Tag Archives: Challenge

The Wild Horses

Feral_stallions_fighting-_Pryor_Mountain_Wild_Horse_Range_-_MontanaI knew I’d blown the interview as soon as I’d said it. My prospective employer asked about my biggest challenges, to which I replied that a therapist once told me my personality at work was like wild horses that needed to be harnessed and brought into line together. I watched as the interviewer blanched and slightly recoiled from me across the table.

Was it my cavalier mention of therapy? My direct and rigorously honest self-assessment? Or was it the image of my wild horses running amok in her shop? Well, I gotta be me, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my career, trying to hide or downplay my outrageous personality doesn’t work. Stuffing leads to resentment, which leads to hostility and acting out, followed by righteous resignation. No, it’s much better for anyone considering hiring me to know upfront who they’re getting–a dynamic, driven, ambitious, outspoken and high-maintenance individual who will work like, well, a team of draft horses for the right boss. The wrong boss, however, can expect to be trampled by the herd. Continue reading

Exploring The Borderline, Pt. 2

ceramic_280Continued from Tuesday…

I met him at a time my friend group was at a low number, having moved back to my hometown after years away. I’d not left home with many friends, and those few did not remain when I returned. I was seeking friends, and a lifestyle that conformed to the way I felt the back half of my 20s should look–parties, going out, popularity among groups. He was cool, an icon of hip bachelorhood in the social circles in which he moved. He was legendary–people spoke his name as though it was a state of being or personality type. Because of his reputation I expected him to be unapproachable and coolly removed. Instead, he was friendly and engaging right back at me, and I was attracted to his twinkling eyes and ready smile. It turned out we were both interested in music, and liked a lot of the same bands, and so making that first invitation, to hit a show together, was easy and obvious. Continue reading

Public Life In The Parks

20160813_133957I visited Carlsbad Caverns over an August weekend, and there’s nothing like exploring our National Parks system for instilling a sense of wonder, history and gratitude. Just when I think we’ve destroyed all of nature, that we’ve polluted the entire world, slashed and burned and dumped and drilled the environment into oblivion, I get outside and see we haven’t quite. Not quite yet. Which makes me realize that for my strong identification as an urbanite–Manhattan being my spiritual home, the place I feel most alive and centered–I need to sense the natural world. I crave the astonishing beauty of Mother Nature, and the feeling of integration with the environment, my place in it, and the humility it brings. I feel so connected and astonished and shriek! Tommy, stop that right now! Shriek! Well, nothing ruins a moment in the park like people who don’t know how to act in public.  Continue reading

Anti-Ennui Measures

2016-08-08 11.26.34Boredom is my greatest foe, sneaking up and overpowering me, trapping me, pinning me down. Once it has a hold on me, it’s nearly impossible to shake loose, inertia setting in. What do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do? I’m bored. If I don’t get up, get out and do something, I won’t. And if I stay trapped too long, it’s only a matter of time before I slide down that slippery slope to depression, ass first. And once I’m down there, forget it. Anhedonia rules the day, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to get interested again. So I have to stay on guard. Continue reading

There’s Not Even Anything Here For The Buzzards To Pick Clean

20160424_163805It was a desperate, confusing time. I’d hitched my wagon to a star, uprooted my life to chase my dreams back to my hometown. I had seen a shimmering (if rain-soaked) post-graduate school future of career fulfillment, rich sociability, fascinating interests, and wealth (of course). I saw this vision with such clarity I believed all I had to do was go home and the pieces would fall into place. In fact, I remember journaling something along the lines of “this new life is something I feel I can just relax into”, so certain was my hope.

The brilliant sunlight glinting off the Columbia River, the water teeming with people recreating, the golden plains stretching to the horizon seemed to foreshadow the bright future that lay ahead as my boyfriend and I drove west on I-90. We were going home.

