Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm back!

That’s right. I’m back. I’m making my triumphant return. And I don’t just mean to the blogosphere – although I have missed that and am glad to be returning here. I’m back to dealing with life with a smile on my face. I’m back to being, well, happy…or at the very worst, not-depressed. And let me tell you, it feels fantastic.

After way too long, I finally am feeling like myself again. I am away from being the person who saw life for its downs and I’m back to being the person who sees through downs. Am I 100% happy? Hell no. But nobody is. But I’m back…I’m back to being me. I’m back to feeling like myself again. I’m back to a point where I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I’m looking at. (Speaking of looking into a mirror, as of Monday night, I’m back to being clean-shaven. I had a couple weeks where I didn’t shave because I was so depressed, and then as I slowly got out of my depression, I groomed my facial hair to the point where I am right now – completely clean…okay – a little stubble…but I grow hair like the Jew that I am.)

I’m to the point where I can get out of bed every morning. I’m in a place where I want to get out of bed every morning. But most importantly, I’m comfortable alone again. I’m back to valuing the time I have alone. I miss people, and I like having people around, but I don’t need people right now.

Y’see, that’s what kept me depressed. I was in a spiral. I was down, and for the first time in my life, I needed other people to help me be happy, and the fact that I couldn’t do it alone any more made me feel down…which made me need someone which made me…yeah…you get the point.

So for the summer, this blog will be updated, as before, every Thursday and Monday. And it will be back to being good things – or at least things that aren’t cries for help anymore. I’m done with that…or at least that’s the promise I’m making to myself and my readers. (Both of you.)

Until this turmoil in my life, I’ve never been accused of acting my age. People always see me as older than my number. And I hated acting my age. Hopefully, I’ll go back to being more put together than my number may indicate. I’m back on track.

I owe a lot of apologies over the way I’ve acted the last few months. And while people say, “it’s okay; we understand; there’s nothing wrong with what you did,” it’s really myself I’m apologizing to, I guess…

Anyway --

Thank you all, because the fact that there have been people reading this blog has helped me. Knowing I’m not alone in the world, as lonely as I may have been, was sometimes enough to get me up in the morning. It didn’t keep me up all day, but it did the trick. (That, and an un-named 2-inch stuffed dog, who now lives in my right pocket out of habit and not necessity.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Open Letter to My Readers

Dear Blog Readers –

I’m leaving NYC in a couple days. And as a result, I’m checking myself into what I’m going to call “personal rehab.” No, it’s not actually a clinic. It’s me, alone, under the stars, on the beach, and in the beautiful Cape Cod air, relaxing.

Why am I telling you, my lovely blog readers, this? How does this matter to you? Because those of you so devoted to my writing – all six of you – will need to wait a bit. I’ve decided that I’m taking no less than a week off. (So the next time you read something new will be next Thursday at the earliest.)

In this week of “personal rehabilitation,” I will be doing a lot of thinking, a lot of walking, perhaps getting on a bike again, maybe swimming, and probably writing. But I think I need to be comfortable with myself again before I can share my writing. (I may share some of the writing I do over the next week, but it will not be until after my hiatus.)

When I say ‘comfortable with myself,’ I don’t mean comfortable being alone. I’m quite comfortable with that. I mean be able to look at myself in the mirror again and be happy with who I’m looking at. I mean, being able to think about things and not constantly question. I basically mean be able to be comfortable enough with myself that I can be around other people and not be lonely.

I’m also deleting my facebook account – if only temporarily – starting, oh, less than 48 hours from now. I’m too busy looking at the past, and I’m not comfortable enough with myself to handle the past right now. I need to reconcile the present, accept the past, and look to the future.

In the last month, this blog has been therapeutic to me, and having people reading it has made me feel more comfortable in my loneliness. So thank you, everyone. I hope you check back soon (subscribe by email, perhaps? RSS feed?) to read what I have to say again.

I can promise a summer of great stories and philosophies and thoughts and, unlike most everything written here thus far, joy. It’s hard not to be happy when you’re teaching 6-year-olds how to shoot bows and arrows. (I still remember the excitement I had the first time I hit the target. And I relive it every time I help someone else hit the target for the first time.)

