Who needs sleep? I do. And on a regular schedule a.k.a. Operation: GeMSToNE, Phase 1

Sleepy kitten

I have a new neighbor in the apartment above me. I know this because it was 5:30 in the morning and I wanted to kill him.

Let me explain. Lately I have been working hard to maintain a regular sleeping schedule. This is one of the many things I’ve developed a new appreciation for as I’ve gotten older, along with shoes with good arch support and the benefits of having a washer and dryer directly in my apartment.

One of the great things about freelancing is that I get to set my own schedule, and one of the horrible things about freelancing is that I get to set my own schedule. I’m not sure I was ready for the responsibility at first, like a child who was told she could pick her own breakfast and opted for pixie sticks and pepperoni pizza. I started sleeping in later and later, which led to me getting up later and later, until one night I was still awake when the sun had fully risen and Good Morning America was coming on and I realized this had become completely ridiculous.

I was essentially on Hawaii time and needed to reset myself to east coast time. Or move to Hawaii. Or start moving one time zone to the west every week until I’d circled the globe. But those weren’t really options. I mean, where was I going to find a place to stay in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

As anyone who’s had jetlag knows, resetting your Circadian rhythm is a painful process. However my situation is even worse because waking up early is by far my most reliable headache trigger. I always, always, always get a bad headache after I’ve woken up even one hour earlier than normal. The pain and grogginess lasts for most of the day, turning me into a headache zombie. “Brain! Brain! Oh, my brain!” When I wake up early, I don’t get shit done that day. There is some research that suggests that sleep deprivation messes with certain protein levels in your body that control chronic pain. See, it’s science! I’m not lazy. Or if I am, I’m not just lazy.

So you might ask, if it’s painful to switch, why don’t you stay on your crazy schedule? You don’t actually have to be anywhere, right? Sleeping through half the day and working into the night has a strange psychological impact on me. Once the sun sets I feel like I should stop working. It’s that feeling you get when Daylight Saving Time happens and you’re suddenly driving home from work in the dark. It’s weird. I don’t get as much done as I’d like to, plus all the good TV shows come on when you should be in the latter part of your work day. Working these kind of hours also makes it hard on your social life because you’re working when other people are going out. It also makes it incredibly painful to try to get up and meet someone for brunch on the weekends, when it really shouldn’t require great strength of will to get to a pancake place by 11am.

I’ve known I needed to get into a regular schedule for years. Yes, literally years. And I when I say “literally” I use it in the way it’s meant to be used, not as a substitution for “figuratively” even though the dictionary says that’s ok now (which I consider to be a linguistic atrocity). Every night I would think, “I’m going to get out of bed at a reasonable hour tomorrow. Really, I am. I have to! It’s very, very, very important.” And that reasonable hour would come the next day and I’d say, “You are not a reasonable hour at all! You are a very unreasonable hour indeed! Goodbye, I’m going to sleep for three more hours.” It was an awful cycle that I couldn’t break. The only time I could drag myself out of bed early was when I had a doctor’s appointment or some other meeting that I knew I absolutely had to be at. And even when I managed that, I’d usually take a nap in the afternoon because my headache was in full THROB mode and I felt like shit, throwing off any progress I might have made.

Finally, last February I caught a lucky break, or an unlucky break if you were asking my sleep-wake cycle. My apartment complex replaced all the HVAC units this year with more energy efficient models. On Monday morning at 8am I awoke to the sounds of saws hacking through the drywall in the apartment below me. There was no way I could sleep through it, even with earplugs, so I had no choice but to get up and stumble through the rest of the day. Then on Tuesday at 8am they knocked on my door to replace my unit. While they hacked up my wall I sat at my computer and did work. I was amazed by how much I was able to finish before the time I usually woke up at. On Wednesday I had an early doctor’s appointment, and by Thursday I’d succeeded in resetting my body clock! It was fantastic and great and I continued waking up at a fairly reasonable hour for several weeks.

Then I got sick.

I got a cold and it was the downfall of my hard-won sleep schedule. I had a hard time falling asleep at night because I couldn’t breathe well through the congestion. I took naps during the day. I even slept through the election of the new pope!

By the time I got well my sleep schedule was totally off again, but last month I finally got so fed up with myself that I tried a new plan. I’d often thought about trying to push through and just skip one night’s sleep, but I’d never been able to manage that. Instead, I purposely stayed up as late as I could before I started to feel like I was on the verge of seeing purple elephants dancing across the entertainment center. This ended up being 9am. I then took a four-hour nap, and after that forced myself to stay awake for the rest of the evening, finally crashing for a night’s sleep at 11pm. Needless to say, I didn’t get much actual work done that day. I got up at 10am the next day, and it was still rather difficult. My body was still in its old rhythm even though I’d slept for a good chunk of time. But I got up! It was a monumental feat! The automatic coffee maker helped lure me out of bed. Then I felt like shit all day and didn’t get much done again. I woke up at 10am the next day and slowly it started to get easier and easier. I was making real progress!

