Dreams

Last night I dreamt I was in the passenger’s side of a car while one of my friends (and co-worker) drove me to my boyfriend’s house. Instead of pulling into his driveway she drove past to another house, which was a surprise to me, but it turned out that the other house was her old house that had foreclosed. She went to take some of her cat food that she needed for her cat, because she had none at home, and the new homeowner came out to tell her to leave. She explained that it was her old house, and straightened up some of her things before we left.

I like to interpret my dreams because I believe the subconscious mind has knowledge of what’s going on in our lives that our conscious mind takes longer to comprehend or acknowledge, and I’ve read that the other people in our dreams represent a part of ourselves. Interpreting my dream is like analyzing a short story. One can interpret the dream by looking for symbols and connections in them just like one would do for a piece of literature in a high school or college literature class. In this dream someone else is in control (driving) and that someone else is a person who I think of as ambitious and academic, who recently got a good job at a university, but who in the past drank too excess which caused her problems in life, and who, in her opinion, has gotten a late start in her career. She’s very smart, and she’s also committed to her sobriety. In the dream, as in life, she lost everything (foreclosed home), but she can’t move on because she goes back to visit her house that really isn’t hers anymore to get some food for her cat because she’s financially destitute and she needs food to take care of her pet. She is the one who’s driving me to my boyfriend’s house, a place of love and safety, which is where I want to go but she insists on taking me back to the past instead. The entire situation took place in the neighborhood where I grew up, which is a frequent backdrop of my dreams, and possibly means I can’t get over childhood issues.

I’m not sure how to move on. I received an email from a recruiter for a job that pays significantly less than my former job but almost twice what I get paid now, and it’s for writing, so I jumped on it. Part of me had become resigned while the other part of me was still fighting. Surrender apparently is the best place to be, in spite of the American ideal that we’re supposed to fight to survive, railroad everything and everyone to win at this game of life. Surrender is when we tell our higher power, which I call God, that I give up, and I don’t know what’s best for me anymore. It doesn’t mean I stop applying to jobs, but I let go of the idea of what I think the outcome is supposed to be. In my mind I should get a job writing or doing something I enjoy and I should make a lot of money doing that, or at least enough money to pay my bills and have a little extra left over. For the past year that has not happened for me, so apparently God has other ideas, presumably because there are other lessons for me to learn right now.

So what is the fucking lesson?

Because to me it seems to be that I don’t get what I want in this life. I don’t get what I want, but I get what I need. Do I just stop wanting more? Do I stop trying for more? Do I just work in the grocery store for the rest of my life? I hope I have more to contribute to society than that but maybe that’s not what God wants for me. I am not special or unique. Lots of grocery store workers have much more to offer the world than stocking grocery store shelves and they don’t get that opportunity. Maybe I just need to focus on more spiritual growth. I’ve volunteered for an event Tuesday, and I plan to do more in that area, so we’ll see how that goes. I still don’t see how that will pay my bills.

I don’t feel hopeful today. Mostly I feel resigned. Disappointed. Even if I got a “good job,” I don’t think I’d be able to do it well, so it’s fair to say that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I’m too emotional on any given day to be able to separate my personal life from my work life. A customer might find me in the bathroom crying (that happened) or a co-worker might find me in the cooler crying, or out in the open, behind the customer service counter cutting up boxes to be recycled while crying. Because my life has gotten so far from where I think it should be that I don’t know what to do anymore, and I have no idea what direction my life is taking. I may actually go through with school and become a nutritionist, or I may borrow a bunch of money and fail at that too. I want so badly for someone to come and save me, but no human power can do that. No person can be relied upon to do that, and that makes me incredibly sad, in spite of the fact that I know it’s impossible even if that person wanted to, even if they tried. I feel so terribly lost.

I’ve posted this song before but it seems so fitting, again, right now.

Fear and the Meaning of Life

I almost typing ’05 on a document I was saving on my computer and it took me a minute to realize it’s ’15, not ’05. How did 10 years go by so fast?

Yesterday I spent the day writing my admissions essay to get into a master’s program for nutrition. Mostly I’m nervous about the amount of time it will take to do all this work and do my day job too. I’m worried I’ll never have time for fun, especially with my new love, a man I adore. But if I don’t do this, I’m afraid I’ll never do anything, that I’ll just continue working at the grocery store forever. Eventually maybe I’d get back into marketing, but the further I get away from it, the less likely it seems I’ll get a job doing that again, nor do I want to go there again.

Ten years ago I was married to my first husband, had not yet gone to grad school for my MFA, which, resulted in nothing but student loan debt, which one of my friends believes will end in student loan forgiveness. One can only hope.

