Saturday, August 11, 2018

brain-storming an outline of my life - there are no dragons here

I started Grad school to get my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) degree in the Fall of 2017. Thus far, I'm getting 'A's in all my classes! This is MONUMENTAL! While it may seem from the outside that I'm a good student, that has not always been the case. I have always struggled with reading due to my dyslexia and I've always had a difficult time focusing on just one thing. High school was tough on many fronts for me. I graduated undergrad with high marks (either all 'A's or 'A's and 'B's) only because in my undergrad career I transferred to a total of 4 different colleges/universities & transferring to a new place wipes your GPA. This was my saving grace since I was only a few points above failing after my first two years at University.

I'm sorry if this is boring. No one wants to read this. But I might as well keep it for something later... it's not going to get better. This is pretty much me brain-storming an outline of my life. I'm not delving into stories or details, just broad strokes. Lots, and lots of things are missing. It may develop further later, but not now. You have been warned! Proceed no further, there are no dragons here!

I thought I had hit my lowest levels of depression. This was when I was raped, but blocked it, yet hated myself without remembering why until years later. Despite one suicide attempt and lots of self harm, I managed to scramble out of that hole in Texas, follow my parents to Illinois, and got my AA at a community college. I was pulling my life back together. I decided I wanted to work in theater professionally as a Stage Manager or a Designer or something. (That was before I knew all the math that went into set design.) I was even dating someone who valued me. But I didn't feel I deserved that nor did I truly understand what real commitment was. So I ended it and dated someone not so good for me and fell back into another hole as different parts of my life fell apart.

This was the time that my oldest sister's accident happened. This was the time that my fiancee (even though I had never intended to get married, he had talked me into it) dumped me. This was when I found out I was pregnant and had an abortion. This was when I was suicidal again. This was when I was selfish and the worst big sister to my two younger sisters when they needed me most. This was when I went off to another University even though my mind, heart, and soul were not in it. (I was following the path the "more together" me had started instead of stepping back and reassessing.) This was when I lived with the biggest potheads on campus. Even though I did not smoke, the apartment was so permeated with it that I was high almost the whole time I lived there. This was when I found out that my body reacts poorly to pot. This was when I dropped out of University mid-semester. This was when I asked for help at the on-campus therapist's office, I was brushed off and it was either drop out or kill myself. This was when I moved back home... again. This was when I cut myself off from my parents and my family even though I was living in their basement. This was when the basement flooded, I fell into 3 feet of sewage water, and I lost all my writing of my youth. This was when my mom had a breakdown because the same flood destroyed almost everything she had saved for my oldest sister (who is now brain injured - functioning, but has to be cared for 24/7 and has serious memory issues) from her childhood. This was when I became even more self-centered and selfish. This was when I moved in with other friends, was a terrible housemate, and tried to kill myself there. This was when I reached out for help at a regular therapist's office. They really should have locked me up, but instead they made me promise not to kill myself before my next appointment and if I didn't show up for that, they would call the police on me. This was when I missed my next appointment. Nobody called or came to get me. This was when I realized nobody cared nor should they care if I didn't care. This was when I self harmed, a lot. This was when I fell and impaled a screwdriver into my knee. This was when, even after I called my dad and others for help as I bled everywhere, I realized I had truly screwed myself. This was when I took a vacation from work (I was working at Borders) so that I could kill myself without anyone being bothered. This was when I locked myself in my room swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, another of pain meds, and drank a bottle of vodka as a chaser. This was when I woke up three days later in a pool of vomit and piss, but very much alive. This was when I realized I had cut myself off from my housemates, who had been friends, so much that they if they checked on me, they decided to leave me be. This was when I decided to live. This was when I resorted to self-harm to remind myself I was alive. This was when I moved back home... again.

I took 5 years off from schooling to get my life sorted. I sort of did, thanks to becoming friends with my bestie. She was going through some trauma of her own, so I set aside my selfishness and focused on helping her. I also met and fell in love with her cats. She took me to a shelter so I could get my own cat. Oliver. The first pet that was mine. The first soul I saved. That was truly a turning point for me.
She was a tattooing apprentice at the time, so I offered up my skin as canvass. I already had two smallish tattoos and had found the pain and ink comforting. Besides, she was one of the best artists and the most "safety first" conscientious people I had ever met. She was also punk/goth as fuck. I found that tattooing could replace my need for self-harm and it left a mark of art in my skin instead of just scars. I had plenty of those, now I wanted art, beauty, a life worth living.

