com·pe·tence

Journal

It’s been eleven days since I’ve seen a familiar face-

My voice shakes when I talk now. My arms hesitate when grabbing something. Unsure of every action I take.

I’m hungry all of the time. I am scared of the world around me. I am afraid of the future.

I have never been this way before.

At night when I need to cry, I can’t. I want everyone around me to like me, my roommate most importantly. I don’t want to annoy anyone.

Even when they eat my food and use my things, I keep quiet. I know they’re using me. I just want somewhere I belong.

Aside from the community garden below my building, I have no where that is my own. Temporarily the elevator is, until the doors slide open and another set of legs walk into my space. And then I must attach the face, and straighten the spine, and god forbid, smile.

I do not feel like smiling. I feel like locking myself in a room and eating. Eating. Eating. Eating. That uncontrollable urge to shove as much food into my face as I can until I choke, hoping I get fat, hoping I lose this feeling, hoping I feel full and content and happy.

But I won’t. I never do.

I’ll continue feeling out of place, a puzzle piece in the wrong box. 6/7 days of the week, I wish I were back making popcorn and doing what I knew. I was good. I was capable.

I am not capable here.

Instead, I pour coffee before it’s done brewing. I drop croissants. I can’t understand my French roommate. I can’t figure out where the hell my assignments are posted online. I don’t have enough money. I couldn’t fill FAFSA out properly. I can’t stay in contact with the people I love.

Everything is falling down around me, because of me.

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Resilience

Journal

I need something more to show for my effort in life. I also need to be less passionate about the people I have feelings for. Right? That poses a moral dilemma for me, though. I should allow myself to wholly be myself. But I also like people, and I know I came off too strong with Leo and not strong enough with Tristan- because I was worried about seeming clingy. Now, Jacob has me all mixed up, I don’t know how to act around him- so I was awkward and mixed my words around like a fucking blender. I’m frustrated. This whole situation is frustrating. So he’s gone for a month- to Nevada and then somewhere else (I think Europe..?).

He intimidates me, only 20 and already has a legitimate career because he’s got this incredible brain. He didn’t even have to go to college or anything. That’s a quality I hold in high regard, it’s something that I respect. However, it also means he’s never had a minimum wage job and one can only have so much life expirience without that. That makes him less genuine to me. He’s got this socially awkward thing going on, but gets away with it because he’s attractive and has a sense of style.

Weird thing happened though, after sex he almost cried. He didn’t, but I could see it in his eyes. Maybe he was holding back a sneeze? And he kissed my forehead during sex– which I’m not used to having any sort of emotional connection or attachment and it caught me off guard. But he also hasn’t talked to me for two days straight and he’s supposedly back home packing to move to San Francisco, but I’m not sure I trust him. I don’t know that I believe he’ll see me once he comes back. Maybe I was too cold?? Too harsh? I know I can be. Maybe he just doesn’t like me.

Our interactions made me insecure- I didn’t feel like I was enough. And it didn’t help that I was rude to him. I use it as a defense mechanism when I feel threatened…

When we first started talking two years ago, I felt this same way and it trigger the biggest personality change in me. I grew a thicker skin and overall became resilient. But how am I supposed to know he won’t hurt me like that again and ghost me? I know he mentioned thinking I was less awkward and more attractive than him, but he did it once before.

I would be an idiot to think he wouldn’t.

I learned to put less value on guys perception of me. It would hurt to have him ignore me again. I need validation and hate to ask for it. I wish I was stronger.

de·feat·ed

Journal

I already feel like I have failed, and school hasn’t even started yet. I broke the handle of my first broom the first time I used it. I got lost walking to work. I got lost walking home. I have already started seeing a guy when I had told myself I wasn’t going to see anyone. I haven’t gotten my textbooks or visited my class locations yet, even though I said I was going to. I don’t have a printer to print out my syllabus, so I have to pay to have that done in the library. I forgot to buy the clicker for my anthropology class, and now I’ll be marked as absent on my first day. My first week at work has felt like a disaster, I’ve dropped so many pastries, I’ve messed up the coffee machine and the coffee grinder, I can never seem to remember things when I need to. I click all the wrong buttons on the till. I can’t even figure out how to interact with my roommates, I feel so awkward. I went on a date last night and I don’t know to gauge if it went well or not. It was uncomfortable, but we talked a lot, and I’m not sure if he likes me anymore after as awkward as I was.

