The Truth is, I’m a Cheater

No occasion with anyone was too sacred to keep me from grabbing my phone.

                                                                                                                                                       
I cheated in April. That’s right, I stepped out on my commitment. It was a commitment to a daily blogging challenge, covering a letter of the alphabet for each day of the month. By the time I reached the letter L, shit had gone down so drastically in my life, it was impossible to keep up. Let’s just say I went through the second worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not ready to give it away yet, but you’re sure to read about it one of these days.

Cheater

Trust me when I say, it was so bad, it drove me to cheating.

But the first worst thing that ever happened to me? Way back, the guy I loved, the guy supposedly committed to me, cheated on me. Yeah, with sex. The kind of cheating you expected this post to be about. Good thing I got rid of him years ago.

But the alphabet can’t get rid of me.

That’s because I refused to accept defeat halfway through. So I stepped out on letters N through Z, and cheated by publishing a blank private page every night to have it stamped with the right date in April. My intention was to make each post public and populated with content later when my life had settled back to its usual course.

Well, it’s been “later” for a while.

I greedily held on to fourteen or so blank posts, many of which are now filled with photos and brief vignettes. They are in fact, part of a visual labyrinth leading to clues in the treasure hunt I’ve been devising for you.

But I’m all sorts of cheater. Read on.

Today, I find myself wondering, what the hell happens to whole weeks? How is it Friday again? Or whatever day it actually is? Time and I have a bizarre relationship. Everything blends together, then takes massive leaps.

I’m never not busy, never without some all-consuming task. But while time is generous by keeping me youngish, it’s decidedly ungenerous when it comes to letting me get things done at a normal pace. You might say that’s code-speak for “I am slow,” but if that makes my aging slow too, I’ll take youth and untimeliness over speedy accomplishment. Unfortunately, sometimes that means taking “all the time in the world” to get lifey things done. It’s hard to tell if I cheat time or time cheats me.

Later though, when I’m old, I’ll expect time’s reverse generosity to make me a speedy-breezy, iron-manning-at-65 dynamo. Yay time. Yay delusion.

Anyway, I’m not especially slow. I am exacting. I am tangential. One task leads to a dozen. Many things end up getting done. Concurrently. But once it’s all over, it seems like a task that should’ve taken one day, took a whole month.

Let’s say my one must-do for Friday is to pitch to a magazine about home organization. It would be reasonable to allot one or two hours to it. But first, let me gather my notes from the red notebook stored in the chest that’s blocked by a pile of papers I need to go through.

The papers, once organized, would have to go into my filing case. So that means I need to pull out all the outdated files to make room. Removing the filing case reveals ungodly dust, so naturally, I’m compelled to remove every last item off the shelf to dust it properly — cleanliness, godliness and all. If I’m dusting anyway, I may as well do the entire apartment, which of course, means having to vacuum too.

Speaking of ungodly, don’t I have laundry? But that one dress has a hole in it I need to sew beforehand, which would necessitate dealing with all the clothes I’ve tucked away to sew, considering I’m too uh — efficient — to take out the sewing kit more than once.

Remember the red notebook? I started with it. I needed notes out of it for my home organization pitch. Let’s say I work my way backwards through that entire procrastination obstacle course, and retrieve the three sentences worth of notes from the red book.

Now I need to locate the rest of the notes on the subject, written on various scraps, stored in various troubling locations. You already know where that can lead. “Troubling” means, sometimes you open a drawer and all the items in it aren’t tetris-tight and ruler-straight, and must be re-organized immediately, otherwise the world will end.

That’s what it feels like in that moment, and no power could stop you from turning that drawer upside down and attacking the items.

In between all the obstacle course sidling, there is freelance stuff, errand stuff, friend stuff, love stuff, family stuff and of course, happy hour. One day, I’ll stick exercise stuff back in there for balance, and so that I can stop insulting my buttocks in print.

Oh look. Friday is now the following Thursday. I better get that home organization pitch in before they change themes. And let’s not forget my blog post.

So here I am, cheating again. I’m winging it, and I hate winging it. I hate blogging about why I’m not blogging. But what can I do — all the slow-brewing, exacting posts I’ve got nearly done, aren’t done.

