A restless nights sleep

Sleep is a time for your body to relax and rejuvenate itself for the next day. It’s graceful and peaceful and pictureesque.

Except not for me.

Sleep is a time for me to be in about as much physical motion as I am awake. Let’s just say I’m like a weird zombie when I sleep. It’s probably one of my most embarrassing traits because I have no chance of controlling how weird it gets. At least when I’m awake and being a creep, I know it’s happening and can mitigate it. So with a bit of shame, here’s a list of things I’ve done in my sleep that are bizarre. And I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list because someone has to be awake to tell me it’s happening for me to know it happened.

Let’s start off mildly and work our way to the extremes. When I was younger, I used to share a room with my sister, so we can thank her for the observations she’s collected over the years.

You sound like a beached whale.

Ahhhh, what a compliment. It takes me awhile every night to find a comfy way to lay, so as eloquently as my sister said it, I sound like a big dying fish out of water.

And if I couldn’t find that comfy way to lay, I’d shake my legs because I’d be getting annoyed that I could not fall asleep. So let’s call that my restless leg syndrome.

Then, I’d eventually fall asleep, wake up again, and convince myself that I had never slept at all. So then I’d go downstairs to tell my mom about it. Or better yet, I’d wake her up to tell her I wasn’t asleep.

But what can be even worse than that? Oh, just me sleepwalking downstairs. Then I’d wake up mid-way through some mumbles to my mom and get terribly freaked out.

Or I’d wake up sitting in my closet.

Or in the middle of the floor.

Or sitting in between me and my sisters bed on the shag rug.

And then it’d be really dark, so I’d just lay back down and sleep on the floor until it was light enough to be able to see my bed again.

So THANK GOD I stopped sleepwalking in my later years, but I’m not totally out of the woods yet. I’m still a creepy sleeper from time to time.

I talk in my sleep pretty regularly, and then have to remember to warn people that it’ll probably happen. I grind my teeth, and I’m somewhat convinced I snore a little when I sleep on my back.

And oh yeah, I dress and undress myself. For example, I like to sleep naked a lot. There’s just nothing like the feeling of sheets all over you. Anyways, if I go to bed naked, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll wake up with a shirt that I had put on at some point in the night.

And vice versa. Sometimes I wake up and I just so happened to be missing my shirt. Awesome.

But potentially the creepiest thing I have started doing is looking at my phone. This really should be a sign of the times. I shit you not, I’ve read and answered texts before. Nothing major, and most of the time I just instinctively read it and roll over, but this one time I looked at my phone and realized I sent a text saying “just don’t even worry about it,” to a statement that really did not deserve anything remotely similar to that response.

I no longer sleep with my phone within reach, but I wouldn’t put it past me that it can happen again.

So now that I’ve shared probably the trait that I have that freaks me out the most, who wants to have a sleepover?

Exercising my right to complain about exercise classes [guest]

By Cazey Williams

Sara told me that people like lists, and I like complaining. In fact, to get my own tab on Tweets & Mascara, I told Sara, “I bet I can find something to complain about every week.”

I assume most people have attended some sort of exercise class in their life. So tonight I thought I’d list what spikes my blood pressure in group exercise classes other than actually working out. For example:

When class ends early. When I ate my third slice of pizza at lunch (or let’s be real, fourth, because is anyone taking that?), I am anticipating a full 60 minutes of sweat. So when the instructor has me out of the room ten minutes to the top of the hour, I haven’t reached my perceived quota of calories burned. What am I supposed to do? Hop on a treadmill for a 10-minute interval training program? Or better yet, order more pizza when I get home?

Similarly, when class begins late, this ticks me off. 1.) You’re cutting into my hour of calorie burning. And 2.) I’m here to exercise my body, not my social anxiety. Enough awkward time with my phone out of reach!

“You’re stronger than your mind.” This is how instructors begin a lot of classes. And you’re right; I am. Because I am here and did not skip. I resisted going early to happy hour / devouring dark chocolate blueberries that aren’t even actual blueberries (looking at you, Brookside Dark Chocolates) / working through life responsibilities that can’t be left behind at the office. But that does NOT mean I can physically push my legs faster or maintain this plank for a minute.

“You choose what to do.” The instructor says, “Take three minutes and do your favorite exercise, drill, stretch, etc.” I purposefully signed up for this class to surrender my autonomy. Don’t ask me what I want to do. All day I have decided what to wear, what to eat, how to sign emails (Thanks? Best? Sincerely?), etc. Now, YOU tell me how to work my triceps.

