A Note From Me to The Guardian Readers

Praise Be! The road is drivable.

Um. Pardon me. For reasons I don’t really understand, I read The Guardian especially when y’all are having freakish weather. This is strange because I live across the pond in West Virginia. I’ve only been to the U.K. once and while I fell wildly in love with London, I don’t have any ties to your fair isles.

However, to-wit, and tut tut, I’m fascinated watching y’all carrying on in and carrying on about the snow. This episode has been extra fun because we too are having an early taste of winter. I’m sitting here gazing out the door looking at our first “significant” snow fall of the season – about 3″ maybe 4″ of the fluffy stuff (8-10 cm). It’s about 22 F (-5 or so C) which is cold, but not freakish.

I haven't even gotten fall's leaves raked yet.

Around here, that’s enough snow to have the school kids hoping school will be cancelled for tomorrow. Actually an inch is enough to have them hoping.

In these parts, we do what I call the “Appalachian Snow Panic” – dubbed such because “here” is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s an odd little tradition, but at the forecast of anything more than a dusting, folks gather up the kids, grampa and Great Aunt Gertrude to go to the grocery store. It’s kind of required. They usually wait until the snow is actually falling to do the mad scramble for provisions. This adds not only drama, but the likelihood that snow crazed folks will play bumper cars on the roads.

Anyway. By 6:00 last night there wasn’t a gallon of milk or loaf of bread to be found. Even people with glutin and lactose intolerances join in the snow frenzy of procuring bread and milk. It’s evidently a beloved tradition that we will engage in time and time again between now and March.

Cold and sunny. Snow squalls expected later.

My question, yes I do have one, is, ahem, exactly how much snow did London get? I really can’t make heads or tails of it.

And, for the record, tell those folks whining about how Switzerland and other Nordic climes fare so much better to quiet down and take their hypocritical selves out to a pub or something. Snow removal, melting salt, and “grit” cost a heap of money. Y’all just need to munch on some toast, turn the milk into brandy-laced hot chocolate and cruise online newspapers in some other country. It’s a big bunch of fun.

Toodles, Connie

P.S.  Can anyone explain to my Inner Anglophile how it is that I’ve believed, until last year’s Trafalgar Square snowball fight, that London routinely got buried in snow?

My hair’s on fire.

I'm rootin' tootin' mad.
I’m rootin’ tootin’ mad.

OK, mouseketeers, I’m cranky and trying to shake it off.

I am all for eccentricity, personal quirks, individual phobias and neuroses. I’m accommodating of these things in both myself and people I interact with up to the point where such are not good for me.

When they’re my own, I work to change myself – sometimes unsuccessfully. But I try. And I don’t expect others to put up with my nonsense.

When it’s other people, I develop power and control issues which surprise me.

It’s all the rage in business seminars to adminster mini Meyer Briggs personality tests. I don’t believe I’ve ever taken the full Meyer Briggs, but I’ve taken multiple short form tests.

A combination that doesn't exist in nature.

That would be me - a combination that doesn't exist in nature.

I’m a combination that doesn’t exist in nature. Test administrators always try to tell me that I’ve done something wrong – fudged my answers. In one test, where personalities are color coded, I’m equally green and blue – which translates as analytical/emotional. In another test where participants are labeled as creatures, I’m a chameleon meaning I’m still analytical/emotional, but I possess the tendency to always see both sides of a situation. (Those who know me well will tell you this is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness – it explains my inability to make a decision. It also explains why some of my co-workers thing I’m two-faced.)

In tests designed to reveal which side of your brain is dominant, I always come out as using both sides equally. I’m told, yada yada, that only 10% of the population thinks like this.

All of this conspires to make me a nontraditional worker. Things that motivate most folks, don’t work for me at all. Things that irritate most folks don’t bother me. The flip side is that I get my panties knotted and shredded over stuff that most folks regard as downright ridiculous.

There’s nothing worse than getting all enraged knowing that 90% of the world cannot even begin to understand why. And so, I suppress the anger as much as possible and just try to get on with things.

Michael L. Smith's incomparable Mad Bluebird Photo

Michael L. Smith's fabulous and incomparable Mad Bluebird photo

At this moment, I’d like to go all Dexter.

I’m trying to shake it off.

Years ago, my father told me that his overriding management technique was to treat people as if they were going to do the best job possible with the best possible outcome. I suppose this is the management version of The Secret. He went on to say that if you treat people like they’re incompetent, they will be. If you treat them as if they’re dishonest, they will be. If you treat them as if they don’t have a strong work ethic, they won’t. If you deny them the right to self-direction, they’ll foment rebellion.

I adopted Daddy’s modus operandi years ago. It has served me well

I’ve found these things to be true. I believe that most people want to do a good job. I believe that most people want to love their work. I believe that most people want to behave ethically and with good principles. I believe that most people know how to best complete a task based on their own personality type. – the corollary to that is that I believe that the people who actually do the task know best how to do it. And if they don’t, it’s a result of bad management in the past.

