Let’s get real.
In two months the weather will be substantially warmer. And when it is, we will need to be prepared with new, awesomely cute outfits.
Winter, you killed me for about three months before I got adequate style pieces to look professional at work.
And I refuse to enter the summer season with no choice but to scavenge through the racks of Forever, Target, and even H&M for some decently priced items.
(Overlooking Spring, because seriously? This is Texas. Spring is like an alternating week here and there between rain and leftover winter. It’s like what we’ve got now—except with stores pushing pastels on you for three weeks before they switch over to summer neon colors. Like I have the money.)
What I’m saying is, I don’t want to wear pastel - and I don’t want to wear neon. I want to wear (what I always wear?) trendy t-shirts and jeans.
I’m thinking (the right) thin gold necklace, low-cut tees, cut-off shorts, quality flats, ya know?
I want to look edgy, and chill. And maybe from California.
But the only way to feel comfortable in clothes is to find the right combo of good fit and style.
And I’m prepared to begin online shopping for that shit right now.
"[Jesus] said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’" —Luke 9:59-60
This is a hard verse to accept for a number of reasons, but in particular, because it seems like Jesus is asking the disciple to relinquish closure over death in order to follow Him—a perfect stranger, on a journey he would have no possible means of understanding.
It’s like he’s saying, “Listen, I know about your father’s death—I’m telling you that processing that event is not your biggest priority right now. Your grief will work itself out. Follow me.”
I mean the lack of empathic language here is really astounding.
But about a month ago:
My father had another one of his unreal episodes (high at my brother’s house, 8am, the cops dropped him off), after which a bunch of information arose that incriminated him even further.
Here’s a basic outline:
He has multiple identities—over 18 online profiles—and his girlfriend confessed that he sometimes steals her skirts to go out and expose himself in public.
Again, just a basic outline.
And it’s been ten years since he nearly put me under house arrest for having a crush on a boy (threatened to pull me out of school and make me do chores from sun-up to sun-down; said that if he did allow me to go to school I wouldn’t be allowed to do homework since I’d be doing housework until after he was asleep; he wouldn’t allow me to play the Eb solo in band, he’d take away all my clarinets, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to the prom or band banquet, etc., etc.).
And all the while, as he rattled off his list of demands in an angry rant, I was required to respond “Yes sir, yes sir” to each one. “I’m trying to break your will,” he said, “you have to submit to me.”
After that, I realized that my father was not who I thought he was—that he would always be unsafe for me and my siblings. But I kept talking to him for another 10 years.
And in those 10 years I realized that his behavioral pattern of espousifying me since I was 11 years old would never be broken. And I realized that he would continue to be absent from my life as a father-figure and present as draining, negative force until the day he dies.
And so three weeks ago, I finally told him that he would no longer be in my life.
My brothers and sister were also there, it was kind of an intervention—but only my sister and I made the vow to stop speaking with him.
We arrived unannounced.
He was probably high, judging by his disposition—his girlfriend was smoking a cigarette in the backyard—singing the songs on her headphones the entire time we talked.
So I told him that I loved him, but that our relationship has never been good. And that for me, it was not what he did in his personal life that caused the need for separation, it was who he has always been to me.
(When I told him that I know more about him than he may realize (for example, the flashing), he kind of shrugged with a gesture that seemed to convey a response like, “Huh, ok.”)
He didn’t seem to be overly affected. He remarked that he considered our statements to be ‘insane’ and ‘never true at all.’
And with that, I left.
Right off the bat, it felt like rocks had been taken from my heart, leaving more room to love others—people I’d never met. You know, real joy.
But I also felt terrified. The next day at work I couldn’t stop shaking, as if someone was after me. I had to remind myself over and over that I was safe.
And even now, I have this surge of fight-or-flight feelings that I know are a result of the pain of what just happened.
It’s this feeling of: I want to make sure that nobody has to experience what I went through; I want to protect my brothers; I want to get out of here. I want to leave and do somethingI want to do.
After all, don’t I get to be hurt and act on that for a while? Don’t I get to say, “I can’t believe he did this to me—now I get to mourn that loss the way I want to?”
But I guess there’s a point when what you think is ‘grief’ actually turns into re-visiting old wounds unnecessarily.
