Simple Questions

March 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s rare for me to be at a loss for words. Normally I’m armed with a sarcastic wit at the very least, or a solid “Holy shit” ready to go as a response. On Saturday, I was asked two questions that left me speechless, staring vacantly with a bewildered expression and nothing in my mouth but a slightly dry tongue. The questions weren’t even challenging but they caught me at a weird moment in my life, in my personal history.

“Are you happy?”

I’m sure you can understand how even on a normal day I would struggle answering this question. There are big things in my life that make me happy — my nuclear family of Jason and the girls, my blood family, my friends at work, etc. — but am I happy? Am I happy? Generally, I would shrug and say a noncommittal “sure” but on Saturday, I just gaped at her. She asked me this within five minutes of meeting me for the first time, so it was certainly one of the last questions I was expecting to explode out of her mouth. I noticed the seconds ticking by as I stared at her but the only thing I uttered to break the silence was “uh, no.” which wasn’t really the best response.

Why can’t I answer simple questions like that to strangers I’ll never see again? Why can’t I just be a normal person and say “Of course! Aren’t you?” and keep the conversation light and moving along to other superficial topics? I was having a tough day already, teetering on a depressive episode as a result of my dual rejection letters from UNC and my lack of progress on the job front, so faking Normal wasn’t really in the cards anyway. But still, any reaction would have been better than the one I had. A few weeks ago, when I was still feeling hopeful and excited about my future, I would have answered wholeheartedly Yes.

“If you could live anywhere, where would it be?”

I wasn’t even a part of the conversation really. I desperately latched on to Jason at the first opportunity to get away from the condescending and intense “Are you happy?” girl, so I was more relieved to be free from talking than excited to be in their discussion. I wasn’t paying attention to Jason and Chris’s topic of conversation so when Chris addressed me directly with a loud “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” I was caught completely off guard. I handled it about as well as the “Are you happy?” question, staring at him with a slight deer-in-headlights expression and only mustering a mumbled “…what? I don’t know…”.

I’ve never really had a solid answer to that question. If you ask Jason, it’s Key West. No question. Boom. There’s his dream town. But for me? I’ve never really been happy with anywhere I’ve lived. There are things I love about places I’ve lived, but they were never perfect or ideal, they were never everything I wanted. I loved DC but travel was exhausting, just to go to the grocery store was an all-day complicated affair, and the winters were long and brutal. Tourist season was enough to make me want to hold a gun over my head and scream for them all to go the fuck home if they can’t figure out how to function in the city. The city itself was gorgeous, though, and I loved the energy of it, knowing that important things were happening there and great minds were convening. The diversity was refreshing as well, particularly for a girl from Alabama. I get sick of seeing white people en masse and I get just as sick seeing blatant racial divides like you find in Birmingham.

Enough about DC. Where would I go if I could live anywhere? Truthfully, I don’t think an ideal place like that exists for me. I need warm weather but I love old cities. I like walkability as well as drivability. I love trees and greenery. I hate strip malls and chain restaurants. Dog-friendly, diverse, strong interest in the arts and more intellectual pursuits, locally-focused, liberal. Is that a place? Does that exist somewhere? I certainly don’t know of it if it does. I fit in so well with New England in my desires for a place as well as my personality (type A, driven, intellectual, liberal) but that damn weather is never going to work for me. I just can’t do that kind of cold.

I don’t feel I have the luxury to think about things like that. There was a similar question floating around somewhere on the internet asking what would you buy first if you got a big raise/promotion/new job. What would I buy first? What would I buy? They listed things like a new car and designer clothes, a new house or a second house on a beach, etc. I can’t think of anything sexy or exotic that I would buy, even with a million dollars. I feel like paring down the stuff I have already because so much of it is just excess baggage. I love my car now, though it does need some work. New tires, actual CRX seats (it has civic seats now and they’re not the right fit for the car), and I’d like to build a custom dog seat for the girls in the back since the seat back that came with it is broken (and too small in the first place).

And student loans. I would “buy” off my student loans. Pay them off as quickly as possible so we can start looking for a house. Not a McMansion or anything stupid like that. Who needs so many rooms? You’ll just have to fill them with more shit you don’t need and hire a maid to clean them all. We’d like a unique fixer-upper in a walkable neighborhood with a big yard and a great school system.

