When All Is Said and Done

One of the reasons I am infinitely glad to have journaled faithfully throughout the years is the unique perspective it provides when all is said and done. I will often dig out my old journals and read through past entries with pure fascination and curiosity as though someone else had written them.

I am so surprised to read about (and be reminded of) the worries, concerns, fears, victories and priorities of the past. And I am even more surprised (at times) to see how the situations (i.e. worries, concerns and fears) have worked themselves out. To take a step back and see the picture that time has painted for me. An image that time and only time truly can.

Time is incredible in that it is the only thing capable of explaining our lives to us with the greatest amount of detail and accuracy. When allowed to do it’s job… it will reveal secrets, provide solutions and share with us endings to stories and answers we’ve literally been dying to discover.

If you think about it… sometime when things are quiet and you have a few moments to be alone with your thoughts — write them down. Record them. Because I promise you that they will change and they will evolve and if you don’t… those thoughts and feelings may slip away from you.

One day—when all is said and done—you will stumble into the answers and they will not hold the value that they could have had you remembered to make note of the questions.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Guilty Pleasures

Every Wednesday I post a status update on Facebook as I gear up to indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure — watching Revenge on ABC. I am absolutely addicted to that show. I don’t know if it’s the scenic Hamptons, the high-flying, preciously-charmed, jewel-adorned lives the characters lead, the clothes, the plotting, the scheming, the backstabbing or simply watching skinny, beautiful, evil people inhabiting a place so foreign to an Ohio gal like me. Nonetheless, I was hooked on the show after watching the first 20 minutes of it when it premiered last fall.

There is a small group of Facebook friends (maybe 8 to 10) who also admit to loving the show and each Wednesday we gather together in cyberspace and enjoy a little pre and post-Revenge dish session.

This week I mentioned to a friend (while dishing) that the show was my “guilty pleasure”— singular—indicating that I had only one. However, upon further review I must come clean and admit to myself and (just for fun) everyone reading this that I DO have other guilty pleasures. Many, many guilty pleasures in fact.

For instance… JUST TO NAME A FEW…

  1. Sleep. I can knock out 12 hours of sleep like nobody’s business. If allowed I would probably give the cat a run for his money.
  2. An Over-Indulgence in Paper Products. I go through napkins, paper towels, tissues and toilet paper like they’re going out of style. And now that I’m not working and home much of the time… I have become acutely more aware of just how much I use. Just ask Lee. He has begun clipping coupons for all things paper since I moved in.
  3. Pizza. I could eat it seven days a week if possible. In fact, ever since I was little and Friday night was pizza night at our house (no exceptions because it was my mother’s one day off from cooking) I EXPECT to eat it at least once a week. And if I don’t get it… I feel deprived. I know it’s probably “wrong” to have such a thing as PES or more formally known as “Pizza Entitlement Syndrome” what with whole nations of people starving and all… but I can’t help it. I am obviously hardwired by now.
  4. Pillows. I can’t get enough of them. Big, fat, fluffy, goose-down pillows for sleeping, pillows for throwing and propping and accenting. When I am out shopping I will ALWAYS cruise the pillow aisle and I can justify the purchase of a new pillow like it’s my job. But I don’t have ANYTHING with this shade or this shape or this pattern or this softness… anywhere in the house! Therefore, I MUST purchase this pillow. It would be a crime NOT to.
  5. Decorative Candles That I Will Never Burn. I know that I’ve addressed this in a previous post so I will not say much more on the matter other than to say that along with the PES, I should probably see someone about it. It’s becoming a real problem. At some point we are going to run out of shelf/table/counter/closet space and become overrun with decorative candles and I will wind up on an episode of Hoarders or some other abnormal-psychologically-voyeuristic cable show.

So… dear readers, please share with me (because I’d really like to know) what are some of YOUR favorite guilty pleasures? The sky is the limit and I promise that your secret will be safe with me. Well, me and anyone else who happens to click on this link today.

Stir Crazy

Only three weeks in and I have found myself at somewhat of an interesting crossroads. The sleeping in has been quite dreamy, the zero-pressure atmosphere delightful and the yoga is devine. But not unlike Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Cast Away… I have simply had enough of myself. And I don’t even have a volleyball named Wilson to talk to.