But by the elastic in Great Aunt Gertrude’s girdle, I get wound up, infuriated, and my hair bursts into flame when I’m treated as if I don’t know what I’m doing when nothing in my work history supports such a conclusion. This becomes apocalyptical if the treatment is such that it is witnessed by co-workers or consumers. Apparently, one of my peccadilloes is the right to be right. (I’m working on it. Really, I have no idea why it bugs me so much to be “corrected” when it’s my opinion that nothing is in need of correction. I’m quick to admit when I don’t know. And I’m quick to ask for help when I don’t know. I was always that kid in class that asked questions. I don’t have that “fear of looking stupid” gene. And in terms of customer service, I practically coined the “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” response.)

Maybe some chammomile tea will return me to my reasonably cheerful eccentric self.

Maybe some chammomile tea will help return me to my cheerful eccentric self.

The only other thing that rips off my safety-sealed-for-your-protection lid is being treated as if I’m dishonest.

We all have power and control issues, but in keeping with my unusual brain, mine are eccentric. If I’ve been given authority for something, I don’t like having my decisions questioned with a view to changing them. As such, I have an on/off switch. Rather than protest my innocence, explain my rationale, or ask why I’m being interrogated when there is no problem, I’m apt to wash my hands of the whole mess. You don’t like what I did or how I’m going about it? Fine. Do it yourself.

This is not an adult response. I’ve been working on it for years. I’ve got to figure out an appropriately assertive, but nonthreatening way to get across the idea that just because I’m not doing something the way you would do it doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong.

So? What makes you go all purple prose postal?

The Art of Doing Nothing

Nope.  Not gonna do it.

Nope. Not gonna do it.

Just as our bodies need downtime in the form of sleep, our bodies need downtime during our waking hours.

I’ve had a drought of downtime both asleep and awake.

Today, when the alarm went off, I silenced it, rolled over and went back to sleep. I clocked something like 10 hours. It wasn’t enough to eradicate my sleep deficit, but it was enough to provoke a feeling of well-being.

Yesterday, I did just enough housecleaning that I didn’t curl into fetal position when I went downstairs this morning. [It’s still a mystery to me how the house can become a Super Fund site when I’m never here.]

I plopped my ass on the sofa. After a few minutes, I arranged myself in a supine position. A few minutes later, I pulled the blanket over me. The dogs and I reacquainted ourselves there on the sofa.

I announced, firmly, “I have things to do.”

I got up, poured another cup of coffee, and stared out the window at the kitchen garden – looking at the mess I never had time to get to.

I forced myself to take clothes out the dryer, put the clothes in the washer into the dryer, and put the last load of laundry into the washer.  Drudgery, pure drudgery.  The inner adult had wrestled the inner child into submission, but neither were happy.

I poured another cup of coffee and stared out the window some more.

I announced, firmly, “I have got to motivate.”

Deciding that perhaps some sunlight on my pineal gland would help, I toddled out to the garden and plopped my ass in a lawn chair. From that seated position, I willed the calla lilies to bloom. I noticed that the morning glory had wrapped itself around the gate making ingress and egress impossible.

I contemplated getting up and whipping the morning glory into submission.

Stating clearly and audibly, I said, “Fuck It.”

Without getting too technical, the FuckIts are that state wherein no matter how hard your inner grownup spanks the inner child, nothing on the to-do list is going to get done without a change of strategy.


Facing this knowledge, the person with the FuckIts will develop a great sense of peace and sometimes giddiness. I am not going to do a damn thing and you can’t make me. It’s not rebellion, obstinacy, defeat or disobedience.

It’s very nice. It’s a lot like when you have a killer headache and you notice, suddenly and with pleasure, it’s gone.  The to-do list evaporates.

In my Geek Girl persona, I equate it with rebooting the computer. When you’re holding too many tasks in memory, sometimes you just have to reboot. (You Mac people can just shut up now.)

I trundled back into the house and heated up leftover tuna casserole. I settled in with a book – a bite of casserole, turn the page. Bite, turn.

Self permission to do nothing is energizing.

mmmmmm book and a nap

mmmmmm book and a nap

I’ve wandered about the house with the book. With no hurry, no agenda, no sense of looming responsibilities fixin’ to fall on my head and destroy me, I’ve managed to do even more cleaning between chapters. Paid some bills. Found and removed the source of the gnat problem in the kitchen. Readied my clothes for the following week. Put the jewelry back into some order. Cleaned off the desk.

I’ve actually done more than was on the to-do list to begin with.

People who are into meditation talk about this phenomena all the time. Quieting the chatter of your mind, either through counting breaths, repeating a mantra, or giving yourself permission to do nothing allows you to accomplish so much more. The essence is simply doing, or not doing, without thought of the past or the future. Without haste.

I had a fledgling meditation/yoga practice going that I abandoned when the to-do list got daunting. Big mistake. I haven’t been on the exercise bike (white noise and muscle toning all at the same time) in weeks. Another big mistake. I haven’t been reading well-crafted novels or listening to the music that makes my heart soar.

No wonder I’m a cranky bitch.

Doing nothing is both a luxury and a necessity.

I’m going back to my book now. I’m kinda thinking that napping in the guest bed in the afternoon sunlight after reading some of the book would be nice. If I do that, I’ll probably put clean sheets on the bed and vacuum – after watching the dust dance in the air for awhile.