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That Thing Called Resolve

I am bad and missed my post yesterday.

Would you believe one of my resolutions this year was to be more organized?

Failing.

I started this year with a lot of resolve and not a huge amount of resolutions. There are the classics, like losing the flub round the waistline and getting out of debt. There are stranger ones like meeting an elephant and more career-oriented ones like getting my book published.

A little over a month into the year, and I’ve learned a few things about life and its tendency toward chaos.

Monkey surprise

Monkey surprise (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

 

1. Life Catches You By Surprise

You can make as many plans as you want. Decide you’re going to go to the gym every day or bead fifteen new necklaces a month to sell on Etsy. But there will always be unexpected moments that catch you by the scruff of the neck and try to drag you away from the things you want to do.

For instance, I’ve been planning to go to New York for a conference since last January. I started saving, squirreling away little bits of my tips in a box and watching the little stack of money grow into a nice wad.

The unexpected? The car needs new tires. And those tires cost about the same as the ticket I’d been saving for. I had to fork over the money I had saved and start from scratch — but I picked up three shifts at work in a week and managed to buy my ticket already.

There are good things as well. So far this month I’ve had two tremendously good pieces of news fall into my lap this month — both of which I will share in good time. 🙂

 

 

 

2. Resolutions Mean Nothing Without Resolve

So often, I’ve treated resolutions like a list of things to do. Maybe. If I felt like it.

We make lists of them, tell them to our friends, joke about how stupid they are on Facebook, and tend to ignore them after a couple of months. But the thing about that is, resolutions do nothing if you don’t actually muster up the resolve to see them through.

Last January, I got an email from my mother-in-law. She had decided that 2012 would be the year she lost weight and got healthy. I nodded along and said “me too” when expected, but she had something I didn’t. She had resolve.

A year later, she and my father-in-law have lost at least sixty pounds each. They look fabulous. They look happier. Healthier. They accomplished what they set out to. They did it because they understood that resolutions need a foundation of resolve to be anything more than a fantasy to fail at.

Alka-Seltzer Plus dissolved in water.

Alka-Seltzer Plus dissolved in water. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Sometimes The Best Intentions Dissolve

Today’s post is the perfect example. I knew my day was coming up and even had an idea I wanted to write about. But then that idea became impossible for eternal reasons, and when today rolled around my brain went poof like an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water.

Even though I’d even had a post semi-planned, I completely forgot to write it. It’s my own fault. It happens. I got distracted by some big personal news as well as a doctor’s appointment I had to attend with my husband and then had to go into work an hour earlier than I thought I did.

In spite of the intrusions of life and the chaos that can sometimes happen, with enough resolve, you can still make things happen.

My mother-in-law literally changed her life last year.

My life is dramatically different today than it was a year ago.

While there are aspects that still need change, I did achieve a lot of my resolutions for last year.

Going into this one, there are a lot of things I want to do. A lot of goals, a lot of dreams. But they’re just dust in the ether until I find the resolve to make them a reality.

What do you want to make into reality this year? How are you going to find the resolve you need to get there?

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Happy Holidays! Take 10%.

Maybe it’s the fact that Black Friday has begun to truly infringe on Thanksgiving. Stores opening Thanksgiving Day? Really? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a wee bit surly about approaching the holidays broke when my husband wants an inversion board and a few other expensive gifts. Maybe it’s the crumbling mountain of debt that lurks over my head or the giant, all caps “NON NEGOTIABLE, THIS IS NOT A CHECK” that I get every other week in an envelope with my paystubs, but last night at work, I noticed a phenomenon.

My tip average dropped about 7%.

Normally, I average between 18-30% tips. Yes, 30%. I work in a bar, so a lot of my sales end up being small ones, and people (generally) don’t give me less than a dollar even if all they bought was a $3 happy hour beer. Sometimes they’re downright generous when it’s regulars I’m serving.

I should also say that I am a very good server. I make sure my guests know I value their experience and that I care if the kitchen decides cheese is okay on a salad where I specified no dairy.

But it’s the holiday season, and aside from the reality that most of us in the industry face of working while people with “normal” jobs get to stay in with their families or go out on the town to celebrate the “most wonderful time of the year,” the last thing we want on top of that is to have our wages slashed. Which, if you didn’t know already, is what our tips are. Those are our wages. I’m not going to get into the whole thing about how the system is flawed because the restaurant/bar should be paying its employees and how messed up is it that  consumers are expected to pay our bills with tips when tips are optional anyway? I’ve heard all of that. Until you fix that system, tip your servers.

