Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Expectations On Reflections.. or.. Reflecting On Expectations.. Wait, What?

Whitney and I had lunch yesterday and the issue of expectations came up. We were specifically discussing those expectations that may be “too high” and “unrealistic”. Or really, just how sometimes when we think something should look a certain way, and it doesn’t, how it can cause ripples in our psyche. 

At least that’s what I took from it. And I am definitely no stranger to thinking things should look different. 

As we are coming up on the end of the year, I can’t help but reflect on the New Year’s resolutions I made last year. I had put quite a bit on my plate, like I do every New Year, and it is always in the reflection that I can identify exactly where my head and heart were at that time. How quickly things change in this life. 

I learned a few things over the last few ten months and nothing rubs my nose in it more than seeing my own words and declarations from almost a year ago. 

* * *  

Book it baby!
I talked about writing a book. I started an outline. It felt forced. I grew bored. I went back to blogging. 

I’m not saying that I won’t write a book one day, but I truly think that the book was a product of my relationship with Jeremy and the fact that he really wanted me to write one. I liked the idea of writing a book about The Rules but since that became yet another “unfinished project”, all I had was a year’s worth of ramblings that I was trying to make into something it wasn’t. As Whitney said, I may find a topic one day that needs more than the space of a blog to expound upon. Until then, I want to enjoy it when I sit down to write. It shouldn’t feel like work, right? 

Give them something else to read about 
This was about starting a second blog about being a local in Las Vegas and have more of a relaxed, “travel blog” feel to it. I have started this blog and it has morphed into something a little more fun and not exclusive to a Las Vegas theme. 

While I’m still a few months away from a full on launch of this blog (it still needs some visual work and at least five or six more blogs to bring it up to date), feel free to take a look and let me know what you think. www.theadventuresofmoe.com. I have had a lot of fun putting this together and it gives the creative side of my brain a workout. 

You spin me right round baby right round 
I actually did become certified as a spin instructor this year. I built a library of music on my itunes where my music is categorized into sections such as “hills”, “speed”, “intervals” and “endurance”, to name a few. And then I didn’t do anything else about it. I had a little drama with LVAC and their customer service department and now I work out in the fitness center my apartment complex offers. Since they don't offer spin classes there, I've sort of fallen out of the routine. 

I like to think I’ll get passionate about teaching spin classes again. In the meantime, however, I can’t find the same excitement I once had. 

Please don’t stop the music 
I successfully imported all of my CDs into my music collection. I bought a new ipod and have really enjoyed having all of my favorite songs readily accessible. I still need to import some of the newer songs that I dig, but I’m very happy with having met this goal. Of course, a friend of mine gave me at hundreds of her old CDs that she no longer listens to so... let the importing continue... 

Hold your horses 
When I first found a stable to volunteer at, I wrote all about it and was really excited about the opportunity to be around horses again. However, after about a month of getting up early three days a week, getting dirty and getting thrown off a few horses, I realized that my love of horseback riding had faded away after all these years. I’m very happy that I did it because now I don’t have to think about whether or not I made the right decision moving on to a different lifestyle. 

I will forever and ever be that girl that loves horses and her boyfriend too (thanks, Tom Petty), but I think I’ll stick to drawing them, not riding them. (Horses, that is... ahem.. )

"Your multiplicity of talents continues to amaze me" 
I never did build an ebay store with my Picasso’s Pets product. I’m not sure if that’s the direction I want to go in. 

This past weekend, I tagged along with my parents as an exhibitor at a local Bird show (my dad builds amazing custom cages). At the last minute, I was thinking it would be nice to have something that I could actually sell at the show, instead of just taking orders for commissioned artwork. So, I spent a few days putting together some prints of pictures I had already done. 

To my surprise, not only did I sell a few, I got a lot of interest from people who were looking for specific types of birds. I started thinking that if I could prepare better for bird shows, dog shows, cat shows, etc. and have a handful of prints that would appeal to the masses, I wouldn’t need to rely solely on custom orders. Obviously, that would still be the goal, but walking out of that show with $100 bucks in my pocket was pretty cool. So, I think for next year, I’ll look into how I can make this work even better for me. 

Bowling Jesus died for your pins 
My friend Tom is an amazing bowler. He offered to do some coaching sessions with me earlier this year and I took advantage of it. 

He helped me with a new approach, I bought a new ball and had it drilled differently to accommodate my new throw and we worked together every week for a couple of months. 

I do like my new style, however I haven’t seen a huge difference in my ability to throw multiple strikes in a row. Then again, I got lazy with the bowling again. While I still try to practice outside of my league once a week, my average has not changed drastically. As always, this is a work in progress for me. 

One thing should not be overlooked, however - my bowling team, “The X-Factor”, took first place in our summer league this year. What a great accomplishment! 

