Adulting as an Adult in the Adult World

Woooah, it’s been a whopping three months or so since I posted in this dusty ol’ blog of mine. Let me tell you, though, that between November and now, my life has been figuratively going off the wheels on a crazy train.

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Random: I also like Bullet For My Valentine’s cover of the song…

So, listen up — if you’re a post-college twentysomething on the adulting struggle bus (or the adulting crazy train) and are about to spin out of control, trust me, you are not alone in this. Just when you think you’re getting your shit together, some evil villain with a ridiculous mustache sneaks in and blows up your train tracks with a few sticks of dynamite.

(Or, if you’re a George Saunders fan and have read “Winky,” someone is shitting in your oatmeal.)

It was in November that I began the long journey of preparing to teach English in Japan via the JET Program. I made it through the first screening quite easily and was scheduled for an interview in the first week of February. As qualified as I am for the position, I felt like I bombed the interview… Maybe that was my anxiety kicking in. Everyone assured me that I likely did just fine. But either way, the wait would be agonizing. I won’t know if I made it or not until April. (It’s the end of February, and this year’s a leap year. So I have to wait a whole extra day for March to come!)

But I still planned accordingly. My boyfriend (now my ex), and I have this cute house in a nice, quiet neighborhood with my two cats, and he was going to hold down the fort while I went away to Japan for a year. And then I would come back with lots of money and work as an ESL instructor. Not exactly my dream job, but it’s not too far away from my college studies, and it’s a stable career. It’s pretty much the natural progression after teaching for JET.

But just a couple days after my interview, shit really hit the fan. Two years’ worth of the non-communicative boyfriend’s simmering resentment had built up, and, long story short, we broke up. And though he had me believe that things were still fine and that he’d still support me me until I could stand on my own two feet, things apparently weren’t fine.

So then, here I am, working a part-time job in food service that pays peanuts, trying to schedule driving lessons and get my license as soon as possible, worrying over the fact that neither of my prescription meds are available in Japan, and then one morning I wake up to find that my emotionally abusive ex had taken to Facebook to slander my name and spread lies about me. And also tagged my family and friends.

Now that was a shit show.

I’m dealing with enough crap of my own without my personal business (and a smearing campaign against me) being put out on the web for the world to see. There is a reason why I don’t announce breakups over Facebook…

So then he decided he wanted to kick me out of the house, which meant I needed to find somewhere to live, and I also needed to find a better-paying job, AND I needed to find a reliable way to get to said job. And a roommate who doesn’t mind two cats.

But I decided I wanted to keep the house, which means speeding up my learning how to drive and applying to full-time jobs like crazy. In the past three days, I have applied to nine. And though I’ve never had to take the bus before (before moving to this house, living on and near campus meant I could pretty much walk anywhere I wanted), I started looking up bus routes and schedules.

I need time to save up money so that he can finally move out. And my cousin could move in with me after she’s saved up enough.

But see, there’s another problem. If I get to go to Japan, she wouldn’t be able to pay for the house by herself, and I wouldn’t have anyone who could watch my cats for me for a whole year.

And say I end up landing a job as a success coach on the university campus (which I SO hope to get) which would pay $3,000 a month. It wouldn’t look good for me to be there for only five to nine months until I have to up and leave for Japan.

This went from the perfect time to time to do JET! to the worst time ever to do JET.

I’ve done a lot of growing up these past few days, and I guess learning that sometimes your huge plans just don’t work out is a part of adulting.

Although I was careful not to go into much detail, this is probably the most personal post I’ve ever published on this blog. I want young adults struggling out there to know that where you are right now isn’t necessarily where you’re always going to be. Some days are more difficult than others, and some days I have to power through the anxiety and depression, but keeping a positive outlook in the back of your mind is way more important than you might think (believe me, as someone who takes meds for depression). We’re all still learning, and we’ve still got a ways to go.

I’d spent two years with someone who would tell me the opposite of what he felt and would place all the blame on me when things went wrong, taking none of the blame for the things he’d done wrong. (And my apologies were never good enough.) Someone who saw me as a mentally fragile child and treated me as such, even though I’m strong enough to handle many of the issues he’d withheld from me. (So imagine my shock when I saw he’d resorted to high school-level spitefulness on social media.) After I finished grad school, I’d worked on writing and marketing my novel while he worked to support us both, and that was where we both fucked up. My development into adulthood was stunted by this major mistake — one that we had both naively agreed to do — but I was 22 and he was 23, and we didn’t know any better. Now we do.

