You Do It Because You Have To

I haven’t posted anything in a few days because everything I write, I edit, and I’m not sure how I feel about what’s going on in my life right now. Mainly, I met a man. And Man = Distraction. More later, possibly.

One thing I am sure of is that applying to jobs is a nerve-wracking process and I want to give up and live on a remote island sometimes. At these times working in a grocery store isn’t a bad idea, and living in a treehouse in Oregon is appealing. These daydreams always involve moving to some remote location, when the reality is I work in a grocery store now, in the bedroom of my friend’s house. It’s the kind of lifestyle I could’ve romanticized about when I was married. Seriously.

Yesterday I talked with a friend who’s changed careers twice already, and she said that trying to get into the academic field is still one of the toughest fields to get into, you have to work your way up, etc., and she suggested that I try teaching professional writing to business people, or substitute teaching high school students. My translation: “You’ll never make it as a college professor, so you should do something you hate because that’s all you’ll ever get.” And I agreed with her suggestion, as if I might be interested in teaching high school, which is the second worst time in a person’s life next to middle school, and as if I’d consider teaching professional writing, a type of writing that makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pencil.

I didn’t tell her any of this, because she was just trying to be helpful. Instead, I said that I would think about it, and I went home and panicked. My entire day should have been spent in front of the computer applying to jobs, writing or revising publishable works of nonfiction, and then submitting these works for publication. My solution to this panic was to get an expensive manicure, pedicure, and brow wax first, because I’ll probably be seeing my new Man soon, and obviously I have my priorities.

Someone somewhere has to hire me. They’ve hired me before, so why not now? Adjunct faculty at a community college is fine. After my mani pedi I submitted my resume to a local community college, just in case staying in this area becomes more important later, what with the new Man and all. Other people get hired so why not me? These are my new mantras. They have to be.

It’s hard starting over. My friend, the aforementioned career-changer, told me that as long as I’m okay starting over with nothing, I can change careers, and that she just tries not to dwell on the fact that she could be living in a nicer house or closer to retirement now, because she knows she’d have committed suicide had she not changed careers.

And I know that I too have no other choice.

I Wasn’t Born Yesterday

As I’ve mentioned, I work in a grocery store. It’s a locally-owned, organic grocery store, which somehow makes it seem respectable, but it’s a grocery store nonetheless. So I judge myself for working there, being overqualified and overeducated for the job, and far too ego-driven to be at such a piss-ant job. It’s okay for other people to work there—they’re artists, musicians, single mothers, immigrants, or something else respectable or interesting, in addition to working at the grocery store; the grocery store is not their primary focus in life, and I don’t judge them for working there (until they piss me off—more on that later). And at first it was a romantic idea for me to work this job. I pictured myself like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat, which is a movie I don’t remember that well except that a woman moves to a small town in France and opens her own chocolate shop, and at first people don’t like her, but she’s her own person, a badass in her own right, and everyone ends up loving her. She just does her own thing.

I suppose that could sort of describe me, I hope—the badass part, I mean. Take yesterday for example. Most of my co-workers are in their 20s, and our cooler sure smelled exactly like marijuana smoke. My mom used to tell me that as she got older she cared less and less what others thought of her, and I often hoped that I’d have the same experience. And voila! It’s happening now. These 20somethings needed to know that, in the words of my mom, I wasn’t born yesterday, and I’m onto them and their pot-smoking ways.

“Wow, it smells exactly like marijuana in here,” I exclaimed with a stern, squinty eye, making deliberate eye contact with each of them, partly for intimidation purposes, partly for investigation purposes.

Eyebrows raised from all around. “I can’t smell anything,” they exclaimed. No weed in here! Because I sure don’t know how it could possibly smell like marijuana in a grocery store.

Nonchalantly I let them know that when I worked in a restaurant that we used to get high in the cooler (we thought no one could smell it because somehow cold air diffuses the scent of marijuana smoke), and that I sure would not want anyone to go to jail.

“For what? Getting high at work?” Tony asked.

He had a point.

So I mumbled something about having a bag of weed at work and decided to let it go. That bled into a discussion of the legality of marijuana in the DC area, and one of the girls wanted to know if I still got high, and I told her no. The other two had already walked away by then. But she wanted to know if that meant quit for good or did I smoke every now and then? So I told her I’m a recovered alcoholic so I don’t do anything at all anymore. Her mom had dated a recovered alcoholic so she understood that it meant one drink is too many and a thousand is never enough.

