Friday, September 21, 2012

It's a Mental Move I Need... Not a Physical One.

My father is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. While he most definitely instilled in me a good work ethic, I’ve never really understood how he could work so hard at so many different things for so long and never complain. I’ve had well over twenty jobs in ten different industries and the reason I am a server is because it’s the job I hate the least. 

When we were born, my dad was a cook at the hospital where my mom gave birth. My dad has always had a passion for cooking and baking but to my knowledge, that was the last job he ever held in that industry. When we were younger, he worked in construction and drywall and when we were teenagers, he and my mom got a job as property managers and ended up doing that together for over fifteen years. 

Last year, Dad decided he really wanted to leave the property management line of work and get back in the kitchen. Unfortunately, he ran into complications. He didn’t have enough recent experience to get a good paying kitchen job in Las Vegas and he knew that baking bagels for eight hours a day at minimum wage was not exactly what he had in mind. However, he kept plugging along, sending out resumes and keeping his hopes up. 

Then, a few months ago, he started getting interest from an application he had filled out to be a kitchen/cook supervisor at a prison in Lovelock. His information must’ve gone in the system because then he got a call from the maximum security facility out in Ely. Then the prison in Indian Springs. He began interviewing with each of them. 

Ely is over 200 miles north of Las Vegas, not too far from Reno. It’s a very small town with all the necessary amenities: grocery store, gas station, golf course, bowling alley. And a huge prison housing over 1,000 male inmates. 

During the interview, Dad made sure they knew that while he hadn’t worked in a kitchen in over twenty years, he was quite capable of meeting the requirements of the job. Interestingly enough, they weren’t as interested in his cooking experience as they were in the fact that he was a property manager in Naked City. For those that aren’t from the area, Naked City is the neighborhood behind the Stratosphere in Las Vegas that is known for it’s high drug trafficking, prostitution and crime. Many of those people involved in these “industries” were also tenants that my dad managed. 

My dad has this really cool, natural outlook on people. He understands more than most that while the world has many bad people in it, it also has a lot of good people that do bad things. He has always been able to talk to people in a way that didn’t make them feel like pieces of shit - the way everyone else made them feel. He worked with people who struggled with rent, employed people when no one else would hire them and even in cases where he needed to evict, he did so with a professional demeanor and only as a last resort. 

Things hit a little closer to home, however, when one of his tenants was his son. He watched helplessly as my brother became wrapped up in the world of drugs and his life slowly fell apart. For a few years there, we thought we were going to lose him. When he found his way out of his mess and put a new life together, it reinforced the fact that sometimes... good people just do bad things. 

This is what the woman interviewing my dad saw. So it was no surprise that a few weeks later, they called and offered him the job. 

It’s a great offer. It’s a state job which means benefits, retirement, vacation, etc. At only 56 years old (I think??), my dad still has many good working years ahead of him. He’s also excited to get back to small town life with my mom. He still gets to build his birdcages - which is a business that grows more and more each day - and finally, he gets to be back in a kitchen. 

The interesting part of the job, of course, are those that he supervises. Besides the guards, my dad is the only one in the kitchen who isn’t an inmate. And it’s hard to have a kitchen with no knives... however, the inmates that get to work in the kitchen are considered “privileged” and get to work there because of good behavior. And like I said... there are lots of guards. 

Besides, I worried a lot more about my dad when he worked in Naked City than I do now. Dad doesn’t make people feel small or threatened. He makes them feel like people. With my dad’s countless good qualities, this is his best. 

I have decided that moving to California is not a good decision for me. Just crunching preliminary numbers, I can see that the financial requirements needed to make a move like this happen are... overwhelming to say the least. And I don’t know what to expect when I get out there... what if the restaurant I transfer to doesn’t pay what I’m used to getting? What if I can’t find a second job? I keep joking that I’d rather be broke on the beach than broke in the desert. Then I started thinking... I don’t want to be broke at all. 

Jeremy says having money is a state of mind. You either have a broke mentality or an abundant one. But even he knows that it takes hard work and daily commitments to make abundance happen. He was broke for the majority of his adult life. But he never stopped thinking that he was going to be wealthy eventually and that’s what he continued working towards. When he was finally rewarded for his mentality, it was in a huge way. 

I don’t think uprooting my whole life and moving to a state where the cost of living is so much higher than where I am now is the best move. It’s sounds sexy and romantic - beach life and all - but I think I’m getting too old to be making decisions based on sex appeal. And as far as Brendan goes, I think we both know that our “friends with benefits” relationship is our ceiling. I’ve been chasing my love story long enough to know that it’s the chase that needs to end. With the right mentality and a shift in my internal energy, perhaps both abundance and love will begin to chase me. 

