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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.

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Genius or Medical Condition?: The Compulsive Mr. Jefferson

Published July 3, 2013 by harleyquinnly

What we medicate today was seen as genius in history. For the Fourth of July, this article analyzes the compulsiveness of Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers.

David DiSalvo, “The Compulsive Mr. Jefferson and America’s Obsessive Origins,” Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/07/02/the-compulsive-mr-jefferson-and-americas-obsessive-origins/ (accessed July 3, 2013).

While waiting for his draft of the Declaration of Independence to come to the floor of the Second Continental Congress for a history-making vote—Thomas Jefferson was thinking about the weather. More specifically, he was thinking about a list that would comprehensively capture variations in the climate at minimum three times daily, for as long as…well…for as long as it needed to be captured (which turned out to be a good long time).

On July 4th, three days after his climactic list was launched, he recorded four readings (Philadelphia was 68 degrees at 6 a.m. and eventually hit a tepid 76 by early afternoon), and—despite a few other things going on that day—also managed to squeeze in a walk to a local gadget store to buy a new thermometer fit for the mission.

Jefferson, like so many prodigious thinkers before and after him, was an obsessive—or what we’d later come to call a sufferer of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). And as argued in Joshua Kendall’s insightful new book, America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation, we should be happy that he was.

In Kendall’s telling, Jefferson’s preoccupation with the weather during what was the most momentous series of events in his life (and in the fledgling nation’s existence) made incredibly good sense. Jefferson knew that the best counterweight to the massive strain and anxiety filling his days was to indulge an obsessive proclivity that would fill his mind—or at least enough of it to make the stress bearable.  For this he chose one of the many scientific pursuits that grabbed his attention from childhood on: a fascination with the weather. And like any good obsessive, he employed a list—a three-column list in this case—to track and analyze data…lots and lots of data.

This was but one of Jefferson’s countless obsessive fascinations, and but one of countless lists.  He was a man addicted to list-making, “addicted to his routines,” and equally addicted to mathematical precision, though the amount of money he compulsively spent to feed his obsessions, and the resulting debt, is legendary.

Kendall’s book covers a range of American thinkers and achievers–from across an expanse of topics, politics to sex to sports–and meticulously pulls out the threads in each of their personalities that evidence an undeniable interweaving of the obsessive and the brilliant.

Jefferson is the author’s emblematic choice for obsessive thinking (what he calls “obsessive innovation”) in American politics. Other categories include Marketing represented by ketchup mogul Henry Heinz, described as “more than just quirky…a mentally unstable man who lived close to the edge for most of his life”; Sexuality, embodied by the good sex doctor Alfred Kinsey, behind whose “inner torment was a lonely child’s terror”; Beauty, whose standard bearer Este’e Lauder openly admitted that “obsession is the word for my zeal”; and Sports, represented by baseball icon Ted Williams who embraced a bat, in part, to balance the formative angst of “growing up with a domineering mother whom he feared.”

These and other personalities—each flavored by doses of obsessive thinking that radically changed everything they touched—are for the author symbols of a driving force that benefits all of us. Without the compulsiveness of a Jefferson or a Jobs, America wouldn’t just be different, but arguably shades less promising.

Kendall drives home this point especially with respect to Jefferson by observing how the statesman’s limitless compulsive energy—energy that regularly woke him throughout the night—pushed him toward excellence even when the payoff was unclear.

When the Declaration of Independence was finally published and read aloud in town after town—hardly anyone knew who penned it. Crowds of cheering Americans didn’t care that a man named Thomas Jefferson had authored the document that grandly signified their broken ties with the mother country. It wasn’t until 1784 that Jefferson was mentioned in a newspaper article as the document’s primary author—and, more remarkably, it wasn’t until the 1790s when he ran for president that Jefferson even claimed authorship.

