Saturday, November 21, 2009

About The Things You Want

Although I have officially secured employment, I am still waiting on an apartment situation to come through, so I am still "staying" at my moms house. After a few suggestions about what this blog should become (thanks pals), I am still at a bit of a loss to discover the over all goal of what I type here. Perhaps, as with many good things, its purpose will be uncovered over time. As for now, I fantacize about what my new place will be like, what my new life will be like - how i'll do all the things I should be doing now, then. This is pretty classic me, sitting around, watching television or playing on the internet thinking about all the jogging/writig/guitar playing i will do when I have some free time.

My BFF Nick, over at the Grammar -Diarthrosis, recently wrote a little about this phenomenon as well. She asks herself, and us, as her readers, " if we know what makes us happy, why don't we do it more often?"

Although I have always acklowledged myself to be the sort of person who enjoys a little suffering, I was surpised to realize my response - because sometimes I'm happier with my cravings unsatisfied. I haven't always been a "do what I want" type of person, but I have been inviting a little more of that attitude in over the last several months. But even "doing what I want" leaves me still not doing some things that I know make me feel better - specifically writing and jogging. Some of this is laziness, as both of this activities require some sort of motivation, but that isn't the only reason why I hesitate. I hesitate because I know that if I have everything I want, and if I do everything I desire I won't know what to do with myself. What will be left? When you reach all your goals, don't you just have to set new ones anyway? Will I ever actually be satisfied?

You know how people always ask that question about winning the lottery? The "If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?" question? I've never had a good answer to that. I mean, I would travel, I guess, but I wouldn't want to travel alone, and everyone else probably has to work and pay a mortgage, so they can't come with me. Would I spend all my time running and writing? You'd think since I've been test driving this hypothesis since August (clearly without "all the money in the world" but with "a sufficient credit card limit that I'm not afraid to use") that I would have found the answer. But I haven't. If I decided to "write all day" I would be instantly frustrated and probably feel bad about myself for not writing a masterpiece. The running? Just because I have a million dollars and tons of free time doesn't mean five miles will be any easier for me...and its still cold out...and either way, it will still only take up an hour of my day.

The be all end all point really is this: Do what you can when you can. I think its ok to not accomplish everything you want to, or to not do all the things that make you happy -- just dont stull wanting those things or forget what makes you happy.
Photo: Nervous Blogger joyfully running a St. Pats 8k in DC.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Swiftly Times Have Changed

As some of you may have heard, vacation Nervous Blogger is officially retired and prompt and professional NB is here to stay.

That is correct, I am jobfull.

Now, I still have a couple weeks left to find an apartment, move all my stuff, and generally get my act together, but the big question is this: Where does the blog go now? I honestly thought, by the way things were progressing (or not progressing), that I would be an out-of-work blogger for quite a bit more time, but the tides have shifted.

What do you think I should post about?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Waking Up...

Growing up, my mother had a rule about weekend sleeping in – She let us. When we came rolling out of our bedrooms at 11, 12 or 1 pm she always said. “If your body didn’t need to sleep, it wouldn’t sleep.” From this late-sleeping-on-the-weekends habit, I grew into an adult who felt at a loss for free time. An adult who tried to get up early and state up late on weekends – to try to cram as much into those days as possible. I have become a person who is bothered by laziness and who would rather talk a walk around the block than watch one more episode of Project Runway.

When I was working in DC, I rose for woke at about 6:55am. Sometimes a little sleepy or whiney, I was always in generally good spirits about starting the day. My live-in girlfriend at the time woke for work even earlier than I did, so I often had an hour or so of half-awakeness during which to acclimate myself to morning.

When I first arrived in Austin, my two roommates and I often cruised, pajamaed out of our respective sleeping quarters around 9am to have tea together in the kitchen. Now THAT was sleeping in for us. Nearing the end of the Austin adventure, we all started sleeping later. I don’t know if we were partying longer or harder, if our days were more busy or stressful, or if our bodies were simply getting used to the idea of a life without a schedule.

Now, back in my mother’s house, under my mother’s rules, I fight to get myself out of bed each day. Even when I sleep from 11pm to 11am – I’m still tired. Because she is retired, my mom also sleeps when she feels like it, so I’m under no pressure to be extremely productive.

