Friday, January 28, 2011

Cocktail Parties are for Douches

Wanna hear some total crap?

I called U.Ga a few weeks ago to make sure that they had all of my information on file, and they said that they did. I checked the website today, and my file was listed as incomplete. I called the advisor, who said The Graduate School never sent my LSU transcript to her, so she couldn't process my file. So I asked when interviews are going to be held.


So basically, because people are idiots, I didn't get into Georgia. I would feel better knowing that I didn't get in because I couldn't get in, because I don't have enough clinical experience or because my GRE scores were too low.

What a pain in the ahhhh-ss.

You know what, though? This is how life is, and if life wasn't like this, maybe I'd wind up living in Georgia and getting murdered by some Ted Bundy, college-hopping serial killer or something. You just never really know why something happens. I'm not mad, which is good, but I'm annoyed, because I know what it takes to be responsible and NOT be a slack ass, and really, it only takes some basic common integrity and a little tiny hint of sense. It doesn't take that much effort.

What else.

Oh yes, a lady got mugged across the street from where I work, so cop cars and ambulances have been parading around my perimeter all day.

I was pretty upset about not having a job for 4 1/2 months when I first moved back, but that too, happened for a reason. At that point, I was far too emotionally fragile to be able to handle working in the ghetto with swarming cop cars. Now, I just think when I wake up every day, "Another day, another dolla." and I keep moving forward, and my whole L.A. experience is nothing but a hazy mist in my mind, even though it sure was one hell of a ride, and probably the best part of my whole life.

I've been feeling significantly better since I started working, working out, and getting enough vitamin D, and the change in my mood and life perspective has been so encouraging to me.

Stuff that would normally drive me bat shit is not quite as obnoxious.

For instance, at work, I have to do a LOT of stuff with sororities, and I read this article where this girl said, "I have been working digilently." About 3 months ago, I would have left that word unedited, and thought to myself, "You stupid hoe, you deserve to be published as a blatant idiot," but the new me fixed her stupidity and wrote "DILIGENTLY" out of the kindness of my heart.

I do still get annoyed at the overwhelming influx of "sisterhood," the word "special," and "nail panting parties," but, whatev. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal.

I'm almost finished with my Johnny Cash book, and today, I read this:

"Then we were called upon to attend an affair which I detest- a cocktail party. And I haven't only recently started hating cocktail parties. I have always hated them with a passion. I have never consumed a cocktail, but that isn't the reason.

Everyone seems to feel they're obligated to act as if they're enjoying themselves, standing around with that weird-looking dainty drink in their hand with that little finger sticking out.

I can never remember anything significant ever being said at a cocktail party. Nobody really listens to anything anyone else tells them. You open a conversation with somebody, and they're looking around you to the left or right while you're talking to be sure they're not missing another celebrity."

This goes back to my constant soap box about detesting meaningless chit chat, but I feel like I'm presenting myself in a less hostile manner now when I am dragged to an event or gathering full of stupid, fake people. It took me a few months to deal with it since I moved back here, because I forgot about that saccharin obnoxiousness, but now I'm getting used to it again. I'm always bombarded with fake, airy hugs and meaningless chit chat and dumb questions and empty conversation, but I'm realizing that it's just how it is here, and if I am here indefinitely, I can't let it eat me up so badly. I just have to start saying things like,

"So nice to see you, I just crapped my pants." because they (the infamous panel of they) aren't really listening anyway.

She says she talks to Angels

Well, I have started a journal regarding work occurrences, but because I still work at my work, I can't post anything. So, for now, I will talk about other things. I went to Birmingham over the weekend to visit one of my girl friends. I talk a lot about how I miss having girl friends. I had a lot of girl friends in L.A., but I don't have many in Memphis who are in a similar stage of life as me because most of my girl friends got married when they were 20. Which is to say that they have husbands and families so when I talk about singleness and $1,000 insurance deductibles and all of that crap, they can usually offer some kind words of advice, but they don't relate.. So, I have this girl friend who lives in Birmingham, and she's HILARIOUS, and I decided to drive down and visit her on Friday.

We didn't engage in any craziness all weekend, and I loved every second of it. I was relaxed and happy and calm. I laughed so hard I just about cried.

And then we went to church.

I've gone to church almost every Sunday of my whole life with the exceptions of near-death illness and being out of town. I just pretty much always go. And even when I don't physically go, I watch it on TV. I miss it when I don't go. I don't go because I've been pressured into it or it's cultural or whatever, I just enjoy it, so I go.

So, my best girl friend is an Episcopalian, and I never knew very much the Episcopalians, other than they are sort of like Catholics and they are usually very academic and "junior league" and rich and polished and classy. Pretty much out of all of the Christian denominations, the Episcopalians seem to me like they'd win the awards for writing a thank you note in black ink within two weeks of the deserving circumstance and they definitely would NOT wear white shoes after Labor Day. Other than that, I don't know much about them, because I am not one, and I do not know very many.

I go to this very counter-cultural Christian church in Memphis that used to be really, really cool, because we had a staff of musicians who came straight off of Beale Street and there was a heavy blues influence on the music, and we had a large number of black people who attended the church. I liked that. I liked it because I grew up in a "you have to wear your three piece suit" type of church that was very vanilla. There was no ethnic, racial, cultural, or very much socioeconomic diversity, and so I always felt sort of bored and stiff at the church where I grew up. I moved away for a few years and my current church has really been influenced by the white Bible belt, private Christian school, khaki pants culture. My preacher is a rock star, and I love him, and he's really smart. The demographic of our congregation has changed substantially, though. I'm pretty much back at an all white church. Also, the music is totally different. I guess Beale Street when back to Beale, because now we have all of these white girl star-warbling divas who do that Christina Aguillera thing with their hand that sort of looks like the Mr. Miyagi "Paint the Fence" move, and they sound like a bunch of cats being skinned, warbling and screaming, trying to sound like Lauryn Hill. I guess.


