Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Impressions

Did you know that the original title for Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" was "First Impressions?" What she chose was a bit more attention grabbing (although I think it leads people to believe it is much more scholarly than it actually is ;)), but what she passed up was actually a much more fitting title. I'm not sure how many of you have read the book, but the entire story is based around mistaken first impressions of people, and how they can majorly affect how we react to people and situations.

I know it's cliche to say that first impressions don't last, but I'm glad to say it's true. It's pretty funny to look back at the first impressions we've had with people and to look at our relationships now. My best friend from high school, Libby, is a great example for me. I thought she was soooo strange when I first met her. Now, I know what you're thinking, I know I'm strange too. So that says something about her weirdness ;) (I don't think she reads this...but if she does...she knows all this!) After I was dumped by my group of friends in favor of alcohol, Libby was there and she became my closest and most loyal friend. None of my close friends were people that I met and said, oh wow, we are definitely going to be friends for life. I don't mean that in a mean way. Maybe I'm just a bad judge of character at first. Lol.

The reason I bring this up is because we were talking in the cube today about what Phyllis thought of me when she first met me. Now, the following is pure heresay because I don't remember any of it. Apparently, I had contact with Phyllis twice before I actually remember meeting her for the first time. I don't remember which time came first, but once I was walking down the hall and didn't smile at her, and once I was the only one in the cube when she was getting a tour and I didn't even turn around. As a result, Phyllis was scared of me when she started working with me. I guess I came across as mean. Now, what I remember is looking up her picture, then coming in on her first day and finding her waiting by the front desk because the secretary couldn't get ahold of Amanda. Of course I offered a friendly smile and introduced myself, then told her she could come up with me. I had no idea she was internally cringing because I had to be the one to stumble upon her. Thankfully, I think we have overcome that first impression. Many times over. Haha.

Anyway, I could give a lot of examples that go both ways, bad first impressions that turned out well, or good first impressions that were completely off the mark. I just think it's funny to think about. Did you know your best friends were going to be your best friends when you met them? How about those of you that are married? Did you know you wanted to marry that person right away, or did they have to grow on you? Sometimes I wonder if I have already met my future husband, and wonder what I think about him now. (That was really confusing, but it totally made sense in my mind.) Or if I will know when I meet him if he's not already in my life.

Alright, so another introspective entry. Sorry, Phyllis! Gotta have 'em sometimes! Ooo, Star Trek is on...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Confessions (again)

I know that to most people, I am seen as generally a good person, an angel even. I mean, who can blame them? However, not wanting people to have the total wrong idea, I wanted get some things off my chest. You see, contrary to popular belief*, I'm not perfect. So the following are a few confessions that will give people a better idea of my real character.

- At the Taco John's we go to in Des Moines, I often take more ketchup packets than the sign allows. I like to keep a stockpile of them at the office.

- Sometimes I park in fifteen minute parking when I know I will be someplace for more than fifteen minutes.

- I judge people by their ringtones.

- I consistently drive at least three miles over the speed limit.

- I secretly believe I am a superior driver and everyone else drives stupid.

- One time when I was like four I stole a screw off the floor of a hardware shop. I put it in the little side zipper pocket of my boot. (My dad found out and made me return it)

- When I get my hair done, I like to make up stories when the hairdresser asks questions.

- If I get a willing partner, I like pretend I just met my friend and talk loud enough for those around us to hear. This works especially well in airplanes. Most recently I did this on the plane from Miami to Minneapolis. Angie and I pretended we just met, and I told her about how electricity just came to my town in Iowa and we were hoping for indoor plumbing next.

- I lie a lot. When people ask me how I am, I say "fine," even when I'm not. This happens several times a day. I also have a fear of confrontation, so often I lie by omission.**

- I pull pranks on people and then play innocent. Phyllis will be especially delighted that I am confessing to this one, as she is often the target.

- One time I broke a beautiful Easter egg my mom had and blamed it on the cat. I was overcome with guilt for the lie and confessed later on.

Phew. I think that's all I can handle divulging tonight. Don't think less of me...

*Yes, I realize that it isn't "popular belief" that I am perfect. Remember, I majored in sarcasm...
**This may be my most real confession. That isn't saying much.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reality: The Next Generation

Today I was having a conversation at work with my boss, Amanda, and she mentioned, as she has before, that I should have my own reality television show. Apparently I'm entertaining. Or it could be one of those things like when you can't look away from a car wreck. Or something. I think she first mentioned it when one of the wheels on my chair broke off, making my chair tipsy, and I decided to name my chair "Eileen." (Get it? "I lean?" Hahahahahaha, I slay me.) So anyway, I thought that in case any big producers are looking for the next big thing, I would give a little taste of what a day in the life of Rena might look like...