While our nation’s history isn’t littered with so many examples of obsessive greatness cloaked in humility, the author’s portrait of Jefferson (who fittingly leads off the book) gives us plenty of reasons to be glad that it has occasionally happened.  Amid compulsive bouts of indexing and labeling his expansive library, fine-tuning myriad data points underlying his inventions, and finding new ways to perfect gardening techniques—Jefferson invested his energy in a project that changed the world.

Kendall’s book is a tribute to the paradox captured by another slightly eschew genius, John Dryden, who wrote: “Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide.” America’s obsessives may all qualify as at least a little mad; for some “mad” wouldn’t begin to cover it.  But the plain truth is that their mad energy—applied with precision and chaos in unequal measure—is a key ingredient in what makes America, America. Especially in the case of Mr. Jefferson, that statement couldn’t be more true.

Common Cultural Mistakes While Traveling

Published March 4, 2013 by harleyquinnly

This may come as a suprise, but other countries have different customs than we do in the United States. Some of these may be older but many are common. For those of you traveling abroad for Spring Break this is just a quick reminder of cultural faux pas. Please help fight the somewhat accurate stereotype of the stupid American.

This post is mostly from an article in Time and some additions from myself on common mistakes made while traveling. While these specific examples are helpful the overall point is that cultures different from our own exist. This does not make ours better and theirs worse so we need to be respectful when we travel. In addition, do a little research on these customs before traveling to a different country. It’s not that difficult, doesn’t take up too much time, and will save you from looking like just another “stupid American.”

 “World’s Worst Cultural Mistakes,” Time http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-worst-cultural-mistakes (accessed December 28, 2012).

 1. Touching Someone

It’s offensive in: Korea, Thailand, China, Europe, the Middle East

 Personal space varies as you travel the globe. In Mediterranean countries, if you refrain from touching someone’s arm when talking to them or if you don’t greet them with kisses or a warm embrace, you’ll be considered cold. But backslap someone who isn’t a family member or a good friend in Korea, and you’ll make them uncomfortable. In Thailand, the head is considered sacred—never even pat a child on the head. This is why international media viewed the hug between Michelle Obama and the Queen of England as a huge deal.

 What you should do instead: Observe what locals are doing and follow suit. In Eastern countries remember that touching and public displays of affection are unacceptable. In places like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, men and women are forbidden from interacting, let alone touching.

 2. The Use of Right and Left Hands

It’s offensive in: India, Morocco, Africa, the Middle East

 Many cultures still prefer to eat using traditional methods—their hands. In these cases, food is often offered communally, which is why it’s important to wash your hands before eating and observe the right-hand-is-for-eating and the left-hand-is-for-other-duties rule. The Romans used their right hands for eating and greeting while the left was used for personal hygiene. If you eat with your left hand, expect your fellow diners to be mortified. And when partaking from a communal bowl, stick to a portion that’s closest to you. Do not get greedy and plunge your hand into the center.

 What you should do instead: Left-handed? Attempt to be ambidextrous—even children who are left-handed in these cultures are taught to eat with their right hand—or at least explain yourself to your fellow diners before plunging in.

 3. Keeping Your Clothes On

It’s offensive in: Scandinavian countries, Turkey

 Wearing bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts, underwear, or any other piece of clothing into a sauna, hammam, or other place of physical purification. In some cultures, a steam room or a sauna is considered a place of purity and reflection, where the outside world (i.e., your clothes) should be left outside. In some Scandinavian countries it’s common for entire families to sauna together in the nude. Remember these people have different cultural standards regarding nudity than Americans. They will not sit and giggle at everyone’s parts. It’s like an everyday occurrence to them and serves as no big deal.

 What you should do instead: Sitting on a folded towel is considered acceptable. If you’re too modest to appear naked, strip down, but wrap yourself in a towel.

 4. Not Getting Lei’d

It’s offensive in: Hawaii

 It’s offensive to refuse or immediately remove a lei. Leis in the Hawaiian Islands aren’t just pretty floral necklaces that you get when you check into your hotel or show up at a luau. They’re a centuries-old cultural symbol of welcome, friendship, and appreciation.