This is where we get to the part where I want to kill my neighbor.

I live in a college town, so it’s common for a lot of people in the one-bedroom units like mine to move in and out around summer. I could tell I’d recently gotten a new upstairs neighbor because I could hear him. I heard him bounding back and forth, because why walk when you can stomp? I heard him squeaking the floorboards in way that made me think he might be competing in the sex Olympics, but wasn’t in quite the right rhythm for that (I hope). I heard him clomping up and down the stairs outside, talking noisily to his friends. And worst of all I could hear his phone vibrating.

At first I thought it was my own phone vibrating, and had to check to be sure I hadn’t gotten a text message. I heard the vibrating noise pulse repetitively for about a minute one evening around 7pm, like he’d set an alarm. Then I heard it again another afternoon. At this point I wasn’t sure if it was a phone, or if it was even the upstairs neighbor’s phone, but I didn’t have any other guesses.

Then I heard the phone vibrating at 5:30 in the freakin’ morning. I heard it first in my dream and felt a sense of confusion when I slowly faded into wakefulness and realized, oh, this is really happening? It was faint, but evidently loud enough to wake me up. And it kept going off. Over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And OMG I was so over it going off over and over! All in all it went off for at least 40 minutes. I tried using my earplugs to drown it out, but the sound was able to permeate the foam. Eventually I put on a pair of headphones and listened to the new Travis album which was the only thing that could drown out the sound, even though sleeping with headphones on is somewhat uncomfortable.

Oh, and did I mention that he’d also run his washing machine at 1:30 in the morning that very same night?

Oh, and that his alarm had gone off at 6:30am the week before this too, though for only about 5 minutes instead of 40?

If I had been 100% sure at that time that the alarm was coming from upstairs, I would have walked up there in my pajamas, banged on his door, and screamed “TURN OFF YOUR ALARM OR I WILL KILLLLLLLLL YOU!!! AND THE JURY WILL BE ON MY SIDE!!!!” The doubt was the only thing that stopped me, because as bad as it was to be the asshole who left his alarm going off at 5:30 in the morning, it would be far worse to be the asshole banging on someone’s door complaining about it when it wasn’t actually his alarm.

Anyway, later that day I wrote him a letter that essentially said, “Welcome to the neigborhood! Would you please shut the fuck up?” Though I phrased it more nicely than that. I taped it to his door and later that evening a young med student knocked on my door and apologized for it all. I was willing to forgive him for the alarm incident because there’s no reasonable way I could expect someone to know that I could hear their phone vibrate through the floor. I’m surprised it’s possible at all, but I suspect the vibrations must travel through the furniture and then through the floor too, amplifying the sound. I don’t normally hear anything else through the walls except for people moving around. Or squeaking the floorboards in ways I don’t want to think about.

So, despite the efforts of my neighbor, who as a future doctor should appreciate the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, I have continued to maintain my “normal” sleep schedule. I’m falling asleep before 1am most of the time. I’m naturally waking up around 9 or 9:30 without the alarm. I still don’t necessarily want to get out of the bed even though I’m awake, for which I doubt there is any cure. But I am managing it! It’s going well! The headache hangover went away after the fourth or fifth day. I’m falling asleep more quickly for the most part. And I generally think I am healthier mentally and physically for it.

I still sometimes hear my neighbor’s phone vibrate, but it is usually followed by the sounds of someone clomping around quickly to turn it off. It hasn’t gone off before 9am again, at least that I know of.

And thus completes phase one of “Operation: Get My Shit Together. No Excuses.” Which can be shortened to the handy abbreviation Operation: GeMSToNE. Phase One was to establish a regular sleeping schedule. There are other phases, some of which are already in progress which I will update you on in the coming weeks. Assuming I actually do get my shit together.

Audiobook of “Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir” is now available!

Audiobook of 'Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir'

First off, I apologize for only posting playlists and self-promotional entries lately. I promise to get back into a more regular blogging schedule soon. I’ve already been making some changes in my life to make that easier to do, which I’ll post about soon.

That said, my publisher would probably appreciate if I mentioned that the audiobook for “Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir” is now available to purchase on Audible.com. It’s read by Teri Clark Linden and it’s a great way to spend 8 hours and 22 minutes. Listen to it on the treadmill for inspiration!

Ok, end of promo. More blogging to resume soon.

