Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Customer Service Plague: Incompetence

First off, let me just say that if you are not a people person I beg you, for everyone's sake (and safety), do not go into customer service.

While I've had great experiences with customer service, I've also had awful ones. By the way, I consider administrators of any kind in the "customer service" field. If you must interact with people for your job, you are customer service representative.

I figured it would be appropriate since today is "Administrative Professional Appreciation Day" to complain about all of the "Administrative Professionals" that should get the hell out of the customer service field.

Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade that I've learned since I became a glorified secretary.

1. Have some semblance of a brain. You do not have to be brilliant to be in customer service, it's not rocket science. HOWEVER, you must know how to deal with individuals of all intelligence levels - because you will come across them whether you like it or not.

If you're a complete idiot and I have to deal with you for any kind of help, it will not be pretty. You have probably been at least partially trained to do your job if they're letting you deal with actual people, so if you don't know any basic information then what the hell are you actually doing for your job? If you don't know the answer to a question - refer me to someone who does.

Also, I don't care if you are as smart as the sole of my shoe - you should be able to at least greet me with courtesy and respect. There is an etiquette protocol that should be followed in any customer service field, do not stray. If I do not ask about it, do not tell me about yo' mama, yo' brotha, yo' baby daddy, what you did this weekend, how your date was last night...etc. There are certain lines that should not be crossed by the representative unless the customer takes the first step. I'll admit, sometimes I like socializing with my representative, if you can comply with number 2 on this list.

2. Multitask. If you can't answer a phone properly and chew gum at the same time, we have a problem. Chances are, if you are answering the phone the person on the other line will want information that you need to get off of your computer, out of your desk, from the underside of Snapple doesn't matter; you must be able to handle more than one thing at once. Additionally, if you cannot handle two phone lines at one time, what the hell is wrong with you? All it requires to pick up the second phone line is to say "I'm sorry could you please hold on a moment?" and click over. I understand if it's your boss that you're talking to, the other person can go to voicemail, but IF YOU ARE ON HOLD AND STILL CANNOT ANSWER THE OTHER LINE, you are a fool.

3. Learn to ask questions. As an administrative aide, you are working FOR someone, you don't have all the answers. This especially applies when you are being trained for something and work in an office with other people that may have more information about what you're trying to do or the problem you're trying to solve. If you don't have the balls enough to ask a damn question then you're not a team player and you need to remove yourself from the game.

If you have a question or are unsure about something - ask please. No one is going to bite your head off. That being said, if you're asking the same question for the 20th time or asking a stupid fucking question (and yes, there are stupid questions as much as there are stupid people) then, and only then will your head be snapped off. Otherwise, your coworkers/managers/bosses are all there to help so don't pretend you know what you're doing and fuck it up.

4. Speed the fuck up. If it takes you 15-20 minutes to do what it can take any other person 5 minutes to do, you're wasting time. ALSO, if this task takes you out of the office and I have to cover your ass and your phone without you mentioning to me (or anyone else) where you're running off to, then I have a problem with this. I don't know what you need to do to get yourself moving, but do it. Starbucks? 5 hour energy? I don't give a flying fuck, just take it in and let's get going.

If it takes you 10 minutes to read to me some computer automated statement that's 3 lines long, I don't want to hear it. If you're spending precious time twirling your hair or snapping your gum, you're taking too long. If there are more than three people on your line and you're taking more than a minute and a half to ring someone up with 10 items or less, you're going too slowly. If I'm waiting more than 5 minutes for you to notice my existence and begin helping me, you're oblivious and need to get your shit together. Just like you do not have all day, neither do I. Call for reinforcements if you need them, but I guarantee that if my patience are tested all hell will break loose and you're going to need more than just thick skin to deal with me.

5. Communication is key. If I send you an email that requires confirmation, please respond to my email with a confirmation. I don't care if I'm 4 feet from you and you scream in my ear that whomever I've asked you to confirm for a meeting is coming, I will not remember this 6 weeks from now when they don't show up for the meeting that it's your fault I was under the impression they were coming. That being said, if you decide to take what I scheduled for your boss off of their schedule for any reason after it's been confirmed, let me know. LET ME KNOW. If I get caught between a rock and hard place and look like a fool because you don't know how to do your job, we're going to have a problem.

I will rant about the ability to speak the English language properly at some point soon so I'll leave this section alone.

6. Have a little drive, no one likes a lazy worker with no aspirations to learn and get better. It's really easy to demonstrate that you're understanding new tasks, but it's really frustrating when I can't tell if you've actually understood what I taught you. I didn't teach you to do something for solely my benefit, the point was so that you learn to do the task, correctly, efficiently and well enough that I don't have to follow up with you every time you perform this task. I'm not asking you to love everything you're doing, but when I tell you about little nuances of a task, it's best to make note of these and actually take care of them in the future.

7. No Houdini acts please. It would be awesome if you would mention you were going somewhere if it's for more than 10 minutes so that I can be aware that I need to turn around and make sure no one is waiting for you or needs help. If you're gone for longer than that and people are kept waiting and I have to tell them "I have no idea where she went" then there's a problem. Refer to number 5.

Of course I just got busy at work. Gonna have to come back to this later.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Letting Go and Decision Making - or a lack there of.

