Friday, January 26, 2007

My Free Spirit Screaming From Within The Cage - How's That For Drama?!

I hope that you are not all avoiding my last post because of the title. Perhaps you do not know that song, but that is what it is about, music, and not about something that broke my heart. It's a good post. You should read it. And you should comment. Just kidding. More than likely, people are just used to me only posting once or twice a week. Too bad, those people, you are missing out. But you will just have to catch up later because this post means the hospitality post will not be on the screen anymore. I did find a trick though. If you click on the title of a post, all the other posts vanish and the links are right under the bottom of the one at hand. That will save you from having to scroll all the way down to the bottom to link to other blogs and websites. Also, Whitney of Piklpaper told me she is going on maternity leave soon so order now if you need something in the next little while. I just updated the link because evidently there are now a few things no longer available and some new things too. She did an awesome job on my birth announcements.

Okay, sorry for the maintenance issues. Moving on. I have something to say. I am not a planner. For a while, oh seven years or so, I have been very stressed out. VERY stressed out. I keep wondering when I will be a grown up, when I will adjust to life after college, and just generally wondering what is wrong with me. I have figured it out. Nothing is wrong with me. I am just not a planner. Do you remember all the questions on the Meyers Briggs test that ask about if you feel lost without a plan or trapped with one? That question, with various wording and example scenarios, pops up a lot on there. Surely we've all taken the Meyers Briggs at least once. While tests like that are somewhat silly in that they try to compartmentalize people, they are telling in a broad sense. Generally speaking, you probably either are an introvert or an extrovert. There are varying degrees, and they recognize that because they plot you on the little graph. But neither thing, introvert or extrovert, no matter where you are on the graph, is better or worse. It's just how you are and that's a fine way to be. We can all agree on that. I am fairly certain that's how all of the different aspects are treated- intuitive or sensory, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. But in real life, there are some things that are just not okay. This bothers me. Why is it okay that on paper, having plans really stresses me out, but in life, that just means I am uptight. See, I never would have been called uptight in college. Dramatic, yes and very much so, but not uptight. I started papers at two o'clock in the morning the night before they were due. I would leave to go home, five hours away, at eleven o'clock at night. I would decide I just had to go to a concert in Atlanta and leave thirty minutes later or decide pizza would be awesome at four o'clock in the afternoon and convince everyone else of the same thing and off we'd go. And if I thought we were going to get pizza but everyone decided on chicken fingers, okay. If we were going walking at four but you called at ten til and said you couldn't go, okay.
But that is no longer acceptable. There are meal plans and dinner plans (one is an actual list of what you are serving for dinner for the next two weeks and one is a plan you have with another person or group of exactly what time dinner will be and what it will be and when it will be over) and vacation plans and financial planning and family planning and drive me crazy planning which is just sort of a catch all for all the planning people try to convince you you need to do to be a properly functioning person in society. But the planning itself is what is causing the malfunction. Does not having a plan make you feel like you're free falling and scared? Or does having a plan make you feel trapped and like the walls are closing in?

The walls are closing in! It's like the trash compactor scene from Star Wars (although, that is an analogy I use for anything stressful in my life lately).

There are people in my life that I refer to as time Nazis. These people are so hung up on what time we need to do something that they kill all joy in the doing. I am sure they mean well. They think that if we can leave at a certain time and then arrive at a certain time and stay for a certain amount of time and get home at a certain time, we will not miss any other time that we can use for something else. My dad is a time Nazi. I love my dad and even if he had any idea how to access my blog, I think he would be okay with me saying this about him. He has many positive things I could talk about. But mostly, I just want to talk about the time Nazi thing. Also, he thinks it is a good thing, no, a superior thing, to be a time Nazi. He's not the only one. I actually know worse ones than him, and they all think it is far better to be a time Nazi than a late and supposedly "inconsiderate" (which I am not) and definitely disorganized being such as me. But the point is that everyone would be screaming and yelling at each other to get in the car to go somewhere and then he would be screaming at traffic that slowed him down and cause extreme amounts of tension, and then, we'd get there ten minutes early! So maybe that is why I am so not willing to be pushed into a rigid schedule. Because no amount of punctual righteousness is worth hurt feelings. If you are late to my house for dinner and apologize, if I do anything but say how it's okay and you are welcome, I have become the rude one. Maybe you were rude to show up so late, but all you can do is say you're sorry. Plus, we're not talking about a wedding or a court appearance; it's dinner with friends! Clearly, I am usually the late person with the apology, not the hostess accepting the apology, and that perhaps, adds to my persuasion. On the other hand, I would have no idea if you were late to my house or not because dinner is never ready for the time I issue the invitation. I am not sure if people expect this, come to dinner at six= dinner will be on the table at six, or not, but just for next time you come over, come to dinner at six (in my mind)= come around 6:05 at the earliest, even one minute before six is actually quite rude because I won't have had the chance to throw the pile of laundry that lives on the couch onto the bed in George's and my room, and we will eat sometime before seven maybe, but probably no later than 7:30. Incidentally, I would say that the mind of hospitality can't be wrapped up in what time your guests just have to get there. If you are going to freak out that they weren't on time, you probably aren't really thinking of them in the first place. Plus, the freaking out has now sort of cast a shadow over the hospitable act of having them over.

