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Dream Big Or Go Home.

You wanna know how to get through the hard times? Take a minute or two– or an hour or two, however long it takes– and daydream about what it’s going to be like when you reach your goals, when you don’t feel shitty anymore, when your life is what you want it to be. Give yourself something to look forward to, and it’ll be easy to get the motivation to keep going forward, get your shit together and move on.

It works for me, anyway.

Dream big. Believe that you can achieve that dream. Prioritize your life around getting there, and you will. And when you get there, come up with a new dream. Inspiration is everything.

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The Bull In The China Shop

So I’ve been feeling a bit like a bull in a china shop in my own life recently– in a general sense, and also particularly in certain social and work situations.

For starters, my second job, the fine dining “insurance job,” is in a restaurant where the actual bar has about four square feet of working space, no running water at the outside bar, and cement floors. For a dropsy, loud, occasionally profane person such as myself– and also for anyone accustomed to a loud, spacious, fast-paced bar with no “decorum” standards–this is an awkward combination. I like the money and the staff, but I feel like I don’t belong, and it’s an uphill battle to convince myself to go every shift.

Also, as usual, my personal life is a clusterfuck of bad timing, awkwardness and self-doubt, which I think is exacerbated by the fact that the peaceful self-acceptance and motivation that I found in Vieques ran away with a quickness as soon as the stresses of hometown life, family and work flooded back into my life.

I’ve had a couple of really self-centered down days this week– days when I knew I was wallowing in pointless and imagined hurts, and making it everyone else’s problem. A friend called me out on that tonight, and I’m grateful for it.

I don’t feel any less like an awkward robot… But she brought my self-awareness back. It had been most certainly on vacation, while self-doubt and self-pity were working overtime.

So I guess I’ll end with a Jack White lyric that just sort of sums it up: “I just don’t know what to do with myself…”

And that’s okay, too.

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Hanging Out On The Chopping Block

Somehow, I’ve found myself working for people who expect their employees to defy their humanity entirely. For the past five months I have been working at a brew pub on Martha’s Vineyard, and I have enjoyed the job immensely. It’s a fast-paced, yet relaxed environment, with coworkers I like and food and beverages I can honestly stand behind.

However, the returning summer staff from previous years has come back, and with one of them has come a giant pile of problems for yours truly. On two separate occasions, at the end of a twelve-hour double shift, I wanted to go home. Apparently expressing that desire to my coworker is enough to get me fired. He took my saying, “Is there anything else you want me to do before I go?” and reported to the boss that I asked repeatedly to leave and had an attitude that showed I didn’t want to be there. I have been brought into the office twice to talk about my attitude–in reference to complaints made by this one particular person. This person who has given me nothing but the cold shoulder despite repeated attempts to be friendly to him AFTER the first time he ratted me out.

I have been suspended from work for a week while the powers that be decide my fate as an employee. Not because I left a shift uncovered, or showed up abominably late, or neglected my tables, or gave attitude to customers. Because at the end of a very long shift, I expressed verbally my desire to go home.

During the meeting, my boss asked me to take a few days and think about whether that was really the place for me–if it was the right fit. At the time I said yes, I didn’t have to take a few days because I already knew it was where I wanted to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, though, and I’ve realized that if I do keep my job, I’m probably going to be under constant scrutiny, and it’s not going to be very comfortable. I’m going to be wary of my coworkers, waiting for one of them to run to the boss with a twisted version of something I’ve said. I think I’m over it. I am a good employee, and a loyal employee, and I feel that I’ve been brought to task unfairly for something that everyone does. I will miss the coworkers I could trust, and I will surely miss the money, but I will not miss the feeling that I’ve got people hanging over my shoulder, watching my every move, waiting to find a reason to fire me.

I have enough money in the bank to last me for a while, and I have another part time job, so I think I may go in there today and tell them that yes, I would like to still work for them, but unfortunately for them, I value my own pride more than the money I can make in their restaurant, and I’m going to seek employment elsewhere.

I hate leaving jobs I like. But what I hate even more is being represented in a false light, expected to fail, misunderstood. And I hate watching the bad guy get their way. And he’s getting his way already given the fact that I’ve already been called into two meetings. Whether I get fired or not, he’s already won. The least I can do is walk away with my head held high. They want me to beg for my job, and I’m not going to do it, because I don’t deserve to be on the chopping block and I know it.

