Life-Hacking Skills

It is widely known among my friends that I do not, in fact, own a smartphone.

Yes, I know, it’s quite the tragedy. As they have assured me many times. How do I get along without it? How do I live without a portable camera and Instagram filters? How do I know where anything is?

To which I say – just fine thank you, cameras have always been portable, photo-editing can be done on my computer, and MAPS, thankyouverymuch.

But as a result of this caveman philosophy, I constantly surprise myself with how much I can actually make life work for me with simple stonelike tools such as a LAPTOP and THE SHITTY INTERNET ON MY PHONE (5 year old platform) and GOOGLE MAPS – BEFORE I go somewhere.

First of all, I have the insanely weird talent of being able to look at a map 1 time and know exactly where I am going, and it’s a pretty sure thing that I’ll always remember how to get there after that, too. I look at it once, and my brain holds it forever.

Pretty nifty tool. Who needs a fucking GPS? I’ve got MY MIND (it’s better than yours).

So normally, if I need to get somewhere, I simply look up directions beforehand and handily take myself in that direction. I first learned I had this skill when I lived overseas for 3 months and successfully navigated myself on the Metro, the bus system, and to church. Alone. At 17 years old.

LIFE. HACKER.

Except, this morning, all went awry. I am in Kansas City for the weekend for my grandma’s 90th birthday. It’s an epic family reunion and includes people I haven’t seen for 6 years. Some of them for longer. And with some of them (mostly IMMEDIATE family ones aka Father) it has the potential for extreme awkwardness.

So, I decided in order to cope with sharing hotel rooms and cars for the weekend, I was going to rent my OWN car for 5 hours and 5 hours only, so I could have a zen-like afternoon before everyone else showed up.

I planned out where I was going to go. Good coffee had to be a part of this, obviously. I literally cannot go to a city without having their best coffee. When I was in London 2 years ago with my best friend, we had not a drop of tea in the 2 days we were there. BUT I HAD 3 CUPS OF COFFEE. At least.

Enter problem 1. I get off the plane, get my bags, and get on the rental car bus. WITHOUT turning on my trusty laptop to look at Google Maps. I had no fucking clue where I was going.

The lady at the rental car place asked if I needed directions, so I asked her how to get downtown. Inside, I secretly sparked with the adventure of having absolutely NO idea where I was going, other than two directional cues (LEFT, then RIGHT).

I’m a badass, so of course off of these 2 directions, I got myself downtown. Within 2 minutes of arriving in the downtown area, I inadvertently turned onto a street I had planned on going to, anyway – the Kansas City Library and its supercool parking garage.

WINNING. I then proceeded to meander around downtown and then landed myself in the ARTS DISTRICT.

WINNING x2.

It was at this point that my skills almost evaded me. Though I drove around for an hour, I could not track down a coffee shop. I just KNEW they were right out of my reach (spoiler: I was correct).

But just in time, my life hacking skills saved me as I spotted a Panera Bread. As anyone with life hacking skills knows, Panera Bread has the most accessible free wifi ANYWHERE.

MWAHAHAH. I promptly parked in the nearby mall parking structure (FREE), walked over to Panera, and SAT OUTSIDE (FREE) at the outdoor tables while I mooched their FREE internet to find out where I was and where I needed to go. Turned out that earlier, I had literally come within 7 blocks of a coffee shop I’d been looking for. (See, told you they were just out of my reach)

So with my trusty Panera wifi as my guide, I headed back out and within 10 minutes had parked and ended up in Oddly Correct, a lovely little hipster coffee shop (The Costa Rica they have on their brew bar right now is epically delicious, FYI).

So the next time any of y’all say “OMG YOU DON’T HAVE A SMARTPHONE?” here’s what I’ll say:

OMG YOU DON’T HAVE LIFEHACKING SKILLS?

Suck it, bitches.

Do you have any lifehacking skills? What street smarts do you have that you’re most proud of? Do you have a weird brain likemine that retains directional information? Holla at yo booiiii!! I mean… girrrlll…

Advertisements

Reconciling

Many of us seem to have some strain when it comes to relating to our families. The strain can be especially poignant around the holidays, where interacting with family is expected; if not from our families themselves, then from other well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) friends.

This was certainly true for me this year. Going into the holidays, my anxiety at being around my family spiked. Part of this was also caused by a graduation dinner that my mother arranged that occured 5 days before Christmas. While the party was a good idea, and I very much appreciated my mom’s thoughtfulness in planning, decorations, and gifts… it was also very stressful for me. I was uncomfortable the entire time. The awkwardness was so apparent and felt thick like a cloud around my head. It was scary for me. It was a time I’d normally try to avoid; by drinking or by dissociating somehow. I went to the restroom to collect my thoughts and steady myself at one point. A good friend followed me in and grabbed my hands, telling  me to take a couple of deep breaths with her. After that, I could go back out and stay with the discomfort a bit easier.

