The Reality Stick

I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while, as part of enquiring how I was, he asked specifically how my blog was.

I quipped,

Oh the internet’s good. It’s the real world I have problems with.

reality tag
Credit: flickr / Scoobymoo

Lately, that keeps coming back to me. I feel like reality has a big stick that it’s beating me with. Dealing with legal issues – like how do I disclose something that I can’t reveal the name of? Panic, because (for unknown reasons) when I filed my tax return my postcode got changed, and then I couldn’t verify who I was, couldn’t change my address until I had a new number, which couldn’t happen until I’d moved… and then the postal service work it out and it’s a bill, not a return, because there was some interim letter that of course, didn’t arrive. Returning home from New York to discover that my electricity had been disconnected (why that happened is a long story), and that the fire alarm wouldn’t stop beeping. Discovering that the power being returned wouldn’t fix it, attacking it with a broom, trying to find 9V batteries at 9pm on a Sunday, climbing a terrifying 10ft ladder and pulling it apart – to no avail! Eventually my friend brought her brother who rescued me from the beeping. Once it had stopped – nearly 24 hours after I’d returned – I was still tense, waiting for the sound again.

I don’t think people who know me would describe me as a practical person. I can’t rewire a plug, or hang a picture. I did not enjoy the time I spent up the ladder. I am easily overwhelmed by forms and bureaucracy.

Mostly, I tick along. Bills arrive – preferably electronically – and I pay them. I managed to master filing my tax return, at least, even if it then went horribly wrong. Periodically something like that, or a form, arrives, and I procrastinate, prevaricate, and eventually take care of it and wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

However, there’s nothing like moving to bring out the real world. And – Canada is still foreign to me, so still I often have no clue what’s happening or how things work.

Meanwhile, I turn things into intricate dependency chains because I want to optimize everything. For example, I’m heading back to Europe shortly. I need a new passport and to see a doctor about my shoulder. But, I’m agonizing about the optimal time to go – and freaking out, because if I go away for a week and return to no electricity and 24 hours of incessant beeping (which caused me to think I was losing my mind), what will I return to if I leave for the better part of a month?

It’s probably fine. I should just choose a flight – and make it work. I’m good at airports. After much practise as an international hobo, I’ve got pretty good at packing. I’m good at making the most of the situation that is. If I could just be a little less of a dreamer, and panic less about what might, I’d be a lot better off.

IN UR REALITY
Credit: xkcd

For example, I’m spending the holiday with my boyfriend’s family. If he can move to Canada, I should be able to cope with that – even if they are all 6ft tall and terrifying. Working out how to get to Scotland, I’ve presented him with at least 5 highly plausible (to me) situations featuring death (from us driving a smart car/me driving stick), nervous breakdown (lack of escape route and terror by family) and breaking up (from him trying to teach me to drive stick). The benefit of dating someone I’ve known for a long time is that this level of neuroticism doesn’t faze him in fact he seems to find it amusing. Long may that continue.

Actually the story I should be telling myself is that we’ll go up in a manual car. He’ll drive. We’ll have a nice time – I’ll be charming, and his family, although giant, will be lovely. And then we’ll leave, and I’ll head back to Canada, to find my apartment intact, the power on, and a cheque from the tax man waiting.

Or not. And if not, I’ll work it out.

Still feeling shaken up from the beeping and stressed about the tax issues, I took some Cate-time and read The Undomestic Goddess (Amazon). It was really the perfect book for the mood I was in! I calmed down and realized that reality can be overwhelming when you’re already stressed, and I shouldn’t beat myself up for not coping better with it. I am tremendously fortunate, but it’s hard to keep that in perspective when every few minutes you hear “beep — low battery — faible”. It’s all fixable – but it’s okay to be stressed by a sudden demand from the tax man.

And finally – deep breath – I booked flights.

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