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Mel

I have been fired twice in my life. The first time, I was hired for what I thought was a cashier job in the mall, only to spend my first day doing hard sales.  Before I even had a handle of what the store sold, which was mostly novelty and gift items.  I planned to quit when the shift was up. It was a leave-at-lunch kind of job… but I had been sent out to get lunch for my boss, which made that impossible.  Plus, I at least wanted my pay for the day.  I got called over about 3 hours before closing to be fired.  I couldn’t have been happier.

The second time, I was working at a doctor’s office where my mom worked. I had been there for almost a year and a half.  I wasn’t treated particularly well (I had no job description, really… and when my direct manager got a promotion I found myself doing less of my work and more of hers), but I did my work and they seemed flexible with my changing schedule from semester to semester.  Well, seemed.  Not quite two months into this particular semester, a heavy one where I’d had to cut my schedule way back, I received a phone call that I was being let go because I wasn’t completing enough work.  I was upset.  More than that, I was angry.  I had record of the work I had done, and sent a letter to the doctors at the practice explaining to them what I had done. I didn’t care so much that I was fired– but I cared a great deal that my work ethic and character might be on the line.  Out of a decent-sized office, only two people reached out to me at that time.  My favorite doctor, and Mel.  I have kept in some touch with the other workers, and still am a patient at the practice. I began a new job, on campus, a few months later. Which wound up to be my favorite job ever. All things work for the best. But Mel’s card was a great encouragement to me… and it meant the world. She knew I had been fired unfairly, probably one of the few to realize this, and she wrote a beautiful note saying what great things were ahead of me and how that job was just a very, very small part of the life I would have.  She was right and I was far happier without working there– and even happier to know that someone saw who I was. 

Mel passed away last week.  Two days ago, Mom and I attended her memorial service.  She had battled cancer since before I knew her. And when I say battled, I mean battled. Mel gave cancer a run for its money.  After having tumors removed from her brain, she was still planning her return to work in a couple weeks.  It was after this that things took a turn for the worse. Mel was tough stuff with a great sense of humor. She was a protector. Sitting at the service, seeing her family… I still cannot grasp the concept of death.  Even after all the practice I’ve had.

Wednesday marks a year since my grandmother passed away.  I still cannot grasp it.  I still forget at times.  Still feel as though it’s not real.  Still can go back in my head to that day, and the weekend before.  It doesn’t happen as often… but it’s hard to shake when it does.  

Yesterday, we had a baby shower in my family.  My cousin’s wife.  Expecting a girl, their first child, this Spring. It is a reminder of a new season for us. Death is back in 2012 for my family– Life is in 2013, with two babies due in the next two months. A reminder that the bad is passed.  A reminder that even though death is hard to grasp– so is life.  This creation– how impossible that a baby grows and is born.  How miraculous.  As said in RENT, “the opposite of death isn’t life– it’s creation.”  I am still working on this.  Working on letting the emotions seep down to water the seeds that are growing deep down.  I’m waiting to see what will come.  I know that it will be good.  

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The R-word.

An innocent question this weekend (ie, “what are your plans for today?”) brought on a full-on rant to an unsuspecting friend of mine.  As this is a creative blog, I try not to blog about my personal life here… but there’s also some necessity when personal thoughts begin “blocking” your creative flow.  For more on this, I strongly recommend The Artist’s Way.  Seriously, at least check out the book from your local library.  It’s worth it to try even if you don’t finish it.  I return to this book, and its ideas, pretty often when I reach a turning point or plateau.  Or when parts of my life obviously start feeling a bit stale or “bleh.”

I bring this up because, in the book, Cameron instructs readers to write “morning pages.”  The idea is that by hand-writing three stream-of-consciousness pages first thing each day, you get all the “blech” and “yech” thoughts out.

She describes it this way:
“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity.  Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye– this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days.” (page 11, The Artist’s Way)

I had a moment like this when my friend asked that question and got a rant-of-sorts about the people I hold dearest.  And, as I apologized for said semi-rant, I heard myself say, “I didn’t know that was upsetting me…”

Because, in truth, I’m not upset with my friends.  But I am adjusting to the changes we’re experiencing.  It is the hard thing about having good, dear, old friends.  Life keeps happening.  And we are not in grade school anymore to see each other every day and witness the changes.  The changes often come now via text message or random phone call.  Announcing engagements, jobs, grad school acceptances, babies, and moving days to places far enough away to warrant airline tickets– or passports.

I have five friends who I would say are my closest.  Of the six of us (myself included), we now stand on a relational continuum:

Married (2 years, with 1 year old daughter)
Engaged
Serious Relationship
Relationship (unofficial):not-sure-where-this-is-going-but-hopeful
Single:getting-over-someone-waiting-for-really-good-guy
Single:I-don’t-wanna-talk-about-it

Now, those last three (again, myself included) were hard to write, mostly because I wish them to not be taken the wrong way.  I’ll put in the disclaimer that I have been in both of these places and love these girls as sisters.

I am not bitter or jealous.  I am thrilled and contented (and occasionally temporarily worried) by each new announcement.  When you truly love someone, their victories feel like your own.  However, there is a give-and-take in all of this.  Buying your closest girlfriend a toaster.  Learning to talk to her as though she were a couple– because the amount of one-on-one time you have has significantly decreased.  Learning that friendships survive in balance; and that you do still need to find alone time to talk.  The challenge of finding that time that is not taken up by jobs, significant others, children, parents, chores.  And, in the midst of your changing lives, finding out what common ground you still share.  What you can still commiserate– and laugh about– together.

newly in college or heading off-to-college

First Wedding

First Baby's First Christmas


my graduation party, and our expanding circle of friendship

Our lives are clogged with relationships.
My coming challenge:  to (wo)man up and put in the effort mine need to continue to blossom.  And to create using this love, rather than letting the changes in my life keep me blocked, ineffective, and irritable.


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