10 Things That I Have Learned Lately…

  1. There is such a thing as stupid questions! I have known this for a while, but I have learned THE funniest of them all: “How do you feel about a baby in the apartment?” BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For a question such as this, a response such as “How do you feel about me slitting your throat? Probably about the same…” is fitting. I have done everything that a responsible modern woman has to do to avoid an unwanted situation. So I am not going to live with the consequences, no matter how amazing the apartment is. (Read: I’M NOT MOVING!!!…but somebody is….)

    #teamnobabies

    #teamnobabies

  2. As the sunrise gets earlier and earlier, so too does the birds’ peak time of conversation and mating. 4 am is now a time when birds choose to gather outside of my bedroom window and, seemingly, mate. It’s either that or feral cats getting it on at a second story level. Either way it is a LOAD of noise. At 4 am. 4 nights in a row. Who needs sleep?…no. I do. I need sleep. Hence, #teamnobabies
  3. Apparently summer is a time that makes men in London feel extra entitled. I have made it nearly 10 months in this giant city without being groped on the tube. And then June hits and BAM! Two cases of sexual harassment in two weeks. First, a man flipped my skirt up when I was standing on the escalator. Then, while on the last stretch of a 40 minute run, I was hit by a motorcyclists’ outstretched arm. My a$$ is now bruised. I was also standing with a friend who bent over to lock her bike outside of a pub when a man felt the need to let her know that she had “some grass on her a$$”…and then felt that it was a good idea to brush it off for her. It was not ok. NOT OK!! #everydaysexism
  4. Summer is also when the lack of air conditioning in London becomes exceedingly noticeable. And intolerable. How is this not a thing in every developed country?? I want to send the people in charge to the Deep South during June and see if they don’t want to adopt that gorgeous burst of frigid air as any door, anywhere opens.

    This image proves that

    This image proves that “AirCon” is not a new invention…therefore I do not see the hesitation in accepting it fully as a needed aspect of a society tormented by global warming…

  5. One of the best feelings in the world may very well be quitting a job that had been sucking the life out of you with its’ pointless nature and total dominance over all possibility of weekend fun. I am now at an interesting point in my life. Up ’til this point I have worked nothing but meagre jobs which I mostly hated, because I had to have a job. My next job will be something important. Something related to my field. Something that will actually further my career. That’s exciting.                                    quitting
  6. It is necessary to have an area of life that separates you from what you ‘do’. Throughout most of my master’s course I have been supplementing my lessons by reading books related to the field (aka scientific books) in my spare time. This can only last so long until I lost my mind. I require a creative outlet. And spending 95% of waking hours writing a thesis does not leave me with much brain power to write blogs (unfortunately). BUT getting back to reading literature soothes my soul. Must remember this for future scientific endeavours…
  7. In times of absurdly important projects (such as a master’s thesis), it is important to prioritize the areas in which I am working my a$$ off. For example, it is not sustainable to work my a$$ off at school, on multiple projects (including my thesis), while also maintaining a killer workout schedule and strict diet regime (all the while berating myself for any slips). Something’s gotta give. And thesis trumps all. So it’s a good thing that I’ve realized my body’s ability to bounce back relatively quickly, cuz if I’m staring at a screen, wracking my brain for words and I want a cookie, I’m eatin’ a cookie. diet
  8. Technically I already knew this, but my Facebook feed does not change just because I can no longer form a stream of words that make any sense when deep in the thesis-writing process.
  9. Likewise, more coffee does not make words come. It only makes the non-words come at a more voracious pace.        coffee
  10. Last but not least, I have learned that when studying alcohol all day (and I mean ALLLLLLLLLLL day); reading articles about it, writing a thesis about it, having international conference calls about it…it really makes you want to drink it. TGFW (Thank God For Wine)

gradschool

My lack of posts lately has been due to my need to channel all of my writing energy into scientific forms. I probably won’t be back to my once-a-week goal until September, but stay tuned because things aren’t getting any less interesting on this side of the pond…

Let’s Talk About Something Important

We’re right in the midst of the UK election season, which officially lasts 38 days. That’s roughly a month of campaigning. While I cannot vote in this election, I am keeping up with the parties’ stances, so that I can persuade my boyfriend, who can vote (for the first time!), to vote with a purpose, rather than to vote for whoever is ‘probably gonna lose’. The two issues that I have a vested interest in are drug policy reform (let’s use some sense and invoke some leniency here, people) and immigration laws, for obvious reasons (Say No to Xenophobia!!!).

