aimless in archer season ♐

It’s been a strange season as the sun rolls this party college town Sagittarius.  Besides that my birthday is coming up in 22 days, I haven’t been feeling that festive.

There’s a danger in this lull–or usually, there would be. The danger is to reach out for new experiences, at almost any cost. Especially in Sag season. Sag things are about accumulating experiences.

And besides that I have just been trying to survive for the past few years, I haven’t felt much drive to accumulate experiences.

Yet, despite my lack of luck in most areas of my life, I’ve been lucky with travel. This year, I visited Tampa for a short day trip in April. I’ve driven over 1000 miles from Miami to D.C. in May. In August, I went to St. Pete right before the solar eclipse. In September, I visited Chicago for almost two weeks to avoid Hurricane Irma. And, I will hopefully will travel again for my birthday.

Beyond that, though, with the upheaval at home that has been here since May, I don’t really have much drive to try to accomplish something big.

After grad school, I felt like I had come on earth to do what I had to do–write my memoir. It’s not published yet, and it probably won’t be until my parents are dead (don’t want to deal with the immigrant parent blowback).

It’s weird to feel done at age 36.

And then there’s been more life lived, a lot of it humiliating and harrowing. Just this summer, though, my life as a freelancing writer and editor has started to show some sort of stability. I really wasn’t planning to start my own business–even if astrologically and otherwise, it makes more sense to do that.

But here I am, with clients that are starting to look like permanent ones. I am grateful, so grateful. Twitter was a big part of finding that stability, through people and friends I’ve met just this year.

I’m now in expansive Sag season and I feel contracted. I feel stalled. I’m used to having visions and missions bigger than me, consuming me.

The one thing that’s left in my life that I want to do or experience, no one wants to engage me on, which I am taking as a sign to not talk about anymore. So, I’ll spare you, too–and spare myself the embarrassment of glazed-over eyes and silence.

Maybe because I have experienced so many things already–and a lot of them haven’t really been uplifting–I have a small fear of planning anything.

What would be the point of planning if the Universe is just going to do this?

https://giphy.com/embed/gqItoeqRWSBnavia GIPHY

My time here was supposed to be missional. I thought I was signing up for finding my people, my tribe. I got the “Everybody Hates Me” sign-up sheet by mistake.

Besides that Florida is just a tough state to live in, and that I was really awakened to my own proximity to white supremacy (you can never be that close to it before it tries to bleach you)–I still had some hope, some stupid, unflagging hope that this was my home.

Thankfully, and most mercifully, that hope is dead now.

But to be in the holiday season and not really feel anything, not the sense of wonder or the beginning bubbles of joy percolating–I don’t even feel any hatred toward it…it’s a little scary.

I’m used to feeling inspired and awakened to big things. But my life has gotten so small, I could fit it in a pocket.

I wasn’t created for a small life–only an ever-expanding one.

I’ve gone ’round and ’round with trying to create a community for myself here, but nothing takes. There are loved ones across the country and around the globe, but nothing for me here.

Maybe this is what “chop wood, carry water” looks like. It’s not scaling a mountain or fording a stream. It’s very unglamorous, building my business and rebuilding my life. But it’s worth it.

There are times that I see people doing fun, exciting things, and I think, I should be out there doing those kinds of things. But then I think, with whom?

When I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, I got jealous of my main characters. They were doing exactly what I want to do now, exactly what no one wants to hear about. They were having a lot of fun, a lot of fun that I was used to having.

Being stuck in a cycle of poverty, I just haven’t had the space for fun, for mirth, for frivolity, for silliness. But both cycles–of poverty and over mirthlessness, are coming to an end–thankfully and most mercifully.

Even now with this one thing that no one wants to hear about, I remember having people in my life who wanted to hear about that stuff. I remember having people wanting to fully engage with my life. I remember being so irreverent, laughing at my calamity and pain because I knew I would eventually conquer them.

Now I feel like a spinning top that has been at rest for a while. There’s a deep level of inertia that I can’t Capricorn my way out of. I can’t act upon myself. It’s almost comforting, because I don’t really know what I’m missing.

I’m waiting on the Universe for clarity, for these synchronicities that fly around my head like annoying gnats to come into form. I’m waiting for the neon “open for business” sign to click on. I see it flickering…

Maybe it’s not that I am not wanting anything. Maybe it’s that I want more, so much more than I have ever had. I want to be engulfed by something bigger than writing my memoir, than getting through grad school, than pure survival mode for years.

I want to drown in something new.

I know what that new thing is, but I don’t know how to get from here to there–safely. I don’t feel compelled to start shaking every tree and trying to figure out what I should be doing. That’s how I usually would do it.

If I have to use a big term like paradigm shift, then that’s what this ole sea goat will have to use.

It’s about receptivity. It’s about active waiting. These are cringey, uncomfortable things, because it looks like learned helplessness. It looks like depression. It looks like like I’ve given up.

But, I haven’t. I’ve probably doubled down more than anything.

It’s also about just connecting with the Universe and saying, “I’m tired. I don’t know what the fuck is going on or where I’m headed. I want this thing and I don’t know how to get it. Please help me get it.”

So maybe I’m not aimless in archer season. Maybe I’m just motionless. I’m at rest.

With astrology, planets travel through signs and the 12 houses that are in your natal chart. Right now, the sun is in Sagittarius, which is going through my 12th house of healing, intuition, secrets, dreams, and the subconscious mind. It’s like the basement of the soul, in my opinion.

It’s also a place of rest. If you’re into tarot, it’s like the 4 of Swords card to me. For Capricorns and Cap rising people, this is like the disco nap before the big birthday party. It’s very weird to be chill during Sag season when everyone else is getting their holiday party on.

There are twinges of sadness that come up when I feel waves of FOMO wash over me. But they never last. I finally have embraced that this, for now, is where I’m supposed to be. Trying to force things hasn’t worked (believe me, I tried, just last month–spectacular failure).

Even for what I want, I have an idea of what it’d be like. But who knows if I’m ready for it, or if what’s waiting for me is ready for me? There’s a lot I can’t see or know.

I don’t know how this will all turn out. A new faith is being forged and I’m flailing around with impatience.

Even though I know what I want, I am like this Camus quote above: she was waiting but she didn’t know for what.

At least I do know I want this, for me and for you:

 

waiting for something decent and good

the waiting1

 

I applied for seven jobs today. It takes the edge off of the low-grade anxiety I’ve had for months. It almost crippled me yesterday–only to the point that I didn’t get to finish this article earlier to hopefully ensure I’d make it under the wire with getting paid today. I barely have any control over that, though. I was just too moody under this Cancer moon.

