Stream of Unconscious

Often I wake in the middle of the night with thoughts and visions that must be written. A lot of it may seem like mere rambling, but I am a born writer; I need to see what happens to my words once they stare back at me from the pages of my computer screen. Since I am ususally more than half-asleep when this happens, I jokingly entitled the original document: "Stream of Unconscious." Now that I am finally starting to publish in a blog (as so many people have suggested I should do!), I thought the title remained appropriate.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

You know it's getting bad when...

(Just for the record, all of these things really happened today.)

You know it's bad when...

* You get excited that gas is "down" to $2.92 and you rush to fill your tank.

* You look at your current balance and are delighted to discover you'll still have almost $100 after rent is paid!

* You have to get to work in order to relax and unwind.

* Writing your blog before bed is the highlight of your day.

Today has just been one of those days where the magic just never showed up. I shouldn't complain, because a lot of people have it worse than I, but I'm going to complain anyway. Trust me, it helps. I wish I knew what made today so awful, but I don't know, I only know it was.

I think I'm upset because a lot of my friends are leaving, going off to do other things, and I'm still trying to decide what the heck I'm doing here in the first place, and what I need to try to do next. I keep going back and forth between staying here and trying to get a better job (preferably one I didn't hate), or moving to Nashville to do a year as an Au Pair. I could get some money in the bank and be able to start off a little better this time next year, whether I wanted to move back to Chattanooga, or just move on to something else. It's not a bad option, really.

Here's a funny thing. At work tonight, I was the official "greeter," which meant I stood in the doorway in a ridiculous T-shirt and passed out information on our "weekend special" which is pretty much: if you spend a lot of money here, we'll give you something that's... sort of... free. I had to give the spiel about it all, and it's amazing to me how many people don't want anything for free if it means they have to pause and listen to another human being explain how to get it.

So, by the end of the evening, I had shortened my little speech down to: "Hi, if you spend $50 or more, you get this free." and shoved the little information paper into their hands. I found that people didn't hate me so much if I said it quickly and let it go. If I had shortened it any more, I would have probably sounded like a Cavewoman: "50 dollar... you get free." We were, of course, supposed to explain in detail the various potential benefits, some contest rules, and promote our store's credit card, but morale was low and I didn't have the heart to make anyone's weekend worse.

Somewhere along the way, about halfway through the evening, I guess, I thought to myself... maybe going through an interview and getting an office job wouldn't be so bad after all. One of my co-workers said that if I stayed until Christmas, they would make me dress like an elf, and hand out candy canes with the information taped to them. I want to be in another country by Christmas.

So while I'm standing there, wearing the Official Greeter T-shirt and handing out flyers about potential free stuff (which people reacted to as if I were handing out tracts!), who walks in but one of my old bosses from the day care. I don't really know why, because I am infinitely happier at this job than I was at that, but I felt really freaking embarrassed to know that my old boss now knows that I work in a department store. She asked me how long I'd been working there, and I lied and said it hadn't been very long, and that I was just doing this for fun while I waited to hear back from some of the places I'd put my resume in to.

In my defense, that was the orginal plan, and there are remnants of truth scattered throughout what I said, but things haven't exactly worked out as I'd hoped, and I did make it sound as though I hadn't been working there since February, and that I had put my resume in a bunch of places... not just two... and that I do this job for fun. *sigh*

But I must say, I don't have to separate screaming, fighting children all day or have someone sit me in their office and tell me they need more detailed lesson plans (the lady that came in tonight was the one who always did that), which we will never, ever use because no one can get thirteen five-year-old children to do jack! So... I should be happy for even a "greeter day," which really wasn't so bad, after all.

I must sleep now, because I'm working all day tomorrow too, and I'm exhausted. I'd love to get a few posts adding to the "You know it's getting bad when..." list! I'm sure I'll come up with some more tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Hear the Mermaids Singing...

I'm sitting here in my apartment, thoroughly enjoying the simple quiet of the evening, and waiting for the caffeine of the day to wear off. A train passes by, singing its lonely song in the night, and I feel a little envious. I want to go, too.

But I love this. I have grown to love this Tennessee, this mountain range, this little town on the outskirts of the great city of Chattanooga. Even down to this little apartment; I love all of this. Am I really willing to let it all go? But if I choose to stay, what am I giving up, what is it that is out there, somewhere, calling me to come and find it? What is supposed to come next in life? Is there a "supposed to" at all?

