22. Become more emotionally aware/mature

“We must be our own before we can be another’s.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve always gotten a lot of comfort from quotes.  Someone, maybe a long time ago, maybe in a place far away from me and in a social position way different from mine, put pen to paper and summed up thoughts that might have taken me two thousand words to explain in just a few sentences (or shorter.)  So I’m going to be working through number twenty-two on my list through quotes, by deconstructing and reinterpreting them in the context of my own life.

You have to love yourself first.  I’ve heard that a lot since I was a teenager and my gut reaction was always yeah, I guess I love myself, check that one off the list!  This Emerson quote is a more elegant way of saying the same thing: be comfortable in your own skin before you bring someone else into your life.  It’s always seemed like a good relationship ‘prerequisite’ to me, but only recently did I realize that it’s essential.

First, realizing that I’m worthy of being loved and am, in fact, completely desirable.  My teenage years were awkward; I was used to being considered ‘weird’ and that’s something it took me a long time to grow out of.  But finally I woke up and realized that I can shape my life into whatever I want.  I can be a vegetarian, can run a few miles every day, bake, dance, read.  I can be a person that I would find attractive and worthy.  And, in becoming that person, I gained a sense of confidence and independence that made me unwilling to settle for anyone less.

Right now I think my self confidence is at an all-time high.  I DO love myself and in turn I’m able to take better care of myself than I have in the past.  I’ve shed most destructive behaviors and significantly dialed back the negative voice in my head insisting that I can never change.

I like to think of it in cliche, Oprah-esque terms: I’m dating myself.  I love my own company.  I love looking good, being in shape, engaging in activities that make me happy.  I don’t need to be in a relationship right now.  Would it be nice?  Yeah, definitely!  But I’m content to wait for someone who is my equal, who complements my personality and pushes me to succeed.  I know what I want and more importantly, I know that when I meet him I’ll feel like I deserve all the wonderful things to come.

7. Take one weekend adventure per month [November, Orange County]

So I didn’t get the chance to blog about last month’s adventure, but I wound up taking a wonderful trip down the coast to Monterey.  Many pictures were taken (which may materialize later… looking at you, Tom!), much seafood was eaten and I was able to finish a book while lounging on a rock at the beach. Overall, an awesome trip.

I decided to make this item less ambitious over the holidays since I’ll be doing a lot of traveling (and spending a lot of money!) to see family.  This weekend I’m in Orange County visiting my uncle, aunt and cousins.  Since they’ll be moving to Kansas City in a couple months I feel super lucky to get to spend some more time with them (and in such a beautiful place!)

After Thanksgiving dinner, my cousin and I made our annual pilgrimage to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.  I’m always pretty amazed by how stunningly beautiful this place is.  Shame that this is our last Thanksgiving in California!  Maybe next year we’ll be writing our names in the snow.

Walking down to the beach

Walking down to the beach

Sunset over the ocean

Sunset over the ocean

Toes in the sand! Something you can't do in SF...

Toes in the sand! Something you can’t do in SF…

Took some cute selfies!

Took some cute selfies!

.. and some silly selfies.

.. and some silly selfies.

actually,  a lot of silly selfies.

actually, a lot of silly selfies.

8. Start Dancing Again [2]

I had my third ballet class on Sunday. I’ve started to memorize most of the combinations (they’re the same every week, which helps) and I’ve gained a little bit of confidence.  I actually got two compliments from the instructor last time (and like five corrections, but who’s counting?) so I’m feeling darn good about everything.

I’d definitely like to go en pointe someday.  I’m not sure if now is the right time in my life to strive for that, but perhaps after I’ve gotten my degree and am in the working world I can afford to focus more of my energy (and money) on pushing myself to that next level.

