I am not a morning person. I need a good hour to myself to wake up before I start interacting with other human beings. And I can’t do caffeine first thing in the morning. I have to wake up naturally before I start on the coffee or energy drinks. otherwise I just get tweaked. It’s not a big deal. It’s just my process. Six to seven hours of sleep and some breakfast, maybe a morning walk, and I’m good to go.
I’m like a small child; not enough sleep and not enough to eat and I get… irritable, to say the least.
When you’re a full-time college student over here in Middle-of-Nowhere, Pennsylvania – attempting to fulfill a double major, working, rehearsing 5 nights a week 85% of each semester for stage productions, and trying to maintain a social life – food and sleep aren’t really the kind of things you come across without seeking them out with diligence. As a result, more than a student or two have their cranky days on a semi-regular basis. When you’re an extremely expressive individual individual like me, cranky isn’t your best look.
You are like a house.
She’s a brick… house. She’s mighty mighty – .
Anyway, you are like a house; or rather, the keeper of a house.
I stayed up late watching Once Upon A Time last night. When I woke up at 6 a.m. with maybe 5 hours of sleep under my belt, I knew from the weight in my limbs, chest, and eyelids that I – and the world around me – was in for a rough day. There are people who can function without sleep. My grandmother is one of them. She sits with her laptop in front of her and dozes off for small amounts of time throughout the night while she does whatever it is she does. I don’t know how those people pull it off. My mugshot would be flashing on the T.V. – young man arrested for violent crime. More tonight on 11 at 11 after Once Upon a Time – after a week.
I work as a server – one of my jobs – at a quaint little restaurant in the town I grew up in during my high school years. I used to love serving when I was 19. Absolutely loved it. It was fun. It was easy. I made enough money to pay my rent and utilities, keep my phone on, and go out to the city once every two weeks. It was great.
It’s not that I hate serving. It’s just that I’m not the extroverted ball of sunshine that I once was. Hours upon hours of forced smiles, rudeness, lazy chefs who flip their lids over special orders, and pretentious SOBs who know how to spend but not how to tip gets to be a bit much nowadays. I cope. Every night after work I enjoy a cold beer at the restaurant’s bar area after the whole place has been all cleaned up and there’s nothing left to do but unwind and count the day’s income. Once a month or so I switch out the beer for a nice
bottle glass of wine.
What really trips me up is a dinner shift on not enough sleep, especially if I’ve
forgotten been to busy to eat that day. Remember what I said about me and crankiness and being expressive? My poor co-workers.
I really could have my own reality show – someone pitch this to MTV for me. I’m quite the character. You’ll know when I’m in a no-sleep/no-food funk at work. I
slam set down plates in the server station with more force than necessary, mutter under my breath – all the choicest words in my vocabulary -, walk really (really) fast – think Olympic speed-walking -, and move around in a spastic kind of way, and of course put on a big, fake, gleaming smile when I get to my tables.
It’s not just the lack of sleep. It’s my boss.
Here’s the deal. I could get really busy at work and lose my head for a bit because I have no energy, make it through the busy spurt, and come out on the other side just fine.I’d order something to eat from the kitchen, get some energy in me, and be fine for the rest of the day. Short little episode over. Customers notice nothing. Co-workers are spared the nightly show. But no. Things can’t be that simple. Why? My boss is a just as much of a drama queen as I am. I love her, don’t get me wrong. But she knows how and when to be a bitch.
Here’s what I would like a not so ideal, sleep/food deprived dinner shift to look like:
Go in. Get busy. Get flustered. Boss-lady reads the signs and helps the servers get through the business as usual. Boss lady goes about her managerial business and lets us all clean up our messes from the busy period and recover from the craziness. Everybody does their job. Everybody ends the day happy, no matter what speed bumps we hopped over along the way.
What a not so ideal, sleep/food deprived dinner shift actually looks like:
Get in. Get busy. Get flustered. Boss-lady reads the signs and provokes you. “You have food dying in the window.” “You’re mumbling under your breath back in the server station.” “You’re walking too fast. You look like a spazz.” Yes, yes, yes. Thank you very fucking much. I know exactly what the fuck is going on. I know what I look like. Thanks for the status update, Captain Obvious. The busy period ends and I’m still going crazy because my boss decided to play devil’s-advocate the entire time, popping up behind doors and corners at the worst possible moment just to give me a play by play on everything I already know instead of jumping in to help fix the problem. My boss would make a terrible doctor.
“You’re bleeding internally.” … … “You’re still bleeding internally.”
She knows how to push my buttons. She knows just how to piss me off and exactly where to kick me while I’m down. My poor co-workers.
As much as I love to vent about work, the solution doesn’t lie with work. My boss is not the problem. If my boss weren’t there to poke and prod the very worst and most tender nerves, there might very well be something else to take her place and do the very same.
As within so without. Perception is everything.
I’ve been reading a paper by a Dr. John Deely. Dr. Deely’s field is semiotics, a word which means – basically – the study of signs and symbols and their uses and/or interpretations. In this paper, Dr. Deely uses an illustration of a wolf howling in the night. Now follow me here. The howl is just a howl, only a sound. Now if we introduce a sheep far off and another wolf far off in another direction, the howl means something. To the other wolf, the howl could be a mating call, a cry for help, what have you. But to the sheep, the howl is a symbol of danger.
Let’s think of boss-lady as the big bad wolf.
Perception is everything. As within so without.
Of course, getting more sleep might help. But ambition – it comes with a price -. I could eat more regularly like a responsible adult. I’ll work on that one. I could do a lot of things better, I’m sure. I’m sure some out there would say noticing the corrections to be made is the first step. I disagree. I think noticing corrections to be made is the outcome of the first step: watching.
Your mind is a house and you are the steward.
Anyone and anything that enters a house changes the atmosphere, the feng-shui, the social climate. A good steward is mindful of all that goes in and comes out. He/She keeps a watchful eye and maintains the atmosphere within the house, making sure the climate is appropriate for the present situation.
On mornings like today when I wake up sleep deprived and cranky, I notice. Not just by the weight in my body or the dry itchiness in my eyes, but by watching my body and my mind. When I’m in the shower and begin to notice that I’m already ruminating and imagining everything that could go wrong with the day or imagining a less-than-ideal conversation with someone I don’t like, I know to take a nap and get some grub. Immediately.
The key to being successful is simple: Know thyself.
Know what your bodily sensations mean. Read the signs and jump in to save the day. Know your thought patterns as an actor knows his/her cues. Be a good steward and keep the balance in the house you tend to.
How the hell are you supposed to pull that off?
Sit still and be observant. Just breathe and watch your mental and bodily activity as you would a T.V. show. Let your breath be the anchor of your attention, a place to come back to and recollect yourself. Within that calm, still, quiet place watch what happens within you. And then watch what happens outside of you on a day to day basis. You’ll start to see the connections. When the wolf howls, are you the sheep or another wolf, or are you a tree? Whatever you identify as within, that is the meaning you will find in the signs around you. Those meanings are the substance with which you construct the world around you.
Perception is everything. As within so without.
Don’t be afraid to let new things in, and don’t be afraid to evict some old tenants.