Swimming in the Deep End

There were two significant events in my young life that lead to my fear of swimming.  Oddly, I only have specific memories of one, though I know the other to be true as well.

When I was in the neighborhood of three years old, my father and his wife took the three of us, my brother, sister and me, on a trip to the Northeast.  I can’t honestly say for certain now, whether we were in New York City or Atlantic City.  I feel as though we went to both places on this trip.  No matter.  I remember, surprisingly vividly, walking along the beach one evening.  It was dark, or nearly so.  We all had our shoes off and we walked in the surf, feeling the cold Atlantic waters pressing against our legs as they washed over our feet and rolled back out again.  I was small, as we tend to be at that age.  The waters came a little bit higher on me than on everyone else, and I remember feeling in equal amounts fear from the pounding pressure that knocked against me, pushing me out of my steps, and joy at the experience of being at the beach, near the ocean, wet feet squishing into the sand as we walked.  Given that I was smaller than everyone else, it was no surprise when the unexpectedly large wave came along and knocked me right to the ground.  Nor was it a surprise when the wave washed fully over me and began to drag me back out as it made its hasty retreat.  It seemed like an eternity passed to my young, scared, oxygen deprived mind.  But before I knew it, I felt a strong hand on my back followed by the force against my body as the waves continued to pull and the drenched t-shirt I was wearing became the handle by which my father pulled me back to shore, out of the water, and to safety.  Immediately, I was in tears and I was coughing and sputtering as I sobbed the words, “The ocean tried to kill me.”  (Yes, I’ve been prone to over-dramatization since I was a wee young lad.)  Of course there was some truth that claim.  As we all know, tides are unpredictable, and if my father hadn’t pulled me out of the waves when he did, I could easily have been dragged out to sea and might never have been seen alive again.

At some point probably not long after that experience, I was at my father’s apartment complex during one of our week-end visits.  Apparently, we were out by the pool in his complex (when I say “we” I’m not certain what that really means.  I do not know if my siblings were around.  I do not know if my father’s wife was around.  I do not even know why we were near the pool.), and somehow I fell into the water.  I could not have been more than four or five years old.  Once again, my father was right there, and immediately pulled me to safety.

By then the damage was done.  For many years, I was afraid of water.  Period.  I was even afraid of the water in the bathtub.  After some time, and some forced bathing requirements, my fears began to subside somewhat.  I stopped fearing the water entirely.  I came into possession of a life support vest and I spent some time in swimming pools.  Always with he life vest on.  Always staying on the shallow end.  I learned to like the water, the sensation of the liquid surrounding the body, offering some support, cooling the skin on a hot day.  But still, I always felt I was missing out on something.  Everyone else felt free to roam the pool.  They swam to the deep end.  They played games and ducked under the water.  They enjoyed themselves.  And all I could do was hang out in the shallow end, with my life vest giving me a wasted sense of security, and watch as everyone else had fun.

Over the years in my adult life, I’ve had conversations with people which have eventually lead to a revelation that I did not know how to swim.  People were always surprised and astounded that at my ripe old age of (whatever age it was at the time) I did not know how to swim.  Repeatedly, I’ve been told that I “need” to learn how to swim.  Yes, I live in California, and yes the beach is only a few miles away, but I don’t live there.  I live on dry ground.  Why did I need to learn to swim?  But they were right.

Last summer, I spent the Fourth of July at the house of a friend who lives in the central valley of Northern California.  The average temperature in the summer where he lives is about one meelleeon degrees (should be read in Doctor Evil’s voice with a pinky at the corner of your lips).  Pools are common back yard fixtures and welcomed!

It was while we were all hanging out in the pool, most of us sitting on the expansive steps, but a few lounging on floats, that I had a turning point.  I won’t bore you with too many unnecessary details (first time for everything) but at one point I made my way from the steps to one of the people on a float.  Just as I was reaching her location, I felt my right foot slide over the edge where the pool floor began its downward slant to the “deep end”, which I have since learned is only six feet.

I contained my anxiety and acted like everything was normal, but the truth is, as my foot slid over that edge, I felt my heart rate speed up and my chest tightened to the point of restricting my breath.  I was over come with fear at the prospect of getting into a section of the water in which I could not control my circumstances.  I finished my business and casually made my way back to the step where I stayed seated until we were ready to leave the pool and go inside.  I decided that weekend, it was time to do something about my weakness.

