A lot’s happened in the past couple of months. Most of it has been negative, but I’ve been trying to take these experiences and swing them on their heads. Every experience brings about something new, gives you new knowledge, or spawns a change in perspective. I mostly believe that. I think about these experiences when I write.
In October, my mom went to the doctor with a hoarse voice. We’d both been sick in August and she’s been a smoker for roughly 50 years. Her primary care doctor brushed her off and told her not to worry about the hoarse voice based on these facts. In October, she decided he was an idiot. And it’s a good thing – after a rush of medical tests, she had vocal chord surgery a month ago, on my dad’s birthday. She had suspicious tissue. It was precancerous and questionably turning into carcinoma. She’s been about a month now without smoking, after FIFTY years. I’m so proud of her. She still doesn’t have her voice back and although she’s hoping to go back to work the end of December, my family isn’t sure how it’s going to pan out. She has a very public, stressful job that requires a lot of speaking. A lot of smoking triggers. I’m trying to keep calm about this, not worry.
I lost an uncle to cancer in May 2015. It started in his liver and spread to the rest of his organs. He died on an emergency operating table, probably aware that he was sick, but he didn’t have the support network he needed to want to get help – my parents cut off contact after he destroyed one of their apartments, even though he was… I don’t know if autistic is the right word. He was never diagnosed with anything, he could function. He had three wives during his life. He just didn’t think the way you or I do. It’s something my family doesn’t talk about, but his death changed us. The cancer just swept him away before my parents could make amends, before anyone could swallow their pride. If he went to a doctor alone, he wouldn’t understand the results. He’d just lost his best friend, and my parents, and he gave up. I think about him a lot, and how important it is to be open and forgiving. I cried for weeks in sadness and disgust – with everyone – until that sunk in.
My parents hardly understood the results of my mom’s tests – something about stress making everything go in one ear and out through the other. I know they were thinking about him, too. Worrying about bad karma. Bad choices. We get to come back from some of them, but not totally. I have another uncle who isn’t doing so well, and my family is doing what we can this time around.
I want to say thanks to everyone who offered words of support during these times. I really, seriously needed it.
I didn’t get much work done on editing while all of this was going on. I spent a fair bit of time Web MDing. Talking with my family. Reading books to calm down. Stress napping.
Now it seems as though I’m going to be spending some time reevaluating my career… My job, really. I spoke with my boss about my male coworker being paid exorbitantly more than I am and it didn’t go down well. Unfortunately, when you have nothing to justify that kind of pay but gender, those conversations will never go well. I took on a position I didn’t even want and wasn’t compensated fairly for. It physically made me sick. My position hasn’t been as promised since I started. Before signing my contract, management told me about all these great promotion opportunities and… there aren’t any. I got a raise lower than the inflation rate – lower than I ever got in retail – after temporarily assuming the management role of someone who is making 20K more than me now. One of my other coworkers earned a raise around $1.50 before he completed his first year. I heard discussions about people getting 6%, even 10% wage increases. Why am I getting below 1.5%? I had exceptional performance, took on a new role, and the company had its best year. What about when things aren’t going so well? The answers are clear. Even if an offer to reevaluate my pay in 6 months is on the table, it’s all just insulting.
I won’t go on and on endlessly. I’ve reached the point where I’m tired. It’s time to reevaluate and that’s all there is to it. I like my coworkers, but they aren’t going to buy me a house. Pay my student loans. Buy me cheap furniture from Ikea. They aren’t going to make me look back on my life in ten years and feel fulfilled about doing something I love to do, because I’m not. I’m widening my mind, I’m learning – construction is actually very cool, even if hardly anyone knows what they’re doing – but I’m not in a position to build a career. Not because I’m inadequate, but because this industry is biased against females. There’s nothing I can do. A career is important to me. It’s devastating that I’m feeling forced to look into alternatives already, but I suppose it’s got to be fate.
I don’t know if writing books is going to work out for me financially. Writing and editing this one novel has taken the better part of a year – longer, when we consider that I took a long break before getting serious about it. I get marketing. I can do marketing. I can handle the shitty sludge work associated with it because I love spreading ideas and making people ask themselves questions. Books literally (hah) shaped who I am. But until I know that I can hit shelves (digital shelves?) hard and make a living out of it, I need a career.
I have faith that it’s possible – ask anyone who’s ever known me from a distance, and they’ll tell you I need to be writing or working with animals. When I announced that I wrote a book, people came out of the woodwork to say “finally!”
One of the wonderful things about Twitter is connecting with people who feel these same issues every day. Life getting in the way of dreams, having to put other people before yourself. Having to stop and restore yourself before you pop. We get through life’s obstacles and carry on, because this is what we love to do. Thanks for the support.