But it got me to thinking. Up to this point I haven’t really cared who knows I’m a recovered alcoholic. I don’t think of it as a big deal. I don’t have the image of the homeless man in a trench coat who drinks from a paper bag. Most people I’ve known have been functional alcoholics, and for me it just means that I can’t drink without getting trashed and I no longer want to do that anymore. It means I cannot drink safely, without getting blackout and pass-out wasted, waking up the next day wondering what I said or did to embarrass myself or hurt someone else. It means I can’t drink without getting a nasty hangover that in the end got so bad I wanted to go to the hospital.

I’m pretty sure that my being a recovered alcoholic who’s aware that my co-workers may be getting high doesn’t really make me a badass, or any wiser or smarter than anyone else. It’s possible that no one was getting high and who knows? Maybe a skunk had sprayed the parking lot. (For the longest time I thought the smell of skunk was marijuana. True story.) In the end none of it really matters. Really I was just pissed off at the smell of marijuana smoke in the same way that I get pissed off when I smell alcohol. It’s not because I want to smoke or drink, and it’s not because I’m resentful that others can, but it’s because my life does not revolve around drinking anymore, and I don’t want any reminders of what my life used to be like.

When I think about it, I do want these reminders because they remind me why I don’t want to live that way anymore. If you’d told me my life would be better without it, I’d have never believed you. But it’s true. So it pisses me off when non-alcoholics glamorize it or laugh at it because it’s actually not funny. It’s pathetic, tragic, and disturbing. (On the other hand, when sober alcoholics make fun of it, different story. Then it’s hilarious.)

It’s possible no one was getting high, and they all think I’m crazy. But I really don’t care. One thing I’m learning in my new old age is that trying to explain to a sophomoric, often younger person (who doesn’t want your advice) that you’ve been there before falls on deaf ears. We all have to have our own experiences.

So I won’t be calling the cops to let them know that hey, we got some kids getting high at work over here. Because the truth is I really don’t care. If they’re destined to go to jail for whatever stupid decisions they make in the future, it has nothing to do with me. But if and when someone wants my help, I hope they will come to me.

Pink Houses

Now that I know what I want to be when I grow up, I think this blog will be about that process. I thought this blog was going to be full of posts about how I still haven’t figured out what I want to do yet, day in and day out, same old tired story, and maybe I’d throw in some motivational YouTube videos that I’d searched in hopes of figuring it out, maybe some links to the Purpose Fairy website, maybe I’d write some posts about how I’d decided to get a master of science degree to become a nutritionist, but then a month later I’d decide to go to nursing school–so that I could become a traveling nurse, because there is such a thing, and that way I could travel around the world as a nurse—but then a month after that, after I’d invested hundreds of dollars in taking nursing classes, I’d realize I actually wanted to become an addiction counselor, because I have real-world experience in that area—and my blog would be all about this discovery process. This would go on for a year or until my blog fizzled out, whichever came first, and my blog and I would fade into oblivion. I’d continue working at the grocery store, and eventually decide to move into a trailer park in Florida where it’s warmer and more affordable.

Living in a trailer in Florida wouldn’t be so bad. I’d have everything I needed, a roof over my head, a simple job providing necessary goods, food and shelter. Maybe I’d find a blue collar man, like an electrician, who also provides necessary services to the community (not sex, but electrician… stuff), and in his free time he plays music. At night we don’t waste our lives in front of the mind-numbing, soul-sucking television—instead, I water our potted herb garden (it has to be potted because you don’t really get a lot of land when you live in a trailer park), while he serenades me with songs he writes about the human condition, One Hundred Years of Solitude style, but in song form. Together we cook dinner, of organic groceries I got on discount from my grocery store job, and afterwards we make passionate love. Then after that we cuddle with our dog who we’d taken for a walk before all of the herb-watering, organic dinner-making, song-serenading festivities began. We’d save our money so that by the time we retired we’d have a little plot of land, an acre or so, where we’d build our own little pink house, except it wouldn’t be pink, it would be turquoise. And eventually I’d write a book, and maybe I’d even get it published, and it would be about daily blue collar life, your everyday average Joe, an insider peek into the lives of my co-worker friends, who each made it in her own way, this American dream.

