Monthly Archives: August 2010

#??: The 30 Thing That Never Was

Oh, the crossroads of life...

Dear readers: it’s time I come clean. I haven’t been completely honest with you. We’ve been writing this blog for the better part of five months, during which time I’ve been all boastful about how successful I’ve been in completing my list of 30 Things on time and with gusto. I’ve told you all about (ad nauseum) how 30 Things has change my life, blah, blah, blah. I’ve made it seem all rainbows and puppies and flowers. But I’m here to tell you that along the road, I stumbled. One day, I said no freakin’ way am I having anything to do with that noise and I’m going to cry in the corner just thinking about it NO to something I would normally say no to, breaking the cardinal rule of 30 Things: Say YES to things you would normally say no to. You can see the subtle difference here, yes?

So, I’m owning up and telling you that, yes, I’ve failed. I’VE FAILED, gosh darn it.

Here it is. The 30 Thing that never was. The story goes a bit like this:

“I’VE got a 30 Thing for you,” Ben (our good friend over at No Ordinary Rollercoaster) says in his usual far-more-enthusiastic-than-my-straight-husband voice. “My best friend is coming home in January and it’s going to be a gong show. We’re heading to a gay dance bar with a big group of people. It will be a blast. You must come!” Insert jumpy claps here.

Reciprocated by my even bigger jumpy claps, I squeal “Hello?! Of course I’ll come. That’s TOTALLY a 30 Thing for me. I’ve never been to a gay bar! Eeeeeeee!” (LIFE LESSON: mirror or exceed your gay friend’s enthusiasm at all costs, else compromise your likability and risk Perez Hilton-esque judgment. Just sayin’.)

With all the jumping and clapping and heel clicking (OK, that was just me) it all seemed so innocent at the time. A night out with the ever-fab Ben, and a few others lovelies. An evening at a bar I’ve never been to, nor would normally go out of my way to go to. And a bit of mischief. A great 30 Thing equation: normally say NO + opportunity to say YES = YES. Don’t worry, I can teach you all the complexities of this equation another time.

And that was it. I didn’t give much thought to our evening after that. It sounded like a great time, and while it, seemingly, wouldn’t raise the bar on my night at the strip club, it had the potential to be on par. Excellent opportunity for progress, I thought.

Until the day came. Suddenly, I was ridden with anxiety. My chest tightened and I got all cranky and moody, swatting at things in the air that didn’t really exist. But I kept going about my day, talking and behaving as if I was going that night, slipping into conversation that “I needed to get home and get ready to go out” as if I was giving myself a secret pep-talk and ensuring that those around me wouldn’t know that I was on the cusp of a 30 Things failure. Remember, at that point, I’d been being pretty high and mighty about all these new things I was doing and in the spirit of 30 Things and I needed to say yes. It was almost a mandatory. Like a dare that you can’t say no to. But at the eleventh hour, I did the unthinkable. I said no. I bailed. Worse than that, I bailed by email:

January 16, 2010

Hey Ben – Ok, so I’m emailing because I see from Twitter that you’re napping and I don’t want to call and wake you. Convenient for me, I know. Here’s the skinny. I’m bailing. You’re not surprised, I’m sure. 😦 My post-rationalization is as follows:

  1. I’m totally, totally down with going to the location. Totally…and, in fact, want to in future, am quite excited about it and can’t wait to wear my fake eyelashes there. Location: not the issue at all.
  2. But, it’s a place I’ve never been before that involves dancing, which amazingly is a big point of discomfort for me; so much so that I don’t even do in the mirror at home when no one is looking…I embarrass myself that much.
  3. And, it’s a group of people that I don’t know in a place I’m not familiar with, doing things I struggle to get the confidence do at the best of times.
  4. I’m sure they’re all lovely people, but drunk people that I don’t know in place I’m not familiar with, doing things I struggle to get the confidence to do at the best of times, is a bit trickier for me.
  5. I’m just a baby that can’t deliver on my 30 things at all, apparently.

So, here’s what I would like to ask. Can I take a rain check with a smaller group of people that I know and love (you and the Newf being amongst them) and that will collectively allow me to be self-indulgent in my hangups, whilst still helping me (it is all about me, of course) get over myself and finally loosen up to have a good time, damnitall?!

I know, this should not be such a big deal for me. And, I’m totally exposing you to a side of me that I’d rather just keep hidden under turtlenecks and cozy sweaters, masked by a great pair of heels that make me walk taller than I feel inside. But, it’s what you get with me 🙂 Can I take a rain check, please?