 

Last week, I got a letter where I was notified that I have to do some new hoop jumping to get SNAP. It’s like what I had to do for unemployment insurance–keep track of my job searches, do job-related things. Because being self-employed isn’t enough. This is new, as of last month. I guess Florida is employing people to do stupid admin work except for the people who actually need work. I need to talk to some case manager next Wednesday.

As I write this, I’m about $75 short on my phone bill, and I got the dreaded call earlier today that means that it’ll probably be turned off soon. For once, I’m not stressed out about it anymore. If it’s cut off, it’s cut off. It’s a waste of energy, resisting. There’s nothing I can do about it except ask for help continuously and keep looking for work that I can do.

Last week after my group, I had a talk with a friend, an Aries who co-leads the group. She had given me some blogging work and I was inquiring about more. I also wanted another POV on my work situation. She gave me some social media work that was optional for me to do. But I want to do it, so I can build up my portfolio.

You think taking advice from a Capricorn is hard? Whew. She gave me some good ideas but also made me look at myself, to see if I was too prideful. I will explore those job leads tomorrow. It was helpful to get new ideas of where to look because I knew I needed some new ideas. I even applied to a place that’s close to my house, a place I was told by another writer years ago that it was abusive. My Aries friend had worked there and I took her fiery enthusiasm and reconsidered. I consulted oracle cards twice and got the green light both times to apply.

I can’t really tell if I’m not being humble or open enough, even though my time in Florida has been taking it on the chin over and over–at least in my mind. And I’m a Capricorn–I’m born proud of myself.

Still, is it OK to say no to anything where I am on my feet for hours because of my jacked up knees? When does being humble transform into humiliation? Have I had enough of both?

These are questions for the Universe, and I don’t really feel the push to break my body to work–but I feel like that’s part of the narrative of poverty, of working in America.

In order to get help, you have to grovel, or be amusing, or to have successfully shown that you deserve it somehow. We glorify the stories of extreme asceticism and sacrifice, things we’re not even willing to do ourselves. But at the same time, we judge those who have less than us. It’s the same sort of mentality that has people thinking that people who get SNAP aren’t smart enough to buy food for themselves, or that all of them are lazy and aren’t doing enough.

It couldn’t be that the system is broken.

We value “working really hard”–unless you’re rich. Then it’s OK not to. We collectively think it’s OK because we all want to be rich one day. We all want the perks, the tax havens, the getting off easy for our sins, the different set of rules. We buy into the idea that if we work hard enough, then we’ll get that.

But most of us will never be rich.

Right now, we’re trying to dissect #Wealthcare, the new healthcare bill which is even worse than the current legislation. And guess who it serves? The rich–specifically, the insurance companies. The current climate seems to be bucking up against this idea of “hard work is salvation” and making the poor pay more. And of course, I’m a part of this climate, and it’s affecting me. All of these narratives play out in my mind and I question all of them, because this is about my humanity, our humanity,  after all.

It’s infuriating and inhumane and completely American.

Tomorrow, I need to check in on jobs I’ve already applied for, including one that hasn’t gotten back to me in weeks. I’ve let that go, in my mind.  Part of me doesn’t want to know, that I had put in all this work and that they decided to go with someone else and not tell me. I’m tough, but holding onto hope can be a wearying experience.

And I still can’t tell if I need to be working for myself or not–like officially. I wouldn’t mind it if it wasn’t in my room. Maybe in a co-working space…

I’m just kinda waiting around–but not. It’s more like stumbling around and looking. I’m not even sure what I’m looking for anymore. I’m not good at being lost.

I work almost every day, even weekends. It’s just hard when I’m doing all I can, but nothing has really broken through yet. Sometimes I think I should move because Florida is a tough state, but I don’t think I’m done here. I even asked the Universe about moving to the Gulf side of the state, but I got a strong no on that through oracle cards.

The questions continue. Do I want to be a writer anymore? It’s exhausting, doing these articles. Last week, I applied for a job that was more akin to what I used to do back in Chicago–a research coordinator. Maybe my writing life will be done soon.

And what of the rest of my life, that seems to be atrophying? A family. Friends I can rely on. Traveling this big, blue, beautiful world (I’m listening to Florence + The Machine), and just not struggling like this?

I had a huge epiphany: I had this belief that coming to Florida, I could finally be a full adult (or, my definition of it): self-sufficient, with furniture that matched, on my own, with my own transportation. I got to live like that for about a year.

The Universe had other plans.

All the while, I kept trying to bring the story back to that–self-sufficiency. Doing what I wanted, when I wanted. And that’s not the story to be told right now.

What I have been focusing on is uninteresting to me and yet it is the world I live in. Resisting it is tiring.

I don’t like obsessing over unpaid bills and the bales of ramen I will be eating until the 16th and whether I can afford some respite. I don’t like the sickening smells of food wafting in from the other side of the house. I don’t like listening to the incessant throat clearing and coughing from someone who doesn’t seem to give a shit about himself or others in this house. I don’t like having to remind the landlady to bring me a bathroom mirror and lights for outside of the house.

I have to separate myself from the stench, from the sounds, from the diet, from the bare wall in my bathroom that is missing a mirror.

Who the fuck am I outside of all these annoyances and failures?

And that’s why I have to go back to relying on a higher power–Someone who can who can unlock the cage from the outside, Someone who knows my whole story. Even if I’m not a Christian anymore, there’s still the part of me that needs to connect to something bigger, and better, than myself–especially in times like these.

I’ve been benevolently bailed out so many times. I can rely on that grace, even if it doesn’t show up when or how I want it to. So yeah, maybe tomorrow, the phone will truly turn off and it’ll take time to turn it back on.

Maybe things will just continue to worsen before they improve. But what will that do to me?

Whether it’s just my preoccupation with survival, or the feeling of doom that tries to snuff me out daily–I have to run on something else. I have to listen to something else. I have to focus on something else. Otherwise, it’s so easy to think something is wrong with me, that I’m not worthy of support or a good job or love or rest or anything else that is good. When things go wrong for a long time, it’s hard to believe that things will improve. It’s hard to wait, so very hard. It’s also difficult to keep pushing back at the narrative that because I’m in this frozen state, that means that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m wrong.

But if I don’t push back, I will get rolled over with doom, and I won’t survive it.

I think of all the things I’ve survived up to this point: a mentally ill father, my own mental illness in college, graduating college, dysfunctional friendships with white women (so, so many of these), peaks and troughs in my finances, unfair firings and layoffs, losing my car, grad school and all the disappointment, eviction (kinda twice), homelessness,  abusive landladies and roommates, infestations.

