Friday, October 28, 2011

Life Post-Thesis Defense

This blog is going to be nothing but rants, I've realized. If you don't actually know me in person, please do not believe that these entries are the total sum of my thoughts and personality.

I'll start with the good news: I passed my thesis defense on Wednesday. My friends showed up to support me, and the whole thing felt less formal and antagonistic than I thought it would. Thanks again to all of you! The defense was also followed by a very fun night out with said friends (and adviser). The bad news: IT'S STILL NOT OVER. I walked away with a ton of editing to do, which all needs to get done in the next two weeks (!!!!). I don't want to look at it ever again. I want to set it aflame in the middle of a field and never look back. It doesn't help that I walked out of that meeting feeling like what I have is a fucking first draft. On top of that, I had to meet with my adviser the very next day to discuss edits, and I have yet to read all the formal comments my committee sent me via e-mail, which means I have to relive my defense at least three more times before I start writing again.

So, inexplicably (or maybe explicably) today I have been in a bad mood. I need to start writing again but can't. I can't even write for FUN. The weather is cooler, but grey and morose (ten points for vocab). I'm so sick of taking sleeping pills, but whenever I've made a serious effort to go off them I end up laying in bed until I finally give in. I can sleep without them on nights when I've been drinking, but otherwise I just lay there for an hour or so until I get up and take an Ambien. It's so discouraging, and I'm always so mad the next day. I just wish I could sleep NORMALLY again; it's infuriating to feel I have no power over a basic life function like sleep. Am I really still so stressed that I can't sleep? Or am I just addicted? Will I ever be able to be NORMAL again and sleep?

I'm also worried about the basic fact that I cannot simply be happy that my thesis defense is over and that a major hurdle has been overcome. I just keep thinking that I STILL have to work on it, I STILL have to find a job, etc, etc. It's a monster that refuses to die. What will come next? An awful job? Another shitty apartment? Another gang-ridden, ghetto city with nothing to do? Laden with idiotic drivers and students (I'm terribly jaded with the college scene, I guess). I feel stuck on a hamster wheel. I am really (or was) excited about doing NaNoWriMo, but now I know how much more I have to do, and I know that my ideas are cliche, and totally unfeasible. I just don't know if I can do it.

In the meantime, I chose to treat myself to a mini-spree at Ulta, and a self-indulgent night -in with pasta, pumpkin beer, candy, and the movie Bridesmaids with actors' commentary. I also bought a copy of Mother Jones magazine, which may or may not improve my mood. We'll see.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Unpretty (i.e. a Rant)

I'm reluctant to write about this publicly, because I'm afraid it will get into the hands of someone involved in this incident, but I feel the need to write about it and get some feedback to see if I'm really just much too sensitive a person (chances are, if you're reading this, I'm not talking about you).

Recently I was at a restaurant with a group of friends. We went late enough that I wasn't planning on eating, but alcohol consumption tends to bring out a desire in me to eat nasty, greasy bar food. After an hour or so I gave in and ordered an appetizer of cheesy fries with bacon. I thought nothing of it. When my food arrived, I was surprised by the portion size they gave me (an entire dinner plate--enough for a meal!) but figured I was always willing to share, or get a to-go box, if push came to shove. A few of my friends around me expressed similar amazement at the size, but as I said before, I was also a little intimidated. However, as I begin munching away at cheesy-fry bliss, the guy next to me turns and asked "do you eat healthy?" A little off-put by this question, I replied that I try to eat healthy. This is the truth; although I don't cook much and go out more than I should, I do try to be conscious about what I eat (and drink). Nonetheless, I eased up on the fries and sat back a little. "Don't judge me," I joked half-heartedly, and he quickly refuted that he wasn't.

Yet the comments persisted. A girl across the table leaned over and asked (this probably isn't verbatim but is pretty close) "How do you stay so skinny [maybe she said thin?] when I see you eat all this crap?" She was undoubtedly referring to other times when we all had gone out. I don't remember what I said back, but knowing me I probably just smiled and chuckled. "You go to the gym, right?" She asked me next. I'm proud to say that this is true, that I exercise on average about 3-5 hours a week. The guy next to me more or less repeated this question, then asked what I did to workout (in case you're wondering, I tend to use the elliptical-type machines and rowing machines).