For anyone who knows me, they know two major things about me that I seem incapable of doing; letting go and making decisions.

I'm going to go about this a completely syntactically incorrect way in that I will start with what I said last and backtrack to what I said first.

Decision making:
When I was a little kid, this is all I would do. I would make decisions for myself, my family and my friends. I would decide I wanted what you had and then I would take it, and you really couldn't say anything about it. I decided what I wasn't going to partake in, and I would sit on the sidelines. I basically chose, with quite ease, the path that my life would take. How I got to this point of indecision however, I'm not sure.

Let's rewind a little to when I stopped being so bullheaded but also stopped making real decisions.

I was 13, I had just started high school, my mother and I were on the brink of killing each other (literally, she didn't think one of us would make it through the year alive - and I just KNEW that it would be her), I hated my school and regretted every second that I was too lazy in 8th grade to get the hell out, and I didn't have any real friends (which I didn't actually realize at the time - I was quite the loner).

Please note that at this point I did both things of which I am now capable of doing: I made a decision to change, and I let go of who I was. I want to attribute the beginning of my metamorphosis into passivity to the appearance City at Peace (now the Possibility Project) in my life. When you think about it, it's kind of ironic because City at Peace (CAP) was all about community ACTION and CHANGE, and I was pretty much against changing myself.

In the way that I start doing anything in my life (by having things fall in my lap) I found City at Peace, or...they found me. I was a highly coveted private school student that could round out their wide demographic and diversity of participants in the program. I was somewhat "involved" in the arts - although I was taking a backseat to my life, so perhaps the arts were more "involved" with me. After being coerced to audition and months of tug-of-war between my laziness vs. my need to experience something new, I decided that CAP was something I could be involved with.

Let's just say this was one of the best decisions of my life because I ended up meeting my future best friend who has altered my life in ways I can't even explain - trust me, an entry will come about her (especially when I get into the story telling and less of a background on who I am).

 I can honestly say that after I chose to commit to CAP (difficult for a commitment-a-phobe), I didn't make a real decision again until I decided to leave Chicago - one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my life and one of the most painful ones as well. Things happen for a reason though, right?

I think one of the reasons that I stopped making decisions is because it became more important for me to be liked by the people around me. I started doing things just to get approval - because who doesn't seek approval? I did a lot of things in high school that would not make my parents proud, all in the name of being cool and having something to talk about. I will get into some of these stories as well because this was the beginning of my drinking days and those are always hilarious. I will probably say things about that time of my life that certain people, if they read this, will be upset to hear, but I've "decided" that this blog is going to be cathartic and I will lay everything out on the table (using my 20/20 objective hindsight). 

To sum up, I became who I thought other people wanted to be around and lost myself in the process - thus making it impossible for me to make a decision about pretty much anything. I mean I hardly even decided which college to go to for godssake. I definitely didn't choose the grad school to go to, but that all worked out halfway decently in the end.

I've been lucky in my life that things have just sort of worked out. At some point, everything falls into place, with limited effort exerted by yours truly.

These days, I like to call myself "go with the flow" because if I didn't go with the flow then I would damn well stagnate and not go anywhere. I can pretty much be convinced to do anything, for better or worse. Please don't leave decisions up to me, because the only thing I factor in is my laziness these days. How much will this affect my ability to lounge around my house and not exert any energy? I try to balance this out with how much fun I could have - but laziness usually trumps, which is just a bummer. Don't ask me to decide where to go to dinner, because I will eat anything. Don't ask me what movie I want to see, because I'll watch anything. Don't ask me what I want to do, because I'll do anything. That's "go with the flow" and not just "indecisive to the extreme", right?

Letting go:
The only thing I can let go of are material things. I surely cannot let go of people and situations. I swear that I dwell on everything (I'm still regretting not going to Virginia with B two weekends ago). Maybe this attributes to my inability to make a decision as well; I'm just always afraid of making the wrong one or lettering the wrong one go.

I spent three of my teenage years catering to the every whim of a particular person - we can call her "N" and while she is still extremely unappreciative for everything I gave her, I made the decision to do these things so I'm trying not to complain about them. Plus, it's been 7 years, I can't be bitter for that long, can I?


I think spending so much time burying yourself underneath someone else makes it easy to cling on to people and not let go. Honestly, you start to believe that these people are what define you. And, although at some point you feel like you're smothering the shit out of them, you just don't know how to be without them and this is bad news bears. I've always subscribed to the "you can't be happy with someone until you're happy with yourself" and although I can't quite say that I'm unhappy, I also cannot say I am "myself". I'm still looking for who I am (which feels like a wild goose chase), but in the mean time I feel like I'm hoarding people in the process.

Typical girl, that's what I am. I like the people who show no interest in me, and I get bored of the people who are really into me. I think being fat inhibited my ability to develop self confidence in that I spent so much time vying for attention (mostly male attention) and trying to get guys to like me in spite of my fatness, that I lowered all of my standards and kind of took whatever was offered to me - here are some of those bad decisions and epic stories coming up again...Unfortunately, now that I am literally half the size that I was, I still have these ideas in my head, because believe it or not, it's harder to trim the excess brain fat than it is to trim the excess body fat. I may not actively believe that I should take whatever I can get, but underneath it all, I passively believe it - and passively is how I function. I can still be convinced to do anything.