JenFul Playlist – July 2013

Mix it up

I’d meant to write a few more posts before publishing another playlist, but I didn’t and August has already arrived, so here we go again! These are the songs I was enjoying in July 2013. You can listen to them in the Spotify player below if you have Spotify installed. If not, the playlist is listed in text below that. You can follow me on Spotify here and catch the June 2013 playlist here in case you missed it.

Highlights

The 1975 – Chocolate
Of course I’m going to like a song called “Chocolate,” right? This is a UK band who’ve released several EPs but their first album doesn’t come out until September.

Elizaveta – Orion
Spotify recommended this artist to me, doing their algorithms proud. I’d never heard of this Russian/American musician before, but I loved her whole album.

Bastille – Pompeii
Bastille’s album debuted at #1 on the UK charts, but I don’t think it’s been released in the US yet, which is why only a few EPs are available on the American version of Spotify for now. Love this single!

Travis – Where You Stand
Travis is a band that is (was?) evidently big in Britain, but I doubt most people in the US have heard of them. That’s too bad because I love a lot of their songs. This is a single from their first new album in five years which comes out later in August.

Franz Ferdinand – Right Action
Franz Ferdinand is back! They’re releasing an album later this month too. I feel sort of stupid admitting this, it was a long time before I discovered they were named after the archduke who’s assassination launched World War I. Oh, American education system, how you’ve let me down once again.

Lorde – Royals
Lorde is literally half my age. Dear Lord! A lot of the musicians I’ve been discovering lately are younger than me, which still seems strange. I’m used to popular musicians being older than me.

Regina Spektor – You’ve Got Time
This is the theme song to the Netflix series Orange is the New Black which is just as good as everyone says it is. The show, I mean. The song is good too.

(I just noticed all the tracks I highlighted are either by British or Russian-American artists. Strange, but I didn’t do it on purpose.)

Playlist

The 1975 – Chocolate – US Version
Elizaveta – Orion
Bastille – Pompeii
Travis – Where You Stand
Franz Ferdinand – Right Action
Avicii – Wake Me Up
Miranda Lee Richards – The Reach
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Despair
The Trophy Fire – Spinning
Lorde – Royals
Griffin House – Better Than Love
Josh Garrels – Farther Along
Matt Nathanson – Mission Bells
Charlotte Sometimes – Better Than This
The Heavy – What Makes A Good Man?
Empire Of The Sun – Alive
Youngblood Hawke – We Come Running
Little Green Cars – The John Wayne
Michael Franti & Spearhead – I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)
Best Coast – The Only Place
Milo Greene – 1957
Regina Spektor – You’ve Got Time
Ellie Goulding – Burn
Ellie Goulding – Your Song (Blackmill Remix)
The Civil Wars – The One That Got Away
Matchbox Twenty – Our Song
Cary Brothers – Lessons Learned (feat. Rachael Yamagata)

Pre-order “Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir” in audiobook format

Half-Assed: The audiobook

Headphone photo by Eldeeem / by BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’m happy to announce that an audiobook version of Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir will be available at the end of August from Audible.com. If you’ve got 8 hours and 22 minutes free, I hope you’ll consider buying it. Great for road trips! Or for circling the blocks for hours and hours and hours.

In a strange coincidence, the narrator of my book, Teri Clark Linden, also narrated my friend Wendy’s book, The Wilder Life. We don’t have the same publisher, so it really is a coincidence. Teri has IMDB page that I’ve been pouring over and I think I might have to watch Jack Reacher now just to see her appearance as the night manager.

Also, I learned that “audiobook” is one word, not two. At least that’s how audible.com uses it, so I’m going with them on this one.

In case you’re wondering, there is not currently an audiobook version of my other book, Chocolate & Vicodin but I hope to have something to announce regarding that by the end of the year. Fingers crossed.

JenFul Playlist: June 2013

Mix it up

I am old enough to remember the days when people traded mixed tapes with friends. Not CDs, actual cassette tapes with the playlist written in pen on the paper label. It was like telling someone, “I like this so much! Do you like it too? Let’s like it together!” I still remember who gave me my first Tori Amos tape and the person who included a Les Miserables song on their mix. Of course, there were some “eh” songs on any tape, but the good ones made the “eh” worth it.

I like listening to new (to me) music and I like sharing it. For a long time I’ve been meaning to post playlists of the music I’ve discovered each month, partly to share, and partly to have a record of what I was listening to when. So many songs are linked to certain times of my life. The aforementioned Tori Amos is heavily associated with my high school and college years. Several Brit pop hits remind me of my first job because I’d listen to a streaming Internet station based in London while I worked. I use Last.fm to scrobble my music, so I can view my weekly stats going back to 2005 when I first signed up. (This week in 2008 I was listening to “Basement Apartment” by Sarah Harmer a lot.) But that doesn’t include stuff that was on my MP3 player or CDs or other non-scrobbled media.

