Category Archives: Stories

Tips for Leading a Positive Life

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The old adage “ignorance is bliss” can be painfully true sometimes. Early on in my college experience, I ended up baking cookies with my friend and her ex-boyfriend, a summer flame from years past. We had intended for this ginger manchild to give us a lesson on how to make no-bake cookies; however, he attempted to lay some cosmic knowledge on us that he learned in his sketchy adventures across the globe. Long story short, we ended up discussing the complexities of humankind and the universe.  I’m not sure whether it was the weight of the air in the room, or the fatigue from laying on the beach all day, but we remember only bits and pieces of this dense conversation that took place as the cookies settled. Through a fog, I remember Lucie tapping me and asking, “Why are you staring at that family crest?” It was green and gold and meant nothing to me. I closed my eyes, shook my head, but still felt confined by the heat and pressure. I’m never one to have my head in the clouds, so we left immediately after eating the no-bake cookies. Looking back, this was a questionable choice. We only remember him repeating to me, “You’re a thinker.”

It didn’t matter how strange this surreal, out-of-body experience with this gingerman was; we always refer to his phrase, “You’re a thinker.” I always overanalyze things. I play out convoluted situations in my head after they happen, and I think of how the person reacted to every serious comment I made. I do this with happy occasions too, but overthinking can be a dangerous game in terms of regret. You start thinking of could-have, would-have, should-have circumstances and you get further from accepting what came of the situation. Despite this, I am a happy, upbeat person. I smile in uncomfortable situations; I help strangers because it hurts me to not to. I don’t understand people who think all of our society/world/universe is doomed. There is still beauty in the world, although many people around us cling to the negative. I agree with Anne Frank: People are inherently good, despite many aspects of evil in the world. At this time, I’m not prepared to help with the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But, here’s a few ideas of how to deal with the world when you’re thinking, “Why does my life suck?”

1) There is no such thing as a bad day, week, month, or year. You only have bad moments. I’m sure something positive occurred during that time frame too. Saying you’re having a bad day might cause you to overlook good things.

2) Not “getting what you want” always has a marginal benefit to you. If things don’t work out the way you envisioned, talk it out with a friend or make a list of the things that can now happen because the said thing did not. This is particularly helpful with boys, jobs, apartments, etc.– really any missed opportunities.

3) Ask yourself if you’ll still care about this problem in 5 hours, 5 days, 5 months, and 5 years. Then react accordingly. You don’t need to call everyone you know for advice and sympathy about a temporary problem. Also, you probably shouldn’t waste your time grieving temporary uncertainties/issues.

4) Reach out to friends/family/strangers if you need help, or a good laugh. Too many people go with the urge to isolate themselves when they’re upset, and usually it doesn’t help. Friends and family provide us with support, but a nice stranger can really impact our views on human behavior.

5) Put your energy into something productive, creative, and tangible (if you’re that type of person). Do some play therapy: pick up a box of crayons and color; doodle on the back of your phone bill; freewrite your feelings or a story; build something; or finish a home project. Being silly and feeling accomplished goes a long way.

6) Plan a trip if you have money, a date if you have an exciting crush, and always a fancy dinner with a friend to reward yourself, because you deserve it.

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My first thoughts about MTK, written ages ago–Suggestions?

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On May 27th, I heaved my summer essentials into the back of my Chevy Blazer and prepared to set off alone for my two hundred mile adventure to the tip of New York State. I didn’t leave before double-checking that I hadn’t forgotten any toiletries and running back inside for my coffee maker and other various necessities. After locking the front door for the fourth time, I reconciled that anything else I had left behind could easily be replaced. Scanning the block, I paused at the church atop the vast hill that I climb with Tucker on our afternoon walks. That hill I would certainly miss, but the construction, traffic, and suburban monotony, I would not. Absentmindedly, I rolled down the hill and out of my neighborhood. Navigating to Westchester was a trip that the Blazer and I knew well.

I crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge and spent the night at my friend’s home just outside of the city. I knew Kerouac would be proud as I departed my friend’s house slightly under the weather after a night of catching up with college friends, in attempts to navigate my way out there with only the directions I had scribbled in my notebook.  He would applaud my gutsy departure with the limited resources of $100 in my bank account, probably as much as he would admire the aspiration of turning the numerous business contacts penciled into my notebook into a secure job for the next two months.

