How Excited Am I? Let Me Count the Ways

I’ve been telling everybody about my book. It’s a pretty short conversation, but I’m too excited to keep it to myself. (A book! I published a book! Me! Isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it interesting? A whole book! Novellas count!)

Most of these conversations end in general congratulations (which I love, don’t get me wrong), but some, besides being flattering to my ego, are hilarious as well.

Today, when the UPS guy came in with our first delivery, I started bouncing in my chair. (I did say I’m telling everybody, right?)

Me: “Guess what?”

Him: “You’re a nut?”

Me: “Well, that too. But I published a book!”

Him: “A book?! Really? Where can I find this book?”

Me: “On Amazon!”

Him: “What’s it called?”

Me: (Thinking he probably won’t remember the title by the end of what’s probably a very long day for a UPS driver in Texas) “Just search for Rachel Wicker! I’m the only one there is!”

Him: “Thank goodness for that.”

(This is the same UPS driver who, for security/privacy/conspiracy reasons unknown refuses to reveal his name. So I call him Moriarty and he calls me Watson.)

(An aside for anyone concerned about the safety of the general public: My coworker worried that my swelling head would push her up against the wall of our shared office and squish her. I pointed out that she has a letter opener, so if my head gets that big, it should be easy to pop me.  She agreed that she’ll do that if she needs to, so the problem will be taken care of long before my head can swell big enough to throw Earth’s orbit out of balance and send us all spinning into fiery doom in the center of the sun. Which is good, because wouldn’t that be embarrassing? It’s nice to have coworkers you can count on in an emergency.)

Don’t Tempt the Narrative

I sat down to reconcile the bank statement this month feeling confident that all my records were up-to-date and complete.

“This is going to be e-” I said out loud, and stopped myself short.

For suddenly I felt the dark, cold, grim shadow of Narrative sweeping overhead, circling in for the kill.

It took half an hour to reconcile most of the statement.

It took three and a half hours past that to track down two small discrepancies between the bank records and the credit card processor’s reports.

Halfway through, in a fit of frustration (and mostly just in a fit), I shook my fist at the ceiling and yelled “What could possibly go wrong?!”

I probably made it worse on myself, but at least I took a stand, spat in Narrative’s eye, and dared it to Do Its Worst.

Which it did.

Lesson: Even when you’re 99% sure that your life is really happening in real life, and not between book covers, don’t tempt the Narrative. We all know what happens to Those People in movies – the ones who open the closed doors, who don’t listen to all the warnings to Don’t Go Near The Castle, who begin a war with the jaunty promise that It Will All Be Over By Christmas. Don’t be one of Those People.

The powers of Narrative are strange and mysterious… and after four hours of bank statement battle, extremely frustrating. Save yourself some drama and Tylenol and don’t tempt the Narrative.

What Will You Do to Prove You’re No Coward?

Dares haven’t moved me since I was seven or so.  I don’t care if anyone else thinks I’m a coward. Most people who care about dares are idiots. For evidence: the Darwin Awards.

But apparently I care a lot if I think I’m a coward.

I chickened out of something last week, and now I’m sorry.

I had an assignment from my business class to interview ten business owners. I talked to a few, but I didn’t talk to ten… mostly because calling strangers and asking them personal questions is outside my comfort zone.

Leaving the assignment incomplete bothered me, but not nearly as much as feeling like a coward.

So I started the new week looking for a way to prove my non-cowardice to myself.

And then someone announced a blood drive this Saturday.

Now, I have a thing about needles.

Not a fear of needles.

I assure you, when I walk across an empty parking lot after dark, I don’t look over my shoulder for any needles sneaking up on me. I don’t turn pale when I see a pack of needles in the craft section. When I was learning how to quilt and the sewing machine needle ran over my finger, it didn’t give me nightmares.

So not a fear.

But when the healthcare professionals in my life draw my blood to determine What’s Wrong With Her (‘There must be something to explain it,’ they say), I begin experiencing the following symptoms before the needle even touches my skin: shortness of breath, chills, dizziness, nausea, faintness, weakness, clamminess, blurred vision, buzzing in the ears….

It’s just a thing. Definitely not a phobia. Who needs one of those?

And I’m always very proud of the bandage they give me. Look! I want to say. I bled for this! And I didn’t even punch anybody for sticking a needle in me!

So, because it’s not comfortable to live with the ‘COWARD??’ label hanging around in my head, me and my thing are going to a blood drive this morning.

For the first time.

They’re going to take a whole pint.

(I am going to die.)

And maybe next time I need to do something uncomfortable, I’ll remember that it’ll be much less painful to do the uncomfortable thing now than to do the terrifying thing I come up with later to reassure myself of my non-cowardice.

I’m sure this says something about my character. Or my mental health.

Or both.

Wish me luck.

[Update: I live! And now I have this t-shirt. I won’t call it free, since I had to bleed for the darn thing, but it is a nice t-shirt. And with the COWARD label banished once more, all is well in the world. For now….. (ominous music)]