"Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous." ~Anais Nin

31 December 2015

Goals for 2016

By Eric Kilby, Exploding Flower Bed. via Wikimedia Commons

It's New Year's Eve, a time many people traditionally spend getting wasted and making promises to themselves they don't really intend to keep.  Usually involving weight loss.  I, myself, have been guilty of this in the past.  Well, not the getting wasted part.  Not in years and years and years anyway. This year I'm trying something different.

This year my resolutions are simpler, mere goals, really, and mostly to continue what I've already begun:

  1. To continue Poetry Wednesdays—and write and publish at least one poem here on this blog every Wednesday.
  2. To restart start Fiction Friday—in which I publish a short story here on this blog the final Friday of every month. (I even have some stories started).
  3. To finish my bedroom.
  4. To follow my own studies.
  5. To regularly update my other blogs.
This is not to say that I don't have goals that I don't expect to meet.  They follow:
  1. To find a full time job—if I've been taught anything in these last 3 years of searching, I've been taught that I'm practically unhireable, but I'll keep trying.  I do need to support myself after all.
  2. To get on a regular sleep schedule—yeah, this probably isn't happening, but I'm going to try anyway.  I'll try to get to bed no later than midnight (unless something interesting is going on) and awaken no later than 9am.  If I find a job it'll be easier since I'll likely have to be at work before 9 anyway.
  3. To regulate my eating schedule—right now I eat at very odd times: at 3pm I have my big meal, then I eat again, though less, at 9pm and 11pm.  I'd like not to eat so late at night, but I suppose that all depends on the rest of my day's schedule. . . 
So, that's it.  My plans thus far for next year.

30 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #22

For my niece, Mila Simone

There are stories in your eyes

There are stories in your eyes—
Ten thousand tales you've yet to tell.
What they are is a surprise,
I think I'll listen for a spell.

There are songs within your heart—
Ten thousand tunes you've yet to sing.
I'll be there when they depart
And you make your voice ring.

There are dances in your feet—
Ten thousand steps you've yet to spin.
You will move to your own beat,
And I'll be there when you begin.

There are worlds for you to see—
Ten thousand things for you to learn
As you grow to who you'll be,
And I watch with proud concern.

24 December 2015

I am so very, very poor now

Antheraea Polyphemus via Wikipedia
It's only recently that I have come to fully understand how very poor I am right now.  I'm so far past broke that I'm just hemorrhaging money.  Seriously, it's bad.  The library pays me once a month, and I clear about $700 after taxes.  $270 of is allocated for my car payment, I need at least $50 for gas, $90 for health insurance, and $70 for my and my mothers cell phones (the only form of rent I'm currently paying).  That leaves $220 every month for discretionary spending, EXCEPT that I'm carrying a balance on my credit card, which is in excess of $1500, and needs to be paid off; unfortunately, I will soon be adding to it with a $490 charge to pay my next six months of car insurance.  That's not even counting my ridiculous student loan debt.

I am fairly screwed.  My life is a big, gods-damned mess.  Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you think of it), it's a mess of my own making.  I chose to leave the museum knowing that I'd be placed in these straits.  Well, I mostly chose.  And I mostly knew.  But knowing and living are different things entirely.

The thing is I did this to myself for myself.  I was miserable at the museum, and quickly burning myself out.  Check out the Occupational Burnout page on Wikipedia, I was exhibiting all the symptoms (phases), including suicidal ideation.  I'm not generally suicidal, nor, I think, am I generally quite so depressed, but death was looking more and more welcoming.  I needed to quit, for my own sanity, and because I was worth more than a part time job that didn't challenge or excite me.  I earned my Master's degree (my Bachelor's too, for that matter) so I wouldn't have to work such a job.  I put a lot of work into getting my degrees, and was so unhappy to not be using the skills for which I academically (and metaphorically) bled.  Plus, I needed to heal, to find myself again, and to regain my sense of equilibrium—which has been shaky for years, but disappeared entirely around 2013.