Whisper sweet nothings in my ears, make me promises all the while stabbing me in the back and robbing me blind;  I will still turn a blind eye and give you another chance. This has GOT to change.

There are enough strong women in my life that I really need to look to for an example of how to get my act together. I basically need a by myself meeting; I just need to tell myself over and over that I'm worth it, that I don't deserve to be treated the way I often am...that it's OK to let go.

We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime...let me tell you about someone I will call Delta that I can't seem to let go of.

It all started back in 2009 when I moved back to New York. I met this guy (isn't that how most stories start). In the beginning it was all peaches and cream (isn't it always). We were cute. I would go visit him and he would cook lunch and we would hang out and all of that delicious stuff. He was the first and only guy I actually brought around my friends and felt comfortable doing so, we even went out and danced! This "honeymoon period" was short lived. He soon disappeared. This is not uncommon - I'm used to this Houdini shit that some guys like to pull, but months later who comes a-callin'? That's right: Delta. Odd, right? I didn't really know why he disappeared in the first place, but OK, he's back and things are back to being honkey dorey again right? WRONG.

There is nothing more in the world that I hate more than a lack of accountability. What's so hard about following the cardinal rule: DON'T SAY IT IF YOU DON'T MEAN IT. I don't need to be fed bullshit in order to continue speaking with you. I'm extremely low maintenance, there's no need to lie to me or lead me on. It just doesn't make sense to me. If you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain time, be there. You have a 30 minute acceptable late window without a phone call/message saying you're running late - anything beyond that is unacceptable and just plain rude.

Well folks, Delta is as dense as lead because this boy does not understand the concept of accountability. I told him time and time again - "I don't give a flying fuck if you come over, just don't say you're coming and then not show up and not tell me that you're not coming." I am one of those overly considerate people who when you say "I'll be there at 7pm" and I agree to that time, I will be where I said I was going to be and I will not make other plans. This folks is what we in the bizz refer to as ACCOUNTA-FUCKING-BILITY.

All of this being said, in January after having missed my birthday and not showing up after my surgery like he said he would (the only guy that I wanted to see within a week of my surgery) - I finally let go. Let me tell you, this was no small feat. I deleted his number off of everything I had it on. I didn't respond to messages, etc...I went to go delete him off of my facebook at some point in late February when I realized that he was still my "friend" and what did I stumble upon? Baby shower pictures. That's right. So, being the slight stalker I am, and not being great at this letting go concept, I perused through the baby shower album figuring it was the baby shower of one of his brothers.

My suspicions were not confirmed. The last thing in the world that expected to be true, was. In 2008, this man had a daughter. Yup. Delta has a kid. Now mind you, this wouldn't normally be a problem. Yes, I prefer to be with men without children because I like to pretend that in the future we might work out and that we could start a family together (and that second family thing, doesn't fly too well with my imaginary future) - but it's ok to have kids. Most guys in their mid-to-late 20s do, especially the kind that I seem to like. The problem is, Delta told me he didn't have kids. He used to "joke" about getting me pregnant - NOT A FUNNY JOKE, mind you...but I laughed it off. Again, never in a million years would I have expected to him to be a dad already. How can I be sure those pictures were from his baby shower you ask? Well there was a picture of the cake with his and his BM's name on it. I'm pretty sure that confirms it. I was flabberghasted.

Fast-forward to March. I lost my phone after an amazing trip to South Beach (which I will talk about in a later entry) and he called. Being that I didn't have any number saved on my new phone, I answered. Silly me. First thing I asked was "how's your daughter?" I know this is kind of rude to start a conversation with, but I was really curious why he wouldn't have told me about the kid. Welp, he still didn't. Denied that shit up and down. I hung up the phone - lying is unnecessary, especially when you're already caught.

After all of this - somehow I'm still humoring him and will probably see him later today when he comes to pick up his hat from my house. I just can't let go, especially of people that I  used to care about.

This is my life. Stuck perpetually with my bad decisions and the bad decisions of others. But as I always say "The worst decisions make the best memories."

All quotes from:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to: A Guide to Transportation Etiquette.

By transportation I mean planes, trains and automobiles (this includes buses and other moving "vehicles" - as well as some notes on walking to these forms of transportation because that seems to be everyone's goddamn problem in this city)...

As an everyday rider of New York City's famous MTA I have come up with a few tips and REQUESTS for all of you public transportation riders out there and I will give you this tips as I explain to you what my morning commute is like each and every GLORIOUS day.

Here's a little background on commuting, and I'm not saying that this it true for every city with a public transportation system as "complex" and "popular" as the MTA, but I'm pretty sure this goes for most natives to these types of locations. First off, just because you are not from a particular city (i.e. New York City) or have not been here for very long, DOES NOT, and I repeat, DOES NOT give you free reign to walk around like a chicken with your head cutoff (i.e. eyes to the sky). I promise you, this will completely piss off the natives and who really wants to see an angry native (we've all seen those Cowboy and Indian showdowns). Part of your job as a visitor is to assimilate. You are supposed to be one with the culture you are visiting, learn their customs, their likes, their dislikes and let me tell you, there's nothing more that a native dislikes than a tourist throwing off the rhythm of the city. All of this being said, you should probably spend a little time figuring out how the city you are visiting runs.

