Out of Town

My favorite thing about Jimmy being out of town is that I get to pee with the bathroom door open; my least favorite thing is everything else.

Our 8th anniversary fell in June of this year; we went to our favorite deli and ordered pastrami sandwiches. I try not to take for granted the times when we’re together, since most of our relationship we haven’t been. Long distance was manageable but not desirable — seeing each other once every week, then once every two weeks, then finally 3 times a year when he first moved to California, always looking forward to a time we would see each other more often. We learned to communicate via text, call, and FaceTime, and I learned to keep myself busy.

Years later, we live together. I see him before I leave for work, and as soon as I come home. Sometimes there’s even spaghetti boiling on the stove when I return. It’s the best. I hate being alone, and having a live-in best friend is unbelievable.

He’s visiting family for a few days, and it felt odd having no one home. I ordered take-out Chinese and tried to turn on the TV to watch 30 Rock. Texted him for support. Easier than I anticipated. More difficult to turn it off.

At least I can lay like a starfish in bed.


Aspirations and Things

I’m not sure about aspirations.

In school, I always looked forward to something: college, a degree, graduation, etc. Goals formed naturally, and were relatively easy to achieve in that I knew the necessary steps to take.

I don’t have many goals now. I wake up earlier than I’d like, get my ass kicked at work, come home, spend time with Jimmy; I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, so I just glide along from day to day. My most relevant long-term goals are finishing a crocheted blanket I’ve been working on for 2 years, and folding 1000 cranes for Berlin’s wedding. The stakes are low.

I don’t know if I “aspire” to anything at the moment, and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I feel content but achingly tired. Work really isn’t that fun anymore — I’ve taken blame for too many of others’ mistakes, gone above and beyond to find myself unrewarded, and worked hours of overtime that didn’t make a difference.

The problem with not liking my job is that I don’t know what I would do if I left. I don’t know why type of job I would like, considering my current job sounds perfect on paper. It’s rather soul-sucking.

Since I don’t have any aspirations to work toward, the timeline of my current situation is quite flexible. Part of me believes that because I loved it at one point, things will improve, while the other part tells me they won’t, and the way things are evolving will keep me from ever loving it again.

Rather grim. But I feel rather grim lately. Everything will be fine.

Collective Imagination

Sometimes, it can take 45+ minutes to get to or from work, so I listen to a lot of podcasts.

I like podcasts; they engage me more than music, and usually last almost an hour, so I can listen to a whole episode in one day. I subscribe to quite a few, including Freakonomics, Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, The Moth, and Invisibilia. They update about once a week, but I never run out of episodes.

Anyway, Stuff You Should Know covered folklore for one of their episodes — the hosts, Josh and Chuck, pick a topic each week to research, explain and discuss — and they mentioned something that made me think:

Collective Imagination. What if our imaginations aren’t entirely original, and that humans only have so many basic ideas, and everything else is a modification or addition to those ideas? After some thought, this doesn’t seem too shocking, but I think it’s still an interesting concept. They mentioned that it’s similar to how there are only like 10 possible story arcs, and that every “original” story stems from one of these skeletons.

New Things do exist, but are always inspired, modified, or stolen from something else. I think that’s cool; it connects humanity in an important sense. Certain humans are more prone to think of certain things vs. other things, but all in all, everything came from something else.

After writing it down, it seems understandable and correct, but that boggled me for a while.

Things I’m Thankful For

Things I’m thankful for:
(including but not limited to)

Family by blood
Family by marriage
Friends who have stood the test of time
New friends
Our new apartment
The Oxford English Dictionary
Penelope (my car)
Little Trout Island
70-75 degree weather
Indoor plumbing

And It Will Be Fine

We signed the lease on our new apartment. It’s a little south, and a little west, a little pricier, and a little nicer. I called the Department of Water and Power to shut off our electricity in the current apartment, and to turn it on in the new one, so you know it’s real.

Things are going well.

