Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Focus on My Career - pt. 1 - Starting Again from Scratch

     After writing twenty-three entries on my "mental health" I realized that most of them have really been more about my career focus; getting a job, interviews and the search.  So, starting today, some of these entries will be more focused on my future career plans and how that is working out.
     This particular entry will most likely be fairly short as if you've read this far you have a pretty good idea about how my career has gone so far.  But, for those of you who have not, this is where I've been so far:

  • Started education in the field of writing and received a Bachelor of Arts in English.
  • Found a retail job at an art store selling posters and random decorations.
  • Worked on novels and attempted to have them published.
  • Moved into a retail job working with art and custom framing.
  • Started teaching framing, drawing, painting and crafts.  Started selling my paintings and artwork for commissions and artist fairs/conventions.
  •  Continued working with conventions and learned how to design graphics and work with media advertising and copy, merchandise design and social media.
  • Trained as management and learned supervisory jobs.
  • Started my own online business and had my first true craft fair experience.

Job Leads...

  • Bold Penguin - a website company that specialized in Insurance for small businesses.  Job was $12/hr but had no parking options... only downside.  No dress code, 9-5, great benefits.  I was stupid and should have gone in for the second interview.
  • Quantum Health - an Insurance company with a focus on ease and personal care - had a phone interview for an Assistant Pod Manager job, which apparently was out of my league and I should have applied for an entry level job.
  • Beam Dental - a dental Insurance company - had a great phone interview, a great in-person interview...but got passed over for someone with call center experience and the job listing was taken down.
  • Supply House - Plumbing and home improvement supply warehouse - interviewed for a secretarial job, but the latest update is that they were still taking applications and interviewing.
  • Quantum Health - I bit the bullet and applied...again...but for a Junior RFP Writer position, but in my cover letter mentioned I'd be open for any position even though I was applying to that particular one.

     I think in total I've applied for over 20 different jobs since April.  I've literally had four bites, which has really depressed me.
     When I first lost my job I was so excited and confident.  I just KNEW I'd get a new job and when the first place I applied for (well, one of the first) I got both a phone and an in-person interview and got called for a second...I was so confident in my potential to get a job that I turned it down since it wasn't quite what I was looking for.
     Now, nearly every day I kick myself for not following that path, at least for a short time.  I feel like an idiot because since then I have had no other confidence builders and that push and excitement has now dwindled.
     By the time I had my last interview I was so miserable that I couldn't show the excitement that I first approached those interviews with previously.  The confidence I had when I was applying for jobs has changed to anxiety and the feeling of inferiority.  Will this job even look at my application?  Why would they?  What do I have to offer to someone at my age?  Why did I go so long without trying for a job elsewhere that could use what I had to offer?  Why did I suffer?  What will people think when they look at the gaps in my resume?

     So, here are some of the things I'm going to be looking at over the next few weeks:

  1. Re-evaluate my Resume and bring it up to date.
  2. Work on writing a concise cover letter for each job application.
  3. Research education paths - writing or information/internet technologies?
  4. Get a better wardrobe to present myself better.  Dress to impress!
  5. Practice Interviews - find a better way to explain how I lost my job.  "I was let go due to policy changes."
  6. Try to find new contacts for job possibilities.
  7. Stop being so depressed about my situation and get working on what I CAN do.

     Now I need to process all of this, and report back as I manage to overcome some of these hurdles!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 23 - New Routine & New Tasks

     Today starts a new chapter in my life.  No, I'm still sans an actual job...  But my husband started his new job today, the first new one since we moved to Columbus.  In a way he'll still be working with the old job, but it's something brand new and I was pretty proud of him to finally make that jump.
     But as I said goodbye to him this morning after breakfast, I couldn't help but think about the fact that it wasn't me leaving for a new job.  I have a few different applications out there still, but haven't heard anything at all today, and I'm trying to just keep my chin up and keep looking.
     Meanwhile, I decided I needed to get up off the couch and get moving to do things while he's gone.  Mind you, we've spent almost every single waking moment together since I got fired since he was working from home from around Christmas.  I know he's been super worried about me since before that point as he'd leave for work and come home on my days off to find me still on the couch where he left me.
     So, this morning I made it a point to tell myself over and over again that I have to be the supportive wifey, and I also need to make sure he doesn't feel like he has to worry about me while he's gone.  To do this, I hurried up and got around this morning and went downstairs to make coffee and fix him breakfast and send him on his way, cheering him along by messenger and getting other people on Facebook to cheer for him as well.
     Then after breakfast I got to work on my to do list.  Pulled apart the fridge and cleaned it out, got rid of a bunch of expired stuff and re-organized the pantry and I still need to do a bit more overhaul, but I think I at least know what we've got in there since the kitchen is going to be my territory again very soon.  The next few hours were spent doing various cleaning, watering, dishes, gardening, pulling in my recycle bin and mail, and taking Olivia out on her leash for a short time.
     Painting was also on my list of to-dos today, so get a bunch of things finished, some figures done to the extent that I felt satisfied (some figures I just don't go overboard on since they'll be on the table top for only a few minutes at time).  And then upstairs to take care of all of the social media posts for the next few days.
     My husband told me to hold down things with the convention, so I took care of answering questions - didn't realize they had so many throughout the day.  Don't have access to the email questions yet, but the Facebook thing is pretty regularly every few hours.

     Okay...so this was more of a journal entry of what I've done with my day rather than telling you about my new routine.

     But, in a way it IS my new routine.  I think getting up early in the morning, getting things taken care of for breakfast, and then writing a to-do list for the day.  After that, actually DOING that to-do list.  Then, making dinner and relaxing with my husband and hopefully convincing him he doesn't have to worry about me being depressed at home.

     Yes....I'm depressed.  Not so bad today (or rather the last few days, I really need to make sure I go for walks out at the park more often) but I can't help but feel bad about myself not having a job STILL.

     I am being a wee bit stubborn with what kinds of jobs I'm applying for... I feel like every where that my friends recommend for me never seem to work, so I keep trying at other places, but everything feels set against me.  I started out being super anxious about the actual interview but then feeling really good after it happened...and then I get turned down for the job after I've convinced myself that I AM RIGHT FOR THIS JOB... only to be slammed down - NOPE.
     I worry that I had too much luck with my jobs growing up - I got nearly every job I applied for - so suddenly I'm getting not even ONE job I applied for... (well, except for the one I regret a lot and am too stubborn to go crawling back to)  And I hate this feeling that I'm not that kind of person who people want to hire anymore.  What happened?

     Meanwhile, I'm trying to sell things online but so far that's not happening yet either.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 22 - Craft Show & Intense Anxiety

     Back around the end of March, I made some plans with a friend to head to Indianapolis to watch the Critical Role Live Show.  If you don't know what that is, then you're not as much of a nerd as I am, and that's okay.  It's basically watching a bunch of anime/video game voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons in front of a live audience of some two thousand or more people.  We happened to get tickets to be two of those people.
     Then the two of us stressed out for weeks hoping that we'd be able to get the time off together and that our terrible manager wouldn't throw a wrench in our plans by telling one of us we couldn't go (because, as I've mentioned so long ago, she didn't want us being friends or spending any time outside of work together...miserable woman.)
     Then just a few weeks later, I got fired and suddenly didn't have to worry about having the day off.  Well, sort of since I'd really hoped I'd have a new job by then and would have the worry about asking for it off instead of worried about what our manager would do to us.  So, with that off the table for the time being, I ceased worrying too much about it.  Then a few months later, my friend got away from that woman and her new job told her it would be fine if she went, she'd just have to do her test a day early (which she passed after only missing one question, so go her!)  Meanwhile...still jobless, I still had no worries with regards to whether I'd have a day off or not.

     Skip forward to May.  After a few weeks of being miserable (and coming down with colds TWICE) I pushed forward in my plan to make money somehow, by actually going after a spot at a craft show at a local church brat fest that I'd been thinking about for quite some time.  I finally got a table!  Got the payment turned in, got the confirmation, I was so excited... and then I realized that the two things were on the EXACT SAME WEEKEND.

     Well....this is awkward.

     I pushed forward with both plans even though as the days crept closer I started to freak out more and more that I couldn't pull it off.  But I had a lot of craft stock done and even though I took time in between to work on my D&D stuff, job application stuff, failing at unemployment stuff, and website/social media stuff...I somehow managed to get enough stock for the craft table and that was pretty awesome.

     But how to cover a table when I'd be out of town and they were very specific about having to have someone there the first day?  Thankfully, that's where my husband and my in-laws came in and we started preparing for them to set it up and run it on day one and then to tell everyone it was a last minute thing that I got tickets to this show and had to go.  Okay, it would have been a lie, but later once that Friday was over, he'd never had to tell the lie even once because no one asked where I was.
     The picture above was the prep setup I did so my husband could take pictures of it and have an idea how to put everything.  He actually sold quite a bit that first day (more then I sold on the last day to be quite honest) and it was a relief to me that no one ever asked about me and for all the staunch rules I was given at the outset - we were still given a form for the next show, so I guess no one actually missed me at all.