So, the all-white people churches usually make me feel sort of nervous, even though I'm a white person. I may have some sort of cultural identity issues. I think it's good to be around different people. That's one thing that I'm really grateful for regarding part of my upbringing.. My parents made sure we traveled and met all kinds of different people. I remember this lady named Alyce made my family some chai tea in Africa and she stirred it around in a metal pot with a goat femur. We were all sitting in her dung hut in Africa. We were totally grossed out because we were little kids and we had to drink chai that had a goat bone in it. But thinking back on that, I can appreciate how cool it was for my parents to let us experience cultural difference and what it meant to be uncomfortable and all of that.


One more thought.

I had another encounter with the Episcopalians. I was invited by a girl friend of mine in L.A. who was from South Carolina to go to her Episcopal Christmas dinner thing with her church because her husband was working on his Ph.D. in Mexico or something. I am anticipating some sort of churchy potluck function where everyone wears a Christmas sweater with little pom poms all over it and some big fat lady in a floral print dress and Mary Kay make up plunking out carols on the piano. Oh, quite contraire. We go to this amazing house in Beverly Hills, and her pastor is a woman who lives in this unbelievable house, and apparently the Episcopalians own the parish or whatever for the lady pastor to live in. Now, please be mindful that I grew up in an ultra conservative Southern Baptist church and had never really met a lady priest/pastor. When we got inside the party, I met a few different gay couples. Keep in mind that I'd never seen openly gay men at a church function, because that isn't exactly Southern Baptist kosher. That was my other Episcopalian experience.

Ok, so I went to the Episcopal church with my girl friend, and it was so gorgeous inside. It made me think about a few times when I was just trying to figure my life out at Loyola, and I'd go up to the Catholic chapel and sit on one of those hard wooden pews and just be quiet and stare at the stained glass windows and massive crucifix at the front and I could physically feel the quiet.

Here's the part I really want to talk about, though. Communion sometimes makes me nervous. I leave during communion at my church a lot because we do it every week and it takes a good solid half hour, and my AD/HD can only take about an hour and a half of church and cat-skinned-screaming divas before I lose it. So, communion makes me nervous when they pass it around because I'm always nervous that I'm going to spill grape juice all over someone's white pants, and I HATE it when everyone drinks out of the same cup. I hate foreign germs so much that I always Purell my hands right after we do that meet and greet hand shaking thing. I always hope to come in late enough that I miss the screaming cat "worship" team and the hand shaking, but I never actually reach that goal.

So, we all get summoned for communion, and we have to walk in a single file line all the way up the aisle, onto the platform, through the choir members, to the kneeling bench thing. And here's what I want to talk about:


All of the choir members were wearing these white robes and they were signing so angelically, that I seriously looked from side to side and thought, "Man, this must be what Heaven is like." and it was absolutely beautiful.

Then all of the stuff about only white people at church and Beale Street blues worship and stuff sort of left my mind, because I felt so peaceful and angelic and nice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rent Free Ain't Enough

All of a sudden, over the weekend, I decided that I'm "over" going to bars. At least Memphis bars. I stopped going to clubs early in the game. I used to like to go to clubs to dance. Then after experiencing the whole Hollywood club scene, and I recognized it for the meat market/coke playground that it was, I just didn't go anymore. At least not the ones with the pulsating music and sweating people who are barely wearing any clothes grinding all over each other. I haven't even been to Vegas in a year, which is sort of a world record for me, because I used to go a lot.

Over the weekend, I went to some "cool" bars with a group of my friends, and both times, I looked around at everyone and felt grossed out and bored. Seeing these dumb girls who are all giggly with their cleavage hanging out and flipping their hair around for free drinks and these fratty boys smoking cigarettes and staring at the cleavage and everyone blowing jager and smoke into each other's faces grosses me out so much that it takes all of the fun out of it. It's all so phony. It's all so blatantly phony.

I used to be really naive and I could go to a bar or a club and have a great time and never notice all of the depressing stuff around me because I was oblivious while I was dancing and having fun. But all of a sudden, I've turned into this old, wise, fat cat, and I don't even know what it's like to enjoy myself at these places because I look around at everyone else and am so overwhelmed by the atmosphere that I get bored and kind of would rather be at home reading an autobiography or swimming laps or caulking my bathroom.

In L.A., you could go to a bar, and something fun would be going on. There would be turtle races or a cool 80's band or trivia night or some kind of interactive fundraiser. I used to go to these fun red carpet events with my ex (who is the worst human on the face of the earth, so let's remember that no event would justify me ever interacting with him again as long as I live) where there'd be all these really fun, interactive things to do. Like a huge Rockband party or video gaming event or something. Going to bars or clubs was interactive; it wasn't just a bunch of people sitting around getting hammered and preying on who they were going home with. Well, it probably was, but it was masked by fun activities. The man-predators and women looking to be eaten weren't near as obvious when everyone was caught up drumming on Rockband. In this dive, the only thing offered at bars is football or basketball on a big screen TV, and all of a sudden, I am just plain old "done."

When I was so emotionally exhausted and spent during my last 6 months or so in L.A., all I could think about was resting and coming back to remember myself for a little while. I was desperate. But guess what. I forgot about how it is here. I forgot about the overwhelming boredom and lack of things to do.

When I was in high school, my on-and-off-for-100-years bf's family owned this lake house, so we'd all go to the lake in the summer. Well, he had a brother and a sister, and I was friends with the sister, and we always wanted to do fun stuff at the lake, but he and his brother and dad always wanted to watch sports, so that's what the family had to do. Male dominance is so alive in this part of the country, it's absolutely disgusting. I swore back then I'd never be a part of that crap, with my mind rotting away watching a bunch of barbarians running around and smacking each others' asses on TV for a hundred hours. His sister would have cowardly been a part of the whole sports cult, because she was a woman and was out voted by those man-pigs who "ran the house," but I conned her into doing stuff with me like assembling a front porch swing or riding around on 4-wheelers in the mud, which was really fun. I love being an active person, but in this town, availability of activities is few and far between, which fires my frustration. I need a vacation.