I do need to make some changes, though, and that’s where my life starts to get interesting. I’m getting ready to break the lease on my apartment, fuck my credit (hence the new car I just bought - had to do it while I could), move in with my mom to help us both save money so she can get up to be with my dad as soon as possible and then, with all the hope in my heart, I will take over renting the two-bedroom house my parents currently rent here and start taking my job more serious. I think I’ll go ahead and pursue becoming a trainer and then maybe start working my way into the corporate training department and help with new restaurant openings in the future. I’d also get to start working banquets. The last time I helped with a banquet, I walked with almost $300 for the day. It’s definitely worth pursuing. 

And then, suddenly, I get a text last night from Brendan saying that he wants to move back to Las Vegas. I tell him about the two bedroom house with the yard for Lunch Box and all of a sudden, there is something to be excited about again. No relationship pursuit though, just two friends who dig each other and are ready to have a better quality of life. 

I hope I can make all this work. I hope I can start seeing things differently and improve my state of mind. I hope I can stay positive and create positive things. I hope I can appreciate the importance of patience and the rewards it can bring. 

My dad always knows things will work out. He has struggled, fought, worked his ass off and throughout it all, has stayed positive. Nothing makes me happier than to see him being rewarded now for all that he has been. 

Because it’s who we are that creates what we have. My friend at work keeps telling me, when I’m at my saddest, that I’m a good person and good things will come to me. I hope she’s right. 

Congratulations, Daddy. You remain a true inspiration and I love you very much.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Forget Honey Boo Boo... Here Come The Las Vegas Ladybugs!


There are a few things I’m not very good at. Planning events and raising money. This is probably why my pursuit of becoming an Event Planner didn’t go very well. 

I used to think that I couldn’t succeed at either because I was terrible at establishing and maintaining good relationships with people. While there might be a little truth to this, the very good friends I do have along with my wonderful family prove that this is not completely accurate. 

No, my problem is with my own insecurities. I’m hesitant to take other people’s time and money. I’m self conscious that they won’t want to show up to an event I planned and so, quite often, they don’t. 

I also hate asking people for money. I know I work hard for my money and am very careful about the causes in which I give that hard earned dollar to. A co-worker was collecting money for a cause that I thought was kind of silly so I didn’t give her anything. I was quickly shunned by her at work and unfriended by her on Facebook. I should probably remember that what is important to some can be bigger than it appears to others. 

Which brings me to this blog. 

My friend, Erin, asked me to be a part of her team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I have participated in this with her before, but last time, my involvement included driving to Fashion Show Mall, parking and simply doing the walk with her. 

This time, she has set a very lofty fundraising goal of $1,500 and has asked her teammates to help her raise the money. I immediately thought to myself “Ugh, fundraising... here we go.” 

However, as I put together my fundraising page this week and finished the team logo (above), I really began to feel how much I care about this particular cause. 

I met Erin’s mother a few years ago. She had recently been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and even in the short lunch we shared together, I could already see the affects that the disease started to have. When she died just a few short years later, I couldn’t help but think of my own parents and how lucky I was to still have them with me. 

Erin and her family have handled their loss so much better than I think I ever could. I think it shows just how strong they are as humans and how much they focus on the good memories and the love they shared with each other. And, as a way to honor their mother each year, they make a commitment to raise money and do the walk for Alzheimer’s. 

I am really hoping to be a strong contributor for them this year. Not just because I find the cause to be worthy and important, but because both Dan and Erin have been such great friends to me and I want to do anything I can do be there for them. 

And so, I ask humbly if my most avid readers would please take a moment to visit my fundraising page and drop me a few dollars. My own personal goal is $250. With over 100 regular readers and over 200 Facebook friends, I’m hoping that this goal is not only attainable, but easy to reach. 

Additionally, Erin has come up with a very cool raffle idea for those that donate online throughout the month of September. To read more about this, please check out her blog. 

For those of you who don’t like to put information online, or simply want to just give me cash, I’m happy to take it and make the donation in your name, still making you eligible for the raffle. 

The walk takes place on October 27th at Fashion Show Mall here in Las Vegas. With our fun logo and some cute costume ideas, the Las Vegas Ladybugs are looking to walk proudly, having met our goal and being that much closer to saving future families from having to deal with the loss of a loved one to this terrible disease. 

I ask you with my whole heart to please help us with this cause. And if I see you in person, please expect that I’ll ask again. Because for this particular event, I’m going to put the cause in front of my ego. 

And don’t worry... if you say no, you can still be my Facebook friend.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Lot of People Name Their Kid "Hope". But No One Names Their Kid "Change".

Almost four years ago, I sat in the Suncoast bowling alley, staring up at the television screen as tears rolled down my cheeks. I was watching Barack Obama become President of the United States. 

I remember the feeling of relief. That we had accomplished something as Americans. That we had actually taken a step in the right direction for the first time in a long time. I felt proud to be a progressive American citizen. 