The scene opens as the sun streams through the slats of the window blinds onto a still figure. The room is beautiful and immaculate, and the woman in the bed sleeps peacefully, radiating beauty and warmth even in slumber. As the birds announce the beginning of another day, she stirs, opening her eyes and sitting up gracefully, arms reaching in a luxurious stretch. She catches sight of the cameras and gives a friendly smile, her straight white teeth glinting in the sunlight.

BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, so we're not in a Disney movie. Sorry, I'll start again.

In reality, it would probably start with me hiding under my comforter from the light. I would be flailed all over the bed, most likely with my feet hanging out (they don't like to be confined) and I might be drooling and snoring just a bit (but that's never been proven). The alarm goes off, and I reach frantically for it to hit snooze. Repeat four or five times, and I might suddenly sit up, my hair a rat's nest, and quickly put in my contacts as I realize I'm running late. Again. (Throw in some shots of the clock to illustrate this, it'll add suspense.) We'll skip the next part. No one needs to know THAT much about me.

Once I'm slightly awake, I turn on my "Morning Dance Party" CD (it does exist) and dance while getting ready to face the day. This CD includes the latest from Lady Gaga as well as old school songs like "California Love." This would be quite entertaining for viewers, as I'm almost certain I'm an abysmal dancer. I kind of flop around like I'm having an episode. No worries though, it's all in fun. Something quite interesting happens when it comes time to find something to wear. I tend to sit and stare at my clothes for long periods of time. Oh wait, did I say interesting? I meant boring. I have no idea where the time goes while I contemplate my outfits. Mostly I'm in my head. I suppose some of that would have to be narrated. Do I go for boring black? Do I try to do a theme? (My favorite theme outfit is my circle one.) Comfy? Warm? Wow, this show is going to be amazing.

Once I'm dressed, it's about the time I start talking. Now, of course I've been singing with the music, but this is the time when I start calling for my posessions. Oh hello, car keys. We're leaving soon. Mr. Microwave, what should I make for lunch today? CD player, stop skipping on my Jai Ho! And we're out the door, still singing, definitely still dancing. (It's really a good thing I don't see people in my hallway very often) (Who is we? Seriously??)

In the car, I talk to the other cars. I believe I have mentioned before that I don't talk to the people in the cars, but the cars themselves. This is between songs on the radio, of course, with which I am obligated to sing at the top of my lungs.

Work would be pretty entertaining. I work with a funny bunch. Maybe we should all have a show. We could call it "The Office." Wait. That's already taken? Okay, then we'll call it "The Cube." Awesome. Our conversations would be entertainment enough to fill an entire hour (yes, my show will be an hour), and that doesn't even include the quiet times peppered with me singing to myself or dancing in my chair or staring at Nicole (lol) or throwing objects at Phyllis. I mean...errr...Phyllis throwing things at me. That's right. That's how it goes. Or would go. If that really ever happened. Uhhh... (Hi Amanda! I'm dedicating this blog to you ;))

Cameras might follow me to my different towns and watch as I park in random parking lots, but that's not very exciting. And they definitely couldn't follow me on my sessions! Sheesh. Can't believe that was even up for discussion!

What else might you expect from my show? Well. When I'm by myself for long periods of time, the real craziness begins. In my head. Which is when I giggle randomly. Or roll my eyes. A camera might walk in to find me laying on the floor contemplating the ceiling or the carpet. Or stacking things. What things? I don't know. Just things. Or perhaps just standing in the middle of the room, having forgotten why I was there.

Earlier this evening I was trying to figure out if the digits in my phone number spelled out anything fun. Or anything at all. They don't. I was bummed.

What was I talking about? I got bored. Okay, so maybe the reality show isn't the greatest idea. But I would sure be entertained. And so would my friends. Because I have A LOT of friends. (That was just for you, Nicole!)

Um. I have no good ending for this. I hate when endings are abrupt, but I just

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happily Ever After...

I want to be Cinderella. No, really. I love Cinderella stories. I don't care if that puts me at a maturity level of a five year old. I don't think five year olds can really appreciate the complexity of the story of Cinderella. I feel like it's a timeless one, played out over and over again in books and movies. I own the Disney Cinderella movie, and well as "A Cinderella Story," "Another Cinderella Story," and "Ever After." Many other movies I own could probably fall into this category, even if they aren't sold to be Cinderella stories. It's fine. Laugh. It makes me happy. (Wow, I sound super defensive. Sorry!)

