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Problem Girl

Another day, another petty argument.

This one was between two very stubborn individuals, the guy who accidentally hit the girl in the nose, and the girl who only needed a few moments before the pain went away before she was better. We were in his room, getting ready to watch a show with all the lights off, so there was no way he could see that my nose wasn’t bleeding or anything. Even after realizing I was fine, and recalling a time when I’ve had worse and my nose was actually bleeding from getting hit, he still insisted that I go to the bathroom and check myself out. I did, but the back-and-forth soured my mood for the rest of the evening.

It’s been said that if you’re fighting, you’re a compatible couple. I have to laugh at that, because sometimes those arguments and fights that couples have are pure drama, they serve no purpose other than to belittle the other partner. It’s all the unhappiness they feel normally, that they keep bottled up until something breaks, at which point they don’t care if they hurt their partner because they’ve been living with their own emotional pain. Somehow, I always find the love in my arguments with J. He wasn’t satisfied with me saying I felt fine, he wanted me to actually look and make sure that my nose wasn’t worse than I thought it was.

The problem always comes back around to being me. I should have just gotten up and checked my nose sooner, despite knowing myself well and knowing I was fine. Not only that, but all the pain I feel in regards to things between J and I, that’s all on me.

I don’t know if jealousy is an accurate description for what I feel when his ex comes to visit, or in general.

There is that voice in my head that reminds me of how I’m not friends with any of my exes, as if to tell me that I should be upset that he’s still close to his most recent ex. But then i think of Pete, who I don’t really classify as an ex because we weren’t in a romantic relationship. Pete and I are fairly good friends these days, and I’ve considered asking if he could spend a few days in January to visit me. I haven’t broached the subject, because I realize that while it would be “giving J a taste of his own medicine,” it could backfire in a number of ways, and I could be without two guy friends and be left with the constant reminder of my spiteful behavior. However, it could go positively, if I only think of it and treat it as a chance for a friend to visit and get away from his life for a while, and I show him the Asian stuff in the area that’s kept me going for the past year.

Speaking of the Asian stuff, it’s been a while since I’ve made omurice and okonomiyaki. Since omurice, or omelette rice, is simple and requires only a few everyday ingredients, I made it earlier this week. There are still other Japanese restaurants in the area I haven’t visited yet, and lately I’ve felt I should get back to taking myself out and writing about my experience as a whole. That was one of the things I used to write about here, I used to talk about Japan more, and wanting to go, and all the things I can experience over here. I never wrote about making miso soup for J, which I could have done. And at the thought of picking up where I left off with the Japanese restaurants, it doesn’t seem right to continue as I had always done, which is to say I was taking myself out to dinner. If I’m going out for Japanese food again, I want it to be with J.

But I realize that he doesn’t want me.

Well, I guess “realize” isn’t the right word, in the same way that one would realize water is wet. I could say that I’m “starting to believe,” like one would start to believe that their sand castle will withstand anything because they haven’t realized that water is also destructive. I guess I’m “leaning towards” that idea, and yes there could be nothing solid or firm there for me to lean on, and I could fall and hurt myself… because I’m dumb.

Oh, let me explain. The last time his ex was here, it was, “she (the ex) knows I’m joking,” and other things that made me feel like they were a team and I was odd man out. And when I made dinner, there were only ten rolled tacos, so I figured J could have the extra one but he split it two ways… and shared the other half with her, even though I would have liked it if it were split evenly among all three of us. When he played music, she swayed to the sound, enjoying every moment.

I can’t be her.

Not that I know how the music feels for her, but for me, it’s so much more. Lyrics are the words that are never said but often felt, the music itself conjuring up the scene of the story unfolding in a few short minutes. I can’t just sway to music, I need to perform it, I need to move my mouth and hands in such a way that I’m conveying the feeling of the song, because I feel it within me as if the words are my own and that is what I need to get out. There are a couple of songs that are personal and meaningful for me, because they make me think of my parents, and one will always make me cry. I can’t stop with, “that’s a good song,” because I get too passionate about some songs I hear. But maybe that’s all he wants, he just wants someone to sway to the music and simply be entertained, not someone like me who’s trying to figure out if he’s speaking through songs and who his heart and soul cry out to.

And there’s other ways I can’t be her. And I tell myself I should be good enough, or that I am. But then I realize that I’m nice to him in ways that don’t seem to matter as much, and I could be nicer at times when it seems more fun just to be a pain in the ass. I can’t simply show gratitude without coming off ungrateful first. And then I put myself in a mood I can’t easily shake, leaving J to wonder what’s wrong, but talking it over always comes back around to me being in the wrong and being dumb (not even in an abusive way, just reminding me that if I hadn’t said or done something a certain way, it wouldn’t have led to me overthinking a situation because nothing wrong would have happened), so lately it seems better to let my moods pass.

