Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wake up call

Tonight, in a lengthy phone call, I bemoaned my fate to a trusted friend and valued adviser.

"If I could do anything, I'd get a PhD! But I can't!"

He paused on the other end of the line. I listened to the three year old toddle across the floor into a pile of blocks, watched my cat traipse across bookshelves.

"Why can't you?"

"Because everyone knows two-PhD couples can't get jobs in the same city."

"Who said that was a fact?"

A revelatory discussion ensued.

And suddenly, everything changes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I worked another six-day week and woke up four times last night to the sound of my neighbor clumping across the floor on Clydesdale feet.

I go through so much back-and-forth here. I want to make this work: Portland, life alone, the new job. But the job, painful as it is, isn't really the kicker here. It's the fact that I have no time to go home -- I realized this morning that I'd spent the last seven days talking to no one but office mates. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I'm tired of making excuses to people who don't understand why those two parts of my life matter so much to me.

They do. I don't know what it means, but I have some thinking to undertake this week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Getting off my fraking butt

My working hours are insane. Physical therapy exercises take up lunch. By the time I get home, I can barely cook a meal, clean the apartment (goddamn, how is it that there's always more dirt??) and play with the cat before I succumb to an hour on the couch staring at the wall, then crawl into bed.

However, after my team's manager decided to trash not one but all of the public information documents I'd spent eight days writing, I've had it.

The reason I've never pursued writing is simple -- I'm terrified of failure. Imagine finding out that you can't do the one thing you love, either because you're bloody incompetent or you're just incapable of turning a dream into reality. I don't know what I'd do if I tried to write and discovered it wasn't going to happen...but not-writing guarantees the outcome, doesn't it?

This isn't the best time to begin. I really do work at least five to 10 hours more per week than I'm supposed to (thank you, American work ethic) -- which may not sound like much, but it drains me just enough to dull my appetite for voluntary evening labor. Nonetheless, I'm doing three things, starting yesterday:

1. Editing my novel page-by-page so I can reach where I left off with a renewed understanding of my characters and a reinvigorated desire to finish it
2. Thinking long and hard about where to go from here, be it journalism school or unpaid internships. The prospects seem daunting now, what with CB's looming postdoc, our desire to buy a home sometime before we turn 80, and the fact that I know nothing about freelancing...but I have one year to educate myself as much as I can so I'm positioned to get started when CB returns. Given my daily schedule, one year will be cutting it close.
3. Pitch when I can, where I can. I may not have time to build a flourishing freelance career now, but I can lay the groundwork. I started tonight by contacting a struggling local monthly looking for an editor -- I figure if they need an editor, they might need a writer or two, as well. The worst that happens is they ignore me, right? If they say no, I'll just try harder.

I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I need to give writing my all before I throw in the towel and settle for a soul-sucking career in public outreach. I'd like nothing more than to find a part-time job in the next three years that lets me spend the other 20+ hours per week pitching, writing, editing, whatever. How do I get there? Not sure. I'm sure I won't be nearly so motivated by the end of this week, as I'm scheduled to work 50+ hours between tomorrow and Saturday (no, I'm really not exaggerating). Still, if I can't push through to the other side, I'll look back years from now and wonder what might have been. This isn't going to happen overnight, but it has to start sometime. It might as well be now, even if all I can do is take the seed out of its envelope and look for a suitable planting site.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A photographic synopsis of my life

When he's not toppling my laundry hamper in search of warmth, Marlowe is busy being sick. I've managed to adopt the world's only partially blind, hard-of-hearing (we think), broken-toothed, colitis-stricken cat. Well, we think it's colitis. Really, all I know is that it's kind of gross and probably uncomfortable for him -- although he does get to eat rice now. Want to know if your cat's been on the streets? Offer him bland, lukewarm white rice. If he gobbles it up like it's a slab of fresh mouse rump, he's probably done his share of garbage can dining in the past. Marlowe and I have many a vet appointment and food experimentation ahead of us, but at least he gets to snuggle up on a warm, fuzzy blanket at the end of the day.

When not tearing down I-5 on the way to work, Fitty is letting me know that he hates weddings. During the first summer wedding, he backed into a picnic table (I would do no such thing because I am a competent driver who knows the difference between gas and brake). This weekend, he bottomed out on the pothole-strewn excuse for a road that lead to my friend's ceremony. I think this is a sign that I should stop attending weddings, which is fine, as they only cause me to spend the rest of the weekend in a bubble bath wondering why I ever left England. I'll be taking Fitty to the repair shop, although I'm tempted to leave it alone unless my bumper is in danger of tumbling across the road during the morning commute.

When not spasming in the middle of an evening get-together, my back is...well, it's spasming at every opportunity it finds. We won't dwell on that.

Finally, when not working through the night, CB is preparing for a week home! There's really nothing more to say about that, is there? :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Things I am tired of right now

1. LDRs and the accompanying time zone differences that mean we miss scheduled conversations whenever one of us accidentally sleeps late, which means talking only twice each week instead of three times
2. The US health "care" system, which has decided that my thyroid problem is my fault and therefore I deserve no insurance unless my employer makes them cover me
3. My employer's crappy health insurance, which does not cover physical therapy
4. My apparently-defective-since-birth spine, which desperately needs physical therapy so I don't have another Saturday like the last one, in which I spent four hours on a friend of a friend's floor trying not to cry

Sorry. Bad week. Would very much like to skip ahead to my thirties now.