I learn by going where I have to go.

Friday, April 27, 2012

We-ell friends, it is Friday night and as I unwind from a day of some much-needed retail therapy (with a Korean face mask and glass of rosé), I thought it no better time than to put out a blog post since I have been such a bad blogger as of late. It feels strange, to not be out and about on a Friday night, but so it goes. 

So why have I been slacking the past month (well, at least in comparison to March, when I was cheery and tackling different parts of the city, and beginning to eat my way around). I'll offer you a myriad of reasons touched on in my last short post - stress, traveling, illness, being stuck in a rut emotionally. Again, no worries, just hear me out.

I think it's a natural progression, gathering from what I've read and what older, much wiser people I've conversed with on the subject. Can we take a minute to thank not only our parents - who, as we reach adulthood and leave behind our Holden Caufield-esque, peevish attitudes, turn out to be much smarter, intuitive, and helpful than we ever could have imagined - but the older folk who tend to crop up around ambitious, intelligent, yet woefully naive and inexperienced people in their 20s. You know, whether it's your favorite professor or some random, gentle old man you meet in the airport, they do this amazing thing where they reassure you that no, really, it's okay if you mess up sometimes, you're supposed to. What, you're 22 and you've failed at something? Perfect! That's exactly what you're supposed to be doing!

This is not to say that I've recently failed - although I have, in a way, because I quit my job. Granted, it was a part-time job I've had less than a month, but I definitely quit. It was definitely a mistake, accepting the offer...long story (relatively) short, going to that job was nearly making me sick with dread, the environment was stressful to say the least, and the job I ended up doing was not the job I applied for. It wasn't even a question of sticking it out and seeing if things would get better - I've worked in a place for over a month where I wanted to not be there every day, and I knew straight away that I did not want to go through that again. 

I might've stuck with it, if I wasn't just getting my feet wet with my first semester of graduate school, and, more importantly, if I wasn't feeling stressed and somewhat unhappy outside of both work and school. But it was just too much to handle right now. I'm so lucky as well, that I can get by without the extra money the job would've provided...but, I am still looking for part-time work. I figured I should quit while I was ahead, and I hate quitting anything, but, I am a quitter. That was a lot of quits, that sentence. But anyway, enough defense of a not-proud moment of my Chicago adventure. Onward.

The real 'fail' that I'm trying to get at, is my state right now. In a nutshell, the charm of moving to the city has worn off. This is not to say that Chicago has lost its charm. Not at all. Except, well, the weather. I do not like the weather. Apparently, summer is great, but it's so great because, in comparison, the rest of the weather of the majority of the year blows. I'll totally fess up to being a wimp! It's not even really cold, but it keeps hovering around the 40s and 50s, and I'm going out everyday in pants, boots, long sleeves, scarves, and coats. COATS. Last night I wore a sweatshirt and longjohns to bed. In Texas it's hitting the 90s! As it should be, at the end of freakin' April! Apologies, for that rant/digression. I'm a Texas girl, I can't help but love the hot.

So, you move to a great big city, the City of Big Shoulders, with fabulous shopping, dining, sports (er...), and entertainment. Deep Dish Pizza! Shopping That Isn't The Killeen Mall! Elevated Transit Systems! The Cubs

Then a month passes. Oh, I've Gained Five Pounds (actually I haven't...I seem to have lost weight, but yeah, that's what the Chest Infection To End All Chest Infections and lots of walking will do to your body). Where Has All My Mad Money Mysteriously Gone? The Red Line Always Smells Like Pee! Also The Curse Is A Real Thing!

I'm exaggerating, of course. But it's been almost two months since I've moved, and you start not only running out of things to do (well, not particularly in Chicago, but kind of). Your zeal fades somewhat, and reality sets in. I'm very far from my family and my friends. The patterns of comfortable life have been totally shaken up, and now you're striking out this new life, completely on your own. As in, on a day to day basis, you're alone - can't forget the awesome support network, but they aren't in everyday, physical life any more. 

