Excuse-Master 3000

So… yeah. Today’s post is a list of excuses.

Why I haven’t posted in about 5 days:

5. Well I had this big idea, see, but there just hasn’t been enough time after work to write it all down.

4. I mean, I HAD to go out on Wednesday because its tradition, ya know? “Bad Decisions Wednesday” cannot go unrecognized.

3. I fell asleep. (TOTALLY legitimate excuse, everyone. Wholly and completely.)

2. There was a list of blog ideas I had written down in my work apron, but it got thrown away. No seriously.

1. Cats. Specifically my cat, McGee.

Mum, can we please turn off the Netflix and go to bed?

What if I sit on your foot? Can I use my cute to make you put down the computer?

What if I sit on your foot? Can I use my cute to make you put down the computer?

BED NOW PLEASE THANKYOU MUMMY!

BED NOW PLEASE THANKYOU MUMMY!

There will be more posts coming soon. Promise.

Also, I’d like to invent and market the Excuse-Master 3000. Something tells me that in our current society, I could make a whole big bundle o’ cash.

Advertisements

Knife Going In

Today’s post is an edit of the most “recent” poem that I’ve written. It dates back to around October of 2012– the very last time I consciously sat down to write a poem. Sitting next to my dear friend Erika drinking copious amounts of tea, I’ve been dragging the metaphorical red pen through much of the piece. Even with heavy editing, it is far from perfect, far from where I would like it to be. But I feel it important to share nonetheless. Mostly based on a Tegan and Sara listening binge, I got caught up on the song “Knife Going In,” and for some reason I couldn’t get my brain to let go of it. So with that song on repeat for a few hours, this is what began to form:

 

Torn stitches—
you and I were
not quite enough to kill

Doctors still have me on
a steady drip—
IV sertraline and alprazolam—
sweet-sugar, to mellow my need
for anxiety-yoga
posing broke-spined
rolled ankles and splayed
fingers keeping grip
on the planet I swear I can still feel
spinning and nausea
that doesn’t pass

We slept with no rest
in the dark, in the
unconscious
my conscience took our blame-beatings
your words drumsticks breaking
on me, I was arrhythmic
all wrong

 

A very straightforward piece, I feel. Fairly plain, without much imagery, but rife with my biggest turnons: dashes and enjambment.

The Past Two Days have been Bitter Tea–

The past two days have been bitter tea– heavily steeped in many different flavors of negative emotion.

Yesterday found me waking from dreams of a relationship two-years-gone. Odd dreams that churned up a lot of emotional detritus. I blame my new computer for these dreams; transferring old photographs from the dying computer to the external storage drive, I spent more time than I should have glancing at old memories, causing unwanted feelings of longing for all those good parts that made my heart bubble like hot chocolate– thick, sticky-sweet.

And through my workday– my long, slow, feet-dragging workday– those thoughts swirled in their own tidal pool in the back of my brain. I kept sloshing back and forth between that sludgy-sad reminiscence and a hard dark frustration; frustration with myself, feeling like I’d fallen back into that tidal pool I had finally escaped. It was a gross day. Gross weather. Gross unbidden sadness, unwanted longing. Gross like those memories were still sticking to my skin– that filmy layer of salt and god-knows-what that gets left behind when the seawater evaporates.

I kept feeling so angry. Thinking, “when do these things fade completely?” A three-year-long relationship of immense intensity. Volatile. Passionate. Desperate, deep, full to the brim of every extreme, and no middle ground. But it has been two years since. And I’m happy. Where it used to be swimming– trying not to drown– with sharks, with no wetsuit, and no air… now its like looking into an aquarium– but with fingers pressed up against the glass.

And then came today. The very first event, before I’d even risen from bed. A friend and co-worker was fired. Very suddenly, and with alarmingly little explanation. I can’t speak to the details of the situation. I know only a fraction of things leading up to this point. General grumblings, disgruntled things said in confidence. And what little I know is one-sided. But it was a sudden, unexpected event.

