“The Life of a Bum” – a.k.a. My Memoir

Taking a gong bath.

Enjoying a soothing gong bath at Lightning in a Bottle.

In the past month, I’ve:

  1. Graduated college – 4 years.
  2. Moved out of my apartment – 3 years.
  3. Quit my library job – 2 years.
  4. Left my editing job – 1 year.
  5. Volunteered at Lightning in a Bottle – 2 years.
  6. Done some selective Facebook cleansing – 5 years.
  7. Found myself no longer within a five mile radius of my best friend – 8 years.
  8. Cut myself off (financially) from my parents – 21 years.

So how is my life now?

Here’s a hint: I’m sitting in my parent’s living room in hospital scrub shorts, too exhausted from the ridiculously dry heat to go upstairs and take a shower. Yesterday, while riding the BART in a skirt, I toppled onto my ass and flashed half of the (relatively low traffic) train car. I got dropped from the degree list because my professor forgot to enter one of my grades, and then had to politely ignore her unsolicited comments about how I’m very intelligent but didn’t try at all (but I still got the highest essay grade in her “extremely demanding” course?). I just found out that my wisdom teeth removal wasn’t covered by my insurance, due to idiotic bureaucratic policies. People in my neighborhood keep cutting down trees without planting new ones. I have mad allergies and a slightly bloody nose.

And now, to my disappointment, I learned what I would do if I had no responsibilities at all: I’ve spent the last week – my first stretch of true freedom in almost four years – watching season after season of Weeds (enhanced edition), sitting on my porch, and neurotically cleaning and rearranging my new house. I’ve gotten a decent amount of socializing in, though compared to my normal 9 AM – 9 PM nonstop lifestyle, I feel like a total sloth.


Proof! I did it! …Or sort of, because my graduation requisites are still in question.

But hey, it’s not all bad – the warm weather is a pleasant respite from the typical East Bay gloom, and suburbia has its creature comforts. I laughed off my BART spill and filed it away as a funny story (why get embarrassed when there’s no harm done?). I can’t underestimate the kindness of Berkeley’s Political Science advising department (really one of my favorite parts of the PoliSci department in general), as they went as far as to call my phone to make sure that I got back on the list as soon as possible. I don’t really know what to do about the wisdom teeth issue, but my mom is finally getting her garden and my dad might soon be able to find relief for the five-year battle we’ve had with pool algae. As for my allergies – laughter might be the best medicine, but there’s also Sudafed, just in case.

Overall, though, writer’s block is too narrow a term to describe what I’m feeling right now. I guess most people just refer to this as being burnt out. I have little motivation to do anything, but an incessant chirping in my head that tells me that SlothLife is not for me. I’m a Hummingbird, remember? Drawing on the nectar of lively banter? (Do hummingbirds chirp?)

So today I started doing things again. Slowly – as is my wont in this desert heat – but surely. I finally began researching for this freelance writing position I miraculously (read: through my dad) received. I put together a mock itinerary for my travels, then started plugging in flights and ferries and trains to get a rough estimate of transportation costs. I emailed people I’m planning on visiting, started arranging accommodations and city-specific plans, investigated programs and places with which I’d want to get involved. I’m returning to reading the news, particularly as I just added the tumultuous Middle East — Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel — to the trip. (New Year’s Eve in Beirut? Yes, please.) I looked at jobs, and today or tomorrow I will actually apply to a few. In a few moments, I will change out of my hospital scrub shorts and into a slightly wrinkly but very cute dress, then I will venture into the world (or more specifically, the R.E.I.) to find myself my home for the next year — the perfect backpacking pack.

(E.T.A.: I was recommended the R.E.I. Passage 65 Youth Pack, because apparently even Gregory’s XS packs are too big for my waist. I thought being petite was something people wished for – but in my case, it’s what will keep me from those six-digit salaries and unaccompanied liquor store runs. In any case, while I’m young and poor, the Passage is actually a very well-fitting and comfortable pack, so I might join the legions of Boy Scouts before me and take the $160 plunge.)


Hummingbird-Gecko Relations seem to be strong.

Pretending my problems don’t exist, or that they can be resolved at a later date, just makes for unnecessary stress – for me, and for anyone involved. Time really is of the essence; according to my new itinerary, I’m scheduled to find a rideshare to Portland (Craigslist, don’t fail me now) on/around August 23, spend a week or so between Portland and Seattle, fly over to New York, and then fly to London on September 10. From there on out, I have on average five days in each country, which means I have zero time for bumming around as I am now. Of course, I should schedule time for relaxation, and knowing me, “tourism” will translate to sitting at street-side restaurants for three hours at a time, watching people walk around and having extended drunken conversations with people I just met. Some might argue that because of the rapidity of my travel, it might actually be nice to have some down-time now. But I disagree – downtime is down-the-drain time; there are so many cool and interesting things in the world, and sitting in my apartment, producing nothing and wishing I were doing something is not the way I want to leave the States! So here’s my list of objectives for the rest of the summer.

  1. Build the website. Publicize.
  2. Post in PG:WP at least once every week. Publicize.
  3. Make business cards.
  4. Finish itinerary. Buy tickets (for necessary connections). Inform friends.
  5. Find a job. Make money.
  6. Learn how to cook.
  7. Learn how to code.
  8. Learn how to speak Hindi.
  9. Improve my Telugu. Learn how to reject people in Telugu.
  10. Clean out my childhood room so I can move all my college things back in.
  11. Read at least three news sources every day.
  12. Exercise at least once every day.
  13. Edit my thousands of photos.
  14. Put together that video I’ve been talking about.
  15. Hang out with my parents more. Be a better child (in case I die).

Let’s see how many I actually achieve.

Mas o Menos.