Things I understand now that I’m an adult

Remember when you were a kid and you’d look up at all the things that adults did and you’d go – WHY? Well, I don’t wonder anymore.

// Passing out after work

When you don’t want to hem anymore jeans.[Chiang Mai, 2016]

My stepfather worked in construction so he was on his feet most of the day. When he came home he’d open up a can of Coors Light and smoke a cigarette in his armchair. It wasn’t unusual for him to then fall asleep. His head tilted back with his mouth open, his hand still clutching the silver can and a burning cigarette. He burned a hole in the fabric of the couch before. One time I carefully removed the cigarette from between his fingers and put it out. Another time I watched the cigarette burn until it hit the filter.

This weekend during a break between classes, my colleagues and I looked at one another with bloodshot eyes. We teach six hours on Saturday and Sunday so by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, we’re pretty exhausted. We confessed that sometimes we fall asleep by 8.30. My BF likes to talk about that time when he came home from school, face-planted into his bed, and passed out with his teacher clothes and shoes still on.

// Drinking, smoking, and zoning out in front of the TV

After an all-day teacher’s conference. I deserve a pint! [Bangkok, 2018]
I started smoking Virginia Slims in college in an effort to be cool. Turns out smoking cigarettes are highly addictive but I managed to quit after a friend pointed out I had a problem. Although once I started teaching first graders in Portland Oregon, it became a habit again. I’d race home, sit on my back deck, and light that sucker up. The day would replay around me and I’d wonder at the pure exhaustion that was teaching.

Another colleague confessed that it was a glass of wine or a bottle that topped off her evening. I remember when my brother told me, “I now understand why our stepfather drank after work.” There’s something about using substances to take the edge off. Wine or beer seems perfectly natural and wonderful to me now, and I’ve never been a big drinker.

I’ve also never been a TV addict but these days I don’t mind watching YouTube after a full day of teaching. I round off my evening by reading in bed, too. I’m very mindful of how much TV or drink I have. I don’t want to waste my time but I also know that I deserve a break and watching standup comedy so I can laugh my head off is not a waste of my time.

As a child it felt like TV was a fun indulgence but as an adult, TV feels more like a way to take a break from the day, the worries, and the stress.


When you’re so exhausted you decide to put on a helmet and rest at your desk. [Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2016]
During my freshman year of high school, I would go to my friend Keitha’s house on a regular basis. Her mom would almost always be napping on the couch. My mom is also a big napper. It was ritualistic for to read her Thai newspaper and magazines, and then for her to retire to her bedroom or couch to rest.

I never understood people’s need to sleep in the middle of the day unless they were not feeling well. I tried napping and didn’t like it. I would be groggy for what felt like hours after waking up. I felt useless afterward. I didn’t get it so I didn’t do it.

But an interesting thing happens when you get older; you have a harder time sleeping at night. (This obviously isn’t the case for everyone.) I remember when I was on Whidbey Island doing my teaching practicum and my mentor was taking me along to do some errands. He brought me to a natural foods store where he purchased some sort of herbal remedy for sleeping.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Do you have problems sleeping?”

“No, not really.”

“You will,” he held up the white bottles, “this helps.”

Here I am working hard at relaxing on the massage table. [Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2013]
When I was in Siem Reap, I remember discussing with some colleagues my problem with not getting enough sleep at night.

“Oh, Peter, and I was just talking about this. I’ll give you this meditation exercise that’s supposed to help.” My friend said.

And then when I talked to Peter he said, “I have some pills you might be interested in taking.”

“Uh, I don’t know. I don’t want to get addicted to anything.”

“I understand.  Just take them every once in a while. They’re very mild and gentle.”

It took me a long time to finally try one but when I did, I was in heaven. It worked! I used them when I really needed to get in some sleep and was careful not to abuse them. But then we moved to Thailand and I could no longer get them. So my boss suggested a natural product called 5-HTP. It worked for the first time but never after that.

Funnily, when I was explaining the sleep issue to another friend, he said, “Why don’t you just drink beer?”


What about you? What do you understand now that you are an adult?

20 thoughts on “Things I understand now that I’m an adult

  1. I sometimes joked with my senior class that I had to drink at least a bottle of wine before I could mark their exam papers. 😉 Although I never quite resorted to it, I definitely agree that a glass of wine took the edge off a day of teaching. And my short stint as a kindergarten teacher in Taiwan got me perfecting the 20 minute power nap at lunch time . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! You reminded me of other teachers who would bring their papers home so they could drink while marking them or the one who would take them pool side.

      We do what we can…we do what we can…


  2. I certainly now understand why my dad always took a nap after work and I wish I could do so as well ;D
    Life can be really tough and there has to be some kind of outlet. Some people smoke, drink /both, watch TV or whatnot at. I prefer hanging on the sofa and watch some tv shows or play some computer games…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I know some people are good about exercising because after work our local park is busy with aerobic dancers, walkers and runners. But I feel those folks probably worked indoor office jobs where they then feel the need to go outside and move.

      I remember the one time I paid for a trainer and she said, if you have an desk job you should do some form of standing up exercise and if you are standing up all day then you should sit down on a bicycle to work out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really understand the reason for siestas! There’s a time about 2 in the afternoon that if I lay down it is SO easy to fall asleep. I’m NEVER that comfortable at night🤷. I also realize the real need for caffeine! Oh, and why my parents got so upset when I was late or didn’t know where I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG. I forgot! The need for caffeine! Hahahhaa. But honestly my mom was never a big soda or coffee drinker. So that was not modeled during my childhood. I definitely drink more coffee than she does. But I can’t do coffee all day like some people.

