I kind of got married last week.

I read somewhere once that the first year of marriage can be the worst.  Because you have two people who are suddenly living together and are trying to find a balance in their coexistence.

I understood the struggle of living with a new person (I’ve lived with many very different individuals all four years of college and then the first year after graduation), but I’ve also found that it is only difficult during the first month or two, and then people tend to fall into harmony and routine.  I didn’t understand how a couple, two people who are supposed to know each other well enough to fall in love and get married, can have a difficult time living together for a solid year.

Now I understand.
Admittedly I didn’t get married last week, but I did move in with my boyfriend The Photographer, and his family.

These last three weeks through this whole moving process have been Hell.  The Photographer and I have had arguments before, but we’ve never fought like this, ever.

Every fight was essentially just variations of the following:
Him: I’m frustrated because you’re moving in small trips rather than one big one like the last two moves that I helped you with.

Me: I know, and I’m trying to move as much as I can in my little car, so you don’t have to come in your truck to take as many things.  And I’m moving boxes to your house as I pack them because my roommate, M, has claustrophobia, and get’s overwhelmed by lots of boxes, and I can’t keep all the packed boxes in my room, because my room is too small.  And I’m frustrated with you for being frustrated with me, because you said you’d help me, and you’re acting all inconvenienced.

Him:  I AM inconvenienced!  It takes half a tank of gas to drive from my house to your apartment and back, and my tank takes $60 to fill, so it’s really not worth driving all the way over here for just a few boxes if they don’t fill up the back of my truck.  Tell M to get over it! And I’m frustrated with you for being frustrated with me, for being frustrated with you.

Me:  Telling M to get over it is not going to cure her phobia!  And she’s aware that’s it’s stupid, but she does have a right to feel comfortable in her own home!  And I’m sorry!  Like I said, I am moving everything I can that will fit in my car so you don’t have to make as many trips, and I’m trying to accommodate my housemates, because they’re my friends!  I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place here!  And I’m frustrated with you for being frustrated with me, for being frustrated with you, for being frustrated with me!

Him:  Well if M is your friend, and she knows this, shouldn’t she understand?! Why do you have so much shit anyway?  Who needs all this shit?  Can’t most of it go in the garage or Goodwill?

Me:  She is trying!  And that’s all I can ask!  And I’m frickin trying to get rid of things, but you have to recognize that I am moving my entire existence from one place to another, AND I’m a girl, so stereotypically, OF COURSE I’m going to have a lot of shit!  Most of which IS going in the garage!

Him:  It’s just that it’s everywhere!  It’s overcrowding the house!

Me:  Yes!  Yes it is!  I can either pack and move, or unpack and organize, I can’t do both!

_________________________

We both have valid points and grievances, but we’re too annoyed and angry to really see them in the moment.  It’s been rough.  It doesn’t help that we’re both stubborn as all get out.  This last week has been better, but we’re still bickering over things that don’t matter.

I really thought this would be like every other living situation I’ve been in, but it’s not.  And it’s not because his parents and sister are there, it’s because it’s him.  It’s because both of us recognize that on some level, this experience is representative of how our marriage will be and we desperately want validation as quickly as possible that we can survive as a couple.  So we’ve been impatient and resentful when things don’t automatically fall into place.  At least with regular roommates, if the living situation isn’t ideal, you can say, “Oh well, just a few more months till the lease is up.”

We’re not married, and we live with three other people, but I suspect the article was talking about this: two people who need to know that they haven’t made a horrible mistake.

If, When, Then, I Would Have___

 

First, I would like to mention that I AM working on Part 3 of Pretending to Be a Grownup. But today I would like to talk about my current life.

I quit my job as a cook at the retirement home somewhere in the beginning of December 2016.  The job was suffocating me and I needed out and a change of pace.

I decided I would make money through an online transcription company so I would have more time to pursue my dream of being a writer.  For those of you who are unaware of what a transcription job is, the basis of it is listening to audio and then typing what the speakers are saying.

I can describe the experience of this seemingly simple job fairly accurately as what Hell is probably like for people who rely heavily on their auditory ability because of a lack of sight or ability to feel or smell.

If you’re lucky, the recording was done outside with the sounds of wind, cars, lawnmowers, and skateboards brrring, rrrring, and ffllllllpppping over your dialogue.