But it turns out this blog won’t be about that. Unless no one hires me. In which case, back to the blue collar idea. But let’s suppose someone does hire me. Maybe it will be Lone Star College in Houston, Texas. There I will inspire young minds to pursue their dreams through plays like Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and poems like “The Tyger” by William Blake. But also more modern, pop culture, hipster-esque books, like those of Chuck Klosterman, who I haven’t read but by then I will have, because when you have a book entitled Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, how can you not appeal to an 18-year-old male audience in search of that same thing we’re all in search of (perhaps some of us more than others): love, peace, and making sense of this world we live in.

And I’ll live in Houston, inspiring impressionable minds, Dead Poets Society style, except no one commits suicide, and my students will love literature, and those who don’t will grow to love it, and they’ll feel so moved by my powerful, heartfelt teaching style that those who are struggling will come to me to guide them on their journey. In Houston I’ll live in a cozy little houseboat on the bayou and I’ll spend my nights listening to CCR songs while cranking out personal essays about life on the bayou inspiring young minds, and there I’ll meet a fisherman/artist who recycles junk into beautiful yard art of the functional variety. He even lives in a treehouse that he built himself—not just any treehouse, but one featured in Better Homes and Gardens. We’ll split our time between his treehouse and my houseboat, and in the summertime we’ll go wherever the mood takes us, like Greece, Thailand, or South Africa, and eventually we’ll get our own little plot of land so that we can grow a vegetable garden and get a dog, and some goats and chickens.

So yeah, my life could go in one of those two ways.

The cynic in me says this will never happen. I’ll find that dream job and the man, but then I’ll get fired or the man will die, or worse: neither will be what I’d anticipated. The students will hate me, I’ll be terrified of getting up in front of the room, they’ll be more interested in pursuing sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs than actual love and dreams. Meanwhile this so-called man of my dreams will be all those things I want him to be in the beginning of our relationship before it’s too late and I’ve married husband #8, thinking this time will be different, because really he’ll spend his free time doing what seemingly every other man in America spends his free time doing: playing video games or watching sports while eating hamburgers and joking about sex to whoever will listen.

That’s a third direction where my life could take me.

At some point I’ll finally realize that life isn’t about what happens to you but about how you perceive it to be, and that life is happening right here, now, and not in some distant future that probably will never happen. I will get a job and it will have its pros and cons. I will get a man, or two or three or eight, and they will have their pros and cons. Times will be good and times will be bad. Hopefully I’ll continue to write about these times, but if I don’t, that will be okay too.

Enjoy this video by John Mellencamp, because “cleaning up the evening slop” is… what we all should aspire to?

Working for the Man

For years I worked in the marketing industry, making a nice salary, day in and day out, staring at spreadsheets, presenting presentations, calculating formulas, creating marketing strategies to convince consumers to buy more stuff. It was a soul-killer. Now I stock grocery shelves. After nearly 15 years of office work I could not take it one more second of one more day. I figured, I love the grocery store, and I love organic groceries, and I love the fact that it’s locally owned. And the grocery store job is fairly low-stress, except that the store manager occasionally wants to know how sales are doing, and my managers want me to become a manager, but not at a position above them, so they made me a “team lead,” and they try to tell me about the bigger picture and motivate me. I sense they want me to be more enthusiastic, but that may just be my perception, my head telling me that I’m not ambitious enough. The other day the store manager–I’ll call him Gus, like Gus from Breaking Bad—asked me to start coming in to work 15 minutes early to join in on the manager’s meetings. Which they have daily. To motivate the managers, to give them a big rah-rah for the store. I’m not sure how much the managers make—anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000, according to salary.com, which still would not be enough for me personally–but I’m not a manager. I’m a “team lead,” which means I make $12 per hour instead of the introductory $10 per hour, and the idea is that I “lead” a “team” of two people, who have managers of their own. So to ask someone who makes $12 an hour to wake up 15 minutes early and commute 30 minutes to a job that’s easier to get to by paying the toll road that costs $80 a month, after I just downsized my life to live in a bedroom, all to motivate me to make more money for your store, not just once a month or once a week, but every single day? It’s enough to make me want to write a book about why the working class of America can’t get ahead. A (best-selling, award-winning) book that chronicles the daily lives of the individual workers who somehow manage to make it in our nation’s capital among the wealthiest individuals in the country and therefore in the world. Somehow we are supposed to feel excited about helping the store increase sales.

