I don’t even like the word limbo though

I’d say we’re in limbo again, but I’m ever so slowly realizing that adulthood is anything but stable and always in limbo. Becoming a responsible adult is the easy part; the hard part is managing constant change and uncertainty. There will never be employment that is a sure thing for life, and I don’t know why I was always working towards that, anyway. Wouldn’t that be dull?

I have been working as a Communications Specialist and an Audio Specialist since September and December, respectively. The former has been quite difficult, and has filled me with both more doubt about myself (and my work ethic) while also filling me with assured-ness of not wanting to do it for the rest of my life. I am just not the type to run after the virality of a post every day, and that’s okay, because there are people out there who live and breathe all that.

The latter position has been a wonderful experience, and I get to listen to strange and wonderful things every day, and learn more about the best quality capture and sticky shed and splicing. I don’t really know what it means for the future, but I’m giving up on that line of thought. All I can really do for sure is follow experiences, and meet new people, and gather up opportunities, and hope for the best. And that I will be able to always pay rent. That is just as important as being content with my work, don’t you think?

We took a much-needed trip back to California in February. I would say vacation, and it was a vacation from the two jobs I hold, but it didn’t feel very relaxing. Derek and I are getting married in Berkeley in October, so the week was crammed with wedding appointments. By the afternoon I’d feel so spent and done, but then we’d meet with friends. Before each meeting I’d have to give myself a pep talk: “You want to be social! You want to see people you haven’t seen for over a year! You DON’T want a nap!”

The trip made me sad as well as tired. If we revisit this theme of limbo of adulthood, I can not only apply that to job status but to our home. The last six months dealt us such strong homesickness and such a yearning to live back in the Bay, to say goodbye to the Midwest because we thought we were pretty much done (and not only because I’m losing one of my jobs in May, which yes, was unexpected and yes, did pull the rug from under our feet again, but why was I even surprised?). I felt so full when we flew in over the Bay, and so happy when we drove back into Berkeley. It was so familiar; little things had changed but pretty much it was the way we left it.

Except that: we felt like tourists. There are so many new apartment buildings going up, and it’s obvious we sure as hell can’t afford them. Two of our friends couldn’t say anything good about it anymore and can’t wait to move up the coast. They were paying the same rent for a small one bedroom that we pay for our huge, beautiful, hardwood floor covered 3-bedroom apartment in Madison. The same kind of bougey restaurants are going up all over town. Oakland felt the same way in some parts. It looks like the tech industry of San Francisco is really spilling into the East Bay now. Not that the East Bay wasn’t expensive before — if you wanted your own room, you had to cough up $800 at the very least — but it felt so much less accessible this time.

It makes me so sad. And angry. I hate that so many people who have lived there for a long time are being pushed out so all these software developers of banal, stupid apps can come in. Fine, I like my shower clock app that repeats the time to me, I like browsing through my Pinterest app, I like my to do list app. But I don’t think these kind of things deserve lots of money in return. I know it’s a tired argument, but why does someone who develops an app that will likely be gone in 5 years get paid more than a teacher who will change a student’s entire life?

Derek and I talked to each other on the plane ride home with this enormously hard truth on our shoulders: we don’t think we could make it in the Bay anymore. The idea of living in the Central Valley sounds completely 100% awful, commuting for even 30 minutes in East Bay traffic sounds just as horrendous, and I don’t know if I still want to pay a ton of money to live somewhere a little more affordable like El Cerrito but without all the charm of Berkeley.

I just didn’t expect this.

We don’t have to think about it for a while, anyway, I suppose — we have decided to stay in Madison another year as more sonic opportunities crop up for me. And after that, now we’re looking at the central coast, where I grew up … which really doesn’t sound all that bad anymore, considering rich hipster douchebags won’t clog it up as much. (Tell us how you really feel, Dana) Anyway, maybe we can find a home in there someday.

Bowing out for now. Generally, life is good. The cats are sleepy and the peppermint brownies I just made are calling.

autumn is always good to me

I have settled on my first tattoo idea. I’ve decided on the ampersand, which not only has an interesting history (at least to me), but is also meaningful and just intrinsically beautiful to me. It’s one of those visuals that I don’t understand why I like it, but I do — though I suppose most things are like that.

&: The idea of more. The idea of something else, of a future, of an open door, of more possibility. More often than not, I need a reminder that life is full of ands more than ends.

About two weeks ago I was turned down for a position that I thought I would’ve been wonderful for, but a retired woman with many more years experience was hired instead. The way another position rejection earlier from the summer was a good lesson in not worrying too much about the logistics until you know whether or not you got it (I spent hours trying to figure our lives out living in Kansas …), this was a good lesson in “There is really nothing else I could have done.” I was told that while I did exceptionally well in the interview and that I couldn’t have improved on anything, the experience won out. I can understand that. You put in as much control as you can, and that is doing the best you can to try and earn the job you want. But after that, control is out of your hands. Accept it. There is an &.

