Sunday, May 06, 2007

Idle mind, devil's plaything. Isn't that how it goes?

I have never been in any sort of twelve-step program, but I'm well aware that the first step in addressing any potentially destructive (or just plain ridiculous) behavior is to admit you have a problem. When Maliavale wrote the other day about coming to terms with her teensy little anxiety issues, I laughed not because I thought her tendency towards mental gymnastics was insane but because I am possibly a little too familiar with the sorts of thought loops she described.

Case in point: remember this? How proud I was of myself for finally declaring a one-timezone house after years and years of a crazy bedroom clock game? I actually told that story on a date the other night. (Why? I can't recall. I'll readily admit that I share lots of questionable things on dates; are you really wondering at this point exactly why I am still single?) The date smiled politely and pretended to be amused, but I remembered how Malia relayed these sorts of exchanges and I beat him to the punch by saying, "Obviously I've put a lot of thought into this."

Still, I hold on to some clearly ridiculous idea that this sort of in-depth analysis of life's minutia is charming and endearing somehow. I am not a control freak. I don't overanalyze because I need things to be a certain way; I do it just because what else is my brain supposed to do with its down-time? Seriously, what do the rest of you think about when your brain's idle and unoccupied? I say there's nothing wrong with a little mental exercise, a bit of scenario-playing for preparation sake.

Every now and then, however, I'm reminded that mental gymnastics are not the norm; that not everyone over-processes the way Malia and I routinely do. Consider the scene at the Roseville SuperTarget the other night...


Cashier: Do you want paper or plastic?

Me (surveying the assortment of grocery items on the conveyor belt): Paper for the jars and boxes; for the rest, I don't care.

Cashier: [confused look as she glances from the bag choices on her left to the merchandise on her right]

Cashier (stops to decide whether my Lean Cuisines should go in the plastic bag hanging on the peg rack or in the paper one propped in front of that): So, basically, you want all the frozen stuff in plastic? Is that what you said?

Me: Um, no... [Brief pause as I try to decide just how much of my completely logical-to-me rationale to explain]... I want the stuff in boxes and jars in a paper bag... See, the boxes always poke through and rip the plastic bags, and cans will just roll around and spill out all over my trunk.

Cashier: ...

Me: But, you know... it's no big deal... I didn't mean to be all picky or demanding over grocery bags or something.


But the thing is, I did mean to be picky and demanding... because my logic makes perfect sense to me. Has this cashier never gone grocery shopping herself? Has she never had a pizza box pierce its way through a plastic bag, rendering the bag useless when carrying it into her home? Has she never had spaghetti sauce jars and yogurt cups roll out of a flimsy plastic bag and scatter themselves across her car's trunk? These are minor inconveniences, sure, but if they're inconveniences that can be avoided, is there anything wrong with thinking them through?

And by the way, for my friend Jamie (and any other environmentally minded souls out there), thinking that I wouldn't have this dilemma at all if I'd simply bring my own bags to the store, I'll say that I'm thinking about that, too. Buying or making my own grocery bags has been on my to-do [someday] list for over a year now, I think. Really, though, if the cashier at SuperTarget is thrown off so easily by an unconventional answer to the "paper or plastic" question, don't you think I'm doing her a favor by not adding more complexity to the mix? I mean, if she can't handle "Paper for the jars and boxes," might not her head explode if presented with foreign cloth bags bearing no UPC?

You don't have to say it. I'll say it for you. "Wow. You've really put a lot of thought into this."

There are some things, however, that I do not think through in detail. Like my carefree "I'm making no plans" outlook for this weekend. I do not particularly like being the plan-maker among my friends; I'd just as soon let someone else be the social engineer the bulk of the time. This weekend, I thought, "I could use some down-time. I won't propose any plans, but if plans find me, that'd be fine, I guess." I wasn't particularly anticipating this being a "test how popular I am based on whether my phone rings at all" sort of scenario, but I guess it's what it turned out to be, anyway. The result of this impromptu experiment was two Netflix evenings on my own, a near-futile solo clothes-shopping afternoon at the mall, and an aborted movie outing with The Magical Boy (the one plan I did have for the weekend, which he canceled via voicemail Saturday afternoon). On the plus side, I did actually mow my lawn for the first time this season (it was damn-near shin-height thanks to the recent day-after-day of rain), and I finally painted my interior hallway, the one portion of my home's main level that I had not yet painted in the three-plus years I've lived here.

