“Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters.”

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Last year, I quit my job.

I put my notice in during March 2021, and my last day ended up being the last day of that June. Others thought I was being uber secretive about moving to a different, but similar place. Though, for some, I told them at face value I was quitting to pursue my dreams. I told my coworkers, “Maybe you’ll see me back in a year.” All the while, my goal would be to never to return. That said, I am incredibly thankful for the place I worked for during the pandemic because I lived a pretty cushy life during that time.

Now, now – I am not a fan of Elon Musk. (I am not the sort of person who dislikes a person just because a person is a billionaire.) However, he is attributed to saying:

Most people will panic to find a charger before their phone dies. But won’t panic to find a plan before their dream dies.

Elon Musk (maybe)

That said, once I had the time to myself I realized I had some obstacles – some ghosts – you could say. Though this blog entry has a happy ending, I promise.

FIro, “Everything’s looking up, I assure you.”

In pop culture and folk tales, ghosts haunt creepy houses at night, appear in old photographs of church picnics, are glimpsed in the rain-lashed beam of a headlight on a country road amid endless fields of corn. In life, they arrive when you are emptying the dryer at ten a.m.

Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Way the Crow Flies

And I found that ghosts are rather difficult to find and exterminate when they had an opportunity to enter to every routine one would ever have in daily life. The plans of attack included, but were not limited to:

  • Talk about them as much as possible – eventually the ghosts will get boring.
  • Create as many new memories as possible to shuffle the ghosts as far back as possible. Like cards. (And that’s a theory of mine for another entry in the form of an analogous fairy tale I made The Two Brothers.) I was going to do that in the form of traveling to very different places of the world. That was going strong until… 2020.
  • Do things that would be likely to contrive a engage a fear response within me. [You see, I was feeling quite adrenaline-like.] I reasoned that any fear responses that I had programmed within me would then be paired with those new contrived experiences, and once I disengaged from those experiences then BAM – all of the adrenaline responses are done.
    That was one of the main reasons I went to Syria back in 2019 – I thought, “While there I’ll either be afraid or I will have a lot of fun and have good memories. A Win-Win.” Well, I ended up having a lot of fun and great memories. That said, that trip was a bit of a calculated risk: I had read enough information suggesting that it was reasonably safe, so going there was likely to be safe despite current stereotypes.
Coco at Krak des Chevaliers, Syria; Coco really loved it there
  • However, I have found plenty of use out of watching gameplay of horror games on YouTube. Me: How to combat horrible memories? Watch a horror movie or game! Then your repetitious thoughts will leech onto that for a while.
  • I also practice gratefulness and visualizing my dream future: I am thankful that Coco is healthy, I am thankful that Austin is loving, I am thankful that Howl is playing, I am grateful that I get to sleep whenever I want, I am grateful for every moment that Uncle Iroh squeaks at me…
  • Actively pursuing my dreams. Big dreams. Little dreams. That’s what life is for, isn’t it? There is no time to be “realistic” in life. Though, I think, most people need to do more hyper-introspection over what their dreams truly are. For example, do you actually want to be the richest person in the world or do you want the results that kind of come with that? (That said, it is entirely possible that within introspection one still wants to be the richest person in the world as a true dream that you know will be part of making you happy. Because, perhaps to you, it is more about simply accomplishing that goal to know that you’re the kind of person that can become the richest person in the world.) My point is, I don’t think a lot of people think about their dreams and why they have them.

One of my dreams has been to fly (as in, be a pilot). I have been meaning to take lessons since I was 17. And for one reason or another… other things have taken precedent. And unfortunately, some of things that took precedence were not part of my dreams. I realized that one day. However, having entered the pilot community as a student, I have found that a decent amount of pilots aim to be airline pilots. I think a lot look at me with incredulity when I say that I have never seriously thought about doing that because I think it would incredibly impede my freedom. My only reason to become an airline pilot, an international airline pilot, would be to travel the world. I can completely do that now.

  • Cull anything that could potentially the current peace I feel. I’ve learned and cemented the lessons from way back when I was a teenager by deviating from this I suppose.
  • That said, further help in my ghost busting quest came from an unlikely source:
Dio Jojo GIF - Dio Jojo Youre Approaching Me - Discover & Share GIFs
Jojo Jjba GIF - Jojo JJBA Stardust Crusaders - Discover & Share GIFs
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Phantom Crusaders Arc

You see, even when stories are fiction, stories can help during dark times when it’s difficult to be optimistic. I originally started watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure several years ago, but then stopped because I became so demoralized by the villain. Even with the fantastical elements within the series, the villain’s personality is rather realistic, and it hit a bit too close to home. I am not sure why or how I decided to get back into the series, but I did this last year and I am so glad I did. Spoiler: the villain is finally beaten and it is ultra satisfying. I suppose I needed to see that sort of villain beaten, and me spoiling that does not ruin the series at all. (I know because I had to look it up prior to resuming the series.)

I suppose too, it also helped that some of the dialogue from within the show is rather mentally intrusive. Whenever a ghost would pop up in my life, Jojo dialogue would be in my head and scream louder than the ghost.

