Lucky and busy

I’m lucky. I am. In the dying field of journalism I’m getting work left and right…in fact, too much. I always feel bad when I have to cancel something or decline an offer, but it’s sometimes necessary in order to assure the work is the highest caliber it can be.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember I’m lucky.

I covered a fashion show this morning, to be written by the end of the week. I just accepted an offer to cover a meeting on Thursday due on Friday, on top of a graduation ceremony I’m covering Friday night. Not to mention the two other stories I have to get done by next Tuesday.

I also have to get back on track with German, and figure out a plot for the D&D campaign I’m supposed to run Monday. Not to mention the fact that I had planned on doing Camp Nano in July, and I haven’t even begun to think of a novel idea!

Busy is good, but also overwhelming. Being lucky is good, but also brings guilt. I wish I had more time to read Life of Pi and ride my bike and play ukulele and finish my TV shows, but at the same time I’m glad I am using those things for fun when I can, rather than to halt boredom. It’s better to want to do something than to do something so much it’s boring.

I am glad I’m taking these assignments, because they only take a few hours out of a week and give me money I can use for the things I like, not to mention experience.

Like I said, it’s hard to complain when I know I’m so lucky. Lucky to be doing well in a weakening, overcrowded field, lucky to be able to live with my parents this summer without worrying about rent, lucky that we live so close to Boston, lucky that all this has worked out.

I think back to this time last year—I was a line cook at Chipotle. I worked eight hour shifts rolling burritos and wishing I were somewhere, anywhere, else. However busy I get, I have to remember that I like my job, and that’s rare. I don’t groan when I have to go on assignments; I love it. I don’t even whine when I have to wake up early in the morning. I like my job, however busy it makes me. It took awhile to settle on that fact, but it’s true: I like it. One day I will find the ideal balance of work and life. One day I will know myself better and know exactly how much I can handle. Maybe today is not that day, but as of now being busy is okay.

I mean, hey. It’s better than rolling burritos at Chipotle.

Friends and heels

Last night I saw a friend I haven’t seen in nearly two years. It’s always strange when that happens…do you act like nothing has changed, or like you’re meeting them again for the first time?

I wouldn’t have been so nervous, I suppose, if he and I weren’t so close before. I know I’ve changed in the past two years…has he? Will we be too different to be friends?

When he came over, all my worries went away. God, he was so him. So normal. I caught myself watching his mannerisms throughout the night, the way he laughed. He had the same glasses. So normal, but so strange to see him again.

Nonetheless, distance was persistent in being the forefront of the evening. While he was talking about the college he goes to, he said, “And my girlfriend–I have a girlfriend named Sarah….”

How do you count friends? I would still count him as my friend, though we hadn’t spoken in so long and were so separate I didn’t know he had a girlfriend, never mind her name. He, who I used to know everything about.

How do you count friends, in a world that’s always changing, in a world that allows you to be virtually inseparable but physically worlds away?

I can only imagine what it will be like when we’re older and even further from our roots. When I see someone I used to be close with decades ago, will it be just as easy and strange? I’m terrible at recognizing faces and remembering names…then again, I can always look people up on Facebook if I forget them.

Social media is weird. Growing up is weird. Friendships are weird.

I wore heels to work today and I feel old.

An eventful morning: Short Fic Friday

As Marley walked through the parking garage someone locked their car with a beep that made her jump and pin her purse tighter against her ribs. She bounced in her step to hide her nerves. There were footsteps behind her, brisker and longer than hers so she sped up. She could see a man’s reflection in the glass door. He was handsome and searching his suit pockets with fervor.

Marley held the first door open for him. It was the polite thing to do.

“Thank you,” the man said, smiling directly at her.

“Yeah,” Marley replied under her breath. And then the second door, God. She quickened her step, swung it open.


Marley didn’t say anything this time, just shrugged under her purse strap. Now the stairs. She hustled up one flight and turned left, thankfully he turned right. She sighed and slowed her pace, let her shoulders down.

Coffee, light roast. Perfect. A bagel, no, someone’s waiting at the toaster…a corn muffin is fine. She paid for her handfuls of Styrofoam and headed down the hallway to the right, to the office.

