Organize or bust

March 13, 2012

I love to be organized.

Place that delicious quality next to a gooey, mountainous piece of chocolate cake and it’s a toss-up as to which I would lunge for first.

To-do lists scrawled in hurried pencil marks, a dry-erase board filled with random words translated into not-to-be-forgotten tasks, open magazines dog-eared with articles of interesting tidbits that I vow to read and then tuck into my brain meant for a later date.

I’ve always fantasized about being that girl at the dinner party who can break the silence with a “if the amount of glass bottles that Americans fail to recycle per year were placed from end to end around the globe, they would circle the earth 80 times” fact.

That must be why I became a reporter long before I realized where I was actually going in my career. I had been unknowingly investigating for years. My endless questions to piece together a story—to understand why this person did that and what time he arrived to lunch and where he was before. Basically, it allows me to be nosy and not worry about the bluntness of my oblivious cross-examinations.

My level of organization has become, through the years, a means of pride and a gauge of my self-worth. I don’t want to brag, but I’m somewhat known for it. If I come running into work with my shirt untucked and hair askew, they check my temperature. If I’m late for an appointment with a friend, she tells me to sit down, I don’t look well. Those side effects I can deal with. I take them as compliments.

What stings me to the core, however, is the cinching knots that start in my stomach and rise up into my throat as I sit in traffic, knowing that someone is waiting on me.

Forget the fact that the other person may be late as well or that she might welcome a moment of solitude or that her day hasn’t been incremented so tightly so as to only allot for a 30-minute discussion before she has to move on.

Just me then?

But, striving to find the positive, I think that, my obvious obsession with perfection aside, is that I view my and others’ time as valuable. Unforeseen events happen, but every minute I’m late is a minute I show you that you’re not that important to me.

Too extreme? Maybe a little. I think I read an article about that.

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Girls deal with a lot.

We have babies; we cook; we clean; we raise families; we put up with leering men; and we wake up every morning to stand in front of a mirror to become beautiful (It doesn’t just happen, you know.).

We also get to deal with the constant barrage of stereotypes.

Bad driver? Must be a woman putting on her mascara.

Angry customer? Can’t be anyone but a hormonal female at her time of the month.

Weepy friend? Surely a college girl crying over her one night stand.

Men may have mastered the ability to mask emotion, but they deal with them behind closed doors, you better believe it.

I’m slightly ashamed to say that many times I’ve reveled in hearing a boy mourn over a lost love or why a girl hasn’t called him.

Finally! Victory for mistreated, underappreciated women everywhere. We are not alone!

Daily, I watch the hormonal changes of the men in my home. Wondering, did everyone’s cycle hit at the same time this month?

Boys would rather die than cop to this truth. It’s an underground fact that everyone recognizes, yet will not speak about.

We may wish it were true; we close our eyes, hoping for a miracle, but men aren’t superheroes. They are emotional beings fighting with self-doubt and disappointments on a daily basis, like the other sex.

Sure, men are touted as level-headed, unemotional, steady and strong he-men. And, everyone knows, they sure want to be.

Women are pictured, no matter how often we show otherwise, as listless and fragile, who follow the whim of any strong character who glances in her direction.

Try as we might, the stereotype remains.

 

 

 

I shudder to imagine what it must be like to be constantly called on to entertain.
Football players are not known for their humor. And yet, they are regularly expected to strut entertaining touchdown routines.
I hope to someday ask a football player what goes through his mind as he leaps for the ball and feels it fall into his hands, knowing that when his feet touch the ground he will be called on to perform.
Is he sweating bullets as I would be, his mind racing well before his feet meet the ground– all eyes on him, waiting for his big celebratory moment?
I would rather make out with Jonah Hill. The old Jonah Hill.
Never mind the game-winning throw that determines the championship or the pivotal tackle of the other team’s quarterback.
Nah. Those minor details fall very short compared to 20,000 eyes waiting for me to be funny.
Actors know what I’m talking about.
They may be asked to carry a billion-dollar-budget film, but on awards night all that matters is their speech.
No pressure.
I loved Ross on Friends. I’m sure he’s just the same in real life.
These actors stand before us, and how many times do we conclude that we like their character much better than the real them?
And what about those fun little contests that we ordinary people get to participate in at state fairs and festivals where we judge the hottest bods or the knobbiest knees?
I only sat down to eat my turkey leg. And now I have to do what?
I recently got my first taste of public humiliation since high school in this setting. The chatty announcer chose me to stand before the crowd, blindfolded and all.
I felt my shirt instantly wilt under the weight of my sweat. My face turned a nauseous beet-colored shade of crimson. All I could think about was what would they ask me to do and who could I push down to distract them from my escape.
I am not a typical kind of funny. Everyone who knows me knows this.
I don’t sit at the dinner table and broadcast gut-wrenchingly-funny anecdotes about my day or my awkward teenager years.
I think it’s the pressure of the moment that makes me clam up. Or maybe I was simply not endowed with story-telling capabilities.
I prefer, however, to conclude that it’s my audience. I personally find myself hilarious.
And when I tell my mother about something funny that happened to me, she laughs so hard milk comes out her nose.
She also finds humor in a clean knock-knock joke.
I see no reason to question her humor radar.

