Tag Archives: Capitalism

Day 6 of Year 40: Things Are Looking Up From Here

In the interest of keeping this blog space for reals, I’m going to be honest and say that the last week has really sucked. Starting with my job-related meltdown during a supposedly romantic walk with my wife through the second I’m-all-alone-on-my-40th-birthday meltdown and ending with my third I’m-a-big-baby-and-nobody-loves-me-because-I’m-fat-and-work-at-Caribou-Coffee meltdown Saturday morning, this past week has been a giant crap sandwich of self-pity and self-loathing. Cue the Marilyn Manson soundtrack, or maybe the Smiths for those of you who kick it old school.

Let me go back a bit. Since March, when we knew we were moving to Minnesota, I’ve been praying for a job that will allow me to relax, have fun, get my smile back, and let me have my home time be home time. This is not a teaching job. I prayed specifically for a job in a bar or a coffee shop. I preferred one that was close to home. When I got to Minnesota, I started my job search by applying for teaching jobs, and not getting any, I started looking at other options. I applied at Trader Joe’s (not cool enough to work there after two interviews), I applied at a local brewery (not cool enough to even get an interview), and I applied at Caribou Coffee (where I was hired on the spot). For $8 an hour.

For $8 an hour. This simply wouldn’t do. I needed money. For those of you who know me, this probably seems quite strange, because I am the woman who sees money as green pieces of paper that float in and out of my life like snow. But I need to be able to pay the bills I’ve accrued while attaining my Oh, So Valuable Education. So I balked at this gift I’d been given. A space to relax, to make coffee, to be myself. See I thwarted the desires of my heart from the get go. Somehow working in a coffee shop or a bar seemed beneath my dignity. After all, I do have numerous graduate degrees. Somehow my own self-worth came only through a professional job; we do, here in the US of A, value people based on their livelihood. And I was now a coffee maker, a job I could’ve done straight out of high school. I had bought into all the classist assumptions I’d been taught to deconstruct. Apparently, I thought myself too cool to be working class, and too entitled as well. I deserve to teach because I have the degrees. I bought the system and all the hype I’ve always critiqued. Apparently, I bought into the capitalist machine. My job, whichever cog I was in the machine, determined my value. And I wasn’t a very valuable cog.

But wait.

My value does not come from which cog in the machine I am.

My value does not come from any external source.

My value comes from who I am and how I treat other people.

But I didn’t just get there from my pit of despair. It took some scratching and clawing, some chatting with friends, and some serious soul searching. God had just given me the desire of my heart: a job that doesn’t define me and that doesn’t follow me home. And I told [Them] to piss off about it. Seriously, God had given me what I asked for, and I was more than pissed about it. So, on the romantic walk with my wife, I was upset to the point of emitting a guttural cry. I couldn’t contain it, the tears poured, the sobs surged forth, and my body shook. I was hyperventilating in sadness. The system had betrayed me: I had multiple graduate degrees and I couldn’t find a job. I had played the game, and it screwed me. But wait. I had prayed for this job and gotten it.

So then, on my birthday, which was the day after the Great Deluge, I was all alone. In my house. In Minnesota. And I was turning 40. By myself. Did I mention that I was by myself? And, again, I was pissed and sad, and felt betrayed. I could have gone out and made a day of it by myself. I’m not afraid to be alone, and I’m not afraid to explore on my own. But I chose, instead, to sit in my living room and wallow in my own self-pity. I chose it. Willfully. By the time Bec got home from work to take me out, I was a basket case, and them we went to my favorite restaurant, and it was lovely and the funk started to reside. I made an effort to open my heart on our walk we took after dinner. And it helped.

So then, again, on Saturday when the funk came back, I wasn’t expecting it to manifest in an angry tear against the woman I love, but it did. I was angry at her for bringing me here. And I was angry with her for everything, basically, and it wasn’t her fault. But I said it was. And I was mean and ungrateful. You know, your typical self-centered asshole. And everything fell out: “I am fat, fifty pounds fatter than this time last year. I work for minimum wage at a fucking coffee shop. Do you even want me here? Do you even want to be with me?” Only instead of it coming out like that, it came out all accusatory and ugly and horrible. And we both cried. And it was awful.

But something clicked in me through the day yesterday. And kept clicking. It said to look at the beauty in my life. To focus on what is good and beautiful and wonder-filled.

