Clean and Simple Living

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My journey to the beginning of the line has very nearly completed. My therapist told me that moving is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. I believe her.

We had no actual hard set moving date. My fiance and I had been living from our eBay earnings and some money that he had saved, so we could have left our city apartment at any time.  Being that we had paid the rent on our three bedroom residence up until the end of the month, I felt like we needed to get our money’s worth. The beginning of the month we spent plowing away at eBay and our creative pursuits, enjoying our big empty apartment, and relishing the time we had to spend with each other and ourselves.

About two weeks in I grew restless. Where would we get money to live on after we moved? I knew that I would need to find a job once we arrived at my mom’s house, with that looming over me I started to get very anxious. I couldn’t concentrate on eBay anymore. We kept having to take money out of the bank for things like car payments and phone bills, eBay was feeding us, but it wasn’t covering major expenses. I hated feeling like we were creating a suck for our savings, knowing that we would need to use some of it to move as well. I began to shut down. I started avoiding my friends. I paced around the house in between packing sessions. I became very short tempered.

Abruptly, about a week before we had actually planned, I decided that all we were doing was sitting around running up the utilities and that we had to leave. We packed up the car and left for downstate that Thursday. We came back up Friday night and left the following Sunday with another car load of stuff. This time we stayed for the week, looking for employment. I spent the entire day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday filling out applications, crafting and re-crafting my resume, and combing Monster and Craigslist hoping to find something I could live with. For two nights I hardly slept. I hate to not have any money coming in. It had been a long time since I had to job hunt with any seriousness. The first resumes I sent out were unprofessional and had misspellings because I didn’t know how to spell the street names in my own hometown. While I had spent the first 17 years of my life here, it had been 13 years since I actually LIVED here. I got to see the ugly side of my family again, the side they managed to hide away from me during weekend and holiday visits. I was panicking. Had I made a mistake? Would I find a job? What if I have to move again because I can’t stand living here? I stacked the boxes in the two rooms we had on the second floor of the four bedroom house my mom rented and I hesitated to unpack them for fear that I may flee in a post traumatic panic.

On Tuesday I had began the process of applying to a trucking school that would pay for me to get my CDL license so long as I agreed to work for their company for two years. This had always been a dream of mine (one of many, I dream about quite a few things as I like to keep my options open) and I liked the idea of being on the road, making a good paycheck, and being able to take my fiance along to work with me. I also had a lead at an employment agency. This night I started to sleep well. I started to sleep better than I have in ten years. My sister’s little dog had taken to sleeping with us, I think she found it warmer to sleep with two people. One night I woke up with the little dog and my husband to be next to me, feeling very warm under many covers in our cold drafty room. We have big windows that go down to the floor, and the floor is hardwood, it’s an old house. It was raining and quiet, peaceful. It was a wonderful feeling. My mom and sister were sleeping in other parts of the house, I knew they were safe and happy and all I had to do was walk into the other room if I needed to talk to them. I looked around the dark cold room, it was so peaceful, and I felt so warm. I thought to myself that this is what life is supposed to be about.

On Thursday I was hired by the employment agency to work in a factory. I have never worked in a factory before, so I am both nervous and excited. My brother has worked in this factory for years, and he has done well and gotten promoted and now makes a nice comfortable living. I think that if this were my plan that I would have needed to start when I was in my early 20’s instead of my early 30’s… but I feel it is not too late. I hope that I like it. I hope that I take to it an succeed and make good money that will allow me to chase my other dreams. Like Elwood.

