remembering where I’m headed

It’s Virgo season, which means a lot of us are examining and scrutinizing the details of our lives, seeing where we can enhance and improve.

And sometimes, that can be quite annoying without the right perspective.

Personally, I had a very needed reminder from the full moon in Cancer, New Year’s Day, 2017, of who I’ve become and where I’m headed.

And I only thought of this because I got a little sidetracked in a brief moment of sadness and longing.

This morning, I childhood friend of mine had posted this beautiful picture of a frittata that she had made for her and one of her best friends for her bachelorette getaway. This childhood friend is a newlywed herself.

First of all, she’s a great cook (and has her sun in Cancer), but she’s also just a great nurturing friend–one that I had to leave when we moved back when I was eight years old.

So seeing her Instagram post doubly stung. We’d never be that close because I had moved. But also, someone was getting married. Usually, I don’t care about people getting married. I had been pretty OK with being a singleton lately.

But I think the combo of a lovely family friend and her closer friend and the early morning made me more vulnerable and fragile than usual.

Back to last year…I had been frustrated on my practically non-existent dating life, but I had this revelation about where I had been for most of my life. I had been a staunch evangelical and if I had settled down and married years ago, I’d be looking at some divorce.

It’s almost as if the Universe knew I’d be someone else entirely different–someone much more like myself.

I know this blog has been about that very transition, from evangelical to, I guess, spiritualist. But it’s been a very Virgo time–it’s been about the minutia and details of what’s been going on.

Specificity is great for story, but then what is the bigger story being told here?

So after that reflex of pain that I had looking on Instagram, I had to remind myself of who I am now and what the real story is about.

Yes, most of my suffering has been financial. This month in particular is a trigger. Four years ago, I was sent packing after not being able to pay rent and losing my job. I went on a month-long adventure across the metro area via airbnb.

Sidenote: I started this blog right before I had to leave, so it’s been a record of meandering and instability. You could say that all these troubles have been an initiation.

Although I’m mostly healed from that experience of leaving a crazy home and being quasi-homeless, it’s not something I want to go through again.

This year is the first year where I even remembered that terrible time. And it’s also the first time in years that I’ve really felt unsettled and, frankly, scared of what’s going to happen to me.

At the same time, this blog hasn’t just been about all the suffering over my misfortune, heartache, and betrayals. It’s been about:

growth

And as I said last time, things are better, but it’s still really scary. I got a call today that I didn’t answer about a bill that’s past due. It put me in the worst mood, like it 2014 again, except I’m carless. So it took a lot–although it was really just listening to music–to not spiral into a catastrophizing fit.

And sometimes, spiraling is a way to cope. But it’s not a coping mechanism that was helping me today.

The dark fantasy: I will be homeless and ruined.

The stark reality: the bill will probably get paid this week and in the next two weeks, things will be stable again.

And here’s the thing about poverty–it limits your focus and your gaze. You’re reduced to worrying about things that may never happen, having Sophie’s choices over bills and your wellbeing, and being a walking a ledger sheet of money coming in and going out.

So yeah, I have a lot of compassion for myself here. Even when I look at this blog, I see the uncarryable weight of not having enough money and not having local people around to support me. And I’ve seen how I keep fighting to not have this myopic view, even if I sound terribly whiny and bratty.

Well, fuck it–I don’t care anymore about how I sound or how I may seem to others. This is my journey, my fight, my life. And I thank you for bearing witness to it, week after week.

But what’s beyond all this? *makes wild gesticulations*

If I don’t spiritually bypass or somehow make sense all the terrible shit I’ve been through, I can simply say that I really am where I need to be, as a complete person.

I can say that the things I want and need–I may not be fully ready for them.

Yes, I want to have a bunch of girlfriends to celebrate an upcoming wedding with, but if I really had to be honest with myself, I’ve been transformed.

The woman who left to go on a journey of housing instability is now someone who is even more intentional about creating what she wants. She is someone who isn’t going to wait for circumstances to be right to start following my bliss.

And that took some big disappointments for me to get here.

So yeah, I have these major goals: I want to move out of state, grow my business, find my tribe, find my person, and explore the world. But right now, the way hasn’t been opened yet…although I can see a sliver of light on the darkened horizon…a way will be shown for those desires to come to fruition.

But then there’s an even bigger story: the journey of becoming and unfolding who I am. I pulled this card in a read from the Energy Oracle Card deck by Sandra Anne Taylor:

screenshot_20180909-121812_energy8828607193942416168.jpg

And this card signifies the spiritual journey I’m on. I’m going in the right direction and this place–the garden and the temple–this is where I’m headed. The lights are the spiritual support I have here on earth and beyond the veil.

The winding path has been what I’ve been focused on for so long, every little pebble and brick and weed growing in the cracks. But really, if I only lifted my head once in a while, I’d see where I was going–and how beautiful it is.

Yes, life is about the journey, not the destination. And I have been so tired of thinking about my soul’s growth–but this could also be about positioning.

That can be so tough to hear when you’re in a holding pattern. The stuckness may not be even a consequence of your actions.

It really could be that you’re on the right path. That yes, it’ll all make sense later.

Even though seeing a pretty egg dish post made me sad about where I am right now, it doesn’t mean I don’t deserve that dish, a friend to make that dish, or a celebration where that dish would be made.

It just means that if I’m here, then I’m supposed to be here.

And again–this can be, and for me has been, so hard to stomach and accept, but even five years ago, if I could see where I would be now–talking to you about astrology and tarot, about my soul’s growth, about oracle cards, about telepathy and kinds of connections with others, about all the synchronicities I see and keep seeing…there’s no way I could have known that this would happen–especially because of what I had gone through.

