So about living alone…

So, because my life can only be in a state of constant flux, 2014 has proven to be a pretty major year already.

Initially I thought that everything was going to be great. I got a second job as a independent contractor for an SEO company as a writer almost immediately at the beginning of the year. And therefore, assumed this was going to be my year.

In February my boyfriend of 6 years left me. He decided that he no longer loved me and hadn’t been happy for a long time. There was a lot of villianization of me on his part.

I suppose things had not been all the could have been for awhile. 2013 was a pretty rough year for us and I found myself trusting him less and less as time went on. And found myself less and less happy as time went on. But, I kept putting it off as a general displeasure with my job, lack of money, lack of friends, lack of confidence, lack of anything remotely resembling my former self. It occurred to me once or twice that he might be the issue. And I don’t mean that he is a bad person exactly. Just not right for me and the direction my life needs to be moving in.

In any case, the break up came as a bit of a shock to me. I was supremely distraught over the whole thing.

For about 3 days.

I was somewhat distraught for a following 11 days.

Then I was over it. I was still angry. I am still kind of angry. At myself, at him, at anything.

That will pass in time as well.

I’ve been living in my new place, alone, for a little over two weeks now. Granted I was living alone at my last place, but I had shared that with him for 3 years. There were still so many things around that had accumulated during the relationship and still so many associations with him in that apartment. In a way it felt like he was still present. It really didn’t help that he was still paying rent there and I could assume that he would show up at any given moment. Which, he did. To get his stuff or to take stuff that wasn’t really his to take or to argue with me about rent. So that was pretty distracting.

But now I have this beautiful apartment in a house that was built in the 20’s. It has real oak floors and tons of windows and light. There are old-fashioned qualities that took a moment to get used to, but each two-pronged electrical socket, each scratch on the floor, and each pull string light adds a delightful piece of character.

The porch is huge and the paint is peeling and the boards are bowing. The mailboxes are tiny and have metal hanging doors decorated with engravings.

It’s just this beautiful old place with cool neighbors, a huge antique store down the street, and a large cat named Fabio who roams the yard and surrounding neighborhood.

 

Empty bedroom :)

Empty bedroom 🙂

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Loving this kitchen.

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Mountains in the morning.

Even Holden seems to like this place more. Or maybe he just likes the fact that I let him roam freely more than I used to since the place is small enough that I can’t really lose him. Either way he runs around here like crazy. I don’t have air conditioning, so I bought him a fan. He lounges in front of it pretty much constantly and seems pleased with it.

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I’ve also received a promotion at the grocery store, after transferring to the new store in order to have a shorter commute. And I’m now the floral specialist! Not exactly a career, but I really enjoy making the arrangements and gift baskets and getting to have some kind of creativity throughout the day.

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In any case, things appear to be looking up. It occurred to me today that I have definitely realized things about myself while living on my own. And I have to say that I seriously suggest that everyone do it. Being comfortable alone is one of the biggest assets you could hope to have. Anyways, here are some things that I have concluded about myself in the last few months (and especially the last 2 weeks).

  • I really can do things alone. For the longest time I have had this anxiety about doing anything alone. That ranges from sleeping to shopping to even driving. I felt so self-conscious and uncomfortable. It was so much more validating, for whatever reason, to have other people constantly with me. But now I know that I really can just do things by myself. And actually enjoy it. In fact, I am about to start planning a week long vacation to take by myself.
  • I enjoy cleaning. And keeping a clean living space. It is so much easier to clean when you live alone. You’re the only one moving things around or leaving things out. So it becomes so much easier to . My apartment is much smaller now, making it a whole lot easier to keep up with.
  • I eat more healthfully. Now that I don’t have to worry about someone else’s (let’s admit, somewhat childish) taste preferences, I can make whatever I want, buy whatever I want, and eat as much as I want. All the time! Thus making it a lot easier to eat better foods.
  • I have more friends than I thought I did. Without having to account for another person’s schedule or needs or quality time, I can leave whenever or have people over at any time. I can suddenly decide to go to the farmer’s market and drink mimosas with people one Sunday. Or spend Thursday tanning and gardening alone. It’s very refreshing.
  • I get so much more done. I am writing more, reading more, sleeping more, thinking more, walking more, and having more fun than ever before. Again, that other person (whether it’s a partner or a roommate) isn’t around to partially dictate chunks of your time. It’s easier to focus and easier to get things done.
  • I’m ready to move. In a year, anyways. Asheville has been a delightful city and a huge part of my formative years. Now it’s time to go.

