218//365 — The Last Day of My Summer

It’s the last day of my “summer”. Tomorrow I go in for my mandatory six hours of training for the year—referred to as our “in-service” day—where we are reminded of all the rules and management attempts to make us care more about what they want than what we want. It’s a chance for us to ease back into the workplace.

After tomorrow, everyone will come back and begin practicing their routes for the new school year. Over the next week, we’ll call the parents of our students, confirm pick up times, and birthdays, known allergies, and best disciplinary strategies. The 6th graders and the 9th graders will have orientations and new drivers and assistants will work through their fears.

It’s strange to live this yearly routine into adulthood, but I can’t imagine life any other way now. I get to have a second season of beginnings, a new start, a new year, the same as we get in January, and next year I’ll get another season of freedom too.

I’m already looking forward to it.

***

I’m trying something new here. In addition to my regular posts, I’m adding these short, daily-ish journal entries inspired by Thord D. Hedengren.

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Thank you for reading, and please, let me know what you think!

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217//365 — Sunday Night Battle

Sunday nights are always a battle between the need for just a little more time to relax and the increasing worry over Monday’s obligations and responsibilities. Personally, I like to alternate between the two in half hour blocks.

I get half an hour of writing in and then do a half hour of frantically cleaning and writing out my to-do list. I get half an hour of scrolling Instagram and a half hour of answering work emails. Then there is half an hour of TV and cuddling with my fiancé on the couch, before half an hour of counting down the days, hours, minutes until it’s the weekend again. I get half an hour of bliss and half an hour of self-loathing. Back and forth, back and forth, a bit of freedom and then letting myself feel out the yoke again.

Happy Monday eve.

***

I’m doing something new here. In addition to my regular blog posts, I’m adding these daily-ish journal entries. I was inspired to try this by Thord D. Hedengren.

Oh, and, as always, thank you for reading. If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Remember What the Work is For

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“I want to read and write and be very quiet.”

— Martha Gellhorn

Sometimes I forget what I am supposed to be working toward. I forget that it’s not the accomplishments or acknowledgments, those are simply a means to and end. The end is the life I dream of, a life where I can be free of societies norms and other people’s expectation.

My dream is to live a life where I am surrounded by ideas, with plenty of time to think them over and through, and then send them back out into the world with a little of myself in each one. My dream is to live a life of reading, writing, and quiet.

Sometimes I get caught up in reading all the marketing and productivity blogs and trying to do what they do. Sometimes I get caught up in networking and social media and blogging and promotion and hashtags and groups and fan pages and the photos and it never seems to be enough. I feel like I spend all my time doing a whole lot of things that at the end of the day don’t feel anything like what I wanted to be doing with my life.

What is it all for if I never feel happy? What is it all for when it’s all about other people and their posts and their pictures and whether or not they will please follow me or like this or share this? When is it about me? When does it start to feel good and right and meaningful? When do I stop chasing the means and finally get to the end?

I think the time is now. Or maybe, some of the time is now.

This week, I’m going to carve out time that is for living the life I want to live now. My wants aren’t too complicated or costly. I just want time to learn and think and share there is no reason I cannot have that today. There is no reason why any one of us can’t carve out just a little bit of our future dream and bring back here to the present reality.

This week, live a little of the life you always wanted to. Plan a small trip, take a small step, pretend you already are where you always wanted to be. Do it because tomorrow is never promised and you don’t want to spend what little life you have chasing a dream you might never get to see made real. Do it because you deserve a little of that happiness now dammit!

Of course, reality will fly back in and remind you that you need to be creating, selling, sharing, and marketing. It will remind you to get up early, post to this timeline or that, set your SMART goals, build good habits, and make progress every day, but never forget what it is all for.

It’s all so that you can be who you want to be and live the way you want to live, one day, some day, and for a little while, this day.

***

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Featured image via Unsplash

Maybe It’s Better to Starve

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a good one, even if it is a bit stressful. I did a bit of jean shopping yesterday at Hollister (all jeans $25!), so I woke up excited to wear a new pair. It’s the little things, you know? I woke up early. I got to work, and it was quiet. I felt motivated and got right to work catching up and planning for the week. Then things fell apart a bit, and it looks like the week will be even busier than I thought, but that’s ok. I have new jeans that fit perfectly!