It’s a locally-owned organic grocery store, so I thought it was a great idea to contribute to the local economy. What I didn’t realize is that working for the man is working for the man. Whether he’s the owner of a local business or a huge corporation doesn’t matter. I’m not working for my own dreams. I’m working for someone else’s. And you want me to do more than make sure my department is clean, stocked, and presentable? I spend eight and a half hours a day lifting between 25 and 50 pounds—which I’m not too proud to brag about to anyone who’ll listen—dealing with customers who can afford to buy organic groceries, who will return week-old, wilted lettuce they bought on the expiration date because, to their surprise, the lettuce got wilty. And you want me to do what?

The good news is that I finally figured out what I want to do with my life, and it’s the same thing that I’d started to do five years ago after I got my MFA and taught English composition and American literature to first-year college students. This is no small victory. For years I have been agonizing over what to do with my life. Years. Even after returning to get my MFA in creative writing, even after teaching for a couple of semesters and deciding against pursuing a teaching career at that time. Because what I really want is to become a writer. Since childhood I’ve wanted to become a writer, but how would that pay the bills? And isn’t that like trying to become a Hollywood star? The market is vicious, getting published in a reputable publication is next to impossible, the amount of work is practically insurmountable, you can’t earn a living doing this, and you’ll never make it… One creative writing professor told me I’d never get into Bread Loaf, which is this hoity toity writer’s conference held in Vermont. These are the messages I heard as an undergraduate, and I allowed the fear to stop me from doing anything at all, until now. Because the problem with living in fear is that it can become paralyzing. But what else am I going to do? Not do it? Not going for it is not an option anymore.

Now that I’ve made my decision, I’m going full force. So no, I will not be applying as an adjunct at the local community college teaching English composition this time. With an MFA I can apply as a full-time, with benefits, actual professor, teaching literature, at a university, while I’m working on my writing. I want to publish collections of essays, and I want these essays to inspire people to laugh and see truth and beauty and go after their own dreams. I want to inspire college students to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams and not live in the paralyzing fear that they can’t do it because the American dream is a lie. Because it is a lie, depending on how you look at it. No, I can’t become president, but I can become the best version of myself, which means staying true to myself.

So for now, I’ll keep working for the man, because I know it’s temporary, and I’ll be on my path soon, now that I can finally see the path.

Enjoy this song by PJ Harvey, one of my teenage idols. This song has nothing to do with the working class of America, but every time I think of “working for the man,” I think of this song.

The American Way

“My Life” as written by Marshall B. III Mathers, Adam Levine, Larry Darnell Jr. Griffin, Curtis James Jackson and Herbert Louis Rooney

Got a call from an old friend we used to be real close
Said he couldn’t go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.

I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone

I never said you had to offer me a second chance
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
I still belong
Don’t get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time

They will tell you you can’t sleep alone in a strange place
Then they’ll tell you can’t sleep with somebody else
Ah but sooner or later you sleep in your own space
Either way it’s okay you wake up with yourself

The inspiration for the name of this blog came from a Billy Joel song.

When I was a little girl my dad would drive my two older sisters and me to his house in Warner Robins, Georgia, which was about thirty minutes or so from where we lived with Mom in Macon. Daddy had a few staple albums, or tapes, I should say, that he listened to in the car, one of them being Billy Joel’s greatest hits, which included Piano Man, Only the Good Die Young, Big Shot, and of course, My Life. All the sock-it-to-you, take-that, I’ve-had-it-up-to-here songs, and Daddy would pound his fist on the steering wheel for emphasis as he sang along to the songs. Looking back on it I have often imagined he may have been thinking about Mom and the divorce, although this was years after their divorce, and he could very well have been thinking about life in general, and all of the rules society forces on you when you got your 18-year-old girlfriend pregnant and now here you are, ten or so years later with an ex-wife, three girls, a mortgage, and a job working at the air force base. Which isn’t so bad, or may not have been so bad to him anyway, and is really just me imposing my own ideas about what that may be like, which is basically that it’s depressing. But it’s a fact of life for a lot of people, and I doubt they’re all wallowing in a mire of self-pity over it.

One of the comments that a reader posted on songmeanings.com about this song was that the opening is about Billy Joel himself and his choice to chuck “the American way” and do his own thing in L.A. I wanted my blog URL to be theamericanway.com because it was, in a way, ironic, or satirical, or middle-fingeresque, because I’m saying, Eff the American way, I’m doing my own thing. I certainly don’t have the white picket fence life, nor do I want it, but at the same time, I’m another worker bee trying to make it like thousands of other people in this country. So I pretty much am living the American way whether I want to or not; it’s not like I’m living off the grid.

