I have learned a lot in the past 3 years. I’ve taken a risk and gotten VSG surgery, I’ve tried to open a restaurant, failed, and lived through it…
Now I’m tired. Tired to the bone.
I think I’ve reached the time for me to unload some of the angst, anger, frustration and disappointment of the last year and a half. Then maybe unpack some lessons learned.
First of all, let’s go back to the VSG in 2016. THAT was one of the best decisions I’ve EVER made. Nick was working, we had the money, it was ALL GOOD. I’m happy with that move and I’d do it again. Even losing my trusty 1994 Honda Civic EX in 2017 turned out OK, for which I am grateful.
Now let’s move to the end of Nick’s job (Dec 2017) and where we were then.
Nick was making a very good living at NuVision after 20+ years. At the end, he was making $75k. We knew months in advance that the shop was closing – they were down to their last client (Rite Aid), which had been bought by Walgreens. When that shot clock started in mid 2017, we decided to see if we could perhaps roll our existing arcade business into a bigger, more lucrative concept: arcade pub.
We knew we didn’t have the money to start up something like this, so we asked one of Nick’s bosses if he might be interested in investing since NVG was closing, etc. He already owns a bar in Memphis, so we thought he might be amenable. He said he might, so I got to work on a business plan and projections. We had a coupla meetings and he seemed interested, but then he ultimately said no. We think it was actually his WIFE that said no. LOL
There are some things that I’ve learned over my 52 years of living. The main thing I’ve learned, above all else is:
Change is the only constant; roll with it and keep moving.
This pretty much covers it. I had a long winded post all thought up, but really, it boils down to this one statement. Change is constant. Fighting it is a recipe for unhappiness. I’ve seen it 1000 times.
And here’s the long winded post anyway! ;)
So many times I’ve counseled friends who are miserable, feeling stuck, convinced that nothing will ever change, with this advice: CHANGE YOUR MIND.
I think that people who do the same things for years, running the exact same scenarios but with different players, are people who underestimate the power of their minds and allow fear to squelch their intent. If you want to do something else, then change your mind and DO IT. Banish that soul sucking fear – learn to ignore it! No one can change your mind for you. You have to do it yourself. No amount of counseling will help you change your own mind to achieve your intent. I’ve spent so much of my time over the years repeating this mantra. It is the truth!
If you want to change your life, change your MIND.
I swear it! I’m not immune to getting stuck. Trust me, my 40s were all about it. I’d done pretty well in my 20s and 30s with changing my life and doing new things, but the 40s tanked. What changed all that? MY MIND, that’s what. At the age of 50, I decided I was done with being fat and being stuck. I got VSG. It changed EVERYTHING. Yes, it was a HUGE thing, but that’s what it took to shake me (and Nick, too) out of our torpor. Sometimes you’ve got to GO BIG. For us, we usually have to GO BIG for it to kick us in the ass. [See: pub scheme]
Sometimes random quotes stick with me:
“You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.” – Neil Gaiman, Preludes & Nocturnes
“No fate but what we make.” – Sarah Connor, Terminator 2
“If you believe in fate, believe in it, a least, for your good.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Habits change into character.” – Ovid
“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have trying to change others.” – Arnold Glasow
That last one is one that I have to remind myself of often. I want so much to help friends out of their particular self made tortures, but alas, I cannot. All I can do is keep repeating the mantra: CHANGE YOUR MIND. And entreat them to use their stubbornness to their benefit (CHANGE) rather than to fight to keep things the same. I see people use all their strength to remain in the exact same state they have been in for as long as I’ve known them. It’s not unique, no, I have many friends who are exactly where they were when I met them 15 years ago. It pains me. I want them to MOVE FORWARD. But I can’t make them move forward, can I?
I think it’s hard for people to realise that life is all about trajectory. It’s not a smooth straight line, hells no, it’s a jagged thing filled with false starts, U turns, backtracks and other jackassery. BUT as long as it is still going forward, I call it good. So what if you try something and it doesn’t work? So what if you see something shiny and it turns out to be just the glimmer of a bad idea? SO WHAT? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
You’ve got a lifetime. USE IT. Don’t sit on the same goddam sinking ship, rearranging deck chairs! JUMP THAT SHIP!
