20 July, 2012

How long has it been?

I re-started this blog when I was inspired by Andrea Rouda's daily(or sometimes hourly) short blogs about her life and various topics of interest. I kept it up for a while, but then life took over and I found other things to do and more corners of the internet to explore and more sleep to procure and more places to ride my bike to.

So why am I back? I am not here on an empty promise that I will write daily posts or even weekly posts. I just have some things on my mind and this place seems as good as any to serve as kind of a confessional. Modern life sure is weird, huh?

Since being back from Guate, I do feel like I am seeing my own life a little bit clearer. Like too many people my age, I am somewhat directionless, and despite being smart have been consistently underemployed or unemployed for a long time. It used to be easy for me to blame that on "not wanting to play with the system" or "lack of motivation" or even "depression" or "being a slacker". The truth is, "lack of focus", "codependency" and "lack of connection" probably best describe it.

Warning: this blog is going to be insanely anally instrospective

It is really hard to describe what leads someone to volunteering for a trail building non-profit, a community ecology surveying non-profit, a mental health non-profit all while volunteering at farms and being homeless and living in a tent, listening to your neighbors drunk or high. It's hard to describe what a lifetime of being suicidal is like. And it's hard to describe exactly what directionless and aimless feels like. Sometimes it feels like indulgence in this, the richest nation in the world.

I became homeless because I had given up caring. I was working a job doing dishwashing and felt that was the best that I could do. I felt I had nothing to look forward to in the job. It was tiring and I wasn't making enough money to save. My coworkers were nice, but they all spoke Chinese which made the work even more alienating feeling. It's not that it was hard, again, but I had little motivation or direction and little idea of what I could really be doing differently. So I gave up and became homeless.

From there, I stayed at the job for a few months before embarking on a long travel. I was homeless on the Columbia River, working at different farms across Washington and Oregon. I spent a lot of time on my art work and eventually, after travelling to the east coast, landed in a shelter on the west coast. I spent a lot of time on my art work while busying myself in coffee shops. Like most homeless shelters I had been to, I stayed quiet and didn't interact much, lest I would get into trouble. I just hung out at the library and Starbucks, drawing and reading books and being bored out of my mind.

During this time, I had a few odd illustration jobs, I got to stay at an artist retreat center and I took some peer counseling classes. I stayed there six months before finding some affordable rent.

Although I hated staying at libraries and coffee shops, it did keep me busy and between that and the Y and the shelter, I was never alone. Having a roof over my head, I was very lonely and the time alone did not go so well. I looked for jobs, finding a lot of volunteer work but having difficulty with social relations made job interviews total messes. I volunteered at a farm and did a permaculture certificate as well as took some more art classes. Steady work eluded me.

During this time I was depressed. I had a long form suicide plan in my head- my way of dealing with extreme suicidality was to make the plan really convoluted so that it would take years or at least months to complete. Every time I walked over bridges, there was a strong urge to jump. That time I was driving a car- how easy it would be to just ramp it up to 100 and go straight into that cliff. Alcohol, meth, crack, pills- how painless that would be. The thoughts were always there.

After coming back to Guate, amazed by the beauty but still crushed by the dull rag of depression and a crushing aimlessness, a complete lack of feeling of worth, my efforts redoubled and I did find some illustration work. Many of my interviews for park jobs failed and many I was not qualified for.

I have a dream right now of biking across country and finally finishing my climb to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. It's insane because I know I should figure out my work situation here first, but working as I did before did not work. The cycle of killing oneself to simply live for the next paycheck doesn't make much sense to me. I suppose in some ways that is very self-centered, but I've always been kind of an alienated person due to things in my past.

But I'm beginning to see how self destructive that all is and how it keeps me from doing any work I want to do, instead feeling like I have to be a martyr, taking shit jobs and volunteering while homeless. In some ways I am afraid of success because people scare me and I feel like no matter what I do people will be disappointed. And suicide is the ultimate disappointment.

But I still think of Mt. Katahdin. The only problem is, unless I win the lottery, I will still have to come back and find a way to live after that. And even if I do win the lottery, well, I'll still have life to deal with.

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