Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's All Good

I haven’t written in forever because my whole life is like Jenga, and each little piece is all stacked up into a nice, neat tower, and I’m scared if I take one block out to make time to write or work out or anything that I don’t have much time for, all of the other pieces will fall all over the floor.
So here’s to falling on the floor!

Things have been really good for a while now. My life got significantly better in April, and things have been pretty uphill since then. Don’t get me wrong, now, I’m exhausted all the time, and those old anxiety demons have reared their projectile vomiting heads a few times since I started school again, but those are minor battles when compared to the two years prior. Ughhhhh. I don’t even like thinking about that stretch between 09 and 10.

Life is finally taking some shape. Things are headed in a clear direction. I’m working towards a goal. I’m engaged in project work. I’m doing research. I’m working with kids. And I’m still making time for some fun things here and there. It’s nice to go to sleep every night and realize that I did something with my life today. There are few crappier feelings than lying there in the dark and thinking, “What the hell did I do with my life today? I can’t think of one single thing…”
Though I am content, I am currently experiencing the post-mid semester slump. I had my meltdown last week after I pseudo failed a test, but it was good to pencil in a little crying jag to release some of that pent up intensity. Other than that, I’ve held it together well. I’m just POOPED. All I can think about is taking a 20 hour nap.

I don’t like Christmas much, and I never really have. I love the idea of it, but the reality of it overwhelms me. I know that I physically present a little bit like a crazy person, but I really don’t like to be over-stimulated, and too much activity sort of makes me want to puke or start crying or just freeze up and pretend to be dead so everyone will leave me alone (I’ve always thought it’d be funny if people just tried to “play dead” any time they wanted somebody to go away. Steve Correll does that in “Dinner for Schmucks.” Hilarious!). It feels like the metropolitan statistical area grows about 40 million during the month of December, and I hate being elbow-to-elbow with fat moms in Hobby Lobby. I can’t stand it. I hate how they will bump you in the ass with their basket filled with sparkly little Santas and all kinds of glittery poinsettias, and they don’t even act like they know they did it, but you know they know. They also talk REALLY LOUDLY on their stupid cell phones. Anyway, back to Christmas. This go round, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to a little break from school and work. I’m looking forward to baking gingerbread cookies and making lewd little ginger bread people, using sprinkles and icing to create their inappropriate anatomy. I’m looking forward to watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” by myself, since everyone I know hates it, and crying my head off when Jimmy Stewart is hugging and kissing his wife and kids and he’s finally grateful for his lot in life. I’m looking forward to drinking Big Doug’s eggnog. I’m looking forward to taking a few things in stride, and not worrying so much about deadlines and projects. I think this year will be different.

My perspective on things has changed a lot, and I really started to feel like myself again in the spring. Now I feel more like me than ever, and it feels good. I needed a while to restore and reshape and get back on track, and I am finally there. I feel independent and motivated, and I’m happy to feel like everything is working out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back from CALI, CALI

I got back from L.A. yesterday. I had a great time. It was so good to see people that I knew when I was there. It was nice to be able to drive around and know where I was going. It was great to be around people who knew me and loved me based on who I was in L.A. at that time in my life. But what was really good was knowing that I made the right choice. I got closure.

I sort of hate the word "closure" because it's so clinical. It's like saying "they have issues." What the crap does that even mean? Anyway, I tend to second guess EVERYTHING I do, which is completely annoying to myself and most people who know me. I try to make decisions based on what's right, whatever that means, and I try to mull over a decision until I'm good and ready and have come to a verdict that makes the most sense. I don't make rash decisions and I don't make impulsive ones.

My choice to move home was one of the hardest ones I've ever had to make. Moving away to California was the first time that I got to establish myself as an adult. I got to leave behind all of the things that I wanted to forget and I got to build my life based on new goals and expectations. The thing is, though, after a while, I started to change. I resented a lot of my past. I was bitter at a lot of people. I got really hard.

L.A. brought out strength in me and it taught me that I could handle things on my own. It also taught me that relying on myself was self destructive. You have to have a support group to stay afloat, and you have to be willing to accept the support that other people offer you. Most of all, though, you have to remember that God is in control. I forgot that part for a long time.

I moved back to Memphis and was so depressed and defeated that I couldn't be who I knew I was. I was overwhelmed and depleted. I was taking so many steps backward. I was living with my parents again, I was in a lot of debt, I felt like a loser... I couldn't reconnect with people or give my relationship a fair shot. I couldn't remember what it was like to be happy. I was working in a job under a pervert boss who was banging a 24 year old girl in our office. I was broke and empty and alone, and I kept thinking that I made the wrong choice.

I met this older guy who kept telling me, "Life is about relationships. You have to focus on those, and not where you live." After a while, that made sense to me.

Things started to change. I'm not sure when the turning point happened, but God scooped me up out of my depression and isolation. My prayer, over and over again, was "God, change my heart or change my circumstances." He did both.

Now I have the best job I've ever had. My relationship is maturing and growing. My relationship with my family is better. I'm better.

I guess I want to get to this: God has never left me. He's blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. There were times I thought I couldn't wake up another day. I couldn't handle going through the motions of ONE MORE DAY. But I did. And I did it because God did it.

I was scared of visiting L.A. again. I was scared that I'd visit and not want to leave. I was scared I'd get back into my old scene and I'd resent moving home. I'd feel like a loser again. I'd feel regret.

I flew over L.A. on Wednesday night and I saw all of those billions of lights down below. That used to make me have butterflies. Seeing all of that activity made me excited and hopeful and challenged. This time, though, I didn't have that feeling. I just felt content.

I got to see some of my closest friends when I went back to L.A. That was a great thing. I was really happy, and it felt so good to reconnect. The thing is, though - it was good to VISIT. All I could think of was, "I can't believe I was living here when I was 23. How the crap did I do this?" I went hard and strong for two years, and then I was exhausted.

I got to go to "The Tonight Show" on Friday and see my hero, Dolly Parton. I never thought I'd be so close to her! She was amazing, like she always has been. I can remember dancing around in a blonde wig when I was little and singing Dolly's songs. I used to watch "Smoky Mountain Christmas" religiously. ("Thar's spells in this PIE!")

It was incredible. My friend Mike took us to the green room and gave us VIP treatment. I got my picture with Jay Leno. I couldn't believe that I was there with Jay Leno and Dolly Parton and one of my best friends. I kept thinking how blessed I was.

The next night we went to the Hollywood Bowl and saw Dolly's concert. I was so moved. I kept thinking how she was so in touch with who she was. She has all this fame and she was just this girl from TN and now she's 65 and playing at the Hollywood Bowl. My friend and I saw a shooting star. It was amazing.

Dolly started playing "Coat of Many Colors," and she talked about how she wrote that song to let the hurt out. Kids bullied her for being poor, and she said that by writing that song, she started healing. I knew what she meant. It's like all of that hurt from growing up, all of that resentment and bitterness from being bullied or misunderstood just sort of left me. I felt completely OK with myself. I started to cry. I felt grateful and fortunate and happy.

For the first time in a long time, I feel really happy. I've felt happy the past few months. I've come to terms with my life. I'm OK with not knowing what's next. I'm OK with lacking direction and certainty. But most of all, I'm OK with being here, and I'm actually happy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some other work blogs.

Before you decide that I'm a disgruntled employee (yes, yes I am), please note that I am not using anyone's names, nor am I disclosing the name of the hellhole in which I worked. That has to count for something, right?

January 20, 2011

Let me give you an example of why I hate customer service. I emailed someone today to tell them that their issue has been fixed, and this was her email response to me.

"So. . . . What’s the answer to the question? Why did this happen and how was the issue resolved? And have you checked that it’s fixed on other pages? I was expecting a more complete response."

And I sort of wanted to google her home address, show up on her front door step, take a big pile of dog crap out of the yard, and rub it in her face to "teach her a lesson" about what it means to employ professionalism and courtesy in the workplace, but instead, I sent her a very very sweet email telling her how very sorry I was for being the dumbest person in the whole wide world who wasn't smart enough to be in a service position.


Am I the only person on earth who feels like EVERYONE IS GETTING ON MY NERVES RIGHT NOW?!?!?!? If only I could blame it on PMS. But I can't. It's just me.

January 24, 2011

I just received an URGENT email telling me that I had to URGENTLY fix something. The issue was this:

"Kimmie just came up and told me that there was a spelling error in the disclaimer of the site. There is a lower-case ?C? in the word ?care? and it needs to be upper case."


When I think of URGENCY, and CRISIS, and IMMEDIATE, I think of suicide, or school shootings, or terrorism, or international crises.

Even at this stupid job, I think of urgency as someone's entire website being down, or someone's information not showing up.

A lower case c?



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Good Old Fashioned ROAST

There are few things in life better than a good old fashioned roast. My last job was HORRIBLE. It was the second worst job I've ever had, and if I'd stayed there ONE DAY longer than I did, it would have been the first worst job I'd ever had.

One thing that's kept my mental health in check has been to journal and blog. In my formative years, it was creating artwork, but at some point, I transitioned to writing.

One of the things that kept me from strangling my boss at my old job was keeping a work blog that I promised not to publish until after I quit. I only worked there for four months, and my boss hated me, so I will never use him as a rec. So, old boss, this is my special gift to you.

Entry #1
January 24, 2011

My boss is a very passive aggressive person who dresses like some sort of homosexual hipster from the early 1990's. I don't mean one of those wonderful, sexy Greek god homosexuals, or one of those homosexuals that is hilarious and sassy and flamboyant (don't judge me for the stereotypes- my gay friends make jokes about the stereotypes and have given me full rights to making jokes, too). I mean one of those dark, brooding, hateful homosexuals who pours rat poison in your ginger ale because he resents being a flight attendant. You know what I mean. He is also deathly skinny. He's one of those people who considers himself an "artist," which is really weird, because he's a geek and does not have a single creative bone in his body. He tries desperately to be associated with the "arts" community, but he has nothing to offer it. He's just one more underachiever in this life who has a lame job down by the airport and works in IT.

