Tag Archive | advice

The Dystopian Alternate Universes Often Go Unmentioned

There are some who believe in multiple universes, who envision the world with a slight change and suggest that the world exists in some way. The difference can be something as major as a different world leader in office, or something as seemingly insignificant as answering a phone call when you’re trying to get out the door to be someplace else. Maybe the South won the Civil War, maybe the Nazis took over or maybe Hitler never rose to power. Maybe Americans willingly sacrificed their rights to own guns because it was widely believed they weren’t needed, or maybe the gun-toting Americans rose up and fought to bring about a rebirth of their country. There are literally infinite possibilities for alternate worlds.

I’ve noticed one thing about the mention of alternate worlds. It’s always one pivotal event that changes everything, but nothing is ever discussed about how that world got to that pivotal moment or even what happened after that. Mind you, the end result is usually utopian in nature, because it seems as if no one really wants to think of how we could wind up in a dystopian society. And yes, it seems as if the alternate world centers around something large-scale, instead of assuming that there is an alternate world where everything is the same except that moment when you decided to hold the elevator for someone that you never saw again anyway.

With that said, imagine yourself in a world where you had a crush on a person, but instead of the real ending where it wasn’t to be, imagine you had a chance to date that person, and you did. Now ask yourself, if things hadn’t ended like they actually ended, but you actually got to date and become this person’s significant other, would your life be any better today or would it be worse off?

This entry has been in my head for a week or so, and it’s been anticipated by at least one reader. Fans of schadenfreude, rejoice! I hope I don’t disappoint!

The downside of letting entries occupy space in my head for extended periods of time means I don’t have the best recollection of conversations that are necessary to include, as a means of detailing how I acquired information in my life. But there was a conversation with J, which shouldn’t be a surprise because I occupy space in his house and pay him rent. And this was a wonderful conversation I had while crying, though I don’t remember why I was crying, I just remember it was leading up to or during that special time of the month that made me a bit more emotional than just having Pisces as my ascendant sign (yes, I am astrologically blessed, it is in the stars that I am to be an emotional wreck in life). So it was during this tear-soaked conversation that J said the words, “I had considered dating you.”

For those of you in the back who just snuck in, I was into J back in 2011 when I first started hanging out with him, over two years since we had worked together before I left that job. But I was angry about events in life that he was linked to (not directly, but more like six degrees of separation, where he was only separated by two degrees), and I kinda slapped his face, though not hard, just enough to get his attention. He asked that I leave his house immediately, and I did and thought I’d never look back. And now, of course, I live with him because that’s where life has taken me.

So of course I’ve been dwelling on all of that. He considered dating me, before I had slapped him. Why did I not care about slapping him, if I had a crush on him? Because I thought he just wanted to fool around, but I wanted to be in a relationship with someone again.

Had I known he wanted to date me, would I have still hit him? This feels like the major question to ask myself, and yet when I do, it feels like I’m weighing greed against my own guilt. Would I have still robbed the bank if I knew I was going to win the lottery? Well damn, who would have guessed it? Maybe you see the third outcome, which would have been to walk away and not hit him, and while it doesn’t guarantee absolute success, it comes with far less remorse. But sure, if I thought I could have had what I wanted, I would have refrained. I don’t quite remember what I felt back then, but it was as if I didn’t care what the outcome was, I didn’t think he was going to date me and so I no longer cared what he thought of me. I wanted to get away from the situation I was in, that he was linked to. Now I don’t even remember if it felt liberating or if it hurt to leave him behind like that.

After parting ways, I became closer friends with an acquaintance I made a few months prior. I trusted this person with details about my life at that time, and they seemed to care about me and hold me in high esteem. After my ex fiancé ended our relationship and I was scrambling to figure out what my next move was to be, I trusted this friend when I was told there was a rent-free trailer home in the near future that I could live in. The trailer home existed, but it needed a lot of work which wasn’t being done in a timely fashion. Worst of all, my brand new furniture and mattress, along with some heirloom furniture, were all left out in the elements to get ruined during this time. So I think to myself, if J and I started dating back then, I wouldn’t have trusted this person with my life or with other things that I couldn’t easily replace.