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Being an Adult is Hard

But he did not understand the price. Mortals never do. They only see the prize, their heart’s desire, their dream…

But the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted.

Neil Gaiman, Dream Country

Over the past two months I was on a job hunt. I had left my previous job, one of two jobs I had ever felt at home and happy. Though, things change.

That’s the way life is.

The interviews I subsequently participated in, I made it through the first “stage” in all. (I specify first “stage” because, with one, I chose not to go to the second portion of the hiring/interview process where I would meet and shadow the rest of the team, since I accepted the position I am now about to start. Who knows?! Perhaps there would have been a chance that the one company would not have loved me after that.)

Now, I have watched a lot of YouTubers lately: others’ advice on fashion, on travel, and on random things. During all this, I thought, “Anna should never give interview advice, especially on YouTube.”

I do not interview like your stereotypical candidate. Sure, I’ll dress up.

But, I am animated. My gestures are all over the place. I say things like, “Du-du-du!” happily. I clap when the interviewer says something I feel like clapping to. I feel the glinting behavior in my eyes.

I am myself, I try to be as genuine as I can and will be, and I have a lot of eccentric behaviors.

Some people consider me traveling with a Coco to other countries an eccentric behavior.

The position I have now, one of the interviewers (out of the group of four) gave me the introduction about the interview, and included the line that went something like,

“We’ll see if you are a good fit for us.”

I replied, “I can fit in anywhere.”

That said, post interview, I thought, “I do not think I would fit in very well in a drug cartel. Would that have been appropriate to say? Maybe saying I could fit in anywhere was too bold because now they could possibly think I’d fit in with a drug cartel. But oh man, I would not do well during a drug cartel interview…”

Drug cartel interviewer (DCI): “So, you can fit in anywhere?”

Me: “Yes!”

DCI: “That’s great! We are looking for people who can blend in and get our product to our confidential clients!”

Me: “I’m sure!”

DCI: “How many people have you killed?”

Me: “I… don’t have any experience with that. Do most people who start with you have experience with that?”

DCI: “Not everyone. But the ones that don’t have experience make up for it with a past of money laundering, blackmail, forgery…”

Me: “I see.”

DCI: “You look a little uncomfortable.”

Me: “No, no, not me. I never get stressed. As we discussed earlier…”

DCI: “You seemed to get uncomfortable when I mentioned killing.”

Me: “I guess I’m just nervous about not having had any experience. You guys are the best, so if you take me on I’d make sure to learn! It’s the job!”

DCI: “So, you lied a bit ago when I pointed out that you looked uncomfortable.”

Me: “This isn’t going to end well for me, is it?”

DCI: “Find comfort in that things may not have ended well for you even if you had never attended this interview.”

Me: “Yeah, I know.”

I get really into thought experiments sometimes.

Anyway, the point is I do a lot of things during interviews that most people would never recommend.

Later on, I was asked about how I have dealt with disagreements with coworkers coworkers/disagreeable coworkers. Within my explanation, I inserted, “Being an adult is hard. I do it, because that’s all you can do. But that is something that’s been hard on me.” I thought then, how that answer applied to all aspects of my life, not simply work.

It made me feel happy though, too, that I could be honest about all of these things and still be invited to work with the company. Those little things that mean a lot.

Last year, I broke my streak of being an adult.

Me: I can just use ABA to help fix this.

OP: But, this is your life. […] You always seem so happy. What you are doing is a lot of work.

Me: I have to try.

Summer 2018

I broke it in many ways. I should mention, being an adult is awful.

Being an adult is being free to be your own person. You are free to find your treasure of happiness in that cave in the mountain yonder.

However, it is also figuring out how to find joy while swimming in the oceans of sadness en route. It is trying to figure out how to make a raft to get above when you cannot see anything to use.

Now, I am not saying every adult is swimming through an ocean of sadness. I am saying that the adult thing to do is: 

if and when 
you get to that particular ocean, 
you have to keep up the appearance 
that everything is dandy.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you eventually get to say that there was a time you crossed a sad ocean, and tell what was in that sad ocean.

Like, I can say that when I was young and smaller my family was on a bus that got hijacked in the Philippines. I cried and asked for the hijackers not to kill my father when they put a gun to his American head. I learned early on that I was incredibly cute and could counter terrorists.

But I can’t say openly what happened when I lived in China, nor the last time I went to Korea. I can’t openly say what happened since I moved back to the States. Most of my entire life is hidden in darkness. Stating this is not very adult of me.

The interesting thing is, that on my death bed, I will likely say that all of the pain, the chaos, darkness and light, ugliness and beauty, and the things that have ripped me apart and taken parts of me were all worth it. I have gotten to see darkness that no one else has ever gotten to see. On the flip side, I have seen miracles happen against all odds. I have experienced the extreme colors of the world. Its violets and horrors.

There is a sense of vanity, I feel, in that.

However, at the end of the day, I want to come back to peace. Like, a Home Base Peace: Find your calm here! 

I am hoping to figure that out this year. While being as adult as I can.

A soul’s made of stories. Not atoms.

Everything that ever happened to us – people we loved, people we lost… people we found again against all odds.

Doctor Who, The Rings of Akhaten