I've been trying to figure him out. I've been trying to make a mental map of his passive aggression, hateful sarcasm, and biting comments, but I've decided to stop trying. Every day he tries to make my job more menial. I've seen this before. He is trying to force me to quit, because he doesn't have one good reason to fire me. He doesn't even have the fact that I'm blogging about my dumb work as a reason to fire me, because I'm not posting any work blogs until after I quit, and yes, you lame, uncreative, 1990's suppressed manorexic homosexual, I am quitting this stupid job that is infinitely beneath me, and I wish I was quitting today, but I'm not, because I am responsible, which is one more reason you will be regretful when I leave.

He speaks in all of these weird metaphors and analogies that DO NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. Maybe this job is to teach me more empathy for people who have disabilities. I'm not being funny. I really mean that. I take for granted that I do not have any disabilities. When this guy talks to me, it's like I'm totally disabled. I feel completely confused. When he has these "Come to Jesus" talks with me, I sit there listening to him, watching his lame little soul patch float up and down, trying to figure out what in the hell he's saying. He'll tell me things like, "Well, Rach, you just need to dress for the job you want." Does that mean I should wear a firefighter uniform? Because I want the job where I burn down the building.

My best friend is a very wise and interesting person with intuition beyond his years. He said, "Rachel, you just have to think of your work as the set of a sitcom," (obviously my best friend lives in L.A.), "and your boss is just one more character. Just know he isn't a real person, and that will help you deal with him better."

What's weird is that my boss doesn't really get under my skin that badly because I know my own value. I'm smart, I'm a hard worker, and I can learn to do any job. He can treat me like some idiot all he wants, and it won't get under my skin as long as I KNOW that I'm not an idiot. The fact that he can't control me is why he asks me to order him lunch and answer his phones. Ugh. He hates women. Sexism is so stupid. Why live in America if you're one of those people? Aren't all men created equal here?

I am so ready for this layover in my life to end so I can board the next plane and fly to my destination.

This might be the dumbest job I've ever had.

The upside is that it isn't emotional at all. It's just stupid, mind-numbing monkey work.

There's a girl at my office that I endearingly refer to as Pollyanna behind her back. She's got long stringy hair and she needs braces and she thinks that she is very smart. There's a very (VERY) slight attractiveness about her, despite her vampire teeth, but once she opens her mouth, she turns into this disgusting, wretched, urchin. She tries very hard to denounce her Memphis roots by faking a mid western accent, which could be hilarious, if it wasn't so obnoxious. She's 23 years old and has that virginal, fresh out of college look on her face. She often asks me to make her copies.

I can play the passive aggressive game, too. Watch me walk out the door without a 2 week notice, bitch.

Dresscode for Death

Life has been great over the past few months. GREAT. My job is the best job ever, and every day, I'm excited about going to work. I've never had an experience like this. Also, I'm on the verge of moving out (again). This makes me excited. Something about looking at piles and piles of cardboard boxes and mismatched furniture makes me absolutely bonkers. I'm looking forward to everything having its own place again. I even had a moment last week where I wasn't just tolerating this town, but I was actually embracing it. I was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of my bf's dad's house, and I was drinking a glass of red wine, and it started to rain. The house has a metal roof, so you could hear the rain tapping away. It was so nice. I kept thinking that I couldn't wait to get out of Memphis. I couldn't wait to cut ties with everyone I knew and start over. But I went to LSU and came back. And I went to L.A. and came back. And even though this isn't a place that I necessarily want to be forever, if I wind up staying here forever, there are moments, like hearing rain fall on a roof in the summertime, that make it ok.

Then there are moments that make me want to light the whole city on fire.

I have mentioned on countless occasions that I grew up attending one of those really strict tele-evangelist churches. Not one of the ones that casts out demons and people speak in tongues and fall backwards on the stage, but a tele-evangelist church, nonetheless. Despite the PTSD that I've carried into adulthood from a lot of my memories at that place, I have a strong appreciation for parents who took me to church every Sunday and paid for me to go to camp and all of those things. I'm appreciative that I have an understanding of who God is, and who He isn't, and what I believe and don't believe about Him. I appreciate my background and my faith is the most important thing in my life. But certain parts of the cultural Southern church thing just aren't my gig.

My mom's good friend died on Saturday. She'd been battling cancer for a long time, and on Saturday, she passed away. She had such a servant spirit, and she was someone who was genuinely kind. She'd dedicated her life to serving God, and that was obvious in everything that she did.

I'm not big on funerals, as I've touted before. I hate death and I hate funeral homes and I hate the overwhelming smell of memorial flowers and I hate hugging people whom I hate. So, pretty much, I avoid funerals if I can. Last time I went to a funeral and went back to work afterwards, I was totally worthless and kept crying the whole time. So this time, I decided to go to the visitation the night beforehand, so if I started bawling my eyes out, it wouldn't be quite as bad.

I had a lot of respect for my mom's friend. I respected her because she was the real deal. She wasn't fake or hateful or intolerant. She was genuine. I respected her so much that I carefully picked out a funeral-appropriate outfit that wouldn't make me look like a trollop. Now, I am Dolly Parton through and through, and I typically think, "the flashier, the better," but in this case, I ruled out flashy because this was a matter of respect. I also ruled out casual. I wear flip-flops religiously, but decided I'd go with some very low heeled, close-toed pumps. I even wore pantyhose. There's nothing in this world I hate more than pantyhose except mayonnaise. I HATE how pantyhose drag across your leg hair if you aren't freshly shaved, and I HATE how they bunch up around your crotch so you usually have to wear a slip so your crotch doesn't look lumpy, and I HATE how just the tiniest little snag will make them run and then you look like white trash. I HATE them (I do wear fishnets on occasion, though. not because I want to look like a hooker, but because European women wear fishnets in the winter, and everyone knows that European women are very glamorous, except for the whole not shaving their pits thing). But, the point is, I respected this lady so much that I put on close toed shoes and pantyhose in the 4908 degree heat and I wore a business casual outfit (I hate business casual).

My sister and I pulled up into the parking lot and I saw a few people walk in. And these people were wearing flip flops. And khaki capris. And t-shirts.

And I almost fainted.

I walked into the funeral home and probably would have thrown up if I hadn't spent thousands of dollars in therapy figuring out how to manage anxiety around people that make me really uncomfortable. Everyone was about 50 pounds overweight and I had never in my life been so offended at peoples' lack of taste. I saw people wearing blue jeans. BLUE JEANS. At the funeral home! I had bunched up pantyhose creeping up my crotch and my feet were all crippled because of my close-toed pumps and these white trash people were wearing blue jeans, and SHORTS, and FLIP FLOPS at the FUNERAL HOME?!


These are the things that make me hate this town. But you know what? I've noticed that there are just certain subcultures of people around here that I just can't be around because they irritate the crap out of me. It isn't really the entire city that sucks, despite the high crime and educational deficits and obesity and lack of constructive activities. There are actually a lot of wonderful, supportive, moral, good people here. And I've been genuinely happy since I started my new job and my life is back on track. But seriously. A word to the wise: if you're going to a funeral home, shorts, flip flops, blue jeans, capris, cargos, and tank tops ARE COMPLETE INAPPROPRIATE.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No News is Good News

I used to work with this lady that I sort of hated, and she was big and fat and gross and her hair was gray and greasy and always pulled back in a short pony tail, and she had little skin tags all over her face and neck that looked like little skin lice or something, and her teeth were short and brown and she always had a lot of spit in the corners of her mouth when she talked. I didn't hate her because she was gross. I hated her because she was mean. She was mean and hateful and a HUGE judger, and she told the same uninteresting stories all the time, and she manipulated and spread rumors about everyone behind their backs. She was so negative. Plus, she looked like Chief Bromden.

Anyway, she used to always say, "No news is good news," and that's how I'd like to start my blog. I've noticed that I write more when I'm depressed or mad, and I haven't been depressed or mad in so long that I haven't really had the need to write in order to vent. With that being said, let me tell you about a few really cool things that have happened in the past month.

God's been working in my life, and I can feel it with every part of my being. I know I'm sounding kind of Benny Hinn-ish, but for reals, I feel like a changed person.

I was working in an incredibly negative, isolating, depressing job down by the airport where I was crunching numbers and getting yelled at by sorority whores all day. My boss was a disgusting male chauvinists, Pee-Wee Herman looking pig, always telling me I needed to dress sexier or act a certain way if I wanted a raise. He was really stupid, too. Stupid people on power trips are the WORST. There was also this disgusting, obnoxious, LOUD, raging idiot girl in the office with whom I think my boss was having an affair, but that isn't really relevant. She was the fakest, most ignorant person I've ever had to endure, and she'd be really fake-positive (fake positivism sucks) all the time in the loudest voice you've ever heard, and I always called her Pollyanna. Between Pee-Wee, Pollyanna, and the Greek culture, I could barely handle it.

I was working in this joke of an office shared with about 10 other different companies, in the GHETTO, surrounded by drug dealers and Mexican strip clubs. Plus the office is really far away from my current domicile.

It was during this time that I was struggling with a crap-ton of crap. Serious depression mainly, but I'm not sure how much was biological and how much was environmental. I was struggling with my faith. I was struggling with invasive thoughts. I was sucked into a huge black hole that I couldn't crawl out of, and every day felt like Monday, and I had nothing to look forward to, and all I could do was beat myself up for being a loser and a failure and leaving a dream to live a nightmare every day.

So, all of this leads up to me eating chicken.

