Falling Apart

August 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

Tears are streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace.
When you try your best but you don’t succeed.
Could it be worse?

Jason dumped me. We fought too much, he said. We were too serious too soon, he said (it takes two to tango). I begged him to change his mind, to reconsider, but so far, not much response. He didn’t say absolutely not, so I assume he’s thinking it over, but I may never get an answer so I should brace myself for that and try to let go.

It’s funny how breakups make you feel like you’re dying, like literally dying as your torso is ripping and tearing itself apart from the inside. I broke down at work in the alley way. No one saw, but Haley sent me home early because I think she could tell. I kept it together during my second shift, but the manager could tell something was wrong. I said I was just really tired. She sent me home early. I hate that my emotions are written all over my face when I’m ready to collapse on the floor in a puddle of tears, snot, and hyperventilating. Guess it’s good there’s a three day weekend coming up? I can lie on my floor all day if I want to. Wouldn’t that be healthy.

I should stay busy, right? Think about other things? When has that ever worked for anyone when they’re completely heartbroken over fucking up the best thing that had ever happened to them. The fights were all my fault for the most part, of course. I’m such a mess. I have so many issues. If Jason can’t handle me, I’m pretty sure I’ll always be alone. I’m going to die alone after a life spent struggling with loneliness and isolation. Two months of happiness. That’s all I get? I guess it’s all I deserve.

Bill collectors have started calling me multiple times a day, like I somehow magically have the money since they called the day before. I just ignore them since I can’t pay them, but it raises the stress levels a lot.

I can’t believe this is my life. I worked SO. HARD. to make a good life for myself, to lay a strong foundation for my future success and financial stability, but here I am, working at a restaurant and picking up extra shifts to try to cover all my late fees for the bills I haven’t paid in months. My lease is up in January and unless some miracle happens, I will probably have to live in some shit hole apartment run by a slum lord because my credit score is likely so low now that no decent place will take me.

A restaurant, Alexa? A RESTAURANT? It’s like I’m 15 again, except back then it was cool to work in a restaurant. Now I just feel beaten, forced into it out of desperation because no other job would take me. All that hope, all that work, all for nothing. I’m 26 with years of experience, a stellar set of skills, and a graduate degree, and I’m bussing tables and handing out food. This isn’t who I am. This isn’t what my life is supposed to be.

And now I have nothing. Jason was really the only thing keeping me going. And now that’s over and done with. Will he change his mind? Who knows. I don’t know. I doubt it. Why would he? I’m awful to date. I’m a crazy train. I will always be alone. I don’t know how to fix things. Go see a counselor? When has that ever helped. Plus I don’t have the money. I don’t know what to do. It’s hard to see a way forward when your eyes are so full of tears. How could I have screwed up something so wonderful. How can I be back at a restaurant, as if the last ten years never happened. What kind of future can I have if this is my life now? Where do I go from here. What do I do.

I’m spiraling.

The Job Problem(s)

August 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Jobs jobs jobs
Money money money
Persistent problems in my life.

I currently work part-time at a restaurant. Clearly that isn’t going to pay rent.

Today I had an interview at the Humane Society which I think went really well. I could even swing my schedule so that I could still work two days at the restaurant while still being full-time at the animal shelter. The problem is that even working full-time at the shelter, I’ll only be making $900 or so each month after taxes. Which is means I could have just applied to AmeriCorps when I first moved home because that’s the same amount of money (or lack there of). Clearly, that isn’t going to work considering my rent is $850 and I’m drowning in bills and late fees because I’ve been unemployed for 8 months.

So I’m fucked. Even if I get that full-time job, I’m fucked.

UAB wouldn’t even interview me for a measly Admissions Counselor job for reasons I still can’t get from the person in charge of hiring for that position. It’s absurd, beyond absurd.

There’s a part-time job that pays something like $14-16/hr that I REALLY REALLY WANT (not just for the money, mind you!) but so far I haven’t heard anything, which doesn’t bode well. That job could significantly help my money problems, though, especially if I was working full-time at the Humane Society and then working two days a week at that part-time job. Like, for serious — I would be doing decently well. I desperately need that part-time job. I’ll email the guy on Monday to check in.

