I Wish I Was Better

Like most people, I fall short in many ways. I wish I was better at managing my time—at turning off my work mind, and turning on my calm mind. I wish I was better at goal-setting, and not allowing mindless iPhone scrolling to replace actually productivity.

I could document a laundry list of things I’d like to get better at; but today, in this very moment, my wishes are not that simple.

I wish I was better at knowing if someone was a good drummer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pre-teen phenom or Travis Barker—once the solo part hits, it just sounds like a damn free-for-all. All I see are limbs flailing and sticks flying. I can’t find the rhythm in a drum solo to save my life, so I just end up feeling like an idiot. An idiot caught in a scary, chaotic storm of frenetic high hats and snares.

I wish I was better at handling the surprising news that a couple has broken up—especially if the news comes via Facebook. Not as an announcement, but as a clue. It’s so alarming to be scrolling along, then notice something is amiss.

“Oh, there’s Lauren. Seth’s wife. With a bearded guy. A bearded guy that’s not Seth. Looking a bit too chummy for my taste. With “God is good!” as her status update. Wait one cotton-pickin’ minute, Lauren. I don’t think so, you two-timing ninny. Not on my Facebook watch. Then I go to her actual page and scroll through it—noticing the last time I saw a pic of Seth was over four months ago; but that Beard has been making weekly appearances with his stupid, cheating beard.

It’s so upsetting, even though Lauren and Beard look pretty happy. Where is Seth though? Oh no! He’s not on Facebook! I can’t see if he’s happy with a pretty lady with a pixie cut. How will I know if Seth and Pixie are happy? What if I never see them on a ferris wheel saying God is good? Will I be left believing that Seth is at home, unshaven, going through old photos of Lauren, while eating expired Vanilla Wafers? Yes. Yes I will.

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I wish I was better at policing my online activity. When I know I should be writing, or making headway on a work project, or updating my passwords—but instead, I’m taking a quiz to see what my werewolf name would be, I’m left with the thought, “I am what’s wrong with the world.”

When I spend an hour scrolling through Soulja Boy’s social accounts, looking for clues that he’s finally off the sizzurp—I’m left with the thought, “I don’t deserve 24 hours in a day.”

I wish I was better at not feeling personally affronted by other people’s lack of dignity. When I roll up in the work restroom and am confronted by two co-workers having a deuce-off, I’m nearly incensed.

Side Note: A deuce-off is what sometimes happens when two people go into the restroom close to the same time—with the intent of doing private bowel things in public—only to be left waiting on the other person to start, stop or leave.

Back to the outrage. The silence, the two pair of motionless shoes, the waiting. I will not be a party to this scene. I will not provide them the outside noise they’re undoubtedly counting on. I won’t do it.

I’ll walk in, realize it’s a deuce-off and promptly leave. I’ll go to another restroom in the building (which is precisely where their shameless asses should’ve gone when they realized a number two was on the horizon.) Why wouldn’t they drop their kids off at the pool in merchandising’s wing? Why would they want to do their private biz in the same small space their CMO uses? Where is their pride?

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I wish I was better at understanding our rogue refrigerator. Some couples have to keep their voices down or spell out words so their pets don’t know they’re leaving for a trip—we have to keep our voices down and spell out words when we’re going to have company … so the fridge doesn’t stop making ice.

Can anyone tell me how it knows people are coming over? Never do we ever have ice issues until the day people are coming over. Then, like clockwork, not one cube of ice is produced. That is, until the final farewell is said—at which point the little spoiled brat promptly gets back to cranking out delicious ice. And she knows we have to take her back—or we won’t have ice. HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS?

What sensors were added to this LG model to notify her of our plans? Go ahead and make fun of us, but we now discuss our plans for company outside the house—then come back in and try to keep our body language cool. Sometimes I even walk extra languidly, as if to say, “It’s cool. There’s no news here.” We’ve even stopped taking chances with spelling—because we’re pretty sure she knows p-a-r-t-y by now.

I wish I was better at allowing myself to pray with poor grammar and syntax. I can be knee-deep into an earnest ask, but unable to stop myself from rewording sentences that end in a preposition.

