Have you ever rebounded from a moment of stupidity so hard that, in comparison, you feel like a freakin’ genius?
I just did that. Before I tell this story, I want to establish a few facts: 1) I am NOT good at math. My brain processes numbers like a toddler eats breakfast – lots of smashed/thrown cheerios and slobbery fingers before any eating (mathing) is actually accomplished. 2) Some people have the ability to laser focus under stress. I thought I was one of those people, but in this instance I jumped straight from issue-at-hand to PANIC MODE. 3) The three days I took off for Thanksgiving can NOT come fast enough.
I’m planning a big recognition ceremony for my division in December. Time is ticking away and deadlines are fast approaching, a.k.a. the usge. Being the GENIUS that I am, I ordered the awards for this ceremony months ago. One of these awards is a car magnet I designed – looks pretty sweet.
So yesterday I was going through my inventory and realized I have eight of one magnet, and only seven of another. OMG I’M MISSING ONE. CRAP. These magnets are costly and take a while to print – it would be such a waste of money to have just one more printed. I search my desk, my colleague’s desk, my home – the missing magnet is lost to this world. I dream about this magnet that ghosted from my life.
When I’m stressed I make mountains out of molehills, and this problem, in retrospect, doesn’t even qualify as a molehill. Moles look at this problem and turn up their little pink snouts. “What is this, a hill made for ants?” they squeak.
This morning I came in to work and recounted the magnets just in case I counted wrong the first five times (a real possibility for me). As I’m sifting through the magnets I realize that I really only need FOUR of each and I intentionally ordered extra all those months ago, back when the sun was shining and my head was screwed on straight.
So I was so stupid that I forgot how smart I was. G-E-N-I-U-S.
UPDATE: I just spilled water all over my crotch, BUT I wore black jeans today. STILL A GENIUS.
I had a pretty brutal meeting this morning. The kind that tested my filter, which, little shout out to me, is growing stronger by the day. The thought “Did you really just say that to me?” filtered through my lips as “I hear you, and that’s definitely something to work on moving forward.”
Even though my filter is stronger than it used to be, my heart is still pretty tender. I can filter the words coming out of my mouth, but the words of criticism coming in still snake through my ears and fly in circles in a room in my mind marked “You’re a Failure, Just Give Up.”
The bouncer for this room sucks, or maybe I should pay him more, because too many thoughts live in there. “They think you’re stupid. You don’t know what you’re doing. Why didn’t you do XYZ before the meeting? Seriously, why do you even try?”
Sometimes I go into the bathroom at work to momentarily escape the glaring florescent lights illuminating my desk and failures. That sounds dramatic, but when I’m at my lowest (post meeting smackdown) it helps to be in a dark, quiet room.
When I come out of the stall today, I see one of my work friends washing her hands. She asks me how I’m doing and I’m honest – I feel kind of crap at the moment. After I shared a broad overview of the meeting, she delivered some of the best advice I’ve received lately, and a kernel of wisdom that my fellow twenty-somethings may find useful:
“Since I got this job, I’ve come under fire a few times, and I’ve learned a method for how to deal with it. When a storm of criticism or critique blows your way, detach yourself from the emotion of the delivery and try to hear the facts of what is being said. Try to glean any useful information from the criticism so that you can move forward from there. And if there is no useful information…throw it in the trash.
And remember, this is your job – your mistakes here do not define you. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that if you’re feeling beaten down. This does not define me. Their criticisms do not define me. How can I improve this situation?”
Then she gave me a hug and told me not to worry.
So in case you were wondering, human goodness is alive and well.
It’s usually not a good sign when you start the day with an argument – especially when the argument is with yourself.
That was this morning for me. After hitting snooze for an hour, I finally opened my eyes to the new day.
Me: But you have to. They’re going to think you don’t care at all.
Me: But I DON’T CARE AT ALL.
Me: That’s not true.
Me: But it looks like rain. Also my back hurts. And I have cramps. And I swear I could sleep all day.
It went on like this for another hour. I had to convince myself to be an adult and just go to work. It sounds simple in theory, but when the will is weak, anything and everything seems impossible.
The problem was I had already decided that today was going to be pointless. I envisioned myself sitting at my desk, trying to start a task, maybe opening the application for said task before clicking on BuzzFeed.
