An Update from J. Awkward Prufrock

Well, I did it. I became a master. Of what, I am unsure. But I have it on paper and everything! Or I will. Right now I have more of a fancy folder with an IOU inside.

Thank you very much to both of my readers for your patience as I completed this process. Indeed, I am planning to dedicate more time to this blog and am brainstorming topics for future posts. I am also searching for full-time employment. My special skills include sitting quietly for a long time and chanting when asked. If you know of any field besides the monkhood at which I could excel, please let me know.

Truthfully, I thought I would be bored by now. I handed in my last final two weeks ago. Turns out, there are plenty of things out there that can fill my time. We live in an exciting world, full of things to distract us from creating a legacy or effecting change. Have any of you heard of this show called Game of Thrones? It’s really good. Sure hope nothing bad happens to the main characters.

I cannot hide from productivity forever, though. This post is my first step toward my next chapter. It’s not about anything in particular. Just letting you know that I’m not dead yet; I’m alive, well, and perhaps more cynical than ever before (thanks grad school!).

Until next time, awkward on, dear friends!

Advertisements

Growing Up Awkward

For whatever reason, being 27 has been a weirder experience than other ages. It’s more…existential? Reflective? More HOLY SHIT I’M 27? There’s something about officially being in my late 20s that makes me feel like I’ve run out of time to grow (even though that’s totally ridiculous and untrue. If everything I know now is all I’m ever going to know, well, then, I’m in trouble, friends).

Perhaps the more accurate description is that feeling of waving goodbye to adolescence. The very surreal, yet very present emotion that childhood is over. For good. You don’t get repeats. And so recently, I was sitting up at night thinking about all the things from my past that I regret. I thought, “Not only will I never be a kid again. I didn’t do it right the first time.”

Mind you, I have no idea what “right” would have been.

A lot of people try to avoid growing up. So much that it’s been turned into an industry. I can’t think of anything more marketable right now than nostalgia. Many people think of childhood as an easier time, when parents worried about the real stuff. While that’s not the case for everyone, it was certainly true for me.

The thing is, when you’re a nervous, awkward, anxious person, when those tendencies are innate within you from birth, you always find something to worry about. And when you don’t have bills to pay and a career to pursue, it’s easiest for those worries to be totally social.

So, in those school girl days, I was always trying to maintain an impossible balance of desperately wanting to be liked, desperately wanting to seem like I didn’t care about being liked, desperately wanting to excel at something (hell, excel at everything!), and desperately trying not to cry when my expectations for myself weren’t met. On top of everything, there are those crazy little things called hormones that make you just…so…angry…all…the…time!

From what I understand of the adolescent experience, what I just described isn’t uncommon. Which makes me wonder, what is there to miss? To long for? It makes me wonder if when people say they want to go back to being a kid, they mean they want to be a kid who knows what an adult knows but is still free of responsibility.

It makes me wonder, even though I feel like I didn’t get adolescence “right,” if I could do it again, would I?

Not in a million f***ing years.

I remember a lot of my childhood classmates proclaiming, at some point, they couldn’t wait to grow up  (grass is always greener, yada yada). This is usually in reference to not wanting to follow your parents’ lame rules anymore, to wanting to stay up late and eat ice cream for dinner and not get grounded. Those things are nice. But when I said I couldn’t wait to grow up, I meant it. Thing is, I already stayed up late (I was a horrible insomniac until about 3 years ago), I got plenty of ice cream, and to me, getting grounded rocked. You mean I can’t leave my bedroom? Where I have all my books, Barbies, and a TV? Suh-weet!

I couldn’t wait to grow up because it seemed like growing up meant I would have less time to care so deeply about what other people thought of me.

Perhaps many of us always worry about that on some level. We’re pack animals after all. It’s natural. I mean, the entire concept of this blog is feeling terribly uncomfortable in social situations. However, up until recently, hearing any sort of negative comment about me, especially who I was from middle school-through-college, really made me spiral into a deep, sulky depression. You ever see that episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon goes to her high school reunion thinking she was the nerd and it turns out everyone thought she was really snarky and aggressive? Yup, that was me. I was angry, I thought I was really funny, and I thought no one was listening.

