Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day

It's Monday. Or, at least, I think it's Monday. I can't find a calendar. I've finally awoken from my post-Valentine's-Day-all-things-pink-and-sugary-induced-coma. Picking my head up and looking around after what is 'endearingly' referred to as "Singles Awareness Day' is somewhat similar to opening the front door and walking out into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dying flowers balance precariously on trashcans. Bottles of wine, enough to tackle any Pinterest can-do craft, bulge out of recycling bags. Facebook is littered with pictures of engagement rings and happy couples, and the noise of thousands of girls preparing themselves for the most emotionally straining holiday Hallmark has ever created has died down to a dull roar. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the world. The world immediately after Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day sneaks up on you. You know when it's January, and you're like sure, Valentine's Day is next month, whatever, I don't care. I'm too busy focusing on Day 17 of these New Year's Resolutions. And then all of a sudden, your left third finger starts to feel weird. You notice that it's....empty. Bare. Ugly. Dull. Then subtly, all the commercials you see remind you that there is ALWAYS a perfectly awkward moment for an above average looking guy to hand you a piece of jewelry with a corny line. And then you find yourself developing a craving for chocolate, but ONLY chocolate being sold in heart-shaped boxes from the drug store, that likely is literally the same stuff from last year. Like, the same box. We could probably carbon-date it.....and then woah, it's Valentine's Day. Couples are atwitter with the buzz of dinner plans. Ice-skating rinks, dimly-lit restaurants, horse-drawn carriages, and beaches prepare themselves to be inundated with the happily paired-off. Flowers shake down to their very roots, preparing themselves to be slaughtered in the name of a rose petal paths or bouquets. iTunes sees a 600% increase in the purchase of sappy slow songs (okay, I just made up that statistic, but I'm sure something along those lines is probably true). Enough candles to challenge the supposed power-outage of Y2K are lit to give the proper amount of mood. Ready, set, action: Valentine's Day is here.

Valentine's Day can go one of a thousand directions each year. When you're little, you fill out 30 Valentines for you and your classmates, and are mostly just excited for 7 school hours filled with unlimited amounts of candy (this day falling second to Halloween, of course, where you get to wear a totally awesome costume too). As you get older, you still are excited for the diabetic tendencies of the school day, but you're a little nervous, a little anxious, a little hopeful. Maybe that special person has been waiting until today to buff up his braces and admit his love for you. Maybe that girl who's been coyly giving you 'The Eyes' from her locker will be bold enough to say something on this most special of days. Valentine's Day is the holiday version of alcohol: both give you transient, strong, and temporary confidence. Then you get older, and Valentine's Day can become that obligatory holiday where people ask the couples, "oh, what do you guys have planned for Valentine's Day?" and then said couple is subsequently judged and ostracized if they don't have plans for dinner, fireworks, edible body oils, AND a parade of puppies. Fast forward to the other side of the spectrum, with stereotypical images of single men not even remembering this most holy of Hallmark days, while single women hide at home in sweatpants, proclaiming loudly over bottomless glasses of wine 'I DON'T EVEN CARE. I AM A SINGLE LADY AND IF HE LIKED IT THEN HE SHOULD HAVE PUT A RING ON IT, OKAY? I'M DATING BEN AND JERRY NOW".

Valentine's Day as a kid paves a long road for the future. One of the sweetest Valentine's Day I've ever had was in 7th grade, when one of the more quiet nerds in my class boldly bought every girl a rose and wrote on the card "Happy Valentine's Day, beautiful". Considering how I was several thousand feet into the pit of awkwardness that is being a 13 year old girl (blessed with the unholy trinity of braces, unsteady makeup application, and baby fat), I appreciated someone casting a vaguely romantic gesture my way. While this past Valentine's Day was definitely my best yet, I have to say that I have learned through a parade of single Valentine's Days' that although the holiday is typically designated for Official Couple Who Are In Love, Valentine's Day is also a day for little kids to receive extra hugs and kisses from their parents. And for friends of all ages and genders and preferences to get together. For colleagues to bake brownies, for teachers to hand out little notes to their students, and for friends to text their best friends just to say 'hey, I love you'. It's a day for sugar, sappy movies, plush stuffed animals, and hope. While I can appreciate the couple-tastic nature of the holiday, I think maybe there should be a reminder too that it's a day for all types of love, not just that between two people. So if Valentine's Day got you down for not having your soulmate just yet, or maybe it wasn't full of the fireworks you were hoping for, just remember: "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." (Love Actually). :D