That’s the short list. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of things.

Each painful incident, I’ve layered on rock-hard strength. I’m striated in multi-colored imperviousness. And as I get toughened, again, by the waiting and confusion and rejection and neglect, and by each article and job application and conversation and prayer and tarot card reading, I have to believe that it’s not just because the world is awful, and my strength is just a side effect of it.

One day soon, though, I will learn that the Universe holds all that I need–and that I can really trust. It seems to be the ultimate lesson here: how I’m never ever alone; how the spirit world is much more real and powerful that anyone I know.

Related to that: in tarot, I’ve been encountering the Magician card. Its basic meaning is that I have everything I need to create the life that I want. It seems like an enigma. What do I have? I do try to be grateful, but there’s something else impervious in me that is tired of painting on a faux face of gratitude–even though I believe in faking it to make it.

Still, I look at the card as it comes up each time. What do I have? I have myself–is that all I need? There’s a tension here, because I’ve been quite self-reliant and have been able to advocate for myself really well for my whole life. I’m torn between the steely nerve of self-reliance and the kinda scary, but soft and warm interdependence. It’ll always be like this, though, the seesaw between me and others.

But, I feel close in figuring out the balance, in figuring out this part of the journey. Like my last post, I don’t think there’s any new wisdom here to be found, or anything else to say, as I approach 2100 words. It’s more getting comfortable with uncertainty while I continue to learn to love myself–especially when life is hard. And that’s the essence of living a life, a spiritual life at that.

So what do I do while I wait, while I search, while I heal?

I went to the Dali Museum in St. Pete last weekend, and there was a Frida Kahlo exhibit. I had seen another exhibit at the SFMOMA in 2008. I’ve seen and loved the movie Frida. But in this exhibit, I really began to understand the amount of physical  and emotional pain she endured for all of her life. Because of the bus accident she survived, she turned to painting as solace. Her pain was beautiful, but it was definitely hers. As I read her quotes and looked at her self-portraits, I felt like I had found a comrade in suffering.

It made me think about all the pain that I’ve endured. What am I doing with it? The poverty, the abandonment, the frustration, the confusion, the rejection, the silence–they are all different colored paints that I can use to create something beautiful.

I can only hope that as I keep writing about this really tough time, something good, maybe even lasting, is being created.

I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.
– Frida Kahlo

 

what to say?

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I really hope this is short. I’m sorry if it’s really disjointed.

Um, it has been a time. On Wednesday, it’ll be 5 months of underemployment. I can’t keep asking why anymore. It just is.

My body is becoming an exquisite corpse for this chapter of my life. It’s not at its prettiest. My hair is greyer and thinner. There’s weight gain and skin eruptions and tight joints.

I definitely didn’t think that I wouldn’t be working full-time at this point. I’m getting calls for two jobs back at the last gig (same manager, too), two jobs that I’ve already applied for. I’m still waiting to hear back about the second writing exercise I am sure I over did–for the managing editor position.

I keep having to solely pull myself and out of the pits of doom together every day. I’ve gotten really good at it. And, for once, I’m not really resentful of it. My self-reliance is why  I am still alive.

I want to say this as dispassionately as possible: I feel like how my parents raised me, with very little affection and encouragement, is helping me now. There is no one saying on a daily basis–hang in there, keep going. The only voice I hear consistently is my own.

There must be a reason, though, why real help hasn’t arrived. The answers are all awful, so let’s skip that.

I have to keep hope at bay. I’ve ridden the waves of hope from shore to shore. From a couple of readings saying I’d get job offers this month, well…I did get new clients.

It’s scary to push hope back, because then–what is there to look forward to?

The general message I’m getting from the Universe is to hang in there, to keep going. No savior, no deliverance, no big red bow on an expensive car, no unbelievable happy ending. It’s keep crawling, keep scraping, keep it moving.

Keep. Going.

Things are bad, but I’ve been through worse. I wish I had new insights about this time, besides that I am grateful that I am resilient since the relief I need hasn’t shown up. I’m just getting battered and there’s no energy to resist it.

I’m sorry that I have to keep writing this boring ass story over, and over, and over: of underemployment, of fear, of anxiety, of poverty, and how it’s all messing with my head and my soul like I’m on the frappe speed of a mixer.

How many cliches for my resiliency can I come up with?

I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m riding the wave.

I’m hanging in there.

I’m staying strong.

I’m waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I know that it’s darkest before the dawn.

I know that something is waiting for me around the corner.

I’m treading water.

My mind is tired, so that’s all I have for the list of cliches. Right now, I don’t care about potential or hope or predictions or even faith. I only care about relief. Real relief. The Universe only seems to be sending big raindrops, like the ones that happen right before a big downpour–but no downpour.

I’m impatient and unhappy about it. I’m parched. This is an ugly, disillusioning journey. And as many people I’ve walked with through tough times–there’s just me on this trip (that’s a whole other post that I will never write).

This agitation is somehow tempered by gratitude–of still having my car, of having gas in my car, of paying my car insurance, of having enough to eat, of having dessert, of having any work at all.

But underneath is unending exhaustion–a different type of soul exhaustion than I’ve experienced, but that even with getting a new full-time job, it won’t easily disperse. It’s like a middling kind. Not the “where I am sleeping tonight?” kind. Nor is it the eviction kind. It’s not even the being unfairly shamed by others kind. It’s the “I’m not quite at a place of stability and I’m really tired of trying to make it happen” kind. It’s the “I have no choice to keep going” kind. I have the strength but it seems so, well, stupid to spend so much effort on this type of writing and merely on survival, especially when the stakes are high, but the cost to keep me going is so low.

But there’s nothing else. This is the muddy, weedy, lonely path. One foot in front of the other. A faceplant. Mud on hands. Grass stains. Pain. Get up. Keep going. So complaining about it is fruitless. It just makes me more tired.

And that’s also why I haven’t made time to write here. What is there to write about? Not much, nothing of pleasure or of insight.

And that’s that. On Monday, I keep going, keep hanging in there. I will try to renew my SNAP. I will write two articles. I will hope that the hundreds of dollars of work that I did last week will finally be paid out. I will keep going and compartmentalize the exhaustion until I can safely unload and unpack the burden.

I will not wait for relief to come. I will somehow be an alchemist and create it myself, for myself, by myself.

I will persist, and I will win–because I have no choice.

Calling on the right ones

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Photo credit: Tim Van Damme

This is a long one, so just sit back and get cozy.