At this point I was hurt and extremely self-conscious, and all nibbling came to a halt. I pushed my plate away slightly, which only ignited shocked outrage from others who had obviously not heard the earlier exchange. This at least produced the desired effect of having others dive into my fries (including those who had just given me shit about eating them in the first place). I ate a little more, and between a number of us the plate was mostly finished by the end of the night. Nonetheless, I couldn't let go of the hurt and resentment I felt at the comments that had been made to me. I stayed largely quiet (although I don't know if anyone noticed) and left as soon as trivia was over, with my beer unfinished. I made an excuse to not continue to hang out .

The point of this story, I guess, is to ask: What in hell made these people think that these were polite, unoffensive remarks and questions? I would never, EVER have grilled someone like that about the food they eat, especially when I only see them MAYBE once a week! The only possible exception I can think of is a close friend or relative who I know for CERTAIN is endangering themselves. The casual "wow that's a big burger" comment or something of that effect may be okay, but grilling someone (no pun intended) about their diet and physical activity is not, in my opinion. I understand that as much as our culture promotes an unhealthy lifestyle which can lead to obesity (and of which about one-third of us are), we also stereotype and ridicule overweight and obese people as stupid, lazy, etc. I'm not trying to imply that I suffer more. I'm also not trying to imply that I'm perfect; God knows I've put my foot into my mouth many times. It angered me to feel that I cannot win; if I'm overweight, I am ridiculed. If I'm thin with little to no effort, I become the subject of resentment and passive-aggressive behavior (funnily enough, both of these individuals seemed to be a healthy weight). We live in a society where only one type of beauty is idolized, and it's a shame. I'm pretty damn sure there are overweight people out there who are more physically fit and diet-conscious than I am. Although I may be able to brag about a slender figure and a face which is deemed pretty, I have my own set of problems.

I'm not really sure how to end this. I try not to hold onto any ill-will towards the aforementioned individuals. The guy was at least half-drunk, and the girl may very well have thought she was complimenting me. I'm trying to let it go, but I thought it might be helpful to get my feelings out in the open. Chances are I'm overreacting, and I understand that. I don't know the struggles of those who embarrassed me. These types of comments come once in a blue moon. Yet as I walked into my apartment that night, the song "Unpretty" by TLC came to mind.

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brief Life Update

Just wanted to give those few of you still reading a brief update so you know I'm not dead. First, good news: I think my thesis defense date has been set! As of now it will be sometime on October 26th. I keep getting asked how it feels to almost be done, and I honestly have no idea. I don't think it will feel done until it is DONE--submitted to the graduate school and everything. At that point, I'll probably be too worried about getting a job that the accomplishment will go barely noticed in my mind. I've been getting a lot of questions on that score as well, and the answer is I have no idea what I want to do (serious employment-wise) and am still fumbling with the question of where to apply and where I want to live. I've looked around a little, and haven't seen much that sounded interesting or that I was qualified for. There's still hope though...

In other news, signed up for NaNoWriMo, which starts next month. It may be crazy, but I figured since I'll only be working on thesis edits and job applications at that point (only HAHA) I'll need something fun on the side to de-stress (or make myself more stressed, we'll see). At least if NaNo gets too hairy I can always drop it (not that I want to!). Finally came up with some tangible writing ideas...not that they're very good/feasible. At least it will be a good time of commiseration and whining with other wannabe-novelists. I'm actually attempting a little bit of outlining/research for this one, unlike past years where I dove in headfirst with only the vaguest clue of what I was doing. I've managed to "win" twice in the past (i.e. wrote at least 50,000 words) with this strategy, but was left with "novels"  I never looked back on because there wasn't any passion left for them, and they were so crappy that it wouldn't have mattered if there was anyway. We'll see how well this plan goes; I've tended to strongly deviate from outlines in the past.

Ok, that's about all for now. Over and out.