Gay: American Flag

The Purpose of it All

I wake up early in the morning, hauling myself out of bed to rush in to the office... to do what? I look at the day with bleary dread. The workday comes and I sit behind my desk and if I'm lucky there will be enough work to distract me from the constant debate in my head. Do I quit?
What else would I do with my time? They pay me well. I'll stay at least for this year.
But what about not wasting your time? Do you want to waste a whole year?
It's not practical. You can't just drop out of work and expect other people to pay your bills. You're too idealistic.
What if I die tomorrow? Will I have made a difference? I would have so many regrets, I would regret working this job, wasting my time.
It's good training, I'm building my resume, it's not a waste of time. It will pay off in the long run.
How do I know there even is a long run? What happened to believing you can do anything?
I'm a grown-up. I have to be practical. Money must be made. Bills must be paid. Without another opportunity lined up, quitting is useless.
What about taking risks? Cutting losses? What about all that time I could be spending doing something, anything else.
But what would I even do?
What would I do?
What do I want to do?
And the workday ends and I duck through the rain to the train to the bus. On the bus I look out the window and wonder what I did all day. I decide to stick it out until next fall, when my contract is up. I think about the coming day and I'm exhausted at the thought of it. I dread waking up in the morning to go do nothing. I go to bed and lay there, trying to sleep, thinking how tomorrow will be exactly the same as today.
I think about promotions. Opportunities. I wonder what I would do if I were offered a higher-up job. I wonder what kind of higher-up job I would want. It would be harder to leave. It would pay better. It might be enjoyable. Is there a job in this business which I actually want?
Am I paying my dues or wasting my time?

My boss likes to say, "We're not saving babies," to mean, "our work is important to our clients, but it's not urgent, don't stress yourself out about it." I want to tell him yes, that's the problem. We're not saving babies. No babies are being saved.

Would I want to work at the opposite extreme, where every choice was life or death? I don't know. I don't think so. I think the stress would be unpleasant and definitely carry over to the rest of my life.
It's not like we don't provide a valuable service. It's that... the sort of things we do... For whatever reason, I am automatically biased against our clients. I see their former salaries, their outplacement monies, what they're paying for what we do, and I honestly sometimes can't believe the numbers are right. Do you know what that much money means?*
And I always thought that if you took a job for the money you were selling out, and you had to make choices to sacrifice a little (or a lot) in order to make the world a better place. So if I stay at this job because they pay me... if I waste my time... then who the hell am I? Then again, how else am I supposed to pay my student loans, rent, utilities, groceries, medications, doctor visits, travel... how else can I lift the financial burden currently smothering my parents?

I wake up each morning deciding to shuffle off through the next day. I come home each night questioning the purpose and meaning of my existence. I go to bed deciding it's all futile anyway, because no matter what I do I'll never make a real change. I fall asleep and dream of meetings and office politics. I wake up the next morning to start the cycle of who am I and what is my purpose all over agian.

* This all has class undertones which probably explain some of my resistance to this job. Like, I believe, in a part of me, that networking to get a job is mercenary; that rich people don't have employment problems; that retiring successful people are self-important and entitled; that helping people with less money is morally better than helping people with more money; etc. Add that in with a dash of who do you think you are? everyone knows you're not one of them. you're not a business person. making pretensions  acting like you're better than the rest of us. do you think you're TOO GOOD for another job?
RP: Sex Is Not

On the Status of Your Anna

How am I doing?

Well, my photography's in an art gallery, I'm talking to a start-up that will represent artists' work to hotels/cafes/restaurants/resorts/corporations/etc. all around the US and they've sent me a contract, I have a full-time office job with people who are mostly nice and tasks which are mostly not-terrible, I get to do some filming at work and get free training in how to do that (which is so cool!), I recently celebrated my two year anniversary with The Mob...