I couldn’t do it on my own though. I needed help.  I needed a guiding hand.  I needed someone who already knew how to swim, to help me learn to swim as well.  I perused the local community college course catalog and I found a beginning swimming class for adults.  Somewhat unexpectedly, I even recruited a friend to take the class with me.  It was nerve-wracking to be sure, but I learned to swim.  Of course the pool was only 4’6″ in the “deep end”, so it was comforting to know that anytime I was in trouble all I had to do was put my feet down and stand up…  Until the last week of the class when our instructor informed us that the pool we had been using for months was closed and we would be having class in what we all referred to as “the big pool”.  The big pool is where all the experienced swimmers swam.  The big pool is split into twelve lanes, not three.  The big pool is 6’9″ ON THE SHALLOW END.  It wasn’t easy climbing into that pool the first time, but I did it.  On the last night of class, our “final exam” was to jump from the diving board (roughly three feet from the surface of the water) into the pool, and swim to the side.  Once I was in and able to tread water and swim the length of the lane, it was not so bad.  I even jumped from the diving board…  once.  But getting into that water felt like I might as well be hurling myself off of a cliff.  For the first time in my life, I was in water I could not stand up in…  And I lived to tell the tale.

As children we have innumerable experiences that shape our lives.  We learn many lessons, both spoken and unspoken, deliberate and incidental.  In general, I feel that people do not give enough consideration to that fact, and because they don’t, children learn and internalize many things they would be better off never learning.

A while back, I wrote a post in which I admitted to a significant fear.  The fear was, in large part, due to lessons I learned as a young boy and on through my teenage years.  It’s the kind of fear that just compounds the longer it’s allowed to go unaddressed.  It’s the kind of thing which, if discussed with other people, would result in exclamations of “You’re 38 years old and you’ve never…”  “You need to…”  And I did need to.  But I lacked the skills and the resources to resolve the situation and over come the fear.  There were no courses in the community college course catalog for that particular skill.  I needed to be a bit more creative.  More recently, I wrote another, very cryptic post in which I alluded to seeking guidance and assistance in over-coming my fear.  And then I’ve been virtually silent since as I pondered my actions and deliberated the likely responses I would get in sharing those actions.  It was all I could think about, really.  What should I share?  How much should I share?  How specific should I be?  And as all those thoughts went round and round in my head over and over again, my fingers fell silent.  The blog was quiet.

For various reasons, I’ve decided not to share the details of my experience, at least not at this time.  Somethings might slip in here and there along the way.  I may come completely clean at some point in the future.  I may keep it all to myself for the rest of time.  But for now, all you need to know is that I found an instructor.  I went to class.  I over-came my fear of the water, and swam the length of the lanes.  I even jumped off the diving board and swam in the big pool…  And I lived to tell the tale.

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Being the Real Me

There is a certain amount of duality in every human beings life. There are the things we let the world see, and the things we keep quiet and out of sight. There are things we talk openly about and things we never talk to anyone about.

Sometimes that duality creates a separation that can be difficult to close again. When you build a reputation, a persona, based on the things you openly share, it can be very difficult, then, to open up about the things you don’t normally share.

Maybe that’s not even such a bad thing. The things you don’t normally share may not need to be shared. But what happens when you want to share those things? What happens when all you think about are the things you wouldn’t normally share?

The obvious answer is to share those things and not concern yourself with worries of how that sharing will impact peoples’ impressions, peoples’ opinions of you.

Easier said than done.

Conquering Fears

The only way to get over fear is to face it head on.  Easier said than done, to be sure.  With determination comes strength and courage.  Often, a controlled environment makes facing one’s fears more tenable.  Controlled environments can be like a stepping stone between a position of abject fear, and facing that of which one is afraid completely head-on.  It can be a process, but one which is well worth the struggle and the discomfort one faces along the way.

Sometimes, however, determination is not enough.  A helping hand is required.  A guide.  A mentor.  Someone who has already faced the things of which one is afraid.  Someone with whom one can build trust and therefore begin to face and experience the very things one has spent so many years fearing.

