Excuses and Happy Accidents

“[T]he moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but I have a good excuse, really.

Over the years, there has been an ever-growing list of things I wanted to be when I got out of school and had to join the real world. The list was as varied as my interests were: Egyptologist, secretary, editor at a major publishing company. Under all those things, though, was my love of books and writing. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer. I knew, however, that writers didn’t make money (neither did archaeologists or secretaries, for that matter), and so I needed to find another profession, one that could feed and house me. After all, I am fond of food.

When I accidentally became the on-site coordinator for RJ‘s wedding (and loved it!), I realized that I could be an excellent event coordinator. It requires organization, the ability to multi-task, and flexibility when it comes to working hours. In many ways, it is the perfect job for me. Those of you who know me know that I tend to take on too many projects at once. I love being busy, and I like to be actively involved in organizations of which I am a part. This lifestyle of acquiring stray assignments means that I have all of the prerequisite traits of an event coordinator. The only flaw is that I hate crowds; parties, therefore, are not my ideal setting. I was determined, though. I had found a job that I could do. The only thing I needed was a client base (and a network of vendors).

Then one day, around two months after I received my BA, I was approached by an acquaintance of mine who owns a business. He needed someone to write articles and do website maintenance for his business, and a mutual acquaintance informed him that my degree was in English, and that I enjoyed writing. This began my career as a freelance writer and editor.

Since that time, I have been working to build a website to advertise my freelance services, as well as taking up writing and editing jobs that come my way. The work that has been my dream since I was eleven has finally become reality, partially through hard work on my part and partially through happy accident (also known as God). I now have the job that I have always believed was my calling.

What do you think? Is it a good enough excuse?

Adventures in Renovation

Because my father has retired, he and my mother want to move back into the house they lived in before Dad’s job transferred him, a.k.a. the house in which I grew up. They have been renting it out for three and a half years, though, so there is a lot of work to be done before it is livable again. Besides, it is a twenty-two year old house; it could use some fresh paint. Since I recently graduated college, I decided that I could spend my free time helping them before I move away.

Examining the house was an adventure. We found black mold. And termites. I wore a mask until the mold was torn out.

Then there was the decision-making concerning interior design. My mother wanted beige paint, taupe carpet, a tan rug on the brown hardwood, and beige linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom (replacing beautiful stone tile). Any of these on their own would have been fine (except the linoleum; who replaces stone tile with linoleum?), but together, they would have created a monochromatic nightmare. Eventually, they decided: pale cucumber paint, taupe carpet (only in the master bedroom), no rug on the hardwood, and to keep the pretty tile.

We all worked in different parts of the house, so I can’t say much about what my parents did, but here is what I have been doing lately, along with some useful tips I’ve learned along the way.

Task One

I pulled up carpet with my dad. The last renters had two kids and a dog, so the carpet was nasty. the floor was littered with random objects (marbles, spare change), and smelled distinctly of dog excrement, some of which we found, still on the carpet. It had to go. Pulling up carpet is actually pretty easy. You find where it starts and tug until the carpet is no longer attached to the floor. Moving that carpet outside, however, poses a problem, as does taking up the tack strips. Unless you want to cut the carpet into several manageable pieces, have friends help you move the carpet, because it is heavy. Crowbars are useful for taking up tack strips.

Task Two

I scrubbed walls. Two kids can do quite a bit of damage to walls. Some of their most dangerous weapons include markers and greasy hands. Paint sticks best to clean surfaces, so the walls had to be scrubbed before we could do anything else to them. Magic Erasers are great for this; however, if you are scrubbing hard over a large surface area, beware: Magic Erasers wear out quickly. That is why I would suggest buying the extra power ones: they last so much longer. Grab a small bucket of water so that you can keep the Magic Eraser wet, and get to work. It took me hours just to get through one room, so be patient.

Task Three

I peeled wallpaper. This is an arduous task. I was up on a stepladder for six to eight hours peeling wallpaper border. When stripping wallpaper, a bucket of water and a sponge are your best friends. Use the sponge to dampen the wallpaper, find a seam, and peel the wallpaper. In my experience, only one of two layers will come off at first (NOTE: Sometimes, depending on the type of wallpaper, dampening the first layer is useless; wait until you’ve peeled the first layer off, them dampen the second layer). Once the first layer is off, use the sponge again to soak the second layer. Wait about thirty seconds, then start to peel it off in strips. A helpful tip: after dampening the second layer of one section, peel off the first layer of the next section, then dampen that underside as well. This will save time and keep you from sitting like a lame duck while waiting for the water to weaken the first section.

