There’s a tweet going around, asking people what they have accomplished this decade, and folks are making me feel deeply insecure about my progress. I sat down to figure out what I have been doing the past ten years, and aside from my relationship with Hubs it’s been mostly garbage. However, it starts and ends with good things, so I guess that’s progress.
In the past ten years I:
- got my driver’s license/first car.
- started dating Mark
- quit the theater
- had several childcare jobs.
- had several diagnoses.
- moved out of my parents’ house.
- moved again
- got a dog
- got rid of dog
- moved again
- was temporarily homeless
- moved again
- got married
- wrote a poetry chapbook
- started writing a novel
Let’s start at the beginning. In 2009, I had just gotten my driver’s license, and 2010 brought me my first car, a blue Ford Explorer that made a ton of noise, but which I loved. It was a symbol of my freedom. I was working at a day care and stage managing at night, and was definitely burning the candle at both ends. Add Mark into that mix come autumn, and my stress level went through the roof, despite the joy he was bringing me. So, I quit the theater, something I had been doing for the entire decade prior. There is a list, which I still have, of all the reasons that I quit, some personal and some professional. In the end, I miss it, but I am less stressed without it. As much as I enjoyed spending my nights trying to create something, the long hours and poor pay were making it hard to sustain two job at once. Daycare paid the bills, so theater had to go. I regret the way I quit, in that I let several people down, but I do not regret walking away when I did, because I was on the verge of a breakdown.
Eventually I left the daycare, too, and started at another that I loved very much. I was happy going to work every day, which was something I had grown weary of, but the new daycare breathed life into me. Unfortunately, that’s when I started getting sick.
My doctors couldn’t figure out why I was nauseous all the time. I started missing work and going home early, because I would be throwing up in the middle of the day. Eventually, my boss took me into her office and explained that they could not keep me on any longer. It was the best firing in the history of time, as they were compassionate and understanding, and I really did not believe they wanted me to leave. I just kept screwing up their ratio, which is a big no-no in daycare.
So, I became a nanny. This suited me much better, because on days when I felt sick, there was no one to send me home. I wasn’t contagious, I was just nauseous and didn’t know why. The docs chalked it up to everything: my diabetes, my meds, my diet. We changed everything, but nothing changed.
Mark and I got an apartment during all of this. It was a nice little place, and we would have stayed there longer had our landlady not been under the misconception that Mark was out to get her. She even went so far as to install security cameras, and that’s when we decided it was time to leave.
So, we moved to Lovejoy, and on my 31st birthday, Mark proposed. We lived with our dog Buddy until we got kicked out when they decided to remodel and raise the rent. This wouldn’t have been so bad, were it not for my dog, who could not come with us. I put him up for adoption, and now he lives on a spacious plot of land in Allegany county with a nice little cat for a friend. It broke my heart letting him go, though. And moving into place number 3 only made it harder.
Without going into too much detail, because it is painful for me to recall, our landlord was a bully. He never listened to us at all, and treated us like children. Then he illegally kicked us out, and afterwards had more than one altercation with Mark. Now, we both have PTSD from past experiences, so neither of us were surprised to develop it in regards to this asshole. I won’t drive down the old street. When I see a truck that looks like his, my heart stops and breathing become difficult. I constantly fear running into him at the gas station or grocery store, and am desperate that he can no longer recognize me.
If I had been known then what I know now, I would have fought him on the eviction. But, he was terrifying, and we just wanted to escape. Which brings me to my 32nd birthday, when I was homeless.
That night we had nowhere to go, and I was terrified. Mark, however, saved the day, convincing a man that owned a motel to let us rent a room for a month. The man didn’t rent to couples, so it was a little pricier than we had hoped, but at least we had somewhere to lay our heads.
On August 1st 2016, we moved into our current apartment. In September of that year, we were married.
Not much happened for a while after that, aside from illness. I was eventually diagnosed with gastroparesis, but my docs still continue to look for answers to all the questions my stomach presents. Between my mental health stuff, and my physical health stuff, I wasn’t able to work. Any jobs I got, I was immediately let go from the first time I got sick. And I always got sick.
So, I decided to create my own work. I started by sending a few of my poems out into the world, and I got some published. Then a short story. Then I started putting together poems for a chapbook about chronic illness. Now, I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and trying to pen an entire novel in a month. Hopefully, before this decade is over, I can cross this one off the list, too.
The past ten years have been crazy, but I don’t know that I would change anything. After all, it’s brought me to where I am, writing like a madwoman in my little office, trying to share my work with the world. It took a long time for me to get here, but I’m happier now. I’m still sick, and I still can’t work, but I also still have a nice home with a good landlord and a husband and kiddos who love me very much. And finally, I’m doing what I want to be doing.
Hopefully, ten years from now, I will have accomplished all the endeavors I have recently set into motion. So, here’s to the next decade. May we all reach our goals and rediscover the love that’s in our lives. And to the next month…as of right now I’m on track to finish my manuscript by the end of November, which means editing though December. Which means come New Years Eve, there’s a really good chance I will have written a book.
So, I guess in the end, it’s not a decade wasted.