Judge Not Lest Ye Be… Messy

SCSSA crumpled Wendy’s bag on the floor of the front passenger’s side, a coffee-soaked napkin in the cup holder resting innocently atop sticky, stray coins mingled with toothpicks and straw wrappers and a Starbucks pastry wrapper pinned beneath the snow brush on the floor of the backseat told me all that I needed to know.

As someone who thrives on neatness and order, I used to be quite judgmental of people with messy cars. And let me be a bit more specific by stating that when I say “used to be” I mean like… a month ago.

But climbing into my driver’s seat yesterday morning to the aforementioned scene caused me to realize that I am, indeed, one of THOSE people. That’s right. I, myself, am hereby (or at least for the time being) a Messy Car Person.

In my past life, I wondered how on earth it was possible for people to ride around in vehicles with muddy floor mats, cluttered backseats, unidentifiable schmutz on the interior and random cheerios strewn haphazardly about or ground deeply into the carpet.

I marveled at others’ abilities to travel from A to B all the while overlooking such sins as dirty clothes, fast food wrappers, wrinkled bits of note paper and empty beverage cups. I mean, it’s a CAR… not a closet or a kitchen or a GARBAGE CAN! Thus, it is with great humiliation and shame that I admit… I now stand among them.

HOW did this happen? You might ask. Someone once so fussy has now just given up!? Am I merely a modern version of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout who would not take the garbage out? Well. It’s not quite that simple. Or maybe it is. I’m not sure. What I DO know is that I got busy. VERY busy.

I know I’ve already touched on this but I started a new job that occupies me greatly with its lengthy commute and wicked learning curve. (Not that I’m complaining… because I honestly LOVE IT!) And I started taking a class. That has actual homework. So apparently I went from having oodles of time for the luxury of tossing out the trash… to not… having that luxury.

That’s it. That’s all I got. It’s the only excuse I can come up with. Busyness. I don’t want to admit that I’m lazy or dirty or slovenly. I think I’m just busy at the moment. At least I hope that’s all it is. Hopefully it is a fleeting thing and one day, when life begins to flatten out, I’ll be Little Miss Clean Car again — looking down my perfect little nose with great disgust in heavy judgment of the Messy Car People once more.

And all will be right with the world.

The Deep End

deep endSo it’s time to address the virtual elephant in the room. I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty lately… And a little bit like a slacker. Recently, I’ve barely managed to eek out two posts a week here on this blog, where at one time, I was posting daily. Admittedly, my comments go unacknowledged and unanswered for far too long. And I’m not EVEN going to address how badly I suck at visiting my friends’ blogs.

Except that I’ve been anything but a slacker… in my Real Life. In my flesh-and-blood-non-pixel-people-cyber-world things have been fairly active. So active, in fact, that it has kept me from this thing that I love so much. So to those of you who’ve been faithful readers all along AND those of you who may have just begun following, please accept my apologies.

Within the span of ONE week I began a new job in the Marketing Department of a large architectural firm, started studying Web Design at the Columbus College of Art and Design and fell prey to “The Crud” that’s been going around. I nursed one of my beloved cluster headaches for nearly two weeks while trying to assimilate to 35-minute-long city commutes, brown bag lunches, new passwords, unfamiliar coffee machines, copiers, printers and conference calls that span at least five different time zones.

I was, for lack of a better term, thrown into the deep end of Grownupland without a flotation device. I went from sleeping until 10, lounging around the house watching bad movies on Lifetime and sending out resumes, making calls and receiving countless “you suck” rejection emails while in yoga pants and sweatshirts… to actual WORK. Yes, that is a real, live, alarm-clock-smacking-rush-rush-shower-makeup-pantyhose-heels J-O-B.

But just last night—while brushing the three inches of fresh snow (that had fallen since lunch) from my car after an 11-hour work day—it occurred to me that even though I am thoroughly exhausted and my head feels as though it could explode from all of the “new” information I am taking in on a daily basis… I feel alive.

