Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Good morning, all!
I haven’t written a personal blog in a while. Honestly, I haven’t been writing much the last year at all. Casually or otherwise. But with my 32nd birthday approaching on Wednesday, I’m feeling a bit retrospective and introspective. So, this is going to be a bit of a life update, for anyone who is interested.
I remember, two years ago, being so excited to turn 30. That may seem weird, but I was ready to leave my 20s behind. My 20s were a time of great flux, trying to figure out what I was doing. I spent time working in restaurants. I moved a lot. I learned how to hoop dance and followed that circus dream for a while. I lost sight of my music. I re-discovered my music. I went back to school for my education license. When I turned 30, I was halfway through my first year in my new career. I was about to move into a dream house with my partner of nearly 10 years. We were planning to buy that house. I was settling into adulthood. Finally. A job. A house. Five crazy pets. I was excited for my 30s. Excited to finally be digging in and getting somewhere. Instead of being in constant flux.
Fast-forward one year to my 31st birthday. Turns out, I don’t settle well. My life fell apart a month before. Really, it started falling apart before that. I started experiencing vocal issues a few months into the new school year. I went to a specialist who deals with vocal issues in singers and performers, and was given the news that I have scarring on my vocal cords. There’s not much you can do about scarring, except prevent it from getting worse. Which is damn near impossible as a music teacher. I use my voice all day, every day I’m at work. I felt trapped. I had to drop out of my “for fun” choirs. Cancel all audition plans. And take it easy at the choir that paid me to sing for them. I think losing those extracurricular life distractions, shed light on how unhappy I was at home. That trapped feeling began to grow. It finally exploded in December, and by my birthday in January, I was trapped living in a museum to over ten years of decent times because neither my ex nor I could afford to move elsewhere. And the lease wasn’t up until March. The settled, hopeful feeling from a year before turned into anxiety and stagnation. Awkwardness. Constant reminders of what we were choosing to lose. Constant second thoughts. I took myself to Red Lobster, alone, for my birthday last year. Using a gift card from Christmas that was supposed to have been for both of us. I spent all $50 on myself. It was a momentary bandage. A slight glimpse of freedom. But a freedom I wasn’t sure was right. It’s easy to second guess yourself when you live amongst constant reminders of the good times.
A lot has happened since my last birthday. One thing is clear, I did not want to leave my job in SC or my friends in SC. I’ve spent most of this year being depressed. If you had told me five years ago, that I would make a decision to move into my grandparents’ vacant house, next door to my parents, I would have told you to do everything in your power to stop me from making that decision. But, when one feels trapped, decisions are made that aren’t always the best. Logically, it made sense to move here, even though I hadn’t found a job before I moved. I wouldn’t have to pay rent here, and who wouldn’t jump at a chance for free rent? But, my mental health has been at the lowest it’s ever been since returning to Tennessee. A lot of it has to do with my piss poor relationship with my parents, particularly my mother. But I have one of those toxic mothers, and there’s not much that can be done about it. I’m not sure I was even far enough away, living in South Carolina, and this put me right back into the lion’s den. I’m not going to go into details in this post, but it’s been rough. And it’s taken a toll on my mental health, which I typically have a decent handle on managing, but I’ve almost lost control a couple of times this year. I don’t belong here, really. I don’t belong in my family. I can’t seem to meet anyone with common interests anywhere near me. I lost one of my precious kitties back in October, and I miss her every day. The job I did find is an hour commute, which makes it difficult to do much of anything outside of work. And I’m not even going to talk about trying to date again after a decade. Eeeeesh.
Some things have kept me grounded, though. As crazy as it sounds, the online gaming community that I didn’t know existed before August has been a lifeline throughout this tumultuous year. Finding an online community has kept the isolation and loneliness from completely getting to me. And before that, my Twitter writing friends helped keep me strong when I was having those really low, bad days in the first half of year. I will be forever grateful to my online community of writers, gamers, and all around awesome people.
Staring down my 32nd birthday, I find myself in a state of flux again.
I started classes, again. For a completely unrelated to music degree. It’s a Computer Information Systems degree, and it’s online. I’m taking three classes this semester, while trying to work full-time, and keep up gaming consistently. I became a Twitch Affiliate back in October and got my first payout check last week from gaming, and it’s important to me to not let that go. Plus, as I said, the gaming community has been such a lifeline for me this year, that I would hate to have to abandon it completely. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, starting this degree. It’s completely foreign, but my hope is that it will allow me to get a job where I don’t have to stress my voice out. I have to do something to get out of teaching ASAP. My voice is only getting worse, and the thought of never being able to sing or perform regularly again is a major point of anxiety in my life. It will take me a few years to complete the degree, and I hope I can hang on that long. But I’m already dealing with the thoughts that I may have to quit my teaching job at the end of this school year, to try to preserve my voice. But I’m not sure what I’ll do instead that would treat my voice any more kindly and allow me to pay my bills. That’s a decision I have to make in the next few months, however.
