God bless two of my students who have been researching adjunct labor and came in today full of information and outrage and offering to protest for me, and gave me an iced chai latte on EXACTLY the day I needed a kind gesture just to convince myself I can be a human being for a few more hours.
Due a variety of problems: health, financial, academic, moving and not moving (ie, I have to leave my current rental next weekend but I have no new lease yet, so, uh… no clue where I’m going), I will not be posting here consistently for a week or two. I might still pop up to whine and vent for a minute, but I’m not making any serious plans to be around for awhile. Sorry. (Not that much of anyone really reads this anyway, which is fine, I started this for my own mental health anyway, but yeah…)
I’ve been really good so far about posting something every day except Sunday, and I’ve succeeded in the first three days of this week at posting a Happy Thing, as promised. But I’m having a really hard time thinking of anything happy to write about today. I have a week to find a new place to lease on a shoestring budget before my current landlord kicks me out. I may be homeless in a week. Happy Things feel very far away today. Maybe later.
Let me tell you about my two best friends, because they have a couple occasions quite literally kept my alive by the sheer force of their presence in my life.
Some people have only one best friend. Some people decide that after a certain age you don’t really have “best friends” anymore (this is a particularly silly and self-damaging attitude in my opinion). But I have two best friends (I used to have three, but that’s a different story for another time). For the sake of my half-assed privacy I shall call them J- and N- here.
I met J- my junior year of high school. We were both in marching band, and we had both just moved to a new high school, and we were both very shy people. BUT I had formulated a plan. At the time I was an enormous anime fan (I still am, but not quite as rabidly I was then), so I decided that I would wear a different anime t-shirt every day of summer band camp, like a colorful bird trying to attract a mate, except I was trying to attract a like-minded person who might be my friend. Hilariously, it TOTALLY worked (we still joke about it). After two days of watching me, J- approached me to compliment my clothing choices and we struck up a conversation about anime, and we have been inseparable ever since. That was fourteen years ago.
My other best friend is N-. We also met in high school, though my senior year. We had a physics class together, along with two other friends, and spent most of the year flirting with each other in that really awkward way nerdy people flirt. For my birthday that year he built me a computer from scrap parts his dad left around (his dad was a computer technician), but I was the one who finally bit the bullet and asked him out on a date. Yes, we dated first. In fact, we dated for a whole year, starting the summer we graduated from high school and all the way through our first year of college. But it was a long-distance relationship, as I had stayed at home to go to community college and he went off to Arizona. I adored him, and we always had so much fun when we actually had time together, but throughout our relationship I couldn’t help but think we simply worked better as friends. So after a year, we broke up, and after some time apart to re-adjust, we somehow managed to become best friends instead.
Now, the three of us are separated by very large distances. We are scattered across the country for work, and our lives have diverged a bit. But we have never stopped being best friends. We email and text and call constantly. And we try to take turns visiting each other (though I am the least financially stable of the three, so the onus often falls on them to come see me).
One of my most treasured memories will now be when J- surprised me for my birthday this year. She arranged with my mother to fly out for a couple days (even though her work schedule is insane) and I had absolutely no idea until suddenly THERE SHE WAS. It was amazing. She is the kindest, most compassionate, most generous person I have ever known. She literally saved my life when I met her my sophomore year of high school (I had been severely suicidal for months). Her sunniness is implacable. She can’t always quite understand how my depression feels (and I’m glad she doesn’t have to know what this feels like) but she always takes my feelings seriously, and she always supports me, no matter what.
And N- is the same way. Despite the awkwardness of how we became friends after dating, I can’t imagine my life without him in it. I was the “Best Man” at his wedding. And some day I will be the honorary cool aunt to his children. And he has absolutely unshakable faith in me and my abilities.
I am so enormously grateful for them. I wouldn’t be here without them. And I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean that I would literally have killed myself by now without them.
My only regret is that we all live so far away right now. I hope some day we can converge again, live near each other, meet for coffee or lunch every week, have play-dates with each other’s kids, grow old as one little community all to ourselves. I hope, I hope, I hope.
PS: Yes, I TOTALLY watch MLP:FIM. And N- is the one who first got me hooked, so blame him. And just FYI, but I’m definitely Twilight, N- is Applejack, and J- is a cross between Fluttershy and Pinky Pie. Yes, we have discussed this, at length.
Cats. All cats really, but specifically my cats. They are so much work, and there are days when I’m very frustrated with them, and the stress they can sometimes add to my life, but on the whole I adore them, and I couldn’t possibly imagine my life with them. Currently, between me and my mother, we have eight of our own cats, plus three strays we are fostering for the “Trap-Neuter-Release” program (we also have my brother’s two dogs, who were dumped on us, but they don’t make me so happy so we’re not going to think about that right now).
We had nine cats, but my oldest, my baby, my Old Man, died the last week of June. I’m still not over it. I’m not sure I ever will be. His name was Sebastian. I got him when he was only six weeks old and I was in seventh grade. I’m not entirely sure how I came up with the name. I think perhaps it was a combined inspiration from the main character of The Neverending Story (Bastian Balthazar Bux) and Saint Sebastian (I did mention my early obsession with hagiography).
