Tiny Bit of Crazy

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

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.)

 

Another Date Fail, By Me October 18, 2011

Remember way back when I first started dating Chris, and I wrote that blog post about my first attempt at planning a date night, and I took us to the wrong theater?

Well my date planning skills haven’t gotten much better since then.

Back in April, barely 3 months after we started dating, a Living Social deal came up for a wine tasting and food pairing course at a vineyard I hadn’t heard of yet.

Which basically means it wasn’t called Boons Farm.

It was a really good deal, and I jumped on it, thinking it would make a nice date for me and Chris at some point.

Which sounds like a simple thing, but for me, at that time, was kind of a big thing. It meant that, at barely three months into this
relationship, I was willing to put down my hard earned money on a “future activity”. And not just any activity, but an activity that a majority of men would begrudgingly endure at best.

I was betting that Chris, despite not being a big wine enthusiast, was the kind of guy who was up to try new things, to learn new things, and at a minimum, graciously choose to enjoy something that I wanted to do.

But I’d been wrong before, which is what made it a leap of faith for me.

As I clicked the big “Buy Now” button I had images of us walking hand in hand through rolling hills of grape vines, sitting at a quaint
table for two on either a sun drenched patio, or rustically decorated tasting room, sipping wine the color of spun gold, while we mmmed, and ooohhed, and uh huh’d our way through a lesson about food and wine pairings, learning things we’d probably never remember from a gentile and mannered vintner.

So you know, a pretty low stakes venture.

.

About two weeks ago, I realized that the Living Social deal was about to expire so we decided we’d go this past Sunday, the last day the deal was valid.

I looked up the website of the vineyard several times, and sent Chris the link at least once, and by all accounts it looked and sounded lovely. It had the normal pictures of rolling hills and climbing grape vines, it was barely an hour away, and generally seemed not all that different from the handful of other vineyards I’d visited on various outings with girlfriends over the years.

So, Sunday morning, thinking it might be busy on the last day of the deal, we got up kinda early (before 10am) ate a light breakfast and headed out west toward wine country. It was a beautiful day for a drive and in about 40 minutes we were at the exit. We saw signs for three vineyards, none of them being the vineyard we were going to.I was ignoring this fact, until Chris pointed that that seemed odd.

“They’ve only been open about six months,” I said, still confident in Living Social and in the vineyard’s website. However, as we veered
off the main road and turned in the opposite direction of all the other vineyard signs I started to get a little nervous.

The GPS kept guiding us further and further into the backwoods of Virginia, and I tried to distract us by saying things like “Well it sure
is beautiful!” and “Its a real adventure!” in a super cheerful voice.

When Chris announced “We’ve run out of paved road and we’re now on gravel,” I faltered a little, and finally voiced the thought that
had been plaguing me for the last 3 or 4 miles: “I hope they haven’t closed down already.” Chris didn’t really comment, I think because he was so focused on navigating this bumpy, gravely road that twisted and turned through the woods.

Then suddenly we were back on paved road, and we came around a corner and saw a huge red, white and blue OPEN flag.

“Well that’s a good sign,” I said, my eyes scanning the landscape for a vineyard as we came out of the woods into a clearing.

“3600. This is it.” Chris said as he slowed in front of a small house near the road side.

“No, it can’t…” I started to say, and then I saw the canvas sign hanging over the dark sloping porch. It looked like the type of
house we’d drive by and say “that would be cute with a lot of work.”

I swear to god, I suddenly heard dueling banjos playing and saw toothless yokels offering “wine” out of mason jars.

“I’M NOT GOING IN THERE!” I cried out before I could think about it, and Chris immediately pressed the accelerator as he started
laughing.

Once the building was behind us, I wondered if I’d over reacted. “Well, maybe its not that bad on the inside, maybe we should still
go…”

“Honey, they have port-a-potties,” Chris pointed out as we did a U-turn and were again facing the ramshackle building and barren field
full of saplings that they had the nerve to call a vineyard.

“Oh my god, you’re right. Let’s go find one of those other vineyards we passed on our way out here.”

But first we stopped to take some pictures:

Its that little white building...Notice the lack of any grape vines...

I made Chris stop when we were in front of it so I could try to get a picture of that totally uninviting front porch, but we didn’t want to stay too long for fear of some greasy haired, suspender wearing guy running out and saying “Come on in y’all!” So this was the best I could do:

Notice how everything is bright and sunny, except the front porch...

