CPJ-Saga, Reflection, Uncategorized

CPJ-2: Recaps and Bold Statements

Among other things, I want to share that September and October are mine.

It’s change in my state-of-mind. My bestfriend from college saw me post on social media that “life is good”. He wondered what happened. Nothing ‘happened’ but I did do something this afternoon — not even something I’ve never done.

Maybe it was budgeting?

Yesterday I looked over my financial situation. I’d been reticent. Notice: I didn’t say I procrastinated. That would make me look derelict and fearful when, truthfully, I was tired. My past two years have been like many of yours~ affected by the Coronavirus developments. My past five years have been tumultuous, though.

Here’s a recap:

  • I finished graduate school and decided it would be formative and fun to work as a classroom assistant in a pre-school. I no longer believe preschools should exist.
  • I had a relationship (I’ll skip the details) and lost that relationship in a sub-optimal way (I’m trying to be kind because, you know, it doesn’t accomplish much to be brutally honest).
  • I never did get a full-time job in the field I studied to be in — the point of getting that degree [and not an MFA] was to be employed like any other, boring person with financial security.
  • I tried to stay in the Washington, DC metro area for way too long, since it’s way too expensive.
  • My maternal grandmother died just as I was starting therapy and trying some medications that didn’t work well
  • …found therapy and medications that worked well and got a seasonal job in lawn-service (see? I can have good news too!)
  • I was interviewed for an amazing job at Sonoma State University but didn’t get it.
  • I had to move-in with my father in Michigan. I don’t think there was any problem we wouldn’t have eventually worked through, except his rapidly moving a new girlfriend into the house.
  • I interviewed for a mediocre job at an amazing university in Michigan (at the rival school– don’t judge me, Spartan nation, I was desperately trying to get out of Holland).
  • I joined a rock band (we’ll return to that)
  • I started a physical job where I worked so much overtime that I had to take anti-inflammatory medication constantly. That was great news: I needed to work down the $8K of credit card debt I ran-up while trying to stay in DC for reasons that don’t matter to me anymore…
  • …was in my sister’s wedding and it was the best day of our lives, I believe!
  • COVID19 ~ I don’t even need to explain further, except that I was essential and working OT
  • I started a flirtation via text that only ended in disappointment (whatever; it’s better this way).
  • I left the rock band when we stopped composing new music because… we’ll say ‘creative differences’. They’re nice guys but we didn’t have the same rehearsal goals. Love those guys.
  • I left my job believing I would become a freelance technical writer, thinking ‘a way will open’ and instead discovering I was tired (we’re almost to the present)
  • I worked in an actual COVID19 testing laboratory on second-shift for a while (and it was surreal to watch Delta-variant make land-fall while all across the state of Michigan adults, in professional positions, requested less tests as if ‘Rona was going to skip them like it hadn’t done for thousands of people in India and the United Kingdom…)
  • …and then I chilled.

That was a really healthy recap for me! Maybe I needed that more than I thought!

Of course before that, going back in time:

  • I went through graduate school and racked-up more debt than I want to talk about but BEFORE THAT
  • I was working in a non-profit on capital hill while I recovered from some PTSD but BEFORE THAT
  • I lived in the West Bank while Gaza was being bombed and demonstrations outside of our office building were suppressed with tear-gas but BEFORE THAT
  • …read some of the earlier entries of this blog. Many many things happened… but BEFORE THAT
  • I was unemployed in the same metropolitan area I’m in right now (Grand Rapids) and things weren’t exactly different, then, but I wish… meh… but BEFORE THAT
  • I almost forgot about a real b___ of a girlfriend who dumped me and said Jesus told her to do it. Jesus didn’t tell you anything, Ashley. Not a thing. …but BEFORE THAT
  • I’ll say it: my paternal grandmother died just months after my paternal grandfather died, which was just months after my maternal grandfather died… which was just days after my father served my mother with divorce papers. Oh yes… maybe that’s why I’m a little short-tempered with my dad. Of course, being unkind to him hasn’t ever made a difference…
  • BEFORE THAT… undergraduate years. About 12 years ago, and I can’t believe it!

All of this is important. I sometimes skim over parts wishing they weren’t. Other times, I zoom in on one aspect of my life and analyze it so thoroughly it loses its impact as part of this symphony of experiences (nice turn of phrase for saying that I over-intellectualize as a defense mechanism).

The missing, crucial parts of this timeline are the moments in my history when I thought about doing and MFA and I didn’t. I hung-out on my deck enjoying the evening air for too long and I don’t have time to over-intellectualize as I’d planned. I wanted to go all the way back to when my grandfather discouraged me from pursuing a music degree and I lied (mostly to myself) about considering being a lawyer.

He wasn’t wrong, though: I needed to study communication and writing more than music. I wasn’t ready to be the musician I am. Wow. I needed to express that, too. I didn’t fail to become the musician I am, nor was I late: I just wasn’t ready? Wow. That’s some peace I didn’t expect to find.

Perhaps I just wasn’t ready to be the writer I am, either. I was too precocious in high school (but there’s no time to explain and, honestly, you can all imagine a precocious white boy from a too-small high school that feels ambushed by the inevitability of his mediocrity in college… …I graduated with honors, so that seems a little harsh, but that’s how it felt!! Damnit…) I’m letting all of this soak-in: this entry is stream-of-consciousness. I almost didn’t start writing it; I almost procrastinated.

In August of 2014 the choice was mine again: I could take a few years to focus on my writing or I could remain in perpetual motion, chasing a vague idea of success that I thought I could reconcile with my values (no time to go into detail about those). I wasn’t ready? I didn’t want to go into unspeakable amounts of debt to have a degree that didn’t parlay into work easily. I think I’m finally ready to say that I made the right decision.

Even though I wrote this lamentation about being upside down, financially, after all of it.

Being unemployed with an MFA would have robbed me of the ironic surprise of doing ‘the smart thing’ and getting the same punishment! There’s no good reason (there might be plenty of reasons, none of them seem good to me) that I’m not working in international education. I’m still a globalist. I still have the skills. Now that I have more confidence, maybe I could reap the benefits of being a precocious white boy? That’s not going to happen, though *throwing my head back, laughing*

Whoops: more than 1000 words

Screw it– I’ll finish my thought before I relent.

All of this is just to say that I reviewed my finances and I won’t die if I take all of September and October to focus on my art(s). And my well-being. And whatever I want. I would review the mechanics of it all but… I’m over 1000 words.

There’s a little bit of paying student debt (unexpectedly) to dodge interest, a little bit of balance transfers (a special offer with lower interest! Limited time only!) to ensure I won’t die by December, but mostly there’s still $3K of factory and laboratory money and Autumn is my best season.

I don’t want to be safe in January. I’ll take the risk. I want to be alive NOW. I’ve been decompressing and getting to be a better version of myself. The quality of my life used to determine how I viewed myself but I’m uncoupling: Grand Rapids, the state of Michigan, the United States, this moment in history, all SUCK. I do not suck. I love early and mid-Autumn and I will be damned if I won’t take two months to focus. I might not ever get my two years so I’m taking my months and getting my bearings.


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