Ode to Sylvia

Two months ago, my seventeen-year-old decided to break down on me. Our relationship had been on the rocks for awhile, and it just seemed like the time had come to end our love/hate relationship with each other.

Two days ago, I sold her for $750 to a man I’d never met before.

Today, he picked her up with a trailer and drove off with her in tow, never to be seen again.

I don’t even have a photo with her. Just two bent license plates and a trunk load of memories.

Sylvia is the car that has been in the family for seventeen years. My mom bought her brand new, a year after my baby brother had been born. The same baby brother that is about to graduate from high school in two short months. It is surreal how fast time flies.

My mom was a stay-at-home parent during the early years, meaning I spent more time in Sylvia than I did in any of my dad’s cars. Sylvia took us to the grocery store and post office, back and forth to school, and on Saturday trips to my grandparents. Sylvia transported several rambunctious third graders to numerous field trips, including a one room school-house and a cheese factory. She somehow survived those trips, despite the rough behavior she was put through.

When I turned fifteen, it was time to learn how to drive. My mom had another new car, and my parents had kept Sylvia around with every intention that she would be my car during the high school years. She was nine years old, and starting to show her age a little bit, the car equivalents to renegade gray hairs and gradual crows feet. I didn’t care-she was going to help me learn how to drive.

The first time I drove Sylvia, it was in an old abandoned parking lot where a non-super Wal Mart had once stood. I remember freaking out and pushing on the brakes because ten miles an hour was way too fast.

I took Sylvia out on my road test, and passed. ย My first solo trip alone in the car was to the grocery store. I think I was grabbing eggs. Or bread. That first breath of freedom was being able to choose the radio station with the windows rolled down.

She transported me to and from high school for two years. She survived getting stuck in the snow on countless occasions, and helped me avoid a head on collision in my first (and hopefully my last) accident. I got my first speeding ticket with Sylvia…and my second one (and hopefully my last).

She helped me move into my college dorm, and transported me to my weekend job at the ancient ruins known as Blockbuster. She helped me get to countless interviews over the years. She transported me to my other gigs as a stagehand, at a bridal shop, an internship at the museum, and ultimately, the internship that led me to my first full time job after graduation.

She took my dear friend back to her home town one weekend, where she ultimately found her wedding gown.

She helped get a certain boy to a certain wedding, which helped restart and restore a certain friendship.

She was there the first time we said “I love you,” one year to the day after he and I had first broken up.

I had always hoped she would help me get through college. She lasted not just through college, but right until I got my first full-time job. Her age had really begun to show: rust, parts falling off and needing replacement, leaking-you name it. It was almost as if she held out just long enough to see me get that first “big kid” job, knowing that once I got that, I would be able to move on.

Saying good-bye to Sylvia is, in a way, saying good-bye to a part of my childhood. I’ve known her longer than my boyfriend, my college friends, and any pet that I’ve been fortunate to have. She saw me grow up, and become who I am today. She was there for many major milestones-academically, professionally, and emotionally.

She wasn’t just a car. She was a reminder, a symbol, a soundboard, a place of comfort, a necessity, and on my worst days-a friend.

Two bent license plates and a trunk load of memories.

Thanks for 177,000 miles, old girl.

zDriveIntoSunset

Sincerely,

The Shoe

How I Became a Writer: Guest Blogger

Last week, one of my good friends (who also happens to be a writer and fellow blogger like me) wrote a very intriguing post that I couldn’t help but share. I could relate to it. I felt like she understood what I go through on a daily basis. Most importantly, it was inspiring. Now, I could be selfish and greedy and keep this wonderful post all to myself…or, I could share it with all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

Living Without Apology’s

How I Became a Writer

oh-yes

 

Click and enjoy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sincerely,

The Shoe

Going Green

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, not St. Patty’s Day as I’ve been informed by the Internet. Many of you have donned some four-leaf clover glasses and some leprechaun inspired garb, and possibly have downed some emerald beer to celebrate.

st. patrick's day

Which is why I think it is amusing that today of all days I was thinking about jealousy.

Today I was walking around Barnes and Noble on my lunch break. I like doing that. Being surrounded by books, the smell of paper and coffee mixing together creates a pleasant aroma that relaxes me. Irish music was playing over the loud speaker system, and I casually walked from section to section. I glanced at beautiful cover art, and picked up a book here or there to read the descriptions of talented copywriters on the back covers.

