Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Some of them were so busy worrying about cracking glass ceilings that they never asked what the air was like up there."

I'm starting to feel older. Already when people ask me how old I am I tell them "26", even though that milestone is still two months away. Perhaps it's living alone, perhaps it's the serious conversations with my bosses about how to turn my job into my career, perhaps it's all the research about retirement funds I've been doing, perhaps it's having an immediate family member not immediately available to me, and perhaps it's the seriousness and marvelousness of my relationship with The Boy beginning to make sense in my brain.

I feel like I've matured rather significantly over the last six months or so, and I think it's because for the first time I'm actually taking my future seriously. When I graduated from NCC I had all the hope in the world (and none of the ambition) that things would fall into place. I was young, I had time. I've since seen that success takes work, and that I'm finally not-as-content enough to begin to put in that work. There have been a lot of late nights spent pondering what my values are, what I want for myself, and readjusting the image I've had for my life that has always been in the back of my mind.

It was, perhaps, growing up with my primary caretaker being my mom that led me to believe that I, too, would be an independent lady who had my own house and my own car(s) and my own life. My mom owns a toolbox and she knows how to wield the objects therein. She would go to work in the mornings, cook us dinner at night, drive us to gymnastics and piano lessons, and read stories to us before bed. She would go line dancing with friends sometimes. Whenever something broke in the house she'd either fix it herself or knew exactly who to call. My mom always had a plan and an answer for everything; at least it seemed to be so when I was a kid. My mom did whatever was best for herself and for us. This is the model of grownup life that I have fashioned in my mind.

It was also, perhaps, being exposed to the "Girl Power!" movement and the slow scraping away of the veneer of social expectations that made me feel obligated to be a strong, independent lady. The glass ceiling still exists, wage disparities are still significant, social expectations are still wildly privileged toward men and detrimental to women and as a socially conscious young woman I feel this overwhelming burden to contribute to the de-stigmatization of women in the public eye. On the one hand, I've largely succeeded. I went to college and I graduated from college with a degree and without a husband. I pay my own bills, people respect me for my intelligence and wit, I am the sole leaseholder on my apartment, and I can't cook worth a damn.

I never assumed I would get married, but I also never assumed I wouldn't. I mostly just figured that if it happened, I wouldn't let it interfere with my life. Obviously, I never spent much time thinking about it at all. The Boy and I are tiptoeing our way toward that goal, and now that it's more of a real possibility than ever before I'm finding myself reaching with one hand for a paper bag to breathe deeply into and with the other for something solid to keep me mentally upright. I love him more than I thought I was capable of and I couldn't be prouder of him, his accomplishments, and to have him by my side. He has become family and I can easily glimpse snippets of Future Us (most notably 90 year-old Us sitting at the kitchen table in the lake house he built as he asks me to help with the Sunday crossword and I snap at him that, for the zillionth time, I'm awful at those things. Pass the World Politics section, please), but I'm very suddenly unsure of what this means for myself and my bright, shiny, independent lady life.

Believe it or not, his life and his goals are important to me, and it very viscerally feels as if I'm betraying my gender by caring about someone other than myself, most especially a man. To compromise is to have a healthy relationship, but to compromise on even the smallest details of my Grand Life Design feels traitorous. I had this awful, panicky moment several months ago when he was pondering pursuing a job in Kentucky and the mere thought of going with him made me feel like a monumental failure. After everything my mom sacrificed, and how hard she worked, and how far society has come, and after all the expectations of greatness my loved ones have of me, I was going to bow down to the patriarchy and uproot myself and everything I know for a man.

I'm slowly piecing together what happiness looks like for me, but it's a much more difficult process than I originally thought. So many messages are directed toward young girls and young women these days that I'm not sure we even notice the impact they are having until the worst possible moment. I'm proud to feel so empowered, grateful to be aware enough to know I have options and choices and to know that I could, if I wanted to, shoot for the moon and write my name among the stars. I do wonder if a balance is needed when it comes to empowering girls, though. When being told I could be anything I wanted to be I'm not sure the best way to demonstrate that was with a big red X through the image of a wife wearing an apron vacuuming the living room. Someone has to vacuum. Especially when you live alone and the entire place is carpeted.

Navigating adulthood is hard, you guys. I'm enjoying my fully developed brain and stabilized body chemistry but the weight of the world has become quite the burden.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.

Thus sayeth the ever wise Margaret Atwood.

