I know to be true. I know that, up or down, since I left my home at the age of
23 I have always had a safe place to live. Everything else in my life — job,
money, friendships, romance — can be in upheaval, but no matter what continent,
coast or city I find myself in, I manage to find a safe and comfortable place to
needs is a rucksack and he’s fine.
life. I have this assumption, this belief and history to back it up, that I
will always be taken care of on the home front.
it up that even though I don’t know how, financially, I always do land of my
feet. But that usually it takes a long while, and the outcome of that is not
always what I want to be doing, but I am eventually safe there, too, even if a little battle-weary.
assumptions: I don’t know how to live a balanced life. I don’t know how to
have a relationship. Or how to earn enough to support myself in a field I love.
I then have is entitlement.
been doing lately, finally moving on past the section on amending
relationships in my life, and in my prior writings and inventory work, I read that entitlement around jobs comes up virulently.
entitlement is an outcome of hopelessness. I can’t, I don’t know how, I’ll fuck
it up – you do it for me. You make it work.
my despairing fears have dissipated since I began that inventory work over 6
months ago. Some of the same haranguing thoughts about my own ability to speak
up for myself, to follow my dreams, to do things I don’t know how to do have
been challenged since the time I’ve written them.
make a go of this acting thing, I’ve been in 4 plays. That doubles the number
I’ve been in since 2006. I made a decision and followed it up with action. I
didn’t really know what I was doing. I took a few classes at Berkeley Rep that
I didn’t find altogether transforming; I found a proper headshot photographer;
I replied to audition calls.
essay tutoring work, because I don’t know how to do it.
then it will. It’ll just happen.
“surrender,” you want me to let go of my plans because my ideas are limited by
my fears? Sure – here, you have it. You
drag me along into the life I want to have.
that make me feel secure. I have other beliefs about my life, like my earnings,
that make me feel uncertain and hopeless.
continue to reinforce them both. I am blind to the changes that occur in and
around me when it comes to perpetuating my negative beliefs.
the success of following a dream, I really have to acknowledge that I don’t have to do things the same way, right? I
really do have to let myself see
that I’m not as helpless as some part of me wants to believe, right? I do have
to accept that I’m not as broken as I want to believe, right?
which causes me to stagnate and become paralyzed against action. The work is to
see that positive beliefs exist within me, and to let those fuel my action
toward my next place.
deficient, or despairing. I am only short-sighted.
stopped to pick up lunch and a drink before I returned to my final afternoon at my job.
behind me rifled through his pocket, and out fell a green Crayola marker.
Without a cap.
teachers. I took the risk.
question on the face of my earth:
know one another. It’s a function of the desire to orient and locate you on the web of
society and potential commonality: What do you do for a living?
me from dating. Because what people are asking is not simply where are you
employed, (to me) it’s asking if you are
employed, what your social status might be, what your interests are, what your
value of your self is.
has been, I’m a glorified secretary.
they’ve replied, you don’t have you put it like that. You are a marketing
specialist, you are in customer service, you are an executive assistant, an
education administrator. You support the people who make things happen, you run
offices, you hire and fire people, organize office events, facilitate publications. You reconcile expense reports.
haven’t felt comfortable telling others that’s what I do for a living.
I do as not good enough for me. Because I feel that it doesn’t speak to all
that I am as a person, and surely, answering that one question for anyone is never an indication of who they are as a whole.
while chained to a computer desk. I get condescended to and underestimated. I have the copy machine repair man on speed
person. It’s stuff I can do, but it’s not all of me.
that question more lightly, because I’ve only had one answer to that question
for a very long time, and it’s never spoken to who I am as a person. So maybe I
can be more open-minded toward others whose answers don’t titillate me.
know that I haven’t been able to budge my relationship to mine, no matter how
much work on “self-acceptance” and “perspective” and “gratitude” I’ve done. And so, the only thing to do is to
change my answer, not my relationship to it. Yet.
my eyes, and asked me what I did, I was able to answer easily, truthfully,
and proudly: I’m a teacher, too.
it’s a start!)
not to pay rent, you face those results. If you choose to pay, that has
different results. But it’s still a choice; you do have power here: where would you
rather spend your money?
money, and back at the beginning of some work around my relationship to money,
being broke, struggling, restrict & binging (aka depriving & then overspending).
Every year and a half into a job that I didn’t enjoy, I would begin to feel
frantic. Trapped. Manic. Suicidal. How can I make it stop?, I’d
would do what I thought made sense: Quit the job.
much. Except send me back into a different kind of mania and frenzy – now I
had nothing, no savings, no job, and no plan. Three times in the last 8 years,
I ended up with less than $5.00 in my bank account.
the nick of time. But it would be one job same as the other job same as the
diligent. I would reach out to people before I would quit. I would do
informational interviews, and send out tentative resumes. I would look on
craigslist for “creative” jobs, but would somehow end up at an ad posted by a foot fetishist…
not sit in front of a computer all day, I thought. – Well, almost anything.
folks who are trying to claw their way out of the pit of debt, financial worry,
self-abandonment. Because, in the end, I’ve learned, it’s a function of self-worth.
had hopes for me I couldn’t imagine at all. Buying a car to get me to auditions
and band practice, being a big one. Not me. Not people like me. I’m a fuck-up.
