Thursday, June 23, 2016

The whole truth on this one subject

Once upon a blog, I wrote a post about/to someone.
In hindsight, it was a shitty thing to do.  I used a public forum to say something to someone that even then, I knew I didn't mean it.

This week's contemplation:  Let's be honest; with ourselves - starting and finishing with ME.
(As Jennifer said, you do you. I'm not judging anyone else.)*

I'm not bringing this up to rehash a bad thing I did, or to get people to read old posts,
I'm writing about it because there have been some recent developments that I am hopeful about and I want to write about it.

In a nutshell, back then I wrote a good bye forever post to my best friend.
I thought I was closing that chapter with that post. I thought 'Get it out of my system and move on! Life is great! You don't need her!'

It didn't take long for me to realize that I do need her. I wasn't going to be able to "move on". Life isn't always great.  One thing I also didn't realize was that in cutting her out, I was cutting out her family, who I adored. Truly, I actually keened at her father's wake. I loved him almost as much as I loved my own Dad. Her family is huge, and loving and fun and kind and fabulous.  They were my family, too.

The first year, I still harbored bad feelings, and didn't think much about her at all.
The second year, I started having dreams about her all the time.  Some were she was in trouble, and I had to rescue her, some were the reverse.  Some were we were friends again like nothing had ever happened, other were me begging her to be my friend again and her saying No.  I will honestly state that these dreams are still going on, most recently last night. It's been four years of at least three dreams about her a week.

So clearly, I started having regrets.  She had blocked me on Facebook, and her family had unfriended me. I was cut off. I knew nothing of her life, or very little - what I could get out of mutual friends, which wasn't much.

Flash forward to about a month ago.

The Girl Scout troop that we had met in was having it's final GS Saturday at the church where we attended meetings.  There was a secret group page inviting all of us alums to attend to surprise the leader.  My first thought - "Maybe SHE will be there!"  I checked the RSVPs on the page, and sure enough - there were 15 Yes RSVPs, of which I could only see 14 of.
In the It'sASmallWorld life of mine, two of my nieces are in that troop, and my sister is a volunteer with them. I asked her to check the rsvps - and sure enough - L was going!
I was super excited. I immediately began writing her a letter. I followed the lead of John Mayer - Say what you need to say. It's true, this could be my last chance.  So if I could get her to take and read the whole letter, she'll at least know how I feel!

Then, I checked my schedule. Sigh. Of course, I cannot attend the event.  I had previously scheduled myself for a show at Old Town, and we have many new rules for head volunteering, a few of which I'd be breaking if I canceled on this show.

A few days later, I was randomly grocery shopping on a Monday night - something I never ever do. I get my cart and start my way into the produce section, and immediately spot L's cousin, A. I basically run to her, tears all in my eyes. Big hugs.  Long conversation. A is 10 years younger than me, so I had been in her life for as long as should could remember, until the last five years.  A filled me in on her life, her sister's life, the cousins lives, and a bit of L's life.  I told her the truth - how much I missed L, how much I feel like there is a chunk of me missing. Tears again.  I told her about the letter. A said "Oh, we are going to get her that letter." We exchanged phone #s.  A told me I had always been part of the family to her also, and she had missed me.

So- I called my sister - "Would you be comfortable giving a letter to L for me at the GS thing?" "Sure"
Dropped the letter off (all eight pages of it) the day before the event.  Worried on it over night.
Sister calls the next day. L didn't make it to the even either.
I got the letter back the next day. I texted A and asked her to get me an address for L.

I sat on things for a few days.  Reminded myself, if I don't send this now, I may never have another chance, or the nerve, or whatever.  I sent it via FedEx.  I figured I'd find some comfort in knowing that she got it, at least, even if I never heard from her. I let A know that the letter was sent, in case she got some sort of flack. I was so worried that L wouldn't read it.  If she disliked, even hated, me as much as I thought she did when we parted ways, it was possible that she was better off without me, and didn't want to re-connect.  She may just tear it up.

I got a notice on Monday that the letter was delivered.  Not three hours later, I got a very very long text from L.  Tears again.

