I don’t know why I feel guilty about daylogging. Maybe it’s because people in the catbox seem to be against it. It might be because I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who suggested that everyone should contribute to E2 in a broadening of the factual database. Whatever the reason I feel guilty about it but I’m going to do it anyways because I’m setting some personal goals for myself and one of the things I’m trying to work on is dropping some of the guilt I’m always carrying around.

When I look back on my life I always stop at 22. I really did have it all then. I had a good part time job. I had friends that I went out with. I worked out. I still lived at home but I knew that as soon as I graduated from college I was going to get a kick ass job and then I’d show everyone. The problem is I didn’t get a great job and I didn’t really show anyone anything good either. But I still go back and think about the person I was when I was 22. One of the things I liked about being 22 was I did have my life and finances in order. I had balance when I was 22. I had a good mix of friends and interests. I think I’m being fairly objective when I say that 22 was when things started coming together for me.

It’s been difficult going back to work. I feel like I’m neglecting my children. I feel like my house is a big chaotic mess and when I get home all I want to do is lie down and let the accumulated pain and stress of the day flow down and through me. My body isn’t the same one I had when I was 22. I didn’t fit in my body then. I do not fit inside my body now but this is the body I have so I’m going to do what I can while I still have it. Because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. My family used to have a YMCA membership. We decided to give it up for financial reasons but I’m going to get it back. During the summer I took my girls swimming a couple times after I got off of work. It was good mother/daughter bonding time and hanging out at the Y gave us something to do that wasn’t staring at a screen. I like the person I am at the Y. That person has friends. She knows people and she feels more like part of a community than some other places she goes.

I have to be careful with my money because I don’t have a lot of it. Some of it has already been earmarked for other goals and I don’t want to end up like so many other people I know. Old and fearful of what my financial future holds. Now that I just said I want to work on money management I have to confess that I bought myself a new purse when I took my children back to school shopping. It’s nothing real special but it’s something they helped me pick out and I’ve always wanted to be one of those women with the cute purse and the nice wallet. I see those women shopping. They stand tall. They’re confident. Their hair and clothes are in order and maybe I don’t spend much on clothes but I also go around looking like I’m ready to scrub the floors or clean the garage so that’s something I’ve been working on too.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About myself and how I perceive my life. I’m not trying to reinvent myself and my identity exactly but I am going to try and do things differently because I don’t like myself and the way I am right now. The other night I was listening to the radio and the DJ was talking about famous authors who acted on advice they had received. One of the women mentioned that someone had told her that she should think about who she is now and she should ask herself if she died today would that be the way she wanted people to remember her.

That really hit me. If I died today would I want people to remember me the way I am now? I thought about that for a while. I thought about being 22. I can’t go back but I can try and make some changes that will affect me and my family positively. I admit I have a lot of faults. I have a lot of things that need working and it’s hard for me to prioritize what I should be working on first. Losing weight is a big (pun intended) goal of mine. It’s hard for me not to turn to things like food and alcohol as a way to escape. I have changed in a lot of ways since I started working. Even since I joined Everything2 just a few short months ago I’ve seen myself change.

Part of me can’t believe I’m where I’m at today. Superficially I probably look okay in terms of my life. I have what most people would call a nice house. My car isn’t new but it’s still nice. This is shallow and superficial of me but I love cars and having a nice car is important to me. I love to drive and I really want a new car so that’s another one of my goals but I’m going to have to wait for a while on that one. Working has been good for me in some ways. Not so good in others. I really forgot how many men live in this world and I think I must view myself differently than they do. One of my neighbors asked if I’d stop by a store at the mall. I work at the mall and she wants a Brett Favre jersey for one of her grandchildren. I have a friend I can tell things to. I was telling her that what I really wanted to do was go out on a date and have a good time. The guy I was talking to about the Brett Favre jersey was really nice to me. I don’t know how the conversation got to be an age discussion but he mentioned that he was 26 and I knew where he was going with that statement when he told me I didn’t look my age. I have a 26 year old brother. This guy isn’t anything like my brother but talking with him made me realize that there are a lot of men out there who are willing to overlook things like a few extra pounds and a shit job at the mall.

This is the kind of thing that can be very dangerous and I’m not pretending I don’t know that. I haven’t seen the guy who can get a hold of the Brett Favre jersey recently. I’m not purposely avoiding him just like I’m not avoiding the guy who works at the Apple store but these men are out there. I think about them and I do want friends I can go out with and hang out with. For the most part I get along better with men than I do with women and I really don’t know why that is. I work with four nineteen year old guys. I work with two sixteen year old girls and I can talk to the guys for hours and the girls for maybe a minute or two. It seems like I never have anything to say to the women who are my age and I have even less to say to teenage girls. Whenever they’re around I feel tense, uncomfortable and the exclusion might be more in my mind than actual but I feel it and I feel acutely uncomfortable around the women who grab their nice purses and drop keys to expensive vehicles inside.