Prepare for the kamikaze! And no, not the girly shot 
Maybe it’s because I dated someone that was part of the Karate Karaoke scene. Maybe it’s because there were a lot of people in that group where karaoke was our only shared interest. Maybe it’s because I thought the guy who ran Karate Karaoke was an asshole. Maybe I ran out of songs I wanted to sing. 

Either way, I stopped halfway through my purple belt. It was no longer fun for me. I like to sing karaoke, not get wrapped up in the drama and unfortunately, I did. 

I still like to sing and will continue to do karaoke. But whether it’s Karate Karaoke or some dingy bar by my house, it doesn’t matter. I crave both the social and silly aspect of singing karaoke and that takes precedence over sticking through unnecessary dramatics just to call myself a black belt. 

Besides, I REALLY hated doing all those kamikaze songs... 

I don’t need a Kindle, just some time and motivation 
I completely set myself up to fail on this one. I didn’t realize it at the time... I did read the first book on my list and still want to read the others. However, I did something that not only derailed this particular resolution, but full on blew it off the tracks. 

I got a Sports Illustrated subscription. 

My thought was that it would be nice to have something to keep me in the loop each week about the goings on of the sports world. What I didn’t realize would happen was how much I would actually enjoy the articles. With the exception of anything written about Nascar, I pretty much read each issue cover to cover. The interviews, the scorecard, the editorials and even the blog on the last page... I can’t get enough. And since it comes every single week, even if I make a huge effort to get through every piece of copy, I close it just in time for the next one to pop up in my mail box. 

I may not be as cultured as I wanted to be in the literary sense... but I can rap sports with the best of them. And THIS makes me happy. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall 
I actually feel pretty good about this one. I panicked earlier this year when I realized I had gained back a lot of the weight I took off the year prior. Those size 2 Lucky jeans are no longer hanging in my closet... however, I feel pretty good about myself. I don’t obsess over my workouts anymore and, instead, make an effort to get outside and enjoy myself with long walks, good hikes and peaceful meditation. 

I have decided to get braces. My new job offers great benefits and I have decided that I want to take this step to help me feel even better about myself. 

My boyfriend loves me and my body. He makes me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. He lavishes me with attention, devotion and flowers. Having each other to take care of has given us a fresh new confidence in ourselves that can’t be replaced with a treadmill. And he likes to work out with me, which is something I love. It’s just one more thing we can share together. 

* * *
As the next few months come and go and 2011 winds down, I can’t help but reflect on the expectations I had of myself last year and the new ones I have going into 2012. It’s hard to be disappointed about what I didn’t accomplish when I look at what I have now. 

Things look a little different today then I thought they would a year ago. But, I have learned not to argue with the Universe. Even if I don’t understand why things are happening the way they are, I have to trust in something bigger. 

Because, after the rollercoaster ride that was meeting Jeremy, getting the money, quitting my job, spending six months doing whatever I felt like and having these big ideas on what my life was going to look like with this new opportunity, here I am, a year later, living paycheck to paycheck again, working a job that is good enough and just.... blogging. 

Maybe Jeremy’s expectations of me were unrealistic as well. 

We all have our own paths to walk. While we may be influenced by others and become enamored by what they think our capabilities are, they aren’t on our path. It was silly of me to think that things would really change that much for me when I never really changed as a person. 

So that is something that is definitely going on my resolution for next year; trusting the person I am and the place I’m at. I’m right where I need to be for a reason. Instead of wishing it were something different, I get to learn gratitude for what I already have. 

It’s easy to be grateful for my relationship with Tim and how wonderful he makes me feel. It’s easy to love the stronger bond that has developed within my family. It’s easy to look around my apartment that is full of... things and stuff... and be happy that I have so much. It’s easy to like what I write and the portraits that I create and be thrilled to have that talents that I do. It’s easy to look down my "wall of friends" and be reminded of how many amazing people I have in my life. These things are easy. 

What’s hard is closing my laptop so I can go get ready for work. Being grateful for my job? Not as easy... then again, maybe tonight I’ll walk with more than 10% and will go the whole night without being treated like shit from an arrogant bartender or overworked manager. 

Are these unrealistic expectations? God, I hope not.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Sleeping Is No Mean Art: For Its Sake One Must Stay Awake All Day" - Friedrich Nietzsche

“This is a day to wear your most comfortable shoes, to be a bit self-indulgent, and to generally go easier on yourself. You’ve been running full-tilt for too long now, Moonchild, and the wear and tear on your psyche and your physical self is starting to show. Surely you have noticed that you are feeling a bit tired, haven’t you? If you keep up your current pace for much longer you will find yourself to be less productive, less happy and infinitely grumpier. Take a break today. You deserve it.” 

I’ve always read my horoscope. I wouldn’t necessarily say I live by them or make life decisions based on what they say, but I definitely enjoy reading them and comparing their words to what’s going on in my day to day life. The current horoscope app on my phone has been the most accurate and entertaining so far. I even have Tim hooked. He sent me a text message this morning to make sure I read mine for today, which was this one. 

