coffee · self-knowledge · travel

So, what did you learn?

8.8.18Most vacation recaps center around, “What did you do?”  Where did you go, What did you eat, What did you bring me back;)  But I am infinitely more inspired by the question: What did I learn?

I can divide my reflections from the past 5 weeks into two categories: what was confirmed, and what was new.

Confirmed Info about Molly:

  • Good coffee is the key to a good day.
  • Compression socks are a godsend.
  • Journal and meditation (with above-mentioned coffee) are a daily imperative.
  • Spending a week with my mom is challenging.
  • Spending time with my mom is fun.

New Info about Molly:

  • I am an “arranger.”  I will adjust my surroundings to suit my needs, literally.  Need the armchair at the indie bookstore to be by the window? Move it.  Need a hot water kettle for your coffee? Buy one.  Want to sit on the dorm patio to watch the vivacious, vicious thunderstorm?  Roll in a chair from a vacant dorm room.  —  I hadn’t realized this was a habit, or quality, of myself until another teacher in my month-long PD in Amherst pointed it out as I poured hot water over a travel cone of local coffee into a newly purchased giant mug.  He reflected that I do this: I arrange things how I need them.  Cool!
  • I am susceptible to the black-hole vacuum of others’ needs.  I have tools to ground myself (going for walks, to meetings, envisioning a tree), but my marrow setting is to allow my attention, my whole interior monologue, to be consumed and overwritten by your moment-to-moment needs.  This is not entirely new information, but it shed brighter light on my relationship patterns and gave me compassionate perspective on how I grew up and how these patterns formed.  Which will in turn, one hopes, help me repair that gulf between me and myself in challenging circumstances.
  • I love where I live so much it brought tears when I finally sat this morning with my (giant) mug at my kitchen table and no pants.  (Privacy, you are a gift!!)  All here is “arranged” as I need, and I am beyond grateful for a warm place to call home in a neighborhood that provides what I need just a walk away.

There will be more to learn and grow from as I readjust to my life here (the least of which is the time zone!).  But as I settle in, I know that what I’ve learned of myself is one of the truest gifts of my travel.

Welcome back, readers.

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coffee · frustration · gratitude · Jewish · poetry · progress · work