Stolen from
One mystery of childhood that I frequently pondered is why grownups' bedrooms were so frightfully boring. The walls were beige, or some pale blue, and other than maybe a wedding picture on a dresser top the only decorations were generic seascapes or perhaps a fake plant in the corner. The only form of entertainment I ever saw in grownup bedrooms were small TV's, so small they were hardly worth watching and always much too far away to be of any practical use. Their curtains were boring. The bed was always made. Clothes were always put away in a hamper, or else at the very least folded at the end of the bed. Why on earth adults would choose to live in such drudgery was beyond my comprehension.

For perspective, I always had wonderfully expressive bedrooms growing up. I blame the previous owners of the house I grew up in for fostering this tendency since birth. The room my loving parents placed Infant Cathi into had lime green shag carpeting and Pepto pink paint on the walls. The first time I was allowed to plan and decorate my room, I chose Aladdin as the theme. I had Princess Jasmine bedsheets and a reversible comforter (depending upon whether I was in a pink or purple kind of mood), I had a fuzzy, glow-in-the-dark Aladdin poster on the wall. I had Aladdin curtains. It was magical and I loved every inch of it. As a preteen I redecorated into a more moderate theme of "blue purple and green", but the room was alive. As a teenager I requested that all four of my walls be different colors, and I painted on the darkening shade that covered my window with cheap Jordasche nail polish and invited my visiting friends to do the same.

I now type this to you from the bedroom I share with no one, in the apartment that is mine and mine alone. The bedroom walls are a lovely and tasteful grayish-green that I adore. The only entertainment in here is my bookshelf full of fantasy novels. I currently have an 8-picture frame hanging on the wall for decoration which still has the stock photos in it. Beyond sleeping and going through the vicious cycle of "get dressed and throw clothes on the floor" and "be angry at clothes being on the floor, pick them up" I spend very little time in here.

You know why? I've unlocked the secret of grownup bedrooms. I wanted this place to be peaceful and distraction-free because I wanted my bedroom to be a place for sleeping and resting. It is no longer my refuge from the rest of the world, the only place I have to express myself and be surrounded by things I love because I have an entire apartment just for that.

Suck on that, children! Just wait until you grow up and have nine hundred square feet to do with as you please! For the record, I've personalized the rest of my space with Guitar Hero band equipment, posters of places I'd like to go, and a china cabinet full of my speech and debate awards in the place of china.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We are made from the sharpest things you say

We are young and we don't care; your dreams, and your hopeless hair--we never wanted it to be this way for all our lives.

Back in June I spent a weekend at a youth leadership conference with Alex's parish acting as the token female chaperone, where it was made abundantly clear to me that I have forgotten what it is like to be a teenager. I'm not quite so far removed from the experience that I think dying my hair funny colors and wearing silly hats will help me relate, but I have forgotten what it feels like to be my own sun.

It's not that the kids at the conference were selfish and egocentric--this was a group of Good Kids at a church retreat learning how to be more effective leaders, after all--but all of their thoughts, emotions, worries, and joys were always of the most pressing concern. Each and every single one of the teens I got to know over that weekend were on their own, private adventure in which they were the main protagonist. Their hushed conversations during Mass were more like stage-whispers than actual stealth, they listened to their peers tell stories as they eagerly awaited the right moment to interject with their own anecdote or opinion, and the vim and vigor for life were undeniable in their eyes as they swept their gazes around the room.

They updated Facebook constantly on their verboten cell phones.

I'd forgotten how intense life could be, where I was fully cognizant that each and every single breath I drew was inextricably linked to my own destiny, and I'd forgotten how important my life could be. College and post-college life (I refuse to consider this The Real World, the bills aren't soul-crushing enough and my job is too fun to be reality) imposed both a sense of philosophical relativism and a practical awareness of the importance of others. It is with a combination of this more mature panoramic view and (thanks to reacquainting myself with music I used to love) a visceral reminder of teenage passion that I have read about the rioting in England, and found my reaction to be, above all, one of profound horror.

The media accounts of the four days of riots all seem to agree that the rioting was, by and large, perpetrated by youths, many as young as fourteen, and as far as anyone can tell, after the very first protest march to demand justice for the man who was shot by police, the violence, the looting, the fires, and the deaths were nothing more than sport.

