A Day in the Life of a Type A (Eh?), aka Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but What Happens If You Expect Plantinum?, aka Joni Mitchell Never Lies

Before I get into the less vacuous thoughts for the day, let me note that I hate my hair right now. I haven't had it colored in about a year, and I haven't had it properly cut (meaning, trimmed at a decent length as opposed to WAY TOO SHORT) in over 6 months. for someone who used to have a funky hairstyle and color every few months, this is very difficult to bear. Every time I see myself in a mirror, I gag. I know I'm growing it out for Locks of Love and I know the last of the processed color is now gone, but I still hate how I look. It's bad enough that I'm fat; I also have hair that makes me feel less-than-sexy. My only consolation is that I'm still taking prenatal vitamins, which are supposed to encourage hair and nail growth.

Okay. I promise to be less shallow for a bit. This is, after all, about my Type A-ness, not about my complete lack of maturity and depth of character. (Ha, ha, ha. I bet you just read "A-ness" out loud. HA! I made you do it again!!)

When I was younger, if I wished I was a certain way or could do a certain thing, I believed that all I had to do was be it or do it. As simplistic and new-agey as that sounds, it worked. Wish I talked less? I'd just subconsciously slow down my inner jabberjaw. Wanted to be more quirky? I'd find ways to express it through my clothing or accesories. Yet, somehow, over the past 10 years or so, I've forgotten or lost the ability to simply seize my identity and transform it. So, imagine my surprise when I realized yesterday that I'm no longer a Type A - something I've long had on my list of things "to do when I grow up."

Normally I get very antsy on road trips: I'm hungry, cranky and I just want to get there already. I like to stop frequently, but I refuse to stop unless I have more than one thing to do (pee and eat, eat and fuel up, fuel up and pee, etc.) because it slows me down. But time flew by when I drove home with Dad on Monday, the stops were welcome and interesting, and I didn't even twitch when we had to make two stops to go to the bathroom because the first gas station where we filled up had shitty (HAR HAR!) facilities. At one point, we stopped for the bathroom and nothing else (though we ended up with a snack,too), and I didn't feel the least bit aggravated. Now, credit must be given here to Daddy, who is the most laid-back person on earth - one cannot help being relaxed and calm around him. He takes everything one step at a time and measures out his options with such patience that people often wonder if/when he's going to act or react. (I was born with his analytical style, but not his ability.) As we traveled, I babbled absentmindedly about my so-called career (as it shall heretofore be called), and I realized outloud that all I want to do is something I like. And all I want to make is enough to pay my bills and race a little.

That's a really huge change from wanting everything now, and from wanting to be a VP or Director of Something Important-Sounding and Six-Figureish by age 28 (which is rapidly slipping by me. Hell, the USAT considers me 29 already. Bastards.) It's a change I'm still adjusting to. If my laundry, bills, dishes, errands, dinner, homework, workout, book-reading and planning don't all get done in one night, I still feel a more-than-vague sense of failure. When I peruse job websites and see positions I'd really have to stretch professionally to land, I still feel a pang of desire, despite the fact that an attempt to fill one of those positions landed me flat on my face about 5 years ago (of course, that had nothing to do with the feuding partners that owned the firm and had to lay off all their employees when they split in a rage, now, did it?) When I see old colleagues' credentials on Naymz, Facebook or LinkedIn - and they're all inevitably higher-up in their organizations than I am in mine - I still squirm a little. I still some times wish I'd stayed in one place longer, or finished school sooner. And, I will admit, I even have a rare moment when I wonder what life would have been like if I'd just accepted my fate, not just with employers who made me unhappy, but with an ex or two - would I have more "clout" now as a married person or parent? Would I have much more money and prestige because I'd still be a DINK (Dual Income No Kids)?

Nonetheless, the days of "wanting to have it all" are gone. I attribute this to a phenomenon most of us recognize and many others have elucidated more succinctly and intelligently: you can't know how good you have it until you don't have it so good any more. Or, as Joni Mitchell said, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

I was always one of those people who (to quote my Mom) could fall into shit and come out smellin' like a rose. No furniture in my apartment and struggling to make ends meet? I somehow managed upon a surprise inheritance. A little credit card debt? Erased by another unexpected inheritance. (Nothing I wouldn't have payed off alone, mind you, but still.) Laid off? Husband supported the household while I found another job. Got sick? Plenty of sick days and bosses who understood me using them. Got really sick? Job gave me 6 weeks of paid short-term disability. Needed a vacation? Mother-in-law sent us to Vegas for a week and peeled off several wads of spending cash while we were there. Needed a haircut or new clothes? It would just happen to be around my birthday or Christmas and Mom or Dad would treat me to an outfit or cut in lieu of a gift. Seats got stolen out of one car? Bosses were okay with me being slightly late a few days per week to take Wubsy to work. Things. Just. Worked. OUT.

Until the day I got a rude phone call.

Ring ring . . . "Hello?"
"Yes, hello, is this MAJ?"
"It is."
"MAJ, this is reality calling."
"Yeah, so, uh, reality . . . what's your point?"
Silence. Line goes dead.

Then the washer breaks. Then the AC quits. Then the credit cards get maxed out. Then the dog gets sick. Etc. Etc. Etc. And now, instead of dumb luck jumping in to give me a hand, I have to actually figure out a way out of it all by myself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. Boo-fucking-hoo. Well, trust me - years of putting myself through school, paying my own bills and living alone have toughened me up somewhat, so it isn't like it's always been cake. I've never had a panic attack in the supply room, though, because my parents are getting older and, OMG, they may not be here to help me in ten or fifteen years. Everything always seemed to work itself out, I never questioned the benevolence of the universe, and I was one of those people who stayed so positive it made other people want too puke. In other words, I got a little too big for my own britches. And now, perhaps, I'm getting my karmic comeuppance.

So, some times, when I get a little bit negative, when I act or sound kinda bitter, when I feel like chewing off a head, I think of two things . . .

  1. I obviously still possess the ability to be whatever I want to be (no, this entry isn't sponsored by the army). If that's not a Type A any more, then I need to settle the fuck down.
  2. If the cloud has a silver lining, don't get pissed because it's not platinum. Be thankful it's not a tornado.

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Tribrit said...

Ok, I am still laughing - does that make me a bad friend!! No, the lining won't always be platinum and sometimes it will be tarnished silver. I agree with you about looking at my peers and seeing what they are doing - head of Childrens programming at the BBC etc!!! Do I wish I had made other choices, of course I do, sometimes but you makes your choices and takes your chances!!!!