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A Flowering Canoe

My official last day at Starbucks was Friday. I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone by; but even more unbelievable is how much I’ve changed. When I first started working at Starbucks I was this timid person with a bad case of anxiety and I don’t know how I managed to survive the first month. I felt like I should quit every day because of how stressful it was, but somehow I managed to push through and I’m really glad I did. Next week I’m going away to school, and instead of being nervous about it I’m actually kind of ok with the whole idea. I recently decided it was time for me to stop being so reserved and have a little more fun with my life. I’ve always been a very stoic person, with a fixed personality and a tendency to judge people a little too harshly. I’m not saying I’m any less judgmental, but I think Starbucks definitely help bring down that wall I’d had up for so long. I had fun almost every day at work, and even when I was bored I was still glad to be doing something.

Since it was my last day, and I was closing with my best friend in the store (the assistant manager), we decided to try and beat my record closing time of 25 minutes. The schedule always gives us 45 minutes to close, but during those 45 minutes you’re not earning any labor for the store because no customers are coming in. So the faster you close, the more hours are available for people during the day time. I had gotten into an argument with a coworker earlier this week who no one likes because she’s got a horrible attitude, and she critiqued the way I closed because I did things that hindered work during the hour before we close the store. She would rather we leave everything until after we close, than do things early and have to change the way we move in the store for a short time. She was part of the reason I wanted to beat my closing time of 25 minutes. As if breaking the record wasn’t challenge enough, we got a new person in 3 weeks ago and he’s still too new to fully understand what we have to do in the store. I wrote him a list and he’s actually pretty fast (he closes in 35 minutes) but I still have to take time to explain things to him and that slows me down. I decided to close bar side (the side that makes the drinks) because that’s my fastest side and I knew the new guy would get help from our assistant manager with the other side of the store. Can you guess how long it took us to close the store? A whole 15 minutes. It’s the fastest close of any other employees on staff.

I know its something silly, but I honestly feel so proud knowing that I started that job with the self confidence of a naked mole rat and ended up being genuinely the best barista that store has seen. Customers were hugging me goodbye and wishing me well all week, and I even got a “we’re all proud of you” from the coworker everyone hates (though I learned later there were ulterior motives for her). This job was one that went against all of my beliefs and in the end it made me a stronger person with more skills and an even sharper wit. I’m sorry if this post sounds arrogant, but I really haven’t had too much to be proud of in my life and this job was one that made a huge impact on my life.

I’m truly hopeful that it’s given me the tools to succeed in this next stage of my life. I’ve only got a week left before I have to be properly moved into my new place, and before school starts up. I’ll be in a completely different part of the state, with no ties to anyone, and nothing holding me back except for myself. I often dream about living in a world where the only thing holding me back is my imagination, and I was so busy with that concept I overlooked that I was holding myself back in every other way. This new school might be a challenge, but if there’s anything I’ve learned this summer its that nothings impossible. I juggled two jobs and was working 60 hour weeks without days off at one point this summer! 2 years ago I could barely bring myself to do yard work!

Oh, I forgot to mention. I cut all of my hair off. It hasn’t been this short since I was in elementary school. When my aunt saw it she actually had to get some pictures of me as a toddler out because I haven’t had my hair shorter than 4 inches my entire life. The edges and back are shorter, but the top is about three inches long and still has some curl to it. I’ve got a lot more freedom with this style. And today my mom and I went shopping, so I’ve got a few new clothes for school. I bought a pair of red pants even. If you knew me in real life, you’d know that red pants are something I’ve never been up for. I’ve actually always hated the color red. I decided it was time for a change though, with me moving out and going to a new school, and getting a new job (not sure what yet) and finding new friends. Why not wear something I’ve never worn before? Get a haircut I’ve never had? My life is in a state of such chaos that it’s actually not even scary. I’ve got more opportunities today than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I finally have enough confidence to go and utilize them.

I always said 19 would be the hardest age for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I actually kind of promised myself it would be, in that way I have of promising things. I know this is going to sound silly, but if I set my mind to it, I usually can get things to happen the way I want. Things I don’t even have control over. I like to joke with people about being able to cast spells, which I don’t do in such an artistic way, but I do like to think I have a certain sway over things if I empty my mind and frame a thought a certain way. “To think without thinking”, if you remember me talking about that from years ago when I was rereading the Eragon series, haha. What I’m getting at is that when I was younger, 14 or 15 perhaps, I decided 19 would be the year I struggled with the most. Whatever I faced before then, whatever I faced afterword (if I survived it), nothing would be as bad as the year I was 19. I think about this a lot, because I really almost didn’t make it through to my 20th birthday. There was nothing special about being 20 as far as I was concerned, it was all just about not being 19. So over the years, as I thought about what my life would be like and what growing up might mean for me, I half-consciously “cast a spell” on that year. Or rather, a curse. If we’re being honest, I’m actually better with curses than I am with spells. If you can even call what I’m doing by thinking a certain way about the world “magic”. I only really call it that because I have no other word for it, and it sounds so much more fun to me than anything else I can think of.