As we made our way back down the gravel road and across the railroad tracks, I thought of what this Living Social coupon had meant when I’d bought it, and I had a sudden fear that this was a bad omen for the future of our relationship. But before I could get worked up about it (because I can get worked up about just about anything, no matter how ridiculous. Its like a special talent I have.) I turned my attention to salvaging the day.

Once we found our way back to the main road, we found our way to Three Fox Vineyard within a few minutes. It was one of the vineyard signs we’d turned away from on our way to the junkyard vineyard.

As we pulled into the driveway I immediately knew this was going to be much better.

This is also a picture of a small white building in the distance, and yet this has a completely different feel to it...

We walked up the path to a beautiful patio with benches and small tables, overlooking sweeping lawns dotted with benches, picnic tables and hammocks.

We walked around back and saw an outdoor tasting tent set up, more tables and chairs in the sun, a shaded patio with more tables and entrance to the building.

We both had to pee though, so our first mission was to find the bathrooms. We followed sign around the side of the building and found this:

apparently it was my destiny to use a port-a-pottie today...

BUT, they were, without question the nicest port-a-potties I’ve ever used.

They were clearly trying to disguise the fact that they were using portable bathroom facilities...

I totally give them points for their effort and intention. There were two oder control devices in there, and a sink that worked with a foot pedal. So I forgave them the lack of indoor plumbing and even used it twice, in violation of my general “only in an absolute fucking emergency and maybe not even then ” policy regarding port-a-potties.

Having availed ourselves of the facilities, we ventured inside and were immediately invited to a tasting, where we sampled several very good wines – I didn’t even hate all of the reds, and I pretty much always hate the reds.

And Chris and I hmmmed, and ahh ha’d a the tasting notes, even though we didn’t really understand or care about most of them.

After we’d sampled 6 or 7 wines Chris suggested we take a walk around the grounds to which I enthusiastically replied “I’m drunk!” as I stumbled into him and tried to sloppily kiss him in the middle of the tasting room.

“How are you drunk, that wasn’t even a full glass!”

Sometimes its like he doesn’t even know me at all…

After reminding him of my doctor confirmed missing liver enzyme that makes me a really cheap date, I suggested that buying some sausage and cheese and sitting the sun for a little while before our walk might be wise. Especially considering I could barely walk.

As we were waiting to pay for our snacks, my wine soaked brain remembered that this was supposed to be a day that I planned and that I paid for, for a change.

“Can I payeee for thish stufffff?” I asked

He looked at me like I’d grown a second head. I sighed heavily and tried to explain my request, but he rolled his eyes, kissed my forehead and turned his attention to looking for someone to ring us up.

I reminded myself again to never try to plan a date that’s any more complicated than suggesting our favorite restaurant for dinner.

Once outside in the sun, I started to really relax for the first time that day. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was perfect. We ate the sausage and cheese and people watched and entertained ourselves by inventing back stories for everyone as the vineyard steadily filled up.

this is taken for my mom who had called just as we were pulling into the vineyard and asked "isn't it early to be drinking wine?" 🙂

After we’d eaten, and I’d sobered up, we strolled leisurely around the grounds hand in hand, pausing for the occasional picture.

Now this is what a vineyard is supposed to look like!

We stopped to pick some grapes left over from the harvest.

So despite how the day started, it ended up being exactly what I’d envisioned. Mostly because Chris, above all else, is the type of guy who doesn’t hold me responsible for mistaking a bunch of stock photos on a website for reality.

Its not a "Mer and Chris" outing if it doesn't include a self-portrait

 

It’s the Thought that Counts… March 29, 2011

The title of this post is a phrase that lets me sleep at night.  Most nights as a matter of fact.  Aside from the nights when the phrase “its not forever just for now” is the only thing that lets me sleep. But that’s another story.

I believe in, and respect this phrase, and I need to believe that everyone else also believes and respects this phrase as well.  

Or else I’m screwed.

If it isn’t really the thought that is important, then its just a matter of time until I have no friends, nieces and nephews who refuse to acknowledge I exist, and I find myself living alone in a small apartment filled with unsent gifts and other representations of great thoughts not followed through on.

But no cats, because when it comes to feeding a living thing, the thought alone definitely doesn’t count. Action is really, really, important.

RIP Vivienne…

But as far as intentions? As far as my ideas and thoughts about things to do for people (or fish), I think I rock.  I come up with all kinds of ideas about how to show people I care, how to celebrate birthdays and cheer up friends who are low.