I had only reached out to other spiritual people–people who worked with crystals and angels and oracle cards–because I desperately needed help.

But truly–this life is what I wanted and needed.

Even though there’s a very bitter struggle just to support myself, I’m dwelling in this lush garden of me. Right now, there’s nothing and no one distracting me from hearing myself.

I’m creating businesses from practically nothing.

the magician

I still struggle to be grateful for it all because I feel like there could be so much more that I could be doing or being as a person.

One day, I’ll learn that surrender is so much easier than resistance.

But I was given a lot to heal from and sort through, including how I was raised. It never ceases to amaze me how much more parental stuff I have to work through because it’s warping how I see myself and the world. That’s part of the winding path I’m on.

So sure, where I’m headed are those goals I previously mentioned. Great goals, beautiful goals. But I’m also headed to a place where I can be more myself–more myself in ways I didn’t even know was possible or could ever even imagine.

I feel like I’m just babbling right now, but if I could sum up how I feel about it all, it’d be this in this fortune:

Everything serves to further

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Five Ways to Get from Here to There

harmony and peace SOM

I’ve written a lot in the past week, and if you’re a patron of my blog, then you read about the adventure I took last week. That’s all to say, I’m a little written out (and yet, I’m sure I’ll find the words for this week’s blog post!).

The original goal of this blog was to chronicle all the supernatural and spiritual phenomena that happens to me. That would have been a daily blog, honestly–it’s been too much to keep up with. And I feel very fortunate to say that. I was telling a friend the other day that I’ve gotten used to daily signs, so I’d be afraid if I suddenly wasn’t getting any signs.

One thing I’ve been learning while I’ve been seemingly stuck in a house with two older white men who are not in the best health, mentally or otherwise, is how to healthily detach from unhealthy situations.

That wasn’t really the goal, though.

Usually, my goal in a tough circumstance, is to get out of it ASAP. I think that’s how most people are. But a lot of times, we can’t, for whatever reasons.

A lot of times, we’re in transition from an undesirable place to a more desirable place.

So what should you do while you make this journey from here to there?

The very first thing to do is to accept where you’re at. And maybe this is where the somewhat annoying and inaccurate adage, “Suffering is optional” actually makes sense.

So much of life is really undefined, and lived on the way to somewhere. We get a glimpse ahead, and that’s about it. Only a step or two is illuminated ahead.

As you journey through life, trying to get to a more palatable place, there’s a point that complaining about where you’re currently at only drains and further depresses you. It only makes you feel more stuck.

Wishing you were somewhere else doesn’t get you to somewhere else any quicker.

Accepting where you’re at is also a way to assess things more rationally.

Sometimes acceptance involves a lot of investigation.

Have I done all I can within these circumstances? Are these barriers systemic? Is it worth the energy to pursue this path?

While I was away, I had a convo with my friend about my housing situation, and it just dawned on me how white culture of keeping up appearances is why things haven’t changed around here, after months of complaints.

The landlady and the other guy I call the shut-in–they both have told me that they want the creep gone. But if you saw their interactions with him, you’d never know it. They are chipper and cheerful, accommodating and welcoming.

Ultimately, they enable someone who is a narcissist, with poor boundaries and entitlement issues, actively psychotic, and, ultimately–just an unkind and selfish person.

So really, that’s really something I can’t fight against–at least by myself. Really, the only remedy is to leave–which is exactly what I was working on last week, and for the past few months.

Once you accept where you’re at, then you can make plans for change.

Now that you have a better sense of where you’re at, what you’re capable of, what your resources are, then planning for change is a lot easier. But even then, there could be bigger things going on than you can see or perceive.

Like, you know…your spiritual growth. No, really.

Financially, I always have just enough to stay here and pay my bills. It’s madness, because my expenses are very low. Like I know how to make money…or so I thought.

I don’t want to get into the woo-woo/metaphysics about why I’m a bit stuck, because that involves, in my opinion, a lot of self-blame. And I think a lot of it just doesn’t take into consideration societal influences. It assumes a lot of white privilege.

Some of the stuckness has happened because that freelancing is hard, period. I keep kind of saying this plaintively (it’s pretty whiny), that I didn’t sign up for the freelance life. But I’ve realized that whether I signed up for it or not, I need to start treating it as something that isn’t going to go away for a while.

So I may as well make the best of it.

Making the best of it involves ridding myself of ignorance. Freelancing is a business. I have my own business now. So I’ve been learning the business side more in the past few weeks. I’ve had to be patient with myself because I want to rush ahead and get to the better place–not only because I learn quickly, but because–well, poverty sucks.

And some of it is just bad luck–I lost a major client a few weeks ago, and things haven’t improved since then, which brings me back to the first point: freelancing is hard.

And there’s just the obvious barriers that I don’t even think about–race and gender. I don’t think about them much at all since they aren’t things I can change. But I know they play into this mess a lot.

Because of the stuckness and a real lack of momentum, I’ve had to dig deep spiritually. I hate to use the cliché, “grow where you’re planted,” but…ta da, that’s me.

I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten where I need to be spiritually. I’m closer, though…

When you accept where you’re at, you’re better able to see what you can push back against and what you need to work around.

When I came back from my adventure last week, I had already discovered that all my clothes reeked of cigarette smoke, so I wasn’t surprised that my room smelled terribly of cigarette smoke. It’s something I will eventually mention to this lazy landlady.

I was so disgusted that I also decided to investigate and see if legal action was an option. And as I had suspected, really, it’d be so much cheaper and easier to move.

Through all of that, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually would. Even though absolutely nothing has changed circumstantially, I have some deep, (hopefully) lasting peace.

