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Insomnia.

Dear Blog,

Did you know that insomnia can cause depression?  Did you know you could function in society not knowing that you even had either of these conditions?  Apparently you can.

It’s been awhile.

In a few days, I will be trading in the sights of Chapel Hill:

For the sights of Omaha:

(I’m pretty sure that picture is copyrighted, but anybody who lives in Omaha or has visited has probably taken the exact same picture. I know I have.)

I am excited to visit home, to eat at some restaurants that I’ve missed (I’m talking about you, La Buvette), and see old friends.  I am also a bit nervous.  It’s been three years since we visited, and I know the city has changed a lot since we’ve been.  Will it feel totally normal driving around?  Will it feel like we’ve been gone three years?  Will it feel like home or more like an acquaintance?  I am starting to think that we didn’t schedule ourselves enough time. There are a lot of things I want do do, a lot of people I want to see.  I really hope I get to do everything I want, but it’s likely I will miss out on a few things.

***

In other news: I recently turned 30.  Woo!!  Not really.  Or sort of.  I am not quite sure what to think of my 30′s yet, to be honest.  So far, it’s almost like I feel 20 again, except with more experience this time around.  The other day, I found myself in a coffee shop with a notebook and a stack of books.  I had mistakenly left my phone at home, and did not bring my laptop with me.  So in that regard, it really did feel like ten years ago, when not everyone had cell phones yet, and many people went to coffee houses to read/write/hang out, instead of using them as their offices.  So the other day, I had my books, some of them I had read for the first time in my early 20′s, and as I skimmed through them with my 30-year-old brain, I understood the words in a new light.  I had been lamenting over my loss of that sense of discovery I had when I was 20, when everything was new, when I had no money, and very few possessions.  Everything I owned could fit into my 1990 Geo Prism hatchback.

(That is not my specific car, but mine was also red and basically looked just like that one, except with more rust.)

Basically, I am looking to simplify my life where I can.  In the past, I’ve always become too idealistic about my abilities to simplify my life, trying with all my willpower to get my life under control, to more or less be the perfect example of a human being.  However, now all I really want is to start looking around a bit more at my life, and start deciding what is important.  I want to focus less on what I “should” be doing, and more what I truly want to be doing.  You know, the things you dream about doing on the days that you really don’t want to be at work.  Most people don’t think “I wish I wasn’t at work right now, so that I could go home and waste five hours on Facebook.”  No, instead we think things like, “I wish I wasn’t at work right now because I’d like to get to the farmer’s market, read a book, or maybe just go see a movie by myself.”  I guess I just want more moments.  Moments similar to those I had ten years ago, when even though I was working 55-hours a week to save up for moving to North Carolina (the first time), I was still so inspired that I would write on my lunch breaks, I would spend my little free time at coffee shops and hanging out with friends, and I would really look at the world around me, amazed.

I want to really see again.

Can I just say…

I love my husband.

Sunday mornings.

Lately, I have felt inspired more to share, but I have a hard time knowing what to write about. I’ve been wanting to catch those beautiful but maybe mundane moments.  My beautifully mundane moment this morning was making my french press coffee.  It’s something I’ve done so many times that I don’t even have to think about it, but maybe it was just something about the light in my dirty kitchen that made this morning’s coffee extra special.  Even the coffee itself tastes better than usual. 

I remember back when Doug and I were living in Omaha and had probably been married less than a year, we spent a Sunday morning meandering around downtown.  We basically lived on the outskirts of downtown, so it was nothing to walk outside our apartment’s courtyard and head down Harney St.  That morning we walked over to Dixie Quiks for a delicious breakfast and then proceeded to walk all over downtown.  And not the normal parts like the Old Market, but back in that weird area near The Flatiron building, and then down around some office buildings and I’m sure we finally made our way to the more normal areas of downtown.  The point is that it made for an out of the ordinary Sunday morning experience.  It was kind of deserted and not many people were out, so we almost felt like we had the city to ourselves.  

