What If I Run Away to Mexico?

I could, you know. I could do it. I could quit my job to go teach English in Mexico City, or get my MBA from Ibero. I wouldn’t be fluent, but I could learn enough Spanish to get by if I studied really hard for a few months. Or I could keep my lame job, and just work from home…in another country.

Or I could stay. And keep working at the job I’m slowly starting to hate and will only grow to hate more. Maybe I could find a different job here, one I’m a little better at, and I’ll just continue to be mediocre and boring and I’ll marry someone boring (probably someone my dad actually likes) and have a nice, tastefully boring wedding and I’ll have kids when I’m 30 and I’ll retire peacefully when those boring kids are in college.

If I go, I might miss some things. But I’ll miss those things if I stay. My grandparents will grow old while I’m gone, but they grow old every day and I’m only a couple of hours away now. I’ll be back before they get too old, I’ll tell myself. I might miss my youngest brother B as he grows up, but he grows up every day without me. He’s 10, and about the enter the awkward phase I’m probably better off missing anyway. I’ll miss my friends, but I miss them anyway. When I tell them I’m leaving, they’ll say “But I’ll never see you!” and I’ll want to say You never see me anyway but I’ll try to bite my tongue the best I can. Because the ones that will say that will be the ones that never try to see me now, and I’m barely an hour away. I’ll still see them once or twice a year when I come home, and that’s about as often as I see them now. Nothing will change. They won’t be jealous of my lifestyle because they couldn’t imagine ever leaving. They might even think I’m crazy or fucking stupid for “disrupting my career.” And all of that is fine, because I think that’s how things are supposed to work. They’ll buy house and get married, and I’ll keep traveling. I will continue to disrupt my career until I’m doing what I love.

But I think I might actually go. I won’t love every second of it, but I would regret not going a lot more than I’ll regret going. If I stay, I’ll regret every second of that boring life.

I want and need good stories to tell. A writer needs to live to have something to write about. Staying in a Midwestern suburb my entire life isn’t going to give me enough to write about.

So what if I really go to Mexico?

As crazy as it sounds

Note of minor importance: I think I wrote this back in February/March and I’m just now posting. Oops!

You keep trying to ask me why. Why I’m still here, why I love you, why…. idk what exactly the rest of that question is, but it’s something to that effect.

At risk of sounding cliché: you make me laugh, I’m way too comfortable around you, and it’s all so easy, still.

But it’s also about the things you’re not: you’re not jealous, or bitter, or untrusting/untrustworthy. I’ve dated those people and none of them are fun.

It’s even simpler than that, though: you get things done, I don’t have to nag. If I need you to do something, you do it. I mentioned before that you’re not a child, you can take care of yourself. You laughed and said my standards must not be that high, but you haven’t met my exes.

Most of all… you actually want me to tell you what I think. You don’t ask out of obligation, you actually want to know. You want to know what I want. My desires matter! You change things or do things because of me! Because you want me to be happy, I guess? That never happens! You know I hate the smell of smoke so you switched to e-cigs. I noticed. I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but I noticed. I noticed awhile ago, I just didn’t think it was because of me. I almost cried when I found out that was why.

You come across as an asshole. Sometimes you’re actually an asshole. You are shockingly blunt and way too honest at times, but that same characteristic makes you insanely genuine. Nothing you do or say is because you think it’s what I want to hear. All of it is only the truth (for better or worse).

Yet behind all the dickish comments and brutal truths, you care more than anyone else I’ve ever been with.

I don’t mean to compare you to anyone else. I think I’m just trying to say that based on my experience, I didn’t think anyone like you actually existed. The little things mean a lot.

You had this way of catching me off-guard early on. I’d run errands with you and have more fun than I would have ever thought possible in that situation. You’d make some off-hand comment that was EXACTLY what I needed at the time. When I was starting my ‘experiment with hedonism’ and actually trying to be selfish, you made some comment like “just do you. do what you want and fuck everyone else.” I swear to god I almost fell in love with you right then.  Oddly/fittingly enough I think I even wrote this the day I met you: Experimenting with Hedonism.