The hallway-painting endeavor is yet another thing I maybe didn't think all the way through. Or rather, it's something I did think through, but found that all my thinking may have been in vain. I hadn't painted that hallway because, despite its being the smallest "room" on my main level, it has five doorways in it. Have you ever painted around doorways? It's a pain in the ass, I say. All that taping? All that cutting-in detail work? Not a task to be relished, in my book. But I wanted some color in that hallway, something to tie things together, I suppose. So I tried to pick a color that would coordinate nicely from all angles... that would go with the yellow in my bathroom, the sage green in my kitchen, the golden tan in my living room, the lilac in my bedroom, and the rust color in my office/library. I considered all of this, and I decided that navy blue (more specifically, "Blue Cosmos," according to the sample chip) would be a good choice.

And it is a good choice... in the daytime, anyway. As I finished the second coat this afternoon, I thought, "Good job, Stef. That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Now, however, the sun is down, and I'm gazing into my hallway and realizing it's rather unexpectedly dark and cave-like out there. I'm sort of expecting the Sleestaks to come in and take me away into the night. It will probably just take some getting used to, however, much like so much else in life. And since my over-thinking is routinely overshadowed by my tendency towards laziness, I won't be repainting it anytime soon. Perhaps I'll just have to use my hallway light more often... a light I turn on so infrequently that I've yet to change the light bulb since I moved in...

You don't have to say it. I'll say it for you, OK? "You've really put some thought into this, haven't you?"

Yes. Yes, I have. Do you have a problem with that? No? OK.

20 comments:

NancyPearlWannabe said...

That is totally why I bag my own groceries!

I get you on the whole bedroom clock thing. I've somehow tricked my brain into believing that it really is ten minutes later in my room than it is in the rest of the world. This will probably someday lead to trouble and I should follow your lead now, but I'll likely just continue what I'm doing until I end up an hour late to school.

lizgwiz said...

Sleestaks! I loved Land of the Lost. In college I knew a very petite girl whose real name (which I will not reveal here, in case she's all about the Google) was very similar to a character from Land of the Lost. So that became her nickname. Poor little Chaka Pakuni. ;)

Poppy Cede said...

Our store cashiers now say "do you have any special bagging requests?" I think that's so nice of them that I instantly answer "no" but then I realize: 1. we tend to bag our own groceries anyway; 2. we ALWAYS want our meat in a separate bag.

L Sass said...

As someone who grew up in a land where you bagged your own groceries (unless you were at the fancy grocery store, like Byerley's or Lund's), I still don't like for the grocery clerk to bag my groceries. It makes me feel like I have a servant. In a bad, guilty way. And, in an eensy-weensy control-freaky way.

stefanie said...

NPW--I am surprised how easily I made the transition to "real" time in the mornings. At bedtime, however, I'm still a little messed up. I had it in my head before that I needed to be in bed by 11:20 on my bedroom clock in order to get to bed by around 11:00 and attempt to be relatively well-rested the next day. Now that 11:20 is REALLY 11:20, I haven't quite made the shift to being in bed by 11:00. Hence, I am always, always tired. :-(

Liz--Did you know there was a remake of that show that aired in the early 90s?? I had no idea. Wikipedia also says there's a movie in the works. I guess you'll be seeing that?

Poppy--Meat in a separate bag is probably a good idea. Target Girl didn't even think of that, though. She put my chicken right beside my bananas. I chose not to say anything, as I was already being difficult and confusing (to her).

L Sass--When I first moved here, I was very thrown off by the bag-your-own trend. It wasn't that I was a princess who didn't want to do it myself; I was just stressed about getting everything packed up and out of there before the next person's stuff came down the line. Now that I've gotten the hang of it, though, I'm with you and I'd much rather bag my own. Except at Byerly's. They're so fancy and professional there that you just have to stand back and let them work their bagging magic. :-)

Anonymous said...

