On Time Is The New Early

by Gig Girl on February 9, 2011

Gig Girl has a theory – as women, no matter how highly functioning, evolved and well-adjusted we may be, we all still have our own personal brand of lunacy. It may rear its head in the form of mere idiosyncrasy, neurosis or a full-fledged phobia but as a gender, we are far too complicated not to have some sort of personality quirk/flaw hidden beneath the surface somewhere.

Gig Girl, ever the equal opportunist, falls into all three categories. I’ve identified and neatly compartmentalized the large and constantly growing list of the weirdness that is me (except for my extreme and debilitating fear of street performers…I can’t decide where the heck to put that one) and have either worked to change the behavior or (as I find I do more often now that I’m in my 30’s) have accepted it for what it is and wrapped my weirdness around me like a large, comfortable Snuggie.

Unfortunately, one of my weirdo Snuggies is rampantly fraying at the edges and needs to be put in the behavior modification box stat…

It began my freshman year/first semester in college, 1993 (which yes, seeing that year makes me feel like the woman of advanced maternal age I am). My first paper was due and I had made the mistake of waiting until the night before to start it.  I borrowed my suitemate’s Brother Word Processor (again, mid-90’s people) and sat up all night typing and typing and typing…I had just finished the final sentence and was about to hit whatever the heck you hit to save a document on a Brother Word Processor when, BAM! The entire dorm went black.

Five seconds later the lights went on, but the tiny little screen of that stupid glorified typewriter stayed black. There I sat, exhausted, red eyed, wearing a strategically wrapped flannel around my waist (Gig Girl was a bit of a grunge poser…the tied flannel was perhaps the best fashion accessory ever imagined for a curvy college girl.  I wore them everywhere freshman year. I wonder if I can bring that look back…) staring blankly at blank monitor in front of me.

It was then that I vowed to NEVER allow that to happen again. (Here comes the wacko Snuggie…wait for it….wait for it….) Never again would an unforeseen circumstance prevent me from getting something done on time. From then on, I had to meet every deadline and complete every business action item EARLY. As in, really early.  From that day on, I’d anxiously monitor my action item list with all sorts of dread and disappointment because I had only passed them in a day or two before they were due.  What if I had gotten sick? What if the electricity went out again?  What if? What if? What if??? Every deadline I encountered didn’t need to be met, it needed to be CRUSHED. On time was unacceptable…on time was LATE.

Over the past 17  (fine, almost 18) years, this particular Snuggie became one of my favorites. I actually stopped thinking about it as neurotic anxiety and convinced myself that it falls into the “successful professional” box. My ability to eliminate action items in a single bound fused with my actual identity – it became part of what made me, me. When one of my bosses wrote on my review that it would two “normal” people to manage the workload that I do, I took it as the highest compliment possible.  Who wants to be normal? I reveled in my abnormal psyche and brought the warped mentality to my new stay at home life.  I would continue to forever dodge the unforeseen and continuously check things off my gig to-do list well in advance. Tra la la!

And then, November 19th, 2010 rolled in.

I realized early on that being a WAHM with a newborn completely eliminates any opportunity to dodge the unforeseen. My schedule, quite simply, was no longer my own. I also realized that this point coupled with my incessant need for earliness was going to cause a huge problem the day I found myself completely wracked with misguided adrenaline while trying to finish up an article the day before it was due WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY BREASTFEEDING TOBIN. Sad, but true. And yet, that wasn’t my rock bottom.  A note on my facebook wall from my neighbor yesterday was:

Misting up watching your Hubs & O at the bus stop; O throwing snowballs, Hubs checking the contents of the extra backpack and the integrity of O’s jacket zipper.  I think of when you were at the bus stop dressed for work with the knowledge that you’re now dressed for a day of stay-at-home with the baby.  My heart is warm watching your family grow. ♥

Her note jolted me (and got me misty eyed as well). It struck me that so many of the events in the past year of my life have been a tribute to how you simply can’t ever anticipate all the unforeseen things that lay in wait around the corner.  Some of life’s greatest blessings are the ones you never saw coming. And, if you spend too much time seeking them out you just might miss some of the day to day miracles happening right in your own front yard.

So from now on, I’m going to strive to make on-time the new early for me. And I have a gig action item to find a great therapist to have on speed dial in case the day arrives when I’m ever actually late for a deadline.  Maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow…or maybe I should at least start it today…

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn February 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Isn’t it interesting that, as adults we are still learning and, although you’ve lived in your body for all these 29 years, you still have something to find out about yourself and you still can change. I love that.

Kristin February 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I think that by slowing down we are afforded the view of what is extraordinary in the very ordinary. I believe that was what happened for me when I looked out my window that morning. Heading out for breakfast, I was hungry & waiting for my husband to get ready but the delay allowed me a view of this interaction between my neighbor’s husband and her son (yes, I am THAT neighbor). A glimpse into the morning ritual; a glimpse into the love and protective instinct demonstrated by that extra backpack check, that jacket tug, the kiss before the bus departure. I’m glad that my husband took a few extra minutes to get ready that morning. My hash & eggs weren’t going anywhere. But 5 minutes earlier or later I would not have been able to observe my neighbor in “father-mode”, something that seemed at once private and not. It was not him on his lawnmower or behind his snowblower or the usual male accoutrements. It was him being a dad….doing what came naturally to him. I am glad i slowed down enough to see.

Gig Girl February 11, 2011 at 6:41 am

I’m thankful for your Hubs delay as well, neighbs! And I’m thankful that you took the time to share it with me. It was a lesson that I needed and your post was such a great way to learn it (a kinder, gentler lesson presentation…much softer than when the universe just bops me over the head with it!)

Gig Girl February 11, 2011 at 6:41 am

Alllllllll these 29 years is right Jenn!! :) I am but a work in progress!

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