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Remembering 9/11/01

11 Sep

When I was very young my family and I would visit my great aunt, we called her Dimples, in Staten Island. She had this really neat apartment in a high rise that we would go to, and every time we visited she would take us up to the roof. From that roof we had the most clear view of the New York City skyline. My best memory was when Dimples would show us the World Trade Centers, the “Twin Towers”. I am a twin, and she would always make it a point to show us the towers so that we could laugh about how they were named after my brother and me.

I was twelve years old on September 11, 2001. I was in seventh grade, which pretty much proves that I was at my peak of terrible-ness (have you ever met a pre-teen that isn’t generally awful in every sense of the word? Me neither).

To be 100 percent honest, I had absolutely no grasp on the severity of September 11th. None whatsoever. My middle school didn’t actually tell us what was going on that day, and even now I wonder how my classmates and I didn’t have any hint of anything. I faintly remember my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Pont, looking like he was crying, but we had just lost one of our English teachers in a car accident the previous week, and I thought nothing of it.

When I got home from school, oddly enough nobody else besides my brother and I were home, and I remember turning on MTV (back when TRL was still around and cool) to find it was shut down on stand-by, as was most of the other channels a 12-year-old would tune to. My twin and I jumped around the house laughing about whatever was going on that would warrant all of our shows to be shut off. We eventually got to a news station to see what was going on, and I still really couldn’t process how horrible this day was. I guess I assumed that if something serious had happened then our school, the culmination of a kid’s day, would have at least have said something, anything to us.

This was the day before cell phones were given to every infant while leaving the womb, and I called my friends from our landline to see how I should be reacting. Some of them were crying and some were panicked while others were just as confused as I was. Mind you, I live relatively close to New York City, and to a lot of people in my area this day was much more significant and heartbreaking. If I remember correctly my dad was away on business in Oklahoma, and when my mom came home she looked pretty broken and empty. I was used to seeing her excited, angry, shocked, pretty much any emotion besides blank.

To be honest I think that a lot of my emotions were a reaction to other’s emotions. I really couldn’t understand how horrible this day was. The televisions played over the crash so often that it wasn’t really shocking anymore, and I learned how to deal with that terror very quickly at a very young age. This was around the time in my life that I began seeing dead bodies in the media for the first time and reacting to them with very little compassion. It couldn’t be helped, really, because it was everywhere.

This desensitized view of life prepared me for the aftermath of 9/11: the wars, the constant fear of attack, the death. The next year I sat in history class and watched Shock and Awe, followed by a war that is still going on today, followed by a crippling recession that seemed to just kick our country when it was down. I grew up hearing about parents going off to the Middle East, and now I watch my own friends leave behind their families to fight.

Now that I am ten years older I have a real understanding of what happened. Ten years later I can’t look at videos or pictures of that day without getting upset. I can understand how the broken families feel and I can see the pain that is still hidden in the hearts of my friends and families from what that day did to our country. It makes me upset and angry, because I now realize how much harder September 11th made it for kids like me to grow up. There was so many more issues that we were taught to deal with, on top of all of the hard things that come with being a teenager and young adult.

It’s not fair that we had to go through this, but I still feel lucky. I feel lucky because through those hard times I was surrounded by a support group of people that taught me the right way to see terror and how to cope with all of what I was feeling.

I wish there was more that I could say than just “thank you” to the heroes of September 11th. The cops, firefighters, civilians and passengers that all helped save so many lives deserve everything they could ever want in life, and there will never be enough thank you’s for them. But now that I look back on my life, I have my own personal heroes that I feel deserve thanks as well. I want to thank the teachers, family members, friends and parents of friends that taught me how to cope with what happened to our country throughout the last ten years. I don’t know if I would be able to make sense of life now if I didn’t have the strength of the people that guided me through this last decade. We are all stronger because of the heroes and because of the memories of those we lost that day.

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2 Weeks Notice

4 Sep

I finally put in my two weeks notice and Whole Foods. That means, in a matter of a few days, I will no longer- and hopefully never again- be a cashier.

When I put my two weeks in I was excited and relieved and all those emotions you feel when you move on from a job you don’t really want to be in. Then, after a day or two, I started getting nervous and a little bummed out. I like the people that work there, I like (most of) the customers and I know that I can positively get some hours there. The same does not apply to my substitute teaching job, at least as of yet. I am intending on working hard and earning the maximum amount I can in this job, no matter how early I have to wake up or where I have to go, but it still doesn’t guarantee anything. Plus, what if I’m terrible at substitute teaching? What if kids walk all over me or I just do a bad job?