Although there is one advantage to knowing that I’m the problem, and that’s knowing I’m going to reject help and advice at a time when I know how things work for me. Yes, I’m sick, I came down with a cold yesterday. I texted J in the morning and told him I wasn’t feeling well, and that I’m not a whiny bitch when it comes to being sick. Basically I was telling him that I’m not the kind of girl, or person for that matter, who tucks themselves into bed and begs someone else to get them soup, get them tea, and basically wait on them hand and foot. I didn’t have to be told to take medicine, I found my antihistamines as soon as I could and took one. I drank tea and juice, and made myself soup for dinner. I left work halfway through the day because I had a headache that kept me from focusing on everything, and I didn’t think I could push through the last 4 hours of my day. I came home and took a nap, rolling out of bed when J got home from work, at which point I had more energy and felt more able to tolerate being around him.

My dinner was a mug of tea, a mug with chicken flavored instant ramen, and a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich on it. J had walked out to the kitchen around the time I was getting ready to carry everything out to the living room, at which point he offered to help me carry something. I’m not sure if being unwell caused me to get over myself, or if I was exhausted enough that I didn’t want to put up a fight, but I allowed him to carry my plate for me while I carried the two mugs, instead of insisting that I could take care of things by myself. He was rather nice to me yesterday, but again, it could be me being sick that I’m just being a bit kinder towards him.

“I’ll spare you from a kiss on the lips,” I said last night, before heading to my own room to sleep. After he questioned it, I reminded him that I was sick, something that I can obviously tell about myself even if it isn’t that apparent to anyone else. He, having an immune system I wish I had all my life, quickly pulled me close and gave me a peck on the lips.

He’s brave, that one. Kissing me when I’m contagious, dealing with my bullshit most days. I don’t want to let him go, but if he’s not into me romantically, we will have to go our separate ways one day.

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Thanksgiving, Gratitude, And Happiness

“You smile more than you think you do.”

The context is lost, but J’s words still echo in my mind. It’s amazing that anything echoes in my mind, as it often feels like my thoughts and memories are arranged like stacks of books, magazines and loose pieces of paper in an endless, dusty room. My mind is full and cluttered, nothing is as it should be.

J usually sees me smile, but he’s also the one trying to make me smile as well. I wish I could sit here and say that he made me smile by giving me flowers, or being more personal and thoughtful by stopping by my favorite bakery and getting me a chocolate cornet. Alas, I’m still not his girlfriend, not that I know if he’d do such things even if I was. No, he does other things to make me smile.

I had to work a day shift on Thanksgiving, from 9 in the morning until 5:30. It was one of the slowest shifts I’ve had to work, and I hoped they would send some of us home sooner than they did. Well, I managed to be released around 5:05, and when I got home, the house feast was ready to be served. So, I had to ask… did they wait for me? Did they time everything to be ready at about the time I’d be getting home? One answer was no, that it just happened that way, and another answer was that yes, they did anticipate me having to work my full shift so I’d be walking in on all the food ready to be served. I was beside myself, because I really didn’t mind grabbing leftovers and fixing a plate of food for myself. I am just one person, and barely important enough for a whole feast to revolve around my schedule.

I felt humbled, because I hadn’t been able to help prepare any of the food (except my apple pie, which is a long story in itself for a homemade pie bought as part of a fundraiser), so I helped put away the food once everyone was done eating for the evening. The turkey was cooked in an aluminum foil pan, which I tossed out with the majority of the skeletal remains once we had picked off most of the meat. Honestly, I could have spent more time and gotten more meat off the bones, but I was trying to make short work of it. Anyway, I feared for the trash bag, thinking it would rip from the bones and the bent foil pan. I said to J that I needed assistance pulling the trash bag, but since I didn’t specifically ask for his help, he didn’t help me with the bag, and that conversation snowballed into an argument.

Sigh. 

I was already telling myself that I needed to stop loving him, i needed to stop having this silly infatuation, that nothing would ever come of this. I can’t even compete with his ex, who stopped by before i got out of work and gave him some tres leches cake that she made, which seems to be one of his favorite foods. Now we’ve had another petty argument, making my chances that much slimmer that anything good might come of any of this.

Forget the evening cuddle session before bed. Since we fought, I wasn’t feeling amorous. I did need to take a shower, and the song “Im Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” was stuck in my head while I did so, or at least that one lyric repeated in my mind.

Before I started the shower, I texted him the picture I took of the slip of paper I wrote on at work, listing what I was thankful for this year. As it’s posted on a board at work, I took the picture of my entry so I could keep it, and I figured I would need it for this day but I didn’t know it would come to this. In my mind, I was trying to say, “I was thankful for you, but you just pissed me off.”

“You forgot to say…” was his reply, adding a few things that went along with the argument we just had. Oh really? At that point, I simply apologized for saying nice, positive things about him. After that, since I stepped out of the shower to respond, I stepped back into the shower and finished what I was doing.

