Saturday, January 31, 2015

No bathtub, no problem.

Lately, I have found myself getting a lot more stressed out than usual. It's hard for me sit in one place and just unwind. Instead, I try to fill my time outside of work by exercising, cleaning, organizing, etc., but it generally just leaves me feeling exhausted and even more stressed out. To help out with this, I've decided to carve out a little bit of time for myself to decompress. Every house and apartment I've ever lived in, until now, has always had a bathtub for me to fill up with warm water and chill in with some candles and music. Bath-time was a huge part of helping me unwind once in awhile. But now, I think I've found a way to achieve a similar effect in the shower.   

Every night within the last week before I go to bed, I light 2-3 candles, turn off the lights in the bathroom and take a long, hot shower. The dim glow of the candles makes for a very different experience while showering that's immediately relaxing and soothing, very close to those quiet bathtub nights. After, I pat myself dry, slather on some lotion all over and go straight to bed. Stressful and worrying thoughts still race in my head here and there as I fall asleep, but the new night-time shower ritual is helping me pass out much sooner. It's a small change, but it's been pretty impactful; I'll try to remember to keep up with it.

Update on Dry January: 31 days without a drop of alcohol! Amazing, but I think it's time to celebrate with a glass of red tonight. Whoo!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dry January

17 days since my last drink. I've decided to go "dry" this month as part of one of my New  Year's resolutions (to go dry every other month). When I was younger, I remember hearing adults on TV and movies exclaiming how they needed a drink and wondering what that was like. Now I know.

After weeks of non-stop binge drinking starting in October through the holidays, I decided that it was time to get my shit together. I definitely gained weight and I got a cold that I just couldn't get over. It was just gross. But, since cutting out the alcohol after the NYE countdown, I lost most of the weight and I feel a lot better all around. Also, I've been a lot more productive. I've cleaned out my basement, my closet, gotten more work done in the evening and I'm even sleeping more. It's been a very beneficial change.

I can't lie and say it's been easy. Crazy work weeks and biting cold weather just makes me want to go home and drink a gigantic glass of red wine. Or vodka. Even me and Max's Netflix nights don't feel the same without a drink or two. Or three. I'm considering having ONE gin and tonic tonight for Max's show at the Drunken Unicorn, but the idea of showing up sober as a bird at a tiny venue with loud music and standing nuts to butt with a bunch of hipsters seems unthinkable. Although, I really want to see if I can go for the gold and just stay on the wagon for the remainder of this month. I'm already halfway there and I'd like to think that I can do just about anything for a JUST a month... I guess it's time to dig in and see what I'm made of. We'll see how it goes!

Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 New York Trip

Late last year, I tagged along on a trip to New York with Thao. She had two interviews for Medical programs: one in the Hamptons and the other in Queens. We spent five days exploring the different boroughs and taking in all of the typical tourist attractions (but, we still haven't been to the Empire State building or seen the Statue of Liberty!). Throughout our trip, we took video clips here and there, intending to make a video of our travel when we got back home. I had to edit down nearly an hour's worth of short clips, learn how to seamlessly loop a song to lengthen it's running time (still not great), and fuss with resolution to enable uploading onto YouTube. I worked in inconsistents spurts throughout the holidays, so all in all, it took me nearly a month to get the video done. Here's the final product. Enjoy!

I know the quality of the video leaves much to be desired, but overall, I'm satisfied with how it turned out. Honestly, I was getting so sick and tired with editing it, I was happy to just be done with the whole thing. But still, I should probably invest in a good camera at some point.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A case for the audiobook

One day at the gym a few weeks ago, instead of listening to my Spotify while on the treadmill, I decided to finally start Serial (it had been recommended by a few friends and people all over facebook). I was instantly hooked. Not only was I hooked on the story detailing the investigation of a 15-year-old murder case, I was hooked on listening to people talk while I exercised and drove.

After finishing the series, I downloaded the Stitcher app onto my phone and began to listen to many more different podcasts. Some were more enjoyable than others, but I missed the continuous narrative that Serial had provided. Then, while listening to an episode Freakonomics (Brief episodes, very informative and entertaining, I highly recommend it), I heard an ad for Audible and decided to give it a try. When you first sign up, you are credited two audiobooks for free-99. I decided to get Gone Girl. Again, I was hooked. I finished the "book" in a matter of days. I am now starting The Goldfinch

I can't go back to running to music or doing my daily commute to Lake City while listening to the radio or my Pandora. I find that I become much more focused while listening along and my mind tends to wander a lot less than compared to when I listen to music, so ultimately, I'm much more relaxed and I tend to enjoy my time alone at the gym and in my car a lot more. But I have to ask, is this cheating? 

Obviously my mind is not as stimulated as it would be if I were reading an actual book, but it's not quite as mindless as watching TV. I feel as though I am getting just as much out of the novel while listening as if I would reading, but I may be biased; I've always enjoyed being read to. I once made Max read chapters from the Game of Thrones series to me. Although he indulged me, I could tell that he found it somewhat bizarre. I'm not quite sure why, but something about having someone read a story aloud to me is very soothing (maybe it has something to do with my slight Peter Pan complex). 

I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't give my listening to audiobooks any merit, but why not? It's not like I'm listening to Dostoevsky or Dickens; I know to save the "real" novels for actual reading. I'm just not certain that the reading vs listening effects of mystery and thriller novels really make a difference. For example, I know I should buy tickets to see a show like Cirque du Soleil and see it in person, but, I'm not sure that I need to buy movie tickets for The Purge: Anarchy when I can watch it at home via Chromecast with Chinese subtitles (True story: Thao and I have done this). 

Until I figure out just how I feel about this whole thing, I'm probably going to keep enjoying listening to my guilty-pleasure novels while run or drive and call it day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

First Monday of the year and some New Year's Resolutions

Firstly, I would like to say, Happy New Year! This year, we spent NYE at Max's apartment and invited a few close friends to ring in the new year and party the night away. We had finger foods, tons of champagne and vodka shots, danced to endless amounts of early-2000s to 2014 rap music (we blasted a "No Hands" at midnight--a Jonesbrah favorite) and played a round of some rowdy Heads Up!. It was a good night.Too bad the same can't be said for the first Monday of the year.

Today, I woke up extra early to get to Magistrate Court and spent a little over six hours there for dispossessory hearings. It was not fun. I was pretty stressed, but mostly I was hungry. To help pass the time between hearings, I compiled a list of New Year's resolutions for 2015. They are as follows:

1. Make every other month a "sober" month (starting January)
2. Eat out less, cook more. Every week, learn a new dish no matter how simple or complicated.
3. Reach a minimum of 7k steps on my FitBit at least six out of the seven days of the week.
4. Sleep earlier, wake up earlier.
5. Stop skipping breakfast or lunch.
6. Save money for Hawaii in April and Maine in May
7. Lose 20lbs by the end of the year
8. Buy a brand-new couch
9. Embrace the JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out)
10. Watch less TV
11. Get a new job
12. Post something on this damned blog at least once a week
13. Read a new book every month

So, the first Monday of the year was kind of a doozie, but it's over now. I got to end the day eating homemade pho for dinner while hanging out with my adorable nephew to cap the night off.

Now that I think about it, this is the first time in my 28 years of living that I have ever written out my New Year's resolutions. The idea is to write it out to make it more "real" (I've heard about this technique somewhere, probably Seventeen Magazine or some shit), helping me to stay on track. I'm actually excited to see how I'll do with keeping up with this list at the end of the year (assuming I'll remember to check back). Until then, here's to a clean slate and hoping 2015 doesn't punch me in the face the way 2014 did. Whoo!