Well, hello there. I’ve been going through major blog withdrawal in the past few weeks as my posting here has been sporadic, at best. And believe me, it has not been for lack of inspiration or motivation. It’s been for lack of time. My last two weeks at work were a true test of my stamina — I clocked — wait for it — 175 hours in the span of two weeks. One hundred and seventy fucking five hours. I would wake up in the morning at 6:30, shower, head in to work, grab a granola bar from my desk drawer and work 15 hours through, often not stopping for a 10-minute lunch until 3 or 4 pm, and often skipping dinner entirely, until leaving at 10 or 11 and falling right into bed. And I was supposed to have my burlesque debut on the 11th, but there was no way that was going to happen, not when that was the day before my last day, and my last day was a major deadline on my major project. A project that, no, no one else could take over because my manager is inept and didn’t find someone to replace me until the afternoon of my very last day.
I was about to continue my rant, but let’s just stop. It’s riling me up. Instead I’ll bask in the fuzzy delight of now being on extended vacation. I left work around 10pm on my last day — I was the last one leaving the office, and it was weird — and took about 6 hours off on Thursday: slept in, went to a coffee shop, read some blogs, intended to post but then realized OH SHIT, I’m MOVING tomorrow. So I spent the afternoon and evening on Thursday starting to organize my shit. And then I spent all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday moving.
It’s a bit surreal — my own place, no roommate, just me and, of course, my girlfriend. Our own space, left to our own devices. On Sunday we borrowed a friend’s car and went to Ikea to fill in some gaps (you know, matching dishware, a floor lamp, kitchen table chairs, that sort of thing), and now we’re … almost set up. We’ve both got some unpacking to do, I’ve got some major organizing to do (my favorite part!) and then there will be, of course, the finishing touches (I want a pin-up gallery in the hall, she wants to buy some artwork from artist friends, etc.) but oh my gosh it is so amazing, this is our space, and it’s space that I can be at home in.
Home. I have a complicated relationship with home, with the very concept of “home.” I’m not sure I even know what it means to me. Home isn’t the place I grew up. My parents were both transplants to the town I was raised in, and for them, home was always someplace else — the Bay Area for my mother, and Boston for my father, though I suspect my father’s ideas about home are just as complicated as mine are. So although I spent most of my childhood in a town in upstate New York, it always felt transient to me. Then I was raped in my neighborhood when I was fifteen, and connecting my childhood residence to any concept of home became even more complicated. A year later, not having finished high school, I left upstate New York for Germany. I spent two years there (one year then, one year in college) and though I grew very attached to it in some ways, and in fact sometimes felt more “at home” there than I did in the town where my parents lived, I was still a foreigner. I’m not German. It’s not my home.
Then came college, and while I was there I often said that it truly felt like home. I had friends there who were (and are) like family to me; I flourished there; I learned how to be happy there. I came out there. It was there that I felt at home in myself for the first time since leaving childhood behind, I think. Going back every fall really felt like a home-coming, and when I returned to Germany for my junior year, I experienced homesickness for the first time.
But, well, college doesn’t go on forever, and can home really be a thing that was always intended to be temporary? And I don’t just mean my residency there was temporary. I mean that experiencing it as home was temporary, and I knew that right from the start. When I go back now, I feel nostalgic, and warm, and fond of this place that held so much meaning for me.** But I don’t feel at home there anymore, for obvious reasons. I don’t belong there anymore. My time there is irrevocably finished. So what then?
So I moved to San Francisco. And while I’ve known for a while — since before I even moved here, really, which I articulate a bit in my answer to a formspring question — that I see the city itself as a blanket notion of “home,” in that I feel I belong in the city itself, I haven’t yet found a particular space that’s my home, a space that I can just relax and open up and let down and exhale completely in. I’m an accommodator, I tend to acquiesce to my roommates’ preferences and requests and demands and habits, rather than sticking up for my own. And so I have prevented myself from having a home here.
