Sunday, December 27, 2009

It is one half ambition and one half compassion.

I just need to figure out how to put the two together while leaning toward the latter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Experiment

Everyone I know talks about how stressed they are. There is never enough time, always too much to do, if only I had 1 more hour in a day to finish everything! But nobody ever does anything about it. I've been reading nonstop in my classes this semester about how wrong the entire system is, how brainwashed we all are, how much we (the average American) hurt everyone else on Earth by our mere existence. This makes me wonder if there even is anything "we" can do about it. We are programmed our entire lives, at least in my experience, to constantly achieve- even better!- to achieve more than the kid next to you. We are over-scheduled from the age of 3 with sports, music lessons, extra tutoring to get ahead of the curve, "volunteering," on and on and on. We don't eat dinner with our families, and sometimes a meal is merely a microwaved burrito while running out the door to the next activity. All of this just to get a better scholarship to a better school to get a better job to proliferate this cycle with your own unfortunate children. At some point the standards are taken so high that this achievement attitude becomes a norm, and all of this is required just to even get into college.

We're unhappy. Kids get drugged up legally and illegally to deal with their "pain" which is ironically caused by the stuff they do in order to make themselves happy. We eat too much, sleep too little, have panic attacks, and fall asleep at the wheel.

I know these things all too well, because I am the direct product of this cycle. My entire life has been a series of activities and events. I often feel guilty for having fun. My day centers around 4 calendars that run my life. I'm constantly thinking of the most efficient way to get it all done, and the slightest breach of this efficiency is enough to send me into an emotional tailspin for the rest of the day. I had a breakdown at the age of 14 that compromised my immune system but didn't seem to stop the patterns that led to the crisis. My back is chronically in pain and my pelvis is crooked, very likely because of the excessive weight of backpack/violin/swim bag that I carried everywhere during my most formative years and the excessive amount of exercise that I got in general. I developed pathologies of anxiety and OCD. And the problem is that it all worked. I got great scholarship to a great school and continue to achieve through this cycle of self-depravation and self-discipline.

But for all of my focus on efficiency, I feel like I've wasted so much of my life in productivity. I know what really matters, so it's not a matter of finding it. The problem is getting myself to do it. I've got to do something to assuage this guilt that I've already irreparably damaged my body and brain from overloads of stress for too many years.

So here is my plan. I will begin now by chronicling (whenever time allows, always the cruel joke of the matter) the process I have already attempted to undertake of simplifying my life. I no longer feel compelled to read every single word of assignments, to write the most groundbreaking response paper, to attend every single meeting. But I have so much farther to go. The ultimate experience will be when I go abroad in the spring. I am considering my voyage to Vietnam to be an experiment in simpler living. I will have 1 suitcase and will travel for a good portion of the 3.5 months that I am there. I will try to note how it feels to live out of a suitcase, to go without all of the stuff that I "need" so badly, notice if I feel any better or any withdrawal. When I return, I will see how possible it is to apply at home. America is not set up to make simplification easier, and I can't change the world by being 1 person to try this experiment. I just want to see if I can do it.

I know this experiment has been attempted many times before. But I don't think it's been actively analyzed by many people of my generation, the ultimate "stuff" generation.

So here's hoping I can keep up with the task...time to go do more things so I don't have a panic attack!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spoons and Forks and Knives, oh my!

I think I have a thing for kitchen utensils. My old lady style souvenir spoon cabinet is officially full (that's 24 spoons, folks). My prize from my mom for doing well on my triathlon was a coveted grapefruit knife that she found at Williams Sonoma. Then I found an assortment of forks and knives on my desk that had somehow migrated there. Like insects seem to be attracted to me, so am I to eating utensils.

Mind games

Elementary school marquee I saw while driving: "Rememberto collect supplies." I spent a good minute trying to figure who Rememberto was, like some intellectual Latin superhero. Appropriate spacing goes a long way...

I don't think anyone would ever guess where I found myself today. When I finally managed to extract myself from the office following an influx of problems the second I tried to walk out the door, I drove to a super sketchy Walmart (stick with me here) to meet my grandma and get in her car. We drove to Memorial Hermann Southwest, elevatored up to the 5th floor (with her carrying her giant red patriotic straw hat...quite a spectacle),and walked downn the hall to...dum dum DUM...the plastic surgeon? I was super embarrassed to go inside, feeling that I would be judged as one of the wealthy and boobless.