The world is full of surprises.  When one makes oneself available to be surprised, amazing, unexpected things can happen and when one takes a leap and asks (God, the universe, Craig, whatever the case may be) for a helping hand, a guide, a mentor, one just might get exactly what they needed, but more than they dared hope for.

In the end, when one is open, patient, and persistent, determination, a controlled environment, and the aid of a guide will ultimately lead to success.

One Non-Parent’s Opinion on Child Rearing

“Why do you have to act like that?” the woman asked her young child, anger and disdain dripping from her tongue.

This was the latest in a long stream of spewed venomous words that had me checking the transit app for a different route home just so I wouldn’t have to listen to it.

“Stop pushing her!” the woman had yelled so loudly, as soon as she and her three kinds were on the bus, that it startled me from my reading and made me jump.

“Stop whining,”  She snapped moments later, “I don’t want to hear all that!”

I don’t want to hear all the yelling, I thought to myself as I turned the volume on my phone up to what I had hoped would be deafening enough levels to drown it out. It didn’t work.

Finally she said it, “Why do you have to act like that?”

And I thought the only answer that made any sense: “Because you don’t love her!”

——

I have a friend with a six-year-old son.  I hear her yelling at him all the time.  The boy is just being a boy.  More importantly, he’s being a boy in a room full of adults.  He’s being a boy, in a room full of adults, who is trying to get noticed.  Because isn’t that what little kids want?  To be noticed?  Paid attention to?  Acknowledged and validated?  Isn’t that what everyone wants?  This little boy, isn’t trying to be bad.  He isn’t trying to be destructive.  He isn’t trying to be a brat.  He’s trying to fit in, to belong, to be part of the group, even though he can’t fully assimilate with the adult crowd.  But instead of trying to understand those things, instead of trying to acknowledge his needs, she yells at him to stop whatever it is he is doing, and when he looks at her with puzzled and hurt eyes, she gets indignant that he “just keeps behaving this way”.

——

My whole life I’ve been amazed when I’ve been out in public and kids have been asking for their parents’ attention and the parents ignore them.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“MAMA!”

No answer, but the objective observer can see the parent’s patience wearing thin.

“MAMA!!  MAMA!!”

“WHAT!?!?” the angry parent yells at the child.

By now, whatever the child wanted seems trivial and unimportant to the parent, compared to the annoyance she feels at the child’s persistent demand for her attention.  Because I generally observe these behaviors out and about, the child is usually asking the parent “Can I have this?” or something like it, to which the parent angrily answers “No!  Put that down!  Stop touching things!”

——

I want to be clear here.  Dad’s are just as guilty of these behaviors.  I’m not deliberately singling out mothers.  It’s just that my friend is a woman.  The parent on the bus today was a woman.  And misogynistic as it may be, it’s usually mother’s that are out doing the shopping with their children.  These are the examples I’ve observed.

—–

I understand.  I know it’s hard being a parent, especially if you’re doing it alone (though my friend isn’t).  I know it’s a thankless and never-ending job with no breaks and no vacations.  I know it can be tiresome.  But being a parent is also a job with no excuses.  You can’t take a day and just slack off.  You can’t put off being a parent until later while you relax and surf the internet and ignore the job.  Children are alive 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that means that parents are parents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Every interaction a parent has with a child is a moment in that child’s personal development.  Every one!  Each experience builds on the last.  While a parent might say, “He’s just working my last nerve, today.  He just needs to shut up!”  The child is thinkingall she does is yell at me.  I just want her to pay attention to me and love me.  Maybe this will get her to pay attention.

In my experience, children are far more capable of reason, than we give them credit for.  No, they’re not as advanced as we are.  We can’t explain every dynamic of a situation to a child and expect them to understand, agree and comply, but we can tell them what is expected of them in simple terms, for finite periods of time, and expect them to comply fairly closely.  We can, in small bursts, give them specific information about what we want from them in a situation and expect them to do as they’re told, even if they don’t understand why.  (And by the way, we can tell them why, even when we know it won’t make sense to them, because again, every interaction is a moment in that child’s human development.  Over time, it will come together.  They will begin to understand.)

