Another day, another battle.
An annoying, seemingly inevitable battle, with one or more of the following foes: technology, delays, bad hair, wretched colleagues, etc.
We're told not to sweat the small stuff, but who really follows this advice?
Let's face it: daily life is comprised of the small stuff ... and our routines are riddled with frustrations.
The challenge becomes, in that case:
1. To eliminate these frustrations (impossible),
2. To react to them in a way that makes them, well, less frustrating (totally possible).
And the second option often entails going beyond the practical solutions to our problems and (I say this at the risk of sounding annoyingly perky) seeing them as opportunities to be creative. If Nuisances = Fact of Life, we can at least try to take a little bit of the sting out of them.
After all, the only other option is to savor misery.
What follows is a list of suggestions for dealing with a few common hair-raising, blood-boiling, ire-stoking scenarios. Hopefully it will save your computer from being hurled out a window, or spare you a really bad haircut, or prevent you from being incarcerated or some such.
Take a deep breath, and read on.
Your back-stabbing Judas of a computer has suffered an irreversible meltdown.
This has happened to me twice in the last four months, and has been the cause of countless tears, wails, and tantrums.
Practical solution: Buy an external hard-drive and back everything up every week. This will save you nearly $1000 in data recovery and will spare you proximity to technology wonks.
Another idea: In addition to the extra hard-drive, buy a beautiful address book and date book. Preferably leather-bound, so they will be durable and age nicely. Keep a handwritten archive of addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses ... and write them in pencil for easy updating. If this sounds time-consuming, try reconstructing all of your contacts and calendar from scratch. It's fun, trust me.
Plus, these books become lovely keepsakes, almost like adjunct diaries. I still have my dad's old rolodex, and it reads like a diary of his life.
Insomnia strikes again.
And nothing is more anxiously lonely than being awake when the world around you is asleep.
Practical solutions: Keep your bedroom dark and cool; buy a sleep mask; consume no caffeine after 7 PM; don't watch TV before going to sleep (or better: move your TV our of your bedroom altogether ... that's Feng Shui 101).
Another idea: If you're seriously awake, don't just lie there like a plank in your bed and torture yourself. Get up, go into another room, and curl up on the couch with a soft blanket. Read something familiar and soothing (no TV!), or listen to your iPod (Billie Holiday always works for me).
Doing something like this will distract you from whatever you were obsessing about in bed, and maybe turn the insomnia into a vaguely constructive, less punishing experience.
Your plane is delayed.
And there are gaggles of screaming, snot-encrusted children in the waiting area.
Probable reaction: Have a hysterical volcanic meltdown at the counter ... again.
Another idea: Bring your laptop, noise-canceling headphones, and your latest Netflix picks. You might as well spend some time in the company of characters you like.
And tote along some nice snacks, so you don't have to stand in an endless line at Starbucks and further stoke your misanthropy.
Ba-a-a-d Hair Day.
In which your locks are truly recalcitrant.
Practical solution: Wave the white flag of surrender and rake your hair back into a defeated ponytail.
Another idea: For daytime, cover your hair in a lovely silk scarf, Jackie O-style. For evening, tuck a bright, lush flower behind your ear, and no one will notice the offending tresses around it.
Or: just toss on a hat. The ladies are very lucky this season: hats are extremely fashionable and easy to come by. So pick up several, the sort that can be worn inside and out.
The point is to look like you're making an intentional statement - and not just sporting a shame-faced cover-up.
Obviously, the hat solution is practical for men too - but baseball caps do NOT count. In fact, baseball caps are probably responsible for the epidemic baldness that seems to afflict many American men ... and should be thrown onto a pyre and set alight.
You cannot stand another instant in your dreary, fluorescent-lit cubicle from hell.
Practical solution: Quit your job, join the Peace Corps, get some fresh air.
Another idea: Personalize your workspace. Stylishly, not egregiously. I've seen some magazine spreads of people who've literally wallpapered their cubicles, which makes me giggle.
Bring in a nice lamp to counteract the demoralizing blue overhead flicker, and always have a vase of fresh flowers on your desk. Ditch the paper or Styrofoam cups and bring in a nice teacup and saucer. Little, comforting, humanizing touches like these will help immeasurably.
Doing this is more important than you might think, especially when you consider how much time Americans spend at work.
Your wardrobe dates back to "Working Girl" and you're too broke to buy a new one.
One solution: Go to H&M and buy a bunch of cheap, disposable clothes.
Another idea: Instead of investing precious money in clothes that won't survive their first trip to the dry cleaner, work with what you have already. Your clothes probably just need a makeover.
Befriend your tailor and go to work. A tired pair of pinstriped slacks becomes a daring pair of shorts, to be worn over tights. An old fur jacket becomes a tunic, which looks great with a thick belt and leggings. And so on.
This way, not only will you have a distinctive wardrobe, you'll be recycling. Just another instance in which fashion allows you to show what a do-gooder you are (see my article "You Are What You Wear").
You're having a Fat Day.
Practical solution: Lose weight.
Less painful solution: Be prepared for your Fat Day. Have a Fat Day outfit set aside, something highly structured with good strong lines. A-lines flatter almost everyone. This outfit should be something that makes you feel gorgeous. Plus: do your make-up especially beautifully, color your lips red, and all eyes will shift upward to your face. Add a little swagger, even if you have to fake it.
And that's how to make short work of a Fat Day: wallop it and send it squealing out the door.