Adrift

The menagerie has moved.  It has been a bumpy ride for months; my graduation, losing two jobs and gaining one, the presidential election. It is December now and the year is coming to a close… I can’t remember the last time I’ve written.  It doesn’t matter anyways.

I feel compelled to write.

I work in another college town now; a more urban one. I pass by countless faces, and so many of them are full of life.  I don’t know anyone any more.  I suppose that is what happens when you move away. Some days that gets me down- to know I’m so close to human beings but yet so far.  I walk perhaps a mile or two a day to get free parking, and I see so many faces along the way.

But my own face…I’ve lost the last of my youthful plumpness.  It’s gone of my face entirely now. My cheek bones; prominent.  My neck is slender.  My body has been sculpted by years of adult strife and learning curves.  It is not lost on my mind that I’ve become prime real estate to men looking to settle down.  In any other era, I might have been married off at my age and in my state.  I’m 24.  Perhaps, I’ve reached the peak of my attractiveness.  It’s a precarious time to be alive.  At once, I want to be alone and free but also internally long for belonging and a family of my own.  I’ve become very split and indecisive.  Suitors have presented themselves and I’ve turned so many down.

So it is striking that I have the audacity to feel wronged in life.  To feel….cast aside and overlooked.  I do, and I can’t shake it.

As a child, I was very serious.  Very bossy.  I had so few friends.  That carries into my life today.  I don’t know who my truest friends are.  I’m still what some may call “uptight”…My definition of fun, though, simply differs from that of so many.  I struggle to reconcile those differences as I wish to connect.  Simultaneously, I feel myself building a wall. I feel I am putting on a show.  A failed show, which knows and is painfully self-aware and that is why it fails.  I entertain company from time to time, and think what a terrible bore I must be to them…lost in my own world.  I look away.  My mind wanders. I push them away.

Sometimes, as I go through trying to fulfill work, personal, and family goals, I feel distinctly adrift.  I feel like my sense of well being hinges on whichever way the wind blows.  I come home, exhausted, achy, sore.  I get messages from men and it feels so meaningless.  I find myself ignoring them.  Thinking, if I please everyone, I displease myself.

The secret is, I want to make so many people happy.  I want to be that girl to that boy, and it amplifies 10x.  But it is my duty, to myself and to the world, to choose only one to love. That is an insanely impossible task.

So I drive home, through the back roads.  The headlights of oncoming traffic flash by, and light my face.  I instantly tear up, thinking of what I am not and what I will never be.  I feel adrift in an emotional sea.

 

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The Mental Drain and the Year of Two Jobs

It is just past midnight and I recognize today is October 18th.  Today is the day, one year ago, that I was hired for a position at a pet store.  A near dream come true for a pet lady such as I.  Coincidentally, I work some time later today.  And by later, I mean in the early morning but later than now.  I work at the pet store I have called home since this time last year.  No really, I moved right in, and I’m quite snug with the activity within.  Gone it seems are the days when I wait for assistance; for now when I approach the wall of cichlid tanks that converge at the middle of the freshwater department, lit in a glorious glory, I know all that makes up them.  I know as much or more than the lady or gentleman I might ask for help.  It’s humbling, to think where I used to sit as a customer for so many years, and to fit in so fast and adapt so well. I think I adapt well, but at this hour I must be truthful and admit I am actually drained.  I have been more drained of my bodily resources in the giving of further labor.  I never imagined life could be both this tough and rewarding.  Sometimes I wish it were neither and I seek to only reward myself.  Congrats, Heather.  Congrats, Fish Geek Girl.  You made it a whole year.  Now what?

The trouble is I am trying to finish up schooling.  The dream job, as it might be, is also a teaser into the world I would rather abandon studies for.  I have always loved observing fish.  In studying fisheries and wildlife, I do get a close understanding of the world they naturally inhabit.  I can expertly pluck darters from the local streams in a heartbeat.  It’s more intuitive than instructed at this point, but it does little to further my career. I hesitate tonight as I look into my tanks and think what a career might be.  Oh goodness, a career!  That means settling down and babies and maybe marriage if the tradition holds up by then.  I don’t think I can properly prioritize family.  I think of a coworker who gripes at an $80 fertilizer bill her husband’s planted tank habit could rack up monthly, and how it was vetoed in favor of family expenses.  I don’t…at this point, I don’t think I can value anything more than the hobby I so blatantly finance.  Tonight, after all, I brought home enough pet food to make me a tad suspicious in the checkout line.  I’m the crazy fish lady.  Who also has rats, reptiles, and more.  I can only find comfort in the fact I stopped at one cat.

