Tuesday, August 24, 2010

- The September Issue

Generally I think I do a pretty good job of dressing myself. Especially in the last year and a half I really feel like I’ve overhauled my closet and in the last 6 months I’ve been a lot more adventurous. But to be completely honest – this is not something that I’m naturally good at, if you couldn’t already tell. I rely heavily on fashion magazines, fashion blogs, and celebrity magazines/perezhilton.com to tell me what’s hot. I am not a trendsetter, I am a trendfollower, in that I take what's really big in the fashion world and adapt it in ways that work for me.

A lot of people love Vogue for this purpose. There's a line from Sex and the City where SJP says that when she first moved to NYC she bought Vogue instead of food because it “filled her up more”. For me Vogue has always been a visual delight, but I have a hard time translating what I see on the pages of the magazine into something that I would actually wear walking down the street.

My personal fave is In Style. Today I made a quick stop at the grocery store and couldn’t resist the September Issue that was sitting there at the check out line. Did you know that the September issue is the biggest issue for fashion magazines? Fall is major fashion time – they even made a documentary about Anna Wintour at Vogue and how they went about putting the issue together. I of course watched it - and enjoyed it.

Anyway, Hillary Swank is on the cover on In Style this month. Which didn’t really excite me but I always read from cover to cover so I was really surprised to find that I related to a lot of what said in her feature. This especially resonated with me:

“Does someone come into your life for a certain time, and then you are supposed to go your separate ways?”

Kirk is gone. Not all the way to California, but back home with his family. Out of Raleigh. Our last night together was Sunday and on the way back from dinner I tried not to think about how it was all ending so quickly. How I would have to say goodbye in the morning. How him leaving the next day would set everything in motion towards our "expiration date". But I didn't want to talk about all of that because it was happening and there was nothing I could do about it. So in the quiet moments before I fell asleep I tried to convince myself that I was okay, and that everything was fine.

You know how when you say "you're fine" or "everything's fine" it never really is? People are almost always lying when they say they're doing "fine". It's the same with "okay". If you say you're "fine" or "okay" what it means is that you're certainly NOT great, and you don't really want to talk about it. Of course I was lying to myself.

That night I woke Kirk up because I was crying in my sleep. I have no memory of the actual crying, or if there was a dream that caused it. To my knowledge I have never cried in my sleep before. I'm thinking that it doesn't take a therapist to determine that if you're trying that hard to suppress your feelings, they will find a way to escape, even if it is unbeknownst to you.

We said goodbye on Monday morning and got into our cars and drove away. For the next hour I floated through my life in a completely shell-shocked state. I stayed up a little later than I needed to, hoping that I would just drop right into sleep and that would leave my mind little time to wander down dangerous and sad paths. But then I cuddled up next to a pillow that smelled like him and I don’t even know what happened next or what my thought was, but all of the sudden I was full-on sobbing. The tears that I'd held at bay all day were completely ready for release and within a matter of minutes that pillow was just soaked. Like Kirk's arm the night before - except this time I remembered it.

I will see him again in a little less than 2 weeks, but this is hitting hard because it's the beginning of the end for us. It will never again be like it was this summer. These past few months I've been rational and logical about this relationship and I've known all along how this would end. I knew it would hurt, and hurt of epic proportions. Now that I'm here, and I'm feeling like this, there's not much I can say to console myself. And there won't be much to say when I say goodbye to him at the Sacramento airport and get on a plane headed for Raleigh, with no real promise of any future that involves him. Ultimately I made a sacrifice at the beginning of all this - a really awesome summer with a really awesome guy in exchange for how I would feel at the end. If I was given the chance to do it all over again, and do it differently, I wouldn't because it was worth it.

But if I could go back to that grocery store today and decide not to buy the September In Style, I would. Totally not worth $5 - I was seriously uninspired by everything except what I expected to find uninspiring: Hillary Swank. But that's kind of the thing about expectations - they never really work out the way you expect them to...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

- Written from the Bowels of Crazy

I've known for a long time that coffee and I do not get along. That I do not do well on "uppers". Like the one time at Roaring Gap that I'd gotten like no sleep in the past few days due to some crazy partying and took an adderral at a friend's suggestion to make it through a double shift - sleep deprivation obviously makes me stupid because why else would I think something with amphetamine would make things better? I could not sit still for the next 36 hours and believe you me if there was silverware to polish, napkins to fold, or busy work to take care of it was done before you could even realize because I was buzzing around determined to keep everything perfect. The tables I waited on never had to ask for a water refill or anything for that matter, because I was so on top of it. I mean - mission accomplished, I made it through the shift and wasn't dragging, but at a serious loss of mental sanity, and as a result I decided that it just wasn't worth it to go through again.

But that's the "hard stuff" - what did I expect? Regular 'ole caffeine, that should be harmless right? WRONG. The consumption of a mere cup of coffee will leave me feeling completely crazy and cracked out in about an hour. I will not be able to turn off my mind and sleep well that night - and my stomach will be perpetually unsettled but also unable to handle food, which I won't slow down long enough to eat anyway. This leaves me with caffeine on an empty stomach concentrating the effect to make it 10 times worse. At times when I resort to caffeine it also goes without saying that I am usually stressed, and caffeine will do NOTHING to make me feel better, except keep me awake longer and make me feel more anxious about the things that I need to be doing and yet, am not getting done fast enough for my racing mind.

