Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And then she flew the coop

I wish I had the time to sit and unpack all of the ways I am feeling about what happened last Tuesday, just a week ago today, but I don't. Around me there are family and phone calls, flooded apartments and photographer timelines. Outside their are porch swings, grills sizzling in muggy air; in our car there are stacks of plates-- 110 in total. Tomorrow there are appointments and airports, meetings and cups of coffee and soon there will be cars to juggle, babies to meet, people to visit and with whom to reunite, schedules to organize, cakes to decorate, and then hair, make-up, rehearsals, outfits and last minute rentals, ironing and a lot of --gulp-- praying for the rain to stay away. I am thinking about meeting my niece, dreaming icons with my sister, all our matching outfits, cleaning the barn, running all my old college routes, mile after sweet-smelling mile...

when all I really want to do it sit down and think about what happened which is that I quit last Tuesday, the 20th of July. I quit the grocery store, and it's all over.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kyrianne: growing

We are all more alive now. We are all more than we were. Somehow we are all reproduced, but not as duplicates, and not as the sum of our parts. She is Mom and Dad, but also Vicki and Brooke. She is Drew, of course, but all that is in Sarah and their brother is in her also. And I feel most profoundly that she is Shea, and yet Erin and I are new in her also. We have new toes, untouched by pavement or trails, teeth without cavities, hands that haven't been scraped or covered in mud, knees that haven't been skinned.

And yet, there is something 'other' about her also. Although she profoundly is the collection of all of us, she is also mysteriously profoundly herself. She will cry and it will make us smile. She will drift off to sleep in the afternoons while we are awake. She'll hunger, desire, be comforted, discover-- and they will be hers alone. And our doting witness will be the confirmation of the greatest of all miracles: she is unique!

We are more, we are multiplied, not just in quantity but in the space between us, which mystically links us all afresh: family again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Going home

Even though I usually come out to be alone in the mornings, it is nighttime now, and I feel the same unexplainable stirring I do at 5am. What is it about being alone with the dark world that makes you examine your life?

I'm afraid there's just too much I haven't considered.

I found Caballo Blanco; he's on facebook, can you believe it?! He is the burnt-out, beat-up ex-kick-boxing champ in Born to Run that I mentioned in an old post. He leads tours now in Mexico and training camps for runners. I wrote and asked him a question and to my amazement, he wrote back. It is utterly unnecessary to explain how compelled I feel to start saving my nickels and joy-running every chance I get.

Two days ago I set out ten minutes before five in the morning and ran thirteen miles in my Vibrams [barefoot running shoes] just to see if I could. For two days since then I have hobbled and winced. But sometimes there is just so much I need to do before I get where I'm going. I need the miles of dirt and sidewalk winding ahead. I need the sudden pain or the rain storm that might chase me, or that little corner of my running slipper that's worn through to the toe. And if running 13 miles brings you face-to-face with all your fears and demons, running 13 miles barefoot allows you to meet those same demons in your feet. Today I tried to run again, but its so hot now that I walked home 3 miles in, shaking.

I read my friend's blog tonight and she mentioned home-coming. It is a particularly interesting discussion as she is coming to the close of a year-long stay in Kenya, and though she will be boarding a plane soon to reunite with old faces, this is not the 'home' to which she refers. Instead, she describes the long-awaited assurance of her place in the community where she currently resides in Africa; it is a different sort of home-coming: A coming-into-herself that will inevitably lead out again.

As I read her lovely words, I found myself sitting with a longing-bird flapping its scraggly wings in my gut. There is so much I love in the world (and more particularly so much I love about being alive) that somehow what I really want for myself has become muddled. I have always been quite happy, and yes- easy to please. But what does it mean if happiness is so effortless? that I am thrilled by the waking-sleeping-eating-discovering-weeping-meeting drama that is the mundane? Is my content a testament to the place I've found in my community or just my insatiable taste for sturdy, functional rhythm? I just can't help but wonder if maybe my lack of criticism has devalued the life I have built for myself- or rather the one I have stumbled upon and accepted as suitable. I am so overstimulated by routine-- whatever routine it may be-- that suddenly I am heart-broken by the idea of leaving the grocery store because so much of what I believe is good and right is tangled in getting up everyday and clocking in.

It may be that the most true thing I did was admitting to my supervisor that it was time for me to move on. And yet in the end, I don't really believe it matters whether or not I stay at my job or leave, so don't mishear me on that point. I am happy. I don't begrudge a good thing just because it comes easily: I love my family beyond words, I have sweet, supportive friends and a beautiful city to explore and enjoy. I just hope I've been brave enough- that though I haven't really traveled the world, I've learned how to face the foreigner who lives in my chest and hold up the torch until home appears.

Right now, it feels safe and true to admit that there are still miles and miles to go.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Staying put

"I think I need to quit."

I heard my words hanging in the slanting sun, indiscreet and huge. But I wasn't startled; it felt like breathing. It was right, and necessary and proud. He stared back at me, the new sun glinting off his name tag, reflecting 'SUPERVISOR' into my steady gaze. "Uh---" was all he got out before the torrent began. Something about his momentary display of kindness, his odd-ball personality,the way I'd never considered him a sounding board in the past, and perhaps the horrendous ordeal of uncovering nasty gossip (again) made me plow forward. I told him that I had once loved working here, had become disillusioned, and somehow liked it well enough still. I explained my attempt to view work as intrinsically worthwhile, as solid and steady, and as an opportunity to teach myself the art of becoming a cog. I told him that I wasn't in it for self-actualization, to be unique or pursue vocation, but to sculpt my own inner-fortitude, to be reliable, hard-working and pay my rent. And I told him that I'd been weighing and considering all these things for two years, and I didn't need to consider it anymore. I was done.