19 was my cursed year, in which I would be tested to the point of breaking, and if I made it through I would be happier. That’s the curse I set for myself. I can’t tell you why I did this, and I knew it was going to be hard, but at the time it sounded like a good idea, and having made it through I really don’t think it was all that bad of a plan. Survive one year of misery and live the rest of your life knowing you can weather anything. I’m not saying the years before being 19 were easy, because they were only slightly less terrible than being 19, but I can say that 19 was the hardest age for me without a doubt. It was kind of like tempering steel really. I’ve started rambling a bit, haven’t I? And worst of all I’ve lost my train of thought.

What I’m trying to get at is that I think the worst is behind me, and that I’m extremely thankful for everything this summer brought to me. Before now I felt like a lost little canoe, caught on a rock in a great wide river. Unable to move, crushed under the weight of the passing water. But now I’ve dislodged from that rock and there’s nothing holding me back. With paddle in hand, I go bravely forward into uncharted waters confident in myself but willing to change. A flower who has been hindered by the passing storm, but whose brilliance bursts forth in the sun that follows.

This Is A Crows World

Part of going away to Evergreen for school means that I have to read a simple book they sent me in the mail. It’s called Crow Planet, and its pretty boring. At just over 220 pages long, you think it would be an easy read. I found it to be a little dry, and not anywhere near as motivational as the cover had me thinking it would be. It’s a short, semi-biographical piece about a woman (the author, obviously) who becomes depressed after she realizes her life isn’t what she would’ve hoped, and finds herself feeling disconnected from the earth after she moves into the city to support her husbands career. I hope you forgive the lengthy sentences. I’ve just finished reading this book and it was full of sentences half a page long. While rather lacking a significant motivational component (at least for me anyway), the book did have a section near the end that did a good job of stirring up my thoughts. It covered the death of crows, and also the reminder that crows represent to humans. To be honest, I never really notice crows. I know they’re one of the more intelligent creatures we’ve come across, but they never piqued my interest the way they do some other people. My mother certainly loves them, and would keep one as a companion if she could. Anyway, this little paragraph, only a few pages from the end of the book, made me think about death. The death of crows, to begin with, but, as was the goal of the author, about my own death as well.

I will be the first to admit that I regularly get so caught up in my own simple life that I regularly forget to live it. I spent this summer so completely entrenched in work that I never had any time for fun. And what did all of those hours of work really earn me? Am I any better off having completed them? I for all the hundreds of hours I worked this weekend, I earned only a few thousand dollars. Not enough to live off of, and certainly not enough to pay off the college loans I have yet to take out. And how often did I enjoy myself during this time? Was I ever really happy? My time at starbucks was fun, once I got the hang of things, but the amount of waste was still something that weighed on me every day. I certainly didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment at the end of every day. The only thing that seems to have kept me going was my sense of duty. Both of my parents work incessantly, so that’s kind of the only model I’ve got to go off of. Crow Planet seems to have awakened in me the fact that working incessantly isn’t the only way of living ones life.

It also made me realize what a fantastic opportunity I have by going away to school. I won’t have a single acquaintance in the city when I go to school. My closest friends will be 2 hours away, and I’ll be entirely alone. A year ago this idea would’ve probably scared me, and it does scare me a little, to be honest. But for the moment this truth gives me a kind of hope. I have a great opportunity to change my life. I can meet new people who will help me do whatever it is I want to do in life. I can actually decide if I want to know what I want to do in life. I can make good impressions, work (not so hard) in school and earn the respect of my teachers. I’m hoping that the resulting culture shock will also help get rid of some of my meaner tendencies. I do try very hard to be nice sometimes, but things invariably come out mean. Just last week I was talking with a coworker about a show that is based off of a comic book series in Japan, and the tone of my voice slipped into a tone of derision while I asked him a question without my meaning to. I sounded like I was calling him stupid in a way that didn’t even make sense, just because my tone was wrong. Social blunders like these seem to happen a lot to me. I’ve actually started reading a book for personal reasons, titled something like “the 5 languages of love”. The book explains that there are 5 languages with which people communicate their feelings of love, and teaches you how to better communicate utilizing the knowledge of how all 5 work. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but it seems very interesting. I’m hoping it will help me better communicate with people in general, and increase my threshold for compassion. 

For now though I need to go to sleep. I just got very tired all of the sudden and I have to work (surprise) tomorrow. I can’t believe its already September!

