Last Fall, in my first semester of graduate school, I wrote in a reflection assignment for class about how I planned to manage it all. “It all” meaning a full-time job, what feels like more-than-part-time school, and providing some semblance of an adequate life for myself (involving a number of s-words: sustenance, shelter, sleep, social life?). I said a few nice things about maintaining a regular schedule and blogging as a creative outlet. My professor commented, “What a great idea!”
Sorry for the silence, folks, but I guess the only thing certain in life is that I will never maintain a regular posting schedule. I promise I have more in my series on buying a house, but I’ve flown through my queued posts and now I am writing them as we go and it has been a slow progress.
I haven’t even written about the last two months.
Besides my work with The Smudgery and my upcoming foray into graduate school, my current full-time job is as an administrative assistant. It’s not particularly glamorous, but it’s in a field that I’m really interested. Also, I harbor somewhat secret dreams that maybe I will be that one administrator who believed in someone and that support changed the course of this person’s life. It’s really the product of too many sensational underdog movies, but you can never underestimate the power of a kind word and an act of support.
I talked with a friend the other day about her experience in an intensive nursing program while also working full time. Between her clinical hours and her work, she spent seven days a week in a hospital — working. She told me that yes, it was hard, but every day she was so inspired by each of her classes and by her professors. Being in class was her favorite thing to do, and applying her learning to her practice was absolutely fulfilling. She thought, “Wow! This is what it means to love what you do.” It’s not that it was easy, but the love she had for it provided a renewing source of energy and passion.
Some nights dinner consists of boxed mac and cheese, frozen vegetables, and whatever leftover meat is in the fridge. But sometimes those same nights are the ones when you finally submit your last graduate school application, go to yoga with a friend you haven’t seen in months, submit your FAFSA, and make exciting travel plans. I also put stamps on all of my thank you cards to family members that I will mail out tomorrow (I am notoriously bad at sending punctual thank yous!). So maybe my dinner didn’t knock my night out of the park, but I can definitely say that I spent my time doing things that nourish the soul.
Hey, remember how I said that I was going to sleep earlier and wake up earlier? And remember how I said I was feeling sick, so I was trying to get more rest? Well, it’s 3:30am right now and I just can’t fall sleep.
The other day I woke up with what felt like a rock in my throat. Every swallow brought a sharp stab. The weather had dropped about twenty degrees recently and everyone around me seems to have some sort of bug or another. I decided to call in sick, hoping to nip it in the bud.
After sleeping in an extra hour or two (who can say, really?) I made myself a cup of ginger and honey tea and decided to spend some time on The Smudgery. It’s been a while. I have been busy with graduate school applications, friends visiting from California, and Halloween!
My mom used to say that trying to wake me up in the morning was like entering a dragon’s lair. As I got older she would send in my dog, that noble dragon-slaying beagle, who would lay his head on my bed, whine, and occasionally lick any body part that stuck out from under the sheets.
In my college years I would revel in that 3am energy surge. “Fourth wind!” I would shout as I pulled an all-nighter, madly typing that essay with a Red Bull bubbling next to my computer. I was convinced that my best, most creative work happened just before dawn.
When I first wrote this post, it was very negative. I was expressing frustration with the feeling that I have been doing very little. How unambitious my life seems. I’ve been wrestling a lot with balancing self-care and self-improvement. Sometimes it feels like it’s so much work just to maintain a status quo — to pay the bills, feed yourself, practice good hygiene, be somewhat presentable at work/to the outside world. I have felt like I haven’t had the time or the energy to work on the multitudes of amateur endeavors that I have hoped to take on — crafting, drawing, photography, web design, reading and writing more. But I have to remind myself how much has been going on in my life and to appreciate the every day opportunities and experiences, both big and small, that cross my path.
The polar vortex continues to wreak havoc on our patience and energy here in New York. I can’t speak for anywhere else, though I know we don’t have it nearly as bad as the midwest… or the northeast. In any case, work has not been as generous in giving out snow days and I have had to make the blizzardy commute on more than a few occasions. Sometimes it is beautiful but most of the time the snow is slushy, the curbside puddles unexpectedly deep, and the general mood: sour. But I can’t complain too much. I do love watching snow fall (from the warm side of the window), and sometimes winter does some beautiful things to the environment, much of which I never experienced growing up in California.
Here’s some of the highlights, as documented on my instagram (follow me! like my stuff!).
On January 21, 2014 we closed early due to the snow. I frolicked in Washington Square Park until my hands froze (about 10 minutes) and my touchscreen stopped registering my fingertips.
On February 5, 2014, after a night of freezing rain, the trees were covered in a beautiful layer of ice.
On Thursday, February 13, 2014, I had hoped we’d close for a snow day. It was beautiful out in Queens, but I couldn’t linger to enjoy it. In the city it was mostly dirty slush and high winds. It turned to freezing rain later in the day. We were allowed to leave at 3pm.
As I write now, snow is gently floating past my window. J is getting lunch with his family and I am just happy to stay safe and warm in my apartment with my milk tea and soft, upbeat music.
One thing about the extended winter is that stores are already preparing for Spring, resulting in both a woeful lack of good winter boots and the happy chance of getting this delicious pumpkin spice tea on clearance! Luckily, I think my fuzzy winter boots will make it through this season.