Five people are dead. Three of whom were young men trying to defend their neighborhood against the gangs of youth who were attempting to destroy their homes. A family whose apartment was burned down were almost killed when teenagers began throwing burning bottles at the car they were seeking refuge in. Hundreds of people are homeless, dozens of business owners have lost everything they have, and hundreds of people were hospitalized--mostly non-rioters.

I remember what it is like to want to be a part of something bigger, and I remember what it is like to get caught up in a moment. What terrifies me the most about what transpired in England is that I find it completely believable. My friends and I were good kids when we were teenagers. We generally did well in school, we were fiercely dedicated to a club, we didn't drink or smoke, most of us weren't having sex, and if we broke the law it was laughable misdemeanors, yet it doesn't take too much stretching of my imagination to imagine us getting sucked into something as epic as rioting. I don't believe that the majority of the young people out rioting in England are bad, sociopathic people. Some of them? Sure. But not all of them, and the idea that it can be so easy for so many normal people to cause so much damage, to be so callous and unthinking makes the breath catch in my lungs.

I don't know what there is to be done, I don't know if anything can be done to prevent something like this from happening again. I just know that I'm going to be very kind to the teenagers in my life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back

Allow me to announce publicly how bummed I am that football is happening this year. I would have found a winter season without the obsession, misogyny, homophobia, and pseudo-aggression that accompanies the NFL quite refreshing; also it would have allowed me to successfully avoid buying a Bears jersey for work for the 5th year in a row.

My current quest to get myself an apartment is an unanticipated exercise in assessing my core values. Nothing really makes you pause and turn a puzzled eye inward like hearing the phrase "never again the hand-washing times!" leave your mouth. Despite living a whole entire quarter century without killing myself, getting a call from a debt collector, or setting anything/anyone major on fire, there's a number of things that have called for reexamination. For example:

My relationship with money
I've always known that I'm a saver, not a spender. When I get a paycheck (or organize my rubber band bank at the end of the night) my first and strongest impulse is to put it straight into my savings account so that I may gaze upon the pleasantly large balance and rub my hands together in diabolical glee. "Yes," I think to myself, "look at all my money. Tomorrow there shall be more! Good, good." I was also raised to be a bargain hunter, to do a lot of research and spend a lot of time so as to find the optimum mix of savings and quality. Now confronted with the outrageous overinflation of rent prices, I've discovered that I react with fist-clenching anger with no one to vent my righteous indignation upon other than my poor family (who, if you're Seester, aren't terribly sympathetic to my plight).

My relationship with others
The simplest solution to my residential tight-waddiness would be to get a roommate. Splitting exorbitant rent two ways would result in a completely manageable amount to be spent each month, and honestly not a lot of lost independence. However, ask me if I want a roommate and watch the involuntary grimace cross my face. Maybe it's the fact that I'm forced to be social all day/night at work and am thus spoiled for my personal time, or maybe I'm just finally owning up to the fact that I'm a crotchety, inconsiderate lady at heart, but the idea of having to share living space leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I've never really been good at sharing; it was something I did growing up under duress and even then not very well, let alone graciously, and now that I'm a Grown-Ass-Woman I'm making sure that I don't have to share if I don't absolutely have to.

My relationship with expectations
I have a lot of high ideals for myself, which are coming into conflict with the aforementioned tight-waddiness. Can I live with outdated appliances, a community laundry room, hand-washing my dishes, noisy neighbors, and ugly carpets? Of course. Do I want to? Oh hail naw. I'm twenty five years old, I'm doing fairly well for myself, and if I can afford not to live in some dump, then I won't. I find nothing glamorous in slumming it. "Luxury" costs extra money though. I'm still not sure which I value more.

Everyone who isn't my dad or my sister has asked me the question "what about The Boy? Why aren't you guys living together?" and to that, I say "mooooom stop bugging me about it!" This has actually required the most amount of introspection and list making, and is something The Boy and I need to discuss beyond him jokingly(?) bugging me to hurry up and find a place so he can come live a life of leisure with his Sugar Mama.

Other things I'd rather not talk about:
-Our nationally elected officials
-The economy
-"Why on earth would you come back here from the city???"
-My weight (yes I've lost some, please stop exclaiming over how noticeable it is, as it's making me feel fat retroactively)
-Gas prices

18 over par,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements

According to Blogger's wonderful ability to save drafts of entries the following are topics which have been on my mind but left abandoned due to lack of time or follow-through (in chronological order):

-Gunshots, more specifically how I heard them one night and did nothing about it, despite fancying myself to be the type of person who would call for help if she saw or heard something amiss.

