How I Got Fired From Osco Drug Store

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I don’t know what made my mind go back to this memory this morning, but I woke up remembering in sharp detail the events surrounding being fired from my first job.
I started working for Osco Drug Store in Terre Haute when I was just 16. I worked there for 2 years stocking shelves, providing customer service and running the cash register. I was heavily involved in music in school, but they were very good with scheduling as long as I let them know what days I needed and showed proof of the event. In my 2nd year with Osco, I was written up because I had to use a sick day for a band parade that wasn’t on the original agenda. I worked with this very spiteful and mean woman named Phoebe. She found out that I had lied about being sick so that I could go march in the parade, went to the manager to tell, and I got written up. I cried.

When I was 18, I left to go work at Paul Harris, but that job underwent a change in management that left many employees without any hours for months. Then, the schedule for the next month came out and I was on it working 30+ hours a week! (While in High School.) One of the work days was the same day as the State Solo and Ensemble Finals, for which I had qualified. After being rejected the day off, I put in my 2 weeks notice…since the date was more than 2 weeks away.

Then I went back to Oscos (a year later) and asked for my job back. And they rehired me. We went through a store move at that time and the store was moved to a temporary place in the Honey Creek Mall, then we moved everything to the big building. It was an exciting summer. I got to work at a few other area Oscos, do different kinds of work as we set up the store, and meet employees of the other stores – which were surprisingly much nicer and easier to work with than some of the people my store.

Another year and a half at Osco, and I had been trained for the photo department. At this time, my hair was very very long, and I needed a scrunchie to pull it back whenever I developed pictures so that my hair would not get into the photo developing chemicals or get pulled into the negatives machine. I left this scrunchie inside a shelf behind the photo counter, but must have forgotten it at work one day. I was written up for leaving my personal effect at the workplace. I felt I was being treated unjustly.

Later that year, a friend of my parents was to get married and I was asked to play piano and sing the special music for their big day. I was happy to take this role, and spent a good deal of time preparing their music and rehearsing so that everything would be perfect. Even though I didn’t usually work on Saturday mornings, I verbally told Phoebe (the schedule maker) about the upcoming event date so that I could have the day off, but when the schedule came out, I was on it for that day and time. I asked Phoebe if it could be changed, and she insisted that because I didn’t put my request in writing it would NOT be changed, as a matter of PRINCIPLE! No problem, I thought. In the past, if you could find a replacement for your shift it was ok. And I had 2 weeks before the wedding day. My friend Kristy quickly agreed that she could work that day, but Phoebe said ‘no’ because it would give her enough hours to bump her from part time into full time hours. Kristy suggested that we just exchange shifts then, so that I would be working one of her days and there would be no change in the hours. Phoebe very crossly pinned the schedule back to the board and said NO. Any changes had to go through her. All week, every time I came in, I talked to the management about how I had to play for someone’s WEDDING on that day, and they were going to HAVE to find a replacement, or allow Kristy and I to switch shifts, because I couldn’t tell my family’s friend that I wasn’t going to play their wedding only 2 weeks before it. (And I had already invested so much time in preparing it!)
They would not change the schedule, as a matter of PRINCIPLE. The day before the wedding I worked, and during my shift I talked to Mark Monahan, the manager, and reminded him that I would not be able to come in because I had a wedding to play piano for. He was not in agreement. (This was not his first time hearing about the issue.)

Saturday morning, I called in. I said, “I’m not sick and you know it. I have a wedding I need to play piano for and I’m not coming in to work.” The response on the phone, “Ok.”

When I came in to look at the new schedule the following week, my name wasn’t there. I asked Pete, a supervisor, why my name wasn’t on the schedule. He said, “You don’t work here anymore.” Suddenly, standing behind the photo counter, I felt like an imposter in a place where I should not be. I asked, “Really?” and Pete said, “Yeah” and shrugged. I started crying and turned around to leave. I was mad. I was sad. I had wasted nearly 4 years of my life working for less than $7 an hour with a half dozen older employees who had only been mean and disrespectful to me, and a general manager who had been rarely present but unforgiving.

