Adjusted and Actually Happy

I cried every day for two weeks straight starting with that night in the parking lot at work. I cried in the shower, in the car, in the woods, before bed, when I woke up in the morning. I just cried and cried. The shock of the transition into a new environment and the sadness of this year’s Christmas have now passed and I can say I’m thankfully back to normal.

I really didn’t know if I was going to like working in a grocery store. My doubts were substantial. The new job has resurrected the pain in my hip, which really only lay dormant for a few weeks, from constant squatting and heavy lifting. But other than that I’m enjoying it. I already understand why everyone who works for my company likes working for my company.

1) The boss worked a ten-hour shift with us on Christmas Eve

2) We finished early the other night and played shuffleboard in the frozen food aisle

3) I have like twenty new friends

The steady paycheck isn’t hurting either.

I have a new rhythm now, working most days 3-11p. My diet (more on this later) was thrown out of loop from the constant stream of Christmas cookies and candies made available at work. There is always decadent food in the break room and we are encouraged to try it all. Working here is going to take more food resolve than I realized.

This week I’m working out my new life schedule, figuring out when to exercise, what to do with the neurotic puppy and how to eat to stay energized but not pack on pounds. I have much more free time now than I did when I was running the business. I’m excited to fill it with exercise and writing.

2010 brought so much internal change for me and now 2011 is almost upon us.  Here’s to new beginnings and continued success with everything we’ve been working on so far!

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Chinese Food

This is the first time in my life I’m going to wake up on Christmas by myself. It’s the first time I won’t be with my family and I’m having a hard time with that. There was one year when I went to my partner’s parents’ house but they were family at the time so they counted. We were only a few hours from home anyway. Now it’s two days before Christmas Eve and I’m clear across the country just getting around to writing Christmas cards. My mood is somber to say the least. I miss everyone so much.

The last string of posts on here illustrates the emotional holiday roller coaster I recently boarded. One minute I’m up, the next I’m down.

A little part of me is dying at the thought of not eating Chinese food with my grandmother on Friday. We do it every Christmas Eve. She sits at the head of the table, where she has forever sat, and I sit to her left piling enormous amounts of Kung Pao pork and General Tso’s chicken onto her plate, more than anyone thinks she can eat but she always finishes it. Then we eat fortune cookies and laugh and laugh and laugh.

This year is different. This year the impact of being laid off is finally hitting home. The money has dried up and what little room I have left on the credit card will soon be snatched up by head gasket work for the car instead of a plane ticket back east. This year I’m paying the financial consequences of chasing a dream to be a small business owner and I continue to pay the consequences of having a car and pets. It’s a combination of unforeseen circumstances and personal choices.

The thought of walking away from my food cart in order to get back on a path to financial security breaks my heart. But it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as this moment when I am so far away from my Grams and my mom and my dad and Kathy and Joanna and Ericka and my sister. I’m not going to lounge on Mr. and Mrs. Contorno’s couch this year, leaning my head on Joanna’s shoulder, reaching my hand over to rub Kathy’s pregnant belly. I’m not going to hug all of Kyle and Priscilla’s kids or Ericka’s either. I’m not going to sit on the floor next to my Grams with my head in her lap while she opens her presents. Talk about a shot in the gut. Not having enough money for a new toothbrush sucked. But not being surrounded by my loved ones on Christmas?! Holy good god I might rather stick forks in my eyes than suffer this again.

The weight of the sadness I’m feeling at not being with my family right now is making it clear to me where my priorities lie. I’ll never let this happen again. I’ve learned so much this year about what I truly need (and don’t need) to survive. In this moment I’m recognizing how much I need to be sitting next to my grandmother on Christmas Eve eating Chinese food and then again on Christmas morning when I make her brunch.

In the meantime there’s a lot of work I can do to better love the ones I’m with. That’s honestly something I’ve never been good at so the practice is welcome. I certainly won’t be alone all day Saturday as gracious PDX friends have invited me to their house.

Stupid Christmas making me all sad. I will snap out of this now and go write some upbeat cards. Sorry for the downer!

