Friday, November 21, 2008

Dead Reckoning

Growing up I was allowed to get C's. D's even were okay, although I never did get a D. Did you try your hardest? my parents would ask. And so long as the answer was yes it was okay. Just getting by, not getting by, strike three, a thin obligatory smattering of applause, I knew they loved me no matter what, just as long as I tried. And I did. Mostly. Sometimes. When I felt like it. Which was never or right after I watched "Kate and Allie," I swear, I promise, I'm tired, oops, oh well! The problem with being loved no matter what is that in your security you allow yourself to slip. What are the ramifications just as long as you convince yourself and others around you that you tried? What does trying your hardest even feel like anyway? A boulder, stuck jagged deep in your throat? All I ever wanted to eat were Pop Tarts pink and sweet. I tried my hardest to believe that I was forever pushing that rock up a hill, that is all. You still love me, right?
I was in the gifted program in school. Which meant we got to meet on the blacktop at night to crane our thin necks searching for the constellations of Cassiopeia and Orion's Belt. During the day we took calligraphy classes. To this day my handwriting is pretty and I can point out the Seven Sisters in the black night sky but fuck me if anyone asks the value of x in any equation. I did not live up to my potential.
What does anyone need algebra for anyway?
So here I am, 36 and skating, the taste of frosting still light on my lips. Last night I watched "Stylista." But I find myself wishing that somebody had called me out before for leaning against my rock to cop a squat on the steep incline. I wish a teacher had used a red pen, given me an F because now I am failing. There is no more A for effort, no star stickers or smiley faces. Nobody gives a shit that I am trying, no really, I am trying. My hardest. I think. But trying doesn't matter anymore and I am stuck with this boulder in my throat and I cannot seem to swallow.

In the 1500's Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe said that "by looking up we see downward." There, those, that cluster of stars. That is Pleiades. Sailors used constellations as a position fixing technique to cross featureless oceans without having to rely on dead reckoning to strike land. What is the value of x? I only wish now that I had paid more attention.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just read this on Twitter and thought of you...

NOW HIRING: Census Bureau Needs 140,000 Temporary Workers (in 201, they plan to hire 1 million more) - http://budurl.com/ta6b

Richie Designs said...

ugh I feel for you girl.

I wouldn't exactly describe someone who writes like you as a slacker, or someone who isn't working hard on themselves, or someone who "settles"

Don't use the word try because "trying' insinuates you never get to the place you are going. "Try" and get up and walk across the room. I bet your bootie doesn't move much.

You are working hard at the new job you will have soon.

Remember to write down WHAT YOU WANT and tattoo it to your belly again. Or, just post sticky notes on the frosting container to remember what it is you're suppose to be thinking [when you don't really want to think about it at all]

Vanessa said...

I've been reading your blog for the past week now. You're a great writer (from one to another), but you are so very hard on yourself. And though I don't know you, it makes me so sad. So many of us are in tough situations right now, but you'll make it through. I can tell that without even having met you.

Aartee said...

awww still feeling yucky...If it helps I never could figure out the value of x either :(

Brandi Schaefer said...

Relax and don`t be so hard on yourself. You are wonderful and I think we all go through periods of wishing we were more...take the time to just live.

betsy said...