The man appeared from the office. He smiled, but they were too far away from each other to say hello, so Marley looked under her arm and into her purse. Her hands were shackled by her breakfast and shook the restraints. Closer, closer.

“Good morning,” he said as he passed her, but a moment too late. Marley turned her head and muttered a syllable in reply, quiet enough that he likely didn’t even hear her. She glanced in a reflective window as she passed it. Her shirt, flowing and far too bright. Her shoes, too cute for her big feet. Her hair was messed and there was a zit on her cheek that wasn’t visible in the dark glass but was red and unsightly in a mirror. Marley could hear her heart beat in her forehead and tinnitus singing in her sinuses.

Ah, her desk, her little cubicle. She thanked the powers that be that her cubicle walls were the tall kind. No one could see her unless they happened to walk behind her. A secret square in the middle of the office. She sipped her coffee. What an eventful morning. Hopefully the rest of the day wouldn’t be so—

The phone rang. Marley flinched, spilling her coffee. It’s one of those days, then.

Prioritizing vs. Balance

One of the most important things you learn in college, people will tell you, is how to prioritize.

For me, prioritizing wasn’t only a factor in choosing which essay to write first—it also applied to my personal values. You can probably list a few things you value highly, like honesty, or perseverance, or family. And you can probably rank them from most to least important, a form of prioritizing. The problem with this ranking form of prioritizing is that while it does keep the top values important, it tends to let the lower values fall to the wayside. It creates the illusion that the lower values are unnecessary…and they’re not. Let me explain–

When I was planning this semester, I ranked my internship as the first priority, my education second, and my friends and free time third. This was what I thought I was supposed to do, and after all it does make logical sense. College exists to get you a better job, right? So placing my job over my education made sense, and people always say “school first, friends later,” so that made sense as well. Do my job, do my schoolwork, and then all the free time goes to my friends.

Well, this system didn’t work as well as I thought it would. I ended up feeling guilty whenever I was with my friends, and worse, I always felt rushed and spent most of the time with them glancing at the clock no matter what I was doing. I would skip important classes to cover assignments, since work took priority, and I would skip events I wanted to go to to do homework, since school took priority, and soon I found myself cutting out friends more and more and using those precious hours to take naps, as sleep was at the bottom of the totem pole and nearly always got shafted for more important things. Doing that made me feel guilty for spending too much time asleep, and so on.

I was falling apart, but didn’t know why. I thought I was finding a “work/life balance” like all those fancy BBC articles told me I should, but I didn’t feel balanced, I felt exhausted.

Prioritizing works alright for writing papers and doing assignments, but when it comes to scheduling your life, a more fluid system works far better. I told myself to look at the clock less, to listen more to myself and others. To do my work, sure, but to do things to make me happy as well. “As well,” not “instead.”

I realized that happiness wasn’t on my list of priorities at all. I figured that this semester would be crunch time, saving money and getting experience for the future. With my boyfriend returning from Mexico and my upcoming trip to Europe, I had time in the future to be happy, but for now, happiness wasn’t important. However, thinking about how I would be happy in the future didn’t make me happy in the present, it only made me sadder as I calculated the seemingly endless days and weeks and months until his return and my departure.

A while ago I was discussing with my roommate the “nomadic” lifestyle of traveling the country in an RV working minimum wage jobs. She said if it made people happy, then they should do it. I said it would be naive to assume that life was all smiles and roses, and that having the security of a job would allow for a more comfortable life. We were both right. The RV life would be difficult, but if it made people happy, then they should do it. I am just now seeing that both of those things being true at the same time is both possible and necessary.

Balance isn’t about prioritizing. Balance is about…balance. Happiness and success, together, both in healthy amounts. You shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other. And neither should I.

Human Culture Shock

Today my friend from high school is coming to stay the night, since he’s on spring break and I don’t have class on Fridays. I’m a little nervous about it. Sure, we’re friends, but we’re usually in a group. Also, I haven’t seen him since December. Are we the kind of friends than can click back in place after so long, without anyone else? I guess we’re about to find out.

