Getting off the roller coaster, getting on the train

I think I’m going to get off the roller coaster. I’m just going to work, do the work, and leave. No more of this endless looking. I’ll just take the money I get. It’s decent, sometimes it’s good. The job is decent, sometimes it’s good. I don’t really have any close friends or a social life here, but I have plenty to do. It’s time to place my focus on other things. I need to budget my money, chart it out for real. I need to pass this Spanish test and get comfortable with academic Spanish.

In the meantime I can deal with the difficult emotions by writing and making music – creative expression. I was surprised recently by how cathartic it can feel to record myself improvising music on my ukulele or piano. This way I can cope with the loneliness and doubt without allowing these feelings to distract me and skew my priorities.

I realize that I need to find an inner stillness; to look at things through the eyes of a quiet observer – to absorb things fluidly, not becoming attached to my conclusions or otherwise attempt to come to some hard understanding of all this new information I’m being exposed to. Whatever sculpture I try to carve out of this metaphorical marble block is going to reflect the nature of the block’s environment much less than the formation that emerges with the wear of time and the elements.

There is a chaos at this job. Every day brings new problems and changes and frustrations. There is hardly any consistency. New people, new rules, new schedule requirements; “work in the morning, no, the late night, no, the mid-day!” “I know you don’t work today but can you come in in 40 minutes?” 4 days a week, then two, then seven. The TVs are broken, the credit card machine is broken, move all the tables to the corner of the restaurant, never mind move them back. Here’s four new servers for the five active tables in the restaurant but nobody to answer the phones, please train them all. No, wait, never mind, you can leave – but come back tomorrow in the morning. Don’t take tables in that room… actually, only take tables in that room. She quit, he quit, both of those other people quit. We have 6 new hires. One of them got transferred. “Were gonna stay open until 1:30am tonight instead of 11pm, can you stay?” “Don’t worry, I’m fixing things!”

Sometimes all you can do is laugh when you are dealing with the 5-thousandth angry customer on the phone (which is not supposed to be part of your job). Sometimes you can’t do anything to laugh.

With exasperated rant-filled conversations and grumbling we express our frustrations. We do the best we can with this situation but we often get the blame for the dysfunction amidst broken systems and bad business practices. There are multiple language and culture barriers to communication. Frequent miscommunication, confusion, faux paus, and awkward moments become exhausting to dwell on. (On the side, however, as challenging as this can be, Its actually a quality about this place which I appreciate.) You find yourself having the same basic conversation with your coworkers and confidents every single day for weeks about how our messed up it is, and how nobody higher-up listens to our real needs.

Also there’s that stupid voyeuristic picture the owner took of a large, big-boobed woman just walking down the street with her family, displayed proudly on the wall. It comes equipped with three greasy fingerprints on the frame glass from who-knows, one on each boob, and one on her crotch. Come on, really??

At the same time I am constantly seeing the place and the people in new lights. One second I think I know everything there is to know about the workplace culture and it’s history, only to be sidelined with another facet of the complex politics of a high-turnover business. New players become involved at every turn, a seemingly endless array of “sides of the story”.

Here I am, fogged by my own uncertainty, loneliness and dissatisfaction, in the center of the miasma.

I’m endlessly looking for jobs and pining about the sense of emptiness in my life. My funk is interrupted by occasional “meta-moments” of feeling like I am on the right path – accompanied by a rush of euphoria and contentedness. Again, however, I am slammed back down into a gray limbo of fear and hopelessness.

I can’t keep doing this up and down, its too draining. I have an article to write for my internship! My work reminds me daily that I am no where near the level of Spanish that I need to be at to succeed with this project. The six months to my 21st birthday has magically become four.

That’s it. I’m done with this time-consuming and frustrating job hunt, I’m done with engaging in this roller coaster of emotions, putting myself through the mental ringer. This is where I am now. I accept it. I’m letting it go. With all it’s flaws I still can’t find any other job that beats this one in terms of pay, responsibilities, and geographic convenience. I’ll take as many hours as I can here and put my focus on other things in my free time. I’m up to seven days a week now at this place, about 40 hours. I’m not making as much as I did with the two jobs during the summer, but with tips its still pretty good. Good enough, in any case.

I’ve chosen the sections for the Selectividad; Historia de España and Literatura Universal. Then there are the other two; English, and Comentario de Texto/Spanish Language and Literature. I’m working on getting some textbooks to start my study. Judging from the fact that I hardly know anything about Spanish history and have never read any Spanish literature, I think I will have a lot to do.


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