adult

Absent Blogger

Hello friends.

I should not be allowed to make sweeping statements and promises. They never get me very far.

At the beginning of the year I said ridiculous things like “I’ll be here all year,” and “I will blog every weekday” and blah, blah, blah. Empty promises. (Empty chairs at empty tables…) I made plans for this blog that I couldn’t keep. (I also had some job interviews and got a job–WEE!!)

I’m sorry I couldn’t keep up with what I said, but this is not goodbye. I will still keep up Staving off Disaster, but perhaps not daily. I now have a full time job, and I’d like to keep writing/editing my novels. So blogging is taking a backseat. But I will still be around! If not daily, hopefully weekly. I like this blog, and I intend to keep it up.

Ok, no more mushy stuff.

You’re great. We’re all great. I’ll be around.

(WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

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Better Late Than Never

Hi.

It’s been a while.

As is tradition right before the new year, I abandoned all self-made promises, and made tons of excuses as to why. “I’m taking a break from writing–I mean, I wrote a novel.” “It’s so cold outside, and I was sick, so of course I couldn’t run.” “I haven’t blogged in forever, I can’t just sit down and start again, I need to explain why.” “I have so much work to do!”

All lies, for the record. Or, perhaps excuses is a better umbrella to put them under. I come from the school of thought (and the place of privilege) that you make time for the things you love, things you’re passionate about. And I haven’t made time. I have procrastinated (I just watched through the entire Lizzie Bennet Diaries again) and pushed everything I ought to do to the perpetual “tomorrow morning.” I have argued circumstance and life situation (sickness and NaNoWriMo shouldn’t get in the way), and everything a serial procrastinator has up their sleeve. I can run circles around things I need to do—it’s a gift.

But no more. It’s a new year, and while I’m kind of against sweeping life statements (despite the fact that I make them quite often), I might as well get into the spirit of self-improvement. No goals this month, just… hopes. As you might know from previous entries, I’m a pretty big fan of forgiveness, especially when it comes to yourself. And while the new year is a great time for becoming the better you, it’s also important to remember that you are only human. Trying to become the super human version of yourself will only bring you disappointment. So rather than steadfast resolutions, let’s talk about hopes for the new year. Let’s talk about all the ways we can find happiness.

Yesterday morning, over toast and scrambled eggs, my best friend read last year’s hopes aloud. Rather than writing down all the ways she should improve or change, she’d decided to list all the things she could do for a fuller life—a happier existence.

So let that be your challenge. Even if it is the second of January—no one says you can’t begin something new any time you want. Write out a list of things you can do this year to improve your overall happiness. And check them off as you fulfill them. Whether it is greater forgiveness, walks in the park, drinking more tea, visiting friends, road trips, readings, finding religion. Improve your life, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy it along the way.

And welcome back to Staving Off Disaster. I’ll be here all year.

On Brown, Garner, Privilege, and Racism in America

First, before I begin I want to say this: if you have already formed your opinions about racism, about the protests in Ferguson, about anyone’s testimony—if you are here to argue with me, if your first comment begins with “but I…” please turn around. I am not here to engage with you on this topic. I do not have time (nor patience) for this argument. Because it will be just that—an argument, not a dialogue. Neither party will change their mind. The Internet, while wonderful, was hardly built for intelligent dialogue. And it breaks my heart to try to express my sadness, my anger, my frustration in the face of “Support Darren Wilson” posts. I cannot. I’m sorry. Perhaps you will think less of me, perhaps you will think me a close-minded liberal, perhaps you will even see me as unintelligent, uninformed, ridiculous. Think what you will. I’m not here to prove myself to you.

For the rest of you—hello. First off, I want to thank you for being here. While I’m not here to coddle you, I want to acknowledge that racism is scary. That talking about racism is difficult. Privilege is difficult. Our immediate reaction tends to be defensive. “Well, I’m not racist, so this isn’t really my issue,” “it’s not my fault that slavery was part of American history—I didn’t own slaves,” “I’m just one person, what can I do?” We don’t want to be at fault for the sins of others—for the failures of our country, our police, our culture. We would rather stay in our own bubble of privilege. That is the scary part of privilege—it allows us to ignore those our systemic advantage oppresses. It allows us to live in the bubble of our own problems, content to believe the narratives of mass media, of the American Dream (everyone has equal opportunity to “become something”), of some serious propaganda. So thank you for stepping outside your bubble. Stay out here. It is scary, and it is difficult, and you will screw up, but you need to be here. We need to change this world, and it will begin on an individual level. So stay here. Stay talking. Stay thinking.