So, mostly, I'm lonely. So, stinkin' lonely. I didn't write this for sympathy, and if you feel pity, don't. That just makes it worse. I learned it in my psych and sociology classes, and in life in general, that humans need food, water, the ability to get rid of waste, and a certain mixture of gases to actually survive, but to live, to not go insane, we need social relationships and interactions. Did any of you ever play The Sims? If so, you can picture my "Social" needs bar in the yellow. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I congratulate you on being a far less nerdier person.

I'm totally confident in my loneliness, if that makes any sense. I'm not depressed by any means. But this is total terra incognita for me. London was awesome because, well, it was freakin' London. But, importantly, I knew I was coming back to sweet, sweet Aggieland after. I'm here, in Chicago, as Big Girl Jenny (literal version coming soon, as soon as I pick up exploratory eating again). I don't know anyone. I don't have friends. Ever since I was like, five, I've never had to make friends. Also, and this is the whiniest of whine, but man do I want a boyfriend. Okay, you can pity me for that line. But seriously. A boyfriend would be tops right about now. Sorry for putting that on the Internet, family. 

I almost don't want to complain to anyone, or whine, because I am in a fantastic city, living out one of my dreams, getting to do wonderful things. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But, dammit, it's hard to leave behind Texas. It's hard to put yourself out there. It's really hard, as someone who lives in her friends. It's hard to not completely be myself every day - loud, gregarious, making people laugh, being, me.

But, I know, because it is hard, it's right (that's what she said?). This is a challenge, a big one, and I don't want to fail. The other failures are okay, I think...they're necessary. And I have reached a turning point. There have been tears shed, and pity parties held, and the Time for Whine and Feeling Sorry For Yourself is steadily drawing to a close (though it's always Time for Wine in my book - har har. Oh, god, I'm lame). 

My problems are easy to solve. Lonely? Go make friends! No friends? Didn't you hear me, go make friends! Hungry? Eat a Snickers! (I really am lame. Please still like me?) My problems are temporary, which is hard for someone like me, who is really impatient. The great thing about life is that it isn't perfect. It isn't even about the sad, difficult moments, either. It's about all of it. It's about living at all.

Just in case you've made it this far, I don't have one great, overarching point. In pursuit of my Masters, I've already had enough of summing up really great and valid points with the essays expected of a postgraduate English degree. If I have any goal, then, it is to give my reader something honest. What I wouldn't give for more honesty out there - and I don't mean the opposite of lying, but the revelation of important truths. I feel like I read so many blogs where everything is just cheery and fantastic - that's the nature of the Internet, though, where everyone puts their best face on and doesn't linger in the darker, less shiny moments. Well, some people do, like that one person you went to high school with on Facebook, who desperately offer their cell phone numbers online for a "text cuz im so bored lol", but they're just downers and starved for attention. That's not my purpose here. 

I think I have always been one of those people, who seems like they always have it together, all the time. I kind of have, to be politely honest if not somewhat conceited. It's just true. This is not to discredit happy people either, or happiness in general - it's great, it's what we all want and the majority of people deserve, but the ruts are okay too. And don't get me wrong - I have had, and am having, a somewhat charmed and spectacularly awesome life. When I lay my head to sleep every night, I think about all my temporary emotions, and get to the heart of it - that I am, really, happy. I'm young. I have more confidence than anyone ever should have. I'm so free. I get to be careless, to cry, to laugh, to sleep hard and dream wide. I have the perfect family and friends, for all our imperfections. I can go anywhere in the world I want. I can be anyone. And at the end of each day, I don't need to convince myself that I'm happy, I just need to remember it. 


But, I would like you to join me in this journey, in the peaks and the valleys, and hopefully let fellow humans out there, who may be going through the same thing, know that it's okay to go through rough patches in pursuit of your wild, free dreams that take you far and away from home. I'ts okay to not have friends and quit a job that you hate. Sometimes, it's okay to drink wine and wear a Korean face mask on a Friday night by yourself.

