I’ve got a funny process for decision-making.
I am a champion hem/haw-er. I read reviews, I get advice, I test out scenarios on unsuspecting friends. I try everything on. I take pictures, create Excel spreadsheets and read reference tomes.
I have free memberships to just about every single self-help and DIY website out there.
I read blogs, I look on Angie’s List, and trust reviews on Amazon.com more than I trust my own sister.
Then, at the most unexpected times, I’ll make the decision.
I decided to adopt a puppy one rainy Thursday morning at work after three years of thinking on it. I decided to go head and buy the Fitbit Flex during an unrelated brainstorming session with a coworker, after spending two weeks carefully combing the internet for pedometer reviews and technological options. I decided to enter the real estate market on a sunny Saturday in April while a friend was in town, despite spending the better part of a decade wholeheartedly against buying a house. I decided to marry my husband on a Saturday morning, six months after meeting him and a solid five years before the thought even entered his mind, but that’s another story.
As long as my decision-making process is, the decision always comes like lighting, fast and sure. (And sometimes with scorched-earth consequences … see what I did there?) My decisions are the mental equivalent of dropping the mic. Boom. My decisions always walk away from the explosion without looking back. YOLO.
The downside, of course, is the all-consuming research. (Honestly, Miller, can’t you just pick a pedometer and go with it? That $35-$100 isn’t exactly going to fracture the space-time continuum.) The upside is that once I make my decisions, I am 10,000% convinced they’re the correct ones. So while my husband experienced a short but acute period of buyer’s remorse once we were in escrow, I sailed through with certainty.
So when I looked around one day, and decided that my house was full of clutter, all I needed was a plan.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sorting through closets for clothes, sheets, duvets, towels and other things that are too small, too big, too worn out or too uncomfortable to stay. Those will go to Goodwill, but not until I’ve thoroughly documented each item for tax purposes.
I’ll be meticulously combing through my 3+ bookcases, taking down titles, conditions and ISBN numbers. The goal is to keep one bookcase of sentimental goodies, and sell the rest online to enhance my eBook library. (Honestly, I haven’t read a physical book in over a year. It’s time, people.)
I’ll be ruthlessly attacking the “home office,” choosing an appropriate number of pens to keep on hand (I’m pretty sure it’s not “two shoeboxes full,” which is what I’m currently dealing with), getting rid of junk mail and the 32 different types of resume paper I’ve somehow collected, and saying goodbye to my collection of novelty post-its.
Time to empty that backpack!
Interwebs, I have developed a theory. It goes something like this:
The Universe, benevolent and all-knowing, gave me exactly 33 years to get my act together. To deal with emotional tangles, to develop healthier habits, to treat myself more kindly and generally accept myself enough to have a fantastic time in this life.
After 33 years, it staged an intervention. I developed adult acne (WHAT?!). I started having anxiety attacks. I noticed intolerances to food that had always treated me kindly. I lost my temper more, and started unnecessary arguments with my loving and patient husband over impossible housework standards I’d secretly imposed on myself.
In short, I was very upset that I hadn’t magically turned into a combination of Jillian Michaels, Oprah Winfrey, Emma Stone, Martha Stewart and Dorothy Parker.
It was not a pleasant realization.
After shutting myself in the bathroom on New Year’s Eve–a night where I was literally surrounded by some of my very favorite people on this planet and should have been over-the-moon happy–with a massive anxiety attack, I decided to make a change.
I started seeing a wonderful counselor, who helped me see that I’d stopped differentiating between the things I COULD do and the things I thought I SHOULD do. In fact, she helped me realize that SHOULD is a terrible word that I needed to ban from my internal monologue altogether.
I started listening to my body, to those times when it would let me know–in no uncertain terms–that a particular foodstuff was unappreciated. I said goodbye to things like milk, cream, cheesy foods, sodas, large helpings of desserts and pretty much everything on the candy aisle at Rite Aid. I learned about almond milk, soy lattes and high-quality single serving packs of nut butters.
I started confronting the voice that told me I have terrible skin, am too fat, lazy and slovenly. Although I’ve never been burdened with low self esteem, that wretched voice loaded me up with a ton of unnecessary guilt. When I started arguing with it (hey, I’ve got some damn fine skin that covers my bones well, thankyouverymuch; my house is never going to be on Hoarders; and I’m altogether healthy if pleasantly plump like a Renaissance painting), it freed up the emotional space where the guilt used to live. Now I’ve got much more emotional square footage for feeling good. I use it for listening to Pandora on Friday mornings while sipping the World’s Biggest Soy Latte and planning a new garden bed on the side of my house. Things like that.
