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Stress Cooking

I didn’t realize it until about 1pm today, but this election season is stressing me out.

Sure, I’d read about the study done by APA saying 52% of American adults living in the United States who say “2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress,” but I didn’t think much about it.

I also didn’t think much about how I’ve avoided addressing the election in my classroom, despite it being relevant to the dissection of race and gender in my writing courses.

It only started to really add a blip to my radar when a certain candidate whose name I’m not typing at risk of bringing his followers to my site pledged to sign a bigoted, discriminatory Act.

We celebrated our first anniversary where we got married, and then proceeded to joke about a Voldemort-Ready plan if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wins.

We celebrated our first anniversary where we got married, and then proceeded to joke about a Voldemort-Ready plan if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wins.

Heck, when my wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary exactly one week before Election Day, we half joked about creating a game plan on what to do if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named becomes President. (It’s still a vague plan, mostly because neither one of us wants to process this being a possibility.)

 

 

 

Today, around 1pm, as I flipped on the Giants vs. Eagles game, it hit me:

The 2016 Election is stressing me the eff out.

What caused this “DUH” moment? Was it Eli Manning? A Giants victory?

Nope. I looked around me, and I realized that I’d been cooking for 3.5 hours.

Yes. Three-and-a-half hours. Of cooking.

I was also wearing leggings as pants, something I’ve only recently started doing, despite it being A Trend. With my leggings, I wore a hoodie.

Obviously, this was a clear sign that the end is near.

Seriously though… 3.5 hours of cooking?? This is what I did in college and grad school when I procrastinated and had last minute papers to write. Without fail, I would find myself in a cooking trance, surrounded by homemade recipes, and snap back to reality, realizing that I was avoiding something or stressing out.

Today’s stress-fighters?

  1. Crock-pot gluten free loaded potato soup.

    Loaded potato soup, cooked in the crockpot on the low setting. THE LOW SETTING. For ~6 hours. I have no patience for the low setting... yet I used it.

    Loaded potato soup, cooked in the crockpot on the low setting. THE LOW SETTING. For ~6 hours. I have no patience for the low setting… yet I used it.

  2. Egg salad with chives.

    Egg salad with mayo, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and scallions. Did I mention I perfectly peeled and diced these damn eggs? IT DOESN'T MATTER. It's just getting eaten.

    Egg salad with mayo, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and scallions. Did I mention I perfectly peeled and diced these damn eggs? IT DOESN’T MATTER. It’s just getting eaten.

  3. Gluten-free apple crumb pie, with homemade crust and crumbs.
    I made a pie. From scratch. That's gluten free. (Due to medical schtuff, the wife has to cut gluten from her diet.) I perfectly peeled and sliced 6 apples. Again, THIS DIDN'T MATTER. The pie's just going to get eaten.

    I made a pie. From scratch. That’s gluten free. (Due to medical schtuff, the wife has to cut gluten from her diet.) I perfectly peeled and sliced 6 apples. Again, THIS DIDN’T MATTER. The pie’s just going to get eaten.

     

So. I cooked. A lot. I can’t wait until Wednesday so I can either cook a five course meal out of stress, or buy super discounted Halloween chocolate to celebrate this crazy election season being over.

As the Twitterverse and Facebook reminded me about Day Light’s Savings…

pleasepleaseplease

pleasepleaseplease

Think of me and V. Think of how we just celebrated our first anniversary of the happiest day of our lives. Think of our hopes and dreams for the future, and how they could be destroyed if we set our country back 50 years.

Think of me and V. Think of how we just celebrated our first anniversary of the happiest day of our lives. Think of our hopes and dreams for the future, and how they could be destroyed if we set our country back 50 years.

September

I have a draft of a post that’s been sitting in my “Drafts” folder all summer long. I stopped writing it mid-sentence, something I rarely do. It partially reads:

I’m not going to start this post pretending I’m going to get back into blogging, or apologizing for infrequent updates.

The truth is… I don’t know why it was so hard to write this past year.

At first I attributed my lack of voice/ desire to have one to wedding planning. Well, we’ve been married for just over (10) months now, and I’m still finding it hard to write.

