"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

12 July 2017

Heat

by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I do not like the summertime.  No, that's not precisely true.  I like the green and growing things, fireflies, the sounds of crickets that sneak through my window at night.  I like seeing the birds that gather in my neighborhood, the squirrels, the foxes, and other wildlife that venture into my suburban neighborhood (truth, they do that in all seasons).  I like the fruit and vegetables, garden-grown, which are much easier to access and that actually taste like something.  I like most of the aspects of the summertime.

I don't like the heat.

The last two days it's hit triple digits here on the eastern end of Kansas.  It was 101ºF (or 38ºC) today.  One-Hundred-and-Freaking-One Degrees Fahrenheit!  So early in the summer too.  This does not bode well for August, that's for damn sure.

It's exhausting, this heat.  And here it comes with a humidity that seems to suck the moisture from your bones and throw it in the air.  It's hard to breathe.  It's hard to move.  It's hard to think.

I don't do well in such heat, and long for the summers of my youth when 90ºF seemed stifling.  I would not want to live anywhere hotter.  And feel sorry for those that do.

Air conditioning helps, but in some ways it makes it worse too.  The house smells . . . different.  We can't open up the windows and air it out.  Of course, we don't do that much anyway.  My father hates nature and can't tolerate anything that reminds him of it, even a gentle breeze.  I know, it's weird, but what do you expect from a man who hates music?  He worships the television, though.

It's strange here in the summertime.  The air is wet, it's like walking through soup, but the ground is dry and cracking.  If I had a garden maybe it'd be better.  I'd have a reason to water on the regular, and mulch to keep the soil from drying out too much.  Maybe next year.  I need to start it soon.  Sooner than soon.

In other news:

Another disappointment on the job front.  It's farcical at this point, really.  Now I'm hearing things like, "You haven't had a full time job in years!" as reasons for the joylessness of my search.  Well, yeah, because no one will freaking hire me!!!  Whatever.  I'll try again tomorrow.  As always.

I've been negligent in my correspondences.  A letter writer by nature and preference, I've fallen behind and have lost a letter I began to my best friend weeks ago.  Sorry, Leanne!  I'll catch up.  I promise.

My allergy pills are useless this summer.  That could be because allergens are more prolific, or the St. John's Wort I take to manage my depression is interfering with them (which is one of the side effects of St. John's Wort), or simply because I've been taking them too long (which is one of the side effects of being me).  Whatever, I'll deal.  At this point my mental health is more important to me than my physical comfort, so there's no way I'll stop the herbal help right now.  OF COURSE it could be that my allergies aren't all that worse at all, but I've had a sinus infection.  After the horrible experience I had last week, literally not being able to breathe through my nose, and having the inside of my face feel incredibly, painfully swollen, I'm guessing it's the latter.  It's cleared up–for now–but I'm determined to succeed in quitting smoking to better my chancing of avoiding such a feeling in the future.  Wish me luck!

Except for the few days in which I could barely breath—seriously, it was awful—I've started meditating daily.  It's nice.  It's something I need to keep up.  I have to be very careful because I have a tendency to lose interest in things, or get distracted, or get frustrated and just give up.  Which is probably why I have at least a dozen novels in various stages of completion, but none–not one!–even close to being done.  I've got to change that, get better, focus.  Hoping regular meditation will help.  Plus it just takes the edge off life.

'Bye for now!

04 July 2017

Toil and Trouble

By cjohnson7 from Rochester, Minnesota (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I suppose it would be appropriate, since it is July 4th, to talk about my country, but I am so thoroughly freaked out by the politics and the malignant nationalism (read: white nationalism) that I find I don't have much to say.  I don't understand the attitudes of people who don't believe in a living minimum wage, or health care for all, or rights for anyone who is not a rich, white, cisgendered, heterosexual, Christian man.  Those people scare me.  They scare me more than anything.  And they especially scare me because so many of them have power—as in actual governmental power.  Nor do I understand the folk that voted these fuckbuckets into that power.  The lies they must tell themselves.

So though it is the 4th, I will not talk about how much I love my country, because I cannot.  I am both disappointed in and frightened of (and for!) my country at this time, and, at this time, I'm not sure my feelings will ever be repaired.

Instead, I think I'll simply go on talking about myself and my life.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

Actually, things are not that bad.  I mean, yeah, things are objectively horrible, but I'm in a pretty good place right now.  I'm now been taking St. John's Wort for three months, and I can feel a marked change in my outlook and my ability to handle problems.  This is good, because I keep having problems (e.g. my phone horribleness last week, and my continued inability to get a job).  Whereas before the St. John's Wort I'd be a panicked wreck for at least a week after having to buy a new phone, with it I just bought the damn phone and adjusted my budget for the coming months.  And, yes, I do mean months.  It'll take me at least two months to absorb the cost and get back to normal, even with the extra hours I was lucky enough to be offered for the month of July.  Oh, well.

Also, I'm now able to do more than one thing a day.  Huzzah!

However, I'm now noticing all the things I've left undone for the last decade or so.  I don't know how much is just gone, ruined beyond repair by my neglect, but I'm hoping to save a lot of it.  Now, I'm not talking material possessions here–though there is some of that too–but the more ephemeral connections, strengths, and skills.  I'm having to relearn things I once knew, things that once came naturally to me.  It's frustrating work, made more difficult because I'm still struggling in literally every other aspect of my life.

It's terrible hard work rebuilding when you don't have solid ground to build on, you know?  My life is so unstable still, but I have to do something.  I have to try to build, to create some semblance of life.  I can't just sit around waiting to die, but it seems that I've forgotten how to move.  Mostly, I'm trying to focus on finding my way out of this hole I've dug myself.  It's easier now, and I'm thanking the St. John's Wort for that, but it's still hard.  I can't allow myself to think of the dreams I used to have which are lost now.  That's still enough to break me.