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Side Effects May Include Hallucinatory Itching

So I’m back to the Vicodin again. This time it’s my shoulder. Of course I have no idea what happened, as I’m prone to frequent mystery injuries, and this particular hurt, which I’m starting to think is a pinched nerve because my fingers keep hurting or going numb, could have come from pretty much anything I do on a regular basis (waitressing, bartending, sleeping screwed up in weird positions as though I’ve been dropped). It’s as though I’ve got the point of an arrow lodged in the center of my shoulder blade; when I move, the pain shoots down my arm. I tried to do the ‘child pose’ this morning in hopes to stretch something out, but when I stood up I could barely breathe due to the pain.

It feels like I’ve got a broken wing–but, then, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no angel.

And the cold–this October chill which I so dearly love, which occasions the digging out of beloved sweaters and the excessive consumption of tea–the cold is crippling me with tension. I just want to stand in a hot shower for hours, but the water eventually runs cold, and there I am again. The sun comes out on the porch for a few minutes and I bask in it, letting it heat up the back of my black sweatshirt, and for a few minutes, the pain subsides.

So it goes.

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The Score

20 Things That Are True–My Week In List Format.

1. The inside of a hospital does not, in fact, smell like “death.” It smells like lysol, bad food, vomit and poo–not mold, dirt and necrosis–therefore, it smells more like “infancy.”

2. Waiting for a donated organ is perhaps the only situation in which it’s actually a good thing to get sicker. Which my father is not doing.

3. Waiting for a donated organ while sitting in a hospital bed and being poked and prodded and forced to eat rubber english muffins is what I imagine purgatory to be like. Watching someone go through this process is only slightly less excruciating than experiencing it.

4. Sometimes the greatest help will come from someone you hadn’t thought to ask (thank you, David).

5. A good cheeseburger and a Guinness can heal a whole lotta hurt (thank you, Phil, David and Michael).

6. Saying “I love you” does not always work to cheer someone up, but it helps.

7. A catheter is a terrible, dangerous and frightening thing.

8. Sometimes the correct answer to “Why me?!” is “marijuana.” This is also an appropriate response to “What the fuck right now?” and “What the hell am I doing here?”

9. It is patently unfair of Mother Nature to suggest that there will be a thunderstorm and not deliver.

10. Cold showers are really, REALLY awful. Even in August.

11. An experienced nurse with a good sense of humor should be paid as much as a surgeon.

12. Pre-season football is a nothing but a reminder to fans of losing baseball teams that there really will be something to watch on ESPN in October.

13. A deafening rock show in a very small room is effective as a temporary cure for depression. This cure is significantly more effective when paired with cheap beer and good company.

14. Michael Vick should have his face bitten off. Someone should inform Mike Tyson that his services are needed, pronto.

15. The notion that the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about is an insidious fallacy.

16. I will never comprehend the inability of certain people to find a triangle which is attached to the pool table.

17. There is a very compassionate medical technician at Tufts New England Medical Center named Jewel, who should be given a hefty raise for saving my sanity at least twice. Someone else should arrange this because bureaucracy makes me want to mutilate strangers, and that development would be counter-productive to Jewel’s initial sanity-preservation.

18. If a store is named “Store 24,” it is not unreasonable to expect that said store be open 24 hours a day.

19. The only tolerable reason for having chapped lips is if you’ve been making out with someone. This is not why my lips are chapped.

20. My father’s Pneumonia, which I didn’t know he had until today, is apparently almost gone.

21. I am incredibly bad at stopping a list once I’ve started it.

22. There is an animal of unknown species and considerable size rooting around in my back yard.

23. I love the number 23.

24. It’s three in the morning, again, and I am going to bed.

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Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon

It’s nice having a place to laze–a place like, for instance, my new back porch. I can hear and feel the wind through the trees, I can smell the fresh basil growing in a big pot hanging from the railing, I am comfortably out of the direct (and very hot) sun–I couldn’t ask for anything more, unless it was a beach right there in my backyard.

I have done nothing today–a monumental amount of nothing. I haven’t even eaten a proper meal yet–and it feels fantastic. So far my accomplishments are as follows: drink obscene amounts of chicory coffee brewed by someone else; learn how to utilize gadgets I didn’t know I had on my computer (including video chat–quite odd to be sitting across the porch from my roommate and hear his voice coming out of my computer at the same time); eat several extremely buttery and gooey crescent rolls, also prepared by someone else; attempt to talk my father out of depression unsuccessfully; field a brief but redundant phone call from my sister; drink half a gallon of water; contemplate lunch (though I have not gotten to the point of executing said comestible project).