Until now? With my lady I know I don’t have to accommodate her. I mean, I do, but she accommodates me, too. We compromise and negotiate and figure stuff out and I don’t have to have my hair pulled back and my shirt buttoned all the way up in order to do that. And I am so relieved. Already I feel like I can breathe better. Even though there’s so much clutter in our hallway from stuff that’s been partially unpacked that it’s suffocating, I can breathe better here than anywhere else. And it’s different from college, because not only do I have my own space, but I organize my own life. All at once. I get to be the way I want to be, live the way I want to live. It’s amazing.
So, what is home, anyway?
**Speaking of going back there, coincidentally, I am doing that this week! I have a college reunion, so I’m going back to visit my campus, and most of my friends will be there too. So forgive, again, the light posting until Sunday, when I leave Massachusetts for New York to visit with my folks.
Thank you all for your comments, both on this post wishing me and mi’lady happiness together after one year, and on this one, offering suggestions and advice and sympathy on my work and life situation. All of those comments were really helpful, and helped me see my situation a bit more clearly. Having folks listen and getting their input, especially folks who are in or who have been in similar situations (isn’t that everyone, though?), is so, so meaningful.
I think you’re all right. You’re right that I need to figure out what’s right for me, and do it. You’re right that I need to carefully weigh my options and have a plan. You’re right that I should decide what’s most important to me right now. You’re right that I should know that whatever decision I make isn’t wrong or right, it’s just a decision, and it’s not ultimately determinative.
So here’s the thinking I’ve been doing since reading all your comments.
- I’m not very good with money. This is for many reasons: (1) San Francisco is friggin expensive. (2) Mi’lady and I don’t live together, but we do spend many evenings together, and we haven’t yet mastered the skills involved in planning ahead meal-wise in the most cost-efficient way (i.e., we’ve found it’s oftentimes more cost-efficient to get cheap take-out than it is to buy ingredients necessary for cooking, but with a lot more planning and kitchen resourcefulness, this shouldn’t be the case). I spend WAY too much money on food. (3) Cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain. While, yes, San Francisco has public transportation, it (a) isn’t terribly reliable if I need to be somewhere by a specific time and can’t afford to miss 3 hours of work to be there (e.g. for a doctor’s appointment); and (b) doesn’t extend in a cohesive fashion beyond SF, so that whenever I visit my grandparents in Palo Alto I spend $12 round-trip on Caltrain PLUS cab fare to/from the Caltrain station (because, hullo this is really dumb planning, the Caltrain station in SF is off in bumfuck and it takes me a good hour by public transit to get there when it’s only a 6 minute cab ride), OR I just take Zipcar, which isn’t cheap either. So I end up spending $70/month on my Muni pass and at least $150/month on cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain, but probably more like $200. You tell me: is this reasonable?
Okay, I’ve gone on waaaaay too long about money. Next item.
- In addition to being bad with money, I’ve got excellent benefits at my job, and since I’m on prescription meds, and am currently undergoing an expensive but insured orthodontic treatment (straightening my bottom teeth, which were not-very-noticeably crooked but which were exposing my gums to decay) I’m loathe to give this up.
- I’ve got three applications pending for graduate school. This means that within a few months, hopefully, I’ll know whether and where I’m going to graduate school. This is a pretty major consideration, since it will give me a much clearer idea of what the next few years of my life will look like, and will give me a natural out of my current job.
- There’s this nagging question, though: if I don’t do it now, then when? I would love–LOVE–to have time to work on my projects I’ve been wanting to work on. One of them is getting back to playing piano much more consistently, and finding some other (queer?) folks to play chamber music with. Maybe do something fun/eclectic with it, who knows. Another is writing about this thing I’ve had in the back of my mind for years, and it’s sort of gasping for air now while I’m holding its head underwater. But what time do I have now to work on this? I don’t. What time will I have while in grad school? I won’t.
So, all these considerations in mind, here’s what I’m thinking.