It all sounds ridiculous, maybe. But I’ve never had anyone change their behavior – no matter how simple of a change it is – just to make me that little ounce happier. I’ve never had someone who would go out of their way – no matter how tiny the inconvenience – just to make something happen for me. I’ve rarely had someone follow through on any/all of their plans or promises. Sometimes people remember I don’t like olives- but they never remember I don’t like olives, pickles, mustard, spinach, and jalapeños. You remember things that I say. I’m always amazed by that.

Each thing by itself isn’t much I suppose. But all of it together? That’s just crazy.

 

Trying to Network as an Introvert

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know” says the salesman father to his straight-A-student and introverted daughter.

I used to think I was outgoing, once upon a time. Then I went to a summer camp in Chicago with no one I knew and realized I am not that person.

I hate networking. It all seems fake and I’m terrible at small talk. I’ve only successfully networked once. I don’t even really remember how we met, but he ended up recommending me for a job before we ever met in person. Let’s call him Joe. Very nice guy, and probably the closest thing to a mentor that I have.

Joe and I get together every time I’m back at my Alma Mater. He understands some of the painful parts of my job that I hate. He knows a lot of people in the industry and in the business world in general. Any time I mention any potential company I might want to work for, he seems to know someone who works/has worked there. I picked a good person to network with.

Joe works for the university, and because he works with students trying to find a job, he encounters a lot of people like me. Young professionals, out there in the world trying to figure it out. So occasionally I get emails where he tries to connect me with these people – people with their first real job, in my general metro area. Which seems great, right? So I reach out to the first few all “hey let’s get coffee!” and got nothing back. So I stopped trying to reach out.

I just recently received a LinkedIn message from one of these people Joe suggested (months ago) I connect with. Which is sort of great, right? Even if it’s months later, she’s still trying to connect. But between the phone tag I’m playing with her right now, all I can think about is: wtf am I going to say to this person?

I know what to say to random recruiters when they call. I know what to say to people who are asking me for help finding a job. I know what to say to lots of other strangers that I have to interact with.  I have scripts for a lot of situations. I have answers ready to the questions I expect them to ask. But this is a new thing for me. And I haven’t had to put my fake bubbly face on in awhile. Then again, do I have to? I’m not trying to impress this person like I’m interviewing for a job. She’s just a person that’s nice to know, right? But still: wtf do I say to this person? What do we talk about?

Hopefully she’s outgoing and extroverted and good at small talk and this will all be okay. It’s all about who you know.

Respect

I used to have this stepdad. He was ex-military and still looked the part: close-cut hair, bald eagle tattoo on his calf, and preferred to wear his correctional officer uniform even after he left the prison for the day. If not for his rounded, aging face and worsening posture, you’d think he just got back from basic training. He wanted to treat my brother and I like we were part of some sort of boot camp where periodic, unannounced room checks were the most annoying part of this weird role playing. And he liked to talk about “respect.” How he just wanted to earn our respect, how we were always disrespectful to him, how he respects us and our space but he just wanted the same respect in return.

And it was always bullshit. My brother and I talked back to this stepdad a lot, that much is true. But we were teenagers and we already had a dad who didn’t try to treat us like recruits so I’m not sure what this stepdad expected. My brother and I did not appreciate him coming into our lives and trying to change our routines, our lifestyle, our relationships. So we made that known to him, and he found it “disrespectful.”

This stepdad never actually did anything to earn our respect. He only tried to bribe us or win us over – and he failed. He would let us have something that mom wouldn’t, maybe, but then “our little secret” became a twisted form of double-sided blackmail. He tried to teach me how to drive, I think. He let me drive his truck on back roads before I had my permit. Unfortunately for him I’d been doing that with my actual dad since I was probably 10 or 11. I wasn’t impressed.

These things were supposed to make us like him, but they never worked and definitely didn’t make us respect him. If anything, we respected him less for trying to earn our trust in cheap, cliche, stereotypical stepdad ways. He didn’t respect us or our intelligence enough to understand that we knew what he was doing. Not only did we know what he was doing and why, but we exploited it as teenagers (especially those with divorced parents) tend to do. So when he yelled and screamed about how disrespectful we were, my brother and I just laughed and lost even more respect for him.