On a positive note, I had a job interview last week.  I couldn't say how it went.  I'll be very disappointed if I don't get this job, though.  It's in my field, and something I could very much enjoy.  I find I have to stop myself from saying, "I doubt I'll get this job."  Which I suppose is a bad sign.  But when in the last 6 (SIX!!!) years have I had luck with jobs?   I'm afraid that if I allow my hopes to rise and I don't get the job I'll be crushed.  However, I know that if I remain pessimistic and am offered the job I'll be pleasantly surprised.  I would so much rather be pleasantly surprised.

25 June 2017

Incommunicado

By Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo Universidad de Sevilla [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia
My phone is broken.  Like, broken broken.  I'm not even able to turn it on.  I have a new phone on order, but I likely be without phone service for about a week.  This wouldn't be such a big deal, except I have something like a dozen active resumés and job applications out there.  Not that I think I'll get a call from one of the offices or libraries to which I've applied—history has shown otherwise—but it could happen!  So:

ACK!  ACK ACK ACK!!!!!

It's no big deal.  It's a very big deal.  Well, it's highly inconvenient at any rate.  And I didn't need the added expense.  Seriously, I just got my credit card down to a manageable amount, and have been fantasizing about paying it off entirely within the coming month.  AND I have taxes on my car due shortly.  AND insurance.

Oh, how I wish that my phone could have held out a little longer!

It's fine.  I'm fine.  I'm annoyed, but I'm fine.

I was a late adopter of cell phones—let alone smart phones—I can go without for a bit.  It's still surprising how much I rely on the damn thing for everyday life.  It keeps my schedule, my contacts, my passwords, my life!  Now I have to go back to the way things were before I broke down and got the damn thing in the first place—relying on my memory!  Or my paper planner and address book.  Whichever.

Maybe this is a good thing.  Maybe I can use this time to break at least part of my addiction to technology.  I've actually been thinking about getting rid of my phone for a while now.  Not seriously, of course.  Just in that way we think of the mythological simpler past, you know.  I don't particularly like my life being dictated by technological connectivity after all, but must needs and all that.

So for the next week I'll be living life like it's the year 2010.  I've got my eReader, my car, and my computer to meet my tech needs, and my parents landline if anyone needs to get a hold of me.  Yikes!  Wish me luck.

09 June 2017

Time Running, Running Time

by Sandstein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Time is a funny thing.  It ties us up, swirls around us, and moves constantly on, on, ever on and back. We can't escape it—to do so we would cease to be as we are.  We would cease to be.  Keeps us spinning, time does.  Spinning round and round and round.  Constantly moving, trying to escape the past, the future, our inevitable deaths.  Perhaps just trying to escape.  Time also finds us trying desperately to hold on to the past even when it would be healthier to let it go.  And trying desperately to grasp a future that may never be.  It pushes and pull us.  It tears us apart and brings us together.  It both heals and causes wounds.  Yeah, it's funny alright.  Funny and tragic and oh, so human.

Sometimes it feels like I've always been trying to escape.  What?  I couldn't say.  I don't really know.  There are a lot of things about myself I don't know.  A lot of things I'm not sure I ever knew, and maybe more that I've lost over the years.  Of course, there's also things that I know but I just can't access any longer.  And things that I know, but I can't admit.

How much of my life is time-locked?  How much of myself will I discover or rediscover in time?

Discovering and rediscovering myself is part of what I'm trying to do this year.  Figure out where I want to be and how to get there.  Figure out who I am and who I want to be and how to reconcile the two.  How much time will this take me?  How much of me will time take?  My whole life, is the likely answer to both those questions.

I suppose it's time to start working.

05 June 2017

Wonder and Possibilities

The Meeting of Oberon and Titania by Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I realized today that I one of the things that I've lost through the years—whether from depression or the cynicism that comes with age, I'll never know—is my sense of wonder.  That I used to be able to look out upon the world with both wonder and expectation is something of a surprise to me, as I feel as though I've always been the way I am now, you know?  But I remember, sometimes, the wonder and the awe that I once found.  I remember the feeling that anything was possible, everything was possible.  And then something happened and I lost it.

How did I let that happen?  How did I let my life dull?  How did I let my future become something that I wasn't looking forward to seeing?  I just don't understand how I got so lost . . .

It's time to reclaim that sense that I once had.  I'm not entirely certain how to do it, but I'm going to try.  I have to try, because, for me, with wonder comes both joy and possibilities, and I so desperately need both in my life right now.

So how do you find wonder?  I'm starting–as is appropriate for a librarian–with books.  This summer I'm going to reread my favorite books from my youth.  Books I haven't read in years.  Books that made me look at the world a little differently, and made me notice things that maybe I wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Books that changed my way of thinking about things.  Books that are filled with hope and joy and magic, at least for me.

Of course reading is not enough.  I'm going to have to do as well.  So, I'm going to explore things I haven't explored since before I wandered off to university and learned to dissect the things I loved and write about the process.  That means writing, drawing, Shakespeare, faery tales, dancing, hiking, people-watching, yoga, and music.  I was a fair hand with a violin until my last year of high school when I quit because I couldn't fit orchestra into my schedule.  I also used to draw and doodle.  And make up stories about people I saw on the street.  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  And while I have no violin and no way to afford it or the lessons I surely need now, I do have a penny whistle I bought on a lark about 10 years ago, and have been meaning to learn how to play.  Also expect more poetry to show up here, though probably not on so regular a basis as my Poetry Wednesdays from a while back.

I'm going to work on things like storytelling (that is: the telling of tales aloud), and languages (Irish and Mandarin), and make a concerted effort to be positive.  Maybe I'll take my queue from the Queen in Alice in Wonderland and try to believe in six impossible things before breakfast.  Mostly, though, I think I'll focus on what makes me happy, letting my sorrows wither from lack of attention.

