I should have written this yesterday, but I didn’t.
As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some special candles from the woo woo shop I visited last Friday. I’m actually burning two of them right now–one for financial luck/business/etc, and one for love. Both of the candles are orange. The former smells of honeysuckle (my favorite scent) and the other smells of, um…honey? I guess? Yesterday, though, I was burning one, a bright blue candle of rosemary. This was to rid my place of negativity, mainly because lately, I had been feeling so down–and for good reason.
One way to frame the “feeling down” vibes is that–and this has been my sorrowful lament since I moved down here from Chicago in 2012–life in Florida hasn’t really been that swell. Right now, I have to find a new place to live, the fifth one I would have had since I moved down here three years ago. Teaching English composition has been challenging and a bit disappointing. My students aren’t doing well and I don’t feel like I can do that well on about $1750 to teach the whole semester. I do enjoy my part-time job as a technical writer, but it also isn’t paying as well as someone with a lot of job experience plus an advanced degree in writing should be paid. Today, I just took care of applying for economic hardship for my two student loans and realized that the percentage would be close to 40% of my gross income. When people say doesn’t buy happiness, they have never have had their hierarchy of needs fucked with.
My time here could be a memoir on its own, but I’ve grown tired of this droning lament. Probably most of my friends have, too. Chronic crisis isn’t the most endearing trait.
So yesterday, I just lit that candle. I really bought it because I don’t like living here, although I like the idea of living here. I have own little sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom. I just have to come downstairs to the kitchen and to leave the house. Simply put–under the guise of charity, the landlady here has taken advantage of my poverty. It has caused a lot of suffering and heartache and exhaustion. It’s the third time I’ve been taken advantage of because I was poor. So, in the end, it’s good that I’m leaving soon, even if I have no idea where that will be, even if I feel like “better the devil you know.”
Still, it’s a morass of feelings I wanted to escape and drain out of this space. I lit the candle and kind of forgot about it. I had been avoiding the teaching observation that happened two weeks ago. I had been so nervous and I knew it wasn’t going well. I was stumbling over my words and acting like a typical absent-minded professor. I hadn’t opened the email yet, though, because even the very email made me feel very small, very insignificant, very incapable. Logically, I knew, and still know, that it was meant to help me be a better teacher, but the true Capricorn I am, failing in business is like failing at life. Not being in secure housing, not having reliable transportation, not having a full-time job with benefits–it’s all been starting to weigh me down.
Maybe it was the candle, but I decided I needed to finally open this email full of failure on my phone. I was painfully frightened, like I could my body undulate in anxiety and dread. I decided I needed to literally phone a friend and talk my way through not only opening the email but reviewing the evaluation. So that’s what I did. Of course, while reading through the evaluation, my worries were much worse than reality. The observer had written down some rather nitpicky issues–don’t sit at a desk, be more focused, have a tardy policy (which I already had). It was still full of fail, though–three out of four areas were “not yet acceptable.” For someone who has had success come easily to her–at least academically–this was hard to take, even as a rookie. As a nerd, I take teaching probably way too seriously and way too personally. I could definitely afford to cut myself some slack.
What was cool/strange was that even knowing that I was going to have a phone call with this friend made things so much easier to bear. I instantly felt the sludge of negativity subside. I believe I had also called to pray with someone that day, too. There’s a 24-hour prayer hotline through my church’s movement and it’s been handy when I feel like I can’t bear to carry all these woes and concerns. Usually, I never feel instantly relieved with prayer, but some time later, I usually can feel the peace that can pervade everything.
Even the candles are there as flickering reminders that I’m trying to do something, that I’m trying to pull some good things into my life, that I don’t have to be immobilized with fear and shame as my life’s circumstances make me feel like things will always be this hard, this unsatisfying, this lonely.
But, like I said, I should have written this yesterday, when the sludge–which I’ll call dysthymia–hadn’t yet returned, when the grace and ease was still present. Right now, it’s presenting as major sinus pressure and avoidance of grading and quite a bit of self-loathing. Yet I’m almost relieved that I feel down because it somewhat means that I have some time and space to actually feel anything at all; that there’s some level of safety to actually burn candles, sage this house, burn incense, to think of how I can reach out to people who are beacons of hope, to be less avoidant. It hopefully means that the survival mode I’ve been stuck in going on two years might be ending.
One day, I’ll be grateful for this spiritual renaissance that was born through the most difficult time of my life. As I take another pain pill for this incessant headache, I know that day is not today. I’ll burn candles instead.