Fuck All That

March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

The most compelling stories to me are the most tragic in some ways: when two good people just can’t make it work. No one did anything wrong, necessarily, but for whatever reason or reasons, the couple just couldn’t make it work, make it last in a way that made both parties happy. It’s so much easier (and perhaps less interesting, from an audience viewpoint) when someone does something terrible. At least then you can hate them for it, you can see exactly where and how they crossed the line, and things are much more permanent. When two good people can’t make it work, it’s that much more of a compelling story because it’s more tragic. It’s tragic that they didn’t work out because they both deserve good things in life and they both made each other happy. It just wasn’t meant to be, and it’s a harsh reminder that fate can be so cruel, so unfeeling or unsympathetic. 

I always think that alcohol will make me feel better, that in some way it will numb the feelings or thoughts that hurt me the most. It doesn’t. It amplifies my feelings of self-doubt and the thoughts that say “But what if…” or “Why don’t you just…” or “Maybe he was right…”. 

Stay strong, kid. At this point in my emotional rollar coaster, I don’t give a fuck about anything. I have to keep applying for jobs, I have to finish my application for this travel scholarship, I have to finalize my thesis committee. Fuck all that. I don’t care. I just want to get out of here, start over somewhere new. Be anonymous. I want to be where I don’t matter. God, life is so much easier there. 

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Good Days/Bad Days

March 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

‎ “To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” –Leo Buscaglia

Today was not an easy day. I did my best to distract myself with work (so many ADD kids at the museum today, sheesh!) and social engagements, but things are tough right now. I know that staying strong is the best thing. Just have to keep pushing forward, keep my cell phone off, and stay reasonably distracted as much as possible. My friends have been so great; they’re really supportive and non-judgmental about the whole thing, and it’s nice that they’re not really taking sides. No one should take sides, in my opinion. Sometimes two good people just can’t make it work.

I’ve really got to get studying German. Like tomorrow. No excuses, kiddo. No excuses.

The Ideal

March 15, 2013 § 5 Comments

My ideal right now, since I’m likely not getting into PhD, is to get a salaried job at the beach. I’ve already applied to multiple jobs at the beach, so I’m at least taking the right steps to realize this dream. 

I’ve been thinking a lot today about leaving, or about how to leave, if I’m being specific. I’ve been here for such a short amount of time really. I’m hoping I’ll get offered a job soon so I can leave in May. I think it would be easier if I just stopped showing up to work, instead of telling everywhere in advanced notice when I would be leaving so they can adjust and plan for it. (obviously I would tell my boss, give her two weeks notice) I’d rather just them wake up one day and me not be there. I think that would be easier on everyone. They’ll remember what it was like before me and they’ll return to it after some time. It’ll be like i was never there. That is my ideal. 

My parents will get used to me not being around so often. They’ll remember when they only saw me a few times a year. They’ll readjust, and find alternative ways to keeping up with me than having weekly lunches or stopping by just to say hi. They’ll readjust, after all, they knew this was coming. 

It’s not that I won’t miss them. People have a way of working themselves into my heart, even when I try not to let them. Of course I’ll miss them. I miss them now and I’m not even gone yet. But I think goodbyes can be really hard, and can make things harder instead of easier. Leaving is hard enough, why make it worse on everyone? 

So I’m thinking that’s how I’ll do it. I’ll just treat my last day like any other day. I won’t hug people or say particularly meaningful, heartfelt things. I won’t tell Mark I’m moving away. They’ll just look up one day and I won’t be there anymore. 

Yes, I think that is best. 

Things Fall Apart

March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m entering into the stage of depression where I just want to sleep all the time. Not quite to the extreme that my dad hit where he was literally sleeping 20 hours a day, but I feel extra tired, like I would give anything just to be able to close my eyes and wake up when things are better, or at the very least, resolved. I have a tendency to start listing all the things that have gone wrong in my head when things get rocky, because adding up the mountain of fails clearly is helpful to my mood and mental state.