It was with my time spent with the untrustworthy friend that I went to a convention in New Jersey and met Pete. Okay, Pete is cool, I have nothing against Pete. We didn’t exactly date, we weren’t exactly in a relationship so to speak, but I can’t say more than that because there are things I haven’t explained about myself. But Pete and I had a bad day together, which came after I was building up frustration towards him because my concerns hadn’t been addressed and taken care of. But it was because of that bad day that I ended up meeting my ex fiancé. So, sure, if J and I started dating, I wouldn’t have met Pete, but Pete is one thing I actually don’t regret.

However, my time with the untrustworthy friend caused me to meet Pete, which in turn caused me to meet my now ex fiancé. And I think to myself, if I had nipped that bud, I would have never left for New Jersey, I might have stayed in Syracuse this whole time, and I’d probably have more of my inheritance left. I might still be working for Wegmans, though I might have quit working after I reached my five-year anniversary and pursued something with a higher pay elsewhere. Who knows, I might have just taken a couple of weeks off to go to Japan, since I would have had the money and a stable living space in Syracuse (assuming, of course, that my Mom’s passing forced me to move in with J if I wasn’t already living with him).

That’s assuming, of course, that J and I had a relationship that lasted up to my Mom’s passing. I’d like to think that a year or two with him would have been enough, that if it all ended, I could say that it happened, that a chance was taken. After that, if he dated anyone else, I probably wouldn’t mind so much. At that point, I’d know I really wasn’t the right one.

That’s not to say that we would definitely part ways amicably. Maybe he would emotionally wound me to the point where I stopped talking about it, only to resent him more strongly as time passed. Perhaps I would be the toxic, abusive partner, possibly just making myself seem like a victim to coerce him into always feeling like I need his kindness. It’s actually something I fear, becoming the toxic partner, so I’m rather quick to add that my feelings are my own and they’re my responsibility to deal with them. I abhor the feeling that I’m ruining a good mood when I can’t share in that good mood, because I’d rather not bring people down. But who knows, maybe my inability to always be chipper and cheerful would be the reason why things ended, because I had stopped being fun and felt it necessary to be serious for a moment.

But in an alternate universe, I didn’t hit him, and we dated, and the things that are affecting me now had never happened because circumstances prevented them from happening. The things that mean so much now are the result of the smallest events from back then. I was a foolish 26-year-old, now I’m a 33-year-old who sees one event, one seemingly insignificant choice as being the moment that I lost something I’ve been wanting for so long.

Pardon my self-loathing, but I am responsible for all the things I wish had never happened to me, I caused myself to not get what I wanted, and I have to live with the remorse.

In an alternate world, well, maybe it would all be different somehow.


Logan Paul and Hamada, or What Not To Do In Japan?

So the month is drawing to a close, and before it’s February, I do want to get an entry out that deals with something other than just what’s going on with my life.

First up is the Logan Paul scandal. If you haven’t heard or you actually need to be reminded, this kid named Logan Paul went to Japan and recorded a few videos for his YouTube channel, one of which took place in the “suicide forest” where he went out of bounds and happened to find the hanging body of someone who successfully managed to commit suicide. Sounds like no big deal, right? Well, he was making light of the whole thing, and as it was posted to YouTube, he had no respect for the person who took their own life nor did he have any respect for that person’s friends and family who may have been affected by having to see that. There are other videos of Logan Paul around Japan, where he has a good time but at the cost of being disrespectful to those around him.

If you’re new to my blog, you might not be aware that I want to go to Japan someday. People like Logan Paul would ruin the opportunity for me to do so. A major aspect of Japan’s history involves them being closed off to much of the rest of the world, not allowing foreigners or foreign influence in the country. Although they’ve opened up, they’ve accepted people from other countries and have welcomed parts of other cultures, there are still Japanese people who don’t approve of outside influences, mixed dating, and the like. Japanese people also try to maintain harmony and respect towards each other and their environment. So if you have a foreign kid come in, and he acts like a ten-year-old whose parents think it’s fine to not keep an eye on him, then it’s going to make people upset. Worst case scenario, they make things more difficult, if not impossible, for a foreigner to enter the country or stay for an extended period of time.

