It's been a rough couple weeks.
I don't want to belabor this point because I really do want this post to be about levity and distraction, but the past couple weeks have made me want to wrap myself in a giant, warm, buttery tortilla, slather myself with cheese, and eat my way out to a brighter day.
Some of it is good old fashioned anxiety/depression stuff, some of it is money stuff, some of it is the holidays and the end of the year.
Basically, I've been fretting. I've been deep in my own head.
And while I think I've been able to keep up a cheery demeanor for others, I've been entirely too serious with myself. Luckily I am often my own antidote to gloom. However you want to look at it, I either tend to find myself in bizarre situations or find the bizarre in mundane situations. Whatever it is, there is nobody I'd rather laugh at than myself.
So for those of you who are also experiencing a bit of the end-of-the-year doldrums, I offer you three recent events that have lifted my spirits and gotten me out of my head.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, know that you're not alone, and that somewhere in Hong Kong there is a woman who sympathizes, and probably at that very moment is hoping that nobody saw what she just did.
"She's here all the time."
Two or three days a week I leave the comfort of my shoebox-sized apartment to work in a coffee shop.
My current favorite is a big place in the Central district of Hong Kong. It has two levels, generous cups of coffee, relatively reliable Wi-Fi, and just enough noise to be interesting but not distracting. Lots of other freelancers seem to inhabit the space, and as long as I stick to my corner at the communal table and buy beverages, the staff doesn't seem to care that I'm there.
On a typical day I drink two big cups of coffee. While the coffee keeps me fueled it also keeps me peeing. Every 30 to 45 minutes I have to get up, and trot up the tall, steep, tiled steps to the bathrooms upstairs.
Last week I was at this coffee shop on a rather soggy day. Not too rainy, but enough to make the floors a little slick. I was just starting my second cup of coffee when nature called. Like any good person who worries about the strength of their bladder (trampolines concern me) I immediately got up and scurried up the stairs to the bathroom.
As I was walking up the stairs I even remember thinking, "These are a little slippery today, BE CAREFUL LOUISE."
When I came out of the bathroom, and started down the staircase, I made it about halfway down. Then everything happened in a blur. The squeak of my rubber-sold shoe on wet tile, the POOMF! of my denim-clad butt hitting the step. The loud THWUMP-THWUMP-THWUMP-THWUMP-THWUMP of me sliding down the stairs on my ass.
I slid to a stop at the bottom of the stairs like a turkey at the end of a waterslide.
Did anybody see that?
If they didn't SEE it they sure HEARD it. There are few sounds so distinct as a butt THWUMPING down stairs.
And while I saw everyone in the coffee shop either pretending not to notice me by averting their eyes or, the more merciful, outright staring at me, I couldn't help but smile. The smile turned into a giggle, and as I dragged my smarting butt back to my seat, I allowed myself some genuine laughter. My ass may have been bruised (and still is), but my ego was not. It felt GREAT to laugh at such a cartoonish incident.
As I passed the register, I heard the coffee shop workers mumbling, and heard, "...she's here all the time." And I'll be back.
As some of you may remember I have a habit of unknowingly singing or talking to myself. While I've mostly come to terms with this — I give people the gift of talking about "the weird girl" on the subway — there are occasions when the disconnect between my brain and my mouth still mortify me...then bring me joy.
Sitting in another coffee shop a few days ago, I was delighted that they were playing Christmas music — for which I am a sucker. Happily typing away on my laptop, I noticed that "Last Christmas" by Wham! came on. Not my favorite, but oh-so-catchy. I committed to some expressive head bobbing.
Here, you can too:
Once bitten and twice shyyy...
I realized part way through the song that I was singing along out loud. Damnit, I was THAT person again — my cheeks burned and I buried my head in my laptop. And while I stopped singing, a voice that was not George Michael's kept going. For a moment I wondered if my mouth was no longer my own and the aliens had finally won.
Then I realized where the singing was coming from.
A young man, probably in his mid-twenties, dressed in gym clothes and typing on a laptop, was at the table next to me and was absentmindedly singing along as well. Seconds after I stopped singing and realized where the other voice was coming from, the man stopped singing too.
Glancing sheepishly up from his computer at me, he smiled and laughed. Then I smiled and laughed. Still smiling, he turned back to his computer and continued quietly singing. I did too, and so did George Michael.
The man and I did not talk, we did not commiserate on the wonderful weirdness of the moment. We just did our work, softly sang "Last Christmas" together, and when the song was done, so were we. He left about a half an hour later. We nodded to each other as he packed up, and that was that.
And that's all it needed to be. Just a tiny, lovely, silly moment between two strangers who needed some relief from the seriousness of their day.
Yesterday I went to quiz night at a pub in Wan Chai that some friends and I have taken a shine to. The Australian among us insisted that our team name be O'trivia Newton-John.
Anyway, when my husband and I arrived he headed to our table while I made a beeline for the women's restroom. I REALLY HAD TO PEE. The door was locked so I waited. Soon I was joined by two other women, and we all waited. And waited.
Once I start closing in on the 10-minute mark of waiting for a single-stall bathroom, these things usually go through my head:
1. Oh dear, what will I be walking into when it's my turn?
2. Everyone waiting for me at our table thinks I'm taking an epic dump. Any excuses will sound like a lie.
Looking at my cross-legged comrades, I leaned my ear into the door in the hopes of hearing a flush. I heard shuffling and the sink being turned on and off. Great. Someone was cleaning themselves up in there (not unheard of around here).
Sharing my findings with the other two women, we headed to the men's restroom. One of the women got about half way there and said that she could wait. The other woman and I soldiered on.
Getting to the men's room we knocked and found it empty — two urinals, one stall. "You go first," she said and I pee-pee-danced into the stall, thankful that I had made it.
Just as my butt met the seat, I heard the door open and footsteps cross the floor. "Uh...uh," the woman I had entered the men's room with sputtered. "There's a guy peeing now, so I'm leaving," and I heard her walk out.
Wanting to make sure we were all on the same page (???) I called out to the peeing man as I was peeing, "Hello? Um...just so you know, I'm here. Okay." He just kept peeing. What did I want him to say?
He finished up, and left the restroom. Just as I was about to leave the stall I heard another man come in and within seconds start peeing at the urinal. Then another man came in and did the same. I stood trapped in the stall.
I didn't want to just BUST OUT while they literally had their dicks in their hands. How unfair and invasive! "Don't mind me! I just REALLY had to pee! I can see that you know what I mean, am I right?"
When a third man came in and started peeing, I started to wonder how long I'd be trapped there. What if someone needed to poop?
When I heard the fourth guy start to wash his hands and no fifth stream of urine begin, I carefully opened the stall door and crept out. The man at the sink made eye contact with me in the mirror.
"Sorry," I said and ran out. (FYI there was a sink in the stall, so I washed my hands in there.)
When I finally sat down at our table I tried to explain to everyone how I got stuck in the men's room. I thought it was hilarious, but I'm pretty sure everyone just thought I had some major digestion issues.
I regret nothing.
Have any of you had any weirdly wonderful mishaps brighten your day recently? Have you had the opportunity to laugh at yourself?
Tell us! We could all use a break from ourselves.