What does it mean to “surrender”? Because I don’t really know.
Somebody once said to me (and I am 100% positive that others have thought it), “You are the only one standing in your way”. Okay…thank you…that’s helpful…what do I do about it?
A decade of therapy has taught me about all of the things that went wrong in my life and why my journey hasn’t been as easy as some. And easy is a relative term. I constantly have to remind myself that my village isn’t being bombed, I can say whatever I want (within reason) without being shot on sight, and I can access clean drinking water whenever I need to. That’s something, I admit…it could be worse. But this is America. This is the only life I have ever known. Do I know real and true suffering? Probably not. But…I suffer nonetheless. And while I know how and why I became me…ME doesn’t seem to work in a lot of scenarios, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Why am I the only “normal” person that I know who has been single for over a decade? (This is a gross exaggeration of course, but I have not had a long term committed relationship since I moved to Los Angeles). And what I mean by normal is…I’m not a disgustingly hideous disfigured bum. I am a relatively attractive person with brains and talent…and yet, I can never seem to put any of it to good use for an extended period of time. I can do things. I can get jobs, work, perform, make friends, meet guys…but eventually things come to an end for one reason or another and the only thing that has ever lasted are my friendships. At least I have this. I take great pride in my work as a friend. I am a good one, and I have the lasting friendships to prove it.
But, when I have to take things to the lowest common denominator and comfort myself with the fact that I don’t live in a third world country…you gotta know something is wrong.
I quit my job on Friday. I was there for seven months. I had secured that job while working at another. That other place was absolutely miserable. The money was terrible, my boss was an asshole, the food was mediocre, business was slow, and I was dating my alcoholic self-destructive co-worker. Everybody who worked there, including me, drank all night long just to get through it. I had to get out. So, I did the right thing (even though my current boss kept writing me bad checks and I wasn’t being paid) and I stayed there while I looked for something else. And then I left. So, now I’m at the new place. I’m happy. Ecstatic. Grateful. This place was shiny and new, my boss loved me, I loved him, everything was great. A fresh start. Everybody needs one of those. But then the inevitable happened. I got my first customer complaint. This was several months in. It happens. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I’ve been doing this a long long looooooooooong long time. I know the drill. I know what is expected of me. I do my best and hope I can get through the day without anything too awful happening, but I am not perfect and no matter what you do…sometimes it just isn’t going to be enough. Well, this was the beginning of the end. This customer wanted something that isn’t on the menu and I didn’t know if it was possible to comply with her request. I just wanted to get it right and in trying to do so, she got frustrated and embarrassed and then told my boss I was rude to her. I wasn’t, but that doesn’t matter. It’s like being accused of rape. Even if you didn’t do it, people will always associate you with being a rapist afterwards. I know that’s an extreme comparison, but it’s true. It plants the seeds of doubt and that’s enough to ruin your reputation forever. So, ever since then my boss has seen me differently. He started getting on my case more and more about little tiny stupid things. Texting me on my days off to tell me of a minor infraction made the day before. Totally inappropriate. While this may not be a big deal to some, it was a huge deal to me. I spent years and years trying to prove to my parents that I wasn’t a hideous loser after spending a few years being one. It took a lot to prove that my past wasn’t my present and that I had changed. And now I was going to have to go through the same thing here at work. I became increasingly more stressed as I strived for perfection, which as we all know is absolutely impossible to achieve. I minded my p’s and q’s. Took every precaution to make sure that nobody would ever have a reason to complain about me again. Now, if you’ve ever worked in service, you know that there are some people who just don’t want to be happy, so despite my best efforts, someone else complained about me. Now mind you, they didn’t complain about my service. I did my job fine. This person complained about a conversation that we had. Now, I’m a bartender. This is a job that’s heavy on conversation. People tell you things, things get personal, people get comfortable, alcohol is involved. It’s basically just a huge recipe for disaster for someone like me. I have always been a pretty open book. You don’t get a lot of surprises with me. I say how I feel, tell people what I think, and I try to be as honest as I can. It’s just the way that I am built…and this is the problem. So, anyway, I don’t really remember this customer, but apparently we had a pretty in depth conversation about what I do outside of work, you know, the fire dancing and whatnot. And somewhere along the line