I love fried chicken, and so does my bff, and one night around 1:30 in the morning, he and I bought all of the fried chicken (and I do mean ALL of it) at Popeye's in Hollywood and we ate every last bit of it, and the Persian guy running the place was really mad that we bought all of his chicken. I digress.
So, I am at work in my ghetto hellhole one month ago today, and I decide to go to Popeye's for lunch, because there are literally only two or three restaurant options in that area of town, and I was having a bad day and decided to make it better with some chicken. So I drive down into the deep hood and buy me some Popeye's, and I'm sitting in my car, parked in front of the strip club, eating my chicken leg and biscuit, and I get mad. I decided to have a Come to Jesus meeting with Jesus. I started talking to Him. And I sort of challenged Him.

I've never been one of those sweet, "precious" Sunday School kids who volunteers to put the felt Jesus up on the board. I've always been the one to ask my Sunday School teachers why they act one way at church and another way at home. I asked them why what they were teaching was completely opposite of what Jesus preached. I was never really a hellion, but I'll tell you what, I had no problem telling somebody that I wasn't going to believe them just because they told me to. And I think that's what ultimately really made me believe the Jesus stuff. It wasn't the church or Sunday school or youth group. It was me doing my own research because everyone else seemed so "off."

So I'm sitting in my car, eating my chicken, looking at the strip club, and I say to God, "Hey. You want your children to be happy, right? You want us to honor you, right? You want us to be holy and righteous and to love you and live for you and to be vibrant and free in You, right? So why am I working in a horrible, dark, evil work environment, eating chicken in my car in front of a strip club? I just absolutely don't believe that this is what You want for me. I really don't. So show me what it is that You DO want, because honestly, I just don't think that this is it."

So, after we had our little talk, I drove back to my stupid hideous office and sat in my car for a second wondering whether or not I should even go back inside, because I really didn't feel like I could handle it one more SECOND. But I did. I went back inside. Back to my computer of death, back to my debits and credits, back under the tyranny of the most ridiculous wimp of a sexist pig boss ever and back to Pollyanna's metal lungs of ignorance.

I sat in my chair, and my cell phone rang. I answered it.

Guess what.

It was a job offer.

I just about dropped dead. They weren't calling asking if I'd interview. They were calling to ask if I could START WORK ON MONDAY. They wanted me to work with kids with learning disabilities. It made me cry.

I quit my stupid job via email on Saturday. And on Saturday, I met this old Jewish guy named Lenny who started going to a Christian church and has been reading the Bible for the past few months.

Today I had lunch with Lenny and a girl named Tammy whom I'd never met. Tammy started telling me her story, about how she has been transient for the past 12 years, and she was homeless and an addict and a prostitute. She told me that she hit bottom and almost died time and time again, and then one day she found God. To see this vibrant connection between this old guy, Lenny, and this young girl, Tammy, and how they both had to go through brokenness and emptiness and heartbreak to find God... It blew my mind. I felt so encouraged and real and authentic after we had lunch together.

For the first time in a couple of years, I feel like myself again. I love going to work every day. I love my kids. I love that every day, I wake up, and I feel like God is giving me another chance. I got into the school psychology program at U of M and will be starting school again pretty soon. I can't wait. For the first time in a long time, I'm excited. And you know what else? I'm happy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Don't you never take no for an answer."

Things are looking up. I'm feeling better. I've been doing a lot of soul searching and reading and praying and consulting (and cardio!), and I am starting to feel more settled.

My mom took me to lunch at the airport yesterday. It was a great way to break up my Monday.

You know what? When you have a monkey job, every day feels like Monday.

Anyway, we went to the airport and ate lunch, and it was really fun, and it made me feel like my situation wasn't so terminal (get it? airport? terminal? haha. I'm funny.).

I met this guy (who is kind of a famous dude) in the school psychology department at Memphis last week and we talked for a good solid hour. He helped my wheels start spinning again and gave me some ideas, and those ideas gave me hope.

I am not sure how people make it without hope.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday (I never go to the eye doctor) and my eye doctor was this old guy who was kind of hunky because he was very gentlemanly and had white hair and he talked like Colonel Sanders, and I'm a sucker for those gentlemanly old dudes who pull out your chair before you sit down to eat. He checked out my eyes and we shot the bull a little bit and then he brought me over to this optician lady named Debbie.

Debbie wasn't anywhere close to five feet tall. She was kind of a midget. She was super skinny and had really long pageant hair that was way too young for her and she had a TON of wrinkles around her mouth from smoking for a hundred years and she had dentures. We were sitting at her desk and I was looking at different glasses, and then I noticed her engagement ring. It was huge and beautiful and looked like a Yurman, so of course, I said, "Whoa. Your ring is gorgeous." and she said, "Thanks." and I said, "Somebody must really love you!" and she said, "I was divorced for 16 years and never thought I'd be married again, but then I fell in love." and then I noticed...

her ring finger was....

A nub.

Not kidding. Her finger was a nub. It was chopped off right at the knuckle. And then I got all paranoid that maybe she thought I was mentioning her ring because I was covering up for staring at her nub, but the truth of it is that her ring was unbelievable and I really was looking at THE RING and I didn't even NOTICE her nub.

So that was weird.

We flitted around from stand to stand trying on glasses. This lady was so good at her job. She kept putting her hand on my arm or my back, saying "Oh yes, those are so you!" or, "Those aren't sassy enough for you, girly." and normally I HATE IT when people I don't know touch me, but it didn't bother me when she did it because she was so genuine and maternal and rough around the edges, like Loretta Lynn or something.

She told me all about her 33 year old son who has special needs and who works in the deli at Kroger full time and volunteers at the VA hospital and goes to church every Sunday. She told me about being married to a guy in the air force and living in Nor Cal for a while and picking oranges right off the tree in the backyard. We didn't talk about me very much because I listened to her and was interested in what she had to say, but the hunky old man eye doctor came out and said, "You gettin' your doctorate?" and I said, "No, I applied but didn't get in. Not sure what's in store for me." and Debbie looked at me like I was stupid and said, "You try again. You just fill out the application and keep trying until you get in. Don't you never take no for an answer." and even though I don't really know if I'll apply again, I was really encouraged by Debbie and the eye doctor. They gave me hope.

Death Comes in Threes

Well, death comes in threes, and last week it was Nate Dog and Mikey and yesterday it was Liz Taylor.

I'm sick of being in my rut.

I feel very trapped by my life right now.

I keep thinking about Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, where he's trying to bargain with Jody Foster, and he says, "What I want is a view. I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water," and he has this look on his face that is really hopeful, and his eyes are on fire with excitement because he's envisioning something better than right now.

I'd like to have that Hannibal Lecter face, where thinking of something good gives me hope. I always think about walking West on Washington and looking out at Venice Beach, at the ocean and the sun and all of the weirdos, and the Santa Monica Pier and all of those mountainous hills of Malibu on the right. That's what I think of a lot. I remember feeling like, "This is it," when I'd look out at the water. It made me feel whole or something. I'm not sure that's what I want anymore, though. If I had been sure, I wouldn't have left, right?

I wonder what it is that I actually want.

I've been stagnant for a solid year and I'm a little bit afraid that I've lost myself for good. I keep hearing this echoing, "Rachel has left the building," envisioning all of the lights at the FedEx forum shutting off with that resounding "POW!" followed by a resounding silence. I am struggling with my faith. Not just my spiritual faith but my faith in myself and my faith in people and my faith that things are going to get better.

I talk to one of my friends a lot about the quarter life crisis that we're enduring, and something we often discuss is that it's sometimes frustrating to know that what you THINK in your mind logically can conflict so strongly with what you FEEL. I KNOW that things will get better, I KNOW that life will, eventually, work out - but I FEEL like digging a hole in the backyard and just sleeping in it until I'm about 35 because I feel like I can't handle one more second of my life right now.

I keep thinking that if my quarter life crisis is this bad (and it truly is the worst stage of my life I've yet to endure), then I am very, very concerned about my impending mid life crisis. I can just picture me 20 years from now, getting tons of Botox, driving to Vegas, stealing some hunky gas attendant named Jose away from his family as I drive through Arizona and making him be my cabana boy, wearing mini skirts and sparkly heels and getting extensions and blowing through money on red Corvettes and Louis Vouittons and Nike Shox and Ed Hardy hats for Jose....

Seriously. I'm not handling my current QLC well, so the fast approach MLC is really going to be a doozy.

I'm not even sure what I think is fun anymore.

I'd like to just quit everything that I'm doing right now and take a road trip. It could be my own, white trash self-discovery/Tibetan spiritual journey equivalent. I want to leave this depressing building RIGHT NOW and just take my keys and my Chapstick and start driving until I reach some sign in the middle of a prairie somewhere that says "You are not insane. You do not have a terminal illness. You do not have bad karma. God is not punishing you. You're going to make it. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Quarter Life Crisis is Kicking My @$$

I googled "Quarter Life Crisis" today to see if I could get any tips. I came across this:

“I believe I am entering phase five of my quarter life crisis. It’s a bit like how grief has stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance.

Anyway quarter life crisis, phase 1: Denial. Party harder than before, delete your birth year from your Facebook profile.
Phase 3: Bargaining. Give up smoking for a week and buy some expensive face wash.
Phase 4: Shame and regret.
Phase 5: Fear of your imminent death.
Phase 6: Acceptance that since you’re not ever going to do all the things you want to do or know all the things you want to know you may as well sit around smoking weed all day if you feel like it as anxiety only hastens your IMMINENT DEATH.
Phase 7: Death.”

It made me feel a little more hopeful, like I'm not the only one (THANK GOD).

Here's the link to the whole article:

The first catalyst for a quarter-life crisis is a lack of meaningful work.

