Crunching Season

*** Crunch.  Crunch, Crunch.  Cruuunch ***

One of my favorite seasons is here in full swing, crunching season.   (Oh you call it fall?  How original of you . . .)

Nothing says fall like walking on a path a freshly fallen leaves, especially when you purposely try to step on every leaf you can.  Crunchy golden leaves are the play things of our childhood.  The delightful embrace of jumping into an ocean of crackling leaves brings us back to the simpler days of our childhood.  As more and more leaves tumble to the ground, we cannot but help think about squashing them.

So as you contemplate joining in this fun activity, here are some different levels of leaf crunching to follow depending on your commitment to the endeavor.

The first level is the walk and stomp.  This level is for those who are still testing the waters of leaf jumping, and may be a little nervous about just jumping in.  These people happen across leaves as they are walking and stomp as many as they can without looking like they are trying to play in the leaves.  However, the subtle smile that plays on their lips is a dead giveaway for the joy they are currently experiencing from stomping those golden treasures.

The next level of leaf crunching is the glance and jump.  This level is for those who want to fully embrace the leaves, but are too shy to fully dive in.  They look around to make sure no one is watching, and then they jump on the leaves like a little kid in a rain puddle.  Since they are so sneaky, you will not be able to witness this type of cruncher.   Although, they can be spotted by the small giggle they are unable to suppress afterwards, because they just jumped in a leaves without anyone knowing.

The final level of leaf crunching is the run and plunge.  This level is only for the truly committed.  These crunchers throw off all abandon, when they see a pile of leaves they do not hesitant, they go for it.  They run at the leaf pile full speed and cannon ball into it, resulting in leaves flying everywhere.  They do not care if they come out with leaves sticking all over their hair and clothes; all that matters is the awesome feeling of being surrounded in a cloud of leaves.

Warning: the run and plunge may result in landing on a pointy stick that has worked its way into the pile.  Even if they land on a pointy stick, these crunchers emerge from the pile in full out laughter.  They can be spotted by the one leaf in the back of their hair that they forgot to get out.  Even if you are not feeling as dedicated as these crunchers, it is impossible to not find happiness in flattening leaves.

So as you watch the leaves trickle down in the wind, embrace the joy of the leaf crunching season.  Take a moment out of your day to stop and stomp some leaves, after all that is what they are there for, and remember that you are never too old to get joy of crushing leaves.  Happy crunching season.

Fall 1

Photo Credit: Unknown

Calling All Flirting Experts

Today was a normal Friday morning.  I headed to my favorite coffee shop before work, excited that they had their pumpkin drink on their menu.  I was sitting at the bar, reading newspaper, waiting for me drink when he walked in.

I have seen him there several times before.  Which is a good sign, because as I have mentioned, I don’t trust people who don’t drink coffee. I met him during my debut into the short film industry (if you would like an autographed head shot, please contact my agent).  I always wanted to talk to him again, but I was never brave enough.  I have squashed nearly every fear of mine, except the fear of talking to a cute boy.

Plus I had no idea what to say.  Maybe he didn’t even remember/recognize me.  You never want to assume you are as memorable to someone as they are to you.  That would be awkward.

Let me back up to earlier this summer.  One of my roommates got a call from a friend saying they need extras in the short film that they were shooting that weekend.

We debated for a while if we should go.  We were enjoying our lazy Sunday in sweatpants.  We eventually decided that when life hands you an adventure (and a chance at fame) you take it. So I put on my favorite shade of lipstick and tried to fix my mess of two day old curls that desperately needed to be washed.

It was some short film that a group of hipsters were working on (do people still use the word hipster?)  They needed extras to be in their party scene.  We arrived and I felt instantly out of place.  My roommate was the only person there I knew, and me being a good introvert wanted to avoid as much small talk as possible.

I sat down and waited as the crew bustled busily around me.  Someone handed me a beer for my prop, and another person told me I had to scrape off the label (copy right laws and such).  The guy in charge was burly and bearded.  He was starting to place the extras.  He came over to our table and pulled me away from my roommate.

He placed me by the entrance and told me my role was to be the girl the main character was trying flirt with, but I was trying to flirt with the cute brunette (it looks like life was also trying to hand me love).  I tried to keep the panic from showing in my eyes.  Just because I am wearing lipstick doesn’t mean I have any clue how to flirt.

flirting 3

As if to make the impossible more impossible, we weren’t allowed to talk either.  But being the thespian that I am, I managed to pull it off.  He also made it easy and turned a really awkward situation into a funny one.  Soon it became hard to define where the acting stopped and real flirting began.