I forget to ask for names for drinks at work. I forget to ask if they have a reward card. I forget not to touch my hair and when to check the bathroom. I forget where the honey is kept and to mark drinks as iced instead of hot or if they want the drinks for here or to go. I can’t understand the foreign people who come in, and I don’t know the regular’s drinks. I feel like everyone expects me to fail, and so I am. I talk too much. I’m too anxious.

I need to go somewhere and just cry.

Need to do my laundry, but also want to wait because it costs so much. Everything costs so much. Food, transportation, being clean, homework that I have to print out. I can’t even afford my eating disorder, even though I would love more than anything to binge eat right now. Or to drink. Anything for even just a minimal release. I want to be comfortable, I want to succeed.

But I keep messing up.

o·ver·sight

Journal

This post is dedicated to the things I have learned living in San Francisco these last five days.

When using Uberpool Express, they drop you off a few blocks from where your destination is. At four in the morning, there are homeless people everywhere. They will approach you, they will talk to you, it’s best to minimally acknowledge them and mind your own business. Also, Uber drivers and anyone else sharing the ride do not want to make conversation, put in headphones and stare out the window. Know the streets, know which direction they run, if you are lost there and do not have a phone on you, you’re fucked. Even the streets near my apartments run in funny directions and change unexpectedly.

Human kindness is far from dead, however, there are times and places in modern society where we omit using it to preserve ourselves. For instance, my roommates are incredibly kind. Some people who extend themselves in the elevator of my building are genuinely nice. Even the homeless lady who chills outside the coffee shop I work at is kind. But there are a lot of people who are not, and that is why we wear defensive masks.

At work, it is important to not press the ‘tender’ button before finishing ringing a guest up. It means you can’t change the order and need a manager’s approval to do anything else. Avoid at all costs.

It is also important to know how to make coffee, seeing as we are a coffee shop. To make coffee, you have to

  1. take off metal lid
  2. dump old grounds out
  3. put in new paper filter
  4. pour in coffee grounds from drawer directly under the medium roast
  5. Pull oldest dated coffee grounds first, generally located in the front of the drawer.
  6. Move hot water wand over the grounds and press the ‘start’ button
  7. set alarm for 35m
  8. Place metal lid over grounds
  9. Make new batch after alarm has gone off

If someone orders a Cafe Au Lait, you have to prep the cup for the barista. If someone orders a black coffee with an added shot, you have to prep the cup for the barista. If someone orders any black coffee or tea, you grab it right away. Don’t use concentrated tea for plain teas – they are reserved for our fog drinks. When someone orders a pastry, grab it from the trays below the pastry case before grabbing from within the pastry case. Always ask for a name for the order. When doing condiment checks, make sure all kinds of milk are more than half full. Refill sugar with the bag under the condiments. When that runs out, there is a key to the right of the espresso machine that unlocks cabinets in the lobby that have more sugar.

Side note: If you start brewing a new roast of coffee in the machine, you have to rinse it out before making the new batch.

When filling the pastry case, handle the fresh pastries carefully because you don’t want to spoil any of them out.

Also, we don’t sell bagels.

When guests check in on their app, you have to press two separate buttons to complete the order so it will disappear.

Our bacon and cheddar on brioche smells heavenly when coming out of the oven.

The most important thing is to multitask, to be friendly, and to learn. People are going to be rude. You are going to be miserable. You don’t know how to do everything right now, you feel vulnerable. But it is okay, no one knows everything all at once.

When swiping the magnetic strip to get into the apartment complex, swipe in front, not underneath the strip. It reads it right away instead of taking forever. The lobby doesn’t have cell service, which means you can’t get an uber from the safety and comfort of the warm sofas.

Rides to work take about thirty minutes, twenty-five if the driver is a local and doesn’t care about traffic violations.

Living in the city costs a lot of money. Everything is constant. Draining.

Roommates are nice. Play cards, share joints, a bowl, watch the news, cry together over being scared.

I live in a world full of endless possibilities, as well as countless errors.

I keep making mistakes, yet there is always something that makes me stay.