So now I have to assert myself as an independent woman capable of achieving so much more than the hand she’s been dealt, with all the blind faith I can muster.
I’ve already said goodbye, but now it’s time to let go.
The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.– Will Rogers
So I know this is going to sound weird, but it really feels like I just now moved to Austin. Or graduated. Or broke-up with my boyfriend.
For some reason, I think the whole event of leaving my boyfriend was so much to process that my brain went into some emergency holding pattern that I feel like I’m just now exiting.
And for some reason, I kind of knew it would take this long. (I remember thinking, “God, whoever sees me before the end of January is just going to encounter some weird version of me. I think after January, I’ll be better.”)
And now suddenly, after 6-9 mos. of distance between myself and these events, I feel like, ‘Hey! I just graduated! I just moved to Austin! What should I do next?”
It’s this pseudo grown-up feeling—as evidenced by the past weekend—in which I got my car detailed, paid all my bills, painted my nails for once, picked up my room, and started thinking, ‘What do I want my career to be?”
Now, part of this thinking is due to the fact that I just wrapped up my seasonal job and placing both feet fully back in the job market.
So I’m applying for admin positions at UT and on Craig’s List, and researching the alternative certification route to teach at public schools, and still thinking about PhD school in poetry.
But I suddenly have this sense that I have a world of options open to me, and I just need to pick the one I want and go for it.
(Again, this is the part of me that thinks I’m 18 and doing it all over again.)
So one of my grad school friends took the “What Should Your Career Be?” quiz and posted his results on FB—which said confidently, “You’re a writer!” And he was like, yeah I am! I write all the time! You rock, quiz!
And I thought, maybe it’ll say I’m a writer, too. But it didn’t—it said, “You are a humanitarian!” And I was like, this quiz sucks.
But then, of course, I started to think of all the ways I might be a humanitarian. And I realized that yeah, maybe the biggest reason why I like the idea of a career in poetry is that it affords the opportunity to introduce people into new ways of thought—both through reading poems and teaching the philosophies behind them. And I think academics are pretty good about staying in touch with what could/will change the world and why.
And I like to talk/write about those things with people.
And here’s the thing: humanitarians don’t make any money. Maybe our fair University is only marginally better, but a tenured professor might have a salary of around $70,000—which isn’t amazing and takes a couple decades to get to—but I heard from my Stanford-educated cousin that the amount of money a person needs to make to feel happy is about $76,000, and everything after that is just fluff.
(And I taught a text that supports that information so I know he’s not lying.)
So that’s what I want. I want enough to feel happy and support my family and buy a lot of books and pay for fun stuff for my kids.
And I don’t see what’s so wrong with writing poetry while doing it.
At this point, though, I’m not sure I have the balls to go back there. It’s f-ing hard to move away from everything you know for three-five years while trying to keep your head above water in a highly competitive environment in which: (a) no one is ever smart enough—no one—and (b) you never ‘arrive’ at a destination of brilliance, or scholarship, or achievement. You just keep getting the stuff kicked out of you until you produce something better than you did a year ago.
I don’t know. Plus, you’re painfully poor for the entirety of your PhD program and only have slight hopes of financial improvement if you happen to find a job after graduation.
And don’t forget about the massive student loans.
And what about the fact that knowledge corrupts? The potential to get lost in some of those misleading theories with the risk of never finding your way back is REAL.
I like poetry. And I like to write poetry. And I like to be around smart people. And I want to be around people who understand the world and endeavor to change it.
So, why not?
I think I’m just waiting to see if some part of me appears that’s willing to dominate the corporate world, make money and take names (sounds cool, doesn’t it?) But I’m not THAT interested in spreadsheets, data manipulation, etc.—and unless I see a DIRECT benefit to humanity—I just, eh.
It’s just really hard to say, “I want to be a professor!” OR “I want to spend the rest of my life in academia!” to anyone in the real world and still take yourself seriously.
There’s this line in Francis Ha where she says something awkward at a dinner table, then apologizes for herself by saying, “I’m so embarrassed—I’m not a real human yet.”
And I’ve felt that way, over and over, for the past six months. I think I’ve picked up just about all the identity pieces I need for now, but yeah, it hasn’t been easy.
