Sunday, March 29, 2009
I’ve been thinking a lot about in the past few weeks about the general direction I’d like my life to take. As previously mentioned, I’ve been erratic and felt off-base for the last few months. Screwball prior year aside, I think some of it has to do with where I am. For the last four years my main overarching goal has been to get through law school, graduate, pass the bar and find a job I enjoy.
I made it through; I succeeded at every task, and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. My entire life I have always had some kind of big challenge looming on the horizon.
I’d like to advance at my job, but that will take time, and to be honest, I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. I’ve only been there a few months and before I start to make any long-term goals I really need to learn more about the industry and the portion related to my work.
I turn 34 in about two months. Given my rapidly-decreasing fertility I should probably decide if I want children and how much I want them. All I’ve been able to come up with is that I definitively do not want them now, am not certain if I will want them later, and would *strongly* prefer to raise them with someone else as opposed to on my own.
In the relationship realm, I’m ready for something committed and long-term (this was a big step for me to get to), but I haven’t yet decided how I feel about marriage.
That goal of owning a house? See above stuff about job. It’s all part of the package.
So that was what first brought quitting to mind. I needed a challenge – something huge to take my mind off of other things that are out of my control, something that was ongoing, and something that would benefit me in a lot of different ways. What I mean is:
Quitting is good for my job because I’ll be at my desk more often, ie more "face-time".
Quitting is good for my finances because it saves me money.
Quitting is good for my love life…because so many guys won’t even approach a smoker. (Jerks!)
Quitting is good for my health because I’ll breathe easier.
Quitting is good for my appearance because my skin won’t be as dry and I’ll have fewer wrinkles over the long term.
Quitting is good for everything by making me sleep better.
Oh, and supposedly I’ll live longer and stuff.
So see: health, beauty, fitness, career, love. Talk about all-encompassing.
Ok, so there was my big challenge with a multitude of results. The problem with quitting smoking is that you really have to want to quit. You can’t just *decide* to do it.
So I thought about all of the reasons that I started smoking and none of them seemed to still apply. I’m no longer socially retarded (most of the time) and can hold a conversation when I desire or need. The whole tough/less innocent/whatever image is no longer necessary. These days, I think most people are aware of the fact that I can kick their ass, and if anything, people probably perceive me as more of a “bad-girl” than I actually am.
So if that was true than why was I smoking? Habit? Addiction? I thought about this for quite awhile. When I stopped to smoke a cigarette, I noted how I was feeling. It was the usual stuff:
• when I was nervous;
• when I was bored;
• when I was upset.
I never really could come up with a reason though, but I kept thinking about it and the reasons that people smoke. Somewhere I came up with a theory about smoking. I don’t know if it’s why I smoked or not, but one day smoking just started to look to me like a form of self-injury. This upset me greatly because for all of my childhood and part of my adult life, I didn’t like myself. In fact, I hated myself. Intensely. I thought I was a bad person who deserved bad things in life. Now in hindsight that was completely untrue, but it was what it was. It took a very long time to overcome and it was something I worked really hard at.
When viewed through this lens, smoking now seemed to be a sort of self-imposed punishment and it didn’t look any different than the people who get upset and go cut themselves. No, it wasn’t necessarily done in an impetuous rage, but rather carried out with a slow methodical vengeance. I tend to smoke the most when I feel like someone has upset me or I otherwise feel insecure, but I don’t often feel like I’m the cause of the problem. Picking up a cigarette every time someone hurt my feelings made me feel like I was admitting that the error was mine.
You hurt me, but I caused it and I’m at fault.
You hurt me, but it my own fault for being friends with someone like you.
It’s me; it’s not you.
Whatever it is; it’s all my fault.
And I’m going to go punish myself now for it. I’m going to go kill myself a little bit, and I’m going to do it publicly so all the world will know what a wretched little person I am.
Same for nervous social situations.
I can’t handle this.
Something’s wrong with me.
Excuse me while I walk outside and kill myself a little bit.
Bad girl. Bad girl. Bad girl.
I don’t know if I’m explaining it clearly or not, but viewing smoking in that way made me feel ill about my self-esteem. I decided that if I really did love myself, and I really did think I was a good person then I would have to prove it by quitting.
So, that’s the story, and I have to say that when you’re thinking of picking up a cigarette, it does work really effectively. Last night however, I found out that it doesn’t work as well if you’re in self-flagellation mode.
Here’s what happened. My friend threw a b-day party and sent out an email. In the invitation she said that you could park anywhere in the garage. When I got to her apartment, I saw signs saying that unless you parked in a designated visitor space, you would be towed. The spaces weren’t numbered or marked and given my friends email, I just figured that the rule wasn’t enforced.
