New Kids on the Block

Last night was the most dramatic night I’ve had to deal with at work in my life. First of all, I had a section full of tables requiring lots of attention and maintenance. From reasonable high-maintenance requests (bringing in a birthday cake for your son for me to present, cut, and serve – reasonable, but it takes a lot of time away) and those that were not-so-reasonable (grown men yelling at me that the strawberry lemonade we made him “didn’t have crunchies,” leaving me to figure out that what he was talking about were strawberry seeds and had to go bug the kitchen for real strawberries to mix into his lemonade, just to watch him chug it and pick out the strawberries with his fork from the ice left in the glass, and then proceed demand another all over again), I was already quite overwhelmed. I wasn’t behind or in the weeds (as we servers call it), but I was definitely to the point of asking for help from servers who weren’t busy at the time. I was in focused “go” mode. The moment I actually had a chance to stop for a second, I got caught up on some drama that was occurring among some of the people I work with. However, I’m very proud of myself because I actually stood up for myself against one of the managers regarding an (unrelated) issue that has happened more than once before and hadn’t been addressed. It wasn’t easy but I stood my ground and was ultimately commended for the way I handled the situation from him and my friends there. Personal victory: Check!

However, there was a whole bunch of “he said, she said” junk going on immediately after (again, two unrelated events). What was particularly difficult was not knowing some of the new hires that were involved very well at all, and therefore had no relationship or rapport with them already. We didn’t have any trust built, didn’t know each other’s character, nor what kinds of things are or are not just typical behavior of the other. I actually didn’t even know two of their names.

I’m currently the new kid in my university’s chorale. (This will tie in soon, I promise.) At work, I have seniority, I know people who have come and gone, and I’ve seen a lot of changes throughout my time there. In choir, I’m the new hire. I’m not even a music major, but I’m working to find my place in the group and become a real part of the team. Although everyone has been very sweet, supportive, and excited to have me there, I still feel the “new kid” awkwardness enter the scene when others tell stories about old choir members who have graduated, other music department faculty and events, and when hearing about the great times they had together over the weekend.

Know that I am in no way complaining or blaming them for the “new kid syndrome.” (How could I? There’s absolutely no justification for anyone claiming a preexisting group should revolve around the new kids or pretend they didn’t have an awesome time and group before we came along. In fact, celebrate it with them.)  Auditioning and getting this opportunity is the best chance I’ve taken in my entire college career. What I’m getting at is that it is that newness is weird and scary for everyone. At work, I am one of those people who reminisce about coworkers that have moved on or how things used to be, and it’s hard figuring out how to connect with new hires and figure out their unique place in the team. It’s hard finding myself on the opposite side of the situation, being the new choir member and figuring out how to relate to people who have had such a strong and familiar family for years before I showed up, and are now adjusting to new members. I know it’s hard for the new kids at work, and I know it’s hard for the others in choir. It’s weirdness, for all of us.

This juxtaposition just recently occurred to me, and I can’t help but to find it odd just how different the emotions and the responsibilities are from one situation to the next. In one, I have to decide to put effort into getting to know the newbies; in the other, I have to put effort into speaking up and showing people I really totally want to be their friend.

My tagline for this blog is “just for today, everyone be 10% less cool & 10% more open-hearted.” As the big kids on top, it’s easy to really enjoy just how cool we are. In any situation this is true. Heck, even as a new kid, it’s natural to use how cool we are to hide our fear of being inadequate and our awkwardness. If we can remember to just step outside of that, at some point we could find people, connections, friends, experiences, knowledge, that we hadn’t anticipated. The important thing is that we don’t have to “turn a new leaf,” or have some life-changing existential experience, or decide to become a whole new person. I’m just asking for 10%.

(However, I will admit that when you think about how freaking awesome YOU are, 10% less cool is still a lot. And just that bit can make a huge difference to some one else.)

 

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Remember, Remember

As most of the people in my life know, my lovely grandmother, Faye, passed away a couple weeks ago. However, I am indescribably fortunate to have had the chance to go to London with her in 2012. One thing I just really remember well is, while walking down the street from Bayswater tube station to our hotel, I brought up one of my favorite lists of things to remember:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time
  4. When it’s over, it’s over

I don’t remember the context of the conversation, and I don’t really remember her reaction to it, no matter how much I wish I could. One reason I like these points so much is because it helps me remember that there are things I just can’t control – especially timing and the way some things turn out. 

These points are particularly poignant for me in the wake of her passing. in times like these, I think we all tend to reflect upon things we feel we could have done differently or done sooner or things we should have said. For me, the most significant thing was getting over a huge obstacle in my relationship with Grammy. For years, I went through this angsty, resentful, and jaded phase with her in the wake of her first husband’s death (more me/my issues than her). Thanks to time and also our trip together, we had lots of opportunities to talk through a lot of this (and more).

“Whenever it starts is the right time.” I have to accept that this healing process for our relationship started when it was the right time for it to start. I know I gained so much life experience and perspective and maturity in the time between Granddaddy’s death in 2004 and our trip in 2012. I have to think that that time and that growing process were things I had to go through in order to get to a level where I could meet her in conversation about it. 

“Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.” Obviously, this is a significant concept while dealing with the death of a loved one. What if she hadn’t been where she was or doing what she was doing or dealing with what she was dealing with? Couldn’t we have made it better or hold on to her longer if one thing or another was different? Blah blah blah, and the list goes on as long as we let it. It means we can fret all we want about changing the past, but the important thing is to learn to accept it and reflect on ways you can help yourself heal and continue on. (Not “move on.” I don’t think you ever really move on from a pain or loss of some one dear to you. Continue on. Keep going.) There’s nothing that could have gone any differently, and that’s really okay.

