Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Degree of difficulty.

I was going to be cute and write a blog about my new Lilly Pulitzer catalogue, but it only worked if the pictures were attached. As of five minutes ago, the computer and I have agreed to start seeing other people and try to forget that I ever thought attaching photos throughout a blog was a good idea. In the meanwhile, here's a little re-run from two and a half years ago.

“Must you do everything the hard way?” my mother asked, in a tone that mixed irritation, exhaustion, and something akin to awe.

I was six years old, and while I remember the question vividly, I am not entirely certain of the inciting incident. It may have been when I spilled cereal all over the floor at breakfast, and had to clean it up. When Mother came back into the room twenty minutes later, I was found taking one Froot Loop at a time to the trash can. I was using her good tweezers. I was also balancing my cereal bowl on my head, as a new way of getting it to the sink.

Or it could have been any one of a hundred times that my problem-solving skills gave my loved ones tension headaches. I remember the question because I stopped whatever crazy-making behavior I was doing to think “Wow, I guess this was the hard way, now that you mention it”. It might have even occurred to me that the solutions of other people didn’t seem to require secondary solutions as often as mine did. But, the moment passed, and I picked up the tweezers again.Like so many of my quirks, it begins in a place of reasonably normal behavior.

The trouble seems to come with the phrase “Yes, and…” If other people feel confident getting one problem fixed with one solution, I simply cannot rest until several problems are getting corrected at the same time. The solution will get more and more extended and ill-conceived until it is creating smaller problems of its own. For example, one morning last week along with the usual morning school run, I had to get the dog to the vet, the library books returned, the dry-cleaning to the cleaners and, most critically, a bag of valentines and a tray of pink cupcakes for the school party for Valentine’s Day.

Any person old enough to understand the concept of gravity would have made more than one run to the car. But not me; my cunning little brain deemed several trips of fifteen feet to the car “Completely unnecessary”. Why, once I tied the dogs’ leash to my wrist, looped the library bag over the same arm, and carried the dry-cleaning bag in my teeth, I had scads of room to balance a tray of frosted cupcakes on my other forearm while tucking the bag of valentines under my chin! And who doesn’t enjoy yelling “Come ON” to your child through the straps of a canvas bag while trying to maintain balance while a dog maniacally tries to get the squirrel that is taunting her from a tree across the street?

The Goddess who watches over mothers allowed me to not drop the cupcakes, although I was begging for such an event. I was only left with bruises on my arm from the leash and the library bag, and a lingering taste of canvas in my mouth for the rest of the day. But, damnit, I only made one trip.

Sometimes, I can even feel myself losing the battle. I can see, clearly, where others might have stopped, and have been perfectly content with the outcome. But onwards I plunge, with only the voices in my head for company. When asked what she wanted for the theme of her third birthday, Daughter requested an Animal Tea Party. This was to be a very low-key birthday party, just a few friends from the neighborhood, so I decided that I could bake the cake.

REASONABLE QUINN: Just get a sheet cake; the kids only want the frosting, anyway. If you are feeling fancy, buy animal-shaped candles.

OTHER QUINN: You know what would be totally cute? A cupcake for each guest.

RQ: Sure, you can buy that.

OQ: Or, we could make them at home. No, wait. I could make them in those little molds that I have been saving.

RQ: Or, you could buy them. Put some sprinkles on them yourself. Better yet, just serve the children cups of frosting, if you really want to make them happy.

OQ: OH MY GOD! I had the best idea. I will make each little cake look like a garden, and I will put a homemade frosted animal cookie on it. Standing up. With candied violets in the mini-cake garden.

RQ: Are you even aware that I’m here?

Her birthday is in summer. It was a warm day. I was found in our kitchen screaming at small animal cookies because they wouldn’t stay upright in their frosting grass, which was melting. Consort gently led me to our bedroom, and put a cold compress on my neck until I stopped sobbing. The children ate the green frosting, and left the virtually untouched small cakes scattered throughout the backyard, creating an Easter egg hunt for the dog for weeks to come. I still can’t look at those molds without shuddering. And still I learn nothing. Tomorrow I have a lunch meeting across town. I am taking with me two things that need dropping off. They don’t need dropping off anywhere near where I am going, you understand.

But, damnit, I will make only one trip.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my case, life is not a bowl of cherries -- it's a tray of precariously balanced cupcakes.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn...I love you. I know saying this may seem a bit premature being that we don't know each other, but the thing is...you make me laugh out loud. I look forward to every new post you make because I know that no matter what kind of day I'm having I will read your post and laugh out loud. I heard somewhere that laughing extends your life. Life is good and I want it extended...so thanks for your help!

11:37 AM  
Blogger Melodee said...

Now, I wouldn't stoop to tweezers (or with tweezers, as the case may be), but I find making one trip entirely reasonable . . . which perhaps speaks to my mental health. (Yes, that's me carrying in twenty bags of groceries at one time.)

9:57 AM  
Blogger Doc's Girl said...

I just love reading your blog, I'm always laughing. :)

The bf and I have three flights of stairs in our condo and you'd think that we would have come to terms with that fact by now...but we still try to take all the groceries up in one trip. Sometimes, it works...sometimes, it doesn't. But, when it does, we do high five each other. :-P

I'm going to get a kick out of it when we sell years from now and the potential buyers ask, "so, how are the stairs?" :-D :-D

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. Have to say it... it is 4 in the AM and I am a JH principle up and kvetching about the beginning of school in a day, and I forgot to check your new post. As usual, very funny and enjoyable. BUT, your comment about writing something about your new Lily Pulitzer catelogue made me look up the website (told you I was up in the middle of the night).

AHHHHH. Freakish and a little worrisome. (Not to mention pricey.)

You have mentioned Lily Pulitzer before, and having grown up as a proper southern girl from small-town-but-big-snob life, I remember the label from years past.

Somehow the Lily Pulitzer pants you mentioned wearing in another blog and your commentary on the butts of the working poor do not reflect well on your perspective of the average REAL woman. Guess you never claimed to be, but your sense of humor makes you sound like you have a good perspective on real life. Eeeeek. Someone with your intelligence and sense of humor needs to get her head out of the California sun long enough to register that fabrics named "sorority social" and "You don't Know Jackard" and "Prom Committee" and "Palm Beach Camel the In Crowd" all make the wearer look as, well, stuck-up and elitist as the intent must be.

Careful. You sound too real and too cool to make this one part of your repetoire. Please don't turn out to be the lass whose wealth drives a huge wedge between sense and sense of humor and, well, real perspective. You might be more like that lady you met at that pool party than you think.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was what we did at our last birthday party. There were two groups and one contest. The "losers" had to put their cake and icecream in the blender and drink he concoction, which in the eyes of little girls, actually made them the "winners". See how that works?


7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what we did at our last birthday party. There were two groups and some contest. The "losers" of the contest had to put their cake and icecream in the blender and drink the concoction, which in the eyes of little girls, made them the "winners". See how that works?


7:30 AM  

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