Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Penalty Lap!

Hey guys! Did you notice I missed yesterday's post? I say that to the larger world of unlikely stoic readership, but realize that for many - nahhh, it was no big deal. It was for me though, as it constitutes a break in the Lent pact, but one for which I'm willing to take the heat. I will either have to have a day with two posts to make up for this OUTRAGE, or I'll have to go a day longer. Somewhere the penalty lap will be calculated. Much like the winter olympic biathlon - no target can be missed without penalty.

Really, I already believe I've written an aside about my love of the biathlon somewhere in days past, but here I go again. Combining guns and skiing! Amazing! And it involves a penalty lap system and, for my money, most closely resembles a drinking game in its machinations. If you miss a target (after skiing to it with your RIFLE on your back), you have to take a penalty lap. So the sport involves endurance strategy, precision marksmanship from a variety of positions, and sprint skiing, depending on one's aim. What a sport! And I generally hate guns!

Much like those athletes, please know I am aware that at some point, I have to take a lap before moving forward. Publicly acknowledged and intention to pursue action declared.

Why did I fail (totes epic fail callback!), you ask? Drinking on a Tuesday! Behaving like it was Friday! Woo!

At the beginning of the week, my coworkers and I found little cards advertising our employer's mental health services that posed the question, in bold no less, What does it mean to be mentally healthy?

Great question. And the answer? Well that was provided with a checklist that included actual check marks as bullet points (which I apologize for being unable to simulate here).

"Mentally healthy people...
  • Feel good about themselves
  • Feel comfortable with and relate well to others
  • Meet the demands of life with relative success"
Upon reflection, I realized WHOA! I sure don't think I'm checkin' those check boxes in pen. And pencil seems like way too much commitment. Um, could you be more specific about "demands" and "relative"? And when you say "good" does that mean like, absence of flu-like symptoms? Or do you mean able to make it a week at work without having to give oneself a pep talk about not crying at one's desk? Or like, being able to look down when in the shower without giving oneself a pep talk? And when you say "relate" does that mean like, by blood? General success at sharing genetic material with "others"? Because, yep! Yep, I feel comfortable that I do do that. And I would even say I do it well. Being related to other people actually contributes greatly to my "relative success." It's awesome! I'm so related. I've got like, four first cousins and then a bunch of other folks stray down the DNA. Also if "others" involves imaginary conversations I have with either real people I see in the real world, or characters in my imagination, or say, the Microsoft Office helper dog I've named Bobbydog who spends a great deal of time on my desktop (he reads books! he's hilarious!), then yessss. Yes, I relate the hell out of others. All the time.

But with a little more thought and some discussion in my immediate cubicle zone, we determined no, that's probably not what they meant. So when the opportunity to go to an inter-collegiate alumni group event became available to me, I decided to challenge my mental health and go, knowing my preference for my couch and television would really not lead me to more actual "relative success" than it already had. And THAT, is how I ended up drinking drinks on a Tuesday. At cut rate prices. And I even interacted with others! Due in no small part to the drinks! And name tags! Wonder of wonders! I might need to sharpen a pencil to get ready to make a mark next to bullet point two there. Baby steps.

When I got home from this adventure, I decided to make myself a delicious, post-midnight omelet, like ya do. I noticed the piles of mail strewn across the coffee table, left idling near the t.v. remote I usually cradle like a baby. I was reckless with my spatula work, and I didn't care! Those eggs could wait until tomorrow to be scraped from the pan and the stove top. I was going to throw my jeans in a heap with the rest of the clothes I'd been wearing this week - whatever man, I had just related. This mess would be here tomorrow, and that's when I could be a responsible little apartment dweller without anyone knowing the difference.

Well, imagine my dismay when I arrived home today feeling the pain of having slept about three hours less than I normally do on Tuesday nights, having drunk several more cut-rate beers than I normally do on a Tuesday night, just ready to get back on that couch and let that t.v. remote know it had not lost its control over my emotions, and realized the handyman and my building manager had been in my possibly tornado-struck-mess-level apartment to fix a fuse unannounced. Well, they may have literally been walking on egg shells, but at least they didn't have to feel bad adding paint chips to the shitstorm. For several moments, I did not feel good about myself. I did not feel comfortable about how the state of my home had related to others. I did not feel like I'd met the demands of life (surpassing "squalor" in the apt descriptor of your home's cleanliness has to be on a list somewhere, right?) with relative success. And I thought, oh crap, I didn't write either, I have got to clean up my act. But then I got on the couch, and realized I had not the night before and thought eh, no one's perfect? I can relate.

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