It sounds like she's been missing me as much as I've been missing her. She's very very busy, with her job, three kids, house, boyfriend etc, but we are working on finding time to speak.  We were planning on an initial phone call, but she realized that it would be an at least 2 hour call, so now we are looking to plan a lunch or dinner.   She's accepted my written apologies, and has asked for my forgiveness as well.  There's nothing to forgive.  I'm learning. I'm learning that what's past is past, and it does no good to dredge it up, wallow in it.  I have a million things I regret from my past.  All I keep coming back to is the past five years, and how the best of my oldest jokes are not understood, much less appreciated.  When something major happens, I want to tell her first. I want her to know all of the things.  I want her to know Erica and Robert my newest niece and nephew, who didn't even exist when we parted ways.  I want to know her two youngest, who don't know that I exist.

I want it back. All of it, even the bad.  I don't think we'll never ever bicker or fight. I don't think it's smooth sailing from here to forever.  I do think that somethings matter way more than others.  That I will do everything I can to build a NEW better grown up friendship based on all of the best parts of our previous 20 years.
Because she is my memory. She is the other half of my brain. She is my conscious and my calming inner voice.  She is my co-chef when making lasagna, she is the only person I can make a perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies with. She is my friend. She is my family.

I was lucky when the very same GS leader previously mentioned told L "Don't go by Vonnie. Don't be friends with her, she's trouble." L ignored her, and walked right up to me and said hi. I was too young to know then, but I sure know now, you don't let that kind of friend go. Ever.

*Maybe a trend in the renewal of this blog? A kinder, gentler Vonnie? I hope so. I'm trying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And on the flip side of that -

People should really stop comparing themselves to ME too.
Oh, hey, hi there. Thank you all for coming back.
Still working day to day on this week's thing - Quit comparing myself to other people. Though not a life changer just yet, there are some definite changes for the better.

Anyway - today's post is same topic, but reversed.

I think I've said this before, likely more than once, but I'm like one of those movies - you know the ones - either you love it or you hate it at first viewing, and there is no grey area. No 'Well...'
No second viewing, no second chance.  I know this to be true about me. Not so much with my very close friends, but with the public and/or new people.
You see, I'm kinda an unrepentant Bitch.  Who pretty much gives no fucks what people think of me.

Now, I do NOT toot my horn of IAmSoAwesome, NO.
This can be a very bad thing.  This is often a weight thing, with strangers. "Am I as big as she is?"
Not a fun comparison.
"Am I as blonde as she is?" Not likely, I pay a lot of money for this hair. I pay more for it to be unique to me.

Am I as, am I as, am I as....I could go on and on.

I'm relatively new to my current job (long horrible story, but trust me, never ever order from GrubHub - you'll be putting money in the pockets of a man who likes to fire people for no reason, say "Because I can" with a smile on his face. anyway)
My new job is a growing company, and many have started after me.  I've only been here just under six months.  My focus is on me, get my shit done, get it done perfectly, become an asset to my boss, and his boss. Other than that, I'm good.
Not too long after me, came a gaggle of new women.  Now, we were four or five women when I started.  We are now at least double that.
And they want to be as funny as I am.  They compare their wit and quickness with mine.  And, they fail.  I'm sorry, ladies, I have been doing this Humor is my Armor thing for too long to be unseated so quickly.  Especially when a perfectly crafted and timed joke comes out of my mouth, like poop out of a stately Clydesdale, and they follow along. They should be sweeping up, just appreciate it ladies! You're welcome, but no, they try to get their little clean up ponies to poop as well, and it's just NO.

I admit, and you already know, I have this weird self confidence.  It's too much, to some people. It's not allowed, to others.  It's just how I am.