It really irks me to know there are people who go to other countries and expect that it’s okay to act like they’re in their home country. It wouldn’t surprise me if those same people see a foreigner in their home country and expect them to act like they’re not a foreigner, especially if a foreigner comes to America and Americans start to dictate what is considered “American.” But I digress, just a bit.

Commentary aside, Logan Paul’s actions weren’t even acceptable by my American standards. I say “my American standards,” because we have people over here who insist that “boys will be boys” and probably wouldn’t hold him accountable for his behavior if he did the same things over here. I care more about what happens as a result of his actions in regards to how the Japanese people will react, though I’ve heard he has lost a lot of support  and YouTube stepped up after people petitioned for action to be taken. Regardless of whether or not you can view his videos, there are others out there who were either influenced by him or have the same mentality, not to mention that Logan Paul himself is still out there somewhere, and they could ruin things for those of us who would have far more respect.

My next issue I wanted to bring up was about Hamada. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m a fan of Downtown and the Gaki No Tsukai series. Despite having the ability, I did not watch the latest No Laughing Batsu challenge when it streamed on New Year’s. I didn’t find out what happened until my Facebook feed was covered with articles about Hamada, the round-faced member of Downtown who’s often compared to a chimpanzee, doing blackface as part of his costume.

Personally, blackface doesn’t offend me, and I’m about as white as fallen snow. Does that make it right? Does that mean it’s acceptable? Probably not. In America, we have a history against people of darker skin tones, so blackface is offensive to anyone with any compassion towards non-white people. Japan, however, doesn’t have our history of slavery, discrimination and segregation, and it seems like it’s just another skin color to them, that it’s another version of non-Asian or foreigner to them (I could very well be wrong, which is why I said it seems that way).

But Hamada wasn’t just dressing up as a random black person, he wasn’t trying to be a caricature of someone of African descent. He was basically doing cosplay of Axel Foley, the lead character of the Beverly Hills Cop movies. In my opinion, if there was one person to ask about whether or not it was offensive to dress up like that, I would say that Eddie Murphy should be asked, as he is known for playing the character Axel Foley. Should he have just been an Asian Axel Foley, and not done the blackface? Or was it necessary to be more accurate about the character? Despite the character of Axel Foley being iconic in a sense, should they have chosen a different American cop from the movies?

Honestly, it’s not for me to judge, because it doesn’t affect me. “Yes it does!” you may cry out. Well, if I sit here and say how offensive the act was, there will be someone who will say it was just for the sake of comedy but not as a means of insulting the character or anyone who shares his traits. If I say it’s not offensive, whether it’s just that it doesn’t offend me or that it’s not offensive to Japanese people, then I will get someone who will tell me exactly why and how it’s offensive and why I should be bothered. I won’t do blackface, I’m not one for dressing up like that, and I can’t really stop anyone from doing blackface if they’re going to do it anyway.

The best I can do is just educate anyone reading, to be mindful of your actions and how it affects others. Not everything you do will bother people; some will care, others won’t. What’s fun for you may negatively affect others. I’m not saying that you won’t ever bother people by being more mindful, or that the right choice will be obvious, but just putting forth the effort will be worthwhile.


Pounding More Than Pavement: My Frustrations of Job Searching

Unless you’re looking for work, there’s no way you could understand how difficult it can be just to find a decent job.

If I submit 20 applications in a week, you would think that at least one of those would result in an interview, right? It’s a 5 percent success rate. That’s what I hope for, and I’ve turned up empty-handed.

The hardest part is just filling out the application. I have to fill out information for at least 8 different jobs, more if I want to list repeat performances at the same employer. Some places expect a phone number and the name of a manager. My work history spans over 12 years, and includes a store that filed for bankruptcy and closed. At least one of my past supervisors has retired, while others have moved around to different store locations and others have just moved on to other companies. And then, one of my more recent employers happens to be the brother of my ex fiancé, so I’m nervous about any biases he might have against me. If I have to fill out an application where I can’t just import data from somewhere else, I’m spending an hour flipping between tabs in Firefox just to review all of my employment information, with another tab to Google for phone numbers for all of these jobs. And to be honest, I really don’t remember exactly what I had been getting paid, other than my lowest has been $6.25 an hour and my highest has been $12 per hour.

