Monthly Archives: March 2012

Saturday Night Grocery Shopping

My apartment is outrageously close to a grocery store. Being the fat kid that I am, this is definitely a selling point for me. My last apartment in Pittsburgh was also within easy walking distance of a grocery store. Being so close definitely makes my life as a single lady much easier. I can effortlessly shop multiple times a week and so it’s easier to buy/consume fresh fruits and veggies without them going bad. Although, I still have a tough time with the bananas. You can’t just buy two bananas. You have to buy seven. Shopping a lot is also good for procrastinating.

Anyway, my Winn Dixie is called the Crack Dixie by locals. Since I am now a local, I obviously refer to it as such as well. It used to be really crappy apparently before it was remodeled and also attracts sketchy people. Both for the fact that it used to be crappy and also because midtown Mobile is much like New Orleans, in that it has lots of dicey streets and nice streets within a few blocks of each other so you’re never really safe and in a crime-free area. In fact, a police officer was shot at the Crack Dixie earlier this month.

I like it though because this mix of what would be separate neighborhoods all in one neighborhood means that shopping at the Crack Dixie causes you to run into the most diverse group of people. It’s basically like being at the South Side Giant Eagle. People of all ages, races, and income levels. I kind of love it. It’s a good people watching spot so I’m always entertained while walking around to get all the stuff on my list.

Every time I have to get peanut butter, however, it irritates me that I can’t get natural peanut butter in the bigger jar. I eat a lot of peanut butter so I always have to buy more peanut butter and I would have to buy it less often and it would cost me less money if they just packaged natural peanut butter in the family size container. FYI, don’t eat regular peanut butter. So much trans fat. They hydrogenate the shit out of it so it lasts forever. They take peanut butter, which is a relatively healthy food, and turn it into a terribly unhealthy food. Natural peanut butter tastes exactly the same and it’s just a little bit more expensive. Not even a lot more expensive. Like barely more expensive.

I’ve also recently gotten addicted to french bread pizzas. They’re so horrible for you, I know. And I honestly hadn’t had one for years. But I bought a box on a whim and considered it my junk food for the week. But then they gave me a coupon at the check out. 75 cents off if you buy two boxes. Well, damn. That’s a deal. So, next time, I got two boxes and used my coupon. But then they gave me another coupon. This has happened 3 times now and there’s no end in sight, apparently. This is a cry for help. Someone break into my apartment, take the coupon, and rip it up. Break the cycle. I’m powerless here because it combines the addictive power of french bread pizzas and my inability to ignore a money saving opportunity. Eating french bread pizzas regularly makes me feel unhealthier and makes me like myself less. It’s lowering my self-esteem and that’s a problem but I can’t stop. And I can’t even avoid that aisle because that’s where the Mexican and Italian food stuff is. And, as a poor nursing student, what do I eat more than Mexican and Italian food? Nothing. I absolutely NEED to get pasta sauce and tortillas. Maybe I’ll light a candle and burn the coupon tonight. I think I have enough willpower for that.

Being able to buy alcohol in the grocery store at any hour of the day is also bad news. Countless bottles of wine. I really only crave wine during the hours when liquor stores in PA are closed. So, in the old days, I just had to ride out the craving and deal with it. But now, I can just walk on down to the Crack Dixie and get some. I’m really good at not overindulging all at once for the purposes of making it last since my budget doesn’t include much room for non-essential purchases. For some people, poverty leads to alcoholism. But in my case, it prevents it. Maybe my self-control skills aren’t as bad as I thought. Time to take advantage of this power realization and burn the french bread pizza coupon for real!

I wish there were coupons for wine.

But it’s probably good that there aren’t because my life would quickly become me in my PJs with some wine and the dog and HGTV every night. No thank you. This Bridget Jones scene is forever burned into my brain.

That movie is pretty freaking hilarious though.

Also, speaking of dogs, Mary is puppysitting this one right now:

I WANT IT. So cute!! I just need a little buddy. This apartment is too quiet and empty sometimes.