Meanwhile, back in the good ole USofA, election season has also kicked off…20 months early. So while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the seemingly dozens of presidential candidates’ campaigns (I mean really, is every person who has ever held public office running for president??), I feel like I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that many important issues will be ignored.

I predict that the two main issues no one will be able to shut up about are 1.The Economy and 2. Health Care

And while those are unarguably very important issues, they are not the issues that are plaguing the country.

The United States criminal justice system needs to be reformed. Badly. Quickly. There is an institutional racism that lies just under the surface, barely out of plain sight, throughout the entire system (police, courts, prison). This selective enforcement, discrimination and harassment has its’ roots in the “War on Drugs“. For anyone interested in the detailed and documented history of this, I can suggest some wonderful books, but I am not here to provide a history lesson today. I am here to make a lesson of the present.

time

Last week, my boyfriend and I were scrolling through YouTube’s most watched videos and happened upon the video posted by Fox News of the shooting of a black man by a white police officer in Muskogee County, Oklahoma. Just so there is no confusion (because there have been a few shootings of black men by white police officers in Oklahoma recently…), this was not a case of an ‘unarmed black man’. The man did have a gun. I will argue, however, that the cop used this man for target practice. He shot with excessive force (as if shooting in and of itself is not excessive force…). He shot this man five times. In the back. He then kept the gun pointed at the (obviously dead) man for the next few minutes, and refused to let a friend check on him. There was an utter lack of compassion. It was completely un-human.

The video made me physically sick. I cannot understand that kind of flippancy for another human’s life. I do understand that the job of a police officer comes with many challenges, and that there is a need to deal with the challenges in a way that laypeople cannot sympathize with (I studied criminal justice, and so my ‘understanding’ is from an academic perspective. I do not purport to fully grasp the ins and outs of police work). Additionally, I am not suggesting that there are no good cops. Policing is a necessary part of every society, and many are doing their part to keep our country safer.

epidemic

What I am suggesting, is that there is a cancer that has been spreading throughout the system. Black men have been killed by cops without reason throughout America’s history. But we haven’t had access to smart phones, which can video anything and everything and then be disseminated to everyone, everywhere, throughout America’s history (or in this case, wearable body cameras). The point that I am trying to make is that this is not a phenomenon. And it is not an issue that can be solved by firing a few ‘bad apples’.

Something needs to change.

And someone needs to make it their issue in this upcoming election season. No more baseless murders protected by a failing institution need to happen before someone in power gets upset enough to demand an overhaul. Due to the complexity of the issues America is suffering, one policy change ain’t gonna cut it.

There needs to be drug policy reform. It’s all well and good if people choose to persistently and ignorantly assume that all black men are engaging in illicit drug use, everyone has the right to their opinion in America, after all. But their ignorance should not impact an entire group of people in the paramount way that it does now.

There needs to be gun law reform. Contrary to the ideas of many Texans and Alabamians whom I have spoken to, this would not consist of Obama showin’ up at your front door and takin’ your guns. But there needs to be fewer guns. Less access to guns. Guns need to be harder to get! Because it’s too easy to kill people right now. And that’s not cool.

There needs to be police reform. The entire training for police needs to be reconsidered. The culture of the boys in blue needs therapy. Hey, how about some actual therapy?! Police go through some struggles that civilians don’t. It might help to talk about it. Going to Afghanistan isn’t the only cause of PTSD. And there’s plenty of other psychological phenomena that occur from the amount of stress from this job…

So we’ve got new laws, new training, and addressing mental health. Now let’s get the people who don’t deserve to wield this power out of their current positions, and let’s move some new recruits in. I really have no suggestion on how to do this, but I’m sure someone out there does. Or could come up with one if they decide that this is an issue worthy of a brainstorming session.

Off

This was a comment made by a fellow cop to the cop who killed an unarmed black man in South Carolina. He laughed and said his adrenaline was pumping…

I think that this is the most pressing domestic issue facing the United States of America at this time. The longer we wait to demand reform, the more black men (and black women, and hispanic men and women, and people with mental health issues…), some armed, some unarmed, will be killed across the country. Some of these stories will make national headlines. Many won’t.

This issue may not affect you directly. That’s all the more reason why you should care. People in power have a habit of not really listening to the plight of the people who it does affect. Say something. Make it an issue worth talking about. Make your local politicians and your presidential candidate of choice know that you think it’s an issue.