I slept for thirteen hours yesterday. I woke up at 4:34pm, 34 minutes after I was supposed to be at work. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my phone and panicked as I saw two missed calls, three missed text messages and two voicemails. Shit. 

I called work in a panic and they said they still needed me and to get there as soon as I could. I threw on my work clothes, put my hair in a sloppy ponytail, slapped some powder on to at least attempt to cover the dark circles under my eyes (this time from too MUCH sleep) and ran out the door. I called Tim on my way to work to apologize for making him worry as I didn’t respond to any of his texts or calls and told him I was rushing to work. He lovingly told me not to worry and to drive safely. The voice of reason I desperately needed as I played out all the possible upcoming scenarios in my head of what I would face when I got to work. 

I was lucky enough to hit no traffic and found a spot on a lower level of the parking structure. I quickly tied my apron, grabbed my purse and ran into work. I threw my belongings in my locker and made it to line-up just in time. Patrick, the manager on duty and the one who had called when I was late, asked me if I was okay. I smiled, said yes and... that was it. He clocked me in, assigned me a station and that was that. 

I almost felt like I needed to remind him that I was an hour and a half late. 

My shift went smoothly (as they all have been going lately), I made the sometimes elusive “bill” we all seek as servers and afterwards, checked in with my General Manager before I left. He asked me to sit down in the office. I waited for a speech on how important it was to be on time, work ethics, all that jazz... instead, he simply asked how everything was going for me. How was my experience so far? Was my schedule okay? Is the money working out? Is the company meeting my expectations? 

Wait... what? 

I told him things were fine and that I was still getting used to the environment. I told him how bad I felt about what had happened and he asked me what I was talking about. 

“Um... I slept for thirteen hours and was an hour and a half late for my shift today.” 

“Well I’m sure that’s not normal behavior for you. Besides, if that’s the worst thing that happened during your shift today, I would say you are in pretty good shape.” 

I am Jack’s puzzled face. 

We talked a little bit more about what I meant as far as “getting used to the environment” and I just explained that I come from two restaurants with a much smaller crew and more of a “family and friends” type of feeling. He immediately wanted to know the names of those who were making me feel uncomfortable. I gave a bit of an uneasy laugh as I told him I would not be doing that. An environment does not get better by throwing the people who already don’t want anything to do with you under the bus for “not being nice”. I successfully made it through grade school without getting beat up for following this same procedure. 

Luckily, he let it go and I was free to clock out and enjoy my upcoming two days off. It was a strange meeting... but I suppose I appreciate his effort. 

The job isn’t bad, as it turns out. I mean, it’s not really that hard, even when it’s busy, because the structure is pretty consistent. And even though I’m not used to tipping out as much as I have to now, it’s a lot easier to make money than with the other two serving jobs I had. Longer hours, for sure... but a lot less hustle. And my actual paychecks with my hourly wage are surprisingly high. 

As I left work last night, I couldn’t help but think about how long I had slept uninterrupted. I had felt pretty tired the night before but thirteen hours? Even as someone who REALLY enjoys my sleep I find that excessive. I still can’t believe my typically annoying cat didn’t cry outside my door to wake me up as she usually doesn’t if I haven’t fed her by 10am. 

So, why was I so exhausted? Because I’m back to a 35-40 hour work week? Have I really allowed myself to be that lazy? I’m tougher than that, right? It’s not like I have a ton of stuff going on right now, right? Right? 

Oh yeah... that. 

Tim moved in. He met with his landlord on October 1st to collect his deposit and gather the rest of his belongings. I cleared space in my closet for his clothes and am still trying to find a place for his mini-fridge and end table as the living room can only provide a temporary home for such things. 

We made the decision last month. However, it wasn’t until the last week or so that it became real to me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it, especially given the rocky terrain we’ve been hiking since we met and the fact my last few runs with co-habitation haven’t worked out very well. Then again, I have also made a commitment not to compare this relationship with my past ones. The last thing I want to do is prepare for things NOT to work. 

The thing about moving in with someone is that I think it’s important to address the real-life issues that come along with it. Of course it’s fun to think about spending every night together and waking up each morning in each other’s arms. I love the idea of having him to share my space with and cook with and watch our favorite shows or sports with. The bonus of a lower rent and shared expenses is always nice and he splurged on cable and internet for the apartment which adds a nice element to our home life. All of these things are wonderful and not to be taken lightly. 

But real-life stuff is important too. 