I wrote this two months ago, and I didn’t publish it because I felt super whiny, albeit rightly so. It’s a little scattered, like the energy that swirls around in the U.S. So I apologize in advance for the motifs and metaphors that come and go.

Two months later, not much has changed in my life, and this topic of asking, and not receiving, is still very relevant right now. Today is Day 120 of unemployment and under this moon in Pisces, I feel very done.

Pisces is the last sign in the zodiac, so that’s also why I feel done. Pisces is a water sign and it’s very intuitive, but also very emotional. So I also feel like a catharsis from the past 4 months.

 

The pain I’m enduring is not being wasted. The isolation I’m experiencing is not being wasted. The incessant asking that isn’t being answered is not being wasted. I have to believe in the law of conservation of energy: 

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; instead, it transforms from one form to another.

I’m still scared, but not as much. And I’m still sad, but not as much. When I woke up after I thought about all this, the black weighty gloom lifted, just a little.

I cannot tell  you how many times I’ve repeated this process, of pushing the tag team twins of doom and gloom off of me, like I’m under too hot of blankets. It’s becoming an almost everyday process, of choosing to be here, of choosing not to look at my circumstances and letting that be the only story told about who I am and my purpose here on Earth.

This morning, before I was officially awake, I was blogging in my head. Maybe the correct term is ruminating. Either way, my adventure with NaNoWriMo must have kicked on my loquacious Mercury in Sagitarrius writer’s button, because now, I can’t stop writing.

I know that keep writing about the same topic, over and over. I also feel like I’ve been running in place for over four years–that Sisyphean energy.

What’s this all worth, really?

Fixed candles are burning, pink and green, pulling down love and money respectively. I’m waiting to be called for my phone interview with a former employer [That went well, but there may not be a decision until, at the latest, March?]. ETA: I heard back yesterday when I checked in, and there will be no face-to-face interview. Today [January 31st] I also got another rejection from the worst phone interview I’ve ever had. Friday, I got a rejection from what I thought was my dream job. 

Clouds are starting to gather as I see our resident vultures gliding high in the air. I’ve been listening to Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, over and over. It’s been reported to be a breakup album, from when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow. It sounds more like their old stuff. I actually need to stop before I start hating it. But hey, you can use this as the soundtrack for this post.

What I was blogging in my head has escaped me a bit, mainly because I resolved that angsty puzzle. But I remember now.

Today, in two different tarot/oracle card decks, I pulled the equivalent of Three of Swords: heartache, sadness, loss. It was definitely a reading of my energy–maybe it’s just the residue, or it’s just always there.

I’m already loathe to talk about this, because I can hear my own inner critic join the chorus of my fellow Americans who have bought into the bootstrapping myth, as if any of us can make it without any help. There are so many conversations I’ve had with friends about the value in asking for help and the importance of community, and they are all running in my head right now.

Under this full moon in Gemini, which is not helping with keeping my head clear due to the streaming of information, I’m thinking about the losses of this year. Besides struggling with a job loss, I did lose a few friends. I’ve gotten wise about how life works, though. So many lessons in the losses… mainly I was trying way too hard with those friendships. It’s a bad habit that has cost me time and money. I’m finally sensitive to not trying to make anything happen.

But with those losses, I’m doing a lot of grinding by myself.

I’ve had to really upgrade my definition of “friend.” Right now, I have a lot of really good acquaintances and not a lot of friends. And as an immigrant’s daughter, there really isn’t family to fall back on during hard times. I fall back on myself.

I’m resilient, very resilient. And I tire of it. I remember telling my therapist in grad school of my exhaustion with my own indefatigable spirit.

I look at my unemployment, which is the longest stretch I’ve ever had, and wonder when it will end. It keeps unfurling, like a long, blank scroll, emphasis on blank.

And I know why I resent my resilience. There’s some inner child wounding being healed as I go through this valley, places inside of me that need parenting and re-parenting. have to do it, no one else. I have to release the need, the compulsion, of my parents to come in and take care of me.

It’s not a bad one, this need. It’s 100% natural. It’s how the parent/child relationship is set up. But when the parents are unable or unwilling, you have to take up the slack. And I don’t like it. Thankfully, even the acknowledgement of not liking it is a step towards healing.

Yes, I deserved better support and guidance, and yet, I didn’t receive it. And yes, in order to move forward, I have to just (suck it up) take care of myself.

I don’t necessarily believe in shitty circumstances being orchestrated  in your life, just so you can learn things. That’s a bit self-absorbed, in my opinion. I am 100% sure that the Universe would rather draw us through kindness.

The way I see life is that shitty things will happen, regardless of whether I’m at the “proper vibration” or whether I had enough “faith.” The question isn’t if those things will happen–it’s when. And then what are you being invited to do? How will your RSVP, oui ou non?

Not finding work as quickly as I need isn’t some grand universe conspiracy. But I have been invited to slow down, reassess my life, and continue to bring healing to that deserving inner child that seems to have been left by herself. I’ve also been invited to trust the Universe in ways that are frightening–at least for a Capricorn sun and a Cancer moon. Job and housing insecurity would probably frighten most people, though.

Until I came down here to Florida for grad school, I never really realized how much I relied on myself and on my friends. I don’t know if I took my friends for granted, or even myself. I hope I’ve always come from a place of gratitude.

The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve become active on social media–and thank goodness because otherwise, I’d be worse off in all ways–and not connected to people locally. That’s mainly because of money: it costs to hang out with people, even if you’re just driving to meet up to do something free. I’ve been able to give myself a lot of patience and grace with this, and I need to give myself even more.

I did realize, though, that culturally, the way I was raised as a Ghanaian does not mesh well with the “rugged individualism” of America. Looking back, I can see how my family’s relationships with other Ghanaian families weren’t a luxury, they were a necessity. We went out of our way to go on road trips to visit people in Michigan, Georgia, Louisiana.

Even though I’m not close with most of those families anymore, I still consider them as family–somewhat. Even with this current lack of closeness, you could say that American culture has started to erode our bonds. Not to be too simplistic, though–because I know there are a myriad of reasons why people grow apart over time. Still, we’ve gotten absorbed in our own lives.

But I’m still wired to go out of my way. Yet, there are fewer and fewer people to go out of my way for. And vice versa.

And that was a big lesson this year. I was going out of my way for people who would never make that effort back. And now, they are gone. Effort can’t solve everything.

It’s been a funny journey for me with my willingness to asking for help. I have loathed hating asking for help, and it’s possible I’m living a self-fulfilling prophetic nightmare. Before I even made it to Florida, I had to ask for help to get down here. Since I’ve been here, I’ve asked and asked and asked–and I’m still asking. To hear the silence roaring back in response to my request, and not have it be about me, to not have it be that I’m not deserving or that I’m unworthy or whatever other ugly self-judgments that I have to fight off…I know I’m learning a few things from that.

