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‘I’m Sorry, I’m Busy’: A Chaotic Schedule and Added Stress of Those Who Don’t Understand

Published December 13, 2014 by harleyquinnly

I am not writing this blog to sound pretentious or as a ‘look at me! I’m so important because I’m so busy!’ I am writing it because I have been under an immense amount of stress from grad school requirements but additional stress has been added by ‘friends’ that do not understand the work it takes and why I am unavailable for long periods of time. I constantly tell them ‘thank you, but I have to work on my paper’ and send them pictures of the piles of papers/books taking over my house, and yet every time I have a due date, I am bombarded with guilt trip text messages (“you could make time if you wanted to”) or people that flat out refuse to speak to me. I am tired, and tired of it. So here is a look at my typical week’s schedule. This is why I am unavailable and why someday I’ll be called doctor.

(Side note: I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends I have that understand my schedule, never complain at me, and appreciate when I am able to see them. Thank you.)

This is literally my home office. And I'm normally a super clean person.

This is literally my home office. And I’m normally a super clean person.

I will gladly acknowledge that it is not the easiest to be my friend. I have to check out for weeks at a time when due dates come up. I am not always available for a hangout. Sometimes I have to go months without seeing people. I could remember to check up on people more often. But I do not deserve the added stress just because I am an extremely busy person.

Just one pile of books.

Just one pile of books.

The Schedule

Weekdays: 

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Work

Yes, I am a full time student and I have a full time job. I don’t choose to have this life, it was what I was dealt. I am financially unable to only attend school without working and I happen to like food and shelter. I am also unwilling to take out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans I will never be able pay off. There are next to no jobs for history Ph.D.s and those that do exist often do not pay enough to survive on, much less added loan payments. Excuse me for being financially responsible. (I am not throwing shade at those who have students. You do what you have to do. I’m meaning the unnecessary ones).

6 to 7:30 p.m.: Workout then Dinner

The commute home takes me an hour due to traffic, idiocy, and a lack of infrastructure for growing populations. I workout for half an hour (just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be healthy). I make dinner quickly and watch whatever is on tv at the time, usually a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory.”

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I'm in school.

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I’m in school.

7:30 to ~11 p.m. Schoolwork

I spend every evening of every single workday working on schoolwork. This month I have large essays due that require a lot of incorporated reading. I literally do not leave my ‘command center’ I’ve set up on my kitchen table every. single. evening. Therefore, I do not have time to do anything else.

My "command center" on my kitchen table. I live here.

My “command center” on my kitchen table. I live here.

Me in my favorite recliner.

Me in my favorite recliner.

My One Free Day

I usually allow myself one evening a week for free time. Think about if you were working from 8 a.m. until ~10 p.m. without a break. What would you feel like doing on your rare break? Sometimes I get free movie tickets and go see a movie with a friend/date. Other times I just want to veg out on my couch with my non-judgmental friend, Netflix. I apologize for not instantly running to you for your social needs. Also, with only one night out a week, I can only see so many people in that limited amount of time.

Weekends

Hey, it’s the weekend so I have all this free time, right? Nope. Because I work during the weekday, weekends are the only time I get to get work done for long spans of time. When I have papers due, these are the days that I write them.

9 to 10 a.m. Breakfast and Wake Up Time

I usually let myself sleep in until 9 a.m. This is catch-up sleep for me. I get up, make my eggs and tea, and relax for an hour on my couch. I am human and need a little relax time interspersed.

10 to 10:30 a.m. Shower

After breakfast, I shower. Unless I have to see something or do something outside my house, I don’t do hair or makeup and stay in yoga pants.

10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. or sometimes until 4 a.m.

I work on schoolwork the entire day, taking about an hour for lunch and dinner. I sometimes stay up until 4 a.m. because I have a due date and it’s okay if I’m completely sleep-deprived at home rather than at work. These are full days working on schoolwork. I understand people don’t get that I have so much of a workload I have to work this long on weekend. I do.

My dinners usually look like this.

My dinners usually look like this.

So, in conclusion, I have taken time out of my study schedule to detail my schedule. Hopefully it inspires further understanding but I’ve done all I can do. This is my life, please understand or at least respect it.

Why Am I Doing This? A Dangerous Question During Exam Time for Graduate Students

Published August 17, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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I am a Ph.D. student in History. I am having an existential crisis. This can apply to people in any type of situation when it gets tough and makes you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Sometimes you don’t have an answer. 