I’ve watched my roommate be all sorts of productive–he’s rigging up some sort of crazy LED light system that’s going to send beams of radiant colors into the neighbor’s yard, or into ours if we turn the head of the thing. There’s talk of drilling a hole through the outside wall of the house, so he can run the power supply from inside. By the time he’s done, we may well live in a rainbow-colored space ship. Though the project is fascinating, I haven’t helped because I’m lazy–but thankfully, I can make the excuse that I’m completely ignorant when it comes to electrical wiring, which is just as true as the fact that I’m lazy. I’d be the one who’d set the house on fire before the hole had even been drilled through the wall.

In a couple of hours I have to go to work, where I’ll most likely do a whole lot more of nothing. It is, after all, Sunday–and that’s what Sundays are for, right? Maybe I can convince my ultra-driven roommates that the next project we should undertake is to build us a beach in the back yard. We’d need the downstairs neighbors’ consent, but the landlord is never around, and I’m sure we could scare up a couple of chaise lounges and a truckload of sand–there’s even a bulldozer parked conveniently up the street, unattended…

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The Sciatic Nerve Is The Last Nerve

In the service industry, there are good nights and bad nights–not necessarily determined by how much money you walk away with (though that’s certainly important). On the good nights, you’ll get nice customers–cooperative people who smile at you and don’t complain, stay out of your way, and leave when they’re supposed to. On the bad nights, you get what I had tonight:

The family of twenty who came in around nine o’clock with their seven underage kids (who are allowed, according to the rules, as long as they’re accompanied by adults–the business is, after all, primarily a pool hall). These people were in everybody’s way, including the other customers. One girl, who couldn’t have been more than twelve, paced around the entire dining room for an hour while talking to someone on the cell phone. One must wonder: what are these parents thinking? Not only to have their children out past midnight on a Saturday night, but in a bar?!

Then there were the two guys, right next to the Addams Family, who were completely incapable of ordering a drink at the same time as each other, which made them one of my most high-maintenance tables.

Even better–the couple who ordered two plates of food, then complained a few minutes after the food had been delivered that it was “So cold it was inedible.” However, when I went to clear the plates and replace their meals, they’d eaten five of the six chicken fingers in the order, and the nachos were still so warm that I had to use a napkin to hold the bottom of the plate so I didn’t burn myself. It was all I could do not to smear the damn nachos all over the guy’s fucking wanker ponytail.

The prize, however, indisputably goes to the girl who ordered 3 (three) drinks for herself–a beer, a water and a Shirley Temple–the moment she sat down, and asked for the water and the Shirley to be refilled three times apiece within an hour. This girl must have the bladder of a camel, because I never once saw her head for the bathroom. But seriously, who needs three beverages at once? Wouldn’t two have sufficed? I know that it’s wise to drink water during a night of boozing, but was the Shirley Temple really necessary?

To top it off, I have just come off of a week of excruciating tooth pain, only to have it replaced by a knot in my lower back that’s hitting right on my sciatic nerve, sending shooting pains down my legs and making me walk like I’ve just been thumped across the backside with a baseball bat. I had one table of regulars, both of whom are in the service industry as well, and I said to them at one point, “I just want to say to all these fuckers, ‘Look. My sciatic nerve is my last nerve, and it’s fucked, which means I don’t have any left for you.'” At this, the regulars laughed heartily–apparently their week has been strikingly similar. Upon their exit, they left me a twelve dollar tip, after having only consumed water and Diet Coke.

I have come to the conclusion that waitressing and/or bartending should be a required course in order to graduate from high school. Not only would it teach multi-tasking and patience, it would teach people how to be nice to other people. It would teach them how not to completely annihilate an already lousy day in the life of a complete stranger. And it would teach them how, when dining out, to stay the fuck off of the last nerve of a waitress whose legs are threatening to spontaneously sever themselves at the ankle.

Thankfully, in all my years in this profession, I have found that the customers who are at least mediocre tend to outnumber the ones who are truly insipid, but nonetheless, a water-sucking table of four who are out of sync with each other and whose parents neglected to teach them “please” and “thank you” can completely trash an otherwise pleasant evening. I liken them to the little girl I was compared to as a child (and I know I’ve used this metaphor another time recently): When she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid.”

I suppose that’s it for my complaining. I’m snugly nestled in my papasan chair now, with a cold beer I should really not be drinking but just couldn’t resist. So what if it derails my antibiotics? I fucking earned this beer, and I’m damn well going to enjoy it.

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The Best Tip I’ve Ever Received

A pair of tickets to the Red Sox v. Orioles game on July 31 at Fenway. Sometimes I really do love my job.