Reply All

Well, there’s no going back now. Laura and I have been non-stop ranting about Steve, our boss, via email and I’m not sure what was going through my head when I sent that last one, but I accidentally hit “Reply All,” and my uncensored rant just got sent to everyone in the office. It might just be sheer luck, but Steve isn’t a part of that “Reply All” group, so he won’t be aware of this happening unless someone tells him. But now the question is, what’s my next step? Do I send a follow-up email to apologize and rectify the situation? Is there a way to scrap the email and pretend like nothing even happened? I stare blankly at my computer screen and bite my lip. I take a deep breath and click “Reply All.” I guess the follow-up email is the way to go. Suddenly, a ding and a new response to my email appears. It’s from Teresa, just three cubicles away: I agree with everything you just said. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! I stand and peek over my cubicle. Teresa makes eye contact and smiles. As I refresh my email, more replies start coming in and agreeing with me.

I manage to let out a nervous laugh, in shock that everyone feels the way that I do. Why vent with just one person when we have a whole community that was waiting to do so? My original plan to sincerely apologize in a follow-up email gets tossed out the window. We have dealt with enough these past few years, and with no indication of change anytime soon, maybe finding this common ground with all my co-workers is the step that needs to be taken.

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Second Guessing

How does one go about a break up? I always used to wonder how one can look at past memories with a significant other and just wake up one day thinking, “This isn’t working out; it’s time to move on.” As sad as it is to say, I’ve always been the victim of situations like this, but this time, I find myself on the other side, and I’m a little lost. I’ve only had three relationships before this one, but I’m starting to understand that it’s more of a gradual feeling and thought process. For some, I’m sure breaking up is just an instant decision, but I’d like to think that someday, if I were to look at a past heartbreak, I could rest easy knowing that I gave each relationship my all. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier. It just seems so…abnormal to me. We finally gain enough confidence and trust in someone to be vulnerable, know each other’s quirks and pet peeves, only to have it all crushed in a matter of time. For some, all it takes is one, or in my case, five strikes until we realize that what we have right in front of us, just isn’t working out anymore. Because I’ve been on the other side, I want to approach this poignantly and with ease so there’s less awkward tension.

Suddenly, I feel my phone vibrate in my back pocket.

hey gabs, i’m so sorry to be doing this over text, but this just isn’t working out. i hope we can still be friends in the future. see ya around.

I stare blankly at the screen, unsure of how I should feel. Looks like we were both on the same page for once after all.

The Fortune Cookie Pt. 2

(Read part 1 here)

You have good reason to be self-confident. This fortune knows me a little too well. Almost all my life, self-confidence is the one thing I’ve always struggled with. I see Jackie roll her eyes after reading her fortune. “What does yours say?” I ask as I lean over to take a peek. The stock market will be your ticket to success. Wow, I wish I could’ve gotten that one.

Imagine if the fortunes we received in these cookies actually came true. I’d sure as hell welcome that idea. Based on mine, I’d finally muster up the courage to fully believe in myself. No longer would I feel the need to overthink every little decision. I also have a nasty habit of confusing arrogance with self-confidence, so rather than vocalizing creative opinions, I tend to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time. Being a photographer, this doesn’t help in the client game. I second-guess myself. A lot. And I absolutely hate that I do it. Lacking self-confidence only opens a portal to a web of negative thinking, and with that, comes a constant state of anxiety. I wish I had the tenacity to accept compliments, but instead, I dismiss them. Maybe I do this as a reminder to always express humility, but I know it comes off as insecure to some people. While it is a constant lesson I’m learning, my hope is that this fortune breathes that life into my thinking.

