I have officially passed the 100 page mark for my memoir. I never would have dreamed that I would find the discipline to sit down and write this book. I had the idea nearly a decade ago, and I wrote a few pages here and there, but I have made it my goal to sit down and finish this project once and for all!
I am thankful to my friends that have been helping me along with encouragement and feedback. I can’t even describe in words how much it means to me.
The more I write, the more I believe I am a writer. I have fallen back in love with my passion and I hope you all enjoy it when it is finished!
“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”
That was my motto for many years. If I was great at something, I showed off. If I sucked, I pretended it sucked and that I wasn’t to be bother with whatever it was. Loser mentality. However, I’ve grown into a person who admits failure, and that is something that I’m proud of.
We’ve all seen them, the people who are amazing and never fall. Well guess what? That’s BS. They fail, all the time, but they, like I used to, don’t admit it. When you see a photo on Instagram and you think, “Wow, why can’t I look that perfect?” What you don’t see is the 100 photos that got deleted, or the number of filters put on it, or even some Photo Shopping that happened.
When you see a video of someone doing some crazy stunt, a flip or trick, they’ve got hours and hours of footage of them falling, failing, and trying again. You just see the final product.
Even your favorite TV show or movie has an outtake reel.
The point is, no matter what you’re trying to be better at, the road to success is built on failed attempts. I’m not perfect at any of the things I preach. My diet slips now and then, and I’ve gone on a 3-day Chinese food bender. I’ve skipped workouts, and I’ve even missed some writing days. It happens, and that’s okay.
Don’t let your idea of perfection ruin your attempt. Be proud of your failures, because that’s what makes your story great! Nobody wants to read about someone who was born amazing and never lost. We all love a good comeback tale. I learned that lesson early. My brother was the “screw up” and I was mommy’s perfect little angel.
I couldn’t understand why, even though I was the “favorite” child, did my brother get all the attention. He got unbelievable praise for basic stuff. Like if he didn’t misbehave in public, he’d get candy or a compliment. I behaved all the time, but nobody rewarded it. It was expected of me. I got good grades, and my brother didn’t do his work. If he ever did, he was showered with love. It wasn’t until I fell off my pedestal that I got attention, but negative attention. When you do the right thing all the time, people notice when you don’t. When you do the wrong thing all the time, people notice when you do the right thing. It’s a strange dynamic that we all tend to do. We grow accustomed to people’s behaviors and expectations form.
After a while of doing bad things, it wasn’t shocking to my family any longer. I was expected to be rebellious. Then, whenever I did something right, I got that praise I longed for. I learned that people love to see you fall from grace and come back up. They will criticize you the whole way down, but, depending on how far you fall of course, they will build you back up too. There’s no hope for Cosby or Weinstein, but we’ve seen many celebrities fall down and come back. Robert Downey Jr. Brittany Speares, Mike Tyson, etc. Their failures give them character, and it makes them interesting. Yours do too! Embrace them. Yes, people will judge you, and that is why we hide, but I’m telling you, they will forget and/or move on and suddenly you will be revered for overcoming your failure.
So make mistakes, fall off that horse, but don’t destroy the evidence of trying, embrace the error, learn from it, get back on that horse and maybe fail a little less next time. Repeat and before you know it, you’ve succeeded at whatever you were trying to accomplish, and ready to fail at something new!
Remember that old Planet Fitness commercial with the big guy who repeats, “I pick things up and put them down?” Well that’s me, only not with weights, but with everything I do.
As a writer, I am told, “Find your niche and stick to it.” If I want to make any type of living off my writing, I am supposed to be an “expert” at something and write content in that area. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t I be that way?
I love too many things to pick just one or two. I have always been that way. A jack of all trades, master of none type of guy. I have a gift/curse that allows me to be “naturally” good at most everything I try, which creates motivation enough to stick to something for a little while, while it is fun.
Then I reach a point that it isn’t as fun anymore, because it takes real dedication and time to get to the next level. That’s when something else will pique my interest and surprise surprise, I’m good enough at it to want to do that instead.