So no more, “I should be exercising.” Now it sounds like, “What can I do RIGHT NOW that will make me feel good?” Sometimes that’s a walk, or time spent in my kitchen window herb garden. Sometimes it’s quality time with Kevin Bacon and “The Following.” Sometimes it’s an afternoon in a hammock. (Funny enough, it’s never spending 30 minutes berating myself for who I’m not!)
I started looking for opportunities to feel more fulfilled, intellectually. I started volunteering at my alma mater, Washington State University, by giving workshops once a semester to the student journalists there (thanks Candace!). I am looking at online programs where I can earn a Master’s Degree through work.
I found out, to my complete shock, that I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. I adore being around people and socializing, but need quiet time alone to recharge my batteries.
What I’m saying is that 34 is the year of NO MORE BULLSHIT. No more excuses, no more feeling like crap, no more self-induced guilt trips. I’m looking at quality of life, people, and I’m going to get it. The key is–and I’ve seen friends come to the same conclusion in recent years; it hits like a sack of bricks–figuring out what quality of life looks like for ME. Not for my parents, or my friends, or society, or celebrities, or my husband.
So simple. So difficult to land on.
It’s time to get it right; to move on.
In the words of my homie, Henry David Thoreau: “I went to the woods* because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not, when I had come to die, Discover that I had not lived.”
It just took me 33 years to get there.🙂
*Still hate the woods. Will not be going to the woods. I mean, bugs and dirt, people. BUGS AND DIRT. And that’s just for starters.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
It’s no stranger to anyone who has had a conversation with me in the past few months, or has seen my Facebook feed, I am a passionate advocate for gay marriage.
For me, it’s a black and white issue. I’m proud to be an American because this country stands up for human rights all around the world. We fought for freedom from religious persecution, we fought for suffrage, for civil rights, and put our belief in those basic human rights up front in our declaration of independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I know that doesn’t mean that we have the right to do whatever we want. But I do think that the strides we’ve taken over the years have shown us what that statement means. That women have the same rights as men, that blacks have the same rights as whites, that we will not tolerate persecution based on the color of a person’s skin, or their gender.
That seperate-but-equal isn’t the same as equal.
So it’s inconceivable to me that we’re having impassioned arguments in 2012 about whether or not gay Americans have the same rights as straight Americans. It’s become a divisive issue in my life–I can accept that my friends have different faiths to guide them, different Gods to pray to, different economic and political ideologies to believe in and even different preferences for President; but I cannot accept friends who believe themselves to be so superior to another group of human beings as to actively deny them rights in the eyes of the law.
It’s the kind of thing that I–a long-time lover of arguments and debate, and a believer that arguments and debate make us better as a country–will hide from my Facebook feed if I see it. It’s the kind of thing I avoid asking about if I think that someone might disclose that dreaded ignorance and I can’t see them the same way again.
I was going to come up with a long list of rebuttals to the reason I’ve heard to vote against gay marriage: that kids are worse off with single or gay parents (statistically and anecdotally untrue); that God says it’s bad (theocracies in today’s world include Sudan and Iran); that gay people can already enjoy full legal equality (separate but equal, which didn’t work out well in the South); that we’re doing so well with traditional marriage so why rock the boat (statistically untrue, anything with a rate of failure above 50 percent isn’t a success).
I believe that all consenting adult citizens of the United States should have the same rights. End of story. If you don’t want me to marry my boyfriend or girlfriend in your church, you’re well within your rights.
But your church does not have the right to dictate the laws of my country.
Two things of note happened yesterday:
It rained, and I decided to take a bus tour of Singapore.
Typically, one wouldn’t impact the other. But it was a double-decker bus, and I didn’t have an umbrella. So I sat downstairs, chilled by the full-blast air conditioner, trying to peer out of windows that were fogged over due to rain.
Disappointed wasn’t the word for it.
When the bus stopped for a 20-minute break at the Singapore Flyer–the world’s largest ferris wheel with views spanning beyond Singapore’s borders (on CLEAR, SUNNY days)–I was ready to give up.
Then I realized that I had nothing to lose, and climbed to the top of the bus for a wet ride back. But it had stopped raining, and was a steamy 80 degrees outside. So the seat of my pants got a little wet! I sat with an Australian couple, and we truly enjoyed our personal tour of the city!
I jumped off the bus (after it’d stopped, of course) in Chinatown to see a gorgeous Hindu temple and the Tooth Relic Buddhist temple. There were amazingly colorful buildings and a neverending market. I actually did a little shopping there, though not much: I’m discovering that Singapore is a place to experience, not a haven for souvenir shoppers.
