The Genteel Art of Drifting

“Be like a bird, halting in her flight

On a limb too light

that gives way beneath her–

She sings, sings, knowing she has wings!

She sings, sings, knowing she has wings.”

Just so you’re aware, while I’m writing this, I’m in my last quarter of a creative writing major and I’m about to walk out of a lease because I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in my own bed in over two months. I’ll find a place, but I’ve got three weeks left until the end of the month.

I sleep on people’s couches so that I don’t  wake up to the sound of domestic violence next door at two AM. The landlord does nothing, the cops do less. Every incident triggers a sick panic in me. This is somewhat paradoxical; I stand at about 5’8″, have boy-short hair, and I wear Doc Martens on days that end in Y. Logic says I shouldn’t feel what I do because my neighbor is unquestionably terrified of me.

All bullies are.

What a bully sees when I'm mad.

I get so angry about what I have to hear that I can’t think, and for a college Senior, that’s a bad place to be. It’s even worse when you add to that the fact that I tutor people for a living and I spend at least two nights a week with my Godchildren, who are nine, six, and three months. Thoughtfulness and patience are mandatory for me.

What I actually look like when I'm mad.


It’s not so bad, though; every day I go “home” for a shower and a meal after class, and every night, I get to escape. I’ve done the couch-surfing thing before, during school, and this time is actually easier–I know to bring a blanket of my own, to carry a travel toothbrush, and I have friends on campus.

Wherever I go, I bring a gift for my host: rice balls and homemade cookies for my campus-dwellers, groceries for my sister, and a bottle of something for my friends with nine-to-fives. If you get past the fear of uncertainty, it’s like a perpetual sleepover.

This is, of course, detrimental to my studies, even this early on. I have the good fortune to be blessed with studious friends, so at least some of the time, I actually do MORE work at night because we hang out in a dorm room and read and to hell with the dishes, laundry, etc. that all dorm-dwellers ignore.

Other nights, I get caught up reading to my Godsons and watching stupid TV with my sister. Luckily, I have class in the afternoon, so I can usually make up for lost time my getting up early and heading to school–assuming I can pry the baby off my shoulder. It’s hard; I like her there.

At any rate, this isn’t my first rodeo, and as every bull-rider knows, it’ll all be over soon. Victory is hanging on.


13 thoughts on “The Genteel Art of Drifting

  1. Hey Cerridwen,
    OH MAN can I relate to this. I also have to balance school and spending time with my boys. I understand the bond you have with them and the feeling of being their third parent.

    I am not as familiar with your housing situation, and I am thankful that you have the support system in place to leave a bad situation.

    I look forward to reading your blog, since I feel we have a lot of things in common, but your perspective is so completely different.

    On a purely visual note, your first post has some great pictures, but they could be a bit bigger! Otherwise, keep up the good work on the blog and in life!

    -Kacie Riann

    • Hah, there’s nothing like homework to make me understand why MY parents are so scatterbrained! I had a chance to look over your blog and I have to say, I’m impressed and I’m likewise looking forward to reading your perspective.

  2. I love this paragraph: “Wherever I go, I bring a gift for my host: rice balls and homemade cookies for my campus-dwellers, groceries for my sister, and a bottle of something for my friends with nine-to-fives. If you get past the fear of uncertainty, it’s like a perpetual sleepover.”

    That’s a good way to look at it! I’m sure your friends are enjoying their sleepovers and sweet gifts. It makes me sick that the cops don’t do anything…police priorities are pretty damn hard to understand sometimes. Good luck finding a place!

  3. Cerridwen,
    I swear I already left a comment, maybe you have to approve them? Anyways, in case I failed to follow through on my post, here are the highlights:

    1. I understand your love for your godchildren: being a third parent. I feel the same way toward my nephews, who feel more like brothers or children than nephews really. You seem like an amazing parent to them, and I am sure they love you very much for it.

    2. I am glad you were able to get out of a bad living situation with the help of your friends and family. You seem like a very respectful couchsurfer.

    3. I wish your pictures were bigger! Your boys and the baby are cute!

  4. oh now they’re both there and I feel silly. DOUBLE the feedback!

  5. Finch says:

    Wow. Just wow. I don’t think I’d be able to handle your neighbors either. But I also don’t think I could handle couch-surfing.

    Also, I really love your writing. Even though this blog is going to deal with the tricky issue of being in-between, I am going to enjoy reading it 🙂

  6. Absolutely beautiful entry here, Cerridwen. You write so well from such a vulnerable state that it doesn’t sound like fear or anger you’re experiencing so much as irresolution. I wish things were better for you, but until they are I hope we can all help you negotiate this situation somehow, by being an audience to that coming victory.

    Anyway, I hope you have a good (long!) weekend.

  7. Anjolie says:

    I wish I had a couch for you…

    Meanwhile, I hope you get to be my new neighbor! 🙂

  8. The song lyrics you quote at the beginning of this post triggered so many memories; we sang that song a lot on meditation retreats when I was “into” meditation retreats. It always made me laugh and cry at the same time.

    From what I’ve read here, Cerridwen, you certainly have “wings” in so many ways. I’ll be eager to keep reading.

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