The Month I Got 4 Days Off

I finally have a chance to sit for long enough to properly collect my thoughts, and I figured it was time I wrote an update. This month has by far been the busiest month of my summer, and last week was my busiest week. I worked close to 60 hours last week and the week before, and haven’t had a day off since the first of the month. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted for several days last week, but now that the end of it all is in sight I’m feeling almost optimistic. In the midst of all of that work I found a place to live just five minutes from school. I get to share a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, house with 5 other people, and my room is 15×20. I had to go see the house one day after work, and the owner seemed very interesting. I still have to send him a check to cover my first month and deposit. I filled out the paperwork but don’t have the right sized envelope to fit everything in.

As work continues to slow down for me I’m starting to realize how much of my summer I completely wasted. I grew a few things in my garden, and my new rain garden is starting to look better. I just feel like I wasn’t home enough to play with my dogs. When I get home I’m too physically tired to want to go and play, and this year our lawn seems to have withered even more than usual so that it really is just sand in some places. I’m going to be off in a week, so I might try and get some compost to spread out on top of it. I was hoping to reseed it this year, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time. I hate lawns, but it really would be better than the sandpit we currently have. I just feel sorry for my dogs. They’re honestly the only reason I consider not going to school. Once I leave they pretty much won’t be played with at all. My mom never has the energy for them, and with winter coming up they won’t get to be outside much anyway.

All of these changes are starting to make me feel a kind of melancholy. I’m sad that things are moving me away from my dogs, and regret not getting them out of the house more. There were just some nights where I could barely get myself from my car to the house, let alone sit outside and play with them for a few hours to get them tired. I’m also a little nervous about what the future will bring me. I’ve never done anything so drastic before, but I’ve certainly never been more prepared to do this than I am now. I always told myself that 19 would be the hardest age for me. I made it a kind of ‘curse to be broken’ when I was younger. The impossible age. And it was. My depression and anxiety were at their highest, and most days I could barely function. There were few days I didn’t contemplate suicide, and spent most of my time thinking about how I might commit it. I told myself if I could get through that year then I could get through anything. This year has been easy by contrast, and my exhaustion is now from working hard instead of battling my inner demons. They still rear their ugly heads occasionally, but somehow they aren’t ever as scary as they were in years past. Now my biggest issue is doubt. I often hope for the best, but I’m always filled with doubts about the success of the future. And I’m always concerned about whether I’ll ever be good enough.

Even with the worst of my depression behind me, I still feel like there’s something wrong with me. There’s something lurking just around the corner in my brain, something I’ve always struggled with, but haven’t yet faced. I can’t figure out what it is, so I’m not sure what to do to fix it. I have started meditating maybe once or twice a month. Its a nice way to stay grounded during all of the chaos that my summer has been. I just feel uncertain. Lost, confused, overwhelmed, inexperienced. Like every part of me shifted an inch to the left while I was sleeping, and now I can’t find anything. And probably worst of all is that I don’t feel like I have the time to deal with any of it. I have the first week of september off. I think I’ll spend most of that time moving, but I’ll also have to do a lot of driving, and the silence of the car is as good a place as any to sort out ones immediate life I think.

Anyway, I have to go get ready for work now. I’m so tired of working. Starbucks has taught me a lot, and certainly worked wonders bringing me out of my shell, but the people I work with are starting to drive me insane. The ‘office drama’ is wearing me down, and with the end in sight I’m letting it get to me a little more than I should. I just need to learn to appreciate what I’ve got I think. My life hasn’t been easy, but things aren’t going horribly for a change, and the future certainly looks bright. And I suppose I really am grateful for that. 

Somehow another week has gone by. This summer has been the fastest of my life. I wish I had gotten more done, but there just hasn’t been time! I worked yesterday, and today is the only day off I get for the next two weeks. I still haven’t found a place to live, and I’m running out of time. I feel like I blink and all of the sudden another day has gone by. I’m getting a little worried about what I’m going to do for a place to live, so today I plan on spending a fair amount of time just writing letters to ads online.

Anyway! I just wanted to post a picture of the sunset last night! My mom and I decided to walk to the grocery store and this is the view we got on the way!

photo 2 photo 3

The Housing Hunt Continues

Part of going away to school means that I now have to find somewhere else to live. I opted out of life on campus because I really don’t like the idea of living with 4 other people who I know nothing about, and who, more than likely, are several years behind me maturity wise. I sent out a couple of emails to listings I found on craigslist last night. For my non-american readers, its a website where you can list anything and everything you have for sale/are looking to buy. I heard back from one of them today, and he asked if he could give me a call. He had a hyper masculine deep voice, and sounded really slow. The first thing he told me was that he was “recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning from the night before” and that he hadn’t eaten all day so he was a little loopy. This pretty much told me right away that I wasn’t going to be living here. He proceeded to cook himself a meal made from potatoes that were growing in his garden while he asked me a few questions, and we spent a good 10 minutes talking about beekeeping. The main reason I responded to his ad was because he talked about gardening as one of his main interests, and even reducing rent each month if I was willing to do consistent yard work, which I absolutely am. He also wanted to get bees and had even built his own top bar hive, so naturally I talked to him about that.