I will hold my breath for this reform. #ICantBreathe

Union Square protests


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The Gasp Test

gasp

You know those moments when you think something terrible is happening, and you instinctively make a sound that would make clutching your pearls or seeing your life flash before your eyes seem fitting?

If you don’t, lucky you!!

If you do know the feeling that I’m talking about, how often does it occur?

For me, I’ve realized that it is a good day if I only have that gasp 3 times. THREE!! That’s too many times per day to feel like something terrible is about to happen. Let me clarify, these three times that I gasp and see my life flash before my eyes is NOT when I accidentally look the wrong way before crossing the street and almost get run over by a speeding double-decker bus (that rarely happens anymore…).

These gasps repeatedly occur on a few occasions:

  1. When a pigeon flies towards me. And they do. Daily. I hate birds. I have recently realized that this is worse in springtime. You know what’s more terrifying than a pigeon? A sexually frustrated pigeon. Yayyyy mating season.
  2. When I’m walking somewhere and think that I’ve lost/left my phone/Oyster card/keys somewhere. Usually what has happened is that the almost-forever-lost item was a few centimeters away from where my hand initially entered the pocket that my hand was already in. Yet in that quarter of a second, I have planned who I need to call or what I need to do to get wherever I need to get. It is a miserably stressful quarter of a second!
  3. When I almost drop my phone. This has become a bit less stressful now that the worst has happened (I recently shattered my previously unblemished screen).
  4. When I almost make the train that I had just convinced myself I didn’t neeeeed to make, because hey, I’m in no big rush. But, oh the doors are still open. Ah I can make it! Speed up a smidgey. *BEEP BEEP BEEP* Doors nearly close on the tip of my nose. (Due to childhood trauma, I have a thing with automatically closing doors. I’m skittish.)
  5. When I almost drop food. I love food.

Are these overreactions? Probably. But I prefer to associate them with an unusually high stress level. Better to be crazy than dramatic, no? Or maybe they are one in the same.

How do you measure your daily stress level?

joey

Bizarre Experiences in Public Transportation

If you’ve been reading my blog since I moved to London, you know that I enjoy blogging about public transportation. This is probably because it’s so different from the norm in America, which is driving around with a bunch of crazy people and getting psycho-level road rage. (Ok, that’s probably not the norm. But that’s how I drive.)

I have become aware that I have had an oddly high amount of bizarre experiences. My boyfriend travels mostly during rush hours, not a whole lot of crazy people riding the tube or bus then. Well, at least they’re crazy people who are keeping their crazy toned down. I, on the other hand, travel at strange hours. Usually between the hours of 10-4. I foolishly thought that would be a rather tame time of day, not so!

Everyone in London has their fair share of weird people they’ve encountered; if you’ve lived here for more than a week, you’ve been too close for comfort with a couple making out, and been on the unfortunate side of someone who slumps in their sleep. I am talking about things that are worse than this. And so here I will rank the top 5  most bizarre experiences that I have experienced in public transportation!

Brace yourselves.

5. Nail polishing: Something about the tube gives some people the same level of comfort that is provided by their own bathroom. One particularly heinous habit is applying nail polish on public transportation. You are kidding yourself if you think those tiny bottles don’t unleash a whole heap of fumes. If you’d just take a gander at the warning labels on that little bottle, you would likely see an advisement to only use in ‘well-ventilated areas’…a crowded underground train does not fall into that category. Yet this is a fairly frequent occurrence, and it seems totally crazy to me. However, a personal rule of mine is never to apply cosmetics in public if I can avoid it. (Never let ’em see you sweat, ya know?)

4. Child climbing on me: I have mentioned my general agitation about children in previous blog posts, and so it should not be news that I try to avoid close encounters (for reasons of both the desire for a bit of peace and to not interact with the “superspreaders). However, quite a few parents of young children fall into one of two categories when on public transportation: the parents who are as easily distracted by technology as children are purported to be, and so spend the entire commute with their nose in their smartphone OR the parents who think their little darling’s frenzied sound-barrier-breaking-babble or attempts to turn the carriage into a jungle gym are equally as entertaining to other passengers as to the people who have witnessed their progression through all sorts of developmental landmarks. (Rant almost over…) The worst instance of this was a woman who let her (probably) 4 year old ACTUALLY climb on me. As in, he crawled over the arm rest, put his hands on my legs, face close to my face, and she just sat there. What is the best way to approach that situation? Gently push the kid off and then sanitize hands? Try to get the attention of the mother? Eh…I just slipped out of the seat, got off at the next stop and switched carriages….and then sanitized hands. (Better safe than sorry.)