With the angle of securing a job as a waitress, somehow Lucie convinced her parents that it was imperative to head out to their summer home over Memorial Day weekend, well before her family would be out for the season.  She needed a friend there and I was dead-set on going from the moment Lucie ran the opportunity by me.  Spending the summer in this ritzy beach town sounded more than appealing to me. Chalk it up to the business owners’ rudeness when I admitted to no prior food service experience, or my bland voicemails that failed to interest employers, weeks had gone by with no success for me in the job department.

I could return to the suburbs this summer: work at the same company I had for the past five summers, spend nights cruising around, listening to music with old friends, including my ex. To him I was the one, but I wasn’t the only one. This summer, I wouldn’t sit at the baseball field in chatting until 3:00 AM, but more importantly I wouldn’t sit at home waiting hours for him to text me back, well after he had dropped off his latest 16-year-old fling. In my mind, the stresses that lay behind were overshadowed with excitement of finally reaching the coast.  After spending three hours in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, I flew down Sunrise Highway, cherishing every second along the desolate, sand-traced roadway.  Arriving at my destination, five miles short of Montauk Point, I had arrived at my paradise, ready for all the challenges that faced me.

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On job interviews

Are you most interesting on paper, or in person? A few days ago, I struggled with this question when I exited a job interview. If the employer really and truly knew me, would they want the real person I am, or my one page, black-and-white history?

I fastened the final button on my peacoat and stepped out into the morning air of downtown Albany. I looked at the clock, 11:40. A forty minute interview seems like more than enough time to share who you are, but the fact is, it never ever is.

Before arriving at the interview, I thought this job would be a simple, easy resume builder and an excuse to leave my comfortable retail life. This changed when I realized I was too incompetent to use the intercom system to enter the quaint residence turned office building. A middle-aged secretary led me upstairs, and offered me water, coffee, or tea. Once they offer you coffee, you know it’s an adult job.

After several painstaking minutes of looking busy without using my iPhone, another woman greeted me and directed me down the stairs and into the conference room. Out of politeness, I chose to situate myself three seats down on the left side, despite every inclination to sit at the head of the table. Had they been watching for leadership qualities, I may have unfortunately misrepresented myself.

The chairs were all adorned with the non-profit company’s emblem. A gold, circular image that I couldn’t make out against the black matte paint. As three other interviewers filled in on the other side of the long, narrow black table of the unofficial state building across from the Capitol building, I realized the gravity of this position. All I could think was, good call on the black blazer.

I’ve never had a traumatic interview experience. In fact, most of my interviews go quite well, though I am very mild-mannered and shy around new people. Especially if I don’t know exactly what they are looking for in me. For me (and most other people in their early 20’s), selling myself professionally is difficult because I am fresh in the working scene. There’s something fundamentally artificial about the job interview process, on both sides of the table. My interviewers probably wanted to know if I’m competent, independent, can arrive on time, etc. Instead, of answering these questions, I’m subject to handling the inevitable, “What is the quality you need to improve?” question.

One of the interviewers read my cover letter and resume in front of me as another described the company and their mission to improve education and society. I uneasily crossed my right leg over my leg to ensure that no one could see my 1-inch tattoo. There are many aspects of myself that are taboo in job interviews, but have little to no effect on my talents, success, and ambition. Things you can’t include on a resume: Tattoos, exciting trips you’ve went on, your connections to other professionals and visionaries, your title as an official whiskey taste tester, or how much of an asset you are to your friends and family…. The older I get, the more easily I can write on an index card the features of strangers that I meet and admire. It’s only my oldest and longest friends that I will meet up with, spend hours and days with, and have absolutely no idea or interest in what they do professionally. This whole sell-yourself idea is what makes many people avoid the whole thing. “Why don’t you grow up?” Suddenly, I can come up with a few great reasons.

At the close of the interview, I was handed a business card to contact them in case I came up with any questions other than the minuscule one I had posed earlier. It was only then that I felt I let a bit of my true personality show. I commented on the beauty of the architecture of the building, specifically that I didn’t expect it to be as cozy. The interviewer proceeded to show me exactly how cozy the working quarters are by giving me a brief tour of the office. After some friendly banter, she walked me to the door and I felt that I made a better impression than I did during the initial Q&A.

But despite all of this interview awkwardness, I still want the job. Crossing my fingers for a call tomorrow!

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