Week Six: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (of 1858)

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Emerson lately – both by choice and because of school – and thinking about the really wild absolutes he espouses in Self-Reliance and the Divinity School Address and American Scholar. The thing about Transcendentalism as a movement is that it’s really sort of rooted in this concept of being a perfect person. I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with being perfect. When I was younger, I would make lists of my faults and try to figure out ways of overcoming them so I could be perfect. Then I focused on things like being popular or getting high honors, and now I focus on…shutting up so people won’t be annoyed by me and getting a 4.0. It’s a sad moment when you realize you’ve been working on the same faults for 20 years and haven’t really made much headway. I even looked to literature for inspiration back in the day too, although then it was Judy Blume and now it’s Alcott and Emerson (and a dozen others I haven’t even gotten into yet who don’t sound quite as good as “now it’s Alcott and Emerson hort hort hort CLEVERNESS”). I have wanted to achieve some mythical state of having my shit together for so long that it’s just like a part of my character now, or something. That’s what this entire blog is about – I’m not here to accept things about my own nature or learn to be kind to myself or any of that. I’m very kind to myself, to the point that it’s self-defeating. I’m here to stop being such a lazy asshole and learn some discipline. This is why the Transcendentalists, particularly Emerson but also the Alcotts, are a good resource. They do not mess around with ambiguity. No Nathaniel Hawthorne whining about whether isolated intellectualism is morally right. This is not a brotherhood; this is about looking inward, finding out what’s wrong with you, kicking its ass, and working really hard all the time so you will never feel like you’ve failed to live up to your own potential – “Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.” •••

As I’ve said before, my main problem is that I’m really tired. Also internet, but mainly the tired thing. I don’t understand people who have energy. I feel energetic for a maximum of one hour, after I’ve had coffee. Before I started drinking coffee, I could barely function until about noon. The rest of the day I spend wanting to sleep and then, when I’m allowed to sleep, remembering there was a thing I wanted to read. The usual advice doesn’t seem to work for me. Does it work for anyone? Are there people who are actually rejuvenated by a mid-afternoon snack of granola and blueberries? Are there people who can actually nap for only 15 minutes at a time and not crash for six hours and wake up in the middle of the night wondering what century it is? If they exist, I think I hate those people.

So I’ve been working on figuring out what things might actually give me energy. Here are a few:

1. Music, obviously. I’m going to post my energy playlist in the midweek update. Just know that it involves some embarrassment and a quite frankly alarming amount of songs about shooting people. Pumped up by the death of my enemies! Hell yeah! This is Sparta!

2. Telling myself I’ll regret doing (or not doing) something in a week, i.e. “M, in a week you will look back and regret not doing your lesson planning right now.” Sometimes that backfires and I go SO WHAT, BRAIN, but mostly it works.

3. ????

4. Profit.

I really have no other things. If I drink more than a cup of coffee a day, I get heart palpitations, and I’m pretty much convinced energy drinks are the Baby Boomers’ way of culling the herd so there will be more room on the planet for them to live forever, because that shit is going to kill my generation before we’re fifty. Exercise makes me sleepy. Speak to me through the ages, Louisa May Alcott! Or other energetic people! Does something just wind you up at the beginning of the day and you don’t wind down until bedtime? What is your secret, people who are compelled to do stuff other than sleep on weekends? Tell my kind of your wisdom.

Next week: Emerson and Pound and Hemingway (oh my).

*** There’s a footnote in my edition of Emerson’s essays that says, “In the first edition text (1841), Emerson wrote: ‘But do your thing.'” Clearly me and Emerson were meant to be bros even though I can’t imagine what he’d say about the state of my netflix queue.


Fun links:

The 5 best mothers in literature, including Marmee, who is apparently too perfect for other people as well.

What kind of reader are you?

The best times to buy things.

This Girl travels to Concord, Mass.


Week Five: a New Hope

Y’all, it’s been almost three weeks since school started. I’m getting into the routine, I just beat two really hard levels of Candy Crush and am now in first place, and I’m ready to take on this month/semester/remaining four months of 2013. Yes, it’s true that I spent most of the weekend opening my bank account, seeing that there’s still only $6.04 left in it, and screaming “FINE THEN WHO ASKED YOU ANYWAY.” I have backslid horribly this week, which was very busy and not at all fun. I even drank soda and then felt bad and then wondered if I had become Mormon because I felt bad.

Three things I haven’t done yet that I intended to do:

1. exercised every day

2. written every day

3. slept every day

Last week was a crappy week, so I’m not going to get down on myself for marathoning ‘New Girl’ until I started to contemplate giving myself quirky bangs (I brought myself down from the ledge on that one by looking at pictures of the last twenty times I cut my own hair), or cooing over pictures of Harry Styles on tumblr because whatever stop judging me. I’m pretty sure that if I accomplished the first thing on the list, the other two would follow. Past experience with regular exercise has taught me that once I get into the routine, everything else on my schedule sort of falls into place.

LMA has a few ideas on the benefits of regular exercise, mainly that it and fresh air are necessary to the spirit, and I have to admit this is one of the few areas in which I agree with her completely, despite the fact that I avoid getting sweaty whenever I can. It’s funny to me that at one point in time women were so strongly discouraged from exercising or even really going outside, and here I am a little over a hundred years later wondering if typing burns enough calories to justify not going for a walk (if I were able to type constantly for an hour, I’d burn 34 calories – sadly not enough). But being outside, seeing natural light, are key elements (for me, anyway) in avoiding that particular kind of depression that comes from being inactive and sitting in front of the computer all day. I really like sitting in front of the computer all day. I don’t really know how to change that. But I’ve been ignoring all the physical things that come with it, and I do vaguely remember that at one point in my past I didn’t spend 10+ hours a day watching netflix and contorting myself into increasingly weird positions to alleviate back and neck pain, carpal tunnel, and eye strain.

The next few weeks (months?) are going to be crazy busy. To motivate myself a little and to give an idea of what my schedule is like, I took a little picture of my google schedule. It is depressing. The white gaps are where I get to relax. And actually, now that I’m looking at it, that big chunk of relaxing time on Sunday is gone because that’s when laundry and apartment cleaning happens. OH SADNESS.

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 10.09.30 AM

Do you see that 6:00am exercise time? I don’t mind saying that the prospect of getting up at 6 and going for a walk is a little upsetting, because although I hate getting into bed, once I’m there I never want to leave.

Early-morning motivation, y’all – how do you do it? Someone yelling at you? Energetic music? I used to have my alarm ring tone set to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and now whenever I hear it I get a little traumatic shock. I set my brother’s ring tone to it for a while and had to change it because whenever he called I’d automatically scream and turn off the phone. This week I’m making an energy playlist and we’ll see if I can use it to get my sad self out of bed before the dog runs in and licks my face because she knows what the alarm means even if the human doesn’t.