Over the weekend my first love died in a car accident. He was driving his truck on a closed road and lost control, was ejected from the truck which landed on him several times. When we were in high school we used to drink beer and he’d play his guitar and sing to me. He was a sweet country boy who lived with his grandfather and in the summer we would ride around the country in his old Cutlass Supreme and listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival. My sister often expressed her admiration at his business scheme to pick up pecans for money. He friended me on Facebook a few months ago and I accepted, only to defriend him a few days later because he kept posting embarrassing comments on my photos, and I didn’t want my friends to see that I was friends with a redneck. I know. Real mature. He had a son.

Today I’m full of fear about going back to school. I have less than $200 in my bank account that is supposed to last me for two weeks, which is about what life was like for me as an undergraduate. I will need to get gas and buy groceries, so it will be almost depleted before I get paid again, and when I get paid, everything will go to rent. I was on the verge of calling my mom and asking for money – to me, this is one step away from begging on the streets – when I remembered that I’d paid the $500 deductible for a minor fender bender, and the insurance company owes that back to me because it wasn’t my fault. So while it seemed like a curse when I was told I had to pay at the auto body store, it was a blessing because I paid with my credit card, and now the insurance company is putting $500 directly into my bank account. I’m living off my credit card which is fast approaching its limit, but I’m trying not to think about that right now. I’m just lucky that I’ll get that money to pay rent, and then I need to consider freelance writing to get some extra money. Maybe I should go back and apply to marketing jobs again. I will have to ask my boss to let me have weekends off for school, which is a weekend program, and I don’t see that going over well at all. They want us to work one day each weekend.

I am so worried that I won’t do well in school, that it will be too hard to study while working full time, that I’ll have no life, no time to see my love, and I will never have enough money to get by on. I know it’s not true, that it will work out, but I don’t feel like it will. I feel like it will be like everything else seems to have been up to this point in my life: a start was made, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and later it did not work out, and I had to start all over again, just to do the same thing again with different men and different jobs in different houses. I just want something to work out. I don’t want it all to end one day in some freak accident to show up in some random stranger’s inbox and for that person to wonder what it all meant for me, what it was all for, that I never got anywhere in life but was always trying.

The Jumping Off Point. Almost.

I give up.

No longer am I applying to graduate school to get my MBA or a master’s in marketing, and for now I won’t be pursuing a master’s in nutrition. For this week I’m not applying to marketing jobs or trying to get promoted into the marketing department at work. I’d already given up on teaching again so that’s off. I’d considered becoming a personal trainer or a yoga instructor and those too are a no-go. I missed the deadline for working on an organic farm so that won’t be happening this y ear.

None of the aforementioned ideas or their resulting actions brought about any open doors, nor do I have enough drive to try to push any harder. I may still try for a master’s in nutrition but it just doesn’t feel 100% right today and that bothers me. Part of me feels like I need a visceral belief that what I’ve chosen is meant to be, while another part of me feels like I just need to choose something. The issue is that when I just choose something, I’m dissatisfied. I think that the key is accepting my choice, and knowing that it won’t look the way I want it to because that’s not how the world works. But maybe that’s an old idea.

It seems like I should take some kind of action toward doing something or else I’ll end up working in a grocery store for the rest of my life. But what actions do you take when you’re out of ideas for what to do? Nothing seems like it fits. This decision-making process is what I was supposed to do when I was in high school or college or even right after college.

My sponsor suggested I look at what I’ve already done at my previous job that I enjoyed, skills that I could transfer to another job. I can’t think of a single thing. I worked in Excel or PowerPoint most of the day, creating charts, calculating formulas, writing bullet points, analyzing data. It was the opposite of what I wanted to do. How does one analyze a number? One is one is one.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to do any of those jobs. Maybe I just don’t like working, and that’s why I don’t want to do it. Maybe it’s because I am deeply afraid. What if I don’t do a good job? What if I get fired because they don’t think I have enough talent? I feel like the most desirable job to me right now with my current qualifications – a word I use loosely because I don’t have much of a portfolio – the most interesting job to me would be a job that involves writing, and it would probably have to be a job writing marketing content because I have a marketing background.

I’ve written about this before, but I’ll write about it again because clearly I can’t seem to get over it. After my first office job of four and a half years, a job where I was loved, I left to work as a copywriter for a marketing agency, where I was fired after one month. To give myself some credit, not to put the blame outside myself, the account manager did not like me. He wanted me to help him do his job, and when he asked me to do that, I told him no, that I’d been hired to be a copywriter and that’s what I planned to do. That was my first mistake. And this account manager had a relationship with the client, and therefore the ability to sway them, informing them of how the agency was no longer using the copywriter before me, a copywriter whose work the client knew and loved. My manager, a former English professor, liked me and my writing samples that I’d provided during the hiring process, but he did nothing to stand up for me against the account manager. I might add that I’m pretty sure the account manager read my writing samples beforehand as well. I was about 26 years old, emotionally immature, and my drinking was in full swing. The morning I got fired I was jittery and shaky, and my hands shook to sign some documents they gave me. I was so shaken I didn’t read the documents, but I’d guess they were some kind of documents to keep me from filing unemployment.

