Thursday, December 30, 2010

Insomnia: An Ode to Sleep

Oh sleep.  How do I love thee.

Sorry I couldn't resist.  But this is not going to be poetry.  

As an insomniac I'm probably a bit more appreciative of sleep than most people.

I first started having sleeping problems when I was about 13.  My mom figured it was just part of being a teenager who didn't want to go to bed when she was told to despite the early hour I had to get up to go to school. 

Honestly that was probably a contributing factor early on.

So I would stay up late reading or studying or talking on the phone with my friends in secret.

Fast forward 5 years.

By the time I started University my insomnia was out of control. 

I was going  to school full time, putting in 25-30 hours a week at my part-time job, studying and writing papers, spending a lot of time with my boyfriend and doing it all on about 3 hours sleep a night.

Not that I didn't attempt to sleep more.

I would go to bed and then NOTHING.  I would just lie there for hours on end tossing and turning until I would just get up and either read, watch TV or go on mad cleaning bursts.

I remember one night my mom woke up at 3 am to find me sitting on my bed with all my drawers dumped out while I re-folded all my clothes, re-bundled my socks and organized everything I could get my hands on.

It got to the point where I was barely coherent in my lectures and running on little more than adrenaline and coffee.

My mom eventually dragged me to my doctor and she decided to prescribe sleeping pills.  She figured if she could chemically force me to sleep for 5 nights in a row every month than hopefully it would jolt my body into a more natural sleeping pattern.

WRONG.

I had already tried every OTC, naturopathic, aromatherapy, alcohol induced, zen inspired sleep remedy that I could think of.  With no results.

She gave me the strongest sleeping pills she could prescribe and could only give me 5 because they're so incredibly addictive and they did NOTHING. 

I would take it before I started getting ready for bed, then curl up with a book and some soothing lavender candles trying to do anything but think about how badly I wanted to sleep.

And NOTHING would happen.

Actually worse than nothing would happen.  I would fall asleep only to wake up a dozen and a half times during the night.

So now my insomnia had mutated thanks to these nifty drugs.

I went from not being able to sleep to falling asleep easily only to wake up pretty much every hour.  Which apparently is worse for you.  Whoda thunk?

The problem with waking up often is that your brain never really shuts down and you never get into a deep REM cycle. 

The sleeping pills stopped after a few months but I still hadn't developed healthy sleeping patterns.

And thus my life continued for another 5 years.

I'm now 27 years old and still have sleeping problems. 

They're not as bad as they used to be but they're not ideal.  I get an average of 5-6 hours of sleep a night, but still wake up multiple times a night.  When I actually sleep 5 hours uninterrupted I'm ready to jump for joy.

What insomnia teaches you is exactly how wonderful sleep is.  You know the saying, you don't know how important something is to you until it's gone?  Well sleep is a prime example of that.  You don't understand hell and torture until you've gone 5 days in a row with a combined sleep time of less than 12 hours. 

So although the sleep I get may not be ideal,  I thank God for every minute of it  because I truly believe that if I kept going on 3 hours a night or less I either would have gone mad or killed myself behind the wheel of a car because your brain function and reaction time when you're that exhausted is the equivalent of a drunk driver. 

So to all you people who can pull off 8 hours on a good day and 10 on the weekends.  You suck.  I mean really.  It's like flaunting an engagement ring in front of a person who's just been dumped.  Just knowing you happy sleeping people exist depresses me.

Don't even get me going on you people who can nap.  You know who you are.  I dislike you.  OK maybe I wouldn't go that far but you know what I mean.  I'm still giving you the evil eye. 


Cheers,

Ash

p.s.  If you ever find me sleeping during the daylight hours I'm either deathly ill or dead.  Please check my pulse. 

Thanks.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Retail: The death of Christmas

Between being born on December 24th and being Catholic, TECHNICALLY I should love Christmas. 

But I don't.

And I blame retail.

I blame spending 8 years working retail.  I blame television advertisements.  I blame the decorations that they put up in the malls.

My little Christmas Tree
It's not the concept of Christmas I hate.  I love decorating a Christmas tree and baking cookies with my mom.  I love wrapping presents and watching White Christmas.  

I just dislike the fact that Christmas has become this commercial animal that spans months.

I remember when I was a kid.  The beginning of the Christmas season was the Santa Clause Parade. 

After that the decorations went up in the stores, the radio started playing Bing Crosby, the commercials on TV were all about Christmas and even the old man in red showed up in the Malls. 