Just a couple of hours later the shade of the Cascade Mountains enveloped us as we curved our way through Snoqualmie Pass. We drove across the bottom of a tunnel of Evergreen trees, dense and dark. A deep sense of dread began to spread through me, disguising itself as a stomach ache. I was so out of touch with my feelings in those days, the emotional usually expressed itself physically. I felt off. The glory of my triumphant return home was draining out of me and soon I was on edge. Had I been able to peer into the future at that moment I would have insisted we turn the car right back around for Arizona. Continue reading

We’ll Flip You

2016-07-21 09.04.12My buddy Sam and I have this thing where we like to flip people’s attitudes from negative to positive in our attempts to usher society into the high vibe era. It’s become a game, really, and we enjoy sharing our success stories with each other. The tougher the nut, the more satisfying the crack. When we worked in the dress department at Nordstrom together and one of us had a difficult customer, we’d rub our hands together in anticipation, knowing the tough customer was totally screwed, about to be reduced to a puddle of vulnerability by our manipulative kindness. You see, people want to be seen, and validated, and told where the boundaries are. Sam and I inherently understand this, and use these truths to make the worst act their best. It’s fun for us. Continue reading

The Positivity Committee

facebook_1468681560021Nicki and I ran the back office of the organization, but our shared work station was situated in the front office. We were a crew of 25 crammed into 3,000 square feet on one level, pretty much working at bunk desks and feeling like sardines in a can. While the others had cubicles (though tight) or offices (though shared), we worked at a ramshackle amalgam of used particle board and dusty padded fabric that had been dropped in the middle of the building lobby. If Nicki backed her chair out too fast, she ran the risk of slamming into my legs, positioned four feet away at my stand-up desk. If I leaned too hard on my computer platform, the whole works creaked and threatened to collapse. We each faced a building entrance, and all day long visitors and colleagues streamed through the doors, constantly interrupting and disrupting our space. Our work station sucked, and we had the worst of a bad situation. Yet we were consistently the most positive people on staff. We chose to own that public space and create a welcoming, friendly, upbeat vibe we hoped would radiate through the office and change the culture. We called ourselves “The Positivity Committee” and formalized our program through targeted, strategic acts of kindness. Continue reading

Have You Ever Heard Of Sex Discrimination, Sir? Part 1

md solo

I didn’t know what had coalesced in my unfolding adolescent sense of self in the summer of 1972 when I subverted gender-segregated work roles at a suburban Atlanta McDonald’s franchise. I hadn’t intended to when I looked in the eye of my shift manager and declared, “Have you ever heard of sex discrimination?” He had denied my request for a lateral move from my front-of-the-store counter service assignment to the male-exclusive crew on the cooking grill. At age 17, my freshman year of college under my belt and working the summer in a collective of temporary teenage hires, I had recognized a female ghetto when I was in one: girls worked the counter, boys worked the grill. Girls served the customers and boys cooked the meat. And I wanted to work the grill. Continue reading

Blow Up. Pick Apart. Actually, Don’t.

2016-07-11 12.13.53Why is it that any time I take a photo, or see a photo in which I’ve been tagged, my first move is to blow up my face for personal scrutiny. In the old days I would have to be satisfied with holding the physical photo closer to my face, but with the dawn of digital cameras, I had the ability to isolate my image and zoom in. With social media and cell phone cameras, it’s even easier. Even easier to capture what may have been a lovely moment in time and turn it into a moment of intense self-criticism. Continue reading

Sex Ed Fail, Revisited

sex iwI had a chance to catch up with the subject of this interview, whose life has changed rather dramatically since this piece was first published in January 2015. Revisit her story about being barred access to sex ed in school by her parents, and check back Thursday for a new interview about her sexual awakening.

“I was one of those kids you wrote about,” she commented, after reading about the pregnant virgin I counseled at Planned Parenthood, “and you probably want to interview me for your blog.” I leapt at the opportunity she was offering to capture a first-person narrative about the experience of being opted out of school sex ed and how it affects adult sexuality. Continue reading