And thank the merciful Lord that Kansas won. My bracket is still in contention for winning the class pool. I could win $25. That’s one month of water/sewage use!

Also, tomorrow Rachel’s picking me up and we’re going to her parents’ house on the river for a BBQ and fishing. This is everything I want a Sunday to be. They’re basically my adopted family at this point. I like having an Alabama family. Southern hospitality is everything you think it will be and more. Her mom’s gonna force some leftovers on me. And I’m more than ok with that.

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Somewhere Under Water, Maybe You Could Find My Heart

It’s throwback Saturday. I’m sick of everything on my iPod and on the radio. And Pandora keeps playing the same songs over and over and over again on all 100 of my stations.

Plus, I’m just disgruntled in general because I’m sick of reading for psych. I can’t wait to take this final on Monday and be done with it.

Anyway, after my iPod, the radio, and Pandora are all abandoned as viable options for background noise, the only thing left is my CD collection. Which more or less remains untouched these days. But every time I do decide to pull something off the shelf and listen to it, I regret the fact that I don’t listen to it more often.

The first 3 CDs I put in were these:
Deja Entendu (2003)
Through Being Cool (1999)
– Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo (1998)

And I found out that I still know all the words to every song on all 3 albums.

Either my 16 year old self listened to them way too much or my 16 year old self was way better at memorization.

Also, I feel old.

I Miss Yinz N’at

Thunderstorms here are kind of terrifying sometimes. And this is coming from a lifelong thunderstorm lover. 2 minutes ago, lightning came out of nowhere, then a huge window rattling clap of thunder happened like 5 seconds later, then it poured for 1.5 minutes… and that was it. So weird. I miss the land of normal thunderstorms. Because I really feel like I just imagined all of that. It would have been a VERY VIVIDLY imagined event though.

I guess there are still little adjustments to be made even though I’ve been here for 3 months at this point and feel I’ve acclimated quite well.

It’s easier to be away from home when you know you could go back whenever you want. This isn’t The Odyssey. 

I’d pay $10 for one good pierogi though.

And before I go to sleep, sometimes I think about what Pittsburgh looks like at night. It makes me feel calm and grounded.

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.
– Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

It’s strange though… Because on Wednesday at lunch, I found myself enjoying time with my Mobile friends just as much as I do when I’m with everyone from home that I’ve known for years. I guess that’s just proof that life always rolls on. But at the same time, it kind of stops. Because I’m pretty sure that when I go back, it’s going to be like I never left and we’ll all just pick up where we left off like no time has gone by at all. In a few cases, however, I made sure there’d be nothing to pick back up before I left. It was the right choice.

Two Wishes

1) I win the Mega Millions jackpot
2) My new upstairs neighbor ends up being a hot guy

Fake It ‘Til You Make It: Part 1

This gem came from r/relationships. And yes, I am subscribed to it. I’m a girl. Emotions are my thing.

Anyway, the back story is that this one girl posted about confronting her BF about shit and how he then said he’d stop and that he wanted to be with her, etc. The classic scenario. Basically all that bullshit that guys are so good at. The bullshit we always fall for. So, this other girl posted some advice. Great advice, actually.

Well. I typically try to be very explanatory and gentle but I think I’ll try on a new hat for today. Drop him. Like a dead dove.

You probably won’t. I’ve been there too. But not dumping him means a lot more manipulation and crying. You’ll get tired of it eventually or he will. If you wanna feel awesome tell him to fuck right off and leave. Never talk to him again and laugh over drinks with your lady friends. Cry at home alone but not for too long. You’ll get over it.

NO. Stop it. I know you’re thinking “but, but, but…”. Just stop. Pretend you’re the kickassest, most independent take no shit mama that ever was. Fake it. Now.

Amen.