That’s right, I said it. I have grown weary of my own company AND the sound of my own voice as it bounces off the ceiling while the cat just sits there blinking at me. This is unchartered territory for me and it is a rather strange land in which to navigate. It’s no wonder that people get so weird when they live alone for years and years. It’s really not all that surprising that some wind up writing lengthy manifestos and exhibiting questionable behavior. If left alone for too long a human being can get… well… a little whacko.

No worries, dear readers. I haven’t begun writing a manifesto or threatening letters to the government or Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View (even though I AM tempted because she is just THAT annnoying). I am not assembling explosives in my basement or digging a bunker or anything like that. I am just becoming acutely aware of my own, personal need to interact with people a bit further beyond cyberspace.

Not only do I feel the need to reach out, yesterday I actually got out to do a little shopping, run a few errands, etc. Oh what an exciting expedition it was! It wasn’t until I opened my mouth to speak to another human being that I realized how much I needed to get out. The teller at the bank looked at me like I’d spontaneously sprouted a second head right before her very eyes when I finally choked out the proper words to communicate to her that I needed to open an account.

I wondered what her deal was giving me the look she was giving me and then I suddenly realized it was because I was nervous. ME! Nervous! I will talk to anyone! I DO talk to anyone and everyone… and yet it had been just long enough since I’d spoken to someone other than Lee or Stanley the cat that I felt a bit nervous at the sound of my very own voice directed toward another living, breathing person.

I practically leapt across the counter and told the cashier at Big Lots the entire story of Lee’s proposal when she complimented me on my engagement ring. I got about three sentences in before I heard the little voice inside my head telling me to shut the hell up, take my purchases and go because hello?? SHE DOESN’T CARE.

In the pasta aisle at the grocery store I wanted to tell the sweet, old lady who smiled at me that I had just found the missing remote to my DVD player amidst the stacks and stacks of boxes in the garage and also that I couldn’t believe the garbage man hadn’t come yet to gather our trash! I mean, how long is that can going to have to sit on the curb anyway!?!?

Do not fear. I didn’t act on the impulse in the pasta aisle or any other aisle for that matter. I quietly selected my items and wandered the store, browsing and just enjoying my freedom in general. For I know that ALL TOO SOON I will be punching a time clock and wishing, longing… PINING for these days of pure, unstructured time.

Soooo… there’s that… and the fact that I am also taking the appropriate measures to ensure continued and sustained sanity by messaging many of my friends and contacts in the city to set up brunch/lunch/dinner/coffee ASAP. And to those of you “friends and contacts in the city” whom I have contacted to DO brunch/lunch/dinner/coffee ASAP who may be reading thisPlease do NOT be afraid. I promise to drink only decaf and mum’s the word about the garbage man. Even though he IS always totally late in picking up the trash.

Super Bowl Approved

Hello, my name is Joanna and I am a sucker for marketing ploys. As difficult as it is to do, they say the first step is admitting that you have a problem. So there you go. Yesterday morning while watching the news, I saw a commercial for Tostitos or some kind of chippy/dippy advertisement and I turned to Lee and exclaimed (with quite a lot of enthusiasm) that we needed to get some quote: “Super Bowl snacks!”

We weren’t throwing or attending any parties, but just like the pressure I feel to make (or rather, eat) cut-out cookies at Christmas and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and slam dozens of bite-size snickers at Halloween — I felt the overwhelming urge to go out and purchase tortilla chips and guacamole exactly like I’d just seen on the television. See, I told you… total sucker.

And I should see this stuff coming… I should be like teflon when it comes to marketing trickery… I AM IN MARKETING. I UNDERSTAND the game. I PLAY the game. I manipulate people all the time… just like the Tostitos people were presently manipulating me. And yet I still fall prey to the sneaky schemes of retail giants and manufacturers everywhere. 

After I got done throwing my super fit and quieted down, Lee looked at me and said: “OK, let’s go to the store and get some snacks… But do they have to be ‘Super Bowl’ snacks? Like, ‘Super Bowl-Approved‘ snacks as opposed to just plain old regular snacks?”