“There is nothing more alone than being in a car at night in the rain. I was in the car. And I was glad of it. Between one point on the map and another point on the map, there was the being alone in the car in the rain. They say you are not you except in terms of relation to other people. If there weren't any other people there wouldn't be any you because what you do which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people. That is a very comforting thought when you are in the car in the rain at night alone, for then you aren't you, and not being you or anything, you can really lie back and get some rest. It is a vacation from being you. There is only the flow of the motor under you foot spinning that frail thread of sound out of its metal guy like a spider, that filament, that nexus, which isn't really there, between the you which you have just left in one place and the you which you will be where you get to the other place.” 
-Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men





I haven't disappeared!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hello all, just wanted to write a quick short post to let you know I haven't gone into hiding or forgotten about my blog. If you were concerned, that is. :)

So what have I been up to in April? So far, school and now work. And traveling and illness. I can't believe it's already the end of the month, and I haven't done anything particularly riveting but I have been really busy all the same. I'm staying on my toes with graduate school, writing lots of papers, reading lots of things, giving lots of presentations, writing lots of notes. Typical. I'm also working on a post all about graduate school, as it is.

I spent almost a week back down in Texas, but as fate would have it I was really sick the week prior, and the week of. Good stuff. Nothing like flying and layovers when you have bronchitis. I'm still finishing up my meds, and as soon as I got back I fell under the weather with another less serious sort of illness...but that's not important. My point is, health wise, April has been kind of miserable, but I'm finally getting better. It doesn't help that I'm slightly angry at Chicago for being in the 40s still. I would give anything for a hot, hot Texas summer - I mean it!

I got a part-time (more like full-time, actually) job which I don't like already. Ha, how's that for news? I'm going to give it more time, though. I'll keep you updated on that as well.

I hate to be one to make these types of excuses for not blogging, because blogging itself isn't really about that, is it? Everyone is busy, and I've learned that if you work hard you have to play hard. I have a few blog posts I've been meaning to post, and have faith that I'm working on those. It's just lately I've felt overwhelmed, homesick, and just not in the cheeriest of moods, and I want my blog to be a reflection of my usual happy, positive self.

So give me a little time, and don't lose faith in me, is my point :).

Til next time!

adams' fools

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy April Fools' Day! What an odd thing to say...especially since it was about six days ago. But forgive me for being slightly behind! Onward. It seems the only significant aspect of this 'holiday' is that every year, unfailingly, some member of my immediate family calls another member of our family and tries to convince them that one of our beloved pets has died. Welcome to another charming Adams' family tradition, folks.

Probably a really accurate depiction of us, actually.

Well, it actually started out that way - many years ago now, we began the hallowed practice on one of Dad's many deployments to Korea. Imagine, the scene: at the end of a long night, one father and husband, alone and far away from his loving family for a full year on the DMZ, hears the phone ring (surely, a trigger for happy, happy emotion). In very grievous and serious tones, he is informed that our dear old orange, fat tabby Toby had expired. Sweet, obese housecat Toby, who was prone to hairballs, and began life under the moniker 'Marmalade', and loved a roll on the carpet batting away at a Fisher Price toy fishing pole, and would drool on your foot for you to pet him, only to bite you when he was finished with your adulation.

Having raised Old Tobes from tender kittenhood, father was naturally grief-stricken and inconsolable, sweet mother giggling mischievously behind a hand clamped tightly over her mouth. Thankfully the horror was only short-lived as we fessed up in our equally short-lived guilt, and thereafter dissolved into giggles and manic joy. So goes another macabre Adams' family tradition (don't get me started on our Columbus Day Necromancy). 

But, because the not-at-all-sick-and-twisted pet-death ruse failed about five years ago (yet each year, we soldier on), we find ourselves in need of reinvention. In the case of this morning with my mom and brother, there was (what I can only imagine) a thinly-veiled and hastily-improvised, near-Machiavellian, rapid descent into both madness and morbidity. As I heard, their interchange went something like:

Mom: Dad and I flew into town for the weekend, hope you're ready. You better pick us up now!
Brian: Oh really? That's actually inconvenient, because I won the lottery last night and just bought tickets for a cruise that leaves later today...
Mom: Oh...well...well, in that case, Winnie died.

I was later informed that Winnie (our elderly, shivery Chihuahua/terrier mix) was the unfortunate target, because "well, she's getting really old...and she had that seizure a few weeks ago, and she's perfectly fine now, but still." How about that level of thought? Our traditions go hard or go home! I mean, they've got modus operandi and backstory for goodness sake. 