Please excuse me as I get back to my debits and credits.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Tribute to Mikey

I used to meet this older guy in Memphis all the time for lunch or coffee. His name was Bill Burke, and I met him at an arts conference at Rhodes College in 2006. I think that I’ve written about him before. Anyway, he was in his 70’s, and he used to write for the Commercial Appeal newspaper, and he was also the editor of Elvis World Magazine. We used to meet up and talk about writing and editing, and he gave me a lot of good guidance when I was fresh out of college and had no idea where my life was going (and still don’t, but that is neither here nor there). Anyway, my friend Bill passed away in 2008. I remember the morning that my mom came into my room after I’d been out late getting into all kinds of trouble with a certain elected official in my town, and she said, “Rach, Bill Burke died this morning. He had a heart attack.” I wasn’t even really awake yet, but I couldn’t stop crying, because he was one of the only people in my life I felt like, at that point, “got me,” and he’d really invested in me as an aspiring writer. Yesterday, I remembered one thing that he told me that has never left me. He told me that you have to write in the middle of the pain. You can’t wait for the pain to pass, or you’ll forget.

He was right.

In 2009, my grandfather died when I was living in Los Angeles. I remember after his funeral, I was so ready to go back to L.A., because I was grieving so hard, and I wanted a break from it. On my way home, I was sitting in the airport in Dallas and trying to write about him, but I was crying so hard that I couldn’t get the words out. I was grieving too hard. I still have a Word doc saved on my desktop, two years later, that says, “Paw Paw,” and I’ve never been able to open it up and read it. One of these days, maybe I’ll be ready. The point is, I didn’t write in the middle of the pain, because I couldn’t.

This is going to sound trivial compared to the death of a human, but right now, I’m sort of doing a social experiment on myself, and forcing myself to write in the middle of the pain.

Here is my first stab at it.

Before I begin, though, I want to reflect on my speech class at LSU when I was a freshman. My teacher was talking about conveying human emotion and the importance of demonstrating your humanity when you give a speech. That day, he played a famous clip from “The Johnny Carson Show,” where Jimmy Stewart read a poem that he wrote about his dog, Bo. At the end of the poem, Bo died, and everyone in our class was crying, including my professor, as we saw Jimmy Stewart choking through the end of his story, about how Bo died, and he still missed him and thought about him all the time. I don’t know how to embed videos (still), but you can see the clip here:

My boss verbally assaulted me at work yesterday, and I felt so defeated as I drove home, between not getting back into school, and having yet another unhealthy work situation, and feeling like I’d failed over and over again despite trying really hard to do the right things. As soon as I walked in the door through the garage, my dad said,

“I have bad news. Mikey died today.”

Mikey was my mean old cat. When I left for work yesterday morning, she was perched at the top of the stairs, gray and fluffy, looking arrogant and content, like a big fat lady on a swing in a Renaissance painting, and I said, “Bye bye, Mikey!” but I didn’t know that was the last time I’d ever see her. It was my real goodbye.

I got Mikey when I was 18. My old boyfriend had cat-napped her and brought her to my house when my parents were out of town. We both knew that they would kill me if I brought an unwelcome pet into the house, but she had such a sad story that we couldn’t turn her down. Mikey had been an orphan and was raised in a cardboard box in the closet of an alcoholic neighbor. If that isn’t a Lifetime movie script, I don’t know what is. When my boyfriend brought her over to my house, I fell in love with that cat right off the bat. I would put her in my purse and take her shopping with me in Saddle Creek or put her in my lap and drive to Wendy’s and take her to get a frosty. She was a little gray powder puff, and I took her with me everywhere I could until she became a teenage cat and got real mean. Mikey would bite the hell out of anyone she could. She’d bite me, she’d bite my parents, she’d bite pet sitters. She’d bite up all the wires to my computer or lamps or clocks until I’d give her attention. She’d bite my ankles when I’d stand up by my bathroom mirror to put my make up on. She was mean as hell. And she was the best cat ever.

She was really intuitive. When I got my tonsils out when I was 21, Mikey was right there in my bed with me, perched on my chest and purring until I was back to my old self. When I went away to college, she felt sort of abandoned, I imagine, and when I’d come home for spring break, she’d walk right up to me and turn her back toward me for a good long while, pretending to ignore me until I gained her approval again. Then when she decided she was finished punishing me, she’d hop up in my bed in the middle of the night and start purring and paw my face gently. She was my little girl.

We used to play this game that I called “Monkey Paws,” where I’d be on one side of a closed door and she’d be on the other, and she’d stick her little monkey paw under the door and try to grab my finger. We played that dumb game for a good half hour at a time.

One Christmas in 2006, Mikey ran away and was lost for three days. I was so devastated. We couldn’t find her anywhere. We prayed and prayed that Mikey was safe and that she hadn’t been eaten by coyotes or anything. Then my dad ran into my room one morning and threw Mikey on my bed while I was still asleep, and I remember her fur being really cold, because he had found her outside, and she hadn’t even been found long enough to warm up yet, and my dad teared up and said, “It’s a miracle- Mikey is alive! I found her! I found her!”

Even as I type all of this now, I’m crying. I’m crying because I didn’t get to tell her goodbye. I’m crying because I wasn’t with her when she died. I didn’t get to stroke her on the head and face and tell her that I loved her, even though she’d always bite the shit out of me and she was the meanest old cat I’d ever met. I feel bad that she died at the vet and she died by herself, and I wasn’t there.

Nobody knew she had a bad heart. Nobody knew that her time was running out.

She used to hide under my bed during thunderstorms because she’d get so scared. She felt safe in my room.

She used to jump around through piles of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. She also used to bite through any kind of dessert that was wrapped in Seran wrap. That cat had a killer sweet tooth.

I feel a little bit bad that I’m this devastated over a cat. Some people lose their parents, or spouses, or children. My cat died out of the blue one day, and I cried all night and cried at the gym this morning.

I guess I just feel like I can’t deal with any more loss. For some reason, I had these ideas about this year that haven’t panned out. I thought that good things were coming. I thought that the whole reason I moved away and moved back here was because I was supposed to get my Ph.D. I thought that I’d get a job that I loved. I thought I’d have clarity in my personal life. The truth is, though, I’ve experienced one loss after another. The loss of a vision, the loss of a dream, the loss of friends, the loss of a lifestyle, the loss of freedom, the loss of ambition, the loss of a cat.

Rest in peace, Mikey. I hope that there’s some kind of cat heaven where you can bite wires and play Monkey Paws all day. I miss you so much and loved you more than you could ever know.

Monday, March 14, 2011


My new life plan, as inspired by my bff:

We should do a cross-country trip this summer and wear JORTS the whole time! We could get a Bronco 2 and paint "Jorts across America!" and just tour all the states in our jorts. We could do public speaking things at county fairs and act like we're motivational speakers and run up on the stage with our jorts and headset microphones and drink a ton of coffee beforehand so we're all hyper as shit when we run out on stage and ask all the confused people- "Alright! How's everybody doing out there!?!" and then we can pipe "Everybody Dance Now" by C&C Music Factory or "(Whoomp)There It Is" over the PA while we run around the stage and through jorts at people in the crowd.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Support Systems

Well, I didn't get into any Ph.D. programs this go round. Yesterday I had some trouble keeping the catastrophizing at bay. I'm not sure what happens now. I left the land of opportunity to try another opportunity, and it didn't pan out. It's been one disaster after another. So what do I do now? Move back to L.A.? Stay here? Move somewhere else? Wait?

I'm going to wait.

It's been a brutal road. From selling crap on Craigslist to buy a GRE prep course, to studying every day for six weeks, to retaking the GRE, to the extensive Ph.D. applications, to writing the essays, to spending money on transcripts, to securing the recs, to the application fees. It's been a long, drawn out, 7 month process. At least it's over now.

Yesterday, I cried on and off at work all day, which was pretty embarrassing, and I had to blame the glassy eyes on everything from a hangover to a period, neither of which was true, of course, but saying "It looks like I have no escape, now." just wouldn't have been the appropriate response.

I'm really disappointed. I'm alright, though.

I had this overwhelming "calling" type of feeling, this instinctual draw toward counseling that really made me believe that I was supposed to do it for the rest of my life.

You know what, though?

Sometimes your instincts are wrong. Or sometimes they are right for that season of your life, and then they change.

I went to this conference at Rhodes College one time where I met this really interesting hippie lady who told me she went to law school and loved practicing as an attorney and just imagined herself dying, crouched over her desk at 100 years old as an attorney, but somewhere in life, the attorney thing didn't work out, and she wound up playing the mountain dulcimer and joining some kind of medieval times band or something. And she told me that everything in your life is valuable, even if you don't use it, and your life can change courses immediately for the better, even when you can't see what's going on.

Yesterday someone very dear to me called me out of the blue. We haven't talked in a year, probably. He was driving up the coast and told me that he had just heard some guy on the radio saying that the people who are the most successful people in the world - Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Abe Lincoln - all had one major thing in common, and that was a tremendous amount of failure. The smart guy at my church said this, too. I think both of these guys read "Outliers." Anyway, my friend calling me made me start remembering some things. He's older than me and was able to give me the "I've walked down this road and it sucked, and now you have to do it, too, but as one person coming from the other side, I'm here to tell you that you're going to make it."

I was whimpering out, in between sobs, that I made a lot of bad decisions that wound up stunting my career path and I didn't have enough life experience in L.A. to know better, and he said something that I'll keep me with me forever. He said, "But Rachel, that WAS your life experience." And he's right. You have to learn, and go through some crap, and keep moving forward.

He told me to keep my rejection letters to remember all of this and to look back on rejection as something that made me keep trying.

Then another friend of mine shot me a text and said, "Remember U.Memphis failed Fred Smith when he pitched his FedEx idea to his marketing class. So, f*ck them!" And I needed to hear that, too.

I'm not sure where to go from here, so I'm not going anywhere. At least, for now, I have an answer.

