Hello, friends! Sorry it has been so long!
As many of you know, I am very happy with the life I’ve built in Boston. I have a very supportive group of friends and I have a job I love.
Which reminds me of the many things that have changed since I last posted!
In September, I wrote about how I decided not to go to Thailand after all. I felt I needed to stay here longer and that I was looking to remedy something that didn’t require moving away. I didn’t want to end this beautiful chapter that was just beginning to bloom. Turns out, the thing I needed to fix were my jobs.
Anyone who’s done this before knows this for a fact – working two part time jobs is HARD WORK. I worked an average of 50-60 hours making only about $12-15 an hour. I could pay my rent and bills, and I wasn’t starving, but I was exhausted. I was anxious, and depressed. My mental health suffered greatly, and, as a result, I called out from one of my jobs pretty frequently during the month of September. I had to get a doctor’s note eventually, which my psychiatrist provided. What was the point of working so much that it rendered me unproductive? What was the point of paying to survive when this was clearly no way to live?
Obviously, everyone has different thresholds for the amount that they work. This was mine. My brother works about the same amount per week, but he has many benefits that I don’t have, and much higher pay. Also, his days were more structured – he had time to get lunch, go to the bathroom, and do other things such as that. There were some days working for the dog walking company that I worked for when I didn’t have time to stop for lunch. I would walk dogs exhausted and starving. Then, after, if I had time, I’d try to eat and shower before going to my other job at the grocery store. Some people are grateful for a day off; I was grateful for days that I only had to work at one job.
Working like this really gives you a glimpse into others’ lives. There are people who have jobs like these and are single parents. There are people my age working these jobs who have college loans to pay off. If something happened to me, for example, if I were seriously injured, I wouldn’t have much of a financial fallback. This is what Senator Bernie Sanders means when he says, “It’s expensive to be poor.”
Something had to change. I started looking for full-time jobs, so that I could stop this mad, busy, unpredictable schedule.
At first, I wanted to work in higher ed, possibly in an office. I was busy looking for these sorts of jobs, but my mom found a full-time dog walking job. Unlike my last job, this position was higher-paying, full-time, and offered more benefits, such as reimbursement for gas. I applied to this job and almost immediately got a reply from the employer expressing interest. We had a phone call, and then had a more in-depth interview at a cafe in Somerville. Then I shadowed for a day to see what it was like.
I should also mention the primary difference between this company and the last one I worked for: this company specializes in off-leash hikes. So, it’s much different from leash walking in the city.
I met my new boss (spoiler I know) at a place about 10 miles from where I live called Cat Rock Park. Cat Rock Park is conservation land that allows people the opportunity to walk their dogs without leashes. The park is almost like heaven on earth for me. It’s a nice retreat into the woods, and you’re surrounded by dogs who are free to be their goofy, playful selves. Not far into the park is a large pond with a small dam. The dogs often stop here to take a dip or a drink. After that, there is a large glade where the dogs can run freely and socialize with others. This happens in the woods, too, but it’s much easier to keep an eye on them in the field. In the woods, I try to focus more on walking.
I was offered the job and quit at my other company early November. Right now, I am working this new position part-time for two days a week, and I start full-time in January.
In the mean time, I’ve been picking up more hours at the grocery store, and I’ve been depending more on this job than before for supplemental pay.
About two weeks after quitting my last dog walking job, I found out that the store where I worked would be closing permanently.
Let me give you a glimpse into the communication of this company.
I found out that we would be closing permanently in about a week in late November. I did not receive a formal phone call nor an email. Instead, I found out from a group text of me and my coworkers, who are my closest friends in Boston. At first, I ignored what my friend Charles said (no more BFresh!), because I thought he was talking about his new job that he got at Gillette. Then my friend Bill said he’d be having a party after BFresh closes on the 25th. He made a joke that it was for the closing, but really it was for his birthday.
So I and my other friends all had the same reaction of surprise and confusion. Even though I was off that day, I walked to the store to demand an explanation and definite answer. I got what I was searching for and lamented – of course the store would close when I needed it more, and also when I only needed the job for another month or so.
Luckily, instead of losing my job, I was able to transfer to another location in Allston. The commute is slightly longer – I have to drive about 2 miles to get there, which doesn’t sound like a long drive, but it can be depending on the traffic. I now work here, but I am planning on quitting soon. I did think about keeping it even when my dog walking job went full-time, but I return home exhausted from hiking and driving all day (I drive about 80 miles a day, and probably hike about 4-5 miles. I’d love to get my fitbit working again so I can more accurately track how much I walk.). Would I really feel like going to work for a few more hours in the evenings? Secondly, I’ve started focusing on other things. I’ve worked hard and built a strong foundation here, as I’ve said many times before: I live in a great apartment with awesome roommates, I have a strong network of friends, and, now, or at least next month, I’ll have a steady paying job with a regular, predictable, and manageable schedule. In addition to this, it’s a job that I look forward to working every single week.