“Good. How dare you.” I didn’t read that angrily, when I first read that. I read it in his smiling, sarcastic voice when he usually says “how dare you.” It confused me, because I was actually regretting that I had even had a positive thing to say about him, and to post it in a public space.

“I’m thankful for you too. Usually.” Why? Why did he have to say that? I was mad at him! I mean, clearly my judgment is clouded by the crush I have on him, so if I stop having feelings, I’ll see him as he really is. But what have I even done that he’s thankful for me? I feel like a placeholder, like I’m just here until things work in such a way that he gets his ex back, or that I’ll be less important once he has another girlfriend.

And I shouldn’t feel that way. I feel like I am worthy of love, that I’m worthy of and deserve his love. It’s not just because I do the dishes. We were talking tonight about things, and it was mentioned that we both have money budgeted in such a way that neither of us is struggling on a monthly basis, and that we could assist the other in a pinch. “But we’re not in a relationship,” he mentioned, which was like stabbing me with a knife, albeit a decorative knife which I knew I wanted to keep. But the context was to emphasize that a couple he was referring to was engaged to be wed, and one partner struggled while the other seemed to do fine because they can’t budget financially together. Look what we have here, I thought to myself. But I suppose we only make a good couple on paper, or in theory. His feelings need to be there, not just mine.

After my shower, I crawled into bed and played on my cell phone. I heard a bedroom door open, then the wooden boards of the hallway floor creaked with each step. I figured it was the other housemate, who was in town for the weekend, or her significant other. I figured that whoever it was, the person was going to the bathroom, nothing more, so I minded my own business. I heard a muffled thud as something hit the comforter and my leg beneath it. I looked up, just in time to see the side of J’s face as he walked back to his room. I looked to see what hit me, only to discover it was the fourth 3-novel compilation of the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, which I started reading about a month ago. I had just finished the third novel in the third book, and thus the entirety of the third book, earlier that day at work. However, I returned that book in the midst of our argument, opening the door just a crack so I could place it on the small bookshelf by the door, then closing the door behind me. I was going to be stubborn and prideful, I was going to start reading some of my other books instead of grabbing the next in the Sweep series. His words were already pulling me out of the mood I was in towards him, but seeing the book on my bed, I couldn’t help but consider him to be thoughtful, like that was the only word coming to mind to describe him.

Over the weekend, we were watching the second to last episode of Iron Fist. As sometimes happens, he couldn’t seem to figure out where to put his hand behind me, or if it should be on my side. So I held it in place over my left shoulder for long enough that the only reason why he moved it was because it wasn’t a comfortable position any longer. I started nodding off during that episode, possibly because a lack of sleep was catching up to me, and just as I had closed my eyes he nudged me awake. Usually he’s the one falling asleep and I try to nudge him, or we both start nodding off. My eyes weren’t closed long enough that I missed anything, so it was nice that he caught me nodding off at that moment.

Yeah, I’m thankful for him. And if I’m smiling more than I think I am, it probably has something to do with his ability to make me smile when I don’t otherwise feel like it.

Magic Man

Lately at work, I’ve found it’s impossible for me to get any reading done between calls. It’s not that there are more calls, it’s that I’ve spaced out, my mind has gone elsewhere and I’d forgotten I even had a book or two with me.

In my last haul from the storage unit in New Jersey, I brought one of my reusable grocery bags filled with books, and fortunately this collection contained at least one book that I had started but hadn’t finished. So I forced myself to finish Beauty’s Punishment, the second in Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy. I say that I forced myself to finish it, because when I started it, it was maybe 2011 or 2012 and I had a different mindset in regards to the subject matter of the series and my own experiences with a similar type of lifestyle. While I have the third and final book in the series, and was preparing to complete the story in my mind, J had another idea.

He handed me a book called Sweep, which was a collection of novels by Cate Tiernan, specifically the first three in a series. I suppose I could have chosen not to read it just yet, but J has been eager to know how far I’ve read or where I am in the story, not that his daily probing has been my motivation to turn another page.

It doesn’t take long to realize the series revolves around magic, or rather magick as it uses the other term to denote illusionary feats such as those performed by Siegfried and Roy, for example. More specifically than just magick, it involves the practice of Wicca, citing the various holidays and describing ritual work.

I should have stopped reading. In fact, I questioned J’s intentions for me reading the book. “It’s a good book,” was all he’d reply.

“You know, I’ve never even dabbled in Wicca. I didn’t know if you were trying to convert me or something.”

“Oh,” he said, mildly surprised. “I thought you had. Not trying to convert you, it’s just a  good book.”

I told him about what kept me from Wicca, which was the influence of my parents. I had put it out of my mind, it wasn’t even my thing.

Further into the book, when the morning winds violently shook the tree outside my window, I was reminded of a dream I had one time where strong winds pushed against me but I never fell over or bent to their will. Before I woke up from that dream, I noticed I was grasping something beaded in my right hand. I don’t remember all the symbols in the dream, just that I felt like I had some kind of powers or something, I felt like I was being called towards Wicca or witchcraft or something.