I been reading your blog for a while now so, now I will come out of hiding and post. Girl, I know how you are feeling about the job market. Last Fall I left a job that paid me -a lot- of money because I had become a burned out social worker and just couldn't hear one more bad story. With the support of my friends and family who all knew I needed to get out, I quit/retired. I went back to school. I wanted to be a garden designer. I wanted to create beauty in other's lives. Isn't that lovely? Well, I am in school hating and resenting it now because I have no job. The landscaper I was working for layed me off in April and now all these months later I cringe when the radio comes on in the moring and another day has come and gone and I still can't find a job that will cover the bills. I can't even go backwards back in the social work field because of all the cut backs in the field. To live in SoCal right now and to be in need a job is a horrifying thing. Starbucks won't even hire me. I am over quailified. What the hell?? Over qualified to work hard and make money? I feel embarrassed, ashamed and mortified at what my life has become. What do I say when my parents wonder why I don't have a job yet? And the longer this goes on the more of a loser I become to myself and the less I even want to interview because they can't possibly want to hire a loser. But I am not a loser. These are just feelings. They are not the truth but....somedays they are. I have a decade on you and this is my life? Whose life? Oh yeah, it's still me and mine. Where to start when everyday more people are out of work? I hate that radio. I should break it but then I'd miss one more thing in my life. Wow, I have vented here. I wish it made me feel better because if it did I would spend everyday writing around the clock just to feel anything but bad. I do the whole "things could be so much worse. Look at that person's life or that person's. I don't have it so bad." But, it is all relative. And to me, right now, it feels bad. But, I am not alone in this and neither are you. You have your lovely, talented and yummy little Zoey and I have my two kitties that refuse you let me wollow in my pity, curled up in the fetal postion deep down under my covers. I think I love them more now than I ever have. We will surive this. The end of the dark tunnel will come and we will look back over our shoulder at it and be grateful it is over and that love is what got us through it. I wonder too, sometimes if I am really working hard enough at this and the answer no longer matters. I am doing all I can and that has to be enough. For you, too. Okay, I am done now. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Honey, you think you feel bad NOW for not knowing how to solve for x? Just wait till Zoey comes home with her algebra homework and you can't help her. That's when you feel bad. Until then take a deep breath and just relish in the joy that you can write. Good old x is nothing without having the gift of the written word.

Robin said...

"It is never too late to be what you might have been" -George Eliot

Hang in there sweetie.

Judy said...

In H.S algebra, I barely made the B that in my household of yore was the lowest acceptable grade and fuck-all with that "doing your best" shit...didn't count. Last year of UNC RN BSN program when I realized I still had an overlooked mandatory advanced algebra/calculus class due in order to graduate, I cheated and had my brother do it by mail for me. (Yes, I cheated) That said, my credentials regarding the value of "x" are highly questionable-though I will admit that I finally figured out that ratios and proportions (which definitely involve an "x") are like the 8th Wonder of the New World...and all one ever needs to know about math to get by in life is that simple formula. So, here's my answer for you....What is the value of "x"?

"X" outside of its intrinsic value of just being itself, the best damn "x" it can possible be, every single time it is called upon to be an "X"; is worth NOTHING...unless you count that just being a great "x" is more than enough reason for existence. What more could anyone possibly ask for than an "x" being an "x"? Could there be anything better, could there be anymore integrity or perfection? But once you put that "x" into an equation, it suddenly loses its perfect "x" integrity because now it loses its identity completely. That "x" is now redefined by the numbers before and/or after it- yet it is still nothing until an = sign is inserted and another number or set of numbers is added. Then the "x" is no longer an "x", its a value...completely dependent on circumstances beyond its control...now its something it never set out, intended or knows how to be...it isn't even an "x" anymore. It lost its entire being only because of its proximity to values added to it that it never asked for, needed or wanted....2x=10 and bam, the "x" is now a "5"!

You KNOW the value of "x" because it is perfectly what it is...just like YOU! You don't need anything else-except to beware, be AWARE of those values that somehow (accident, Fate or sometimes we put them there ourselves) suddenly start appearing in front of, behind us...those qualifiers that one by one start to redefine our perfect being and then, the dreaded = sign and... we don't exist anymore because those values changed us into something else entirely.

You are Susannah and you ARE always "trying"
because you are always being the best you that you can be. Why would anyone ask for more? I guess what I am awkwardly trying to metaphorically say is that you are perfect as you are. You know everything you need to know to get to where you want to be. Don't let circumstances attach themselves to you and change you but rather utilize them and identify which are obstacles to be gotten around and which are helpful sign-posts and tools for the journey-and sometimes it's really hard to figure out which is which.

