Rambly post: Update on life (in a neat list)

Wow it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything on here.

But I have some pretty stellar excuses:

  1. I got married (Aug. 16)
  2. I then honeymooned in Montauk for 4 days (Aug. 18 – Aug. 21)
  3. I turned 25 on our ‘leave Montauk, travel back to Brooklyn, and pack for upstate reception’ day (Aug. 21)
  4. We flew upstate for my second wedding reception (Aug. 22 – Aug. 24)
  5. I started my new teaching job (still in ‘meetings all day’ phase) the following week (Aug. 25 – Aug. 29)
  6. My friend flew down and stayed with us this past weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 1)
  7. We all went to our other friend’s wedding that Sunday (Aug. 31)

If you’re interested and not tired just from reading all of that, I’m going to address each point in a little more detail now! So come on, let the updating begin!

1.   Our wedding: Our rehearsal dinner and wedding days were both absolutely perfect; honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing…except for my mom’s ability to be there in person. Luckily, we got both the livestream to work as well as our GoPros, so she got to watch the livestream that day and I showed her the GoPro footage the following weekend! You can watch our vows here if you’re interested!

Everything was just fantastic – the weather was perfect, the girls looked beautiful, the guys looked dapper, our vows were wonderful (people clapped!?), the decorations were phenomenal, the food was delicious, seeing our friends and family was the highlight, as was dancing…I could go on and on.

I’ve already posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook that my father-in-law took that day and they’re great so I can’t wait to see our photographer’s pictures! (Update: Click here to see our photographer’s pictures!)

2.   Honeymoon: Between our ocean-view B&B suite (and hence the beach right across the street), the gorgeous weather, the amazing food (my first lobster roll!), our amazing sunset sail, seeing the Montauk lighthouse, and being able to call Tom my husband (eeeek!), I was sad when we had to leave. I think we should make this a yearly thing, maybe call it “Anniversaries at Montauk”?

Montauk collage

3.   Turning 25: It happened. I can now rent a car without any extra stupid fees. I also belong to a new category whenever I take surveys and have to state which age range I fall into. Cool?

4.   Upstate reception: The second reception was a much more low-key shindig, so it was great sitting and visiting with friends and family. Plus, my mom had such a great time visiting with everyone. I’m so glad she got to come and see her friends and family (and me, duh), but as much as I enjoyed it, I’m honestly much happier that she came and enjoyed it. It was good for her to get out of the nursing home, be in a pretty dress, have a glass of wine, eat great food, and talk to old friends. She was tired and her ankles were swollen the next day when we visited to say goodbye, but she seriously seemed brighter and happier.

Reception #2 Family shot

5.   Work: Since returning from wedding-palooza, I’ve been spending all my days at work, learning about technology, students, and emergency procedures, all while also trying to plan lessons, put in supply orders, get a bite to eat, meet with colleagues, and decorate and organize my room (and, let’s be honest, my life).

Phew. And that is why I am currently sitting on my couch with a glass of wine, just relaxing after a long day. And school hasn’t even begun yet.

Okay, it’s not that bad – I’m so glad I got this job because I already knew all of the teachers (except this year’s new-hires) and administration from last year, know most of the students (again, except for the new ones), and am genuinely happy to be a part of such a great team of human beings.

I definitely want to try to chronicle my first year as a full-time teacher, maybe writing once a week as a reflection of my teaching, things that happened, lessons that worked/didn’t work, classroom set-up/decor, etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I’m working with pretty much an empty slate at the moment! The room was mostly unused last year, only housing one English class and me while I sat on my computer doing grad school homework or watching YouTube.

All of the posters in these pictures have been taken down, I’ve ordered a few math posters, a number line, and also acquired a small bookshelf. Hopefully it’ll start looking nicer when the posters and student work get put up.

classroom

At this school there are no Mr. So-and-so’s or Ms. What’s-her-name’s; we all go by our first names. So it’s cool because changing my last name to Harrigan won’t be throwing anyone off (except me because I’m still getting used to signing documents and saying it out loud); I’ll still be Holliday and no one will have trouble finding me on the email list or phone directory.