My energy is being siphoned in all directions, I can feel it.  I feel a sharp dread whenever I sit, just knowing I shouldn’t be sitting but that I really can’t help but indulge.  I wish so desperately I could resign to a simple life, farming my zoo and working one mediocre job til I croak.  I suppose that isn’t a fair existence, though.  It doesn’t do my family or upbringing justice.  I’m a very smart girl, when I want to be.  It just seems I apply my energy in all the wrong places.  But it isn’t wrong to me, now is it?  I just gotta get the degree.  I know I have it in me.  I know I can do it, and that’s the worst part about failing so hard.  I’m scraping by in all aspects of life when my energy siphons four or five ways at once.  I’m on empty, and sleep only recharges me halfway.  However, I can quit nothing at this time.

Sometimes I wonder when the scale will tip in my favor.  I already pointed out I serve people very little.  I don’t fully know what I have to offer.  I don’t fully know what will happen in the lifespan I might have.  I know what I do now matters, but I know the stress of the present will put nails in my coffin of flesh and bones.  I love this little body of mine.  It is fairly darn efficient for being what it is.  It is, however, capable of only so much and the daily maintenance efforts quickly fall behind the ideals my mind holds.  I want a beautiful space.  I want a sustainable lifestyle.  I want it all.

It is a half-hour or more past midnight now.  I have this blog as a mental diary.  If I don’t write it, I think it regardless.  Those thoughts clog up the mind and slow its function.  So if I leave them here, they are always safe to revisit.  I don’t have to hold them so close, if I let them go.  I know where I can reflect on this.  I drain my ideas onto keyboard, and it flows from my fingers accordingly.  It is here, forever, and I am aware anything I say or write in the virtual world has the potential to haunt me.  Maybe I want to be haunted by these words.  They like to linger, after all.  So I breathe in deeply and give it no further thought.  Reality can be altered in infinite ways.

Cheers to a year

Social Tensions

It is fall again. And like the seasons, human emotions run in cycles. I feel like I’m watching things come full circle. I feel like a repeat button has been engaged and now I’m helpless to avoid the fated redundancy. The fated misery. I feel like I’m dying inside, to see such disinterest in the world and to see the fuel of it in the hands of the majority. Being social animals, humans want to be like each other. Humans strive for acceptance and commonality with a group of peers. What sickens me tonight and prompts this blog from dormancy is the witnessing of people with a profession for animals care and act so little towards them. To see such a lack of passion and a pretended front. With social media to hide behind, people can claim anything. People can stage anything. I don’t get people, to be anything other than what they are.

It drives me nuts to be a passionate fish geek and to simultaneously wear the title “goody two-shoes.” Lost, I’m sure, is all meaning to that phrase. But here I am, purely me. And nothing of that is like anything I’ve seen. Simply put, there isn’t another “me.” And that’s grand. That’s super. But I find myself amongst a crowd of people dressing and acting so similar. I am nearly convinced it is the phone in their palms that drives their disinterest. Nay, it consumes all of their interest so nothing is left to give. I see what looks like an empty person, so devoid of innocence and ingenuity and that spark of passion. I do not wish to join, but for whatever disdain I bring I feel it in return. There is a mutual dislike that is unspoken but I am convinced must be there. I am convinced people cannot leave dramatic interaction out of their routine. I know we all lie and hide and pretend. I know there is so little that is genuine. So this social tension begins again.

The Fish Focus

I have thought of writing, but then life gets strange. Every day, I write to the people directly in my life. Every day, I live to the fullest and become exhausted. Every day, I drink my glass of optimism and push through. I do it for the fish. I do it because that’s what makes things happen for me.