Some activities that I’ve done include:
writing, rapping, painting, crafting, cooking, gaming, Tae Kwon Do, boxing, power lifting, calisthenics, poetry, running, gymnastics, etymology, English composition, teaching, dog training, food critic, movie critic, relationship advisor, motivational speaking, plumbing, electronic technician, chauffeur, customer service, waiting tables, light construction, hiking, camping, survivalist, archery, how to bulk on a budget, protein powder reviewer, dress nice on a budget, yoga, mediation, etc.
The list goes on.
I loved every moment I spent pursuing these momentary passions, and I learned so much doing them, but inevitably, they all came to an end. Some were picked up again, and some lasted longer than others, like rapping, which I did almost daily for 10-15 years. Poetry was sporadic, but something I still do, and writing motivation comes and goes, though I am currently on a hot streak of daily writing with this blog. I stay in relatively good shape, though I don’t hit the weights nearly as hard as I used to. I got my degree in English Composition, and I teach at Umass Boston, but that is coming to an end because there aren’t enough classes available next semester for me to teach any, being lower on the seniority totem pole.
Either way, I don’t know what I can write about to build an audience big enough to allow me to write as a profession. I have a vast amount of knowledge through life experiences, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to create a niche with it, nor do I really want to.
I never want to become something I’m not just to make money. I never want to be locked into something I no longer enjoy. Being a niche writer is putting me in a box, and that’s something that I cannot do. To quote Roy from Shanghai Noon,
“I am like a wild horse, you can’t tame me. You put the oats in the pen though and i’ll come in for a nibble every day, but if you ever shut that gate, i’ll jump the fence and you’ll never see me again.”
Let me begin by saying that it was stupid of me to attempt a new diet two days before Thanksgiving. Especially a Keto diet considering Thanksgiving is the carbiest holiday of the year! I’m not giving up, but I definitely chose to enjoy myself on Thursday.
With that being said, I want to remind those who are struggling with bringing new, good habits into their life that there will be days that are set backs. Don’t let that turn into giving up! I had two successful days of Keto, then I carbed up. Does that mean those two days are worthless? No. Even though I have to start over, I learned alot from those days. First, I learned that I can do go a whole day with minimal carbs. Second, I learned what meals to eat. So now, it will be much easier to attempt it again! Don’t let a set back ruin your motivation. You still learn with every attempt. I know people that attempted to quit smoking, 5-6 times before they actually succeeded! The goal was still reached, and they are living a much healthier life now. You just have to keep at it. What is the old saying? “If at first you don’t succeed. Destroy all evidence that you tried.” Just kidding. “Get your ass back in gear and try again!”
I think it is important to admit your failures. Especially when you’re like me and bragging all over the internet that you’re accomplishing your goals. You never now who is reading, or listening, and taking your words to heart. The problem begins when someone is influenced by you, but they reach a set back, and when they compare themselves to you, Mr. “Never fails” then they think they just aren’t capable of being better. I’m here to say, I’ve failed my way to success, every time. There are always set backs. I don’t feel bad about them anymore. I used to, but now I know that they are part of the process. Water beats stone every time in the long game.
After indulging in some delicious food, my wife and I decided to go to bed early to wake up and go out shopping. We didn’t have anything in mind that warranted being out at midnight, so we got up at 6 and headed to the stores after the mobs have left. It was slow at first, not really finding anything great, but after 8 hours of shopping, we made out pretty good. We got our daughter some stuff that she wanted for Christmas, and we got our puppy some bones and a few hoodies. He’s a little guy and it gets mighty cold in Massachusetts.
I took the day off from posting, but I’m back at it again today. Perhaps the break was necessary because this very morning, I finally figured out the plot of my book! I’ve been writing a fiction story for a few months now. I have written 50-60 pages, most of which is being thrown out, but it led me to where I am now. I have far fewer pages, but they’re good pages and I’ve got the plot now so it is going to zoom from here! I’m so excited. I used to write all the time in the past but when I reached a road block that would demand me starting over, or throwing out most of my work, I’d give up on the story entirely and start a new one. I thought that If I didn’t write it perfectly on the first go, then it wasn’t a good story. How dumb was I right? Now I know, writing is rewriting. A college professor changed my world when she said, “Nothing is ever done, only due.”
