Thoughts After My Very First Barre Class

My bum is sore.

I’ve tried to go to various gyms on and off over the past few years, and I always tend to stick to the elliptical and zone out while I just get through it. I’ve been looking into getting a membership to a class based program, but time constraints due to work and school prevented that, and it’s so expensive.

However, I finally got funded by the university, and hopefully this means that some of the money that used to go to tuition can be rerouted to paying for barre class.

The studio I want to go to offers a complimentary class if you sit through a brief “orientation” which is basically the same stuff that’s on the website. So I did that, and then attended the barre class immediately following.

It was intense. But not how I was expecting. It involved a lot of small movements, mostly on a yoga mat. It’s like if hot yoga and pilates had a baby. In a 98.6 degree room. Good gravy that studio was hot. I don’t understand why people try to put yoga in a hot room. My people invented yoga, and let me tell you, the OG yogis did it on a beach at dawn wearing linen skirts.

The small movements left me shaking. It was surprising, because it looked super easy, but was a pretty tough work out, especially since it was my first time. I’m fairly flexible, but a lot of the stretches were new to me and I wasn’t able to do them all the way. I was also the heaviest person in the room. I felt awkward in front of the mirrors, especially since the ladies on either side of me looked like they’d be blown away if the instructor turned the fans on. So I avoided looking in the mirror.

Something else that was difficult was doing anything that relied on resting any weight on my right wrist or ankle, which I hurt nearly ten years ago in an old soccer related injury. I tried my best to work around it, but I can definitely feel both two hours later.

Overall I enjoyed it, and if my budget allows, I’d like to continue going.

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Feeling Like an Accident and Other Problems with Inferiority

Being in grad school is really weird.

For one, many of the people I graduated high school and undergrad with are moving on with their lives, getting Real Adult Jobs and starting families, while I’m still in school, running on an academic schedule, and trying to find a job that lets me go sit in the stats lab for hours at a time trying to get a handle on the math class I didn’t actually want to take.

But mostly, it’s because my entire academic career so far has felt like an accident. Like I ended up in this amazing PhD program because someone put my name in the wrong pile and now I’m just muddling along trying to trick people into thinking that I actually am smart. It might be because my cohort is very talented, and of them, I am the only one not funded by the university. I’m isolated from them except for when we’re in class, and I miss out on the collaboration and discussion they have that comes from sitting in the same office all day. So when we do get to class, they’re all on the same page, and I’m a chapter behind. When we discuss things in class I approach it from one angle and that angle is wrong because everyone else has decided on it before they even got to class.

Part of it might be because I took different classes from them last semester. I did my master’s degree at this same university so some of the core classes at the PhD level, I had already finished, and needed to substitute different ones. So they had an entire extra semester to get to know each other. They got an extra five months to discuss ideas and study together, while I was working off campus, a full twenty-five miles away. So even if they tell me about an impromptu study session now (they don’t), I can’t make it because by the time I get there, they’ve moved on. They can spend their entire day on campus focusing on school, while I need to have a job and schedule my day around commuting.

I spend most of my time on campus wandering around looking for a place to study. I don’t have access to the office, so I need to find an abandoned corner somewhere in the library to get my work done, which has left me feeling like I’m not actually part of the program, like I don’t actually belong there. And that’s a terrible feeling, the last time I felt this way I was kicked out of law school and just lost for six months.

I am tired. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong, like I have to smile and go along with things because everyone else came to a decision without me, and I’m tired of pretending I’m having fun.

But it’s not going to stop me, because I’m pretty damn smart, so fuck that shit, I have work to do.

 

Something exciting.

So as some of you (two of you) knew already, towards the end of last fall semester and beginning of this spring semester I was putting together my application packet for the criminology PhD program at the university I go to. And this morning I got my admission decision.

I’m in! I’m starting in the PhD program this fall, upon completion of my master’s thesis over summer. I’m so excited, and a little scared. But mostly excited.

“Ballerinas don’t eat Popsicles,” and other ways people have told me I’m fat.

