Monday, August 31, 2009


Anyone who really knows me knows that I'm generally pessimistic, and if you didn't know that, be thankful that you didn't have to learn it on your own, in the real world.  The famous Woody Allen quote, "I always see the glass half full.  Of poison!" sums up my outlook on life pretty well.  If something 
could go wrong, it will - that's the only constant in life.  This may explain, therefore, my tendency to focus on the negative side of "growth" and "personal development."  Where's the negative in growth and personal development, you ask?  Oh, it's there my friends, it's there!  It's been my experience that, in order to grow and develop, we must also give up; this is what I generally focus on - what I'm giving up to achieve the growth and development rather than the positive outcome that growth will (supposedly) create.  I look at the can't, won't,  and shouldn't instead of the can-be and will-be.  The purpose of the growth/development is almost lost in the mourning for things I've let go ...

So ... hold on to your seats boys and girls ... you're about to see something never before witnessed!  I'm focusing on the good!  I'm looking at it as a "reinventing" of the story of pity and pessimism.  If power comes from naming, than re-naming a difficult experience can be powerful too, right?!

As previously mentioned here and here, I am unemployed and have been for going on 3 months now.  Perhaps needlessly said, the last 3 months have been a continual pity party: what am I doing with my life? What should I do next?  Why won't my personalities stop fighting?!  I've been looking at what I gave up when I left my job - you know, small things like rent money and a sense of purpose in this world.  I haven't let myself really look at the positives - the reasons for leaving in the first place and the benefits that have come from that decision.  Going against years of training, I will enumerate those positives now:

-Sanity: generally a good thing, especially for one inclined to insanity, such as myself.  There are a lot of scary, creepy people out in the world, and I felt like I was dealing with all of them on a daily basis.  Now I only have to deal with them when I choose to!  Yay for me!

-Environmental friendliness: In a really good week I was driving 600 miles a week - that could easily be closer to 750 or more in a bad week.  My not working is helping to save the environment!  Yay for the earth!

-Perspective: I can watch movies, watch strangers, read books ... pretty much enjoy any and all forms of entertainment without assuming that every guy I see/encounter is a totally jackass who is beating his intimate partner!  Yay for men!

-Time: I now have time to focus on the other areas of my life that were being neglected: writing, art, exercise and spirituality specifically.  These have always been very important to me, but it was hard to focus on anything other than not falling apart in front of clients, and these things have been too long ignored.  I also have time for the important people in my life ... you know ... like my husband!  I also have time for (here it is - you'll all be the first to know!) training for the Pacific Crest Trail next summer!!  Okay, okay - I'm actually only doing the Oregon leg of the trail, but still 430 miles in a month - pretty damn good!  Yay for hiking!

Now, don't get me wrong - I loved my job!  I really, really loved my job.  I felt very fulfilled there,  like I was being the person I always wanted to be - I just didn't realize that "the person I always wanted to be" was maybe not the healthiest option for me - that maybe I didn't have the personality or temperament to leave my work behind, to thrive while being surrounded by pain and suffering, to maintain a good quality of life and not let other people's problems become my own ... NOW I KNOW!  Yay for me again!  I know that I can still do work that's important to me and that helps other people, but that my skills, personality, experience is perhaps best focused on larger societal issues rather than one-on-one direct service work.  This is a good thing to know about yourself.

Don't go expecting all my posts to be so happy-go-lucky from here on out - this is seriously about as smooshy as I get, but it's important to remind yourself about the good every once in awhile!  I'm regaining perspective on my life.  That perspective might not be telling me what the bloody hell I should be doing! but it is helping me get back into contact with what's important, and that seems like a good place to start.

How about you all.  Are there experiences you want/need to re-name and reinvent?  An experience that needs a little perspective?  Please ... share with the world ... or the 12ish people who read this blog anyway! ;o)

Friday, August 28, 2009

This makes me sound completely insane, but I'm 95% sure that I'm not.