I had this item listed on Craigslist, and this lady emailed me to inquire about it, but it wasn't available anymore, and somehow she and I have become pen pals. This is what she wrote me yesterday:

"Dear Rachel,

I am sorry to hear that you didn't get into a PhD program, and I will certainly pray that God gives you a job and willingness to comply with his plan for your life. That being said, I'd also like to encourage you with a verse that has given me hope during a number of miserable seasons in my life (including the one I'm currently in). It's from Romans 8:28, that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." That's a big promise. That means cancer, financial ruin, not getting into desired PhD programs--all of these things work for the good of those who trust in and are called by him. There are a million connections, unseen to you, that God sees. Getting into one of those programs could have been the worst thing that ever happened to you.

Be assured that you have someone praying for you, and have faith that God has something far greater prepared for you this year."

Pretty amazing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I think I have writer's block. Ha. That makes me feel like a real writer. Dropping lines like "writer's block." It's like those fresh-out-of-grad-school kids who constantly label everyone with a diagnosis. I had a friend who was really obsessed with reactive-attachment disorder for a while. Almost more obsessed with it than I am with Asperger's.

I'm going to New Orleans tomorrow and I can hardly wait. I can't wait to see my cousin and my aunt and to be in a place that's more open and free than where I am now. I always feel relieved when I'm down there, like I can be myself without being judged. I think that I could move there for a while. Explore the city and meet weird people and go to little holes in the wall that only the locals frequent. I think after a while, though, I'd get bored with it like I do with most other things. I was recently reading a book by a real smart guy who said, "I love the city. I feel right at home with the concrete beat." and I knew what he meant. I'm so ready to move back to the city. I can hardly wait. This small town stuff is killing me, but I'm grateful for the small town background I have. It makes me feel like Elvis or something. That whole grassroots community thing has given me a lot of good solid morals and an understanding of family and friends that a lot of people don't have the privilege of knowing. I'm ready to have it as the place that I come back to, though, not the place that I live. That time is coming.

I had a big week last week, and since then, I haven't slept well or much, and I've been on edge. I've sort of been a jerk. I haven't meant to be irritable or edgy, but I have so much going on in my mind that I haven't had much tolerance for meaningless chatter and a battery of questions. I'm looking forward to having some solidity in my life, although solidity never really comes in its entirety, because life is spastic, it isn't smooth. I'm looking forward to knowing a few things and having some ground to stand on so I can move forward. I've been doing a lot of investigating about places I'd like to live and things I'd like to do, and it's made me feel hopeful and ready to take on a new challenge, which is a nice feeling. It makes me excited.

I really miss doing research. I watched a show about crazy people last night and it made me miss reading scholarly journals about mental illness and doing research studies about all of that stuff. I'm hoping that I can get back into that again. I am happy when I'm learning things.

I'm reading a treatment that my friend sent me for a screenplay he's drafting, and it feels good to be engaging in something creative. Doing debits and credits all day long has sort of made me lose my creative bent, or at least made me forget about it. About a week ago, I was at the gym, putting my work out shoes on. My work out shoes are bright yellow, blue, red, and black, and I got them on clearance at an "ethnic store" a couple of years ago because I liked how obnoxious they were. Nothing is lamer than the glamour puss at the gym who never breaks a sweat (because she's there to catch a man, not work out) wearing a matching $300 outfit. Lame, lame. This lady in the locker room said to me, "Wow, I love those shoes... You're a creative person, aren't you?" She also commented on my toenails, because they were black (I wear black nail polish a lot because I'm too lazy to actually paint my toenails every week, so I touch them up with a Sharpie. I know. I know.) Anyway, I wanted to hug her. I think not really doing anything with my life for the past six months and feeling sub-average has made me forget about all of the things about me that used to be my favorite things. My creativity, my sense of humor, my excitement about life and adventure. All of those things have been dormant because I've focused this lag time in my life on paying off debt, refinancing loans, selling crap that I don't need, general life maintenance, debits and credits. I've had to take the past six months as a time for maintenance so that I can finally start living again.

The guy who preaches at my church is a really smart dude, and on Sunday he was telling us not to cut our stagnant time short, because when we learn a lesson in "the valley," it will prepare us for the mountain top experience that is to follow. I'm so ready for that mountain top I can hardly stand it. I think it's right around the corner. I don't know why, but I have this eminent sense of hope that is overwhelming right now. God probably sent it because I've been begging Him for another adventure.

The reality is that things have been pretty shitty recently as far as general life activity, but it hasn't gotten me down, really. That's a victory in and of itself. I have a really good feeling about things to come, and I'm getting as ready as I can.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good things are Coming

My dad called me this morning. He's in L.A. He told me where he was staying and what he was doing, and it made me imagine exactly in my mind what everything looked like. I got incredibly homesick, but instead of being sad about it, I started writing an entry in my memoir about my L.A. adventure, and it started with my old job.

As I was writing about my old counseling job, I started laughing about it. Maybe when you're going through a dark period in life, when you're broke and people are mistreating you and your work is so miserable that it's all-consuming, you don't see the humor in it. Well, I'm far enough removed now that I could NOT STOP LAUGHING at how bat-sheet crazy my work was. I mean really. What 24 year old recovering Baptist from Memphis winds up working in forensic counseling with 50+ year old B-listers and trans clients and sitting in on their divorce trials at the L.A. County Courthouse? Just thinking about some of the blatant insanity that I dealt with made me have full-fledged belly roll laughs.

I guess sometimes I don't realize how intensely ridiculous a situation is until I think back on it and consider the circumstances. I started thinking about some of my clients and the situations I dealt with and how, considering my sheltered and very protected upbringing, I thought about and dealt with these situations. Hilarious.

When I talked to my dad this morning and he told me he ate at In-N-Out Burger, I said, "You know, I was so destitute and fed up with L.A. when I left, I never foresaw me missing it this much, but every single day, I really, really miss it." And he said, in such a practical way, "Well, you never know. Maybe you'll move back." and for some reason, that gave a lot of relief. I don't know that I'll ever move back there, because being poor really sucks, and I don't foresee myself being able to have a decent middle class lifestyle in L.A. without being extremely rich for Southern standards. But what I recognize about myself is that I lock myself into picking choice A or B, deciding that if I choose one thing that I'll have to take everything that comes with it...But that just isn't so.

When my parents met, my mom was in Baton Rouge and my dad was in Memphis. She didn't know she'd be moving to Memphis and leaving everything that brought her down, but that's what happened. All she did was take a chance by trusting my dad, and with that leap of faith, she was able to embrace the adventure of a lifetime.

I have been doing SO MUCH BETTER than I did at first. I don't feel depressed and regretful like I did at first, but I still cling onto this desire for adventure, this hope that maybe I'll be able to pack up all of my crap once and for all and finally find somewhere in life that feels like "home," whatever that is, if it even exists. I look forward to finally doing away with all of the cardboard boxes, and being able to have all of my life in one place. I'm not sure if this sense of "home" is something that I've just made up in my head, but I think that there's something to it. I don't think it's necessarily a geographic location - I think that having that sense of home is when you feel like your little place in the world is yours- you fit there and you can make it your safe place where you can really be yourself after you've been beat up by your day. It's a place where you can proudly display what's important to you- your pictures and knick knacks from travels and degrees and paintings. It's a reflection of your heart. That's what I think it is. And I think I'm on the verge of finding my "home."

I think finding peace within myself is probably the first step, and knowing me, I'll never 100% attain that peace, because I don't think that I'm one of those zen types of people who accepts life as it comes. I always try to make it better, which is one of my best and worst traits... Anyway, despite this, I know that if I am more cognizant of having an attitude of acceptance, it'll be a heck of a lot easier for me to maintain peace than if I just let my own human nature rule my day, and I think that I'm getting there. That makes me happy.

I'm excited about things that are coming down the pike, even though I have no plan and I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going. I think that this is going to be a big year. I think that, despite the uncertainty and ups and downs and shaky ground, that good things are coming, and right now, I just have to make myself ready for them.

I'm still going to be irritated with the obnoxious yuppies with whom I constantly interact. I'm still going to want to sock people who try to cram their unrealistic and shallow cultural views down my throat. I'm still going to roll my eyes when people try to make my life as small as theirs. But I am also going to try really hard to remember peace and acceptance and to see that all of these little fractions of pictures, will, eventually, become one big mosaic of my life, and it's happening every second. Time to embrace today and look back at all of the INSANITY and belly-roll laugh at it. It feels good.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snow Blows

I've been spending a decent amount of time writing my memoir, so I haven't been blogging about day-to-day crap as much, so forgive me, faithful readers (I always feel empowered and elderly when I address you as "readers," especially if a pleasant adjective is used prior to the word. I was born way too late on the time line of humanity). Not a lot has being going on in my pseudo-personal life, so forgive me for having nothing to write about. And, as always, sorry for ending a sentence with a preposition.

This morning I drove to work in a pelting-down of snow. I imagined God up in Heaven shaking the dandruff out of his hair, onto Memphis, before reaching for his Selsun Blue. I know that's sort of ridiculous, but I really did think of that while I was driving down the doldrums of 240.

I had a good weekend. I finished Tori Spelling's first book, as trashy as it sounds, and it was sort of like watching a mindless movie. I loved it. I felt like I had a little wee vacation from my life. It brought back so many memories of my own life, oddly enough, from memories of growing up to the first boy that kissed me (ugh. haha. do I throw up or laugh?) to the places she referenced in L.A.

That's one good thing (of many) about my life right now. I have more time to read and do things I typically don't have the time to do. I also finally have a little bit of money to do things like buy new blue jeans. Score!

