Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PSA: I'm alive.

Hi. I'm not dead or anything. So that's a bonus. 

Let's see.... things are not really improving money-wise as I so eloquently described in my last post, but talking about money makes me feel pathetic and boring and also veeeeeeery panicky, so I'm going to distract myself with another topic. I will say this, though: 1. I AM currently gainfully employed, thank the deity of your choice. I serve dinner at a retirement community and it's fast-paced and sassy, so basically right up my alley. If only it paid more than minimum wage. 2. If you commented or emailed me about my last post thank you SO much. You have no idea how much it means/meant to me. I send handshakes and high fives out to you. 3. I am not yet homeless. Check back with me in five days and I may be singing a different tune, but at least for now, I've got a roof over my head. And a really comfy bed. And apparently I can rhyme/jest about my dire situation, so at least I've still got that. And my health. For now. 

The first semester of my grad school experience is in its last few weeks, which means there is a ton of shit I need to get done and I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but kind of in a good way. Although thinking of literal chickens with no heads running around really freaks me out. I plan on holing up in my apartment this weekend with three gallons of Kool-Aid, a load of bread, and a pound each of butter and cheese so I can just crank out four or five papers. Partially because that's all the food I can afford and partially because that's what I'd honestly eat anyway. 

Just gotta avoid Netflix, that temptress minx.

I just can't state enough how I'm honestly amazed with my life in most ways. Amazed with how much I've learned, with how little I now cringe at seeing myself on camera and listening to myself talk, with how eager I am to hear how I can improve. I do not have a history of taking criticism with grace or dignity and I cannot bear to hear myself speak. I'm amazed with the colossally fantastic community I am building here, and the support I give and get within it on a daily (or more like moment-to-moment) basis. Shit gets intense. The idea of community is such a core value for me and I didn't realize how much it was truly missing until I moved to a funky little town in the mountains with these people that overwhelm me with their chemistry and empathy and joy and hilarity. 

There are these moments I have had during the course of my life sometimes, rarely, when I look around feel I am a part of, or in the midst of something special and unique, a moment in history that will never be replicated in pose. The last four months of my life are that. One of those times you try not to notice because calling attention to it might scare it away or cause it to end. I feel as if I've altered the entire trajectory of my life, that there are strange and lovely unknowns again, and dreams that scare me. The air around me is swollen with possibility and promise.  If I felt before coming here that I was an empty vessel with nothing to give to those around me, I can feel the drops plinking in again now, one by one, filling me back to a level that's enough to share. 

There are moments of misery and doubt, of course. They make life difficult and ultimately more interesting. There are bad choices and too many drinks and days that feel like a wash, just like any place on that map. This place has them too, because this person has them and will always have that element that strongly urges me against moderation and caution. I swing back and forth between feeling like I can someday be competent in my chosen profession to getting back a less than stellar grade and wanting to hurl my books and notes into the river. I have moments of desperation and what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life?!! and I am challenged and don't always feel like I meet it quite right. Those flickers come when a couple walking down the street together makes me want to simultaneously cry and shank someone and hug someone and high five them both. I kind of hope that goes away. I'll keep you posted.

Everyone in my program is smart, and yet the environment fostered between us is not one of competition and superiority, but rather a building up of the whole as a unit. We are classmates, yes. We are friends, though, too. We are cheerleaders and each other's counselors and relationship advisees and the person willing to grab a beer on Monday night just because "I need a chat, it's been A DAY." We are equal parts fearless and terrified, yet it doesn't always come out looking like a balance. But there is always someone who understands how you feel because no one REALLY understands what the fuck that means yet. At least I don't think anyone does. 

If I could do it justice, I would. Believe me, I try.  There are study sessions, long walks, crafty afternoons, potlucks, and yes, even Friendsgivings. There are trips to new cities like Portland and karaoke at the VFW. There are parades and walks by the railroad tracks and concerts and hot springs and the unspoken breakfast date after a night out on the town. There are board games and movies, and just adventures in general. If you are hungry, someone will make sure you're fed. If you're feeling particularly stabby, someone will listen. 

If I'm in a messy state, at least it's a good messy state to be in. At least it's the right messy state. It feels a little like I bet that elusive "home" does. For now, it is home. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

no dollars left.

Sometimes I walk in the cold and the dark. Despite the menacing discomfort of it, the pure terror of being frozen alive, I need to know that even if the rest of the world can beat me, the weather cannot. Trust me, it feels right now like the rest of the world is beating me. Closing in from every angle and wearing down my edges until I'm too small to see or even exist. But the wind, the cold, it cannot beat me. It's romantic, the notion of survival against the elements when you're faced with the incredibly unromantic idea of, in the name of survival, pawning the shit you've loved and surrounded yourself with.

The financial aid woman at my school, Diana, was congenial and almost, but not quite, apologetic when she told me I couldn't take out a private loan for living expenses. Over the phone I suppose I didn't seem all that shaky, I probably sounded like I had other options, that I was weighing them or something. I wasn't. All of my eggs were in her basket and she made and omelet and ate my hope, bite by bite, word by word, over the phone. The end of the conversation was awkward, I could tell she just wanted to hang up and go on with her day, but I couldn't let her. I needed her to understand, but I couldn't find the words to make her see my need. She maybe didn't want to understand the amount of faith I placed in her giving me good news. I couldn't let the call end because when it ended I'd have to face other realities, make other calls, throw a tantrum or weep or curl up in a ball and pretend the world isn't rapping at my door. It all felt like too much. I probably even thanked her because I couldn't think of anything else to say, but I needed to have her on the line. 

