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Archive for the ‘Agitated’ Category

It’s been exactly two years since I moved to the city.

All March, I had been frantically searching for apartments on Craigslist, trying to find the perfect place that wouldn’t break the bank, and kept striking out. Crumbling walls. Exposed wires. Crazy layouts. Possible death traps.

Finally, in mid-March of 2009, I walked into my current place, took one look around, and asked for the lease.

At the time, I was what my mother would call “transitioning.” I had returned from Haifa the summer before, started a new job in the winter of ’08/’09, and finally put together enough pieces of the post-graduate puzzle to move to the city. The only problem was that I didn’t know anyone. Or, barely anyone.

I started joking about Friend #1, a Cornellian who was starting his PhD coursework, and Friends #2 and #3, who had recently  married each other. I had a terrible feeling I’d never meet numbers 4, 5, and 6. That I’d wander around on weekends, sit in cafes, watch the city hum with energy, and feel utterly outside all the excitement.

But things quickly fell into place after I signed for my apartment. I ran into old friends on the street, caught up with them over coffee, and began connecting with new people. Soon enough, I didn’t have to number my Boston friends anymore.

2009 seems like a lifetime ago now, but when I reach back into my memory on this two year anniversary, I can still tap into that original anxiety.

Weather: It snowed again today, and that’s not an April Fool’s Day joke.

Moods:

Anna – 7 out of 10. Weekend!

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Early this fall, in a fit of energy, four friends and I set out on a mini road trip. Our first stop was Portland, Maine. There was a cold edge to the air, but the sun was shining, and we were thrilled to be adventuring. There was only one problem: one of our close friends and connector-extraordinaire, D., had just moved across the country. We felt her absence.

It was also clear that, if anything, this was going to be our last blast of summer. That the cold edge was quickly going to become an all-consuming freeze. And that soon enough, we’d be taking day trips to cross country ski, not eat and explore.

Over lunch, someone suggested we band together to throw a party. We could rent a space, invite friends, and convince D. to fly back for the celebration. But when? Our Google calendars were already crammed with back-to-the-grind fall events, then the holidays loomed. So we settled on the worst month of all, the month when everyone seems bored and slightly on edge: February.

Which leads me to this past weekend. Saturday night, it poured, but at the Four Winds, we took little notice—we were laughing and chattering and dancing. I (subtly) put my newly-acquired DDR moves to good use, which proved easy enough thanks to the infectious rhythms created by DJ Face. D. even hopped in a plane, flew 3,000 miles, and joined us for a night of sorely-needed good cheer.

People kept asking why or what we were celebrating. Our answer: excellent friends who make the bleakest of months seem sunny.

Weather: Blue skies and warm-ish. Hopefully the 38-degree temperature will melt the snow and prevent more roof collapses.

Moods:

Anna – 5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Back to reality.

Hannah – 4.5 out of 10. Monday.

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My downstairs neighbors must hate me. Yesterday, during a random craving for exercise, I set up my roommate’s Wii, which I’ve never played before, and tried my hand (my feet?) at Dance Dance Revolution. I flailed about the room, attempting to hit the steps, and instead kept getting booed by the Wii for my constant screw-ups. In my defense, it was not at all clear why the game never registered shakes of the left-hand controller, or the right-hand one.

Clearly, I didn’t read the instructions.

Ever since I returned from Europe, I’ve had a case of the fitness blahs.  The food in Vienna, Prague, and Berlin was heavy and oil-laden, and rarely included anything green or brightly colored. It was a relief to fill up on salads in Greece, and the fact that I drenched vegetables in olive oil—good fats!—felt healthy. Most days I spent on my feet, touring museums, exploring alleyways and side streets, or running up 500 steps to “that seemingly-close acropolis over there.”

Now that I’m back and cooped up because of the snow, I’m desperate to sweat and exert myself—not my typical impulse. The sidewalks remain treacherous and barely shoveled. The streets have been overtaken by ice mountains and funny-looking snowmen, like the one below. And running up and down the stairs in my building just doesn’t sound appealing.

Tonight I’ll try my hand at DDR again and hope my neighbors don’t complain. A gym membership now seems essential, so signing up is on my to-do list. Until then, though, what would you do if you were me?

Weather: A slushy, nasty wintry mix. Good thing Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow today.

Moods:

Anna – 5.5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Cabin fever!

Hannah – 4.5 out of 10. She’s cold, even though she has heat.

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I relaxed on Sunday. My one foray into the outside world was for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. (Of note: my favorite suburban coffee shop is closed on Sundays.) Otherwise, I read. And listened to my mother fret about the impending snowstorm. Okay, okay. She was right—blizzard.

I spent the rest of my non-reading day watching weather updates on the news, talking about plows, and eavesdropping on the telephone updates my mother received from her weather-inclined friends.

Somewhere between discussions of salt, sand, and shoveling techniques, we flashed back to the December ice storm that clobbered this area two years ago. It left us without heat, electricity, and sanity. And we were the lucky ones—our power resumed after a mere four days. Other people were off the grid for weeks.