Sometimes I even get part of the way through the execution of these ideas.

For example, I recently bought all of the elements for an out of the blue “I’m thinking of you” care package for a friend whose been having a rough go of it lately. I carefully and lovingly picked each item, composing the words I’d write to explain why I chose each item in the card that I also carefully selected for its perfect meaning and application for our relationship. The whole idea was perfect really.

She would have been THRILLED, I’m sure.

That was…umm, maybe a month ago? Everything is still sitting in the bag on a chair in my room. I got hung up on the execution. On the “find a box and pack it and take it to the post office” part. In other words, the less fun part.

I could offer a bunch of excuses about weird social anxieties and limited windows of time for going to the post office…but the bottom line is the more obstacles to accomplishing the task, the less likely I am to do it. If it was a care package for someone I was going to see face to face, I would have totally followed through on delivering it.

Most likely.

Now I feel guilty every time I look at that bag of her favorite things. Which is why I have to lull myself to sleep with the phrase “its the thought that counts” a lot these days.

I also feel really guilty every time I eat one of the jelly belly’s from that bag. So guilty I almost can’t enjoy the fruity goodness until the 4th or 5th one.

So you see? Its not like I benefit from my failure to execute.

.

Sometimes though, my problem is more a lack of planning than too many obstacles to overcome.

Like last Christmas. I gave a friend a gift of a picture frame tree ornament. I knew exactly the picture of us I wanted to use. But then couldn’t figure out how to print it out from Facebook so it didn’t look like crap. And suddenly it was the last day of work before I went out of town, and I had to decide between giving her an empty frame or giving her nothing. To be clear, the frame was a simple ornament. I would have spent more money had I bought ingredients to make her cookies. This really was ALL about the thought.

I went with the empty frame.

And followed up with a text message telling her which picture I had intended to put in it.

Because it was a really good thought, and I wanted to get credit for it.  I mean, if I’d pulled it off, it would have been a great gift.  And I wanted her to know that.

.

I’m constantly optimistic that I’m going to change. That I’m going to follow through on a thought and pull off that great gift, or care package, or birthday party, or date.

Lately I’ve been mostly focused on pulling off the date thing.

My record isn’t great. If we aren’t at the wrong movie theater, we’re parking on the wrong side of the mall…

We were having date night at the mall because that’s where the Apple Store lives, and I’d just bought an iPhone and wanted to look at accessories, and he wanted to play with the new iPad. During the day we decided where we’d eat in the mall, and various ideas for dessert were thrown around, including Cheesecake Factory, Caribou Coffee, or Cake Love.

I went on the mall website and looked up where the Apple Store was in relation to the restaurant. They were both near JC Penny’s. I noted that Caribou was in the same area as well.

He mentioned buying me a hot chocolate as a dessert. It was in the context of a joke, but at the same time, a very real possibility for dessert. 

It was a cold and rainy night, and I thought we should park by JC Penny’s so that we would be right where everything we needed was.

In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought it mattered, its not a very big mall. Maybe I was trying to show I put some thought into an otherwise pretty straight forward date? Maybe it was my mostly conquered inner control freak coming out?  I don’t know. But as we pulled into the mall, I definitely directed him to park by JC Penny’s.

We ate, we shopped, it was all lovely and fun and without incident. Then he steered me toward Cheesecake Factory for dessert, which was not in the JC Penny’s part of the mall, but I didn’t think twice about it. We had a cozy table in the corner, and I watched a massive storm rage outside while we ate cheesecake and had a very nice conversation, and so we lingered.  

We lingered until after the mall had closed. But, having done my homework, I was able to proudly and confidently announce that there was a mall entrance near JC Penny, so we were fine.

Except we couldn’t find that door.

Finely we decided we’d just go out by Cheesecake Factory and walk around the outside. It wasn’t that far, only about a quarter of the way around the mall, not like the opposite side or anything…

Fortunately it had stopped raining and we set out along the sidewalk hand in hand.

We laughed when we realized we’d run out of sidewalk and would have to go over an embankment separating two levels of parking lot…

We crossed the parking lot assuming we’d round the next corner and see the car.  Instead we saw a loading dock and then a parking garage.

After crossing through the parking garage, we had to walk along the road. Uphill.

Did I mention it freezing out?

There may have been a small, good natured argument about the reasoning behind parking at JC Penny’s, which began when he said, in a less than flattering version of my voice ,”Park by JC Penny’s. It’s where I always park.”

Which wasn’t at all true. I’d simply said, “we should park by JC Penny’s, it near everything we want.”

Which makes sense. Making it a good thought. 

On the surface.

Somewhere around mile 27 of our journey around the mall perimeter, I started to wonder why he’d even listened to me in the first place.

I mean, he really should know better at this point.

I believe this failure to execute falls on him.

 

The Devil Is In The Details March 10, 2011

 Last night I had a date with the new guy, who we’re gonna call “C”. It was, in fact, a perfect example of the kind of date I described in my last post, except I was organizing it. We sort of take turns planning the dates, but not in a cutesy “Oh, honey, let ME plan this one! (giggle)” sort of way. Its more of  an “Ok, you plan this one because I planned the last one” sort of way. 

So last night was my turn. And I had a plan. I had bought a Groupon for movie tickets, so I proposed we go to the movies – an activity I love (mostly because of the popcorn) and rarely do. C agreed and then told me to surprise him with what movie because he said “I like surprises!”

Well, I aim to please.

The tickets were through Fandango. You had to go on the Fandango site, click on the tab for theaters that accept Fandango, then enter your zip code. No problem.

A list of theaters came up and the first was the Regal Cinema in Fairfax and it had a few movies I wanted to see at convenient times. I was about to order the tickets when I thought to double check with him regarding exactly what time he could pick me up.

Because I’m all about the details.

With the pick up time confirmed, I selected the movie and purchased the tickets. I very carefully read through all of the instructions regarding redeeming the tickets because I’ve never used Fandango before. I had the option to write down a confirmation code and redeem the tickets at the theater, OR print out the tickets and just walk in with them. I decided to print them out because that seemed the more reliable option, and I didn’t want to take any chances on my date night.

I double checked that I had the tickets twice before I left work.

About 10 minutes before he was supposed to pick me up, I decided to switch purses, and very carefully made sure I transferred the tickets into the new purse. Because forgetting to do that is totally something I would do. But not this time. This was my night, and I. was. on it.

He picks me up exactly on time (actually a few minutes early) because that’s how he rolls. For the first time, I was ready to walk out the door as soon as he knocked. Because we had a schedule tonight, and I was not going to make us late for the movie.

We park with 15 minutes to spare before the movie starts, plenty of time to load up on the popcorn and candy we’d already discussed purchasing.

As we approach the theater, I start to wonder exactly how the ticket thing works. What I printed out looks a lot like an actual ticket and I’m assuming we just give that to the high school kid who rips the tickets… I start to get a little anxious at this unknown element in my date plan, but since there hadn’t been time for a dry run, I have no choice but to assume it will be fine.

The theater is basically empty, and we head for the little opening in the ropes that separate the lobby from the concession and the theaters and…there’s no one there. We stand there for a minute and look around, printed out tickets in my hand ready to present, and no one comes over. So we walk through and go to the concession stand and order our large popcorn with butter and Goobers (which I’ve never actually ordered at a movie before, but completely agree with C that “it’s just fun to say”.)

As we stand at the concession stand I look at the lists of movies playing down each hallway, looking for our theater…and I don’t see our movie listed. I think this is the real benefit of the kid who rips the tickets – directing us toward the appropriate theater. We get our popcorn and soda and Goobers, and C starts to walk in the direction I’m looking. I’m feeling a vague sense of anxiety starting to build, although I’m ignoring it.

“I don’t see the movie listed…” I say to C as we start to walk down one hallway.

“OK,” he says “Maybe its just not listed.” And he keeps walking. I start scanning based on movie times, thinking maybe they are displaying an abbreviated version of the title that I don’t recognize. But nothing lines up.

We get to the end of the hallway and C, still totally unconcerned because he still has a basic and reasonable level of trust in me, says “huh. Well, maybe its in the other hallway.” But I’m suddenly overcome with a panic, because I know me, and I do not have a basic or reasonable level of trust in me. My brain starts spitting out every detail related to this event, highlighting the ones I didn’t double check. They all lay in a jumble on the floor of my brain like tiles spilled from a Yahtzee cup.

C starts to walk back down the hallway, idly munching popcorn as I sift through the pieces and suddenly hit on the glowing neon yellow piece…

The name and address of the theater.

“Hang on!” I say to C as I stop dead in my tracks. “Hold this” I shove the popcorn at him as I reach into my purse. I pull the tickets out of my purse and start to look at them, and he says “it’s not going to say the theater”, meaning the actual theater within the building. Because he can’t contemplate the very real possibility that…

Wait, it’s not just a possibility.

“I think we’re in the wrong theater” I say finally, staring at the name and address of the theater, still not sure of the exact name/address of the building in which we are standing, and yet fairly positive it is not what is on the paper.

Because this is my life.

C says something like “well, we’ll just go to the other hallway – ” because he still doesn’t get it.

“NO.” I say, showing him the paper. “We’re like, AT the wrong theater.”

He looks down, and reads off the address, looks up at me with a confused look on his face, as he clearly tries to work out which theater we are in, and which theater the tickets might be for.

Suddenly I know. “Is this,” I say pointing to the paper “the theater down the road? Over where TJ Max is?”

Realization dawns on his face. I want the floor to swallow me up.

“We’re in the wrong theater?!” He says with a loud laugh, half question, half statement.

I look at our large bucket of popcorn, soda, and Goobers, and I know without looking at the clock that we don’t have time to go to the other theater.

“We’re staying here. We’re just going to see another movie,” I announce, and as I do when I’m embarrassed, I start moving fast in an attempt to get past this moment in my life and perhaps convince myself it never happened.

C is laughing as he walks beside me, but I can tell he’s laughing with me, not at me. Even though he’d have every right to laugh at me.  Loudly. I giggle a little bit at the ridiculousness that is my life, as I try to focus on the names of the other movies starting soon.

“How about this one?” He says, and I look at the title unable to recall what it’s about. He starts to summarize the plot and I immediately agree realizing there was no chance on earth I’d challenge any suggestion he made at that moment.

As we walk into the theater C is still chuckling and says “OK, note to self, always verify all details.”  There is a part of me that wants to protest that this is not the norm… but who am I kidding? This is absolutely the norm.  I tell myself it’s better that he sees this now while it’s still early, because even though he’s heard most of my stories, and read this blog in its entirety, nothing could really prepare him for the reality of my inability to properly navigating the world. He starts to laugh again, shakes his head and says “And you even planned this in advance!”

“I know!” I say, laughing despite myself, because its pretty much the only thing to do at this point.

As we settle into our seats, he starts to laugh again and says almost to himself “The wrong theater! Oh my god,” and I look over to see if this is an indication that, as the reality sinks in, he’s becoming less amused, perhaps envisioning a future filled with wrong theaters, wrong restaurants, missed planes, and driving miles in the wrong direction because I said I had it under control.

All very realistic scenarios.

But he’s looking back at me with a wide grin and he says “You are so cute,” and leans in to drop a quick kiss on me.

.

So, at least I’ve got that going for me.

 

It Takes A Village January 24, 2011

My grad school applications are DONE. This is a huge accomplishment.

HUGE.

And here’s why:

First, I am not exactly what you’d call “detail oriented”. I used to think I was, but at some point I had to realize that my oversight of important details on a variety of projects was not a random, occasional or unpredictable occurrence. When I had my company I had an assistant whose main job was to notice all of the details that I didn’t and then do something about them. It required her to work more hours than I could actually afford, but I couldn’t afford NOT to have her, could I? Missing all those details, like deadlines, and phone numbers, and which day of the week it was, would undoubtedly have cost me more.

It’s basic business math, people.

Anyhoo…so having self identified as being detail oriented deficient, I went out of my way to try to make accommodations for this disability. I created an excel spreadsheet with columns for each piece of information about each school I was considering. It had the name, program website link, application deadline, program length, acceptance statistics, financial aid statistics and details, distance from DC, length of writing sample required, and then a column for any other important details I might need to know. Like if the writing sample had to be mailed instead of uploaded to the electronic application.

Then I got a spiral notebook and made a page for each school I was applying to, and kept it in my bag at all times. I put a tab on each page with the name of the program, the topic for the personal essay and then I listed the action steps required to complete each individual application, including  details like ordering transcripts from undergrad and my first grad program, with boxes where I could put a check mark after I’d done each thing.

And yet.

Every single time I was ready to submit an application, I hit a stumbling block. A detail I’d somehow overlooked.

.

Turns out, no matter how great an organizational system you have, you have to actually USE it for it to be effective. Who knew?

