I started this blog to keep my church, friends and family updated on my year volunteering in Katrina recovery with the Presbyterian Church (USA). I've now signed on for a second year working in disaster recovery and another year living in Mississippi. It's getting good....

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The (not so) Great In-Trailer Retreat

I've been a little stressed lately with the return from a long vacation, catching up on emails/voicemails, preparing for my transition at work, apartment hunting in Chicago, preparing to pack out of Mississippi, attending weddings, planning fall travel trips, searching for my birth certificate, dealing with insurance issues, trying to schedule doctor/dentist appointments before losing my medical benefits, job hunting, saying goodbye to my friends, etc., etc. I don't say this to complain, because many of these stressors are very exciting, positive happenings, but they do, however, all require a lot of planning and preparation, which does stress me out. In order to chill a bit, I decided to take this weekend to myself and enjoy a retreat in my trailer.

It was perfect timing. It's been super hot here lately and the trailer has some high powered a/c. We're very low on volunteers, so all weekend working isn't necessary. It's a holiday weekend so most folks are busy with family/friends and won't notice my absence. Oh, and it was Wimbledon Championship weekend and Swimming and Track Olympic Trials time.

The problem with spending a retreat weekend in your trailer, I found, is that too much time in the trailer makes you lose sight of the outside world. When that happens, it just bumms me out.

Here's what I mean:
Example #1: Four cans of soda in one day is never necessary. I'm not sure my teeth will forgive me.

Example #2: I forget that I doesn't take 4 Gilmore Girls episodes to dry one load of laundry, so when I arrive back at the laundry room, someone else has already taken my semi-dry, wrinkly stuff out of the machine (and I'm sure I've pissed them off). Curses!

Example #3: Three 1/3 read books does not equal one completely read book no matter how you try to relate them. That means there is still a stack of semi-read books next to my bed, judging me, taunting me, and generally telling me I'm an idiot. Now my books are mocking me and, oh crap, I'm in the grocery store, buying more soda, talking to myself out loud about how I can get the books to leave me alone.

Example #4: I took a daily break of the trailer to take Eddie for a walk and totally forgot that it is 4th of July weekend. Big family picnics and street fireworks are not good places for hungry, friendly, but scared-of-loud-noises dogs.

Example #5: Three days of critically over-analyzing your life can be very bad for your mental health. If you are an over-analyzer who's also prone to emotional eating, this bodes poorly not only for the elastic on your mesh shorts (official trailer retreat wear) but also for the ice cream and cheeto stashes in the main dining tent.*

Example #6: Normal people don't watch Old School twice in a row. I'm just sayin'.

Example #7: I left Eddie in the trailer for about 25 seconds unattended. He jumped on my bed and found the secret stash of chocolate chips by my alarm clock. (Hey, you wake up to coffee, I say goodnight with chocolate...I don't judge you!) When I came back in the trailer, he jumped off the bed and left the slobbery bag of chocolate chips on the floor. While picking them up, I thought twice about picking out the not-slobbery ones before throwing the bag away. I was going to eat already-chewed-by-a-cute-but-filthy-dog chocolate chips!

Example #8: I'm pretty sure that none of my 'real world' friends received work emails on a Sunday afternoon with a subject line that reads, "fire ant bites" requiring immediate response. This thought gets me spinning on what I now consider to be the 'real world'.

While these examples are listed here in hopes of making you laugh, they were also moments of my weekend that made me a bit sad. Being down on the coast for nearly two years has left me out of touch with the rest of the world. As I prepare for re-entry, I'm a bit stressed about that transition. I have no shortage of books and friends and wild travel plans to help me through this transition, but that doesn't mean I won't stress about it. However, the next time I get all stressed and think a weekend alone will make me feel better, someone please remind me that there's a whole world of things to do outside my metal trailer walls...

*I will note that at my lowest point in the self-inflicted retreat saddness, I made a call to an older, wiser confidant (who for reasons about to be revealed shall remain nameless) who listened to me whine and then told me that she had, this very weekend, taken a quick break from wimbeldon/olympic trials watching and walked to her local grocery store to buy not one, not two, not three, but four Dove bars. No word on how many she actually polished off today, because I would never ask, but yes, it did make me feel better to know I wasn't alone!

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