Is this adulthood? Or is this what happens when you live paycheck to paycheck for so long? Will I ever be in a place where I think $6.99 is too much to pay for a shirt at the thrift store?

Such simple questions, I can’t answer a single one.

I met with a temp agency today and of course they’re first question was “What do you want to do?” ::blank stare:: I got nothing. I don’t know. No clue. Just give me a job and I’ll see where it takes me. They seemed to like my edited resume (strictly one page, no grad school listed, limited work experience) and were excited about me as a prospective candidate, already listing some positions they think I could be good for. So maybe something is in the works, the universe is gearing up to break me out of this stagnant, boring, inane, and meaningless position and opening a door to a whole new world, a new industry with new people and new things to learn, that might lead me somewhere good, somewhere I can feel useful, helpful, worth something.

I really need to feel worth something. Sometimes I think it’s a total fluke that anyone loves me at all.

Resembling Square One

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

You know my track record so it probably comes as no surprise that I was rejected from both programs at UNC Chapel Hill. The MPA program didn’t even want to interview me, that’s how much of a non-candidate I was. I don’t really have any regrets because I literally did everything in my power to get in, including campus visit, attending info sessions, talking to the director, and so on.

With two rejection letters to show for it. I wish we got refunded for our application fees when we’re rejected. Might take the sting out ever so slightly.

Hopes and dreams of a new town and a new career dashed, now what do I do? Admittedly, there’s no way I could have justified taking out $60,000 more student loans (honestly, between the two programs and living expenses, it would have been more than that), but I still would have liked to get an acceptance letter saying “You’re on the right track, kid. You’ve got potential.”

Instead, I’m left wondering what the hell I’m going to do with my life. I’ve been pretty depressed lately, not only because 2015 has been pretty rough so far but because I don’t have any idea about my future. My experience is all so arts-centric, I can’t seem to convince people to hire me outside of it. I even applied to a couple jobs that I interviewed for last year that are open again but so far no response. I’ve pared down my resume, stripping it of internships and my graduate degree in the hopes that I’m shaving off anything intimidating that might say “overqualified.”

I feel desperate, floundering, frantic, damn near hysterical.

What do I do?
What do I do?
What do I do?

What *can* I do? Have I doomed myself to a restaurant career? Have I doomed myself to being a receptionist for the rest of my life? I can’t convince anyone to give me a job. I can’t even get temp agencies to call me back. How am I supposed to survive like this? It’s like throwing darts in the dark. I feel crushed and overwhelmed, trapped by my own history and decisions.

I would feel better if I were making more money. I don’t care what the job is, just give me steady hours and a decent paycheck. If I can get my finances under control, I can focus more on building relationships and developing new skills through volunteering, which will hopefully lead to a new career. Somewhere. Doing something. Who knows.

I have a lot of free time now only working 30 hours/week, but I’m in such a constant state of anxiety that I find myself unable to use my time productively. Instead, I spend my time sifting through job openings online and saving positions I’ll likely never get around to applying to because I’m so sure it’s a waste of my time, I’ll never get the job.

I emailed Special Equestrians about volunteering. It’s a nonprofit south of Birmingham that offers riding therapy for disabled people, adults and children both. I love horses, always have, and might be good at taking care of them within that context and aiding the riders in their therapy. It’s something I would enjoy for myself and feel good about doing, so it’s worth pursuing, especially if Jason and I are staying in Birmingham. That’s unclear though, since he’s still tossing around different schools to apply to, so I’m not sure if we’re actually staying here or if we will be moving out of state by the end of summer. That’s a whole other level of anxiety.

I know these things:
I like cooking.
I like cleaning.
I like organizing.
I like turning trash into treasures.
I like animals.
I would like to be more involved in the Bham art scene.
I would like to be more involved with community revitalization.

But how to channel those interests into a career, into a livelihood? They’re disconnected and constantly being shuffled around in my rather selfish priorities. I’m very inward-focused right now, worrying about my weight and my finances above all else.

