The truth about being a chronically late person…

…is that you’re always hoping for a miracle.

I’m not talking like John Green’s Paper Towns, where Quentin believes Margo is his one miracle in life. I’m talking, “crap-I-left-10-minutes-later-than-I-meant-to-why-I-am-surprised-by-that-oh-here’s-hoping-I-still-get-to-work-on-time” kind of miracle.
I will say, though, that I’ve had several trips to Target/CVS/Safeway/ etc that were exactly like the Paper Towns’ characters’ speedy trips to gas stations, except with one crucial difference: my trips were speedy because I was making them before class when I really didn’t have time.

As a chronically late person, I’m constantly hoping for some kind of time miracle where I miraculously get to work five minutes early, even though I left 10 minutes late. I’m constantly hoping that some kind of time warp thing will happen and I’ll get to my class with plenty of time to spare to leisurely look over my class notes for the day, or write on the chalkboard. I’m constantly hoping that time will play its tricks, as time does, and I’ll be able to walk to class at a normal pace instead of an awkward mix of speed walking and hopping.
As a reminder, this awkward mix of speed walking and hopping is exactly how I fractured my leg this past February. While walking to my first class. While (sort of) late. I’m definitely doing this to myself.

As I constantly route and reroute my travel to and from work, looking for the quickest and easiest drive that day, I’ve begun to realize something: as a 28-year-old adult, I still don’t understand how time works. I’ll usually set a goal leaving time and, even though I know I have to be out the door in thirty minutes, or 45 minutes, or whatever, I lie to myself about the time. I let myself eat lunch slowly, or prep dinner for that night, or try to finish grading a paper, forgetting that a leaving time of 1:20 means out the door by 1:20, not “oh crap, it’s 1:20, let me run around the apartment like an idiot to collect my stuff so I can leave.” I’m usually out the door five to ten minutes after my goal leaving time. Three on a lucky day.

Then, because this has happened before (not a lot), I hope for a time miracle as I drive to work. I hold out hope that ten extra minutes will pop up somewhere, forgetting that all of this is contingent on traffic, other cars, and other people in general. Which all points to one very simple thing:

I’ve got to slow down.

Even though I can lollygag with the best of them, I usually jampack my day with to-do lists. I really try to prioritize the to-do lists but, on some days, I have a hard time keeping an order straight and try to accomplish several things at once. This morning, I let bleach soak in my shower while I vacuumed and checked my email. I’m often on my phone (even if it’s just Instagram or WWF) during a movie or TV show, trying to get two things done at once. I multi-task and try to soak every second out of every hour to make sure I’m not wasting time.

And then I drive to school like an idiot, hoping that extra time will appear.

Anyone struggle with the same problem? Do you have suggestions on better time management? I’m not talking like “lay out your outfit the night before” or “just leave earlier, dummy.” Like, for real advice on looking at time realistically and not Katherine-ally.

Using planners and to-do lists has started to organize my mind a little and help me manage my time in a more realistic way. I’ve loved Erin Condren planners for YEARS, even though they’re a bit pricey. The “get it done” zebra notepad is a new purchase and I LOVE IT. Every time I look at it, I chuckle at the little zebra essentially telling me to get my shit together. 

Rifle Paper Co. // Erin Condren 

 

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Turning the “when” into “if”

I’ve always been sort of a high strung person. While I’m not as vocally expressive as others–i.e., I don’t like to make waves–I definitely need a schedule to function, even if it’s a loose one. When I wake up in the morning, I like to know what I have planned for the day and what I need to do. I’m a list maker, and I love crossing items off my to-do list. Nothing bothers me more than a neglected to-do list (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I mean), because then I feel super unproductive–even if I actually got a lot done, or did something enjoyable with my day.

Another way of describing this part of my personality can be best expressed through Lorelai Gilmore. fb3e2850-bb5b-0131-4878-6e98995d6e3eWe’re totes twins, as 95% of other fans of the show claim.

I say all of this to prepare for the rest of the post. Even though I’m high strung, I never really considered myself an anxious person. Sure, I would get nervous if I realized I forgot to lock the car door, or if I realized I put my laundry on the wrong setting. Minute things. But as far as overwhelming, mind-controlling anxiety, I didn’t really struggle with. Until this year.

A few things happened that contributed to my heightened anxiety. For the first time ever, I was ONLY working, which was an adjustment period, even if I was excited. Last year, I moved to a new place, which (again) is exciting, but it was further away from my friends in the area. But the tipping point was when I fell in February and fractured my ankle.

I consider myself a pretty well-adjusted person, so when I realized the leg I had been walking on for two weeks was fractured, not sprained (thanks, first doctor), I took the news in stride. I understood what it meant, and I was able to acknowledge the next steps necessary for recovery. This didn’t stop me from breaking down in tears in Perkins with my parents, or having fears of never walking again (my brain went nuts), or any number of irrational fantasies. Luckily, my mom came to MD with me and was able to help me get around, which helped tone down many of my irrational fears. I was doing OK, until…

I visited the ortho for a check-up, told him about a pain in my leg, got an ultrasound, and ended up in the ER because of a blood clot. Let me tell you, guys–I have not cried that hard in months. I was literally breaking down in the waiting room because I literally couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. A blood clot? What? This was something I had never worried about in my life, ever, and suddenly I was sitting in the ER because of one, listening to doctors tell me about blood thinner medications, and getting CAT scans to make sure my lungs were clot free.

Even though I didn’t express it this way at the time, I can understand now what happened. Something I had never worried about was suddenly consuming my  life. What other things that I’ve never worried about could pop up next? What did I need to prepare myself for?

