Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Month: September, 2011

Failure.

by mollykl

I’ve been thinking a lot about failure lately. (I should point out that I started working on the first draft of this post more than a week ago, before my beloved Red Sox were eliminated) It was timely that, courtesy of my friend C I found an article from the New York Times entitled, “What if the secret to success is failure?”. While most of the article is about rich, upper-class kids and their over-performing, overprotective parents, it made some good points about what we expect from our kids and what we do that sabotages them.

I, personally, am a fan of failure. At work we really have a culture of Yoda-isms “do or do not, there is no try”, that sort of thing. Well, that’s great…up to a point. But sometimes, I just want to try something that I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail at. Juuuust for the sake of trying…and failing. And why the hell not? The way I look at it, when you die you shouldn’t regret the things you did, you should regret the things you didn’t just throw yourself into.

Failure teaches lessons that winning never does. How to deal, being the most important lesson. Deal with losing. Deal with not succeeding. Life goes on, and often, there are more important things going on. It’s how you deal with failure that defines you, and whether or not you give up. Can you change course? Well, we’ll see won’t we?

I’ve had some spectacular failures in my life….and I’ve learned from every one of them. They are what they are – don’t ask me if I’d go back and do things differently because if it’s a non-issue I’m not answering.

I watch son J fail at things and do my best to help him understand that it’s how he faces those failures that will make him the man his is, or will be. Hard lesson for a five year old.

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“WHO are YOU?”

by mollykl

That is the question, isn’t it? Asked of Alice by the Caterpillar, it’s actually the crux of the whole story: who IS Alice? She’s not a little girl anymore, neither is she grown and ready to enter the constrained world of the adults (where for the time period she will have even fewer rights and freedoms than a child).

So who are you? This is a question I’ve been pondering because of something that happened at work.  My boss mentioned that a guest had handed him a card and he said it was like a business card, but with only his personal information on it.

“Oh, a calling card.” I told him.

I got a somewhat blank stare.

“I have them.” So I got mine out (I keep them in a cigarette case because they are slightly oversized) and handed him one.

He stared at it a moment and then said,”This is very sophisticated. You should get something that reflects your personality.”

I’m almost certain he didn’t mean that as an insult. I just stood there before I uttered a profanity, turned and walked away. But that got me thinking.

Who am I? Clearly who I know myself to be is not what others are seeing. Are you your public persona? I hold that you are not. You are not subject to whims of whatever snap judgments people choose to make based on what they see (which is obviously, to me, not the whole story).

Yes, no matter how hard I try to keep my shirt tucked in and wrinkle free I always arrive to work looking like I slept in my clothes. Yes, I speak in superlatives and am very enthusiastic about things I like. And yes, I like Nickelback and comic books. But those things don’t reflect who I am or how I see myself. My calling cards do. Ecru card stock with red script, just my name and my e-mail address (e-mail because I prefer to write to people rather than talk on the phone). Simple: my favorite color, my name -my whole name which is actually what I prefer – middle name included, and my favorite way of communicating.

THAT is who I am.

Mean.

by mollykl

I was talking with M at work today and he said he was shocked to learn that, in a poll done of California’s 5th graders, a whopping 48% reported being harassed at school. Let me repeat that: 48%.

Sadly, I was not shocked, mostly because I’m still traumatized by grade – and middle-school and the mean neighbor kid who lived down the street from us.

Son J came home from daycare a few weeks ago and described something that happened. A kid called him weird and pushed him down. At a loss for what to say exactly – I thought I’d have to deal with this bullshit in middle school, not fucking kindergarten! – I told him if he’s called weird again to just walk away. The next day I asked him how school went and he said two kids came up to him and called him weird. I asked what he did and he replied, with a bit of a proud smile, “I yelled, ‘No I’m not’. And then I walked away.” And it hasn’t happened since.

I worry about him. I worry about him a. because he’s my kid and I love him and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him, and b. because, well, he is a weird kid. He’s smart and funny and observant, and let’s face it, ours is not a society that values any of those things.

Knowing that J is going to grow up to be about the size, or bigger, than dad J, we’ve really tried to teach him to be kind and to take care of those around him. You should see him with the neighbor girl, D.  She’s 2 years younger and he watches over her. But the downside to this is that it makes him rather easy to steamroll over. Where’s the balance? At what point can we say, “Ok, now you can start standing up for yourself”? And is that going to be yet another thing he can be teased for? While I know that the neighbors appreciate his kindness it is yet another trait that our society and the world at large does not think is worthwhile.

I told J to simply walk away when he’s called weird, but I know realistically that it’s not always that easy, or that simple. At work, a place I love and where I have people who genuinely love me, I got called weird. I got called weird in a very mean manner in the break room, and managed to walk away without incident, only to end up in the bookkeeper’s office crying my eyes out to my friend M. I’m 43, and God knows I’ve been through all of this before, but it still hurt so much.

Perhaps that’s the upside. Son J doesn’t have the perfect parents who had blissful lives. Hopefully J will know that whatever advice we give him on dealing with mean people comes from experience. We know how much it hurts and how hard it is.  It might not make it any easier, but he will know that he’s not alone.

Post Script – And just to be very clear, at some point I will be doing this, as well. Because the day I flattened the mean neighbor kid was a highlight.

 

“What flavor of geek are you?”

by mollykl

So I worked in a different store yesterday, and got to meet someone new. Well, not really new. I’d been hearing about this guy for a while…mostly in the form of…”Have you met J? You two are exactly the SAME!” I blew it off till today when I met him and within five minutes thought, “Oh dear God, I’ve been cloned!” (As I am older I reserve the right to be the original) This guy IS MY EXACT DUPLICATE! His mannerisms, his expressions, the way he clams up when he’s concentrating, the random non sequiturs. It was almost frightening.

