Sunday, June 26, 2011

help wanted

I have such an inflated sense of my work ethic that every time I see a Help Wanted sign, I think the establishment wants me. They don't want help, they want Holly. The sign makes me consider quitting my job so I can go work at Runza/Scooters/Bag N Save and revolutionize their company. With me as their employee, they will become a Fortune 500 company virtually overnight.

Drive-thru? I could kill it on the headset. I could get serving times down to 12 seconds, as long as the customers have their hands out the car window with their credit cards ready.

Coffee shop? I will create six new drinks which will get everyone to come from Starbucks over to our place. And only our alcoholic customers will recognize the secret ingredient in my drinks is Kahlua.

Grocery store? I'll sell alcohol without carding anyone.

Everytime I see one of those yellow signs, I want to grab it, slap it onto the counter and say, "I hear you loud and clear. Where's my apron?" For some reason, this feeling only strikes me with the signs. Newspaper ads, online job postings, they do nothing for me. Something about the desperation of the sign lures me.

Or maybe it's because receptionist and data entry jobs never have signs. I don't want to be anyone's bitch, I want to run the show. I want to show everyone what they're missing. I quickly tire of not being recognized.

While putting up the Help Wanted sign, I can imagine the owner dreaming of an employee like me to come in with a perfectly spelled résumé. No business owner dreams of a person in dirty jeans coming in and asking for an application and a pen while stealing a pack of gum. But until I can be cloned, they will have to do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

same postal code

Tonight, I was asked if I am happy.

"For the most part," I answered.

"That means 'no'," he replied,
"Life is black or white."

"No," I argued,
"Life is shades of gray."

But even as I said it,
I thought, what if he is right?
What if everything can be reduced
down to a "yes" or "no" answer
and all of this reasoning
in the grays
is simply a waste of time?

If that's the case,
I guess he's right:
I'm not happy.

So I hold onto my belief
of gray areas -
I want to believe I am happy
or at least
that I'm in the vicinity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

splitting assets

I need encouragement. I'm taking a stab at writing a book, after talking about it for years and years. Read a page and give me some feedback. Any feedback. I have to start somewhere.

I lifted my downcast eyes and snuck a look at my husband, soon to be ex-husband. He was watching our two lawyers discuss splitting assets with interest. He was dressed in a gray blazer, he sat erect; his eyes danced with amusement.

He looked more alive and vibrant. I wondered if he had a new girl; if this new energy was the result of a new fling. Or, was it that at last being himself, rather than my husband and all that entailed, was responsible for this change in him? Perhaps being through with my endless requests for more affection had freed him.

I tried to imagine his day-to-day, but could picture nothing past his commute. I knew nothing of him anymore. He hadn't stooped to my level of having juicy date gossip filter through our mutual friends, hoping it would end up in a conversation he was included in.

All of a sudden, I felt as if I was the one being divorced, rather than the initiator. To realize he didn't need me after all those "I can't live without you"s caught in my throat and I instinctively reached for the pitcher of water. The clinking of the glass caught Aaron's attention and he looked at me.

I held his gaze, and he smiled at me. Not a smirk or a sympathy smile, but that grin that would erase everyone else in a room full of people. I gulped down my loneliness, reminding myself to contemplate it later.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

old songs and poems

Once upon a time, I lived alone; I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself. My friend and I went shopping at Furniture Row where I opened up a credit card and bought dark wood furniture for all three of my rooms. It took six weeks for the furniture to come in, so until then, I slept on the floor. All I had brought with me from Washington to Nebraska was what would fit in my Saturn: books and clothes and a box of memories.

I had a tv, but no cable or bunny ears. I spent my time at work, and then came home, read my books, listened to music, and wrote. I cleaned the place frequently. It was small, and soon full of furniture, but it was my cozy little nook. The fridge was full of Mug root beer, bagels, and smoked turkey; the cupboards of pasta and Swiss cake rolls. It was meager living, but I was myself.

And now, I am still me, but I don't always feel myself. I have a job that stresses me out, at times so much that I forget who I am. I am too conscientious now of money and how much things cost and that I'm not making enough or saving enough. At home, I work out, as to not gain as much weight as I'm consuming. Then I watch tv because it's there and so am I and I don't want to put the effort it takes into doing anything else.

There are things to do: cleaning is now a daylong project, not a fifteen minute chore. There are events I feel guilted into attending, even though I don't want to. Even those things that are supposed to be fun, like a happy hour with the girls from work, sometimes feels exhausting because I just want to be at home by myself, with my iPod and a puzzle. I want to feel myself again.