And then, like knocking over a witch’s cauldron (bad metaphor, let’s just move past it), my brain was FLOODED with anxieties and worries. I spent hours reading online forums about DVTs (blood clots). I cried on the phone to Rahul, to my mom when she flew back up to stay with me (because she’s awesome). I would have to stop grading to have intense thinking sessions about what the DVT meant and what the blood thinner was doing in my body. I put off taking Xarelto by one day because there was no antidote if I ever started bleeding a lot and only felt mildly okay taking it after talking to Rahul, Rahul’s dad (both doctors), and hearing advice via my mom through my aunt and uncle, who are both nurses. In the midst of freaking out about what was going on in my body, I fed the anxiety monster that had taken over my mind with several full meals many times a day. I let the anxiety win. Suddenly, I was imagining what would happen if I happened to cut myself cooking, or if I got in a car accident, or if someone mugged me on the street. Bad circumstances at any point, sure, but a thousand times worse while on a blood thinner.

I just finished my course of medication, and I’ve moved away a bit from the initial panicking. I have my follow-up appointment this week, and will probably get another ultrasound image to check in on the clot, even though it’s not required. If the xarelto did its job, my body should be clot free. Since receiving the initial news, I’ve done certain things to help my anxiety: I stopped reading medical forums. I (tried) to stop overwhelming conversations with friends about the medicine, because I was only doing it to make myself feel better (again, feeding the anxiety monster). Rahul has helped a lot, because he won’t engage in conversations that are purely motivated by my anxiety. What he’s doing, and what every person who struggles with anxiety needs, is providing support through not engaging my anxious self. Anxiety often pushes you to place certain needs, thoughts, etc, over others, and most of the time, they’re irrational fears, or things not related to the present. Also, for any person who has ever read up on anxiety, you know it’s often future-focused. Most anxiety is stoked by concerns about future problems, not present realities.

Through all this, one thing has stuck with me. One thing that reared its ugly head when I became convinced that I would majorly injure myself while taking the blood thinner; that popped up the other day when I became convinced I had appendicitis; that shows up every night when I check my locked door: the WHEN. Lately, my thoughts have been consumed by not “if” something happens, but “when” it will happen. And through all of it, I’m amazed by the powerful hold anxiety has on the mind, because it’s all mind-related. The minute appendicitis pops in my mind, it becomes “WHEN I get this.” WHEN I get into a car accident on 495. WHEN my apartment catches on fire. WHEN the blood clot lets go and travels. WHEN I fall while running and break another bone. Some are based on some level of reality–i.e., the blood clot concern. But most of them are severely irrational, and only cause my anxiety to increase by the thousands.

I know anxiety is mind over matter. It’s controlling your emotions, it’s refusing to feed the monster. But, you guys, it’s hard. It’s hard when it’s so simple to feed that monster just a little bit, just a bite. But it never works that way. It’s like opening a bag of salt & vinegar kettle chips: once you have one, you have to have 25 more. Anyone that struggles with anxiety knows what I’m talking about, and how unhealthy this is. Also, anyone that struggles with anxiety understands the upsetting confliction of being able to understand what’s going on in your mind, and understand what you need to do to stop it, but not being able force yourself to take the leap.

Instead of leaps, it’s much easier to start with baby steps.


I really like this quote from the clip: “All I have to do is take one little step at a time and I can do anything.”

In the baby steps I’ve taken since receiving the blood clot news, I’ve been able to, for the most part, successfully squelch my need to do certain things, like look up medical advice online, or talk about my health problems with everyone under the sun. Amazingly, once a few days pass without doing the thing, the desire passes. It alleviates. Of course, I could reignite it by one simple Google search, but now I’m removed enough to tell myself I have the option NOT to do so, and I feel okay about it. Also, I think about it this way: how easy it is to strike a match, start a fire, but how hard it is to put one out. The same applies for feeding my anxiety, and I’m slowly, slowly (baby steps!) choosing not to do so.

The big thing I’m working on right now is changing the when back to if. I’m reminding myself that just because it happened with a blood clot doesn’t mean it will happen with everything. The terrible part about the blood clot was how blindsided I was: suddenly, I was in the hospital, learning about blood thinners, hemoglobin tests, staying away from sports and heavy drinking; all these things that were literally so far from my radar the day before. I was scared, most of all by how unaware I had been. I’m trying to remind myself that that isn’t the case with everything. Just because I was blindsided by this doesn’t mean the rest of my life will be terrible. This one incident doesn’t mean my life will become a series of “whens.”
Plus, I’ve made a deal with God, or whoever is listening, that the first half of this year can suck, and that first half ends tomorrow on June 30. I would really like the second half of this year to be awesome. So, a deal is a deal. 

 

Looking Back at my 25 Year Old Goals as a 28 Year Old

For the past little while, I’ve noticed that a blog post from 2012, 25 Life Goals from a 25 Year Old, has been getting a lot of viewership. I don’t know the reason for this, because I also don’t fully understand how the internet works. Either way, I thought I’d revisit these goals, written a little over three years ago, to see which ones I’m sticking to, which ones I think are completely bonkers (or don’t make sense), and any new goals I have.

Reading a three-year old post was delightful and entertaining. These goals are definitely the ones of a young, optimistic person. There’s nothing wrong with them, but many of them seem a little too hippy-dippy for my current state. Some also seem crafted and written specifically for a blog post, instead of realistic, true goals. Again, nothing wrong with that, but if I had written this today, I would have surely used different language.

Something I’ve realized in the three years since I turned 25 is that life is magical and ever-evolving. After turning 25, I experienced a life crisis of sorts. In college, 25 seemed so old. I expected to have everything figured out by 25 and that I would basically be a billionaire living on the ocean in an exotic country or something. Since turning 25, I’ve adjusted my worldview and come to understand that life is often a slow burn (in a good way) and that things take time. Also, I’ve realized that age is just a number. Sure, there are certain things that I should be doing by 28–like saying thank you, or doing things I want to do, and a handful of other things on this list–but most of these are just general being-a-decent-person life goals. I set these goals at 25 as a reminder to myself to take ownership of my life, and that mindset is still just as prevalent today. So, in a way, they’re life goals from my 25-year-old self that I can stick to and adapt and mold for as long as I want.