Catch Me

Catch me, Journal, I’m starting to slip

Back into feeling stupid for leaving

Catch me

I’m forgetting why it’s better to be here than there

Today in the car on the radio I heard them playing Nick Drake

No one ever hears them playing Nick Drake on the radio, Journal

It’s because they never play him

But I heard it, I swear

And whoosh I was carried by the flood, almost drowned by it

Back to the happiness, back to the love

Back to every good thing that ever happened between us

And here I am now alone in my bed too late at night unable to sleep

Wondering what I’m doing with my life

Wondering why this loneliness is better

This loneliness is what I was afraid of, Journal

The fear of this loneliness kept me steady for so long

Or should I say stuck

So catch me, Journal, and remind me why this is better

 

Dream Out Loud

I have now officially asked two guys out. This latest one works in an office I have the pleasure of frequenting. I get to see him every now and then working at his desk, but we’ve never had much interaction. He is stupid hot. Like so hot I hardly even noticed him at first because of a deep-seated unconscious compartmentalization process that automatically placed him in the Out of Your League department of my ego.

Two weeks ago I stopped by the office and was chatting with someone near the front door. Someone else entered and the hot guy got up from his desk to come greet him. It was the first time said hot guy had walked in my direction. And he walked with purpose. Wham! His presence smacked me across the face in the most awesome way another person’s presence can. He’s a man. Like a real bona fide man.

Needless to say, he’s been on my mind.

Yesterday I was back at the office and he caught my eye when I walked in. There he was at his desk all perfect and hot and maybe even noticing me noticing him. Mmmm… I like flirting. I was only there for a minute. I took off to run my other errands and when I got home thought to myself, Why the hell not? Worst case scenario: I give a cool person a nice compliment.

I emailed:

Drinks?

I realize this is bold, considering we’ve never actually met. But anytime I stop by your office catching a glimpse of you makes my day.

I figure there’s no harm in asking.

I added a quick description of myself in case he had any question of who I was.

No crickets this time. His response was quick, mature and thoughtful.

Hi Jennifer,

What a nice note to receive, and such a compliment that it is from you!

Alas, I am in a relationship but maybe we will cross paths in the future.

It actually made me admire him more and helps me move farther away from the losers who give no response, ignore me or run away. I get it that I’m a very straightforward go-getter. I also know I’m a feminine Pisces daydreamer. In my second favorite U2 song, Zooropa, Bono says, She’s gonna dream of the world she wants to live in, She’s gonna dream out loud. That’s me. I dream out loud. I tell everyone what I’m thinking about and then I go after it.

I know that can be intimidating to some and I’m finally reaching a point in my life where I am happy to wait for the man who isn’t afraid of a strong woman who knows what she wants. I’m happy to hold on hope that the right person will find me so long as I keep putting myself out there and not allowing the rejections to get me down.

Because when the rejection comes in a negative form, I can rest assured that he wasn’t the guy for me (read : cart guy, texter dude and all the weirdos on OKC). And when it comes in a positive form, which just happened yesterday, it actually ends up being a compliment. I mean the guy I would put in the #1 spot for “Hottest in Portland” (and I’m not alone in this) alluded to the possibility that getting a compliment from me was a big deal. That’s awesome! This particular specimen is taken, but he represents the kind of person I’m seeking out. The hunt is on and I’m heading in the right direction.

Why would I want to date somebody who ignores me anyway? The answer to that question seems unbelievably obvious – like we would smack our best friend or sister for asking it about herself. Yet don’t we all find ourselves having trouble believing we deserve the best sometimes?

I’m thankful for the humbling seemingly backwards yet actually forwards propelling incidents of the past few years. It used to be that I had a fancy house and a popular boyfriend and lots of money and a cool job. It used to be that I was overly sarcastic, oftentimes drunk, somewhat depressed and constantly frustrated.

Going through the experiences of loss and change have helped me move away from what I don’t want which is in turn helping me move towards what I do want, both in terms of who I am and who I want to be with.

I no longer have a house, money, a boyfriend or a cool job. I’m also no longer sarcastic, drunk, or depressed. I do have a job and I do still get frustrated, but nothing feels constant to me anymore, except a growing sense of contentment in the world I am creating.

Before You Know It You’ll Be Wrangling Shopping Carts in the Freezing Rain for Ten Dollars an Hour

There have been so many moments in the past two years where I have had to stop and wonder what the hell is happening to my life. The day I left my partner of many many years. The day I moved out of my co-op. The day I got laid off from my dream job. The night I drove west out of Brooklyn over the Verrazano Bridge and headed for the left coast.