The prospect of being stuck in an office for the rest of my life terrifies me, and I don't know if I'll know when it's time to jump. I don't get to see my boyfriend most of the time because of our work schedules, and sometimes missing him physically aches. My commute is an hour each way and it's exhausting and makes me nauseous. I often feel like I haven't slept enough and today that has manifested itself in feeling vaguely dizzy when I stand (reminiscent of after long rehearsals in high school, not super worrying). I've started jumping every time there's a noise from downstairs, be it a sneeze or a door opening or one of the gajillion police cars that go past us each day (we live near the police station). Last night, as I was falling asleep, I got briefly caught in that place where I didn't know what was real.

I just got a new computer to edit photos on. My paycheck is high enough that contemplating that much money in my bank account makes me a little woozy. My job is super secure and they clearly want to keep me on after the three month probationary period. I have an amazing apartment with enough space for all the things that four people own. I am out of my parents' house and feeling more and more like an adult. I haven't SH'd since we moved in.

The tension in my office is palpable. I feel paranoid, wondering if people are talking about me when they go off into people's offices and close the door, hiding in the bathroom to regain myself before going to a meeting where I'll have to do some talking, trying to avoid drama about who sits with who at lunch (but not having the money to go to Pret every day, and besides that not having the diet to). I haven't been eating well.

Last weekend I had an amazing photo shoot with Kate. She continues to be an amazing friend and an inspirational model. Even when she has her own shit to deal with, I never doubt she is there for me, which is so... nice. Reassuring. Amazing. I missed not hanging out with her in the time between graduation and moving in here. It's nice to go back to doing photo shoots and being silly and overly dramatic and artsy and having fun and sometimes being serious too.

I want to give a 20 to everyone holding a cup of change and a sign, sitting in the street.
I'm uncomfortably aware that I am lucky, I am privileged, and my complaints - while valid - are also not quite the same as someone who has nowhere warm to sleep at night. I wonder about the state of the world, the growing inequalities. I want to change things, fix things.
I want to know how to help.

How am I doing?

I am happy and sad; lonely and social; jumpy, tired, overwhelmed, overjoyed, hopeful, afraid, worn out, safe, in love...

I am okay, good, fine.

I am a 20-something trying to make it through whatever it is we go through.
Dr. Who: Peekaboo

Anna's End-of-Summer Reading List

Recommended reading, based on what I read this summer:


The Wind Up Girl -- set in the not-so-far future, exploring the problems/solutions of genetic engineering, climate change, pandemic, and globalization (to name a few). Set in The Thai Kingdom with characters you will care about. I have not finished it yet, and there are some pretty violent scenes, so be wary. (tw for this book: rape, forced prostitution, violence, racial/ethnic tension and violence, etc.)

The Name of the Wind is part of a fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss and it's amazing. The world building is beautiful. If you're in for an epic fantasy world that you can totally immerse yourself in, this is it. (tw for this book: racism against a group clearly modeled after Romani, although this is always portrayed as terrible bad racism that should not happen)

How to Talk to Girls at Parties -- a really sweet, short Neil Gaiman story. It takes a few minutes to read, and it's wonderfully weird.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson -- possibly the most overlooked John Green book (also by David Levithan) but it's pretty good. Not world shattering or life changing, but a good young adult book with (cis, white) queer characters.

In Search of Africa is a very realistic novel set in Kenya and Uganda from 1950 until the late 1980s or so. It follows the stories of several characters whose lives intertwine, also following the historic shifts of power. A stunning book 75% of the way through. The ending felt forced to me, but not so much that it ruined the rest of the novel. (Also at one point there are Evil Lesbians.) (tw: racism, rape, sexual violence, child abuse, drug use, implied prostitution, did I mention the racism?, also violence)

The Drowning Girl -- if you have not read this, read it now! The Drowning Girl caught me completely by surprise in the best way possible. The story is narrated by Imp, a woman with paranoid schizophrenia who is trying to figure out what is real and what isn't. It's a fantastically well written book with a blunt, practical approach to mental illness; queer characters; and a twisted up plot. (tw: mental illness, suicide and suicide attempts)

The Speed of Dark is a pretty good read. It's about an autistic man in the near future, where there is a new "cure" for autism. I'm still not sure what I feel about the ending - something about it didn't sit right with me - but that doesn't mean this is not worth reading. The autistic characters are well developed, real, and dynamic. (tw: mental illness stigma, can hit close to home if you are close to autistic people)

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel -- a cute little book by David Levithan, told in an interesting form.