To earn a Ph.D. in history at my university, you must take so many semesters/credit hours of coursework, earning a grade no lower than a B. That is not enough to prove your worth, however. You must take three, six hour long exams over three days, known as comprehensive exams (comps). The three exams are your general field (US history), secondary field (American West), and a minor field (Public History). 

Why are these so daunting? For me personally, I am not good at tests. Sure, I know the information inside and out but when I am handed an exam I can’t even remember what name to put at the top of the page. I will do reviews, projects, or write you a frickin’ book but don’t give me a test. In addition, I am aware that the exam can ask anything that happened in the United States from 1492 until the 1980s. That’s roughly five hundred years of stuff. And you must know what every historian has written about each era as well. 

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Yes, I’m aware it’s a form of academic hazing. It’s weeding out the lesser, supposed to be humbling, etc. As if taking (and acing) history courses for about ten years isn’t good enough. And humbling? What about surviving the professors that routinely made your colleagues cry and whose classes required multiple all-nighters (not from procrastination either). 

What I’m getting at, besides being whiney, is today after I found out I must also submit a dissertation proposal during the exact same time as I’m supposed to be studying (and getting signatures from my committee is like herding cats). I made the mistake of asking myself, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I even getting my Ph.D.?”

exist crisis

Most people go to graduate school to get degrees required for higher jobs. I went for my Ph.D. because I had just gone through a divorce, wanted to avoid a personal life, and only knew of adulthood through the lens of a college student. I genuinely love the classroom and reading, any academic pursuit really. If I had unlimited scholarships I would be happy doing nothing but being a perpetual student. 

But then there’s real life. The place where I had to quit my dream job I went to graduate school for in the first place because it didn’t pay enough for me to survive on. The place where I work a horrid 40+ hours a week job with a verbally abusive boss before going home to stress over these exams. I’m proud to say that through hard work, scholarships, help, and luck I have no student loans, but I’ve paid dearly for that in other ways. Because I work, I am unable to dedicate myself to publishing (which is the only means to employment, if you can even find it). So why am I doing this?

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In addition, where I live, having higher education makes you more unemployable than a felon. I often lie and leave off my higher education on resumes or I don’t receive interviews or are flat out told I am over-educated, over-qualified, etc. Smart people need to eat too. (I’m serious about the felon part-I know of a registered sex offender that has a job that pays three times as much as mine)

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I wish I could end this post with an enlightened, ‘This is what I reminded myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing’ but I’m not there yet. I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’m doing this because I’ve already worked for three years to get this far into the Ph.D. Maybe because school was the only thing I felt I was ever good at and base my sense of worth upon it. 

Perhaps this is why you seldom see sober Ph.D. students when they’re studying for comps.

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Hooking Up, Dating, or Whatever the Hell This Is

Published June 7, 2014 by harleyquinnly

Yep. Dating, or whatever you choose to call it, is confusing.

Tequila Mockingbird

Have you ever wondered, ‘Am I dating this person?’ or ‘Am I their boy/girlfriend, booty call, etc.” Where the hell do I stand with this person? In today’s culture it can be a little less than vague. I mean, because we’re just supposed to automatically know through our powers of mind-reading.

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A Little Background

I married young (stupidly in my case) and never really dated. I just had steady, longterm, monogamous relationships. When I became single I had no idea how this dating thing worked. The last relationship I had that didn’t end in marriage or started to end up that way was in high school. So all I had to go off of is, ‘Well, he didn’t ignore me today and actually drove me home instead of ditching me for his garage band so I must be his girlfriend.’ Not so applicable in the adult world. At least I…

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Fate, Not Luck: Where I Was Always Supposed to Be

Published May 9, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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 Have you ever lost something/someone in your life or felt you were heading in a wrong direction, or at least the one you weren’t meant for? Four years ago I lost the person most dear to me. When I say loss I don’t mean death. I mean a severing of every ounce of my being as they chose a direction in life that didn’t include me. After intense mourning I picked myself up and sought a pleasing path in life. Now, in an uncomprehending turn of events, he has come back. And he still feels like home.

What happens when you get off track for years and then the option comes back? Maybe this option is back because that was the track you were always meant to be on. Perhaps you have to be away from it for a while to grow and learn to fully appreciate it. I always felt like my life was half-assed after the end of us. Not because I didn’t try, I broke myself trying so hard to find/make something right. To have a new dream, a new path in life. But nothing ever felt right. I felt like I was living in this horrible limbo, with nothing I could do to ever make anything right.

