Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

There Will Be Blood July 12, 2012

This weekend is Chris’s family reunion.

Which is a milestone.

Which is awesome, right? Because we all know how I love milestones. And its a pretty big one as far as these things go.

What’s less awesome are the activities associated with this family reunion.

When Chris first told me about this event he prefaced it by saying “My family isn’t a sitting family, like yours.”

I was like “Huh? What else is there to do when you get together with your family aside from sit around and talk and tell stories?”

Well, a lot, apparently.

Saturday morning we meet at 8am to get into a van that will drive us to the top of a mountain, where we will get on mountain bikes and ride down the mountain along a 17 mile trail (which is not actually entirely down hill. Bike peddling will need to occur.)

I have a few issues with this. They are, in no particular order: 1. the down a mountain part, 2. the being on a bike part. 3. the 17 mile part. 4. the 8am part.

Plus, we have only two hours to do it, non-negotiable, because then we have to get cleaned up to get the picnic. Which means “Suck it up” and “Push through the pain” and “that’s barely bleeding at all” will be phrases I expect to hear frequently.

Then there’s the picnic. Which is the real heart of this reunion, with dozens upon dozens of Chris’s family members.  And in case that wouldn’t be anxiety producing enough on its own, there is also rock climbing involved.

Now, when Chris first explained this day to me, I thought he said that we have to climb these rocks/cliffs/instruments of death in order to get to the picnic.

That’s the part where I started to cry. Seriously.

Now he has clarified that we drive to the picnic but that the rock climbing is just an activity that people do. Which makes me feel much better, because I’m sure not everyone will participate, so I’m going to become BFF’s with whoever seems least inclined to impersonate a billy goat. That way, I can be all “I’d love to climb that big rock, but I feel bad leaving my new Soul Sister. Sorry!”

After the picnic, there are fireworks. This part I’m actually looking forward to. I love fireworks. From a distance. So I’m going to let Chris go with his cousins up to the hill and set things on fire, while I sit back at the house with my BFF from the picnic and try not to imagine all the different types of death by pyrotechnics that can occur.

Sunday morning we get back in the car to drive home. Assuming I haven’t been hospitalized.

Talking, sitting, and storytelling are really my only solid skills. And if Chris came from a normal family, AKA a “sitting family”, I would have only the normal level of anxiety about meeting all his people.

But instead I keep picturing myself being introduced to a family member with my face red and splotchy from the heat, my hair in a wild disarray (possibly with some leaves in it) dirt smeared across one cheek, and so out of breath, either from the activity or the anxiety attack brought on by the activity, that I won’t even be able to engage in conversation. Which, if you remember, is the only thing I bring to the party on a good day.

My biggest fear is that at some point, maybe while I’m trying to arrange a helicopter to pick me up from the side of the mountain, or while I’m digging a trench in the grass  with my heals as Chris drags me toward the climbing cliffs, that someone, or perhaps even several someones, will say “Why’d he have to bring HER?”

Ok, that person likely be me.

But at least I should get some good stories out of it. Near death experiences usually make for good material.

Assuming I live.

 

New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report July 2, 2012

Remember back at the beginning of the year when my bossy know it all, very wise BFF, over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for me? Well, since we’re about half way through the year, we thought it was time for a progress report.

I have to admit, I took these resolutions much more seriously than I’ve ever taken any of the resolutions I’ve ever written for myself. I’m not saying my success rate will be any higher, but I definitely thought about them a lot more and have more guilt over the ones I ignored failed to achieve. Although, the year isn’t over yet, and like in grade school, a progress report is nothing more than a heads up to get your act together. I expect to report nothing different great things at the end of the year. And also like  school progress reports and professional performance evaluations, I’m full up on defensiveness an creative explanations.

