Sunday, January 2, 2022
In six minutes I will have to stop writing, get off this treadmill, and go put the laundry in the dryer that I forgot I washed, and then put the other laundry in the washing machine that I forgot to do. Actually, in six minutes (five) I will have to stop writing and get off this treadmill, because my quiche crust is going to be baked and I’m going to have to get it out of the oven and move onto Quiche, Phase 2. Because I forgot to bake the quiche crust, too.
It’s that kind of day, I guess. I’ve been busy and distracted, productive but not entirely present. I decided my bedroom needed a top-to-bottom cleaning, so that happened. Ceiling fan, baseboards, and all. Then I decided the master bathroom needed the same thing. Which is WAY more fun because that always involves bleach and other death-defying feats.
Since I couldn’t get my sorry ass out of bed until 9 today, I did none of my morning routine, just went straight to breakfast, and since it’s Sunday, Ralph and I took a whole half hour to sit on the couch and watch a piece of a movie.
Yep, that kind of day. It’s not even worth going through everything that happened in between then and now, suffice it to say I had to check a lot of boxes and finish a lot of things so I could end the day on a perfect note.
Which ends ultimately with writing this, because no matter how many times I opened up my doc to try to write, something else happened. When the list is laundry work cook bleach fix organize clean prepare call exercise takeoutthegarbage, writing is sort of not the priority. Sadly.
Part of the challenge is that I have this brilliant habit journal that helps me stay on track with the things I want to accomplish, but then if I miss something, I get bent like a pretzel and fall into an abyss of “why bother.”
Which, ironically, is so perfect for the fact that today’s word is “perfect”.
And the reason I chose that word is exactly because of the fact that I woke up and my whole routine was shot, which made me all sorts of irritable with myself for being imperfect.
What I wanted to do: meditate.
What I did: slept late.
What I wanted to do: yoga:
What I did: not yoga.
What I wanted to do: get on the treadmill at my desk and write this, because so many things were going through my head that I wanted to get them down on paper.
What I did: bleached the toilet. Because sometimes you have to.
So I struggled with my brain for a little while wondering if I wanted to ponder perfect or imperfect. In the end, perfect won.
Things that went through my brain that I wish I had captured because now they’re just stories of what went on in my brain:
Why do I always pressure myself to be perfect? I mean, I know I’m horribly NOT, so what is the obsession with having to meditate or do yoga AT A TIME? And then getting mad at myself when it doesn’t happen?
So yeah, I’m imperfect, boohoo. Feel sorry for me, because of my fragile self-esteem blah blah.
But imperfect wasn’t the word I wanted to think about. Because the thing is, I love imperfection.
In everything but myself.
The other day, I was having a conversation about cocktail glasses with my brother, and I told him, “I hate matched sets of glasses.”
And he said, “I know.”
Because it’s OBVIOUS. I mean, who wants 12 of something? Who even wants TWO of something? I guess people do, or there would not be matched sets. I mean, I guess I actually know people who do want 12 of a thing.
I have memories (and photos to prove it) that every birthday and Christmas and Thanksgiving and Sunday sauce throughout my entire life until the day I got married and moved out of my parents’ house came with a table that had identical place settings for every single person. On any given day that meant ten of us. Ten people all with napkins folded in perfect triangles. Ten people all with white dinner plates with little pink flowers. The taper candles were lit in pairs and spaced in perfect intervals down the table.
It was beautiful. I loved it. I took a lot of pictures of it, with my Polaroid camera, and then my 35mm camera, and even later with my iPhone camera.
All of my dishes are a different color, and from different sets because mostly I break things and end up with mismatched pieces anyway. My silverware is a mashup of whatever is left from whatever I had from whoever bought it from me for whatever reason.
And I don’t fold napkins, they just go on the mismatched placements in whatever direction they land when I put them there.
So I’m not the best party planner, but really, I’m not a matched set kind of person. Nothing relieves me more than breaking the first glass in a set of four that I bought at Target because I needed glasses and had to buy them that way. There is a weird sense of “oh thank god, I don’t have to worry about preserving this perfect set anymore.”
