Sunday, February 3, 2008

211.2 and counting

Thanks everyone, again, for pulling my head out of the cyber-oven. Doctor Andy asked me last night if I felt encouraged to keep writing after all the wonderful comments, or if I was frustrated because I really wanted to quit and honestly, it encouraged me a lot. I kind of view this blog as just a chronology of what I'm feeling at the time, and sometimes the things in my head like, "I want to give up" are more just vocalized frustrations than actual wishes. Sometimes, though, things like, "I want to eat four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wash them down with a bottle of Hershey's syrup" ARE actual wishes and more often than not come true. Sometimes I'm afraid I'm too honest here; that the more I write about being upset and trying but failing over and over again, the more you'll think I'm crying wolf. But as whiny and ugly as my thoughts are at the time, they're really what I'm thinking and I learned during college and the course of my marriage that pretending I don't feel that way never helps the situation either.

I guess I haven't been doing as terribly as I thought, because I managed to lose a couple pounds in the course of all this wasting away in bed. I feel good about that, because I could tell there was something not right happening with my body when I was circling around 215-220 over the last couple of weeks. It just felt distended and toxic and wrong somehow, so it's nice to see the numbers came down when my body started feeling better again. I have had two straight days where I haven't eaten anything nasty--that fancy new grocery store with the fancy organic convenience food is really going to be a life saver, I think--and I'm heading up to the Bikram yoga studio to try out a class this afternoon. I wrote an email to the guy who owns the studio at the beginning of this week asking a few questions about whether the practice is too strenuous for really heavy people and whether I could maybe trade tuition for helping wash the mats or doing secretarial work and he wrote back IN ONE GIANT RUN-ON SENTENCE ABOUT HOW EVERYTHING WOULD BE JUST FINE AND I SHOULD DEFINITELY COME AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT A THING and I was like, "Dude. Whoa, dude. " and then I wiped the blood from my poor assaulted eyeballs and reread the message and it was very encouraging and nice, so I'm feeling pretty good about this afternoon. I hope I don't pass out and die in the room, because then when my parents come and clean out my apartment my mom will find the episode of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend: Swingers I recorded off BBC America and I just couldn't bear the thought of her finding out her heroic efforts to avoid ever exposing me to the idea that people actually touch their bodies together for any other reason than to pass on the love of the Holy Spirit across the pews in church hadn't succeeded.

A lot of the reason I've been freaking out over the past month especially is because I'm kind of coming to this weird juncture in my life where I'm finally getting my shit together here, but I'm also trying to figure out what to do next. Like, on Tuesday, when I go down to my hometown to vote, my parents are also taking me out to dinner because I paid off all my debt this month. My mom said she was proud of me. She actually said she was...proud of me. That's really huge, because I think the last time my mom was proud of me was in 1997 (or maybe during Thanksgiving 2001 when I poured a glass of milk from a full gallon jug and didn't spill any of it on the counter, which had never happened before and has never again happened since). But at the same time that I'm pretty proud of having fixed my financial situation, there's the overriding sense of shame that I got myself into that mess in the first place and shouldn't have, and that I could very, very easily slip up and do it again. I applied for a credit card, at the advice of a friend who is really good with money, only because I know I need to have some sort of revolving debt to rebuild my credit, but I am beyond terrified of even activating it for fear that somehow just HAVING the card in my wallet will mean that I'll pass out and wake up the next morning somehow having purchased a Dyson vacuum, a Shetland pony, and $600 worth of lip gloss. You snicker, but I have empirical reason to be concerned.

I also am minorly freaking because I've finally settled here, and it's been a long time since I've been settled anywhere. My junior year of high school, we moved out of the house I was born in to a brand new house and ever since then I've been moving. I haven't lived in any one place longer than two years; this address is the first I can count as a permanent one since 1998. I have a coffee grinder, a 401K, a garage, and a lovely collection of cleaning supplies that make my house smell like an English garden. I'm very settled in my job right now. I have friends I can drink a beer with if I'm so inclined, and other than a few little dips into despair, I'm not really THAT depressed. Things could definitely be worse.

It's just that this isn't where I want to be settled, and so I'm looking for ways out. I'm going to take the LSAT in June, and I'm thinking very seriously about law school for 2009-2010. I went to St. Louis last weekend to visit some friends, and I loved the neighborhood around Washington University. I'm going to visit another friend in NYC for a week in March, and I'm going to check out Fordham and maybe Columbia. I could see myself in DC, too, or even Chicago after I start giving myself testosterone injections so I grow enough body hair to handle the winters. I have lots of possibilities. But as much as I'm excited about movin' on up and doing something challenging and intellectually stimulating in fabulous places like DC or New York, I am beyond terrified. How do I pack up four years of work and life and all this stuff and cram it into a studio apartment in Harlem? How do I even begin to afford a studio apartment in Harlem? What happens if the cats go insane from being cooped up in a single room for three years and I get evicted because they won't stop meowing? What happens if I go insane because there's a cockroach in my bathtub? I will move if I see a cockroach, I swear to God. What if I become a lawyer and realize I hate it way more than I ever disliked teaching? What if I don't even get into a decent law school and I'm stuck here for the rest of my life?