AND YET, what did I have to drink this morning? A cup of coffee. A small itty bitty cup compared to the venti's that most drink at least once a day, but for me that's just enough to make me feel a whole latte crazy.

Yes I seriously just used that pun.

It's really all just a catch 22 though isn't it? As much as I hate the way it makes me feel physically, and the craziness that ensues, there are some benefits. I do focus better and race through tasks that at other times I would procrastinate about and put aside. On days where I have a lot to get done, I do get a lot done - if I drink coffee. Which is why at 8:30 this morning, when my world of Research finally imploded (it started teetering on the edge of insanity yesterday), a cup of coffee seemed logical and necessary. Tomorrow morning, and the morning after that and the morning after that...for the next two weeks, will probably have the same story.

But let's not be too negative - there's (hopefully) a silver lining. This will probably be the last time that my Research tries to kills me. I mean Research can be a little bitch. It has this way of coasting along and lulling me into a false sense of security. Then...BAM. Out of the blue Research throws a hissy fit and demands a crazy amount of attention. More attention than I want to or can physically give in a day. So I kill myself over Research for an extended period of time which makes me a shell of a person but, this is the sacrifice I have to make to make Research happy again, and then we live in peace and harmony and ride off into the sunset together. After 5 years of playing this game with Research, this is probably the last time that Research gets to have the upper hand and do this to me. That is most definitely a good thing, because I don't know that I have it in me to care about Research for much longer. One more of these outbursts and I might just tell Research to shove it and ride off into the sunset by myself and never look back. Without my Ph.D. That's how far Research has pushed me.

But, if it wasn't for Research I wouldn't be this close to my goal weight set by a personal trainer two years ago...so that's something.

Friday, August 6, 2010

- Life as a Puma

From Urban Dictionary:
Puma. Noun. An attractive woman in her late 20's who likes to date younger men. A woman who knows what she wants, can carry on a conversation and has a low probability of being a gold digger and may or may not want a relationship.
Happy 22nd Birthday Kirk!

Take note peeps - I am clearly NOT a cougar.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

- Back To School

It's that time of year again...Target and WalMart and all the others have started putting pencils, composition notebooks, and TI-84's (or whatever number they're up to now) in their weekly flyers. Tax free weekend is right around the corner. Seventeen and eighteen year olds around the country are trying to figure out how to pimp out a 12x12 cinderblock box of a dorm room with as much personality as they can thanks to brightly colored futons, pillows, lamps and a bunch of other things they don't actually need.

When I was growing up I used to absolutely love the start of a school year. Sure I was sad that summer was over, but being the teacher's pet that I was, I couldn't wait to get into Office Max and see what kind of awesome stuff I could carry into the new year. Looking at a pack of loose leaf college ruled paper would seriously excite me about the things I would learn and the notebooks I would fill. Usually, I would pick a theme for my school supplies, something awesome like Lisa Frank, and EVERYTHING would match that trapper keeper, or later the cooler more grown up Five Star that would get decorated with paint pens. Even in college, a nicely planned out notebook with dividers brought me a certain sense of peace and inspiration to quit procrastinating or make Dean's list - neither of which I did consistently.

Sure, I was sad to see summer go as a kid. But by August I was excited. Ready. That doesn't mean that I woke up in the mornings any easier, but I did genuinely like school. But, ever since I moved to NC State in 2001, "summer" has been a thing of the past. Freshman year I lived at home, worked at Old Navy and took Physics I and II all summer at UNCW. The summers after sophomore and junior year I waited tables at Roaring Gap - and trust me that is the closest I've ever come to an adult summer vacation with all the partying that I did up there. The summer after senior year I was offered a position in grad school so I took a communication class to finish my BS and started in the lab as an hourly worker. Since then it's been grad school/research all summer with the exception of an internship in 2008.

This summer is no different, I'm in the lab working again. But, this summer feels different. In April I finished up the majority of my research, so by the end of the month I felt like I was getting a break - a summer break, for the first time in a long time. By the time May rolled around I was in major relaxation mode. There were half days in the lab, happy hours, plane tickets bought for big trips, and small weekend trips quickly thrown together on Fridays.

But as soon as the calendar turned over to August - I knew. I could feel the change - the end of carefree days and the beginning of stress. It was a lot like when January 1st rolled around this past year and I was paralyzed with anxiety about how hard it would be to make it to April. Just like then, I'm realizing how long the road is and how short the time is to travel it to the end of my degree program.

But that's not the only reason that August is hitting so hard this time around. The person who is responsible for my new level of smitten-ness and ability to accept Ke$ha, is leaving at the end of the month. Someone once described to me the ending of a movie they saw as a sucker punch - the expected romantic comedy instead made them cry their eyes out with an unexpected emotionally excruciating ending. I feel it's appropriate to say that not only is August snapping me back to reality in the research world, but it's also packing quite the emotional sucker punch. And instead of bracing myself against what I know is coming, I would much rather just duck and run. But, run where? August is here whether I like it or not.

So begins the countdown...