Partner drills. “Grab a partner.” Time out. I didn’t come here to speed date. I struggle to make eye contact with my own reflection in the mirror during a class, let alone asking the dripping stranger beside me whether we can press feet together (their soles are brown; mine aren’t much better) and do buddy boat pose.

Or worse, the instructor wants me to cheer on my partner. Back to me not making eye contact: I will not draw more attention to myself by telling my newfound acquaintance that they’re killing it or “Go, go, go!” How about no? Or I’ll kill you.

Lying about the time. I saved the best for last: The instructor says it’s a seven minute climb on the bike. Fourteen minutes later, we’re still climbing. Or they say, “Five,” pause for five seconds, “four,” pause for five seconds, “three,” pause, etc. There is no beating around this bush: I’ll burn it down right here. You’re a ****ing liar, I don’t trust you anymore, and I am neither climbing nor give a crap about you because you have backstabbed me in the heat of a workout, and now I hope your shower after this consists of the toxins leaking from my pores.

Leave your complaints about exercise classes in the comments!

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Twenty-Something Perspective

A really popular topic for any millennial to cover in a blog is their definition of their twenties. Here’s mine:

Perspective.

That’s what my twenties mean to me.

In high school, my mother (God bless her) would wake up every morning and make me breakfast to eat and a lunch to bring with me. And I would essentially hate her for it.

“Good morning Sara! I made you waffles today.”

“Whhhhhhhy must you torment me with words so early in the morning.” Then I’d probably shoot some lasers from my eyes at her in between rolling them.

Did I actually hate her? I hated mornings, she was around, so clearly it was her fault.

Ahhhh, but with a bit of perspective, we can clearly see that it was indeed not my mother’s fault (or at least as far as I know, she wasn’t the cruel, cruel person behind high school starting at 7am) but I took it out on her because she was around.

Sometimes taking a step back and realizing what is causing the grief – and putting things into correct perspective- can make everything a lot easier to handle.

Here’s another more recent example. Sometimes work gives me anxiety. Some days, it’s just really hard. And I wear my feelings on my sleeve, so everyone knows if I’m not feeling it on any given day. And this one day, a truly wonderful woman put it so easily into perspective, it’s something I remind myself when I’m feeling stressed.

“You got a job straight out of college that uses your major at an international development organization. That’s a big deal.”

When you think of it like that, it’s the perfect blend of an accomplishment, and an explanation of why it will be hard from time to time. Attempting to solve poverty is a really difficult goal. Every day isn’t going to be perfect.

So while putting things into perspective isn’t easy, nor will it always make you feel better, it helps to process the feelings you might be having at a deeper level than just the surface details.

Perspective. That’s the biggest lesson the twenties have provided me, and a lesson that I will continue to learn more about, I’m sure.

Ignorance Spreads Illness

So typically I like to keep my work-blog life decidedly separate, but there’s one topic that I find absolutely fascinating and want to talk about. It’s scary. It’s serious. And it’s not talked about enough. It’s Ebola.

I am in no way an expert on Ebola, so there’s my disclaimer, but I do know enough to write intelligently about it. And I brought a ton of linked sources into this post to back me up.

What I find most fascinating about Ebola is the ignorance that surrounds it. The ignorance causes it to spread, but it also hinders fundraising for it. By now you probably know that this is the worst Ebola outbreak ever, so what is making it so bad? See previous sentence for the answer (ignorance). And I’m not using the word lightly, and I’m not pointing fingers. It’s a collective and problematic lack of effort, lack of awareness and lack of intelligence.

At the root of the problem is that the countries where Ebola is spreading, people believe it is caused by witchcraft, or that doctors are injecting people will Ebola. Try helping to stop the spread of a disease when people don’t actually believe that the disease is actually a disease, or that going to the hospital will kill you. It makes treatment impossible. People are dying on the streets and not knowing why. Or blaming black magic.

Raising awareness is a key to stopping the spread of the disease. But so is treating the people that already have it. And protecting those that don’t. Which leads to the problem that people stop the spread by blockading cities from each other. So then the blockade, which could potentially stop the spread of the disease, cuts off the entire economy of the segmented area. Which is deadly in the long run for the already fragile economies of these affected areas.

So there’s the internal problems happening within the Ebola-affected countries. But there are bigger problems too. WHO admits we acted too slowly (because of budget cuts), which doesn’t bode well for future similar outbreaks. We didn’t take it seriously enough.

And the last bit of ignorance falls on the American perception of the disease. 40 percent of those polled say they believe we will have a major Ebola outbreak in the United States. Let’s talk about this. We know it’s a real disease. We have a solid health care system. We can easily contain it. Yet, when we think about ourselves and fear it here, that doesn’t help those that are really affected by it.