Behold:

1) Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Technically, I didn’t do this. BUT, I would like to encourage a more liberal than literal interpretation, in which case I’m not doing too bad.  I moved out of the crazy place I was living in, and into a (so far)  nice normal place, and I like the room very much and feel more comfortable and more at home there than I ever did in my last place. And Chris gave me a key to his place, which made me feel more at home there as well, so I think if you add up my place and his place, I’m at least more settled and anchored than I was when this was written. Grade: B-, and I suggest that it get carried over for next year. Bonus Points: my room is actually quite neat and orderly, which I’ll bet no one saw coming:

2) Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

I do a pretty good job of this although, in all honestly I could probably be a little better. Grade: B+. Bonus Points:  I NEVER talk while I’m driving without my hands free device.

3) Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I’d like to say I thought about this resolution a lot, but really, any achievements I’ve made on this point are coincidence. But that still totally counts. So, I got back into Pilates, and its made a huge difference in how my body and I get along.  Chris and I have also made an effort to be active as much as possible on the weekends, and I can now hike 3 miles without wanting to stab him in the eye, so that’s something. We also joined a gym (that’s technically still under construction, but whatever) but I’m very excited for their big indoor pool and Pilates/yoga room. OH, and I’ve also gotten really good at following my new low sugar, gluten-free diet and have learned more about what my body responds best too.  Most significantly I’ve learned that if I under-eat by even a few hundred calories a day, my body will retaliate by swelling up like a water balloon. So I don’t do that anymore. Grade: A. Bonus Points: I’ve taught myself to like buckwheat granola. Its got all kinds of raw, and “sprouted seeds” in it, which are super healthy (apparently) but taste suspiciously like dirt.

4) Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I totally get a pass on this one because it would be weird if I had decorated a Christmas tree between January and July. Ohhhh, but if I was smart, I totally would have gotten a tree and decorated it, just so I could get an A+ on this one. Damnit. Grade: N/A.

5) Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Ummm, well. Ok, here’s the thing. I have written a couple of essays that would go with the book, but then I started rethinking the focus of the book, and then I got caught up in learning how to publish books, which is totally going to help us when we do finish this book. And that is taking up every minute of my free time right now, so… technically, the book hasn’t moved forward. BUT because I’m becoming an expert at publishing and promotion, once we do finish the book, everything else will go so much faster. Grade: C++

6) Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

I think I’ve made some progress here. I’m much more comfortable with the whole “grown up relationship” thing than I was this time last year, or even six months ago. I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself. Most of the time. Grade: A- (But maybe I should actually have Chris grade me on this one?)

7) On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

I’m working on it, and as I said above, I’m getting better. But I still have attacks of insecurity that make me ask, in all seriousness, if the fact that I don’t like roller coasters will one day make him feel like he settled. I see now the absurdity of that question, but at the time, it felt really reasonable. And I’m totally better at the planning for the future thing. I mean, I signed a year contract at the same gym as him for Pete’s sake.   Grade: B- Bonus Points: For doing this.

8) Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on YouTube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I’m assuming you define “keep storytelling” as getting on stage and telling stories. Which I did. Once this year. BUT, if we define “keep storytelling” as “stay a part of the community, keep learning about the craft, keep finding new ways to stretch myself creatively” then I’m rocking this. So far this year I’ve: taught one class and one boot camp, directed my first show, started writing a weekly column for the SpeakeasyDC blog, which, by the way I also started and am the Managing Editor of, so…  Grade: A-.

9) Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

I wish! I want a kitten so bad. One that will cuddle with me, and chase imaginary bugs along the wall, and let me make funny YouTube videos of her…but kittens aren’t allowed at either of the places where I live. So really I’ve made the responsible choice in not following this resolution. Grade: A Bonus Points: I haven’t bought a stuffed kitten yet that I pretend is real.

10) Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

I have plans. It’s not time for this yet, but I have plans. Grade: C+

11) Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I think about, and reference this resolution ALL THE TIME.  Usually when I’m crying incoherently. I think I’ve made some progress… Ok, so I WAS crying when I asked Chris about feeling like he’s settled for me over the roller coaster thing, BUT I was not crying incoherently. Grade: C-

12) Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This might not happen. I was going to go to Denmark again this summer, but the discount airline stopped flying from the US, and as of now I can’t afford to pay normal airline prices to go to Europe. Plus, it ate up a lot of my vacation time last year and I’m kind of liking the idea of having flexibility for more domestic travel, like, ahem, trips to Charlotte, NC. For example. Grade: N/A Bonus Points: we could decide go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we go visit my parents in August.

13) Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

I think I’ve figured it out. I’m not ready to lay it out for public inspection yet, but I’ve got the makings of a plan and I think it’s a really good one. And might happen in less than three years. Grade: A+

14) Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Did we miss this? Because I’m totally in. Grade: N/A

15) Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I was totally going to do a 5K run thingy, but it sold out before I could register. But, I did go to a giant amusement park and rode several rides, including a roller coaster, which was WAY outside my comfort zone, (and technically required the use of my body – there was a lot of walking and climbing into and out of seats. Fun Fact: I’m super uncoordinated when it comes to climbing into and out of rides) and I’m going to go back and do it again at least two more times this summer. I’m also going to go kayaking more than once this year, maybe one time in a solo kayak even, and that is definitely outside my comfort zone and requires physical exertion.  Grade: B

16) Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

False. I AM a grouchy misanthrope, and my co-workers and anyone who calls my office will back me up on this. Grade: F

17) And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

Since I don’t like people very much its very easy for me to walk away from people who don’t find me hilarious. Not that that’s ever happened, mind you, but if it did, they’d be history in a nano second. Grade: A


You can go read her progress report on the resolutions I wrote for her, here. And I just want to say its totally not a competition.

(But if it were, I’d totally win.)

 

My First Job June 18, 2012

My first job ever was as my dad’s secretary. (This was the early 80’s – before the term Administrative Assistant came into use).

I was really little. So little in fact, I don’t remember how it started, I only know that the story goes that it was my idea, and I was around 3, maybe 4, and my main job responsibilities consisted of answering the phone (for real) and probably things like bringing stuff to my mom and moving things from one part of his office to another. But really, what I remember most in those early years is answering the phone.

Two things you should know: My dad has never been good at saying no to me, and his clients and colleagues had a very good sense of humor.  And the ones who knew my dad really well weren’t surprised he let his toddler answer the phone, and the ones who didn’t know him that well learned a lot about him from those few seconds of phone time with me. People who had a problem with me answering the phone probably weren’t going to get along with my dad very well.

As I got older I continued to be his “secretary” off and on, although it eventually became more of a running joke. When I got old enough to understand what answering the phone actually meant, I lost interest in it (an interest I’ve never really regained. Much to my current boss’s dismay).

Since I didn’t want to answer the phone anymore, my job description throughout most of elementary and middle school consisted of applying mailing labels and stamps to thousands of newsletters every month, (along with my mom and younger brother), at a rate of $.05/piece. (This was way before the days of electronic newsletters). When I got into high school I still had to help with the newsletters, but also got trained on the art of collating and using the binding machine so I could help make his training books and presentation materials. I probably got paid for that too, but I don’t remember how much. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it for the money anyway.

I was doing it because I was really bored. I wasn’t very popular in high school.

My dad was a Sales Trainer, which meant that he trained people how to become sales people, or how to become better sales people. He was self-employed and like many self-employed people, the work spilled over into other aspects of life. Child labor issues aside, my dad often relied on the principles and methods from his sales training to inform his parenting. It worked better than you might think. At some point I’ll blog about that specifically.

When I was an adult and starting my own business, I relied on that lifetime of sales training to help me get clients and close deals, and while ultimately I learned that I’m not a natural salesperson, I also learned I can do well enough to get by, but more than anything, the philosophies of his sales system really do double as useful life lessons.

Which is why, when my dad went into semi-retirement 3 years ago, he asked me to help him write a book about his sales system.  It seemed a natural fit because he had about 30 years worth of experience in his head, but no idea how to organize it into a book, and I liked to call myself a writer, but also knew the selling system, so theoretically could easily organize the information into a book.

We estimated it would be a roughly 3 month project.

Three years later, it’s finally done. But three months, three years, whose counting, right?