School is starting soon. Now that I have a job I won’t be able to volunteer the way I used to and that’s probably a good thing. I have a tendency to lose focus and get wrapped up in projects I shouldn’t have committed to in the first place. Having a job gives me a chance to say no to things I don’t want to be doing but it also limits me because there are things I would like to do at school. Trying to maximize some of my strengths and minimize some of my weaknesses has been exhausting. I’ve always had trouble sleeping. It seems like I’m always waking up way before my body is ready to and I’ve been better about exercising but I’m still not where I want to be either. I’ve made a list of goals and I want this list to be reasonable and attainable but I also need it to be challenging.

I want to: Eat better. Eat less. Keep walking. Join the Y again. Add some exercise plan to the walking routine. I’m getting a cleaning lady. If I’m going to clean all day at work I’m not going to clean at home. This is something I can budget for. I can also tell people I want money for a cleaning lady come Christmas time. I want to go to one of the overseas nodermeets. I’ve never been out of the country and this is something I really want to save for. It’s a goal of mine but unfortunately it’s not going to be very high on the priority list right now. Part of it is the shit economy. Part of it is I already have things I need to spend my money on and the other part is I expect prices to rise even further. I want to be proactively saving for that eventuality. That’s another of my goals. I want to be proactive instead of reactive. I want to have thought about things. I want to have planned for them. Life has a way of handing out the unaccustomed but if I can plan for the things I know about I’ll be better equipped to deal with the things I don’t know are coming.

So that’s my plan. That’s the thinking and feeling behind it. This is something I started a few days ago. It’s still something I’m thinking about and I hope it’s something I can actually execute. I have some other goals but those are the main ones for now. I feel like I haven’t really resolved anything but I do feel that this is a step in the right direction so for now I’m going to mark this as progress. Hopefully one day soon I’ll look back on this as a list of things I can cross off as accomplished parts of my regular routine. If not, I hope I won’t be too hard on myself because that’s another thing I have to work on too. As always. Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

jessicaj

I work in a public building, a science museum.

Today I saw this: a mother stepping into one of the building's three-decade plus-old phone booths, holding her cell phone in one hand, for purposes of explaining the push-button phone in the booth, for the benefit of her children, who had never seen a pay telephone before in their six years on this planet.

Some teachable moments don't require a Van de Graaff generator.

The economy has hit everyone hard. Well, everyone who hasn't lost track of how many houses they own, anyhow. It's particularly hard on freelancers. I'm on a bunch of writers' lists; one woman lamented that, as a full-time writer, she's paying out $17,000 per year on health insurance. Not health care, mind you, just insurance. She's done the math and the alternative would be much worse. For every author raking in the mad cash like Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer, there are 1,000 more novelists praying that the 4-months-late royalty check or story payment will arrive and the electricity won't get turned off.

So, the vast majority of us have day jobs. I'm in the particularly weird situation that my day job, although it has excellent health insurance, doesn't pay for a frugal adult lifestyle. One of my coworkers lamented he hasn't been able to find a second job, and the bills keep piling up. He's smart, educated, very pleasant, conscientious, dedicated, married, his wife works, and his kids have left the nest. He always brown-bags his lunch, and he has a 10-year-old car. He's been at the university for probably twenty years now, and has hit the magical age where he's experiencing age discrimination in any job he applies for.

A guy like him shouldn't be in this position.

I directed him to the tutoring service (thanks, Lometa!) that I've had as my third job for the past year. It doesn't pay that well, but it does pay, and at least I have the sense that I'm helping someone. So between my full-time job during the week and my 10-hours-if-I-can-get-'em tutoring job on the weekend, I write. I need to write at least three pages a day to comfortably meet my next novel deadline, and I also pick up nonfiction freelance (thanks, smartalix!) when I can. Gary writes his ass off and also stays up late reading manuscripts and writing critiques.

So with 6 different jobs between the two of us, our heads are above water, but just. Things are going well, until they suddenly aren't. So I work as much as I can. Which is why y'all probably won't be seeing much but sporadic daylogs from me. Sorry.

For those that are interested, Spellbent will be out in probably the fall of 2009. I'll let y'all know, even though a few of you have made it clear that you see such announcements as some kind of unseemly bragging. Sorry, but it's my life.

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