Um, yeah. I was towed. And then we spent several hours trying to figure out where my car was because the tow sign in the parking garage wasn’t the service that took my car.
And I was really feeling like an asshole because I disrupted the party AND this was going to cost a lot of money AND someone was going to have to drive me to a sketchy lot in the middle of nowhere AND all because I didn’t pay attention to a clearly posted sign and simply park a few spaces away. I was just so mad at myself.
So I found a cigarette, lit it, took three puffs and then stopped to think, “You know, you made a mistake and parked in the wrong parking space, Ana, but do you really think it’s worth killing yourself over?”
So I put it out. And no, I’m not going to shame and berate myself for the three puffs because that would probably just drive me back to smoking. Actually, it felt really nice this morning to wake up, remember what had happened, forgive myself, and go on with my day.
Oh, and on a side note, Quitting is good for my imagination...because whenever I see someone else smoking now, I wonder what it is they're punishing themselves over.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Actually, I’m not sure that’s what it is, but basically, here's my health symptoms of the last eight days. It could be withdrawal or allergies or the flu or I could be dying....
Day 1: Felt fine. Had a few cravings. Wasn’t used to sitting still so much, so I went on three separate walks while I was at work. Still spent less time away from my desk than when I was smoking. Couldn’t eat for most of the day. Huge cravings after I got home from work and sat around twiddling my thumbs. Completely exhausted at the end of the day. Went to bed around 9:30 pm (which is super-early for me). Woke up at midnight, 2 am, 4 am, and 6 am.
Day 2: About the same. Walked twice. Couldn’t eat. Went to bed at ten. Woke up in the middle of the night in order to be sick. Haven't done that since I was a kid!
Day 3: Achy, feverish, and feeling like I’m one inch from death. BUT MY STOMACH FINALLY FEELS BETTER SO I’M EATING EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Lots of cravings. Went to bed early and woke up every two hours.
Day 4: Achy, feverish, and horrible cough. It turns out that once your body realizes you're not smoking, it starts to heal itself. The first thing it does it clear all the crap out of your lungs…so you feel like you have bronchitis. Occasional cravings. Pass out early; wake up every two hours.
Day 5: See above.
Day 6: All of the above, but a little less achy…except now I have serious congestion and need to blow my nose every two seconds. However, tonight I only wake up twice!
Day 7: No achiness, but cough, cold, and snot have been kicked up a notch. Wake up once in the night!
Day 8: Woke up this morning and took an advil, decongestant, and airborne. Am getting ready to walk the dog, but I don’t want to go outside because I’m cold and well, a little achy. Say screw this and call in sick.
I’m feeling ten times better. Still snotting everywhere, but sometimes you just need a little rest or maybe even a mental rest.
It’s been a good day...and I haven't eaten any bread or sugar or stuff...so that's...well, let me explain that one...
As it turns out, there's something in nicotine that causes your body to keep its blood sugar levels elevated - ie, you don't need to eat as often, yada-yada. BUT when you stop smoking, your levels crash and guess what? You're tired, unfocused, and hungry for starches and sugar....which causes your blood sugar levels to skyrocket and then crash again! Why did no one tell me this? So, we're trying to level that out, and hopefully, that will help quite a bit.
And eight days...it's not exactly a year, but it's something.
From the Jewish Student Center Newsletter:
The National Jewish [GLBT] Students contacted [local Jewish student association] about empowering and affirming Jewish students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (LGBTQQI). Please give [rabbi] a call or send him an email if you're interested in working with [local student center] to create LGBTQQI Jewish programming such as how to start an LGBT Jewish student group, Sexual Orientation and the Torah, as well as programs accessible to all students with LGBTQQI themes, such as a Purim Drag Show or a LGBT Sukkah.
Maybe there's something about the tone. To me it kind of reads like:
Hi there. Someone in another part of the country tells us that there might be some gay and Jewish kids out there. We're really not familiar with homosexuality, but maybe we can get you guys together and have a drag show or something. You guys like drag shows, right?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Ok, it took me ten minutes to write that. See, I can’t do anything. Maybe I should start drinking heavily again. Where was I?
Smoking, I think. Cigarettes or something. So yeah, the other post was how I started. I didn’t pick it up the next day or anything, but I was a regular smoker within a month or so. (Egad, writing about this makes me want to smoke. It’s SO crazy.) But yeah, smoking was a source of social interaction for the girl with no social skills. The drinking helped too. Plus, I’m sure that in a way I liked the image it gave me…or the fact that it was a shocking image. At nineteen I looked like I could be a character from Little House on the Prairie and I was about as naïve as one. People told me that they found it so disturbing to see me with a cigarette in hand. I loved it. I think this also contributes to my constant cursing around the same time (which has also continued into later years). I just always came across as so sweet and innocent…and about ten years younger. No one wants to look young from age 11 to about 30.