I’m almost done with my AmeriCorps application for a position here in Birmingham, but I’m not sure I really want it because the pay is so minuscule and they prohibit outside work. Not totally sure what that means exactly, like if that would prohibit me selling art or flipped furniture, or if that just means you can’t have a part-time job in addition to your full-time job with them. The experience would be huge and would definitely put me on the right path towards a career, but can I make it another year being so anxious about money, being stuck on survival mode? That makes me feel panicky just thinking about it. Why is there not an alternative option? Why can’t I get a job like that with decent pay? Why can’t someone just give me a chance?

What can I do to make someone give me a chance. How desperate am I? How much should I let that desperation show? I need a new path, a new job, a fresh start. How do I get that. And why do I feel like I don’t deserve it?

Revolving Doors

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

For the past year I feel like I’ve been running in circles, around and around, pushing on the glass to try to find a way out, but when a doorway appears, I hesitate to jump through it. I continue to push forward but I don’t really get anywhere.

As you know, I’ve been applying for jobs for over a year with no luck. “Discouraging” doesn’t quite cover how it feels to keep applying for jobs and being passed over, particularly when they’re jobs I’m totally qualified for. I don’t get it. So I decided going back to graduate school made the most sense because I could get the education requirements I need for the jobs I would like plus work experience while I’m in school. I picked the program I wanted to do and applied to it.

That should be simple but it’s not. I applied in mid-December by their first deadline (the final deadline was mid-January) and I’ve yet to hear anything. I have to assume that means I’ve been rejected or perhaps wait-listed. Admittedly, “it ain’t over til it’s over” so I shouldn’t write myself off from that program until I get the official word of acceptance or rejection from the school, but the more I think about it, do I even want to go? I’d be spending another 2-3 years being pitifully poor, living off student loans such that I’d graduate with about $60,000+ of debt. With the heavy courseload and required field work, there’s very little time to have a job and they recommend you don’t work any more than 8-10 hours per week. I don’t know how anyone lives on that and the students I spoke with all were taking out loans to cover living expenses which I absolutely don’t want to do.

So that’s a problem. Money is always a major concern for me so being poorer and in deeper debt than I already am sounds like a seriously bad idea.

But what’s the alternative?

Jason and I have been discussing our options and we both agree that staying in Birmingham is our best plan B. We don’t want to have to move again plus right now we couldn’t afford it anyway, so it makes sense to stay where we are. He’s a shoo-in/shoe-in (? where does that phrase even come from?) for UAB which is nationally ranked for their Public Health program (#16 in the nation), so that will work out great for him. But for me? What do I do? Obviously my main goal right now is still getting a legit, full-time, well-paying job (well-paying for me right now means like $12/hr, nothing crazy, ya’ll) so that I can get my current debt under control, support Jason, stop stressing so much about money every second, and think about doing the MPA program at UAB part-time (all classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working people) or an online MPA program. I could pay out of pocket for the classes so I wouldn’t be taking out any more student loans and I could hopefully afford to make significant payments on the loans I have.

I’m already on track to have all of my credit card debt paid off by November next year (I’m paying about $400/mo to my credit card companies right now) and I’d love to be able to afford to pay those off quicker and then tackle my student loans. If I get a job making at least $30,000/yr (which I think is very reasonable) then I can afford to pay at least $600/mo towards my student loans, allowing me to pay them off in 5 years (though really I could pay them off sooner because once my credit card debt is paid off I can devote that $400/mo to my loans totaling $1,000/mo, in which case I can pay them off in about half the time). Being debt free… I have no idea how light and wonderful that must feel!

What do I want to do with my life? Honestly, I don’t even know. Help people in some meaningful way but the “how” is pretty open depending on where the universe takes me and what opportunities come my way. Really right now I just want a decent paying job that I can stand doing for the next three years. Financial security. That’s all I want. Education, career, having a car with heat and a/c and a radio, these things are all secondary right now.

I’m tired of merely surviving; I want to be financially sound. From there, I can move onto bigger, more meaningful things. Here’s hoping.

A More Personal Update

January 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

There’s a certain paranoia that comes with being mentally ill, particularly when you’re like me and have been ill for most of your life. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately which has tired both my mind and body. When I was so depressed, I spent so much of my free time (what little I had of it) in bed, zoning out, napping, or disappearing into Netflix Land. I felt physically tired almost all the time.

