Wednesday, September 7, 2016

There's No Place Like Home...

I have lived in my apartment for about three years now.

This is the longest I have been in one place since 2011, when I sold the house that I lived in for one month shy of three years. Prior to that, I lived in an apartment for four-and-a-half years. My current apartment has been a roof over my head for a while, but it certainly isn't home.

I showed up here after making a very ill-advised move back from Austin, where I had been living with my boyfriend at the time for just over a year. Austin was the city where I had wanted to be for a while, and my other half was a stand-up dude (sure he got on my nerves sometimes, but they all do). I had a laundry list of reasons as to why I needed to get out of that situation and come back to being alone in a city that I had wanted to escape for years, but the one reason that was glaringly absent from that list was "I AM HAVING MAJOR ANXIETY ISSUES THAT I HAVE STRUGGLED WITH FOR YEARS AND THESE ISSUES ARE NOT BEING PROPERLY DEALT WITH".

Oops.

Turns out that some people have a hard time processing several major life events that happen in rapid-fire succession, and I am one of these people. Starting in 1999, my life became a blur of illnesses, deaths, new jobs, break-ups, new boyfriends, more break-ups, more jobs... there was hardly a time between starting college and moving back to Atlanta three years ago where I actually allowed myself to properly grieve and process any of the things that happened to me. I tried to brush everything off as quickly as possible, hop on whatever opportunity came my way, and put up as strong and with-it of a front as I could. It seemed to work for a while, or perhaps I had just done an excellent job of convincing myself and others.

Now that my anxiety is not ruling my life, I've stopped running away from things. I'm sitting still. Being able to sit still has given me time to think about home; what it is, and what it isn't. I balk at the saying "There's no place like home" because for me, home isn't a place anymore. It's a feeling, a shared experience - things that do not exist in this apartment. I've had situations in the past three years where I almost thought I might be at home again, but these moments ultimately didn't deliver.

You can't force home. Home just is.

I am ready to be home when it happens again.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Where Do We Go Now?

This blog has gone untouched for two years. Many things have happened, because this is what comes with the passing of time. A lot of those things, though, haven't been anything I have wanted to think about, let alone write about. I have thrown myself into situations (and people) that have left me empty and exhausted. I have made plans from a place of love and hope that either didn't materialize or just flat out backfired. I have spent a lot of money and time that have all vanished into the ether. I have floundered, suffered a breakdown, and trudged along, trying to learn from my choices (or mistakes, if you prefer).

And he were are.

Things seem to be improving lately. I am starting to feel the tiniest bit of hope about the present and the future. I try not to beat myself up too hard for what has happened in the past, but I still have my moments. I have learned to be more forgiving of the things I have done, and hopefully one day I can get to the point where I am able to forgive myself as easily as I forgive others. I am making plans to do things, to see people, to go places, and to try and be the me that I haven't been in a while. I am learning to be still and just... be. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes me being overly aware of my thoughts, feelings, words, and interactions with others at times, but it is the price to be paid for personal progress.

I can do this. I've got this.

Ever cautious, though, part of me is waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop. Here's hoping that whoever is in charge of all of that stuff lost the shoe and won't be coming back anytime soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No More I Love You's

I'm trying to remember the last time someone who wasn't related to me said, "I love you".

There are some friends who will occasionally throw it into an electronic, non-spoken form. It means a lot to me, but there is something to be said about physically saying and hearing it.

Actions can speak louder than words in some situations, but words can be pretty darn loud.

If you love someone, even as a friend, try telling them. The world seems too uncomfortable with human emotions and needs sometimes, and that's unfortunate.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Owner of a lonely heart...

My life is very lonely.

I did not mean for it to be this way, and I do not like it (throwing that in there for anyone who thought I was a lone wolf-type).

For eight hours a day, five days a week, I work where people don't really know anything about me other than I am the Librarian. It is a cramped and busy environment, and people are more interested in if I can refill the paper in the printer or get their laminating completed in a timely manner than what makes me who I am. Working in a school also means that everyone will usually address each other by last name. This being the case, the magical first name that has helped define me for so many years doesn't really exist, and even with a very short and easy last name, people still can't manage to get that right. Some might chalk this up to being busy and having a lot going on, but I lump it in with just not caring. Whatever the case, my job represents the bulk of my interactions with people in any given week.

When the impersonal work day ends, it's a short commute home to my frugally cozy basement apartment. No significant other or roommates living here; just me. The apartment is in the home of a lovely couple and their elderly Golden Retriever, so the closest thing I get to human contact while I am at home is listening to them walking, talking, laughing, and barking upstairs. Friends and family are more than welcome to come over and visit (I have so many premium cable channels and a hot tub that isn't working right now!), but they don't very often. Much like the work situation, it is possible to chalk this up to being busy and having a lot going on. Much like the work situation, I lump it in with just not caring.

