Pros and Cons

Life has been hectic since I came home. My stuff still feels like it’s everywhere (although that’s nothing new; I’ve been living in two, sometimes three, different places since I initially moved away for graduate school). I’ve got a job (yay!), so I’ve been busy wracking up those hours as I re-learn the line cook life. And then there’s random odds and ends to tuck in: paperwork for my upcoming move/job/apartment, thank you notes from graduation, brainstorming for all the ways to live/have fun on the cheap now that I no longer have loans coming in. I feel quite scatter-brained, but things are slowly falling into step.

The ubiquitous pro/con list in my title refers to, not only the tumultuous feels I’ve been having, but to many of my loved ones. As I touch base with all my baes, I’m finding posi- and neg- vibes all over the place. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trouble in paradise brewing out there (when does hurricane season start again?). Several of my peeps are battling break ups, breakdowns in communication, or cracks in their pre-conceived plans for their futures. And that sucks. I’m lending all ears as needed, since they were all so kind to put up with my never-ending rants over these many moons. I wish I had solutions for them, but if there’s one thing I’ve realized as I listen, it’s that I’m still a long ways off from complete recovery.

One of my girlfriends shared an observation she’d had regarding post-breakup mentality on Sunday. “You know, you think you’re fine. You say to yourself, ‘Oh man, am I glad that’s over.’ But then? Six months later you look back and you have to laugh, because holy shit you were still nuts!” As much as I hate to admit it, I may still be in that hazy, liminal phase. I’m over a big hump, but the evidence continues to mount against me and my delusional belief that I’m a-okay. The string of dumb stuff I put myself through romantically is still affecting me.

Exhibit A: The last guy I dated, during our initial exclusivity talk, made a (poorly timed) joke about how I must “hold grudges” against my exes, since I no longer talk to any of them. I got a little defensive, like I do. Even thinking back on it now, though, I don’t agree with that assessment. I am sensitive, and I do take a long time to get over things. But, I also don’t find it necessary to expend emotional energy on people if they don’t deserve it, or if the amount expended will never match the amount received. And that is the situation with my exes. A couple of them put me through the ringer, and while I can now admit that I participated in some, if not much, of that manipulation, that still does not mean that I am obligated to give them any(more) of my emotional energy. I have a finite amount of that stuff. It’s really valuable, so I’d rather save it for other people, people with whom I don’t have such a tumultuous history. That doesn’t mean I would never, ever be friends with an ex; it’s just not something that has successfully manifested to date.

Exhibit B: I’ve still got quite the bruised ego. I joke with my friends that these days I’m like Stella, stuck in a pre-groove mode of existence. Where’s Taye Diggs when you need him??! But seriously, any attempt I’ve made to date has been meager, perhaps even slightly pathetic. I’m so painfully awkward around men I would have bravely chatted up before that it feels like I’ve regressed to a 20-year-old version of myself. And that is so irritating, not least because I’m looking pretty good these days, dammit! I’ve lost weight, I’m not drinking as much, I feel a little more down-to-earth and chill. My mom even complimented me, a woman who has not acknowledged my appearance in a positive light in a very long time! (Usually, I get the occasional disappointed glance at my increasing number of tattoos, or a look up-and-down at my outfit before… silence). I’m bummed that the past is still weighing down on my confidence. Plus, if we’re being honest here, I’m more sexually frustrated than I have been in a loooonnggg time. Argh. And yet, I can’t figure out the best way to approach this problem: with a laissez-faire, or cross-fit-esque attitude? Do I wash my hands of things I can’t control? Or do I, in actuality, have more control over this than I’m letting myself realize, and all I need to do is grab the bull by the proverbial horns?