This is a bigger risk than I normally take. I mean, as soon as I graduated college I at least had a job, even if it was Whole Foods, that promised me steady hours while I looked for something else. Here I am, trying to jump into a job that I really don’t know anything about in an actual career, with no idea where I will be. I’m leaving behind a steady job that I’m settling into- sure it isn’t glamourous but I’m lucky to have anything- and I really don’t know where I’ll be in 3 months. Plus, what will I do when the summer rolls around?

I was thinking of going into a seasonal job at Whole Foods, as insurance for this job, but I feel like that is taking an easy way out. By next summer I want to have a career, something real and sturdy that will support my next life move.

This whole job and being a grownup thing is very nerve-racking. I really want to start doing the “adult” things in life- car payments, bills, moving out, you know how it is- but I can’t seem to get that financial footing.

As Kanye says, “Having money’s not everything not having it is.”

Fighting my Facebooking

30 Jul

My name is Erica. And I am a Facebook stalker.

I- like everyone else who has a Facebook- mainly use that damn addicting site for creeping on people I haven’t talked to since high school. Seeing who is pregnant, married, in jail, or actually succeeding with life. Why use it for my actual friends, you ask? Because they’re my friends and I know about their lives. Besides, most of my friends are smart and tend to keep their personal life off of social networking, while other less-logical people like to spill everything going on with everyone they know in one status update.

I firmly believe that social networking is mainly used to make people feel better about their own lives, or see what they need to improve upon based on other people’s updates, pictures and relationship statuses. If you don’t agree, chances are you’re either delusional or a nun. How many times have you had this conversation with a friend:

Friend: Oh! Did you see that so and so is pregnant with so and so’s baby!?
You: What!? No!!! Who told you that!?
Friend: It’s on her Facebook! She actually posted her first ultrasound and tagged so and so in it!
You: Oh my god I’ve got to add her!

It’s not like you have spoke to these parents-to-be in the last 4+ years, and it’s not like you’ll intend to anytime soon, but every little scandal makes life a little more delicious, right?

Don’t worry, I’m not judging, because I’ve done it way too many times before, all while knowing that it is wrong and I’m not being the nice person I pride myself in being. So, in keeping up with the whole growing up theme, I decided to stop lying to myself and clean up the crap.

First thing I did was go through and delete people that I haven’t had contact with since high school, and people that I stopped and thought, ‘who is that?’ Basically, I got rid of the complete strangers in my life.

Secondly, I deleted profiles that I spent most of staring at, but didn’t know the people behind them. People with, in one way or another, interesting lives that were my form of gossip and reality television. As much as social networking tells us about people it doesn’t tell us everything. There could be a world of a story behind them that could actually make me love them or hate them, people’s lives don’t translate to social media.

Lastly, I deleted people that had a negative impact on my own experiences. I went through and got rid of people that had hurt me in the past, or people that I knew in some way that were probably viewing my profile with bad intent. And that felt the best of all.

I think my views on social media have changed. When I was 17 and just started with Facebook and Myspace and all those time-wasters my main goal was convincing people that I was cool, I could have fun. I would post tons of pictures of me looking crazy and wild with all my tons and tons of friends. Now I realize that social media shouldn’t be about all of that, it should be catching up with those that you can’t be with directly.

From now on I plan on acting like an adult when it comes to social media. I don’t have to impress anyone, I have plenty of people who think I’m “cool,” and know how to have fun. Besides, I don’t really care much about impressing people anymore.

The rejection game

30 Jul

Any of my friends could tell you that I was the worst single person ever. I was an abomination to single-dom. Mainly because I didn’t understand the whole concept of picking up guys. I didn’t like most guys for some reason or another, and the other ones played the whole phone number waiting game that was just plain ridiculous.

The fact is I’ve never been good at waiting for calls. And now, those calls are- or should I say aren’t- coming from jobs, not unattractive boys in bars. I go to an interview, think I did a great job, start imagining what I would say when I call up and quit my cashier job, and then sit around and wait for the grand call saying “Erica! Please, please come work for our lustrous company! Oh please! We’ll pay you anything, everything you could want! You want rubies!? You’ve got rubies!” Then I tell my parents how great everything went and how I should be starting in a week or so…

And then I wait.