They’d told me that the client didn’t like my writing. I’d had a hard time writing the healthcare newsletter, and an even more difficult time revising it. They wanted me to write healthcare tips for patients with preventable or manageable health issues, such as lung diseases, heart disease, or diabetes, in order to encourage them in an indirect way not to go to the doctor as often, because the client was an insurance company and all the doctors’ visits were costing them money. I’d known going in that I would be writing healthcare tips, but to learn that it was for an insurance company who was blatantly trying to discourage people to go to the doctor – well, it felt corrupt, deceitful. And I had no copywriting experience.

When I was 14 or 15 years old, my sister started talking to me about getting a job. She was four years older than me, and she seemed to be the only one in the family who looked after me. She taught me how to get a job, do my taxes, apply for colleges. She may have taught me how to drive – I don’t remember. I remember my boyfriend teaching me to drive his old Cutlass Supreme, but that’s all I remember.

My mother and stepfather divorced at the end of my ninth grade year, when I was almost 15, and by that time my sisters were away at college and my stepbrothers were away at jail or doing whatever it was they did, getting girls pregnant and robbing stores. My sister Lacey had started working when she was 15, which allowed her to save money for a car, and she recommended that I do the same. My mom and I had moved into an apartment in a better public school district, so I started tenth grade at a better school than where my sisters had gone in the old neighborhood. In that apartment complex was a guy my sister’s age, 19, who talked to me a lot, like a big brother I guess because he never tried to sleep with me. We often talked about our old neighborhood and what a dump it was, and how we didn’t know that while living there because that was all we knew. I’ll call him Travis.

Travis worked at the mall at a clothing store called Merry Go Round, and I’d mentioned to him that I wanted to get a job, preferably at the clothing store next to his, Contempo Casuals, a store that sold sexy clothes that parents shouldn’t allow their 15-year-old daughter to wear. Travis talked to his boss about my working at his store, so one day when I was shopping at the mall, he brought his boss to meet me. In her early 20s, this woman had a direct demeanor and dark hair cut into a stern, blunt short haircut. She took me outside the store to sit on a bench and interviewed me for the job.

I had no idea I was being interviewed, nor did I know how to interview, so I just answered her questions honestly. She asked me what kind of people I didn’t like, so I said that I didn’t like mean people. She wanted to know my reaction to a customer’s rudeness, so I said something along the lines of, “I don’t know,” or that I’d call a manager.

For years when I reflect on this incident I think about how stupid and naïve I was, and how I should’ve known that one should never answer these questions with those answers. But how does a 15-year-old who has never been in the workforce know this shit? You don’t come out of the womb with a knowledge of customer service, no matter how American you are. And the girl who interviewed me was the kind of person with a dog eat dog mentality, just a real bitch. Maybe someone had schooled her before she’d gotten her first job, or she had forgotten what it was like to be 15 years old and inexperienced.

When I spoke to Travis about it later, he seemed surprised. He said to me, “She felt like you didn’t really want the job?” I too was surprised, because I did want the job, and didn’t understand why she thought that. At some point, then or soon after, I realized that mean people were the kind of people you’d encounter all the time in retail, and you had to be ready to stand up to them. And if they were bothering you, you didn’t go crying to the boss to take care of it, you fucking took care of it yourself because the goddamn boss has shit to do and you better not disturb her. And I just did not know how to do that.

After that experience I didn’t get a job – and therefore I didn’t get a car – for two years.

Lacey taught me that if I wanted a job, I could apply to a department store, and they’d train me how to do the job. I didn’t have to know everything already. Our mom also worked at a department store at that same shopping mall, but she worked at Sears, where she sold vacuum cleaners and sewing machines, and later, lawn mowers. I applied to Belk’s, a clothing store. Lacey told me that they often hired in summer and around Christmas, and she taught me how to dress for the interview and what to say. I got hired to work in the men’s department for a woman who must’ve been in her 30s at the time, a woman who I remember that her husband was a minister. She was very nice to me. Belk’s took me through training and I was able to buy my work clothes, nice dresses and beautiful dressy shoes that I loved, at a discount. Mom let me drive her car to work; I guess we shared her Dodge Colt until I saved enough to get a white 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, a car my dad picked out which had flip-up headlights that made it a redneck car, in my opinion, but looking back on it, it was a cute car. I’d saved $1,000 to get the car, and my dad caved and threw in $1,000 more, and my grandmother threw in $500, and for $2,500 that’s what I got my senior year of high school.

