You Know Yourself

                                              What I Learned On My Month Long Vacation

Truthfully, not very much. I have been working non stop since I started working at the age of 14. I somewhat assumed that taking an entire month off would be some kind of transformative, life altering experience in which I would come back a completely different person. I would be tan and skinny and work out every day and have written a book and two screenplays and have become a quiet recluse of a person and may even be conflicted about what kind of work I should be doing. Clearly this was a lofty goal, but with so much free time on my hands, I really thought that some of this could happen. Now let me tell you what actually happened.

Skinny

I’m not sure how I thought going from running around twelve hours a night to laying around twelve hours a day would result in weight loss. Did I think I was going to run on the beach or something? I super hate running and my favorite beach activity has proven to be reading and drinking gin and tonics out of a can. ( Ballast Point makes them and they are delicious.) I also envisioned drinking green juice every day and only eating seafood. I even brought my nutri bullet! However, I think I made more margaritas with it than juice and the majority of the seafood I have eaten has come in taco form. Every single day. I learned that no matter where I am, eating and drinking are always a guilty pleasure for me, and that I pretty much live my life rooted in guilty pleasures.

Tan

Burn. I apparently cannot properly apply sunscreen which caused a series of stripey, patchy random squares of burn all over me. It looks ridiculous.

Work Out Everyday

I downloaded some videos from my gym and figured that I would wake up and do one every day. I have done a few, but most of the time hammock nap won. Is golf cart driving considered cardio? If it is, I did great at that. My drunken handstands definitely improved, which you can see on my Facebook when I accidentally posted a video to my personal page instead of the gym’s page. Handstand = straight, Jess= tipsy. I learned that I am not self motivated enough to make myself workout which is why I go to the gym and pay other people to make me do it. I also learned that drinking and Facebooking can lead to posting pictures of yourself doing handstands in your bathing suit. which is cute if you are six, not so much when you are thirty-six.

Writing

I thought that with all of this free time I would become a little writing machine. The truth is that I wrote a couple of these blogs, some short stories that I am happy with and a whole lot of garbage.I did a lot of reading, and a lot of research and am just now, in my last couple of days, figuring out what it is that I want to write. Luckily, I also learned that I can bang out one of these things in about an hour, and that all of time I spent complaining that I don’t have enough time to write was just me procrastinating and being too afraid to try.

Quiet Recluse of a Person

I had imagined how it would feel to be alone every day, quiet, not talking to anyone. I do have a very reclusive side and I thought this would be almost like a zen experience for me. Just kidding. I spent a total of about four days here alone. I had a constant stream of visitors and it was awesome. I loved sharing this experience and this beautiful place with the people that I love, just like I do all of the time. The memories I have with my friends are far more important ( and much funnier ) than the ones that I have of my time alone. I loved sitting around a fire pit talking with my friends, just like I like to do at home. (Sidenote, on one of these said,” alone,” nights I actually got day drunk with the townies at the local dive bar and leaned all of their names.) I learned that no matter where I go, my friends will always be with me, and if they aren’t, I will force strangers to be my friends. This story leads me to my last point……

Work

I love working and I love my job. I found myself having bartender envy the last couple of times I have gone out , watching everyone work and itching to get back there. I watch the staff interact with each other and I miss my team so much. ( You guys, we are so much funnier than anyone else.)  I was a little worried that a part of me wouldn’t want to go back, that I would have some kind of epiphany about what I do for a living. It has been really nice to have a break from that crazy place, but I have learned that I am actually the head crazy and I can’t wait to go back to that monkey zoo.( Kurt Fuhrman, you can relax now.)