I only have two days off a week, and they’re almost never in a row, so I have one weekday and one Sunday per week to gather my thoughts, pack my things, buy groceries, run errands, do laundry, and sleep. I’ve been packing little by little, consolidating things I don’t need for the next week into boxes, and trying to label them accordingly. On Friday, Jimmy will go to the new apartment to receive keys and final details, and start moving boxes.

Transitions are weird, and I don’t transition living spaces well. A close friend’s mother once attributed this fear to living with divorced parents in two separate homes growing up, so I attribute it to that too because it’s nice to have a reason for things. Whether that’s the reason or not, I don’t like having my things in more than one place. In a perfect world, I would move everything in one day. On Tuesday everything will be in one place, and on Wednesday it will be in another: nothing pending, and nothing forgotten.

Unfortunately, that’s not how reality works. We will move boxes and bags throughout the next week, prioritizing items based on necessity, and doing without the air freshener, wooden spoons, and flip flops that already made the move.

I like to think I’m not bound to material possessions, and that my identity does not depend upon physical belongings. In that way, I lie to myself. Though I idolize Tibetan Buddhist monks who thrive only on dew and the energy of the universe, I am not that way. I, Hannah Shiff, have a lot of things to move a little south, and a little west, and even though I want all of those things to be in one place at one time, they will not. They will be strewn. And even though I don’t like it, I will be fine. By Halloween, I will live elsewhere, cohabiting with all my things. And it will be fine.

When I Grow Up

Sometimes, I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. At certain points in my childhood, I remember wanting to pursue Optometry, Glassblowing, Teaching, Cake Decorating, Ice Cream Scooping, Museum Curating, Coaching, Cafe/Bakery Owning, Cute Little Shop Owning, and probably other things. As I grew older and learned more things, my ambitions became more vague.

Now I don’t know what I want to do.

When I left college a year or so ago, I thought I wanted to go to graduate school to become an English Professor. Read the books! Learn the things! Enlighten the children!

But then I moved to California and realized how nice it is not to have homework. And then I got a job at a bakery selling cupcakes, and then I got promoted to be something called a Celebration Specialist, which means I get to talk about birthdays and colors and sprinkles and things. One of the weird things I do is talk to people my age about their wedding desserts, baby shower cake, and engagement cupcakes. Yikes! Those are adult things! I don’t do adult things! At least not when I have a choice!

I think I feel uncomfortable with these things because they mean the person has made a decision about the trajectory of their future. Decisions are not my forte. If someone asked me about the current direction of my life, I would say “Well yes, I was planning on eating breakfast this morning, and then later I might take a shower, but I’m ready for coffee and Cinnamon Toast Crunch now, if you are.”

I don’t know if it’s a good thing not to have exact ambitions for my future or not. I don’t know what my life will look like in five years, or even what I want it to look like. In five years, I will be 29. I think people like to consider themselves adults at 29, but I don’t see that happening for me. I like to eat dino nuggets and talk about sprinkles.

10 Things I Learned in Los Angeles

So, I’ve now lived in California for one year. I’ve done a lot of things, learned a lot of things, and observed a lot of things. A compilation:

1. Every person expects and/or demands an individual level of service, and may or may not show you appreciation for it. Some people will take service for granted, and some will express (or simply feel) great appreciation for the same thing.

2. The easiest, fastest, and least gross way to kill a cockroach is with Raid spray.

3. If an individual measures his/her success in money, s/he will never feel content or satisfied. Someone will always make more money than me for “less” or “easier” work. I am not to judge their success, as they are not to judge mine.

4. I don’t prefer to watch TV.

5. Anonymity can cause people to act rashly and viciously to others.

6. Most Los Angeles apartments do not come with refrigerators.

7. Traffic is real. People are generally impatient (See #5).

8. Existing in the world is expensive (See #3). Though expense is subjective, it will always cost something to live in society. (Don’t get me wrong; the rewards are enormous, but knowing that you will ALWAYS expend money, energy, time, etc is important)

9. Though most of the year is mild and pleasant, LA summers are brutal.

10. The protection of animal rights is a luxury. If you have the means to buy products not tested on animals, not eat animals, or not eat products of animals, you have a damn comfy life.