No one really knows. People will always give advice, and some of it may even be good, but I've given up on finding someone who really knows what needs to happen next. I guess it's my decision, and I guess I'll just have to make something up and go for it. There are no tracks laid out for me to follow to my next destination, like the train. Only choices, millions of choices, and I guess you just pick some and give it your best. I feel like I've been doing that, though, and haven't been very successful so far. I suppose it all depends on how you measure success.

I spent the morning looking at Au Pair/Nanny jobs in exotic places. I do it for fun, but sometimes it leaves me melancholy. I'll say: "I could move to Fiji!" but I know I'll never do it, and so a little part of me is sad, and I wonder what life would be like if I could live without fear. Beautiful, I'd bet. Life would be utterly beautiful. The kind of beauty that is contagious, unmovable, and thoroughly shocking. We need more of that kind of beauty in this world.

Knowing me, though, I'll take a slightly safer route, and move to Franklin, Tennessee. There is a family there that seems genuinely caring and really just needs someone to help out. I have a couple of good friends in Nashville, which is close, and I wouldn't be too far from my friends here... I wouldn't have the stress of wondering if I'll have enough this month to get all the bills paid. But giving all of this up will be hard. And part of me says, "If you're not going to London or New Zealand or somewhere awesome, is it really worth it?"

I don't know. I haven't really lived enough (and by that I don't just mean long enough) to know what's worth what in this world. I feel like I could stand to learn a great deal by moving some place amazing, some place far away from what I've always known. But it's a huge risk, and I'm not so good at risk-taking.

It would be neat to discover what happens to my writing when I'm somewhere else entirely. I wish I could afford to just go, on my own terms, instead of having to take a job somewhere. I wish I could just visit and see. But that isn't the life I live... at least not yet, so I have to go with what I've got. A lot of people don't get to just travel where and whenever they please, so I shouldn't feel so persecuted... but that doesn't mean I can't wish and long for a better day to come.

Maybe I'll hear back from one of these places I've sent my resume to, and then my decision will be easier. But am I certain I want to stay here? Am I that sure that this is where I want to be, even if I get a better job and I'm able to stay? Do I really want to just lead a "normal" life; find work, get married, have babies, grow old...? There is certainly nothing wrong with those things, and I have wanted them all deeply from time to time (and still do). But... if I could have more... and I'm not sure that I can... but if I could... would I?

There is nothing but silence to answer me.

The train is long gone by now, and I cannot follow. The world keeps turning slowly, this beautiful and sometimes horrifying world, with all its wild places that I have never seen. Some days I wonder if I'm not just measuring out my life in coffee spoons, as T.S. Eliot so eloquently put it...

"I hear the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not believe that they will sing for me..."

I wonder, if you find a way, if you go ahead and move to Fiji, do you find just a different manifestation of difficult, or do you finally find what you'd been looking for all along?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thoughts on Job Options

Good news! They now have an auto-save on blog drafts, so I won't lose entire posts anymore! Three cheers for technology! I am very excited about this feature. Although, having been an English major, I should have automatically saved a backup file of what I was writing, but we won't think about that.

Life is good over all. I find myself continuing to narrow down my options, whether by choice or default. At least I am getting somewhere, even if I don't have results in the form of interviews just yet. I have to first discover what I really want to do before I can put all my efforts into trying to get a job! Most people disagree with me on that point, claiming you should “make finding a job your job,” but I despise the process of getting a job so much (i.e. filling out applications, updating my resume, going in for the interview) that it is best for me to work this way. Once I decide I really want a particular job or a type of job, then I'll work hard to do all that. It just works better that way. I’ve lived with myself enough to know that by now.

So I've decided that I'm not going to try for the Peace Corps just yet. It's still a backup plan, since it incorporates the travel/expenses paid part of my goal, but I don't think it quite fits all I want at this time. I think I’m intimidated by the length of commitment. Two years just feels like a really long time... I'd be turning 28 by the time I got back if I went this year! Ack!!

For some reason I'm not sure I really want an office job, though I may still try for some anyway. It would be a good way to pay the bills and have a little left over, and it wouldn't be too horrible, I suppose. I could live my life on weekends like most everyone else in the known world. I’d prefer a little more flexibility, but I’d also prefer to continue buying groceries and using air conditioning, so that's a thought.