It brought morale down. Way down. I kept getting hit by sets of waves– sad, angry, sad– wanting to reach out to her, to kick things in a fit of rage… to react. I wanted so desperately to react. At all. But I couldn’t. A few hours after finding out the news, I had to go in to work, to go be in charge of things, to set an example. And I didn’t want to. I kept thinking how much she cared about her job, what the situation meant, what example it set. But I was left with far more questions than answers, and I went in to work knowing there would be a wake left behind from the morning’s events. People would ask me questions, and if I couldn’t even answer my own, how could I answer theirs? Of course, it wasn’t kosher to answer their questions, anyhow. Because despite whatever decisions were made, they didn’t involve me directly. And my personal feelings, opinions, worries, had to stay separate.

The only thing I said was, it was all unfortunate and sad, but we all should keep professional, keep working, keep being a team. No matter what anybody felt.

On a semi-related note… through all this emotional push-and-pull slosh, I just want to hit the gym. Want to pound out reps on the machines, bounce along on the elliptical, get in the groove on the bikes– I long to plug in Tegan and Sara and just kill it. ‘Till I’m wiping sweat off my face instead of tears. I need this.

I really need this now.

Asshats in aisle 5

Racism at the Registers: a True Tale

The clock strikes 9:35, marking the eighty-fifth sleepy minute of the lone cashier’s workday on a particularly sluggish Thursday morning. With a flurry of color, a whirr of vibrant energy, a large Nepalese family enters the sleepy neighborhood’s co-operative grocery store. The young cashier appears grateful to have some interaction to break the doldrums. With smiles all around, she points them this way and that, laughing with the group when it is obvious she has misheard what product they were asking for. The language barrier forded with humor. Checking out at the register with three different orders, the group struggles with the card machines. But the cashier knows– the PIN pad’s ebt procedures require a lot of button pushing, and are very different from other nearby stores. So with a smile, she tells them how to navigate the different screens, indicating buttons when verbal communication flounders.

When everyone’s items are bagged and paid for, she cheerily waves and bids everyone a good morning– smiling abound. A typically pleasant transaction.

Then, an elderly white couple approach from where they had been waiting– a good ten feet away near the lotions and soaps. Eyes flat and stern, the wife thrusts her arm forward stiffly; in her hand she holds a neatly folded stack of sanitizing wipes.

“Since you were dealing with those peopleplease wipe off your hands and arms and the countertop.”

Taken aback, the cashier is at a loss for words, and takes the wipes hesitantly from the woman’s outstretched hand. Fumbling to find any words at all, she sees the man and woman patiently waiting to for her to “clean” everything, making it obvious they have no intention of beginning their transaction until she proceeds. In those brief seconds, a river of questions splash through the cashier’s head: Did she really just say what I think she said? She’s asking me to sanitize myself… because of the Nepali customers? Implying they’re dirty? That they’ve dirtied me?! Is this really happening? What do I say/do to let it be known this is not ok– that I do not condone this??? Mouth in a mask-like, soulless smile, the cashier vaguely wipes her hands with the moist cloths and quickly throws them into the trash beneath the counter. Her responses are automatic: “Do-you-prefer-paper-or-plastic-here-is-your-receipt-havva-nice-day-bye.”

As the customers leave, the shock begins to wear off. The cashier’s blood pressure rises. She feels altogether too warm, too closed-in behind the register. She has so many words vying for opportunity to pour out– many in very unprofessional terms– but the old couple are already out the door, another customer has walked up and placed her items on the counter. But–! No choice now but to stretch her lips into a grin and do her job.

 

 

This story is a more elegantly composed, descriptively-worded version of my morning. Including a direct quote of what this woman said to me. Perhaps it doesn’t seem what some would call “that bad”… but her flat, flat eyes and the tone of her voice, the way I could just hear her disgust…

I was so pissed at myself for my inability to react in that moment. I was blindsided, wholly and completely. And then I had no idea what to say. Just wanted them very much out of the store. Take your shit and get out. But then I thought of a million different things I wanted to have said. To have said to stand against that kind of behavior. Against that ignorance and meanness. And I was so MAD that I failed 100% at doing anything about it.

