Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Attitude and Ambition.

Egads it’s been a while since my last post. …And there’s reason for it. I’ve had a lot to say lately. (Don't worry, it's not about politics.) So much I would have loved to have vented about, but ultimately I decided all that info I’m so tempted to purge is basely inflammatory and while it would potentially serve as endearing to a few, it would alienate the many. So, I just have been choking down my recent grievances like rancid cough medicine, and hoping for the best.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” –Dr. Seuss

I have the feeling that cough medicine isn’t going to stay down by the end of this. Problem is, I really do feel those that may mind DO matter. They are people I care about. Not random strangers and I don't want to wound anyone's pride. I guess I'm going to take that chance and hope they understand that I'm not trying to paint anyone in a bad light.

A few weeks ago I had hit a slump. We all have nostalgic moments. Moments that we think about our own personal pasts, where we’ve been, where we are, and the paths that led us there. Nostalgia is human nature. An innate addressing of the id. A feel good moment that we scroll through our rolodex of grey matter to rely on. But some things have gone pretty disastrously wrong for me in the past. And my nostalgic moments often are at best, bitter sweet.

One night, during this "slump" of mine, a coworker passing through my department asked what was bothering me. And in that conversation he seemed to think that it was a good idea to bestow upon me his infinite wisdom that he has accumulated by the age of… at most he’s 19? 20?

“Have you stopped to think that maybe your problem is your attitude and lack of ambition?”

Really? Yes, I’m SURE that’s it! Lordy, Lordy, I have SEEN THE LIGHT! …Not only does this person not know anything about me, but telling ANYONE that all of their bad luck in life is because of their attitude, is kind of like telling a child “yes, mommy and daddy are getting a divorce because you have been naughty and they don't love you anymore,” or someone that’s been sexually molested that they must have done something wrong to deserve it.

I’m not saying that positive thinking doesn’t have its benefits. I'm saying it has its limits. I try to stay positive. But faith and prayers to the god of your choice is not going to grant you the winning lottery ticket. Positive thinking only goes so far. And I get it, that's where the ambition comes in. The fact that this person was judging me based on where I work and how far I had gotten in that career, my failed marriage, and other things, was irritating to say the least and just added to my negative mood. But the fact that others whom I have known for years and have trusted in the past doing this as well just because they didn't take the time to ask my side of the story? That hurts.

Today’s lesson.

“Normal people scare the living shit out of me. Because Normal people haven’t had enough problems in their life to know how to handle problems when they come up. Something little happens and they just SNAP.” -Christopher Titus.

Yesterday, I had another encounter with this same coworker. He came through the area I was working in, sighing dramatically while pulling the pallet jack behind him and asked me in a lethargic tone, “How are you?”

“I’m doing…” was my curt but polite response. (Hey, I didn't punch him in the nose, that counts as polite at this point.) I just did't seeing a point in sharing my thoughts with him judging by, what turned into a half an hour lecture on my attitude, last time. He waited for me to ask how he was in return, but I didn’t give in to his fishing. His dramatic body language and exasperated tone of voice told all, and I honestly didn't want to hear it after his past behavior. But after a moment or two he must have gone to the land of make-believe because he told me the answers to my unasked questions anyway.

“Yeah, me too.” He frowned. “I’m really annoyed with this place right now.”

Okay, so he was going to tell me all about it whether I asked or not, and I let him. I let him drone on and on about his “problems.” How on Sunday, he volunteered to work. How he didn’t HAVE to be there. How he showed up, ON TIME, despite the fact that he was EXTREMELY hung over. ….um okay, I’m trying to follow where his “problem” is yet. “That should count for SOMETHING,” he told me. ….no, not going out and drinking in the first place because you agreed to come in should count for something, but I gave him a sardonic smile as if saying, please go on. “So I got here, and I bust my ass in the freezer, to help with inventory. Even though I was in the bathroom throwing up for half an hour, I was still here busting my ass.” ….So you took an extra fifteen minutes for your PAID break to throw up because you were irresponsible and drank the night before? “And after I finished my work I was going to ask to go home. But I was talking to Victor before I went, and he told management that I was still drunk because I guess he could smell alcohol on my breath or something. So I got in trouble and management sent me home because he told them that.” ...Yup, I’m sure management just took Victor’s word for it without seeing if such a serious accusation was true or not themselves. You're lucky they didn't send you straight to get a urine test you little punk. “I don’t know what I did to piss him off. I don’t know why he would lie to management about me like that. I thought I could trust him.”