“Thank You for all Your abundant blessings I’m so unworthy of … grr … Thank You for Your abundant blessings of which I’m so undeserving … ugh, Lord, please forgive me for sounding pretentious with that proper grammar. Sooo, thank You for all the blessings I don’t deserve. Thank you for Your guidance and protection. Please watch over everyone I love, and protect Jocelyn and I as we … grr … please protect Jocelyn and me as we leave for our trip. Please guide me on if I should go a step further in my efforts to … grr … go farther in my efforts to … grr … further? Farther? Sigh, never mind, just please guide me? And please forgive me for my inability to pray with questionable grammar. I hope that’s not some sin of pride or something. If it is, please show me how to have less pride—like the hosers at work who light up the bathroom I use. Please give me their low level of pride, if that is pleasing to You. No wait, please don’t do that. Please? For real though. Actually, please deal with them. Please lead and guide them … to another restroom. Thank you, Father. I love You, Amen. Wait, do You prefer Ahh-men? Is this one of those things that annoys You—the same way it annoys me when people say a Y instead of an H in words like Houston? They say Youston. Please let me know so I don’t annoy You. For now though, I do love You—Amen.”

I wish I was better at knowing, understanding, or caring about characters or stories not based in reality. When people talk about fairy tales or cartoons, they might as well be talking about quantum physics. Aside from the way they look, I don’t know Batman from Peter Pan. I don’t know what Peter’s superpower is. I also don’t know what a zombie actually is. I truly don’t. I mean, I know they’re not real, and I know they’ve got terrible complexions. I think they might be forest people? Or forest creatures? Pictures I’ve seen of zombies look super foresty.

Because we didn’t really grow up watching cartoons, I’m not clear on different cartoon characters—and I don’t know any fairy tales. You could offer me $1,000 and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the outcome of The Three Little Bears—or the premise of that one story with the shoe, and the lady, and the prairie dogs, or whatever they were.

It’s a bit odd that I’m extremely imaginative, but wholly uninterested in anything not realistic. Even in my made-up stories or daydreams, my thoughts have to be plausible. Not necessarily likely, but plausible—or I can’t focus.

I see people in restaurants or airports and concoct great tales of why they’re there, or where they’re going (but I can assure you, in my story, they’re not on their way to another planet or going back into the forest to do zombie things.)

Side Note: I need to out myself before someone else does. I did actually read—and enjoy—the Twilight series. Although totally out-of-character, I cannot apologize for that lapse in my everything-needs-to-be-realistic personality. Jacob meant too much to me, and I will not forsake him in that way.

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Team Jacob.

 

I wish I was better at troubleshooting embarrassing death situations. Like honestly, I don’t want to croak and have someone see that the last thing I was listening to was the Richard Marx version of O Holy Night—or that the last thing I googled was, “is a Trapper Keeper an age-appropriate notebook for my career?” Should that keep me listening to it or daydreaming about the day I can once again pick out and carry a Trapper Keeper? Maybe.

I also like to wear two pair of socks. I just do. I have bony, baby-soft feet, and they fancy proper cushioning. Maybe even three pair of socks on occasion. I SAID MAYBE! But, do I want to be—literally—caught dead in three pair of socks? I do not. Should I stop wearing them? Probably. Because even though my feet would be super comfy at the time of my death, and although I’d be in Heaven, and shielded from the embarrassment of it all, my family would not be.

I can hear them now, “I knew she wore two pair of socks sometimes, but three is news to us. This is something she kept hidden from us. We’ll never get over this rogue life she led.”

I wish I was better at not feeling offended by people’s lawn-mowing habits. It rubs me so wrong when people mow, but don’t edge their grass. I have to fight the urge to grab our weed-eater and finish the job for them. The only thing stopping me is Jocelyn—she says it’s not appropriate. I actually think they’d appreciate it—and be keen on me trimming their out-of-control trees while I’m there.

I feel like these non-edgers are the same people who claim their house is clean, when all they do is “pick up.” If you pick up toys and put bills in the junk drawer daily, but only bleach your bathrooms and do your floors every three months, your house is clean exactly four times a year. Stop shouting at me! I don’t make the rules—I just follow them!