An equally vivid memory is of my brother scoffing at my tears. “Do you actually think it makes one bit of difference who becomes President? Do you really think it will change anything?” 

I guess that’s the moment when my “hope” and my desire for “change” began to falter. At least I got to enjoy it for about 30 seconds. 

Politics are a necessary evil in this country. I inform myself enough to know what I’m talking about and at least have a clue about what’s going on come election time. However, the media and society make it very difficult to get unbiased information. Hop on Facebook for two minutes and you’ll see what I mean. 

I used to watch the BBC to get my political information because at least it came from an outsider’s point of view. Now, I get the priority of my information from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. It’s not unbiased one bit, but it does make fun of both parties, their extremist points of view, their ridiculous behavior and, thankfully, outlines very clearly what they stand for. No, not their stance on birth control, military involvement in other countries, the economy, bail outs, gun control, etc. It’s very clear what each party stands for and what they find to be their most important messages: 

Republicans hate Democrats. 

Democrats hate Republicans. 

If you can understand the gravity and intensity of these statements, you will understand how my brother was right. Forward progress is almost impossible when the hatred for one another is so intense. 

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a Democrat. I am not a Liberal. If I was forced to identify with a party, it would be Libertarian. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative and scared to fucking death of anyone who wants to combine politics with religion and then try to run this country. 

However, the party I affiliate myself with doesn’t matter. Because come election day, I have to vote for Obama. Not because I want to or because I think he has done such a fantastic job in the last four years, but because I can’t afford to have a filthy rich Mormon who is socially disconnected and WAY too tan to be normal telling me, especially as a female, how to live my life, what kind of decisions I am allowed to make about my body and how my money needs to be spent. 

Once again, as a country, we are faced with the lesser of two evils. And Paul Ryan scares the shit out of me. 

But truthfully, I don’t want either one of them in office because what they believe is very different from what I believe. Namely when it comes to God. In my very strong opinion, God has absolutely no place in politics. Especially when we are supposed to be a country that was founded on freedoms like speech and religion. Let me get this straight... I’m allowed to believe whatever religion I want, but it better be Christianity or I’ll be an outcast to my leaders? Okay... 

A lot of my fellow Libertarians are also Atheists. And don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with those who choose a god to follow and have faith in. Whatever floats your boat (after all, I actually BELIEVE in the constitution). But when it comes to making decisions about the country and our overall welfare as a nation, you have to pocket that shit, look at the facts and make decisions based on numbers and statistics. At least, that’s what I believe. 

That’s why I can’t get behind most Republicans. 

I don’t hate Ron Paul and if I had to see a Republican in office, it would definitely be him over Mitt Romney. But I still can’t fully support him as a leader because of his religious views and opinion on abortion. I’d take him... but I wouldn’t be thrilled. 

Libertarians are making progress. But come on... everyone knows we are still a very long way from having more than two parties to choose from. And if I actually vote for Gary Johnson, all I’m doing is taking one vote away from the Democrats and, like I said, Paul Ryan gives me nightmares. It’s gotta be those eyes... 

I’m not the smartest person in the country when it comes to politics. However, I think I very much represent a vast number of voters when it comes to how much I stay involved, how much of my life revolves around the politics and how often I keep up with the issues. 

I have a life to lead. Like those Fidelity commercials say - I’m worried about my own economy. And as long as there isn’t someone like Sarah Palin calling the shots, most Americans in my position can find their way through the political mud and at least keep our heads above water until the next major change in leadership. I have a job, my own apartment, access to health care, the right to choose whether or not I want to have a child, the freedom to believe whatever I want from a religious stand point and, let’s face it, I’m American. I’m pretty happy with my options. I take responsibility for what I have and make sure I am being the person I need to be to have it. I don’t fear that one man is going to take away these things. 

I don’t believe Barack Obama is creating a Socialist society and no amount of blasting from Republicans will make me feel any different. And if he is in office for the next four years, I’ll be fine with that. I’ll be annoyed and frustrated if Mitt Romney somehow wins the election, but honestly? I’m okay with that too. It’s like getting a 10% tip on a really big check at work. Sure it pisses me off, but if I let it consume me, I’d never find it in me to give my future tables good service. 

My brother was kind of right... it doesn’t make a huge difference who gets elected. Both Democrats and Republicans are talking heads. Representatives of the 1%. Until we find a way to introduce other ideas and opinions and take them seriously, forward progress will always be difficult. 

I anticipate some interesting comments and of course, I always welcome feedback. I don’t think I ever claim to be “right” about anything, but I do celebrate the fact that I’m allowed to believe and say whatever I want. So I guess until someone comes along and tells me I can no longer write in this blog and that I need to get my ass to church, I don’t really care who gets elected. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep pretending Gary Johnson has a chance.