Human culture shock is a term I use to describe the feeling of seeing someone again for the first time in a long time. If you’re super familiar with their “culture” as a person, like with your parent or sibling, no shock happens, but the less familiar you are with them, coupled with how long you’ve spent apart, the more shock you get. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile who falls under the “shockable” threshold, I usually find myself in a constant state of awe. I like hearing their voice again, seeing their little mannerisms, remembering where their freckles are and how they walk and laugh. But it’s always a bit nerve wracking, too.

The small talk factor is always terrible, naturally. But also, I can’t help but feel like I’m being sized up. Who won? Since we saw each other last, who is doing better? Who’s gotten hotter, or less attractive? Who got their hair cut, who’s in a relationship? Who still dresses like they’re in middle school? We’re both judging each other to a point, whether consciously or not.

Woes of an introvert…

I don’t know how much of this is going to happen with my friend tonight. Probably not much. It’s the awkwardness I’m more afraid of. Going from never seeing him for three months to seeing him for nearly 24 hours straight might be a lot to handle.

I also feel this way about family gatherings. Who knows how to act around people you don’t know that well, even if you once knew them perfectly?

I think I just have to relax. After all, we used to be such good friends, and all culture shock, human or otherwise, fades away eventually. We’re adaptable creatures, and nothing stays awkward for too long.

I cna’t spell for the lfie of me

Do you have those words you just can’t spell right? Mine is “receive.” That i-before-e-except-after-c rule is ridiculous, in my opinion. I’m a native English speaker, and I still spell half the words I type wrong. The most worn-down key on my keyboard is easily the back-space. Good thing I live in a time after typewriters, or I’d go through gallons of white-out a day.

I realize it’s partially because I type too fast and sometimes go on autopilot; sometimes my fingers act like autocorrect, incorrectly. Like in that last sentence, when I went to write “fast” I automatically wrote “face.” I also sometimes just don’t hit the right key, with no excuse.

Another thing I’m just recently realizing is that while my backspace is hopelessly overused, my right-shift key is barely touched. I just use the left shift key for everything, no matter what I’m capitalizing. Plus, that home-key nonsense? Please, my hands hover over the keyboard like it’s made of lava.

When I write longhand, my spelling is a bit better, but my handwriting is atrocious. Good thing we live in a time after computers, or reading this blog would just give you a headache.

To prove to you my terrible spelling, I’ll leave the rest of this unedited:

I wonder sometimes whey I’m alwaus in a rush. I guess I always have neen. I’ve always walked fact in the whllway, I’ve alwas written fac,e read fast, gotten myu homework done vcast. Like yeaterday, I think it’s time I learn to slow down. It would be best, fr everyone, if I took a breath every once in a while. That’s good anydice for anyone out there.

Stop and smell the roses. Well, I don’t knoaw. It’s a constand conflict with me—shoule I relax a bit, or keep moving forward (as Walt Disney said)? I’m in a great internship, but the youngerst one here. I’m takig night classes to get athead, at the expense of rarely seeing my friends. I’m fighting super hard to get into the study aborad program, which is oemsthing I want separately from my acreer or school.

And I’m still looiing for summer internships…maybe I’m a bit crazy. Ovre ambitious. It couldn’t hurt to take a break. Stretch betwen workouts. Check for spelling…

Where do you all stand on this? Do you hit the left shift key? Do you spell “receive” correctly? Do you fret and worry and move too quickly to breathe?

As introverts, we work well alone. We work best when we have time to recharge. If we don’t, we’ll get worn out far too quickly, and won’t be able to get anything done. Perhaps it’s time I listen to my own advice.

When I get overwhelmed….about nothing

Today, as the title suggests, I got overwhelmed about basically nothing. There wasn’t a ton of work to do at my internship, and I’ve done all my school work for the week. I just got overwhelmed. The computer screen was so bright, and people around me were being difficult, and it was just a lot to take in.

It wasn’t just that I had no reason to get overwhelmed, it’s the fact that I had nothing to do that overwhelmed me. It’s like when you’re about to go to sleep and suddenly you regret that one thing you did three years ago to the lady at the supermarket and all of a sudden it’s a sleepless night of worrying about one thing after another. The empty space fills itself pretty quickly. That, plus my eyes burning, just made me want to go to sleep.

