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Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Pants are too Fancy


I am more than a little ashamed to admit that when I made the decision to leave my job a year and a half ago, one of my major reservations was that I was going to have to get dressed up to go to work. My office was remotely located from all of the other offices and we didn't deal with customers or clients, so the dress code was basically "Don't smell." The idea of having to a) purchase a business casual wardrobe and then b) actually wear it everyday was a definite con.

I am a person who has to be comfortable.

There is always incredible friction between my environment and my insides. If a light bulb goes out and the lighting dims, I feel anxious. If what I'm eating doesn't taste good, I feel anxious. If I don't like the music that's playing, I feel anxious. If my clothes aren't comfortable, I feel anxious.

Lately, my pants are just too fancy.

I don't want to wear fancy pants. I don't want to compete professionally. I don't want to live in my weird house where half of my belongings have disappeared. I don't want to parent my kids' trauma.

I want things to be comfortable. I want to be in boxer shorts and an oversized old man undershirt, drinking a pumpkin beer and watching the kids tool around the backyard in the Barbie jeep. I want to scribble in my journal and cook old recipes I know from heart and be able to close an office door.

I miss comfort.

Everything in my life feels like it's on fire right now and there's nothing left to do for it than let it burn out completely and then rebuild. It's frustrating and awkward and disturbing. Nothing looks familiar. Even people in my life seem like slightly altered versions of themselves, and while I know intellectually this is my stuff and not their stuff, I still feel like I'm always in the company of strangers. So it's time to let myself sink in, let my eyes adjust, and find a new normal.

My one constant is writing. Even in scanning back through these paragraphs I've just written, I feel something akin to comfort. I'm still in there. I can still parse through the stream of consciousness and make sense of the feelings, even if I can't make sense of the circumstances. So today's post isn't about anything in particular. It's just an exercise in answers, even if the questions are silly. Here's what you guys asked on social media yesterday:

1. What is your opinion of IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is shitty. (see what I did there?) I don't have IBS, so I can't really speak intelligently about the illness, but there is not a single member of my family that doesn't carry the quiet fear of finding themselves too far from a toilet in a moment of desperate need. The struggle is real.

I will say that I enjoyed the fact that after I was asked about irritable bowel syndrome on Twitter, I was immediately followed by a butt doctor.

a butt doctor follows me
Leading specialist in the fields of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD), Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Thank you, social media.

2. Why won't Gemma die?

Gemma won't die, because she is an integral character to a show that I mostly only watch, because of Charlie Hunnam's rear end. Also, being married to the creator helps.

3. Do you still feel like you're faking it professionally?

Meh. The impostor syndrome has abated some, but my frustration lies in the direction that I'm currently pointing. I could never be competitive in a strictly development field, because my experience is in and windows forms, and I just don't have the time to get my C#/MVC skills up to snuff. Even when I do manage to become proficient in C# and MVC architecture, I still won't be competitive, because my developer counterparts are able to sit down and code 20 other languages as well. It's just not an area where I will ever be competitive without more formal education, which I can't afford.

So right now, my job is strictly on UX/HTML5/CSS3 stuff, which is great, BUT I'm a shitty visual artist. You can hand me any wireframe or mockup and I'll bring it to life, make it responsive, and make it compliant, but coming up with a design from scratch is agony for me. Agony, because I'm positively overthinking it and obsessing over how much easier it seems to come to my counterparts that "can draw". So I feel handicapped by my lack of natural visual artistic abilities in that arena as well. I'm like a really good contractor in a field where you need to be an architect too.

I'm in a good job right now, because I'm able to liaison between the graphic designers and the developers, since I speak both their languages. But I'm not sure I'll ever be this lucky again.

My real comfort zone and area of expertise is in content creation and social media management. But I'm getting to do very little of that professionally right now. So to the original question, I no longer feel like I'm not worthy of my professional station, but I do feel like I'm better suited to a station I'm not currently in. If that makes any sense.

