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I jumped into this project at a pretty busy time in my life, so there will probably be a lot of journal-entry type things here for awhile, since I actually have stuff going on worth writing about. Later I may have time to get creative. I'm graduating next week, and I'm negotiating about a job in California. As sick as I am of this town, it is the only place I've ever lived, and it's a scary thought to leave behind my friends and family and move 2,500 miles away. But I guess the unknown is what makes life exciting.
"An insincere friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but a false friend will wound your soul." It seems that I've had more than my fair share of false friends. I wish I could figure out why; then maybe I could do something about it. Maybe I'm naïve and overly optimistic: I give my love and friendship freely to whoever shows a hint of reciprocating. Charming? More likely just pathetic. Whatever the cause, I'm not sure how many more wounds my soul can survive. And then what will I be?
I finally got around to calling property managers in Barstow today. Rent and utilities turned out to be less than I had thought. So that's good, but then again it might just mean they won't be willing to pay me very much. But as I keep telling myself, no matter what happens, it will be one hell of an adventure. And that's what I'm always searching for. I'm still not happy about the military base part, but since I've already decided to take the job (if offered) in spite of it, I suppose I ought to just get over it.
I got the job. Hot damn, I'm moving to California. From Lake Erie straight to the middle of the Mojave Desert. In not quite three weeks. I've been thinking about this for so long with nothing happening that it almost ceased to make an impression on my consciousness. But now it's suddenly real. There's so much to do, so many people to straighten out relationships with and say goodbye to, and so little time. I have to fit my entire life in little cardboard boxes, put them in a trailer, and drive off into the sunset. I hope I'm ready.
A little calmer today. I really am a lucky person. I can have record streaks of bad days, but I seem to get breaks in just the right places. I sent out my resume all over, got one response, and they ended up hiring me. Immediately after graduation. They're paying me a fair amount more than I asked for, plus my relocation expenses. On the other hand, they decided that a formal interview wasn't necessary. Nor did they ask for references. Something in the back of my mind wonders just how desperate they were to fill this position, and why.
I spent most of the day today starting to clean out my cube. I can't help but be amazed at the amount of stuff I've accumulated. Books, bottles, pop cans, calendars, file folders, posters, poems, coffee cups, writing utensils, CDs, stickers, magnets, photographs, flowers, 7 colors of post-its, and a soccer ball. Most of it I'm taking home or throwing away, but some – like the poems – I think I'll leave for whoever inherits my space. I've moved several times while I've been here, and I always enjoyed discovering forgotten fragments of the previous occupants' lives. Like memories in my hand.
Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. I'm trying to enjoy the rain, to appreciate it, because I won't be seeing much of it in the future. Somehow, though, it just seems dreary. This building has an iron roof, and when it rains, it makes a gentle swooshing noise. Combined with the drone of the air conditioning, it's almost enough to lull me to sleep. Oh, but now it's begun to hail. Stampede on the roof, little kamikazes at my window. Suddenly I'm wide-awake and riveted by the chaos in flux outside. Ah, yes, I love the rain.
I graduated today. As much as I hate to admit it, I was feeling pretty proud for a while there. Bachelor of Science in biology – cum laude. I suppose I had the top of the class mentality left over from high school. Then I saw all the people with their higher honor cords and medallions, and all the masters and doctoral candidates, and I realized that I'm actually rather low on the food chain. All that work, and I've hardly accomplished anything. Will I ever be among the best in the real world? Or can I be happy being mediocre?
Sunrise. The peace and quiet of morning. The slow warming of the day. Sunlight flashing off of ripples in the river. The sweet yet subtle scent of lilac and honeysuckle. Leaves and flowers brushing your shoulders on an overgrown trail or sidewalk. Beautiful blackbirds, gold finches, and cardinals singing. The cool shade of forest. A fragrant carpet of damp dirt, old pine needles, and last year's leaves. Water. The exquisite pleasure of lying stretched out on the ground. Self-made wind on your face. The soft air and pale spectrum of evening. Sunset. Making it home. Now go ride your bike.
I am sunburned. I am sore. Every time I crouch down to pick up the magnets after a round of magnet toss (invented by us interns), my knees creak audibly. Before yesterday, it had been 2 weeks since I rode, owing mostly to crappy weather, but I put in a good 45 miles. I was determined to ride to work, 17 miles away, and once I got out there near the park I couldn't resist riding some actual trails. It was such a perfect day. I knew I would pay for it, and I am. It was so worth it.