—–

It’s raining buckets today.  When this woman and her three children boarded the bus at the train station, they had gone a long way out from under cover to get to the door of the bus.  Of course the offending child wanted to get on the bus and out of the rain, as quickly as possible.  Maybe the child shouldn’t have been pushing and maybe the mother should have addressed that, but there was no need to use the tone she used with the child and make the child feel unloved and humiliated.  There was no reason to attract the attention of everyone on the bus while she “reprimanded” her child.

My friend’s young son does not desire to misbehave, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it.  And while some of his behaviors are inappropriate and need to be brought to his attention and corrected, it’s not necessary to shout his name, in a room full of adults he loves, and yell at him to stop doing something.  It would be just as easy to say his name in a stern but loving tone and direct him to come to her before telling him why what he was doing was not okay and that he needs to stop.  Even if it happens again, the same tactic can be used before informing the child of the consequences of his actions if he persists.

And that parent and child in the store?  Gosh, wouldn’t everyone involved, including the innocent bystander, have been happier and better served if the parent was paying enough attention to the child to respond the first time he called out (and really, in a public place, shouldn’t a parent have one eye and one ear on their young child at all times?)

So often, I’ve observed parents getting angry at their children for behaviors that have persisted for too long, when the parent did not say a word to the child when the behavior began.  If the child wasn’t told from the start that the behavior was unacceptable, how was he to know?  At that point, really, isn’t the bad behavior the parent’s fault and not the child’s?  I think so.

—–

What’s the point of all this?

I know from first hand experience the damage that can come from a parent that is too self involved to give their children the time and attention they need, and the fact is, children need a lot of time and attention.  But you see, when a person makes a decision to be a parent, whether it’s by planning to have children, adoption, or choosing not to give up the child that was “an accident”, they are also making a commitment to that child to help the child become the best human being they can be and in order to do that, the parent must be the best parent they can be.  And that will never include ignoring a child when they need the parent’s attention, or yelling at the child for no good reason (and by my estimation, the only good reason is when their safety is in imminent danger and the parent needs to get the child’s immediate attention, or when the child has belligerently disregarded the parent’s direct orders and no other means of communication will get through.)

Children often need discipline, but that discipline can and should be administered with love and compassion, not anger and impatience.

There.  I think I’ve finished with the soap box if someone else would like to use it…

It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

I said so myself…  I might have been wrong.

This idea of using the daily photo prompts to take pictures and write blog posts, seemed like a thing.  It really did.  Clearly, though, it was not a thing I could keep up with.  And I’m so bad at letting these things go and moving on from them that when the first time I didn’t get it done, I thought, “Well, shit.  But that’s ok.  I’ll just double up tomorrow.”  And of course, “tomorrow” came and went and no pictures were taken and no posts were written, and before I knew it, I had a backlog of pictures to take and post and I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen and suddenly, it’s been, what? two weeks since I wrote anything.

But really?  I mean, really!

Let’s take a look at the prompts I did not fulfill, shall we?

January 8th:  “Lucky Number”

Okay.  So I actually had (or rather have) a decent way to accommodate this.  I don’t really believe in “luck” per se, and as such, I don’t really have a lucky number.  I do have a favorite number, 23, which comes up in my life frequently and without reason, but I wouldn’t call it a lucky number and I couldn’t give you a discernible reason for its prominence if you asked.  On January 9th, K and I went back to the tattoo shop where I got my latest tattoo done.  She got a new tattoo, adding on to one she’s had for several years.  (In fact she got it at the same shop where, and within a few weeks when, I got my first one.)  We went together, and when he was finished with her new tattoo, he cleaned up, set up fresh equipment and did my touch up/repair/augmentation work that I alluded to.  As it happens, I incorporated the number 23 into the additional art and could have taken a picture of that for the photo prompt…  Except it didn’t happen until the day after the prompt and wasn’t really ready for photographing for many days after that.  In fact, the tattoo as a whole, still isn’t.  It’s been two weeks today and much to my surprise, and displeasure, it still isn’t healed.  The sun rays done in the colors of the pride flag, were touched up and extended farther onto my shoulder, which, can I just tell you, was not a pleasant experience!  For some reason, those blocks of solid color have taken a long time to heal.  They’re much better now, but there are still dry and scaly patches that are bothersome and difficult to resist the urge to pick and scratch – which is disaster for a tattoo.