CHANGE YOUR MIND. Stop fighting change – use it to your advantage.
The rest will follow.
*Don’t believe me? Just WATCH as Nick and I open a pub. WATCH. We decided that is our hill to conquer and we’re going to DO it. Are we ready? Nope. Do we have enough money? Nope. But we have faith in ourselves to figure it the fuck out. If it fails? Welp, we’ll find another battle. We won’t die. We’ll pick up the pieces and move forward. Like we’ve done before. WATCH US. We live by these tenets. Every day. It’s taken us 20 years to get our shit straight, so it is not instant, no, but by the gods, it’s worth it. Just watch and see.
NB: This is a general post, not directed at any one person. It’s directed at the MANY persons I know who are stuck, afraid, mired in their dramas. I love you all. Your journey is your own. This is just MY PERSONAL writ of intent. I try very hard to live by these tenets. You do you. I’ll help you if I can. <3
Can’t believe it’s been four years already! Wow! So many changes!
We’ve acclimated to life surrounded by old white T***p supporters and hillbillies. They keep to themselves for the most part. After much bitching and passive aggressive note leaving, the assholes behind us have ceased having their goddam lawn service come at 7am on Sundays and the next door neighbors don’t let their yappy dogs out at the crack of dawn. Victory!
The drive to Decatur and other civilised parts of Dekalb has become normal. We actually do a lot of our main shopping and entertainment in Duluth. Costco, Jusgo Chinese market, Big Lots, Studio Movie Grill and Ollie’s are all clustered on Venture Drive, so we go there for gas, movies and shopping. Even though it’s more of a drive, everything is together so it’s convenient to make one trip rather than several to Decatur.
I had the VSG surgery in 2016. Life changer, that. SO GLAD I did it!
We lost Rhonda Honda last year at Heroes (2017) and got Romeo one year ago almost to the day. I still miss Rhonda occasionally, but Romeo is very fun to drive and I love him.
Nick’s job ended December 2017. While traumatic, we’ve done OK. My brief stint at Krobar helped with expenses and paired with the $4300 unemployment, got us through six months without touching savings. The fact that $4300 is the TOTAL of unemployment you get after paying in for 20+ years is disgusting. Truly disgusting.
Player One Arcade Services is over three years old and we are pursuing Player One Arcade Pub. It’s a frustrating battle to find a location, but all our money is in place, we just gotta FIND A LOCATION. Between flakey landlords and flakier real estate people, it’s slow going. But now, in July, we are running up the credit cards and starting to get into our savings. We really need to get started! We can’t pull any money from the account until the business is going and we can’t even pay ourselves until it is OPEN. Clock is ticking. We are stressed out.
I guess that covers the highlights of the last four years here in Tucker. 2018 has been the year of the pub and it has been our consuming goal. There was a girl at the Krobar that said she felt the pub wouldn’t get started until fall…Looks like she was right after all. Sigh. 2018 is an 11 year, so I’m hoping my lucky number will pull through for us. If we don’t get started soon, we’ll have to find jobs again. Which will suck. Kroger sucked balls. UGH. Pray to your gods for us. We really need to get the pub going, y’all. And: thanks for all your support! WE SEE YOU. <3
I read a good bit – not as much as I should, but more than most people. I’ve read twenty seven books this year! (list here) I picked up the latest Amy Tan book Where the Past Begins at Costco a couple of months ago and just started reading it. It is another of her memoirs, but this one is very free form.
So, I’m reading this book about Amy’s life and her relationship with music in particular. She tells of when she was a child and her mother forced her (and her brother) to take piano lessons. I, too, took piano lessons and was terrible at it because I hate to practice and never would. She writes about the 15 years of piano she took and her hatred of the whole process. (I concur.) She writes of a recital she had when she was just beginning piano lessons. She was to play a Bach piece (Minuet in G Minor) and she failed to play the whole piece – her fingers got mixed up and she just couldn’t play the piece. In reality, this incident was not such a big deal; kids screw up recitals all the time. But it turned into a HUGE deal for her. It ruined her desire to play piano and it affected her for 50 years into the future.
