Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Tricky*

Lately I’m beginning to think that the key to a happier life lies in getting good at tricking oneself. I don’t mean that habitual self-deception is healthy or desirable, mind you. I just mean that sometimes to get out of our own way, we have to practice a little creativity in how we present things to ourselves.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say – just as a crazy, random example, of course—that I have several huge piles of laundry to put away. (Hush, internets. This is an entirely fictional scenario** that I’m making up to impart some crazy sage-like wisdom on you.) Of course, the longer said piles are left to sit they tend to multiply. In no time flat, I’m left with an overwhelming amount of work. And because I’m only human, internets, the more overwhelming it is, the more likely I am to avoid it. Then every time I’m confronted with the reality of it, guilt and depression and all manner of self-defeating ugliness flares up. True story.

But as I’ve discovered in my 40-something years on this planet, the way to manage such things is head on. The only way through it is through it... but to avoid all the angst and drama, I can play little games with myself to make it more manageable.

I tell myself, “OK, Peg, just put away the underwear today. That’s the goal. Just the underwear. They're relatively small, and wadding works just as well as folding. How much time can it take?”

By making it small, I neatly side-step that whole I-don’t-have-enough-time-to-tackle-this-chore craziness. One of two things happens next:

1) I feel a rush of accomplishment as I check the task off my To Do list. I win!!!
B) I feel such a rush of accomplishment as I check the task off my To Do list that I’m inspired to do more and I finish ALL THE CHORES. I am mighty! Rawr! I win!!!

See? Either way is a win-win and I only had to reframe the situation to disarm my silly self-defeating behavior and WIN. Hooray!

Other times, though, I have to be a self-created Dread Pirate Roberts to my inner Westley.

Stay with me here, internets. What I mean is this: In trying to tackle better habits, which intimidates me not on the day-to-day scale, but when I consider how important it is to have consistency over the long haul, I Dread Pirate Roberts myself by telling myself, “Good night, self. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you let you quit in the morning tomorrow."

But then tomorrow comes and I no longer feel like quitting, until I do. So I remind myself that I can always quit tomorrow. And so on.

It helps me keep from falling victim to the all-too-common syndrome wherein one realizes the vastness of the journey ahead, and plays out all the scenarios and work/effort those scenarios will take... thus getting so exhausted from over-thinking it all that there’s no energy left to take the first wee step.

As with the chore breakdown method, the amount is no different. It’s all in how you present it.

It makes sense, when you think about it (and probably even if you don't). If someone approaches you with a new idea or some constructive criticism or whatever, how they go about it makes all the difference. Applying the same logic to ourselves is, well, logical.

So, yeah. Tricking oneself. Opposite day. Crazy, or crazy like a fox?

You’ll only know if you try. What could possibly go wrong? ***

* Once again, bonus points to anyone getting my old school hip-hop reference.

** I can make such statements and still look myself in the mirror because I don’t currently have several huge piles of laundry facing me. But let’s just say that there’s a reason the scenario has that vérité ring to things, mmm-kay?

*** Don’t worry, internets. It’s not like I followed that up with, “Hey, y’all! Watch THIS!” or “Somebody hold my beer…” because we all know that way lies madness. And probable ER visits.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Numbers Can Be Hilarious

A New Blog Post! Now With NSFW Video Links! And Extra Capital Letters!

One of the fun parts about nurturing a baby blog is tracking growth. It's pretty cool to see where the site's hits come from—Russia! Brazil! How cool is that?!?—and to watch the number of page views increase.

So far, the most page views any one blog has had is 37.

But because I'm basically 12 years old on the inside (and also a big fan of Kevin Smith and the movie "Clerks" *), I'm finding this inordinately funny today—hence the unscheduled mini-post.

(Seriously. I can't even type the number without giggling to myself. Puerile much? Then again, I use words like "puerile" pretty regularly. I'm a conundrum.)

Because my brain is always filled with tangentially relevant movie and/or song quotes, it's all I can do not to gleefully holler Dante's horribly crass parting salvo as Veronica storms out of the store as I'm writing this post.

Arrested Development—not just a brilliantly funny TV show, folks. I'm living proof.

* Again, language isn't safe for work, or those easily offended by sexual subject matter or crude language. If this describes you, don't click!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler

I have performed at Renaissance festivals off and on for more than 20 years, internets, and I tell you this so that you will appreciate how much experience this gives me in the parade department. (If you've never been to a RenFest—which is what regulars call it—there's always a big midday death march parade so that all the characters and shoppe owners (the extra letters give it authenticity, don'tcha know) can show off their wares and exercise their patron harassment improvisation skills.)

All this is to say that know a thing or two about parades and the doing of them.

After this weekend, I can honestly say this is a Schroedinger's Statement—both true and untrue at the same time.

