Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Busy Beaver and Beyonce

We all stole glances with each other as he fumbled around on his laptop, trying to find the email he was blabbering about. A ping sounded at full volume from his machine indicating that another meeting was about to commence. With a loud sigh and a shake of the head, he spun his laptop around for us to look at his screen.

"I mean, look at this... my entire day is just back-to-back meetings... barely a minute to have my lunch. Gol-ly."

The meeting had devolved into another diatribe by the new guy about all the things Moosejaw should be doing differently. He had been on the job for about a month and had already managed to rub just about everyone the wrong way... even the dogs in our laid-back office sneered as he walked by.

"Just amazing. Probably why I've been up 'til midnight every night for the past 2 weeks. So many meetings during the day and then once I'm home, I finally have time to dive in to actual work. Insane. Sheevani, see this?"

I raised my eyebrows with forced awe and nodded my head. I'm SOOO impressed, I thought along with a mental jerking-off motion. I had never met anyone so eager to brag about how busy they were with full-on visual aids of a poorly organized Outlook calendar.

If he was trying to get respect or admiration for being a busy guy... he struck out with me.

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One of my biggest pet peeves is when people have to advertise how busy they are. I remember hearing an interview with Mindy Kaling where she spoke about some sage advice from her late mother:

"Don't tell people how busy you are... everyone is busy. No one needs to hear about your busy when they have their own busy to think about."

I have always subscribed to Mama Kaling's words. I'm never sure how to respond when someone lists off a billion things they have to get done. Does this person want sympathy? Praise? Admiration? Am I supposed to download my errands for them so we can have some weird dick-swinging contest comparing the length of our to-do lists? As I've written about previously, I'm not a competitive person, so the thought of trying to "win" some sort of contest where one's lack of free time is the victor couldn't be more gross.

Janky Juggler
It's quite possible that my aversion to this is my personal past with being terrible at handling a lot of tasks at once. At my first job out of college, I worked my way up to a position with pretty high visibility and the most responsibility I had yet experienced. It was a position I had wanted and lobbied for (this was during one of my "yes I can love a corporate job" delusions) so it was a rude awakening when I figured out how ill-equipped I was to handle the mountain of duties it came with.

It wasn't for lack of effort; I was coming in early, working through lunch, staying late... but the constant panicked mental state I was in caused me to make careless mistakes and freak out when additional tasks needed my attention. So often I would take cry breaks in the bathroom or my car.

What baffled me was that I was an organized person. Ever since high school, I made prioritized lists and felt so accomplished once everything was checked off, but as soon as the list was longer than some mysterious threshold, my focus became muddy. I'd be trying to complete one task while thinking about ways to complete another... oh, and that report... shit, I also need to schedule that meeting... then I'd just shut down with the overwhelming tangle of thoughts in my head. It was yet another example, to myself, that I couldn't hack it in a corporate job where others were depending on me.

Surprise! YOU GOT THIS!
The last few years of my life as a parent has taught me a lot about myself, mostly how much I can tolerate stories that go on forever with no payoff. No seriously, nothing opens you up for self-examination more than parenting. Once my daughter was born, I didn't realize I was in a crash-masterclass at multitasking, the likes of which I would have NEVER voluntarily signed up for had I seen the syllabus. With the stakes being, you know, keeping another human alive and well, I figured out pretty damn quick how to juggle multiple things at once.

With almost 9 years under my belt as a parent, I unknowingly honed a skillset that glowed brightly these past couple of weeks. Without boring you with all the details, my life has been a bit crazy since mid-April. Nothing bad and all things in the name of progress with my career and life, but hectic nonetheless. Ever since I decided to not work outside the home, I made sure to "keep busy," which meant that I found projects that could stimulate my mind outside of the normal duties as a wife and mother. Well, those projects have begun to build a runway to things that I'm excited to explore and further my creative career.

Of all the recent flurry of activity, last week in particular was one that I was dreading more than the others. In addition to some acting commitments, I had made it to the penultimate show of Denver's Next Improv Star, which meant I was to produce an entire show in one week. I had to choose a concept, create a flyer, market it, schedule and rehearse with a cast, pick out sound and lighting cues and so on... whoa, check out how loooong that list is, baby. You impressed?! Ugh, I know I just listed off what I had to get done, so yes, I've lived long enough to become the villain.

Just like Mr. Miyagi had tricked Daniel LaRusso into learning the techniques of karate via painting, waxing and sanding chores, the years of parenting with a busy/traveling husband did the same for me... not with karate, but with handling a mountain of tasks with ease. Even when a migraine struck in the middle of the madness, I'm happy to say I Crane-Kicked the shit out of last week!

Who Run The World? Beyonce!
My soundtrack since April 17, 2019 has been Beyonce's 'Homecoming.' Between the album and Netflix film, Queen Bey has lifted me up in this time of breakneck schedules and deadlines and I'm not sure I can ever repay her. I've always found fearless women inspiring and if you sprinkle on insane dance choreography to that, well... it's hard to top that in my book.

Beyonce demands excellence from not only herself, but everyone with whom she works and that's something I really admire. In her film, she talks about rebuilding herself, both body and mind, from having a very tough pregnancy and emergency C-section with her twins. Now, I know she and I live in polar opposite worlds with hired staff, money, status, etc... but I could certainly relate to her about not feeling like herself for so long after delivering her babies. On that basic level, she and I were the same.

Besides just enjoying her as a performer, watching and listening to her determination to come back with groundbreaking Coachella performances after a period of losing herself, propelled my own motivation to handle my smaller scale stuff with grit and confidence. My entire life I've always used music to pull me up and out of the depths of sadness and insecurity, and Homecoming has been that for me through my recent bout of busy.

Also, I WILL teach myself the dance sequence at 43:19 even if it takes me years... PM me if you'd like to help me in this dance venture.

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As my kids get older and (fingers crossed) my own career shifts into a higher gear, things will continue to get busier, but given the last few weeks and how I've handled it all, I feel pretty good about stretching my to-do list to an impressive length... I just promise not to tell you about it. 😉

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