I know it's been a while since I last wrote. I haven't much felt like sharing thoughts. A lot of what's been going through my head has been personal (read: boring to you, the reader) and sometimes incredibly painful, and I find myself unwilling to put it into words. It's superstition... if I think it, it might not be true, but if I say it out loud and no one disagrees (or worse, someone agrees), I'm stuck with it. There's also the fact that a lot of my questions have simple answers that I don't like, and I know what I want the answers to be instead, and I'm still looking for someone who will confirm my bias rather than ask whoever is closest and get an answer I don't like. Does it make it better or worse that I recognize my own bias-seeking? I'm fighting to stay in my own little world of illusion because I don't like what's outside.
So I failed the Boundless Summer challenge. I knew from the start that I probably wouldn't finish it despite my saying otherwise. I figured that eventually I'd hit a challenge that was too xtian for me; that one of the challenges would require praying for someone I hated or standing up for a belief I don't hold and that I'd just quit in disgust. What actually happened was that one of the early challenges required calling a friend and bringing up how we could be a better friend to them, which is a rather awkward thing to ask someone. Not only have I lost contact with most of my friends since the end of college, I also hate phones. Talking on the phone makes me intensely uncomfortable (thank you, Neil Gaiman for that turn of phrase... (via Coraline)). I'm pretty sure I could go into a psychiatrist's office and come out with a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder and a prescription for Xanax. Of course, I don't have the money to go get myself diagnosed, so whether or not I have a disorder is beside the point. The point is that I don't like phones, so I put it off. And put it off. And put it off. And by the time I had decided, after laying in bed one night, that I really ought to just get it over with (because it couldn't possibly be as bad as I imagined, right?) it was 2 weeks later and I'd been smacked with a few more minor upsets, it was really warm, and didn't feel like continuing. I'm working on a half-baked plan to go back and finish it on my own time at some later date, skipping the phone (of course). We'll see how that goes.
In the meantime, I've been waiting impatiently for the unemployment office to finish its five-month-long "investigation" into the conditions under which I was "terminated" (I hate that word. I'm not a computer program! I'm a living being and I have feelings, damnit!). They finished it last week and sent me out a pair of nice, impersonal letters - one regarding my last call in July (when they told me they'd file a couple weeks I missed, and promised to 'hurry' the investigation) to tell me that no, I wasn't getting compensated for the weeks that I forgot to file/couldn't file due to lack of internet access/working on the house because I didn't have a good enough reason for missing the filing dates. The second letter told me I wasn't getting anything at all. Five months of waiting. FIVE MONTHS. They ruled that because I "should have known" the rule which the company states that I broke, I'm not allowed to be compensated. While logically I understand why the system works this way, I can't help but feel like I'm utterly worthless now because on top of the anguish caused by my mistake and subsequent firing, the denial letter after five months of not-quite-daring-to-hope tells me in no uncertain terms that I'm a terrible human being and don't deserve help, regardless of the fact that I only made one mistake. Regardless of the fact that I would have gotten down on my knees and -begged- to keep my job, that I apologized, that I had no history of stupid mistakes like that and that I did learn from it. In the eyes of bureaucracy, error is error, no matter the cause and no matter the conditions. If I had been fired without breaking a rule, even if I had been the least useful member of the company previous to my firing, I probably would've received full payment within two weeks of filing. That stings, and it's the typeset equivalent of a whip to my flagging self-confidence.
While I'm afraid to put my resume out there (especially after my laptop was dropped and the hard drive broken three months ago - we only just managed to recover some of the files last night and in the mean time I didn't find it worthwhile to re-create my resume and references from the much older versions I had saved online), I did land a 'job' last month. I'm now a freelance writer doing short local articles for Examiner.com. The pay might as well be nonexistent but it's something to do which ties neatly into the volunteer work I was already doing (I'm writing about urban agriculture). I figure eventually I'll either get tired of it and move on to something new, or find a new client with a higher pay scale. Maybe in 10 years I'll be able to make a living off my writing... a girl can dream, right?
Speaking of volunteering: Fall is upon us, which means volunteering is winding down. The Tuesday afternoon sessions are done and now there's just Thursdays, which are harvest and farm market days. I go in the mornings now, and pick tomatoes and okra and swiss chard to sell at the market. I don't help with the afternoon markets, because they're usually the most popular volunteer times and there are plenty of others who actually need the volunteer hours for senior projects or community service orders. Still, I like the harvesting. It should last through November, when we'll plant the last of the garlic (did you know that planting garlic in the fall is best, because it overwinters and then comes up earlier and bigger in the spring?). Winter work is intermittent, from what I hear, and I'm not sure I'll be needed, so I expect a long, boring winter as usual. I hate winter. The highlight of the entire time is NaNoWriMo, and I'm not even sure why it's a highlight any more, since I've won once in 7 years and haven't really learned much from the experience.
The house isn't ready for winter, either. We have a lot of work to do. The last big rain we had soaked through wall under the bathroom glass-block window; the shingles outside have been missing since before we moved in but we didn't realize the damage was that bad. Of course, there was a massive colony of carpenter ants under that same window sill, so the wood there already needed replacing. Apparently, the water damage in that wall has been ongoing. We can't afford to replace the entire wall and I'm hoping we won't have to. For now, we'll probably try to replace the few feet under the window where the ant damage was most obvious, put up new shingles on the outside, add a vapor barrier to the inside to protect the new cement board and tile and pray that there aren't any other leaks we're not seeing.
In more positive news, I'm making a braided rag rug for the wash area in the basement. I hate cold, concrete floors so it's a selfish measure more than anything else, but it uses some of our old clothing that wasn't good enough to be donated. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the week, barring severe boredom from trying to sew it all together by hand. I figure that even if the rest of the house is unfinished when the snows come, I'll at least have the satisfaction of not freezing my toes off when I do the laundry. So: look for pictures soon. You may now proceed to leave fawning comments regarding my obvious prowess with bits of fabric.