Selfishness & Priorities

In interviews and on some versions on my resume, I mention that one of my valuable skills is being able to prioritize tasks. In an objective sense, this is true. Give me a bunch of things that need to get done, and I have no problem deciding how and when to do the tasks. Four new hire files to audit? Personal development plan that needs revision? Three inch stack of motor vehicle reports to audit? Quality check corrections? Code cleanup for a client? Compiling and organizing information for the OneNote notebook on electronic on-board recorders? Revise and distribute meeting notes from the morning’s conference call? It will all get done. (For the record: quality check corrections, meeting notes, two new hires, half the motor vehicle reports, code cleanup, two new hires, last half of motor vehicle reports, OneNote project and personal development plan if time allows.)

Look at this portion of my cubicle and be impressed.

Look at this portion of my cubicle and be impressed.

Short-term planning is not an issue for me. Long-term planning is difficult. My typical planning skills don’t translate to my life-planning. I realized this today, when I got home after 7, nearly too tired to shower or eat.

I will be getting my own apartment in June, and I was made aware of the fact that I have virtually no savings. So, I decided to pick up some extra hours at work to store some money away for when I’ll be living without a roommate. I’ll need to get a few pieces of furniture, a set of pans, possibly a television, and probably a dozen odds and ends I won’t think of until my toilet’s clogged and I’m wondering how I could be so stupid to live without a plunger. Also, I’d like to get a car that was made post-Y2k.

Hush. It was a straight road. 150,000mi deserves a damn picture because Facebook.

Hush. It was a straight road. 150,000mi deserves a damn picture because Facebook.

I’m still training for that 5k I mentioned a few weeks back, so I was at the gym for an hour. My 5k time is still hovering right around 36ish minutes since I slacked off for a couple weeks. I try to run more if I can, but I’m not always motivated.

Hey self! You're too slow.

Hey self, you’re too slow.

When I got home, I wanted to read the book on Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard was an evil, manipulative genius. Going Clear is sensational.). Then I wanted to respond to my penpal’s letter I received late last week. Then I got a shiver from my ceiling fan cooling the sweat on my back, so I was reminded I needed to shower. Then my stomach grumbled and I realized I needed to make something for dinner. Then I remembered a new episode of New Girl was on and I wanted to watch that. Then I remembered the two essays I still have to write for a scholarship I’m applying for.

Then I remembered I want to write. I want to blog more. I want to churn out new content on a regular basis. But I also want to revisit drafts I’ve allowed to pile up for the last year. I want to write that one essay on maturity that’s been bouncing around my head for two years. I started wondering what I was doing with my life. And then Vince called.

Libraries are great for blogging abotu your childhood journals.

Libraries are great for blogging about your childhood journals.

What do I want more? A cute apartment? A new car? A final draft of those essays? A warm meal? The ability to run 5k in less than 38 minutes without wanting to hurl afterward? A mutually fulfilling relationship? Another finished book? My vibrato and bow hold back?

I like to confuse my upstairs neighbor by quickly alternating between Bach, irish jigs, and bluegrass waltzes.

I like to confuse my upstairs neighbor by quickly alternating between Bach, irish jigs, bluegrass waltzes, and classic Frank Sinatra tunes.

I try to accomplish the big things I feel I can control, which usually leaves the smaller things to fall to the side. As a result, I work too much and save my personal pleasures like writing, playing violin, and reading for that ever-elusive “later.”

It should be a law that Sunday mornings are meant for paper books and breakfast in bed.

It should be a law that Sunday mornings are for paper books & breakfast in bed.

I try to keep things in perspective when I plan my day: hitting my 5k goal isn’t something I can just decide to do one day. It takes time, a lot of miles put in on the treadmill, and just the right selection of songs on Spotify. Driving a decent car and furnishing my first sans-roommate living quarters will take money I don’t currently have and since overtime is available, I need to take advantage of it.

As much as I’d like to write more, it maintains an air of abstraction. It will never be done. No matter how great a piece ends up, there will always be more to write. I’ll never say, “Okay, I’ve done all the writing. I can move onto all the violin-playing, and then onto all the book-reading.”

What I’m going through right now is too selfish to be adulthood. An adult is able to provide support and affection for her family. An adult selflessly spends time with a partner. An adult doesn’t get upset when a day goes by without reading. An adult puts others’ needs before her own.

I know that at 25 I am a woman for all intents and purposes, but my obsession with my own  whims almost certainly categorizes me as a girl.

I’m not sure if I should feel bad about that.

Somehow, I’m terrible at shavasana.

This morning I went to yoga. I woke up feeling optimistic and fresh-headed, mostly because of the sunshine and a good night of sleep. I am still feeling like my body is made of rusted tin, so I figured yoga would either be the perfect or absolute worst way to spend my morning.

It turned out to be a mix of both. I took a few yoga classes when I lived in Milwaukee. The first one was taught by a ballet dancer who was obviously incredibly flexible and did each pose so accurately she could have been the model for a yoga coffee table book. Fortunately, she was also an excellent teacher who made sure to explain each pose very thoroughly, telling us which muscles to engage and which ones should be void of tension. I actually felt like a got a workout in her class. I was usually sore on the days that followed the class, realizing I could engage muscles I had never acknowledged. It was sort of like discovering my body and what it was capable of.

I also felt much more balanced. The I used to think that the whole body-spirit balance was for crazy new-agers who stink of patchouli and incense, surviving on jicamas and green tea, swearing that animal protein is full of evil. But I’ve realized over the last few months that it’s pretty important. I feel so much better when I’m active and taking care of myself. If I spend a few weeks with my butt on the couch, my whole outlook changes. The only thing that seems in the realm of possibility is continuing to watch Netflix and eating bowls of cereal. My outlook turns negative and I say no to everything because none of it seems worth the effort. Then somehow a switch is flipped and I get sick of the lethargy and go for a bike ride or something. That’s when things turn around – I’m more excited about life, days seem brighter and I get upset that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want.