In January, I asked to write an order. January passed, order-writers swapped; my name stayed off the list. Then in March I was asked to be a part of a special team, and I accepted with pleasure. And yet, the ordeal that followed is too exhausting to type out here: the miscommunication, the pressure of shifting management, my own frantic ineptitude, the dead ends, the promises that still hang in the air unanswered and now just plain unmentioned. In May, for whatever reason, I was taken off morning shifts. Adjusting to the tasks of mid-shifts was apparently more strenuous than I imagined, because in the last week of May I was pulled aside by my favorite supervisor and asked 'if you even want to be here anymore since you refuse to help customers,' a sentiment I am still puzzled by. (When he transferred out of our store a month later, I hardly knew how to feel.) And then, in the end of June as we came upon our annual summer hour slump, I found myself moving from 36 hours a week to 20,(a cut so drastic I can't even fathom paying my rent this month- thankfully I don't have to. Instead I have to move) and then this past week to 14. Yes, 14 hours of work this week.

So when a coworker offered her Saturday morning shift, I had no reason to say 'no.' 'Yes!' I said, 'Wonderful!' But that's precisely when the shit hit the fan. In the (nearly) two years of my employment, I have worked so many Saturday mornings, I can't even begin to count, and yet for some reason when we asked our supervisor for the switch, he pulled me aside and said:

"Kristin, I just want to be honest with you. I need to tell you that there's been a lot of bad feeling about you working a Saturday amongst crew members and, you know, a lot of the [supervisors] have been saying it too, so we'll probably just put you on flowers or something, and you've really got to, you know, go full-throttle-- I mean, everyone's been saying that you always say, 'I'm not really worried about getting done this morning because somebody always comes to help me,' and that just doesn't reflect well on you, and-- you know, its not always true. we're really tight Saturday mornings and I just want to be sure you're not going to have that attitude-- I mean, I like you, Kristin and when I hear things like that, I take it with a grain of salt, but I'm like, okay, if she said that, its bad news and you're really going to have to work hard to lose that perception of you, because like, everyone is really having a bad feeling about it, and I just want you to know, its going around."

I don't have the first clue what to do about this. This is called gossip; I know that much, because I remember it from high school. But in high school all you have to do is look him or her (or your bathroom mirror, depending on how its going) in the eye and say, "nuh-uh!" and its done. When you're 16, this sort of thing flies, but I'm 24, and you know, a professional. So I just looked at him. "Well, I'm not sure how to respond to that," I told him. "I have never said that. I certainly don't feel it. I'm just wracking my brains trying to think how I could have said something close to that." And really, who would be annoyed enough with me to report something like that, even if I did say it, which I didn't. Why would I?! I am worried about getting my job finished in the mornings, excessively so. What's more, I really like everyone I work with during these shifts. We laugh together, we swap stories. Doesn't it seem that everyone who wakes up before five in the morning must share some kind of special kinship? Which one of these good-natured morning sweethearts went and ratted me out when I had my back turned, took some comment (though I still can't imagine what) and twisted it to mean I was flippant, unconcerned, and sure someone else would pull my weight?

And then, (back in the office) he did something horrible, and reached out and touched my arm. It was light touch, but intentioned, and said, "I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, honey." And that's when I burst into tears. I am just so exhausted of working against some perception. This sort of thing has just never happened to me before. I've always been a star student, a team player with a positive attitude that isn't an effort for me to muster. I turned and left the office, fled past Patrick in the wine section whose face froze as the sight of my tears, and into the bathroom where I sunk to the floor for the hundreth time and sobbed. Just cried, and cried, because I am so tired, because I don't feel like myself anymore and mostly because somebody doesn't like me, which is a horrible, horrible fault of mine (so damn sensitive).

And two minutes later, I picked myself up, wiped my eyes and resignedly asked my supervisor for a chat. He said yes, and that we should go out and catch a little sun. I smiled, and told him I want to quit. That I'm done, that I want to leave high school behind once and for all.

And after an hour of wonderfully humanizing conversation (in which he actually offered me--off the record of course--career advice!!) I told him, give me some time, I'll think about it.

Since then I have talked to some friends- including Pat, who was (probably appropriately) furious with me for even considering quitting without talking to him about it and simultaneously devastated on my behalf- who have offered a little perspective. And just as liberating as it was to stand up and say with assurance, "I'm ready to move on," I feel a vice close over my chest as I admit, I just can't quit my job. There's not enough money. So tomorrow will be another day as usual, one to nine.

I'm so overwhelmed I'm not sure where to turn, but it helps to think of my dad, who worked in a job he disliked for ten years to help me through college. (What a wimp I am.) It also helps that my sweet sister and brother-in-law have forced me to pray every day, multiple times a day for the rest of my life as I manage to sneak my precious niece into every conversation I have: Kyrianne, Kyrianne:

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy on it all.