I came across a book that was on special display. Sometimes, authors come to Barnes and Noble to sign books, and this was one of those books. I looked at the cover art, and then the picture of the author. I couldn’t believe it. She looked younger than me, with bright eyes and long red hair, the epitome of youth staring back. I grabbed her book quickly to read her author’s note. She started writing the novel I was holding in my hands at the age of fifteen, and now at age twenty, had a hot bestseller to put on her resume.

She doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree, and she can’t legally drink yet.

At first, the age old feeling I’ve experienced before burned my ears a bit. I put down her book, and walked away, the little feeling edging it’s way into my thoughts. This young woman, this girl, from the same state as me even!-had written, published, and possessed a bestseller before I even had a decent rough draft to a single chapter in my name.

I was jealous.

I’ve experienced this before. The friends that have dated for a shorter period of time than my boyfriend and I are engaged and married within a year of knowing each other, and I wonder if they’ve discovered some magic we are not privy too. I’ve felt it with my second cousin that was a 4.0 student, that went to a third world country to volunteer, and got into the best school in the state, while our Christmas letter bragged about me getting glasses. And now, this spritely young thing, climbing best seller lists while I, an unmotivated and the worst of procrastinators when it comes to my personal writing projects-was no where near that ladder of success.

I hate that feeling.

Which is why I decided to kick it in the butt right then and there.

I purchased her book.

I decided that I was going to turn that jealousy of mine into something productive-passion. I actually read the first sentence of her book, and was amazed that the first sentence was a thought I had often pondered myself. Perhaps she had more than just a sentence in common with me. Perhaps this young woman could serve as an inspiration for me to not give up on my dreams, and that age is just a number. Whether a bestseller at 20, 30, 60, or 80, the fact you worked hard enough to get something published, and it was good enough to get noticed is a feat at any age. Maybe she and I will sit down and grab coffee one day, and she can inspire me further with personal advice, author to author. She is another success story of her words finding a voice online first, print second, so maybe I need to consider my tactics.

Jealousy just shouldn’t be one of them.

While I thought this, I reconsidered all the other moments of my life where I was jealous. My friends that are engaged before me? I shall wish them happiness and strength, while I realize that we have made the choice we have for our own personal reasons, and when I think about it, am very glad we are waiting to get married ourselves for a number of reasons. My second cousin? She may have had a terrific GPA and volunteered abroad, but since then I’ve had my own fair share of adventures with trips abroad and across the country, and was offered one heck of a great job. ย I can continue to celebrate hers and mine different successes, as long as I get to brag about publishing my first novel in the annual Christmas letter first ๐Ÿ˜‰

Turning that jealousy around to be channeled into passion and support for your “competitor” is not easy, and it shouldn’t be. Which is why I am going to stop thinking of my fellow writer friends as competition and instead as colleagues and a community I can share ideas with. We all have different ideas that have been inspired by an array of experiences, and we should celebrate our individual accomplishments as well as our neighbors.

So on this St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll embrace Irish culture, have some Irish inspired cuisine, and blast some terrific Irish tunes in my room. I might even wear some shamrock shaded clothing.

I just won’t turn that color. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sincerely,

The Shoe

25 Confessions of a “Young Working Professional” Part One: The First Two Months

jim office

December 2013 changed my life. After a year and a half of agonizing over job postings, sending out my resume that had been edited and perfected and rearranged hundreds of times to hundreds of businesses and companies, preparing and nervously awaiting two handfuls of interviews, sweating and preparing for one handful of second (and sometimes third) interviews-a company I had interned for the summer asked me to come in for a chat. My former supervisor was leaving, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in filling the very large void she would be leaving behind.

Finally, the long awaited “big kid” job I had been wishing for, hoping for, and praying for since before graduation in 2012 had arrived.

I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t react like how I thought I would. I didn’t jump up and down, scream words of joy, or run circles around my house with my job offer letter like I often had daydreamed I would.

Instead, I was very…serious about the whole thing. And very in shock. And very, very scared.

Two months later, I still can’t believe it. It still doesn’t feel real. But I’m not scared. Well, not as scared as I was.

It’s been a marathon since I started full-time. I only had one day with my former supervisor, meaning I took a mountain of notes and per her recommendation, sent her several emails over the first month whenever I had questions. So far though, I am surviving.

Not just surviving, but actually succeeding.

And learning so, so much. So many things, I just had to share them with all of you.

1) Sitting for 8 hours a day is hard. Especially when you are used to standing on your feet for 8 hours at your old retail job.