Anyway, I think for me there are several things that make Cinderella such a great story. First, I think that Cinderella is a character lots of people can relate to. I mean, who hasn't been teased and treated badly? Who hasn't wanted to make those people eat their words? (Now I sound all revengey...I don't really wish ill on people who have wronged me...too much...) But seriously, admit it, sometimes it would be nice to see those people with the "holier than thou" attitude get taken down a notch or two. For their own good, of course. ;)

Then of course there is the idea that even from humble beginnings, anything is possible. Cinderella went from losing both her parents and being turned into a servant and treated horribly by her stepmother and stepsisters to becoming a princess! How awesome is that? Dreams do come true!

My favorite part I think is the love story aspect. (Now I'm all romantical sounding...it's okay to gag) I love that with all the beautiful women, nicely dressed, wealthy, "bred" to be ladies, the prince still chooses Cinderella in the end. It doesn't matter to him what she looks like or where she comes from, because he loves who she is.

Now, I realize this is a very romanticized view of the story. I mean, Cinderella was dressed just like all the other women when the prince met her, and in all the movies the "Cinderella" character is always beautiful. Also, in most of the stories, the prince only spends but a few minutes with Cinderella, so in reality he couldn't possibly know he loves her. But I don't like to think about those things. I like happy endings, and I like to believe good things can happen to good people.

Do Cinderella stories really exist? I don't know. But if they do, I hope I get to play Cinderella.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Always low prices. Always.

I am not a fan of shopping in general. It overwhelms me. It makes me anxious. I have to spend money, and, worse, I have to make choices. I am quite indecisive. So that's why, when I need to shop, I head to Wal-Mart. It's my one-stop shop. Everything I need under one gigantic, flourescent-lit ceiling. Rows of groceries, racks of clothes, aisles of entertainment and toiletries. Even places to get your nails done, your hair cut, grab a quick meal, and then play some arcade games. Who could ask for anything more??

So of course when I pull into the Wal-Mart parking lot I'm super excited for my shopping adventure. Not because I like shopping, since I've already established that I abhor the whole practice, but because it's Wal-Mart. I wait for the teeny old lady to cross the crosswalk at a snail's pace, and then creep forward as people and carts spill in and out of the automatic doors...well, the one set that works. Cars playfully race in and out of the aisles of spots. I laugh at their antics as I slam on my brakes. I park next to the giant, rusted out, bumper stickered van and head inside. I smile at the small girl in pigtails, handing her daddy beer bottles to be exchanged for money at the can and bottle return machines. I greet the elderly women in the entrance and select a cart with as little rust and as many wheels as I can find. I take a deep breath and venture into the land of sweet and joy and joyness...oh wait, that's Candy Mountain...well, I go in anyway.

The cart I have chosen bumps and makes a loud noise as I push it into the store. It pulls to the left, almost taking out a small child. No worries, it'll be good for my arm muscles. I pretend I am in a movie, where the villian goes after innocent shoppers with a noisy shopping cart, but he's not a very good villian because of course the shoppers hear him coming. But it's still very scary. I decide to call it "The Chopping Cart Chronicles." Ooooo, creepy, right?? "Chopping Cart" hahaha I slay me...especially if I'm in the movie!!


I make my way across the store, weaving in and out of the groups of people who have stopped to chat or stare dazedly at the ceiling. I pick through the shampoo to find a bottle that isn't sticky, and shake the DVDs to make sure the disc hasn't dislodged and become scratched. I tap my toe patiently as the woman in front of the milk cooler attempts to shove more merchandise into her already overflowing cart. I attempt to find the least smushed loaf of bread, and lettuce with more green leaves than brown. I suppress my sigh at the carts parked across aisles as people stare in confusion at the wide variety of choices and attempt to make the best decision. I think tiny thoughts as the man in the motorized shopping cart attempts to squeeze between me and the post positioned in the center of the aisle.

Finally my list is complete and I am ready to check out. The lines are usually pretty busy, so I pick the closest one. Surprise! The next one over only has one customer, and the cart isn't very full. I quickly skip over. What? Price check? Okay...welll...that's fine. I unload my cart as the person in front of me searches for their checkbook. Who writes checks anymore? The cashier and then customer laugh over something. The price check comes through and the cashier finishes ringing up. The customer pays and leans up against the counter, engaging in a lengthy conversation with the cashier. My original line is now open, but all my merchandise is on this conveyor belt. Finally the customer bids his new friend farewell and I walk to the counter just as my cashier goes off duty. The new person, a high schooler it appears, comes on and takes several minutes to sign into their cash register. Finally she glances my way and says, "Hi, did you find everything okay?" I briefly wonder what would happen if I told her I didn't, but then smile and say, "Yup."