This advice is primarily for those ladies who haven’t arrived at that conclusion on their own yet. But it’s also a good refresher for those of us who have been there and done that. Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

Example: I thought I was finally at that point. And I was good and strong for 4 months. Then November 2011 happened. And I learned my lesson the extra hard way. So hard, in fact, that I will forever be a “take no shit mama” at all times for the rest of my life. In that regard, it’s good. But if I could have been spared the pain with the help of a little reminder like that girl’s advice, I would have obviously preferred it.

This is your reminder. Stay strong. Walk out the door. Don’t listen to him when he says he needs you or loves you or wants you or will change. Because when he says that, he’s actually just being a heartless asshole.

I Have The Good Name Of The Centre To Think Of

At the sound of his voice the Director started into a guilty realization of where he was; shot a glance at Bernard, and averting his eyes, blushed darkly; looked at him again with sudden suspicion and, angrily on his dignity, “Don’t imagine,” he said, “that I’d had any indecorous relation with the girl. Nothing emotional, nothing long-drawn. It was all perfectly healthy and normal.” He handed Bernard the permit. “I really don’t know why I bored you with this trivial anecdote.” Furious with himself for having given away a discreditable secret, he vented his rage on Bernard. The look in his eyes was now frankly malignant. “And I should like to take this opportunity, Mr. Marx,” he went on, “of saying that I’m not at all pleased with the reports I receive of your behaviour outside working hours. You may say that this is not my business. But it is. I have the good name of the Centre to think of. My workers must be above suspicion, particularly those of the highest castes. Alphas are so conditioned that they do not have to be infantile in their emotional behaviour. But that is all the more reason for their making a special effort to conform. lt is their duty to be infantile, even against their inclination. And so, Mr. Marx, I give you fair warning.” The Director’s voice vibrated with an indignation that had now become wholly righteous and impersonal–was the expression of the disapproval of Society itself. “If ever I hear again of any lapse from a proper standard of infantile decorum, I shall ask for your transference to a Sub-Centre–preferably to Iceland. Good morning.” And swivelling round in his chair, he picked up his pen and began to write.
– Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

For some reason, that paragraph always sticks out in my brain when I think about Iceland. And that paragraph is also proof that Brave New World is incredible because it stands alone without even really needing the rest of the book. I wish I could write. Every sentence of that paragraph is purposeful and conveys something.

Yesterday, I also forgot to add Bjork to the list of things I love about Iceland. She’s from Iceland. If Iceland didn’t exist, neither would Bjork. This video and song are awesome. Same for Army of Me. And actually, basically all Bjork songs/videos.

And here you can watch the Reykjavik HHI episode.

Debilitating Homesickness

I’ve mentioned this condition a few times before. In my personal experience, it’s only debilitating for a few hours. And the episodes are relatively rare. But for Mary, she’s always kind of at least 10% homesick and usually she’s actually somewhere between 25-100% homesick.

Last night, in the middle of the night, we were chatting on the phone while I was downing coffee and getting stuff done and she was about to go to bed and trying not to feel lonely so she could  sleep. And after an explanation of her feelings and ultra emotional day, she asked “What’s wrong with me?” and I was like, “You have IT.”

IT is what the staff used to call homesickness at summer camp. Used in a scenario…

Counselor 1: What’s wrong with Camper A?
Counselor 2: She has IT.

Usually the word IT is accompanied by the non-verbal cues (usually with your eyes) that accompany any interpersonal exchange involving a secret code. Basically, the “you know what I mean” suggestion eyes.

If you say homesickness around a camper or refer to a camper as homesick or let them identify with that term, then it’s like an instant flood of tears and straight up defeat and determination to have their parents come get them immediately and that decision is non-negotiable. As soon as they hear the word, for some reason, kids are basically going to be miserable and inconsolable and will end up finishing the week early. Usually, there was more than one homesick camper every week and kids have fragile emotions so if you were talking about one kid being homesick and another homesick kid heard you, that homesick kid might cross the threshold into debilitating homesick meltdown and then you have two unhappy campers. So that’s why homesickness = IT. The goal of camp is to make sure as many kids as possible have the most fun possible

Generally, because the goal of camp to be an awesome experience for everyone, the early departure of a camper was not the outcome we were hoping for. If you can get a kid to stay at camp for even another afternoon, they’ll generally be able to make it through the week. Some kids just have one acute episode of homesickness. Others go back and forth between happy and homesick all week but most of them are able to stay until Saturday. After being a counselor for even just one summer, you’re an expert at spotting the signs and symptoms of homesickness and intervening to make kids want to stay at camp and have fun.

