Ready, Set, Ready

I want to move forward with my life. I’m lingering. I’m stuck in one spot.

It seems that 6 months is the limit I keep approaching living in one place. I want to move, to start something new. It is annoying that I never want to be where I am in the moment, but always somewhere else. I am a wanderer, a journeyman, a factotum.

If moving was not so difficult, I would honestly do it a lot more. I live in a small two-bedroom place now, by myself. There is so much I have brought here from home or purchased while in Chicago, that it would be twice as hard to move out as it was to move in, and so expensive to move into another place.

When will I learn? When will I settle in a location, both physically and mentally?

I have a final today, but the last thing in the world I care about is the profession I am supposed to be going into. I start another set of classes in two weeks. Don’t care. It’s not for me. Will I finish this stupid Master’s in Financial Analysis? I should because I’m about 80% done and someone else is graciously paying for every penny of it.

But naturally, if you start something out of boredom or confusion, it was not a good decision to begin with. It won’t usually end well. I am not a quitter; I just never wanted to do the things I started in the first place.

What is it in life I am seeking? What makes me different from everyone else? Why do others get it but I don’t? I’m not sure exactly how many years my mind has been in this state, but at least since junior year of college, I have completely been somewhere else. Is it the ADD? Is it my personality? Is it depression? It certainly isn’t a lack of hope or effort. I want things to change and have for years. I have been trying to help myself as much as possible. The doctors and psychiatrists and my friends tell me that’s the first step, the awareness of a problem and willingness to do something about it. But what is freaking being done? Countless medicines, doctors, diets, exercises, apartments, girls, vacations, interests, schools, jobs, cities later, where have I found myself? What did I expect to find when I moved? What is lacking in me that others take for granted? It’s easy to talk to Curtis from your perspective, but try being me and seeing how hard it actually is.

It’s like I have tried everything in my power, everything I can possibly think of, to change things for the better, but my fruitless efforts have left me waiting for something to happen. Nothing is happening. I’ve tried harder than everyone else yet have less than everyone else to show for it. If you don’t think I am trying, you are an idiot. You don’t know the daily struggle that is my mind.

I’ve had enough of people being easy on me.

I’ve had enough of people being hard on me. And being so hard on myself.

I’m starting to get to the point where I see having a normal life as being more and more unrealistic, that having at least some clarity is something I will never achieve.

I keep listening to “Glory” and “Mountains” by Radical Face, “Nuvole Bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi, “Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart, and “All There Is” by Gregory Alan Isakov, songs that I listened to in my flux phase in San Francisco before I packed up and left. I am so moved by them, by the emotions that I had when I listened to them in that weird new turn in my life. I expect something to happen when I get these emotions. I feel like a better person, a more focused and positive me, yet I can’t seem to find the exact outlet. It’s like something is waiting to burst inside me, but there is nothing to start the explosion. I’ve had this same feeling SO MANY TIMES. It clearly isn’t bad and feels like a step in the right direction. But why can’t it get past this feeling?? Why can’t I do something past this point, other than just saying, “I am tired of this and want to do something very positive about it right now”? Please, someone in the world, help me. I am at that turning point, waiting to be nudged in a certain direction, with limitless possibilities. I’m ready for that change. I’m ready to know, to be confused no more. I’m 24, and I literally cannot stand another day of this lifestyle. I have already let years slip by. I am not being the person I want to be.

Valet job, or another random vocation? Finance? Moving? Passions and interests? This stuff should be obvious. No, I don’t have to know everything at this point in my life, but it would nice to know something.

So starting now, it’s the year of Curtis. I’m sick of this.

Please try to hold me accountable. Figuring things out is long overdue.

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Literally One Day as a Valet

I recently had the single greatest working experience of my entire life.

I’ve always had a passion for cars, and I have been looking for pretty much any job at this point yet have not had much luck. But after a phone call and a quick interview, I got a job as a valet worker in the Gold Coast, a really nice area downtown.

I had to purchase a white dress shirt, black tie, black pants, and black sport shoes that I would do a lot of running in. I showed up eager to learn and thankful for the opportunity. I was told the first day would be training. But really it was 25% training, 75% just learning by doing.  A really friendly worker took me under his wing and showed me exactly what to do. I went on a few runs with him then was given the responsibility of doing it myself, after only an hour.

I hear the boss say, “Hey, new guy, take this one to Lot 2, you’ll do fine.”  I turned to see a new Mercedes SLK pulling up to the curb. Awesome. I ran over and opened the driver’s door and handed him a ticket. I got in and quickly observed the controls; it was a manual. I’ve driven plenty of manual transmissions, but there was pressure involved to learn this clutch and shifting perfectly so as not to look make a bad impression to my boss and the driver and the other valet workers. I handled it fine and sped away. I was alone and in complete control of this fancy car. I made sure to drive like a taxi driver (like I was taught) while still being very careful. I parked it in the absurdly small spot and did all the necessary things before sprinting the quarter-mile back to the valet curb. If this was representative of what was to come, I was in for a fun night. And I was right.