This year I saw my first Christmas commercial in October about a week before Halloween.

How did that happen?

I mean I know that slowly Christmas has been taking up more and more of the calendar, and that retail businesses heavily rely on revenue generated during the holiday season but COME ON.  By the time it actually arrives we've had it shoved down our throats for months already.

At some point we have to draw the line.  I mean Thanksgiving is probably a reasonable marker for the beginning of the holiday season. 


So next year?  I'm kickin' it old school.  NOTHING Christmas related before December 1st and I hope you join me.  I'm tired of Christmas being about how much money you spend on a gift because newsflash.  Spending money does not make you a good person.  Instead do something nice for someone you care about.  Spend time with your family and friends and remember why Christmas is a time to be with your loved one's and not standing in line at the mall.


Lots of love,

Ash

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting Old: Reminiscing as my 26th year comes to an end

I came to the sad realization this past weekend that I'm not as young as I used to be.  Thankfully I'm not alone but will be joined in my dotage with the rest of my friends.

Note: I'm not actually "old"  I'm 26 going on 27. 

What brought on this revelation?  A party.  One of my friends holds an annual girls holiday sleep-over every year around this time.  It's a time for us to get together wearing obnoxious flannel pajamas and drink copious amounts of alcohol to celebrate the holidays while not having to worry about driving home. 

This year the first of us called it quits at 10:30pm and went to bed.

In her defense she's battling a cold but it spawned a conversation around the fact that we're just not as young as we used to be.

5 years ago, hell even 3 years ago, we would be out every weekend drinking, dancing or just talking until 4am without so much as a yawn.  Even during the week, going to bed before midnight was practically unheard of.  Most of us managed to go to University, study, hold down a part-time job, go to the gym, have a boyfriend, spend time with our girlfriends and manage it all on less that 5 hours of sleep a night while still finding time to argue with our parents.

I'm tired just writing that.  

Nowadays most of the people I know go to bed by 10:30pm during the week and even on a night out start to pack it in just after midnight.  Sleep has become a much higher priority.

We also can't drink as much as we used to.  

Not that that's a bad thing.  I'm sure our livers are doing it on purpose as payback for the abuse they've already endured.

But seriously.  When did 26 start to feel so old?  What have we done to ourselves?

We work too many hours, can't eat whatever we want, can't drink whatever we want, can't function on less than 7 hours of sleep, don't listen to our music as loud and have aches and pains from sleeping on a friends couch.  Some of us have noticed gray hairs and others are worried about premature wrinkles.  We see chiropractors and naturopaths and some of us are insomniacs  We worry about multivitamins and stretching before working out and if we remembered to wear sunscreen even in February.  Hell even marathon shopping takes a lot out of us nowadays.  I know people that are getting engaged, getting married, having babies and even getting divorced.  We're buying houses and worrying about investments.  Even high heels have become the enemy.

Have we burnt out this young?
How did it even happen?

Is it because many of us were over scheduled as children?   We went to school and balanced a lot of different activities at a young age.  We also started working very young.  I got my first part time job at 15 and amongst my friends that's pretty much the standard.  

Did our burnout start that early?  

All I really know for sure is that none of us expected to feel like this.

There's also this huge disconnect between us and the generation behind us.

I find myself thinking they're irresponsible, disrespectful, spoiled and ungrateful.  I know that's a huge generalization but I watch these kids every day on my way to work and know more than a few of them personally.  None of them think to hold a door open or give up a seat to an older person.  They have BlackBerries or iPhones, yet no jobs to pay for them.  

I'm 26 and yet when I see them I feel like an old lady shaking her head at these kids who don't know any better.  I've even caught myself saying things like "when I was your age." 
On that note, when I was your age Strawberry Shortcake, Bedazzler, neon everything and leg warmers were popular as well.  Only difference is that back in the 80s they were NEW and not RETRO. 

Wait a second!  How did this become a rant about teenagers?  See?  I forgot what I was talking about and went on a tangent.  A sure sign that I have a crotchety old lady hidden inside me just waiting to break out.

I should start wrapping this up anyway.  I need a nap ;)

Cheers,

Ash

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter: A Love Hate-Relationship

I want to start off by stating that I'm Canadian.  If I didn't enjoy snow and winter, I would have packed up and migrated to a warmer country by now. 

With that in mind.....

OMG I hate winter, I hate snow, I hate people who don't know how to drive in the snow, I hate stupid people who walk around in the winter wearing inappropriate clothing because YOU MAKE ME FEEL COLDER.