It can be hard to be away from everything you know and all the security of your daily life and have to make new friends and do activities that you’ve never done before. We’ve all been there. So if you can empathize with the kid and have a heart-to-heart intervention talk and get him/her to want to stay, he/she will absolutely develop stronger coping skills and probably be better for it in terms of general life skills and also just be able to enjoy summer camp like every kid should.

And as an adult, homesickness really isn’t much different. You’re away from your support system and everyone you know. You have to make new friends. You have to do new and challenging things without the people who love you around to help you face those things. So when I told Mary that she had IT, she then asked what I would do if she was a camper and I was a counselor to help her not feel homesick.

Immediately, you have to figure out what, specifically is making the camper cry. Once you determine that he/she is crying because he/she is homesick and not because so-and-so was mean or because he/she was running down the hill and wiped out or because he/she can’t catch a crayfish and everyone else can, you then address why they’re homesick and whether it has to do with something they don’t like about camp.

The worst case scenario is that they actually do hate something about camp… like the food or the people in their cabin or team time or whatever. Because then you kind of have to come up with a solution to help them find food that they can eat or work out the issues with their cabinmates (girls are fucking vicious at all ages… that’s a FACT) or help them have fun playing 4-way soccer (which, for you readers not in the know, is 1 big game of soccer with multiple balls between 4 teams at once and 1 field divided into 4 sections… 1 for each team with 1 goal each).

I’ve gone to the kitchen in the middle of the afternoon and made a kid a PB&J because the kid didn’t want to eat anything earlier at lunch. And I’ve facilitated spur of the moment small group activities with follow-up debriefs about feelings/communicating/including other people/etc. And I’ve told a kid that he/she could be my 4-way soccer buddy and told him/her that we had a very special job to do together. Usually this “very special job” was some bullshit position like the “let’s try to keep counselor Nate from crossing the line into our goal territory” position which basically entailed running in a fashion that made the kid feel like he/she was contributing to the team effort and not sucking at sports. Lots of high fives. And the point is that you give them something to focus on, especially something that makes them feel important, to take their mind off the fact that they’re not having fun. And then they do have fun. Sometimes kids just need to feel like they’re special. And usually, because kids are crazy approval seekers, if you give one kid a special job or position or attention, other kids want a special job or position or attention from you too and before you know it, you have an army of kids who run wherever you run to keep Nate away from the goal territory and everyone has a good time and the kid who was unhappy doesn’t need you anymore because he/she is involved with other kids and having a good time with them.

All of these solutions work for the most part and unhappy campers become as happy as all the other campers. I did have one particularly vicious cabin that just would not get along though. Like 9 year old girls who tore each other apart consistently. We were on the challenge course for way longer than usual that week because everyone kept having meltdowns. Like anger meltdowns and frustration meltdowns and general unhappiness meltdowns, all with a shitload of tears. It was the week from hell. Finally, my co-counselor and I had to have that “Fuck this shit. Let’s just send them to free time because this is a non-constructive lost cause,” discussion… the ultimate failure for a camp counselor. The challenge course is about team-building and trust and communication and cooperation and personal growth and all that “peace, love, and happiness” summer camp stuff. But these kids were like the T-Rexes of elementary school. You can lead a T-Rex to water, but you can’t make it drink, I guess. One of my top 10 biggest feelings of failure happened during that challenge course afternoon. My co and I sat down across from each other at dinner and had that “WTF just happened?” non-verbal exchange. Granted, we knew it was going to be rough because those kids had problems with each other from night one basically. But usually, after the challenge course, things take a turn for the better in terms of people getting along. Because that’s kind of the whole point. Do new/fun things and get closer as a group. NOT THIS TIME. On Saturday morning, those girls hated each other just as much as they did on Sunday night. And probably even more, actually. They are the reason I want to have mostly boys if I’m ever a mom.