The important thing is that its done! AND it’s for sale on Amazon! Right now its only available in digital format, but will be available in paper back as well within a week or so.

My original plan had been to have it go on sale on Father’s Day, and surprise my dad with it,  but technology and the space time continuum conspired against me. But given the way this project has gone, one day late is basically ahead of schedule.

And the coolest part, aside from having had the chance to do this project with my dad, is that it’s given me the opportunity to learn a lot of new things.

I’ve learned that taking a pile of information and organizing it into a coherent, organized and universally accessible book is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve learned a lot about digital printing, and Amazon specifically.  I’ve learned the basics of a graphics program, and I’ve been inspired to starting to learning basic web design and language.

It feels good to be learning again, and I feel like this could be opening some potential new doors for me down the road.

It kinda feels like the whole, secretary at 3 years old thing, has come full circle in a way.

But anyway, if you have any interest in sales, or negotiation or even strong communication, you should check out the book – Sell More Easily, by Howard Maslich (edt. by Meredith Maslich).

And if you do happen to buy it, and read it, please leave a review on the Amazon site – that’s one of the fastest ways to increase its ranking. Which is important, because after three years, the ROI on this project needs to be really high. Really, really high.

 

Crazy Is On The Move June 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 1:08 pm

I hate moving. I know, I know. You’re all, “Tell me something interesting!”

But here’s the thing, I really believe that moving is a little extra traumatic for me than it is for normal people.

First, until recently, as in the last 2 years/moves, I was a pack rat (or “pre-hoarder” as I like to call it.)

Second, I hate change. In college I set my room up exactly the same way every year. Same posters by the desk, same nick-nacks on the dresser, and to this day I hang my clothes in the same order in the closet (dresses and pants on the right, shirts in the middle, sweaters and coats on the left. Obviously.)

Third, and I really think this is the kicker, I believe if you ignore something unpleasant it will eventually go away. And while this may be a fine strategy for dealing with strange lumps in your breasts and weird noises coming from your car engine, its terrible for moving.

And finally, take issue number two, add it with issue number three and moving day equals pure hell for everyone.

In the 14 years since I’ve graduated college I’ve moved 7 times. And the first 4  happened in the first  5 years and with my same group of friends helping me move each time.

And these friends would show up to my house on moving day, and find that I was not packed to their standards, and get really mad at me. Now, in my defense, the first 2 times I thought I was packed, but then kept discovering endless cupboards, closest and corners that I’d missed. So much scolding, yelling and judgmental glances accompanied the sweating and heaving of the day.

Each time a new moving day approached, I swore to myself, and my long-suffering friends, that I’d be better. And each time the number of cupboards and closets I’d forgotten decreased.

But then there were these mysterious packing rules that I kept violating. Like how self-contained, but small items, like a jewelry box or toaster, should still be put into a bigger box full of similar items. And breakable stuff is supposed to all be put together and clearly labeled FRAGILE so someone’s boyfriend doesn’t just toss my box of wine glasses willy nilly into the back of the truck, BUT you’re NOT supposed to put all your books in one box.

How am I supposed to keep all of that straight?

Each move I learned new rules and followed them on the next move, but no matter what, somehow I was never as ready to go when the U-Haul pulled in as I thought I was the night before.

Surveying my place the night before the move, I would see boxes neatly stacked and empty cupboards and closets.

The next morning I’d see chaos and small items that should have been consolidated, and more stuff that should have been thrown away, and generally at least another day’s worth of work to really be deemed “ready to move”.

I finally realized around move #5 that it was a trick my brain would play on me when I was tired of packing, or overwhelmed from the emotional toll of the change.

My brain is not as funny as it thinks it is.

And as the morning of Moving Day would dawn I’d be seized by angst and panic knowing that this would be another day filled with my friends scolding and mocking me in between fantasies of crushing me under my boxes.

When it was time for move #6, Chris and I had been dating for exactly 10 weeks. I was moving from a shared apartment into basically a single room in a town house. I had downsized to the point where everything fit comfortably inside a 4X8 trailer with room to spare.

