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Treehugger

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So, my last post was all freak-out and then I stepped away from everything for a while and drove up to Big Sur, and stared at the ocean and how it goes on forever, and breathed in the air with its mix of pine and wood and salt and sea.

Not to go all granola, but sometimes the best cure for inner chaos is mother nature. It simplifies things, to see trees that have stood in the same place for decades, to see the expanse of the ocean stretching beyond you, limitless. It reminds you that your problems aren’t anything new – that your worries, your anxiety, your stress – the emotions you’re experiencing are the same emotions that people have felt throughout history. While the scenario and situations may change with the times, emotions are as steady and unchanged as the trees that stretch silently towards the sky. It helps to remember that. Life is really complicated, but it’s also really simple, right? Going somewhere that’s still raw and natural can be reassuring, a reminder of the big picture, of how simple life really is on a large scope.

It’s a temporary fix, though. Now that I’m back at home, I can already feel anxiety edging in again. The pace and pull of everyday life quickly reels you back in and sucks all the fresh, natural air out of you. But that’s okay, too. It’s probably important to find a balance between being productive and staring at trees.

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Posting because I feel like I should be posting something, even if I have nothing to say, because I’m not doing anything else with my time and oh my god can I be productive enough with all this unexpected time I have now?

Officially freaking out.

I was a grad school dropout. And a teenage werewolf.

This is me, trying to see my future.

So, as some of you may know (as in, one of you, ie my husband and only reader of this blog), I started grad school two weeks ago.

I was super excited about grad school. Grad school! I was going to be a graduate student! One of those intellectual, cool, mysterious people of the upper echelon of acedemia! I could start casually dropping words like ‘echelon’ in everyday conversation and get away with it because I was a GRAD STUDENT! [Also, I had to google ‘echelon’ because I had no idea how to spell it.]

Only, once I actually started, I realized something – I didn’t like graduate school. At least, I didn’t like the subject I had chosen to study. At first, I thought – oh, that’s okay! It’s linguistics! Who likes linguistics, anyways? Well, apparently every other student in my program, that’s who. They loved linguistics. I mean, they really loved linguistics. You could see it in their face when they told me about how they were studying Russian syntax, or something-something morphology. Their actions would become more animated, they’d gesture with their hands and emphasize words like “aphasia” and “diphthong” with a certain enthusiasm. It was like me when I talked about books, or reading. Or literature. Or poetry.

This nagging feeling began to form in the back of my head, this sense that I was in the wrong place, that this grad program was not exactly the right fit for me. And the more time I spent in classes, the stronger that feeling got. It was like I had bought a coat that was two sizes too small. It kind of fit, but the longer I wore it the more uncomfortable it became.

I began to wonder, “What am I doing here? How did I get here?” Hell if I know.  “I feel like I should have figured this out way before I got to this point,” I bemoaned to my husband one afternoon on my cell phone, sitting on a curb in the parking lot of my school and clumsily smoking a cigarette (I don’t even smoke cigarettes. I just figured I would do it since that’s what people do when they’re super stressed, right? Whatever). How did I not realize this isn’t what I want to do? How did I get here, buying books and taking classes? I had all summer to realize this wasn’t the right choice.

I felt like an idiot. I was embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I had gotten this far. I mean, I think it would be pretty apparent that “I kind of think maybe I want to do this” is not a good enough reason to be in grad school. But here I was, sitting in the parking lot, hacking up a lung because why the hell am I smoking? and not knowing what to do.

Fortunately, I have a patient husband who’s willing to listen to me rattle off my one thousand and one options, and my one hundred reasons I’m super mad at myself for being an idiot, and then he helps me sort through my options and tells me not to be mad at myself and that I’m not an idiot etc. and makes me feel a whole lot better.

So, after a lot of talking, and thinking, and calming down, I realized something: I got into this program because I figured it was the smart, financial, adult choice to make (I knew I could get a job in teaching once I was done). But I didn’t start grad school because I was excited about linguistics, or excited to teach. I did it because I knew it was a ‘smart’ choice.

But I never even gave myself a chance to pursue the things I love – writing, reading, literature – I never even gave myself a chance to go after the dream of becoming, say, a writer, because what point was there? The chance of succeeding at something like that was extraordinarily slim. And what if I failed? What if I went after the dreams I’d treasured since I was young, and then I failed miserably? What do you have left when you fail at the one thing you’ve always wanted to do? (PS – writing about my fears here make me realize how melodramatic they are, how grandiose your fears can become when they’re stacked up silently in your head. When you spill your thoughts out on paper, a lot of times they seem smaller, insignificant. It just made me feel a lot better. Try it sometime. )

I’d decided to play it safe. Graduate school was safe. Teaching was safe. Moving further and further away from the things I was passionate about, the things that could hurt me the most, that was safe. Tale as old as time, right? But still, it never gets old when it’s happening to you.

