It’s way too early for this

Well, I guess it’s not way too early, at 7:48 a.m., but 5:56 a.m. certainly is, which is when I woke up this morning after not falling asleep until around 2 a.m. This new medication I’m on has the unfortunate side effect of only letting me sleep in short bursts, it seems. It started out as only allowing me to sleep for six hours, which was manageable with an afternoon nap. But this four hours of sleep business is getting old. And it’s not like I wake up and I am sleepy. I wake up, and I am A-W-A-K-E. I laid in bed for about an hour, tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep again, until I finally gave up. I took a shower, got some breakfast, and here I am.

I’ve always had trouble sleeping, ever since I was a kid. I get it from my mother, along with her allergies and proneness to migraine headaches — thanks, Mom! (I get other perfectly lovely things about her, but that’s a post for another day.) I’ve tried all sorts of stuff — meditation, journaling, music, muscle relaxation therapy, counting, even OTC and prescription sleep aides. The medications work, but they leave me feeling groggy in the morning, and they don’t always prevent me from waking up in the middle of the night. Considering truly restful sleep needs to be uninterrupted, this is not very helpful.

I have used the time well, I suppose. While I was teaching earlier in the summer I’d use my extra two hours awake reviewing my lecture for that day’s lesson. Now I’ll check my e-mail, plan my day, maybe do a bit of research or reading. Normally I can fall asleep again a few hours after being up an active. In probably about an hour I’ll be able to sleep again, so in the meantime I’ll probably work on some research — knock out one hour of the ten I’m supposed to do every week. Life as a graduate student: absolutely fascinating.

Begging the question that someone will actually read this, do you have a good strategy for falling asleep again after waking up in the early morning? I’m honestly willing to try just about anything. I just want to be able to get a full eight hours again. I wish I could be like my boyfriend or father, who can basically roll over and fall asleep, no trying at all.

Internet friends are the best friends!

I have been suspiciously absent from the Internets for the past 48 hours or so, minus a few frantic Facebook Mobile updates that I was headed to a local beach to meet up with an Internet Friend! She was on a family vacation at a popular beach a few hours away, and I had the fortune of not being unbearably busy (hurrah, school break!), so we had the chance to meet up!

My friend and I have “known” each other for probably about two or three years now. We met through a feminist news site (that is no longer very feminist, so I won’t link it) back in the day, and over time we eventually ended up being facebook friends. I commend her family for not freaking out that she invited her friend who lives in the Internet to their family vacation, as well. They were all quite welcoming and not totally freaked out by the day I spent with them, though we did indulge in a few wary ax murderer jokes. Thankfully, there were no lives lost, unless you count those of the delicious shrimp her uncle prepared for us.

She’s the third Internet friend I have met in real life, and I have to say, I highly recommend doing it. I know there is still all sorts of STRANGER DANGER surrounding the idea of meeting people from the Internets, as well as the typical residual anxious feelings that come with meeting a “new” person in real life, even if you’ve “known” each other for quite some time on the Web. But really, there is no awkwardness at all associated with it. You easily fall into place, finishing sentences and telling inside jokes; the only difference is doing it out loud rather than through a computer screen. If you ever have the chance to meet up with an Internet friend, don’t be shy — just do it. I haven’t regretted it yet!

How to: Brew Coffee in a French Press

If anyone knows one thing about college students, it’s that, for the most part, we consume a lot of caffeine. Well, actually, most people know we consume a lot of alcohol. But after that, it’s caffeine. This is even more true for graduate students. In the mornings, I need to have some form of caffeine or I end up like Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Now, if I had my way, I’d have a large mocha no whip with an extra shot of espresso every morning, but that shit costs money I just don’t have. Actually, I just recently acquired an espresso machine, so I’m working on my mocha recipe, but I have not quite perfected it yet. When I do, y’all will be the first to know.

Photo of a clear coffee mug full of coffee and a spent french press pot.

ANYWAY. Because mochas are expensive and I can’t make a decent one yet, I drink regular coffee every morning to perk me up if I have time to brew it. If not, it’s a Dr Pepper, but I really prefer the morning ritual of brewing a good cup of coffee. For most of undergrad, I’d get coffee from the dining hall or brew it in my room using my cute little 4-cup Mr. Coffee drip machine I bought for myself — it was my first dorm room purchase, and it brewed a pretty good cup of drip coffee for being a $30 machine. Of course, when you use a machine for four years every day, you get really good at using it. I had my system, and it made my coffee just fine.

But when I moved in with my boyfriend for graduate school, he kept talking about french press coffee. French press, french press, no he doesn’t want my weird drip coffee, FRENCH PRESS. “Fine!” I say. We will get a damn french press, and I will try to figure the fucker out, because you keep raaaaving about how great the coffee is. I was skeptical, but a press was only $20 at Target, and I really wanted a tea kettle anyway, so why not? I’ll give anything a shot.

Y’all. This was a day I had to tell my boyfriend was right — which, if you know me, is a pretty painful experience. When we got home, I went online and found myself french press tutorials and read all about them. The science is fascinating, by the way, but I’m not going into it here, because I’m a business major, okay? (That’s actually a bit reductive, actually, but we’re here to talk about coffee, not my degrees.) French press coffee is better than anything any ol’ drip machine can push out. It’s so rich! And smooth! And it has texture! You just won’t understand until you try it for yourself. If you think you love coffee, you will adore owning a french press. So go on, order yourself one, I’ll wait. And then I will tell you how to brew the most delicious cup of coffee you’ve ever experienced.Read More »

Recipe: Avocado Pasta

So when it is sweltering outside (it was a lovely 93°F here today), a heavy, hot meal really just doesn’t sound appealing. But, you know, neither does effort. And that’s where this delicious avocado pasta comes into play. I started making this about a year ago after discovering it on Tumblr, and it quickly became a regular in the meal rotation, mostly because all the ingredients except the avocado are staples in my pantry, making it a relatively cheap but hearty and healthy dinner. It’s also a great “Oh shit, what am I going to make?” meal, because all you have to do is run to the store for an avocado if you’re out (or tell your partner/room mate/cat to go get one — though good luck with that last one).

Avocado pasta on a red plate.

You have probably seen a few versions of this recipe floating around out there. The difference between this one and those? It’s cheap. Guys and girls, I am 22 years old with a beer budget, and when I want champagne, I’m not spending my money on fresh basil, you feel me? This recipe is based on the one from Oh She Glows, but, you know, cheaper.Read More »

Recipe: Kale Chips

So today I tried my hand at being a smug vegan* and made kale chips. I have some friends who sing the praises of kale chips, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. They’re pretty inexpensive (especially if you omit the nutritional yeast) to make, and they’re very delicious — and quite healthy! I wouldn’t say they’re exactly Lays with ranch dip, but they’re pretty darn good. They are a bit time-consuming to make, so make sure you give yourself an hour or so to make them the first time, that way you can fiddle around with your baking time and ingredient amounts.

Photo of homemade kale chips.

This recipe is from the Vegan Junk Food cookbook, but I didn’t exactly follow it… my cooking style is typically of the “add shit until it tastes good” variety. I don’t like coloring inside the lines, okay? DON’T STIFLE MY CREATIVITY. Even if it leads to really bad roasted potatoes. But I digress…Read More »