Chris kept insisting that he and I could do the move alone. I explained that moving me is always a disaster. I explained about the years of lectures and threats to end friendships from other people who had moved me. He always responded with a variation of “You worry too much. I’m sure it will be fine.”

I wanted to believe him, but couldn’t trust that our fledgling relationship could handle the weight of all my possessions carried one at a time.

So I called in some favors and managed to get two friends to help us with the move, and thank god I did. Not so much because of the volume of stuff to be carried, but because having the extra people helped distract Chris’s attention when someone moved my closet door, or my bed, and uncovered a new pile of stuff I’d forgotten to pack.

Move #7 was last week. This time I was moving from a 10x9ft room into a 12X12 ft room. Again, Chris insisted that we could do it by ourselves, which was good since we ended up having to do it on a weekday afternoon which means that everyone has an iron clad excuse not to help.

I believed this move was going to be easy. I was 80% packed two weeks out, and the day before I honestly believed I was as ready as a person could possibly be. I’d even gotten a head start on the cleaning.

But I couldn’t trust my brain, it had let me down before.

The week leading up to the move I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating, and I had constant headaches from the tension in my neck and shoulders. Chris kept saying “Its going to be fine. As long as you’re really ALL packed,” or “Nothing is going to go wrong. As long as it’s not a repeat of last year where we kept finding things that weren’t packed.”

See? Even optimistic-everything-will-be-fine, Chris had started to turn.

I kept going over the list both out loud and in my head like a mantra: Every item was in a box or bag. Every box and bag was light enough that I could pick it up. Every piece of furniture was dusted, shelves were removed from book cases and contents emptied from drawers.

I. Was. Ready.

Except as mantras went, instead of calming me it made me more anxious. The stakes were higher than they’d ever been.

First, I was offering reassurance on a level I’d never done before, so if it turned out that, like every other move, I really wasn’t ready I was a liar as well as a terrible packer.

Second, if I wasn’t ready, and the move was another disaster, it was going to be Chris who was scolding me, and sighing in exasperation. Chris! Who has never scolded me or sighed in exasperation at me, despite ample opportunity.

The night before the move I had a nightmare that I was schizophrenic, and kept running around asking people what was true and what was real about my life.

I woke up with a horrible headache, and aching muscles from the ball of tension I’d pulled myself into while I slept.

Luckily we weren’t getting the truck until 12:30 so we didn’t have to miss a full day of work. Except I ended up calling in sick, worried that if I went into work I’d just sit at my desk and cry all morning from the stress. So I took a long hot shower, and cooked some scrambled eggs which I forced down over the knot in my stomach.

I went over to my place at 9 and moved half the contents of my room out into the hallway, staging them by the stairs. I didn’t know if we’d take the bed out first or last (that being another of those moving rules I never understand), so I just made sure it was ready to go either way. At 11:45 I couldn’t think of a single other thing to do, so I went back over to Chris’s to try to eat lunch (didn’t happen).

And guess what?

We had me moved out in 25 minutes flat. It was, for the first time in my life, an organized and relatively easy move. Because of the layout of the new place it took a little longer to unload, but we had the truck back to the U-haul place barely 3 hours after we’d rented it, and that included a 20 minute drive each way to the U-haul place.

This might count as one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to date.

Don’t judge.

And you know what else? Chris and I work really well together. Which I kind of already knew, but moving is exhausting and fraught with frustration and opportunities to fuss at each other. Even at the end, when we were both so hot and sweaty and tired, and Chris’s bad shoulder had basically given out, and I was starving and light headed from not eating lunch and it looked like my box spring wasn’t going to make it into the room, thereby ruining our record for the most perfect move ever, we remained a team. And that is no small thing.   And I think it was because we both stayed calm and kept working together that we were eventually able to figure out a way to get my box spring into the room.

And I know that the next question on everyone’s lips, is “where did you move and are you living with Chris?”

And the answer is no, Chris and I did not move in together.

