The Empire Never Ended

Man, it’s been hard for me to feel relaxed lately! It’s been a little hard for me to figure out why…

1 – I have first-day of school anxieties about running the Mad Science camps during spring break at the B&G Club this week. Oh, it just goes on and on, doesn’t it? Trying to get the printer to work so that I can print out the instructions. Finding the time with Corey at some point this week to make sure I actually know how to build a bottle rocket before I go about trying to teach 30-40 children how to do so.

2 – This has been true for the past week or so, but lately it feels like the long commute is really getting me down. When I take the Max from my house (as opposed to downtown), it takes me an hour and a half to get to work, as opposed to forty minutes. An hour and a half!! That’s something like 15 hours a week, just spent sitting on the Max, to and fro. That’s like another part-time job, right there. I dunno, I never really planned on doing this job forever, just because it’s neither all that challenging or well-paid. It’s good for now; it’s definitely better than nothing. I mean, the people with master’s in education who work there and get paid just as much as me definitely helps puts things in perspective re: the current job market economy blah blah blah. And if that doesn’t do it, then the chirping crickets and tumbleweeds blowing through the job postings on craigslist and idealist will definitely do it for ya.

3 – I applied for a fellowship to work/volunteer abroad, but apart from that I really haven’t been doing anything. I mean, I check Americorps every week, craigslist every couple of days… I feel like I’m making an effort to keep looking. There’s some journalism internships in D.C. and a non-profit internship in San Francisco that look interesting, but the idea of moving to these brand new expensive cities for an unpaid position just makes me feel like stale jam on the inside. The deadline to teach in Spain still hasn’t passed. I dunno, I’m not really into applying for things just for the sake of applying for them anymore (though that’s how I got this job and got saved from unemployment). I guess I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing: keep my eyes open, scan things once a week but not really get too stressed out about it. If I don’t get the fellowship Corey and I might just take off to South America and WWOOF it for a while.

4 – #3 is tied in with #4, the whole thinking/pondering/reflecting about the future (I don’t want to put worry! Why worry, right?). I think a lot of this general anxiety may have to do with the fact that Laura is thesising, and so she’s pretty much constantly stressed out and/or on very little sleep. I was talking to Emily on the phone the other day and I said that when I think about my spring break last year, I almost feel like I have PTSD: my heart starts pounding, my mouth tastes slightly acidic, my hands feel trembly like I’ve drunk too much coffee, I feel nervous for no discernible reason. Maybe it’s because Laura is thesising that I’ve inevitably started thinking about mine. I dunno, I was reading some Onetti short stories and I picked up Faulkner’s The Wild Palms… long story short, I need to easier on myself.

I am trying to learn about my “self” and what that “self” is…. I dunno, in my postmodern fiction class we talked a little about how modernity can really fracture and damage the self… I think the term I ended up using the most in my papers was the “decentered” self. That sounds about right: something not in its right place, teetering uneasily on the edge. And then in some of my yoga classes, the teacher mentioned thinking about our “divine” selves. All this sounds really woo-wooh, but bear with me a little. It was such a mind-blowing, weird concept to me: this idea that I have this self inside of me who is already perfect, already full formed, and the point of my life is to gradually and carefully peel away as many layers as I can in order to get as close to this perfect self as possible. I think of someone who is calm, mostly happy every day, peaceful and positive and satisfied with herself and life. Yeah, this is the self I am trying to approach.

It is so weird to try to think about this “self” in me. It’s like trying to get to know a stranger. I’m like asking this self, so what do you do? Are you a writer? An academic? Do you teach in a university? Do you sit at home with your garden and write novels with your laptop in your lap? Do you teach English in a foreign country? Do you work as a journalist and write articles with sharp precise language about important issues? What do you do? What do you want? I want to reach the point where I know this person well enough to greet them as a friend, as opposed to an enemy or uneasy awkward acquaintance, when the day arrives. It t is all really very mind blowing, indeed.

It’s hard to balance thinking about things in the long-term, but then also doing the day-to-day stuff that is necessary. Putting healthy food in your belly. Trying (unsuccessfully for two days now) to get your computer back from your boyfriend’s sister, after you left your bag in your car, so that you can finally get started on revising your silly nanowrimo, which is so silly, but god help us, you find it so fun and fulfilling and entertaining anyway. Working the day job, making money so that you can pay your rent so that you can live with your lover and save up money to visit your parents in South America and your family in England. My grandmother just turned 93 in January and I really, really need to go see her. My aunt and uncle lost their house to the bank, victims of foreclosure. Yeah, family is important. No matter the anxiety that capitalism trains us to feel when our checking or savings account is suddenly and drastically emptier. What am I saving this money for, if not to go see friends and family now?

This really hit home in a powerful way:
you are going to have to go on a kind of journey.

You’re going to have to do certain things and trust that answers will come to you. That involves letting go of a certain amount of control. It involves not doing what you have been doing. It involves change.
I mean, I’m confident that you’re going to be fine, and I’d like you to trust me on that, but I’m not saying it will be easy, because lurking in this issue are some subtle concepts about the self and the world that you can only really get through emotional experience.
Just sit with your dreams and desires. Exempt them from the feasibility study. Regard them with interest. Allow yourself to feel the way you feel about them.
This sounds really woo-woo. But, hey. There is no shortcut. You’re going to have to head in a new direction.
It takes courage to set out doing things in a new way. You’re not going to know, right away, exactly where you’re headed. So I suggest that you visualize, or dream, or speak from the heart, or sketch on a piece of paper, what you actually want — where you want to be right now, what you want to be doing, what you want to own. I guess, eventually, if you find that you really want certain things, then you will be allowed to move to the stage of getting them. But for now, my opinion is that you have been doing too much getting and not enough wanting. So stick to wanting for a while. See if that doesn’t relieve some of the anxiety about getting. Let go of getting. Just stick with wanting.

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3 Comments

Filed under Dear Diary, future, really deep thoughts, work

3 responses to “The Empire Never Ended

  1. Serena

    If you were, by chance, to come to DC, I know somewhere you can crash…

  2. julikins

    I may very well take you up on that!

  3. Orange, Squashed By Dirty Boot

    good entry. thoughtful. I never really thought of a ‘self’ as something that already exists perfectly inside something – you know, that whole metaphor that there’s a David statue inside every chunk of marble, just waiting to be carved out. I feel like I’m more like Plasticine – every couple of years I feel like I’ve been molded into a completely different person, and soon something is going to come along and mash me up into a shapeless ball of goo again. Generally, when I look back at myself from two or three years ago, I feel like I’m thinking about a completely different person. COMPLETELy different. Don’t you get that feeling?

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