New Goals:

1. Find ways to work on my anxiety. I’ve developed a lot of anxiety over the past year (thanks, fractured leg), and I’m trying to find ways to reign it in.

2. Get out of my apartment and stop wasting time. I waste so much time, especially when school is out for the summer.

3. Never get tired of my surroundings. DC is a great city, and I never want to feel like I’m just “tolerating” it.

4. Don’t underestimate or undervalue myself. I’ve had a revelation of sorts lately where I realized the reason why I hardly ever spoke in any of my classes as a student was because I was underestimating myself, not the other way around. I’m learning to value my voice more, as well as my own opinion, and finding ways to more thoughtfully engage in conversations.

5. Write write write write write!!!

The Original List: 

1. Write thank you cards. Say thank you.
I’ve done okay on this one. I usually remember to send thank you cards, and try to always say thank you when I feel genuinely thankful for someone’s help, advice, you name it. 

2. Take a moment to calm down when overly emotional. Re-consider your thoughts.
Eh. What can I say? It’s that quarter-Italian in me. My brain has this funny way of going into overdrive when I have something interesting to say, or I’m trying to make it point, and takes over my calm, rational side. 

3. Never make decisions when you’re emotional.
Again, I’ve done so-so on this one. I’m pretty impulsive by nature and when I realize I need to do something, I want to do it RIGHT AWAY! But, I have gotten more practical about my decision making, usually allowing things to sit before completely deciding. 

4. Read books for pleasure.
Yes! It’s a slow process, but I have done this one. When I made this goal, I was in the middle of my first year of my MFA, which required a total of 20 books per semester for the lit classes I was taking. Ah! The back-to-back reading turned me into a very, very slow reader, as I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything potentially important while reading. Let me tell you, that’s not a fun way to read. I’ve been working on bouncing back from that. I have little time to read during the school year because I’m up to my ears in papers to grade, but I’ve managed to read The Secret HistoryThe Girl on the Train, and Station Eleven, and I loved all of them. Just finished Everything I Never Told You, which was amazing. AH-MAZE-ING. This book will stick with me for a while. Do yourself a favor and add it to your reading list now. 

5. Open your windows. Go outside.
This one seems kind of silly, but I am trying to do this instead of lounging on my couch all day…which has happened a lot, unfortunately. BUT I’m finally running outside again, post-leg injury (knock on wood). I also take advantage of the apartment’s pool, as well as walking to the grocery store instead of driving. Even though it’s blazing hot, it’s nice to get outside. Plus, I have huge windows which make my apartment feel luxurious. 

6. Stop making excuses.
Eh. I’ve gotten better at this, but I still come up with the excuses in my mind, even if I don’t use them. Since I’m sort of anxious/shy by nature, I’ll often think of reasons not to do something, even if it’s just meeting friends for a drink. BUT I will say that I didn’t use my broken leg as an excuse to not grade my classes, other than for the day I was actually in the hospital. 

7. Allow yourself to have free time, even if it’s 10 minutes of coffee in the morning, 2 minutes to play Scramble with Friends, or a date with your boyfriend to watch Titanic. Don’t laugh—Rahul and I totally did this the other night.
Free time is my best friend. I probably take too much advantage of it. How else am I going to watch all of my favorite TV shows constantly? 

8. Celebrate something at least once a day, if not more.
This is hard to track. I am trying to get better about focusing on things I DO do during the day–cue Chandler Bing–instead of things I haven’t done. Doing this helps cut my anxiety and also helps me enjoy my days a little more. 

9. Catch up with a different friend once a week.
THIS IS SO HARD and I’m also really bad at it. I’m the queen of texting, but suck at phone calls. I’ve kept up with friends, but it’s more sporadic than scheduled, which is actually fine with me. 

10. Keep your attitude in check, always. Be intentional in what you say.
I’m good about this when talking with my students, but sometimes bad when talking to friends or family. Working on it! 

11.Listen to others. Take notes. Remember.
Again, another one that is so-so. I definitely haven’t taken notes (come on, 25 year old Katherine), but I do try to be a conscious, observant listener. 

12. Don’t be scared of confrontation, when necessary.
Hmm. If I was making this last now, I would change it to “Don’t be scared to hold your ground.” I definitely struggle with this in my teaching–at my core, I want to help each student be their best, but I’ve had to acknowledge and understand that it sometimes just doesn’t work that way. 

13. When you make a mistake, never, ever blame it on someone else.
I’m pretty good at this. I had a teacher in college that would never take the blame for mistakes he made (i.e., we would put something in the newspaper because he said we could, and then go back on his word, etc), so I vowed to never be like this because it’s so disrespectful and wishy-washy. 

14. Laugh at yourself.
Um, yeah. All the time. 

15. Do things YOU want to do.
Also all the time. Stay tuned for my coffee shop series to see an example of this!

16. Don’t say sorry when it’s not your fault, and do say sorry when it is.
This is a hard one, especially since I say sorry all the time for stupid reasons. 

17. Engage.
What? As in get engaged? Okay, yeah, I did that. : ) 

18. Talk to strangers, or someone you wish to get to know better.
HAHA! I’m definitely the type to have few, close friends, instead of a 1,000 friends. Of those people, I try to ENGAGE and get to know them better. I definitely don’t talk to strangers. This was definitely written by optimistic Katherine. 

