lived in San Diego for 6 1/2 months. Pasty-white and anti-anything
that exposed my knees. It would be reasonable to ask exactly what
I was thinking by moving to southern California. Fuck, I didnt
even like sand. But it was an escape out of Ohio, away from the
entanglements created when best friends and exes and crushes and
relationships become too inbred. As a foster mother in some movie
of the week once said to her daughter, "What matters is,
are you running toward something, or away?"
was running away.
the time I lived in San Diego, I worked five jobs, broke my glasses,
stole oodles of toilet paper from work, fried my brain watching
a sitcom starring the Olsen twins, barfed all over myself on more
than one occasion, made a one-day attempt at veganism, picked
up an inordinate amount of dog poop, and generally acted like,
well, a wee bit of a lonely pathetic geek.
of my jobs was working as a library tech II in the library of
a technical college that specialized in nursing. Id bullshitted
my way into the job, stretching a summer spent volunteering at
the library when I was twelve into the experience the job required.
My bosses were two elderly women, one of whom boasted a crop of
post-menopausal facial hair; the other ranted about people who
called themselves Mexican-Americans and African-Americans, declaring
them unpatriotic because they didnt identify themselves
as Americans first.
I mostly worked alone.
in a library full of books that Id never wanna read was
pretty painfullike dying of thirst right by an ocean. But
try as I might, I just couldnt get into books with titles
like Insurance Handbook for the Medical Office, or Fluids &
Electrolytes Made Incredibly Easy! Fortunately, there were ads
in nursing magazines to entertain me.
mainstream publications might publish ads for Claritin, the newest
copy of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services advertised
Risperdal ("efficacy you expect, safety you trust").
ad had a mock yearbook picture of a girl circa 1960. Under the
girls picture it read, "Jane Smith, Most likely to
succeed," while over the photo were listed, "hallucinations,
grandiosity, social withdrawal, blunted affect, disorganized thought,
hostility, and depression." And while I often wonder if I
need steady doses of "The #1 prescribed anti-psychotic,"
I loved the testimony of the woman pictured saying, "Nothing
could have prepared me for the devastation of psychosis."
Well, duh. But the best part was the fake Polaroid "after"
picture, which showed Jane model-pretty, smiling, her arms around
a random man and woman. She damn near glowed. Its good to
know the drugs work.
left that job in March. My boss had found my e-mails bragging
about how Id pilfered quarters from the copy machine. Hell,
my laundry *needed* to be done, dig? But it was okay. I got what
I deserved for being such a dumb shit.
Nate, my roommate, was having his own adventures. He broke up
with his girlfriend, started going to bed at 9 p.m., cursed the
youthful skateboarders that practiced their moves in front of
our house, worked at The Gap, and became romantically entangled
with a dancer for Janet Jackson. His dog, Solly, dealt with transition
from college-town Ohio to big-city California in his own wayby
throwing up almost every day.
January, Id decided that I wasnt going to stay in
SoCal after our lease expired on April 30, and by the beginning
of May I was back home, sleeping in my moms basement.
almost everyone I know, in the year following graduation Ive
been gripped with the kind of existential angst that has my middle-aged
counterparts buying new sports cars, spouses, or faces. But Im
poor, my bank account still hovering in the three-digit range,
so television has become my way of coping. I watch ridiculous
amounts of T.V., staying up till the wee hours, hoping that
the miasma surrounding me will magically disperse.
you ever had a really horrible night? You know, one where youve
said something shitty to a friend, acted like an asshole, and
the next day you wake up, filled with guilt, dread, and low-grade
panic but for a moment you cant remember why? I feel like
that most of the time. Ive spent a good part of this mid-mid-life
crisis lying on a futon in the basement, wondering where the hell
Ill go from here.
now I write cheesy and/or boring stories for a neighborhood newspaper,
making far less money than in San Diego, where I was doing basically
the same thing. So, now I sit on that futon, waiting for a job
and a life to fall into my lap. The basement is beginning to smell
like me (or like mildew...the scents are edging closer). My mom,
in her ever-so-supportive, former preschool teacher way, has told
me, "Jen, I dont care if you need to live here six
weeks, six months, or six years."