And it goes on, maybe I’ll continue another time. But, the point is, I feel like this whole, complete, breathing person. I’m 27 years old and I just remembered that I’m actually alive for the first time in years. And it’s beautiful.

 

That is not to say, of course, that I will want to live alone forever. I’m past the point of ever wanting a roommate again, that’s too much hassle with too little gained. But living with a partner is not written out either. Regardless of the past experience with it.

I think that in a truly good relationship, each party feels comfortable being exactly who they are and with exactly who the other person is. Everyone respects everyone else’s alone time or personal friendships. No one feels suffocated or ignored. Intelligence and wit are well-matched and complementary. Each person still has their autonomy and they have it with each other. There isn’t this weird thing that happens where the couple gloms on to each other and morphs into one rather obnoxious entity. I’m pretty sure it exists somewhere.

A Quandary.

So I have this interview tomorrow. But I’m unsure of what I want to do. See it’s this marketing internship with a well-known and respected IT company. $12 an hour and 40 hours a week. Pretty sweet deal, right?

But, here’s the kicker. It’s only 60 days. At the end of the period there’s a review. If I’m doing really well and there’s a job opening they’ll give me a job. A real, business, marketing fucking job. If I do horribly, they’ll just terminate the whole thing. If I do really well and there is not a job opening…I don’t get a job…

So I realize that the only way to succeed in life is to take chances and make waves and all that. But I also realize that there are these very real things called bills. And I have quite a lot of them. And if I don’t have a job at the end of 2 months, then I don’t have a way to pay my bills. I also forfeit the raise I’m about to get at my current job, dental insurance I’m getting, and quite probably my full-time standing. I can’t take a leave of absence because I have only been there a year. My coworkers have informed me that if I leave on a good note I can get my job back in 2 months if things with this other company don’t work out. And judging by the amount of people I know there who have left and come back repeatedly, I know this to be true. Mostly. What I don’t know is that my specific job will still be there. The job as the only actual full-time cashier/respected department floater who has been depended upon for the last week to run a department while the department head was working at another store. So I could come back, lose any and all benefits, and only be working 15 hours a week. Do you see the issue?

My mother does not see the issue. She’s says to go for it. And I understand where she is coming from. But, my mother and I have always differed in the way we think about the future. As well as money. I like to know that I can pay my bills and eat my food and be what I consider to be a contributing member of the household and not a total drain on my wonderful boyfriend’s money. She responds to this with “Well, just get a different job.” Yes. Because that’s been going so well for me thus far. I actually have amazing jobs thrown at my head every day, I just find the joys of working at a service job even though I have a degree to be really rewarding… I get that too I guess. As a woman who hasn’t worked for “the man” since about 1982 when she and my dad went into business for themselves and who is currently a real estate agent who, while she works at Century 21 and technically has a boss, still essentially works for herself, she might not have the best idea of getting a job these days. Frankly getting a job in the 70’s when having a 4 year degree was still impressive and the population was a lot lower and so was the cost of living (and hitchhiking across the country was still considered relatively safe) was a bit of a different experience. I try to explain that “just getting a new job” really doesn’t exist anymore. As I ‘ve discussed I’m over qualified for a lot of things and under qualified for the rest. It becomes a matter of finding someone who is either willing to hire me even though I have too much education and experience or hire me even though I don’t have enough. Quite the gamble.

It seems like settling to stay at a job where I make just enough to get by and that is not a career. But it seems silly, also, to take a chance on something like this without the guarantee of a career. If I was still a college student, this would be a no brainer. If I was younger and still having things like my car and health insurance as well as my cell phone paid by my parents, this would be a no brainer. But as an almost 26 year old entirely on my own with an all too familiar understanding of what happens when you don’t give companies the money you owe them, I’m unsure. I guess if I take it, don’t get the job, and can’t go back to the one I have now I could go back to writing about the woes of being totally unemployed. Without the benefits of receiving unemployment…

Thoughts?

Baby Mama Drama.

I’m reaching the age where most of my contemporaries are settling down, getting married, and having babies. Not necessarily in that order. A lot of them have terrible jobs. Some of them have decent jobs. And a small grab bag of individuals have their dream jobs. Needless to say I’m a little behind on the whole thing. Not married, engaged, pregnant, a parent, and my job is in no way related to my field. I’m generally okay with this. I never want to have children, my pets are enough. The boy and I would like to get married some day, but we are also perfectly content with being in a committed, long-term, relationship for now. I am hoping to figure out the whole job thing this year.