19. Do things that remind you of what you love in the world.
I really try to stick to this, especially living near such an awesome city! Since writing this blog, I’ve traveled to some beautiful places (India, Paris, London, New Orleans, Provincetown, just to name a few), which definitely reminds me what I love in this world. Visiting and doing things in DC allows me to take advantage and enjoy a city I love, even if it’s just driving to the Trader Joe’s on U Street. 

20. Try new things. My recent fascination: baking and cake decorating. Sorry, Mary Beth, but I’m probably going to ask to use your kitchen a lot this summer.
Mary Beth, do you remember if this happened? I don’t know. BUT I did get into a serious baking frenzy after moving to my new apartment. My masterpiece is banana chocolate chip bread. 

21. Don’t bullshit. Ever.
I’m pretty good with this, but this is also so broad. Don’t bullshit about what? I’m not sure what I was thinking here. 

22. Embrace who you are, even if you sometimes don’t like who you are.
OH BOY. I’ve had some ups and downs in the past three years. I’ve had many moments where I didn’t like myself, and many moments where I did. However, I think that’s natural for most people. Regardless, I am working on embracing the parts of me that are inherent, and changing the things I can change. 

23. Tell people what you think of them at every chance you get, whether it’s “You’re a rockstar” or “I appreciate you” or “You inspire me” or “I love you.”
I do try to do this! If it’s my students, I let them know when they’ve done good work. I tell my family and Rahul how much they mean to me and how much I love them constantly (so they don’t forget, haha). When someone helps me out, I try to say thank you or that I’m appreciative. 

24. Don’t waste a day with a bad mood. Find things to cheer you up.
I wish I knew what this video was, but the account has been deleted! oops. But I do try to do this, although when I get in a REALLY bad mood, it’s hard for me to come out. Usually it’s because I’m freakin’ stubborn and want to sulk. 

25. Love.
Yes! 

And an extra one because I have problems with limits (even when they’re my own):

Don’t complain about things you can control. This is a MAJOR one to remember for me as of late.
OH MY GOSH, I still struggle with this SO MUCH. The kid taking too much time at the water fountain, the traffic on the way to school, you name it. I’ve really tried to work on these things and let these complaints go, because, when I do, I feel lighter and happier. But sometimes I just want to be mad at the world. 

Life’s Random Moments

For a long, long time, I’ve been amazed at how seemingly random life can be while also fitting together like a puzzle. What do I mean by this? Some examples: you randomly recall a scene from a movie you haven’t seen in a while, only to find it on TV later that day. A friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months pops into your mind, only to be followed by a text message or email from them soon after. While cleaning the apartment, you stumble upon a folder of random documents, only to realize you need one of the next day. See what I mean?

So yesterday when I filled my ice trays because I knew I would be making a smoothie this morning, I didn’t think anything other than “I like ice in my smoothies.” This morning, I made a banana blueberry smoothie (which was DELICIOUS, I loosely followed this recipe) and went on to my merry way to work. I was running late, of course (if you’ve been reading, you know this is a CHRONIC problem of mine), so when I parked I had just the right amount of time to get to my class.
Side note here: For the past few months, I’ve been parking at my old boss’s house near the campus. It’s free street parking, and it’s only a 10-minute walk through the woods to my classroom.
I quickly walked through the neighborhood to get to the trail through the woods. On the downhill slope to the trail, I slipped once on the pavement–for some reason, my favorite boots are very slippy when on pavement. Good combo, right? I caught myself and was just thinking “thank God I caught myself” when BOOM, I slipped again and I found myself, suddenly, on the ground.

Now, last time I fell like this, I was running through Rock Creek Park, and I had a moment of “what the hell is going on here?” This time, all I felt was pain. My left leg was screaming out in pain and I sat there for a few moments, holding my knee, simultaneously urging the pain to subside while also thinking “my class starts in 7 minutes.” Even though it hurt to move, I picked myself back up, drove to class paid for parking (there was no way I was gonna make it through the woods on my left leg) and taught my two classes.

I know. I’m a champ.

In reality, I taught my classes, but my brain was fuzzy. The immediate pain was so sharp, I thought I was going to throw up. I’ve never had a serious sports injury, so I had really no idea what to do. In class, I was in pain and distracted, and struggled remembering the names of my students. One of them gave me an ice pack, which was incredibly nice, and another offered to help me walk to the health center. So, even though I was having a real off day, they seemed to look past that and amaze me with their kindness.

Flash forward to the health center (after my awesome friend, Steve, met me at my class to drive me to the health center), where I realized in the waiting room the TRUE IRONY of the fact that I had just filled my ice trays the night before I sustained an injury that is best healed with compression, elevation, and ICE. I literally never have ice in my trays. Granted, I have frozen veggies, which work just the same, but I found myself laughing, thinking about this. Again, it’s life taking a bunch of random moments and showing how they all fit together in one, neat puzzle.
Most of the time.

I’m hoping the ankle (which is sprained) will heal soon-ish because I just started training for the Cherry Blossom 10Miler and I’m only 15 days into my 30 Days of yoga. : ( I always have a hard time not getting back on my feet when I hurt myself in any way, but Rahul is great about reminding me to care for my body now, instead of paying for it later (in the form of worse injuries).

SPEAKING OF RAHUL, today is our six-month engagement anniversary!!!! I can’t believe it has been six months! We’ve enjoyed the early stages, which were mostly filled with relaxation and enjoyment, but the next 6 months will definitely be more wedding-focused! We have our caterer, so another step down! I’m so looking forward to our slowly approaching wedding, and to marry Rahul, who puts up with everything from wedding freak-outs to ankle injury whining. He seriously is the best person ever.

February Resolutions

It’s almost February! Which means a month has passed since most new year resolutions were made, but who cares. Any time of the year can be resolution time!