8. Start Dancing Again

In high school I decided that I wanted to become a dancer.  I’d been told for years that I had the body for it and dancers were pretty and coordinated, two things that I felt I was seriously lacking at the time.  So I signed up for lessons at the studio around the corner from my house in the ‘burbs and stumbled through their beginner classes.  Mostly I hid in the back with the only slightly chubby girl in the class and the only boy, who was the son of the studio’s owner.  That kid not only had guts but had memorized all the capitals of every country in the world and wasn’t shy about reciting them.

I took another year of ballet in college and then stopped to focus on school and work.  I never got to be very good; my long legs felt like more of a liability than anything else and I was terrible at spotting (which prevents you from getting dizzy during turns.)  But I loved the feeling of a deep stretch and as a closet narcissist the idea of looking at myself in a mirror for an hour and a half has always held some appeal.

So two weekends ago, my friend Jayne and I started going to fundamental ballet classes at the Berkeley Ballet Theater.  We’re both in pretty good shape (she teaches fitness classes, I run) but the first class still kicked our ass.  The teacher, Robert, is just great and I can already feel myself improving.  The classes are drop in, but Jayne and I have created a tradition (Ballet and Bourbon sundays– first ballet class, then Prizefighter for drinks) so I think we’ll be sticking with it for a while.

I also went to my very first Lindy (swing) dance on Tuesday which was a BLAST.  I love partnered/social dancing almost as much as ballet, and I picked it up a little quicker than I thought I would.

Caffeine/Research/Teaching/Rambling

Let it be known up front that I am VERY caffeinated right now.

BUT!  I am excited about several things that I feel compelled to share.

1.  I have, at last, found a new topic for my Unbuilt paper.  And it’s exciting.  And I get to watch movies as part of my research.  This is rad.

2. I’ve narrowed my argument for my STS paper.

3. Both of those topics are related to my larger research interests (HUZZAH!)

4. As a result, my research is seriously exciting to me right now.

5. My students are turning in the rough draft of their papers today.  I only got ONE request for an extension! I’m such a proud GSI.  My students, KIND OF THE BEST.  They totally listened to me when I told them to start their papers early.  Either that or I just got a bunch of students who already have good time management skills.

In other, list-related news, I’ve started lessons at the Berkeley Ballet Theater (lead with your heels!) so a post about that is forthcoming.  I’ve been calling my mom once a week (on Tuesdays).  And I think my week without complaining will start Sunday.  Awww yeah.

Weather, or a lack thereof

It’s fall, even in California.  Last October I barely noticed fall; the leaves changed, the air grew crisper, but it was almost Christmas before we turned on the heat.

This year fall seems more present.  Last night when I was riding back from the gym it was in the low fifties/high forties, people were bundled up (YES, bundled up!!) and I decided to ride home in a sleeveless top and jeans.  It felt good, cruising downhill towards home, cool air on my arms.  This is close to the coldest it will ever get out here, with the exception of some especially chilly, rainy days.

It’s strange to think that I might not have another real fall for the next four years.  It’s days like yesterday when my friends here point at me and say “You are DEFINITELY headed back east once you’ve graduated.”  Who can say for sure?   I just hope I don’t wind up making a rash decision and moving to, say, Montana in search of some real weather.

3. Go without Facebook for a month [The Conclusion]

So it’s been approximately one month, perhaps a little more, since I shuttered my facebook.

To break it down quantitatively…

 

Number of Facebook friends: ~255

Number of friends I text/talk to on a near-daily basis:  8

Number of distant friends who contacted me after realizing I left Facebook: 2

 

I was hoping to come up with a few more numerical measurements, but I’m at a bit of a loss due to a severely fried brain (thanks, STS reading!)  However, the conclusion that I’m trying to get at is that while I no longer have hundreds of ‘friends’ within reach, the ones I do talk to regularly are the kinds of people I would share almost anything with.

The other reason I wanted to step away from Facebook was due to all the time I spent self-fashioning and making sure my public persona matched the person that I want myself to be.  It seemed like a lot of work, this process of getting people to like and/or admire me, and generally not worth my time.  This turned out to be true, although I realized that we all tinker with our identities in different ways both on and offline to make them conform to what we perceive as our inner selves.

