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.
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.