I managed to trick my friend, via text message, into believing that I was actually there for butt implants. I think he actually believed me...but really, I was there to get my painful and kind of ugly shoulder surgery scar looked at. If insurance covers it, I get another surgery...yipeeee. At least it would be in-office. And I could officially say I've had plastic surgery!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


An ant just fell out of my hair.

This wouldn't be too terribly alarming if I wasn't on my 2nd round of antibiotics in 3 weeks for insect attacks. Mystery spider bite in California led to a swollen wrist I could barely move. A week later, I was opening my mouth to order at The Grist Mill, when I felt something buzzing at my leg. I was wearing an ankle length purple dress, feeling pretty fly since I actually wore something mildly fashionable. But thank you fashion for trapping what I can only assume was a bee in my dress, where I-- being brilliant-- managed to squeeze it, so it stung me. Without even looking, or ever even seeing the bee for that matter, I ripped the stinger out and threw it. I started semi-shrieking that something bit me as the pain seared up my leg. Of all the places, the bee chose to sting me on my inner thigh. The confused waiter, my exchange student sister, and my boyfriend just stared at me. Finally the dumbfounded waiter drawled, "I guess I can go get you some ice..." So I spent the rest of dinner with my sexy dress pulled up one leg, holding an ice bag to my thigh. A week and a half later, I had to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic cream and some Zyrtec-ish related pills. I've also been so dizzy that I'm disoriented. The doctor told me to drink Pediasure...well great.

I am afraid that I will soon pull an Alien v. Predator and actually morph into an insect.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On being 20

I am incredibly talented at overcomplicating everything. Most things are really a lot simpler than I think they are. I've also realized, 1 day into my 20s, that I am simultaneously more and less mature than I think am. I am obviously not the grown up I think I am sometimes, but I have also grown so much and have so much more control over myself than I used to. In the spirit of my favorite activity, list making, here is another list of things that I have realized (realizing being my other favorite thing apparently).

Life lessons that will probably take my entire life:

1. No matter how much I want to or how hard I try, I can't do everything. I learn this lesson over and over again (think: 1st semester freshman year of high school's physical, mental, and emotional breakdown; 2nd semester senior year with all AP classes and 11 extracurricular activities; 1st semester of college when I almost blew out my hip; the 4 jobs I have been trying to balance this summer and failed at today). A quote I found today: "While intelligent people often simplify the complex, a fool is more likely to complicate the simple." Sometimes I'm a big fool.

2. I have got to get a thicker skin. I have had plenty of rejection and criticism in my life, and honestly, I think I deal with big problems a lot better than small ones. I take things way too personally and always turn everything into my fault. I know the adult world is just full of even more rejection and criticism and drama and unfairness, especially the career direction I seem to be headed in, and I will melt into a puddle if I don't toughen up.

3. People really don't care about what I do as much as I think they do. Sometimes I think I invent problems where they don't exist, like my life just isn't right without sometimes going wrong. I care way way wayyyyyy too much about pleasing people with every choice that I make, when in reality they would be most pleased if I just made an effing decision and committed to it.

All of these are also simultaneously my greatest strengths and weaknesses. I think the root of all of these weaknesses is that I care so incredibly much. If caring too much is really and truly my biggest weakness, then I am doing ok. I try to do everything because I never want to miss an opportunity to have fun, improve myself, or to improve the world. I have a thin skin because I care so much about doing things the absolute best that I can. I care what people think because I want others to be happy and never want to do anything that hurts them. Fortunately my skin grows thicker as I get older (mostly due to developing a self-deprecating sense of humor), as my patience grows deeper, and my reasoning abilities grow stronger.

Here's to coming into the prime of my life. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm pretty sure things only get better. As my advisor told me the other day, I have lived more in 20 years than many people have in their entire lives. And as my therapist told me, I have very good coping skills. So I suppose I'm not doing so poorly.

When I'm really in doubt I refer to the old Houston Chronicle horoscope clip I cut out years ago: "Your plight is like Spiderman's. With great talent comes great responsibility." At the risk of sounding a bit conceited (but who reads this anyway??), my spidey senses tell me this will be my truest lifelong lesson.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ayo Technology...