And this last statement is purely what I think, so there won’t be any links backing me up on this, but I believe we aren’t talking about it enough. We’re ignoring a pretty big deal. And that’s a form of ignorance.

Anxiety in all forms [guest post]

Editor's Note: I get anxiety from work and overwhelming social plans, but in this blog post, Cazey toes the line of taboo and explains his daily struggle with a specific type of anxiety. Enjoy!

By Cazey Williams

Today I want to talk about a little known disorder that afflicts some average Americans like myself. I suffer from ABS, otherwise known as Anxious Bladder Syndrome, first described by yours truly in 2013. The primary symptom is inability to urinate when people are around.

Common treatment includes telling your friend they can’t go to the restroom at the same time as you. Repeating you’re dead serious, yeah, it might sound like a good idea to go to the bathroom before the movie begins/food gets here/your drink arrives, but it was my idea first, and I can’t pee if you join, so stay in your seat.

Alternatively, one can seek a toilet in the far, deserted corners of the building. My life consists of walking into bathrooms, seeing occupied urinals and/or feet beneath stalls, and U-turning – whiplash notwithstanding. Gosh forbid someone sees me walk in. Once, I needlessly washed my hands before hunting for a vacant restroom. What a waste of water.

Thankfully, I work and attend grad school in a 24-story office building. This means I have 23 anonymous restrooms to choose from, because obviously I don’t use my own floor’s restroom. That’s playing Russian roulette. Once, someone decided to brush their teeth and floss while, hello, I’m trying to pee here. Worse, my floor’s restroom doesn’t get LTE, so my phone struggles to load Instagram while I wait for my distended bladder to do something about itself.

By law of parsimony, I go down one floor in my building to use the bathroom. All summer this has been my urinary sanctuary. The lights flick on when you enter. No one visits, not even the janitor. I know because of the stall against the wall: A janitor needs to visit. Here, I can find relief without tensing that someone may walk in and, consequently, drying up like a spilled Slurpee in a Target parking lot during a heat wave in August.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. This oasis was always indefinite: Eventually, someone on this floor would recognize me as the frequent visitor with no other purpose than urinating – and maybe a stop at the water fountain.

But I didn’t expect it to end how it did.

I had been double-fisting water and iced coffee all morning. For my kidneys’ health, I had to pee. On the way to my safe haven, I hear a familiar voice – my professor’s: “What are you doing down here?”

I lie, “The bathroom upstairs is full, and I have to go.”

Professor proceeds to lead us into the bathroom where he tells me that this is the best bathroom in the whole building. Don’t I know it. “Only two men work on this floor, so no one’s ever in here.” Except you, sir; you’re in here right now.

I lock myself in a stall. Professor selects a urinal and begins his business. Without hesitation. I fake text, ruffle with the toilet paper, bite my lip – everything, but pee. I can’t even squeeze out a drop. Finally, Professor zips up. The silence from my stall SCREAMS, even over the sound of him washing his hands.

You’d think I could go once he leaves, but I have lost the urge. The anxiety of this encounter will carry over into every future visit to this bathroom.

ABS 1, me 0.

This land is my land

One thing I don’t hide about myself is how much I love where I live, which is the beautiful River City of Richmond, Virginia. To pay homage to my new(ish) homeland, here are some of my favorite #RVA landscape pictures.

All pictures are from my Instagram and shot using my trusty iPhone 5.

Terrible Tact

So I have a confession: I have terrible tact. And it’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

When I was in elementary school, I once ate one of those individually wrapped Mrs. Fields cookies before dinner. Being an ignorant chubster, I threw the wrapper in the trash and neglected to even wipe the chocolate fully off my face. Obviously my mother approached me, and asked if I happened to eat a cookie before dinner. I said no. A boldface lie.

Momma picked up on it, and told me not to lie. As some may say, be good or be good at it. So I decided to be good. I just wouldn’t lie anymore, because I was so bad at it.

It was after this realization that a girl that I did not like asked me if I hated her. Don’t lie, right? So I said yes, I did in fact hate her. She proceeded to ask me why, so I named off a few reasons I hated her. Then I thought nothing more of it.

That was, until my mom got called because I told a girl I hated her, which apparently isn’t socially acceptable. So my mom naturally asked me why I told a girl I hated her. And I just said, “You told me not to lie!” and still couldn’t figure out why this was my fault. On top of me telling the truth, I can’t help if someone lobbed it to me. Don’t ask someone what they think of you unless you really want to know!