This is where I start laughing. I can’t play the whole, sympathetic ear bit anymore. “Yeah, that’s really interesting, because Victor is probably the ONLY person in this ENTIRE building that I DO trust to be completely fair and unbiased across the board. I’m sorry, but on the scale of problems, if I compare yours to mine, you just basically told me your toilet backed up. It is a problem that was avoidable, you caused yourself, and are now trying to blame others for. …Gee, sounds to ME, like maybe your problem is Lack of Ambition and Attitude.”

His face fell. “I have ambition. I’m going to school.”

Hello Mr. Wall, have you met my forehead lately?

Let me say, I support the notion of continuing education and it can be a GREAT indication of ambition. But I mostly equate it to the same idea of weight loss. Some people are naturally skinny. While others, well… They REALLY have to struggle and work on a diet and exercise routine. Being skinny naturally does not mean that you deserve the same pat on the back as others whom needed hard dedication and will power to be that way. The simple act of showing up to a class does not automatically deem one as "ambitious." I raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m just throwing your own words back to you, sweetie. Words you gave to me, without knowing the FIRST thing about my life.”

He did give a sheepish apology. “Yeah, I can be an ignorant ass sometimes, I own that.” But he then continued to rant about the powers of positive thinking, as if reading cheesy motivational posters off the high school guidance office wall until wanted to smack him. But given the surveillance cameras, I felt handing him his own ass to him verbally would be best. So I told him some of my experiences that supported my point.

My Bad luck, and hardships and, do I taste cough syrup?

(for those of you who know me well enough to know my experiences you need not read all this but instead scroll down to the "Skip to here section." Thanks)

I did not bestow all of the following on this poor lad, for fear that his tiny head may pop. But I let him have the gist of it. Just to get my point across. The rest is just stuff I've wanted the chance to defend myself on or explain to some for a while.

Let's start with my teen years, shall we? How about how as a teen I had to juggle raising my little brothers, going to school, participating in advanced choir, holding down a job, and babysitting as well. Were you thrown into motherhood at age 15 because your parents weren’t around much to raise your little siblings? I was a responsible kid. I wasn't the type that was having sex or go out to party and "accidentally" got pregnant. I should not have had to be a mother! ...But I did what was needed and made the most of it. And I can blame their car accident all I want, but only recently did I realize my mom was pawning my brothers off on me WAY before the accident.

Am I exaggerating? Let me put it this way; when my mom was supposed to take me to my college orientation, I had to arrange for my friend Victoria to come with so she could watch my brothers for me while I was doing the paperwork and meet and greets.

College was a fiasco. Shortly before I left for (ART) school I was told I would likely go completely blind by time I was forty. But HEY, the good new is it isn't a brain tumor like they were expecting. Yay? ...the better news is the diagnosis has since been rescinded, I'm no longer expected to go completely blind. Just, really bad vision. Anyway, due to this and a plethora of other extenuating circumstances at the time, I decided art school wasn't for me, and I came home.

When I started my adult life. I did have some help. ...But not from my family. My ex husband's family had taken me in, and I will be FOREVER grateful to them. They gave me a home, and a way for my husband and I to save up to start a life together. I had never known kinder people. In the meantime, my own family was shunning and lecturing me.

My husband and I never had much. We struggled every day to make ends meet. I often found myself working three jobs at once. And yet, I would still find a couple of dollars to float my parents, or cosign a loan for them and my brothers. Things they were NEVER able to do for us and likely wouldn't have even if they could. It's hard when the people who shunned you and sold you out come to you for help and you can't say no.