The Fortune Cookie

The stock market will be the ticket to your success. What does yours say?” I hear Demi ask as she leans over to take a peek at my fortune. “Ooo, the stock market, huh?” she says with a bright smile. I fold up the tidbit of “wisdom” and throw it on to my plate along with remnants of fried rice. Maybe it was all the wine I’ve had tonight, or maybe I’m just reading a little too much into it, but this fortune triggered something in me that I couldn’t quite explain. I think it’s a bit of both. I’m not angry about it; I mean, sure I would’ve preferred a fortune that told me that “everything would be okay” or something along those lines. But this little fortune cookie nearly put me in to a state of anxiety. Is this our reality? Is making money how we define success? Now I know I’m definitely drunk.

Maybe I was wired differently, but I never interpreted “success” as “having fame or fortune.” This is not to knock those who think wealth equals success, but I’d like to think that it’s one of those words that can mean so many things to different people. To me, I’ve always felt that the relationships we have with the people, or how we make others feel, would determine our success. It’s about being wealthy in ways that doesn’t include money. While having money does make life a hell of a lot easier, at the end of the day, it’s not what will be at the center of my universe.

I look at my family and closest friends gathered around the table beside me and smile knowing that this is all I’d ever need.

Break Point

Don’t choke don’t choke don’t choke. I twirl my tennis racquet around my fingertips, anticipating for the ball boy to toss me a ball. I attempt to calm my breath as I prepare for my first serve. 30-40. My heart rate quickens as I think about getting broken. If by chance I hold, which is highly unlikely because my serves have been shit today, I’ll only be one game away from winning the match. Overthinking has become problematic at a time like this.  I kick away a pebble that has somehow made its way on to the court and glance at my opponent continuing to remain in his zone. He may look focused, but deep down, we both know how nerve-wracking break points can be. The crowd is quiet; you can here a pin drop. A breeze passes by, allowing the sweat from my neck to dry. Out of habit, I bounce the ball against the pavement five times and take a deep breath. Time to try and win this match.

A Twisted Fantasy

It was the first time I killed a man. Eventually, we all reach our breaking point. In the ten years I’ve been at this joke of a company, this was my proudest accomplishment. Seeing him squirm in pain, unable to breathe put a smile on my face. Granted, this wasn’t what I had in mind. If it were up to me, I’d shove his disgusting hands into a paper shredder, staple his wandering eyes shut, cut off his dick with scissors, and watch him scream in agony, begging for me to help him. But I had to make it clean and look like an accident, so poison was the next best thing. Plus, I didn’t want his blood on my clothing–that would be a bitch to scrub out.

He was practically asking for it; the inappropriate advances, the groping, and the blatant disrespect for all lady employees–it was only a matter of time before one of us snapped. The worst part about it all? Being the CEO’s son, he knew he was being the ultimate douchebag. He took advantage of his authority because he had job security. As for the rest of us, if we gave off the smallest hint of reporting his behavior, we would be out the door faster than a bullet to his brain. There was no use talking, anyway; they wouldn’t believe “emotional” females over a successful businessman. Why not leave? Because we have kids to feed and bills to pay. The guy was an asshole, but I was still making enough to support my family.

“Earth to Kaitlyn!” a waving hand takes me out of my trance. There he was, standing in front of me with that creepy ass smile. “Are you going to get some work done today? Or perhaps just continue to stare at me lovingly?” He winks.

Ew. Unfortunately, Bryce dying a painful, slow death wasn’t my reality. One day, he will get a taste of karma, but for now, a twisted fantasy will have to do.

The Shadow-Self

I am your shadow-self. You like to pretend you don’t feel me orbiting around you daily, draining you of your energy, and thriving off your self-destruction. It’s just a matter of time until you finally admit it to yourself. You’re lost, and I am taking full advantage of that.

I see you every morning, looking at yourself in the mirror, attempting to tell yourself affirmations you don’t even fully believe. I hear every mantra you read aloud, but somehow I convince you to believe my truth. You trust me more than you trust yourself. You listen to me more than you listen to loved ones who know you best. I make you believe that being alone is what you need to rid of me for good, but it only makes me stronger. Before you know it, I will push you away from everyone who isn’t me, forcing you to dislike your every hobby, and you will finally be all mine.