     Meanwhile, I was facing a challenge of taking a road trip with someone I'd never taken a road trip with before, hitting all of these stops along the way, and getting to that Live Show I mentioned in a city I'd only visited a few times when I was much younger.  
     I was a bit nervous about it all, but the drive was easy (I'd done 90% of it before) and we had lots to talk about and there were only a few lulls in the conversation but never enough to turn on the radio, and I was super amazed because it's been a long time since I've had a friend with me in a car for a three hour drive that wasn't my husband.  And even longer since I'd stayed in a hotel with someone that wasn't family.
     But it all turned out okay - we made our stops, we got to our hotel in time (even though the payment system online is really lame and was supposed to be paid for in advance but in reality they don't take any money until you check in...so weird).  And we even managed to find a parking spot in that crazy town when the stupid venue parking was filled with food trucks......  Not a happy camper about that honestly - it was so nerve wracking to get back to the car in the middle of this big city after midnight.  I can't say I've done that since my 20's.

     In the middle of it all though, I get a phone call from a job I'd applied to.  They leave a message.  I get to the hotel, I get a busy signal.  Then another...  really?  In this day and age?  Then I get an answering machine.  WUT.  I leave a message.  I have 45 minutes in the hotel room and hear nothing.  I get on the road and am driving in circles around Indianapolis trying to find a parking lot somewhere and they freakin' call back.  I told them I was traveling...  They shoot back they'll be there until 6pm.
     At the restaurant my friend convinces me to call back.  They answer, they schedule an interview - no other talk, nothing - just, can you make it on Tuesday?  Hmmmm.  They'll send an email confirmation.

     I don't get this email until I finally thought to check my Spam three days later.  Not entirely sure this place is on the up and up, if you catch my drift.  I start to worry about whether I should even go.  I'm having a full-on anxiety attack of - nonononononono - but at the same time I think, "but it might be a job, right?"
     And then another friend tells me that she found out the reason I didn't get hired at the other place was because I didn't have call-center experience.  I almost lost it.

I wanted to scream.

     Like ALL those years in retail weren't experience with dealing with phone calls one after another after another??  Do you have this item?  Can you tell me this price?  Why isn't my online order going through?  Can I sign up for a class?  What's wrong with my gift card?  Can I speak to a manager?  ALL WHILE TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME.

If ANYTHING... my job was a LOT HARDER then some stupid call center job!!!!

But...I don't have experience in a call center.


     So... between that and this interview which I feel is going to go no where like every other stinking job interview I've had - plus it's a half hour drive away - the only thing that's even vaguely making my consider still going is a morbid curiosity to go into an area I've never been before.  Apparently it's right next to Amazon or something.  But once I really read this job description, it sounds like this "receptionist" job is actually just "warehouse mom" because you have to man the phones, keep the breakroom food stocked and the supplies stocked... help do shipping when needed, etc etc.
     I have no idea if I'm even going to feel like it tomorrow.  Especially when I'm balancing my husband having these wild swings between - you need to get a job now -  to you shouldn't go to this one... you should help me with the convention - you should do all of this work for me and I'm stuck doing even more housework than normal because his new job will have him away so I'll be back to cooking and cleaning and doing all of the stuff I usually do in my normal housewife fashion...and I honestly am getting so many mixed signals right now.

     Does he want me to help with the convention and keep up the house to keep up my side of the household?

     Or does he want me to get a job and make money and take care of things like we used to do?

     I just don't have a single clue because he swings wildly from "we'll be fine" to "you need to get insurance NOW."

     And I thought that maybe doing this online business thing and craft shows might be a good way to pass the time and start my own business.  I had an enjoyable time listening to everyone (on Saturday and Sunday once I got back from my trip) tell me that things were "cute" or "did you paint these?  They are really good."  And all of those compliments were awesome even if I didn't get as much business as I'd hoped I'd get - it was about what I expected overall.
     But I don't know if I can spend time working on that any more.  And if I get a job, I definitely won't.  Sometimes it really doesn't feel like I have enough time in the day to do all of the things I want to do, even when I force myself to really work, suddenly my day goes from noon to dinner and I have no idea what I accomplished during that time sometimes.

     As usual, this blog was an attempt to square away some of my feelings about things.  I want to feel really excited about stuff but I haven't actually felt relaxed enough to feel happy and in the moment as I would like.  My mind is always on the next thing and worried about getting through it and maybe a moment here and there I really can stop and relax, but I'm starting to get afraid that my body has been so tightly strung it can't unwind anymore.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Focus on my Mental Health - pt. 21 - Routines

     My week typically goes something like this...

Sunday: Have breakfast, read the paper, catch up on television shows, spend some time outside either walking or gardening, watch more TV, scroll the internet, have a big dinner, and overall just waste a lot of time.

Monday:  Realize I haven't gotten anything new done for my websites and get a bunch of painting done in order to update my Facebook sites, shop site and blogs.

Tuesday:  Clean the house because we're going to have company over that evening to play D&D.  Now that we have a big ol' table (read the previous post if you'd like more details) and since almost everyone lives on this side of town and our FLGS (friendly local gaming store) decided to up and close on us, except for on rare occasions, games are held here.  So, floors swept, kitchen and bathrooms cleaned, etc etc.  Prepare for a game if I am running it that way (which, thankfully I am not currently.)

Wednesday:  Realize I did nothing but clean house all day and return to painting and try to get as much done as possible so that I can schedule posts and can forget about Facebook for the rest of the week.

Thursday: Get burned out and start feeling lethargic and annoyed that no one has bought anything from my shop, no one is responding to my posts anymore and scroll endlessly on Facebook and Reddit.  Maybe do some other household cleaning, make dinner, grocery shop, or anything else that keeps my mind off of feeling like a jobless loser.

Friday:  Most likely I have a D&D game this night or Saturday that I have to prepare for.  Put off planning on it until the day it's due and a few hours before.  Think about it a LOT.  Throw stuff together last minute and attempt to finish painting figures for it and then get overwhelmed and give up and start typing fiercely to get it done in time for dinner and the game.

Saturday: If the game was last night, I feel burned out and just want to relax all day.  If the game is tonight, I realize I wasted all day yesterday by not getting prepared and then have to clean the house again, and don't get the game prepped until a few hours before.  Realize that I've run out of time and should have spent more time on it as when the game actually occurs it's not as engaging as I hoped it would be and disappointed in myself.


     At least, for the last few months, that's how it's been going unless we're gone somewhere for the weekend or someone else is gone and we cancel or postpone games for another time.  I personally think I'm getting a bit burned out with playing so I'm looking forward to having a good week or two to refresh with all of my other plans here in August.  I LIKE playing and have guests over, don't get me wrong, but for YEARS (literally) I never had anyone over except for the occasional family member so now that it happens twice weekly (or heck, last week three times) I feel like my life is swallowed up by this routine that I've been keeping.  And I start to wonder if I'm prepared enough for this craft show that's coming up.
      On the plus side, I know I have well over 60 items - probably onwards of 100 now - and I'll have even more by the time two weeks is up.  But I've also sold a total of 5 things the entire time I've been working this website since April/May and that's sorta depressing.
     So...in other news I still haven't heard anything about the job.  My husband went in for an interview for a new job, received the offer, worried about it for three days, talked to everyone he knew and they were all split on whether he should take it or not, then he freaked himself out more by reading about jobs similar to it online, and I kept feeling like a terrible wife because I couldn't tell him that he should take it or not.  He's his own person is how I feel, and yes, he's taking care of me at present, but would less then a $100 a paycheck be worth the extra work that he was likely to take on?  I think once I finally broke down the math with him and told him straight out that if he was going to take the job that he shouldn't be having this mental anguish...he turned it down.
     It's not like he doesn't have a job like me.  I think at this point if I were offered any job I'd take it just to get my butt out of the house and learn something new.  Even if it didn't work out and I hated it, I'd have something new to talk about and possibly start looking all over again.  But, alas, no word after that interview and even though I tell myself it's probably a good thing I don't have the stress to worry about while I'm prepping for everything that's coming up in two weeks... I'm also going through the full anxiety string in my head every thing I paint and every time I stop and think about it.