For example, if you ever visit Times Square, which is pretty much where everyone who visits NYC will go at least once, do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Do not stop in the crosswalk, do not block a whole corner with your gaggle of guests. Step to the side folks. If you would pay attention a little bit to your surroundings (and this does not mean gawking up and the big buildings and lights) you would probably notice that the city has a heartbeat and that we are all like little blood cells swimming through its veins. When you stop, especially with your group, you are creating a clot and this backs up the whole system and can cause major complications. So think about that next time you and your clan decide it's a good idea to block the blood stream - especially within such a major artery like 42nd Street.

Ideally, and lots of people don't seem to know this, but the rule is "Stand Right, Walk Left". Now I know this doesn't necessarily work when you have two way traffic, but generally the inside lane is where the speed walkers are, and the outside is where the meandering masses frolic (you will find the occasional person who is so fed up with the blockage of foot traffic that they will choose to walk curbside in order to avoid the stop and go of people who obviously didn't learn how to walk correctly as children - I am often one of these). This "Stand Right, Walk Left" concept is incredibly important when it comes to escalators. I swear, a million bouts of frustration could be avoided if people followed this rule. This allows the lazies to linger on the right and those in a desperate rush (which we are in 85% of the time) to zoom up and down the escalator with ease. Now pay attention folks, this is really important. Just because you are with another person riding the escalator, does NOT mean you should stand side by side. For those approximately two minutes when you are on the escalator, you can stand behind your friend, lover, child...etc, but I repeat, DO NOT stand side by side. You're jamming up that vein again and one day someone's going to have a coronary because you couldn't be courteous enough to follow protocol. One last thing for the ladies, if you have a purse that will impinge on the left side walker's movement, please hold the damn thing with your right hand. I can't tell you how many purses I've had to compete with. (NOTE: this protocol should be followed with staircases and moving sidewalks as well)

Speaking of staircases, I am blessed with the amazing fortune of having to get off the 6 train during morning rush hour at 68th Street - Hunter College. Now for any of you who have gotten off of the train at this stop in the morning, you will understand how poorly organized the station is. There are four exits and generally a line to get out at each of the staircases during the morning commute. Now I understand that people need to get into the station and want to get down to the train, but have you ever seen video herds of animals crossing the Savannah during the migratory months? Well that's what the stairwells are like at Hunter College. Animals, in a hurry and a herd, slowly ascending two staircases in waves of train arrivals. During the five minutes it takes for a train to let out its passengers, those of you who are trying to get TO the train, stand aside. Don't try to push your way down the goddamn stairs when you have a hundred people trying to push their way up. I promise you, another 6 train will arrive shortly and you will have a small window of opportunity to get down the stairs and catch that train. You will not get down the stairs any faster by going against the grain, you just piss people the fuck off. Q and B train riders, same goes for your asses. When I get off the train at Church Avenue on my way home with the other hundred people getting off the train, and we're all herding up the stairs to get out of the station, don't try to come down the stairs, just don't do it...This is not a Nike commercial!

Here's another thing about those exit stairways at Hunter College. I truly believe that during rush hour the big staircases should not be considered "entrances". The staircase already creates a bottleneck that hundreds of people have to funnel down to single file, why would you try and cram yourself down those particular stairs when you can clearly see how many people are trying to get up the stairs - I just don't understand some people.

Now that we've talked about getting on and off trains, let's talk about what to do once we're on the public transportation.

Here are my tips for making your ride on the iron horse/bus more pleasant for everyone:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. There are enough germs in the air and I swear if some of your saliva comes flying at me because you couldn't cover your mouth/nose, something might come flying at you with five fingers.

- If there are a lot of people on the train, take your bag off of your shoulder and either hold it down at your side, or if it's a larger bag - put it on the floor, placing a foot on either side of said bag for stability, space conservation and safety. Do not hit me with your bag, or anyone for that matter, because you are too lazy to remove it from your back for the duration of the commute.

- Do not hog the pole, everyone should be able to hold onto whatever pole is most comfortable for them.Why are you leaning on the pole when people clearly need to hold on to stop from being flung all over the place?

- Give up your seat for elderly, pregnant women and children. The children thing is really important, because you don't want these rugrats running all over the place wreaking havoc when their parents can contain them quite easily by restricting them to one sitting area. I will get to controlling your children later in this entry.

- If you happen to get a seat, please move as far in one direction as you can. If your body doesn't physically need two seats, don't take them!

- Don't deposit garbage on the train, they have something called trash receptacles for a reason - your TRASH goes in them, not on the floor of the train.

- If you are a train sleeper, please make sure you're not one of those people who leans on your neighbor. I've thrown a lot of elbows in my day because some people are just not meant to sleep on trains. I'm sorry if you're sleepy, learn how to control your body or don't sit next to me. Snorers - this kind of goes for you too. If you know you're a fucking rumble machine, don't sleep on my train!

- If you step on someone's foot, apologize. This can go really badly if you do not.

- Keep your music to yourself. No one wants to hear your music but you. If I can hear what you're listening to across the train, you're listening too loudly or your headphones are garbage and as I mentioned before there are TRASH RECEPTACLES for a reason. Also, you should probably get your hearing checked, because you're going to be deaf by the time you're 30 at this rate.

