Letter P memoir encyclopedia entries on deck for today.
As someone who travels and moves frequently, I’m no stranger to packing, and while I’ve gotten more efficient at packing over the years, I have yet to master the art of packing light. It’s not to say I don’t want to or that I haven’t tried. I have. Many times. The thing is, I always think, But what if I need this and I don’t have it? I better bring it. Sometimes I really did need whatever it was and ended up being really glad I brought it, but other times I end up bringing it right back home untouched.
I know I’ve already touched on this one in Letter E when I wrote about entertaining, but it’s worth mentioning again. I love throwing parties, and I’m pretty good at it, too. It’s one of my gifts. No, seriously, I took a test when I was in my early twenties about my gifts and my number one gift was hospitality. At first, I was confused. I mean, I don’t work in a hotel or anything and I thought teaching should’ve been my top gift, but after I read the description of it, I realized it actually did fit me.
Whenever I plan parties, I mull over the menu ahead of time, scouring Pinterest for new recipes to go along with my old favorites. Menu planning is key, as I want everything to complement each other. Next up comes the drinks. Who’s coming and what do they like? What kind of party is it and what’s appropriate for the occasion? After food and drinks are settled, I’ll decide on whether or not decorations are needed. For most parties I don’t go all out with decor, but for things like Friendsgiving, Christmas, or baby showers, decorations just add a little something. Last comes the playlist and any party games we might want to play. I always have to consider my audience when planning these aspects.
The day of, I have to make sure I don’t have anything else going on. I get up early and go shopping for all the ingredients I need for cooking, if I haven’t done that already, and then come back to cook. I have to be strategic when prepping and cooking, considering which items need more time and which ones will hold up if I cook them earlier. Then it’s a whirlwind of preparation. In between cooking, I always bustle around, making sure the house is in order. Are the decorations set? Are all the beds made and everything tidy in case people want a tour? Is the music set up? Are the candles lit? I always have candles going because it adds to the ambiance and makes my place smell good, too.
No matter how much prep work goes into my parties, I always stress out and think I won’t make it. As you’ll read about a little later, I’m a procrastinator, so I push things to the wire. I almost always finish in time though. Despite all the stress and work that goes into the event, I love it and couldn’t imagine not being the ‘hostess with the mostest.’
One of my favorite possessions is my passport. For obvious reasons, I love it because it allows me to travel, one of my main obsessions in this world. But I also love it because I get to look back at all my stamps and visas, remembering trips I’ve taken. I’ll always keep my passports forever for that reason.
My current passport is my second one. I got my first one at age 18, when I took a family trip to England. That passport only had stamps from 4 places…England, Germany, Fiji, and Australia. I got the passport I have now in 2010, just before moving to China. A couple of years ago, I had to have pages added to it, mainly because of all the Chinese visas and stamps that took up a lot of room. Even though my passport doesn’t expire until 2020, I doubt I’ll make it that long before I need a new one. I currently have 11 blank pages, but with visas often taking up a whole page, and with more traveling in my future, I’ll probably need to get a new one in 2018. I’m going to opt for the larger one this time.
In many things, I’m a perfectionist. I’m not sure what makes me want to do some things perfectly, while being okay with other things not done quite to perfection. My perfectionism has been a driving force in my successes thus far, but it’s also caused me much stress. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to mellow out more and not let things bother me quite as much as they used to. I still like things done just so, but I’m getting better at not letting it bother me if they aren’t.
Back in the 80’s, pillow people were all the rage, so naturally, I had one. My pillow person had blonde braids coming off the sides of her head in pigtails, and she wore a pink dress and black shoes with white ruffled socks. I remember having her throughout most of my elementary school years. While I didn’t play with her much during my awake hours, she was essential for sleeping through the night. When I think back on my pillow person (I find it strange that I never named her; I just always called her my pillow person), two distinct memories come to mind.
Not my actual pillow person, but mine looked exactly like this one.
Since I slept with her every night and occasionally played with her during the day, it’s only natural that she’d get dirty. I can remember the first time my mom telling me that she was filthy and it was time to wash her. I panicked and threw an all-out temper tantrum, truly believing that she would be utterly destroyed in the washing machine. Nothing my mom said could assuage my fears. Nevertheless, mom wrestled her away and into the washing machine she went.
I cried and cried, and refused to leave the washing machine’s side during the entire wash. Once she came out, clean and intact, I calmed down, happy she was still alive. That is, until my mom threw her in the dryer. Fearful of the worst yet again, I stood guard by the dryer, hoping and praying she’d survive. Lucky for me (and my mom), she did.
Another memory that comes to mind occurred during fifth grade. I had spent Saturday night at a sleepover at Ashley’s house, so of course, I took my pillow person to help me sleep. Ashley was really interested in her and, to be honest, I think she was jealous she didn’t have one.
The next morning, my parents picked me up and I went home. It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized she was missing. I freaked out, crying uncontrollably, unable and unwilling to sleep until I had her. Figuring that I’d forgotten her at Ashely’s, my dad called her parents and confirmed that my pillow person was indeed at their house. Despite it being 9pm on a Sunday night, my dad drove over there and got it back for me. Turns out, I hadn’t simply forgotten her. Ashley had hidden her in hopes of keeping her for herself. We remained friends for a while after that, but I’d be lying if I said I ever fully trusted her again.
As a kid, I was always using my imagination and playing pretend, or as I called it for the longest time, ‘playing buh-tend.’ I was the kind of kid who played well with others, but I was also content playing by myself. My imagination really took off when I played alone.
There was a huge stack of cinder blocks in the back of Mamaw’s house that I commandeered as my playhouse. I had Granddaddy build a staircase up to the top out of some of the cinder blocks, and I used leftover bricks from when they built their house for my props. I made it my playhouse, pretending the bricks were other things.
I had a kitchen, with a stove and a table, where I’d cook all kinds of food. I’d use grass, sticks, berries, dirt- whatever I could find outside- for the food and utensils. I’d make full meals in that little makeshift kitchen. I had a bedroom for my baby dolls, with a baby bed and changing table. I’d bring out my Cabbage Patch dolls, baby bottles, and blankets and take care of them just like a real mom would.
Sometimes I invited Andrew to play with me. A more accurate description is that Andrew would occasionally give in to me begging him to play in my playhouse. We’d play house up there for hours. If I close my eyes, I can still picture everything about that place and be taken right back to my childhood, a time when things were far easier and there was no stress and time seemed infinite.
As I alluded to earlier, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. It’s a trait that bothers me, yet it’s one I can’t seem to shake.
It started with school work and chores. I’d push everything to the last minute, testing fate as I struggled to get it all done in time. As I’ve grown into adulthood, it’s permeated other aspects of my life, including work and home. I will get my work done, but without the deadline propelling me to do it, I tend to put it on the back burner. That is, unless I’m super interested in doing the task. If I’m into whatever it is, I’ll devote tons of time and usually finish before the deadline, motivated by my own internal push. I’m also the worst at responding to personal emails. Work emails are different, because I have to do it, but I find it really difficult to respond to personal emails in a timely manner.
As a leader, I’ve actively worked on changing this part of my personality, and I have improved. I still have a long way to go, but I’m working on it.