So when things don’t change circumstantially, after taking more traditional courses of actions, usually that means there’s something bigger here to learn or grow in/through/beyond. 

I’m not happy to be here, nor am I happy to learn these lessons in this way. But at the very least, knowing that there’s something bigger and better happening here, it makes it easier to not GAF about whatever the creep is doing or not doing.

It’s easier to not take this personally. It’s easier to focus on what makes me happy, right now.

And then it’s easier to use the energy I’d use fretting and internally raging to focus on where I want to go next.

As I make that shift in my perspective, I’m really tired emotionally. And I have to figure out what will fill me back up. I caught up TV shows like The Good Fight and The Americans. I haven’t had much space for emotionally intense dramas. TV really isn’t an escape when it only reminds you how hard your own life is.

It’s also shifting focus, from survival mode to…”You know what? I am capable of leaving here, with my sanity and dignity in tact.”

And that takes time.

Even what I’m listing out here, I wouldn’t call it a linear process. Acceptance is not a one-shot deal. It’s a daily practice. Assessing your situation happens on a continual basis.

Even if you’re in some unbearable holding pattern, you have to have faith that things will change. Whether it’s by your own hand, or divine intervention (it’s usually a combination of the two), change is coming.

Change is always coming.

It’s hard to keep the faith when you feel emotionally tapped, but you have to start to look at what’s going on around you. There are signs.

For example, the more spiritual practices that I do, it seemed like things actually got worse here. The worsening wasn’t some sign to stop doing what I was doing. To me, it was a sign to keep going.

It’s like in a video game, when you’re trying to beat the boss, and right before he dies, he gets really desperate and will try everything to stop you from beating him. It can be almost wildly dangerous right before they are beaten.

Things got worse here when I asserted boundaries. They continued to worsen as I kept asserting my boundaries.

But I’m not going to stop. Having healthy boundaries is great and necessary.

And that part, to me, is done. There’s not much else that is going to change unless the creep decides to leave out of his own free will.

There’s no more reason to push, to be attached to these people.

Now I have to look forward.

Maybe the deliverance will be conventional–I’ll find a client that pays more than the former one. Or I’ll find a new full-time job.

Or maybe it’ll be unconventional. I’ll get an invitation to do something or to go somewhere.

Or it could a mix of both. Who knows?

What helps here is to get curious about what happens next.

Doom and despair can leave you feeling like the road stretched out before you never ends, never changes. It’s the seemingly never-ending hellscape scenery.

But, it’s not really true. And this isn’t even me talking about having some gratitude exercise or appreciate every good thing in life.

Sometimes, we just don’t have the space for that. So, maybe, you can just think: I wonder how tomorrow will be different. Who will I talk to? What will I learn? What will I experience?

This practice of curiosity has kept me alive. As a writer, I see myself in this story, as the main character, and I want to know what happens next to me.

When will she finally get out of this house? What job lead is going to pan out? Will she ever get her HEA? Who is she going to meet this year?

How will she be different a month from now? Six months? A year? Five years?

I keep picturing myself like some spiritual Houdini, like I’ve put myself in a straitjacket, hung myself upside down, in a water tank. The water is rising and I’m just wriggling, wriggling, wriggling, trying to free myself.

No pressure. ALL PRESSURE.

So. I’m here, with three people, including the grandmother who lives in the mother-in-law suite next door.

They are all living the twilight of their lives. Probably the next place they will live is in a nursing home…or hospice.

And that’s when I feel the doom and the hopelessness starting to rise. It’s scary to think that nothing will change, that I will be stuck here in this de facto old folks’ home, barely scraping by. They are so much closer to the end of it all. And I feel like I just started, at age 40.

Spiritually, I feel like I have endured and fought so much fucking nonsense to get to this space of…I get it. I finally get it.

I know what matters to me. I know what I’m about. I know what kind of people I want around me. I know what I’d want my family to look like. I know where I want to live and grow and thrive.  I know how to keep better boundaries.

I know. I know. I know. And life is so short. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time…waiting, fighting, longing…

And I’m ready to apply this knowledge, to leave what so many call “God’s Waiting Room.”

My time has not yet come.

So sometimes, the suffering comes from feeling like there is so much more out there for me, and that these old folks are somehow in the way of my happiness.

It’s so easy to be angry, hurt, and sad–for very practical reasons. This housing situation is frighteningly and unreasonably absurd.

But then again, it’s also just the way it is. I can accept and even embrace the absurdity of living with someone who looks like the grim reaper.

Ultimately, the real question is this: do I want to give these people any power over me?

And the real answer is: no.

Eventually, I just have to say, and repeatedly say to myself, these people don’t matter, at all. What matters is me and my happiness.

The only harmony and peace found here will be within my own heart.

And that journey, even before I leave here, is the most important one I need to take right now.

So acceptance, assessment, allowing growth, planning, and curiosity…those are the things that are finally sustaining me as I journey to a better place. And I hope they will sustain you, as you travel from here to there.

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hell is living with other people

four male roommates SOM

I’ve been burning a candle all day.

I had a crazy incident that happened on Friday here at home that made me think about all the awful roommates I’ve had and how I hope this is the last awful roommate I have.

So let’s take a trip back to the last century to start our journey through bad roommates and living situations.

Get cozy and buckle up–this will be a long trip.

Edited to add (6/17/18): I actually had forgotten an incident that happen before this first incident, “Condom in the Bowl”–it was during the summer between my second and third years.

The Nightmare Subletting Roommate

I sublet a room from an acquaintance, an apartment close to the University of Chicago Hospitals. I’m sure that building is gone since the hospital has expanded.

