Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Faith in the Rabbi

Today I was reading through the New York Times and I ended up reading an article (opinion/editorial style) called "What the Rabbi Said".

I'm not sure what made me read it. There wasn't anything special about the photo or one sentence tag line.

Amy, the author, goes through a "OH SHIT! I'm almost 40" crisis when it comes to her being unmarried. When she talks about being unmarried later on she does comment regarding the types of men she dates not being the type she'd want to settle down with.

Perhaps her clarity of mind isn't so much that she's 40 but that she's dating the same types of men over and over and she's ready for something different in her life.

She then takes a step out of her comfort zone (or perhaps you could say a leap of faith) and seeks the help of a rabbi in Israel.

Doesn't a renewal or exploration of faith sometimes go hand-in-hand with those moments in life that make you reevaluate your life? 

She struggles with having, perhaps, put too much faith into the rabbi's prediction and prayer. Being sadden and disappointed when Chanukah comes and go and her "husband" hasn't appeared as the rabbi said. 

Then, we she least expected it...when she wasn't "on the hunt"...she meets someone. They aren't married but she's happy. Happy with her choices. 

She closes the story by saying, "I wonder if it will be because the rabbi predicted it, or because the rabbi’s prediction caused me to make it so."
*     *     *

Maybe it's because I have people getting married and having babies all around me...

...Maybe it's because I have the "when are you having children?"
question from friends and family ringing in my ears...

...Maybe it's because I've found someone I can see spending my life with... 

...Maybe it's simply because deep down I'm an old fashioned romantic
who wants a happily-ever-after ending... 

I'm not sure what made me read it but in the end I loved the story and the message.

I've always been torn between believing in fate and knowing I create my own destiny. Perhaps the two aren't completely separate. I'd like to believe there's something greater than us out there. Something guiding us and bringing us together with positive people and kindred spirits.

Whether it's believing in the rabbi or believing in yourself. Having confidence and knowing deep down we/you/I deserve happiness is what brings forth the positive changes in our lives...but I suppose a little faith in the rabbi won't hurt either.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Inappropriateness and Tactlessness

So yesterday I'm sitting at my desk in our office suite (I don't have my own office, I sit in the front room of our office suite behind the student worker desk) working on the multitude of projects I have going - mostly for the New Student Orientation happening in two weeks - when my boss comes out of her office and sits down across from me. She starts by telling me about a meeting she has later that afternoon and that one of the agenda items might change the order/process of Fall Orientation (luckily I'm working on Winter and it wouldn't effect my current projects).

She then shifts some and starts saying something about how she has something else she wants me to know about but that I should understand she heard it third-fourth hand, that she had been thinking about how best to approach me, etc etc etc....dancing around the topic and making me nervous.

"Okay" I say - expecting something along the lines of budget cuts and me loosing my raise (or worse my job)

Apparently she heard third hand that a student, with whom I am supposed to work very closely with, went to my boss's boss's boss (aka the PRESIDENT of the College) to say she can't work with me. Now I don't know the tone. I don't know the reason. What I do know is that apparently without me looking I've created an enemy at my new job. I know that I have upset this person so much that she says she can't work with me. I know that the President needs a lesson in Human Resources 101 and to learn that when you are dealing with a personnel matter of this kind you don't go burst into someone's office, where they are in the middle of a meeting with other departments, to tell my boss's boss this tidbit of information.

Yes that's right. The way my boss found out was this:
Student meets with President.
President intrudes and "discloses" this information to the Provost
(with 2 other department heads in the office)
One of these Department Heads then tells my boss.
Who then tells me.

I don't know which to be more upset about. That this student has such a chip on her shoulder that she's decided she can't (and/or won't) work with me.

I don't expect everyone to love me. Hell, I don't expect everyone to like me. 
HOWEVER, I do expect people to be professional and deal with it.

Or does it bother me more that the President has so little tact that he thinks this is the appropriate means to which share this information.

My boss says she wants to have a meeting with the President about everything that's going on (details here aren't important) and how he's encouraging and unknowingly increasing the drama.  But he's currently on vacation meaning this conversation isn't going to happen for a few weeks.

We'll see what happens I suppose.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coin toss + Vodka Dress = Lobster Red

Normally when going around a game of "truth or dare" or even some (lame) team building activity when you're supposed to tell your "Most Embarrassing Moment" I come up with nothing. I draw a blank. No childhood traumatic event. No dress tucked into my pantyhose. Nothing.

Well after tonight....THAT ALL HAS CHANGED!

Before I continue let me remind you of the following:
1. I've only been at this school for 5 months
2. This was the company holiday party of 80+ people (most of whom I hadn't met until this evening).