I've started this bloody post three times!!  I'm trying to be funny, witty, humorous ... pretty much everything I don't feel right now, so I'm just going to write it the way I feel - it may lack some of the grace and charm of other posts, but - hey, I think that exists mostly in my head anyway!

I have always felt that I am two very different people forced to live inside one body.  There is the sarcastic, independent feminist me who is skeptical of anything resembling religion, conservatism or traditional gender roles, and then there's the shy, calm homebody me who is deeply spiritual and wants nothing more than to have a family.  Needless to say, my two "mes" don't get along.  Life might be a bit easier - if not exponentially more complicated - if I had a third me, the mediator, the one who sets priorities, goals, passions and then decides what of the other two "mes" is best suited to take the lead in any given situation.  This, however, is not the case.  Both my mes (is this getting complicated for anyone else?!) have equally loud voices, equally strong pulls and hate the priorities of the other "me" equally as much.  There is no middle ground.  When I was younger these two mes ... 

(okay - wait - time-out; this whole "mes" stuff is getting really confusing for me, so I'm sure it is for you, and given my inclination for naming things, it only makes sense to give my two mes different names: feminist me is now Xena, Warrior Princess and homebody me is now Laura Ingalls Wilder ... okay, time-in)

... When I was younger, Xena and Laura played nicely - they generally got along and even helped each other out; when Laura was too shy for a party, Xena would step in; when a situation required more delicacy and tact than Xena could manage, along came Laura.  Now that they are both all grown up, however, with heir own dreams, goals, passion, etc. they have realized that only one of them can get their way, and they are fighting tooth-and-nail for the complete destruction of the other.  Now that I'm in my mid-twenties (on my out of my mid-twenties, actually) I really need to start making some life choices - deciding which way to go, what path I want to be on, which one of the "mes" dies - Xena or Laura - because I really don't see how they will coexist happily again.

Meet my two-personalities (see - I told you you didn't want to live in my mind):

Xena has an exuberant passion for life.  She's a fierce friend and companion and has unreasonably high expectations of herself and others; most people fall very short of these expectations and her disappointment is keenly felt.  Xena wants to live a fast-paced, high-powered life in the big city, traveling extensively and being the absolute best in her field.  She loves having people around - thrives on activity - and truly wants to help the world.  She wants to get divorced just so she can live with the same person she's living with now, but not in the "conventional" way, "fuck this institution called marriage" (oh yes, and Xena swears ... A LOT).  She never sees herself having children - it wouldn't fit into her lifestyle or goals, and simply isn't a priority.

Laura, on the other hand, wants desperately to have children and is feeling their absence daily; she wonders if it's maybe already too late to start.  She deeply values her spirituality and wants to practice it, uninhibited by convention or space.  Give Laura 5 acres with trees, water and tools and she'll be absolutely content.  She wants to raise animals, spool wool, grow her own food, have a ground-cellar, and the space to create, work and live without having neighbors listen on the other side of the wall.  Laura is exceedingly private.  She has few friends, but those who are can expect absolute devotion and compassion.  She is quick to forgive herself and others and simply wants to live in peace with her family, her farm and her thoughts.

So, here I am - the big, main, body Me, Emily - housing these two totally different set of ideals and goals, trying to figure out what the hell I actually want from life - where am I going?  What am I doing?  Do I want the country or the city?  Friends and activity or family and peace?  Xena or Laura?  It has to be a choice - one or the other.  There is no compromise or middle ground; neither of them would be happy with that; both would be disappointed and unfulfilled.   If I make a decision, however, I think I will also mourn the loss of the life-not-chosen, the death of the other me.  I know it has to happen, but how do you choose to kill half of your dreams - half of yourself?  How do you decide which path to follow?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guilty Conscious

There isn't a lot in my life that I regret; honestly, I can only think of two things - they are the same two that I've had for over 5 years now.  I've done some stupid things, definitely some things that I really shouldn't have done, but precious little that I would actually go back and change if I had the chance.  Those things, however, are not the topic of today's blog for two reasons: 1) no one would understand why that has me sobbing onto my keyboard, and 2) I'm not a fan of snot, and when I cry there is definitely snot, so it's best avoided.  Today's topic IS, however, related: guilt.