Things I'm anxious about:

  • I won't receive a call which means I wasn't good enough, or didn't ask the right questions or they thought I was too stupid or they don't want me because I didn't have references or anything along those lines.
  • I WILL receive the call and they'll want me to start right away and I'll be so stressed out over having to deal with my craft show and my new job that it'll send me into hysterics.
  • I'll get the job and everyone will hate me and I'll be as miserable as I was at my previous job.
  • I'll go to the craft show and no one will come by and no one will buy anything and now I have hundreds of items that I've spent all this work on and they'll end up just becoming Christmas presents for people because I'll never sell any of it.
  • My husband will lose his job and then beat himself up over not taking this other job he's been offered because his company starts having major layoffs or the CEO decides to retire which sends the whole thing into a tailspin.
  • Another recession will kick in because of Trump and everything will just be terrible because we'll both be without jobs and struggling to make ends meet and we'll never be able to take the cats to the vet or pay off our cars or our house and....well, you take it from there.
     There's a whole lot more where that came from, but I'm sure you get the gist.  Sometimes I just write it down to get it out of my head.  Does it work?  When I'm in the process of doing it, yes.  A few days later when I start to panic that I've completely overwhelmed myself with all of these projects and won't sell a single one... yeah, so it'll come back and I'll freak out again and again.

Plans I have for the near future:

  • Get through the two D&D games for the week and try not to be anxious that everyone hates me.  (my character in one game had an in-game argument with another and it actually started to terrify me even after I realized that I was NOT my character, and this was all role play...it was still kinda odd since I've never played into a game enough to have a discussion like this.)  Also, I keep having these worries that my friends only like me for the game and even though we hang out otherwise, I have crippling anxiety when someone cancels plans with me and I start to want to withdraw from everything.
  • Work like a beast to get as much stock done as possible because if I can do that maybe I can sell quite a few things because I'll have enough variety for everyone.
  • Try not to fret about not getting a call back after my interview because they're all ill-organized and I'm sure I'd hear from my friend if she thought something wasn't going well.
  • Also just concentrate on getting into August and getting through the long weekend and out the other side - hopefully make or break this craft thing I've been trying to hard at.
  • If I don't hear from a job by that point, start applying to all the places AGAIN, and see what happens.
  • Maybe convince my husband we need to take a short vacation before I begin the job because I think I just need to get out of this house soon before my brain explodes.
     So...that about wraps up quite a bit of what's been going on in my head lately.  I just like to please people and by putting myself out there I want to get results and when I don't it really throws my anxiety into high gear.  I know I've always suffered from these issues, but only more recently have I really paid closer attention to what triggers it.  I know my friends cancelling the meetup yesterday wasn't because they didn't want to be with me (I didn't even invite them, so why did I take it personally?!) but then I felt attacked because I read everything very curtly from those who responded the next day.  And I'm sure I was reading into it that way because I felt sad.
     I need to get out of the routine of feeling bad about myself.  But sometimes you need a little pick me up, you know?  And who better to give you that then your friends?  And I feel bad because I feel like I'm not really close friends with any of them, and I shouldn't be bothered by that but I am and I guess I just really miss having a close friend that's not my husband... I know I've talked about this before but I come back to it often enough in my thoughts.  Maybe it's because of how it always happens slowly and I try to do my best to keep in touch but the next thing I know they've all but stopped talking to me until I just give up...  I don't want to give up this set of friends, it's taken years to get this far.  Oi vey.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 20 - Cleavage & The Table

      Haven't written in here for a week and had really hoped to have had an update on the job situation by now.  I don't.  The only vague news that I received was that they were still doing interviews this week (over a week later) and that I might hear by Friday or by the beginning of next week.
     I keep having these anxiety moments though.  A moment of complete and utter panic when thinking about having to start a new job and all of the ins and outs of starting in a new place and what will the people think of me and what if I can't cut it and get fired?  But then I try to remind myself that I haven't even received a single email to say they're still thinking and the anxiety of dealing with that has gone down a wee bit but it's still there and poking at me from time to time.
      This past weekend we went out to a convention for a few days to do some gaming.  The first day was just fine, the second we found out how irresponsible the guy who was running our D&D games was with time management.  I was stuck in costume for over an hour past what I'd hoped and starving since I hadn't eaten dinner, and it was one of these moments that I made the decision to just get up and go to the hotel room.
     What I had already taken into account (and certainly made me uncomfortable even at the age of 40) was the fact my costume had a very vaa-vaa-voom boost to my bust and after being gawked at by a few middle-age men during the convention, I also got honked at while heading to the hotel and gawked at in the hotel waiting for the elevator and that sent me in full-on panic mode as not only was I waiting to enter an elevator with ONE guy, I had a box full of money and very little clothing on (well, sorta - I never dressed with cleavage at ALL until just recently - so I became really self-conscious of the fact all of a sudden) and with that I turned tail and climbed up to the SEVENTH floor in a leather corset of sorts.
     Believe me, I couldn't breathe and I was heaving and thought I'd die by the time I threw open the hotel room and started stripping it off as fast as I could.  All the while storming around with my hangry mood and upset that I was all alone and have never really dealt with being gawked at.  I just never dress like that and I thought now that I was older it might be okay.
     My husband mentioned last night that he knew things were different for my reactions to things because he was absolutely certain when he'd finally made it back to the room (an hour and a half later than we were supposed to be) that I'd be sitting there in my pjs refusing to go back.  I was this close to messaging him, but just hadn't quite gotten to that point and I was starting to feel a bit better after eating a slice of disgustingly cold pizza (the microwave was missing of course).  So I'd calmed down a bit.  But in the past I'm not even sure if pizza would have done it.  My mind cleared up a bit and once I had on a t-shirt and jeans we went back.
     Then the one guy we sat down next to had an anxiety attack and left with his friend - I could literally feel the young man tense up when we sat down (for whatever reason he wasn't sitting next to his friend) so the two headed out.  We never finished the game though because the guy running was of course, the same one who had no time management skills and oh well.

     So, skip forward to what... Thursday?  Yeah, so here we are, I've been making a bit of money by doing commission work for painting miniatures and attempting to look for more business that way.  But also working on my craft table stuff hoping in a couple weeks to be able to sell a good chunk of it and at least feel like I'm contributing to the family again.
      Last night my husband got an email from the job he'd applied for a few month's ago and hadn't heard anything from.  They'd contacted him again asking if he was still interested.  So now today he accepted the offer to come in and talk again so the interview is set some time tomorrow afternoon.
     I sit here beating myself up over not going into I.T. because I probably would have found a job by now.  Why was I so stupid to go into retail???  WHY?!  Because...again...I'm female and that's what was expected of me...get an easy job that I'd quit when I became pregnant and then have my husband take care of me....wut?


     And in the middle of this today a FedEx truck with music blaring backed into the driveway with our "TABLE OF ULTIMATE GAMING".

     You have to say it in all caps, you know.

     My husband had ordered this because of course we wanted a bigger table for our D&D games but honestly I had told him when he ordered it on a whim that it was going to be TOO big.  I showed him with the measuring tape.
     He wanted to put it together today, so we moved the kitchen table downstairs thinking we'd put it in the kitchen but he just didn't see how HUGE the flippin' thing was until it had all four legs (but thankfully not the topper yet) and I think at that moment he realized, yah, it fit, but you'd never be able to get around it.
     Take the legs back off, move it to the basement, move the kitchen table back... and since then he's been down there working on it.

     I was just stressing out trying not to cry.

     My mother told me once that she and my dad had bought this big living room furniture and when they finally got it into the living room she cried because it was just so big.  I didn't get it myself because it was comfortable and we had that furniture for quite a few years.  But it was a lot bigger than the stuff she had and the stuff she has now (although I think we all regret allowing her to get it replaced because that's money she'll never get back).
     But now we'll have to get more chairs for the basement and we'll have to clean up down there (which I've been wanting to do for awhile anyway since he keeps moving his stuff down there and it's a wreck most of the time).  But the table fits down there a whole lot better then in the kitchen and I'm waiting to see what it looks like completed.  I'm also looking forward to surprising the heck out of people who come over in the next few days with it.

     But I felt like utter garbage this afternoon because I kept saying it was too big and I was just so upset when he didn't see how big it was until it was eating up the entire dining room with no room for chairs or people.

     And I still feel kinda useless because I still don't have a job and I'm trying to be confident in myself but it's awfully hard.  I think if I could sell something - gain a following...something...

A brief moment today on a walk I felt happy.  I hadn't felt that way in quite awhile and it passed quickly...but maybe it will come back someday again soon?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 19 - The Next Interview

     Actually all of this happened yesterday so I'm a bit behind on my keeping this updated.  But then again, things have been kind of a rollercoaster this week and it's not going to slow down for the next week or so I fear.  So, given that, I thought I'd sit down and ponder how my mental state is doing currently and what I'm hoping will happen during the rest of July.