  1. I’m not the only one whose voice isn’t being heard or heeded to. There are people all over the world who ask help for help and are ignored.
  2. Asking for help doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be helped by the ones I ask.
  3. Related to #2, this message came across Twitter earlier today: I’m not asking for too much, but I’m asking the wrong people.

This last message, about who to ask, has been a mindbender for me. I’ve looked back at how I’ve been provided for in ways that were unexpected. As a Capricorn, I really like efficiency. I just want the big ole windfall, the amount of money that will take care of everything all at once. But that’s not what I’ve been invited to receive.

My ultimate invitation, every day, is to trust the Universe, for everything. When it gets to brass tacks stuff: my bills, food, shelter, transportation–it’s scary. My hierarchy of needs pyramid is on fire, starting from the bottom. It’s admittedly crazy-making. Not having enough money is stressful and can cause you to not think clearly.

Through that fog of confusion, I can clearly see that the right one to ask for help from is the Universe. I’ve been incredibly stubborn and resistant about this change because it’s not how I usually have gotten things done. Being resilient and rallying for help when I needed–it hasn’t been as difficult as it has been for the past few years.

And again, the struggle is not to make this about my self-worth, i.e. it’s not raining money on you, so that means you don’t matter.

This has been a baby stepwise process. (Aren’t all life journeys?) I’ve talked about this before. There have been a few times that I talk to Archangel Ariel,  who is known to help with  earthly needs, and audibly ask, “What else can I do? I’ve got nothing.” Something seems to always happen: I get more time to pay something, or money shows up. I’m in a similar place this month, and I don’t know how things will be taken care of.

I’ve gone through this so many times, though. I should be a pro. But every time, I feel like this is some major test of my existence.

Somehow, faith is being grown, in this rocky, dusty soil of my life. I’m not sitting here panicking, like I usually would. I’ve had to find my worth outside of the number of friends I have, whether I feel overlooked and misunderstood or not, whether I have a job or not, whether I’ve had a car or not, whether I had a BA or not, whether I’ve been in a relationship or not.

That’s what’s being transformed in me, right now, in this cauldron of waiting and wondering and worry: these precious, priceless gems of my true worth.

 

Shadowboxing with my fears

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Back in the same ring again, battling the same opponent: fear.

Specifically, I could say it’s financial upheaval, the foe. I look at my bank account and wince. $86. Rent is half paid. I pushed off paying for my car and my phone. Unemployment payments haven’t been doled out yet. If I were a tarot card, I’d be a 2 of Pentacles juggling act of worry and dread.

To even put all this stress in the context of the recent Presidential election–I don’t even have the headspace or heartspace to process how that can adversely affect me. I know it’s not helping.

I was thinking earlier today how I ended up here, again. While I was washing dishes this morning, I went all the way back to 20 years ago, about where I chose to go college. Maybe I should have gone to University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). But then I wouldn’t haven’t been the me that I am now, for sure. And I love and adore her. So, no regrets. I needed to leave my family’s upheaval, which was financial and legal, that only worsened when I lived in Chicago. What my family went through has been nipping at my heels. As immigrants, we burned the maps, burned the ships, and we don’t really have a safety net. I’ve tried to weave one, and the knots keeps slipping.

Still, even with those challenges, I don’t have to go back too far to figure out how I ended up here. Coming to Florida, to become a writer, has been a sacrifice, especially of pride. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, went wrong. But it was the pursuit of a dream, a dream I had as a kid and temporarily discarded because it was impractical. So no regrets about that either.

But the hits keep coming. Last month, I had a hotel fleece me about $160 when I was fleeing Hurricane Matthew (long story, but do not stay at a Days Inn unless you want to lose extra money and deal with evil people). I’ve had little blips like that while walking on this tightrope above certain doom. They shake the rope, causing me to wobble and fall. I hang on by fingertips and fingernails. I get back on and start to walk again, to the other side, towards stability. It seems so far away, but then I know that this is temporary. I will get through this, like I always do–even if I’m tired of my own resiliency.

I have not had a permanent job in the four years and counting I’ve been here. It’s all been contract-based. Today, I just got turn down for a job where I had the most hostile interview. I am pissed that I went through that experience and I am pissed that I wasn’t chosen for a wage that I haven’t made in over a decade. It was going to be, hopefully, a side job. Looks like the Universe has other plans. I’m kinda grateful for that, but only kinda, because my pride is a little wounded.

As I watch the story of my life unfold, I still hold my breath. I’m still not sure if this protagonist is actually going to make it. I’m rooting like hell for that person, for me. Over the years, I’ve learned to be my loudest, craziest cheerleader.

And it’s not like the Universe isn’t cheering for me, either. In my own personal tarot and oracle readings, I keep receiving such encouraging messages, about releasing worry, that this season of my life is over (The World in tarot), that love is coming soon. I need to hear this, because my circumstances look like it’s a repeat performance of this time in 2013 (eviction), and 2014 (kinda eviction). This Cancer moon does not want to move unless it’s to a better place!

Well, maybe this is a repeat performance. My landlady is a social worker. So last Friday, I spoke to her as a former social worker, and as someone who has faced hard times before. She’s giving me a break–

but then I’m in the ring, hyperventilating and sweating, boxing against the fears of financial ruin, of homelessness, of existential stress: why the fuck am I here? Why is this happening again? Why am I doing this alone, again?

Almost. Recruiters are calling me almost daily. That’s never happened to me in my life. There’s a job that I really want that I saw and will apply for soon. Through a friend, I talked to one of the employees there. That’s never happened to me, either. I have a phone screen interview next Tuesday for another job.

There. Is. Movement. And. Momentum.

Not quite. I have this tiny little job where I write content for clients. It pays shit, but at least my writing chops are being kept sharp. I’m planting seeds for repeat clients.

 

Things aren’t going the way I want to, in the timing that I want (yesterday), or how the way I want (super duper easy). But for now, I’m still housed, I still have my car, with gas in it, with insurance. My phone is still on. And I’m grateful that this time, someone gave me a break and things are breaking open for me this month.  I know it’s because through these repeated fights in the ring with fear, I’m different, and I’ve learned a little bit about how fear operates. Now I can land a couple of good punches on fear, even when it tag teams with despair. Writing this blog post is a punch landed on my fears.