I really felt like it was a disaster; but of course, I catastrophize often. My feelings were convinced the world was ending. My expectations for my party had not been met anyway (damn expectations!) and some people had not been able to come, which in turn made the party much smaller than I had anticipated. My ego was not amused – people were supposed to be celebrating ME! As a friend of mine likes to say, I deserved a parade, damn it. And on top of not getting my parade, I had to deal with my socially awkward family (and my socially awkward self). It felt like Chinese water torture.

The emphasis is “felt.” Because as you can see, it certainly was not the end of the world. Thankfully I was aware of this within the situation and aware that I needed to sit with the discomfort of it. My meditation practice, which has been consistent for the past 2 weeks (miracle of miracles!) really helped with this, because often in order to meditate you have to sit with discomfort, even physical discomfort. That practice really helps when you have to sit with emotional discomfort.

Despite all my spiritualizing, I still came home and cried. And I think actually that’s crucial; to allow oneself to feel. It doesn’t have to define you or drive you, but feeling it is important.

All this led up to Christmas, and so in anticipation of Christmas, I had a lot of anxiety. I shared this at a meeting, and with my sponsor. Going into the week, I opened myself up to being of service to others. I also talked to my sponsor the night before I had to see my parents again.

And I won’t tell you it was a great success, because it wasn’t. I made some mistakes. I wasn’t as present as I could have been, nor was I of service as I could have been. I made a nasty remark about a family member that I will likely need to apologize for later. It was a “joke” but it wasn’t necessary. It was one of those horrible moments where you watch something come out of your mouth and have the impulse to stuff it back in right away and pretend it never was said. But I didn’t stuff it back in, and I didn’t apologize. Part of me also doesn’t want to apologize because I think this person deserves it after what they have done to me. Ouch. That is pretty ugly. Some amends to be done there for sure – and some looking at my part. So. Surprise. I was imperfect yesterday.

But I also noticed something really special that’s happening. I am reconciling fantasy and reality, my child self and my adult self.

I talked to a friend last week about my relationship with my parents, my dad in particular. How there is a part of me that is still sad that he isn’t what I want him to be. That in response to my backing away, he’s backing away. My friend said that maybe it’s my little girl self who is sad, not my adult self. And that my adult self can just sit with little girl self and comfort her. My adult self needs to back away to be healthy. But my child self is really sad about it and still thinks she can make her daddy see how wonderful she really is if she just does what he wants.

That conversation was what I needed going into this holiday season.

Yesterday, while we opened gifts, I noticed something interesting. My dad gave me his usual disconnected gift; something that has very little relation to who I am and what I enjoy. If my dad really knew me, he would know that I am not a huge Beatles fan (unlike my little sister). But my dad doesn’t know me. And as I opened the present (a Beatles CD and a CD of Bach organ music), instead of feeling angry or even sad, I felt acceptance. Because my expectations were in line with reality. I knew it wouldn’t be him magically knowing who I was, and so I accepted it internally without making a big deal out of it. It was kind of amazing actually. I have never been in that place before.

As I was driving away yesterday I felt the sadness. And today I feel anger. But it’s easier for me to deal with knowing that my little girl self is just sad and angry. I feel so much more reconciled to the truth of my family, because I’m slowly accepting what is real. And that includes how my little girl self feels, which is right and true. It is sad, and anger-inducing, to realize that your daddy doesn’t see you and doesn’t try. But my adult self is also beautiful, and wise, and holds that little girl knowing that her grandpa, her daddy’s daddy, probably never knew her dad. So it’s really no surprise that little girl Laurie isn’t known, either. In the end, adult Laurie is just going to keep on being the wise, loving, gentle parent that little girl Laurie really needs, cuz little girl Laurie is never going to have the dad she wants. So adult Laurie gets to take that role as best she can.

I also had a really weird realization yesterday too that when I smell alcohol on someone’s breath, it reminds me of my dad. My dad honestly doesn’t seem terribly alcoholic to me, although I’ve noticed that he drinks more than average people. He seems closer to a problem drinker than an alcoholic, in my opinion and if I was taking inventory. But it was so odd to me to catch the scent of alcohol on someone’s breath, then realize the familiarity I feel is because I viscerally remember the smell on my dad’s breath. I don’t know what to do with that. It’s another layer I never have completely considered. Another layer of reality.

But I’m reconciling. Past and present. Real and fantasy. Like a lens at the optometrist when they ask “is it closer to 1, or 2? Again, 1…or how about 2?” I’m clarifying between 1, and 2. And in doing so, I’m slowly getting closer to seeing clearly.


Some updates on how I’m working with my family now… It’s Complicated