And I know, intellectually, that if I want a different life I have to start from ground zero to get there. I know I have to take a chance and just do it. I know moving to a different city with millions of cultural opportunities and where my friends are would be infinitely more rewarding than my life here in Asshole, Missouri where "cultural opportunity" means someone hired the remaining two members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to play on a trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot for March of Dimes week. I also know that I'm creating my own perfect storm of anxiety and inertia by worrying about things that aren't even close to transpiring yet, and I should just be focusing on the things I can control now instead of pricing 5th floor walk-ups in Washington Heights that won't even be available in 2009.

I guess sometimes when I get this way I'd like to be able to put my head on someone's lap and tell them I'm really tired from working so hard to make everything better and not being sure what to do and then maybe that someone would just let me lie there for awhile and they'd even let me watch Ugly Betty while they played with my hair. So, in the absence of that, I put out my frustrations here and then I feel better and then I can go back to the really important things in life, like figuring out how to wash out the stench of gasoline and regurgitated Fruit Loops from my work shoes before tomorrow morning.


Anonymous said...

Oh fuck. I am SO glad you are feeling better, and this is an awesome post. But I read the thing about law school, and as a 31 year old who just graduated from law school, who went into to it as a depressed person and with no real desire to become a lawyer other than to move to a new town, start over, and get a "real credential", I have to say it worked out miserably for me. You have to want to be a lawyer in order to succeed in law school. It's too hard and too expensive if you don't have a goal in sight. If I had to do it all over again I would have chosen a 2 year master's program in a field I was interested in (that was also possible to get employed in).

Also, you don't want to be single and older in law school. Everyone is younger and immature, or older and married. If you do think law school is the right choice for you, I would get a job in the city you want to live in and go part time to start, then increase to full time as I got used to the city and program. I wish I had done that as it would have helped me become more rooted in the city I studied in and develop friendships outside of law school.

I did awesomely on the LSAT and passed the bar exam, but the intervening 3 years were hell and my life, instead of starting over the way I wanted it, instead regressed. If you want to change your life, do not do it in a full time law program. It's hard to develop your skills and social life, and general happiness when you are DEAD BROKE and are not on solid emotional footing.

I don't mean to be a buzzkill. I read your blog, and see how talented you are, and immediately think "Columbia Teachers College". You may be tired of education, but what about administration? You'll be building on your talents instead of starting from scratch, and get to move to a new city to boot.

Please value what you've done so far. You may not enjoy it, but starting from scratch is dangerous territory. I took the LSAT in a reprieve from depression - it was part of my momentum. No one naysayed me because they were just happy that I was doing SOMETHING, and of course had faith in me that I would succeed. That's all fine, but in addition to talking to people who did well in law school and are happy, talk to people who are not happy too. If your goal is to move to DC, Chi, or NYC, choose a graduate program that won't make it impossible for you to actually enjoy and experience the full benefits of living in those cities. Just saying.

If I haven't totally frightened you with my vehemence, just reply to this message and I'll contact you with my email address.

Erin said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment. Let's talk.

Vickie said...

I suggest that you spend time with "established" people in the specific fields in which you are interested.

I think this is called SHADOWING.

There are many fields where it only takes a few hours to know "this IS SO NOT for me" or I am interested - let's get more information.

I have been setting these up for my son - and it is easy - you just call or go in person and say that you are interested in observing for a day (or half day).

They normally have you fill out a form saying that everything you see will be kept in confidence and that you will not sue them for anything that happens to you while you are there.

With several lawyers in the family - I highly recommend shadowing for this field - to zero in on the specific areas that interest you where jobs are actually doable/available.

Colleges are getting better at this - instead of leaving student teaching for the last semester of 4 year programs - many now do it FIRST.

I thought that I wanted to go into social work - 4 weeks in downtown Gary Indiana in the social services department - showed me that I did not have a thick enough skin - and I was working with the "more" success stories there - and not the really terrible cases. This was a January Term where you went off to investigate something that interested you.

Now at 46 years old - that was a valuable lesson learned in 4 weeks - because indeed - I do NOT have thick enough skin. And would have been really unhappy - I would have wanted to brng every last one of them home with me.

My son is 18 and dealing with all of this. It is interesting to re-visit it through his eyes.

I am 46 and never really did find my niche. I have a BA in liberal arts from a small but well known university. I worked in a job that I hated (but didn't know I hated at the time) for about 8 years and then have been home with kids for about 18 years.

Much of what you are going through now - is also running through my mind.

I would have been much better off (mentally) had a worked part time for the last 18 years. I think it would have kept me more in touch with the outside world. That is what I think anyway - perhaps it would have just been stress.

I am old enough to know that I don't want "meetings, stress or bull shit" so am sort of looking around to see what is easy going, independent, and fits my schedule - with a creative twist to it. Is there such a thing? probably - but not sure if I am willing to expend the energy to find it.

Jarrett Meyer said...

I'm glad to read that you're feeling better.

Linda said...

For a moment, Erin, you transported me from Sydney, Australia, to that Missouri Walmart carpark laughing uncontrollably at the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!


PS: You're wonderful :-)
PPS: Stay true to you
PPPS: Please don't become a lawyer :-(

Helen said...

Hi Erin,

How was Bikram? I have never tried it, but love yoga in HOT rooms. :-)

Also...I went to NYC right after college (from the midwest)...I think I was too dumb to be worried or scared...and it all worked out great! BUT, it's not a city for the faint of heart (I won't tell you my cockroach stories)...I had had enough after about 9 years and headed to warmer (Southern California) climes. :-)

Good exciting to be considering all these things!