My birthday is coming up terrifyingly quickly. 25 already? I’d swear I was only 22. I can’t even remember what I did to celebrate my last few birthdays. Only 21 and 24 stick out. It kind of blows my mind to think about what all has happened since my last birthday.

In chronological order:

+ My great gran died in the hospital after a month in ICU. She was the first person I really knew who died. my grandma died my sophomore year of college, but I didn’t see her often leading up to that, and she’d had Alzheimer’s for years, so my “real” memories of her were distant because I was younger when they happened. Alec’s grandma died just that January, and then my mother’s best friend from college died I think in May. It was a rough start to 2012.

+ I quit my job of a year and a half, and left on very bad terms with my boss, who I had at one time considered a good friend. I left on shaky terms with a few other people in the office who I had also considered friends. Ah well. My boss made me miserable, so I don’t regret quitting and I can’t blame myself for the way I acted when I left. I wasn’t unprofessional necessarily, I was just clear that I couldn’t wait to be free of her.

+ I completed what I thought would be my last semester of grad school. Got a 4.0, but I burned some bridges along the way with the other girls in the program because I called them out for being lazy. Whatever.

+ I temped for a couple months, which doesn’t sound like a major life change, but it was kind of disruptive/disorienting because I was moving offices every couple weeks.

+ Alec and I split up after I helped him move into his new apartment in Virginia. I still remember just how horrible it felt when we both had to finally face the fact that we were saying goodbye. We’d spent the week goofing around and having fun, acting like everything was totally fine and enjoying each other’s company while it lasted. God, I can still feel how I wanted to die when I laid on the floor of our empty apartment with my animals, crying until the sun came up. I think I still haven’t really dealt with that.

+ I relocated to my parents one-room straw bale house in the boonies in Alabama without internet, cell reception, an indoor bathroom, or a kitchen. All of my stuff went into storage, so I was living out of a suitcase surrounded by all my parents’ stuff. My father was incredibly depressed, the worst I’ve ever seen him though the family said that he was worse before I moved home. Everything was wrong, everything was the reverse of what I had before. I didn’t give myself much time to adjust before getting a job in town and moving to southside, into my own place. I still haven’t adjusted to living alone. Sleeping at night is the hardest because I’m afraid of every noise.

+ I did some things that would destroy Alec if he ever found out. I do regret them, if I’m honest, but I can’t take them back and I understand why I did them. There’s no use dwelling on them. What’s done is done. I just hope for his sake that he never finds out, and if he does, I hope he has it in him to understand why I did it.

+ My old window unit poured water into my apartment because it wasn’t properly installed.

+ I tried to use my gas heater that is as old as the apartment (1920s maybe?) and Cleo and I both got sick from the gas fumes, so I demanded they give me an electric one, so they gave me a new combo window unit.  I was sick in bed when the guy came to install the new one, which was awkward. The new one came with a paper that explained how incredibly expensive and inefficient it was. I got a new water heater as well, which came with the same warning. So now my electric bill is way more than I can afford (over $100 each month).

+ Then the new unit blew the special outlet it’s plugged into because the guy didn’t install it properly, and I was without heat for three days (long enough for the inside temp to drop to the outside temp, which was pretty cold by alabama standards and for damn sure by my standards) while the maintenance guys were confused or busy or whatever. I was fucking miserable. they brought me space heaters to use while they were buying a new heater which then blew the breakers for the entire apartment.

+ I got sick. A lot. Either I drank too much and spent a day throwing up, or I had recurring (and consistently mis-diagnosed) strep or mono.

+ I had a serious anxiety-related heart palpitation and irregularity that was so bad sometimes it would keep me up when I was trying to sleep. Never got that fixed, though we did rule out it being a physical issue with my heart. It’s all mental/emotional.

+ I totalled the truck (it was a minor fender bender, for the record. the truck was just a piece of shit that needed hardly a lovetap to total it.) which my parents had spent thousands of dollars on to get running for me. They used the ridiculous about of insurance money they got for it to buy a newer car, so there’s definitely a silver lining to that, but I did feel like an asshole.

