Sunday, December 31

"3:00 in the morning, and it looks like its gonna be another sleepless night ..."

That's the first line of a song, by the way. Crystal Gail I think. She had some stuff out on the country charts back in the 70s. But anyhoo, here I am at 3 in the morning wide awake. Just woke up and couldn't go back to sleep, so I'm putting it to good use here. Aren't you lucky?

Tomorrow (or I guess technically today) is New Year's Eve. That has nothing to do with why I'm awake, but its a place to start this blog. No this is not about resolutions, I don't do them. I do view the new year as a fresh start, though. I think everyone needs one of those about once a year so why not now?

Over at Jenny Crusie's blog she talks about having a list of indulgences rather than resolutions and I like that idea. We tend to think of indulging as a negative thing, but its not. An indulgence is a reward. Something to make getting up in the morning worthwhile. I mean if all you had to look forward to was another day of self improvement it would get old fast. But we all have responsibilities and obligations and things we have to do as responsible members of society. That's just part of regular life. An indulgence is the treat we give our souls for doing what's expected the rest of the time. Its like allowing yourself dessert once in a while even though you're on a diet. Its okay to set down the burden once in a while, to take a rest. It makes carrying that load a bit more bearable.

So, my indulgences ...

1. Spend more time with people who make me laugh and less time with people I have to bite my tongue around. Nobody likes a martyr so why let someone suck the life out of you if you have a choice?

2. Give myself more days off this year. Days when I don't need to speak to another person if I don't want to. Can't live like that all the time, of course. But as much as I enjoy the people in my life, I need some downtime, some alone time. Time with just some soft music and a book with no interruptions. My soul demands it. And I know that doing this will allow be to be more "there" for other people. So its good for everyone.

3. Find new authors that excite me. (Yep there's a definite theme going here with the books.) This means I'll have to be adventurous at the library which is not exactly a burden. The thing is there are a limited number of really good authors out there and most of them put out maybe one book a year if they are prolific. I need more books than that people! So I need to find more people writing them. I picked up 2 this past year and its been so much fun!

4. Get back to crocheting. Its something I enjoy and now that I have the iPod for listening to audiobooks I can enjoy both things at the same time so I'm not neglecting my love of books. The thing is, there's something therapeutic about crocheting. Like gardening except you can do it year 'round. Once you get into it you only need to use a small portion of your brain while your hands go about doing a repetitive task. This allows your conscious mind to drift, sorting itself out. You are just busy enough thinking about your stitches that you can't overthink other stuff. Basically its like a vacation for your conscious mind. For me its crocheting and gardening, but for you it might be refinishing furniture or tying flies. But I think everyone should have something like this to turn to.

5. Listen to more music. I like many kinds of music and listening makes me feel good. But in my house the tv is almost always on. I like tv as much as the next person but really most of the time its just noise. I have a handfull of shows I really look forward to, and the occasional movie, but mostly its stuff I don't care about. The thing with tv, though, is its addictive. It draws your attention against your will and you later discover you've completely wasted an hour or more when you could have been doing something you really enjoy, rather than spending that time watching ... something you can't even remember now. So I'm going to walk away from the tv, go to another room, and just listen. Maybe while I read a book.

Tuesday, December 19

Why I don't volunteer

I know, all the good people volunteer. They offer their services, they take charge, the have their fingers in all the pies. I don't. I'm not a Scrooge; I'm not adverse to helping out, doing my part, etc. It has nothing to do with not wanting to help out.

The reason I'm posting this topic has less to do with the holiday season than it sounds. Yes this post was inspired by a recent event of a holiday nature; but its not a bah, humbug ... honestly. Here's what happened.

Every year for some years now our floor has hosted a potluck lunch the week before Christmas. Its a pretty good turn out, lots of participation, etc. And truthfully we've been doing it for so long that it pretty much runs itself. People know what's expected at this point. But someone has to get the ball rolling, arranging for the conference room, notifying everyone, putting up a sign up sheet, etc. And this year the previous organizer had tapped someone else to take over. Not me. Although she hinted it might be my turn next year. And I had to say, "no thanks." But I'm not a Grinch, I swear.