So I have quit focusing on relationships. I just can’t keep it straight. I could fill many pages of my woes. I feel differently one day to the next, after all, on that subject. Inevitably I shall tell you what deserves my attention. I focus now on my deepest interests. I focus on my fish once more.

I have so many fascinating animals under my care. By observing and devoting my time to husbandry, I feel fulfilled. I take so many pictures and make so many notes and it isn’t a chore in my mind. If only my time weren’t split to other obligations, my life would be quite simple. I don’t have drama. I don’t have concerns that occupy my mind for long. What concerns me would cripple me if I chose to focus energy. I expel the energy daily in my gleeful rants of this and that. Of baby fish and oddball critters and meaningful connections. It means so much to me. It means so much it hurts.

I’m interning now for the Department of Natural Resources. I feel a great expansion in my mind. I see where a previously arrogant girl thought she knew it all and knew nothing. I am here admitting how little I knew and how little I know even now. I’m thirsty for the knowledge. Even as I’m simultaneously aware of my unease with the world. I’m a switch that flips from confident to questioning at will.

If I focus on fish, I find the questions cease to exist.

The deciding Moment has arrived. A decision made. Now we stew in it

He asked me out.  I gave an ultimatum without really knowing I had done so.  I wanted to be something to someone.  So now I am.  But it turns out, I was something to many people all along.  I was something worth caring for. The only difference is now the hopes of others have been crushed.  Never deciding may have been nice, for I would have never hurt a soul.  And I’m always happy with just me. I digress.  I could never perpetually balance three. 

By today, I have been dating him the better part of a month in complete exclusion.  It has been a good time.  He’s the winner of my company simply because he requested it explicitly.  Well, not quite that simple.  He has also been the most emotionally available.  Even so, I feel the pain of the other two men I have cared for.  I would not assume that they miss me or feel a void without.  No, that’s not how I function. Rather, I have received many forms of proof.  Though the look in their eyes tells me the most.  And when I meet eyes with either man, I forget I have given myself to someone.  For a minute, I get lost in the gaze and the feelings that have remained begin to stir.  Then he breaks the gaze in recognition of the barrier between us.  Or continues to look in a longing fashion until I come to and command my body to move along.   It is a time of mourning for some.   Mostly I just wonder why I cannot be steadfast in my decision.  Why do I allow that gaze at all? 

I’m an honest woman, I like to think.  I don’t cheat.  My good friend and ex is turning 26 tonight.  I know he feels his time is wasting.  He’s getting older and women these days don’t care for his “wait until marriage” stance.  He hasn’t been in a relationship since we broke up over a year ago.  He split with me.  But up until recently, we have been in good standing.  I have looked to him for comfort since last summer.  We refused to ever date again.  I think he was starting to realize I was special.  He definitely feels it now.  I invited him over for food, because he always polishes off leftovers like a champ.  He ate.  We had small talk.  And then….he wanted to leave.  He shook my hand.  I gave him a hug.  He has a bit of a beard coming in recently.  I point it out to him.  He says he simply stopped caring.  In that moment, I died inside.  I felt the crushing feeling he felt.  I can empathize pretty decently and it was a horrendous feeling.  I used to make him so happy…..but now only pain remains.  Because he knows he cannot feel my lips against his.  It may never happen again.  But my heart has split in chunks and he owns a piece for all of our misadventures and for the two years plus that I have known him so well.  I wish we could have gotten along better.  Before it was too late. 

I know another soul in some capacity.  When he discovered I was no longer single, he abruptly said to me “So I saw your facebook status….I’m happy for you.”  But he had a pained look in his eyes.  His beautiful blue eyes.  Blue like mine.   Of course I’m happy.  But I’m not happy that he’s unhappy.  Except recently this soul began to pick up in my proximity.  He was whistling cheerfully and joking.  And he told me big changes were taking place.  Good things.  I’m overjoyed inside.  But then he still seems hopeful.  I guess I have a harder time breaking the gaze with a man with blue eyes. 