Okay, okay, so these days I understand where I went a little wrong; that there are nice ways to phrase things, and then there are rude ways to phrase things. But I still sometimes find it difficult to answer those tough, direct questions with any amount of tact.

Do you really want to ask me why we are disconnected? Because I’ll give it to you straight, despite you probably not wanting the real answer to it. Nudge me a bit more and you’ll get an ear full — which isn’t what anyone wants.

 

The One True Hero of Tonight [guest post]

By Cazey Williams

Tonight I visited our friend, Sara (assuming we’re all friends if you’re reading this blog), and she basically ignored me while she worked on an upcoming blog (salacious tidbit: it’s about Ebola). And so, since I’m a millennial, I can’t occupy myself, so I turned to the TV where ABC was playing some Game of Thrones spinoff. Except, wait, it’s a reality show.

Yes, folks . . . that doesn’t make sense, does it?

Consequently, we decided that I should narrate this experience of watching “The Quest,” otherwise known as “Lord of the Rings” on primetime ABC featuring bad actors and LARPers escaped from their mothers’ basements, for Tweets & Mascara’s first ever pop culture blog.

This show might already be better than “The Bachelor,” because their first task in tonight’s episode is to kill a dragon.

“You can hear the dragon breathing and feel the earth shaking,” a woman tells us. No, ma’am, that’s the camera work.

Contestant Lina makes a “stupid mistake.” Quote unquote her. Gosh, the dragon might eat her.

At this point we can’t even see the dragon. There are just a lot of fog machines. Wait, I’m probably supposed to mistake that for smoke.

“I hope everyone is having this problem,” a man tells the camera (presumably after the chaos has subsided), “because if not, I’ll look like a fool.” Because you aren’t freaking out about a CGI dragon or anything. If it’s even CGI. If we even see it.

“I have to remind myself what I’m fighting for,” a burly man vents in his video diary. Like, what are you fighting for, sir? A cash prize? Tickets to Comic Con? Or is it Galleons at Gringotts?

Following the dragon saga (which not sure what happened), we learn that our contestants have to face the Fates who primarily consist of a youthful, but bald woman who stares into the camera and whispers stuff about the quest – you know, the name of the show. Very self-explanatory stuff.

“We just gotta focus on the Fates now,” a woman who looks like Zena lets us know. “We just gotta remember, we locked up the dragon, we’re good now.” So that’s what happened to the dragon.

Apparently everyone wants to be the one true hero. This phrase is repeated at every turn. Someone informs the viewer, “They’re other things that a hero needs to possess to be the one true hero.” But you don’t need 20/20 vision if you’re a Harry Potter fan.

Sara laments, “The amount of times I’ve heard ‘one true hero’ is sorta surreal.” Not as surreal as that dragon.

Then they discuss who has the sun sphere. Gtfo. I go to the bathroom.

When I return, our contestants are going after the, sigh, dragon’s eggs. How is this primetime television again?

“We get to this barren field with these deep pits,” contestant Bonnie describes as the camera lets us see a barren field with deep pits. In these pits are the eggs, which will burn you if you touch them. Thanks for letting us know.

“After getting up to the dragon egg, you can smell it,” Zena’s twin says. Tell me, Zena, what does dragon smell like?

Back at the Fates, someone gets voted out. Excuse me, banished. Or was she Fate’d?

Bye-bye – but wait, she has wisdom for us: “Being a hero doesn’t mean you have to go and save an entire kingdom. You can be a hero in your everyday life.” Or star in your own ABC reality show.

Bonnie will now live action role play as a motivational speaker.

After watching this show for an entire hour (though distracted by a dog that wants a walk and Sara bending over chip dip in front of the TV), I’m still confused.

Here’s the key to making it through work today

Cazey texted me a link to this album this morning, and it’s been a stellar addition to my work day today. So stellar that I wanted to share it on here, which I usually don’t do. I think I speak for both of us when I say it’s highly recommended:

http://www.mtv.com/artists/vance-joy/#vh1

My only real problem with this album is that I had a chance to see it performed live and I missed out! He was at Firefly it turns out, as was I, but I didn’t know about him at that time. Such a moment of FOMO and a total bummer. Here’s hoping Vance Joy comes to my town, or any town near me.

Let Cazey and me know what your thoughts are about Vance’s new album in the comments. Any chance you’ll be buying it? I know Cazey will be buying it and giving it to me as a gift. Well, maybe not that second part of the sentence.

Meet Vance Joy.
Meet Vance Joy.