But somehow I got dressed, made myself a smoothie, put on my people face and walked out the door. And I’m glad I did. These are the great things I would have missed if I had just stayed in bed and re-watched “Ugly Betty” episodes all day (which was the master plan this morning):
1. The flowers my coworker gave me for no reason other than to brighten my day.
2. This email chain.
Web Designer: You guys, thanks for all your hard work. We’ve been ahead of schedule for the past two weeks. You rock!
Web Designer: Me at my desk right now.
Editor: Me at my desk…
Me: Me at my desk.
3. The Boyfriend calling me this morning just to ask how my day was going.
4. Hearing a woman in line at Harris Teeter enunciate “improvement” on the phone with growing venom in her voice and feeling that “ooooo-yer-gunna-get-it” feeling for the person on the other end of that call.
5. The little girl who told me she liked my hair on my walk home.
Life Lesson Learned: Getting out of bed is hard, but people usually make it worthwhile.
Agent of Misery: “Hi, can you approve this proof so we can start the job?”
Me: Cool, a present! *click*
Adobe Reader Pro: *poop*
“The proof is pixelated, could you fix this, please?”
Agent of Misery: “It looks fine from this end…it’s probably a problem with your monitor.”
Me: Have you ever used a computer? “Yeah, my screen resolution is fine, the proof is definitely pixelated. Could you fix it?”
Agent of Misery: “Have you tried printing it?”
“Yeah, and *guess what* it’s pixelated. Please resend the proof.”
Me with Today:
My parents made the difficult decision to euthanize our beloved dog Tip today. She spent most of last night whining and crying in her bed. She lived with pretty consistent pain for the past couple days, if not weeks, years. She was 18 years old, give or take – we’re not really sure. My stepdad Mike rescued her from an early death in 1997 when a buddy of his could no longer take care of her. He would have given her up to a pound, where she most likely would have been euthanized. Mike drove 30 miles to pick her up. She was by his side faithfully ever since. Nearly two decades of loyal devotion. She gave us two litters of beautiful puppies. She outlived our beloved Buck, her mate, by several years. Her death was slow and full of struggle – she couldn’t even walk anymore. She fell in her own mess. She picked her head up every minute in confusion and pain. We took her to the vet on Cypress North Houston, just a couple blocks from the house. Mike laid her in the cab of the truck – she had one last ride. She used to love riding in the back of that truck. I remember one time we were in Bandera, we left her in the back of the truck. When I walked up I noticed she was bleeding out of her rear end. I was scared she way dying, but Mike told me she was just in heat. That was so long ago – over a decade. Mike carried her into the vet and she knew something was wrong. She didn’t want to be there. She squirmed in his arms and I knew it was killing him. That’s what made me cry – knowing that he could hardly keep it together. He was killing his dog. The best dog he ever had. She loved him and he loved her the most. But he had to kill her. She was in so much pain. He carried her into the vet room and tried to lay her on the table, but she squirmed and cried. She cried in pain. The fluorescent lights were harsh and I hated it. I wanted to take her home. We could have paid someone to come to the house and inject her there, but it was a lot of money. I wish we had. I hated that room, and so did she. Mike cradled her in his arms and kept her still, saying “I’m sorry, girl. I know this isn’t right. This isn’t the way it should be. I’m sorry.” I asked him if he still wanted to do this, and he said there was no other choice. She calmed down but the look in her eyes was heartbreaking. Mom described it as “You’ll take care of me, won’t you?” Did we? We killed her. It was a mercy kill, but does that make it OK? I told Mom it was the right thing to do, but who knows? We could have kept her alive. It would have meant more work on Mom and Mike’s part. It would have continued to be a struggle. She would still be in pain. Part of me is glad she’s dead – glad for my parents, so they don’t have to worry about her being in pain anymore. But I’m not glad for Tip. She’s dead, and there’s no good in that. Everyone clings to life because it’s precious. I’m sad for Tip. I’m sad for us. Today is a sad day. I miss her.