So, what is privilege? It seems to come up a lot when we’re talking about race in America, but what exactly are we saying? Are you at fault for your privilege? And what should you do with it?

From an INCREDIBLE campaign out of USF

Privilege refers to the special rights, advantages, or immunities granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. I’m female, white, middle-class, able-bodied, straight, and cisgender (my biological sex aligns with my gender identity). Some of my privileges include knowing which bathroom to walk into, having vast options for hairstylists who know how to deal with my European hair, not needing to add extra time to my airport security experience for fear I will be “randomly selected,” and not worrying about societal reaction when interacting romantically with my partner.

If you want to learn more about white privilege in particular, I’d suggest reading the 1988 essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. It’s a great resource for helping you see your white privilege.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by privilege. I’ll be the first to admit that even don’t know all the ways I’m privileged. I’m constantly learning new ways to be inclusive, to help someone who might not have the same advantages as me. But wait, isn’t this all just too PC? This is just political correctness gone too far! Eh, perhaps. But it’s hard to know someone else’s struggle. If you are cisgender, you have the privilege of never having to worry (as some transgender people do) about feeling like your body is betraying you—as though you are not yourself. Your identity is solid. You have the luxury of confidence in your own identity—of looking in the mirror and feeling connected with the person staring back at you. Not everyone has this. And it is a daily struggle for these individuals. Is it so hard to change your vocabulary to help them feel less outside? To work to use language like “all genders” rather than “both genders?” To reject television tropes about “men in disguise as women?”

So, now we know about privilege. But what can we do about it? I mean, you wouldn’t identify as racist, you have no ill-feelings toward people of different races (I hope), and you probably have friends of different races. What does knowing your privilege mean?

Well, for starters, it means acknowledging that you live in a society where some people have more options than other people. If you’re a woman, you know this firsthand. You know that walking home, late at night, is somewhat nerve-racking (and is frowned upon). You likely hold your keys firmly between your knuckles, walk quickly, avoid deserted places. For the most part, white men do not have to worry about this issue (fear of being mugged is very different than fear of being raped). This is a consequence of a patriarchal society. Consider reading Lindsay Beyerstein’s Attention, Space Cadets: Do Not Proposition Women in an Elevator for more information on this topic (here’s a great quote too).

This directly translates to race relations. Not all men are rapists, and not all white people are racist, right? What’s the problem? As long as you’re not either one of those things, it’s all good, right? Wrong. While you might not be inherently racist, you benefit from a racist society. You benefit from a culture that systematically oppresses different groups of people (usually people outside the spectrum of white, middle-to-upper-class, male, able-bodied, straight, and cisgender).

By now you’re probably feeling pretty guilty, and likely getting defensive. That’s ok. It’s a natural reaction to checking your privilege. No one is saying that just because you have privilege that you are a bad person—in fact, privilege isn’t really inherently negative, and most of us have it in some way. It is a consequence of the society we’ve built, of the history we collectively have. No, it isn’t your fault that you are privileged. But that doesn’t mean you can just accept it and move on. Just knowing about it is the first step.

So, what does this all have to do with Mike Brown and Eric Garner? I’m not here to discuss the nuances of the defenses, or the grand jury decisions in these cases. (Check out this article if you want more information on that front.) No matter what you believe, the basic fact of the last several weeks boils down to this—an oppressed group is crying out for help. Your job, as someone with privilege, is to shut up and listen. That is your first job. Your opinion does not matter in this situation. Honestly. You may have lots of them, you may want to start screaming, or arguing back. But take a moment to listen. Really, really listen to the people of Ferguson (and destroy the “riot/loot” angle), listen to the stories they are sharing, listen to the consequences of casual racism. Just listen. Do not speak. Do not argue. First and foremost: listen. That’s all I’m asking of you today.

