Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Strug up in transition

First day off in nine days straight. I work again tomorrow, too. It's been a busy few weeks, but I'm glad for the distractions and when its in my pockets I'll be very glad for the money. 

Had some interviews for positions with the California jobs and I'm most looking forward to one in which I would be doing management for a food shelf. Basically it seems like it would all begin to fall on me - the 30-40 volunteers to be coordinated, the management of food and supervision of the 'shopping days". Talking to the woman who's doing it now, I felt like it would be right up my alley and use a lot of my strengths. She also told me about how she bikes most of the way to work every day, and takes the train the rest, which sounds awesome. It's good to know I wouldn't for sure need a car, because even though I'm getting some money saved, I don't exactly want to buy something that big when I will be on such a small fixed income for the next year. The other job is doing case management for people experiencing homelessness and trying to get into housing. The people I interviewed with sounded really great, and the whole situation seemed like it would be good for me. 

Got my plane ticket purchased, hotel rented for the night before, and less than a month in the cites before I leave! When I'm centered on me and feeling happy and strong,  I am so excited and ready for it. Of course there are moments of utter terror, but I guess I would be surprised no matter what my emotional state if I was not terrified to move across the country on my own. 

As far as my emotional state goes, I mostly feel out of balance. At least once or twice a day I feel extremely good, centered and focused. I am happy and sure everything is working out as it should. Some days are harder than others, some days are very sad still, some days I am so happy and free and excited. 

Today I went out to lunch with one of my old writing professors with HECUA. We talked about my life and writing. As far as my life goes as I listed off the issues that have shows up in my life - from car accidents and devastating break ups to simple issues like Metro Transit overdrawing my account by $60 the other day - he finally just sighed and said "Yeah, it 'sounds like you need to shake up your life and bit. Moving to a new part of the country will be good for you." 

We also talked about my writing, and how am I so excited to have time to get back to working on the novel and the writing. We talked about grants and residencies he has received and which I qualify for once I get back into my work. It made me realize a lot about what the next few years and what I decide to or to not put my energy into will define me and what I end up doing. I need to make certain that I don't let the novel fall to the wayside. I need to make certain I get back to Northern Ireland, but before that make the time to really work out more of what I'm doing with this thing I've been "working" on for the last 6 years. So that's the next thing on the summer to-do list. Or maybe the to-do list after arriving to LA... once I have a schedule and daily routine... That feels like I'm putting it off, which I've done enough of, though. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I've more or less come to terms with the idea of my friends growing up and getting married around me, which is obviously also an indicator that I'm growing up and will one day be getting married. People keep asking me what it feels like to be graduated from college and right now it just feels like summer vacation: hot, humid, lazy and lots of reading and drinking cold beer on hot porches with my friends. Right now I'm camped out for the morning watching Netflix and reading in a coffee shop across the Mississippi from my house, enjoying AC and doing my best to escape the intensity of the humidity out there.

This past weekend I was up north again for my childhood friend Grace's bridal shower and bachelorette party. As of this coming Saturday she will be married, a reception with the neighborhood will follow the next week, then she'll also be moving to the West Coast (Portland area, which is unfortunately far away from LA). When my friend Deb got married a few months after we graduated from high school, and as I've watched several of my cousins and friends older siblings get married from several different kinds of pews (from Evangelical churches with tin roofs, to ornate Catholic churches, to homemade benches in the forest) I've come to terms over and over again with my own ageing. These realizations usually hit me at either important moments like weddings, or at quiet rituals, like one day at Perpich when I was walking back to my dorm senior year and I realized suddenly that this was my life... that I went to a boarding school and lived in a dormitory.

The bachelorette party was very fun. I won't give details, since these things are usually not something one would talk about afterwards, but I will say it involved going to the 7th Harry Potter movie, eating lots of great food and that only two alcoholic beverages were consumed among the six of us all evening. So it's probably not what you think if your thinking of bachelorette party details not to be shared later.

After Grace's wedding, one of my other good friends Elise will be getting married. We met when I worked at Glensheen, bonded over the Lord of the Rings and the novels we were writing. Since then we've been writing letters to each other and meeting for long lunches and coffees when we're both in Duluth. It's been one of those friendships where spending a lot of time together would probably not be sustainable, but being able to know each other intimately through our letters and having watched the changes both of us went through during our teen years keeps us close to one another in a way I don't usually experience with my friends. She will be getting married just a few weeks after Grace, and I'll be coming home for that wedding too, if all works out well.

In the end it feels like I should make some big bow-tying statement here about growing up and turning into adults and watching it happen to my friends and knowing its happening to me but not feeling it like I thought I would. Well, there you go. There's my statement.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer in Minnesota

My first week back in the city has been a hard one. I seem to have begun to rise from a slump of a few days... probably a natural transition time that I should have learned to expect by now, with a few extra pangs because of  the emotional stress I've been under.

