Buzz or Woody?

I recently stopped by Ryan’s house to make lunch. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Ryan was still coming back from an appointment, and his mom, Doris, insisted I eat a small bowl of soup before he got back. She had just made chicken and rice with carrots, and she quickly fixed me a bowl, heating it up and sprinkling pepper on top. I couldn’t complain.

Ryan eventually returned and helped himself to soup too. Maybe we didn’t really need to cook, after all. When we don’t eat a meal, we eat kind of a smorgasbord of snacks instead, which I’m always fine with. Ryan proceeded to pull out yogurt and make two bowls, adding honey, granola, and raspberries. Then he opened a packet of Clif Thins, spread both with peanut butter, drizzled some honey on top, and handed me one. A somewhat random lunch, but pretty tasty.

I left shortly after to drive to family friends in Basalt. Maybe 45 minutes into the drive, it occurred to me: how often do I have someone “fix” food for me like that, and so readily? Sure, I’ll eat out and be served food, but it’s not the same. The chef in the kitchen doesn’t know you, let alone see you. And of course, I eat food prepared by friends and family, but I usually am involved in the cooking or at least serve myself. But it dawned on me that Doris and Ryan literally prepped and served all these foods to me without me lifting a finger. In my increasingly fragile state, I couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed, so grateful for the care that I had received.

As someone who is constantly cooking for herself, I never take for granted a homecooked meal, whether it’s made by own family or someone else’s. In fact, I realized I’ve been appreciative of others’ food prep since I was young.

From age 4 to 15, I essentially ate 2 to 4 Eggo waffles for breakfast. Every day. My dad would make these for me and both of my siblings, unfailingly, uncomplainingly, for over a decade. I distinctly remember a morning when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, that it dawned on me: I didn’t know how to cut my own waffles. I started filling with near panic, wondering how on earth I was going to grow up and move away and live in my own house if I couldn’t cut my own Eggos. I thought to myself, I’ve got to live really close to Dad, so that he can just come over and cut them for me. Miraculously, I did learn how to cut my own Eggos in time—but that doesn’t mean I actually did. Yes, Steve prepared those Eggos for me until he physically couldn’t anymore, because: I went to boarding school. It was freshman year when I finally paused one morning and said, “Dad, you know, I could make my own waffles. I’m perfectly capable.”

“I know…but I like it…” he responded in a heartbreaking voice.

That was all the convincing I needed. Now I wish someone would make Eggo waffles for me every morning.

I’ve told many people that I’m a “reverse” procrastinator. Instead of getting anxious about a task and therefore putting it off, I feel this desperate need to do the task immediately. I’m so anxious about getting it done, I figure I should cross it off the list as soon as possible. I recently learned that there is an actual word for someone like me (at least psychologist Adam Grant says so): a “precrastinator.”

Being a precrastinator does have advantages. Your homework is always done. Dishes are cleaned within an hour of eating. Errands are tackled as soon as the weekend hits. Nothing is hanging over your head. Or is it?

The reality of being a precrastinator, for me, is constantly worrying about things that I can’t get done immediately. You don’t always want to book a flight for a trip immediately. You don’t sign up for a race unless you’re sure you can actually train for it. You don’t buy all the things you want all at once, even if you have the money. Because who knows? Everything may change tomorrow.

It is a grand irony that in trying to reduce anxiety by getting sh*t done, I actually inspire more anxiety within myself, thinking of all the things I must do but currently can’t.

But that’s life, right? While there are periods in which we don’t have to worry about planning, for the most part, there’s always something coming down the pipeline. There will always be birthdays and holidays to prep for. There will always be theoretical trips on the table. There will always be commitments that we weigh for some time before we actually take ownership of them. I am learning, day by day, how to be OK with that.

I vaguely remember listening to a podcast in which the interviewee said something to the effect of, “your everyday existence should be practicing for your future self.” In other words, you should act like the person you want to be one day, not just the person that you are right now. I recalled this sentiment months later, when Ryan noted, “So much of life is people saying, ‘I’m just trying to do _____,’ instead of just doing that thing.”

I feel that these ideas tangentially came to a head for me a couple weeks ago when I realized: it was about damn time I had my oat milk party.