There is a huge race problem in this country. We all probably believe that we would have been in the marches with Martin Luther King Jr., because the lens of history tells us who was “right” and who was “wrong.” But now society is right again—now everything is better, and people are just overreacting. No. Reject this idea. Reject the idea that these things should be easy—that we are post-racism. We are not. We are still in the middle of racism, we are still grappling with our history, burying it as though discussing it will only make things worse. Ignoring it is making things worse. Talking over it is making things worse. Forty years from now, I hope these years will look as “right” and “wrong” as the civil rights movement looks to us now. I hope these years will be taught in the history books, and our children will ask us which side of the fight we were on. Because it will come. The battle will be long, and hard fought, and terribly, terribly painful. It will never be easy—change is never easy. Compliance is easy. Ignoring the issue is easy. Privilege is easy.

Get your hands dirty. Find articles that upset you, frustrate you, break your heart. Learn about the world around you—the experiences of others. And years from now, when you look back, I want you to be able to say you did something. That for once, you thought about more than yourself. That you listened.

Pep Talk

A while ago, my brother sent my family a text message with a link to a video. I don’t quite remember if he told us to save it, but I did. After watching the video, I added the video link under the contact “Pep Talk.” Occasionally, I’ll stumble upon it, but being in the grocery store, on the bus, out with friends, I will put off watching it. I’ve seen the video, so I know what it’s about. Anyway, I don’t feel like I need a pep talk.

The truth is, sometimes you don’t know you need a pep talk until you’re getting one.

With the general changes that come with fall (the start of school, the cooling weather, the impending holidays), it’s sometimes hard to see just how easy it is to get down. We roll our eyes in crowded parking lots, frown up at the grey clouds threatening rain, grumble as we pull the coats from storage. When the sun is shining, it’s easy to smile. When the mist hangs like dust, it’s hard to escape the deep chill.

Today I offer you a pep talk—something to watch and save and watch again. Think about it when you shuffle through the long bank line, when you are stopped at every red light, when you trip up the stairs. Because there is no harm in a pep talk. And if it keeps away the grey thoughts and nasty tones, then you should always have it in your arsenal. Even when you don’t think you need it, it’s good to know it’s there.

When You Run Out of Synonyms for Messing Up

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit in terms of posting. My “on the road” blogging skills appear to be somewhat lacking. Half-vacations are rarely valuable, but I needed to get out the Twin Cities, and my bank account couldn’t take two weeks off. And while I applied to a few jobs, I didn’t exactly stick to my daily routine. Which means it’s time to check in on last month’s goals.

August action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

-Complete couch to 5K program

-Do at least one responsible/adult task each weekday (this does not include job applications)

-At least two job applications/inquiries out each weekday

-Blog every weekday

-Write/research at least 1 full hour each weekday

-Say yes to every safe offer to hang out/meet people

Limit:

-NO TV

I would like to say that I attempted all of these tasks, but the three seasons of Suits I have under my belt argue against that. For a good while I did quit TV. But the sad truth is that rationing isn’t my forte (that and my two-month wait for Game of Thrones from the library finally came through).

For the most part, I did succeed at my goals for the month. I’ve definitely fallen off at the end, but for much of August I blogged every weekday, I have worked through the Couch to 5K program (today I ran for 25 minutes, and felt like vomiting! YAY PROGRESS!), I’ve applied to over 40 jobs, I’ve worked on my writing pretty consistently (owing much to my wonderful alpha readers), I’ve said yes to quite a few new things. I don’t know if we can call August a rousing success, but, well, I’m not counting it as a loss.

The key, for me, to achieving my goals is to accept my pitfalls. I am far from perfect (last night it took me almost ten minutes to change the lightbulb in my bedroom), but seeing my imperfections as failures is detrimental to my success. Just because I skip a day writing, doesn’t mean I abandon the novel. We make mistakes, this is inevitable. What we control is the grace we give ourselves after the fact. I am not yet the woman I want to be, but that doesn’t mean who I am now isn’t wonderful too.