With the events in both our lives in the past four years apart without any contact, I believe that we would have eventually found each other again. We both had experiences that forced us to learn the lessons we needed to understand each other. This time, for the first time since May 13, 2011, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Maybe we can talk naturally like nothing ever happened because we were always meant to be together. It was fate, not luck.

But now there are choices. I can keep stumbling through life, lost, with the hope that I find a path I want, even though deep down I know one doesn’t exist for me. Or I have the opportunity to get back on track, have the life I was always meant to have. Both comes with risk: in the first option I could live forever in limbo. In the second I could lose him and have to experience the severing again.

Oddly after the first contact, I felt no anger. I felt a rush of emotion I haven’t been able to feel in four years. I simultaneously wanted to cry and smile. Even though I had clung to so much hurt and anger for years, in that instant I realized I had let it go. He said everything I’d wanted, and more importantly, needed, to hear all along and never realized it. Even though I am in no way a risk-taker, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. It was where he was supposed to be. This is how we find a home, it’s how we make a life.

I loathe to admit it, but I am so scared…and excited. Just like when we first met when I was seventeen years old I giddily await his message, cling to every word, and for the first time in years, care about someone. I don’t have to pretend, or tell myself this is what emotion will feel like for the rest of my life. It’s there, I know it’s always been there.

In this exciting, terrifying, and beautiful time, I have turned to music as I always do. This song by Ellie Goulding perfectly speaks to me.

 

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” I Know You Care”

Clinging to me

Like a last breath you would breathe
You were like home to me
I don’t recognize the street

Please don’t close your eyes
Don’t know where to look without them
Outside the cars speed by
I never heard them until now

I know you care
I know it has always been there
But there’s trouble ahead, I can feel it
You are just saving yourself when you hide it

Yeah, I know you care
I see it in the way you stare
As if there was trouble ahead and you knew it
I’ll be saving myself from the ruin
And I know you care

I used to run down the stairs
To the door and I thought you were there
Do you shape through to the comfort of us?
Two lovers loved out of love

Oh, but I know you care
I know it is always been there
Thought there was trouble ahead, I can feel it
You are just saving yourself when you hide it

Yeah, I know you care
I see it in the way you stare
As if there was trouble ahead and you knew it
I’ll be saving myself from the ruin

And know it wasn’t always wrong
But I’ve never known a winter so cold
Now I don’t warm my hands in your coat
But I still hope

‘Cause this is how things ought to have been
And I know the worst of it wasn’t all that it seemed
Why can’t I dream?
Why can’t I dream?

‘Cause I know you care
And I know you care
I know you care
I know you care
I know it’s always been there

Twenty Simple Ways to Increase Your Happiness

Published April 11, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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Happiness is eternally variable. But these little, simple things can help.

We’re not suggesting that you can reach a permanent state called “happiness” and remain there. But there are many ways to swerve off the path of anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness into a state of happiness once or even several times throughout the day. Here are twenty ideas to get you started. Choose the ones that work for you. If tuning out the news or making lists will serve only to stress you further, try another approach.

1. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment. Instead of worrying about your checkup tomorrow while you have dinner with your family, focus on the here and now — the food, the company, the conversation.

2. Laugh out loud. Just anticipating a happy, funny event can raise levels of endorphins and other pleasure-inducing hormones and lower production of stress hormones. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, tested 16 men who all agreed they thought a certain videotape was funny. Half were told three days in advance they would watch it. They started experiencing biological changes right away. When they actually watched the video, their levels of stress hormones dropped significantly, while their endorphin levels rose 27 percent and their growth hormone levels (indicating benefit to the immune system) rose 87 percent.

3. Go to sleep. We have become a nation of sleep-deprived citizens. Taking a daily nap or getting into bed at 8 p.m. one night with a good book — and turning the light out an hour later — can do more for your mood and outlook on life than any number of bubble baths or massages.

4. Hum along. Music soothes more than the savage beast. Studies find music activates parts of the brain that produce happiness — the same parts activated by food or sex. It’s also relaxing. In one study older adults who listened to their choice of music during outpatient eye surgery had significantly lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cardiac workload (that is, their heart didn’t have to work as hard) as those who had silent surgery.

5. Declutter. It’s nearly impossible to meditate, breathe deeply, or simply relax when every surface is covered with papers and bills and magazines, your cabinets bulge, and you haven’t balanced your checkbook in six months. Plus, the repetitive nature of certain cleaning tasks — such as sweeping, wiping, and scrubbing — can be meditative in and of itself if you focus on what you’re doing.