Now, when I’m on three anti-depressants, I feel paranoid, thinking that the exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately is my body rejecting the medication or perhaps my depression is growing stronger than the meds. It makes you think “Oh god, am I *not* actually better? Am I supposed to feel better than this? What do normal people feel like if not this?”, questions that flooded my mind when I first began to see that I was depressed. How does a sick person distinguish between the exhaustion of healthy people under stress and the exhaustion that plagues the unmedicated depressed? I’ve been given permission by my shrink to double my dose of Wellbutrin, but I’m incredibly hesitant to change anything about my meds for fear that it’ll have a strong negative reaction that I don’t want to experience and simply don’t have time to deal with.

So I’m just riding it out. Living in paranoia, but afraid to make a change. Perhaps all is well. Healthy people get stressed too.

There’s another side effect of the recent stress I’ve been under that is likely more worrying. I’ve been aching to cut myself. My wrist physically aches right now and my brain says that cutting it is the only way to alleviate that. Believe me when I say I am in no way suicidal. I’ve got a life now. I’ve got a wonderful family, I’m in the best relationship of my life, my dogs are young and healthy, my future is open to all opportunities, I’m learning to cook with high success rates, and I’ve got plans for marriage and children. Not suicidal. In any way. But the urge to cut has been growing steadily as my stress levels are maxing out.

Something definitely has to give. I can’t keep working 7 days a week. I can’t keep working 50+ hours per week, at least not at the restaurant where I’m bored out of my mind 90% of the time. When we’re busy, I’m totally fine, but when there’s nothing to do or we’re waiting for people to leave so we can close shop and go home, I find my impatience bubbling like a volcano. I don’t get paid enough to waste my time like that. $9 an hour? I can’t even buy a movie ticket or a meal unless it’s fast food. I’m hoping since I applied to grad school by the earliest deadline that I’ll hear back soon. They said late-January to March, so cross your fingers for late January just so I can know if I’m staying here or leaving sooner than later.

I’m struggling a bit with Jason too. Don’t get me wrong — I’m unbelievably happy with him and love him dearly. But I’m having a hard time dealing with some things lately. He’s applying to grad school too and has some serious self-loathing about his past and even his potential. It drives me CRAZY because he’s an incredibly capable, intelligent, charismatic man who can do whatever he sets his mind to, but in his own perception of himself, he only sees a failure, a Lost Boy. He’s taking a depression test next week for his new shrink, so we might be a true depressive household. In my unprofessional opinion, I don’t think he’s chemically depressed. He has a solid appetite, great energy level, doesn’t have mood swings, etc. None of the signs that were so prevalent in my youth and early adulthood. But I do think he needs counseling to work through some very deep-seated issues of inadequacy that likely stem from his family start (teenage mother, tried multiple times to abort him, depressed for a long time after he was born, non-existent father, etc.) and his turbulent adolescence. High school and college were particularly trying times for him and he made a lot of bad choices, which he still beats himself up for with no mercy. Well, he beats himself up for some of them, not all but what’s done is done so I should let that go. Anyway, he sees his academic failures and shortcomings as something wrong with him, with his intelligence and capabilities. I’m really struggling with pulling him out of that, focusing on who he is and not what his grades are. But he’s convinced he can’t put together a good application for grad school because of his grades, his expulsion from school, his past mistakes.

I’m doing my best to help him with his application, I’ve even recruited my dad to help him with editing his personal statement. I’m working with him on the front end, trying to get him to relax enough to talk fluidly and comfortably about who he is and what he wants to do. Maybe I should get him drunk? I’m not sure. I had him write stream of consciousness responses to a few questions yesterday which I think was moderately productive, though most of his writing was filled with negativity and evidence that he’s convinced he is and will be a failure. It’s heartbreaking to me and something I’m not prepared to deal with. I don’t have those skills to coax him out of that negative realm, probably because I’ve lived there myself for so long.

It’s a learning process, I suppose. I’ve got to make a better effort not to get frustrated and yell at him when he dips into these depressive modes. I need to keep him focused on the task at hand, the personal statement, something tangible and doable and deadlined. I’m such and INTJ sometimes…

An Overdue Update

January 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Okay, so it’s been awhile! A long while. Lots of things to process, that’s for sure.