But then, a short time ago, when I was on the brink of 27, I ran into someone from high school. We got to talking, a bit of reminiscing. And then, inevitably, at some point, he said, “Yeah, you were mean back then.”

And what normally would have resulted in completely shutting down, excusing myself, going back home, and crying, resulted in my mind going wait a second, I’m about to move to a new city, about to start grad school, about to move in with my boyfriend; I’ve got a thousand actual things that need consideration running through my head; frankly, I was never that fond of you either, and I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT, followed by a curt nod.

How unbelievably liberating!

I would take 27 over that other nonsense any day. I would never want to be a kid again. Chances are even if I didn’t make the same mistakes, I would find other ones to make. People are funny that way.

Now, a carefree adult with the means to do nothing but travel the world, drink wine, and read books? And I wouldn’t need ask my dad to take me to the airport and have to be home by 10? That’s a far more compelling option.

J. Awkward Prufrock Rings in the New Year

Well, so much for my once per month posting goal.

It’s weird when you start a new chapter of your life, especially such a drastically different one. At a point, even if it’s only been a little while, you start to remember this current chapter as essentially your whole life and every chapter before it just seems surreal, hazy, far away. Almost like you dreamt it rather than actually lived it.

I do not remember my life before Dance Clash.

Dance Clash is a game I downloaded several weeks ago because I wanted something mindless to do in between my schoolwork. My boyfriend occasionally plays video games and they look fun, so I thought I’d give one a whirl.

Dance Clash is a pensive creation that attempts to answer an age-old philosophical debate: ballet or hip-hop? The way it seeks to answer that question is by each player being assigned a dancer (whether it be a ballet or hip-hop dancer is up to you), for whom you choose back-up dancers, a costume, make-up, hair-do, set, lighting, music, and choreography and whom you take to the gym to prep for the big dance-off (or dance clash. Holy shit, I get it now).  Afterward, it is determined using unknown criteria who won (I have a feeling it is whichever player has forked over the $9.99 for the advanced features).

It is also designed for ages 4 and up, so it totally fits within my skill level.

I am not entirely sure why I am so attracted to this game. Nor am I sure of why I find myself being so critical of the probably-four-year-olds whom I’m playing against. You call that choreography! Where’s the story? Where’s the pizzazz? Nice costume, did you get dressed in the dark?

There is also the fact that your choices are incredibly limited if you haven’t paid the $9.99. You only get about four or five choreography combinations to work with, a few more if you’re willing to watch ads. I’ll admit a part of me is a bit worried I’ll have some wine alone in my apartment one night, and I’ll pay the $9.99 because I’m afraid of what I’m missing, that I’m not living my life to the fullest, and because I crave the glory.

Anyway, I’ve been playing this game when I probably should have been doing other things like writing blog posts or holding myself accountable for anything in any way.

I’ve never been great with resolutions. I am for creating new habits, finding new passions, enriching life, etc., but you can do that at any point (I found Dance Clash in November!). What’s so special about the new year? I’ll also admit New Year’s is not my favorite holiday, since it is based around human interaction in large quantities. I made a mistake during one of the games we played this year and I consider it a personal victory that I did not go to the bathroom and cry.

But there is something I happened to notice about myself as 2017 came to a close, something that I would like to change.

I am obsessed with time.

I always thought it was a result of being a New Yorker: we’re always in a hurry. But I’ve come to realize it goes beyond that. I schedule everything, every minute of my day. I schedule do-nothing time, in which I carve out what kind of nothing I’m gonna do and for how long I’m gonna do it.  And it’s stressful, watching the clock all the time, and in many ways, it makes it impossible to enjoy something, because I’m always counting down to the next thing. Not because I’m excited for the next thing, but because that’s the schedule.

I think I’ve missed out on a lot of good moments because of this. Maybe not life-changing, remarkable moments, but enjoyable moments nonetheless. And stressing yourself out over TV time can’t be good for you.

So I suppose you could say I am making a resolution that happens to fall around the New Year, and that resolution is to savor. I am going to bask in that TV time, in that reading time, in that snuggle time, in that bath time once I have finally fulfilled my dream of dreams: to have a really nice bath tub. I am going to savor and be glad. At least, that’s the plan. I could use it.