And while I fight these decades-long fears of poverty and instability, I have to focus on gratitude, so I can stay upright, so I can dodge those punches. I have to tell my double Capricorn self that I am doing enough, that I can rest once in a while. I must have the courage to not worry, the bravery to ask for help– even if resounding silence is the response, and the guts to tell despair to fuck off.

If you want to help me out this month, here are a few ways:

  1. cash.me/$beelicious
  2. paypal.me/deb88
  3. Patreon–I will have that up in a few days. I’ll let you know soon!
  4. I am a writer and I can write all sorts of things. Let me know how I can help you.
  5. If you like my writing, pass my blog along!
  6. Send good vibes and pray.

If it’s a car you lack, I would buy you a Cadillac…

This is pretty stream-of-consciousness and loosely structured. All apologies.The title of this post

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Sunrise and fog (which you can’t really see)

The title of this blog post is a lyric of one of the songs I was going to sing in a chorus I joined two months ago. It’s from “Thank You for Being a Friend.” Yes, that’s the Golden Girls theme, but it’s also a song from 1978 by Andrew Gold. When we sang this for the first time, the alto section leader laughed and nodded her head at me because I had recently asked for a ride to practice. Yes, that was embarrassing.

I was going to sing that, plus other songs for a show in June to celebrate the chorus’ 25th year of existence. Instead, one full moon ago, on February 3rd, I had to give up my car. My ride to the chorus decided to drop out yesterday. After that, I also decided that with this city’s abysmal public transportation, I couldn’t continue with the chorus.

In a long list of things I’ve had to give up to be here in Florida, for survival, the chorus doesn’t hurt as bad. I am disappointed, but I was only in it for two months. The car, though–it took a whole lunar cycle to talk about it publicly. That’s more to do with my growing reluctance to share my chronically crappy life on Twitter, and that’s a good thing.

I don’t necessarily regret what happened. If I have to be cliche, I’ll say that I learned so much from this ordeal. So let’s start from the beginning.

I bought Bluebelle with I know now as an underwater loan, but I didn’t really want her. I set out to buy the cheapest car on the lot, some white Paseo that cost like $6000. But my cousin was like, “No, no, no…” and lead me over to some more current Corollas. Of course, he’s not the one paying for the car. Buying a car can be a traumatizing, draining experience, and this was my first. It took a few hours and I felt like I was being bamboozled by everyone and my resolve crumbled. It was hard to be on own my side when I had to go to the first day of class the next day and my cousin worked–time pressure. I had been a proud pedestrian in Chicago. Down here, though–I am living in the sprawl. I had to have a car. If I ever had a regret, it would have been to push back. I’d’ve paid off my car by then.

Bluebelle, my car, got me around quite well, but it was a struggle to pay for it while being a grad student and a fellow who could not work more than 20 hours a week on a shitty stipend and not working until the beginning of my second year. I downsized my living situation (read: faced eviction) in December 2013. I felt like was a money pit, but really, I was just seriously poor.

Then the following September, almost two months after graduation, I had to leave a rather abusive, tough housing situation. I had lost my job in July and my part-time grant writing position had just started the week before. Rent for that month hadn’t been paid yet and I had been trying to hustle up something. That started my month-long journey in homelessness which I may write about one day. I still had my car, which held a lot of my stuff.

Around the same time, I started going to church–a more woo woo spiritually inclusive church (read: yoga and Reiki and past lives, oh my!) It was actually good timing since my life was imploding. One afternoon, after attending Tuesday noon prayer, I walked out to my car. I was parked by the music director. She had walked out with another church staff person. I forgot the conversation we were having, but the staff person offhandedly said with mouth agape and eyes widened, “Whoa, are you living in your car?”

“Sort of.” I explained how I was bumming around the city and drove off to a coffee shop to work. I don’t really remember too much embarrassment from her or the music director, but I could tell that she wasn’t expecting my answer. That conversation ran through over and over my head for weeks.

After I found where I live now (which started off nightmarishly, and again, maybe I will write about my housing woes one day), I felt like I was facing a dam with many leaks and I didn’t have enough fingers Car. Insurance. Gas. Rent. I always paid rent first, so all the car leaks–well, they kept leaking and leaking and leaking. After the part-time grant writing gig ended (most notably and possibly coincidentally) because I decided to give my client a contract to sign) I started teaching in January of this year and another part-time writing job at the end of January. Neither of these jobs pay well enough to keep the car. Like when I got my part-time grant writing job, it seemed too little too late for my finances.

My tags expired in December, so I was scared of being pulled over with a Pandora’s box of car and driving issues. So driving became an exercise in anxiety and evasion of the law. One January afternoon, while driving to a job interview, I was driving and a sheriff was behind me. I kept trying to drive away from him–I was only a few miles away from my destination. I’m surprised I didn’t break out into a sweat. I had already rehearsed what I would have said if I got pulled over. I was prepared to turn on the water works, which would have come pretty easily at that point.

I was desperate. In many ways, I still am.

After having the absolute worst experience on the phone with a hostile customer service rep (the only service she gave was to her multinational corporation who probably paid her shit), I arranged to drop off Bluebelle at a dealership. Actually the first one didn’t work out, so I had to drive to another one. I was trying to avoid the drama of the repo man to come to this house. That was a weird day, to drive one last time, from the west side to the north central side to the south side.

It was a beautiful day, though–sunny, blue skies, warm. I had the sunroof open. I had been dreading this for months and months. I had been so afraid of this day, of turning into a pedestrian again in a town that runs them over so easily and then provides them with horrible public transit. In terms of my spirituality being forged in these desolate financial times, I wasn’t really feeling God or the Universe. I was just feeling the drive to survive–no pun intended. I wasn’t teary. I was, and still am, tired. Empty. Defeated. Alone.

I took my first Uber ride from the dealership, with a chatty woman in one of those weird HHR cars. I actually had music practice for Sunday’s service and I had already arranged a ride home. Beforehand, there was some Native American ceremony going on. There’s one that happened tonight–full moon. After being dropped off, I was saged from head to toe. The timing of being saged after such a gut-wrenching experience of shame was for sure the Universe looking out for me. I’m still not even sure how I feel about these ceremonies, even though the pastor and her partner are partly Native American (not phenotypically, but genotypically), but I believe in the power of sage.