My situation can't last long.  There's no way I can tolerate being so very, very poor for very long.  Plus, I've been living on my parents largess for too long already.  I've thought about trying to sell some poems and stories, but I'd have to be an instant success for that to work out.  Don't get me wrong, that's still a part of my long-term plan, but right now I'd rather have a full time job with benefits.  If worse comes to worse, I will get another part time job, but that's the option of last resort.  I worry that if I go that route I'll just end up burning myself out again, and I don't EVER want to feel that way again.  I had a panic attack a few weeks ago when my mother first suggested it to me.  I think my psyche's come a long way to allow me to consider working two part time jobs again without  hyperventilating.  Also, have you noticed that this post is making a lot more sense than many of my older posts?  Or is that just in my mind?

I think I hit my lowest point some weeks back.  I refuse to fall any further.  I'm finally working on projects that I've had on my list for years.  For instance, I'm cleaning my room.  Actually, I'm preparing it for painting.  I have my colors picked out and everything.  I'm going to have to sand the crap out of my walls and trim, but not only am I doing it, but I'm on a deadline—one that I will more than meet.  Everything—the walls, the trim, the ceiling, the door, and the windows—will be finished by February!  I'm even thinking about replacing the door knob.  On February 19th, the dresser I bought will be delivered.  I've been living out of laundry baskets for years.  It's really sad.

I'm making other improvements to my life as well.  I have plans that are not all hopelessness and death.  I'm starting to eat healthier, though I've yet to break my sugar addiction.  I'm writing more and thinking about writing more, which just fills me with such joy.  I think in the upcoming year I will be able to keep my Fiction Friday commitment here.  You will recall that Fiction Friday is a feature on this blog where I post one original short story here on the last Friday of the month.  I've got four or five stories in the works right now, three of which I'm planning to make part of two series.  I'm losing weight, hope to lose more, and gaining physical strength.

After New Year's, I will start applying for jobs again.  I'm taking the month of December off, and maybe the first week or so of January.  I'd like to get my room completely prepped for painting first, and there's so much family stuff going on between now and January.

All in all, I feel like I can breathe again.  It's nice, and being temporarily very, very poor is, I think, a fair payment for this much needed healing.  I've got a ways to go still.  I still have spells of meanness that show up at awkward times—like when I'm trying to socialize.  I used to be able to tell funny stories that were actually funny, right now though . . . Ugh.  I think I insulted one of my cousin's friends at her Christmas party.  Didn't mean to, it's just—sometimes, especially lately, what I want to say comes out jumbled and angry rather than light and humorous.  So, obviously, I still have some anger I need to release.  More for me to work on.

Still, I am not without hope!  Which I couldn't have said two months ago.

23 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #21

This is another old poem.  The structure of which came from, I think, a Jack Prelutsky Halloween collection . . . And maybe the first line . . . Also, I cleaned it up a bit. ~Amber

I'm Rescued Nightly by a Wicked Black Cat

A cat as black as midnight coal
Is now upon her nightly stroll,
She runs and runs without a care–
Is that a shadow on the stair?
She jumps!  She bumps!
She knocks down books!
She gives her human dirty looks.
Toes are monsters, which she attacks.
Mercy is a thing she lacks.
She fights!  She Bites!
She brings much pain!
The toes, they try to hide in vain.
Her human gives a dreadful cry!
The cat's afraid the girl may die.
She yowls!  She howls!
She attacks again!
Will this battle never end?
The toes finally give up the fight,
But they may return another night.
She sleeps and sleeps,
She dreams of battle
'Til she's wakened by her human's prattle.
She thinks, "Human, you have no clue.
You should be glad I rescued you!"