     Firstly, I finally had another phone interview and I thought it went fairly well.  Because of the holiday (4th) happening the next week I was told not to expect any news right away and it was okay with me because I had a lot of things going.  I had some D&D campaigns to play in and run, had some 4th of July plans, although no company, which was a mixed blessing as it was nice and relaxing but also felt 'off' somehow since we were by ourselves for the first time in awhile with no parties, cook-outs or family visitors.
     Then the 4th came and went and very soon after I found out that they were going to be bringing me in for an in-person interview the following week, so I was pretty excited about it.  At least until anxiety brain kicked in off and on and I couldn't sleep that first day (it got better once it was scheduled and in place for nearly a week later).  Anxiety brain would pop up from time to time but I'd remind myself that there was no use worrying about it when I had so many other things that needed to be worked on.
     So a cookout the Saturday after the 4th, followed by a D&D game where my players literally did the thing I thought they would: abandoned the city to destruction by an unknown force that was most likely their own doing (or rather, by ignoring it, will ultimately cause it's destruction).  They simply said, "eh, not a dragon, not our problem, we're out!"  So, just as I had expected, I created their exit story and over a week later they're in a cool new city they're ready to explore next week.  I'm really looking forward to writing more of that story because I have some ideas for it - and also all of the things that will be happening elsewhere in the world as they're completely ignoring the things that are going on in the world to pursue their own selfish desires.  HA!
     Skip forward to the next day which began my trip to Michigan to visit my mother for a few days.  It got cut a bit short because of the interview on Wednesday scheduled.  Mostly because of my anxiety over interviews and traveling when there's something scheduled.  I keep thinking "what if my car breaks down on the way home?  If I leave too late I'll never get any sleep for the interview!"  And you know, all of the other things.  Plus, being home really stresses me out anyway because my Mom has no money for upkeep of the house so it's just slowly degrading year after year.  I do a few things like keep branches off the roof, leaves out of the gutters and try to drag some garbage from the basement...
     See, my mom won't admit to being a hoarder, but she's really super borderline.  And I understand she doesn't have a lot of money but being frugal and being a hoarder really are two separate things.  She's not frugal.  She buys things for decorations and then the old d├ęcor just gets thrown in a spare room, closet or basement and then stays there.  For example, I found an old bathroom curtain and rod - both had been completely replaced some two or three years ago - sitting in the basement.  The curtain was old and plastic and could never be used again, and yet, there it sat in a corner.
     Boxes were growing black mold from the multiple floods down there, and they remained untouched.  When I'd go to throw something out she'd ask, "Could that be sold?  What about donated?"  It's covered in mildew...so, no.  Four garbage bags this trip before my sinuses (I'm fairly certain the dust and mold will eventually give me asthma) couldn't take it and I gave up.  She'll take them out to the road but I have yet to actually see any changes in the basement between trips to her house.  Six months will go by, I'll ask her just to take ONE bag up...deal with ONE pile... and instead it just grows worse and worse.
     And she wonders why I don't want to visit.  The house itself upstairs would fool someone as she keeps it relatively clean.  But you can see the paint peeling on the ceilings, the carpets are starting to wear down, there are bowing portions and missing shingles on the roof that I try to repair but I know at least one spot is too far gone... and I have no idea how long that house is going to remain livable.
     So usually when I'm there I want to just leave the house and go places, and that's usually what we do.  But I'm without a job (hopefully not too much longer!  I'm getting to it!) and she's in so much debt now that her credit card bounced a few times while we were out... so then I feel doubly bad that I can't help my mom out with this money problem.  But she's done it to herself and when she gets really upset she lashes out and blames my brother and myself.  First off, I paid rent once I got out of college (which she made me finish, so okay, there's that, but I had to work my way through it) and my brother didn't work and then had a bunch of student debt so she didn't really ask him to pay for much - although I guess he paid for some things while he was still at home.
     But she really never stressed how bad off we were.  I tried to quit college to work more and I tried to get her to work, but she had one episode and quit her job and it was years before she went back to working.  And mostly I just tried my best to just find a way to get out.  It wasn't exactly for selfish reasons either, it was because I thought if I wasn't contributing to the problem, things would get better and maybe my brother would start contributing more (boy was I wrong).  But, I digress, this wasn't really about me getting away, but it is about why it's so uncomfortable being at my old home any more.
     A year or so before I completed college I'd actually had the basement cleaned up.  We'd started to hold gaming meetings in the basement of my mom's house because we had large tables built (initially for a huge train set my father had put together for us and we stripped apart for table-top gaming) so we had to have a clean space.  So, around 2001 or so we had it organized, cleaned up, and ready for company.  Even after that my brother helped her clean out the garage so she could hold garage sales.  (She has never had one to my knowledge)  So between those two things, when I'm at her house I just remember how clean everything was and how all she had to do was leave it clean...

     I came home on Tuesday.  She tried to keep me longer but I headed out around 10am and got home four or five hours later after making a couple stops for lunch and driving breaks.  It was really good to get back home to stop worrying about my old house and my mother and her debt, and start back to worrying about my interview.

     Having gone shopping while I was up at my old home (again, remember not spending a lot of time AT the house) I had my clothes picked out and then proceeded to worry and clean the house while I was worrying about everything.
     But Wednesday came and I got to the interview on time - early even - the interviewer was actually late getting back from lunch which made me start to doubt myself a bit (I've been completely forgotten about for interviews in the past as I blended in...?  I don't know) but eventually we got started and the next couple hours flew by pretty quickly and only as I was walking back to my car did I realize that I'd missed a bunch of opportunities and hoped no one would think less of me for not asking certain questions...
     Anxiety brain, remember?
     But I got a whole lot of stuff done yesterday after the interview - working on the garden, watering outside, doing some cleaning, washing the bed sheets...  When anxiety brain kicks in, I find a bunch of stuff to try to keep it occupied.
     Haven't heard anything today, rather hoped I would but knew that they were doing more interviews so I remain patient since it didn't feel like I'd done anything super wrong at the job.  I thought I had a pleasant voice during the phone portion and could follow their software without much issue, so that's always a plus.  I just hope that I wasn't too unprofessional because I just don't know what people are looking for nowadays.

     So, now I wait.  And I anxiety it out and I cleaned the house (again) and I did more painting and I got all of my facebook page posts scheduled for the weekend and I'm just about to start getting ready for my weekend plans and I'm trying to just relax.  If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen... and I've got so much stuff going in July and the beginning of August I'll almost be relieved to not hear anything for a little bit...so we'll see I guess!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 18 - The Best Friend Equation

     Even after some forty years and a few days on this earth, I realize that there are some things that never change about me.  Maybe the way I handle them changes, but the basic, deep down issues that affected me thirty years ago, bothered me twenty, ten, and even now.  I think we all have problems that we must handle at some times in our lives over and over again, and sometimes we don't know even know they're popping up again until you can do that 20/20 look back thing and realize, "oh crap, it was THAT again".
     Today on my long ride home from the dentist (thank goodness my husband could put me on some of his insurance even though neither of us wanted him to put me on his normal healthcare, I will survive) I started thinking about the people that I talk to and the friends that I've had over the years.  
     I might be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that most humans have a need for close human relationships, and even if we get very overwhelmed by some of them (like those of us who are introverts and need to refill our emotional bank accounts from time to time) we still need that human interaction.  In order to get that interaction we look for people who are typically like us enough that they don't drain us mentally (or physically) and we can stand to be around for more than a few minutes at a time.
     Children, when they are introverted like I was, tend to be seen as "shy" around other children.  Over the years I've realized that I was never shy, I actually craved to be around people.  But I wanted to be around different people.  These friends this day, this friend this day, this group the next, and I could handle it and I fed off of that need.  But just like an extrovert, if I had too many days by myself I would spiral into depression and self-pity and misery.  The only reason I knew that I was more introverted though (as my mom would tell everyone "she never used to be this shy") I was just as likely to sit and read a book by myself in school and I could deal with being completely alone and not reaching out to anyone.  I never got bored of activities by myself, so long as I got over the hump of depression that came from having plans cancelled on me.
     So, as children, we start looking for those people who we can depend on being around on a regular basis.  We find a neighbor we can knock on a door, or see out in their backyards.  We find school friends who will always be in the class the next day and maybe they'll come to your birthday party.  We start looking for the "best friend" because those are the people you can come to depend on being there when you most need them to get over that introverted streak, and they're also those people who will sit there reading in the quiet when you need that as well.  (Unless you're outgoing and you have a different set of criteria, but you're still looking for someone who fills your check boxes.)

     When we get older, obviously our lives get in the way, but we all look for that one person (or people) who is there for you all the time, you can call your "best friend" and in the teenage years it's most likely a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, whatever you want out of your life, they're there to fill it.  Sometimes you marry, sometimes you live together, sometimes you only talk to them online, whatever it might be, you need that emotional connection to a single person (or perhaps a few if you're really lucky) to just feel whole.

