Recently, someone asked me why a Marine with a MFA in writing was doing logistics for the DoD. I replied, “paying the bills.” Really that’s what I’m doing. It’s not the work that bothers me and it’s certainly not the people I work for that’s bothering me. It’s one of the best DoD contract companies to work for and for the first time in my working life I can say I like, respect and enjoy working for my supervisor and coworkers (and no I’m not just writing this because someone from work might read this. I really do mean it – great company and great people). What is it? What the hell is bothering me? Well, on the list of a thousand reasons a writer writes there is a bullet point with “to figure things out” written next to it. So, hopefully I can figure it out and if not hopefully someone out there who is wiser than me can fill me in on the secrets of life.
What the fuck am I doing? I asked myself this after finishing undergrad as I moved to
I stayed in
after the class was over. I applied to clothing stores and lit agencies, but my heart wasn’t in it. I knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Every time I went in for an interview I had that sinking feeling in the bottom of your gut like when you know you’re walking down the wrong street of a foreign city, but you keep going so you don’t have to admit you’re lost. As soon as I'd leave the interview I'd exhale and like when you finally admit to yourself you're lost, I'd get that feeling like you swallowed the dog piece from the Monopoly set. I couldn't find a job, but I don't think I'd hire me either. So, I did what any self pitying college graduate would do. I moved back home and decided I was going to be a Marine. New York
I remember the exact moment when I knew this was my fate. I met with the officer recruiter and had all the information I needed to make my decision. Before driving back home I stopped by the coffee shop, MT Cup, on
’s campus. I wrote in my Lord of the Rings themed journal, “I’m going to be a fucking Marine if it kills me.” I so badly wanted this to be what I was meant to do in the world that I trained nonstop for six months straight. I was so physically fit that after the first work out at Officer Candidate School (OCS) I was disappointed that it was so easy. Every morning I ran three miles as fast as I could down empty, gravel roads, only to have to turn around and run back at a more moderate pace. I decided I wasn’t going to OCS until I got a perfect Physical Fitness Test (PFT) which required a 70 second flex arm hang, 100 crunches in 2 minutes and 3 miles under 21 minutes (for women, 18 for men). The first time I ran three miles under 21 was on Thanksgiving. It was rainy and cold and I did it. After that it was a matter of doing it for an official time, which I did - more than once. For the few months before I left Ball State that didn’t even cover my expenses, but gave me time to run 6 miles and then lift weights at the recruiter’s office. Every day – rain, shine, snow, sleet, wind, hail – every fucking day I trained. I can look myself in the eye and say that I have never worked so hard for anything in my entire life. Now I wonder why? I could have worked half as hard and still made it through OCS, of course I didn't know that. I built the Marine Corps up on a pedestal so high that I'll admit now, I was disappointed. I was so sure that this is what my purpose in life that when I finally realized it wasn't I don't think I ever really recovered. I naively believed that I would make a good Marine officer, that I could make decisions that could cost men and women their lives, that I would at some point stop second guessing every decision I made down to what to eat for breakfast, that the women were treated as equals. There are some things you just can’t prepare for in life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to share with you how hard being a woman and a Marine officer was, but it was so hard in ways that I never expected. Eventually the system wore me down. I still wonder if I made the right decision to get out, but I suppose if I stayed in I’d be debating whether or not I had made the right decision to stay in that long. Indianapolis
So, why am I writing this? One of my writing mentors would ask me this and tell me to figure it out and then revise the piece and just say it. Most of the time she's right, but this is just a blog and I'm just exploring my thoughts. Truth is why do we do anything? Why post confessions that I don’t find my job fulfilling on a public forum where any of my coworkers can get on and read? I don’t know. Maybe I want to get a lecture from my older brother. Today, as I was leaving the office, my boss asked why I have been leaving earlier the last couple days and if it was because I was coming in earlier? I said I was just exhausted. Truth is I have slowly left a little earlier each day and the last two days I have lost my keys, forgot my purse, or had some sort of mini-crisis in the morning making me 5 minutes later than usual. Am I subconsciously trying to get myself fired? Would that be the end of the world? Well, considering my boyfriend just put in his 3 week notice and in the headlines today a SWAT team busted some man’s door down looking for his ex-wife because she was delinquent in paying her student loans … yes it might be the end of the world. Then again I’m just “paying the bills.”
Is there more to life? I have slowly watched more and more of the amazing writers I went to school with announce a variety of publications and I’m so happy and proud of them. But, I can’t help but be a little jealous too. Not that their work is being published, but that they are doing what we all said we would do – write. I want to buy every magazine they are in, every book they put out, be supportive but instead I’ve blocked some of them on my Facebook newsfeed. I hate Facebook. Why the hell would anyone think it’s a good idea to create a forum where you can openly stalk ex’s and high school classmates with the sole intention of hopefully reassuring yourself that you are happier with your life than they are with theirs. Clearly you’re not if you need that type of validation, but we all do it. I find myself wanting to block my writer friends because it is simply too depressing to be reminded that I am failing to do what it is that I always wanted to do, but it’s not their fault – it’s mine. I take sole responsibility for my misery and I’m beginning to hate myself.
I don’t sleep my depression away anymore, probably because I’ve lived here for five years so it’s not a scary, new place where I’m isolated because I have no friends. Nope, I have friends, know what’s going on where and when. It's self inflicted isolation. Instead of going to sleep immediately after getting home to avoid facing life, I read the news. I listen to talk radio 24/7. I engross myself with the sensationalism of current affairs to distance myself from my own life. I watch zombie movies. I read post-apocalyptic graphic novels. I live in a world that I’m waiting to end. I wait for the next plague, the New World Order, the sun to die, nuclear war, anything so my dissatisfaction with life won’t matter anymore. Nobody will notice that I have given up on the hopeless dream of becoming a writer if there’s an economic collapse and no food at the grocery stores. If the world ends then literature won’t matter and neither will the potential memoirs of a random girl who was pretty, wore a uniform and spent time overseas. All the mistakes I made as a leader will be overshadowed by the bigger failures of bigger leaders. I pray that the world will end so my life will have the most basic purpose of all – survive.
If Bernadette were to read this she’d ask me again - what are you trying to say? I think I figured it out through writing. This is a confession. A confession that I’m a writer who doesn’t have writers block, just excuses – I’m tired, it was a long day at work and I don’t have the energy, I have to work out in the morning, I don’t have anything to say, I never wanted to be a writer anyways. Confessions of dissatisfaction at work, but hopes I don’t lose my job if I post this because work will always work, but I believe in the company and enjoy working with my coworkers. I need to post this. I need to admit to fellow Antiochians and my mentors that I have failed post-graduation and I need their encouragement. I need to change my life or my attitude and if I write this confession out for anyone to read I’m more likely to hold myself accountable for my actions or lack thereof. I'm writing this in hopes to remind myself that every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.