I don’t have a diamond bracelet with which to placate you, so to make up for all my blatant cheating, I’m gonna give you a peek into the treasure hunt. Naturally, there’s a preamble — the same way those three sentences out of the red notebook involved more or less a spring cleaning.

About a year and half ago, I joined Instagram. I had resisted for a long time because I thought applying all those pretty filters would be…cheating. I wanted to take photographs that were artful without the manufactured tints and enhancements. But I also didn’t want to frustrate myself by sucking at photography, even as a casual hobbyist.

Creativity for me is sustenance. It doesn’t matter whether I’m doodling or cutting out images to glue together into new ones. It’s an outlet without which I’d just about lose the will to live. Sometimes I have macabre little daydreams about having to learn to type with my toes if I lost both of my arms, or at least, using my toes to operate some voice-to-text recorder.

So basically, in my dark thoughts, I can live without my arms, but not without creativity.

Still, I was going to leave image-chasing to the photographers. I also used to say, I’d never give up eating meat. And just like vegetarianism, photography snuck up on me.

I started caring about line, space and light quality. My cheating heart lusted after the Instagram developers’ sumptuous hues, craving them all over my mainly ordinary pictures.

So I took the cheater’s route and signed up.

Instagram Feed

Over time, I discovered there were real photographers on Instagram, not just cheaters.

I ended up winning a BlogHer Voices of the Year thingie for my Instagram feed, which led to begrudging quips about winning for my filtered images, but not for my unfiltered words.

But meanwhile, the win encouraged me to become more active with my feed. No occasion with anyone was too sacred to keep me from grabbing my phone to capture images for my “award-winning Instagram.” Calling it that was my mock-annoying way to detract from the real annoyance anyone might feel about my constant picture-taking.

And here you have my “eureka.” It occurred to me, a visual treasure hunt could be one way to join the images I’ve taken to my blank alphabet posts. You can imagine my satisfaction at consolidating all the cheating in my life.

The treasure hunt might be a concurrent tidying up and creativity task for me, but for you, there could be prizes.

Here’s the first example of the pictorial entries you can expect: New York.

I do hope you decide to take part in my visual treasure hunt.
 


If you haven’t kept up with GG, check out:

  • This goofy dance video
  • This other verité-wannabe video with a bunch of bloggers
  • What You’re Getting Yourself Into
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39 comments

  1. You need to wear a big letter “A” above your breast now.

    1. Haha, damn, I should’ve thought of that!

  2. Now I’m just waiting for what was so bad that it drove you to cheating!… ok, I can wait. I’ve not joined Instagram yet – mainly because I already have too many things that I’m not doing 100% I noticed that when I joined Twitter it gave me enough entertainment that I slacked completely on my blog. Facebook, I just have to say no to. I have it but I can’t engage, except for maybe a 60 second window once a day and then I run. I was definitely more productive on my blog when that was the only thing I had.

    1. I can’t use Facebook either. I haven’t deactivated my profile yet, but I deleted the app from my phone and only log on about once a week. I feel like it’s the worst time suck in social media history, and it ultimately leaves me feel bad, not better about life.

      1. I never activated the app on my phone, and I don’t get push notifications. It’s still a time suck.

    2. I also can’t stay on top of all the social media. Just can’t. Fits and starts is the best I could do.

  3. I read somewhere recently (I wish I could remember where, sorry!) that to be more peaceful and happy with your life you need to try to differentiate the things that are urgent and important to you. Laundry is urgent. Getting the house cleaned, following up on mail and appointments, those things are urgent, but they aren’t IMPORTANT. Important things are spending time with family and friends, working on your art or writing, even a good night’s sleep. If you focus your energy more on what’s IMPORTANT and less on what’s URGENT, the urgent things won’t stress you out and steal your attention and time as much as the things you really want to and should be doing with this brief wink of time we have. That’s my self-help strategy for you today.

    Looking forward to see what your treasure hunt is!

    1. I may have seen that somewhere too, and appreciate the reminder. It’s a good — a great –strategy, thanks! (It’d be nice if someone else would do the laundry though…)

      1. I have complex thoughts about the people I see dropping off their laundry for someone else to do at the laundromat when I’m doing my weekly loads.