And I liked mylife.com because I like the phrase, This is MY life. This is my LIFE. THIS is my life. This IS my life. No matter what word you emphasize, there’s no denying that this sentence is full of meaning, it carries weight, it’s about making a decision to live my life for myself for a change and no one else, no apologies, final answer.

But both theamericanway.com and mylife.com were taken, so I settled for wakeupwithyourself.com, which I like better, because it’s closer to the truth for me, for this blog. It’s like the saying “wherever you go, there you are.” Yes, we can go our own way and take a geographical cure and leave for another town, but when I wake up in the morning, I’ll still be me. Taking this phrase out of context from the song changes the meaning of what the writer probably intended, but I don’t care. I like the idea of waking up, waking up with yourself, and the idea of figuring out your identity. Nothing matters and it will all be okay because when I wake up, if I’m lucky enough to wake up from this trance, if you want to get all Buddhist about it, then I’ll find who I truly am.

Ain’t Gonna Drown

I believe in a higher power. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to me that it’s an energy field, unconditional love, possibly a higher self that’s part of some collective conscious. It’s not a bearded old white man in the sky who controls my destiny and punishes me when I’ve done the wrong thing. My own mind can do that for me – why do I need someone else to add to it? Some people believe that angels exist in outer space and that we all have our own guardian angels. I don’t know if I believe that, but I like the idea that I am being cared for, that someone or something is looking out for me–and for you too, for all of us. Because I believe that this life is all we have that we know of, and it’s not meant to be lived in constant misery. Of course bad times will happen, but there’s no point in perpetuating negativity in this short life we have here on this planet we call Earth.

My higher power, or the universe, or God, whatever you want to call it, has removed all distractions from me so that I can focus on what I know deep down I need to focus on, which is myself, my writing, my career path. One of my favorite distractions is men. I’m an attractive woman, child-free, and I love men. Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with men. I love them when they do what I want, and I hate* them when they don’t.

Recently I decided to go against my nature and ask a man out. I’ve spent most of my 38 years here in this sphere passively waiting for life to happen to me, but it turns out that you make your own reality. And while the old-fashioned Southerner in me tells me never to chase a man, I decided to go for it, at the encouragement of a trusted friend. It wasn’t unprovoked—I’ve known this man for several years, and he has expressed interest in me a few times, going so far recently as to lay out how he wanted to start our dating process, which was the same wish that I had: no sex until after several dates, friends first. We both jumped into past relationships too soon, and we wanted to avoid that this time around. He even said that it would be hard not to have sex with me right away, so I know I am not completely delusional. But when I tried to pin him down for a date, he didn’t respond, and I know from past experience that means he’s not interested, or changed his mind, or who knows? Maybe all he wanted was sex.

The dreamer in me romanticizes that he loves me and always has, but something holds him back right now, and he’ll come back to me later. At that time he’ll admit he loved me all along but he had something going on, something very serious that he needed to deal with, like his sobriety, or he’d just found out that his mother was terminally ill, or he thought he may be moving soon and didn’t want to fall for me when he knew he was going to have to move away. The stories we tell ourselves to make the rejection hurt a little less.

So I am disappointed. I am confused, hurt, and I feel rejected. What had I done wrong? Had I been too forward? Did I misunderstand him? Is something wrong with me? Is something wrong with him? Why doesn’t the universe want me to be happy? Is there some reason I can’t have one single thing that I want right now? If not a fulfilling career, then at least a man to keep me company, to talk to, who understands me. I don’t think I’m asking for much. Just a friend. Who’s also great in bed. But not a fuck buddy. Who is he to reject me, my ego wants to know. I am not looking to add to my collection of husbands or ex-husbands. I don’t have a time table because I don’t need to get married again or have children. What man would not be chomping at the bit for that? Especially from me: a pretty, kind, intelligent, and physically fit woman. It feels arrogant to say those things, but it’s true, and it’s okay to compliment myself.

But when I woke up this morning, I decided that no, I am not going to roll over and die. So a man doesn’t want to go out with me. What am I going to do with that? Like one of my friends told me, I am so much bigger than that—we all are. My self-worth does not have to depend on whether some guy likes me. I can be hurt and even angry, but I don’t have to re-live those feelings of negativity or the fear of abandonment. Happiness is a choice. I can look at this as an opportunity to focus my energy on my own dreams, and not in some other person. Everything happens for a reason.