While she was writing this memoir, she was digging through her family’s piles of history: notes, letters, photos, belongings. The detritus of family history that ends up in boxes. She found the sheet music of her “nemesis”, the Bach Minuet in G Minor in a box and recalled that dreadful recital. So she went to her piano and tried to play it. First, she was astonished that a young child was expected to play such an advanced piece. Then, as she played it, she found herself stuck, again, in the exact same spot as she’d been stuck decades ago at that recital. Her fingering was wrong and the piece simply cannot be played unless the fingering is correct. She hammered on that piece until 2am, until she finally got it right.
During the hours she was killing herself over this piece of music that had haunted her for decades, she realised that THIS INCIDENT had echoed throughout her life. She says:
“They [the notes she was stuck on] contained so many emotions; the reason I had hated public performance for many years; the reason I hate being forced into any kind of competition; the reason that I play the piano only when I am alone. The reason why I hate to this day any kind of expectation placed on me, including those having to do with books I am writing. My stomach lurches at the thought of public scrutiny whether expectations were met.” -Amy Tan from Where the Past Begins
Oh, man, does this hit close to home for me. I immediately remembered times in my youth where I publicly failed and it has stayed with me, too. In the exact same way. It also made me a perfectionist and it made me an information junkie: I like to know the truth, not just what someone says about it.
When I took piano lessons, of course there was a recital and I did poorly. I didn’t take lessons for long, but I quit soon after that recital. Another time, around 2nd or 3rd grade, I entered a spelling bee. It seemed like a no brainer since I was a walking dictionary! I was so nervous that I missed the first (very easy) word: ammonia. I knew good and well how to spell it, yet when I spoke, I said a-m-o-n-i-a. No idea why I did that. But this set the stage for my fear of failure. Oddly, I’ve never been shy in front of groups – hell, public speaking class was my favourite in college!! I’ve been known to jump onstage and sing with bands! I adore karaoke!
BUT, you put me in a situation where expectations are put on me and I could be held to public scrutiny and I balk every time, audience or no audience. I also detest competition of any sort. I am ambitious, but not competitive. I will crush you like sparrow egg, but not in a direct way.
Anyway, this is a little glimpse into what makes me the person I am today. I’d never really thought much about the piano recital or the spelling bee, but when I read Amy Tan’s words, it was a VERY bright light going off in my brain. I’ve often wondered why I’m so averse to competition…now I have insight into that.
I also know where my family gets the belief that I never finish anything. They saw these failures and rather than set me up to get past them, they reinforced them over the years. When I wanted to go off to college, my family was against it. They thought it was “stupid” and a “waste of time”. They didn’t want to help me with the costs – but they did help some, while complaining. I found out that my father had started a pool to see how long I’d stay in school – since I never finished anything in his mind. Finding that out HURT. But this is how my family works: once an opinion is formed, that’s it. It’s done. Everything is set in stone with them, which is why they are miserable, unhappy people who literally do the same things every single day/week/month/year/decade and can’t figure out why nothing changes. Due to their lack of encouragement and downright cockblocking my desire to get an education, I’ve carried lots of baggage about what I can achieve.
So, you parents out there, HEAR THIS:
Let your kids fail, but then teach them to get back up and try again. There is NO SHAME in failure. It is just something that happens sometimes. If you never try, you’ll never fail and if you never fail, you’ll never move forward.
My brother was never allowed to fail. He has been propped up by the family his whole life. He let go of his dream of being a trauma nurse long ago, because June and Rick demanded that he get into the family business. So he did, without question. He has never had a relationship, or a job outside the family, or lived outside the family. He has never failed. And his life is a depressing mess.
I have ZERO regrets. I don’t regret leaving the family or anything that has led me to where I am now. Every failure has brought me to this point. I’ve lived a life that has underutilized my abilities at times, but I still feel accomplished in many ways. I got an education. I left the backwater of E TN. I’ve learned so much about so many things, it’s astonishing. I am a fully realised person because of every failure and every set back. I’ve seen people who glide through life without any challenges and they always seem…I dunno…incomplete, somehow. Like they don’t really get it. And they don’t. It’s the struggles that make you stronger. It’s the challenges that bring out your grit. And that’s the stuff of success: GRIT.
So, thank you Amy Tan, for hitting that neuron this morning. It has given me new insights into myself and I feel energized by the realisations. Now, all y’all GO FORTH and CONQUER your fears! Live life without regrets! LIVE!