And my adult years wore on to my mid twenties and I was feeling like I was in my mid forties, and My mother was diagnosed with MS. Have you ever had to change one of YOUR parent’s diapers? Or bathe them? Or dress them? I have. Something I don’t wish on ANYONE at ANY age, but ESPECIALLY not by the age I was doing these things. But it's family. (No matter how they had treated me, or talked about me behind my back, or used me, or neglected me, or gone on "family" vacations without me in the past...)

My extended family is nuts. Essentially disowning me because I studied religious practices other than Christianity. (Something I mistakingly disclosed to my mother during one of our closer moments as I was counseling her through something very difficult.) And as a result, though my grandfather raised me for a portion of my youth, I wasn’t allowed to participate in his funeral. Despite before his passing he requested that I sing "our song" at the service. Losing my grandfather was hard enough. Being shunned at the same time? Harder. The hellish phone calls I endured from these people that I used to be close to in the last week of his life? Unbearable. Watching my husband be allowed to participate as a pallbearer but not be allowed myself, wounding. But my husband going to work both the day of the wake AND the funeral picking me up and dropping me off on the way too and from instead of supporting me? ...Absolute Torture.

(And this is where I start to get nervous that I'm going to offend someone. So let me add a disclaimer. I am not trying to or intend to paint my ex in ANY kind of negative light. We are still friends despite the fact that things did not work out between us.)

So moving on to my marriage. How I spent 9 years, working on a relationship that was becoming increasingly obvious that there was nothing I could do to save it by the 5 year mark? I’m sure it was my lack of ambition that kept me trying for that extra 4.

It was difficult to watch friends get houses and start raising families while my marriage was falling apart. And when the house my husband and I struggled to earn and waited for was built in the spot WE picked and given away to his cousin instead of us. ...Nope that didn't hurt at all. But it was just a house. Small beans compared to HALF of what was going on in our relationship. But this is where I draw a line and say you will just have to trust me when I tell you how very hard I was trying to save it.

But in the end the all the thanks I received for my trying to stick with the marriage through thick and thin was being wrongfully accused by family and friends of leaving my husband for another man when I did finally get the courage to do the right thing and bow out gracefully.

And I understand their confusion and the misunderstanding. And I will give this small confession. I was tempted. Two weeks before I was scheduled to move out, permanently leaving, an opportunity arose to be "unfaithful" with someone I admit I was attracted to. ...And of all the nights, for this to happen, this was a TRUE test as something occurred earlier that evening that will remain unmentioned here. But I resisted. Even with the earlier events that evening... I still couldn't go through with it. I couldn't, can't, and WON'T ever "cheat." What I consider the most disrespectful act one could ever commit against their partner. It would not have been fair to myself, my ex, or the third party whom will remain unnamed.

And I should say this as well. The third party involved in this was not aware that I had gone back to my husband after he and I separated the first time. He was not consciously out of bounds, and like a gentleman, apologized after I informed him that I was still married.

Divorce is confusing, and hard, but even harder when a loved one dies. My father in-law regrettably passed mid divorce. As I said, my ex husband's family has been more of a family to me than my own ever was. So, of course I was in attendance. Despite the awkward glances and occasional glares from friends of the family that didn't understand our unique relationship. And the luncheon was hosted by my former church. ...And it was at the end of the luncheon that I was confronted by someone who expressed their displeasure at my choice to leave, and then asked me (in a slightly offensive tone,) why I stopped wearing my wedding ring. I had held it together SOOO well up to that point... I calmly agreed that it was a sad circumstance for he and I to call it quits and pointed out that I was not the first to stop wearing the ring and that my husband had not worn his in near four years. I excused myself to a back room of the church (the same room in which I remembered getting dressed in my wedding gown ironically) to bawl my eyes out in private. …No one knew or needed to know at the time, that I had tried to suggest going home with my husband the night before and was turned away.