I read through Book Of Shadows, the first of the three books in Sweep, and the further I read into the story, the more I felt like I was being called again to try Wicca. But in the back of my mind, I wondered if I wasn’t just being lured in by a romanticized scenario of some sort, if I wasn’t trying to be the main character Morgan in some way. She pursued Wicca because it called to her, but she also kind of pursued it because of the dreamy witch boy Cal. Would I be pursuing it to feel closer to J?

Book Of Shadows ends on Samhain, but I finished reading it in the early hours of the 31st. It made me contemplate whether or not to take the plunge, or if it would even be acceptable to begin on the day that’s considered to be the New Year. Of course, I have to also keep in mind that the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest on Halloween night, or the night of Samhain, and I have two deceased parents who might still try to make their wishes known.

Well, if I decide to follow the path to Wicca, I have at least two friends who can help me down that path. And if I’m still contemplating whether or not it’s something I should do, there is always J to discuss what comes to mind. And if I decide not to start trying Wicca, it will either be a more educated decision than I could have made years ago, or it will be deep-seeded fear that I can’t get past

I already have the black cat. Being a witch might just be my fate.

Another Revolution Around The Burning Sun

“Your password expires in 7 days.”

I’ve managed to hold my job for three months. If one of the perks is that I actually get to change my password, then a celebration is in order.

I did change my work password last night. I typed in the old password, which began with the name of my friend from Japan. For the new password, I chose to reference Moondragon, a Marvel comic book character that I never knew existed until Saturday night. Gone will be anything that will remind me of my Japanese friend.

Facebook has been reminding me of lat year’s split from the ex fiancé, not only of the day itself but also the days following. I, of course, had already popped in to OKCupid to see when it was that my Japanese friend first wrote to me. I wanted to write to him and say “hey, it’s been a year since you first wrote to me!”

But, I didn’t write to him. At all.

I had already said I’m done, but this time I felt like I was in a better place emotionally to make that call.

I have a long way to go before I can consider going to Japan in any capacity. Knowing that, I wanted him to come here, even just briefly. He told me I would have to come up with a plan for him to be here. I’ve made many plans, and considered many possibilities. The problem is, I can’t make plans for where he’ll stay if I don’t know for how long he would be here, or if one place would cost too much for him and another place just wouldn’t be good enough. I can’t make plans for where he would work, if I’ve only been given vague responses to that question, and don’t even know if he would be staying long enough and would need employment to survive.

But why did I have to make that plan… alone? If any part of him was serious about coming here, then he should have at least met me halfway. “Can you recommend a hotel that’s decent but not too fancy? Do you know of any companies that would hire someone with this kind of expertise?” I would have appreciated anything to guide me towards a plan that would work for him, for both of us.

Some people can be difficult. He was difficult, and at times he was impossible.

It’s not even that hard to make plans if you have an idea of what you want. My complaint was that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, and I told him so. And I didn’t care. I guess that made me brash, pompous, and a lot of other words that are characteristic of being American. But if I had to think about how he’s being Japanese, then I’d be reading between the lines, and he would have already been telling me that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, that it didn’t matter if he ever met me or not.

I feel like we ran out of things to talk about. It was always my debt, or the fact that I was still staying up until 2 am, or anything I did that was bad for my health while trying to tell me I should be walking more and eating better. I could have mentioned anything, from video games to Japanese food and festivals. Half the time, if not more often than that, I wouldn’t even get a response to whatever I said or asked. Other times, he barely seemed interested, with the extent of his interest being if he had a family of his own to do things with.

He remarked that I talked less while we chatted, compared to when I wrote email. I asked if he preferred chatting with me because of that, to which he remarked that it was an observation. But lately, my emails received the response of “I’ll be available to chat around this time on these days.” It was just before bed for him, but for me it was the start of my day, which meant I either had to get up early regardless of my plans for the day or I had to chat with him while getting ready for work. I missed the days when it was reversed, when he would catch me at the end of my day and he was just starting the next day.

But I’ve been writing to him less since moving in with J. Not as much has been happening, either. Well, I could talk about going to the store with J, but that seems mundane. Work is work; I answer the phone and make calls all day, and I’m not allowed to discuss my calls at all. At home, i cook and watch Daredevil with J. Nothing about my days stand out as much anymore, so I have less to write about.

So, that’s the end of that.

I got a letter in the mail recently, from the collection agency that holds my debt to my New Jersey apartment owners. They’re offering to reduce my debt from just under $10,000 to about $6,600. The difference is the cost of going to Japan, and a little extra. It would be a little less to worry about, just in general. I might manage to get my debt paid off sooner than expected.