I expressed that bartending was not my life’s dream and that I couldn’t wait to someday be able to just do what I love all of the time and not work in restaurants anymore. Well, that did it. This customer was not going to stand for this. She wanted me to be completely happy where I was and to go on bartending until I’m 90 and to do it with enthusiasm and joy. So, what she decided to do was to write a page long letter to my employer to tell him I was not happy with my job. Wow. Really? I wish I had that kind of time! So, days after this conversation took place my boss pulled me into his office to tell me about the psychotic letter he had received. He made me read it. It was really bat shit crazy. But that doesn’t matter. It planted the seed…and that’s all it takes. I proceeded to burst into tears. I felt betrayed first of all. I mean, how the hell does a person take a private and personal conversation and then blab it to my boss? What a fucking bitch! And I felt completely unsupported by my employer. I felt that I had been there long enough (about 5 months) for my work to speak for itself. There are shit ton of customers who absolutely adore me! People leaving happy left and right. And just because one bored and crazy lady takes it upon herself to interpret things that I said and twist them to suit her world view, now I’m an asshole who hates her job? It really wasn’t the case. I didn’t hate my job. But I started to after this incident. I became more and more careful with who I engaged in conversation and what I said. I felt mistrusting of everyone and I also felt that my boss was now watching me very very very closely. And he was. After this incident I couldn’t do a damn thing right. Criticism was the daily ritual and no matter how awesome I was with customers, how fast I made drinks, how clean I left my bar, it was never enough. He kept finding things to complain about. In twelve years of doing this kind of work, I have never experienced so much negative feedback. Work became a place I dreaded going and my boss a tyrant who I never wanted to see again, let alone lift another finger for, ever. But, like a good little girl, and an upstanding citizen who pays taxes, uses their blinker, and takes it right up the ass with a smile, I kept going back. Because that’s what you do. You work. You do what you’re told. You do whatever it takes because you have bills to pay and you don’t want to end up on the street.
Meanwhile, I had another life. A new and improved life outside of work. One that was free of alcoholic boyfriends and free of alcohol all together. My last blog was 7 months ago and I stated that I would no longer be drinking and I stuck to it. Oh, big woop. They don’t hand out prizes you know. But, still I am thankful that I made that decision and my life has changed in a lot of positive ways as a result. I started the whole fire dancing thing and I gained a level of confidence that I didn’t know was possible for me. I met a lot of really great people and became immersed in a world that I had never known existed. The fire dancing community, while not without flaws, is a very supportive group of individuals. We all have this one thing in common and we’ve all been changed for the better because of it. The effect that it’s had on my life has been very profound and I know it has done the same for others. Everyone tries their best to live in an elevated state of consciousness. It comes more naturally for some than it does for others, but the point is, they try…and that’s more than most people do…in my experience anyway.
People from this community tend to be spiritual, liberal, and free. Conversation is interesting, creativity is at maximum capacity at all times, there’s always some kind of inspirational quote on Facebook from someone or other, there’s always something social to do, nobody shakes your hand, everybody hugs (you need 12 a day for proper oxytocin production…did you know that?), people dance, and by people I mean even the men. Everyone gets to be themselves, or a whatever version they choose to put forth, nobody tries to fit into a box, or put you into one. It’s pretty great all around, although like I said, there are flaws…I mean, these are people I am talking about. Not everybody walks their talk and that can be disheartening, but that might be subject matter for another blog. But you get my drift. Here I am in a sea of good people who are just happy to let me be who I am and show me love and then I go to work every night and try to be who somebody else wants me to be and get shit on. It’s a mind fuck of great proportions and it’s hard to live in both worlds simultaneously.
The more immersed I become in “the community”…I know, it sounds like a cult…the more I see how screwed up things are on the outside of it. And this isn’t news to anyone, we all see the world going to hell in a hand basket, but I am surrounded by people who want to make it better, who really and truly believe that it CAN be better. I’ve been exposed to people who look at the silver lining ALL of the time. Who believe in themselves and who believe in the abundance of the Universe. People who believe that if you set your mind to it, you really CAN do anything. That you ARE okay just the way you are. That you ARE meant to be here and that everything IS going to be okay. And, well, I drank the Cool Aid…and as a result, I no longer have a job.
