Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sleeping Standing Up

So to start with, I've just looked at my last blog post and it just occurred to me how insensitive the title of the last post was. In a pill popping society, that was definitely, a little too close to home. And as someone who pill pops themselves because of chronic migraines, there's nothing funny about being dependent on medication in order to function. So the deepest of apologies folks.

But I digress. 

Recently, I have a lot on my plate. By this I mean, working Monday through Friday as a tutor, babysitting for three hours three times a week, and volunteering three times a week for at least two hours (though sometimes for as long as five and for no money whatsoever). And that's on top of taking two classes (I'm graduating this semester THANK GOD)! 

Now, I'm really grateful for having all of these things in my life. All of it is geared towards my passion in life right now which is teaching and education. And for the most part, none of it is very stressful. But it is a lot of work. And to be honest, I'm running low on the energy department. I wake up tired. Take naps half way through the day and still feel tired. Wake up tired. Study tired. It's a whole giant mess of trying to keep my eyes open for just another hour. And one more hour after that. And one more hour after that - sometimes with the help of caffeinated soda and lots of sugar candy despite the inevitable crash.

This is because taking reading intensive classes takes time and energy, keeping up with an elementary student for three hours takes time and energy (no matter how cute and sweet they are), tutoring takes time and energy, volunteering at a literacy program takes time and energy (especially with all the time spend on lesson plans, making worksheet, etc). 

The outcome of all this missing energy is that emotionally, I have become as emotionally unstable as someone in the late stages of pregnancy. This is not true during my professional time - I mean, you suck that stuff up while you're at work - but after work hours, those close to me (and by this I mainly mean my boyfriend and my family) know how big a mess I am. And this is not the fault of all of the work and projects that I am doing right now. 

I attribute this to the following:
  1. Bad sleep - this is a fun cocktail of weird sleeping hours, choppy sleeping patterns/sleep cycles, and cats that likes to run on my bed in the wee hours of the morning. I mean, recently I can't even sleep long enough for my alarm to go off and usually, that's at 8:15 in the morning....
  2. Friends who mean well but.... - these are friends who send texts like "hey, haven't heard from you in a while. let's meet up". Now, I love these people. They're embedded deep in my heart but son, if I don't have time to talk to my boyfriend whom I love very much (and I fall asleep on while we're talking on the phone) I honestly don't know when I'm gonna find the time to hang with you. I'm busy and crazy tired. Our friendships will now have to be postponed till an odd Sunday (my only day off) or vacations (I salivate over the idea of these!!).
  3. Procrastination - this really doesn't help. Putting off lesson planning until the morning of a class or leaving class reading (about 30 pgs worth) for the 45 minute bus ride to school (yeah that'll TOTALLY get done....)
  4. Reading manga - this is my favorite loser activity to do in the morning when I should be getting ready for the day or catching up on reading. Nope. I'm reading manga for and hour and a half so that I'm late for the express bus and now have to take the train which is way less geared for any sort of reading.
  5. Extra stuff - I love helping friends with classes they're having a hard time with. But when this becomes another thing to do once or twice a week in my already packed schedule... (sigh) 
By this point, I'm already having trouble keeping my eyes open on the train ride home. And the side effects of being tired is:

  1. Feeling offended over small things.
  2. Starting fights with my family and my boyfriend for no reason
  3. Becoming PMS emotional - this include bursting into tears like the depressed drunk chick at the party
  4. Self deprecating behavior
  5. And so much more
This entry has mainly been made to blow off some steam but realistically, the work I'm doing is great and I'm going to suffer through being tired the way I suffer through my long distance relationship because in the end, all the hard work and time and effort is totally worth it. 

So if you're SWAMPED at work or just school even. I feel your pain. Keep your chin up and keep on keeping on because all of the being tired hopefully leads to an A or a promotion. 

Till Next Time

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smokers Have Nicotine Patches. What Do I Take For Procrastination?

The sad reality...