6. Just say no. Eliminate activities that aren’t necessary and that you don’t enjoy. If there are enough people already to handle the church bazaar and you’re feeling stressed by the thought of running the committee for yet another year, step down and let someone else handle things.

7. Make a list. There’s nothing like writing down your tasks to help you organize your thoughts and calm your anxiety. Checking off each item provides a great sense of fulfillment.

8. Do one thing at a time. Edward Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor of medical psychology at Duke, found that people who multitask are more likely to have high blood pressure. Take that finding to heart. Instead of talking on the phone while you fold laundry or clean the kitchen, sit down in a comfortable chair and turn your entire attention over to the conversation. Instead of checking e-mail as you work on other projects, turn off your e-mail function until you finish the report you’re writing. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness.

9. Garden. Not only will the fresh air and exercise provide their own stress reduction and feeling of well-being, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from clearing a weedy patch, watching seeds turn into flowers, or pruning out dead wood will last for hours, if not days.

10. Tune out the news. For one week go without reading the newspaper, watching the news, or scanning the headlines online. Instead, take a vacation from the misery we’re exposed to every day via the media and use that time for a walk, a meditation session, or to write in your journal.

11. Take a dog for a walk. There are numerous studies that attest to the stress-relieving benefits of pets. In one analysis researchers evaluated the heart health of 240 couples, half of whom owned a pet. Those couples with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels when exposed to stressors than the couples who did not have pets. In fact, the pets worked even better at buffering stress than the spouses did.

12. Scent the air. Research finds that the benefits of aromatherapy in relieving stress are real. In one study people exposed to rosemary had lower anxiety levels, increased alertness, and performed math computations faster. Adults exposed to lavender showed an increase in the type of brain waves that suggest increased relaxation. Today you have a variety of room-scenting methods, from plug-in air fresheners to essential oil diffusers, potpourri, and scented candles.

13. Ignore the stock market. Simply getting your quarterly 401(k) statement can be enough to send your blood pressure skyrocketing. In fact, Chinese researchers found a direct link between the daily performance of the stock market and the mental health of those who closely followed it. Astute investors know that time heals most financial wounds, so give your investments time — and give yourself a break.

14. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

15. Volunteer. Helping others enables you to put your own problems into perspective and also provides social interaction. While happy people are more likely to help others, helping others increases your happiness. One study found that volunteer work enhanced all six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.

16. Spend time alone. Although relationships are one of the best antidotes to stress, sometimes you need time alone to recharge and reflect. Take yourself out to lunch or to a movie, or simply spend an afternoon reading, browsing in a bookstore, or antiquing.

17. Walk mindfully. You probably already know that exercise is better than tranquilizers for relieving anxiety and stress. But what you do with your mind while you’re walking can make your walk even more beneficial. In a study called the Ruth Stricker Mind/Body Study, researchers divided 135 people into five groups of walkers for 16 weeks. Group one walked briskly, group two at a slow pace, and group three at a slow pace while practicing “mindfulness,” a mental technique to bring about the relaxation response, a physiological response in which the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops. This group was asked to pay attention to their footsteps, counting one, two, one, two, and to visualize the numbers in their mind. Group four practiced a form of tai chi, and group five served as the control, changing nothing about their lives. The group practicing mindfulness showed significant declines in anxiety and had fewer negative and more positive feelings about themselves. Overall they experienced the same stress-reducing effects of the brisk walkers. Better yet, the effects were evident immediately.

18. Give priority to close relationships. One study of more than 1,300 men and women of various ages found that those who had a lot of supportive friends were much more likely to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar metabolism, and stress hormone levels than those with two or fewer close friends. Women, and to a lesser extent men, also seemed to benefit from good relationships with their parents and spouses. Studies also find that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are three to five times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have feelings of love, connection, and community.

19. Take care of the soul. In study after study, actively religious people are happier and cope better with crises, according to David Myers, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. For many people faith provides a support community, a sense of life’s meaning, feelings of ultimate acceptance, a reason to focus beyond yourself, and a timeless perspective on life’s woes. Even if you’re not religious, a strong spirituality may offer similar benefits.

20. Count your blessings. People who pause each day to reflect on some positive aspect of their lives (their health, friends, family, freedom, education, etc.) experience a heightened sense of well-being.