And write more blog posts and hopefully, finally get back to my other writing. It’s pretty bad when you can’t remember the name of the antagonist of the story you were sixty pages into.

Or maybe I’ll just play more Dance Clash. I’ll admit, I think it has over-complicated my feelings about the ballet vs. hip-hop debate. Perhaps that was its intention overall, those clever minxes!

Either way, happy new year, all. May you savor, may you bathe, may you find something, may you dance like no one is watching (because they’re not; it’s all on your phone, you guys!).

J. Awkward Prufrock Goes Back to School

Well, the good news is I’m 1/10 of the way through my master’s program! Gotta take what I can get.

But for the other 9/10, you can probably expect less frequent blog posts. I’m aiming for once a month. Turns out grad school is a lot of work. Who knew?

It’s weird to go back to school after a five-year hiatus. When I was in undergrad, I had all this energy, fueled by my starry-eyed dreams and desire to make memories. I didn’t only pull all-nighters to get work done; I pulled all-nighters just because. What?! And then I could simply brush my teeth, go to class, and be fine. Did I do the reading for class that day? Hell no! Who does the reading for class?

You know what you have to do in grad school? The reading for class. The professors acknowledge doing all of the reading is impossible, yet expected. How does that make any sense? Guys, I’m so tired.

Having been 27-years-old for nearly a week now, I can say…it’s an awful lot like being 26: if I don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep and eat some vegetables, I turn into the garbage that Oscar the Grouch sat on. A few people in my program are straight out of undergrad, and I look at the emails they send out at 1am and think, I was like you once. Ah, youth. I wonder where you disappeared to. Probably somewhere in all that time I was wishing it was the weekend. I accidentally made my life go 5 times faster.

I don’t want to complain too much. Philly is wonderful. Living with Marc is wonderful. The campus is wonderful. All of my classes are wonderful…and interesting and provocative and thoughtful…I think. I do take comfort in the fact that everyone around me looks just as confused as I feel. We’re all just trying to make it to May, merely cloaking ourselves in the scent of intellectualism (by Calvin Klein).

But the academics, I can handle. It’s tough, but I can (well…we’ll see what I say when I get my first paper back). What I’ve been the most worried about is making friends. It’s been a long time since I made a new friend. I’m a bit out of practice. And it’s so much easier when you live on campus and know you’re going to be spending the next four years with these people. This is a nine-month program and I live 30 minutes away and I don’t like to do things: all of these factors may work against me.

In these trying times, I find myself so much more aware of the things I say. Guys, that’s extremely aware. That’s beyond hyper-aware. That is a degree of awareness theoretical physicists haven’t dreamt of. Lately, after I say anything to anybody, I immediately say to myself, Everyone hates you now. Just last night, I found a potential friend in the ladies’ room. She was exiting while I was entering. Her look said that she was really chill, but not so chill that it made her superior. She had that friendly smell; of potato chips and freshly-soaped hands.

She looked at me and said, “Oh my God, I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but the professor wouldn’t stop talking.” She was paving the road for a friendship, slowly, with a small smile and open eyes.

I responded, “Yes, I know exactly what you mean.” She looked taken aback, hurt; she giggled unsurely, and darted out of the bathroom. And it dawned on me that, while my line was supposed to establish the common ground on which kinship wallows, she may have interpreted it as my telling her that her reaching out to me was preventing me from my own peeing. Everyone hates you now. 

My other friendship attempt happened in the university bookstore, where arguably the best friendships can happen. Books are sacred like that. I was at a table full of organizer journals, thinking about possibly buying one but then realizing that would prevent me from being able to tell myself that I don’t get anything done because I’m disorganized, when a girl walked over to browse. She clearly had no fear of organization and I thought maybe she could be the kind of person who would push me to be better throughout my master’s journey.

So I turned to her and cleverly said, “In the market for an organizer?”

She laughed and nodded, which I took as an affirmation that I totally should keep this act of an organizer salesperson going.

“Well you got your big ones, you small ones, your sparkly ones, your motivational sayings, animals doing animal things. Which do you find most appealing?”