3. Banana eating: This was an exceptional occurrence that has yet to be repeated, although on days when I could use a laugh, sometimes I wish it was. After one particular night out, my boyfriend and I got onto one of the last trains of the evening, and sat down in a nearly full carriage (him across from me). The man sitting to the right of me proceeded to take a banana out of his bag. He peeled it (nothing unusual so far…), leaned as far left as the restraints of the seat would allow, and then he leaned a little bit further. He is now essentially in my lap, his rear raised off of his seat just enough to be noticeable. He then proceeded to eat his banana, in large, brazen bites, with his head turned ever-so-slightly in the direction of my face. I was so appalled, and so unable to escape his lewd masticating that I burst into laughter. I couldn’t contain myself. But my amusement at the situation did not stop him. He stretched that banana to last three whole stops. Amazingly, we got off at the same station. When he stood up, I was even more amused to find that he was over 6 inches shorter than me. The banana-eating must be some kind of manifestation of little-man syndrome.

2. Lotion on feet: Remarkably, this happened with a woman who had already exhibited #5 on the list. After she had applied a second layer of nail polish to her fingernails, she reached into her bag and pulled out a bottle of lotion. She kicked her shoes off, crossed one foot over her knee and began to generously apply lotion to her calloused feet. There’s really no need to delve deeper into this one. It was appalling. So I got the hell out of there.

1. Toe nail clipping: This is truly the most unfathomable activity I have witnessed in public before. And I have seen this on multiple occasions. The first, and most surprising instance, was a weekday at about 10 am on the Jubilee line. A woman got on the train with her two kids (I would guesstimate 6 and 9 years old?) She plops the younger one onto the bench, pulls out an unidentified device from her pocket, takes his shoes off, AND STARTS CUTTING HIS TOENAILS!!! Fingernails next. Oooh gotta clip the other one’s fingernails too. Periodically brushing the nail clippings onto the floor. OMG my jaw hit the floor. I kept looking around at other people to see if they found this as weird as I did. If they did, they were hiding their feelings better than I was. Not sure if this is a common thing, or if there are just a higher concentration of gross people in big cities, but I have not only seen people cut their nails on public transportation, I have also seen people do it in pubs. WTF.

Does anyone else notice people doing crazy things in public? Is this just my reward after years of people-watching boring people? Do I have an affinity for locating the crazies? I can’t be sure. But for some reason, I am lucky enough to have close encounters with people of this caliber.

Lucky me.


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Starting with Step 4

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that my boyfriend and I have a sense of adventure that often complements each other.

Let me add to this that our sense of frugality and planning also complements each other. Which is why, for the past few months we have been pondering and researching over where we should take a holiday. He has nearly a month paid vacation days, and I have a burning desire to see many places in Europe. However, our ideas of perfect vacations are quite different, and our 2-person student budget does not make anything easier. And so we have compiled lists of the top cities we would like to visit, what we would like to do there, when the best time to travel is, how much it would cost to get there and stay there, etc.

We have reached ‘final’ decisions multiple times, only to be reversed when we find a new deal on Groupon or a new budget travel website.

But we work well under pressure, and tend to be impulsive at inopportune moments. And so on Friday morning, when we realized there is very little going on in the city of London over  Easter weekend, one of us said “Wanna go to Paris for one night?” and the other said “Sure, that sounds like a good idea.”

From there, a series of very stupid decisions were made.

1. We decided to start at Step 4 and book a non-refundable room in a hostel FIRST (before even looking at travel options). Allow me to mention here that the Flexible Booking option was £2 more, but one of us said, “Why do that? We’re definitely going.”…You know the feeling of instant regret after you’ve clicked something? That was the exact feeling I had.

Then we pulled up train, bus and flight tickets, and realized…there were none (under about £400…which is not budget-able).

2. So after a mild panic attack (my boyfriend would argue about the use of ‘mild’ here) about having lost money, we moved on to the only logical next step: rent a car.

That’s right! Neither of us have driven a vehicle in over 8 months, and neither of us have EVER driven on the other side of the road, or abided by kilometres per hour…but a road trip could be fun. That is, I’ve been told, the most American way to travel.