All this makes me realize that it is so interesting to be from somewhere where you do not currently live.  When you grow up somewhere, or come to identify a place as “home”, the glasses just get rosier and rosier the longer I’m away.  Because now I would like nothing more than to be in Omaha right now, walking around downtown, seeing those familiar faces of people who will never leave.  I’ll have my chance this summer, when we’ll be heading back for the first time in three years.  It’s hard to believe, really.  

For me, a good Sunday morning is discovering something new about something that has been there all along, whether it be a street corner in a town you’ve lived your whole life, or something like making coffee.

customer service

For all the crap I talk about being in retail and dealing with awful customers, let’s take a minute to talk about the brighter side of retail.  (Also let’s keep in mind that I may or may not have had a couple glasses of wine before writing this post.)

I’d say that at least 75% of people who are employed have a desire to put forth a decent effort at their job. This makes us feel like what we do has some worth, and it gives us some of that much talked about “job satisfaction.” I am no different. While my job might not matter in the grand scheme of things, people come to me inquiring about something they need for a recipe or that they read about in the New York Times or that doesn’t interfere with some allergy.  When I can help them achieve this, I am happy.  When I can’t, not only are they upset, but I do feel like I have let them down, even when I know it wasn’t my fault.  

Yesterday at work I had a woman asking me for raw cacao powder.  We searched high and low and the best we could find was raw cacao nibs, which theoretically could be turned to powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder.  However, while her quest wasn’t exactly met, we did have a lovely chat about raw food diets and other things, and she was impressed that although I am not a vegetarian or raw foodist, that I knew about her lifestyle.  After our interaction in the baking aisle, I went back to my department.  

A few minutes later, she finds me at the charcuterie counter and holds up the item she was looking for, which the whole time had been about twenty feet from where I was.  I immediately knew where she had found it, and felt kind of stupid that I hadn’t the sense to look where she did.  But on the other hand, although I get paid to help people find the things they need/want/don’t know they ever wanted, sometimes it’s the customers themselves who end up showing me the way.

I also recently had a lady who was so thrilled when I was able to identify the mysterious “American version of Manchego” cheese she was looking for (Gran Queso).  We then had a totally unrelated conversation about Hawaii.  She left the department, and as I went to clock out for the day, she found me even though I already had on my coat and led me by the arm to the produce department where they were sampling white pineapple (from Ghana of all places) and made me eat a bite.  She went on and on about how she’s from Hawaii and she’s still never tasted a pineapple like that.  And wouldn’t you know it, it really was the best damn pineapple I’ve ever had.  So good I had to buy one.  

So: Dear Customers: Although you often drive me bonkers and I firmly believe you leave your brains in the parking lot before you enter the store, some of you are pretty cool and gracious.  Even though interacting with customers day in and day out can be pretty mentally draining for me, there are a few who continue to restore my hope that humanity is not a lost cause.  These people have either, 1: worked in retail at some point in their lives, or 2: had decent parents who taught them how to treat people with respect.  

Okay, this spur-of-the-moment-right-before-bedtime post has come to an end.  Goodnight!

space invaders

I care a lot about personal space.  A lot.  Too much.  I obsess about it.  I give people dirty looks at the grocery store.  If you are too close to me for no reason, I will usually make it very obvious while I remove myself from the area that yes, you are too close to me and that is why I am moving.

But. I will not actually speak up.  I won’t say anything.  I am unable to open my mouth and say something simple like, “excuse me, but would you mind backing up just a bit?”

The questions are: If I actually start to speak up and clue people in that they are a space invader, will they get mad at me?  Will they move?  Won’t I feel worse after the confrontation than before it?  If I start to make a habit of it, will it get easier?  Am I content with the fact that I will probably never be able to visit India??? (fine by me: don’t like Indian food. Blasphemy!)