September action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

-Keep apartment relatively clean; do dishes immediately, pick up after myself, scoop litter boxes

-Continue Couch to 5K program

-Do at least three adult tasks (appointments, phone calls, emails) a week

-Write/research for 2 hours every weekday

-Continue blogging every weekday

-At least three job applications out every weekday

-At least one long-lost phone call a week

-Five hours of reading a week

-At least one short story/poetry submission out this month

-Say yes

Limits:

-Two spoken/written complaints a week

Here’s to having a more positive outlook, and a more successful day. If we fall off the wagon, if we screw up royally, if we watch 17 episodes of House of Cards in one sitting, we are not failures. We have made mistakes. And we are not defined by our mistakes, but rather, how we overcome them.

Mistaken Identity

Do you have one of those absolutes in your life about your identity? Like, one of mine is that I don’t enjoy winter sports. In the winters in New York we’d sometimes head north to Lake Placid, spend a day or two on Whiteface Mountain, skiing or snowboarding. And after several years of attempting—the ludicrous rental of snowblades, dozens of falls on the bunny hill, excessive frustration at ski pulls, and even the purchase of a snowboard (I wanted to be a snowboarder so badly, but I hated every minute of it), I finally came to the official conclusion: I don’t like winter sports. I have crossed it off on my to-do list, politely decline when people invite me to go skiing, ignore their suggestions that I “try it just one more time.” Nope. I’m done. I am 25 years old, and I have decided that not liking winter sports is a permanent part of my identity.

One of the things I’ve learned about being an adult is that locking into these identities feels like an accomplishment. As though stamping this activity or that dietary choice with approval somehow settles the ground beneath you. I am a vegetarian feminist who hates winter sports therefore… what, exactly? I’m more convinced of my identity? This extensive list of qualifiers (tattooed, writer, short-haired, procrastinator) gives me a sense of self. I suck at ceramics, therefore I am.

I’m not knocking these absolutes—I do think they are extremely valuable to establishing identity, confidence and self. But occasionally, they also prevent us from growing. Just because I’m becoming an adult doesn’t mean I’m becoming permanent. These absolutes, these pieces of my identity I’m writing in stone, lull me into a false sense of security. I am no more settled by saying “I hate green olives.” I am simply deciding to avoid something in my life.

There is nothing inherently wrong with making these decisions. Being the girl in the office who always says no to happy hour because she’s conscious of her budget isn’t really a bad thing. But sometimes, it’s difficult to see the trade-off. Making a decision always limits your options, making choices about who you want to be ultimately means that you aren’t something else. Sometimes I need to be reminded of what I’m giving up.

I will likely never go on a ski trip with friends. I won’t drink peppermint hot chocolate in the lodge, watch the frost crowd the corners of the giant windows, rub my sore hips through my snow pants. I won’t feel the biting chill of the wind against my cheeks, find clumps of snow in my boots when I pry them off, laugh up at the sky with my skis pointing in opposite directions, my tailbone throbbing.

I don’t have a strong desire to experience these things. For me, the trade-off has been evaluated, and I’m ok with what I’m missing out on. But I can’t deny that these missed opportunities, these hypothetical trips through fresh snow, prevent me from learning more about myself and others. I am deciding not to grow in this area. Is it the right decision?

I’ll tell you at the end.

Achievement Unlocked

When people find out I’m a vegetarian, they often ask why I made the decision. Sometimes, I spout off political and economic reasons, but if I’m being honest, I just thought vegetarians were cool. Most of the vegetarians I knew had a sense of confidence I lacked, thought more about politics (which, barely registered for me), travelled the world, listened intently. I wanted to be all of these things, and I figured being a vegetarian would be the gateway to that.

I did not get any cooler simply by being a vegetarian. And I definitely didn’t get any healthier. I ate fried foods almost exclusively (mozzarella sticks, potato skins, french fries), and didn’t really pay attention to the impact these foods had on my “political reasons” for changing my diet. I was not (and I’m still not) a great vegetarian. Now, it’s just far too complicated for me to try to teach myself how to buy and cook meat. No, becoming a vegetarian was not a life-changing experience I thought it would be.

