There is rarely a moment in my life now that I am not appreciative of where I am, of what I have, of the people that surround me. I don't wake up in the morning with a million things that I wish I could change but I would be lying if I said there weren't things that need some tweaking. I recently started reading Anne of Green Gables again. It is such an inspirational story to read with a brilliant main character that even now at a million years old still inspires me to love this life I have found myself in. I have a bucket list in my head of all the beautiful things that I would love to see, all the wonderful adventures I would like to take. I have full faith that I will check each box slowly but surely. I get bored pretty easily but change often terrifies me. I don't know what to do that, often landing somewhere in the middle. I want change to happen but find myself quite comfortable where I am, too. There is something inside of me though that will always push me forward. There is this burning inside of me that will always whisper me to be better then where my feet currently stand. I can't not try something. I can't be content in just getting by because I've done that so much in my life. I don't regret. I often reevaluate. When I was younger someone once told me that I should never stop learning. I should never stop trying those things that made me scared. I should never settle just for what I could be but I should always strive for what I know I am. I understood even though I didn't quite know how to achieve that.
Most of my adult life has been spent taking care of my daughter, taking care of the people around me. It's been about making sure that my family has the basic needs to get by. So, I worked the jobs that I didn't like. I worked with people who didn't quite get me. I typed away hours on words that weren't mine because I needed to provide for that little girl playing with my sweet puppy. I needed to show up and be present in an environment that tore me apart to help my husband find his own feet. These things I do not regret. I will never regret but in the back of my mind I always remembered those words of wisdom. I never forgot what I was supposed to do. I just readjusted my priorities. Even in those moments when I thought that mediocrity was going to eat my soul, I still found a way to write my words and chase this dream even if it had no wings to fly then. I sat quietly and watched the world around me, taking note of people and the directions we all find ourselves going. I watched how so many people just settle for something that don't really want because it is simpler. It is easier. We will always fall back to the easy path when the hard road becomes too daunting. I'm not judging here. Lord knows for years I was just another zombie like so many others. I couldn't see my way out of that cubicle. There are days now I can't see my way out of waiting tables but I know there is. It's hard to make something better out of yourself when you seem stuck exactly where you are. I have to remind myself when people treat me poorly that they do not determine how bright my light is. I have to tell myself when a coworker belittles me that they are just passing ships in my life. I don't have to settle on this shore.
My father's passing and then losing my Shera changed me in ways that I didn't realize until recently. For whatever reason these things that feel empty to me aren't quite worth fighting about. Honestly I don't have the drive to be the best everything anymore. I don't want to be the one people go to when they have a problem. It may sound a bit on the selfish side but there has been so much of my life spent on taking care of other people I guess I need a time out. Since my father's passing I have found more solace in writing these words than I have ever found before. There was something about losing him that inspired me to finally be the me I know I can be. I published books that I never thought would ever see the light of day. I quit a job that had become toxic, not realizing how toxic it was until I was gone. Granted, I have found myself in a job that frustrates just as much but I know that I can walk away. I have taken away the expectations people had for me, the ones that I put on them in the first place. I decided to learn again, to smile again, to allow myself to dream again. I had forgotten that this life isn't about bills or credit scores. I had gotten so used to being the martyr. I will do your work and your work and her work because it needs to be done even if my fingers bleed, even if my back breaks... but I see now so much more clearly the poor lesson in that. There was something about losing my father that reminded me of his fiery, red haired girl that he saw in me. Somewhere along my way I lost that spark but I feel it coming back. I feel this fire starting to burn again.
I have no regrets about the choices I made in my life. I don't discredit the detours that I've taken along my way. This life is about experiencing where you are when you are how you are. We zombie through so much of our days, stomping that flower that managed to bloom through the concrete. We bring our waters and we take our orders without ever really seeing whose sitting at our table. We forget that there is beauty in everything around us. We swallow our dreams because they just don't seem possible. Think of all the things we have to do to make them come true, right? And who has the time with the kids' practice and the work schedules and the dog needs to go to the vet... We don't have to get stuck in that. We can still carry around our butterfly nets. I think when we witness death there is a light that goes off in our heads. We are reminded that life is fleeting. We are made very aware that nothing is going to last forever. I knew that my father would die one day much like I know my mother will join him as well. I watched my dog get older and older, knowing it was always going to be my decision when her time was up. And those are heartbreaking things. How fragile life looked as my father laid in that hospital bed, this once joyful man now so weak on that bed. How peaceful my sweet puppy looked as she took her last breath. These moments, these hard, lovely moments woke something in me up and I remembered those words that were once told me as a young girl. This life that I have lived, that I have spent worrying about everyone else has been wonderful but I realized I wasn't the me I knew I could be. I set my words free, finding a courage that I had forgotten I had. I allowed myself to feel all those old wounds that I carried for far too long in my life and I let them go. Holding onto them was drowning those lessons I knew I needed to learn. Sure, I work a job that is not my passion but I'm good at and it pays the bills. I struggle with being the best mother I can be for my teenage daughter, not really knowing how to right now. I want to be everything that everyone needs, knowing that everyone included myself and having a hard time finding a balance there. My life will go on as it always has. I will still have to drop the kid off to a million different places and pay the bills and clean the house. I will have this hole that losing my father and puppy created for a long time to come and it's all right. Life presents challenges. We can either sit down and let them bulldoze us or we can stand. I can't fix losing these very special people in my life but I can use the love they had for me, for life and do better because of them. I can be whatever kind of shore I want.