Everybody tells you when you’re, like 13, that all the crazy things it means to be a TEENAGER are going to start manifesting themselves in your attitude and style and body and everything.
But nobody tells you that if you, say, decided to OPT OUT of that whole nonsense when you’re 13, you might have to go through it for real when you’re like, Oh I don’t know, TWENTY-EIGHT.
All I know is that when I went to ACL last fall, I was standing at a Muse concert with a bunch of (what seemed like) 18-year old boys who were totally abandoning themselves to the emotions of the music, like singing about the injustice of the world and the intensity of their romantic feelings and smoking pot and I thought, yeah. I’m basically at the same developmental level as an 18-year old boy right now.
So I’m about 10-15 years behind on the whole, “NOW it’s time to focus on figuring out who you are” thing.
And it’s been a real thing for me these past six months. I’ve felt it in my body. For at least a decade all I’ve ever wanted to eat is like, grains, produce, and chocolate. And suddenly, that stuff just doesn’t jive with me anymore. I need milk. A lot of it.
Before, I couldn’t even eat a yogurt without being messed up the rest of the day. Now, I drink milk like it’s water.
And I crave meat. Basically meat and dairy is the entirety of my new diet. And my body is okay with that, so I’m okay with that.
Would’ve been nice if I had done all this when I was 13, but I was too busy taking care of my father and trying to figure out how to get OUT of there.
So I’m doing it now. And it’s incredibly painful. It feels like exactly what it would feel like to do anything as a beginner with someone who has 15 years of experience more than you. And it is something that is even more difficult for someone who grew up a perfectionist. Or at least neurotic as hell.
So I’m making progress with the people around me, and making some MAJOR relationship mistakes, but that’s okay.
And I’m hoping that maybe the life experience and intelligence I have as a 28-year old will speed along the process.
Went to book club this morning. Got v nervous midway through that I was talking too much and then nervous that I wasn’t talking enough. Or that I wasn’t saying the right thing. But people laughed and I had a genuine moment with the author of the book we had read about pencil skirts and one of the girls suggested we get a beer sometime and she may have just been being nice but HEY! I’m not a social pariah like I thought! Who knows! Social interactions! Hooray!
Omg, I definitely need to change my profile picture on this thing.
So I recently decided to start updating once every couple weeks, or at least twice a month. It may not be all that interesting at first, but here we go.
This weekend I learned that instead of neurotically cutting my hairs every couple weeks, maybe I should consider getting a therapist again. I’ve taken like a nine month break, but I went for six years before then, so I thought I’d be okay for a while.
And if I had it my way I wouldn’t go, but it’s just that I keep getting these haircuts—and they’re not all that drastic—but this weekend I went to my hair stylist and sat in his chair and he was like, “So…you don’t actually need a haircut,” and without missing a beat I said, “How about a trim and a color?” And he was like, “Done.”
But afterwards I looked in the mirror and had my usual mini-panic which was that Oh GOD I really didn’t even need a trim and I hope nobody at work notices or thinks I take my anxieties out on my hair…because I do.
As I said before, it doesn’t look bad, it was just a sobering moment where I realized that I spend all my self-care money on hair alterations instead of a real therapist.
And talking to my hair stylist is not unlike going to therapy—we ranted for a good hour about church and religion and how we both self-identify as Christians but would never fit in at a bible study.
I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine a therapist that’s right for me. I think all the therapists I’ve had have been more or less the same brand of ‘sweet church-going woman with a big heart.’ So where are the female therapists that aren’t all like I’ll-encourage-you-to-do-what-you-want-even-if-it’s-a-big-shitfest-because-that’s-what-you-want-to-do? I’m serious. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of money on sessions where they just let me go on and on about my love life and then I went home.
Or maybe what I need is someone I can tell everything. As I said earlier, all my therapists have been Christians, so I’ve omitted many details about my life so that I can continue having conversations with them—and not because of guilt, necessarily, but mainly because I knew the moment I tried to engage them in an intellectually balanced conversation on these topics, they wouldn’t have any background or research with which to counter my claims. That’s a cop-out, I know.
Either way, I have to give it a go again. I just really, really don’t want to. But I will, and hopefully that will at least save me from a few more haircuts.
I know, LOL