The problem is that I have control issues, and I don't delegate very well. I'm perfectly fine letting others live their lives however they please as long as our spheres don't intersect. But if our spheres touch, I will have a nearly irrestible need to wrest control from you. Its not that I want to. I don't. I don't like telling people what to do. I just know that it would be so much better if everyone did it my way and on my terms. And yet I'm a very mild-mannered person otherwise. Really I am. But put me in charge of something and I turn into a drill sargeant. No, worse, I become this hulking dragon of a person, with my eyes wheeling about in my head and fire snorting out of my nostrils as Darth Vader's voice comes out of my mouth ... "What do you mean you haven't done it yet? Must I use the Dark Side on you." hiss ... pant ... hiss ... pant. It gets very ugly. I even frighten myself. So its much better if I step back and let others take control and just do my little part, whatever specific task has been assigned to me.

The problem is that I am by nature a pretty organized and efficient person and sometimes people notice that and just assign projects to me, assuming I'll be good at it. And usually I am, but that just brings on a whole 'nother problem. Once people know you are good at managing something, you're stuck with it. If you are good at it, they will not let you shake the job. Suddenly nobody else will be available or capable. They'll complain behind your back that you're pushy and fight you when you try to get them to cooperate ... but they won't let you step down and pass the baton. No matter how deep your voice gets.

So I avoid being the person in charge and I don't volunteer. I'll do anything you ask in the way of helping out, but I won't take control. Its better for everyone this way.

Tuesday, December 5

Much Ado About Nothing

The other day I reached into my wallet for some money and had a hard time finding it. That's partly because I didn't have very much in there; but I knew I had a little ... somewhere. The problem was I couldn't find the folding stuff among the receipts I had shoved in my wallet. Some housecleaning was in order.

So that evening I sat down with my wallet and register, prepared to dutifully note any debit card or credit card transactions. And no wonder I had trouble finding anything in there; the receipts measured to more than 18 inches laid end to end. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Makes you think "gee, she should probably do that more often." Well guess what? That was only 3 receipts. Three. So now you're thinking "Aha! Clearly she made a lot of purchases on those 3 occasions." Well clearly you haven't made purchases lately that involved computerized cash registers. Because one of those receipts was about 7 1/2 inches long and had only one purchase listed! I counted up all the transactions, total, for those 3 receipts and it came to a whopping 8 items. I don't get it. Its not like the print is so big that they need all that space. Oh, and that doesn't even include the coupon slips they push on you. Maybe this doesn't bother anyone else. But it drives me crazy to purchase a single greeting card, for example, and receive enough paper to cloth myself with in return (I'm short, it could work).

While I'm on the subject, another thing that bothers me is the way cash transactions are handled these days. I did my bit behind the counter while I was in high school, and I remember being taught to hand the customer their coins first and then their bills. More and more often I get a cashier who slaps the bills down on my open palm and then piles the coins on top. Since I've usually got my wallet in my other hand it requires some juggling to put the money away. And you know, there's all those receipts in the way too. Inevitably, I end up dropping some coins.

I guess its just me, though, because I don't hear other people complaining about this stuff. They complain about other things. There was an article in the paper a few days ago saying that manufacturers were responding to customer complaints about the plastic "clam shell" packaging. Apparently in the future we will have kinder, gentler packaging. Half the contents will probably be missing but you'll be able to get to whatever is left a lot easier. This is because people complained about having to cut away at the plastic with a knife to get the packaging open, and it seems people sometimes miss the packaging and open an artery instead.

Okay, that's a problem. But I think people are looking at it all wrong. Its a question of perspective. Rather than seeing the risk, they need to concentrate on the opportunity. How often do you get to maniacally hack away with a serrated edge without raising eyebrows? You can vent a lot of frustration on those packages. Gives new meaning to the phrase "retail therapy." Without the packaging to deal with we'll need another outlet. And the cashier is just too convenient. I can see the headlines now. "Cashier Found Tied Up With Register Receipts, Mouth Full of Pennies." That's assault, right? But not robbery. Because the assailant did pay. The trouble began when he got his change back. With receipts.