I started to cry. They were selling hangers in a big box near the checkout, a few of which caught on my clothing as I was walking out. I turned around and started to pick them up. (while crying…) Then I stopped and said, “I don’t work here anymore.” I left one package of hangers on the floor, and walked out.

Nobody ever called me from Osco Drug Store. There was no other meeting or phone call to discuss my termination. Years later, I received a notice from a service called “Unclaimed Money” which informed me that my last paycheck was still there. I believe I eventually convinced them to mail it to me. When I applied for a job at Drury Inn, the kind interviewer informed me that Osco Drug Store did NOT give me a good reference. She hired me anyway.

It’s been a little over 10 years since I was fired from Osco Drug Store, but I haven’t gone inside one to purchase anything. Not even once. And I probably never will.

Feelings On Spanking

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Today started with my sister sending me an IM on Facebook about her wedding planning. Wedding planning for most is tedious and slightly annoying, so I wasn’t surprised by what she is going through. I am surprised however, that I am so JEALOUS she is getting a wedding shower when I didn’t. Or that she is getting help with her wedding, since I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I want my family to help her. It’s the right thing to do. I just wish they had treated me differently when I was in that place in my life. I may have been a little sad about it at the time, but it’s surprising that it makes me more sad now that I’m seeing the contrast as my sister goes through her life with a much different upbringing than what I experienced. I’m working on my feelings of jealousy.

One of the major differences…is our father. We have the same dad, but by the time she was 10, Mom had remarried and while our Dad was still a visitor in her life, he didn’t have the same presence as he did with me.

Which makes me remember the spanking.

I’m usually a very private person, my blog posts I keep fairly public-safe and as commercially acceptable as possible, but this morning I am compelled to dig a little bit deeper. To be a little more truthful. To share things in words that I’ve been hiding within songs and chord progressions for 20 years. Maybe others have the same experience, and my sharing will help you find ways to cope. Or maybe, like me, you’re a parent now and have a spirited child but a resistance to ever spank.

I’ve spanked Zoey before. She can be a very compliant and agreeable 2 year old sometimes, but will often challenge boundaries by directly disobeying as I say “No” as sternly as possible. The first spanking was for playing in the toilet. Both hands splashing in the toilet water. I knew I’d closed the lid…and I told her to “stop”. I removed her from the bathroom and cleaned her up. I kept the toilet lid down from them on, but she opened it. I closed the bathroom door, but sometimes people would forget, and she would be found splashing in the toilet again. Several times I had changed her clothes and cleaned her up after her play in the toilet, and told her quite sternly not to do it anymore. She refused to stop…then, one day when I walked in on her splashing in the toilet water, I felt in that moment that what she was doing could be putting her in contact with E-coli and a host of other horrible bacteria and germs, and I spanked her. I gave her butt a single swat. The overwhelming waves of personal guilt followed next. The words of Dr. Sears rang through my head, “How does being spanked make you feel?”…In my head I answered, “Unloved. Inferior. Helpless. Sad.” No parent wants their child to feel these things, and so I felt a lump in my throat and a huge burden of guilt for the swat on her butt, which did make her stop playing in the toilet. And she doesn’t play in the toilet now.

Since then, my occasionally defiant 2 year old has been spanked only for things where I’ve tried every other method and nothing has worked. Still, every time I feel immense guilt. And recently, if a spank must be deployed, I immediately think of my father, hitting me.

My relationship with Dad was a complicated one. I loved him, and I always felt that he loved me while growing up. When I was little he was by far my favorite parent, which I have to remind myself of when I start pouting to myself about not being the favorite child between my sister and I….because I too have had feelings of a “favorite”, so whether it’s Karma or just the balance of life, it is the way things are. I loved my Dad, But when he was angry, he couldn’t control himself.

This is where I usually delete everything I’ve written and write about something less controversial.