Anyway. Mom and Brian's attempt was, at the very least, marginally better than my poorly-acted, awkwardly-worded, and too-exclamation-point-rich attempt, which went like this:

Me: Hi Dad! You'll never guess! That plane ticket I bought! Was for today! I'm at the local airport! You should please pick me up!
Dad: Mmm hmm.

What sparse bit of knowledge might you glean from our tradition? Well, we're not the most convincing liars, evidently. And we probably have a really poor collective memory and cold disregard for our animals...except, as it were, the very opposite holds true. For all the gnashing of teeth, there exists an abiding love for our furry friends.

It's no coincidence that in any given picture of our family in the front or back yard, you just know there was always some type of animal nearby, some stinky dog or bedraggled cat who had somehow wandered into our fenced yard and stuck around for a while. How somehow, there was always food in the bowl and a milkbone to be slipped to a creature patiently sitting. How you find those small, but incredibly significant pieces of your family in those seemingly random, funny flashes of memory, remains a mystery. Take for instance...

That rainy afternoon when I was a kid and I don't even think Brian was a teenager. Holding a plastic baggie with a baby hampster inside, burying it in the compost heap and asking if there was hampster heaven. 

My sweet dog Bonnie, who I never played with enough and Mom, designated enemy of all smelly animals (yet who can be found, on not-so-rare occasions, petting said smelly animals. If she thinks no one is watching.),

Mom, yelling at my friend and me when we fed Bonnie colored Bandaids just to see if she would throw them up the same color. A childish lesson learned. Then, several years after, Bonnie getting a rapid tumor and needing to be put down. Mom and Dad picking me up after school and letting me be there to bury her, but not to see her sweet life come to an end.

Buster, the world's most charming yet bumbling Beagle, and his puppy battles with a disgruntled, cursing hair-tearing-out Dad.



Actually, Dad and his many battles with our various dogs throughout histories. Who knows, the number of cords chewed, socks taken prisoner (only Dad's, might I add), holes dug, boats destroyed. Yes, we had an evil dog who once disabled Dad's boat, in a mystifying act that convinced us they should've used dogs even more extensively in WWII.

Buster, for all his gentle dopiness, always followed Dad's commands as if he were the pack leader. And, eventually, Buster stopped disobeying (well, as much as his nose and voracious appetite allowed) and turned into the best type of dog, just slightly less destructive. 

But at the end of the day, it was always Dad who took care of the hellhounds the best. Made sure they were fleaproof'd, exercised, taken to the vet, had a warm house to sleep in when winter hit. It was Mom who always had a little snack from our dinner table to sneak to the prowling animals, who always made sure they were fed (just like every one of us). Mom who cared more about my little betta fish than I probably did, always asking if his bowl was clean and that he wasn't starving at my negligent hand. And I recall, with a strange and heavy heart, the few times that it was always Dad to shovel out a grave in a nice, sunny corner of our garden and bury them when they had to leave us.

As for me, I loved them in the most obvious way. I pulled on their ears, spoke to them in baby voices, teased them onto rooftops, begrudgingly scooped their poop, and one time chased Buster through underbrush after he got out. But I hold a few nights for myself, times when I was sad and clung to a warm, soft and patiently sitting body next to me. What started in selfishness, wanting a cute dog or cat, grew into lessons of companionship and responsibility.

So, you'll forgive us our seeming folly each April Fools' Day, when we take to the phones to connect us from our respective points in the country in a gentle, nudging reminder of an inside joke. To laugh, to somewhat darkly prod at the love and affection we feel for the little guys. The ones who snack on the figs that fall from the tree and chase butterflies and grasshoppers, who sleep on our grass under bright, blue skies, paws raised to the air in mock submission.

We make the jest year after year, perhaps in a way to ease the pain of knowing that we will, in all likeliness, outlive the pets we add to our family. The important thing is this: that we live and love each other through them. And, if one of our pets, if one our own really did die, the sorrow is actually tremendous. There may be a phone call, but there will definitely be a gathering to grieve, to surround ourselves in comfort, surround ourselves with each other. As for the sadness? It never disappears, but only diminishes to tiny grief at the remembrance of a dear friend lost.






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