Now when people card me I’m thrilled, but when you spend the bulk of your twenties unable to date because the only people interested in your have a penchant for pedophilia looking young is not so fabulous. Smoking deepened my voice and made it a little raspy. I had this high-pitched mouse-like voice. The other day I was talking to someone about this girl we knew and how I thought she had the sexiest voice because it was so low and deep. And then whoever it was turned to me and said I had the exact same kind of voice. It made me so happy.
Wow, it’s been nearly an hour. Maybe this is the way to get to me to write shorter blog posts, huh? More to follow later, I guess. I just can’t do it anymore. And yeah, if you haven’t figured out, I’ve stopped smoking for right now…not sure that I’ve quit, but I’ve stopped. This time around, I stopped for reasons not like any reason that’s caused me to quit before…which is what I will write about one day if I can ever get to that point. In the meantime, I’m slightly miserable, but miserable in different ways than usual. And now that I’ve figured out that my whole crazy sugar splurge is a blood sugar thing, I’m tempted to go throw out my ice cream and butterscotch topping insofar as neither of those items will help stabilize my levels.
I'm so horribly bored, but I don't have the concentration to do anything.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
So you can’t imagine how thrilled I was to go to the dentist today…and get a check-up and get my teeth cleaned. I knew my teeth were a little dirty, but I figured everything else would be okay. I mean, I do take good care of my teeth…
Well, at least when I’m awake, I do.
Today I found out that sometime during law school, I started gnashing my teeth while I sleep. Not just grinding, people. Gnashing. I have four different fractures in my mouth and two chunks of tooth are missing from my back molars. (I broke them off at some point apparently.) I also managed to break most of my fillings and bust through portions of my enamel (which the hygienist noticed was exceptionally thicker than most people’s) thereby enabling SIX cavities. (The hygienist also pointed out that I chewed the crap out of my cheeks and had extensive scarring there too.)
After eight different procedures and two possible crowns I will receive a bite guard.
“Your teeth don’t hurt?!?!?” the dentist asked.
Nope. I mean really. What is physical pain?
Thanks law school. Thanks for creating some type of bizarre stress that goes beyond anything I’ve ever known…even though graduate school was one of the more superficial challenges of my life.
Chomped my mouth so hard that I broke my own teeth, people! What the heck? (And no, it wasn’t from chewing ice. I haven’t had an ice maker in years.)
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We’ve been friends for a long time haven’t we? In fact, there have been moments when I felt like you were my only friend. No one is ever quite there for me the way that you are. When I am bored, you occupy my mind. When I am sad, you give me a lift. When I feel overwhelmed at a social engagement, you give me reason to step outside and regain my composure. Heck, sometimes you give me a reason to stand outside all night. You help me keep my weight down and at times give me an air of mystery or encourage my sense of rebellion.
The other night I sat down to figure out how long we’ve been together, and did you realize that this fall will be our 15th anniversary? Yep, I don’t know the exact date, but just fifteen little years ago I was set-up for a date. After rush each fall, all the fraternities had this party called pledge-line which were supposedly for the new pledges but everybody attended them. I was a sophomore, a pudgy little sophomore who for some bizarre reason gained forty pounds for college and only college. Blame it on the beer except that at that point, I didn’t drink quite yet. No at that point my forty pounds came from bagels and ice cream and insecurity and awkwardness. College was a little overwhelming for me since I’d never really been a social person with friends and stuff like that. No parties. No proms. No dates. No drinks. Oh, sorority rush was hideous. Six hours of small talk for the gal who couldn’t do (and didn’t even like or understand at the time) small talk. I came home at the end of every day and cried.
Yech! But oh wait, my ciggies, we were discussing the birth of our friendship. My date ditched me about ten minutes into the evening. Although it had never happened to me before (because, come to think it, I’m not sure I’d been on a date before) I sensed it was coming. It was in his face when he laid eyes on me, a look of utter disappointment. We got to the party, he handed me a drink, and then disappeared. I stood on the edge of the dance floor where he left me for about ten minutes. When I realized that he wasn’t going to return, I felt the need to flee the area and ran outside.
Finding myself on the back porch, I took a seat and hoped that someone I knew would pass by. I still wasn’t sure if it would be rude of me to leave and walk a mile home in my heels.
“HEY! Who are you?” a voice asked.