     Here's where things get tricky, and this is where the title comes in "the best friend equation" is that even after we find a lot of friends, we still think about one over everyone else.  And that person we call our "best friend" and it's usually the person you're married to, living with, etc etc.  But I think once you've been comfortable in that relationship for a long time your brain might still want another connection with someone else.  Someone you can talk to about all of the things you do with that person in your life.  After all, your husband/wife/partner/etc knows everything about you already.  They're always there experiencing the same things you do, so you don't need to tell them about what you did earlier that day while driving home.
     There's a weirdness to it, and this is why I'm bringing up the fact that even though I am happily married and I feel like my husband is indeed my best friend, I also sorta want a best friend who is a female in my life.  Someone I can talk to about girly things that might make my husband a bit uncomfortable.  Or maybe we don't need to talk about those things but sometimes I just want to share little quirks about my husband without sounding like I'm nagging about him, and for that I'd like someone (besides my mom, because that's even kind of embarrassing for me at times) to be that "best friend" as well.
     I've been this way for over thirty years, maybe longer (I'm not sure when I picked my first best friend, maybe when I was five?) and I doubt it will ever completely fade because I recognize this need and urge to have someone important in my life.

     The friends I have in my life though, even though they are all terrific and I love them all dearly, all have "best friends" of their own.  But I do feel like sometimes even they want me to be their best friend only, even as they call someone else their best friend.  I don't mind, and that's something I've had to realize about myself is that you can be friends with someone without being their only friend, and accept that they aren't telling you about their deepest, darkest secrets because someone else is getting to hear all of that - and it's OKAY.

     It's OKAY to not be someone's best friend.

     It's NOT OKAY for you to expect to be someone's best friend when you yourself consider someone else your best friend.  But it's a damn well hard thing to accomplish because you become super possessive of these friends because you love them and you want what's best for them.  And maybe you believe that YOU are what's best for them, and it's really hard to just let it go.

     And that's where the best friend equation fits in.  You most certainly can be a best friend to someone else but also not be their best friend.  You can be a really great friend to a bunch of people but when they go home at night they're not thinking about you.  You might be thinking about them non-stop (like most of us anxious types are... I still think about almost every person who called me a best friend, it's like a non-stop wheel of - what did I do wrong, why aren't we friends anymore???) but they don't have to be thinking about you.  Maybe they do, maybe they send you a message or text, maybe they send you a meme online, but the rest of the time they're busy thinking about other people.

     I thought about these things on the way home today because I have a couple of friends who were both trying to get me to work with them, and I'd love to work with either (I loved it even more when I got to work with both of them!  But we can't have everything all the time.)  And I thought about how I felt like I was betraying one by applying to one job, and then betraying the other when I didn't get that job and applied at the other one.  They both have their own sets of best friends so I've never gotten super duper close to either, but the thought crept into my head - would they feel betrayed, or sad because I worked with one and not the other?  Would they feel like I was less of a friend to them then to the other?  
     I don't know.  And then it occurred to me that this is the weirdest thing to be thinking about at forty years old.  By this age we all should be secure in our friendships enough to handle it, so why was I bothered by something that a ten year old would be obsessed over?

     Because we don't change.  We always want close relationships.

     And that's what I'm dealing with today as I cross my fingers I can get a job somewhere with someone before my birth control pills run out and I need health insurance again.

     I think I still have a long way to grow still.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 17 - Small Steps

     Shortly after I posted my last entry I received an email about a phone interview.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of it as it was the very first place I sent my resume to back in April, but it's also the last place that appears to still be hiring as the majority of the jobs I applied to have since been taken down.  I scheduled the appointment for this afternoon, the first opening I could get.
     Maybe it's my anxiety (I'm sure a large part of it) but I immediately felt they were pitying me, or perhaps humoring my friend who had told her boss about me multiple times until he finally said he'd look at my resume.  A week later I finally got the phone interview.  I was nervous the entire night after getting it scheduled, slept better the next day but was exhausted this morning.
     I hate having to schedule a meeting for the afternoon because it made the morning completely worthless to me (well, not completely, I did get some painting done which of course is now my side job) and when the time came for it, I had my notes in front of me, both phones (because I couldn't remember which number I'd given them) and finally had the first interview with the third place I'd actually heard back from.
     And after the half hour was over, I can't honestly tell you how it went.  Unlike my first place, I didn't hear back from them this evening for a face-to-face, but it is getting onto the 4th of July holiday, and he did mention I probably wouldn't hear right away... but it was how he reacted to every single answer I gave.  The canned response, over and over, "I love that answer... that's a great response..."  It felt (and it's possible he's not good at interviewing and it's also possible he wasn't actually listening, but I hope the typing on the other end was making notes and not responding to something completely different) sort of like I wasn't getting anywhere.

     Is it anxiety or depression that makes me feel this way? Am I just projecting these imaginations on these interviews?  Or am I right on the money?  I can harken back to the first interview back in April and how hopeful I was in almost getting that job, but I'd barely been looking for a few weeks, surely there would be a better option soon enough?  But then nothing for so long now until the second interview and I thought that had gone well enough too...but then that job didn't turn out either.  Now I'm on interview three and I just don't know.

     So, I'm taking little steps.  At least there's one last little light of hope, but depending on the next few weeks I'll probably have to start the process all over again.

    To address another thing in my life that I'm dealing with anxiety about is my painting crafting table.  It's a website too and I was hoping that by sharing it online on a regular basis I might get someone interested in something and buy something or anything actually... It's like when I was going to get married and everyone was so excited and promised they'd come celebrate with me and then we set up this huge party for all of these people...and no one showed.  So, it's like I'm setting up this big old party and I'm the only one celebrating.

     It's hard not to feel rejected isn't it?

     I keep trying to remind myself that a lot of my stock is related to Christmas and people just don't buy stuff until it gets closer...so, crossing my fingers?  I also had a failure this week with getting things up on Google (which mildly sucks after it seemed like things were going to work only to have them dragged down all of a sudden) but I'll keep trudging on.  I don't have the fan base that I used to have with some of my artwork.  Now I'm starting nearly from scratch.

     Then a bit of a blow to my feminism today.  So, obviously we're closely approaching the end of month three without a job, and I've been doing okay paying my own bills and helping with groceries and things with my savings.  That's why my savings exist - why I've pushed so hard over the years to have so much of it built up - forgoing vacations and fancy clothes or expensive trinkets (I have a lot of trinkets but they're usually less than $40 and I spend very little on things for myself) - so except when we go out to eat dinner, I don't expect my husband to buy anything for me.
     But then tonight at the craft store he whipped out his credit card and paid for my purchase.  I just didn't know what to do because I don't expect that of him, and I'm sure he didn't mean anything of it, but it was my purchase, for things I'm going to use... so it just felt like a bit of a punch in the gut.

     I'm making steps.  They're very small, but I'm trudging on.  I don't know what I'm doing since I have so much time booked up with other things - which I guess is good to keep me busy, but it's weird to feel so busy and not actually have a job that's keeping me busy.

    I just need to keep keeping on.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 16 - Finding More Purposes

    Skip forward a bit over a week from the last time I wrote here about my mental health, and I'm still having dreams about my old job.  I dream that I go in and am asked to help, to put something right again, and I do so very willingly as I'm needed, and it's about halfway through the dream that I realize, or rather, remember, that I no longer have that job and I just put it down and walk away.  Or sometimes I give the task to someone else (rather in a managerial way) and even in my dream I have to remind myself that I no longer have this job.  My purpose for so many years has gone, and I feel like I have no purpose.
     But, I shove on, and I put out those applications and I waited my turn for another purpose to come, because, maybe everyone has more than one purpose on this world.  God can't just give us a single purpose, He is too great for that, right?  I can't imagine making us in His image means that He gives us only a single purpose.  Some it's to work, be a wife/husband, mother/father, sister/brother, daughter/son, etc, and maybe for others it's to become famous or be a role-model or politician, or lawyer or judge or priest or some other thing.  And maybe you fulfil your purpose and maybe you screw it over royally but never know until you're standing at one of the gates (pearly or firey) and realize that you did good or fucked up.  But, you really don't know until that time, and if the people who don't believe in those things don't go anywhere, then I guess you'll never know because there's no heaven or hell waiting for you on the other side.  But it is what it is.
     So, me thinking about the depths of how many purposes I actually might have, leads me to think that Insurance is probably not one of them.  I applied to the first place and it just didn't fit with me, and then I applied with another (who, I'm told, I may still be under consideration with, even two months later, although it's rather hard to believe at this point), and then yet another (the one I told you about with the phone interview) I got a rather blunt letter saying that they had filled the position with someone else and that I didn't have what they were looking for.  'Nuff said, end of story, don't bother to apply for a different position.
     Trust me, it hurt.  But then I realized that just like I said last time, I didn't really want to work there and I guess Insurance really isn't my thang.

     But, what then, is my purpose?  I can go back to the very beginning, back to when I first could write, and I felt my purpose was to share the magic of unicorns and awesome stories and drawings with people.  My third grade self felt her purpose was to write books about unicorns and dragons and even though she had completely ripped off a story she had read to make this book her own (well, she did change a few things to make it unique, so it was her story now, right?) and Miss Williams was still the best 3rd Grade teacher a girl could ever have, encouraging her to write and then perhaps bring back stories to her younger students years later (and she did) to teach others about drawing and writing.