A brief discussion about parenting with some customers prompted me to really start thinking the archaic belief that we all have to get married and procreate. Apparently, according to the several women, I am entirely too young to make the rash decision to not have children…I’m old enough to have a degree, drink, rent a car, go to war, buy a gun, and smoke. But not old enough to make personal choices about giving up a huge chunk of my life to a child. But, I can see where they were coming from. A lot of people seriously feel that having children is the most beautiful, wonderful, and rewarding thing a couple can do. I just happen to disagree.

A post on Facebook further prompted me to write about it at more length. There’s been a picture of a fetus pressing it’s foot against the inside of a pregnant woman’s stomach. It’s accompanied by a story about a woman who has a child and wants to terminate her latest pregnancy. The doctor then suggests that she simply kill the child she already has since she has no problem with murder. This story has a number of flaws and makes a number of points that I disagree with. But what really gets me are the comments left by most people. They go a lot like this “If u aren’t ready 2 have a baby then u need 2 keep ur legs closed until ur married!”

This is ALWAYS what happens when you have a baby after marriage.

This is ALWAYS what happens when you have a baby after marriage.

So. If you’re married you have to have a baby? You’re automatically ready to have a baby when you’re married? You can suddenly emotionally deal with pregnancy and support a child financially? Why do people always assume that marriage equals children? Why do people always assume that if you have a baby while you’re married everything becomes magical and perfect and you’re three times as in love as you were before? Because divorce never happens when you have kids. Children are never abandoned, abused, or malnourished when the couple who conceived them are strapped together in marital bliss. I see their point, kind of, that until you’re ready to deal with the ramifications of child rearing you theoretically shouldn’t have sex. But what if you don’t want kids or can’t support kids while you’re married. Do you just not have sex? Do  you get your tubes tied/balls snipped? There’s always contraception, of course. What do you do when that fails? Continue with the pregnancy even though it goes against your beliefs and desires?

I just don’t understand our society’s obsession with procreation. With the world population going up every day we are in no serious  danger of the humans dying out. There are thousands of children in this country and around the world without families, food, homes, health care, and other basic needs. Do we just keep adding to those because marriage somehow equates to babies? It just doesn’t make sense. I, for one, resent being made to feel like my life is incomplete if I don’t spawn. Or that something is wrong with me. Or that I’m never supposed to enjoy the throes of sex. I really just wish that humans could accept that we all want different things, have different needs, and make different mistakes.

She Works Hard for the Money

Well. The day has come. I have been offered a job. I really cannot decide how I feel about the whole situation. Part of me is relieved that I’ll have an income again. Part of me is disappointed that I am taking another service industry job. Granted, as far as being a cashier, there are worse places to work.

It’s at a  brand of super nice grocery store. The atmosphere is much better than your usual fluorescent, over-crowded, 80’s hits playing store. They offer all the usual stuff like produce, meat, fish, dairy, dry goods, etc. But they also have an amazing prepared food area with organic meals and classy looking little desserts. A wider variety of food options and better quality looking food overall. The focus is more on the experience and what they offer than on cramming as much GMO crap into one space as possible. There are lots of organic, vegan, whole food options all set out in a quaint looking little store with soft lighting and friendly people.

So I could do worse. When I think about the idea of working in another grocery store like the one I had my first job at, I cringe (like I mentioned in this post)

The screaming kids and angry customers with fake coupons wanting their money back…ick.

The pay is…eh… much better than what I was getting as a cashier before. Not actually enough to continue living the way that I was, but better than minimum wage. There’s a review after 90 days and the possibility of a raise. So that’s nice.
And they promised full-time. So I kind of had to take it. Who am I to turn down the offer of full-time work that pays above the minimum wage? So many people are out there, in worse situations than I am, looking for work just like I am. Am I to decide that I am ultimately better than they are? Am I too good to work as a cashier? No. I did go to college and get the degree and gain tons of debt. But that doesn’t mean I’m a better person or a better employee than the other people with the same education, more education, or even less education. Turning down this job after over a month of trying, putting in over 50 applications, and literally no other viable opportunities just seemed… self-righteous and a little silly.

This also ran through my mind: What if I don’t get another chance at work for another month? Or two? Or three? Am I really going to live off of $244 a week from unemployment for several months? Plus, the longer you are out of work  the worse it starts to look to future employers. They start asking for explanations. So what do I tell them? That I was offered full time work and turned it down because I thought I could do better? If the next job offer is another service job that probably wouldn’t go over so well.

Sometimes, in this life, we all have to accept what we are given and then do everything we can to try and improve our own situations, as well as the situations of those around us. That’s why I’m still very interested in volunteer work while I have this job. Fitting it in could prove to be much more difficult, of course. But it’s something I’d still like to attempt.