Like the way that my roommate calls home as I go to bed, and she speaks French to her parents in an eloquent and speedy fashion- the way that only French can do.

It is beautiful.

And yet it is also true that when I walking in the early hours of the morning, there are countless people who try to intimidate me. So I carry a knife in my pocket, ready for the moment I will need to show I’m not afraid. Even though I am terrified of what could happen to me, that no one would really know where to find me. Hell, I didn’t even know where I was. The corner of Which Direction Am I Facing and Is That a Corpse or just Someone Sleeping on the Street.

This city scares me. Full of strange people, angry people.

Today I learned that I can get to my destinations on the first try, which was a first for me. I’ve learned that for me to remain sane, I have to focus on the moment. Looking back tortures me. Tomorrow scares me. The moment I am living in is intoxicating and invigorating enough as it is.

I’m trying to not think about him because when I do it reminds me of the unbearable pain I feel from the distance. For the first time, I wish I didn’t feel this way about him. I wish it would just go away. I feel like a part of me has been forcibly removed.

So, for the sake of growing up and being mature, I’m going to ignore this in my daily life. I’ll wake up at four a.m. and wait for my Uber. I will walk on littered streets before the sun has risen, head held high, knife in hand, and I will ignore that ache I feel. And when I am walking home, and I see the daisies and they make smile, I will quickly stop when I remember I was smiling at the thought of you. The daisies remind me of you. And so does the morning mist that falls on my face. The lone street lamp at the corner. But the worst was the man with your face today because I couldn’t look away. It was intoxicating, frightening, I was looking at your ghost. Remembering you.

be·lov·ed

Journal

I fell in love with a boy in this small town. I didn’t believe in love at first sight before him- but I can still tell you the first time I looked in his eyes. It felt like some monumental moment had happened, something that would change the course of history.

Today I said goodbye to him, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

I got to meet his dog and play on his piano and listen to him play. I got to look out on the hills and valleys with him and the wind tossed my hair. We ate ice cream and listened to our music. We hugged. We said goodbye.

I don’t know if he was sober enough to remember holding me while we watched Eighth Grade, but he held my hand the entire time. And kept his arm around my shoulder.

I remember showing up after his shift with his favorite coffee. Stargazing underneath the posters outside the theatre, by his bike. It was chilly. We went to the grocery store together. He blew vape into my face in the dark parking lot; I could spend every day with him and not get bored.

And the time I wrote him that letter I wasn’t sure I’d give him- I stuffed it behind the cover of “All The Light We Cannot See”, the book I was reading at the time. He pulled it from my hands and I took it as a sign from Fate herself, and told him to open the cover. The letter I had written him, his name on the outside and all, fell into his hands.

The time he came to my apartment and we nearly had sex, but he stopped it from happening. That was good, things would have been too complicated between us.

If all this means nothing, then I’ve been played.

It’s time to let go of the pipe dream that was Leonardo – accept that I will be living far from him. I love him. I might always love him.

But I have to grow now.

Leonardo

Journal

The things I feel around you, I can’t describe. I could have been stressing about the world ending, but suddenly when I’m with you none of that matters. The moment we are sharing is the only thing that exists and it is beyond beautiful. It is beauty. It is the embodiment of perfection.

I hope I always remember the way you smelled when my head was on your shoulder tonight. I hope I always remember how right it felt for you to be holding my hand. I hope I always remember melting into your shoulder as you run your fingers through my hair. Your laughter made me laugh. Your happiness is my happiness.

And yet the time we have left has already been bought and sold like an animal headed to the slaughter house. It’s death is eminent. The rendezvous we had today is only a taste of the happiness I could have felt everyday.

What is most torturous is knowing how unlikely it is that I will feel this way again with someone else. And you only desired it when you knew how the days were numbered and stacked against your favor.

It will be a loss for you, to not have a girl at work who is insane for you. Not the way that I was.

The way I feel for you doesn’t happen often. What most people call love, that’s just a cheap imitation of my feelings for you.

Every second I spend in this town without you, I remember the agony you placed on me by standing me up.

Which is proof enough that whatever you feel for me, however fond you feel toward me, it won’t ever compare to the reality of you in my mind.

After the movie was over and done with, and you were in the restroom, I heard people talking about how annoying “the guy laughing in the back” was – and all it did was make my heart glow because I knew that guy. I knew him, and I had been the one laughing with him. There was pride in it, and I smiled to myself as they walked by.

