Thinking of everything

It is exhausting.  You know what I mean.  You think of everything when you need to go to work.  When you need to travel.  When you need to attend a family event.  When you are making holiday plans.  When you are considering what to eat for dinner.  When you have a chronic, painful, energy sucking, unpredictable, evolving illness, you deliberate, consider contingencies, weigh hypotheses about the factors involved (oh god help you if those factors are heavily regulated by other people!)

I had two occasions to bring this up explicitly this week.  The first was while talking with a good friend with fibro, chronic fatigue syndrome, RSD/CRP, and debilitating functional intestinal problems is starting a new job and is trying to advocate for job preserving accommodations now….before the work starts.  You know, the way you should do.  One of the accommodations she is asking for is the ability to coordinate “side project” assignments and work through her direct supervisor and in advance.  I.e. no “hey can you just do this thing by next week?  ‘K, great!”  Or “why don’t you go ahead and come in on the weekend” (to quote Office Space).  She’s worried she will be seen as “not a team player” if she constantly has to say no to these assignments and doesn’t disclose her illness.  And that even with disclosure, people don’t understand.  We talked about how other people do these things, “I think they say ‘yes’ to everything, over book themselves and end up dropping the ball a lot…then scramble at the last minute and do like three all nighters to fix it and not come out looking like a screw up.  And we can’t do that.  We plan.  We make plans for plans and consider every conceivable process and outcome and if it seems like we can’t do it given the constraints in place including not being able to do the three all nighters if we drop the ball, we say ‘no’ and people think we suck.”

The other time was with a student I work with who, after I described what I had done to prepare her digital book for her to access with a screen magnifier and reader, said “Wow, you think of everything!”  She has a chronic illness to, and so I felt like I could say this to her.  “Thank you, it helps that you let me know what works for you.  And the other part is living with a chronic illness.  You learn to try to work ahead and plan for everything…”  “God yes,” she said, “I’m learning that now.”  I hope I didn’t sound patronizing when I told her that it takes time to figure out how to do this gracefully, that I’m 42 and I still am working on it.  I said it because she’s an over-booker, and I’ve seen her both in the throes of it and in the end of the semester outcome.  I am not blaming her, not (as my last boss would have said) even thinking that she “makes herself sick”.  But I see the struggle from over here in my remote perspective and I wanted to let her know that over time you do get better at recognizing that you need to do this.  Then you can work on refining it.

It is exhausting.  It can be for me at least.  Fortunately, I was always a somewhat deliberate person.  This is not to say that I was totally without impulsiveity.  I miss what I did have.  But I know I always came across as a sort of stick in the mud, the one who would ask “hey but how are we going to get home?” and who would let it bug her if I undertook a plan without these details in place.  I guess I always knew that things can and do go wrong.  I’m going to have to “thank” my family for that one.

50s housewife illustration with absurd list of chores

The blithering optimist. There’s nothing she can’t imagine doing!

The flip side of this is what I call the “blithering optimist”.

I’m not knocking positive thinking.  but while I respect realistic positivity, I have barely more than contempt for blithering optimism.  Do you know a blithering optimist?  My favorite blithering optimist quote is Dr. Evil:  We’ll just assume it all went to plan!  

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  1. Love that image (and Dr. Evil)–had to use the Chrome zoomer big time there. That’s my freaking mother (minus reinstalling Windows 7). Let’s pretend everything is so perfect and always spend 1/2 your day doing things for ungrateful idiots (but not that sick daughter!). I always say that the Women’s Movement came and went right past her door.

    I was always a huge planner/details-person thanks to my father and I do think you’re right that w/o that skill, you’re pretty screwed when the crap hits the fan. I never left anything to the last minute pre-illness or now and still have my HUGE calendar I can see ready by the 1st of the month. How could you even organize your healthcare since no Dr. is going to? I think about someone like my mother (Mrs. Dependent) having my EDS and she’d fall into the hole that causes blind optimists (literally) to have early deaths, since they never have to worry about anything (like a hole in the sidewalk). I love reminding them of that.

    Hahahahaha (or however Dr. Evil does that laugh)

    • You know, I thought about how this image would not be good for non-visual readers. I did put in an alt text description but if you’re not using an auditory screen reader, you won’t hit that. So basically, I made it blind-usable but not low vision usable. Hearing Donald Trump: You’re Fired!

      • Omg, don’t worry about it! I have my zoomer (whatever it’s called) and can go wild until crap falls off the page. I could read it all, but now I’m thinking that Vintage Housewife was more of the planner than the optimist. Sort of both, but definitely the type to stay away from. Pain on brain, I mean brain on pain–I really just wrote that. Sigh. Well, now I’m fired, but it was so my mother I had to laugh (all the ridiculous dinner parties, perfectly wrapped gifts for friends, etc.). Hurl. She should get a job being one of those gift wrappers at the mall. She has a whole closet devoted to it (double stick tape included). Haha.

      • Vintage housewife is an optimist. She’s gonna do all that in 2 hours. Woe be to the sicky who has to tag along with her on this voyage into domestic insanity.

        Domestic insanity starts with double sided tape. 😉

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