+ the vet told me that Cleo was basically dying of three different, untreatable things.

+ I racked up about $1,000 in health care bills, including when I didn’t have health insurance. I get sick about every 4-6 weeks.

+ I got the flu and was sick for two weeks. I missed three days of work which has never ever happened.

+ I’ve gotten rejected from every PhD program I’ve heard back from.

+ I didn’t even place in the UAB Research Day competition. I lost to people whose presentations were definitely not as good as mine. That’s me being objective, I promise.

+ I wasn’t even granted an interview for the Curatorial Assistant job at the BMA, so I will definitely be leaving in May.

+ Finally went to see an ENT about my recurring tonsillitis. They strongly recommended I get a tonsillectomy  which my insurance company denied. I went back to see what treatment options I have, and basically they said I’m going to keep getting sick and there’s not much they can do. My insurance runs out in May as well, so that’s something I’m going to have to either worry a lot about or develop a plan for.

+ I’ve applied to 9 jobs since January. Haven’t heard back from a single one.

+ I broke up with Mark, a good man who absolutely loves me. I hurt him like I hurt Alec. It feels unnecessary and cruel, but more on that later.

+ I took a class with a specific teacher (who I didn’t like and who didn’t like me when I first transferred to UAB. she wouldn’t let me into her class. bitch.) at UA because I have to have someone from UA sit on my thesis committee due to the stipulations of the joint Master’s program between the two campuses. Today she told me she couldn’t/wouldn’t sit on my thesis committee, which means 1. I could have taken a class with a less bitchy teacher that I actually might have been interested in, and 2. now I have to ask some random teacher who doesn’t know me and who I don’t know to sit on my thesis committee.

So that’s where I am. That’s not to say that some good things didn’t happen (totaling the truck ended up being a good thing because it needed to die; UAB accepted me into their MA program and bent over backwards for me to be able to graduate on time; I got the job at the BMA that I have now and they love me so much they extended my contract twice; I got to present at both Research Day and the graduate Art History symposium; Mark and I got together, finally and after much resistance; the fatty and cleo are still alive and kicking; I’ve got a good, though small, set of friends; and most importantly, my dad is finally on medication that works so he’s no longer severely, suicidally depressed!). It just feels right now that all the bad things are piling up, and the ones that I didn’t deal with emotionally are weighing heavier each day, only adding to the immense weight I feel already from my serious concerns about my future, both immediate and distant.

In the short term, I have *got* to focus on school. My german exam is in three weeks. I have got to pass it or I won’t be able to take my comps, which means I won’t get to graduate until December instead of this summer. Fuck. That. Shit. I also need to study for my comps (which I’ve been doing! started this week.) so that I will actually be able to pass them, assuming I pass the German exam, which I have to pass before I’m allowed to take them. My thesis is temporarily on the backburner so I can focus on my exams, but it can’t stay there for too long since I am supposed to be writing my thesis already. I also can’t forget about the class I’m taking in Tuscaloosa, because I still have to write a seminar paper for it and take a final exam in April.

I also need to focus on jobs. I’m still checking for job postings that might interest me, but I need to keep writing and sending out applications as well. I gave my resume and one of my cover letters to my boss, so hopefully I’ll be getting some feedback from her about that soon. I’m holding off applying to anymore jobs until after I hear back from her.

That doesn’t sound like a lot when I spell it all out, but it feels like a lot of stressful stuff when I’m not blogging about it. Getting rejections from PhD programs has really been painful, especially since this is my second time applying. My mentality now is just focusing on getting a good job somewhere that I’ll want to live. Focusing on a job helps me to not dwell on my PhD rejections and why I wasn’t good enough *again*. Focus on the future, focus on the attainable. Try not to have a breakdown.

