on cracking in order to find the best dive bars and cheap eats.

I am not my to-do list. The things I’m doing right now are also important, and these steps will lead me to a future, but in reality it’s all part of the same thing. So I should savor the whole enchilada because the minutes don’t come back to you in the end, or so I hear.

And today I put a squirt of ketchup in my ramen noodles, which tasted just as good as I thought it would and I felt secure about my future as I slurped the broth down—it was thicker than usual. Ramen noodle innovation is just one of the many signs of nascent success.

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My Mind, The Cupcake

A cupcake from the wedding. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

My mind has turned into a cupcake. I was afraid this would happen. Instead of synapses firing interesting and creative notions from the different loci of my mind, communicating the thoughts that will drive today into tomorrow and allow me to remember to zip my fly, buttercream frosting clogs my mental passageways.

Drooling results.

Sprinkles have taken the place of ideas, and lace wrappers are now in operation instead of my hypothalamus. Keeping physical and mental balance proves more difficult daily.

All acts of thinking, consideration, pondering, and planning that used to occur in my frontal lobe have been replaced with various cream fillings, fruits, and polka dots. The only things I’m really capable of doing anymore are underarm-sweating, head-scratching, and mouth-breathing.

My brain is adorable and trendy but I now need a caretaker.

Oh god will please someone help me. I ate a poptart and peanut butter crackers for lunch today. Is that a complete meal? Who am I? What is this leaking out of my ears?

I’ve heard about cupcake brain syndrome, which results from too much time spent applying to food service jobs on Craig’s list. Letters, numbers, names blur together into a soft, frosting like combination that begins to look tasty to the job searcher. Sometimes electronic equipment begins to malfunction from the surfeit of saliva that drips over the keyboard and is sometimes applied directly with the tongue onto the screen.

The eyes glaze over, the mouth hangs, and a real career seems to drift farther and farther away into the night, which is never ending. Soon, common words take on different meanings. “Experienced,” “Go-Getter,” “Detail-Oriented,” acquire personalities of their own, are thugs that torture the cupcake brain. Nanny nanny boo boo, they say. The mouth drools on.

Yes, dear friend, this is the great San Francisco job search of 2012. How will it end? Will it ever end? Will there be just another college graduate’s skeleton decorating a sunny road near the bay? Will the dress pants ever be worn in an office environment? How long does it take for a poptart-heavy diet to result in malnutrition? Will there be super powers?

Stay tuned, for all shall be revealed in due time. When the hands stop shaking, when the eyebrow stops twitching, when the stomach stops clenching. All shall be revealed. And yes, my sister is married now but who cares? I need a job.

P.S. I will talk about the wedding more, most likely when I can get better juice from my mind grapes.

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We’re Modern Now. We Don’t Have to Sweat.

It’s functional. Don’t worry about it.

Saturday afternoon, 1:30 pm. College graduate exits bedroom and runs into father, also a college graduate, for first time of the day. Pleasantries are exchanged. Father, pleased to see the college graduate, lists the yard work he has done that day. He has trimmed the hedges, cleaned out the pool, fixed something, moved something else, and used a loud machine for about two hours. He didn’t mention the last one, but the college graduate knows because she was sitting inside and had to listen to the racket for about two hours.

He’s tired and asks the college graduate if she was planning on making lunch for everyone, a laughable prospect. She chuckles and thinks of this question later when she sees the family has cracked wheat in the pantry. Why didn’t he just make this? She wonders.

In the meantime, college graduate has also been busy. She applied for 3.5 jobs and wrote 2.5 blog posts and made herself an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly on it for lunch. Her mind is tired but she’s hasn’t left the house, hasn’t made any money, and is wearing an old pair of sweatpants and a shirt from two days ago.

She was reflecting on her outfit earlier that day and how she felt surprisingly accomplished despite the fact sweatpants are viewed as the garb of the defeated. At least, she had accomplished until she met father, who had exited the house, made money by virtue of the fact he is a salaried employee of a real company, and burned over 20x as many calories as the college graduate.

She wonders how to explain to father that despite the sweatpants and the fact she was emerging from the bedroom, she had also done work that day, work that was laying the ground for her future and paving the way for his entry into a comfortable nursing home. In the digital age, she thought, we don’t have to sweat while we work. We don’t have to do anything besides stare at a computer screen and think really hard and sometimes type/write stuff down. This is the technological era. We don’t need to go outside anymore.

But instead of saying any of this, she lets the conversation fall into silence and quickly hides the tab with the YouTube music video of “Call Me, Maybe,” the music video that the college graduate had danced to only seconds earlier, maybe, when trying to recall some moves from her hip-hop class last spring.

Maybe father will read blog post later on and want to dance to the music video as well, she thinks, and then we will both burn calories.

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