What I wish the roads look like on a nice winters day.
Photographer: David Hartley/DHT
 OK.  So now that I got that out of my system let’s continue. 

Honestly, it's not the snow I hate.  It's what it does to traffic and for my own selfish purposes, the TTC.

Public transit during the winter can be a nightmare.   You spend anywhere from 3 minutes to 30 minutes waiting for your vehicle of choice to be jammed into a crowded and overly hot space with people who have questionable hygiene.  People are rude and impatient and generally think that they are the only ones in the city frustrated by the current accident/traffic jam/technical problem. 

Listen buddy.  We're all stuck here together so huffing and puffing about how you're running late isn't magically going to make things move any faster.  And implying that you're the only one who has somewhere important to be is insulting to the rest of us.  If you're so important why are you taking public transit anyway?  Did your BMW break down? 

What winter roads REALLY look like.
iStockphoto
This morning's commute was probably the worst I've experienced in a while.  An accident in an intersection meant that the streetcar could go no further.  So already running late for work I had to stand on the corner with about 100 other people and attempt to get a cab in rush hour on a Friday. 

I actually had to CALL a cab standing at the corner and even then the lines for an operator where backed up. 

When my cab gets there, not only do I get dirty looks from the other stranded passengers who were obviously too daft to do the same thing, I go to get into the cab and sink into a puddle of slush.

 Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

So now I'm cold, late for work, more than a little frustrated and getting the evil eye from Mr. Executive.

But at least I'm not standing on the corner in the snow anymore.

Happy Friday!

Oh, and the random rant about people wearing inappropriate clothing?  It's winter.  It's cold.  You live in Canada.  It was -24C with the wind-chill last week.  Do us all a favour and buy a hat, and gloves, and maybe even a scarf.  I'm not even going to start on the women walking around in Capri pants.  I know you just left the gym and are running to your car but OMG stop it!!!

Cheers,

Ash



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Look Ma, It's a blog!

Months and months ago, a friend of mine asked me why I wasn't blogging. 

Moi?  Blog?

Once I stopped laughing hysterically, I took a second to ponder it. 

Why wasn't I blogging?    

Actually, there were a lot of reasons. 

I wasn't sure what I would write about, was afraid that nobody would read it or find it interesting, that my thoughts were my own and I didn't want to open myself up to random strangers online.  All of which I still think are valid arguments in favor of me NOT blogging.

At the time, that was the end of it. 

Since then I honestly haven't thought about it too much.  I read a few blogs either for fun or for work but I never thought that it was something I would do for myself.  I mean I see the value in blogs for business or support or troubleshooting but mine is none of those things.  I'm just me.  I don't have a specific theme or topic that I plan to write about.  I'm not chronicling some great journey, debating current events or even teaching you anything.  If anything I'm ranting, joking, babbling, relaying a funny event or talking about the things that I enjoy.  Who would want to read that?

Honestly?  I don't know.  I don't even really care at this point.  I'm going to write and someone is either going to read it, or they are not. 

So before we sink our teeth in and get to the serious stuff here's a bit about me, about why I didn't think I could blog and a few reasons why I've decided to anyway.

About me:

  • I'm 26 and a native Torontonian
  • I'm the "mom" of a crazy kitten named Jasper
  • I work for a Market Research/Consulting Firm
  • I studied History in University. Mostly British History in and around the Reformation
  • I am a HUGE book nerd.  Seriously, I read about 2-3 books a week on average.
  • I'm an only child
  • I love movies but hate television
  • I'm afraid of heights
  • I'm compulsively organized
  • I write in a journal almost daily
  • I'm an insomniac
  • I'm sarcastic
  • I would listen to music 24/7 if possible
  • I have multiple tattoos but am squeamish about getting a flu shot

Reasons why I didn't think I should blog:

  • I don't know what to write about
  • Nobody will read it
  • Nobody cares what I have to say
  • Why would I want people I don't  know to read what I write?
  • I'm not a writer
  • I don't have time to blog

Reasons why I'm blogging anyway:

  • I don't really mind if nobody reads my blog
  • I have a ton of things running around in my head that would be fun to write about
  • Sometimes I just feel the need to share something that's either funny, stupid or annoying
  • I don't have to be a writer to blog.  That's why God invented spell check!

And the heavens opened and......oh nevermind.

Cheers,

Ash

p.s.  In case you were wondering, I doubt there will be anything "serious" to get to.