Remember my travel list on Monday? It was so nice. I eat healthy breakfasts! I workout! I laugh and sing and am strangely content at all times!
Fate seized the opportunity to take my list and make a mockery of it, which is what all of you may have wanted to do when you read it to begin with. This week saw my well-composed travel life and raised it to new heights of ridiculous. And it wasted no time in getting started. This round of crazy began promptly on Monday morning – or rather, unpromptly on Monday morning.
After my alarm app never went off on Saturday or Sunday, I triple checked it on Sunday night to make sure it would go off on Monday morning. And yet Monday morning arrived an hour and a half later than anticipated all the same, which I realized when I picked up my phone, saw that the alarm had not sounded as planned, and felt the need to reprimand, “HEY. We talked about this!!!”
But, thankfully, I didn’t have to arrive in Pennsylvania until later that evening, so I had plenty of time to get ready and leave, albeit a bit later than expected.
Or so I thought.
My GPS struggles with the concept of Pennsylvania. I don’t know why; it’s a very straightforward state. And yet every time we attempt to drive through it together, it ends with words said in anger and additional
minutes hours added onto the travel time. On Monday I was driving down a highway, minding my own business, when the GPS suddenly decided that the highway didn’t exist after all.
And the remedy to this problem was to advise me to cross multiple green land-spaces and blue water-spaces to catch up with the purple line on “Stump Road.” A road that didn’t at all sound like it was going to lead to my demise.
It was this pursuit of the elusive Stump Road while floating through Pennsylvania that led to my dinner being the handful of almonds and three dried apricot slices within reaching distance since those leisurely dinner hours I had previously planned on evaporated in the general vicinity of the land and water spaces.
And with a dinner like that, I can’t imagine why no one wanted to talk to me at the college fair. It’s not like I had the look of a woman liable to rip your limbs off and beat you with them or anything.
The events of Monday lead to Tuesday’s events, or the reason why I went into the Cherry Hill Wegmans a normal person and came out of the Cherry Hill Wegmans a person carrying $20 worth of chocolate in various forms. It was an accurate summation of my mental state (and state of self control) at that time.
But as I sat down in the Panera across the street with a gigantic coffee and hot chunk of bread
sitting beside the salad that I totally ate first and a bar of good chocolate and George Straight telling me that, “Love’s gonna make it, love’s gonna make it alright,” via Pandora, I felt that all was right in the world again. Because if the love of hot carbs with a side of coffee and caffeine and country can’t make it alright, what can?
I ask you.
On Wednesday morning I woke up with joy. I had the morning off in NYC and I knew exactly where I was heading.
MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets and the Giants.
(Which is what all girls do with a morning off in New York City, right?)
I figured I’d start strong to get the day off to a good start and atone for the chocolate sins of the day prior. But come to find out…my hotel doesn’t have ice, which is a scenario I can only attribute to this week being this week. (Because doesn’t every hotel in the history of hotels have a unusually large black or brown machine that supplies ice sitting in the middle of every hallway next to a vending machine filled with imperishable food-like products?)
The prospect of a warm smoothie did not coincide with the joy I was otherwise feeling, so I came up with a quick remedy to the situation: the new blueberry oatmeal at Starbucks. Of course! I had been wanting to try it but since I usually don’t eat breakfast out on the road there hadn’t been an opportunity. But this, THIS! was the perfect opportunity! I’d get the oatmeal to go, take it over to the stadium, and sit in the parking lot eating oatmeal and sipping coffee and basking in the glory that is NFL stadiums.
These are the things (my) dreams are made of.
When I arrived at Starbucks and ordered the oatmeal in question I was informed that they were fresh out of oatmeal. And, just in case I was feeling generous towards this day that was clearly intent on being stingy in return, they were fresh out of everything else breakfast related, too. But that was fine. I knew there had to be another Starbucks somewhere (there was!) and chances were good that they’d have oatmeal or at least breakfast items (they did!) and…I was on my way to check another NFL stadium off my list! My enthusiasm was unable to be dampened.
So there I sat in the stadium parking lot, ready to bask in aforementioned glory, ready to feel invigorated as per Green Bay and Denver and Dallas and New England.
And there I sat watching construction, with construction workers watching me.
You might say it was less than ideal. But I was intent on making the most out of it. I ate oatmeal and drank coffee! I listened to Mike & Mike in the Morning – and, appropriately, they were interviewing Archie Manning! I found the main entrance and took pictures!