There have been so many things in my life that anger has destroyed. I have allowed that ugly part of me to muddle up the prettiest parts. So many times the anger wasn't worth it in the first place. We get wrapped up in these things that don't matter, twisted into feeling a certain way because it wasn't exactly the way we thought it would be. When I was younger, I watched my mother scream and I remember saying that I would never do that. Funny how sometimes I wish I could just scream instead of bottling it all up like I usually do. That is a lovely trait that I learned from my father. I am terrified to truly be angry if I am being honest. It's such a dark cloud that destroys so much around us. I find myself getting angry at the smallest, dumbest things because I won't allow myself to get angry at the bigger things that I should be angry at. Someone doesn't fill the ice. I'm not mad because they didn't fill the ice. I'm mad at the lack of consideration for other people. The kid won't just get her stuff out of the living room. I'm not really mad at the mess. I'm angry that she has absolutely no responsibility about her own stuff. But I have a hard time vocalizing those things because I did this or I did that. Somehow I always turn my ever watching critical eye back on myself. At the end of the day, I am the only one I can hold accountable. I am the only one I can change.
My issues with anger have been a part of my DNA for such a long time. Once upon this life I was nothing but a giant ball of anger. The lady at the coffee shop got my order wrong and I would fly off the handle. A friend wouldn't meet me somewhere and instantly we were at war. Nothing escaped my wrath but I was never really angry at that lady in the coffee shop or my friend for not meeting me. I was angry because I felt alone, incomplete, ashamed, guilty. It was the part of my life after college happened when I felt completely out of control. I would tell my story and people would look at me as if I was covered in shit. I would cry and no one would offer me a tissue. I would get angry and people would make me feel as if I was wrong. So instead of being angry at the things I should have been angry at, I became angry at everything. It was easier to look at you and just think that you were out to get me rather than you wanted to help and just didn't know how. I would get angry even when people genuinely tried to help me. In my chaotic head, I thought it meant that these kind people thought I was incapable of taking care of myself. So many parts of me had been beaten down, I just didn't know how to accept anything else. I stopped talking to people, started assuming nothing would be understood. I believed that I was the crazy person for being angry even at things that I had every right to be angry at.
I had a dinner with a lovely lady last night before the storm hit at home. We talked openly and honestly and with love. I've known her for only a short amount of time but instantly I knew that her spirit was kind. I told her my stories and she told me hers. At one point she looked at me and said she would have never known my scars if I hadn't said anything. It made me smile because it affirms that I have grown leaps and bounds from that angry girl that just wanted to disappear. I compare the me then and the me now, the way I feel and the way I cope and the way I love. I still have my issues with anger. I still don't really know how to do let it out in a healthy manner. To me, it's one way or the other. I either want to explode all over place or I want to suck it all in and not let anyone know. I say I am fine way more than I should. Sometimes I'm not fine but I remember so clearly how heart breaking it was to reach out and get slapped away. My husband has the kindest intentions in the world. He wants only to see me happy and would do anything to make sure that I am. I have never had anyone in my life that has been more invested in my happiness. It makes me smile. He gets angry at me though when I won't talk about what is bothering me. Sometimes I don't know what is bothering me. I can't pinpoint exactly why I am so irritated. I just am. And sometimes I just have to let myself feel the irritation, the anger, and ride it out. I can be cold and I can hold back but I understand why sometimes I have to be that way. It's not that I am ashamed of my scars anymore. I haven't been for a long time. I'm afraid the way people will tell me I am wrong for these feelings that run rampant under my cool exterior. There have been times in my life that my anger made me look like a fool. There have been people in my life that have told me that I am not allowed to be angry. There have been moments in my life when I believed both.
Anger and I have an odd relationship now. While I may be the easiest, most unselfish person that people may meet, I've got a volcano inside me that I keep on a tight rope. I have seen the worst parts about anger, what it does to someone who can't control it. I have been that person that has never said a word when I'm done wrong. These are both extremes. I wish I could help my husband understand why I don't yell when someone takes advantage of me, why I walk away from harsh words more than I'll puff up my chest. The older I get the better I understand the importance of choosing how to disperse this anger I have inside. People joke that it's going to be real funny when one day I just let myself go. I am calm and understanding and cool but I also take a lot of stuff in. I put it in a box somewhere deep inside and let it fester and sometimes it comes out at midnight with a screaming match with my kid because she wouldn't take her notebook upstairs. Sometimes that tiny, Italian mother of mine possesses me and I start yelling. It's not because I want to start yelling. It's because sometimes I have to blow off that steam. Should I learn to find the in between of major explosions and a punching bag? Absolutely. I am a constant work in progress. I should learn how to express myself when things bother me better and not let it sit inside for so long. I should allow my voice to raise in a controlled manor when it is appropriate. There is a part of me that will always be scared to let you see that vulnerability however because I remember what it was like to be told I was wrong to have those feelings. I remember how much it took out of me when I would speak and no one would listen. I learned over time that being the squeaky wheel solved little and being the martyr solved even less. Where does that leave me? Right where my feet stand. I will never be ashamed of that angry girl I used to be. There will always be a beauty in the fight that was in my spirit. I can remember her and I can hold onto her and I can be at peace with her. I have found a peace with these scars I carry, a peace with letting go of those things that hurt me. I am calm and quiet but the volcano that once burned inside of me will always burn. Anger doesn't always have to be something to fear and that is something that I will one day come to terms with.
There are moments, these quiet moments
When beauty wraps around you like a blanket.
Driving down this highway with nothing around
I understand the lovely in dotted lines.
I get lost in the branches waving me on
As I step away for a moment, this quiet moment.