- If you're going to have a conversation with the person next to you, I don't need to hear it, unless you really want me to. If you really want me to, then keep talking as loud as possible and I will surely throw my two cents in.

- Don't block the doors. This means, moving as far into the train as possible when you get on. Just move in. I don't care if you're getting off at the next stop or 20 stops from now, I PROMISE you will be able to get off of the train. I have never, in my 24 years of living in this city, seen someone miss their stop getting off the train because no one would let them off. We want you off of the train as much as you want off of the train, why would we hinder you from giving us more space? I swear, my biggest train pet peeve is those completely obstinate assholes that like to play "guard the door" and don't even move when the doors open. I understand if you want to lean against the door, it's more comfortable than free floating in the middle of the train, but god-fucking-dammit, move out of the fucking way when the doors open. Let people on and off of the train, this is how public transportation works people. People need to be transported from point A to point B, and why should they have to battle your inconsiderate ass, just to get in the door for which they paid to get on.

There's actually more to this one because this goes the same for riding the bus. Move onto the bus, people. Pack yourselves in like sardines if you have to, but don't just hover around the door. I mean really, we're just going to sit here until everyone squishes in anyway, so might as well get a head start and get on there as best as you can because there's going to be that one day when all you want to do is get on the damn bus, but some pigheaded dickhole in the back of the bus decided either not to sit down or to take up more standing room than is necessary and that bus driver is going to close the doors on your ass because the bus can't move with passengers in front of that stupid white line. Karma is a bitch - remember that.

-Thrusting yourself onto a packed train is just ridiculous - there will be another one behind it. If you are unlucky enough to ever have to take a train that gets completely packed (i.e. and of the green trains during rush hours) you should know how frequently these trains come. We've all had to let 1 or 2 trains pass before we can get on at some point in our lives, but for those of you who haven't, you're probably one of those idiots who literally flings themselves onto the train. If the door cannot close with you inside of it, wait for the next train. If you have to put your hands on strangers' shoulders and propel yourself forward into a jumping motion at the precise moment that the doors are closing, wait for the next train. If you think you're skinny enough to squeeze into a paper this space between 6 people and a large metal door, you're not, wait for the next train. It's not the end of the world people, another train will come if you let this one get out of the station.

- This one is for the men - I don't give a flying fuck how big your nuts are or how big you think your dick is, you do NOT need to sit spread eagle on the train. Your sack just doesn't need the type of space that you must thing it does. Now I'm not saying to cross your legs, and I'm not saying your knees can't be apart to allow for more comfort, but if your knees are farther apart than your hips, then we have a problem sir. Close your shit up. Just like you don't want a woman with her legs open and possibly stinky pussy all out there for the world, we don't want to have to maneuver around your goddamn ego which has obviously caused your balls to expand in some unfathomable and physically impossible way. Learn some consideration, be a gentleman.

-If you are not feeling well, get off the fucking train. If I hear one more "Due to a sick passenger..." message, I'm going to flip out. I've been sick on a train before, and I've almost had to get off myself, but goddamn it - I'll be damned if I throw off the whole rhythm of the city because I was the asshole that didn't get off the train. Who the hell do you think you are when you do that? There are VERY few circumstances where I can see something instantaneously coming over a person causing them to be so sick that they would delay the train.

- Lastly, deodorize before you get on public transportation. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a small space with lingering funk. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to shower IMMEDIATELY before getting on the train - although that would be nice; and this doesn't mean that you need to DRENCH yourself in perfume or cologne, but please please please put on some good deodorant (some people need stronger stuff than others and this is perfectly fine, just use what you need). If your pit is going to be in my face and all I can smell are onions, and dirty feet - we have a problem.

The following is a special message for all of those parents out there: Control your children. Screaming and crying in public places are unacceptable. Figure out how to shut your kid up and keep them quiet for the duration of their ride. If this means that you need to have a quiet conversation with them or otherwise figure out how to keep them preoccupied, please do it. Don't ignore your crying/screaming child on the train. I don't care if you're trying to Ferberize your child and teach them self-soothing, or if you're trying not to spoil them or give in to whatever they're screaming and crying about but give the fuck in for the sake of the people around you. You can do all of the teaching of lessons on your own time, not mine. If your child is an animal and cannot be contained - consider a different form of transportation or stay home. Please and thank you.

This control is amplified even more when you're flying somewhere with your child. Now I don't know what makes you parents crazy enough to travel with obnoxious children, but let me just tell you how much this upsets the people that have the "pleasure" of traveling with you and your young one. Drug them, feed them, give them a movie to watch, but don't let your child scream bloody murder on a plane, or run up and down the aisles because you didn't get them tired enough in the airport to nap. Don't let them kick the back of my seat and please cover their little mouths before their coughs infect the recirculating air. All of these suggestions go for movie theaters as well people. As soon as your child starts making noises above a whisper or jumping around like a little hooligan, it is time to take them out. I don't care how much you paid for them to get into the movie, I don't care how badly you want to see the movie, your child should be your priority - so contain them. Also, stop taking your sleeping children to adult movies because you couldn't find a babysitter and you think they'll sleep through it. They won't. Rent it in a few months, buy a bootleg in a few days, stream it tomorrow, but do not bring your infant/toddler to a movie that is not appropriate for them. In fact, infants and toddlers shouldn't be going to the movies anyway. Take them to the fucking playground.

