Ah, Bradley has hit just the note I needed to re-open the gates of blog world to me. See, even though he didn’t write me a recommendation letter, I am one of those people he is talking about–which I haven’t been all that forthcoming about on this blog, as I usually become the silent type when it comes revealing things I’m trying to do in my life, and when 90% of what I think about outside of work has to do with something I am hesitant to reveal, that does tend to cramp the blogging. I am a PhD applicant waiting to find out if I am going to become a PhD student. So, for me, February has gotten off to an anxiety-ridden start. My summer strategy of just not thinking about all the potential for heartache in my life has started to fail me, and I find myself having palpitations every time I open my email or the mailbox. During January, it seemed that I was still a pleasant ways off from hearing anything, but now it feels like open season, and worse, it feels like every day that passes is one day closer to doom. One more day that School X was not so excited about my app that they decided to email informally ahead of sending a letter (this happened to one of my friends last year). Advised against padding my list with “safety” schools, I applied to fiercely competitive programs (I know they all are, but I think these especially are). So, the chances of me not getting good news are pretty high. Actually, higher than the chances of getting good news if you go strictly by probability.

Added to the stress of the waiting “game” is the stress of applying for new librarian jobs as the end date for my one-year position nears. Added to this stress is the stress of knowing that I might have avoided this had I been able to commit to taking an extension on the current position, but as I was gripped by a now or never fervor, I told them that I was applying to grad school and couldn’t make any promises. So, I might get no thick letters AND have forced my husband and myself onto the worst job market in our adult lives so far.

I have to keep reminding myself of one very important thing: I signed up for this. All of this. This is the preferable alternative to letting my fears about the future continue to boss me around. At least I’ll have tried, and if I fail, I think I’ll be able to approach my current career path with a more open mind.

And of course, I didn’t start this process without plans B, C, and D. Although my determination to enter the PhD admissions lottery may end up costing me another year in my current job, there’s a good chance it might not. And there’s a decent chance that if I’m not working here, I’ll be working somewhere else–maybe not as awesome, but somewhere in a library. There’s still positions that haven’t been canceled, and at least I’m applying to them with a year of professional experience rather than as a new graduate. And if I find out that getting rejected by all of my ambitious graduate program selections still doesn’t settle the question, I would not rule out a re-do next year with a more realistic list. At least I won’t have to take the GRE subject exam again!!! (Which, by the way, I rocked. I rocked it almost to the level that I feel it might work against me, like “well, clearly she studied for this thing way too much, what a loser, she should have worked on this writing sample more instead”–but don’t worry, I did work on the writing sample rather obsessively.) And D is finishing his graduate work in accounting, so if I don’t find something, maybe he can find something. And if neither of us can find something, at least we live in Iowa, where 400$/month rent is not unheard of and we can both get jobs at McDonalds to hack that and walk to McDonalds if necessary.

But keeping my eye on all of those positives while I take enough deep breaths to put one foot in front of the other sometimes threatens to take all my energy. And I haven’t even begun to address all of the other things I need to be concerned with now that I no longer have MFA thesis revision as an excuse, like actually submitting stuff places. Oooph.

*The title of this post is blatantly ripped off from the title of a mix CD that AH sent me a couple of springs ago. Which proves there is only one tried and true method for surviving months such as this one, and that is having friends. Good friends who make you mixes, listen to you rant on Gmail chat, don’t freak out when you have a borderline insane Facebook status message because they know you are mostly joking or know that you have a right to be a little unwell once in a while, advise you to mix yourself a drink, and most of all never hold back on sharing the crappiness and coolness of their own roller coaster months.