This past year or so was a weird one. I found myself doubting so many aspects of my life, both personally and professionally. I tried to force myself to socialize with others as I felt myself slipping more and more into self doubt, and, when I actually spent time with others, I was especially cognizant of moments where I no longer seemed to fit into social circles I once felt at home in.

There is no reason at all for the anxiety and weirdness I felt this past school year. I was stressed, surrounded by people who were stressed. Yet, I hid in a cave while simultaneously trying to light a match. It was weird.

At the conclusion of this past school year, I became unexpectedly unemployed during the summer. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. Our school year ended too late for me to find a job that didn’t take away weekends with my wife, and I ended up having my first summer off in years. I used a lot of that time to take care of myself, reading books, actually going to the gym, learning new recipes… I did a lot. But, I did it on my own. I consciously made an effort not to socialize outside of my family this summer, which was the opposite of what I forced myself to do during the school year.

Oddly enough, the exact opposite of what I craved during the school year was exactly what I needed to find inner peace within myself again.

Daytona 2016The ridiculous amount of anxiety that had been growing since January seemed to have melted away. I suddenly grew excited at so many new and exciting prospects for the upcoming year, some of which I can’t even discuss yet. As I sat on the beach in Daytona, soaking in the last few moments of summer during that last week before returning to school, along with the waves of salt water came small, almost minuscule waves of unreasonable fears and anxiety.

Then, it was September.

 

With the hustle and bustle of the start of the school year also came the reminder of what the first week of September is: National Suicide Prevention Week.

As the facts about suicide are woven into morning announcements, and I’m distracted by hall passes and returned signed policies and procedures, I can almost always count on fleeting moments of thinking about how intertwined suicide was with what I call “my vital years” at Rutgers.

Thoughts of Tyler Clementi remind me to check on my new students, or those who seem to be struggling to catch their groove in the sea of students.

Thoughts of how anxious I got every time I saw a news van on campus after Tyler’s death, and how much anger I felt in the years following his death about how the media treated LGBT+ students on campus light a fire in me to protect those that need protecting.

Thoughts of the interactions I’ve had with Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mom, and how much of a difference the Tyler Clementi Center is making remind me that something good comes out of everything bad.

Then, I think of Lauren.

I think of how she was the epitome of what I wanted to be when I first met her as an underclassman at Rutgers– fierce, brave, proud, and fearless.

I think of how she did everything I did– or vice versa– as I grew older and more sure of myself at Rutgers. We joked once that I was her shadow– she was in the GSE pursuing English Education and navigating what it meant to be a queer educator, and I was as well, only a year behind her.

I think of the fact that I am now forever older and a more experienced teacher than Lauren will ever be.

And, when my students crack jokes at the facts and figures being cited, or when they joke about how tough their year is and how they want to end it, I don’t even stop to think before I call them out on it.

“I had a friend who committed suicide. That’s not something to joke about.”

The words echo, loud and clear. Mumbled apologies are given, sometimes mixed with quiet whispers of gratitude, and we move on.

That’s what September is about– stopping, pausing, and continuing forward into the unknown, even stronger among a mixture of thoughts, memories, and hopes for the future.

“…tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

Welcome to September.

She left me.

We’ve been together since I was a freshman in high school. She’s seen me grow from an awkward teenage girl to an awkward, yet somewhat together, woman. We’ve shared some intimate moments, and she was the one consistent factor over  the past 12 years, seeing my through high school, college, grad school, and the real world.

She was my hairdresser, and she left me.

Now, I understand why she left. Let’s call her Eva. For personal reasons, Eva went on leave, and then sent a letter saying she was moving to Florida. I never updated my contact address at the salon after moving, so I found out through my mom.

IMG_9356

I’ve spent the past few weeks avoiding the situation, despite my ever-growing hair and bangs.

Then, yesterday morning, I took a deep breath and scheduled a haircut. I told the receptionist, who I’m going to call Rue, I’d go with anyone since I was one of Eva’s clients and needed a haircut.

“Oh, thank you so much for staying with us!!!” Rue gushed.

My haircut was scheduled for the afternoon. I had just under 4 hours to decide how to cut my hair.

I flipped through an old hair magazine, and started reminiscing about happier times, when Eva gave me a bob in college. I rocked that cut, and my hair ALWAYS looked amazing.

October 2009: The First Bob. LOOK AT MY BABYFACE.