Normal Functioning Levels

In an effort to “put my needs first,” I’ve decided to change
this to a weekly, instead of a daily, blog. So, Sunday will be our day
together, folks. Two buses and an 8:30am clock-in time will make weekday
blogging a little bit like killing a wildebeest before breakfast – highly
unnecessary.
So, I have a job. ! This past week, starting on Wednesday, I
began working in the front office of a synagogue in Berkeley. This, will be an
adjustment. Honestly, my commute was easier when I was crossing the bridge!
But, I have a job. I needed one, and now, finally, I have one. I’m still not
clear on wtf it took so long to find one. It certainly does fall into the “underearning” category of a job “below my education and skill level,” but, then again,
the first bit of advice in the How to get out of debt… book is **Get A Job, ANY Job** So, I have a job.
It’s not going to be that bad either. There are a lot of systems in
place that are way wonky, i.e. ten-step processes, when they could be 3, but
that’s sort of why I’m there. In the rest of life, usually when I want to help
others streamline things in their lives or make them better, it’s usually none
of my damn business and I get to practice holding my tongue and trusting they’re on their own path. But, luckily, here, it very literally is my business, and so, I’m going to get to organize
and streamline, and “correct” what’s really silly.
That’s part of the advantage of coming in to a new place,
you see things that other people haven’t noticed, really, in years. Why do you
click these three things instead of this one? Oh, I don’t know, it’s just how I
was trained, so that’s how I do it. Why is there an old, dusty dead Foreman
grill in the kitchen – does anyone use it? I don’t know, it’s just always been
there. WHY do you print off paper
calendars of the entire year for the weekly staff meeting that barely get
glanced at, and then thrown away?… So, I do get to come in, with fresh eyes,
and be like, whoa, uh, this is stupid.
That said, there are going to be a lot of advantages to this
job that are not monetary. There’s a pre-school, and this week, the little kids
were getting their intro week, so I got to see all these two and three year
olds come in the front door, all nervous or excited. I got to encourage them.
There’s a very sweet, wise-ass kid studying for his Bar Mitzvah who comes to
hang out almost daily with the youth group advisor, so we get to wise-ass at
each other. There’s a piano in the chapel off the main sanctuary that once I
get keys, I was told absolutely, I could come in there and play during lunch.
It’s not a bank. That’s an advantage. It’s a synagogue. This
means people coming in looking to volunteer; retirees looking at the gift shop
for cards or mezuzahs. Kids coming for Hebrew school; adults coming for Torah
study. It’s a community that I’m getting to become a part of. And that’s not
something every job has at all.
Even though, I’ll tell you, I was highly disappointed that I
didn’t get the Marketing job I wanted, (and I got a letter from the IRS this
week saying that I owe them money from 2010, likely because I didn’t report my
student loan money properly), this isn’t going to be that bad. Am I still going
to be living a bit meagerly? Likely. It’s not a high paying position in the
slightest. Is it more than minimum wage? Yes. Am I waiting tables? No. Am I
making sales calls all day, like one of the jobs I interviewed for? No.
It could be worse. And, it can only get better, I suppose.
Mostly, I am glad that my stress hormones are in retreat.
Returning to normal, without the barely contained underground river of how
am I going to pay my bills???
I slept
almost the whole day yesterday. It’s like, with the stress in retreat, the
whole system floods with a great big PAUSE, system shutting down now, crisis
averted. Yesterday I woke up, ate breakfast, thought about going to the farmer’s market,
and climbed back into bed, waking up 4 hours later. Took another mini nap
after trips to the library and grocery store, cooked dinner, watched a dvd, and went to bed at a decent time.
I needed it. Obviously. I’ve been stressed, man.
In that/this period, though, I’ve also started to do some
other things. I’ve begun to soak my own chickpeas to make hummus from scratch.
I’ve begun to marinate tofu so that I can bake it. I bought quinoa from the
bulk section at a way cheaper price than anything packaged. All of these
organic, all of them cheaper than buying ready packed or ready made.
I’ve really enjoyed doing this. Experimenting with different
flavors in the hummus, roasted red pepper (jarred, but one day, maybe my own),
garlic, pine nuts, lemon. Using the tofu marinade to pour onto veggies I’ve
steamed to go with them. I’m getting healthier in my eating habits. More
interested, and more creative. Part of that creativity was borne of necessity, the need to buy things cheaper
as money has run out during these months of unemployment.
Coffee is no longer in my cabinets. This makes me awfully
sad. But, it’s not good for me, so I’ve been reading, so it’s going the way of
the dodo. That, I will miss. But it’s not like coffee’s moved to England, and
I’ll never see it again. I did, indeed, get some decaf with some caf this week.
There’s just nothing quite like the texture of coffee.
One place I had coffee was at the poetry reading on
Thursday, at which I read my rather explicit new poems. I didn’t preface them
by saying the experiences described were mostly not current, which I sort of
wish I’d said, as what will people THINK of me??, but it all went well. I got good feedback on my work. The words
“bold,” “brave,” and “funny” were thrown around. I’m glad I read the work, even
though I was nervous about it. Every time I perform, it makes me want to do it
more, and again.
I wasn’t able to “get it together” to make broadsides of the
poem I wanted to, but there will be time for that. I had a few other things on
my mind this week!
All in all, it was a highly emotional week. The anticipation
of whether I was going to get the job I wanted. Interviewing for it at 9:30pm Sunday night via Skype and finding out at 11pm that I hadn’t gotten it (the other girl had more “proven experience”). Waking up
Monday morning, knowing I was about to accept a job that has the same title and
pay rate as a job I accepted 5 years ago. Calling a friend to ask if I could ask them for more money. Crying, mourning the loss of where I think I ought to be, and
what I ought to be doing. The loss of my ability to save on any significant
level so that I might move back East some time this century.
And then calling to ask for more money, not getting what I
asked, but a token amount more than what they offered. The new chaos of
commuting to a new job. The first few days of a job when everyone is still
evaluating you. The knowledge dump into my brain from the girl whose job I’m
taking and training with. The highly anticipated poetry reading where I was
bold and brave and scared as fuck. And the crash, like air let out of a
balloon, a deflating of all the energy, worry, and stress as I crashed out
yesterday.
There are still going to be challenges, of course. This is a new job. There’s a lot to continue to learn, and
the girl I’m replacing leaves on Thursday. I still
do have some financial issues to contend with like the
IRS letter, and the fact that I don’t get paid till the 15th. But,
by the way, I did sell my electric guitar and the amp for the price I never
thought I would get (thank g-d for asking for help). So, it will be ok. But, I
still feel deflated. I’m going to need time to bulk back up and refuel to normal
functioning levels.
Til then, and in order to get there, I will TRY
to be kind to myself. Get out of my head, and my own problems. And be grateful, if even for a moment, that I am finally employed at a job that is far from atrocious. 

coffee · friendship · gratitude · growth · healing · poetry · receiving

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

As I sit across the wide wooden table, slightly wobbly, with
“world music” of some kind emitting from corner speakers, my friend holds out her hand, lays her palm up, crisp milky white against waxed mottled mahogany, and I take it. She places her other hand atop our pile of digits,
cocooning them, warming them as tears make unbidden trails through the
invisible down of my cheeks and under the hollow of my jaw.
action · balance · coffee · finances · persistence · poetry · responsibility · school