I am sitting in my school library. Ulysses, the book I have to read four chapters of (and WORSE write a comment on for my whole class to see) is sitting beside me with my phone on top of it. I should have been reading this for the past hour and a half - I'm already at least three chapters behind in the reading (and that's not counting the readings I STILL have to do from the previous book, and for my other classes). 

I am obviously NOT reading Ulysses. I am on my laptop (which I brought for work - lot of good that did me) and have been on my laptop for the past hour and a half. Obviously, no work has been done. 


Instead I have gone through every mode of social media I can think of. I've sifted through facebook, gchat, stumbleupon, tumblr, twitter. 

I thought about how ridiculous I was being. 

"How unproductive," I thought, with an image of a posh 1850's Englishman in a suit, shaking his head disapprovingly at me. 

And what was my reaction to this? Not to get food - which I should do before I need to go to work in less than a half hour, not start reading Ulysses from Chapter 5 so I'll be prepared for my writing about Chapter 8. Oh no. I thought I'd write about it on my blog. Because at least then I'll have the illusion of productivity and still procrastinate. 

Man, I'm such an enabler. 

And while I did find some every interesting things (as shown through said social medias):

A funny picture of the relationship between books and reality shows:

A cool picture out of a series of AMAZING sandcastles: 

An awesome book shelf I would buy were it not a United Kingdom product (damn the currency difference) and expensive (one of many check them out!):  

And a cute link about what you pets do when you're not home: 

I can't really say I've done very much. At least, none of what I needed to get done in the first place. And this is the problem, this procrastination, and then enabling process of pretend-productivity. 

I need a procrastination patch, or a drug like the from one from Limitless to ensure I get SOMETHING done. With the way things are going, my brain will turn to mush, my gpa will drop, and its goodbye gradschool (if I even have hopes to get in somewhere now). 

And the thing is,I've tried various methods of ending procrastination. I've tried making a schedule for myself. If anything, its another thing I can procrastinate with - making lists of things I have to get done (and then not doing them). In fact, I'll copy these lists into several different agendas and notebooks (sometimes even my whiteboard and calender) in order to prolong not having to actually do something.

I've tried used my phone calender which honestly just serves as a reminder that something is due the next day and I probably won't get it done until the morning its due at 3am. 

I've tried willing myself to get things done obviously, I'm not most strong willed person on the planet.... 

I'm at a loss here. If you have any suggestions on who to kick the habit - a step program, tea, some sort of Harry Potter spell or superstition, you let me know. I'm willing to try anything other than prescription meds. 

Till Next Time

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's The Rule

This'll be a short one I swear.

Now, it's been a while since I've seen this film but I love it all the same and something that happened to me today made me think of it. The movie is Zombieland and in the film there are several rules that the protagonist, a very socially awkward pre-social-network Jesse Eisenberg, makes in order to keep himself sane in a post-apocalyptic world.

This is the rule that struck me right while I was riding the train home today.

I was on the A train on my way home and I had just taken a seat (finally) after the long gap between 59th street and 125th street. Unfortunately for me, a family walks through the train doors (a mother, father, young child, and baby in a stroller). Not being so self-serving I wouldn't give up a seat for a child, I stood. The child was immediately told to sit down by his parents.

They offered me no word of thanks.

Now, I already know where this statement might lead you - you're not supposed to do acts of kindness in order to receive gratitude. And while I agree, I think it's only human nature to yearn for some sort of recognition every once in a while.

Now, two stops later, the man I had been sitting next to before I'd given up my seat (a tall black man with glasses holding what seemed to be an encased cello), got up and before the station came up, obviously meaning to get off the train.

He may have said excuse me, I don't remember, but I was moving back, balancing myself as the train moved forward not at all worried about my equilibrium. But I'd moved back too far and brushed against another seated passenger's shoe.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"You didn't have to stop holding the pole," the celloist said with a hint of humor.

"It's alright," I said, "I just don't like being in the way."

And then something odd happened. "Wow," he said, "you're awesome."