Our faces turn red in the midst of our lives
And we forget the way a smile inspires greatness.
He sits beside me as the sky blurs by.
I tell myself to remember this moment, this him
So my hand writes, knowing I now have this us forever.
I close my eyes and relish in this life, my quiet life,
Knowing that the impossible of me has already been disproven.
Mountains I have climbed and hills I have failed
But it was always in the quiet moments when I rose.
Driving down this highway I hear her chatter,
Remembering those tiny moments of her that went by way too fast.
I sit and write these words, capturing this her,
Knowing tomorrow this her will be different.
This life, this brilliant life is nothing but one moment
And I understand so clearly how the lovely within them.
The grace of them cradles and we move forward,
Collecting them along our way,
Remembering the us we will never be again,
And dreaming of the lovely we will become
As the sky blurs by, the branches wave us forward.
I don't often watch the news. It's not because I don't want to be informed or that I don't value current events. I just get tired of hearing the same one sided notes, seeing the same mixed messages. Today the news happened to come on after I was watching something. On it was Donald Trump accepting his nomination as Presidential Candidate. I don't often take a stand on politics either way. In my life I have seen politics bring out the ugliest of people. It inspires a wicked sort of competition between us and becomes about everything but the issues at hand. I've had my opinions about this election but none that I have really shared but after watching his acceptance speech, I decided that it was time that I speak my mind on this matter because it matters. I have only voted once for Obama. And, I know, I am getting shamed by so many of you out there. Sure, you can shake your head at me and tell me that all votes matter and I believe you. I get it. I would have voted in this race if Bernie had made it because he is the first person I've ever seen stand by his convictions and truly believe what he was saying... but he didn't make it. And why he didn't make it is a huge disappointment in the people of this country. Instead, we are left with Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.
I don't believe that either one should be in that seat. I will just go ahead and say that before someone gets upset. Now, both sides of people can get upset at me. I do believe that Hilary Clinton offers more, that she has more experience, that I would feel a bit more confident with her at that desk but not by much. Because like Trump, I do believe that she brings her own concerns. I do believe that her agenda isn't all that stellar either. Here's the difference though. Hilary Clinton has been involved in politics for most of her life. She knows the red tape, understands the protocols. She sat in that Oval office with her husband, seeing the expectations and the hardships of what being of the President of the United States entails. Her politics? Not great. Her ethics? Not commendable but I would rather have someone who has half a brain than someone who doesn't seem to have one at all. Donald Trump should have never made it this far. He should have never been considered a serious candidate. I know. I just ticked off a lot of people by saying that but I am just as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours. What I think of when I think of Donald Trump is a person who was fired from his own Reality TV show. I think of a person who has said horrible things about a group of people that have done nothing to him. Build a wall? What is that? How about we fix the problem and offer these people a better way to a better life? How about we don't just make a new obstacle for them and make their lives that much harder? You don't fix a problem with ignorance or hatred. You don't fix a problem with another problem. Sure, China built a wall but we are in 2016 now where we should know better how to be kinder to each other, more compassionate towards the other. I hear the man talk and he literally says nothing. He offers nothing but smoke and it boggles my mind that he has as many followers as he does. I wish my father was still here because I would love to hear his thoughts on the man. My father was a Republican through and through. He voted Republican no matter what because he was loyal to his party but I think even he would have issue with a man like Donald Trump in that seat.
I think we've all forgotten what this country is about. I think we've forgotten what this world is about. At the end of the day, cities and countries are just man made lines. We have to have them to create order, to prevent chaos. And at the end of the day, this title of President and Senator and Judge are just titles created by man to create order, prevent chaos. Someone has to be in charge otherwise no one is in charge. There isn't always going to be that perfect Charles to fill that seat so we have to settle. I watch the news right now and they are talking about yet another terrorist attack in Munich, talking about another altercation between the Police and a 2nd grade black teacher being pulled over for a traffic violation only to be violently taken down. This is why I don't like the news because this world just gets uglier and uglier when now more than ever we have the ability to change it. So when Donald Trump talks about building a wall to keep people out that's not moving this world in the proper direction. We are only teaching our children that hate and bigotry are what is going to move you forward in this world. No, we stop for a second and we listen to each other. We take a moment and give each other a hug regardless of what sex, color, preference, religion we are. Anyone that proclaims that differences make us wrong has no business telling anyone what is right.
So who will I vote for in the coming election? Neither one. Not because of party but because of their political positions. When this country was built it wasn't about a party. It was about the issues, freedom, making a better life for everyone. When this country was built it was built for everyone who was looking to better themselves. Now? Now we talk about building walls. Now we talk about how we're going to keep people out. Now we are more concerned about whether you like a donkey or an elephant better rather what is really important. I am not officially registered as either one, Republican or Democrat, because to me it is not about where I rest my hat. It's about what these people believe in, what kind of people they are. Hilary Clinton is sketchy to me. Donald Trump is nothing but a slimy businessman. I can't support either one. Sure, I know where they stand on issues but it's about people. The choice becomes who is the lesser of two evils. In my opinion, Hilary Clinton but that doesn't mean I'm a fan. I wish we could get back to what was important, what mattered. Strip away these political parties and let people stand on the issues instead of some rich man's pocket. We are far more capable to make this world what we want it to be than we think. People like Trump aren't going to get us there. It's not about this country being great again. It's about people being great again.