So yes. This is my vacation announcement. I look forward to sharing my summer – and beyond – with the blogosphere. (Wow…Microsoft Word has that in spell-check. That surprises me…)

Thank you. I look forward to having you hear from me in no fewer than seven days.


Monday, May 14, 2007

The key is how you fix them...

“Everyone makes mistakes. The key is how you fix them.”

These were among the first words of wisdom my first manager at Unos told me. It was my first night as a host, and someone ordered a Crispy Chicken Salad, and I gave him the salad and left the chicken on the kitchen window. As soon as I realized my mistake, I ran outside to see the car drive away. I then called Mark, the manager, and told him that someone was about to call and say they got a chicken salad with no chicken.

Mark responded by saying, “Well, when he calls, you’re the manager.” “What?” “Well, everyone makes mistakes. Let’s see how you fix this one!”

Turns out it was a test. I passed, for those of you wondering. I took down the customer’s address and had Mark write him out a coupon for a free entrée or entrée salad and send it to him. I actually saw the customer the next week, so I know that it was a successful fix.

But here’s what I love about Mark: Mark’s advice to me wasn’t just about the restaurant industry, it was about life. (Yes, I used his words of wisdom – not just these, but others, too – when it came to my future restaurant jobs making me someone managers loved to work with, but it was about everything.) Mark was going through a divorce as I was going through a breakup, and Mark and I would sit in the office after I was punched out and just talk.

“I’m telling you my life story for one reason,” he said to me on my last night of actually working for him. “I’ve gone through life watching the mistakes people have made before me and tried to avoid making them. I want you to see my mistakes – and I’ve made a lot – and try not to make some of them.”

Well, Mark, I’m here, right now, three years later (almost to the day), saying that I goofed. I made a mistake. I’ve made quite a few. And worse than that, I’ve let them get to me. They’ve gotten the better of me, and you’d be the first to look at me and say: ‘you’re better than this.’

And I am. So here I am, doing the first step: admitting that I’ve made mistakes. Quite a few. And here I am, also saying that I’m going to fix these mistakes. Because like you told me three years ago, everyone makes mistakes. It’s just time for me to fix these.

What you didn’t tell me is that some mistakes can’t be fixed. You forgot to warn me that when mistakes happen with other people, they need to let you fix it. You didn’t tell me how I can fix a mistake that someone doesn’t want fixed. You never told me that some mistakes can’t be fixed and I have to only do the best I can do for me.

Thankfully, I realize that now. And I realize that I’ve made some mistakes that someone isn’t letting me fix. So I’ll fix the ones I can fix. I’ll fix how I deal with it. I’ll fix how I respond to it. Because what you were really telling me isn’t that mistakes happen, fix them, you were telling me that bad stuff happens to everyone and it’s all about reacting to it positively. And I was too busy trying to fix my mistakes while other stuff was happening.

No more. I’m taking the advice Mark gave me, not the words you said, and I’m going to react differently. I’m moving on. I’m taking the consequences of what I’ve done, and I’m going to try my hardest not to do it again. Life is a game of actions and reactions. I’m going to take control of my reactions, finally.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tears -- a poem of sorts, that may be deleted soon

The tears stream down my face.
I'm thinking of you. I shouldn't be, but I am.
I've always liked to make my life hard,
and now,
it's no different.

When life crumbles around me,
what do I do?
I could think of happy thought --
an end in sight
a new beginning around the corner
everything good in life
But instead,
I think of you
and cry
and cry
and cry

I was never supposed to love you.
We were wrong for each other
In every way
And we knew it, before we were ever we.
We were wrong
In every way
Except one.

We made each other happy.
And also
We loved each other.

The problem is
I still love you
I shouldn't
But I do
I can't
But I do
You won't love me back,
Never, you say
No matter what the world has in store, you won't love me again
But I do
I still love you
And I still think about you
And I still care about you
No matter how much you hurt me
and again
and again
and again
and again
and i could go on
because every time i give you the chance
you hurt me more
and you insist on stepping on my heart
and you insist that while all i want is you to care
you never will

I've never been good at letting myself be comfortable
or happy
I think of you,
And cry
and cry
and cry.