Unsurprisingly, I have a lot of guilt.  Perhaps it's the remnants of growing up with a religion that had a lot of rules and expectations that I not only completely didn't understand but utterly failed to live up to, or maybe I just hold on to things too long ... which I actually know is true, since I do also have a tendency to hold grudges.  Whatever the reason, there are two things that have been plaguing me for years (hmmm ... I sense a pattern of 2 ... now that I think on it, there are only two people that I still hold a grudge against as well ... hmmm ... dammit, now you know I'm going to be looking for patterns of two absolutely everywhere, utterly convinced that the number 2 has some sort of meaning for my life! ) *Eh-hem* moving on ... where was I? 

 "Two things have been plaguing you ..." 

Oh yes!  So,  two things have been plaguing me.  This isn't the keep-you-up-at-night kind of plaguing, but more the creep-into-your-mind-at-the-oddest-moments kind, the kind that randomly pop up and 30 minutes later you realize you've just been staring into space thinking about them - no lost sleep, but bad enough.  Both of them happened YEARS ago - Jr. High kind of years ago.  I don't know if I've just not done anything in the last 15 years to have guilt over ... haha!  Well, that's certainly not the case, so apparently my mind is starting with the early stuff and working its way up from there, and since my mind apparently only deals with issues two at a time (which we learned today), it chose these two:

1) In 6th grade, a boy in my class - we'll call him Edmond because I have never even met someone with that name - had some sort of brain surgery.  I think he had water on his brain, and if he hit his head too hard there was the potential for him to die.  Just imagine being a 12-year-old-ish kid, you've had brain surgery, you have to worry about not getting hit on the head too hard, you have to wear a bike helmet everywhere you go to help prevent your death if you do get hit hard on the head, and everyone in your class makes fun of you for it ... everyone, yes (here is where the guilt comes), everyone including me!  We were totally brutal to Edmond!
"Hey Edmond, how was your bike ride?"
"It's lunch, Edmond, not time to ride your bike!"
"Is English a little hard, Edmond?  Afraid it might hit you in the head?!"
I mean, seriously, it was absolutely ridiculous!  I'm furious with 12-year-old me!  It's not like he was new and we didn't know him (not that that would justify anything of course!) - we had gone to school with Edmond since kindergarden, and it's not like he could escape us - we all graduated high school together!  He had to go through the rest of school with the knowledge that the kids he had grown up and gone to school with his whole life didn't seem to give a shit that he could die.  I like to think we would have cared if something had happened, but you wouldn't know it to see how we behaved toward him.

2) I had a best friend growing up - how about I name her Suzie as I have only known cats with that name ... hmmm, ironically she hated cats, maybe I should name her something different ....  Anyway, her mom owned a business across the street from my house, and we played together almost everyday after school for years.  Jr. High rolls around, and we grow apart, inevitably.  We're still nice to each other, say hi, occasionally hang out, but we're not really good friends anymore.  My sister is dating her brother and for whatever reason I'm really irritated by this - something about "you spend more time with Suzie; when you have kids together you're going to want Suzie to babysit them, not me!" - seriously misguided anger!  So I do what any pissed off 8th grader does - I write it down in a note, but not only that, I give it to Suzie's now-best friend.  I can't even describe how bad this note was - it was horrible!  I don't even know how to describe it and pretty sure I don't actually want to ... it said horribly rude and untrue things about Suzie's family - people whose house I had played at and stayed over at for years, people who had been wonderful and kind to me ... I don't remember what all it said and I hope to god it doesn't exist somewhere still!  Needless to say, that ended any remnants of a friendship with Suzie right there.  It's a little difficult to avoid someone in a school of around 300, but we managed it for the next 4 years.  After high school I moved away - that made the avoidance much easier - and now it's 12-years post-note, and I've barely said a word to her since.