As someone who has worked in the service industry I often hear the phrase "self worth". It's true. People who work in this industry make their living off other people's kindness. There is no salary to count on. If we don't work, we don't get paid. If the weather is crappy and business is slow, we don't make money. If we get bad tips, there is nothing to fall back on except for the hope that the people we take care of can pay us appropriately for our service. Sometimes even giving the best service in the world makes little difference to the people you are taking care of. And that's just the nature of the business. I make a choice every day to do this sort of work to provide for my family. I make the choice to work a job where my livelihood is not guaranteed because this particular job choice gives me the freedom to pursue this dream. I accept that and I will never give anything but my best. Here's the thing though. It gets frustrating when you feel like your worth is based on someone's bad mood. It gets tedious when you give your all but it still doesn't seem to make the cut because some sour puss that sat at your table decided that you were lesser than them because of the job choice you have found yourself in. And as a woman who was once a young lady who before that was an impressionable young girl looking at magazines and television it is a hard pill to swallow that my self worth is determined by ignorance. I don't take it personally... now. I think nothing of these images that flash before my eyes... now. I don't care that I'm not a size 2... now.
But let's rewind the clock and go back for a second. I looked up to the strong woman characters like Wonder Woman, like She-Ra (who I name my sweet pup after), like Rainbow Brite not because of what they looked like. I looked up to them because of their strength, their intellect, their kindness. Diana Prince played by Linda Carter was breath taking and I can admit that is probably why I've always been fascinated with having dark hair but her appearance was not the first thing that I went to. But I remember being a little girl looking at Barbie, this impossible doll that I was supposed to look just like. I just never did. I wasn't thin until I developed an eating disorder as a teenager. I wasn't blonde until much later in my life. My eyes will always be poop brown and sadly it was something I disliked about myself for a long time. I would look through magazines at these girls who seemed to be effortlessly perfect and I thought that was the way I was supposed to look. I thought there was something wrong with my slightly red hair, my symmetrical moles on my face. I thought that my freckles that would come out when I stayed in the sun too long were proof that I was imperfect. I let these outside things determine my self worth for far too much of my life until I decided it was all a crock of poo. My mother had this rule when I was young that my sister and I couldn't wear make up until we were twelve. I don't know why twelve was the magic number but I remember being ten and being so curious about make up. The thing is though when I turned twelve I didn't care all that much about it. Maybe I owned some mascara. I don't know. I don't even own that stuff now and I've been old enough to own it for a long time. I remember making a decision around twelve that if people were going to like me, they were going to like me for exactly the way I looked. I somehow convinced myself that make up was a sort of a mask. Because what would happen once I took all that make up off? Would someone still like me? I think my logic was that if someone wasn't going to like me, I'd prefer them reject me right off the bat. I don't know looking back if that was altogether healthy way to look at it but I just didn't have time to wait and see. I'd rather you dislike me instantly then for me to put any effort into you. I find it poetic in a way that the older I get, the more I become just like that sassy teenage girl I used to be.
When I was pregnant with my daughter before I knew she was going to be a girl, I had hoped that I was going to have a boy. Do I still wish that? Well... No, absolutely not. I remember daydreaming what it would be like to raise a son, relieved that I wouldn't have to watch the struggle that I had with my own self worth all over again in a daughter. But life is life and life gave me a girl (thankfully a brilliant, strong girl), leaving me to face down the demons that haunted my awkward adolescence. The sad part is that this struggle is not just a girl's struggle. It's a human struggle where we think we determine what someone is worth based on what they do for a living, where they live, who they love, what color their skin just happens to be. We treat each other horribly because we all feel like we all have the right to throw stones. I had a gentleman the other night who looked at me in the strangest way. I couldn't tell if he was delighted by my tattoos or disgusted by them. Often people's reactions are one way or the other. It didn't matter either way. I just found it curious that this person I don't know cares that much. And I know the flowers that are permanently drawn on my arms sometimes effect the way that I am tipped. I know that some people think me less of a person because I have "defaced my body." Men with tattoos are looked at just the same but there seems to be an extra struggle as a woman. Instantly I am trash but I stopped giving into those assumptions a long time ago. I know who I am. I know that despite the dye in my hair, despite the non offensive ink that lies within this skin I am a kind, loving person. I know that it is not someone else's job to tell me what I am worth. Really I am, you are, we are all priceless.
My daughter and I always disagree on a Megan Trainer song. I am pretty sure that I have posted it on here but it's All About That Base. The song is honestly just saying that we are all perfect just the way we are though my daughter sees it as skinny bashing. It's neither here or there because at the end of the song all she is saying is that we're not all going to be perfect, we are perfect the way we are. There is nothing wrong with improving one's self. We should learn new things, progress our current situations because the minute we stop being better is the moment we will always fail. It's just that we should determine what our perfect is. Sometimes I get a ten dollar tip on a seventy dollar check. There are times when my husband gets a five dollar tip on a forty dollar tab. There have been times when people have referred to my weight as something that makes me less of a person. And I'm not hideous or anything, just a few extra pounds really that I will always be working to get rid of, but because I am not the size of Barbie my person will always be questioned. None of this will stop because as humans we will always be in some one sided competition with each other. Telling someone they are not good enough, they are not smart enough, they are not strong enough is a real easy way to make you feel better about yourself. The easy road is always to tear someone else down. I don't believe that the people tip badly or are rude are necessarily bad but I do believe that some find some sort of power in it. They didn't like me and that's all right. I've said this before and I'll say it until I die I am OK with not being liked but I will find being unfair unacceptable. We have so much in this world, in our lives that will constantly tell us what we are worth. We won't be tall enough. We won't be thin enough. We won't be smart enough. We won't have enough experience. We won't be *insert silly thing here*. We will always have people in our lives, people in the media tell us how we should judge what we are worth and it's silly. It took me a long time to understand that the only person in my life that has the right to tell me what I am worth, what I am capable of is myself. It's not our parents. It's not our siblings. It's not our children. It's not our friends. It's not that stupid reality star on the television. I don't wear make up because I don't think I need it now. It's not about being rejected. It's not about being accepted either. I am worthy of this life exactly the way I am. It has nothing to do with what we put on our faces or what we wear or how much of a tip a grumpy old man gives me. You are the only one who can determine that. I am, you are, we are all priceless.
