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Why do people cringe when I say I have a cunning plan?

Jewelry Maker (surprisingly wearing gloves)

I think I have finally arrived at the point in my life where I understand and accept that I am not a normal person. (I know this must come as a surprise to many of you.) I see the world the same way everyone else does, but somehow it’s translated differently in my brain. Information enters in the normal way, but then it’s twisted into a pretzel, braided into rope, tied into knots, cut apart, reattached, and then smoothed out with an iron. In doing so it becomes something entirely different. This is where my life diverges from the norm. This is also the moment when my cunning plan frequently becomes a harebrained scheme.

You might ask what the difference is between the two? Very simply, it’s the outcome. A cunning plan is eventually successful. A harebrained scheme often ends with expensive mistakes, band aids, multiple trips to the hardware, grocery, art, or computer store, and/or an eventual visit to the emergency room. I think a key to understanding the difference between the two also requires understanding how I came to see the world in this unique way.

My dad's cunning plan (being towed by the car.)

For my view of the world, I thank my dad. He also sees things with different eyes. (We may be the only father/daughter team to have both fallen off a house roof. Not together, you understand, but years apart. (I’ll save that story for another time.) Dad has taught me how to look at something and really see the parts and not just the whole. It’s sort of the difference between seeing the forest or the trees. I see a problem and identify the issue instead of simply trying to find a solution. For example, if the problem is the can opener doesn’t work, the solution may be to get a new one. In my eyes, the can opener doesn’t work because the gears have rusted over time and use. My solution involved taking the can opener apart, cleaning the rust, sharpening the blades, oiling each part, and putting it back together. This outcome would qualify as a cunning plan. However, my outcome ended with doing each step again, and again, and a couples of steps a third time. It also involved cutting my finger with the knife I was using to scrape off the rust, slipping while sharpening the blade and putting a gash in my palm, losing the gasket that sits between the gears, needing to run to the hardware store for a new one, putting a butterfly bandage on the cut finger, using superglue to close the gash in my palm, and wiping up the oil I spilled (only after I slipped and found myself sitting on the floor). This categorizes it as a harebrained scheme. (In all fairness though, the can opener works great again.)

I live for the next cunning plan. I walk through stores looking at items and thinking about other ways they might be used. My coworkers think I have a doctorate in using ordinary items in unusual ways. Recently a cunning plan included oversized light bulbs from work, wire, semi-aquatic plants, expanding soil, lots of water, a grabber sort of thingy, a turkey baster, and ladybug shaped buttons from a kid’s outfit. Put it all together and you have a hanging terrarium! Voila! A successful cunning plan.

As I sit here thinking, I am struggling to remember my last harebrained scheme. Is it possible I have blocked it from my mind? I have an ace bandage wrapped around my left wrist that attests to the fact that something went wrong lately. I believe that involved new roller blades, three beers, 11:30 at night and our pit bull looking down at me from the chair as I landed on the floor. (His tail thumping rapidly showed he thought it was a great cunning plan.) At any rate, I am fortunate to have a partner who is willing to put up with my harebrained schemes, put a stop to the more dangerous ones, and drive me to the hospital when I can’t do it myself.

Side note: Mike has learned the difference between a bad cut and a really bad cut. When her hears damn, ouch, shit, or other creative curse words – he knows to ignore me. When he hears hhhhhhu (sound of a quick inhalation of breath), he comes running. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one none the less.

Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again – this time more intelligently.” I think I would like that on my tombstone. It’s better than, “She died a stupid death. If only she had used the ladder and not the set of stacked chairs.” Ah well, on to the next cunning plan.

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