That being said, I’ve been taking stock of my life lately and there’s a few things I’ve noticed:

  • I still can’t leave on time to get anywhere.
  • It takes me a lot longer to do simple things then I would like, which results in frustration.
  • How does one organize his or her life!?!?!

So let me back up. School just started this week, which is great because it helps me organize my schedule. There are places I have to be at  certain times and things I have to do, otherwise the students learn no good English. I like the teacher schedule, because it’s firm while also giving you a lot of freedom during the rest of the day. This freedom, while positive because it allows time for things like grading and lesson planning, can also be a tricky bastard. For instance: “Oh, I have a free afternoon? Time to catch up on all my TV shows!” “Oh, I have an ENTIRE DAY free? Time to do all those useless things that don’t matter, like online shop, look at Pinterest, and play the smash game on my phone!”

I say all of this because I’ve realized, lately, that while I have strong organizational skills in planning a schedule, grading a paper (usually), and following a syllabus, I suck at organizing the rest of my life. With such a free schedule, I don’t feel the push many full-time employees do to enjoy their favorite things when they can: like reading a good book, going for a run, doing a yoga class, looking up cute cats on the internet, writing the next great American novel, etc etc. I have many more free hours during the day, which gives the allusion of FREE TIME. However, a lot of that free time is consumed by grading and, because of that, I’ve been relying on the excuse “I don’t have time for this” for far too long.

Last semester, I hardly read any books, I didn’t write (for myself) at all, and I stopped running. The only thing I did with any regularity was a weekly yoga class. Other than that, I relied on my “I don’t have time” excuse to not do the things I enjoyed when, really, I DO have time. It’s just finding out how to organize it.

All that being said, my goal this semester is to make time for those little things that I enjoy, and that make me happy, while also getting my work done. I started reading for pleasure at least 30 minutes every morning (I’m reading The Secret History and, holy shit, is that book good). I’m challenging myself to do 30 days of yoga. Next week, I start training for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I’m also pushing myself to organize my time better, so that instead of thinking of the million things I need to do (ranging from grading a paper to responding to a friend’s email) and getting overwhelmed because I want to do them all at once, I categorize by importance and immediacy and move from there. I’m hoping this will make my time feel more productive and valuable, and not like a huge mess where I’m doing a lot of stuff without really feeling accomplished.

The last thing on my list, though, is that darn “being on time” thing. I’ve been on time, but it just means me practically running to class. Plus, it’s not like I’m not ready, or get up on time: I just doddle and can’t stick to a schedule. How do you guys do it!? I NEED YOUR HELP!
Side note: I’m glad that I will only have ONE dress option on my wedding day, as the clothing choice tends to be a big part of the problem, even when I picked out my outfit the night before…

When did I become the Late Girl?

This may come as a shock to friends and co-workers of the past 2-3 years, but I used to be extremely punctual.
OK, now that I’ve given you enough time to get your laughter out of the way, I’ll continue.

I was raised by one parent who is punctual to a fault–I’m talking punctual as in we leave 30 minutes before a showtime for a movie theater that is five minutes away–and one parent who is well-practiced at navigating traffic to have us arrive usually right on time, if not a few minutes late. To continue the movie theater analogy, this parent typically shows up 10 minutes after the movie has started. Together, you have the perfect mix of I-can-enjoy-my-coffee-because-I’m-ready-to-leave-30-minutes-in-advance and running-out-the-door-coffee-in-hand-to-make-it-maybe-on-time. You would think this would produce the right amount of punctuality, right?

Sure enough, it does. For years, I balanced in the middle. A type-A person who likes order and schedules, I love knowing exactly where I need to be somewhere. At the same time, I am a serious lollygagger with even more serious time management issues, in the sense that I lie to myself almost every day about how long it typically takes me to get ready. Balanced together, you have a person who scheduled lollygagging time in order to leave with enough time to spare, whether it was for work, to meet a friend, or just for a run to Target. This system lasted me for years.

Then something happened. I moved into a fraternity house.

OK, so I can’t blame my lateness issues on the fact that I lived with fraternity men for three years (although it seems like a pretty convenient excuse). For some reason, I became lax with my timing and now, voila, I am incapable of leaving for anything, anywhere, ever, on time.

So I ask myself, again, the question that’s been running through my mind for the past several months: When did I become this Late Girl? Was it because of a lack of rigid schedule during grad school? Was it because I worked in an office where someone was always running late, taking the pressure off my own punctuality? Was it because I tried to cram my days with too many things? Was it because the lollygagging part of my day became so enjoyable that I didn’t want it to end?

It’s probably the last one. I’m still searching for the perfect answer to this question.

My coworkers in Greek Life at UMD are very familiar with this bad habit of mine. Since we all lived together on fraternity row, we would usually meet up together anytime there was an office meeting. But somewhere in my 3rd year at Maryland, I stopped caring about super-on-time-punctuatlity and changed my conception of time from “meet outside at 9:50 to walk to the 10 o’clock meeting” to “meeting at 9:50ish to get to the meeting at 10ish.” Even when I scheduled the meet-up time, I was usually the last one to arrive, my co-workers standing in a huddle, patiently waiting for me. I would casually walk out of my house, hear the usual “oh, it’s about time” sort of jokes, before walking to wherever it was we were headed.

After a while, it became a joke; a funny quirk about my personality. “Oh, we’re going to Looneys? Well give Katherine an extra hour to arrive…” “You’re meeting us now? See you in 30 minutes.” One time, I was so elated to actually be running on time, I ran out of my house to beat everyone else to the meet-up location, just for that fleeting moment of victory.

Rahul knows about this problem better than anyone. His rule, now, is “don’t tell me you’re ready to go until you are ACTUALLY ready to go.” He is well practiced at waiting patiently as I say “Ok, let’s go,” then grab my jewelry, “Ok, let’s go,” and then put my purse together, “Ok, let’s go,” and then use the bathroom, “OK WE REALLY HAVE TO GO NOW” to which he reminds me, kindly, that he has been ready and waiting for several minutes.