That ice storm was an anomaly. You see, we had no idea it would be so bad. We didn’t know it was going to knock a tree onto our brand new car. Or partially sever a tree branch right over our kitchen roof. When we finally shoved the tree off the car—still driveable—and piled in on a quest for a hot cup of coffee (priorities!), the only place in town that still had power was the insurance agency. Go figure.

Now, back to last Sunday. As any good daughter would, I reminded my mother that she was acting like somebody else she knew. My grandmother.

Especially around the holidays, my grandmother used to become the queen of weather reports. Is there a possibility of snow? Ice? Freezing rain? Anything that would impact her drive from her house to ours?  When she’d finally arrive, safely, she’d relax…until her return journey neared.

I like to think weather obsession is not genetic. I tease my mom about her constant monitoring. (FYI: Monday night’s news provided another few hours of weather gluttony for her.) And I don’t have to worry about driving in bad conditions since I don’t own a car. But I’ll admit to listening to the weather report on the radio each morning before setting off for the train station—I mean, what if it’s going to snow?

Weather: Blue skies over a blinding white blanket of snow.

Moods:

Anna – 5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. I was a 4.5 earlier in the day, but now I’m neutral.

Hannah – 5 out of 10. Post-Christmas exhaustion.

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Yesterday, while walking through Harvard Yard, I crossed paths with three shrieking girls. At first, their high-pitched voices concealed the meaning of their words, but after some careful eavesdropping, I deciphered:

Girl 1: “I feel it! It’s here! There are tiny snowflakes hitting my face! It’s real! AHHHHHHH!”

Girl 2: “You just have to embrace it! Embrace the snow!!!”

Girl 3: [Shrieks with laughter]

Girl 1: “Snow! AHHHHHH!!!”

Yes, indeed it snowed yesterday, but the flakes were tiny and silvery rather than fat and white. And really, if there isn’t enough snow on the ground to make an itty-bitty snowman, does it really even count?

But still, here’s to the amusing antics caused by frozen precipitation—and it’s only just the start of the season!

Weather: Chilly, blue skies.

Moods:

Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. She’s alert.

Hannah – 6 out of 10. She gave me a desperate look when I asked—she has a lot to do.

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Nobody likes a grinch. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into the holiday spirit.

Maybe it’s because I dislike shopping. Trying to make a morally justifiable purchase (fair trade? locally produced? organic? important? desirable?) can be paralyzing. Trying to select a personal, unique, and affordable gift is equally challenging. And pushing through throngs of shoppers while listening to Christmas carols gives me nightmares.

Or maybe it’s because growing up, the holidays were always a battle. In seventh grade my Spanish teacher wanted us to perform “holiday” songs at the school talent show. (“They’re not Christian!” she said. “Jesus is never mentioned!” “Feliz Navidad means merry Christmas,” I replied.) This is not really antisemitism. It’s just frustrating.

When I moved away from home, it got worse. Because of the nature of the Jewish calendar, Jewish holidays almost never fall during vacation time. So I spent my holidays alone, usually swamped with schoolwork. There’s nothing like thirty-page essays and final exams to dampen the holiday spirit.

I know that tonight is the first night of Chanukah because my non-Jewish friends have been e-mailing me all day, wishing me well. As for me, it may be grinch-like, but I’m trying to wipe Chanukah off my emotional calendar entirely.

That way, I should actually be able to enjoy the best part of the holiday. Latkes, anyone?

Weather: rainy and cool

Mood:

Hannah: 6 out of 10 on the  “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale.

Anna: Staying steady at 7.

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In my first post, I discussed how October can leave me feeling excited and agitated. I plan, I commit to various activities, and I keep myself wildly busy as the school year begins, even though it’s been years since my life has synched with the academic calendar.

Here’s another confession: I also “nest.”

I realize that “nesting” is a term that seems to be applied only to birds and pregnant women these days—categories into which I certainly don’t fit—but it’s exactly what I find myself doing come autumn.

You know those pumpkin-laden porches I mentioned before? Well, once I see them, I want to fill my own apartment with strange-looking dimpled gourds and squash. Last year, I managed to keep a few pumpkins on my windowsill through January. Magically, they didn’t rot.

I’m not one to seasonally decorate, so this impulse is an aberration of sorts. The coziness of autumnal color schemes, bowls of apples and squash, and the smell of pumpkin pie is too powerful for me to resist!

But artfully arranged displays of oddly-shaped vegetation is only the beginning. This is also the time of year when I “refresh” my apartment. I replace odd things, like bathmats, sheets, and toothbrush holders. I arrive home with bags of scented candles. And I go on mini DIY sprees. Last weekend, were friends to have stopped by, they would have found me wielding two paint brushes, touching up the walls.

So while on the one hand I go out of my way to participate in new things in the fall, I also try to make my home as comfortable as possible. A welcoming place filled with warm cheer. And of course, with seasonal fruit.

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