Just another failed attempt at regular blog posts…
Not only did things change quickly, they changed in ways that I didn’t expect.
When I started this blog, I anticipated that I’d be packing up my belongings and preparing for my great escape to Seattle. In the 4 1/2 months since then, life has taken me in a unexpected direction.
It’s funny timing that my first post here was the day before the first Open Projector Night. That’s the last day that I felt assurance in my plan. The last time that I knew for a fact what I was doing: finishing my year with ASD, making movies in Anchorage this summer, then moving to Seattle in the fall. I was so sure that was it.
It’s not that OPN1 changed everything overnight. It’s more that it put into motion just enough things to make me take a second look at “the plan.” And that’s the notable thing about what I’m doing - the thing that I’m having trouble getting people to understand - this is the first time in my nearly 28 years on this planet that I’ve allowed myself options outside of “the plan.”
I was registered for my first semester of classes at UAA months before I graduated high school. I only applied to one grad school. I never questioned the fact that the UW didn’t offer me any financial support - it was where I planned to go to school, so I was going there (#4 on list of life regrets). I got the internship I wanted for my third year at UW. When I couldn’t find a job in Seattle, I headed back to Anchorage “for 1-2 years” to be a school psychologist.
I hated my job far more than I ever could have predicted. I hated being there. I hated the things I was responsible for doing. I hated the bureaucracy that stopped me from doing my job the way I was trained to do it. And I missed Seattle. So much.
My method of survival was to recreate as much of my Seattle experience in Anchorage as I could. I got involved with the Anchorage International Film Festival. I went to a bunch of movies. I shopped around for a trivia night. At first, I thought that the only thing that Anchorage offered me that Seattle didn’t was being close to my brother. Mind you, that’s a big thing. Almost enough in and of itself to keep me in AK.
In the last 8 months, something has happened that I never expected - my time in Anchorage began to surpass my Seattle experience. Through a series of spontaneous encounters and connections through AIFF, my interaction with the city of Anchorage has been entirely transformed.
I decided around the time I started this blog that I didn’t want to be a school psychologist for the 2011-2012 school year. I committed to that decision by filing paperwork with my district in March to officially resign when the school year ended in May. March marked the time that the activities that I have always called my “other life” began taking over. The Alaska Film Forum began gaining momentum. We shot PnBMOWE. April brought OPN2, which blew the first one out of the water. And around then I started realizing that I both can’t and don’t want to leave Anchorage yet.
I’ve always thought that education was the way to do what you want. I thought that you picked something that you wanted to do, went and got a degree in it, and then did it. The last six months have taught me that sometimes, the first two steps don’t even exist. You just do it. I never planned to be doing what I’m doing now. I certainly don’t have any formal education it it. Hell, I can barely define what it is. But I’m doing it. It’s happening. And I’m really, really happy.
I feel like my work with the Alaska Film Forum and in filmmaking are at that sweet spot between potential and realization. I know that with some strategy and commitment, I can turn these things into something real.
My health insurance runs out the end of August. Eventually, my savings will too. I don’t know if I can sustain the lifestyle that I’m embarking on. But I like to think of myself as pretty resourceful. And I think I’ll find a way to make it work. It used to be that SIFF was the only thing that makes me feel this way. Suddenly, I am feeling it as part of almost everything I do. That’s how I know I’m on the right track. I don’t believe in “meant to be” but I know that when something feels this right, I have to stick with it. Despite the anxiety that comes with changing the plan so dramatically. Despite the people that I am disappointing. Despite the significant personal financial risk I’m taking.
I have to do this.
Day 4: It begins…
I spent about an hour at my storage unit last Friday. I was digging through boxes and sorting stuff by category (books, clothes, etc). I managed to fill one entire box with stuff to throw away. I was struck by how many books I have that I really want to read and just never have.
(geography & relationships)
I had one of those weekends that makes it hard to think about leaving. My very talented friends and I threw a bad-ass event. We had a decent turn out and everyone had a really good time.
When I came back to Anchorage from Seattle in 2009, I told myself that in order to survive living here, I’d have to recreate some of the things that I love about Seattle. This lead to my involvement with the Anchorage International Film Festival, which has been incredibly rewarding. My time with AIFF is what lead me to this current group of friends and the kind of work that we’re doing together.
Weekends like this make me wonder where the line is between coping with where you are and transforming where you are into what you’ve been looking for. When I first became involved with AIFF, I had the mindset that I was going to use it to keep my sanity for the brief time that I was in Anchorage. Now that it’s been almost a year and a half since I moved back, I can see that if I chose to stay here, I have all the makings of a really happy life.
That doesn’t take away the nagging feeling of restlessness, however, that picks at the back of my brain and tells me to get back to the city that holds my heart.
Day 1: Hi, my name is Beth.
I’m 27 years old, live in Anchorage, Alaska, and work in education.
In the next 6 months I am going to be making some dramatic changes. When you’re too close to something, change seems so slow and, at times, undetectable. My hope is that writing about it here will allow me to step back and gain some perspective about where I’m going and what it’s taking to get there.
Lately, I feel driven to make adjustments (or complete overhauls) in my:
Today, I’m finally ready to start.
There’s a part of me that hopes no one reads this. I will be grossly hyperbolic. I will excessively use the same word on more than one occasion. I will be too self-revealing. I will ramble with no coherence or destination. But if you’re willing to look past all that, I’d love to have you come along with me as I make a resolute (and perhaps ill-advised) attempt to liquidate my life.