Monday, July 18, 2016

Scarred



I have a scar on the top of my left foot.

It's a pretty big scar. One time I slathered it with tinted moisturizer to try and conceal it.  My futile effort fell flat; in fact - it made the scar even more obvious.  My scar is the ghastly remnant of a battle wound, so to speak...one that I've learned to live with, having given up on it ever becoming inconspicuous months ago.

I have a surprisingly vivid recollection of how it all happened.

It was an early Saturday morning last August in San Francisco.  Life hadn't seemed to be going my way that summer and I was struggling to cope with the implications of that by living a life of reckless abandon.  I was leaving a late night party that had turned into an early morning party.  I decided it would be a good idea to walk home instead of Ubering so I could get some air and clear my head.

Disheveled and despondent, I trudged up a steep San Francisco hill toward my apartment.  As I struggled to maintain my composure amid cars whizzing by I fell.  My heel had gotten stuck in a sidewalk crevice causing my foot to hit the uneven pavement hard.  Hard.

I began to cry softly as I looked down and noticed blood gushing from the arch of my foot.

"DAMNIT." I muttered to myself, as I scoured the street to make sure no one had seen me.

I carefully picked myself up, collected the contents of my purse strewn about the sidewalk and continued my walk home alone barefoot, bloodied and mortified.

I got home and cleaned up my wound, drunkenly dabbing it with unnecessary amounts of Neosporin in between helpless wails as I sat on my bathroom floor in my wrinkled dress someone had accidentally spilled red wine on hours before.

That night marked the pinnacle of a low point in my life - you know, the kind of low that becomes lower with each deep breath taken?  It was the kind of low that made me realize my mom was, in fact telling the truth when she told me life wouldn't always be easy...the kind of low that made me wish my 32-year-old self could sit my 15-year-old self down and say "Stop rushing to be an adult.  Seriously, stop it right now, it's not what you think!"

I wore my old, weathered Rainbows and put thick bandages on my foot every day over the next few weeks.  I doused my wound in Mederma every chance I got in desperate hopes of preventing scarring.

My hopes were dashed with each passing day as I dodged questions from friends and coworkers:

"WTF happened to your foot?!" they'd exclaim.

I couldn't wait for it all to go away; but instead of everything going away my foot got swollen, as if to say to me "Haha, you had a horrible night, you got your heart broken, your  job sucks and I'm going to make you acutely aware of all of this every time you look down at me."  Then I reminded myself that my foot can't talk because it's an inanimate object, doesn't have vocal chords and OH MY GOD THAT'S NOT THE POINT.

Now, on this day, I'm left with a scar shaped like New Jersey covering the top center of my left foot.

I see it in the morning when I wake up and walk to the shower.
I see it as I'm putting my pants on.
I see it when I try on shoes.
I see it when I get a pedicure and have to force a smile at the Asian pedicurist who looks up at me inquisitively.
I see it every time I go to cross my legs whenever I'm on the bus or have a meeting with my new boss.
I see it when I put my feet up on the coffee table as I sit down to watch a new Dateline episode.
It's always there and will be until the day I expire.

For a long time I'd look down at my scar and I'd think of the guy who'd hurt me when he asserted "it's 80% there, but it's not 100% there.  I need it to be 100% there.  I wanted it to be there.  You're great.  I'm sorry."
I'd think of how his obligatory, hollow, handle-with-care letdown speech made me feel remarkably less than 100%, even though I know that wasn't his intention.
It just wasn't there.  
Nothing personal, as they say...even though nothing in the world could ever feel more personal than the sting that accompanies unrequited love.

Sometimes I'd look at my scar and remember my unfulfilling job that summer; the one that made me feel irrelevant, careless and dim.  I'd think of how much it sucked and how it made me feel like my brain was turning to mush. 

Sometimes I'd look at it and think of how I hadn't been a good, stand-up friend that summer.

"You have a choice," I can remember my friend telling me one day as I complained to her about things that had happened in the past. "You always have a choice.  Be more careful about how you choose to look at things."
I can't find the words to express how much her words resonated with me.
It was such a simple concept, but one I hadn't explored too much: we all have the freedom to choose to look at things any way we want.

I can look at my scar and choose to think of how on that horrible morning, I picked myself up off the ground, collected myself, found my way home and took care of myself.
No one else cleaned me up, put me to bed and tucked me in.
I did. 

I can think of the guy who made me so sad, acknowledge that pain, realize that he wasn't my person and know that there's someone out there who is.

I can look down at my scar and choose to think about how much better of a friend I have tried to be since last summer.

I can look down at my scar and choose to think of the shit job I had when I fell as a blessing; it got me one step closer to knowing what it is I do want to be doing.

