Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tonight we are watching a documentary about humming birds.

So It Goes.

Well, hi.

It has been quite a long time since this blog about writing has had any writing on it. So … yeah, sorry about that. But look, cut me a little slack! I have been very busy. I’ve spent the last two years in rainy Portland, Oregon getting an MFA degree. I have that degree now and have entered into what is generally referred to as the post-grad blues.

Many of you have likely experienced this; it comes after any graduation when the deadlines and classes and requirements all fall away and you are left suddenly alone. Imagine walking through a bustling desert city and enjoying all of the clanging and noise, the buses thrumming by, the homeless people shouting for a buck, and then suddenly all of the buildings and streets are sucked up one by one into the sky. You watch a condo complex shoot up into the clouds. The lamp posts jiggle themselves loose from the sidewalks and blast off. Then the sidewalks themselves lift up like packing tape being peeled off a box. Then before you know it, you are standing there alone in the desert in a gloomy dusk. Where once there was the sizzle and noise of life all around, now there is just you and the weird heavy quiet of an empty world.

That’s kind of what I feel like right now. That’s the post-grad blues.

Now I am in a better position than most. I’ve lived enough weird lives, started and ended enough life chapters, that I knew this was coming. I saved as much money as I could (not a lot, but enough for a while), and set myself some vague but reliable plans.

So it was that a couple weeks ago I left pretty, friendly Portland. I filled my little car with the few things that survived my most recent minimalist purge, I put my cat in her carrier, and I headed south. If you scroll down to the various pictures I’ve posted, you’ll be able to track the trip so far. I’ll go into all that in detail some other time. The gist of it though is that I got to road trip my way down Oregon and California. I got to see old friends and I got to stick my feet again in the blue Pacific Ocean (the best of the oceans, in my humble opinion).

I made my way eventually to bright and sunny Tucson, Arizona, where I am now as I write this. I have family here and I’ve always liked Tucson. A funny thing happened when I got here though. I was looking into teaching (I’m desperate to get back into the classroom) and accidentally stumbled across a job posting at the local community college. It is a quasi-administration job focused on student retention. Basically it is job focused on helping students on the edge stay in college. I want this job. I have experience with these sorts of students (I used to be such a student) and I have a lot of administrative and management experience from my previous life as a grown-up in the private sector. I applied two days ago and the listing closed shortly thereafter. I don’t know how realistic it is to think I’ll get an interview, much less get hired, but the simple act of applying opened me up to that fantasy land of imagining, “Well what if I did get the job? Could I really make a life here? HERE? In Arizona? A RED STATE?”

I have been letting myself play in that mental place. The what-would-I-do_if-I-lived-here space. This has prompted some soul searching on my part about what I really want out of this life moving forward. I’ve been making a list of goals (I love me a good list!) and also a list of what in the hell I would actually do out here in this desert if this became my home. After all, aside from some family, I know NO ONE in the entire state. So I’ve been making a list of the things I would like to do that I’ve just never had time for before. I want to learn to speak Spanish, I want to take a photography class so that I can learn how to use this damn heavy camera I’ve been lugging around for years, I want to take a drawing class because I have a short story I want to illustrate, I’ve always wanted to get back into theatre and Tucson might be a small enough city where I could do that, and I want to take one of those work-out classes where you have to drag chains around for no reason and flip over big tractor tires. Is that called crossfit??? I’m making a note on my list right now: find out what that tire flipping thing is called.

I’ve also priced some apartments online, just for fun. The great thing about these small cities in America is that the cost of living is crazy low. I can find studio apartments here in the $400-$500 range. Can you EVEN BELIEVE that?! The place I really want is downtown though and more like $800, a boy can dream after all.

My mental and emotional project this week seems to have become: making a good faith effort toward building that life. I’m sending out some resumes and writing up some cover letters (did you know BTW that the trend now is to remove the ‘Objective’ portion of your resume because your cover letter is now supposed to be legit and so should cover what used to be stated in the Objective? Gone are the days when your cover letter could be a templated piece of trash. When did that happen? Who is in charge of these things? Who knows? So it goes.

My original plan had been to spend a little time here in this prickly saguaro city and then to move on. To head east and north up through this wide and too-big country to the little state of Connecticut where I have some family and a place to stay. It’s been my intention to spend some time with two of my nieces (who I seldom get to see) and to bundle and sweater my way through a New England winter. That is still my plan, but on the off chance I do get offered that job here, then I may stay here. Who knows? So it goes.

Before I left Portland I had talks with the friends I’d made up there. Talks about possibilities and futures and options. Most of them were younger than me and so were still experiencing options and futures and possibilities the way one does in their twenties or even early thirties. And good for them, I’ve been there and enjoyed having the whole of the world available to me. The view is a little different when you’re later on in your thirties, as I am. 40 is far far closer for me than 20 and I having living memories of my father’s 40th birthday and that haunts me a little. I don’t regret the life I’ve lived; my life has actually been pretty fantastic so far! I do however worry sometimes that it is ultimately inconsequential. I’m not sure what to do with that feeling. I’m not sure what to make of it. My life doesn’t suddenly become more consequential if I have a monthly paycheck and a toaster oven, but somehow, for some reason, we kind of act like it does.

Or maybe I’m just projecting my own insecurities onto society at large. My last shrink in Portland said that I used to do that. For instance, she said that I don’t actually have body dysmorphia, I just have a really poor opinion of what I think other people see me (it turns out you can’t get any of the good drugs for that, BTW). Similarly, you probably couldn’t give a shit less that I’m pushing 40 and don’t even own a toaster oven, but when I think about you thinking about me, I feel like that I look like a failure to you.

But I have an ace up my sleeve with regard to this problem! You see, it has been so long since I have given this blog any attention that y’all have stopped reading it. That means that these are all confessions I am making to no one! Those are the best kinds of confessions. This is the reason that I believe the Catholic Church will ultimately choose to replace priests with those menu kiosks McDonald’s uses now; it is just way less hassle and the kiosk can listen to you, assign you some Hail Marys, and then immediately wipe its memory banks of everything you said. That’s pretty much what this blog post is for me right now.

Obviously I have some time right now in my life, so you can expect me to be posting here more often in the days and weeks and months to come. It is important for me to begin developing a new writing practice, one that is more like the way I used to write before all the school, before all the degrees and deadlines. That’s how this blog started about a million years ago and for now I think I need to return to that.

I’ll keep you posted here on my travels and various adventures. I’m nearly done with another weird ass book project, I’ll tell you more about that soon. I will also let you know when I figure out what that tire-flipping thing is called.