Even on my days off, I can’t seem to sleep past 9 am, but like clockwork I manage to wake up around 6 or 7 am. Even waking at 9, after I’ve told myself I can be lazy and sleep in until 11 or later because I have nothing of great import and no place to be, I feel like it’s just time to start the day. I can’t seem to sleep late like I used to do. And unless I try, unless I make myself sit in front of the computer and write a lengthy email, or I try to play video games for a few hours, I can’t stay up until 2 am anymore. For the past two nights, I’ve called it a night around 11 pm.

My life is changing in ways that would gain the approval of my Japanese friend. However, it feels right to close that chapter of my life. He entered when my ex fiancé left, he kept my Valentines Day from being miserable, and perhaps all I needed was just someone to keep me going.

Not that J is a romantic partner. He had already said he doesn’t see me romantically, and another guy friend of mine says that won’t change once a guy says something like that. Yet I’m in this limbo of “he did this nice thing, so… maybe?” and “I see how he looks at his ex, or how he talks about his date ideas and how past dates have gone, and I’m clearly not a love interest.”

Saturday he was telling me about one girl he dated, or at least how the dates went. This was while we were perusing a discount store and checking out the books they had for sale. He was telling me how the date didn’t go so well, in that they didn’t have much in common. At one point, he started flipping through an encyclopedia of Marvel Comics characters, when he came to a page that said Moondragon.

I laughed and pointed out that there was a character named Moondragon.

“Yeah,” J repled. “I thought that’s who you named yourself after,” referring to the Luna Dragon moniker I bestowed upon myself. I have a very basic knowledge of comics and the DC and Marvel universes, so this was one character I had no knowledge about. I briefly read her description and noted that she kind of sounded like me. “Right?!” J said in agreement.

“Your password expires in 7 days” came the prompt on the screen at work. I had already been thinking of changing it to get my Japanese friend’s name out of the password, but I hadn’t taken the time to think of a new password. Although I had the rest of the week to consider it, I decided to ride the Moondragon wave for the next three months, and incorporated that into my password.

While writing this, my friend from Japan actually emailed me. He said he’s been thinking of me more than I probably realize, and that he doesn’t know what to say so as to not upset me or make me uncomfortable. But they’re only words now, I suppose. I can’t keep going just on words.

At this point, I need to be distracted from J. Mere words won’t be enough.

Acoustic #3

A week ago, I hopped in the car and set off for New Jersey to retrieve more things from storage. I had a list of things I absolutely wanted to liberate from the storage unit, some things that would be nice but not needed, and even a really short list of things I would need to take with me when I headed down there (because I probably would have forgotten the GPS device without reminding myself to take it).

My number one priority was to grab my Mom’s acoustic guitar, a Fender Classic, model FC-10. Beneath the strings, there’s a label bearing my Mom’s name and the address I lived at until I was 8, a reminder of where it’s been and how old it is. As I write this, I looked up information on the FC-10 and found out they were made until 1981, which means the guitar is older than I am. While it’s been very rarely played, my Dad being the last one I remember playing it, that guitar is one of the things that’s always been in my life.

I carefully loaded the guitar, enclosed in a soft leather-like case, into the back seat on top of everything else I had packed up. I told J to pray for my safe return, sending him a picture of the guitar as the reason why he should hope I return safely. And while my return trip started with a two-hour delay on route 80, and I spilled a bit of my Dairy Queen Blizzard after a mid-trip stop, I did make it home without too much of an issue. There were no Fender-benders to speak of.

I’ve slowly been unpacking the car over the past week, with the guitar… actually, plural, because I also grabbed the electric guitar I picked up at a garage sale in 2014, along with my Rock Band guitar controller for the Xbox 360… I unpacked all three guitars as soon as I got back. Yesterday, I unloaded one of the random bags of things I put in the car, which had two miniature model Fender guitars and one of the guitar-shaped pens I found in a bookstore.

Why does a girl who doesn’t play guitar have so many guitars?

Well, condensing much of my life into one statement, I wanted to be a singer. A famous singer. I wanted to be a pop vocalist. I wanted to be the one recording albums and performing on stage. As I got older, I realized I loved music, and that being a famous vocalist was more an expression of that passion, it was what I felt I wanted to be because that’s where my heart was drawn. It’s not the path I’m on because of parents who knew what was best for me, as the story usually goes. I can’t resent them for that, because I might have started chasing an unobtainable dream.

Eventually, I started acquiring things to represent my love for music. My parents gave me a music note pin when I was in the school choir. I bought a smoothie at the state fair, and chose the tall cup that had a guitar shape around the midsection instead of the plain one or the one with an alien. I bought guitar earrings and a couple necklaces, oh do I have a lot of guitar earrings! My favorite guitar necklace is one where the body of the acoustic guitar is glass or crystal or something, and the neck is gold-plated. And then there’s the guitar pens, and the little guitar models. And the Japanese guitar magazine, because Hyde’s guitar was featured in its pages.