 What you should do instead: Never refuse a lei—it’s considered highly disrespectful—or whip it off in the giver’s presence. If you’re allergic to the flowers, explain so, but offer to put it in some place of honor, say in the center of the table, or on a statue. Note that closed leis should be worn not hanging from the neck, but over the shoulder, with half draped down your chest and the other half down your back.

 5. Looking Someone in the Eye…or Not

It’s offensive to look someone in the eye in: Korea, Japan

It’s offensive not to look someone in the eye in: Germany, U.S.

 For Americans, not making direct eye contact can be considered rude, indifferent, or weak, but be careful how long you hold someone’s gaze in other countries. In some Asian nations, prolonged eye contact will make a local uncomfortable, so don’t be offended if you’re negotiating a deal with someone who won’t look you straight in the eye. As a tourist in Japan, the locals get obviously very uncomfortable with eye contact and some feel insulted.

 If toasting with friends in a German beer hall, your eyes had better meet theirs—if they don’t, a German superstition says you’re both in for seven years of bad luck in the bedroom.

 What you should do instead: Avoid constant staring and follow the behavior of your host—and by all means, look those Germans straight on.

 6. Drinking Alcohol the Wrong Way

It’s offensive in: Latin America, France, Korea, Russia

 Every culture has different traditions when it comes to drinking etiquette. Fail to consume a vodka shot in one gulp in Russia, and your host will not be impressed. Refill your own wine glass in France without offering more to the rest of the table, and you’ve made a faux pas. In Korea, women can pour only men’s drinks—not other women’s—and if you want a refill, you need to drain your glass. And if you’re in Latin America, never pour with your left hand—that’s bad luck.

 What you should do instead: Until you’re culturally fluent, leave it to your pals to pour.

 7. Blowing Your Nose

It’s offensive in: Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, France

 Some cultures find it disgusting to blow your nose in public—especially at the table. The Japanese and Chinese are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief. As Mark McCrum points out in his book Going Dutch in Beijing, the Japanese word hanakuso unpleasantly means nose waste.

 What you should do instead: If traveling through Eastern and Asian countries, leave the hankies at home and opt for disposable tissues instead. In France as well as in Eastern countries, if you’re dining and need to clear your nasal passages, excuse yourself and head to the restroom. Worst-case scenario: make an exaggerated effort to steer away from the table. Let’s hope you don’t have a cold.

 8. Not Removing Your Shoes

It’s offensive in: Hawaii, the South Pacific, Korea, China, and Thailand

 Take off your shoes when arriving at the door of a London dinner party and the hostess will find you uncivilized, but fail to remove your shoes before entering a home in Asia, Hawaii, or the Pacific Islands and you’ll be considered disrespectful. Not only does shoe removal very practically keeps sand and dirt out of the house, it’s a sign of leaving the outside world behind.

 What you should do instead: If you see a row of shoes at the door, start undoing your laces. If not, keep the shoes on.

 9. Talking Over Dinner

It’s offensive in: Africa, Japan, Thailand, China, and Finland (mostly amongst traditionalist people)

 In some countries, like China, Japan, and some African nations, the food’s the thing, so don’t start chatting about your day’s adventures while everyone else is digging into dinner. You’ll likely be met with silence—not because your group is unfriendly, but because mealtimes are for eating, not talking. Also avoid conversations in places a country might consider sacred or reflective—churches in Europe, temples in Thailand, and saunas in Finland.

 What you should do instead: Keep quiet! Or if you are talking, keep in mind that other cultures do not speak loudly, even outside. Always use your inside voice!

 10. Road Rage

It’s offensive in: Hawaii, Russia, France, Italy…and pretty much everywhere else. Just ask yourself: do you really want to go to a foreign prison?