It’s Monday, and that means I’m back in Boca after a Sunday gritting my teeth in the parallel world called In-Law City, and on this particular Monday it also means that I have been given a wonderful early Christmas present by my dermatologist which is, I only have to go in once a year now. He must have been reading my wish list, because that is what I really wanted to hear. So, seeing as it is always a great day not to have skin cancer, I am going to go out on a limb here and post a link to my sister’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training fundraising page. It’s  right here.
She’s got a little less than a month until the Disney marathon, and she’s a little over halfway to her mandatory minimum fundraising goal to participate. This is not due to lack of effort–she’s been sending out emails since August and she’s gotten great results from the people who don’t always procrastinate these things until the very last minute. She is really gung ho about this, so she’s planning on putting the balance on her credit card if some people don’t step up to the plate and give already. My sister makes me look like a slacker–she’s currently commuting from Miami to West Palm every day and putting in ten to twelve hours of accounting due diligence in between. Plus, she’s training for this marathon and of course raising money to support cancer treatment and research. So, if you have an extra 5 or 10 ten dollars and a minute to fill out an online donation form, I am encouraging you to make a merrier Christmas for one overworked public accountant, and as a bonus possibly cure cancer. Seriously, the survival rate for children under 5 with Acute Lymphocitic Leukemia is now 90.4%. This is still not reassuring enough for people such as my friend Carol in BC who was just diagnosed w/ ALL as a young adult, though, so I for one am giving to support the research that has brought us this far.

I know this is the time of year to be hit up for a bazillion things, but the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society could use whatever help you could spare. And if you’d like to donate, here is a great place to do it.

PS As an added incentive, if I see any of my known reader’s names pop up on the little sidebar in any amount, I will buy that person a lot of beer.  As much as they can drink in one night. So this could actually be more like an investment opportunity if you play it right.

Anyway who’s emailed/chatted/spoken with me in the past week knows that even though I have wrapped up one more semester of craptastic library papers and hopefully somewhat less craptastic English papers, yet more crap has felt the need to hit the fan. I could blog about this, and I probably will. But I’m kind of tired of trauma-blogging, so I’m going to start a little homage to my friends that has been long, long overdue. Because while I’ve been busy whining on my blog, you have been busy reading it, commenting on it, and most of all sending me mix CDs and the occasional KitKat Chunky and Dark Chocolate Flake. You know who you are (ahem ahem in alphabetical order AH, D&F, LCB and T-Fap although he no longer reads this blog). Yes, you have made love into a verb. When I cried out, you did more than nod your head, you did something. It has not gone unnoticed despite my vast blog silence!

When I wrote in my little bio for this blog that I’m a 25 year old living from mix CD to mix CD, I wasn’t kidding. For as long as I’ve been getting mix CDs from you people, starting with T-Fap’s Birthified mix sent to me on the occasion of turning 23 in Brazil, I have been using them as my soul’s soundtrack.

When I got that CD, I had no idea what to do with a BA in English, couldn’t afford no ring, and John Kerry had just lost the election. Half of the time was gone and I didn’t know where because alas I did not catch my plan ride on time, but I tried to remember to let my honesty shine, shine, shine, because I was the only living girl in Natal. I tried to call on St. Christopher, but not even he can do very much for a twenty-something.

Then there was the You’re Freaking Married Mix. There was also a mix from LCB that got played while me and the bridesmaids frantically applied make-up, but alas it disappeared into my sister’s laptop and while there have been rumors of its return on every visit since then, it is still somewhere in Michigan, so all I remember is that I think Stand By Me was on there. But I have nothing but good memories of the wedding so it must have set just the right mood. The YFMM found its way into the CD player of our rental car, and wow wow, look at us now, I sure felt like I had found my one in a million and I still do. I’m keeping him forever and for always, no matter what he thinks of my taste in country songs. I’ll be his Victoria and he’ll be my Albert.

Round about February last year, getting home from a visit to my mom lying in a hospital bed in Ann Arbor, I really wondered where I was and what the hell was going on. The doctors said it was all for the best, and they only meant well. Well of course they did. A little bit later, I became recreation for my very own doctor, the dermatologist. Why did it always rain on me? I was certainly being held up by invisible men, and there was no stairway to paradise no matter how many steps I tried to build. Where did the blue skies go? I was bad news, baby, I was bad news. I felt like a portion for a fox.