2015 has been a year of serious highs and lows so far. So much so that I’m hoping it’s getting out all the “excitement” in the beginning and the rest of the year will be smooth sailing… That’s silly thinking but a girl can dream.

Let’s start with the good:

Jason and I got an apartment together! It’s a cool space with a lofted bedroom and a wall of windows (though they just look out onto a little valley and other apartment buildings’ back decks) plus 1.5 bathrooms which is great for two of us and a two floor apartment. The move went okay, not super smooth but not terrible either. Jason has been really kind to let me unpack the apartment and put things where I want to put them which has made me incredibly happy (since I’m a slight control freak sometimes). It’s been a week since we’ve officially moved in and the place is 98% unpacked, which is a huge relief to someone like me who nests. I tried to hang art today but it’s been difficult since I’m tired of looking at all the same art I’ve had on my walls for years. Time for new art, my own and from others, but the budget really doesn’t allow for that right now. Living together has been fantastic and a huge stress relief for me since before I was constantly going between our apartments with the girls and my clothes for work, sleep, going out… It was incredibly stressful especially since Jason never gave me a copy of his key so we were constantly leaving the key for each other and occasionally there were times when keys were forgotten. We’ve had no problems with sharing space in the new place and are very respectful of each other, which is an amazing feeling (particularly compared to alec’s constant tv-watching and video game playing). And he’s still incredibly affectionate and attentive despite us living together.

Basically I’m living in domestic bliss.

Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of the year (don’t get me wrong, it’s a HUGE highlight, but a lot of things have been speedbumps to truly being happy right now). 2015 has been really rough. Financially, we’re both really struggling after the holidays where we spent more money and took more time off from work in addition to the cost of the move. I sprained my right foot right before (literally hours before) we left for a trip to UNC Chapel Hill, driving of course. We were visiting the campus and the foot was a big pain in the ass though I still made all my appointments and we got to see a lot of campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. I couldn’t help Jason with the driving though which was rough. But we used Couchsurfing.com to find a place to stay for free, so that’s a plus. The trip was great — freezing cold but we fell in love with Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and the school. I guess we should move the trip to being a good thing in 2015!

But days after I got to take my boot off my right foot, I sprained my left ankle. It’s likely that the ankle was strained from being put under so much pressure while my foot was sprained and then with work (where I’m on my feet for 10 hours) and the move (lots of stairs and carrying heavy things), it ended up spraining. So that was a pain because of course I couldn’t take off work or slow down the move, so I just had to slap an ACE bandage on that puppy and keep going.

Literally a day after we moved into the new apartment, Jason’s car broke down. That’s been a pretty big issue not only because it’s going to be $800-1,000 to fix the car but he still has to get around town to and from his old apartment (which still has some stuff in it) and the new apartment as well as to and from work, school, appointments, etc. He refuses to drive my car because 1. he claims it’s a death trap and 2. he’s too big for it (it’s a tiny 2-door hatchback) so he’s spent a LOT of time literally walking around Birmingham which wastes a lot of his time that he could be using for more productive things (did I mention that he’s taking FIVE classes this semester in addition to working 30+ hours per week?!). There are other things related to the car breaking down like getting keys and getting things out of the truck that have caused extra stress and frustration.

Winter has officially hit Birmingham (well… for a couple of days anyway) and my car has no heat or defroster so sometimes I have to drive around with my head out of the window because I simply can’t see well enough through the windshield to drive. I’m basically just crossing my fingers every day that I have to drive like that, hoping to god I won’t wreck and either die or kill someone. It’s a hell of a gamble some days…

Jason is also having serious though occasional pains in his lower abdomen which is probably just stress but has me super worried and in Super Nagging Girlfriend mode. So now he has to go to the doctor on top of all this other crap and stress.

As for my life, I’m working 6-7 days/50+ hours per week and it’s killing my soul not only because I’m bored SO MUCH and the tasks are so repetitive but it’s just so much of my time spent for not a lot of money. Plus I have my own bills piling up like crazy that I haven’t been able to pay because of the holidays and then the move. And my stupid student loan people are saying that I have to start paying $400/mo in February! Craziness. Absurdity. Just one more thing I have to make a phone call about.

