I’m not a stoic person.
When I stub my toe, you will hear my feelings about it.
When I’m having a bad hair day, you best believe I’m going to pout about it. Because really, hair, for once, in the great “to frizz or not to frizz” debate, pick not to frizz! YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO FRIZZ!
I’m mad that as a person with crohns disease, I have ill effects if I eat cheese all day, which is eternal plan A for how I want to spend my day. But my crohns is fine enough that I can get away with eating cheese for most of the day, so victory is mine!
London police women, circa 1970; photographer unknown
When I was in college, the business department offered a series of lectures designed to help you get a job in your years after college.
There was one night devoted to learning the art of networking. Their suggestion: don’t be afraid to approach people; be open and friendly and make eye contact; and practice your elevator speech. If you’re unfamiliar with a networking elevator speech, it’s the 30 second explanation of who you are and what your experience is, explained in the time it takes you to ride an elevator.
My elevator speech: Hi, my name is Meredith. Don’t you like this eye contact I am making? I got my degree in clothing design, and my Masters in Visual Culture, but I’m currently working in IT mostly for reasons that rhyme with death-by-student-loans. On a scale of 1 to 10, I am 10 open and friendly! It’s been an amazing learning opportunity, and I’m eager to see where I can expand those skills moving forward. Is this where the eye contact ends?!
This weekend I went on my very first completely self-funded vacation.
I had really grand plans for this trip. At one point in the planning, I was just going to go for it. I was going to spend my entire tax refund on a plane ticket to Scotland, a dream of mine for years now.
And then I remembered my student loans.
And then I was going to spend a little bit less, and buy a train ticket to California! Stopping in cities along the way, seeing the best of America’s national parks.
And then I remembered my student loans.
And then I decided to spend the night in Milwaukee, a little over an hour away. And when I get back sit very very still as to not spend any money.
Yeah, that sounds about right. I could even listen to a whole episode of Fresh Air with Terry Gross on the drive, and not have to spread it over three commutes like I usually do! That’s the dream right there!
I pride myself on being mostly confident.
And this is a real point of pride for me because there was once a point in my life where I was aggressively lacking in confidence. My insecurity raged with the fire of a thousand Flaming Hot Cheetos, but because of the insecurity’s inherent insecurity, that rage mostly just looked like bad allergies.
I’ve come a long way and accomplished a lot of things, but it always astonishes me how that insecurity can all come storming back when life decides to pivot.
I don’t think you can even call what happened today a pivot. More like a glance slightly to your left.
We’ll get back to that.
So Life’s Plan A is fine, right? Job and bills and hobbies and celebrity biographies on the weekends. But on days like today, one has to ask…what about Plan B?
“Floating Luncheon,” Hamilton Wright, 1939.
I have some ideas. Only one of which is eating pasta on a floaty.
Step 1: Pack up everything that will fit in my car.
Not everything will fit, so we have to prioritize. Bring the entire comfy pants collection and all the bottles of expired vitamin gummies, and then once that half of the car is full, fill the rest up with kitchen magnets and canvas tote bags.
Step 2: Set up mysterious circumstances under which to disappear.
Any self-respecting student-loan-haver needs to figure out how to escape her situation, especially these days when the Secretary of Education is taking away the onus of accountability from those poor persecuted debt collectors! Because she’s never had a student loans or also any idea what she’s doing! Great!
It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly I got my wake up call. Was it realizing that after a 15 work hour day, I’d spent 20 minutes standing in my kitchen, eating tortilla chips and cold queso, watching celebrity Instagram stories because I had no energy to do anything else? By the way, Busy Phillips is taking a workout class that involves a trampoline. She’s also drinking a special coffee that involves putting actual butter into it, but I don’t want to get into it.
Here she’s explaining the rush on Elmers Glue that stores are experiencing due to the popularity of “slime.” I don’t know.
Was it being so distracted, I was caught by a sales associate smelling an empty vase at Target because I thought it was a scented candle? And that trip to Target was my “fun” thing for the week?
It could have been the night I only had the mental capacity to debate if I should unfollow a bulldog’s instagram account because I was worried I followed too many dogs’ accounts, and what did that say about me?
As you can see, it’s just been a really really cool month for me.
When did I get the wake up call that my work-life balance was less “balance” and more just….work. A lot of work.
I’m not complaining because jobs are cool. Jobs are super cool! Jobs let me pay off my loans, buy food, AND buy a shirt with a badger on it saying, “Don’t tell me what to do!” The badger is holding flowers, by the way. I feel like that’s an important point.
But a long week is a long week. And a long two weeks are even longer. A long four weeks? We don’t talk about that.
I’m the youngest of four, southern, and the daughter of feminists. If you weren’t aware, that’s a very particular, aggressive type of stubborn.
One unhelpful way this comes out is when my friends start recommending movies and tv shows.
“Meredith, you should watch Downton Abbey. It’s great.”
“Yeah. Ok! I’ll watch it sometime!”
2 weeks later…
“You haven’t watched Downton Abbey, yet?! You’re going to love it! Sybil, Meredith! Sybil!”
“I mean, ok. Sybil sounds great, I guess, but I’m watching Breaking Bad.
“Stop watching that and start watching Downton Abbey! Sybil!”
2 weeks later…
“So. How are you liking Downton Abbey? You haven’t watched it yet? Meredith, it’s going to be your favorite show.”
“….you realize I’m never going to watch it now, don’t you? Downton Abbey is dead to me. As is this friendship.”
- Yes. I am a pretty miserable human.
- I watched the first season of Downton Abbey. It was fine.
- The harder people push, the more I want to push back.