I am on NO mind-altering subtance but I have been working REALLY hard of late. So, if I just wrote a lot of jibberish that only makes sense to me, just scroll down and forget and forgive. I love you so much and I want you to know the you I know and be as confident as I am that everything will work out. If it were easy all the time and we knew what was going to happen, wouldn't life be too boring to bother?
Mom (perhaps claiming temporary insanity)

Judy said...

In H.S algebra, I barely made the B that in my household of yore was the lowest acceptable grade and fuck-all with that "doing your best" shit...didn't count. Last year of UNC RN BSN program when I realized I still had an overlooked mandatory advanced algebra/calculus class due in order to graduate, I cheated and had my brother do it by mail for me. (Yes, I cheated) That said, my credentials regarding the value of "x" are highly questionable-though I will admit that I finally figured out that ratios and proportions (which definitely involve an "x") are like the 8th Wonder of the New World...and all one ever needs to know about math to get by in life is that simple formula. So, here's my answer for you....What is the value of "x"?

"X" outside of its intrinsic value of just being itself, the best damn "x" it can possible be, every single time it is called upon to be an "X"; is worth NOTHING...unless you count that just being a great "x" is more than enough reason for existence. What more could anyone possibly ask for than an "x" being an "x"? Could there be anything better, could there be anymore integrity or perfection? But once you put that "x" into an equation, it suddenly loses its perfect "x" integrity because now it loses its identity completely. That "x" is now redefined by the numbers before and/or after it- yet it is still nothing until an = sign is inserted and another number or set of numbers is added. Then the "x" is no longer an "x", its a value...completely dependent on circumstances beyond its control...now its something it never set out, intended or knows how to be...it isn't even an "x" anymore. It lost its entire being only because of its proximity to values added to it that it never asked for, needed or wanted....2x=10 and bam, the "x" is now a "5"!

You KNOW the value of "x" because it is perfectly what it is...just like YOU! You don't need anything else-except to beware, be AWARE of those values that somehow (accident, Fate or sometimes we put them there ourselves) suddenly start appearing in front of, behind us...those qualifiers that one by one start to redefine our perfect being and then, the dreaded = sign and... we don't exist anymore because those values changed us into something else entirely.

You are Susannah and you ARE always "trying"
because you are always being the best you that you can be. Why would anyone ask for more? I guess what I am awkwardly trying to metaphorically say is that you are perfect as you are. You know everything you need to know to get to where you want to be. Don't let circumstances attach themselves to you and change you but rather utilize them and identify which are obstacles to be gotten around and which are helpful sign-posts and tools for the journey-and sometimes it's really hard to figure out which is which.

I am on NO mind-altering subtance but I have been working REALLY hard of late. So, if I just wrote a lot of jibberish that only makes sense to me, just scroll down and forget and forgive. I love you so much and I want you to know the you I know and be as confident as I am that everything will work out. If it were easy all the time and we knew what was going to happen, wouldn't life be too boring to bother?
Mom (perhaps claiming temporary insanity)

Petunia Face said...

Aw, mom. I TOTALLY get what you're saying. Which either means I am just as muddled as you are or it means we are both mathematical geniuses who should have received a Nobel Prize for Symbolic Algebraic Inexactitudes. I prefer the latter.

Thank you mom, thank you everyone.
Love.
Susannah X

Bluestreak said...

I really love this post and how you put into words the angst of realizing that trying doesn´t mean a damn thing once you´ve entered into "life". I´m dealing with that myself.

Anonymous said...

I used to wonder what the heck it meant to "do your best." And "be yourself."

Now that I've got some years on me (aging has some rewards) I realize it means just that. Not perfection, not necessarily great or even good.

I wish I could pass this on to you and all the other young women who are so tortured by the judgments they make on themselves. Aspirations are wonderful inspirations, but it's no good to cut ourselves up with them.

We are all so hard on ourselves in ways we would never dream of being to others whom we love. Try to be a friend to yourself.

smells said...

well, you're certainly not failing as a writer, my dear. hey this is jenny (wells) ashley by the way, not sure how my name appears. i've been reading your blog and thought i'd chime in. keep putting your thoughts down and making the world more bearable and humane.