I’ll admit this was a strange concept to me when I first encountered it last year as a student’s private aide. My main thought was ‘Doesn’t this create a lack of respect towards the teachers and staff?’ But now that I’ve been involved with the school for a year and have seen how much respect these students have, I honestly don’t mind that they’ll call me Holliday instead of Mrs. Harrigan.

6.   Friend visited: Our friend Courtney came down this weekend and stayed with us because we were all attending our other friend Erika’s wedding in Long Island. Courtney and I went to see Aladdin on Broadway and it was fantastic! We stayed after the show to meet and take pictures with some of the cast members! She also brought with her The Lego Movie, so Tom and Courtney and I watched it. I will forever have The Lego Movie theme song stuck in my head.

7.   Friend’s Wedding: Erika’s wedding was great – she was beautiful (obviously) and I had so much fun dining and dancing with so many college friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in quite awhile. It was also Tom and my first wedding together as a married couple!

Okay, I’m done talking now. Until next time, cheers!

Sleep deprivation is making me stoopid.

Seriously, I feel dumb. Like, all the time. It wasn’t always this way (I’m pretty sure), but in the past 2 months, I think my IQ has dropped below the level of possible IQs. Yeah, that happened. Didn’t think it was possible? Well, I have set a new low. So now everyone in the world can feel super intelligent!

My memory has plummeted – I used to remember anything and everything, but lately I can’t even remember basic math. Oh, did I mention that I have a Bachelors in Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo and a Masters in Mathematics Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Mhm, great.

I constantly forget words that I want to use in order to finish my complete sentences. And it’s not even like “oh, it’s at the tip of my tongue” or “it sounds like this” or “another word for this.” I don’t even think a quick game of charades would help my plight. My mind just stops and turns into a big black hole of ideas and words. And then I start panicking because I should know this! Why the heck can’t I think of what I’m trying to say or do? So those complete sentences get completely butchered and most of the time I can’t even salvage them with a synonym or parallel idea.Frustration meme

So then the people I’m talking to get frustrated, and then I get frustrated. We all get a whole lot of frustrated because I can’t freaking finish what I was trying to convey to them. Or I’m completely wrong about something because I simply didn’t think my idea all the way through, usually because I panicked from the lack of remembering, and now my credibility starts to be whittled down.

Tom has noticed it too. There have been many times where we’ll be talking and I’ll say something so dumb and he’ll call me out on it. And then I’ll realize just how stupid it sounded or how ridiculously wrong it was and recoil in embarrassment. He started by calling them dumb blonde moments, but then they began to be too frequent to be dumb blonde moments. And it wasn’t just me trying to be silly or act dumb; they were honestly lapses in my brain and train of thought.

What is happening to me? How can I be 24 years old and having this much of a difficult time remembering basic facts? Why have my math skills plummeted when I just finished school 2 months ago?

I’ve wondered if I’m developing some sort of early onsetting Alzheimer’s. My mom has Multiple Sclerosis, and I know that ‘thinking problems’ is a symptom of that; could I be showing early signs of MS?

I figured I’d go to WebMD (super reliable, right?) just to see what kinds of conditions they might suggest I have with my given symptoms. I put in:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory problems (some of these are quite redundant)
  • Poor concentration
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty learning new things

Side note: When I put in that I was having difficulty concentrating, the following question popped up on the screen:Concentration WebMD question

Maybe it has something to do with too much or too little oxygen while diving that might screw someone up? Just thought the question was quite random when it popped up.