I often get the question is my home as neat as I like to keep things at work? The honest answer is no. I battle with my need for order and my love for creative chaos. At work there is a job that needs to be done. It doesn't matter what kind of work I am doing or what kind of work environment I find myself in. At my restaurant jobs empty cups drive me crazy. The lemons that aren't refilled when someone uses the last of them gives me small seizures. At my desk jobs my desk was always left in an orderly manner. Papers neatly stacked and put to the side. Projects that need to be done put in the proper basket. My decorations perfectly placed in a way that makes me feel calm. And my home? There always seem to be laundry to fold, dishes to wash, blankets left strewn about. While I find solace in my work being in order, I find the same kind of solace in the mess that is my home. My need for perfection battles the joy I get out of tornado kitties making a mess. I don't seem to mind walking in to shoes being left out or a couple of empty water bottles left on my night stand. I think there is a beautiful balance that I've managed to find between my OCD tendencies and my say lave attitude.
There is peace in cleaning though. I know that when I am upset it helps me to take bleach to the toilet. It helps me to vacuum the crap out of the carpet even though I know I will never ever ever get all the cat hair up. In fact, I will still probably find my dog's hair for years to come. I find solace in putting something that is a complete mess into some kind of order. If I think about it really it makes sense that at my work whatever I may be doing at the time I find it calming to clean, to straighten, to fill. I'm in a high stress environment for whatever the reason. I've just been triple sat but I still find time to throw a bucket of ice in the beverage station because it makes me feel good to make it perfect again. To wipe the counter after five people walked away from it because of being lazy or being busy or whatever makes me feel better about the job I am doing. It's like a reset button. It was dirty and now it's not. Now we can move forward. People look at me like I'm a crazy person because I can't sit still. I think a lot of that comes from my mother though. Not once did I ever really see her sit down, relax. She was always doing something. She was always making something. She was always making things better. In so many ways I am like her. Who wants to work in an environment where there is no order? Sometimes I watch people run around when it's not necessary. I see the madness that people create for themselves when it doesn't have to be that way. You stop. You fix it. You move on. There are no lemons. You refill them. There are no cups. You refill them. Someone dropped a ranch on the floor. You clean it up. There is sense to that, a calm that you can find in the simplicity of resetting something back to new.
And then I think about my home, my life experiences that haven't always been able to put into a nice box. I haven't always been able to wrap something up in a nice bow. I haven't always wanted to. The reality of life is that perfection doesn't exist. While I can stack plates in an orderly fashion, I can't always stack my life the same way. I have a teenage daughter which often causes chaos in my home. We don't always see eye to eye. Things don't always work out nicely the way they should. I have my ideas and she has hers. She doesn't understand currently that I have been around a bit longer than she has and she won't understand that until she's been around for longer than she has. It's life. I would like to have an orderly house with things always in their place. I would like to have nice things that don't collect dust but I know that's not my part in this life. I know that I love life to be slightly askew. I enjoy the way my husband is a little bit messy. I love lying on the couch and watching dumb television even though there are a million things to do. There is beauty there. Don't get me wrong. I get bugs up my butt sometimes and I end up tossing half my house out. That is the struggle that is me.
Having a creative mind often conflicts with my practical nature. I laugh when things don't go my way because after being on this earth 37 years I understand that often life will not go my way. I think I accepted that when I found myself a single mother of a little girl. Of course life hadn't gone my way before that but knowing and accepting are two different things. When I write, I often have no plan. I don't make outlines or bullet points. I don't make a plan on where it will go. I sometimes sit down to write without knowing the first sentence that will pour out of these fingers. I just write. I allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling without regulations, without hesitations. I allow myself honesty within my words because that is what being creative is to me. I compare it to the other areas of my life. Financially I am a prude. I make plans. I think about the things that need to be paid for. I try to figure out the most efficient way, the most beneficial way to keep my family afloat. I live in the moment just as much as I imagine tomorrow. And somehow I have found a balance with both. In these stolen moments when I can sit down and write I can give myself permission to let the need for perfection go. I give myself permission to close my eyes and let myself feel all the things that are impractical to feel when I got a full section to take care of, when I got a teenage daughter to argue with, when I have a husband to be serious with. My creative heart will always find a way to beat.