I struggle a lot with being content, because right now, being content might bleed into complacency, and I abhor complacency. I just keep thinking about starting my life over and having a clean slate. People get so caught up in where they are and what they're doing that they forget that they have options. I am obsessed with thinking about my options. I'm so ready to know if I get into school, and if I get in, where I will get in, and if I am moving or staying or what have you. I'm ready to have my own place again and my own life and my own routine. I'm ready to feel like a real person again.

It's important to me for me to be able to establish my own life. I don't have that quite yet at this point in time, but every day it's a little bit closer, and I hang onto that.

I've been trying really hard to accept this point in my life and ask myself very difficult, guilt-ridden questions related to where I am in life and where I'm going, and as a result, I have revealing and sometimes upsetting thoughts. I've asked myself hard questions and sometimes I'm really sad when I hear myself answer them because they aren't what I want to hear myself say.

Back to what I started with: if I wind up staying here for a while, if I get into school here for a while, I can't do the bar scene anymore and watch all of those disgusting pheromones flying around while people breathe smoke into each other's faces and scratch their nether-regions while watching football games. Ugggggh. I always think about Jack Nicholson leaving his shrink's office and asking the people in the lobby, "What if this is as good as it gets?" And I answer myself with a resounding, "No." "No, no, no." It just isn't. And that's all there is to it.

I joined a gym a few days ago. I'm going to try to focus more on getting myself balanced and living a holistic life. I'm reading more now than I have in a long time. I think I need to just spend some time taking care of myself, and staying out of places and away from people that bring me down or make me feel like crap.

I ordered "Man in Black," Johnny Cash's autobiography, for a dollar online. "Man in White," his book about the conversion of the Apostle Paul, was something I wasn't ready for yet. I felt like I was sitting in a seminary class. I mean, I was learning a lot of historical stuff, but let's face it, I'm not exactly seminary material. Anyway, I can't put "Man in Black" down. It's a ripped up old library copy with brown pages and a worn-out jacket. I buy most of my books for a dollar. Over and over again, I'm reading about Cash's life, and even though he's one of the most amazing people who has ever lived and I'm not exactly on the same playing field, he makes me relate. Having this crazy drive to do something special with my life, and always striving toward making it happen. Reading about him selling appliances and then making phone calls to Sam Phillips every week to keep his head above water makes me think about me bookkeeping but calling U.GA and U.FL and U.Memphis all the time, pushing hard and hoping that I'll bug them enough to get me an interview.

It's also sort of cool reading about his start in Memphis. I drive past the Overton Park Shell (it is now called Levit Shell) when I am in midtown, and knowing that Johnny Cash opened for Elvis there sort of makes me feel connected and makes me feel like it's holy ground or something. It'd be easy to drive around this city and diagnose it as the set of "8 Mile," because it's poor and run down and torn up and full of a bunch of people who are in denial about it and are hanging onto an idea of Memphis that got shot and killed in the 1970's, but there are some incredible historical milestones here that I take for granted.

On Monday night, I went to a concert, and had more fun than I've had in months. I danced for hours. I'd never been to one of those DJ concerts before like you see on TV, but I showed up adorned in glow jewelry and glitter, like the gay district on Bourbon, and had the time of my life. Confetti rained down on the crowd and huge balloons filled with confetti were bounced from section to section. It made me kind of feel like I was a kid again. I needed it. The last time I had comparable fun like that at a show was right before I moved back to Memphis and my bff and I went to see the Spazmatics at the Key Club in Hollywood.

I think I need to listen to more music, and dance around my room more, and do things that I enjoy, because this weather is KILLING me.

I keep wondering how many more Memphis winters I can take, with the boredom and rain and freezing temperatures. I wonder where this leaves me. What happens when you are living somewhere or your life is some place, but you aren't really there, because you're somewhere else in your mind? Does that make you insane, or really smart? Cash wasn't selling appliances or living in a shit town in Arkansas or driving a car with cardboard windows, because in his mind, he was somewhere else. I just hope it pans out for me. Not all of us can be a Johnny Cash, but we can always strive for something, and we can find ways to keep us busy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No Regrets Friday

Typically, I'm careful about the content of my blog regarding things that could get me in big trouble. I don't blog that much about work unless I'm not working at a place anymore or unless I have something positive to say about it, I don't blog about my love life if I'm currently in a relationship, and I don't really blog about my family. I count this as "too bad," because I've got some fantastic stories in all three genres, but when I think about how writing about any of those could be misinterpreted and hurt people, I figure it isn't worth it. Most of my blogs are about internal conflict, every day observations, and human interactions. They get personal because of the internal conflict part, but not because of the things that I hold in high regard, like interpersonal relationships or my job. So, let me generalize when I write today, and try to track with me.

In my old job, we used to talk a lot about different careers and jobs because we were helping people figure out how they were going to survive after they went through a horribly gruesome and humiliating divorce. So, in that process, I gained a lot of knowledge about a lot of different jobs. One thing that I learned is that PR/advertising is always a field for young people. Well, that came back to me today while I was in an employee-wide office meeting and I noticed that everyone at my office is really young. Ok. That's the first thought. Try to track with me as I jump to the next thought.

Second thought: I beat myself up for a while, and still do from time to time, for pursuing an advanced degree in the helping professions, because, let's face it: grad school is really effing hard. I mean, REALLY hard. It's like being married, or at least what I imagine what it's like to be married. It's being committed and focused and making a crap ton of sacrifices. Getting my M.A. is one of the hardest things I have ever done because it took so much sacrifice, and it was worth every second of it: the money, the discipline, the sacrifice, the time, the willingness to run from potentially serious relationships. I loved it. The reason I beat myself up, though, was because I usually think that I should've gotten a degree in something more lucrative, because, let's face it (again): there ain't no money in the helping professions, and a girl gotta pay her bills, and sometimes I felt a little bit like working that hard for a degree that wouldn't really pay me monetarily made me feel kind of dumb. I ran around with a bunch of UCLA MBA boys for a while, and they were incredibly smart and talented and entrepreneurial, and they'd tell me about their projects and marketing strategies and start-ups, and I'd sometimes feel this little twinge of regret, because I thought to myself, "Heck, I'm creative- and I'm inventive, and I'm tough. I could do this MBA stuff.... But I'm becoming a counselor." I knew how much money they would be offered once they got that MBA behind their name, and I couldn't help but think to myself that maybe I chose the wrong path, and maybe I should've gone to business school so I could be making six figures straight out of school, too.

