On Being a Bad Neighbor

I’m not the most outgoing person. When I am in my comfort zone, with my friends, I can be loud and obnoxious, but outside of that zone I am a closet introvert. I can fake it if I need to. I spend most of my life faking it with strangers.

I am also not even remotely an outdoor kind of girl. I grew up in Arizona where it is too hot most of the year to hang out outside. Moving to Iowa might have rectified this, but with the nicer weather came lots and lots of green things that grow. And produce pollen. That get in my nose. And make me miserable. Nine months of the year. Plus there are the bugs, the snakes, the random rodent things that run around, no plumbing, sweatiness… who wants to deal with that?

So I am not incredibly outgoing and I really dislike going outside for any extended period of time. This makes it hard to establish any sort of friendship with the people who live around me. To make matters worse, there aren’t that many people that live around me. We live in a fairly small, isolated area. My street only has four houses on it.

We have lived in our house for five years now. We made aquaintance with most of our neighbors, but the relationship has never gone beyond waving to each other as we drive by.

The one exception to all of this are the neighbors who live directly across the street from us. J and C are the sort of neighbors that dreams are made of. They have an incredibly well maintained yard. J is always outside working on some sort of project. They decorate their house for Christmas. The host a huge neighborhood party on July 4th (complete with very impressive and very illegal fireworks). They have three grown up children and lots of grand babies. All American and wonderful.

They are extremely wonderful to us.  They have helped us with house issues (we are completely inept), lent us tools, watched our dog, picked up our mail, plowed our driveway every time it snows… the list goes on and on.  They rarely ask anything of us in return.

Until last week.  C texted and told us they were going out of town for a few days and asked if I could pick up their mail.  An opportunity to do a favor – yes!  I was so excited to have an opportunity to do something – anything – for them.

So excited, it would seem, that I completely forgot.  For four days I forgot.  In fact, I never would have remembered except that C texted on Saturday and told me they got home a day early.  No amount of apology will ever make me feel better, especially since she was so gracious and said it wasn’t a big deal.  But it is a big deal.  I can’t even remember to do a simple, easy favor for these amazing people who have done so much for us.  

I have no idea how to make it up to them.

An Overwhelming Sense of Stupid

When I get overwhelmed I shut down.  I pace about, full of nervous tension, doing nothing – or I sit on the couch and watch TV and feel immense guilt.  Or a combination of both.

I feel that way right now.  There are so many things I need to do and I am messing with my own damn head.  GET ORGANIZED!  PRIORITIZE!  STOP BEING LAZY!  YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING, ALL AT ONCE, ALL THE TIME!  OTHER WOMEN CAN DO IT, WHY CAN’T YOU!

  • I am sitting at my kitchen table and just staring at my messy house.  I need to clean my house.
  • My sewing machine is next to me.  I need to mend a few things.
  • My tote bag filled with my statistics book and notes is on the chair.  I need to read and watch an online lecture.
  • The basement is only half painted and a total wreck.  I need to finish it.
  • My daughter is whining out of boredom.  I need to play with her.
  • My butt is getting fatter by the minute.  I need to go running.

I need to shut the hell up and quit torturing myself.  Things will get done, they always do.

Do other women do this to themselves, or do they know the secret to being Super Mom/Wife/Housekeeper/Employee/Well Rounded Person/Not Crazy Lazy Sitting on Her Computer Whining?

I guess I’ll go clean something.

Once Is Enough

Today started off pretty much like any other ordinary day. Alarm. Shower. IV drip of coffee. Lulu maintenance. Preschool. More coffee. Off to work. Exchange pleasantries. Email. Work stuff. Call 911. More work stuff.

Wait, what?  Back up. Call 911. I had to call 911. My coworker got really sick, and I had to call 911.

I’ve never had to do that before, and I hope with all my might that I never have to again. It was terrifying to press those buttons, because those three buttons meant that shit just got real.