Long after this stepdad has gone from my life, I still have little respect for people who demand respect without earning it. Respect isn’t something you can just demand, like a child with a temper tantrum. Respect is earned, not handed out. Just because you got a promotion, just because you’re older than me, just because my mom decided to marry you – these things don’t mean I’m automatically going to give my respect. I might be polite, but respect takes time. And the more you demand undeserving respect the less polite I will become.

Impress me, and I’ll respect you. Help me when I need it; do something I can’t. Make possible the impossible. Give me your respect. You can’t treat me like some sort of object or inferior being and in the same breath whine about my lack of respect. Learn some manners. I can respect manners.

If you’re my “superior” that’s so deserving of respect, then why don’t you help me and answer my questions when I have them? The people I respect the most are the restaurant managers that help bus tables, or the prestigious university professor that’s willing to individually tutor a struggling student. The people who are willing to help people below them, even if it isn’t their job. Just because they know what’s needed, and they know what it’s like. The ones to get to the top just to be lazy and yell at other people to do their job? They’re the worst kind of people. I won’t respect those people.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Friends

I don’t even know if I can explain how I feel. Not betrayed, maybe abandoned? Even if this is a normal thing, do I have a right to feel like this? It feels like they broke up with me but never bothered to tell me.

We used to talk every day, and now barely once a week. It’s like I’m the immature child who’s friends all grew up and got married and moved away. Except many of them don’t live too far and they aren’t married yet. Just in very intense (and apparently time consuming) relationships.

Maybe I feel replaced more than abandoned. Was I replaced? Am I that easy to replace? Am I being too insecure about the whole thing? Will it ever get better? Or worse: will I lose touch even more? And then we’ll devolve from finishing each other’s sentences to that awkward form of acquaintance-ness where we can only manage barely more than small talk. Or we can only relive old memories, but are incapable of creating new ones.

It hurts, whatever it is. I feel…hurt. I’ve lost good friends to siginificant others more than I care to admit and I long time ago I swore I’d never do it to any of my friends. So why do they keep doing it to me?

Am I being selfish? I’m happy for them, of course. Not that they’d know it, or anything else about me. But I still am, regardless. But why can’t they be happy and in love and all these things and still be friends with me?

Am I unknowingly doing this to some of my own friends? I’m sure I have before, even though I swore not to do so. It could still be happening. I wish someone would tell me if it was.

Will it keep happening; will it get worse? Will I slowly lose all my friends to marriage or love or babies? Will I have to make new friends? Geographically closer, similar life situation friends?

But I liked my friends, the ones I had before we all grew up.

This doesn’t seem fair.

I’ve never been here before

You keep reminding me that I’ve been here before. Like some sort of Captain of the Relationships, it’s my job to guide you through this. To tell you what and what not to do along the way, to give you the next steps.

The truth is, I’m just as lost as you.

Yes, I’ve been in long term relationships. I’ve been in love before. I’ve even considered a future with another person, however short term or ridiculous that future might have been. But I still haven’t been here.

Being here with you is new to me. Here means something different this time. You’re different from what I’m used to.

With you I feel free, and I’ve never quite felt that way with another person the way I do with you. There’s always been this burden or barrier in other relationships. But with you I don’t have to keep you a secret or keep any from you. I can see you every single day if I really wanted to. I can say anything, do anything.

Maybe it’s because I feel so free or maybe just because of you, but I’m happier with you than I’ve ever been. I’ve been happy before, don’t get me wrong, but never this consistently or for this long. There’s no shadows with you; everything lives under the sun. There’s nothing to hide from or be afraid of, since you probably already know all the worst things about me. I can just be impossibly happy – free from worry or doubt.

Being so happy is strange for me. It makes me do things I’ve never done before – like when I told you I loved you. I’ve never said ‘I love you’ to anyone first; I always waited for the other person to say it. Or they said ‘I love you’ and I said it back without knowing if I meant it or not. With you, I thought about it for weeks (maybe months) before I said it. I almost slipped so many times. I only wish I had said it a little closer to sober, but who knows if I ever would have said it without liquid courage.

