Who’s Perfect?

I have created a challenge for myself. Or rather, copied the challenge of someone else. Which I’m ok with, because imitation is the highest form of flattery. The challenge is to write for 30 minutes, every day, and post what I write. It sounds so simple, so easy. The entire point of it is to force out the words, and make it hard to go back and painstakingly edit everything that was written. Great in theory. In practice, it’s maddeningly frustrating.

I am so easily derailed. My focus gets interrupted, I start to doubt everything that I am writing, or I wander off topic completely. And then I look at the clock. Oh, look at how much time I’ve managed to waste. What was I doing the last five minutes? How can I salvage this? THIS CAN’T BE SALVAGED!

Then, as always, it becomes a race to perfection. A race that I know I won’t win. And every time, I wonder, why am I doing this to myself? Why am I beating myself up over something that was originally intended to be a great exercise in writing, and turning it into a way to find and criticize my shortcomings?

It’s helpful to remind myself that this post won’t matter in a year. It won’t matter in six months. It probably won’t even matter tomorrow. Which is good. It takes the pressure off. Sometimes I worry so much about falling short that I fail to try at all. Or I set goals that are too easy because they are clearly attainable. But, like I mentioned in another post, done is better than perfect. So I am going to continue rambling on, and at some point, I bet I come up with at least one awesome piece. Or at least a better one. And even if I don’t, no one can say it was for lack of trying. And failing. Repeatedly.

Do you have a problem with perfectionism? What helped you kick the habit?

Courage

In the pauses of music streaming through my headphones, I can hear dice being thrown. The man behind me raises his voice to make a point and someone starts coughing. I’m on a train headed to Scotland, the second part of a vacation that I’ve had planned since April, which started in London late last week. As I sit, watching the countryside fly past me, and an unreliable internet connection repeatedly kicking me off of service, I wonder how I’ve gotten here.

It was all a conscious choice, but with some huge changes in my future I sometimes wonder how the universe has aligned. At the beginning of next year I’ve decided to take a well earned break. Three years of back to back stress and life changes has worn me out, and stifled my creativity. I know I have so much to give, so much I love giving, but am too tired to dig deep enough to find it. I want to do work that is fulfilling and enjoyable. But first I need to decide where I’m headed.

So in an attempt to figure that out, I’ve decided to throw myself head on into the chaos by taking off about a year to travel. And when I made the decision, I had a sense of calm and peace that I’ve gotten to know well over the last few years. I know it’s the right choice, because I can feel it in every part of me. When I told my friends and family, they were overwhelmingly supportive, and not that surprised that I would choose this as a next step. They’ve come to terms with my brand of crazy. What hasn’t been so supportive is one small voice in the back of my head.

She’s the fearfully guilty one, always insisting that I do things the “right” way, although I’ve never really been interested in that. I’ve always been more concerned with doing what makes me happy. But on days like this, where I have little distraction other than drawing, music, and writing, her voice becomes clearer.

“What if this doesn’t go like you planned?”

“What if, in a year, you somehow become completely unemployable? You don’t want to be destitute.”

“It’s very irregular to take breaks like this. You are a hard worker. You should be working towards something.”

A few years ago, I would have sat with her, listened to her, attempted to assuage her with rationality. Sometimes I would win. And sometimes she did. But now, after years of her worrying inside my head I’ve finally learned how to shut her up. I hear that she’s scared, worried for my safety and well being, but I also know that a person never regrets an adventure. Life is the most beautiful adventure, and not taking action out of guilt or fear is the surest way to live a life of regret.

So I hear her, and I tell her, “No.” She doesn’t get an opinion in this conversation. Not anymore. I’m glad that she’s there. I’m cognizant of her fear, and I want it. I want to know where my limits are so that I can challenge and break through them. Without her, I am fearless, which I’m not interested in. In the absence of fear there is also an absence of courage. I welcome the opportunity to be scared, and to overcome it. So she can sit and whimper, wondering what will become of me, but she can’t stop me. And when I do go, it will be with courage.

We all have inner voices. How have yours hurt or helped you to find courage in your own life?

Say Anything?

Ah maaan, I think to myself, as the coins tumble out of my hand, clanking onto the counter. The man at the service desk murmurs a half-hearted apology and watches me fumble to pick up the change. Don’t mind me people, I’m just attempting to get laundry quarters. I should just keep buying more clothes and stop doing laundry altogether. I have what – three weeks worth of underwear? How hard would it be to get 344 more pairs? I could get them all on sale at Target. Laundry’s the worst. How do we send people to the moon but no one can figure out a better way to get my clothes clean? But apparently I’m ok to NEVER wash my Levi’s again, so that’s pretty cool. I should probably get a year’s worth of those, too.