2) Errands like grocery shopping, clothes shopping, bank runs, and getting gas need to be now conducted on your hour lunch break, after 5 p.m., or on the weekend.

3) There is coffee in the break room. My Starbucks trips have been cut down significantly.

gasp barney

4) I can wear jeans to work. Major score for this comfy jeans kind of girl.

5) Working on salary is…nice. I like it. Yeah, I can never make more financially due to overtime, but it’s nice for figuring out bills when you know how much is going into your checking account every two weeks.

6) Getting up early is hard at first, and then, like magic, waking up before seven just makes sense…even on a Saturday. And going to bed before ten is not weird. It is sensible…and wonderful. The saucy electric blanket entices you every time.

7) I work for a company that supports and works with mainly theatres and performing arts venues. How awesome is that?

8) I kind of have to be my own manager and work independently….which can be nerve-wrecking and fantastic all at once.

9) I get to work on a desktop MAC at work. It is so pretty. His name is Mercutio.

10) All the computers are named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!

11) My fellow office mates love popcorn and chocolate. More importantly, they love sharing.

12) My boss has a leg lamp a la Christmas Story in his office, duck decoys behind his desk and Star Trek memorabilia on his book shelf. Yup, I’m working for the right kind of people.

star trek gazes

13-15) Repeat. STAR TREK. THEATRE. CHRISTMAS STORY. CHOCOLATE. SHAKESPEARE. Moving on.

16) You never truly leave work behind. More so than retail, work will creep into your mind at home, on a date, during church more so than it used to. It’s a sign that you care. Just remember to try and turn it off when you should, relax, and enjoy what is in front of you.

17) Which, as odd as it sounds, I do have more time to relax. Less time perusing job sites, more time reading good books.

18) Less time for creative endeavors, meaning twice the effort to make them happen.

19) Messing up happens. You are human. EVERYONE DOES IT.

20) Try your hardest to not mess up if possible, because when you mess up and it affects other people’s money, it can waste the company’s time, money, and resources. Use it as a learning experience.

21) Working for a small company? I LOVE IT. When I worked for a corporation, if I had any ideas or thoughts they just never were heard. You can send emails to your district manager. You can bring them up to your store manager. You can share them with co-workers. But…nothing will happen. There are so many levels to go through and hoops to jump through that only in rare cases would your voice be heard, and even then still nothing. With a small company, I work directly under the PRESIDENT of the entire COMPANY…and he ASKS to hear MY ideas! Are they always great ideas? Does he always like them? No, but they are at least heard. We can at least discuss them. And I love that.

22) My co-workers are really great. One co-worker is the same denomination as I am, and we talk about church sometimes like anything else-like the weather or dogs. I work in an office with only two other people in it, and I am so glad to work with those two individuals. We spend over 40 hours a week together, meaning we see each other more than our friends or families. I’m so glad my co-workers are fun, encouraging, and supportive. Sometimes we don’t always agree and might not get along the greatest-but we are definitely a team. I am so grateful for that.

23) ย With great power (job), comes great responsibility (bills and holding one’s self accountable even more so).

jlaw what gif

24) You really start to embrace the value of a dollar. I’ve always been pretty good with money, but since the full time job, I’m being even better with it. You question frivolous purchases, asking yourself if you really need more clothes or need to pay full price for that particular item. I shop at Goodwill more than I ever did, and have been taking advantage of my larger checks to make deeper cuts into my debts. I try to pack a lunch when I can and utilize leftovers, mentally map out car trips for the most efficient use of the miles and gas, limit the Starbucks runs, and consider doing dates to the budget cinema or $5 Tuesdays at the full price theater. (The fact I can still do that means I am very blessed, slightly spoiled, and a reminder to share the wealth. Which I plan on in a few months. Stay tuned for that ๐Ÿ˜‰ Still enjoying life, but also being a responsible adult.

and finally…

25) I want to work hard. Not that I didn’t want to work hard at my other jobs, but it’s different. Just because I have the job, doesn’t mean it’s a for sure thing. I need to make sure I’m pulling my weight and then some. We are a very small but successful company, but bills and salaries still need to be paid. I need to show and prove that they need me as much as I need them. It’s a challenge, but a great challenge. It keeps me from getting too comfortable and not caring. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me smiling when I’m working on five different projects all at once. And for that…I am so happy and grateful for.

Sincerely,

The Shoe

mean girls getting down