Despite all of this, it still feels easy. Like we barely have to try. We misstep sometimes but we just correct each other and move on like we’ve been doing it forever. We handle deep dark secrets and deal-breakers as they come up, without making a big deal about it. Who says every important conversation has to start with “we need to talk”? We just drunkenly blurt out what needs to be said and the important things are heard and remembered the next morning. We tell each other what we need, in a language that would be considered blunt and rude and obscene by anyone else. But I’ve finally found someone who understands my tendency to be too reserved and too harsh at the same time and it just works for us. I don’t think I’ve ever once truly offended you and I don’t think I’ve been able to say that about anyone else.

I guess I don’t know where I was trying to go with this. I just wanted you to know that this is new for me, too. But I’m not scared anymore. I’m ready for whatever the next steps are, even if those steps are still unknown.

New Year, Same Blog

Ok, some of you may have noticed my absence. I have several TOTALLY LEGITIMATE EXCUSES, but long story short I have a new laptop with a delightful new keyboard and it makes me exceptionally excited to start writing again.

Even though I’ve been gone for months, I’m going to jump right back in. Nothing is going to change though. Random posts about all kinds of random stuff, and I’m pretty excited about a couple of them. My part of the world is cold and miserable this weekend, plus I’m dog sitting a couple of delightful gents, so there’s plenty already written and scheduled and even more to come. Check back soon!

homecoming

A couple weekends ago I went to my alma mater’s homecoming. The air was cold but the sun was warm, and all the right people were there. The game was so lopsided (in our favor) I only stayed for half.

The food was good, the drinks even better, and it turns out I missed some people I never thought I would. I saw most of the people I expected to – the types that never leave. There was one or two people in particular I wanted to run into, but didn’t think I would. I know them and enjoyed my time with them in school, but we were never very close so we didn’t keep in touch very often.

One of these people – let’s call him Andy – did happen to be at the bar I went to. He was a friend of a friend that I had a few classes with senior year and I always loved hanging out with him. We did the usual “where are you now/how’s the job” bullshit type of conversation that you’re supposed to have. To everyone who had asked me this, I didn’t even try to mask that I wasn’t overly happy at my current job. When I expressed this to Andy, he said something to the effect of:

You’re too smart for that! I found a job I like, you just have to keep looking and keep networking. You’re so much smarter than me and you deserve to do something you love.

This was followed by the usual “I love you/I miss you” drunken conversation, but those words stuck with me. “You’re so much smarter than me, you deserve better”.

Andy is someone I barely know, who barely knows me! Yet, he knows and believes I deserve better (and he already has a girlfriend so it wasn’t like he had ulterior motives). Maybe I’m reading too far into a slightly drunken encounter, but how does this acquaintance of mine have more confidence in me than I do? I think that was the part that stuck with me more than the words themselves. If certain friends of mine had said this, I would have brushed it off as “oh they’re just being nice”. But because we don’t stay in touch, because we barely know each other, that somehow made what he said mean more.

On that note, I started applying for jobs again. I also turned down my first ever interview this week, because it would have been another job where I’d be unhappy in six months or less.

Finally, I got someone’s attention with some old writing samples. I’ll hear back next week if I get to interview with this tech company in a tiny nearby suburb I adore. The fact that it’s a tech company is terrifying, considering I don’t understand half of what their website says, but I’m excited about the fact that I would get to work on things I enjoy. Or at the very least, I could expand my knowledge and actually gain valuable skills – as opposed to what I’m doing now.

If someone I barely know has faith in me, at the very least I should have some faith in me.