When we first met we started breaking down the price changes for the day and he said, “So I’ve heard a lot about you. Everyone says you’re really cool.” To which I replied, “They lied. I’m not cool. I’m a huge dork.”

A moment later he asked, “So what flavor of geek are you?”  I was actually speechless, which is a rare thing. And then I had to think…”hmmm, what flavor of geek AM I?”

He said he was a video game geek (World of Warcraft), but also a sci-fi geek (he may have mentioned Robert Jordan….I was good and didn’t roll my eyes). He knew I’d read Dune, because I’d referenced it in a group e-mail (memo to self…keep geeky references out of work e-mails!). I told him that and Alfred Bester were the only sci-fi I’d ever read. He looked aghast that I’d never read “The Martian Chronicles”, and I said, no, I had, I just didn’t really consider that sci-fi because it was just a story set on another world, there was no real world building. Then we got into a small disagreement about whether world building was really more a fantasy aspect rather than a sci-fi aspect. Oh yes, we did.

So, after some thought, here is what I should have answered to the question:

“I’m the ancient Greek flash card app, still bemoaning the loss of ‘Firefly’, Jane Austen-reading, fountain pen using, Steampunk adoring, and thus Clockwork Couture lusting, ‘History of the Day’ app, complete set of Jim Balent’s run on Catwoman, can spot Jim Lee’s work a mile away, details of Sherlock Holmes observing, cried at the series finale of ‘Voyager’ and named my last fish after the Greek god of war” flavor of geek.

You’re welcome.

 

Unscripted.

by mollykl

Son J’s first day of kindergarten was horrible. HORRIBLE. There was crying and shaking. And, oh my God I don’t even know what to do.

But we got through it. And the second day went much better. I didn’t get to go, it being ad day I was at work at 3 a.m., but husband J said he admitted to being a little scared, but then was fine. And it gets better day by day.

And that’s pretty much my life in a nutshell. The BIG moments that you’re supposed to record for future reminiscing…eh, not so much. But I have a great picture from his second day of kindergarten that I will treasure, because he actually looks happy.

I remember when husband J proposed. We were in Paris, and truth be told, I was rather expecting it. Tried not to stress about it. As the week wore on I started to relax a bit, thinking it wasn’t going to happen. Then, the night before we were to leave we went for a walk. It was October, and foggy and well, Paris. Gorgeous. The streets lights glowing through the cold fog. And I thought…

…this is it…and damn, it was such a lovely walk. Nothing.

In the small, cramped elevator in the hotel he turned to me and blurted out, “Marry me.”

Things don’t ever happen to me the way they’re scripted to. They happen the way they’re supposed to.

Behold the power of negative thinking!

by mollykl

I’m through with positive thinking. Those of you who’ve known me for a while will be wondering when I started with the positive thinking. Well, I tried it for one day and everything just went to hell. I also tried having some self-confidence and that was a miserable failure as well, so I’m throwing that out the window along with the positive thinking.

Rather than seeing myself as pessimistic, I’m going to view it as “realistic”. You know, you CAN prepare for war and hope for peace simultaneously, the bumper stickers have it wrong.

Yesterday I went into my two appointments for the day feeling positive! self-confident! the world is my oyster! FAIL. Both of them. Then I spent the rest of the day crying. (And then, when trying to remind myself of that “perspective” I rant on about I ended up crying even harder.)

Today I went to my doctor’s appointment just ASSUMING she was going to say “cancer, oh and that’s going to leave a scar the size of the New Jersey Turnpike”.

It was fine.

Behold people… the power of negative thinking!

 

Perspective.

by mollykl

I love history. I love the random facts and the morning-after quarterbacking. But mostly I love the perspective. Husband J likes to tease that the only reason I wanted a smart phone was for the “This day in history” app. Every morning before work I check in and see what happened on “this day in history”. Frequently, to the chagrin of my co-workers, I will repeat whatever I’ve read, ad naseum. As one of them succinctly told me, “Yeah, we don’t care.” To which I replied, “You should.”

I have a job interview today. Approximately five hours after I drop son J off for his first day of kindergarten I will be interviewing for the job that, not four weeks ago, I said in my annual review I wanted, could do, and would kick ass at. A position is available, and I didn’t even hesitate before I applied for it.

It’s rather perfect, having the interview today. I tend to get in my own way in things. Over think them, that sort of thing. Having the interview on what is such an important day for J and for me, as a parent, takes a lot of that away, and focuses on the reality of my life. J is important. My work is important too, but it comes nowhere close to J.

On this day, in 1972, in Munich, West Germany, 9 Israeli athletes were killed. Regardless of how the interview goes, I’m going to remember that, because that’s what history provides, a sense of perspective. That knowledge that what you are doing now is important to you…but what happened 30 years ago is important as well. Every morning I read about what happened two, ten, twenty, two hundred years ago and I think: how have things changed? how have they stayed the same? are we any better? It’s that perspective that helps me keep it together. Life seldom goes the way we wish, it goes, well, as it goes.

So, if you can, spare J a positive thought, send me a “good luck”, but never, never forget, that there’s more to each day than what your to-do list or calender says.

They have now said there were 11 hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.
—Jim McKay, 1972

One down.

by mollykl

Thanks to C, the 10 year old neighbor kid across the way, I now know how to hit a baseball. Kevin Youkilis won’t be looking for work anytime soon, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sore tomorrow, but it was a lot of fun, and very stress relieving.