We took another trip to bring more things from our old apartment. Friday night we left for the city. My sweetie and I stopped a couple of places for drinks and food on the way. I felt like I stressed myself out during the week and that I deserved some kind of release. I still could not face my friends. I almost cried as we drove up Lake Shore Drive. It was so strange to not call that place home anymore. I had felt the city was part of my blood for so long. It was a strange feeling. Like discovering that the city and I were not really related, we thought we had the same parents, but it turned out that I was adopted. It’s okay, she told me, you will always be my sister anyway. I know that city better than my own home town. I drank heavily that night and finished what I had left the next morning. As I slept it off, my sweetie prodded me, we needed to get moving. I didn’t want to leave. In my heart I knew that I had to, but I had this feeling that I was being kicked out. I could have stayed if I wanted to, but I was tired of fighting. You have to fight to stay in the city. The local government forever invents new ways to take your money. The utility companies are expensive and heartless. It’s impossible to park, tickets are inevitable and the mass transit rates constantly increase. Most of the people you come across are crabby and argumentative. The post office is a nightmare. It’s hard to find an apartment that’s not overpriced or suffering from some kind of vermin related issue.

All that being said, there is still the lake. And the food. And the world class museums. The libraries. The colorful open minded people. The beaches and parks in the summer. The cultural center. And I loved my old job, even though I firmly believe I have grown out of it, I loved it. I’m going to miss it all.

Sobered up and packed, we left on Saturday instead of Sunday because of an impending snow storm. I felt exhausted. It snowed all day and night on Sunday. It was positively beautiful. Everything was white and cool, it was so refreshing. I felt like I had been granted a new beginning. We settled in and set up our office and bedroom. I went to church with my mom, and even though the new style hymns with guitars and big screen projection aren’t exactly my cup of tea, it was nice to receive the message. Mom made dinner. We relaxed.

Monday I went to my scheduled orientation at my new factory job. The guy who was supposed to orient us did not show up. The snow storm shut down many things around town, the schools, some of the roads, the doughnut shop. A managerial type told us to go home, and we left not knowing what to do next. I called the employment agency and they apologized and said they would get back to me. I waited a day and a half for them to call me back. I was a nervous wreck again. There is nothing so painful to me as not knowing how or when I am getting paid. I wonder when this developed in me? Is it inside everyone? They finally called me and I am being oriented today and I start work tomorrow. Hurrah!

I have been reading a few different kinds of things, some more religious and some not. Last night I read something out of a literary journal that was kind of pulp-ish, black, “noir”…. I used to crave that kind of stuff, live it, breathe it. That is still in me, that is the part of me that loves the city. I don’t feel like I need it right now. I am developing a side that is more fundamental, a part of me that I probably left here. Is that noir side of me bad? I don’t think so. I don’t think I want to buy into all the stuff they say in church. I do want to get down to basics though. Health. Sound mind, sound body. Maybe I just need a break from the noir. I need a re-tuning.

Diet, hard work, family, and exercise. Sounds good, no?

The Ultimate Underachievement: Going Back “Home”

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Life in the city is expensive. And it only gets more expensive every year. Things never, ever, become cheaper.

With an upcoming wedding and hoping for a trip to Europe for our honeymoon, my fiance and I need to find a way to save money. The ever increasing rents here in Chicago are not helping us. It’s clear: poor people are not welcome here in the city. We have aldermen trying to shut down independently operated locations of low income housing and telling the Salvation Army not to feed hungry people. It’s like something right out of a Dickens novel.

And everyone only gets older. I get older. And the older I get, the more I can see what should be important to me. Like my friends and family.

I had called my mother to test the waters. I wanted to see how she would feel about my fiance and myself in her house, eating from her fridge, pooping in her toilet, sitting on her couch and watching TV, and of course splitting the bills. She was happy. She liked the idea. I knew she would; before her and my sister moved into the four bedroom house she had brought up the idea of us all living together like one big happy family. I had told her that if I did ever move back “home” I would live in my own place. This was kind of awhile ago, so I just wanted to make sure that we were still welcome.

I should mention that “home” is a smaller town, which a much lower cost of living. Not nearly as cool or cultured as Chicago is, but an easier life for sure.

The next day my sister and mom both called and texted me like 10 times. My sister never calls me. They were so incredibly excited.

Now keep in mind I had only called my mom and talked with her about what would happen if I moved home. I gave no affirmation. However, upon seeing just how excited and happy they both were at the simple idea of my being in their presence on a more regular basis I felt as though the decision had been made for me. There was no way I was going to break their hearts, especially after 10 years of many potential visits turning into me calling and giving them some excuse so I could stay in bed and sleep off a hang over. (Bad, bad daughter!) In these moments, the absence of my grandfather weights heavy on my mind. Being that I was without a father and my mother was still a child herself when I was born, he became essentially my only parent. We spent so many days together, we were like best friends.