I laughed and couldn't find the words to respond.

He made his way out of the train but stopped before finally departing.

"You have a nice day," he said.

"You too," I replied.

Now this may be a very small and inconsequential interaction but I can't begin to express the sense of well being that spread over me after a long grueling day of class and work.

You may also not understand how this relates to the theme of the working college student but it's so rare that you have these sweet New York moments and as a New Yorker, I have to say that rule no.32 is one that isn't often followed.

It's so often that New Yorkers respond to being overworked by forgetting how to enjoy anything, suddenly turning into a cleaner (possibly) more well dressed version of Oscar the Grouch. And honestly, I feel like I may have been that way too before the interaction with the kind stranger.

But to cut myself off before rambling - I just want everyone to stop, take a second, and enjoy the little things. Even if its between school and work, between getting out of work from your 12 hr shift and going home, etc.

Till Next Time

Zombieland Rules

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Conflicts. Of the Scheduling Kind

Now that time has become a much needed and little had luxury, I find myself making death threats to people who mess up my schedule or come in the way of the little down time I may have. Now to make the situation perfectly understood, I go to school four days a week (like I said 4 Literature classes and a Piano class) and work six days a week (Saturday being the only time I don't work and don't have school) and on that day, I expect to do a lot of what I used to do not but a month ago - veg out in front of a television, leave everything for another day, and pretend I have no worries or other responsibilities in my life that require my time and effort.

Now I'm writing about this because today, on my one and only day off, I am being forced to do domestic work that should have been done long ago by my roommate. The argument has been made to me by a third party that I'm 22 and "welcome to being an adult". Also, the fact that my roommate is two years younger than me led to a "you're an adult, she's a kid" argument which quite frankly I don't appreciate.

Yes, I believe that at 20 you should be having fun and not focusing all of your energy on work - totally agreed - but when you only have one class during a semester and nothing else to do but one demanding extra curricular, I'm sorry but I don't have much sympathy for telling you to do the laundry when its just about the only chore you have.

And yes, I understand as someone two years old I should be farther ahead in my life, accepting more responsibility but at the same time, everyone has a breaking point and for this party (who by the way is not exactly responsibility and work ethic personified) to tell me it's life deal with it, honestly just bothers me and has me seeing red.

What does she know of being an A college student?
Not much.

What does she know about having your life dictated by work?
And while I do admit that in these past few years she has become better at her work oriented shortcomings, she still never gets to work on time, makes her own hours despite being expected to follow a schedule, and sometimes just decides not to go to work and telecommute instead - resulting in her doing nothing but watching reruns of The Real Housewives of insert city.

But enough with my complaining over this. The point of this post was supposed to be about clients not keeping their own schedule.

Now when you're a tutor or a babysitter, usually you're following your employer's schedule and your life gets rearranged around that.

What's that? Want to hang out with your friends?
Wait till the weekend, your employer wants you to work till seven.

What's that it's your birthday?
Wait until the weekend to celebrate.

What's that your favorite show is on?
Better Hulu that bad boy on the weekend so you make sure you're not too far behind.

I think you're starting to see the pattern here.

So while I'm putting everything aside, being organized with time and material for other people's children, all I expect is that if an appointment needs to be canceled someone can tell me ahead of time instead of my finding out when I've already commuted and waited for several minutes to be told that the appointment has been canceled and needs to be rescheduled for a day when honestly, I would prefer to have less work.

I swear going through the trouble of getting somewhere and being told never mind is like being Punked.

"What you thought you were going to get into the apartment and get paid today? In your dreams! You've been Punked!!! Now get your ass home."

*I apologize for all of the dry sarcastic humor of this post, I'm not exactly in cheery spirits today*

And then you're in the train ride home thinking about how you could have just gone straight home if you'd been told ahead of time, about how it was a waste of a train fare on the $10 Metrocard you had to buy because your boss STILL hasn't paid you yet and so haven't purchased your monthly card. And then you start to get a bit miffed because you have a headache and wasted a ton of your time - which you could have spent sleeping (man, you miss sleep) or watching TV on an actual TV (no laptop of catch-up shows for you today, we're getting fancy and actually staring at the tube).