And wait.

And stare at the phone and wait some more.

Trying to leave the phone alone.

I wait and wait for a call from people who, days before, said I was a prime candidate and everything they were looking for. I consider what I will say when I call them and tell them that I have been waiting for a response. And then, like the crazy stalker girl, I call them:

“I was just seeing how my interview went and if I should blah, blah, blah,” when I know they aren’t interested and I’m just embarrassing myself. No one’s calling me back.

This exact situation happened to me with Lucky Brand Jeans the other day. Everything couldn’t have gone better. I wore this bangin’ outfit to the store and my hair looked great. I left my phone and wallet in the car, and I was early. The interview itself, which was originally a group interview until no one but me showed up, was absolutely perfect. They said they would meet my price expectations and that I should expect a call from the district manager within the week. Then… no call.

I waited almost a week before my crazy got the best of me and I called the store. I stammered out how excited I was to get working and get my next interview, and the woman I interviewed with told me she was just getting around to checking my references. I hung up, satisfied, until I realized one thing:

They didn’t ask for references.

So here I am, looking like a total tool again, desperate enough for a part-time job that I would humiliate myself like that. I could get over not hearing back from some dude, but this waiting game I play with jobs is just the worst. I know I shouldn’t let it bother me: I have been working hard since I was 14-years-old and I know the outlines of what it takes to do well. I have a great list of references and any company would be lucky to have me. In fact, I have gotten two job offers in the last 2 months that I have turned down. But, somehow every time I miss out on another job offer I get bothered. Even if its as small as a job folding jeans for rich middle-aged moms trying to look young.

I don’t actually know how to get over the rejection game. In my mind the only way to get over it is to not get rejected. Hopefully, soon I’ll actually have a job offer and a subsequent job that will mean I don’t have to worry about this crap anymore.

Moving Forward While Looking Back

28 Jul

As I mentioned, I am obsessed with the blog HelloGiggles. A lot of their posts strike me because they seem to reach out and write about situations that I am going through.

This one particular article, “How to Cope With a BFF Breakup” really struck a nerve for me. I have not lost my best friend, which I feel very fortunate about- though she is running around Brazil for the next few weeks and I am going crazy having no one to text weird things to all day every day- but recently I went through a strange, confusing period where I lost several of my friends in a very short period of time.

photo courtesy: hellogiggles.com

When I graduated I seemed to lose several friends that, over the course of two years, I had developed a very strong bond with. I don’t actually know why: there were no arguments or awkward moments that I could recollect that would warrant a sudden cut off from everything. If there was, trust me, I would have brought something up. I’ve never been the type of person to dance around problems and pretend everything was okay, because I know that gets people nowhere. Nevertheless, my friendships ended.

I tried to revive things but I wasn’t getting very far, and then I found this article. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. At the time I was angry: social media allowed me to see how much fun everyone was having without me, almost like the whole world was in on a big prank and I was the one being dooped. I was bitter and jealous and acting like a petty little girl. When I read this article I realized that life goes on. And yeah, it totally sucks to lose friends, and it’s okay to be upset about it, but I am 22-years-old now, time to be a big girl. I reached out, did what I could and now it is time to move on.

My handsome hero

The most important person in my life, my boyfriend Alex, is a very calm,gently and understanding man. He’s pretty much everything I’m not. He is always there for me, even when I’m being crazy and weird. There were many, many times that I would cry to him about losing my friends, and all I could ask him was:

“Why don’t they like me anymore?”

Now that I look at this question it’s almost embarrassing, and Alex made it clear as to why. He explained to me that people change, and that the people who don’t like me for who I’ve become shouldn’t matter.

I have moved on from the friends in the past, and now I am looking to fill up that hole that I lost when we parted ways. I feel so lucky to have friends that I have known for years, some more than a decade, and who I can still laugh with and hang out with (now with alcohol). One of my best friends has been a part of my life since the second grade, when we were awkward and weird with way too many printed turtlenecks (thanks mom). I now feel slightly guilty that I allowed those friendships to slip by.

Luckily, my old friends are better people than I, and have welcomed me back into their lives so warmly, as if nothing has changed. In the last two months I have seen faces that I have not seen in months, even years. I’ve laughed about old times and created new memories.

