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.
Answering the Caterpillar.
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!)
The Bomb Squad.
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?
Men at Work.
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.
"We Need Back-up!"
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
1 + 1 = Forgiveness?
My dad trying to explain to me a concept that was assumed, understood, and so
ingrained for him by now that he couldn’t
explain it properly, and his getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand what
for him was plain and evident.
I had to do this homework so I had to sit with him. And eventually, we’d become locked
in a battle of wills so contentious, we’d end up screaming at each other.
We call this 4th grade.
going through chemo treatment and my dad was unable to show up for me, that
what I was asking my dad to do (show up emotionally) was like asking a crippled
person to walk: It’s impossible. It’s unfair, and it’s presumptive.
concepts, the ease and obviousness and facility he had with numbers, I have about emotional matters. I simply assume that because this is something so damned simple and easy for me, even
when it’s painful, that everyone
should be able to do this.
shaming someone for something they are not able to do.
voicemail from Father’s Day, I have found that I want to do what I always want
to do: Hash it out. EXPLAIN to him what
is so obvious to me: I needed you to show up for me, and you didn’t. In fact,
you blamed me for not being attentive to your needs. And you threw in my face every time
I’ve failed in my life as if that would manipulate me into realizing, once
again, you’re the savior and I’m the fuck-up.
because then, of course, he’ll be able to hear it and understand it.
understand that his behavior across the years has been abominable at many times,
and that I don’t like to be in touch with him because of it. That I don’t trust
him because of it.
calculators and pie charts of his behavior and your feelings of hurt and
betrayal as you choose. You can even make a PowerPoint presentation about how
his increased anger and violence was inversely proportionate to your trust of
used the one to figure out a percentage this morning. Somewhere between the
yelling and the tears and the slammed books and doors, I did learn something.
But what was the price of that education?
person. It just is. Just as a paraplegic, my asking him to do what he is
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unable to do is unfair of me. My expectations on him won’t make him walk.
times. But, today, I do have a choice between struggling to opening his mind, or to simply let him be a cripple and relate to him as such. Because it seems like the person who
needs to learn something is not my dad (someone I have no control over). The
person who needs to learn empathy here, soy yo.
who’d understand. I asked them to help me not quit my job that day; that for me
quitting without a safety net is equivalent to drinking; that I was at the end
of my rope.
acquainted with but who I admire, and she offered that if I called her, we
could pray together. Sure, what else have I got?
is common around, but instead, she launched into a several-minute long prayer
personal to and about me. In it she said, to me and to the ether, that this job
is just a recreation of my childhood trauma and neglect, and to help me see
that and heal that. She said many other loving things, but this is the part that
has been sending shock-waves through me the last few days.
mirrors or recreations of older, historical relationships. It’s been clear that
my acceptance and pursuit of jobs that make me want to cry with frustration
over the hemorrhaging of my time is a pattern of low self-worth and despair.
“aha” moment if you will (not gag) – as I listened to my friend’s prayer. How
is my job a recreation of my home life
public library, with a small backpack filled with maybe an apple and a
sweatshirt. But at 7 or 8 years old, I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a
place to go, there was no where to go. And so I defeatedly walked back home,
and slipped into my house, where no one noticed I’d been gone anyway, just like
the time before.
was an unstable force that expected perfection, meekness, and to be obeyed; and
finally, all of my most basic needs were met. I was fed, clothed, and housed —
anything else was bonus, not to be asked for and not to be expected.
interpretation and internalization of a small person with a brain that analyzes
and makes judgment.)
recreation of this initial home environment?
confines of my environment and the yearnings of my soul, that I quit. I quit
without a safety net. I quit with nowhere to go.
find another underearning, underbeing, dissatisfying, deadening, useless position
that also meets my very basic needs and has a few coworkers to be my allies.
being not to quit. Not to start the cycle again without a plan – without
someplace to go. Without someplace to go that is “right,” that is safe, that is
not running from the frying pan into the fire.
another job or enough savings to carry me through to another job – is tantamount to drinking. And as a sober alcoholic,
that’s a pretty serious parallel. It is deadly for me to do this again: I eventually begin to think about driving into oncoming traffic. It is insane for me to do this again and expect that in any way
it would be different than before.
informational interviewing, praying, meditating, and begging known to me to try to “conjure” or land on or decide or realize or discover
what the job, the career, for my life should be. And I have landed on nothing.