-How much I truly resent having poor eyesight, illustrated by my blind, shuffling walk home from the hipster eye doctor one bright, sunny afternoon after my eyes were dilated.

-The appalling sexism evident in the re-opening of public examination of Chris Brown's assault of Rihanna after "S&M" was released, re: "Did you hear that song? She obviously liked being beaten up, Chris did nothing wrong, poor maligned thing!" (read as: raaaaaaaaaaaaage)

-Work ethic and a sense of responsibility, and how I have it, despite evidence that neither are requirements or even expectations at Erie St TGIF.

-My increasing itch to do better for myself when it comes to my employment because despite being happy in the moment, I'm quite frankly disappointed with how I think my job reflects upon me as a person.

-The great internal conflict I had to face when confronted with Alex's application for a job back in Kentucky, whether or not I was willing to uproot myself if he got the job and what it would say about me whichever way I chose.

-The sadness, ambivalence, and guilt that came along when my friend from high school, Kristen, passed away.

-City life, what I've learned, how I've changed, if I'm ready to leave.

This all, more or less, encompasses my last few months. My last day at Erie St. was Sunday which was almost disappointingly anticlimactic after eleven days of constant, busy shifts. I took a week off so I can slowly pack, and just enjoy my remaining time here on the Northside. Thus far I've been to the beach three times, slept in until I just felt like getting up, painted my nails, spent good time at good bars with some good friends I'm sad to be leaving behind, and less frivolously packed my dvds and books and swept up the living room. After the absolute nightmare that was my move into this apartment, I'm hoping to make the move out of it as pain free as possible.

Lots of Future Things are looming in my sights and tying my tummy up in knots, but I have faith things will settle down soon enough.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Born This Way

One of the biggest factors in my decision not to pursue even higher education is the fact that my least favorite part of educating myself was doing the research. No amount of scintillating class discussions, speech and debate trophies as tall as I am, or waived tuition  can convince me that I want to spend any more time on doing research; which is, you know, 100% of what you have to do to create theses or dissertations. I can read the hell out of anything you give me, and even draw my own conclusions when reading articles and studies in conjunction with each other but the process of tracking down information is to me what picking socks up off the floor and making the bed is to an 8 year old. I don't wanna, and you can't make me.

I just finished watching the documentary "Fat Head", comic/author Tom Naughton's response to Morgan Spurlock's "SuperSize Me". The premise is that he found SuperSize Me to be over-the-top and laughable, and set out to possibly prove Spurlock wrong. Naughton's tone the entire time was one of ironic superiority, causing me to wonder if Spurlock gave Naughton a swirlie during an intermission at Sundance in the past, though I did find myself liking Naughton and the cut of his jib. I also recall enjoying SuperSize Me and liking Morgan Spurlock as well. Troubling. Now I (as well as most people, I would hope) approach media of all sorts, especially documentaries, with a healthy dose of skepticism. I'm not as stupid or gullible as advertisers and promoters wish we all were. Fat Head made a lot of questionable claims, but it's difficult to argue with Naughton's main conclusion: this is a free country and people are different. They make different choices, they have different values, and they have different preferences (though he does deliver this with a meaningful glance over his glasses after accusing I, the watcher, of choosing to sit on a couch eating Rice Crispy Treats instead of taking up volleyball).

All in all, I've drawn the shocking and controversial conclusion that Eating is Tricky and Bodies are Weird. Last year when I was doing my personal training and struggling with a high protein, low carb diet I lost around seven pounds (the goal was fifteen), lowered my body fat percentage, and was pleased with how flat my stomach looked. Unwilling to keep up all that hard work, I reverted back to my old habits with a vengeance and as predicted by statistics gained the weight back and watched my tummy flub return. Thanks to the fancy scale Seester got me for Christmas last year I am in possession of the knowledge that today, I am ten pounds lighter than I was two months ago and a full three pounds lighter than I was when I was doing with three months of intense (for me) diet and exercise last year.

I certainly didn't do it on purpose. Armed with the basic knowledge that in order to get less flabby I'd have to eat better and exercise more I settled instead for trying to love my body the way it was. My kitchen manager tried to fight me about the fact that I had lost weight when, after he admiringly asked if I had, I responded that I didn't know, I hadn't been trying. He insisted that I must have changed something (drinking less? stopped eating at night?), so I suggested it was because I stopped eating Friday's food since we weren't allowed to hang out at the bar anymore. He looked a bit wounded. He IS in charge of that food, after all. Alls I know is that I eat a lot of fried and carbohydrate'd crap, usually in one large sitting before I go to work, drink more beer than I probably should, and avoid anything that resembles exercise like it'll give me cancer on the spot. How I've lost weight is beyond me.

