Overdue / by Diana Khoi Nguyen

Been overwhelmed with life in its joys and lows these past months--after a whirlwind summer of travels (Provincetown was where I last left off on this blog--then a wonderful east coast poetry/reading tour: Philly, DC, Durham, Charlestown, then surprise funeral (I suppose death is always a surprise, in the end) in Providence, then a rush to Vermont for Bread Loaf), only to end the summer with unpacking into our new home of Lewisburg, PA, where you find me today.

In many ways, I love Lewisburg--the small town with genuinely kind, warm-hearted folks; our butcher in a parking lot Bill, the Amish farmers' market, swimming in the Bucknell Natatorium, a spacious lovely rent-free home, rain that lasts for days, farmlands, quiet. It is likely that I love it because I don't feel the hustle-bustle stress that I felt living in NYC.

And at the same time, it's been a nightmare to truly settle in with financial concerns (travels + move having eaten into all of my savings leaving me here in this lovely town with $0 to my name), no job--and also no physical network of friends or coworkers (save JB, who can't fulfill every social role in the community I need). And I haven't been able to figure out how to be here and be worry-free.

I initially took a cute sandwich shop job which was supposed to be part-time, except the owner kept scheduling me for 6 days in a row--and PA employment law doesn't require that employers give employees a break no matter how many hours they work--so I was working long days with no rest for my brain/feet--and it was killing me. Okay, killing my spirit, which made me feel so much shame on account of my pathetic inability to work a low-wage service-industry job. I quit because I felt as though I were going to explode and had no time for writing or art--and I didn't really move to Lewisburg w/ JB so that I could work a low-paying sandwich job for nearly all my waking hours, did I? Which of course made me mourn my wonderful SVA job in NYC--but then, I also struggled with many aspects of living in NYC.

Please forgive my whinging, but it comes to this: I am not independently wealthy, and I am actually struggling to exist as functioning poet. Of course I shouldn't be surprised. But I did want a cake and to eat it--and not just the crust in the cake pan--but the moist sponge cake with passionfruit icing and bavarian creme. I'm delusion, yes. But delusional and also miserable. It's an awful thing to worry constantly about money and to realize you're too pansy to work an honest job at a sandwich shop.

There is hope: I am to start soon a job in the pharmacy (the only one in town)--except training has been delayed until the end of the month. That's more weeks of zero income! My students loans won't pay themselves! I'm already eating minimally and not drinking--yes, I have my swimming and my books, and I'm allowing myself a Netflix account because I think I would go mad without some moving visual relief.

Now I'm resorting to pulling my fanciest cookbooks and nonfiction books to sell at The Strand (fiction books don't sell too well at the buyback window). This is sad, because I'd like to keep these books, but since I don't find practical use in these, they must be sacrificed. And the same goes to my clothes/shoes. I'd like to not think about this loss right now.

Instead, I'm going to look forward to my trip to NOLA next weekend for my Flying House collaboration unveiling! I'll have to be on a super low budget while I'm there, but I'll be happy to see good friends and to be traveling. I'm fortunate to have that at least. And I'm looking forward to my weaving class in November/December--courtesy of the class credits I earned while interning this past summer--those long weeks paid off.

Of course I'm worried that I won't be able to save enough funds to do my Iceland textile internship next August-October--but I definitely need to think positive. I worry all the time that my Lewisburg life won't be without money-worries and then I wonder if I could keep living here at the brink of poverty. Negative feelings aren't conducive to poem-life. Which is to say, I'm in a rut and I'm trying to figure out how to be me again.

So I should state a plan and stick to it: continue the path of $0 spending, reading wonderful Bucknell library books, keep swimming, and keep busy with projects. You are loved, Diana. I am loved? You are loved.

I worry now, that I've made the wrong choice with my life. But what other choice was there for me to make? I need to cut this dire shit out.