I went back to school and graduated in the top 10% of my class. I had a degree in Writing with a minor in Directing. I was teaching freelance writing/theater classes, writing on the side, running events (also freelance), and working part-time at a used bookstore, Kate the Great's Book Emporium. I had also gotten accepted into the grad school at my Alma mater, Columbia College and was looking to get a great Fellowship.

But then the place offering the Fellowship folded, Kate the Great's closed, and I found out that I had been doing my taxes wrong for last couple of years with all my freelance work and I owed the IRS thousands of dollars. (This on top of the loans I had taken out of college...) This was when I thought I was going to fall down that hole of hating my life, feeling like a failure, self-harm, etc. again.

But I didn't.

I had built a life that focused on helping others, including my family when I could, and I decided that to get myself out of the funk I was in, I would help others. I planned to continue my work with Free Street teaching theater and writing to inner-city youth once the break was over and I began looking for animal shelters to volunteer at. That's when I found a job at an animal shelter. It was full-time with benefits and they would use the W2 for taxes instead of the dreaded 1099 that got me where I was owing thousands. I actually applied and interviewed on a whim. I didn't get the job, 'cause I couldn't start right away. But then, two weeks later, when my teaching gig was about to be on a 2 month hiatus, they called me again. Apparently, the person they hired hadn't worked out and would I still be interested? YES!

I, at first, thought I could do both. But shelter work is physically and emotionally draining. I began to put my all into it. (I have that tendency... My mom called me her "all or nothing" girl when I was little.) Even my writing became more about animals. Within a year and a half, I got promoted to Feline Care Coordinator / Adoption Counselor. The pay wasn't great, but the work was fulfilling. Exhausting but fulfilling. Then it started to be more and more exhausting and less and less fulfilling. I was not enjoying myself. I was crying every night. But the interesting thing there was I was no longer crying for me, I was crying for the animals I could not save and crying in frustration over the people who treated animals as disposable. Oliver had passed a while ago. He had bone marrow cancer. Even though we still had cats, Sebastian and Miyu and Nova and Eva, they were all my bestie's cats, not mine. I loved them, but they were hers.

Then there was Meander. My dear old man now. He was named Sebastian and, coloring-wise, he reminded me of Oliver. I fell in love! He's such a handsome cat and he really liked me. But due to his name and his look, I told myself no. Besides, there were so many cats that needed homes, I couldn't adopt them all. Then he was adopted. I thought, "good. I won't be tempted." But then the woman brought him back. He went back up for adoption, but he was NOT adjusting well to being in a cage again. He bit an intern. That is a death sentence for a cat in shelter. I cried and told my boss I HAD TO adopt him. She let me. He's the best! I renamed him Meander and, even though he was already 4-6 years old, he took to his new name very well and even comes when called (sometimes... he is a cat, after all.)

Ugh! I haven't even gotten to the Horrible House or dog walking or things in my dating life or self identity or stuff from my childhood in Venezuela or my struggle with my family’s religion or my struggle with writing/dyslexia or my in and out about my sexual identity or how I ended up in libraries! But I'm late for my date with myself! But hey, I'm writing and this is not too terrible... I may just make my memoir my NaNoWriMo project this year...

My plan... For once in my life I have a plan that's not a nebulous, "let's see where this path takes me",  kind of thing.* 

The plan:
  • Get my grad degree
  • Finish my novel(s)
  • Get a full-time library job
  • Get novel(s) published(?)
  • Buy a house (with Bek and possibly Ben)
  • Keep writing & getting published
  • Open a small sanctuary 

* not that there's anything wrong with following paths just to see where they go! I will always stand by my less directed younger life since it led me to all sorts of interesting, amazing, and educational places and people. It also led me to the place where I can make the plan I am now constructing. Will it work? Who knows! But it's all very interesting!