Sunday, January 21, 2007
I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but with my super-busy life and all, i just haven't had the time. Now, on a cold, rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon, I write to tell you that finally I can be appreciated for what some might call my little "messy problem".
From day one of my existence, I have been a little messy and unorganized...even arriving in this world two weeks late...two weeks! Most pictures from my childhood are of a dirt-covered dress or food-stained face or wrinkled outfit but also a big, shining smile. I've never had a problem with my messiness, in fact, it suits me just fine. Every now and again I get frustrated if I can't find something or when I find the sweater I want to wear balled up in a corner covered in dog hair but for the most part, it's who I am love it or leave it. I learned pretty early on that my way wasn't the "right" way when every time I wanted to do something fun I was either delayed or completely forbidden until I cleaned my room. More often than not, I never made it to my fun activity because cleaning my room went a little like this: refuse to touch a single thing in protest of the fact that i was condemned to my room until it was clean...(2 hours later)...resign to the fact that unless i do something, i'll rot & die in my room, further adding to the mess...pick up random item #1 to put away...stare at said random item for a few minutes trying to figure out the easiest way to get rid of it...sigh...decide to throw it away, easy-peasy...pick up random item #2....stare at said random item for a few minutes...sigh...realize i haven't played/read/reviewed said item in a while...(4 hours later)...decide to throw it away, easy-peasy...and so on. Cleaning my room became a day-long event and I hated every second of it. It was my room after all, why couldn't it look the way I wanted it to? This routine carried on for the first 18 years of my life then it was off to college.
**By the way, can I just pause for a moment to tell you about the most offensively smelling gas I've ever experienced coming out of my dog right now? I know this constitutes an "overshare" but it's truly amazing both in its quantity and dry-heave inducing quality. Sorry but it's so distracting I thought you should know in case you get to the end of the post and nothing makes sense...I'm being gassed here! Now, carry on...**
It's one thing for your family to know exactly how messy you are, it's quite another for the outside world to know. So, I tried really hard to neaten up my life the best I could and it worked for about the first two weeks. I will say I improved a step or two from "disgustingly filthy messy" to "why can't you ever completely close a damn dresser drawer? messy". It became glaringly clear just how messy I was when I moved in with my best friend, BJ, literally the most organized person I have ever met. Growing up the middle child in a military family, her neatness touched every part of her life...her school work, her thoughts, her schedule, her study habits, her wardrobe, her social life...it was, and remains to be, truly astounding. If you've ever done the personality colors, she is 100% gold...I'm about 108% orange. It was pretty hysterical to walk into our dorm room. It was like looking at a before and after picture of a tornado winding its way through a bedroom. On her side, everything had its place, all doors and drawers were closed, shoes were lined nicely in her closet, clothes were hanging in her closet all in one direction and organized by season and right-side out, desk immaculate, neatly decorated with pictures and knick-knacks, bed made. On my side, desk covered with papers, bed unmade, every dresser drawer open and spewing clothes (someone once compared my dresser to a waterfall...as you moved down the dresser from top to bottom, each drawer was opened a little wider with a few more clothes hanging out. I think it was a nice effect!), mountains of clothes everywhere, clothes half-hanging off hangers, clothes hung inside out in every direction possible, books and papers covering my bed...basically, a mess. I think I secretly hoped some of her neatness would rub off on me but somehow I think my messiness just increased.
My husband deals with my untidy lifestyle as best he can and over the years has resigned himself to doing most of the chores. I try to help out but am just so inconsistent...one week I'm on point straightening up, doing laundry, making the bed, etc. then the next two weeks I won't touch a thing so we're worse off than my "good week". Just when I get one room looking good, three others are a complete disaster. The thing is, no matter how hard I try, this really is the way I am and while I have improved a little over the years and learned some tricks to help at least disguise exactly how "bad" i am, what you see is what you get.
So given my mess-history, imagine my surprise and delight when I opened The New York Times on Thursday, December 21 and found "Saying Yes to Mess", an article in the House & Home section. The subtitle read "A movement is afoot to embrace disorder as the detritus of a creative mind. But the effort is a little disorganized." Intrigued and more than a little excited, I read through the article and for the first time in my life, felt okay with being messy versus feeling bad about something that is a large part of who I am. Here are some of my favorite parts of the article:
"An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot , one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat "office landscapes") and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It's a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands...Total organization is a futile attempt to deny and control the unpredictability of life."