So basically what I learned is that I am who I am. Changing location does not change the core of me, and nothing really ever will. I am okay with that. I also learned that I am really happy with the little life that I have created and I can’t wait to get back to it. That, by far, has been the most important thing that I have taken away from this experience. Now excuse me while I spend my last couple of days eating as many fish tacos as I possibly can while drinking gin out of a can on the beach. See you in Colorado 🙂

Enjoy What You Love

Sounds simple right? I have noticed that a lot of people, myself included, have trouble slowing down and having fun with the things that they enjoy the most. I took a month off to come down to San Diego, for a vacation, but also because I wanted to give myself a chance to write. I bartend for a living and I love it. It can be physically demanding, but more often than not it is emotionally draining as well. It can be hard to be overly needed by people who are drinking for twelve hours in a row. This often leads me to have a hard time doing anything creative in my free time. So I was really looking forward to coming down here and had envisioned that all of this downtime and not working would lead to a deluge of writing. I have managed to get a couple of things down but I have definitely spent a lot of time procrastinating, making excuses and staring at an empty screen. Is this what writers block feels like? Then I would beat myself up, feeling like I was failing. I haven’t written a thing in three days. This morning, after spending a few hours trying to decided what I should write, I gave up. Then I pulled out some journals, some writing prompts and some games, and I had a lot of fun. Because I don’t write because I have to, I write because I want to. I write because I love writing. I was making the thing that I love way too serious and forgetting to enjoy it. Writing for a living would be a dream come true but it might be really stressful too. For now I am going to enjoy the fact that my hobby is not my job and stop putting pressure on myself. This is all that I am going to write today because its all that I feel like writing. And now I am going to go to the beach, do cartwheels in the sand and inappropriately day  drink wine because I am on vacation and I intend to enjoy what I am doing, and not spend my time worrying about what I’m not.

Getting Older is Fucking Awesome

Life is a journey and we are constantly growing and learning and trying to be better. It is amazing that every experience shapes us into the person that we end up becoming. That being said, the older I get, the less I care about certain things, and it feels awesome. Here are some things that I care way fucking less about.

I care much less about offending other people.

I love a lot of people and I believe in letting people lives their lives and being respectful of their thoughts, feelings and opinions. However, that means that I retain my right to these privileges as well. I am a twenty year restaurant veteran and I say all of the things. I am not very ladylike or appropriate and if you can’t handle hearing all of the perverse things that run through my head, you can go fuck yourself.

I care much less about admitting my flaws

I have come in to the place where I now know myself well enough to own the things that are,”wrong” with me. I am a loudmouth, I say uncouth things ( see above ), I am very go with the flow, unless the flow is not going how I want. I’m passively bossy and can turn cold as soon as I don’t like what’s happening. I drink and swear just a little too much. These are not the most endearing of qualities and I am aware of that, but now instead of trying to hide these faults or cover them up with some sort of lame excuse, I can just say, “Sorry, I’m just like that.” Hopefully my good qualities are enough for people to put up with the bad ones. And if they aren’t, then adios motherfucker.

I care much less about what people think

The best thing about really getting to know yourself is that other people’s opinions about you don’t seem to matter as much. You think I’m unattractive? I don’t remember asking you to be the judge of that. Don’t make out with me. You think I talk too much? Don’t listen. You think my writing sucks? Don’t read it. You don’t like the conversation I’m having? Move. I am not here to please all people in lieu of pleasing myself.

The less I care about being a , “Put together person”

There is a lot of pressure of people to present a, “put together,” persona. We are expected to look be healthy, stylish and impossibly fresh all while multi tasking, kicking ass and taking names. Sometimes I don’t want to wear makeup and I barely care what I wear. I like my face free of make up, my hair unbrushed. I like my hoodie and jeans. I like wearing flip flops with a beanie. ( I grew up in California and I live in Colorado. It’s a look. ) I will never let my feet hurt to wear a pair of cute shoes. I don’t always kick ass, sometimes I want to day drink instead of adulting. Sometimes I sleep in instead of going to the gym. I have put together a fairly put together life, but that is an exhausting front to put up every day.