Not having to pay rent is great, but I know this is only temporary. I will not allow myself to get comfortable here. When I do complete this degree, I fully intend to look for jobs as far away from here as possible. I always strive to move somewhere new, and moving back to the place I spent the first 18 years of my life is highly unsatisfactory. I need adventure and new experiences. No rent has at least allowed me to travel more than would’ve been otherwise possible. Traveling has kept me sane. Knowing I can jet off to somewhere to spend time with people who are dear to me or see exciting new places has been another thing that’s kept me from completely losing it this year.
In July, I visited England for the first time and met a dear friend there who showed me around to all the coolest places in the immediate Yorkshire area. I got the tourist and local viewpoint, and it was amazing. I’m convinced the best way to travel is when you have friends to show you around (and give you a free place to stay).
In October, I went to California for the first time to visit one of my best friends in the world and be in her wedding. It was my first experience on the West Coast, and in Los Angeles, and it was amazing. After a quick weekend there, I drove to Phoenix to visit another dear friend. I fell in love with the red rocks of Sedona when I took a day trip there from Phoenix. I can’t wait to go back there and spend a good week delving into the mysticism in those mountains. I could feel it in my bones, but my trip was too short and too unplanned to go searching. Then, I spent a few days with a friend in Detroit. Yes, I know, LA to Phoenix to Detroit makes zero sense, but it worked, I swear.
In November, I was able to go back to Columbia, SC, for a bit and visit some friends during National Novel Writing Month. Although I didn’t have it in me to write a novel this year, and it was the first time in nearly a decade of participating that I bowed out of NaNoWriMo, that trip was great. A nice, soothing balm to my soul, although bittersweet in many ways.
In December, I took a trip to Ocean Isle Beach in NC for the New Year. The beach in the winter may be my new favorite thing. It wasn’t too cold, and ranged from the 50s to 70s. I was still able to go foraging for shells at low tide in the dark without completely freezing. I found my first sand dollar and some super amazing conch shells. Although that trip ended with some repercussions that I’m still dealing with, it was a fantastic trip.
I’ll be keeping my feet on the ground through the winter, but have a small trip planned in March, for Spring Break, that I’m excitedly anticipating. No more details on that right now, but they may come later. Then, I’ll be saving all my money for the choir tour my group from South Carolina is going on. I am so glad that they are still allowing me to participate in this tour despite not being there to sing this season. In June, we are going to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg, along with a few smaller towns along the way. I traveled to Italy with them in 2016, and New York City in 2013, so I cannot wait for this trip.
I am sorry I haven’t blogged more about these adventures as they passed. I have tons of pictures I could have shared with you, and maybe still will, but it’s been one of those years. 2019 is here, and I’m slowly getting back on my feet and trying to find my place through all these things going on in my life. It’s gotten off to a rocky start, but I am hopeful for the rest of the year. I feel like, after 2018, I don’t have many places to go but up. I am definitely in limbo, but limbo isn’t always a terrible place to be. I’d had higher hopes for the last half of 2018, but some things didn’t go according to the plan I had in my head. And those things took me a while to recover from. Emotions were involved, and I’ll leave it at that. But it’s a new year, and every day is a new day. I feel like I have set things in motion for the year that will lead to even better things. Some of those things were planned, like school. Some of those things were unexpected and have blindsided me in the last month or so, and I’m excited to see where they lead.
I plan to do better about my writing and music this year. The muse is coming back. The itch is there. But having time to scratch it is the problem. Video games have taken some of that time, but video games also gave me a small paycheck this month. I do sometimes stream live music, and that’s perhaps something I should do more often this year. I’m also committed to working on myself. I’m an eater of my feelings, and all the progress I made before I left SC was blown to bits when I got to TN and fell into some of the deepest depressive times I’ve ever faced. My motivation is returning in general. Motivation for life, for arts, for love.
Staring down 32, I feel the hope returning that I felt when I was staring down 30. It’s a different kind of hope. I’m on my own. I’m uncomfortable and not settling. I’m guarded because of things that happened in 2018, but I’m willing to let that guard down for the right people. And the thought of finding the right people–or even the right person–and finding my niche again gives me hope. I’m not necessarily looking for romance, or love, but if it finds me I won’t be opposed. There’s something freeing about not looking though. After ten years sharing my life with someone, some days are lonely. Some days I want someone with me at the movies or at dinner. To share the smiles and laughs and make new memories. But being okay with being alone has also made me stronger. I know who I am on my own, and when I find someone to compliment that, it’ll be worth the wait. And knowing who I am, gives me hope. I just have to find my place, but it will come.
So, here’s to 32 and to 2019. To hope. To new memories. New friends. Starting new paths to new careers. To being alone but being open to love. Finding new motivation. Bettering myself for myself and no one else. Re-discovering my creative spark. Not bending against my will and what I know is right to please others.
I am who I am.
And on that note, let me leave you with my anthem for the year: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman.
Also, special shout-out to Kesha’s album “Rainbow” that has a ton of great, empowering songs on it. If I overplayed one album in 2018, it was this one. To quote Kesha: “I’m a mother-fucking woman!” RAWR!
For now, and with love,
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