Now that I am allowing myself to live without wondering why I am not good enough for a few people and celebrating the people that love me for me I have felt happier and more fulfilled than I have in a long time. Life is turning up some new and better changes amongst the messes that it creates!

My newest endeavor

26 Jul

Trying to find my “career” has been one big brain ache. There are a ton of things I like to do and several things I consider myself good at, but there aren’t a ton of places that are willing to give people like me a try. You know, kids with more passion than experience. We’re in a recession, blah blah blah.

2006: I feel like I've matured beyond retail... An pictures like this.

Instead of trying to jump into a career that I don’t have adequate experience in I have decided to try and look into places that I do have experience with. I have a ton of experience working in retail, I mean I’ve been doing that since I was fourteen-years-old. One problem with that…

Retails sucks.

Retail should be renamed reterrible. Blerg! I really can’t stand it. There are so many reasons why, but in a nutshell I would rather spend a long weekend at a health insurance convention in Possum Trot, Kentucky (real city) with Voldemort and Nagini, and to cut costs we’d all share a double bed without working air conditioning at a Days Inn, than to spend the rest of my life working in retail.

My other option would, of course be journalism, and we all know how well that path is going. If you have been living under a rock and have not witnessed the fall of journalism and reading in general let me share this lovely story with you:

While applying to jobs in college I got hired at a Nordstrom Rack. At one of my endless series of orientations I met a guy who was a sports journalists for the Courier Post in South Jersey. Of course I started telling him how my handsome, charming boyfriend is a sports writer and was looking for a job and asked him how we could go about applying for positions there. The guy started laughing in one of those sarcastic, obnoxious ways and said “I’m at a job interview to fold shirts for a living. Do you think I’m going to be able to help you get a job?”

So with little hope and still very little idea of what I want to do with my life, I looked at my one other hunk of experience: teaching. I have actually done quite a lot of teaching, at summer camps and at the nature park I used to intern at. I just never thought to make it a career path because… I hated school so much. Plus I always thought about my life turning into this glamorous show, with awards and celebrity and all that. Now that I’m a grownup and have realized that I’m not as cool as I thought I was a few years ago, I’m starting to see education as something I would be really good at and could even enjoy. It’s always changing: the curriculum, the students, it all changes day by day. Plus, I would have the chance to be someone who could actually make a difference in the world, not just another cashier at Whole Foods.

I decided to do some snooping around town for substitute teaching positions and I turned up some leads! As of now my general plan is to apply for my substitute teaching license, and then go from there. I had one of the Superintendents I spoke to today even give me some direction on how to obtain an actual teaching license.

The thing is I am a pretty big flip-flopper. I changed my major two… maybe three? times while at college and now look at me. Needless to say I’m fairly skeptical of myself. But- for the first time ever- this is something my parents could see me doing and this is something I could definitely see myself doing. I guess the first step is all I can do for now, and I’ll see where that leads me!

Job Hunting Monday!

25 Jul

So today is one of my (many) days off- only being allowed to work part-time at my job gives me this wonderfully boring luxury- so I spend it as I usually do: job-hunting.

What is a day of job hunting for me look like? Well I wake up around 11 a.m. because I love sleeping more than anything. It’s something I’m very passionate about. I shower and put on some of my dressier attire, get all made up and what not, and head downstairs.

The next several hours are spent on the phone, on Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com and constantly refreshing my e-mails waiting for some sort of reply. Throw a lunch in the middle somewhere, along with the occasional drive into town to fill out some applications in person, and there you have it.

On a day like today I will average about 30 applications a day. With four days of applications a week, some less than others, I probably apply to about 85 jobs a week. So far I have gotten… 5 calls back.

What goes through my head at night? It’s not what wondering why I’m not good enough, that’s for sure. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough… and gosh darnit people like me! But seriously, I can confidently say that I would make a prime candidate for any job that I have applied for. If someone were to just meet me for an interview I know that I could get any job I could want. Not a doubt in my mind.

What I do think about is my future. If I’m being honest with myself I still have no idea what I want to do. I graduated with a journalism degree and I now know that I am not that interested in being a journalist. I have a lot to think about. I want to begin to build a great future for myself but I can’t even figure out where that will start.

I hate Mondays.