Archive for Moving On

Blerg?

Well, this is embarrassing. After all the hullabaloo I made about posting stuff, I almost shrugged off making a post today. The only thought I had this morning was a rather childlike “I don’t wanna.” It’s a thought I’ve been having a lot lately, between applications, doing my taxes, and slowly fixing up the house.

God, growing up sucks. You think it’s going to be all staying up late and bacon whenever you want it, but it turns out to be bills and the slow, inexorable hands of mortality and death haunting your every waking thought.

Am I right?

Though, I am feeling better day by day. I’m reading again, and it’s slowly bringing back the creative parts of me that got burnt out over the last six months. Hell, two days ago my friend Kevin and I tried to write a rock opera. We even made it through half a song, a cigar, and two whiskeys before we got bored.

So, slowly getting back to baseline. That’s the cool thing about us humans. Give us three weeks, and we can get used to just about anything.

-Austin

Gettin’ Back on Track

Alright, seriously guys. You need to get back on the wagon, because now your laziness is affecting me. I’m skipping posts because I am infected with your lazy. Fix it.

See, I’m doing it. We can muddle through, even when we have nothing to write. Except I kind of do.

I’m looking for a job, at a snail’s pace. I should be going faster, given how much I need any kind of income right now. But I’m stuck. Resigning from that last job shook me more than I thought. Once the dreams about my grandma died down, the dreams about the ranch came back. Horrible dreams where I’m blamed for constant streams of failures I am powerless to prevent. Gee, I wonder where that comes from.

Shows how selfish I am, though. The second I get any kind of closure from the death of a loved one, I go right back to feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’m dealing with that one like a champion, either.

You ever feel like you need to vent, but you don’t know what or how? That’s where I am right now. Trying to piece together the last three months, while moving forward like a healthy human being.

 

‘Till We Meet Again

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a couple weeks. Dan did it, then Clark did it, then I got infected by it. It’s no excuse, but it’s what I got.

To be fair, it’s been a rough couple weeks. Between the pity party I’ve been throwing myself and the moving into what was once my grandma’s house, I’ve been running on an emotional empty. A few friends have been helping me move stuff, though. It’s always powerful to see who comes through in a pinch.

My grandma is fading fast. Last time I saw her she tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come out. She still figured out how to say “I love you.”

While I was cleaning I found a gift she left for me. It was a necklace, with two pieces. A cross and a dog tag with the serenity prayer on it. on the back of the dog tag it reads: “Love you always. Till we meet again -Nana.” That was rough. It was also beautiful.

I don’t know if we will. Meet again, I mean. I don’t think I believe in that any more. But she believes in it. Maybe she can hope for the both of us. Maybe that’s enough.

-Austin

Some Kind of Medicine

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, and it still stings. Fiercely, if I’m being honest. Most of my time and mental energy is spent staving off the unhealthy. This is on top of my grandma’s failing health, car trouble, money trouble, and who knows what else. Understandably, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

But let it never be said I can’t take my own medicine. I’ve worked with people who were in situations as crappy as the one I’m in now. Crappier, even. I have a new appreciation for what they went through.

There’s something I used to tell my clients who were down, out, and unemployed. Coming back from something big isn’t something that happens. It’s something you do. It’s a habit you create. Right now, the dark thoughts and the listlessness, those are the things I have to fight. Not letting them get a foothold is a habit I’ve used before, and will use again. It’s a bigger job than I thought it would be.

That said, I’m taking a couple weeks, before I start looking for work again. I think I’ve earned that much simplicity. It might be hypocritical, it might be spot-on. I’m not sure.

I’m trying to stay busy, at least in spurts. Dan and I have big things coming out this week. In fact, there are going to be a few announcements this week explaining that better. And it’s going to be something We’re very proud of.

So there’s a silver lining at least. Stay tuned.

-Austin

The Addendum

So, I resigned from my job.

We talked it over, my boss, HR, and me. We agreed that this job wasn’t the best fit for me, and no amount of wanting would change that.

Whatever opportunities there were for me there dried up. They wouldn’t move me into something different until I mastered the job I had. Which makes sense, but it wasn’t an option for me anymore.

My first time working with kids, my first time in a milieu, and my first time in care-taking. No small wonder I wasn’t cutting it.

I’m trying to tell myself it’s not a failure, that it’s a learning experience. I’m also trying to tell myself that knowing my limits is just as important as knowing my strengths. And that in this line of work, a job that only lasts a couple months isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

All that said, I tried as hard as I could, and it wasn’t enough. That’s gonna sting for a while.

Now comes the hard part. Moving on. Making peace with the way things are. Making a fresh start, maybe trying to grow a beard. Finding opportunities in this town. Again.

The Meeting

God, December was a terrible month. So terrible, in fact, it rolled over into January. Here’s the crisis du jour.

Saturday, my boss calls me in to her office. She tells me that I’m not as far along as I should be in my job growth. I’m a headache for some of the other staff. She then tells me she, HR, and I have a meeting on Monday, which is now today. Which is, at press time, a couple hours from now. She wouldn’t tell me what the meeting is about, but she was fairly insistent it wasn’t about being fired.