At which time, as I approached the main entrance, a (very nice) security officer told me that visitors aren’t allowed on the premises. At all. Not in the atrium, not for tours, not for any purpose but to sit in the parking lot and eat oatmeal and take pictures while getting winked at by construction workers.
This, by all means, was not tragic in the true sense of the word. It’s not like I had visions of dancing the salsa with Victor Cruz in the locker room and tracking down Mark Sanchez to ask how his shoulder was feeling post-surgery. I just wanted to see another stadium because I really love stadiums. And getting the almost immediate shut-down was just enough of a disappointment to let all of the other frustrations I had been trying to beat back with an optimism stick have an opportunity to pounce.
And here’s the thing about disappointments and frustrations and letting a negative mindset creep in: when you let all of those things pounce, they’ll do more than just pounce. They’ll move in and take over until you actively kick them out again. They’ll make you blind to the fact that nothing is actually wrong.
But you’d bet your bottom dollar that the sky is falling right on top of you.
And thus: Wednesday.
On Thursday I was tasked with driving into lower Manhattan for a college fair at a high school, which ended up being an 8-mile trip that took more than 2 hours and made me gain a new appreciation for the term “road rage.” However, as I left the fair and walked through the city streets to get my car in the parking garage, I saw a new opportunity, one that was markedly different than stewing in disappointment.
I love New York City. And I love exploring new places in the City. And even though I wasn’t feeling the best I’ve ever felt, and this week’s track record would suggest that a positive result was not impending, and I didn’t particularly want to drive uptown and have to deal with parking/traffic/pedestrians, I decided to go for it anyways. Because there was so much good right there for the taking, if I chose to take it and run with it.
And as it turns out, going on a mini-adventure in the City was the best medicine. I went to Chobani SoHo and got to meet the great employees who work at the shop and also got to experience two amazing flavor combinations. I got the best cup of coffee (which, being in NYC, makes me think of Elf) from a barista who was from, of all places, North Chili – the suburb of Rochester where Roberts is located. I PARKED ON THE STREET. Sans-ticket! And I found a street with my name on it! And I made friends with a crosswalk guard who helped me find my way around!
I had a great afternoon.
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a recent graduate who was covering a few fairs for her school. I asked her how she was holding up, and she asked in return, “How do you people do this for weeks on end?!”
I responded without giving it too much thought. “A lot of coffee, a healthy perspective, and a great sense of humor.”
And I really believe that’s true, in admissions travel and in life. We need something to give us fuel (coffee, Jesus, good food, close friends); we need to keep a healthy perspective on the reality of our circumstances in light of what other people have to deal with on a daily basis; and we need to LAUGH. A lot! We need to be able to find the humor, or at least the good, in every single situation. Because it’s always there for the taking.
Finding the humor was essential on Friday morning, which arrived bright and early with a 4-hour college fair. In Harlem. For those of you who have served a tour of duty in admissions, you know that any fair lasting longer than two hours is a circle of hell that Dante never had the opportunity to consider, otherwise Dante’s Inferno would have been named Dante’s Inferno Which Occurred at a College Fair Lasting Longer Than Two Hours.
So I found the humor. I found the humor in some of the questions being asked, such as, “Do all of the professors live on campus?” I found the humor in holding my tongue when I really wanted to respond with an answer that referenced Hogwarts. I found the humor in the PURE JOY that overtook me when I remembered I had stashed a mini KitKat in my bag for a desperate moment at a fair…and 3 hours into a 4 hour fair was precisely that moment.
There were plenty of other things that happened this week that could easily fit in the “not ideal” category. But I’m starting to think that the only reason that category exists is because I’ve created it. And there is no good reason why I can’t relabel it “finding the good” instead.
The point is, as per this week, as per every week – life is not linear. There are great moments and not great moments, and in between things are always going to go wrong. Always. And it’s easy to notice them, because they tend to feel heavier than the things that go right. We’re also taught to notice them – and complain about them – as a societal rule, much more than we are taught to celebrate the good. But there are 10,000 reasons to be grateful for what comes and find the best in it. Especially as citizens of this country, and especially as followers of Christ. We have everything we need and then some. We just have to choose to see it and then embrace it.
I love these lines from the song 10,000 Reasons as an anthem for finding the good:
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
Let’s go have weekends filled with 10,000 reasons to find the good.