Let's pretend this post doesn't exist, okay? Monday will bring a new one -- a happier one -- one about the good things i've learned in life. About the lessons I've been taught. About what keeps me going, even when all I do is sit alone, awake, at 4 in the morning, crying.

I should have been asleep hours ago.
(And over her weeks ago.)

The funny thing: It should be ME telling HER to get out of MY life. She's never given me anything -- even that.

I hate that I let a girl get to me. Or anyone. But I guess I'm human -- even if she doesn't treat me as such.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Look

I just want to thank everyone for the kind words with the last post.

Unfortunately, there will be no real blog entry today. Basically, with all the stress going on in my life, I haven't had anything I can express in words. Added to my stress was a call this afternoon that my grandfather was rushed to the hospital this morning in cardiac distress and was, at the time of the call, having a pacemaker put in. So now in addition to stress of life and depression, I have guilt that I won't be home until the 21st.

I'm looking for the right words of wisdom that I've gotten in order to end this entry, but there are no words. Just looks. The look Bill Kirchner gave me Tuesday night after a new piece of my was read by a big band. He knew I wasn't sure about it, and he just looked at me, smiled, nodded, and said, "Ya did fine."

Time for me to go get lunch and hope that someone gives me that look.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What makes you happy?

I’ve been sitting here, starring at a blank screen for nearly an hour. I decided to take a break from writing a paper and write a blog entry. Truth is, I’m having equal amounts of success getting words on the page.

It’s one of those weeks where nothing I do works. It’s one of those weeks where I can’t remember how to get anything done and can’t remember what keeps me going. It’s one of those weeks I wish I could fast-forward through and get to the good parts of life again. (Or rewind so I can figure out how to avoid these parts of life.)

The worst part, for the first time, I feel like I cannot help myself. I need help. And honestly, I’ll take whatever help I can get. I walk into the convenient store, and the clerk knows I’m having problems. He gave me chocolate this week – much like he did on Valentine’s Day when he asked me if I had a valentine and I told him ‘no’. Only this time, it was just a, ‘Here – you could use this.’ I thanked him and walked home – only after going around the block a couple times.

I’m at a point right now where I’ll take any advice I get – and I’m getting a lot of it. Too bad most of it doesn’t help. Nothing anyone says can make me happy. Nothing anyone else can say can bring me back to a place where I need to be to feel good about myself. I need to do it myself. Someone can help and show me the general direction of where the ladder to get out of the hole is, but nobody can pull me up the ladder.

So I pose this question: What makes you happy?

I used to know quite easily what made me happy: Muppets, toy cars, my music, New York City, French Movies…I had a pretty in depth list. I always knew when I was feeling down what to do, where to go, who to be with, in order to get out of it as quickly as possible.

I’m to the point now, that I’m only managing. I’m getting out of bed every morning, and that’s all I can ask at times, but I only make it through the day because of something mildly embarrassing: A 2-inch stuffed dog in my right pocket. By looking, you wouldn’t know it’s there, seeing as that’s normally where I keep my Palm Pilot and the pocket is usually not empty, anyway. Any time the world starts to get overwhelming, I reach my hand into my pocket and start petting this dog, and then things feel a little better…at least better enough that I don’t need to run away from whatever situation I’m in.

Funny – I don’t tell people this, except for the few that know exactly what I’m going through, but I have no problem posting this on my blog, and then publicizing the fact that this entry exists…go figure. But I digress.

So what about this dog makes me able to make it through the day? What about this dog makes me happy?

It has nothing to do with the dog. It is irrelevant that it’s soft and quite cute. It has everything to do with what this 2-inch stuffed animal represents: Innocence. It reminds me of a time when I had not a care in the world. When life was good just to sit, watch movies, sing, and play with toy cars and hug stuffed animals. For some reason, only the stuffed animal is left to make me happy.