It’s already evident that I will have to go back for at least one more touch-up, but that most likely won’t happen until May.  My swim class starts up again tonight, and while I don’t expect our instructor will actually have us get in the water tonight (he didn’t the first class last semester), I wouldn’t be able to anyway, because it’s not smart to get into a public pool, while a tattoo is still in this scaly stage.  I think I’ll be okay by Monday, but I don’t know for sure.  Fortunately, it’s the first night of instruction and it’s about getting comfortable being in the water and floating, ducking under the surface and kicking against the wall.  If I have to sit that out, it will not be a big loss.  Strangely, I am equal parts excited and trepidatious about class starting up again.  I really enjoyed the class last semester (and will again) but I also haven’t been in a pool since the last class I attended last semester.  I’m sure whatever endurance I’ve built up has been lost.  I just hope I haven’t taken too many steps backwards in terms of technique…

January 9th: “Natural”

The instruction was to take a picture of something natural or created naturally.  The possibilities for this are endless, and yet, with what was available to me, fairly boring.  The same goes for the follow-up prompt the next day…

January 10th: “Man-Made”

Take a photo of something made by man.  In a lot of ways, this would have been even easier, because everywhere you look you can see things that are made by man.  But that almost makes the prompt uninteresting, because I could easily have taken a picture of my television, or my furniture, or my computer, or…  Well, pretty much anything in my house that was not fresh produce.  And since I didn’t leave the house that day, the photo would have been something in my house.  It quickly becomes uninspiring.

But you see, this is an ongoing problem in the realm of photo challenge photo taking.  If I don’t leave the house, then the opportunities for the photos are greatly reduced.  If I do leave the house, do I really want to lug my camera around with me everywhere I go?  The answer to that is two-fold, because yes, I do want to take it with me everywhere I go.  And, NO!  I don’t want to have to carry it around and keep track of it and make sure it doesn’t come to any harm everyday, everywhere.  Anyway, while I’m unemployed and have limited reasons to leave the house, I spend days at a time inside my home and therefore have far fewer options for creative photos that meet the challenge and don’t become redundant.

January 11th: “Looking Down”

Once again, without leaving the house my options were limited to looking over the railing of the stairs leading up to my front door, which would be…  concrete sidewalk, or very poorly maintained grass in the side yard, or looking out a window.  Which wouldn’t really be “down” so much as “out”.  Of course, I could have taken one of those ubiquitous pictures of my feet, or of my shoes on my feet (which I don’t wear in the house), but that’s not particularly interesting in my mind.  Pass.

January 12th: “Something colorful”

I didn’t leave the house.  Like the song says, “Second verse.  Same as the first!”

January 13th: “Makes me Smile”

This one I actually could have done, with only the smallest bit of cheating.  I always figure that the point of the Photo-A-Day challenges, is to take a photo that day that goes with the prompt, however, I was actually with K when she took the photo she posted for “natural”, only it was “lucky number” day.  Maybe it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway, I took this picture of Lil’B a couple of weekends prior while we were on an outing to the Hyde Street Pier and exploring some of the ships that are moored there.  Lil’B always makes me smile.  So if you don’t worry about the fact that I already posted this picture once, or about meeting the date, then it’s all good.  🙂

Taking a picture of Lil'B, taking a picture of me.

Taking a picture of Lil’B, taking a picture of me.

January 14th: “Three Things” 

This one might actually have been pretty interesting.  The instruction was to take a picture of three things.  “They might belong together, or they might be totally random”.  But of course, by this time, I was a week behind on this endeavor, and in my mind, I couldn’t have participated in this one without having done all the ones that came before.  This leads to my new challenge for myself to be further discussed at the end of this post.

January 15th: “Black and White”

This prompt is much like the “upside down” prompt in that, with modern technology, any picture can be black and white with just the press of a few buttons.  I could have made a picture black and white using settings on my camera, or using iPhoto to edit it that way.  There’s no real challenge in that, and once again, I only left the house to work.  Irony being what it is, I could have taken a “selfie” at work and posted that, since my uniform for most bar tending jobs is a white shirt with black pants, tie and vest.  But again, I didn’t want to bring my camera along to work.

