We Hear So Many Words And None Make Any Sense

RiteAid Parking

I visited RiteAid today. If I haven’t mentioned it before, RiteAid is the largest chain store for 100 miles, so it’s kind of a thing, locally.

I’m more than willing to get lost in the rows and rows of soaps and creams. They’re just so pretty and clean and bright. Just imagine how much these companies spend on graphic artists for these products. They’re so tempting with their promises of soften skin, smooth wrinkles, even tone.

But.

And there’s always the “but”. But—then they always seem to promise to bring back your skin’s “radiance.”

I don’t know about you, but my skin has never been radiant as:

  1. radiant  brightness or light: the radiance of the tropical sun.
  2. warm, cheerful brightness: the radiance of her expression.
  3. Rare . radiation. [dictionary.reference.com]

I’ve never glowed, my skin isn’t particularly cheerful (unless it’s getting up to more than I do), and I’m pretty sure I’m not significantly radioactive.

It bugs me. Why are we so complacent about such empty words? My parents taught me to be skeptical of advertising, and now making fun of commercials comes like a reflex. Still, radiance has always slipped under my radar. Not that I believed any of these promises, but not the ubiquitousness of that word.

Like Garnier’s new BB Cream. Have you seen the commercial, all the models yelling “BB” like it brings to mind anything other to mind than pellet guns? And I couldn’t find what “BB” was supposed to mean anywhere. Until my mom saw a Fred Meyer ad insert. BB, that magical serum, stands for—get this—Beauty Balm.

Wow.

Bottom line? Question everything. When you see an ad promising an end to that one problem you simply must solve, really ask what they offer. I promise you, it has little to do with what you actually need.

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A Long Unwinding

Off the rest stop

Off the rest stop

Often, when I am interacting with a new group of people, within the first few meetings, I will ‘brag’ about the oddest things.  One subject that I nearly always find a way to broach is that when I went to community college, I had to drive 14 hours each way to get home (told you).

Just today, I drove only about an hour to meet my dad and brother. And ever since I’ve not made that drive, I’ve been missing it. Part of the reason I bring it up so often is simply because such a drive seems so horrific to people. But I loved it. I miss it.

I would get up about 4 or 5 a.m. and head out to the freeway, going north at the same time everyone else went south. It was lovely.  It would be totally dark, and my side of the freeway abandoned, while the other was solid with headlights. It’s rather easy to feel just a little superior in that situation, or maybe it’s just a little small of me to feel so. But anyway, I’d drive, nearly alone, all the way to the next freeway (138)  to connect to I-5. It’s straight and flat and totally empty.  There is an itty bitty town, with a very old gas station, but other than that there’s little other than the occasional homestead until the massive connection to I-5, which is really only massive counting the tons of concrete that must have been used. And in comparison with the emptiness before. At this point too, it’s still dawn but you can’t yet see the sun, because you’re in the foothills. You can even see a bit of the old(er) Grapevine.

I love the Grapevine, I really don’t know why. Whenever I catch a reference to it, I don’t know, it makes me grin.  Just my mom knew a lot of the history of the area, having grown up in the area (sort of) at any rate, she’d tell us about it during the drives to Grandma’s house (the same, or similar, drive to the one I’d make, only my parents, naturally, took two days to drive it).

So anyway, I’d get to the Grapevine, which isn’t so difficult to drive now, and it’s always nice to be going that much faster than the semi-trucks. Their speed limit was only 35 or 45 mph, I think. Very slow. But they had their own lane. And it would be fully morning at this point.  I love the mountains too. Always have.  Even here, it makes me nervous sometimes driving out of town, that the mountains are so far away.  I don’t think I’d like the Great Plains. Anyway, naturally, the Grapevines=mountains. Very steep, wonderful, glorious mountains. I’m a fan. And during the spring…if you’re driving in the right direction, it would look very green (coming the other way, I suppose, the hillsides didn’t get as much rain).

Coming down out of the Grapevine, I think every time I made the trip, it would be dim. I don’t know whether fog or smog I never paid attention, but by the time you’re out of the foothills–which is a great section in itself, you can see the trail of the 5 by the headlights and taillights for miles–the sun was usually out of sight, and it would just seem…dusky. And you’d drive by an Ikea warehouse.

I tended to divide the trip into sections. Before the Grapevine, the Grapevine, and directly after the Grapevine, all of which I’ve described. Then there’s the straight section until the section of Stockton and Sacramento. In between, it’s straight and yellow.  Usually it’s flat, but there’s a section in the foothills, where it’s still straight, and up and down. Stockton and Sacramento are nice because they have more lanes and more visual variety. More interest with the driving too, although that’s a less happy variation in driving.

After Sacramento it’s flat farmland again until Redding. I like the foothills before Redding too. There are some great mountains that you’re driving into, and in the foothills it’s more up and down driving too. And a few casinos and car dealerships that change night into day, if it happens to be that dark when you’re driving by. Anyway, the hills around Redding are basically yellow grass (usually) with some kind of oak trees (I think) and very little shrubbery. It’s very dramatic, and lovely. Of course, I really like the scenery along the entire trip. Fortunately.