Perhaps it’s that it’s the only thing I can really enjoy to such a large extent in a large group in public, or, say, in the middle of class. I can’t start singing in the middle of class, and I don’t sing to my heart’s desire when I’m in such proximity with people (so any time in the dorm…) who may hear me. I’m not ashamed of my voice, I’d just rather belt my lungs out while in a car driving at 65-miles-an-hour and the windows up, or in my house at my piano with nobody else home. Or even in the shower, when nobody else is home. But I’m always afraid to sing when others are around. I mean, I’m not a singer, and people, for some reason, find it important to remind me of this any time I seem to forget and act otherwise.

I can’t watch a movie in class, and at home, I haven’t found the movie to make me happy. I just bought (and have now watched twice) “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, and I’m loving it. It is a French movie entirely sung with music by Michel Legrand, whom I discovered in some of his work with such jazz greats as Stan Getz and Bill Evans, but this movie is fantastic. It’s a real tear-jerker, and it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing movies I’ve ever seen. But it still makes me cry, if only because it’s supposed to.

Toy cars, I just don’t have the space to play with them. And I haven’t found one of quality high enough for me to enjoy as a 21-year-old or fun enough to play with as the 8-and-a-half year-old I want to be. So I’m stuck without that.

But this dog, this 2-inch ball of cotton and other synthetics, it makes me happy. With how much I’m relying on him, I may ware out the patch of fuzz on his head quite quickly, but that’s okay. The way I see it, he gets me through the day. And while it’s pathetic that a stuffed dog is getting me through the day, I have SOMETHING to get me through the day.

I can’t do this alone. And as much as people are helping me, it’s the wrong people. I’ll always take the help, but their help has not actually helped. It’s made me feel like people are there, and they are, but they aren’t doing anything. I don’t know if anyone can really help, but I wish someone did.

For now, I have a dog. That’s what makes me happy. (Now if only I could come up with a name for him…)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Short Fiction: Late-Night Hike

It’s hard to come up with something new to write twice a week without repeating myself. So this blog will become a place to share things with you, beyond just my thoughts and dreams. (Poetry, a la “When a Woman Loves a Man,” short fiction I like, original fiction…) Tonight, I’m going to share a piece of short fiction I wrote a few years ago. I promise there will be a ‘real’ post come Monday. There will be a lot that I will have been through to work with…


Hitchhiking is nice. But on a night like tonight, walking is nicer. I don’t know where I am, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m here; I’m on earth; I’m alive; I’m human and have the cognitive abilities to enjoy every minute that I’m here. It’s one of those nights that, even at 2:47 in the morning with nobody around, I don’t feel alone. I feel like the entire world is with me, working in harmony.

A car passes by every long while – maybe every forty minutes. I guess New Mexico Route 109 isn’t as busy as I was told – or at least it hasn’t been tonight. Maybe everyone else it out enjoying the night, too. The air is warm and dry with a light breeze coming at my face. It’s warm enough for short sleeves, yet cold enough for pants. Khakis and a t-shirt sound perfect to me. With every gust of wind, the smell of cactus rose is in the air. I used to confuse it for lilac, my girlfriend’s favorite flower, but I’ve since found out that I was wrong. The smell is more evident every time the wind blows.

The breeze hushes quietly – not even close to loud enough to cover the steady crickets’ chirp. If I’d remembered the formula to find out the temperature, I’d try. I think I have it wrong, though, because by my count, it’s 108 degrees. It feels more like 68. The chirps don’t stop, regardless of temperature, and they seem almost in perfect harmony with each other and with the wind. I do my best to walk rhythmically, complimenting the natural music with the quiet brush of my flip-flops against the sand.

It’s too soothing to open my eyes, but too beautiful not to. The air is clear and the sky is bright. The moon is a small sliver; it was a new moon over the weekend. The stars illuminate the sky and remind me of freckles in the summertime: they’re everywhere. The light creates silhouettes of the mountains miles away. They must be hundreds of miles away. The land here seems flat. I can see the highway go on for miles. It takes nearly fifteen minutes before the red taillights of passing cars become indistinguishable from the landscape.

It’s the kind of night that makes me happy to be a hiker with no place to go. I hope I like the destination half as much as I love the journey.