Posted in Relationship Ramblings, The Billy Blogs

Learning to Love Again

It’s been a few months since Bill walked…or should I say rolled…out of my life, and although I should be over it by now, the honest truth is that I’m really not. I have been so emotionally invested for the last decade, and most recently the last two years, that I feel like at times, I haven’t given others a chance.

While dating Bill, I landed in  some tough times that have resulted in RJ coming to my rescue, at one point, taking partial residence in my apartment, only going back to his for mail checks and doctor’s appointments since his apartment is closer to there. He has helped me through my darkest moments, and yet I was so focused on Bill and his needs. When Bill would “ghost” me for weeks due to a new video game or whatever, RJ would bring up a fun conversation and keep me from feeling bored. When Bill would forget my birthday or whatever holiday that was coming up, RJ would drop off a little something to help me celebrate.

I kept saying to myself that Bill “didn’t know better” or that his payee who held his money ransom was just “being a bitch” until it was later revealed that he was more into himself and his games to not care about me. And when you added his  “not my girlfriend” into the mix, the only logical answer would of been to leave him and go with RJ.

Logic? What the hell is that? 

Over the last few weeks, RJ and I have been toying around with the idea that we should try to pick up where we left off, especially since most of what ruined us in the past has been resolved. He found work, he is more respectful, and he has taken initiative even when I was tied up in other things. 

It hurts me lately that even though he loves me, I don’t believe in it. Between our past and me losing Bill, I’m afraid to love again. I call him my boyfriend, but I don’t have that sense of pride that I should when saying it. 

I look back at the weeks that followed me landing the new job and can’t help but feel guilt upon staying here over moving in with Bill. But the question remains “would I have been happy there? Or am I better off here?”

Would I have reconnected with the art scene to some degree on my own?

Would I have ever found all the cool things to do in Orlando without limiting myself to my “bus bubble” (I always feel paranoid getting lost.)

Would I have the freedom to do what I want when I want it?

Would I have taken the chances to grow and be a better person without a fear of abandonment?

I most likely wouldn’t of found that in Rhode Island…or elsewhere.

While Bill told me it wasn’t worth me keeping this job, RJ was in my corner, cheering me on, telling me that he was proud of me. Words Bill used to say to me way back when. Back when his heart was in the right place and not stuck in a gaming console, or a random lady friend.

Sometimes, I wish I never took RJ for granted like I do. I wish I can find a way to love him again like the way he loves me.

Needless to say I am angry at myself for being angry at him for reasons unknown. My emotions are so off kilter on this matter, that I wonder if I can even learn to love again in general. 

I wish I can see what RJ sees in me, since I’m just a mess of a human being. Whatever the reason may be, I’m thankful he hasn’t let go.

If only I can learn to hang on. 

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Posted in Overcoming Adversity

Aiming a Bit Too High

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the goals I always wanted to acomplish. As I enter the realm of public speaking and tell random strangers, or anyone willing to listen, about my life as this nerdy legally blind blogger, it gives me a great feeling to know that I can look back and say I made some sort of impact in the world. 

But often, I wish I can do more. 

Although I’m living the crazy dream of living in Florida and planning vacations for the Florida theme parks, I feel like it’s not enough. I don’t see myself as management material given my anxiety, nor do I see myself being a trainer, because I have come to learn that I am a slow ass learner at my new job. Odd, considering I caught on things easily at Disney. Maybe I have gone brain dead since then?

I miss the days where I had some sort of impact, whether it was from working with the special needs kids in the homeroom classes in junior high, or my adult years as a parapro for at risk youth. I felt a sense of honor knowing that for every bad day with a kid brought at least one “ah ha” moment that proved to me I was doing my job right, even though some teachers disagreed with it. I treated my kids with dignity not a diagnosis. Same as I treated my relationship with Bill. I felt I made an impact just by being myself. Just how big of an impact, well, that’s left to be determined. 

I have a million and one ideas of what I want to acomplish. I want to land a TED Talk gig, build an art program for the disabled, start my own self advocacy group, find a way to bring my talents, whatever they may be, to the world. I want to make a difference, but I also need to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head. Damn adulting.

Only question is, where do I begin? They say to spread my wings, but how do you get these bastards to work? 

Posted in Overcoming Adversity, Pondering about PTSD

The IEP Effect

Imagine if you will that you’re the only kid in your class with a disability, and yet somehow, you manage with the aid of whatever accomadations you have. Things are going well, you are learning everything you need to know. “You got this.” you say to yourself.

And then here comes a random lady with a clipboard, who follows you around everywhere for the entire day.

As a little kid, you don’t question it. Until your IEP comes around and mom and dad chew you a new one about something wrong you did or about an accomadation you decided not to use.

And then it dawns on you. That lady is documenting every move you made and adding it to your IEP. The purpose is supposed to help you grow and function, but once you realize what is going on, anyone with a clipboard becomes your enemy. 

You try to deal with said enemy by remembering all the flaws you had the last time and try to work your way through it, even bullshitting around things to make you look good (as a kid, I did that a lot.)