Then I sang and was taken home by a fellow singer. I briefly related my car woes as he told me of a similar situation. I had wanted to actually trade my car in, as he had, but that didn’t really occur to me until it was too late. I had beaten the specter of homelessness, but not of carlessness. That day, and night, I felt carried along by Something…

Between that full moon and this one, I’ve taken Uber and Lyft to work/school. I’ve also taken public transportation. I’ve walked to and from–more like urban hiked. I had to walk in the wind and rain to the Wal-Mart two miles away to get money from my mom–the primary lifeline I’ve had throughout grad school. I felt really beaten down, like I was walking in cement. My pants were soaked and one of the leg’s hem tore. I took an Uber to school that cost twice as much because I’m pretty sure my driver didn’t know how to get on the toll road when the main road near my house had a major accident that blocked both directions. All I could see was red flashing lights. I heard later a car had flipped on its back.

That night, I took my first public transit ride home. It’s two dollars to ride and you can get a transfer that lasts 90 minutes for another ride, which kinda sucks. Public transit is cheaper in Chicago. A transfer card gave you two rides and lasted for two hours. I had to wait about an hour after class for the next bus. This bus drove west to downtown and some chatty guy we picked up was talking about the rainstorm before and some random not-of-age teenage Brazilian tourists who were lost and taking public transit. He talked about how this particular bus route was bad and always stuck in traffic.

As a writer, I was really trying to absorb this jolly guy–middle-aged, with a jean jacket, with an easy smile. This was my first bus ride and it smelled like a Chicago bus when it’s snowed and the el platforms are covered in sand because of ice–like sweat and piss and a long day rolling around the city.

The terminal downtown is open air, and I found the bus that would get me within a 40 minute walk (two miles?) from my house. I checked my phone to see if I could Uber from there, but surge pricing at over three times the normal rate. Lyft, per usual, was busy. Like the suburbanite that I had become again, I nervously got on, bone tired from teaching English composition, hoping that my students hadn’t seen me at the previous bus stop and also hoping that no one would take to me on this ride. I just had to make sure that I got off before the bus turned around. It was after 11pm at this point.

It felt strange because I had taken public transit most of my adult life before this. I had taken buses and trains home late all the time. Somehow, this felt scarier. Taking public transit here didn’t make me feel like I was normal, like it did in Chicago. It didn’t matter too much what your income level was there. It was a true melting pot, even if you could tell what part of town you were on by who got on and got off. Having a car in Chicago seemed like a hassle–parking (permit parking), higher car insurance, “dibs” when you shoveled your spot out from the snow, the incessant traffic. Having a car here, next to the happiest place on earth, was a necessity. For example, the bus near my house only runs hourly, as if it was a commuter train line. And we have one of those, too–which runs along I-4 and does jack shit for me as a westsider.

Here, there’s no bus tracker app to see when the next bus is coming. You just have to know the schedule. It really felt like taking the bus here really meant you couldn’t afford a car and that’s it. It was a thick, bright line that I had been hurtling towards for the past couple of years and now finally had crossed.

This is a pretty bourgie lament, I know, evein if my tax returns show that I live way below the poverty line. After all the judging I did on people driving beater cars, after my car started to look like a beater because I didn’t have money to take care of a couple of fender benders, tree sap on the hood, and a lost right wheel hubcap…here I was, riding back to my still kinda new neighborhood and too proud to ask when that stop was so I could hop off and trudge home.

I had been tracking where we were going on Google Maps and when I finally had the courage to jump off the bus, I was now over an hour away from home and still hadn’t recovered from the two mile death march o Wal-Mart. I stood under a street lamp and got an Uber home, a $5 ride. Later, I decided I would never take a bus back from school at night. Not too far from where I was standing, a kid had been shot in his car–in the afternoon. There I stood after midnight, by myself, surrounded by trees–walking in a new part of town in the night seemed like something I shouldn’t risk again.

The grossest ride I’ve taken so far reminded me of New Year’s Eve in Chicago. It was on a Wednesday evening, rush hour. My ride to the chorus wasn’t going to go, and I had stayed at work all day and took the buses to chorus practice. The first bus I took was full of students, with one in particular who had his head bowed over his water bottle. He tried to be covert but he puked into said water bottle. It reminded me of when I saw a guy puke into his bookbag on the blue line when I was heading back home in Chicago. Puke, outside of drinking at a bar, or being in an elementary school, seemed out of place. I really tried not to take this as an omen for my public transit life. Nothing has been as filthy since, and I hope that was just some frat boy who decided to drink too much during the day.

Waiting for the second bus, I was dressed for being in a car, not for sunset outside. I had a velvet blazer, a scarf, and a merino sweater and jeans. The wind was blowing pretty stiffly, and it’s February. The sun goes down and takes all the warmth with it. My hands could not get warm. The cold was spreading up my arms. There was a bus shelter, but it seemed to funnel in the cold air, not shield us from it.  I’m from Chicago–how can Floridian humidity and the cold (it was only in the 60s) made me feel like such a weak ass punk? I made my way to chorus and never really got warm for the three hours I was there. I only felt warm when I got home. I was prepared to Uber, but a friend took me home. That was two weeks ago.

Yesterday, I took the bus to my part-time job’s once a week, one hour meeting. I was lucky at an almost three hour trip took two and a half hours instead. The scariest part of that was walking a mile to the bus stop. Well, it was scariest in my mind. Looking at the map, 1.1 miles wasn’t what I wanted to do at 7am in the morning. I live in the hills so it’s no easy feat to walk around here. But this was mainly all downhill, through another subdivision. I took a picture of the sun with the fog in the trees. About 100 feet away from the bus stop, I smelled something that smelled like death. And it was death: the mushy, off-white guts of an armadillo on the side of the road. This bus took me to a superstop (like a mini terminal) not far from my house–maybe a ten minute drive. The next bus–and I almost got on the wrong one–took me downtown to the main terminal. The last bus took me to work where I have to walk another fifteen minutes. It was another beautiful day, in the 80s by the afternoon, with cool sea breezes. No Floridian humidity yet.

The day before, I tried to take the bus to work but it was so late that my connecting bus would have left already. I sat roasting in the sun for about 20 minutes. My t-shirt had two big sweat marks right under my bust that didn’t dry off until class time.

But yesterday, I took some pictures of spring springing forth: an azalea flower, a flowering tree, palm trees at the downtown bus terminal. I was trying to embrace the long ride back home as I froze on the bus. It was warm out, but I had to remind myself that Florida always has the a/c on, no matter what. I took the second bus to a town north of my home and then did what I was scared of always doing–I got on the wrong bus. This bus went north and west for an hour. I was already woozy from being up since 5am from nervousness and leaving the house at 7am for a 10am meeting. I had done this before, in Chicago. One night, on my way to a Bible study or some church group, I had ridden the purple line instead of the brown line, which meant I had to take the red line back to where I was and then take the brown line.