I could go into details, because there are so many. But I’ll try to keep it brief.

This went on for some time. I initially just parked the cars, but then I was given tickets to pick up and bring cars back. This requires a pure sprint and focus on getting the car out of wherever it is and to the curb as quickly as possible. The very first pickup ticket I was given was for the “garage.” The garage is a nightmare. It is 6 stories, dark, and has only one way up and down. The parking spots are tiny and in weird corners and obstructed by poles. The “elevator” is a manlift, a vertical conveyor belt thing that seems very primitive but it so fun to ride. This is one in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUdL_st3FFw#t=0m27s

The first car I picked up was obstructed by two others, so I had to find the keys and move the cars out of the way then back in as quickly as possible. Then when I finally got into the car, I had to turn on the lights and honk the horn while driving down the maze of a garage. It reminded me of something you would see in a movie or do in a video game, but would never actually do in person. I was flying down this tiny spiraling lane, maneuvering around poles and other cars, sharply turning the wheel, in a car I have never driven. It seemed so risky. It took a lot of focus and guts.

The rest of the night was basically like that. A lot of running. Figuring out how to read the ticket so I know where the car was, and how to find the car in the garage. Taking the crazy manlift a million times. Getting into cars I have never driven before, trying to find the headlights and turn down the windows and figure out how to drive them. The rush and stress of knowing you don’t have much time to waste. Opening all the doors and collecting tips while making sure to be polite and thankful.

Oh yeah. I got to drive a freaking Lamborghini, which has always been a dream. I have not been as joyful in a long time.

In total, I drove or moved around 80 cars, about 15 of them manual or some form of manual transmission, 20 with Engine Start buttons, and 7-10 with numerous other gadgetries that I learned to use.

I got a nice chunk of change in tips, and before I left, the boss handed me three $20 bills and told me great job. I was so happy and worn out. My adrenaline was rushing; I was reliving the fast-paced night in my head while also thinking about things I could do better the next day. I didn’t even realize that I was there for eleven hours, that I didn’t eat anything, and that I was freezing.

I had a nice conversation with my cab driver on the way home. I never ever talk to cab drivers, hair stylists, etc., but I was that overjoyed. We had a fun chat then he asked how my day went, and I shared with him my experience. I was proud of my work, I enjoyed my work, and I was completely engulfed in my work.

I didn’t fall asleep until around 7 AM, and I had to get up at 8:30 because I was told to come in at 10 AM. When I woke up, I wasn’t even tired. I was happy to have a reason to get up early, and the excitement was still lingering in my system.

But when I got to the valet station at 10, different workers were there and I was told there must be a mistake because they were already full. I tried calling my supervisor, who said he is very reliable and to get hold of him about any problems. No answer or response. I called everyone I could think of but there was literally no answer from anyone. I found a few people I did work with the previous day but they didn’t know what to tell me other than to get hold of my supervisor(s). It is now three days later and I have heard nothing from anyone. No one has answered phone calls or texts, and I have gone back three times to no avail. Yes, the authority figures are a little shady / there really isn’t a main authority figure, but this is ridiculous. I did everything I was supposed to do, and they made it clear I would be working as a full-time employee at that location and later various other locations downtown.

I am pretty upset that this is happening right now. I finally find something that I need in my life that will keep me occupied and satisfied. I finally enjoy an entire eleven hours of freedom from my mind, from insecurities and questions and confusion and the same old routine. I finally find something I passionately want to do, after all this time finding passion in very little. I finally take a step in the right direction and am happy and eager for the next day and confident that everything will be okay. I find something I am really really good at. I find something I don’t want to immediately quit. But then it disappears, completely vanishes on me. One day. Just one freaking day? My jobs lately haven’t lasted long, but that’s a little silly. Yes, this should make my distant, confused, depressed state worse.

But I am not as sad as I thought I would be, at least not yet. I have been discouraged and frustrated far too long.

Let’s be real. I don’t know if being a valet is a job for me in the long run. Worst-case scenario: I don’t have this job anymore or any other valet job for that matter. I had the best single working day of my life. My optimism is back: I know that I can actually find and be fulfilled by a job. Even if for only one eleven-hour working day, I was back on track, and knowing how that feels will encourage me to find something else. I fervently seek that happiness and job satisfaction; I need that feeling and will find it again.

I’m hoping this is all one big miscommunication and I still can work with this company, or I quickly find another job as a valet, and I will once again have the fulfillment I need in my life. Maybe I would start disliking it after a few days and this is just an overreaction to finally getting a job, but I can’t think that way. It might sound silly, it might sound like settling, but I loved being a valet and that’s all that really matters.