So, boom. Another bomb dropped on whatever zen I’m trying to cultivate.

At first, I was pretty shook. When anyone is trying their hardest and gets told it’s not good enough, it hurts. And with as much as I struggled with confidence and competence in the past, this opened up some old wounds.

And then I started thinking. I worked my ass off for grad school. I spent time, money, and effort pushing limits past what I thought I could do. Because of that, I can say I am good at what I do. It’s just that what I do isn’t what my job is right now. My job right now is care-taking. I took it because they promised me that after a couple months, I could move into a job where I know I can do good.

I kept at it this long because for all their faults and my headaches, I do care about the kids at the ranch. I want to help them, and I want to learn how to help other kids in their position. The management has made it clear that I can’t do that where I’m at now, and I agree.

Now comes the hard part. I have a ticking clock on getting my license to be a therapist. On top of being told I can’t stand still where I’m at now, despite promises they made when they hired me. So, at this meeting today, I’m going to have a lot to talk about.

Stay tuned, I’ll do an addendum post to tell you how it went.

This Was a Triumph

One year ago, Dan doubled down on dreaming big, Austin considered coping mechanisms, and I promised myself a year of hardship.

Today? Dan is declaring the death of his childhood, Austin is watching a loved one fade away, and my year has been overwhelmingly difficult.

Mission accomplished?

I think so.

All cynicism aside, this year has been a massive turning point for the writers of Gold in Them Hills. Dan made huge steps towards publishing his work, Austin helped dozens of kids find a sense of stability, and I completely abandoned my comfort zone on a quest for perspective.

Amid the paralyzing anxiety, forced deadlines, longing for companionship, inability to find my dream job, roller coaster of emotions, and utter confusion, I’ve managed to come out of 2014 with more passion and drive than ever before. Bigger things are coming, and this time I’m going to ride the wave instead of being pummeled by it.

There’s a fire in my heart, and it’s not going anywhere. I have a few announcements in the pipeline for 2015, and I’m sharpening my skills and hitting my knees for the next season of life.

So here’s to 2015. May you all learn from your mistakes, remember the good times, and be brave enough to keep trying when the times are tough.

– Clark

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Who says you can’t go home?

As you all know, Austin’s Grandma is very sick. What you may not know, is that I grew up down the street from her. In fact, I met Austin (almost 18 years ago) because he used to go to her house every day after school.

I have many memories at Nanna’s house. Swimming in her pool in the summer time was one of the best. I felt like the member of a special club, and my best friend and I were the presidents of the board. No one got in without Nanna’s say so. And for a few short summers, we played like mad geniuses let lose on the world.

I would walk my dog, Buster, by Nanna’s house. Even if Austin wasn’t there, she would always wave at me. And even though Nanna had choice words about my parents homeschooling me, she always welcomed me into her home.

Nanna isn’t doing well. And on Christmas Day, my dog Buster, died.

My childhood had been over in my mind, but it truly ended in my heart this Christmas. Family and friends have moved away or passed on. My home town has changed dramatically. And that which remains doesn’t mean the same.

I dug a grave with my dad. Austin had to say goodbye to Nanna. Clark is missing Christmas for the first time in his life.

Childhood is over, and I may go on morning it for a good long while.

I pray for bright New Year, as the old one goes out with much pain.

-DC

Nana’s Last Christmas

God, I’ve hit the hat trick for late night updates. It should be a wake-up call. This time though, I have a pretty good excuse.

My grandma has been sick and getting sicker this whole month. Memory trouble. When it started, she was remembering things that didn’t happen. Turns out, a string of tumors in her brain is slowly squeezing the life out of her. The breast cancer, it seems, has had the last laugh.

I didn’t tell anyone. Even the other guys at the blog. When they read this tomorrow, or maybe the day after, it’ll be the first time they hear (surprise!). I always isolate to process. It’s a bad habit of mine. Besides, I reasoned, it’s Dan’s first Christmas with his wife, and he doesn’t need a Debbie Downer eating up all his time and attention. Truth is, I’m afraid telling people will make the whole thing real.

I’ve been numb, more than anything. With the stress of the new job, the 5 stages of grief have been slow in arriving. I might still be in denial. Or maybe the early stages of compassion fatigue are forming a soft pillowy callous around the emotions.

I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas. At the beginning of the month I got her a glass rose. It has a glass butterfly on it. It’s gaudy, it’s kitsch, and she’ll love it. But I usually try to get someone something long-term when I go shopping for presents. That seems selfish now, that her possessions will soon return to me.

She’s in hospice now, on medication that is somewhat successful in bringing down the swelling in her brain. She still comes and goes, from what I hear. My work schedule is keeping me from visiting her. I’ll never forgive myself if it keeps me from seeing her before she goes.

We’re trying to give her one last Christmas at our house. She wanted it at hers, but she isn’t doing well enough to manage all the stairs there. That’s what hurts the most.

I ended up getting her chocolate. The best I could find on short notice. It seemed fitting, like a sugary mandala. Beautiful and temporary. Even someone who can’t remember the name of the gift-giver can remember a gift like chocolate. Even if it’s just for a little while.

-Austin