I’ve been in an on off-the-grid induced writing hiatus for a while now, at least, in the digital, self-publishing sense. Analog-style, I’ve been burning up the pages, as ever. A bunch of crap, mostly, but when I’m dizzy with too many thoughts, I find it’s better to scribble it haphazardly than to let it rankle in my head. What to do, what to be, how to do it? Where to go, where to be, where to live? Writing is therapy, not just self-indulgence (although, sometimes…). Most nights as I try to fall asleep, my thoughts play racket ball, and bounce about with ideas of Things to Blog About. There’s too much to think about. I can’t sleep. How can I sleep?
Maybe it’s because I live in what amounts to an intellectual desert and I’m hungry for mentally stimulating conversations: somehow, this feels like a way of reaching out in an otherwise lonely place, starting half of the conversation. Maybe there’s a response, and mostly it’s just satisfying to deposit the thoughts somewhere at all.
I get a taste of that kind of connection here and there and I find myself storing the conversations up to mull over later, like an intellectual camel. When I think about that, I wrinkle my nose in frustration and disgust. How the fuck have I lived here this long without losing it? Why have I done this to myself for so long? I’m not actually the misanthrope I like to think I am most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a plea of pathos. I have some very smart, interesting, and curious friends here, in an otherwise remote and isolated area with a sparse population at the very least. But everyone has their busy, busy lives and everything is a far drive or a heap of scheduling conflicts away from more regular human contact. Maybe that is also just adulthood anywhere, though.
But I’m still frustrated and unsatisfied. Part of the void I feel is connected to not having a job at the moment, and since I’ve lived here, not having had a job in the past nearly five years where I had consistently satisfying human connections to my co-workers, that good old void gapes and yawns back at me.
Beginning this weekend and through the end of the month, I am housesitting for some friends who are away in Mexico. Warm and cozy inside, while outside, the rain is once again, gratefully, gloriously falling. Or more or less pounding, at various ever changing angles and haphazard swoops. I will be here for the rest of the month, and then what? We have about four weeks to decide that. It doesn’t mean that we’ll have secured jobs or housing at that point. The latter I’m not particularly worried about. The former, I often feel anxious and unprepared and like all of my time spent living in the middle-of-nowherethefuck will leave me as some very weird, socially awkward job candidate at the bottom of the heap. What exactly have you been doing with your time the past few years and why on earth did you do that, again? If I was feeling a bit more brave today (I’m working up to it. Maybe if I keep telling myself…), I’d reach out and just send my resume and a perky-sounding cover letter to a variety of places that sound like they’re doing something interesting. But what would that look like? I don’t even know what to tell them. Or who “they” are anyway. “You should take me for my word that I’m smart and capable of almost anything! HIRE ME!” But you know, also, show don’t tell. I think of my friend handing me his business card and jokingly saying “Not only am I expensive, but I’m slow!”
The thing is this: I do – kinda – know what I want to do, in a vague sense. But I also know that it is going to take a lot of time to build it, and I’m not sure which brick to lay down first, as it were. Research lately amounts to a lot of twiddling my thumbs, reading articles on Facebook, perusing LinkedIn, and mostly getting sucked own the internet wormhole. But something. Anything to give me a grain of somesuch to go somewhere with. I need a mentor, I tell myself. Someone to guide me. But I have people around me who can and will be that, and are actively offering that. But actually letting that work for you and making things happen? That requires some resolve, and I seem to find a million lazy excuses lately. You’d think that impending deadline of you don’t have a job and very soon you will not have a place to live would weigh more heavily on me, but somehow it doesn’t. Or it’s a low level panic that I feel all the time but I keep pushing it away, even though it’s still lurking just around the corner.
Sometimes trying just seems like too much, cruisin’ for a proverbial bruisin’, because there are too many fucking choices and it’s fucking overwhelming, fuck dammit. Although the opposite, not getting “a jiggy on with your life,” isn’t very satisfying either. So, here I am: spinning my Millennial wheels. Whining on and on, and not picking a direction. The last time I did that, I wasn’t very happy with the direction that seemingly picked me because here I am in the boondocks, surrounded by potheads and winos and little ambition and few healthy relationships in between.
Look, it’s not like I have anything particular against hard work. Just because I feel and act lazy sometimes doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to do anything that doesn’t automatically come to me, and come easily. That’s only fear talking, and when you listen to its siren song, it’s very easy to dismiss doing anything that involves any kind of potential headache on sight. But I guess everything seems to look like it involves a headache, when you’ve spent the past half-decade doing things that seemed like rolling the rock up hill only to see the Sysiphian blob roll right back down again once you’d crested that glorious, hard-won ridge. And that was for things that my heart (mostly) wasn’t even in, so I guess I tinker with feeling discouraged.
I think one of the most important things in life (drumroll, please…) are relationships with people, because we learn the most this way, about others and ourselves and empathy and compassion and teamwork and all that feel-goody-goodness that amounts to how to be a better human in this tiny, beautiful ball of water and earth we get to live on. I think that’s pretty important and also pretty exciting too. Most of the time, getting to know other people’s inner workings gives me hope more often than it gets me feeling down. And when I’m in the company of people who act in ways that suggest that they are self-serving, petty, manipulative, or otherwise, I DO feel damned discouraged and unsure that I want to climb outside of my little cave.
Now, I’m not saying that we can’t learn anything from interactions with people like that (although most notably a fat dose of patience, boundaries, and probably “How Not to Be”) and I know we all have those things in us in some measure. (Recognition is key… awareness is key) But, lately I feel like many of my experiences have been characterized by More of The Bad and Less of The Good. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Or, yeah, maybe I just really need to get the hell out of Dodge and be reminded that I really, truly am in a place that attracts a lot more misfits and malcontents than anywhere I’ve ever been. Really, truly. You have to see it to believe it. No, you have to experience it firsthand.
Is this my breakup letter to Mendocino County? Maybe in part. If so, I’ll conclude with this: I’ve learned a lot here, in fact we both have. And I think it’s time for us both to move on, too. But, this time? I’m fairly certain of this part. It’s not me. It’s definitely you.