At this point, I could tell that I had made it awkward. She looked confused. But for some reason, I thought that stopping at that point would make it more awkward, so I kept rambling on about the sales handles of various organizers until she walked off with one. I feel kind of bad. I’m not sure if it was the one she wanted or if she just wanted to get away from the weird girl who hangs out at the organizer table trying to make lifelong friends, or at least Facebook “happy birthday” acquaintances. We’ll never know!

It’s so hard, but I think the fact that I’ve only had a handful of disastrous social instances is rather encouraging! And I’m on smile-and-hi level with lots of people. So who knows? Maybe there is hope for this life chapter yet. Onward and awkward.

Now, back to reading about jurisprudential challenges in private university governance. Whatever that is.

J. Awkward Prufrock Learns to Cook!

Prepare for the most awkward cooking blog post ever, as, even though I vaguely planned this post, I did not take any pictures of my experiments. I never remember to take pictures of anything. I encourage you to use your imaginations as you accompany me on this culinary journey. I assure you none of them looked like their Pinterest pictures, if that helps.

Now, I have lived on my own before, but on those occasions, I was either kitchen-less or too afraid to really use the kitchen (because of the filth factor and because I live my life in fear). Also, I’m one of those people who is perfectly content to eat the same thing everyday and also perfectly content if that thing is a bag of frozen vegetables I can pop in the microwave.

But I live with my boyfriend now. And while he is a very smart man who has been feeding himself for years, my waspy ethnic origins are predominantly Irish and Italian, and thus I possess this unflappable stoicism that is only curbed by pictures of cute dogs and a need to feed others. It’s how I show I care. I’m also hoping that if I get good enough at cooking, he will be able to look past all the new neuroses he’s learning about now that we live together (Jillian, why do you keep all the closets open? Because someone might be in them. Obviously).

I love to eat, but I’m pretty health-conscious and like to keep things plant-based when I can. I also don’t really like the idea of handling meat (shut up, Freud). Now, the thing about cooking is it never looks or sounds that hard to do. And it isn’t, really, if you’re striving for edible, but boy does it take time. (Curses upon those Tasty videos that made it look like all cooking only takes 30 seconds!) Especially if you’re incredibly anal and insist on staring at everything the whole time to make sure it’s cooking the way it’s supposed to be…and yet, it still manages to be over or underdone at the end of it all.

So, here are some of the things I’ve made.

Day 1: Vegetarian French Dips
In this recipe, you use mushrooms instead of roast beef. It was pretty good and very easy to make. But this was the day I learned that even recipes labeled as “Healthy” on Pinterest can call for lots of olive oil and salt. Which makes me wonder, is anything really good for us?
Rating: 7.5/10
Recipe here: http://www.connoisseurusveg.com/vegan-french-dip-sandwiches

Day 2: Peach Mango Stir Fry
Ah, the joy of the stir fry! Proof that you can throw a bunch of things into a pan and it will probably come out alright. In this case, it was a bag of peppers and onions, a can of black beans, and peach/mango salsa. Added rice after. Above par, nutritious.
Rating: 8/10
Recipe: Whatever the hell is in your cabinets.

Day 3: Potato Mushroom Concoction
Peeling potatoes sucks.
Rating: 7/10
Recipe here: http://cooktoria.com/recipe/potatoes-with-mushrooms-2/

Day 4: Burgers and Black Bean Salad
I want to know why people think it’s so much better to cook on gas. Not only am I perpetually conscious of breathing when I’m around it, but it gets so hot! So fast! On this day, I thought I would give pan-frying burgers a try since we had some in the freezer and I know my boyfriend enjoys them. Bless his heart for eating these, which somehow managed to be burnt to a crisp on the outside and raw on the inside.
The black bean salad was fine. A bit vinegary. I also boiled him a hot dog. Amen to boiling hot dogs! I will boil hot dogs ‘til somebody stops me! What a low pressure meal.
Rating: 6.5/10
Recipe: Black bean salad consists of 1 can of black beans, peppers, onions, lime, corn, oil, balsamic vinegar, and the spices of your choice.

Day 5: Pasta and Broccoli
I’m not a terribly gifted person but I can usually get pasta right. And the more the kitchen smells like garlic, the harder people think you worked!
Rating: 8/10
Recipe: Pasta and broccoli and stuff.

