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So, I made it through Scary Perry again. It was the most stressful… - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Nov. 2nd, 2012|04:23 pm]
So, I made it through Scary Perry again. It was the most stressful lead-in to that event ever in some ways, in other ways, the least stressful. (For the record, I had to re-write that to un-Dickens it. It was too cheap a joke.)

First, to let you know that I’m still working true to form, I have a bit of a black eye. No, an actual one. See, here’s how I rig the spiders, some of the ghosts, that hang from branches not accessible by ladder. I get the ladder situated as close as I can…mind you, there’s not a place in the yard that’s level AND near a branch I need to hang things off of, so I begin by violating rules of safety by climbing up on a ladder that is really on a level surface. Okay, safety fail number one. But having done this for years now, the ladder and I have come to an understanding where I stay on one side of the rungs and climb very slowly, testing the whole way. And then I take one end of the rigging rope, tie a trowel to it, and throw it over the branch. Usually it takes a few tries, but having been a shotputter/javelin thrower in high school (O, I did all the feminine sports!) I’m reasonably good at it. Plus, I’ve been throwing this same trowel for several years. I know its heft. I also learned, from almost braining myself the first time I did it, to have a hand on the other end of the rope, so that once it’s over the branch, I can pull it back so that it doesn’t some swinging at my head. Because it will. I started using a trowel because it seemed slightly safer than the claw hammer that came at my face one day. Slightly.

So, there I was, rigging the ghost pirate, feeling a small amount of pride in getting the trowel/rope over the branch on the second try, pulling up on the end of the rope to stop the trowel just as it was safely over the branch, arresting its swingback just as it hit the plane of the branch, then lowering down just enough to ensure that the rope would stay over the branch until I could drive in a stake and tie it off. Climbing down the ladder, pulling the stake and mallet out of my back pocket, and walking forward, right into the edge of the dangling trowel. Hard. With my EYE.

Thankfully, the non-thinking part of my brain saw it coming and I was able to duck just enough to catch it on the edge of my eye socket. So, I’ve had fun walking around work the past two days saying “yeah, I walked into a trowel.”

“What, a trowel?”

“Yes, it’s a garden implement. What you use to dig up soil. It was a Halloween thing.” Maybe they’d ask someone else for more details, but I’ve unnerved them enough times that no one seems to want to explore this any further.

Next time I’m in a meeting and someone wants an explanation of why I did something in a negotiation, I’m going to say “It’s a Halloween thing.” And see how much legs that has, out of season.

But I’m very proud of myself because I wielded two skills, one of which is new and still a little painful to use, but I’m determined to get better at it, and the other is one I’ve honed over decades and seems to be in rare supply in the general population.

The one I’m good at, is triaging. The realization that 100% isn’t possible. 90% isn’t…sometimes it’s just 30%...but ascertaining what IS going to be possible and then proceeding with the plan to get what is actually possible done. And not wasting time wringing hands over what might have been. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, this was an extra strain this year. I take Scary Perry set up very seriously – we don’t set up in advance, except maybe running electrical cords, some stakes or supports…but it all happens Halloween day. Which means you’ve got to be ready – especially, if like me, you’re not just decorating your yard, but also setting up a party, handling the street logistics (check-in/launch calls to emergency centers, closing off the street, luminary deployment, sewer scenario) plus the dozens of last minute “hey, do you have a whatever I can borrow/use/have?” requests from neighbors. So, starting about two weeks ahead of time, I’ve laid out what’s going to happen on what day – the day we cut bamboo, the day we distribute tombstones, the day I lay electrical, the day I do rigging, the evenings are planned out for food, last minute props, screwing in 50 spotlight bulbs. You know, the stuff you do to get ready for Halloween. And thankfully, I’ve got a team of regulars who show up to help. And they’ve been doing it for years. So Fetch takes care of getting the food warming, taping over the windows, mixing and prepping the candy. Fetch’s husband takes care of filling the coolers, moving them to where they need to be. Lyndsay’s velcro’ing tombstones to stakes, Dot’s attaching the eyeballs to the plants and setting up the vultures. The Captain, Bill and Joe are building the mausoleum and the cemetery.

Except first there was a hurricane. So the plans for Saturday and Sunday, the pre-rigging, well, that was a wash because clearly NOTHING could happen outside until the hurricane passed. But okay, so I redrew the plans and priorities. And then one couple wasn’t going to be able to show up…okay, I’ll need to take care of those things…and then the other couple had to bail…then the Captain, then Fetch, all for very good reasons, but suddenly, there I was, all by myself, covered in papercuts and smudges from tearing up and re-doing plans and priorities, needing to figure out how to get it ALL done.