Hunkering Down & No Drastic Movements

These were two things Patsy said to me this morning – to
hunker down in school work mode – which I have actually diligently done today –
you can check out the most recent installation of my poetry thesis on the MVD
page (it’s 9 poems, laid out to sort of make sense as a mini-collection). I
have to meet with my thesis advisor tomorrow for our second meeting.
At our first, she said, “over produce and cut back.” So, I
got paralyzed by that(!), and blundered along writing my poem-a-week for my
workshop class, and that’s pretty much what I’ve got. But, today, I did sit in
a café with ALL the comments from my peers and professor, and sifted through
it all. I copied the comments I liked onto my master copy, making my own
new edits, with fresh eyes and some space from having written them.
Just now, I put them all into one document and edited the
hell out of them. And in very much likelihood, they still need or want work –
it’s like a painting, or a recipe – sometimes you’re not sure there’s something
missing till you add salt, and suddenly it comes alive – poetry is like that –
there can be one thing somehow off by a degree. But also, people’s barometers
are calibrated differently 😛
But, it’s done, for tomorrow’s purposes at least, so that’s
one huge thing off my mind/plate.
As to “No Drastic Movements”, Patsy suggested that perhaps
this week of all weeks (the 2nd to last one of school when I am so
aggrievedly badly procrastinatorily overworkedly behind), perhaps I shouldn’t:
break the 6 months silence with my mom; look at ads on craigslist for SF
apartments; look at ads for hybrid cars; flagellate myself for going over my monthly spending plan; or do
any other such thing as would be drastic.
This week at least 😉
Despite the fact that I am over my spending plan for this
month (an interminable month, if you’re
looking at it through my financial numbers; though staggering to realize it’s
nearly December!), I am in need of groceries. So, today on my way out of the
city, I bought myself a pound of coffee. I still need to get to the real
grocery store over here and stock up, but it felt like, SO THE FUCK WHAT – YOU
NEED TO EAT – GO BUY SOMETHING silly girl, for christ’s sake. Martyrdom is
way overrated. And I’m really f’ing sure that not having
any groceries is not what this whole “financially solvent” thing is about.
Yes – I bought clothing that wasn’t in my
plan (work appropriate! Though I did turn away from the oh so
sinfully supple black leather jacket at Bloomingdales) – and I also bought
myself a facial yesterday, because I’m exhausted and needed the recharge. I
knew these weren’t in the plan – but I earned more than I anticipated this
month …
However, I know that
pattern of my behavior – it looks like, Eh, a little more won’t hurt –
it’s self care,
or
it’s my friend’s favorite color,
or
so what, my dvd from the library is two weeks overdue. …
And then finally, it once again looks like an empty fridge
without the finances to refill it. It always looks like that in the end. I know
that place.
So, here I am, seeing it early – “Awareness, Acceptance,
Action,” right? But, I am also self-flagellating ;P
I’m a little punch-drunk from staring at my poetry and
reading the rest of The Tempest today,
so I’m signing off.
Lastly though, I did all
of my dishes this morning. And, really, that counts for something.

coffee · dating · integrity · love · self-care · sex

Sex of Rockstar and Death Rattle Varieties

Tomorrow I go on a b l i n d date. As in I really have no
idea what the guy I’m meeting looks like. He’s a friend of an acquaintance who emailed me on facebook to go out to coffee, and his photo is one of those
cartoon/sketches of a photo – and the rest of his photos are private.
That said, I have to be in the city tomorrow anyway – I have
mild suspicion about the suitability of this person judging from my
conversation with our mutual acquaintance – and he may or may not have an
addiction to adderall – but that’s based on circumstantial evidence – or that’s
the term they’d use on t.v.
And secondly, in favor of coffee with a stranger, why not?
It’s good to keep my dating muscles toned or at least not atrophied – my last was a date a few months ago with a near-friend. You know, that person you run in to
at shows or gatherings and always seem to flirt with obscurely in one of those
“*wink* we’re totally flirting but so totally covert about it that I’m not
actually sure if we are but I think we are and isn’t this charged ambiguity
totally exciting” kind of ways (!) – but one or the other is always in a
relationship, or you don’t want to ruin the quasi-friendship with the quagmire
of sex, or neuroses.
My date with the quasi-friend went well, but in terms of
continued romanticism, it was a case of mutual “i don’t think this is gonna
work” and luckily we both said as much a few days later, and so we still get to
be friends.
So, tomorrow’ll be my second date in … a lot of months. It’s
cool. I have a pretty good idea that I’m marinating – getting seasoned for the
right time. – I almost wrote “right now” – which is also true – as I’ve said
before, I tend to believe that once I have x y or z in place, I’ll be really
ready to be in a relationship. But, I got out of a long term one in January
that had a few death rattle trysts through August, so until I was ready to stop
beating a dead horse – or beating off an ex – just kidding – I haven’t really
been available to date anyway.
Although, about a month ago, around the time I started doing
the Calling in The One exercises, along with the Cousin contacting me out of
the deep blue, an old SF fling contacted me to say what’s up. It’s a good thing
I’m convincedly sure he’s a bad idea, because, have.mercy. that sex was awesome.
He and I “saw” each other for about a month about two years ago, and it was
like the kind of stuff you read about or see in “movies” or just fantasize
about – I actually said to him, Do you ever forget how great sex can be? (He
said no.)
But, alas, said hipster (who really wanted me to wear his
torn skinny jeans and loved that my dishware was all in some “state of decay” [I’ve recently tossed all chipped dishware…]) is not a viable option for me –
rockstar sex or not. Well, not right now at least. 
abundance · action · coffee · finances · love · self-care