I wish I was better at singing Happy Birthday. I do okay until the third “birthday”—then it’s wheels-off. “Happy birthday to you” (not bad) … “Happy birthday to you” (not bad at all) … “Happy BIIIIRTHDAY dear Delilah!” (cue the howling wolves) I’ve learned to just mouth this note … then come blazing back with “and many more!” I feel like that somehow makes up for my lip-syncing.

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Britney forgives my lip-syncing. Trust me.

I wish I was better at not honing in on external noises. This issue probably deserves its own blog post, but for now, I’ll just re-iterate my desire to not notice “noises.” I’m fairly certain I have a mild-to-severe case of Misophonia—and I would absolutely love to shed it if there was a way. Okay-okay, not a severe case. People with severe cases want to literally OFF an offender. I’ve wanted to OFF a chip eater, pen tapper, bad water-bottle drinker, inner smacker, loud breather, aggressive typer, bag cruncher—only a dozen times or so. Over the past week.

Seriously though, as bad as it is, and as on-edge as all these sounds make me feel, I’d never want to be medicated for it. Not at all. I’ve told y’all, I barely like taking Ibuprofen. Buuuuut, helped along with a little hypnotherapy or acupuncture? YES. That seems healthier than the physical harm I imagine unleashing on people who attack chips like it’s an MMA fight—or sound like they’re taking a bath when they drink from their water bottle.

Like I said, the issue deserves its own blog post—which brings me to my last desire.

I wish I was better at posting more often. Send money and I’ll do my best. No amount is too small. And don’t pull any of that “in lieu of” crap. Send actual cash. I wish you were better at that.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Well I Never!

I can’t say what’s right for you and your life, but I know for mine, saying “never” is a big no-no. Saying I’ll never do something is the fastest and most certain way of seeing it come to life in full HD.

I’ve touched on it before, but when I first started actually noticing being brought down a notch, was when I piped off that I’d never work retail. Not only was I sporting a Barnes & Noble name tag before long, but I was doing so with a Master’s Degree and a meaningful 7-year career under my belt.

Talk about being humbled.

Talk about being humbled.

I had to learn some serious humility (and quick) because every time a jackhole customer got snippy over an out of stock book—and looked at me like it must be my fault because only uneducated slackers would work retail and have an out of stock book—I had to keep myself from launching into the very logical explanation of what led me to that position.

I wanted to tell them all about my education and previous career. I wanted to say I wasn’t a person without ambition—and this job was temporary. I wanted to show them every single book in the store I’d read and assure them most of the associates were wonderful, well-read people. I also wanted to tell them Amazon might be a better option for them because in the privacy of their mother’s basement, no one could see them in their tighty-whities whining like a little punk because we didn’t keep our Lawmen of the Old West section stocked to his satisfaction.

I did none of these things. God was good. He taught me multiple lessons in one fell swoop.

Self-Reporting: In the year I was there, I only have one moment I look back on with any measure of shame. I was closing on a Saturday night and rushing around shelving abandoned books—in between helping customers. My jurisdiction for that particular evening was the children’s section. There were a few families notorious for letting their herd run wild, never returning a single book to its shelf or replacing a Thomas the Train figure once bored of it.

None. Of. Us. Could. Stand. Them. Not the parents, not the kids, not their ways.

It was approaching 11:00pm and the kids were still having their way with my section. I did a quick scan for the parents, saw they were preoccupied (shocker) and rounded the corner to where the mayhem was in full swing. I glared at the guiltiest of the group until she stopped throwing books off the shelves and looked at me. When she did, I bore a hole through her with narrowed eyes and with my thumb, slow-cut my own neck.

OK, back to the reason we’re here.

I also used to recoil when I heard people talk about coffee like it was the ruler of their tiny world. I’d hear, “Everyone knows not to talk to me before I’ve had my coffee!” and, “Let me get properly caffeinated and then we can meet.” I’d audibly groan in disgust. And the worst of the worst? Someone being so addicted to coffee that she purchased and PLACED this bumper sticker on her expensive car: No Coffee, No Workee.

I’d sit at a red light behind her and think, “Really? Two e’s on workee? Coffee is so delicious and necessary that you tattooed your car with a baby-talking edict? Grow up. Drink some water.”

