:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

thinking processes of an un-productive problem solver. (amy)

The 5K. I have done a 5K. Specifically, I have leisurely walked a 5K. I placed number 131 (out of 140). As the 131st to cross the finish line, I won a sunburn and slightly sore calves, but I also had an enjoyable time chatting while casually completing this 5K, and it was for Relay for Life, an always worthy cause. On April 30, I will do my RunforWater 5K, wherein I will chat less (because let’s be honest: I’m doing that 5K solo and therefore won't really have anyone to chat to), and I will speed up the pace. Maybe. No, I will. I will attempt to place in the 120’s this next time.

Social Group. I’ve been doing preliminary research on social groups. I’ve googled “creating a women’s social group” and “finding members to join your social group” and "how to start a social group." And I have looked a lot (a LOT) at meetup.com. Meetup.com seems to be the easiest, most efficient way to go about this, but a tad on the pricey side--$12/month to host a group. Another alternative someone suggested was to advertise for free on Craigslist, but man. I know it's a great place for when you need to unload a 25 year old sofa with holes all over or a 1970's era console tv, but I gotta be honest: Craigslist just gives me the heebs.

The problem with meetup.com (besides the hefty $12/month administrator fee) is that there are—quite literally—hundreds of social group meetups there in my area, a good handful of which kind of sort of actually fit the idea I outlined in this very area a couple of weeks ago. And so I’m worried I’m being redundant. Like, why don’t I just join those groups and not have to pay a monthly fee or do any legwork in general? But then I wouldn’t be in charge, and part of my challenge is learning to be in charge and putting myself out there AND make myself do some legwork. And I know I could charge members to be part of my group to help me recoup my monthly costs, but quite frankly I'm suspicous of meet up hosts who charge members even a $2 fee per meet up...if 10 members show up for the meeting, then you're essentially making a profit, and that's not why I'm doing it.

What I’m saying here is: I’m still mulling and researching. And also kind of finding out I need to really narrow my social group down. I need a theme, basically. Like “Chicks Who Like Books about Books.” Or “Working Moms Promoting Chocolate Fests Who Prefer Kids Who Take Really Long Afternoon Naps on the Weekends.” Or “Chicks Who Daydream Lurid Fantasies about Gerard Butler Unbeknownst to Him.”

And why am I excluding men in these social endeavors? I don’t know. Because maybe there are working men and husbands out there who love chocolate and kids who take long naps, and they, too, have lurid fantasies about Gerard Butler. I don't want to exclude anyone.

The writing project: hasn’t happened. I knew this. I knew I would be posting an update 2, 3 weeks after my last post, the one where I grandiosely announced: Attention, All! Amy is going to WRITE! Even then, I knew this part of my next update would contain these words: writing, hasn’t, happened. Part of my problem (ie, challenge) is that I’m an avoider.

Most specifically, I’m a procrastinator/avoider. Like, I can spend hours keeping up with comings and goings of my friends/coworkers/family via facebook, reading the comment sections in Huffingtonpost solely as a schadenfreude experiment (I sadly love it when two internet trolls have a totally geeky word boxing match in front of God and everyone over some crazy subject like whether Kanye West’s bizarre tweets are culturally relevant or not), and just generally…I goof off online. A lot. The internet is a dangerous place for me, and I need to channel my technological energies better. It’s a problem.

And the other thing I’m doing is trying to decide what to write. Do I want to write only short stories? These can be frustrating for me—they start well but then I drift off because I don’t know where to take the characters next, or I’m not sure if I even have a plot line, or I realize I need to do research but I don’t have that kind of time (ie, ability to focus).

Do I want to write personal essays? I do have a lot to say about a lot. Like, I’m pretty passionate about elementary school kids and the mess I see being made of American public education these days—do I want to spout off my (generally unresearched, totally opinionated, and occasionally over the top) thoughts on what I see happening in the USA right now? And do I want to sign my real name to those opinions? And if so, am I prepared for the ensuing backlash? I submit the comments section of
this article as an example of (1) a tiny, and depressing, glimpse into the type of thing that distracts me from more fruitful uses for the internet, and (2) what freaks the socks off of me about posting my opinions about hot topics such as "Schools: What Needs Fixin'." I mean, clearly: there are very disturbed and angry people in the world who would like to watch most, if not all, public school teachers burn at the stake simply because they feel we should work both June and July (we do, just not as consistently as those in Corporate America). I don't know if I actually wish to interact with this type of human sludge, online or off.

So I’m still thinking about the Writing Project also.

The Wrap Up: I’ve done nothing too tangible since my last post, aside from the casual 5K. But I’ve done a lot of mulling, and Spring Break is coming in 2 weeks, and that's a time I plan to be a busy, busy superbly productive little worker bee. Or not. I may just take a lot of naps. Even a bee's got to rest you know.