I hate feeling so panicky about money. It’s like someone’s constantly squeezing the air out of your chest, pressing in on all sides. The late fees piling up just makes the light at the end of the tunnel all the more distant. I can’t believe — I CANNOT BELIEVE — it’s taken me this long to get a job. And all I have is a part-time restaurant job for $8/hr and the potential of a second job at a grand $8.50/hr. Just a few years ago, I was enjoying a paycheck of $1,100 every two weeks. Hell, even when I was working part-time at that job, I still earned $770 per paycheck (after taxes, too). Am I a victim of the recession? One of those tragic millenials who busted their asses through college, did all the right things, but still end up back in Mom and Dad’s basement? We worked so hard and all we have to show for it is an eviction notice, an abysmal credit score, an empty bank account, and embarrassed, burdened parents.

Or am I a casualty of hubris? I made the decision to leave Dallas, to leave the museum field. I decided to move back to Birmingham practically on a whim. I got a fantastic apartment that I thought I deserved and wrongly assumed I’d be able to pay for, what with years of experience, a graduate degree, and a shitload of connections in my hometown. I’m a fool, aren’t I. Gambled too big and am about to lose it all. Too late for regrets. Too late for shoulda, woulda, couldas. I made what I thought was a solid, reasonable decision at the time and now I just have to deal with it when I sink with this ship.

I’m trying to remember how I made it financially in Dallas… I only made $8.50 an hour, but somehow stayed afloat. I had a second job, true, but I don’t remember working too terribly much extra. Memory is a foggy thing. I’m probably just messed up in the brain. God, I miss the days of a salary and great benefits. Did my boss make me miserable? Yes. So should I have stayed at that job? No. But dammit, I cry sometimes thinking about all that I gave up in DC. My life could have been so incredibly different from what it is now. But I guess life is always better in our fantasies, isn’t it. Reality isn’t welcome there.

It’s better to focus on the right now and the immediate future, and the right now is pretty gripping anyway. I have some spaghetti left but nothing to go with or on top of it, and I have a frozen pizza in the freezer I’ve been saving. I’m probably going to have to eat it tonight. I’ve also got half a box of raisin bran but I think it’s really old. I’ll save that for more desperate times.

Jason keeps asking me, “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?” and for the first time in my life, I’ve got absolutely nothing to say. No idea. I just stare at him blankly before telling him I hate that question. I’m so preoccupied with money problems, it’s hard to play pretend like that, pretend like I could ever get a job I might like and can survive on the pay. When people find out I’m looking for a job, they always ask, “What do you want to do?” To which I reply, “Anything. I just really need a job.” It’s true, isn’t it? I’m not out to be picky. I need money in the bank. I need my bank account to not be in the negatives. I’d like to pay my bills on time and buy real food and get wine from the top shelf at Aldi instead of the bottom. That’s what I want.

But that’s not true, is it? There are plenty of jobs I pass over because I know I’ll be bored. I’ve applied to a large number of administrative assistant jobs (which I’ve never been called in for an interview for, I should add) that I secretly hoped I wouldn’t get. I’d rather be poor than hate my job like that. Ah, arrogance. Ah, ambition. I guess I’m not truly a beggar yet.

I just don’t want to be miserable. Is that so much to ask? Is that too much to ask of my life and the world? I just don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to hate my life for 40+ hours every week because I’m bored out of my skull at a job that pays well but sucks the life and excitement out of me. And of course, I don’t want to keep living paycheck to paycheck or in the constant fear of debt collectors and landlords banging on doors for late rent checks. I don’t want to keep living in the anxiety of the poor, wondering how many meals I can get out of a $5 Little Caesar’s Hot and Ready pizza because I only have $5 to eat on for the week. Why can’t there be a compromise in that? An above-minimum wage job that I don’t mind doing? Does that exist? Do I deserve it? Can I convince someone that I’m not overqualified, or even if I am (because we all know I am), that I plan on staying in that job for a while?

Why can’t I get a decent job? How much longer can this go on.

Just Us Girls

August 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s been a tough few weeks as far as stress levels are concerned. Jason didn’t get into graduate school because he forgot to send in one form. A tiny detail that’s keeping him from his future. His advisors recommended that he retake the GRE in preparation for next time, just to make sure 100% that he’ll get in. And obviously since he’s got me now, he’ll turn in everything ultra early and won’t miss a single form, transcript, post-it note. The declination did result in a pretty unhappy, stressful few days but now we’ve got a game plan moving forward, so I think he feels better.

He’s away for the week earning some certification that will help him in the Peace Corps. I should know what it is…. SIFAS or something like that? Anyway, it’s at the Global Village about 2 hours from anything including cell reception. Considering we spend every night (and non-work moment) together, it’s been somewhat of a shock to the routine to not have him here so I’ve been a little off this week already. Matters are worse because we haven’t been able to communicate much since he has to go about a mile outside of the village to get cell reception and as we found out last night, he doesn’t get enough reception to hold a call longer than 30 seconds. The most I’ve gleaned is that the village looks cool but he’s having a shit time because the program is super tedious. Naturally, the girlfriend in me is pacing the floor in anxiety knowing my sweet man is unhappy and I can’t even talk to him about it.