There it was. My official 30 Things failure. That night, the crazy, I-don’t-wanna-do-that woman, that I had become all too familiar with in my 20s, strutted right back into my life and knocked me flat on my ass. And just like always, she was so busy predicting uncomfortable situations, fueled by her wildly overactive imagination, that she couldn’t see the fun that could have been. Indeed, she had betrayed me yet again. Her presence paralyzed me as she put a big, black mark on my 30 Things report card. Yeah, I’ll say it. That BITCH.

That night, I let her run her course. I let her make me feel like the woman in the anti-depressant commercial that you always want to hug (or slap, depending on your outlook on life). I indulged her and myself. And to make this confession even more genuine, I need to tell you that there’s no happy ending to this one. The failure continues. I still haven’t taken that rain check. Maybe I should and call it 30 Things maintenance?

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The Return of Mrs. Peppy Pants

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve spent nearly all of my life believing that things happen for a reason. Yes, I was the emphatically positive, glass half full, never let ’em get you down kinda girl. Like the Chumbawamba song acted out through interpretive dance. And, boy, was I committed. My naysaying friends would get a healthy (or obnoxious, if you were a glass half empty kind of person) dose of Mrs. Peppy Pants whenever they would complain or wallow in their own pre-pubescent or adolescent pool of self-pity. I always believed that if you just had a bit of faith, life would turn out as it was intended.

You want proof points? I got plenty. In fact, I’ve got a list as long as my arm. But here’s the key to all of this. You can’t be a control freak. The minute that I finally let go, settle in, and let life take its course without me having my grubby little paws all over every detail is the minute that the birds start to chirp, the sun rises over the horizon, a gentle breeze moves in and the sky turns all purply-pinky-orangy-blue. And the orchestra kicks in. And Ryan Reynolds comes along sweeps me off my feet, takes me to the…oh, wait, what?

All through my teens, this is just who I was. And I was so comfortable in who I was (not so much how I looked…tragic!), you’d have thought I was 80. Like an 80 year-old stuck in a 16 year-old’s body. The truth of this comment should not be lost on you.

And then I hit my 20s and everything changed. The birds all became screaming crows, the sun forgot to rise one morning, the gentle breeze turned into a freaking hurricane, and the sky was an angry black. Somehow Tori Amos became my theme music and Ry thought that Alanis was way more upbeat than me. I spent nearly a decade living my life in this new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable world. And yet, somehow I became terribly comfortable here. I had accepted that this is what happens when you get older. I assumed that all my naive and youthful jubilation was forever lost and this was “just how it was going to be”. I looked around and saw people who were older than me, at nearly every juncture in life, walking around like drones, going about their business, accepting that this was “just how it was going to be”. So I settled in.

And then 30 Things came along. No, it wasn’t like the Hallelujah chorus began to immediately play, but I’ll tell you, there sure has been a crescendo working itself up in my life. When I finished 30 Things, I feared that all the joy and elation I had been experiencing would subside. But here’s the incredible thing. Suddenly, once again, I’m seeing all kinds of signs that things happen for a reason, and that when you finally let go is the same time you actually lift the flood gates and the tide of good things come rushing in.

So what does that mean for me right now? I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a clue. What I can tell you, though, is that the conversations we’ve been having (we being me and Big L) and the like-minded people that have been finding their way into my life (well, really, my Google Reader) is feeling a bit like a storm surge. But not the dark and gloomy kind of surge…more like Noah’s Ark, wiping the land clean of garbage and replacing it with something a whole lot better. Let’s just hope my rebirth doesn’t take thousands of years. I’m 30, I don’t have that long.

PS – In the past week, I’ve come across some really wonderful like-minded blogs, a couple of which I believe you folks out there in reader-land would enjoy. Two of which are new The Quarterlife Quest and Doniree) and one we already post on our site, but I love it so much that I need to remind you to check it out (Stratejoy). Happy reading!

#28: Sincere apologizes

– Contributed by Wee C

I’m really sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. Oh, and I’m terribly sorry that I took a hiatus from writing about my 30 Things…word on the street is that our readers would like me to finish writing about everything on the list. So for that, I apologize. No, really, truly, please accept my most sincere apologizes. Consider me back on the wagon.

Are you feeling like I need to get a grip yet? Like you don’t really care near as much as I do about any of this foolishness? I’m certain you’re shaking your head, if only just a slight shift back and forth, thinking that I may be overdramaticizing the severity of my blogging absence. Ugh, there I go again, putting words into people’s mouths. I’m so sorry.