Cut to two years later when my Keurig Platinum is one of my more prized possessions and making its way on the list of things I’d grab if there was a fire.

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See? Haughtiness leads to dependency. Let this be a lesson.

I’ve become so convinced that saying I’ll never do something or never be a certain way is so wrong for me that I feel the need to shut it down in others, too. In the same way I cringe when old people still use racial slurs, I want to physically jump up and shield people who make “never” proclamations like it’s no big deal.

I was having lunch with a friend one time and through a mouthful of buffalo chicken tenders he said, “I mean can you believe that? I can’t. I’d never die in a fire—I mean gimme a break.”

I mentally hurled myself across the table to cover his mouth and wail to the sky, “Forgive him! He knows not what he says!”

I said, “Don’t even say that! No one thinks they’ll die in a fire, you ding dong!”

“No, I’m serious. No way I’m dying in a fire, no way. Or drowning … never gonna happen.”

Now he’d gone too far and my brain flashed forward to his obituary and some awful apartment fire with his arrogant charred remains.

It’s not like I think God says, “Oh really? You’ll never fall overboard on a Carnival cruise line? Hide and watch, my lady—HIDE AND WATCH.” I don’t think that at all (although you’ll never hear me saying I’ll never fall overboard on a cruise. Wait … I mean, I hope I’m never dumb enough to say I’ll never fall overboard on a cruise … see, still working on it).

I just think for me, the bottom line is that I’m not supposed to be high and mighty or know-it-all’y. It probably all comes down to judging. I try not to judge and in a lot of ways, using the phrase “I’ll never” is a form of judgment.

Think of all the definitive statements people so carelessly make without knowing or having been in the situation:

1. I’ll never put my mother in a nursing home.
2. I’ll never get blindsided like that because I get my mammograms on time.
3. My kid will never post obscene garbage on the internet.
4. You’ll never see me getting fast food for my family.
5. I’ll never grow cilantro that begins to suspiciously look like marijuana, then be convinced the DEA is hovering over my house in a helicopter one night.

Follow-up to #5:
Anna: Moma! Where did y’all get the cilantro seeds you gave us?
Moma: I think (name not disclosed) brought them back from Mexico with some antibiotics, why?

My point is, it’s not only short-sited, but extremely presumptuous and egotistical to think you know everything for all of time, present and future. Situations change, finances change, hearts change—life happens. One day you’re making salsa with homegrown vegetables and the next thing you know, you’re high as a kite from some suspect cilantro.

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For some odd reason, three different people in my office building had some kind of foot injury that necessitated those knee scooters … one knee was on the scooter and the other foot would push off and they’d have their notebooks and peanut butter sandwiches in a little basket as they traversed the halls.

I’d watch them, shaking my head and thinking, “I’d rather open up a wrist than have to use one of those things at work.” I started thinking it so often that I became worried it would soon be my fate. So, I changed my thought pattern when I peeped someone scootin’ my way: “Oh please Lord, if I must fracture my foot or have some random heel surgery, please please please let a boot or crutches suffice.”

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Because as much as I knew I’d do everything in my power to not be on a knee scooter at work, I also recognized that maybe they didn’t want to be either—maybe it was the only choice—so I shouldn’t be judgmental.

Of course, I shared this thought with a friend and she said, “Oh please, he’s a lazy #@$%. He wanted that scooter.”

Fair enough.

“Never” has a cousin. His name is “not.”

Example: Cocky head-twirl with a sassy finger-point, “I am NOT working into my 60’s.”

If anyone hears me say this, please run at me full speed and tackle me so I land face first and can’t say another ill-advised word (because I really, reallllly don’t want to be putting 40 hours into anything but travel by then … but if I get all insistent, I might be in a cube ’til I’m 80).

A better proclamation: “I really hope to plan well enough to not work into my 60’s.”

Whew, that’s better. That shouldn’t get me schooled.

And for those of you who pompously declare you’ll “never associate” with (pick one) a liberal/a Bible thumper/a hunter/a gay guy/an evangelical/an atheist/a tea partier/a drug addict/anyone in the Palin family … please wait while I get a huge bag of popcorn, because for once, I want to see what evaporating superiority looks like from afar.

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I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.