I also waste much less time checking Facebook on my phone and, as a result, feel a little bit more connected to the world around me.  Making eye contact with and talking to strangers, what a novel concept!  I still usually have my headphones in while I’m walking, but I like to think that not constantly having my nose buried in my phone has made me more approachable and social.

Things that I feel I’m missing out on: photos of friends (especially my friend’s adorable kids!), events (I’ve missed a few since the invite was only on Facebook) and access to my own photos, some of which reside solely on Facebook.

I haven’t reactivated my account yet because I still don’t feel the need to do so.  When I feel like it’s really hampering my enjoyment of life (unlikely) I’ll return.

 

12. Get my nose pierced

I always thought that after I got my cartilage pierced, I’d be finished with piercings.  More holes in my body?  Pass.  Plus, needles were never my favorite.

Recently I’ve gotten considerably less squeamish and did a bit of thinking about if a nose piercing was something I wanted.  They’re much more common in California than in New Jersey (or maybe I just happen to notice them more here) so maintaining a ‘professional’ look wasn’t much of a concern.  Once I decided to take the plunge, I contacted a local friend of mine who has a few tattoos and piercings to ask for a recommendation.  Even better, Jayne was willing to come along with me to the tattoo parlor and grab a beer afterwards at the Trappist.

I was barely nervous waiting my turn, listening to the tattoo guns buzz and the girl in line in front of me pick out jewelry.  But sitting up on that table with a heavily pierced asian woman’s hands up my nose?  Yes, yes, that was weird and stomach churning and oh-god-please-don’t-put-any-holes-where-there-shouldn’t-be.

It hurt for a split second; by the time I registered the pain it was over and I was trying to get used to the feeling of metal inside my nostril.  It turned out pretty darn cute, if I can brag for a moment, and I’m currently resisting the urge to pierce anything else.

Image

Productivity

It’s very easy to figure out ways in which I’m not productive but significantly more difficult to determine how I can flip those around and make myself more productive.

I think everybody involved in a competitive endeavor, whether graduate school or otherwise, is striving towards maximum productivity.  Personally, I’m looking for maximum productivity while simultaneously maximizing my enjoyment of life, which includes doing things that seem counterproductive (drinks with friends in the city on a school night? why not!) but are in fact just as productive as all of the hours I spend sitting in front of the computer.  But that’s a totally different topic.

I’m slightly unexcited to announce that, starting tomorrow, I will be doing two things to make myself more productive:

1. No email before noon.

This will be difficult. First I need to turn off the push notifications on my phone.  Then I need to simply not check my email before noon.    I might eventually modify this to be “No email until you’ve gotten up, ready, and have done your obligatory one hour of seminar paper research.”  Which leads me to…

2.  One hour per day, in the morning, of seminar paper research.

Seminar papers are, by far, the most important part of graduate school at this stage.  But I find myself leaving the research off until the end of the day, when I’m exhausted from GSI duties and reading for other classes.  The easy solution is to block off an hour, immediately after I’m vertical and have had my first cup of tea, to just buckle down and do it.  That way when I get to the end of the day I can let my mind wander a little more when I’m doing the tasks that are less essential.  This idea is courtesy of accountability buddy Eric in Chicago and those faculty diversity emails that I’m signed up for (Monday Motivators, huzzah!)  Both of them happened to have the same idea at the same time, which means it must be worth trying.

I also need to start trying to fix my awful sleeping patterns.  I’ve been averaging about 5-6 hours a night, usually waking up every few hours for no reason at all, and taking ages to fall asleep.  I’ve tried white noise, audiobooks, regular books, no screen time before bed, no food before bed, no caffeine after 5 pm… but no luck.  So that’s going to be the next thing that gets fixed around here!