A few years ago, I became much closer to a couple of my friends from Old Town.  We started a (still ongoing) IM chat that we rely on every day for cute animal pics and videos, hot British guy pics, advice, virtual shoulders to cry on, etc.  For a while, we started meeting for dinner before our Thursday night classes. More out of common schedules and the need for food than anything more formal.
One night, we were walking the very short distance from dinner place to school place. A girl (I'm sorry, she's probably 30, but to me, she's a girl) that the other two  know, and I barely tolerated from my class was following behind us.  Whatever the topic had been at dinner had carried over, and we were laughing about it as we went.  I said good bye to my pals, and went to wait for class. The girl walked up to me and said, "You guys are so, I don't know. You're just so - COOL."  Oh, trust me, the emphasis was there. Us? Cool? Yes, my friends are cool, they are super cool. Me? No, I'm just lucky enough to get to hang with them from time to time. Ah ha. She was comparing herself to me! And my two friends! Bad idea, sister.

See, what she didn't know, and what the girls at work don't know, and what strangers and best friends and all of the people don't know, is that I am not worth it.  Don't get me wrong, this is no cry for help, or comments, or compliments.  It's just the truth.  I'm just me, and I'm ok with me. I'd so rather they all be ok with themselves.
I get up every morning, eyes bleary. Turn on the news, laugh along to the silly anchors, admire their comedic timing, even study it.  While I brush my less than perfect teeth, I remind myself of this week's Get Your Shit Together introspection - Quit Comparing Yourself to others and I think about how I'm going to improve on that that day.  As I walk to my car, I remind myself how grateful I am for this job that I like a whole lot, at a neat company, with mostly decent people.  I'm then grateful for my new to me car. I go to work, I work hard to be an asset, I make people laugh.  I go home, and some nights I just cry it out. No reason, no catalyst.  Just a lot of self doubt, and baggage and skeletons and all of the other things that just mean shit in my brains.  I put on jammies too early, sometimes I eat candy.  I read until I fall asleep and then I let my yet untreated sleep apnea waft me into unconsciousness.  I get up and do it all again.
Someday, I'll be successful and not compare myself to others in any way.  I'll admire them, and learn from them, or I'll say a prayer for them.  But I will not compare.  And I hope, someday, the people that seek to compare themselves to ME will find the same kind of peace within themselves to also stop.

Monday, June 13, 2016

This week's thought to ponder / Quit comparing yourself to other people

I'm working on me.
Yes, again. Sigh.
I'm not reading self help books (yet), I'm not getting all motivational posty on the facebook.
I am taking time to reevaluate myself. My life. My...stuff.
Hence, the shaking the dust off this dinosaur again.

Oh, yea.  So last week, I got a brand new and not so small tattoo. It's beautiful, to me. It says Change your Mind, in an infinity loop, with some music notes.  Every day I look at, as I try to not itch it, and I take a breath and say yes, I need to change my mind.  As Ken Block says, 'It's not your life, but how you choose to look at your life'

So on that note.
This week's thing I'm thinking about - I need to quit comparing myself to others.

I know that I've been doing this more often in the past 12 months than I ever have before.
Here's an example. I'm writing it out for you, to bring it to light in front of my own stubborn face.

So, I love this band, Sister Hazel.  They have a pretty incredible fan base; The Hazelnut.  From about 1995 - 2005, I've been  my own Hazelnut.  I have friends that like them enough to go see them.  I have friends who like ME enough to go see them. I've seen them by myself, many time. For me, my fandom was singular. I was ok with that.
Fast forward to 2015.  Things were on the ups in my life, and to celebrate, I treated myself to a dream - I bought myself a ticket to Sister Hazel's Hazelnut Hang, in Isle of Palm SC.  I'd never been to an event like that, and I'd never been to SC, so to me it was a win win.
Disclaimer - the 'Nuts are lovely and friendly people. This is about me, and not them.
So. I go to the Hang alone, having connected online with some super friendly 'Nuts.  I fell in with a crowd who are way more dedicated fans than I am.  They go to all of the shows in their home states, and surrounding states.  They road trip to many other shows.  They go to both the Hang and the Rock Boat every year.  The band members recognize them, if not flat out actually know their names.
I regressed that weekend to about 14.  I wanted to be a part of this magical group, and I wanted in NOW.
I went home and bought a bunch of them gifts.  I started buying cards and mailing them out  monthly to these people.  I did everything short of sending singing telegrams to various states and people with the message PLEASE ACCEPT ME NOW.
For the past 12 months, I found myself comparing myself to them. As individuals, as a group, as a fan, and yes, as an outsider.  I tried to count the number of SH shows I'd been to in the past 20 years. I have a terrible memory, so I have no idea.  I read more about the band members, learned their wives and kids names. This was not me. I respect all artists, musicians are like Gods to me. But I know better. I've been around musicians for over 10 years at the Old Town School, so why was I being like this?