I broke up with Mark for a number of reasons. He’s a big distraction from school and the job search. He doesn’t mean to be, but I’m constantly talking to him when I’m not with him, and when we’re together, I can’t do anything productive. I also tend to shut down a lot when I’m stressed out, and I don’t want to be touched or bothered, so I was getting irritated being around him because he wanted to be my boyfriend and all I wanted was to be alone. It’s hard to explain that to someone without hurting them, and I’m so stressed out, I don’t think my words come out particularly delicately. He seems to be very much in love with me, which stresses me out more because I feel guilty for not loving him back and I worry that I may never love him, or love anyone again. I’m worried I’ll never be happy, and I guess having someone who is happy with me only further emphasizes to me how bad and anxious I feel about my own unhappiness.

I need to keep my mind clear right now since I have so much I need to pack into it, exam-wise, and I need to make decisions for ME, not for “us.” I’m so young, I really need to focus on myself right now. It’s a totally selfish thing to say, but this is an important year as far as decision-making goes, especially as it becomes increasingly clear that I won’t be staying in Birmingham and won’t be going on to PhD. I need a clear head so I can make the best, most logical and beneficial decision about where I should go and what I should be doing. I also need to reevaluate my long-term goals, as they seem increasingly unlikely. I need time alone to do that, and Mark doesn’t really give me time alone, not because he doesn’t want to try to, but because that’s not how people in love do things.

I can be fairly reclusive when I’m under a lot of pressure, so I understand why ending things with him was the best thing for both of us. For me, that means that I am guaranteed a whole lot of alone time, all the alone time I could want. I don’t have to feel guilty for not seeing him now, or for not wanting to talk to him so I can focus on my studies. I don’t have to feel guilty for not wanting to be touched or for being bitchy for seemingly no reason. I don’t have to feel guilty for neglecting my studies to be with him, because being with him made me happy. For him, that means that he doesn’t have to worry constantly that I’m pushing him away or that I’m acting weird. He doesn’t have to question if I want to be with him. We both have clear cut roles now. No confusion. It’s incredibly painful and I often feel the same twinge of regret or doubt that I felt when I broke up with Alec, but my logic brain says I am absolutely doing the right thing for myself right now, so I’m gritting my teeth and pushing onward. It’s funny how in denial I am about crying. I feel like if I let myself really cry, that I’ll completely lose my shit and have a legit breakdown. Instead, I just grit my teeth and deny deny deny any feelings or thoughts that cause emotional pain. I even deny deny deny when the tears are rolling down my cheeks, because it’s so much easier to stop crying when I don’t admit to myself that I’m having a physical reaction to my emotional distress. I’ve cried almost ten times today, but I keep repeating “stay strong and carry on” to myself over and over until I stop.

I’m just trying to get to May. If I can just keep it together until May, everything else will sort itself out. Maybe after I get through my exams, my PhD rejections, my job concerns, and my last semester of coursework, I’ll have a clear plan and an open heart. I can’t know how I’m going to feel when this is all over. I can’t know what I’ll end up wanting, or who I’ll want to be with. I can’t know those things months in advance, and I won’t try to. For now, I’m just trying to get through one day at a time, keeping my head down and fixating on May.

Stay strong and carry on. Just two more months.

Warning Signs

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Warning signs of a breakdown: crying uncontrollably on the bathroom floor. check.

The cracks are definitely beginning to show around the edges. There’s a good chance I took on way too much this semester, on top of my health problems (heart palpitations, abnormal test results requiring a biopsy of my lady parts, recurring tonsillitis; all are minor, but all are adding extra stress on top of stress) and my grief for the life that I gave up, the man that I gave up, the city that I gave up, the death of my Great Gran. The last few years have been incredibly taxing and I don’t think I’ve ever really let myself emotionally deal with all the major events I’ve gone through.

I’ll die before I give up anything else, but I do worry about the strain I’m putting myself under and the toll my mental and physical health are taking. I keep telling myself to put on my big girl pants and man up, stop crying, take control. Other people have accomplished far more, gone through much worse, and done it all with grace and little whining. I’m just trying not to throw up most days. I just have to keep it together for a little while longer. Having a mental breakdown would really fuck things up.