So. This is where I am going with these thoughts: during my meeting today, I looked around at all of the wrinkle-free faces, and heard the word "vibrant" used about 3098 times, and also heard the word "pretty" used a lot, and heard a lot about pushing Facebook and Twitter and "checking into" places with our iPhones to live VERY public, social media oriented lives.

And this is what I thought about: I am really glad that I don't check into places with my iPhone so that people can know exactly where I am, who I'm with, and what I'm doing. I'm really glad that I don't talk about my family or love life online. And you know what else? I'm really glad that I didn't go to business school.

You know what I thought about when I was hearing a bunch of very young people talk about living "publicly" and "vibrantly"???? I thought about two of my elderly professors at Loyola. One of them was a real old catholic priest. I loved him so much. One of them was a grouchy old man. I loved him even more. I thought about one of my professors/advisers at U of M, and what a beautiful heart and an incredible mind he had under that gray head of hair. I thought about old people, and old people who are professional helpers, and how blessed I've been to learn from them, be mentored by them, and appreciate their "oldness" and "privateness." (I know that privateness is not a word. Don't worry about it. Stay with me.)

I started thinking about what it means to be private, and what a sacred thing it can be to be private, when there's something special between you and another person that isn't all broadcasted all over the internet. I thought about this safe place that's created in a counseling environment, and how sacred it is to be able to know that you're bound by confidentiality and HIPPA and all kinds of crap to keep quiet and open up and help and be helped.

And then I was really, really happy that God put in my heart to help people. I know that right now, I'm not practicing as a counselor, and that I'm working amongst a lot of visionary idealists who lack life experience because of their youth, but there's an excitement and "vibrance" about my current situation that makes me see the value in being excited. I can learn a lot from these young, energetic, idealistic people. Even though right now, I'm doing math all day, and I'm bad at it, and I screw up a lot, I work with a supportive staff. The most important thing that I know, though, is that deep in my heart, I have this soul craving to help people, and to help reduce the stigma of mental health in the south, and a desire to learn from old people in academia, and I am so happy to know that it has never gone away, even though there's no money, and I'm poor, and I've worked really hard to not be moving forward in this direction at this second in time. Today, for some reason, I felt no regret, and that felt really, really good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends

Last week was a really hard week, but there was this amazing outpouring of love from my friends that I've never experienced in my life. At least, not to the extent where a different person was there for me every single day and I felt like each person and each interaction was a God-send type of deal. I met a friend every day who helped me get through the week. It was amazing. From going to lunch twice to having a phone call with my best friend in LA to one of my closest girl friends coming to my house with mixed CD's and cupcakes, I felt like God knew exactly what I needed and sent people my way who could help me get through the worst week I've had since I moved to Memphis. Again.

One thing that I learned in school was to never tell people, "I know how you feel." when you truly do NOT know how they feel. It's a major slap in the face to someone when you're telling them just how much you KNOW how they feel, and you're dumping a bunch of word vomit on them that has nothing to do with them. A lot of times, people just need to be still, and reflect, and cry it out. They don't need you to steal their time of emotional purging with stories about YOU. I remember last spring, it was maybe one of four times total of the year and a half I spent at my old job that I actually went to lunch, and I had this meltdown at Subway where I was sitting at a table outside, facing Wilshire Blvd., crying my face off because I was dealing with so much crap. I was in so over my head with work and not making enough money to pay bills and sucked into a destructive lifestyle and empty relationships and complete emotional burnout, and so much other stuff that I am still working through, and one of my two coworkers started going on and on about Nelson Mandela and him being in prison or something. She kept telling me to remember Nelson Mandela. She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, and she wanted to steal the limelight with Nelson effin Mandela. It was the epitome of the "I know how you feel" mistake.

I've noticed since I've once again moved back to this city that most of its inhabitants are always at effect instead of cause. It's sort of weird. People are always at the solution and never at the source of the issue. It's like you live in a house that has walls that are covered in mold, and you have this incredible lung condition that has you on your death bed, and while you're crying out to everyone you know that you're sick and something in your life has to change for you to get well, the people of Memphis decide that they will come right into your house and paint your walls a new color for your health to improve. They don't see the mold. They don't see the source of the problem. THEY DON'T SEE THAT YOU HAVE TO MOVE OUT TO GET BETTER! They're at effect instead of cause. It's a city-wide phenomenon, for the most part.

It seems like the people who are always the ones who don't have a clue as to what you're going through are the ones to dump a ton of self-help crap onto your lap. They are the people who tell you what you "should" or "must" or "ought" do. It's incredible. People who don't have a CLUE as to who you are or what you've walked through are the effervescent "musterbaters," telling you things like, "You MUST go to church." "You MUST pray more." "You MUST change your attitude." But the people who really know what you're going through, or the ones who don't necessarily know what you're going through but know that you need them to love you while you're going through it, are the ones who never tell you that they know how you feel, or that you should/ought/must do something. They just love you where you are. They bring you flowers or burn you a CD or send you a text in the morning. Those are the people who love you. It's like counseling. They don't try to "fix" you, or even harp on what broke you in the first place. They're just the bumpers in the bowling lanes, keeping you on track so that you can get to where you need to go.