I have to believe that life will work out for the best, and things happen for a reason.  I have to believe that my luck will change for the better.  I have to rediscover my dreams and find the path I abandoned for whatever reason so long ago.  To do otherwise would have me withering, and that I cannot tolerate.  I refuse to be crushed by mundanities.  I will find my wonder, my path, and I will live.  No more of this surviving crap, it's just not cutting it.

This is going to take a really long time, isn't it?  Crap.

31 May 2017

Of Rainbows, First Loves, Friends, and Broken Bottles

Mavrica [Rainbow] by Andrej Jakobčič, Julij 2004 via Wikimedia Commons 
From the summer 2000 to February 2002 I dated a boy who'd end up breaking my heart.  Well, him and literally all of my friends.  Actually, it there were a number of factors in the breakage of my heart which included loss of the boy, my abandonment by my friends, and the onset of massive and clinical depression.  It was a whole mess.

Anyway . . .

From the summer 2000 to February 2002 I dated a boy who'd end up breaking my heart, and I've been trying to tell this story ever since.  Tell it without judgement or recriminations.  Tell it and let it go.

I can't say for certain that it was love I felt for the boy.  This is something I've struggled with actually.  I can't say that it was love, because I'm honestly not sure it was.  I liked him a lot.  He was smart and fun and a fabulous lover.  And what I felt for him may have been something like love, but I'm not sure.  It certainly hurt when we broke up, and I don't think I've ever quite gotten over it, but I think I could have—would have if other factors hadn't interfered.  It definitely damaged my ego—I'd always been the one to end my relationships before—but is a bruised ego the same as a broken heart?

I don't think so.

To me our relationship was magical.  Or maybe it was just that that time of my life was magical.  I was newly clean.  I was having fun with someone who shared my interests.  I never thought too much into our future, mostly because he was up front with the fact that we didn't have a future.  That was fine with me.  In 2000 I was 19 and not looking to get married.  Plus, it was very clear that we had two different visions of our futures.  He wanted to move back to the big cities of the East Coast, and I had vague fantasies of small town living.  Too many people in one place makes me claustrophobic, and I wanted to live somewhere I could own acreage without spending millions of dollars.

I still believed that I could grow up to become a writer.  I'd write frequently, jotting down ideas for stories, outlining novels, creating characters I thought were interesting.  I should have paid more attention to myself, because, looking back, depression was already eating into my brain.  I always had some excuse for why I didn't pursue writing, why I didn't finish the story or start writing the novel: I was too green; I needed to learn more; I was too busy with school and work or whatnot.  I think already there was that voice inside my head whispering that I would fail, so why try?  It just wasn't nearly as loud as it is now.

I'm scrambling desperately to regain some of that belief now, and put it into practice.

So this boy and I spent most every weekend together for the better part of a year and a half.  It was nice.  He was friends with all of my friends.  My best friend had actually dated him for a while.  It didn't cause us any drama because she was the one who first suggested that we get together, he and I. She was right, too.  We got along famously.  Though it probably would have been best if I had broken up with my high school boyfriend before sleeping with the boy, but what are you going to do?  I broke up with the high school guy almost immediately thereafter, and that relationship had basically already ended anyway.  We just hadn't gone through with the formalities.

That first summer I would visit the boy in the house he'd rented with my best friend, two of her ex-boyfriends (not including the boy), one of their girlfriends, and this really hot former Army officer who was getting his teaching degree.  We'd sit out on the porch, the boy and I, and watch the storms pass through that midwestern college town.  If you've never seen the violence and the beauty of a midwestern thunderstorm, well, you're really missing something.  That first summer and fall was unusually stormy.  Following the storms were rainbows.  I don't think I've ever seen as many rainbows as I did while I was dating the boy.  I know that after we broke up, it was years before I saw another one.  More than a decade, really.  My eyes and my heart just weren't tuned to them, I guess.

I took the rainbows as a sign.  Of what, I couldn't say.  Or maybe I don't want to.  No, to me they were another bit of romance to top off my new and much better relationship, my new and much better self.  I was where I was meant to be at that moment.  I was happy and infatuated and, yeah, a little bit in love.  Why is that so hard for me to say?  

He took my rainbows from me when he left.  Or maybe I gave them to him.  I don't know.

There was a brief thunderstorm today that left a rainbow behind, long and fat and beautiful.  I stepped outside in time to see it in all its glory, and watch it as it faded.  I also saw the whisper of another bow above it.  That reminded me of this, and I knew that it was time to write it up and let it go.

The house didn't last long, just that first summer.  When autumn came, my friend went back to her dorm, and the boys moved into apartments off campus.  I helped the boy move, hauling boxes of books up stairs and into rooms.

Our whole relationship was lovely to me.  Until the end.  Which, I have to say, I saw coming.  He grew distant.  We talked less.  The sex was still good, not as kinky as it had been, but that was it.  He didn't degrade me or insult me, he just withdrew.  And I didn't know how to handle it.

I made myself smaller thinking that would help.  It certainly had with the other guys I'd dated.  They had enjoyed it being all about their wants and needs, which made it easier for me to leave.  It didn't work that way with the boy.  He simply continued withdrawing.  Ultimately, I think it made it easier for him to leave me, and harder for me to handle it.  Because somehow, this time, in making myself smaller I managed to lose some essential piece of myself in the process.

So that weekend in February 2002 I knew what was coming.  I knew it.  I just didn't expect it quite so soon.  I was actually hoping that we could last another couple of weeks since my birthday is in early March, and I was hoping for a present and a nice time at my party.  Didn't happen, of course, but that was my hope.

Saturday was what had become typical for us.  Small talk, fucking, sleep.  Inconsequential, average, a little bit awkward.  I was afraid that I was losing him.  I was right in that fear.  There was nothing I could do that would stop him.  Truth, that weekend was not very memorable.  Except for Sunday.  The day the boy told me he didn't want to be with me anymore.