It comes down to something very simple that I don’t acknowledge as much as I should: physical activity like exercise, excitement, love, and sex raises endorphins. This makes a person feel good. It gives you a feeling of euphoria. Which might explain why Michelle Obama Arms continues to work out despite the fact that she looks amazing.

What I like about yoga is that it feels like an hour of stretching. You’re encouraged to turn inward, focusing on your breath and working at your own pace, coordinating the poses in sun salutations with your inhales and exhales. Today, I remembered the one thing I struggled with the most while I was in classes at Milwaukee: calming my mind in order to be fully engaged in the poses. The ballet dancer used to tell us that the goal of shavasana (the corpse pose at the end of a session, where the body recovers and your mind, body, and spirit are rejuvenated) was to have a completely blank mind. We worked during the class to breath deeply, imagining all the stresses and worries being expelled with each exhale. During shavasana, I was usually aware that my mind was noisy. I was distracted by the buses starting and stopping in front of the building, how if I moved my palm slightly on my mat, it made that soft sticky sound, and that my breath was much more shallow than I realized. There were only a few times when I felt truly at peace and clear-headed during shavasana. And when that happened, it was amazing. Those were the best classes.

I didn’t achieve a clear head during yoga today. I’m assuming it was because it’s been years since I’ve done a downward dog or a sun salutation. I don’t think I turned inward once. I think it was because it was a new situation. I was aware of the smallness of the fitness studio and began to wonder how they held classes in a such a small space. Then I noticed the trees outside and realized it was windier than I remebered. And the cars on the street – they were driving fast, offering a sharp contrast to the stillness of the bodies in the room. And the whispery flute music playing over the speakers was distracting since every other song seemed to be a variation on Pachelbel’s canon. At the end of the class, my body felt much better, but my head was still all over the place.

It was so unsatisfying. I had woken up with such a clear head, but as the morning had worn on, it had gotten cluttered by the day’s plans and things that needed to get done. I felt off balance in such a strange way – much like when your body is exhausted and your mind is racing or vice versa (which is worse in my opinion) – when you’re mentally exhausted but your body is awake.

I really did enjoy it though. I’d like to do this more regularly. Ideally I would like to do it daily, but I doubt that will happen. I’ll shoot for a couple times a week at least, then maybe it will just become a part of my day on it’s own.

Anyway, namaste from my couch to you, wherever you are.

Michelle Obama Arms

Tonight Katie and I went to a strength training class. It was further proof that I have almost no arm or core strength.

This time, the instructor was male. He was a small-built man with tight muscles and small tattoo on the inside of his forearm. He seemed nice enough. He welcomed us as he put on his headset – which I found funny since there were only five people in the class tonight, but whatever – and told us we would be doing a circuit workout with three stations.

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So, other than Katie and I, there was a young mother trying to lose baby weight, a middle-aged woman, and a fifty-something woman with Michelle Obama arms.

Each station lasted twelve minutes and consisted of six exercises. The first was arms – chest presses, rows, curls, something called an Arnold press, and squat presses. Because I have almost no arm strength and have very little willpower, I thought I would grab 10lb weights. I started out with chest presses, only to do three reps before Tattoo Headset came over and handed me 15lb weights. “You can do more,” he said. “Ten pounds isn’t allowed here.”

“But I have no arm strength!” I protested.

“You’ll get it,” he barked before also swapping Katie’s weights and then harassing the middle-aged woman.

I think I should have stayed with the 10lb weights. Tattoo Headset kept yelling about form and each time he yelled, my form got worse.

Michelle Obama Arms was a champ with perfect form and Tattoo Headset kept complimenting her. I wanted to tell her to go home. She was done working out. Like, done working out for her life. She was in the best shape a woman her age could hope for and could rock a sleeveless dress.

Then we had to do these exercises around these massive tractor wheels. I don’t know if you know about tractor wheels, but when lying on the side, they’re roughly four feet tall. Tattoo Headset told us to step up with kettlebells (EIGHTEEN GODDAMN POUNDS) to the beat of the music – which was roughly 210bpm. And we had to keep our bodies straight when we stood on the wheel. Yeah, my body was not cooperating. My abs hurt more than anything else by that point, so it was almost impossible to stand straight. I would pause briefly to compose myself (re: let my muscles stop quivering), and he would yell, “KEEP GOING! MAKE IT WORK! STAY STRONG! COME ON, GUYS!” I had no center of gravity. At one point, I almost fell into the tire and then back out of the tire.

When I gracefully stumbled with the kettlebell prepared to break my fall, Tattoo Headset just told me not to do that. In fact, he said to pretend it was lava. Right. Like my body would stop falling just because there was pretend lava in the middle of the tire.

While I was falling into the tire, Michelle Obama Arms was stepping up like a champ, hardly breaking a sweat. Bitch.

On the way home, Katie said she hated the instructor. She’s one of the most stubborn people I know, so it doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t like him swapping her weights or telling her what to do. But I appreciated his insistence. As I’ve already stated, I don’t have much willpower, so when I work out, I tend to slow down when it gets hard, instead of pushing through. So, even though I almost fell into a tire and will most likely not be able to pick up a folder tomorrow at work, I feel good.

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Now I’m going to go make this face in and flaunt my imaginary Michelle Obama arms.

I should thank Tattoo Headset for making me use the 15lb weights.