I know that it will be easy for me to fall back into a work-day routine. I know this primarily, because I will be so happy to be working. It’s just so odd that during a time of my life when I have so much free time, I sleep so late. The weather in Chicago has been an absolute miracle, but I wrestle to get myself up to enjoy the day. I’m not depressed, I don’t feel sad when I wake up – just tired. Just reeeeeealllly lazy.

This morning, I got out of bed at 9:30 and I’m temporarily alone in the house. I feel like the only person in the world. It’s nice. I’ll try to remember this feeling next time I’m tossing and turning alarmless well into the late morning…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can You Sell Yourself Without Selling Out?

It had been a long damn time since I last tried to sell myself; to push all my awesomeness to the forefront just hoping that I don't look desperate. I mean, I don't spend much/any time on the singles scene and I already have a great group of friends to whom I never need to "prove" myself. I just am me. Unfortunately, this sliding, gliding be who I am and don't give a crap what anybody thinks about it attitude has had to be wiped off my snug little face for the ultimate selling of oneself - the job interview.

Oh yes, when interviewing for a job my pomp-a-hawk becomes more of a mom-do, and my nose ring gets slipped into my front breast pocket. My Chucks are replaced with sensible slip-ons and my ego gets kicked right out the door.

Some people appear better on paper than they do in an interview, and others have the opposite problem. I don’t really know where I fit into the spectrum. I know that I have a lot to offer an employer, but my resume doesn’t really speak to all of my unique abilities. Conversely, the resume communicates a lot of experience in a field that I never really meant to get into. So in that one particular field, I’m doing ok – It just may not be the field I dreamed of. Isn’t that true of most jobs?

Is it selling out to "put on your best behavior" for an interview? To try to appear non-controversial? To quiet down your politics? I sometimes worry that I am doing a disservice to myself by calmly and coolly describing each detail of my past employment without revealing my real interests, causes about which I am passionate, and the blue-donkey blood that runs deep under my skin.

There is a common retort to this sort of argument: “If they don’t like me for who I am than I don’t want to work there.”

Sure, this is true in the big picture. I don’t want to work at a place where no one is concerned about equality, the environment or human rights. I don’t want to work at a place where I feel uncomfortable or unaccepted for my style (or my lifestyle), but this big picture becomes a little blurrier each day.

It becomes blurry because unemployment is not a good look on anyone. Because working, even if it is with an organization that doesn’t match my needs or my personality, is still working. I think as each day goes by I’m more willing to compromise. Does that make me a sell out, or just a realistic adult?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Benefits of Stopping an Object in Motion

In August, when I made the decision to leave my job, I did so knowing that I had a really strong support system (and a solid savings) to lean on while I got my act together. I think a lot about how this knowledge, this security makes my experience so much different from many other people's.

I also know that because of this break in my continuity I have time to evaluate my life in a way most people don't get the chance to. It was easy after I had decided to major in English during undergrad to just get a degree in English, like it was easy to stay in DC once I had moved there, and to stay at my job because I had been there for so long. An object in motion tends to stay in motion just as an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

What happens when you stop an object's motion? When you suddenly insert that huge piece of movie studio glass always being carried around by two glove-wearing handy men and the object slams into it with all the force of a lifetime of sacrifice and commitment? What happens to a bruised object, startled and stopped; surrounded by shock and all that glass?

I guess it suddenly has choices it never saw before.

I'm not saying I have a whole lot of "choice" out there in the working world. This is not a candy store job market will wall to wall choices for anybody with a nickle. This is a job market where choice/interest/preference might be completely dissolved into experience/persistence/luck. But that lack of actual choice means that the unemployed can spend some time thinking about where they would be IF they did have all the choice in the world. To think about what steps might be needed to change careers, to start new endeavors, to relocate or re-educate.

No one wants to be unemployed (not even writers and artists no matter how much they claim to thrive off of Ramen and distress), but at least taking a moment to start picking up pieces of that glass, and maybe blinking your eyes two or three times to get your environment in focus can help you figure out if your original trajectory was really on target to begin with.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Staying Vs. Living

“Are you living back home, now?”

“No, I’m just staying there for the moment.”

I can not stop myself from distinguishing between “staying” and “living” in casual conversation. The words project from my mouth defensively erasing all confusion about my situation. Until some inquisitive fool asks the ultimate question, “Oh, how long are you staying?”