     That writing purpose was still strong when the 13 year old me learned how to type (slowly) on a typewriter she borrowed from her aunt in order to start her very first novel.  She wouldn't finish it until she became 17 year old me, but she plugged along at it for a very long time.  And not only that, wrote a bunch of other stories as well, and learned how to draw and paint, and painting was a really awesome thing.  And she painted on walls and she painted on doors and inside her closet and she painted on wood things and later on canvases, but she liked to paint, and her mom bought her ceramic things to paint and she got to paint at school and so painting and writing became her purpose.

     College me felt her hoped for purpose to write would actually mean being an author, but that didn't work out so well.  But college me also met a bunch of friends who taught her how to play games and paint miniatures and that was pretty cool for college me, so I worked really hard to paint up an army to use at my very first Origins and my friends and I never did play in a tournament, but we did play games together until they all moved away or stopped going to college together.

     After-College me learned to really like artwork and learned how to work retail and it was pretty cool, even if it was boring so she thought that maybe retail merchandising was my purpose.  Especially in art type situations and she still wrote and tried to re-write that book that she had finished at 17, but only got in a few chapters.  But she liked the retail world and really wanted to get into the framing world too because she liked being around art so much that she eventually got a job doing just that.

     Twenty-two year old me's purpose was to custom frame, but also draw manga, and paint.  Lots of painting was in order as she did a mural at the store and still painted at home and gave away paintings to her friends, and it was a lot of fun.  My purpose at that time was to make other's happy with her drawings and paintings and manga, and also, to a lesser extent, writing, because she had discovered fanfiction and had been writing that since her college years and it really made her friends happy when she wrote for them.
     But that was also around the time that she realized that might be the only reason her friends liked her and each time she would stop writing for her friends, those friends would go away.  And those friends would eventually disappear, every single time she stopped writing for them, and that made her sad on multiple occasions because it just kept happening... first with Highlander, and then with Trigun.

     Twenty-something me realized maybe her purpose might be as a wife, so when she married and settled down, she tried to be the best home-maker she could and budget-savvy and saved and scrimped at the retail job which wasn't as fun, but she still liked the framing purpose because that certainly seemed to make people happy.  And she wished she had never attempted to find a management purpose because that did not make her happy, and as she got older she wondered if maybe her purpose wasn't that at all but people kept telling her that maybe it was her purpose.

     Thirty-something me felt that everyone who told her that her purpose would be to run a store was full of bullshit and was miserable for literally years.  She couldn't make friends as a manager, couldn't write as a manager (she'll admit, she still felt her writing purpose was there since her manager used to leave her alone in the frame shop and she wrote things regularly when they had forgotten her) and couldn't really do much of anything except work and sleep and be a wife (and cat mom) and that was slowly taking the life out of her.  So...maybe the manager thing wasn't a good purpose?  But she knew that she did serve a purpose because people liked her and she knew the job and she was a good manager even if the woman above her made her purpose seem drab and worthless.

     But then thirty-eight something me discovered stories again.  She discovered painting again.  She discovered, of all things, Dungeons & Dragons, and then allowed her to be creative again.  It brought her friends again (to hell with that saying "managers shouldn't make friends with their staff") and she started writing and creating and painting those miniatures she'd felt her purpose had been as a college-her and she was still a wife, and she felt like all of those things were coming together nicely.

     She still....rather, I still, worry about my purpose as a dungeon master and whether or not I'll still be friends with these people if I ever stop my story, but it makes them happy and it makes me happy, and I'm a very big fan of being happy.  I know my few purposes at the moment are:
  • Painter
  • Writer
  • Dungeon Master
  • Friend
  • Wife
  • Cat-Mom
  • Daughter
  • Sister, Cousin, Niece
  • ????
     The problem that I have now, as I try to fulfill all of these purposes in my life, is to see if there's actually another one out there.  I used to think so before I was fired.  I used to think I'd be in retail my entire life and that would have been fine with me, but I don't think management was my purpose, and I think that's the reason I've always had such a tough time of it.  (Come to think of it, my first boss took months to promote me to assistant, dithering over a couple of us, and my last one did the exact same damn thing...which basically sums up my entire life with those two jobs, honestly.)  And this Insurance thing I keep trying to get into (come on, who doesn't want a 9-5 job with weekends off?) just doesn't seem to be working either.
     So am I just trying too hard to find the missing purpose?  Am I searching for something that just isn't there?  I really wish I lived in another country where healthcare actually helped people rather than hurting them, because I think all of those purposes above would be a lot less worrisome, not having to think about the fact that my birth control runs out in three months and if I don't get back on it I have no idea what might happen.  I'm 40-something me now and I really don't want to add "Mom" to the purpose list because it's hard enough being a cat-mom.

     I have a lot of thinking to do, a lot of painting, a lot of writing, and a lot of praying and working to do to find this last purpose.  And maybe it's not my very last purpose, I'm sure there will always be more.  But, as you can tell, the writing and the painting thing seem to be at least two purposes that are probably always going to stick.  So besides making people happy with them (and myself) on a rather small scale, is there a way to make these on a large scale where I can make life work for me?  I don't know.... but until another purpose rears its head, I guess that's all I've got.

     And maybe being one or two less purposes for awhile isn't such a bad thing.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 15 - Missing Purpose

     I changed the title of this series to "Focus on My Mental Health" as it doesn't really touch on mental health in general, but my own personal journey as I have gone from being a miserable human being in a job that was destroying my mental health - to a human being that is miserable from the inability to find a job that can bring me back to a healthy mental state once again.  I've been still doing the job of working on my stock for my craft booth, and now too my website, but the fact that I haven't actually sold anything means it's not an actual job yet.  If I had a following before this point, if someone had seen my paintings all of these years ago and said "you should sell these" and then started throwing money at me, maybe I could have already sold stuff by now.  So, it feels rather hollow, even though I had promised myself that I was merely starting on stocking the table first.

     My mental state is fairly low today, just as it has been since this last week.  I started off in this place of "I don't really want to get a job here, but I'll do it so I can have a job and maybe I'll like it eventually" a week ago today.  I'd just had a telephone interview that sounded really positive, except for a couple little hints that were dropped that sounded to me at the time like maybe I wouldn't hear right away because someone was out of the office.  But I was assured I'd hear by the end of the week.
     But I didn't hear by the end of the week.  And if I were in a better place, I think I would have called or emailed and said, "hey, what's the verdict?"  But when I start to open up that email to do so, I start to get anxious and remember that I really didn't want to work there.  I balance back and forth between feeling depressed that yet another job doesn't want me, but also feeling like it gives me a chance to find the right job.

     I know it's only been two months, but it feels like it's been so much longer.


    Took a quick break from writing and switched over to some more crafting instead.  To be completely honest with myself, and with whomever is actually reading this (the one or two people I notice have "viewed" this site from time to time) - I was really excited about my "business" when I started it a few weeks ago.  I've started pouring my time and effort into creating a profile, a website, an email address, a facebook page, and a store.  I started getting people interested in it, started getting likes and follows.  I started to get interest in things and that was pretty exciting for me.
     Then I got a "review" which was basically to say "copied but cute things" (to paraphrase) and even though someone was nice enough to recommend my page to someone else, the way they did it was kind of discouraging.  I pressed forward, told myself, that yes they are a bit "copied" but only in that when it starts getting harder to find things like it from China for this cheap (what with the tariffs) people will start buying things from me... right?  And maybe the kitschy retro stuff will be popular?
     But the review has stuck with me, and I guess in a way that's started to push me to start doing other unique things or at least learning new painting techniques.  But in the back of my mind I keep thinking "why would anyone want to buy something from me?  What makes these things unique?"

My answer is - they aren't.  There isn't a reason.  That's why they haven't bought anything yet.

     So, that's the reason why I'm depressed about this business endeavor.  But it's all I've got.  I keep telling myself that I need to work on my job applications, update my resume, do something to get a new job.  But then I pull up those job listings and tears spring to my eyes and this crushing anxiety just hits me.  I stare at the screen, I scroll the listings for a minute, then I close the browser because I can't look at it anymore.
     And I get these emails from the state because I had applied for unemployment, but I haven't gotten a dime and have absolutely no idea if I'm even going to get anything, so it feels rather worthless to be filling out the paperwork for no reason.

     If I had any leads at all, then maybe I'd feel better.  But instead, I sit here with no purpose, wondering why I'm here.  I'm miserable as the stupid neighbors bounce balls non-stop, drive stupid mini-bikes up and down the block for HOURS and I can't work in my garden because I can't have any fucking peace and quiet here.
      And I can't leave because I have no jobs to get away from it.