But even if you’re not faced with the outdoors, you still have to deal with the speakers’ slurring, mumbling, or faster-than-a-car-salesman voices.  The microphone is always too close to one speaker and horrendously far away from another.  So every time a new speaker begins talking, you’re either bringing up the volume and having to back track several seconds to hear what they’re saying, or having your ear drums destroyed with a heavy, screeching Chinese accent.  I wish I could say I was being racist for comedic effect, but unfortunately I’m not.

It’s not a great job, and since I set my own hours, I haven’t actually worked in weeks. I wish I had just taken a month off from the retirement home and then went back to cooking.  That probably would have been wiser.  I’d have a steady job that actually got me out of the house, and when my boyfriend asked how my day was, I’d have more to say.

Life is full of would-of’s and should-of’s.  Maybe that’s why we’re so obsessed with time travel.

  1. Back to the Future (I, II, and III)
  2. The Butterfly Effect
  3. Groundhog Day
  4. Deja Vu
  5. Edge of Tomorrow/Live Die Repeat (or whatever we’re supposed to call this movie)
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. Any television episode where a character goes back in time and usually at some point kills Hitler

And a hundred zillion other movies and tv shows about or involve time travel are about one concept: changing the time-space-continuum so that life is improved.  Usually the character learns that fixing one problem only creates bigger problems and doesn’t actually fix their own issues.  In other cases, time travel  is recognized as a positive thing that allows a character to improve their lives, their personal character, or even the world.

Regardless of how time travel is viewed, it almost always begins with a scriptwriter who says, “I wish I had known ___, back when ___, so then I would have ___, and everything would be infinitely better,” what a great and original idea for a film.

As for me, “I wish I had known what an unemployed rut I would be in, back when it was somewhere in the beginning of December 2016, so then I would have not quit my job, and everything would be infinitely better.”  But I know that’s not true.  It doesn’t really matter if had I quit my job or not, because either way I would not be doing something worth while that I love and that must be at least a part of why I am in a state of discontentment.

An Approach

My breaths come and go evenly
because I am trying to calm my thundering heart.

My eyes drill deeply into your pores
because I have to commit your face to memory.

My feet tread purposefully
because they are preparing to break into a sprint.

My jutted jaw is held high
because it needs to make you believe I will fight back.

You may regard my smile as a middle finger
because Society has put my hands in mittens.

 

 

 

 

*Subject: Those darn woman-problems/Response to anyone who has ever said “not all men”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretending to Be a Grownup: Part 2/6

Part 2: Work toward your initially fake goal unless a better idea comes along, which it won’t.

The more I thought about it, the better going to Europe sounded.  Who cared that going at all was something I said on a whim?  I thought of Mr. Brandmeyer, my high school English teacher, “How do I know what I have to say until you say it?”  I said I was going to Europe.  It wasn’t a lie, but until it came out of my mouth, I didn’t know it was true.

I chose Wales because the majority of the country speaks both Welsh and English, and the cost of living is cheaper and safer than Scotland, Ireland, and England.  I figured I ought to try somewhere that is mostly or entirely English-speaking.  After all, if I moved to France, learned French and ended up hating France, then I will have learned an entire language with no one to speak French with (Also I am a lazy American, but the other reason sounds better.)!

I did my research, crunched the numbers, and decided I would live in Wales for one year, beginning January of 2017.

I was also trying to figure out what to do once I got back from Wales.  If I was still with The Artist (Arizona boyfriend), by then we would have been together for two years, so of course I would try to factor him in.  When I got back if he still had a semester or two to go and/or planned on continuing to live in AZ, maybe I could make a home in Phoenix.  

This is what I told myself:

It was a great idea!  Phoenix was close to campus and a major city.  Perfect for a budding writer in love with an artist who lived on a nearby college campus.  I would meet new people, and gain new experiences.  His friends would hopefully become mine.  I would live where it was warm and cacti roamed free -or something like that.  

Or maybe I would move back home.  I’m from Southern California so it was likely The Artist would make plans to move back to the same place after graduation. Arizona isn’t exactly the hubbub for creating a career. Ah Southern California, the perfect place for a budding writer in love with an artist who lived nearby.  

The beauty of this plan was that as a writer, I could live anywhere.  The only reason I planned to return to the U.S. at all, aside from if I couldn’t make a life for myself abroad, was The Artist.  He was nice, kind, sweet, thoughtful, and adored me.

I broke up with him on March third, exactly two months after we started dating.  I know.  I’m a monster.  I’ll get into this another time, but for now you can just say I’m a monster, I’m okay with that.