      Napssss. Yes. It gives me something to look forward to when I wake up tired. 😛


  4. I didn’t understand naps either, maybe because I have always slept well at night. Like you, if I napped during the day I would feel groggy later (and that was if I managed to fall asleep… as I had difficulties falling asleep if it was not dark). However after I gave birth I found myself taking naps and falling asleep super fast, it must have been exhaustion!

    I still don’t understand coffee. Blergh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would imagine now that you are a mama, you will be napping ALL the time. Hahahhaa.

      Coffee. It’s nice. I like it, but I don’t drink it all day. I can’t use caffeine to spike me up like a lot of people do. It’s mostly part of a morning ritual if nothing else.


      1. I napped during the first month or so, now no way Jose. Sometimes I want to do other things while the baby sleeps, sometimes the baby only sleeps if on me xD

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha! Some of these points resonate with me. I work 5, 6 days a week at a day job, pulling 7-9 hours. Then after that I might have freelance work. Been at this for many years now. When I get home I mostly feel tired. Don’t nap because it leaves me groggy. After some resting my mind usually switches on and somehow I get some good energy for the night to do things like blogging, YouTubing and other things that interest me until about 11pm or midnight. And I don’t drink coffee and don’t drink anything alcohol either.

    Most nights I fall asleep easy. But there are periods when I don’t, and I have thought about taking them. Most of the time I get some side effects from medication, and then I think maybe not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Side effects of drugs definitely kill it for me. I got off the pill when I couldn’t take the “side” of depression anymore.

      Most nights I don’t take anything. I can’t, really. I’m in a country that lacks good over-the-counter drugs. Hahahaha. But seriously, if you’re desperate you could always take an a cold medicine that makes you drowsy. Or something for air-sickness which also makes you drowsy. And yes, I kind of hate how I know all this.

      Of course the best method is to take good care of yourself which I’m always trying to do! Thanks for stopping by Mabel 😉 May you always have sweet dreams.


      1. Hahaha. I’ve considered taking a cold pill or panadol just to make myself a bit drowsy before bed. Most pills irritate my stomach so I sensible avoid…but it’s always an option 😛 But I usually don’t because the grogginess from the pill can last through the next day!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting. My aunt warned me about that sleep quality failing as you age thing over this past summer and it’s terrified me ever since… I still manage to get a good eight hours, and I’m in my 30s, but sometimes I do wake up randomly now, which is new. And I’m so terrified that it’s going to keep getting new, worse things. Ugh, it’s inevitable isn’t it? Blarg.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, there’s also this idea that you need less sleep as you get older. I’m not there yet, and I wonder when that will happen.

      But I should reiterate you might be one of those lucky folks who never has problems sleeping. My mom is the perfect example; she can sleep anywhere, anytime.

      I think part of my problem has been learning to sleep in countries that are considered ‘developing’. There are usually noises, strange smells, and such that have trained me to be a much lighter sleeper. Or I could just be getting old 😛


  7. My dad was a carpenter. He used to fall asleep after dinner sitting in his Lazy boy watching cowboy movies. I started smoking when I was in college, not to look cool but to keep my hands busy so I won’t eat something fattening. I quit smoking after a few years, but I still have problems with sweet snacks.

    There’s something about being tired and needing a rest that requires something to go along with it–TV, a glass of wine, a couple of cookies. I never feel like taking a nap, but once or twice a day I need a rest and something to go along with it.

    And yeah, I understand about sleep when you get older. I wake up in the middle of the night, and quite often I have a hard time getting back to sleep again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! This happens regularly to me, too. I wake up in the very early morning and have a hard time getting comfortable or turning off my brain chatter to go back to sleep. Even if I’m very tired! It doesn’t matter. Its not even something I’m worried about, just some silliness that the mind feels the need to grab and shake around. Sheesh.

      I used to have the habit of eating and reading. So deadly. Now though I read in bed and I REFUSE to eat in bed. There are too many ants here, and I don’t want to encourage them.

      I can’t believe you used to smoke! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I did sense as a teenager why my mother napped in middle of afternoon….she was simply tired as mother of 6 kids. She deserved it. She stayed up late to be with father after his evening shift would end and home not until around 1:00 am from restaurant cook job.

    My sleep was disrupted when I had a concussion from cycling accident when another cyclist knocked me off bike. To heal, I simply rested/slept in bed for several wks….which threw off my circadian rhythm.

    The things to help myself which..I did see a sleep doctor (MD) and you’ll find in medical advice:

    *no iPhone computer screen exposure 1 hr. before sleep. Blue light keeps brain awake. Includes TV

    *No caffeine after noon.

    * Some light stretching/exercise to relax or a warm shower/bath a few hrs. before sleep.

    *Some warm milk about an hr. before I go to sleep.
    *The right pillow…which for me, can’t be too bouncy. huge fluffy. I sleep better on flatter pillows.

    Above all, if I have less personal/mental stress from work, etc. that helps also. Since the death of my sister, then 6 yrs. later, my father, and 2 wks. later, the cycling accident, has challenged me abit.


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