Instead, vegetarianism taught me less about my health, and more about my stamina. As a kid I never liked challenging myself. I felt embarrassed when I looked like a fool in front of my friends (sports coordination was not my forte), never felt any sense of accomplishment if I failed. Trying didn’t really count as effort if it didn’t succeed, so I just sort of bailed on the whole thing. Until I became a vegetarian. With every month I stayed a vegetarian, the more I felt like I had accomplished something. For the most part, changing my diet was a big deal—getting rid of meat was difficult and complicated. But when I could answer “I’ve been a vegetarian for about a year now” I felt both surprised and elated. I had changed some huge aspect of my life—I had actually changed and stuck with it.

When I started to get healthy, I took the achievements of being a vegetarian as proof that I could do it. And within a year I had lost almost 40 pounds. With the knowledge that I could actually make a change and stick with it, I was able to actually get healthier.

About a month ago I went on a pretty mediocre date. There was nothing wrong with the guy, but there was clearly no real connection—we scrounged for things to talk about, stumbled through back stories. When I got in my car to head home, I felt a sense of failure. What was wrong with me? How was I so boring?

The next day I spent in my TV chair, plowing through episodes of Teen Wolf. I ate poorly, felt like a boring, old sad sack. I let the crappy date explain my entire life up until that point. I was a boring, mediocre person, and I could very easily fail at everything. You’ve had those days, I’m sure. Where everything seems to go wrong, and you just sort of let it.

That night, I vowed that I would try to get more interesting. I would start running the next day. That way, at least I had something to talk about on a date. My hobbies include writing and running. Now I’m interesting.

I took the success of being a vegetarian and was able to bring it to my running. I had changed my diet for five years, I could most certainly run for a minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Five minutes. Eight minutes.

Today I ran 20 minutes at a 10:10 pace. I am still in shock that it happened—that my legs and my lungs actually survived the whole process. On Wednesday I thought two sets of 8 minutes was rough. But today I ran 20 minutes without stopping. (I can’t stop thinking about high school me, and how she’d just stare with her jaw to the floor if I passed her now.) And how did I do that? By proving to myself, again and again, that I could do these little things that initially felt impossible. Every time I kept running through the full length of time, the more I felt like I could challenge myself to do it again. I could do it. I can do it. I just needed a little bit of a push.

Do you challenge yourself? Have you always tried new things, or is it something you’ve struggled with? How have you learned what you can accomplish?

The Fine Art of Screwing Up

A few years ago a therapist suggested I buy myself a day planner. She argued that having a calendar filled with a list of things I needed to do would help control some anxiety I was having. And for a few years, she was right—I was best friends with my day planner. It was always in my purse, I had tabs on important dates, page-long to-do lists, even a $20 reward if I ever lost it. I wrote down important phone numbers and addresses (in case my phone ever got lost—a wonderful foresight when I left my phone in a NYC cab once), and had every friend’s birthday decorated on a page. College was a breeze with this thing—I knew exactly when assignments were due (which, as a life-long procrastinator, often crept up on me), and I had countdowns to finals. Life made sense with a planner.

And then disaster struck when I got a smartphone.

At first, I expected my life to get easier. I started with an iPhone 4s, and Siri was supposed to be my personal assistant—she’d help me stay organized just by talking to her. A dream of Steve Jobs, I’m sure, but harder to execute in reality. I rarely opened the calendar app (a clunky, annoying piece of technology—adding daily shifts was difficult), and I almost never used any of the reminders (plus, talking to Siri always feels silly). I stuck with my planner, and things stayed strong for a while. Until my old technology and my new technology butted heads. A smartphone made it easier to access data, so I didn’t really need my friend’s birthday’s handwritten anymore. Most of my contacts could save addresses, so the address book at the back of the planner was all but useless (and as my peers moved and married, out-of-date quickly). More and more I’d leave my shifts on post-it notes hidden in my wallet or stuck to the week’s page in my planner, and I’d stick important dates (lunch dates, parties, events) in my head rather than in writing. The whole thing got confusing fast.