Essentially, what I think would be most helpful is if someone could just pay me to be on perpetual Spring Break. I do realize the mere suggestion of this will upset the Human Sludge out there--don't I also get 2 weeks off in December? But listen: if I was on Perpetual Spring Break, I could fit in my lazy teacher naps AND find more time to be a much more productive problem solver. Like, if I could just find that career, I swear I could totally find a way to find a way to pay off our soaring national debts, fix public schools, make Charlie Sheen consistently take his meds (the legitimate Rx kind, not the others), AND have all my laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away in a sophistically organized/color-coordinated manner. Oh, and my kitchen floor would stay spotless and my toilets would shine.

I also feel slightly confident I could write an entire book of short stories and possibly one widely panned (heh) cookbook, head up 3 very popular social groups, “run” a good-cause 5K once a week, and lobby to get myself hired as a Teachers’ Perspective columnist for a nationally syndicated, well-respected newspaper and/or online news blog. All I need is someone to fund my Perpetually On Spring Break Problem Solver grant. I'm mulling over auctioning off my idea on ebay, in the hopes some crazy, rich dude with way too much time on his hands (*cough* i'm looking at YOU, Charlie Sheen *cough*) agrees to fund my most excellent plan.


Tanner May (Tanya) said...

First of all, NICE job on your "casual 5K," and good luck on your speedy one!

I think you have some kick-A ideas so if you're asking, then I vote YES. Do it. Your real name will rejoice, and people will be talking about "did you hear what Amy S.... siad this morning? It was rockin spot on...."

I also will vote for your perpetual spring break. You clearly have so much to offer this fine(ish) world of ours that you, my super cool well versed friend, need NEED this time to do our nation and children a service overdue. I am totally TEAM AMY!

Also, for the record, if you can get Charlie Sheen to take his legal meds as Rx, I believe you will be a miracle worker. I am rooting for Charlie fyi..... poor over the top out of touch Charlie.

Further, I particularly like the Gerard Butler group so I would like to sign up for this when it's a go.

Rock on COFFEE-mate Amy!!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Checking in on COFFEE this am... realizing I had more misspellings in my hasty response yesterday. I am just going to admit it. I have a LOT of typos without spell check.

That is all. Oh, and I am not a detail person, really.

Ok, still TEAM AMY! Woo, rock on. :)

Wendy said...

Amy, I don't think you should strive for shiny toilets - Even tho it frustrates you, your occasional scatteredness is what makes you so quirky and funny and artistic and human.

Sometimes I feel like I tend to give too much advice, so I apologize if I sound overbearing, but ... I had a few ideas as I read your blog.
I agree that Craigslist tends to attract some wierdos (of which I am undoubtedly one), and I've never actually used meetup.com... but what if you did a social club that was populated more by word-of-mouth? Like solicit a few of your friends and have them each bring a couple of their friends and have them each bring a couple, etc?

Also, it seems like you're a big thinker and your ideas cover every polar coordinate on the map (in terms of writing). I have this problem too... I think in giant blotches of color rather than in small strokes because the idea of doing so feels somehow...like if I narrow my field vision I'm somehow compromising/limiting/pidgeonholing myself. Or maybe I just use that for an excuse to procrastinate. Point is, maybe you could start listing out some tangible, concrete ideas for your writing. Like, you could do a review/editorial type opinion piece based on the documentary "Waiting for Superman" as a vehicle to air your ideas on the public school system? I bet that would be really good and I for one, would love hearing your perspective.

Anyway, them's my thoughts. I would LOVE reading anything you wrote.

PS. Naps are also way underrated. We should form a group called Naps Without Apology.

amy said...

Tangy-T! Thank you so much. I'm glad I'm not the only one who checks in on coffee in the morning (it's part of my ritual now...and sometimes over lunch...and occasionally after dinner) (I get a little obsessive if I don't have enough to do).

Didn't even notice the misspellings, I was too excited about getting you on my TEAM! If I create a Lurid Fantasies about Gerard Butler group, I'm signing you up!

Wendy--you could never be overbearing, never. You are way too helpful, and always do such thoughtful, sweet comments with much insight.

YES! that is what I do--think in big, giant color blotches. I've always called it scattered, but I like your take on it much better. That's much friendlier and gentler.

I do need to sit down and list tangible, concrete writing ideas. I will do this, too, with the social group thing--and start thinking about how and where to send out some offline feelers.

Thanks much, you two!

Angie said...

I met some of my very best friends in the world (one of whom is named Amy!) at a series of all-female potlucks a friend of mine used to throw on the first Tuesday of the month. The rule was, bring something to grub, and someone who you think is cool. The rest is history! (Just wanted to pass that along, in case it might be fodder for some social group inspiration.)

