Ah, alas, alack - another brief digression into the land of what the fuck am I doing with my life and what the fuck is my life doing with me. Mentally, I’ve been doing a bit better, despite a lot of not so great things going on.
My maternal grandmother, Mary Alice, has been in and out of hospitals since visiting with my family in October. Her health problems are exacerbated by her mental ones: we’ve been through this before, when I was a freshman in high school. She would neither eat nor drink, nor allow any light to fall on her, convinced of her imminent death. My mother and uncle took turns dealing with these massive, massive swings of anxiety. She comes from the school of four Valium a day housewifery school, and her fixation on an inability to swallow is particularly curious - part of me wonders, sadly and with disturbing pause, if she wasn’t forced into some sort of sexual trauma there. She has good days and bad - tomorrow she gets her pacemaker battery replaced, and I’m hoping all goes smoothly. No one wants to admit that even as a tough old broad of an 85 year-old, she’s still 85. My poor Memaw. I’m looking forward to eating Graeter’s with her at the end of the month.
There have been two deaths in the past month - my cousin, Mike Drake, and my great-uncle, Arley “Eugene” Cotton. I wasn’t particularly close to either of them, but I certainly absorbed the ripple effect through my family. Mike Drake was stricken by brain cancer just before Christmas, and lasted barely until Valentine’s Day. A devout Catholic, who gave his life to the church, and what did it get him? Three sons without a dad, a wife without a husband, and grandchildren that will never know their grandfather. What good does a life of abstinence do when death comes for us all? Uncle Gene had been on a slow, steady health decline for the last decade - not so surprising when you remember he’d been a smoker since childhood and not seen a doctor in forty years. I saw him at Christmas, and he looked to be more than ready to shake off this mortal coil. His son, Randy, (a damn fine marijuana grower) gave excellent care to the bitter end, and I was sad not so much for the loss of his life, as no one wants to see suffering, but for the loss his life’s end created for my father and my grandmother and aunt. We’re such a small family on both sides, these deaths are acutely felt. Both men were blessed to be surrounded by love as they parted ways with this world, and one could argue til blue in the face over whether a quick death like Mike’s or a slow one like Eugene’s is more preferable, but both paid the ferryman.
I wish I could have been home for these events. It’s unrealistic to think I could make it home for every major event, but still, I wish I could be there to lend support to my parents especially. One of the best things about being an only child is that as you age, you become a peer to your family, not just their child.
Part of the reason my mental state has been better is that I’ve been doing my daily diligence on the job front: scanning Craigslist, Idealist, and Entertainment Careers once in the morning, once at night. This way, at least, I can’t be mad at myself for not trying my damnest to get out of education. When I found an entry-level position doing social media for Suicide Girls, I was ecstatic. I applied, and was brought in for an interview the next day. It felt right - the day of the interview, my hair was great, the weather was beautiful, and I got to walk through Hollywood on the way fantasizing about the ways I would spend my first full-time paycheck. My anxiety grew upon entering the very warm office, and seeing the staff - unsurprisingly, they all looked the part. Being fat in LA is a major detriment to industry jobs, plain and simple. But what the hey - I certainly wasn’t about to be deterred. The interview went well: met the co-founder, made them laugh talking about Real Sex, etc. etc. I was thrilled when then sent me a follow-up challenge to choose five SFW photos from the site and write Facebook captions to direct traffic back to their main site. I was proud of the copy I wrote and the diversity of the photos I chose. I thanked them profusely, they said they get to me by early last week. And I waited. And waited. Called in good karma from friends and family. By Wednesday, nearly all the wind had gone out of my sails, and I had been woken up by news of Gene’s death. My students were the worst they’ve ever been, and in a spare moment, I checked e-mail to find that, yes, of course, they had chosen a more qualified candidate. I really, really wanted this job and can’t shake the nagging feeling that my appearance not my personality or qualifications, kept me from getting it.
I’ve been trying to push it out of my mind since then, but goddamn, can’t a girl get one fucking break? I’m nearing 200 job applications sent in the past year, have gone on about a dozen interviews, and all I have to show for it is a 20-hour a week job, that after rent and bills, leaves me with $100 a week to live on in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I am SO thankful to have any job, do not mistake me, but this financial strain is really driving me mad. Our friends are leaving, have left, jumped ship and that’s terrifying. I squandered so much loan money on stupid shit, forgotten pieces of Forever 21 junk and second drinks I didn’t even want in Chicago. I’m constantly stressed about money, as is Jack. We’re trying really, really hard, and it isn’t enough. Our lease ends May 1, which means a move to a safer neighborhood, a bigger place, but already I’m freaking out about summer employment (I can work for my current employer, but I fear my hours will be greatly reduced) and increased rent. Stress is manifesting itself now as illness, my second bout in three weeks. I’m on my third missed day of work, still full of fever and hacking my damn lungs out. Jack got food poisoning this weekend as well, and we’re fairly convinced the universe in conspiring against us.
I get it: LA is a tough city. The job market is shit. No one wants to hire twentysomethings. Pull up by our bootstraps, blah blah blah. I do think I’ve moved past anger and have found myself laughing at how tough things are more than crying about them, a healthy step I suppose. Letting go will hopefully lead to some better news on the horizon. I’ve been mad at myself for some empathy issues - I’m just having a really hard time feeling sympathy for people who still live at home, or live on total financial assistance from their families. It’s less about the money and more about the mindset: my old boss had a mantra that being broke isn’t about deprivation, it’s about isolation. I just can’t find a lot of sympathy for people who don’t have to buy their own groceries or can go buy half of Target’s spring collection without consequence. I am truly lucky to have a partner to keep that isolation from making me go totally mad, but we both find ourselves asking the universe what exactly it is we’ve done to keep us from catching even a tiny break - a finished piece of writing we like, a free couch, a month without sickness, etc.
There is something freeing in letting go, realizing that I’m going to be put through the ringer until the exact moment I’m not, and then, there will be another ringer to be put through. My number one goal right now is some bit of financial and job improvement, and I’m doing all I can do on that front, plain and simple. Another major goal I have is to learn how to drive (yes, I know, shut up) something I want to do this summer. We’ve been doing much better with eating, and I’ve lost some of the pounds that were making me uncomfortable, and eating better is improving my overall state of mind. More yoga is next on the docket, and more crafts, like those badass loteria cards I made this weekend. I’m on my fifth book of 2013. And I’m writing here, again, finally. It may not be screenplays, but it’s something and I can be proud of that. Things will improve. I know this much is true.