Because if I could compare myself to them and find myself on par, I'd find more value in myself.
'I had been weighed, I had been measured, and I had been found wanting'
I sucked.  No super fan am I.  I stopped listening to SH as much, and I thought less of myself.
Why don't they like me? Why don't they want to hang out with me?
Forgetting about the friends I already have, almost forgetting about the whole point of the love - the music.

Then, a funny thing happened.  The band's new album came out. Hm, sounds like it has some Country flavor to it? I did a tiny bit of research, and yes, they were trying out a new feel for this, their 13th album.  Cool.
I liked it. I loved some of it. I didn't like a few of the songs.  A video came out for a single, and it turns out, I hated the video. A lot. I got passionate again. I decided to voice (ok, write on facebook) my opinion of what I thought of the video and why.  I honestly commented when the band members asked what we thought of the video.
This was it.  I realized I didn't have to like all of it. There are songs of theirs I don't like at all, this was no new revelation for me.  What it was - a wake up call.
I tried my best. I was my best. I stumbled around Isle of Palm last year a mess. This was a dream trip, I was interacting with the band all the time, and at the same time trying hard to get a group of people to like me, because when I compared myself to them, they were better than me. Better fans, better friends, more fun, more alike.
Why, at 40, did I suddenly think that was important? Why did I hold on to it for so long?
Why was I comparing myself to this group of people?  One against so many is never a fair equation anyway.
I had set myself up for failure.

This year, when the Hang on sale date came out, I knew I wasn't going to be able to go.  Life had taken another nose dive at the end of last year, and I needed to recover from that, and buy a new(er) car.  The money I would have spent on the Hang had to go to that car purchase.  And it did.  And I love my 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe that gets me safely and consistently to and from ETown every week day.

This past weekend was the Hang, 2016.  I followed every post, watched every video.  I got a little upset that I don't get concert calls from anyone.  I cried a bit, because I knew what I was missing.
What I didn't do was wonder if they'd like me more if I was there.

I hope they like me, just as I hope anyone that I have such a big thing in common with will like me.

But, personally, I will stop comparing myself to them.  Collectively and mostly individually, they are great human beings. Very kind, very welcoming. I would have been so confused last year if Cheryl hadn't taken me under her wing and answered all of my questions and introduced me to people.  But I do see now, that the reason they seem SO so so cool to me is a little bit Cheryl, a little bit Meg, a splash of Bama, a dose of Greg..... and I'm just me. And I've just seen the shows I've seen. And maybe I'll get to go to the Hang again, and maybe I won't. I know I'll never go on the Rock Boat (not my thing). And that's ok.

Because deep down, I know that I'm still pretty cool myself.  And that needs to be enough.

And here is my new tattoo.
xoxo, reader.

Von was then, Miss is now?

Thinking of new names.
You know, for a new start.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nope, no thanks

It turns out, I am an AWFUL judge of people at first meet.  And poker faces, I guess.

I thought that interview last week went great - both of the people I met with told me I would be coming back for a second interview with the COO this week. 

I got - hopeful - I even bought some new work clothes.

I had a great weekend, and even hummed my way through my Monday morning chores.

I got to Starbucks, turned on the laptop and sent an email off to the agency to follow up on the second interview.

And then I got the response.

The company had changed their minds.  They twisted one of my answers (on a "your strengths" question) into my weakness and said that was exactly what they were not looking for.
They said that I said that I am NOT a multi-tasker!
I am THE multi-tasker!  My entire "me pitch" is all about me being a multi-tasker!