There is something quite invigorating about being challenged and pushed to beyond what we think we can bear at times. Hopefully soon, when the waters calm I’ll get back on track with more regular writing. But until then, if the choice is between sitting on the couch listening to Hoda and Kathy Lee whine about wine while looking for a job OR getting tossed head-long into the Deep End… I think I’d rather swim.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

So I’m thinking about taking the plunge. Or thinking about thinking about taking the plunge. Or thinking about putting together my own focus group to think about thinking about taking the plunge. Obviously, I have a few details to work out first… but I am beginning to investigate <gulp> trying to get published. I realize that it is no longer enough to sit around day-dreaming about becoming a real writer who has a summer home in Maine and sits daily on a balcony overlooking the Atlantic pondering Life while dressed in ivory, cable-knit, turtleneck sweaters, sipping cappuccino from a mug made by a local artisan potter. Can you tell I’ve given the matter some thought?

No matter how misguided or overly-romantic my thinking about becoming a best-selling author one day — it’s most likely NOT going to happen if I don’t attempt to do something about it by putting myself out there. And the notion of being “out there” is as frightening as it is thrilling.

One the one hand… the idea that a real literary agent might consider my writing worthy of publishing gives me goose bumps! On the other hand — rejection sucks. And I know that rejection is a M-A-J-O-R part of being a would-be writer. Rejection, I understand, is as reliable as the sunrise in the world of publishing. You will get rejected again and again and yet, in order to be successful one day, you must keep peeling yourself up off the proverbial pavement and try, try again.

I’m joking about the actual focus group. But I do, however, covet feedback from my readers as well as the guidance of my fellow writer friends… especially those of you who have been or are headed down the road yourselves. I’ve heard it said many times that one should write about what one knows. For many years I’ve been compiling essay type writings both in journal form and here. And I’ve had, for about three years now, a few novel ideas (literally, no pun intended this time) that keep bouncing around in my brain, refusing to let go.

But the essays are something that I have NOW. They are largely written and I feel that it might well be time to put some sort of collection together and just get it out there. Here is where you, dear readers, come in. I would sincerely like to know what types of writings / entries / posts that you have enjoyed reading the most in addition to your thoughts regarding the collection of essays itself.

Were it not for you, I’d still be scrawling notes in margins and filling up journals — my writing never seeing the light of day. So I have all of you to thank for your encouragement and the incentive that you provide me in keeping my virtual pencil sharp. Please—if you feel so inclined—lend me your thoughts on the matter… It would be more welcomed and appreciated than you know.

Fetching Stanley… and the Keurig

I know, I know… for crying out loud when is the moving going to be DONE already? At least a few of you readers may be asking that question as I use this post to report that one, final trip must be made to gather the remainder of my things from my old house to bring them to the new one.

One of the items I need to collect is my Keurig coffee maker that I carelessly left behind. I have been without it for over a week and would be experiencing withdrawals were it not for the Starbucks right across the street. But the most important thing I left behind last week that I absolutely MUST return to fetch would be Stanley, the cat.

Poor Stanley has been living it up at my parents’ house where he is utterly and obscenely spoiled. In fact, I’m certain that after seven days he is certain that I’ve abandoned him and am no longer his human. He is probably operating under the false assumption that my parents are now his rightful slaves.

I’m afraid he has no idea how his world is about to be rocked.

Anyone who owns a cat or is owned by a cat (the latter probably being more accurately stated) knows that they are not fans of change. ANY kind of change. So, while I AM looking forward to having him with me in my new home… I am NOT looking forward to the production of bringing him to it. And IT WILL BE a dramatic production.

He will cry and cry and cry (even though he is mute he still makes the most pathetic, airy, squeaky sound you ever heard) until he is exhausted because he HATES riding in the car. And the crying will make me feel bad and I will worry myself into a frenzy.

Upon arrival at his new pad, he will slink around, belly to the ground, for a day and a half sniffing everything in sight and looking terrified. Around day two or three he should be relatively chill about the whole thing and find a nice place to sleep it off for the next three days where he’ll either reluctantly accept his new fate or plot some sort of revenge.

My only hope are the “herbal” calming chews that my father bought for Stanley at Christmas. I’ve given them to him before and it really does chill him out… This is, of course, assuming he doesn’t just eat around the chews—when I hide them in his food in order to trick him—or try to trick ME by pretending to eat them and then spit them out when I’m not looking.

Wish us luck and if all goes smoothly… I’ll live to write about it. And of course… OF COURSE I’ll be subjecting you sharing it with you just as soon as possible upon our return.

