Archive for March, 2013

Hearth and Home

It’s been a loooong winter, and while I’m usually a fan of snow and doing wintry things, I have to admit that snow near the end of March is kind of a bummer. But I suppose it’s made me appreciate my home a bit more since I’ve had to spend more time in it, as well as appreciated the effort that I’ve put in it to make it cozy and homey since I moved in August.


Life as a Recovering Insomniac

I’ve written about this elsewhere and tweeted about it, but my insomnia came back with a vengeance these past few weeks, and it has been rough. Many long-time readers know that I’ve struggled with insomnia for much of my life. I’m a night owl by temperament and have even “made insomnia work” for me at points in my life, when I had more reserves of energy to compensate. (Not sleeping = superproductive, at when I was 25.)

But in grad school, my insomnia got ridiculous — I’d finally fall sleep by 6 or 7 a.m., only to wake up 4-5 hours later — and it became a real issue. It took a monumental move to tire me out enough to fall asleep before midnight (the first time in years) and a lot of vigilance and effort to remain on a somewhat normal sleep pattern. I’ve managed to stay on a fairly decent routine with occasional lapses, but sometimes you slide — and recently, due to a number of factors, the slide became a full-on avalanche.

For those who haven’t ever had problems getting or staying asleep, it’s hard to communicate exactly how necessary and foundational sleep is. If left unchecked, insomnia can really chip away at your health and happiness. You don’t get enough sleep; you wake up feeling tired; you down some coffee in hopes of creating some phantom energy; the extra caffeine keeps you up again; a few more days like this, and your lizard brain starts to go to deep dark places; little hobgoblins of anxiety and fear suddenly become full-fledged monsters; you work yourself up into a mental frenzy and can’t sleep even worse; and so on and so forth, until you get to the point where it’s 4:20 AM and you’re really questioning your commitment to life in a serious way. I like to say I’m a “recovering” insomniac, and while I don’t mean to equate alcoholism with insomnia, I have found that insomnia is something I always need to be aware of and vigilant against. I’ll never not have a tendency to fall into it; it’s something I think I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life.

These past few weeks have been a perfect storm for the return of insomnia in my life: daylight savings always screws me up a little. (It’s nice to have more daylight, but I also don’t feel sleepy into much later into the evening.) But couple that with job stress, a literal pain in my neck that has kept me from getting regular exercise, and just, you know, life — and suddenly I’m only getting 3-5 hours of sleep a night. I could manage to stay fairly coherent and somewhat even-keeled on this amount when I was in my early 20s, but now…not so much. I really need a good 7-8 hours a night these days, and when I don’t get it, hell breaks loose in my life. The first night seems workable, but as the sleeplessness adds up, it snowballs often into something much darker and monstrous — and it’s important to tackle it quickly for me, because otherwise it transforms into a mega-demon fast. (more…)

The Lazy Pagan Way to Celebrate Spring Equinox

Spring is officially here! At least according to the pagan calendar, for today is the vernal equinox. Dance around a maypole! Wear flowers in your hair! Act like an Aries! Alas, alas, though: it’s wintery-like, cold and snowy in my patch of the U.S., so such celebrations aren’t in the cards for me quite yet. But it’s springtime in my heart, and as a lazy pagan girl, this is how I’m ushering the season in ways both elemental and frivolous. (I admit: heavier on the frivolity, but come on, man — it’s spring!)

Switch Up Your Lipstick

Being always a lippie type of lady, changing up my lipstick is pretty much my favorite way of celebrating any change in life. I generally love reds, but for spring I’m going for a fuchsia pink — ideally in a gloss-balm kind of formula. My ideal would be a gloss-balm stain…makeup experts, got any recommendations?

Pop Goes the Music

Apparently Greeks used to celebrate the autumnal equinoxes with festivals dedicated to Dionysus, the rock ‘n roll god of wine, excess and mad partying. But who gets the spring? Much girlier goddesses, like Persephone (who returned from the underworld back to earth) as well as goddesses devoted to the dawn (Ostara, Aurora, Eos). You can traipse through the fields of flowers if you want, but personally, I just like to listen to girlie pop music.

Wardrobe Tune-Ups

I could write a whole tome on Zen wardrobe management, but I’ll just say here that lots of people (of course) use this time to clean out closets, reconsider and fine-tune their style and figure out what they want to buy for spring. Being a sartorially-minded person, I spent last weekend trying on my spring/summer clothes (mostly as a tonic to the still-grey, snowy weather outside!) and tossing out stuff that was too worn or beyond repair. Now I’m in the process of figuring out what I want to buy next, and of course, am highly enjoying imaginary fashion concepts and fake-shopping on the Internet. This seems to be a florals and stripes kind of year for me again, but I’m mulling over whether or not I want to take on printed pants or white jeans, since there are so many cute styles coming out in stores now. (Likely answer for me is: no, because above everything, I’m pretty practical — the reason why I wear so many dark colors is because it bugs the hell out of me to have a separate load for whites and lights! But who knows — I could find an inexpensive pair of white denim jeans and just wear the hell out of them for a season. The things I think about!)

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

Easter eggs and the whole idea of the rebirth of Christ are holdovers of the original pagan meaning of the equinox, which celebrates fertility, rebirth, resurrection after a long winter and all that good stuff. I’m not one to light a candle and dance around, though. But there is one egg-y thing I like to attempt around this time, and that is poached eggs. I love poached eggs, but find them so tricky to make. So that is my semi-pagan culinary challenge for the month!

Plant Something

I like this on both the literal and symbolic levels. I mean, yes, this is a nice time to start planting seedlings and stuff, if you are a hardcore gardener type. (Me, I am not, but I like to pretend: I have one basil plant that is prospering quite nicely. It’s seriously like my pet, and if I could buy it a toy, I would.) But it’s also a nice thing to think about: what would you like to plant now that will flower and harvest later in the year?

Grown-Up Things I Should Care About But Really Don’t

It’s interesting to notice when you’ve stopped caring about something, especially those things you feel you “should” like for the sake of being a “legit” human being, sophisticated city-dweller, cool kid on the gentrified city block, whatever. You know what I mean: grown-ups read the world politics section everyday. Grown-ups speak at least two foreign languages and can converse upon any subject at a dinner party. When I was four, this is what I thought being a grown-up was.

Lately, I’ve stopped caring about these following things that I thought successful dinner party adults should pay attention to — or perhaps just admitted to myself that, deep down, I can’t fire up the sustained interest to pay attention anymore. I feel like I’m being a bad grown-up admitting some of these — but that’s something I’ll sacrifice, I suppose, for the sake of feeling free and honest and all those good things in life.