I pride myself on being a person who can TCB, take care of business. If I see a problem, I fix it. If someone says it can’t be done, I figure out a way. I have plans, back-up plans, and back-ups to the back-up. There’s a reason some of my friends have taken to calling me Honeybadger. (From this inexplicably viral video: “The honeybadger has been referred to by the Guiness Book of World Records as the most fearless animal in all of the animal kingdom. It really doesn’t give a shit.”)
So when I heard that all the Irene nonsense was threatening to interfere with my book event yesterday at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Pittsburgh with Laura Lippman, I got to work. I stalked Irene on the internet like a bad ex-boyfriend, anticipating her descent on the city. I moved my return flight to Monday. I booked an extra night in a hotel. I figured out when I would make up my Tuesday classes at the law school, just in case.
Laura kindly offered to let me detour to her place in Baltimore if necessary, so I was armed with an arsenal of options and information: all flight and train schedules from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and DC. I was going to kick Irene’s butt.
But then something changed Friday afternoon. The mayor announced the closure of the entire public transit system starting at noon, a good eight hours before the earliest predictions of the storm. Car services stopped taking bookings to the airport. Still, I had faith my Saturday morning flight would be fine. Surely the airline would want to move planes out of the New York area.
Friday night, I got the news. My flight was canceled.
My inner honeybadger refused to give up. I could take the morning train to Baltimore in time to hop into Laura’s car. The two of us would Thelma and Louise it to Pittsburgh (minus the rape, robbery, and suicide pact, of course). I would stay in the hotel and write until the storm passed. I would be the victor!
And then someone saner than I spoke up. In a calm, neutral voice, she asked me to imagine that the worst, most hysterical predictions were accurate. Did I really want to be on a train heading into the storm? Did I really want to risk not being able to get home in time for class? How would I feel in the hotel, watching the storm on the news if I couldn’t get hold of my husband and the Duffer?
So at the end of the day on Friday, I did something I rarely do. I gave up. Or gave in. I accepted that some things weren’t worth fighting. I may think I’m more clever than the average bear (okay, I am more clever than the average bear). But I can’t predict the unpredictable. I can’t control the weather. And as much as I adore Mary Alice and Richard at Mystery Lovers Bookshop, as much as I love me some Laura Lippman, this one wasn’t going to happen.
I suppose I could feel beaten. I imagine some would say I should have to resign my Honeybadger status. But I think even the Honeybadger knows when to pick its battles.
As it turns out, Irene went out with a whimper, but there was no way to know that in advance and therefore no reason to have regrets. Added bonus: The weekend turned out to be a pretty cool time in the city.
When was the last time you decided not to try to control something? What happened?
P.S. Speaking of my canceled event with Laura, here is a nice joint interview in the Pittsburgh paper about the benefits of a shared tour event. Some of you may enjoy it. Be sure to pick up a copy of Laura’s new book, The Most Dangerous Thing. She’s such a major talent!