North

There are no words to describe the bitterly restless pull inside of me. It has the tug of something animalistic, impatient, and endlessly hopeful.

It smells like the scent of surf, the wind at 10,000 feet, the baking pavement beneath a desert sun, exhaust fumes from a ’67 Mustang painted burnt orange as the dusk, gardenia perfume on a breezy winter afternoon, general aviation grade 100LL dripping from the fuel vent. It sounds like the roar of the climbing F-16 caged between an ocean and a mountain range, the whir of rotor blades descending upon the city, the pumping pistons of a locomotive bound for a sprawling golden landscape.

It feels like freedom.

You do what you can to pacify the pull, to mitigate it, to satiate it, annihilate it, but it will not bow down. This pull is stronger than me. This pull is magnetic. And I am the compass.

 

 

 

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Day One: Experiments in Fortitude

This is the first post on the third day of my fifth big life adventure. Let me tell you about change.

Change is a mirror. When you suddenly don’t recognize your surroundings anymore, you become more alert to them. Becoming more aware of your surroundings in turn makes you more aware of yourself. In the past three days I have come to learn the following about myself:

I can be a huge Debbie Downer to myself, yet I can also manufacture the quiet confidence of an heiress; most of my shoes are too big; I find comfort in Thai food; I like to buy things; hiking is a task usually underestimated; I will fret about buying the perfect pair of maroon gloves just enough to satisfy my guilt so I can buy them; I really love Indian food;  a battery grip does not make me look like a better photographer;  I really like to buy things; it’s okay to be picky about friends, films, food, and fun, but I must remember to see each case with new eyes; letting my hair down only aids my Kate Bush impersonation; I say “that’s funny” more than I actually laugh; I am a very uncomfortable planner; I procrastinate on replying to emails and texts because, like nearing the close of a book, I don’t want the conversation to end; my car is part house-boat, part catering truck; I can always eat more food; my sense of direction is worse than a lobotomized goose; what was “cute” four years ago now passes for quiet desperation; I can never fit in a parking space until I pass it; I was destined to be a bag lady; I find spontaneous napping to be a worthwhile activity; I am still highly ingrained with a consumerist mentality.

That last one is the biggest struggle I have to overcome. I’ve always had one hand on my stacks of cash and one on my hip, yet I also crave the power of being able to spend that money freely. This unhealthy relationship with money has made it difficult to focus on meaningful work that doesn’t necessarily pay, or focusing too much on work I dislike that pays above average.

If money were truly no concern, if it didn’t even exist, I would probably be:

  1. Running a blog or newspaper and writing articles about self-improvement, diet, fitness, productivity, and self-teaching methods interspersed with Courage Wolf memes and cat videos.
  2. Tending to horses, sheep, goats, dogs, ball pythons, and the occasional talking African Grey.
  3. Learning how to do new things by attempting to teach other people on the spot.
  4. Decluttering homes one porcelain figure at a time.
  5. Writing a cookbook about things I don’t know how to cook.
  6. Brushing pipe tobacco off the Next Great American Novel, written exclusively in a cabin in the woods with no running water.
  7. Rehearsing my first (and only) Netflix comedy special.
  8. Rewriting Twilight.
  9. Designing professional websites for high school seniors, family pets, and people with no marketable skills.
  10. Taking Polaroids of my future 1970s blue VW bus in front of every national landmark.

 

I thought I had it somewhat figured out, but the more I see myself in the mirror, I realize I don’t really know my own reflection.

So, focus on meaningful work.

What is meaningful work?

This Old Life

Life is weird. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve discovered it’s just a series of trial and error, of making bad decisions over and over and over again until you learn what exactly what constitutes a good decision, and that the lines aren’t always clear.

I bought another pack of cigarettes. It had been a while, and boy did they get expensive. I guess I’m fortunate that I’ve never needed to quit, because I’ve never been addicted. But tonight I was feeling an especial need for that nostalgic feeling of being carefree and badass, a feeling that wasn’t so foreign to me all that long ago. The thought of it reminded me of everything I was doing only last year, before I lost it all; producing and directing my first ever short film, learning how to edit and color grade, doing fashion and headshot shoots, taking my yoga teacher certification training, training for USMC bootcamp, making weekly coding sessions with my ladies, seeing foreign films at indie theaters, going on a million Tinder dates till I finally met the Boy, writing songs and learning riffs on my new Strat, sometimes working three jobs in one day, doing a shit-ton of reading about filmmaking, writing, and business; and now, here I am again on my parents’ couch having spent the last few months failing to evade a pervasive sense of hopelessness I feared I might never shake.