October 2009: The First Bob. LOOK AT MY BABYFACE.

Maybe it was nostalgia, but I REALLY wanted to go back to a simpler time of less hair maintenance. My hair had gotten LONG, and, as a result, my hair routine had turned into pin-the-stupid-long-bangs-back-and-wear-a-ponytail.

So, I made myself look pretty, as one does when she is about to get a haircut, and made my way to the salon.

This a pre-haircut selfie FILLED WITH ANXIETY.

This a pre-haircut selfie FILLED WITH ANXIETY.

I was a bit early, so, as I waited, I tweeted my anxiety into the Tweetosphere.

 

In all reality, it felt like a bad breakup. It came out of nowhere.

We’d had our last “date” right before my birthday, and Eva oogled over my wedding pics and life was good. She told me a little bit of the stuff going on in her life, and she worked her magic. No matter what, she always made me feel like a million bucks. My hair always seemed to behave for her, something it rarely does for me.

When I gave her her tip and bid her farewell, she gave me a hug saying congratulations again on my wedding, and then goodbye. I didn’t think much of it, but, in retrospect, maybe she knew this would be the last time we’d see each other.

As I mentally prepped for my haircut, I felt oddly similar to how I had the first time I went on a first date after a bad break up in college. I felt like I was betraying Eva, but it had to be done in order for me to move forward.

So, I went for it and let “Brittany” cut my hair.

I smiled, awkwardly shook Brittany’s hand as we made our introductions, and immediately was taken aback when she led me to EVA’S CHAIR. I shook it off, and then jumped into telling Brittany what I wanted.

“An angled bob, short in the back, long in the front, with side bangs.”

I pulled up a picture on my phone and said I wanted it similar, but slightly longer, coming to about an inch below my chin, and with side bangs, not straight up bangs. When it comes to hair, I know how to place an order.

Hey, Google Girl. I want your hair.

I immediately sensed Brittany being nervous, but I shook it off. I mean, she was cutting my hair for the first time, and I was a client of one of the best stylists they’d had at the salon. As Rue had told me as I waited, they were reeling a bit with the loss of Eva. It didn’t sound like a lot of her clients were staying. Brittany had a lot of pressure on her.

Now, there are a few things I want to point out before I continue this story:

  1. I could have gone to Eva’s close friend at the salon who had trimmed my hair before the wedding, but she didn’t have any open appointments until 6pm. I wanted a day time appointment.
  2. Rue had told me on the phone that Brittany was a second tier stylist, which meant a) she had slightly less experience than Eva had (Eva had owned her own salon prior to this salon; she was a stylist OG. Nobody could compare to her experience!), b) she would take 45 minutes (which is the average amount of time my thick hair takes anyways), and c) she was cheaper by $5.
  3. I kind of wanted a PYT to do my hair so I wouldn’t have to go through the upheaval of a hair stylist breakup for like another 30 years.

So, an hour and twenty minutes later, my hair was done. I’d started to feel a little anxious, as Eva usually did my hair in 30 minutes or less, but, damn it, the first rule of dating is you shouldn’t compare your new girl to your ex. It’s bad for everyone. BUT IT TOOK SO LONG. I was feeling anxiety growing, especially when she was taking ten minutes to trim my side bangs, and it didn’t help when she asked me if I wanted her to blow dry my hair straight (the answer to this is ALWAYS yes) and if I wanted hairspray after we had just made small talk about how windy it was and how everyone needed hairspray in this kind of weather.

So, I kept my eyes closed as she finished my hair.

Then, she said, “Okay, all done!”

I didn’t know what to say except, “Okay, great!”

My heart wasn’t in it.

The end results

The end results

I looked cute, but, just to state the obvious, it’s not what I asked for.

circle the differences in these two photos.

I could have complained, I could have argued, but I don’t like confrontation. I didn’t look bad. I looked cute. It just wasn’t what I asked for.

It was a disappointing first date after an unexpected break up.

In about a month or so, I’ll call Eva’s friend. I’ll schedule a hair cut with her before my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. I usually wait 2-3 months in between haircuts, but this is a different situation. Eva’s friend may not be Eva, but she’ll give me me what I want, at least for a few more years.

Then I’ll go through a hair stylist break up all over again.

She left me.

EVA