This is more or less a talk back to all the people who try to run me around with their time frames and their schedules and make me a nervous wreck, and I don't think they read this blog so I guess it is just gossip. No, it's just sharing. I'm not telling you who runs me around, except my dad and he already knows that anyway, that's what a lot of the screaming and arguing was about. But the thing is, I get all the flack for being a nervous wreck. My identity has actually become that I am a nervous wreck. But isn't it really all of them who are the nervous wrecks? If they are the ones who have to have a plan and can't stand for me to be late, then they are the nervous ones. I am perfectly fine with whatever happens in the moment and even with being late. I just freak out because of all the looks and backhanded comments. Why do you care if I am late?

Some people will say it is because my being late is that I am inconsiderate or I expect the whole world to wait for me. But that is not true. I do not expect you to wait for me. I think it is weird that your time is so important to you that you can't wait until I can finish putting my kids to bed to start the bonfire (this happened recently, but I think it was just sort of an oversight more than anything) or get my baby nursed before eating (are you really that hungry?) but I am certainly not being inconsiderate; I actually tend to think you are being inconsiderate if anyone here is. And I know that the plane will leave or the worship service will start or the film will run whether I am there or not. Most television show reruns seem brand new to me at first if I catch the first five minutes because I never catch the first five minutes. And I had no idea for months that there were announcements at our church before the service began because I had never been there by nine. And I have never heard the announcements since. This does not bother me. And I do not expect our pastor to wait.

I do not know how it happens. I do not think I set my alarm later than everyone else. I am not hanging out playing solitaire when I should be getting ready. I don't think I am just so important that people will wait. I just end up being late somehow. I try because of all the people who I make so mad by being late, but I think it is counter productive. I think that the stress I feel from thinking "Oh no! I'm going to be late!" actually makes me all the later. I really do.

And why do we have to have a plan? Why can't you possibly come over tonight for dinner if I call at two in the afternoon and you don't have other plans? Really, tell me. I am not trying to be a jerk here. But I have been the jerk for so long because I function differently. I have been stressed and frazzled and not free to be me. I can see the humor in it of course. But I realize that if you are a time Nazi you probably can't. Or the time Nazis I know can't. They are too busy being mad at me because I was late last time we got together or because I haven't had them over because every time I think to invite them it is the day of or before because that is the earliest point that I know I can get to the grocery and get a meal ready that is presentable to guests but they don't want to come with that short of notice.

Maybe this is more for people who are like me but have learned to function with everyone else. If you are not like me, you probably have much criticism, and chances are, I've probably heard it. If you are like me in the late and not good with a plan thing, you might be able to help me not be late and be good with a plan. I think I would like to be. I would certainly like to not be the family everyone is annoyed with for coming in late to church (not sure if this is a problem, but people say stuff) or the girl who is constantly apologizing and stressed out over my messing up everyone else's schedule. I actually don't go to things sometimes because I will be late, not because I care, just because I don't want everyone to make a big deal out of me being late because it makes me feel like crap.

This is another of those things that maybe we can all be gracious to each other on. We are all so busy and planning helps ensure that we will work everything in for a lot of people. Planning ensures that Abby Edema will freak out though. And I don't know what to do about that. While I would like to be better with time and I know that having children who can feed, dress, and groom themselves will make me more punctual someday, I would also like this part of my personality to be okay. Is it really sin to be someone who runs behind and is not a planner? If it's not, then there you go. Maybe we can have much discussion on this. Maybe we will look at zero comments for several days and hear crickets chirp. Maybe I have made everyone who doesn't see how hysterically funny and ingeniously witty I am really ticked off. I haven't finished thinking through it myself. But I am kind of excited that I realized part of my problem anyway.


the good, the bad & the ugly said...