In addition to Jason-related stresses as listed above, I am suffocating under serious money stress. I just started a new job that’s not enough pay and not enough hours but surprisingly I do actually enjoy it. It’s easy for the most part and the people I work with are great, plus I get a free meal every day which is a lifesaver (literally.). But it’s not enough to pay the remaining rent I owe, the bills from last month and this month that never got paid, and of course rent for September that is speeding towards me faster than a bullet train. I haven’t had luck with any “big girl” (salaried + benefits) jobs but do have an interview for a part-time job at the Humane Society on Thursday that will likely turn into another low-paying job that might just get me to rent. The Humane Society is a kill shelter, so I probably won’t be able to last long there anyway, which is fine because I need weekends free so Jason can drag me to Auburn for football games once the season starts back. There’s a job I’ve applied to that’s also part-time but pays a lot and would be an AmAzInG opportunity, plus it would really boost my Peace Corps application. So, cross your fingers for that. If I could get that job and keep my current one, I think I’ll be a decently happy camper for the next few months at least.

Now that I’m without Jason and it’s just me, the girls, and my serious financial situation stress, I’ve been sleeping like shit, plus my volunteer schedule is kicking into overdrive so I’ve got extra stress for that. The result? Really shitty sleep. Know what really shitty sleep + serious stress and anxiety equals in Alexa world? GETTING SICK. In case you don’t recall, I have a permanent infection deep within my tonsils where antibiotics can’t reach. The only solution is to take them out, but of course, I don’t have time or money to do that. Recovery time is what, two weeks for adults? I would probably only take one week, but still. It has to be put off for a while so now (since college/grad school), I get sick from that same infection whenever I have that awful combination of stress and bad sleep.

I’ve been trying to take it easy today, relaxing with the girls after work and binging on Law & Order: SVU (cause that’s healthy). I don’t really feel any better but I might tomorrow. Hoping I can sleep better tonight, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Haven’t managed to do anything productive around the apartment, which is a fail, and am currently using tissues as a substitute for the toilet paper I ran out of days ago. I should try to pay at least one bill this week. I’m not sure which one. Health insurance? I can’t even remember what’s due when and what I actually paid last month. I should check on that… tomorrow, maybe. When you have no money, it doesn’t really matter when your bills are due.

Still haven’t heard from Jason, but trying hard not to worry… I’m such a worrier though, it’s a tough life to lead. I should probably write some job applications tonight but I’m just so sick of resumes and cover letters, I might take a few days off. It’s not like there are any really exciting opportunities out there right now anyway.

Till next time…

Life, Currently

July 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

We’ve made it to a month! We’ve had two fights and one vacation, all of which we got through a-okay. The fights were might fault, of course, and he’s really good at handling it. Basically, he refuses to let me mope around and be pissed off, forcing me to talk about it instead so we can move forward ASAP. Our weekend in Atlanta was a great time. I met some of his family and they seemed to really like me, so that’s a plus. He met my aunt and uncle but I haven’t heard a review from them yet. Tomorrow we’re meeting my grandmother for breakfast and then on Saturday we’ve got dinner plans on the Mountain (nickname for the family compound out in the country). We’ve exchanged keys to our apartments, though it seems kind of unnecessary since we never sleep apart. Things are very solid. I’m happy.

We have had some fairly heated discussions about his hair. Perhaps shockingly, I’ve decided to compromise on it. I told him he may have long hair but he CANNOT have the cave man beard. It’s too bad because he’s so handsome with his short hair, but I want him to be happy, so I guess I’ll just have to adjust to long hair on a man.

But more seriously, we do have some big choices coming up. We’ll hear back soon about whether he was accepted into the Master’s International program. If he’s accepted, that means he’ll be going into the Peace Corps in a year which means I’ll be going into the Peace Corps in a year. This will be complicated to swing because he has to apply through school so we have to apply separately. Peace Corps does consider couples, but only if they apply *together* but we have to apply separately because of school. What makes matters more complicated is that the entire process takes 6 months to a year before you know where you’ve been assigned, so we won’t be able to go over together at the same time since I can’t apply until I know exactly where he’s going. If it ends up that I can’t go, or am placed somewhere else, we’re going to have to break up because I’m not going to do long-distance for 27 months while he’s in a developing country changing and growing on the daily and I’m at home in stasis. He said he would worry too much about me if I were placed in a different country so he would rather I stay home. There may be some other options to join him in the country where he’s placed like long-term Habitat for Humanity volunteering but I haven’t gotten too deep into looking at that.