I just wanted to share what is going on with me, with you. I’m just so excited to announce that my book finally has direction and I can’t wait to get back to writing it! Have a wonderful day!
That night I slept a dreamless sleep. I woke up feeling refreshed. Carla and I ate breakfast and neither one of us even mentioned my nightmares. Today was going to be a good day.
“I feel like getting out today. Would you like to take a walk with me love?”
“Yeah, a walk sounds nice.” Carla replied. She got up from the table and put her dishes in the sink. “I think I might need one more cup of coffee before we go. Would you like another?”
“No, thank you though, I’m going to drink some water. You should definitely do the same.”
“I drink coffee and only coffee. The coffee bean is my spirit animal.”
I broke out laughing. “Well dehydration is going to be your spirit animal if you don’t drink some water while we walk. It’s like 100 degrees out today.”
“They make iced coffee.”
“You’re killing me Smalls.”
She smiled and gave me a wink. That was a line from one of our favorite movies, “The Sandlot.” We had watched it together the first time she had spent the night at my old apartment. We had been dating for a few months when she suggested,
“Why don’t we just get some take-out and cuddle up under a blanket while we watch a movie tonight?”
“Yeah, that sounds great. What kind of movie do you want to watch.”
“Hmm, I don’t know. How about a classic?”
“Do you have a genre preference?”
“I trust you.” She said, looking directly into my eyes, letting me know she meant it, and for more than just my taste in movies.
When she arrived that evening, I had my place prepared for a perfect night in. I ordered Pizza from Regina’s; I laid out a medley of snacks, from chips to chocolates; I had beer, wine, and champagne on ice. I wanted it to go perfect. She walked into the candle lit room.
“Wow. It looks like the best sleep over ever in here! The only thing missing is the feetie pajamas.”
“I think I have a pair somewhere. I can put them on if you’d like.”
Carla giggled. “Do you really have a pair, or were you just being funny?”
“I was just being funny. Please, come in, make yourself comfortable.” I walked her over to my display. “I have pizza, booze, and snacks for every mood.”
“Are you rapping right now?”
“Word.” I said, squinting my eyes, slightly pouting my lips, and nodding, trying to make my best ‘cool guy’ face.
Carla sat down. “What movie are we watching.”
“The Sandlot.” I said, waiting for her to be excited.
“The Sandlot? What’s that?”
“You’ve never heard of the Sandlot?”
“No, is it good?”
“Umm, it is a classic!”
“Well, if I never heard of it, how can it be a classic?”
“You’re killing me Smalls.”
“Shut up, I’m not small, I’m vertically challenged.”I bursted out laughing. “It’s a line from the movie, you’ll see. I’ll be right back.”
I walked into the other room. I had lied before about not having feetie pajamas. I wanted to surprise her. Justin had given me a pair as a gag gift once after talking about how much we loved them as kids, and how it was too bad that adults can’t wear them.
When I came back into the living room, Carla was opening two beers for us.
“Beer over champagne? Is that because we’re eating pizza?”
She turned to see me standing there, hands on my hips, posing in my Batman pajamas. She started laughing while saying, “That’s a great observation Batman.”
“Well I am the world’s greatest detective.”
We watched the movie and laughed all night, and ever since, the quote, “You’re killing me Smalls” has become one of our many tag lines.
On my way to work, I sat in Boston’s notorious line of traffic. I usually listened to the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast to pass the time, but the newest episode wasn’t out yet since Joe was on a hunting trip. I was going to put on some music but the license plate in front of my caught my attention.
I see the number 819 everywhere. Some people believe that it is a sign when you see the same number, others believe it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because you think you see a number everywhere, so you are more likely to notice it. I don’t know which is true, but instead of putting music on, I sat with my thoughts, recalling the many other times that I’ve seen that number.
When I arrived at the University of Massachusetts, or Umass as we call it, I parked in the Bay Side lot and took the shuttle to the University Hall stop. My first class of the day was at 8:00 and I always tried to get to campus early enough to enjoy a second cup of coffee while staring at the ocean. Umass Boston is located on Columbia Point, an old landfill, that sits on a peninsula in Dorchester Bay.