“I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

— Charles Bukowski

These past few months have been a little tense at my workplace. For new followers, when I am not writing I work for the transportation department of a large school district here in Colorado. We’ve been dealing with an employee shortage and working something like magic to get these kids to and from school, but we are rapidly approaching a breaking point. If things don’t turn around soon, we may find our jobs contracted out to another company.

I had hoped that I could begin making a living through writing and keep this job as a backup working only part-time. I wanted to find a way to transition from the safety of a steady paycheck to a life where nothing is certain, but I am happier. I worry the safety I feel here is what is holding me back. Change is scary, and I may be using this place to put off taking the leap. I love the kids and all the time off I get, but this just isn’t my passion. Writing has always been what I wanted to spend my life doing.

Two things have changed in the last few weeks. The atmosphere here has become toxic. The stress of the shortage is tearing this place apart, and I feel like I am sitting in a cloud of negativity all day. My coworkers have become an emotional drain and trying to be positive is only irritating everyone. When I’m not on my route, when I am in the lounge or office, I have to isolate myself. I spend much of my day with my headphones in now. I don’t want to live like this.

Then, last week I read a piece by Charles Chu titled Charles Bukowski: The Slavery of the 9 to 5 that made me face the fact that there is no safe way to become a full-time writer. In it Bukowski answers an ad in which an author offers people $100 a month to quit their jobs. The above quote was Bukowski’s answer.

I read it and I thought, “Damn, I’d rather starve too.”

It will huge financial and emotional risk, and I have a way to go to work through my fear, but if I want to live a life that makes me feel alive I have to take it, and in the end, it may be worth it no matter what the outcome. I can’t do it today, but I have to work much harder to get out.

It is a huge financial and emotional risk but if I want to live a life that makes me feel alive I have to take it, and in the end, it may be worth it no matter what the outcome. I can’t do it today, but I have to work much harder to get out. I, like Bukowski, would rather “play at writer” than stay.

Of course, I could always just find another job but will it be any better in a new place than it is here? No other 9-5 will make me feel better, I’m sure of that. At least here I have the kids to keep me smiling and plenty of time off to write.

When your day job isn’t your dream job or passion, can be a place of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. Day jobs where turnover rates are high, where employees are aware of how expendable they are, where they aren’t nurtured and encouraged, these places are soul crushing. Positive thinking will only get you so far. Humans need to have something that is just theirs, something they can be in control of, something that makes them feel useful, unique, and needed. We need to feel free. We need to feed our souls.

Capitalism tends to create a system where workers are little more than slaves. How many of us feel like we can move away if we wanted to? How many of us can take a vacation in the foreseeable future? How many of us can easily take a day off to rest without being penalized or made to feel guilty? How many of us feel like losing our job would be the worst thing that could happen to us? How many of us feel like losing our jobs is something that could happen, easily?

How many of us work jobs where we do as little as possible while there and lose sleep worrying about it in the night?

Too many of us.

Most of us are nothing but a means to someone else’s ends. Most of us aren’t even making enough money at the jobs sucking at our souls to enjoy what little time we do have to ourselves. A whole lot of human life, potential, and happiness gets wasted because the system is set up to make us feel like there is nothing out there for us. We are taught that we are free, but we are never treated like it. Life shouldn’t be like this.

I know everyone can’t leave their jobs. I know all of this is easier to say than do. I am living proof of that. I know what my passion is and I still can’t gather the courage to leave. I can’t leave because I am embarrassed by my passion, because I am afraid, and because I don’t believe in myself. I’m working on that, but I’m trying to light a fire under my ass. I’m reaching out because I need help and because I want to help others too.

This week, just think about your life. Are you happy? Is there somewhere else you want to live or work? Is there some significant change you want to make but it just feels so big that it may as well be impossible?

Maybe we only think so because we are told so. Maybe it isn’t so hard to make a change after all?

Maybe just trying will be all our souls need in the end.

***

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Featured image via Unsplash

My Thoughts are with Chattanooga

The images coming out of Chattanooga, Tennessee this morning, where a school bus full of children appears to have hit a tree, rolled over and split apart, are gut-wrenching. I’ve been glued to the news reading reports of children leaving the wreckage, dazed and traumatized, of children who haven’t yet been reunited with their parents, and of children who would never see their parents again.