I came back in late August from a genealogy conference in Fort Wayne, representing my job. It was exhausting but a good experience. I left poor Derek with all of our moving boxes to deal with. Since I’ve been back, I’ve slowly gone through things and it feels so good to make this place a home. It is amazing what a change of scenery can do. To say the least, we actively disliked our last apartment that we moved into sight-unseen, since we were coming from California. We couldn’t afford another move mid-school, but after two years it was too much. I am so in love with our new place. I feel like it was meant for us. The kittens even love it: Francesca has taken to rolling around on her back and Oslo has never found round bell toys so fun before.

It has all hardwood floors, save for the kitchen and bathroom which are linoleum. The kitchen is spacious, so much so that I had enough counter space to make both an apple pie and a batch of brownies tonight! We turned a third bedroom into a kitten room, an extension of our closet, and a reading room. Our bedroom is small, but a perfect size since we don’t spend a lot of time awake in there. We are sharing a room as an office and sometimes call it “the electronics room.” I love working with Derek by my side. Our living room is full of light and the way the setting sun hits the floor is gorgeous. We just found a couch at a thrift store that works perfectly with our old chairs. I’ve never been so in love with a home.

Along with getting settled, exciting things have been happening in potential-future-employment land. Nothing is for certain, of course, and I have definitely learned to have enough hope to give when I really want something but not so much hope that my future feels devastated. The last time I faced extended unemployment after a graduation, nothing happened until suddenly it all did, and it happened so fast. I have a feeling that is happening now, but I’m not going to have any expectations! This extended under-employment period has really taught me patience and trust. I have also learned to be intensely grateful for the people who believe in me and want to see me succeed.

For me, “&” signals to not despair, because there is more. I hope that my other future tattoos will be reminders that not only is there more coming, but that right now I have enough. Life is good. Do not despair, just go make another apple pie in a space you love for the person you love with your little kittens pacing through your legs the entire time.

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(There’s also a quote that has made its round on Pinterest: “Resembling a broken infinity, the ampersand reminds us that nothing truly lasts forever but there is always an AND.” I’m generally more comfortable with endings than uncertainties. I never like the end of a good book, of course, but it has to happen.)

the fog days of summer

Summer is slowly turning into autumn. I thought the entire summer was going to be another hot mess with oppressive humidity and hungry mosquitoes, but in late July there was a gorgeous and amazingly long thunderstorm that made it all go away. It honestly felt like the sky just wanted to push all the terrible humidity out in one big go and clear the air for the summer. We’ve just been having beautiful days, mostly in the 70s. Summer is finally reasonable for this California girl.

It’s been a complicated summer that I don’t want to go into much. I’ve had days and weeks of self-doubt and shame surrounding my job search, and thought about writing a post about why we conflate shame so much with an inability to find a position of employment that seems to fit us like a tailored suit. By this, I mean to say that some days I’ve remembered to feel proud that I currently hold two part-time positions that were created with specifically me in mind and some days I’ve remembered that I have yet to land a position that feels like that tailored suit, with a salary and benefits to boot. I’m in an ill-fitting thrifted suit right now (one that will actually be missing its shoes, socks, jacket, and tie soon, if I want to ridiculously continue this metaphor, because my last day at my morning job is Tuesday).

Summers are usually hard for me. I grew up in a temperate-leaning-to-chilly climate and that’s what I love. Summers also tend to feel a little like a free fall, because all of my life school has ended and at the other end something else is supposed to start. This is the first time in my life I don’t have that last book-end in place to catch myself.

Today, thankfully, is a good day, with positive thoughts and reminders of good things, like my fiancé finding a job he loves, my parents still being awesome (my mom sent me a Coke bottle opener, because every house she’s lived in, she installs one too), moving into a beautiful new apartment with lots of windows and therefore natural light, my wonderful friends (shout-out especially to Sarah for gchats & wedding planning and to Whitney for her ever-thoughtful letters), and the fact that I know I can be great. Should I just say it? I know I am great. Sometimes I don’t believe that, but I have to get over the feelings of inadequacy and being an imposter and all that. Women need to be more confident of themselves and their work. And most of all, it is such an amazingly privileged problem of mine to worry about a fulfilling job.

I conquered my time in high school. I conquered my time at Berkeley. I conquered the difficulties of my early 20s. I conquered my time within the Master’s program, and I not only exceeded what I thought I’d do, I’ve learned entirely new things about myself that weren’t on my path before at all. I have also conquered un(der)employment before. I can do it again.

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(Some of my favorite days: brunch with Derek nearly every weekend, a new goal of one romantic date night per week since we barely get to see each other, my friend Katie visiting from California [we took her out to eat at so many places, showed her the beautiful Olbrich Gardens where she saw a red Cardinal bird, and to the Mustard Museum], my friend Leslie coming back to Madison to make mischief with me, finding AND BUYING my wedding dress with the two aforementioned wonderful women, and following Derek into the artisan cheese world, where we’ve already gotten a special Yelp! tour of Fromagination, to the Festival of Cheese as part of the American Cheese Society Conference, to wineries and to breweries and to farmer’s markets to study cheese companions, and hopefully much more in the future [including the creation of a podcast!])