Day 6: Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Pea Salad
After a few days of hearty eating (weekends are for pizza. It’s in the bible), I thought we could cleanse ourselves with some kale and other vegetables. But roasting vegetables takes a lot of time and the ability to walk away from the oven. I do not have that capability.
The dressing called for tahini, which is hella expensive, so I thought I would improvise by combining every condiment in the fridge: a concoction my boyfriend kindly described as, “a lot of really good flavors that maybe shouldn’t be together.” Womp womp.
Also, why is salad never filling? We broke out the Ben & Jerry’s an hour later!
Rating: 6/10
Recipe here: https://www.budgetbytes.com/2017/02/roasted-cauliflower-salad-lemon-tahini-dressing/

Day 7: Enchilada Orzo Casserole Thingy
Oh, if I could only shake the hands of Mr. Crockpot himself! Seriously, what ingenuity. This was definitely the best of all the attempts so far. And to think, all I did was dump some stuff into a pot in the morning and by 6, we had dinner. The crockpot gets my full endorsement. I will die so crockpots can live.
Rating: 8.5/10
Recipe here: http://damndelicious.net/2014/12/01/slow-cooker-enchilada-orzo/

Does anyone have some easy recipes they want to share with me? Does anyone want to help me get over my fear of cooking meat or my CO woes (I don’t think it’s good to keep testing the detector…)? I would love to hear from you!

J. Awkward Prufrock’s Next Adventure

Well, after a few weeks of apartment hunting, work retreats, and health nonsense, I’m back, baby!

Whether or not I will be able to post more frequently in the future remains to be seen. I do have other writing projects sitting on my desktop. I would ultimately have time to do both if I didn’t keep looking at Reddit theories on who killed Sister Cathy. But if I’m being honest with myself…

There are A LOT of changes happening in my life right now. Big ones. My boyfriend and I are moving to Philadelphia in a few weeks. I’ll be starting my MSEd program in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania shortly thereafter. With the exception of my brief stint in New York City, I’ve been living a comfortable suburban existence mooching off of my parents since I graduated college in 2012. This is all fairly new to me. And scary. Change is weird.

Bear with me as I write all of this out. Making all of these decisions has been hard work and I need to put a timeline and logical flow to my thought process.

I always knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, and I’ve virtually spent the past five years trying to decide what the heck to get a master’s in. I even had a deposit down for an MFA program four years ago. Then I got into a bad car accident and decided the world was too much for me and I was just going to drink wine on my parents’ deck forever.

I took some graduate courses after that, did some more rounds of applications for different programs (thanks to the theatre professor who wrote me a recommendation every single time!). It was a very slow process. Finally, about a year ago, I decided I just had to pick something. All the time I’d had on my parents’ deck (coupled with a lot of therapy) allowed me to conclude that your career is just one part of you. What you do for money and who you are as a whole and complex human being simply do not equate. The American Dream is kind of warped in that way, since it preaches that they are, in fact, the same thing. What a stressful way of thinking.

The funny thing is, when I was 17 and all throughout my undergraduate education, I felt like I had to defend why I was majoring in theatre. Ever since I graduated and have dabbled in a few different career paths, I feel like I have to defend why I didn’t (and won’t) pursue theatre. People constantly ask me why I’m not acting (though I’ve never seen anyone ask a history major, “Why aren’t you historying?”). What can I say? I fell out of love with it. If someone offered me a job acting 9-5, Monday-Friday, with a decent salary and full benefits, would I do it? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. If someone offered me a job writing 9-5, Monday-Friday, yes, absolutely, without question. But I can write any time, in the comfort of my own home, without a crowd of people watching my every move. And in the meantime, I will just continue pledging my loyalty to the arts and dedicating my life to sealing its place as a necessary piece of community, culture, and therapy. I don’t want to act. I want to wake people up.

An MSEd is just a step toward keeping my promise to the arts. And after that, who knows? Maybe a PhD or an MFA. I really really like school.

I’ll admit, moving to a city I barely know is rather daunting. When I first went to college, in a small town called Center Valley, PA, was the first time I understood the true definition of, “New Yorker.” Philly is, of course, a major city and I’m not expecting nearly as much of a culture shock. And if New York didn’t want people to leave home, it would lower its taxes. But it’s new and it’s different and I’ve never been that savvy at urban living. I’m bad at finding “scenes.” Unless that scene is panning in on me, my antagonist, sitting in a dark room, because time has gone by since I started sitting in silence, and I don’t feel like getting up and putting on the lights.