I got through the final semester of my college experience, and was lucky enough to be asked for an interview by a school reporter.  Apparently my story of going to Europe was the most interesting, or my photo shoot was the most entertaining of the bunch, and I got onto the front page of the school news magazine in the senior issue (15 minutes of fame: achieved).

All the while, I worked at both school and at the retirement home, and set money aside for my wanderlust excursion.  It was my best prospect and I loved it!

Pretending to Be a Grownup: Part 1/6

Part 1: Figure out something to do after college then just go with it.

Back in January, I didn’t know what to do with my life.  I was going to graduate college in May with a BA in English.

Unfortunately, it was around this time that in addition to my parents’ friends: my friends, colleagues, professors, and people who work at the coffee shop started to ask what I planned to do after graduation.  (If you don’t know, they look at you like you’re idiot who has wasted the last four years of her life.)

Luckily, this idiot had a ready-made answers:  I am going abroad to Europe for about a year.

Why? Because it would be exciting to live abroad, I have never been outside the U.S. and Mexico, and I will use my new life as inspiration for my writing.

What about your life here?  What about it?  I have a job as a cook at a retirement home that I can leave at any time.  I have friends here, but after graduation, most of them are leaving.

Why don’t you go home?  Southern California is very expensive, and I don’t really want to move back in with my parents without a plan to move out and move on with my life.

What about your boyfriend?  He lives in my hometown and is working on his degree in Arizona.  I’m not moving home or to Arizona for some guy I’ve dated less than a month, even if I have known him for several years.  My inner-feminist wouldn’t dare!

 

The truth was I didn’t have a frickin idea what I was going to do in Europe.  I blurted it out and it felt right.  I didn’t know where I was going to live, or what I would do for work.  I just knew that I didn’t have a job in my field lined up, I wasn’t going to grad school, and I didn’t have anyone or really anything to tie me down.  I really did want to travel at some point.  Might as well do it while I try to get my act together.

 

 

 

Freak Show

In the mid-sixteenth century, someone in England thought a display of abnormal humans would be something people would pay to see. He was absolutely right. Freak shows quickly grew in popularity and spread to the United States.

There’s something about the abnormal that invites the imagination to see what can be. What is more fascinating than the sight of a man entirely covered in tattoos? Or as grotesque as an obese woman? Or adorable as wallet-sized adult? Or as creepy as a pin-head? Probably a lot of things actually; but in an era where everyone looks the same and those who don’t are hidden away, absolutely nothing is quite as intriguing as a ‘freak.’

In the mid-nineteen fifties, scientists were finally making discoveries that could explain genetic anomalies and disabilities. Over the next few decades, the world slowly developed a new attitude of acceptance and celebration of all of our differences.

But we are still obsessed with the unusual. Everyone has paged through the Guinness Book of World Records and scrunched their noses at whoever is the current record holder for longest fingernails. Or watched some reality TV show and laughed as rich white ladies tear each other apart. Tiny or giant versions of regularly sized things are continually instagrammed: tiny food, tea-cup pigs, giant dogs, the list doesn’t end.

We act like ‘weird’ or ‘dysfunctional’ is the new ‘normal’ but it’s not. We’re still just a bunch of people who all look the same who stare at the collection of ‘freaks’ the world has to offer. The only thing that’s changed is that now we do it in secret. We gaze over the top of our phones and US magazines, and strain our eyes to keep them in our peripheral vision. We silently make assumptions about what they’re mothers did during their pregnancies that lead to their deformed arms, or wonder how they could hate themselves so much that they would want to vandalize their bodies with tattoos.

I’m just as guilty as you are.

In the town I live in, there is this woman in an electric wheelchair with an American flag at the top of a tall antennae attached to the back. Almost every day she goes on a walk or I guess her case, a roll around town. And when I see her I can’t help but stare. When I’m walking I peer at her from the corner of my eye. When I’m driving, I slow down and watch her from my rearview mirror.

She’s massive. Almost too big for her chair. Her second chin allows her body to forgo a neck and melt into her shoulders. Her arms appear to be cut off from circulation when she wears more fitted shirts. But what draws my eye is her stomach. Her enormous tummy spills over her waistline and hangs next to her ankles. I try to catch a glimpse of her when she rolls over a bump in the sidewalk and her belly sways into one of her legs.

I’m not proud of this. I kick myself for staring. She is a person. She doesn’t go outside for my amusement. I don’t like being scrutinized and I doubt she does. I know that I should pay as little attention to her as I do to everyone else. I don’t mean to watch, but I do. We all do. It’s not 1950 anymore, but we’re still on the look out for a freak show.