When you have no time to do anything but work and study, small menial things suddenly become a luxury and the fact that these small things are suddenly a big deal makes you go ape-shit crazy when someone tries to take them away from you. Now I'm not saying I'm going to go all Micheal Tyson and bite someone's ear off but I can't promise I won't put on some waterworks and yell and practically hyperventilate over having to do laundry someone else should have been doing instead.

Which I apologize for but if you still wanna be a jerk about, feel free and take some of my work days off my hands. Then I'm sure I'll be much saner and less inclined to throw titty-tantrums about things you deem insignificant.

To everyone out there who has no time to do anything, I feel your pain. Try to stay sane and not lose you shit too often. And to those of you who have nothing but time on your hands, or who thinks everyone should be accustomed to having no time for themselves, that people should shut up and grow up, I have to say as politely as possible...


Try to be more understanding. I commend you if you have the Herculean ability to be overworked without it taking a tole on you but not everyone has your strength. Some of us are still trying to figure things out and your condescension isn't helping, in fact, its just down right insulting and discouraging.

So my suggestion is to eat chocolate, drink soda, and go about your schedule (whatever it may be) without losing your cool if you can help it and being understanding towards those that do.

Till Next Time

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweating The Details


I cringe just hearing it.

Ever since I was 10, trying to enter a competitive Middle School in New York - one that required an interview, portfolio, and placement test - I've been weird about interviews. And okay, maybe the fact that I'm a bit of a misanthrope adds to that discomfort just slightly but interviews are inherently meant to make you self-conscious and nervous.

These are the general things I worry about with interviews:

1. Should I shake hands with my perspective client?

Now I know that this shouldn't be such a big deal but after the Middle School interview trauma, handshakes have becomes a silent form of communication. Trying to better my chances to get into Middle School, my mother hired an interview coach (which was very thoughtful of her). And honestly the only thing I remember, other than lying about what the school had to offer me (I don't know what 10 year old would know the answer to that question), what I had to offer the school (again, drawing a blank), and why I chose this school out of all the rest (because my mom told me to), the only thing I remembered was the handshake thing.

"If your handshake is too soft you'll seem weak willed," I remember the tall professionally dresses woman saying as I gripped her hand harder.

"Too hard and you'll seem bossy and mean," she explained as I dropped her hand all together.

It was like there was no winning. Handshakes were like a Goldilocks fairy tale all of a sudden. Not too soft, not too hard, but just right. And the idea that you could be defined by the way you hold and then pump someone's hand freaked me out. What exactly would they know about me? I became ridiculously embarrassed shaking hands with people and till this day, still subconsciously judge people on how they shake my hand.

2. What exactly do I say?

Everyone has this problem but I think its particularly bad for the socially impaired. Typically I like to plan ahead, try to figure out what I can say to sell myself as best as possible while still being genuine. But with the field I'm in, private tutoring, there's only so much that can be planned, and even then it's regurgitating what you've already put down in your resume.

But more than that, should I speak first or should I wait until they ask me questions? Should I prepare a speech and then let them speak or should I just answer their questions as best I can?

And on top of that, what's with people asking you to tell them a little about yourself? Several of the places I've interviewed at have asked me that question and the first response I have to that question is drawing a big blank. At this point, I've found having a default answer to this question would be wise.

3. If you are interviewing in someone's home (which you will generally do if you're a tutor, babysitter, or nanny) should you compliment someone on their home?

I usually feel pressured/compelled to do so but always feel that the words coming out of my mouth would be completely dis-genuine of me and would probably sabotage me more than anything.

4. How long should an interview generally be?

Maybe interviews are too closely linked to court hearings for me - I just want to hear the verdict. I feel like a short interview indicates that I don't have enough evidence and that the jury won't pay attention to the few facts I've laid out. A long interview is obviously not good either as you annoy the jury/your future benefactor. Again, like handshakes, you have the find the "just right" timing. I find this to be a 15-20 minute mark. This is the sweet spot that generally works for me.