The less I care about my, “Reputation”

What is that anyways? Something that people who barely know you tell people that don’t know you? “Her reputation is that…” ( Insert douchey voice here.) People who know me know who I am and what I stand for. I don’t much care for the opinions of strangers. Talk all day long if that’s what makes you happy. I’ll be over here leading my awesome life.

The less I care about a tan

I am white. Caspar white. I would be a great IV drug user, my arms look like little road maps for heroin fun. I look like inside out girl. It is unfortunate given my Italian and Portuguese heritage, but it is what it is. I like to be in the sun because it feels good, but I will be wearing SPF 50. This is the only skin I am going to get and I will keep it a nice glowy white, like an LED lightbulb.

The less I say yes

I used to suffer from the FOMO ( fear of missing out ) but I care way less about that now. I have seen all of things and then some, probably too much if we are being honest. I still get a wild hare up my ass sometimes and stay out too late, but only when I want to, not when someone else wants me to. If I don’t want to do something , I can just say no. At least once a month.

The less I care about Status

I went to a good college. Most of my friends are lawyers and doctors and firefighters and own their own companies and have kids and cars and things. I make drinks and write dirty jokes and sometimes inspiring things while drinking wine out of a plastic cup so that I don’t break it. I am proud to say I’m a bartender, I love going to work and I work with some of the kindest, funniest people in the world. Happiness is all of the status that I need. I will remember this next time I am telling a middle age man that he cannot drink any more pink shots or picking up someones underwear up off of the floor. That’s fucking status.

The less I care about being right

Ahhhhhh fuck it, I still care about this one. But now I know how to quietly enjoy it instead of acknowledging it. I think that’s a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading my little rant, I would love to hear what everyone else cares less about if you want to chime in.

 

 

 

What Do You Want to Be?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a question that we are asked and expected to answer as soon as we are able to speak, and will continue to be asked and ask ourselves for the duration of our lives. My dad likes to say that he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, and he is retired. This question almost always pertains to occupation. Since on average we will spend almost one third of our lives working, this is technically a fair application of the question.But even with all of this working, how much of our personal identity is wrapped up in our occupation?

Status and occupation are intrinsically linked by societal expectations. When someone states what they do for a living, we can make certain assumptions about them, albeit stereotypical. Stereotypes exist in a small faction of the truth and whether you believe in them or not, most of us them to try to understand other people’s motivations, skills and lifestyle. Stating your occupation is way to give a snapshot of who you are in just a word or two. These simple words carry an enormous amount of information. Doctor, cop, garbageman, poet….. These words immediately conjour up four very different expectations of what these people and their lives are like. Start adding race and sex into the mix and your snapshot focuses even more specifically. A lot of times we just have jobs and not careers, but even the way in which we choose to make a living can still be a clue to our personality, even if the clue is is based in the fact that we hate what we are doing as a job.

So if this is the answer to, “What do we want to be?” one third of the time, what is the answer for the other two thirds? How would we answer that question? Happy, thoughtful, kind, healthy, intelligent, loving, well rounded, traveled, interesting? What do we want the other two thirds of our life to look like? I’m sure that almost everyone would have happy somewhere on that list, but what does that entail? Happiness is in the eye of the beholder and everyone’s idea of what that means is different. Everyone’s happiness lies in a very personal reality. So how closely aligned are these two worlds? If you are happy at work, does the rest of your life follow suit? If you are miserable at work, can you still be happy in the other parts of your life? How much does one ultimately affect the other? There is wisdom in the adage ,”If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life,” but that opportunity only seems to come to a select few. I am a bartender and a writer and I love both of those things, but I definitely work. I happily take whatever stereotypes you want to attach to either one of these occupations because I’m sure that some of them definitely apply. I also know that what I do does make up a certain facet of who I am, but that who I want to be, a thoughtful, happy, well rounded human being lies completely within me and that my occupation is important but ultimately has little to do with it.