The vet injected her in front of us. He called it a lethal injection. He was very business-like. She was already sedated, but when he injected her she got all rigid. The vet described that is typical. I wanted him to leave. He tried explaining away our sadness, which just made me more sad. I’ve seen a dog die before – I held Ryan’s dog, Foxy, in my arms when she died. She got rigid too and defecated on the grass. I wasn’t shocked when Tip started expelling the extra breath from her lungs (as described by the vet when she started heaving). My mother was in agony. The bright lights made it worse. It was all so clinical, especially with the vet explaining each step of her death to us. When Mom broke down he finally excused himself. Tip continued to give out hacking breaths even after her heart stopped beating. Mom kept putting her hand to her chest and panicking, saying “I can still feel her heart beat.” It was just the muscle spasms. It made me realize how difficult it is to pinpoint the exact moment of death – is it when the heart stops beating or when the muscles finally relax? Or is it when the lungs are completely out of air? The body is amazing in its persistence – she peed herself one last time. She was leaking when the vet carried her back into the room after inserting the IV. She was sedated, but I hated that they took her away from us to insert it. There are so many moments from today that I regret. But they were all out of my control. That’s probably how my parents feel too. Things could have gone better, but what else were we supposed to do? Continue to let our beautiful, loving dog suffer? Would it have been more merciful to just shoot her like Old Yeller? There is no dignity in death.
We stood there petting her until we felt the warmth leave her body. Mike carried her, shrouded in a floral sheet, to the truck. smacking her snout on the door as he lifted her into the bed. That image will forever be seared into my memory. The truck engine wouldn’t turn over – “This happens every now and again – the worst possible timing.” It was almost comical – we were stranded in the parking lot with a dead dog in the back of the truck. Luckily the engine finally turned over and we drove home. We buried her in the backyard next to Buck. Jess, her pup and our only dog left, rolled around in the leaves. It will probably take her a while to realize her mom is gone. I don’t think she really understands, although later tonight I noticed her looking around the house, like she was searching for her.
Last year around this time we were dealing with the loss of my beloved Aunt Shelle. I’m afraid that the New Year is turning into a time for grief. The hardest thing is realizing that memories and pictures are all you have left of them. I will never hear Aunt Shelle’s actual voice again. I will never hear Tip’s long nails clacking across the wood floors again. Her body is buried under a mound of cold mulch in the back yard. Even though I know she’s dead and can’t feel anything anymore, I can’t help worrying that’s she’s cold and afraid out there. But there’s no more we can do.
I recently subscribed to Birchbox. It is an oh-so-magical and enchanting thing. For a paltry $10 a month you get a box of fancy beauty samples and treats, like moisturizers with willow bark and portulaca oleracea extract (whaaaa) in them and tiny vials of perfume that smell like Macy’s and sophistication. I haven’t yet received my first box but I’m convinced it’s going to blow my freaking mind when I do.
I’m usually quite the penny pincher, but since moving to DC my finances have gotten away from me. My savings is quickly dwindling from the several essential IKEA purchases (really, what would my life be without stainless steel coasters? And they only cost $6!) and other furnishings for the new apartment. I expected this – I’ve been saving for this my entire life – but it’s kind of awe-inspiring how quickly I can drop a G.
Part of the problem is having too much free time. I get home from work every day around 3 p.m. and have three to four hours alone before the guys get home. That unsupervised free time is when I do the most damage. BuzzFeed recently had an article about 21 Books That Will Teach You Something. This led me to buy five of those books. Now, I bought them on Amazon, and some of them only cost 1 cent (not including the $4.99 for shipping…), so it wasn’t a huge splurge. But that was $20+, POOF! Gone!
I have a bookmark labeled “Wishlist” in Chrome, and one of my favorite things to do now is bookmark the things I think I need. GAP and Banana Republic get several hits a week, obviously. Amazon for more books (even though I haven’t cracked a single one of the ones I just bought…). I came dangerously close to buying a couple ounces of face scrub from Lush for far too much money the other day. And now Birchbox. When did I become such a big spender?
Oh, probably since this.
I think paying my last credit card balance will help me slide back into financial normalcy. The past couple months have been a whirlwind of excitement – OOOO shiny! MUST HAVE. Now that I have a furnished living room and a healthy dose of shame, it’s time to dial it back.
But I refuse to give up my Sunday morning brunch. As my friend Hannah says: “Brunch doesn’t count.”
I eat nothing but frozen pizzas and beans on toast during the week in preparation for my spiritual revival at Wonderland Ballroom. It is nothing short of a miracle.
It’s Friday and all I can think is “two more days.”