I did apply to a potentially promising job at an arts non-profit in Birmingham that I’ve volunteered extensively with, which I hope will lead to a permanent (salaried!!) position. The downside and why I think I might not get the job is that I applied to graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill (for a dual Master’s degree in Public Administration and Social Work) so if I get accepted (I honestly have no idea what my odds are) then I’ll be moving to NC in August. But if I don’t get accepted I could be stuck in Birmingham indefinitely, in which case it would be amazing to work for the non-profit I love and respect and could do so much for. My interview is at the end of next week. Cross your fingers and I’ll keep you posted. That job (or any 9-5 that pays more than $10-12/hr) would seriously improve my and Jason’s lives. We need the money. Badly.

So 2015 is filled with ups and downs. I’m hoping we’re getting our downs out early so the rest of the year can all be happy, exciting things like getting into grad school (for both of us preferably, otherwise if just he could get in, that would be amazing), getting “real” jobs, getting engaged, etc. Happy things. Exciting things. Things we hoped for when 2015 was right around the corner.

Surely, good times gonna come. In the meantime, I’m just thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, family, and apartment!

Decisions/Cause and Effect

November 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

My lease is up in mid-January, I think, and the closer I draw to that date, the more stressed I feel. Decisions need to be made, big, potentially life-changing decisions. Trying to plan the move to coordinate with both my life and Jason’s has been a surprising source of tension for me, leading me to suffer from a seemingly permanent tension headache that spreads from my eyebrows back over my head and down my neck to my shoulders. I haven’t had an appetite all week as well, leading me to eat only once a day as an afterthought, usually around 6pm or later. My dreams have been confusing and uncomfortable at the least, addressing lingering concerns or fears in my subconscious, only some of which are related to Jason.

These persistent thoughts and stressors were what I thought enough until my mother threw an emotional wrench into the mix, asking me to reconsider the move to stay in Birmingham instead. My family is here and surprisingly, they actually enjoy seeing me. It always surprises me that they enjoy my company when my perception of myself is that I constantly bitch and moan about one irrelevant thing or the other, never seeming happy in my current state or satisfied with any part of my little life. Mom made some solid points about why I should stay beyond the family affection and proximity, not limited to nurturing the tender roots I’ve been laying in this city, giving them time to actually blossom into something rather than abandoning them.

I don’t know why I insist on moving so often, why I can’t get through a year without planning to move on to something new, something else, something different. Is it fear of success, like I’m sabotaging myself? Or is it just a restlessness that I’ve been plagued with since adolescence? I’ve never felt like I’m in the right place doing the right thing, if such things even exist. I’ve always been focused just a step ahead, looking down the road to see what’s next rather than living in the now and focusing on this moment. It’s a curse, really, because I’ve spent so much time planning for a future that never really comes that I’ve missed out on most of my life experiences. People seem to have so many special memories of their lives, even their short lives when they’re still children, but I have very few memories of anything in my past and most of my memories are bad ones that I’d much prefer to forget.

I get bored, too though. So quickly I get tired of the same places, the same people, the same inane conversations. Birmingham in particular wears me down because it is so small and the people have such a narrow view of life and the world around them. So many young folks complain about living here and say that they’re going to leave, going to move to X place and do X things but they never do. Years later they’re still in the same place complaining about the same city to the same people with no realistic intention of ever bettering their situation. That’s not a rut I’m interested in falling into.

The thrill of a new place is intoxicating. I look up restaurants, cool neighborhoods, different galleries and festivals. I love discovering new textures of urban environments, new types of people, new styles of cities. So much to see, eat, and do. New cities hold so much hope for me, hope that I’ll finally be happy or satisfied with my life. Hope that I’ll finally be in the right place doing the right thing and feel some sort of peace.

In the past, I’ve rather boorishly moved at my own will with no regard to other people’s feelings. I didn’t think I mattered to other people, honestly, and I didn’t think my absence would be noticed. In fact, I always wanted to just disappear without telling anyone, without announcing my move date and new location, but the human being in me reminded me that it’s polite to tell your friends and family where and when you’re leaving their presence. But their desires for me to stay or pain from losing me never really reached me in my inner thoughts and feelings.