Weekends are daunting when there aren't any plans to look forward to. I try to find activities that I would like to do; activities that would allow me to meet people. There has to be stuff out there, right? I live in a fairly large city. Surely there are things that don't require forking out too much money, being religious, or playing sports?

Dating... ugh. Online sites don't seem to offer much. Friends don't have other single friends. People I meet on my own aren't interested/ready/available. My last relationship was one where, while there were issues to work on (that's how it goes, right?), I felt very loved and included in something larger than myself. I like to think that there is a man in a neighboring ZIP code looking for a situation like that with a woman like me, but I am not completely sold right now. Moving on...

Six months have passed since I made the decision to leave where I was and come back "home". Now that half a year has gone by, I am not sure why I came back here. Family? Friends? Opportunity? Whatever the case, I am anxiously waiting for a realization to appear. People often peg me as being pessimistic to a degree, but I don't think they understand how much optimism I have going into things. Unfortunately, it doesn't take too much or too long to deplete the reserves.

I have been told that people can't just assume you are feeling a certain way, and that I have to be sure to clearly communicate what is going on in my heart and mind. So, here you go.

I do not like sitting around by myself as much as I do. Things are difficult right now, and I need you.




Sunday, January 5, 2014

Take this job and shove it...

Or don't.

I'm not sure.

It's that time of year where, in my line of work, the jobs start to pop up. People have decided they are going to retire, move away, or just move on, and the possibilities start to make themselves known. In turn, I start to focus on the realities of my current job situation, and the potential that lies elsewhere.

I want to be the kind of person who can say, "You know what? My job isn't perfect, but I am going to make the best of it!". I really do. Maybe I could stay there a few years and just deal with it. Maybe? Maybe not. The reality is that I'm the kind of person who says, "Why put up with a situation where I have limited support and an aesthetically unappealing (not to mention unsanitary) work space, especially when I go elsewhere and get a better deal (possibly even more money)?" I know it is just work, as some people are quick to point out, but it is what I do the majority of the week. It's a big deal.

There is still some time to figure out what steps I will take next, but right now, I'm already feeling that itch to throw my name in the hat for some opportunities. When I took my current job, I vowed to myself that I would stay there for a while, but I am not completely sure that is a vow I will be able to keep when it's all said and done. I feel like I'm not really reaching my potential where I am with what I am doing, and I don't think it's a environment that is going to allow me to get anywhere close to what I feel like I could or should be doing.

Contrary to how it might appear to others, I WANT to find a place and settle down. I WANT to stay somewhere. Not only do I want these things, but I NEED them, too. I'm just not ready to slug my way through life five days a week for the next thirty years of my life. Perhaps that sounds a bit ridiculous, but I am okay with that right now.




Friday, December 20, 2013

Time won't give me time...

I haven't touched this blog in half a year.

A lot has changed since then, or it's possible that nothing has changed at all. Your guess is as good as mine.

I decided it was best in the long-run for me to leave Austin and come back to Atlanta; the city I wanted to leave for most of my life. Austin was such a fun place to live. It just wasn't... home? I really wanted it to be, though. For what it's worth, I can't say that Atlanta really feels like home a lot of the time, but it is where I am, and most likely, where I will continue to be for a long time to come (although, let's face it; I am not very stable sometimes when it comes to this stuff). There are times when I daydream about buying a house, putting down some roots... that would be nice, but for now, it seems a bit unattainable.

The plus sides of being back here? It's great to be able to see my family more, especially my brother's children. No more booking a flight to come back for birthday parties, and no stressing myself out with trying to see my friends while coming out over a weekend. I was also very happy to be able to experience Autumn again, since that didn't really happen in Austin. The health issues I experienced while living in Austin have cleared up quite a bit, but who knows if that is a product of this new (rather, recycled) environment.

The downsides... I wish this list were much shorter than the one above, but so far, it isn't. At least it isn't substantially longer, though. My job is stressful and annoying. I miss my coworkers, the building, and the much more laid-back attitude that came with my former job. My larger salary doesn't do any good when everything here is more expensive, either, so I have started trying to bring in extra money here and there. The financial hit I took over the past 2 years hasn't done wonders for my self-esteem or general mood sometimes, so I'm doing my best to build it all back up, slowly but, hopefully, surely. I've had to re-learn how to be much more self-sufficient, since I'm no longer a partner in a team, but maybe having to remember how to fend for yourself isn't such a bad thing (though I wouldn't mind someone doing all the grocery shopping and cooking).

Overall, I feel like I am doing better in general. A little anxiety here and there (see: here), but I'm pretty happy for the most of it. I have a lot of love in my heart, and I am hopeful about what's to come. Important lessons have been learned, and now I can take steps to be a stronger person because of it.