Sometimes You Just Can’t Win

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Man, I’m tired. It’s 8pm on a Tuesday and I’m ready to go to bed, but I’ve only managed to check off one thing off my three-thing to-do list. I tried to keep it short because I thought that would seem more achievable, which would lead to me accomplishing more based off the theory that the more I accomplish, the happier and more motivated I feel to do more. I do feel good about doing one thing, but now I just want to go to bed.

March has been a month of losses so far. More rejection letters from PhD, I didn’t even place in the UAB Research Day competition, and I was turned down for my last hope of staying at the museum — a Curatorial Assistant Receptionist job. I expected rejection letters, but the people that I lost to at Research Day… I just don’t get it. I can definitely admit when someone’s paper is better than mine, and these people’s weren’t. Ah well. It’s over. As for the museum, they wouldn’t even interview me. Not sure what that’s about, but I’m sure it was for the best since Alexa would never be satisfied as a receptionist. I could try and keep my current job, which is part-time, and get another part-time job but that’s my absolute last resort. If I’m not going to PhD, I’d at the very least like to make some damn money. Working two part-time jobs just sounds miserable. But I won’t rule it out at this point.

I also got sick again this weekend so I went back to the ENT. They took a throat swab to do a culture, not for strep specifically but just to “see what will grow” in an effort to understand exactly what kind of infection I have. It doesn’t matter a whole lot, I think, because they said I’m still going to keep getting sick due to the infection being so deep in my tonsils where the antibiotics can’t go. But if we know what kind of infection I have then we can narrow down what antibiotics will be most effective since some strains of bacteria are resistent to certain medicines. I’ve also been walking around with a fever most days, so that’s really fun, and probably really good for my productivity and accuracy.

I had a moment today while driving back from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to go to work for a whole hour and a half before heading to yet another doctor’s appointment, where I just felt done. I want a simple life for once. I just want a year where I do what I want, and where I do everything just for me. I want to stop being a slave to my resume. I want to move someplace new, settle into a new job, and not do anything else. I’m going to go on a facebook hiatus again, I think. It’s good, every now and then, to take a break from the grid. I’ll enjoy the time to myself. I’ll read at bedtime, I’ll take my dog on extra walks, I’ll draw and paint again. Hopefully I’ll have a porch so I can sit outside with a cup of tea and listen to the birds. I just want a different life than the one I’ve been living.

The feeling of freedom when Alec and I officially broke up was overwhelming. I remember moving back to Alabama thinking that I could do whatever I wanted, that the world was mine. I want to feel that again, to feel that hope about the future, that confidence in myself, and that ultimate freedom to go wherever I wanted to do whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to justify anything to anyone or worry about anyone else’s happiness. It was all me.

There’s definitely a certain level of anxiety that comes with that freedom. I have to do everything on my own, or figure out how to do it on my own, whether it be getting my medicine when I’m sick or moving furniture in my apartment. Living alone has been a challenge due to my concrete knowledge of my own vulnerability and weakness. Perhaps when I have the spare time I’ll take a self-defense class. And maybe buy a tazer.

I acknowledge that this may just be my brain reacting to the stress it’s buckling under and that in a week or a month’s time I may feel very differently once I’m in the clear of the biggest hurdles I have to get through. I don’t know. I’m just saying that today, in that car, going 80 mph down the open road, I felt like I wanted to be free again, to be on my own. I’m so young. I feel older sometimes, or like I’m out of time, but I’m honestly still so young. I’ve got plenty of time to get a PhD or be close to home or have an established set of friends. I’m young and this is the best possible time in my life to really get out there and enjoy the freedoms that come with youth. You never know when those doors will start shutting, when the ties that bind you to certain people or places will become concrete. This is my chance to be free before people get too close, before my family gets too used to me being around, before I get too comfortable with the familiar. There will be time for all that, but that time isn’t now.