As opening manager, I had been the only one at the registers. Ten minutes later, when my first cashier of the day came in for her shift I was still reeling with emotional and moral fallout. I put her at the main register and transferred my drawer to the secondary one. It was the first break in a the trickle of customers since the incident, and I took that moment to turn around and violently kick the outside of the register station a couple of times. When my coworker got me to tell her an overview of what happened, she asked a key question, “I wonder what [our HR manager] would have done?”

Our hiring manager is a woman whose kindness and intelligence I have much faith in. A fellow alumnus of Hollins University (back when it was still Hollins College), and ever the mother-hen-like figure to many of the younger employees, I knew I had to ask her advice. And finally some good luck! She walked in the store not five minutes later, as I was walking away from the front to take my 15.

When I asked her if I could chat with her for a few minutes, she must have seen something on my face, or heard something in my tone of voice, because she lead me immediately to the empty meeting room and closed the door behind us. When I told her what had happened, and how I had felt, and failed to react, she understood completely. And she gave me examples of some things I “could have said” which would have been professional, firm, and perfect for standing up to the situation. For example, “Ma’am, while I agree it is wise to keep a sanitary workstation, you can see that everything here is quite clean. We treat ALL of our customers equally here, and with respect. I cannot help you with your transaction today, but I would be glad to call a coworker from the back of the store to ring you up at another register if you prefer.”

But, she admitted, she would likely have acted similarly to me in the immediate moment of the incident, out of a sheer desire to get them out of the store. I was much relieved, and felt empowered, when she assured me that as long as we are courteous, any employee has the ability and the right to stand up to that kind of behavior. “And if the customers left their things at the register, if they stormed out and never came back… it would be ok.” And in the moment of the incident, I did have some fear– I was afraid of making the couple angry, afraid of causing a bigger scene, unsure if there would be backlash against me. While that shouldn’t have stopped me… it was definitely good good GOOD to hear our HR manager solidly shore up acting against that kind of ignorant and cruel behavior.

So for the rest of my shift, I enacted an emotional followup. I made a point to smile extra-wide, extra-often, to put more enthusiasm into my voice than usual, to laugh often, to radiate general niceness, kindness, and happiness towards every customer I dealt with. In hopes of putting out positive energy, making up for what that older couple were sucking out of the world.

In close, I’d like to share a bit from a TED talk I happened to watch today. It was perfectly suited for what I wound up taking away from the whole debacle.

“If you can manage to experience three positive emotions for every one negative emotion over the course of an hour, a day, a week, you dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle any problem you’re facing.” — Jane McGonigal’s TED talk: The Game that can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life

For a few moments I thought I was chewing gum…

…then I realized I was gnashing on the insides of my own right cheek. Unconscious bad habits– incredibly annoying, no? And often quite destructive. I know I have a fair amount of them: absentmindedly peeling ragged bits of skin off my thumbs when I’m nervous, clenching my jaw whilst driving, etc. In general, unconscious bad habits– while detrimental– don’t threaten as much long-term detriment as the conscious bad habits. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

Yesterday I was a prime example of two bad habits I’m consciously aware of:

1. I don’t exercise enough.

2. My sleep habits (lack thereof, rather) are terrible.

In January I got a membership at Planet Fitness (which I chose, oddly enough, because they are known for being open all hours of the night). Though my decision to get out and get my blood and endorphins flowing was genuine, I didn’t even drop by to pick up my membership card until last night. It just wasn’t on my list of priorities– too much other junk to be preoccupied with than increasing my physical health and kicking my brain chemistry into a better gear, apparently.