My Own Private Christmas

This is the day I’ve been waiting for. Two days before Christmas. Christmas Eve Eve if you will. Today I sleep until the Lord wakes me (instead of the alarm clock) then curl up with a nice, warm, artery-clogging breakfast, a good cup of joe and a cheesy Christmas movie… and Stanley, the cat. Naturally.

In my pajamas, wrapped in a soft blanket, the tree is twinkling and all of the presents beneath are wrapped in pretty paper, each topped off with a nice red bow. There is no more shopping to do. No more worrying about what to get and for whom. If they don’t like it… well… it’s too late now.

There are no parties to rush to or concerts and services to attend, therefore the Spanx, control top panty hose and tall leather boots are quietly stashed away in their respective closets and drawers. There is no fuss about a pair of flannel pants and old, college sweatshirt. There is no need for makeup. No one needs me today. And it is a thing of beauty.

Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve—when the family gatherings and church services begin—well, that will be another story. Today is what I like to call “My Own Private Christmas” with my own sacred practices and traditions. It is the gift that I give to myself… a chance to take a deep breath… and an opportunity to reflect on all of the beautiful people and things that make my life so full.

Were it not for all of them filling up the other 364 days of the year… there would be no need for a day like today.

Mini-Resolutions for 2012

With Christmas right around the corner, one’s mind turns to that of the New Year. Now, I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions… probably because I believe that by actually declaring my plan aloud I am pretty much sealing the deal on whether or not I will succeed. And yes… you guessed it… my rate of success usually winds up being a big, fat ZERO. So why then, would I ever consider ADVERTISING my impending personal failure by confessing my “New Year’s Resolutions” to family, friends and co-workers?

Additionally, it has been said by a good many people that declaring a “New Year’s Resolution” isn’t a great idea anyway. This is often due to the fact that said “Resolution” is ultimately too lofty or too complicated for one to actually achieve. Therefore, as an alternative, it is advisable to set smaller, more attainable ”goals” for oneself.

With the idea of “smaller goals” in mind, I have decided to try something entirely new this year… I am hereby resolving to take a few teensy, tiny, baby-steps toward personal change. Some “Miniature Resolutions” if you will…

1. In the mornings, I hereby resolve to only hit the snooze button 2 times instead of 3. This should get me to work 6 minutes earlier each day, which would result in roughly 1,560 minutes or 26 hours annually that I do not feel rushed… hence significantly limiting my chances of receiving additional traffic tickets that I cannot pay or becoming a perpetrator of road rage and winding up in prison. Therefore: ONE LESS MORNING SNOOZE = ZERO JAIL TIME

2. For the remainder of winter, I hereby resolve to wearing snow boots (no matter how ridiculous I look in them) from my house to the office in order to keep from dragging my feet, socks and bottoms of my dress pants through the wet snow every time I leave for work, therefore eliminating the possibility of frostbite to my lower extremities, leading to inevitable amputation. Therefore: SNOW BOOTS = MAINTAINING THE ABILITY TO WALK UPRIGHT

3. During the workday, I hereby resolve to make the switch to decaf. This should enable me to still enjoy my morning cup of coffee but without completely and totally bouncing off the proverbial walls and acting overtly chipper toward any grumpy, hateful, definitely-not-morning-people-co-workers, thus causing them to cease asking me WHY I have so much freakin’ energy all the time… and possibly even preventing them from conspiring against me. Therefore: DECAF = AVOIDANCE OF OFFICE LYNCHING

4. Regarding my daily 3 p.m. ”Sugar Quest,” I hereby resolve to STOP eating snacks every afternoon whilst sitting at my desk. One snack can run up to roughly 200 calories, totaling 1000 calories weekly or 50,000 calories annually! One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. 50,000 divided by 3,500 equals approximately 14 pounds!! Therefore: ELIMINATING DAILY MUNCHIE-FEST = FITTING MY @$$ INTO A SMALLER PAIR OF JEANS WITHOUT THE USE OF A SHOEHORN

5. With reference to laundry, I hereby resolve to wash, fold and put away my clothing on a weekly basis rather than allowing it to pile up to the point where I cannot find a clean pair of socks or underwear ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE, thus causing me to do an emergency wash at midnight, losing precious hours of sleep and arriving at any given destination damp, disheveled, wrinkled and cranky with a high probability of rockin’ mismatched socks. Therefore: KEEPING UP WITH THE LAUNDRY = ALWAYS APPEARING DRY, RESTED, WRINKLE-FREE AND WELL ACCESSORIZED

There is no need for a major, ritualistic, annual overhaul of one’s lifestyle or choices. I believe the above examples adequately illustrate the point that even the smallest of changes can quite often lead to BIG results!

