Monthly Archives: December 2015

Why The Olive?

Getting ready to climb in bed early this New Year’s, I find myself watching the ball drop in Times Square. What a mess… all that confetti must be a bitch to clean up.

 

Weird how I focus on that part…

 

Anyway, I felt the need to write a little something to start off the coming year.

 

Apparently, this is what comes to mind:

 

On Christmas, a very dear friend of mine stopped by my work and gave me some homemade tamales. (They didn’t stand a chance, those scrumptious little meat pillows. I love tamales. They never stay long in my house.) While eating those delicious morsels of happiness, I came across the lonely little olive tucked inside the middle. Being as I do not like olives of any kind, I simply plucked it out and pushed it aside. Out of the dozen (or two) that I consumed, every single olive ended up in the trash.

 

This got me thinking…

 

Not being familiar with the reasoning behind placing a single olive in the middle of a tamale, I started to ponder its purpose. For those such as myself who dislike olives, it’s almost as if it’s a reminder of how much waste is in my life. That olive is there to bring up all those little things that I’ve done without or thrown away unnecessarily. It’s everything that I’ve walked away from or the opportunities that I never grabbed ahold of. On the contrary, for those who like olives, it seems as if it’s there to tease. It’s the lack of satisfaction or always wanting more. The more I thought about it, the more metaphors invaded my mind…

 

This logic could even expand into other areas beyond food…

 

It marks the pointlessness of excess in every form that drowns us in regret. It’s that extra bite that puts you past a responsible eater, into the realm of a fat kid, and ends up leaving you sick and motionless. It’s the one insult too many when fighting with a loved one, the one purchase too many that maxes out your credit card, or that one drink too many that makes you go home with what’s-his-face. Somehow, the olive started to represent more than just an olive. It meant that we’ve been going a little too far beyond the extravagant into a world of ridiculous. We have relinquished our simplicity to an overwhelming complication that has stemmed from nothing in particular. We used to be able to shrug it off. That extra stroke of eyeliner became a routine. Who cares if we add one more staple, exclamation point, or emoticon? Towards the end, we all became that overeager teenage girl that just cannot stop texting her crush. The worst part is, we stopped caring how desperate it made us look. We got used to the extensions of uselessness. When asked, “Why?” we always responded with, “Why not?”

 

I’m here to offer a different version of that question. I offer a glimpse into the insightful from something so meaningless. This is a chance for us to cut back on the pointless and take back our logic. We will go back to having purpose and reasoning for every action. As an exercise in new beginnings, whenever you feel the need to go one step too far, try asking yourself, “Why the olive?”

 

I have since learned that the single olive in the middle of a tamale is some variation of a lucky or peaceful gesture. It’s a surprise in an already happy package (or, at least, for some). For me, however, it has become so much more. I have finally found a reason for olives to exist.

 

You see, ever since Christmas, whenever a customer comes into my work with a bit of extra snarky in their voice or my daughter repeats a joke just one time too many, the only thought that pops into my head is…

 

…Why The Olive?

 

I hope you take this with you into 2016. Maybe we can start removing the pointlessness in our lives and, in turn, better ourselves. This is me (in the only way I know how) wishing you and everyone you know a happy, healthy, and olive-less New Year.


The Air Feels Free Today

(Yes, this is a personal post about an accomplishment that might not mean much to anyone but myself. And Yes, I am posting it anyway. Regularly scheduled programming will resume momentarily.)

 

After a long pause, I offer this brief celebration:

 

This morning, I submitted my withdrawal from Welfare.

 

I’ve never taken a breath that deep in my life…

 

There are many people out there that would find this completely insignificant. To them, it is my duty as an American to stop using their taxes for my well-being. I have been a lazy, good-for-nothing, money stealing, ingrate for most of my life and it’s about time that I learned my lesson…or so some would say. To those people my reply is this: take that opinion, wad it up in some steel wool, and shove it down that contemptuous throat of yours. Those who know me are very aware of how much of a struggle this has been for me. The constant insecurity of having to ask for help has been overwhelming and, while I know that there are far worse things in the world, it has been a kind of slow torture. Welfare has been that thing clawing at my insides as a beastly reminder of my incompetency. It has held me captive for so long by beating my will to a pulp. I have longed for independence and now, by the force of obligatory dissatisfaction, this tireless (often depressing) battle against my suffocating leash has ended. I have never wanted to settle there. I have always wanted more. That, to me, is my duty as an American.

 

I have fought and worked my bones down to their fibers to get here and while I still do not have much of anything financially, I can now say that I do have my freedom. There is no one monitoring my every move besides myself. I can now wipe my own ass without requiring a reason in writing. The most celebratory part of all of this is the fact that I am the sole physical factor in my victory. While I was extremely lucky (and eternally grateful) for the support I received along the way, nothing I have done was coerced or involuntary in any way. I chose to be here, with a job that I wished never to be at again, a forgotten degree, and a mounting debt. Like every other hard working American, I take a step up the ladder. A slow and excruciating step but a step nonetheless. With the few things that I have accomplished in my life, this feels like a big one. 2015 marks the end of my relationship with the Department of Economic Security. I can now teach my daughter the value of independence and self-reliance, from experience. There is no greater gift than the ability to stand tall. I plan on celebrating this moment today by taking in an even deeper breath of free air…

 

…then I will get back to work at reaching the next step.

 

Sincerely,

This Former Welfare Dependent Single Mother

(It is the small victories that push us forward.)