These images are hard to look at. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and heartache that must be felt there, but I do feel pain. News of the crash has affected me—and many that I know— deeply because I work in the transportation department of a large school district.

In those images, I see a bus that looks like many of the buses coming out of our terminals and kids that could have been any of the kids we transport.

I’m not a school bus driver, I want to make that clear. I am a bus assistant. I work primarily on special needs buses, where there are fewer children but often much more extreme behaviors and dynamics. I have been working  here for over 10 years, doing the same work, often with the same kids, year after year.  I take the job seriously and I think of all children we transport as precious. I strive to advocate for safety and care in all that my coworkers and I do.

Everyone I work with takes the job seriously and crashes like this shake us up. This scare us.

Working on school buses isn’t easy and I think the general public has very little idea of how difficult and thankless the work is. We transport up to 77 children at time. Seventy-seven loud, rowdy, and often defiant kids. We transport in the summer heat and the winter cold. We transport on icy roads and around other drivers who think they can out run and out maneuver the bus. The parents never appreciate us enough and the teachers never consider us for a second.

We transport in the summer heat and the winter cold. We transport on icy roads and around other drivers who think they can out run and out maneuver the bus. The parents never appreciate us enough and the teachers never consider us for a second.

It isn’t easy work and those that do it, do it because they are passionate about it.

We consider ourselves the first face of the school district the child sees. In many cases, we are the first adult the child sees in their day. It is up to us to keep them safe, to keep them ready to learn, and to be a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear when they feel most alone in this world.

We love our kids and we love what we do and it worries us when on of our own act recklessly.

Today my thoughts are with Chattanooga, with the parents, students, first responders, and the transportation staff who are picking up the pieces of their lives today. I hope we can all learn something from this. I hope that I never have to see images like this again.

I hope that the school bus will continue to be a place for children to have fun, to feel safe, and to know they are cherished.

***

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Featured image via the Chattanooga Fire Department

Look After One Another

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s imagine that Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. Let’s imagine all the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore and that we’ve been given a second chance to do it all again, and this time, we might even get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves, and for thinking about the changes we want to see in the world. Monday’s are our new favorite days!

As for me, this Monday is off to a better than usual start. I managed to wake up on time and get ready without having to rush. For some reason, I didn’t require the usual mental lectures and accosting I normally inflict upon myself. I just did what needed to be done. I’m hoping the rest of the week will be just as smooth.

“Anyone who cares about you has to realize that you need a little looking after, nothing else really matters.”

— Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena

A few weeks ago we received terrible news. One of our drivers was found dead in her home. The cause was determined to be Pulmonary Embolism or blood clots in her lungs. I didn’t know her very well, but the news saddened me. She had not shown up to work for two mornings before our staff decided to do a “welfare check” on her. I know it wouldn’t have saved her, but I don’t think it should have taken that long for someone to realize something was wrong.

It’s sad that she was so alone. I thought about how many people out there could be hurt or dying, and no one knew. I am lucky; I live with someone. Someone who makes sure I am okay throughout the day, every day, but what if I didn’t? I realized that if it weren’t for my girlfriend, it might be days before anyone realized something was wrong with me.

I don’t call people often and if they call me and I don’t answer they don’t think that’s out of the ordinary at all. They I am just doing what always do, avoiding people, or maybe I’m sleeping, or my phone is in another room. Unanswered texts are normal as well. I like to talk to people when I’m ready. I’m sure we all know someone like that.

What if something happened to them? How long until you knew?

It was not like this woman not to show up to work. Not only that but we work split shifts, which means we check in between two and three times a day. By the midday or the afternoon, when she didn’t show up for the second time, someone should have tried to find out what happened to her.

I understand that your boss is not your keeper, but should they be? For many people, their coworkers are the people they see more that family and sometimes even spouses. For some people, their job is the only place they go regularly and the only place they might be missed from.

So, this week I think we should all think about what our responsibilities are to the people we see every day. What would you do if one day they stopped showing up? Would you shrug your shoulders and make jokes? Or would you do something about it? What would you do?