And then the IEP comes out and even more things get thrown on there, even things you always did right come out wrong. The stress eats you alive and that fear of failure lingers to the point where you feel worthless. It’s almost like if you are a straight A student but fail the SATS. You’re smart and do everything right and yet someone or something above you says different 

You would think dealing with this kind of issue would pass as you leave childhood, but in my case, it doesn’t.

In my work, we get observed on how well we do in our sales pitch. Last week went amazing, and yet for some reason, I failed this time despite what I assumed I did correctly. That fear of failure as I watched the gentleman with a clipboard behind me sent those negative vibes I grew acustomed to as a child. I tried to outshine so much, but somewhere along the line, it all faded to black. 

Ever since childhood and more recently since me leaving Disney, I always get that sick sense of being a failure and losing every ounce of self esteem over a freaking clipboard. Hell, even if they had an iPad or whatever I would be scared out of my mind still. The fact that I am physically being graded throws me off so hard, it’s as though I’m back in elementary school again.

I don’t hold any blame on anyone by any means. The man who graded me is an amazing mentor, but I do blame the fact that a system seeking more flaws than successes, IEP, sales reports, or otherwise, has that physical presence that makes you feel pressured to be perfect to a point where you aren’t. Ultimately, I blame my childhood experiences on this fear that somehow manifested itself into the adult world. I am a great seller, but when I know I’m being graded, I shut down somehow. 

Although there is a big difference between the IEP and a Sales Report, the premises of improvement remains the same, right down to the details that can make or break a person. 

Learning experiences in general should be more positive, although flaws and needs of improvement need to be addressed, there has to be another way to do it so those who need help won’t feel the embarassment of dealing with their differences and needs.

The last thing I would want is for any child who needs an IEP to deal with the constant fear of failure that I’m feeling now as an adult.

Curse you, you evil clipboard.

Posted in Uncategorized

Stressed and (Surprisingly) Surviving

For reasons (sort of) unknown, I have had this sense of dread hanging over me, almost as though I am destined to fail. I have that fear that the events that played last summer will happen to me again. Often I feel like what I am doing is never enough. It’s as if everything I learned at the new job just gets lost once something happens in real life beyond the classes I took. I’m asking questions every five minutes, so much so, I feel my team lead is getting sick of my derpy brain, even though I have only gone live about twice in a booth since I started.

As busy as things have gotten with the new park opening and my upcoming projects (the presentation at the Family Cafe and my first shot of giving up my autumn season to be a scareactor for Halloween Horror Nights) I have felt that my writing has taken a backdoor with all that is happening because my brain is constantly on how well or not well I do at work. Rest assured to my blogging family, I haven’t died yet.

Which is surprising to say the least.

A year ago, with this kind of stress added to my life, I would be in a corner of my booth freaking out. But now I feel a sense of acomplishment and determination to make the most of everything I do, to try new things, and not let the crazy of a new park get to me. Seeing the lines and the occausional upset guest doesn’t phase me anymore.

Is it because I survived the worst year of my life and learned to handle whatever comes my way? Is it the years of experience that made me somewhat of a pro as to how to tackle difficult situations? Is it the fact I work with some surprisingly caring and compassionate people? Is it because I am no longer focused on the ex and his health issues, the long bus ride home, or the office melodrama that took every bit of life out of me?

Whatever it is, I feel empowered to take on whatever challenges life hands me. My writing and touristy blogs will be back soon, as well as some other fun ideas I am conjouring up in the back of my brain (food reviews possibly?) But for now, work beckons.

Now if only I can get this pesky cloud of dread over me to blow over. 

Posted in Uncategorized

A Note To My New Fellow Co-Workers

Hey guys,

You may not know me, for I didn’t have the same track of training as you had. You know how crazy opening a theme park can be, paperwork gets lost and trainings get penciled in. But eh.

My name is Mandy, I have prided myself on my love and knowledge of theme parks, so much so, that I decided to give up everything I had, including a teaching assistant job, to move down here from Philadelphia. I worked at Disney for three and a half years, selling theme park tickets in some form or another in both a retail enviroment and Epcot. I have seen parks get full to capacity, dealt with guests threatening to kill me, made magic and miracles happen for Make A Wish kids, and tried to make dismal moments in the vacation planning process a lot less stressful. Helping people is been the cornerstone of everything I try to accomplish everyday, despite my challenges.

I might look a litle slow, I might not make the best eye contact, and I might even mistake you as someone else. You might think less of me since right now I’m not an equal to you in the booth as of yet. 

I have a condition called Autosomal Recessive Ocular Albinism, basically it’s a clusterfudge of anything and everything that ruins both my ability to see and my ability to differentiate faces and small details. I’m also light sensitive so sunlight and fluorescents give me migraines. My eyes dance around due to nystagmus, it’s my brain’s way of trying to keep focus in a world that basically looks like a crappy cell phone camera photo from 2005, pixelated and blurry. 

Despite all this, I am intelligent and a fast learner. Once I get a visual layout of everything, I can pick up new things in a flash (a legally blind visual learner, how ironic.) I have bifocals and a digital magnifier that helps with the small details a vacation planner needs to, well, vacation plan. 