So the party is going along just fine. I've managed to find something to eat and have visited the bar 3 times. I'm at a table with some people from my office suite and some people I'm only slightly familiar with. Things are going well. I'm comfortable. I'm laughing and having a good time and comes Jeopardy.

(Once you keep reading you'll see why I feel the game chosen was slightly ironic)

So the Advancement Department (i.e. $$) has put together a game of Jeopardy. Two teams of five and someone on the winning team could win a WEEK IN CABO SAN LUCAS!!!

My name gets called to be "Team Captain" of the white team (white vs red)! Okay. I never win anything but hey, who knows...maybe this time? So they finish picking teams (names drawn out of a hat style) and they ask for the team captains to come up to the front to flip a coin - seeing which team gets to go first.

And when I say "to the front" I mean at the front of this giant ballroom, all people's eyes on the impending coin-toss....remember 80+ people....

"Ladies first"
*flip coin*

...where did the coin go?

Can you guess?


At first no one knew what happened. The MC (president of the school), the coin-flipper (member of Advancement Dept) and the Red Team Captain are all looking around on the floor for the coin. The audience starts murmuring and wondering why they aren't announcing if it was heads or tails. I make eye contact with the coin-tosser and tell him he's not getting his coin back. That's when EVERYONE realized what had happened and where the coin had "disappeared" to.

So of course, in case anyone missed that my breasts had been turned into a coin machine, the President of the school says into the microphone "I think we're going to need another coin"!

I'm sure I turned as red as a lobster! I've never blushed so hard in my life. As they're turned to the audience to find another coin I turn my back to the crowd (unfortunately this puts me boobs to face with my boss and her husband - both of whom were on my team) and fish out the coin. If it had landed directly in my bra - I might have left it there. But it landed between the outside of my bra and my dress. So I knew if I left it there it would eventually fall out the bottom of my dress. I'd rather fish it out then look like I shit out a coin while walking across the dance floor.

Although really. In the end I should have known...

When the girls are out - everything is in jeopardy of being "eaten" by my cleavage.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recluse vs Reserved

Tomorrow night is the company holiday party at a local ballroom. 

I've been part of the planning since the beginning: location, food, theme, how the proceeds of the auction will be spent, etc. I've helped with it all and yet, I'm dreading the event. 

Crowds of up near 90 people swigging down cheep keg beer and $6 bottles of wine. Standing around shumoosing with people I'm sure only 1/2 the time remember my name or that I'm a staff member (and not a student). Forcing myself to choke down under-salted hor d'oeuvres and dry entries. Watching the clock tick tick tick and wondering how early is too early to slip out the door and call a cab home. I dread large social interactions. 

I wouldn't call myself a wall flower. I don't find a dark corner and try to blend in with the surrounding decorations. I plaster a smile on my face and try to chit-chat. 

But the results are always the same. 

Me standing a half-step back from a circle of people who have known one another for years and who go out together for happy hour every Friday night. They're standing around talking about people or things upon which I have no interest or knowledge. Something might be said in my direction and I'll respond with something (I think) is witty only to be face to face with blank and confused stares. I'll awkwardly smile and sip my drink as they turn back to one another and that will be my cue to slip away and return to an empty table where I'll pretend to be in the middle of an intense and involved texting conversation. 

It's not that I don't like people. 
It's not that I don't enjoy going out for drinks and dancing. 

There's just something about a large (forced) social situation where I'm expected to put myself out there - expose myself as it were - to strangers and enjoy myself. 

I like my coworkers (we're planning on a small holiday lunch/dinner just the five of us), they're funny and inviting but I also know that I can't expect to attach myself to them like some Holiday Barnacle. 

My mother is worried that my current living situation (in a house with her and my younger sister) isn't good for me....that it's turning me into a hermit. 

GREAT! Somehow moving to Portland has turned me into a socially awkward recluse that lives at home with Momma. How the hell did my life get so bad that my mother now pities me?

I don't think I'm a hermit. I don't avoid any contact with the outside world. If I did I'd work from home, have groceries delivered, shop only via ebay or infomercials and not have any friends.

No, I'm not a hermit. I'm just shy. I've spent so many years building protective walls around me, trying not to get hurt, that now I can't escape them. I'm a Rapunzel who cut her hair before Prince Charming could even find her. (And no, I'm not saying I'm expecting a man to "fix" it all. Here Prince=Social Life)
The real "funny" thing is I'm sure some friend will read this and be surprised. Around people I know and trust enough to let in I'm anything but shy. I'm loud, bubbly, always full of smiles and not afraid to speak my mind. 

I don't know how these two parts of me manage to coexist inside me? 

There are days when it's more of a battle or war zone inside than a duality of peaceful coexistence. The struggle of wanting to go out into the world and the need to curl up in my bed with a security blanket and hide. 

