22 July 2008

(Maybe) Take a Chance

For the past week and a half, I’ve been trying to win Medieval Faire tickets from Star 104. I thought my odds were pretty good: I programmed Star into speed dial, listened keenly for the “touchtones” that sound at a superhuman speed between similarly-toned songs, and figured I was one of just a few Erieites eager to partake in a Renaissance-themed festival an hour’s drive away.

I thought wrong. Even though I sat in my car for almost an hour…not driving, used my cell and the work phone simultaneously (Visual: me in a purple apron, cell phone on my left ear, portable on my right, facing the stereo at work, completely in the zone. Audio: Busy Signal), and prepared my phone for dialing near the end of every song just in case, I didn’t win.

You’d think I’d be fed up with this radio giveaway rubbish, and I fully am, but surprisingly, I’m equally compelled to call in whenever I hear those touchtones. I don’t even care what the prize is anymore. Maybe it’s the thrill and ambiguity and objectivity of this chance game. I guess it’s like slot machines or scratch-out lotto tickets. I’m powerless when it comes to knowing how to be the 14th caller. But, so is everyone else.

It’s interesting to think about actively trying to pursue good luck, about putting forth the time, effort, and money towards what I know I won’t be able to control. There are no skills involved, no requisites. There’s no right technique, just chance. Because of that, you’d think I’d put equal amounts of hope and hopelessness into every call. But for some reason, I anticipate the win. Maybe that’s why PA spent $3.089 billion on lotto games last year, why the new casino in Erie is flourishing, why we pay to play those stupid carnival games, why I can never get through after hearing the touchtones.

I don't want to put too much hope in chance, get too caught up in the possibility of winning, get too distracted, even consumed by it because it's out of not just mine but everyone's hands. Even if my failed Medieval touchtones seem trivial, I don't think the lesson in them is. Yeah, I always have as good of a shot as anyone. But when I let that shot become more than just a shot, I let it affect how I spend my time and money--things that are in my hands, things I can control.

I shouldn't constantly buy lotto tickets just because I haven't won yet. I shouldn't make it a habit to linger by the stereo at work, wasting time, near the end of each pop song. Instead, I should enjoy the thrill of chance--contests, bonuses, scratch-off winnings, a 4-pack pass to the Medieval Faire + admisison to Jack Calico's Feast--but also recognize when I don't have the time or money to do so. I shouldn't not try every now and again; I shouldn't not embrace chance when I can, but I shouldn't let it hamper the life I already live without it either.

20 July 2008


Is it unusual to always (twice a day at most, of course) see your birthday date flash on the clock? For the past week now, I have looked at the clock at exactly 10:27 at least once if not both times a day. At first, it was kind of neat. Now, I’m not even fazed and actually sort of peeved when it happens. It’d be different if it was some mysterious number with which I had no apparent association. Like, 4:29. Or 11:01. Then it might be fun. I would start playing the lotto. I would see what letters corresponded with each number in the alphabet… Like, D:BI. Or K:A. Maybe rearrange them. BID! Then I’d get to figure out what I was supposed to bid on. I would ask my parents if 4/29 had any significance in our family, get to uncover some intriguing piece of history. But, no. I see 10:27 daily, and instantly think My Birthday, My Birthday, oh look, My Birthday again.

When the first thing I can think to write about involves digits on a clock and how often I see them, it’s easy to say there’s not much new going on. Luckily, the head baker’s back at work, and I can rest a little. It’s good to have her back. It got kind of lonely, a tad eerie even, by myself there. *cue Celine Dion singing "All By Myself."* The ice machine would go off at least three times late at night while I was working. It sounded like someone was wheeling a squeaky cart around. I jerked my head every time and peered out from my baker’s door to where people sort the fresh produce all day.

Mostly, I listened to two cds Bobbi left: Supertramp and The BeeGees. Every now and again, I flipped to FM and boogied to pop music. I hid behind the proofer a few mornings in a row (when other workers were there picking through raspberries) trying to win the free massages Star 104 kept giving away. My back was so sore at this point, and a spa massage sounded so glorious. Despite my high-speed redialing, I didn’t win.

The only thing really new in my life is my recent spat with dad. He wanted me to ride with him in “Roar on the Shore.” They predicted 3-5000 cyclists would be riding in this parade. I can’t stand the noise that emanates from one motorcycle. I am not a biker fanatic. I don’t know any of dad’s biker “pack” he was leading from the nearby Country Fair. I arrange flowers, make cards, and like Disney Princess things. So, for probably the first time in my life, I was honest with him about why I didn’t want to go. It just wasn’t my thing, I tried to say as kindly as I could. But, as expected, he got upset and ended the phone conversation on a sour note.

It would have been a lot easier if I lied about why I wasn’t going, but I didn’t. I think sometimes I just have to do things that might not please everyone around me, but they are things that won’t have me feeling guilty or insincere in the long run. Honesty can be murky, but it’s essential when I think about authentic living, about my relationship with the world around me that deserves my sincerity, no matter how trying or disappointing it is at times.

Well, I already saw 10:27 twice today, so I guess I can head off safely. Maybe the trick is going to bed before 10:27, and rising after. I’ll have to try that tomorrow.

08 July 2008

Mid-Summer Grumbles

Two years ago, I graduated from high school. A few bob haircuts, more than a few essays, and 7 lbs later, I’m still enjoying the comforts of my plum-carpeted room with pink pull-down blinds and stuffed animals everywhere. All it is is clutter, but it’s so familiar and right. At the same time, I’ve moved on from it because I don’t miss the muddle when I’m at school. I create my own again. I don’t miss sitting at this desk—I’ve actually grown more accustomed to corners of clinical computer labs at college. I have been living out of this room for over fourteen years (mom and I moved from dad’s when I was 6), and it feels weird to miss a place I’ve only been part of for 2 years now.

I think I miss the novelty of splitting a room, walking in my “home” with shoes kept on, strolling only a few feet in red fuzzy slippers to visit close friends. I always thought I loved having my space, and I do, but there’s something so unique and irreplaceable about living in a community with people my age.

And it’s funny how impermanent this is. Every year, I realize moving in is only a temporary adjustment. Maybe I miss it because I’m not used to temporary, if that makes sense; I’m used to the plum carpet, pink shades, and Disney paraphernalia scattered all around. I think change for me, the anticipation of change, can actually be more comforting at times.

It’s scary I only have two years to go, but it’s exciting that these next two years will be packed with change. I’ll be living in a city, RA-ing, delving into studies I love, and who knows what else.

Right now, my days just go so fast, working two jobs, getting little sleep. Is it bad to dread routines? The jobs themselves are wonderful, but the idea of my days’ uniformity agitates me. I want to write more, read more, enjoy the outdoors more, unscheduled. This week I’m working full time and a half, so all of these musings might be a direct product of baggy eyes, a sore spine, and practically zero minutes spent with people outside of work. But, I suppose this is something new for me, a change no doubt, so maybe I need to embrace it just as I’ll embrace the new semester ahead of me. And, maybe I need to get ready for work now…