Goodness. That was a tangent. It’s still vivid in my brain even though it was almost 6 years ago. Some things are so terrible that you just never forget. That was also the week of excessive and negative animal interactions. The snake story is a tale for another time. If I ever have to answer an interview question about staying cool under pressure, I might use that experience. To this day, I have a serious problem with snakes, whereas I had absolutely no problem with them before. Prior to that week, I’d easily picked up snakes that got into the bathroom and put them outside and stuff like that. Now, my heart races even if I see them in cages at the zoo.

But ok… back to the homesickness. This is why I can never be a public speaker. People would always be like “WTF is she talking about? And what does this have to do with where we started?” I might start putting an outline at the beginning of these posts.

The best case scenario when assessing a homesick camper is finding out that there’s not anything specifically that he/she dislikes about camp, but rather that he/she just misses his/her mom or grandpa or dog or whoever. I previously mentioned the worst things to hear in the middle of the night from a camper. I need to add one to the list right now. “I miss my mom.” Usually they’re crying so hard they can hardly say the sentence. And in the middle of the night in a quiet cabin full of sleeping kids, this is a crisis.

But ok… so, you find out that the kid doesn’t hate camp but just misses something or someone about home. In this case, you don’t have to problem-solve. You can just skip straight to step 2 which is the final step. Smooth sailing. You basically just have to distract them. And most kids are absolutely easily distracted. It’s my favorite kid characteristic. Some people, when they’re discussing what types of kids they want to have or what type of kids they’re going to have, they list attributes like smart, social, athletic, imaginative, etc. The only thing I want my kids to be is easily distracted. Parenting will be soooo much easier.

You ask the kid with IT what they had fun doing that day or what they were looking forward to later that day or the next day or later in the week. If you make them start talking about how much they like camp, then they’ll forget how much they want to be home. And that works 90% of the time. During the other 10% of the time, when a kid is particularly stubborn (i.e. not easily distracted), you have to verbally express whatever positive stories and feelings and jokes and whatever you can come up with to make them laugh. Once they laugh, just one time, it’s basically game over in 99.99999% of cases. You’ve won. Crisis averted. The camper is gonna survive the homesickness and have a good time.

So, last night, when Mary asked what I would do if I was a counselor, I told her. And then we started talking about camp because she worked there when I did and became a counselor a few years later too. Incidentally, she was lifeguarding during the snake incident so she has PTSD from that too. Anyway, Mary obviously wasn’t going to be happy just by talking about what she likes about Utah because 1) she’s not really a dumb kid any more and knows what she’s feeling and why she’s feeling it so rationalization of the issue won’t help and 2) we always talk about what she likes about Utah and it always fails to cure her homesickness. So, I tricked her. Because adults, especially Mary, are sometimes just as easily distracted as kids. And instead of talking about Utah and how awesome it was, we talked about camp and relived some memories. Most of them regarding dealing with homesick campers. And that made her laugh and feel good about what she did as a counselor and so then we were able to have a happy conversation about other things and I was pretty sure it made her feel somewhat better so I felt like the intervention was successful.

Then she sent me this e-mail today that didn’t have anything in it aside from this depressing quote from season 1 of Mad Men.

In Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

Ugh. Now I realize that the intervention was actually a huge fail. The debilitating homesickness is still running rampant in her brain.

Mary = the vicious Junior girls from hell week. Resistant to behavioral changes. Not that it’s her fault. Nor was it the Junior girls’ fault. Sometimes you can try everything and still fail not because people don’t want to feel better but just because they can’t feel better no matter what.

And I’ve obviously had way too much psychiatric nursing practice in the past few weeks. My brain can really only think in terms of disorders and therapeutic techniques. 2 more days……….. Then I can be normal again.