That annoying laugh, I got to hear for a year at work. I got to roll my eyes at it. I got to smile to myself when I heard it reverberate through the halls of Galaxy.

I got to roll my eyes at the voice singing and take let it take my breath away. Not because it was abnormally beautiful, but because I was absolutely head over heels with that guy. That loud, selfish, unobservant guy.

Our time is up, and the argument could be made that nothing ever became of us, but to me- this was the greatest love story of all time, with a heart wrenching and gut twisting ending.

Maybe I’ll write a book about you one day, Leo. You better be prepared.

/brēf/

Journal

My life is on the verge of starting a new chapter – but it’s honestly more dramatic than that. I know what new chapters feel like, this is like the beginning of a second book. I know myself better than ever, about to move out alone for the first time. No more Riley to hold my hand through life – I’ll be alone. In San Francisco. No partner, no family, nothing.

I’ve got an apartment, roommates, a new job, enrolled in a university. I have no idea what life is going to be like, but I’m hopeful. Before yesterday I was just a ball of stress, I didn’t think my family supported my decision, but I got a card from my Grandma. It had a check for $1,000 and it was a game changer. I deposited it directly into my savings and that shit is not going to be touched. It’s my emergency fund. I had saved more than that, but it was gone within a week after I had to pay rent for two places, deposits.

I was terrified of moving, and then this happened. It was dramatic enough to make me, a staunch atheist, wonder if a higher power existed. I had no money, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy groceries and had been eating free popcorn and chips from work. For a week.

Overnight I had my savings back, that I had been working on for a year, saving every penny I could. I’m going to continue doing that, but this is such a boost.

I’m ready to get out of this damn town, I’m ready to fucking fly. Get away from my goddamn demons. All the dumb guys I’ve seen or loved or whatever, I swear I won’t even think about them once I’m gone. I don’t have the headspace for that bullshit anymore.

It’s about survival, thriving in school and at work, molding myself into a person I am proud to be. I’ll get there, I swear to fucking god I will.

I’m ready to prove to everyone who has told me that I can’t, or who gave disapproving looks when mentioned my plans after high school.

Even if I’m living off an EBT card, even if I have to get a student loan and work forty hours a week while in school full-time, I’m going to do it.

Toxic

Journal

I care. Probably too much. He’s not even in my life anymore and I question how genuinely he cared about me. It’s always in the back of my head that he might have just kept me around for someone to fill his time with and sleep with cause technically that’s all we were. Maybe I’m incapable of having something casual and no strings attached. That’s what it was supposed to be.

I’m too emotionally involved. He doesn’t care.

I just need to move on..

but I don’t want to let go of how I feel.

Nothing is worse than caring about someone more than they care about you- but I feel like that sums up how my feelings for people generally play out.

That cavernous ache in my chest is back. I’m alone. I’ll probably always end up alone. The only thing worse than being alone is feeling like you finally found someone and then they just stop being around. Or they never cared about you in the first place.

Reminding myself why I’m not alright, why I haven’t succeeded, why I’m fucked up. Wondering how much of it is a choice. Could I have changed any of this? Is it just my destiny to be a loner?

I guess it’s just who I am. Awkward, dysfunctional, toxic, and in the end, alone.

hear·say

Journal

No matter where you go in life, there will be somebody somewhere who is looking to entice a reaction out of you. Everybody and their mother has an opinion on the way that you conduct your life – and it’s the human condition to be negative unless we are actively working against it. So one can draw the conclusion that most will have a negative opinion of you.

The peanut gallery in your life is probably telling you everything you’re doing wrong – I know mine is. It’s good to glean little bits and pieces of it, so that you don’t lose touch with reality. However too much of it, and you might as well have downed a bottle of arsenic. It’s best to not confront these people, however tempting it might be, because keeping your mouth shut preserves your integrity. I don’t keep my mouth shut often, therefore I have little integrity left.

How am I supposed to keep my mouth shut when my integrity is being threatened? When I have put my life into my work ethic and people begin to criticize it? After I have spent a year planning my life, and the first step I take my family tells me is a bad decision? I have been trying to make the right choices – I am saving money, I am independent, I am going to college, and yet the devil is in the details because I “picked the wrong city” and they tell me they don’t support me, when that is all that I have asked of them.