Instances that throw you off during interviews:

1. Being told that other people are being interviewed for the same job.

You are automatically disheartened - at least I was. I went into an interview thinking honestly that it was just a formality, a meet and great before I officially got the job and once I sit down for my interview (at the very beginning too), I was told two other people were being interviewed the next day. This of course puts you on edge, makes you more eager to please your prospective client, and in a way makes me feel overly silly - a complete freaking panderer and that's just not who I am generally.

Thankfully all of these things got me the job which honestly I didn't think I was going to get.

2. Being asked for certifications and paperwork you weren't told to bring.

This one seriously upsets me. Generally you are told to bring two copies of your resume and references and just the procedure which is fine. But showing up to an interview and being asked for you teaching certification, background check form, etc when you weren't notified beforehand just completely throws you. You sit there like a floundering fish.

"N-no. I wasn't aware I was supposed to ah, bring one of those. I'm sorry."

All of a sudden, I'm an eight year old child apologizing for breaking something or forgetting to lock the door or feeding the cat or whatever it may be.

3. Having a completely new set of responsibilities told to you during the interview process.

This recently happened to a friend of mine. She went into an interview for an unpaid internship at a dog centered blog. She thought she would be helping out not acting as website manager. She had an interest in writing, not web design. And all of a sudden she is told she was to maintain the website among other computer savvy necessities as well as writing two articles a day.

Now this bothers me for several different reasons:
1) Job responsibilities are generally listed on job posts (especially if found in websites like craigslist) and so changing those responsibilities reveals a lot about one's boss - unorganized.

2) Giving an intern that much work makes me wonder what exactly it is that the boss is doing.

3) Internships these days are about slave labor for no wage. It's ridiculous. I understand that the economy is cycling down the toilet bowl but I'm tired of companies and people in general saying that they're paying you in experience.

"This'll help you build and add to your resume."
"We're paying you in experience."

I don't think so. Most places that say that to you either give you the same workload as someone who would have gotten hired three years ago meaning that you should be getting paid way more than just a free lunch here or there (that your boss makes you feel like you should be thankful for - like a dog wagging its tail at a bone). Or the experience you're "getting paid with" is something as simple as filing. What kind of experience is that? I can file my own paper work at home. I don't have to commute to an office (which requires train fare out of my own pocket since you don't pay me) where you'll have me filing your paper work and picking up coffee for people who do actually get paid.

What kind of indentured servitude is this?

Working as an intern somewhere that doesn't pay you is like being a girl who sleeps with a boy and hopes that he'll eventually ask her out. Don't hold your breath. People are selfish. Get out while you still can.

Or - and this is just my opinion - bum it out for at least two months so you won't look like an idiot for including the horrible unpaid job in your resume.

Well its seems I've lost steam. I guess the only parting words I have is to not psych yourself out before your interview. I do it to myself all the time and always take a few deep breaths before going in so that I'm not in negativity-land.

No matter what, stay calm. If a curve ball is thrown at you, if you are asked for more, if anything changes, take a few seconds and then respond so that you're not acting unprofessional.

Be friendly but not vapid and superficial.

And prepare as much as possible.

And good luck! I know you'll do well!

(Sorry this post wasn't too uplifting)

Till Next Time

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hard Part

Is doing two things simultaneously.

I know that most of New York has experience working and taking classes at the same time - at 22 who wouldn't be able to handle all of the responsibility at once? Well, me for one. Working and going to school at the same time is a completely new experience and I have to say, it's just all sorts of draining. I feel like Superman near kryptonite and the side effects aren't very pretty.