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Girl

Starting a new adventure is a double-edged sword that movies, per usual, failed to prepare me for. (We're not going to discuss how I probably shouldn't look to movies for guidance regarding my life, MMMMMKAY?). In the movies, a girl (likely young, attractive, and still gorgeous in only a pair of perfectly faded jeans and a perfectly faded tank top with only a TOUCH of mascara) moves all of her worldly possessions in a broken-down car or a cab to The Big City where she pursues her Dreams and finds Love, Heartache, and Herself on the way. In movie time, it makes perfect sense that a cute and charismatic young gentleman happens to saunter by as Girl unloads her suitcases from said broken-down car/cab. Young Gentleman would offer a witty statement while effortlessly moving her boxes up 3 flights of stairs with his bulging biceps, all while casually inserting his name, the name of his band, and the upcoming gig she should *totally* stop by later. Girl will, while courting Young Gentleman, find her way in the Big City while making friends and having insane adventures. And why not, it's all so easy to do, right?

Wrong. What movies don't show are the awkward in-between moments when the sensation of moving somewhere new and exciting fades off, and the daily grind without a thriving social life fades in. You know, when the sparkly romantic-comedy cameras turn off, and the boring beige documentary cameras turn on. Don't get me wrong: I have met the most unbelievably kind and compassionate people in my nursing program. These are the people that I will spend the next 14 months with, growing and learning and studying with and freaking out with and drinking and celebrating with, all while being molded into healthcare professionals. And while one day we'll all likely be one big happy dysfunctional family, right now we're all still in the getting-to-know you stages. And even though the getting-to-know-you stage is generally incredibly abbreviated in the healthcare world (if you're going to be saving lives and cleaning up bodily fluids with your coworkers every 10 minutes, there's absolutely no way you're going to be formal), you still need to give it time. No one likes the over-eager mouth breather, right guys? RIGHT?!

This new stage of adventure is just that: its own adventure. And while it is incredibly exciting to be exploring a new town with new people, new restaurants, and a new energy, there's also a lot of downtime that movies conveniently leave out. And by downtime I mean the time I spend in my apartment debating just how necessary a shower is, and figuring out the mathematical equations related to couch-inhabiting (I have determined that if I open a window and rotate on my couch 37 degrees every 4 hours, I'm 89% sure I can avoid bed sores). During this downtime I have become intimately acquainted with rock bottom (or perhaps the underground garage BENEATH rock bottom), since I'm actively lying to the sushi restaurant I order from regarding how many people will be eating this meal of 26 salmon skin rolls. Yes, that many. Did I stutter? I'm just asking for 3 pairs of chopsticks and a lot of soy sauce because me and ALL MY FRIENDS are really going to like this. No matter that I'm the one always picking up the order. WHATEVER.

I have been here for a month, and I have learned several things. First of all, if you can live in an apartment complex that offers a laundry facility on-site, you choose that complex. I don't care if your actual apartment is a rat-infested cardboard box: if you can do laundry 2 floors down, as opposed to 2 blocks away, you take that apartment. AND YOU LOVE IT. Second, if someone promises you that the "joy" of a walk-up apartment is the automatic workout, you slap them in the face. Hard. Third, and most importantly, moving somewhere new does not make you a new person. I was hoping, once I moved, to kind of minimize the awkwardness that has followed me for the first 20-odd years of my life. You know, go from the accident-prone girl to the one who walks away from an explosion, all courageous amazing smooth heroine style. However, I've found that trying repress the awkwardness has made me, in fact, more set in my mishap-full ways. (I've spent the past 4 weeks getting lost, tripping all over myself, and setting my apartment on fire via chicken breast. Yeah, I'm TOTALLY new and improved).

But while you generally are not a new person once you move somewhere new, you do become a better person, with time. Because when you move somewhere new and are thrown into the Unknown, you depend on you to be strong and brave. You take this time to figure out what you like. What makes you happy. What you don't like. What's important to you, and what you cannot bring yourself to care about. And finally, you realize that YOU yourself are enough. That no matter what happens in life, you have you to depend on. This is something you figure out if you're alone in your apartment, or settled in with your friends or family. Really, moving geographically is not the necessary step for figuring out how awesome you are. Pushing yourself to be the New Girl, or the New Guy, in a situation you're not necessarily comfortable with, is. :)