Sorry. I apologize. Sincere apologizes. Regrets…I’ve had a few. If anyone has learned the art of the apology, of accepting responsibility (even when it’s nowhere near mine to accept) it’s me. Truthfully, if there’s one skill I’ll toot my own horn about, it’s apologizing. I’m really, really good at it. I know what you all are thinking: too good. Back off for a wee second, will you? I’ll get to the downside in a minute. For Pete’s sake, we all know it’s not like I can wave my “proud of myself” flag without, at some point, apologizing for being boastful. Give me 100 words to bask in my own apologizing glory.

So, yes, I take a lot of pride in being able to humble myself enough to apologize for things I should apologize for. Like when I make a mistake at work and drop a ball (but I so RARELY do this that an apology is seldom in order…right, team?!), or when I accidentally bump into someone, or when I say something that insults or hurts someone else (OK, that makes me want to apologize AND buy flowers AND hug them repeatedly AND give them my first born dog). I’m the first one to admit my wrongs and take full responsibility for my actions. And when other people can’t do the same, I want to pull the curtains off the rods, violently scratch my head, stand outside and scream crazy famous-people quotes about the importance of saying you’re sorry, even quote the Bible. I think a whole lot of people could learn a thing or two from me in this department,’cause as far as I’m concerned there are way too many rude, self-centered, oblivious people (yeah, I’m talking to you) out there who need to learn how to simply say “I’m sorry”…especially in circumstances when those two words are the hardest, and yet most important, to say.

Sorry, I’m climbing off of my soapbox now. So this is all fine and dandy, and in the big picture we likely all agree with my idealistic philosophy. But here’s where things fall apart. I don’t just say “sorry” when it’s important. I say it when it’s meaningless, making the times when it needs to mean something, mean a whole lot less. You still with me? I say it when I wake up in the morning. “Sorry, hubby, but can you please turn off the alarm for the seventeenth time this morning.” I say it to my dogs. “I’m sorry Keelie and Mungo, I’d love to give you another treat, but you’ll get fat.” Too bad I haven’t learned to say the same thing to myself. I apologize to inanimate objects. “Sorry, Mr. Jeans, but you make my ass look big today. You need to stay folded in the closet.” I genuinely wish I was joking.

Sorry (or any other variation) has become so entrenched in my vernacular that I use it to fill in the gaps, like a Valley Girl who incessantly says “like” or “uh huh!”. It’s my crutch. So when Big L issued me the challenge of going 24 hours without saying “I’m sorry” or “sorry” or expressing the sentiment of apology in any form, I knew it had to be a 30 Thing. This is one of those personal hang ups that 30 Things was designed to address.

Foolishly, I was confident that this challenge would be a pretty easy one to complete. Ever tried to remove a word that you use all the time from your vocabulary? Think about it for a moment and you’ll quickly realize just how naive I was. My confidence only served to reinforce my procrastinating ways. I figured I could complete this challenge in the last 24 hours if I needed to. But about a week and a half before hand, I decided I would give it a dry run, just to be sure. You see, no one else around me had any faith that I could do this. No, really, not a soul thought I would actually finish this task. I was so sure they were wrong. After an entire day, the longest I had gone without using that word was 15 MINUTES! Seriously? Seriously.

This was a game changer. A TSN Turning Point. I was down to the wire on my 30 Things list and I didn’t have anything else up my sleeve to replace this item if I didn’t complete it. I had left myself with no choice. At this point, I started apologizing to myself for being such a habitual procrastinator. So, eight days before my thirtieth birthday I woke up with conviction. The next 24-hours would be apology-less. Thirty minutes in, it slipped. So I pressed the reset button at 7:30 am and started again. And for the next SIX days, I pressed the reset button over, and over, and over (and over and over and over) again. I would go six hours and slip, 45 minutes, 13 hours, and so on. The longest I had gone was 18 hours and then, traumatically, it happened again.

I was getting desperate and I frantically began looking for something else that could do to replace this task. Peeing on the side of the highway (seriously, I’ve never done this) became a very real and frightening option. I decided to give it one last go. I dug deep, committed and completed 24 hours without uttering any of the forbidden words or sentiments. I’ve completed major projects, won an international award for my work (nice drop, eh?), and earned a few other recognitions along the way. But this was one of my greatest personal accomplishments ever.

And I gotta tell you that the feeling of not apologizing for every last thing was incredibly liberating. The omnipresent burden of guilt that I carry around with me on a daily basis was silenced and in many ways that gave me a greater voice than I’ve ever experienced. Now, don’t be fooled. I’m still using these words with reckless abandon, but I’m acutely aware of my usage and I don’t feel the least bit sorry for biting my tongue on occasion.