On being uptight

If you are the sort of person who prides yourself on not being uptight then it’s a shock to realize the ways you’ve totally got a stick up your butt and in fact, are completely insane. For me it was just a few years ago when I realized that certain unreasonable things drove me up the wall.

Pre-expedition dawdling

One was planning to go somewhere on a big trip like to the beach or out shopping or to an event with other people and them not being ready, dawdling, not having gas in the car, suddenly deciding it was a great time to clip their toenails, etc. That makes me insane! Be ready! Lay everything out beforehand! I am like a general of an army for a week beforehand thinking of all the small things that must be accomplished to lay the ground for an expedition to the beach. 10am the morning of the beach trip is not the time to check your oil, buy sun screen, stop to pick up a sandwich, etc etc OMG! There should be no fuss! No! Fussing! Now, I try to endure with patience and be adaptable if there is an oversight but if I can see that dawdling and faffing is the order of the day, I have to re-imagine everything properly in my head in order to stay sane. (“Sane”.)

Expedition mealtime “surprise”

Another one is eating food in museums and amusement parks. If you are only going to be in a museum for like 2 hours why are you spending 45 minutes of that in a claustrophobic loud horrible plastic generic cafetorium eating a 12 dollar wilty lettuced sandwich? Fuck me! Eat beforehand! You know you have to eat, plan for it! Eat some crackers from your backpack, drink from the water fountain, and suck it up till you get home. It is not so much about the money or being thrifty. It’s that it’s a totally crappy atmosphere. I have geared up my finest receptor and sensory and analysis modules to have an Experience, my input dials are maxed out, and now I’m in a Denny’s. Aaaaaaaa!

The Balance of the Universe, in my mouth

Another — you see what I mean, I find as I get older there are either more and more of these uptightnesses, or I’m more self-aware — is about the way of eating food. This one is probably very common on iamneurotic.com. I sort of mentally portion out my food so it is balanced all around and I like it to come out even. Yes! Neurotic! The other day, Rook brought a sandwich at work, with the extra pickle I asked for (yay) and … It’s so hard to explain. It was a lovely sandwich that I had increased the pleasure of by having looked forward to it all morning. As if from my little officey world of withered grey cubicles I had pinned all my shining hopes on this delicious Sandwich With Pickle. The pickle was in 2 halves. Of course, half the pickle for one half of the sandwich and the other half for the other. RIGHT??? Well just as I came to the end of the first half Rook casually picked up the pickle and went to take a giant 6-foot-tall-guy-bite out of it. I squawked like a motherfucking cockatoo. Hello, this is a man who can put his entire fist into his mouth. PUT DOWN THAT PICKLE.

The next second I fell over myself trying to assess whether it was his lovely expectation that that was his pickle and plus trying to suppress any selfishness and at least allot him half if not handing over the whole thing. (While still internally shrieking OMG if you wanted one, why didn’t you get your own!) And re-imagining my sandwich trying to still see it as glorious rather than a sad tarnished wistful wrong-ish half-sandwich-without-its-rightful-flavor.

As I thought over my own uptightness and yet, adaptability and willingness to hand over MY HALF OF MY FOOD, I realized the key to my being able to adapt like a normal human being is in imagining-out. If I can pause for a moment and imagine out the alternate future to the one I had already prepared myself for, then I’m all good and right with the world again and can be a gracious person. If not, then I’m stuck in being a surly petty bitch. So for example on going to the beach if I see that things aren’t happening as I wished then I make a new plan to go outside and mess around in the garden (the key thing here is avoiding the deadly feeling of waiting for other people.)

I told my sister Minnie the pickle story to make her laugh because she’s exactly the same way. If she had olives, she would have an unconscious awareness of portioning out the olive to sandwich consumption ratio and I would never presume to perturb that balance in mid sandwich. Am I right??? This is possibly part of our crucial sister telepathy (which has decreased as we get older but is still there.) Doubly so, perhaps, for bacon and pancakes. There is a special circle of hell for bacon-stealers.

These things are the minor things; the actual ways I’m actually uptight I can’t tell you because I’m too freaked out by them to talk about them, like phobias. Before any talking about it happens, denial hits and I veer off onto some other subject for the sake of self-preservation.

The thing about this way of thinking is that normally it works very well. I keenly enjoy the pleasures of the imaginary becoming real and I have a great time and am full of enthusiasms, major and minor.

6 Responses to “On being uptight”

  1. jennyalice

    I am sort of thinking of ordering bacon tomorrow and sitting next to you…just to remind you of how close to being a bacon stealer you really are 😉
    Between you and Squid, and the floor (where I invariably drop some of the magic cured meat) I actually portion out my bacon by thinking I only get one of four pieces…
    By the way I kept reading to find the unreasonable things. I happen to be pushed over the edge by nearly all of these same things,except eating in amusement parks because our family has an addiction to poorly crafted greasy fried vegetables.

  2. Appalachia

    Hah! I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog (I rarely do on any blog), but I have to cop to this one because you’ve described it to a T. This is me exactly: It’s why I’m so much worse when I’m tired: I don’t have the mental energy for all that re-imagining. I often say in arguments (the relationship kind which I don’t consider arguments but the other person remembers as terrible fights), “but I thought we were going to …” or “it was supposed to …” as I struggle in the moment to sort out my vision of how things are going to be. But if I consciously change my expectations, or choose not to let myself set any, then I’m remarkably adaptable.

  3. minnie

    yep. this is me too. I just want to be able to control and ENJOY the little things. like this huge chunk of chocolate covered toffee. i want to drink my glass of milk, eat this toffee in bed while reading my book. i do not want to share a piece or a bite and i don not want any comments on how drinking this huge glass of milk will amke me get up to pee 47 times tonight. kthxbai.

  4. fridawrites

    I am not a fan of pre-expedition dawdling either. I’m actually kind of military in this way–go, go, go! Get the backpack, get your sunglasses, is there sunscreen? if a last minute trip. If a planned outing, yes, done the night before to maximize time. With four kids, my sister’s family can rarely get out before noon, which makes me hyperventilate because I want more time out in the mountains.
    Bacon stealers, well, that’s unthinkable. Just not right. Unless I am doing the stealing, which I would strongly think about but wouldn’t.
    I also have my pickles and olives obsession. The lunch is right–don’t touch!

  5. Adina

    Oy. I am satan in this cosmology. Food is for sharing. If there is a nontrivial amount of food, it is assumed to be for everyone. Rest days are for resting, and rushing to leave for an otherwise leisured expedition is overkill.
    Humans are different. So odd that neurons connect in such different ways.

  6. tnkgrl

    Yeah, I’m with Adina on this one – I’ll share my food if you ask, but I’m not rushing on my day off even if we’re trying to go somewhere.
    For things that don’t matter to me too much, I avoid having expectations in the first place, thus avoid being disappointed…
    People are mostly unreliable, so I plan for it 🙂
    For things that really matter to me, I just take matters in my own hands – if I want things done a certain way I just do it myself!
    Of course the drawback with this approach is that it doesn’t build trust between people.

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