What’s the opposite of a quitter?

Registering for classes was one of my favorite parts of college. *Nerd alert* true, but there was a true craft in clocking in at exactly the correct time, entering my course codes and within seconds getting confirmation that I got the classes I wanted/needed or frantically skipping to the backups I picked. I knew what the requirements were, and I meticulously planned out which courses would satisfy which criteria, and multiple alternate selections if multiple that I needed would be held at conflicting times or if not enough spots opened up or GASP, if I wasn’t fast enough to secure some of them. We [nerds] used to hover at the website, refreshing feverishly until the designated time we were allowed to perform the holy ritual of crafting the perfect schedule. The entirety of your success, happiness, and sleep for an entire semester depended on it!

At the university where I work, students are constantly changing their course schedule during the first couple weeks. They “shop around,” attending and dropping whatever classes don’t serve them, or seem like it might be less than ideal. My friends did this too, but I was never a big fan of the method. Snap decisions based on one fifty-minute period surely couldn’t be trusted. I had signed up for these classes for Reasons, and I was going to finish what I started. Maybe the prof seemed a little weird and humorless, maybe the syllabus was droll and the reading list looked joyless, but by god, I signed up for that class for a reason, and I was going to stick it out!

I dropped a class last week, and I feel great about it. There is an auditing program for members of the community, and I snatched a spot in a highly coveted class (about Pompeii) using the aforementioned laser-focused speed in scheduling. In the weeks leading up to the first class, I was excited about it! It was going to be my treat to myself every Monday and Wednesday, and I would happily give my lunch hour those days to sit and listen to an actual archaeologist talk about it! But when I got there, it just didn’t feel right. It went beyond the teeny wooden desk.. it made me realize lecture classes were never my thing. I had to be able to talk about the material; otherwise, it felt like I could have just read a book about it. If an auditor must be silent, I must not be an auditor.

So I didn’t stick it out. And the world did not go up in flames of guilt! I emailed the program to drop and that’s when I learned how big of a waitlist it had–on top of saving my registration fee and getting back two days of potential lunch dates with coworkers, I freed up a spot for someone else who was likely discouraged by the lengthy waitlist! My backing out made someone’s day.

In terms of other drastic life changes, I also quit my Hello Fresh subscription after months of ingredient issues and glutinous, lactose-filled products. Hello Fresh has been delivering my food for more than a year, but I can’t eat half the sauces/extras/essential ingredients they send! So why did clicking “cancel my subscription” stress me out so much??

Why am I loyal to things that don’t work for me? I swear, sometimes I am so stuck in my routine that I need someone to stand up and scream CHANGE IT UP! a la a line change in Mighty Ducks 2.

I signed up for and am loving a different grocery service (Hungryroot), and am trying out another one (Green Chef) next week. I put my audit course refund towards another sewing class, which will force me to use social skills AND make something with my hands.

And, I fully intend to try another class in the spring, if only for the thrill of snagging a spot.

By the Numbers

I’ve never been great at setting goals. I know what I want to happen, but don’t set up any solid checkpoints to lead to those things. Instead, I just sort of see what happens. This go-with-the-flow nature drives people crazy if they are principled/regimented/controlling of their own environments and goals. It may seem like lack of ambition, but I think I’m just fairly easygoing and could be pleased with many outcomes.

The safest (and only) solid goal I set each year is my Goodreads challenge number. I estimate that I’ll read 100 books per year. This is doubtlessly a lot, but many librarians do this or more. The name flipping pages like mad comes from how much I read (or, read, past-tense). Currently, I’m 13 books behind schedule, and that gives me a small jolt of anxiety.

Last year, I failed my Goodreads challenge.

Actually, I didn’t make the goal for the previous two years either! (Despite padding the list with the occasional children’s book 🙂

These days, it’s more like flipping pages like meh. I’ve almost entirely given up on reading physical books, sticking only with audio. My reading has slowed down because I’m not in the library, because I was depressed and didn’t feel like doing anything this winter, because I now listen to more (drag) podcasts, and also because I’m doing other things! I think I have hobbies!

The most exciting of these hobbies is working out–not because I’m now a gym rat, but because my body is working better. Getting my blood pumping is the single best thing for my anxiety/depression, and I need to build strength and muscle that have atrophied from a lengthy disuse. For so long, I have had bad wrists, bad feet, and a bad back. I’ve avoided any exercise that would put stress on these areas. (This includes a lot of exercise.) I backed off because I was in pain, and didn’t try to test my body or do a consistent routine to build back muscle for fear of more pain. I shut down in the face of the obstacles.