Before I do anything, I need to know whether I’m capable of living on a shoestring budget. This means I need to design one, and implement it. Preemptively. While I’m still employed, all the extra money can go straight into savings. And this will take some tinkering, I’m sure. I’ll start cutting back bit by bit. Can’t cut back on rent, but I can certainly do my darndest to cut back on food and cab rides. I’ll figure out what the least I can live on is, and then I’ll plan around that.
And then I’ll make sure I know what the health and wellness resources are in San Francisco, should I be uninsured. Would I still be able to get my prescription at an affordable price? Are there therapy clinics for the uninsured/unemployed? Could I learn how to find alternative methods of therapy, like reading or doing meditation or something like that? Or at least make sure I have enough cost-free self-care and wellness initiatives to counterbalance that need?
And then I’ll think about alternative (part-time?) sources of income. Can’t rely on writing or activism, at least not yet, but there’s the substitute teaching option, and I could nanny (LOVE small children) but would need references (start off small by babysitting?), or I could bartend (anyone know of good/cheap bartending classes around SF?), or I could temp, or I could … ?
And then I’ll wait and see what happens with graduate school. I wouldn’t leave my job before early in the spring anyway, mostly because I’d need to give my employers a great deal of advance notice (out of courtesy, not legal necessity), and hopefully by then I’ll have heard back from the graduate programs. And if I know, okay, this is 5 months of living unemployed, then that seems very manageable. If I don’t get into graduate school, then I’ll have to start figuring out how I can leave my job and have a backup financial plan in place, so that I don’t find myself just indefinitely unemployed and getting increasingly depressed because of it.
But, however it turns out with regard to graduate school, I’m going to start planning now for at least a 4-month “sabbatical” either this summer (in the case of grad school) or next fall/winter (in the case of no grad school). Which means first and foremost: budgeting. Maybe I’ll start after Christmas? Turns out Christmas with divorced/-ing parents is mightily expensive. My sister and I realized that if we want them to get any gifts at all, we’ve got to be responsible for them. Sigh.
Oh! And I have the MOST amazing Christmas present to mi’lady, hence the title of this post (she now has the link to this website and reads it occasionally): a vocal effects pedal! She’s been talking about wanting one for months, in that way you talk about things you lust after but know you can’t have. They’re, gulp, pricey, but I can afford it while still living within my income and she’ll be SO happy. I’m a bit apprehensive, just because I’m not sure if it’s a model she’ll be excited about (I know nothing about such things, and only picked the model based on doing some internet research), but we’ll see… I’m giddy with excitement about giving it to her!!
It’s freezing today, I can see my breath in the air.
I’ve been having a hard time writing this week. I think it’s because the magic that was our little retreat on the Russian River has faded into the dreary stress of work and business as usual.
What do you do when you don’t like your job? When the thing you spend the majority of your waking life doing (especially when you’re me and work a lot of overtime) is something you don’t care about? How do you combat that?
I try to combat that by doing things in my non-working time that I care about: writing here, reading, cooking, spending time with mi’lady (obvi), applying for grad school (almost done!). But it’s hard when I’m sitting here at work, and it’s the end of a week that felt like the longest week ever, and I know I just have to come back on Monday.
What do you do?
I’ve been thinking about leaving my job. I have some money saved, enough to live on, if I really scrimped, for maybe 6 months. I’ve thought about getting a part-time job (I could substitute teach, for example, which would allow me to dictate which days I work, and I’ve already got California certification–but subbing would be quite draining work, I think) and using the rest of my time to write and intern/volunteer with (for example) the rape crisis center I work for, or Femina Potens Gallery.
But, that’s scary. It’s scary to think about living on a shoestring budget, because I know that while my job makes me unhappy, so would constantly worrying and stressing about money. And it’s also scary because I would have to be very self-motivated, I’d have to make my own reasons for getting up in the morning, and to be honest, after a lifetime of having my goals set for me by other people and not really thinking about them beyond the very rudimentary “time to get up for class/work,” I’m not sure what a transition into “time to get up for writing” would be like. I’m not the most disciplined person, and I’m worried that (as has happened with me before on vacations) I’ll dilly-dally, or get distracted watching movies or reading novels or doing stupid internet stuff, and then I’ll get discouraged, and then I’ll wallow. And sink into depression.