After my coffee, I casually strolled over to my classroom, located in the McCormack building, and arrived with fifteen minutes to spare. As I was settling in, I heard a knock on the open door.
“Good morning Justin, how goes it?”
“It goes. Do you want to eat lunch on campus or go somewhere else today?”
I tilted my head slightly upward, squinting as I stared into my thoughts.
“Hmm…that’s a good question. I have office hours this afternoon, so eating on campus would be smarter, but it is Friday and my students definitely aren’t going to stop by so…let’s push lunch a little later and take off a little early and we can grab a few drinks too. How’s that sound?”
Justin smiled and slapped his hand against the door.
“I like the way you think my man! I’ll swing by around 3?”
“Yeah, that sounds great.”
Justin was my best friend since middle school. He was half white and half Asian and we used to practice martial arts in his yard. By martial arts I mean the moves we’d learn from watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. His was a kind man with a big heart. His mother had passed away while we were in high school and his father wasn’t around so it was a miracle that he turned out so great. We both still lived in Woburn and got jobs teaching at Umass Boston. He taught history and I taught English composition.
Shortly after Justin left, Stephanie arrived. She was always the first student in the classroom. We made small chit chat until the other students began to trickle in.
“Alright class, let’s begin. Today we’re going to have an in-class writing day since your papers are due on Monday. The more you get done in class, the more you get to enjoy your weekend, how’s that sound?”
“Thanks Professor!” Aamir said, “Can I wear my headphones while I work?”
“Sure, just make sure that you can hear me if I need to get your attention.”
As they wrote, I thought about my dream. Why was I having a reoccurring nightmare about being shot in the back of my head? The strange thing was, I kept getting shot in the same spot, where my birthmark is, which some called a “stork bite” because it was located on the back of the head, where the neck met the skull.
I realized that I had been day dreaming and wondered how long so I checked the clock. 8:19. I pretended like that didn’t bother me.
The rest of the day went by normally. When quitting time came, I went to see Justin in his office.
“You ready to break out of here?” I asked.
“Does the pope shit in the woods?”
“I don’t think so.”
“It’s an expression bro.”
“I know, but I don’t get why. I’m almost certain the pope would just shit in a toilet like the rest of us.”
“Yes. The answer is yes, I am ready to break out of here. Jesus.”
We met at The Brickyard, our usual spot. The downstairs was a bar with cool wall panels that change color. We ordered a few drinks and talked about work, our most difficult students, and our gripes with the education system. We had tons of ideas of how to make it better but never a single one about how to implement anything. It was nice just to vent sometimes. Eventually, the conversation led to my dreams. I told him about the gun shot, waking up in a panic, and how Carla was concerned. I mentioned the number that I kept seeing everywhere and how I thought I was going crazy.
“Have you tried looking it up in the bible?”
“The bible. You know, that book your mother could recite verbatim.”
“Duh. I know what the bible is, but why look up a number in it?”
“When I was a kid, before my mother had passed, she used to tell me to look up numbers in the bible. She said that God communicated in all sorts of ways.”
“Did it ever work? Did you look up something and think that God was communicating with you?”
“When I was young, I thought that it worked, but as I got older, my faith faded and I realized that bible verses can be like fortune cookies. They all sort of apply to your life in a general manner, but it still feels good.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I’ll try that.”
I noticed that there was a man at the other side of the bar looking over at us from time to time. I assumed it was because he overheard our conversation and thought we were loons. After an hour or so, he got up and walked toward the stairs. He paused before leaving and looked over his shoulder and made eye contact with me. A nervous chill rushed down my spine. I felt his malicious intentions with just a look, and then he went upstairs.
“Michael, you okay?”
“The guy over there?” Justin looked but the man was gone. “Oh, he must of left. What about him?”
“He just gave me the coldest look.”
“Are you sure he wasn’t just flirting?”
“No dude, he looked at me like he wanted to kill me.”
