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Blaugust 7: Midsummer


Now is the time when people start saying “Oh, summer’s almost over!” and of course, giving the impression (or stating outright) that they’re really bummed about it. If you go by school schedules then it’s true that summer break is over, but summer actually ends on/around September 20, so there is about a month and a half left of summer. Which is, technically, about half of summer remaining!

As a person whose schedule doesn’t actually change depending on the seasons, I think of their divisions in relation to the solstices and equinoxes. (Equinoces? If you know the actual correct plural, feel free to tell me in a comment!) None of that grade-school schedule crap remained ingrained.

And as a person whose schedule doesn’t change depending on the seasons, I don’t get especially excited about summer. I don’t have a pool to dip into whenever I feel like it and I don’t have air conditioning at home (and if I did I’d be cold all the time), and I don’t have the ability to take a nice big section of vacation days for a fun trip (I could take the days off, but since they’d be unpaid I wouldn’t have any money to go anywhere). Summer mostly means being too warm all the time, sweating a lot, and trying to make sure I put sunscreen at least over my tattoos, if not my exposed skin in general, all the time.

As it is now the middle of summer, I can say definitively that this summer is nothing too special. I finally got to wear a bathing suit that I bought last year (a pretty retro-style suit at about half price, thank you very much), and I’ve had some nice cold coffee and tea drinks. Other than that, it’s just one too-hot day after another that I’m trying to survive. I would like to say I’m excited for fall, but I really feel like the foliage has let me down for the past half-decade or so, before plunging into winter that’s either blizzards on top of blizzards or a continuous stream of gross, icy slush.

Maybe I’m just OVER New England. The romantic aspects of the seasons get completely overshadowed by the annoying ones and I’m left much less than happy. While I can look forward to wearing my leather jacket and favorite scarf again, I’m dreading the all-too-quick passage of the fall respite from hot weather into the salt-encrusted frustrations of winter.

(I will admit, though, that I have the MOST fabulous winter coat and it will be nice to take it out again. And I do generally enjoy Christmas.)

 

Monday Madness: I Should Be Hibernating


I should take a walk. I should go outside. It’s so sunny, the sky is so blue, and I really need a few minor grocery items. But now that it’s actually turned into winter and there’s snow on the ground, I am reluctant to go out…

 

…because of shoes.

I don’t have any good shoes to wear in the snow. I have some that are, at most, acceptable for a short walk, assuming I can get back inside and take them off when they inevitably become soaked with gross, salty snow (I live in the city so the snow gets gross very quickly). In fact, in every sense, preparing my legs to go out in winter weather is always the worst part, especially if I want to wear a dress. Socks won’t do because I’ll still be cold, but tights are not warm enough. And I’ve worn multiple layers of socks before and I have to say, I don’t enjoy it.

Also, as I’m still waiting on some income that has been delayed, it’s better to stay in. If I do go to the store to buy my bread and half and half, I’ll be tempted to get something else as well, and it won’t be something I really need, but it would be tasty and hard to turn down. So to avoid the inevitable extra expense of something I shouldn’t buy, I should stay at home.

But if I don’t buy bread, what am I going to do with all this jam?

 

What Could Be Better?


Having acquired quite a large amount (probably too much) of things that I don’t necessarily need, I’m starting to become more discerning in my acquisitions and thinking about the things I really feel like I need. What would actually improve my quality of life in general? Bit by bit I’m starting to collect those things, but there are some that in my experience are just really difficult.

1. The first is winter-specific, and that is thin, warm sweaters and tops. I am not really a fan of bulky or chunky sweaters that tend to abound in colder-climated places. They do absolutely nothing for my figure, and this is (sometimes disproportionately, I’m sure) important to me. The one really cozy sweater I have is not very bulky and hangs nicely. I have one or two more fitted, long-sleeved tops that are not bad for providing warmth, but I still have to layer them with another sweater on very cold days.

While I’m on the subject, I also am in desperate need of winter boots that look good with skirts or dresses. I mean actually weatherproof, will keep out snow and rain, but also moderately dressy and don’t make my pencil skirts look ridiculous. A few weeks ago I realized that the cold itself was not my only reason for wearing jeans every single day–it was because I don’t like how my boots look with skirts.

I need items that help me stick to my style in the winter instead of just defaulting to jeans and the same few nice tops or layers of cardigans, scarves, and tees all winter long. I’m too fancy for my winter clothes. I will have to start trying to fix this problem next winter.

2. This morning I found myself really wishing for a travel mug that does not change the flavor of my coffee, but also keeps it warm. Any time I take coffee in my metal ones, it tastes odd, very different from how it tastes in a normal mug. When I use my ceramic travel mug, which I bought because it had a picture of a peacock on it, the coffee is cold within 15 minutes. And, occasionally, the rubber top tastes weird to me. I shouldn’t have to taste the lid of my travel mug.

I don’t think this is such a problem for everyone else. It’s not something I’ve ever heard others complain about, from what I can recall. I also want one without a Starbucks logo, and made from eco-friendly materials. Any suggestions?

3. For at least ten years I have been searching for a great skincare routine. In the past few years my acne has subsided a bit as my skin naturally became a little less oily, but I still have that pesky “combination” skin–some oily areas, some a little dry at times, others normal. I need a collection of products that are effective but gentle–because I hated using cleansers and such that would completely dry out some areas of my face. I need a routine that does not need twelve different products every day (my maximum that I’m willing to deal with is 7 or so), but really improves my skin in all ways–smaller pores, no blackheads, fewer blemishes, that “glow” everyone’s always talking about. And then it also has to make pimples go away more quickly; I’m sick of getting these spots that hang around for several weeks before they finally start to diminish, sometimes even with regular use of a spot treatment.