What bugs me, and what was highlighted after watching Fat Head, is that I will probably never know what it is that has caused my body to become slightly healthier. It clearly varies from person to person, and diet, exercise, and health are all extremely relative. This means that in order to figure out what my ideal mixture is I will have to do, you guessed it, research--all KINDS of research, since there is literally an opinion backed by a study or PhD or MD to support every single version of diet (or lack thereof), exercise (or lack thereof), and standard of health. I am way, way too lazy to bother with that nonsense.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Seid bereit, immer bereit

I often mention my uneasy relationship with emotions. As I continue to grow, experience, and change, I'm learning more about my relationship with my feelings and, um, my feelings about my feelings. I've learned that as a human being I deserve to experience the highs and the lows that come with life, and I'm learning to take ownership of whims both sad and joyful that can't be explained away by logic or circumstance

I read a blog entry fairly recently, and when describing her process of coming to terms with a life event the woman writing the post said "I wasn't ready, and then I was." I've had this tucked away in my head ever since I read it because it was at the same time succinct and profound, and it applies to anything that is scaring you (erm, me) about the future. It gave me permission to not be ready for some things, and it made me feel better about being 25 years old and not having achieved what I've internalized as a standard of success. I know that eventually, I will be ready. That moment just hasn't happened yet for some things.

I had a moment a couple days ago, though. It was a combination of things that had happened throughout the day which culminated in one quiet moment in my car where I actually exclaimed out loud "Oh my God, I think I'm ready." I immediately doubted myself because I'm not really a believer in Lightning Bolt From Heaven moments and this revelation would certainly qualify. Because I walk a careful line between psychosis and rationality I rigorously interrogated myself as I made my way to my destination, saying some things out loud to see how the words tasted in my mouth and how they felt coming back into my ears. I was skeptical of the fact that everything felt right and wonderful when verbalizing my revelation, so I've given myself a couple weeks to see if it sticks.

It's been a few days and neither nausea nor cold sweats have appeared but, other than this none-too-subtle blog entry (I often over-estimate my cleverness and under-estimate your, Blog Reader's, powers of inference), I'm sticking to my two-week gag order. I need time to construct lists and say things out loud a few more times to rationalize an unanticipated aligning of my internal clockwork. In the meantime, I'm stepping up my search for one-bedroom apartments back in my home 'hood and beginning a countdown to my first day back at The 'Brook TGIF.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's sixteen miles to the Promised Land

I've come to view writing in my blog as an act of domesticity. Perhaps it's because the blogs I've been reading lately have been "lifestyle blogs" (ie: someone much craftier and more motivated to write than I blogs about their everyday life), or perhaps it's because I approach blogging with the same mentality I do, say, cleaning the bathroom. I don't actually mind doing the work itself, I looooove the end result and always feel like I should get a gold star on an accomplishment board, but finding the motivation to just suck it up and do it already is a project.

I've been sick the last few days which has given me time to reflect upon past illnesses, how I deal with being sick, what "being sick" means to me, and so on. This current plague seems to be a reoccurrence of the last time I fell ill a few months ago. Last time I mostly felt "vaguely sick-ish" but had a pronounced and horrible middle-backache. I kept asking everyone at work if I was dying of meningitis. Note that sentence implies that I kept going to work. This time I had the horrible backache again, but it was preceded by a sore throat and swollen glads and appeared simultaneously with a rapid-onset fever, chills, the weakness of a kitten with worms, and a less intense but still present all-over bodyache. The sore throat and swollen glands showed up when I woke up to go to work at 6:30am Sunday and the rest showed up in exponential increases as I went about my shift.

The restaurant industry at large is often criticized, and fairly so, for being suuuuuper shady when it comes to employee health and wellness (and therefore customer health and wellness). Shifts are scheduled to the bare minimum, so an employee really can't just "call in sick". I have to find a replacement, or else my coworkers will be overworked and the customers will be underserved. Therefore, even if I've lost a limb to a rare combination of gangrene and the bubonic plague if I can't find someone to come in for me, I HAVE TO come in and work.

