For the first time in a few years, it’s January, and I’m really looking forward to the eleven months that will follow. I don’t know what it is about this year. Maybe it’s that I’m settled, and I’m preparing to spend another year in the same apartment (I figured out, that since 2004, I’ve lived in 10 different units of housing in three states) in the same state. Maybe it’s that I’m embarking on a new direction in my career–one that I never would have expected–but that feels so perfectly right. Or maybe, it’s the year that I turn 25, and where I’m at this year, at this age, is so strange, and so true, that you wouldn’t believe it if I wrote it in a novel.
I’m a planner. This is funny to me, because I’m also one of the most disorganized people on the continent. I thought for a while that I was, in fact, really organized, but after a good long, hard look at myself, I discovered that what I actually did, was subsist in a state of organized chaos. For example: I never know where a pen is, but I always confidently know that somewhere in my over-sized Mary Poppins bag, beneath mismatched gloves, an anonymous piece of silverware I took to work with me, and a wallet stuffed with months-old receipts, that it’s highly likely I will find a pen. You can see, how one might very innocently walk around with that sort of delusion, but alas, I had to come clean. My organized chaos works for me, if you’re using my definition of works. But, back to the planning thing.
I had plans when I went to college. I was, absolutely, going to be a lawyer. I would major in Political Science, minor in International Business, and perfect my Spanish so that I could work successfully with the minority market in my home state of Florida. I was going to pick up a few creative writing workshops, because in my “spare time,” I would also write successful novels that would be optioned and turned into Hollywood blockbusters that would star Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds, in roles that I felt they’d be really comfortable in. Yes, I was going to wealthy. Yes, I would eventually move to Manhattan. And yes, I believed, that somewhere in the midst of all of this success, I would meet a man, marry him, and have a couple of kids. And, gasp, at the precious age of 18, I expected most of this to happen by the time I was…25?
And then none of it happened. Literally, none of those things happened, in the space of seven years. Here’s what I did do, abbreviated to spare both you and I: I went to college. Did the Poli-Sci thing for three semesters, dropped 40 pounds in three months sometime in 2005, left school, moved back in with my parents, had a revelation about the brevity of a human life, enrolled, temporarily, in a different school and took literature and writing classes and a random course on the history of Florida government which required the memorization of the names of several random county commissioners from several random counties, fell in love, went to rehab, went back to school, got over said love, changed my major to business, began drinking large quantities of vodka, fell in love again, got over more love, stopped drinking vodka, fell in love one more time (this time, really), moved in with said loved-person, then moved to Chicago, fell out of geographically-challenged love, realized I had a black, hardened heart, went to Portland for a summer internship, fell in love again (much to my chagrin), dealt with more geographically-challenged love, graduated with a master’s, and moved to Portland.
And now, I live here, with my hairless dog, my boyfriend, and ten nights a month, with boyfriend’s five-year-old son. And I work for a health insurance company. I’m surrounded by people who In the space of seven years, I did all of those things, and not a one of them on my list of things-to-do-before-25. So, when do plans derail? And don’t they always, so more importantly, why do we plan?
In 2011, I’m planning on planning less. I think that’s a good plan, because it’s not a plan. I haven’t done anything I planned to do, and I wouldn’t trade any of those things for all of the optioned novels in the world.
Maybe, if I plan on not planning to write novels, it just might happen.