I guess I really don't want to work for a place that would twist my words to make me look bad, but I was SO SURE this was happening.

Of course, I got this email in Starbucks, where I started crying and had to go home and crawl under the blankets and cry for the afternoon.

I spent the better part of this morning looking for health insurance.  I'm sick to my stomach over that.

I am so sad.  I am so tired.  I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Off topic, aka It's my blog, and I'll write what I want to!!

Not a job post!
A me making music post!!

I'm in guitar class right now, as always.  I've also joined the 60's Classics Ensemble at the school.  I joined this class to work on my vocal ability, and my harmonies.  I do not bring my guitar to this class, just me and a tambourine.

Both graduations were a week ago.

For guitar, we chose Just Like Heaven by The Cure.  I had known my teacher was awesome before I had signed up for class (she's a friend of mine), but when I saw that she had The Cure AND The Muppets in our song packet? I was excited.  I like my classmates - even though they had been together for months before I joined, they were very welcoming and friendly. 
So, I practiced and practiced and practiced the riff of the intro that I had been assigned. Our class is pretty big, so we had split up the intro into six parts. Two dudes and I had been assigned riff #1, which is awesome tab, but also is repeated throughout the song.  I already know ALL of the lyrics, because, c'mon, it's The Cure.

I had dinner with my teacher before class, as we do every week.  I told her I would be willing to sing, merely to sing OVER a super annoying and off-key ding dong in the class. Teach laughed and said ok.
We had about 20 minutes to practice before graduation.  No mention was made of who would be singing.
Our turn came up at graduation, and the program director asked who to mic.  Teach pointed at me and said "Von".
I had zero water and was a little tipsy. I'm going to sing?!
I turned it down, but ended up with a mic in front on my anyway.  At least there were also a few other mics around, so it wasn't just me.
I NAILED the riff, every time.  I was soooo excited.
I also lost my voice right after the first verse of the song.  I didn't care. 

For whatever reason, I compartmentalize my musical attempts.  Guitar is for guitar - 60s is for singing. I dunno, I'm just weird.

Two days later was 60s graduation which was at a bar.  I tried to tuck myself into a corner, I thought it would work, since we are a huge group. Nope.
This teacher looked at me and motioned me to the front - to my own mic.
I was terrified.
It was a blast.  I had a great time.  A few of my friends and a bunch of my family came. I was nervous and self-conscious at times, but I had fun.
The next day, I asked VonSis for critique.  Not that she is a music critic, but at least she's honest.  She said that I got self-conscious at times (true) and I didn't sing out like the rest of the group.

I thought on that for a few days.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

As long as I can remember, I've loved music.  To me, it's like breathing, it's just always there and I need it to survive. I've also been singing as long as I can remember.  This was fine, probably, when I was a toddler, belting out to Fleetwood Mac and CCR, and Heart.  It was maybe even "cute"
Then, the 80s brought the invention of my life - a walkman.  That thing was surgically attached to me from the moment I got one.  Now, I was singing, but I had headphones on, and didn't realize how loud I was. I sang all day and all night.  VonSis would come in my room and tell me to shut up.  On long car rides, the whole family would tell me to knock it off.  I kept singing, they kept shushing me. A vicious circle of singing and shushing, shushing and singing.
I developed a compromise
I kept singing, but very very quietly.  Almost mumbly. Around all other humans.  All the time.
When I was 20, I got my driver's license, and a car.  I spent hours and hours driving around and singing. Alone. In my car.

Now, here I am, nearly 40 and wanting to sing.  But my vocal muscle memory tells me to shut up, to shush, to mumble.

I'll have to relearn to sing out.  To belt (a little).  To remember that I love it, and even if I suck, the joy outweighs that.

Plus, no one thinks I suck but me.  It's that whole "listening to your own recorded voice" thing.  I hate it when I hear my recorded voice - like when I hear a voicemail I've left, or a message. Yuck.  It's the same thing with my recorded singing voice - the lyrics? correct.  the key? correct. high C for 8 measures? correct.  In tempo? correct.  I just hate it.