I'm still waiting to hear back about the Post Office job. I still really want that one. It may seem like a cop-out, but I've got a lot to figure out at this point in my life, and I think it would be good for me to get paid a whole lot (plus benefits!) to type labels so the computer can generate mail more easily. And a worthy cause it is, too! :) It'd be behind-the-scenes, which is a good thing for right now, and I wouldn’t have to tell skinny blonde chicks that “No, in fact, we don’t have skirts any shorter than these, but thanks for playing…”!

I know what this will look like for some, but I think they are wrong. It's not that I don't have ambition (as people have suggested in the past), it's mostly that I'm emotionally worn out from college and family crap and I need to buy some time and figure out how to get where I want to be. I have career goals, they just aren't immediately attainable. I just have to pay the bills right now, get a job that more than pays the bills (hopefully something non-customer-service related, because that is also draining!), and save up to try freelance writing, or find a nice, normal family to Au Pair for, or something of that nature. That's my "plan" for now if you can call it that. I think it's not too bad, considering I often feel like I'm wading through a swamp in pitch darkness without a flashlight and I have to decide which direction to go next! Is it just me?

So I went hiking last Saturday and it was awesome! I love being in the woods in this weather. How much do they pay Park Rangers anyway? That's a thought. But I have the day off, and I think Ben does too, so I think we're going to go again today. It is beautiful outside. I'm considering bringing a bathing suit... but that mountain water is just so cooold that I don't know if I'll brave it or not. I like hiking for an hour or two, then finding a rock somewhere close to the water's edge where the sunshine reaches through the leaf cover above, and just sitting for awhile. Sometimes I'll pull out my journal, sometimes I'll pray, sometimes I'll have a conversation with whoever's with me... but mostly I just sit. There's just something about that place that I love deeply. I love "places" that are more a state of mind, or a state of life than actual physical places. Hopefully I'll find one of those today.

Speaking of, I should probably start packing the peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars if I’m going to be able to get out there for the afternoon. I’ll probably write some more tonight…

Friday, May 18, 2007

Single White Female in Search of... Life?

Hello blog readers!

Alas, I have been a slacker, and have not been posting. In fact, I have been a slacker in many areas of my life of late… my place is a mess, my car needs to be cleaned out, I haven’t really worked out or even started tanning for the summer… *sigh* I did, however, make it to the grocery store to spend more money than I can really afford on stuff I “need” for the next week or so. So that’s good. At least I have food in the fridge for the next little while. If all else fails, I’ll still be eating relatively well, and what else really matters? :)

Anyway, I’ve had much on my mind lately. I wish I could blame my lack of discipline on the fact that I’ve been working too much, but I really only worked about 22 hours this week, which allows for a lot of wonderful free time and no money to enjoy it with. I’m trying to live well anyway, going hiking or reading in the sunshine when I have an afternoon off. I'm looking forward to the pool opening soon! But this not having money is tiresome after many months. There are just so many decisions you have to make, with very little to work with, and it is truly draining.

This week I had to opt out of going to see Shrek 3 because I just can’t justify it with my current budget. I do, however, have enough to go see Pirates of the Caribbean (I’d probably live out of my car rather than skip that one in the theaters!), so I’m not too bad off just yet. I’m not really complaining about not getting to see such-and-such movie, and I hope you can read between the lines a little bit here. I do realize that I am extremely blessed despite the necessity of frugal living. What it all comes down to is that I either need to quit my current job and get a much better one, or I really need a second job. Which makes me a little nervous, if I’m being honest with myself.

All of this brings me straight to what’s been on my mind lately. What the heck do I do next?? When I was in college, I used to say that the next time someone who was married and/or financially okay told me “These are the best years of your life!” I was going to punch them in the face. Now, not only do I get angry, but I feel this creeping sense of despair as well. If this is as good as it gets, man, have I got a long way to go! I had hoped all of these years that the next stage of life might be a little better than this… so far it's just a different manifestation of difficult!

I thought for awhile (for the last week or so) that I might join the Peace Corps, and go some place exotic, and help people and myself by doing something outside my comfort zone. That would give me my chance of going somewhere else with my expenses paid, and I would just write in whatever free time I had. But I’ve put a lot of thought into it, done some research and talked to all kinds of people, and it doesn’t really seem like quite the right fit. I’d still be up for some crazy nanny/Au Pair job if somehow I could determine ahead of time that the family wasn’t, in fact, psychotic. But unless somebody knows somebody, it is just too much of a shot in the dark for me to seriously look into right now.