 Honk on Molokai or fail to pay a police officer a fine, a.k.a. bribe, on the spot when you’re stopped for speeding in Russia, and you’ll risk everything from scorn to prison time. Remember, too, that hand gestures have different meanings in other countries—a simple “thumbs-up” is interpreted as an “up yours” in parts of the Middle East.

 What you should do Instead: when driving abroad, make sure you have an international driver’s license; never, ever practice road rage; and keep your hands on the wheel. And, in general, don’t be a douche.

 10. Signing Off with a Kiss

It’s offensive in: potentially anywhere

 The ease and brevity of global e-mail has allowed us to dispense with formalities that we might use over the phone or in person, but beware being overly familiar when e-mailing overseas, or using e-speak or emoticons that might not translate, like BTW, TTFN, LOL, or 😉 or ;-/ to indicate winking or confusion. E-mail sign-offs can also give pause. Americans and Brits send the merest acquaintances messages ending with xxoo, which an Arab recipient might find shocking and offensive. Similarly, don’t think the Chinese are summoning the devil when departing with “666” (that’s good luck), or that a French or Dubai pal has made a typo with “Cdlt” (a shortcut for cordialement) or “Aa” (slang for the Arab greeting Assalamu alaikum).

 What you should do instead: Stick to words, keep it short and courteous, and unless you know the recipient well, hold back on the kisses and hugs.

 11. Speaking Loudly

It’s offensive in: Europe and several other countries

 How can you easily tell and American from a European on a sidewalk or subway? If you can hear them from twenty feet away. In Europe, people conduct conversations not in whispers but quieter than our often boisterous language. A full subway car will have several people carrying various conversations but the overall noise level will never reach higher than a dull buzz. They consider the louder conversations rude and interrupting. Have you ever experienced someone speaking loudly on a cell phone in a store or elevator? That’s how they view our sound level of conversation.

 What you should do instead: Be aware of your speaking volume. Remember to always use your “inside voice” and never yell across a street or subway care. Observe the people around you.

 If you avoid these and other faux pas, you will not only have a greater interaction with the locals but they will also be more willing to give you directions, show you around, and talk more. How would you like it if a foreign visitor rudely came into our towns and expected us to follow their customs?

From Someone Who Likes Valentine’s Day

Published February 14, 2013 by harleyquinnly

Happy Valentine’s Day

I previously wrote a blog post on why we hate Valentine’s Day and immediately set down to write why I love Valentine’s Day. Then I discovered, ‘hey, I really don’t.’ The thing I enjoy most about Valentine’s Day really isn’t about the holiday, it’s just that the holiday gives me a chance to do those things. My favorite part is having a holiday with just the two of us, without having to go out and be with other people. We get uninterrupted “us” time on our short weekend getaway. That is my absolute favorite part. But honestly we should show love and affection without having to have a holiday to force us to do so.

However, I found a cheekily written article by someone who does like the holiday itself and thought I would share it for the sake of festivity.

Jennifer Wright, “Why I Love Valentine’s Day and Why You Should Too,” The Gloss, http://www.thegloss.com/2011/02/09/sex-and-dating/why-i-love-valentines-day-and-you-should-too/ (accessed January 31, 2013).

“I love Valentine’s day. And no, I’m not just saying that due to a healthy  dose of iconoclasm.

Okay. I am a little bit, because I think there are too many spray-tanned   girls running around shrieking giddily about how they hate V-Day, and how it’s  just awful, and I  was to be different like Daria  and Wednesday  Addams. But I am sincere  in my love for Valentine’s Day.

Why?

Why not? It’s fantastic. It’s a holiday. Holidays by their very nature  mean  parties and drinking and having an excuse to dress up in unusual  outfits. Who  hates holidays? You see people running around bitching  about how much they hate  St. Patrick’s Day? Really? Who? Leprechauns?