A lot of these wheels will get set in motion when we know if he got in or not. I absolutely want this for him. 100%. I don’t know what to do if he doesn’t get in. He’ll be devastated… We could do Peace Corps together, though, in that instance, or he could do short-term Doctors Without Borders trips. I won’t be able to go on those trips, but at least I would only be without him for a few months and not a couple of years. We’ll just have to wait and see, and thankfully we don’t have to wait long to hear the verdict about graduate school.

My job search has been fairly dismal. I’ll be bundling up to go to Starbucks this afternoon to write up quite a few job applications, but so far unemployment drags on. Jason keeps asking me “If you could have any job in the world right now, what would it be?” and gets progressively frustrated as my answer is surprisingly consistent: “I don’t know.” How can it be that I don’t have an ideal job in my brain? When I think about it, I only see a big blank space, wide open to all possibilities but empty, too. I guess that’s what happens when you spend ten years of your life devoted to a specific career but get put out with the trash every time you try to actually make it happen. Makes you pretty skittish about wanting anything specific or working towards any one direction. What job would make me happy right now? I have no fucking idea. Something creative and fast-paced, but what? I would just like to get a job and see where it takes me.

Once I get a job that pays me a decent wage, I can pursue a Certificate in Art Business from NYU, and if I get a job at UAB (which I’m trying like hell to do), I can take classes for free in Graphic Design and Marketing. These classes and the NYU certificate will equip me with some very appealing skills for today’s job market and will hopefully open up some more doors. I would really like to have my own art consulting business, something I can do on my own time and at-will, a la my parents’ self-employment. Plus Jason wants a job where he can travel the world to work on tropical diseases (his ideal job is being an epidemiologist) and I’d like to go with him on his trips, so being an art consultant would be a great way to do that if I can find a niche market for tribal and folk wares from abroad. So I guess I have some kind of end goal but it’s all very fuzzy indeed and I’m trying to gather lots of different skills and experience rather than channel everything I do in one direction. Jason’s ideal is for him to work and for me to stay home and make art. Ain’t gonna happen! If he’s going to travel, I want to go with him.

But that’s all in the future and in that unknown fantasy land that exists only in our imagination. For now, we’re both poor and struggling towards some more financially stable future. Good thing we’ve got each other. :)

Still Going Strong, But…

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Jason and I are still going strong, but I’m remembering how awful it can be to be in love. He’s applying to grad school and is, as I’m sure you can imagine, incredibly stressed out. I don’t know what to say because everything everyone said to me when I applied to grad school didn’t make me feel better, it just made me want to scream or pull my hair out or both. One thing I’m very careful about not saying is “Of course you’ll get in!” Because I’ve learned time and time and time again that that’s complete bullshit, just like when people tell me “Of course you’ll get the job!” Why not say something helpful like, “You did your best! Now we wait.”

Part of what I hate about being in love is that aching feeling you have in your heart when you watch the person you love struggle or stress. I want him to get into this grad program soooo badly because I know how important it is to him, but I also know I can’t do a damn thing to help (more than I already have editing his essay, anyway) and if he doesn’t get in, he’s going to be devastated. What can I do to make him feel better? How can I handle watching the man I love suffer like that? What do I say?

I also hate being in love because I worry about him a lot. He bikes to work and refuses to wear a helmet despite my constant, incessant nagging. His pet name for me is “Bwana” because I’m so bossy sometimes. I also fuss at him for not eating as well as he should, but he doesn’t have a lot of options in the hospital cafeteria, so I guess I have to be patient with his eating habits until he gets a different job. We both hate the hospital hours since we almost never know when he’s actually going to get off, and it’s almost worse when he’s on call because we’re constantly on edge (or at least I am) that he’s going to get called in at any time. He got called in at 7:30am on Sunday. Bye bye brunch plans…

Of course, this isn’t to say that being in love isn’t worth the extra stress, anxiety, and potential heartbreak. It is totally fucking worth it. We also really couldn’t be a better match. He’s worked with mentally ill people in the past so he’s incredibly understanding of my condition and I’ve been very good about being open and honest about my status (still super healthy and happy, btw!) and why I react certain ways sometimes. He doesn’t get angry with me when I respond negatively to something, instead he lets me know he’s upset immediately and makes me talk through it with him. That’s just huge to me — he doesn’t let things build up until they explode, he keeps his temper in check, and he actually listens to me when I explain what’s going on in my messed up little brain. It really helps that he knows I’m trying to get better, there’s just more than a decade of damage that has to be overcome.