Now my mother has reached into my chest and pulled on my stiff, cold heartstrings, reminding me that for some strange reason people love me and want me around. Perhaps only in the significantly medicated, post-suicidal episodes and rock bottom have I finally emerged from the selfish fog I’ve been living in and realized that what I do genuinely affects the wonderful, miraculous people who love me. No man is an island and no woman exists in a vacuum. What I do affects people and I have to be conscientious of that, particularly if what I’m doing causes them pain or heartbreak, so I can at the very least attempt to make amends or ameliorate that harm. No doubt my mother speaks for other members of the family and perhaps close family friends who would strongly prefer that I remain where I am, a mere hour or less away, rather than move 8 hours away to another state.

So I’m split, between the man I love and the life I want in a new city, and the family who adores me and the life for which I’ve already built a foundation. That’s a tough ass call if you ask me. In my heart of hearts, I feel like a wretched asshole for hurting my mother and loved ones by leaving, but I feel that getting out of Birmingham is necessary right now for my sanity. Newness, change, discovery. It’s time for another move and following the man I love seems like the right path, albeit a terrifying and risky one. A lot could go wrong, absolutely. I’m no fool; I realize nothing in life is guaranteed and things can fall apart in an instant. But I can’t let an amazing thing slip through my fingers or get tossed in the trash because I wasn’t strong enough to take that leap. I may hurt my family but in the end I won’t lose them. Jason is by no means on the same level of security.

At this moment I’m undecided what’s the best decision for myself. Jason, my family, my bosses, hell even my dogs, are all interfering with the clarity of my thoughts, reminding me that I don’t operate in a bubble so every decision I make will have a definite cause and effect. I must be mindful and thoughtful of those both obvious and subtle.

As always with big decisions, I’ll know what the right thing to do is in the morning. I’ll sleep on it, my subconscious will weigh out the options, their pros and cons, and when I wake up, my decision will be made. But until then, I fret.

How Failure Haunts You

October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

In my mind at least, I see myself bouncing back pretty quickly from failure. I pride myself on being resourceful and persistent, spending a mere 12-24 hours to grieve rejection or disappointment before getting up the next day with my fire renewed and my engine chug chug chugging onwards to my determined goal. Historically in my short little life, I’ve met plenty of failure but I bounce back almost immediately, always scrounging and scampering and scraping things together until they form a decent new plan.

This year has been really rough. All the “You’ll find something…,” “Just be patient!”, “Something good is on its way.” and “This just means the right job hasn’t come up yet!” sayings in the world couldn’t secure me any kind of Big Girl employment. Hell, I couldn’t even get restaurants to call me back; it was just dumb luck I guess that I got hired at the restaurant where I work now. But a restaurant job? Come on, I can’t even put that on my resume.

I’m basically the new boss of the floor now. I’m the only person who works every shift we’re open and I’m one of the only two people who are trained on the register, so I’m basically In Charge. I delegate tasks to the new people and the people we have coming in to pick up random shifts as we struggle to keep a full staff. I’m in charge of to-go orders, bread puddings, alcohol servings, whipped cream, and other food prep assignments that in the past went to Sarah, who recently left to have a baby after working there for years. Considering I just started, what, a month or so ago? This feels like a big step. Good thing I’m ready, willing, and damned able to take it. I delegate better than the other ladies who were heading the floor, so that’s a plus, although I am somewhat particular in the way I want things done (stay as organized and efficient as possible, please!) which is taking longer for people to catch on to.

Anyway, totally not the point. The point is that I can’t allow myself to feel any kind of optimism about my employment status during this shift to Tampa. I feel panicky and in a constant state of anxiety, noting all the jobs I’ve applied for in Florida and how not a single one has called me back. Jason, bless his heart, has been saying the same things my family told me over the 8 months of my unemployment, and I finally had to tell him just to stop saying anything positive because I have 8 months of proof that all that is bullshit. There are no guarantees of a good job in my future. There aren’t even guarantees of shitty jobs that would make me figuratively want to blow my brains out like being a receptionist or (worse?) an executive assistant. I tried like hell to get a job in Birmingham where I grew up and have a plethora of connections and networks, yet I couldn’t get anyone to hire me. How the FUCK am I supposed to get anyone in Tampa (what, 400 miles away? I don’t even know) to hire me?!?!