I’ve been spanked for as far back as I remember, and the spankings stopped when I was about 20. Yes, 20. The difference in the spanking “style” is what stands out to me most. I would be slapped 10, 20, sometimes 30 times in a spanking “session”, as I cried and covered my face and tried to move further away. Then the spankings became because I was crying. So I would have to hold my cries in, and endure a few more slaps until it would stop. At the beginning of spankings I began trying to not cry, but then they just got harder and more painful, because a spanking apparently can’t stop without some tears having been shed. Usually I was spanked because my room was messy. Sometimes it was for a bad teenage attitude. But for the most part, I can’t remember why. They were the normal, day-to-day offenses.

When a grown man hits a teenage girl in the face as hard as he can, it leaves a mark. Every time.

I had only one teacher when I was growing up that pulled me aside to ask questions about the marks he saw on me. I was relieved that it didn’t become more of an issue at the time, but it also instilled in me a belief that the people surrounding me do not care about me, or what I was going through. Whether that was true or not, the underlying feeling I had during that time in my life was that Nobody cares about you. You are worthless.

And then, the bruise would heal, the hand prints all over my thighs would fade away, our family would dutifully go to church where people would praise me for my supposedly “angelic” voice, and my family could pretend that everything was right behind our front door, and I would become “normal” again. Whatever that is.

Whenever I start talking like this, people try to silence me. And it usually works. I consider that I’m oftentimes wrong, and question my judgement. I am told that my words will hurt my father or prevent him from getting a job, and that I should stay quiet about it. For some reason, erasing true stories from the world doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

I don’t consider myself an emotionally damaged person because of these weekly beatings in my childhood. I don’t have huge issues with trust like some people do, and I don’t feel that my entire childhood has been destroyed because of it. There are many facets to a person’s childhood, and the relationship with parents is just one parameter of that experience. It hasn’t destroyed me. What it has destroyed is my relationship with my parents.

And this is why I have overwhelming pangs of guilt when my resources for teaching have run dry and I have to administer a spank for my child. I fear destroying our relationship, and our bond. But the spanking “style” is different. I don’t spank in anger, possibly due to the help of St. John’s Wort and the occasional sip of wine from the refrigerator. I don’t scream that she is worthless, useless, lazy, or any other words that would tear down herself esteem and make her feel inferior. The spank alone gives enough emotions to deal with.

I think I’ll go have a little sip of that wine right now.

What To Eat When You Have To Sing

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A while back, a friend of mine was having some vocal problems because of health related issues. The topic of what to eat when one has to sing came up. since then, I have been thinking more about this common question.
I could easily have titled this post, “what not to eat when you have to sing”. The list of things to not eat when one has to sing is short, but encompasses a wide range of foods for some.

1. Don’t eat foods that cause excessive mucus. (for many people this includes dairy products like milk. Some people have sinus reactions to garlic and onions and spicy food.)
2. Don’t eat foods that you have sensitivities too. (onions, chocolate, and cheeses tend to give me headaches.)
3. Don’t eat foods that dehydrate your vocal chords. (caffeine, and overly salty foods sometimes do this.)
4. Don’t eat foods that will make you burp. (sodas, and many vegetables)
5. Don’t eat foods that give you gas.
6. don’t drink so much that you will have to P during your performance.

Sounds pretty limiting, doesn’t it? Even though I graduated as a voice student, the subject of what to eat on performance days rarely comes up. I feel like it is probably different for each person. It’s also different for each performance.

For example, maybe you have some Idell songs to sing, and spicy food will help to swell up your vocal cords enough to get all those low notes and provide the roughness to your voice that you need. Or maybe you are singing really high opera, and a little caffeine might help to tighten things up for the high notes.

As for me, lemon and honey have never been necessary unless I was sick. And my perfect food of choice for singing days… Eggs. Some people claim that eggs make them gassy, but I’ve never had this problem with eggs, and for me they are a very neutral food with enough proteins to keep me from getting hungry, but without any of the negative effects of other foods.
Know your voice. Know your body. And know your music.