I could go on and gush about all the ways we’re perfect for each other, but I won’t bore you with that. I’m just incredibly relieved to have found someone who seems like just the man I’ve been looking for all these years. I’m meeting his family this weekend which makes me super nervous, but he said even if they don’t like me, it won’t change how he feels. That’s some reassurance, I suppose.

I’ve had a lot of subconscious anxiety about fucking this up though, mainly in regards to Mark. Obviously Mark and I are never going to get back together and I am 100% in this with Jason, but my subconscious seems overly concerned with an brief, but devastating, explosion of passion with Mark since our chemistry is so goddamn ridiculous. My dreams have been working through this in annoyingly crystal clear vividness and I wake up feeling guilty even though I know 1. that will never ever happen and 2. my dreams aren’t expressing a desire, they’re expressing a concern. I don’t want that with Mark, I just know from our history that sometimes when we’re around each other, the sparks between us are more like lightning bolts. I think that’s the only thing that would ruin things between Jason and I, which is likely why my brain is fixating on it. Depressives hold on to things that cause us pain, and the thing that would break me right now is to lose Jason, especially to lose him that way. God, he’s so damn wonderful, I really don’t want to fuck this thing up.

I really don’t want to fuck this thing up. If there’s a “one” for me, he’s it.

Impossible/Irrational

July 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

I consider myself a pretty rational person, despite the mental illness, my short temper, and my hormonal lady swings. So I know, rationally, it’s impossible to fall in love with someone after a mere 3 dates. It’s *impossible.* That’s not what rational people do. It’s just infatuation, right? Or over-excitement? I know it has to be something other than love, but dammit I’ve been in love before and this is exactly what it feels like. He just seems like the perfect match for me. He’s everything I could hope for in a man. It’s unreal, impossible.

My favorite thing about being in love is the feeling that anything is possible because now you can do the impossible with another person. The world isn’t a scary place of danger and failure anymore; it’s a place of possibility, opportunity, excitement. I know this can’t be love, but I’m riding this wave until it crashes.

Impossible, improbable love.

Fear II

June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

While most Alabamians are out enjoying this gorgeous weather, I’m stuck in bed sick and worrying about being shot. I grew up in the age of Columbine, so school shootings are something I’ve thought a lot about, using that slaughter to mark the end of my childhood as I realized I could die anywhere, anytime. This is always present in my mind in some way, though I usually picture it as a random situation rather than being hunted down. 

In the wake of the recent Santa Barbara school shooting, I’ve been thinking more carefully about my own risk. The shooter’s vocalizations and writings about his terrifyingly misogynistic views towards women have stuck a special cord with me, leading me to reevaluate my own safety here in Birmingham. 

As some of you know, I was stalked and harassed by a young man over a period of four years. I felt reasonably safe for most of that time because I didn’t live in Alabama, but when I moved back to Birmingham, my concerns rose to such an extent as to have the police investigate whether said stalker had a gun license or permit. After seeing him in my neighborhood, I was relieved to move out to Texas where I could hide in anonymity. But now I’m back in town again, and he’s seen me here. So with that in mind already, plus the rantings and ravings of a lunatic rejected by women in Santa Barbara, I once again feel my own vulnerability. I hesitate every time I leave my house when I know I’m entering into the public sphere where I have no protection against lunatics with weapons who view me as theirs despite my constant, clear rejection. 

So what do I do? What can I do? I’ve been looking into taking some self-defense classes (which are LONG overdue), purchasing a tazer, and even buying a gun of all things (yes, I can shoot. I’m from Alabama, after all.) but really, none of that will protect me from someone who wants to shoot me. The self-defense and tazer aren’t bad ideas though because I do reject guys at bars firmly and without wimpy excuses. I simply say “I’m not interested.” with my most serious, intense look which I think is far more feminist a thing to say than “I have a boyfriend.” It’s certainly better than letting a guy buy me a drink and follow me around the rest of the night. Unfortunately, men don’t like rejection and far more insecure men don’t like a woman being blunt and to-the-point when she rejects them, so I have feared for my safety a few times in retrospect, after I’ve safely made it home but am reflecting on my absurd walk alone to the car. 

Despite the steps we take to protect ourselves, we are always vulnerable. As a woman, I will always be a target, always a victim. I wonder sometimes if being bold and blunt and a feminist (and occasionally a smartass) will result in my demise at the hand of a man who felt disrespected, embarrassed, or rejected. I suppose everything we do has a price. 

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