I am absolutely blocked in this area of dreaming.
I’ll fuck it up anyway, which amounts to the same thing?
are the kind of people who try to get away with doing the least work.
way of being, and asked, Well, what about workaholics?
of work necessary than eat sand, and asked her about it.
the routes are very opposite, the motivation and the fear is the same for both
“underearners/under-be-ers” and for workaholics: Things are not going to work
out; I’m not going to be okay.
least) is that whatever it is is not going to work out anyway, so why try? Why
give the world the satisfaction of seeing me put effort in, if it’s only going
to turn to shit?
out. I must make sure that I’m doing everything possible, or it will turn to
not be favorable to us. On the one hand, why try to make it work – on the other hand, make
outcome of things, or in an outcome that is unfavorable but doesn’t demoralize
and crush us into smitherines. Because,
for me, that’s the final stage of the fear – I will be so demoralized, I will be
running away. And although I cannot conjure or envision for myself a job or
career that I want, I do think that I
can try to envision for myself a safe home.
a kid: My own small room that was safe, filled with things I’ve made and pretty
things, a place I could hide, be myself, and a place where I was mostly alone.
place, not like this isolation? Where would I want to run away to?
what an ideal safe home looks like, I will begin to have movement on the job
front. I will begin to create that environment I crave in the external world. And though that might not mean a lightning bolt in terms of a career
choice, it may help to make whatever my next transition is one that I don’t
have to run away from.
the “Gold/Coal” job tomorrow morning. Going in as I felt at the moment I was
reflecting, hunch-shouldered, weary. Why do you want this job, they’d ask? For
the money, I’d bite into a lie that would instead say something about
supporting the education of children, though I would have zero direct influence
in that education.
painted for display.
always seem to forget: I am a witch.
know who are, I do not fold into a box of forget-me-yes’s.
force, that I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to subsume my person. I don’t
have to abandon myself.
would create them.
and taking care of me like I had nothing to give them in this world, I hosted my workshop. My
workshop called, Creativity and Spirituality. I sat for an afternoon with 5 women,
and helped them find something in themselves they’d lost or thought they had to
abandon. I am a witch. I am a healer.
shoulders, and roll over dead for anyone, including for the spite and ire and bile
in my brain sometimes.
my journaling and meditation with a smile of confidence I haven’t had in a bit. The smile itself may wane, but I hope that the centering thought does
waned. For years now, I’ve eventually come back to that centering truth that I am not powerless and I am not worthless. Sometimes it takes longer than
others. But after seriously considering this morning whether I should go on meds, something else happened. The bottom dropped out of my
short-sightedness, and I remembered that I am not as narrow or narrowly defined
as a drone, the drone I’m trying to prove to someone else they want to hire me
is it running my workshop again just to get some spiritual juice flowing, is it
looking back into working with kids in a direct way, revisiting my idea for an
after-school program for them?
it because that stability could finance further education. I’ll do it because I
show up to things and never know how they’ll turn out.
mercilessly after work while waiting for the unfailingly 45-minute late bus,
after earning a master’s degree through words and performance that I created,
after accepting what I thought I had to at the moment (and perhaps did) – and one
month later developed cancer … Unlike then, I seem to be remembering that I
have power. That I don’t need to accept a life sentence of menial work, or define myself under such disparagement.
happening again. Once again applying to things I don’t want because I want to afford healthy food and visit my mom in New York. Once again, I’m poking around the internet half-heartedly saying, yeah, sure, I can answer your phone and type up your emails. I can hack away my power so you can look good. …
light in pursuit of “stability” can cause repercussions of atomic scale, it is
top of mind to not allow myself to shrink into that dull, flatlined human
who trudged her death march to Muni every morning.
witch. Then she would put on high heels.