Moving in with my boyfriend, in contrast, is one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. On top of his many endearing qualities, he rubs my feet without my having to ask, so he’s pretty much a necessity.

Frankly, I’m most terrified of learning how to cook. And keeping neighborhood ne’er-do-wells at bay. Don’t mess with me! I will cry!

And what can I say? Even though all of these changes have and will continue to stress me out, even though I spend hours on end questioning everything I’ve ever known about myself and living my life, even though I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing…I’m really freaking excited.

Ending My Stigma Against Myself

I recently did my Myers-Briggs personality breakdown.

For anyone who may not be familiar, the Myers-Briggs system sorts people’s personality types into sixteen different categories, based on four sets of criteria: introverted vs. extraverted, intuitive vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving.

MB

I am an INTJ. No surprises there. If you’d like to take the test, you can do so here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test (and about 999 other places on the internet).

I’ve never really been a fan of these sorts of things, but I go back and forth on why, depending on the day. Either I think it is impractical to box humans, with all of their complexities, into a simple 16 categories, or I think you’re either a dumbass or not a dumbass and there is no reason to over-complicate it.

It turns out this is a very INTJ thing to say.

Another INTJ thing: this was the most concise chart I could find, but it is taking all of my strength to ignore that it says “extrovert” instead of “extravert.” Extrovert has evolved into an acceptable spelling over the years, but it doesn’t make any linguistic sense.

A me thing: I hate myself for making that statement.

I did the test because we often use it in my office when students are struggling to find a major or a career path. I thought it would be useful for me to better understand the system so I could help the students. As I stated already, I wasn’t exactly shocked by my results, but when I started to do more research, it got a little crazy.

Reading about the INTJ experience was like reading a description of myself: the things I like, the things I’m good (and bad) at, the way I approach conflict, relationships. It was all laid out there on my computer screen.

INTJ is one of the rarest Myers-Briggs personality types, and an INTJ woman is the rarest gender/personality type combination of them all, making up roughly 0.5% of the population. Because of this, an INTJ woman notably has a harder time connecting with other women (and people in general). At first, reading all of this gave me comfort. I had some definition, a name to put to all of my questions about why some seemingly easy things, like being in public, were difficult for me, why I never felt like I was getting anywhere with people. I was just on a different plane. Not a better or worse plane, just different.

There were some qualities of a typical INTJ that I consider good qualities: they are competent workers, they have high professional standards for themselves and others, they embrace the weird and the creative, they are known as the entrepreneurs, strategists, architects. Some famous INTJs include Mark Zuckerberg, Nikolai Tesla, and other innovative thinkers.

But then, I started to get angry.

Because as I scrolled through my Google results, I started to see headlines like, “How to be a Likable INTJ Woman,” and, “Maintaining Your Femininity as an INTJ Woman,” or, “What It’s Like Being an INTJ Woman (And How to Fix it).” It was like the greater population’s consensus was that I needed to be repaired, reprogrammed. And there was nothing about being a likable INTJ man or person. Just woman.

This all started to make me think about all the times I’ve been called a bitch, arrogant, odd, crazy. How many times people have offered up ways I could improve myself, tricks and tips for behaving like a normal woman. I absorbed that information deeply within myself, as an INTJ would, and took it seriously. I set out to make myself a different me because I truly believed the me I had developed over the course of my life was poorly built. I’m really, really tired of thinking that way. It is hard to be fighting with yourself all the time.

Now that I’m older, I realize…I am odd. That’s okay. Call me odd. But if we are going to throw around nasty terms at one another, I think they should be reserved for those filled with malice, ill-intent, hatred, sadism. I’ve never approached any social situation with anything other than discomfort and obsessive concern about whether or not I’ll be wanted. I don’t think I deserve to be called a bitch because I don’t fit into your idea of what I should be. We may have different interests, but we are both human, and that means something.

And you know what? As Tina Fey once said, “bitches” get stuff done. And so do INTJ women.