I just want to cry.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Focus on My Mental Health - pt. 14 - An Hour to Forty

     I have just a little over an hour before the day of my fortieth birthday.  Officially it was around 7:35pm, so I guess I have over twelve hours before I would be "officially" forty years old, but it doesn't really matter.  What matters is that in an hour and a few minutes, it will be June 8.  I will be a whole year older, and I'm just that bit further away from where I thought I'd be at this age.
     Not only have I reached this milestone, I also feel more worthless than ever this evening. I woke up feeling fairly good, got going and made some awesome blueberry pancakes, coffee, and then watched my email inbox.
     I had a phone interview on Monday morning.  She said, "you will definitely hear from us by the end of the week to set up an in-person interview...after I review it with the right people."  My friend who also interviewed for this company had heard back from them to set up an in-person interview within a day, and a week later she had the interview and a day later, a job.  I have heard absolutely nothing.  Four days, not a thing.
     What is wrong with me?  I thought I did a good job, sure, I didn't ask a ton of questions because I really thought that maybe they'd be honest with me and say, 'oh you aren't what we're looking for in this particular job but if you want to apply for another one....'  But not even that.  I feel worthless.  I feel like everything that I've done up until this point has lead up to this fortieth year and I have absolutely nothing to show for it.
     I don't have the ambition to go for another management job and even if I were to get one I think it would slowly kill my soul.  And apparently I can't find a job in another field, even a stinkin' part time one - and now I'm blaming myself for not doing my second round of interviews at the first place because I feel like that bridge is gone and why did I do that?  Why didn't I just take the damn job in the first place?  Why did I think I was better than $12/hr and having to deal with paying for parking forever??
     And no, I haven't been able to get unemployment and no one has bothered to notify me why - or even just a "nope, you can't get it, sorry."  NOPE.  Not a word.  Not a word from anyone.

     My mom is here this weekend and I slogged through the zoo thinking that maybe that would be enjoyable but because we had like three and a half hours we couldn't do it slowly and we didn't get to see everything and I really couldn't afford it, but we went anyway.

      And for a few minutes here and there I was happy.  I love the flying foxes...  Don't you just want to boop that snoot?  These things, without me realizing it, were what inspired the whatchers of my childhood.  Back when I was thirteen and having a hard time in my life, I had a lot of friends but I was also miserable when they were away - I think I realize now that while they were with me I felt good because I wasn't inside my own head, but when they left I was back there with a vengeance and life now is sort of the same in that regard - I came up with this invisible friend "Blacky" and he was basically a flying black fox except my critters had slightly exaggerated ears and a long fluffy fox tail too.  But, anyway, for those bits of time at the zoo yesterday when I took these photos, I realized that I was at piece, and I probably could have spent all of my time there just watching them.
     But then I was also miserable because I realized I hadn't received any messages and I'm just getting my business going and haven't sold anything (but I feel I need to get a lot more made and need to do more and that wasn't happening while I was wandering the zoo, so of course that made me feel worse).  And also no one was asking me a damn thing about the interview - had I heard anything?  What was I feeling about all of this?  No one had asked how I was holding up.  Now, a different friend had asked but honestly, I got no response at all back, so it was like...I guess, why ask at all if you don't feel like responding?  Some times all you want is a kind reply, some kind of recognition that you're going through a real hard time in your life and yes, we understand, it sucks.
     We got back from the zoo and I was miserable listening to the rotten children next door bouncing basketballs all night long.  I just wanted to go strangle them, but before 11:30 they were finally done.  But then I thought I'd make an online purchase to cheer me up but that only made me feel more miserable too because I have no money coming in and suddenly my entire life it dependent upon someone else and slowly my savings is starting to dwindle because of some damn woman wanting to 'set an example' with me or some stupid thing and I'm just sad all the time now because I don't know whether I should be putting all of my focus on this new project I'm doing or whether it's completely a fool's errand and I'm just going to drown myself in it.

     So, here I am, less then 45 minutes away from my birthday and realizing that all of the other years I've had these big plans for my birthday, but I'm also kind of stuck with only doing things that my mom can manage because the zoo nearly dropped her a few times and we were only walking for a few hours!  So my idea of going down to Hocking Hills is off, it was bad the last time we took her but it would be worse now if she was huffing after only a half hour at the zoo...and resting every fifteen minutes after that.  I really feel like I can't afford to do anything else and feel guilty even asking...  In the past we've done all sorts of things and every year I want to go somewhere I've never been before and see something I've never seen to make my birthday a remarkable one, one that I would remember.
     But this year it feels fake and sad.  And I was really waiting to get that email saying "here, schedule your in-person interview next week" but didn't get that so after waiting with anticipation and knowing I won't get anything the next two days, and oh yeah, my other plans for the weekend have already fallen through...I just feel lost.

     I tried to make up for some of it tonight by a really awesome D&D game and a pizza party and DQ ice cream cake too...but that somehow just felt off too, but probably because most of the day was a lot of hurry up and wait and I had that shadow of an interview that just won't be over me.  And no one asked...  So it feels like I'm suffering by myself.
     Then my husband found out my cat has been peeing on things in the basement again and it was probably a combination of him and I moving things so may have destroyed hundreds of dollars of items and I'm staying up to wait for the washer to finish in hopes that we can save the bags they came in... which will hopefully salvage it all... But he's miserable and found it in the middle of the game and I couldn't drop everything I was doing because there were a bunch of people over.  So he was distracted and I was distracted and trying to help because I feel miserable like it was my fault but also just wish I could get rid of this cat that every time we leave alone for awhile we start to feel bad for him but then he makes us get angry again too.

     I don't know what to do.  I think the kids have finally stopped dribbling the basketballs.  The washer sounds like it may be on its last spin or so.  I have a half hour left.  I wish I had an answer to all of this.  I wish I could say that I could just put on a happy face and move on.  I also wish I knew if I really had to apply for jobs twice a week for unemployment because it certainly doesn't feel like I'm doing any of it for anything...  THEY screwed ME over.  I didn't do anything on purpose - I worked there for 16 years!!  And now in almost two full months now I can't find a job, can't get on unemployment, and I just don't know what to do.  And here I am... 40 (or rather almost) and I feel like a lost teenager leaving High School back in 1997 with no plans for the future, no job, no colleges lined up because I have no goals in life...and I just want to make things better again.  I want them all to go back to the way they were when everything was RIGHT.  And nothing's right.

Why isn't anything right?


I really need to sleep...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Glenhaven's Son Enirich - Part 2 (a short story)

