journal

A week of vacation

4

Last week, I took my annual week off and spent it all with Melanie. It was an amazing time and a week that really reminded me of a few key things in life.

Saturday, the 9th, we kicked everything off with a trip to Six Flags with one of my sisters and her boyfriend. It was a blast and I couldn’t imagine a better way to start the vacation. I wound up doing every coaster except Rolling Thunder and Batman. Why skip those two? Well, Rolling Thunder’s only goal seems to be to destroy the spinal cord of every single rider and Batman seems to make every Vendemio a sick Vendemio. I guess I was playing it safe since I still had a whole week off to follow. I did summon up the testicular fortitude to ride King Da Ka again, though. While I still question the fun of such a short ride, the insanity of the damn thing made every other coaster seem like a cake walk. Finishing off with Nitro and a ride in the front of El Toro just rounded off the day so perfectly.

The next three days were spent in Seaside Heights. Between the beach, the rides and games, and stalking the stars of Jersey Shore, it was a great time. The run-ins with the Jersey Shore cast were definitely the most noteworthy moments. The first night there, Melanie and I wound up being no more than 5 feet away from Sammi and J-Woww as they fled an arcade and headed back to the house. The next morning, while we all had breakfast, Mike walked in to the place and ordered breakfast and hung out for about 20 minutes. That also brought about the funniest moment of the day. When we ordered our food, Melanie asked for an iced coffee and was told, by the waitress, that they “don’t have any ice”. Ten minutes later, Mike asks for ice for his coffee and gets a whole tub of it. I don’t know what changed in ten minutes, but that was a ridiculously funny and dream shattering moment.

After leaving Seaside and returning to Staten Island for one night, we headed out to Atlantic City as her parents were comp’ed a room by Harrah’s and offered us a free night. Who can turn down such an offer? This was my first ever trip to AC or any casino in general and it was pretty cool. I’m really cautious about my money, so I spent almost all of my time on penny slots, but it was a fun environment, nonetheless, and I learned that it’s a place I could enjoy in the future. The second day there, Melanie and I spent our time at the Atlantic City Outlets which are alternatively named “The Walk”. I spent a little more than I wanted to, but I definitely got a lot for my money. It was nice to get clothes I truly like as PacSun and Ecko Unlimited are, outside of the outlet environment, too expensive for my tastes but very affordable when they’re selling their stuff at outlet prices. I, also, bought Melanie the Coach bag I’ve been promising her since my promotion at work. I’m going to consider it an apology for something stupid I’ll probably do in the future. Apology accepted?

We finished up the week with a trip to the Bronx Zoo, which was cool since I haven’t been there in over ten years. It was a nice, simple day together and a good chance for me to use my new camera. I learned that I really need to work on my focal points as a few too many of my shots had the main subject out of focus. Woops. It’s a learning process, I guess.

All in all, I had an amazing week and it really reminded me of how much joy and happiness life can contain. I have a lot to say on that subject, though, so I think I’ll save it for the next blog post. Yeah, I know, two blog posts (or at least, planned posts) in the same week? Unheard of!

Adjusting to Leadership

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I’ve been a supervisor, officially, for two weeks, now, and I’m still going through growing pains. I have two main issues that I know I need to deal with before I go insane: My desire to do it all myself and my never ending fear of failure.

No matter what the environment may be, when you become a leader, you need to learn delegation skills. While I understand the process, I also have this natural instinct to want to do everything myself. In my case, I wound up selling WAY too much in the first week on the job. I became so engrossed in the selling, that I really felt like the numbers were solely up to me and my sales. It was exhausting and, honestly, I’m glad I was able to notice the issue before I drove myself too crazy so quickly. I don’t want my employees to think I’m running from the work, but I know I can’t do it all and need to be smart about delegating things in the future.

My other problem is something I’ve dealt with for all of my life: An absolute fear of failing. We can dive deep into the psychology of why I fear failure so much, but there’s no point. In reality, I don’t feel joy whenever I succeed. Instead, I feel relief that I didn’t fail. Obviously, the feeling isn’t all that enjoyable. As I work to turn around a department that has lagged behind the pack for a long time, I find myself freaking out over every little set back. I guess part of me expects to be able to fix the problems over night. Another part of me, when that doesn’t happen, sends itself into a panic and brings me with it. I know it’s not healthy and I need to figure out what an acceptable rate of improvement is because, otherwise, I’m going to wind up in a straight jacket. I just really don’t want to fail at this. I took a big risk by staying with this company for as long as I have and I know this is my one chance to prove I can do it and move further up the ladder. Failure would ruin all of that.