The first guy who I thought was possibly interested in me romantically, was a guy who was half-Asian and played acoustic guitar. He played for me one time, without me asking. Well, he played in my presence, let’s just say that much. The vibrations of the strings, the notes echoing in my ears, made me feel as if I was in love or at least a rather euphoric state. At no time was I really ever on his mind, it seemed. I went into that whole thing not knowing what to do, what I should do, and as it ended I was left wondering what I did do, what I should’ve done, what I should be doing.

At one of my call center jobs, I met this guy from Hawaii who brought in a teal electric guitar a few times.  The plate on the back was autographed by one of the members of Dream Theater, a band with whom he had spent some time hanging out. While I liked Dream Theater, after a mention from the previous guitarist got me listening to their music, it didn’t matter to me if this guy had spent time with any of the members of the band or even if he was one of the members of the band. Things had gotten playful between us, until I started getting uncomfortable. My desk was moved from being down the row from J to being on the other side of the room from J, not that J mattered at the time. We’re still talking about the Hawaiian here, and how I was moved to a seat where walking past me meant going out of the way to do so.

J and I worked together at that job in the sense that we knew that the other person reported to work there. We barely spoke to each other, unless it was part of a conversation with other people. I left that job, and that was it. A couple years later, he found me on a social media site and said hi. One thing led to another, and I end up hanging out at his house and meeting the girlfriend he had then. I think he brought in his acoustic guitar to work once or twice, but as I paid as much attention to him as I felt he paid to me at that time (which wasn’t much), I don’t remember if he did or not. I do know, however, that the first night I hung out at his place, I learned that he played guitar. And that we got along really well, so well in fact that it made his girlfriend jealous. But that’s a story I’m sure I’ve already told, even if I limited the details. Alas, things ended on a sour note.

Or did they? Because I live here now, with J and at least five guitars between us both (two electric, three acoustic), not counting guitar peripherals for video games, or any of my knick-knacks. And while I wonder what would really go on in J’s mind when he sees I’ve got something else that looks like a guitar, I have to think it amuses him in some way.

Just the same, I wonder what he thinks or feels as he’s playing guitar, if he can hear the creaking of the floorboards as I move to where I can hear him play just a little bit better. I can just barely hear him from my bedroom when he plays, so if I wake up and hear something, I can listen to him while I’m in the upstairs bathroom. I’ve gone from the bedroom to the windowsill at the lower landing of the stairs just to listen to him play. I wonder if he delights in knowing he summoned me. I wonder if we share the same smile, the same warmth. For me, it’s like Christmas morning, as there’s a gift to be enjoyed if I get out of bed, so I want to imagine him as the parent who gave a gift of themselves, knowing it’s nothing much but still appreciated. At no point do I remember thinking, “I would like to be awoken to the sound of an acoustic guitar playing softly in the distance,” but I have that now and I really don’t want to leave or lose that.

I share a birthday with Eric Clapton. I have no problem having a guitar collection… or collecting guitarists, whatever. Their expression through music is my passion, and I enjoy expressing that passion however I can.

I Moved!

And oh, what a crazy however-long it’s been!

As you may know, I was evicted from my apartment in New Jersey last October. Thankfully I had a friend who offered me shelter, two friends actually.

The one shelter, a trailer home that would have been rent-free, needed renovations. As in, it wasn’t livable. There wasn’t even a toilet installed, or a shower head. The place was a mess, in fact some who think the White House is a dump might actually change their mind after seeing that trailer home. The renovations were supposed to be done in a week, or two weeks. After a couple of months, I was told it was move-in day, so I went down with my cat in tow and… found the place to still be a wreck. For wasting my time, as it was an hour-long drive each way, I gave up on that trailer home.

Unfortunately for my other friend, it has meant staying in her house. For the past ten months, that’s where I’ve been is sleeping on her couch, trying to find work and make a comeback of sorts. After getting this current job, I was handed walking papers. I’m not sure what the whole story was, because one minute I was a drain on their finances, and the next I’m being told that some of her friends think i “needed a direction.”

With nothing in savings, and a checking account that I was working on getting out of the red, not to mention the fact that I have a lousy credit score and especially an eviction to deal with, I had to look for a place to live. My budget consists of the moths flying out of my wallet as I open it, and then I need government assistance to get that first month’s rent if I should happen to find someone who is willing to rent to me.

Nothing I found was perfect. I found an apartment in a bad part of town that was slightly better than the trailer home, and the landlord would have rented to me but I decided against that. I found another place at the other end of the street from my favorite karaoke bar, but they wouldn’t rent to me because of the eviction. There was an old house that was subdivided into four apartments, but that was out of my budget and had more space than I knew what to do with, though I’d have rented it for how close it was to a duck pond I like to visit on rare occasions.

One day I got a text out of the blue from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. I knew he had a house he was renting, and I knew that every time I chatted with him, there was someone else staying there. So I was like, “hey, do you have a room you could rent out?”

He did have a room, which he offered up as a last resort if I needed it. As time passed and nothing was working out, it was quickly becoming my only option.

So the room I would be renting was the smallest room, where the litter box from the last cat was located. The room across the hall would be available to move into in about… two or three months.