16 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #20

I was cleaning up my room the other day, and found a stack of papers.  Most of it was trash, but this weeks poem was there, buried between years-old notes and other such nonsense.  I wrote this when I was 15, right after we moved from the city in one state to the suburbs in another.  It's not bad, there are some things I'd change or "fix," but I don't cringe when reading it–unlike most of the other poetry I wrote at 15–so I'll reproduce it here faithfully.  You may end up seeing a rewrite eventually.  Oh, and I think there's a picture of the house on my parents computer, if I remember I'll edit this post to add it.  ~Amber

The House On Karnes BLVD

The ancient face
            is closed and silent now
     old stucco skin
and a hat of shingles
are shaded under an umbrella of leaves and branches

Just behind the wall of trees
            besides the weird
a constant river of cars flows
            dams itself
flows again
the babble of this dangerous brook
is deafening
                                                        at times
a lullaby
                                                        at others

I remember the house
            I remember it's indifferent stare
as I walked to the car never to return
                        in my mind it is empty
though a new family is in
                                     it's grasp
      laughing and playing
                          listening to the cars drive by
just out of sight

Just out of sight
                        not out of mind

14 December 2015

Passion (a.k.a. Joss Whedon is God)

It lies in all of us,
And though, unwanted,
it will stir,
open it's jaws,
and howl.

It speaks to us,
guides us.
Passion rules us all.
And we obey.
What other choice do we have?

Passion is the source of our finest moments:
the joy of love,
the clarity of hatred,
and the ecstasy of grief.

It hurts sometimes more than we can bear.

If we could live without passion,
maybe we'd know some kind of peace,
by we would be hollow:
empty rooms,
shuttered and dank.

Without passion,
we'd be truly dead."
        from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 2, episode 17

Am I a big nerd or what?  Whedon's words as poetry.  Yay! 

10 December 2015


To find balance and harmony in my life, I need to unlearn the lessons that almost destroyed me.

I recently realized that there is so much that I need to unlearn.  Many of the lessons I've been taught are so much bullshit.  As I've had time recently to really pay attention to my life, I've noticed how much I don't actually hate it.  A bit of an epiphany, right?  But for a while, when I thought of myself and my life I felt a genuine disgust -- contempt mixed with panic that nothing would change, that I would remain the way I was - contemptible - for the remainder of my life.  I got to thinking about how I learned I was contemptible, where that knowledge came from, and realized that it was the accumulation of a thousand thousand messages received in a thousand thousand ways.  A lot of it, though, came from working retail.  Especially working retail as an adult (read: above "average" college age).  Stepping away from retail has shown me the damage that it's done.  As I clean the bloody wound that is my life, I'm forced to unlearn the destructive habits that I've picked up.

Getting away from a bad job can be like breaking up with an abusive boyfriend.  It's hard.  It's not a perfect metaphor [simile], but it works pretty well.  The abuse builds up: one small indignity after another, coupled with a fear of retribution and a loss of power, and we're reliant on that job - most of us living paycheck to paycheck.  There are completely arbitrary rules usually, and sometimes mind
See what I did there?
games that no power in the 'verse can convince me aren't a deliberate attempt to break your spirit.  But you can't act broken, oh no, you are expected to be happy and available at all times.

One of the worst managers I ever had delighted in changing the schedule on an almost daily basis.  One time I was given two days off in a row, let's say Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Tuesday she changed the schedule and put me on on Wednesday.  I, of course, had no idea since I was off work at the time of the schedule change.  I came in on Thursday and was written up as a "no call, no show" and told that I need to check the schedule every single day regardless of whether I'm scheduled to work that day or not.  Another manager used to schedule employees to close one night and open the next morning.  So we were expected to work until midnight (at least), then come in the next day at seven or eight depending on the department we were working that day.  I don't know about you, but it takes me a couple of hours to wind down enough from work to sleep.  I worked a job, briefly, where everything I said to a customer had to come from a script.  If a customer asked me something that required me to go off script I had to call someone else to deal with it.  That was a hardware store, and, for a little background, I had six years previous experience in another hardware store in a different town.  I was written up three times in one day there: once, when a customer asked a question about the wood screws he was purchasing and I answered because I knew the answer, and twice for saying a variation of "Thank you for shopping at [hardware store], have a nice day," rather than that exact statement.  It gets really, really old saying the same thing over and over again.