Asian Hipster Abundance

This morning as I was trudging up from the dungeon of Montgomery Street BART, there was an asian hipster dude a few paces in front of me,
and he’s bobbin to his music, and then he’s really swaggering it, and then he
begins to bark out some phrases, and then he begins to clap with wide arm
gestures. With every increasing jaunt of his, my smile begins to get wider, and
I follow him for about a block or so, smiling to myself as a few short stints
of sunlight shine through the buildings onto my face. And I ask myself to
remember this feeling – at least for a little while.
I’m now working 3 days a week in SF as a temp at an interior
design firm. And sometimes it’s sort of cool, and I’m looking at massive design
books of ridiculously fancy homes and touching pretty fabrics from a new line –
but mostly, it’s the same admin work any admin anywhere does – cataloguing,
entering, organizing … mind-numbing, I think my eyes are bleeding work.
That said, I’m tremendously grateful to have this job.
Firstly, the people are quite excellent – at a former temp job, I had a very
“that’s my stapler” cubicle tenant adjacent to mine, and it was always a fine
line between being immensely entertained and alarmed – particularly when the
continuous murmuring monologue included sudden bouts of loud expletives.
Secondly, I’m a graduate student, living off student loans with absolutely zero
savings, and much like unemployment, student loans pay you almost enough, but really not enough. Well, not enough for
a studio apartment in the Bay Area at least – which, yes, was a conscious
choice I made rather than have roommates.
And so, when this temp job was offered to me, despite also
being a full-time student, it was like manna from heaven. I worked with this
company over the summer – it was like manna then too – and they asked for me
back. So, I’m back. I’m also babysitting, catering, and … well, yeah, that’s
it for now (although artist’s model auditions come up in January again – I
missed them last time. I auditioned with a different company once before and it
wasn’t as weird as it was simply difficult to remain super still for 20
minutes!)
So, suffice it to say that today, after a few mind numbing
hours in front of a computer screen, it was hard for me to maintain the jaunty
optimism of the asian hipster, but I’m glad to remember him and his yellow
backpack right now.
I’ve been tracking my income and expenses much more closely,
but with purpose, since August. Prior to that, about a year or more ago, I
started to track my expenses, but just got pissed at myself that I was spending
so much money on coffee. And thinking self-flagellation was not a mile-marker
on the road to serenity, and not really having any idea what to do with that
information, I stopped keeping track. But, then it was August, and I’m
contemplating ramen, canned tuna, and an empty fridge – again – it was time to address
this – again. So, I reached out to people who do this sort of thing (this
frighteningly adult sort of thing) called “having clarity around finances”, and
started to keep my numbers again. ~ and I was amused to note that in August, I
spent $8.00 on coffee. Not the omigoditmustbelike$100 paranoid number I’d
imagined!
After tracking my expenses, I work with these folks to create a spending plan. It was
surprising to learn from my friends that I was “underspending” aka depriving
myself in all sorts of categories like food, clothing, and personal items
(apparently $1.34 a month-for a toothbrush-is not an act of self care!). And
so, I’ve begun spending within my newly clarified means – confirming abundance, and also confirming the
fact that I actually *do* have this money. I just haven’t known where it is, or
where it goes, hence my whole “binge and purge” financial routine.
The advanced part of this exercise is the income plan. This means that yes, YAY! I get to buy
the fancy shampoo that is kind to my chemically straightened hair (bad idea), but
that I have to earn the appropriate income to support a habit of self-care. And
I
like this new habit of
self-care – this month I actually added in a category, modest though it is, for
flowers. And there they are, right here on my desk. 🙂
So, yes, I work in a job that is more exhausting by how sedentary it is, and yes,  I
woke up this morning at 6am to write a paper and went directly from work to
class until 9:30pm tonight, but a) it won’t always be like this, b) I’m grooving
patterns of responsibility and evenness (not the mania of “how am I going to
pay my rent???”), and c) … well, I really like coffee.