However, now that I am working at three different schools, and am generally running around all the time to get from one place to the next, my lateness has passed being a “quirk” to just downright annoying. I get physically irritated with myself when I set a leave time of 8 AM and roll out of the house at 8:20, frantically navigating interstate traffic to make it to my 9 AM class on time. Even with things I enjoy, like running or TARGET RUNS, I’m heading to the door anywhere from 10-30 minutes after I told myself I would. My scheduled personality has crumbled in on itself. I’m made peace with the “I told myself I would grade 5 papers today and I only graded 3” part of my scheduling, because I know I’ll get the grading done anyway, no matter what, but I haven’t made peace with the fact that I am ALWAYS. RUNNING. LATE. Even when I prepare my  coffee the night before, pack my lunch, and assemble my outfit, I still find some way to leave 10 minutes after I meant to, which means I’m scrambling to find parking, running to my class to make it on time, apologizing to my students for the 2-minute delay (although they don’t really seem to care), running out of time to make all the copies I need, etc etc etc. My lateness isn’t so much fun anymore; not only is it causing unneeded stress, it’s irritating the hell out of me.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time (ironic, isn’t it), but I’m glad I waited, as Rahul and I saw Mike Birbiglia this weekend, where he started his show with a diatribe about his distaste for late people, whom he calls “Lateys.” In fact, one of his first lines was, “I would have started on time but about 100 of you were still making your way to your seat,” before launching into a rant about why late people are the worst. He talked about how you can be early for hours, but when you’re late, you’re late forever.
Things could be worse, right? 

You know, I get it, though. I’m currently on my way to becoming that family member you lie to about what time dinner starts (“oh, it’s at 5,” because you know they actually won’t show up until 6, when the thing really starts) and I don’t really want that.

You can watch a version of his diatribe on the Jimmy Kimmel Show here:

My favorite line? “What late people don’t realize about us on-time people is that we hate them.” So, I do apologize to all my on-time friends for the many minutes you have wasted waiting for me. I’m trying to get better, I promise…

Rahul and I, taking pictures on our new phones before the Mike Birbligia show at the Warner Theatre.

Rahul and I, taking pictures on our new phones before the Mike Birbiglia show at the Warner Theatre.

Speaking of his show, that was our Saturday night, preceded by an afternoon at the Apple store getting the iPhone 6! I’ve never had something so soon to its release date and I feel so fancy. I feel like the “early adopters” Simon Sinek talks about in his “Start with Why” video (I know my fellow UMD Greek life employees will understand what I mean here). But seriously, it’s a very nice, big ass phone, and I’m just waiting for the day when I inevitably drop it or damage it somehow…when I do, I promise to post about it.

 

LIFE AS OF LATE(LY)

Ok, I only have about 15 minutes to write this because I actually have no time to write this but I want to, dammit!

My days have not been any busier than usual, I just occasionally suffer from a few laziness diseases. The most popular one as of late is “my eyes have forgotten how to transmit information to my brain” and I end up staring at an essay for way longer than necessary because I’m thinking, “wait, what did I just read?”

Of course, I always go back and make sure I understood everything, which is why the process is taking twice as long as usual.

A few exciting things as of late, so I’ll just pop them in list form because lists are easy and it’s early.

1. I’ve made a few changes to my apartment, as seen below. I finally ordered new pillows a few weeks ago from Society6 and they arrived last week. I wasn’t as pleased with the elephant at first, but he is growing on me. The quilt-orange pillow-quilted pillow combo is the best, in my mind.

I also got a new rug, towels, and print for my kitchen…

found a use for the pink elephant throw that hung on my wall in my last apartment…

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and found my fiancé, sitting in my apartment, watching Manchester United on TV!

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He had a small layover in DC on his way from India to TN, in which we promptly went to see Gone Girl (and during which he promptly fell asleep, jet lag + dark movie theaters = snooze) and ate at Chick-fil-A. Now he is back for the next few months  and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

2. I got really excited last week when I created a “Pin to Real Life” outfit so I, of course, had to document it. I’ve been following a few fashion and lifestyle blogs for a while (my favorites are Sarah’s Real Life, Lemon Stripes, and Lauren Elizabeth) and, while I’m obviously no where near as skilled as these ladies are, I’d like to think I’ve picked up a few tips here and there about assembling an outfit. A big one I’ve picked up is not being afraid to color clash. I always thought black and brown together were a big no-no, but I’ve definitely learned through these ladies (oh! And through The Northeast Girl) that it’s okay to do so. So, I did just that last week, after finding this combo on Pinterest and thinking “I have all those things,” and then asked Rahul to take pictures of me, because why not?

ellen tracy sweater (i like this one too) // Mossimo black dress (similar) // wide camel belt ( // Target camel faux suede boots (similar)// emma fox bag // zara checked soft scarf // layered crystal necklace

Also featured in the photos are my fall favorites: my Zara scarf (which the amazing Rahul ordered for me) and my Ellen Tracy sweater procured via Marshall’s. Seriously can’t get enough of either one. Plus, the scarf can double as a picnic blanket or just regular blanket in an emergency setting.

3. Rahul and I went to see Gone Girl which was, of course, amazing. It was surreal seeing my last place of residence on the big screen, even if they did shoot from specific angles and grew out the grass to make the town look destitute. But Rosamund Pike KILLED IT as Amy.