Let me back up and clarify, I can’t flirt. And yes, I do mean that I am incapable. Also if I am being honest it makes me a little nauseous. I don’t do the demure damsel act very well.  I am also am not good at gushing and stroking your  ego  biceps. 

If you have a big ego, I will make it my sole mission to destroy it.  Some call that flirting, I just call it doing a favor for humanity.  My “flirting” is dry snarky humor.  If you are smart enough you will catch on to the fact that I just insulted you to your face, if not well you will probably just laugh and pretend you got the joke.

Which brings me back to the coffee shop this morning.  I have no idea how to be a normal human when someone tries to flirt with me.  Which he did, and he did it well.  It made me laugh, and then I froze because I couldn’t think of a witty comeback.  I stood there awkwardly smiling for what felt like an eternity and then fled.

facepalm

I know that I will run into him again.  In fact, I am hoping I do.  But I also know that the ball is in my court now, and I have no idea how to return it.

flirting 2

I Don’t Hate Mornings (or you), I Just Need Coffee

Mornings are rough.  If you are like me (the cursed half of humanity that was born to hate mornings), getting out of bed will be the hardest thing you have to do all day.  That is until you stumble into work clutching your coffee like the lifeline it is, trying to shake the fogginess from your brain, and praying no one bothers you for the next hour.

Coffee3

Don’t talk to me.  Don’t need anything from me.  Do you see the cup of gold in my hand?  Good.  Now wait until it is gone before you approach me.  I try to hold back the death glare when you ignore the above request.  But it is hard, really hard, so I am sorry.

Coffee4

It isn’t that I hate mornings.  I actually quite love them when I don’t have to do any productive.  Sitting on my porch with a cup of gold in my head on a crisp fall morning, that is something that might get me out of bed.

What I hate is the assumption that every jumps out of bed ready to tackle the world the moment their first alarm goes off.  Lets be real, I said first because I have several and I always hit snooze.  Waking up for me is a 30 minute process in which I am trying to figure out which alarm clock I have to snooze this time.

Now I am fully aware that researchers say hitting snooze only makes it harder for you to wake up later, but I am willing to bet that researcher was also a morning person. You see morning people just don’t understand.  What do you mean you aren’t happy and perky to be awake?  What do you mean you don’t ooze confetti and rainbows the minute you step out of bed?  Why are you crabby, don’t you know it is a beautiful day.  

Mornings

The worst type of morning person you can find is the overly optimistic kind.  You encounter one of those and you run fast and you run hard. No one is that happy to get out of bed.  No one.  I don’t want to hear about how much you love mornings while I am still miserably half asleep.  I promise you it won’t make me like mornings, it will just make me glare at you until you stop talking.  Please don’t take it personally, its not you its me.  Well its a little bit you, but I will get over it.

Coffee2

If you are the half of humanity that is lucky enough to enjoy being productive during the hours that society dictates, please be gentle with us.  Please don’t tell us we look crabby, we know, we can feel it.

Yours truly,

– The grumpy cat that ate the morning bird because its chirping was too obnoxious.

Memoirs of an Introvert

“Really you are an introvert?”

Yes, I really am.  People who don’t know me well are always surprised by this.  While I do have some extroverted tendencies, I am more of an introvert.  Truth be told I am probably more of an ambivert, which is somewhere in the middle.  But when push comes to shove, I end up on the introvert side.

I use to hate being called an introvert, because I thought that it meant I was shy and boring.  We tend to think of extroverts as the life of the party and introverts as the weird girl in the corner playing with a cat.

I have spent most of my life misunderstanding myself and being misunderstood by others about what it actually means to be an introvert.  Learning that my brothers were introverts helped me a lot.  They are the fun, life of the party, outgoing type of people that you wouldn’t assume to be introverts.  Far from the weird shy girl playing in the corner with a cat.

So what does it mean to be an introvert?  What is life really like for us silent mysterious types?  Let me tell you, and hopefully help you relate a bit better to the introverts in your life.

 If you want to hear what an introvert is thinking, stop talking for two minutes.

One of my favorite things about African culture, is that they cater to introverts.  They value silence in conversation, because they value sometime taking the time to think of the words they want to say.

American culture is quite the opposite.  Conversation is fast paced and silences are awkward.  We haven’t been talking for five seconds quick say something to fill the silence before they think you are a boring person who doesn’t have anything to say.

As an introvert, fast paced conversation is exhausting.  Our brains are not wired to work that way.  We are by nature deep thinkers.  We need time to think of what we want to say.  We need time to process through every possible answer. If you can give us time, you will be rewarded with a well thought out answer.

