Thursday, November 29, 2012


Every once in awhile, I find myself narrating my day. Sometimes I have the urge to write it down. Today, you get to see it.

I run home for lunch, as usual.

Aside from having a steady paycheck again, that's been the best part about this job: I can go home for lunch every day. I've never gotten to do that before, never had a job close to home that didn't require me to do something during lunch, never had the freedom to take a full hour. It's nice.

There are no leftovers. Instead, I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, flipping over the heel so I don't see the crust, a mind-over-matter trick I learned at the camp years ago. Haven't wasted a slice of bread since. Potato chips, a clementine -- not super healthy but not bad.

That's the other thing. I haven't lost much weight since moving back west, but I haven't gained it, either. I imagine a lot of things contribute -- more movement, less desk time. I drink less now, too. That last year in Wausau I spent a lot more time and money on beer than I should have.

It was too easy. I had the time and money, and sad to say it made me feel better. Heck, it wasn't even the beer -- it was being around people that had nothing to do with my office. After that first round of layoffs a year and a half before I left, I'd been uneasy. My job wasn't secure, I didn't particularly enjoy it any more, and it seemed everything I did outside work made me feel like a little more of a fraud. Sure, I was part of the young professionals groups. But man, I didn't have anything in common with those people besides a job. I bought my car for utility, not looks; I was appalled at spending more than five bucks for a drink; when they talked of random advanced degrees, all I could think was, "You'll never be out of debt, will you?" They were buying houses and getting new toys, and I had nothing to contribute to their conversations.

As is usually the case for me, that discomfort manifested itself physically. For as long as I can remember, my emotions have had a physical side to them ... I suppose most people are in the same position, whether or not they realize it, but I can usually identify an emotion more from physical feelings than thoughts. I had never been more uncomfortable in my own skin than I was that year.

It was the anxiety that was new. Thoughts of a house made me itch; thoughts of getting married nearly made me hyperventilate. Here I was going to my friends' weddings, perfectly happy for them, but if anyone asked if I had such aspirations I had to change the subject or leave before my heart rate got out of control.

It was an irrational fear, but it was part of me. You know the opening to the show "Weeds" (at least for the early seasons)? Little boxes on a hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky ... That was my fear incarnate. I feared the suburban life.

There isn't anything to fear. It's comfort. It's security. It's ... good, really. But I'd look at it and I'd see hobbies that didn't interest me, conversations I wanted no part of, and the strain of having to convince people every day that I was something else. More refined, more sophisticated ... when what I really wanted was to hike into the woods with a backpack and a pup tent and chill out for a few days.

So I had rebelled in a quiet, Midwestern girl kind of way. I avoided commitment. I made new friends in bars. I talked football with the guys just off their shifts from the paper mills instead of the lawyers that clearly wanted attention. I went hiking in the woods alone -- maybe not overnight, but it was a start.

And when I got laid off, I was almost relieved. Not at first, certainly. First came the shock and humiliation, the fear of poverty, the realization that I had to move because that big, beautiful apartment I'd acquired was no longer in my price range. But as the days passed, something new settled in -- something like peace.

So it is that I find myself now, with my PB&J and my chips and my clementine, pulling up SportsCenter for some noise. There's a book, too -- I've been reading more lately, sometimes for fun but more often as part of the new plan I'm working on. For the last two years, I've found myself in the right place at the right time far too often to ignore the fact that several new things have been presented in the last month. It's a Gibbs Rule -- the NCIS one, nothing to do with free energy. Never trust a coincidence. And regardless of how those new things shake out, there's change in the air and it's time for me to get moving.

In the meantime, it's business as usual. When lunch is over I'll head back to the office, getting ready for a long weekend of sorts. And I'll be keeping an eye on my other careful preparations while I wait to find out what exactly comes next.

It's a little strange, this life I'm leading now. It's certainly not what I pictured five years ago but as each day goes by I'm a little more relieved about that.

As for those new things ... Well. We'll talk about those when the time comes.

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