Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Always ill-prepared

Tonight I will be embarking on a plane. I hate embarking on planes. I hate the actual act of getting on the plane, I hate waiting for the plane, I hate standing at the check in desk when inevitably the tickets for my plane have disappeared inexplicably, I hate driving to the airport and - as I'm sure you can tell I'm going in reverse-chronological order - I hate prepping for a flight.

When I make the plans for a trip, I try not to think about the kind of turmoil that ensues on the day of my flight. If I did, I probably would never go anywhere. I might not even go back to school in Chicago. It's that terrible.

On the usual vacation, I overpack ridiculously, stuffing items into my suitcase as if I'm going away for five years rather than a week. Yet somehow, with the overpacking, I have a tendency to forget something of incredible importance. It's possibly because I require too much - too many items of clothing, too much make-up, too many products and a ton of hair styling supplies. But it's also possibly because it's my eternal destiny to go everywhere missing one key item.

What that item will be, I never seem to foresee. I guess that's why this keeps happening to me. (No rhyme intended, I'm just cool that way.)

This morning I had this dream. It might have been my unconscious mind reminding me of something to pack or it might just have been a dream (I sometimes ascribe a lot of meaning to dreams, but I'm certainly no Freud). Either way, it made me think about all the times in my life that I've shown up without something of necessity.

Not even counting the many instances of staying over at a friend's house and completely neglecting to bring a toothbrush or toothpaste, I have a tendency to always ignore what is staring me right in the face. (By the way, how could I do the toothbrush forgetting so often? This is one of the most important things you bring on a sleepover. When you're packing to sleep at a friend's house, the order of packing usually goes like this: pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste and ouija board. Okay, no ouija board. But the rest was true.)

So yeah, going back to ignoring the toothbrush scenario, which I have literally no explanation for... I have this issue with always doing something wrong due to ill-preparedness, even in the seemingly most uncomplicated of situations.

A few years ago in choir class, we were given these hideous floor-length dresses to wear to our concerts. They were really terrible faux satin bell-shaped dresses, with ugly sequined bolero jackets to match. The bolero jackets had shoulder pads. Shoulder pads!

These were our new costumes for the year, and we were required to get them hemmed so that they were just above floor length. No shorter, no longer. No dragging, no ankles. That was the rule.

At this point in my life, I wasn't living with any women. My dad was my sole caretaker and my sister had moved out of the house. Besides my grandma who lived a long car drive away and who was busy, I had no one who could help me hem my dress.

I kept forgetting about it. Then I remembered we had a concert coming up. I flipped out a day before, realizing my dress was still dragging on the floor in need of a hem. Instead of doing the logical thing and calling up my grandma or asking my dad to take me to a seamstress to have it altered, I did a make-shift fix. I safety-pinned the thing all around (with the pins hidden inside the fabric) at just the right height.

My choir teacher looked at me during the concert (as she so often did, inspecting our disgusting dresses and our terribly unflattering buns - pinned back in such a way that not a hair could fly away), and immediately asked me why I hadn't gotten my dress hemmed. I was so embarrassed that I could barely answer.

Within the next week, I got the thing hemmed. But again I only did half the job that was necessary.

Not having time outside of school hours to go with my dad to a seamstress who could take my measurements and fix my dress, I used my safety pins as a guideline and ended up getting back a dress that - you guessed it - showed my ankles.

For the rest of the year, my choir teacher bothered me for my improperly hemmed dress. I felt so mortified walking up on stage that I would often scurry faster or try to walk with my legs bent in some fashion so that it was less noticeable.

When we took our choir group picture, the same evil teacher forced me to stand in the back - even though I was clearly shorter than everyone else - because my ankles showed when I sat in the front.

So when I had a dream this morning of being at some sort of craft workshop and forgetting my sewing kit (luckily now I can hem clothing myself, so the fear is more in the lack of tools), I immediately connected it back to this story of my past that I've long tried to forget.

Getting ready for a flight feels like trying to get my dress hemmed in high school choir. It's daunting, but easily forgettable. And it will inevitably have me feeling like I've done something wrong, even if throughout the process I tried to do my best under the circumstances.

At this point in the packing process, I feel like I've done everything I've needed to do. I've packed away my glasses and my contact lens case (two things I'm always forgetting), I've picked two pairs of shoes and brought a jacket. Oh, that reminds me, I forgot my umbrella. Thank goodness for blogs.

So now you see what I'm talking about.

I wonder if a lot of other people feel this same sort of agony - of never quite living up to expectations due to being unsuspectingly ill-prepared for everything. If so, then we must be a pretty miserable species. For me, these moments are some of the lowest of my life.

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