Categories: Music Blogs

Passionate Relationships with Songs

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I think my relationships with songs are very much like relationships with lovers. When we first meet (or I first write the song), I have to get to know the song a little bit, to decide if I like it or not. Once I bump into the song a few times (play it), then I start to grow fond. Then, something sparkly and unexplainable happens and I fall head over heels in love. All day long I think about that song and all the things I would like to DO with it…til the moment I sit down at the piano or grab a guitar and the song and I are passionately reunited.

The beginning of the relationship is fun and exciting! I think this song is “the one” for me 4Ever! I spend a lot of time with it, and reveal all of it’s hidden secrets and intimacies hidden within it’s lyrics and scattered pitches. Maybe I change the song a little. That happens sometimes in relationships. And sometimes, the song changes me a little.

After a while though, *sigh* the song begins to grow too familiar and loses it’s sparkle. It’s almost like we begin to grow bored with each other. When I start playing your delicate pitches on the piano and crooning your notes and lyrics, it all feels too familiar, like there are no more crescendos, decrescendos, or vocal riffs to be discovered in you. Sometimes I try too hard to discover something new in you, and it ends badly. Eventually, it gets to the point where I see you on my set list at a show and think, “Oh… again.”

At that point, we (the song and I) usually decide to go our own ways and I go out in search of new material while the song disappears from my life. Sometimes for weeks…..Sometimes for years.

Then…..weeks, months, or years later….I happen to stumble on the song again. One of two things happens. Sometimes, my eyes glitter over and I think excitedly, “I remember YOUUUU!!!” I play the song, feeling the rush that I felt when we first “met” and it is a wonderful feeling to be reunited. We embrace with overwhelming passion and that familiar feeling draws us together again for a while.

But sometimes when I stumble upon a song again, I think, “Gawd, what did I ever see in YOU???”

Categories: Music Blogs

I’m a musician, but do I deserve it?

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Lately I find that when people ask me what I do, I’ve been telling them that I teach piano lessons. This is true, but I almost never share that I am a recording artist who sells CDs and writes original music. Today, I was thinking about my reasons for this kind of answer.  I guess I’m afraid that people will judge me. And more importantly, they will decide in their minds whether I am appropriate for being a recording artist or not. Some people may think that what I do is very immature, or something that teenagers do, like joining a Rock band with friends who don’t actually have instruments. 
More prominent in my mind though is the realization that I don’t look like the recording artists on the CD covers at Walmart. I’m over 25. I’m fat. I have a child. Sometimes I sweat.  Most of my clothes don’t have studs or sequins on them…. But mostly, it’s because I’m heavy.  While I am completely confident in my music and my abilities as a singer and pianist, I find that I have been hiding my performance abilities from some people because I’m afraid of their judgment.
I used to teach voice lessons at a conservatory, and I remember many of my students sharing similar feelings. These young girls felt that in order to be singers, they really needed to be thin and beautiful. And not just beautiful on the inside, but beautiful by today’s Hollywood standards. I remember teaching lessons to women in their 20s as well, and hearing constantly that they would love to perform, but they need to lose weight first. 
The girls themselves even judge other artists by their appearance before the music. I remember in one voice lesson, I played a YouTube video of Adele’s Version of “To Make You Feel My Love”, and after the video was through the student paused for an uncomfortable moment before she said, “she’s kind of… Fat.” my reply was to tell her that I didn’t care how fat Adele was, that her singing was what was important. I remember asking, “but don’t you think her voice is amazing?” 
I think it’s sad that the factors of physical beauty have become part of the art of music. I think it’s sad that when I give my CD to someone, or share my music with them, I do so in an apologetic way. I feel like I hand the CD over while saying,”here’s my CD, I’m sorry I’m so fat.” 
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions anymore, but this year I would like to try to own my talents and little better. I deserve to be a recording artist. I deserve to create music and art, just as any other being on this planet deserves to follow what they enjoy. Life is a finite thing. It doesn’t last forever and we should spend it doing what we enjoy most.
So, do I deserve the life that I have and the talents that I’ve been given? Damn straight I do.

Categories: Music Blogs