And for my final wrap up, as a driver of an automobile and also a frequent pedestrian - there are certain rules of engagement here too. If you are not already crossing the street when the light turns green, don't do it. I promise my car will do more damage to you than you will to it. I may end up in a very bad situation because of it, but I had the right of way (unless you're from one of those ridiculous places that the pedestrian always has the right of way). Do not think that putting your hand up in a "stop" gesture will stop me. What you should be doing is putting your hands together in the "prayer" gesture and hope to god that my car's brakes are working well and that I plan on stopping for you.

Basically, I'm asking you to be considerate when traveling with others, because one day someone's going to have a mental break over this stuff and it's going to be bad for everyone...Expect a "Due to an earlier incident..." message.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My hate-hate relationship with the gym

I started going to the gym in September of 2008. Mind you, the only ever "gym experience" I had ever had prior to September '08 was gym class. That's right, never before had I stepped foot in a gym willingly and honestly 'til this day, I still never have.

My hate-hate relationship started with my gym teacher in Elementary School. Let's call him, well let's call him by his name: Walter fucking Paller. Now let me tell you, I think this man was out to get me from day one. Imagine a GI Joe that was blond, souped up and still yet kind of chubby. Now imagine having to face evil GI Joe as a child of 5-9. Throw in a touch of obesity and you have my first experience with the gym. The only ever game I enjoyed was bombardment because my fat child body could block the dodgeballs from knocking down the oversized plastic pins with some amount of ease and therefore, no real effort was ever NEEDED. (For those of you who don't know what bombardment is, basically you split a large group of people into two groups and set up 9-10 large plastic bowling pins in a line across both sides of the gymnasium I would way about 3 feet apart, maybe a little more - I've never really been good with size. Now the point of the game is to throw/roll dodgeballs at the pins and knock the other team's pins down before yours are knocked down without crossing the midline of the gym. This and scoop ball will always be my favorite gymtime activities.) I believe it was Walter's goal in life to harass me. Maybe he saw potential in me - because he did try to get me to join the basketball team in middle school, but I hated team sports (and I was a bad sport - some of us are just not meant to lose). Perhaps it was all with good intentions that he made me cry on almost every day that I had gym class, but my pudgy body could not deal with this man who made it his pet project to try to get me to not be so pudgy. Needless to say, his "good intentions" never went anywhere as I just got fatter and more resentful.

Now with this scarring memory in mind, fast forward to middle school. I thought I was done with this man, but alas, he had grown out of teaching little kids and he moved on to middle school with me, where I was sentenced to spend at least one more year with him as my gym teacher. I hated running laps and walked most of them with him yelling at me - and then I would sprint, faster than most people, and almost die of hyperventilation afterward, merely to appease fat evil GI Joe. He used to make me do basketball shooting drills, but I was way more contented to sit on the sidelines and control the scoreboard and scorebooks - which I did for every basketball team and every volleyball team when I was in high school. I liked being AROUND activity, but my fat ass refused to participate. The one time I did try to join a team in school, somehow one of the teachers had convinced me to try out track and field (the field portion, obviously - because there are no runners that are anywhere near as overweight as I was). He convinced me to try shot put. No problem, I was big and could probably develop my arm muscles in a short period of time. So my first practice, they made us walk up to the park and then to warm up, we had to run back and forth between these two distant markers up and down this hill. Well guess what had rained the day before and on my first trip back to the first marker I slipped and nearly sprained my ankle. In fact, I probably did sustain a minor strain. Thus concluding my track and field career. The only "sport" I ever played (and my dad might be upset at me for using quotations) was bowling. I bowled competitively in high school and probably didn't excel to the level that I could have thanks to my baby bearing hips, that most of my weight so nicely latched on to, getting in the way. Oh and of course my lack of stamina, because honestly, when was the last time you saw a fat person sustaining a physical activity for more than an hour "comfortably"?

I was actually more of a cheerleader. Now you may laugh at this, because I would surely have laughed if I had seen myself in high school "cheering" for my team, but it's true. My primary goal on my bowling team was to play cheerleader, and keep everyone in good enough spirits that they wouldn't give up on the game. I still don't know how those bowling alley chairs held my weight, but I sure did a lot of bouncing around on them in the spirit of cheering. This was the only time I was ever ok with team sports because I didn't feel like I was letting the other players down. I guess after 10 years of bowling competitively with your dad gives you some basis of skill and therefore I couldn't completely suck. Also, bowling is rarely considered a sport by those who don't actually bowl, so maybe I never did play a team sport.

Now the reason for all of this jibber jabber was to explain my relationship with the gym. About two and a half months after my surgery, I figured it was time to take advantage of the window of opportunity I had where I was obviously not consuming as many calories as I was burning (the diet after gastric bypass surgery is severely restrictive). So, I started going to the gym. I felt like a damn fool and prayed that no one would be at the elliptical in the corner of the small gym at my grad school. That's all I did for a while. Ellipticized or whatever the word is for working out on the elliptical. Cardio was a good start. I then started to throw in some upper body machine work, carefully reading the instructions on the machines which I'm sure no one besides myself actually reads anymore. I dragged Mallory along to the gym, but I was definitely out of shape comparatively, yet I somehow forced myself to keep going. Probably because I couldn't avoid it, it being in the basement of the building I spent every day of my life for a year. A few months later I got a personal trainer at this individual training studio and that was pretty stupendous. It was enjoyable because I enjoyed spending time with my trainer, he was just a good guy. Shout out to the only good Jason I have every met thus far! Also, it helped that someone was basically forcing me to do shit that was actually beneficial to my health and would work my muscles in the right way. When I moved down to Evanston for the summer, I actually joined a gym that I really enjoyed as well. Got another trainer, so I was training 4 times a week and it was just great. I also wasn't eating like complete shit because I didn't live at home with my mother. (Moving back home/living in my house is going to be a major entry in this blog at some point.) I lost over 100lbs that year.