“What? Why would he want to kill you? Are you sure you’re not misreading this situation? Maybe he overheard us bad mouthing religion. You know how die hard Christians can get.”
“Maybe I’m just like my mother. She’s never satisfied.”
I’ve been told that I’m extremely stubborn. I guess it’s true. It isn’t that I refuse to do what other’s want. Actually, I’ve got an uncontrollable need to please people. Let me explain.
If we were to hang out, and I wanted to go to the movies, but you wanted to go do something else, I’d happily decide to do whatever you wanted to do. The same goes for dinner. That’s why I feel like Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook” when asking my daughter and wife what they want for dinner.
I wouldn’t care if it were my birthday, in fact, as a child, I’ve given up birthday presents so that my brother could open up a gift too, because I felt bad that I was receiving toys and he wasn’t. Material possessions don’t mean much to me.
However, when it comes to something that I supposedly “have” to do, that’s where my stubborn self comes alive. I am a human being, equal to all other human beings around me. I don’t care if you’re the pope, king, president, or homeless; we all breathe the same air, and bleed the same blood. Therefore, no man or woman shall have domain over me. See, in the previous scenarios, I concede to other’s desires, but it is still my choice in the matter. When I am told, “You have to do this, or else.” Then my freedom of choice is being challenged, and I will usually go with the “or else” option.
I don’t know what it is. There is this feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach that just won’t allow me to give in to the power of someone else, unless it will harm an innocent person. For example, the time I walked in on a robbery, I was surprised to learn in that moment that I didn’t fear death. I was more disappointed that I was bested, like losing a game of chess. I was outnumbered, and unarmed, but my mind was still looking for a last ditch effort to fight. However, I was not alone. There were 10 innocent lives behind me, and one wrong move could have put them in danger, and so I decided to do nothing. It is a moment that I will wrestle with for the rest of my life as to whether or not that was the best course of action, even though we all ended up walking away unharmed (relatively, one guy did get pistol whipped when they first arrived), I also wonder, what if they weren’t going to let us live? And I did nothing. But I digress.
When I was in the military, where you have absolutely no rights. I still somehow maintained some respect. When I would get yelled at by a superior, and if I didn’t deserve it (sometimes I made mistakes, in which case I accepted the verbal lashing), but when they were just being jerks because of my rank, I always stood up for myself. I’d usually say something like, “Look, I know you outrank me, and I know how this works, so I will do whatever you’re asking me to do, but you don’t have to yell at me, just tell me what needs to get done and I’ll do it.” And to my surprise, and if we were alone, it worked. Only if they had fellow superiors around them would they dig their heels in and act worse, but I completely understand that.
I’ve learned to praise publicly, criticize in private. So, later, when I felt disrespected, I would bite my tongue, and find them later, alone, and talk to them about it. Again, it usually worked. Most of the time, they’d make a conscious effort to speak to me better. Now, when I say better, I don’t mean that they’d not make commands. They still outrank me, and it is still the military. I mean the added nonsense. The name calling, or family insults. So, instead of, “Harrigan, go fucking clean that mess over there you inbred piece of shit!” They would begin to say, “Harrigan, I need that mess cleaned.” and I’d say, “Roger that” and get to it.
Moving on, when it comes to jobs, outside of the military, I understand that I have a boss and my position in the company. However, like the military, I won’t be told what to do. When I worked at Walgreens, before the Navy, I had tickets to a Celtics game. I told my boss, a month in advance, that I would need that day off because of the game. He said it shouldn’t be a problem. The day before, near the end of my shift, he approached me and said,
“I couldn’t find anyone to cover your shift, so you have to come in tomorrow.”
“Umm, I told you that I had tickets to the Celtics a month ago. Why would you even schedule me to work that shift?”
“That’s usually the shift you work. It isn’t my responsibility to find someone to cover your shift, it’s yours. You didn’t find someone to cover your shift, so you have to work. Plain and simple.”
“No, you said that you were going to find someone to cover my shift. If you told me to find someone, I would have. You said that it shouldn’t be a problem. I already bought the tickets.”
“You’re scheduled to work tomorrow, if you don’t come in, then you’re a no call no show and you’ll be fired.”
