Isn’t It (Not) Ironic

 

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One of the worst sounds in domestic life is that of a single sock hitting the floor when you have a full armload of laundry.

You’ve got it all under control, you’re taking care of business, and then one damn piece of fabric gives up on fighting gravity and suddenly you’re cursing your entire existence, exasperated by how impotent and futile humanity really is.

No? Just me? Oh, come on, be honest. You’ve wanted to swear at a stray sock or your husband’s underwear at least once. Life is hard enough without having to chase after stray undergarments while a white-hot pants-button brands LEVIS on your forearm.

I’ve said it before: it’s the little things in life. Usually I say that in a positive way; the little things are worth noticing, enjoying, breathing in. But the opposite is also true; the little things are able to make you angry, frustrated, and hopeless. And it can seem completely arbitrary. Sometimes, a little thing is no big deal. Sometimes it’s the best part of your day. Sometimes it’s the worst part of your day.

I decided to do some baking recently, and while using a stand mixer, I accidentally turned it on high before all the flour had mixed in, and flour flew everywhere. On me, the counter, the fruit on the counter, the floor. And it was funny. A friend took a picture, I swept the flour up, I moved on.

Last week, I realized I couldn’t find my favorite shirt. I’ve had it for a couple years now, it has some paint on it, and it shouldn’t be a big deal. But yesterday, when I spent some time looking for said shirt to no avail, I started thinking feeling like the entire universe is out to get me.

ThinkstockPhotos-153017775It’s like having ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. Which is not irony, by the way, it’s just the way of the world.

We are not in control.

 

In fact, there are really very few things within our control, and even our emotions are not always one of those things. How you feel is how you feel. You can develop ways to deal with and move beyond those feelings, but you still can’t control everything.

A sock falling onto the floor may always make you want to put your fist through the nearest wall. But it doesn’t have to ruin your day.

Just like enjoying the little things can be delightful, accepting the little things can be freeing. It’s just the way of the world. You are not in control.

Let’s pick up the socks and move on.

Flirting at Walmart

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One evening last week, I was planning to go to the gym and then go to KJ’s house for dinner and a movie. She very considerately offered to let me shower at her house in between, so that I wouldn’t have to go home and then out again.

Things you need to know:

  1. I have been blessed with a pale face that turns the color of tomato soup as soon as my heart rate rises above two or three beats per minute.
  2. This particular day was a high cardio day at the gym.
  3. It had been raining in Indiana for almost a week straight.
  4. I had just purchased new rain boots (specifically for our 100 Hole Golf Challenge at work, but that’s another story.)
  5. KJ lives two minutes from a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

So. I wore my new rain boots to the gym, changed into my CrossFit shoes there, worked out, put my rain boots back on, and then drove to Walmart to pick up a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream to contribute to dinner, since KJ was cooking.

Once I arrived at Walmart, my face still brick red and sweating profusely, I headed past the checkout lines toward the frozen food.

When the first gentleman addressed me, I looked at him to see if I knew him. Why else would someone say, “Hey, girl,” when I was in that state?

I did not know him.

“Hey,” I said, and kept walking. I only went a few more steps before I heard a wolf whistle come from the chip aisle. Really? I looked and saw another gentleman, a man you would expect to see at Walmart, looking back at me. I kept walking. During the no-more-than ten minutes I was there, at least five (I wasn’t counting because I didn’t expect it to happen, let alone to continue) different men either made comments or gestures in my direction.

Now, I do consider myself to be a feminist. I get annoyed when people don’t respect me, and straight up angry when people don’t respect the amazing women I know. But this particular situation just baffled me. Really, guys? You want a piece of what’s happening here? If I was in a grocery store and saw a woman buying a pint of ice cream and a bottle of wine, I sure wouldn’t mess with her. Even if she wasn’t dressed like this:

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Not only that, but we had been practicing double-unders at the gym (jumping rope where the rope goes around twice for every jump) and I’m very bad at it, which means I had red welts all over my hands, arms, and legs. IMG_0142

Now don’t go getting worried about my self-image. After a lot of years of battling doubt and fears, I have reached a fairly healthy place, where if my body feels good, I feel good about however I look. Part of that has been a process of accepting that strong can be sexy. I’m not a magazine model and never will be, but I can deadlift 200 lbs on a Monday morning and then just go to work. I like being that kind of girl.

So it’s not that I don’t think I’m the kind of girl who could have 5-7 men notice her in one trip to Walmart. It’s that I was so clearly not asking for it, in any way, shape, or form.

In conclusion:

Can we all just eliminate the, “she must have been asking for it or dressing like she wanted attention or behaving in a way that invited that” argument from our defense bank?

And can we all acknowledge how AWESOME my new boots are?