When I finally found a great smartphone calendar app (Sunrise) I thought my life would look up again. Finally, everything would be in one place—Facebook birthdays, events, my work schedule, my bills, Gmail invites, Mac Calendars—easy to access and easy to maneuver.

Perhaps I can’t really blame my smartphone. It did its thing well, and for a good while I had my life together. As soon as someone invited me somewhere, I added it to my phone: it’s a date, set in stone, or I guess, set in 1s and 0s. I had all of my work shifts ready on the first day of the week, and I could make plans with just a few clicks. But now that I’ve quit my job, now that I don’t technically need a planner every day, well, it’s a pretty useless piece of technology.

On a whim I am visiting my sister in Cincinnati this week, and already I’ve missed two important dates—two concerts I was really excited to see (Owen Pallett, I’m SO SO SO SO SO SORRY). Because I don’t need to open Sunrise every day, there isn’t any real reason why I would have known about these things. If we’re keeping score, it’s Me-0, Life-All.

I can’t decide what will make me happier. Is having a tight schedule, writing out my hourly to-do lists helpful or cumbersome? Is parsing out my life into chunks ultimately going to give me a sense of control? And how will I find that balance? Should I have it all stuffed into my smartphone, available from anywhere on a moment’s notice? Or is there something true to the idea that writing stuff down really does make it click better? If that’s the case, how does this pocket-sized Moleskine compare to the full-sized one I’ve used in years past?

When I’m organized, I feel great. I feel like I have my life together, there are no big surprises (“we were supposed to hang out, tonight??”). But paying attention to that really does take effort. Perhaps its time I start doing that again, even without a job. I’m pretty sure the anxiety will come down, that’s for sure.

Whatever the answer, I think the key is having everything in one place. Straddling the old and the new has caused me more grief than I care to say. It’s time to either devote to the handwritten planner (and thus a giant purse to carry it in), or to ditch it altogether and accept the changing times.

How do you stay organized? Are you a technology person, or do you stand by the pen and paper method? Let me know!

How to Feel Classy When You Have No Money

Are you unemployed? Do you have a limited (or no) income? Do you reject the idea that people should know that you have no money? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m here to tell you how to feel special as your bank account dwindles.

First of all, put a bra on. No one takes a woman seriously if she hasn’t even put a bra on today. Change out of your pajamas—maybe even put on a skirt. As part of the “fake it ’til you make it” regiment, dressing the part has a huge impact on your point of view. You may no longer have direct deposit, but you’ve got a pencil skirt. Wear it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to drink. You may not have enough money anymore to buy $20 bottles of wine on a weekly basis, but you can’t afford to look cheap. That’s why you’ve got the white wine spritzer.

Trader Joe’s sells boxes of cheap (and not horrible) Chardonnay at $10.99 a pop. Buy yourself one. Not only are you getting over three bottles of wine for the price of one low-end wine, you’re going to water it down anyway, so the taste doesn’t really matter. From Target (or any other chain grocery store) purchase a 10-pack of La Croix seltzer water (preferably a complimentary flavor—I chose mango, but I’ve noticed passion fruit and even lime work well). Most white wine spritzers call for club soda or even ginger ale, but we’re cheap, so we’re taking a step down. Add half a glass of chardonnay, half La Croix, a handful of ice, and a few berries (if you’re extra cheap, frozen berries work just as well—I used fresh blueberries), and call it a day. Voila—class in a cup.

photo

After you’ve made your white wine spritzer, set the mood. You’re wearing a pencil skirt after all, you can’t listen to just anything. Billie Holiday radio is a wonderful start, and most sites offer it for free if you don’t mind the ads. iTunes has a pretty good catalogue, Spotify is weak, and Pandora is fairly consistent. If you’re struggling with Billie (which, who are you? GET OUT) other choices include Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Mildred Anderson (if you’re feeling particularly melodramatic, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” is wonderful). More contemporary artists are Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, or (the classics) Michael Bublé and Norah Jones. The one things to keep in mind when you’re classing it up? Jazz is not an option. You cannot replace it with Mumford and Sons or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It is a nonnegotiable. (Unless, of course, you’re replacing it with Nicki Minaj, which I probably couldn’t argue.) 