Enter the cigarette.

So, suddenly, as I was driving home, it all came rushing back, the memories, all of it. I remembered how it felt to have things I cared about, and to be happy. Even though I was mostly alone, or bouncing from one friend group to another, I felt like I might actually be doing something with my life for the first time ever. And now that I remember it, I miss it. I miss it like hell. Why was I wanting so badly to run away from everything when my work here wasn’t done? I guess the staggering disappointment of one monumental failure on top of another was just too much for me. To add insult to injury, depression came in to slow me down, and anxiety kicked my legs out from under me. I was done for.

But it’s no longer just me anymore.

My selfishness has allowed me to fall off course and lose myself. I can’t allow that to happen again. This time, I have others to think about. My parents, my friends, the Boy; they need to see me finish what I started.

So, I’m definitely going back to school. Yep. In two weeks. It might be miserable, I might hate every second of it, but I could fulfill my transfer requirements in 3 semesters and decide where to go and what to do after that happens. I’m still terrified I won’t make the grade on my assessments and have to take a remedial class (math was never my best friend), and I am nothing if not impatient. Still, I’d rather not kill myself with stress or with math. And so it begins. TWO WEEKS.

To Leave or Not to Leave

This is the constant question I ask myself. Should I stay here? Is this where I am supposed to be? Is it time to move on to bigger, better things? I feel like such a traitor and a turncoat for having these thoughts, but it seems to be in my nature to wander. It’s half the reason I’m so attracted to airplanes. To fly is to get away, to go somewhere else, to escape. It’s also to explore, to adventure someplace new and learn new things about the world, to make new friends and meet people different than yourself.

I have tried, largely without success, to affirm my loyalty to certain places by forcing myself to remain there beyond what was comfortable. It was easy when I worked at Barnes & Noble; two years passed without ever feeling like two years. But eventually, that grew old too. Everything has an expiration date.

Now that I have turned in my notice at the yoga studio, the job which I will have held for eleven months, I feel no sadness. Is that the marker? If I left my other two jobs now, the sadness would outweigh the newfound freedom. That is the only way I know how to stay. But even then, am I missing the call to something greater? When I had planned to move to the Bay area to pursue a job in tech two years ago, even if it meant living in my car for a few months, was I wrong for staying? I ask myself the same thing today, while I am still here, tied to a job and a relationship, whether what I would sacrifice is not worth what I could gain. This question may always plague me.

Enough for today. Time to study math and code. Now enjoy some airplane pictures.

 

Disappearing… or escaping?

Certain days, especially during the miserable Southern California summer heat, I want desperately to escape somewhere smaller and somewhere colder. With the impending changes in my life (A&P classes, resuming undergrad) looming over me like a great vulture about to peck my eyes out, not to mention my sanity, it’s hard not to wonder whether I’m really doing the right thing. I know I can be an optimist to my own detriment… I’ve worked three jobs before, it’s no big deal. I’ve taken twelve credits while working during the holidays, it isn’t impossible. But this time, I’m not sure if it is possible. With A&P classes every morning till 2 followed by night classes, work in between and all weekend, and juggling flight lessons somewhere in there, I am not sure if I can survive that for four months. It is doable, but only with the proper setup. I have to face the reality of my circumstances; I live on a couch in my family’s messy crowded house because rent in this city is too expensive to do anything other than work to pay your rent, and maybe go out once a month. Realistically, I won’t be able to find the time, let alone the privacy, to study and do my homework. And when you’re taking nothing but math and physics, that’s kind of important.

So I daydream. What about this place? Is it not fanciful and lovely?

 

The towns in Humboldt county are just darling. And there are nearby colleges, both community and state, and just a little further north is an Air National Guard fighter unit if I decide to go that route… I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t seriously tempted. Escape the heat, the traffic, the crowds, the stress, the lack of privacy and finally find a place to be calm and focused. But that’s just the fantasy talking. I’m sure that surfing on weekends, flying out of one of the various small airports nearby, and being able to ride my bicycle into town wouldn’t equate to the magical paradise I believe it to be. I’d be making minimum wage as a barista or cashier assuming I find a job; if not, my savings would be depleted in a few months. But then again, it isn’t like I’d be moving to New York to dance on Broadway, a city where you can pay someone a grand for the privilege of sleeping on their doormat. I’d be moving to a simple town in pursuit of a simple life. More than likely, that’s what I’d find.

All I can do now is crunch the numbers and lay the timelines, and decide whether not taking a leap of faith is making the stupid choice.