I know there are some people who either have no “bubble” or people who are simply rude and want to either get in front of you, or crowd you so that you will move.  Heck, I am certainly guilty of being tailgater.  But that’s in a car.  I’m talking about the people who could have stood anywhere in the not-crowded bar last night but still chose to stand directly in front of me and my husband while were talking. (I caught the eye of one of them, and gave him an exasperated look.)  I’m talking about the person who stands so close behind me at the grocery store.  In fact, let’s just put it out there: I don’t like lines.  It usually has nothing to do with how long they are.  In fact, most cashiers know how to move a line quickly: if a line is moving slowly it’s usually the fault of the customer, 95% of the time.  (And if not, it’s because you’re at T.J. Maxx where they only put a UPC tag on 43.9% of their items.)  I don’t like lines because no matter what line you’re in, everybody thinks that moving closer to the person in front of them will move the line faster.  It won’t.  Stop doing it.  (Again, these rules do not apply to driving.)

Moving on.  Please reply and tell me whether or not it is in my best interest to start speaking up and letting people know they are invading my space.  Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you are told by the brunette in front of you, “dude, give me some room, will ya?”

Sometime in high school, I recall making two lists.  An “I Like” and an “I Don’t Like” list.  The “I Don’t Like” list was much, much longer.  “I don’t like cold butter” was on the list.  Because seriously? What is more annoying than going to butter a piece of bread with some cold piece of butter, and all you do is mangle your bread with some big clump of butter dug into the upper left corner while the rest of the piece remains sad and lonely.  

A large percentage of my day is spent sighing in reply to my constant annoyance.  I mean, really, don’t all these other human beings understand that I, Liz, understand the one true and correct way to conduct themselves in public?  Don’t they understand I have major space issues, and I don’t appreciate them walking so close to me when they have plenty of other room to get from point A to B?  

The question is: have I always been so annoyed?  I think yes, but what I am realizing is that it tends to deal mostly with how people interfere with my perception of space and my place in it.  I really don’t understand why people don’t look where they are going.  I don’t understand why people don’t just GO at the green light, but I would like to think it’s because they’ve always wanted to know what a 1992 Honda Accord’s horn sounds like.  I also feel sorry for the next person who crowds me in line at the grocery store because I’ve decided that I am going to start confronting these public space invaders.  I should have done this to a guy at the store yesterday who stood maybe 1.3 inches behind me.  I wanted to head-butt him, Zidane style.  (That’s a soccer reference to the one time I watched a game, and it happened to be the World Cup.)  I think the aggression comes from growing up with brothers. 

But it’s not just my spacial issues.  In fact, I’ve been reading a lot lately about Sensory Processing Disorder.  Pretty much I am always, to some extent, in “fight or flight” mode with regard to what I take in through my senses.  I absolutely do not tolerate whistling, any kind of high pitched noises, such as squeaky shopping carts, which unfortunately are a part of my life since I work in a grocery store.  One time a customer had such a squeaky cart that I went and got her a non-squeaky one and personally transferred all of her groceries from one cart to the other.  She was sympathetic but replied, “I have three kids, I just don’t notice these things.”  To which I said, “well, I don’t have kids, so I do.”  However, I don’t think it has anything to do with kids.  In fact, I remember riding on a bus full of about twelve thousand nine-year-olds (okay maybe thirty) for six hours as a camp counselor, and my ears were literally ringing after that bus ride.  

Okay okay, the point. (Is there one?) Back to the whole Sensory Processing Disorder.  You can look it up for yourself, but pretty much I have an “adverse reaction to what most people consider harmless sensations” says author Sharon Heller of “Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight.”  I am annoyed. By everything. Or so it seems.  It explains why I often feel like the world is out to get me, why I am a literal people magnet.  It also explains why I had to go to Rite-Aid to get ear plugs on my lunch break today because so many customers had squeaky carts, and for some reason everyone was whistling today, and I had to buy ear plugs in order to make it through the rest of the day without breaking into tears or throwing up.  Because I felt like doing both.  I wish I was kidding.

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