We made love that morning.  It was slow and sweet and lingering.  His way of saying goodbye without words?  After, my body still warm with him, though we were both dressed, he used his words.  It hurt.  A lot.  I was shaking so much I had to lay down.  So I lay there on his bed, alone, and tried to act like it was all okay.  I was fine.  Yes, I still wanted to be friends.  It was fine.  I was fine.  I couldn't breathe, but I was fine.  Then I left.  I tried to cry on my drive back home, out of town, but I couldn't.

I don't remember ever shedding a tear over him.  I wanted to, though, most desperately.

So, that cracked me, but I didn't shatter.  Not until a few weeks later.  

My friends were set to throw me a birthday party at the house I was moving into with my best friend, the girl who had first introduced me to the boy.  The boy was planning on attending the party.  I could be cool, no worries.  Except my best friend, just days before the party–my party–told me that I shouldn't come.  The boy was bringing his new girlfriend.  Like, what the fuck?  Wasn't it supposed to be my birthday party?  I went anyway.  Forewarned, I didn't make a scene.  That's not really my schtick anyway, you know?  But that conversation we had, her disinviting me to my own party, added another crack.  I was getting fragile.

I shattered about two months later.  

I'd moved into the house.  I was sad still, over the boy.  I was working a new job in which I didn't fit.  My best friend made it clear that she didn't want to deal with my sadness, so I didn't mention it and it festered.  That festering gave voice to my depression, and I was lost.  A cracked bottle barely floating in a sea of made of unshed tears.

And then she asked me to move out.

And I shattered and the pieces of me sank into the deep dark.

My mom told me recently that my friend told her that she was frightened for me.  That's not the message I got from my friend.  What I got from my friend was that she valued her friendship with the boy more than her friendship with me.  And I now I think that both those things could be true.  Because she didn't try to be my friend afterwards.  She never called or emailed or checked up on me.  Nor did any of my other friends.  I lost them all, but she's the one that hurt the most.  I didn't hear from her again until the next year, weeks before I moved to Alaska.

She invited me for drinks in that midwestern college town.  I went, hoping that maybe I could find my friend again.  I didn't.  She apologized, but it didn't mean anything to me.  I was numb.  I didn't feel anything really.  We went to see the boy in his new apartment, and it was awkward and awful and I didn't feel anything for him either.  I just kind of wanted to leave.

So I did.

I've been trying to suss out my reactions to them ever since.  Depression, man.  

I've had a really hard time making friends since then.  In fact, I've only made one.  I've not dated since then either.  I've not had the stomach for it.  I have a really hard time trusting people, trusting myself, believing that I'm worth anything.

I'm working on it.

I think I've found most of my pieces, and some buoyancy, though I've not yet broken through to air.  I'll never be what I once was, but maybe I can find some bit of life yet.  Maybe I can repair myself into something that can steer to shore.  The cracks will always be there, the jagged edges, the missing shards, but I have to believe that I'll be able to find dry land and leave behind the sea.

I just hope it happens soon.

27 May 2017

In which I obsess over my inability to afford to buy a human skull on a whim

By Sklmsta [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm going to tell you a secret (that is not so much a secret):

I really, really, really want to own a real human skull.

It's not that strange.  It's not!  Lots of people want to own the skulls and bones of humans and other animals.

So I want a human skull.  Preferably male, and also, I think, Asian.  Why male?  I don't know.  Like I seriously couldn't give you a reason on that.  But Asian?  That's because I've been looking at skulls and reproduction skulls online and the ones that appeal to me most have been Asian.  Weird, right?

African and European skulls are attractive as well, but for some reason male Asian skulls appeal to me the most.  The next most attractive skull, at least to me, is the female European skull.  Again, I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe I'm just weird.  The skull in the picture here was formerly a male European, for reference sake.

Now, I am neither skilled nor educated enough to look at a skull and tell you what race or sex the person was.  I say I find male Asian skulls the most attractive only because the skulls that have appealed to me have turned out to be male and Asian.  Read from that what you will.

I will probably never buy a skull for two reasons:
1) Skulls are expensive!  And I don't have enough money for necessities, let alone an extra $2000+ to spend on human remains that will likely end up being a really morbid dust catcher.
and
2) I don't know that I'd get along with whatever bit of spirit remains with, well, that bit of remains.  And I don't think I'd be able to cleanse the skull of its spirit, you know?  Don't know that I'd have the heart.  Don't know that I'd have the skill.  And I don't know that you'd be able to get a spiritually neutral skull.  I mean, I'd like a spirit tied to the skull, but one I called rather than one that came with it.  

Which is why if I ever get a skull, I'll probably end up buying a museum replica—and, really, I'm most worried about the money.  Speaking of which, Bone Clones offers these adorable scaled down skull replicas.  They fit in your hand!  Also, much cheaper than a full sized replica, and much, much, much cheaper than a real skull.  I want the set.

Maybe someday I'll be able to afford to buy a real human skull, one that is complete with mandible and teeth.  I hope so.  Maybe not.

How do you create change?

By Krzysiek.W [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This is a question I've been pondering for some time.  How do I create change in my life?  It sounds simple enough: you make a decision and work towards it.  But in practice it's so hard.  I make promises to myself at night that I forget during the day.

So, how do you create change?

My guess is slowly and with great difficulty.

I've made some decisions in the last few months, now I just need to follow them through—keep working even if I stumble, even if I fall.  I just need to remember and keep working towards my goals.

Don't you think?

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

In other news:  I'm feeling particularly crafty, so here soon I'm going to start working on a project I've been wanting to do for some time.  It involves scrimshaw—which I really need to learn to do better, my last scrimshaw project didn't turn out particularly well.  It was okay, I guess, and I know what went wrong.  I'm not particularly artsy, and this project kind of requires it, so that's going to take some time.  It's also going to be rather expensive to buy all the bone discs I need, so that's going to take some time as well.  Unless I miraculously find a job or a way to make money some other way—I'm working on that, by the way.