So, what brought this guilt-confession on?  Well, I saw Suzie on facebook the other day (ahhh facebook!) - apparently she's going by a different version of her name now, like going from Suzie to Susan - so I facebook-stalked her for a little bit, looking at her pictures, seeing that she's engaged, etc., and I had this overwhelming urge to write to her, to tell her I'm so terribly sorry for what I said, that I wish we could have been like those people who becomes friends in 3rd grade and stay friends for life, but how do you say that to someone you've hardly spoken to in 12 years, someone that you hurt so badly?  I will probably never see Edmond again - never have the chance to apologize for being such a mean little kid, but she is right there - I can email her so easily ... I can, but I'm so afraid to!  Is it better to drag it all back up just for the chance to relieve my guilty consciousness, or to hope that it's not something she thinks about any more and let it go? 

I'm not even close to the same person I was then - thank god!  I'm not nearly as angry at the world (I swear!) and I'm much more conscious of the potential outcomes of my actions.  So, the big question is: what is more selfish - bringing it up and apologizing - and I truly truly am sorry - while assuaging my guilt, or letting it go and letting her live in peace while I just deal with the guilt I feel as a not-quite-fitting-enough punishment?  I'm conflicted - I simply don't know the answer to this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The colors of social interaction

I'm wearing a pink shirt today (yup, that very one over there --->).  I know, I know - this doesn't seem profound or even very interesting, and you may very well be right, but bare with me and give me a moment to explain.  This is actually a fairly big moment for me!  You see, I don't wear pink ... no, that's not entirely correct - I don't wear colors, period!  To give a little perspective on the matter, a perusal of my closet, dresser and laundry basket turns up: 

- 26 white, off-white and mostly white shirts, tank-tops, sweaters and jackets
- 9 brown or khaki pants, skirts and dresses
- 22 black or grey shirts, tank-tops, sweaters and jackets
- 7 black or grey pants, skirts and dresses
- A smattering of maroon and a pinch of green thrown in to prove I can at least see colors!

As you can see, I'm not one to deviate from the tried and true fashion rule that you can't go wrong with black, white and brown or variations of those non-colors.  Colors draw too much attention, require too much interaction with those around you and generally say to the world, "why yes, complete stranger, I am in fact open to your advances of social friendliness, I will have something witty to reply with and we'll both leave the interaction feeling happy and refreshed!"  This is generally not the impression I want to leave with people, not because I'm not friendly or don't want to talk to the random, caffeine-starved (or overdosed, depending on the time of day) people I'm standing in line with, but because those very people will leave with their hopes of casual conversation dashed upon the rocks that is my social awkwardness.  

I generally make one of two mistakes when strangers try to talk to me. Probably the most common problem is that I end up having a conversation with myself while trying to figure out how to retort their brilliant opening line, "hi!"  If  you live in my head - which, thank your lucky stars you don't! - the exchange sounds something like this:

Stranger, attempt 1: "Hi."
Self 1, to self 2, "say hi!"
Self 2, "She just said hi, I can't say exactly the same thing!"
Self 1, "Say 'hello' then."
Self 2, "Doesn't 'hello' sound entirely too formal?  I might as well ask if she's 
         seen the queen lately."
Self 1, "... ... ... What?!"
Self 2, "You know, formal - queen, you have to be really formal to meet the queen."
Self 1, "How do you know that?  Have you met a queen lately?"
Self 2, "No, of course I haven't meet a queen, but you can just imagine how formal 
        it would be to meet one!  I think there are a bunch of rules you have to 
        follow, mostly about being really formal ..."
Self 1, "Oh, you're right, remember when Michelle Obama met the queen and broke some 
        sort of touching rule - the press wasn't happy about that. I guess ..."
Stranger, attempt 2, "It's a really long line for coffee this time of day, isn't it?"
Self 2, "Yeah, it really is!"
Self 1, "Don't say it to me, say it to her!"
Self 2, "But it's so obvious!  I need something witty and interesting to say!"
Self 1, "No you don't! Just say something! Tell her you like her shirt."
Self 2, "What?!  No, that's creepy - she didn't ask me about clothes, she asked 
         about the coffee line - I can't just change to subject to something so 
Self 1, "It's a shirt - she's wearing it in public, it's not that personal."
Self 2, "Yeah, but ..."
Self, to the stranger, "Um ... yeah, it's pretty ..."
Barista, "Hey, you, with the kitty-kat cup holder, it's your turn to order!"

Of course, if you're the stranger - or anyone else caring to listen - it sounds, and looks, like:

Stranger, attempt 1, "Hi."
Crazy woman with the white shirt, black pants and kitty-kat cup holder turns around, as if to respond, but instead stares with brow slightly furrowed ...
Silence ...
Silence ...
Silence ...
Stranger, attempt 2, "It's a really long line for coffee this time of day, isn't it?"
Silence ...
Silence ...
Eyes move down to shirt ... silence ...
Silence ...
"Um ... yeah, it's pretty ..."
Barista, "Hey, you, with the kitty-kat cup holder, it's your turn to order!"

This exchange is probably more preferable - to everyone involved - than the seldom-used alternative of voicing the confusion in my head, which goes something like:
"Michelle Obama is the queen of the United States, and I think she has a shirt exactly like that one! ... Look! Kitty-kats! (maniacal grin, pointing to my cup holder)."

The problem is that spontaneous interaction is just that - spontaneous - it lacks any sort of relational definitions or boundaries.  If you'd see me at work or school, you'd never guess I can't hold coherent chit-chat with those around me - I can schmooze, connect, network and function normally with the best of 'em!  But the game is different - the rules are outlined and my role is specific!  I can do specific roles!  I can be work me, and you can be work you and there are rules for that dialog and relationship!

This is something I'm working on, however; hence, the pink shirt!  It's the brightest, most come-and-talk-to-me thing I own!  I'm making progress! I'm willing to try! I'm totally not planning to leave the house today!  

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Intentions; or, Self Discovery and Spiritual Revelation in a Hair Salon

<----- Hey look!  I have followers!  

Employment Stats:
Employment status: still not
Number of jobs applied for: 11
Number of interviews: 2
Number of jobs offered and declined: 1 (not a good sign when someone asks about religion and politics and if you're crazy in an interview)
Number of jobs I was really hoping I wouldn't get offered because I was going to have to accept but was ridiculously disappointed when I wasn't offered it: 1 

Now for the main entertainment! (Warning: it is long, and I ramble for awhile, and don't really make my point until the end, so feel free to skip the top if you want!)

I don't spend a lot of time in hair salons.  I get my hair trimmed - at best - every 6 months (although I have gone longer than a year ... they had to take a lot off at that point!)  My hair is stick straight - not a hint of a wave or the beginnings of a curl in sight - and, especially now that I'm unemployed, rarely leave the house and have no one in particular to impress, I pretty much let it do whatever it bloody wants to do.  This does not go over well with whatever hair stylist I've managed to get an appointment with that day:

"What do you want done today?"
"Just trim it."
"How much?"
"As little as possible but as much as necessary make it all healthy and glowy."
"Yeah, you know, that fabulous, 'I just got my hair done and now it's better than yours' look."
Looking skeptically at the ends of my hair pinched between her fingers, "Um, it's pretty damaged.  I'm going to have to take at least an inch off."
"Totally fine."
"Don't you want to do something else with it?  I could do layers or something," she says, starting to get excited looking at the blank canvas that is my head.
"No.  Just trim it."
"With your hair so straight [read: so lifeless, limp, boring ...] some layers could really add some body."
"Would that require me to do something with it?"
"Not a lot, but it would look really nice if you did ..." - a poorly disguised admonishment. 
"I could just do a few long ones in the back ..."
Big sigh as she realizes that I am every hair stylists' nightmare - someone with halfway decent hair that refuses to do anything interesting with it, "Okay then.  Where do you normally part it?"
"Oh, you know, wherever it feels like it ... usually here-ish (indicated by a waving of the hand in the general direction of my head)."