Anyway, it was still a lovely day, even though I was freezing on this bus, too. I lean against the large window and decided to look at the scenery. It looked less like The Truman Show and cookie cutter subdivisions, and more like Florida. I don’t even know what that means–I should have taken pictures like a tourist. Wild palm trees? Orange trees in yards? Houses with personality? The live oaks? The only house I remember was blue and white, Spanish inspired, and had tall cacti in the front.

It made me miss California and want to leave Florida, like I have been wanting to do since I moved down here almost three years ago.

I stayed on the bus, watching people get on and off, and I felt overdressed. I had dress pants, a t-shirt (Threadless), and a cardigan on. There were people who were leaving the first shift of jobs and heading to the second shift of other jobs. Because I had been on this loop, I saw one guy from Winn-Dixie get off and his girlfriend, who also worked at Winn-Dixie, that he pecked on the lips get on the bus. She had a lot of black hair clips holding down her hair. On the loop back to my neighborhood, we picked up a lot of kids from school. I had been listening to Kaskade the whole time, so I jammed my earbuds into my ears and turned up the volume since these boys didn’t know how to use their inside voices.

Finally, I got off the bus, wondering if the bus driver thought I was some weirdo who liked riding buses. I realized after he had jerked to a stop that I have started to get carsick while being on buses. I was used to controlling my own horizons, my own speed. Buses felt like rude awakenings with first-time drivers who weren’t used to the brakes yet.

This bus stop was on the other side of a very busy four lane road that I hated driving across because it has steep hills that cause blind spots. All over town, with white crosses and colorful silk flowers, there are so many memorials of pedestrians who have been killed here. I did not want to become a white cross. It took a couple of minutes as cars hurled themselves down the hill. The closest crosswalk was downhill and then I would have to go uphill, again, to my subdivision. And I wasn’t going to do that. I had left work at 11:15am and returned home at around 3:30pm.

***

It’s been about one month and counting without a car. When I first gave it up, it seemed like something I wouldn’t be able to live without. I’m surprised now at how quickly I’ve gotten used to not driving. This isn’t to say that I haven’t battled those inner demons of shame. It doesn’t mean that I like this at all. The 0.2. mile walk to the bus stop that comes every hour doesn’t feel great. I hate the walk to Winn-Dixie–especially the long climb back with food. Not having a car is more of a symptom of being poor, of not being as independent as I want. I’ve been trying to reframe this as a huge inconvenience, even though I haven’t spent nearly as much money as I would have with a car. But then again, I haven’t been going to church as much. School has been busy, but also, I don’t want to ask anyone for a ride.

I keep thinking of this Bible verse, which is really out of context, because this has nothing to do with age. The Gospel of John, chapter 21, verse 18, and Jesus says the following:

Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.

It’s the last part that gets to me: that I’m being taken where I do not wish to go. I do not wish to go on two to three hour bus trips when it used to only take me thirty minutes in a car. I do not wish to wait for an on-demand driver. I do not wish to have to move again next month to God knows where. I do not wish to try to figure out how to get the boxes that I moved with Bluebelle into storage and move them back here to pack up and move again.

Maybe, for me, that verse should read, and when you become poor, you will stretch out your hands, and someone will take your belt from around you, and you will go wherever you can find some place to lay your head.

I know that even in Chicago, people would take public transit all over the city, a much bigger city, with the same sorts of stories, two to three hour commutes because public transit was lacking in their neighborhoods. Looking back, I would balk at taking two trains and a bus from the northside to the southside and it took a whole hour. How luxurious that sounds now. Just an hour?

So. It’s not about the car, per se. It’s about knowing that my safety net still has gaping holes, that I’m not sure who I could sing the whole Golden Girls theme song to, or who would sing it to me (that’s the local loneliness); that I feel very vulnerable on the bus and walking down the street now; that I have an expensive large piece of paper and a thesis that needs to be revised and published so that I can prove to myself didn’t come down here just so I could lose my home and car and a lot of my dignity and a bit of my soul’s softness.

There’s something about having your hierarchy of needs fucked with on a daily basis. There’s a sort of despair that clings to your spirit like stale cigarette smoke, that you feel like only death can cure. Before I moved down here, I’ve had some lean months, but not lean years, and I never had lost my housing. But I had been through some pretty ridiculous, insane things, things I felt were worth writing about. So that’s why I came down here, in a town with one of the lowest per capitas, to tell that story to kids who didn’t care and didn’t get it.

I’m 99% sure my situation is temporary, even though it’s been a journey through the circles of hell for the past two years. That makes me feel like a weak ass punk even writing about this. There are people here who have hustled their whole lives. Maybe losing the car was a last straw for me. I had been too hopeful for my time here–tacitly hopeful about how the American Dream would be realized in my life. I was used to making goals and, well, eventually, things working out. I would have never made it through college if I didn’t hold onto hope. The utter almost-disaster that my life has become is unrecognizable to the woman who looked down from Chicago with unsullied hope in her heart. I’d find my people. I could take care of myself. Someone would be looking out for me.

Instead, I got sent on a magical mystery spiritual quest. The worse my circumstances are, the more spiritual I become. I would not be in a church community if I had found my writing community or the love of my life, if things had gone. There would be no reason to search for more. I can’t say that I’m very happy about this, though. Just trying to do that whole “silver lining” thing that people tell you to do when you’ve had bad things happened to you. I’m sure it’ll pay off some day.

Not to say that being poor is the way to spiritual salvation. I am no nun and I took no vow. Poverty fucks with your head and your soul in a way that no one should have to experience. I knew that as a social worker over a decade ago. I knew that even more when I had my own social worker at in grad school, right before I lost housing the first time. Just because I grew up middle class doesn’t make poverty any more poignant or compelling. It just makes it more commonplace.

***

Funny enough, when I first moved down here, I had wanted to take the buses here and write about my experiences, but I could never find the time to do it. Just looking at the bus routes on Google Maps freaked me out. Three hours to get to school from my house? It was an exercise in gratitude, that I only had to drive 30 minutes and try to find parking in time, but still be late for class. Well, I got my wish. Yay?

As I write this, I’m watching the fifth season of The Wonder Years and Kevin Arnold is talking about how having a car means freedom. Soon, as I should have done in the first place, but didn’t have the wherewithal or the courage to do so, I’ll get some beater car that can get me to St. Pete. I’ll check out the Dali museum and see another sun set over the Gulf. I’ll go to work and back in one piece. I’ll have a full-time job or some other part-time job. I’ll drive to visit my friends in Atlanta, or drive to Tampa to see the Bears beat the Bucs. I’ll just be so grateful to drive.

To go wherever I wish to go.