Wednesday, October 28, 2015

No Sleep 'Til Bayou

So. After taking an unintentional, retail-schedule-induced hiatus in September, I ended up having to schedule a second, more deliberate hiatus from posting on this blog. Yes, I had two posts in my queue, which was good, but before I had an opportunity to produce any more, a thing happened: I landed a new job.

But it's not as simple as that. I was given the opportunity to move to Louisiana for the sake of my (non-retail, non-writing) career. As a result, I've been packing and traveling and unpacking and learning the ropes and settling into my new role. 

Prior to 7 October, I had never set foot in Louisiana. This is a brand-new adventure, although the type of employment itself is familiar to me. (Due to privacy concerns, I will not be discussing work in any detail for the time being.) Obviously, a few things in my life have changed, and there are three major ones induced by the move. First, I have never lived anywhere outside the Eastern Time Zone. Second, none of my homes have been west of the Mississippi River. Third, this is the first time I have resided closer to Mexico than Canada.

Thus far, I haven't seen much of the state aside from the roads that brought me to my destination, but I am super-excited about the possibilities for exploration here. If nothing else comes of my time at this job (and I'm sure it will), I know that I'll be able to indulge my love for history and literature while I'm around.

Here's to new adventures!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Going the Distance

As some readers know, I am currently working a retail job. The store that employs me is about 45 minutes away from where I currently live. To some, this seems like an absurd commute. However, for many years when I was living in North Carolina, it was not at all unusual for me to have to drive 30, 45, or even 60 minutes in order to get to a doctor's appointment, a mall, or a decent restaurant. To a suburbanite, 45 minutes can seem like an eternity, but it doesn't feel that way to me most days because I still have a certain kind of mentality about distances and times. 

But my views on this continue to evolve. For example, right now, I am dictating this blog post to my phone while I am stuck in a traffic jam on a Thursday afternoon on my way to work. The fact is that my hour-and-a-half round trip commute, which often takes place in the afternoon and late at night, given my current schedule, is starting to wear on me. This is not because I do not enjoy my job; as far as I'm concerned, I have incredibly nice coworkers, and the work is really not so bad. Rather, it's because of those 90 minutes I lose every day.

Those are 90 minutes when I am not--and, in the main, cannot be--working on my writing. As you can tell from this blog post, I've managed to find a way around that, but only in some cases. For me, it is much easier to dictate a blog post than it is to dictate a poem or short story. Dictating a blog post is not unlike having a conversation, even though that conversation is with myself, seeing as how my posts are never particularly universal. (Side note: due to the nature of voice-to-text technology, I'm actually spending a great deal more time transcribing this than I would like; it would seem that my iPhone cannot tell the difference between me saying "poem" and "home," and that hinders my understanding of my own words sometimes.)

Unfortunately, this is not a solid strategy for my poetry, because I am the kind of person who cannot even whip up a piece on my computer; I must have a pen and some paper at my disposal. I am also not the kind of person who can remember a line indefinitely and keep it in my brain if it comes to me at the start of a retail shift, or really any time when I don't have access to materials with which to record the thought. My managers have previously found me with Post-Its, jotting down notes for poems. Luckily, they are very nice people and have never tried to stop me or discipline me for doing such a thing, and I've worked hard to make sure I'm only doing it when the store is slow and I do not have a customer waiting for me.

So, on the one hand, hooray for my brain being able to compose a blog post on the fly! But on the other, boo on the commute. Obviously I'm going to have to find a way to work around this, possibly by giving up a bit of sleep to offset the lost time, or perhaps sitting down during breaks and lunches with the intention of producing something. Because if there's one thing I absolutely cannot do, it is stop writing.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What Was Lost

Okay, so. Y'all are going to judge me for this post, and that's understandable, but try to stick with me, okay? Because there are some life lessons here, I think.

Sometime in the next year (I decline to say when, exactly), I'm going to reach a milestone birthday: 30. I am in no way prepared for this eventuality, in spite of having had three decades to brace myself for it.

There are many reasons why I'm overwhelmingly trepidatious about turning 30. Most of them have to do with not being where I thought I would be by that age: career, relationship, and so on. But there is one more, decidedly superficial explanation. I will not be getting my spectacular "Happy 30th Birthday!" gift to myself.

Once upon a time, I decided that I would start saving money with the intention of purchasing a (secondhand) Hermés Kelly at 30. It's the pinnacle of luxury--classier than its more popular sister the Birkin and lovingly hand-crafted from the finest materials in the world by master artisans. This was meant to be my way of congratulating myself for making it so far when I had strong suspicions that I wouldn't. Was the price sure to be steep? Yes. Let's not even talk about how outrageous it would be for me to spend all of my money on such an item or how even just five years ago when I hatched this plan, it would have cost MUCH less to accomplish the task.

But I had made other things happen: I wanted to take a trip outside of North America before I hit a quarter-century, and I managed it through an unexpected stroke of good luck as well as some generosity on the part of others; I wanted to have my second chapbook published before I was 30, and I persevered until I signed not one but two publication contracts. So in a way, I failed myself by not getting enough money together for that Kelly.

This hurts me a little. Not just because I'm materialistic and acquisitive--which I definitely am--but also because it's another reminder of the things I've lost along the way. Before you judge me too harshly, I would like to make it clear that I appreciate everything I DO have: a roof over my head (thanks, Mom and Dad), a job (thanks, Nancy and Becky), a modicum of good health (THANKS, OBAMA!), and more. So this is a sort of lament for what could have been in general, rather than a petulant complaint about an item I don't have in my closet.

Obviously I can--and will--live without yet another handbag, and a costly one, at that. But this knowledge doesn't negate the creeping notion that I may, in fact, be some kind of a failure. After more than a year out of my beloved office, I haven't been able to regain a foothold in my previous career track, which hurts enough in and of itself. More than that, though, I'm the girl who had to move back in with her parents (again, thank you, Mom and Dad) and can't even pay her own cell phone bill or feed herself (seriously, thank you). 

So, you see, it isn't really about the bag.

On the plus side, Little Dog is always at my side, my friends stuck around, my current job mostly doesn't suck, and I haven't run out of books to read. Plus, I get to see Niece and Nephew more often. When I start to get gloomy about the state of my life, I have to list these things off so I don't lose sight of this: not everything was lost.