On move-in day, or at least the first of two move-in days, I was told the other room would be available in about… a week. So I slept in the cat box room last night, after showering off all the sweat that covered my body after going up and down stairs and back and forth from car to house. I didn’t get everything moved out as quickly as I thought I could, which is why I ended up with a second move-in day.

Today I went to work, and discovered it’s less than 5 minutes to drive to work now! And then I ended up late to work, because I had to run back into the house to get my house key that wasn’t given to me the night before so I could lock the door. And then after parking the car, I dumped my work bag as I was getting out of the car. This delayed me enough that I had to stand and wait for the freight train to pass through so I could cross, but of course it had to stop and leave me no way to walk around. After it moved aside, I continued in to work, which I was then late for the start of my shift. I have an awesome job, let me tell you, because they have the ability to move your shift a few minutes, so my 9:15 shift became a 9:30 shift. If I carve out a few extra minutes in the morning, I could walk to work instead and not have to deal with the train at all, which is yet another perk about living here now.

Once I got home from work, I was told, “hey guess what? The room across the hallway is available for you to move into!”

“No way!”

“Yes way!”

Okay, the conversation wasn’t quite like that, but it was close enough. So I’ve moved a few things across the hall already. The other room, I treated like sleeping in a storage room, as I had things just piled up so they were there but not taking up too much space.

After moving some things across the hall into the bigger room, I’ve made it feel a little homely. My computer is on a television stand right now instead of being on the floor, and I have things set on top of the television stand instead of being in reusable grocery tote bags or my suitcases. I mean, I might still be living out of my suitcases for a bit until I get some hangers for the closet (my hangers are in storage).

However, it feels a little more like I live somewhere. I have my own room, I can have privacy if I want. I can take a nap midday and not worry about being bothered by small children. I can leave my clothes on the floor… I can pick up after my lazy self. I can go to bed when I want, and I don’t have to worry about anyone playing on the computer until they feel tired (I often wanted to ask her if she could go to bed no later than midnight some nights, and other nights I could barely stay up that long and tried to pass out).

There is a downside to this, and no it’s not that I now have to pay rent. Believe me, for the perks, it’s worth it to pay rent. But my friend’s youngest son, the one who never stole my portable video game devices but who was often the louder and noisier one, cried and had fits when he realized that I was moving out. My friend, his mom, said it took about an hour to calm him down last night. Tonight when I stopped in, he was only a bit happy to see me but still quite sad that I had to go. He doesn’t understand that I was bothering his mom, and she was bothering me, even if we usually seemed to get along. I mean, there were times when I wanted to stand up for myself, or maybe just tell her how I felt about her at times, but I didn’t because I knew it would mean I had to leave and I was often in no position to go elsewhere. I’ve thought about ending my friendship with her so many times, I thought about writing a “now that I’m out of here and you can’t do anything” post, but… today I happened to think that I’m not that angry right now, and it might not even do any good in the long run. So my stay has caused quite a bit of hurt feelings all around.

But let’s think about this.

I have more space now.

I have space of my very own.

And I have a lot of stuff in storage that I need to clear out of there.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned lately, it’s that I have a lot of stuff, and I’m getting tired of moving it from place to place. So my mission is going to be to figure out a way to make the storage unit disappear from my bills, and then get everything I own down to something more manageable. Bonus points if I manage to do it before the worst of the winter weather, at least for the part about clearing things out of storage.

I think I’m going to like it here.

Bootstraps

It was a quarter to 10 on Thursday morning. I knew my parking meter allotment was just running out as I checked the time.

If I left to feed the meter, I might have been called forth. If I stayed, it’s possible that a meter maid might not have been checking my car by the time I was done. I did get the parking ticket, as luck would have it, but I don’t think it could have been helped.

All the while, I was losing time at work. I sat there hoping I wasn’t going to lose my job as  a result of this absence, despite letting the instructor know the day before that I had things I needed to take care of.

All I could think was, I shouldn’t even be here.

I was sitting in the county’s government building, waiting for a response to the application I had submitted for temporary public assistance. It was your standard bureaucratic waiting room: uncomfortable plastic and metal chairs, posters with phone numbers to call for other services offered by the same or similar departments, tile flooring, fluorescent lighting, and miserable people.

I was playing on my iPhone 6S that I bought when I had more money. I was wearing a shirt and jeans from Lane Bryant, clothes that are never inexpensive even when they’re on sale. I wore my $300 ankle-high boots from the renaissance faire because they make me feel like a rock star, plus they looked better for wearing to work than my sneakers would have been.

For a little while, a guy was sitting in front of me who was wearing a Taco Bell uniform t-shirt. In another section of chairs, I saw a guy get up when called, and he looked like your traditional bearded Harley-Davidson-riding kind of dude. I saw a woman wearing pants that were open on the side but held together by a ribbon of fabric that zigzagged down the length of her leg, and all I could think was that those pants would be better off in a night club than any kind of bureaucratic office. I wondered what reasons the other people had for being there, but I was certain that their needs were greater than mine.