Fast forward again, I move back home and other than occasionally venturing up one flight of stairs to use my father's elliptical or any of the weights that I lugged back from Chicago, I don't see a gym for a year. I start working at my current job and am snacking all the time, because what else does one do when they're sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day with nothing else to do? A coworker convinces me to go to a benefits fair and there I see the promotional table for New York Sports Club. Now I knew I had to get back into the gym and I figured join somewhere expensive as hell that I can't avoid so not only does my Jewish guilt kick in because of the money I'm spending, but my laziness can't win because I literally have to walk past the gym anywhere you go in this damn city and it's just impossible to avoid. So I started going back to the gym. I started going to classes, doing cardio, etc... I even tried Zumba - but that was a horrible misery of a failure because I have no rhythm unless I have a sufficient amount of alcohol coursing through my bloodstream that would allow me to pretend that I wasn't given the "white person no rhythm" curse. Alcohol is actually very convincing, I swear I think I'm Shakira when I drink - but these hips are lying...deceptive fuckers.

All was going decently well at the gym until December 17th when I took a great spill. Most people don't believe that the injury I sustained could actually have come from just slipping on the concrete, but I'm incredibly good at hurting myself unintentionally (I only emotionally hurt myself with what seems like intention). So I step off of the sidewalk into the crosswalk while repeating in my head for the past 20 minutes "don't fall, don't fall, don't fall", and BAM, I fell. I slipped and tore my knee up. I urge you not to look too closely at the picture I'm posting if you are squeamish (sorry if you already did). It was not an enjoyable injury. I went to the ER at my job, gushing blood and 25 stitches and 8 hours later I returned home with a cane and a lot of pain killers.

I spent most of the winter nursing my knee back to health. Oddly enough, no "permanent damage" was sustained. It was, as they say, "only a flesh wound". January I felt warranted not going to the gym because of my knee although my orthopedist said I could go back once I got my stitches out, but what does he know? Then of course I ended up getting surgery on February 3rd, to start the process of getting rid of the excess garbage left over from my morbidly obese days. Three weeks after this surgery I was told I could go back to the gym, but what do plastic surgeons know? Needless to say, on April 4th, I returned to the gym (and have only been 3 times since).

I still don't enjoy pushing myself to go, because I am still intrinsically lazy. Every day I say "I don't want to go to the gym" but if you'll remember back to my last entry, I love to complain!

In my mind I want to take dance classes - and in my mind I am actually capable of dancing at these dance classes but I have almost come to grips with the fact that I will look like a damn fool trying to dance. Latin dancing is not for me, and I'm not cool enough for hip hop. My feet are too flat for ballet and I'm not ethnic enough for African dance. I'm not peppy enough for jazz and I'm not hippie enough for modern. All in all, I'm just not a dancer but I will watch the hell out of other people dancing! I'll stick to my drunken dubbing and working out on machines; that is just fine by me.

What's behind and what's ahead.

It took me a long time to get here, just over 24 years actually. I could say just over 25 years old, but if your age is being counted in months it doesn’t really count – and it’s less confusing for me to say 24 when that’s how old I am. In all actuality, my life didn’t really start until June 30th, 2008. I say this because after 2 years of passively (and sometimes actively) trying to get approved for Gastric Bypass Surgery, I finally had it. That day is the day what will forever be known in my world as “the beginning”. I want to say that what came before that day was something like a prologue or introduction. Everything was just leading up to a monumental life change, but I suppose you can’t have a major change without having something to change away from.
So here’s the sum up of my “prologue”, which I will most likely get into more detail about at a later juncture, but for now this is more of an introduction to my current life and not a time travel episode into my past. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to parents who met at college (the one I ended up going to). I am the single product of my parents many tries at children. Maybe that makes me special, or maybe that’s why I was such a handful; there was so much anticipation built up for my arrival that I was spoiled rotten for the first half of my life. Here’s the other thing that I was when I was a kid (and beyond): Fat; obese, morbidly so. For some people this may just be a body type, but for me, it was a defining lifestyle. That is how I lived my life. I lived fat, ate fat, breathed fat, it is who I was. I’d like to say there was more to me, but fat, spoiled and bitter were probably the three things I truly was. My mother’s “emotional eating” relationship with food caused me to eat, while my father’s “hatred towards food”  
relationship…caused me to eat. Double whammy; I ate to commiserate with my mother and rebel against my father. I was basically a typical kid/teenager that used food as a tool to cope with my life in general. Don’t worry - my blossoming relationship with food is still as strong as ever, regardless of what my body has been through to correct that. The doctors were right, changing one’s outside appearance doesn’t automatically change how someone feels on the inside. Now keep this in mind readers, because this is an important part of my current life – this fat girl stuck in a not-so fat girl anymore’s body.