On a personal, stupid level, I love Valentine’s day because pink is my   favorite color. Look, if you ever ask me my favorite color, I will stare  at you  like you’re a moron and reply “puce.” Real talk: I’m going to  lie to your face.  That’s because I know after a certain age it’s  ridiculous to have a favorite  color, but secretly, I do, and it’s pink. I  like it because it’s a happy,  cheerful color that reminds me of cupcake  frosting, and Funny Face and  the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”  number. However, because I want to be  taken seriously if I ever go into  meetings, I generally wear gray, black or  navy blue dresses. Valentine’s Day is an excuse to break out my little pink  Jackie Kennedy dress, and  that’s enough for me. If nothing else happened, I’d  like it just on the  merit of that. I think a lot of people have a heart  necklace, or a red skirt, or something else they don’t break out daily that’s  appropriate for the occasion, and I like that.

But maybe you don’t think pink. That’s fine. Your loss, loser.

You like parties?

Oh, good, because one of your friends is having one! I almost guarantee  you  they are. Oh, for heaven’s sake, go check Facebook. Yes, you’re  invited. Go  there, dance on a Monday, buy some champagne ostensibly “for  the party” and  drink half of it yourself. Will it be fun? Yes, it will  be! You’ve got half a  bottle of Bolly in your belly, and it’s fine,  because even though it’s a  Monday, it’s also Valentine’s Day! Now get up  there and sing all the words to “Tonight I’m Fuckin’ You”!

Wait, you say you’re a hermit? Hey, that’s cool. Me too. Valentine’s  Day was  made for hermits like us! Why? Because this is the day that  you’re most likely  to have a romance start without having to endure any  manner of social  awkwardness. Like, normal outside non-lepers, they go  out to “the clubs” and… I  honestly have no idea. They do things, and  then they are dating people.

But hermits like us? We really have to wait  until someone sends us a 50 page “sonnet” (words written in crayon, blood, none of them rhyming) that likens us  to a minor  battle in the Peloponesian War (THIS IS A LOVE TIP FOR MEN READING  THIS  ARTICLE) before we can realize that they’re interested in us. There is a  higher than average possibility of this happening on Valentine’s Day. I’m not  saying it’s necessarily going to happen, but the odds are way better than they  are on your run of the mill day.

It’s a day full of a lot of possibilities, that’s what I’m saying.

And yes, the possibilities extend as much to single people as they do to  people in relationships. I think one of the principal complaints leveled against  Valentine’s dayis that it’s a holiday to make single people feel bad. No. It’s  not. It’s a holiday to boost sales for greeting card companies and florists – just like every other holiday. And, like every other holiday, it pretty  much is what you make it.

You’re worried that you’ll feel like a loser because no one gets you a card  or flowers? Jesus, God, do you have any idea how many people love you? If you  want some drugstore candy, just talk to your friends/family/fellow lepers  beforehand. Say you sort of want to celebrate. Or just slip them a note saying “you’re my Valentine now, bitch. Gird your loins. I’m buying you something  meaningless or edible.” Either way.

I have a pact with one of my friends that, regardless of whether we have  boyfriends/girlfriends, we are always each other’s Valentine. So we do something  to commemorate the day. Sometimes he gets me flowers, sometimes I rip off a  Barbie Doll’s head, hide her body in his apartment weeks beforehand with a heart  shaped piece of cardboard on which I’ve scrawled “You Make Me Lose My Head Like  Anne Boleyn.” Obviously, there are different ways to say “I Love You.” If you  have romantic love that is fantastic. That’s seriously great.  But romantic love  is just one piece of the love pie, not the crust,  filling and whipped cream on  top. There’s nothing wrong with a holiday that reminds us to say “I Love You” to  people we, you know, love. And it’s better when it’s an excuse for you to buy  them an ice cream cake which you will “share” with them.

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is just another holiday. It’s supposed to be fun.  Figure out what will make it fun for you, and then do that. I can’t say what  that is, but I’m guessing ice cream cake and champagne is a good start.”