My friends at work have been great in getting me through this all, though. When I’m lost in the numbers or freaking over a set back, it’s nice to have people around me who are funny and intelligent and able to make me laugh or distract me. For a guy who used to shy away from people, I’ve become really reliant on those around me for that all important mental relief.

Back to wearing khakis

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Today, I officially start my new position as Sales Supervisor in my store and I’m super nervous. I’ve been working in the warehouse for 4 years, now, and going back to the sales floor is going to be a major adjustment. On top of that, going back to the sales floor with so much more responsibility on me makes me worry about failing. I obsess about not failing and I’m praying to god that I don’t drive myself crazy.

The one thing that will help me get through this, as is always the case, will be my co-workers. I was able to hand pick my team and that definitely helped build some confidence in my ability to get things rolling. There’s a mix of gamers and overall good workers and, most importantly for my nerves, good friends who I trust to do their best to get us to victory. Having these people around me and knowing that they aren’t clueless drones who will try to get by doing the bare minimum is a very nice feeling and one that lends itself to easing my nerves.

I still worry, though, about how the schedule change will affect my personal life, namely, my relationship. In my previous role, I would work 6am – 2pm shifts, which would give me plenty of time to make it out to Melanie on most days. Now, on the sales floor, most of my shifts will be mid to late shifts, where I won’t get out until 8pm. This is seriously going to put a cramp on the number of days that I can see Melanie and I worry about the strain it’ll put on our relationship. I’m hoping that we’re both patient enough to deal with it.

This is going to be an interesting journey, either way. While I know most people would scoff at working their entire lives in retail, it’s something I’ve become ok with. With a company like mine, if I work hard enough, I can make $80,000 to $100,000, on the store level, without having a college degree. I know I should have stayed in school and what not, but it’s a great opportunity to, at least, be financially secure, regardless. With that said, though, I would still like to have a normal 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. Maybe I can find one at some point, but it seems as though most of them require some sort of college degrees and, well, we just went over that.

How my brain handles a promotion at work

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Most people, when receiving a promotion at work, are ecstatic and bask in the feeling of success. I don’t do that. Up until I met up with Melanie, yesterday, I actually exhausted myself thinking through every scenario in which I can fail. Welcome to my mind.

Let me catch everyone up to the present. Last Friday, I interviewed for the new Gaming Supervisor spot at work. This is a position created by the company as they turn their focus to Gamestop and Walmart in an attempt to become the #1 gaming retailer in the U.S. Part of that drive means having leadership and employees dedicated solely to the department and so, when the position was made available, I applied. I love games and I want to move up. It kind of made sense to go for it.

Yesterday, I was told that I would be receiving an offer for the job. Immediately, my emotions were very bitter sweet, with way more bitterness than sweetness. I felt bad for a few co-workers who also went for the spot and would have been just as good of a fit for it. They’re my friends and I, of course, want success for them. It wasn’t pleasant seeing the disappointment in their faces. I know most people will tell me that I have to look out for myself, but it still bothered me. On top of that, I started panicking about all the ways I can screw this up and fail miserably. It’s damn exhausting to think like that and, as today winds down and I’ve spent most of it thinking of the same things, I’m exhausted yet again.

The biggest challenge, though, is going to be heading back to the sales floor. I have become very comfortable in my now former role. I’ve worked only mornings, knew almost every thing there is to know for a person in that position, and got to spend a lot of time with Melanie. Now, as I move back to the sales floor, my schedule will vary wildly and time with Melanie is going to be limited. On top of that, I have never been a supervisor before and I haven’t been on the sales floor in four years. What the hell were these people thinking picking me?! Life is about to get very different.

At the end of the day, honestly speaking, it’s just my fear of change and failure that’s crippling me. Logically, I can see how silly it is to think like this, but that doesn’t change the fact that the thoughts creep in and make me want to run and hide. I hope I can conquer the negativity and, ultimately, succeed at this new job as well as I have in the role I’m leaving. I’m so used to being one of the best, that the thought of falling behind the pack is very scary and not something I want to have to deal with.