In the past, I would have been very confident if not cocky. I would have said “Of course I’ll find something! When have I ever not?” because in the past, the longest I’d been unemployed was a month. Maybe two. But now I’ve felt that burn of constant rejection, that building pressure of desperation as the money runs out, that crushing feeling when you realize you, along with so many other Americans, can’t afford to take care of yourself because no one will hire you.

That’s wimpy, though, isn’t it. “Oh, you were unemployed for 8 months in your home town after getting a Master’s degree. Oh, boohoo. So you’re just going to stay in Birmingham and work at the restaurant forever?” Of course not. That’s not who I am. I always keep trying, no matter how many times I get knocked down (13 PhD rejection letters can confirm that). I have to keep trying to make it to Tampa without having to move blind again and hope that I can 1. convince my parents to cosign yet another apartment lease with me so I can have someplace to live without a job after the Bham gamble was a disaster and 2. actually get a job with a decent, livable wage, preferably not a restaurant job though I suppose you have to start somewhere. I’ve certainly learned that a restaurant job is better than being completely unemployed. Plus being unemployed makes me crazy from boredom and cabin fever. There are challenges ahead and my failures constantly haunt me, preventing me from feeling any kind of optimism or opening my heart to any kind of positive words offered to me by my beloved and my family.

The excitement of being in a new city is certainly building though. God, I love being in new places. Finding special little nooks and crannies, new dive bars and breweries, new brunch places and burger joints, new parks and things to do outdoors. Hell, I even appreciate the sunset in different cities and their different landscapes, both urban and country. A new place with a new vibe, new people, new things to explore! I’m beyond thrilled. I’ve loved living in Birmingham and have enjoyed the comfort that comes with being in your hometown, always knowing what places are open when and where to go to get that perfect thing to satisfy whatever you’re craving. You can drive anywhere with very little thought as you run perpetually on autopilot.

But in a new place, you have to pay attention and every time you get lost, you have another adventure, seeing new areas of the city and neighborhoods and finding your favorite streets, your favorite houses, your favorite trees. I haven’t spent much time in Florida beyond the panhandle and it’s one of the few southeastern states that I haven’t lived in (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, check check check). I refuse to ever live in Mississippi and I pretend that Arkansas doesn’t exist (because ew). South Carolina is on my list of places to live, albeit likely only for a short while, specifically Charleston, but that can wait along with New Orleans in Louisiana. Florida is uncharted territory for me and I plan to thoroughly explore and enjoy all that it has to offer.

With so many rivers and lakes, I intend to fish on the weekends and eat my haul throughout the week. For the most part, I would be fishing bass and I don’t know how healthy or nutritious it is, but at least I’ll feel better eating something I’ve caught myself. I will be forced to confront my mortal dread of alligators, which many people laugh at for some reason despite the fact that they are damn near perfect predators.

Ah. Slow down, kid. You’re doing it again. Don’t I always have these grand plans whenever I move someplace new? And then I never do them. I spend my freetime in bed watching netflix or staring at the ceiling.

Oh right. THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS DEPRESSED! This will be my first move since I’ve started medication and am on the path to healthiness and happiness so I think I actually will do much of what I hope to do while I’m there like kayak on the bay, lay out on the beach, go deep sea fishing (not often though, cause that’s intense), and fish on the river on the regular. To be fair, I’ve done a hell of a lot in Birmingham from hiking to kayaking to going to festivals to volunteering my ass off. I think Tampa will be a lot of fun, especially since I’ll have the most wonderful man to force to do things with me. We’re still dancing around the living together conversation, or perhaps just I am and he’s totally fine moving down there separately. Either way, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, either when one of us gets a job offer or when I move down there in January when my lease is up. Whatever comes first…

In the meantime, how to fight off the Failure Ghosts? How to trust the people who love me and believe them when they say positive things regarding my employment potential? How do I have faith in them when history has so clearly contradicted everything they promised me? I don’t know. But even if I don’t believe all their positive sayings and irritating optimism, I know that I will continue to press on as I always have, keep fighting for what I want, keep struggling towards the life I wish I had.

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