But obviously there were some speed bumps with the rental (both of us being under 25, having American drivers licenses, taking the car across borders, etc.). You know those moments when, at the time you say ‘some day we’ll look back on this and laugh’? It’s strange to know with such certainty that moments like that are less than 24 hours away.

Essentially, we were going to get the first big European adventure out of the way in a BIG way!

3. But then we realised that in order to get to the car that we have rented, we have to buy train tickets…an added expense that took money away from the budget-able money to be spent in Paris. Not ideal, but okay.

4. BUT THEN we realised that you have to book a time to cross the Chunnel…the only time slots available on this very long weekend would have given us a total of about 10 hours in the city. Not ideal for our first trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Oh, and you have to pay for that too.

And so our little weekend getaway got postponed, which may be a good thing because we will have some more time to explore the city. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that we lost some money on that hostel. Can’t be too sure because I’ve been afraid to look at my bank account since Saturday.

On the bright side, we can just chock this up to a lesson learned, for a relatively small amount. I mean, we could have paid for something much more expensive than a hostel in this learning process. Oh well. To live is to learn.

And our road trip to Paris will be happening in the next couple of months. So stay tuned for tales of that misadventure.

Road Trip!


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My Perfect Cheat Day

Today marks the end of my spring term! Which that I am officially done with classes! It also means that many students are going home for a month. This is a bit weird for me because I am not going back to the States. However, it did lead to an interesting conversation between Lou and I about what we would eat if/when we go back to Texas. And so, because I couldn’t stop thinking about all of that glorious southern food, I’ve created the perfect day of Texas foods and general American foods that I can’t or won’t include in my current diet. And so here it goes! Prepare to be hungry.

Breakfast: Let’s start with my favourite meal of the day, at a place that, if you forget that calories exist, can be a kind of heaven: IHOP. That’s right. The International House of Pancakes is my first stop back in America. I’m craving some Face Pancakes (that is, pancakes the size of your face) topped with partially still-frozen fruit and ways too much butter and syrup (I know that I paint an intriguing picture, but the heart wants what it wants).

That's some good old fashioned Face Pancakes right there

That’s some good old fashioned Face Pancakes right there

And my heart wants a plate of REAL bacon. That’s right, Brits. I said it. Your bacon is an imposter.

REAL Bacon

REAL Bacon

I’m also gonna start this day off right with a big glass of SWEET, ICED tea and an instruction for my waiter to fill it up whenever it gets low. I’m setting myself up for a sugar coma by the end of the day, but it will be worth it.

Sweet. Iced. Tea. Sweet mother of God I want some so bad.

Sweet. Iced. Tea. Sweet mother of God I want some so bad.

Now, although IHOP has, in the past, been a place I’ve only gone at a time of night when the only other option is Taco Bell…I would make a proper breakfast out of this. You would think that a carb-filled meal like this would take all day to recover from…but I’ve got more planned.

Lunch: Moving on to the meal that is usually just a time to have something to tide you over between the actually important meals of the day, but this one will be epic. For lunch on my perfect cheat day, I’m craving some Mexican food (because there is NONE in London. Indian food is delicious, but does not equate to a replacement). Now I could really go to any Mexican restaurant (there are probably 20 in my small town…30 if you count taco trucks that come round gas stations), but I can’t get Rosa’s out of my head.

Rosa's: glorious Texas tradition of in house tortilla making and all around deliciousness

Rosa’s: glorious Texas tradition of in house tortilla making and all around deliciousness

Rosa’s is a ‘tortilla factory’…they make the tortillas in house. So they’re guaranteed to be delicious. My lunch is going to consist of one of every kind of taco. That means beef, chicken, brisket, soft and crunchy.

I want one of every kind of taco

I want one of every kind of taco

I’m also gonna need some Mexican rice, refried beans and let’s go with 3 orders of guacamole because I’m gonna smother that glorious green manna on everything. If I run out of things to put it on, I will eat it with a spoon. I like guacamole.

I could eat this with a spoon.

I could eat this with a spoon.

But of course I can’t forget a fish bowl margarita…not sure if they have these at Rosa’s, but I’m going to need one. Once you’ve had tacos and margaritas, they cannot be consumed separately. But obviously, I’ve now had a taste of sweet tea for the first time in about a year, and so I’m gonna have one of those as well. Probably just a pitcher with a straw in it.