When I left home, I don’t think anyone was more heartbroken and worried than my grandfather. He accepted the fact that I needed to be on my own, but he always made sure I knew that he wished I weren’t so far away. When I would actually show up for a visit, he would get really upset when it came time for me to leave, and would always ask me why I was leaving so soon. My mom started to withhold the fact that I was coming home for a visit until I was actually there; he got so excited at word of my coming and would become so incredibly sad when I wouldn’t actually show up. She tells me that it was painful to watch.

In the present time, after his passing, these memories haunt me. I wish I could go back to my 20 something self and say “snap out of it!” It pains me that I withheld myself from them. Things became very ugly at home after I went away. My mom was at the time still subscribed to the theory that being harsh on you loved ones will somehow turn them into better people. She began to drink. There were years of loneliness and torment for everyone who lived in that house. Therapists told me that it was perfectly normal to want to cut ties and stay away, if only for my own mental health.

I could never stay completely away. My visits became very infrequent, I think at one point I had only visited once the entire year. Mom would call me and beg me to come home, to help her. Here in the city, I felt like my life had just began. She was terribly oppressive in my childhood. I wasn’t about to let her take what freedom I had found away from me. She had always needed my help, my whole life it seemed, and I was tired of being there for her to fall back on and use.

All of this was very painful. In reality I needed her as much as she needed me. However I am glad I stayed away. She has grown and become the strong, kind person that was always deep inside her, I think stuffed away in the panic of having three kids, a low wage job, and no baby’s daddy present to help shoulder the load. I don’t think it would have been better if I was there for the process. The relationship needed space.

But I do wish I came to visit more, especially with my grandfather. I don’t want to let any more moments escape from me. I want to be with the people closest to my heart.

So in this way, I don’t feel bad or defeated about moving home to live with my mom. It’s not like we are going to camp out in the living room, we will have two rooms and a bathroom to ourselves. We are paying bills. We will be saving money. Those two concepts have not been well embraced in the first ten years of my adult life. I’m going to run out of time if I don’t hunker down and get responsible soon!

Dream On, Star Pumpkin

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I have not posted here in several days. I have not said “happy birthday” to anyone on Facebook, or exercised, or adhered to any kind of healthy regiment in as many days. Seasonal depression has something to do with it, I’m sure. I know this isn’t anything new, and is something most of us have to suffer through during the more dreary months of winter.

One thing I have been doing, luckily, is sleep. Mostly at the wrong time, I have never been a night owl before, but suddenly I am active from about 4 pm to 4 am. The rest of the time I want to consume beer or hide under the safety of my large collection of blankets that I have on my bed, because it’s the dead of winter in Chicago and that’s the only thing between me and all the drafts that inhabit my shitty apartment.

When I indulge in these wonderful, deep, restorative sleeps, I have the fortune to experience wild vivid dreams. (Places I look up dream meanings: http://www.dreammoods.com and the book The Illustrated Dream Dictionary.)  My latest one involved me just finding wads and wads of cash. It was a really great dream. I like to try and interpret them, this one is straightforward, I’m going to have money luck. Whenever I do this I think of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. That is such an awesome musical.

Not to sound too new agey, but I think it’s important to pay attention to our dreams. I think the unconscious world sends them to us to help guide us and give light to things that are challenging and confusing in our conscious lives.

When I was younger, I used to have a lot of the deja-vu kind of dreams… seriously spooky ones that my still growing mind had a really hard time even acknowledging. I don’t any more.. does that mean I’ve lost something? Can I get those back? Were they even real?

I quit paying attention to my sub-conscious for years, I think I quieted my conscious all together actually. I’m going to start listing to myself. I’m going to start asking myself questions and then listening.

Like, what is important? Who really cares for me? Where should I be right now?

Yes, it is time to grow up.