The other roommate was a Ghanaian grad student. I don’t remember his name. I just remember that he had a 10-speed with these bright colored handles.

I’m going to keep this short because this is far in the recesses of my mind, and this was a really traumatizing experience, living with a psychopath.

Besides not having any a/c in my room, this guy was a nightmare. He wrote a letter to the Dean of Students about me, and she wrote me back chiding me. I wasn’t on university property at the time and she didn’t even ask for my side of the story.

He also extorted money from me, claiming that I didn’t clean up enough. So I remember walking to the gym on campus with a male friend to make sure I wasn’t hurt or shaken down for more money.

Condom in the Bowl

This was back in college in Chicago, my third year, 1999-2000, I believe. It’s a little hazy because I was under major financial stress and suffering from clinical depression–and yes, the two were related.

In my apartment/dorm, that year we got stuck with this random redhead girl who had her boyfriend, Orion, over a lot. She didn’t live in my bedroom.

(Funny how I remember the boyfriend’s name (it’s my favorite constellation) and not this girl’s name.)

Anyway, I vaguely remember most of this time for a few reasons. 1)  I’ve probably blocked all this out. 2) Clinical depression can erase a lot of your long-term memory. 3) This was almost 20 years ago.

So yeah, she was just inconsiderate and we couldn’t take it. I don’t even know if someone was living in my room that year. Probably not.

Anyway, her roommate came into my room one day, and I played the music up real loud so we could talk about how awful she was. The redhead girl said something to us about it later, but the behavior didn’t really end.

Near the end of the school year, I remember there was a large mattress in our living room, and it was the redhead girl’s. Granted, I and the other suitemate were so busy, I rarely hung out in the living room, but it was, at least, a full-sized mattress, if not a queen-sized one.

The redhead girl didn’t ask if it was OK for her to have that there. The mattress just appeared one day.

What is probably the grossest thing that’s ever happened to me was when I was looking for a cereal bowl that I used (and owned).

I found it in her room, with a used condom in it.

I am pretty sure I tore her a new one. She fumbled with her apologies, but at the same time, she seemed to not fully understand how gross it was to have something that was on her boyfriend’s dick, and inside of her, in something that we ate from.

I didn’t throw the bowl out, though. I scrubbed it hard with hot water and maniacally washed it multiple times. Oddly, I was somehow still attached to the bowl–it was one I brought from home.

So yeah, I still have the bowl in storage, which I guess makes me gross. I think I wanted to keep the bowl because I didn’t want to let this person’s inconsideration win.

But now that I’ve told you this story, I will throw it out the next time I can get a hold of it (if I even still have it…).

Three Capricorns

I had to move out of the dorms and got kicked out of college because of family upheaval (my dad’s bipolar disorder was strangling my family) which left me with a $5000 unpaid tuition bill.

I moved from Hyde Park up north to Logan Square and lived with two older people who were in their early 30s, a man and a woman, both with early January birthdays. It was a nice, spacious apartment, on a tree-lined boulevard, with the landlord living upstairs.

The woman was a spoiled brat, a bully, and had a bit of a coke habit. I don’t think she had a job. She just went to this bar in Bucktown a lot. I almost thought she worked there. For income, I think she just lived off of a settlement of when she got doored while riding her bike.

Anyway, I learned of her coke habit the first time when we had our first joint Capricorn birthday party.

In my mind’s eye, she was dancing in the dining room, or was near the turntable, and she had such glassy eyes. She was really loud–a little too loud even for a party. Either she or the male roommate told me that she had done an 8-ball. It’s probably the first time I had seen someone high on cocaine.

I should mention that we all paid the same rent for rooms of differing sizes. The cokehead had the master bedroom which included its own bathroom. It was massive. It could have been its own little studio apartment.

The male roommate, an IT guy, and I were pretty decent friends. I can’t remember how we got fed up with the cokehead, but we decided to stage a coup when our lease was up for renewal.

We talked to our landlord and made sure that she was going to pay a larger amount of the rent. I think we made it go up 50 percent or something like that, but it was fair because her room was at least 50 percent larger than ours.

So we came back down with our new lease which stated the new terms. Right before we confronted the other roommate, the male roommate told me how, one time when I wasn’t home, she had been in the living room with her coke dealer, with coke all over the glass coffee table. It was right before his parents were coming over.

That sealed my fate in my absolute disgust of this person. I was still a Christian and although I knew she also smoked pot, which I was still a little wary of at the time, having hard drugs in my house was a no-no.

Soon after that revelation, we told her about it in the living room. She fucking lost her shit.

“Oh, look at you getting all emotional, huh? You’re so emotional!” she said, eyes wide with anger, standing over me. It’s the kind of things that bullies say to make you feel small, to rile you up.

And, although I was seething on the inside, I didn’t let it show that much. She was the only one getting emotional. We just stared back and said that she had to pay her share or she needed to move out.

So she did.

Then I moved into the master bedroom and the other roommate used my old bedroom as an office. It was just the two of us until I moved back down to Hyde Park to finish my BA. I would have actually kept commuting the hour it took but the male roommate started to get a little creepy when he was drunk.

Honorable mention: the female roommate had a cat which I called P. Kitty because she pissed, pooped, and puked everywhere. She was also blind and kept banging into walls and poles and things.

Pathetic kitty.

The Perfect Roommate Vanishes

When I returned back to college, I made friends with this woman in my acting class. She was a fun, preppy girl who probably liked cursing a lot like I did. I don’t really remember much about her.

We decided to room together in an apartment Hyde Park and we got to the point that we were going to sign the lease, and she just ghosted

I called and emailed, multiple times. I never heard from or saw her again. It left me in the lurch because I was definitely moving out and could not move back to Logan Square–I even asked. My room was gone.