All I know is that I've made it this far, so I suppose I can make it a little further.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

YOLO

Today was the last day of school.

I started my career in education in August of 2001, so I have had my fair share of last days of school. Even in the worst years, I usually get a little emotional when it's time to wrap it up for the summer. Experience has taught me that you never know if you will see people again, and that is especially true in a school environment. Life happens, people move. Kids go off to different schools, coworkers' spouses are transferred over the summer... that sort of thing. You know it's coming, but it's still difficult.

Today was a rough last day of school. Aside from the fact that I kept getting teary-eyed with the kids, I recently decided that it would be best for me to move back to Atlanta to be near my family after giving it a year here in Austin. Since I don't like when people just vanish, I figured I needed to announce this to people today. I could have easily slipped away over the summer, but that felt wrong - almost as wrong as my decision to go back to Atlanta feels when I roll it around in my head.

Do I like Atlanta? We have a rocky relationship, and that's a feeling that started a long time ago. There are things I love about the city- and those things are people. I miss my friends and my family. I don't like feeling like I'm a bad aunt/sister/daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin because I can't show up to dinner on a random weeknight or make it to a birthday party or T-ball game without it being a big (expensive) deal. It hurts sometimes to miss out on the things my friends are doing. If my return to Atlanta, however, is anything like my previous time there, then I can be prepared for my family to find it too difficult to visit me, as I wouldn't live in the southern suburbs with the rest of them, or to feel lonely from a lack of a deep connection with anyone. I make more money in Atlanta, but the schools I've worked in have been rife with unnecessary drama and controversy. It's a city of failed relationships, bad habits, race issues, and humidity. Oy, the humidity! My family and friends there are wonderful, and I love them, but they don't/can't change the fact that I feel a sense of freedom and drive here in Austin that I didn't find back "home".

Things got off to a bumpy start with Austin. I moved here after an especially emotionally exhausting year, and I brought some of that baggage along with me (despite my best attempts not to). I started working at a brand new school with people who were coming together from several different places. I spent several days in the hospital, and that coupled with the cost of flights back home put me in a less-than-ideal financial scenario for a bit. I was hoping that people would come visit me in my new city, and although that hasn't happened yet, I am still hoping for that.

So, eleven months later, this is what I know.

I love my job. I have ideas I want to implement, the workspace is just aesthetically amazing, and I have a great group of colleagues that have become my best friends here. Did I mention I work with cute little kids who say/do some really funny and adorable things on a daily basis? There is also a really great support system of librarians in my district, and I know that doesn't happen everywhere.

Aside from work, I have a great boyfriend who does an excellent job at being a true partner. A lot of the time I put up walls and make myself distant, and that is something I need to work on no matter where I live. Somewhere along the line I picked up this whole self-destructive thing, and it's really not a good look for me. Hopefully recognizing and admitting this is at least a baby step in the right direction, along with remembering and appreciating the work he has put into making us, well, us. I've dated my fair share of guys over the years, and he is a rare find when it comes to being emotionally available, caring, and patient. Did I mention he loves to cook? This goes really well with my love of eating! We have some different ideas on things, but there is room for compromise and growth.

Austin has little things that I enjoy, and I'm not sure if a suitable Atlanta replacement exists for them. I love Pinballz, the giant arcade near my apartment. I could kill hours in Half Price Books. There is a river/lake downtown, and although the trees are not as tall and majestic as the ones back east, the rolling hills here make for lovely scenery (not to mention all the open sky). I'm involved in a community-run radio station, where, if I put in enough time, I can eventually wind up with my own show. The cinema scene here is in a completely different league than Atlanta, and you're never more than a stone's throw away from some tasty tacos.

Today as my boss announced to my coworkers that I was not coming back next year, I cried. I cried when my coworkers gave me hugs and said they would miss me next year. I cried in the library by myself after everyone had gone. I sent out an email to the librarians' listserv saying I was leaving, and I cried while doing that. I went to an engagement party for a coworker, enjoying a vast, blue sky as I sipped margaritas by the pool and laughed with friends and strangers. It felt like home, and it was the first time in a few days where I didn't want to burst into tears.

I'm not proud of myself for making a fairly major decision that I want to reverse so quickly, especially after having to declare it so many people today. I have changed my mind before, and I imagine it reflects poorly on me to a degree. That being said, I will not be proud of myself for going back to Atlanta out of a sense of guilt or obligation, and I really won't be proud if I get there and get right back into my old habits and mindset.  I suppose I am The Girl Who Cried Atlanta. In the wise words of The Human League, "I'm only human, born to make mistakes", and today has shown me that abandoning this leg of my journey so quickly might just be a mistake.

I love you deep down, Atlanta, but I have to do what feels best in my heart and mind - not what makes me want to cry and/or vomit all day.