As I dodge cars in the parking lot, pushing my cart around the potholes, I think about my trip to the smiley face zone. I load up my trunk and grab the extra carts in the parking spaces I pass as I trek to the nearest cart corral, half a block away or so. What wonderful people. What excellent service. What low prices.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't forget your life jacket

A few weeks ago, I texted something to my sister and she responded with, "Sometimes I wish I could dive into your brain to see how it works." Oddly,enough, she isn't the only person to have ever expressed this sentiment. Truth be told, I'm not sure even I know how my brain works. Sometimes (lots of times) I get the feeling that I exist on a completely different wavelength from everyone else. And I really don't think it's a bad thing. I was reading my horoscope yesterday (no, I don't believe in astrology, but sometimes I get sucked into those silly Facebook apps and it was pretty much a one time thing) and was suprised to see a fairly accurate description of me. People think I'm a little strange, pretty quirky, very eccentric. (Eccentric is the word I prefer to use, others may have other ideas...Phyllis, stop it.) I happen to be very amused by me most of the time, and if I'm lucky I amuse others too. Sometimes in the "I'm shaking my head and patting you on the head" sort of way, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Anyway. In a similar fashion to that "25 Random Things About Me" fad that went around Facebook months ago, I am going to attempt to uncover some of the mysteries of my mind for others out there. This will be in no way comprehensive, since there is no way I can possibly type everything out and still get some cleaning done tonight, and also because I am continually learning new things about myself. I am trying to peer-pressure Phyllis into guest blogging in the near future with her views on my brain, since she apparently has MANY opinions. We'll see how that turns out. So. On with the show.

~I am very sarcastic. Not only do I speak in sarcasm, I also hear almost everything in a sarcastic tone. I believe this is why I have a hard time taking compliments. "Wow, you did a great job on that," turns into a snarky judgment. "You look nice today," makes me second-guess not only the outfit/hair I am sporting at the time, but also makes me think back to how I must look other days in order for someone to make that comparison. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it is.

~Let's get this out of the way right now. I think waaaaay too much. I read into everything, and actually have to talk myself down sometimes. Not literally "down" like I'm on the verge of doing something crazy, but I have to mentally beat down certain thoughts that keep popping up. What did she mean when she said that? Did I say the right thing with that client? Is she avoiding my call or is she really not home? Seriously, it's annoying. Different from hearing voices, because it's my own voice and I can control it, but just as distracting at times.

~I'm pretty sure in my chosen profession I have no idea what I'm doing. Don't tell my boss. (HI, Amanda!) If anyone reading this doesn't know, I'm a family therapist. I currently work with punk teenagers, and I actually sorta love it sometimes. Teenagers are hilarious. However, why on earth would a teenager listen to me? Let alone his parents, who have been raising this kid sometimes for almost as long as I've been alive. Yet somehow, change happens. One of my supervisors told me the other day that the result of therapy is 50% therapeutic alliance, 25% method, and 25% outside factors having nothing to do with the actual therapy. I guess if there's one thing I know I'm good at, it's connecting with my clients. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen and believe that they aren't bad kids/parents. The least I can give them is that.

~Even though I've chosen to be a therapist, I also want to be a writer and a book editor and a marine biologist and an ice skater and a photographer and I want to be in a band. Sometimes I wonder if I chose the safe route, if you can call an almost completely subjective profession the "safe route." I decide approximately monthly to change my career. However, I feel so stuck sometimes (by student loans, education, lack of opportunity) that it never seems realistic. I want to do something that takes me to exotic places, but I am terrified to leave my family, not to mention my comfort zone, behind. How can I want to be far away and stay here all at the same time? I have no idea. Thus far my opportunities remain where I am, so here I stay.