Now, do I think this article is a little harsh on "neatfreaks"? Yes. Do I know super-neat and organized people that are tons of fun and lovers of life? Yes. Do I think this article was written by a dirty, dirty pig of a person that makes herself feel better about her faults by putting everyone else down? Absolutely. But, hey, a girl needs a little positive reinforcement every now and again, right? I am in full support of this new movement and finally feel like a trendsetter! If only this article had been written circa 1989 so I could have had a little more fun growing up. Oh well, I'm sure all that introspection I experienced sitting alone for hours in my room was character building and helped shape me into the strong, independent woman I am today *side-splitting laughter*.
Two things that are particularly funny about this post:
#1 - The reason I am allowing myself "computer time" is because it's my reward for doing laundry and cleaning my room.
#2 - I wanted to include more from the article but I lost the second page. Ha!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I'm not very good at writing book or movie reviews and you're lucky if you even get a "yeah, I liked it" out of me, so bear with me as I clumsily share my praise of Dave Eggers latest novel, What is the What.
Last November I joined a local book club with my best bud, Erin. At the first meeting we attended, we discussed which books we would choose to read in 2007. Someone suggested What is the What and gave a brief synopsis of the book which I found fairly interesting: set in Atlanta, a man recalls his struggles escaping civil war and refugee camps in Sudan. I've always had a strange curiosity with Africa as a whole...once my sophomore year in college I found a tiny article on cnn.com about Sierra Leone and 4 hours later, after jumping from article to article, was numb with the horrors upon horrors recounted in the stories. I've read a little more here and there about the struggles throughout Africa and seen Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond which further seek to explain and tell the story of the complicated, helpless, hopeless, tragic issues throughout parts of Africa and it makes me want to drop everything and help. For now, I live vicariously through my friend Courtney who works for USAID in Zambia, educating the local community about AIDS prevention. I am learning more and more about Coke's water initiatives in small villages throughout Africa and our focus on the important role women play in the development of of the continent and would like to think that one day I may have an opportunity to help with some of these projects. So, based on this interest I already have and the fact that I really enjoyed reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (another Eggers work), I was very excited about reading the book.
At first, I was a little confused about the novel...it's actually a biography or memoir of Valentino Achak Deng told through the author, Dave Eggars. It is written as a novel because some of the characters are fictionalized as are some of the events and parts of the story are in a different order than what Achak experienced, so were rearranged to flow a little better for the reader and further impact the story. So, although it is a bit unclear where the truth ends and the embellishments begin, I wholeheartedly believe that even if all the sad, sick, scary, unimaginably horrific events didn't 100% happen to Achak, they were experienced by other boys and worthy of including in the novel so we are all given a clear understanding of the plight of the Lost Boys, the name given to the thousands of Sudanese boys orphaned during the civil war.
What I enjoyed most about the book, although "enjoy" isn't the right word here as most of Achak's story is so dishearteningly sad it makes you ill, was getting a much better understanding of the history of Sudan. Especially within the last couple of years as more and more celebrities and organizations are bringing attention to Darfur, we get kind of a high level overview of what is going on and a little bit of why it happened but hearing Achak's story, you get a deep understanding of the situation and the affects it has had on the Sudanese. I cannot fathom living in a place where you can trust no one and you are a part of nothing and there is nowhere to turn for help or safety. Your own people will kill you just as quickly and brutally as the "enemy". You follow Achak's life from around the age of 7 when the murahaleen (Muslims from Northern Sudan) attacked his village, through his late 20's when he has finally traveled to the safety of the US where he continues to experience struggles and loss and discouragement at every turn. You begin to understand that even when the Lost Boys were able to escape their helpless situation in Africa, they were then shipped off to a new country where everything (ice, glass windows, mattresses, tampons, etc) was completely foreign and they were expected to find work and go to school and send money to those they left behind in Africa. It's not everyday you are able to read an amazing story of struggle and survival while learning about the significant historical events that have led to a country's current state.