Please don’t our lack of enthusiasm in a conversation as a cue to just keep talking. 

It is actually more work to listen to someone who has been talking for the last hour straight then it is to be in a conversation with someone.  This past weekend I went camping with my family.  On the drive home, me and my fellow introverted brother maybe said a dozen sentences to each other.  It didn’t mean that we didn’t like each other or want to be around each other, it just meant we need to decompress.

I think a lot of extroverts tend to confuse our silence as a sign to just keep talking.  No, please no.  It means we want silence.  Like I mentioned earlier, we can’t change gears as quickly.  That is even more amplified in a one sided conversation.  We are trying to listen as politely as possible, while silently begging you to stop talking so we can go back to our thinking.

No matter how much we may like you, some days we need to just go hide in our introvert cave.

When I am done with people, I am done with people.  My brain turns to mush and I start to think that I will lose my sanity if I have to listen to one. more. minute. of mindless chit chat.  I am not trying to be rude, but I have no energy to care what happened to your shoe belt buckle.  I am going to go lock myself in a closet for an hour, k bye.

We are not trying to be rude, I promise.  Our brains are just shutting down, and we will get crankier by the minute until you let us decompress.  Let us have a minute to ourselves to breathe, and we will come out refreshed and ready to listen about your shoe belt buckle problems.

We like to think, A LOT.

We need to think a lot.  It is how we are wired.  We are the deep thinkers and the over-analyzers. The best way I can explain it is that extroverts think externally and introverts think internally.  Introverts are always thinking about something, just like extroverts will always be talking about something.  Introverts are constantly analyzing and re-analyzing whatever happens to be on our mind.

I think that is part of the reason large crowds exhaust us so much.  We have so much internal stimuli happening all the time, that the added external stimuli just overheats our brains.  There will be times in crowds when there is so much activity going on that I literally can’t even hear myself think.  I feel like a caged animal that just needs to get out.  It is akin to an extrovert being locked in a closet for a day not able to talk to anyone.

Please don’t try to force us to talk.

I can’t count how many times people have tried to force me to talk in group settings. I know they are just trying to be helpful.  They think that I am not talking because I am shy, or maybe I just haven’t gotten the chance yet.  While those may be true, it is mostly because I am just not ready yet.  (Am I beating a dead horse yet?)  Introverts need time to process and think.  We will talk when we are ready to talk.

The times in group discussion when I was called to share before I was ready, I just spewed words that didn’t make sense and were not at all what I was trying to say.  It left me feeling like I just didn’t get my point across (because I didn’t).  Forcing us to share something that we are still digesting will just leave us feeling resentful.  Be patient with us.  We patiently listen as you never seem to stop talking, you can patiently wait when as our silences never seem to stop.

I don’t want to go is a valid reason.  

It doesn’t matter how much we like you or how much we may even like the event.  Some days we are too peopled out.  So we try to spare your feelings by telling you we have a lot of stuff to do.  “Oh I would love to but you know I really need to give my cat a bath tonight.” Our cat is fine, we just don’t want to go because the thought of being surrounded by strangers for a whole night makes us cringe.

I normally try to force myself to go anyways.  I know as cozy as my favorite chair and book may sound that I want to live a life filled with memories and experiences with other people.  Some times I am glad I went as I ended up having a great time.  Other times I sit and count the seconds until I can return to my introverted ways.

But we still do love people.

I know, it is kind of contradictory.  We don’t quite understand the conundrum ourselves.  The best way I can explain it, is that it is like running a race.  No matter how much you may like running, you are still exhausted after a race.  No one runs a marathon and then turns around wants to run another marathon.

I know some people who like running more than any human should like running.  But even they don’t run all the time.  The body isn’t capable of it.  The same goes for introverts – our brains aren’t capable of running social marathons all the time.  We like people, quite a lot actually, but we can’t be around them all the time.

This is just one introverts perspective, not a one size fits all guide to making introverts happy.  Introverts and extroverts have been mislabeled for quite some time.  If you are outgoing you are told that you are extroverted, and if you are shy you are told that you are introverted.  That may be true for some but not for all.  Some of the most outgoing people I know are introverts.  In short, it all comes down to how you process information.  Introverts process the world internally, and extrovert process the world externally.  Most people are a mixture of both, but it still helps to understand both sides.

There you have it – the not so mysterious thoughts of the mysterious introverts.

Feet

*** Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, as I always appreciate others thoughts.  Tell me about you experiences as an introvert, or your experiences as an extrovert dealing with introverts.  

