Have you heard about Flat Stanley? He's a character from a children's book series by Jeff Brown. Nutshell version: Flat Stanley was flattened by the bulletin board in his bedroom one night. Now he goes on all kinds of adventures.
This is where friends and relatives come in. Enter Uncle and Aunt Functional. My nephew made his own cut-out of Flat Stanley - as everyone in his class did - and he sent it to us in the mail. Now we're supposed to take pictures of Stanley at various interesting spots, then write a letter about what he did, then mail the whole package back to the school.
(Bitter aside: You know, when I was in school, we had to do our own work. We couldn't rely on our relatives to do it for us. I think I put more effort into this than my whole last year of university!!)
So anyway, a month ago, Flat Stanley came to visit. And I started to feel the pressure of getting this right for the kid. Flat came to ballet class with me. He went to the Royal Ontario Museum - or at least to the ROM store. He went to work with the hubs. Fine, fine, fine. Over the course of about three weeks, we took ten or fifteen pictures.
Then I wrote a two-page letter making things seem more adventuresome and fun for Stanley than they actually were. I made sure I had everything together - then I double made sure because I didn't want to forget anything. Then I headed out in the rain to develop the photos at Black's. I don't print photos often because I don't have kids - or pets - so I didn't realize it still takes an hour to develop photos in the real world. I had tons of errands to do, but I didn't bring everything I needed to do them, so I had an hour to kill while I waited for Stanley to develop.
Yes, I considered having a drink. Yes! What a great excuse! An hour to kill!! But then I thought ... nahhhh. I'll be drinking tonight. I'll just wait.
So I wandered here and there, picked up a couple things, stopped in a bookstore to take a look at the latest bestsellers. Naturally, I saw one by Jennifer Weiner because she can write a bestseller every year (at least!). I had the same editor as Jen for my first book, Devil May Care. (I've included this particular review because it's so glowing!) It was a really fun, smart book and everyone thought it would do great - but it basically flopped. As the vast majority of novels do. It was a devastating experience. (btw - I went through this experience on my first long cleanse in 2003. There were hellish parts, but I made it!)
Here's where the grumbling comes in. I saw Jennifer's 10th bestseller on the shelf and it looks damn fun. And she looks damn happy and rich and busy and joyous in her author photo. She probably wasn't even drunk - as I was for my first author photo.
Anyway, I've met Jen and she's a sweet, brilliant person and a talented writer and a very hard worker and she deserves all the success she gets. But I still felt a bit wistful reading all her accolades while it seemed like my biggest pressure of the day was making sure Flat Stanley got off in the mail for my nephew's school project. :(
It wasn't a terrible tug - I'm getting much better at accepting things. But I still couldn't help but feel a little downturn in my mood. Cut to me picking up Stanley's pictures. Cut to me standing outside this Italian restaurant because it's close to the post office. Cut to me deciding whether or not I'm going to go in for a drink while I write on the back of Stanley's photos explaining his adventures or should I just get a bottle of water and do it in the food court. Cut to me being a good girl and getting the water and going to the food court. Cut to me with a stupid marker-pen that smears all over the back of the photos, so that I have to set them upside down on the probably filthy food court table, blowing on them every now and again so they can dry before I stack them back together. Cut to me getting the envelope ready, the photos, Stanley himself. Cut to me looking for that damn two-page letter I wrote!! Cut to me realizing I left it at home on the printer - and it's wasn't accessible on my phone!!
Cut to me looking at the world through misting eyes. Cut to me saying: "I knew it! I knew I'd forget something! I always fuck something up! I'm so useless I can't even do this!" Cut to me standing up and walking to the subway blinking back tears, saying things like: "No, I'm not useless ... everything's fine ... there's gotta be an upside to this ... just think, Ms. Functional, think!"
And then it occurs to me. A thought that immediately lifts my mood like Tinker Bell fairy came by with her magic wand. "I could go to that post office closer to my house and go for a drink at that cute French restaurant right next to it! Maybe I'll even have salade nicoise for a late lunch!"
Cut to me with a bit of a bounce in my step. I come home, I get the letter about Flat Stanley, I put the package back together, I change - because it's not raining anymore, it's hot and sunny - which makes the idea of lunch on the patio at the French resto all that much more inviting.
Off I go to the post office. Get Flat Stanley in the mail safe and sound (I had to over-night him by courier because ... yes ... I even procrastinate my nephew's school projects!). Anyway, I feel a modicum of relief, like handing in a midterm. I leave post office and see French cafe. I'm walking, walking, walking toward it, seeing the tables overlooking the street, thinking 'Should I have white? Rose? Sparkling? Salad or no salad ...?" Walking, walking. Ms. Functional, if you keep walking, you're gonna pass right by that restaurant and there won't be any wine ... Ms. Functional!! Ms. Functional!! What the F are you doing?!!
I kept walking. I walked home. Exhausted from my mental and physical excursions, I made popcorn and tried to finish watching Behind the Candelabra, the biopic about Liberace and his young lover. Liberace is played by Michael Douglas. Matt Damon plays the boyfriend. It was just a random cable-movie-PVR tape and I didn't think I'd get into it. But ... somehow ... I did ... because it's like watching ... I don't know ... not a car accident exactly, but ... plastic surgery! Yes, that's what it's like. Fascinating and disturbing like watching plastic surgery! (In fact, there are a few plastic surgery scenes!). btw it wasn't fascinating and disturbing just because it was about gay lovers. No. That was cool. But it was fascinating and disturbing watching Michael Douglas and Matt Damon play gay lovers. Because they're really good at it. Are you kidding? Gordon Gekko and Good Will Hunting drinking champagne in a bubble bath? Okey-doke! It just 'does something' to your brain. Anyway, if you think you might enjoy two A-list actors going at each other in a really convincingly hard gay way, it's an interesting pastime. Probably best that Flat Stanley wasn't around to see it.
But my point is ... yes, I sometimes consciously or unconsciously use 'having a drink' as motivation. But, no, I don't always have to have the drink! Cleansing has given me the ability to make conscious decisions about my drinking. Even feeling frustrated and like a loser, even knowing a glass of wine in a French cafe would make me feel better, I kept walking because ... well, honestly? It's healthier. Such a boring answer, but that's the truth. I knew we'd be having wine with dinner ... and after dinner ... and maybe even before. And if anyone knows the risks of drinking too much on a regular basis - both in terms of physical and emotional health - it's Ms. Functional. So I made the decision not to stop for a drink because I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to have wine all - day - long.
It's not always a good idea, anyway. Especially when you've got a gay biopic waiting for you on the PVR at home. The popcorn helps too. Here's the trailer for Candelabra ... With Flat Stanley below! ;)