At least this is a flaw I am working on with determination.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A People Person

I have been working since I was 15 years old. 
My first job was at the local pizza parlor that was owned by two brothers-in-law.  O and L.
They were tough bosses, fair.  The uniform was ugh - white pants and their flimsy logo'd tshirt.  White pants?!?!? What chubby 15 year old wants to wear that? But I did.  And I answered the phones and fell in love with the pizza boy. I was always on time and always worked my shifts.
I picked up a delicious pizza there last week.  I walked in the door and L said "VON!!! How are you? How is your family?" Yep, they still love me.  They don't ever, ever want to hear that I am nearly 40, but they have a soft spot in their hearts for the chubby little blonde who worked there for two years when she was in high school.

When I was 16, I got a job at a hardware store.  I was a cashier. I was always on time, fell in love with the lumber yard dude.  I wore a gold smock with the logo on it - a big smiling beaver.  I worked a lot, was always on time.  I moved on up to the service desk.  I still had to wear the gold beaver smock, but I learned how to price out lumber and custom doors and do mathy stuff.  On my last day, three of the lumber yard guys sang "End of the Road" by boyz to men as I walked out.  They gave me flowers.  I'm still friends with a couple of people I worked there with.

When I was 19 I decided I didn't want to go to college anymore, I was going to go find a real job.  I signed up with an agency and quickly found a job working as a file clerk at an  insurance company downtown.  The big leagues!! VonParents were happy for me and bought me a lovely business casual wardrobe.  I had pretty dresses and even a trench coat.  I took the el every day and went to the Art Institute for lunch breaks. 

Right around 21, I was an asshole, and I got fired.  I was on the phone with my boyfriend and friends all day. This was stupid. I learned my lesson.  I'm still friends with one of the people I met there.

I got fired in August, so I took a month off and hung out in exbestie's pool. All day. Every day. I still lived at home and didn't really have bills, so I wasn't worried.

September I walked into another agency in answer to an ad they had placed for some job in a bank.  Instead, they hired me to work there, at  the agency.  I was 21 and placing people 10, 12 years older than me in jobs, and fixing their resumes.  We drank beer on Friday afternoons.  I'm still friends with both of the awesome women I worked with there.

When I was 22, I started to look for something else, I liked my job, and the people, but I needed more money.  I found a job at AutoParts Place really quickly. 
I was 22, and a receptionist with a 10 minuted commute. 
I LOVED that job.  I was there over 10 years, and I kept moving on up the food chain.  I went from one job to the next to the next to the next.  I went from a department of 12 to just me in Chicago and the rest of the department in Boston.  I fell in love with a warehouse dude, got engaged to him, and called off the wedding and the relationship all while I worked there.
I held out for more - money, responsibility, whatever - until I couldn't anymore.  I decided on 1/1/07 I would look for a new job.    I found one in July.  The CEO of AutoParts Place even flew out before I left, and visited me.
"So, where are you going?"
"Big Stupid Company"
"Ah. I can't talk you out of it then."
**hindsight makes me wish he had**
I am still friends with MANY of the people I worked with there.  As far as work families go, we were/are extremely tight.  We weathered business changes, great joys, horrible sadnesses, crazy people and crazy times.  I feel fuzzy warm love for several of the people I worked with there.

I loved my last job.  I did.  I learned so much from some incredibly smart people - smart women.  Women who I admire and will remember.
But, I'm not sure I'll be friends with many of them.  Not by my choosing.  I haven't seen M since December.  Lots of empty promises that we WILL see each other, but even those are getting less frequent.  There are so many people I do not miss (see yesterday's post). 
Is it because I worked with a lot of sales people? And in general, I distrust sales people? I don't know why. 

This whole post originated with the thought that I MUST have value, I MUST be a good person, or friend or something, or else why would all of these people, going back 25 years, even want to stay in touch with me?  I may have lost that direction along the way as I typed.  It became kind of a chronicle of jobs.

Whatever, it's Friday. So I can do what I want.