It’s the holidays. Not only are we expected to roll out with our usual level of excellence, but we are expected to be joyous and optimistic, bright-eyed and elfish in our interactions. Chirpy voices. Holiday cheer for all.

None of that is really faked with me most of the time, but when I open a check presenter to find that yet another person left me four dollars on a $37 check, it begins to turn charming little Cindy Lou Who into the pre-revelatory Grinch.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (film)

This is what I look like now. You're welcome. Image via Wikipedia

Also, around this time of year I know there are heaps of promotions and Group-Ons and Living Social yadda-yaddas to slice major bucks from your checks, but please remember that your tip is to be calculated by the full amount of your check prior to any discounts. Yeah. You’re still saving a lot of money, so tip your servers well.

Why, you ask? Partly because of that whole thing about us not getting paychecks except for what you write in the “tip” line on your credit card receipt, but also because if you ring up a massive bill, we are serving you a lot of stuff. Alcohol, appetizers, desserts, getting that mayo you want, switching out that drink you didn’t like twice, cooing at your baby, and just generally waiting on you hand and foot so you don’t have to do all that yourself. Tonight (this happened twice), people came in with $10 coupons. Their bills were each around $40 pre-discount. They each left me five, which is 18% of 30 and not a bad tip, but it’s 12% of 40, and that is insulting. Granted, $40 is not massive, but 20% of 40 is a lot more than 20% of 25, and it adds up fast.

The holidays are about giving. Thankfulness. Kindness. We tip our mail carriers, our trash collectors, our nannies to thank them for their services. Please don’t forget about the people bringing you your food, your beers, and cleaning up after your children when you leave. Please remember that while you’re out to dinner celebrating, we’re working. And most of us have to work all through the holidays — we’re lucky to get one of them off to spend with our families (and with Black Friday encroaching even more on Thanksgiving, more and more people are losing one of the only guaranteed days off per year). I’ll be working Christmas Eve and New Years Eve till the wee hours of the morning. I won’t get to kiss my new husband as we ring in 2012 or open an early present  before Christmas dawns, and neither will millions of other servers.

A lot of us do this job because we enjoy it — we like to provide you with an excellent, caring experience and a great atmosphere.  So please, don’t forget about us this holiday season. Help us look a little more like this:

I'd much rather look like this.

 

 

In Which Emmie Finds Some Focus

It’s funny how sometimes one aspect of your life drives you to question and evaluate all the others. For instance, as I’m beginning to let the whole concept of getting married sink its way into my brain and wriggle its tendrils around, I’ve been doing a lot of questioning about who I am as an individual. I’m already pretty solid on most of it. It’s been several years since my last real existential “who am I” moment, though the big picture of self I hold in my quirky little brain is always evolving and growing (I hope) — but I’ve never been someone who wanted to lose herself in a relationship. Codependency isn’t particularly attractive, and I’ve always been pretty independent. Actually…”pretty” is an understatement. “Obstinately” is probably the better qualifier for that adjective.

I’ve had a couple talks with good friends lately of the introspective variety. One was today, and it sort of addressed the independence we both feel is due to our upbringing. Neither of us had a lot of say in our circumstances growing up, and we both had to become adults long before we hit that magical voting age. I’ve always been more comfortable around older people than peers, more at ease with adults even as a child, and I’ve never hesitated to go where I needed to go. That’s a huge part of who I am, a core personality trait, I guess. Part of it is that I’ve never put down roots here (here being America). Another part of it is that I’ve always sort of been an explorer at heart. Going into the rest of my life, I want a partner in crime…which segues into the second meaningful moment a friend very kindly gave me the other day.

Different friend, different day, but he said something that was a bit more insightful than I think he even knew. He told me that what he wanted for me above all was an anchor. I assumed (and I think I’m right) that he knows me well enough to not mean that in the sense of something to tether me to the ground (or bottom of the sea…hopefully not the latter), but rather someone to be a constant in my very fluid world. Someone to appreciate me, he said, and to stay with me. A successful marriage should be just that.