Sometimes I feel completely myself for a moment, when I'm reading a book of poetry or listening to an older country song, but it's the exception now. I feel like I'm constantly being poked and proded into a responsible adult. That's not who I am. I am that person who doesn't consider money and overdrafts her account. I'm that person that will spend three hours on a walk because I have no agenda. I was that person who drove an old beater car because it meant something to her.

I am losing myself in an endless cycle of alarm clocks, DVR recordings, and monthly budgets. I have become the responsible adult. But I long to feel myself - the girl who did what she wanted when she wanted and always felt at peace. Sure, it isn't responsible or respectable at my age, but it was familiar territory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

carnie guesses

There are things I can turn down: saunas, gym memberships, mani/pedis and chocolate chip bacon cookies are in this category.

Then there are things that I can't turn down: a trip to the bookstore, a nap, reality tv, and premium coffee are in this category. Premium coffee is a real vice of mine. In my personal expense column of our budget, nearly every line reads, "Starbucks" or "Scooters."

So when driving back from a seminar, my co-worker suggested we stop at Starbucks, I swerved my car across three lanes of traffic and into a parking space so fast it compelled her to ask, "does Steve usually drive?"

Inside, the lonely barista was so excited to see some young women, he made up some carnie schtick, claiming he could guess our drink of choice by looking at us. He completely butchered my co-worker's, but she ordered it anyway, probably to boost his self-esteem. He was, after all, a carnie in his past life, and she still has compassion for much of mankind.

When it came my turn, I let him get a good look at me to size me up. "Look me in the eyes," he said, "it's all in the eyes." How many seconds until a gaze becomes an eyeful? Because wherever that line is, he came dangerously close to it. Of course, he butchered my drink of choice as well, although I am hard to guess because my drink is no longer listed on the menu (I'm mysterious and elusive like that).

We left with our drinks in hand, and with the disturbing sense that a lonely barista just made up a hell of a line to ogle us. "Turn around, I need to see your ass to decide whether or not you want whip cream," I joked. But was it a joke? Or did a carnie just outsmart two businesswomen from a seminar? God damn it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I've come to hate small talk.

It means two people have nothing to talk about. But to mask that, they have pointless chatter, most commonly about the weather, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's other observations. I hate small observation talk. Most commonly, it's something like, "you got a haircut." What are you supposed to say to that? "Why yes, I did. Thanks for noticing"?

For me, it's sunburns. People are always commenting to me how I got a little sun over the weekend. I never know what they expect me to say in return. "Why yes, I have very pale skin. If I get the mail, I have to use aloe vera for a week." Or, "no shit - I went outside."

Or do they want me to comment on some observation I have about them? How about I say, "you look tired - did you have to sleep on the couch again last night?" If I commented on every observation I had, everyone would be offended. But somehow, other people do, and no one gets upset at them.

No one, that is, except me. It's pointless. I hate that which doesn't serve a purpose. Keep your observations to yourself, unless there is some point to verbalize it. Like, "you're on fire," would be helpful, whereas, "your Skittles are all different colors," is not helpful, just infuriating.

Now I'll go rub some aloe vera on my arms - I just got the mail. My celebrity magazine came today, so I'll read that while my skin starts to peel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my new car smells

It finally happened.

I got a new car.

After seven years of driving a salvaged car without air conditioning, you would think I would be ecstatic the day I traded the bucket of bolts in for a newer model.

But I wasn't.

I cried.

I fucking cried! Full out red eyes, red nose, sniffles.

The salesman came back from negotiating with the broker and saw me crying. He asked what was wrong while I sniffled into a kleenex. Steve said, "she's very attached to her car."

I thought about all the hours I worked and all the money I saved to buy it. I thought about how I've had that car longer than I've been married. That car knew me when I was in college, when I was pregnant, it moved halfway across the country with me. I think it even knew me when I was still a virgin.

I took it to the mechanic and fixed up what I could and it was faithful to me. I always thought I would drive her until she sputtered to a stop for good. But we didn't even make it to the end together. I felt like I was betraying an old friend. No amount of money they offered me for a trade in would accurately portray that car's value.

I told Steve I wanted to not trade it in, but sell it myself so I can meet the new owner. I told him it was as special to me as a pet and I didn't want her sitting in an impersonal lot, getting sunburned and mocked, parked amongst the new models. But after a few more kleenex, I swallowed that lump in my throat and signed the papers.

But the lump resurfaced.

Even now, I feel guilty, having a new car when nothing not everything was wrong with my old one.

People say I deserve a new car. But sometimes you don't deserve what you get.

Sometimes contentment is more valuable than determination.