I am no stranger to the fishbowl margaritas

I am no stranger to the fishbowl margaritas

Dinner: After allowing for a semi-adequate amount of time to digest, let’s move on to dinner. Any trip to Texas would not be complete without barbeque. I’m quite picky about barbeque; Tuscaloosa was meant to be the best place for barbeque in Alabama, but I never found anything worth that title. Texas barbeque is where it’s at. I want to go to a place where my meal is served to me by a man who looks like this…

The only barbeque places worth going to are the ones where a man who looks like this serves your food.

The only barbeque places worth going to are the ones where a man who looks like this serves your food.

And where this is the menu…

...And where this is the menu. Point and it shall be yours.

Point and it shall be yours.

And that means Hard Eight Barbeque.

hard8

My dinner is going to consist of brisket and sausage. And lots of it. Oh, with a side of bacon wrapped jalapenos. Let’s add on an ice cold beer. And some more sweet tea. And then finish it off with some peach cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream.

Peach cobbler and blue bell ice cream: a match made in heaven

Peach cobbler and blue bell ice cream: a match made in Texas heaven

And that is my perfect American/Southern/Texan cheat day. If you are in a location where you are able to go and get any of those things right now, I envy you. Because my stomach is grumbling.

What would your perfect cheat day consist of? Leave me a comment below!

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Overachiever

I have always worked well under pressure and with a schedule that might seem impossible to most. I assume that many people who pursue higher education are somewhat similar in that way (either that or they are a bit masochistic…which I have also been accused of in the past). 

It makes sense then, that as soon as my last round of written exams concludes, I quickly (almost compulsively…) filled my schedule once again. 

After weeks of literally constant studying for the biggest and hardest exam of my life, (I mean this truly, I have never tried so hard to learn anything in my entire life, and I do not make a habit of choosing easy courses), I went into a slightly manic state. I was simply ecstatic about all of the free time I now have!! My body couldn’t cope with the lack of stress that it has worked so hard to cope with in the past month…6 months…I’ve pretty much been a ball of stress since undergrad. Regardless, I was up all night…making to-do lists (partly because my body has become used to being up all night stressing and quizzing myself about neuroscience).

Even though I don’t have to study for exams anymore, I still have a few essays to write for classes. For my own sanity I postponed even reading essay prompts until…well I haven’t yet. But my exams just finished on Monday!! Not only do I have essays to write, but I am about to commence research for my thesis, for which I will be the main point of reference for four universities across the globe who are participating in the study and ensuing research. And then there’s my upcoming clinical placement which will involve working in an addiction centre for a couple of weeks.

As if that were not enough, I have volunteered for an academic help desk for, of all things, statistics! (Not exactly my favourite area) But I figured hey, a couple of hours a week? Doable. 

Then I was asked to participate in a study on said help desk, as it is somewhat of a pilot within the university. Alright, sure. Run a few focus groups? I can handle it. 

BUT THEN I was offered the job of coordinator for this research project, which I obviously accepted because helloooo resume booster!! …phew ok my plate is rapidly filling up. 

Just add on top of that continued search for a job within the field, and shopping around for PhD programmes and scholarships.

Oh wait! Not done yet!!

A combination of my manic state and the encouragement of my friends led me to sign up for my first 10k…and so I will now be training for that in addition to my normal weight lifting schedule. So obviously in preparation for this stepping up of my fitness game, I am planning on limiting my sugar intake…more than it already is (keep in mind, I say this as I’m eating from a box of Cadbury Flakes…Easter candy got to me). 

A few more little extracurriculars…

My boyfriend and I have been taking evening Portuguese classes for the past 7 months (2 terms), which we’ve decided to stop over the summer, aka until we have dual incomes, to pick it back up. But we don’t want to totally stop. And so we’re going to try to maintain a weekly home practice on the usual night we had classes. That’s right…add self-taught Portuguese to the list!!!

There’s also the vast list of mostly addiction-related books that I have to read (I always have a list of books to read…), and keeping up with this blog, which is really my only creative outlet at the moment. And social life? I’m not sure if I remember what that’s all about-so is the life of a grad student who is both money and time poor!