Between these two conversations, I’ve been thinking a lot about the inner me. I’ve also realized how grateful I am to have found some good friends here. That’s definitely a point to hold in gratitude and a certain amount of humility. Good friends aren’t easy to come across. But I digress…Inner me. (It’s 3 a.m., and the brain’s getting a bit flighty.) I have held myself aloof a lot in the past, in the sense of shying away from people out of…focus on other things, I suppose. There are a few things I hold in great esteem, and the gift of time is paramount among them. If someone is willing to give you their time and attention — that is a precious gift in my mind. It’s one of the few commodities we can’t just make more of. So it means something when someone wants to spend it on you. Friendship is built on that use of time. For me, friendship takes quite a bit of time to develop, and it needs that as well as that ineffable catalyst that sparks between people.  Lately, the more I find myself being truly comfortable in myself, the more I’ve focused on those around me who seem sort of naturally comfortable with me.

I’ve always gravitated toward the few Very Meaningful things, places, or people instead of the many Meaningful things. Some people have a myriad of acquaintances, but that’s never been me. I have a few relationships that I’m very invested in, because that’s how I do companionship. Whether someone does it that way or the other way, it’s kind of six of one to half a dozen of the other when it boils down to it, but as I think about the Very Meaningful aspects of my life, I realize that I have been very lucky. I’ve known true love in more than one sense of the words. I’ve been able to reconcile a difficult past with a brighter future, and the focus I’ve gained is the focus of a woman who is learning herself better every day.  And that is something I can be proud of, something that I hope will benefit those I care about. They certainly deserve the best me I can be.

There Is No Spoon

This will have to be short. Mainly because I have both the air conditioner and my fan on, and my arms are getting cold. Will soon have to dive under the covers for warmth.

I should very much like to have an adventure. It doesn’t have to be the sword and sorcery type of adventure, though I admit, I wouldn’t say no if it were. I can’t count on a zombie apocalypse to rear its head right when I’m feeling bored (and I’d hardly like the world to be wiped out on account of my whims), so I think I would have to settle for a more mundane sort of adventure. I’d settle for a scavenger hunt around the city, but only if it stipulated quirky destinations and/or items to hunt for, such as a place where the sun sets between two closely set buildings or a flower growing out of asphalt.

Basically, I want to go play. Swing on a swing, go for a swim, take pictures, dance on the National Mall, try to perfect a cartwheel, climb a tree. Those sorts of things. All whilst wearing a tutu…or something.

This life should be about having the occasional frolic. Often, even. That means I need to get a life.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This post may contain some spoilers. You have been warned.  If you don’t want to risk it, begone.

I saw Part I of the movie today.  First impression?  It was magnificent.  I was going to lead with my agreement about it being broken into chunks, but then I thought back to what my first impression really was.  Within minutes of it starting, I was stunned.  I was glued to my seat for the entire film.  And yeah, there were multiple tears shed.  In fact, I came home and read the book.

Here’s why I think it is so brilliant:  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film stick so faithfully to the literal text of a book (having seen it and read it within 12 hours, I can attest to the fact that a huge amount of the film was word for word) whilst creating a glorious and beautiful world and creating something with the best parts of cinema as well.  It wasn’t overly flashy in many parts, but there were some huge stunners exactly where they should have been.  It captured the frustration and urgency of people desperately searching for things they have no idea where to find.  And the acting was superb.  Some may not agree, but…I’ve watched all seven movies thus far.  To watch Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and all the others mature and to see the performances they all pulled off in this movie was joyous.  I can’t wait to see the conclusion.

Ebert gave it 3/4 stars, though the only negative thing he had to say was that it would be completely unintelligible for someone coming to the series for the first time…really?  If this film, which is labeled Part I of II for one thing and the seventh installment in an eight film series for another, could stand alone, it would be a pretty rotten film with no continuity and way too much exposition.  If he marked that one star off for that, I would be pretty disgusted.  For anyone who has that complaint, what on earth did you expect?  My boyfriend wouldn’t go see it with me because he knew it would be lost on him — take the time to watch the first ones before getting your panties in a twist about not understanding the seventh.  Lawdy.

Sorry for the bunny trail.  Anyway, I love the magic of Harry Potter.  I love that even though I’ve read the books several times, I still get lost in them.

It’s 5:30 am…I need to get some sleep.  If I had a Harry Potter-esque wand, I believe it would be 11 inches, rowan and dragon heartstring.  🙂

Working Out

Turns out, it’s actually a bit of a workout.  Go figure.