I’ve always been puzzled at my random, very selective ability of observation. My mother places a beautiful African Violet by our front door and a year later, I comment on its sudden appearance.
Some people can recite what an individual was wearing two weeks ago at the grocery store, down to her fingernail polish. I’m lucky if I remember what color hair she had.
But put me in the driver’s seat on the highway and you’ll be lucky if you can get your quiet cough in the backseat past me.
My eyes and ears somehow seem to go on high alert when I have a gas pedal underneath me. Or maybe it has more to do with the idea of going somewhere.
So that’s why it’s all the more puzzling when I watch people speed up to the tail of a slow-moving truck, next to a long line of fast-moving cars and then toss on their blinker. As if to say Alright, I did my part. Now it’s your turn, fast lane cars. Like getting out from behind the slow truck that they chose to get behind is their inalienable right.
It’s like I’m suddenly back in seventh grade, and I have to help the foreign girl understand the teacher’s slide presentation.
How is this my problem?
Didn’t you foresee this issue? How is it that I am obligated to provide the solution?
And why is it that I am labeled the bad guy when I refuse the bait?
Like I don’t see what’s really going on here.
You took the easy way out. You sped past the long line of traffic and expected a good samaritan. Well, buddy, you may realize that you will always find a good samaritan.
It just may not be me this time.

It never ceases to amaze me to observe the number of things that we as adults find ourselves doing that in kindergarten we were told to NEVER do.

A girl walked out of the bathroom today and never washed her hands. Not even a little water. She came out of the stall, walked up to the bathroom mirror, ran her hands through her hair, touched up her makeup and adjusted her shirt but never once made a move for the sink.

My mind screamed, wash your hands. I imagined the creeping, crawling germs leaping off her hands onto the mirror, onto her hair, onto the countertops and scurrying in all directions as far away from the water as they could get so as to make sure they couldn’t get washed away by the inevitable germ-eliminating soap that in this instance never came but usually follows a trip to the toilet.

No, those germs got pretty lucky. And I was very happy to be standing on the opposite end of the locker room from her.

I felt largely contented to stand at my mirror and stare at her and judge her. Yes, judge. And why shouldn’t I?

There is such an enormous stigma against judgment today.

Turn on Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of Orange County and you’ll get an earful of expletives and shrill demands to not judge them. How dare you judge them!

But what’s so wrong with judgment? Sure, you might be ignorant. And in that case you may deserve the dirty looks and catty remarks that come your way.

Now, in the case of the bathroom girl, she should have washed her hands. And that’s that.

I saw her go into a stall. I heard a toilet flush. So she needs to wash her hands.

Even if she did nothing more than pull off a piece of toilet paper and blot her sweaty face, she must realize that every single girl in that locker room would judge her for not washing her hands.

If for no other reason, do it for the embarrassment it will cause you. Even if you don’t care about hygiene or about anyone else’s well-being. Do it for the ick factor. Do it so you’re not looked at like the kid in first grade who disected a frog and then immediately ate her lunch.

And then there’s staring.

We were all taught at an early age to not stare at others. Eye contact, sure, great!

Eye contact is important in conversation. But shooting eye lasers at people to the point of causing them to feel as if they are being seared through at a tremendous speed goes beyond acceptable societal norms.

Long-term staring generates a sort of creepy, I like your eyes, facebook stalking kind of vibe. It does nothing for your social life, or dating life, and if you are lucky to have any friends at all, they are most likely the wrong kind.

So, as kindergartners do every day, let’s endeavor just for one day to keep our eyes looking straight ahead with hands at our side or under water, washing the germs away, and eagerly anticipating nap time.

moving

November 16, 2010

We all define ourselves by titles. There’s the obvious ones: male, female, tall, short, black, white. For the most part, these characteristics can’t be changed. (Although, some people would debate that . . . )

But add to those the extra titles we use throughout the day–democrat, architect, educated, author, fashionista, zealot, caffeine addict, health nut, early riser.

We use these words to define ourselves or in one or two words to create an image of who we are. But can one word do that? I sure don’t want to think that my whole person can be described in one word.

For some, these titles may be used somewhat subconsciously to excuse their conduct or to provide an answer for it. As if acknowledging their outspokenness or stubbornness makes it more acceptable.

So, which is better? Acknowledging our shortcomings and making peace with them in an effort to accept ourselves, or turning a blind eye to them altogether? Well, neither particularly encourages growth and change. And humans have an astounding ability to move forward. So I choose neither: instead, I will recognize both my strengths and shortcomings but not accept that I can’t improve. I will fight stagnancy. After all, sitting still was never my forte. And going backwards, well that’s just nonsense.

the perfect companion

July 30, 2010

the paper pile growing higher on my desk
stress circling like a rubber band
the end slowly approaching

hours later:
keys in my hand
brake lights surrounding me
then, my sanctuary appears
a breath of relief

the jingle of my keys
the turning door handle
I can already sense the frenzy:

rattling picture frames
trembling walls
clattering footsteps on the newly polished floor

i barely set my briefcase down
before the avalanche appears

a flurry of fur in my face
affectionate barks of unrestrained glee
the friendly wet nose
a slobbering tongue of delight

he greets me

my anger, worries, loneliness wash away
and leave me with his happy yelps and loyal kisses

my horrible day erased
replaced with his unconditional love