Planning for the Abyss

Yesterday’s haiku left a lot to be desired in the humor department.  That’s just how Microsoft makes me feel sometimes.  I had one big project that I needed to finish, and my computer decided that it wouldn’t open the Excel file that was necessary for that one project.  It made me grumpy.

Today is new and bright, however.  I even wore obnoxiously perky colors to guarantee a cheery outlook.  Bill Gates will be forced to bow to the perkiness.

Anyway, work frustration brings me to the lovely topic of work.  Work and goals.  Goals and life.

I haven’t had any real goals for the past year and a half, despite the fact that I’ve been a planner my entire life.  Having plans has always made me feel good, even if things didn’t turn out as intended.  For laughs, here are some of my past life plans:

Ages 3-5–Hug my favorite stuffed animal so much that he turns into an amorphous lump of stuffing and grey fuzz

Ages 6-14–Become a famous singer or Anne of Green Gables

Ages 15-17–Get into college and worry about the rest of life later

Ages 18-22–Become an editor, or maybe a lobbyist for free trade, or an art museum curator, or professional gypsy, or lobbyist for free trade, or banker, or travel writer, or lobbyist for free trade

Ages 23-24–Get a graduate degree so that having a job won’t involve burning my hands several times a day on coffee equipment

Ages 25-26–Oh, crap.  I don’t have any career goals anymore.

The important things in those plans did happen.  My stuffed animal definitely turned into an amorphous lump, I went to college, finished grad school, and my job no longer involves piping hot coffee equipment.  So when I arrived at the 25 and career goal-less stage, I thought I could use a few years to live without pressing goals.  I thought the lack of giant looming life changes would turn me into a super chill, go-with-the-flow type of girl.  Only that’s not who I am.  I’m still a planner.

It’s not about doing as planned.  It’s about looking into the yawning abyss of the future and convincing yourself that you’re armed to face the next step.  Instead of arming myself for the abyss, I spent the last year and a half buying a house, painting it lots of different colors, and learning how to mow the lawn and cook.  I also worked full-time and tried not to attack any Microsoft products.  It’s been a good year and a half.  But I miss my plans.

I don’t want to be floating around in goal-less land forever, so I’m working on that now.  I’m thinking and mulling and trying to come up with something more logical than “become a famous singer or Anne of Green Gables.”  Hopefully my mind has advanced since I was six years old.  When I do make a plan, I’ll be sure to announce it so that you can chuckle to yourself when I do something completely different six months later.

Untitled (#685)

Okay, I’ve been thinking about what I wrote yesterday and have come to a few conclusions.  The most important thing is that I am decidedly happy to be staying in the same place for an unknown period of time.  I have to get used to that concept, but I like it here, and staying put for a few years doesn’t mean I have to stay for the rest of my life.  It’s not like vines will grow up from my yard and trap me.  (Have you ever seen the movie The Ruins?  A bunch of college students visit an archeological site in Mexico and vines start growing into their bodies.  Things go downhill quickly.  Yuck.  I didn’t want to water my plants for a few days after that.)

I’ve also decided that I spent way too much of the last quarter century mapping out every detail of my life.  Yet, miraculously, I managed to totally avoid thinking beyond age 25.  I guess I imagined that once you find a career, everything else sorts itself into neat little columns and rows.  My columns and rows look more like a Jackson Pollock painting than anything else, so I was somewhat off the mark with that.

[Click on the image above, then on the image at the destination, and it lets you create your own Jackson Pollock-esque painting.  It’s surprisingly fun.]

My new plan, now that there’s a gaping void in front of me, is to plan a whole lot less and approach a few parts of my life more purposefully (prayer is number one on the list, painting is number two… really similar, right?).  That’s it, the entire new life plan in fifteen words.

Units of Measurement

For some reason, I used to think that if I lived in one place long enough to finish a box of dryer sheets, I would have been there forever.  I mean, that would be truly settling down.

In case you need some perspective on what that means time-wise, I’m pretty sure I was using the 40-sheet boxes of dryer sheets at the time.  I couldn’t imagine being in one place for more than approximately 30 weeks.  Between moves back home, to new dorms, and to various summer destinations, things worked pretty well within that framework through college.  Life was mobile, and home was where I found a pillow.  I liked it that way.

Around that same time, my life plan was to be an international gypsy.  I would be a Hannah-like gypsy, of course.  Instead of being known as a pick-pocket, I would get whatever job I could in a town and stay for a while.  (Work papers?  Nah.  Those are totally mythical.  Language barriers?  Also mythical.)  Then I would pick up and try out the next place I felt like seeing.  It was the perfect plan until I bought a couch and a dog.  They were the beginning of the end.

I sat down yesterday in my annual review at work and realized that it was in fact the second review I’ve had at this job.  Not only have I started buying the larger boxes of dryer sheets, I’ve also come to a place where I have no idea what or when my next move will be.  I’ll let you know how I feel about that when I find out.  In the meantime, I need to come up with a unit of measurement that doesn’t involve laundry (or years… I can never keep track of them).