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Onward Managing Soldier...


Today, people that know me and see me on a daily basis will have the pleasure of seeing me freak out.

It's not a scary thing. No need to lock me up or anything. I just get really crazy stressed out before I leave for a long trip.

And tomorrow, I'm leaving for a week-long trip to Washington D.C.

I'm a bit of a homebody. I like my Road Runner Internet service. I like watching TV in my living room. I enjoy the delicate architecture of my duplex that allows me to reach through the columns from my futon in the living room and close the refrigerator in the kitchen.

I've been living in my current place for a year and a half, and I can't even describe how comfortable I am there. It's just big enough for me and all my stuff, but not so huge that I get overwhelmed when I have to clean. There's just enough space so that when I go from one room to the next, it feels like a change of locale without feeling like a walk. And there's no stairs to injure myself on.

The bathroom is just the right distance from the bed. It's never a danger of being too far for late night emergency urine runs, but it's not so close that it will wake me if there happens to be a water leak or if the toilet is running.

If you feel trapped and isolated and cramped in your house, that's bad. If you feel like you could get winded walking from one side of the house to the next, that's bad. If you get misty eyed thinking of how cozy you'll be when you go home from work at the end of the day… that's good. My house is the third house that the chick from the Three Bears story tries out, and finds it fits just right.

I don't know a whole lot about Feng Shui, but the house definitely has Omie Shui.

Which is what makes it hard to go on a long trip. Uncomfortable bed. Hotel rooms where the curtains are built in such a way that they let an ungodly amount of light into the room at 5:30 a.m. Big, nasty hotel air conditioners that are always way too cold.

Not that I don't like traveling. But I vastly prefer traveling to places where I have friends I can stay with because they usually have nice places and are good at setting me at ease, making me feel welcome.

What if I'm only
effective at being
a fuckwad?

This trip I'm taking now is in a town where I don't really know too many people, certainly not anyone I'd feel I could crash with. So, I'm going to be staying in a big hotel near Dulles airport and attending management training sessions.

Here's my concern: I got into this management thing kind of by accident. I like it, but it's not what I set out to do. I only did it on the condition that I'd still get to do lots of writing, which essentially is still happening.

But I don’t know how to manage people. I'm totally playing this by ear, and I have been for almost nine months now. Nobody's quit because of me (I think), and I've managed to hire some really great people, so on that end I think things are okay. And our section hasn't gone down in flames, bringing ruin and shame upon our paper.

So this management training thing: I don't know what they're going to tell me. I can only hope they'll alleviate some of my fear. I fear that I'm too young for this. I don't fear so much making mistakes as I fear that my mistakes are going to adversely affect people who trust me and rely on me as their boss. That scares the multicolored crap out of me.

So maybe this is a good thing. Maybe they'll tell me not to worry and just think before I act. Always good advice.

It may be boring, they may give us homework (homework!?!), they may even ask us to present our new bad-ass management skillz in front of the class. I'm going to give it a chance.

But that doesn't mean I won't miss being at home, curled up in front of the DVD player with my cat scratching the furniture.

And the preparation always scares me because I'm terrible about planning for a trip. I always forget to stop the newspaper from being delivered. I end up forgetting one vital article of clothing. One time I completely forgot to take socks. Another time, I forgot to pack underwear. No matter how much cat food I leave, I always come back to find the bowls empty. I leave the iron plugged in. I buy a bunch of groceries that spoil while I'm gone. My doors are probably all wide open and the windows are unbolted.

I just get overwhelmed, because like all journalists, I wait until the last minute to do every little thing, and suddenly it's an hour and a half before the flight and I don't even know where my suitcase is. I drive to the airport, frantically looking at my watch, wondering if the bus from long-term parking is ever going to arrive.

It's no fun to be around me the day before a trip like this. I moan about all the stuff that needs to be done, yet I never actively turn that energy into preparing for the trip. I'm like the opposite of efficient solar power.

And I never know what to pack. What's the weather like in Washington? Should I take two pairs of shoes or three? What about a jacket? Light or heavy? Should I take the GameBoy, or will that just keep me from doing some writing on the flight? How many books should I take to read? Is it worth borrowing a laptop to take? How am I gonna check my e-mail? Should I rent a car? How will I even get around Washington?

There was a chance earlier this week that my entire trip was going to get cancelled. One of my bosses found out how much the training would cost and wondered if there was a way I could take a cheaper course somewhere else. At first I was all mad. Like, how dare they cancel my trip the week before I leave after I'd had it set up for months. And then, I thought, "Hey, that means I don't have to go! I can stay home and write recaps and eat frozen dinners and not have to deal with traveling!"

Pathetic, no?

The younger me, the one that loves to travel and be adventurous, would have kicked my ass with a tire iron for saying all that. But it's true. I'm really comfortable. I was actually happy that my trip was getting cancelled.

What kind of wussy shit is that?

To Washington, D.C., troops! We're gonna have an adventure!



Of course, this means I'll be gone next week and the chances that I'll be able to update Terribly Happy are next to nil.

This is strange. I've been doing this site constantly since October without a break. It's difficult sometimes (Tracy says she can tell when I'm bored and couldn't think of anything good to write), but good or bad, it's become part of my week. It's worked its way into my life, and I have a huge fear that when people come and see that the site hasn't been updated, they'll just go away and never come back.

Lord knows I've done it myself with other sites that don’t update regularly.

I thought of ways I could take a laptop and update from Washington, and then I started thinking that maybe I was being a little too obsessive and that I should take the trip as a necessary break. It's just a week. Damn, beeyatch, chill already!


I'll try to chill.

Oh, I also didn't get nominated for the Diarist Awards. I have no right whatsoever to feel sorry for myself, because there's like five million great journals out there, but it still stung a little tiny bit. You come out, you try to do the best job you can, and you try to tell yourself sternly that it's not because you aren't good enough that you didn't get nominated.

But, still…

I made myself feel better by going to some of the sites that were nominated and reading entries from them. They're actually all very good, and really well written.

I come from a business (newspapers) where professional writers look down a bit on people who write for free on the Web. If they don't get paid for it, the logic goes, how good can their writing be?

Really fucking good. Seriously. Traditional media could take some huge lessons from the stuff that's being put out on the Web right now.

After I looked at those sites, I sent each of the nominees an e-mail with a big picture of dog poo on it and wrote underneath, "This is your site."

No, not really.

Seriously, they're really great journals. Go look at those nominee lists and check out some of those sites.

I'll talk to ya'll a week from Monday.



This guy is such a
good manager, it hurts
me to even look at him.

One more work thing: I'm thinking of taking everyone to a matinee today from work. Somebody jokingly suggested it at lunch earlier this week, and I was all like, "Hell yeah, why don't we go see a movie on Fridays!"

I mean, if we get everything done for the week, why shouldn't we go enjoy ourselves on company time? Shit, let's go see some Crouching Tiger.

We deserve it.

I swear, they're going to throw me out of this management training thing.

I so don't belong there.


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