I shot him a look of both disgust and amusement at his overt sarcasm. Disgusted at his mockery but amused by how right he actually was. After all, I didn’t want just any snack. I wanted the stuff that the folks at Frito-Lay (makers of Tostitos) and Pepsi and Budweiser and Kraft and Keebler WANTED me to want! I wanted Super Bowl-Approved snacks! It had worked. They had gotten into my head. They successfully bore a hole in my brain and pulled my strings. Those evil, capitalist, genius bastards.

And you know what? When we arrived at the superstore for our supersnacks—passing through the glass doors that magically parted upon our arrival and swallowed us up as they whooshed loudly, closing behind us—we were indeed greeted by a larger-than-life display of what else but towers of two-liters and avocados and Tostitos chips of every shape, size, color, flavor and variety there ever was. 

There would be no plain old regular snacks for this gal. I was going all-out. No matter what the remainder of my Sunday looked like, one thing was for sure… as far as the marketing machines at Frito-Lay and Pepsi and Budweiser and Kraft and Keebler were concerned… my diet was going to be Super Bowl-Approved.

Putting a Pin In It

Recently I have become aware of a new phrase that has crept into our popular culture and me—being the words-person that I am—am intrigued by it. The phrase I am referring to is: “Let’s put a pin in it!” Basically defined it means: Let’s plan on doing <insert the name of said activity/task/chore/meeting here> at SOME point in time… just not THIS particular point in time.

I have not personally used the phrase but have observed it being used on at least three different TV shows this season. I’m not sure where it started or how long it has been around… yet I cannot help but wonder with all of the interest circling a little thing called Pinterest these days… Is there a connection?

I was introduced to Pinterest by a blog called Becoming Cliche. She was beginning to examine the social networking and idea-sharing site and discussing Pinterest’s false exclusivity and how she wanted so badly to be a member, that is, until they accepted her as a member. You see, everyone eventually gets to be a member, whether you are invited to join by another member or you shamelessly solicit membership directly FROM the site itself.

Anyway, I managed to stay away from this addicting site, that is, until a friend invited me to join since I would be doing some redecorating in the near future. It was then that I realized how many of my friends were already on it and how active they all were in generating these virtual bulletin boards bursting with fun, fresh ideas from fashion, decorating and design to books, movies and basic car repair.

The trouble is, I’ve been too busy with my move to actually get into creating my OWN board and it is making me feel like a super, cyber slacker. Everyday I see my inbox grow with messages that another friend and another friend and another friend are now following me on Pinterest. Maybe no one actually cares. Maybe no one actually LOOKS at my blank corkboard made of pixels. But the perfectionist and “joiner” in me causes me to imagine the deep disappointment of my friends when they visit me and find… Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. And zilch.

So for now… with regard to my activity on Pinterest, or lack thereof… I guess I’d just like to say to my fellow friends and Pinsters out there… Let’s just put a pin in it. At least until I actually take the time to figure out how the hell to use it.

Marc Cohn, Black Ops and Cat Doors

Sufficiently “loaded” with kitty tranquilizers, the 140-mile trip south with the cat went off without a hitch. Stanley slept or “meditated” with his eyes half open most of the time and only fussed at me when the Marc Cohn CD I had been playing reached it’s end. Seriously folks, he squeaked and squeaked at me when the music stopped and I had no idea why given that he’d been so relaxed the entire trip.

The only thing that was different (near as I could tell) was that my Marc Cohn music had stopped. So just for grins I started the disc over again and like magic… he laid down his furry, little head and went back to sleep. A-MA-ZING. Who knew Marc Cohn had such an impact on critters of the feline variety?

I’ve moved a million times (with a cat in tow) and have read a million and one times that it is well advised to introduce your kitty to their new environment a little at a time. Like… a ROOM at a time. Well, given that this is the first time Lee has ever had a pet in his house, I didn’t feel like doing all of the corraling and tip-toeing and Ooo!! Watch out for the cat-ing. So I just decided to wing it and let him OUT of his carrier to explore his new surroundings as he so desired.