One of my dearest girl friends told me last week that she had to come to a place in her life where she would let people love her, because she had a guard up so high and strong that she made herself unlovable. I know I've heard stuff like that before and had revelations about that concept that resonated with me, but something about hearing HER say it shot through my heart and made me realize that during this healing process, where I've felt alone and undirected and unclear, I have tried so hard to preserve the little bit that I've had left that I have not only made myself unlovable but I have also not allowed others to love me. It's weird how I have these "I don't need anyone, I can do it on my own." thoughts, but then I'll reach a place, like last week, where Monday started with a funeral and Friday ended with a meltdown and all I can think about is how I'm going to ask people to help. A lot of times, I just don't know how to ask. I feel like there isn't anyone to call, but the reality is that I have a lot of people in my life that I could hypothetically call, but they don't have a crystal ball. They don't know that I need them. I have to learn how to ask for help. Moving back in with my parents was a huge step in that direction. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Moving home again, asking for help again.

I went to lunch with a lady about a month ago who said, "I want to be hands-on in your life. I want to be someone you can call when you need help. So tell me, what can I do?" And you know what? I couldn't think of one single thing.

I sent Garrett's mom an email talking about some of the memories I had with him, and she wrote me the most touching note in response. She was so grateful that I told her about memories of our friendship, because G was a quiet person who didn't talk a lot. She said she printed my email and was putting it in a book that she was making about his life. It made me think about how open she is right now to receiving love from other people. I want to be like that.

I also talked to my old boss on the phone yesterday, and I was talking her ear off because I had just eaten a crap ton of carbs and I was feeling all insane and hyper, so I ran my mouth for a good 10 minutes before she told me that she was still at work (I sure don't miss those days of working from 8:30 to 6:45 or later) and holding a meeting at the office. She is the most task-oriented and workaholic person I've ever met, so for her to listen that long was a really big deal. She kept saying, "I really miss you. Why don't you move back here? You always have a place to work for me." And even though I know for sure that I could never do L.A. like I did it ever again, and I pray to God that I'll never work in divorce again, for her to be so vocal about her wanting me to come back was kind of a big deal and made me feel sort of good.

I was having this tech support problem at work last week, so I called a hotline somewhere and wound up talking to this tech support guy on the phone for about 15 minutes. He said that he was from Lawndale but now he lives in Dallas, and he's wanting to move and ready for a big life change. I told him that I know exactly how he feels, and I am in the same boat right now, but I also told him that just because both feel like we aren't going anywhere in life right now doesn't mean that we aren't. We just have to hang onto the principle that everything happens for a reason, and things are happening all the time that we can't see, so we have to just ride it out. I asked him about Austin and if that might be a good place to move down the road. He said he highly recommended it. It's funny how much normalcy is out there if you are just willing to take the time to see it. Sometimes it takes calling a tech support hot line. The point is, you have to let yourself be willing to ask for it, and once you ask for it, you have to be willing to receive it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Waiting Game

I woke up today with this entire outline in my mind about what I was going to say to people, and what I was going to do, and how I was going to run my life like Donald Trump keeping someone on or kicking someone off of "The Apprentice." I feel lest traumatized when I can prepare for events or conversations. I think I realized that I'm about 45% insane when I made a comment at Christmas about how I wish that my family could all accept Outlook calendar requests so we could figure out when to do our annual Christmas "dinner" and movie ("dinner" is in quotes because it usually happens in the afternoon. Although this year it happened at 8:30 p.m.). Anyway, I like things to be structured and scheduled so that I know how to prepare, because when I'm prepared, the curve balls that are hurled at my face aren't quite as destructive, and I can feel successful when I can pull all of my preparatory materials out of my emergency tool kit. Life never works like that, though. Life doesn't work in favor of control freaks. I hate to admit that I am a control freak, but alas, I am a raging one. I became one because lack of structure made me become one, not because I am one by nature, but the point is, I am a big, fat control freak.

So I was driving to work, planning everything out in my mind, and then I got to the office and saw that we didn't have near as much going on as I anticipated. So, I randomly had lunch with one of my friends. Even in this current job, where I can dress like a slob if I want and everyone is pretty laid back and little Oscar the dog runs around the office, I always feel like I can't leave. I have this really compulsive tendency to eat lunch at my desk and work my face off all day and not take any breaks. I'm not sure why. I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, a lot of people tell me, and I wish I didn't, but I do it. I do it with school and work and relationships. It's weird. Anyway, I've been having this really weird "The Shining" type of week from hell, where I go to work and fail at my job... but in my heart, I hear this line from "The Sandlot" where the voice over guy says,

"We played our best then because, I guess, we all felt like the big leaguers, under the lights of some great stadium. But Benny felt like that all the time. We all knew he was gonna go on to bigger and better games, because every time we stopped to watch the sky on those nights like regular kids, he was there to call us back. You see, for us, baseball was just a game. But for Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life."

I always hear it. Always. I hear it when I see someone's lame status updates on Facebook about cooking their husband chicken for dinner. I hear it when I type in Excel formulas to figure out how much money I have to go out and head hunt for. I hear it when I meet people who think they have "arrived" because they made it to the cover of this dumb local magazine we have here called "RSVP" that features professional beauty queens and people who've made a lot of money from manufacturing textiles. I keep hearing it. Of course, it isn't about baseball for me. It's just about moving on to bigger and better games. It's about staying focused and not watching the sky. I'm working hard to get somewhere so that I CAN get somewhere, and if I were only existing and bumping along through these hours upon hours of debits and credits, I would never get to the bigger or better game. If I stopped at RSVP magazine, I'd never get there. If my statuses were about cooking effin chicken, I'd never get there.

Today, though, I did routine emotional maintenance and had lunch with an old friend just so that I could have a break from working hard and I could take some time for myself. But guess what. Somewhere, in the middle of lunch, when my friend asked me how I was, I started to cry. And then, he said, "This is the first time I've ever seen you cry." We've been friends for about 10 years, now. I felt like this was a breakthrough for me. We talked about how the crap in our lives keeps us from being who we are meant to be, and how we have to stop and make some big changes before we can get to the bigger and better games. He talked to me about all of the near death experiences he's had and how God has clearly closed doors in his face because God had something better. Then he said, "God didn't want you to stay in L.A. If He did, you would've gotten another job. He would have kept the door open. He didn't. So now, you have to KNOW that He has your best interest in mind, and wait." So. I'm waiting, and I hate waiting, and I'm sick of wasting time with jobs and relationships and hard work if it isn't going to go anywhere, but there's no way to really know if it's going anywhere until you get there, and you can't get there before you wait.