Needless to say, I don't have a cosy, gossipy relationship with my hair stylists like you see in the even-on-my-worst-day-my-life-is-still-better-than-yours-could-ever-be type movies and TV shows aimed at women my age.  Salons are not sacred grounds to me, they aren't ever particularly liked grounds!  So it was in this frame of mind, while chanting my salon-mantra "don't let them talk you into layers; don't let them talk to you into layers," that I made the bi-yearly trek to a salon last week.

I was early - of course, a tried-and-true tactic to keep my defenses up and will strong.  I was escorted to the back couches with the water that I asked for even though I what really wanted was the tea that she'd offered.  My stylist-of-the-day would be Grae, an apprentice - a status that made her MUCH cheaper (score!) but also slower, which made my showing my 15 minutes early even more unnecessary.  I pursued the selection of magazines and picked up a thick one that actually ended up being a book rather than a magazine and settled in for a long wait.  I was a little wary about the book which is, as it ends up, produced by the salon itself and has "MUST READ!!" scrawled in black Sharpie across the bottom.  "It's a salon book," I told myself, "what could it possibly tell you that you would have the least bit interest in?"  I almost gave in and put it back, but looking again at the magazines didn't give much more hope in the "interest" department - hair magazines made for people who actually style their hair and popular magazines about celebrities love lives and prison sentences ... all of which I'd already read at the physical therapist's office.  The salon book it is.

The book ended up being about creating harmony in your life.  Pretty cool - I'm good with harmony.  The first section talked about external environments and things we choose to put in our bodies: food, chemicals, etc. (I don't think that the quarter I swallowed as a kid because I didn't have pockets to put my video-game money in would've made their list of "healthy" things to put in your body ... just a guess).  So I'm reading along about what my personality types says about what kind of food I should eat - it's definitely not a science as evidenced by the "cheese" and "dairy products" which is just cruelly ironic to a person who can barely be in the same room with dairy products without throwing up and getting a migraine, and I'm really not sure what eating dairy products is supposed to say about your personality anyway ... like I said, not a science - when I got to section two - rituals.

Now, let me explain a couple of things before I go on.  I have been a runner most of my life.  I am one of those crazy people who really enjoys a nice long run (when I'm in shape, which - let me tell ya - I'm totally not right now!).  I love the connection you feel with your body, the rhythm of your stride and heart beat, the solitude.  On a not-all-together-unrelated note, I'm also a fairly spiritual person.  I'm not religious in any sense of word, and in fact have to try hard to not be anti-religion - a battle I seem to be loosing right now.  I do, however, really enjoy ritual and the idea of spirituality much for the same reasons I enjoy running ... connection, rhythm and solitude.  Both running and spiritual practice have been huge parts of my life until recently.  I stopped running because of bad knees (which are getting better with physical therapy!) and stopped any sort of spiritual practice when I started my last job both because of time issues and because the introspection necessary for spiritual practice was much too difficult while doing the kind of work I was doing.  