I’m also scared that I’m hyping it up, that I have the Grass Is Greener Syndrome, in which, sitting here at work bored out of my mind and annoyed with my coworkers, I think, “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I could go home? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could work from home and play with the cat during the day, listen to my music, make my sandwich at lunchtime?” I’m romanticizing it, this idea of not having to go to work. But what if, when I’m there, I still have the Grass Is Greener Syndrome? What if then it’s not wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-I-could-go-home, but wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-I-could-get-out? What if I feel left out of the workforce, feel isolated and lonely and irrelevant? And sink into depression.
(Does it all end in depression?)
But, at the same time, I’m scared that if I don’t leave my job, that I’ll be setting a pattern for myself of not taking charge of myself. I don’t want to be the person who stays in a safe but unenjoyable job just so I can have security. I’m more interesting than that. I’d like to think I’m more bold than that, too.
How on earth do people deal with this?
That is today’s answer to the question, “Hi, Alphafemme, how are you today?”
You’re probably like, “what is THAT supposed to mean?” To which I say to you: remember those wind-up toys from when you were a little kid? The ones with the little crank-axels, that you twist and then when you let ‘em go, the little duck/car/dinosaur/kid-on-a-bike starts whirring around whatever surface you let ‘em go on until they peter out? Today I feel like someone’s wound me up with sexual energy and now they’re mocking me by holding the crank in place. And they’re not going to let go UNTIL TOMORROW NIGHT. Tomorrow night being, you see, the next available chance for me and mi’lady to fuck.
This is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. It started winding up, really, last weekend, when we kept not having time to really have satisfying sex. And then it kept winding when my friend came from Portland, which is keeping me and mi’lady apart until tomorrow night when he leaves. And it wound up to a point of discomfort last night, when mi’lady’s band played an awesome show at Sub-Mission, where they had this incredibly stage chemistry, really amazing energy, and were just unbelievably hot. And when I was getting ready to leave afterwards with my friend to go home to get some sleep (work, yawn), mi’lady pulled me aside, whispered in my ear “I want you to come home and fuck me so bad” and kissed me intensely… and it was all I could do to not jump her on the spot. I didn’t, I restrained myself, but it took some major centering and deep breathing to do it.
And then this morning, at work, I get this email:
ughhh i’m so horny. i just want to roll around on my bed – or yours – with you. mmm i just want to feel you on top of me, sliding into me, fucking me, then making me come really hard. then i want to lick you and make you moan and fuck you harddd …
Here’s what I have to say to that:
Baby, I can’t wait to grab the back of your neck and kiss you hard, and feel your slick wet pussy and slip into you, open you up with my fingers and tease your clit and then fuck you hard with my stiff cock… and then before I make you come I’m going to make you watch me make myself come. And you’re not allowed to do anything except watch, and while you’re watching, I’m gonna touch your clit and bring you close, but you’re not allowed to come. And then after I make myself come, you’re gonna fuck me, really hard, because I want to feel you filling me up and making my body buckle, like it’s not mine anymore because you have control over it. And then you’re going to be so wet and so turned on and so desperate to come that I’m gonna slip my cock right into you, all the way, I love the way it fills you up, and I’m going to fuck you until you can’t take it anymore, until you’re begging me to please make you come, and finally I will, because I can’t say no to you and mostly because after all, making you come is what makes your pleasure mine. Baby that is what I’m going to do to when I see you.
…which isn’t going to be until tomorrow night. FUCK ME. (Yes, we send each other these kinds of e-mails at work. Yes, it’s really really naughty. Yes, that’s part of what turns me on…)
Oh my god, SO BUSY!
1) I’m positively SLAMMED at work this week, and since work is where I usually blog, it’s going to be a slow blogging week.
