Failure

I dislike failure. Not failure in general, but failure as it relates to me. If someone else fails, it’s interesting; if someone fails hard, it’s really interesting; and if I dislike that person and they fail hard, it’s almost rewarding (terrible human being = me). But if I fail, it’s the apocalypse.

It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular that I fail at, it could be a new recipe I try or a glaringly obvious and inappropriate typo in a work email. My mind starts reeling with what a pathetic human being I am and how it’s remarkable I’m permitted to walk the earth with such an incredible stench of failure encompassing me and all within a 10-foot radius of my incredible suckiness as a person.

I do not fail at a flair for the dramatic. This, indeed, I excel at.

Often, I find that I’d rather not try at something rather than fail. One could argue that technically, not trying means an automatic fail. But even more technically, one could argue that you can’t fail at something you don’t try. Moot point?

The situation I am faced with now is the worst kind of failure—the kind where failure was the unexpected outcome.

Oh confidence. You tricked me!

Before I continue on, I confess, I’m wary to share my failure. To any other person who isn’t me or isn’t involved in my little world it will seem like peanuts. And I mean peanuts to someone who likes peanuts, salted and unsalted, and not to someone who is allergic.

I’m a self-proclaimed ballerina, and I use the word “ballerina” very liberally. Three years ago, I put on ballet slippers and have casually haunted dance studios ever since. Yes, at the overripe age of 30, I’m getting my repressed ballerina on.

When my husband, child, and two cats moved to a new, smaller community, I found the best way to dance was to join in on the middle and high school classes. Because of my immaturity, I fit right in with the tweens and teens.

These classes require exams. I like to work for something, so I participate in these evaluations. I’ve been trucking through the ballet levels, surpassing my “peers,” but apparently too fast. My most recent exam resulted with an “F.” The only class I ever got an “F” in was 9th grade geometry, and let’s be honest, when do I ever use geometry? Shapes are dumb.

On the bright side, if this can be considered a bright side, I’m in good company. Half my class failed the exam and the other half of the class received what is known as a “pass conditional.” Dancers that fail together, um, stay together? At least to repeat the level!

I feel the failure hits me harder because of my age in relation to my fellow dancers. It’s embarrassing. These girls look up to me even though they are mostly taller than me (figurative look ups, everyone!). I feel like an idol fallen from grace, a loser, a coming-of-age disappointment to a generation.

Pride takes the worst hit when faced with failure.

The emotional result is that I’m ashamed I ever undertook trying to make my ballet dreams come true. What can it achieve but heartache and sore toes? But it doesn’t stop there, it shakes my confidence in everything I want to do, and let me tell you, I have been bit by the project, entrepreneurial, creative bug and I need all the courage and chutzpah I can muster to make it happen.

The idea of failing stops me in my tracks.

So what’s a fallen ballerina to do? Quit and cut my losses?

My dance teacher told me the best analogy to get me through this difficult time. She said that if I have a car with a flat tire, I don’t puncture holes in the other three.

So, it’s time to get the spare out, drive to the nearest service station, and get everything rearing to go because the road trip isn’t over yet.

Here’s to further failures, successes, and all the mediocrity in between!

You tell it like it is, Yoda!

You tell it like it is, Yoda!

Inspector Gadget, apparently Canadian

As a child, among my after-school diet of television shows was included a generous helping of Inspector Gadget. Since Netflix released a new version of the show this year and since I have a toddler, I felt it incumbent of me to watch. My child in the room while watching–not mandatory.

Inspector-Gadget-2015

I learned a few things about the show that I never realized–IT’S CANADIAN. Who knew? It’s like all those HGTV shows I watch–CANADIAN. It’s not that I have anything but respect for Canada, but just like the good, egocentric American I am, I assume that everything on TV is American and uses Australian actors with better US accents than my own.

Another fact I had no idea about was that when I watched the original Inspector Gadget as a child, it was in syndication. The original created in 1983, two years before my first birthday. I thought that me and my peers had this epic, they-don’t-make-kid’s-shows-like-they-used-to cartoon, but really, it was about ten years after the first episode aired that I jumped in the Gadgetmobile.