Anyway, here’s the music I was listening to in June. I used Spotify to embed the playlist because I subscribe to their premium service and listen to most of music that way now. (Follow me on Spotify here.) Yes, I know artists only get paid a fraction of a cent for each play. I’m sorry. It’s an imperfect world. If you don’t have Spotify, I think you have to install it to get the playlist to work. Sorry again! This is the best way for me to share the playlist without creating a lot of additional work for myself. For those without Spotify, I’ve posted a text list of the songs below the player so you can look them up on your own if you want. YouTube works remarkably well for that.

I’ve roughly ordered them with my favorites toward the top, but it’s all rather subjective. And just because I started listening to these songs this month doesn’t mean they were just released. The oldest one, “Both Sides” performed by Judy Collins, was released in 1967 which is before I was even born. (Yes, I found it via the Mad Men finale. And yes, I know Joni Mitchell is the one who wrote it. I like the Judy Collins version. Judge me as you will.) I’ve also included some comments below the player on songs I particularly liked or thought were noteworthy in some way.

Direct link to the Spotify playlist: JenFul – June 2103

Highlights

A Silent Film – Harbour Lights
This is one of those songs I started listening to over and over and over compulsively. Not sure why. I just like it! I should probably write a post about all the songs that have had that effect on me in my life, but for now you just get to hear this one.

Walk off the Earth – Red Hands
The music video for this song is what sucked me in. It’s recorded in a single shot, but they don’t sing the song in order. Instead, the video fast-forwards and rewinds to match music, sometimes returning to the same footage multiple times when a chorus repeats. It’s a complete mind trip. I’m amazed anyone was able to plan this, let alone shoot it. Evidently this band is known for doing interesting videos, like this version of Goyte’s “Someone That I Used to Know” performed by all five band members on one guitar.

Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
I like the video for this song too which features a dance off between people who performed at a theater all throughout its 100-year history.

Train feat. Ashley Monroe
I have a general dislike for Train, but I liked this song despite that. See, I really am open-minded.

Megan & Liz – Bad for Me
I am somewhat embarrassed to include this song since it is so, so poppy and over-produced, but I listened to it way too many times in June to leave it off. I may have questionable taste in music, but at least I’m honest about it!

Melanie C and Emma Bunton – I Know Him So Well
So, Sporty Spice released an album of Broadway tunes and included this song from Chess, which has always been a fave of mine. Baby Spice guests!

Playlist

A Silent Film – Harbour Lights
Walk Off the Earth – Red Hands
Kings Of Leon – Pyro
Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
Serena Ryder – Stompa
Mat Kearney – Ships In The Night
Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
Frightened Rabbit – The Woodpile
The Ceremonies – Land of Gathering
Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)
Tegan And Sara – Closer
Train – Bruises
Kelly Clarkson – Tie It Up
Delta Rae – If I Loved You – Radio Version feat. Lindsey Buckingham
The Lone Bellow – Bleeding Out
Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
Labrinth – Beneath Your Beautiful
Frank Turner – Recovery
Morning Parade – Headlights
Judy Collins – Both Sides Now
Lucy Schwartz – Boomerang
The Gaslight Anthem – Here Comes My Man
Solange – Losing You
The Mowgli’s – San Francisco
Matt Pond – Love to Get Used
Mat Kearney – Closer To Love
Phillip Phillips – Gone, Gone, Gone
The Ceremonies – Wolfdance
Mat Kearney – All I Have
Haim – Don’t Save Me
Paloma Faith – Romance Is Dead
Megan & Liz – Bad for Me
Fitz and The Tantrums – Out Of My League
Two Door Cinema Club – Next Year
The Avett Brothers – February Seven
Of Monsters And Men – Love Love Love
Dan Black – Hearts
The Knocks – Modern Hearts
Gold Fields – Dark Again
MS MR – Fantasy
Generationals – Put a Light On
Melanie C and Emma Bunton – I Know Him So Well
Sheryl Crow – Easy

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Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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You Are Not A Machine. You Are Not Alone. | Smashing Magazine

North Carolina Senate race spending tops $100 million - CBS News
I've suffered through soooooo many political ads this season, so I'm kinda glad to hear we've topped the nation in spending because it sure does feel like it.

Ebola: Maine deploys state police to quarantined nurse's home | World news | The Guardian
I know not everyone will agree with me, but I think Kaci Hickox is pretty badass. I admire her for standing up to policies that are based on fear, not science.

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