My Aunt Denise gave me the epic "Oh! The Places you will Go!" book by Dr. Seuss for my high school graduation gift, and it's funny how I've read it over and over again through periods like this in my life, where I feel like God shook up my ant farm and all of my little tunnels came crashing down. Dr. Seuss > Dr. Phil.

"You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I am Bad at Math

Here's the thing about life. It gets harder as you go. I remember talking to this beautiful friend of mine around a year ago about the guy that I was dating. He was a business school guy who was busy all the time because he was married to his MBA program, and I understood that, but I also was sort of sick of dating someone that I wasn't THAT crazy about who required so much scheduling. I mean, he was OK, but he was nothing to write home about, and even though we dated for about 5 months, I never really got that into it. Anyway, I was trying to decide whether or not to can him, and as I talked to my friend, who is one of the wisest women I know, she said, "You know? Life just gets harder as you go. If he's not making time for you now, he never will, because if it isn't an MBA program, it's a job, and if it isn't a job, it's something else. When you love someone, and you can't stop thinking about them, and you want them to be a part of your life, you do whatever it takes to make it work. Being busy is just a stupid excuse that people use." And she's right. Life gets harder and more intricate and more murky, and all you can really do is decide who and what make the cut, and then make it work from there.

I went through a bout of two or three weeks where I was having nightmares every night, but they stopped for a couple of days until last night. I woke up this morning all sweaty with my heart pounding about 308 miles per hour, and I was so overwhelmed with anxiety that I couldn't really shake it until about 2:00 p.m. This is a really terrible feeling. It's still sort of lingering around and making me nervous. I think there's a spiritual dynamic to dreaming sometimes. I think sometimes dreams are sort of like omens. Anyway, despite coffee and Facebook and chapstick, I still have that "shook" feeling from my nightmare, and now I am sort of wondering what to do with it.

Maybe I should join a gym.

I don't know where nightmares come from, but I think they could come from a variety of sources, including stress. Then stress comes from a lot of things, including overcast weather, funerals, nightmares, and not performing well at work. I think I broke our teller scanner and I lost the invoice for our rent. I am trying my hardest to learn how to do math and do accounting, and I absolutely am NOT getting it. I'm not sure what happens when you're actually trying really hard and you still can't do your job. It's sort of embarrassing. I've never been fired, but 2011 might be a year of new beginnings. Er...endings.? I have been really scattered recently; repeating myself a lot and zoning out and not paying attention and losing things. I may or may not be losing my mind. Or maybe it's AD/HD. Or maybe it's just my personality. I'm not sure.

My friend whom I sat with at the funeral texted me today and asked me how I was doing. I told him,

"I'm OK. Having a bad week at work. Weather here is dreary. I'm depressed but things will get better."

His response was, "Rachel, Rachel. You have been depressed for the past 12 years just like me. It never gets better!!!"

And, maybe it was sadistic of me, but I got a good, hearty laugh out of that, and it was exactly what I needed to read. I feel guilty sometimes that I can't just snap out of it, or change my "mood" with willpower. It's rough. I am wondering if I'm still in there somewhere. It's hard when you feel withdrawn and exhausted all the time, and then when you're ready to sleep, your sleep is complete crap, because you've had these terrifying, paranoid nightmares all night. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHH!

I got another message from a friend today that said, "I read your email, and thought, she doesn't realize how EVERYTHING is temporary! Ha! Rachel, life is so long... so get your damn PhD. You know why? Because people need help -- they get off track, into a rut, and just need help -- therapy -- a different set of compassionate eyes looking at their situation for them."

I needed that wee little bit of cheer leading. I also needed to be reminded, that ALL people, get off track, into a rut, and just need help, and all people definitely include me. I am definitely off track, in a rut, and need help. I bet a lot of my anxiety (again) is also coming from not knowing whether or not I am going to get into school. I have no plan B if this doesn't work out. I hate not having a plan B.

I've spent the past 7 hours sending invoices to sororities and cheerleading companies. Haha, for people who know me, they see the hilarious irony of this situation. My job is doing MATH for SORORITIES and CHEERLEADERS. Surely, Jesus is coming back soon.

I am really struggling this week. A lot of people have been on my case, and it'd be nice to have a good, long cry, but I can't, because I am all post-funeral cried out. I think the weather has a lot to do with this. It's like freaking Seattle outside, and it has been for months. I think besides the fact that Memphis is sort of like one of those West Virginia mining towns with a Texas Chainsaw Massacre twist, for every day from November to March, it's overcast and rainy and cold as crap. I think this contributes to my dread for this town a great deal. I don't mind Memphis so much in the summer, because it isn't so depressing, but during the winter, I know that an intense case of SADD awaits, so I always dread the changing seasons.

I am looking for little things to bring me back up. A piece of cold pizza or a call to a friend who will always make me laugh. Today I snuck some dog treats into work to earn the approval of our office mascot, who runs away and hides when he sees me. I have won. I had that dog eating out of my hand in no time. That was a big check in the "successes" column of my day.

I think I need to go out of town. I honestly think that I need to just pack up all of my crap and move again, but not get weak when I run out of money and can't pay my rent. I think that next time maybe I should just be an egg donor and sell plasma.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Life is a Vapor.

Yesterday was a hard day.

Last week, when I was at work, my sister sent me a text and told me that an old friend of mine had been killed in Afghanistan. I felt bad that I didn't feel that sense of shock like I usually feel when someone young dies. I guess in the back of my mind, I always knew it was a possibility, even if it wasn't a reality. I didn't get that sick, sinking feeling when I found out. I was just really sad for his family.