War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning -- sobering, with lots of depressing examples, but an important message (no matter what your political stance on war is).

The Selfish Gene -- if you are at all interested in genetics or evolution and have not read this yet, give it a read. Dawkins is not only convincing, he's also fun.
School: Science

Welcome, how can I help you? That will be $20. Here's your change and your map.

Being back at the museum is weird, but nice. The place has been returned how how it looked in 1965 when Dr. Hammond died - or as close to it as possible. There are a few things that still need to get moved out, but it's mostly his original collection, which makes me happy. These are really cool things, and they were collected by a really cool guy, and I like telling people about it. I like talking to those people that are really excited to be there. I love watching people's faces light up. I like crouching down so I'm at a kid's level and asking them if they like secret passage ways and if they would like to go through one. I like telling someone the price in their native language and watching them light up when they realize someone speaks the same language as them. I love my boss and everyone else who works at the castle. The New Guy* studies storytelling and archaeology, so that's cool. We spend a lot of time talking about social issues together when the gift shop is empty and I'm not teaching him how the register works. We differ in opinion on some issues (he believes that dropping the nuclear bombs on Japan at the end of WWII was the right choice; he believes in the legalization of pot but not in legalization and regulation of narcotics, which I do support; I believe in gun control, which he supports in theory but does not think could work in practice; I am way too optimistic and idealistic) but we can have an intelligent conversation on topics even if we disagree, which is something I like in people. Also he does things like refuse to split tours by gender because there might be people who don't feel comfortable, which is generally cool.
I do get a little annoyed by him on the following points: he does not see value in reading Kurt Vonnegut because he believes he already knows everything about the subject; he in fact believes he already has a lot of worldviews most people do not, and so while they might need to study something, it's not new to him so it's not worth his time; he doesn't believe in things which aren't practical; he has so much economic privilege and I can't tell whether he knows it or not, but in either case I'm working because I need the money for living and he's working because he is interested in museums and doesn't want to be bored all summer, and I am jealous of him; he talks over people; he occasionally casts himself in "I am a heterosexual guy therefore I am a certain way and act a certain way to women and it would be weird if I acted differently toward someone I was flirting with" in his stories, which is not how he normally acts and so it's kind of bizarre, like that's the guy he thinks he should be or the guy that I'm expecting him to be, or something; he told me why high heels are oppressing me (but don't worry, he doesn't blame me, I can't help how I was socialized); and finally, he dislikes Mount Holyoke because Vegas Night.
...when I put it like that it sounds like he's a horrible person. He's not! He's really cool. I like The New Guy, and he's going to be a really great tour guide since he learns quick and has a lot of background knowledge. He's also great with dealing with the public, even when they're infuriating, which is important. He certainly handled the giftshop pretty well today with only minimal help from me, and we were short one register.
...but if I come back in a few days being like "NO LET me TELL you ABOUT (blank)" that's probably why. On the other hand, if I'm tearing my hair out in a few days, that's probably due to the general public.
Y'all, humans are dumb.

*His official nickname forever (at least for this blog)
Dr. Who: Peekaboo

(no subject)

If you don't mind, can you please share with at least one person? Post it on your blog, email your photographer friend, show it to your parents who are looking for a new piece to go with the couch, share it on Facebook, write about it on Tumblr., tweet it, write it on the whiteboard outside your door - anything! It would be a nice thing.
PotterPuffs: Brain Explode

How do I even

I am a smart, talented student at a rigorous women's college, who started a business at 20, traveled Europe partially on her own for six months, and will soon graduate with a degree in anthropology and a degree in Russian literature... who is regularly reduced to tears by art professors.
Dr. Who: Peekaboo

Public Service Announcement*

I have a phobia of needles.
I don't want to talk about needles. I don't want to talk about having blood drawn. I don't want to see where they put the needle in for you to donate blood.
I have made the informed decision not to work on overcoming my phobia at the moment.
Unless you are my doctor or psychiatrist, you have no right to tell me what I should be doing for my own health.
I am not currently working on my phobia. No further explanation is needed. I should not have to justify my decisions about my mental health to you.