Balance is probably one of the biggest things this world is missing. We find something and we run with it, not really thinking about the complications being one extreme may cause. I used to have a hard time balancing the two. I thought that there was something wrong with me. I would go too serious, only thinking about the technicalities of this world and forgetting that my heart need care as well. I would get wrapped up in the bills, in making money, in trying to make everything perfect that I would forget that my daughter's face covered in peanut butter was a far more beautiful sight. I would lose myself in trying to be everything to everyone that I would forget about the girl sitting in the corner of a coffee shop. In the same breath I would go the other direction. I would only get lost in the peanut butter. I would only want to be by myself. Being the extreme of one was just as unhealthy. I think I have only just conquered this idea of balance. For so long I was the only one my daughter had so that's who I was, that's what I did. There wasn't much time to nurture the lovely parts of me. And then in the last few years something changed and I understood that while I could still be everything to the people who mattered, I could also be something to me. I could be proud of the clean kitchen counter just as much as I could enjoy the socks on the floor. When I come at night, I know my house isn't perfect. I know my life isn't perfect. I know the kitties will have knocked down half the things on my dresser. I know the kid will have found a new way to junk up my living room. I know my husband's shorts will be laying on the floor next to the bed. I can find joy in those things, too. This mind of mine is both practical and imperfect. I have idiocies, odd quirks, a love for misfits. I can create and I can keep in order and I will always find sense in both. Life is often a brilliant gray.
I am an observer by nature. Most the time I sit and watch and think before I say my peace. I always have the mentality of think before you speak, get all the facts before you judge. So, I've been sitting back and watching this crazy world around me. I've listened to the news and watched the videos and put all these bits of information in my head, mulled them around to really figure out what this world has become. And you know what the conclusion my mind brought me to? I landed on an episode of LOST. And, yeah, I am one of those people. Losties I believe is what we were called. And you know what else? I am perfectly proud to say that I found solace in that show, in the message that it was trying to convey. Sure, it got crazy around the third season. I can keep it real. True fact here but the show was only supposed to be three seasons until ABC wanted more because of its success. So, as a writer I understand they had to adjust. Unfortunately you can't expect a ten year old boy to slow his growth. Sorry, Walt, you made it in the end though. Anyway, I found myself thinking of that episode in Season One where they are all sitting around the fire. Crazy stuff was happening. Jack, the beautiful martyr he was is giving a speech about their very precarious situation. His words were "Live together or die alone." He was right. We either live in this world together, find a way to live in this world together or we die alone.
I have never understood being ugly to another person for no reason. Maybe I just don't have the capacity (thankfully) to look at someone at just assume a certain thing because someone told me to. I know I've written blogs about how we should love each other and I stand by them but over the last few weeks I've come to the conclusion that some people will never truly understand what that means. Is it something that was instilled in them as children? This hate for people or things they don't know? Or is it just a flaw in their own DNA that makes them think that hurting another person is an acceptable thing to do? And I don't know. We can say that we learned from our parents but haven't we moved beyond that in this day and age? My parents weren't the most open people when I was younger. I am not saying that they were unloving or mean or put out any negative vibes into the world. I can, however, remember conversations talking about homosexuality or the color of someone's skin that we didn't always see eye to eye on. Here is what I can say though my parents were far more open to this ever changing society than theirs. So then is it a generational thing? Do we just get better with each generation that comes around? But then I read an article on the man who got shot by police around my age and then the man who shot the Police Officers in Dallas around my age and it throws the theory that we get better out the window. I would like to think that for all the progress humanity has made over the years we are not just reverting back to ignorance out of laziness. I would like to think that we haven't forgot all of the people who fought for us today to be in a better place.
Sometimes I find myself in these conversations with my daughter. I like to check in with her to see where these teenagers nowadays find themselves. Where has this generation landed? My daughter's generation has had the benefit and misfortune of social media being at their fingertips. They can instantly find out whatever they want with a simple swipe of their finger. They don't have to go to the library and flip through a million pages of the Encyclopedia. I'm not sure if my daughter has ever really seen one. Why would she need one? Wikipedia is so much more convenient. In her life she didn't see the struggle that I have seen. And in my life I didn't see the struggle my parents saw and so on and so on. Because that strife is not right there in front of us in the same way, I do believe that we have lost touch with the importance of a woman taking a seat on the bus or the young college man standing in front of that tank. Her generation seems to understand the intolerance, the injustice of what goes on in the world but I wonder are they the generation that are going to change things? If they truly understand the importance of that kind of courage? Are they going to be the generation that keep people like Donald Trump out of politics? Are they going to be the generation that finally makes the environment an actual priority? I look back the Hippy generation with all their beautiful ideals, all their wonderful intentions, and that is the generation I know I should have been at an age where I could've participated but I was born too late. My daughter's generation have the power to change things for the better but I often wonder if they will. I don't think it will be because they are incapable. These kids are brilliant but so influenced by this social media that is both a blessing and a burden. You can read articles on Malala Yousafzai, this brave young woman who stood up for a basic right every girl should have and be inspired in the same breath you can look up dumb Kardashian quotes. It seems almost counter productive. And, really, I could go on about social media and the damage I think it does but that's for another time...