Does this make business sense? For the most part, no. Customers can tell when their bartender is sick and it grosses them out to have a probably contagious person handling their food and drink. They might leave to go somewhere else where there aren't visibly dying employees. They might not stay for dessert because they just want to get away from the sniffling mess that's bringing the food out. They will very likely not recommend the establishment and will think twice about coming back. On the flip side, if you just let people call in sick, guests don't know that the reason their salad is taking twenty minutes to come out, or five minutes for the one lonely bartender to get around to greeting them is because the restaurant thought it would be better for everyone if Typhoid Mary stayed home. They just know that the service sucks, and the bad cycle is begun again.

Practicalities aside, hourly restaurant employees don't get sick days. If you don't work, you don't make money. If you call in sick anyway, you might get fired. Servers, bartenders, busses, and line cooks are a dime a dozen. We're expendable and we know it, so there are a lot of factors that go into the decision of going in for your shift anyway when you're vomiting every fifteen minutes.

That said--my manager Sunday morning handled my rapid onset debilitation in a professional, employee-minded, business centered way, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I was shocked. It's not that I don't have faith in the humanity and compassion of my bosses, it's just that I know their decisions have to be made with "Overall Guest Satisfaction" in mind, and that's often at the expense of us. I'd asked him around 9am if it'd be possible to evaluate getting me out of there when the 3rd bartender showed up at noon, because I was just getting worse and worse. He asked if I could make it until 2pm when the 4th bartender showed up. I gave an uncertain "okay...". Around 11am, after the 2nd bartender was on the clock, and when my manager walked into the bar to me sitting on the floor by the mix cooler with my head in my hands, he pulled one of the servers off the floor to have them come help out in the bar and sent me home. All shifts were still covered, and I didn't have to be there.

I'm on my way to being recovered. I had yesterday off, I found someone to cover my shift tonight, and I just noticed I have tomorrow off also. My awful back and bodyaches have gone away, as has my fever, but I'm left with a lingering sore throat, swollen glands, and my dry cough has turned into a wet, hacking one, which I think means I'm almost done being sick.

On a completely different note, Seester accepted her acceptance to the English PhD program at Boston College for the fall. I'm simultaneously elated and sad. I think the program is her dream come true and will help her become an Allstar of Academia, but, I mean, Boston's really far away :(

Monday, March 14, 2011

There's a blaze of light in every word

Back when work was fun

Happy Pi Day Everyone!

It seems like my coworkers and guests have all been conspiring to force me to take a good, hard look at my life and my "career" choices recently. The weather here in the Chi is beginning to warm up which means the busy season is rapidly going to be upon us, which means my daily contemplations of taking advantage of the city's unenforceable handgun ban to shoot myself in the face is nigh.

It's not that I mind being busy, it's just that I mind the proportionate increase in people who are difficult, mean for no reason, unreasonably demanding, and lacking in basic human decency and compassion. A discussion with one bartender about how hard it would break into the corporate branch of our company, a guest wondering why I didn't go work somewhere fancier with better tippers, and a conversation with a different bartender about whether this location was giving me ideas on how not to run a restaurant have all reminded me that I intend to move up in this company. The Boy has begun rather frequently wondering out loud why I don't just quit and go work somewhere that has less stress and a bigger payoff and to be honest, some days I very seriously consider it. I'm 99% sure that when I move back to the suburbs my old location will welcome me back with open arms, whether or not I stayed with the company here in the city.

I then remind myself of a few things. One, getting a new job is not a guarantee. Two, I'm not a quitter. Three, I get my health insurance through work. Four, if I really do intend to move up to the corporate level quitting would reflect poorly upon me. Five, it's only five more months. They made me a "training coach" pretty much as soon as they let me into the bar here at the downtown TGIF, and a recent coach meeting actually managed to have an impact on me. This particular bartending job with this particular company requires an acceptance of what is often referred to as "corporate bullshit". If you're not willing to do what seems like ridiculous, disingenuous protocol then this company is not for you and you can feel free to leave peacefully to go work someplace where there isn't an expectation that you ask every guest if they're a member of our rewards program and invite them back, regardless of whether they're tourists from Bangkok who could barely communicate with you. In essence, be willing to be a corporate robot.

I can do this. This, I think, will help me cope with the imminent increase in business (and therefore evilness). Being able to tell myself that, while at work, I'm not Cathi, I'm TGICathi and what happens here is not a reflection of my true self and no matter what people say they're not commenting on my actual worth will make the days go by more easily. I can look at my remaining five months as an opportunity to study, to watch and learn. This place is just so different from Bolingbrook that I'm telling myself it's an invaluable learning experience to know what it's like to do six million dollars in sales a year, to experience different managerial styles, and to see what it takes to operate with a huge staff of diverse people.