It's not everyone.  It's not every job.  It's not even always at the same job, you know?  The two managers mentioned first above were both at the same store, and I consider that job one of the best I've had.  After, of course, the first manager left, and before the second transferred in.  Years went by when it was pretty great: there was camaraderie among the staff, I had some agency, the job required me to use my brain, it was interesting, and was something I was passionate about.  For the most part I could blow off crappy customers, or the occasional weird hours.  The good managers were great, the best were astounding.  They made sure I was given one weekend evening off, and that my work schedule worked around my school schedule.  There was humor and encouragement, and I was engaged because the work was interesting and they didn't try to force me to be engaged.

Even then, there were still issues.  I was afraid to call in sick.  I worked for months in excruciating pain any time I moved my left arm more than a few inches away from my body (I had a rotator cuff impingement bad enough to warp my collarbone).  Because I worked a lot of evenings, and those that I didn't I usually had school assignments to work on, I didn't have time for my friends so I stopped socializing.  I only really have two friends left; one, really, if you don't count the one that moved 3.5 hours away.  Also, it was retail, so I made very little money and was constantly broke.  And I didn't even mention the customers that treat you like trash because they can.  There was this one guy who used to come into the store I worked at every week or so, and I swear to all the gods there are that it was his goal to make at least one employee cry (usually whoever was working the registers) before he left.  He owns a shoe store near my house, and even though I haven't had to deal with him in literally years I still fantasize about dropping in his store and screaming at him for a good twenty minutes or so just like he used to do to me and my coworkers.

This post was not meant to be about work or lousy jobs.  I just wanted to make a point about destructive learned habits, the dangers of emotional labor, and what led to my massive case of burnout.  And, boy, was my burnout bad.  It was I'm-only-half-joking-about-suicide bad.  "I know I can't do it if my mom's still alive - it'd break her heart - but, maybe, once she's dead, if things are still the way they are" bad.  All this was cumulative, collected over sixteen years of working retail.  Little things add up more and more, and all of a sudden you're worthless, some barely human thing not deserving of anything better.  It doesn't matter that you did all this, smiled at every slight for years, just so you could go on to something better, more engaging.  If you can't engage with your minimum wage job that puts you in a box alone and tells you to smile and say "yes" to every demand given you by a stranger who thinks you less than the dirt on his shoe, then you don't deserve anything better.

It's that attitude I need to unlearn.  That I am unlearning now.  I'm worth more than that box.  I need to relearn how to take care of myself, because I haven't in years.  I need to relearn how to write, because I love it, and I used to be able to get a good rough draft of a short story out in a couple of hours and now it takes me days to write a paragraph.  I need to relearn how to do things for pleasure.  I need to unlearn how to "smile" and relearn how to have genuine emotions.  The poetry thing that I've been doing every Wednesday is a start, but there's so much more to do.  Now, working only one job, part time though it may be, and as broke as I am, is the first time I've felt all this might be possible in a long, long time.  I'm heading towards balance, and feeling good about it.

09 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #19

"Into Darkness" by Jarle Refines via Flickr

Stumbling Darkness

Stumbling darkness
Troubling times 
What losses matter
In all of the grime
Death is a beauty
Violence more so
We can just ignore
What we don't know
Ignorance is Power
Power is Bliss
Is there an end to
This damned abyss

02 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #18

Can you believe I took this picture with my phone?


Ice coating branches
After days and nights of cold
Stark beauty arrives

Winter's first signal
A warning of what's to come
The long sleep - then spring

It's sweater weather
Smells of cinnamon and cloves
Dreams of a warm hearth

Reflective evenings
Accompany chill, dark days
Twilight swallows time