The Bishop Arts District in Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood is a fun, funky area. My dear friend is the owner/producer/director of Delish Films and got me and several friends to krewe the parade entry in the 3rd annual Bishop Arts Mardi Gras parade. (She has a long and illustrious history of getting me to do wacky things; sordid details to come in subsequent blogs. Probably. By which I mean not really.)

This parade experience differed from my RenFest experience in several key ways in that I was not:
1) walking;
2) wearing 25 extra lbs. of clothing (including a corset);
3) overheating due to 100°+ heat index;
4) entirely sober.

These things made it alternately easier and harder in equal measure. The not having to walk 35 acres (or the Dallas street equivalent) was better, as was the ability to wear a t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. Also, it was a balmy 60° so hooray for all of that!

But when you have hordes (and I think over 11,000 attendees qualifies as "hordes") of people screaming for beads, and you've theoretically had half-a-dozen Jell-o shots, a couple beers, and a giant to-go coffee cup of Jack Daniels (Hi, Mom! You realize blogging sometimes involves fiction, right?!? And remember LE Bean's Exaggeray?), untangling strands of cheap beads and flinging them with impunity can be... interesting (in the Wash sense of things).

On a related note, people will go nuts over cheap trinkets as rewards. I've seen it in my career in corporate training—seriously, a room full of grown bankers competing for a sticker?!—and the parade hype is no different.

It was kind of a heady, powerful feeling, internets. They wanted my beads, and I made 'em work for it! I demanded that they holler and make noise; my minions the crowd did just that. (Except I was a sucker for cute little kids. There was one beautiful little girl in a tutu that looked like peacock feathers and I lost. my. damned. MIND. I'm not proud, internets; it happens.) I wanted them to jump? They jumped. Dance, monkeys, DANCE! Muahahahahaha!


I learned lots of other things, though, besides this rather disturbing tendency of mine that should have probably been forced to remain latent for everyone's safety and well being.

For example, internets, did you know that it's possible to make a giant king cake out of a foam egg crate mattress, some satiny fabric, a lot of glitter and enough spray-on glue to get the 1996 starting line up of the Dallas Cowboys wasted? True story.
 (This is the work in progress, but it's still pretty awesome for all its lack of glitter.)

I also learned that once you start gluing sequins to your face, everyone will want to join in (though, sadly, I didn't have time to give everyone an awesome YouTube-inspired makeup Mardi Gras mask like mine).
 (Me and my BFF Buffalo Gal)

But really, it was an incredible day spent with some incredibly talented, creative people and I am already looking forward to next year.

My liver, however, is dubious.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Birthdays Are Like Reese's...

Yes, internets, the rumors are true; today is my birthday.

(Give yourself [random amount] of bonus points for every song cue this sparked in your grey matter. Not sure what you can use those bonus points for, mind, but best you have them just in case. Also not sure what kind of emergency or event precipitates the need for such a thing, but since they're fictitious and therefore don't require storage space, may as well hoard them, eh?)

So here's the thing: I don't mind getting older. Or not much, anyway (especially when you consider the alternative). This is even more of a factor since the whole Boobonic PlagueTM thing in 2009. Now I celebrate everything. Life is hard enough, really, so when things don't suck—or even just suck a little less—it's worth making the most of it.


I hate to sound ungrateful, internets, but I do have birthday issues. It wasn't easy growing up with a birthday the day before Valentine's day. Know anyone with a birthday in December? If so, you know they're probably hypersensitive to that here's-your-Birthmas-present syndrome, wherein the giver combines the birthday and Christmas gifts into one. Well, I'm the same way, only it's regarding Birthentine Cake.

Yep, I had one too many heart-shaped cakes with obnoxious pink squashy babies festooning it. I know my mom loves me and she's a good baker, but there were frequently shortcuts in the birthday cake department—time no doubt spent buying presents!—and apparently it's impossible to find baked goods without all that obnoxious Valentine fluff at any bakery within 20 miles.


Is it too much to ask for my birthday to just BE MY DAMNED BIRTHDAY?

Not that I have anything against Valentine's Day, mind you. It's too commercial, of course, and sheeple tend to focus more on the outer trappings than substance, but I firmly believe a holiday is what you put into it. Any day that encourages expressions of love and kindness? I'm for it. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Just keep that Valentine crap outta my birthday! Sheesh!

Yes, if you're dating me then it sucks to be you; I want two prezzies. They don't have to be big or showy—my jewelry tastes run more towards silver and garnets, and I'd probably be happier with books or CDs anyway—but one gift must come wrapped very distinctly sans hearts, squashy babies, doilies, or other such nonsense. I'm fine with such things on a Valentine present, but NOT for my birthday, thankyewverymuch!

It doesn't have to be a traditional birthday, for that matter... just so long as it's not all VALENTINEY. I can prove it. See, my 40th birthday fell on a Friday the 13th. My solution? Slasher/Serial Killer theme party!