Now imagine being defined by the size of your body. Sure I had a personality, sure I was a great friend and would bend over backwards (obviously not literally – because that would’ve been IMPOSSIBLE) for the people I cared about (however few and far between these folks were), sure I was funny sometimes (thanks to years of building a defense mechanism that wouldn’t cause people to hate me). Basically, I was a lot of things – but happy wasn’t really one of them. I was oblivious for a lot of the time. I spent time around people who I didn’t think were judging me based on my size. I went to a school that I had gone to since before being really fat mattered so people wouldn’t even bother harassing me – which sometimes I wish they did because maybe it would’ve sparked me to change, but probably not in hindsight. I was also angry, and this is where the bitter part comes in. Maybe I was angry at the world, maybe I was angry at my parents, but I was probably just angry at myself. I needed to have control over everything, and yet the one most important thing for me to be in control of, I had lost complete and utter power over; I couldn’t stop eating. Add food, a pinch of laziness, a handful of bullheadedness, a smidge of self hatred and a lack of motivation and you have the ultimate mixture for increasing size and bitterness.

That was my life. For 20 years, I grew. I grew physically and into an emotionally self-shielding individual that couldn’t maintain a real friendship but tried to be cool, all the while plowing through life with no time to stop and smell the roses. I sped through everything because one second to stop would force me to re-evaluate the life I was living, and who really wants to do that? Even when I was going through the process of getting approved for the surgery, I still kept on keeping on. I pushed through high school getting involved in what was then City At Peace, and every other extra curricular activity that required as little “activity” as possible. I developed my brain while I let go of my body. I could teach the class on being fat; Fat Girl 101 – how to get by in life while completely ignoring your health and physical comfort. This class would include lessons on “How to use food to as the solution to every problem” “How to drink enough so that you forget how fat you are” “How to let people use you in return for their ‘friendship’” just to name a few. I mastered them all, years of practice you know?

Anyway, while all of this undercover self loathing was going on I blew through college getting two degrees, making a few friends and not really having the college experience while convincing myself that I did. Graduating from college might’ve been the beginning of my graduation to the next stage of my life. I graduated in December 2007, and 6 months later I would be at Staten Island University Hospital getting my small intestine shortened and rerouted and having my stomach made smaller. A month later, I would move to Chicago and spend a year making great friends and hating every decision that made me move to Chicago in the first place. This is not to say I didn’t make the right choice. I loved Chicago; I love everything about it. I met the best people there and it was by far the best choice for me to be on my own during the first year after my surgery, but the reason I went out there – the grad school part, other than figuring out exactly what I DIDN’T want to do with my life, was a bad choice. We’re all entitled to them though, bad choices that is (and I’ve made my fair share of them).

My Chicago chapter will be written at some point in the future, but for now all you need to know was there was drama, intrigue, romance, murder! (Maybe not that last one, but there was a lot of pain and suffering sprinkled with amazing times). The gems are what I lived for. No matter how much I hated grad school I will never forget the monthly dinners with the girls in the city, the study sessions with Mallory, the driving lessons with Cynthia, the baked goods, the cafeteria lunches and the apartment I loved to name a few.

Let’s fast forward to now for a moment:
  • I’m eating dry cereal at my desk at work. 
  • I have a job that I love, although right now I’m bored as shit. 
  • I’m constantly on my blackberry. 
  • I am almost 170lbs lighter than I was in 2008 and wear pants that are 7 sizes smaller (14 if you are counting by actual number). 
  • I have a best friend that I love, great coworkers, a handful of good friends and more than a handful of men that would strictly like to get into my pants. 
  • I have a good job, great (though sometimes crazy) parents, easy living situation, and an abstinence pact with myself for the month of April.  
  • I have no true passions or aspirations other than to find something I’m passionate about or aspire to be.  
  • I love to try new things, but don’t often get to because for years I’ve been unable to maintain relationships with anything other than food and it’s hard to go out and do things alone. 
  • I’m terrible at starting conversations and am awkward in most social situations. 
  • I am still a great friend, bending over backward for those I care about, but I have a hard time meeting people who are worth caring about. 
  • I have good days, and I have awful ones. 
  • I don’t get enough sleep and I watch too much TV. 
  • I want people to like me so much that I lose myself in the process. I can’t make a decision to save my life and although that makes me “easy going” and “go with the flow” it also makes me “frustrating” and often times “boring”. 
  • I’ve lived in New York City for 19 out of my 24 years of life and can’t say I know the city very well.
  • I’m a poor host because I don’t know where to take people. 
  • I don’t have restaurants/bars/clubs to suggest because I really haven’t been to them. I can however, manage to complain about anything and everything. 
  • There is not a day that goes by where I don’t complain about something, stupid to major, but always something. I’m pretty sure that’s what defines me these days. The world would spin off of its axis and rocket out into the nether regions of the universe if I didn’t find something to complain about – and I’ve just about accepted this.

I can tell you all of the things that I’m not, but ask me what I am and this is what I’ll say: I am growing – and this time, not in size. I am changing.  I am learning. I am living. I am finding myself. I am not who I will be
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