After literally six weeks of laying around on my arse, I decided it was about time to get off it and try to lose some of the weight that made itself known to me as I attempted to pour it into a pair of shorts yesterday.  This pair of shorts was a size bigger than what I wore last summer.  Needless to say, the swells of flesh that so stubbornly prohibited my arse from fitting into the denim made their point.  They’ve made themselves at home, and I think I need to evict them.

Hence the workout.

I have been a bit scarce for the last few days.  At least I think I have.  Time has gone all wonky.  I really think there is some sort of rift in the space-time continuum, but that’s neither here nor there.  It is Memorial Day weekend, I suppose, which may excuse any of my scarcity (but would not excuse a rift in the space-time continuum).

I’ma go to the beach!  It’s for a whole two days, but still.  Beach.  Me.  Go.  Picture me, the whitest white girl in white-onia, slathered in SPF 100 so as to look even whiter, lounging in an olive green bikini, feeling self-conscious whilst squishing my toes in very hot sand and trying to think of ways to get my boyfriend to make out with me under the boardwalk.  Yep.  That’ll be me tomorrow.  And I’m serious about that boardwalk thing.  I’ve wanted to do that ever since I heard Bette Midler pound out that song in Beaches. My boyfriend’s plans consist of eating lots of pizza and…sandwiches.  (If you are a How I Met Your Mother fan, you will know precisely to what I am referring by the latter.)  I have only a few things on my agenda:

1.  Play a round of mini-golf.
2.  Eat some Dippin’ Dots and see if they are as good as I always hoped they would be as a child — I was never allowed to get them.
3.  Make out under the boardwalk.
4.  Walk.  A lot.  Preferably on the beach.  This is part of my whole fat eviction scheme.

As you can see, Item 1 has suffered a setback.  The setback is that I am broke, and mini-golf is seldom cheap, particularly in a high-frequency, high-tourist area such as Bethany Beach.  (Why, yes, gentle viewers!  You now know where I will be this weekend.)

I don’t think I will have the money to eat, which is okay because of that whole fat eviction thing.  It’s only two days, anyway.

Also, I think I have found a new Emmie home!  I hope.  Here’s the ad I think it placed looking for renters:

Quirky five bedroom full of awesome seeks young tenants for lounging patio barbecues, sprawling living, and unique closet arrangement.  Stuffy and pretentious dwellers caught up in matching color schemes need not apply.

It’s pretty much perfect.  Right down to the varying color schemes and oddly placed closets (some aren’t even in the bedrooms).  Wish me success!

On that note, I am off to be a nerd and play Fable 2 whilst pondering my story and waiting for the boyo to get off work.

Tired

Okay, I gotta complain for a second.  Sorry.

I am so tired of being tired all…the…time. I’m sure the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are somewhat as serious as alcoholism or drug abuse.  Possibly zombification. Basically, I’ve been living on 2-4 hours of sleep a night every weekday for the past nine months, and my body is just shutting down.  I am beginning to fall asleep pretty much anywhere, only to be startled awake half the time by pounding waves of anxiety and a bitter taste in my mouth.  I get headaches every day.  I’ve gotten three migraines in the last six weeks.  This is not normal.  This is not good.

I consider myself lucky if I manage to get six or seven hours of sleep in a night.  Even on weekends it’s hard for me to sleep soundly and wake up rested because the anxiety is so bad.  I can’t relax.  It’s been like this for months.  I only have three more weeks to make it through.  I hope I can manage it.  It’s to the point that I can’t sit down on my bed after work without falling asleep.  I managed to make it three days this week without napping like that and got a little extra sleep, but then last night I tossed and turned until 4 again, and bam, I’m back in the pain cage.

I sincerely believe that some of us are not built for mornings.  And the world is not built for us.

Two More Days

And then Friday!

My fingers are cramped up.  If you know me, you know that my right pinky finger is crooked, forever prohibited from straightening by a wonky tendon that decided not to grow.  I’ve just spent an hour and a half writing, and that little deformity of mine is in serious pain (I’m right handed).  I had an idea last fall, something to do as a gift that never came to fruition.  Now I’ve begun, and it really is beautiful so far.  It’ll take quite a while to finish at this rate, but I do have a few months left before it needs to be done.  The exciting thing about it is that it meshes rather perfectly with both a new development from today and also with another idea I had as well.  I would be more specific, but that would be telling.

