Anyway, here’s “wonderwall”

So I’m going to be thirty in about a month. I’m not depressed; I’m not freaked about being single and childless, without even one cat to my name (I FAIL at being a stereotypical dried up old spinster, I know); I don’t feel like the sands of my life are slipping away grain by grain. I swear it doesn’t cross my mind more than once in a while that my own mother was married with two children by the time she hit thirty. (I’ve got a whole less-interesting-than-it-sounds story about a well-meaning cashier at a restaurant asking if I was a mom so she’d know whether or not to add a free dessert to my meal. I said no; she said, “okay, so not a mom yet” and pointed out the survey on my receipt so I could at least get a free cookie. I somehow refrained from rolling my eyes and held back the tirade about reproductive choice and not being Less Than because I don’t have and don’t want kids, while mentally flicking her on the nose, because that was not the best way to phrase that, okay?)

Anyway. It’s just really freaking weird being almost thirty.

Like, how in the name of everything holy did I get here? Last I checked I was careening through my mid-twenties, trying to extricate myself from one scrape after another—pretty much all of those were my own damn fault—so I could settle down to the business of Being An Adult. Precisely what Being An Adult entails seems to be anyone’s guess.

Side note: it’s vaguely unsettling that when the media and pop culture reference “young people” they don’t necessarily mean me any more. Soon, demographic analyses and pundits will start shoving me into arbitrary “middle-aged” boxes with all their might. Thirty feels like some sort of huge, arbitrary milestone, like it’s the point where I’m supposed to have my life mostly sorted out, if not completely together.

I think getting my student loans consolidated and having more than one credit card that I actually use responsibly totally counts. Right?

 

 

Advertisements

Ch-ch-changes

If you’re in the Knoxville area and you see this:

teddy bear

…it’s totally me, toting around the panda my parents gave me a full decade ago. Because my life’s in the midst of some major upheaval and NO ME GUSTA. I just uprooted myself and moved five hours from the place I’ve called home for the past four years—without a job, without much beyond a landing spot in a friend’s spare room.

(It’s a pretty sweet landing spot, to be honest. My friend and her husband are amazing cooks—and they both know full well that I am most definitely not. Plus they have adorable kitties and a dog. Plus a million other things that I can’t quite quantify.)

A couple months ago, I complained about change literally hurting. And it so does, even when you put on your big girl pants and just rip off the band aid. Especially when you realize that copious amounts of hard liquor probably won’t make it any better (and are too broke for copious amounts of anything to be an option). Still, Knoxville is an amazing city and I should be able to find a good job (maybe not a great one, but my jack-of-all trades resume is what it is). Dunno if I’ll be able to find a decent apartment with my credit the way it is, but that’s why they invented individual landlords, n’est-ce pas?

In the market for more adult coping mechanisms, by the way; what do y’all do to make a new place your own?

Image via pixabay

Adulting is HARD, Y’all.

Guess who gets to move back to Arkansas because I brought home a grand total of $334 this week. That’s barely keeping me afloat when I’ve got all the overtime I could ask for—but when the hotel goes dead and I’m down to a maximum of 40 hours  a week, I’ll bring home less than $250 after taxes (with no cushion to speak of after loans on autopay went into repayment earlier than I thought they would). Can’t live on that with rent going up and bills, bills, bills everywhere. My rent’s less than $450, so I’m not going to do better than that anywhere within a few hours’ drive. My utilities couldn’t get lower unless disconnected the three things that don’t get unplugged at night. I don’t go out or shop any more. I’ve cut every corner I can and it’s just not balancing out.

Photoshop in a glass of wine, and this is basically me for the past few hours.
Photoshop in a glass of wine, and this is basically me for the past few hours.

I’m luckier than a lot of people in this particular frying pan. My family’s arms are totally open and waiting, and my parents are juggling as frantically as they can to see if we can afford one of those POD things for what furniture/essentials I’m going to keep. Wish me luck trying to get even a ballpark quote on that, though; I might just have to bite the bullet and get a U-Haul. I’ll have to sell my car, since it’s held together with bandaids and prayers and absolutely won’t make it halfway across the country a second time.

So yeah. That’s it for this week.

EDIT: Might detour to Knoxville, TN for a few months to see if I can find a job there and maintain some semblance of independence (albeit temporarily living with my best friend and her husband and her little brother). Because their arms are as wide open as my family’s and happen to be a lot closer. Plus, that puts me that much closer to home if I do end up back in Arkansas.

image via pixabay

Homebodies-R-Us

I think I have a small problem, y’all. (And I should probably apologize ahead of time for what feels like an epic whine brewing.)