So, what's the project?

Making Weirdin.

What are Weirdin?

Weirdin are divinatory tools created by fantasy author Charles de Lint (one of my favorite authors) for his book Moonheart.  In the book they're carved bone, but scrimshaw is more my style.  Plus I want to add some color, not a whole lot, but some.

I'm also going to need to paint a reading cloth.  I'm thinking silk.  It's a simple design, so that shouldn't be too difficult.  Not as difficult as scrimming 61 double-sided bone discs, at any rate.

I'm also thinking that I'm going to make a set in wood.  That should be faster.  Burned, not carved.  I've more talent for sketching than for carving—which I have no talent for whatsoever.  The wooden should be done by the end of the year.


And then, I still have no idea what I'm going to do for my family's winter holiday craft exchange.

31 March 2017

Figuring out my life

ShiFeng Waterfall by Weihao.chiu [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Man, it's been a while.  Sorry for that.  I just needed to spend some time away, not paying attention to life much at all.  Still no joy on the job front and that's a pity.  But I've managed to get a better handle on my meager finances, and should have my credit card paid off months earlier than expected.  Yay!

Not much else has gone on.  Nothing really to report.  I'm still here trying to figure out my next move and going nowhere.  Frustrating, it is.

I'm going to pick back up with blogging and my other writing here soon.

That's it.

04 February 2017

18 January 2017

Joy? No Joy. Joy?

Aurora over Kansas by Lane Pearman,  A rare occurrence indeed.
So, no joy results from my interview a couple Fridays ago.  Too bad.  I can't say I wasn't expecting it.  Though I can't say that I'm not massively disappointed either.  I wanted that job.  I really, really did.

Oh, well!  Moving on.

Today, shortly after receiving the dreaded email of rejection, I was called for an interview.  Yay.  Subdued yay, because the job is low paying, possibly part time (though maybe not), and not anywhere near the "professional" position that I need.  Applying for it, I couldn't help but think that I was giving up.  That they called me so quickly, I can't help but think that this job, and jobs like it, are all I'm ever going to get.  There seems to be an inevitability in this, you know?  It's work that I have been trying so hard to get away from, work that I spent tens of thousands of dollars on my education to avoid having to do, and yet . . .  This is what I'm most likely to get.

It's fine.  It's fine.  It's fine.

I need the money.  Desperately.  I'll have to continue working at the library, which is a pity, but, right now, it can't be avoided.  I don't mind the work itself.  I actually kind of enjoy it.  What I mind is what comes with it: low pay, crappy hours, the disrespect masked by the assumption that you're uneducated/stupid/too lazy to get a "real" job, etc.

Blah.  I'm being too negative.  I'm actually grateful for the chance this job brings, and a little bit happy that they've called.  I was beginning to believe that I was completely unhireable.  Two interviews in as many weeks goes a long way to prove that thesis wrong.  So, yay!  Maybe I can find a job after all.

And here's some big silver linings about this job (if I get it):

  • Health insurance
  • More money!  Along with my library job, I'll be able to:
    • Pay off most of my debts, especially my credit card!
    • Buy a new bed!
    • Get some new clothes!
    • Do things, like, go out to dinner!  Or even a movie!
    • Rebuild my savings!
    • Buy new bookshelves!
    • Get a new phone!
  • I can dye my hair some funky colors, which is something I've wanted to do for YEARS now.  Seriously, the hair is a big thing for me.  Check out Ursula Goff's website to get an idea of what I'm wanting to do, especially "galaxies," "oceans," and "jewels."
If I'm able to get at least something of a set schedule, then maybe I'll have some free time.  That's not guaranteed, of course, but a girl can dream.  I just hope that I won't be roped back into going months without a day off.  That way lies madness.  

So, this is a good thing.  Maybe.  If I get the job.

Once I get my debts paid off, I'll think about quitting the library.

I'll have to make time for both writing and studying.  I'll have to prioritize it.  I've been wanting to make a living writing forever and haven't ever really believed I could, but I'm not doing too good a job making a living any way else either.  Now's as good a time as any to really follow my dream.  Maybe I won't have to get a "grown up" job after all.  Maybe I'll be able to transition to writing with the help of this job possibility.

That would be good.

If I get this job, then I'm going to dye the crap out of my hair for my birthday.  And maybe next year get that tattoo I've been wanting.  (It's a simple compass rose).

Bright side, bright side.  I'm feeling good!

15 January 2017

To Ponder & Forgive

I got this picture from Pixabay.  Nice, right?
My mother once told me that depression was anger turned inwards.  I believe her, and not just because she's my mother and I love her so much that I've practically deified her, nor because she has a psychology degree, but because it makes sense and I am so very, very angry with myself.  Almost always.  Sure I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but mostly there's this simmering anger focused on every mistake I ever made.  And I have made a quite few mistakes, some so monumentally large that I'll feel the effects of them for years to come.

I've been thinking about this, and have come to the conclusion that I need to give myself a break.  I'm not perfect.  I can't be perfect.  I can't make the correct decision all the time.  I'm doing the best that I can now, and I did the best that I could at the time.  I need to let it go.  I need to forgive myself.  I need to stop obsessing about things I cannot change.  I cannot change who I was; I can only work on who I am and who I will become.

So I got fat.  So what?  I did it, there's no denying that I did it.  I can't go back in time and not get fat, but I can work to lose weight now.  I can work to get back in shape.  Sure, it would have been easier if I'd changed my eating habits and started working out again back when I first started to gain weight, but that didn't happen.  Instead I ignored it as much as I could, then I wallowed in grief and self pity, then, when I tried to change it, I'd grow frustrated with how difficult it was to do things I once found easy like run, or dance, or aerobics, or yoga, so I'd quit and go back to wallowing.  It was incredibly self-indulgent, and it resulted in me gaining more weight.