I attended a Superbowl gathering last night with a few of my childhood friends. I don't spend enough time with them. It was nice to be with people who have always known me. It made me feel safe. My guard was down because it didn't need to be up. I don't feel that freedom as much as I should. Maybe i should try to think about that safe feeling more so that I can experience it more. Maybe I think too much.

What else, what else.

During the Superbowl, I kept thinking about how A-Rod's brothers played Rockband with me and my friends at my apt. one night in L.A. when another party that we were at was crapped on by the po-lice. They seemed like nice boys. I know. I'm so cool with my third-party connection to the MVP via online brag blog. Anyway, that's what I thought about.

I think I've been under an immense amount of stress recently (I know, I know. I'm always stressed). What sucks is that I don't always realize it when I'm stressed. I just recognize the symptoms of it.


I got into a little tiff with someone the other day, and I subsequently had to pick up some garments from my alterations lady, and when she asked how I was doing, I started bawling. Not just some ladylike crying. Some all-out, full blown sobbing at her counter.
She said (in thick Chilean accent),

"Life is too beautiful to cry."

It was nice. Until she started talking about a bunch of crazy crap that didn't make any sense.

My alterations lady, the one who said I'd have "problems in life" because my boobs were too small, and that my pants always fit weird because my calves are too big, and the one who constantly makes me feel like crap about myself, was the exact person I happened to have a meltdown in front of on Saturday, and she even gave me a hug. Life is ironic.

I also started crying in the tanning bed, and at first I was trying to choke back the tears because I was scared of electrocuting myself in that cancer box, but then I figured if I sweat my ah-ss off in there anyway, what's a few gallons of tears? So I had a nice long cry in the tanning bed until I decided to suck it up and go run. So I got over my little crying spell and ran my butt off, until I hit the steam room. Then I cried again for another 15 minutes or so. Then I started to feel like I was going to faint, so I bailed out.

So. Crying for me is often a symptom of stress. It doesn't always mean that I'm "sad" or "distraught." Sometimes crying is just a way for my body to let stress evaporate.

I just noticed that I use an unnecessary amount of quotation marks.


I hate not feeling like myself. To me, crying in a tanning bed = NOT FEELING LIKE MYSELF! I pretty much don't have any clue about what "myself" is supposed to feel like, because I've been undergoing so many transitional life issues for so long, but I do remember a time where I was kind of fun and spry and excited and adventurous.

The thing is, right now, I don't necessarily feel like I'm NOT all of those things anymore (double negative! Shame on me!). I just kind of feel like they are all dormant.

As I was driving to work in God's dandruff this morning (to borrow an enlightening sentence from a friend, "snow hasn't been cool since I was 10."), I wasn't feeling depressed or upset or worked up. I was just sort of going through the motions. And that's OKAY, it's not the worst thing in the world, but I think I need to embark on an adventure soon so I can reconnect with myself.

Church was awesome yesterday. They did away with the skinned-cat singers and had a big, voluptuous black lady singing about Jesus, and she was waving her hands around and jumping up and down and doing some preaching in between singing, saying things like (while singing, too), "If you lose your job on Friday, and you wake up on Monday, Jesus is still the boss," kinds of things. It made me get excited for the first time in a while during the music part of church. This is what Memphis means to me, when I set aside the B.S. of this town---the blatant hypocrisy, the cliquiness, the private school/pleated pants/fraternity thing, the "everyone goes to church" fake crap-----what Memphis is, aside from the crap, is a town rich with soul and spirit and wisdom, but you have to look to find it. That lady singing at church yesterday reminded of the things that I miss when I don't live here. Then, of course, some white guy gets up there with his guitar and sings some "I want to kill myself" "worship" song, but he wasn't depressing enough to kill the mood that the black lady had just ignited in everyone.

I'm really looking forward to Mardi Gras. Some of the best memories I have in my whole life are from Mardi Gras. There's this family-oriented partying that takes place that makes you feel warm and content, and you forget about all of the run of the mill B.S. that can be overwhelming, like paying off loans or living with your parents or gas prices getting higher. You just enjoy your family and your friends and come home with a trunk load of beads and stuffed crap, and you remember who you are.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Heart My Paw Paw

I may or may not be turning into an old maid/school marm. Today I put on compression hose to wear to work. Let it be known that I vehemently hate pantyhose, and have refused to wear them for many years because of the way that they drag across my prickly legs and run and bunch up around my crotch, but last night during Zumba class, I noticed a vein throbbing in my leg, which sort of made me recognize that I’m getting old and that I need to start taking preventative measures to remedy this lumpy leg issue. I hope that my legs don't turn into a map in a few years. I hope they aren't covered with Mississippi River sized veins. Recently, though, I've been kind of been accepting my fate, whatever that means. I don't think about feeling overwhelming regret EVERY DAY anymore. I just sort of wake up and go to work and go to the gym and tan and that's about it, and it hasn't been so bad. I've been more accepting of my bland circumstances/existence.

So, today, under my blue jeans, I am wearing pantyhose that are squeezing the HELL out of my legs and make me look like Oksana Baiul. Triple axle, here I come.

I got a facial the other day that may or may not have given me third degree burns all over my mug. My friend and I took our other friend out for a spa day because she just got married. As a result, my face has been flaking off. I look like a leper.

I also got a massage that day by a big beefy girl named "Tabby." Tabby could have played Linebacker for the Packers. She was a bruit. I might be paralyzed from the neck down now. I'm not sure I'm that cut out for all of the girly/high maintenance things in life, like pedicures. Man, I HATE pedis. I also hate sitting in a chair for four hours while my hair color processes. I like to get my tan on, because that takes less than 15 minutes. I also like to work out. All of the other stuff is a little too much, I think. Well, I used to get massages from this ex-baseball player guy who was sort of a sleeze, but he had a good grip on him and could crunch all of the knots out of my back like a champ, so I'll probably get a massage again, but I have decided that facials are OUT.

I've been looking rough this week. Burn face, varicose veins. I'm only 26 and I'm totally falling apart. And yes, it is because I live in Memphis again.

Last night in my Zumba class, we did the Tina Turner dance to “Proud Mary,” where we did, indeed, do the “pony” from the 60’s, and I just imagined myself skipping around with a big teased hairdo and thick black eyeliner and white fringe go-go boots. It was the most fun I’ve had this week. Zumba is awesome. All of my friends in there are baby boomers.

I went to a wedding on Saturday night that cost the daddy of the bride $400 grand. I don’t even know how many zeros that is. And guess who was there. Pollyanna. I’d get into it, but I can’t. Eventually I'll tell you, dear readers, all about Pollyanna, and we will have a Blog roast about how obnoxious she is, but not today.

The wedding was well done, but really over the top. They spent a ton of cheese on it, so it SHOULD have been well done. I kept thinking, though, if hell were to ever freeze over, and I were to ever get married, I wouldn’t want to invite 600 people and feed them all fillet mignon just so I could have a big beauty pageant wedding. It just isn’t me. I don’t like enough people to invite the whole world to my (hypothetical) wedding. Maybe by the time I get married, if I do, I’ll recruit more people that I like, but even by then, if "then" occurs, I won’t want a big huge shin-dig. Not like that. Not with 13 bridesmaids and a tiara and an after party where everyone has to wear a wristband to get "in." Nah. I’m more of a $75 drive-through chapel in Vegas type of gal. I guess this makes sense, though, considering that I'm wearing compression hose and have a burn victim face.

I called my Paw Paw on the way to work this morning. My parents and sister are going to the Philippines to see where he was captured during WW2. I wish that I could go SO BADLY, but I can't take off that much time from work, since I'm already taking off work for some other important dates. I was supposed to go to the Philippines last October, but the trip was canceled. Makes me sad to think about it, but everything happens for a reason.

I was so happy to talk to my PawPaw. He always encourages me about going back to school and what I'm doing in life. He's always supportive. He never makes me feel bad about not being married or living at home or working through all of this crap in my life. He's awesome. People like that are so few and far between in life.

I made a CD w/ my best friend when I was living in L.A., and we recorded a bunch of old country music (Hank Williams, Ray Price, Tammy Wynette), so I mailed him a copy of it because he really likes that sort of thing, and he couldn't ever load the songs on his computer when I tried to email him the files. This is what he said about the emails:

“Well, I couldn’t load your music on the computer when you sent it to me. A box popped up that said something was holding me up.”

Hahaha! Something was holding him up. Nobody's funnier than PawPaw Haley.

He asked if I was working, and I told him that I was doing bookkeeping work now. This is what he said about that:

“You having so many different kinds of jobs is really going to give you an advantage when you have your doctor’s degree. You’re like your Uncle Randy. He worked at a service station and as a guard and at the store. That makes him a better doctor. And your cousin... Well, all your cousin ever did was just go to school. But you and Randy? Y’all have had lots of jobs. So one day, when you are a doctor of psychology with your doctor's degree, and you have a patient come in who says, ‘This bookkeeping makes me nuts!’ You’ll be able to say, ‘I know EXACTLY how you feel.’”

And you know what? Hearing that today was exactly what I needed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cocktail Parties are for Douches

Wanna hear some total crap?

I called U.Ga a few weeks ago to make sure that they had all of my information on file, and they said that they did. I checked the website today, and my file was listed as incomplete. I called the advisor, who said The Graduate School never sent my LSU transcript to her, so she couldn't process my file. So I asked when interviews are going to be held.


So basically, because people are idiots, I didn't get into Georgia. I would feel better knowing that I didn't get in because I couldn't get in, because I don't have enough clinical experience or because my GRE scores were too low.

What a pain in the ahhhh-ss.

You know what, though? This is how life is, and if life wasn't like this, maybe I'd wind up living in Georgia and getting murdered by some Ted Bundy, college-hopping serial killer or something. You just never really know why something happens. I'm not mad, which is good, but I'm annoyed, because I know what it takes to be responsible and NOT be a slack ass, and really, it only takes some basic common integrity and a little tiny hint of sense. It doesn't take that much effort.