With all that said, I'm going to take a deep, calming breath and get ready for work tonight. I will smile, I will suggestively sell, and I will card each and every person who appears to be under 40 years old (and I will only accept valid, current, government issued IDs--I'm looking at you, Guy From Apple Yesterday With The 3-Year Expired ID Who Left In A Huff When I Refused To Get Him A Blue Moon).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Marrying Kind

I think this entry is going to end up being a lot of things.

Wedding planning is daunting, and I say this as a mere Wedding Recruit (aka Maid of Honor) for the Poncho Wedding Extravaganza. Daunting can be both good and bad, it just means there's a lot of choices, a lot of information, and a TON of distractions. Fortunately for me, I can immerse myself into this project and allow myself to be distracted by the shiny things, the pretty things, and the hilarious antics of anonymous brides without having to worry about money, deadlines, or letting anyone down.

It has raised a lot of questions in my own mind regarding my own relationship. I've tried very hard over the last five years not to compare my relationship to Poncho's but I'm willing to admit that it's difficult not to. We started dating our dudes more or less within a week of each other back in 2006 and being the same age and going through the same timeline with undergrad and all, well, I don't think you can fault me too much for occasionally making mental Venn Diagrams. I always knew it was a bad idea to do this, if only because comparing your life to others' is never an advised activity. Poncho and I go about things very differently; relationships beings the crowning jewel of our differences. We expect different things from our partners, our communications skills are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and as time went on our academic and professional life paths diverged. Trying to compare my relationship with hers is like trying to compare cats and dogs. Everyone has their preferences and opinions, but at the end of the day they're entirely different animals.

Not that this hasn't stopped me from watching her get engaged and begin wedding planning with a tinge of envy and wondering to myself "why isn't this me?" The Boy and I have been together for five years now, we're happier together than we've ever been, we've occasionally discussed our wedding (ranging from the less-serious "let's bake brownies instead of a cake and have people vote whose they like best" to the much more serious "you know I refuse to convert to Catholicism, right?") and we quite often speculate about a life together. So, why aren't we a mirror image of my best friend and her boyfriend? Well, a hundred reasons, but none more important that "Because. That's why."

I mean let's be honest, I'm not ready to be a wife. Not yet. This doesn't mean that we're not in love, or that our relationship sucks or that I'm experiencing doubts or some need to go sow my wild oats (or whatever it is single people say when celebrating their singleness). It just means I have some personal goals I need to accomplish before I can even realistically entertain the thought. This is something that I've had to remind myself what feels like a thousand times in the last month, and something I will have to continue to remind myself as the excitement for Poncho Wedding Extravaganza ramps up. I'm happy with The Boy. I'm happy with where we are, and who we are together. We're right where we should be, doing what we need to be.

Life is not a competition. Other things are, like bartending, debate, or which sister is prettier and more successful. But not life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Found myself today singing out your name

One thing that was often lacking in Blog.1 (This being Blog.2, you see) was, in a word, transparency. I tended to wait to write entries until I felt I had something more significant than "some fat lady was all up in my grill on the bus and I was wigging out about it, so I tried to imagine that her stupid butt that was bumping into my shoulder was just a pillow, a nice, soft pillow, which worked great until she finally moved and I realized I'd been crop dusted." After telling this story and being rewarded with uproarious laughter (instead of the polite chuckles I usually get after botching a story) I've decided that maybe my everyday life might be worth sharing.

Another stumbling block when it comes to my ruminating about the thoughts tumbling around my head is the fact that I am blessed with many relationships and therefore my daily ruminations often center around the people in my life. Since the dawn of my blogging years, yes, even back in the self-centered days of my freshmen year in high school I was intimately aware of the fact that the words I was producing were going out into a public realm far more vast than I could possibly anticipate. Strangers might deduce my location and kidnap me after school! People who wished to do me social ill in the hallways might read this! I was giving the link to all of my friends, so they'd definitely read all the salacious details about them that I'd penned. MY MOM MIGHT READ THIS. As I've matured a bit, the concern that my employers could access this has occasionally crossed my mind.