I have a friend I know lives alone. When she is planning on missing a day she tries to let me know and days she isn’t here, and I didn’t know about it in advance, I text her and make sure she is ok. I check with our office to see if she may have called in or if she had previously planned to be out. I ask other people she talks to if they’ve heard from her. I make sure I know she is okay.

We shouldn’t let days go by before we notice someone is missing or before we question whether something might be wrong.

This week, find someone to be responsible for. The person who works at the desk next to you. The coworker you see on your smoke break. The one who you’ve spoken to a few times but haven’t quite crossed over into friendship with. Talk to them and find out if they live alone and if they need someone to check in on them should they not show up.

I know it sounds weird or invasive, but I can’t stop thinking about that woman who lay dead in her home for two days before someone thought to call her. It’s sad. It’s sad we live this way. It’s sad we would rather not bother someone, or get in their business, than to make sure that they are okay.

We have to get over these uncomfortable feelings we have about caring for strangers.

We all need looking after, and for that to happen, we all have to be willing to be one another’s keeper.

***

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Original image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // East of Eden and Conquering My Fears

Hello, dear readers! Happy Sunday morning to you all. Thank you for stopping by for a quick cup of Joe and a quick catching up. I have a date in a couple of hours with my beautiful lady. We heading to our favorite movie theater for some brunch a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s—one of my favorite movies ever!—and afterward, we are visiting my father to celebrate his birthday.

But I normally ramble on so much I am sure you could use the break.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had a pretty good week! My complaints about work last week have gotten a little better. The driver I’m working with has laid off the preaching and lecturing, although she is still a terrible driver. The student has warmed to me. She is nonverbal and typically pays those around her no mind, but every once in awhile she will hold my arm and squeeze it or take off her shoes and laugh as I put them back on her over and over again.

She did hit me once, but it wasn’t personal, just another game to her and a reminder to me not to drop my guard again.

My girlfriend isn’t having such a good time at work. Where I just ride along on my little route, she over the years has risen through promotion after promotion to become the one in charge of making all the routes. She has a team but as their manager, she handles all the big problems and the angry parents. The beginning of a school year is her busiest and most stressful time. She’s working close to 12 hours a day, and I every day worry about her a little more.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have a pen pal! An email pen pal, or more specifically an “Awl Pal”.

The Awl is an online publication with the motto “Be Less Stupid”. They are pretty awesome, and they have a pretty awesome newsletter that “changes in theme, format, and frequency every week “. A few newsletters ago they asked subscribers to send in some info, and they would pair them off into “Awl Pals.”

I was paired up with Jeff, who I won’t tell you anything about because he is a “Google-able” person. We’ve started emailing back and forth, and it’s been fun to learn about someone who I have never met and live clear across the country.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have finally conquered Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It was a hard read, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. Quite the opposite, it was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. It was funny, and emotional, and confusing, and it had some important things to say about men and war. The characters really got to me too. I’ve been dreaming about them, and I am sad and frustrated by what they went through.

I started reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck this week, and I am positive it will be another one of my favorites too. From the very first page I was hooked. I love the way he writes his descriptions of the land and the references to biblical stories is very interesting. I expect I’ll finish it soon since I can’t put the damn thing down.

***

If we were having coffee, I would very quickly tell you that tomorrow is the big day! The day I take my first adult driving class. For those of you who might not know, I have a very strong phobia of driving and so, at 31 years old, I still don’t have a license. Unfortunately, Denver isn’t the kind of city that is easy to get around without a car, and I have to find a way to get over this fear as soon as possible.

I did a little research and because the fear of driving is not entirely irrational it is very hard to get over. Know one can tell me that I will be safe because I know that people get into accidents and even die every day in cars. But one thing I can do is get instruction from a certified instructor. My girlfriend has been trying to teach me, and although she is very good, I worry she may be forgetting something or not telling me something in a way I can fully understand. Taking a class will make me feel more at ease and more confident, hopefully.

Wish me luck!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have to get going now. We’ll be heading to the theater soon, and I still have laundry to do. I really hope you had a great week, and I hope your weekend has been a relaxing and rejuvenating one.

Please, drop a note in the comments and let me know how you have been. This evening, after I’ve made it back home, I’ll check up on you all.

Until next time :)

There is no you. #blackoutpoetry

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