And just think how the embarrassment really drives it home. You walk into a gym you joined six months ago, grinning sheepishly at the gentleman behind the counter. Wanting to come up with a valid excuse, failing miserably. And then you get on the elliptical for some cardio and realize 15 minutes in that your face is cherry red and your temples are throbbing with pain. You weigh in at 140, and your best friend, clocking in a higher weight level, has been going strong since well before you’ve even gotten to the gym to meet her, and showing no signs of stopping. Damn, girl. Your cardiovascular system is rusty. And at this point you know with certainty what you’ve suspected for some time now: your friend is a beautiful, unstoppable beast; you, my friend, are that one kid with the inhaler, just like in your childhood.

But when the rest of the workout was over, I felt peachy. So peachy that my inability to sleep at night was compounded upon so that I didn’t get to sleep until 6:30 am.

Ever since I was a baby I’ve been nearly impossible to get to sleep at night. According to my parents, when I was an infant, I would just cry and cry until my father picked me up and took me outside. Then– bam! Snoozin. And as I recall, I was terrible trouble when it came to being up after bedtimes. But just laying there being awake got to be so very boring! Once the trial of bedtimes passed, I started to give up on trying to sleep. The late hours of night became some of my most productive. For example, last night after returning from the gym at midnight, I washed a pile of dishes, transferred some files from my old computer, wrote my blog post, knitted on a scarf while watching TED talks, and got cooking in the kitchen with an improvised recipe for PB Hemp Seed Bars.

Super basic, no-bake, protein-rich deliciousness! Made at 3 am!

I’m working on exercising, now. That’s certain. I’ve got another gym date with my friend in a few days, and I’m wishing it was sooner. If I didn’t need to write tonight and work early tomorrow, I would have gone after work at 10:30 tonight.

But as for the slumberlessness… I may not get enough sleep, but at least I’m inventive. That’s a good rationalization, right?

 

 

PB Hemp Seed Bars

1 Cup peanut butter

1/2 Cup butter/margarine/substitute

1-1/2 Cups hemp seeds

4 handfulls oats

*Melt butter in a small pot or saucepan. Add peanut butter and stir until smooth. Add hemp seeds and oats; mix evenly. Pour mixture into pan and cool in fridge until firm.

*Recommended to refrigerate bars after they’ve been cooled and cut. If it is warm out, they will get a bit too gooey.

 

Daily Dose– good medicine

0617132151b

This is what two computers having sex looks like!

This blog is the love child of my brand new computer and the rationale that if I could “justify” the purchase, spending so much money on a newfangled interweb machine became okay. No– it is not this blog that was the be-all end-all “justification” for saving and spending a small truckload of money; I haven’t written– really written– in almost two years. I used to define myself as a writer, as an artist. Up until a few weeks after graduating college, that is. Then, suddenly, I just stopped.

I tried. I wanted to write. I needed to write. At the time in my life when things were the most tumultuous, the most unsteady, the most evisceratingly painful, when I needed the creative conversion of  hurt -> art… I just shriveled up. Just curled up in a big metaphorical blanket and hid until the earth stopped shaking under my feet and my psychological and emotional wounds ceased to bleed. And stayed there. And when I tried to venture back into writing, a slurry of excuses and fears blocked my path– I’m out of practice, this just isn’t working; Writing is too hard, and too painful; I don’t want to think and be introspective, I’m a delicate flower right now; My writing just stinks; Too many grown-up problems, sorry, no time– and I didn’t think I had it in me to overcome them.

Well, I’ve finally had it. Completely fed up with the excuses, the self-pity, the whining. And I just plain miss writing, defining myself as a writer, throwing down on a piece of paper and coming up with scribbled-through lines and chicken scratch and feeling it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

So I made myself a deal. Save the money to buy the shiny new toy, but use it for something you need in your life. And voila! Here we are! After a long day of fiddling around and transferring files (and a gym trip, followed by culinary experimentation, but more on that later),  the first and most important step is created!

An attempt to write on a daily basis– whether it be rants, a walkthrough of my day, lists on random topics for no apparent reason, scraps of beginnings of poems and short stories never-to-be-finished, or other bric-a-brac.

Allie On The Daily: Your daily dose, my good medicine. I’m looking forward to it, y’all.