If you’ve been reading this blog for more than 2 seconds, its pretty clear I have a a problem with impulse control. I love love love making decisions. Really fast. And informed by the minimum of data. In fact, if I don’t know anything about it and you need to right know now, well I’m practically a PhD candidate on why you should, definitely, go for it (but wear good underwear). It might be due to a career spent in consulting (the land of the instant expert), but I seem to remember it plaguing me back in elementary school when I demanded and pleaded for a haircut because Carl Postle dared me. My mother saw her opportunity to be permanently relieved of braiding duty and aided my impulsive decision. The next day I returned to school sans 11 inches of hair and with bangs which refused to lie down. I inadvertently became the only punk in 3th grade. Good decision? Well it’s taken 30 odd years to grow back but meanwhile I’ve rocked every color and style under the sun, so.. kinda?
I’m clearly from the school of ‘whats the worse that could happen?’ and since I’ve not yet been arrested or had a haircut I can’t live with .. well it seems to have served me ok. When someone asks me whether I have regrets, I’m with Frank- ‘ I’ve had a few’.
My first tattoo
I’d always wanted a tattoo but given the associations in the UK – prisoner, hooker, sailor – I’d held off throughout my rebellious years, through my 20s and well into my 30s. I regularly wrote on myself – but largely decisions I had forgotten to make or reminders about milk – and I loved the idea of permanently painting something on my body. I didn’t actually like the way tattoos looked – not that I knew many hookers, but some of the locals were decidedly sketchy back in Wales- but since anchors, ‘Mum’ and boobs seemed to feature, I figured that it was just choosing the right design. Fast forward to 9am on my 38th birthday as the guy is inking a large Union Jack on the back of my neck. And by large, I mean LARGE. This thing practically wrapped around my shoulders like a post Olympic run. The flag was a quick idea that I’d had while driving to the shop – I’ll always be British, ergo it will always been relevant – and it seemed like a good idea until I realized that a large red, white and blue flag on the back of my neck might be considered non business attire at work. Time to start growing my hair I guess. I wore scarves and turtlenecks throughout 2009 and finally worked up the courage to show my mother. That’s when I learned the flaw in my speedy decision.
Apparently in my absence from the UK, the British Nationalist party (aka the British Nazis) had adopted the ‘flag on the back of the neck’ tattoo to indicate membership of the party. I was basically walking around with a swastika tattooed on my head.
I now have an enormous, slightly square butterfly on the back of my neck.
I’ve mentioned this before, so I won’t repeat myself. But I do know this. No-one should think on the morning of their wedding – ‘ oh well if it doesn’t work out, I can always get divorced’. Nuff said.
The ‘Money Pit’
After a few years living in a tiny duplex I developed a passionate desire for more space and a garden for my dog to run around. When I say developed, basically I got pissed off in the space of a snow bound weekend. The sign went up and despite warnings from my realtors that the house might take 30-60 days to sell, it sold in 4 days. Oh shit. I hadn’t looked at a single house.
In a frenzy of activity I started viewing every house within a 10 bock radius (I loved my neighbors, my ch ch neighborhood and our annual street party) to no avail. That was day 1. By day 4, I was desperate, my price point had escalated by $50,000 and I was now looking in neighborhoods with no name. Where the residents considered the walk back from the bar at 3am a street party. And shifty guys actually pushed shopping carts filled with cans. My realtor, excited by the escalating price point told me it was an ‘up and coming’ neighborhood as the dollar signs spun in her head.
I settled on a house in a no name neighborhood with no street parking, lots of rental units and 1 block from a major artery into the city. Because it had a red wall in the living room. Yes, a $375,000 decision based on a wall. I walked around the house once for about 10 minutes and decided to buy. I loved that red wall. 5 weeks later I was moving in and the lack of data aspect of my decision started to reveal itself.
First the water heater blew. Then the HVAC guy told me that the boiler was undersized for the square footage of the house. I hung curtains and noticed that the crack in my window was creating a jet stream through my bedroom. And then one day while walking the dog I returned to find the front of the house had actually fallen off. Yes.. my beautiful Craftsman tiling had dropped off revealing 100 year old wooden planks. Which were rotten. As the snow fell – outside and inside my bedroom- I realized that despite my beautiful red wall, I might have made a bad decision. The nail in the coffin for the house came 2 days before my parents were due to arrive from the UK for an extended stay. I noticed that water was gushing down the side of the house and was informed by Dave, my HVAC best friend, that my swamp cooler was busted. He climbed on the roof to inspect further and shouted down with some glee ‘…and did you know you need a new roof?’
After spending $38,000 on local tradesman and numerous weekends at Home Depot, just 42 weeks after buying the money pit, I moved out. I now rent a 600 sq ft apartment.
So there you have it. Impulse control. On the positive side, poor impulse control led to me moving to the US, finding amazing friends, some crazy crazy nights. I’ve had some amazing adventures, not least my decision to the move the US, hiking the Grand Canyon on Christmas day in the snow, moving to Seattle, learning to ride a motorcycle and following the Tour De France through the Alps. On the downside, I’ve had to support some terrible terrible decisions and my therapist has a lot of work to do.
But I’ve quite the bank of stories for my dotage. Which apparently I’ll be spending in a wheelchair with a full face tattoo and a Mohawk.