When I was four, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was freaking obsessed. I would twirl around everywhere, and even demanded a ballerina costume for Halloween. I would tell anyone who would listen how I was going to be a ballerina when I grew up.

Until someone reasonably important to me said I couldn’t. Because I liked to eat Popsicles. And ballerinas were thin, which I wasn’t, even at four, and obviously that meant they didn’t eat Popsicles. And since I liked to eat Popsicles, I couldn’t be a ballerina.

I’ve been heavier than I should be since I was a toddler. Around three is when my weight started “exploding,” apparently.

In elementary school, it didn’t seem like a very big deal. I was running and playing with all the other kids, and no one said anything about my size. Intermediate school was the first time I actually felt different, and it wasn’t because we had just moved to a new school district, of which I was the entirety of the Indian student population. I sat next to this kid in my advanced language arts class in the fourth grade, and we had those planners where you wrote down you height and weight and eye color. Even then, I knew to lie, so instead of putting my actual weight, I decided on a “safe” number, which was two digits instead of the three I hit in the third grade. I settled on 99. This kid who sat next to me glanced at my planner, saw my weight, and laughed, going “Really?!” in that derisive way only ten year old boys can do. It stung. Clearly still does, it’s been fourteen years and I’m still thinking about it.

Middle school I definitely felt different. All the rest of the girls were thinner than me, could fit into cute dresses for the eighth grade dance, and I had to get something from the women’s section at Dillards. It was black and shapeless and had these awful frills on the shoulder.

And of course high school was rough. We started learning about BMI’s in health class and every time the teacher mentioned overweight, I caught that barely concealed glance. From not just the teacher, the class in general. Whoever was stuck sitting next to me would shift uncomfortably. Like fat was contagious. And the dances sucked. My mom made my dress for freshman homecoming, because no matter where we looked, we couldn’t find one that fit me and that looked cute enough for a very picky fourteen year old. The dress was pretty, but it didn’t matter, I didn’t have a date. I spent that dance and every other one until prom sitting in a corner fiddling with my bag until the lights came up and it was time to leave.

But high school came with a diagnosis, of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, of which weight gain and difficulty losing weight was a symptom. That didn’t make it any easier, and literally the only way to control PCOS is to lose weight, but the PCOS makes it hard to lose weight. There’s no winning there.

University was different. I was away from home and could actually control exactly what I ate. Which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. Because while I loved eating fruits and vegetables and could buy and eat all of the fruits and vegetables that I could possibly want, I could also restrict as many calories as I wanted. This spiraled to a nasty point my third and last year at school, where I was limiting myself to less than 500 calories a day, and dropping five pounds every two weeks, and hating myself every single day, but really, no one could tell, because hey, I was still fat.

I had a series of strange conversations that I don’t want to revisit from various people in my life, who all felt the urge to remind me that I was fat, and also, apparently I would never date anyone/be in a relationship unless I lost a significant amount of weight. And while so far that’s held true, that’s not really something I needed to hear at any point, in that sort of accusing tone like I was being fat on purpose.

And I’m still the fat girl at the gym, getting weird looks from the stick thin girls on the elliptical. As if a prerequisite of going to the gym is to be small starting out. It’s heartbreaking and I hate going but I know I need to because the only thing that runs in my family is heart disease and diabetes and like hell I’m going down that path. I’m better about eating now, but I still have days where I have to essentially force myself to eat something, even though I feel horrible and my brain is trying to convince me I don’t deserve to have breakfast. Going to the gym is a terrible, horrible exercise in hating everything, but luckily I have Desiree to send whiny texts to before and after I work out, about that weird middle aged dude who wears too much cologne and collared shirts while working out or the crazy cat lady who tries dancing on the stairstepper.

Adulting is hard.

How to work from home and not hate yourself.

When I’m not chasing a toddler and teeny baby around and basically getting paid to play all day, I mostly work from home, since both my classes and thesis work are online and I work on blog posts from my kitchen. And I tend to get off track a lot, so I find myself two days before a deadline, panicking and hating myself for putting it off for so long. So I decided to make a list (because apparently I love making lists, no joke) of ways to work from home and not end up hating every decision you’ve ever made so far.