So to all, Happy Valentine’s Day.

What We Hate About Valentine’s Day

Published February 4, 2013 by harleyquinnly
The unloved bear

The bear with no love

Ok I’m going to be a Bitter Betty for this post. Don’t worry, there will be a happy one to follow much closer to the actual holiday. And before you start thinking this, I am not the stereotypical single girl that is angry at her condition. I am in a long-term relationship and remember the stress I feel regarding almost every single Valentine’s Day. Not all single girls hate Valentine’s Day and not all those in committed relationships love it.

-Single or coupled, if you didn’t make a reservation in January, your options for going out to dinner are limited to the local fast food drive-through.

And seeing that in many situations the men want to plan the holiday, it is the day before and they have yet to figure anything out. Working at Walgreens with a convenient aisle de Valentine, the night before and the day of Valentine’s was busier than Black Friday with men frantically snatching leftover bottles of old-woman perfume and poor teddy bears. A holiday that requires men to plan? That’s like a recipe for disaster. (Although not all the time, depending on the man). And if I know I’m having to plan it, I get a little bitter that it’s just one more thing I have to plan in addition to the rest of my life.

 -The hour of our lives we waste every year in the greeting card aisle, looking for the perfect one. The stress of choosing an appropriate gift

Or the perfect gift. I sympathize with Sheldon Cooper on how difficult and stressful gift giving is. Is it too much? Too little? Too corny? Not appropriate for the amount of time dating? I find men very hard to buy for, especially those that are not into tools or sports teams. After two years I’ve gotten better but gift buying still brings on additional stress.

Sheldon Cooper’s theory on gift giving:

 -The often unrealistic expectations placed on men

I do sympathize with men on this one. They face many of the same difficulties covered in this entire post. In addition, it becomes even more daunting when you’re trying to please someone with unrealistic expectations of the fairy tale that their life should be. I blame too many Disney and romance movies.

 – The 24/7 romantic comedy marathon on TV during the month of February either makes you feel like a loser for being single or makes you resent your boyfriend for not being John Cusack.

This is why I hate watching “chick flicks.” I always get wrapped up in the story during the movie, thinking ‘oh my god how incredibly sweet and devoted they both are.’ Then when the movie ends, I find myself in a deep depression, hating my life because it never works out and that men do not have professional writers telling them how to say the perfect thing and be at the right place in the right time. By the way, my favorite ending to a movie is Easy A because Todd pays attention to her blog (gasp!) and recreates several of her favorite endings to ‘80s movies. It’s at least a little more realistic.

imagesCA6ZVY2W

The ending of Easy A.

 -If you’ve had anything resembling a date in the past two months, it always prematurely launches the “where is this going?” conversation.

In the words of Pauly D, “AWKWARD!” Or even worse you could not have the conversation. I once dated a guy who took me to lunch on Valentine’s Day but never once mentioned what day it was. I’ve never been a huge fan of the holiday but at the end of the meal I told him “Happy Valentine’s Day.” He got all flustered, drove me quickly to my parked car (that was elsewhere), and sped away. Wow.

 -If you’re single and lucky enough to have three close, single girlfriends, you can’t go out for drinks with them without being a cliché.

If I were single I would definitely go out with girlfriends just to get out of the house, do something fun, and escape those stupid non-stop romantic comedies. But the pitying looks from others is maddening. So is the assumption of many single men that since I may be single on Valentine’s I am going to pathetically throw myself into your bed.

 – They don’t make Valentine’s Day cards for friends-with-benefits or “I think I like you but it’s too soon to tell.”

For those of you in this situation, good luck. It’s another awkward time of life.

 -We just started paying off our credit card bills from holiday shopping – our bank statements can’t handle another gift.

Personally, with the way my finances fall, I am guaranteed to be absolutely broke and literally eating ramen every single day in January and February. This is not because I’m irresponsible with Christmas spending, but because several large bills come due at this time I am unable to save for previously in the year. By the time February rolls around, I really want to get that special someone something spectacular but then have to wonder how many meals I’m going to have to skip.