So now I’m stewing.  I’ve made my choice, because the choice was so clear.  I can only date a man who presents himself as dating material.  I want a standard for myself.  I want to be with people who actively do nice things for me.  I want to be with people who send me messages in the morning that say “good morning beautiful”  or better yet people who stay the night with me because they can.  Because why in the hell wouldn’t they?  I’m very good company.

 

Still, I have a hectic summer schedule to maintain.  I’m taking an online class, an internship, and working two jobs to the best of my ability.  Not only all of that, I have a hobby that demands attention.  My first love is always the fish.  My first love is myself and my interests.  But my second love may forever be contested grounds if I cannot learn to let things go.  If I cannot learn what compliments me best in my heart. 

The things that kill you

My whole life I have struggled with keeping on weight.  I would always feel hunger intensely and when I would scramble for food, I would find moments later I would lose interest and leave where I lay this 70% full portion.   I must eat a quarter of what normal Americans do, at that rate.  It’s tough.  It’s tough not because I do not want it but because anxiety claims my body.  It makes the heart flutter uncontrollably and the brow furrow in strained musculature.  It takes me so far from the reality I fight to reclaim.  

 

Tonight, I have not had an easy time circling the bed.  I could barely sit still without wanting to cry or puke.  Last night was a similar story.  I have been off my anxiety and depression meds a few months strong now.  And combined with a full plate of labor before me, I have felt myself more likely circling the drain.  I have slowly been losing ground and the simplest tasks have now become frustratingly impossible.  This anxiety I have ridden to bad places.  It has convinced me I’m dying, because it really does take a toll.  I have never been more than 110 pounds in weight.  I would wager I’m slimmer than 99 at this point.  If my father’s concern for my lost presence is to be warranted.  I am not too far gone, though.  I see what is happening with great clarity even with such tired eyes. 

 

I needed the medication.  I never wanted to need it, and I convinced myself I did not.  But for the time being, my life is too hectic to not have the extra support.  I can’t afford to lose any more ground to the menace of the mind.   So I fight back.  I fight with drugs that counteract the poor wiring up top.  I fight because I have to. 

 

A lot of things can kill you in this world.   To suspect the body attacking itself is a worse nightmare.  But it claims a silent victim no longer.  At least for me.   And tonight I sleep. 

Why did you choose me? Why did you burden me with this choice?

I’m a fish geek girl.  Why are you bothering me with affection?  You know I am not capable by now.  You know I do not know what to do with it.  These are the thoughts that plague me, when I’m left an empty shell of what I should be.  I sincerely wish you happiness.  But I mourn the loss of my own….

It’s raining softly tonight.  I saw two of my suitors, nearly back to back.  I can hardly tell what I’m doing, why I entertain them both in one evening.  Putting on my best smile, trying not to stumble with words.  They are aware of each other.  Neither appears to be perturbed by the other man’s role in my life.  It’s at a standstill.  And all I really want to do much of the time is take care of my fish tanks, and relish a few moments of human interaction.  Maybe the animal is there, too.  I wouldn’t mind showing them.  But my need for human company drives me to this situation.  Where I realize I do not belong with any of them or to any, but that I need one or both simultaneously.  By not belonging, I can accommodate more than one.  At least in an emotional way.  It leaves my emotions drained. I know I’m out to satisfy the lives of others on a temporary basis.  That’s what my life has become.  It makes my life unsatisfactory on some nights.  Other nights, I feel tremendously on top of the world.  I guess not in this instance.  I mostly wonder why I have become a target for lost men of whom I care deeply for.  I want to be what they need.  I struggle to reconcile differences.  I struggle to make myself the woman I know I can be.    For them, but not so much for me. 

The girl inside this body just wants her hobby above all.  It’s the ultimate goal and the ultimate fixation to reach the goals underneath the headline “fish keeping.”  I want to be a master breeder of many species.  I want to model my career around my expertise and passion.  That’s all I know with unfailing confidence.  Confidence in nearly every other area fails.  

This experiment may be poised to make my life a more intense misery than any I could imagine.  I may also exaggerate on behalf of incredible fears.   I don’t know that I can connect with people, truly.  I don’t know how to keep myself from separation.