Have a set schedule.

Make sure this includes the end of the work day. It’s tempting to just work all the time or into the night, especially if there’s a deadline to meet. I found that sticking to a routine is helpful, which includes dragging myself out of bed at around the same time every day. For me, since I’m not much of a morning person, this is around 9:00am, and I’m at my desk by 10:00am. Now, since I nanny during the day, I’m not working straight through until the evening. I have to leave my house by 11:30am, so I work for a solid hour and a half, and then when I come back around 1:30pm, I have a solid chunk of three to four hours until I have to leave again. This seems weird and difficult in print, but it works for me because my attention span is mostly non-existent, so I get to pause and change what I’m up to every so often. This way, I can bang out a blog post in the morning, then do schoolwork and shoot pictures for the next blog post in the afternoon. I end my workday when I get done with nannying in the evenings, usually around 6:30 or 7:00. I go straight from the family’s house to the gym, and by the time I get home I’m exhausted enough to start winding down for the day.

Get dressed for the day.

This sounds silly, but when you stay in your pajamas all day, you work like you’re in your pajamas all day. At the absolute least, change from pajama pants to sweatpants. You don’t need to get all made up and business casual, but the physical act of changing from things you sleep in to things you work in helps change your mindset to “I’m at work now.”

Treat it like you’re not home.

For me, this means holing up in my study and not coming out unless it’s a set break. It’s like I’m working anywhere else, I can’t just get up and wander. I also don’t let myself keep other crafts and fun things on my desk unless I’m “officially” not working, because I get distracted so easily.

The most important thing about this is don’t let anyone use your time. Don’t let anyone say “but you’re home all day anyways!” and expect you to make appointments and run errands for them. That is a waste of your time. You are working. You are not a personal assistant, you are not someone’s errand boy/girl, you are not just sitting on your ass watching Netflix and eating cookies. You’re trying to get shit done and that can’t happen if you’re running all over town for someone else.

Make a to-do list.

This varies from person to person, but I like having a physical piece of paper with everything I need to get done sitting right on my desk. I make it as detailed as possible, with titles of blog posts I’m going to write and subject matter of emails I have to send. It helps me plan out my day, and keeps me on track in the limited amount of hours I have on my desk. Crossing things out also helps keep me from feeling like I’m stagnating at home, because I am very clearly getting shit done.

Hopefully this list helps, I know people work differently and somethings that work for me may not work for someone else. As always, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

Friends that Humor You are an Invaluable Blessing.

For whatever reason, and it’s probably a stupid reason, I hate talking on the phone. It makes me anxious and panicky. Bad things happen when someone calls me. It’s always bad news or I’m always in trouble. So phone calls are for emergencies only. Like if you’re in a restaurant and you’re not sure if you’ll like green curry so you call your Indian friend to ask a question about Thai food. Ahem. Desiree.

Since I hate talking on the phone, I text all the time, which makes me grateful for the unlimited texting plan my dad bought when I was fourteen and texting was really starting to pick up. Which means most of the conversations I have are saved forever (or thirty days) on my phone, and some of them are hilarious.

For example, Desiree and I were discussing our plans for actual adulthood, as well as her upcoming wedding.

Me: Don’t worry, I’ll come save you [when you get taken hostage by terrorists]*

Desiree: Heck you better be with me to start with!

Me: Fiiiine, but who’s gonna rescue us when we inevitably run our mouths?

Desiree: Uhhh…J’s trying to get into flight school, maybe in a pinch he’ll get us?

Me: Better put that in your vows, “In case of kidnapping, I’ll come get you.”

Desiree: “As a side note, if I choose to go help the orphans you have to swear you’ll come save me from the people I piss off.”

Me: “Forsake all others and save me from terrorists.”

Boom. Vows written.You’re welcome.