I have a phobia of needles.
I don't want to talk about it.
That should be where the conversation ends.

* because the pre-med association is selling syringe-shaped pens; because I had an argument on Facebook last night about my right to decide what personal flaws to work on at this moment; because this same conversation came up at dinner; because the firstie at dinner would not stop talking about the blood drive even though I was clearly uncomfortable; because I am sick of people who I hardly know telling me what to do with my body; because if someone says "just get blood drawn a lot and you won't be scared any more" one more time to me I am going to break something; because the idea that everyone with a phobia should just "get over it" gives me the creeping feeling that ablism is fucking everywhere
PotterPuffs: Brain Explode

And then life played a prank on me

I continue to be utterly baffled by good things that happen in my life, especially when they come in clusters. I am always expecting things to go wrong, and if they don't go wrong then I expect them to go terribly worse. But sometimes bad things don't happen, and things work out like you wanted them to. Even more amazingly, sometimes things work out better than you could have hoped. I feel like the universe is about to give me some catastrophe to make up for the good things in my life recently.

At the end of spring break I posted my resume on a job hunting website just to see what would happen, and I was flooded by phone calls by the end of the following week. I ended up going to one job interview, and while I didn't particularly want to work there, it was good interview practice and I finally had a use for those cute new shoes I bought a while ago. At first I felt like the interview was a waste of time, but I'm starting to think that it was totally worth it. It made me realize what I really wanted out of a job, and that I wasn't willing/able to compromise what I want for high pay.

On Saturday I had a lovely time running around the greenhouse with my best friend, and I got to remember what I love. I got to remember where this all started. I got to be silly and relieve some stress and make some good pictures. I've said it before: without all of Kate's encouragement I would not have continued to practice this photography thing, and it certainly wouldn't be what it is today. She was the first person to believe in me, even before I started believing in myself.

On Sunday I hung my first art exhibit, with help from the awesome foursome. Again, I couldn't have done this without my friends. People volunteered to be my models, to do hair and make-up and costume design. I had enthusiasm and people wanted to be a part of it.
Looking at my show, I can't help but feel proud. I am happy with every single image on those walls. I put so much time into each of them, carefully constructing them, conceptualizing them, creating their world and capturing it in a photograph. I can't believe I created these things, and I can't believe other people like them as much as I do. It is incredibly gratifying to find out that people really do see something in what I have created.

And then it was today, Monday, and I checked my mail as an excuse to walk past the exhibit and see if anyone had written in the guestbook since I had last stalked my exhibit (there were three pages). And in my mail was news that I had won an entrepreneurship award that a professor I don't know nominated me for. I agreed to be nominated because it seemed like very little effort, but I didn't expect to actually get anything. But I did, I am.
I am now going to an award ceremony in Springfield on April 24, oh and also I need to have a display for a 6' table, describing my business. There will be networking and a dance competition.

So here I am sitting on my fuzzy green blanket thinking "how does this sort of thing happen to me?" and feeling like maybe, just maybe, I might be on to something here with this art thing.
Dr. Who: Peekaboo

Link spam, again

Dr. Who: Peekaboo

The State of the Anna

Today I saw my doctor and (despite my fear of needles) had some blood drawn. It's a small victory, but still, I feel accomplished. Now I'm laying in bed trying to get warm and hoping I feel less shaken by tonight so I can go contra dancing!

I had an unpleasant experience at the doctor, which I want to vent about below. TW: trans*phobia
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After that, it was almost easier to go to the lab and get stabbed. At least I didn't have to deal with that stupid doctor any longer.