I have yet to solve that equation, so instead I’m trying to push it out of my head, and instead focus on the opportunities within my reach. So back to the work-grind I go (I’m busting a double tonight). And back to those people who I would shower with my feels any and every day of the week…. I am your quintessential Roman, my dears. *kisses*

Current Jam: “In the meantime” Red City Radio

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Holy hell what a crazy couple of weeks. But, I have PLURAL DEGREES Y’ALL. As of this moment, I’m essentially all packed up, just playing the waiting game until my friends arrive with the moving truck. Then it’s back home for a short six weeks until I start my new jorb.

With baited breath...
With baited breath…

Graduation was simultaneously as exhilarating and unnerving as I expected it to be. During the ceremony we were rushed on and off stage like a herd of cattle (that’s what you get when you go to a state school, I guess), so any moment of reflection on the accomplishment achieved had to wait until I sat back down again, stars in my eyes from all the forced photo ops. I think back, and of course it seems like it went by really fast… but then of course two years feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve come a long way, for better or worse, and I’m not the same person I was when I went in. I see us all going our separate ways… and I’m sad because I’m going to miss them all so much. These women (and token dude, haha) are smart as hell, and capable, and just plain wonderful. I will be forever grateful for their support and solidarity during something that… is really hard. Graduate school is fucking hard. It demands so much of you. You pour every ounce of your energy into it, which leaves (you do the math, because that was never my subject) barely anything left for the others parts of your life. It is the opposite of work/life balance, and so unfortunately the latter suffers. Sometimes those other parts, that you so desperately want to nurture, have to fall by the wayside. It’s rough, and it’s really hard to explain to someone else unless they’re going through it too. So…. *sigh* I’m going to miss them…

I’ve also resigned myself to the exodus… because duh. This town has nothing to offer us anymore. As much as I tried to keep an open mind about this place, about the people and the culture, I’m disappointed. Unlike my colleagues (who for the most part aren’t from this area) and a few notable exceptions, people from this part of the world have disappointed me. Any connections I fostered were either hard to break or hard to make, and I often felt like a kid invited to play double-dutch, only to be left unceremoniously alone, the ropes held slackly in my hands.

But, in the end, I suppose all those butthurt feelings I harbor don’t matter. In general, life is moving along at a progressive pace: after busting my hump to submit applications in the midst of paper writing hell, I got an interview and an offer to visit a potential employer for a curatorial fellowship at a small, but prestigious, liberal arts college. So this past week I packed up Greta, my ever-reliable lil’ sedan, and off I drove…

Lookie there! Mountains! This was the only decent photo I could manage, as I am girl from the flatlands.
Lookie there! Mountains! This was the only decent photo I could manage. I’m a Florida girl who is not used to driving in the hills.

For some reason, the universe has gifted me with the most amazing friends and family, so I had places to stay en route. I really liked the director of the museum; he seemed to appreciate my energy, and it seems like we would work well together. Plus, the job promises to incorporate everything I’ve been wanting to try my hand at since I decided that I wanted to be a curator: exhibition design, from start to finish. Every lil’ detail.

So, in a few weeks I will peace out of FLA for the Poconos of PA. From beaches to mountains for 1-2 years… Jebus… I can already feel the weight of the impending culture shock. Still, I’m forcing myself to stay positive. It’s a great opportunity, and a definitive step to getting the career that I want. It’s a good thing.

Any moment when the anxiety of change creeps in (like now, incidentally), I find myself glumly wondering why I can’t just be happy at home. Why can’t I be someone who finds contentment in the familiar, because life would be so much simpler, so much easier. If I keep putting myself through these gut busting situations, I’m gonna end up giving myself an ulcer. But, then, I remember how miserable I was, how bored I was, in my last couple of years at home. I grew up a painfully shy and awkward kid, afraid of doing anything on my own, petrified of putting myself out there. But I don’t want to live that way. I always admired fiercely independent people, unabashedly doing, well, whatever the hell they wanted. So…although I hate the interim, I think that putting myself through these things is tantamount to the process of building a life you can look back on and be proud of… because I want to be proud of myself.

Current Jam: “Mess is Mine” Vance Joy