I’m 23 now. Just when I start to think I’m getting old, shit like this happens and I realize:

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So what have I learned? No matter how well you prepare for a huge plan in your life, something can always mess it up. And people don’t deserve to be in serious relationships — let alone live together — unless they have their shit together and are at least a little established. And joining the full-time adult world of 8am to 5pm means that I’ll need to survive on coffee (yuck) or energy drinks (also yuck). And romantic love is the messiest abstract thing in the world.

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Weird Anime Eyes

When I was in 8th grade, I was super into anime and manga. Manga was all I drew. All the time. Everywhere.

Towards the end of the school year, we were having a bit of a free day, so a lot of us were drawing on the board. I drew a manga face.

Another girl who could draw looked at the picture. Then looked at me. Then said, “What kind of eyes are those?”

“They’re manga style.”

“… They’re what?”

“Nothing.”

But I want to be Nez Perce!

I used to get the American Girl magazine when I was rather young. This incident happened in 4th or 5th grade-ish.

Every Thursday, I was able to leave school to go to a program for gifted students to expand my horizons (it was called Horizons – surprise, surprise).

My Horizons teachers decided to celebrate diversity by having everyone bring in a traditional dish and dress up as some sort of culture.

At the time, I absolutely loved AG’s newest doll, a Nez Perce girl named Kaya. She was beautiful, and I wanted to know more about her and her tribe. And I was extremely upset when my mother told me I couldn’t dress as Pow Wow Kaya for the class party.

I don’t know if it was because we couldn’t think of ideas or couldn’t find costumes, but my mom ended up buying me a ’50s poodle skirt costume.

I looked effing adorable, and my teachers gave me half-points for coming dressed as a sub-culture.

So I was content.

Staples

My day camp used to take trips to the JCC (Jewish Community Center). This was when I was like… 6? 7 years old?

My mom liked to braid my hair – often in cornrows. It was pretty much the norm for me and most other little girls I knew…

So one day, a girl came up to me, with face screwed up in a mix of curiosity and disgust, and said, “Are those… stapled?”

I looked at her as if she’d come from another planet.

Who the hell staples braids to their head?

Why would she even think that?

Even if she did come from another background, I mean, staples braids to one’s head would seem pretty stupid to a 6-year-old, wouldn’t it? And she see staples in my head? No.

I was shocked. Appalled.

I just sort of looked at her and said, “No,” as if she’d just asked me if the sky were red and the grass were pink.

Gosh. Even now, it makes me wonder where that question would have come from…

I’m Indian (Part 2)

There’s family folklore.

Some say, in addition to our obvious African roots, we also came from Irish immigrants. It is well believed that we have some Native American… somewhere (I doubt it).

Our family historian, one of my aunts, suggested that we may also be mixed with East Indian.

I told my friend, Dwarka, who is from India, to which he replied, “We’re siblings!”

And we engaged in a heart-felt hug.

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Actually, it was an internet hug, but whatevs. Still counts.

Swing Set

So, I was a kid, it was summer, and my day camp decided to take a trip to the zoo and the park.

At the park, my friends and I ended up playing with a trio of white siblings. It was good fun.

We decided to see who could run through the swing sets without getting hit.

One of the swingers was the youngest sibling; the other was me. The little girl’s older sister told her not to sync up with me because it would make the challenge too easy.

Then, out of the blue, the little girl screams, “I CAN MATCH HER IF I WANT. WHY CAN’T I? BECAUSE SHE’S BLACK?”

We all stared. Nervous smiles were had by all.

I’m Indian

When I was in 2nd grade, a little girl on the bus asked me, “Are you African or Jamaican?”

The question annoyed me, though I couldn’t articulate why. My mother once told me that “jasmine,” my name, is a beautiful flower from India.

So I said, “I’m Indian.”

The girl gave me a funny look and asked again. “Are you African or Jamaican?”

“I’m Indian.”

She left me alone.