Observations, Self, Spirituality, Writing

..aaaaaand she’s back!

I came back this blog for the first time in ages yesterday and realized that those ages were even longer than I’d thought. March?!?! I didn’t fall off the wagon. I apparently jumped off, was trampled, and ended up forty feet under.

March is when my life started moving too fast. I was still in grad school at the time, and around halfway through my thesis advisor had gotten in touch with me for the first time since the previous June– to let me know, casually, that my paper wasn’t media-studies-y enough and I’d have to do it over.

“You might think it sounds like I’m telling you to trash all but the last four pages– and I am— but know this is part of the writing process,” he said in his email.

Cue me attempting to cobble together any usable sources and passages from my original paper (on draft 6, by the way) and writing an entirely new thesis on a different subject in a month.

So that was happening in March. And things with the boyfriend were becoming perilous. He wanted to get engaged sometime soon; I didn’t. Our differences in spirituality and values were putting on weight.

And then I miraculously finished my thesis and graduated, and to fill that loss I picked up a few new jobs– began tutoring ESL and taking this elderly woman for walks. And then I broke up with the boyfriend. And packed in a yoga membership, another teaching gig, and some copywriting.

Basically, I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. Because they were screaming all kinds of scary things at me.

Like: “Boyfriend loved you like no one else ever will, and you’re selfish not to let this God thing go for him.” And: “Grad school was a waste of time, and you’ll never pay off your loans.” And: “You have no identity anymore. You have no friends.”

At the time of writing, I’m still scared. I’ve been on a few dates, and they’ve ranged from mediocre to borderline dangerous. The copywriting gig is tenuous at best: I’m a total newbie, and my boss has hesitated again and again to give me the client access I need to do a good job, which makes me think she’s about to pull the plug on our relationship and just go back to doing everything herself. Also, I’m only nannying for three days a week now, for Margaret and another little girl I’ll call Winnie. That means a helluva lot less money, and a helluva lot more time with my scary thoughts.

Plus, my parents, who have struggled financially for the last five years, have finally been served with foreclosure papers.

I told that to Bryan, a dear friend, last night. When he took my call he could hear I was crying so he went outside and shut the door behind him, and he told me to try to trust that everything was going to be okay. He’s not religious, but I took it as advice to trust God. Which has historically not gone well for me. In the past, trusting God meant demanding he resolve situations in a particular way and then resenting him when he didn’t.

This time, I tried to listen to Bryan. I hung up with him and sat on my bed, telling myself to trust that God wants me to experience joy, and that he is eager and able to provide my parents with what they need. I tried to think about who God is, and trust that in all this mess, most of which I’ve built myself, some kind of ultimate goodness and joy is guiding me to itself.

That lasted about five seconds.

So here I am again, hoping to get out of the dirt and back on the wagon, but with a new set of concerns. I’m doing a good job of being present to the world. I need to get back to being present to myself.

Self, Social Justice, Spirituality

help wanted: people with short term volunteer experiences

Hello, fellow bloggers! I’m writing an essay on short term volunteer-abroad experiences, and I need your input! If you’ve been on a short term (3 months or less) missions OR volunteer trips, send me a message or comment about how you felt about it.

What did you expect going in, and how did the trip prove or differ from that? How did it impact you? Do you feel that short term trips are valuable or harmful or both, and in what ways? WRITE ME, PEOPLE. SERIOUSLY. THIS IS FOR GRAD SCHOOL. I NEED TO GRADUATE.

I’m also curious. Years ago I went to India for three months to research gender roles and sex trafficking, and I ended up doing absolutely nothing to do with that. I did a bit of teaching, a lot of baking, and writing elementary school lesson plans about environmental sustainability. Coincidentally, I also did a lot of shitting and a lot of picking lice out of my hair and killing cockroaches and scratching mosquito bites. And yoga, and laughing, and reading incredible books, and drinking beer under the stars.

Before I left, my grandmother told me in the car that she was proud of me for traveling so far to spread God’s love. I hated letting her down, so I just told her thanks. But I wasn’t interested in being “a light,” in so far as that meant trying to convert people. I just wanted to learn about these things I was interested in, and if someone saw God in me because I was kind or empathetic or genuine, so be it. And you know what? I think the only conversion experience had that summer was mine.