My current skincare routine is okay, having abandoned the harsher acne cleansers I used to use for some gentle, more natural products. In many ways they work much better for me, but I feel like my pores are getting larger by the day. Supposedly this is common as you age, but I don’t want them to be so huge no matter how old I am, so I’ve got a few brands in mind to try. I worry, though, that by the time I find the products that really work, my skin will be changing again and I’ll have to restart the search.

4. This is something that I assume I won’t have to buy, but is very hard for me to find: A time management guide. I have some issues with time management, one of them being that I hate routines that have me doing the same exact thing every day. Minor changes don’t count (like “today I have yogurt for breakfast and tomorrow I’ll have eggs”). I start to get very restless and going back and forth to and from the same places and activities every day becomes monotonous before too long. So the most typical advice of mapping out your day and setting aside particular times to do things makes me resistant because I don’t like being so closely scheduled. I prefer freedom, flexibility, options. I need the room for spontaneity even if it’s only used once in a while, or I start to feel suffocated. So I need some sort of time management buddy that allows me to organize things without planning out each day precisely. I have yet to find one that works for me.

These are the most prominent in my mind right now. There are other things as well, but those are more of long-term goals. Like owning nice furniture that I actually want to look at. I like dark wood, probably because it always seems to look nicer. Even cheap dark wood looks like better quality than light wood. Of course, I’m hesitant to buy any furniture right now. Not only do I not have the money, but I don’t want to acquire so many large pieces in my current apartment. I’m still hoping I won’t be stuck there for that much longer.

So what about you? What things do you feel like you need to make your life better/easier/more enjoyable? I want to know!

Iced Coffee in the (Half-)Dead of Winter


On the bus, as I’m waiting for blood to circulate back to my numbed ears, I look out the window and I see people carrying iced coffees. Large ones. Perhaps I should rethink my theory that I’m insane. But, you know, maybe these people are made of volcanoes.

Ok, maybe I’m still insane…

But at least I’m not crazy enough to drink iced coffee when it’s this cold out.

This morning was day 1 of my new project: being able to wake up like a normal person. Yesterday, after sleeping way too late yet again, I searched for articles about how to wake up more easily. Some of the tips were stupid, but some were helpful, and the most helpful-sounding ones were repeated over and over again.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Take some time to “wind down” before bed (I’m giving it at least half an hour). That means turn off electronics, don’t eat anything heavy, maybe meditate.
  • Turn lights on/open blinds right when you wake up. I’ve always noticed this definitely does help, but now that the internet has confirmed my observation, it’s officially true.

The articles actually suggest setting your alarm every single day, including weekends… I’m not going to do that this weekend (at least, not both days), and not on Christmas, but I will probably start to do it soon. My winter-induced urge to hibernate does not match up with my daily life. Supposedly, if you stick to the routine, after a little while you’ll fall asleep and wake up naturally at those times.

I’m also going to try, for a little while, to reduce my caffeine intake after 2 or 3 pm. I’ve been known to drink coffee right up until sometimes 9pm, although usually I stop closer to 6 or 7. However, I think that until I get used to falling asleep earlier, having unnecessary caffeine in my system probably won’t be helpful.

I’m not a decaf person. I’ve rarely ever had it in my life. Does it taste different? Is it worth even getting it? Because I feel like it would change the flavor. Maybe it’s just the idea of it–if I didn’t know it was decaf, it would taste exactly the same. I want to do this experiment. Someone, please give me decaf coffee, tell me it’s regular, and we’ll see if I can tell the difference.

Probably not. But I do like to think I would.

That also means less black tea in the evenings. I have no idea what I’m going to drink now. Probably water and green or herbal teas.

However, as I might have mentioned, my policy is not to deprive myself of foods (apparently, this is the European way?) or drinks, so if I really want chai or coffee after work, I’ll get it. I just might hold off for this week, to try to get myself used to actually falling asleep.

If you’re like me, and you’re not a morning person at all in terms of energy, you might like to hear how this project goes. I’ll update occasionally as my sleep patterns change or don’t change, so pop back in next Monday or so.

In the meantime, avoid iced coffee if you live in New England (or Canada, or somewhere else where it’s almost winter). For me.

Monday Madness: Slushy Sidewalks, and Health Insurance (unrelated)


From my window on the third floor, I looked down and there was a nice white sheet on the ground. “Hey look, snow!” Then I went outside, about 1/2 hour later. “Oh… slush. Fuck.”

Snow would be ok. Light, powdery, fun snow. This is more in the freezing rain category, making sidewalks just slippery enough to be a potential problem, and causing giant icy puddles to form at the edge of every curb. This is disgusting, completely unacceptable weather.

Speaking of unacceptable weather, I haven’t managed to complete my health insurance application for the program that’s supposed to replace Commonwealth Care–and don’t even get me started on the fact that they can’t for some reason just transfer everyone over to the new service. You know, like this: “If you qualified for [this program] under the old policies, you will now have [this program].”

I keep thinking, people whose jobs provide them health insurance must have it so much easier, because their employers give them all the forms and whatnot. They don’t have to figure it out themselves.

One reason the application is taking so long is that the website is always having glitches. The first two times I went to do it, the whole thing just wouldn’t work. Now, every time the wording of a question makes me go, “No, neither of those actually apply,” I end up somehow getting kicked out of the application and then I have to go through it from the beginning.

If anyone reading this has managed to do the application and has any tips on how to complete the damn thing, please let me know.

Anyway, considering that you have to register and pay, not just do the application, by the 23rd in order to have insurance in January, it’s looking more and more like I’m getting screwed out of health insurance for the beginning of next year. By a fucking website.

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