Carol and Sherry are taking Corinne and I out for lunch today to celebrate graduation. My first thought, after “that’s nice of them,” was that it would be weird to go out socially with my bosses. But then I realized that between Christmas parties, retirement parties, Friday breakfasts, and wedding showers that I was expected to attend, I have gotten pretty comfortable with my co-workers. It’s kind of strange, I didn’t choose them to be friends with… we just happened to work in the same building. Yet here we are, going out for lunch. And I know I’ll have fun.
I went to a get-together with my friends last night. People that I’ve been in school with for the past four years. Struggled through o-chem and cell biology with. Socialized with at “the group” practically every day. We went to Colorado together. We were the best of friends. This past year though, we haven’t been nearly so close; in fact I’ve hardly even seen them. I thought that last night, since school’s over and everyone’s less stressed, we would have fun again. But it was kind of awkward. Maybe it’s good that I’m leaving, if it has to end anyway.
I don’t know what to write today. It’s too early for writer’s block. So I’ll write about not knowing what to write… There’s so much stuff crashing around in my head, all of which is too complicated to do justice to in 100 words. Besides, most of it makes me angry or depressed and I just don’t have the energy to go into it right now. I feel like I’m in limbo: effectively finished with this job and this city – this life, really – but I’ve not yet begun the next. I’m not quite sure what to do in the meantime.
Today is my last day of work. What that translates into, naturally, is that I'm not doing any work. Everyone has been so nice to me the past few days too. Of course they were never mean to me or anything, but they've been much friendlier than usual lately. It almost makes me not want to leave. But even if I wanted to, I couldn't stay at this job forever. And I'm fairly optimistic that there are bigger and better things ahead. It's strange though; one more group of people that have passed quietly in and out of my life.
I'm sorry that I left you with your questions all alone.
But I was too happy driving and too angry to drive home.
I was thinking about the easy courage of my distant friends.
They said I could let this bridge wash out and never make amends.
Can I blow this small town, make a big sound,
like the star of a film noir postcard?
Can I just forget the frames I shared with you?
And I can't believe what they're saying.
They're saying I can change my mind.
Start over on Spring Street.
That I'm welcome anytime.
This year April had a blizzard just to show she did not care.
And the new dead leaves,
they made the trees look like children with gray hair.
But I'll push myself up through the dirt and shake my petals free.
I'm resolved to being born and so resigned to bravery.
So let's watch the tour bus stop and tell us
here's the scene of a spring-green life dream.
Take the best part
write it in your caffeine diary.
And I can't believe what they're saying.
They're saying I can leave tonight.
Start over on Spring Street.
I'm welcome anytime.
It's been awhile since I last crashed my bike. In fact, I don't know if I've ever had a crash like I had today. Fortunately, I didn't endo, and I'm pretty sure I didn't break anything, but it was still pretty nasty. The rest of the way back I felt like I was five years old again, just learning to ride.
Get back on the bike, don't quit.
Forcing myself to take that corner, willing my hands off the brakes on the smallest downhills. I'm sure I'll be over it by tomorrow, but it's funny how quickly we can revert.
I will never understand people. Sunday night the group had another get-together, a kind of official last time we'd see each other before Ann and I leave the state. I expected to just hang out like always. Turned out they had planned this big going-away party. There were gifts, cards, hugs, everything. Suddenly these people who had no interest in me all year were my best friends again. Was it just an empty gesture? Something they felt was expected since we've known each other so long? Or were they sincere? They sure seemed sincere. Maybe I just expect too much.
I cannot believe how much money I spent today. A total of $550 or so for the hitch and trailer and about $200 on miscellaneous other travel-related things. This trip is becoming awfully expensive and I haven't even left yet. With the high gas prices and lowered gas mileage, I'll be broke by the time I get there. I also found out that although I'll technically get reimbursed for up to $2000, they space it out over two years so I don't take their money then leave right away. Understandable I guess, but it doesn't make my life any easier.
I'm leaving tomorrow morning. Andy and Colette came over today to help me pack up, and we went to visit Jackie afterwards. I also went out for coffee with Angela and Corrine this morning. I visited Oma, Uncle James, Uncle Mark and Tante Rose, and Grandma yesterday too. So many goodbyes. Somehow though, they felt more like see-you-laters. I don't know if it just hasn't sunk in yet that I'm not coming back from this particular road trip, or if I'm really that confident that we'll keep in touch. Maybe California's not as far away as it used to be.
From St. Louis, we continued southwest across Missouri. That meant driving through the Ozarks, a mountain range that I hadn't given any thought to at all. I never though I'd find mountains I didn't like, but these just might be them. To be fair, if I had experienced them from a hiking or climbing perspective, I might love them. As a driver though, I hate them. They're so spread out that they don't even look like mountains. The only place we even saw rock was where they had cut away for the road. But like mountains, they tortured my car.