      The summer heat bore down on the caravan as it traveled up the Great road to Glenhaven.  The bugs and the humidity were hardly kept at bay by the taught canvas covers over the wagons.  The speed that the horses took the heavily rutted roads barely created enough breeze to cool the sweat from their faces.  Miserable and nervous, the drivers and guards kept a close eye upon the densely packed trees of the Black Oak Forest, looking for bandits.  The woods had been full of them in the summer, but for some reason, it was oddly quiet.
     Menirel, the leader of the caravan, looked at the miserable group.  The wagons were packed full of items ordered for the small town to the north.  There were six wagons this time around, and additional guards were ordered, besides the AWOL solider that sat in the second wagon, looking very beaten up after his journey back to Waterfordshire.  The young man had asked Menirel to join the caravan, and even though the two stars on his uniform said he was in the middle of training, he had no discharge papers and seemed distraught.  Feeling for the young man who seemed vaguely familiar, but was so beaten and bedraggled that Menirel couldn't place his name, he allowed the young man to ride along.
     Enirich had managed to get back to town after his failed attempt to bring the murderers to justice, searched up the caravan, and hadn't said a word since he found a place on the second wagon.  His thoughts were scrambled and miserable.  His first thoughts once the rage and need for revenge had waned, was that he should go home, see that his parents were properly buried, and that he needed to figure out where to go next.  It would be difficult as he knew that Glenhaven believed he had been killed along with his parents, according to the report that had returned from the city.
      The spring rains had ceased and the roads needed repair, and Menirel was surprised that there didn't appear to be any work done on them yet.  The wagons bounced around and they eventually made their way back to the bridge which had washed out on the way in.  The bridge was in the middle of repairs, and a couple of men were at the side of the road having lunch, wiping their brows with dirty rags.  "Ho there, is the bridge in order yet?"
     Standing up, one of the men wave to Menirel, "Is it that time already?  Just take it easy, one wagon at a time.  The railing on the right is still loose so you may want to walk them over."  He moves over to the side of the bridge as the drivers each get down, taking the reins of the horses on each wagon and slowly the six wagons make it across.  The men working on the bridge don't see the miserable solider in the second wagon as he sits in the back with his head bowed.
     Things looked different when they arrived in the city.  The statue of Chauntea had been uncovered once again, and things looked fairly peaceful, but the normally friendly citizens of the city looked uneasy as the caravan made its way through the city to the park where they would make camp for the week.  As they pulled in to the small round about at the north side of the city, Menirel noticed there were quite a few new graves in the graveyard by the church.  The fresh plots were just starting to grow the first few blades of grass, but otherwise still looked new.  The church was wide open this day, and the Father was working at pruning the bushes near the front.
     "Welcome to Glenhaven, folks!  If you're a guard, please come and receive your payment, otherwise we'll start setup closer to sundown.  We'll be here for six days, so let me know if you're planning on taking the trip back!"  Menirel stepped down and after pulling his gold from under the wagon seat, he started handing out payments.  The young solider did not come to collect, but rather stumbled off back down the street.  He shrugged, and returned to the business as hand.
     Enirich gazed around him at the familiar, yet unfamiliar streets.  Things looked like they always had, but he had fully planned never to return here.  He didn't want to be a disappointment to his father.  He had been a weak child and even though he had left to get stronger, he had found a place in Waterfordshire.  They probably wouldn't take him back there either, he mused, now that he had caused so much stir and had gotten some good men killed.  Could he even find a place to be now?
     The Stablemaster Gantz glanced his way briefly as he lead a horse out of the stable down toward the parked caravan, but he didn't say anything if he recognized Enirich.  So the young man moved on, saw the young Maribel and stablehand Matthew walking hand in hand down the street, turning into the General store.  No one seemed to pay him any mind.  Maybe he was a ghost.  Maybe he was already dead.
     His home of many years was boarded up.  Enirich stared at it with blank eyes, the home of his parents was closed off and no longer welcoming as it had been for his entire childhood.  He walked around it, trying the back door, then pulling out the key from a hidden spot under the back porch, he let himself in.
     Things had been disturbed.  Someone had been in here, had searched the place, but it didn't seem like things were missing, just messy.  But there were no signs of his parents, no signs of anything left behind.  He wandered upstairs to his old bedroom.  The room was almost like an oven since it had not been opened up for the summer.  There was evidence that someone had been living there since he had left.  Enirich scratched his scraggly beard and looked around.  There was a journal sitting on the desk, and as he flipped through it realized that it looked strikingly similar to his own handwriting, but he had not been here and had never seen this journal before.
     Opening up the window above the desk, a slight breeze came through, and the light from the setting sun shown down upon the bed.  Enirich sat down with the journal in his lap and started to flip through this journal "he" had written, but had never seen before.  As he flipped, the sun moved across the bed.  Details were surprisingly thorough, and it talked about "his" life in the village over the past year.  Someone who apparently looked like him had impersonated him and had convinced his parents to do horrible things and join a cult!  How could they?  Hadn't they always worshipped Chauntea, the goddess of the harvest?  How could they have suddenly turned their back upon her?
     Enirich continued to read, learning about how he had tried to woo the young Maribel, his own cousin, to try to marry her until she had seen his true form...true form?  And then he had tried to kill Maribel, but when that didn't work, he was forced to convince the town that she needed to be sacrificed to the gods of the darkness.... the Under Dark.
     Shifting, Enirich realized that the sun was already setting by now, and he hurried to light a candle on the night stand to continue reading.  The journal detailed the attempted poisoning of Maribel, of the new adventurers who had appeared and had helped Caspian heal her.  Of the plot to sacrifice her, of the raising of the cockatrice and the basilisk.  His parents helped in raising these beasts that "he" had brought with him?  How?  Why?  He shook his head and continued reading.
     The adventurers had left town, and "he" was excited that his plans were working.  Once Maribel was out of the way, "he" would kill his uncle and take over the city and with the help of Gantz, take over the mine.  The mine?  Why would he want a defunct mine?
     "Oh..."  Suddenly a conversation he had in Waterfordshire had come to mind.  The first night in a new city, he had just joined the school to become a solider and was celebrating.  A man had bought him a few drinks after he had started to talk about the riches in the mine.  His father had always told him that it was a direct entrance to the Under Dark and had been the hiding place for vast riches.  When he got drunk, he had told this stranger all of this, and even though he didn't really believe in it, he knew that his father had wanted the secrets to the mine and had tried to get him to marry Maribel himself in order to get the secrets.  Enirich had told the man that he wasn't going back there and waved the letter that he was going to send the next day telling his parents he wasn't coming back.  He didn't want to see the disappointment in their eyes ever again.
     The stranger said he was headed that way and had offered to take the letter...  And because he was drunk, Enirich had agreed and had forgotten it in his hangover the next day.  But now, as he read this, he realized that this man was the man who had impersonated him.  He had somehow convinced his parents to follow him, and as Enirich flipped through the book, the letter he himself had written, fell out.  Unopened.
     For a long time, he watched the flame of the candle flicker along the walls of his old bedroom.  His parents were dead.  They had been convinced by a stranger to do terrible things.  The city had turned in on itself.  And everyone had thought it had been HIM.
     A noise downstairs startled him, and Enirich hurried to blow out the candle, heart pounding.  Something was shuffling around on the first floor.  He went down to the floor and slowly crawled over to the top of the stairs and peered down.  A small figure was going through the house, turning things over, looking for something.  Enirich pulled his dagger and slowly crept down the stairs.
     The figure didn't see him as he crept to the bottom stair.  It was preoccupied with something on the far side of the room, and Enirich, crouching, started to stalk toward the figure as he had been trained.  He had almost made it up to the four foot figure, when suddenly a candle flared to life and it turned, face to face.
     "Ahh!"  A shriek came out of the figure, and it scrambled back and the candle flickered out.  "Don't hurt me, I'm sorry!  I wasn't doing anything, honest!"
     Enirich dropped his dagger and backed up.  "Who are you, why are you in here?"
     "I...well, I was told that..."  The voice was feminine and wispy, "I was told to clean this place up since the boy was coming back..."
     "The...boy?"  Enirich put his dagger back in his sheath, feeling around for the candle that had been dropped.  After a moment or two of fumbling, he managed to light it, and looked in the eyes of the small figure.  "Bee?"
     A female gnome looked up at him, blinked, "Enirich?  Is that really you?"
     Enirich took a breath and let it out, slumping to the floor.  "...Caspian knew I was coming back, did he?"
     "Yeah, although I guess his timing was a bit off."  Ellabee got to her feet and her head was just a bit above his sitting.  She brushed herself off and pulled over a pillow that had been thrown to the floor at some point and sat down on it.  "I could hardly believe that you were still alive, we all thought you were dead.  But then an hour ago the old man says, 'he's on his way, go get his house cleaned up.'  I hate how he knows these things but that's a wizard for you."
     "Did he say who or what that thing was that pretended to be me?"  Enirich saw a surprised expression come over her face and he scrambled to explain, "I found a journal upstairs.  It was written in my handwriting but I didn't write it... said something about his 'true form'.  I'm so confused, my parents are dead and I thought I knew who was to blame but now I just don't know..."
     Ellabee nodded, "It was a doppleganger.  Not many people know that though.  My theory was that he had used some kind of magic to convince them, but there wasn't any magic on them when they died, so whatever they did at the end, they did of their own accord."  She reached out a small hand and set it on Enirich's knee.  "I'm sorry that they're gone, but they were bad people when they died.  They tried to kill those adventurers and so they were killed."
     "So, I have no one.  No where to go..."
     The gnome sighed, pulling back her hand and reaching into a small bag at herself.  "Here, Caspian told me to give you this."  Handing him a scroll, Ellabee closed her bag once again.  "It's important that you know there's a war coming.  I'm sure you had an idea from your training in Waterfordshire, but this little town is going to be the first line of defense and we don't have a Chief anymore.  Your father had known about it.  The Orcs to the north have joined forces with the Underground folk.  It's only a matter of time now."
     Enirich pulled open the scroll.

     Young Enirich,
I know this has been a difficult time for you, but you will need to forget your revenge for now and work on getting an army ready.  Our city has very little time to prepare before it is slaughtered by the oncoming armies.  Your training will help in this matter, and I shall help you take back your place in this town.  Please come to see me when you are ready to undertake this great task.

     "War?  How can I prepare for war?  This is a tiny town!  I have only been training for a few years!"  Enirich let the scroll drop to the floor.  "I'm worthless!  I couldn't even protect my family, how can I be depended upon to save an entire village?"
     Ellabee shook her head, "I don't know, but Caspian believes in you.  I know he's always been rather mysterious, but he knows the future and the past, and if he says it's coming, it's coming."  She stook up from her pillow and straightened her tunic.  "Your uncle the mayor has been keeping the village guard trained for the past few months, but he's struggling with the balance of that and trying to get the defenses rebuilt.  Maribel shows no interest in following in his footsteps.  She has gotten pregnant with Matthew's child and they plan to be married in the fall, so he's been pulled in multiple directions.  Talk to Caspian, he will help you smooth things out with your uncle."
     With that, she set up a fallen chair and headed toward the back door.  "I'll leave you to get some rest, Enirich.  Come see us tomorrow.  We have much work to do."  And then Ellabee left without another word to the young man as he sat looking at the scroll he had dropped.

     The next day after a restless night, Enirich set out before sunrise to Caspian's shop.  The wizard was standing in the doorway with a steaming mug of coffee which he handed to the young man.  "Come in, I was waiting for you, we have much work to do."