 

I am always trying to be inconspicuous, disliking the stares of others. I usually assume I either have something on my face or a stain on my clothes when people look at me. You know, they see something that I can’t, but no one bothers to stop and say, “Hey did you notice you spilled strawberry ice cream ALL down the front of you?” But, in actuality, my ability to be inconspicuous only works when I’m in a busy place and manage to get stepped on. When I’m in a line with people behind me, of course, I drop all my washing machine quarters loudly.

 

My brain continues, stressed by the unexpected noise. This wouldn’t happen if I didn’t have such little hands. Why are my hands so creepy and child-like? Someone could definitely do a horror movie based on that. Little kids are always terrifying in movies. Like ‘The Orphanage’… holy shit that movie was scary. Creepy kids.

 

What I don’t realize though, as all of this is happening, is that my mouth has given me the opportunity to let everyone know what I’m thinking. I hate when it does this. So, what I end up actually saying, is “Ah man… it’s ok. Don’t worry about the quarters. This wouldn’t happen if I didn’t have such creepy child-like hands.” Wait – what??

 

As soon as I finish the sentence I look up and meet his eyes. Please laugh, pleeease just laugh, damnit. I giggle, making sure to smile generously, that way he knows that I’m letting him laugh at my weird thoughts.I’m giving him permission to make fun of me, and dismissing my own awkwardness. This is going to end up being funny for both of us. I know it… I just know it.

 

Nope. Nothing. So… this has reached a level of awkward I’m not comfortable with. Dumb quarters, stupid mouth, silly man behind the counter who obviously is devoid of humor and lives a laugh-less existence.

 

As I pick up my last quarter and drop them all into my purse, I’m not sure which is more unsafe… the odd thoughts that circle in my mind, or the mouth that clearly can’t contain them.

Vodka in Blue

We are having a drink at a fantastically swanky bar. I really like this place, from the color of the dark stone walls to the music in the background. I’m drinking something blue, and it reminds me of drinking a tropical afternoon on the beach. It smells vaguely of flowers and passionfruit.

I do not want to be here. I have ordered this concoction under duress, with the pretense of “getting together for a drink,” a.k.a – a date. In fact, I am loathe to be here. I want to drink my glass of alcoholic fairy water as quickly as possible, but with all the vodka snuck in there, that would mean I would need to eat something…. Which would mean I would have to stay here longer.

I force a grin and look down into my glass. It’s so damn blue I want to swim in it like a spring.

You smile at me and start talking; interested in connecting. I hear what you are saying. I’m listening. I participate. But my heart’s not in it. I’m too busy trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. There is obviously something wrong with you because you chose me. I can’t figure out what it is though. In the absence of obvious malice or malady, I simply assume that you are crazy.

That would be the logical conclusion, right? Like a depressing math equation: Boy + Certain Girl = Insane Boy. Sounds about right to me.

The bartender must have given me more than a pint of this blue goodness, but I can’t force it down any faster than I’m gulping. I throw in a few anecdotes about myself, deciding exactly how much information to give you, as you are clearly a maniac, while simultaneously wondering if I should make up horribly ridiculous lies just to see your reaction.

Seriously, how long does a date have to last? I’m in the middle of a book called “Hild” right now and am really desperate to get home and see who is winning the war with the Celts.

You are talking about your job, your last hiking vacation, and the time your mom came in to town to visit. I am trying not to make erroneous, shallow, or otherwise unfounded judgments about you. I am failing. You seem so nice. You have a gentle smile and eyes that laugh as loudly as you.

I hate the pitiful emptiness that gurgles out of my finished drink. You ask if I want another. I tell you I can’t because I’m driving. I mention the time and you acknowledge it’s getting late. I talk about a morning meeting tomorrow and how hard it is to have calls with Europe so early on a Friday. You dutifully agree that mornings are pretty much hell and I impress upon you that I really should leave and get home. I have to get out of here. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, nice man with the kind smile. I have no idea what your problem is, but have a strong feeling that it might be me.

vulnerable

My fortress of solitude. At least it's pretty. Don't hate.

My fortress of solitude. At least it’s pretty. Don’t hate.