What else.

Oh yes, a lady got mugged across the street from where I work, so cop cars and ambulances have been parading around my perimeter all day.

I was pretty upset about not having a job for 4 1/2 months when I first moved back, but that too, happened for a reason. At that point, I was far too emotionally fragile to be able to handle working in the ghetto with swarming cop cars. Now, I just think when I wake up every day, "Another day, another dolla." and I keep moving forward, and my whole L.A. experience is nothing but a hazy mist in my mind, even though it sure was one hell of a ride, and probably the best part of my whole life.

I've been feeling significantly better since I started working, working out, and getting enough vitamin D, and the change in my mood and life perspective has been so encouraging to me.

Stuff that would normally drive me bat shit is not quite as obnoxious.

For instance, at work, I have to do a LOT of stuff with sororities, and I read this article where this girl said, "I have been working digilently." About 3 months ago, I would have left that word unedited, and thought to myself, "You stupid hoe, you deserve to be published as a blatant idiot," but the new me fixed her stupidity and wrote "DILIGENTLY" out of the kindness of my heart.

I do still get annoyed at the overwhelming influx of "sisterhood," the word "special," and "nail panting parties," but, whatev. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal.

I'm almost finished with my Johnny Cash book, and today, I read this:

"Then we were called upon to attend an affair which I detest- a cocktail party. And I haven't only recently started hating cocktail parties. I have always hated them with a passion. I have never consumed a cocktail, but that isn't the reason.

Everyone seems to feel they're obligated to act as if they're enjoying themselves, standing around with that weird-looking dainty drink in their hand with that little finger sticking out.

I can never remember anything significant ever being said at a cocktail party. Nobody really listens to anything anyone else tells them. You open a conversation with somebody, and they're looking around you to the left or right while you're talking to be sure they're not missing another celebrity."

This goes back to my constant soap box about detesting meaningless chit chat, but I feel like I'm presenting myself in a less hostile manner now when I am dragged to an event or gathering full of stupid, fake people. It took me a few months to deal with it since I moved back here, because I forgot about that saccharin obnoxiousness, but now I'm getting used to it again. I'm always bombarded with fake, airy hugs and meaningless chit chat and dumb questions and empty conversation, but I'm realizing that it's just how it is here, and if I am here indefinitely, I can't let it eat me up so badly. I just have to start saying things like,

"So nice to see you, I just crapped my pants." because they (the infamous panel of they) aren't really listening anyway.

She says she talks to Angels

Well, I have started a journal regarding work occurrences, but because I still work at my work, I can't post anything. So, for now, I will talk about other things. I went to Birmingham over the weekend to visit one of my girl friends. I talk a lot about how I miss having girl friends. I had a lot of girl friends in L.A., but I don't have many in Memphis who are in a similar stage of life as me because most of my girl friends got married when they were 20. Which is to say that they have husbands and families so when I talk about singleness and $1,000 insurance deductibles and all of that crap, they can usually offer some kind words of advice, but they don't relate.. So, I have this girl friend who lives in Birmingham, and she's HILARIOUS, and I decided to drive down and visit her on Friday.

We didn't engage in any craziness all weekend, and I loved every second of it. I was relaxed and happy and calm. I laughed so hard I just about cried.

And then we went to church.

I've gone to church almost every Sunday of my whole life with the exceptions of near-death illness and being out of town. I just pretty much always go. And even when I don't physically go, I watch it on TV. I miss it when I don't go. I don't go because I've been pressured into it or it's cultural or whatever, I just enjoy it, so I go.

So, my best girl friend is an Episcopalian, and I never knew very much the Episcopalians, other than they are sort of like Catholics and they are usually very academic and "junior league" and rich and polished and classy. Pretty much out of all of the Christian denominations, the Episcopalians seem to me like they'd win the awards for writing a thank you note in black ink within two weeks of the deserving circumstance and they definitely would NOT wear white shoes after Labor Day. Other than that, I don't know much about them, because I am not one, and I do not know very many.

I go to this very counter-cultural Christian church in Memphis that used to be really, really cool, because we had a staff of musicians who came straight off of Beale Street and there was a heavy blues influence on the music, and we had a large number of black people who attended the church. I liked that. I liked it because I grew up in a "you have to wear your three piece suit" type of church that was very vanilla. There was no ethnic, racial, cultural, or very much socioeconomic diversity, and so I always felt sort of bored and stiff at the church where I grew up. I moved away for a few years and my current church has really been influenced by the white Bible belt, private Christian school, khaki pants culture. My preacher is a rock star, and I love him, and he's really smart. The demographic of our congregation has changed substantially, though. I'm pretty much back at an all white church. Also, the music is totally different. I guess Beale Street when back to Beale, because now we have all of these white girl star-warbling divas who do that Christina Aguillera thing with their hand that sort of looks like the Mr. Miyagi "Paint the Fence" move, and they sound like a bunch of cats being skinned, warbling and screaming, trying to sound like Lauryn Hill. I guess.


So, the all-white people churches usually make me feel sort of nervous, even though I'm a white person. I may have some sort of cultural identity issues. I think it's good to be around different people. That's one thing that I'm really grateful for regarding part of my upbringing.. My parents made sure we traveled and met all kinds of different people. I remember this lady named Alyce made my family some chai tea in Africa and she stirred it around in a metal pot with a goat femur. We were all sitting in her dung hut in Africa. We were totally grossed out because we were little kids and we had to drink chai that had a goat bone in it. But thinking back on that, I can appreciate how cool it was for my parents to let us experience cultural difference and what it meant to be uncomfortable and all of that.


One more thought.

I had another encounter with the Episcopalians. I was invited by a girl friend of mine in L.A. who was from South Carolina to go to her Episcopal Christmas dinner thing with her church because her husband was working on his Ph.D. in Mexico or something. I am anticipating some sort of churchy potluck function where everyone wears a Christmas sweater with little pom poms all over it and some big fat lady in a floral print dress and Mary Kay make up plunking out carols on the piano. Oh, quite contraire. We go to this amazing house in Beverly Hills, and her pastor is a woman who lives in this unbelievable house, and apparently the Episcopalians own the parish or whatever for the lady pastor to live in. Now, please be mindful that I grew up in an ultra conservative Southern Baptist church and had never really met a lady priest/pastor. When we got inside the party, I met a few different gay couples. Keep in mind that I'd never seen openly gay men at a church function, because that isn't exactly Southern Baptist kosher. That was my other Episcopalian experience.

Ok, so I went to the Episcopal church with my girl friend, and it was so gorgeous inside. It made me think about a few times when I was just trying to figure my life out at Loyola, and I'd go up to the Catholic chapel and sit on one of those hard wooden pews and just be quiet and stare at the stained glass windows and massive crucifix at the front and I could physically feel the quiet.

Here's the part I really want to talk about, though. Communion sometimes makes me nervous. I leave during communion at my church a lot because we do it every week and it takes a good solid half hour, and my AD/HD can only take about an hour and a half of church and cat-skinned-screaming divas before I lose it. So, communion makes me nervous when they pass it around because I'm always nervous that I'm going to spill grape juice all over someone's white pants, and I HATE it when everyone drinks out of the same cup. I hate foreign germs so much that I always Purell my hands right after we do that meet and greet hand shaking thing. I always hope to come in late enough that I miss the screaming cat "worship" team and the hand shaking, but I never actually reach that goal.

So, we all get summoned for communion, and we have to walk in a single file line all the way up the aisle, onto the platform, through the choir members, to the kneeling bench thing. And here's what I want to talk about:


All of the choir members were wearing these white robes and they were signing so angelically, that I seriously looked from side to side and thought, "Man, this must be what Heaven is like." and it was absolutely beautiful.

Then all of the stuff about only white people at church and Beale Street blues worship and stuff sort of left my mind, because I felt so peaceful and angelic and nice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rent Free Ain't Enough

All of a sudden, over the weekend, I decided that I'm "over" going to bars. At least Memphis bars. I stopped going to clubs early in the game. I used to like to go to clubs to dance. Then after experiencing the whole Hollywood club scene, and I recognized it for the meat market/coke playground that it was, I just didn't go anymore. At least not the ones with the pulsating music and sweating people who are barely wearing any clothes grinding all over each other. I haven't even been to Vegas in a year, which is sort of a world record for me, because I used to go a lot.

Over the weekend, I went to some "cool" bars with a group of my friends, and both times, I looked around at everyone and felt grossed out and bored. Seeing these dumb girls who are all giggly with their cleavage hanging out and flipping their hair around for free drinks and these fratty boys smoking cigarettes and staring at the cleavage and everyone blowing jager and smoke into each other's faces grosses me out so much that it takes all of the fun out of it. It's all so phony. It's all so blatantly phony.

I used to be really naive and I could go to a bar or a club and have a great time and never notice all of the depressing stuff around me because I was oblivious while I was dancing and having fun. But all of a sudden, I've turned into this old, wise, fat cat, and I don't even know what it's like to enjoy myself at these places because I look around at everyone else and am so overwhelmed by the atmosphere that I get bored and kind of would rather be at home reading an autobiography or swimming laps or caulking my bathroom.

In L.A., you could go to a bar, and something fun would be going on. There would be turtle races or a cool 80's band or trivia night or some kind of interactive fundraiser. I used to go to these fun red carpet events with my ex (who is the worst human on the face of the earth, so let's remember that no event would justify me ever interacting with him again as long as I live) where there'd be all these really fun, interactive things to do. Like a huge Rockband party or video gaming event or something. Going to bars or clubs was interactive; it wasn't just a bunch of people sitting around getting hammered and preying on who they were going home with. Well, it probably was, but it was masked by fun activities. The man-predators and women looking to be eaten weren't near as obvious when everyone was caught up drumming on Rockband. In this dive, the only thing offered at bars is football or basketball on a big screen TV, and all of a sudden, I am just plain old "done."