Creative Solutions

A very wise boss of mine once told me never to bring a problem to the table without at least an idea of a solution. This piece of advice has always stuck with me as a practice in life and work. Nobody just wants to hear problems dumped on them all of the time and you are much more likely to be granted added responsibilities and respect for showing some initiative. I recently had to put this into practice when my month long vacation of solitude and writing seemed to turning into a month long stream of visitors, entertaining and partying, which is just a little close to my everyday life. I started to feel overwhelmed and upset for not getting the time that I needed and also for not standing up for myself and asking for it. I then thought of that advice and realized that if I was having a problem, instead of whining and complaining about it, what could my solutions be?

First off, I am so lucky to have so many people in my life who want to be around me. This is a gift, not a problem and is just an opportunity to find a creative solution to my worries. I did come down here to be creative right? So I started brainstorming to find a way that I can still enjoy this beautiful city with my friends and I decided that I have to do something that I am not very good at doing, setting boundaries and saying no. Not all of the time, just sometimes. Being an all or nothing person, this may not be easy but it is an opportunity to learn and grow. So my dear friends that are coming to visit, (which I truly am so excited about!!) you are just going to have to excuse me for a few hours a day. You will also have to participate. We are going to drink wine and play writing games and you have to read what I am writing and give feedback and share quiet time with me. There is no one else I would like to be around me while I am accomplishing my goals, to encourage and support me than the people who are willing to travel to see me. ( I’m sure that the beach, fire pit and hot tub have nothing to do with this.) Friend love is a true love and I can’t wait to frolic on the beach with you guys, eat fish tacos, sit around the fire pit with wine and make you do some work!! That sounds like a pretty bad ass solution to me.

The Art of Being Solitary

My gracious loving parents just spent an incredibly tedious drive down to see me, two long days of driving to spend only one day together. This is the smallest example of all of the enormous sacrifices that they have made, and continue to make, for their family. I could not have been raised by more supportive, loving and just genuinely cool people and I am always so grateful to them for giving me such an incredible life. It is in this spirit that I want to revisit one of the best pieces of advice ever given to me by my dad.

I was probably about 25 and had just gone through a particularly painful breakup that left me not only heartbroken but also pretty broke. As I sat in my chair, ( the only piece of furniture that I had ) in my empty apartment, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness. The empty echo of my industrial style apartment was akin to the hollowness that I was experiencing. Suddenly concrete and exposed pipes seemed much less, “cool,” and much more cold.

I walked around like that for awhile, partying and working too much, and thinking way too little. Staying out way too late because I didn’t know how to go home to an empty house. Then I got a card from my dad. It was a picture of a little girl pushing a car from behind, with a “Don’t give up,” sort of message on the front. Inside was a note from him telling me to be strong and that they loved me and then the words that still hang out in my head all of the time, “It’s okay to be alone.There is a big difference between being lonely and being solitary.” Those words struck me in a very profound way because I realized that I was so busy being lonely that I wasn’t learning how to be alone. I started to shift my mental space and instead of focusing on being sad to be alone, I started to look for the reasons that I liked it. I started to like the idea of making my own decisions, without asking someone else what they thought I should do. I became a much better problem solver and learned how to own my own mistakes. I started to wake up and instead of wondering what to do with myself, I focused on what I could do. I really explored what it was like to be alone, and I let myself be uncomfortable with it, until I wasn’t anymore. I would go on long runs alone without music and let me thoughts consume me, coming home and reading and not talking to anyone else. I learned how to go through my emotions and feel them, but also how logically manage them.

The definition of solitary is, ” Separate from other people or things.” I let that idea wash over me, understanding that no matter how many wonderful people are around you, no matter how many things you accrue, at the end of the day, you and you alone are responsible for your own thoughts and journey and feelings. Learning how to be fully comfortable with being alone is not only an important skill but an incredible gift. I know that I now find myself craving that time, needing time to recenter and recharge. Which is why I left my parents, even though they are only here for one day, to come and write this. And now, it’s probably time to go buy my dad a beer. Cheers