I can look down at my scar and relive the past over and over and wallow in the cesspool of mistakes and terrible choices I made that summer until I lose my fucking mind.

Or I can look at it, realize how destructive negative thoughts can be, know that what's done cannot be undone and choose to be present.

I can look down at my scar and be reminded of how much I felt that summer and as a result how much I wrote...and wrote...and wrote...for months and months until I almost couldn't write anymore.  I can think of how the events of that summer were catalysts; they forced me to look inwardly, and inspired to me to write perhaps the most important thing I've ever written.  They also inspired me to write thisthis and this.  I found unparalleled companionship in writing; and reached new depths as a writer as a direct result of those rough months.

I can look down at my scar every day when I get dressed, ride the bus, try on shoes, walk up the steps to my apartment and choose to see failure, sadness, helplessness and shame.

Or I can look at my scar every day and choose to see resilience, humility, inspiration, hope and life.

Today and always, I choose the latter.

That is my final choice.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to Excel at a New Job

En route to kiss kick some corporate ass 
I was twelve years old when I landed my first job at a hot dog stand, a cute little extension of The Black Pearl (home to the most delectable, sumptuous clam chowder this side of the 'sip) in Rhode Island (special thank you to Tom Cullen for hiring me; Tom is, incidentally, a close family friend - and I'm thankful that what I'm about to divulge didn't wreck said friendship). 

It was back in the summer of '69 '94.  The stand was in the center of the wharf, a tourist-infested area crawling with people who say things like "let's pahhhk the cahh and get some chowwwda."  I was forced to wear a purple windbreaker-esque uniform and a ridiculously small newsboy cap that made me look like an uncircumcised penis. I'll never forget the day Tom shitcanned me for giving some obnoxious Masshole a moldy hot dog bun on purpose accident.  I walked home in my Barney uniform and foreskin cap with tears streaming down my face and snot dribbling down my nose.  It was a sad, sad day for me and my astonished, confused parents who couldn't wrap their brain around the fact that their daughter wasn't able to sustain a job at a hot dog stand. 

Little did I know this unfortunate incident foreshadowed a slew of tragic work blunders I'd face as an adult, none of which I'll get into now as I know my parents read this and drudging up the hot dog stand mishap is probably more than they can take for the rest of the century today.

That said, I'm happy to announce I got a brand new job that doesn't involve purchasing the entire feminine aisle of Walgreens, refilling tampon baskets and practically inserting Superplusses into coworkers because they're too helpless and needy to do it themselves and GOOD GOD THAT JUST CONJURED UP THE WORST MENTAL IMAGE IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MENTAL IMAGES.  I'm not sure if it's because this new position is falling on the heels of my old bitch-job, but I've never been more excited to start a job ever. 


But I digress.  Let's talk about the office.  I'd describe the office as an amusing and torturous corporate playground where humans are reduced to robots programmed to exclaim "Happy FridaaAAAY!" in a douchey crescendo at 9am on the dot at the end of every week.  The office is a place characterized by heinous carpeting, defunct water coolers, expired Lean Cuisines, awkward bathroom run-ins with a superior (excuse me boss lady - you're supposed to be a robot who gives me my paycheck, I do not need to know that you have a digestive system), cliched e-mail dialogue (if I had a nickel for every time I used the term "following up" in the subject line of an e-mail then I would be making money in a very strange way), and of course the dreaded Monday morning spent nursing a hangover in your cube whilst feigning interest in your coworker's prolonged story about his nephew's weekend soccer game in Marin.  It's all so contrived, so sterile, so... hilarious.  

I've been preparing myself for my new office environment by jotting down a list of "rules" I need to abide by in order to thrive in my new job.

1. No breastfeeding in the office.

2. No pulling pranks on unassuming coworkers.



3. No leaving vile, childish notes for coworkers.





4. Don't eating rancid smelling fish or any creature that once inhabited the sea for lunch, lest you want to alienate yourself.

5. Don't blog about said job.  Even if the material is better than Nacho Cheesier Doritos and an orgasm.

6.  Don't get too personal with coworkers.. they need not know about your propensity to floss with your hair under dire circumstances.

7. Do ask questions
 Inquire about health benefits.  Ask a fellow woman coworker which gynecologist she uses/recommends at Kaiser.  

8. Do appear to be detail-oriented.
Also ask aforementioned woman coworker which gynecologist at Kaiser provides the most durable stirrups.

9. Do set your new password to your Outlook to: new england clam chowder. (If you do not get this reference then you and I will never be close.)

And, that's all I have.  Happy dry hump day, people! 

xo,
Nige