Memoirs of a Paralegel – How I Survived my First (Almost) Year in a Law Firm

Heels, coffee, pencil skits, more coffee.

I use to think I handled stress well, then I worked in a law office.  Where I am constantly fixing others problems, and constantly being needed.

A blonde paralegal running around in my red heels and pencil skirts from copier to computer to, wait I think I need more coffee, to “Lori can you fix this?”  Yes.  “Lori can you make sure this gets done today?”  Yes. “Lori the printer is broken.” I’m on it.  “Lori do you know how to fix my computer?”  Yes, move over.  “Lori this client is upset can you talk to them?”  Yes, just let me get more coffee.  “Lori here is a 1,000 pages of medical records for you to read through.”  Umm yes okay I am going to need a lot more coffee.

I have been working in a law office for just over 9 months now.  Some times I forget just how under qualified I am for my job as a Paralegal until people ask me, “Oh so do did you go to school for that.”  No I did not.  Apparently though you can.

About a month ago. I was in the elevator with a guy who works in a different law office in the same building.  He was nice enough, and I had seen him around often.  He introduced himself and started talking to me, “You know I interviewed for you job too.”  Well this is awkward.  “So where did you work before this?”

Actually awkward did not even begin to describe what I was feeling. Telling him that I worked in a coffee shop didn’t seem like a good answer.  Telling the guy who had wanted my job that I was in no way qualified for it also didn’t seem like a good response.  Why is this elevator moving so slowly?  Someone please help, get me out.

I finally just responded by telling him that I recently graduated college.  Thankfully that is when the elevator door finally opened on my floor.  I fled.

I showed up on my first day more nervous than I have been in a long time.  I tugged at my suit jacket feeling like a little girl playing dress up, wearing clothes I stole from my mother’s closet that very obviously didn’t fit me.

I sat in my office, my own very office.  The phone rang, I panicked.  Why on earth does it have so many buttons?  What good is graduating at the top of your class if you can’t even figure out a freaking phone? 

My boss would ask me every day, “Miss Rensink how did day 1 go?”  “Miss Rensink how did day 2 go?”   Every day I would answer with a thin smile, “A little bit better than yesterday.”  He would see my deer-in-the-headlight look and just nod and smile, “Every day will get easier.”

And you know what, it did.  Oh it would also get really hard.  There were many moments were I simply didn’t think I could do it as I forced back the frustrated tears.  There were moments when crawling under my desk to hide sounded like a good idea, whether it was from exhaustion, because my brain felt fried, or because I simply did not want to have to talk to any more people.  I haven’t yet, but some days I look down there and just think it looks nice.  Safe.

But I didn’t.  I just goggled all of the legal jargon so I would know what my boss meant when he told me to draft a Summons and Complaint.   Some days I would just tell my very patient boss that I had no idea what he was talking about.  And I learned.  I was learning so much that I never thought I could keep up, but I did.

Then one day the pencil skirts and heels felt like they belonged to me.  I stopped feeling like I was playing dress up.  One day I realized that I actually might know what I was doing.  More than that, I might actually be good at it.

One day I stopped feeling like I was drowning.  Oh I would still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed when I was surrounded by towers of papers, but I stopped believing that I couldn’t do this.

Maybe it is just part of my nature.  I have never backed down from a challenge in my life, and I don’t intend to start anytime soon.  The only way to find out what I am capable of is to run hard and run fast to the edge of the cliff.

I haven’t fallen off yet.  Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been times when I would find myself dangling off the edge for a minute.  But I would quick pull myself back up.

It makes me think about the things we believe ourselves to capable of.  The mind games we play with ourselves to believe that we are not enough to do a certain thing or to be a certain type of person.  Yes, maybe right now you aren’t enough, but that doesn’t mean that you could never be enough.  If you are unqualified, then jump in the water and become qualified.  You may find yourself in 9 months wondering why you ever doubted your abilities in the first place. 

paralegal

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

**** I was recently talking to a good friend who I asked to give me feedback on my blog.  He told me, “Its good but I am left feeling like I want to know more about you.”  Huh I guess I didn’t realize people would care about that stuff.  So I decided to write a series of memoirs about my life experiences, because I some how find myself doing things like catching chickens in Africa or running to stop a fight among inmates.  Speaking of which . . . 

Up next is Memoirs of a Prison Intern where I flash back to my days working in a penitentiary. 

Thank you for reading,  and please feel free to comment below.  If there are any stories you have that you would like to share, or any stories from my life you would like to read about please let me know.