I am a painfully shy and awkward person, and Desiree is the exact opposite, and somehow by sitting next to each other in Arabic class and living down the hall and studying together, she’s become one of my best friends in the world. When something inevitably goes wrong in my life and everyone else is telling me it’s not that bad, Desiree will agree with me that it is the worst thing ever, and that the person/entity behind it needs to be disappeared. She humors my crazy notions about somehow living abroad and traveling to cool places, and will sift through the myriad of dissertation-length emails I send her in which I’m basically talking to myself about planning out my life. She understands my compulsive need to plan things out, even if the thing being planned out is the hostile takeover of a small island nation. And I would totally rescue her from terrorists.**

*Not “if,” “when.”

**Just kidding. I’d be a hostage with her and our whiny chattering would make them set us free just for some goddamn peace and quiet.

10 Things I Was Able to Do Because I Got Dismissed from Law School

Not gonna lie, I’m still a little sour about being dismissed from law school. I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid, and let’s be real, I had been in school since I was three so I didn’t know what else to do with myself. But I made myself sit down last night, and think of things that I was able to do since I got dismissed.

1. Go to all of my brother’s events his senior year of high school. 

My brother is painfully smart and talented. To the point where he did jazz band, got his Eagle rank for Boy Scouts, made Phi Beta Kappa, the works. And everything he did had its own little ceremony, which I would have missed if I was still in Baltimore. I don’t get much time to spend with my brother, so it was nice going. I even made it to his high school graduation. Which was kinda weird, I have to admit.

2. Move to Texas and see all my friends.

I moved to Texas to start grad school, and as a result was a drivable distance from most of my friends from OU. I was able to drive up to see them, and they came down to see me, and most importantly, they’re coming down for OU/tx weekend. For the last few years in undergrad and while I was in Baltimore, I was growing apart from my high school friends, because not only was I always hundreds of miles away, but our interests were diverging, and no one was really making an effort to meet up anymore. And that’s okay. People grow up. But for a while, I felt like I had no friends. But now my friends are close, or they get on Skype/Google Hangouts often enough, even though they decided to go to grad school in Germany (*cough*Anna*cough).

3. Meet the cutest toddler ever.

In January I started a nanny job, watching the sweetest little girl. She’s such a happy little person, and I’m so glad she’s a part of my life. With her, I get to go to the playground and library and aquarium and take a break from being an adult and play for a little bit. And now she has the most adorable baby brother, and is so excited to be a big sister.

4. Spend time with my family.

While I was doing my undergrad, I was in Oklahoma, and my family was in Ohio, and I didn’t go home much, because going home for a weekend meant spending most of the time in airports, and was super expensive. But I was able to spend a lot of extra time with both my parents, and while at times it felt like I was a kid again, it was nice being around them.

5. Be happy.

This is important. I was miserable the entire time I was in Baltimore. I felt lost, behind, and unwanted. Not just in the law building, but in the city as a whole. I had zero friends, didn’t get along too great with my roommates, and cried basically all the time. Getting out of that environment was fantastic for me.

6. Started grad school.

When I started my current program, I actually felt like I belonged. I felt smart again, which was great, and the professors and other students are all so supportive of everyone. If someone gets published, the department head sends out an email and while it’s annoying at the time, it’s really sweet how the professors will hit “reply all” and send heartfelt congratulations. And they genuinely care about helping everyone, and take time to sit down and talk to students. When I was transitioning from the non-degree program into the full master’s program, one of my professors was the Associate Dean of grad students, about to move to a position in the Provost’s office, and had just accepted a vice presidency in ACJS, but she took time out to pull me into her office and tell me to quit panicking, write me a rec letter that got me accepted before I even submitted the application, and gave me a hug. If I had asked my torts professor to give me a hug, she’d have rolled her eyes and laughed while plotting to cold call me seventeen times the next class.