The next day, I went to the game. I was fired. I regret nothing.
Shortly after, I left for boot camp and my life has been exponentially better since. I might not have had the guts to go to boot camp if I still had that job. The lack of options played a pivotal role in my motivation.
Perhaps these are just examples of me being a stubborn brat. I don’t know. What I do know is that when it feels like someone is flexing power of me, I don’t budge. When I was a teen, and wrestled with my friends, they’d have to literally choke me unconscious for me to stop. I would rather be put out than to give in to someone saying, “You give up?” while they clamp down on my neck. However, that same will is what drives me to succeed. It is the reason that I was able to stop drinking without help. Once I realized that people around me saw me as the “sure thing” when they wanted a drinking buddy, I decided that I wasn’t going to be their sure thing any more. In a weird way, it felt like a power they held over me. All they had to do was say something like, “Who wants a beer? Harrigan, I know you want one” as they’d toss me a can. Like they are the gracious beer kings throwing a bone to the lowly peasant. Not I. The moment I had that realization, I cracked open that last beer and just stared at it. I watched it for probably an hour before standing up, putting on my jacket, and leaving the party. I said, “I gotta go.” And I haven’t looked back. Those friends faded from my life, with no ill feelings, I still value them and wish them well, but I started walking a different path that they just wouldn’t fully understand without walking it with me. I still don’t drink, but because I choose not to. If I drink again someday, It will be because I choose to, not because I feel I have to.
That stubborn will is what made me go back as an adult to the Tae Kwon Do school I had quit as a teenager. I had always regretted not getting my black belt and it haunted me that I gave up on something I loved. I felt like the people in my past who said I wouldn’t amount to anything were right. So, during one of the hardest semesters of my life, taking 4 classes, 3 of them being at the graduate level, I decided to go back to Tae Kwon Do. Same school, same teacher. And you know what?
That same stubbornness has driven me to achieve my bachelor’s and master’s degree. I thought of all the teachers I’ve had that didn’t think I would do anything. I thought of the few that believed in me. I push myself hard because I never want to be “less than.” I’ve lived too long in my life believing that I was nothing. A nobody. Because of my past, because of my financial status growing up, and because of circumstances that were out of my control, I felt like a complete waste of human life. I would never show that on the outside. Nope. I doubled down. I trained hard. I practiced everything that I did, whether it was athletics, video games, or rapping; anything that I could compete in with my peers, I became the best or the top contender. I would not let someone say that they are better than me at anything. I will not be looked down at. And when I am on top, I will not look down at anyone else. I demand eye level contact, and I promise the same.
I know that there is always someone better at something. I have grown to understand that I don’t need to be the best at anything to be treated equally. I used to believe in my youth, that those at the top had the privilege to look down at those below, because they’ve earned it, but I now understand that there is no top. There is no below. There is one level that we all exist on, and only when zooming in real close, on specific subjects, does one appear to have elevation. But we appear higher and lower depending on what we are looking at. I might be “better” at athletics, but my brother can draw like you wouldn’t believe. Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player of all time, but I wonder how well he can write a poem? Or if he sews? Does he bake? Or fix cars? Possibly, but the point is, there is something Michael Jordan isn’t “The Michael Jordan” of.
This expands my understanding of equality. And it strengthens my stubbornness ten-fold. If you dare look down at me, or demand something from me, while we stand on the same ground, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, then you better believe that I stand firm, like a mountain
I didn’t expect to open my eyes. Not after I felt the barrel push slightly harder into the back of my skull as the gunman pulled the trigger. I sprung up in my bed, gasping while frantically reaching for the spot where the bullet entered. Nothing…again.
“It’s happening more often.” A muffled voice came from beside me. I looked, still rubbing my head, to see Carla, eyes closed, face half in her pillow. “You need to talk to someone.”
“You know how I feel about therapy.”
“And you know how I feel about sleep.”
“Alright, alright. If it happens again, I’ll consider it, but for now, let me figure it out.”
“Fine, but you go make us coffee.” She looked at me with the eye that wasn’t buried in her pillow. I chuckled.