I ruin things. I’m broke. Hello?!
conceived of. And 6 months later, I put a down payment on a car.
rosy scene it seems.
gotta get outta this job. I’m dying here! GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
again arose the suicidal ideation, because how else can I get out of this
pattern. I am doing all this work, I have a car now, I’m doing shit, but I HATE
MY JOB. I will never end this cycle, and I can’t quit again.
think it would be different this time. It’s insane to throw myself back into
the cycle. IT’S NOT THE SAME. IT CAN’T BE THE SAME. I don’t have to be the same…
texting and calling friends in TEARS, unable to see out of this hole. Telling
them, please please PLEASE help me not to quit today. That I see the insanity of this. That I can’t go down that path
again. That I don’t want to detonate my life again.
fridge and my gas tank. That doesn’t
mean that I have to do the kind of work I’m doing for the rest of my life, but for
right now! for this minute!, it does.
uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had, through that pain and frustration and ire
and hopelessness and despair, because others told me that it would pass, because they told me to read the chapter on Withdrawal, because they told me they believed that I could find another way if I just held
tight…. I got the chance to drive a car with a tank of gas and belly full of
food to an audition and land a role. I got to show up for the things that give me zest and zeal
and love and joy.
worst anguish I know. And I came to the other side of it.
don’t want to do different work. It doesn’t mean I enjoy my job any more than I
did. But it means that it’s not my whole world. And by allowing myself to sit
still, I am available for the other things that feed me. Like groceries.
don’t really know what will come on the other side. Except, today, play with my band, tomorrow theater rehearsal, and Monday, a photo shoot.
of not having any money and a frenzy of trying to find work. I don’t like that I have to show up and adjust margins for a
something very truth-y in my morning journaling, my handwriting becomes
name on a grain of rice, I find myself getting really tiny with my words – and that’s when I know I’ve struck
something important. Shh, don’t say it too loud or it might whisk off the page.
therapist I’m still seeing. Despite my doubts before every time I go, I always
leave laughing that I doubted). We hadn’t seen one another for about a month
due to schedules, so I had a lot to catch her up on.
options available to me in dating land. Like Goldilocks, I’d experienced the
too hot, the too cold, but have yet to find the “just right.” I mentioned this
yesterday because I was talking about my job search. I told her that as I was
driving over last night, I realized that it’s not that I don’t have any options
available to me in job land – it’s that I refuse to commit to one path.
“refused” or something else. And, surely, it is fear and paralyzation.
Doors. If you haven’t seen the movie, the
premise is based on Gwenyth Paltrow in one version of her life catching a
subway train before the doors shut; in another version, she misses that train.
At that point in the movie, we follow both these lives and their divergent challenges and
successes (and haircuts).
a leader, an organizer, a bringer-together-er.
directly one-on-one with the populations I want to serve, particularly youth.
any indication of truth, then the third one’s the charm.”
the most vulnerability, the most action, the most fortitude, and… the most uncertainty.
perhaps there’s another way.
with performance, starting with that Yoshi’s singer I mentioned yesterday.
Starting with that dream.
don’t let myself dream. It came up a few times yesterday when I had to correct
my “Yeah, But”s to “Yes, AND”s.
I get buried under a mountain of “Yeah, But”s. I don’t think I need to list
them for you, since I’m sure you have your own bevy that attack your own
of the session that I feel like my whole life has been an exercise in “Yeah,
But.” And she told me that that is changing; that I am changing it.
something I thought of after I came home yesterday that actually knocked the wind out of me. What I wrote
in the miniscule, micro-truth script:
will rearrange itself to help us.
viscerally were the words I’ve heard repeated for years: When we take one step
toward (G-d / Fate / the Universe / our Highest Good), it takes a thousand
will be helped. I won’t have to do this alone, because, “When the student is
ready, the teacher appears.”
actually heard and felt and believed it. It was a moment of belief.
heard this for years.
and too late, and this is for other people and other lives, and what are you
thinking of me right now as you read this and are you doubting me and rolling
your eyes, and how, and how and how.
the “What.” I only have to hold on to my dream. That’s my only job right now –
to not go back to sleep, to not abandon my dream, again. To not continue to break promises to myself. To not
drown myself in those fears and doubts. Because I am trying to live
my truth. And all this wisdom says that’s
all I need to do.
people in these professions, gathering intel, honing my vision, practicing and
learning the fuck out of it AND remembering that the pain of avoiding all this
is SO MUCH GREATER than the pain of trying to do it.)
perform onstage in dive bars? And at Yoshi’s? And be a lounge singer? You want
to feel proud and full and felt and heard?
when I would apply to graduate school for creative writing in poetry. It would
be two years from then when I would take my first oil painting class at that
college and start writing my daily blog.