After starting grad school, it dawned on me: I didn’t want to run away from my dreams anymore (god, how lame does the word ‘dreams’ sound? It’s like I’m writing a Lifetime movie blog post right now. Oh well. The truest things really are also the most cliche, I guess). I wanted to try and actually work towards the things I loved, instead of running away from them.

It helps, too, having a husband who believes in me and helps me believe in myself. I’m pretty sure he’s going to read this, so I just want to say thanks, hubby, for helping me through this, and being there for me as I try to figure out what the next step is.

I decided to drop my classes. I’m not a graduate student anymore (I’m actually not a teenage werewolf, either, I just haven’t seen that movie in a really long time). And I was surprised to see how people reacted to my choice to drop out. I was afraid to tell my family and friends. I felt a little bit like a failure and I felt embarrassed, getting this far into it only to drop out before I even really began. But you know what? People were completely supportive. In fact, my family even said they were proud of me, friends said they admired my choice. It’s hard sometimes, they said, to quit something when you know it’s not right for you. “Life makes it so easy to settle,” my cousin remarked. “I’m proud of you for going after what you want.” I was so pleasantly surprised at all the support.

So now I’m applying for any sort of publishing or editing internships I can find, trying to find out about freelance writing, trying to figure out what my next move should be. I’m totally freaking out. But I’m also exhilarated. I have no idea what my future holds, but I’m actively working to make it something I want.

Night of the Comet: terrible movie, awesome shoes.

Sometimes, you just want to watch a really terrible movie about a killer comet that turns 90% of people into red dust, 8% of people into zombies, and two valley girls plus some scientists into gun-wielding, grizzled survivors. When this mood strikes you, Night of the Comet is there to please.

However, when you’re in the mood for a movie that makes sense and isn’t 85% terrible (I’m in a percents mood tonight!), then NOTC will leave you feeling disgruntled, dissatisfied, and/or displeased. But to make up for the enormous, gaping plot holes and Really Bad dialogue, there are some totally kickass shoes and big hair. I would definitely wear any one of these outfits, any day. Especially if I need to fight zombies.

Let’s start with the hair, shall we?

Nothing says 80’s like big hair, a tucked in slouchy shirt and a machine gun. Am I right?

And nothing says badass like big hair and a bike.

But what this movie really had going for it was its amazing lineup of shoes. Inexplicably, these two girls managed to find time to change their outfits hourly while also trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. And I don’t know who filmed this movie, but they obviously appreciated shoes as much as I do, because there was a lot of weird, prolonged shoe-level shots. I actually made my brother rewind the movie so that I could double-take the boots the protagonist was wearing here: Read the rest of this entry »

Nueva Escuela, First Day

Well, today was my first day of classes for grad school.

I was totally freaking out about it, like I usually freak about things, but tried to remain positive and calm. I’ve suffered from social anxiety since childhood, but over the summer I was committed to working on my anxiety and learning strategies and methods to help me cope with it.

Anyways, it’s been a very slow process, but I do feel it’s helped some. I didn’t sit in class today, going over everything I had said or should have said (at least, I barely did). I think a lot of it for me is overthinking.

Here’s hoping for a great first semester! I have more first classes tomorrow (plus, first day of work as well). So hopefully I get some sleep tonight, instead of going over a thousand things in my head that I need to get done or can’t stop worrying about.

Summer Sweat

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I’m not used to this sort of heat. It’s a kind of heat that sinks under your skin and makes you feel heavy, settles into you like glue and cements you to your chair. I’m standing in front of the air conditioning unit, willing it to cool off the room faster. In fact, I’d never even had air conditioning before I moved here to Los Angeles.  I’m amazed by it, actually.

I’m sure that sounds stupid, to say I’m amazed by an air conditioning unit. But have you ever experienced some modern day convenience you hadn’t experienced before and just thought, “Damn, I love living in the 21st century”? Sometimes I imagine taking a modern day invention,  like an air conditioning unit or a digital camera, back in time to like, the middle ages and just blowing people’s minds. But then I think I’d probably get burned for being a witch. That’s me looking at the glass half empty.

Buzz

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Sometimes, I drink too much coffee in the morning, and the caffeine works too well, rushing through my veins like a low, steady hum of electricity. When this happens, I often feel like my whole day is climbing steadily before me like a wave, ready to crash over my head at any moment, and I feel absolutely overwhelmed. I think of everything I have to/need to/should do all at once, and can feel my heart beating in my chest and my lungs feel two sizes too small, and I just want to plant myself on my porch and grow roots there and not do anything at all, because it all just seems like too much.

Of course, though, that’s melodramatic. It’s just the coffee, creating a steady buzz inside my head. But when you’re in that place, it’s hard to talk yourself out of it.