“Ok, that’s fair.” I leaned over to kiss her head when I felt her hand slide up my inner thigh until she reached the top, where she gave me a gentle, playful squeeze. “Yeah?” I began kissing her neck, but she flinched and moved her hand off me, then said,
“If it happens again, I’ll consider it, but for now, coffee.”
I had just about finished my cup when Carla walked in.
“You know, a gal could starve waiting on you.”
I knew I messed up. I looked over, coffee mug still pressed to my lips, to see her leaning against the doorway, wearing her favorite of my dress shirts. It was my favorite too, and part of me wanted it back, but I have to admit it looks better on her. I swallowed the last sip.
“Hey babe, I was just about to brin-”
“Mmhm, save it, my mug is still in the cabinet.”
“Ok, you got me. I’m sorry love, I was caught up in my thoughts.”
“Yet you managed to get a cup for you. Egoista.”
I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out.
“That’s what I thought.” She said with a victorious grin. She walked over and wrapped her arms around me.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve you love.” I said, hugging her tight.
“It certainly wasn’t your barista skills.” She could always make me laugh.
Yesterday, a lady on the elevator said, “Oops.” after pressing the button for the 3rd floor. She then proceeded to press the button for the 2nd floor and said, “I’m sorry, I accidentally pressed the wrong floor, you’re going to stop at 3 now.” I was going to the 6th floor.
If you get on the elevator at the first floor, and press 2, you’re a terrible human being. Unless you’re in a wheelchair or part of the janitorial staff, take the stairs! It’s one floor. It takes more time for the doors to close than to walk up one flight of steps. How selfish can you be? Don’t you know that people have places to be? Geez.
Now, in this particular case, if it were I that had pressed the wrong button, you’d never know. I wouldn’t say “Oops” to get your attention and I wouldn’t press the correct floor either. I’d get off at the wrong floor and take the stairs down a level, like a god damn gentleman. That was your mistake lady, you deal with the consequences. Now I gotta sit there at floor 3 for 30 seconds, while the onlookers, whom are waiting for the elevator to come back down for them to get on with their days, stare at me like some sort of idiot who pressed the wrong floor? I gotta sit there and act like I don’t know why the elevator stopped at their floor, and give them confused looks as if to blame them for calling the elevator and not getting on.
Here are the rules of the elevator:
Get on quietly. If you’re in the middle of the conversation, put it on hold. It’s awkward enough for everyone in there already.
Don’t claim a spot. Move to the back, and make room for others. There is nothing worse than getting on the elevator and having to shuffle around someone who won’t budge.
DO NOT BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO GET ON THE ELEVATOR TO GO UP ONE FLOOR. WE ALL NOTICE AND WE ALL HATE YOU.
If you arrive at a floor and see that a member of the janitorial staff is waiting to get on, but can’t because there are too many people. Get off the elevator and let them on. These are the hidden gems of every building. They are there to clean up after each and every one of us. Greet them with respect, and insist that they get on the elevator in your place. Then, take the stairs or wait for the next ride. (Also applies for people in wheel chairs. Make room)
If you press the wrong button, own it. Do not let your mistake become the burden of others. This applies outside of the elevator too, just in life, your mistake, your consequence.
Passing gas of any kind is forbidden in the elevator. There exists a special circle in hell for those who break this rule.
If someone attempts awkward elevator talk with you (such topics include; the weather; the unreliability of public transportation; the speed at which the elevator moves; etc) just smile politely and agree. They are only doing it because they feel uncomfortable.
With that being said, don’t make awkward elevator talk. It is just as uncomfortable to participate in it as it is to sit in silence.
Please people, practice this elevator etiquette and be an upstanding citizen. We all just want to get through our workday with minimal friction. Thank you and good day!
“I’m fine.” The man said in response whenever he was asked how he’s doing. That’s a typical exchange among most people around here. He never assumed that anybody actually cared how he’s doing, and to be honest, he didn’t care how they were either. He was too tired to care. Barely 9 AM and he’s already on his third cup of coffee. Anything to get through the day, so he can get home and relax.