List from http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/20-simple-ways-to-get-happy/2/#ixzz2ybgNEq6G

 

Things Every Twenty-Something is Tired of Hearing

Published April 10, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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Have you ever felt any of these?

1. What do you really want to do with your life?

I don’t freaking know right now. I don’t even know what I want for dinner. Isn’t this the time in my life I’m supposed to be figuring that out? How can I figure it out before I figure it out?

2. Did you buy [insert anything here] with your own money?

No, I just made a wish on broken hopes and promises and it appeared on a glittery unicorn. I sacrificed and ate peanut butter and condiments for months but now I have a real mattress.

3. You could always move back in with your parents.

Yeah, because my parents took care of me and raised me, pushing me to be successful in school and work to just have me depressingly move back in with them. If I move back in with them I have officially failed, or my life has gone awry somewhere. If some catastrophe happens, like I randomly get laid off, and I have to, let’s just not talk about it.

4. You do want to get married eventually, right?

Don’t even get me started. I’m still figuring things out, including what I want. But when you say it like that, what if I don’t? Am I an alien with lobsters crawling out of my ears if my life goal is to work hard, achieve my dreams, and do something else? Oh wait, I missed the memo from the 1950s that my goal in life is to get married and procreate. My bad.

5. So, have you had a lot of different jobs?

I’ve always wished in job interviews I could really say what I want to answer this one. Yes, I’ve had several jobs. I’d stay there until I was running the entire store by myself because my stoned out coworkers had been fired or just disappeared. And after my soul had been lost and my hope for humanity demolished after repeated interaction with the general public. Oh, and the job I had where I was attacked by a customer, the one where I smelled like fish from cleaning tanks all day, had my fingers chewed by hamsters and parakeets…I should’ve stuck with those minimum wage jobs?

6. Good thing you’re young and don’t have to worry about health insurance.

*Sigh* Even if I had absolute perfect health (which I don’t) I still get sick even though I avoid everyone that appears to have a plague. Oh, and I’m female which means that I have a body part that requires its own doctor, medication, and care!

7. You must be good at the internets.

Yeah…just stop. Just because I’m in my twenties doesn’t mean I can troubleshoot your computer…but I can plug it in and turn it on. I received the administrator rights to my work’s social media once because ‘hey, you’re in your twenties, you know how to do this.’ Nevermind that I had no experience/knowledge in online marketing. (Thankfully I learned).

8. Have you tried online dating?

Um, no. That’s fine if it’s your thing but I attract stalkers and have been assigned my own police detective for retraining orders by meeting people the old fashioned way.

9. When are you going to get a real job?

I HAVE A REAL JOB. Even one that I went to college for. I’ve had a professional job for four years-stop assuming I’m still working at Walgreens (no offense if you are, you’ll get out someday) It’s not my fault the professional job pays less than the jobs my noneducated friends work. So shut up.

10. You don’t need to make that much money, you’re just starting out.

Yeah…I totally just called the electric company and they said I could skip the bill because I was just starting out. My hopes and dreams would fuel the power for a little while longer.

I have bills just like any one else of any age, I just don’t have any children. I have to pay for shelter, food, transportation, healthcare, etc.

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11. How do you feel about turning thirty?

Um, I don’t know. Ask me when I turn thirty.

12. How much do you pay in rent?

I’d rather talk about anything else but the unspeakable amount of money I’m paying to live in a place where I can hear the neighbor’s sex, see/smell drug deals, and dive for the floor when you hear people outside arguing because you’ve been through a drive-by.

13. Your biological clock is ticking…

See number four…and f*%& off.

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14. You could consider freezing your eggs and then using a surrogate. 

No offense to those who have, but that process deserves a purple heart medal. It’s painful and super expensive. Plus a little weird. But I just adopted a cute new kitten!

15. How much debt do you have?

Um…well, I am an American and have gone to college…Shut up. (And no, I’m not irresponsible with me money. I spent it on useful, well hopefully, things like education and health care).

16. You know, the right person will come around when you least expect it.

This would be more comforting if we were talking about the pizza delivery boy.

17. These are the best years of your life.

I’m utterly depressed and don’t want to see the rest of my life. I’m suffering through the constant anxiety, frustration, poverty, etc. clinging desperately to the hope that I’m working this hard so someday, maybe someday, I can afford name brand shampoo.

This original article/list is from Buzzfeed at http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinlarosa/things-every-20-something-is-tired-of-hearing. I’ve just added my own comments.

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