By being committed to these 5 minor alterations, it is quite likely that I will indeed transform my entire life. If all goes according to plan, 2013 should find me absent of any sort of criminal record, able to use all TEN of my toes, sufficiently-caffeinated yet amazingly-rested, 14 pounds thinner, less stressed, pressed and well-dressed. Who can find fault with goals like that?

Me? A Morning Person?

As many of my regular readers probably already know… I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I am not even really an “awake” person. I love sleep. I adore sleep. I like falling asleep, staying asleep, going back to sleep, talking about sleep, writing about sleep, planning for my next sleep and finding extra time in my schedule for… you guessed it… sleep.

But, you see… I started something this week. It was kind of an accident and now it has snowballed into this whole “morning person” thing. And well, let’s be honest… mornings interfere with sleep… So I have what you might call a bit of a dilemma on my hands.

While trying to make an important deadline for work, I stayed up one night until I just hit the wall. It was only midnight, but I could go no further. So… as much as I HATED the thought of it… I had but one choice. Go to bed right then, set the alarm for an hour and a half earlier and get up and go to the office in the wee hours so as to meet said deadline.

And you know what? I got up, I ate a healthier, low-calorie breakfast, I encountered little traffic on my commute and the time alone at my desk proved to be quite productive. By the time my co-workers began to arrive, my early-morning-I-hate-everyone-and-am-bitter-because-I-am-awake fog had begun to lift. I felt alert and ready to tackle whatever challenges the day had to offer.

However, as with anything worthwhile… there is a price. By 5 p.m., though there was definitely still work to be done, I was done. I could work no more. I was tired and cranky and ready to hit the couch in my favorite baggy t-shirt and sweats. Well, I thought… I guess I’ll get up early again tomorrow and finish up this work before the real day begins.

This time, I went to bed one hour earlier and set the alarm for two hours earlier than usual. I got up, ate the healthy, fiber-packed breakfast, sped to work like a demon, got the best parking spot and finished several projects before anyone else dared darken the doorway.

By today—the third day—co-workers and Facebook friends have begun to wonder what the hell I’m doing up so early. (Like I’m not wondering the same exact thing…) “What are you doing up so early? What are you doing up so early?” everyone keeps asking me. And I tell them that I’ve just been finding the mornings to be a great time to get work done…

Not to mention that (as an aside) I’m secretly hoping the uber-early, super-healthy, low-calorie breakfast of champions combined with multiple cups of coffee may help me shed these unwanted pounds in time to break out my sweater dresses. Because, let’s face it… no amount of Spanx or control-top panty hose is going to hide an extra 10 pounds when it comes to body-hugging knits.

Anyway… back to mornings. So I guess what I’m saying is that there may be hope for me yet. Perhaps I can finally make peace with my alarm clock and stop abusing the snooze button after all. Maybe I can be a morning person! Maybe one day I’ll even get up and do one of the five different yoga DVDs currently collecting dust in a basket by my bed! Or go for a walk in the brisk, morning air… or take up kickboxing again…

But hear this… Morning person or no morning person… Nothing… and NO ONE is going to TOUCH my 12-hours-at-a-time-weekend-sleep-marathons.

Snooze Addiction

Sleep is like crack to me. I love it, I can’t live without it and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it. However, I do have a job and for this reason and this reason only I cannot sleep as often as I would like.

I manage to tear myself from between the sheets long enough to make it through the day. Coffee helps. Much of the time the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the prospect of a good healthy slumber later that night.

Having no offspring allows me to indulge in this unhealthy behavior. No one relies on me, save for my co-workers and occasionally my family. The cat requires that I slop a little brown goo into his bowl that he believes tastes like salmon and fill his water dish a few times a day… Toss a felt mouse in the air, rub some catnip into the carpet and let him chase my toes now and then… and he is a happy camper. All the rest of the time he is… sleeping. Usually right next to me.