I’m pretty sure I’m one rage-fest-fueled job resignation away from being a shut-in.

Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don't.
Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don’t.

I don’t go out—at all—except for work and for those necessities I can’t get online. Mostly only because nobody really lets you order groceries online in Greensboro without charging an arm, a leg, and your first born for it. It’s not like I’m afraid to go out or in any way think I have a serious condition preventing me from spending my free time away from my apartment. I just…don’t. My free time is MY TIME. It’s my time to recharge, to putter around the internet for hours, or watch movies, or text my friends and siblings incessantly, all while going a full forty-eight glorious hours without saying a single word aloud.

That’s all well and good, except my anxiety cranked up to oh-my-god-is-it-a-real-heart-attack-this-time levels a couple days ago and I realized that it’d be at least a week before anyone noticed I’m dead. That has to be the one downside to living on my own at least six hours away from anyone I know well enough to maintain regular contact with, and half a continent (-ish) away from my family. (My tumblr mutuals might notice once my queue runs out, but that’s stocked up for at least a week. Plus none of them have my number or anything.) Plus plus, I’m actually getting lonely more often.

I might have to make getting out more a mission. Except I’ve tried that before I don’t know how many times, and it never catches on because leaving my apartment and interacting with people cuts into MY TIME. (Going to mass means getting up at a decent hour on Sunday morning, or carving time out of Saturday evening. Reading at Starbucks or the Green Bean or Geeksboro requires money. Bars are full of creepers and require money—and they’re not well suited to someone as soft-spoken as I am.) Notice the trend here? Even I’m getting sick of my own bullshit and want a change.

It totally doesn’t help that, according to Scott Koch’s article on cio.com, change can actually hurt. MY TIME has gotten to be such a routine that my poor brain doesn’t know how to process not spending hours every Saturday digging around Wikipedia or Tumblr. It’s comforting even as it’s isolating. Koch notes, however, that “[o]nce people have had that initial insight or epiphany that change is necessary, they need to repeat the experience in order to reinforce it and to experience the potential pleasure that can be derived from it.” Guess who might just have to rip off the bandaid and spend time out of the house. This moi.

I did see an interesting take on this while skimming the first few chapters of Michelle Phillips’ Happiness is a Habit (excerpted here): actually getting out and being with others isn’t deprivation, it’s growth. It’s not necessarily taking away from MY TIME, it’s giving me time to make a friend, or go on a date, or whatever takes my fancy.

Still, falling on my habit-forming face multiple times in the past has me leery.

I need an interaction accountability buddy, stat.

Rawr.

It’s all in my head.

We all have our quirks. Mine happen to be legion and make no damn sense at all sometimes. But I can totally deal with preferring to keep an even number of fries in each ketchup cup at a fast food place, or driving out of my way to avoid doubling back on a route because doubling back just feels wrong.

I can’t deal with the growing pile of associations I make between totally insignificant stuff and bad luck.

-Example: Spilling any of my soda/tea/beverage of choice, even just a drop on my hand, on my way from the parking lot to my desk in the morning means I’m going to have a bad day. Smaller spills mean smaller irritants or mistakes. I’m not even going to think about the day I had after spilling my apple chai everywhere a year ago.

-Example: I’ve stopped wearing specific bras and pairs of earrings because I’ve had multiple wretched days in them;  I really, really like my deer earrings, and my Hohenzollern eagle-looking earrings, but it’s going to be a long time before I’m brave enough to try those again after the days I’ve had wearing them.

-Example: “Some Nights” by fun. popping into my head from 5:30 pm until 9:30 am, even for an instant means a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad day ahead. Period. Trying to distract myself with other music sometimes cancels out the bad luck, but I’ve actually gotten resigned to the inevitable—especially when the damn song keeps intruding no matter what I do. I’ve deleted all the fun. songs off my iPod because “Carry On” leads to “We Are Young” leads to “Some Nights.” But that hasn’t really worked. (I seriously have dozens stories about “SN”/bad luck. I used to love that song, and played it all the time until it racked up too many bad luck points to ignore).

I know full well it’s mostly a self-fulfilling prophecy based on anecdotal evidence that I have bad days/bad luck with all that stuff. I know that. But that doesn’t stop the sheer panic every time the first few seconds of “Some Nights” wanders into my head—actually panicking a little right now, because writing about it means I’m thinking about it, and thinking about it means it’s playing in my head, and as much as I try to convince myself that even if I’m right and the song is bad luck, it totally doesn’t count when I think about it on purpose…that doesn’t make me any less skittish.  Because the damn song kept popping into my head the night before last and yesterday I had my first brush with an unreasonable, overly entitled meeting planner and got so mad and frustrated I nearly cried.