When I was so emotionally exhausted and spent during my last 6 months or so in L.A., all I could think about was resting and coming back to remember myself for a little while. I was desperate. But guess what. I forgot about how it is here. I forgot about the overwhelming boredom and lack of things to do.

When I was in high school, my on-and-off-for-100-years bf's family owned this lake house, so we'd all go to the lake in the summer. Well, he had a brother and a sister, and I was friends with the sister, and we always wanted to do fun stuff at the lake, but he and his brother and dad always wanted to watch sports, so that's what the family had to do. Male dominance is so alive in this part of the country, it's absolutely disgusting. I swore back then I'd never be a part of that crap, with my mind rotting away watching a bunch of barbarians running around and smacking each others' asses on TV for a hundred hours. His sister would have cowardly been a part of the whole sports cult, because she was a woman and was out voted by those man-pigs who "ran the house," but I conned her into doing stuff with me like assembling a front porch swing or riding around on 4-wheelers in the mud, which was really fun. I love being an active person, but in this town, availability of activities is few and far between, which fires my frustration. I need a vacation.

I struggle a lot with being content, because right now, being content might bleed into complacency, and I abhor complacency. I just keep thinking about starting my life over and having a clean slate. People get so caught up in where they are and what they're doing that they forget that they have options. I am obsessed with thinking about my options. I'm so ready to know if I get into school, and if I get in, where I will get in, and if I am moving or staying or what have you. I'm ready to have my own place again and my own life and my own routine. I'm ready to feel like a real person again.

It's important to me for me to be able to establish my own life. I don't have that quite yet at this point in time, but every day it's a little bit closer, and I hang onto that.

I've been trying really hard to accept this point in my life and ask myself very difficult, guilt-ridden questions related to where I am in life and where I'm going, and as a result, I have revealing and sometimes upsetting thoughts. I've asked myself hard questions and sometimes I'm really sad when I hear myself answer them because they aren't what I want to hear myself say.

Back to what I started with: if I wind up staying here for a while, if I get into school here for a while, I can't do the bar scene anymore and watch all of those disgusting pheromones flying around while people breathe smoke into each other's faces and scratch their nether-regions while watching football games. Ugggggh. I always think about Jack Nicholson leaving his shrink's office and asking the people in the lobby, "What if this is as good as it gets?" And I answer myself with a resounding, "No." "No, no, no." It just isn't. And that's all there is to it.

I joined a gym a few days ago. I'm going to try to focus more on getting myself balanced and living a holistic life. I'm reading more now than I have in a long time. I think I need to just spend some time taking care of myself, and staying out of places and away from people that bring me down or make me feel like crap.

I ordered "Man in Black," Johnny Cash's autobiography, for a dollar online. "Man in White," his book about the conversion of the Apostle Paul, was something I wasn't ready for yet. I felt like I was sitting in a seminary class. I mean, I was learning a lot of historical stuff, but let's face it, I'm not exactly seminary material. Anyway, I can't put "Man in Black" down. It's a ripped up old library copy with brown pages and a worn-out jacket. I buy most of my books for a dollar. Over and over again, I'm reading about Cash's life, and even though he's one of the most amazing people who has ever lived and I'm not exactly on the same playing field, he makes me relate. Having this crazy drive to do something special with my life, and always striving toward making it happen. Reading about him selling appliances and then making phone calls to Sam Phillips every week to keep his head above water makes me think about me bookkeeping but calling U.GA and U.FL and U.Memphis all the time, pushing hard and hoping that I'll bug them enough to get me an interview.

It's also sort of cool reading about his start in Memphis. I drive past the Overton Park Shell (it is now called Levit Shell) when I am in midtown, and knowing that Johnny Cash opened for Elvis there sort of makes me feel connected and makes me feel like it's holy ground or something. It'd be easy to drive around this city and diagnose it as the set of "8 Mile," because it's poor and run down and torn up and full of a bunch of people who are in denial about it and are hanging onto an idea of Memphis that got shot and killed in the 1970's, but there are some incredible historical milestones here that I take for granted.

On Monday night, I went to a concert, and had more fun than I've had in months. I danced for hours. I'd never been to one of those DJ concerts before like you see on TV, but I showed up adorned in glow jewelry and glitter, like the gay district on Bourbon, and had the time of my life. Confetti rained down on the crowd and huge balloons filled with confetti were bounced from section to section. It made me kind of feel like I was a kid again. I needed it. The last time I had comparable fun like that at a show was right before I moved back to Memphis and my bff and I went to see the Spazmatics at the Key Club in Hollywood.

I think I need to listen to more music, and dance around my room more, and do things that I enjoy, because this weather is KILLING me.

I keep wondering how many more Memphis winters I can take, with the boredom and rain and freezing temperatures. I wonder where this leaves me. What happens when you are living somewhere or your life is some place, but you aren't really there, because you're somewhere else in your mind? Does that make you insane, or really smart? Cash wasn't selling appliances or living in a shit town in Arkansas or driving a car with cardboard windows, because in his mind, he was somewhere else. I just hope it pans out for me. Not all of us can be a Johnny Cash, but we can always strive for something, and we can find ways to keep us busy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No Regrets Friday

Typically, I'm careful about the content of my blog regarding things that could get me in big trouble. I don't blog that much about work unless I'm not working at a place anymore or unless I have something positive to say about it, I don't blog about my love life if I'm currently in a relationship, and I don't really blog about my family. I count this as "too bad," because I've got some fantastic stories in all three genres, but when I think about how writing about any of those could be misinterpreted and hurt people, I figure it isn't worth it. Most of my blogs are about internal conflict, every day observations, and human interactions. They get personal because of the internal conflict part, but not because of the things that I hold in high regard, like interpersonal relationships or my job. So, let me generalize when I write today, and try to track with me.

In my old job, we used to talk a lot about different careers and jobs because we were helping people figure out how they were going to survive after they went through a horribly gruesome and humiliating divorce. So, in that process, I gained a lot of knowledge about a lot of different jobs. One thing that I learned is that PR/advertising is always a field for young people. Well, that came back to me today while I was in an employee-wide office meeting and I noticed that everyone at my office is really young. Ok. That's the first thought. Try to track with me as I jump to the next thought.

Second thought: I beat myself up for a while, and still do from time to time, for pursuing an advanced degree in the helping professions, because, let's face it: grad school is really effing hard. I mean, REALLY hard. It's like being married, or at least what I imagine what it's like to be married. It's being committed and focused and making a crap ton of sacrifices. Getting my M.A. is one of the hardest things I have ever done because it took so much sacrifice, and it was worth every second of it: the money, the discipline, the sacrifice, the time, the willingness to run from potentially serious relationships. I loved it. The reason I beat myself up, though, was because I usually think that I should've gotten a degree in something more lucrative, because, let's face it (again): there ain't no money in the helping professions, and a girl gotta pay her bills, and sometimes I felt a little bit like working that hard for a degree that wouldn't really pay me monetarily made me feel kind of dumb. I ran around with a bunch of UCLA MBA boys for a while, and they were incredibly smart and talented and entrepreneurial, and they'd tell me about their projects and marketing strategies and start-ups, and I'd sometimes feel this little twinge of regret, because I thought to myself, "Heck, I'm creative- and I'm inventive, and I'm tough. I could do this MBA stuff.... But I'm becoming a counselor." I knew how much money they would be offered once they got that MBA behind their name, and I couldn't help but think to myself that maybe I chose the wrong path, and maybe I should've gone to business school so I could be making six figures straight out of school, too.

So. This is where I am going with these thoughts: during my meeting today, I looked around at all of the wrinkle-free faces, and heard the word "vibrant" used about 3098 times, and also heard the word "pretty" used a lot, and heard a lot about pushing Facebook and Twitter and "checking into" places with our iPhones to live VERY public, social media oriented lives.

And this is what I thought about: I am really glad that I don't check into places with my iPhone so that people can know exactly where I am, who I'm with, and what I'm doing. I'm really glad that I don't talk about my family or love life online. And you know what else? I'm really glad that I didn't go to business school.

You know what I thought about when I was hearing a bunch of very young people talk about living "publicly" and "vibrantly"???? I thought about two of my elderly professors at Loyola. One of them was a real old catholic priest. I loved him so much. One of them was a grouchy old man. I loved him even more. I thought about one of my professors/advisers at U of M, and what a beautiful heart and an incredible mind he had under that gray head of hair. I thought about old people, and old people who are professional helpers, and how blessed I've been to learn from them, be mentored by them, and appreciate their "oldness" and "privateness." (I know that privateness is not a word. Don't worry about it. Stay with me.)

I started thinking about what it means to be private, and what a sacred thing it can be to be private, when there's something special between you and another person that isn't all broadcasted all over the internet. I thought about this safe place that's created in a counseling environment, and how sacred it is to be able to know that you're bound by confidentiality and HIPPA and all kinds of crap to keep quiet and open up and help and be helped.

And then I was really, really happy that God put in my heart to help people. I know that right now, I'm not practicing as a counselor, and that I'm working amongst a lot of visionary idealists who lack life experience because of their youth, but there's an excitement and "vibrance" about my current situation that makes me see the value in being excited. I can learn a lot from these young, energetic, idealistic people. Even though right now, I'm doing math all day, and I'm bad at it, and I screw up a lot, I work with a supportive staff. The most important thing that I know, though, is that deep in my heart, I have this soul craving to help people, and to help reduce the stigma of mental health in the south, and a desire to learn from old people in academia, and I am so happy to know that it has never gone away, even though there's no money, and I'm poor, and I've worked really hard to not be moving forward in this direction at this second in time. Today, for some reason, I felt no regret, and that felt really, really good.