4. Speaking of residency, I found out last week that, in order to obtain my new car insurance, I have to officially become a Maryland resident. I knew this day might come eventually, but I’m not particularly jumping up and down with excitement. I love living here, and I have become very attached to Maryland, but I was still holding on to my TN license and license plates as a little reminder of home. I’m not attached to Tennessee in the way that other Southerners are, but it’s still my home state and a large part of my identity. I know none of that will change when I become a Marylander, but I know next to nothing about Maryland other than College Park, that the Chesapeake is on one side and mountains on the other, and something about crab cakes and football?  I guess I will take time to learn more about my new state, especially since I have no idea how long I’ll actually be here after Rahul and I get married.

5. And SPEAKING OF MARRIAGE, Rahul and I went to my good friend Liz’s wedding over the weekend, where we did some wedding research. We haven’t plunged yet into full wedding mode, but we’ve been collecting ideas and tips here and there. Liz and Nelson’s wedding, which took place at Gramercy Mansion in MD, was lovely and definitely inspirational. Plus, we were able to reunite with some of my UMD RD friends, who I haven’t seen much since moving off the Row.

Okay, time to grade papers on papers on papers.

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As Hannah Montana once said, “Everybody has those days”

Have you ever had one of those moments where you stopped what you were doing, looked around, and thought, “What the hell am I doing?”

I had one of those moments on Sunday, right after I tripped over a big rock while running and came crashing to my knees. I was already a bit flustered because 1) I was running a completely new route 2) I kind of didn’t know where I was and 3) I had, in my classic nature, left 25 minutes after I meant to, which meant sunset was fast approaching.

It was my own fault. Earlier in the day, I had decided to run a new route that took me into the top corners of Rock Creek Park. I carefully studied the trail I was going to use but, when I got there, I couldn’t find it. So, just a minute after I thought wow, this trail is really rocky, I BETTER WATCH WHERE I’M GOING, I found myself frantically studying my phone while running and next thing I knew I was soaring to the ground.

I sat there for a moment, dirt all over my hands and knees, and tried to process what had just happened. But all I could think was “what the hell am I doing!?” On top of that, I couldn’t get my grandmother’s warning to never go into Rock Creek Park at night out of my head (she used to live in DC) and my mom’s warnings to generally never go anywhere alone at night out of my head.
Hey, at least I remembered my dad’s advice and threw my hands down to catch myself. Whoo hands.

But my frustration over falling was more than just a bruised ego (and right knee). It’s with myself, and my ridiculous schedule, and my (potentially) foolish plans. I’ve been busier this semester than I have been in a while. I teach pretty much all day Mondays and Wednesdays, have weekly meetings, office hours, grading, and SAT tutoring classes. On some days, I leave at 8 AM and get home around 10 PM. I’m not complaining, because I’m happy to have the work. It’s just taking me a while to reconcile that my time is not my own anymore. Even when I’m home, I’m usually spending all of my time grading or doing other necessary things (like cleaning, cooking, showering, killing gnats that won’t leave my plants alone, lesson planning, etc).

That being said, this has drastically cut down on my free time. There are many things I would like to spend said free time doing–reading Wild (next book on my list), watching Agents of SHIELD and other silly shows with Rahul, going to see The Maze Runner in theaters (I loved that series, okay?!), going to see Gone Girl in theaters (the clock is ticking down on that one), watching Netflix, BLOGGING, working on my unfinished thesis project, generally wasting time, and exercising.

When I weighed my options, the exercise option came out on top. I just can’t not exercise in some way, even if it’s not as much as I would like. I can tell how much better I feel when I exercise regularly, and I occasionally need some kind of outlet that frees my mind more than watching a movie or looking at cute adoptable kittens online can.

So I decided that I would train for a half marathon on Nov. 22.

Sounds crazy, right? But my last half went really well and I figured that as long as I am least running three times a week, with a long run on the weekend, I can still do it. Plus, having something to work toward will motivate me more. The running three times a week is what I’m able to fit in right now. I count on those runs.

So back to Sunday, sitting on my ass with dirty knees and hands. I haven’t registered for this race yet, and all I could think was the “what the hell am I doing?” How can I run a half when I can’t even get a mile into a run without injuring myself? I know that Sunday’s run was circumstantial, but in my stressed out mind, where I allocate a certain amount of time to get this run in, I just felt like an idiot.

In hindsight, I had a classic Katherine-panic-moment, where I experience anxiety over something that’s not really that big a deal at all. But when the running is one of the few things that provides a non-grading, non-work outlet, I need one that is injury free. AKA stress free. Because otherwise my brain goes bye-bye.

In other news…

Last week was one of those weeks where everything happened at once because, you know, LIFE. I visited the dentist to have my permanent crown “installed” (following a very expensive surprise root canal 3 weeks ago), I visited the doctor for my persistent headaches after realizing a burner had been out on my gas stove and I thought I was dying, I visited a different doctor later in the week for my persistent headaches and was prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection, I took my car in for an oil change, my computer had a meltdown and had to be taken away for science (eer repairs), etc etc etc. Basically I felt like Andy Dwyer after visiting the Doctor for the first time in years. It was like my life had picked this past week as THE WEEK for everything to break.

But never fear, this week has been looking up. I got my hair cut, I received the Stella & Dot jewelry I ordered after attending a jewelry party last weekend (do you know they serve wine at those things? Wine + pretty jewelry = dangerous combo), my computer is back and is basically brand new, I’m killing it (so far) in grading my student’s essays (as in I’m way further along than I expected to be at this point) and, THE BEST NEWS OF ALL:

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THIS GUY GETS HERE TODAY!!!!!! He has a short layover in DC before spending a weekend in TN then he’s back up here! FOR 12 WEEKS! I’m so excited I could scream but I’ll wait until I see him at the airport. TODAY!

My latest obsession

I want to talk to you about my latest obsession…MY NEW APARTMENT!