January 16th: “Sun”

The instruction was to take a picture of the sun.  Of course this was totally doable, even without having left the house.  But again.  I was too far behind.

January 17th: “Tiny”

Does this really need any explanation?

January 18th: “Happy Place”

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this one.  (Plus I worked again, that day.)

January 19th: “Breakfast”

“Take a photo of your breakfast, or where you were for breakfast time.”  This was a Lil’B Sunday.  I picked him up earlier than usual so we could go to the Oakland, Zoo.  I slept through breakfast, and well?  Really?  Does anyone really want a photograph of my bed?  I don’t think so.  I took lots of pictures at the zoo, though I haven’t yet had time to edit them.  But those photographs had nothing to do with the prompt.

January 20th: “To Do List”

I suppose there might be something interesting in this.  The instruction was to take a picture of the actual list, or a series of pictures of things I did.  At the moment, my to do list, is only in my head, and it’s so long that it’s actually debilitating and nothing gets done.  Something I absolutely must work on.  But anyway, this photo prompt wasn’t doable either for many reasons.

January 21st:  “Blue”

Sometimes they’re just too easy, which I guess I shouldn’t complain about.  While I am not consciously aware of having a favorite color, or a strong preference toward any one color, until recently, a quick glance at my closet would have told you that blue is unequivocally my favorite color.  Finding a blue thing to take a picture of would not have been difficult.  Then of course, there’s always this:

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Heck, even the blue Honda over my left shoulder was mine.  That’s the car I traded in for the Mustang.  (Don’t talk to me about the monumental difference in gas mileage.  I will cut you!)

And that leads us to today, January 22nd: “Nice!”.  The instruction just says, “take a picture of something nice”, which, again, could be anything.  Hell, I could even just direct you to scroll up an inch or so.  There’s something pretty nice!  Maybe I’ll take some additional pictures today, maybe I won’t.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, my new challenge for my self, as alluded to with January 14th: “Three Things” is to not get so caught up in the idea that I have to post one thing before I can post something else.  Especially when that one thing is something that I am avoiding doing for whatever reason.  Maybe that thing will get posted, maybe it won’t.  But I shouldn’t let that thing prevent me from posting other things.  I have, in the past, had a problem with holding back on those thoughts because I hadn’t posted the other thing yet, and then I end up losing lots of ideas that I wanted to convey.  Probably this won’t lead to anything earth shattering, but at least it should help me keep my writing muscle exercised…  Lord knows it’s the only one that’s getting any exercise.

 


Upside-Down… Whatever

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today’s Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt is “upside-down”.  And as I mentioned, I could easily take any old picture and use iPhoto to turn it upside down and meet today’s objective.  But that’s too easy and would really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

But the truth is, “upside-down” is a good prompt.  It’s not a great photo prompt, but it’s a good prompt.  You see, it’s more applicable to my life.  My life is upside-down right now.

Don’t worry.  This is not a “woe is me,” “I’m so depressed” kind of post.  I’m really not, which, honestly, probably ought to worry me.  It’s more of an introspective, “wow my life is… ‘upside down'” kind of post.

You see, I’ve been “underemployed” since mid-October.  Honestly?  It’s been lovely!  I absolutely love not having to get up at 6:30 in the morning to go to work!  I love not having to listen to people snivel about the temperature in the building, because honestly?  I’m hard pressed to give a damn that you’re cold, while you’re wearing Capri pants, sandals, and a silk, sleeveless shirt during winter and you’re the only person around who’s cold.  You expect me to turn up the heat?  Why don’t you try putting on a fucking sweater!  And don’t give me a song and dance about it being too cold and that’s why you need an illegal space heater, which you just happened to think was best placed on top of a bunch of cardboard boxes!!!

Yeah.  It’s been a while since I had a full-time job.  From a financial perspective, that’s not a good thing.  I’m living on fumes.  I just put in a request to liquidate my very meager retirement account just so I’ll have money to live on for the next six months or so.   Of course I want to spend as little of that money as possible but the fact remains that unless I want to move back to a red state suburbia, I must find a way to support myself, even if I have to find a way to make myself comfortable in a less…  comfortable lifestyle than that to which I am currently accustomed.