When we first started dating, I glanced at Tim’s I.D. while getting carded at a bar we were at and noticed that is was not a driver’s license. It was simply an identification card. When I asked him about it, he told me that he had some trouble in the past with some tickets, not showing up to court, etc. and now he has to take care of a big fine with the court in order to get his license back. I asked him how much and he said he didn’t know. He was overwhelmed by how much it possibly could be and hadn’t had the energy to deal with it. At the time, I let it go... I mean, we had just started dating and nothing makes a new girlfriend more unattractive than a good, old-fashioned nagging. 

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even bring it up after having only dated for five months either. I like to stay attractive as long as I possibly can... but suddenly, we were discussing living in the same house. That changed things for me. Moving in together is the biggest “we” thing we’ve done so far. And that means that his problems are my problems and vice versa. To me, moving in is the same thing as saying “hey, I’d like to marry you someday, so let’s start here and see how playing house works out for us”. His debt becomes my debt. Not in the actual monetary sense, but in the emotional sense. The heaviness he carries from having this burden on his shoulders becomes my burden as well. Welcome to “we”. 

I asked him to please call the courthouse to find out how much he owed. That was it. I didn’t ask him to take care of it or that it needed to be paid off before he moved in or anything like that. I just wanted him to know. I knew it was going to be a lot for him to handle but it was important to me. 

A few weeks went by and October 1st began to creep up. We hadn’t talked about it again and I was starting to wonder if he took my concern seriously. Finally, I let it sit inside me for too long and we got into it a little bit one night. I told him that it hurt my feelings that he didn’t take any initiative to fulfill my request and reiterated how important it was to me. We had talked before about my bankruptcy last year and how it was humiliating and destructive towards my ego but that after dealing with it for almost two years, the end result left me feeling free and like I had a second chance. I just wanted the same for him. 

He said he had called the court but was kept on hold for so long that he gave up for the night. He promised me that he would make time on his next day off to sit on hold for as long as it took to find out exactly what he needed to do. 

His next day off came and he was up early. I heard him on the phone. He finished his conversation and came into the bedroom. I looked up at him and smiled. He said he had cable all set up and that they would be there the following week to get everything installed. 

“Great,” I said. 

He got back on the phone. This time it was to the DMV. His I.D. had expired on his birthday and he hadn’t received his new one in the mail yet and was started to get worried. The woman he talked to explained that he hadn’t done a change of address with the Post Office (he had renewed his I.D. with my address) and so they sent it back. He was going to have to go down to the DMV and renew again. Frustrated, he hung up the phone, did a change of address online, grabbed his keys and headed back to the DMV to get everything handled. 

He was gone less than two hours. When he returned, I was on the couch, reading my latest Sports Illustrated magazine. He sat down next to me. I look at him and again, I smiled. And waited. After a few minutes, he asked if it would bother me if he played his guitar. I said no... and then I decided it was time to get unattractive. 

“Hey... were you still going to call the court? I figured, since you were on a roll and all...” 

Yes. Great idea. That was the plan all along, right? 

He went in the bedroom and sat on hold for close to an hour. Finally, he spoke to an actual human being who gave him all the information he needed - how much he owed and the process he needed to go through in order to start getting it all handled. As suspected, he was overwhelmed and unnerved by the amount due. His energy was pretty low the rest of the day. 

Mine, however, was not. What a dick, right? I know it sounds strange, but speaking from experience, I just think it’s so empowering when we face our shit head on and - as my hairdresser says - walk it out. Of course it sucks. I mean, we have to deal with our past and the irresponsible choices that we made. Running up $30,000 in credit and then defaulting on it is not something that makes me proud. Throwing up my hands and filing bankruptcy doesn’t either. But tearing up every credit card offer that comes in the mail and saying no to the cashier at Victoria’s Secret every time she offers me a new fabulous credit line does make me feel good. It feels good to know that I’ve learned something and that I do make more responsible choices. 

Mistakes are just that. Whether it’s not showing up for court or coming into work an hour and a half after your scheduled shift at a brand new job, it’s still just a mistake. And as humans, I think we tend to be harder on ourselves than necessary. On Friday, I’ll be fifteen minutes early again, just like always. And when Tim gets his new Driver’s License in the mail, he won’t blow off court if he ever has to go again. 

Things are always worse than they seem. The dollar amount that Tim knows he owes is looming over his head just like the punishment I thought I was going to get as I raced to work yesterday did. But just like he told me over the phone as I trucked down Spring Mountain Avenue - you can’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. Just get where you are going as safely as you can and see how things work out. 

And this is my advice back to you, Tim... I admire you for all you have been doing to clean up your life. The people you have encountered at the DMV, with the court or some ignorant dentist that doesn’t know how far you’ve come... don’t let them tell you the kind of person that you are. Our parents do the best they can with what they know... and they still manage to fuck us up, don’t they? But you are your own man with a heart of gold and a brain that a scarecrow would kill for. I am by your side as we “walk it out” together. I am excited to share my life, my home and my future with you. Whatever you need, I am here for you. I promise. 

You might just have to wake me up first.