Task Four

I tore out drywall. It was great. Giving a recently broken up, unemployed woman a hammer and telling her she can take out her frustrations and aggressions on the wall is the best gift a dad can give, I think. Also, I just like destroying things, which was much more motivation that any frustration I may have been feeling. When tearing out drywall, it is important not to knock down the studs. They are keeping the wall up and, if it is a load-bearing wall, they are holding up the ceiling as well. If you know where the studs are, take a pencil and make a quick mark to designate each stud. If you don’t know where, I would suggest tapping the wall lightly at first to find out without damaging the boards. Also watch out for electrical outlets and plumbing. Those issues dealt with, take a hammer and knock a few holes in the wall. That finished, use the pry bar side of the hammer to pull out the drywall.

I’ve also cleaned windows, polished doors and wood paneling, scrubbed tile floors (get a sponge mop with a scourer), and completed various other tasks, as have my parents. Even so, we are not even halfway finished with this project. I’ll update later about further accomplishments, and hopefully post pictures of the final result.

Panic Makes You Stronger

For whatever reason, nervous breakdowns make me more productive. I am stressed to the breaking point and realize that there is no way for me to accomplish everything that needs to be done. I have a short lapse that usually involves tears and babbling. Then, it happens. I enter superhero mode. My superpower: efficiency. Once I’ve had my breakdown, I enter the top 10% of the most productive people in the universe. I am calm and collected, and I finish my to-do list in record time—that same to-do list that hours ago I had been sure could never be completed. I’ve been told that when I go into ‘business mode’ my attitude says, “I am Amanda, and you would hear me roar, if I did roar. I don’t.”

This week I had a breakdown. You would think that since I’m only taking thirteen hours this semester, my life would be easy. That assumption is false, primarily because one of those hours is Senior Symposium, also known as “Show us everything you’ve learned from your years at our university in one paper and a fifteen-minute presentation.” I am also president of Souvenirs (Poetry Club) and the Society of Near Eastern Archaeology, the vice-president of Scribblers (Creative Writing Club), and a member of the French Club. I believe that I am in college to learn, and most of the time I learn more from my extra-curricular activities than from my classes, at least when it comes to real-world skills. So I try to cram as many things into my life as I can in order to learn and gain experience. I’ve been juggling quite well, but Tuesday, life got the best of me. There were so many projects and responsibilities that I spent the afternoon and much of the evening frantically trying to figure out how to get everything done by the end of the week. Tuesday night, I broke down. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Wednesday, however, I transformed from Billy to Dr. Horrible. I used the powers of time-management and hard work to destroy the status-quo of overwhelming tasks. I fulfilled all of my responsibilities. I even started doing research for a tentative career path. It was awesome.

Does anyone else become more productive after a short overload breakdown? What do you do when you are stressed?


God and I got into a bit of a tiff.

You see, he decided that my boyfriend needed to be in Estonia doing mission work instead of in the States, which is great for boy, but not so great for me. He will be living there permanently, and so it was decided that we should break up–an inter-continental relationship just didn’t seem like a good idea.

If it had been any other reason, I could say, “it happens. People grow apart.” Mission work, though, is definitely from God. So I was a bit frustrated.

Eventually, though, I realized something:  I would make an awful minister’s wife. I am an extreme introvert with a slight attitude. I hate being the center of attention, and that is exactly what I would have to be with him. He loves individuals, but people wear him out. He needs someone  to be extroverted when he cannot. I can’t do that.

All in all, it was a civil breakup. We’re still friends, and we still care for each other. There is just no way that we can be more than friends.

I still have no idea what I am supposed to do with my life, which is frustrating for me. He goes off with a great purpose and leaves me here, floundering and useless. In a few months, I will graduate with my BA in Literature. I still haven’t picked a career yet, not have I chosen a city in which to live. I have no direction, no purpose.

All this led to the tiff. I think I’ve accepted everything now, though I still have no plans for the future. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.