my friend would become a flight attendant, and ask me if I wanted to escape winter and my chemo treatments and go to Hawaii for cheap.
the invitation to be a part of the band my friend had been asking me to join
for years, and actually use the bass I’d bought for $5 when I was 19. And not
long from then, I would begin auditioning and taking acting classes, and eventually be cast in a play.
yet are the mural and the creative job.
it would still be very cool to do.
flux, in process.
would come to pass have all come to
pass? I could never have imagined when I wrote that list that I would actually be in a band, or be able to go to Hawaii. Those were
the gifts and “rewards” of successful, other people. But, some part of me has
always believed that I can be one, or they wouldn’t have been in the box.
painted! I wrote! I acted! I vacationed! WHOOP! Look at me, enjoying a life (in spite of my self).
list has come to pass except the last one, then there must be hope that even
that can come to pass as well.
in the efficacy of asking for help, not doing it alone, but doing it. Eventually.
with nearly $90,000 in student loan debt and sent me into a recovery program
around my relationship to money and scarcity. I should mention that my airline
friend offered me the trip to Hawaii because I needed a break from cancer. And that I only finally reached back out to my
friend with the band as I was sitting alone and bald in my apartment, listening to a CD,
and busted out crying because I wanted to be a part of something like that –
because I didn’t want to be taken from the chance to have that in my life.
“easy way,” is my point. It took a lot of work, help, reaching out, despair,
action, pleading, and god damned willing it to be.
chosen this route to getting these items checked off, and yet, here I sit
elated that so many of them have been. They say that it’s the journey not the
destination, but these journeys sucked. The routes to getting here, to crossing
off these accomplishments that have brought me joy, were really horrible, scary, and
of the benevolence and efficacy of the path that brought me here.
to crossing off the last item on this list – “my creative job” – to be as
arduous as the roads before it. It is true that sometimes we don’t have a
choice, and choices are made for us, but I feel today that I do have a choice
on whether I want to struggle toward this final goal, whatever the
circumstances, or if I want to acquiesce toward it. Maybe not even “acquiesce,”
but move with joy. I mean I have a whole list of accomplishments to buoy this
part of my journey, right?
Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
told me a few weeks ago. Trying to figure out if she could go back east
for a family reunion and see her great-aunt probably for the last time. To
figure out if she should bring her kids, even though she couldn’t afford it.
Trying to figure out who would take care of them if she went, because “he”
The kids’ other grandmother would be happy to come up and stay with them, it read. No
the energy we put into feeling terrible about things.
friends how she’d found a house in the town she wanted to be in because of its school system for her son. I hadn’t heard this part yet. Only how pained she’d been in the
looking, months and months of looking. Fearing, wondering.
the house on Thursday, and on Friday, signed the lease.
school she wanted to be in? $800 a
Each little piece of it having fallen firmly into miraculous and perfect place.
Each need met, better than anticipated. And “right on time.”
resolutions that worked out in her favor. Eventually.
present hidden behind its back. “Oooh… Look how upset she is that she has
nothing, that nothing’s coming out right – She’s gonna be SO BOMBED when I show
her what I have for her!! What I’ve had for her this whole time — Ha! It’s
gonna be AWESOME!”
“miraculously.” It’s that she had been reaching out for help, grasping at any
straws, and finally, some of those straws bore fruit (to mix metaphors).
at feeling abandoned by the Universe, lost in this HUGE transition in her life, she was asking for help. She
was taking action.
produced the miracles… to my mind, at least.
when people have things to say. (Even if I’ve heard their advice or platitudes
before and are silently telling them to shut it.)
wondering and flailing and floundering. In short, I am feeling just as she was.
least I, want to make sense of
everything, even the things that don’t. So, I know that I want to make meaning
out of her story, make it into a tale of heroic action and divine
end I get a flock of sheep, too.
Look. I know this sounds like a lot of self-obsessed, self-centered bullshit. I know this isn’t Rwanda, or even East Oakland. I know that no matter what happens, I’ll likely have clean water to drink.
I suppose, having always been a late bloomer, I just am getting an advanced jump on the whole mid-life crisis thing.
I think the argument with authenticity is an important one to have. I think the screamings of a soul that feels trapped is an important one to answer. I get that that looks like a lot of navel-gazing sometimes, and I get the pain all that staring causes in my neck.
But I just want to say that I see both sides, here. I see that I have it immensely “better” than a hundred million people around me. I get that my life is infinitely better than it was 10 years ago.
But, I also have the capacity to listen to myself at a level that I have never been keen enough to hear before.
Last night, someone recommended I read the chapter on Withdrawal in a 12-step book. I did. This “not quitting my job without having another one lined up” thing IS withdrawal for me. It’s causing me pain. It’s causing me to act out. It’s causing me to have conversations and intrigue with inappropriate people, and to eat enough cupcakes to stock a shop.
I’m in pain, and it comes out here. This is my place. I feel badly about putting it up so that you have to read daily about it. But, you don’t have to read. And I don’t have to feel.
And yet. Here we both are. Xo.m