As that spring turned to summer, when I looked in the mirror, I thought, a long time ago, we used to be friends. I was introduced to Veronica Mars and it helped me get my mind off the fact that it seemed like I had snozzed and lost with the big one-night stand called my youth. That was the feeling anyway, that to be broken I was made. Hundreds of miles and I cried like a baby, even when D pleaded with me and shouted and screamed. They were troubled times. I made it through with the Unofficial Veronica Mars Soundtrack.

Along in there was also wanting to be forever young, and thinking it was really good to see my friends rocking out and having fun for a weekend in Ohio again. I could see the light of a clear blue morning.

’06 wrapped up with a night in mama’s room spent on two separate mixes, and a country mile, and lots of dining what I believe is called al fresco. Even though lots of things in the deli aisle made me cry.

Somehow, you all seem to know that I hear in my mind, all of these voices, and I hear in my mind, all of these, and my heart is often broken. This it how it works, I feel a little worse. In world with so much suffering, I still don’t know why I have new shoes. I would almost settle for false hope on a strange and mournful day.

I’ve now gotten three mixes from down Belfast way, it’s like Christmas just keeps happening to me. I’ve only made it through one because I wear my music out like denim blue fading up to the sky, like I want them to last forever but know they never will, I’m not through until I know the words. But in that time, I’ve felt my life just like a river running through, and you know, why they follow it, it’s called bad luck. A couple of weeks ago, there was a war inside of me and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have liked me if I met me. It’s all part of the Quarterlife Crisis Mix.

Now it’s a new week and a new song, or some old songs sung louder. These days.

In short, nobody knows the record or song the way I do. I hear in my mind all of this music, and with it I’ve leaned on you today. You’ve patched me up, and sent me on my way.

I love you people.

Last night at yoga, our teacher had us meditate for those at VT. She reminded us that when it seems like the world makes no sense and that there is nothing good that there still is sense and goodness and potential everywhere. She reminded us that knowing this is an effort all unto itself, and that we have to work to find it and work to create our own peace so that one day the world can be peaceful too.

It’s hard to keep up that kind of thinking when we are not in yoga.

But two things I wanted to share in case you, like me, are trying.

One is this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The other is something I saw last night watching the documentary My Country, My Country. It follows an Iraqi doctor living in Baghdad as the January 30, 2005 elections were being prepared for. It is a heartbreaking film in many ways, but perhaps with the voice of my yoga instructor in  my mind, I tried to find something to salvage from the corruption, betrayal, and selfishness so obviously pervading the American occupation of Iraq. What I found was the scene where an army commander is briefing new arrivals into Iraq. At first, he seems patronizing and as head-up-his-ass’ed as any other American military officer seen on the documentary. He makes a lame joke about some Arabic graffiti translating into “Baghdad is still safer than Michael Jackson’s house.” Then he  moves a little further on into his powerpoint and shows the soldiers a photo of two Iraqi interpreters who were executed in their car. When he says their names, his voice breaks. He paces around the table with the slide projector and pretends to cough, but when he speaks again his voice is husky. And it remains so. There is no close-up shot of him, but between his voice and the way he shields his eyes from the soldiers, it is clear that he is trying not to cry. It’s like a physical reaction to seeing their pictures and speaking their names. The last thing he would want, but there it is. In the midst of a war zone, this man who pretends to be so battle-hardened and tough cannot hide his pain in front of his inferiors. He is still a human being. Misguided, misplaced, chronically short-sighted, but a human being who made human contact with people who have become his enemy.

The humanity does not counteract the pain, the mistakes, the lack of good choices, the senseless death. It just is and remains, despite and still.

Our prayers are with you

January 9, 2007

Moe, I am so sorry.

(Kenyon friends, please read here.)