It's a struggle I fight every weekend and am sure will continue for many years. So please if you invite me out on a Friday night and I cancel on you. Please don't take it personal. It might just be that the war is raging inside.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Bah! Humbug!"

The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving seems but a distant memory and Christmas is fast approaching (even faster it seems since I also celebrate Yule) and then before we know it 2010 will be just a memory. 

I can't remember the last year though that I felt in the "Holiday Spirit".

I'm not expecting a Norman Rockwell Christmas but for many years now I feel more and more like an Ebenezer. Thanksgiving just means sitting around with people I don't know at someone's house making small talk and pretending I'm enjoying the over salted stuffing and dried out turkey. Christmas means dealing with cats eating tinsel and finding gifts for people I know will probably end up in their local Good Will. New Years is just another night of going to bed late and then forcing myself to remember to write "2011" and not "2010" on bills and paperwork.

I try every year to make things different. To find my inner Rockwell....but then something happens and my holidays turn more into A Christmas Story (sans the Chinese Dinner for Christmas Dinner...we do that at Easter).

The "bah humbug" feeling started when I was 8 - all in one holiday season (a few days before Christmas) I found out that Santa, the Tooth-fairy & the Easter bunny didn't exist AND then I learned I was going to be a child of a "broken home"...my parents were getting divorced. The day after Christmas my mother, 6 month old sister and I packed up our belongings and moved out so my soon-to-be stepmother could move in. 

My high school sweetheart romance ended during the holiday season - a 2 year relationship coming to a close because he'd fallen in love with his best friend.

There was the Thanksgiving season of 2004 when my grandmother, who I had lived with since my parent's divorce, who had been increasingly ill passed away. We buried her the day before Thanksgiving. As a family we combined our strength and still got together that year - all the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together to eat her recipes and comfort one another. 

Last year was the first holiday season without the large family gathering that I'm accustomed too - being only a few months after moving to a new state.

This year is the second holiday season without my special-someone and now we're half way around the world from one another so that we aren't even going to be celebrating the holidays on the same days.

Anyway...this isn't meant to be a pity party.
This isn't a "I hate the Holidays" blog.
This is a "How can I get into the Holiday Spirit" blog entry.... 
So how shake off the Ebenezer and put on the Kriss Kringle cap?

Browsing the web I came across University of Maryland Medical Center's website has tips on how to "Beat the Holiday Blues" - their tips were:

- Delegate: Try not to do it all yourself. Easier said than done. I'm kind of a control freak (*shush* no comments from the peanut gallery please). When I'm cooking - Get out of my kitchen! When I'm putting away groceries - Get out of my kitchen! (do you see a theme?) I do try though. But really I was raised to believe it's just better do it yourself because you know it'll be done the way you want it. 

- Spend Some Time Alone: Take a breather. Find a quiet space to relax and charge. Oh don't worry! When it comes to alone time I do the best I can (hard when you live in a teeny-tiny condo with three other people but I try). I have to say that's one thing I miss from living in the Bay Area of CA. I lived in a part of town that I could just walk outdoors and go somewhere. Yes, I live in a large city but on the outskirts where getting anywhere takes an hour. But like I said I do what I can. 

- Let Go of the Past: Life brings changes. Don't dwell on the past. Again it's something I try to do. I know that change happens and usually (in the end) it's for the best. Even though the beginning of this blog talked about past holidays and the events that made them not the best...I go into each holiday season hoping for the best. Adding a new cookie to the list of Christmas cookies (baking makes me happy), putting the decorations up a little early, going to season celebrations, etc. Looking forward to the new year and the new opportunities that might come with it. 

-Don't Drink too Much.  Not too worry. Yes I can toss them back every once and a while but when I'm down I stay away from the alcohol.  Don't want to be telling Great Aunt Stella how her orange lipstick makes her look like a $2 hooker. 

-Give Yourself a Break: Don't think in Absolute terms. There's nothing I hate more than absolutes. "You never", "you always", etc but I know we all tend to do this sometimes. "I'm not a good artist" or "I can't cook" can bring down our own self esteem without even realizing it.  And I've worked hard over the years to stop and be a bit easier on myself. 

Now while I respect the medical profession none of these are sparking a "OH YEA!!" type feeling inside. I don't expect to go home tonight and jump up and down that I only have two weeks until the holidays are right on top of me. 

I will try. 

I will continue to walk with my head held high when walking through downtown looking at all the window displays. I'll continue to bake bake bake. I'll go to the Pittock Mansion this weekend and admire the antique designs. I'll visit the Oakland zoo's Zoolights. And appreciate the special time I have with my family. 

Hopefully somewhere in all of this the Scrooge inside of me will wake up and embrace the Christmas Cheer.