My value does not come from which cog in the machine I am.

My value does not come from any external source.

My value comes from who I am and how I treat other people.

And right at those moments, my value was swirling around the bottom of the toilet bowl. I’ve been an asshole. You see, I think most people think that moving has been the biggest stress for me, leaving behind family and friends and familiar things. While that has been stressful, my biggest stress has been figuring out who I am again. I have been given this beautiful opportunity to rebuild myself from the ground up and I almost blew it on building myself into the same bitter jackass I was for the past couple of years in Muncie.

So who am I?

I am Corby. I hope to be a triathlete. I hope to be an excellent Caribou employee. I hope to love deeply. I hope to give grace. I hope to show much compassion. And I hope to be able to receive and recognize all the blessings in my life.

In accordance with my goals, I have quit smoking (okay, I had two on Friday Cheat Day); I have quit drinking (okay, I had three beers on Friday Cheat Day); I have a job at the ‘Bou; I went for a bike ride, and I went for a run, and we take a walk every night; and I’m working on the quiet time…

Here’s to love and life and beauty.

Lent Day 28 & 29: All My Stuff, Imago Dei, and the American Dream

I have a lot of stuff. As I write this, I am sitting in a not-so-comfortable chair, suffering God knows what kind of allergies, thinking about how blessed I am. Within my reach, without even moving from this chair, I have books about lots of topics (John Wesley’s Sermons; Living Buddha, Living Christ; Reluctant Pilgrim; The Death and Life of the Great American School System; Revelations; Paradise; The Ask and the Answer; Mockingjay; the Bible), magazines as varied (Runner’s World; Sojourner’s Magazine; The Writer’s Chronicle), and a graphic novel (Billy Fog and the Gift of Trouble Sight). I have an empty (previously full) glass of clean water and a belly full of delicious food. I have clean clothes, electricity, and too many gadgets. I have every tangible thing I could ever want (except for a brand new Nissan Z). I am blessed.

A line near the end of Billy Fog and the Gift of Trouble Sight says, “Don’t waste your time being mean. Just watch—the years go by in the blink of an eye… Be good to your parents, and work hard at school.” For as blessed as I am, and likely you are, I spend an awful lot of time dwelling on those things I don’t have. I could list a handful of things I’d like to go buy if I had the money to. Are any of those, things I need? Not likely. I have a coat for the winter. I have shoes. Lots of shoes. I have so many clothes I can’t wear them all in a week (or probably a month), and I have access to a a washer and dryer in my house, so there’s really no need for it. But I compare myself to the people around me and come up short every time. There is always something I could do better, purchase bigger, be rewarded for more lavishly. Isn’t this, after all, the American Dream? To get ahead?

Sometimes, because they want to get ahead, people are mean. They’ll stop at nothing to get ahead, and before they know it, their lives have passed them by and they’re left with a closet full of clothes, shelves full of books, and enough shoes to outfit the Harlem Globetrotters. I don’t want to be one of those people. I want to live my life with meaning, because it seems fairly simple to “be good to your parents, and work hard at school.” Being good seems fairly simple, but it’s not for me. Being a competitive jerk is much easier, getting caught up the capitalist snare of trying to do better than those people around me until I no longer recognize myself or the imago dei inside of me. I lose sight of God in me. I can’t recognize the divine in myself, but I can see that my friends’ shoes are cooler than mine, that I don’t have the latest fashions, or that I need one more book. That’s the big one for me: books.

“Don’t waste your time being mean.” Instead, use your time to rediscover the image of God inside you, hiding there beneath all the layers of excess that have built up around you. Shed the American dream for the imago dei.

*

On a personal note, I’ve been in an athletic slump for about three weeks. I haven’t run in at least as long, and I have a 9 mile race in two weeks. I doubt that’s going to happen, and I seriously doubt the 13.1 miles that are supposed to happen in May are going to happen. Some prayers would be appreciated on the exercise front. In order to help hold myself accountable, I signed up for this College Swim Trip from March 26 to April 27. During that month, I am supposed to swim a total of 57 miles, the distance from Ball State to Butler. My goal is to run 2 miles and swim 2 miles each morning. That’s an hour of swimming and a half hour of running, which isn’t really too much to ask, right? I’m really not sure why I’ve been in such a funk. Here’s to healthy eating, healthy exercise, and to mental and spiritual health.

Peace.