It was rad. Several friends came dressed for the occasion: Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Jack the Ripper, and Hannibal and Clarice. I even had a famous victim—the Black Dahlia. B came in her pin-up finery sporting a tray of goodies and a "Bait" name tag. And since many of my friends are active in the haunt community, there were some gruesome, realistic wounds—like Lys' fantastic bullet hole in the center of her forehead—on various and sundry anonymous victims.

Morbid? Yes. But equally as awesome. (As I'm sure I have mentioned before, my friends are amazing and wonderful people.) Besides, it gave me an excuse to shop for my not-so-exclusively-inner Goth girlie. Skulls and tombstones and blood—oh my! (I even found gummi candy in test tubes... complete with eyeballs suspended in the goo!)

My friend SIKO showed up as a ninja, since they are in essence part serial killer, part slasher. (I already love him because he uses the word "beer" as a verb—i.e., "I'm going to beer you now. I'm going to beer you hard."—and ninja-ing my birthday only made my heart bigger so I could feel more love.)

So to sum up: birthdays good. Hooray for successful superannuation! Valentine's Day? Don't hate it. Even when I'm unattached, there's no lack of love in my world.

Just don't get my birthday chocolate in your Valentine's peanut butter* and everything will be fine, y'all.

* OK, maybe that's a poor analogy after all. I really love me some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (one of my favorite candies, in fact). So, yeah...

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Slight Case of Hyperbole*

This post will make those of you who have met me more than twice will either find my next statement to be humorous or so utterly unbelievable that you'll think it's an exaggeration, but I swear to you it's not.

In packing for a business trip last week**, I determined that I didn't own enough black shirts.

I seriously couldn't find one that looked right with what I was planning to wear!

Here's how I know this is a suspension of disbelief moment. My friend, who, for blog purposes we'll call The Muppet (who is, as you'd guess, a very physically expressive, animated human), knew this about me years and years ago. I showed up at a party and she exclaimed, "And there's Peg wearing all black." (Cue deadpan.) "Try not to be shocked." (Maybe... just maybe, internets, I might still have a bit of an old-school Goth thing going on.)

This may be one of those things that only other women and gay men—or at least those who are clothes-oriented—understand. While I have a lot of black clothing, the shades of black don't always match (due to dye lots and slight fading in the wash, etc.). And since this jacket was black and grey striped with black trim at the edges, the black shirt to go underneath would be right up against the black stripe, thus showing very obviously that the blacks didn't match. Gasp, argh!

Since I was traveling for a somewhat important business trip, that clearly would not do.

"Peg," you may be thinking, "why didn't you simply pack something else?"

To which, dear internets, I would respectfully reply, "Because of shoes." And I wouldn't even be fibbing or using what my friend LE Bean calls The Exaggeray (which is the linguistic equivalent of a Death Ray, only it imbues a statement with dangerously toxic levels of hyperbole).

Of course, when one is flying nowadays, there's a heightened need to streamline packing. While I am a Gold frequent flyer—which means I don't get charged that pesky $25 baggage check fee—I still don't want to have to wrangle a ridiculous amount of luggage. (I still have my monstrosity of a purse plus a laptop bag with which to contend, after all.) Therefore, I try to fit it all in one case, which means 1 to 2 pairs of shoes at the most.

Since I'm trying to be a healthier Peg—what with surviving the Boobonic PlagueTM and all—one of those pairs is going to be something athletic in nature, thus not at all suited for business meetings when one is employed at a company in the top 20 of Fortune 500 companies.

This means that before each trip I have to decide which pair of shoes I wish to wear for business. Then I have to match my outfits to go with the resulting choice of either black or brown shoes (and if you have to ask why it matters, internets, I don't know that I can help you). My wardrobe choices are further narrowed by my inability to almost pathological hatred of ironing. This limits options to things that won't wrinkle (much).

Add to that my post-Plague issues with climate control—radiation blew out my thyroid, so for the first time in the history of me I am perennially chilly (which equals layers of clothing and an extra wrap to avoid freezing to death [damn you, Exaggeray!] discomfort and proportional levels of crankiness)—and it curtails my choices even further.

It's not like I can pack my Skull and Crossbones Slanket (best. purchase. EVAR!), and I'd feel a little silly shipping it. Then there's the possibility of loss or damage. (The horror!) Plus, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to expense it.

It's tragic, really, these First World problems of mine.

So to 'splain (or, since it's probably too late, sum up like a dashing Spanish swordsman), one pair of black shoes + shades of black that don't match ÷ necessity for warm(ish), packable business-appropriate clothing = ±20*** black shirts/sweaters that simply won't do.

In other words, I really don't own enough black clothing. Who'd have thunk it?

* Bonus points to any of you who get the musical reference in the title.

** This is where I make my excuse for not posting last week. Somehow, I thought that traveling all morning, meetings all afternoon, and a team dinner that evening would still leave me time to write this post.

All I can say, internets, is that some days it's a good thing I'm pretty 'cuz I ain't always that bright.

*** Also not an exaggeration