But that is a topic for another blog 🙂

 

If You Can’t Beat ’em… April 16, 2012

I had a little run in with Chris’s crazy neighbor the other day. Remember her?  Well for the last year she’s gone out of her way to avoid talking to me, even as she went out of her way to talk to everyone else, including Chris’s daughters and their friends, routinely holding them captive on the sidewalk or half inside their cars.

But apparently she’s had a change of heart.

It started small – one day last week I passed her on the sidewalk and she made a random comment about something to do with her kids and playing in the parking lot.  I offered an unconvincing laugh and something along the lines of “oh… hmmm” as I continued walking. She called something else after me as I turned the corner so I gave an even less convincing head nod and vague hand wave as I continued on my way. (At that point it occurred to me at perhaps Chris and his girls simply aren’t rude enough.)

Then this week, as I walked up the sidewalk toward Chris’s house, she came out of her house, her gaze locked on me, and I knew with certainty that we were going to have a conversation.

Part of me was a little excited that I was going to get a “Neighbor Lady” story of my own to share when everyone else told theirs.

As we came face to face in front of her car, she reached out to put her hand on my arm, surprising me so much that I froze in my tracks, thus eliminating any small hope of escape that might have existed.

“Can you talk to Chris about,” she said, and my brain immediately shifted into slow motion and several things moved through my mind:

“She has a problem with Chris?”

“How can she have a problem with Chris? Nobody ever has a problem with Chris.”

“What could this bitch possibly have to say about my boyfriend, and why does her tone suggest I’m his mother?”

“Should I set my bags down in case I need to scratch her eyes out?”

And then I realized she was still talking, so I clicked my brain back into gear and rewound the tape so I could get the rest of her sentence. Which was:

“…about recycling.”

Ok, so I should explain. Chris doesn’t actually recycle. I know, its shocking and you’re probably suddenly worried that you’ll be guilty by association for reading a blog by a person who is in a relationship with a person who doesn’t recycle. (Don’t pretend you weren’t doing it.) I don’t want to get sidetracked from this story with a meta discussion about social shame and recycling, so I’ll just say that I asked him why he doesn’t recycle a few months ago, and what I took from the conversation is that he’s not adamantly opposed to recycling like some right-wing nut who thinks it’s another way for the government to control us. It’s more that he sees it as just one more thing to coordinate and deal with on top of all the other things he has to deal with and coordinate in his life. I got the impression that if someone else wanted to take responsibility for it, he wouldn’t object.

So back to my conversation with the Neighbor Lady.

Once I process her statement, I realize she’s staring at me waiting for a response. My liberal shame and social guilt is quickly replaced with glee as I realize she’s giving me blog content.

Me: oh yeah…um, well… sure…

NL: Because really, he should recycle. Why doesn’t he recycle?

Me: Yeah…I don’t know. He’s quirky like that.

NL: I can get him a bin. I think if we just make it really easy for him, we can get him to do it.

Did you see what she did there? “If WE just make it really easy for him.” WE. Apparently she and I are now a team. Apparently since she couldn’t get rid of me, she’s going to partner up with me.

My personal opinions on recycling are replaced by my desire to not be a team with her.

Me: ah? uh huh…

NL: I went through his garbage the other day and I noticed that it’s mostly plastics and so if he even just started with that…

Yes, she said that. Unabashedly. I had to contain my glee at how good a story this was going to be.

Me: yeah…he does use a lot of plastic…

I say this just to have something to say, but I then immediately feel disloyal. Saying something like that is not going to demonstrate that I’m on Chris’s team, not hers.

NL: I mean, if he just did plastics and maybe some cans…

Me: yeah, that would make a difference

Crap! I’m the worst teammate ever. I’m torn between getting away and getting more material.

NL: But really, why won’t he recycle?

Me: ahh, yeah. I don’t know…he has a thing about it…?

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but this is actually me being a good teammate. I’m not going to explain to her why he’s not recycling because that will reveal too much about him. But I’m also not willing to engage her in a conversation about the reasons against recycling because that will make it look like I care what she thinks.