It would have taken an actively fractured bone, though, to keep me from playing softball. It has finally resumed after 2 years lost to the pandemic, and I’m so happy about it! I had missed the camaraderie and the game in general. I was worried about throwing and catching hurting my wrists, and it did hurt, but not bad and not for long! The absence of extreme pain was a whole miracle.

One of my best friends who I respect and adore suggested that we tour gyms, and we both loved one and signed up. We are both anxiety-heads who were the only ones wearing masks in the gym we visited in December, but by May, we had accepted that our need to strengthen our bodies outweighed our tendency to avoid society/contamination. The gym offers free monthly sessions with a trainer, and I realized during and after, that my various bad spots weren’t hurting as much as I had expected/feared. The anticipation of fear was worse than the reality. I can even squat with a workout bar (albeit with a disappointingly low weight). The numbers are embarrassing to anyone who knows what they’re doing, but I’m thrilled I can even DO it without major pain.

It’s not about the numbers! It’s about the habits, and improving consistently. I’m making some goals, namely to workout twice per week. And the books I DO listen to, I enjoy. Recently, I loved Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights (who woulda thought!) and currently I’m listening to Luvvie Ajayi’s Professional Troublemaker. Even if I don’t catch up to my book goal, I’m reading quality, not quantity. Rest when actively injured, then get back to building strength, even if it hurts a little.

I Prescribe: Rupaul’s Drag Race

New blog, who dis? It has been a while since I’ve written consistently, and you may be asking yourself, what has she been doing instead? Great question! A smattering of happy things, a move, a winter’s worth of depression, a constant stream of desserts and viewing 13 seasons of Drag Race (and almost all 6 seasons of All Stars). Because working out does not appear in that list, I have also gained the ability to not fit into any of my pants. But more about Drag Race!

Late to the game, I started watching Rupaul’s Drag Race last summer. On the surface, it is the familiar format of a competition show, but for drag queens–raunchy and ridiculous, stupid and overly dramatic but chock full of heart. Watching it with my housemate is one of my favorite things because we are both self-decreed judges of all the looks and performances, and my fandom has brought me closer to and able to converse in new ways with many people I deem very cool. Being able to talk to cool people is a huge win if you have social anxiety!! The show is also a clear departure from my real life, as I am not blessed to know any real-life drag queens.

I’ve made a conscious point to talk up the show to as many people as possible. Do I think all of them will want to go watch it? No, and that’s okay. But recently someone asked why I find drag so compelling, and I gave a not great answer, so consider this my attempt to properly convey my rationale.

Prior to watching Drag Race, I had never been to a drag show. I was intimidated by the idea in college, and only in February did I get to go to my first show. I didn’t feel like I deserved to enter a queer space, and besides, drag queens seemed kind of obnoxious. John Mulaney has a great bit about how drag queens all generally portray the same type of woman: brassy and bossy and, well, kind of the personality of a man.

Drag Race is known as the Olympics of drag, and I now have a ton of respect for the art form. It takes so much skill to do the makeup, and create all the garments, and dance, and act, and perform in front of an audience in any way. They are talented, they are big, hilarious personalities, and above all, it’s the confidence for me. Many of the queens use this art form as a way to empower themselves and overcome their insecurities and demons. Though the judges (and fellow contestants) can be critical about what a queen has brought that week, Ru ends every show by asking ‘if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get a amen?’

The emphasis on self-love, body positivity, and finding a community that supports you is everything to someone whose confidence was cut off at the knees in 2020 and has felt split from the community that used to be family. The humor and humanity the queens show inspire me and make it (feel) worthwhile to have done little else other than watch this show for months. It has been escapism at its finest, and a gentle invitation to love myself while simultaneously trashing queens who do bad jobs. Definitely not a perfect pastime, but I do credit it with helping me pass the time during a depressive period. I needed my mind elsewhere, and Ru provided that. I would do well to channel the confidence and humor of a drag queen (a splash of their makeup skill wouldn’t hurt either).

In summary, if you need a creative diversion for your seasonal or not seasonal malaise, I recommend this television program.

In conclusion, spring is here! Pandemic life is starting to reopen and feel less scary. My social circle has started to widen again. I am able to focus on a topic and deem it worthy of writing a blog! I do retain the right to hideaway immediately hereafter, but.. say hello! I’ve probably missed you.

A snapshot of the excellence of drag 🙂

THE amazing Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000 herself. Her book is great–check out the audio too!

*also, one note: Ru is always a consummate professional, except for the one time she was being roasted and pulled a double bird (photo featured in this post). I feel compelled to say this sass is not the typical behavior from the host, but an exception.