 

Good Enough

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It seems that someone (who I suspect shares a large portion of my DNA) recently reminded my grandmother that I have a blog.

I say “reminded” because she definitely knew at one point, but apparently she forgot and stopped reading. I know someone reminded her because she’s been in the hospital, and when I called her to check on her earlier this week, she said, “I just heard that you are writing and when I get out of here I’m going to go home and read all about you on the internet!”

My first thought was, “Dammit, Jan!” which is a phrase we use in our house that basically means, “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess and now I have to deal with it,” and actually has nothing to do with a wonderful woman we all know in real life whose name is Jan. Just trust me when I tell you that’s the short explanation.

All that to say, I felt slightly uncertain of what to do, because my blog isn’t really grandmother appropriate. I mean, it certainly could be worse. I could be blogging about my side job on the stripper pole. I’m not. I’m writing about my life.

thinkstockphotos-606675604And although my expensive college education didn’t teach me helpful things like how to change my car oil, I did learn that you can write about anything, and get away with any language or uncomfortable topics, if you are good enough.

But, of course, that means you have to be good enough.

And so, since I am an anxiety-prone individual, my immediate concern of my grandma-appropriateness quickly spiraled outward to the worthiness of the whole enterprise of me blogging. Is this okay? Am I okay? Am I doing something worthwhile? Am I doing a good job?

This week I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and her young daughter put on a comedy show for me. It was as awesome as it sounds. (Why do golfers wear two pairs of pants? … In case they get a hole in one!) After the show, my friend said to her daughter, “I think maybe I should send you to theater camp next summer.”

The little girl smiled quickly, but then in the space of a second her face changed to uncertainty. “Do you think I’d be good enough?” she asked her mother.

Oh man. We learn so young to question ourselves. To doubt that we can measure up. To say, “Should I even do this if I can’t do a good job?”

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth coming back to.

You don’t have to be good enough. You just have to do it. You just have to start. To try. To step forward. No matter who is in the audience, and no matter what you think they may think.

Don’t let the people watching decide what you’re “good enough” to do. 

I will continue my grandma-inappropriate blog. Because “good enough” does not control me.

Thunderclouds and Whiskey Tears

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They say the bad days make the good days better.

I don’t know who “they” are, but I’m not a fan. In fact, I think they’re not very bright.

I woke up on Sunday morning, peeled my eyelids apart, and blinked at the clock until it came into focus. This took several minutes. After finally ascertaining that I had, indeed, slept through my alarm, I sat up. Then stood up. And the whole world swayed.

Although I’ve never had a proper ‘rage against the world, clamp your hands over your ears’ hangover, I’ve experienced enough to know that this day, I felt hungover. I honestly don’t remember if I had any alcohol on Saturday night, but if I did, it certainly wasn’t enough to create a hangover. This feeling was coming from purely internal sources, the causes of which I am still unaware.

But today was the day of my dear friends’ important life event. I damn sure wasn’t gonna miss it.

Dressed in my roommate’s clothes, makeup covering the bleariness, I headed out the door.

I made it through the first part of the event with relative ease, even though I was unable to get my hands on any coffee. And really, I think we should acknowledge that for the miracle it was.

But then my social buffer left. (You know the kind of person I’m talking about. Actually, you probably know the person herself. Social Buffering should be her lifelong career.)

Anyway. I was now alone, in the direct sunshine, dehydrated, under-caffeinated, underfed but not at all hungry, and surrounded by a large handful of people who were uncomfortable speaking with me, due to some messy church nonsense.

And to top things off, all I could think about was how horrible life is and how I would rather not be alive.

I wanted to celebrate with my friends. I wanted to stay, to be present, to enjoy what was honestly one of the best events of its kind I have been to.

And I did stay. Because it was important.

But then I drove home, changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt, scrubbed the makeup off my face, downed a glass of whiskey, crawled into bed, and cried violently while I watched 3 hours of a political drama show.

By 5 pm, I had to face the facts. I was having a really bad day. When I was in high school, people described something negative by saying it sucked eggs. Well, this day sucked rotten eggs from a dead chicken. On garbage day. In India. During monsoon season.

This day was not going to make my good days better. This was the kind of day that keeps me looking over my shoulder on my good days, wondering if the thunderclouds and whiskey tears are about to descend. This was the calendar equivalent of a gremlin. It could come back, in a new form, wreaking havoc in unexpected moments. It could haunt me.

But…not if I accepted it. It’s sort of backwards, really. I had two options. One, I could keep being frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, depressed, and beating myself up about having a terrible day. Or two, I could keep being frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, and depressed, but accept it. If I said, “Yes. This is terrible. Rotten eggs all around. But it does not own me, or defeat me to accept that. I am not broken by a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” then I could get up the next morning and not look over my shoulder for the gremlins. The gremlins can attack. And that’s okay.