4. What are you learning about yourself?

This is a great question, and I could probably spend a whole blog post on it. I'll narrow it down to the two most important things I'm learning about myself. They may actually be less about myself and more just about life in general, but they are the things I'm noodling on the hardest right now.

The first is the realization that no one is going to sail this ship, but me. I have wasted so much time in my life waiting to be handed things or waiting for someone to swoop in and save me. And don't tell me those things don't happen, because I've watched those two things happen to other people. I've just started to accept that I'm not the kind of person that those will happen to. I don't have a hand to hold onto in this life, but, even if I did, the places I want to go aren't the kind that you get guided to by external forces. They're the kind of places that you drive yourself to from within. That was scary at first, but now it's kind of comforting.

The second realization is that I don't have to slow down for people who don't get me. I have been, historically, a highly shatterable person. It takes one slight, one rude remark, one dirty look, and you've broken me. And that is incredibly unfortunate, because I'm not a person that everybody gets along with. I will always be one of the "too much for some people" kind of gals. I say crazy things. I think about things in a crazy way. I will tell you if the emperor has no clothes. I can't abide an awkward silence, although I have been the root cause of many. I'm just a lot.

I'm learning that's ok.

It's those people's loss. They're missing out on a great listener, a fierce friend, and a lot of laughs. I mean...seriously. A lot of laughs.

5. Read any good books lately?

No. I've read a lot of shitty divorce books lately. I'm greatly looking forward to ANY novel that has NOTHING to do with heartbreak. So holler if you've got any.

6. What new methods are your children employing to drive you crazy?

The children are screaming. This is not a metaphor. They literally have decided that seeing who can scream the loudest is the funniest thing in the world, and there is no amount of punishment, bribery, or reason that will make them think otherwise. It's like I live on the downward slope of a rollercoaster. That is the level of girlish screaming that I am deafened by on a daily basis.

7. How in the hell do you juggle working full time, being a mom, a pet owner, a home owner, a writer, a gardener, a cook, and all the other things you manage to do on a daily basis? Are you a magician?!

I am not a magician; I am a comedian. And that is how I do it all. With a sense of humor. And you'll be amazed at what I can do, when I have no other choice.

Honestly, though, the best thing any person who wants to live in abundance and not in emotional scarcity can do for themselves is lower their expectations. I can do all those things, because I don't do expect to do any of them perfectly. I may have a day where I cook an amazing dinner, but the floor I was standing on while I was cooking it was covered in dog hair. I may have knocked a presentation out of the park at work that day, but the kids spent the night before parked in front of a television. I might have run a half marathon, but my marriage was in shambles. Like the meme gods say, you can't compare your behind the scenes to other people's highlight reel. We're all a friggin mess.

8. Can you help me with my golf swing?

I can help you find less frustrating things to do besides golf?

9. Worst movies you have seen.

I don't get to watch many movies anymore, what with the endless parade of Pixar characters hogging the screens in my house, but I did watch a movie on Netflix the other night that was essentially the Blair Witch Project if the witch was replaced by snow zombies that were controlled by the Russian government. It was pretty spectacularly awful. Here's a piece of Ann Trivia though: the only movie I've ever gotten up and walked out of a theater over was.... drumroll..............


10. Where is Peter?

Ah, Peter. I'm assuming this is a reference to a character in a story I started writing several years ago and not some other Peter that is lost that someone should find. Good news: the book is written and is in the last stage of editing. I'll have a clean manuscript to shop around next month. The only person in the whole world getting an advanced copy to read is MawMaw Bransom as a birthday gift. But she'll be sworn to secrecy, so you'll all just have to stay tuned.

I like this question and answer format, so if you've got any other prompts I'd love to hear them. Maybe I'll flesh one out into its own post. Until next time, here's hoping for more time in less fancy pants.

(pants photo by adifans)

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