I wonder now, just having thought about it, if her parents didn’t want her living with a black woman. I believe she also was from a very wealthy, famous Chicago family. Who knows?

A Child and an Adult

So, I was sent scrambling to find a new roommate. I found this 20-year-old woman in what I called–and I’m not proud of calling it this–the Ghetto Twin Towers. It was an old towering apartment complex on the northern side of Hyde Park, right next to an overpriced luxury apartment complex.

She was OK except when I was working the door at the school’s pub. She wanted me to let her in just because we were roommates. We were not friends. I refused. I was not going to get in trouble for some somewhat spoiled girl. And that she didn’t ask me at home made me livid that I, a 26-year-old woman, would risk her job and whatever else so she could go get drunk.

Unsurprisingly, she was upset although she understood. I was glad to move from there after I had graduated college in August 2004.

Tossed My Cookies

Fast forward three years to 2007. I had had a few good roommate years and then a chunk of time where I lived by myself in a 3-bedroom apartment before the new owner decided to tear down the 2-flat in order to build a McMansion in Lakeview.

After that, I had to move out and I went from zero roommates to three roommates in a four-bedroom apartment in Wicker Park. I lived with women from church, all women of color. Astrologically, we had two Capricorns, a Cancer, and an Aquarius. Pretty good for a while.

The Cancer is who I called Huggy Monster. Very loving and caring. The Capricorn was also a good friend. We had our battles over my dried-out oatmeal bowls and over her being a little too whiny and needy–but that was it.

For the most part, it was all pretty chill.

That summer, I had to get knee surgery to repair my torn meniscus and they were all very helpful. The Cancer took me to PT and my doctor’s appointments (she was the only one with a car).

My mom, with whom I have a touch-and-go relationship with, sent me two gallon-sized ziplock bags of cookies she had made me–ginger crinkles (think: ginger snaps but a little sweet and chewier).

I left them out for me and my roommates to share, because there were just so many. I was happy to share with people who had helped me recover from surgery and with people I cared about.

My Capricorn friend is a bit of an epicurean. She had a ritual of eating the cookies with her tea. She loved how flavorful they were. The Cancer friend didn’t eat that many. Out many, I don’t know, 50 cookies, I had maybe a few. My Capricorn friend had a few.

The Aquarian fitness freak had eaten the rest.

If you looked at her, you’d think, she wouldn’t even be interested in having cookies. She was probably the skinniest out of all of us. Fitness obsessed (she still is).

But she had bulimia.

I was crushed because my mom and I really weren’t on speaking terms, but I knew that this meant something–for her to take the time to make cookies for me and my friends. Even though I’m still sure she’s a narcissist, I felt at the time this was a good faith attempt to show love and care.

The Aquarius and Capricorn lived downstairs and shared a bathroom. The Capricorn was very particular of how clean she wanted her room and her bathroom. She complained to me and the Cancer about how the bathroom was not being kept well, for…reasons.

Later that year, I decided to have an intervention with the other roommates about her behavior, not only because she wasted my mom’s cookies on her illness and didn’t really apologize, but because it was infuriating the Capricorn.

And, truly–we were worried about her health.

Nothing changed.

So we lived together for only a year. And, for the most part, it was great, except for the tossed cookies.

The Nomadic Years

After the four of us parted ways–and I can’t even remember why, but I’m sure the constant vomiting didn’t help–I was lucky to find a one-bedroom apartment through my ex who had to leave for Italy to start his professorship after having graduated grad school. So for the next four years, I lived, for the most part blissfully, by myself in Rogers Park.

I moved to Florida for grad school and lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment for about 16 months until the unpaid summer months caught up with me, and I had to downsize and move in with a classmate, her friend, her friend’s daughter, their unemployed friend, and their unruly dog.

I ended up paying her part of the unemployed friend’s rent, which I tried to speak up about, but it was either this or homelessness. The classmate was cool, but the house was a mess. The house was pretty messy for having someone around who wasn’t working (and smoking pot, and yes I’m judgy af about this).

The HBIC (head bitch in charge), I’ll call her, with the daughter, was also in grad school. I’m pretty sure the HBIC’s daughter was gifted, but on the very forgetful/absent-minded side.

Even as I write this, I remember joking that I would write about this living experience with my classmate, which she said, “Oh, no no no! Don’t do that!”

Sorry, not sorry.

As I was leaving the house to get to my airport shuttle van, the unruly puppy who had no training ran out of the house and was almost hit by a car. The neighbor who almost hit him was frightened. I was frightened. It took a few minutes to get him back inside.

I was livid.

So besides paying for someone who was unemployed and then underemployed and not really contributing to the house, and the unruly dog–my classmate, who was mostly cool, was a bit of a bitch and I called her out on it during a trip to a writer’s conference (which is why I was getting an airport shuttle).

I don’t think she liked that I did it in front of her friend, but she was making fun of me taking apart my burger and comparing me to her friend’s daughter.

We were not close like that. To mock me a privilege, not a right.

I was not happy and I retorted back something, can’t remember.

Besides her being a little sullen at dinner, I remember her yelling at me later in the hotel room. I don’t remember what I said back.

I hate being yelled at, especially by bullies. I just inwardly shut down. So, I was pretty much done with her after that. I may not have shown it–she and another friend were the only two who came to my thesis defense–but she was dead to me, as was the rest of the household.

Meanwhile, HBIC was delusional about the state of our relationship. She thought taking me in and letting me in on some of kinda not well-cooked meals she made was enough to make up for me paying for her friend. I’m sure she saw me as a charity case instead of saving that whole household from getting kicked out because they couldn’t pay rent.

