Hello sweet peas. Tell me, are you all still breathing? I’m about to re-enter the land of the living. I am freshly showered, cuddled up in a blue sweatsuit with my favorite blue blanket, and sipping One Glass of Wine™ (AKA half a bottle), but who’s keeping track? Definitely not me, since around 4 o’clock this afternoon I hit send on my last assignment of the semester. This morning, Facebook decided to remind me that exactly one year ago I was in my bed, surrounded by books. Coincidentally, that’s exactly where I was today, surrounded by different books. Except everything was better because this semester I managed to shower habitually, and I’ve done considerably less crying. I even managed to leave my house not once, but twice this weekend. She can be taught!
Hitting send on that email marked the halfway point of my Master’s program. This semester I wrote a chapbook, the first draft of a full length manuscript, about 25 pages of lit crit, and six pieces that found homes with print and online publications. I also managed to juggle three jobs and watch the entire backlog of “Fresh Off The Boat” episodes.
Next semester I’ll be teaching my own section of Intro to Rhetoric & Writing Studies (RWS 200), which is exciting/terrifying/daunting, because I’ll have students of my own who may or may not like me, and will probably most definitely not like the subject matter, and are being forced to learn it in order to go on and do the things they actually care about, like becoming engineers and doctors and mathematicians, but it’s my job to make sure they can think critically and write analytically, so fingers crossed we can make it fun and use less run-ons than I habitually thrown down in this blog.
Anyways, since I’ve spent the last year and a half getting me some high quality book learning, I thought I’d take this post-semester opportunity to look at some of the Real Life lessons that have been handed to me. Listed in order of importance (just kidding, it’s as they occur to me):
Office refrigerator tamales are a miracle, and should be regarded as such. Do not question where they came from. Do not try to find the glorious human who slaved over their exquisite husks and blessed you with them, expecting no compensation or praise. Do not rush your break room tamales. Savor them. When you return to the office, day after day, and there are no tamales, just stale, store bought cinnamon rolls with a dead fly caught in the sugary web of icing, do not begrudge the cinnamon rolls. Just fondly remember the miracle tamales.
Happy Hour is a trap. Or a lie. Sure, things like “Buy One Get One ½ Off” and “All You Can Eat Tacos, Just $6.95” seem inviting enough. Times are hard, am I right? Anything to save a couple bucks… No. What they forget to mention, as you’re ordering your BOGO margaritas is that each margarita costs the equivalent of one tank of gas, five Double Doubles, or 1/45th of your rent. Plus, Happy Hour always ends too soon, as if bars have tapped into some sort of warp speed time acceleration, and as you’re slurping down the dregs of your first drink, things are suddenly full price again. But of course, by then you’re just juiced up enough to think You know what, I work hard and I DESERVE this $16 craft cocktail, and let me tell you something: you’re so right. You do work hard, and you definitely deserve that cocktail, but you know what else you deserve? To eat for the rest of the month.
**Strategy to avoid Trap-py Hour: set an alarm for 30 minutes before the drink specials end. Not for you, because you’ll just ignore it, but for your friend who doesn’t drink and is willing to scoop you up and buy you five Double Doubles with the money you would have spent on one more margarita. I have not tested this strategy, but I feel as if it is flawless.
It’s really best to pretend the turtle insurrection isn’t a thing, until it is. A thing. Let me explain. On the campus at SDSU there’s a burbling, tranquil pond next to Scripps Cottage, home to koi fish, decorative greenery, and a whole army of red-eared sliders. This is my favorite place to sit in the sun, eat a chicken salad sandwich, and consider the impending avalanche of responsibilities that I’ve been narrowly outrunning each semester. Generally, the turtles will perch along the rock, soaking up the same sun. Sometimes the turtles are wearing warpaint on their shells. And we just don’t question it. Nope, we sure don’t.