Here is what happened. Thursday night I was doing a stellar job not having inappropriate conversation with anyone, mixing amazing cocktails, keeping up with a never ending stream of customers and basically just being all around amazing. Apparently, I forgot to take my bus tub (the thing you put your dirty dishes in) back to the kitchen at the end of the night. Well, first of all…I usually work with a busboy who automatically does this for me. And second of all, the tub had already been emptied earlier, so I know there weren’t that many dishes in it anyway. Well, the busboy didn’t take it back and I forgot to double check. Big. Fucking. Deal. Yeah, it’s not the best. You don’t want to attract critters, and I know this…which is why I’ve NEVER made this mistake before. So, on Saturday I’m at the Silverlake Reservoir having the best day with a girlfriend of mine. We did the stairs and were having a Spin Jam (practicing with our fire tools) in the park. The sun was shining, we were laughing and talking and workin’ out. Life was good. And then I get a text from my boss that reads: “We need to talk next week. You left your bus tub under the bar last night.” Um…is this some kind of medical emergency that needs my immediate attention? Why the FUCK is he texting me on my day off? I have NEVER in twelve years of waiting tables been called or texted on my day off to be reprimanded. And over something so little!!! Is he serious? “We need to talk”? Really? I mean, REALLY REALLY? There goes my fabulous day! He took it upon himself to swoop on in, uninvited and let me know that all was not well and that we’d be talking next week…I guess he wanted me to think long and hard about the horrible awful terrible no good thing that I did. And this wasn’t the first time. Another time he texted me to tell me that I left the a/c on all night. Okay, well, let’s back up a little bit. The a/c was indeed left on, but it’s on auto, meaning that it’s set at a certain temperature and will shut off when that temperature is reached. I think it was at like 72 or 74 or something. This means that it most definitely was NOT on ALL NIGHT because it’s not that hot at night and the a/c would eventually just shot off. And the reason I had forgotten was because the a/c is the first thing I check when I am closing up at night, but on that particular night after I had checked to make sure it was off, the dishwasher asked me to turn it back on…it gets like a steam room in the kitchen and the poor guy was sweating like a slave. So, I forgot I had turned it back on. I forgot. This happens to human beings every once in a while. They forget stuff. It sucks sometimes, but it happens to everyone as far as I know. I guess I’m just not allowed to be human. And even if it was a huge deal…it’s still not text worthy because it is not an emergency and it does not need to be addressed on my day off.
Now this may not sound like much to you, but you have to remember this rides on the coattails of being harassed all shift long for about two months (ever since the first customer complaint). Harassed to the point that other coworkers notice and say things like “What the hell is going on? Why does he keep riding you?” Not to mention that every single time my roommate ever came in to visit me, as a PAYING CUSTOMER no less, he would constantly harangue me with nonsense making her feel awkward and unwelcome to the point where she eventually just stopped coming in. And she’s in service as well, neither of us has every experienced anything like it. She was a regular customer and he never made her feel welcome…but I’m the asshole…even though I bend over backwards for everyone who walks in…okay, fine.
So, on Friday when I got that text, I finally snapped. This guy has no idea what he is doing or how to manage people. He has never bartended one single day in his life and has no idea what I do or how fucking good I am at it. He couldn’t possibly know. And while I don’t really relish serving alcohol, I have to say, I take pride in making a good cocktail, not because it’s a cocktail, but because it’s good. And I know there is value in being good at what you do, even if what you do is clean toilets. Well, it had been clear for some time that I was not being appreciated in anyway whatsoever. And no matter how stellar I did under extremely pressured circumstances, it was never going to be enough. And I knew for a fact that I would always make small mistakes…maybe not often, but again, the human factor guarantees this, and that he would never let any of them go. So, I quit. And there is more, so much more that I could say about him and about other people that work there and how unhappy they are and what they go through, but it really isn’t important. You just have to trust me on this.