Next, make yourself a meal. BudgetBytes is a great place to start (last night I made the Southwest Mac ‘N Cheese), but Pinterest is also full of classy recipes on the cheap. In fact, for the most part, cooking for yourself is pretty cheap. Is eating homemade truffle butter every night cheap? Not so much. But canned foods are hidden well in pantries, and if you want to class it up a bit, the lovely gentlemen at Sorted Foods make high end cooking easy and impressive. It’s all in the presentation. Work hard in the kitchen, feel classy.

Finally, spend the rest of your evening reading. Best way to read extensively? The library (argue that you’re supporting local nonprofits—without you, we’d lose all of our libraries!). Almost every county library has an online catalogue that makes it easy to search and request almost any book, usually available at your local library within a week. Not so big on reading? Many big cities (Minneapolis included) are part of an audiobook sharing program that makes downloading an audiobook for free to your iPhone or Android easy and painless. Just enter your library number, download the OverDrive app, and start listening. If your library isn’t quite with the times, podcasts are a great way to keep learning while you’re cleaning, or driving or riding the bus (shhhhh—we don’t do that! We have Uber!). Some of my favorites include This American Life, RadioLab, The Moth, The TED Radio Hour and The New Yorker Fiction podcast. Remember, you want to exude a sense of intelligence and cultural prowess, and getting in touch with NPR never hurt anybody.

And remember, class is a state of mind. Exude it enough, people have to believe you sooner or later. Good luck!

The Love Affair I Can’t Give Up

I don’t know how it happened. I used to be responsible, put together, smart about these things. I used to know where the line was, used to know my limits. But now? Now I’ve crossed over. Now I can snooze for two hours before realizing how detrimental it is to my day. That’s right, I’m obsessed with my snooze button.

Back when I had a job I would set my alarm not for the time I needed to get out of bed, but for the time I thought I should get out of bed. It’s innocent enough–having lofty goals for the morning. I’ll wake up, have breakfast, shower, maybe even get some writing done, get to work early, have a coffee. It was worse when I worked evenings. I’d set my alarm for the morning, hoping that I would get a few things done before catching the bus around 1, but the inevitable would always descend. My alarm would go off around 8 in the morning, I’d reset it a few times, maybe even for an hour, before I just reset the whole alarm for two hours later, and then snooze for another hour before getting out of bed.

How terrible, right? Everyone knows that snoozing only makes you more tired. That the sleep you get in those 9 minute increments is mostly useless. That you aren’t really sleeping. Why not just reset the entire alarm for an hour later rather than snoozing for an hour? Because that’s the smart thing to do. Haven’t you learned by now that we don’t identify me as “smart?”

It feels like I’ve tried everything. I set the alarm across the room, only to get out of bed, turn it off, and crawl back into bed. For a while I had the app that would sense your REM cycles and wake you up when you were least asleep. You could knock on the back of your iPhone for the snooze, and I’d do that until the last possible minute. Or, more likely, I’d turn it off, with a backup alarm set for the “GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF BED OR YOU WILL LOSE YOU JOB BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE” alarm. I’ve tried certain music (giant power chords intros), the radio, the obnoxious alarm noises. All of these things only make me want to shut the stupid thing up faster.

I don’t particularly like the snooze button. I don’t feel good after hitting it for a while, and I certainly feel a bit like a failure every time I get out of bed at 11AM instead of 8AM. But like a bad friend, I can’t let the snooze button go. Sure it makes me tired, ornery, and cranky, it makes me feel like a failure every time it speaks, makes me wonder just how useless I really am. But it’s so nice to have around. It’s so nice to hit that button, curl back up into the comforter, and know that for, almost 10 more minutes, I don’t have to face the world. I can stay in bed, and maybe keep sleeping. What a lovely present the snooze button has given me–procrastination.

I’m working on quitting my love affair with this beast, but I’m finding it difficult. How do you get out of bed in the morning? Are you just smarter than me, does it come easier to some people? You think you’re so successful because you can get out of bed in the morning, and go to your awesome job and–

Sorry.

I’m a little cranky. I didn’t get much sleep this morning.