So, about those other things. Now that I have a foundation, I need to build a house, right? For those of you familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I feel that I am now in the self-actualization stage.
For a while, I’ve been wanting to date. Pursuing a relationship in this modern age is hard enough, but, just to make it harder, I am queer and searching for a relationship with a woman. I do more specifically identify as bi – I do like men sometimes, but I like women more. It’s something that I had a hard time accepting until the past year. Through high school and college, I knew somehow that I was different, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. I had a crush on a girl in high school, but it went away, and I sort of forgot about it and buried the experience. It was a shameful one that didn’t end well. I went away for the summer to work at a camp and developed a massive crush on a guy there (which ended in a similar manner). Essentially, I used my attraction to men to negate and ignore my attraction to women.
Over the summer, I briefly dated a woman. She was from Orlando and living in Boston for the summer, working an internship at an international exchange school nearby. We talked constantly for a month, since she hadn’t moved here yet. When we met, we had a lot of chemistry, and we had some great dates… for about a week.
She didn’t ghost me. She still talked to me, but she flaked when I tried to make plans with her. I tried (REALLY HARD) to give her space and let her have her own life and friends in this new city she came to explore. I knew that she didn’t want her entire experience to be defined by a relationship that wasn’t even sustainable in the long run. My heart is often louder than my logical thinking, so even though deep down, I knew this to be true, I kept trying to pursue her in a more serious way. I think I chased her away. Obviously, this blog will be great information to put on my dating profiles!
Of course, at the time, this felt like the end of the world, and now, as I’m writing this, I’m laughing. Everything works out in the end, I suppose. In fact, she sort of triggered a period of self-examination that inspired me to stay here rather than move to Thailand and to look for better jobs here. So I have that to be thankful for, though it may have happened without her help.
So, I’ve been browsing Tinder on and off. Online dating is rough though. Some people swipe and swipe and swipe and never talk. Some people (like me) aren’t responsive because maybe they don’t look at their messages all that often. And most dates are pretty unsuccessful, but hey that’s part of the game.
So, I decided to get out there and meet some people “IRL” (In Real Life for those not fluent in Internet-speak). Obviously, people do this a number of ways, but when you’re queer, it’s a little harder, especially when you’re a woman. Queer women are sometimes less visible, especially when they’re femme (which means they wear make-up, dresses, or have long hair). Sometimes, I don’t feel visible. I cut my hair short, but thats about it. I still wear make up and dresses and consider myself to be pretty femme, although sometimes I toe the androgynous line. It feels like, essentially, when I meet other people in spaces that aren’t necessarily queer spaces, I want to shout “HEY I’M QUEER” without shouting “HEY I’M QUEER.” Obviously, this isn’t what defines who I am, or the thing that makes me interesting, but it still is a pretty large part of who I am.
To meet queer people, specifically those interested in dating, you have to put yourself out there. That’s why there are queer communities, gay bars, and other spaces such as these. These are places where queer people can be visible and can flirt with each other without worrying about whether or not the person they’re flirting with is actually straight.
On Monday night, I went to an event called “Feminist and Queer Happy Hour.” This was perfect, as I fell into both categories, and though it wasn’t exclusive to women (obviously men/genderqueer people can be feminists too), I knew it’d attract a lot of women and femme people. Also, it was low pressure; it wasn’t a dating event, but rather, a networking event. More than dating, I was interested in meeting friends and getting involved in the Boston queer community. I got out there and actually met some pretty cool people who live nearby! I just need to keep in touch with them and keep hanging out with them. So, while dating isn’t my primary focus with this, I am trying to make myself available to people that I’d be interested in.
So, this is one way I am trying to branch out. Another way I am trying to branch out is through my creative projects. Though I was working like crazy, somehow, I never stopped creating. I mostly wrote – poetry, songs – I even started writing a novel recently! But this writing wasn’t going out into the world. It was staying put in my journals and sometimes in correspondences with other writer friends.
What I am doing now is focusing on my music. I am hoping to buy an electric guitar soon, and I’ve been writing and recording songs. This is where I am really lucky to have my roommate Donna. She’s a musician who’s in a band called Strawberry Machine, and she also has her own solo music and has started another band called Moon Sisters. She has a network of musicians and plays semi-regular gigs at places nearby. On top of this, she’s a lovely person who I look up to and cherish dearly. It’s so nice that I get to pester her with my writings and recordings by simply walking into the next room.
I made a post about my band on Craigslist and Facebook, and I’ve had several people contact me. Out of those many people, there is one who’s sustained interest and invited me to a gig on Friday night. So, because of this project that I want to bring to life and put out into the world, I am meeting more people who have shared interests and making myself open to meaningful relationships (not exclusively romantic, obviously).
I am really excited about this next chapter! I’ve got some very strong roots – now it’s time to bloom.