Anyways, my results came up as follows:

  1. Depression (adult)
  2. ADHD
  3. Postconcussive syndrome
  4. Alcohol withdrawal
  5. Head injury
  6. Medication reaction or side-effect
  7. Sleep apnea
  8. Sleep deprivation
  9. Depression (postpartum)
  10. Intoxication
  11. Asperger syndrome

…and they just continued to be less and less likely, so I’ll stop at Asperger syndrome. After the main possibilities, they just ended up being listed in alphabetical order. MS did make it on the list, after Marijuana use. Goodnes gracious.

So the first plausible cause (unless I am depressed and don’t know it) would be sleep deprivation. Hm, that would make sense…sleep deprivation

See, I live in Long Island and work at a school in Brooklyn. Every weekday, I wake up at 5 a.m., get on a train at 5:54, arrive at work around 7:45, leave work at 3:30 p.m., hop on the 4:19 train from Penn Station, and don’t usually get home until around 6:30 p.m. After I get home, I shower, eat dinner, watch TV, and hang out with Tom and his parents. My typical bed time ends up being around 10:30 since showering and eating dinner kind of perk me up and then I want to hang out and talk with everyone before doing it all over again the next day.

I have a Fitbit, so I’ve been able to keep track of how many hours of sleep I get per night, as well as how many times I’m restless during the night. It’s actually really interesting and I usually spend more time paying attention to the sleep log than of how many steps I’ve taken throughout the day.Fitbit sleep log

According to my Fitbit log, I barely get more than 6 hours of sleep each night during the week. Sometimes I might catch some shut-eye on the trains, but it’s not enough to say so, and it never gets to REM sleep, the most important kind of sleep that gives your body the rest it needs.

Interesting enough, this past week I read an article from BBC about how sleep deprivation affects students’ performance in school. It focused on the fact that the lower performing schools tended to have more students that suffered from lack of sleep than those countries who performed better.

The findings are not cut-and-dried; just looking at the first bar graph in the article (shown below), it is clear that not all high-performing countries’ students are getting enough sleep. And the lowest performing countries are not all suffering from sleep deprived zombie children, either. For example, Finland has been at the top of the charts for math and science performance for years now (although, surprisingly, this past December, a report came out that their scores dropped, bringing them down to 12th in the rankings), but they are nowhere near the countries whose students are getting the most sleep.

Sleep deprivation by country

Fun education facts for you all out there!

So the BBC article points to technology as a possible culprit for lack of sleep. According to Dr. Karrie Fitzpatrick, the light from computer, tablet, or phone screens, “…can reset the whole circadian rhythm system and say, ‘Wait a minute, it’s not time to go to bed’.”.

Coincidentally, I am one who has always fallen asleep with TV or Netflix running next to me. Sometimes, if I just try laying down in bed and going straight to sleep, my mind starts racing and concentrating on the things I need to do the next day, causing me to become anxious and more awake than I was when I laid down. So Netflix allows me to concentrate on something else, and I usually fall asleep within about 10 minutes of laying down while watching a show or movie.

Tom had told me about the light screwing with circadian rhythms before, scolding me for having my computer on while trying to fall asleep at night. He mostly did this because when I get tired I get cranky. And when I get cranky, he usually receives the brunt of my terror. I apologize Tom. And anyone else who has endured my overtired wrath.

He told me there’s an app that is meant for using screens at night, and I actually found it in another article from Business Insider. It’s called f.lux and reduces the bluish light that LCD screens emit and screw with our sleep.Phone with and without f.lux

Luckily for me (and everyone else!), the effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed with a return to sleeping 7 to 9 hours regularly. So this week I’m going to try to fall asleep without a screen in front of my face. If I find my anxious thoughts make it too difficult to fall asleep normally, I will use the f.lux software to turn the brightness down and hopefully still reap full benefits of sleep.

And if I’m still dumb after getting more sleep, then I guess it’ll be wise to go to a doctor and get it checked out.

I just really hate how this has affected me, so I’m determined to get back to a normal state of intelligence. Sure, I’ll definitely have dumb blonde moments, but they’ll just be a silly, infrequent occurrence as opposed to all day, everyday. Happy snoozing everyone!