      2. I know exactly what you mean.

  4. Love that last bit of advice, I’m constantly buried by what’s urgent. I cheat on myself and the things I want to do daily. Working towards finding a way to focus on those Important things. Thanks for sharing

    1. Me too.

  5. Apparently I’m a cheater too. I will decide that I HAVE to clean out and organize my closet when I should be packing to go out of town. Or I have to tackle some unrelated project before I’m supposed to meet my friends for a drink. Sometimes (more often than I care to admit) I cheat myself out of precious writing time. Sigh… I still haven’t figured out how not to do all of that.

    But your Instagram feed is gorgeous! I know there is the “No Filter” set who turn up their nose, but to me it’s just a different way of expressing yourself visually. I long to get better at photography. It’s not a natural talent, it isn’t something I’m good at in any way.

    And your “unfiltered words” deserve an award too.

    1. Thank you Gretchen, you are so lovely.

      When you do figure out how “not to all of that,” please let me know. Let everyone know — that would be information you can sell!

  6. This is the most elaborate excuse you’ve come up with yet for not reading my novel. Well played.

    1. You like that?

  7. Lines like scattered
    Stained glass; shattered
    Thrown into the air

    Stop-time motion
    Mind like ocean
    Crafted with such care

    Jump-rope words
    Join tales unheard
    Maybe soon you’ll share

    Brain-space miles
    And tangled smiles
    For our Exquisite. There.

    1. OOOh.

      I get it all. Not so many brain-space miles. Except for “Exquisite.” Who/what?

      1. YOU, ya goof 🙂

      2. No, no, I’m rough n’ tough.

      3. And Exquisite. And warm. And wonderful. And kind. And silly…I could expound several hours-worth of adjectives, dear one – how many would you like?

      4. Um, 115?

  8. Your tangentialism is world class. I thought I could get off task pretty easily, but yours is amazing. I aspire to get that distracted some day!

    1. I like it when we make flaws seem positive. World class indeed!

      1. There’s always two sides of the coin. I happen to think that your ability to take on so many tasks is admirable. On the other hand, some people find my bitterness a little off putting. Weird.

    2. Hm, that is weird.

  9. Paul · · Reply

    Hmmm I like BBB’s word – “tangentialism”. That seems to fit perfect GG. Sounds like you are not having problems with boredom — that’s good.

    As an aside I just did a fiction piece as a guest over at Cordelia’s Mom http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2015/08/31/gramps-guest-post-by-paul-curran/ If you have time to drop by for a read, I would be honored. This is the first fiction piece I’ve published and I would appreciate any comments. Thank You.

    1. No, I never get bored. I’m just mystified about why I’m always running out of time.

  10. I actually think I originally found you on instagram. I like your filters. All of them. Ha!

    1. Well, good! And thanks.

  11. Mike · · Reply

    I guess I am a habitual cheater then. I have so much I am supposed to get done and nothing accomplished. The weeks speed by the older I get. It is a bit unfair but c’est la vie.

    1. For sure, the weeks speed by as we get older — everyone agrees. It’s really alarming!

  12. Paul · · Reply

    As an aside GG I just did another guest post over at Barb Taub’s http://barbtaub.com/2015/09/06/coffee-with-barb-and-paul-curran-a-truckers-response-to-bureaucracy/comment-page-1/#comment-138340 If you have time, I’d be honored if you dropped by for a read. Thank you.

    1. If you weren’t one my favorite readers, I’d send a glitter bomb to your door for all this link-dropping! 😉 Some people think glitter bombs are a sign of affection, others take it as an act of aggression. I leave the interpretation to your discretion.

      I will read your posts soon. Probably today.

      1. Paul · ·

        Won’t happen again – I do about 2 posts (other than a weekly coffee thingy) a month – they just happened to be around the same time and I have no blog. Some ask me to let them know and some ask me not to – I’ll move you to the “not to” column.

        P.S. – I get an e-mail notification each time you do a post, and I only mention each of my posts once – so I figured it was about fair – however, I’ll stop it. I do it so my host will have some readers.

      2. You’re welcome to do it, but you are the only one!

      3. Paul · ·

        Now I feel special! PREENS All kidding aside – thank you GG. I find that when I bring readers to a host, it is almost like bringing them a gift in thanks for their kindness of having me guest post.

  13. So sly, and BRB… going to find you on Instagram now!

    1. Haha, “sly” is one word for it.

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