Among other secrets uncovered, in the process of binge-watching the new series, my husband and I began pondering the origins of the Inspector, and we found this crazy theory about his origin:

“Inspector Gadget is a cyborg detective with a seemingly endless supply of gadgets. Inspector Gadget hasn’t always been a cyborg, he had to be Human at one point, right?Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if the guy who became a cyborg actually has the last name, Gadget? If this person did have a name before becoming a cyborg, we don’t know and it likely wasn’t “Gadget”. Whoever he was, he was a regular human who likely worked for the cops. This theory states that something happened to him. Some terrible accident. Some explosion or collapse that left him completely destroyed. Once the cops found this, the chief decided to do something never before attempted. They used the newest and most secret technology to recreate this man with super human powers. They programmed this robot version of the inspector to look and sound just like him, even to think like him. He was programmed with the very best AI and all.

“He continued working for the company, even watched over his niece and dog, just like the real human version did. The only problem with all of this was that he didn’t die in the accident. No, the real human version survived, only he was changed. The accident deformed him, warped his brain, and made him see things differently. Once he discovered that they had replaced him with a robot doppelganger, he swore to destroy it no matter what it took. They had taken his life away and replaced it with a robot, that they now call Inspector Gadget. The human version decided to use everything he had and knew to fight against this robot version, and to do evil to the company that had ruined his life. He also changed his name. Now he is known as Dr. Claw. You never see his face because it is the face of Inspector Gadget, only deformed from the accident.”

Mind blown.

Back to the Netflix series–I find it vastly entertaining. I realize Inspector Gadget purists might be far too nostalgic to appreciate the re-creation, but I feel the creators did a good job adapting a more modern take with a different animation style. A few new characters and the old favorites. It didn’t feel like it was trying to relive the 1980s glory days but still honor them while reaching out to the 21st Century audience.

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat...

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat…

My favorite thing about the new show is Mad Cat. The clever animated nuances of that fat cat are just, as the kids say these days, adorbs. I very badly want a massive plush Mad Cat for my desk, not to assist in foiling any Canadian Intelligence plans, but just because I’m a ten-year-old stuck in a thirty-year-old body and I need that reminder in my 9-5 work day.

Speaking of work, “Go Go Gadget get back to work and stop reminiscing about childhood television shows!”

Because I am an adult

This morning I looked at the nearly empty fridge and thought, “I’m soooo hungry and there is NOTHING to eat.”

funny toastI looked at the boxes of Cheerios, the whole grain bread, the frozen pizza, and then last night’s dinner. Spaghetti it was!

I can have spaghetti for breakfast. Why? Because I am almost 30 and no one can tell me what is appropriate for breakfast!

Screw you cheerios! Screw you toast! Toast, you don’t even fill me up, you are just bread that’s been toasted which is why you are called toast—how original.

It’s not just breakfast I have autonomy over. I can watch whatever I want on Netflix, go to bed when I like, call in sick to work, and mismatch my socks.

As a new mom, I justify all the years I couldn’t have spaghetti or ice cream for breakfast by making my own child suffer as I once did. Little Gingerguppy has a bed time, is not allowed to watch anything ever, eats “appropriate” breakfast choices, and must get me cards on Mother’s Day.

It’s my way of paying it forward by ensuring that by the time the little guy is closing in on 30, he will appreciate spaghetti at breakfast as much as I do now.

I use words goodly

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Find a degree in English, Philosophy, and Theater in every box! Plus a temporary tattoo!

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English. I swear, they give those things out in Cracker Jack boxes.

I kid! I kid! Put your spatulas at ease, fellow English majors, those burgers don’t flip themselves!

Seriously, I loved, and still love, everything English, it’s my native tongue after all. What I mean is, I love literature and grammar and writing and being pretentious. Apparently, I also love not knowing what to do with my life, why else choose such an ambiguous degree to pursue?

Even with that certificate authenticating that I made it through four years at a reputable institution, charming my professors through long-winded essays that never came to any conclusion on anything conclusive, I must confess, I am a sham.

Yes, a sham. You may even see it in the way I write my blog sometimes. Not only do I make up my own grammar rules, sometimes I use a word so grossly incorrectly that the only thing that can be deduced is that I took an existing word and made it into a new word, devoid of it’s prior association. I’m that good.

It doesn’t stop there. You should hear me talk. I don’t even pronounce words correctly. For 28.5 years, I pronounced the word placate as “play-sate.” My husband first pointed it out to me, and I told him he was an idiot (I have a BA in English after all, from Penn State!). Well, he was, and is, correct, but I still can’t kick the habit. It’s far too entrenched in my brain. This mispronunciation is inoperable.

I have no idea what I would do at work without Grammar Girl. She is my savior whenever I forget the rules of capitalization in a title, which is everyday. How am I even employed?

I know I have faults as a writer (I’m talking about you, passive voice! ) and I’ve come to terms with it. Mostly because I don’t even notice my bad habits at this point—they are far too habitual. I don’t even want to change.

Perhaps I justify this with the compliment I received from the best professor I ever had, in the best class I ever took, and the only class I never skipped (creative writing, of course). All the students had to write a piece of fiction and critique every individual’s short story—mine was naturally the longest by a good 15 pages (remember, lover of passive voice here). The teacher said, “after reading Gingermermaid’s, did it really seem like 25 pages?” And the class was like, “no! How magical!” And he was like, “style…blah blah blah…genius…blah blah blah…A+++++” or something along those lines, I’m sure of it.

Look, I’m no Thomas Hardy (my personal favorite) or Shakespeare (thank goodness) or Suzanne Collins (nom nom nom games), I’m just me. A girl with a degree in English who works in the unrelated topics of the Middle East and Africa, who disregards the grammar rules that I don’t agree with (or remember), and a girl who should never ever teach English to anybody—ever. A girl with a blog I can abuse with words.

 

Wedding season, open them wallets

Mr. Gingermermaid and I did not have a conventional wedding with the “save the date” magnets, and the flowers, and the bridal parties, and the chicken or fish, and the showers, and the church. We got married, somewhat in secret, in my childhood home with just our immediate family and one very close friend.

We didn't things totally traditionally, but gorilla warfare of birdseed did happen.

We didn’t do things totally traditionally, but gorilla warfare of birdseed did happen.

Our circumstances weren’t necessarily unique by today’s standards, but at 6 months pregnant, after finding out extremely late in the game, we chose to have a ceremony before, rather than after the birth of our son and decided that the money towards the wedding would go to something more practical, like a down payment on a house or our child’s future. So boring, I know.

We don’t regret it for one second. If we did it all over again, there would still be no chicken or fish.

With wedding season in full swing now, and at the verge of 30, many of our friends are sealing their relationship with that certificate of ownership. Faced with attending wedding after wedding, we are finding that the tradition and culture we reject, and our peers embrace, is incredibly irritating and costly.

Issue 1, Babysitters

My husband and I are the first among our friends to have a child, and as cliche as it may be, it’s the truest statement ever stated: you don’t get it until you have kids (hate me now, I would too).

When we get invited to weddings where there are no kids allowed, or where we have to travel far, it can be a logistical nightmare. It’s not like we can leave the kid at home with a stack of TV dinners and the Netflix password. We have to arrange for his coming or not coming.

  1. Travelling in a plane or car for any period of time with little people, not easy. Who wants to sit next to the baby on the plane? Not me, in fact, I would put my kid in the front and sit in the back if I could. Dear flight attendant and passenger in seat F3, your problem now.
  2. Packing for a child to go on a trip is almost like moving from a house to a studio apartment, too much stuff and not enough space.
  3. Not every family has grandparents or siblings on the ready who can take a child in for an evening let alone a weekend or more. And contrary to popular belief, mainly just my friends’ belief, babysitters don’t fall out of the sky and they certainly don’t do so cheaply.

Issue 2, Party Time

When a wedding is announced, about a half dozen other events are also announced: engagement party, wedding shower, bridal shower, bachelorette party, bachelor party, wedding. Because I have the pleasure of being friends with this person, I’m expected to work all these events into my schedule, taking my few but precious vacation days, and bring along a gift per event. If I don’t, betrothal drama!

My husband has been invited to countless bachelor parties in his days, but the most recent affair was a bit too much. It was a 5 to 6 hour drive away and 4 days long. The initial cost for the affair was $700 per person to cover the escapade.

$700 and 4 days! My husband and I would prefer to go on vacation together, put in a new water heater, cover day care costs, or pay the mortgage on our new house rather than spend it on a party. There is absolutely nothing a bachelor party offers that can’t be done locally or in one evening for a fraction of the cost. Bachelor/ette parties are excuses to get be college drunk and see strippers. The guise of “I’m getting married, one last hurrah!” does not need to exist for this to happen.

Mr. Gingermermaid made the trip to this particular bachelor shindig for one night. We had other plans that weekend to work around and leaving a parent alone for an extended period of time with a baby is not easy (props to you single parents). My hubby took a lot of flack for this.

Issue 3, Gifts!

While visiting friends, an early wedding gift arrived for them while we happened to be in their company. The gift was not what at the monetary level they expected from these particular guests. They mocked the gift and the cheapasaureses who purchased it (from the wedding registry).

Gifts at weddings were established as a way to give a married couple a start. There used to be a time when engaged couples all lived at home with their respective mom and dad. No cohabitation until the exchange of vows. Post-wedding, the newlyweds moved into a new home with nothing. Nothing. So gifts like plates, toasters, and towels were a way to give couples a base to establish their home and life together.

Nowadays, almost every couple lives together and has more than enough clutter. Gifts of money are becoming the norm. I recently wrote a check for $50 to newly wedded couple that are millionaires. I felt like I was throwing a cup of water into the ocean.

Gifts are not mandatory, contrary to popular culture, especially when the cost to attend the wedding is a financial burden in itself. Some invitations even state that presence is enough and presents are not necessary. I’m not sure if many newlyweds believe that.

The cost of attending/being a part of the wedding add up:

  • engagement party gifts
  • wedding shower gifts
  • bridal shower gifts
  • bachelor/ette party costs/gifts
  • wedding gifts
  • bridal/groom party rentals, purchases (I believe brides/grooms should cover most of these costs)
  • hotel costs
  • travel costs
  • time costs

There’s also this concept of tit for tat. Many of the weddings we’ve attended and consecrated gifts for, we have never received a reciprocal consideration. No  “congratulations” card let alone a check or gift ,and we didn’t even make them spend a dime on attending*.

*People criticized us for not having a wedding because we wouldn’t receive gifts/money. Husband and I thought the cost of having a wedding versus the possible “profit” of throwing a soiree were ridiculous. We never expected anything, and still don’t, but we don’t like having expectations thrown on us with an exceptional flair for the dramatic when the same consideration is not extended.

Issue 4, It’s all the same

Weddings are generic. There is this equation that hotels, wedding planners, and tradition mixed together. Weddings that attempt to be unique still follow the basic formula.

  1. Photographer takes staged photos of prep.
  2. Ceremony.
  3. More staged photography.
  4. Reception begins with snacks and drinks.
  5. Mr. and Mrs. (or Mr. and Mr. or Mrs. and Mrs.) enter.
  6. Awkward speeches.
  7. Father/daughter, Mother/son dances
  8. Awkward speeches.
  9. Dinner with linen covered seats and garish bows and tables with ugly flower displays.
  10. Cake smash!
  11. Dancing.
  12. Hangover.

For a grand total of $25k.

The real definer if the wedding is fun and worth all the hubbub? Open bar.

Issue 5, Divorce

It happens. We all go through the wedding hoopla and then a few years, or even months, down the way, the couple splits. It sucks for the couple and it sucks for the guests. Essentially the money and gifts given become collateral in the divorce proceedings.

Look, I venture to guess that most people who are getting married do not anticipate a divorce. Otherwise, why marry?

But in the cases that the relationships are rocky prior to any aisle trotting, it’s important to consider the whole picture. I knew of a couple that wasn’t sure if they should go through with the wedding or not. After all the planning and people RSVPing and making their plane/hotel reservations and blah blah blah, they figured they could work on their issues after the ceremony, right? So they married. Four months later? Seperated and well on the way to signing divorce papers.

Do the guests a favor, save their time and money and call it off. A teetering couple is going to lose out bigger if they go through with the wedding.

Issue 6, What we all want

Cake smash! Nom nom nom!

Cake smash! Nom nom nom!

The Gingermermaids are very happy with the way our wedding went down. We embraced a few cutsie traditions for our parents (and me too) but ultimately we didn’t want much more than that. We support that our friends do want the whole deal and we’ll participate in all the hoopla and spend the dollars to rent a tux and get our hair done like everyone else. It’s their day, after all, and they are our friends and we want to support them in their commitment to one another.

Some people take our perception of weddings as resentment that we didn’t get to do things the traditional way because of little Gingerguppy. When people tell me that I really want to have a wedding, a bachelorette party, a honeymoon, I want to tell them that what I really want to do is punch them in the face for not respecting my viewpoint. Not everyone wants what everyone else wants, like I’m sure that person doesn’t want me to punch them in the face even though I really, really want that, far more than a wedding.

One final note, weddings shouldn’t be the best day of anyone’s life, the future together should hold far better days. We don’t want to start our life at the climax of our time together, we want it to only get better.

 

Blogger’s Note: I embraced the following kitschy things: a dress that fit over Gingerguppy, sunflower bouquet, birdseed (which I hated and am still pulling little seeds from my hair), photographer, flower girls (because my nieces really wanted it), and cake smash! If you read my post about my own wedding, you may find some hypocritical statements to what I’ve made here. I’m not perfect 😉