Yep. That idea was genius. I zipped open the carrier, he went straight to the basement and wedged himself tightly in a corner between an old bed and two walls as though a tornado were headed this way. Oops. Maybe I should have done the room-by-room thing after all?

I did manage to cajole him out of his fox hole with some food, smooth talk and a little petting. I mean, he is male. And he HAS come up to the main floor at least once or twice to do a little recon… and for more food. So I know we’ll get there… eventually. However, I can’t help but feel like some wicked stepmother whose has locked her child away in the basement like Cinderella. But, he’s using his litter box, eating, drinking and venturing upstairs on the occasional intel-gathering, Black Ops mission… so what more can I ask for at this point, right?

Besides Stanley’s assimilation to the new habitat, I had one other major concern. Due to the floor plan of the house, it was necessary for us to install a cat door in an interior door from the kitchen leading down to the basement where his litter box is located. Stanley has never had to deal with a cat door or any closed door for that matter. So the question has loomed large for over a month as to whether or not he would learn how to utilize this contraption in order to “do his business” in the appointed area.

Well… the one good thing that has come out of this giving-him-the-run-of-the-place faux pas is that his great affinity for the basement — and sheer, blind terror of anything non-basement related, has inadvertently caused him to learn how to use his little cat door as he desperately flies through it every… single… time I haul or coax his fluffy ass up the stairs. I guess if history has taught us anything it is that fear can be an excellent motivator.

Scratches on the Hardwood … And a Good Ol’ Dose of Reality

Who would have thought something as simple as scratched hardwood floors would trigger a full-scale meltdown? And yet… it did.

I have shared in past entries that I have occasional panic attacks and am somewhat of a high-strung, high-anxiety being. I am a bit of a delicate, contradictory creature in that I often fully embrace life, grabbing onto adventure firmly with both hands… And yet, I am also plagued by excessive worry and bouts with anxiety.

For weeks leading up to my move, Lee had been telling me that I seemed so “calm” for someone who had recently quit her job (without having secured a new one) and was moving all of her worldy possessions into a new home. And you know what? I kind of agreed with his level of perplexedness on this one because “calm” is NOT a word that anyone would really ever use to describe me. But I was calm. I had been calm. Perfectly sane and calm.

Until Sunday night. That night, as I packed a duffel bag with a few items and enough clothes for one night, I began to have a good, old-fashioned anxiety attack. My heart was pounding, I was sick to my stomach and my mind was racing. And the odd thing was that I had no real reason for such an attack. I’d had a relaxing but productive week and was now going back to my old house to get the last remnants of my things, see my parents and return. Simple.

Monday morning as I woke… it was still there. And it has followed me throughout the last 48 hours. My mom, sensing my unessessary anxiety and worry tried to keep me grounded and focused, telling me that I didn’t have to rush back or finish by any strict amount of time so I ought to just slow down, stay one more day to get everything finished and chill out a little bit. It wasn’t as though I had a job to return to… just my fiance, yoga mat and more boxes to unpack. And all of those things would STILL be there the next day. 

It wasn’t until the landlord came in and pointed out some deep scratches on the hardwood floor made by my computer chair. See, another thing about me is that it takes VERY LITTLE… to make me feel guilty. MINUTIA. I can be made to feel like shit with so much as a minsinterpreted sideways glance.

And that was the last straw. Operation Meltdown had begun.

I called Lee who was only a little bit put out by the fact that this was ruining our dinner with President Obama. He was also a tad bit concerned about the sick children all over the world who probably wouldn’t make it through the night due to my decision to stay on another day to settle my affairs. And he was slightly disappointed that by my being gone another night he would be forced to watch Sports Center rather than Seinfeld all evening long. 

But then—as unexpectedly as the anxiety had arrived—it disappeared with my laughter at the absurdities of his “statements of concern.” All I needed, as it turns out, was a nice dose of REALITY to adjust my warped-and-freaked-out-for-no-good-reason perspective. And with a lot of help from some friends and parents, the house was cleaned and emptied… and I turned over the keys… anxiety-free.