This afternoon marks the first full week of my new job. I did not think I’d care whether I worked downtown, and I dreaded the change from driving myself to public transportation.
Having quickly fallen in love with the PNW while visiting, I just as quickly fell out of love once we’d moved. I felt that the local inhabitants were snobby and standoffish, and I lived my life north of downtown which made going into town seem like an expensive hassle. I deeply regretted the move for the first several months, and only recently had I begun to grudgingly accept it.
However, working downtown and taking the bus has changed everything. I am constantly reminded of why I wanted to move here in the first place. I have loved watching the autumn colors deepen from the office windows as much as I am heartened by seeing familiar faces each day. By and large the bus drivers have been friendly and helpful, and I look forward to watching downtown move around me every morning and afternoon. My new co-workers are professional and knowledgeable, as well as good humored.
I feel incredibly blessed by my new circumstances, but moreover, that I have had the experiences I have had so that I know how very lucky I am.
Right after Dad died and again during his memorial people kept telling me to take care of myself. People also seemed fond of saying this to me while I was at university and when I worked retail. Prior to university I always felt like the person telling me to take care of myself was really saying, “I care about you, but not enough to inconvenience myself with figuring out how I might be able to help you… So, you do what you need to do to fix yourself, because you’re obviously in some kind of mess.” Uncharitable, I know, but I try to be honest here.
At university I wanted nothing more than to take care of myself. However, just wanting and needing something doesn’t make it so. I read quite a bit on the internet about how one might undertake this often-recommended task of taking care of one’s self. The consensus seemed to be that it was highly idiosyncratic, but that I might try scented lotions and bubble baths. I really did try, but I just couldn’t figure out the mechanics. Ultimately I ended up feeling like a failure.
I’m still not certain that I know how to take care of myself. What I do have a much better grasp on now is not caring when it’s important for my health to not care. I’d like to think I’ve also gotten better at knowing what to care about, although that’s probably mostly attributable to Dad’s illness and subsequent death. And since I’m being so honest, I’m not sure how helpful knowing how to take care of one’s self is, but I can tell you from experience how freeing it feels to decide to just let go.
This morning was really lovely. The autumn air was cool without the stinging cold of winter. Last night’s rain made everything smell clean and new. Bundled up in my coat and boots and waiting for the bus, I thought, “if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Today was better than yesterday. Just based off experience, that’s how these things tend to work. The trick is in getting through the days when things seems staunchly intent on getting or staying worse. That’s the really difficult part.
I’ve found the best way to get through the difficult days is to rely on intuition, and to seek out the people and things that uplift you. Practically speaking, I also like to break the day down into tasks and by hour. Focus on the short-term can sometimes be very fruitful in this respect.
When I think about this type of advice, I think about my 14-year-old self. I very much doubt that she would find value in anything I have to say to her. This line of thinking inevitably leads me to wonder if there’s any good advice to give anyone. Perhaps the only thing of real value we have to give to anyone in a situation of distress is our undivided attention and compassion.
Anyway, this is what the sky looked like this morning where I am:
Today, on the first grey day of my new job, I missed Dad. This feeling was not immediate. When I woke up I felt tired and had to remind myself of my new routine. Somewhere in the morning a sadness settled in. At lunch I was largely mute, not having the energy nor the drive to participate. By the time I was off work I felt a tightening of my throat at every street corner. It was profoundly strange.
Over the weekend I told C that I thought I’d stopped processing things, so in a way this was to be expected. But I really did not expect it to hurt. Truthfully–naively–I have been surprised at each sudden pain, new or old. I hoped wildly and passionately that foreknowledge and acceptance would insulate me entirely.
Undergrad was a difficult time, as many times are, but it was there that I stumbled upon Denizen Kane. On days like today when I begin to feel truly weighed down I think of his lyrics, “pain ain’t nothing but change.” When I think about pain as a signifier of change, it feels lighter and less urgent. This comfort gives me the momentum I need to continue on.
If I’m being totally honest here I have to admit that for the past year I’ve been trying to stay away from comics. During undergrad I was an avid comics fan–making weekly trips to pick up my pull, spending Saturdays bagging and boarding, and acquiring short boxes at a stress-inducing pace. But unlike my wise comic-loving friends, I was a DC fan. Now do you understand why I, an Asian-American, female, gender studies major with previously entrenched trust issues, decided to pursue other non-comic-related hobbies? When those aforementioned sensible comic-loving friends told me I had to check out Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet, I knew it had to be something special.
Bitch Planet is absolutely everything I love about comics. It is campy, dystopian, and allegorical while remaining fun, sharp, and most important of all, humanizing. DeConnick writes a solid script, which is totally enhanced by the the way the art just fits. I’d try to sum up Bitch Planet here, but why bother when you can read this excellent article on what Bitch Planet is and means to people all over?
As for me, now that I’ve gotten my hands on this book, I’m planning on buying all the issues again electronically and subscribing to the series.
Buy Bitch Planet here and feel grateful comics exist again.
Riding the bus into town this morning I felt lucky. My life feels fecund with opportunity after this stymied period that has been so littered with loss. It is a great privilege to be able to look around and take stock of what one has. There are too many times when life is too cumbersome to be able to truly appreciate the minutea that makes life liveable. The ability to become engorged upon the soup of life–the softness of a cotton sweater, the clarity of the morning light, and the security of the knowledge that someone you love is still alive–is significant in ways I can’t grasp. But I am fine with my own fumbling. It gives me something to do.