You can blame just about anything on the moon. Feeling melancholic? Well, it’s that new moon energy. You’re just plumbing the depths of your own psychic shadow phase. All amped up and nowhere to go? Chill boo, it’s just the full moon in Gemini. Or Aries. Or something about Mars? Real talk for just a minute: yes, I do believe that the alignment of the planets has something to do with the forces of energy down here on this big galumphing rock we call home. But, I also feel like astrology presents really great opportunities for introspection, and a space to examine your feelings, impulses, and personal growth. Plus, knowing a little something something about all those space rocks is a great conversation starter at your school-sponsored Meet n’ Greets. [Note: my go-tos are Chani Nicholas and Jessica Lanyadoo]
People don’t grow out of being lactose intolerant. Scientifically, it’s just not possible. No matter what your mom tells you, no matter how accustomed you’ve become to the pain, it really just… No. Luckily, science! There’s a handy little capsule that helps your body digest lactose, the natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. So listen, boo. If your internal windmills churn angrily when you eat dairy products, maybe you should look into just not.
The first 20 rows of an Alaska flight board last. Which means you can dally over the visit’s final sushi dinner, and still have an extra five minutes of crying in the parking garage before you have to say goodbye to your sweetie. True, sometimes you will still have to carry your shoes and literally run to your gate, but it’s worth it for those last few soggy sweet nothings murmured into the crease of your neck.
No matter how much you think you know your cat, you don’t. Things I have spent the last 7.5 years assuming were true: Murphy hates wet food, chewy treats, brushing, and catnip. Things Murphy has apparently loved her whole life: see above. It’s not easy trying to sleep with a stranger on my chest every night, but once you relax into the not-knowing, things really get easier.
Overuse of the word ‘awesome’ is a super American thing? For the past six months or so I’ve been the copywriter for a Dutch fitness and nutrition company… Ahem, pardon me. A “premium-lifestyle brand.” In that time, I’ve become uncomfortably aware of how frequently I use the word awesome to describe admittedly mediocre things. Avocado toast? Awesome. Getting out of class early? Awesome. Drinking a protein shake with green tea in it? Super-mega-AWESOME. [Note: If anyone has suggestions for a word that means the same thing as when Americans say awesome, I’d appreciate it. You’ll get a 10% cut of my copywrite pennies.]
Hanging out with younger people is a 50/50 gamble. Sometimes, you get to be the cool, cultured older sibling who pays for the youngsters’ drinks at your sister’s engagement dinner. Other times you’re the hyper-stressed almost-30-year-old who drinks too much at dinner and falls asleep on your sister’s couch, still holding a beer, while watching American Horror Story. If you don’t like those odds, don’t play the game. Also, I’m so sorry for drinking your beer, Emily. I owe you a 6-pack of something that isn’t pineapple flavored.
Caulking guns are a thing. Initially, when you decide to be a Grown Up and recaulk your shower instead of bothering your landlady to do it for you, you may be intimidated by the options on the shelves at Home Depot. Of course you’ll select the reasonably priced tubes of silicone, with their 7 year mold-free warranty. What you won’t realize is that those tubes aren’t meant to test your fortitude, and extracting the caulk from the tubes does not require strength of character. No. It requires a caulking gun. Through some miracle you may manage to caulk your entire shower using a screwdriver, a box knife, and the jammed knuckles of your own determined fingers. This is not advisable.
Ride the roller coaster. Go back for the purse. Watch the awful, hotel room tv movies, and don’t be sad that the bar closed at 11pm. I don’t know how many of you know this about me, but I’m not the best at last minute changes to plans. I like to put off the “super chill, go with the flow” vibe, but I have a habit of getting caught up in expectation. Call it a function of being a wordsmith, when the story is in my head already I have a hard time rewriting. But this past summer taught me that some of my favorite stories are the ones that were rewritten. The “waterfront” room, overlooking that creek that followed the underbelly of the overpass. The 8am hot tub soak, because we missed pool hours the night before. Arriving in San Diego at 2am, because we didn’t leave Santa Cruz until 4pm. Each of these improvisations feels like the perfect, sappy story, when co-written with the human I love.
[Note: can you tell I’ve poured my second One Glass of Wine™?]
I still don’t quite know how to explain the past sixteen months, and I’m not sure I’ll ever really find the words without them being overblown and sentimental. God knows you don’t read this for the overblown and sentimental… right? What I can say, considering Saturn left my sun sign at 10:30pm EST last night, is that I never expected to be this person, living this life. The other night, on the phone with my human I said, You know what? If I DID die and this life is just the story I’m telling, I would be glad because it would mean I finally learned how to be kind to myself. I hope you sweet darlings are still out there, living and loving and being your kindest selves. Feel free to share your life lessons with me, lord knows I need them…
Xoxo, my sweeties.