Thursday, June 27, 2013

Enough with the scoreboard

So this is what it takes to get me back to my post (no pun intended). Night number I’ve Lost Count of being wide awake at 1 a.m. Several of those nights have been turning into fitful wrestlings with sleep, followed by sometimes waking up from bad dreams – which otherwise I rarely have – in an anxious stir. I don’t know how many hours of good, uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in the last few weeks.

No sense reflecting on it, can’t go back and fix it, the way one could update inventory in a company’s Excel spreadsheet.

Agh, that word: company.

Work. What is work? It’s been so long since I’ve done any for pay.

Guys, I am running out of money. Fast. Way faster than I thought.

Can’t do anything about that. I could return a few things, like that disgusting-smelling lotion that I bought and didn’t end up using. Some thank you cards I picked up at the grocery store on Tuesday.

Still ain’t gonna bring the total back to a comfortable notch on the dial.

I’m tired. Not in the sleeping sense, obviously, given the time on the clock and me writing this now.

I’m tired of spending every day wondering what I should do next. Wondering what is a productive action and what is a more productive action and which one should I be doing and when is it OK to take a break and call the day done.

Tired of feeling lazy. Tired of not eating well because I’m buying cheap groceries instead of healthy ones. Tired of battling between spending gas money to get across town for a cheap beer (which will turn into two moderately priced beers, which I will feel bad about) with a friend and the option of staying home in my isolation to avoid spending money on beers and gas.

Mostly: just tired of doing this all by myself.

I don’t know if there is a specific one reason why I haven’t posted on the blog in 20 days, but I can tell you my communication with people in the non-Internet world has been similar.

Not only am I alone a lot, but I’ve really frozen myself up in order to avoid hearing everyone’s opinion about where I should work, what I should do, whether I should drive to Kansas or stay in California.

When everyone knows what’s best for you every day of your life, I’ve got news for you: you decide more and more that if you listen to everyone and take their advice, you are like an octopus with 50 legs each torn in a separate direction. And you know what happens then? You get torn apart.

So this octopus has decided not to be an octopus and has decided to stay in as her new hobby. Well, it was my hobby anyway, because I’m unemployed, but I’m really getting chummy – in a depressed, super annoyed kind of chummy way – with the staying in thing.

And @&#*! am I cranky. And so impatient, and lost. And sad.

I was lying in bed about 20 minutes ago, before I decided to plug the computer back in (it has been my practice as of late to turn it off around midnight, feeling not tired at all, then turning it back on around 1), trying to read. With a sigh and a look to the wall, catching my just-barely bronze shoulder in my line of vision, I thought again of a phrase that came to me recently that I found myself repeating to myself in response initially to what I’m not quite sure now. “God doesn’t keep score the way we do.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an insomniac who’s a total crank pot, who’s still broke and still without a job. Thinking that didn’t make me say, “OK! All better! Let’s read a bit and then get some rest.” But being reminded of what I know – or am trying my darndest to believe I know it to be true – is still something. It’s still a step. That’s all I’ve got right now: God doesn’t keep score the way we do.

I’m now of course going to tell you all the ways in which I am keeping score, against my peers, my siblings, the other writers in the world, the harder workers in the world. But I’m going to do so with the preface and the closing reminder in this essay that

God doesn’t keep score the way we do.

It’s true, I applied to a job that I just barely if ever expected to get and I got it, and it was my ticket to Los Angeles. So I showed myself that I could do two things I wouldn’t have probably predicted in my life: write for a business publication and not totally F up and move myself out to Los Angeles.

When my parents moved to LA several years ago, I came out here to visit and turned the beach into my boyfriend and the sunshine into his cute friend who hangs by his side and slips me compliments when my main man goes to the bathroom.

I really liked it here and would have loved to come here, but here’s the thing you should know about me: I talk myself out of everything. Correction: I don’t even let myself get to the talking part. There’s no discussion. I do what I think I can accomplish so that I don’t freak out in a fit of anxiety and so I have time in life leftover for my reading and thinking and cat petting and general regrouping.

Other than book writing as a goal, I don’t know that I actually let myself dream. I get jealous. Jealous, jealous all the time. I hide people from my Facebook feed all the time. Prime candidates are those who go to Europe (on whose dime, can I please just say out loud?), followed closely by those who are madly in love and those who are just content all the livelong day.

I think it’s in part a knee-jerk reaction to tell myself “No.” I have talked to people recently about this thing I do where, upon seeing or meeting an interesting fellow, I tell myself why he wouldn’t date me. The options are endless and can be creatively fun, but I will give you a few since we’re a thousand words in here and not all of you are a fan of the long essay. Shall we?