But even before the taxing workload and insomnia facilitated by your need to get things done without enough hours in the day, there are preexisting reasons why sometimes people like me just shouldn't try to do too much at once. Firstly, my expertise in procrastination. Ever try to take four English classes in one semester while tutoring two different sets of children with completely different grade levels? It's a lot of research, a lot of reading, and most of the time, you feel like you're doing three times as much homework as you're assigned. Which means more often than not, something's not getting done, or is getting done late and usually that something is your school work. Sure the answer would be to break the bad habit instead of letting your responsibilities fall by the wayside but its a shody habit to break. Ever try to quite smoking? Well quitting procrastination's just as hard. Just, instead of me cancering up my lungs, I'm banging out gray hairs thanks to stress. Awesome.

Secondly, I have a migraine condition. Now I know this one isn't too relate-able, but you imagine getting sharp pains around your temples, being sensitive to light and sound, getting nauseous enough to want to throw up anywhere (unless you're a pro like me and know how to hold out until the nearest toilet - fun fun) and then get back to me about how easy it is to work and do school at the same time. Sure people are always telling me that there are way to control the condition.

"There are triggers," they say. But when your main trigger is stress, what else can you do but try to ride the wave and hope the migraine ends soon?

"Take medication," they say. And I do but migraine medication is tricky. To begin with the side effects are ridiculous and the people prescribing overlook the most important details. Once, I had a doctor give me migraine medication where the side effect was shortness of breath. Doesn't sound too horrible unless you have asthma.... I was gasping for are, unable to gulp down even a drink of water, let alone solid food - and this for about three hours after taking the medication. So now at the earliest signs I either become an avid pill-popper (which can last for days before the migraine gets tired of my fighting it) or I'm sleeping for ten hours straight, hoping I won't wake up sick (which happens all the time).

So now on top of falling behind on school work, I'm missing classes because I'm stressed out about having to keep up with everything and worse, I always feel like I should be doing better than I already am - as a student and as a tutor. And the sad thing is, even when I'm on top of everything the feeling doesn't go away. The need to push and be better is this suffocating bubble of "don't be mediocre" I must have picked up somewhere like a bad disease.

Also, my addiction to manga (I'm a real loser on the down-low) and teen drama shows like The Lying Game and The Secret Circle probably don't help.

As far as real problems are concerned, taking 4 high level English classes, being on top of all your reading, writing papers, and making lessons plans for other students isn't exactly a walk in the park. It requires (for me anyways) getting my hands on hundreds of textbooks (materials to be used for tutoring), going through all the applicable files of textbooks depending on the student, deciding from there what specifically a student needs, what pages to assign, how much paper you're willing to waste on the whole thing, figuring out how to get from class to a completely different borough in an hour (while trying to read as much as you can for class tomorrow), being met with kids who half the time are distracted from learning because of their need to play (which isn't so bad) and then students who just don't want to learn at all (the worst to deal with - discouraging and a complete pain), and then coming home after that and telling yourself there's more work to be done, that you still need to read 150+ of text for tomorrow. And those are the good days when you're not sick and calling your father (pathetic I know) to come pick you up because you can't afford a cab and are so sick you can't walk straight.


It's a bit overwhelming and I'm getting stressed out just writing about it.

But this is not to say that I don't appreciate all of the things that come with this hardship. I mean, everyone has to grow up sometime, take on more responsibilities, move outside of their comfort zone, make their own money so they don't live as adults mooching off of their parents. And when all's said and done, I enjoy my classes, how much they're challenging my mind with critical essays, and offering new interpretations of texts I thought I'd already understood. I like teaching and tutoring (especially when children are willing to compromise with me), like feeling like I'm a part of the learning process and that I'm helping kids with something their understaffed, underfunded schools are failing to do.

I like feeling like I'm contributing to society and the education process.

I like trying to make a small difference in all of the problems that plague me about the American education system.

And despite the stress, I like feeling like eventually, I'll get a handle on all of this stuff and be better for it.

So if anyone else out there is having a hard time juggling two things at once, and I don't just mean a job and school but maybe friends and your boyfriend, or school and a social life, or what ever it may be, just keep fighting the good fight.

Till Next Time