I still need to look for a full-time job in my chosen profession of Facility Management which will hopefully sustain my life and provide an opportunity for advancement that will result in more money and more of a comfortable lifestyle.

In the meantime I have to bring in some money, and so today I went to two separate restaurants, in two very separate parts of the bay area to apply for bar tending jobs.  I happened across two posts yesterday on Craigslist for bartenders at specific locations of chain restaurants.  One is seven miles from my house in the midst of a fairly business, but slightly residential area that might provide me with a decent opportunity to make money in tips and gain some convenient restaurant experience.  The other is 30 miles from my house and is in the midst of an almost entirely business district.  Naturally, at the close restaurant the hiring manager is on vacation until Monday.  The hostess recommended that I call in the morning on Monday and then plan to come by around 2:30 in the afternoon to see the hiring manager for a potential interview.  She even told me, “I think he’ll like you.  You look a lot alike.

“Oh?” I said, smiling.

“Yeah,” she said, “he wears glasses.  Has a shaved head…”   I hoped she’d make a comment about how he was a snappy dresser, or maybe how I was exactly his type romantically…  but whatever.  I’ll call on Monday morning and hope I can interview with him on Monday afternoon.  The problem is, restaurants tend to prefer to promote from within, for bar tenders and they like to hire servers with the potential hope of getting promoted to bar tenders.  I’m not interested in serving.  In fact, I really suck at it.  I want to be a bar tender.  That’s what I took a class to learn, and that’s why I respond to ads that say they’re hiring bar tenders, not “servers who might eventually become bar tenders.”

From there, I went to the second restaurant.  It was 32 miles from the restaurant I had visited first, and at that time of day, 2:45 pm, it was supposed to take me 32 minutes to get there.  That was about right.  In keeping with the idea that my life is upside down right now, they seemed interested in hiring me.  They really pushed the fact that it is “a long drive” from my house.  And it is.  It’s about 25 miles, which legitimately may be too far for me to drive for a shift that isn’t going to garner me nearly as much money as I had hoped for, but at least it gets my foot in the door for the industry.  Hopefully by having a little restaurant experience under my belt I will be more attractive to places that I can expect to make better tip money, closer to home. They also made a big point of telling me that because they’re in a business district, their biggest days are end of the work week and not so much week-ends (as is the case in most restaurants) and they pushed the fact that they like to promote from within and are really looking for servers (even though their ad said, bartenders).

I spoke with the general manager today and she suggested that they could hire me as a “cocktail server” to work in the bar during happy hours and that depending on how quickly I learned and picked up on the “important details of their menu” I could move on to bar tender from there.  I played along as though I understood that serving would be a necessary part of the job (and I really did, though I don’t like it) and the end result was that I will go back for a “final” interview on Thursday before a final decision was made, but based on the conversations with the two people I did talk with, they seemed interested, if I was.  They just put a lot of emphasis on the desire for longevity.  I told them I believe in keeping my commitments and so if something came up with one of my other employers when I was already scheduled with this restaurant, I would not ditch the restaurant for the job.  I also told them I was looking for a full-time job in my “chosen career,” as the manager kept putting it, and so, of course, my availability would change depending on where and when I found full-time employment.

Meanwhile, the best prospect I’ve had, since before I got “released during probation” from my last full-time job, is offering me about three shifts a week, not behind a bar, at approximately $100 (or less) per shift in tips, and I’ll have to drive 25-30 miles each way, in my 18 miles to the gallon, gas guzzling, albeit sexy as hell, automobile to get there.

On the one hand, I’m excited at the prospect of being wanted for a job, anywhere at all.  On the other hand, this job can’t possibly sustain me and I must keep looking.  The question suddenly becomes, is it enough to put me off unemployment insurance, and is there anything to be gained by accepting a job that will reduce my available time to search for a job, while not making enough to eliminate the free money that is unemployment insurance…

What to do…  What to do?

Anyway, just for the hell of it…  Here.  Mostly just ’cause I think it’s funny.  A Cosmopolitan I made at home the other night, using Hanger One Mandarine Blossom Vodka, #upside-down.

An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka.  Notice how it doesn't spill. ;)

An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka. Notice how it doesn’t spill. 😉