I quit dating 15 years ago, give or take, and that was a mistake.  It was a conscious decision on my part.  Or, at least, it started that way.  I needed time to get over both heartbreak and a bruised ego.  Then heartbreak again, as my friends left with my lover.  I needed a break, time to heal.  I should've newly single time to better myself, to fix the things I wanted to fix about myself, like the aforementioned weight gain, but I didn't.  Maybe I couldn't.  I don't know.  It would have been better, easier, if I hadn't lost all my friends at the same time.  What can I say?  They liked him better, and they weren't very good friends.  But I lost them too, and so I withdrew and indulged and wallowed.  I didn't know how to ask for help, or truly recognize that I needed it.  I dealt with being abandoned by my friends by withdrawing further.  I should have been braver and stronger.  I should have said, "Fuck them!" and gone on to make new friends, have new lovers, but I dealt with it the way only way I could at the time.  I survived.  

Getting a Master's in Library Science was a terrible decision.  It was, there's no denying that, but I didn't know it at the time.  I thought it was . . . safe.  It wasn't what I wanted to do, but I didn't have a clear picture of how I wanted my future to turn out.  I knew it was something I'd be good at, and I'd had several people, including most of my family, telling me for several years that it was something that I should do, and I thought, Why not? I could be a librarian.  And I could, except I can't.  I didn't know that library jobs would dry up.  I didn't know that a million other people had the same idea I did, many of whom have much more passion for the profession than I.  I didn't realize how hemmed in I'd feel, how desperate, when I couldn't find a job.  I didn't even think not finding a job was a possibility.  I just wanted something steady, something professional, something wherein I'd be treated with more respect than retail.  Who knew that it'd make me feel more miserable and more worthless than retail?  Who knew that I'd spend years applying for every full time library position I heard about in the Northern United States, including Alaska, and that those ~1500 resumes and carefully crafted cover letters sent, and applications filled out would result in a grand total of three interviews, and zero offers?  I didn't.  I couldn't.  So I did the best I could at the time.  I really did.  That it didn't work out is not my fault.  Not really.  It was just a conspiracy of bad timing.  I really thought that I was making my life better.

I don't know where I go from here.  I have no real vision of my future, but I've got to forgive myself for the mistakes in my past.  Those mistakes make up the foundation of me that is my past.  They can't be undone.  I have to forgive myself.  I have to, in order to heal and live.

I don't know where my life is going.  I don't know what I'll do next.  What I do know is that I need to stop being so angry with myself.  I need to stop being so self-destructive.  I need to forgive and grow and learn and heal.  One foot in front of the other, these are the steps I need to live.

11 January 2017

Drama, drama, drama

by Pieter Lanser from The Netherlands [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday I got into a limited argument with one of the women in a private Facebook group.  I feel bad about it, and need to write it out.

For the most part I stay away from Facebook, signing in at most once a month.  I stepped back from most social media sometime during the summer after the epiphanic realization that it's all manufactured drama, exaggerated happiness (a.k.a. lies), and kitten pictures.  Can you guess which of those things I actually care about?

Anyway, this Facebook group was started by one of my very best friends as a way to pull together all her witchy friends.  As you can probably guess by the adjective I just used, the group is vaguely New Age.  Most of us follow different spiritual paths, but there's a lot of metaphysics thrown around in there.  It's actually rather refreshing.  Very little drama and a lot of good thoughts and pretty pictures.  Plus, we're all women and all of an age, so many of us have gone through or are going through the same sorts of things.  It's a good place to go for a bit of support.  And that was the intent.

Now, again, it's been weeks and weeks since I even signed on to Facebook, and probably months since I've contributed to the group, but two days ago my friend who started this group messaged me wanting to know if I'd seen the latest thread in the group.  I hadn't, but decided to go check it out.  It seems that our newest member had left a post asking for book recommendations pertaining to magic and witchcraft and where to begin.  A few other members of our group answered, and then someone decided to start lecturing.

Not just lecturing.  More like a roundabout, rambling way to tell us that we're wrong and ignorant and not as, I don't know, enlightened as she is or something.  I don't know.  This woman, that's kind of the way she is.  Well, that's totally the way she is.  I've known her for years and have always found her to be almost unbearably abrasive.  She's certainly very intense.  I like her well enough when she forgets that she's supposed to be so much better than everyone, but for the most part I've observed that no matter what–it could be your birthday, your baby shower, whatever–she always finds a way to dig at the people around her.

She's like the witchy-fucking-hipster: she only into the really exclusive schools of spirituality, and works only with the very best teachers, and "Oh, you like that school of though?  Yeah, I was into that for a while, like 20 years ago, when I didn't know any better," and the like.  She's argumentative and abrasive, and completely unable to listen to or empathize with other people.

I generally don't interact with her because of this.  It's easier, and given half a chance she'll drag you into her drama.

Now, you'd probably think, reading this blog where I spew all my insanity into the great void of the interwebs, that I thrive on drama.  I don't, not really.  It exhausts me.  I have a tendency to panic and shut down.  I can deal with emergencies, but that's different than drama.  An emergency has a limited shelf life, drama can go on forever.  That's actually a nightmare of mine.

Anyway, I gave my recommendations (books, authors, websites) to the new baby witch and let it go, but I kept an eye on the thread.  What can I say?  I was looking to be entertained, and drama can be entertaining if you're not caught in the middle of it.

Then this woman started–well, it seemed to me–attacking my friend with more lecturing and what seemed to be really disingenuous questions.  I've seen her do this shit before: badgering the other person into submission, getting a token "well, I don't know as much as you" comment, and the like.  Hell, she's done it to me before.  And it's so irritating, and I just couldn't sit there and watch it happen yet again.