NL: You know, if he doesn’t start recycling its going to make the trash pick up cost more. You need to talk to him! For everyone’s sake. They’re already doing it in Alexandria. 

Me: Oh really? I’ll tell him that.

Part of me is shamefully, secretly, enjoying her presumption that I have power over Chris – a presumption based in a recognition of my legitimacy as his long-term girlfriend. She’s gone from inviting Chris to the singles group at her church, to assuming I’m the kind of woman who is in charge of her man. I have this urge to go with it, to let us be those suburban women who stand on the sidewalks of their subdivisions, possibly with a glass of wine in the early evening, talking about “our men” and how hard it is to keep them in line.

.

Worst. Teammate. Ever.

.

NL: You know he has daughters? Who are educated!

Her tone implies this could be new information for me. I hate her again. I start to walk away.

Me: yes, he certainly does.

NL: They are going to college. They understand…

Me: yes, they do go to college…

Now I’m laughing. I’m suddenly giddy with how ridiculous this conversation is, how much material she’s feeding me. I want to ask her again about going through the garbage, but instead I keep walking.

NL: Tell him to recycle for them! So they are proud…

Unmoved by the argument, I keep moving, not looking back at her.

NL: They’ll get married some day! I assume. They are going to have babies. And those babies are going to want a grandpa who recycles!

This makes me stop, and I look at her for a second, tempted to tell her that of all her arguments, that’s her worst. There are few topics more likely to agitate Chris than talking about him becoming a grandpa, and all that that implies.

I try to stop laughing long enough to give some sort of appropriate response. But then decide that laughing is probably as appropriate a response as any.

She’s yelling things after me as I walk away, things about how she teaches recycling in the schools and can teach him. I offer a vague wave of my hand as I continue walking away, trying not to skip in my excitement to tell this story to Chris.

.

Of course, I’m sure you all now realize that as long as Chris lives there, he can never, ever, start recycling.

Sorry Earth, but seriously, what did you expect?  I’m a terrible teammate.

 

Two Timing March 22, 2012

Dear Tiny Bit of Crazy,

I’ve been neglecting you. I know this. But I have an excuse.

I hope you’ll hear me out.

At first it might seem like a bad thing, but if you keep an open mind, I think you’ll see, this is good for everyone.

So, the truth is… I’ve been writing for another blog. But not just any blog, and not just writing either… I’m the managing editor for an awesome new blog about storytelling. Its SpeakeasyDC’s blog. I’ve been working on it for a few months, and it just launched this week.

I’ve only written two posts so far, but I’ve spent all the rest of my time finding the other posts, editing them, thinking of new themes and ongoing series to make sure there would always be fresh content. Making sure it doesn’t get stale, or look neglected.

What’s that you say? Like you? Oh.

Oh, well, yeah. I guess so. But only because I’ve learned from you, learned how not having reliably fresh content can kill the momentum. See? I’m better because of you.

But I’m not leaving you, I swear. You’ll always be part of my life, you’ll always be the first place I turn to record all the crazy. I promise. But this other blog is new, its young and it needs me more. But it won’t always be this way, I promise.

But I’ve also learned something in my time away. As much as I love you, TBoC, I’ve always struggled with an internal debate between being a blogger and a Blogger. Being a Blogger requires much more effort, much more intention not to mention attention, and I’ve been afraid to make that commitment, afraid I wouldn’t be able to follow through. I just don’t have as much source material as niche bloggers, like those lucky mommy bloggers for example.

What? Oh yeah,thing did start to look better for a minute after Ambien Chris came on the scene, but there’s only so far that could have taken us.

But aside from the issue of source material, which I think falls into the attention category, I’ve never been sure if I’d want to be a Blogger even if I had the content, which is the intention, I think. As I talked about here, I think I’m happier behind the scenes. And my time with the SpeakeasyDC blog has helped me to confirm that.