I go back to Jack and his speech. I think about where it is I want to sit, what stand I would like to take. There are so many parts just in our daily lives where we let the negative overwhelm us. Someone does something stupid and we instantly want to ostracize them. Someone doesn't understand something so we instantly make fun of them. Someone doesn't do something the way you would do it and they are deemed forever morons in your heads. This concept of living together is nothing new. We all do it even we don't realize we're doing it. You work a job and you don't always like everyone you work with but do you throw rocks at them because of it? No, you suck it up and do your job. Why? Because it's your job and it's their job and you both have to make a living. We as human beings aren't always going to like the other. In fact, there are people in this world that I have no interest in whatsoever but not because of the color of their skin, not because of who life decided they were going to love, not because they chose to believe in a certain god. I have no interest in them whatsoever because the kind of people they are. It is their behavior, their general attitude that makes me veer the other way. I don't assume anything of a person based on just what I see. Judging someone on superficial things is stupid for a lack of a better word. We all have our baggage. We all have our plights. And sometimes we're just not going to like the other but we still should treat each other with basic human respect. Does that mean that I am going to harass them or make a flag to tell them how much I don't like them? Does that mean that I'm going to follow them around and constantly belittle them? No because, to put it simply, that is stupid. People who purposely make someone feel low or worthless are, to put this simply, are stupid. Just because you don't like someone does not give you a free pass to destroy their existence. People aren't always going to like me. I admit there was a time in my life if someone didn't like me it broke my heart. It's OK now. Not everyone is going to my biggest fan and I can understand that. I can't change that and I'm OK with that, too. Just because we don't like someone doesn't mean we can't work together, doesn't mean we can't live in this world together. We all live in this world. We all have to breathe this air. We all have families to raise, bills to pay, lives to live. We can coexist. We don't have to believe in the same things. We don't have to love in the same way. What we do have to do is learn to agree to disagree. We fight over who is right when it doesn't matter because right is relative. Being kind, being loving, being compassionate towards each other, isn't that what every religion teaches? We all bleed red no matter what we look like, no matter where we come from. We can choose to let go of these things that we hold against each other. We can choose to live together. We don't have to die alone. We can choose to share the fire instead of stomping it out.
I think when you come back from vacation you always have a new air about you. It is like you went somewhere, hit the reset button, and now everything is back to being new again. You go away to miss what you have because when you're stuck in it sometimes it is hard to see the beauty of it. And other times you go away and you realize that you don't want to go back to what you came from. Both are cool. Both are human. I do believe that I am lucky because I have never really doubted where I wanted to be. I just got lost along the way about how to get there. Now, though, now my head is clear, more clear than it has been in a long time. I knew I loved my child and my husband and my friends and my family and my furry babies (dog and cat alike). I've always known how much I loved sitting down and writing myself down on paper or on this screen. I have always known words were going to be the thing that catapulted me to whatever greatness I was or was not destined for. Life isn't about destiny, not really. We make our own lives on our own terms. I just think that's one of the hardest things to realize.
I observe people around me a lot, probably more than I should. When you work in the restaurant industry, you are presented with some true gems and some horrible turds on both the customer and worker side of things. It is in a job like this that you figure out what you are, who you are. There are lifers who will this kind of job forever. As crazy as some people might think this is, there is definitely a skill that you need to perform this job on a long term basis. Humanity can be rough. People can come in and make you feel like horse poo and in the same breath give you faith back. For people who want to do this for the long run, I applaud you because there is only so much a girl like me can take. But that's the thing I can do this sort of job because I know it's not my end game. I know that I won't be bringing you a cup of coffee when I'm an actual old lady. Sometimes these jobs are just pit stops, something to do while you're figuring out where you are going to go next. I worked in office jobs and they weren't any better than this industry. It was just a different drama for the same kind of day. I know people thought it was kind of bananas that my husband and I went from one restaurant to another. After all weren't we just tired of the restaurants? The answer is yes but here's the thing I'm not going to be a successful writer over night and he's not going to be a brilliant "fill in the blank" tomorrow. In the meantime, we need to pay for these lights and that kid's braces. Unfortunately, my husband's charm can't charm us into free living... at least yet anyway.
The point is we don't always know what we want to do. We don't always have a good grasp on what is going to make us happy, what is going to complete what we think is empty. So we flounder and we work in between jobs that will get us through, hoping that it doesn't take too horribly long for that light to turn itself on in our heads. For a long time while I knew I wanted to write, I had given up on it ever being anything but an elephant dream. It was something that I could do for my own purposes but no one would really read my stuff. So every job that I got, I put everything in it, put every ounce of me in it, and you know what? I still felt incomplete at the end of the day. I was making some pretty decent money at some of these places. I didn't have to struggle to pay my bills. I didn't have to find change to put gas in my car or feed my kid from the dollar menu at McDonalds. I was financially stable but I was emotionally broken. In my older years, I've come to realize that my happiness is ten times more important. If money meant more to me, I would've never left where I was. If money meant something, I would still be wilting in some cubicle because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. Then, I lost my father and the light finally went off in my head. He was gone and I was still here and this dream that he always knew would come true became too heavy to carry around in my pocket. So, here we are. I know where I'm going. My husband still struggles and it kills me a little to see him try to figure it out. I can't decide for him. I can't go flick that switch. What I can do is hold his hand, help him along to help him find his feet on the ground that he is supposed to land on. If it means working some extra shifts, so be it. My words will still be here. If it means picking up some of the slack around the house, so be it. My words will still be here. I figured out my yellow brick road. I can help him find his, too.
While we were in Vegas, I observed a ton of different people. I watched how they interacted with the other. It is probably the only place in the world that is littered with people from everywhere. I remember sitting at a slot machine waiting for my husband and our friend to stop playing at a Black Jack table. I watched the people walking by, wondering if they knew where they were going, if they had any idea of what they were doing. Some of them looked lost, unclear of even where they were. There was something sort of beautiful about them. There was something sort of beautiful about the way their eyes darted, the free flow of their laughter. I could appreciate the now, being in that moment. I took a lot of pictures in Vegas but there were moments I refused to take out my phone because I wanted to remember those lost faces. I wanted to relish the seat I was sitting in at that moment. I could compare it to previous visits. Where was I then compared to now? How much older have I gotten? It made me grateful that this was now the skin I was wearing, wrinkles and a few extra pounds and all. I remember I looked over the Casino at my husband, knowing the moment he started rubbing his forehead he was in trouble, and smiling at that man. We may not know exactly where we are going right now but isn't there something beautiful about that, too? Perhaps it takes being older to truly appreciate the lovely parts about putting your pieces together. One day we'll have that big house and the reliable cars and book deals but today what we do have is a whole lot of love. That's my kind of happy.