I'm sitting here at work, a picture of modernity. I've got headphones on, playing my latest Rhapsody finds, my cell phone (with internet) plugged in, my laptop open and logged in to gmail, Facebook, Rhapsody, and Twitter. I'm alternately reading a book and writing the 14 status update ideas that pop into my head. Our brains have to be evolving to be able to function like this. How do I get everything done?

I also worry a lot about how electronic all of my creativity is. There really isn't anything like a hard copy of a diary or notebook to look back at in years to come. What will archaeologists of the future have to find but computers with unreadable files? Half of the creative moments and thoughts that I've had are lost somewhere in cyber space, blips of something that really isn't anything. I've tried getting myself to write in a journal, but I just don't have the patience. My hand can't keep up with my brain, nor do I have the patience to take the time out to write by hand. I don't want to print every single thing I write. What to do?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So everything finally snapped. And I'm angry. Really really angry. And I like it.

Being angry is so much better than being sad and desperate and lost. It has energy and passion. It makes me move forward. At least it doesn't feel like I've fallen in a hole. Yesterday it was just denial (stage 1 of grief, right on time...there was a lot of bargaining already...jumped ahead with stage 3, I guess). Too much to do, too much to grieve. There comes a point where there is just only so much one person can grieve for and at some point you go the completely opposite direction and are just happy because you've run out of room for sadness. Today I'm just angry (stage 2). Angry that people have to die and hurt and that I can't figure out what's wrong with my hip and have gotten nowhere.

So I'm going running. Haven't been allowed to for the better part of a year. Don't stop me.

I want to be good at poetry or writing songs or art or something to get this all out better. All I do is write bad emo stuff.

Just had to put this somewhere.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Six hours, an entire bag of Chex Mix, a hamster named Fluffernutter, and only 4 hours of sleep later, my last anatomy class exam is over. Time to pull out the big guns for the final...haha on me...Never again will I attempt science.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tis the season for the groove type thing

Tis the season for freaking out, and I feel like I should be...but I'm not. This week should be super stressful, and maybe I'm not working hard enough, but so far it's been pretty decent. (I should probably get to that 15 page paper soon...) It's strange, or maybe not so strange, but I tend to find my zen place when I have a lot to do. Perhaps it's more of a groove-type thing.

I feel pretty snobby sitting here at work, listening to a Mendelssohn string quartet, reading critiques of Samuel Beckett, sipping coffee. (The picture is definitely brought a bit back to earth by the fact that it's cafeteria coffee mixed with chocolate in a plastic mug, and I'm sitting in a cubicle making minimum wage, and the Beckett critique is for a class I have a final in on Friday.) The thing about Beckett is that it makes me feel kind of bummed about life. He's such a downer...all this "you're born, you live a meaningless life, you die" stuff. College has a tendency to be depressing when you actually think about things.

In other news, I had decided to go to India for study abroad, buuuuuut not so sure about that now, what with all hell on the loose. I'd still really like to go to Scandinavia. Doubtful that I can convince my advisor that the whitest place on the planet is the place for me to do research for my senior honors thesis, though. I just don't feel drawn to somewhere where I might get blown up or shot or taken hostage or die of malaria. I appreciate that things suck a lot and need help, really I do. But I don't know how my dying to see that is going to help anything. I'm also coming to see a lot about how "the academy" works. To get credibility, to get a teaching job (of which there are few in the anthro field), to get published, and to get known, one has to go to the Third World to do research. My interests have always lied more (is that proper grammar?) in the realm of studying the oppressor or something like that. I have mixed feelings about being the world's savior. We definitely need to make reparations for effing it over in the first place, but at the same time, we meddle too much in other people's business.

Also I really hate small talk. A lot. Don't ask me how I am if you don't actually care how I am. And I will do the same.

"Hi, how are you?"
"Good. How are you?"

If you actually tell how you are, people go glassy eyed, because they didn't actually want to know. A simple hello will suffice. The worst thing is when both people say "How are you?" and "Good" at the exact same time. And I have it on good authority that Europeans think our fakeness in greetings is dumb. Except we do it in French class too, so I don't even know.

Soooo I need to get back to my work...