I was ashamed that it had taken me so long to get a car and a job, because Lacey had started working at 15 and bought her own car at 16, like the responsible, strong person she was. It had taken me soooo long, because a year is an eternity in a child’s mind.

One of the problems with believing that the world works a certain way, a way that’s unfavorable for me, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I spend my life believing I don’t deserve happiness, and therefore won’t get it, then nothing will ever make me happy. I know people who lived and died having spent their entire lives with this mentality, and it never got them anywhere. My first husband’s father was one of those people, and that mentality got him to a place of dying alone on the couch while drug addicts went about their daily business around him, hoping he’d go away forever. But that’s a story for another day.

The point is, I deserve happiness as much as anyone else, and in fact I owe it to the world to be happy, just as we all do, because my happiness allows me to become a contributing member of society. Happy people don’t go on shooting rampages – not that I’d do that because I’m more of a suicide, but you get my drift. A job I like and am good at has to exist for me. It just has to. How else does anyone work? If everyone worked at jobs they hated then wouldn’t we all just commit suicide, or homicide, or at least not work? And if someone can work at a job they love and are good at, then why not me?

I think there’s no other way around it than to go back to school. I just don’t know how someone will hire me doing something I enjoy just because I enjoy it. I will need to learn more, and I’m leaning towards nutrition, except something, fear maybe, holds me back.

One of my co-workers is studying acupuncture, so I’ve started thinking maybe that. I just don’t know.

This blog is already too long, and it should be edited and cut into at least two blogs and then given a more conclusive conclusion and a more introductory introduction and a more cohesive middle but that’s not how life goes, unless that’s exactly how life goes, so I’m just going to stop here.

Here’s a life-affirming song from one of my favorite bands, Hot Chip. Just a beautiful song.

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My Babies

Rest in peace, my babies.
Rest in peace, my babies.

I miss Dakota.

Another dog lives in my house can fill in as a substitute for my affection, a boxer named Desi. Desi sleeps in a recliner most nights in the living room next to her favorite human companion, an insomniac roommate who spends some nights on the couch watching television. Tonight that roommate is snoring, so I thought I could entice her to come into my room simply by petting her, an action that would’ve been enough bait for Dakota to jump down from her chair to join me on my bed to receive kisses on her snout while getting her belly rubbed in the spoon position. But Desi didn’t budge.

One of the papillons by the name of Jackson, on the other hand, clicked his dainty little heels on the hardwood floors to the door of my room, hoping for some affection, and although a poor substitute, as I’m a big dog kind of girl, I invited him to jump up onto my bed. Immediately he whined for attention, a pathetic begging for love that doesn’t jibe well with my style. Not that Dakota wasn’t needy, but something about the way she nudged her snout under my arm, sometimes on my breast, which is just weird to say out loud but true, into that space between my arm and my breast where she’d rest her face, I guess it triggered sort of a maternal instinct reserved in my heart just for her.

I gave Jackson a belly rub, an awkward action due to the small space of his belly, being a small dog, and penis in the middle of it, so it’s not like rubbing Dakota’s belly, which she loved until she got kidney disease. She often lay with her belly exposed, and if she got into trouble she immediately exposed her belly to display her submission. Love was her primary motivator – not food or territory protection. She did think of me as her territory and was protective of me, including time spent with other dogs, primarily Jackson, although she didn’t mind Lucy receiving my affection. Desi was her best dog friend. But Jackson deserves love too, and I feel sorry for him because he’s always second best in spite of his good behavior, so I rubbed his belly.

Next came the cat, JoJo, another furry creature who insists upon noisy, action-packed nocturnal events in my bedroom with necessary investigation upon closet items, laundry hamper clothes, and always the space under the bed. The mattress has become a favorite scratching and climbing post. JoJo has outgrown his cuteness for me and has become another poor substitute for my cat Luna, who passed four years ago in a tragic death caused by my accidentally applying Advantix, a flea and tick prevention for dogs, but which is fatal for cats. Luna was the sweetest cat known to humankind, and no other cat can ever replace her. I don’t think I can ever have another cat.

I miss my cat and my dog. I miss my babies.

Here’s a song from Sinead O’Connor who I used to listen to way back in the 90’s, a song that rips my heart out. I think she may be talking about abortions, and then a relationship with God that bloomed from that, so it’s not exactly appropriate, but it’s the song that comes to mind for me right now.