After I finished giving him all sorts of tips about beekeeping (though he barely understood the difference between his top bar system and a traditional vertical hive setup) he wanted to ask me “a personal question”. He wanted to know if I was gay, since I do have a pretty feminine voice most of the time, and when I told him I was he confessed to being uncomfortable with the idea of me living with him. The way he talked about it you’d think I was lying next to him trying to coherence him into having sex with me. I politely sat through his very ignorant speech about how uncomfortable he thought living with me would be, and said I completely understood that living with someone who made you uncomfortable wouldn’t be pleasant (I was talking about how I felt about living with him, but he was too stupid to know that) and that I would just keep looking for a place to live. I thanked him for getting back to me quickly and wished him well with his beekeeping endeavors.

Honestly, during the conversation I was completely calm about everything. But things like that always drain the energy right out of me and really shake my self confidence. I’ve been doing really well these last few months. I’ve only had a few pockets of depression here and there, and I’ve come to really enjoy working at Starbucks. I’m just as good as anyone else who works there now, and because the person who used to train people moved to a different store, I might be the one to train new hires. Which I kind of find exciting. I’m looking forward to going back to school to earn my BA, but finding a place to live just sounds so daunting. And I’m gonna miss my dogs terribly. I really want to bring one of them down but I’m not sure if it’s going to be an option.

I often forget that people aren’t as nice as they seem when you’re handing them a cup of coffee. I wish I could just live alone somewhere. People are so exhausting. 

I’ve almost finished my rain garden! Tuesday and Wednesday were days I had off, so I spent all of Tuesday hauling compost. I brought in 3 pickup trucks full that day (I borrowed my uncles truck), which means a total of 4 have been brought into my garden. Everyone assures me that there’s no way the pickup truck is a full yard, but I had the office woman at the compost facility come out and look at it and she assured me it was. Anyway! Here are some pictures of the rain garden so far!

I really really like it! And it’s actually been really cheap so far. Here’s a little list to give an idea of what this project involved.

Plants: $5. I only bought one plant for this garden specifically, almost everything else was relocated from around my garden. Some plants (a couple of red flowering currants, a sedge and a bunching grass, some sea holly, and a plant called serasiformis) were collected from/donated by the garden where I intern. 

Compost: 3 yards. Cost: $90.

Rocks: Large rocks were donated by my grandpa and transported by my cousins. All small rocks were collected from the excavation site.

Decorative branches: donated by my aunt

Use of uncles truck: $73 in gas (I didn’t use that much gas to haul compost, but that’s what it cost to fill his tank since it was almost empty when I got it). $5 carwash.

Time: honestly I haven’t been keeping track of the hours very much simply because I was working on this every spare minute that I had. I would guess that I spent probably 100 hours on this so far. Digging up the lawn took several days, and getting the dirt out took a couple of weeks. I spent all of tuesday working on it, and several hours on wednesday.

Total cost? $173. 100 hours of work.

All that I have left to do is cover the raised edges with wood chips and fill in the shallow area with the pebbles I collected from the excavation. I was reading through my rain garden book and it said that rain garden soil has sand in it, so I might mix in a little bit of the old dirt that I have still. It’ll help get rid of it and improve drainage. I think I missed that page on my first read through, haha.

Oh, and here’s a list of the plants I used, incase you’re interested.

Mock orange, lady fern, red osier dogwood, red flowering currant, several varieties of sedges, a bunching variety of grass I don’t know the name of, oregon iris, costal strawberries, common camas, salal, hardy fuscia, sea holly, and a small flowering bulb I believe is called morning star.

The majority of these plants are native and will provide food and shelter for dozens of species of birds and insects. I’m hoping the increased shady “wetland” will also encourage frogs. I don’t really expect to see those until I get a pond set up, but that’s a different project that might have to wait for a year or two. 

I’ll post more pictures once the project is completely finished!

Oh and here’s a picture of Buttercup impatiently waiting for me to finish my breakfast this morning.

That picture also shows our newly refurbished couch! The darker purple on the arm is the real color of the couch, with the lighter stuff just being some sheets we through on it to protect it while we get a real slip cover. My mom really likes the color purple. We currently have a purple house, a purple couch, purple drapes, and purple asparagus, purple brussels sprouts, and several variety of purple flowers growing in the garden. My mom also has purple nails at the moment, haha,

 

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