Sunday, June 14, 2009

When Things Don't Go the Way You've Planned...

I had today all mapped out. 'Today' being Saturday, the day I'm writing this post. Not 'today' as in Sunday, the day you're reading it. The plan was to get up early, go for a long walk on the beach, come home and get laundry going, spend an hour in the garage sorting through things for an upcoming garage sale (we're sorting an hour a day to avoid burnout and bad decisions), sit down at the computer at 1:00, then write write write the rest of the day until break time this evening for the rest of LOST IN AUSTEN, a truly hysterical and loving send-up of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. If you're an Austen fan, put this on your Netflix queue.

Well, the early start didn't happen. Despite the best efforts of our cats to get us up bright and early, Dave and I slept in till 8:00. I was woozy from a migraine pill, plus had a cat draped across my head while gently chewing on my arm and purring, so I didn't actually get OUT of bed until 9:00. We got our, got our coffee at George's Zoo (a cool little deli/market across from the SF Zoo - they make the best cappuccino in town), and went to the beach. Gorgeous day for a walk, sun breaking through ever-moving clouds and mist, warm enough for a sundress (for me, at least. Dave may wear kilts, but NEVER sundresses) and I looked forward to working off some calories and wading in the surf. Fifteen minutes down the beach, I glanced down to my left and saw a young sea lion pup in obvious distress. Way too thin, exhausted and shivering.

Another couple stopped as well and we asked them to call the Marine Mammal Center to come pick up the little guy...or gal. We would wait with the pupl to make sure it didn't get washed back out by the incoming tide or attacked by dogs. We ended up spending two hours in increasingly hot sun sitting with the pup, who sniffed our hands and arms, settled down next to Dave, and let us stroke his head and back.

We were very cautious about touching it, btw. I've worked with enough wild animals and feral felines to understand that 'cute' doesn't always equal 'cuddly.' Dave gets this too. The pup really seemed to respond to gentle tactile contact; it seemed important to give it whatever comfort we could. That being said, we wouldn't have done more than sat near it had it given any sign of being frightened or hostile. After the fact, we read the protocol on the MMC homepage and found out we should have stayed 50 feet away as they can be stressed by people or bite, but we didn't know it at the time. And as the tide came in, the pup moved unsteadily up out of the water. We moved up with it; it leaned against Dave at one point and tried to suck on his arm as if looking for milk.

Shortly after that, the folks from the MMC showed up and took our little friend away, telling us we could check on it tomorrow via their website, which lists all of their 'patients.' They were nice, very gentle with the pup, and thanked us repeatedly for staying with it. By that time my shoulders and back were very pink, it was noon, and we hadn't even gone for a real walk.

I didn't start writing till 3:30, although I did get the laundry going and a few things sorted for the garage sale. I'm sunburned and tired, probably won't get as much writing done as I wanted. But I had a unique experience and did what was, for me (and for Dave), the right thing. So I'm not letting myself stress out over the fact the day hasn't gone exactly as planned. I admit I don't always deal with the unexpected nearly this gracefully. Sometimes I spend more time stressing about what didn't go right than figuring out a way to make the best of things. I'm always pleased, however, when I can let go of my inner control freak and just go with the flow, especially where my writing is concerned.

What about you? How do you handle it when the best laid plans get blown out of the water? Do you steer around those unexpected rocks in the river or try to go through them? How much do you rely on structure for your writing time? Inquiring and sunburned writers wanna know!


Adele said...

Poor pup, glad you guys were there to take care of it.

Morgan Mandel said...

It seems rarely do things go on schedule in my life. I've learned to go with the flow. Sometimes it stresses me out, but I try to focus on what I've done and not what needs to be done.

Glad you helped the pup. Sometimes more important things crop up into a schedule, but it's good you could make time for it.

Morgan Mandel

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

So many times things don't go according to our plans!

I've started taking the approach: "I'm not going to try to catch up. I'm just going to pick right back up where I left off and reach my goal for today---not yesterday's goal AND today's." Otherwise I get too stressed out....

Mystery Writing is Murder

Cat Connor said...

I don't make plans especially when it comes to writing. I learned early on with kids, don't make plans.
Ideally today I'd like to write all morning, but I've had no sleep - and Breezy (3yr old) has been awake since 4 am. So the day will go how it goes and I'll fit my writing around it. :-)
Or not...

What a fabulous experience you had with the seal pup. I'm very weary of seals- having been chased across rocks by LARGE seals when I stumbled upon them by accident! They can move surprisingly fast for such large sluggish looking critters.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Great experience for you both, Dana. Poor little guy. We found an abandoned antelope, just hours old, that had been abandoned in our yard here in the boonies. My husband rushed to town to buy some calf milk and bottles while I took care of him, but he didn't live very long. We named him Andy and buried him in our backyard, with a little headstone. I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

Dana Fredsti said...

Luckily there were no other pups on the beach today when I went walking...still waiting to hear how 'our' little guy/gal is doing!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

That was an exciting bump in your plans. You ought to work it into a book somehow.

Life always interrupts the best laid plans.

Loved the blog and the fact that you did what you needed to do.

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Helen Ginger said...

It's always something! And they usually have to be addressed right away. But, if possible, I try to fit them into the schedule. I'm big on making to-do lists.

Straight From Hel