It's true that I'm soft. I'm probably just a good-time girl. It's true that I'm afraid to move in a direction or maybe too depressed to try. But I also possess a strong will and right now I'm searching for that strength in the remaining booze in my fridge. When that runs out I'll busy myself with scrubbing the bathtub and doing the dishes. Taking inventory of what is left. Finding creative things to use as toilet paper, since I ran out this afternoon. Or I'll just drip-dry. Researching your options when there aren't any feels pathetic and fake, so I'm putting it off until tomorrow. 

Feeling desperate isn't a foreign feeling, exactly. Truth be told, I find myself in scrapes, especially financial ones, on a semi-regular basis. I've never taken money seriously, never really been without any prospects for income the way that I am now. If I was smart, which I am, but at the moment not feeling particularly scholarly, I'd spend my evening applying for jobs. I'd craft cover letters and take care to edit and reread for typos and inconsistencies. But now that I'm living in this limbo of desperation, I find myself feeling sort of paralyzed by it. There seems to be something missing in my resume, something that screams I WILL SHOW UP ON TIME AND GET SHIT DONE. God, I wish I could just write that in there somewhere. 

I don't know why it is, but it seems so much easier to take things offered to you when you have nothing to give in return. As much as I may wish it, handshakes and high-fives aren't exactly currency. As easy as it is for me to make new friends in the turn of a smile at a bar, increasing the capital in my bank account is like trying to put together something intricate when the directions are written in a language that you're not even familiar with the alphabet. I don't even know where to start. 

I'm in a corner. Backed in. I'm accustomed to fighting my way out, but some integral part of me feels exhausted, spent. I never thought that doing something to improve my knowledge, my place, my outlook, my profession, would be such a struggle. I took out the loans. I go to class, I raise my hand. I am an active participant in every way that counts, but still nothing wants to add up. Maybe it wants to and I can't let it. I don't know. I'm trying. 

I say "I'm trying," over and over again to anyone that expresses concern until it loses meaning. 

I mean "I'm trying," every time that I say it. It just seems to possess some unalienable flaw that causes me to never be able to have my shit together. 

And now, I don't know what to do. I don't even know what trying looks like anymore. Does trying look like selling my cars five months before it's finally paid off? Does trying look like walking into a strip club and offering my services? Is trying that moment when you start ugly crying in public because yet another fast food restaurant manager with a fucking high school diploma looks at me like I'm unworthy to mop a floor? I HAVE MOPPED FLOORS, I KNOW HOW TO MAN A MOP, MAN. What is trying when you've done everything you know and now the only things that pop into your mind seem scary and dangerous? I put myself in danger enough, but that kind never really feels terrifying. 

This kind is terrifying. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

my heart isn't cooperating.

this is where i live. i walked here from my apartment. i am the luckiest human on earth.

Let me just preface this post by saying the past few weeks have been fucking rough. Like, put your hand in a door frame and just slam the fucker over and over again. But with my heart. Ok, maybe not exactly like that because I'm not really a masochist and so it isn't really like I've been intentionally harming myself emotionally, just, you know. 

Let's start over? 

I'm having a hard fucking time. So layer that on with the fact that I'm so in love with Montana and my life here that I could probably weep on command and shit gets a little tiny bit confusing. 

Anyway, I'm not feeling like a summary of my last few weeks is really going to capture anyone's full attention, so I'm just going to say that I honest-to-god think I'm developing a panic disorder. I've always known I'm a spaz, but now it's legitimately kind of scary. I'll be eating lunch with friends or sitting in class or taking a walk and all the sudden I am 100 percent convinced I'm having a heart attack. It's like I can feel all the veins and arteries of my heart squeezing and constricting and the blood trying to surge through just starts sort of gurgling and foaming. I am just sure my heart is going to explode. To just call it a goddamn day and poof, that's the end of me. I know, not a great visual. I'm sure that's not even what a heart attack is, but I never claimed to be a medical professional, just a person convinced I'm dying at increasingly frequent points in my everyday life. My friend Brie thinks maybe I have heart murmurs or something? I don't really know, I start thinking I'm going crazy and I can't hold it together, but to be honest, I'm not even sure what falling apart would look like in these scenarios. My crumbling into a heap on the floor? Going fetal in a corner? Running around screaming and pulling my hair out? It's really anyone's guess. It freaks me out.

So yeah, good times. 

That kind of thing doesn't really inspire me to connect with the folks back home or write for this little corner 'o the web, so there's your half-assed excuse for while I've been absent in posting lately. 

Anyway, life really is beautiful here, I swear. The mountains make my heart so happy. I haven't even felt so much as irritated at the change in weather, constant damp, virtual lack of sun, or looming darkness. I'm serious. This place is so magical for my soul that things which used to trigger terrible moods and horrible coping mechanisms no longer affect me at all. I'm just happy to be here. I went to Portland with a friend a couple of weekends ago, and even though Portland was awesome and I loved it, I kept thinking "I can't wait to get home. To Montana."  I have never in my life been happy to leave the place I'm visiting to go back to where I actually live. Never. I mean that completely. I practically skip to class and I have the liveliest of friends and I live alone so I obviously don't have to wear pants most of the time and I can eat in my bed whenever I want, so in the grand scheme I'm set.

I just, you know, worry and stress constantly. To the point where I feel like I'm dying and/or falling apart. 

On a side note, I'm pretty sure my upstairs neighbor is having sex with someone right now directly above where I'm lying in bed typing this. 8:15 on a Saturday night, nice. But I guess what does that say about me that I'm home to hear it? I've never heard this kind of movement from up there before, so if this is his first time getting laid since I've been here, then good for him. That's still one more time than me.