So, what do you guys feel about this? I’m truly curious. Did I make the good choice? Should I try to back out while I still can (I have a pretty good excuse. My boyfriend and I are sharing one car because his is no longer okay to drive)?  A friend of mine works there and it literally took her 2 years to get moved up just one position…so it doesn’t look like there are too many opportunities to move up in a reasonable amount of time. Do you think that going from management to peon will look bad on my resume? Let me know! I could really use some feedback.

Worse for Work

So there may be an opportunity on my horizon. My old boss, Chris, has a wife who works at Ingles (grocery store for those of you in other parts). She talked to her boss about me and I am going to go in and talk to her on Monday. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity. I need a job and I need money. The money I have saved up in my bank account will only get me so far.

Not to mention my overwhelming boredom, the failure of the YWCA to return my attempts to contact them about my volunteer application, and the tension that can rise between my boyfriend and I about the fact that I have been out of work a month tomorrow. A whole month! Ugh!

And while I am thankful for the chance to possibly get a job. I am wary of working at a grocery store again. My first job was at a Food Lion 9 years ago. And it was mostly a fiasco. It does not help that my manager was kind of nuts or that the store was located just off of an island and completely slammed all the time. People could be rude or on drugs (seriously) or stealing or trying to scam you. If your drawer wasn’t right you were shouted at and accused of stealing. Maybe I just had a bad first experience and I’m a bit gun shy now…

I also remember next to nothing about the job. I mean…take the thing, run it across the scanner, someone bags it, take money. But there’s the whole WIC, food stamps, checks, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, and all that to deal with. I’d have to get back into the swing of remembering all that. Although if I just shove all the old and useless ice cream information out of my mind I will probably have room for it. And it might be easier with the newer cash registers. When I was working at a grocery store we were using the older technology. No touch screens or anything like that.

Then there’s this, here. Anna Sam is an inspiration! And I have such a similar story. I took that job at the ice cream store to make money while I studied literature and then just sort of got stuck doing it. Of course at the end of working at the grocery store, she has a best-selling book. Whereas, I’m jobless and considering taking over her old job as a grocery store check out girl… She gives me hope. But mostly a sense of dread. Especially because I’ve lived those customer service stories so many times before. Women chucking money in your face because they don’t get free things on their birthday. Men having their 6 year old daughter call and cuss you out because the product you sell is too expensive even though you’re just a peon in a corporation that decides how much money you have to make for themevery year… I was really hoping to move away from that sort of thing by this point in my life…

I also sort of feel bad because the second I could get something better I would be out of there. That could be a week and it could be two years. Who knows? I know it was annoying when I was managing when I would ask a potential new hire how long they wanted to stay only to be let down. Of course the person would always respond with “Oh, at least a year!” and then a month and a half later out the door they went. It was annoying because training costs a lot of money. Someone, usually some sort of manager unless you have certified trainers, has to take the time to train the person for a few days up to a week. And while they are doing that the business has to put someone else on the schedule to cover the job that person would normally be doing. Then, on top of all that, training is paid these days. So you’re basically paying three people to help the same amount of customers one person would help. To have that person you just trained walk out is a total loss of money and time.

I’m sure it is silly to feel bad about that. A job is a job and money is money.  They can always hire someone else. I think it mostly stems from the fact that I am getting a recommendation. I feel like that sort of puts even more pressure on me to do well. Or not screw them over, regardless of how good my reason for doing so is. My success and actions would reflect on me, but also on this other person.

It would be minimum wage, probably part time work no way related to what I want to do with my life. It’s depressing that money is so important that we end up doing something we don’t like or even hate just to get things we need to exist until we retire. Or die.

Yes, it is better than what a lot of people have in the world. A friend of mine was telling me how she has a number of homeless children in her class. How horrible! Kids living in shelters and hotels with their mothers, still trying to go to school so they can hopefully do better for themselves. But that’s my point. Jobs don’t just get thrust at you. There is always competition. Always someone better or cheaper to hire in your place. So when anything at all comes along we have to launch ourselves at it and hold on for dear life, no matter what it is. Just to survive.

If I could figure out a way to live a self-sustaining lifestyle with some like minded neighbors that would be amazing. We could all grow and raise different things. And trade for what we need… right…. let me use my several million dollars to buy acres of land, the crops, animals, machines, buildings, and materials necessary… In the mean time I would really just appreciate the chance to prove myself in the field of my choosing so I can maybe enjoy my life’s work as opposed to dreading my waking hours.

