Archive for May, 2015

In the ABCs of Twenty-something life, P is for Packing

This is a phase for packing. Not packing a punch (except in kickboxing class), or packing a weapon (that’s not my style), but packing an overnight bag, an extra change of clothes, a lunch.

It’s a fact of our lives that we’re constantly in motion. For better or worse, our hours are spent commuting, running from place to place for work, sneaking home for some good food and a family gathering and becoming public transit pros as we journey to our friends’ scattered apartments, adult league soccer or softball games and alumni gatherings.

Our own apartments and houses aren’t so much living spaces as they are occasional home bases, holding all the things we don’t need on one particular journey, but may very well snatch up for the next. Sure, our daily travels frequently bring us home to our places, but often just for a pit stop on the blazing path to our next occasion or obligation.

All that motion might not seem like such an effort if it didn’t require so many things, so much stuff.

But it does. Staying over at the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’s place on a Thursday night requires a change of clothes for date night if work wear won’t do the trick, something to sleep in, face wash and all the other nighttime/morning toiletries, clothes for Friday, and, if you’re cheap like me, an extra lunch to leave in the work fridge for that second day at the office.

See, we’re talking about packing. It’s a constant battle with the constraints of duffel bags and large purses, the limiting reagents of the laundry pile (socks, anyone?) and the boundaries of memory. You can’t pack it if you don’t remember you need it. And you can’t remember everything.

Going on a lakeside weekend trip with the family after a Friday at work takes just as much thought and just as many items. Pajamas for sleeping at the parents’ house, a swimsuit, towel, cover-up, sunscreen, sandals that are junky enough to actually get sandy and actual clothes to wear once the swimming’s over. Try thinking of all that on a Thursday night after a 10-hour work day, an hour-long run and two hour-long commutes, and there you have it – the everyday packing challenges of twenty-something life.

The feeling of living out of a bag can be discomforting at times, but the trade-off is simple math. Nights out with friends and early summer days with family are far greater than the annoyance of constantly packing and unpacking – even though it requires us to fight the subconscious urge to forget the very items we need the most.

These twenty-something years are spent in motion, and like it or not, gathering the necessary goods and packing them all up is part of what it takes to stay on track.

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The latest open letter to the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear FLN GR8,
Your license plate’s a liar when you’re sick.

Dear NAB BUM 1,
Go, cops, go! Nab ‘em!

Dear DA ONLY 1,
And proud of it, 2.

Dear SPRMOM6,
Follow me (and my six kids) to the soccer field … (I’ve got the good snacks.)

Dear KAZ TOO,
Tattoo, kazoo, and Taz the Tazmanian Devil, too?

Dear ABCRMB1,
Where’s your buddy, Fitch? It’s just not the same without him.

Dear JEDI 34,
May the force be with you, Walter Payton.

Dear CU BY BY,
Just wait ‘til next year, Cubby Bear. Because this year? You’re out of the playoffs for sure. So see you! Bye bye!

Dear 1 GO BLU,
Your license plate’s from Illinois, but your message says your heart’s in Michigan. “Hail to the victors …”

Dear SPRFINE,
I thought it was “Superbad” … just sayin’

Dear BBQ JEDI,
May the force be with you … and your marinade!

Dear HI HEELT,
This is the Lieutenant of High Heels, reporting for duty!

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27 moments that tell you you’re a grown-up

1. Your oldest pro sports memories are two decades ago. But they still seem fresh.

2. Your fridge has eight beers, one apple, a Tupperware of leftover spaghetti and not much else.

3. Nobody really cares to put candles on your birthday cake.

4. Your friend is closing on a house next week.

5. You’ve found a little time to volunteer — in between work, doing grown-up chores, seeing friends and family and making time for hobbies.

6. You don’t know any of the priests at your home church anymore.

7. You have a 401(K), whether you really know what that means.

8. Your weekends are already filled from now until October.

9. Pizza gives you heartburn. And you actually know what heartburn is.

10. Clothes you had in college are suddenly really old.

11. Sadly, your grandparents and parents are getting noticeably older now, too.

12. You’re closing in on your 10-year high school reunion and beginning the “I’m not going if you’re not going” dance with your closest remaining friends.

13. You either start hating to dance or start wishing you knew how to dance because of all the weddings you’re going to.

14. You probably have four different to-do lists.

15. You actually start calling the place you grew up “my parents’ house.”

16. You haven’t said “When I grow up …” in, like, 10 years.

17. You can’t speak teenager anymore.

18. Sometimes, during a long day at the desk, you miss gym class.

19. You’ve progressed beyond “Yoga for Dummies.”

20. Even your little cousins now have jobs.

21. You can’t imagine being in elementary school these days.

22. When your fridge isn’t mostly empty, it probably contains something as healthy as kale.

23. You read things to the end — not because it’s homework, but because you’re actually interested.

24. You have a favorite chore and it’s laundry.

25. You have a least favorite chore and it’s dusting.

26. There isn’t one single radio station that plays all the music you like.

27. You’ve noticed how similar you are to your parents — in good ways and in bad habits. This no longer surprises you.

 

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Here’s one healthy habit worth fighting for

You know what’s awesome? Having a sleep schedule.

For the first few years of twenty-something life, oversleeping was my worst bad habit. I lost the ability to wake up on the first alarm during college, and it took years to gain it back. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll tell you this much: If you’re fighting the snooze button, you’ll have to lose a lot of battles to win the war.

But winning is worth it.

Keeping a sleep schedule means having a predictable amount of time in the morning before work, which makes it a whole lot easier to fit in time for things like going to the gym and eating breakfast. Having a sleep schedule means feeling tired at a (somewhat) predictable time each night, which makes you (accurately) feel super old, but also makes you more likely to be productive until that magic sleepy-time strikes. Having a sleep schedule means actually giving your body what it needs, and our bodies respond better when we listen to them. What a thought!

There’s a mental benefit to establishing a sleep schedule, too – every time you hear one of those junky health/news reports that says “sleep deprivation makes you 17 bazillion times more likely to get into a car crash,” or “research has shown being chronically sleep-deprived takes an average of 36.532 months off a lab rat’s life … and we all know humans are just like lab rats!” you can rest assured. With your scheduled sleep, you know you’re getting enough, so you don’t have to worry about the increased likelihood of crashing your car or shortening your life.

Silliness aside, having a sleep schedule often means waking up somewhat refreshed, and it definitely means not feeling like a bum when you just can’t make yourself move. Sticking to a sleep schedule is an accomplishment and it means you’ve officially reached adulthood.

I said to a couple of high school friends lately during a much-needed catch-up session that a lot of twenty-something life is about figuring out which healthy habits work for you (and how to avoid re-creating all of your parents’ bad habits … but that’s a topic for another day).

In our twenties, we’re trying to figure out which nutritious foods to eat consistently and which treats are OK only once in a while. We’re sorting through what suddenly makes us feel like crap even though we used to eat it with no trouble in high school. (RIP frequent pizza parties) We’re trying to learn what kind of exercise we actually enjoy and when we can fit it into our schedules, how faith plays a role in our lives, how we’ll spend our money and how we’ll save for the future.

How much sleep we need and how we’ll make sure to get it is just another healthy lifestyle challenge we have to navigate, all while working to build a career, being kind and caring to our families, keeping in touch with our friends, becoming informed about and making connections in our communities and hopefully leaving some time for fun.

There’s a different answer for everyone, but one thing has proven true in my life: A sleep schedule is a healthy habit worth fighting for.

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