First steps of boomeranging

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After my last post about my anxieties of moving and the new financial burdens I felt I would have trouble bearing, my parents reached out to me and offered me the chance to move back home so that I can get myself back on my feet. I consulted with a few people and, after realizing it would be best for me in terms of long term life planning, I agreed. It bummed me out to make the decision, though, and today, it all became a reality as I’ve started to pack up the few boxes I need to get together.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am very appreciative of the opportunity my parents are giving me. After two years of costly dental procedures, I am no where near where I should be, financially. It’s a burden, for sure, but I’ve been able to get by with my current bills. Unfortunately, the increased bills that would have come along with the new apartment would have crippled me rather quickly and I knew I couldn’t live like that. My parents’ generosity offers me a chance to breathe and truly save for my future. A future that is quickly approaching and one that I’m anxious to get to. That doesn’t help some of the depression associated with moving back home, though.

I’m a boomerang kid. That’s the term for someone who moves out of their parents’ house and then moves back in at a later time, usually due to financial difficulties. The stigma bothers me a bit, yeah, but the change that comes along with this move gets to me the most. I love my current apartment and even the new apartment wouldn’t have come close to this place. The apartment, itself, is also closer to work and Melanie which means I can easily walk to work and get to Melanie within an hour. Now, on days the trains aren’t running correctly, I have to figure out how to get to work. Coming home from Staten Island isn’t going to be a picnic either.

Beyond the traveling issues, comes the privacy issue. I love coming home to an often empty apartment and being alone for a little bit. It’s soothing, especially for someone who works in a very busy retail environment. Home isn’t going to be as peaceful. I’m going to be tested on some days, that’s for sure.

I guess all of this amounts to me feeling a little depressed over the situation. I wish I could afford to continue to live on my own, but the truth is that I can’t and my parents are saving me from inevitable debt. It’s a case of logic and emotion. Logically, this all makes complete sense. Emotionally, I may need some time to realize that.

Moving and it’s inherent stresses

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For those of you who never ever listen to me or read my Facebook or follow me on Twitter or happen to walk by me on the streets, I’ll be moving out at the end of the month. My roommates are moving back to Queens and there’s no way I can afford my current place on my own or with only one other roommate.

After talking to my best friend Joe, we decided this would be the best time for us to get a place together. We’ve talked about it for years and the timing never worked out. Even now, though, the timing isn’t perfect. He’s stuck in a lease until July and I have to be out by the end of the month. How’s this going to work? It wouldn’t if it weren’t for my parents stepping up and helping me out.

To be frank, I don’t make all that much at my current job and money is always tight. With my share of the rent going up and already threatening to stretch me a bit thin, there was no way I could afford the entire rent for 3 months. My dad came to the rescue, though, and offered to help me out by covering Joe’s share of the rent until Joe moved in. If you just said “wow” to yourself, don’t worry, so did I. It’s a ridiculously nice gesture that I wish I knew how to show appreciation for. Add to that the constant support from my mom and you can see why I love my parents.

It’s still going to be tough until Joe moves in. I’ll have to cover the electric bill, gas bill, and cable bill (the worst of them all) by myself and I’m already freaking out. Money just scares me to death and I dread financially difficult times. I’m going to be super stressed out for the next few months because of it, but it’s something that has to be dealt with.

I’m not sure there was much of a point to this post other than me venting. I can’t write a rhyme about this stuff, but getting it out in words still helps a lot. Thanks to everyone for their continued support and patience in listening to me whine all day long.

The perfect couple

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While it mostly comes from Melanie’s girl friends, I’m still surprised by the number of people who think we are the perfect couple. Don’t get me wrong, I think we’re a great couple, but we fight and disagree and go through the same things many other couples go through. We’re not perfect people and effort is required to keep the relationship going just as with anyone else’s relationship. Yet, we’re perfect.

Then we have my sister and my roommate. In my eyes, THEY were always the perfect couple. I was amazed to hear, when talking to my sister, that they fought just like Melanie and I do. It’s actually eerie to hear how many of the arguments are the same even if the people involved are completely different. The perfect couple, in my eyes, was the same as Melanie and I. Wow.

I started thinking and I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone knows a couple that they see as “the perfect couple”. That couple never seems to fight and, probably, appears to be the epitome of love. Behind closed doors, though, I bet they’re just like the rest of us. They fight and disagree and have those moments where they want to throw each other down a flight of stairs. We all have those moments, yet, everyone’s in love.