My experience puts me in a bad spot. I have a lot of experience as a sales associate and cashier working in retail environments. I don’t have a lot of management experience. For some places, I’m going to be seen as overqualified. With my experience, I could ask for higher wages. Unfortunately, companies could hire someone who they can pay less. So if I apply for a low-rung management job, I’m up against people with more management experience than I have, which looks better to an employer. In that sense, I’m actually unqualified. It’s like the fact that I have an Associates degree, in that I’m not seen as qualified for a position that requires a Bachelors degree even if I do have the knowledge and experience required.

So if I’m not getting interviews, it looks like I haven’t done anything.

That’s when people step in and offer advice, such as, “have you tried actually pounding pavement? Some places won’t post their jobs online.”

Thank you! I did spend a day trying to pound pavement. Between four different Asian restaurants, I filled out one application, left my name and phone number at two locations, and at the fourth location I was told they weren’t hiring and just sent away. I figured an Asian restaurant would give me an excuse to work on my Japanese, possibly even whipping up okonomiyaki in the kitchen if I was able.

At another restaurant, I asked for an application and was handed one to fill out, and then I was told to complete the form outside of the establishment. This was in the afternoon, and the restaurant was absolutely not busy, so they could have allowed me to sit at their bar or one of their tables and made it look like they were working. I’m fairly certain that my application was filed in the circular filing cabinet anyway, just based on how the one waitress acted towards me.

“Well do you have any waitressing skills?” No, but I could be a dishwasher, or I could bus tables. Does it matter what my skills are? You probably asked me to apply everywhere that was hiring, even though I’ve been trying to find work related to things I know I can do.

Which brings me to my next issue, and that’s the people who act like there is someone, somewhere, who is handing out jobs, but they can’t seem to tell you who that person is. I’m already dealing with my own thoughts about my debt, the bills I have to pay, the ways I’ve probably messed up an application, the fact that I’m not getting phone calls for interviews. Adding to my stress by making me feel like I’m not already spending enough time on job applications, or that I must be making mistakes that no normal person would ever make, is not helping my situation.

And then there’s McDonald’s.

Anyone who suggests that I should work at McDonald’s is the most infuriating person I could meet. I’m not saying the work is beneath me. I will say that there are easier positions that pay more. I just worked at a call center, getting paid $11 to sit in front of a computer and call people. If they were angry, I just had to hear them complain before they hung up the phone as forcefully as they could manage. If I work at McDonald’s, I might be lucky to make $9 an hour, but I certainly won’t be given a full-time shift of 40 hours a week. If I get 20 hours a week, I’ll have to deal with the possibility of hot grease burns on my skin, I’ll have to deal with customers who are irate,…

Actually, let’s talk about McDonald’s customers. People who unleash their temper over an ingredient being put on a burger that they didn’t want, even though they’re not allergic to that ingredient. People who throw things at the employees because things didn’t go their way. People who say the workers are incompetent, even if they make simple mistakes that can easily be fixed if the customer had any patience. People who leave their trash on the tables because they don’t feel like picking up after themselves.

A $2 cut in pay and being scheduled for half as many hours is not worth having to deal with all of that. I’d rather work at the porn store and deal with an armed robbery. If you work in fast food, I really hope the minimum wage goes up and you get paid what you deserve.

If you were wondering, I’ve been trying to work with staffing agencies as well. My last staffing agency hasn’t returned my call after I found a position I was interested in applying for. I just met with another staffing agency today which has two positions lined up that would work with my skills. I’m hoping for that to be my silver lining in all of this, and even if it’s not a permanent position, it should hopefully be something to get me back on my feet for a little while.

I want to be more than I am. I just need an opportunity to show what I can do in the meantime.


Bravery To Know The Truth

I haven’t posted anything in about a week, and that post was on the serious side. What can I really say? I’m back to the desperate job seeking, money is tight, so I’m not really going anywhere and doing anything special. Not only that, but one of the cats is routinely urinating on the blankets I use at night, and my friend thinks it’s funny because “he’s just an animal who doesn’t know any better.”