I’ve loved the time I’ve spent thinking about topics, coordinating writers, editing posts and figuring out my editorial calendar. On a bad day, editing someone’s blog, discussing a new series, or obsessing over the editorial calendar cheers me up.

But it won’t always require this much of my time, I swear. Pretty soon habits will be in place, routines created, short cuts identified, and content stock piled. And then I’ll be back, TBoC, I’ll be back. Not that I’ve ever really even left you. I think of you daily, writing posts for you in my head several times a day. I just haven’t been able to sneak away and write them.

Except for this one, so hey! maybe this is the beginning of the shift! Maybe the worst is over and before we know it we’ll be back to our old ways, spending hours together, obsessing over witty phrases, when to isolate a line for emphasis, and which tags will offer the best SEO.

Just like old times. Only better, because now I know myself better, I know what I want to be when I grow up, and that can only be in both our best interests.

Take a look at what I’ve been doing while I’ve been gone. I think you’ll like it. Or at least respect it.

This is going to be a weekly column (don’t get jealous – I’m not nearly as funny there as I am here) – http://www.speakeasydc.com/2012/03/social-storytelling-vs-performance-storytelling/

and then this one :http://www.speakeasydc.com/2012/03/choose-your-words-carefully/

And just know, Tiny Bit of Crazy, whatever else happens, you’ll always be my first love. That’s got to count for something, right?

Faithfully,

Mer

 

 

Ambien Conversations March 6, 2012

credit to toothpastefordinner.com

Last night, Chris took his Ambien, but then failed to fall asleep for almost an hour. Here are some of the things we talked about.

Me: Why aren’t you asleep yet?

Ambien Chris: I probably am. Everything’s all sparkly.

****

AC: (snuggling up against me) You’re just radiating heat!

Me: What else is new?

Several seconds of silence

AC: Well, I don’t know what else is new.

Me: (laughs softly).

At least a minute of silence passes.

AC: Did you wear your new jeans today?

Me: Yes…(not sure where this is going)

AC: well then there! That’s what else was new today! (pride in his voice for figuring it out)

Me: (trying really hard not to laugh) Yes, that’s true.

AC: and probably your new shirts too. (I can feel him smiling against my shoulder at his own cleverness)

Me: no, those are for Spring.

AC: well then that’s what will be new on Thursday because its supposed to be 70 degrees then.

****

AC: So, you finished the Quarter Quell huh? (out of the blue reference to the Hunger Games Trilogy which I’m currently reading and he read a few months ago.)

Me: yep (I’m trying not to encourage conversation in the hope that he’ll fall asleep)

AC: Everyone’s run away and are headed to (*BLEEP*edited to avoid spoiling the end for anyone who hasn’t read it.)

Me: yep.

AC: So know you know they were right about (*BLEEP*)

Me: yep.

AC: and now they’re all living in the (*BLEEP*)

Me: (before I can stop myself) No, they’re still in the hover craft

AC: the hover craft? Then how can you know about (*BLEEP*)?

Me: I’m only on the second page of the final book.

AC: Then why do you keep yepping me?

Me: Because I want you to go to sleep.

several seconds of silence

AC: fair point.

*****

AC: so that Speakeasy thing is on Saturday, right?

Me: yep.

AC: where is it?

Me: Dance Place

AC: is that near anything?

Me: not really. (I’m tempted to bring up my thoughts about going into the city early and going to some museums as he’s been wanting to do, but then remind myself I’m talking to Ambien Chris, not Real Chris.)

AC: is there a dance party this time?

Me: Nope. That was just for my show

AC: We could have one anyway. We just need an iPhone and a Pandora station

Me: yep.

AC: And then we just need a cord and we can run it to a speaker and then we’re all set.

Me: great idea. We’ll have our own dance party after the show.

AC: ok.

****

After an hour of these conversations alternating between me rubbing his head and back hoping to put him to sleep, we go about ten minutes without him moving or speaking and I decide he must finally be asleep. I roll away from him onto my left side so I can fall asleep.

As soon as I’m settled I feel him sit up.

AC: Giving up already?

Me: Yep.

 

 
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