There’s a lot of pressure in having matched sets. Not even kidding. Having to maintain this perfect thing is so exhausting. It’s why my grandmother saved dishes for “a special occasion” and then never used them, because, I mean, what if one BROKE?
Good god, I’m going on about dishes, yes.
The grander point here is that I’m drinking mead and it’s late.
But the grander grander point here is that in general, I truly embrace imperfection. The mismatched things. The cracked things. The assymentrical and flawed and weird things.
That’s true of people, too. Don’t tell anyone I said this, because I already know enough crazy people, but the more flawed a person is, the more I like them.
Let me rephrase that, because the word “flaw” sounds wrong, and that’s not how I mean it.
The more quirky, eccentric, unusual, angsty and mismatched someone is, the more I like them.
And honestly, that goes for most people I know. I don’t know a lot of normal people. (If you’re reading this, and I know you, consider it a badge of honor. Embrace your quirk.)
Let’s talk about movies.
Because why not, this is about perfection, and eventually there will be a point to it.
I love movies with sympathetic villains. The “I’m going to take over the world” cackling type is not for me. I also hate perfect heros. The kind that have high morals that never seem to get compromised.
Because I like complex characters, you know, like real people.
In real life, when people transgress, I forgive them. I really can’t think of a grudge that I hold. I mean, it may still smart when I think of hurtful things people have done, but that’s about me, not them.
I’m not trying to sound like some enlightened person here. The POINT that I’ve taken so long to get to, is that I know NOTHING, and nobody, is perfect.
So why do I think I have to be?
Why do I get mad at myself when I don’t get the thing done that I said I’d get done? Why do I refuse to forgive myself for saying that hurtful thing to someone? They forgive me, but I don’t.
Never. Never never never.
I once said something so mean and awful to a high school friend that I refuse to even say it out loud, but she forgave me. Like, literally, “I forgive you,” and we went back to being friends.
That was 35 or something years ago, and I still don’t forgive myself for saying it.
At the end of a day, I HAVE to check all the boxes. I have to be perfect. The alternative is, “why bother?”
And it’s so so so so stupid.
The opposite of perfect is not “I give up”.
In a way it feels uncomfortably arrogant. I know YOU’RE not perfect, but I am better than that.
Perfect has gotten me in a lot of trouble. Not “bail me out of jail” trouble but “why are you wasting your life” trouble.
If the time is not perfect, I can’t do the yoga.
If the words are not perfect, I can’t write the thank you note.
If the plan is not perfect, I can’t go on the trip.
If the story isn’t perfect, I can’t publish it on my blog.
Wouldn’t SOME note be better than no note at all? Wouldn’t a not-perfect trip be better than sitting on the couch binge watching Forged In Fire?
Yesterday I was celebrating the new. Today I’m cranky because I want to say and do and be everything perfect. It’s a new day, after all, and isn’t that a new chance for me to be perfect?
I spent a lot of time today thinking about why perfect is a thing, why it matters, and how to let myself not be it. It’s what I do when I’m elbow deep in a toilet and the tears and snot are running down my face because I used too much bleach and it’s 30 degrees out and I’m not opening a window, period.
I don’t have a good answer, not today, but the point of this project was not to find answers. It was to think. I had a lot to think about today.
It made me irritable enough that in the end, I decided, against every fiber of my being, to defy perfect and write this and then put it out there. Maybe it sounds stupid. Maybe it’s disjointed. Maybe someone is going to think I’m mental or I really shouldn’t have quit my anti-anxiety medication two days before taking on a word project.
I want to say perfect things but it isn’t going to happen.
I don’t need anything or anyone else to be perfect. Except for myself. Which is absurd and annoyoing and angering and ARGH! I ran out of words.
Yesterday I was worried about sounding authentic when I write stuff and put it into the world. Today is about as authentic as it gets, me on a rant at a too-late hour on a Sunday with massive work deadlines this week so I should be sleeping right now, or meditating which I didn’t do this morning, and certainly not drinking mead.
I’m not even editing this. My computer spell checks, but it can’t me-check, so here it is. And it’s perfect.
Photo: an art installation that Ralph created to greet me one day when I complained that he always left an empty roll of toilet paper on the rack.