~I am a fiercely loyal friend. I also work very hard at keeping in touch with friends. This is one of those things I have to talk myself down about, because I tend to take it personally when friends don't keep in as close contact with me as I do them. I know (really I do!) that it isn't personal, and that my friends love me as much as I love them (maybe more, I am very loveable, after all), but man, when I don't hear from people for weeks/months it makes it hard! This is made worse by the fact that many of my closest friends live far away, so seeing them face to face isn't at option. Good thing I'm a phone person and a very persistent stalker;)

~As much as I love my friendships, and have several friends I am convinced will be in my life forever, I am terrified of committment of the romantic sort. I think I have reached the point in my life where two things have happened. Number 1, I have gotten hurt in the past. And seriously, that shouldn't even be an issue because most of the hurt was my own fault for not speaking up. Does that change me speaking up now? Of course not. I'm too scared. Number 2, I have gotten very comfortable with my life as it is. I'm not good with change, and even good change can be uncomfortable. Do I want to be married and have kids? Absolutely. Am I sometimes ridiculously jealous of my friends who are doing just that? I'm ashamed to say that I am. Not that I'm not ecstatically happy at the same time. It's a very strange dichotomy of emotions. It's going to take an awesome guy pursuing me to convince me the change is worth it...even though I already know it will be...it's okay, I still don't understand me...

~I talk to inanimate objects. No, I don't think they talk back (mostly), but when you live alone, it's hard not to strike up a conversation with the microwave. A couple weeks ago I was home for five and a half days straight with walking pneumonia. The time was fairly void of human contact. However, you'd be amazed at the conversations I had. I also talk to other cars while driving. Not to their drivers, to the cars themselves. I used to have some major road rage issues. Now it's more road annoyance. I mean, really, a car should have its lights on if the fog is so thick you can't see five feet in front of you, right? I thought so. Silly cars.

~I constantly make up stories in my head to keep myself entertained. Anyone can star in them. Sometimes it's people I know, sometimes it's people I've heard of, and sometimes the characters are completely made up. Some of these stories have the potential to turn into novels, but I need to finish the two I'm working on before moving on to any of my other ideas.

~I have the strangest/funniest dreams. And I almost always remember them. One of my all time favorites is the one where I was a green M&M in the M&M army and they didn't know I was a spy who was planning to eat them all. I recently had a dream in which I was dating Evan Lysacek, Olympic gold medal figure skater. I also dreamed my friend Libby was a cat and her mom set her tail on fire, and that my best friend's brother could sing like Josh Groban. Sometimes I adapt my dreams into the stories/daydreams I use to entertain myself. Amazing how fast car trips go with these stories!

~I get bored very easily. I often have to be doing three things at once to keep part of my brain from falling asleep. (Although you would be proud because right now the TV is muted and I'm not even chatting with anyone, so this blog has my entire focus...probably why it's getting so long!) You'd think that a short attention span would not be conducive to being a therapist, but it's amazing how I can focus in during those times when it's really important. It also explains why I want to be a play therapist instead of doing talk therapy forever. And why I enjoy the skill teaching part of therapy because I can play games with the family. Also, I like sparkly things. I have recently been very distracted in staffing due to the sparkle of a new engagement ring on a coworker's finger. Seriously, it's bad sometimes, like I will be completely out of it, completely lost in the sparkles, and have no idea what's going on. That degree of distractedness does not occur very often, but I can lose minutes this way. Phyllis has a pair of sparkly sandals she wears when the weather is warm that I love to stare at. Good thing she doesn't put her feet on the table during meetings.

~I am still awed by things that should by now be mundane. Every time it snows, I sit at the window and watch the flakes come down. Same with rain. I appreciate every sunny day, and the birds singing when I wake up. When I am by a large body of water, I can sit and stare at the movement of the waves for hours. Every time I walk outside when it's dark out, I look up, and if the sky is clear I stand in amazement and stare at the stars, which never fail to take my breath away. That's the thing I miss about living in the country. I love visiting my brother because the stars are so bright and beautiful. I even enjoy the sight of the gold-domed Captiol building I see every day on my drive to work. I'm almost paralyzed when I get places like the mountains, because the beauty overwhelms me. I fully appreciate every aspect of God's beautiful creation, and often feel as if I'm seeing it for the first time.

~I think things like squirrels and pirates and sporks are funny. I like to twist people's words (all in fun) until they are flustered with trying to get their meaning across. I can be having a conversation and suddenly be on a topic about 5000 miles from where we started. I could trace the train of thought, but it would take too long and probably wouldn't make any sense to anyone else. I always have good reasons for the things I do and say, but usually they just come across as bizarre. And I think usually people appreciate the bizarre. I also know when to be serious, but sometimes I say things I mean seriously as a joke, hoping people won't take them seriously.

~The last paragraph was a whole bunch of different things all in one. I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting something I wanted to put in here, but I feel as if it's gotten long enough.

So yeah. I may add more as time goes on, in different posts. Clearly this is just a small part of what makes me, me, but hopefully you got just a glimpse into my inner workings. Any deeper and you might just never recover ;)