When I decided I was going to stay in the DC area, I spent hours and hours trolling the web looking at apartments. If I never have to open another Craigslist ad in my life, I will be a happy camper. I checked out a variety of places, from teeny-tiny apartments in the basement of people’s homes to lovely DC townhouses to “we probably shouldn’t even get out of the car here” places. After looking at countless places online, and visiting a few in person, I decided on an apartment in the Silver Spring area. And it was, of course, one of the first apartments I looked at. Just the way that seems to go.

While I loved my place at 2 Frat Row, I am SERIOUSLY in love with my new apartment. Not only does it just look like a real person apartment–it has ACTUAL CARPET as opposed to that dorm room carpet that never shows any stains–but it is also in a great location, has amazing closet space, and has A KITCHEN. That was the biggest thing I was looking for in an apartment, and I am so delighted to finally have a kitchen to cook real people meals in that I am probably eating more than I should. Parm-mayo-covered salmon? Check. Blue cheese salads? Oh yea. RITZ-PARM COVERED CHICKEN!? (There’s a cheese theme going on here.) So delicious. Seriously.  I might need to rein it in a little….

Living on Maryland’s campus was great, because the campus is great, but living around so many other adults–and not thousands of college kids–is already making me feel like more of an adult myself, which is what I have needed. Even though some of the expenses that come along with being a real adult are not super great, I’m excited about it anyway because it marks a huge step forward in my life. Plus, for the first time in my life, I am NOT a student, which is helping with the whole “I’M A FREAKIN ADULT” euphoria I’ve been experiencing.

My dad phrased it better. There are three stages in life: growing up/education/discovering yourself; working life, adulthood, marriage, kids; retirement, sailing around the world, moving to Florida (or whatever it is people do when they retire). I am now finally moving out of stage 1 to stage 2. I don’t feel an obvious change yet, other than the AMAZING NEW APARTMENT. But I’m sure the realization will hit me, just like it hit me when I finally accepted I was moving out of Missouri to Maryland. I just hope this time isn’t accompanied by a crying session on the side of the Interstate.

Speaking of Missouri, I am so honored to appear in the latest issue of Big Muddy, a journal produced by the University Press at Southeast Missouri State University. So happy my story “The Facebook Babies” finally has a home!

The Comeback Kid

It’s my one year blogiversary…of not blogging.

I’ve been thinking of starting my blog up for a while now, and when I saw that the last post was June 27, 2013, I decided to make it a clean year in between posts. That way it would seem like a more momentous celebration of something when really it’s just me starting back up my personal blog.

There was a time when I was very dedicated to my blogging and set aside time every week to writing entries. And even though I really wanted to blog over this past year, I dedicated any writing time I had to writing something much more important: my MFA thesis.

I entered into my third and final year of my MFA last fall, also known as the THESIS YEAR. I had to complete my thesis no matter what. There was a time toward the end (somewhere in March) where I really wanted to jump ship and was having dreams about writing ANYTHING other than my thesis. Some authors that visited our MFA program talked about how they take breaks when working on longer projects to write short stories and I thought HOW LUXURIOUS YOUR LIFE IS but stop rubbing it in my face that you have all this free time to write whatever the hell you want. And then I also reminded myself that they are published authors with nothing else to do than write, where as I am (or at least was at the time) a 5th year grad student, a teacher, a fraternity House mom, a student, and a whole host of other identifiers. The writer part of me was sharing time with a 1,000 other things and it was the least I could do to finish my thesis without wanting to plan some horrible death for all my characters and call it a day.

Okay, so I’m being a little bit dramatic. But my time and thoughts were consumed with writing a novel-length piece that I actually love very dearly and have been working on for over a year now. When I turned in the for real-real copy, I ate a lot of sushi, drank a lot of wine, and went to sleep early. In other words I:parks-and-rec-treat-yo-selfI also started teaching at a local community college, continued to work as a house mom for my dear fraternity boys, and took my LAST CLASSES EVER as a graduate student.
People keep saying “don’t say you’re done with school, you never know,” but I do know. I. AM. DONE. (a sentence which would surely horrify my AP English teacher, who reminded us countless times—when we said “done!” at the end of a practice test—that we are not done, we are finished. Potatoes in the oven are done, students are finished.)

So now that my MFA program is completed, and summer is upon us, I have a little more time on my hands. Some exciting changes are upcoming: even though I am really sad about having to move out of the fraternity house and leave my boys behind, I am really excited to no longer be a student/house mom/teacher but just be a TEACHER. Part of the reason I decided to get my MFA was so I could teach, and I am excited to embark on this next part of my life as I leave the student identifier behind and can focus solely on teaching (and writing, of course). While I obviously loved being a House Mom, and a student (most of the time), I am REALLY really looking forward to not splitting my time so much. It’s exhausting.

Many exciting things have happened over the past year: other than finishing my MFA program, I saw Rahul many, many times, reconnected with some old and dear friends, spent quality time with family, developed a J.Crew addiction, applied for a 1,000 jobs, hung out at the White House, ran two long races, attended the weddings of two close friends, attended the graduations of my sister and my oldest best friend, spent weekends in New Orleans and Minnesota, read much YA fiction, and went apartment hunting with my mom and sister after deciding to stay in the DC area for at least another year. That’s right, D.C.! You’re not rid of me just yet!

2014 has shaped up to be a pretty awesome year so far, and I’m excited about the months to come, which you can read about here. I know you’ve been missing my random ramblings on movies, coffee shops, and life in general, and I’ve missed taking time every week to jot down the goings on and other nonsense. So don’t fret, dear readers: Wordifications is officially making a comeback.
First official random rambling, as it has to do with MFA programs: are we really supposed to believe that Hannah Horvath was accepted into the IOWA WRITER’S WORKSHOP!?!? I know this is old news, but give me a break. Let’s just hope if she actually attends the program it will make her less insufferable rather than more.