After being stuck somewhere in the space-time continuum where there were constantly 6 weeks left of school, suddenly we’ve gone through a wormhole and there are only three.  Words cannot describe my joy at this.  I have a lot to do by the end of the year, and I might get into some trouble because this injury has made me miss so much work, but at this point, I can’t do anything about that.  It’s only been six weeks since the accident, and though I am feeling somewhat better now, by the time I’ve gone through half the day, I am a hot mess of ouch.

Well.  Three more weeks, and it will be over forever.  I just wish I could get rid of this horrible sense of trepidation that has plagued me all year.  I never should have taken this job.  Teaching is the perfect job for those who can give 110%.  I can give that to my writing, but not to teaching.  Maybe that’s selfish.  I don’t think it really is, though, any more than I would think it is selfish for people not to join the volunteer fire department or become a police officer.  Jobs like that require certain kinds of people who are willing to live and breathe their job.  I think that most of us have something we’re willing to do that for, but it varies from person to person, and for me, teaching is not that something.  Are musicians being selfish for making music?  Artists?  Accountants?  My thoughts about careers:  find what you love, and do it well.

That’s all I can ask of anyone.  Work is a huge portion of life — if you’re miserable, that just plain sucks.  And I’m miserable.

Sigh.  Time to try and sleep.

Two more days.

Summer’s Almost Here; I Can Feel It

Summer breeeeeze…

It brings some glorious good news.  For one, cheaper phone bills.  Also, a trip to Bethany Beach this weekend with some awesome people, Splice comes out next week, there are only four weeks left of school, and perhaps best of all:

The Room is coming to Silver Spring, and Tommy Wiseau himself will be there.  “You’re tearin’ me apart, Lisa!”  This will be epic.  I can see the awesomeness hurtling toward me like a football thrown from four feet away.  Public drunkenness and sanctioned spoon-throwing, here we come.

If you haven’t seen this film (and if you have any appreciation for things so bad they actually turn around on the spectrum and end up in “awesome”), you must.  You won’t regret it.  Or you might, but don’t blame me for that.  I’m just the messenger.

You know what else is awesome?  I’m going to Montana in four short weeks.  And I finally get to show John my home.  After knowing him for two years and knowing his family for just as long, as well as all his friends in three states, it’s high time he got to see my world.  So I’m pumped.  Also?  MacKenzie River Pizza Co. is in Montana, and I could pee my pants jump for joy with excitement about that little adventure.  The Athenian, with spinach, fresh basil, tomatoes, olive oil, feta, and mozzarella?  Yes, please.  The Thai Pie with its peanut sauce base, grilled chicken, mandarin orange slices, and more peanuts?  Heaven.  Lodgepole bread sticks so wonderful they once made my mom burst into tears?  (Okay, she’d just had a hysterectomy and wasn’t on hormone replacement…but it makes it sound awesome.) Glorious.  Add to that Montana microbrews and you have yourself one solid, savory meal that could make the gods weep into their ambrosia.

I’m making myself drool, but I can’t stop.  So…much…food…in my future.

Nap’s Grill has one pound burgers.  My friends and I used to use our free periods once a week to send someone to Nap’s to order us all lunch using these “buy one, get one free” that they printed in the Ravalli Republic every day for a while — we raided everyone’s newspapers.  Pretty sure the restaurant hated us, but we couldn’t say no to those juicy, juicy burgers.  Medium rare with pepper jack cheese and a veritable bucket of shoestring fries?  To be honest, it puts Five Guys to shame, and I usually would never speak such a heresy.

In addition to food, there is also the glory of the Bitteroot Mountains, with the Sapphire range to the east.  Lake Como and Trapper Peak, Lost Trail Hot Springs, the Sula wilderness, Painted Rocks.  Not to mention that we’re taking a trip to Glacier National Park — last time I went there, I met a bear.  Well, that’s an exaggeration.  He was busy digging for pikas in the side of the hill, but I did see him.

This summer is going to rule.

I’ll leave you with these quotes from today:

Ms. English to me:  “You walk like a tiger.”

Dr. Phil (my chiro) to John: “You know, you really remind me of someone.”
John:  “God?”

WIN.

Bed Before Midnight?

In keeping with my strong desire to get some sleep tonight, I am going to make this quick.

Mondays usually suck.  Today, however, did not suck at all.  Instead, it turned out rather lovely.  Some highlights were:  getting my knee played like a guitar along with the music, a lovely strawberry cheesecake milkshake, MacGruber, Great Falls at the Potomac, and Dogfish Head for dinner.  Much better than the average Monday.