I partially blame this compulsive overloading on London weather. Because of course, during the last week of the month that I was held captive within the four walls of my flat by ‘Addiction Biology’, the weather was gorgeous! It was spring weather. Very un-London-like. I was daydreaming of spending days in the park, lounging about, people watching and flipping through magazines. But as it happens, some dark magic took us back in time to winter and it is once again bitterly cold and grey (I may be over exaggerating with “bitterly cold”, but I’m quite aggravated about it). This squashed my dreams of spending time outside. And so now I am committed to being inside (except for the hour or so every other day that I will be happily jogging for about 3k, and crawling for about 7). I am going to be so pasty white this summer…which will be a first. 

I worked at a tanning salon throughout undergrad. Here's me at my tannest (keep in mind it's mostly spray tan!) circa 2011

I worked at a tanning salon throughout undergrad. Here’s me at my tannest (keep in mind it’s mostly spray tan!) circa 2011

It’s a good thing that I work well with a busy schedule, and that I’m starting to accept being practically a mole woman who can barely make excursions to the outside world. And bonus! This means an opportunity to satiate my need for tiny notebooks! I’m about to start a fresh list book, and I’ve got 2 agendas going to minutely schedule my days to be able to fit everything in!

Wish me luck!! And here’s some other overachievers who I can relate to…

Dwight Schrute

Dwight Schrute

Good old Frank Underwood

Good old Frank Underwood

America's sweetheart: Leslie Knope

America’s sweetheart: Leslie Knope

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

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Two Years

2 years is not really a lot of time; a short blip in the troubleshooting session of life. But a lot of things can happen in 2 years, especially when you combine two people who make things happen.

In 2 years, I have completed my undergraduate thesis and presented it at a conference, I graduated from college, quit my job of 3 years, moved away from my home for 4 years,  decided I didn’t want to go to graduate school, then changed my mind and applied to graduate schools anyways, got rejected and accepted to graduate schools, chose the best of the best, planned the biggest most seemingly impossible move ever, moved mountains to fund yet another educational endeavour, I sold my first (and only) car, and everything else that I owned, and moved across the ocean to live in one of the biggest cities of the world, with my boyfriend who has in the past 2 years also graduated college, had his first real world job, sold his car, moved away from his home of nearly 6 years.

We skipped all of the baby steps. We were in a long distance relationship for a year and a half. And then we moved to London together. No trial period of living in the same city, or staying in a place that was familiar.

Before I moved here, people told me that living together would be the ‘make or break’. But I really wasn’t worried.

We are about as opposite as opposites can be. He is sports, I am arts. He is messy, I am organized. He sees the forest, I see the trees. He’s grunge, I’m acoustic. He wants the volume louder, I want it quieter. He’s 6’5 to my 5’4. He’s beer, I’m wine (although we’re both making great strides in either direction). He can pack supplies for an entire vacation in a backpack, I require a pack mule.  He couldn’t care less what other people think, I probably care too much. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, I finger painted with Popsicle sticks in preschool and not much has changed since. He tells the dad jokes, I roll the eyes. I study to get 110%, he aims for 80%. He is a declared atheist, I am a spiritualist on a journey. He sees the compassion in the world, when I too readily assume animosity. He’s the yin to my yang. If there’s a possibility of adventure, one of us is certain to suggest while the other is certain to accept, which is pretty much how we got to where we are now.

We are both fiercely independent people who have decided to be together and strive to do everything we want to in life, and to support the other wholly. We learn something from each other everyday and show the other a different view of the same world.

That’s love.

The past 2 years have been a wild ride. I have no idea where we’ll be for our third year, but I can’t wait to find out.

Woman Flu

The amount of sick I have been this week is inversely proportional to the variety of cold medicines offered in London shoppes.

That is, I am very sick, and across the whole city, London shoppes offer exactly 2 brands of cold medicine which, at this point, I am convinced are just empty plastic capsules (the night-time ones are definitely empty; I know that the day-time ones contain at least caffeine because they keep me awake during the day-despite my best efforts).

Also, I miss Wal-Mart. That holy ground of American variety. And I would be willing to pay someone to smuggle me in some NyQuil across the border.

I don’t understand why my body continues to rebel against me. Thanks to my handy dandy blog posts (or lack thereof), I have a general record of how many times I have been sick since moving here. The tally is 5 times since classes began in October. Because March has just begun, I don’t count it.  And so that’s a total of at least once a month for five months; although I’ve been in general good health since 2015 began, a couple of my illnesses prior to Christmas happened a blissful week apart from each other.