“Whoever comes are the right people.” At the viewings for my grandmother, the lines of the visitors were out the door. Each one had their own story about ways my grandmother had touched their life or helped them in one way or another. Some were even people who had met her when she just started talking to them while waiting in line somewhere. When people come into your life, there’s always something you can get from interacting with them. Sometimes the influence and presence of others is very clear and loud; sometimes their influence is quiet and only comes into your perspective later in life.

Sometimes the people in our lives hurt us. Sometimes we fall into unhealthy patterns with others. As much as it flat-out sucks to be honest about this, there is still always a takeaway. Now, I can tell you “everything happens for a reason” as much as any other person, greeting card, keychain, poster, song, or status in the world tries to, but what I need you to know is that I’m not actually confident that there really is any light, simple, logical reason behind every little thing that happens. Stuff happens that doesn’t make any sense.

The only thing I can say is that there can probably always be something you learn or experience or takeaway from these times. And I need you to know that these revelations come when you don’t know they will. You will overhear one of your classmates talking; your barista will make some small-talk with you; you will read a text message or a Facebook comment; you will listen to a song you’ve heard a thousand times over and you will hear something strange and new; you will re-read a book and have a completely different  experience; some one will simply ask you how you are.  It’ll click. Or, you’ll become aware of something lurking in your head and you will wrestle with it until you can verbalize and define it. You’ll make connections between events, quotes, shared glances, lyrics, and thoughts. Don’t worry about trying to find some elusive meaning or a silver lining in the midst of dark and confusing events. Try, instead, to remember to keep yourself open to and aware of anything you may feel or think or need. Notice everything. Write about it. In a week, six months, three years, a decade, you may make one of these connections; you will gain some understanding and perspective.

It’s more than likely that this conversation I had with my grandmother happened after finding out that her mother figure had passed away back home while we were in London, which makes me all the more curious about her internal reaction to them. I’m sure this list meant even more to her than it did to me at the time.

“When it’s over, it’s over.”

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Obama sees dead people!

Just for all y’all’s future education, the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day is that on the former, we honor those who have died while serving their country, the latter is for those who have served their country and are still alive.

Does the president know that?

(you probably don’t want to watch the whole thing. It’s right at the beginning)

But seriously, Happy Memorial Day… Or something. It’s probably not a generally happy holiday, but I don’t know how else to say it. =]

(And I threw this one in for fun.)

Where’s the Smiling?

I’ve completely forgotten about my things to smile about!  I went all the way back to my last one and found out that I last listed #16 way back in “Maximum Capacity For Awesome.”

So. To make up for the ones I’ve lost, here I go….

Reason to smile #17:  Knowing the coolest people in the world.

#18: Having a rockin’ room I love.

#19: Flirting

#20: Chapstick.

#21: Doing something you love.

#22: Witty conversations.

#23: Books.  They just make me happy.

#24: Knowing some one who pretty much always wants to see you smile.

#25: Creating something.

#26: Snow days!

#27: Having no home work.

#28: Dear and the Headlights

#29: Owl City

#30: When some one asks “How are you?” and really wants to know the truth. 

#31: Spending time with Deanna.

#32: College acceptance letters!

#33: Having awesome legos- such as a pirate skeleton, a borg, a cowboy + rifles, two armed Indians, a pirate with a feather in his hat and a parrot, a greaser with a red bandana, a leather jacket, and a knife, and a nice man with a gas mask – standing in a line on your desk shelf.

#34: Not having any clue to what wear, but ending up finding a really cute outfit in your closet.

 

So SMILE.  =]

Everything is easier in theory.

In English, we just finished reading Beloved by Toni Morrison (phenominal book). In it, there is a stream-of-consciousness section.  Every week, we have to do two journal entries: One assigned, one that we choose. Today, we wrote our own streams-of-consciousness for our assigned journal entry. 

After I got through the initial I’m-writing-with-a-blue-green-pen-because-my-purple-one-won’t-work-right thoughts, I ended up on one core idea. Because it’s in stream-of-consciousness, the grammar and punctuation are not correct.  That’s how it’s supposed to be. Here’s that part of my writing – right off the paper:

 

 

I love people. The hardest thing about people is when you have to hurt them. How do you comprimise your not wanting to hurt them with your I need to hurt them? How do you take not hurting them and the amuont you need to and take the average? When you have to tell some one something but it hurts or when you have to do something but it hurts. How has the human race lived through life? I mean, how have people not just decided to stop living? and i don’t mean suicide, I’d never, ever do that. I mean going numb or deciding other people are too much to deal with? Do things end up worth everything it takes, eventually? Everything is so much easier in theory. You say oh, I’d do this in situation X, but wwhen situation x actually happens, it starts looking and feeling like the quadratic equation. Is there a math problem that you can use to figure out what to do? Plug in the result you want for Y, plug in who your action and decision will effect for X and Z, plug in the outcome you absolutely DO NOT want as Q, plug your heart into the equation and solve it. Or would that mathmatic equation take the worth and purpose out of life? Take the trial and error and learning out of life? If we had a math problem to make our choices for us, would we stop thinking? stop feeling? stop valuing other people and start viewing them as mere variables?