Before children I was typically on time to everything. Now, I need a 10 minute window. Most of my friends do too, so I don't get too much criticism. But I do have one friend in particular who is a "time Nazi". Whenever we plan to get together, which is often because she lives 2 miles away, we set a time and then I remind her every time..."you know I need the 10 minute window." She has learned to accept it, I will almost always be 10 minutes late! I figured out why...I only plan for travel time. For example, it takes exactly 20 minutes to drive to church. I would like to think we can walk out the door at 8:40 for the 9:00 service. I forget it takes 5 minutes to get on shoes, bundle up and turn out lights/lock doors. It also takes 2 or 3 minutes for everyone to get into the car and buckle up. Then at church it takes another 5 minutes to escort each child to his class. Even when we are not going to church, but just to a friends' or the park 10 minutes are lost from the time I say "Let's go!" until we pull out of the driveway. The sad thing is, I realize this time will go missing, and I just still opt to straighten the couch pillows and throw the last toy in the basket instead of leaving earlier!

Abby said...

Yeah! I think in general, I am just not time-minded. I completely see what you are saying, but it doesn't occur to me even when I try to think it through. We are always trying to think how much time we need to get somewhere, but we still underestimate. I just have a really POOR concept of time. My mother-in-law goes to a different church but invites us to lunch after church from time to time and will ask what time we can get there after church is over. I literally have NO idea. Are we finished with church by like elven forty five or is it closer to one? And if we visit afterward, does that put us back in the car still right around noon or closer to one thirty. We go to church every week and I still cannot guess what time we usually leave, even within an hour and a half! I just don't know how to make my brain work that way!

faithx5 said...

Really interesting post, Abby. I love the Meyers-Briggs test. (And any other personality-related test thingies.) It's fun for me to see why I react the way I do and learn to understand why other people react the way they do. I think the planning/non-planning thing falls on the Perceiver/Judger scale, doesn't it? I'm right on the line on that one, and I tend to be a planner when I'm with people who don't plan, and a non-planner when I'm with planners. So it works out.

But interestingly, when it comes to my own head, I plan all the time, but I don't ever let myself be bound by those plans in my head. Which is really weird to me. I guess I like there to BE a plan, but I don't want to have to stick to it if I don't want to. On the lateness question, I like to know what time something starts, and I like to be on time, but it's no big deal if I'm not, and therefore I'm usually late. (That's also because I like to try to cram too much stuff into a day, though, and by "stuff," I mean randomly surfing the internet and flipping TV channels.)

In response to this: And why do we have to have a plan? Why can't you possibly come over tonight for dinner if I call at two in the afternoon and you don't have other plans? Really, tell me. That's a vastly interesting question. Because it used to come up a lot when my one friend would call and want to do something that night, and I'd never have plans (other than watching TV or movies at home), but I still often internally resented the short notice and would sometimes even pretend that I DID have actual plans, just so I didn't have to cancel my fake-stay-at-home-by-myself plans. I have no idea why I did (and do!) that. At some level, though, I guess my planning sense is strong enough that I don't like other people to break even my personal plans...but I'm plenty happy breaking them myself when I want to. In other words, I'm a selfish prig.

As you say, neither mode is really better than the other. I think everyone should have to take personality tests and learn to understand and accept the differences in the way different people approach things. And in other news, wow, long comment. :)

Abby said...

Thanks Jandy. I appreciate someone who sees both sides of the coin. And I think it would be great if we could all both sides, maybe by taking the personality tests like you said, but in a group environment or something so we see who those "other" people are! I really do want to understand the time thing, but it just seems like it is SO important to the time people, that they get SO angry with me even having to ask, that I never get very far except that I usually end up getting angry too because of all the things they accuse me of. This seems to be what happens even if it is all in theory and I haven't actually been late. The very idea of someone being late makes them mad. And the planning thing, I haven't ever challenged that, I usually just make the plan and then proceed to have anxiety about it until the moment the plan is executed. I am only just now figuring out what all of that anxiety has been about.