This man was me. A lifeless zombie, going through the motions, like so many others that I know. It’s too easy to fall into this mode of “wake up, work, eat, home, Netflix, bed.” However, I noticed that on the days that I wasn’t as tired, or perhaps I was a little extra productive and felt great, when people asked me how I’m doing, I’d respond with, “Wonderful! Thank you, how are you?” and many times, people would be taken off guard. They’d double take a look at me and some would even comment on how nice it is to hear such a response. I’d feel even better after the exchange.
I learned to give 3 syllable responses in the military. There was a First Class Petty Officer on my base. I can’t recall his last name, but we just called him ET1, which was his job (Electronic Technician) and Rank (Petty Officer First Class). Whenever anyone would ask him, “How are you ET1?” he’d always, without fail, respond loud and proud, “BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” It made everyone around him smile. I’ll never forget that. I don’t have the oomph to shout that, yet. But I do try to say things like, ‘Wonderful,’ ‘Excellent,’ or ‘Fantastic!’
So, why don’t I say these things every time? I have noticed that on days that I’m tired, I fail at being the person I want to be. There’s a quote, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I couldn’t tell you who said it originally because I heard it from a guy on a podcast, citing another guy who read it somewhere. The point is, whomever said it, said it right!
I began to take notice of the days that I didn’t get enough sleep, or didn’t get GOOD sleep. The next day was a struggle, every time. I didn’t want to do anything, and even worse, I would make poor decisions when eating. Whatever was quick and tasty. I had no desire to cook, and I wanted something bursting with sugary flavor, anything to bring a little joy to the day. After eating crap, a short burst of energy is followed by a crash, and even more exhaustion, demanding another cup of coffee. After work, I’d go home, and kick up my feet, put the TV on and say, “I’ll hit the gym tomorrow.”
Over the years, I’ve learned that my Holy Trinity is Sleep, Diet, Exercise. In that order. I’ve had some days that I’ve forced myself to go to the gym even when I was tired, and it feels a little better than days that I skip, but I’d still be in a depressive fog. Even if I ate clean all day, if I was tired, it felt like work, and I just wanted to hurry up and get to the part of the day where I was just mindlessly watching TV or playing a video game.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with watching TV or playing games, I love both of these activities. It is the mind set while doing them that I’m attacking. On days that I am well rested, eating good, and working out, whether at the gym, outdoors on warm days, or at home doing calisthenics, I feel like I earned the reward of TV or games.
Here’s what I’ve managed to do for my own schedule and what I HIGHLY recommend for everyone. Go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. I used to say things like, “I can’t sleep at night,” or “I’m a night owl.” Whatever the reason, I wanted to use the time at night for myself and to wind down after a long day. I’d stay up until 2-3 AM and wake up exhausted all week, and sleep in a little bit on the weekends.
Now, I’m in bed between 10-11, closer to 10:30 most days, 6-7 days a week. I wake up at 5:30 on the days that I have to teach at 8 and 6:30 on the days that I don’t. I’m working my way down to being in bed between 9-10 and getting up between 4:30-5:00. For now, I still get great sleep, between 7-8 hours, and when I wake up in the morning, my new routine is coffee while I work on the fiction story I’m writing, then I read about 25 pages of a book, and then I write a blog post for my site.
I started by just fixing my sleep schedule. Baby steps. I woke up at 5:30 and had coffee, and I’d surf the web on my phone or just sit and relax and enjoy the quiet. Once I got used to it, I began writing in the morning. I felt so great and proud of myself, and that carried through my day. I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning and write some more.
After a week of doing that, I decided to add the reading to my morning routine as well. A few days of doing both, and now I’m blogging too. I think that when I am able to get up even earlier, I’m going to add another thing to my mornings. I’m trading my exhausted evening TV time for some morning, productive, feel-great-about-me time!
Sleep is the most important factor in the Holy Trinity. If you want to get your life together, or improve how you feel on a daily basis, then I recommend you work on your sleep, diet, and exercise routine. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to take on all 3. Just start with fixing your sleep schedule. Go to bed early, and wake up early. Just start there, and slowly add one more improvement when you feel you are ready to take it on!