It might just be an introvert thing. I don’t know, frankly, but I’ve never met an extrovert who stresses out over the lack of things to do. They usually just…find something to do. For me, I guess there’s just a time where I’m tired of listening to the intern next to me calling the same people over and over about human waste fertilizer (not kidding) and having people email me about stuff I don’t know, and “will this be in the paper, then?” and “why didn’t you pick me for the cartoon caption contest?” and so much just….constant frustration, everywhere. It’s a cloud of frustration wherever I go, and it just seemed to follow me everywhere today.

So what do you do, when everything gives you a headache?

Take a break. I went down to the mailroom to get the mail, bought a cup of tea, washed my hands a few times in the bathroom, walked around the building. A fifteen minute break from sitting in the cubicle was a saving grace. But soon the anxiety was coming back.

And it was at such high levels. And I kept thinking, why am I stressing out, I have nothing to worry about, which just stressed me out more.

My answer is music….it seems to always help. I plugged in and let the music fill me as I worked, and God…I’m so glad I still buy my music, because I can’t figure out spotify or anything and being able to make my own playlists is a dream. Choosing what comes on next for the next 25 songs? It’s heaven, I swear.

It helped me through it. Even if doing nothing was stressy, the music made me feel less empty. It filled me up. And kept me…I don’t know…stable.

Everyone has something different. I’d suggest keeping it with you at all times. This blog is kind of disorganized, but hopefully it helps some fellow anxious introverts out there. Even though we like being alone, it’s nice to know we aren’t. There’s people like us, even if we think we’re the only ones.

On Being Overwhelmed, Part 2

Deep in the third week of class, my excitement has tapered down to a beige drone. I’m no longer ready to learn, I’m mostly just ready to go to sleep.

The to-do lists are piling up at the same rate as my homework assignments. I’m drowning in paper.

One of my teachers spends all of class yelling about how the environment is dying and we need to treat animals as equals. What class is this, you ask? Multicultural Literature. I wake up for her 8 am class and listen to her rant about the food industry, the pain and suffering in the world…all while drinking imported coffee.

Then there’s British Literature. We’re focusing on poetry, which to me might as well be written in Martian. We switch to prose in two weeks…just gotta hang on until then.

History of Islam is interesting, but the reading is a bore and I find myself drowsing during lectures.

Study of Behavior is alright, another lecture-heavy class. We’re on anatomy now, learning about neurons and how mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Finally, my saving grace, my four hour Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction class, which I love with my heart and soul and yet only happens once a week.

A lot of college feels like a waste of time. Trying to motivate myself to do my homework never works, because I’m not doing it because I’m being paid to, or to help someone, or for fun. I’m doing it for myself. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t love my future self enough to put my present self through such misery.

It’s like how you work out so you don’t break down in old age. Sure, it’s good for you, but it’s a lot of pain and suffering to save yourself…pain. And suffering. It’s, do I pay the toll now or later?

With education, I barely have a choice. I have to pay the toll now. I have to get educated. I have to hold my breath and clench my fists and listen to the lectures and read the books and manage a way to tie a crazy cat lady’s rant to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. For future me.

I better appreciate it.

On Being Overwhelmed

I am waist-deep in the first week of classes, and my mind is a-whir with activity. With so much to read and write for my overloaded schedule, days seem to last weeks. I enjoy it, honestly. Being busy has always been good for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

Over-stimulation, a common problem in introverts and especially prevalent in myself, can occur even when alone in a room. When you aren’t reading for pleasure or browsing half-mindlessly, words can become loud in your head, echoing, hard to understand.

I have a few tricks and tips to overcome isolated overwhelmedness, most of which seem rather obvious in retrospect. I do chores while listening to a podcast. I cook myself a little meal. I take breaks to browse YouTube, I take a nap, I play cards with a roommate. It is amazing how much more I can get done when I’m not going in one big push. Little nudges work much better.

I’m majoring in a degree that focuses on writing, literature, and publishing, as well as a minor in journalism. The reading amount is astounding. I’m pushing through, though, with a little help from this past long weekend. Maybe some yoga soon. Maybe some tea.