Did you ever stop to think that maybe some things are better acquired not at Target, but elsewhere? Somewhere you could have a proper argument concerning the selection criterion (yes, it necessarily does come down to one) of paper versus plastic. A place where the over-educated baggers appreciate a customer who knows what she wants in a bag.

(Of course you did think about it, but did you get the right answer?)

-R- said...

I don't think you are overthinking anything too much. It makes sense to me!

I suggested to H that we should bring our own bags to Super-T, but he got annoyed and called me Al Gore in a sarcastic way. It was very odd.

Metalia said...

Your bedroom clock logic makes total sense to me...you know, inasmuch as I do precisely the same thing. ;)

stefanie said...

Anonymous--Sorry; I don't follow... Shop somewhere OTHER than Target?? That's madness. (Kidding. Just kidding, of course.)

R--What? That H... I'm not sure what to do about him. In any case, I'm glad you see my logic. And glad that you care about the earth. :-)

Metalia--Well, they do say great minds think alike, right?

guinness girl said...

I think your paint color choices sound positively lovely. And that is all.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

Wait. You don't care if your things are packed in plastic bags? What kind of NPR listening, Democrat voting liberal are you?!

stefanie said...

GG--Thanks! :-)

Darren--OK, I actually DO have a valid reply to that. I have read a lot of info (from the tree huggers themselves--i.e., Sierra Club and the like) about which is really better/worse: paper or plastic. Apparently it actually consumes more resources and is worse for the environment to produce paper bags than plastic ones. I know; it makes no sense, but this is what I've read. The best solution, obviously, is to bring your own reusable bags to the store, but I've actually read that, barring that, plastic is, oddly, slightly less evil.

For me it's I hope less of an issue, because I reuse the paper ones to put out my recycling (we need to separate our recyclables here; I can't just throw everything in the bin), and the plastic ones I recycle by taking them to Goodwill (my local Goodwill doesn't print and use their own bags; they take donations of used bags, which for me means I know my old Target bags will get used at least one more time and I hope they'll be recycled again after that).

Does that redeem me at all as an NPR-listening, Democrat-voting, liberal?

Silvertongue said...

Just wanted to let you know (as someone who also has a lot of imaginary boyfriends, hee hee) that Paul Rudd is on Veronica Mars tonight, playing a washed up pop-rocker. He looked too adorable in last week's preview. :)

stefanie said...

Hey, thanks for the tip, Silvertonge. I don't watch Veronica Mars often enough to have any idea what's going on, but maybe I will tune in anyway just to see Josh (I mean, Paul).

Blitz Krieg said...

Our first house had a dining room painted a dark blue. It absorbed all light and eventually became known as the black hole as in, "I put the books on the table in the black hole." We never called it the dining room, even after re-painting and adding crown molding.

Simone said...

Ha...I just brought in the paper bags I got from Target the last trip. It has taken me months to actually remember they are just sitting there in my trunk. (There are other Target shoppers who bring their own bags...I actually asked the cashier if people do!) But my child ripped one and then I needed two more. It's a start. :)

Noelle said...

I'm going to the booksellers convention two weeks before my Minneapolis trip, so I'll make a note to pick up many tote bags for you and your shopping. That's what I use at the store, and there's nothing like wandering the aisles with a Capitan Underpants bag.

stefanie said...

BK--Ha. Yes, dark colors are a good idea in theory, but unless a room gets a lot of light, it can be a bad idea in reality. As for my blue hallway, it's growing on me. I think I'm glad I didn't go with a color that dark in my living room, though.

Simone--Yay! Good for you. I am proud of you for bringing your own bags (and I'm sure Al Gore is, too).

Noelle--Oh, a Captain Underpants shopping bag would be AWESOME! I'm sure all your fellow shoppers are jealous. (And possibly a bit confused.)

whiskeymarie said...

I'm glad you're thinking things out so thoroughly. You balance people like me out who put absolutely no thought into anything whatsoever.

And, I love that someone else is using lots o'color in their home.

Use any damn combination of bags you want. It's your right. I'm pretty sure it's in the constitution.

FUNKYBROWNCHICK said...

I thought it was: "Idle mind, devilish fantasies about Paul Walker." :)