So despite being an angst-ridden teenager, I still knew that I had a responsibility to protect not only myself, but also the people in my life from the ills of the Internet. This transformed from the fear driven into me by Oprah and the Naperville Police Department from "being abducted by creepy men in trenchcoats" to "I really shouldn't talk about my friends' and family's lives without their permission". This manifested itself most keenly when it came to the relationship I've been in for the last five years. A large part of it was my fear that if I spewed sappy/wobbly word-vomit out into the universe that if/when he decided he wanted out of the relationship everyone would know what a fool I'd been, but part of it was also wanting to respect his emotional privacy by keeping things like "he threatened to kill half a dozen people today when we were stuck in traffic, and I nearly believed him" to myself. I've held firm to the belief that by protecting and censoring my own thoughts, opinions, and ruminations about the actions of people I love, or my feelings about the state of things that I was protecting them. Really, I was just shielding myself from disappointment.

Those days are over, my friends. Not that I'm going to begin revealing secrets my loved ones have trusted to me, but the simple fact is my life IS the people around me. Without my family, The Boy, Poncho and Boy-Poncho, and the less-frequent though equally important friends who bless me with their presence I would have very little to talk about.

Unless you care to hear about my frustrations with LOST, in which case I have lots to talk about.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Beginnings

Greetings blogging world at large!

After years of seeing my blogging and writing in general fall into a steep decline, largely due to the lack of things to procrastinate on, I came to the decision that my old blogging site was not aesthetically motivating. By that I mean that in this age where everything is personalized to the nth degree and made easy with the advent of Rich Text Format, just wasn't cutting it for me anymore.

I intend to transfer all of my Diaryland posts to this thing, though the impulse to tamper with less desireable posts from years ago might prove to be too strong. We shall see. Once that endeavor is complete (or abandoned), I think I'll be able to post again.

Aufwiedersehen, lieblings.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two Thousand and Eleven, Common Era

Here's some advice I wish I got when I was your age: Live every week like a Shark Week

It's officially five days into the new year and I still can't reallybring myself to want to write my 2010 recap. The latter half of the year has, overall, bummed me out and I'm mostly just trying to close my eyes, plug my ears, and yell "lalalalala" until July when my lease is up and I can make a change again.

Things I Hope Come to Pass in '10
-Get out to Oregon to visit SB
Success! The Pacific northwest coast is interesting, gorgeous, and I'm raring to go back.
-Move to Chicago with Seester
Success? I did it. We're here. It's okay I guess.
-Get a Real Job (I'd love NPR or Q101, but I'm not picky) Caveat: acceptable alternative--go to grad school
Nope. But I've made up my mind with what I want to do with myself.
-Stick with The Boy
I'm giving this a 50% success rate.
-Keep up the healthy habits
Failure, I suppose. I have managed to moderate my eating habits.
-Grow my hair all long(er) and sexy-like
-Go to at least one wedding. Everyone keeps getting married and no one ever invites me!
Success! Three weddings! Ah ah ah.
-Write more
This is another 50% success rate. I wrote more. Just not in here.

It's always quite difficult to sum up my feelings about a year once it's over. A year is still a very long time for my young little brain and last January seems very, very far away. Judging from the handful of entries I composed this past year, 2010 went something like this: Trying to improve my life by exercising and eating right, thinking that was crap and too hard, trying to salvage my relationship as I felt it slipping away, being crushingly sad about being broken up, hating working in the city, being nervously ecstatic that The Boy wanted to work it out, still hating working in the city. The end.

It's been a learning year, overall. I learned about my limits when it comes to will power and work ethic. I learned a good deal about love and relationships. I've learned a lot about my personality and what I'm capable of dealing with, and a lot about city folk and human nature. Overall 2010 has ended on a lower note than it began. I miss my friends in the suburbs. I miss my regulars. I miss work being laid-back. I'm still scared that things with The Boy are too good to be true. I miss my parents. I miss helping the speech team. I want my old life back, essentially. It's been fun Chicago, but I think our relationship has an expiration date.

Also I turned a quarter-century old and spent the last week of the year hobbling around like an old person because I inexplicably hurt my back. Awesome.

Things I Hope Come to Pass in '11
-Move back to the suburbs
-Go to New York and meet the long lost fams
-Not lose The Boy again
-Get on the management track
-Chop off my long(er), sexy-like hair
-Help plan a wedding
-Seester goes to grad school!

Get ready for the campaigns for 2012 to start, and for my Sarah Palin costume to get a good workout.

Changes, please,