Apart from that, I’m playing around with some ideas I’d rather not bring up just yet, until I’ve thought through them a little more. Basically, I just feel kind of lost in a great big world, while time passes more quickly than I am comfortable with. I’m turning 25 in July. Am I not supposed to have more figured out by now? Do I have to use my English Major to get a job right now, or can I just use the knowledge I gained to explore writing in my own time, and for my own purpose? For some reason I'm unsure about getting a job that is closely related to what I ultimately want to do, but not quite the thing itself. I just feel like that's a recipe for disaster. What if I ended up hating the very thing I most enjoy?

Much too much to think about these days. I'll try to come up with something infinitely more creative to write about next time.

Til then...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stupid internet connection

Well guys, I'm extremely frustrated. I just tried to post a fairly long blog, in fact I had been writing for about 45 minutes, but when I hit "publish" I didn't realize I had lost my internet connection, so, of course, up comes: "the page you have requested cannot be reached" crap-for-crap, whatever the heck that is! So I quickly hit the "back" button, but to no avail. It has been lost forever. So instead of trying to recreate what I just wrote, I think I'm gonna call it a night (as far as blogging is concerned) and hope for better luck tomorrow.

It has felt like a really long day! :(

Monday, May 14, 2007

...And Straight On Til Morning

Is it just me, or do we all sometimes get that voice in a little corner of our heart saying: "didn't you want more than this?" I'm not talking about a bad voice, the one that says: "You're a loser, you'll never amount to anything, just look at you!" I mean the one that's gentle, that pokes at our comfort zones and whispers: "You sure this is all you want?"

I heard it this morning. Nothing caused it, as far as I can tell; maybe a dream sparked a longing I had forgotten. All I know is, I just woke up wishing I were somewhere else, doing something else. Something just bothers me, just a little bit, about where I am in life, and where I seem to be heading.

Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty happy these days, minus the intricate budgeting I've got going here. I'm not saying I don't realize I'm blessed, or that I don't appreciate what I've achieved thus far. I'm not saying, either, that I can't choose to be happy with whatever circumstances are handed to me. This is not a cop-out or just a "wishing for whatever you don't have" kind of thing. Give me the benefit of the doubt with this one, if you will.

It is difficult to put into words. Let me attempt. Out there, all around, are other places, other cultures, other relationships with people I've never met, never experienced, never knew to know about. But I want to know. I want to go somewhere else, gain new experience. Everyone says this is the time to do that. While I'm single and can technically move anywhere I want to go. No family responsibilities, no career, no real reason to be anywhere. I'm in an ideal position to just GO, as soon as I had the money to (which may, in fact, be what's stopping me in the end).

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to go, didn't want to do... something else. I tried, once before, in a way. My plan was to be an Au Pair in America for a year and then take a position overseas somewhere, learn about a new culture, and write about all my experiences. But it didn't really work out that way... I'll have to spend an entire post explaining why at some point. Boy, was that a job to remember! So... scratch that idea. I'm not ready to be an Instant Mom just yet. But how else do you get overseas with your living expenses paid? I've yet to find a way!

And I know it's not just me, seeking Neverland. Because I've talked to a lot of people who have put a lot of thought into life, and every one of them have had that little voice inside that says "why don't you go?" Somewhere. Who knows where? Why don't we go?

If I had a Genie in a Lamp right now, I'd ask for two things. First, that my stupid school loans would be paid off, and I could live debt-free. Second, I would ask to travel to many cultures, discover many things that have never been written about before, to give people a voice when they can't speak for themselves. I would ask that my simple expenses be paid while I discover, write, and live for a couple of years this way. My last wish I would save for when I got back from all my travels and go "okay, so what do I do now?" I'm sure I'll need it for something important at that point, like a real job! =] Or maybe a publisher for my book from all my world travels. Or a therapist.

I don't really know how to wrap all of this up. Maybe I just needed to throw my heart out to the world and hear it echoed or ignored or just to know that someone out there heard it cry. Sometimes I just need to write, and I never know the purpose of it, only that it must be done. Maybe God has a purpose in all of this that I don't know about yet.

Maybe, just maybe, the life I'm looking for does exist, and maybe I'll find a way to go. Second star to the right...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

WWJD: We Want Jelly Donuts!