Near the end of my time in that house, she said that if I was ever in Chicago, that I should call her so she could ride up from wherever the bumblefuck she was going to be teaching in Illinois.

Smile and nod, smile and nod.

I deleted her phone number instead.

We parted ways sometime in the summer, and I had found a full-time job as a grant writer, but the pay was abysmal. The expectations for productivity were ridiculous and would have involved taking my work home without pay.

Unsurprisingly, I got fired a little after I had defended my thesis and moved into this room with a crazy Pisces lady and her itinerant bratty Capricorn daughter–an aspiring sort of, kind of actress who split her time in LA and here.

It was a nice home, I guess, like in an outdated, overly cushy, bland and beige way. But I never go to even go in the pool because this was going to be a very short stay at this place.

Along with living with an emotionally unstable woman who was still grieving her divorce from a narcissist, and her incessant need for emotional reassurance and comfort, there were two things that stuck out from that three-month experience.

1) A guy who used to live in one of the rooms left literal shit on the bathmat. So, I take that back–this may have been the most disgusting thing that I’ve experienced living with other people. I had to toss it in the toilet and wash the bathmat. The landlady was horrified.

2) Having to leave because I was unemployed and broke was terrible. I couldn’t find work quickly enough. So we came up with some notarized agreement at a bank, along with her now somehow-on-her-mom’s side daughter, for me to leave at a certain time. Before that, her ex-husband that she hates came by to talk to us–ironically, he seemed to be the rational one between them. It was pretty humiliating.

This started a couple of months of homelessness via crashing at a friend’s place whose cousin who didn’t want me sticking around too long (I’m going to assume racism again, because there was no reason otherwise. She said she didn’t feel safe.), and then driving around the metro area via Airbnb, getting money from my mom at Walmart.

Thankfully, I had picked up some work right before I left the Pisces hellscape, but it was part-time and not enough. I spent my days in coffee shops, working and looking for work and the next place to live.

The scariest time I had on the Airbnb circuit was living a few days in this place that was not too far from the place that had fired me a few months prior. It was a dump of a house, but it was a place to lay my head–hopefully safely.

I had decided to burn some sage for protection one evening. Little did I know that this would be a prescient move.

The next morning, around 7am or so, I wake up to yelling downstairs, a combination of Spanish and English.

It was the cops.

There was a guy who was staying in the room next to me–I don’t think I ever saw him, only heard him come in and out. The officer was banging on his door loudly, yelling for him to come out. The weekend before, cops had shot up a nightclub downtown, killing someone, so I was under the covers, shaking in terror as I hear the blood thumping in my ears.

Apparently, the guy owed back child support and his ex found out where he was living.  So he went with the officer without any fuss. The owner/Airbnb host, some Eastern European guy, was completely and repeatedly apologetic, but I just decided to not re-up my stay and try to find another place to stay.

At the time, I had been going to church and was involved in a book club of sorts. The two women who lead the group at their home took pity on me while I was trying to find the next place I was going to stay for the next few days, and let me stay for a month.

But between one of the women, who I think just wanted her house back, and the associate pastor with whom I was seeking counsel, they basically pushed me in the home of an abusive Capricorn woman.

So in November 2014, I moved to the west side of town and lived with an attorney that I met at church. We had a lot in common, since I had a background in child welfare and she was involved with helping kids (she may be a guardian ad litem?)

I lived upstairs and had two rooms and a bathroom to myself. She seemed nice, but within a week, she decided to raise the rent–I don’t think it was that much, but it was still an insane, unprovoked move. I can’t even remember the reason anymore. I think she just felt disrespected or something. It’s hard to keep track of people’s irrationalities.

I had decided to seek legal counsel to see if that was legal. It definitely wasn’t, but then it wasn’t worth the legal costs to try to take this up in court. She took offense to that, that I had decided to stick up for myself, and felt threatened.

I don’t think I was grateful enough to her or something, because paying rent wasn’t enough. But even at the time, I could see how she was a fearful woman and was easily threatened over nothing at all.

The associate pastor was the one who hooked us up and she never apologized for putting me in harm’s way. After I had to give up my car that February, I stopped going to church. I didn’t want to go to a church with someone who made my home life chaotic and didn’t care about my wellbeing.

I also didn’t want to go to a church where a pastor couldn’t show any empathy over the situation she had helped cause. I don’t think I’m that bitter about it now–it’s been almost three years. But it made church seem like a joke to go to–just a lot of lip service.

Sidenote: this has nothing to do with roommates, but being homeless. I had been going to a weekly prayer session at church, because I needed it. One of the church leaders and I were walking to our respective cars, and I had plastic bins of my clothes in the backseat.

“Oh my gosh, what do you have there? So many clothes! It’s like your homeless or something.”

“Well, I am,” I said.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry,” she said. “I was just joking around. I had no idea.”

But again–lip service. Besides shoving me into an abusive situation, people could only offer places for me to live by myself, not necessarily to live with them. And not that’s something I’m entitled to, but I do think white American empathy has its limits, especially when it comes to black people. It’s one of the hard lessons I learned while I was bopping around the city, trying to find some stability.

OG Landlady, Sir Coughs-a-Lot, and that person

Because the girlfriend of the attorney was moving in, she decided it was time to kick me out. So I left in April 2015 and moved to the east side of town. My stuff is still in storage on the other side of town.

This home is near where I had started to work part-time as a technical writer while teaching at a community college. I had to go on food stamps at this time, too. I don’t even think I could call this scraping by.

The original owner of this house was seemingly nice, has my mother’s name, which I saw as a sign. I should have seen it as a sign to look elsewhere.