I come from a long line of “sleepers.” I am told that my grandparents were big on naps and so are my parents. Though my parents somehow manage to nap AND sleep until 11 a.m. most days so… I definitely came by this honestly.

Trying to explain to those closest to me how much sleep I require can occasionally prove quite challenging. I have always needed a lot of sleep and I really, honestly cannot function without it. I’m not just saying that. Have you SEEN the Incredible Hulk? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? NOW you’re gettin’ the idea.

As is common with most addicts, one addiction can give way to another. And I am afraid that within the last year, I have developed a new addiction. To the snooze button. No matter how much sleep I get… if the alarm is set,  I hit the snooze button like it’s my JOB.

Initially, my use of the snooze was occasional and harmless. You know, a type of recreational snoozing if you will. 7 to 14 minutes, 21 minutes TOPS…  However, something seems to have changed and I am ashamed to admit that I am spiraling steadily downward into an abyss of flashing and glowing green digits and bad early-morning radio shows.

As shocking as it may seem… I now snooze for 60 minutes! I know… the mind reels that one could SNOOZE for such a very long time. And to think… entire, irretrievable hours of my life are now being spent in some dark, sleep-Katy-Perry-Onerepublic-crime-spree-account-Bruno-Mars-Adele-weather-and-traffic-report-awful-DJ-rants-and-jokes-Nicki-Minaj-splintered haze. I would be better off sleeping soundly for 30 of those minutes and just hauling my ass out of bed after the 2nd warning.

Perhaps, starting Monday I will try that and see what happens. If I break this cycle of addiction it could mean a whole new life! And if all else fails… There’s this…

Supernormal?

I am not this woman. Nor will I ever be. I could torture myself for not having her 5’11’’ willowy frame or for the daylight that cannot be seen streaming between my thighs when I walk. I could curse my reflection for a lack of sinewy arms and a concave stomach. I could beat myself bloody for the dewy, pore-less skin and silky, disgustingly thick hair that I’ll never have. I could pout endlessly that I am not a supermodel…

OR…

I could accept that I was born a normal girl to a normal middle-class family in the middle of normal America. It was not my lot in life to strut down catwalks in the latest fashions, party like a rock star drinking champagne until 3 a.m. and sleep past noon for that necessary “beauty rest.” Personal trainers, chefs, estheticians, dieticians and all kinds of other “ticians” are not at my beckon call.

It was my lot in life to go to college, get an 8 to 5 job, slurp my coffee from a travel mug given to me by the bank when I opened my meager account, grab Subway on the go for my “power lunch” and watch episodes of The Office while folding laundry in my modest 2 bed/2 bath house. This was my lot… just like the other 90% of America. OK, I don’t honestly know the actual statistics. But there is some kind of ridiculous majority out there living exactly like I do.

Our idea of a good time is tailgating before watching a baseball or football game and eating pizza and drinking beer with our equally normal friends after its over. If we’re fortunate, the occasional tropical, exotic or adventurous escape is something to enjoy and forever cherish… all the while knowing—as we sit at that charming café or under that umbrella at the beach—that this is, in fact, NOT OUR REALITY. Our reality is lurking just around the corner… waiting to kick our ass upon our immediate return.

But it’s not all bad. I get to exist on more than egg whites and sugar free Red Bull for a daily diet. There is no punishment or excommunication for gaining 5 pounds while on vacation and not taking it off for another 6 months. There is no paparazzi camped outside my home waiting to snap a picture of my all-of-the-sudden-suspiciously-fat butt or catch me in some compromising situation. And no one looks at me cross-eyed for sporting last year’s trends.

I don’t know why we as women are so hard on ourselves for not looking like we stepped from between the pages of Vogue. No one asks us to. No one expects us to. We do it to ourselves. Maybe some of us do it to each other. But really… It is NOT our job. Our job is just to be “normal” so that they can be “super” — and what in the world could be wrong with that?

Now… would I trade places with her if given the chance by my fairy godmother? Probably. But until then… I’ll just get the towels out of the dryer and reach for another slice of pizza… and the remote.

"Normal" me... in a "normal" seat... at a "normal" Red Sox game.