So I got up this morning and browsed the “moods” category of Spotify, skipping my usual “Femme Fatale” and “Deep Dark Indie” and on over to “The Happy Hipster.” Because today I choose happiness.

*Just kidding. I don’t really hate anyone. Intense feelings of dislike and aversion, sure. But hatred, no. Peace and love. For real.

I Will Not Go Hungry

Around this time last year I had become manic for the second time in my life. The first time was in 2007 after I left my first husband. But this time around it gradually came on, starting with insomnia around August or September of 2013, when I began to allow myself to contemplate the fact that maybe a divorce to husband #2 would not be an apocalyptic catastrophe. I stayed up late at night, mind racing, and it was dawning on me that this was not what I wanted for my life. By Thanksgiving he moved out.

By the beginning of January I realized I had made a major budgeting mistake with both of my online marketing accounts and had overspent one of them by something like 6%, when it was only supposed to exceed no more than 1%. Numbers were never my thing, although I’d scored well on standardized tests—about the same as what I’d scored in reading and writing, which wasn’t genius-level, but it was above average—but I’d never been confident about my ability to correctly manage budgets at work, or most everything else that I had to do at work, for that matter.

Most everything else consisted of analyzing data, creating marketing strategies, and creating presentations based on that analysis and then presenting them to teammates and upper-level executives. All of this was terrifying to me, being an INFP on the Meyers Briggs scale, which is someone who’s more suited for roles such as counselor, teacher, social worker, or writer—but I didn’t know that I was an INFP at the time. Just that I couldn’t concentrate at work because I hadn’t been sleeping at night, and this stuff was already difficult for me. The account manager on my accounts was also touching on a sensitive nerve for me, she being a driven, ambitious recent college graduate who needed to know why my work was incorrect and when it would be fixed and what my plan was now and how were we going to tell the client this. I wanted to strangle her on a daily basis and tell her that I don’t need a child telling me what to do, that when she got to be in her late 30s and twice-divorced and trapped in a career path she never wanted in the first place, then maybe she would have some compassion.

My boss was kind and understanding, told me to take some time off and get my insomnia under control. So that’s what I did, sort of. As a last resort I went to an acupuncturist, which helped, although I was still a bit manic, and I went back to work a couple of weeks later. However, when I got back to work, I couldn’t see myself doing the same job again. This wasn’t a new feeling, but it had almost reached the breaking point by this time. I can’t remember how the conversation came about, but my boss had already sensed that I wasn’t ready to jump completely back on board, so he assigned me a new role as an auditor, auditing internal accounts for improvements and external accounts for sales.

This new role was a relief at first, but pretty soon became tedious. Every day all day I combed through spreadsheets, compiling data, creating charts, then providing this info to the online marketing managers who managed the accounts I was auditing. Most of them didn’t care for the info; they were managing their accounts just fine as it was, thank you very much. My boss wanted me to somehow take this job a step further—“10 steps further” is what he’d said. I had no idea what that meant or how to do that. I was having trouble with just the one step further part.

When you despise sales and marketing, advertising and commercials, inventing new ways of doing these things you cannot stand does not come naturally. So by May I went to my boss and asked if there were some other jobs I may do instead. How about project manager? How about web content strategist? While strategizing website content sounded a bit painful, like manipulating people into paying for something that won’t serve them, such as an online degree for a for-profit, big business education client, maybe the position would be easier for me, being a natural writer. And maybe it was big business but this organization helped people better themselves, and maybe their degree was not a worthless money pit that would drive them into student loan debt for the next 20 years where they worked a job they hated just to pay off the loan. Not everyone was like me.

But my boss wasn’t having it. He told me that I could either go back to my old job managing online marketing ads, or we could agree to part ways—and, he added, if we agreed to part ways, the company would be glad to give me a severance check. Pretty sure I knew what to do, I contemplated this idea over the weekend anyway, and talked to a trusted advisor about my decision. I had about three months’ worth of savings—surely that would give me enough time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I hadn’t figured it out in the 20 years since I’d graduated high school, but somehow in those three months I was going to figure it out.

So I went in on that Monday and I told my boss of my decision to leave and that was it. By August my savings was almost out and no decision yet. Not even close. So today I work in an organic grocery store where I used to spend about $400 a month. I figure I may as well get a discount on my food if nothing else. And one thing is for sure: I will not go hungry.