I looked up to find a tall dark-haired girl whispering in a gossip-like fashion with two other girls. Quietly I explained who I was and what I doing there.
“OMIGOD, SO-AND-SO IS SUCH A PRICK! I CAN’T BELIEVE WE LET HIM THROUGH. FRIEND OF A FRIEND THING, YOU KNOW AND SOME KIND OF BALONEY ABOUT HIS DAD WORKING FOR SUCH-AND-SUCH. BUT MAN IS THAT GUY A PRICK! THAT’S WHY HE HAD TO HAVE A BLIND SET-UP, YOU KNOW? BECAUSE NO GIRL THAT HE KNOWS WOULD GO WITH HIM AND NONE OF US WOULD SET HIM UP. THAT’S FOR SURE. AW, BABE. I’M SORRY, REALLY SORRY. THAT GUY’S A PRICK. NEXT TIME I SEE HIM, I’M GOING TO KICK HIS ASS.”
I don’t remember her name, but she stood very confidently waving her cigarette in the air as she spoke to me loudly and forcefully. She dated one of the guys in the fraternity off-and-on. Currently they were off, but because she was a member of the ‘little sisters’ she could attend every event anyway. She insisted that I spend the rest of the evening with her and her friends, taking the beer can in my hand and trading it out for something stronger. She also handed me a smoke, and for the first time, I didn’t turn it down.
That night wasn’t my just my first cigarette. It was the first time I got drunk, and emboldened by Miss Queen Bee, I strutted around the house saying whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted. And you know what the weird thing was? People thought I was funny. Probably because I am decently quick-witted, but I’d always been so nervous around (real, live)people. The four of us managed to have a keen old time as well as embarrass and belittle the heck out of my date. When I decided I was ready to leave, one of the older guys tracked him down and insisted that he drive me home.
I said that I’d rather walk barefoot, and I think the older guy ended up driving me. I never saw any of them again, but the foundation had been laid.
However, dear cigarettes, I find myself a little tired, and we will have to continue this letter another day…
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Because of this I get the occasional email asking me to promote something related to one of these topics. Please see the information below. If I had the money to travel, I would trot my own little booty up to Connecticut to participate. And to the Yale Law Women's group, I am flattered that you sent me the email.
Yale Law Women invites you to participate in a thought-provoking and timely discussion of the institutional and social forces behind what some have called the "opting out" of female professionals. Please join us this spring for our conference, "Opt-Out" or Pushed Out: Are Women Choosing to Leave the Legal Profession? A description of the conference is below.
Registration for the conference is now open! The cost is $35 for guests, $10 for non-Yale students, and FREE to Yale students and affiliates. In addition, the "Opt Out" or Pushed Out? blog is up with posts from panelists, scholars, and commentators. The blog link is: http://blogs.law.yale.edu/
REGISTER HERE: http://www.acteva.com/go/
The full schedule for the conference and a description of panelists and speakers is on our website at http://www.law.yale.edu/news/
Please forward this invite widely! We look forward to seeing you in March!
Yale Law Women Presents
"OPT OUT" OR PUSHED OUT:
ARE WOMEN CHOOSING TO LEAVE THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
March 27 – 28, 2009
Yale Law School
"Opt Out" or Pushed Out will address the controversial phenomenon described by some as "opting out," the supposed trend of professional women leaving the workplace to devote their energies to family care-taking, full time.
This conference will focus on the dynamics of the "trend" within the legal profession, inviting legal practitioners, professional students, and scholars to critically assess the structural, institutional, and societal reasons why women lawyers may be departing from the workplace. It will also devote significant energy to the experiences of men and how they may be similar to – or different from – those of female attorneys. Conference panels will touch on topics of parenthood, social expectations that treat men and women differently, and how the legal field can learn from other professions that have begun to accommodate the reality of male and female professionals' multi-faceted lives.
Men and women in the legal profession -- practitioners, students, and scholars -- will come together to critically assess the structural, institutional and societal pressures that affect all attorneys and have made balance particularly elusive for women. The aim is to generate concrete goals and methods for improving the structure of the workplace and social perceptions of the occupational choices that attorneys make.
§ E.J. Graff, Senior Researcher at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and head of the Gender and Justice Project
§ Pamela Stone, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and author of Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home
§ Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much
§ Pat Gillette, Founder of the Opt-In Project
§ Wendy Schmidt, Principal, Deloitte and former national leader of Deloitte's U.S. Women's Initiative Network (WIN)
§ The Honorable Nancy Gertner, Judge, U. S. District Court, District of Massachusetts and member of the Equality Commission
§ Francine Deutsch, Professor of Psychology and Education, Mount Holyoke College