I caught the last bus back to my hotel, and decided not to go out to dinner. Instead, I enjoyed some four-star canapes at the lounge level of my hotel, and was able to hit my bed immediately afterwards.
Today is Raffles City, and more rain!
I learned three things yesterday:
- If you’re going sightseeing, ALWAYS triple the amount of time you expect to wander, and choose your shoes accordingly.
- You can’t hail a cab in Singapore the same way you can hail a cab in New York. No matter how many times you lift a hand in the street, they won’t stop.
- When sticky, tired and hungry, I am too overwhelmed and chicken to pop into a random cafe and grab something to eat. Especially if I can’t figure out what they’re serving.
After a restful morning in the hotel (with a delicious Singaporean breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, a special kind of toast, fresh fruit and an intensely flavorful tea) and a productive meeting for work, I decided to set out to explore a Travelocity-recommended area called “Arab Street.” It looked like a colorful slice of Singaporean life, so I took a five-minute cab ride and immersed myself in an Islamic neighborhood. There were cafes, textile shops, crazy tourist shops, little boutiques and even a beautiful mosque.
Like I said before, though, I was too chicken to eat in one of the cafes, so I wandered from shop to shop. Based on what the shops in Haji Lane were selling, I’d say that the area was hipster-central for Singapore.
Finally done, I decided to hail a cab to go back to the hotel and get a recommendation for dinner. But every time I tried, no cab would stop. So I’d walk another block. And another one. And another one. Finally, I just started following crowds, figuring either they were going somewhere cool, or somewhere I could find a cab.
I ended up in an area called Bugis Village, a tightly packed indoor area crammed with shopping stalls and snack vendors. I stopped and got an iced watermelon juice (not as tasty as it sounds, I should have gone for the kiwi) and took it all in. It was steamy outside and crowded shoulder-to-shoulder inside. Occasionally, I’d reach the end of the building and would be spat out into a square. Then, of course, I’d jump right back in.
Finally, though, I was faded. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was after 6 … or sometime around 3 a.m. in Seattle. I plodded past a Buddist and Hindu temple, both of which were “in use.” I found a gorgeous town square with an upscale hotel, and decided it was time to play the stupid American.
I basically begged the concierge to call a cab for me. Which he did, with what I’m starting to think of as the standard Singapore smile.
I have never been so relieved to see a cab. I went straight to my room and drew a bath, after which I was ready for bed. But since it was only 7:30, I figured I should find something to eat first. However, my options were limited because my feet hurt, I was exhausted and in no mood to try exotic new foods.
I wandered up to the Grand Club Lounge, which advertised all-day complimentary refreshments. Once there, I was immediately greeted by a hotel staffer, who informed me that the concierge could plan a full itinerary for me in the future, should I have time for more exploring.
I almost cried.
Instead, I went into the lounge to see if they had anything I wanted to eat.
I almost cried again.
Instead, I cheated. I went back to my room and ordered a ham sandwich and french fries from room service. I hated myself a little while I was eating them, and vowed to see the concierge today to plan a real sightseeing excursion, with a real meal at the end of it.
Wish me luck!
I am sooo not cool.
Know how I found that out? I’ll tell you:
After 24-odd hours of traveling, I’m enjoying breakfast in my hotel room in Singapore.
I got up at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning–yesterday–and after 17 hours of flying and two hours of layovers, I arrived at my hotel room at midnight Sunday–today. Or tomorrow for most of you.
I’m still not sure how it works, only that the international date line was involved.🙂
My first flight was in a newer 777, which means I had a lie-flat seat. (Did I mention I went business class?) I was able to stretch out and watch movies the whole flight (“The Vow,” “Hunger Games,” “The Avengers”), and even curl up on my side and catch a few zzzs.
I had champagne, wine, a nut course, a salad course, braised short ribs, a cheese course and a hot fudge sundae. I basically rolled off the flight.
I took so many pictures on the flight–of my seat, of my feet in my seat, of the clouds, of Japan from the air–that my seatmate avoided eye contact with me.
When in Tokyo for a two-hour layover, I bought a bag full of cheesy souviners. There may or may not be a ninja mask in my suitcase right now.🙂
Finally in Singapore and through immagration (I checked on my passport no fewer than 35 times during my trip; losing my wallet a few weeks ago made me totally paranoid), I was able to climb in a cab and relax. In that cab, I got to hear such hits as “Mmmm-Bop” by Hansen and “Promiscuous Girl” by Nelly Furtado. Songs from the early 200s that I completely forgot about.
When I was settled into the hotel last night, I called Matt … who was just getting up. I popped a couple Unisom tablets and slept a full eight hours, and called him again … he was having dinner.
I know I should be mature enough not to comment on that, but I’m not.🙂