Happy Freakin New Year

2016 kicked my ass and left me reeling. Left me wondering just how much of my sanity I left behind on the road, like breadcrumbs that will grow moldy under rain and sunshine. Irreclaimable pieces of the person I once was. Then again, I’m always thinking of the person I once was even though I know that with every moment a change is happening. Doesn’t mean I won’t resent the fact any less.

This year, I learned what real stress was. My nerves were put to the test and let me tell you, I survived but Life owned my ass. I started off the year miserable, stuck in a retail job with awesome benefits (come of, when isn’t framing a hundred-year-old victorian shawl not cool?), but managers strait out of the “shit management” catalogue. You know the kind of douches I’m talking about, the kind that claim to have your back but will chuck you under the line of traffic the moment they feel threatened. Cue begging the universe for a new job.

Who knew it would hear me. Got a new job, an office one with the full benefits package and even OT. Lots and lots of OT. Just recently we neared our end-of-the-year shutdown and I was pretty much working 10 hour days. But goddamn was I unprepared for the drama and bullshit that comes when people who hate each other and have worked with one another for far too long suddenly get the chance to bitch to management. In 2016, I learned that HR is actually an interesting field to go into, but holy frijoles Batman, no way am I trained enough to talk people off the proverbial ledge. (Once upon a time, I would have been the one to call them on their bullshit and tell them to jump. See if I cared.) I learned quickly that even though you can get enemies to work with one another, it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t sabotage one another on a different date.

But thank to this new job, I was finally able to get a new car. Only thing is, shorty after October I got rear-ended and my new car landed in a body shop for several weeks. (Wasn’t my fault, at least.)

Landed in a human body shop myself, a.k.a the ER myself for another reason. Got put on medication for a stress related illness and painkillers for a back injury that even now, as I write this, gives me hot throbbing pain in my lower back. You never realize how weak you are until you hurt your core and find yourself unable to do even the simplest things. Like sitting, or tying your shoelaces.

Worst of all, my family and I had to witness my father undergo weeks of treatment and physical therapy after breaking his left foot, and eventually needed having it amputated because of infection. In 2017, he will be mastering the trick of walking and balancing himself on a prosthetic limb.

I won’t lie, there were more than a few nights when I drank myself to sleep.

So, 2016, all I can say is fuck you very much. With your shitty life curveballs, shitty weather, shitty presidential election, and in general zero fucks given about human piece of mind and progress. I ask that now that you are gone, that you stay dead and keep from haunting me in 2017. And 2017, all I can do is beg that you don’t decide to bitchslap me in the face too. Otherwise, the rest of my sanity is as good as forfeit.

Happy fucking new year Medium. You were the light that kept me sane, and my go-to platform for when I needed a distraction.

*Photo by Ian Schneider, Unsplash.com 

Joining the Struggle

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Photo by: M. Sanchez 

“No one can keep you from success except yourself. When it’s time to shine, be the brightest.” – Deshun Wang

If you’re like me, you get little to no work done at home, especially after a long day at ‘work-work’. You know, the one that pays for your bills and food (and student loans). Don’t get me wrong, I always head home with a plan in mind. A goal.

I’ll write ten pages tonight. Or five, but read a chapter of that new book I got too.

Suffice to say that I want to get work done.

But once I get home, I just don’t. Or, I work on a completely different project that has nothing to do with what I know I have to do. More like buffer projects that get me through the night. Help me waste time until it’s off to bed.

It’s a hard pattern to break, and I’m coming to realize why: I have to feel comfortable. Now, at home, there is too much comfort. I instantly feel sluggish, and want nothing more than to curl in bed and read, or binge on Netflix.

At Starbucks, Pete’s and others like them, it’s the complete opposite. I’m on alert, feeling rushed, bombarded by too much noise even while wearing headphones.

I think part of being a creative individual is that mass-produced is a turn off. We want originality, style, and that something else. We want to be inspired by our surroundings and feel the possibility.

At least, that’s what I told myself whenever I rejected another potential workplace. I’d walk out after a few hours, thinking this place just isn’t me.

But then, what is me?

On one of my short weekend visits home, I got a glimpse of the answer. My sister took me to this dimly lit cafe inside the lobby of a 1920s – 1940s  theater. It’s located in a street called Miracle Mile. The moment I stepped inside, I felt a shock. Street art jumped from the walls and the deep red and yellow ceiling hinted at ages past. I felt a sense of possibility within myself. I loved the place immediately. And it went beyond the fact that it was in a theater, or that it was a microbrewery and carried stap beer. That’s not something wholly special in and of itself. What really got me was that it was in my home city. A place I’d considered lost in time.

With every visit,  it hits me how much of a patchwork Stockton is, a mixture of old brick and modern glass. Rough faces and new cars. It’s a dangerous place, and now more lonely than in the past, but still struggling to catch up to the new age. It hasn’t given up the fight.

Which, being one of its offspring, means I can’t give up fighting yet either. Even if I have to work out of the most loud, obnoxious, or chaotic of establishments. Even if I have to cut back on sleep and social activities (which or rare, to be honest with you), I’ll work. I’ll keep kicking sloth in the ass and hopefully create something worth publishing.

And in the meantime, I’ll also keep my city in mind. In the people that live there. In my twin sister and her beautiful sketches; my brother and his project car; my mother and her growing collection of dishware, my grandmother and her little room covered in Morning Glory, and my father in his post-amputation recovery. They’re all working, all fighting to create something worthwhile. To gain a sense of fulfillment.

It’s only right I join them in their struggle.