Read the book, or at least visit www.valentinoachakdeng.com to read more about Achak and his village in Sudan, Marial Bai, and to learn more about the struggles that continue in southern Sudan.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
That's right, friends...I am moving up in the Corporate world! For the first time in my career, I will be moving into an office! I'll have a door and cabinets and multiple options for where I put my computer and the gem of all office gems: a dry-erase WALL. Oh yeah, I said it. Not just a little white board to put a few to-do's, I get an entire wall to satisfy all my dry erase marker-sniffing desires. I've already thought about standing in various poses in front of it and having people draw my outline (although I might freak-out when I see what an outline of my thigh/ass area looks like). Or maybe I could make a gigantic crossword puzzle and when people visit my office they can fill-in a word. Oh the possibilities! I'm also very excited about having a door. Now, instead of crawling under my desk feigning a tummy ache in order to nap, I will simply close my door leading everyone to believe I am in a super-confidential, super-important meeting when instead I will, in fact, be sleeping soundly in my spacious new digs.
The only downfall is still no window. But who needs sunlight and blue skies anyway? I hear that's totally overrated. I was going to write an entire section on how I wish I could work in the Department of Mysteries so I could conjure me up a window and choose what weather I wanted to see out of it each day, but I would hate for you to think I was into all that boy wizard crap. Who reads that anyway?
So yeah, you're now friends with an office occupant so you better watch out...I'm pretty sure that means I am better than all you cubicle-dwellers. Sorry but it's true.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
the shot-ski in action
"yar! we're the loudest boys that ever walked the earth and will keep you awake for hours and make you sleep in cars! party on!"
once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader. go generals!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
i must say, i am really, really sad to see 2006 go. i don't know why but as the end of the year came to a screaming halt sunday night i wanted to fight with all my might to keep it going and not start the new year. i have no desire for a clean slate or a fresh start or resolutions or new beginnings. blech. i like the way my 2006 was going, thank you very much. i don't know what my problem is but the idea of starting yet another year has made me really tired this time around. what i really want is for time to stop going by so quickly. i remember the first time i wanted to dig my heels in to slow things down (think fred flintstone bringing his car to a halt) was on my 21st birthday. is that sad? i remember thinking "okay, no reason to get any older...i have reached all the age milestones i want to reach". i don't feel the same way anymore. i don't mind the getting older part, it's more the responsibilities that come with getting older. i'm not sure how this post morphed into a complaint about aging so i'll stop now. just know that no, i will not be making any resolutions. are you kidding? i can't even stick to the week-long teeth whitening strip regimen. however, and note the following are not resolutions, i will continue to count my blessings, try to find joy in the little things (like ice cream and my spankin' new running cd and the excitement i feel when i discover a little gasoline dripped on my finger when i re-fueled), talk about painting my kitchen, read, read, read, love my husband as best i can, love my family as best i can and love my friends as best as i can. i will continue to consider any given day a success if 1) i accomplished something that day, and 2) i found enjoyment in something that day.
now, on to the good stuff. the annual new year's festivities continued this year in a brand new, undiscovered hot spot of the south called pigeon forge, tennessee. ever heard of it? okay, not so undiscovered as we were joined by about 37 million of our closest redneck buddies, but we sure did have a grand 'ole time at a beautiful cabin we rented nearby. chock full of beds, wood, blankets, wood, pool table, wood, hot tub, wood, air hockey, big screen tv, playstations and wood, it was a twenty-something's paradise. the shot-ski made an appearance on several occasions but unfortunately returned home severely injured and will need to be repaired before next year. after too many vodka tonics on night #1 of 4, i decided to first play knuckle air hockey and then later elbow air hockey, both leaving me bleeding, scabbed and bruised for the remainder of the trip. and, of course, it wouldn't be new year's if we didn't have a picture of someones balls. i am proud to say that for the last two years i have made it through the drink-fest without throwing up which is a big accomplishment for me after the pink-meat disaster of New Years '04 in atlanta and then puking in the grass out back and having the neighbors suggest someone take me to the hospital at New Years '05 in st.simon's. ah, the memories. i promise to post some pics from the trip soon but as i refused to take any pictures this year after being physically attacked for my picture-taking at a certain group event this year (i just can't work like that!), i have to rely on my friends to send the pics before i can post them. i ended up taking one pic from the car on the way to the cabin as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in smoky mountain national park. enjoy and may you all have a prosperous new year.