I haven’t asked for money when I had to eat cold beans out of a can with a make-shift foil spoon. Or when I lived in a fucking shed. When I was walking ten miles a day because I had no car.

Or now, when I have zero dollars in my bank account and cannot afford groceries.

You can talk all that you want about my bad attitude and my resting bitch face, you can complain all that you want about me- if you do it to my face. Right now, left and right, I am hearing about people who talk about me behind my back. I’m hearing from people who feel free to text me about what a terrible person I am and all of the intricate things that they believe are wrong with me- all from behind a screen.

Say it to my face. Look me in the eye and tell me what you think is wrong with me.

Because I bet you’ll see the human inside of me. I bet that you won’t be able to choke those words out, because once you see my face and my eyes and my demeanor, you’ll realize I am more than your opinion of me. I am a complex human, I am more than what you have seen, and there is not a single person on this planet who knows every side of me.

So, Grammie, you don’t think I can survive on my own in San Francisco? That’s alright, I don’t think I can either. However, this isn’t your life. These are not your decisions to make. And I have decided that I am willing to take a little chance and see if I can. It wouldn’t be hard, it wouldn’t be rewarding, it wouldn’t be worth it if everybody could do it.

So you think I have a resting bitch face? You are right, I do. However, Allison, you would too if you had to walk twenty minutes in one-hundred degree heat to get to work, where you have to tolerate and be nice to people who pass judgement on you for doing your job as their supervisor and asking them to do the easiest job they will ever have.

So, Jarred and Haddie – you guys think I pick on you. You’re absolutely right. I do pick on you, but before you running and telling on me, I only pick on you because you are lazy as shit and have the worst work ethics I have ever seen in people. It’s my problem that I let it affect me, but you are never going to escape the fact that you have been handed everything in life and therefore will never understand the value of sweating, or a dollar for that matter.

So Leo, and Nate, and Joe, and literally anyone who has ever gossiped about me and then tried to act like my friend. You are so replaceable in my life. Have a little backbone or substance or whatever you want to call it. Why be so flimsy in your opinion? Like I mentioned above, tell me to my fucking face what you think about me. Even if you don’t, I’m going to find out what you said. People talk, as you obviously know, and what you said will get twisted into the ugliest version possible, and eventually make it to my ears. I know what you guys say about me, and I think you are all mother fucking pussies for not saying what you think to me.

People say I am argumentative. That I’ve got rough edges and a rough personality, and I’m too honest. They say that I am irrational and have some sort of chip on my shoulder. People have called me entitled and lazy and a million other things that prove to me that they have no clue who I am. If any of them had bothered to get to know who I actually am, they would realize I am one of the softest and most giving people they had ever known. They would see that I don’t have the option to be lazy. They would understand that the supposed resting bitch face that I’ve got isn’t always there.

But no one tries to know me, and the story ends there.

It’s no one’s job to try to understand me, but I think it’s hypocritical to expect anything less than the superficial unless you put energy into me.

ex·ten·sive

Journal

Cavernous aching. Sickening emptiness. Lost something of great importance – again. I don’t want to have any more crushes when I move, I don’t want to sleep with anybody.

A lot of me believes no one has or will ever care about me. Reaching out to people leaves my emotional energy depleted, I become depressed, nothing seems worth trying for. Tristan mentioned that he doesn’t think he’s exceptionally kind, which makes me think that he treats everyone the way he treats me. Which is great, but I wanted to mean something to him. I want to mean something to everyone, and I don’t.

Don’t we all want to be a little special? It’s this rough realization when you finally come to the conclusion that you might even be worse than normal or regular or whatever- you might be undesirable.

I might have cared about Tristan more than he cared about me. That cavernous aching is back.

I am still as alone as I was on that first night after we left my dad as I laid on that chilly, creaking leather lounge in my grandparents game room. I couldn’t sleep. Street lamps were shining directly into my eyes, and it was the first night of the rest of my life. I was alone. I knew I would not feel safe again. I felt that sickening emptiness.

I would twist and turn, loud stretching leather kept me up, dusty blanket made my nose run.

I was miserable. I am miserable.

Nothing has really changed inside me.