Katherine said...

hey abby!
i am a planner. i have lots of lists. but i have to say, i'm sociable enough to always prefer to not cook at the last minute, unless i have meat set out already, & hang out with friends. i have actually tried to plan my weeks where i have time to be spontaneous. because my husband is NOT a planner. my sister-in-law, whom i spend lots of time with, NOT a planner. and i don't really understand people who get offended if people are late, because isn't it always the same people? after the 1st few times, don't you automatically add 15 minutes to their estimated time? or 30 minutes? or give them a time to allow for their lateness? i think there's a general rule with most of my friends in charlotte of a 15-30 minute late range. i think i have very few friends here who show up on time.
which leads me also to the fact that i used to always be late. and while i only have 1 kid now, i have become amazingly on time with having lucas. it's really funny to me, because i didn't know how to be on time for anything before; i didn't think it was possible for me. but now i think i start so early with getting ready to leave the house, and really let go of the bizillion things i could otherwise be doing, that i end up on time. i'm sure this will all change in june with kid #2, but i have enjoyed the last 9 months or so of being on time and not being rushed! :)

abby said...

katherine, it is always the same people! I think that's what makes the other people so mad!! i think kids has made me gradually later. i was always late. elizabeth and sara, my oldest friends on here, will tellyou I was late as long as they've known me. but that's what sara did. she lived down the street from me and got her license before I did so she drove me EVERYWHERE for a year. she just started telling me she'd be there 15 earlier than she really planned to be there, so my 15 late turned out to be right on time- not sure if it worked... anyway, late is such a weird thing. if being late is never acceptable, then you are talking about a 1 minute margin between being on time and okay and being late and messed up. of course, for me, I am usually more or less ten to fifteen minutes late. although with a newborn, give me a good generous thirty minutes until i can get her on a predictable schedule!

lauren said...

hey abby. i'm late on this one (does this make me a late person???)...just now catching up on the new posts. :)

i used to be a super late/non planning person. i am now a semi on-time, planner w/room for spontaneity. how's that for walking the fence?

for some reason my brain did not get being on time for a long time. i think i just couldn't focus enough to get myself prepared for being somewhere. and honestly, i don't know what has pushed me towards being on time. and when i say "on time", that varies. if i am meeting a friend for a playdate, there's an automatic 15 minute grace period like "good" said above and a 30 minute "get out of jail free" card for all moms. that's the, "hey one child put his shoes in the toilet, i had to spank the other...i'll be there when i can." but for doctor's appointments, school, and stuff like that, i try to be on time. if those events are in the morning, i can't be on time unless i have EVERY single thing laid out the night before. (even socks, pacifiers, juices, brushes)

i think marrying a super planner/on time man is part of it. but another part was probably not wanting to always be "the late family" or fear of being rude to the hostess who has prepared for us. i don't think any of my friends would freak out and be angry if we were late for a meal, but i know on my very limited budget, if i spend $ work hard on a meal for a friend and they are always an hour late and the food is cold, i'll be a little hurt. then i'd give grace and heat the meal up and make them feel welcome & forgive and forget.

my newish love for planning comes from realizing that if i want to do certain things in life with kids, i have to plan ahead. if i want dinner on the table and have them in bed by 7 so i can enjoy some wine with my husband, then i've gotta have a plan. if i want to bake something with ellie before liam gets up, if i want to earn $ with my business so we can move closer to church, etc., etc. i guess i'm motivated by things i want now that i think about it! but i don't think that everyone "should" be a planner. if it works for your family and you are satisfied with being a spontaneous person, then God can use that to shake up the planners a bit. that's what brian says i do for him. (trust me, if you line us up, we look like dharma and greg! :) )

but i agree, i love friends who shake things up and come up with last minute plans. in my experience, this works best with friends who live close. we have friends that live a couple of miles away and our families do the last minute Bruester's run, park meetups, Moe's dinners, etc. it's some of our best times an memories with them! and sure, sometimes they turn us down and vise versa. but i think you have a great point that we should be willing to do this more often, but i think families are so scheduled these days, which could lead you to another blog post...

abby said...

lauren, i really appreciate all of what you said. i remember my mom putting our things out the night before too. i have learned to make sure pants, dresses, etc are ironed the night before, but it is the other little stuff that gets ya isn't it. another pretty obvious thing for me may be that i am just plain out of practice. having to be somewhere for me is the exception, not the rule (meaning we have way more unplanned hours than planned hours- as in, we have days in a row with NOTHING planned) maybe if i had somewhere to be every day, i would figure out how to be more on time. as it is, and i think this is true of a lot of people with young children, Sunday morning is the earliest I have to be anywhere and therefore the hardest place to get on time. we have ballet at 11:00 and are still almost always late. we don't sleep until 9 those days, we just somehow end up late- even with four hours to pull ourselves together. but if we had to be somewhere every day, it would probably get easier. you are right about incentives too- although you'd think $40 a month for ballet would be an incentive. and even i would say an hour is atrociously late. time nazis though, they are mad when you are ten or fifteen minutes late!

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