The best laid plans …

Part of my Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan involves hard copies of the longitude and latitude details for locating my family’s property in case satellites fail and the Internet goes down before I can use Google maps. Yes, I have a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan. It has a three-part process:

  1. get a pilot and a plane
  2. fly to the family property
  3. hope my Dad isn’t zombified and can make everything better

Despite being (somewhat) prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse (I’m aware there are some flaws in this plan), I am little prepared for anything else. Examples where my preparation is lacking include:

  • My pending trip to India (as is a common chant of my gender, “I have nothing to wear!”)
  • My pending trip to Australia (I recently ate all of the presents I had bought to take with me – in fairness, I was home sick and my fridge contained milk past its use-by date and some really old bok choy … we’ll discuss my grocery shopping issues later in this post)
  • NaNoWriMo (I just spent a week and a half in a dazed and confused state of blegh – I’m still super fatigued but I’m breathing better, which is a start, but my novel is … not)
  • Life (this is an ongoing issue)

As the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan may indicate, I’m not the best “preparer”. I used to be. I used to get caught up in lists and details and even schedules of the days leading up to X event and what needed to be accomplished in preparation. I even had run sheets for the day-of. Seriously. What I needed to do at each time slot so everything would run smoothly was carefully planned out.

Then I realised I hate details. While I got caught up in details, life was taking place at an alarming pace.

Now … I write lists, sure. Sometimes I even cross things off. But generally, I’m less of a planner and more of a roller. I just roll with it. I don’t have any clothes to take to India? Whatever. Take a credit card and buy stuff when you get there. Roll with it. (You will notice, however, that sometimes I indicate I am planner of the most prepared kind. This is explained next.)

The problem is, when I get stressed I revert to being a control freak. I need to know what the five-year-plan is, and I need a run sheet for each year. I need a schedule for every month and I need all of my lists and details to be accurate and neatly crossed out, in order of appearance.

With beginnings and ends swirling around each other at this time of the year, I’m plagued with anxiety-ridden dreams and panic attacks over word counts, t-shirt collections, empty present shelves, and all of the things I haven’t done with my life that I probably should be sorting out and getting done (this is a vicious cycle – frequent readers will know this). I get so overwhelmed that no list can compensate.

Used under Creative Commons, credit: Bruce Turner

Here’s an analogy involving grocery shopping to further demonstrate my point:

Every time I go grocery shopping, I write a list. So after spending two days asleep and recovering from whatever virus plagued my system (fortunately, despite my predictions, I was not Patient Zero), I ventured out into the world yesterday with a list: milk, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, wrapping paper, pasta.

I walked into the supermarket and picked up a basket. I made my way through the supermarket and exited with my shopping bag. When I got home I discovered: milk, chips.

How did this happen? I had a perfectly logical list, I was armed with a basket to carry my goods, and yet … what happened?

I got overwhelmed. Despite living in Singapore for a year now, I still get confused in my local shopping centres and supermarkets. I still can’t find all the brands and products I want, and I usually get so confused and frustrated that I grab what I can – and believe me, it makes perfect sense at the time – and exit before I scream.

And in life, I get overwhelmed. Despite living this life for twenty something years now, I still get confused … with everything. I still haven’t found my purpose, I still don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing, and I am so confused and frustrated that I’m just … making my way through it and hoping I remember the milk.

Here’s something to laugh at so you stop laughing at my grocery shopping attempts.

Keeping this in mind, I wrote a list of the four things that are most plaguing me at the moment (and, just now, added a little motivational sentence to each task):

  • Finish NaNoWriMo – you’re close. Stop looking at someecards and finish the damn novel.
  • Pack for India – and take your credit card so you can buy more clothes when you get there. And for goodness sake, take out the four books and pack your damn Kindle – it’s why you got it, remember?
  • Pack for Australia – no one has to know you ate their presents (except … now they do … but don’t worry about it)
  • Your life is already sorting itself out. You’ve done pretty well so far, right?

See? It’s easier than I thought. Now I just have to roll with it.

Used under Creative Commons, credit: Kevin Dooley

What delightful chaos is plaguing you this time of year? How are you managing it? Am I the only one who can’t stick to a shopping list?

10 comments on “The best laid plans …

  1. hey! this was really amazing and inspiring. i just love the smooth way you write. its actually as if you just roll with it. and its really relaxing. anyways. love your blog. good job.

  2. Pingback: Gone Wandering « dodging commas

  3. I’ve only just discovered this, at 36, and also living in a foreign country, that ‘finding your purpose’ is a bit of a construct. Of what? Media, western culture, personal expectations, etc, perhaps.
    We ‘should be doing something else’.
    If you love what you do, and when you do it, it makes it you happy (which I can see from your writing, it makes you happy!), what other purpose is there?
    Having said that, writing a list is sometimes as effective a comfort mechanism as a spoonful of nutella 😉

    • Or a jar of nutella!

      I think doing what you love is the purpose – or maybe the purpose is finding what you love and having the courage to do it and not lose sight of it. Or maybe it’s to eat more nutella …

  4. I’ve bought all my Christmas presents. Wrapped all of my Christmas presents. Written in all the cards for my Christmas presents.

    Chaos? I don’t know the meaning of the word. 😀

    …Kidding! Well, not about my mad-awesome Christmas shopping skills, but that’s a one-off. I’ve NEVER been this organised before!

    But if you’d like some sympathy, I do indeed have stupidly-written-out shopping lists for the holiday season that are giving me a headache, as well as trying (re: failing) to organise myself for Honours next year.

    My solution? Watermelon. Always makes me happy. 🙂

    Good like with NaNoWriMo, and everything else, too!

    • Haha, thanks! I’ll send you my Christmas list and you can do it for me, Little Miss Organised!

      I want watermelon. I think I have oranges. That might work. I also found eggs. I don’t know how long they’ve been in the fridge, though …

      Honours sounds awesome – good luck! You’ll be brilliant, of course!

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