Please do write some personal essays! They don't have to be all structured and topic-y. They could be more like - ahem - blog posts or something. (Ahem.)

And if you find a way to get someone to pay you to be on perpetual spring break, please, PLEASE let me in on it. I think I have a lot of potential in the areas of napping and rumination.

patresa said...

high five to a having a fun 5K! sounds just great!

i like where you're going with this social meet up plan. i also really like the suggestions from wendy and angie about invite a couple who invite a couple who invite a couple. i think you will make a fantastic host, and if i lived closer i would totally party crash.

writing. ugh. i relate to this on a deep deep deep level. i don't know how to fix it. i wish i did. but today i decided to make MAJOR PROGRESS on a writing project, and I have yet to touch it. it is 3:30 p.m.

perpetual spring break. yes, please.

Katie said...

Amy!! You are so witty and clever, and it makes me want to write witty and clever comments to live up to the bar, but I may fall short. First things first:

1. Craigslist: Totally heeb-worthy . I don't know why. Maybe it's the unappealing format, but it makes me think some dude is sitting in his basement in his underwear typing up ads to lure women to the front porch where he can spy on them through the camera installed in the welcome mat. Gross.

2. 5k! Woo!! Socializing is half the fun. Well, if I'm honest, it's most of the fun. And the great snacks they have afterward where if you pant real hard and dab at your forehead people will stroll by and say "good race." It's a nice boost.

3. Social group!! Yeah, socializing for profit sounds a little weird to me. I'm all for Tupperware parties and everything, but this sounds a little like inviting people to a party and taking away the exciting opportunity to buy clever food storage options, but still charging cover. I don't know if I'd be down with that. And I'd totally be on board with a group that had anything to do with napping. Preferably daily, and for many hours.

4. Writing: I'm not a writer, but I AM a procrastinater/avoider. I got through school by writing down the due dates of stuff, and then being super surprised when it turns out to be tomorrow. Works every time. As my friend Andrea says, "I do my best work under pressure, and drunk." Words to live by. I tried to have a blog once, but it got to be too hard to maintain because I liked when people would comment on stuff, but realized I needed to keep adding things so that people could comment. It got to be too much work. I think I posted four times, which may tell you something about my overal level of persistence. But I LIKE reading other peoples' blogs, and would totally read and support your personal essays. And if there were any sludgy comments I would start a big internet fight using words with a*tericks in them so people wouldn't be randomly offended, but would know I mean business!!

5. Toilets are supposed to shine?? Well, shit. The household cleanliness bar slips one more notch for the Neubauers...

6. Charlie Sheen is a weirdo. Unfortunately he's a weirdo with money which means other weirdos listen to him. That man needs a padded room and an involuntary iv drip.

To conclude: Amy is great!!

Steph said...

Amy...KUDOS to you for the 5K - the one done AND your plans for a faster one!!! Team Amy for sure!
I'm still totally intimidated by you - forming your own social group! YIKERS! Scary stuff! I think it takes real, um... GUTS (there we go! Whew!) to take that on! I like the suggestion about the once monthly potluck! A. LOT. No pressure. Just food & conversation, at least to start. After some time, I bet you'd find a good, solid core group of people with similar interests that you could build a quality social group out of! :) Hmmm... food for thought!
P.S. I don't blame you for being a little weary of jumping into an already formed group! I'd like a voice in how things were done, too, if I were ever brave enough to tackle this.
Writing... oh, writing... yeah. Exactly. Big. dramatic. sigh.....
The whole perpetual spring break thing appeals to the very core of who I am. Truly... I'm fairly certain I could make this into an art form. Fact. Ugh.
Hang in there, and GOOD LUCK!

T-Free said...

Way to go on completing the 5K! I love your casual attitude, and am so impressed that you kept the FUN in the whole process. Exercise should always be enjoyable. Really impressive feat (and feet!), lady!

I am so fascinated by your social group experiment. I am such a shy, social chicken, and think you are immeasurably brave for undertaking such a challenge. Craigslist gives me the heebs too. I don't even like to sell things on there anymore. I always get the crazies.

Do bookstores have bulletin boards where people can get together to form book clubs? That would be such a cool way to meet local bookish, like-minded people.

The internet is a dangerous procrastination tool for me too. I limit myself to commenting in two website forums - this one and The Nervous Breakdown - and that's it. I have also recently started restricting my Facebook time to two half-hour check-ins a day: one in the morning and one in the evening. I have to stay vigilant and clock watch when I'm online, too, or I will try to push it like a naughty child. So sad.

Let me know if Charlie Sheen decides to fund your Perpetually On Spring Break Problem Solver grant. I have a Perpetually Lazy Mother of a Five-Year-Old Writing Schedule funding proposal at which I'd like him to take a look. :)