Still, it was a good fit–at the time. It’s a cheery yellow home, surrounded with flowering trees and bushes. Right now, it’s kind of sad how ugly it is around here, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This is about roommates!

The roommates I had were an old man who was the father of the man who lives in the mother-in-law suite, who also was like the property manager of sorts.

The other roommate was a woman from Chicago. We had the same phone number except for the last four digits. Another sign. But she moved out soon afterward to live with relatives to save money.

The roommate who moved into her room and is still there is who I call the shut-in, a divorced retiree who drives for ride-sharing companies. I rarely see him. He doesn’t do anything around the house in terms of cleaning, so that’s my only complaint about him. I think it’s because he really hasn’t known life on his own. But hey, he’s taken me to and from the airport a few times. So that’s something.

The old man, with whom I got along well (I even helped him with his algebra homework once), moved into a retirement community a few months later and a young pothead dude with a hearing impairment moved in briefly. I almost forgot about him.

He actually moved into the office area before he moved into the old man’s room. He was fine besides the pot. And then he just disappeared. Left stuff and never came back. I know the man in the MIL suite had said something about contacting his employer, who was hoping this would be a stable place for him.

He threw out his stuff and soon, another old man, probably closer to middle aged, moved in. He was a car salesman, quite genial, shaped like Santa Claus. But he was one of those guys you can tell has a slight chip on his shoulder.

As if life should have been better than moving into some random house with some random black woman and another guy he never sees. As if life should have better than working at a job he hates, and when he leaves his job, he has to come back to no one. One of those guys who would vote for the current president out of desperation and spite.

(Someone must have because we used to get mail from the Tainted Tangelo during the 2016 election period.)

We used to chit-chat every once in a while, but nothing in-depth. One of the things that happens as a writer, though, is how people will tell you their aspirations about their own writing. And that happened with him–he wanted to write a screenplay with some sort of post-apocalyptic Christian rapture claptrap plot.

I just smiled and nodded as I thought, no one needs another Tim LaHaye. Left Behind was bad enough.

One time, he told me of this story of how he got catfished by some woman, complaining how she was basically old and fat, which is exactly what he was. I just stood at his door, bewildered and a little amused.

Soon, the landlady, whom I call OG Landlady (OG is for Ole Grandma), wanted to sell the home. I was relieved because she was a busybody. I found out later from our neighbors that no one really liked her. The family to our right said she’d get mad at them for having music playing in their yard. I’ve never heard music in the time I’ve lived here. The neighbor to the left said she was “nasty” and mean.

She had the house spruced up for sale and found buyers, the current owners. This young couple with two young kids embody all the things I hate about millennials, mainly needing to do everything via text and being altogether flaky and unreliable.

One of the stipulations for the sale of the house was that there needed to be a new roof. OG Landlady got some cheap roofing company. One of the workers stapled through the a/c cooling line, which plunged us into heat and humidity for over a day in the summer, while she was staying with us. She was cheap again and waited for some low-cost repair person.

She had been staying with us more and more as the house was being ready for sale, and she was using my things without permission. The man living in the MIL suite stuck up for me and told her that she was driving everyone crazy. She had some terribly poor boundaries.

So then after three tries, the house gets sold, and I discover we’re in the middle of an unspeakable pestilence that would take months to be rid of. And surprise, the owners were not on top of that at all. Took a lot of pestering to get them to move and call exterminators.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, the newest roommate had turned sullen and withdrawn. He stopped talking to us. Great, one less person to fake pleasantries with.

He had also developed a chronic cough that sounded like congestive heart failure or emphysema. The cough was so loud, I could feel the vibrations in my bed. So that’s when I called him Sir Coughs-A-Lot, because the coughing fits would last for minutes on end. At the very least, we got relief when he went to work.

His coughing got so bad, over Christmas 2016, he admitted himself in the hospital. He had started to wheeze where it sounded like the cough was collapsing in on itself. I saw the hospital bracelet on his arm after Christmas, but I didn’t say anything.

A couple of months after that, in the middle of the night, he moved out. He had already started packing, but I didn’t really put two and two together until I heard him leave. He didn’t say a word to either of us.

The millennial owners had been caught off guard. They got a phone call or text a couple of days later, saying he had moved out. They assured us they would bring someone nicer.

But they didn’t.

That brings me up to this past Friday.

I had to get a new phone when my phone crapped out on me while I was having my first call with my client. I was so mortified, even though I knew he was a good sport.

So no big deal, I have to get a new phone, a new case, a new screen protector. I’ve been through this before 4 times because of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 inferno. But unfortunately, I bought the wrong case. It was for the Samsung Galaxy S8+, not the Note 8.

So I repackage it and put it outside for UPS to pick up, taking off most of the label. They’d slap on a new one, but I didn’t want the driver to be confused.

I had a feeling that this was going to be a bad idea because that person would probably think it was a package and bring it back in. That was the worst of my worries.

That had happened, but it was worse.

I was in my room working and the shut-in knocks on my door, with his blindingly pale and hairy shirtless self.

“UPS is at the door for ya,” he said with his Bostonian accent, his wide blue eyes darting around.

“Oh, well I just left the package outside, that’s weird,” I said as I walked to the door with the shut-in. The UPS dude is standing there and is probably thinking I’m in some weird kinky set-up as a black woman living with two old white men.

I never think this when it’s a white guy. The UPS man was black.

The package was not on the marble plant holder by the door, where I had left it. It was on the dining room table, partially taped up with Scotch tape and some Sharpie scrawled message which I could only make out as sorry.