I just returned from a much needed Las Vegas vacation. It was nice to get away, to not have to work, to for once sit down and let people bring me a drink. It was nice waking up and not having a million things to do, not worrying about when I will have a chance to fold the laundry, do the dishes, to chauffeur my child from here to there. We work so hard for the things we have, for the things we do. I wish there was more of a balance in these worlds we make for ourselves. I wish there was a way to balance this work ethic and the joy of leisure in a better way on a daily basis. My husband and I busted our butts for the last few months to make this vacation happen. It was a lot of working doubles, a lot of picking up shifts. There were so much time in preparation for this vacation that we almost lost the point of it at times. Unfortunately working the jobs that we do means that if we are not working we are not making money. So to take off a week is a week without income. So not only do we have to put money towards the vacation, we also have to put money towards coming home. It's not like an office job that has vacation days where even if you are not working, you are still getting paid that hourly rate. No, I make $2.13 an hour and then whatever people deem I deserve. But you know what was nice? It was nice to sit down and ask politely for a Mr. Jitters Coffee Old Fashion with my Beef Wellington to a very nice waiter who put the napkin on my lap for me. It was nice to smile at someone with ease after nicely asking for a refill on my water. It was nice to be on the other end of the serving.
I was in the Starbucks in the Cosmopolitan getting my daily fix to quiet my coffee addiction one morning. The line was long but to give Starbucks credit in Las Vegas they moved through it quickly. It was there that I met the greatest High Roller gambler in Vegas who thought that Starbucks food was the greatest food in the world. It made me giggle. I live on tips and I get it. I pay my bills based on the kindness of others and it's cool. So, I go through the line patiently. I'm on vacation, right? No rush. I get up to the line and make a comment about how they were rocking that morning. The woman behind the counter then goes into a schpeel about how tips make all the difference, hinting very obviously how I should tip her. And honestly? Honestly I know what the employees make. I worked briefly for the company and I know what they offer. I know that they make a decent hourly rate. I know that they are offered decent health benefits with only a twenty hour work week requirement. These tips that she spoke of were not something that were a necessity for her living requirements. I'm a pretty astute person. I knew well enough to know that she just wanted a tip. I also understand that these tips they get are shared between all the employees working. There were seven people behind that counter doing a really great job of moving these people in and out so that they could then go back out into those Casinos and lose their money. I rarely find a Starbucks in Raleigh that works with as much efficiency as this one in Las Vegas. I'm not a fan of the corporation but I give props when props are due. Props to you, Las Vegas Starbucks :) I listened politely to the woman behind this counter going on about how important a tip was. I then sweetly responded that I worked as a Server and I understood completely. My entire income was based on tips. No hourly rate to fall back on. To this, she looked sheepishly away and continued the transaction to move me along. I didn't do it to shame her but I wanted her to understand that guilting people into tipping them was a poor choice to make. Did I tip her? No, I tipped them. I put a dollar in that tip jar not because she pulled the wool over my eyes. I put a dollar in that tip jar because as a team, these people were doing a great job.
There was a lot of people observing going on the last few days. It's always fun to go a different place and watch another town's culture. What's great about a place like Las Vegas is that the people come from everywhere. There are so many different things to watch, to observe, to take in. There was a British couple on the elevator who spoke with the most brilliant accent that I had ever heard. They made me smile. There were three very intoxicated twenty somethings who believed that the elevator was a shooting star that made me roll my eyes and chuckle at the same time. There were was an older woman who ran in between me and my husband who was in a hurry to get somewhere whose husband then apologized to us after she had walked away. There was a woman who screamed 'Excuse Me!' at my friend after they lightly brushed hands that made us all shake our heads at the people surrounding us. There is so much life there, so much of anything can happen that make that city feel so alive. Every where you go at any time of the day you will find yourself a drunk Fraternity boy. Any time of the day you can find yourself an old man who will gladly give you a twenty dollar chip to go play a Black Jack table. And if you sit at an electronic Black Jack table at five in the morning, you will most certainly find yourself being propositioned by a hooker as my husband learned over this trip. You will see women who forgot their pants, men who lost their shirts, small children being dragged around by slightly buzzed parents.
This was my fifth trip to Las Vegas. The first time I went was with my sister for my 25th birthday. Since then I went with my husband for our Honeymoon and then a few with friends. Each visit brought different adventures, came to different conclusions. I realize each time I go back that I am so much older than I once was. This time I didn't drink myself into an oblivion. I honestly had very little interest in getting schmammered and losing my sanity. Did I drink? Of course but it was controlled and among the company of friends. So, I watched the people around me stumbling about, doing the Woos! and high fives, and I smiled. I smiled because while I remember being that person, it made me very happy that I no longer needed that sort of affirmation. I didn't need to drink a few to feel like I was on cloud nine. I can look at my husband and get that same sort of feeling. I can look at my kid and know that life is beautiful. I can look at my friends and feel all the love I need to feel. I can look inside myself and know that I don't need an upper to feel invincible. These are the things that Las Vegas reminds me of every time, how lucky I really am. Maybe I didn't win big. And, maybe, sure, I have to go back to work tomorrow because I didn't bring home the jackpot. In all my trips to Las Vegas, this one was one of my favorites. I remember standing on the balcony late at night and just looking out over the city, knowing that it really was just like any other city out there, just jazzier. I knew that no matter what city I was looking over, this life was brilliant, win or lose.