Hello, friends!

It's a sleepy Sunday morning. I have to remember to make coffee here because they've started closing the snack table at church as soon as worship starts. Apparently, there were some people who were coming late for church, getting coffee and donuts, hanging out until the singing was over, and then just slipping in for the sermon. The scandal is outrageous. But we can't do that anymore, because there are no snacks after like, 10:30. So we're going late to church instead, and I'm bringing my own coffee.

You may think "that's terrible," but really, you haven't heard the music. Sometimes its pretty awful. And there's this one girl on the "worship team" I kinda make fun of... a lot. And I figure it's best just to not give myself an opportunity to be unkind on a Sunday morning, because every time I think: "I'm really going to prepare my heart for worship this time..." and I'll try, and every time I make fun of that girl; rocking back and forth and shaking her head from side to side, hands clasped, with her eyes closed. I think going late to church is one of my ways of "cutting off my right hand," so-to-speak, because I'm tempted to sin (and I always cave!).

So I've got a few questions for the masses. Is going to church a little unenethusiastically better than not going at all? Does that just mean I need to find a new church? Am I a weirdo Christian, or are half the people sitting there thinking: "I wish they still had donuts out... man, that girl just won't stop swaying... does she really mean that enraptured expression or is she just faking?... gas is so expensive right now, I wonder if I should have come?"

Many years ago, I had a friend named Martin who challenged my shaky belief system by pointing at my electric purple WWJD bracelet and saying: "We want jelly donuts!" I was horrified, convinced he was being sacreligious. Now, probably ten years later, I find myself disappointed that they close the snack table early so people will be on time for worship.

In all seriousness, though, I realize that many Christians in the world are very sincere about their faith, and very dedicated to their church. I have been a little nomadic about church, and maybe I'm just not getting the big picture. But I have never felt like I fit in a church, like I really had a "church family," like I was connected enough that people cared whether I was there or not. Maybe, because my current church is an hour away, I am just not able to be involved enough to give and recieve in the way a church family is supposed to fuction. But I think it may be more than that. I'm not convinced that the problem is just me.

Is there something wrong with the church in general here? Are there churches that don't function this way?

Don Miller believes that the church in America in general is pretty messed up. Is there any more literature I need to discover on the subject?

Any thoughts, comments, shared experiences?
I'd love feedback!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The New Blog

Hi everyone!

I finally started a blog. I'll be completely honest, though, I'm a little nervous about all of this. I'm trying to decide what exactly I will write about from day to day. Do I have anything important to say? Will any of this help me towards becoming a published author? Maybe... because in a way it is practice. Maybe I shouldn't take it all so seriously, though.

As one of my English professors in college was always saying, it is difficult to write anything unless you have an audience in mind. I don't really know my audience. Family and friends, and curious readers, yes, but that is a broad audience base. I guess I'm having a hard time figuring out what my purpose for writing is. Maybe that is why I haven't written creatively for a "public audience" in a long time.

I'm reading an awesome book called The Artist's Way by... well, I don't know who it's by. The book is lying around here somewhere and I'll find it and give you the author then. I'm a little bit of a messy person naturally, and all of that is compounded by my recent move into a new apartment. Then the mess really comes out. You know, because all you really need is one stupid shirt, but you have to go through five suitcases to find it! Yesterday it was the coffee stirs (coffee stirs or coffee stirrers? Hmm), and a knife to cut chicken with. And then you pull out stuff, and don't put it back, because you want your cup of coffee so you can freakin' relax for two minutes! Or, you have to get dinner going because one of the people you're having over has to be somewhere at 7:00.

I think I'm not very good at coordinating things, though I am quite good at ideas. See, moving was a good idea. I'm struggling with the unpacking part. Maybe that's a stretch, though. Maybe, in reality, I'm just a wee bit lazy. :)

Anyway, this book, The Artist's Way, I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to reconnect with their creative side. One of the things that has helped me most is the daily "morning pages" assignment. Though, I must admit, I haven't kept up with them daily. But the funny thing is, I have discovered that my day goes just a little better when I have written my three pages in the morning! Actually, I cheat and don't look at how many pages I have written, but how long I have to write. So, before work, I'll set my self 30 minutes or an hour or whatever.

I'll write more on this book later, but there's my plug for it for now. I think I'm going to peruse other people's blogs online for awhile and get an idea of what they're supposed to be like. Wish me luck...