I'm not sure why people seem to think that I WANTED a divorce. That's dumb. No one ever WANTS a divorce. That's like saying you WANT a spinal tap. They happen. Sometimes they just HAPPEN. And it wasn't easy. Okay, in one way, it was. It was very civil and friendly. We didn't fight over anything. And we're still good friends. The hard part came in with the side factors. Like, starving for the first 5 months of separation. Begging my parents that if they were going to get me ANYTHING for Christmas at all, to PLEASE let it be just a ten dollar gift card for groceries. What I got was a porcelain penguin music box figurine that played a horribly tinny rendition of “Joy to the World.” … ... ...It was delicious.

My dog, due to separation anxiety from my leaving, killed 20 chickens and my cat (long story) costing me 500 dollars and losing me the dog. (Seeing as I was starving at the time you would figure they would have at least let me have the damn chickens.)

And even after ALL I had done for my family in the past, I still got nothing but lectures about how wrong it is for me to be moving on with my life, and how all my bad luck (Like my dog acting out and my starving) was, “God trying to tell me what I’m doing is wrong.”

After TWO years of my ex and I being separated they STILL couldn’t let it go, to the point that I just can’t speak with ANY of them anymore (including the two not-so-little-anymore boys that I helped raise), apart from maybe once every 6 months or so, if absolutely necessary. My phone conversation last week with my mother warning her she will lose her state assistance if the bill passes, will hopefully count and get me another 6 months of peace.

I’ve tried going back to school. I pass the entrance exams, but can’t afford the tuition. (yes, I've done my research.)

I tried joining the Navy. I weigh too much and have strange physical proportions to pass the body fat requirements for entrance. I may still make it if I diet, but I will look sickly by time I would qualify.



Look, plain and simple? I’m tired, people.




I’ve always tried to do the right thing. Concerning my marriage, my friends, my ethics, my respect of others…. I’ve never shown up to work drunk. Hell, I’ve never even had a speeding ticket. I take responsibility for my life, and the mistakes I have made, but blaming me for things beyond my control or wrongfully accusing me of crimes I never committed is starting to REALLY grate on me.

Grabbing a Plunger Addressing the Issues.

I have a fervent understanding there are others out there MUCH worse off than I. I do not feel that my problems are the end of the world. But complain to me about how much your life sucks just because you were stupid enough to get drunk and come to work while lecturing me? And I'll take your head off. Don't complain to me that your toilet backed up. Deal with it and move on.

As for me...

In addressing Love, (since I covered a great deal of it in this.) To those that would accuse me of being someone who would cheat? Come and get the full story before making that assumption. To those of you who think I just play around with love and don’t know what dedication or real love is, watch THIS. There is no better way of expressing my opinion of love.

I am not a cynic. I still believe in love. I have been in love with several people in my life. Some of whom I have told I loved them. Some of whom, I never got the chance or the courage to. Which is unfortunate.

In addressing attitude and ambition... To those that think I’ve accomplished nothing with my life just because I currently sling crates of apples for a living and didn't finish school? SHUT UP.

Just because I don't have the money to go back to school doesn't mean I'm stupid. In the meantime until I have money, I study language, art, philosophy, literature, science, and math independently. THAT'S "ambition." And next time you need to buy produce, just be happy that there is someone intelligent working hard helping to bring food to your table, instead of condescending to hard working individuals like myself. Assumptions do not become anyone.

But I won't lie. It's hard to keep doing the "right" thing when so many wrongfully accuse or prejudge you based on information they have failed to fully understand. But at least, despite what others may judge me for, I know that I have lived a good life that is honorable and honest.

"I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating." -Sophocles.

…but this is long now. (Told you I had a lot to get off my chest, and I STILL didn’t spill all.) Hopefully some friendships will remain in tact afterwards. I tried to be delicate with some of this information. Bah, who am I kidding, nobody even read this far anyway. It's too long. :P

But for those of you that DID make it; as a cool down I leave you with some levity from Weird Al.