This post has taken a slightly morbid turn. It has just made me think about how silly life can be. When we are kids we are told to do what makes us happiest and reach for the stars and we will succeed no matter what. And here we are.

It’s exciting to have the possibility of work so close to my grasp. No need to turn your nose up at any sort of job when you’re getting desperate for money. Yet I can’t help feeling that I am taking a few steps back at the same time.

Letters to Live By

I was considering recently that the art of letter writing is absolutely lost to us. I remember that as little as 10 years ago I still held actual letter correspondences. And the act of really taking the time to write about my life and my feelings and inquiring into the well being of others was relaxing. The anticipation of a return and finally having the product in my hand to read and laugh over was delightful. It seemed that the person cared because they took the time to craft something personal.

I was listening to the John Tesh radio show the other day and he mentioned how the stationary business is suddenly booming because people are starting to realize that writing letters was awesome. Emails come off as distant and all the romance is completely removed.

There’s something sweet and romantic about a shoe box full of old letters. Yellowing and cracking with age. The ink slowly disappearing. It really symbolizes Time and all the affects it has on our lives. As a grandmother it’s nicer to look through old letters, smelling the hint of past lives on the fragile paper than it is to boot up the old laptop and search through your archived Gmail messages.

When soldiers were off at war so many years ago they received hand written discourse from their mothers and girlfriends. Sadly some of those were Dear John letters. But that, to me, would probably be better than a Dear John email with a bunch of winky faces or sad faces stuck in. Granted email makes it easier to stay in touch with pictures and videos. You can Skype and all that to have real time interaction with your loved ones.

Emails serve their purpose in the business world and for super long distance conversations. But I would still rather receive a birthday card and letter as opposed to some animated singing thing through the internet.

It is because of this that when a good friend of mine told me that she was going to start writing me letters and that we would have a Fitzgerald – Hemingway letter correspondence I immediately agreed. Not just because of my (and her own ) literary background. And not just because I consider Fitzgerald to be an absolutely brilliant writer. But because I wanted that experience for my life. I want the shoebox in the closet. I want the chance to receive real letters and the cathartic act of writing my own letters.

Plus, as she mentioned, when we are older (and clearly brilliantly famous) we can put them all together and make them into a book. How beautiful!

Most certainly an admirable way for me to spend some of my excess time.

Blindsided

I’ll be honest. When I think of the words “laid off”, images of 30 or 40 something year old men come to mind. These men anxiously meeting with someone from an outside company who has the pleasant job of deciding whether an employee is meeting the standards of the company well enough to continue being paid. Deep down, these men know it’s time to go.

Not me, though. I knew I wanted to go, as soon as I secured a better job. I just hadn’t realized that time was immediately and way ahead of schedule.

I went into work, like every other day, did all the work that was expected for the morning. Did some work that was completely unexpected. Nothing was different. The manager above me, Chris, came in. He was acting strange. Very strange.

Antsy and awkward.

Then the owner of the store came in and called me into the back. He was all dressed up. Salmon polo tucked firmly into loose khaki dress pants. Loafers, of all things.

I figured he had some important meeting.

Then he started talking.

I, was the meeting.

From the second the over-used business phrases for “you’re fired” started coming out of his mouth, I lost it. “We are moving a new direction, and unfortunately we have to move on without you.” Must be a hell of a direction.

I was so shocked and so angry that all I could even try to do was stand there and cry. Not very dignified, I know. But the body does what the body does. And I had relinquished all mental control. Thinking wasn’t even an option. He was officially marking me down as being “laid off”. And all I could do was cry. 25 years old. And a crier.

I did my best to keep it together. But once I actually realized what it was that was happening, that this was my last day and that I would never be setting foot in this store again, the anger started to grow exponentially.

And once that started, the only thing I could do was freak out. Why? What had I done to deserve this treatment? Did I deserve to be fired half way through a shift? Half way through my work week? With no warning and a half-assed explanation about money, organization, and something about being friends when I stopped being angry?

I don’t remember driving. But I did get home. I spent 5 straight hours talking to different people on the phone. The anger turned into panicked anger. Talking was the only way to keep my brain from imploding. Sure, I hadn’t lost anyone. My life was still significantly better than a lot of people in the world. But I had just poured 4 years of my life, almost exactly 4 years, into this job. I had put up with more than I should have. And it was all gone.

Time was simultaneously agonizingly slow and leaping forward in bounds.

Sleeping sort of came in spurts. My body ached. My brain jumped from thingtothingtothingtothing,

Waking up was an odd experience.

I was waking up into a new life.

What was I going to do with it?