Once we cleared Oklahoma City and got onto I-40, the drive became relatively enjoyable. I finally started to feel like I was out west. Rivers and towns started taking on Native American-sounding names, rocks started popping up out of the ground, and the trees grew shorter, scrubbier, and swept sideways by constant wind. We saw a lot of cows and horses, and I was happy to see that unlike the "slaughterhouses" of Nebraska and Iowa, they were very free-range. The dirt and rocks took on a strong red hue that was highlighted by the yellows and purples of roadside wildflowers.
It occurred to me that this type of land was not meant to be driven through. Passing by at 70 mph, everything looks the same: sand, rocks, bushes. An unbroken blur. If we were to take it more slowly, perhaps by walking through, we would be able to hear the crunch of the sand, feel the warm roughness of the rocks as we climbed them, and examine the ten or twelve kinds of plants individually. We would have enjoyed and appreciated the landscape so much more. Of course, walking was not an option. So we drove on, bored and annoyed.
As I have been told several times, and as I have found, Barstow is a very strange town. After having my standby Caesar salad for lunch we came back to the hotel and crashed. I was in a very bad mood. I was frustrated and a little overwhelmed by everything I have to do, and that I seem to keep hitting dead ends. That's when it really hit me what I had done. Moving out here a million miles from everyone and everything I know, with no apartment, no bank account, no phone, nothing. Adventure, my ass. I was miserable.
I made the move to lease the apartment today. It all went pretty fast. Paperwork, credit check, Wal-Mart for money orders, more paperwork, get the keys, meet neighbors, move my stuff in. I'm hoping I won't have to see much of those particular neighbors in the future. And though they were supposed to have the carpet shampooed yesterday, they now can't get it done until Friday. It smells horribly of smoke right now. So my stuff will stay in boxes on the tile floor in the kitchen until then. Guess I'm sleeping at the hotel for a few more nights.
Started work today. What a drive. I don't know if I can get used to a 40-minute commute each way everyday. On, no less, what I hear are the two most dangerous roads in California. The job itself seems pretty good though. The other AC guy is also pretty cool, which is good because we're the only two people in the department and we're going to be seeing a lot of each other. In fact, we share a cubicle. So far the military personnel haven't been too hard to deal with. But this is definitely going to take some adjustment.
I need sleep. Since last Friday, I've been waking up at the crack of dawn, then driving, working, apartment-hunting, shopping, unpacking, signing things, or some combination non-stop until after dark. I found out too, that since I didn't start until Wednesday, I have to work through what would usually be my days off. I get Memorial Day to rest, then dive into a whole new week. Good for the wallet, bad for the brain. I'm not sure this unpacking thing is such a good idea either; I'll just have to move everything once the carpet is clean. Such is life.
Mom and Dad are leaving tomorrow morning. I'm not sure what I think about that. It was kind of nice having them here (even if they did annoy me at times) because I wasn't totally alone. On the other hand, maybe once I'm alone I'll be able to let go of Ohio a little easier and start to think of this as home. And it's not like once we're physically separated I'm going to ever lose my family. I'm more worried about my friends. Of course we all want to keep in touch, but who knows what will actually happen?
Weekends sure are quiet around here. Russ and I haven't gotten a single call all day. I just hope it's this boring tomorrow when I'm here alone. We've spent the day driving around checking on tortoises that don't really need it and meeting people who I'd rather not, like the MPs. I hate this drive to work more every day. Especially when all we do at work is drive around. As much as I want to go home and see how I deal with my first night alone in my apartment, I wish I could teleport there. Two more hours.
I just picked up a baby bird. I leave in half an hour. I picked it up from a woman who I couldn't in good conscience leave to raise it even if she would have taken it. But, being a Sunday, the vet clinic is closed and Dr. Glassey isn't here. Since birds this small have to eat every 20 minutes or so, generally, I decided to take it home for Memorial Day. But it's been chirping at me for 45 minutes now and refusing to eat. Maybe it's not so young. I just hope it doesn't die on me.
Ahh, finally, a day off. I only managed to sleep until 8:30 or so, but it was a big improvement on the 5:30 or 6:00 alarms I have been setting. I also finally got a chance to scour the apartment. Mop the floor, vacuum the carpet, scrub the counters, sinks, and bathtub. I feel like the place is mine now, like I can walk around barefoot and not worry about what's on the floor. I also got my bookcase set up and a bunch more stuff unpacked. It's starting to feel like home. As long as I don't go outside.
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