So, I did what for me, is nearly unthinkable. I reached out and asked for help. Augh. I don’t even like the SOUND of it. But yes, I asked several people to show up early, an e-mail that was excruciating to write, made me nauseous to hit “send” and then left me feeling lame and weak. But, I did it. I had to. And once I broke that mental barrier, it was that much easier, when neighbors would ask if I needed a hand to say “yeah, do you have five minutes to help me carry this too-heavy-for-just-me-thing from there to here?” And when the Ex called to say he was dropping off the fog machine he borrowed for an event, for me to say “hey, build in ten extra minutes into your stop and help me put up the tents, would you?” I sort of got a little giggly at people’s faces when they realized that I had said, yes, I DO need you to help me. But no one demanded to see my navel, so the novelty factor was probably mostly in my own mind.

Oooh, I hate asking for help. I mean, I’m all about drafting, dragooning, pressing any idle bystander into service, when it’s for the greater good. Here we are, THIS needs to happen, here, you, go accomplish this one piece, instead of just standing there, shooting the breeze. But to ask in advance. In a non-emergency, for all I know you have a far more important priority to take care of….gah. I don’t even like calling people on the phone because I worry that I might be interrupting something they need to be doing. In a world like mine, where making a non-essential phone call feels needy…imagine the mental strain it took to ask people to possibly rearrange their day on my behalf! Not for a huge greater good, but really, just for my own personal party, for making my little corner of the world a little brighter for a couple of hours. I can totally ask for help when I ‘m engaged in doing stuff for OTHER people, as some of you have learned…Virginia Faire, cough, cough. But for ME?

It’s all my parents fault. I mean, German plus English plus Danish is all sorts of self-reliance, stiff-upper-lipping, I-can-conquer-the-worlding, with a more than fair dose of stubborn pigheadedness. I can’t look in any direction on my family tree and see anyone who asks for help ever. Except for the two uncles who married in, and well, thankfully, failed to reproduce and dilute our independence. And then growing up, the test for having a pet, for having a horse was that you had to do it all. YOUR responsibility to clean the cage, water, walk, feed, muck stalls, whatever was needed. Or, you couldn’t have the pet. Period. Now realistically, my parents did help…although by the time I’d escalated from gerbil/guinea pig/fish/parrot to horse, there was less and less help from my parents and more insistence that this animal is all on you. If it’s too much, then we can just sell him. And I’m nothing if not literal. So asking for help pretty much equaled asking my parents to sell my horse. So, I dealt. And never asked for help. Admittedly, my Dad was on the road a lot, and my mother had her hands full with two kids and a job. So when the barn kept flooding, I got a book out of the library and figured out how to make a French drain. And got strong enough to haul 100 pound sacks of grain around. Another book for electric fence instructions. How to raise chickens. How to euthanize chickens. Because if I had to ask for help…someone might make me give it up.

To be fair, seriously? What a literal worrywart. Holy crap, my parents loved me and loved seeing me happy. There were miles and miles and miles between me needing help with the animals and those needs becoming so burdensome that my parents would want to get rid of them. But literal. Oh, goodness, if you’ve ever tried to tell me a subtle joke or pun, then you’ve already shaken your head at that particular blind spot of mine. The rest of you will have to trust me. The cynical, savvy, sharp-tongued and witted part of me, has got a big, giant swath of earnest gullibility.

Anyway, it was a huge step for me. Not a comfortable one. And hopefully not one I’ll ever, ever, have to take again. (No, okay, personal development…I’m trying to be okay with it. Not hyperventilating at the THOUGHT of it, how’s that for a 2013 goal?)

Now, by the time my helpers showed up that afternoon, my brain was pretty fried and shredded, as it usually is in those last few crunch hours, where there are dozens of things to do, but articulating them and explaining them are sometimes hard, especially when you’re being interrupted by questions from neighbors every three minutes. But thankfully, they hung in there, figured out what needed doing, and took charge – That Liar Diego being Master of Cemetaries, in particular. And in some ways, it was a bit easier, BECAUSE I didn’t have six people asking questions/looking for direction ALL day, having to worry if they got lunch, beverages, Neosporin. I had time to get my stuff done, uninterrupted, which was sort of nice. Although, I did discover a special ability to rig lots of spotlights into a circle, carefully avoiding connecting any of them to a live power feed, which is a skill I probably could use a little less of.

And everything turned out fine. And we made it through. And the kids were so, so, so damn happy. And my friends and I stood around and got contact highs from kidjoy. Which made all the crazy worthwhile.

Plus – not having put everything out? Made cleaning up pretty damn easy.

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: sestree
2012-11-02 10:34 pm (UTC)
I feel bad we had to skip. :( I would have came early and hauled/carried/fetched/schlepped
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[User Picture]From: im_geva
2012-11-03 06:34 pm (UTC)
Heh. You're so funny. Like Scary Perry is all done just to make you happy. 3,000 children come to your neighborhood and take candy just to please you.

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[User Picture]From: ferlonda
2012-11-06 02:45 am (UTC)
Golly... I just love you. Thanks for the party, it really was amazing- especially the "contact highs from kidjoy." Thanks for this post, too. I think this was my favorite one yet.
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