It’s not that I ignored the system, it’s that I got so comfortable with seeing all those words and lists and check marks and highlighted things, that I thought I was reading it, but really I was just looking at it. Subtle, yet extremely important difference.

Fortunately there was nothing a UPS office, the last dredges of my savings account and some quick thinking couldn’t fix.

And speaking of that UPS office – I was there twice. And the same (super cute) guy helped me both times. The second time I walked in he said “hey – I know you. Graduate school, right?” And I realized he’d become a member of the growing team of people who I had relied on to get me through this application process.

Because, while applying for graduate school seems like it would be a solitary process. It wasn’t. By a long shot.

I asked at least three different people to edit my writing sample, not counting the writing class in which I submitted part of the sample for an assignment.

 I asked three different people to help me with my six different personal statements, at least three times with less than 48 hours before the deadline.

Some of the schools wanted 2 letters of rec, some wanted 3. I thought that the early deadlines were all only 2 letters, and the 3 letters ones were later deadlines. But that turned out to be a misconception. Which would have been corrected if I’d READ my notebook/spreadsheet, instead of just LOOKING at it. But we’ve been over that already. Stop being so judgey.

Everyone totally rose to the occasion though, reminding me, yet again, that I have wonderful people in my life. Or people who suck as saying no and setting boundaries. Either way, it’s a win for me.

And each time I ran into a problem, some small detail like a specific font size, or a unique way of coding a supplemental piece, usually about two hours before the deadline, I’d cry “OMG! I’m a writer! A creative type. If I were good with handling a million little details then I’d be able to function in the real world and wouldn’t need to hide out in academia, now WOULD I?”

That was actually the title of an early personal statement. Thank god for my team of readers.  

2. I’m a procrastinator. Which is bad enough on its own. But combine that with the whole no attention to detail thing, and its a recipe for disaster.

And for spending crap tons of money on overnight shipping.

I do know better. I mean, I’ve been a procastinator all my life. And I always regret it, and swear I won’t do it again. And yet, I do, but always with reasonable justification.

Like when I started out on this application process and realized that the deadlines spanned from Dec. 15-Jan 15, with one, the most important one, falling on January 1, I told myself that I would get all of the applications done by Dec. 15. If I had to do two by then, might as well do all 6 right?

Yeah…about that….

Since I pushed everything until the last minute on the Dec. 15 applications, I decided to hold off on the rest so I could spend more time on my writing sample and make it even better.

.

Except every time I opened it, I was scared I was going to find some huge mistake or formatting error and then I’d freak out knowing that I’d submitted a bad sample to the first two schools.

It’s the same reason I always refused to talk about a test right after taking it. As soon as I heard the whispered “Hey – whatdidyouget for #3?” I’d immediately plug my ears and go lalalalala, until they’d stopped or I was asked to leave the classroom.  I don’t like talking about something I can’t fix. I prefer to sit with hope, (however farfetched), that I did better than I think.

So I decided I’d finish the rest of the applications by December 23 so I wouldn’t have to worry about it during the holidays.

Yeah…about that…

Even if I wasn’t going to work on my writing sample anymore, I still had personal statements to write. And every school wanted something different, while ultimately looking for the same information: why I wanted an MFA in creative writing and why from their school.

After being shut down on the “I can’t function in the real world” approach, I had nothing but writers block.

In answer to why that specific school, “because you’re less than 8 hours away from DC and don’t require me to take the GRE’s again,” was shot down by the team too. Causing more writers block.

Know what the best cure for writer’s block is?

A deadline.

So I’d wait until about 48 hours before the deadline, and finally pound something out that was essentially saying “because I can’t function in the real world and you won’t make me take the GRE’s again” but in much more creative and intellectual-ly sounding words. Lots of them. And then I’d beg someone to read it over and make sure it wasn’t too obvious. And eventually, always at the very last minute, I’d get it done.

And eventually, with much moaning and sighing, and a last desperate dash to the UPS store, I finished the last one. Fully one hour and 15 minutes before the deadline. HA!

And now everything’s done except the waiting… and the hoping… 

.

Notifications could start coming as early as the first week of March.

Which means the next six weeks are going to move very, very, slowly.

So I’m probably going to need a new support team. Because the application teams deserves a break.

And let’s be honest people – I’m not going to be able to distract myself from the fact that I have no Plan B all by myself. Its going to take some serious alcohol and sugar consumption.

And maybe presents. Shiny ones. Cause those are really distracting.

I’m just sayin’ .

 

 
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