I keep telling myself that it’s pure coincidence that I have stressful days every time those Bad Luck Things pop up; sometime I even contemplate having a go at desensitization. But I’m just not brave enough to try right now.

Excuse me while I drown my brain in Beethoven to counter all the fun. in my head so I at least have a change of having a decent day at work tomorrow.

Thinking Pink: Being a Girly-Girl Feminist

There’s a lot of pink and frilly in my life right now. I can’t quite tell if it’s a sugar-flower girly-girl binge that’ll peter out in a year or two, or if I’ve finally managed to incorporate the part of me that wants blush-pink tops and lace and pearls into my otherwise aiming-for-adult experience of feminism. Liking those things has always seemed a little shameful, almost as if by preferring them I was sliding back fifty years into a chiffon-and-pearls-filled anti-feminist head space.

I was maybe eight the first time I remember consciously rejecting all things girly; I was Not Like Other Girls, after all, and had to visually differentiate myself from them by skewing toward cooler colors and no-nonsense construction. This was hard sometimes, because my family depended pretty heavily on hand-me-downs and consignment stores until I was in high school. I never actually point-blank told my mother what I was doing or why I didn’t want to wear that skirt with the weird frill and lace around the hem, either. I don’t think I could have. I couldn’t articulate at fifteen that I didn’t want to wear visually feminine things because femininity in a small Southern town was a very specific box to fit into—and I had absolutely no interest in a box whose walls were marriage (after college if you were feeling particularly adventurous) and babies, home and church, and football games every Friday night.

Even in college I kept to my usual habits, but I finally developed the language to explain why I was doing what I was doing. Feminine traditionally has connotations of inferiority, of smallness, and of Other before Self. So I kept wearing blues and greens and avoiding things that were too obviously feminine. I was Not Like Other Girls, after all.

It wasn’t until I moved half-way across the country for grad school that the pattern finally started to shift. I found a circle of great women and girls both in real life and online who challenged the idea that liking dresses and lace and pink were the first slippery steps down the cliff to marriage and babies and losing my Feminist Card. I’ve realized that there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to stuff my wardrobe with blush tops and skirts and lace—I am a feminist no matter what. I can take my space in the world and all it entails and make it feminist. Maybe there’s something a little off about wanting to reclaim the girly-girl aesthetic from its traditional space in modern American culture. Maybe it’s presumptuous. But I won’t know unless I try, right?

Doing What I Love is probably not an option: A Humanities major falls over putting on her big girl pants

I grew up with one mantra in mind: Do What You Love. Damned if I haven’t tried, too. The problem is, I want to do everything—I bounced between nursing and translating and teaching and counseling before I got through middle school.

I got my undergraduate degree in Spanish—but translating for parent/teacher conferences in college a) gave me the worst headaches of my life, and b) proved that I am just not possessed of the rapid-fire brain patterns I would have needed to really be good at it. The problem: I didn’t realize that until it was really too late to change my major to something (slightly) less lucrative but might have suited better. So I had a very pretty but mostly decorative degree to display leaning against the wall of the converted garage my parents let me stay in rent-free after I graduated.

Remember the horrible, awful, no-good, very bad job market in 2009? I graduated with student loans—lower than average given that I went to a private school, thankfully—that year and didn’t really have the luxury of boundless job prospects even venturing an hour away from home to Little Rock. I lucked into a part-time retail job that paid minimum wage but at least brought in some income while I kept my eye open for something better (by which I mostly meant ANYTHING BUT TEACHING). Then I had the brilliant idea to pursue a master’s degree in History. That got me out of Arkansas, but added to my loan balance and ended up being an intellectually intriguing but ultimately not very useful endeavor, since I really needed a different concentration to move past unpaid volunteering with local museums; see, I love museums, and I love showing them to people. But I don’t have the fire-in-the-gut zeal to pursue yet another degree in a field that already has a glut of job-seekers who are exponentially better-qualified than I could ever be. So I now have two very pretty but mostly decorative degrees displayed in my apartment. And I’m stuck in a job that isn’t What I Love and isn’t necessarily something that even Needs Doing, which I’ve kept in the back of my head all along.

I called my mother a few days ago to vent about feeling like I’m spinning my wheels and wasting time and sliding down the cliff of turning into a ticking stress-ball like my dad was before he left the job he’d had since we moved to Arkansas and went back to school to get a degree in accounting. She kept asking me where my passion is leading and I finally had to answer that I just don’t know any more. The one thing I know I can consistently do, and well, is put words together. Maybe it’s time to try a direction I never even once considered and start putting words together—and eventually convince someone to pay me for doing it.