Came home on the 4th of July with much trouble. My car was in an accident and got totaled in extreme traffic somewhere around Barnum, which meant riding back to Duluth with the tow guy, sitting around a few more hours and taking a shuttle back to the airport. Luckily my childhood friend and roommate Lecey is letting me use her car for the time being (not luckily she is working for the MN DNR and is out of a job because of the state shut down, of which I wont say anything else because I could probably fill up an entire bunch of pages with my ranting about that) so I can get around the city and to work right now.

The apartment I'm living in is great. I'm basically subletting from a friend from Clover Valley who is getting married at the end of the month and has been living at home to save money before the wedding. Its in St Paul on a main street near St Thomas, which is a great neighborhood. Some of my very good friends live close to here and its refreshing to be only a phone call away from my closest people. When I moved in though, Grace had moved all of her stuff out and Lecey didn't have much in. The apartment was pretty space for about a week, with my TV on the floor in one corner of the living room, a chair in the opposite corner and a lamp somewhere in the middle. The dining room had a bike in it. My bedroom had a futon on the floor.

Everything can be amplified in an empty, echo-ey apartment, loneliness especially. I watched a lot of daytime court TV this first week.

My birthday, though no ones fault at all, was rather lonely as well. I spent the morning alone at home, met up with a coworker from the Daily around two oclock to watch a documentary about the rise and possible fall of the New York Times (made us both feel really good about our career choices with the paper), then she went home and I spent a few more hours wandering uptown. Most people were out of town, at work or just busy with their own lives this July 7th. And I can't blame anyone for that, its just so amplified because of this belief that our birthdays are supposed to be full of so much fun and excitement and attention on us.  I did end up having a great night when I met a few friends for drinks in uptown. It's just the hours that stretch in between things that I have to get used to.

Once again, and it will come up again and again in the next few months, my job is to recreate patterns within time and space and create a life. Just like in Venezuela, where I had to slow down and stop begin used to working 50 hours a week plus go to school, I have to get used to that in Minneapolis/St Paul again. In LA I'll have to do it too. And again and again.

I have been back to work at the Depot as well. At first this was very very hard. I have attached a lot of anxiety to this place and being back at work... having nightmares about going back while in Venezuela, and experiencing sleepless nights each night before I have to go. The main trigger of my stress - the boy who broke my heart - is gone and I only saw him once without any passing story to tell from it. He respected my request to not speak to me at work, which I appreciate. He's in LA now, and I'm positive I will not see him there. It's too big of a city and we're leading extremely different lives.

Mostly, I've been doing as much healing work as possible to make myself ready to leave for California at the end of August. That means a lot of conversations with good friends, a lot of reading, yoga classes and jogging in the mornings, swimming in Lake Calhoun and usually feeling the sadness and loneliness as it comes. As I said, I feel like I'm coming out of a dark few days, yesterday I woke up feeling brighter than I have in a long time. This morning I did yoga and it was better than last week. One step, one day at a time.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Northwoods

Home again, and so happy. It's been a bit of a whirlwind, going over the same stories, sorting out the same emotions, walking through the same memories with several different people. I've spent time with a lot of the most important people in my life since arriving in Minneapolis (after getting up at 2:30AM to ride a bus to El Vigia for an hour, then waiting there for 3 hours, then an hour plane ride to Caracas, then six hours in Caracas, then three hours on the plane to Miami, then a night in the hotel, then three hours from Miami to Chicago, then an hour in Chicago, THEN an hour to Minneapolis).

I was picked up by my dear friend Kristen and taken out for walks and drinks in Uptown on Wednesday night. She made me spaghetti, which was what I have been craving for several weeks (big surprise), and we drank wine and talked all evening. It was exactly what I needed.

I realized the next morning while I sat in a Dunn Bros coffee shop on Hennepin Ave in Uptown waiting for my friend Cassie to pick me up to go back to Duluth, how much I love Minneapolis. This is a realization I have had several times in my life, usually around this time of the year when summer has fully sunk in, people are out and about, walking, running, biking... I really really love these cities. One day, I am nearly positive this is where I will happily live my life. For now I'm so grateful to have another summer in this great city.

I have been in the country between Duluth and Two Harbors at my parents house since Wednesday afternoon, and I've spend a lot of time with old friends, catching up on the things that have happened during the last year when I've been too busy to spend significant amounts of time with anyone. It's been really fantastic and has helped me center back in on myself and who I am by telling my story up until now and where I hope I'm going to the people I love and have known my whole life.

It appears to be a summer of swimming and weddings... Two of my old childhood friends are getting married within two weeks of each other this summer, and I'll be in Duluth for both weddings. I'm very very excited about this! I've also swam within the largest lake in South America, the largest lake in the world and some other smaller Minnesota lakes within the last week.

This is how I love to live my life: with friends, family, memories all around me, hope and future plans spread before me and going through the waves of emotions I need to process as they arrive. I am happy.