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Welcome to Funemployment

I walked out on my job last week. While the lapse of professionalism gnaws at me a little, I don’t think I’ll regret it. I was working as a cocktail waitress in a “breastaurant.” I lasted about six months. Most of the people in my life didn’t really understand why I was working there in the first place. I have a BS from Georgia Tech and a year’s experience working internationally with a non-profit.

Wherever I’ve been, I’ve always had a strong sense that it was temporary. I have come to the conclusion that this is because I lack vision. When asked where I see myself in ten years, I am usually too embarrassed to say that I don’t see myself anywhere. It’s the same for five years, even one year. I used to wonder if maybe I was just a lazy person, but I proved to myself that I do like working. I put in 60 hour weeks for a job that was completely without meaning for me. I couldn’t stay there though. I’m so completely introverted that being bombarded with hundreds of new people all day, every day sucked the life right out of me. I didn’t have the energy to enjoy the things I used to love. I ignored calls and texts even from my favorite people. I couldn’t even stand to watch people on television. I was just done.

So, one night after a typical 13 hour day, I found myself out of my mind weeping in my backyard. I’m a little surprised the neighbors didn’t have anything to say. I was not quiet. I’m a wailer. My mind was racing with dark thoughts that I won’t share here, and I knew that I couldn’t keep going like that. The next day I went to work like nothing had happened. The next day after that I quit.

I had known I couldn’t stay there forever. The money was decent, but it was always supposed to be a transitional position. I just got stuck. Now I’m left with the question, “What now?”

Good riddance to standing in these for hours!

I could try for an entry level position in my very vague field. I could find another random job to collect more stories. Marry myself off. For now, I’m enjoying being alive again. Working is important, but once you get to the point where you can’t even call it working for the weekend (because you don’t have a weekend in the traditional sense and also because all time not at work is spent curled up in a ball staring at the wall), that’s when it’s time to go. Walk away, and don’t look back. Fresh starts aren’t as hard to come by as you think.

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I’m ready for enough.

Several months ago, I heard a speaker tell this story. He talked about how the Sea of Galilee is teeming with life, one of the most diverse seas in the world. Then he talked about a sea that is close geographically but couldn’t be more different, the Dead Sea. 

The Dead Sea has no life at all. From what I’ve seen, even the shore is pretty barren. He said the difference between the two is that the Sea of Galilee has an outlet. The water is always moving through and changing. The Sea of Galilee always has somewhere to go. 

The salt rocks of the Dead Sea

While I listened to this, my ears pricked. I have been to both seas, and I loved the Dead Sea. I loved that I could see my feet through the clear, salty water. I liked that the air was so thick that I didn’t tan or burn because the silt in the air protected me. I liked how when I got out of the water, it felt like my whole body was covered in baby oil and I could watch the salt crystalize on my skin as I dried. I loved the Dead Sea so much that when I lived in Amman, we would drive the hour down on Friday mornings when the city was sleeping and spend the day at the Sea. I never went to one of the public beaches or the resorts. I didn’t like to pay and I didn’t want to be crowded. We would drive along the coast until we found a quiet spot along the cliffs and could climb down. The beach wasn’t really a beach. The salt rocks would cut my feet before I found some water shoes at a souq, but it was always worth it. It’s still one of my favorite places on Earth, that quiet empty sea.

I hear the point that speaker was trying to make. It’s the same point this society makes all the time. Keep moving or die. If you are walking along the street and stop suddenly just to enjoy that place, you are in the way of everyone else who wants to keep moving and who has somewhere they desperately want to go. If I stayed at one job for ten years without a promotion, I would be a fool even if that was the job I loved. If I owned a successful business, I should be working towards a second or third location. 

If I am single, I need to find someone. If I have someone, I should be getting married. If married, I need kids. I don’t know what comes after that. I haven’t gotten far enough to find out. 

“Enough,” is a sin. Many spiritual teachings say to be content, but only content with this point along your journey. You cannot say that your journey is over, that right here in this moment you have enough. I’m ready for enough though. I used to live full speed ahead, eating until I was stuffed, working out until I couldn’t stand, staying awake until I fell sick for days, drinking until I couldn’t remember. I never knew how to say, “Enough,” to anything. I hoarded shoes and clothes and every letter and note I received. 

Now I’m tired. I’m 23, and I’m tired. We’ve built a lot of things in this world, but as I watch all the lifestock grazing here in the Oregon desert, most of what we’ve built just doesn’t seem worth it. Too much, too bright, too loud. 

There’s nothing here but seedling trees and the remains from a fire years ago, but the land is living quietly.

There’s Always Home Depot.

Now that I’m officially back on the 9-5 grind as a school librarian, I’ve fallen into a Sunday routine of waking up around 6:30, getting groceries at 7:00, then hitting up Home Depot at 8:00 right as they open. Stores with a lot of customers make me nervous, and for some reason no one else seems to be moving in the early hours on Sunday. Go figure. 

I like my job. It’s challenging but I still get to feel successful most of the time. For the past few weeks, I’ve been slipping into a low. Anhedonia. Thanks, Dr. House, for teaching me that word before you got taken off Netflix. It’s the inability to feel pleasure. So, when I say I’m in a low, I don’t mean that I’m experiencing a lot of bad feelings. It’s just that all the things that used to feel good for me simply don’t feel good anymore. Cupcakes, reading, TV…. even beer doesn’t really taste or feel good these days. Exercise doesn’t give me a rush. 

The one thing that really does get me going these days is Home Depot. I like how the warehouse doesn’t make me feel penned in. I like the faint smell of sawdust. I like looking at tools that I don’t know how to use. So every Sunday morning, I go to Home Depot for about an hour and get a couple supplies and then spend the next few hours tearing up my yard while I try to become a master landscaper. 

Obviously it’s going very well. 

Just kidding. Most of that is the remnants of the hurricane damage. Hopefully I’ll get most of that cleared out today. 

It’s pretty reassuring to know that even if I don’t like anything else, there’s always Home Depot. 

Let’s do this. 

Yes. I went through all your Facebook photos to create a painting of you. 

I’ve gotten into a weird hobby. You know those friends you have on Facebook, the ones that you don’t interact with? Maybe it was a classmate that added you back when she needed study notes but now the semester is over and you know you will never speak again. Maybe it’s an old friend that hasn’t answered your calls or texts in a couple years. I can’t bring myself to delete them, and so their pictures just keep popping up in my news feed. 

A while ago, I had the idea to start painting these faces that get stuck in my head. I was a little worried about strictly copying from a single image, so I ignored the creepy feeling and went through hundreds of photos of the subject of my first portrait to really learn the angles of his face. Hundreds of photos. Honestly I couldn’t stop giggling while I did this. But hey, why else would someone add me besides to give me unfettered access to a bunch of photos of them? 

I gave this one away to a mutual acquaintance right after I finished. I forgot to get a better picture of it before I sent it off.

For my second installment, I painted a bit more from memory because I knew him a little bit better. I think that’s what made this one a bit more whimsical. 

Two down. A hundred more to go. I’ll definitely take a detour and work on some other ideas before I finish immortalizing these acquaintances, but it’s nice to have something to always come back to.