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Posts Tagged ‘census worker’

future cherries

future cherries

Though everything outside this morning was flocked heavier than any christmas tree, it feels like springtime for me.  (It helps that much of last night’s heavy snow has already melted!) Today marks my one year anniversary of leaving Puerto Rico and moving to Utah. It has been a very difficult year, chronicled in my old blog, A Series of Small Failures, which I am retiring today. The main goal in moving to Utah, into my parents’ basement (ouch–how i miss having a great job and a house of my own!), was to get out of the massive debt I was in, mostly due to opening and running my beautiful little organic vegetarian restaurant, Natural High. Rincon, the surfing mecca of the Caribbean, is gorgeous but sparsely populated when the tourists go home, making any business endeavor there impossibly challenging. A year later, I still don’t have a job and I’m still in debt, so when looking at the past year through that lens, I’m still failing. But it feels like time to change. I liked my old blog title originally because I felt like my life was truly a series of small failures. I wasn’t throwing a pity party — it was sort of tongue in cheek, trying to make light of the situation.  I was processing. But it got really depressing.  I like to think that failures are attempts at doing something grand, and I’d rather fail than not try at all. Still, it sounds so negative. And I am shedding that negative persona.

My parents convinced me to come home to Utah last year. Utah was never my home — i grew up in California — but Utah is where my brothers and their families live, as well as my mom and dad. And the offer to live rent free while i got back on my feet, something they’d offered for years, suddenly seemed like the only real option i had if I wanted to really move on. How easy it would have been to stay in Rincon, making the bare minimum to exist and having ample time to take my dogs to the beach every day… But I had depleted my entire life savings betting on myself and my restaurant (FAIL!). Now, that move seems almost prescient — if i was going to lose it anyway (and many people have lost most of their 401ks and other savings in the recent market madness), at least I got to spend it living on a tropical island and trying to build something of value that I owned. Worse than just losing everything I had saved, I actually took out loans to keep feeding the dream. You sort of have to drink your own Kool-aid when in business. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?  I needed to move away, however, to break the connection to my ex, who I owned the restaurant with (imagine working with your ex practically every minute of every day). Plus, I thought getting a job in the states would be easier.

I didn’t think the job would be a problem.  I was a staff writer for Fortune and the San Jose Mercury News. I had tons of experience. But no one would hire me!  Even though I wanted to keep teaching yoga, I didn’t believe i could make anywhere near enough money to pay down my debt by teaching, and eliminating the debt was my primary goal. So I looked for journalism and other writing jobs. I did lots of freelance at first, but the recession hit. I’d apply for jobs and get no response whatsoever. I finally got an interview at a natural foods store for a position in their produce department, but after a three month search, the job went to someone else. Talk about demoralizing. In one of the most surreal events, I applied to be a census worker. I drove to Springville in February to take the test (a Kafkaesque experience in itself). As they hire people based on their test scores, and I had aced the test, I was sure I’d be hired. But I found this out later: when they have a position, they start at the top of the list. They call. If you don’t answer, they don’t leave a message and move on to the next name. After a little digging, I found out that they had tried to call me three times when I was in Connecticut last month working as a personal chef/private yoga instructor for a family–a career that seemed promising for a month or so, but fizzled because I slacked on promoting myself. Alas, there was no cell phone coverage in the home where I was staying and working, so I didn’t even get a missed call notification. I was so hoping for the Census experience because I needed the money — plus I thought it might be fun to write about working for the government. I even thought about joining the Navy Reserve. No joke. I was that desperate. One bright spot during that time: I wrote three articles for Yoga Journal — fun and rewarding.

As if dealing with unemployment and being broke and in debt wasn’t bad enough, we had a family tragedy last summer that made everything else seem unimportant. When my nephew died, I sank into such a deep depression that I really didn’t care about finding a job or pitching freelance articles or anything for quite a long time. I am so grateful that I could be here with my family through that, and to this day.

It feels so good to be emerging from that black period. Good things happened, to be sure. Healing happens, slowly. Rededicating myself to my daily yoga and meditation practice has been the key. I also started a daily yoga blog, which i kept up for about two weeks. FAIL! but at least I’ve been practicing every day. Also, feeling loved and accepted by my amazing boyfriend — who stuck with me through all the darkness — as well as other friends I gradually met helped immensely. It’s challenging meeting like-minded souls here in Utah County, but it’s happening.

I am crossing my fingers and praying that i’ll get this really cool job next month that seems likely to be mine.  I’m practically counting the days until I can move out on my own again!  I am talking to yoga studios about teaching again — for love, not so much for money. I finally put a few things up on Etsy, and I’m learning lost wax casting to make unique pieces to incorporate into my jewelry. Despite the desperate state of journalism, I actually was given an assignment last week to write about Iowa and Vermont’s recent same-sex marriage laws for Salon. I can’t even remember the last time someone called me and asked me to write something. Okay, yes, I do: it was my story of resigning from the Mormon Church last November after Proposition 8 passed, nullifying same sex marriages. But before that? It had probably been years since I was asked. As a freelancer, it’s usually the other way around.

So things are looking up. Tight buds are opening, gradually.  I live near an orchard, and on my daily walks past it, I watch the trees blossom. Cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, plums, mulberries. I know them all, as I plundered them freely last summer and fall. I thought the orchard was abandoned, but it turns out that the man who owns it is old and wasn’t able to spray them last year — thank god for that! — so he didn’t bother harvesting them. It seemed such a shame to watch the fruit wither and fall. Those were the best cherries and apples I have ever eaten. Plus it was so beautiful to observe the fruit growing through the months. Perhaps the anticipation of its eventual ripeness made picking and eating it more enjoyable.

It’s still challenging living in my parents’ basement, not having a job, trying to create structure and motivate myself to keep writing and creating jewelry and making my credit card payments. My parents are constantly giving me advice: “Just get a job at a bookstore! Just get any job!” But I’m grateful for the time to cocoon, think and heal. Taking the wrong thing means not being available for the right thing. Which I think this thing is. I hope I hope I hope. Here’s to new beginnings. I miss Puerto Rico. I miss my friends, my yoga teaching, my restaurant, the beach, and the dogs I left behind with my ex. I brought two of them with me, but I only have Pooka left. Gogo seems to be adjusting pretty well to his new home. I still miss him every day.

It’s taken a while, but i finally feel I am blossoming.

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