I knew I would have to speak to a case worker or someone, and while it’s been scheduled for next week, the fact remains that it’s a part of the process. So what do I say? Three years ago, I had about $100,000 to my name. After paying off a couple of loans, I had a little less than that. I basically went through about $40,000 a year, for two years, and barely worked during that time. I haven’t yet landed a job that will pay that much. So, at what point do I say that I’m apparently bad with money and shouldn’t be given hand-outs?

But that’s just the thing. Now, I need the hand-outs to get back on track.

I needed the $100,000, which was an inheritance. No, I didn’t need it in the sense that I had $100,000 worth of debt or any other such needs. I needed it as a test of myself and others. If given that much money, would I choose fun over responsibility? Having that much, would I have friends because I’m a nice person who buys things they ask for, or would I have friends because I’m a nice person who they respect and care about?

After losing the money, I lost the fiancé. While it became obvious that we were two different people, the fact remains that he ended our relationship after our eviction from the apartment was definite. However, I had just started a job that hadn’t started paying; if he had any faith or patience, he could have stayed “for richer or poorer.” I think about those words, “for richer or poorer,” in regards to the end of our relationship, and it reminds me that he left before he had to make that vow in front of God and our families. If he had stayed, I could have received homelessness prevention services easier since his name was on the lease for the apartment as well. It’s quite possible that I could have turned myself around months ago.

Of course, I wouldn’t have burned through so much money if the ex fiancé wasn’t so willing to spend it on me. He kept talking to his friends, and he was the one saying that I could buy a condo, or that I’d be fine living in a luxury apartment where the rent was $2200 a month. Well, it was a roof over my head that allowed me to have a cat, but I had never priced apartments before and I just assumed that the higher price was because it was New Jersey and so close to NYC.

I probably should have ended our relationship sooner, but I didn’t see any problems at that time. It was only 6 months into our relationship at that time as well, so I wasn’t thinking logically and nothing was sending up red flags. If anything, it was nice to not be alone after losing my Mom, and I think that mattered more to me than making sure I wasn’t getting screwed out of money.

But living with a friend I’ve known for over 10 years, I thought things were going to be different. I’ve done things for her, like teaching her how to drive, and I’ve bought things she needed when she asked for them. Looking back, I bought things that some of her other friends would have paid for just the same, and she didn’t really need them to survive but I did want her to be happy just the same. Within the past month, I’ve been “reminded” that she didn’t have to let me stay here, something that was told to me by some of her friends who she has no problem complaining to when I’ve done something she hasn’t liked, but she never seems to defend me or express gratitude towards me while I’m here. And I feel like everything I did for her was just to make her happy, so now I regret doing it at all. I feel used, as if I did nothing for her throughout the years, and I just feel like I’ve been taken in so there’s one more person to serve her and take her verbal abuse.

If I think about it all, I do need the government assistance right now. I need to get out of this house and live alone again. I need to pick up overtime shifts, not so I can keep an apartment and have food, but to pay off the debts I’ve racked up. And if I don’t live here, I can work overtime and not worry about missing dinner, or even feeling like I’m taking food out of other people’s mouths. So while it hurts a tiny bit to read the words “Notice To Vacate” on the letter that my friend gave me, it also is the kick I need to leave here and live a bit more comfortably.

Comfort is relative. I’ll be sleeping on the floor, getting government assistance. It’s not the life I want. It’s not a life I deserve, though I can’t decide if I deserve to have things be worse or if I deserve a bit more luxury. There are other people who are more deserving, harder-working, who had a rougher life growing up, who have to struggle more because of prejudices against their race or sexuality, people who have more mouths to feed and can’t make a more substantial income. I have been blessed and rather fortunate in life, which makes me wonder if it’s caused me to delude myself into believing I’m more capable of bouncing back without assistance than I really am capable of doing.

Perhaps appearances really are deceiving. Anyone in that room could have had less of a need than I do for housing assistance or food stamps, or any of the programs I didn’t sign up for. They might have other family members pushing money towards them to help out, just to make things easier for them. Me? I know people who can’t help me out because they have so much going on in their own lives, and those I haven’t asked would probably give me the same answer. But that’s just how things appear, which might not be how they really are.

I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience. I learned what it’s like to have to go on government assistance. I’ve learned that people can do things for you and not have any compassion, and those who are compassionate aren’t always able to do what you need. I’ve learned that holding money makes you nothing more than a wallet to someone else, and you serve no purpose if you’re empty. I learned who to trust.

And I learned I’m not as humble as I feel, that I have too much pride that I need to swallow. No matter what, government assistance is a need for me at this point. I have to get over myself and just accept that fact, and my life will begin to get easier.

Well, a lot of things will make my life easier, At least now I know what I can handle, and it’s not a windfall.