Back to the book:  I turned to page to section two about ritual and what is listed as the two most important rituals for creating harmony in your life?  Physical exercise and spiritual practice.  So there I was, still waiting for my hair stylist, reading about the importance of exercise and spirituality ("Almost everyone, even those of us who are not religious, have some sort of spiritual belief and ritual - whatever yours is, do it!" according to the book) and it hit me - I have had one of the most difficult years of my life, first with my job and now with my lack of job, and I have spent this incredibly difficult year almost completely devoid of physical and spiritual work.  Maybe that's where my harmony went.  I almost started to cry - tears were welling in my eyes and about to break free - but that would have totally scared the high school boy sitting next to me waiting for his massage appointment - which, really, seems pretty creepy, right? - so I pretended to have something in my eye - pulling out my little mirror and everything.  By the time I was done with the something-in-my-eye charade, it was my turn with the apprentice.  

I put down the "MUST READ!!" book and ended up leaving the appointment with lots of long-ish layers and my hair two-inches shorter than it really should have been, but also (here comes the gushy part) with a new intention.  If I get back to the things that are important to me and practice both physical and spiritual ritual maybe this next year can be lived with more harmony and grace than the last one was.  I'm willing to try.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The beginning

I'm unemployed.  I left my job - on good terms - about 2 months ago.  "This will be great!" I told myself, "I can write, do art, get outside and enjoy the sunshine ..." all I can manage to do, however, is worry about my future, fuss about being bored and wonder where in the hell is the manual for being a married, mid-twenties something, cat-owning, unemployed shmoe with 7 years of college under her belt?!  How is it possible that I'm in the same position I was fresh from college graduation?  Hell, I'm practically in the same place I was after high school graduation, expect that I've acquired a new cat, a husband and debt - not necessarily in that order.  

It's not that I don't have goals and dreams, or even that I don't have ambition and drive to achieve them; the problem is I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing!  I know, I know - do what you love, what you want, what makes you happy, what makes you money, whatever gets you out of the damn house and away from your cats!  Cliques like, "Your options are endless" and "You can be anything you put your mind to" might sound - as intended - inspirational and satisfying when your parents are still paying the bills, but when you're supposed to be making real-life decisions, deciding what "path" to be on, all those "options" and "anythings" become terrifying creepies that haunt your insomniatic mind until the wee hours of the morning: Grad school? Fellowship?  Job search?  Travel?  Kids?  

To give some context to the terror that is making-life-decisions, here is a typical conversation with myself: 

"Okay, self, I've decided!  I'm going to grad school!"

"Congratulations, self! Way to be assertive and make a decision!  So, which program will it be: Women's Studies? Public Policy? Conflict Resolution? Teaching?"

"Oh, umm, I hadn't really ... I'm still working that out."

"Of course, of course, no need to hurry. Where you gonna go? Are you going to find the best program that will take you?  Find a professor you want to study with?  Stay close to home and family?  How long do you want to go?  Get a masters or just get it all done and once and get your doctorate? What if you hate the program? Your professors? Your cohort? What if you can't find a job after you graduate?" 

"Okay, okay, self, sheesh .... Well, I have been in school for 7 years already, maybe what I really need is to spend some more time working.  Now I've really made my decision!  I'm going to look for a job!"

"Oh, that's fantastic, self!  That decision should make life much less complicated! So, are you going apply for jobs in this city? State? Region? Are you willing to leave your partner (catless, because they are SO coming with you) while he finishes his degree and you take a job in New York?  Do you take the entry level job or hold out of the one you're really interested in and almost qualified for? Is it possible to have a garden in a New York City apartment, and do you really want to spend 50% of your income to rent a 300 sf studio with neighbors who cook with stinky-cheese at 3 AM?"

"Whoa, self!  I thought you said this decision would make life less complicated!"

"It will be less complicated after you answer these simple, little questions! Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to!"

"Nope, too many questions, too many complications - skip school, skip work, go traditional and have kids!"

"Who in the hell approved you for motherhood?!"

Trust me, no one could sleep with this babble going on in their head every night for months!  

And that brings me here, pouring out my deepest frustrations and fears to you - the nameless ... um ... several ... and my mom - undecided and paralyzed by options.  Aren't you glad you came?!