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?

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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.