He was one week shy of 18 years old when he died. He had hyperthyroidism, he had a stroke, he had kidney failure, and then his liver failed, and that was the end of it. I sat with him while the vet put him to sleep. He was my baby boy. I couldn’t let him die alone.
But I’m making myself said again, let’s talk about my other babies. The ones still with me. Every single one is a rescue: out of the rain, off a highway in rush-hour traffic, from a shelter about to be put-down, etc. In order of when we get them they are: Mieko, Grady, Bobbi, Seiya, Freya, Loki, Toulouse, and Lucy. (And we temporarily named the strays Little Mama, and her two kittens Merry and Pippin).
And now, what we’ve all been waiting for since I mentioned the word “cats”, pictures!:
On June 29th, when the Supreme Court historically backed the legality and right of gay marriage (ie, MARRIAGE), the woman who broke my heart but was still my friend texted me and said: “get dressed, we’re going out to celebrate!” We were two bi-woman, happy to feel that our existence and our feelings were somehow being validated and legitimized.
Heart in my throat despite myself, I got dressed, and she picked me up at around 9pm. We got lost looking for the nearest gay bar in my neck of the woods, and ended up a gay Western-style saloon and dance hall, complete with giant neon cowboy boot in the roof, swinging barn doors at the entrance, and dance floor meant for square-dancing but currently graced by three butch couples and a pair of gay men doing something that might have been dancing but was really just standing in place and shifting their feet. There was even a mechanical bull to ride in the far corner. And karaoke, of course.
Giggling like idiots, and wondering how the hell this was the place we had ended up at, we scampered over to the bar and ordered the most ridiculously-named, brightly-colored drinks we could possibly find. Hers matched almost perfectly the bright turquoise-y color of her hair. Mine had everything in it but the kitchen sink, and therefore ended up almost muddy-brown instead. The first sip nearly knocked me off my feet.
In a show of irony, I was somehow the butch-ish one that evening: she was dressed in a slinky black skirt and sparking shirt, whereas I had been sick for days and hadn’t done laundry in weeks, and was therefore in tight jeans, a checked button-down shirt, and boots (yes, I was wearing boots). (She had, when picking me up, noticed my somewhat staid attire and said, “here, we need to gay you up a little bit” as she slipped a rainbow necklace over my head.) So it was no surprise when the bartender looked to me to pay, and also no surprise when we argued over who was going to pay for five minutes before she gave in (her argument was that she’d asked me out for the evening, my argument was I didn’t care).
Reluctant to dance to western music, we slowly gravitated toward the karaoke machine with our truly ridiculous drinks. And eventually, as I knew would happen, she ended up in front of the mic. She couldn’t resist. Shy and anxious and neurotic on most days, she was still a theatre major at one time, and a ballet dancer, and musician, and a poet and perversely craved the attention even as she feared it. She ended up in front of the mic, with Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” beginning to play.
Whereupon she immediately forgot all the lyrics and stumbled her way through the song with comical put-upon faces and gestures for the crowd to join in and cover her ass. I stood to the side, holding both her drink and mine, laughing my ass off, until tears squeezed from my eyes.
I responded to an attempt to get me up to the mic with an: “over my dead body, and possibly yours.”
Awhile later, we decided to abandon the bizarre little gay western dance hall and saloon, and drove further down the highway into downtown. Where the bohemian (read, artsy, collegiate, and hella-gay) part of town was so jam-packed with exuberant celebrating drunk people that it took us nearly an hour just to park the car. By that point, we were beginning to show our ages (me 30, her 45) and decided we were too tired to find another bar or club. So we eventually ended up at a really excellent Greek restaurant (open until 3am!) and ate appetizers and drank sweet tea and talked for almost three hours.
I enjoyed that far more than the western bar.
When we finally decided to call it a night, it was 2:30am. She dropped me off at home, I took a quick shower, and crawled into bed. Not 20 minutes later, we laughed at each other to find both of us awake and on Twitter, not quite ready yet to let the night slip away.
As you could probably tell from my posts (particularly this past week), I’m really not feeling well. Physically or emotionally. I feel like I’m losing the war right now, and everything in my life is under siege. I have absolutely no sense of the “point” of anything right now. I would really prefer to just curl up and die, or walk into traffic. I fear the only thing keeping me around right now is a sense of obligation: to my friends, and to my mother, who would probably die herself without me. And obligation is exhausting, draining, crushing. It is not a good enough motivation or justification for life in the long run.
I’m trying. But it’s not going well.
So. I am trying to rally my forces. I am seeing the doctor on Tuesday. I’ve emailed my two best friends, who live seemingly light-years away and sadly cannot come sit with me and keep me grounded, but who can at least offer a few words of encouragement. I’m focusing on my students, in the hopes that they can provide that sense of fulfillment I have lost. And on the blog this week I’m going to try my damnedest to focus on good things, things that make me happy (or used to when I was still capable of the emotion).
I must fight the impulse to dwell, to wallow, to close my eyes and allow myself to sink. I’m not entirely sure why I must, these days, but I will do my best.