Stranded

I needed to get away. It’s been a while since I flew, but just like riding a bike, once I sat in that pilot’s seat, it came back to me instantly. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, nor how long I would be gone, so I packed what felt like a month’s worth of bags and just went with wherever the wind took me. Four or five hours after take off, I found myself landing on the nearest island I could find. Knowing messages from loved ones would fly in, I sent a mass text to everyone I could think of saying I was fine and I’d be gone for a while, and turned off my phone.

Two weeks later, I’m still here. I know I have the choice to leave, but it’s too beautiful here.  A nearby waterfall provides me with fresh water daily, and I’ve even picked up fishing. Who knew being in the Boy Scouts throughout my youth would actually come in handy? Enjoying the sunrise and set, delicious seafood meals, the glistening blue water, and sound of waves crashing on to the shore with only myself to keep me company, is a newfound routine that I have already grown accustomed to.

Here, I can just forget about it all; forget about all the work I put in to my job only to have it go unappreciated; forget about paying bills I don’t want to pay; forget about how shitty adult life can really be. There’s a war going on inside my head. I know I should head back and be with my loved ones, but then again, I’ve always been the outsider. It’s why I’ve always avoided family get-togethers. It’s why I remained single for so long. Living alone on an island and fully embracing nature has been the best time of my life. Maybe this is where I’m meant to be.

A Weekend to Remember

My memory is a little fuzzy. As I attempt to sit up and reacquaint myself with my surroundings, I feel everything spinning around me. Toilet. Shower. Sink. I guess I slept on the bathroom floor last night. Given how much I drank, I’m not sure how I got home, nor how I managed to make it up the stairs and in to the bathroom without seriously injuring myself. With each burp, I taste the remnants of last night’s tequila. Shitty and cheap tequila with a name I didn’t even recognize, I might add. It tasted like sour apples, but I can’t fully complain because it did its job. My body isn’t giving me the option to throw up. Maybe I should’ve taken everyone’s advice and had that slice of pizza after all. Using the sink for support, I slowly stand up and hunch over. I look around for my phone to see what time it is, but it’s nowhere to be found. I know I look like shit, so I avoid looking at my reflection, stumble out of the bathroom, and make my way toward my bedroom.

Strange enough, my purse somehow made it to my bedroom before I did. Maybe I threw it in here and ran straight to the bathroom last night? Ugh, whatever. The bottom of my phone peeks out of my purse. At least now I know where my phone is. I decide against checking for messages and instead, sprawl out across my bed, trying not to feel everything at once. I’m sure someone repeatedly punched me in the head last night because I’ll admit, I get a little sloppy when I’m drunk. It wasn’t always like this, though. As the years have passed, I started to drink less. Nowadays, a glass or two of red wine watching The Bachelor is enough to make me tipsy. Last night was the first time in years I decided to revert back to my old college ways, and I am fully regretting it right now.

Originally, I planned to stay in and catch up on terrible reality TV, but my sister talked me in to what she calls a “treat yo self” night. She invited a couple of people, I invited a couple of people; needless to say, it was a great night. I was finally able to let loose again, and I didn’t realize how much I needed the release. I deeply exhale, silently thanking God that it is Sunday. I’ve got a full day to stay in bed, drink my fluids, and fully recover for tomorrow’s presentation at work. Melissa and I have been working nonstop on rebranding for the company. Everything has been riding on this rebrand; our jobs would officially be in jeopardy if corporate doesn’t like our ideas. In other words, the stress levels have been real, so I can’t feel too guilty for last night’s turn of events.

My phone obnoxiously rings, causing the pain from my headache to circulate through my entire body. Wanting to just turn my phone off for complete silence, I crawl out of bed and toward my purse. My blankets stick to me, as if they want me to stay in bed. I take a quick look at the caller ID. Why is Melissa calling?

“He-hello?” I burp, wincing at the faint taste of sour apple.

“Hello? Nat?” Melissa’s voice is almost a whisper. “Where the fuck are you?” I hear chattering in the background.

“What are you talking about? Where are you?” I rub my temples.