There was my arrival on the doorstep of two friendly strangers who would commence my welcome to Portland and be my roommates for nine months. Standing in the cold on a farm in Corbett, OR watching my sister destroy the existing floor of a trailer I bought in Seattle. Sitting in business plan writing class next to 25 other entrepreneurs attempting to put their ideas into action. My second day at the cart when it was just me hoping someone other than my friends would believe I made a smoothie worth paying for.

Hauling crates of bananas and apples out of Restaurant Depot with a broken back. Writhing in pain unable to fall asleep for months after I fell. Crashing off my bike. The day I tried to ask that guy out but I couldn’t catch him because I was limping, so I went back to my cart and decided to fast for forty days. Hiking in the woods twenty days in, when I kinda went cray cray and hit the deep end.

Recently it’s all been financial woes that have led me to the question of What the hell is going on? Financial woes that led me to close up the cart for the winter and drive around in a torrential downpour for five hours delivering applications and cover letters to every location of a certain national upscale grocery store chain in the Portland area. (There are seven.) I applied on a Thursday. Interviewed on a Friday and a Saturday. Started on a Sunday. Now it’s Tuesday. I’m halfway through my first six days with the company and I’m practically delirious. Be careful what you wish for, says the sage. Life can change in an instant and this job is kicking my ass.

I don’t mean to complain. It is saving me at a critical time. But there’s a lot to take in. How quickly the weather can chase all of my business away, the rain leaving me damp and lonely, not making enough to get by. How quickly I can be tossed into a new job with no time for training during the busy holiday season and everything changing around me. What will happen to my business that I put everything into? What will happen to my cart and my neighbors and the customers I’ve come to know? What happened to being my own boss?

So I’m thinking about it all in the parking lot of my new job as I wrangle shopping carts ten minutes before my shift is over in the dark and freezing rain. Actually I started thinking about it a few minutes ago, out back behind the store as I hauled 24 bags of garbage to the dumpster by myself.

When I woke up this morning I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy I have a crush on. The texter dude from Seattle who actually did write back and then I wrote back but now it’s crickets again. I had it in my head that I should put myself out there so he knows I dig him. My message would be upbeat and quirky:

“Logic tells me if you were interested you’d be trying to get to know me. But I’ve also heard guys can be clueless. Here’s hoping you’re not that bright.”

Or maybe, “WAKE UP! There’s a girl in PDX that likes you!”

Then I thought about it some more. I made the first move, I’ve shown continued interest, I’ve been vulnerable. If he’s not paying attention he’s the idiot. Not me. Like the other online guy said completely out of nowhere: “Stop chasing. He’ll find you.” It’s wise advice. I need to stand tall and proud.

All I can think about in this parking lot is thank goodness I didn’t send that message. The last thing I could take in this moment is another level of rejection or loss even coming from a complete stranger hundreds of miles away. And I’m crying because I cry. That’s how I get it all out. Luckily when I get back in the store I’ll just look flush and rained on. No one will ask if anything is wrong and I’ll slip out the front door with a fake smile plastered across my face and a chipper “Good night!”

I’ll continue crying in the car on the drive home which will not be a good idea because the rain will pour down and I still don’t really know my way through windy Johnson Creek to Tacoma across the Sellwood. What comes next? Taylors Ferry to Terwilliger and I still won’t be on the right side of Barbur.

But I will make it home and the dogs will greet me with an over pouring of love even though I left them cooped up for nine hours. I’ll apologize and they’ll forgive, as we have grown so accustomed to doing. Miraculously the puppy will not have destroyed anything in the house. He seems to have an innate sense of when that would actually send me over the edge of whatever remnant of sanity I have left. I’ll walk him in the rain and he’ll trot along beside me happily unaware of the weather, only glad to have me back home for the night.

Soon I will find five minutes to buy groceries and that new toothbrush I’ve been promising myself. Soon the pups will be set up with daycare and a dog walker. Soon there will be a paycheck to start chipping away at that credit card debt.

It’s possible that this is the first step in a long journey with a fantastic company. It’s possible that tomorrow I’ll sell the cart for more than I put into it and walk away smiling. It’s possible that the dude from Seattle has a secret master plan to slowly but surely text his way into my heart, sweep me off my feet and vow to keep me company for the rest of our lives.

We still don’t know what’s going to happen next, do we? So for tonight, once again, I will consciously dare to dream big.