I know that I deserve to be appreciated for what I do. I know that I deserve to be treated with respect. I know that …. Wait….I just had to stop typing for a moment…I don’t want to sound like I am justifying a bad decision, but it feels like it a little bit. You see, I am programmed. I am programmed by society, by my upbringing, by my experience…I am programmed to believe that you don’t ever walk away from a job, no matter how shitty the circumstances, unless you’ve got another one lined up. I feel like I am in trouble. I feel like I have misbehaved. I feel like I have done something wrong. That’s the old me, who is still alive and well in here. But I have new programming. The programming that I mentioned before. The programming of “Jump and the Net Will Appear!”. The whole, power of positive thinking programming, the Universe is Abundant programming, the Law of Attraction programming. But this programming is new, it isn’t hardwired, it isn’t reinforced in my neuro pathways yet. I have been living with and reinforcing the brain patterns of fear and “the world is a shitty and scary place” for 30+ years. It takes work to undo all of those neuro pathways. I know how the brain works. I understand the science behind that. And I do believe that those patterns can be changed, that the routing can be re-routed, that the thoughts can be different. But it’s work. And I’m doing it…it’s just not an overnight sensation kind of a thing. I WANT to believe these things. And on most days I do. But on a day like today, I doubt.
I quit my job in a terrifying job market and a shitty economy. People with master’s degrees are waiting tables. And no, I don’t want to wait tables anymore. I’ve never really been cut out for it. It has been an extremely difficult 12 years. I’m amazed that I’ve been able to do it for as long as I have. Okay, so I quit my job AND…AND…AND you want to hear the even crazier part? I have decided to give notice to my building. I mean, I don’t want to live in the valley anymore anyway. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that I did not choose this apartment. I’ve never really liked it. It’s waaay more than I wanted to spend and waaay more than I can afford now. So, here is my grand plan: I am going to continue to look for work…possibly in management (so I can be in charge and put my knowledge and expertise to good use and not have some moron lording over me), but possibly doing something completely different…and hopefully I will have a new job soon…and I am going to give up my apartment and for the month of August…I am going to just be a vagabond. I’m already going to be gone for a week (possibly more) in August at Burning Man anyway, so why spend money that I don’t have on rent for a place that I’m not even going to be occupying?
Am I losing my mind? Have I just completely left the reservation? Is this surrender? Or is this giving up completely? Is there a difference? My life’s plan right now is to be homeless…and possibly jobless. I have NO savings. None. Nothing. What the fuck do I think I am doing? How do I suppose I am going to survive? Just where exactly do I think I am going to stay? Yesterday, when I was in full Cool Aid mode, I felt pretty damn good about all of this. You know? I felt like, Yeah man! I’m free! I don’t have to work for an asshole. It doesn’t serve my higher purpose. It isn’t healthy. I don’t have to put up with this shit! Life is what I make it! Life is what I decide it’s going to be! I’m just going to throw all of my shit in storage and go to Burning Man, see how that changes me and then figure it all out when I get back! YEAH! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
But then I went and got my period and now I’m up at 3:30am crying and writing this blog. Terrified. I know that isn’t surrender. But if I was “giving up” I wouldn’t have all of these questions. I wouldn’t care at all. I’d just leave all of my shit here and go OD on heroin or something. So what is this?
I have always been told, and I have always sorta believed, that I was meant for great things. I do have a belief that this world and my life is an opportunity for something big. It doesn’t have to be showy big. I don’t mean like I have to be a movie star or anything. But, I just think there HAS to be a way for me to make a living that gives my life meaning and purpose. I thought maybe Yoga was that thing, but I haven’t been able to get anyone to come to class, so I don’t know…maybe that’s not it. But fuck, there’s got to be a place for me where I belong, where the work I do is valued and appreciated. There has to be a place where I belong right now, just as I am that my life experience and work experience are just right for. I don’t want my parents to worry about me. I don’t want my friends to worry about me. Hell, I don’t want to worry about me. I have made this decision. This is what is happening. And this is meant to happen, cause…it’s happening…I already said that, but that’s how you know something is meant to happen…it happens. That’s reality. Anyway…I am walking away from that which does not serve me. I am walking away from that job and this apartment and I am walking towards whatever comes next.
Is this surrender? I really fucking hope so…because that’s when all the good shit’s supposed to happen~