As the operator asked me all the pertinent questions (location, emergency, age, symptoms…) I was outwardly calm. I answered the questions. I explained where to find us. I went outside to wait for the ambulance. I waved it down and directed them in.

On the inside, though, I was a wreck. A heart racing, wanting to sob uncontrollably, absolute wreck.

And I don’t know why. I’m still trying to reconcile this to myself.

More importantly, I hope my coworker is okay. We don’t know much, but last we heard she needs surgery. I hope the morning brings answers – and a truly ordinary day.

Dear Lulu

Today was a long day for the both of us. And a big day too. You see, today you experienced your first instance of disappointment and heart break. I didn’t see it coming. I would have protected you from it if I had known. As the tears gushed down your cheeks I could only watch helplessly from behind the two way mirror. I wanted to go in and scoop you up and let you cry your bitter tears on my shoulder. But I didn’t. We both had to learn this lesson today… you will have disappointment in your life and I can’t always stop it from happening.

I could have stopped it from happening five months ago. I could have dropped $50 on a polyester costume you will wear only once while standing shyly in front of an audience of strangers and not dancing. I can envision it – you would have looked adorable. I would have been a proud momma. But I thought you were too young for a recital. I still do. It would be your first recital and you wouldn’t remember a moment of it. Snapshots aren’t memories, just random moments captured on film. I want you to remember these things.

So I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry you felt left out today while some of the other kids got their costumes. You weren’t the only one left out though. And I’m sorry the teachers chose to make a production of handing out costumes instead of doing it after class when I could have rushed you safely out of the way. I didn’t know they were going to do that.

You won’t remember today, but I will. I will never forget how my heart ached as you flung yourself into my arms and sobbed for the costume you won’t get. All I can do is promise that there will be costumes. When you are older. When you can remember. I won’t forget, baby. I promise.

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Nerding Out, Stationery Style

Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with paper.  When my mom would take me to the grocery store with her I would stay in the stationery aisle and just stare at the notepads and letterhead and envelopes and pens until she was done.  (In my defense, it is really boring to go to the grocery store.)

I still love paper.  I love notepads, post-it notes, journals, planners, calendars.  I’ve made wedding invitations, baby shower invitations, birthday party invites, baby announcements.  I have boxes of scrapbook paper, colored paper, punches, cutters.  I made a house binder to keep track of menus, dinners, cleaning schedules.  I’ve never used it, but making it was so much fun.  I. Just. Love. It.

{Side note:  I hate scrapbooking strangely enough.  It’s boring.  I would rather make a photo book online.}

With this whole grad school thing starting soon, I decided that I needed a really amazing planner to keep track of my assignments and appointments.  After scouring Pinterest for ideas (when I should have been working) I thought I had enough inspiration to make my own.  I have a graphic design certificate and have a decent grasp on CS6.  I figured I would have no problem making pretty calendars and decorative sheets.  I was just about committed to the idea when I ran across a website that changed all that.

ErinCondren.com

I nerded out big time.  I found the Life Planner and it was as if my life suddenly made sense.  I am living a life.  I need to plan.  I need a Life Planner!  It is rather expensive and at first I hesitated because of that.  I bought the April-December calendar because it was on sale – $50 is a big commitment to a binder of paper, even for a nerd like me.  $30 seemed easier to swallow just now.

I picked out my cover design.  Managed to forego the fun add-ons, no matter how tempting they were.  I even snagged a $10 off coupon (which basically covered the shipping costs).  Entered my credit card number and DONE – I had ordered a beautiful planner.

And a few days later it came.  It was like Christmas.  It came in a lovely box and it was wrapped in tissue paper held together by a cute sticker.  Inside was my lovely binder filled with lovely pages of life planning fun.  It even came with some free personalized gift tags.  Opening it was an experience in and of itself.

Even Lulu was jealous.  I let her have the pretty business card.  She was excited about that.

But no one is more excited than I am for this: