Feelin’ Groovy

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If we were having coffee this morning, I’d probably have to toss you a to-go mug and tell you to try to keep up. My boys are coming home today, and I’ve got to be to work by 2:45, so my morning is going to be a whirlwhind.

Taking the time to write a blog post is probably not the best use of my time, to be perfectly honest. But that’s sort of what I want to talk about today.

We’re all busy. That’s just the way it is. It’s part of being a grownup. I work my two jobs plus some freelance writing and of course, I work on my books. I try to squeeze in a little bit of housework here and laundry there, and once in a while I have an extra ten minutes to unpack yet another box of stuff I probably don’t need but brought to the new apartment anyway. Last week, I also made cookies for the tailgate party at the school, and I managed to hem a pair of pants for one of the kids in the marching band. I even found a few minutes to throw some stitches into a baby quilt I’ve been working on for almost four years.

The baby I was making it for started kindergarten this year. At this rate, the quilt may be finished in time for her first child.

At any rate, I have been trying to settle into a routine. I’ve always been a morning person, so I’ve been setting my alarm a little bit earlier every day. I drag myself out of bed and try to check a few items off my to-do list before my day really starts. I’m usually up and functioning from 5 a.m. until I get home just before midnight.

Last night’s shift at the hotel was even busier than my personal life. I was alone at the desk on a Saturday night with a stack full of check-ins, a family reunion in the meeting room, and a mountain of laundry in the back. I was on the run the entire shift, delivering rollaways and cribs and extra blankets to rooms on the third floor, riding the elevator up and down in search of missing luggage carts, and answering phone calls from people who couldn’t understand why every hotel in town was booked up. I was busy folding sheets, making coffee, delivering pitchers of ice water, answering questions about the internet password, and resisting the urge to throat-punch the ridiculously loud inflatable ghost in the lobby that is going to drive me to insanity long before Halloween ever actually gets here.

It was around ten o’clock when the ladies from the family reunion gathered in the lobby and asked me to take their picture. They were laughing and handing me phones and cameras, and all of them kept shouting “wait!” or “hold on!” until finally one of the older women shushed them all and reminded them that I still had work to do, so would they please just quiet down so I could take their picture and go? Then she turned to me and said, “You really seem to have so much fun with your job.”

It knocked the wind right out of me.

She was right; I was having a blast.

I love what I do. I am good at customer service. I’ve been so caught up in the cycle of working and feeling sorry for myself that it never dawned on me that I’m actually having fun again.

I still miss doing hair. I miss the regular customers who came to me as kids, and for their proms, and for their weddings, and then with their own children. I miss my little old ladies who came to me for their roller sets every Friday for eighteen years. I miss the smell of perm solution and the tingle of bleach on my fingertips because I always hated wearing gloves during color services. I miss having that little nick between my first two fingers that I consistently gave myself at least once a week. I even miss coming home at night and finding those tiny pieces of hair in my pockets and sometimes inside my bra.

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Okay, too far– I do not miss the ones inside my bra. Especially not the ones that worked their way into my skin from time to time and became infected.

The point is I know I’m never going back. I’ve known it since six months after my accident. When the judge denied my Disability claim — and my appeals — I accepted the fact that the rest of my life will be spent doing something other than the job I loved. Just like I’ve accepted the fact that I’m always going to hurt, I’m always going to tire easily, and half of my left hand is always going to be numb. It is what it is, right?

Last night, those wonderful ladies made me realize that I’m having fun at work again. I’m not just punching the clock and earning a paycheck; I’m enjoying myself. My inner snob wants me to strive for something better than minimum-wage, second shift, entry-level stuff.  But my inner snob is kind of a jerk, to be perfectly honest.

I’ve been struggling all along to accept. Accept that my life is different now. Accept that my body has changed. Accept that I’m divorced and my kids are growing up and the world is changing faster than I can keep up; accept that life is flying by and I’m just along for the ride, hanging on for dear life.

I’m done accepting. I want to have fun again. I want to enjoy my time here on Earth, enjoy my friends and family and yes, enjoy the work that I do. So what if I can’t check off everything on my to-do list every day?

You know what? Give me back that to-go cup and let me give you my favorite mug with the seagulls on it. I’ll throw a batch of Jiffy blueberry muffins in the oven, and we’ll sit down at my grandmother’s old table and really talk.

It’s Sunday morning, the sun is shining, and I don’t have to be to work for a few more hours. Let’s enjoy today for what it is.

Be sure to visit Diana over at Part-Time Monster to link up and see what some other bloggers have had to say with their weekly coffee share.  Thanks to Diana for hosting the #coffeeshare posts!

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Making Lemonade

It was one of those “when life hands you lemons” moments.

My youngest son has been getting on my last nerve.  He has been pestering me about going to an arcade in the next town. Badgering me. Whining, begging, pleading, annoying me to within an inch of losing my sanity. He’s too young to understand “Mommy can’t even afford to pay the electric bill, so she doesn’t have any money for things like arcades.”

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Besides, his eyes glaze over whenever I start referring to myself in the Third Person.

I don’t like arcades. The noise level and bright lights make me anxious. I get a headache and a sour attitude, and I just don’t have time to sit at an arcade developing anxiety, headaches and attitude problems. I don’t even have time to do things that don’t give me a headache. My family is so busy right now that it seems like we don’t have time to catch our breath, much less have any fun. Add to the mix my scramble for a summer job and concerns about paying my bills, a lawn that needs mowing, spring allergies and so much more, and I’m putting some serious thought into crawling under the kitchen table in a fetal position.

Again.

I’m getting good at blanket forts.

Don’t judge me.

And somehow, I’ve got to find time to finish writing Their Love Rekindled, figure out how to set up a mailing list on MailChimp, keep my blog updated, and continue building my “platform” so I can have a social media “presence” to help sell the books that I can’t find the time to finish writing.

And let’s not forget that for some random reason, my town keeps losing power for 4-5 hours at a time. With no explanation. Afterwards, my computer keeps having identity crises and I lose all kinds of documents that are supposed to be auto-saved but aren’t.  Yes, I know that I should really take a computer class so I know what to do in these situations.

Let me just sign up for a class in all my spare time. I’ll pay for it with the money I don’t have.

So, on Sunday, I did what all really bad mommies would do under those circumstances: I caved.  I gave in. That’s right, I rewarded my child for whining, begging, pleading, and badgering. I scraped together my last $10 that really should have gone toward gas for my car, tossed the boy into the back seat, and headed out for Klassic Arcade in Gobles, Michigan.

Let me tell you right here, right now, that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Klassic Arcade is a tiny, dumpy little blue building with a dirt parking lot. From the outside, it looks like a bit of a hole-in-the-wall. A dive. But inside . . .

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Stepping through the door was like stepping through a time warp. The place was lined with wall-to-wall pinball machines and “classic” video games, including Galaga, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, and Frogger. If they’d had Centipede, I probably would have passed out from sheer joy.

I paid $5 each for our wristbands that allowed us to play any of the games as many times as we wanted. Little Man and I darted from pinball machine to video game, giggling and pressing buttons without any real idea of what we were doing. I tried to remember how to play some of the games from my teenage years, but let’s be honest here – back then, I never went to arcades to play the games. I went to meet the boys who played the games.

Except Centipede and Tempest. I was really competitive when it came to those two games.

I had told my little boy that we would stay for only a few hours. I fully anticipated a loud, overcrowded and overwhelming Chuckie Cheese type of experience. But Klassic Arcade is nothing like Chuckie Cheese. Small, personal, friendly, and with a little snack counter that has over one hundred different flavors of soda pop to choose from, most of which are in pretty glass bottles. It was actually cozy, if you can imagine an arcade being cozy.

Now, remember those random power outages I mentioned earlier? Forty-five minutes into our Klassic Arcade adventure, another one hit. And that’s when things got weird.

Nobody complained.

Nobody demanded a refund.

Nobody even seemed upset. Customers sat down at the charming little tables at the snack counter and chatted with each other. We bought bottles of pop (ours was red apple) and took turns opening and closing the cooler doors quickly to keep everything nice and cold inside.  My son and I shared our red apple pop, which turned our tongues bright red and gave us both red moustaches. After that, he and I wandered outside, where he proceeded to find ten four-leaf clovers. Ten. I’ve never even found one.

He also found two five-leaf clovers, but I haven’t decided if those were extra-lucky or just a weird freak of nature that could only be found by a member of my family.

I don’t know if the two men working there that day were owners or employees, but they were amazingly friendly and cheerful throughout the entire adventure. I know it must have been difficult for them to lose all that business on a weekend; one of them confided that a five-hour outage the previous day had wiped out their Saturday business as well. Basically, they lost money last weekend because of the twin power outages.

But they laughed and joked with the rest of us while we waited. After thirty minutes, they handed out free passes for all of us to come back again, and then shut things down for the day. We didn’t need the passes, though; I’ll go back again. And again. It wasn’t about the vintage games or the fancy pop; it was about the friendly atmosphere, the cheerful environment, and the way the staff handled an unfortunate situation.

Life handed them lemons last weekend, and they made more than lemonade. They made people happy.

And that was pretty sweet, sort of like Sprecher’s Red Apple.

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