Update: More Bad News

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Bad news first, right? 

My insurance company denied my tonsillectomy because I can’t prove that my recurring illness isn’t a pre-existing condition. I’ve been advised not to take no for an answer by friends and family but the simple truth of the matter is that I don’t have time right now to harass the insurance company. So, tonsillectomy is on the back-burner for now unless I continue to get sick, in which case, I’ll have to put it on a front burner where things boil instead of simmer.

I got an appointment with the GYN for further testing to do a biopsy, but the earliest appointment I could get is the last week of March. So that’s nice. 

My boss at work told me that there’s pretty much no chance of my position becoming full-time. She said it’s not that she doesn’t want me full-time, it’s just that there aren’t funds to afford it. So there’s that. She’s sending me job postings as she sees them and is keeping her ears open for any word-of-mouth opportunities, but for the most part, it seems that my career at the BMA is over in May when my contract expires. Even if the position itself continues, I won’t be able to stay in it because I need a full-time job the second I’m done with my Master’s exams. 

Still haven’t heard anything from any of the job applications I’ve sent in. Haven’t heard from any other schools besides the resounding “No thanks” of Northwestern and Boston U. Giving up the PhD dream for now since the realist in me says I need to let it go. It’s not going to happen unless I settle for something I know I won’t be satisfied with. That’s a tough life lesson to try to swallow, but I’m doing my best. My immediate concern isn’t so  much what I’m going to do in the coming years, but how to stay motivated in my Master’s program. I’ve been incredibly lazy and uncaring out of an overload of stress combined with a likely correct guess that I won’t be getting into any PhD programs. What’s the point, right? That keeps going through my mind. But whenever things get tough, I’m pretty good about gritting my teeth and pushing forward even if it seems pointless. I went down this path for a reason, dammit, and it’s going to make later obstacles easier to cross so I need to try my best to stick with it. 

I presented a paper last week at a competition that was open to all graduate students. The results of that competition will be posted this Friday, when I’ll, coincidentally, be presenting a longer version of that paper at a symposium in Tuscaloosa. It’s all good for the resume, but I’m trying not to think too much on it. If I win any money, I’ll probably put it in savings. The Friday symposium will end up being a long day, as the program starts at 10:00am and goes until after 4:00pm. That’s a lot of presentations. I’m going after lunch, which may mean that people will be tuckered out by then. That’s fine by me. 10 minutes of Q&A seems like a lot of time to fill as it is. 

I finally got in touch with the [only] German professor at UAB, who I am meeting with on Thursday to discuss the dreaded German language proficiency exam. No, I haven’t started studying. I really took too much on this semester, I think, but it’s too late in the game to try to drop anything or push anything back. I’m just going to have to go for it and hope it’s easier than GW’s language exam. Certainly the teacher will be an easier grader in comparison to the prof who graded my German exam at GW. Anyway, at least I’ll have locked in a date for that. 

I’ve got a midterm tomorrow in the only class I’m taking this semester. Once I get my grade back and assuming I do well on the exam, I’ll ask the professor if she will sit on my thesis committee. I should have asked her weeks ago, but I didn’t. I will though. Soon, soon. I don’t see much hurry as I’m sure she already has her summer travel plans booked by now, if she has plans to travel at all. My thesis proposal is in decent shape as well, though my advisor hasn’t had a chance to go through it with a red-tipped pen. I feel good having it written. That’s always Step 1. 

Still haven’t started prepping for my comprehensive exams, but in true Alexa fashion, I’m just trying to get through my immediate to-dos and I’ll worry about the ones that are still months away in the weeks to come. 

My 25th birthday is coming up as well. I feel like I should do something to mark it, something special, since it is kind of a milestone. With all my free time to think about it, of course… maybe just a picnic in the gardens. I don’t know. Plenty of time to not think about it at all! Weeks away. So much to do before April, it blows my mind. My brain is so tired, I sure hope I can push myself through this stage of my schooling. 

Where Am I?

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