After Redding, of course, we go back to the local highways, and they’re scenic too. But all the way along I’d tick down past the same road signs to keep track of my progress. So know I always expect Red Bluff to be closer to Redding than it seems now, in comparison.

So, I’m sure no one needed that kind of point-by-point summary of my drive. But basically, where I’d intended to go with this was that I enjoy such a long drive. I guess I just have the right kind of mind for such a long trip. For me, really long drives, like the 14 hr one described, are relaxing. Like meditating…kind of. Only there’s no loss of consciousness.  I don’t get bored with the driving, even without cruise control.  I just find it very soothing. And by the end of it I’m exhausted, but I’m not stressed.

I rather miss that kind of unwinding. And the scenery.

Once I got to my point, it didn’t take long for me to make it, did it?

To Sleep…Seriously, No More

So, I don’t like to sleep.  Sometimes.  This varies: often I do like to sleep.  Particularly to sleep in. However, when I am stressed about the future I cannot help remembering that any particular person will spend about one-third of their life asleep.  A whole third.  That’s, like, a lot.

I apologize.

Anyway I don’t think there has been one day this week that I actually went to bed before midnight…and that does not include the time spent in actually falling asleep.  Then I have, or had, my alarm set for six-thirty in the morning.  Admittedly, I didn’t actually get up until only half-an-hour before class several days, but it still overall completely ruined my sleep schedule.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.

I need my sleep. That’s all.  Of course now that I really do: i.e. school is in full swing and I need a job and I’m a procrastinator at the best of times, I’ve installed the StumbleUpon toolbar.  Will I ever sleep again?

Doubtful.

But I found one site there that does relate to this post (eventually).  It’s called LikeBetter (I think) and you just choose out of two pictures which one you prefer until the brain says it has something to say about you.  And then you tell it whether it was right or wrong. Generally it worked well for me…at least until it thought I was a guy.  I don’t know if I want to analyze that particular answer. Anyway, after one sequence of picture-choosing, the brain said I was a night person.  My brother’s first thought was, yeah that’s right. (He was visiting–or rather needed a place to sleep last night, so I got to see him. Yay!  And I’ll see him on Tues, twice, I think, and he’ll bring me Apartment Life.  Yay!)

Re-railing this post.  Yes, lately I’ve been a night-owl type.  This usually happens once school starts, and I actually have to do homework.  I can’t do all my online stuff, not to mention my games, writing, knitting and other free time stuff until I get back home.  And that’s especially hard now that I actually hang out with friends.  Seriously, this has been totally screwing with my academic life.  (Well not really, actually it’s really helpful when I’m writing an essay specifically and can brainstorm with a bunch of other people who have some idea of what I’m talking about.) But it does mean that I don’t have nearly as much time to screw around in. Though I do anyway.

And I stay up too late and don’t get up until pretty much just before I have to leave for class.

Why don’t I consider myself a true night person then?  Because I really like to get up early.  Preferably before, say, 6:30 am.  When I do manage to get up that early, I tend to accomplish much more.  There’s more daylight to work with, and while I have just as many hours when I stay up late, I don’t have the motivation.  I love the early morning light, and the way the sun slants through the window just after eight.  And I can appreciate that so much more when I’ve already had coffee and breakfast.

I can get kind of obsessive about not wasting time–though I continue to do so–especially when I’m stressed.  When I was really depressed my junior year in high school I didn’t want to sleep at all.  Seriously.  Mostly I just got stuck on the idea that as human beings we spend approximately a full third of our lives asleep.

What a waste of time, right?

This was before I’d come to the realization that sleep, is, in fact, the only the best, most useful part of the day.  So lets just say it probably didn’t help that I was depressed.  They (they being scientists, somewhere, apparently doing research, probably with federal grants) have found that the clinically depressed, are often also often chronically sleep-deprived.  And I have discovered since then that I need between eight and nine hours of sleep at night.  No matter what time of night, or what time my alarm goes off, if I go back to sleep, I will get back up almost exactly nine hours lately.  Or sometimes eight, if I did intend on getting up for something.  For example, when my brother came by he didn’t get here until after midnight, and we ended up talking until nearly two.  I woke up this morning enough to turn off the alarm and actually got up at almost exactly 10 am because I was going to help my youngest brother with his essay.

I know I’m an English major because I wanted to take the thesis (which was very good) from his one-and-a-half page draft and turn it into an eight page paper just for kicks.  He was very grateful that I didn’t try to make him do that.

P.S. You’re also supposed to sleep better in a dark room as well.  I’ve always preferred pitch black.  Unfortunately someone made the incredibly odd decision to install indoor office fluorescent strip lights on the walkway (where the only windows are).  They are rusting.  Then again,  the cover came loose on the light nearest the stairway, and it has killed lots of bugs.  It must be their supa-secret plan.  And so long as I don’t get electrocuted.  But at any rate, it means my room is darkest (currently) at about 6:30pm just before those lights come on.  Blackout curtains, maybe, if I ever think of them and can afford them at the same time.