 -Finding enough of another thing as rare as money for me: time

Every February I like to do something for the holiday but in working two jobs and earning my Ph.D. it’s almost an impossible task. I usually have to pull at least one all-nighter or be an unpleasant bear in order to move my schedule around and get enough done so that I can be able to even go to that dinner.

 -The amount of chocolate and candy I consume

Easter and Valentine’s Day have the best candy and chocolate EVER. Most of the year I really don’t eat a lot of sweets because I really don’t have much of a craving for them. This is blown to hell in February and April.

 -It enhances awareness that your relationship is in a rut

Everyone’s relationship has those down times, or are in a rut at some point. If that happens around Valentine’s Day it really sucks and makes you feel worse about it. When commercials and other couples are perfectly happy being sappy together, you’re left wondering what to do with your significant other. The excitement in planning a dinner or getaway is replaced with the guilt that maybe you don’t really feel like it right now.

 -It’s engagement season

My addition is that it’s “engagement season.” While I am very happy for my peeps finding the love of their life with the courage to actually ask them, all these photos of engagement rings force me to wonder where my long-term nonmoving relationship is going. Or if single, it may make one wonder if that will ever happen for them. By all means share your engagement news but don’t overdo it and be conscious if you’re telling your friend as they are sobbing from a breakup.

What do you hate about Valentine’s Day?

 Some Notes

“Ten Reasons We Hate Valentine’s Day, Marie Claire http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/10-things-hate-valentines-day-175700295.html (accessed January 31, 2013).

What It’s Like to Be Me…a Ph.D. college student with three jobs…and more

Published January 22, 2013 by harleyquinnly

Contrary to what the title may suggest, I am not writing this to complain about my lot in life. I am simply venting in an attempt to create an understanding of why my life (and potentially that of others) is the way it is.

This post has been a long time coming. Since beginning college at age 17/18, I have lost many friends and had several conversations/arguments of why I’m never around, always busy, or too tired to live a life similar to that of my peers. I have been accused of avoiding people, not truly living my life, giving up my young age, etc. Recently, out of frustration I told someone to please attempt to imagine what it is like to be me. He replied, “Does anyone know what it’s like to be you?” Good point, maybe this will help.

When I, often regrettably, tell someone I can’t go out because I’m tired or have homework it is because I am tired and have homework. Any single mother, serious college student, workaholic, etc. has been/is there. For example, I attend a university as a full time student to earn my Ph.D. degree. I concurrently work a forty-hour-a-week day job and teach two courses at a nearby community college. I also sell books online. Lastly, I am researching and saving maniacally to buy my first house this summer. This doesn’t leave a lot of time (or money) for going to movies, clubbing, or that elusive free time everyone keeps talking about. At the same time I am suffering from a couple of chronic illnesses and fighting a potentially life-threatening situation. Don’t you think all of these things are constantly in the back of my mind? This hinders me from being your beck-and-call girl.

Oh and I choose to be here? As in you’re insinuating my crazy schedule is completely my fault? Well yes, it totally is but excuse me for pushing myself to fulfill my ambition and dreams. How hard are you willing to work for a dream? Am I to be punished for success? (That happens but that will be another blog post later).

Despite my complaints, I do have a few very wonderful people that understand when I have to disappear at the end of each semester. They patiently wait for me to clear my schedule and resist the resentment resulting from believing I don’t want to see them. I love you guys, you rock.

So if you have someone that has been a ghost in your life lately, maybe they are actually busy or have something going on you don’t know about or don’t understand. Talk to them. Please, at least try to understand. How would you feel if you were going through that? It sounds elementary but it is amazing how many people lack empathy. Don’t immediately become offended and defensive because you feel you are no longer that person’s patron saint. Be supportive and they will definitely notice and love you for it.

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