The rain is pounding on the roof and the wind won’t stop howling. I’m looking at the movie, but really watching him. I wonder what would happen if I actually told him what I thought. I play the scene out in my head, about six different ways, and each of them ends in catastrophe. So I say nothing. When he looks at me I smile and look back at the movie.

Of course I wasn’t watching you, how odd would that be?

I don’t know why I keep pretending my heart’s not already out there. Available and free for the taking.  And I still don’t know what I’m so afraid of. Well, yes I do. But I have to maintain a sense of composure, a sense of dignity. Damnit I have my pride! And my pride is best maintained with silence.  A fortress, if you will, of solitude.

Besides all that, I already know the conclusion. I remember saying I had no expectations. This is still true, but in my mind, sometimes, everything plays out differently. I am just not sure what to do with the pieces of me. Not sure where to put them or how to place them correctly. A long time ago, I thought I knew my heart. But now, there are all of these gaps and open spaces. The light shines through and gives away the frailty of what I’m working with.  I think all of the pieces are still there, but I just can’t quite figure out how I’m put together. So for now, I guess I’ll just keep my mouth shut, and watch this stupid movie.

pingback: Daily Prompt: Fright Night

Getting a new iPhone is like…

IMG_0032

Eating a funfetti cupcake. Yum.

inside-of-homemade-funfetti-cupcake-2

(amazing cupcake photo courtesy of Life and Food Porn)

I bet you didn’t see that one coming. But bear with me; I’m pretty sure this isn’t what you think it will be.

A couple weeks ago, I got my new iPhone. When I found out that it had finally come in the mail, I typed “ERMAHGERD, I AM EXCITE,” to my friend, just so she could understand the level of excitement emanating from me at that moment. It was new, it was different, it was updated, it was…. better!!

I thought about the phone for a good portion of the day, contemplating it’s shiny new-ness, and laughing at my current iPhone 4 and it’s age related shortcomings, while simultaneously pleading it to continue working. I considered all of the extra features, imagined how fast it would be, and of course wondered about the awesome gold “plate” on the back of it.

I picked the iPhone up at Office #2 after I got done from work at Office #1, gloriously parading the box around for the empty office and my imaginary sidekicks to see. Once I was satisfied that all the inanimate objects in the office had gotten an appropriate glimpse of the box that held the shiny new-ness, I promptly went home to begin The Transfer. In an effort to keep the excitement running as long as possible, I likened this to Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and (of course) imagined that I was Dr. Frankenstein, and the iPhone – my monster.

I went through all the normal back-ups and phone activation. Through this activation process I finally understood that passwords control my life to the point that I’m not allowed to make a call from the number that I pay for, with the phone I bought with my money, unless I enter the secret password I set about 8 years ago (seriously, what the hell is the extra password for….). After going through all these steps and managing to not ruin, impair, or otherwise permanently disable my phone (honestly, I am completely non-technical. I can barely manage to get a blog posted with both links and pictures), my phone was…. A L I V E.

It then proceeded to say “hello” in more languages than I have fingers and toes, all while calmly walking me through set up. Pretty soon, I was back on the main home screen and ready to go. Done and done.

And this anti-climactic ending, this smallest of denouements, my dear readers, is why a new iPhone, in all it’s shiny golden-backed glory, is like a funfetti cupcake with rainbow chip icing….

You see, I love those cupcakes. They shaped my childhood in a way that only sugar highs and the smell of baked goods can. As a child, when you eat a funfetti cupcake, they are always delicious. And somehow, the deliciousness multiplies exponentially with the number of cupcakes you stuff into your face.

But as you get older, something changes. You look at the cupcake with the same food lust as before.

“The cupcake is delicious.”

“I will eat this cupcake and it will be as though unicorns are prancing around me. A pegasus will fly overhead. That is how good this cupcake will be.”

But you realize, once you finally get your gluttonous paws on it, that it’s just another funfetti cupcake with rainbow chip icing. In fact, it’s even a little dry from slight overcooking and being set up on the counter. And the icing, it’s still good. Well mostly, but now it bites with sugar in a way that is slightly less than pleasant.

But you eat it anyway and you smile. Maybe even take another. And your deliciousness factor will not increase exponentially, but you’ll still remark on how good it is. You will talk about the cupcake and repeat, “I know, I love these things!” You will do this because it is expected. You will do this because you accept that it is expected and have subsequently become a willing participant. But most of all, you will do this because two cupcakes are always better than one, a new iPhone is better than the old, and the only language we all seem to understand is more.