2) One of my very best friends is coming to visit TODAY from Portland on his way to Taiwan, and he’s staying until SATURDAY! So awesome. Also a hindrance to my blogging. But a good hindrance.
3) I had an amazing time last night in Palo Alto meeting Ellen for the first time in person (Hi Ellen!) and participating in her play reading. So much fun!!! Can we do it again?
4) Mi’lady and I have not been having enough sex lately. We’re just so busy. It’s not cool. We had a quickie on Saturday afternoon, and then a sort of last-minute rushed fuck on Sunday morning before getting up and going about our busy days. We’d WANTED to have all evening Saturday to just take our time and do some playing around with power/control dominance/submission stuff… but then we had to go to her friend’s good-bye party and we were there all night. And now we won’t have another chance until Saturday at the earliest… And it’s not just sex, it’s time. I want to spend time with her, good time, time where we pay attention to each other. I haven’t really been feeling like we’ve had that enough lately. Maybe I’m crazy. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m in the last few days before my period and my hormones are getting wacky and my low Prozac dosage isn’t enough. Whatever it is, something’s off.
I wish I could just be fine.
I’m applying for graduate school!
I finally decided to just. do. it. My problem has been that I couldn’t decide what I wanted to get a degree in. So many options! So much to consider! How on earth do I know what will make me happy! How the fuck do people make up their minds about something as huge as their entire career! OMG!!!!! Law? Philosophy Ph.D.? Gender studies? Education? Business? Student affairs in higher ed? Public administration?!?!*(#&%*#= And I was like, I need professional experience! I need more jobs! I need twenty years to even decide what I want my next twenty years to BE!
And then I realized it doesn’t really matter. Just as I’m sure there are a dozen things I could’ve studied in college that would’ve made me happy and that I would’ve been deeply interested in enough to write a 100-page honors thesis, and it just so happened that philosophy (mostly coincidentally) was the one I chose, JUST LIKE THAT, I’m sure that there are a dozen different professional/graduate degrees I could get that would each give me several dozen more options for career paths. And even then, they say people these days change careers an average of, what, seven times? Yeah. So no matter what I do, I’m not stuck.
Where I do feel a bit stuck right now is my current job, and I just sort of realized that the best way out of that is to take a step towards my actual future career(s). So I’ve decided to apply to several different graduate programs, with the intention of starting in the fall of 2010. The degree of choice is Public Policy, where Cal has an excellent program that I’m not sure I’ll be able to get into. Not sure where else I’ll apply, because honestly I really want to stay in the Bay Area, and Stanford doesn’t have anything like it. Beyond that, USF, SF State, San Jose State, and Cal State Hayward all have MPA programs, which aren’t quite the same. USC in Los Angeles has an excellent MPP program as well, but… that’s in Los Angeles.
What to do! Well, I think I’m going to apply to just Berkeley and USC, and then SF State as a kind of last resort. Applications will be due at the end of the year, so suddenly I’m all OMG, the GRE! Financial aid! Saving money! Lots to do.
Mi’lady was nonplussed when I told her about my decision. She’s worried I’ll leave the area, and both of us have been in unsuccessful long-distance relationships and aren’t really eager to be in another one. I think her worry is a little hasty, considering there’s over a year until I’d be starting school, and the two of us haven’t even been together for a full year yet. We’ve been together 8 months! So lots can change in the meantime. Not like I’m planning on breaking up, or anything, obviously, but it could be that in a year, she’ll be wanting to leave SF anyway. Or that in a year we’ll feel totally fine about doing distance. Or that in a year her band will be touring anyway so it won’t really matter where I am. Or or or.
But I can’t let her qualms about long-distance prevent me from going to grad school. Maybe I should apply to other programs outside of California too? NYU has a good program. And Harvard. And Brown. And lots of East Coast schools. Which all have the benefit of being closer to my family and closer to the majority of my friends. But… I’m not sure I want to leave California. I just don’t know. I don’t know!!!!