I treat my body so nicely. I give it tons of fruits and veggies and never eat anything that comes in an airtight package. I wash my hands constantly. I exercise and meditate on most days. Why is it not nice to me?

My boyfriend’s theory is that I’m too nice. If I were to dirty it up every once in a while, you know, be dangerous and not wash my hands before cooking, my immune system would get stronger. I can’t even pretend that that’s going to happen.

This whole illness (the full list of symptoms of which I will not go into here) is not made any better by my normally very sweet boyfriend being terrified of sitting next to me because he knows he’s going to get sick next. I can’t say that I blame him. This specific bout of plague hit me like a brick wall. I didn’t even have half a day of warning before it hit full steam. And it has reduced me to tears multiple times in the three days that I have been suffering. But still, a hug or a pat on the shoulder would be nice.

I like to think that I am usually strong against illness (this might not be the reality). However, I’m fairly certain that this scourge is a mutant of a different caliber. Because it was able to knock me on my ass as hard as it did, I deem it ‘Woman Flu’.

Some people experience sickness more in the mornings. It’s usually nighttime that’s worse for me. Especially because the night-time cold medicine capsules put me out for exactly 90 minutes. After which, I am up for hours. Unable to breathe. Contemplating life, and trying to move millimetre by millimetre to test the waters for my nasal passage to open up enough for me to breathe. I usually decide, ‘f&*% it, I’ll just breathe with my mouth open and deal with the consequences when I undoubtedly wake up in an hour’. When sleep still doesn’t come, I resign myself to sleep the whole next day.

But that didn’t happen!

Because my lovely upstairs neighbours (I say lovely with only a bit of sarcasm because they did win me over by offering a tray of very nice chocolates in preparation for this construction) are having both their kitchen and bathroom (right above our bedroom) completely gutted and redone. Fabulous timing! That means sawing, hammering and yelling from 8:30-5. No rest for me.

But the Woman Flu seems to be at the back end (knock on wood). Stay tuned for the Man Version, probably appearing in 12-24 hours.

Eye on the Prize

Eye on the Prize

I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life.

Aaaaaaaand I’m stressing out about it. I have tried to tell myself that no one really knows what they’re doing, but it does not make my situation any less stressful. I function much better if I know what my next step is. I am practically a to-do list addict (but that’s a different post). I don’t have a 5-year plan per se, but I do aim for at least a 6-month plan.

But I’ve got nothin’.

At this point, my main focus (besides doing well in school, which is priority numero uno) is trying to find a job or volunteer opportunity in the mental health field. You would think that in a huge city like London these opportunities would be easy to come by. But you would be wrong. All jobs posted are for full-time positions, which due to school and my visa restrictions, I cannot do. Or I can work for free…except that I like to eat food sometimes and unfortunately money is required for that.

And so what am I going to do next year after I graduate…with no connections or real experience? No clue. I could apply to a PhD programme and devote 3+ years of my life to something that I hopefully am willing to spend 3+ years on…which would require actual PhD programme shopping (not really the kind of shopping I would like to do in my very limited spare time…) I could apply to every research assistant position in the city and know full well that the good universities get upwards of 150 applications for each posting. I could try for an internship and hope that I can find one that pays so that I don’t have to work on top of that and could maybe see my boyfriend for more than a couple of hours each evening, maybe. I could accept defeat and go back to the States (only to go through the same struggles there).

But no! I will steadfastly stick to my resolution: Don’t Get Deported in 2015!! (Sorry, mom.)

I am an eye on the prize kinda girl, I am easily motivated by goals. My goal here seems so ambiguous. I feel like I can’t see it through the piles of scientific articles that I am wayyyy behind on reading…

And so I guess I’m just going to continue doin’ what I’m doin’ (procrastinating and playing Candy Crush). No. I shouldn’t do that. Oh but a nap sounds so tempting…

See what I mean?! Not having a goal is really messing with my normally ambitious self!

Meanwhile, I’ve started watching House of Cards (and I am obsessed), which is making me feel like I’m slacking off in every aspect of life. Those people don’t sleep! How?? I wish I didn’t need to sleep. But I do. I enjoy sleep. Sleeping and eating…these things are really holding me back in life.

Ugh. Is anyone else experiencing the quintessential 20-something crisis of not knowing what they want to be when they grow up? Please tell me it’s a 20-something thing. When do you figure out what to do with your life??

I’m waiting for a flashing neon sign.