“You’re kidding, right? I’m at work! The presentation is today!” she fiercely replies.

“Um, it’s Sunday.” I roll my eyes. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go out the night before a huge presentation. But then again, I have been so busy lately that I might’ve lost track of what day it really is. I put her on speaker as I hurriedly take the phone away from my ear and glance at my calendar. “Fuuuuuuck!” I yell out, quickly throwing my blankets aside. “Girl…it’s Monday,” I hear Melissa say.

Eye Contact

Ah, there he is again, looking cute as usual. Those bright blue eyes are like swimming pools–I just want to dive right in. I first noticed him a few weeks ago when Elyse and I had our monthly best friend coffee date. Since then, I haven’t stopped seeing him, and I’m kinda glad that I’ve chosen this coffeeshop to get my writing done. Elyse has been trying to talk me in to making the first move, but I’m far too socially awkward around my own friends, let alone handsome strangers. I mean, if he were interested, he would come up to me, right? What the hell am I thinking? Guys aren’t interested in me–I’m always the friend-zoned type of girl. Is it some kind of vibe I give away? The dating world is so foreign to me; I’m almost thirty and have only been in one serious relationship. I shake my head in an attempt to refocus on the blank Word document in front of me. I have three articles due by Friday, and I’m not too keen on letting some boy distract me from work.

Suddenly, a stranger cyclones in, trying to squeeze in to the seat next to me and knocks over my coffee with her gigantic laptop bag. “Ooops, sorry,” she says in her fake, Valley girl tone. I was halfway expecting her to offer me a new cup of coffee, but instead, she follows up with, “I’ll get a worker to clean this up.” Being the non-confrontational person I am, I smile and reply, “Ok, thanks.” I throw the empty coffee cup away. It didn’t spill over my laptop, but it did get my feet. Talk about a bad day to wear flip flops. Before the stickiness sets in, I close my laptop shut and run to the bathroom, leaving my personal belongings out in the open. I know it’s a terrible habit, but as a frequent customer, I’d like to think the workers have my back.

When I return from the bathroom, a new cup of coffee awaits by my laptop. Thinking the workers hooked me up with a free drink, I walk up to the barista stand to thank them. “Oh, no problem. That guy over there actually told us your drink spilled,” one of the baristas replies. She nods in the direction of the cute blue-eyed guy. “He even knew your exact order,” she smiles as if she was trying to nudge me in to talking to him. Before walking back to my seat, I decide to take this turn of events as a sign and work up the courage to finally speak to the cute guy. As I make my way to him, he looks up from his work as if he knew I was approaching. We make eye contact yet again and he smiles. Oh, God, he’s got dimples, too. Blue eyes and dimples–both of which are my weakness.

“Hi, thanks for the coffee,” I say shyly. My words come out almost as a whisper. I tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear because I don’t know how to flirt.

“Oh, no problem.” He shrugs. “Least I could do; that girl didn’t even seem apologetic for knocking it over.”

“Yeah,” is all I could mutter. I look down at the ground and laugh nervously. Oh gosh, I can’t carry a conversation for shit. This is going terribly.

He lets out a small laugh. Maybe he’s the type of guy who finds awkwardness cute. “Y’know, I’ve actually been meaning to talk to you. Been seeing you around here a lot. I’m Nick by the way.” He holds his hand out.

I shake his hand firmly to show I’m somewhat confident. “I’m Christy,” I reply. “Yeah, I do come here a lot. Perks of being a writer, I guess.”

“Great meeting you, Christy. A writer, huh? That’s awesome. Maybe I should read some of your stuff sometime,” Nick says.

“Yeah, that’d be great,” I smile. The blenders drown out a moment of awkward silence between us. He takes a sip of his coffee and clears his throat. “Anyway, I wanted to talk to you because I was actually interested in your friend that came in with you a few weeks ago. Can you pass this along to her for me?” he smiles, flashing a little wink as he writes his number on a ripped piece of paper.

Well, shit.