For context: a couple of years ago, during the height of the oat milk craze, I came up with a party idea. What if I bought a half dozen different oat milk brands, and those invited blind taste-tested them to determine the definitive BEST oat milk? I figured the milks could be paired with cookies and cereal in addition to being sampled on their own. Pretty much everyone I pitched this to was on board, though several gave me a “you’re crazy” look.

I know I’m crazy. That’s not what I’m getting at here.

What I’m getting at is that I’ve been saying for the better part of two years that I’m going to host this party, but have yet to actually do it. If the type of person I want to be is someone who unflinchingly hosts random themed parties, I better get on it. So, three weeks ago, I created an evite for the Holiday Oat Milk Fiesta, December 10, 2023.

No one could come that day and it’s now January 7, 2024. But it’s on the calendar, dammit.

I remember the first night that I spent in my new house alone, I ate dinner on my stoop. I didn’t have a table yet, let alone chairs. I think I ate some scrambled eggs and toast, because that was the only food I had. It was a summer evening in late June and my street was peaceful.

Buying a house has been, by and large, one of the best decisions I have ever made. There is so much freedom and agency in making this choice, even if it was the most terrifying financial move of my life. Now that I’ve settled into it a little, here’s what I’ve come to love about having my own house:

  • No roommates to bug me
  • I can turn on the blender, full-blast, at any time of day
  • The kitchen can be left a mess
  • No one’s laundry is left unattended in the washer but my own
  • No one witnesses me doing weird/clumsy/dumb things
  • I can sing really terribly while playing the drums (also poorly)

That said, there are definitely things about owning a home by myself that I do not like. Such as:

  • I have to buy and then cook all my own food, all the time
  • No one to save me if an axe-wielding murderer is on the loose
  • If the house catches fire, it’s my fault
  • Anything about the house could break down at literally any time
  • My habit of talking to myself is becoming increasingly pronounced
  • No one to cut my Eggo waffles

But really, home ownership is a joy!

Now that it’s the time of year that everyone’s gushing about their Spotify Wrapped playlists, I am just reminded of how predictable I am. It doesn’t really bother me. We are creatures of habit, after all; it’s only natural that we’ll listen to the same songs dozens of times throughout the year. We know these songs. They’re familiar, comforting.

Still, I try to find new music constantly. It feels like an insatiable craving. I am often combing through my “Discover Weekly” and “Release Rader” in addition to downloading playlists based on specific songs or artists. Sometimes it’s a total success, other times, a bust. I become a little agonized, sick of my current tunes and incapable of finding new ones.

When this happens, the only cure is to get back to basics. And when I say basics, I really mean the beginning of time. I will find myself only listening to the Beatles or Billy Joel, pining for the days of being 5 years old in the car with my dad. I’ll find playlists filled with the alt rock songs that would blast at the climbing gym when I was in middle school. I’ll listen to albums, top to bottom and back to back, from the height of my existential crises in boarding school. Only when I have felt that I’ve sufficiently re-lived my past (and suffered for it) will I return to music made in the last two years.

Things that make me laugh just thinking of them:

  1. Grandma’s Sandwich Cremes, and how they proudly boast, “Artificially Flavored!” on their packaging
  2. Signs that say “Men Working.” Congrats? You may as well put a sign up that says, “People People-ing.”
  3. A tweet I saw about little kids getting “soda drunk” at birthday parties. I was one of those kids.

I think I found a world dichotomy: Buzz or Woody? I bet you know exactly which character you are. You can probably peg everyone you know as a Buzz or a Woody, too. Me? I’m a Woody. Ryan is 1000% a Buzz. Our friend, Zach: Woody. My sister, Julia: Buzz. Try it out.

Playing drums is an activity I only do on a whim. I need the right energy for it; I have to feel excited.

The perfect conditions for me to play drums are as follows: It’s a summer evening. I’ve just drank a 7% West Coast IPA. I’m returning home on my bike from some gathering, whether trivia or a happy hour, jamming to some tune in my earbuds. I open the door to my house and just a glimpse of my kit does it. I feel called to drum right then and there. Nothing is more urgent.

I thought this was really the only scenario that would guarantee a drum session, but I was wrong: a 30th birthday party at a bougie wine bar, offering endless charcuterie and prosecco upon entry, also does the trick. At least, so I’ve heard.

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November 12, 2023

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