Since I met this woman–over a decade ago now–I could count on one hand with fingers left over the number of conversations that either we've had, I've witnessed in person, or read online that she's had with people that have not followed the pattern of:
person: I think this.
woman: You're wrong.  [Launches into a long screed about why they're wrong, all while misinterrpretting what person said]
person: No, that's not what I said.  I meant [rephrases their point to clarify]
woman: [Continues screed about person's wrongness.  Throws in some references to some famous spiritual teacher that woman claims to have studied with for years]
person: But, that's not—
woman: [Continues screed, references some esoteric knowledge to back her claim, then tops off with pseudo-eastern thought that has nothing really to do with the subject person was talking about]
person: But—
woman: [Continues screed, throws in terms "unenlightened" & "where you are on your soul's evolutionary journey"]
person: Whoa, um, I don't think I said what you thought I said.  And you're being kind of harsh.
woman: [Continues screed, knows she's being mean because she says things like, "I'm perfectly reasonable" (meaning the person is overreacting to her obvious abuse), and "This is just the way that I interact with people," and "I don't candy coat my words for anyone, that's not how Wild Women grow" (an excuse to be mean), and "You need to learn to interact with people from a nonreactive space" (meaning you shouldn't try to stand up for yourself," etc.]
person: You're right.  I'm sorry.
Seriously.

But here's the thing: the woman is smart and knowledgeable, and when she's not acting like an utter bitch she can be fun to interact with.  She can be someone that you can learn something new from, and I always find that fun, but she doesn't know how to people, you know?  Usually I have more patience, or I don't even bother interacting with her because I know how she is, and I have some insight into why she is that way.  She's had an extraordinarily shitty life, especially her early life.  I think she legitimately doesn't know how to people.  She's overcome a lot and her life has gotten a lot better, but she doesn't really have the foundation that most other people have.  The story of her childhood, teens, and a good chunk of her twenties is one of the worst I've ever heard, and I've heard some bad stories.  It wasn't Dave Pelzer, but it wasn't that far off.  So usually I just ignore her because I can't deal with her and the abuse she deals out.

And I don't know, maybe because I'm dealing with my own separate issues right now, maybe because I'm just so sick of having to jump over the missing stair that is this woman in our group, but for whatever reason I just couldn't ignore her.  Not this time.

So I did what I never do: I engaged.  I stuck up for my friend, so I'm proud of that, but I fought as dirty as the woman does.  I met her condescension with condescension and topped it.  She pulled her esoteric references, so I pulled my own and added a bit common knowledge.  I told her that I was only speaking because I felt like she was attacking my friend.  I apologized, but in a way that made it clear that I understood entirely what she was doing.  I reminded her without flat out saying it that I am as smart as she is and probably more well read.  When she pulled the "I hope you can let go of your irritation."  I let her know that I felt the whole conversation was irritating, and I that I knew she was going to try to continue it anyway.  Then I disengaged because I knew that that would drive her crazy, not having the last word, and not being able to impart her "wisdom" to me.

It took about four comments to shut her down.  Now I feel psychically dirty, and I'm not sure it was worth it.  Because I'm good at this sort of thing, working words, drawing blood without a knife.  Especially when I'm writing.  Talking in person is a whole other game, I've a tendency to go awkward there.  But writing?  Yeah, I'm good at it.  I read people well, and know words, and when I have a chance to think in an argument I know I can be devastating.

I don't like doing it.  Though I usually don't, I can throw my intellectual weight around with the best of them, but it makes me feel like a bully.  Plus, I don't really like arguing.  I try my best to avoid in-person arguments like the plague.  Seriously, I once had to lie down while arguing with an ex-boyfriend because I got so shaky that I couldn't stand up any longer.  Literally, my legs wouldn't hold me.  I just laid on the floor while he continued his argument.  We broke up shortly after.  Off topic.

The woman quit our group.  I have mixed feelings about that because of her past and her issues, yes, but also because I had a part of driving her away.  No one deserves to be bullied, not even bullies themselves.  So this isn't really a satisfactory end, (not that this is really the end, I believe she'll be back in a few months like she just took a vacation or something) but I don't know what a satisfactory end would be.  Well, that's not exactly true.  It'd be nice if she stopped tearing us down to stir up drama and, I don't know, feel better about herself or something.  It'd be nice if she learned how to people, then we could happily people together.

And I think I need to work on my patience.

09 January 2017

What's the worst thing about depression?

Three pictures of the same Nō 'hawk mask' showing how the expression changes with a tilting of the head.
by Wmpearl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I was asking myself this earlier today when I had a thought that my random bouts of deep sadness were the worst thing about dealing with depression.  I thought this because I was in one, and it was something that I wish I could have avoided.  When I had this thought my immediate response was to question it, because those random bouts of deep sadness are not, I think, the worst thing about dealing with depression.  I'm not really sure what is, truth be told, because there's so many things that depression brings that are the very worst.  For instance:

  • Rage: the white-hot anger that burns through me–again, randomly–and is mostly triggered by the unfairness of life, petty injustices.  The fact that I can't find a job or support myself in any way, after years of working multiple jobs and going to school, getting TWO degrees, and spending most of my free time applying for jobs.  Getting rejected again and again and again and again.  I'm mad at myself and I'm mad at the world, and sometimes that just bubbles over.  It's often followed by Deep Sadness or Utter Exhaustion.
  • Utter Exhaustion: when I just can't move or do things.  All I want to do is curl into a ball and sleep, sleep forever.  If I had to make an effort to breathe, I probably wouldn't.  Though Utter Exhaustion often shows up after Rage or Deep Sadness, it sometimes visits on it's own.
  • Deep Sadness: the best I can describe this is as an endless pit of tears.  A well so deep as to be bottomless.  For me, it is often triggered by babies or children and happy new mothers.  At least, right now.  I've always wanted to be a mom, and I don't think I'll ever get to be one.  Also triggered by couples, people with successful careers, and job searches.  
  • Stupidity: brain misfires, the inability to think, a lack of concentration, losing words and names.  I'm smart.  I am.  Gifted is what they called me in school.  I was just one point off from getting a perfect score on the ACT in high school.  I remember almost everything I read.  I learn quickly, needing, in general, just one pass at any task to be able to do it again.  And yet, there are times when I can't think.  I just can't.  I can't think, I can't remember, I don't know.  I can't string words together to make a sentence.  I can't read.  I can't understand.
  • Physical Pain: this one doesn't happen very often, but any of the symptoms above can and sometimes do trigger migraines or muscle cramps/spasms.  Sometimes I just ache.  Sometimes I just hurt.
None of these are pleasant.  All of these are the worst while I'm dealing with them, you know?  When it's bad, all of these show up at once.  And it sucks because I still need to function.  I can't hide like I so very much want to.  I push through.  I work, I live.  Sometimes I even laugh, and I die a bit inside. But I have customers and coworkers, friends and family, and none of them want to know.  So I don't let them see, and that, truthfully, is the worst.  The constant lies eat away at you and cause much of the Rage and Sadness and Exhaustion.  The never letting anyone know what's going on with you because you did that once and lost all your friends, your lover, and caused your family pain.  You never wanted to hurt anyone, you just wanted a little bit of comfort, and maybe a hand to help you stand up and move through what was supposed to be a temporary sadness.  But you were pushed away, abandoned, and blamed.

So you took that lesson to heart, and you learned to lie.  You swallowed your emotions, your pain, your sadness, your anger.  You swallowed them all and forgot how to feel.  Except sometimes, when it all became too much for you to bear, and then, sometimes, you cried or you raged or you wallowed, but only when there was no one around to see.  Only when you were alone.  And those times were refreshing, the only bit of freedom you were allowed.  So you found a way to make those times longer, you kept yourself apart from others more and more, and you forgot how to interact with other people because you didn't want to wear that damned mask.  You didn't want to lie.  And you relearned how to feel.

Of course it couldn't last.  You get lonely when you're always alone.  You need work and friends and you always wanted a family.  So you step out in the world and try to live your truth, but that truth includes your pain and others still don't want to see.  You bring the mask back, but it chafes.  You're healing, you know you're healing, but it's not happening fast enough, and you're still so fragile.  The lies make you weak, but they make you socially acceptable.  Every time you laugh when you want to scream it's like opening a vein.  There's only so many pints of blood that you can spare, and you lost those pints long ago with a wound that's never fully healed.  The mask keeps it open, you see.  The mask makes you bleed.

It's harder now than it once was, to wear the mask I need to wear to function in the world.  I think it's because I don't have stable footing right now.  I keep slipping and my mask falls, and they see this bleeding, tired creature desperately grasping for a little bit of normality, a little bit of stability, just trying to stay upright.  I bleed from a thousand tiny wounds, a thousand cuts of worry.  I bleed, but I can't let anyone see it.  I'm punished when I do.

But showing it, talking about it, feeling it?  That's how I heal too.  That's how I let the mask go and find the bandages and antiseptic that I need to cleanse the wounds caused by the jagged edges of the mask.  That's how I know I'm human still.  A bloody creature, maybe, but one that can learn and grow and, yes, heal.  That's how I remember that change is possible.  And, gods, I need a change, and the change I most want and worry about is in my job situation.

Right now, my big worry is money.  It's so hard because I'm less than a paycheck away from losing everything I have.  If I lose just eight hours of work a month . . . Yet, I think the slips of my mask make it harder for me to get a job.  Would you call that irony, or just plain bad luck?  I need a full time job and the money that the job would pay me.  I need the money and the stability the money will buy me.  I need the health insurance and the psychiatric care that health insurance brings–mostly in the form of antidepressants.  I need a little breathing room, time and room to heal.  I need to pay myself back, pay off my debts, and rebuild my savings.  That would be the first of many steps, of course.  I've a long way to go before all's said and done.

06 January 2017

Interview post mortem

I had my first non-library interview today.  My first interview in over a year, in fact.  I think it went well.  I know better than to count my chickens, or to even count on anything before it's in hand, but I do hope I get this job.  It sounds super interesting, something that will push and grow my skills, you know?

I think the interviewers and I had rapport, which is good.  And I think that I answered most of the questions they had for me well.  Though, I may have fumbled a bit at the end.  The library thing (the fact that I have a library degree, and am not looking for work in a library) came up, and I know no good way to answer that.  Not without sounding angry and desperate.  Then they asked what in my career would they not go back to, and I don't know how to answer that either.  Everything I've done is open for redoing.  I'd hoped that I wouldn't have to go back to retail work with it's low pay and crappy hours, but it'd be different if I owned a shop, so that's not exactly true either.

I can't quite make myself believe that this is going to work out for me.  I'd like it to, but I can't count on it.  And I can't believe it.  If I end up being offered the job, I'll just have to be pleasantly surprised. Because I can't expect and then not get it, you know?

Man, but it'd be an interesting position.  I had assumed it would just be a receptionist, which would be a fine if boring position, but no, it's a growing gig.  I'd be receptionist, yeah, but I'd also be involved in quite a bit of the administration of the department.  I'd be able to define the role.  Which. Is. Awesome.  Responsibility and room for growth?  Forget about it!  It'd be a dream.

Which, of course, is why I'll probably not get it.  Why expect this to go my way when I've had years of nothing but bruises?

So, back up plan, back up plan, what will be my back up plan?  I'll keep applying.  I'll apply and apply and apply, much like I have been, and hope that something sticks.  And I'll ramp up my writing.  Not here, not right now anyway, but creatively.  I've let that slack.  I've told you.  I have a short story in the works right now that I think I could sell to one of the major magazines.  If I can finish it and polish it up a bit.  I've got a couple of others bubbling and brewing.  And there is always my novel, which I haven't worked on in a while, but I've been thinking about.

Something's got to give soon, right?