So my self-worth has tanked. I was sitting on the sofa last night, staring randomly towards the floor, while my blankets were in the wash, and I was thinking there was no point to washing the quilt covering the sofa if it was going to get peed on again, that I might as well just deal with it since my skin never actually touched the part that got wet. Maybe I should just stop caring when the living room smells like cat urine, and let my friend deal with the smell while I’ve been blessed right now with a sinus infection. I didn’t feel worthy of sleeping with clean bedding. I didn’t even feel like my friend cared, like she would think differently if it was her things getting ruined and she had to clean her bedding before sleeping, but I just had to put up with it.

But that much wasn’t important, other than to say I was feeling pretty miserable. My phone, which was sitting on my lap, alerted me to a new e-mail message: “I can talk in about 30 minutes, if you would like.” It was from my friend in Japan.

We hadn’t talked in about two or three weeks. There was a disagreement between us, which resulted in the usual bout of silence. I had the last words, which I used to get a few things off my chest which had been bothering me, but I knew those words could also be my last words ever so I stressed that what I was saying wasn’t out of anger or spite but my own concerns.

If I hadn’t thought about him every day, then it was every other day. I thought about what I said, and I know how it sounded. When I was feeling weak, I considered apologizing for the things I said, but then I reminded myself to stand behind my words. I had concerns, I needed to address them, and I did, so why turn around and wave it off like I wasn’t bothered? I imagined conversations with him and how they would go. And I often looked out the windows towards the street and towards my car, on the off-chance that he got the nerve to come all this way to see me just to say what he needed to say. At night, I just had to pull the blankets over my shoulder and tell myself to stop trying to imagine that I’m living in some romantic comedy.

I really didn’t think that I was going to hear from him again. I questioned how long it would be before I would stop thinking of him. But then his message was met with a bit of uncertainty on my part, so I responded with an “okay.” When he messaged me later to say he was ready to call, I responded with another, “okay.” It’s not the greatest way to begin a conversation, I’ll admit, because I could have been in any kind of mood to give a simple “okay” and he wouldn’t know if things were fine or if I’d bite his head off. The phone conversation started with telling me he was only going to be on the phone for about a half hour. When he got into what he wanted to say, which was his response to my last e-mail and a few things left unanswered, I started to interject and he told me not to interrupt him. He had things he wanted to say, things I didn’t quite understand, and he wanted to make sure he said as much as he could in the time he had.

At one point, I noticed his voice was a bit shaky. I’ve thought about that a few times over the past day. Was it hard for him to say what he did? Was he nervous? Was he determined? Was he scared that I would escalate the argument and start screaming at him?

After two hours, he said he was ending the call. It was only the fourth or fifth time during that call that he said he was going to hang up, so part of me wondered if he was going to think of yet another thing to talk about with me. We got past the worst of the call, as we started talking about my job search. I was laid off a few days after our argument, and I never wrote to him to tell him about that. I just wanted him to think I was still doing okay, that I had a grasp on life and was taking care of things. So when he mentioned me working, I had to let him know what happened. I think it changed his mood a bit, because the conversation did shift gears. It wasn’t about resolving conflicts and having courage to do so, it was about realizing that I had more pressing issues than how things were going with him.

And then we talked about Himuro, which was the most fun part of the conversation. So it’s no wonder that the conversation as a whole lasted almost two hours. It wasn’t spoken, but perhaps we just miss each other at times like these.

I went to bed feeling a little better about things between us. Well, that and my blankets were fresh from the dryer and they were amazingly warm and cozy. I desperately needed the pick-me-up, and my Japanese friend will never realize how meaningful it was to hear from him at all at that moment.

Well, the sun is coming up. I’m not even tired, but this is exactly what my friend would complain about: my habitual bedtimes that fall in the early hours of the morning. It’s only 6 pm in Japan, which means if he finds this before he goes to bed, I’m going to wake up to a potentially unhappy e-mail from him. So… nighty-night!


Gotta Be Coached

Just when I thought things were picking up, I learned there was an emphasis on the word “temp” in the phrase “temp agency.” I was hoping for a longer run, but the work dried up and the need for me was no more.