Here's the thing about death. It never feels natural. I sort of want to punch people in the face when they say, "Well, death is just a natural part of life." No it isn't. There's nothing natural about living your whole life ALIVE and then one day being DEAD. Maybe it IS natural, but it doesn't feel like it. So many things in life feel natural. Establishing a sense of autonomy, and leaving the nest, and falling in love...Those things FEEL natural. Death always feels like you got robbed, or somebody attacked you when you were dying of cancer, or someone stole the only child you had. It feels so incredibly wrong.

I guess I'm not that good at expressing how I feel when it comes to death because I always feel so sick when I hear about it. When my grandfather died and I was in grad school in L.A., I called one of my buddies who brought over a pack of Cloves and a lighter. Some of my classmates threw together a bunch of loose dollar bills, wrapped them up in a piece of paper, and told me to buy myself a few rounds on the flight back home. Death shouldn't require someone who doesn't smoke to start smoking or for someone to get hammered on an airplane. Death makes people totally different. Marriages end over it, families break up over it, people steal because of it. It sucks.

When I heard about my friend, I shoved it in the back of my mind and didn't deal with it.

I do that with a lot of things.

Maybe it's coping. Maybe it's a defense mechanism. Maybe it's self preservation. I don't know why I do it, but I do it, and somehow, by shoving things deep in my mind until I can deal with them, I cope a little better.

Over New Years' weekend, I went to Holly Springs, MS, with my bee eff and an older couple who are friends of ours. I survived 36+ hours of football and nonstop man talk, from business deals to sports statistics to whose ex wives were banging business men in the community at NBA games or local restaurants. Sometimes, I felt like I wasn't even there. Not because I was ignored or not included, but sometimes I just sort of zone out and forget where I am. I do this whether or not I'm interested in the current topic of discussion. I just sort of float away into my mind, and I have no idea who I'm with or what I'm doing. I try not to do this while driving.

I obsessed over thoughts of graduate school and was sad when I saw the Rose Parade in Pasadena and felt hopeless when I saw local commercials starring people we knew who sold furniture or reenactments of the Civil War in dreary open fields.

But then, I got that feeling. I felt sick.

"Memphis marine killed in Afghanistan."

And every time I saw my friend's face, I felt sick.

On Sunday night, when I got back home, I lay in my bed thinking about his face. I thought about his strawberry blonde hair and how he used to spike it up when he was a punk rocker and how he had it all military cut when he joined the marines. And all of a sudden, in my bed, in the dark, I started crying.

I think the past few months caught up with me. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't sleep for most of the night. My hair was all wet around my face, because I was lying there in the darkness with tears rolling down my cheeks and temples and back around my ears.

I kept telling myself that I didn't need to go to the funeral.

"He's not here anymore," I told myself. "It doesn't matter if you go or not."

But I couldn't sleep. Back and forth, back and forth.

I thought about the people I'd see at the church I grew up attending. I thought about having to leave work in the middle of the day. I thought about being really tired from not sleeping all night. I talked myself out of it a thousand times. I said, "You don't need to go. You can't handle it. You'll have a nervous breakdown."

Then I thought about how honorably he died. This was his sixth tour overseas.

When I first graduated from college, I taught second grade at a private school. It was, hands-down, one of the crappiest jobs I've ever had, but there was one thing that I remembered. My class used to write letters to Garrett. I'd have them draw pictures of soldiers and America and all that, and I'd send him the pictures and tell him that we were all proud of him and praying for him. My kids always asked about "Mr." Garrett, and if he'd sent us a letter. He sent me a few, and he always drew pictures of wherever he was so that the kids could see what other countries looked like.

I thought about his big old beat up truck and how the air didn't work and the radio didn't work, and he picked me up a few times in the hot, humid summer, and we'd ride around singing Frank Sinatra songs at the top of our lungs to "make our own radio," sweating our asses off the whole time and laughing at people who would stare at us for not acting more civilized.

I thought about going to eat with him and his sister at Soul Fish Cafe in midtown and about how he showed me his drum set when we were in high school.

I don't know that I'd consider him one of my closest friends or best friends, but we WERE friends, and I spent so many hours at his house, and to know that he wasn't here on earth anymore made me feel so surreal.

His service was at my old church, and I haven't stepped foot in that place in a solid five years, if not more. I knew if I went back there, I'd feel like Cary busting into prom, and everyone would judge me and whisper behind my back what a bad kid I was, just like it was when I was in high school, and they'd all say that I was hell bound in a hand basket.

But all of a sudden, I thought about my PawPaw. My PawPaw is a marine, too, and he served in World War II. He was a prisoner of war for 3 1/2 years in Manilla. He fought for our freedom. He fought for me.

Then I thought about how stupid it was that I was honestly wagering between my own pride and feelings of awkwardness and honoring my friend at his funeral. People sometimes get married 9 or 10 times in a lifetime. I always think it's dumb when people say, "You only get married once!" Well, you don't know that. What if your spouse gets eaten by lions? What if they cheat? What if they tell you they are gay? Then all of a sudden, that dumb statement becomes electrifyingly ignorant. You might get married 10 times in a lifetime. You only get one funeral.

I went to work yesterday and told my boss I needed to leave at 1:30 to go to Garrett's funeral. I started crying at work. I am very good about compartmentalizing my life, but yesterday, my heart and my work blurred over, and I cried, and I was embarrassed, but it didn't matter.

I left at 1:30 and drove up to this tele-evangelist church in a divey area of town and felt strangely eerie and encouraged at the same time. There were marines in the parking lot wearing red jackets and rehearsing songs on their bagpipes and there were freedom riders parking their Harleys all over the lot. American flags lined the entry way into the massive sanctuary.

