Thursday, October 1, 2009

I am gonna make it, through this year, if it kills me.

I feel like a crazy person, mostly. It's been a rough couple weeks here for me. I've been generally silent, until lots of wine last night, when some part of me decided I should actually try to process all these thoughts, somewhat logically, instead of continually ignoring them. Every other minute I'm doubting every decision I've ever made in my life, especially the ones that led me to be here. The fact that getting a job was such a mission, and now that getting enough hours to pay rent is another curveball that's been thrown at me, is a bit overwhelming. The amount of money I'll have to pay for my visa and all of the work that goes along with that doesn't help.

These ominous tasks (and pricetags) looming find me looking up jobs on the Portland craigslist more often than not. Browsing E-Access for real jobs wherever. Thinking of other cities in which I'd be happy to grow roots for awhile in America, or maybe not America. Fuck if I know. My point is, I'm having a lot of trouble deciding whether I've made the right decision, whether I'm continuing to make the right one, spending all this money, money I've saved up since I was 17 years old, and not getting much back just yet.

Does the right decision even matter? I'm living in Europe, I'm out of my parents' house, doing cool things. I have a great opportunity, one my parents and most of my friends haven't. Everyone tells me I'm so brave, but I think I'm just really good at leaving. Having to settle somewhere and make things work for more than a year is 100% more terrifying. Once I have a schedule and am more stable in the visa and job department I can start my travels, visit all my friends in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, England, Ireland...

Sometimes I'm sure I hate everything about teaching, that I'm utter crap at it and am wasting everyone's time. It's definitely not my calling, sure. I probably won't continue teaching in this capacity when I get back to the States, but it's hard to tell where it all stands after that. Some days are not so bad and yes, it is a new skill I'm learning and will take some getting used to and of course some practice. The 5000 job rejections didn't quite help my self-esteem, either. I don't think I'm THAT bad of a teacher. I graduated with a Strong Pass, so there had to have been something promising in my brain.

I wrote this in my other journal, but jobs that don't have an end time at the conclusion of the day completely stress me out. I hate that I can always do more, I can always do better. Sometimes I just want the locked door of my workplace to tell me it's out of my hands. You don't get that with lesson planning, and so I am continually very anxious. I always think I'm slacking, whether I am or not doesn't really matter.

I just wish I knew when I was being homesick and when I was being reasonable. Or should I say America-sick? I don't want to go home. It was easier last time I lived abroad. I could channel all of my angst into the fact that I was in a Long Distance Relationship and that it sucked. The fact that we fought every five minutes, that I always felt stressed and guilty, also made it quite easy to displace all my homesickness into general angst, worry and anger. Sure moving to Brighton was hard for awhile, yeah I had the whole relationship thing. I spent many nights crying on the phone, yes. It took awhile to make a group of friends I really identified with or to get to know the ones I did, took awhile to not feel like the token Queer Older American in the mass of first years, to stop caring, to realize which friends weren't the right ones. No language barrier though, however hilarious British-English might be for me at times ("Did you say fairy cakes?!"). Culture not that different. Not as hard.

Now that it's fall, I've been missing a lot of things. I miss "Crazy Wednesday" $1 lattes at the Elbow Room. Parties in the Friedmans. I miss being able to find kale everywhere, the food co-op, the forest and mountains in Massachusetts, bonfires on the beach on Long Island. Triple ristretto espresso at Northampton and Amherst Coffee. The crisp scent of autumn in Massachusetts and being surrounded with intelligent, assertive, often half-naked women at Smith College. The rock-climbing wall, canoeing for free in Paradise pond. All things that are free, actually.

I don't miss the work and honestly, Northampton is one of the last places I'd want to be this year (after Long Island and other cities that are mostly conservative and plagued by large amounts of traffic jams). Sure, I'd love to visit my friends that still go to Smith, but living there would not be good for me this year and I know that.

Sometimes I also miss the progressive nature of Northampton. I miss seeing girls holding hands, feminist boys, locally grown food, bike kitchens, catching masses of people hula-hooping in the park as I'm walking back home. Prague is great, yes, and I'm sure the language barrier keeps me from understanding a lot of what's going on around me, really taking it in and understanding what the city feels like to someone who isn't a little English-speaking expat girl from America, but it's depressing sometimes to see just little inklings of progressive ideas here and there when I'm used to having it in my face everywhere I go like it was in the Pioneer Valley. True to its name, "Northampton: Where the Coffee is Strong and So Are the Women." Sure, there are a lot of ignorant rich hipster kids, a lot of sheltered girls only at Smith because they hate or are afraid of men, but it was nice always being inspired like that. Prague has a lot of potential, I've got to throw it a bone, saying that communism just ended in 1989. Welcome to the Real World, Nicole.

I think I'm just having a quarter-life crisis. Adjusting here is hard, especially with all the bureaucracy bullshit, but realizing that I actually have to figure out what I want to do with my life, that there is no more structure lining my future, is harder. This was it, the last plan. I just wish I felt more confident about the teaching thing. Having to fight so hard and spend so much money for it when I'm not even sure I'm good at it or want it is rough.

If my visa situation doesn't work out, I think my plan is to travel west through Europe and visit all my friends, fly back to NY, see East Coast friends, then drive out to the West Coast (probably Portland) and get a job, make friends, live life. I'd feel pretty upset and defeated if I spent all the money and effort here just to have my visa get rejected, but it's good to have a backup plan.

I have my entire life to live in America. I just can't decide between what I want and what I think I should do. It's a fine line, you see.


  1. you're such an awesome writer nicole. i completely understand how you feel now too- change always seems so desirable and exciting until you get what you dream and then real life things happen that are difficult and make it so much less dreamy. stupid jobs. stupid visas. stupid yet splendid life :)

  2. That's the thing. I'll spend all day convinced I should leave, then a night, a sunset in the vineyard, a guy playing fetch with his dog in the bar, will convince me I should stay just a little longer. Goddamnit.