I am also the kind of person who needs things to do in order to be happy. When I’m standing in a spot with no interaction or pet project to do, I get grouchy. So you might see me doodle or fidget around, even clean or make idol chat with guests. If you see me like that, I could really use something to do, even if it’s grabbing you a water or helping you restock something. Greeter jobs are not my cup of tea. But I can manage as long as I am treated the same as anyone else and not down talked to like an infant. I may not be your equal now, but in due time, I will be. I didn’t do all this pass sales training for nothing, nor has this been my first rodeo. 

I may not be pretty or perfect enough to mingle with the in-crowd, nor do I speak many languages to converse wth everyone, but I have full respect for each person, guest and team member alike. We all have our backstories and we all have our differences, and that’s what makes us part of this amazing opening team. All I ask is the same respect in return. You don’t have to be my friend, nor do you have to agree with me on anything related or unrelated to this job. But all I ask is to be treated like anyone else, to be valued like anyone else, and to not let my disability tell you otherwise. Unless you are management, I kindly ask for you to talk to me as an EQUAL. If you have an issue, let’s discuss this like adults. If you see me doing something wrong, a simple offer of “Let me help.” would do the trick instead of taking over any situation. You may have experience, so do I. Let’s talk about it and share our experiences as a team. 

I’m also not asking for pity by any means. NEVER assume my lack of abilities. I may not get everything right away, but that’s because this route to get here with you all didn’t take the course it should have. Be patient with me is all I ask. But also give me a chance to prove that worth. You’ll be surprised of what I am capable of.

I’m glad to take this journey with you, even though I’m in an odd situation right now. I hope in writing this letter, it clears up some misconceptions of who I am and what I am about, and in return I can give the best guest experience possible as a vacation planner…Just like you.

Let’s get through this opening weekend together and beyond, hand in hand.

Your fellow team member,

Mandy

Posted in Lights, Camera, Universal!

Twas The Night Before Grand Opening

Twas the night before grand opening

Of Volcano Bay

I took a few moments 

To go out and play.

My last night jobless is finally here

Small paychecks are something I wil no longer fear.

I had weeks of training 

And role-playing too

I have my uniform hung 

All shiny and new

 A career I was told I could never return 

Is now the reality that took guts to earn

My products of plenty greet me on screen

My sales pitch is memorized 

It’s no longer a dream.

The volcano has risen

The wave pool is full

The slides are a plenty 

For fellow islanders to rule

There’s scrumptious food

And ice cream to eat

My visitors will sure be in for a treat

Things will be their best on opening day

Despite all the obstacles along the way 

But with a few great friends and managers by my side

I believe all will turn out just fine

Well folks, we made it

Our time is near

The grand opening of Volcano Bay is finally here

Now the only thing that will be my foe

Is surviving the coaster of Krakatau.



Posted in Cast Member Chronicles, Lights, Camera, Universal!, Overcoming Adversity

One More Week…

The hardest part of my journey over the last few months has been to learn to cope with the fact that we all need a little help sometimes, and that often when we get in a comfortable position, we tend to take the stuff we love and need for granted.

Losing my job at Disney had to have been one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me. Never in my life would I have imagined the hell that would become of my life for almost a good year now. Living off super tiny paychecks and unemployment, as well as taking in RJ partially on nights he works in exchange for survival cash, was definitely not the life I wanted to live. I’m an independent woman, but I felt like I got tossed back into the darkness. 

Life played out like a nightmare I constantly have. In the nightmare, I am a successful business person or graduating college, only to be pulled aside at random and told that there was an error in my records, forcing me back into highschool and having to do the whole thing over again. Just as I was in my prime, everything I worked for was taken away.

I sit here today glancing over my pay stub for the week, yet another check that doesn’t exceed $100, mostly because I’ve been in training one day a week or so for the past month. 

Normally, I find myself in a deep depression over the fact that I can barely buy food let alone pay my bills. I pray every single day that I never have to deal with this again. I wish with all my might that this will be the last really bad paycheck for a while, and yet my wish never comes true. Although I’ve had some decent paychecks since making the move to the new park and picking up seasonal work, the results are often short lived. 

I look at this last paycheck and smile. 

Because after 8 months of suffering, trying to prove my worth to others, dealing with collection calls, and living off Dollar Store food, it’s all come to an end.

Next week, my park will officially be open. I will finally have regular work again for the first time in almost a year. I can finally gain the independence back that I craved for so long. I found a place where my career can grow, where for once, I truly feel accepted. 

Six months ago when I walked out of Disney for good, I thought my life was over.

Turns out my life is just beginning.

In this rather tough journey, I found out who my true friends are, to appreciate the small things in life, and most importantly, not to take life for granted. I’ve learned to take the struggles head on, knowing as bad as things can get, with a little help from the people you love, and sometimes the ones you least  expect, anything and everything is possible. 

Although I still have one really tough week ahead of me, I know, like everything I lived through, it’s only temporary.

In the meantime, I’ll have one more helping of ramen please.