A lot of good came from having a job again. Probably the most important thing was being able to pay off one of the smaller creditors. Unfortunately I also had a $500 car repair bill, which would have helped to pay off more of my debts if I didn’t need the repair. It is what it is.

Before I left New Jersey, when I had just started with an insurance job, there was one day during training when one of the owners of the agency came in to our class and spoke to us. He gave us four things to remember to do:

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Be coachable
  3. Have a good attitude
  4. Let go of fears

At the time, I wasn’t writing down my dreams even though the idea of going to Japan was at the forefront. I did have a good attitude, as I was convinced, even while I was watching everything fall apart, that I was doing just fine and that my problems at the time were starting to turn around. I didn’t even think of my fears, so how could I let them go? What was I even afraid of at that time? As for being coachable, I wasn’t in a position to be coached, so I didn’t have to worry about that at the time.

I was coached once in this past month. When I was told I would be coached at some point during that day, it felt like the equivalent of saying to me, “wait until your father gets home.” I was a bit nervous, wondering what I had done wrong in my calls and everything else.

It wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated, though. To begin, one of my calls was audited and I scored a 92 out of 100. That came later during the coaching session. The coaching actually started with trying to overcome rejections, people telling me they weren’t interested and me accepting that as an answer. I was also asked to change the tone I used for the introduction script, as I was far too cheerful and also sounded like a recording. My boss played one of my calls, and it was one where some woman answered the phone with a curt, “What do you want?” I went into the introduction, completely broken out of the tone I had been using.

“You were talking so naturally,” my boss remarked.

“Yeah, because I was scared of her!”

My boss talked about how I could carry on conversations rather well, as he had asked about my umbrella earlier in the day and I was telling him that no, it wasn’t actually a sword even though the handle looked like a katana. I love that umbrella because it always sparks a conversation or at least catches someone’s glance.

But the meeting wasn’t entirely me being told what to do or what I was doing wrong. If I had questions, I asked them. Sometimes I asked if I was doing something right, or if it was acceptable at all. Sometimes if I was given advice, I would slightly question that advice or explain why I was doing things my way, because I was looking to understand the methods used instead of just blindly doing things a certain way.

I walked out of that coaching session feeling pretty good about things. Better still, I applied some of the advice I had been given, and I noticed an improvement in my metrics, my number of completed surveys per hour.

So understandably, I was sad when work dried up because I’m not working there now. I feel like things had just begun, you know? I was honing my skills, and now I have to see where I’ll be going next.

But I was coachable. And it worked out well.

There is another side to this. Not that there was a time when I wasn’t coachable, although I’m sure I’ve had stubborn moments when I just didn’t understand what I should have done and then didn’t change.

I had one job where my immediate supervisor actually refused to talk to me.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a uniform shirt. Someone said I had to “earn” the shirt, but no one told me what I needed to do to earn it. My first shirt was a pink shirt, for breast cancer awareness month, which meant I still needed the regular blue shirt by the end of the month, but it was a start and I wouldn’t need to wear my own shirt anymore. When I got my name tag, my first name was split, and below that it said “Media” while everyone else in my department had a name tag that said “Media Specialist.” After a year, I was no longer on the schedule, despite my willingness to pick up extra shifts when people couldn’t work when they were scheduled. I knew exactly who my immediate supervisor was, and we were rarely scheduled at the same time, but when I did see him, he was always too busy to talk to me. So I never knew what, if anything, I was doing wrong. All I knew was I wasn’t getting the best treatment, but I stuck with it because I thought things could improve or that I could show that I’m actually a decent employee.

Of the four points I mentioned, while I agree with all of them, I think being coachable is so often overlooked and forgotten. I think people get into this mindset of doing things how they want to do them, or they might do their own research to see how to improve, but I don’t think people actually invest the time to talk to others who could point out their flaws and how to change. Even if a person allows someone else to tell them what needs to change, I don’t think enough people actually try to understand what’s being said, they might think they know the advice they’re being given but they don’t know how to apply it or how to change.

And also, write down your dreams. I think I’m going to go do that now. Oh wait, isn’t that why I have a blog?