Other girls are cuter. He’ll never contact me after I become his Facebook friend (that part is true 98.5% of the time). He’ll want someone who wants to go to concerts all the time. He’ll need someone who is less cynical and calculating who drives herself crazy enough so he won’t put up with me after 6 months, tops.

(And if he does, he’s that amazing boyfriend who I once had who had to be part cyborg or something to be so amazing in keeping up with my mental health. And he thought I was really pretty, which was helpful and I enjoyed that.)

I do this “He won’t like me because…” thing, I tell people, because then when he doesn’t contact me, well I’ve already softened the blow for myself. Him? Oh, I already knew it would never work out, why are you so surprised he didn’t show more interest?

I do this with men and I do this with my life.

Europe? Won’t afford it until I’m 45, if I’m lucky. Dream job? Well that’s to write memoirs so it’ll be at least 15 years before I’m offered a book contract. Move to LA? No way.

Drive back to Kansas because I’m running out of money and don’t feel like scraping together pennies by doing a bunch of odd jobs?

Yeah, I can do that.

I should mention here that I am terrified of going back to the Midwest, where I was legitimately off-and-on depressed for years because it was too small and too cold for me and everyone gets married there so there are no guys left.

But I’m not kidding when I say that I legitimately wanted to get in my car tomorrow (today) and just hit the road. Because I’m so tired of being with me all the time. And being broke is seriously no fun at all.

Tell other people that I want to drive back to Kansas? Here comes the flood of opinions. Hide my octopus arms, or I’m going to get torn apart.

I’m 28. My resume is a mess. There’s good stuff on there. I’ve done a whole bunch of stuff. I can make a latte, tell the world via radio about my first kiss, de-jam a copy machine, interview the guy who inspired the movie “Hitch,” and write write write.

But interviewers want to know why it’s so scattered. Why the jobs are so brief and so many. I could answer all of those questions, explain why I ventured into social work and how I was actually pretty good at it but why I’m so glad that I discovered writing is my calling. The answers to the questions are legitimate and reasoned, but they aren’t inspiring confidence in the interviewer – because they just met me, so they don’t have confidence in anything other than my politeness, my smile, and that piece of paper – and they certainly aren’t inspiring confidence in me.

Because I’m 28 and I’m broke. I’m not going to Europe. I haven’t worked in just one field or just one job for several years. I can’t sleep at 1:45 a.m. and my plans for tomorrow involve a lot of scrambling emails to second degree contacts. Lunch with a friend who insists on buying me a burger – bless her – followed by maybe a run maybe not. Anxiety and Tension likely to show up for the festivities.

God doesn’t keep score the way we do.

I’m not supposed to be married (I don’t exactly want to be right now, either, for the record. I’d just like the company). Yes, I’m not going to Europe because I don’t have the money and that’s not up to me, it’s up to my Keeper. I can’t sleep because apparently I’m not supposed to be sleeping right now. I guess I’m supposed to be writing this.

I’m bummed, homies. Actually right at this moment I’m kind of annoyed that I still don’t feel tired and I’m annoyed that I have to keep job searching tomorrow but I’m wondering if I should start packing instead.

I’ve got a favor to ask, though. Please don’t tell me what I “need” to do. I don’t necessarily need to stay in LA. I don’t need to apply to 8,000 jobs in the next five days just to stay here right now, when I really could come back here. Maybe I’ll land in Kansas and realize that a year in the sun has fed me for a while and I can hang out in the Midwest, easy peasy.

The point is we don’t know. I don’t know, you don’t know.

So what I need is your love and support. I realize all this advice and earnestness is your expression of love and support. But I need you to listen to me when I say my money is running out and that I am tired. I am trying to listen to Someone who doesn’t keep score the way the world does, and I’m just trying not to run myself ragged.

Sometimes I hate that I am 28 in a world with 23 year olds whose resumes and left ring fingers and bank accounts are more “accomplished” and organized than mine, but I’d rather be a 28 year old with some piece of energy and self esteem and spark left in her.

If I’m supposed to stay here – without an interlude in Kansas – then it will happen. But I am not in charge. The world wants to keep score, I want to keep score even though it makes me crazy, but God doesn’t keep score the way we do.

So if I’m supposed to stay here it will happen. But if I am supposed to go home and let Dad make me poached eggs for breakfast and sleep with my cat again (oh my goodness, that lump of fur, I miss him SO much) and go to my high school reunion, then that will happen instead.

Over and out. I’m gonna go back to angsty Internet surfing now since sleeping is probably not gonna happen for a while nor is reading.

God doesn’t keep score the way we do. 


  1. Lovingly listening, but no unsolicited advice. I do see fodder for a book or memoir.

    1. Thanks, Mo. Always love reading your comments, and you and Rick are high on my list of Midwestern friends who I miss! xo