So, you know what? Melanie and I are the perfect couple. Hell, my sister and my roomie are the perfect couple, too. I think any couple that can go above that crush stage and make each other happy a majority of the time is, in fact, the perfect couple. This isn’t the movies. This isn’t TV. Some fights are stupid, some are nasty, and some are for the sake of fighting, but it never lasts long, cause there’s always that love. I love her. She loves me. Yeah, we’re perfect.

Separating work from the rest

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I need to start creating clear distinctions in my life and keep work from spilling into my personal life. To top it off, I need to stop getting stressed out, so easily, at work. It’s all serving to throw off my happiness outside of the big blue box and I’m sick of it.

Even though I mentioned it second, learning to not get stressed out at work should, probably, be my first priority. I go in and get pissed off because the people around me don’t seem to care as much as I do. I talk to managers and supervisors and get no where. I spin my wheels, get aggravated, and let it sit with me the rest of the day. Why should I care if no one else does? If I have to spend every single day cleaning up someone else’s mistakes, then that’s my management’s choice in how they’re spending labor. I get paid, either way.

Regardless of how successful I am with that, I need to make sure any stress I do encounter stays in that building once I punch out. It winds up exhausting me, making me feel old, and interfering with things like my relationship with Melanie. I’m too young to feel this old and I’m done with it. I’m not going to run out and start doing 8 balls, but maybe I’d like to be able to laugh and have a beer and just enjoy a night with my girlfriend, whether we’re going out or sitting home and bumming around. I don’t get paid enough to carry that burden around with me and I won’t do it, anymore.

Getting into shape and losing a scale

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My roommate, James, and I have been talking about how out of shape we both are. We both realized how bad our cardio was and James also thought he could lose a few pounds. We talked for months about it, but finally decided to do something to change the situation, so we went to Walmart and bought an exercise bike. Why a bike? Well, for me, I’ve always been a fan of bike riding in the summer, so this felt like a natural extension of that love and a great way of keeping me on my workout routine.

We had a limited budget to work with, so Walmart made the most sense, even if I’m not a fan of them. James and I both wanted a recumbent bike for the obvious comfort reasons, but settled on a nicely priced upright. The bike isn’t super high end, but it does the job and, during my first two workouts, I’ve had my ass handed to me. The thing I like most about it is the set of 8 preset workout routines that automatically adjust the resistance over a period of 20 or 30 minutes. These presets push me harder than I would, otherwise, push myself if I had to manually choose the resistance. Here’s hoping I find the strength to keep this all going and finally get back to the shape I used to be in.

As a side story, we also bought a scale in Walmart after our other one broke a few months back. We found a nice little digital scale for $18 and put it in the cart. Unfortunately, we were so wrapped up in getting the bike to fit in the car, that none of us (our girlfriends came with us) thought to take the bag out of the cart and into the car. I hope whoever found it is enjoying the damn thing.

Always quality over quantity

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It’s been a few days since I’ve checked in and I promise I won’t be returning to those extended periods of silence. Something came up, however, and I had to deal with it and the process was very exhausting.

I’ve realized, lately, the importance of friends. I know I’ve always been a bit more introverted than the usual person, but I’ve been coming out of my shell over the past years and having good people around you is key to remaining stable and happy. I guess a lot of it comes down to the relationship I have with Melanie. To be in a relationship, you have to open up and she cracked me a peanut. The rest just comes with the territory, I guess.

High school is a lot like Myspace. The number of friends you have always seems like a big deal and people go for as many friends as possible. There’s always exceptions, but I know most people, when I were in high school, called way too many people their “friends” when they were really just acquaintances, at best. I was no different. Even in my shy and loner ways, I tried to be everybody’s friend and desperately tried to add to that total number. I kept a lot of people around and in my life when all they did was take from it. Things have changed, though.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t have many friends. I’m just not that guy. The few friends I do have, however, I appreciate more and more as time goes on. I’m not going to mention names because I’m sure some people will feel excluded and throw a hissy fit for no reason, but if you’re my friend, thank you. You guys have been immensely helpful as I go through my 20′s and I’d be much crazier if you all weren’t around to keep me in check. Forget dozens or hundreds of friends, I only need a select few good ones and you all fit that bill so well.

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