The bad days don’t make the good days better. The bad days remind you that no day has the power to destroy you, unless you let it.

So in this season, it might seem small, but that’s my first and most important action step for getting through a bad day. Acceptance.

I’d love to know – how do you get through a terrible day?

Missing the Bus

I notice the flashing of yellow over yellow, the lights of the school bus sending me a warning. My brain knows there’s a proper response, but searches foggily for what that response may be. My reflexes move my foot from the gas to the brake, procedural memory telling me what my thoughts haven’t come up with yet. The bus and I come to a stop, yellow changing to red. We wait.

Some fog drifts by and drips on my windshield. Nothing else happens.

The lights turn off and the bus starts moving again, STOP sign folding up neatly.

My car rolls ahead, and I glance at the abandoned bus stop as I pass, vaguely wondering if there’s a child somewhere getting a reprimand for missing the school bus. What is that like? Knowing you missed the bus? That your day is off to a rocky start? I didn’t ride the bus as a child, so I don’t know what that feels like.

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I arrive at the office, stepping carefully across the puddled parking lot. I drip on the carpet. I stare at my computer. I listen, as people around me talk. I drink coffee, hoping for a miracle from the dark nectar of the gods.

“Should you be here?” My coworker’s voice is skeptical.

“Are you not feeling well?” My bosses’ faces seem amused. No, concerned. What is that expression? I give up on placing it, deciding it doesn’t matter.

I go home, lie in bed.

“What do you need?” My roommate is persistent in asking a question I appreciate but can barely understand.

“What happened?” A dinner guest sounds ignorant to me, as though a single event explains everything.

What happened? I missed the bus. That’s what happened. I missed the bus to Functionville. And there’s no recovery from that, it seems.

Have you ever missed that bus?

It feels like

weight coming down, limbs pulled into the mattress, head too heavy to hold up.

lights so bright and glaring that they sting my eyes and burn the outside of my skin, like a day in the desert.

sounds that overwhelm my ears, people’s voices turning into constant noises like car horns in traffic.

my pulse slowing until my blood cools in my veins, circulation changing and fingers and toes going white.

a headache, the kind that both pulses and stabs, defying any power that caffeine and ibuprofen have ever had.

sadness, weariness, loneliness, fear, anger, bitterness, and above all, the sense that nothing will ever be right or easy.

It feels like there is no recovery. No bus that takes me back to the world of “normal” or even “halfway human.” I can’t get there from here.

It feels like “lost.”

But today is better. Today is clear enough to write these words, to say hello, to ask for forgiveness. Today I climb on the bus whose route heads toward “life,” and the driver smiles when he punches my ticket.

Today I made it on the bus.

Value Information

My last post, one I did not publish, was entitled, “Why I want a husband, but don’t need one.” It was a cranky, frustrated, and self-righteous piece bursting with comparisons between me and the general populace, written after I’d spent almost two days replacing the PVC joints in the water system in my garage. It was all true, of course, but hardly edifying or enlightening in any way.

So instead of publishing that, I thought I’d talk about something else I feel self-righteous about: information.

In my opinion, it is perfectly valid to express your opinion on a subject, even a trivial one. To quote Oscar Wilde, “I love to talk about nothing. It’s the only thing I know anything about!” However, when you express your opinion on a subject without doing any research first, all that happens is that you sound like an idiot to those of us who are informed and you really confuse those of us who aren’t.

As an example, I would like to take the recent surge in snarky comments on social media about “global warming.” This is, no doubt, due to the “polar vortex,” or, as someone has dubbed them, “Snowpocalypses I & II” (which has really confused me, as I haven’t seen either Marlon Brando or the Four Horsemen anywhere.)

People have started to attest that global warming is unfounded because it’s too cold to walk to their mailbox in their slippers. I do agree, it is too cold to walk to the mailbox in my slippers. And I’m not going to argue for global warming. I’m just asking that if you are going to argue one way or the other, would you mind doing a bit of research first?

A quick web search reveals that global warming’s effects would include a wider temperature range and increased volatility of the environment. Although I hate science, I’m pretty sure that “volatility of the environment” can account for the need to put on actual shoes when leaving my house.

Although, all of that said, I would also recommend that you be careful when you do your research. If you decide to follow the Twitter handle @globalwarming you will receive a fascinating array of information including things like, “Scientists say earthworm poo could provide window into past climates.” (Yes, that’s a direct quote.) In order to discover if that is true I’d have to do some research on earthworm poo, something I’m just not willing to do. But if you are, more power to you, and let me know what you discover.

My point is this: information is valuable. So treat it well. Even if it’s about earthworm poo.