7. Cook more.

In Baltimore I was eating either straight up spinach or gluten free spaghetti almost every night. Not only because of the workload, but because I just didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen. Part of this was avoiding my roommates, but also because I just didn’t care. I was miserable, so I honestly could not give a shit about what I put into my body. Now I’m able to plan out healthy meals, and actually cook fun things. Yesterday for dinner I made roasted vegetables, and they turned out amazingly.

8. Create this blog.

The very first post on this blog is about how I got kicked out of law school. This was started as an outlet, as a way for me to vent because I had no one to vent too. That’s changed, and this project has evolved over the past year and a half. Which I’m proud of.

9. Research things I’m actually interested in.

In Baltimore my life revolved around law, and that was pretty boring. That should’ve been my first clue that law school wasn’t for me. I just wasn’t interested in anything. But now I get to spend time reading about narcoterrorism and drug trafficking and it counts as doing work. So the emails full of links to bbc.com with titles involving terrorist is totally legit graduate research, Desiree.

10. Drive on the highway without panicking.

For whatever reason, I used to be awful at driving on the highway. I would avoid it at all costs, and white knuckle it the entire way. I once pulled over on the side of the highway passing through Indianapolis during rush hour to make my dad drive because I just could not handle it. But now I’m totally fine. I take the turnpike to school every week and basically going anywhere in Texas requires you to go on the highway for at least ten miles because nothing is within a reasonable distance around here. So I got used to it, and now I only shriek a little bit when a semi truck gets too close to my lane.

Ultimately, I think I’m a better person now than I would have been if I had been allowed to stay in law school. I’m happier, and that’s what counts.

Eavesdropping in coffee shops.

I packed up all my school stuff this morning because I just could not concentrate at home, being super stir crazy and constantly distracted by every little noise (the neighbors were running what sounded like a massive fart machine in their driveway), and set out in the direction of a coffee shop with very specific criteria as to what sort of coffee shop it was going to be. It had to have a lot of tea on the menu, because milk does bad things to my innards and I haven’t quite acquired a taste for black coffee. They had to have wifi, and it had to be free because I am cheap. And it had to be super sunshiny inside because that’s the sort of mood I’m in. I don’t want to sit in sunshine, but I want to sit near sunshine. The first coffee shop would have been promising, and it even had gluten free pastries, but no tea, and the barista looked at me funny when I asked if they had lactose free milk. Whoops.

So I’m at a Starbucks, guys. That’s basically what this post is boiling down to. I packed up all my shit and drove to a Starbucks to study but instead I’m pretty much doing a running commentary about the people around me. At the next table there’s a guy being interviewed for a job here and that’s reminding me of the three interviews I did for Starbucks (but never got hired) and he seems to be doing a lot better than I ever did so good for you, dude. I hope you get the job. Behind me there’s a small group of maybe college freshmen (they look super young but it’s noon on a Thursday so they can’t be in high school) girls and they’re discussing another girl’s Instagram and apparently she posts too many selfies and now they’re talking about what an appropriate amount of selfies is. Whatever, man. If you think you look good, and you’re feeling about yourself, take that selfie.

I think I’m avoiding my statistics homework.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes I get caught up in school, or life in general, and forget to do things for myself. This doesn’t mean things like eat, sleep, or shower, but things that would make me happy, like buying books or painting my nails.

This is a general reminder to take care of yourselves. Take a break from studying all the time, and take a bubble bath. If, like me, you get bored sitting in the bath for more than ten minutes, do something else, but make sure it’s for yourself. I like painting my nails. Even if it takes me a few tries to settle on a color.

Today I woke up feeling super overwhelmed with everything, and after I decided to stop sobbing in my bed, I got up,put on pants (okay, leggings) and went to a bookstore and just wandered. Even though I couldn’t find the book I was after, I felt better. Then I went to another store, and found the book, plus a lipstick. Even though I don’t wear lipstick that often, it made me happy. And now I’m painting my nails. I decided on a deep dark burgundy, because it’s the first day of fall. It’s 91 degrees in Texas, but technically fall.

So go do something fun. Play with your dog, cuddle a cat, whatever makes you happy. Don’t worry about anyone else for an hour or two.