Damn it, friends and family, I have no idea.

I have no idea how long the job hunt will go on, how long it will be until I can get my ass in gear and get my own place. Is there a possibility I could be here for 6 months? Absolutely. Would I ever, I that time, unpack my suitcases and say that I’m “living” at my mother’s house? Not a chance.

The problem here is not a matter of embarrassment to live at home, nor do I have something against the suburbs in general or specifically the Golf Center of the World (as my hometown’s water towers proudly proclaim. Really.). Its not any of that. It is simply a matter of taking steps backwards. Of working hard to craft a life independent, a life without owing money or favors, a life in which you can do and be anything you choose – and then having to give it all back.

People “live” at home while they go to grad school, save for a condo, after a layoff, or divorce, because their perfect job doesn't provide enough support financially to make the move – because one part of their plan involves saving money for their next step. People also “live” at home because they have no interest in leaving, because they don’t have the experience or education to get a job that would afford them rent money, or because they are afraid. I don’t fit into either of these categories – I’m not an intelligent person who is utilizing the availability of a rent-free home space to get ahead. But I’m also not an almost-thirty who isn’t able/doesn’t want to have a life outside of the childhood home. I’m a person who quit her job in the midst of recession and now has to pay some pound-of-flesh price.

I am incredibly thankful of my mother’s generosity. I’m not just crashing in my own bedroom, and have full use of her car, but I also have a meal plan. I think she feels bad for me a little, knowing how happy it has always made me to pay for things on my own, to live in other cities, to know that no one is worrying about me screwing up. And, to be honest, the whole situation is my fault. I chose this path of unemployment and homelessness, but I guess I never imagined I would feel so helpless.

I can’t get over myself enough to “live” at my mom’s house for a while. I’ll just be “staying” here for the time being, an independent girl independently deciding to hang out at home for a spell.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sun Bright November Days

Today, the sun is shining in a way that recalls the first day of Spring, rather than the last day of Fall. On a day like today, the ultra green grass and SUV dotted driveways of the highly populated township retain a sort of appeal that I don't often attribute to the suburbs. Its open quietness is sort of pleasing and affects a part of me that I have long assumed dead. I guess an appreciation of slow and quiet was just dormant beneath my everlasting and unquenchable love for the "hustle and bustle" of city life.

Jogging outside - in this weather, in the suburbs - is different, too. With a Cubs cap pulled down over my eyes I can run, without turning, for more than 2 miles. I cross a few quiet streets and wait at one or two red lights, but it is nothing like the constant stopandgorightturnleftturn of city running. Out here, you can envision yourself on a rubber-soft track. You can maybe run forever. Your legs feel strong and heart stronger. In the bright sunlight of Chicago's early November, the race is just beginning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Same Blogger, New Game

Like Michael Jordan or Brett Favre, every time you think I'm gone I reboot (maybe with a different jersey). Yes, the nervous blogger is back again and this time more nervous than ever. In fact, more nervous in an entirely new way: I'm not only out of school, but I am also out of work and out of DC. Im back in Chicago seeking out a new path in life and, recently inspired by a friend who is starting a cooking blog, I've decided to get back on the blogger bandwagon.

I'm working on some writing pieces right now, and I think I'm going to use this blog as a place to air some ideas and to talk a little bit about life unemployed and in a weird life transition. Transitions have always made me nervous, but I always like to think about the "positive" side of wiping clear the slate. I need to remind myself that I can be whoever I want to be, even though a truly clean slate is something that we maybe can never really actualize, because our past (in one form or the other) will always follow us. We can change our careers, our hair style and even our names, but we end up with years of experience that color our opinions/decisions/actions. I wrote an article sort of about this recently for TNG, a lovely site you should visit where I am a weekly columnist -- about starting over in your home town.

I believe that you are created by your experiences, and are thus a constantly evolving being, but I also recognize in the simple world where we meet each other with our eyes and shared conversation, your new you will not always be visible. It's hard to tell an new friend about all the events that sculpted you without becoming a blathering idiot and probably still not getting your point across. It takes months and years for someone to start to know you - and when you move to a new place, try to start a new life, you best be ready to go through that trial.

So that's where I am. Back in Chicagoland, unemployed, single and still trying to learn to play the guitar. However, I'm always nervous, so while somethings have changed, others forever remain the same.