I couldn't pull it together. I was so sad. I thought about what guts it took for an 18 year old kid to serve his country, weigh the risk, and go for it. I thought about how the last time I saw him a couple of years ago, he told me he was thinking about going to nursing school. I thought about his sister having to open the door at 11:00 p.m. on December 27th and see marines dressed in their greens and tell her that her brother had stepped on an explosive device and been killed for his country. I thought about his "Semper Fi" sticker on his truck. I thought about his camo pants and his sisters and his dog and how I saw his mom at the airport in L.A. one time.

I saw a lot of people I hoped I'd never see again as long as I lived. I saw a girl with a monkey face and her husband who has gained about 50 pounds in the past 3 years who is best friends with my ex who represents a very sad and lonely part of my life that I wish I could forget about and erase forever. But you know what? I didn't care. It didn't matter.

The first person I ran into was one of my closest high school friends. We sat together.

Garrett's nickname was "Bear," and a lot of people brought new teddy bears into the sanctuary to donate to our local children's hospital in lieu of flowers.

I guess I wanted to write about Garrett because I have lost people in my life before and never taken the time to write about who they were to me. I never wrote about the impact that losing them had on my life. My sister has lost two of her good friends this year. I lost two friends to suicide within a one year period, but when I was in L.A., it's like it never happened, because I wasn't here. It's different when you see it on the news and you go to the funeral. It's different when losing a life is a part of yours.

I have never been to a friend's funeral before. It made me think about how obsessed I am with doing something with my life, and not subjecting myself to this lame town and just getting married and having a menial job and being a baby making machine. You never really know when God pulls your timecard. You never know when your time is up. You have to live every minute of your life exuberantly. Life is such a gift. It is such a precious, fleeting, sacred gift. It's hard to remember that when you're on the 405 or 385 or you get rear ended or you can't pay your rent. It's hard to remember it when your depression has stolen your personality or you love someone who doesn't love you or you interviewed 4 times for your dream job and you didn't make the cut. It's hard to remember what a precious gift life is when it doesn't feel worth living; but just because it doesn't FEEL worth it doesn't mean that it ISN'T worth it.

I'm not sure how to live. I'm not sure what it means to wake up and really LIVE. I want to have that. I want to DO that. And I'm not sure how, but I want to start.

I just know that when God pulls my timecard, I hope that I am remembered with integrity, the way Garrett was. Even the mayor came to his funeral. I'll never be able to send Garrett another letter, or tell him that I'm praying for him, but I am still really, really proud of him.

Same ole same ole

My friend from L.A. got stranded in Memphis the other night due to inclement weather, so I picked him up at his hotel and we went out to eat at a bbq place in the hood that has bars on the door and windows. It was nice to have a friend from another part of my life stop by and see where I am now, since I always feel like I'm floating around in the twilight zone and feeling like Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" when he starts to see his body erase from his family picture. I don't know where I fit or belong or where I'm supposed to be. The worst part is that I don't completely know where I WANT to be. I think if I knew what I actually wanted, I wouldn't feel quite so lost. I wouldn't feel like my fate is left up to a bunch of people who may or may not have my best interest in mind. And of course, people don't determine my fate at all; God does and I do, but when you're at the mercy of most other people, it's hard to remember that. I feel like I have two or three paths that I want to go down that ultimately could bring me a lot of joy and fulfillment for the course of my life, but picking one means giving up the others, and so I just wait, hoping that one of the paths will choose me so I don't choose the wrong one and screw up my entire life. This is not an original thought. A lot of people have thought this throughout the course of history. But when it's my life; when I'm the one experiencing it instead of just reading about it, it means something totally different.

Listening to my friend at dinner made me sort of feel like the past few years of my life never existed. We talked a lot about where I am now and where I'm going- what makes me happy or how I'm trying to find that out. Then he said, "That's the beauty of L.A. It's the Land of Dreamers. You can change your name. You can be whoever you want and do whatever you want. And nobody cares." And part of that is the paramount appeal of the city and culture; you CAN do whatever you want, and NOBODY cares. People don't hang onto the past. But they don't necessarily move to the future. There are two groups of people in L.A., though. Those who are only concerned with this very second, and those who are so ambitious that they will go to any measure to move forward. People don't ask you where you went to high school or who you used to date because they don't care. I love that part. For those who care about this very second, about the here and now, it was nice to experience that for a little while because that is so completely opposite of who I am. It was nice to be exposed to a new way of life.

Part of what makes me hate this town is part of what always brings me back. People here know me. People here know where I grew up and who I dated and who my friends were and where my house is and who my family is. They know me. That can be an anchor and a comfort at the same time.

I don't know what has happened to me, or what is happening to me, or what I'm doing. I'm 26 years old, I live with my parents, I am a bookkeeper and am making less money now than I did when I first graduated from college. I feel like my education hasn't really paid off and I get discouraged most mornings when I crank up my car in the freezing temperatures and drive 18 miles to work, way down the interstate past the ghetto and under overpasses, past muddy lakes and dead trees and slick surfaces to a job that took me 4.5 months to find. I'm not dogging my job. I actually like my job and tell God, every morning, "THANK YOU for this job." My coworkers are incredibly supportive and encouraging and I never think about work when I'm not working. I have never had a job like this. All of my jobs have been in the helping professions (special ed and counseling), so when I leave work, I never actually LEAVE- my mind is always thinking about treatment plans and support systems and helping people get their lives together. I keep thinking that maybe this time in my life, where I'm older than everyone in my office and am at the very bottom of the proverbial totem pole, is maybe a time for me to rest, and sleep all night, and enjoy the meaning of a functional environment, and finding what balance is. Maybe this time of hours upon hours of debits and credits and commutes and what could appear to be stagnation, is, indeed, a time to relax and be quiet and still until the next thing in my life, whatever it is, requires my undivided devotion.

My last job was spent with my boss always talking about how stupid everyone else was, and she would constantly yell the F word in all of our faces if we put the wrong postage on an envelope or spelled something wrong in an email. I've been working here since December 16, and two of my coworkers got me Christmas presents. These people don't even know me, and these are the kinds of people that they are. They are good, solid people who think about others, and that is invaluable.