Stagnancy is hazardous

A very, very close friend of mine got married last weekend and after his honeymoon he’s headed back to his new home in Denver this week. One of my coworkers just announced her first pregnancy. A new but semi-close friend of mine returns to California today; he graduated college so now he’s going to take some time to figure out what to do with his life.
And then, me. I’m just… here.
I don’t want to get married or have babies quite yet, but after more than a year at the same job I feel stagnant. And not just in a “this is real life and you don’t get a promotions every six months the way you change classes every semester in college” sort of way. It’s been a year and I don’t feel like I’ve learned all that much with this job. Everything I learned in the first 3 months is all I’ve learned so far. And it may be all I will learn for another year, at least. I’m not moving forward and I think I might even be moving backwards in some ways.
And ok, so I have things like this blog. Like my coaching, like the instagram I made for my dog (yeah, it happened, I’m not sorry). Weird side projects that I can’t even fully commit to – just look at how often I update this! It started as a weekly thing and has slowly drifted to more of a monthly pace. Which is fine, probably. Maybe I was too ambitious with the weekly goal in the first place.
But seriously –
What.
Am.
I.
Doing!
I went to a new dentist for the first time today, and my hygienist – who’s probably in her late 40s or early 50s – is telling me how she sort of wants to look at new career options. The problem is she’s even more stuck than I am. She’s been in her position for 20 years, her two kids are about to start college, and her retirement is looming on the horizon. She can’t see how it would make sense to go back to school, so what else can she do? Many of her friends, she tells me, feel the same way she does. They aren’t really happy in their careers but they’ve waited too long and it doesn’t make financial sense to make a drastic change. So they just wait to retire.
That’s exactly the position I don’t want to be in 25 years from now.
There are days where I’m totally comfortable in all the limbos. My dating life makes no sense, I don’t know what I want to do with my career, etc. Then the stagnation gets to me. It’d be fine if I didn’t know what I wanted, but was still moving in some direction. Any direction! Not knowing and not moving though? That’s too much to deal with.

Coach’s Update

Those of you who read this blog regularly may know that I’m a volunteer youth soccer coach. Those of you who really know what’s up may know about the team I coached this past season. For those of who you stumbled upon this accidentally you can read this or I can just say I was asked to coach soccer for a group of girls who came from complicated situations and I was scared about coaching them because I felt like I lacked the necessary experience.

However, as with all things so far where I’ve been nervous about my leap of faith; it all turned out ok. Probably as well as it could have gone, in fact.

These girls were… heartbreaking, overwhelming and absolutely astounding all at once and on so many levels. There were days where I felt like I was coaching a prison team or something more drastic: the general hardness about some of the girls, their utter excitement just because they were outside, and the “I can’t be partners with her because we don’t get along” conversations I had at least once a week. Yet at other times it amazed me how normal they were. They were excited about the team t-shirts and they were worried about messing up their hair just like your average high school girl.

They tested my patience and forced me to get creative, to adjust on the fly. Every week I felt only partially prepared. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere or making any kind of a difference. The coordinators of the whole thing showed up unexpectedly at one of the practices and complimented me on my clarity when explaining what we were doing, on how I gradually made a drill harder without having to switch gears too often, which worked especially well for this group. And these are serious, professional coaches who were giving the compliment. They coach all the local premier leagues and they actually make money doing this! It was surprising and exactly the reassurance I needed.

The final week, there was a tournament with all the teams. There were only 4 teams total and 4 games in the tournament, so the winners of the first two games played each other for the “championship” and the “second-place” team in each game played each other in a “consolation” game. A local high school marching band came out; so there was a parade before the tournament, there was food. The band played and the dancers danced between some of the games. The different groups took turns chanting their team names. My team was consistently the loudest.

It was our turn to play our first game. Everything about this tournament was a simplified version of soccer. The field was small, the halves were short, and the referees were the coaches. There were kick-ins instead of throw-ins and there were no goal kicks or corner kicks. It was like they knew we spent the last 6 weeks focusing on the fundamentals and didn’t have time to cover any of the actual rules of soccer. It was like watching high school girls play kindergarten soccer.

I didn’t have high expectations, but maybe I should have. We won our first game 3-0.

The consolation game was only ten minutes, and then it was our turn again for the championship game against the coordinator’s team. They also won their first game by the same shutout score, 3-0. Before the final game there was more chanting, more competition between the teams.  Some of my girls were now trying to coach for me, telling me who would start the next game and what their “plan” was. Some of the other girls were nervous – they hadn’t really competed with this kind of “pressure” before.

We won. We beat the coordinator’s team. Again, by a shut out.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a team. The girls got a World Cup replica trophy to keep in their hall/housing unit. Everyone got medals. The chanting continued for several more minutes, some playful taunting added in. They were ecstatic and I wanted to cry.

Now that it’s over, it seems silly how scared I was. All I can think about is finding the next step, the next small leap, the next thing that scares me. One of these days I’ll take the big leap and finally move out of this state. Until then – small leaps of faith.