That person. The boarder that had been replaced by Sir Coughs-A-Lot, which neither I nor the shut-in was able to meet because he was picking me up from the airport after having helped a friend move from Miami to D.C.

I walked to the door again and apologized that I needed to retape this package because it had been torn up. I see that person in the driveway on his bike, looking at the scene that he had caused.

I open the padded mailer which had the phone case also taped up because the person tried to shove it back in.

There’s a slight chance that the grandmother who now lives in the mother-in-law suite did this, but she has a separate door and doesn’t speak English well.

So while I felt a little shaky with rage, I repackaged the damaged phone case package in an empty box I had laying around, taped it up, walked back to the UPS dude and apologized, saying this was out of my control.

I don’t think he gave a fuck either way. He gave me my tracking number and walked to his truck.

I closed the door and walked back to my room as that person said nothing while making coffee in the kitchen.

Later that day, I had the right case and other things delivered and he brought them to my door.

A pitiful penance.

Now What? (ramblings of the present and future)

Well, clearly, the Universe is trying to push me out the door. This incident happened when I requested some spiritual help about him last week. The service had ended the same day this had happened. So I’ve enlisted more of this help so I can keep him from me and leave.

So. Where to?

For now, I envision two moves–a local one and then a cross-country one. I’m trying not to stress out, but astrologically, the planet Uranus (a disruptive jack-in-the-box full of surprises), is still in my 4th house (which is about home and family).

Uranus has been in my 4th house since March 2011, so the whole time I’ve been in Florida has been one of housing upheaval and instability–including my bedroom flooding around this time one year ago.

Uranus will go into my 5th house (creativity, fun, romance, and children) in May of this year. It’ll dip back into my 4th house for a little while, in retrograde motion, and then stay in the 5th house for another seven years.

The cross-country move is one I don’t want to do, and having a moon and Jupiter in Cancer, I really like staying at home, being grounded.

This Uranian transit has been godawful. It definitely pushed me to find new spiritual depths. I wouldn’t be here even talking about astrology if I hadn’t gone through all the hell I’ve gone through. I learned about crystals, saging, and a whole lot more because I had to protect myself in my home.

I’ll uh…be grateful for this season sometime?…one day?

But the new and maybe (hopefully) final place–I wish I could talk about it. It’s been madness seeing all these signs pointing to one place since at least November, if not earlier.

These are daily signs–and most of the time, multiple times a day.

The Universe has never been this persistent with me about one place or one thing in my life.

The struggle is that since I hate moving, I don’t want to move twice. My practicality is crying out for some relief.

Yet I don’t know where the Universe is calling me next.

And besides leaving this hellhole, I don’t have any compulsion to leave this town, this state–even if other people see that happening for me.

Seeing signs isn’t enough for me. I’m not created to just take leaps of faith or to just go on a hunch.

And the Universe knows this. My only prayer is that where I am right now, with where my level of faith currently is, that it’s enough.

Lurking in the back of my mind, the only thing I’m scared of now is the thing I’m usually scared of, anyway: I’m not doing the right things, I’m not seeking the right answers, I’m doing anything at all.

But I have someone helping to be safe spiritually and to get an extra financial boost to leave.

So, that’s something.

The housing market here is terrible, which is why I am where I am now. I still have this Capricorn fear/burden that I have to figure this out on my own. Sifting through craigslist like I did last time seems like looking for a needle in the haystack.

Besides this home being another spiritual bootcamp for me, the only good thing that living here has helped me do is establish a stable rental history. In April 2018, it will have been 3 years, and I think that’s good enough.

What I really want is that this last story, of the freak opening of a package by a freak, is that I have told you the last story of bad roommates. Even writing this all out is a bit of a Hail Mary prayer of desperation for the insanity to end and for real healing and peace to begin.

The moon right now is currently in Cancer, which is where my moon is. It’s the sign where the moon is home in. If you know any Cancers, they are homebodies. They are nurturing (sometimes smothering!), emotional, intuitive, great cooks, rulers of their roosts. So it’s probably no coincidence that I wanted to write about home with this going on.

And, as I was talking to a Cancer friend, it takes a lot for Cancers and Taurus folks to leave home. I really would rather stay here until I am ready.

But the circumstances are showing that I am ready–or need to get ready, at the very least. I have more financial stability now–and I’m so grateful.

Moving is really going to be less about the hassle and more finding the right place for me at the right time.

And frankly, like all the other times I’ve been tossed and turned around this town, it will take some Divine intervention. I feel a little helpless, not that hopeless, but a lot more motivated to close this long, awful chapter of my life.

And maybe I won’t have to move twice. But what’s looming larger is that just as the Uranus transit is coming to a close this spring, my time in Florida is also coming to an end.

I don’t know how to get from here to there. And I don’t want to repeat being unsupported and alone in another town and state, to repeat having to endure things because I didn’t have enough money to be in a saner, safer place.

I’m a double Capricorn. I need reassurances. I need proof. I need a plan. I need something more than multiple coincidences.

I need an invitation. I need safe passage.

I told these stories somewhat as a way to heal (through laughter, I hope you laughed a little bit), too.

My life is absurd.

And yes, there’s an astrological transit that coincides with this hope for healing–Mercury, the planet of communication is in a somewhat harmonious aspect the asteroid Chiron, the wounded healer.

Healing words. Writing as a way of healing.

So through writing this really long essay, I hope it does a few things–brings some lightness, heals some old hurts, and lays it out to the Universe a very simple demand:

I do not want to live in a chaotic home ever again.

I grew up in a home of chaos, with a father slowly slipping into mental illness. So, unless I was living by myself, for the most part, it’s been a life of instability.

I’ve had enough, and I want to go home.

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